Lunch Week: Thursday

Day 4: Tortilla pizzas

cheese pizza

First of all, it snowed, a real snow, last night.


winter! it's just around the corner!

on the apple tree

snow play

Somehow snow just makes everything feel better, doesn't it?

Today's lunch doesn't seem very snow day-ish, but oh, well. 

Tortilla pizzas have been a staple for us for a long time. It's a thing that everyone loves for a while and then gets tired of for a while, so it goes in and out of rotation a lot. But they are very simple.

pizza - before baking

Here's my method:

I like to use whole grain tortillas. These are made locally and are so soft and delicious for just about anything. Of course, you can use any tortilla you have on hand.

Sometimes I make a little marinara sauce on the stove, an old-fashioned "alla marinara" (1/4 olive oil, several tablespoons minced garlic, some oregano, and chopped tomatoes), sometimes I use pasta sauce (homemade or from a jar), and sometimes, like here, I just spread some olive oil, garlic, and diced tomatoes right on the tortilla. (You can use fresh or canned tomatoes, these are canned.)

After the tomatoes, I add a few toppings, depending on what we have on hand. Here, I used sliced mushrooms and some roughly chopped black olives. One of the pizzas was just cheese, just in case.

before baking

For cheese, I just grate up some of whatever we have. Gouda cheese is good on these! So is cheddar or muenster. Probably just about any cheese would be good! If you have some fresh mozzarella on hand, slices of that are the best.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. If desired, you can throw some fresh greens on top, or sprinkle with some dried herbs before or after baking ... this is really a flexible meal. Like scrambled eggs, I really feel like pizza is something that just about anything can be thrown on!


I saved our VERY favorite lunch for tomorrow, so I hope you'll join me! 

Please keep sharing your favorite lunch ideas, either in the comments here or link to your own lunch posts! 

1 September

{This was yesterday's post -- my thoughts turned toward the new beginnings of September -- but I couldn't post it yesterday because my camera software was corrupted and had to be reinstalled, and I couldn't find the disk until today!}


So, it's the first of September. I can hardly believe it! August zipped by in a flurry of chaos and adjustment, and this September promises to bring many good things. I'm thinking back to a year ago, when my husband was in the midst of the worst of his illness. We didn't know what the future would bring and I tried to distract myself from the unspeakable fear. A year later, things are so much brighter. What a difference one year can make!

morning reading

I wrote a "back to (home)school" post last week that needs some editing and tweaking before I publish it, but today I want to write a little bit about rhythm, something that I know is on the minds of many during this time of year.

roly poly

grasshopper observation

Rhythm has become a bit of a buzzword around blogworld. People talk about it and think about it a lot. For some, it's kind of become synonymous with a schedule of sorts, for others, it's a way of consciously structuring the things that repeat in their weeks -- whether the things that need to be done (errands, shopping, baking), or that they want to get done (art projects, hikes, etc.).




I wanted to propose another way of thinking about rhythm.

For me, rhythm is the way a family's days "go" at a given time in their lives. It may be quiet and inward, it may be wild and boisterous. It may be oriented toward a season or holiday, it may be free-form. But, to my way of looking at it, it's not imposed or structured, but develops organically over time, and shifts happens subtly. It's like realizing that you've fallen into step with your walking companion -- serendipitous, happy, natural. Though there have been many times where I've felt it necessary to institute a schedule to our days, it never works for the long term. I believe that's because a schedule can never take into account all the various things that really make up our family's unique rhythm.



Sometimes a rhythm is necessarily dictated by things that are scheduled, like this summer when we were swimming three hours throughout the day. But most often, for us, it's the smaller things, like the way my children are playing (together, and separately) at the moment. The things we are enjoying eating, and therefore, their preparation. The creative outlets that pull at each of us. 


I could not write down a "schedule" to what our rhythm looks like. It's not a "breakfast at 8, tidy up at 8:30, stories at 9, outside at 9:45" type of thing. And yet, we do find that there are things we do every day, in roughly the same order. And it shifts over time, with the seasons, with the things we have going on. Naps happen at roughly the same time. We all need time to read and relax and be quiet, to work on projects alone or together, to care for our home. 


