Saturday, December 19, 2009


"May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!"
~Author Unknown

December 13,, Santa Lucia Day, is a big holiday around these parts. If you are interested in the history check out this site. We all woke before dawn, dressed in white with red ribbons, and awakened Violet's Grandparents with hot muffins and carols. This is always fun.

We decided our project for the day would be wreath making. After a little winters nap we embarked on a walk around our woods to gather evergreen, grapevine, berries and other items offered to us from nature.

It was a lovely time. We brought our finds inside and each constructed wreaths, all beautiful, but all so different.

Also, while we were out hunting for wreath accoutrement's Kalin, Noah, and Steven were setting beams into place on the house. Progress is good!!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas! Happy crafting!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. "
~Burton Hillis

Hello there again. It has been a while. I have definitely been sporadic with my posts lately. It has been hard to get in computer time. Homeschooling is working beautifully, but I must say it takes up a lot of my free/computer time. No excuses though huh?
Today we started our second annual countdown to Christmas. We began this tradition last year and really enjoyed it. It helped remind us to slow down, and enjoy little moments of the season, amongst all of the bustle that surrounds this time of year. I got my inspiration for the count down from here. We had less space this year, so I nestled the cards in a basket.
For our first day of Christmas... we opened a Christmas box. It is always a magical experience. I remember my sister and I begging my mama to unearth the Christmas boxes from the garage every year. It was like a new experience every year even though the contents were much the same. It is so wonderful to share these same moments with my little Violet.

Last year I put some of the things that we would want to get out first and labeled it OPEN FIRST! It contained our beloved Christmas books, many of which were from my childhood, CDS, movies (among which was Shrek the Halls one of our favs), the jingle bells that always go on the front door, and a few decorations. Violet spread the contents out on the floor, then climbed into the box with a stack of Christmas books. This is where she spent the next hour.

I actually captured these moments on film and then somehow deleted them from my camera. The stars are not in alignment with me and my camera lately. Instead here are a few shots of Christmas past.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


"Come said the wind
to the leaves one day,
Come o're the meadows
and we will play.
Put on your dresses
scarlet and gold,
For summer is gone
and the days grow cold."
- A Children's Song of the 1880's

A few days ago Violet came rushing inside saying excitedly "Mama it is fall and you know what we love to do in the fall!" "What?" I say "HAVE PiCNiCS!!!" She replys.

So we packed a lunch; grabbed some field guides, our sketchbooks, and a blanket and headed outside. She scouted ahead and found us the "perfect spot" and we spent the day outside. It was a lot of fun. The weather is crisp and the leaves are beginning to change. I myself love this time of year. It is renewing and energizing!!

One of the wonderful things about homeschooling is that we can take advantage of these opportunities. It felt good to take our work outside. We counted acorns and leaves. Read stories. Violet came up with an elaborate fairy story which I journaled in my notebook. All in all a wonderful day filled with successful learning.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Well Hello there. It has has been a while. The day after my last post my camera went for a swim in the Norfork river. Oops. That left me out of the blog world as I just couldn't bring myself to blog without pictures.

Ironically enough Kalin and I are back at Bull Shoals celebrating our sixth anniversary. We opted to stay the weekend, as an overnight visit just does not cut it. It has been really nice spending time alone, away. I think I am about to get a bit sappy here so be warned....
In the six years that we have been married we have faced many challenges and have more ahead of us. We are able to navigate through these together and our connection grows stronger with each passing day. It is so comfortable to be in the presence of someone that knows me, I think even better than myself. These years seem to have flown by, but at the same time, it feels like we have been together forever. He is such a wonderful father and husband...the perfect fit. One of my favorite sounds is "DADDY's HOME!!!!" squealing forth from Violet upon his arrival. I am so thankful to have found this, as some people can live their whole lives and never experience it.

Ok, I think that I have put you through enough of the sap. Thanks for reading. Good to be with you again. Enjoy your weekend.

Isn't that a sweet little birds nest. The birds used fishing line to build it. Kalin being the fisherman that he is, was quite impressed with its construction. Here it comes again... I love that he thinks to bring me these little treasures...

Sunday, August 9, 2009


"I've been thinking Hobbes--"
"On a weekend?"-
"Well, it wasn't on purpose..."
~Calvin and Hobbes

This weekend marked a milestone for our little family. Kalin, my husband turned 30. We dropped Violet off at Gammer and Gaffer's house and snuck away for the night to one of our favorite spots, Bull Shoals. It is always so energizing to get some alone time away from home, and this spot is a special one for us. We will be returning in September for our anniversary. We definitely agreed that while overnight was nice it just did not feel long enough. I think we will sneak away for the whole weekend next time.
It was a great way to celebrate his 30th. We are so lucky to have Kalin. He is such a wonderful husband and father, and brings such vibrant energy to our life.

We were able to fit some weeding and harvesting into the weekend as well. It is so rewarding eating vegetables out of the garden. I highly recommend royal burgundy bush beans. They are very prolific and have a great flavor, not to mention their deep purple hue adds a splash of color in the garden.

One of my favorite recipes this summer has been hobo packets. These used to be a hit growing up. They are so easy and a great way to use the variety of veggies that we have been harvesting out of our garden. These particular packets include ground venison (that Kalin harvested last fall), royal burgundy bush beans, tomatoes, zucchini, elephant garlic, and basil. It was very satisfying as all of the contents were things that we grew or hunted over this past year. I have to say that they were very tasty.

If you want to make some of your own just use what ever you have on hand.
HoBo Packets
Tear off a section of foil big enough to hold your contents plus some to pull up around the packet.

