Personality Plus!

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I have four dollies right now being created at the same time.  What amazes me is how they are are so very different.  Each is cut from the same pattern, the head is wound and tied in the same manner, the body is stuffed with the same wool yet each manages to present a different look.  It’s funny, but these little variances indicate if the dolly should be a boy or girl, what color the eyes and hair should be and even what clothes to choose.  I think this personality and uniqueness is what I love most about creating Waldorf style dolls!

Happy weekend everyone!

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“Making Babies”

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Hmmmm, no, Ben and I aren’t working on a new addition to the family. This is how William refers to my dollmaking. “Mommy making babies?” he likes to say. I have always loved dolls and doll making allows me to not only make the doll but also sew the clothes, knit the sweater and create a whole personality for the doll. What could be more fun for a crazy crafter like me? The best part is that I am creating something that encourages imaginative play and emotional health in children.
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Waldorf doll making boasts a long tradition of using natural fibers and simple features to offer children an opportunity to play using their creativity and imagination. Wool is used to stuff the body so that when the child hugs his “friend” the doll warms and seems to return the embrace. Wool also washes well (yes, it’s true!), and the doll can be given a bath in the sink like a real infant. Simple faces allow the doll to reflect the mood and emotions of the child. Hair can be styled and clothes can be removed and changed. Often these dolls are cherished by their families and become heirlooms.

William has a little boy doll that doesn’t have a name yet, but has gone for rides in dumptrucks, sat on the potty chair and been hugged and read to. He enjoys looking at the dollies in progress and observes and discusses their hair, faces and clothes. I am so glad the he will grow up understanding that toys can be made by hand!

Bread from Scratch

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OMG. . . this post was going to be about chickens or dying wool fibers or gardening. . .but then I had a bite of the homemade, whole wheat bread I made this morning and all other thoughts were gently, but firmly, nudged aside. 

I love baking.  I love how it makes the kitchen (and whole house) smell like a cozy home.  I love the challenge of trying new recipes.  I love creating something comforting for my family.  Although I bake lots of cookies and cakes, there is nothing quite like homemade bread for that traditional, “homey” experience.  And good old sandwich bread is the best for the smell, flavor and experience. 

My husband scientifically bakes sophisticated peasant loaves using starter, measurements in grams and an “autolace” period (I still refuse to try to figure that out).  The bread is consistently wonderful with a perfect crumb and crusty outside.  It smells good and our family eagerly looks forward to it but it’s not quite the same as a loaf of bread baked in a loaf pan and sliced into thick pieces eaten before they can be turned into a sandwich. 

Today’s bread was adapted from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and is just a similar variation I’ve made dozens of times.  The only difference is I turned one loaf into cinnamon bread.  Same recipe but sugar and cinnamon are rolled up inside.  Yummmmm.  I’d offer the recipes here but they are so basic that you can find your favorite in any old-school cookbook.

Beauty and the Fruit

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We try to meld aesthetic beauty with permaculture in our small, suburban garden.  My husband is very interested in rhodies and our yard is full of them but he is also developing an avid interest in berries and fruit trees.  Because our yard in not terribly large, sometimes the fruit is not placed in the “perfect” location.  A perfect example is our berries.  They, by necessity, are shaded from afternoon sun by a large privacy fence.  Perhaps they don’t bear as heavily as they might otherwise, but it is certainly enough for our little family (and friends!).  Below you can see a baby tayberry, a berry similar to a raspberry.

Another fruit we are including in our landscaping are peach trees.  We have one mature tree and two immature trees.  The mature tree is bearing heavily in spite of late frost this year.  Even the young trees have a couple of fruits.  Attractive trees, they fit really well into the landscape. 

The home gardener, who is flexible with the “rules” can easily combine fruit with beauty in the garden, producing not just enough for their own family, but for friends also!

