Monday, May 1, 2017

I wandered lonely as a cloud....

I wandered lonely as a cloud 
That floats on high o'er vales and hills, 
When all at once I saw a crowd, 
A host, of golden daffodils; 
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. 

Continuous as the stars that shine 
And twinkle on the milky way, 
They stretched in never-ending line 
Along the margin of a bay: 
Ten thousand saw I at a glance, 
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. 

The waves beside them danced; but they 
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: 
A poet could not but be gay, 
In such a jocund company: 
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought 
What wealth the show to me had brought: 

For oft, when on my couch I lie 
In vacant or in pensive mood, 
They flash upon that inward eye 
Which is the bliss of solitude; 
And then my heart with pleasure fills, 
And dances with the daffodils.
-- William Wordsworth

In a little town in northern Connecticut, off the main road, past several old farms, beside a narrow dirt road, there is a field of daffodils.

This is not just any field and they are most certainly not planted in neat and tidy rows.  It is an old but typical New England farm.  Its not flat by any means.  There are trees scattered amongst the rocky fields with rock walls scattered about and a farm lane through the middle.  In the distance a river passes by with a small island in the middle.  But this field is different than all the rest.  Its covered in daffodils.  Under the trees, in the fields, even covering the island are thousands of daffodils.  It is amazingly beautiful.  

This isn't a public park.  There are no benches. No parking lot.  Just a field of daffodils on the side of a dirt road.  In the middle there is a plaque explaining the purpose of these daffodils.  It starts with the poem above written by William Wordsworth.  Below is written the following: These daffodils were planted for all to enjoy by Virginia and Remy Morosani  1941

This lovely couple decided to set aside a part of their land and to take the time to plant thousands of daffodils for no other reason except for the Joy of it.  The cool part was that you could feel the joy just being there.  Even on the cold, windy overcast day that we were there, we had such a wonderfully fun time.  Even as I write this a week later it fills me with joy remembering my family playing among the daffodils.

I think Wordsworth would approve.

On the way home I was thinking about the amazing thing that this couple had done.  And for no other purpose  but to bring joy to others.  Then I started to think about my time and how I spend it, for myself and my family, and what part of what I do with my time is just for joy.  Its a very small amount. Its hard, with the never ending to-do list, two kids and now a newborn.  But I want more daffodils in my life, metaphorically that is.  I want to make sure that I take a bit of time every week to do something that I really enjoy doing. I want each person in my family to have the time to do what they love to do.  

I think the next step after that would be to think of some of our good friends and how we as a family might bring a bit of joy into their lives.  There is nothing as special as brightening someones day.  What a feeling it must have been to plant all those daffodils, not knowing if it would make an impact or not.  I do hope they were able to see the impact that they made.  I certainly will always remember the day I walked in the daffodils.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Eggs Everywhere

My children have been asking to color eggs this Easter season.  We are getting ready for a week long trip to visit my family but I wanted to make sure we did this activity before we left.  We picked out this fun kit from the store and were excited to try something new.

Sadly, the box was missing all the dyes.  I quickly went to my baking cupboard only to find a few drops of yellow and red food coloring.  Enough to make some pale eggs.  Needless to say they were not so excited about this.

Thankfully my amazing neighbor was able to save the day.  They had been making Ukrainian eggs and had a jar of black and purple dye.  These made some gorgeous eggs which you can see in the back row.  The kids enjoyed decorating them and the afternoon was saved!

We also decided to try to make some felted eggs.  We took a plastic egg and wrapped it in colorful wool.

We then dunked it in warm soapy water and rubbed it all over until they felted.  Once they dry, we will make a small slit in them and slip the plastic egg out.  I've never done this before.  It was a little messy but fun. I will have to post the finished eggs tomorrow.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Starting Over

Have you ever had an experience in life that changed everything for you?  Not just a little change like wearing your hair different or changing your exercise routine ( or starting one). I mean something that comes along and WHAM! knocks you back, makes you stop, and then everything has to change.  Your plans, your future, the way you think and make decisions.  It all changes and you find yourself on a completely new path in life.  Well, it happened to me.

But, lets get started on the right foot.  Hi there! Remember me.  Yes, its still the same person.  This random post may be popping up for someone out there who thought that I had passed on from blog land.  Seeing as it has been almost five years, you would have been right.  Except, here I am.  Its that WHAM! I was just talking about.  I'll get there in a moment, I promise.  Its a good thing.  Worth the wait I would say.

