Friday, November 30, 2007

Beeswax Tapers.

The boys have been enjoying cozying up inside a bit more in the colder weather -- we get to read more, do more crafts and "projects", and make and bake in the kitchen.

Yesterday we made hand-rolled beeswax candles and decorated them with sheet beeswax. The boys did really well at the punching and cutting out of shapes, and rolling the candle (with a little help from mom).

Beeswax sheets
Wick (we used a "kit" which had both sheets & wick)
Beeswax sheets for decorating
Small cookie cutters or punches (fondant cutters are just the right size)

With little hands, we also used a wood hammer to help cut out the shapes from the wax, but bigger kids could do it without.
Wax paper or cork to cover table if they are hammering shapes

Cut shapes out of the decorating beeswax. We had stars, suns, and moons. I also cut out shapes and strips with scissors for them.

Follow the directions for the rolled candles...basically insert wick, roll tightly, pinch at burning end, trim other end of wick off.

Decorate the taper. Warm fingers will make the pieces of beeswax adhere.


It looks like a weekend full of cold, snow, ice, and wind -- so games and stories by candlelight with family sounds just right...maybe with a cup of warm cider and a fresh scone. Mmm.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Photo of the Day.

They say a big winter storm is coming our way...this may be the last time we can see the bare earth for awhile!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

8 things.

Lizz at Red Dirt Mother tagged me for this meme.

*link to the person who tagged you
*post the rules
*name 8 things others don't know about you
*link to 8 other bloggers

I don't usually talk much about the personal me ... to tell of things in the past, well, it is past and what does that mean now. To tell of what I wish for the future, well, we all have plans, goals, thoughts, but if it isn't realized this moment, then is it me? So to tell of the me today would be the only true insight. But then that doesn't make for a very exciting and unique list. ||yes, I edited--it was too much for me|| But I'll try. :)

1-I am tall. I was 5'10" by 4th grade, and 6' by 6th grade.

2-I don't enjoy drama or chaos. I need a peaceful, drama-free, clean environment and life. I don't mean a clean house (well, that helps), but a clean/peaceful mind.

3-I was a twirler in my youth - and as I hit my 20s and my arts college period, I performed twirling knives and fire at funky variety shows, nightclubs, and opened for Chicago bands.

4-I have several tattoos. One on my leg I got 10 years ago, and it is still very relevant to me today. It is from a painting by Lady Frieda Harris from about 1940. Here is a rough idea of its meaning:

Nuith pours the cosmic water of life over her head with her right hand and transmits it to the earth with the cup in her left hand. In the left upper corner is the Star, representing hope for the future and humanity. It represents hope, spiritual insight, clarity of vision, rebirth. She links us to our higher selves - being open to the universe, while remaining grounded. In Egyptian mythology, Nuith was the goddess of the sky and all heavenly bodies, and a symbol of resurrection and rebirth.

5-I am allergic to the world. Well, slight exaggeration. The list of allergies/sensitivities is ridiculously long and includes everything from paper products, to synthetic fragrance, most pesticides/herbicides, non-organic milk, lanolin, most house paints, many dyes, food additives, and the list goes on and on (and on) and basically encompasses every single thing in my life. But we live in a green built home, buy and use food/products carefully, and avoid triggers as much as possible while still living in a city - to keep it balanced. And that works most of the time.

6-I have always been a singer-since I can remember and have performed most of my life...sometimes when I hear a melody the words just appear in my head. Entire songs just flow in there and I can hear every single word and all of the music. When that happens I usually get goosebumps/shake, and I am brought to tears. It is an intense feeling.

7-I was a vegan for 9 years, and as vegetarian for many more. I do eat some meat now, but only from pasture raised free range animals (we buy from a local farmer whose farm we have visited).

8-I hope to live off the grid, have chickens, goats and bees, grow much of our own food, and have some acres. I think this frightens my husband. ;)

Now I must tag 8 others--there are soooooooo many interesting people out there that I would love to know more about. The thought of picking a varied and interesting group sounds like fun, so here it goes: Chole at Just Another Blog, Tiffany at Yurts N Dogs, Jodi at Daybook, Tara at Periwinkles and Pine, the mama at Adventures in Living and Learning, Elisheva at Ragamuffin Studies, and Cami at FullCircle. Ohp. 7. I need one more. So, tag, YOU are it!


Wow. My little guy is 3. Three years since the magical day he joined us.

We had a fun day. A raucous song when we woke up, a special gift, and little notes tucked into secret places. We baked his favorite star sugar cookies (his special request!), and decorated them with star and moon sprinkles. A special lunch with dad. And an evening celebration with cookies, gifts, songs, stories, and snuggles. A lovely day for a lovely boy.

