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Archive for the ‘Handmade’ Category

Please check out Little Acrorn Learning.  Owner Eileen Straiton encourages you to sign up for her monthly e-newsletter, all the while receving a FREE 23 page guide to March.  I cannot begin to describe all the books, wonderful ideas, crafts, menus and inspiration all piled into one.  Good stuff here for Spring!

Free guide here.

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The kind people at Earth Scouts have generously featured my blog, time and again, so I would like to direct attention their way.  Earth Scouts is a wonderful organization;  a flagship program of the Earth Charter, U.S.  I hope it grows and grows!  Recently, I joined the Badge Developement Discussion Forum.  We will be creating activities for earning badges.  See what badges already exist in this .pdf below!

EarthScoutsBadgesandPatch

A “scouting-plus” program which gives a way for children and youth to become empowered in their homes, schools, and communities in positive ways.

Did you know that you can make paper yourself? For many years paper was made by hand and therefore was very expensive. People treated it with great care, and never threw it away. They always saved it after they used it, and made new paper from it. Paper can be made from wood, cotton rags, linen fabric, grass, and many other natural products. It can also be made from old newspaper. Here’s how.

Vocabulary
■Pulp – small pieces of paper mushed up with water
Time:
■Set up: 45 min
■Activity: 24 -48 hours
You will need:
■Two and-a-half single pages from a newspaper
■A whole section of a newspaper
■A blender — Ask one of your parents or your teacher to help you use the blender.
■A measuring cup
■Five cups of water
■A big square pan that’s at least 3 inches deep
■A piece of window screen that fits inside the pan
■A flat piece of wood the size of the newspaper’s front page
Here’s What You Do:
1.Tear the two and-a-half pages of newspaper into tiny pieces.
2.Before you use the blender, ask your parents or teacher to help you. Don’t use your blender from home without your parents’ permission!
3.Drop the pieces of paper into the blender.
4.Pour five cups of water into the blender.
5.Put the top on the blender. (You don’t want to have to scrape newspaper mush off the walls!).
6.Switch the blender on for a few seconds. The paper will mix with the water and become what is called “pulp.”
7.Turn off the blender.
8.Open the newspaper section and spread it on the floor or table top.
9.Pour about one inch of water into the pan.
10.Put the screen on the bottom of the pan.
11.Measure one cup of blended paper pulp into a measuring cup and then pour over the screen.
12.Spread the pulp evenly through the water over the screen with your fingers. Feels mushy, doesn’t it?
13.Lift the screen so that the pulp stays on top of it. Let the water drain.
14.Place the screen with the pulp on top on half of the spread out newspaper section.
15.Close the newspaper section so that the edges meet again.
16.This next step is very important. Carefully flip over the newspaper section so that the screen is on top of the paper pulp.
17.Place the board on top of the newspaper and press to squeeze excess water out of the paper pulp. The newspaper section will absorb the water.
18.Open the newspaper and carefully lift the screen . The pulp will stay on the newspaper section.
19.Leave the newspaper open and let the pulp dry for at least 24 hours.
20.The next day, check to make sure the pulp is dry.
21.If the pulp isn’t dry, leave it until it is.
22.If it is dry, it is paper again. Carefully peel it off the newspaper.
23.Now you can use it to write on!
Questions to Answer
■Was it easy to recycle paper?
■How could you use the paper you made?
■Next time you go to the store notice what paper products are made from recycled paper.
■Are there any recycled products that you can use for school?
■Does your family use recycled paper products?
■How many trees are used for every person in the United States every year? (The answer is in this web site somewhere!)
■How many things can you do that will save trees?
Extension Activity – Learn more about recycled paper. What is the difference between pre-consumer recycled paper and post-consumer recycled paper?

Books

Trees To Paper
A Tree Is Nice

Re-posted from http://earthscouts.ning.com/profiles/blogs/be-your-own-paper-recycling?commentId=4791315%3AComment%3A4222&xg_source=msg_com_blogpost

Originally posted by Earth Scouts Network Administrator!

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We have added bread making to our rhythm.  Finding a good recipe and having good results has always been my hardship.  BUT, I have finally found the best recipe.  We will experiment more in the future, but building this rhythm into our schedule once a week is our goal.  Today we made some bread as well.  Wolfsion and River enjoyed kneading their own dough, watching it rise, punching it down, and baking it after naptime.  I watched the boys as they exercised their little hands, squishing and working the dough.  As we went outside for archery they each got to take their homemade bread snack with them.  The love that was put into the bread boosted their spirits, along with the weather.  Tonight we will have the lovely large loaf you see below with homemade chicken noodle soup.  YUM!  Here is my recipe.  I got it from Mother Earth News, December 2010/January 2011 Edition.  Page 38.  When making the bread in steps, and placing those steps throughout our day, it really wasn’t a big deal at all.  Next time we are gonna make double the recipe and refrigerate, or freeze the other portion for another time.

