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.