This fall, we are trying something a little bit different for "schooling" than we've done in the past (more on that in my upcoming "back to (home)school" post), and I want to find a way to gently work it into our days without disrupting the good rhythmic elements that are in place already. I know that we're finding our way into a new rhythm right now, anyway, as autumn approaches (100 degrees today, but in the 70's by the weekend!), as we continue to adjust to daddy's new work schedule, as preparation for Halloween begins to be a part of our creative consciousness. So, I guess I'm not too worried about how adding some schooling back into our days will be. At first, it's going to be one of those "scheduled" things that the rest of our rhythm will move and stretch itself around. And my hope is that on the best of days, it will become part of that daily rhythm, that breath of our family's life together.


I'm very much interested in reading Amanda's new book, The Rhythm of Family, which I think must touch on what I've written here, because ever since this post nearly five years ago, I've felt that her way of looking at rhythm was similar to mine. The book hasn't found its way across my threshold yet, but it will soon, I hope. :)

I've been doing this for two weeks, and I love it. It's a way to briefly jot down my impressions of the day, without giving it too much thought, without laboring over it like a blog post, or editing what I say for others to read on Facebook or Twitter. It's just a little bit of my own memories of our days. And it even sends reminder emails, so I've not missed a single day. Such a simple way of recording these days of ours, and their unique rhythmic ebb and flow.

And finally, feeling such gratitude tonight for the health of my mother-in-law, who had a medical procedure today, for my best friend's sweet new baby boy, and for my brother, who will tie the knot on Monday! (Oh, and that my children don't have any squeamishness about insects.)

{Edited to add: I do feel that intention is so very important in family life, but I also don't believe that deciding to myself "Wouldn't it be nice if our days went like this?" and then writing it down makes it our family's rhythm. If that makes sense. This is meant to share my ideas about rhythm, not to criticize those who use the term to mean more of a schedule! In some ways, it's just semantics. Whatever you call these things, we all have both natural patterns to our days, and things that we need to schedule.}

Easter tidings

I hope you all had a blessed Easter Sunday yesterday, and that the coming weeks of spring will be filled with much goodness! 

Here is a little bit of what has been happening here over the last couple of days....

dyeing eggs (turmeric)

dyeing eggs (beets)

eggs (natural dyes)


pink and yellow

pink and yellow

blue egg


We dyed them using beets, turmeric, and purple cabbage. The colors were absolutely perfect; the most beautiful we've ever done! Every year I plan to use natural dyes, and every year, I fail to get around to it. I'm so glad that this year, we did! Next year, I would like to do more eggs with a few more colors. (The egg cup above is an antique Japanese one from my great-aunt's Easter collection, which I was fortunate to inherit)

easter basket

The Easter bunny arrived on schedule, leaving behind his customary muddy footprints. However, this was the second year in a row that I forgot to put some little Ostheimer bunnies (that I got on sale after Christmas of 2009) into their baskets. I will need to make a note to myself for next year or something.


I brought my camera to our Good Friday and Easter Sunday services this year, thinking I could take some beautiful photos inside our lovely church (a la Kyrie), but I find that taking photos inside the church, especially during services, doesn't feel right to me, so here is the lone picture of our Easter church. And I love it. 

my mom's pretty china (formerly my grandmother's)

My mom's pretty china (formerly my grandmother's). I love it so much ... it is so suited to Easter. This was the kids' table. There were real linens on the adults' table.

easter snow and fog

easter snow

Easter snow!

It actually snowed more on Easter this year than it did on Christmas. Hmm.

Today, I am relaxing, wishing for some warmth, knitting, cleaning, detoxing from yesterday's sugar overload, and reveling in the joys of Eastertide. 

What about you?

In thanksgiving

I have a great deal to be thankful for today, on this eve of the Thanksgiving holiday.


You see, there is no easy way of writing this. It has been hanging over me, like a weight on my heart, for a long time. With the honesty and encouragement of two bloggers who have shared publicly about similar experiences as those on my heart, I have decided to just say it, today, in this week of gratitude:


My husband almost died this fall. He got sick in July with what we thought, at first, was a bad cold. As he got sicker, and sicker, and began what felt like an endless journey to countless doctors, an unspeakable dread crept into our lives. Carrying on with "normal" seemed the only choice for me, even as his illness worsened and answers didn't come.


