March 29, 2014

recent homeschooling adventures

Jude thought this was loads of fun.
I drew letters on a big piece of heavy cardboard-type paper and he filled in the shapes with his bingo marker. This, for him, was a totally cathartic experience (and those are very rare in the life of such a busy boy, I assure you!) (Ignore the robots and strange creatures; we were doodling for a while first!) Jude loved the activity and wanted to take it further so he drew arms, legs and faces onto the letters. The next day he wanted to make a whole new bingo marker alphabet, so we did so on regular paper, and after finishing their shapes with the bingo marker, he cut them all out so he could play with them. Very fun!

We also brought out these little wooden alphabet letters. The boys drew on them, giving them smiling faces and decorations and then played with them, calling them by their letter name prefaced by 'Super'. Everything in our home seems to acquire a superhero persona these days (-; Ollie played with his 'Super R' for the entire morning!

Jude loves to draw, and he also loves to copy words onto his drawings. In the above photo he is drawing a rescue airplane. 

Ollie is very good at puzzles.

And here is Jude's very awesome fire-breathing dragon (:

March 26, 2014

Superheroes and bad guys

Depending on the mood of the given moment, hour, or day, these little fellas of mine become completely immersed in their characters. Most days they spend their hours as superheroes and fight off an endless supply of invisible bad guys, and on other days they are the bad guys themselves, or as in the case of the bottom photo, little devils (-; Whatever they decide to "be", we generally go along with it.  Jason even made Jude a devil mask and pitchfork when he developed an insatiable urge to act out some devilish plans (and Jude, in turn, made a set for Ollie). They are little boys; they are crazy, wild and loud and outwardly exploring the concepts of good and evil, right and wrong. It's a good thing!

March 25, 2014

The woods in March

We have been going for forest walks, keeping an eye on the woods, checking for signs of spring.

Bear tracks! If our black bears are up and about, then surely spring is here.

The tracks were large, much bigger than my hand.

This is one of my favourite places to walk; up the hill and alongside our maple grove. 

Little feet! 

More little feet. A squirrel I think.

The woods are so peaceful in March.

Beautiful fungus!

White Birch

Soon, walking this way will bring with it a million mosquitos and an overabundance of poison ivy. For now, I am glad we can enjoy it in this wintery quietness (:

And here I am, with Ollie on my back (: The small yellow dots were left by honeybees that woke and plummeted into the snow. We watched them wake in the sun, crawl, and then fly back up to their wild bee hive in the tree.

March 20, 2014

Chicken aprons for sale in the shop

I am offering handmade chicken aprons for sale in my etsy shop!

I have been sewing these for my own girls for over a year now, and they are very happy with them.
A lot of back-pecking seems to go on in late winter, what with the hens feeling so bored and cooped up. A simple apron did the trick; their feathers were able to grow back with ease, and they looked beautiful in the meantime. Additionally, chicken aprons (or chicken saddles, as some folks like to call them) protect the hens' backs from the dreadfully sharp claws and spurrs of roosters. I keep aprons on my ladies when they are in molt too. Every little bit helps!

I use vintage-inspired fabrics that warmly evoke the images of chickens in vintage storybooks. If I could dress my hens in bonnets and pinafores, I really would. But as I cannot, these lovely back aprons definitely do the trick. Plus they are functional (: They are also reversible and easy to put on. Some of mine have been in use, non-stop, for the past 4 seasons and they are still going great. They are sturdy, constructed with three layers of breathable fabric and strong elastic for fastening.

Size small, medium or large, they'll fit any hen who needs one! For more info, kindly pop over to my etsy shop.

