Fall Felting

If you joined us a few weeks ago, you may remember we visited with a few furry friends in honor of National Alpaca Weekend.  While on this fun adventure, we were lucky enough to receive some small bags of soft, velety alpaca fiber.  After a bit of research and a gander through one of my favorite home-crafting books, I came upon a fun and easy project, perfectly suited for my hard-to-entertain-these-days daughter.

Although a bit wet, the project was such fun on this unseasonably-warm fall afternoon.  I must say my favorite part of the entire process was each time my daughter held the dark brown fiber in her tiny hands and said, “Mommy, this fur is from Bob.  You know Bob.  He was the boy alpaca.”  Oh my, this girl.

We ended our day with quite a few felted balls that we plan to make into petite acorn decorations.  We will see if our planned nature walk today in search of acorn tops proves to be fruitful.

Master Chef Jr.

My children have an addition.  They cannot seem to get enough Master Chef action on Hulu.  My oldest especially, wants to audition for the next season of the show, or at the very least, start her own restaurant in the very near future.  In fact, she recently asked the owner of our favorite local restaurant if she could live there.  Precious.

So to curb their enthusiasm, I told each girl she could prepare her own dish to serve at dinner.  And I must say, I was thoroughly shocked at the result.  This five-year-old and three-year-old created two different dishes that not only tasted good, but in the words of Gordon Ramsay were “visually stunning.”  It is truly fascinating to me what the minds of small children are capable of when left to run free without boundaries or restrictions.

A World All Her Own

Whenever I look at my little ones, I marvel at the imagination coursing through their tiny minds.  “What are they thinking right at this moment?” I ask myself multiple times throughout the day.  I often wish that I could go back to that time, when perception is broad and the possibilities are completely and utterly endless.  Anything is possible.

While my oldest was away at camp yesterday, I took some extra time to simply sit back and observe my tiny three year old daughter.  I heard clinking sounds echoing down the hallway, so I followed the sound to find this beautiful girl, decked out in a mermaid costume.  When I entered the room she didn’t know I was there.  She just continued to tinker way in “her” kitchen, picking up various utensils, humming and speaking quietly to herself in the lilting tones of a young child.

After a bit of time passed, she noticed me standing in the threshold.  She looked at me with beaming eyes, held out a kettle and said, “Mommy, I am making egg pie with blueberries and lemon.  It is going to be soooo yummy!”

Yes, yummy indeed my little one.  Such imagination.  Such creativity.  Such a precious being standing right in front of my eyes, in a world all her own.

New Addition

We have lived in our current house for four years this coming July, and from the moment we set foot inside our new home and unpacked our boxes, we have had a rodent issue.  I have been completely ill equipped to deal with this problem because I have lived my entire life in the city, and have apparently lucked out in that I have never seen a mouse in a house, in my entire life. But now I seem to find myself in midst of a full bore rodent festival.

We have chipmunks digging holes all over our yard to the point where my oldest can no longer practice her cartwheels in the grass for fear of a sprained ankle.  We have voles burrowing underground and eating all of our raspberry brambles from the roots up.  We have mice running all over our yard, under our deck, and in our house.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.

We have tried traps, deterrents, poison, and even had an animal proofing professional come out and check out our situation.  Since the rodent expert visited us last fall we, thank God, have not had any more mice in the house.  However, they are still running rampant outside.  And my fear is that it is only a matter of time before those little suckers figure out a new entry point into our house.

I told my husband in early spring, when the snow melted away to reveal vole tracks all over our yard and half of our raspberry patch again killed off by those vermin, that we needed a new solution.  Enter Rajah, the newest addition to the Fagan household.

If you would have told me five years ago that I would end up a cat owner, I would have told you that you were absolutely insane.  I have never, ever liked cats.  But now the girls and I have found ourselves absolutely head over heels in love with this little one.  She was given to us by the eight year old daughter of the family we visited about a month ago.  On our visit, little Rajah was only a few weeks old, with very little fur and still nursing from her mama (who is one of the best mousers on the farm…YES!).  On Saturday we went to visit the farm again, and to adopt our new kitty.

Saying the girls love her in an absolute understatement.  My five year old especially, has not left her side during her waking hours.  In fact, as I write this post the girls are playing at their grandma’s house and the poor girl cried for ten minutes before we got in the car because she didn’t want to leave Rajah.

My hope is that she takes after her mommy and can hunt down those pesky rodents, but for now we are just enjoying play time and snuggle time with our newest addition.

FYI…The girls named her Rajah because that is the name of Princess Jasmine’s (from Aladdin) pet tiger 🙂

Burlap Placemats

While on our visit to Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin back in December, we were told that burlap bags worked great as covers for compost bins.  Our tour guide told us that they obtained all of their burlap bags from local coffee roasters for little to no cost at all.

It just so happens that there is a local coffee roaster housed just two store fronts down from my husband’s fitness business, so we decided to investigate and I’ll be darned that they literally had closets full of burlap!  The owner said that there is one local farmer that comes regularly to pick up some of her extra bags, but other than that she was just waiting for someone to take them off her hands because she hated to just throw them out.

