Archive for the ‘family traditions’ Category

I was looking at the Handbook of Nature Study website, and came across Outdoor Hour Challenge #10 –

Throughout this post, three different typefaces are used:
– Bold – are words from the Handbook of Nature Study website.
– Italics – are words from the book titled Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock.
– Regular – are my own words.

The website said, “Picnics don’t need to be fancy. Wrap up a sandwich in a cloth napkin, grab a piece of fruit, and some water and you are set. Venture outside even if it is only to your own yard to sit on a blanket and enjoy your lunch. Afterwards you can make time for a short period of nature study.”

So, that’s what we did today…on my 45th birthday. 

1. The challenge is to have a picnic. No need to go far or to even have a picnic table. Food always tastes better outside and if you don’t want to commit to a whole lunch, why not just a snack?

“…When the weather is warm, why not eat breakfast and lunch outside?
…Besides the benefit of an added hour or two of fresh air,
meals eaten outside are often delightful, and
there’s nothing like happiness to convert food and drink
into healthy blood and bodies.”
~~ Charlotte Mason, Outdoor Life, page 43

We ended up having a light dinner and dessert outside on the little deck.  The girls brought out pillows and blankets to sit on. 

Olivia and Sophia having dinner on the deck.

After dinner, we enjoyed French silk pie.  Sophia wanted to put candles on the pie.  They were lit in the home and mudroom, but slowly went out one by one by the time the pie got to me.  “You can still make a wish, and pretend to blow out the candles!”

Sophia bringing out the French silk pie.

Pretending to blow out the candles I said, “Oh, wow!  Look at that!  I got them all out! The best I’ve ever done!”
After you eat, sit and listen to the sounds of nature.

“Given the power of nature to calm and soothe us in our hurried lives,
it also would be interesting to study how a family’s connection to nature
influences the general quality of family relationships.
Speaking from personal experience,
my own family’s relationships have been nourished over the years
through shared experiences in nature-
from sharing our toddler’s wonder upon turning over a rock and
discovering a magnificent bug the size of a mouse,
to paddling our old canoe down a nearby creek
during the children’s school years,
to hiking the mountains.”
~~Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
We listened to nature before we ate and at times while we were eating.  The birds were singing (especially the wrens who have a nest near the deck), the swallows were flying around the backyard and then under the eaves of the barn, and the wind was blowing lightly.  It was a beautiful night to have a picnic.

The pine tree next to the deck and back of the house.
It is now taller than the house.

We spent some time looking at the vegetable/herb garden, flower garden, strawberries, and clover – all of which are subjects of other nature studies that we have done/are in the process of doing during the upcoming day or so.

The first tiger lily of the season bloomed on the 29th of June…my birthday.

2. After your picnic, spend 10-15 minutes observing your surroundings. Add anything new to your list of items observed in your focus area that you are keeping in your nature journal. Make note of any additional research that needs to be done for things your child is interested in. Make a journal entry if you wish.

We didn’t spend time after the picnic outside because the mosquitos were getting progressively worse.  The girls get rather significant reactions to mosquito bites, so it was better to go inside at that point.

The girls are interested in the tiny toads that they have been finding.  At 1/4″ long, they are very small; in fact, the smallest we’ve ever seen here.


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One of the Etsy teams I’m on is EtsyKids.  Each month there is a challenge, and for June it is “Party!” It’s all about fun, sparkle, confetti, buntings, games, and cupcakes.  By going to Etsy and using the search code EKchallengejun11 you’ll see a wide variety of party items.  Here’s the LINK that will take you directly to all the items that were made.

I chose to make a Fourth of July bunting (also known as a garland) for the challenge.  I’ve seen quite a few on the internet and thought I’d try my hand at making one. 

4th of July Fabric Bunting
Available here:

In addition to the bunting for the challenge, I also made a blue one for Olivia to use for her upcoming half-birthday in July.

Two buntings: one for Olivia’s half birthday;
and one for the 4th of July.

Buntings are a great way to use up fabric on hand or reuse fabric.  I’ve seen some buntings that are single sided and cut with a pinking shears.  However, they can only be viewed from one side.  I chose to sew two pieces of fabric together for each flag, so the bunting looks nice from each side.