In the end, we never ended up with an "official" diagnosis. We found out a lot of what it wasn't, but ultimately, we think it was an MCS-like illness, or actually, more specifically, a hypersensitivity pneumonitis which is being called "trombone player's lung": a disease that only affects musicians! (The NPR article I linked to makes it sound a lot less bad than it actually is, by the way.)


Anyway, this sounds awful, and dramatic, and it really was. But he is well now. He is well! And this is over.

With so much to be thankful for, and so much anxiety and worry to put behind us, we journeyed to the ocean several weeks ago.



As I stood in the icy water, gulped in the salty air, and looked out across the great expanse of the sea, I felt myself letting go of the fear and worry that had permeated the previous months. It seemed to melt down into the sand where I stood. Peace washed over me as I listened to the tide, and played with my beloved little family in the surf.



Again, my children were my best teachers. Even as the ocean was such a concrete reminder for me to let go, and such a beautiful metaphor for healing and cleansing, I realized that my children didn't need a reminder so concrete: they are so present in each moment of life that the stresses of the previous months had already washed past them. What a powerful reminder that was -- my children on one side, the ocean on the other.



I'm hoping that I've brought back a little bit of that peace with me into ordinary life. And hoping, for all of us, that it doesn't take something so dramatic to help us renew our gratitude for the people we love.


Wishing you much love, gratitude, and joy these next days, whether you're celebrating the holiday tomorrow or not.



Eek! Just barely squeaking this post in before the end of the day! (Have you ever heard that saying, "The hours are long, but the days are short"? I am having a whole week like that, for sure!)

There will be more dolls to see this week, but we had an amazing, intense, but swiftly moving storm pass through (the way it came on reminded me of the descriptions of blizzards in some of the Little House books).


And I do love a stormy sky. (And most other kinds of skies, too.)



So stormy skies it is for today.


You can just make out the huge, fast snowflakes. They move so quickly, it's really hard to capture them, but they are so amazing!


Here's to the beauty of a storm, and wishing everyone a safe, warm place to be this stormy season.

A dusting



Last night we had a light dusting of snow. What a lovely thing to wake up to!



A note on the knitting ... I have completed one sweater, and the other two are in various degrees of completion. I didn't make my deadline, but that's OK. They'll be ready before the end of November for sure. I've had too much going on the last few weeks, and I've been burning the candle at every end. A lot of that has eased up now, so I have much more time for knitting than I did, thankfully. So, off to knit!


So, September, huh? Wow. I'm a bit in denial about it. The truth is, I'm an autumn -- maybe winter -- person at heart. October is my favorite month. Followed by December, November, February, and January (in that order). So ... I'm feeling a little bit baffled by my current feelings -- a lot of reluctance to say goodbye to summer.

I have a monthly meal planning ritual that I follow (it's kind of silly, but I'll tell you about it sometime). And I'll admit that when I sat down to do this month's plan, I even found myself feeling a little bit resentful of my (seven) September back-issues of Everyday Food. Such autumn-y fare they presented for September! Still, I plugged through and filled my September menu with creamy lima bean soup (sorry, no link), earthy orecchiette with sausage & roasted peppers, roasted vegetable soup, and other warm comfort foods. Tonight this was on the menu (with ground turkey instead of beef, a bit of extra cayenne, cinnamon, and almonds, and a bit less lemon juice).

I'm working on it. I'll embrace autumn.

For now, here's a bit of what can be seen around here, in September.

september sky

september sky

Beautiful September skies.


The colors of late summer.


The comforts of home.

(Here's a funny thing about this picture. I almost always make my bed now -- a new begninning & habit I'll share more about soon -- but for some reason, these cozy unmade bed photos always appeal to me.)


Evenings are my favorite time of day in September. The twilight has such a particular, special quality to it. And the crickets. Oh, the crickets!

linens evening

A day of squeezing in every last moment of laundry possible. (I did so many loads that day. With all our own laundry, plus some for our church ... well, it can be a lot!)


Pumpkins ripening. (We have had miserable luck with our garden the last two years, but I'll take success where I can get it -- our pumpkins have done beautifully both years!)

What beautiful things are you seeing, to usher you into this new season?