Fruitful Promise

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We are trying to achieve balance in our suburban yard between practical and beautiful (although the practical can also be beautiful).  Ben is always headed to Raintree Nursery to see what else our garden needs in the way of berries or fruit trees.  At times he gets a little carried away, such as with the 16 blueberry plants crammed into our yard amongst the rhodies and camellias.  He is also excited about berries, especially since this is the first year they will bear fruit. 

I am most excited about the apples.  The blossoms were specatacular this year and the fruit set the best we have seen for a long time.  We have two established dwarf trees (one is gravenstien and I think the other is Chehalis).  Because these are not in the best location (not as much sunlight as they should have) I use these apples for apple sauce.  There is a third established tree that was here when we moved in and produces the most beautiful red apples.  The only problem is it was plant on the side of a steep hill (we call it the gully) and is VERY hard to harvest.  Finally, we have two mini-dwarf apple trees in pots.  One is William’s and one is mine.  These trees will perfect for William to take care of and enjoyImage as he grows up.  They are both Queen Cox and are grafted on a heavybearing, especially small rootstock.  Technically we shouldn’t have let them produce this year but we couldn’t resist.  One tree set only one apple so the tree itself should continue to grow larger.  The other tree won’t grow as large because we have allowed it to bear the apples it set.  I haven’t counted but there are more than a dozen fruits developing.  There is something so hopeful about watching the blossoms swell into baby apples.  The life cycle continues and next up are strawberries!

 

Too Many Ideas. . .

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When it comes to crafting I have way too many interests: spinning, weaving, scrapbooking, sewing, papercrafts, needlework, knitting, crochet. . . .Sometimes the ideas in my head are so overwhelming that I can’t get started on anything!!

Lately I have been working hard on creating an inventory of handpsun yarn for my Etsy shop (www.Katiescottage.etsy.com).  The only problem with all this spinning is that I am soooo tempted to use the soft, luscious blue faced leicester and merino yarns in such gorgeous colors for my own crochet and knitting. 

I decided that I would choose my favorite fibers and spin a nice lace weight yarn for my first sweater project.  It will give me something to work on while my husband and I watch Seinfeld in the evening before bed time.  But how to choose my favorite fibers from my stash?  I narrowed my choices to blues. . . .Image

Hmmmmm, I know I want to spin a 2-ply yarn with one colored thread and one natural.  The smart thing to do would be to start with the natural BFL and silk blend that I have already selected.  But spinning the colors is SOOO much fun! 

I’ll keep you posted on the progress (and decisions) of this project!!

Gardening with a Toddler!

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One reason I grow vegetables is to share the bounty with my son!  I want him to know where his food comes from and how satisfying it can be to watch seeds grow into something that is yummy to eat.

William is 19 months old so he has very little attention span and his fine and gross motor skills are still developing.  Some tasks, such as planting tiny seeds or waiting for those seeds to sprout over a series of days, he is just not ready for yet.  Two traits make him an excellent (and entertaining) helper in the garden:  his desire to help with everything and his sense of discovery.

The most obvious activity is Imagedigging around in the garden with his own tools.  William has a child-size set of hand tools, a hoe, rake and shovel, and his own watering can.  Even though he loves to push dirt around with those while we are readying the beds for planting, he frequently insists on taking a turn with the adult size tools.  A favorite is the stirrup hoe.  With a careful eye on his progress, I encourage this desire to play in the dirt. 

His earnest desire to help makes him very good at gathering up weeds into a bucket or placing rocks in a more desirable area.  A second benefit is practicing direction-following skills.  He wants “real” tasks and so is very motivated to listen and do what is asked.

Placing seed potatoes in the hole is a garden task made for a toddler.  The potatoes seem like balls and demand to be thrown and his desire to be like Mommy encourages the aim to be directed at the hole.  Covering up the potatoes is also doable while watering the potatoes in (or any other watering) is an intriguing and delightful task full of giggles and lots of messiness!

Finally, William can often be found wandering about the garden (while I “spy on him toImage make sure he doesn’t taste any of his finds), hands behind his back, observing colors or feeling the various textures.  He notices the fuzzy underside of some rhody leaves, the bumblebees buzzing around the primroses and how the view changes when he climbs up the hill in one of the flower beds.  Sometimes he makes these discoveries independently while at other times he shows me his treasures and we talk about the traits of what he has found. 

