Wednesday, June 30, 2010

corner view: summer

Corner View, hosted by Jane of Spain Daily, is a weekly photographic take on a theme, shared by bloggers around the globe.

This week's theme is: summer

We've been celebrating summer a lot around here. I really am being mindful of relaxing and having fun and it really does make things so much better!

Big sister squirting little brother.
Chicks who aren't chicks anymore, enjoying some summer watermelon with the rest of us.
Summer sunlit leaf.
The appearance of tomatoes!
Ripe plums!

For summers (or winters!) around the world:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

woody weekends

We have (or I should say Mike has) been working on a lot of wood projects lately. Not classy woodworking as I think he would like, but projects involving wood.

He finished the chicken coop. He says it looks shabby (not a proud statement), but I like it. Made to fit our small yard, this is home to our 6 chickens, when they aren't hanging out in their pen or our yard. The white tubes up the front are his clever design for their grit food. The food is poured in the top and comes out the bottom through holes the chickens peck at. As they eat it, more food drops down. The tubes are two different heights, because Isabella requested on at her height so she could continue to help feed them. (Although, she much prefers to offer them greens, fruits, and other chicky treats.)

In the midst of the chicken pen and chicken coop building, his little helpers needed a place to bang, so he made them one. A work bench all their own. Finnian, especially, loves it.

I have long since realized that things take us a long time to finish around here because of kids. Because someone has to care for them while work is taking place. When they "help" things take longer. And because dada cannot resist pausing on the project at hand to make them something special. As noted on the workbench, above, and the wooden pencils he made for the kids, below, out of sticks and project scraps.

And this woody project is mine. Our little plastic turtle sandbox has been great. I know, everyone hates plastic, but I have loved this freebie score. It's sturdy, came with a lid that fit (our neighbor has 7 cats), etc. is too little for two (plus, as we often have friends) kids who continue to love sand play. So I thought about other free options and figured the local wood pile might do. Initially, I imagined my (yes, my) wooden sandbox with vertical logs, but very quickly realized this would take a lot of logs that I would either have to dig and "plant" or secure in some way. So when I read Adrie's Rythm of the Home article, I smiled and settled on horizontal logs. Below, my first new sandbox configuration.
Nope, no sand yet. And there won't be until I (ugh) secure it. My little guy took the whole thing apart in about 10 seconds.
The finished product? Stay tuned...
(Edited to add: Yes, it will have a lid!)

What projects are you working on?

Monday, June 28, 2010


"Mamma! Mamma! Can you come here and bring the camera? We want you to take our picture!"

Last week, I took the 6-day Mindfully Mothering workshop Elizabeth and Lisa offered through Threading Light. I am left with so many thoughts, many of which I had prior to the workshop, all of which were further challenged and developed. They both led a group of moms through thoughtful meditations and practices for the week. One that I want to bring to today is gratitude.

Finn Luca learning to ride on the bike Bella got from the binky fairy so many moons ago.

Years ago, before I had kids, before Mike and I were married, my online time was spent on frugality forums. These forums included some of the most economically savvy women I might ever meet, many of whom had an appreciation for all they had (rather than self pity for all they lacked).

Born was a daily post for gratitude. Each day, members posted a list of 5 things they were grateful for that day. It was one of my favorite threads to participate in, as it always challenged me to be positive, even on the most dreary, cumbersome of days.

She's mastered the monkey bars, thanks in part to Mike, in part her own determination.

Tangential to that was (and still is!) the happy list my friend, Sarah, and I began in high school. We have an old notebook, now tattered, now held together by band aids from our little girls. The notebook is a list, an item per line, of things that make us happy. It is the list of positive pulled from negatives, and it is a time line of our friendship and lives.

"I grinning, mamma! Hee hee hee!"

So, today, with the reminder to be grateful still fresh in my mind, I share my gratitude list for today. Tomorrow, it might look a little different.

