Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer Fruit Picking

Blueberry Picking at Underwood Farms in Somis, CA

Summers always seem to keep us more busy than the school year and my posts have slowed down for the time being. My family always comes to visit in the summer when the kids are out of school and June brought us my sister and her family for two weeks. As a tradition, we always go fruit and vegetable picking when they come. This year, we headed up to Somis, CA to pick fresh, delicious blueberries.

The highlight was when Elena discovered a beautiful birds nest among the blueberry bushes.

Needless to say, the three girls ate most of their blueberries as we were picking, so we had to double time it to fill their baskets before we left, while my nephew swiftly filled his as the victorious champion blueberry picker! :D

That night, the girls and I settled down to read the lovely tale by Robert McCloskey called, "Blueberries for Sal".

A couple of weeks later, we did our annual cherry picking field trip with one of the local homeschooling groups.

"Hey, who's eating all my cherries?"

A job well done!

Doesn't look so good, but it was delicious - a blueberry, cherry pie!

Cherry Blueberry Pie
(from Rhodes website)

1 ¾ Pounds sweet cherries (rinsed & pitted)
3 Tbsp. Lemon juice
1 ½ cups. Fresh Blueberries (rinsed & drained or, frozen)
1 Cup Sugar
¼ c. cornstarch
2 tsp. Butter (cup into small pieces)

In a large bowl mix cherries & blueberries w/ lemon juice. Combine sugar & cornstarch gently stir into them.

Spoon mixture into pastry in pan, scatter butter evenly over fruit. Top pastry with shell. 13x17’ pan.

Bake on bottom rack of a 400 temp. Regular oven or convection oven until fruit is bubbly in center and pastry is well-browned approx. 1 hour, cool for 3 hours.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy St. John's Day! Midsummer's Day!

St. John, oh happy festival,
Thou festival of light,
With songs and happy melodies
Our souls may grow so wide.

For all the beauty of the world
Which loving spirits have unfurled,
Oh come! Oh come ye spirits gay
And dance with us on Saint John's Day.
~Wynstone's "Summer"

Today is Midsummer's Day and marks the half way point of the year -today being the day we celebrate the birth of St. John, which is placed exactly six months before we celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve.

Midsummer traditionally is the season for fire rituals indicative of purification and transformation. The heat of the rising sun is at its peak. Sunflowers grow in the sun...yellow bumble bees buzz from flower to flower, dancing under the golden sun, children flit about like butterflies in the summer breeze.

We are heading to a friends house to swim today and tonight, I will read the girls a wonderful story for Midsummer by the amazing Christine Natale (who is hard at work on her Fairy Tales book) entitled "The Return of the Sun King". Christine was kind enough to share it on my blog a few months ago and I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do! Reading this story on St. Johnstide is our new annual tradition, along with making some sun stars to grace our windows! (pictures to come soon)!

Hope you all enjoy this marvelous day and celebrate the arrival of summer! Christine has published stories about St. Nicholas here. And she began a blog several months ago which can be found here. She has been very busy lately with her new waldorf school, but loves to hear how her stories have touched our children, so feel free to leave her a comment on her blog!

A Chance to Own a SoftEarthArt Original!!!!

For those who haven't seen Marie's work, she is an artist to keep an eye on! Not only is she amazingly sweet and humble, but she has an amazing talent. Here is an opportunity to win one of her gorgeous figures through New Zealand Handmade! How appropriate that was chosen for their very first giveaway :D

You can enter the contest here...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Who's Peeking Out Here?

I feel like I've been away from my blog forever and I have missed sharing our days. My sister and her family just left for Colorado last night so I have lots of fun posts to catch up on. But I wanted to share some of the wildlife ~ and not so *wild* life that we've experienced over the past few days.

Lizards are in abundance in Southern Cal and the girls and I have been having fun catching some of them to study a bit before releasing them back where we found them.

This little female is a western fence lizard, also called "swifts" or "bluebellies". The males have much darker blue marking on their underbellies than the females. Isn't she gorgeous!

When Charley was holding her, she jumped out of her hands and started climbing on her back and up in her hair! She was so light and swift that Charley didn't even feel it and couldn't find her, until I picked her up and placed her on her shoulder. Look at the joy on Char's face!

One last shot of her beautiful blue belly...

Now this was a larger one we trapped under our bucket, but it was too fast for us (don't want any tail injuries) so we just enjoyed watching it run up the stucco on our house.

And speaking of tail injuries - this poor lizard had lost its tail (click on the picture to see how it is regenerating), so we just watched it a while. I am not sure what type it is, but the orange feet made it appear similar to a California Alligator Lizard. I did not handle it, so it was harder to type ~ not to mention I'm a complete novice! Lizards use their tails as a decoy to escape and the tails are easily broken if pulled or pushed up against a hard surface, so it's important to be very careful when trying to capture one. If the tail breaks off, it spasms, which is quite graphic and gross and I think could be very upsetting to sensitive children. I found this video of a tail that was severed accidentally. It is graphic, but can be seen here.

You can also see some information on the California Alligator Lizard, including stock photos of the dropped tail here (near the middle of the page).

He scurried across our yard for cover under some bushes.

And this cutie is the smallest Praying Mantis I have ever seen. He was so adorable and tiny that I had a hard time photographing him without a macro lens.

You can get an idea, though, of his size in comparison to the letters on our garbage can! I'm hoping he grows big and strong and sets to work on some of our dreaded black widow spiders!

Speaking of spiders, the girls and Tony spent about 30 minutes just sitting and watching a flawless orb web being constructed.

This is "Sally". I think she was a Zygiella x-notata.

And hidden in the bush next to her was this bruiser...

I think this is a Funnel Web Spider.

And on the "not-so-wild side", these two canine cuties are bonding and playing together just beautifully!