He is such a spirited, lively, creative, dynamic force. Happy birthday sweet one.

Beeswax on Beeswax.

We found some beeswax votives at the farmer's market over the weekend...just what we have been looking for. We bought some decorating wax at the Yule Fair last weekend, and the boys have been itching to use it.

They stamped, hammered, pressed, and twisted. It is fun for small hands-they love the beeswax feel and smell, and to be able to use tools, well, extra bonus!

And in the end they have some funky embellished votive candles. We still have some tapers and pillars to decorate too!

Monday, November 26, 2007


We have been doing so many fun projects over the past week, it is hard to decide which to blog about! Today we took the chestnuts we got at the farm over the weekend, and the boys wanted to glue glue glue! They dipped the end in glue, then dipped it into glitter.

We let them dry, and then I strung them on embroidery floss. It is a short garland (they want to expand it after we do some pine cones tomorrow), but it is lovely!

Of course G loves to glue and glitter, but also just likes using the chestnuts for counting. Today he took his 3 wooden bowls, and counted, re-counted, sorted, divided, and arranged the chestnuts.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Boys and Horses.

Today we bundled up and went on a horse drawn carriage ride at a local farm. It was cold, but beautiful--pine trees and quiet. A had to sit right up front and ask all about the horses. The two horses (Belgians), Dick and Doc, are 12 years old and weigh about 1800 pounds each. A wanted to know about their eating habits, what type of noises they make, what they eat, how they learn certain words and sounds for stop/go/faster/slower/turn, and how much work does it take to care for them. The ride was NOT long enough for A, since there is a significant amount of information he still wanted (needed!) to know, but the gracious driver had another group to pick up, and we needed to warm up by the wood stove in the barn. The boys want to come back again before the end of the season--maybe when there is more snow!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Winter Farmer's Market.

We visited our winter farmer's market this morning. In the summer it is on the capital square, and for part of the winter it is in the local convention center right downtown. And while the winter market is smaller than the summer one, there are many great things to be found there at this time of year.

Today we bought beets, leeks, fingerling sweet potatoes, butternut squash, garlic, frost/ice spinach, fire roasted green chili salsa, and cheeses (and here) - just about all organic! We also found beeswax candles to embellish as gifts and decorations. They smell amazing.

Creamy butternut squash soup for dinner tonight...mmmm...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Melt and Pour Soap.

These extra days with dad at home means more time for being at home with family, playing games, running in the snow, baking, and doing fun craft projects. Today we made our first batch of melt and pour soap for gifts. It turned out great.

We started with a good quality olive oil glycerin soap base, good quality essential oil, soap molds, a large glass measuring cup, olive oil, and a wooden stir stick.

First, the boys took a dab of olive oil and rubbed the molds carefully, coating the entire surface so that it won't stick.

We then chopped the melt and pour base into smaller chunks (mom helps) and put the chunks into the measuring cup. The blocks were heated in the microwave for 45 seconds to start (stir), and then at 15 second intervals (stir) until full melted.

Gently stir in essential oils -- we used 1-2 drops per ounce of base. Today it was peppermint. Let it sit for a minute -- get your molds ready.

Carefully pour the base into the molds. My boys did help pour, but I held onto the pouring hand the whole time to be sure we didn't spill or splatter. Let sit for at least an hour to harden. Gently press the backside of the molds to pop out the soap.

This was our first batch so we did not use any color or texture additions. The clear olive oil base with the fresh minty smell is wonderful and they will look perfect packaged in a beautiful red organza bag (working on sewing those!), tied with a white ribbon (a la candy cane).

This ended up being a great project for the boys...they did help (although much was closely working with a grown up hand), they liked watching and participating in the process, and they LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing the result. And of course we have even more beautiful handmade gifts to give for the holidays. For our next batch, I think we may try some other fragrances, natural colorings, and maybe even some dried herbs!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Let it Snow...

The snow is here. Our first *real* snow of the season - we have had a few flakes, but nothing on the ground yet. It is thick and lush and flying around with the wind. I love the snow. We could have 4 inches by morning - the boys are going to be so excited! And, I have to admit in an odd guilty pleasure other people will think it is weird sort of way, I LOVE to shovel snow...let it come.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Giving Thanks.

Who knew this parenting gig was going to be such a wild ride. It shatters illusions, keeps us on our toes, forces us to adapt to constant change, demands focus and attention, asks us to remain in the moment, challenges all of our preconceived ideas of who we think we are and what we think about things, and awakens feelings in us we never knew we had (yes, of course LOVE and JOY, but also MANY others) .

