Monday, August 31, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook 8-31

FOR TODAY 2009-08-31
Outside my's sunny and cool. Fall is making it's way here.

I am thinking...that I wish my husband were back home.

I am thankful girls. I brought them into the world then they became mine.

From the learning rooms...I would like to do a project with Cali today. We have several that are ongoing that I would like to tie up.

From the kitchen...Hmmm, I wish it were Chicken of the Woods risotto but alas, I've not located any yet.

I am wearing...nothing exciting.

I am creating...spore prints from a wonderful mushroom I found yesterday with Grandpa.

I am fold clothes as soon as I finish this post.

I am reading...Eat, Pray, Love although my reading time is limited so I may be reading it a long time.

I am hoping...that Mark does as well as I know he can when he flies this week.

I am hearing...Hanna Montana, again.

Around the's a wreck and I should quit doing projects with my girls so often and clean more.

One of my favorite finding new passions. Every one is so exciting.

A few plans for the rest of the week: I just want to enjoy it. To take pleasure in all that is good.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...The gift

If you'd like to see other daybooks or join in, go here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I'm on an Upcycling Kick

If you are someone I'd typically send a Christmas gift to, you may not want to read any further as I may be sending packages like the one ahead.
I think you would call this a 'kick'. I have been recycling all my cardboard cylinder containers of late to make a grouping for pens, pencils and scissors. I have an ugly little plastic drawer-thing I use and I want to gt rid of it. When I have enough containers I will tie them all together and use it on the end of my counter rather than the plastic drawers I have now.
While I was finishing a cylinder the other day I had one of those, OH that would be cool moments. And here is what I was thinking.

I think you can buy the super sized spool of Jute at Joann Fabric's for about $6.00 and you might even find it elsewhere for less. Add some raffia and a cute tag, stuff it with some tissue paper and you've got yourself a darling little gift wrap.

Of course, I am thinking Christmas but I imagine you could do this for birthdays too.
The Christmas can above is a big, wide Tang container. I would imagine coffee cans, oatmeal containers and many other things would work just as well.

These are super easy for the kids to make. Mine have done several with me. I start mine with a glue gun at the bottom(a Mom's job), then I use modge podge; painting the can while I'm wrapping, about an inch around at a time. I end the jute with a little more hot glue when I hit the top.
Do you have any upcycle ideas you'll be using for Christmas?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

God's Eye (Ojo de Dios)

The girls and I got a little hooked on making these last winter as we sat many nights at "Oliver" practice. It was a great project to keep the kids busy and they are kind of addicting.
Early this summer we decided to try our hand at making some with found sticks and driftwood rather than the purchased chopsticks we had been using.

Gearing up for a long trip for a soccer tournament I gathered some sticks for the car and threw in a package of embroidery floss. It was a little more difficult for the girls to work with then the yarn we used previously but I enjoyed it. It was comforting to work on for me on that long drive.

Cori chose colors and asked me to make one for her. It's been done since that trip back in early June however I had visions of adding something to it so I kept it aside until I found what I wanted. I finally finished it tonight.

The Huichole Indians of Mexico believed that by placing these on an alter the God's would watch over and protect the praying people. I hope that by including inspiration on this one for Cori, she will feel the Eye of God upon her, feel loved and protected and strong in her own right. It is now hanging above her bed. It says YOU ARE LOVED and LEAD, INSPIRE, POWER, CHANGE.
Now I've got to work on one for Cassi.

If you would like to work on these with your children, I would suggest starting with some bumpy yarn and chopsticks. Ask your local grocery deli department for some chopsticks. Mine was more than willing to give them to me about 10 sets at a time.

I think it is probably a project that needs little instruction but maybe soon I can add a few photos of instruction. If you need help sooner, just email me.

What to do when...

...your oldest daughter tells you she wants one of everything in the Eurosport soccer catalog. Tell her you can't afford it and make her a bowl from the magazine instead. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Cali-"Mom, guess what I have in my belly button?"
Mom- "Huh...WHAT?"
(Cali lifts shirt)
Mom- "What is that?"
Cali- "A smartie"
Couldn't be posted without explanation. :)
See more contributions for Wordless Wednesday HERE.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Taking Care of Grandpa

I cut my hand about a week ago. It was a doozy but I had to close down a tournament and there was no time for fussing over a clean, evenly sliced wound. I wrapped that baby up and off I went to load more tables, close down snack bars and so on. I probably should have gotten stitches but, well, it's healing well and things are looking good.

Now, today I decide to call Grandpa to check in. I can hear in his voice, something is not quite right. I say, "You sound tired, are you OK?" and he replies "Well, I smashed my hand a few minutes ago.".

He tells me he had a young kid from work wrap it up for him. He tells me he didn't tell his boss. He also mentions that he might go by the Dr. on his break, if he can get in.

We talk a little longer and I am realizing from his story that he is cut up and I am picturing in my mind's eye that he likely has some skin hanging with a pretty good cut. I say to him "Dad, why don't you go to the Dr. and have him cut off the extra skin so it will be clean and the skin will heal nicer." That when he casually says, "Well, if they cut off any skin they will likely be at the bone!"