Because the sides are finished, the bunting can be machine-washed and ironed. The fabric won’t fray since there are no raw edges.

When making or purchasing a bunting, most people choose by favorite color or pattern; coordinate with their home design; or match with their party/special event theme.  Custom buntings can be made (either by oneself or by hiring someone who can sew).  Imagine a bunting for a child’s birthday or graduation made from her/his clothes throughout the years.  What a special – and meaningful – decoration to celebrate a milestone. 

Buntings are reusable, eco-friendly decorations – both for festive celebrations as well as everyday decor for walls, windows, or rooms.  Rather than using decorations that are disposable and end up in a landfill, using decorations that can be used year after year is good for the environment…and is something that children (and parents) look forward to bringing out and using each year.   

What are some handmade decorations that you’ve made…or that you remember your parents using when you were a child?

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Welcome to the second time of our Fun in the Summer Sun event!

Each Monday until September 7th
Mama to 4 Blessings along with Harvest Moon By Hand,
Adventures of Mommydom, Sweet Diva, and Sweet Phenomena
will be hosting Fun in the Summer Fun link up events.

Here’s the line up:
The 1st Monday of each month: link up your “Kid-friendly summer activities”
The 2nd Monday of each month: link up your “Kid-friendly summer crafts”
The 3rd Monday of each month: link up your “Kid-friendly summer recipes”
The 4th Monday of each month: link up your “How to stay cool in the summer heat”


With the Fourth of July right around the corner, Sophia, Olivia, and I focused on creating crafts and decorations for the holiday.  I decided to take a Chinese spin on the holiday this year since there’s a Chinese connection with a symbol associated with the Fourth of July:  fireworks.

According to the Minnesota-China Connection website, “You may think that fireworks are as American as the Fourth of July, but we would not have them without Chinese inventiveness. The first fireworks might have been an accident. Legend tells that a cook discovered the ingredients for black powder, and quickly the Chinese were entertaining themselves with beautiful displays in the night sky.”

Also, origami (or paper folding) has ties to China.  Both China and Japan are countries that have a long history associated with origami.  This timeline shows the history of origami and paperfolding throughout the world.

With both Sophia and Olivia being adopted from China, having opportunities to link their birth- country and culture with American holidays and traditions, is important.

Here’s what we did:

Origami Crane Ornaments

Bare branches decorated with red origami cranes
and red, white, and blue circles.

We made crane ornaments from red scrapbooking paper as well as red, white, and blue circles (also from scrapbooking paper).  Hangers for the cranes and circles were made from a double-length of thread. 

At the bottom of the base, we put clear/white and red marbles.  Then, we inserted several bare branches.  The girls put the origami cranes and circles onto the branches. 

Sophia putting circle ornaments on the
origami crane tree.

Here are the instructions for making an origami crane:

The painting in the background behind the origami crane tree was hand-painted in China – not with a brush but entirely with his hand and fingernail.  The artist used the side of his hand or tip of the fingernail dipped in ink to create the image.  There was no design or pattern used to create the image – he just painted as he went along.  It’s a fascinating process to watch. 

Decorated Bags for Collecting Candy

A few bags that the girls made to collect candy
during the 4th of July parade.
I guess they wanted a spare bag just in case they
get a tremendous amount of candy.

Each year, we go to a parade on the 4th of July, and it seems like there’s always candy being thrown to the children.  The girls like to bring a little bag to collect the candy they pick up, so we made these bags from a variety of decorative papers and paper with Chinese printing/characters. 

The paper with Chinese characters on it is from a little booklet given out at a hotel in China.  It is from the last hotel we stayed in before heading back to the United States when Olivia was adopted.  It was in a collection of items that were brought back from China to show her when she was older.

The girls decorating brown bags with
scrapbooking paper and paper from China.

Origami Edibles

This idea came from the May 2011 issue of Family Fun.  Instead of crafting with paper, you craft with food and are able to eat it afterwards. For geometric wraps, simply trim flour tortillas into squares, spread them with fillings (e.g., peanut butter and raspberry jam; cream cheese and blueberry jam).  With red, white, and blue fillings – you have a great tie-in with 4th of July.

Olivia spreading peanut butter on
a whole-wheat tortilla. 
You could use a white tortilla
to make it fit the red, white, and blue theme.

