The Summer Expectations… and my inability to meet them

 

My kids didn’t want school to end.  In fact, the last week of school, every DAY they’d say with a sigh how much they were going to miss school.  As school got out, I’m shoved handfuls of books (pictured below), watercolored papers (pictured further below), bits of yard and half made whatnots from handwork class and phone numbers from various friends who expect to play together lots this summer.  All the mama’s and papa’s hugging, saying their summer goodbyes.  Parents taking pictures of students with teachers and teachers with students.  In the Waldorf curriculum the teacher stays with the class all the way up to 8th grade.  So it’s not a very long goodbye but the milestones between each year are special and need to be recorded.  I unfortunately forgot and had to track down my teachers later, forcing picture moments on them like the good parent I am.

waldorf book

My kids each came home with a book, the spirals removed and sewn together to create a years worth of memories and teachings they will never forget.  I’ve saved school papers before we went to this Waldorf-Inspired charter school, and they are quite plain compared to these brightly colored creations. sewing together books

…. so my whole reason for this post is the question that’s been looming in my head the whole month of May, WHAT WILL I DO WITH MY CREATIVE CHILDREN THIS SUMMER?  How can I compete with this?!  My paints aren’t this bright?!  I have a mini-ache in my back when the glue and glitter are pulled out! handmade work

My kids are so much happier if I’ve got a plan.  Even if the plan isn’t taken to the level we were hoping for, there is a PLAN.

the PLAN:

Every week will have a theme.

Every week will have a drawing lesson (I will do a future post about my drawing lessons)

Every week will have a craft or activity and something to bake.

Now I’ve got something to pull out when the time comes. And the time is usually first thing after breakfast so they feel loved and inspired.  After that I can say “go play” and they’re like “ok”.

Disclaimer: I have not successfully gotten through a week yet and I’ve twisted my knee and ankle… so my expectations to achieve these goals are LOW.  But it was fun paroosing on Pinterest.

Week 1:  Fairy Week (I wrote the theme on our chalkboard, they liked that)

Make a small fairy garden, bubble wands and bubbles, and fairy looms

Bake cereal bars

Week 2:  Maps and Exploring

Make play dough worlds (we use plastic flowers and leaves to create jungles), cut USA map out of fabric (I will use this for a future project), make each other a gift to go into a treasure box.

Write out a treasure map and hide treasure at Grandma’s house.  At the end of summer we’ll go dig up this “treasure” and see what we made each other. (hopefully won’t be eaten by bugs)

Bake granola

Week 3:  Camp Out

Make hobo dinner and campfire cones, best tent competitions, sleep out in the tree house, water blob

Bake pop tarts

Week 4:  America (or as my husband patriotically says, “Merica”)

Finish sewing USA quilt, Library research a president, paint a big sheet the USA flag and hang for the 4th

Make spinach balls

Week 5:  Rainbows

Paint the fans in our house, Tie Die T-shirts, cornstarch painting, yard twister

Bake miniature pies

Week 6:  Space and Stars

Paint styrofoam balls into planets, put together and hang planet mural, study the stars, sponge star water fight

Bake cinnamon swirl bread

Week 7: Textures and Shapes

Puffy paint on black paper, weave ribbon and plants between two logs outside, foamed soap play in pool,

Bake bread shapes

Week 8: Pirates!

Fizzy Mud play, design and make flags for your own ship, layered liquid experiment

Go on a pirate adventure (dig up the treasure you hid at the beginning of summer)

Bake cheesy crackers

 

Hope your summer is full of color, dirt, and inspiration!

waldorf watercoloring

Simple Wreath Greetings to ya!

There’s always time in each season to update my front door wreath.  I find it motivating and inspiring!  I had found these DARLING vintage lady bugs at an estate sale, which is a convenient place to find all those darling vintage somethings.  When you find these simple nothings that would seem so unimportant and make them a highlight to something important, such as a wreath on my front door, they become not nothing.  But something.

lady bug wreath

Trace a plate, guestimate how many leaves you’ve made up for how big a plate you should go for.  The plate I started with was 7 1/2 inches across and the wreath ended up being 10 1/2 inches across.   When placing the leaves on the cardboard, put a thick layer of hot glue so the leaves can sit more upright and not laying flat down.  I let the glue harden just a tiny bit, so when the paper was pressed in, they’d stand up without much babysitting.

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When making the leaves, tear out a leaf type shape (mine are 1×2″), fold in the middle, then scrunch the fold.  It’s a good project to pull out when the TV’s on to make up the amount you’ll want (mine has 76 leaves but I could have used a few more to make it fuller).  The lady bugs, I just clipped the wires off, dab on hot glue and stick it on a leaf where it’s most visible and most charming.
paper leaf

Our Waldorf School

 

My kids are an inspiration to me!  Every step in this exhausting parenthood process is so full of inspiration, it’s exhausting!