{Oh, and I fully intend to increase my posting beyond just a paltry once a week(?!). I'm just getting into our new rhythm, with classes, and new volunteer responsibilities, and lots of little things.}


A Little Celebrating

We have a tradition in our family of celebrating Midsummer Night. Tradition holds that if you prepare a party for the fairies on this night, they will leave a small gift in return. (I've written about this one other time.)




Elisabeth and James happily prepared a tea party, complete with tiny pieces of cake (left over from Father's Day the day before) and fruit.




They awoke early the next morning to find the tea party devoured, a ring of rose petals in its place, and some small gifts, all covered with a smattering of fairy dust (superfine glitter is great for this!)


What fun it is to see their excitement as we celebrate these treasured traditions. And what a nice respite these things are in the chaos of our current situation! (Less than two weeks to go....)

PS: The book is Mudpies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow, and I've had it set aside for almost 8 years, waiting for a time when Elisabeth would be a fluent reader and be able to use the book on her own. I never felt like my reading it with her was quite right.

Something to show

We have finally had two nice days. Sunday and Monday were just beautiful. Sun shining, temperatures rising (what a welcome thing after a week near freezing, with even a little bit of snow!)

We have very little to show for those two beautiful days. No new skirts or jammies or dresses were completed. The longie awaits grafting. The kitchen could use a good cleaning. We're in need of a trip to the market.

But, wait!

first leaves

We noticed the leaf buds on the trees opening.

bare + green

And the way some trees are bare and some are pale green.


We played outside and got dirty and had baths.


We appreciated the colors of our supper.


And the light in the kitchen.

back door

We danced at the back door, nursed a sick dog, patched a bike tire, saw a beautiful film (which you should all go watch, right now), ate our dinner on the porch, visited with grandma.

We read together in a big pile while the twilit evening of springtime breathed into mama's bedroom window. We fell asleep to the sound of rain and thunder, and looked forward, our hearts open wide, to the coming days.

I guess we have something to show, afterall.


Thoughts on a Wednesday

peach blossoms with snow

Unrelated to this post: Peach blossoms with snow on them, from about 10 days ago. Where I live, "spring" is more like "extended winter".


Big girl and little. Fiona isn't walking yet, but she likes to do "walkies" with her big sister.

Today I'm thinking about my big girl again. Lots has been going on around here for her lately. Big transitions and rites of passage. Last month, she had her birthday and first holy communion, and this month -- it seems that I'm sending off checks right and left. I sort of feel a little complainy about how much it all costs, but I'm also just noticing what big things are going on:

~We mailed off the registration for competitive swim team this summer. At eight, she won't be the youngest child on her team by any means, but we didn't want to start a sport before now. In fact, I really felt that nine would be better (I've had this thought corroborated by so many of the parents of my cello students over the years, too). So this is our family's first foray into the world of competitive anything. We're nervous, but ever so excited about the meets!

~Elisabeth has her own cello now. It is the outgrown cello of one of my students. Elisabeth has been talking about playing cello since the day of her second birthday, and we even very briefly rented her a tiny little cello when she was three. But we realized that playing an instrument at that tender age was really not the right path for our family and the way we do things. So we waited. I thought we'd begin to look for an instrument when she was about 8 or 9, and lo and behold, one of my students sized up into a full-size right before Elisabeth turned 8. So, we now have her old 3/4 cello, and Elisabeth is practicing every day, without being asked (so far!).

~We also signed up for a homeschool enrichment program for next fall. They offer things like art, music, drama, games/PE -- things that can be sometimes harder to coordinate and fit in at home, or without a group of children. We spent some time today choosing which classes to enroll in. It's exciting, and a little scary. Elisabeth will be at her class for a full day once a week in the fall!

~In five weeks, we begin the odyssey of orthodontia. This is the "big" thing that makes me the saddest. Elisabeth has had an underbite all her life, and it hasn't self-corrected as her permanent teeth have come in. We've known for a long time that braces were going to be part of our future with her. But, it's sad to think of my little eight-year-old with a face full of braces. In the long run, it's for the best. But it's reminding me again of how bittersweet this whole growing up thing is.



