Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Handmade Holidaze

i really love to give handmade gifts. So every year i make the kids a few extra special, hand made gifts. This year i decided to finally make Sage a doll. i love making dolls, but have only attempted rag dolls, and crocheted dolls in the past. i have always been intrigued by Waldorf dolls, but have been too intimidated to attempt one. This year, i decided to put my fears aside and make one. i am quite happy with how she turned out.

Her skin is made from 100% cotton, she is stuffed with local Floyd County wool and her hair is made from wool yarn. i didn't use a pattern or kit, so she doesn't have all the characteristics of true Waldorf dolls. i'm still pretty proud of her, and feel this may be the beginnings of a new obsession.

Her name is Lavender, after Lavender Brown in the Harry Potter series. :) and she is lightly scented with lavender eo. She's got on bloomers, and crocheted mary jane's. :)

Since i made Sage this doll, and the crocheted tea set, i needed something for Sequoia. i had made him a crocheted mug of cocoa, and a stack of play food pancakes. i needed something more though. i actually whipped these out on x-mas eve. A real trick to get them made without him noticing.

This would be a Krusty Krab, crabby patty meal. (From Sponge Bob Squarepants). The labels still need to be hand sewn on.

Lastly, i whipped up this basic owl using several different Etsy owls as inspriation. i had orginally planned to make Sequoia a set of the Guardian of Ga'hoole Owls. We love reading these books, and have developed a love of owls in the process. i ran out of time though, and decided just to stick with this very basic owl. i still need to add his feet. :) i'm sure i'll be crocheting a few more detailed and complicated owls in the future as well as sewing lots of baby doll clothing. i should probably get a head start on it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Easy Bread Bowls

We make soup in bread bowls quite often, and folks are always asking me how i make my bread i thought i'd post it here. i've played with a couple different bread bowl recipes, and this is my favorite. They are very easy, yummy and hold soup well.

Bread Bowls

1 cup warm water (from tap)
1 package active dry yeast
1 TBSP sugar
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (i use canola)
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups flour (i do half whole wheat/half white flour)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds (optional)
4-6 pyrex small bowls

preheat oven to 385

Measure water into large bowl; sprinkle in yeast and stir until dissolved. Add sugar and let sit a few minutes, until frothy. Add oil, salt and 1 cup white flour; beat until smooth. Add 1 cup whole wheat flour and flax seeds. Mix well, begin to knead and add enough additional flour to make stiff dough. i usually add 1/4-1/2 cup white flour. Knead well for a couple min, and then slowly add more WW flour until dough is soft, but no longer sticky and is smooth and elasticy, 5-10 min. Set aside and let rest.

Grease outside of 6 pyrex bowls (pan spray works well). i use the little custard size bowls. i think they are 6 oz. You can use the bigger 8 oz bowls, you'll make 4 large bowls instead.

Punch dough down; divide into 4-6 pieces. Spread each piece into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Place over outside of bowl, working dough with hands until it fits. Set bowls, dough side up, on baking sheet coated with nonstick spray. Let them set for a couple min. they'll rise just slightly.

Then bake them about 8min. Use an oven mitt to flip bread bowls right side up ( They're HOT!) and remove the pyrex dish.

Now bake them right side up an addition 8 min. until they are golden brown. In the pictures, i use 3 of the small glass bowls, and two of the larger size. Fill with soup and enjoy!!

Broccoli cheese,veggie chili and corn chowder are our favorite soups to eat in a bread bowl.

Solstice Blessings.

The Winter Solstice, is a pretty important day around here. Even though it marks the first day of winter, which is definitely not my favorite time of year, it represents much more than that.
The Solstice is the shortest day of the year, so every day after today will be a little bit longer. So the solstice marks the return of the sun. Although we are preparing for a long cold winter, each day we will see a little more sunlight, a little reminder that spring is not that far off.

Solstice Blessing
Now the time of growing starts!
Joyful hands and joyful hearts!
Cheer the Yule log as it burns!
Once again, the Sun returns!

