Thursday, February 28, 2013

purim and hamantaschen

These days have been good. Lots of time outdoors, playing at the park, bike riding, working on the garden. Hopefully this weekend we will get a little sun and start planting some seeds! We already planted a couple of things- forget-me-nots under the apple tree and johnny jump-ups in the playhouse's window box. Now comes peas and fava beans and those early veggies and flowers. 

This weekend was Purim, which we celebrated by making hamantaschen! That's about as far as our celebrating went this year. This recipe is our favorite. In years past I have made all sorts of different fillings- I think last year we made poppyseed and apricot. This year we just used jam- a store bought blackberry and our homemade nectarine as the filling. They were delicious. We actually made them on Friday and ate them as dessert for Shabbat while watching this movie. The boys ate a whole big plate of them. We had plans to celebrate Purim in other ways, but we just felt like staying at home. Next year! 


There have been some spring-like days lately (or at least moments) amongst the rainy, grey ones. Any time there is a little bit of sun peeking out from the clouds, we all head outside to enjoy it. 

The crocuses and snowdrops are popping up in the yard and so many shoots are sprouting out of the ground. I can't wait until they all start to flower. We planted some bulbs in the fall, but many of them were already here when we moved in and I can't wait to see what they will be. It's hard to keep U from picking all of the flowers, but I am trying to teach him to appreciate them in the ground (and let him pick a certain amount to do whatever he pleases with).  He wanted to make a flower crown the other day, and this is what he came up with. He found an old plastic flower pot from the nursery and filled the holes with our new crocuses and a few snowdrops, too. Very fetching indeed. 

He has been spending a lot of time in this tree lately, he now calls it "his tree" and he can climb it all by himself. He has been trying to climb our big apple tree, but he is not quite tall enough and I can't quite lift him up there (although J did lift him up there one day when I was up there trying to prune). But this little pear tree is just his size and a nice place for him to climb and enjoy some time to himself. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

layered paintings

I try to make art often but I usually stick with watercolor/gouache and ink. I haven't stepped into the world of painting with acrylics in a long time. I checked out this book from the library and it inspired me to start painting again. In college I did a lot of painting, but since U was born it seemed too messy and involved for me to do big projects with paint. You can't quite stop in the middle of a painting to pick up a crying baby the same way you can if you were just drawing. So painting has been off the table for me (although U certainly has done tempura and finger painting at home). Now that U is getting older, I thought we should try to do a painting project together while the baby napped.

After visiting the library the other day, we decided to peek in our local art store to get inspired. We stop in there often to pick up a new pen or some fabric dye or whatever bits we need for a project. They had these super thick cardboard panels for painting, so I let U pick out the size he wanted and I chose one for myself. I told him we were going to do some layered paintings, that we would plan out and take our time with doing a little each day during S's morning nap. He was excited to get started and wanted to paint a city with lots of buildings.

So we headed home to get started. I still had some old acrylics and gesso from my painting days, so we decided to use what we had in terms of paint. That night after an early supper, U and I gessoed our boards and set out to dry. The next morning we started painting. I wasn't sure how into it U would get as he loves using markers and pens and he has much better control making shapes that way. He still isn't used to painting objects as opposed to drawing them. So I had him use pencil to sketch before he started painting. I painted a blue background and then rolled over some reddish/pink paint and practiced  wiping away color. I think next I am going to add some more paint and then maybe some ink drawings on top- not sure. U wanted to just get started with the paint instead of doing different layers, so I let him go for it. I think he is still a little young to really plan out the painting in the way I was thinking and he needs a little practice with using a paintbrush. He enjoyed it, but I think drawing is still his favorite way to make art (and he is crazy prolific with the drawings!). I loved it and it was meditative in the same way that drawing can be for me. I would love to make some really big paintings, although I will need to stock up on some more supplies. Are any of you painters? What are your favorite tools? I guess I am still figuring out the least expensive and best material to paint on. Any tips?

I would love to make some big family paintings for our walls, which are pretty bare at this point. I was waiting until we re-painted the living room to make new art for our house, but I am realizing it might take a while until we get the chance to paint and some art would be nice in the meantime.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

on the up and up

Oh, a whole week has gone by without a post! I had intended to write here more frequently and I hope to post more often soon. I am still learning about how to set this thing up, which I am sure will be a work in progress for a while.

Part of the reason for my lack of writing, was that on Valentine's Day I started to feel under the weather in a very familiar way. I spent my morning at a helper at U's school, where there were coughs and runny noses a-plenty. I was particularly exhausted after my shift so when we came home, U and I had a little rest (well, I napped and he listened to some sparkle stories). When I woke up I felt like I has mastitis, which I am unfortunately very familiar with. I went into a sort of panic, fight-it-off sort of mode and started taking lots of tinctures and drinking loads of nettle tea and such.

 I still managed to make our annual Valentine's dinner and it was delicious. We always have spaghetti carbonara with roasted brussel sprouts. I still haven't settled on which dessert we should have every year, this year I made chocolate mousse and it was divine and felt like a special treat so that might have sealed the deal. We'll see. I spent the rest of the weekend on the mend and fighting off the infection. I think I am in now the clear and successfully fought it off without antibiotics for the first time ever! I am loving the tinctures from this company, I think this one was key to keeping the infection at bay. U and I have been taking their immune boosting tinctures this winter and we haven't had a single cold or sickness yet!

