Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

(Harris' card)
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  To me, Thanksgiving is so special because of its lack of commercialism and its focus on family (not to mention food!).  We had a great day with family spent in the kitchen, around the fire and eating some of our very favorite foods! I often find it difficult to get good photos on days like these.  Food is hard for me to photograph, the lighting is terrible, and it can be awkward standing around snapping pictures when everyone is standing around ready to eat!    However, here are a few photos from our Thanksgiving...

 (Grace's card)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Balloons Over Broadway

Like many, one of our traditions is to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on television the morning of Thanksgiving.  Last night, Bryce read aloud Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet.  You guys, it's such a wonderful book!  It's informative, the illustrations are darling, and it's inspiring!  I always am excited to find a nonfiction book that is this delightful.

I love how it describes Tony Sarg as a man who never grew up or worked a day in his life, as he loved his work so much.  He was an inventor and artist who has brought joy to millions of people.  I had no idea about the history behind the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and I love that it partly grew from one mans love of marionettes, puppets and creatively solving problems!

After reading the book I asked the children if they would like to design a family balloon and Grace was excited about it (Harris was in a bit of a mood!).  She got to work and designed a frog and a fly.  I think they are so darling!

Do you think they will make the parade next year?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Preparing for Thanksgiving

We are coming out of a really lovely weekend where we spent time with family and friends, sat by the fire as the wind whistled outside and chatted with a dear friend who, no matter how long it's been, it feels like just yesterday that we were teaching together and laughing at the antics all around us! 

Today, I am preparing to host Thanksgiving and I'm super excited that all of my immediate family will be together this year for the first time in a long while!  I'm having a small procedure done tomorrow to hopefully take care of a rather pesky and painful vein on my leg, so I want to be totally prepared by the end of today!  Our turkey is ordered, our traditional menu is set, a few kid projects are in the works, the silver is being polished and I picked up these sweet cards to pass out to everyone.

Our menu is basically the same year after year.  We've had the delicious and coveted sweet potato souffle for as long as I can remember; it's a treat that we look forward to all year long.  We've also always had an amazing sage dressing but we can longer have it due to Harris' corn allergy (the base is cornbread) so I'm trying a new one this year.  I'm really hoping that it can be "the one."  

Thanksgiving Menu

Sweet Tea

Sage stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Sweet Potato Souffle
Green Beans
Deviled Eggs

Apple Tart w/ Cinnamon Ice Cream
Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mixture

Last year around this same time I was making something in the kitchen that required pumpkin pie spice (I think it was these!) and discovered that I didn't have any in the spice drawer.  I was entirely too lazy to run to the store, so after a quick internet search I mixed up my own and I've been hooked ever since. It takes about 2 minutes to throw together and you probably have all 4 ingredients in your spice drawer. This mix is missing cloves, but I think if you want cloves just throw a couple of teaspoons on in!  Some of the recipes I saw included them but I decided to leave it out.  Here's our mix...

Pumpkin Pie Spice

4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground allspice

Mix all spices together and store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Favorite Things #38

This might seem like an odd thing to post about, but it's truly one of my favorite things and as we are pulling out sweaters and coats I'd thought it was the perfect time to share.  Ten years ago, while we were still living in Atlanta, I discovered Autrepeau inner-wear.  They are paper thin undershirts that I think are just genius.  I wear them under my wool sweaters and they keep them from being itchy, I don't have to wash my sweaters after every wear and they add no extra bulk.  It's a win on all fronts!  Honestly, I feel like these are a secret that needs to be shared!

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Thanksgiving Platter

For several years, I've been looking for a turkey transfer ware platter for our Thanksgiving table. Unfortunately, they can be expensive and a little hard to find in great condition, especially since I have my heart set on brown.  Recently, I came upon a brown platter with a sweet pattern around the edge and just fell in love with it.  I decided to stop my search and use this platter for our turkey!  And as a bonus, I can use it year round instead of one day a year!

The pattern is Eureka made by Dunn Bennet and Company.  I love how you can see places where the transfer didn't line up or was smudged.  Apparently, the platter could be from the 1880's!  I wonder how many Thanksgiving tables it has graced?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Knitted Socks

Children who attend a Waldorf school typically learn how to knit before they learn to read.  Waldorf believes that knitting is excellent for brain and personal development.  Personally, I believe that creating something by hand and having a sense of pride and accomplishment goes a long way in todays world.

Grace entered Waldorf pretty late in the game, but she still took to knitting pretty quickly (here's the gnome she made for Harris last year).  Last year, as part of the 5th grade curriculum, every student knitted a pair of socks.  It took Grace a while to finish hers, but she finally brought them home a few weeks ago. They are too bulky to wear as regular socks, but she does wear them around the house as slippers!  Also?  I bought these pants for Grace at the end of summer.  Why are they already too short?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Copper Drink Dispenser

When we were on vacation in Cape Cod, Gretchen and I took a couple of hours to go antiquing while the children and husbands visited the outdoor center.  At our first stop I spotted this copper drink dispenser and immediately knew that I wanted it.  What followed was a complete comedy of errors by all parties involved...

The dispenser had just been brought in and the lady who owned the store had not priced it yet.  When Gretchen and I started looking at the dispenser we couldn't figure out how to open it!  We unscrewed a screw (all under the watchful eye of the owner), we debated about whether the brass portion came off, we even discussed shearing the top right off!  The owner said to make an offer, I threw out $40 and she took it!  I couldn't get it out of there fast enough!