Today, my tulips are just about to bloom. Last year's pink tulips came up mostly yellow this year. I've heard that can happen, although I was surprised that it happened after only one year. Oh, well. (As a true lover of pink, I can't help but be a tiny bit disappointed. But you know how I am about tulips. Swoon.)

Today, I'm really depressed. We found out that we lost about 6 months worth of photos (from September 2009 to early March of 2010) to a computer crash. (I've mentioned before that we've had troubles with this computer. We finally -- after waiting for months for my husband and his brother to look at it -- figured out that it was caused by a faulty cable inside the computer.) The photos were on a separate, back-up drive, but it was affected by the crash. All the other photos were double backed-up, but these -- including all the face shots of my children that never make it to the blog, Halloween, Christmas, Fiona's first birthday, my niece's baptism, the originals of my habit posts -- these are all lost. My brother-in-law took the drive to his work, which is a large corporation with a big IT department, and they ran their professional recovery software on it. They weren't able to retrieve anything that we didn't already have. My last hope is to see if we can recover anything off the camera memory card. This is unlikely because I have overwritten it many times, but it's worth a try. I'm especially upset about Christmas, because not a single one of those photos had made it to flickr or anywhere else. At least I have three shots of the morning of Fiona's birthday, though not of her eating cake that evening or opening her presents so cutely. I'm absolutely devastated.

Today, I'm trying to hold it together so I can work on some things for Elisabeth's birthday party this weekend.

Today, I might scrap everything and go over to my sister's house for doughnuts.

A week of awe -- day five (late)

For the final installment in this little series, I have two things that inspire awe in me.



I'm awed by its quiet. By its gift to the landscape. The reverence that everyone seems to feel when it's crisp and white and cold and sparkling outside.


The peeks of the seasons gone by.


And of the seasons to come.

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And knitting.

The way that twisting the yarn around and over the needles, and itself, yields fabric. All different kinds of fabric. Fabric of infinite textures and styles: delicate, rugged, soft, rough, elegant, durable. Beautiful.


It's like a little miracle.

(This is my February Lady Sweater that I'm desperately trying to complete before my own birthday on Thursday.)

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What inspires awe in you today?

Thank you for playing along over the last week. It's been a good exercise for me, noticing things and cultivating awe for them. I'm finding awe a little bit more each day, here and there. It's something I need right now because I'm feeling a bit sad about my littlest one turning a year old on Friday. It's not supposed to go so fast. Sigh.

A week of awe -- day four

{There are many awesome things in this world, but I'm still searching for the awe in 24 hours spent feeling dizzy and faint. Fortunately I'm feeling better tonight. Since I'm behind a day, I will finish up the series on Monday. See you then!}

My mom says I'm an optimist because I'm always looking up -- literally -- I'm much more likely to notice cobwebs around the ceiling than dust on the floor.

I do find a great deal of inspiration and awe in the sky. It is perhaps my favorite part of the natural world, and has been since I was a very small child. And it's always right there. Whether you're peering up between skyscrapers or gazing up over the vast expanse of a prairie, the sky always has something to offer. A moment of respite from the, well, gravity of life on earth.



I love a February sky. Blue one day, gray the next. Actually, despite my complete devotion to pink, during one month of the year, gray may actually be my favorite color. Oh, those varied grays of a February sky. (I really embrace February, the month of my birth. I know many of you dread it more every year, but I really love it, so indulge me, won't you?)





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And what about you? What inspires awe in you today?

February 1

Hi there. Did you think I disappeared? I wouldn't be surprised if you did. I only posted a couple of times in January. There are three real reasons for this: enjoying some quiet home time, feeling a bit of blog burnout, and having severe, and I do mean severe, computer problems. We bought our computer brand-new not 18 months ago, and already by this past summer, we were experiencing lots of problems. Currently it doesn't even turn on. It makes me tremble just to think about it, so I won't say any more here. But I did finally locate my installation disk for the camera software and can now upload photos here on the laptop (which I don't love to do because the screen is small and makes everything look alternately too dark or too washed out, but oh, well). Suffice it to say that the "what I made in 2009" post (including Christmas gifts -- two of which I'd love to eventually share here) will have to wait until I can finally access those photos again. I have been assured by my husband that they will be retrievable. Let's just pray, shall we?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So what has been going on?


A little of this, a little of that.