For a puppy face treat, fold a square tortilla in half on the diagonal and then fold two corners in and down to make the ears.  You can make a face on the tortilla with fruit from the jam, olives, or food markers.

Sophia made a puppy PB&J sandwich
and used blueberries from the homemade jam
for eyes and a nose.
You can fold the tortillas any way you want – be creative!  Just make sure that you don’t put too much peanut butter, jam, or other filling on the tortilla or it won’t be able to fold properly.  Either that…or it will ooze out.  And that just doesn’t look as appetizing compared to treats with all of the contents inside them.
Sophia folded another sandwich in a different way.
It is kept closed by the stickiness of the peanut butter
(on the inside) and two strawberries from the jam
on the outside.

Besides getting ready for the 4th of July, the girls also worked on a couple of sewing and needlework projects this week.  Sophia made a lap quilt by trying six new quilting square patterns:

Lap quilt that Sophia made.
She learned six new quilting patterns.

Olivia looked through my sewing and embroidery patterns folder, and found a pattern to make a donkey.  The directions recommended sewing the donkey on the sewing machine, but Olivia wanted to sew it by hand using embroidery stitches she knew. 

Olivia using the blanket-stitch to sew her donkey. 
She completed it in less than a day.
It stands about ten inches tall.

The donkey is made from 100% hand-dyed wool felt and stuffed with wool from sheep I use to raise. 

The donkey that Olivia hand-sewed and
embroidered.  She used beads and sequins
to decorate the purple blanket.

She is so happy with the donkey she made, and now has a new stuffed animal with which she can play.

Now it’s your turn!
What is your Kid-friendly Summer Craft(s)?
We would love for you to share them!

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Each month the Unique Women in Business team does a blog hop.  This month the theme is “Wedding Bells.”   Harvest Moon by Hand is focusing on brides who want to incorporate something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in their weddings.

White window star from Harvest Moon by Hand

Many brides are unfamiliar with the origin and meaning behind the old-new-borrowed-blue custom though. This tradition stems from an old English rhyme “Something olde, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in your shoe.”

Family members and the bride’s attendants gave old, new, borrowed, and blue items and a sixpence to the bride as tokens of love on her wedding day for good luck just before her marriage.

What does each item represent?
Something old – Continuity
Something new – Optimism for the future
Something borrowed – Borrowed happiness
Something blue – Purity, love, and fidelity
Sixpence in your shoe – Wish for good fortune and prosperity (although this remains largely a British custom).  Sometimes this is adapted in the United States to be “a penny in your shoe.”

Today brides are working the old, new, borrowed, and blue objects into their weddings themselves. Here are some ideas for brides to personalize the old-new-borrowed-blue custom for their weddings.

Something Old

The old item can be an antique, an heirloom object, or a sentimental piece that represents the bride’s past.

– A locket containing a picture of the bride’s grandparents
– Antique combs, pins, or barrettes
– A baby bracelet from a family member used around the base of your bouquet
– Place an antique bookmark to mark ceremony readings
– Use a childhood pillow for the ring bearer’s pillow
– Display wedding photographs of parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents at the reception
– Have the bride carry a childhood treasure she has saved (like a ring, bracelet, locket, etc.)
– Bring out the heirloom jewelry to wear like an engagement ring or wedding band, a brooch, earrings, a bracelet, a necklace, or some sparkly hair pins
– Sew a button from one of the bride’s father’s old coats on the inside of the bride’s gown at the hem or place it in her purse
– Give the bride a vintage compact mirror for her purse
– Wear a headpiece, tiara, or veil that has been handed down
– Take some of mother’s or grandmother’s wedding gown fabric or lace and sew it inside the bride’s gown or to her petticoat
– Display a photograph of the bride as a little girl or carry it in the bride’s purse
– Carry a wedding photo of parents’ or grandparents’ in the bride’s purse (it can be copied to reduce the size if necessary)

My mom and dad when they were married in 1964.

