Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Grand Gathering

Our goofy kids. This is Mom's attempt at photographing older kids. They stiffened up against the wall.
They turned for a profile shot. Except Philip.

"Relax!" I said.
That was on Saturday morning. All of them except Peter went to the beach to see the lovely ocean. Peter worked on the farm instead, clearing out a huge section of our orchard.
On Friday I went to town with Anna and Kara. Do you ever see one tree in the autumn that is more stunning than the others by far? I found that tree in New Bern, in front of the old Episcopal church downtown.

The first thing we did in town was get our feet done. We were all in the mood for a pedicure, and it was fun to do it together. I knitted.

I hope (I really hope) the girls won't shoot me for posting this photo! It was outside a shoe store, and they obliged by posing ....
The orchard gate -- if you want lots of photos of the cleared orchard, they are on our farm blog. Peter worked so very hard!
 We've pulled out a small portion of grape vine from the orchard, just clearing it out of trees.
So this afternoon I made two wreaths. One is about 10" across, the other 12".
 I'll have enough grape vine to make lots and lots of wreaths - more than I could ever use. So I hope to sell them at the market.
This morning all the kiddos left -- Philip and Kara back to Chattanooga and Peter back to college in the mountains, and Anna back to work after taking off several days. So we are back to normal. It's been so VERY fun. (I can't tell you how happy it made me to have them all here!) But Beau says he is worn out -- !!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Table Full of Thanks

This morning I experienced one of the great joys of motherhood: listening to my grown (and nearly-grown) children talk, laugh, bond, re-connect ... while I cooked away in the kitchen with sweet potatoes and green beans. The dogs were happy too.
Adam spent the morning cooking up a storm at church preparing for our big dinner there.
Eighteen of us sat around the table -- young and old, members and visitors, families and singles.

I decorated the long table where we served family style, as usual.
Julia loved sitting between these two littler girls, teaching them all about napkins around the neck.
My plate, loaded with goodness.
After dishes and cleaning up, and then transitioning the church decorations from Thanksgiving to Christmas (because this Sunday is the first of Advent after all!), we came home and collapsed. But before I knew it, two big boys were out in the field, starting up a conflagration --
Peter and Philip rolled that big crepe myrtle stump all the way back there and turned it over into the fire.
As twilight deepened into night, we girls watched the menfolk work.

We relaxed there and had s'mores, and then realized it was only 6:30 -- we all moaned  in disbelief because we were so tired. Now we're lounging in the living room, talking about movies. But I bet we'll be too lazy to put one in the machine and actually watch one.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. We've had a lovely day with lots of pie left over.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Thanksgiving is around the corner, just hours away. Driving from the other end of the state, Peter arrived this evening!
He was dog attacked immediately.
Adam put some Christmas lights outside today -- he loves Christmas lights. This way, Philip and Kara can easily find our house in the wee hours of the night when they drive in, after many, many
hours of driving from Chattanooga.
I baked and cleaned today.
Two pumpkin pies. Two loaves of pumpkin bread. Pie crust for two apple pies to be made in the morning. I'll add sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and regular beans to that. Adam will be at the church making turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls. Our church dinner will be such a feast! About 15 of us will be there, I believe.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! May you spend the day reminding yourself of the grace and love that's poured out in your life from God and from others.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Of Stove Pipes and Chinese Lanterns ...

Life is busy, busy right now, folks! And it'll only get busier from here to the end of the year. There's a wintery peace that falls over me, after Christmas, and I'm eager for it this year.
Have you missed seeing boats? Yesterday while at the farmers' market, I noticed this interesting vessel bobbing at the town dock:
She's called Lapis, crewed alone by a French Canadian named Miguel. He was quite nice and invited me aboard.
I like all the windows on this boat. It gives a bright, friendly feel to the cabin. He's live-aboard (has been for about 6 years, I think he said, so he needs a good living space inside).
The greenery first caught me attention. He had several plant containers like this full of greens and herbs. He covers them when it's chilly at night.
Then he pointed to the front deck and said, "See my stove pipe?"
Yep, he has a woodstove in his catamaran cabin! Adam says this isn't too rare among boaters, but I'd never seen it before. He invited me below and allowed a photo of the cabin. He has a hanging basket of fruit, a cabinet of essential oils, a comfortable bed, wood stowed in the front, lots of cooking equipment. It was quite homey. I'll blow this photo up large so you can see it.
I wanted to take more photos, but didn't want to be annoying. He was kind and welcoming. There was a single burner for cooking. He doesn't have a boat cat, but he says he's willing to have a pet.
In the midst of our busy, sometimes stressful life, Adam brought me ~
I'm making progress.
Julia is enjoying a silly art project she found at Michael's store. Have you heard of "Wreck This Journal"? Each page has a silly instruction like: Drop this book from a high place, or Document your dinner on this page (with food samples), or Splash coffee on this page, or Rip this page out and throw it away.
Julia chose a Chinese city scene for this page. I love the lanterns.
This is my favorite page so far. The lanterns!
The pages together.
Julia and I made a bet that Philip would (my bet) or would not (her bet) remember the little yummy treat they used to make together in Statesville about 5 years ago. It's called a caterpillar: graham crackers with nutella slathered, topped with large marshmallows and baked in the oven till soft, with chocolate chips or M&Ms atop.
Oh yes, he remembered, immediately. That made her happy, but I won the bet! Haha -- so as a reward I get the B&W pictures above with the Chinese lanterns! Yay! I will preserve it. If it stays in that crazy journal, it's sure to die.
And last but not least, a picture of a crazy squirrel, hanging upside down by his feet with a pecan in his mouth.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Salt Watercolor Art

I've been meaning to share an art project I did with my 6th graders a few weeks ago. I found it at this website. I needed plenty of school glue and lots of salt.
And some good stiff paper -- paper that will remain straight and firm if you hold it only at one corner.
The students wrote on the paper with the glue. They wrote their own names, little messages, a friend's name, a parent's name. It was sweet.
Then they carefully brought the paper to the salt table. There, we liberally shook salt onto the glue until it was well covered. Then we firmly tapped the residual salt away, into a big bin.
At the next table they sat and dabbed liquidy watercolor paints onto the salt. This is the fun part. I looked for liquid watercolor paints, but they were hard to find. So I used tempera paints with water added, and this worked just fine too. We had six colors.
I did my love's name, of course.
Even the boys who initially moaned, "Ugh! We have to do a stupid art project?" later did multiple pages because they enjoyed it so much. Success! With sixth grade boys!!
One student who had a momentary spelling lapse, did this one:
The instant I saw it, I asked if she wanted it. (She didn't.) So I asked if I could keep it. Because something weird and inexplicable appealed to me about this simple message. Keep Clam. Keep tight. Keep yourself contained. Keep happy-as-a-clam. Something a little seaside about that one. "Keep Clam and Love." Not sure why I liked it SO much, but I did!