It snowed.


We went out of town.


We saw this guy.

room service

We had room service in our hotel room.


I knitted.

My baby turned 11 months, grew her first two teeth, and started crawling (I'm thankful that she's taking her time on these milestones -- with my third baby, I'm in no rush, and I'm glad she isn't, either!).

And now that we're into February, we're coming into birthday season -- beginning with mine on the 25th, four of our family's five birthdays will fall within six weeks of one another.

Much good, and a handful of challenges. Would we have it any other way?



2009, a retrospective {part 1}

I hope you all are not tired of 2009 wrap-ups. I know I'm a bit late, but bear with me -- I've been so very sick for so long, it's making me feel really behind. Anyway, I have had a 2009 retrospective on the creating end of things in mind for a while now, but I still want to photograph a last couple of things, so I thought I would start with the life part. And of course there's some overlap.


daily creativity


Quiet days at home. Knitting the bunting. Visits with friends. Cooking, freezing, nesting. Sewing. Contractions. Waiting.




More contractions. More waiting. More knitting. Elisabeth's first sleepover (away). My blessingway. My birthday. Fiona Catherine. Bliss.


on the couch in march

Holed up, insulated, babymooning. James turns three. Huge snowstorm. Snuggling on the couch with the baby and lots of wool while the others are out in it. Seedlings.



Stepping, ever so tentatively, out of the fog. Elisabeth turns seven. Seedlings (still). Fiona's baptism. My husband decides to finish his doctorate afterall. Dozens of tulips!


may basket in can

happy may day!

Going a-Maying. Enjoying our yard and gardens. Struggling to find a rhythm. Re-reading some of my favorite books. Elisabeth learns to ride a two-wheeler.




Peonies! Swimming lessons every morning. Fiona rolls over. Remembering to slow down. Roses.



hanging out

Still at the pool every morning, knitting in tow. A rainy 4th of July. Camping. Sewing. Second grade workshop. Catharsis.


10 years

pennant banner

10 years! Fiona sits up. Stress. Exhaustion. Computer break (oh-so-good!). My sister's baby shower. Sewing.


at the pool



Holding on to the last bits of summer. habit. Return to homeschooling. Apple orchard (twice), and apple pies. Classes for both children. My new niece.


michaelmas table

fiona and sweet potatoes


ready to go!

Our belated Michaelmas celebration. Eurythmy. Knitting. Lots of snow. Hot cocoa many days. New high chair cushions, and Fiona's first solid foods. Marathon costume sewing. Jack-o-lanterns. Halloween. My favorite month.




e sweater7

NaBloPoMo. Church linens. Elisabeth's first sleepover (at home). Simplicity Parenting. Martinmas. Sweaters. Book reviews. Thinking ahead to advent and Christmas. Giving thanks. Making dolls.


habit december23

habit december11


My shop. habit (december). King Winter. Helen's baptism. Fun with family. My husband's graduation. Sickness (lots and lots of sickness). Small miracles. Late Christmas cards. Last-minute gift making. Stillness; peace; silence. The richness of tradition. Joy

habit december21

Right now

Awed by the connections we all have: the way my life looks very much like yours, and yours like mine -- we're all in this thing, aren't we?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Happy new year, friends. May 2010 (which I refuse to pronounce "twenty-ten", by the way) be your best yet.

My next post will be the creating retrospective. And I'd still like to share a few things that we did in December, in between all the sickness. And then it will be new material for the new year, I promise.


Our Martinmas -- and lantern tutorial


We celebrated a beautiful Martinmas last night with a group of homeschooling friends. There were moments that were so quiet and reverent, looking around the circle of us singing together, and there were moments that were rowdy and a bit challenging to manage. But overall, it was such a delight to celebrate as a group. 

I didn't get very many pictures (just these three, in fact, and I was missing my lens!), but the few I have tell a story, I think.

martinmas table

We met in a large park and shared a simple meal (of pumpkin soup, bread, and cider). Then we set out, a merry little band, singing. We stopped at a couple of houses in the neighborhood, and then wound our way back into the park. In a stand of trees, we stopped and I told the story of St. Martin to our group. All was still and dark, except for our lanterns. Finally, a quieter group found its way back to the tables to pack up and bid one another farewell.

small lantern

There were moments that weren't perfect. But it was beautiful -- magical, even.