Ingredients and Supplies:

3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour (We used King Arthur)
1 tbsp softened butter
1 egg, (our own ofcourse)
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp dried yeast
1 1/4 cups of milk at room temperature
1 bread tin, buttered
1 egg, beaten and thinned with water, for brushing (0ptional, we actually brushed melted butter over our loaf straight out of the oven.)

NOTE:  If rehydrating yeast with water, subtract the amount of water you added to the yeast from the 1 3/4 cups of milk.

Put flour in a mixing bowl along with the softened butter.  Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until no large pieces remain.  Next, add the beaten egg, salt and yeast.  Holding the bowl with one hand, stir in enough warm milk to form a dough.  At this point, the dough should be raggedy and rough.

Turn onto a lightly floured board, wash your hands of dough, and with wet hands knead a few times to be sure the dough is well-mixed, then place in a clean, lightly buttered bowl and let the dough rise, covered, in a warm place.  After it has doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours), turn onto a lightly floured board.  Gently press out the gas and form dough into a rectangle to fit into a buttered bread tin.  Cover, set in as warm a place as you have, and let rise until nearly doubled.  In the meantime, preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  When the bread is ready, brush the top of the loaf with a beaten egg thinned with a little water (this step is optional).  Bake until crust is golden, about 1 hour (I only baked mine 30 minutes!)  Remove from the oven, turn out of the tin, and let cool on its side for at least 3 hours before cutting.

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Gung Hay Fat Choy everyone! (Wishing you happiness and fortune in your new year!)  I want to give you a link right off the bat.  Have your speakers and volume ready.  http://www.nancymusic.com/Gunghayplay.htm  
You will hear a song about Chinese New Year!   The song is perfectly calm and went right along with all the creative processes we were taking part in. 

When I first meditated on doing a block about Chinese New Year, my first instincts were to enter into the immediate Now.  I began cleaning my home.  I began sweeping out the old, and making room for the new.  We went through our clothes.  We went through our kitchen cabinets.  We went through our supplies, art and food.  Somehow I found myself living this process.  Then, I got to take a trip to San Antonio and really let go.  I thank Creator for arranging all this for me.

Upon returning we picked up our children.  They had spent the first couple days of February in a blizzard, up north, with Grandma.  My goal was to pick them up and ground in to our home.  Warmth, baking, soft music, aromatherapy, warm baths and beeswax candle dipping.  Transitioning from travel with children I have come to realized is an art form.  Especially if you are homeschooling.  And, even more so if you are presenting life to your children holistically.

The Story of the Chinese Zodiac (prints one page)

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/the_story_of_the_Chinese_zodiac.pdf

Here is a coloring page to go with the story.

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/chinese_zodiac_story_coloring_page.htm

Anything Chinese New Year here.  Look for the Rabbit though.

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/chinese_new_year_coloring.htm

I had fun watercoloring a silhouette of the rabbit, along with the sign for double happiness.  I did notice Wolfsion writing on our foggy kitchen storm door the chinese symbol for Happiness.  He was inspired by a stone sculpture we have.  And, we made a paper chain of red and purple.  Here is a picture of us dipping the beeswax candles together.  Dad captured the moment.

I don’t know if you can see what I can see, but there’s magic in this picture.  The magic of the candle making in the background.  The secret, the chemistry.  And in the front, River is just full of Light.  Filled with magic.

Ok, I can show you the candles now.  We are so proud of our discoveries.  I mean aren’t we bringing light to our lives?  The cool thing about all of this is being creative and happy with the mundane.  That aspect of the journey is very hard.  It is the only way to joy though, because it is a part.

Our faithful bookmobile lady also brought us the book Chinese New Year~Cultural Holidays, by Katie Marsico.  I most like the circular illustration of the moon phases.  We discussed the celebration beginning on the new moon, and ending on the full moon.  Wolfsion has already expressed the moon phases in his drawings and sketches.