Our one-eyed captain is a total love!

I missed yesterday's book review, but will be sure to continue that this coming Friday and hope to post some of the fun things we did on our vacation with some of the cousins this week!

Monday, June 14, 2010

And The Winner Is...

The Winner of The Waldorf Connection Giveaway is....


Hallie said, "I would love to be entered in to win this too! I have gotten to listen to a few of the recordings and am loving the information I am getting. We are new to Waldorf and loving the change it is making in our lives! Thanks for the chance to win this!" and she also posted about it on her blog :D

Hallie, we'll need to get your email addy where you'd like it sent, so please email Donna directly at:

This week and weekend is jam-packed with sessions, so be sure to tune in for some great info! Thank you to Donna for this great giveaway and congratulations to you, Hallie! Thank you to all who entered!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Book Review: What's Hiding in There?

"What's Hiding in There?" by the very talented Daniela Drescher is a wonderful book for preschool on up. It's only 7 double spread pages of lift-the flaps, but the art work is absolutely stunning and the wonder the kids have at lifting the flaps to reveal the surprise is so precious!

The book is a series of vignettes centered around nature, wildlife, and "wee folk" (fairies, elves, etc). It is written with a series of questions which encourage children to lift the flaps to find the hidden object.

Here are a couple of the 2 page spreads...

This book is put out by Floris Books and just about anything Floris puts out is fantastic. Ms. Drescher has numerous books available, many of which can be seen at waldorf book stores.

If you have a younger child full of wonder, I bet they would love this book! I have seen some of her postcards at the Waldorf Toys online shop, but know shipping is outrageous to the States. Has anyone seen them locally or within the US/Canada, by chance?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June Seasonal Table

Dig a little hole.
Plant a little seed.
Pour a little water.
Pull a little weed.

Chase a little bug -
Heigh-ho, there he goes!
Give a little shunshine.
Grow a little rose.

~ Wynstone's "Spring"

If you would like to share a picture of your seasonal table, please add your blog link to my comments section! How fun!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Waldorf Homeschooling Expo Giveaway!!!!

Many of you have probably heard already about "The Waldorf Connection", started by the amazing Donna Ashton last year. For those who have not, here is some background information about The Waldorf Connection and how and why it was started:

When I found the Waldorf method 4 years ago, I knew it was what I wanted for my family. I gathered as much information as I could find through books and online websites. But, I still had so many questions and wanted specific things explained. Wet-on-wet painting was such an issue with me, that for 2 years I didn't even try it! I kept wondering, "Was I doing this right?" As I looked ahead to the upcoming grades, I knew I needed some help. I couldn't be the only one wanting more! So, that was how The Waldorf Connection began. So far, I have had such an overwhelming response, and many parents thanking me, it is very satisfying.

I created the Waldorf Connection to be exactly that- a place where homeschooling families can connect to teachers and experts in the Waldorf field. My goal- to bring concrete information to help parents understand the Waldorf concepts and to support the family-run Waldorf entrepreneurs.

The Homeschool Expo was designed after a regular Homeschool expo, but online. I am hosting 15+ workshops on planning, grade overviews, parenting, rhythm, multiple-age homeschooling, rites of passage, music and more! Are you wondering which curriculum to choose for next year? Come listen to your favorite speaker and see what they offer before you buy. Peruse our Vendor Room with online store displaying their books, supplies, curriculums, toys, etc. Registration and all workshops are *free*. Just sign-up at

I had a chance to interview Donna a bit and asked her a few questions:

How has Waldorf education enriched your lives?

I started out with the idea that Waldorf education was my homeschooling curriculum. It soon turned into our "lifestyle". A lot of the same principles that I had been adhering to in our family life, are within the Waldorf method, so it was a good fit. I love the 'living' way that the children (and I) learn. The beautiful materials and enchanting stories, art, music. It is all so enriching! And it incorporates the baking, painting, knitting of our daily lives, into the rhythm of school.

What is your favorite Waldorf resource book?

Does the Internet count? Seriously, I have a few that I really turn to like "Child's Seasonal Treasury" and "Little Garden Flower's curriculum", "Rhythms of Learning" and "All Year Round". O.k. I know that is more than one, but I love to take what I need from a few sources and then make it my own.

If you could choose 4 Waldorf inspired materials to enhance your homeschool, what would they be?

1) Coloring with Block Crayons by Sieglinde De Francesca (available thru A Little Garden Flower)- These taught me how to color!

2) Beautiful, wool felt for wet and needle felting - give this a try it is amazing what you can create.

3) A song Cd like, "Naturally I Sing", "Sing a Song of Seasons", or one of her other sets. We have used these for years and now I find myself humming tunes as I work around the house.

4) My own imagination... I love to weave part of myself and my children's interests into our lessons.

I will giveaway an entire set of all the Expo Workshops on MP3- over 15 hours of content. (value $57) You can listen to the workshops again and again, download to your Ipod or burn to CD. An excellent resource to keep for the future, as your children grow or just to refresh your knowledge.

To be entered in the giveaway, please leave a comment. If you would like to be entered again please share the love and blog about this giveaway and remember to let me know you have done so! A winner will be announced Monday morning, June 14th!

I have added a button on the side of my blog linking to The Waldorf Connection, please feel free to add it to your blog and share the love:) Here is the link:

Thank you, Donna, for sharing so generously with all of us! Your time and efforts to bring Waldorf inspired awareness and knowledge to the rest of us is so appreciated!!!!

The lucky winner will be announced next Monday, June 14th!

For those who are interested in a holistic lifestyle, Donna has also started The Mindful Connection. You can find a link to it to the left of my blog. It was fabulous!

UPDATE: The Winner of the Waldorf Connection Giveaway is Hallie!!!!!