Something New

– Find a lucky penny minted in the year of the wedding
– Buy a new lipstick in a pretty shade (the bride does not have to wear it on her big day)
– Have a custom perfume designed for the bride
– Purchase a new makeup bag or new purse to use on the day of the wedding
– Select a new jewelry item to wear on the day of the wedding like a bracelet, earrings, or a necklace
– Purchase a special guest book with extra room for guests to include a personal note at the wedding
– Pack some mints or a stick of gum

16 point window star from Harvest Moon by Hand
Something Borrowed

Some brides use a borrowed item from a long-time happily married couple for this item, but it also can be something borrowed from a friend or other relative who is symbolic of happiness.

The borrowed item should be returned to the owner following the wedding day. It is helpful if one of the wedding attendants or mother-of-the-bride returns the borrowed item to the loaner to relieve the bride of this duty. A thank you note is always appreciated and appropriate when the borrowed item is returned.

A flower in the garden can be incorporated into a bridal bouquet.
This flower is one that I helped my dad plant this year.
(He has Alzheimer’s Disease and needed help planting flowers in containers.)

– Include flowers from the bride’s parents’ or grandparents’ garden in floral arrangements at the wedding or in the bride’s bouquet
– Let the groom borrow grandfather’s pocket watch or have the bride carry it in her purse

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– Borrow the song from the bride’s (or groom’s) parents’ wedding to dance to
– Use sister’s silver knife to cut the cake with at the reception
– Borrow a book from the library that has a poem or reading that will be used in the ceremony or borrow a reading that was used at your sister’s wedding.  (See the end of this post for a book that is available at the library that has a great selection of classic and contemporary readings.)
– Borrow a button-down shirt or robe for the bride to wear while getting her hair and makeup done

Something Blue

There are unlimited ways the color blue can be incorporated into the wedding day. Keep in mind there are many shades of blue and one may work better than another for the bride depending on how the blue item will be used.

Some brides will not want blue to be a dominant wedding color and so they will prefer to limit the blue color to less visible areas. The something blue item is also an opportunity for the bride who loves blue to embrace the color blue as one of her wedding colors.

– The sash on your dress
– A bouquet of blue blooms
– A blue garter
– Sapphire jewelry
– A blue pen, for signing the marriage certificate
– Use blue confetti
– Use blue ribbon or flowers in the bride’s bouquet or on the groom’s boutonniere
– Wear sapphire, tanzanite, opals, or aqua marine jewelry

Blue window star from Harvest Moon by Hand

A Sixpence in Your Shoe

The sixpence is traditionally placed in the bride’s left shoe, but it can also be carried in the bride’s purse or sewn into the hem or lining of her gown. Including the sixpence in your shoe is largely a British custom today.

Sixpence (front)

Silver sixpence coins can be purchased from various online stores that sell them specifically for weddings, but many brides have found other ways to interpret this wedding custom by using different items and carrying the item instead of placing it in their shoes.

Sixpence (back)

– Buy a silver sixpence (an English coin) to use for the wedding
– Use an old coin from the country of the bride or groom’s ancestry (this could also double as the something old item)
– Get a mint coin for the bride to carry (this could also double as the something new item)

By choosing items of significance to the bride for something old, new, borrowed, blue, and the sixpence; this English tradition of good luck will be a significant way for brides to have with them on their special days.


To see what other members of the UWIB team created for the “Wedding Bells” theme, please take a look at the follow links:

Rita Wetzel http://ritascreativenest.com/
Judy Woodley http://wellspringcreations.blogspot.com/
Ann Rinkenberger http://harvestmoonbyhand.blogspot.com/ (you are here now)
Cory Trusty http://aquarianbath.blogspot.com/
Nancy Pace http://nancyswildwirejewelry.blogspot.com/
Trudy Miller http://mommagoddesstreasures.blogspot.com/
Linda Stranger http://capecoddreamer.blogspot.com/
Wendy Kelly http://blog.vintageday.com/
Miriam http://goldcrestbags.blogspot.com/

I was at the library a few days ago and Bartlett’s Words for the Wedding was displayed.  Since the UWIB Blog Hop was coming up, I thought I’d check out the book.  There are some lovely poems and thoughts expressed in the book – classic and contemporary.  Here’s one that I liked:
Apache Wedding Prayer
~*~ Printed in Bartlett’s Words for the Wedding ~*~
Edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Aimee Kelley
Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is only one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good
And long upon the earth.