To explain, I use a soft approach with this information.  The kids have been around the wheel a few times, but they are slowly waking up.  At this point, I work with their observation aspect in a soft way.  I don’t delve too too deep yet.  However, they come to me with very deep and simple findings.  Today we painted each others faces after nap time.  For Samantha she was the perfect bunny-girl.  A super hero.  And River was doing his bunny hop.  Which makes me happy and I note his movement development.  Joyful Movement is the name of a curriculum resource I have by Christophorus.  I have just began to peek inside and really integrate more movement to assist with developement.  Everytime there is new movement or strength, there is an immediate transferrence to their waking up…the brain.  It is amazing being a Witness in this human pathway.  Ok, so here’s some little bunnies.  They are far happier than they look, they are only in fear of smearing their paint.  Ayla Bear, our beautiful black dog licked Samantha’s paint right off!

The Year of the Rabbit is our destiny this Chinese New Year.  We have a nice nature table set up with white silk fabric draped over wood chunks forming a den for our rabbits.  Wolfsion has been long friends with one rabbit, who goes by Bunny Rabbit Dance.  Well this is Bunny Rabbit Dance’s family.  We take care of them by checking their stores, and even adding a stone sculpture with the Chinese writing of Happiness.  Thanks Magic Man!  The boys great uncle gave that to us at our wedding.  I would show you a picture of this landscape, but Bunny Rabbit Dance and his family are off making tracks.  It is the wrong time of day, they aren’t home.

If you don’t mind e-books though, here’s the link. 

http://www.starfall.com/n/level-c/chinese-fables/load.htm?f

We enjoy different kinds of presentations, because our world is filled with many mediums.  In traveling, I like to expose the children to low/moderate amounts of things.  We do not over-expose tv, computers, or phones, but it very much is in this world.  I do believe I am protecting the boys senses, but also slowly opening them up to things that exist.  I can’t imagine traveling to Seattle, or Germany and the boys not having been exposed previously to any of those three categories.  Storytelling, free-play, crafts, music, baking, nature and community, with the thread of Spirit ,weave together the majority of what we are made of.

Have you ever thought you wanted one thing, but when you got there, you realized that you already possessed the truer sense of what you were searching for to begin with!?  If you like wonder, magic, dragons and faraway places then you will like the book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  I got it from a beautiful blog.  This lady is an awesome teacher and student of life.  There is much inspiratation here for the family in 2nd grade.  I realized after receiving this book from my AWESOME bookmobile lady, it would only be a preview for my eyes only.  The book is just not quite for Kindergartners.  I didn’t know that, but I am very glad I had the opportunity to read it myself.  Timing is everything.  I felt able to apply the story to my life in the Now.  I hope you get to read the story about Minli too.
http://ancienthearth2.blogspot.com/2011/02/chinese-new-year-year-of-rabbit.html

“D” is for Dragon.

 In our journey we also watched a video of the Lion and Dragon dance.  We give Microsoft a shout out, because Uncle Thomas works there in Seattle, and we found this video by accident.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzvmzfxx3pA&feature=related

One of the funnest things we did though was sit at a low table on pillows.  The menu was fish and rice, chopstick style.  We happened to pick the chopsticks up in San Antonio, so the boys were happily suprised…perfect timing.  We decorated our table with a bright red tablecloth in honor of the celebration.  Nian the dragon would not be stopping by for dinner, but the Ancestors would, so we left a Spirit Plate out.  Our centerpiece was a dipped beeswax taper, set in sand.  And, there you have it.  We took about 3-ish weeks to move through all of this process.  Thanks for stopping by~

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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Here I report what appears to be a pretty cool festival of faith.  I like it because the festival includes Brigid, Brigit, or Saint Bride, as she was called.  Candlemas can be held for two days.  February 1st honors Brigid, and is also Imbolc, as I discussed in the last post.  February 1st is also seen as the first day of spring, because the light stays with us longer in the day.  Lambing and spring sowing in the agricultural realm reminds us of a new season, even though we feel it is still winter with the snow and winds around us.

Brigid is known as a Celtic Triple Goddess, but then she became revered, as a Saint, in the Christian tradition as well.  There are stories that Brigit was the innkeepers daughter, and she helped Mary escape with Jesus, by distracting the guards who searched on King Herod’s orders.  Brigit is also associated with wearing a Cloak of Miracles.  She requested a parcel of land from King Leinster, and he said to lay down her cloak wherever she wanted land.  As she did, it covered a large parcel of land.