Well, my husband walked out of there with a tower of burlap sacks, towering far above his over six foot frame.  While we did use a few of the coffee bags to cover our compost bins, we were left with a lot extra stock.  So, I started to look through my crafting books for different things to do with burlap and I came upon one of my Amanda Blake Soule favorites, The Creative Family.  In this book, Amanda discusses the use of burlap to introduce children to sewing.  The wide spaces in the burlap make for easy needlework for young children.

After feeling inspired, as I so often do after reading Amanda’s books, the girls and I got to work.  The girls each took turns sewing using roughly 1 X 2 foot pieces of burlap (I simply cut up one coffee bag), embroidery floss, an embroidery hoop and a large needle.

After the girls reached a point where they were satisfied with their work, I removed the hoop and used my sewing machine to sew on a bit of fabric to the back of the burlap.

This quick project (It only took about 45 minutes from start to finish…including clean up.) ended up turning out quite well and the girls now have their very own hand crafted snack-time placemats.

Now I just need to come up with some more projects to use up the other twenty burlap bags I have 🙂  If anyone has any crafty ideas, please feel free to leave a comment.  I would love to come up with some more ideas.

Monkey See

Isn’t it amazing how our little ones emulate everything it is that we do?  We may not notice they are doing it, but suddenly they will say or do something and I will find myself wondering, “Do I actually do/say that?” These little ones are like tiny sponges, taking in everything in their environment, then processing it and putting it back out there into the world.

I try to remember this on those days when I reach the height of frustration.  I try to keep in mind, no matter how very, very difficult it is at the time, that the little ones are watching, always examining how momma is acting and reacting in certain situations.  This is a hard thing to do I tell you.  To constantly be aware of your actions because a tiny person is right there ready to pick it up and copy you.

While I sometimes grow weary when I think on this topic too often, I am also encouraged when I see my little ones going about their daily tasks, mirroring my actions in their play.  It restores my faith in the fact that while they do seem to pick up on everything, inclusive to that everything is the good.  And for that, I am most grateful.

All-Time Favorite

Today my youngest and I made our all-time favorite play dough.  I acquired the recipe last year from my daughter’s pre-school teacher and it has made its way onto our “must make often” list in our household.  The best part of this play dough is that it is scented!  You add Kool-Aid mix packets to the dough recipe to make it colored and scented at the same time…so fun!  I think I’ve passed this recipe on to all of my close friends who have children, so I am now thrilled to pass it on to all of you.  Enjoy!

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon alum (can be found in the spice section of your grocery store)

1/2 cup salt

2 cups boiling water

3 tablespoons oil

2 packets Kool-Aid (any flavor/color you would like)

Mix flour, alum, salt and drink mix.  Add water and oil.  Mix well.  Continue to add additional flour until you reach a smooth, non-sticky consistency that you are happy with.

Walk

It is at this time of year, when the temperatures begin to rise, that the excitement begins to build inside me because it is nearing the time of year when we can again voyage out beyond the confines of our neighborhood…and walk.

I would have to say that one of my favorite activities, and that of my girls as well, is walking to the places we need to go.  My eldest daughter goes to school about six miles away, which makes it unfeasible for a walk to school in the morning.  But with summer approaching and the temperatures increasing, we are able to get to the point in the year when the girls and I can walk everywhere.  I think that is one reason I am so excited for school to be out.  We literally never have to drive unless we want to.

We are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood situated right in the middle of some of the major roads in our city, and that means we are within one to two miles of anything and everything we need or want to do.  If we walk a little over a mile and a half in one direction we can patron one of the local farmer’s market, visit my dad’s hardware store, and pop in a local teacher supply store for some fun activities and project materials.  If we walk a bit over a mile in the other direction we can buy fabric, visit a bookstore, rent a movie for Friday night movie night, and now with the addition of a new grocery store we can also buy any needed groceries!

This new grocery store is what got the girls going this week.  They wanted to explore the opportunities this new establishment held for them. And, my five year old wanted to make freshly squeezed lemonade.

So with tiny wallet in hand, she headed out the door to begin our quest for lemons.  She even volunteered to push her sister in the stroller…She really wanted to make that lemonade I tell ya 🙂

After a fun afternoon of walking, chatting and fresh air, we pushed off toward home and indulged in some lemonade courtesy of our five year old chef.  And I must say, it was pretty yummy!

Makings

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, the girls and I got to work last night on some cards for the ladies.  Back in December, Santa gave us a great all-natural card making kit by Glob and we had not yet used it. ( I believe the big man in red informed me he purchased this great gift from Nova Natural 🙂

What we loved best about this card kit is that the card stock is seed paper.  So, after all of the mommas are done admiring their creations, they can plant the paper beneath a thin layer of soil and some lovely flowers will sprout…genius…a card and present all in one!

It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful the paintings of children turn out.  They have no set idea in mind, they just create, and the result is breathtaking.  I even tried to just “paint” my own creation last night, but found myself with a flower, leaf, etc. every time.  The mind of a child is one I think we all wish we could emulate.  That wild abandon that turns out to be true beauty so much of the time.  Love.