We celebrate by feeding the birds, making birdhouses and bird feeders, and putting out nuts, fruits and other treats for our woodland friends who are also preparing for the winter.

This simple feeder was made by recycling a milk carton.

So, about a month ago, one of our favorite hens disappeared. It has been extremely cold out, and we've seen no sign of her, and had just assumed the worst. She was a very wild hen, and flew over the fence the minute she was let out of the coop. Often time she would even refuse to sleep in the coop, and spent the night out in the trees. This may be why we liked her so much, her spirit reminded us of our very first chicken, Mama hen.

So fast forward to this morning, i open the door and what do i see ? My missing hen, with 5 baby chicks!!! i have no idea how they have survived the last few nights of 6-8 degree temps. i'm really surprised she was even able to hatch them this time of's been so extremely cold out.

We scooped them all up, and put them in the coop to hopefully protect them a little better from the cold and the hungry predators outside. Soren, although a first time mama is very good and protective mama hen.

The kids of course, adore the chicks. So we have to pull them out and hold each one every time we step outside. Although we really didn't want any more chickens, this was a sweet surprise and blessing. The return of a long lost hen, and 5 adorable little bundles of fluff. A nice reminder of all the things, small and large, that we have to be grateful for.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Glass exhibitions.

The last few months Kenan has been very busy in the glass shop preparing for 2 marble exhibitions in Japan that he was invited to take part in. These are the first major exhibitions that he has ever had the honor of participating in.

The exhibition at the Kobe Lampwork Museum is a 3 month show (Oct. - Dec.) in which many American marble makers were invited to display their work.

The smaller exhibition is in Kariya, Aichi precture. It was two weeks long. (Nov 21 - Dec. 6) It was put on by the small gallery, You-Yuusya, and displayed the work of only 8 American artists and 4 Japanese artists. It was arrranged, in part, by Akihiro Ohkama, one of Japans most recognized bead and marble makers.

Kenan and Akihiro in Nara, Japan 2007

Kenan has been selling his glass work in Japan for almost 6 years now, and we greatly appreciate all of the support and encouragement he has received from the Japanese glass community over the years. He feels very fortunate to have been invited to participate in both of these events and hopes that the Japanese appreciation for glass art will continue to grow.

So that is what Kenan has been working on for the last few months. The focus for the New year, will be to work on rebuilding his website, and create more individual pieces to retail on Ebay and Etsy, as opposed to just wholesaling production work to other retailers. He is also preparing for an upcoming show in Las Vegas, the Glass Craft and Bead Expo. It runs from April 1st through April 5th. Kenan will be flying out for the show, and experiencing Las Vegas for the first time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gingerbread Obsession.

Last year, while looking for holiday cookie recipes, i stumbled across a section on the Martha Stewart website dedicated to gingerbread. Truth is, i've never much liked gingerbread, and i've never been all that inclined to attempt a gingerbread house or little gingerbread men. However there was something about the pictures that drew me in, and i quickly fell in love with the idea of decorating in gingerbread.

So why do i love gingerbread? Decorating in gingerbread is very traditional, and there is something about making it that connects us with those that came before us. Making gingerbread and cutting out the cookies is fun for the kids, and brings us all together around the table. For a brief few minutes, there is no fighting or arguing. Just the patting, and cutting of cookies...and the fantastic smells of the gingerbread. Gingerbread is all natural, inexpensive and biodegradable. After the holidays it can be composted or fed to the chickens. There is nothing to store, which is incredibly nice when you are limited on space.

Every year, we can look forward to creating brand new decorations or repeating some of our favorites from the year before. This gingerbread suncatcher mobile is a new favorite.

Gingerbread oak and maple leaf mobile, similar to last years.

Ginger bread wreaths, made from mini gingerbread cookies. These look beautiful on the tree, or hung on a wall. The woodstove keeps the house dry enough that these will last for several months.