Of course, everything takes a bit longer to accomplish with my little partner but the delight in his face makes it a special time that I wouldn’t trade for anything!

Rainy Day in the Garden

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After so many beautiful days it was actually refreshing to have a couple of rainy days.  Raincoats and hats allowed all three of us to play outside in the spring showers.  Ben was working on the fence that will keep William from falling over the “cliff” into the gully and had a LOT of “help” from his shadow.

While all of this important digging was going on, I was able to start some seeds: lettuce, summer and winter squash, and herbs.  I know it’s late but at least they will get a little head start in the greenhouse before the real growning season begins.   The lettuce I will direct sow also, but we eat a lot of lettuce so the flat I started is just for a head start.

Even in the rain the yard is gorgeous!  William strolls around and observes the different flowers, colors, and textures.  His discoveries feed my enthusiasm for growing beauty as well as edibles.

Our house was built on fill, so instead of the good valley soil that this area is famous for, we grow as many rocks as plants.  William loves to be the chief rock wrangler.  Considering his dad has a degree in geology, it seems the rock loving trait doesn’t fall far from the proverbial tree.  Luckily, with compost and patience, even a less than desirable lot can produce a lot of beauty and food!

Chicks, Potatoes and Wisteria

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The potatoes are planted (late, of course), the wisteria is beginning its most glorious season yet and there are 6 chicks in the brooder.  Today was full of beautiful spring moments.

William loves to plant potatoes.  After all, it consists of digging nice big holes, throwing a roundish lump inside and filling the hole back up again.  And then. . . you get to WATER!  He even bobs the sprayer up and down to ensure complete coverage.  A little wet, a lot dirty, William was one happy “farmer” boy today.

When Ben and first moved into our little piece of heaven here in the development (just a little sarcasm) there was so little landscaping that we were able to essentially start from scratch.  About two years in, Ben used reclaimed materials to create a gorgeous trellis alongside the driveway and planted a wisteria at the foot.  As it was growing Ben braided its trunks into an interesting pattern.  It’s now been at least five years (I lose track) and each year there are a few more blooms.  This year the blooms are covering the entire plant.  It is a veritable fountain of purple frothiness. 

In the brooder are three Rhode Island Red chicks and three Barred Rocks.  This is our second round of hens and sometime in November we should have fresh eggs!  William was intrigued with the little critters but has to sit down if he wants to touch them.  He sits in his little lawnchair while I place a little chick on each knee.  He gently touches them while I hover and scoop them back into the brooder once everyone has had enough.  William is very concerned that they get enough to eat, taking it upon himself to add to their supply whenever he can get into the food bag.  When it was time to take his bath he even waved “night, night” to the newest members of our little family.

Readying the Beds (with a little help)

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I need a break!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are a little behind in our gardening this year.  Today is absolutely magnificent and William and I were hard at work weeding and cultivating the berry bed. This bed isn’t completely full of berries so I have commandeered the vacant portion for peas and anything else I can squeeze in there.  It’s a perfect example of using all existing space for gardening even if the conditions aren’t perfect. I plan on putting the sunflowers, potatoes and beans there.  Last year it was pumpkins.  I try not to grow the same thing in the same place two years in a row but when planting in the yard I have to remain flexible and just do the best I can.  See a theme here? 

William thinks it is great fun to help.  Today he started out with his own hoe but quickly decided he could do more if he graduated to the grown-up rake. 

William contemplates the process of using the hoe.

Having company in the garden makes all the activity so much more meaningful.  William wanted to toss the seed potatoes in the hole and picked up the weeds that I pulled.  He splashed in the watering can and pushed around his wheelbarrow (empty of course-he does not want anything inside!)  As long as he doesn’t do anything that could potentially harm him, I encourage this play because I want him to develop a sense of love and appreciation for where his food comes from and this is the beginning!