So...five years... a lot happened.  My kids grew up.  I still homeshcooled.  I began a small side craft business.  My husband and I became licensed ministers and the Associate Pastors of our church.  I started trying to grow and preserve a good amount of our own food.  In essence, I got busy.  Real busy.  There was not time for blogs anymore.

Then WHAM!

I was out working the garden one day and I really wasn't feeling up to it.  Which wouldn't have been strange as the garden is a lot of work.  But I hadn't been up to a lot of things.  Every day I was getting worse.  Finally I decided to go see the doctor.  I wasn't expecting the news she gave me.  Who really is expecting it.  I sobbed.  I was in shock.

I was pregnant.

Didn't see that coming did you?  Well, me either.

I want to get one thing very clear though.  I was not sobbing about the baby, it was about the pregnancy.  I wanted more kids.  I had even been thinking about possibly trying to become foster parents.  But pregnancy?  No.  My body was not made to make babies.  My doctor told me that my son should be my last one.  It would not be a healthy choice to have another child.  But have another child it would be.  And she was definitely worth it!

Unfortunately the doc was right. The pregnancy was long and rough.  There was a lot of sitting and laying and doing of nothing.  I literally could do nothing.  No standing, no walking. no cooking. Even no knitting and crocheting!  The one thing I could do...think.  I did lots of thinking and observing.  I watched my family.  I thought about what our life was filled with and what it felt like. I thought about what was missing. The end result I did not like.  I vowed to make a change.  But what did I want our life to look like.  Thats when I remembered this blog and the early days with my older kids.  The joy of spending time with them.  Having time to get all the crafts out and make a mess.  To go on long walks and just enjoy the nature around us. Lots of laughter.  I miss all of that.

This new child is like a new start.  We have made a lot of changes already to accommodate her.  But I want to make more changes.  I can't have exactly what I had then.  My older two are now 10 and 8.  They have different needs now and definitely have their own opinions.  But I want to try.  I want to trade my busy days for Blissful Moments.  Its my hope that by documenting this, I will stay accountable to myself.  Old habits are hard to change.
( Sunset on Lake Superior this past Summer)
I hope you will enjoy joining me on this journey.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Preschool - V is for Vegetable

 For Preschool we are in the midst of a farm theme. I will do a post very soon on exactly what I am doing for preschool.  I will say though that at this point the purpose of the preschool activities is more to give Elijah some structure in the day also so that he can feel included in "school" when his sister has her school work.  We were learning V is for vegetable this week.  Sadly I was feeling under the weather so we didn't do everything planned and I often forgot to get the camera out. Some times I wish we had our own papparazi just to document our day. i was saying....vegetables....we raided our play food stash and separated out all the vegetables from the fruit.  I was pretty surprised that he knew the difference between most of them.  Then for some creative play we "planted a vegetable garden.

 I'm not sure where I got this green blanket, but it has been the best thing ever.  It is often used for different imaginative play, a mountain side, a field or in this case a garden plot.  First he planted the seeds which were little blue stones, which you can see below.  The wherever the seed was he would place a different veggie for his garden. He really enjoyed this.

We also made salt dough veggies.

Here a a few pumpkins, lettuces and a pea pod.  I would have shown you more since the plan was to paint them but the kids were too excited to wait and snagged them before we could pain and picture them.  

I also brought out this barn I had bought during a yard sale this summer.  Again lots of great play came out of this. 

 We did have one more non vegetable, learning experience this week.  Be warned the next pictures do include an animal that is no longer alive.  We had just learned about moles in our Sunday School class (even though you can't see them they leave behind evidence of their existence, just like God). Well, my father is devoted to his lawn and has been trying all summer long to catch a mole in the yard.  I will confess I was rooting for the mole! But he did succeed in getting one so I figured its rare to see a mole up close so we did a little unplanned scientific study.  It was really cool!

This guy was HUGE.  I've seen moles before but this was a monster one. I was amazed by how large his front feet were.  We noted that he had long nails kind of like small shovels on each toe and that his feet faced outward instead of inward like ours.  Also for an animal that live underground his fur was quite clean and silky looking.  We deduced that there must be something like an oil on its coat that helps keep it clean, but I haven't found anything that supports this theory yet.

That's it for preschool this week.  We'll be back next week with tractors.

Monday, October 8, 2012

You Know Who You Are...