Waldorf chalk boards

I’m so very thankful to our school.  It’s a Waldorf Inspired Public Charter (which there are not enough of them in this world) and it’s influence in our home was a perfect match.  Granted not all families are able to enjoy all the benefits of the Waldorf curriculum, but our family does.

bread and challah

The school requires so much art and enjoyment of natural learning from our girls that when they come home, it just oozes out of them.  In the form of paper scraps, and yard balls, and inventions, and rocks/mud/bugs/grass/stick life.

Oh the ooze!

Such a great community

I Need Color In My Home.

I’m in love with color!

embroidery     Nothing quite pushes all those happy buttons like the color wheel.  You get a perfect combination of blues, pinks, greens, yellows, and reds together and I know the Lord delights in it just as I.  The home made of mature beige and ivory is only a background in this house.  The life that bright happy colors breathe is the kinds of air I want close.  I’ll have that air in my home.

pillow wheels

And so I made a pillow.  And I will make more to come.

Because I NEED color in my home.

hand embroidery

Pillow

Daddy and His Silhouette

The sillouhette of my dad is very comforting to me.  I find even the most subtle details of my dad’s face so familiar.  That mustache has been there since I was a babe.  Ever now and then he’ll grow a hunting beard but the mustache is a permanent fixture.  He gets told how young he looks quite often, so I think he combats it with some hair under the nose.  The glasses are new and they are now the “grandpa” part of his face.  The HAIR!  My dad has more hair that Conan and wears it with so much more grace.  He always has a comb in his back pocket and could be seen constantly doing the greasers comb stroke (minus the grease).  This was, by far, one of my most favorite projects I’ve ever done.  And it turned out so perfect for him.

Love you, Dad!

the papa

Begin by printing out a picture of your loved one.  Making the size to be as large or small as you want the silhouette to be.  Trace on the face only the promonant features.  I did a couple demos, then using tracing paper over the picture to get a better idea of how the silhouette would look.  I tried one with the glasses and without.  Also I did a couple different ways to trace the nose.  Once you’ve got the silhouette how you want it, trace it onto freezer paper.  Use a sharpie to give you strong black lines to trace ‘cuz the freezer paper’s a little thick.

cutting

Use an exato knife or very tiny pointy scissors to cut out the black in your silhouette.  Make sure to keep those tiny pieces that are not attached to your picture whole. (such as the inside of the glasses)

ironing

Once all cut, with your iron on high, press the freezer paper onto the shirt making sure to keep it center and keeping the shiny side down.  It’s a one chance thing, ‘cuz after that first ironing it can’t be pulled back up and re-ironed.  Iron on the little details.  They can trick you, so make sure that shiny side is down.  I always go slow at this point and take my time.  After all that work cutting this baby out, I don’t want to have to do it again.

painting the silhouette

Taking fabric paint, stroke the paint on.  If you’re too rough it can bleed under the wax seal that the freezer paper creates.  So go slow and stroke inward and not against the edges.  I use the paint to create thicker strokes to give the hair and mustache texture.  Mustaches MUST have texture!  I also cut out letters that said ‘I make “Grandpa” look good!’

He’s got any Ron Swanson beat!!

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Repurposed Sheets and Fort Kits

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Our home is small.  Back in the 40’s when it was built, I’m sure it was considered a decent size.  And even after a bedroom and larger bathroom addition, I bet they thought it was grand.  But when you put three kids and their parents, a dog, and two home businesses into 700 square feet, you get some very tight moments.  I’ve tried to section off the house when I’m working.  The kids can play in this area, and as long as they clean up, they can do pretty much any crazy imaginational play they want.  The routine has been to play school time, craft time, snack time, ninja sneaking/ballerina dancing time, and fort time in that order.

fort play

And almost always forts are the hardest thing to clean up.  Tears!  Tears ensue because of all the work putting it up and their expectations of sleeping in it for the night.  I never said they could sleep in it, mind you, it’s just those high hopes.

fort kit bag

So my high hopes this year was to make them a fort kit.  It was such an easy process to sew Tshirt yarn ties to the ends of sheets, I started making more and using up my vintage fabric stash.  I’ve got an etsy shop and I thought I’d test the waters to see if they’d sell (which they’re selling wonderfully).  So here’s my shameless plug for my shop, or if you’re so inclined, inspiration to put a kit together yourself.  It’s been very worth it for our tiny home.

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The idea of repurposing sheets to be used in kid play makes my heart happy!

Make un-awesome shoes awesome.

fabric painted shoes  If you’re got a pair of un-awesome shoes, perhaps consider this:

Making them awesome!

My daughter had a pair of worn out fabric shoes that had paint stains all over them.  The tips were separating from the rubber sole and they looked so shabby.  So this project wasn’t much of a risk, ‘cuz if we didn’t like it, they’d just get thrown away anyhow.  But thankfully we’re both quite happy with the end results.  The red makes them pop and the hand drawn details make it personal.