February 2nd is Candlemas.  This is traditionally the day the church celebrates the ritual cleansing of Mary, after the birth of Jesus and also the day Mary presented baby Jesus in the Jewish Temple.  Simeon called Jesus a Light, tying him to Candlemas day.  There are stories that Mary was uncomfortable with the attention of carrying Jesus through the temple, so Brigid wore a crown of candles to distract attention, even away from the soldiers of the King.  So, Candlemas is seen as a festival of lights, as well as a day to celebrate Saint Brigid in her assistance with Mary and Jesus.

Candlemas is the day the Church officially blesses the candles being used for the year.  Families are usually allowed to bring candles from home to have them blessed as well.

Candlemas is also Groundhound Day.  A day filled with weather lore. 
Does this Candlemas saying remind you of anything?

“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright

Winter will take another flight.

If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain

Winter is gone and will not come again.”

A couple of activities to do on these days are making candles with your family for the upcoming year.  Also redecorating your nature table to reflect spring.  I have also heard of making earth candles.  You dig just a tiny hole out of the earth and place a small wick, while pouring a tad of beeswax.  You could do that all along your walk up to your door.  And, have a candlelit dinner as well.  Anything with Light celebrating the return to more light in our day, as well as acknowledging Jesus, as a son of Light. 

Finding rhythm with the year has been a goal of mine for several years.  And, as I go around the wheel of the year, season by season, I meditate on truths.  Truth is to me what I believe.  I believe truth can be different for each person, but still considered truth.  I remember growing up on a big farm, watching and learning from my grandparents.  They were agricultural, so many things applied relating to nature and spirituality.  I naturally tie the two together.  Nothing can be separated.  We are interconnected.  The animals, the trees, the season of winter, the sun, the moon, Jesus, Brigit, the Oneness, or God, Spring, planting our crops or intentions.  My point is for us all to take the time out of our busy schedules to notice where we are in the year.  Celebrate with your family.  Start traditions.  Start a nature table for yourself or your children.  How?  Use fabric the color of the season.  Use natural items you find outside, or mix the table with items reflecting the time of year. Our nature table has a white silk fabric laid out over some wood, making a rabbit den.  My boys have gathered all their bunnies and put them together in the den and outside of the den, with acorns and stored items.  There is also a candle holder with star cut outs, so that stars shine on our wall.  What is also symbolic about the rabbits is their relation to the Year of the Rabbit.  So, we are holding several types of symbolism together.  We are meditating on what the Year of the Rabbit will bring.  Fortune, and a humble walk, all the while serving Creator.

I believe we will also add seeds to our nature table, as well as starting some herb flats, with our intentions carefully sewn in the soil.  This will be, for us, a wonderful activity, along with the making of our candles.

Here is another story about Brigid and a girl named Luz.

http://thewheelandthedisk.blogspot.com/2010/02/lovely-luz-and-sweet-bridget.html

Also, for more ways to celebrate Brigid, look here, as well as some foods to include.

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/29/the-magic-of-candlemas/

Here is another blog addressing Candlemas and Imbolc.

http://celticanamcara.blogspot.com/2010/02/candlemas-imbolic-st-brigids-day.html

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Here I am publishing 2 of 3 posts of Shamus River’s 4th birthday party with his friends.  I let him decide who to invite, as it was his first friend-party.  Most everyone was local to us, and had multiple siblings, therefore the total kids added up to 14!  Were it an outside party, he could have invited a few more friends, but 14 was a lot as it was, especially inside.  It all went off without a hitch, with my handy-dandy schedule.  As everyone arrived we had over an hour to visit and free play. 

Then, I rounded everyone up to listen to the story Snowflake Bentley.  Shamus got to open this book~present up this morning, so I could read it to his friends.  I read most of the story, but realized that I should have chosen something simpler.  I found a nice spot to end the book though, and moved on to the snowflake craft. 

Right before we got out the snowflake craft I let everyone peek in their favor bag to discover treats.  We all tried on our compass necklaces and learned the direction of North, which is the Winter on the Medicine Wheel.  I also wanted the kids to have their bags to put their finished crafts in as well.  Inside the bag an American Buffalo pencil was also waiting for them.  How fun!

The snowflake craft was found in the Christmas time isles, and everyone was able to make two snowflakes.  We chose the snowflake as part of our party visual, because it is truly in line with Winter, and snowflakes are very dimensional and beautiful.

Next we headed to the kitchen table, so as to bring out the goodies!  As we were singing Happy Birthday, Wolfsion brought out a set of Melissa and Doug wooden cookies on a tray pretending it was Shamus’ birthday treat.  Shamus likes a good joke, but really wanted his real cupcake.  So, we lit up his 4 year old candle and he made a wish, on a german chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing.  Everybody dug into the cupcakes, the angel food cake and the heart shaped chocolate cake I had made.