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Last Thursday, across the United States, the real estate company Keller Williams sponsored RED Day.  Each office has its own projects and activities that aim to renew and energize aspects of the neighborhoods in which they serve.  RED Day initiatives can include refurbishing local parks, giving to food shelters, rebuilding homes, hosting blood drives, or any other project based on a need they see within their community.
I was contacted by Laurie from Keller Williams (in Maple Grove, Minnesota) after she called my parents’ church and asked if there may be a family who needs some assistance.  In talking with Laurie, I shared with her some of the ways they have shared their time, talents, and gifts with others.  
My dad used to be the Deacon of his church.  He and my mom were one of the original families who founded the church in the mid-1970s. 
My dad when he was in the seminary to become a priest.
He changed his mind, and later went through training with my mom
to become a Deacon in his church.
Since that time, they both started and led activities and trips with the Gad-Abouts – a senior group at their church.  They stopped leading the group a few years ago due to my mom’s mobility issues.
My mom co-started and continues to host the Angel Quilters at her home bi-weekly.  The ladies made quilts that are donated to people who are homeless, been through a natural disaster, or who were in domestic violence situations and are starting thier lives over.
My dad with my brother (right side) and
neighbor/my brother’s friend (left side). 
They both became Eagle Scouts while my dad was their Boy Scout leader.
For his career, my dad was a school social worker at two different schools (senior and junior high).  He was a Boy Scout leader, and helped guide many boys to becoming Eagle Scouts.  He led many trips to northern Minnesota as well as throughout the U.S. to help boys learn how to camp, fish, and gain outdooor skills.
He was a Big Brother (as part of the Big Brother/Little Brother program) to many boys who are now men in their 50s-60s. 
My mom led Girl Scout troops, a 4-H club, and has volunteered in many ways through her church. 
Currently, they are both facing health challenges – my dad with Alzheimer’s Disease, and mom with mobility issues, diabetes, and vision problems.  They would like to stay in their home, but the upkeep as well as several features make it challenging. 
Keller Williams stepped in and made many improvements to their home to make it safer for them plus help with outdoor maintenance which had been done as well as in the past due to my father having Alzheimer’s Disease, and the impact it has had on his skills and abilities.

I was there for the entire day while work was being done by over 30 volunteers.  It was with great joy that I was able to see members from the community give back to my parents – two people who have given of themselves throughout their entire lives.  It was one of most inspiring and meaningful days that I have ever experienced.
My dad is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, and was having a difficult day initially.  He was very confused and concerned when the volunteers began arriving.  However, when he had the opportunity to walk outside and talk with the volunteers from Keller Williams, he was put at ease by their care and compassion. 
Several volunteers talked with him one-on-one, and provided assurance to him that what was important to him in the garden and yard would stay right there so he could continue to enjoy it.  They affirmed who he is…and acknowledged all the work that he had done through the years.  This was incredibly meaningful, and helped him be more comfortable with and enjoy what was happening that day.
Keller Williams asked several contractors to help address some of the safety issues in the home.  Different individuals worked on various projects, depending on their specialty.  During the day, handrails were installed on the staircases, grab bars were intalled in the shower, a gate added to the vegetable garden for safer access (so my dad wouldn’t step over the existing fence and fall like he did last summer), and the dock repaired.  Having these items addressed provides a tremendous amount of comfort and peace of mind to my sister, brother, and me. 
Two new grab bars were placed in my dad’s shower
to make it safer as he ages and
deals with the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. 

My parents hope to stay in their home (rather than go to a nursing home), and these improvements to their home and yard will make it much safer for them to stay there.  The double handrails on the staircases also will allow my mom (who has a lot of difficulty walking) to be able to access both floors of the home which was challenging…at best…before the new handrails were installed.

New handrails in my parents’ home to make it
safer and more accessible.
A company that Keller Williams contacted donated its time to cleaning my parents’ windows. My mom is still talking about the windows and how clear and beautiful they are, now that they are washed.  What a tremendous difference clean windows can make! 
Volunteers also created a bird watching area for my dad which has already brought him a lot happiness. He loves to see them eat and drink water.  As his disease has progressed, he has been spending more time sitting in the chair by the window. 