Well, my time is running out. I have two half clothed boys chasing each other at full speed around the table, shrieking at the top of their lungs, fighting over a clear plastic soap mold, or as they call it, the "blub blub". I know each of you have these moments every day (or hour). And while they are relentless and constantly changing (the moment here has now moved on to a wild struggle with swim goggles), these moments are our lives. In this week of thanks, I am thankful for this life - every single moment of it - no matter how it comes charging at me.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yuletide Fair.

With my husband out of town for the weekend, the idea of taking 2 spunky boys to a crowded Waldorf School Yuletide Fair near Milwaukee was a bit intimidating. But we did it. And, although I didn't get as much holiday shopping done as I would have liked (well, basically NONE), we had a fun time.

There were kings and queens, court jesters and fairies, knights and maidens - all wandering the halls. There were so many beautiful hand crafted items in room after room after room. It was awesome. There were marionette shows, magic shows, musicians wandering the hallways, a pocket lady telling stories to all who would listen, the pickle man, jugglers, craft rooms, and performers and artists at every bend. The boys loved going from room to room, wondering what they would find.

We stopped for face painting, and both G and A asked for their own design (the beautiful designs offered on a chart were full face paint, which my sensitive boys cannot handle). The artists graciously agreed and painted nice pieces on their cheeks. G has the most amazing hair lately and it was particularly cute to see the girl trying to put a bobby pin in it to keep the wild curls away from her brush as she painted. He held SO still (esp. for a 2 year old!). They loved it.

We couldn't handle more than 2 hours of the crowds, and headed back home in the freezing rain. What a fun day! And while I didn't get to shop for any holiday gifts with 2 boys going this way and that, I did find the perfect birthday gift for my soon to be 3 year old. He is going to be surprised!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nature's Playground.

Nature's Playground: Activities, Crafts, and Games to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors by Fiona Danks.

It arrived. I brought it home from the library today--and just kept looking through it and reading it and looking at the projects. It is a great book for ideas of seasonal nature crafts, outdoor games, and outdoor exploring for kids of all ages. It is a book about getting outside, getting dirty, and letting kids roam and explore and finding those "wild places".

It is nicely divided into seasons, with ideas and projects for each section. The photos make me want to just live in the woods (as usual) and I cannot wait to try some fun projects like the forest mobiles, treetop spying, ice mobiles, wind flags, and colorful crowns. The end of the book adds ideas for things such as outdoor parties, beaches, and "after dark." Very cool!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More zip wallets, sew, sew, sew!

I have been cutting and sewing and checking off my list but somehow I'm still feeling a bit out of whack - how is it November 15 ALREADY? I have been doing well at the quick things--the zip wallets, library bags, cloth grocery sacks, soap covers. I have a pile of things cut out ready to sew, and I've been making paper patterns for things I like so I can make multiples. So that is good progress--it just doesn't seem late enough that next week is Thanksgiving already. Maybe I just need some snow... :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pine Cone Bird Feeders.

Today we finally sat down to do a craft we have been talking about for awhile. Pine Cone Bird Feeders. It is messy and so extra fun for the little people.

Supplies: pine cones, string or pipe cleaner, ribbon, organic peanut butter mixed with margarine or a little corn meal), bird seed.

Tie a twistie loop at the top of the pine cones. Mix the peanut butter with the margarine or some corn meal so it isn't too thick/sticky for the birds. Let the kids spoon or dip the pine cones in the peanut butter mix, spread, and then dip into bird seed. Loop the ribbon through the hole and hang on your tree. We are excited to see who will first discover our special treat.

We have one of these to make it even more fun:

Birds of Wisconsin Field Guide

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Last gasp.

I have this feeling that the past two days of unseasonably warm weather (50's) is our last gasp before the cold sits down to stay awhile. We did do some inside crafts and baking, and I have been slowly working on sewing gifts (pics soon!)--but we have enjoyed being outside. A was able to ride his bike, G to color with sidewalk chalk, and we have spent hours at parks, wandering the neighborhood, and just being out.

Happy boys.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Photographing the Photographer.

Today we had a visit from a reporter and a photographer from a local paper to interview us for an article about moms who blog. They were very nice and patient with the spunky excited little people. A was very interested in the large camera, and wanted to take pix too. He started by photographing them using my phone, and then moved on to using our digital camera. He took over 100 photos when they were here. He now just needs a press look "official".

Not too bad for a 4 year old!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

From rainforest to desert in one day.

What to do on a cold cloudy Sunday? Visit a tropical rainforest and then a desert oasis. Look at all the cool stuff. Read about all of the trees, flowers, and plants. Watch the birds.

Hope you all had a nice weekend!