Next up was presents, but that will be the next post I make.  I will include pictures of all his presents, which were mostly books, some wooden traditional folk toys, handmade presents and art supplies.  I had asked everyone to follow along those lines with presents, because we had just gone through 4 Christmas’ and Shamus had a family birthday party on his birthday night.  So, we had plenty of plastic or toys otherwise.  He really needed some different meaningful items.  I really appreciate those who came taking the time to color the buffalo picture we included in the invitation and all the other handmade items.  Very meaningful.  There are 3 pictures of the birthday party, and my husband had taken them, because I was otherwise busy hosting.  The rest of the pictures are of all the details that went into the party.

Once the treats were eaten and presents were open we were closing in on
5 pm, with a start time of 2:30 pm.  So, we headed outside to cast wishes in 5 pounds of black-oiled sunflower seeds.  We cast them around the fairy tree, and all the other trees, including our Grandfather Tree.  This activity has been a nice lasting treat for us, as we have gotten to see all the birds enjoy themselves, especially during the several inches of snow we got the week after the party.

Thanks again for everyone coming and thanks to my husband for being the drink coordinator, as well as keeping an eye on the children.  Not to mention clean-up time afterwards.

Here is the recipe for Wassail!  It was a warm delicious drink for the day.  The kids got to enjoy hot chocolate and marshmallows with candy canes in the drink.  YUM!

Wassail

2 qts apple juice
1 tsp whole cloves
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
18 oz pineapple juice
*Heat in a crockpot for at least an hour and a half before event, if not sooner.

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A few posts back I gave some photo~love to my youngest Shamus River, as he turned 4.  I am now ready to share some of the bits and pieces of how his celebration unfolded.  First off was the making of his crown and cape. 

This particular crown is made from felt, puchased from Michael’s Craft Store.  It is not 100% wool, as I would have perferred, but I was on a monetary and time budget.  I was inspired with this project, by the blog Frontier Dreams.  I however made up my own pattern, theme and stitching sequence.  Growing up my grandmother did not use too many patterns, but instead sewed as was necessary.  This was my approach.  I bought one stiffened piece of white glittery felt, and a plain, softer piece of white felt.  A bit of soft blue fleece for the band, some elastic, and blue felt to outline the buffalo.  Beautiful snowflake buttons jumped out at me, whilst shopping, so those found a home on the crown.  The snowflakes were a nice Winter touch to go along with the theme of Buffalo. 

Buffalo to us represents the Spiritkeeper of the North, on our Medicine Wheel.  The buffalo represents right-action and right-prayer.  The buffalo also represents give-away, balance and harmony.  The time of Winter is a time when Mother Earth’s energy goes inward to her roots, where energy is stored or gathered.  For us, we turn inward and assess our strength, and take stock of what is needed and what no longer serves us.  The time of the buffalo is a time of the Warrior, the Spiritual Warrior, One Who Stand In His Power.  Power not being an anglo-word, but a native word meaning Gifts, or Medicine.  We hope to teach Shamus River his strengths, and we use the buffalo as a means.  The buffalo is his ally.

I began by placing the felt up to Shamus’ head long-ways.  The length of the felt from the store was perfect.  There will be no trimming long-ways.  Then I simply took a sharpie and drew points of the crown.  I cut both pieces of felt together, to match. 

Next, the buttons were sewn on, evenly spaced.  I added the buffalo and light blue stripe, via a hot glue gun.  Afterwards I added the softer white backing.  This softer backing will be against the childs head and provide a softness suitable for wearing.  After pinning the backing and the front together, I sewed up the fleece band, and ran the elastic through, then attaching the elastic and band to one side, then the other.  Finally, I proceeded with blanket stitching all the way around the crown.  I had been wanting to practice this stitch, and felt I had done a good job.

In one of the pictures you can see I had a good model of a white buffalo by Wolfsion.  He was wearing one of my old shears, and the new sheep skin we got for Christmas.  He really Shapeshifted into the buffalo.  I was drawing in that energy as I sewed.

In the end, I took some light-blue poly-silk material and tied one end in a knot.  I wished I had time to purchase some china silk, but with all the planning it wasn’t in my time budget.  Instead of placing the cape around the neck, we draped the silk over one shoulder.  If I had bought more than one yard, I could have tied knots on either end and made more of a silk-like royal jacket.  Shamus doesn’t like things too tight or near his neck.

Enjoy this tutorial, and if you have questions, let me know.  I will be glad to answer questions.

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