Now, having all the bird feeders and bird bath set up close to the window so he can see the birds is wonderful, and gives him something to talk about with us as well as his friends at Open Circle (the adult day care program he attends in Hopkins)!

My dad by his new birdwatching area.
Volunteers also made meals at Let’s Dish for my parents so my mom could simply bake meals when her energy is low or she’s in pain. Having these dinners will be invaluable to making sure that she and my dad are eating nutritious food. 
Out of curiosity, I looked up RED Day and learned it was an acronym for Renew, Energize, and Donate.  (I thought it simply reflected the color of the Keller Williams’ logo.)  When I read that, I felt like that truly was the perfect description of what happened this past Thursday. 
Collectively, everyone who donated their time and skills on RED Day at my parents’ home renewed their spirit.  My mom, who is my dad’s primary caregiver, has many days that are filled with challenges, disappointments, and grief as she’s watching her husband – the man who she has loved for almost 47 years – progressively lose more skills almost on a weekly basis. 
Volunteers Helping My Parents
Volunteers working in the rain on the flower gardens
and backyard at my parents’ home on RED Day.

That being said, for her to see so many people from Keller Williams have such positive and uplifting spirits – to be literally singing in the pouring rain – to be so focused and hard-working – to be dedicated to finishing the job despite their clothing being soaked with rain – these are the things that will continue to inspire and motivate her on even her most difficult days.

From left to right: Laurie (from Keller Williams), my dad, my mom
me, and Belidna (from Keller Williams).

As my mom looks at the flowers blooming, and the hostas and perennials growing; as she’s enjoying fresh vegetables from their garden; as she’s watching her grandchildren dip their feet and hands in the lake from the dock…she will always remember and see the many people who came forward to make a difference in their lives. 

By providing well over 100+ hours of time with this project, the volunteers have energized our entire family.  As my father’s health and skills continuing to decline, his ability to maintain the yard has decreased considerably – even from last season to this one.  The outdoor work would have fallen on my sister, brother, and me…in addition to trying to help with other critical responsibilities when we visit.
RED Day also has given a very important long-term gift to our family:  the ability to create memories while we can.  By freeing our time from raking, weeding, and planting, volunteers from Keller Williams are giving us an opportunity to take my parents out this spring and summer to different places as a way to keep them both active and engaged; and as a way to build memories between parents and children; and grandparents and grandchildren. 

Taking my parents to various places during the coming months would not be possible if volunteers from Keller Williams had not done as much as they did.  Our time with our parents would be spent trying to do yard work rather than spending quality and meaningful time with them. 

RED Day has truly given our family the gift of time…and of memories that I know we will cherish in the future.  For this, I am truly thankful and feel incredibly blessed.

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Easter was on Sunday, April 24th.  The girls did some activities at home before Easter to celebrate the holiday.  One of the things they look forward to doing each year is coloring eggs. 
Olivia’s hard-boiled eggs sitting in cups of dye.
Sophia and Olivia each dyed six eggs.

The girls also made Resurrection Buns.  They each had eight triangles of crescent roll dough.  They rolled a marshmallow in dairy-free butter and then in sugar/cinnamon mix.  Next, they wrapped the dough around the marshmallow and made sure there were no holes.  They baked them and when they came out of the oven, the marshmallow had melted leaving a gooey mess of melted marshmallow, butter, cinnamon, and sugar. 

The Resurrection Buns have no nutritional value and are very unhealthy.  Yet, they tie in with the Easter story…that’s the justification for making and enjoying them!

Sophia making her batch of Resurrection buns.

A new thing we made this year were Italian Easter Egg Baskets.  They are called Pupa Cu L’ova and basically they are dough wrapped around a dyed, hard-boiled egg.

Olivia with the baked (but undecorated) Pupa Cu L’ova.

After the dough-basket is cool, it is frosted and decorated with sprinkles.

The idea came from a recent issue of Living Crafts magazine.  They didn’t have a name for it in the magazine, only an explanation that the magazine editor’s daughter received one of these pastries from her teacher at her Waldorf school. 

Sophia’s and Olivia’s Italian Easter Egg Baskets.
They want to do them again next year.