  • "Family days."
  • Mike's job and hard work ethic. (Last weekend, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself that he had to work (again) and only made it for part of his family's reunion. But in truth, he did make it, we all had fun, and we are so incredibly lucky for his employment.)
  • Do-overs. (Ever noticed how many do-overs our children give us? Both in day to day parenting and also in reliving childhood joy through their experiences.)
  • Popsicles.
  • Regional parks.
  • Learning to bicycle ride.
  • Patience.
  • One on one time with my children.
  • Mike's insane, enviable ability to do everything well.
  • Projects completed, with kid assistance.
  • Water. For drinking, spraying, splashing in, running through, feeding the garden with, and swimming in. (You know...just add water!)
  • Finnian and Isabella, who are the best of friends (most of the time).
  • Finnian, who challenges me to always be alert, keep moving, play, and who smiles (almost) endlessly.
  • Isabella, who wants me to teach her to knit then asks me to do "one more row for me mamma," who concentrates on art, but gets distracted by other activities, who has the best memory of anyone I know, and who clearly knows her own mind, especially regarding her (nick)names (something I once worried would confuse her) and currently wants to be Ella.
  • Mike, who lets me slow down on the weekends and loves us endlessly.
What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

a wholesome(ish) cookie

Wholesome Oatmeal Cookies

(C= cup, t = teaspoon, T = tablespoon)

1/2 C oil or butter
1 C brown sugar or 3/4 C honey
1 egg
1/4 C water, juice, or milk
1 t vanilla
1 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C dry milk powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
2 C oats
1 C wheat germ
1/4 C bran
1/2 C nuts, seeds, coconut, dried fruit, chocolate chips, or other dried mix.

Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Blend together well. Drop by teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 F got 10 -12 minutes until lightly browned.

(Nicola's note: We like using milk and half chocolate chips/half raisins or orange juice and coconut. We've made versions with oil, versions with butter, versions with sugar, and versions with honey. All are good and changing those doesn't seem to affect flavor or texture. I have successfully reduce the sweetener amount.)

Original recipe from Whole Foods for the Whole Family
(Edited to add: This book is different from Feeding the Whole Family, which is a favorite around here!)


Friday, June 25, 2010

{this moment}

The first homegrown, ripe plum of the season! (Edited to add: Her face is scrunched from joyful pleasure!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

mindful mothering

This week I am participating in the Mindful Mothering week put together by Elizabeth and Lisa through their Threading Light blog. While I can't share with you the daily lessons they have put together for us, I can (re) share the blog posts of mine that this week has brought to mind.

choosing happiness
my mantra

This is our first week of summer vacation, no school, and intentional focus on our Summer Manifesto (fun!).

What a perfect week to bring pause, patience, and thoughtfulness back into my parenting, where it has slipped away. I hope the very typing of these words does not cause a shift, but so far, this week has been relaxed and joyous.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

corner view: noticing

Corner View, hosted by Jane of Spain Daily, is a weekly photographic take on a theme, shared by bloggers around the globe.

This week's theme is: noticing

This week, I have been noticing bugs.

For other things being noticed around the world:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

a book bag

My friend, Genevieve, had her birthday well over a month ago. Not only was I late in making her present, but I was even later in delivering it, sending it down state with a mutual close friend, Tracy, who lives out of state and visited both of us while here in California. (I made the leaf print bags for Tracy, but Tracy doesn't read my blog and Genevieve does, so I haven't been able to share Genevieve's gift until now.)

The story is that Genevieve is a book lover and book seller. And she is determined to buy as much as possible made here in the U.S. this year. So I made her a book bag. And since I live in the U.S., I thought I ought to label it as such.

You know, for a little humor and all.

The funny thing is, Lala (5.5 yr and learning to read) looks at it and says (without hesitation), "Mamma, why does it say 'Made in USA' not 'Made in the USA'?"

Ummmm....I was speechless. Not a good answer on me. I made it without the the, because I thought that was how the store bought labels were made. I have Googled it, and they were, but not all of them and the more I look at the bag, the more irksome it is that I skipped the the.

So, the joke is on me, but the bag is still useful!

Monday, June 21, 2010


First, a very happy anniversary to my parents, who celebrate their 41st today on Summer Solstice!

We spent the weekend with Mike's extended family at a lakeside retreat. We had a wonderful time. Here are just a sampling of the dozens of images from the weekend.

We spent the weekend being goofy, on the lake, playing games, eating good food, catching up, trying new things, celebrating dads, and just enjoying each other's company in gorgeous, secluded surroundings.