When we got home, I was showing Bryce the dispenser and asking him to try to work on the lid, when he lifted the lid right off with no effort!  Now, I promise that not one of us in the store, including the owner, was able to get that lid off.  I don't know if it was stuck or if we were just that clueless but when the top lifted right off we felt rather silly! 

Once we got the lid off we discovered that the inside was in really rough shape and it wouldn't be at all safe to drink out off*.  Therefore, my deal of a dispenser ended up costing a rather pretty penny in that getting it re-tinned turned out to be an expensive and labor intensive job.  Through my research I discovered that there are really only two re-tinners in the country that I wanted to trust the dispenser with.  I went with Jim at East Coast Tinning and he did an outstanding and beautiful job!  He also polished all the copper and brass!

The dispenser is so beautiful (even more so in person) and its dings, dents, and scratches give it history and a lovely patina.  I love that we now get to add our own history to it's story.

*When Ron saw the inside of the dispenser his first words were, "No way am I ever drinking out of that!"  I'm happy to report that he has and it was without fear!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pink and Say

Today, on Veteran's Day, I want to share what is perhaps my favorite picture book ever!  I love, love, love this book.  It's easy to assume that picture books are best for young children and, of course, they are wonderful but they can also be great for older children.  In fact, I didn't share this book with Grace and Harris until recently.  Patricia Polacco is an amazing author and we enjoy lots of her books but Pink and Say has a special place in my heart.  My only problem with this book is that I simply cannot get through it without crying!

There is so much to be pulled from this story about two boys, both fighting on the same side in the Civil War, who develop a special and unlikely relationship.   This is a story about friendship, love, family and courage, and it has some pretty heavy themes in it such as racial tensions, death, and violence. One of the things that make this story even more powerful is that it is a true story that has been passed down through Patricia's family.  I cannot imagine not having this beautiful and deeply touching story in our library and I highly recommend you read it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Magic Birthday Party

Harris' birthday party was super fun and it was made all the more fun by the fact that it was super easy to put together!  We went ahead and splurged on hiring a magician to come to our home and it was well worth it.  He was no more expensive than going to a venue for a party and the boys absolutely loved his show.  It made it a lot easier to have 12 eight and nine year old boys in the house when they were occupied and intent on what the magician was doing!

The food was simple since the party was after lunch.  We served a card cake, magic wands and top hats with bunny ears.

Since Harris' interest in magic has really been centered around card tricks we made a sheet cake to look like a 9 of spades.


The magic wands were pretzel sticks dipped in white chocolate.

I tried to make sugar cookie bunny ears to stick in the chocolate muffins but they were a complete failure.  Therefore, I just printed and cut bunny ears out.  They looked way neater and cuter than the cookies would have.

Bryce and I made the light up magic sign!

For the favors we gave each child a brand new deck of cards and candy sticks. Simple.

Our family with the birthday boy!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Invitations for a Magic Party

Grace has a friend who is quite good at card tricks and from the moment Harris met him, and witnessed a few of these tricks, he has been really taken with performing some of his own card tricks.  Therefore, when we were deciding what to do for a birthday party it was an obvious choice to choose a magical theme!
We designed an invitation that resembled a playing card with a picture of Harris on the front and the party information on the back.  Harris has always had a fondness for "getting into character" so he was game for throwing on his magic cape and hat that he has had for years.  Also, I love that he arranged the front card to be a 9 (his age).  I didn't even notice this until after we made the invitation!

Since the invitations were so little, the size of a playing card, we just made small pocket envelopes for them by cutting a strip of paper and gluing the sides shut with hot glue.  Harris stuck some star stickers on the front for a little extra pizzaz.  The only problem with the envelopes?  They were so small that at least one person didn't even see it in their mailbox!  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Harris

This boy.  He's a total mess much of the time- grass stains on his knees, dirt under his fingernails, socks that are stinky and a mass of curls that just won't quit.  Last week he broke an attic window while playing a game with a hacky sack!  And yet no matter how crazy he might be, at the end of the day, when he is all tucked into bed and he says to me, "Mom, I is loving you" I can't help but melt and admit that he is pretty awesome (I can say that as his Mom, right?).  We were so blessed when he joined our family.   Here are the the top ten things that I love , or drive me crazy, about Harris.  All are things that I want to remember about this son of mine.

1.  He can't stop doing card tricks.  If I've heard, "Pick a card, any card" once I've heard it a million times.

2.  He's a bit of a slob.  At any given moment his room looks like a tornado came through.

3.  He worships his father.  If there is ever a choice between his Dad or myself, he will always choose his Dad (it doesn't bother me one bit).

4.  He has had the same best friend he's had since he was 4.  He loves his buddies!

5.  He's a piddler.  It will take him 15 minutes to do what should take 2, simply because he finds 20 other more interesting things to do in between.

6.  He LOVES to be read to.  Sure, he will read on his own but he much prefers his Dad, his sister or his Mom to read him a story.

7.  He has informed us that he is going to be a baseball player and during the off season he will be a magician.

8.  His favorite food is steak or pork ribs.

9.  He's always up to give hugs or cuddle and he will even hold my hand (until he gets within the vicinity of his friends!).  When he was little he would tell me every few minutes that he loved me and he will still randomly do so.  It warms my heart.

10.  He's still desperate for a dog.

P.S.  Tomorrow I'll post pictures from his magical birthday party!
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