Gingerbread on the tree.

i made a garland like this last year too, and really loved it. When the sun is out, the colors really light up on the stained glass cookies. i have gingerbread all over the house. There is something about it's simplicity, that just makes me smile to myself. As much as i miss the summer and days of playing outside, i adore these days of winter while we warm ourselves by the woodstove, and sip hot chocolate while the sweet smell of gingerbread lingers in the air.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Adorning our tree

i really love being able to bring in the same tree year after year. It's like having an old friend visit and share the holidays with us. The kids were super eager to start decorating it. So Kenan pulled the holiday bin out from under the house. It only took a few minutes of pulling out decorations, before i started putting them all back away, realizing that mixing glass ornaments and a highly spirited two year old is just a huge accident waiting to happen.

So we decided to stick with safe and simple ornaments. Pinecones, candy canes, bells, bows and gingerbread. We did put a few handmade glass icicles at the very top, out of reach from Sagie. i admit, i prefer the simplicity.

The kids did a great job decorating. Sage was in charge of the bottom, Sequoia got the middle, and i finished up the top.

Even though the tree is not huge or spectacular, i don't think it could be anymore perfect.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Digging our tree

The first year that we lived here, we decided to buy a potted tree for the holidays. i have never liked the idea of cutting trees, and an artificial one was just out of the questions. So we bought a nice one in a big pot, decorated it and enjoyed it and then planted it on our land. We did this the first few years that we lived here, and eventually realized that if we continue with this traditon we will quickly run out of room. So for the last couple years, we have dug up one of our past trees to decorate and then we replant it after the new year.

Kenan getting ready to dig our little tree.

This lucky little tree gets to come inside, and celebrate with us for it's third time. :) i don't think it minds too much. Tomorrow we will pull out all the decorations, tie on bows and hang bells and candy canes. Tonight though, we will just enjoy the smell and beauty of bringing this living tree inside with us.

Monday, December 1, 2008


This is how our December began.

We woke to sheets of huge fat wet snow flakes. When you looked up, all you could see was a sky of white. Sequoia was extremely excited, as we never get much snow here. He ran around trying to catch as many snow flakes on his tongue as he could.

Then, my little scientist, ran upstairs and came back with his magnifying glass and a piece of black paper. He wanted to get a closer look at each snow flake as it landed on the paper. The snow was so wet, it only took a couple min. before the paper was soggy, so he went back to running, jumping, and spinning in it.

The snow lasted for a couple hours, but was melted before he returned home from school. Sequoia was really disappointed. Somehow, i doubt this will be the last of it. There will be many more opportunities to build snowmen, have snowball fights and catch snowflakes on the tongue. All signs are pointing to a long, hard, snowy winter.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

November update

i apologize for neglecting our blog. It has been so cold here for most of the month that we have not been spending much time outside. The lighting in my house sucks, so i rarely take pictures they come out blurry or dark, or the flash makes everyone look weird.

Sequoia has been busy with school, building bionicles and attending birthday parties almost every weekend.

Kenan has been working really long hours, stocking up inventory for two different glass exhibitions in Japan. He won't be attending these, just sending his work to be on display for several months. It's a good opportunity, and good exposure, but also a huge commitment that he is not guaranteed to get paid for unless his work sells.

Sage and i have been hanging out next to the woodstove. She has recently taken an interest in building, so she spends a lot of time constructing towers and knocking them down. i've gotten a pretty good head start on my holiday gifts. Crocheting lots of dish clothes, hats, wrist warmers and the occasional fruit, vegetable or dessert.

Sage will be getting mainly handmade gifts again this year. Every time i look on i see some thing i just have to make her. :) So she will be getting flower fairies, gnomes and these cute little pixie bugs that i came across on another website. i inteded to make her one, then two...then somehow i ended up with 6. i'm sure they will make a fun gift surprise for someone. :)

i have finally got my sewing machine (and fabric) back out, and will probably stitch up a few gifts before the year ends. i have several ideas, just need to get started on it.

It's been a good month, although we have all felt the slowing down that comes this time of year. Now that the world outside is sleeping, and i'm no longer consumed with the garden, we sink into a new rhythm and routine. Lots more sitting, reading, and snuggling. Lots of coloring and crafting and dreaming. i just can't imagine doing anything else right now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cookie time!