I hope this week starts off well for you. I think mine will be on the mellow blogging side. This starts the first week of summer vacation and with that and the let down from a very exciting weekend, I think we will be adjusting around here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


This weekend, we are out of town with Mike's extended family, so last weekend, my parents came over for a mini father's day celebration with my dad.

My dad is amazing. He is the most youthful, active, patient nonno the kids could ask for. And with my brother, Mike, and me, he has been a proud, supportive, encouraging dad/father-in-law, who is always willing to listen. Dad, thank you. We love you.

And Mike? What can I say? I am so happy to be raising my children with someone who loves and appreciates his children so much. With someone who does what he does to give us all he can, yet is working towards being able to have more time with them. Mike, thank you. We love you!

On this day, during this celebration, my parents gifted a huge pile of vintage goodies. Three old cameras, a pile of table and bed linens, a stack of doilies, two throw rugs, four aprons, and a Christmas letter detailing tales of me and my brother, when I was 10 months old. All lovingly hand made by or belonging to my great-grandma, grandfather, grandma, great aunt, and my mom.

I love vintage finds. But vintage goodies that have personal, family history? Priceless.

My parents gifted Mike, a woodworker, with a set of library card catalog drawers, taken from the huge wall of catalog drawers at the local library before their upgrade, and placed into a drawer housing crafted by a local woodworker. Beautiful. (I am thinking to steal them for sewing notions!)

And now, we are celebrating Mike with his family out of town. His own dad died 2.5 years ago, so my only gift to Tom is to express how very much he is still missed and talked about, most especially by his grand daughter, to her brother, whom papa never met.

Lala wrapped the gift to her dada. It says:

I love you
for wud workeg.
I love that you R a talit giy
i mis you.
i with you cud
kum up to cab c---
----- with us.

I love you for woodworking.
I love that you are a talented guy.
I miss you.
I wish that you could come up to camp C-------- [last name omitted] with us.

How cute is that?!
(Mike ended up having to work Friday and Friday night, with a plan to join us Saturday. I am typing this in advance to post Sunday, so let's hope he made it. As it was, we were bummed he lost his Friday off and we decided to press on instead of going up as a family on Saturday.)

A joyous and Happy Father's Day to all whom it applies!

Friday, June 18, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} Supposed to be a single photo and no words. Oh well...

Some days, I have pangs of how big she is getting.

Some days, I am struck by how little she still is.

But everyday, I am grateful for all the wonderful people who are helping to shape the amazing person she is.

Lala's last day of kindergarten was Wednesday, when she "graduated" and moved onto "real" school, as her director put it.

I have mentioned how much we love her school, but it is her teacher who made this first year of schooling just what we could have hoped for. Loving, supportive, and enjoyable. For all of us.

We gave Mrs. C homemade toffee. She gave us a girl who now knows how to read.
"Mrs. C is magic, mamma."
(And Mrs. C gave me a thank you note and coffee shop gift card for all my participation with the class! I was incredibly touched by that.)

And after the incredibly short ceremony (which included the kindergartners singing On My Way), I took my little graduate out for lunch. Her choice, just us. Chinese food, where she ate nearly every last bite of her tofu and vegetables with brown rice, even trying and liking the water chestnuts. We chatted and I asked her what she would most like to do this summer. "Hike and camp. You choose where, mamma."

It was an entire collection of moments I want to remember.

We are headed out of town this morning for the weekend. Have a wonderful Father's Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

tea time

In our house, we have tea time. While I love coffee, I am a tea lover first, and since Mike arrives home late, often after the kids are in bed, I serve the kids their dinner separately from ours. Our kids go to bed early, so it fits that they are hungry early, too. Right about tea time.

Often, their dinner meal simply coincides with "tea time," but on this particular day, a complete tea party seemed perfect. It was arranged, flowers and all, by Isabella. The adorable thistle tea set came to me recently from my mom, who got the pieces when we lived in the U.K. many moons ago. The small tea bowls were a wedding shower gift.

(This particular tea time and the composure of this post happened sometime shortly after Mother's Day, yet I failed to hit publish. Does anyone else do that? Write for the pleasure of writing and never share the work, even if that was the intention? Sometimes I write the best posts in my head and then I forget just how I wanted to say it when I finally have the time. Anyway, I digress...I found the saved post and wanted to share it now. I only wish the "go to sleep early" were currently the case. We seem to be in an "exhausted, but sleep is overrated" phase.)


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