So, I have recently been chastised for my lack of posts by a friend.  Though she may go nameless here, she will have to put up with a bit of rib jabbing.  Actually I had planned on coming back this week anyway, it has been way too long.  Things had been CRAZY busy here for a while.   You know that kind of busy where you are lucky to be wearing clean clothes and sometimes you actually forget to eat a meal.  Haven't been that busy ever?  Good for you!  I don't like it and am glad it is over.  But I figured if I don't have the time or energy to do my laundry then I have no business blogging.  Plus I figured you guys didn't want to see pictures of my dirty laundry.

So...moving on...this past week has been a good one.  We have started back into our routine of school (yes that was sacrificed as well) and I have pics and stories to share later this week.  This week was also a big one in that last night was our first freeze.  I hurried to salvage anything I could out of my garden. I also helped my friend, yep the same one named above.  She and her family own a farm and I have had the insane crazy exhausting wonderful privilege of working once a week with her in the field as she grew produce for a CSA she has. This was my third and last year being a part of this.  I have learned much, laughed a lot and made a wonderful friend. It is in honor of this friend that I have written this post.  While we were harvesting some of her beautiful produce I shared with her one of my favorite fall recipes, and I thought I would share it with all of you too!

So I present:
 Bountiful Fall Tortelini Dinner 
(with veggies from Nature's Bounty Farm)

You will need a variety of root vegetables, tortellini and Italian Dressing

Here's My line up: parsnip, rutabaga, carrot, sweet potato, white potato, red onion and garlic.

You can use any selection of root veggie you want.  Just depend on what you like or what you have on hand.  But I find the more variety, the tastier the dish.

You need to wash, peel, trim and slice all the veggies into french fry size pieces.  Toss them in a bit of oil of your choice and some salt.

After Roasting them at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes, they will be slightly caramelized and yummy.  While they were roasting you should boil some water and cook the tortellini so that it is done around the same time.

When both are done, place the still hot and steamy tortellini in a LARGE bowl.

Add in the root veggies and 1/4 - 1/2 cup Italian dressing, depending on your taste.  You can also add in some parmesan cheese if you want. The heat form the tortellini warms up the dressing giving it an amazing aroma.

Mix all together.  Serve with salad or crusty bread and you will be sure to have happy smiles all around the table.

So Amy I hope you are satisfied, not only did you get a new post, but my recipe to go with it.  Enjoy the harvest everyone!

Monday, August 20, 2012

When the kitchen looks like this... tends to scare my husband!

But don't worry, its not what it looks like, unless you think it looks like I've been canning beets, in which case you would be right.  I LOVE beets and although canning them can be a bit messy and time consuming it is well worth it to me.  I thought I would share the process I go through in case anyone out there might want to try canning some themselves.

First off, you must remove all the skin from the beets before canning.  Trust me, you don't want to have a bright red foamy mess in your storage area...believe me, its not pretty.  What I do is remove the leaves from the beets then boil them whole until the skin slips off easily. It will take a bit of time and it all depends on the size of the beets.  I usually take one out to test it.  When they are ready I put them all into a large bowl of cold water

At this point I move to the counter where I have a large cutting board where I remove the top and tail and slip off the skin revealing a beautiful, shiny beet.  Usually there are still a few pieces of skin sticking to the beet so for the next step...

 I slip the beets into another bowl with water.  This washes the beets one last time before I...

 Chop them into smaller pieces.  I used to slice the beets, but it took more time and I came too close to slicing my own finger too many times.  Now I just make chunks and it works well for me.

 Now I have a bowl of beautiful and fully prepped beets ready for canning.  Because they are a low acid vegetable, they need to be canned in a pressure canner.  Follow the directions given in your instruction booklet.

 And thats it!  I can almost taste them now just looking at them.  I might just have to go open a can for a late night snack.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Flower Smashing Science

This was an activity we did in preparation of our upcoming Nature Adventure.  We have been learning about flowers and for this activity we learned about the parts of a flower.  First we went to the garden and picked some flowers.  These happen to be zinnias.  Then using a diagram of the parts of a flower, like this one at enchanted learning, we started to pull apart the flower looking for and identifying each part.
 Here you can see the petals, the stamen and on the stem is the pistil.

 After exploring the flower parts.  We then removed the petals from several different flowers and we created a design with them on a piece of paper.

 Then came the best part, we covered it with a second piece of paper and them hit it with a hammer.  Yep, science is fun!

 Eventually we realized it would work better if we used a thin piece of wood and then pounded on that.

What we were doing was pounding the pigment out of the flower petals, leaving behind beautiful designs.

Happy scientist!