In preparation for our Thanksgiving feast, we decided we needed some harvest cookies. .

Sage loves to help bake, and refused all help. She rolled them out and cut them all by herself. i made this apron for her a while ago, and now everyime i start cooking anything..she grabs her apron and yells, " me help! Sagie help too!"

We make cookies in the shapes of fall leaves, and pumkins. Sequoia insisted on a couple bats too. We also cut out basic rounds for the turkey cookies.

Sequoia was bored after about two cookies, but Sage stayed and helped until we were done. We frosted the leaves in Autumn colors of yellow and orange.
Then we worked on decorating our turkeys. Sequoia helped quite a bit with these, assembling the tails while Sage napped. Once she woke, we finished putting them all together.

Sugar cookie Turkeys
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
*Chocolate decorators icing
1 bag candy corn
candy confetti sprinkles.

Beat sugar, butter, shortening, vanilla and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough 1/8" thick on well floured surface. Cut circles with 2" biscuit cutter for turkey bodies. Use smaller circle to cut turkey heads. i used the back side of a metal icing tip (dip in flour after each use).

Bake 6-8 min. or until very light brown. Remove from pan and cool completely.

*Chocolate decorators icing
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBSP milk.

mix till smooth.

When assembling turkeys. We decorated the tails and heads first, and let them dry completely. Then we frosted the bodies and added the tails and heads.

To create the tails, cut one 2" cookie in half, frost each half and add 5 candy corns to look like turkey feathers. The candy corns at the bottom, should be level with the edge, as these will help the tails stand up. Let dry completely.

For the Heads, frost and add sprinkles for eyes and the tip of a candy corn for the beak. (We found enough broken ones in the bag, that we didn't have to cut any.) Let dry completely.

To assemble, frost the circle body, place one half circle tail on the cookie, and one head.
That's it! Let them dry and enjoy!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Keeping Warm.

We were hit with the cold weather so early this year, that we realized we didn't have nearly enough wood. We have never had to start burning so early in the year. We really did not want to have to buy wood, but Kenan had already cut and taken almost all of the fallen trees out of the woods and we really prefer not to cut living trees.

Earlier this week, the weather was mild. So we took a hike in the woods, to try and combat the cabin fever we have all been feeling. We decided to go a different way, so Kenan could scope out any usable downed trees on our property. We had just crossed over the little creek behind our house, when we spotted this amazing oak tree that had recently fallen. It's absolutely huge, must have been 80 to 100 feet tall. Just over from this tree was another large fallen oak, that was already very seasoned.

It's difficult to see, but they are standing on the dried and rotted roots of this great oak. These trees will provide our heat for at least the next two winters. It is always a bit bitter sweet to see a tree this size fallen. However, it couldn't have come at a better time. What a blessing.

Before heading back to the house, we hiked down to the creek. There was just a thin layer of ice beginning to form over it. The kids (Kenan included) picked up every rock and stick with an attempt to smash the ice.

i always like trying to capture the reflections, and sense of peace that exists here.

So now the hard work begins. Bringing it up from the woods, the cutting, hauling and stacking. It is a lot of work, but like tending a garden or cooking a meal from scratch, it is well worth it. It is extremely rewarding and satisfying.

During these cold days of winter, there is no place i would rather be than snug in front of the woodstove with a child or two on my lap.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter on the way...

Winter is definitely on the way. It is has been in the 20's almost all week. A few days ago we went out to gather eggs, and Sage was immediately drawn to the big piles of leaves that had gathered under the oak tree.

What could be more fun then jumping in them, rolling on them, crunching them under the feet and throwing them in the air?

Sage hates having her picture taken, and will almost always turn her head or avoid looking at me if i'm holding the camera. The only way i could get her to pose for a picture was to let her hold a chicken.

Just as we were heading inside it started to snow. Sage though that was pretty exciting. We've seen quite a bit of snow this month, although none of it has stuck. We are preparing for a long cold winter.