We did make one outing this weekend, when I felt like I had been lying down for long enough and could use a little fresh air. We went to J's favorite brewery as kind of a late birthday treat. U and Josh go here every once in a while and U loves it. They bring a deck of cards and spend some time together. U calls it the "beer-ary" and will actually request to go. The boys also stopped by this cafe on Saturday morning and brought me back a chocolate croissant. I wasn't going to have more than a bite because I was trying to avoid sweets until I felt better, but I ended up eating the whole thing because it was the best chocolate croissant I have had in my whole life!

Today is sunny, so I am looking forward to spending some time in the garden, getting things ready for planting and maybe starting a few things. We bought a whole bunch of flower seeds last week, and I am excited to get some of them in the ground soon. I also read in this book about making a living willow play fort so I want to do a little more research on that. I am so thankful to be feeling better and able to get out today and enjoy the rare winter sunshine.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

to health and happiness!

    (A valentine U made me and wrapped up in paper)

Oh, what a week it has been! There have been a lot of medical issues for my boy lately, so this week we had to have EMT's come to our house and needed to visit to the emergency room. He is now doing fine and his take away from the whole experience was that he got to watch a funny cartoon in the hospital. I hope we can get his medical troubles squared away so we won't have to go to the hospital on a regular basis, and he won't have to miss lots of school. It is hard to see him so sick.

I was alone with both kids at the hospital, which was not the easiest thing. I just wanted to climb in the little bed and snuggle with my boy, but the baby was fussy so I ended up walking her up and down the hallway trying to get her to fall asleep. There was a big Nikki McClure print in the hallway, which was so perfect and also just so awesome to see in the hospital. It reminded me of her prints in the rooms at the birthing center where I went when I was pregnant with U. But man, I am thankful for the nurses who are so skilled at dealing with little ones and make drawing blood and putting I.V's in seem like no big thing. He wasn't scared at all which was a big relief for me. And he got juice, a popsicle, and t.v. which are definitely considered treats around here, so I think that helped ease his discomfort.

At home, we have been making valentines. This is U's first year of making them for his friends at school. We do some version of these every year, usually just for family. I just love the way they look and that he can pretty much do the whole thing himself.  When I was a kid I remember making the same ones every year, paper heart doilies which I would watercolor and sometimes add stickers

We watercolored sheets of paper and cut out hearts and U has been drawing little pictures on them and writing his friends names. We have also been making some where you draw or write with a white crayon and then paint over to reveal the surprise message. I made one for him to paint over on Valentine's morning.

We pulled out a big oregon grape plant in the yard this weekend. I love the plant in the forest, but we are trying to clear away some of the woodsy parts of our yard to make room for more edibles. We are planning to plant our plum tree where the oregon grape was. But I am saving some big roots to make a tincture with- need to do a little more research on that. When I used to backpack, we would pull up a little root and chew on it while hiking. It has a lot of immune boosting benefits and we thought it would counteract any effects of drinking untreated water. I never did get sick on those trips, although we were in pretty wild territory with fresh snowmelt to drink most of the time.

I am starting to get a little anxious for spring. On our walk to the store the other morning we spotted a yard full of new crocuses sprouting. And a few tiny irises. This is our first spring in our house and I am so excited to see what pops up. We planted some bulbs, but I have noticed there are a ton of green shoots coming up all around the yard. We did dig up a lot of huge irises to make room for veggies, but we tried to transplant them to the front. I hope they survive the move.

I can't wait for a little sunshine!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

birthdays and holly trees

We had a good, quiet weekend. J's birthday was on Friday, so it was up to him how he wanted to celebrate. He wanted to just relax and spend time at home, so that is what we did. He requested brisket and apple pie for his birthday meal, so we had that along with a yummy salad of butter lettuce and this dressing, which is absolutely delicious drizzled on top of anything. 

This is little U's decoration. He couldn't blow up the balloons, so he taped them together like a rainbow. I accidentally broke it by needing to actually open up those cabinets. We woke up early and decorated the house with streamers and things and U made him some great cards and drawings. On one card we wrote down reasons why we love Abba (hebrew for dad, which is what U calls him), and U included "We have him and he is so nice" and "he does a lot of working like he cut down the holly tree". 

Which we did this weekend. Saturday we were blessed with clear skies and even a little sunshine, so we used the good weather as an opportunity to clear some space for our soon-to-be-arriving new plants and trees. We moved into our house in the Spring and S was born about a week later, so there are many yard and house projects that we are excited to finally (hopefully!) get a chance to tackle this season. We planted up the veggie garden in the summer, but now we are ready to make some more serious changes to our yard. And by that I mean, more edibles and plants that we love! 

Our yard does already have a lot of fruit trees- we have figs, apples, pear, plum, and grapes. But most of the trees are neglected and not producing very well. We are trying to prune them ourselves, but came to the conclusion this weekend that our huge old apple tree might benefit from the help of a professional (those branches go high!). And we want to plant a lot of varieties that we actually love and will use and preserve and eat. So out with a prickly, invasive holly tree and in with an english plum! We cleared room in the raspberries for two dwarfing apple trees (liberty and a variety of fuji for J), and moved the irises and other flowers to the front yard, so we could make room for rhubarb and strawberries. 

I could go on and on about the garden and yard and our plans, but maybe I will wait for another day. I would love to share all of the new plants we are adding to the yard as some are quite exciting and new to me to grow (goji! flowering quince!). I know there will be plenty of time in the upcoming weeks and months to write about the garden and how it unfolds. Can't wait! What are your garden plans?