March 18, 2014

We find our peace in the woods

I don't make it out into the woods nearly as much as I should. It is a profoundly healing place, and filled with immeasurable peace. We have a wondrous gift, of living here. 
Today we walked in the forest. Jason took the boys out yesterday as well.
They found a decaying fallen log with a large hollow and played there for what seemed like an eternity.
The log was a car, a snowmobile, an airplane, a house..
Jason and I walked quietly within view but left the boys to their play until a squabble broke out.
In our travels we saw the tracks of coyote, bear, squirrel, chipmunk, raccoon, turkey, grouse, and deer. Our woods are rich and full of life! We are working on learning to identify the various trees that grow here on our land. We know them in this season when they only show their bark and branching. There is lots of elm, hickory, birch, maple, ash, and black locust.
When everyone was hungry, we traveled back through the woods, passing by the maple grove where our buckets hang, waiting. The maple sugaring will be the next exciting step on our path (:

March 16, 2014

Rocket stove, part two

Jason got to put his rocket stove to use this afternoon when he boiled down the small bit of sap he collected over the past two days from our maple grove. The weather hasn't given us a proper maple syrup harvest yet, but we tapped a couple trees last week and collect the small amounts of sap whenever we get a warm day here or there. This way, we are learning the process slowly, and when the trees start to really run, we will already have a sense of everything and will be more prepared and organized. This is the first time we are making our own syrup, but like all other things in life, we tend to just leap in head first! You can learn a lot of things really fast that way!

So far, the syrup we have made has been AMAZING. It doesn't taste like any maple syrup I have had before; it is sort of smokey with a hint of chocolate to it. Really! So I am excited to harvest a whole bunch more.

Jason built this rocket stove from scratch, never having made one before. He modified it from his original basic design and when we put it to the test today, it was very efficient. It cooked that sap down super fast using just sticks! It is really quite amazing. 

March 11, 2014

rosy noses (:

This past winter has been so cold that we haven't ventured outside nearly as much as I would have liked. It was just not fun for my little guys, with those below 20 temperatures,, Their skin would be burned from the cold and turn ruddy. Lucky for everyone, so many days indoors has settled them deeply into their imaginative games, and they happily play for hours and hours and hours. I remember how I panicked at the thought of winter when it was early autumn, not being capable of imagining a long cold winter spent indoors without constant tantrums and boredom and feeling caged up, but here we are, and it is almost spring! And while it was a record winter for Canada, being so cold for so long, we made it, and we did so well! I will try and remember this next autumn when I become used to running outside in my bare feet on a whim,, and feeling warm all the time..

March 4, 2014

peeling hard boiled eggs

One day last week we endeavored to make deviled eggs. I had never done this before, but I helped my Mom to make them long ago so I figured it would be an easy side-dish. Our hens have been laying like crazy - I brought in 23 eggs one day last week! A new record! And so, I have been brainstorming on recipes that utilize a ton of eggs. So far, I have made deviled eggs, frittatas, baked pancakes...I am looking VERY forward to making an angel food cake and a lemon meringue pie! That should put these eggs to good use!
At any rate, whenever I start a project in the kitchen, I seem to attract these two funny little helpers (-; Ollie really made a mess of his egg, but oh, did he ever enjoy himself! They were supposed to be peeling the eggs, and they did do that, but Ollie peeled his right down to the yolk, and then he said "Oh no!" and tried to pile the egg whites back on top, and then the shell on top of that. It was hilarious, and so cute. Jude, he did an awesome job. He peeled a bunch of egg shells off for me, cut the eggs in half and popped the yolks out and was very proud (:

March 2, 2014

painted boys

We almost forgot about face painting around here, but then Jude stumbled upon Ollie's pumpkin costume and suddenly, it all came back to him (-; So we painted. Or rather, I painted. Jude is supposed to be a pumpkin but he and Bella thought he looked more like a tiger. Oh well, either is good. Ollie really rocks the man-beard! But sadly, our beloved face paints are nearly gone now; We have been using the same set for over six years, in two countries and for countless painting occasions. Here's a sweet post from 2009 of my Bella with her face painted in preparation for Valentine's day (:I hope I can find another set as good as these when I've used the very last bit of paint!

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