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making lanterns10

This year, we again made our "go-to" lanterns. I loved the balloon ones we made last year, but didn't want to do them two years in a row (not that my children would have minded!). I thought about making some out of beeswax (sort of like these), but ultimately decided against it because I wanted my children to be able to make their own lanterns.

making lanterns12

These lanterns take 3-4 work sessions. You'll need heavy-weight watercolor paper (approx. 12"x18"), high-quality watercolor paints (those that come in tubes rather than the dry ones in a tray), paint brushes, smooth boards (can be made of plastic, wood, or any smooth surface) for painting on, cooking oil, paper towels, glue, a hole punch, tealights, and yarn, ribbon, or wire to make the handle.

painting for lanterns7

painting for lanterns12

painting for lanterns8 painting for lanterns2 painting for lanterns3

The first day, we made our paintings, using the wet-on-wet watercolor painting method. I like to use paintings that are completely saturated in color for these, so this method is perfect for that. (I took a lot of pictures of our painting day this time; find more pictures here.)

lanterns - oiling

Once the paintings were completely dry, we oiled them using cooking oil and paper towels. (This picture is actually from 2006; I don't have one from this year). It is important that the paintings are completely saturated with oil. You are not going for a light coating -- you want the paper to be soaked all the way to the back. This makes it translucent once dry. Expect each one to absorb several teaspoons of oil, at least. This is really messy and they will need to dry overnight.

making lanterns1 making lanterns4

making lanterns3

The next day, we marked one of the long sides of the painting with lines that were 2" apart and 2.5" long. I cut along the lines. 

making lanterns5 making lanterns7 making lanterns9

Then we glued them into a cylinder along one of the short sides, using clothespins at the ends to hold them together, and stones to weigh them down while they dried. Once the sides were dry, we folded the notched ends over and glued them shut, once again using stones as weights while they dried.

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Finally, we punched holes and added our handles -- these were yarn that had been finger-knitted by Elisabeth, and glued tealights into the bottom of each lantern. It's really good for children to have running projects like this, even something like this where each work session only takes a few minutes. It's very strengthening to work on something over several days.

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I hope if you try these, the instructions make sense and they turn out beautifully! Let me know if you try them. Enjoy your beautiful lanterns!

Plans Change

I had hoped to share photos of our annual trip to our favorite pumpkin patch tonight, but our pumpkin patch plans this year were thwarted by the weather.





So instead, we took a walk on a day that seemed more like Christmas than Halloween -- marveling all the while at the transformation of our neighborhood into a slightly weird landscape (Halloween is still on my mind, afterall), and of the quiet that falls over a place when it snows. Everything seems insulated with downy whiteness -- I love the quiet of waking on a snowy morning.





My dad stopped by for a little while this afternoon on his way home, and shared some hilarious stories from his boyhood with my wee ones.


We tried to stay warm and cozy while indoors, ate snow with maple syrup, worked a bit on the Halloween costumes, and delighted in the cackles, howls, moans, and groans of our little ghosties and ghouls.

haunted house

More fun (and handmade goodness!) here in the next few days.




Some things that have been seen around here lately:

seen: costuming

Costuming in the works!

seen: baby

Some cute baby-ness, just because.

seen: star

The shadow of a star.

seen: turning

The turning of some leaves.

seen: knitting

Knitting. Of course!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Some thoughts:

~I forgot to mention on Wednesday that this is out now. I'm super excited about it, although my pre-order hasn't arrived yet. I should learn my lesson and never pre-order, because I always receive my pre-orders days and days after the release day. I must live too far from any distribution sites.

~TypePad must have received a number of complaints similar to mine, because they have sort of compromised and made replying directly to comments a bit easier again. Not quite as nice as before, but at least it's something.

~And speaking of comments, I can see on my stats that lots and lots of you are still visiting, but feeling a little bit shy about commenting. Don't be! I love to hear from you. It really makes my day -- hearing your feedback, and this little conversation of ours. And I truly appreciate those of you who do take a little time out of your own day to say hi to me. Truly, truly.

Edited to add: The hat was made by Shelley! We have been lucky enough to have two of her hats and they are our very favorite.