Now, you will be quite proud of me. I calmly say "All right, well Dad, I'll call the Dr. and see if the old office is still open and I'll call you back." I hang up, call the Dr.'s office and describe everything he said to me. She tells me he likely has a trauma and should probably just head in.

Within seconds I am dialing his work again knowing his boss will answer. I say, "Frank, would you mind checking out my Dad's finger but don't mention I called. Also, could you page him for me."

Dad answers and I tell him he can go over anytime to which he replies he is still thinking about going on his break. Then he says "Hey Frank is here I'll call you back and I say, "Really? Oh, OK, I'll talk to you later." HA!
Those with a weak stomach may not want to enlarge this picture.

4 hours later, he's finally going home. He is sure he has altered his fingerprint.

He has to keep his hand above his head to reduce the risk of infection that comes with having a crushed bone along with a finger-tip with 18 stitches.

He's better now. But a little drained from the tetanus shot, the 3 shots of numbing junk and the i.v. they put in his arm, oh and maybe the stress of it all!

And then, as we are all shaking our heads in disbelief but grateful he is OK he says to me "Well, look at your hand, you didn't get stitches!" Well Dad, that might be because my cut didn't look like the meat I'll be cooking for dinner tonight! Just saying!

First Days of School

Like everyone else in the country, we've begun the 09/10 school year. I really wasn't ready for it this year. Of course, I say that every year. Cori really wasn't all that excited either but Cassi sure was. In her own words, "I am ready to wear all my new clothes and visit with friends I haven't seen all summer!" Cori saw her time at the beach and creating villages with her own government in the back yard slipping away and wanted no part of it.

Cori is starting her last year of elementary school. In truth, she could have gone to middle school but I sincerely believe she relishes in all the music and art she is a part of in the charter school so I thought it was the best place for her. She was so torn between wanting to attend the middle school and staying at the elementary school that in the end we made it easy for her and told her we'd be making the choice.

I'm glad we did. I know I'm hanging on a little bit but I'm OK with it. My girls are growing so fast. If I can slow them down just a little, I'll take it.

I can see their growth. Especially Cori's. It's in the way she speaks to me and the way she carries herself. Most of the time she is very self-assured. I am sure she has moments when she lacks confidence but so far, she seems to be doing well. I keep a keen eye on what I sense though. I hope that helps us navigate the potential trying times of teenage-dom.

All of the girls got new school clothes although Cali not too many since she still has so many cute clothes that the older girls passed down. I only kept the best of them and really all I have to do is pull up a box from the crawl space to make her happy!

I didn't care for either of the big girls' first day of school outfits although Cassi really couldn't be to blame since I picked hers out. I just didn't end up liking the way it fit her.

Cori picked hers out with Amber. I wasn't exactly impressed but after going through every scenario she was still sure about wearing it so, doing my best to let her make her own way through the steps of life, I let her wear it.

Today, I was a bit more pleased. She looked like what I thought she should. A typical American almost-teen-aged girl.

Cassi bought a pair of simple young girls heels this year. And she put together her own outfit again today. I thought she did pretty well. She said to me this morning " I feel so professional." I almost think she looked it too! I'm anxious to see if she is still wearing the heels at the end of the day. :)

Cori has officially turned into a shoe nut! I would admit however she got it honest. I am a bit of a shoe lover too and my mother is also. I remember the days of my childhood with my mother looking all over the house for a particular pair of shoes she needed for that day.

I only cried once on the first day of school. I know, really at 5th and 6th grade who should be crying but I did. I made both of them school survival kits with silly things in it like a sponge-to soak it all in and a rubber band-to stretch your mind this year. I also included a few candies, like a lollipop-to help you lick obstacles that you face this year and a tootsie roll-to remind you to roll with the punches. The girls LOVED them and giggled all the way to school. Cori looked at me as we were pulling in the parking lot and said "Thanks Mom, these are great!- I love you." And that is when I teared up.

You see, I remember my pre-teens and teenage years. I didn't share much. I could tell you stories now but I really remember feeling quite alone. I didn't realize that it was likely that every other girl I knew was struggling with all the same things I was. And although I would tell you that I love my Mom more than life and did then too. I would also tell you communication wasn't our strongest point. At least not then.

So, I hope I can keep a little more of that insecurity at bay for my girls by working hard at communicating better with them. And making them giggle with things like survival kits makes me think I'm doing it. I'm still managing to do fun things that keeps them loving me, me loving them and all of us enjoying our time together. And when you have happy times together, you keep talking. That's what it's all about right?

Now, let's hope they have lots to tell me after school!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

This is new for me, but I think I will enjoy trying. We'll see. if you'd like to read others, stop by The Simple Woman's Daybook Blog.

Here is mine:
FOR TODAY -2009-08-24...
Outside my window... It's raining. I LOVE rain. I wish I could play in it today.

I am thinking...that summer break ended too quickly, that I miss my big girls when they are at school.