For breakfast, one of the recipes I tried this year was from a past issue of Family Fun magazine.  Basically, it is making scrambled eggs and putting them in hash-brown baskets/nests that were baked in the oven. 

After breakfast, the girls sang in the children’s choir.  They both did a nice job singing.

We went over my parents’ home to have Easter dinner and to celebrate my mom’s 81st birthday which falls directly on Easter this year.  In her 81 years, she said that this was the first time that Easter was ever on her birthday.  “It’s been on the 23rd, but never on the 24th,” she said.

Olivia holding the Easter lamb cake that she helped make and decorate.
For many years now, she has wanted to help make this cake.

Having Easter lunch at my mom and dad’s home.
We all brought food so that my mom
didn’t have to do any cooking.

We enjoyed dessert, the children played outside on the deck, and then headed down to the dock to play in the lake.  They played games outside and had fun spending time together.

Inside, my mom opened birthday gifts and she handed out Easter baskets that she made for each of the children. 

My mom opening a present from my dad.
My dad wasn’t able to get a card and gifts this year
since he no longer can drive (due to Alzheimer’s Disease).
So my sister and I got some gifts for him to give to my mom. 
Needless to say, she was very surprised and teary as she opened each gift.

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Outside my window…it’s still dark outside, but the trees are now visible against the snow.

I am thinking…I’m going to wait until Wednesday to begin the 30 Day Vegan Workshop.  It makes more sense to begin that day for me since I want to include a lesson about Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras today with the girls and make some food that ties into the day. 

I am thankful for…the quiet and peacefulness of the morning when I am the only one awake in the home.  (Well…I guess some of the cats and dogs are awake.  They go between resting and being awake.)

From the learning rooms…I’ll be concentrating on doing science lessons with Sophia and Olivia this morning. Also will be reading aloud part of The Landmark History of the American People to Sophia.  She’ll be reading aloud Om-kas-toe (a story from the Blackfeet tribe). Olivia will be finishing her unit study on Aesop’s Fables.  We’ll be learning about Mardi Gras and Shrove Tuesday today.

From the kitchen…I’ll be making pancakes for breakfast as a way to celebrate Shrove Tuesday (aka “Fat Tuesday”). According to Wikipedia, “Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foodstuffs such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure.  In many cultures, this means no meat, dairy, or eggs.”

I am wearing…a long-sleeve t-shirt, short-sleeve t-shirt, pajama pants, and warm socks.  It’s still morning…only 6:16 a.m.

I am creating…a yellow window star for a customer so I can mail it to her today. 

Gold Sunburst Window Star
This is the yellow window star that I’ll be making.

I am going…to hopefully use some gift cards to purchase a new dishwasher this week.  After doing dishes by hand for well over a month, it’s time for a new dishwasher.  Since I’m cooking three meals a day from scratch, there are a lot of dishes each day.  My time can be better spent doing other things that are more meaningful and have a greater impact.

I am reading…several books are “next in line” on my bookshelf:  Backyard Bird Secrets for Every Season – Attract a Variety of Nesting, Feding, and Singing Birds Year-Round  by Sally Roth; Parched by Heather King; and Home Safe Home – Proecting Yourself and Your Family from Everday Toxics and Harmful Household Products by Debra Lynn Dadd.

I am hoping…that today is a better day for my parents who have had some rather challenging days recently due to my dad having Alzheimer’s Disease and my mom caring for him at home. 

I am hearing…some new bird chips and calls.  I think some of the migrating birds are coming back now!  A sure sign of spring!!

Around the house…are projects that need to be done (as in repairs)…and projects that I would enjoy doing (sewing, embroidery, and cross-stitching). 

One of my favorite things…the land that this home is on.  I love seeing all the birds and wildlife that have made it their permanent or temporary home. 

A few plans for the rest of the week: organize my closet as part of the five-week Project Simplify challenge; take Olivia to the opthamologist for her quarterly appointment; go to the optometrist (for Sophia and me); and take out the bikes after the last snowfall melts this week so we can begin biking since the roads are now free from ice and snow. 

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…about a year ago at this time, there was no snow on the ground and the girls were wearing short sleeves outside.  Here they are taking Eenie for a walk around the backyard.  He was a good sport about wearing a collar and being led around by a leash. I think he was just excited to be out and exploring.

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