Needs:

fabric paint

paint brush

Sharpie

Un-awesome fabric shoes

un-awesome shoesHow to:

Paint the entire shoe with fabric paint.  Tape off any of the shoe where you don’t want paint.  Or run the risk, like I did, and just paint very carefully.  You can always sharpie over mistakes later.  Let it dry and put on one or two more coats.  Allow to dry completely.  Once dry, begin the best part, doodling!!  The sharpie works wonderfully.  Make sure whatever your create can be re-created on the other shoe as well.  Have fun being awesome!

red shoes waiting to be doodled on

This idea was inspired by The Hidden Seed.  Thank you Elsita!

 

 

Chocolate Pumpkin Latte

pumpkin spice latte   This is the beginning of those cold fall mornings.  It’s going to be a whole new season for me and I’m facing it by hiding behind  MarthaStewart.  There are comfort zone’s we’ve all created around ourselves and once outside those it’s…umm… less comfortable.  So if I can do these little things to help keep myself connected with the homey side I love, it’ll be that much more… uhhh… comfortable.  So here’s my fall tummy warmer: the Chocolate Pumpkin Latte (it’s really more of a coffee drink than a latte, but it’ll save me $3.50, so ya!)

 

Chocolate Pumpkin Latte

2 C. Soy/Almond/Cow/Goat milk

2 C. Super strong coffee

1.5 oz Cocoa chocolate disc (such as IBarra or even better Tazo chocolate/chili bar)

4 Tbs. Light brown sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon oil

2 Tbs. Pumpkin puree

Blend all ingredients, except the milk, together in a blender.  You can either add milk and warm on stove top or place in a jar with the milk and keep in fridge ’till ready to warm each morning.  Makes about 4-5 cups.

pumpkin latte ingredients

 

Fall Front Door

acorn front door

My front door decor for the fall consists of a sporadic amount of pumpkins and this simple piece of chalkboard I found at a school supply store.  It costs me about $3 and all I added was a strip of ribbon taped to the back.  I sketched the anatomy of an acorn I found off of pinterest.   It’s been a fun thing to come home to!

acorn anatomy

Peach Canning Adventure

canned peachesI love to can peaches!  In fact, I love to can most anything!  “Can, can, can you do the can can?” goes through my head this time of the year constantly… and gets stuck up in there bouncing around and driving me crazy.  Canning is one of the reasons I haven’t post in two weeks.  I find it very hard to do everything I want to.  So I’ve decided I will do only a few things and do them well.  And choosing which ones need to be quality work and which (like “folded” towels) are not so much quality… more quantity!  But carrying out that objective when you add all the very basic household responsibilities is a very heavy load.  Expectations of your home and yourself have to change.  I am my biggest critique.  But being a gentle, not lazy, but gentle critique helps me not get too tired or too worked up when the To-Do list gets long.  Fruit flies are my nemesis!  Jars and rings are my game!  I am Julie… hear me…  hum.   “Can, can, can you do the can can?”

It’s just a season!

I was hoping to show you all the in’s and out’s of canning but I’ve found I’m not a very meticulous canner.  So I’ll show you my strategy in a very tiny kitchen.  What’s worked over the years and what hasn’t.  How you can involve your kids but still get work done around them.  I’ve researched a couple gals that I feel do a wonderful job.  This gal and this gal, who’s a new canner, and this article on canning without sugar, are all a similar approach to how I’ve canned for years.

And it’s very simple even if you’ve never boiled a jar before.  Start with a small batch of 6 or 7 jars.  Don’t try and do it all but start small.  Especially if you have babies.  Back when my kiddos were babies, I would pace myself and do two batches.  The next day do two batches.  And then the next… ’till the fruit was all done.  It did require more clean up time but I felt it was less stressful and therefore less of a difficult impact on the home and my very patient husband.

utensils for blanchingThe night before, stash your dishwasher with jars, rings and lids so they’re all washed and ready to go the next day.  In this photo I have as many pots as I can to get the peaches going.  You need to pull the skins off with the hot water, then plunge into your cold water so it stops the cooking process.  As you get more peaches done, the process can slow down (especially if you’re boiling the jars and not using a pressure canner).  So as the process slows down I remove a pan or two, to free up the other burner for the big water canner or pressure canner.  The slotted spoon helps with the removing of hot peaches from hot water and I use it to plunge the peaches in the hot water so I won’t burn my hands from the splash.

box of peaches to canI’ll set the box of peaches up close with a tall chair.  My sink is across the kitchen, so this square is my sacred space.  That’s why God made baby gates!  I’ll put a rug down between the oven and sink to help with the water spillage so no one slips and it’s really easy to throw in the wash afterwards.

kids can help canI set my older helpers up at the sink with hair pulled back and aprons on.  Keep them up high so the juices don’t run down their arms too much and get them all wet.  We watch something simple, like Fiddler on the Roof, and they go to town pulling the peach skins off.  It’s really a very soothing process and something my little girls love to help with.  I take the peeled peaches, slice them up and straight into the jars.  I’ll put about 2 Tbs of sugar in each jar, 1/4 vanilla bean, fill with peach slices, pour hot water to fill, slide my lid and ring on and set aside to boil.  Once boiled, they get stacked in a safe place to set up for 24 hrs.  That “pop” of the pressured lid is the only thing that breaks up my “can can” song.  Happy feelings!!