I am thankful for...that I have them to take to school each day and that I still have another year at home with Cali.

From the learning rooms...Cali is ready to start our own 'home' school preschool. I think it will be fun!

From the kitchen...I made quiche' for the girls to take in their school lunches per special request.

I am wearing...glitter toes. We all did it together to celebrate the beginning of school.

I am creating...last night I made first day of school survival kits for the girls, just for fun. I hope they like them.

I am going... to finally clean out the fish tank today.

I am reading...on the internet, like I usually do.

I am hoping...that the girls have a glorious first day of school and I hope they miss me too!

I am hearing...Cali, missing her big sisters.

Around the's more quiet than usual.

One of my favorite hearing Cali make plans for us. There are big project plans in her future, so she says.

A few plans for the rest of the week: I'd like to finish my daily preschool plans for Cali and stick to it. I think she needs some schooling of her own everyday. A bright mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...Getting ready to leave for school

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wandering...with Grandpa

Sometimes it takes 42 years to truly appreciate the value of some things.

OK, not really but at 42 years old, I fully treasure the simplest moments with my family. One such moment, wandering through the woods with my Dad the other night.

I told you I finally made fireweed jelly. And man do we all love it! So much, that the day after I made it I was on a mad scramble to find more. I knew there had been a bunch at Grandpa's house so out I went.

Most of it had already made it's way up the stalk so it was hard to find in one localized area but Grandpa had a plan. He marched me up and down and all around his property until we filled another pail right to the top.

During our walk, I watched him. And I listened. I realized he had a lot to share. He showed me rosehips everywhere and we talked about what we should do with them.

Then he showed me his secret blueberry patch which he partakes in every night during his evening stroll. I was glad to know he was doing something healthy; walking and putting a little superfood in his body every day. :)

He showed me high-bush cranberries and low-bush too. We talked about mixing them for jelly. I will have to research that option.

We found a few watermelon berries but not enough to do much with.

And he even scrounged up 3 raspberries, which he promptly shared with me.

We noticed a couple red clover and I told him I'd read about their health benefits. I'd like to find a patch to dry and make tea with next year.

We found a few remaining dandelion puffs. They make me smile now. I once might not have mentioned that.

I also smiled when he described the end-of-the-day at the lake and how it was his favorite time of day. I could feel his appreciation for the beauty of it all. His small part of the state. I believe it's what brought him here to Alaska-that beauty.

And, we seem to agree that our next hobby-turned into daily living, should be mushrooms.

He does seem to embrace my trips out on the limb of life, thank goodness. It would be such a lonely trip with out him.

We explored. He located different varieties of mushrooms and I photographed. We talked about which ones looked like art.

We looked for some with black spores which are lacking here.

I think we agree that there is something kind of nice about them.

Fairy-like, mystical I suppose. Even as a child I remember wanting to dissect them. We even discussed fear of lacking enough knowledge to be safe. Not that we would be hindered by fear but at least we acknowledged the need for education.

Whatever it was that we we were doing as we wandered, I recognized later it all lead me back to the fact that at 42 years old, I was young enough to still long for my Daddy's attention and old enough to be grateful I have it! The value of that love, well, lets just say, I know.

And at the end, we ended up with plenty of fireweed to make lots more jelly! Whew!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fireweed Jelly

I made fireweed jelly. I've never made it before but it seems this was the year to do it.

For one, I have tried making many new things this summer, like dandelion syrup and I'm enjoying that. Two, everyone I know has made fireweed jelly this summer or so I've been hearing.

Fireweed is a beautiful stalk like flower that grows in summer here in Alaska.

Near the end of summer it reaches the end of the stalk and them turns to fluff, much like the dandelions I've come to love so much.

I've struggled with finding the time to pick the fireweed this summer. I wasn't sure I'd even manage to gather any due to all the soccer obligations I had the last couple of weeks. When Cassi got called for an impromptu soccer practice the other night I decided to use the hour to pick some nearby fireweed and give it a try.
The bees like it and so did this guy.

I used this recipe from here.

* 2 1/2 cups fireweed juice
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice
* 1/2 teaspoon butter

* 1 (1 3/4 ounce) package dry pectin
* 3 cups sugar



For fireweed juice: Harvest about 8 packed cups of fireweed flowers. Rinse thoroughly and put in 2 quart pot. Add just enough water to make water level just below top of packed flowers. (Juice should be a deep purple color when finished. If too much water is used in boiling process, juice will be a brownish color. More water can always be added after flowers are boiled to increase amount of juice.) Boil flowers in water until color is boiled out and petals are a grayish color. Ladle juice into jar through cheesecloth to strain.

Warm fireweed juice, lemon juice and butter on stovetop.

Add Sure-Jell, bring to boil and boil hard for one minute.

Add sugar and bring to full boil for one minute. Skim top of jelly.

Pour into pitcher(makes it easier to fill jars)and skim again.

Fill sterilized jars leaving 1/8 inch space at top. Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Wow! It is lovely to look at and even better to eat. And simple too.