Sunday, March 29, 2009

Out Like A Lion

Last night we got seven inches of snow here in the Chicago are. Since the ice/snow mix also made the power go out we had to go out and enjoy the beauty of the snow sticking to the branches. The robins were everywhere, trying to puff up and stay warm. The kids and Dad had fun building one last snowman and heading off to the sledding hill with the rest of the die-hards.

It's a lot easier to take knowing real warmth is just around the corner!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dozens of Ways To Repurpose A Pillowcase by Suzanne Tourtillott

When you see the cover of this sweet book you must pick it up and flip through it. I have an addiction to craft books, and this one really satisfied!

The projects in this book are simply amazing! My artistic friend Heather doesn't need a book to tell her how to whip up something from some beautiful sheets, but I do! When I think of all the cute pillowcases I've passed up in my travels, well I know better now.

There is an adorable tiered apron (that I think would make a cute skirt for DD) project to start off. Precious pinafores and sassy tunics for ladies. How about putting two matching king size cases together to make a robe? That's just a little sampling. There are also projects for the home, a super hero cape and much, much more.

Suzanne Tourtillott's dedication sums it up nicely:
"This book is dedicated to the clever crafter-sewers everywhere who live to plunder linens. "

To see a beautiful collection of pillowcases check out my friend Sarah's post here : I don't know if she could cut up any of her beauties!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Veggies-Week 2

Week 2 of our seedlings experiment. We got a little spray bottle, so it's fun to keep the soil moist.
The seeds I saved from last year's heirloom tomatoes have sprouted.I wasn't sure about those 'cause I just spread out the seeds on a coffee filter, and saved them that way all winter.

My leeks in the Chinese take out container have come up.

The cucumbers have also germinated. I've started 5 varieties this year.

My ugly metal shelf is starting to earn it's keep! Just waiting on the peppers , then we'll be in business!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Book Review: Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

The beautiful cover of this book made my DD pick this one up. The alluring title made me start reading it. Once I started I found I couldn't put it down.

It is the story of 17 year old Kelley Winston who is just starting out on her own in New York City.
She finds a job working at a theatre that is preparing to stage "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Kelly finds herself in the role of Titania after a mishap with one
of the actresses. Shakespeare's play is the perfect backdrop to the Faerie magic that begins happening to Kelley.

Livingston uses Central Park as a portal to the Faerie World. She weaves an enchanting tale between the mortal world and the wonders of the"Otherworld". Sonny Flannery is the mysterious Gatekeeper, or Janus who guards us from all forms of dark magic. His character is very interesting and layered. The settings are realistic and beautifully painted. The fantasy makes this a fun read.

Recommended for grades 7-10

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cassaandra Clare Addict

This morning my 13 yr. old had her alarm clock set (even though it's spring break) to run out and buy "City of Glass" by Cassandra Clare. It is the third book in a series and apparently she's hooked. This is only the second time I've bought a full priced book, besides the entire Harry Potter Series. Boy am I cheap! I tried to get her to put it on hold at the library, but she claimed she couldn't wait the extra couple days.
Who am I to stand in the way of a book crush? I know she will always remember the day her favorite book came out and we went and bought it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Seeds of Hope, Week 1

I think I may have a seed disorder. I love collecting the little packets different varieties. I usually sow them directly into the garden, but thought it might be a fun project to start some early.
I've been collecting yogurt cups, pudding cups and the bottoms of water bottles for a couple weeks now.

We poked three little holes in each cup and DD placed the seeds in the holes. These are cucumbers.

I lugged this industrial metal shelf up from the basement and sponged it down. I'm all about using what is at hand. I might have to get a little spray bottle 'cause I know seeds are fussy about not having too much water, but do like to stay moist to germinate.

Here is our little seed center so far. Smack dab in my bedroom window. I'm trying to ignore the fact that it looks like a bunch of garbage sitting in my window. I'll show you how they are progressing next week. No grow lights or warming pads, so fingers crossed!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Signs of Life

The tulips are starting to poke their heads out of the soil. The miracle of life continues!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Visit To The Sugarbush

Today we went on a field trip to Max McGraw Wildlife Refuge to see how Maple Syrup is made.

I have never been to see a demonstration before and I really enjoyed it. The temperature was 19 degrees, but at least it was sunny and not windy.We started off with a hike through the woods. The staff had a fantastic history of syrup along the walk. They said that Indians actually did live in these woods hundreds of years ago. They started tapping trees for sap in the 1600s after seeing birds getting sap out of the trees. The Indians made sugar crystals with the sap, and used it in trade. Then there was an example of how the pioneers took sap out of the tree, and how they used wooden buckets. In the 1800s people started putting a cap on the bucket to keep the rain out. Here is an example of what the pail we use today looks like. Although some places also use plastic tubing that runs from the tree directly to the sugar house.
They showed us how the Indians would heat the sap to evaporate the water out of the syrup. They hollowed out a log and poured the sugar sap from the tree into the log "bowl". Then they heated rocks in the fire and placed them in the syrup. It actually started boiling right before our eyes. Very cool!
This is what they use today to make syrup. It takes 50 gallons of maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. And the whole process takes around 8 hours. There aren't any shortcuts after all these years. The sugar fog smelled so good!

In the end we all got a taste of pure maple syrup that was made right there. Heavenly goodness!If you get a chance, it's really a great trip for families to make together! And remember Maple harvesting is only done during the month of March!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Things Collected While Out Walking.....

After a long winter we've started our daily walks again. It is still nippy out, but the feeling of spring is in the air. We have a little creek that is down the street from us so our routine is to walk down there and follow it a ways. The creek swells with each rainfall, and recedes during dry spells. After the recent downpours we've had it has crested, spilling over it's banks. The usual slow moving current is now at a thundering rush. It is such a wonderful display!

During each walk we look for "treasures."Pine cones are a particular delight. Interesting rocks always find their way in our pockets. Caterpillar grass. and any kind of leaf blowing across the path. The treasure I always want to fight bringing home is sticks. I have enough in my back yard! But they never stop being magical instruments! I cherish these walks together. I know too soon I will no longer be cool to walk with. I know she'll want to walk the other way into town instead. But the best part is, she will never loose her love and wonder of nature!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Alphabet Hunt At The Library

My preschooler and I have discovered a fun game to play when we visit our local library. Before
we walk in we agree upon a letter that we are going to "hunt" for. Then we head on up to the children's section and she scans the bins for the chosen letter. When we first started the game, she would find the letter anywhere in the title. Now she can find the books that start with the chosen letter.

Here are some books she picked for the letter W.

"Willoughby & The Lion"
by Greg Foley

byDenise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan
illustrated by Cyd Moore

The bonus is you get to discover some real gems !
And you don't have to go home with a pile of pink princess books. It also adds a little structure to a sometimes overwhelming process.