For the meat ground meat, chicken, or turkey works great. You can shape them into patties or meatballs. Chicken breasts are great too. You could even use fish.
Add veggies: squash, potatoes, onions, green beans, sweet potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, what ever you have.

Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs. Pull up four corners of the foil and twist the top to close. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 until veggies are tender and meat is cooked through. About 30 minutes. Kick back, sip some wine, cool off, and wait for the delicious smells to drift from your oven. Enjoy!

Friday, July 31, 2009


"Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere"
~Chinese proverb

monster toast

magic mailbox
crafting mixed media map of our farm
making monster toast
"M" mosaic
......Sorry about the total randomness of the order of my pictures, but as I have mentioned in previous posts, my computer is on the fritz.....

Our last Five in a Row unit was on Madeline, and the letter of the week (more like two weeks) was "M."We did a lot of fun activities. In addition to reading Madeline, Madeline's Rescue, and studying about France we did a bunch of "M activities."
Violet really got into making a "M"ixed "M"edia "M"ap of our farm. We used a big piece of butcher paper for the base. I cut out a bunch of different house, tree, etc shapes out of paper and magazine scraps. She used crayons, colored pencils and markers as well. We talked about the meaning of mixed media art.
In keeping with the "M" theme, we read Magic Mailbox. Then we crafted the mailbox out of a shoe box. I cut a door in the front, poked a couple of holes, and threaded a ribbon for a handle. We attached the flag to the side of the box with a brad. Then Violet added a bunch of stickers to jazz it up. We had to follow it up by writing a letter to Mimi (great way to practice those "M"s) and Grand Daddy. I can see that is going to be a part of a lot of imaginative play.

On Thursday we had a "M"onster day. We read Lamont the Lonely Monster. When I was in school, I remember that my teacher read it too us. It is the sweetest book. I loved it so much that Mimi (my mama) took me down to the local Hallmark store and bought it for me. Violet really loves it too. We followed the book up by making "m"onster toast. This recipe came out of an awesome book called Kinder Krunchies. This was first introduced to me as a child by Mimi. It is really a simple recipe.
Monster Toast
Add a few drops of food coloring to a little milk. We chose three colors. It is a good idea to make the colors really bright so that they show up on the toast.

Paint the monster face on one side of the white or wheat bread. We used wheat. You can also make the letter M on the back side of the bread.
Toast and spread lightly with butter. We made ours into monster toast peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I have to say they were quite a hit.
Tomorrow it is supposed to rain all day and we have vowed to stay home and have a family day. We are going to experiment a bit with French Food. I see some pain perdu (basically french toast) and crepes in our future. Yum! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


"Education is not the filling of a pail, but a lighting of a fire."
~William Butler Yeats

The "D" Bag

contents of the "D" bag: duck, doll, dog, dress-up, doctor

Violet making the "wise eyed boat"

recording what we learned about China in learning journal

Loading Pings 42 cousins, 11 aunts, 7 uncles, 3 brothers,
2 sisters, his mother, and father into the wise eyed boat

This was our first week of home school. I have to say it was quite successful. We are using the Five in a Row and Saxon Math Kindergarten curriculum as the foundation of our learning. We started with The Story of Ping. This was the cornerstone of our lessons throughout the week.

Since Ping the duck, lives along the Yangtze River in China, our learning revolved around China, and ducks.

Five in a Row includes story disks in their curriculum so that you can label locations of character in the books. We placed Ping on the map and made one to label our home.

We also had a tea party with the tea set my mom and dad brought back from China town. Violet thought this was very cool.

We read about ducklings, sang six little ducks, made "D" ducks,

did experiments to find out what sinks and floats, read Duck at the Door, and Daisy Comes Home (the sweetest little book about a girl who lives in China).

To conduct your own float/sink experiment:

Our experiment was based on one from a really cool book called Science Play!

1. Fill a large bowl, tupper or bucket with water

2. Go around the house and gather things that you think will float or sink.

3. Get out your learning journal and hypothesise (make guesses) the items that you think will float or sink. Write or draw those in your journal.

4. Drop the objects into the bowl one by one.

Record your findings in your journal. Since Violet is just now learning how to write her ABCs and spell words we made a key of the colors we used to denote whether the object sinks, floats, or floats and then sinks. Then we circled each object with the appropriate color.

Have fun!

Also, check out the Magic School Bus Ups and Downs: A Book About Floating and Sinking. It is a cute story and has another fun float/sink experiment in the back that you can do.

On Friday we had our first official movie night and watched Big Bird Goes to China. I think we are going to try and do this every other week it was a lot of fun. We made noodles and ate with chopsticks. Earlier that day Violet and I read Food from China. In this book they talk about Moon Cakes, a traditional food served at the Moon Festival. I had every intention of making them from this recipe. My computer would not cooperate (it has been on the fritz) so we improvised and made the cardamom carrot cupcakes from a book that Mimi gave us. They were delicious. All in all a great week.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


"More grows in the garden than the gardener sows"
~ Old Spanish Proverb

Violet and Gammer

Hopa Crab apples

Today we harvested a huge mound of elephant garlic from the garden. It is so fun digging in the soil and plucking these huge heads of garlic from the earth.
We also harvested a handful of Cubanelle peppers and a bit of strawberries.
It wont be long before we will have baskets of peppers. Cubanelles have a wonderful flavor. It is kind of a cross between a green bell pepper and a chillie. We are putting a seed order in from Pinetree Garden Seeds for a few varieties that are ready to harvest in under 40 days ad are heat tolerant. I am excited. I have been working on preparing beds for the coming seedlings.

It was also fitting that I got my new Mary Jane's Farm magazine in the mail this week, and it has an article about putting up the harvest. Oh, how I love this magazine. If you want to see a cool video of her farm hands harvesting garlic on her farm click here.