Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Time and Hard Time

Isla and I have a little moment each evening when we check in with each other. Sometimes it's before we even eat dinner, but usually it happens when we are lying down in bed, after saying our nighttime blessing. We call it "Hard time, and happy time," and it started out spontaneously about a year ago, when I knew she had had a hard day. All it is is a moment to share one (or more!) hard time and one happy time that we each remember from the day. I make sure I don't make her feel responsible for any of my hard times, so I never say anything like, "My hard time was when you threw a huge tantrum on the grocery store floor!" or anything like that. I love this little connection, and it often gives me real insight into her day and her heart. She tells me things like, "My hard time was when *so-and-so* threw water on me at lunchtime at school," or "My happy time was when Lyra shared her special doll with me." It is so sweet. I think/hope it will continue into her teenage years...

I came up with the idea after reading somewhere about a mom and daughter who kept a journal to each other. The mom would write to the daughter, and leave the journal on her bed. Then, the daughter would write back to her mom, and leave it on her mom's bed. It went back and forth this way for years, and they had great communication and mutual understanding largely because of it. I'd like to maybe start doing that when the girls are older.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall Dinner Table Centerpieces

My oldest has fun decorating the dinner table with me every morning with items that are the color of the day. Here we have:

Saturday - blue
Tuesday - red
Sunday - white and light blue
Friday - green
Thursday - orange

*For the pumpkin soup pictured on Thursday's table - make a chicken noodle (or veggie noodle) soup and add chunks of cooked pumpkin.

Lazure Painting the Kids' Room for $40 in One Day

I loved the color of the girls' room. A bright golden, yellow-orange - the same color my room was as a teenager. But for my two firecrackers, I think it was a little much for them energetically. For $40 (plus the cost of watercolors, if you don't already have those) I did a re-do, attempting a lazure-faux style, similar to what I've seen in Waldorf pre-schools, specifically like the Waldorf pre-school in Cuernavaca.

1 gallon of Swiss Coffee-colored paint (Or 1 quart if you don't need to paint over the existing color)
Stockmar watercolors in blue, red, and yellow
Rags (I managed it with two)
Plates or bowls for mixing colors

I started by painting over the yellow-orange with one coat of "Swiss Coffee" and let it dry. Then, after the girls went to bed, I put a little of the paint on a paper plate and mixed in some Stockmar watercolor in red to make a rosy pink color. I mixed the paint with some water and used an old rag to rub it on the walls. Then I mixed a little blue watercolor into the paint to make the lavender color and tried to blend it in a little. Then I made blue for above the lavender, and above that, green then yellow. I mixed lavender with pink to make a darker color to go around all of the windows, along the floorboards, and in the corners of the room, to give some dimension. Isla's response when she saw it the next morning made it worth staying up until 2 am finishing up!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Play Food

The best play food we've found is actually not even intended to be play food. My needle felting wool has doubled as the most excellent food in the girls' play kitchen. They use a bunch of colors to make all kinds of "food" and really enjoy being able to manipulate it, which they can't do with the wooden food. And it's way less messy than play-doh.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Bouquet and Crown

Elsie Marley made a beautiful yellow leaf crown that I quickly became obsessed with. My attempt at it, with Baby crawling over me and Toddler grabbing at it, came out much less professional looking, but it was still fun. I followed Elsie's instructions: cut off stems, layer leaves, fold over a bit and whip-stitch with a needle and thread. It was not really sturdy enough, so then I whip-stitched a pipe cleaner in the inside, and it was better. Isla wanted to wear it upside down, which was also cute.

The color for Tuesday is red, and the Fall leaves in our neighborhood made a perfect bouquet for the dinner table.

The Week

Wednesday - Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Wednesday is yellow! We made spontaneous spaghetti squash and both girls ate it up!
I think it helps calling it pasta.

Spaghetti squash
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve a spaghetti squash, scoop out the seeds, and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet and cook until you can easily pierce the skin with a knife (45 minutes?). When it's fully cooked, remove from oven, drag a fork through it to "get the noodles out" and top with sliced tomatoes, chopped basil, and shaved parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lady of the Harvest

Kathy Neely teaches needle felting at Santa Barbara Waldorf one Monday night a month. It is a bargain at $10 per class, which includes all of your materials. I had never made a "human" figure before, so I wanted to get a little help with my first one. I had the best time with the other mamas, and made this 8" Lady of the Harvest to celebrate Autumn. Isla is enamored. I left the doll on our nature table by the front door so that Isla could discover her on her own. She found her early on and has spent the day cuddling and nursing her doll, and making her cozy beds.

Their Space

Always evolving.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Our School!

I'm so excited to start our school! Actually, I guess it's more of a group or gathering, just a handful of mamas and their kids, meeting up once a week for adventures and discoveries, art, cooking, craft and music. To get in the spirit of things, we picked out some books that go along with the themes we chose for October... And here they are at our ever-changing Fall Nature Table (with the pumpkins from the yard!)

A Waldorf-Style Play Space

The Play Space

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sprout Your Own Lentils

I don't know if it's everyone's kids or just mine who love sprouted lentils. My oldest eats them as a main course. They're so easy to do - Just fill a mason jar or a large cup 1/4 full of lentils and then fill the rest of the way up with distilled water. Cover the top with a thin cloth (we used some napkins) and set out of the sun somewhere on your counter. After 12 hours (or overnight), drain the water, and fill to the top again. This time, pour out the water right away. Rinse like this once or twice a day for a few days, and you'll have sprouted lentils! Transfer them to a baggy (don't zip it, though) and keep in the fridge.


Striving to give the girls a sense of connection to the seasons, we planted pumpkins in the front yard. They didn't get in the ground until a few weeks after the ideal window, so we weren't sure what the result would be. Much to our delight the pumpkins have finally started to turn orange! It looks like they might even make it in time for Halloween :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Steiner-Inspired Meal Plan: Monday


The color is purple, and the grain is rice.

Tonight we made a lentil soup recipe courtesy of my dear friend Kristin, and tweaked it via suggestions of my dear friend Emma.

1 cup of rinsed red lentils in a pot with
1/4 cup brown or green rice
4 cups distilled water
1 onion, peeled and cut up into small chunks
into a pot and bring to a boil
turn down to a simmer, and simmer for 30 min.
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon rosemary (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
juice of one lemon

Since Monday's color is purple, we added our natural food coloring from Whole Foods, made from purple carrot extract. We made Jiffy (don't judge me!) blueberry muffins and put food coloring in those as well, and served it in purple bowls. We had purple candles and amethyst on the table and drank wine! (The girls had water in purple cups ;))

Alpaca Festival

We are obsessed with llamas. Our family coffee house, Lucky Llama Coffee, is opening this Winter, and we are into everything llama. Seeing as there are no llamas in Santa Barbara (that I'm aware of!) we settle for alpacas. Settle is a bad word, since we love alpacas as well. They are just like llamas, only smaller, softer, sweeter, and more timid. What is not to love? Luckily my friend Tammy let us know about the Alpaca Festival last month at Canzelle Alpacas, in Carpinteria, and gave us the heads up. Isla got to ride alpacas, pet 4 day old baby alpacas, and feed them! It was such a fun day! If you missed the festival, they do tours on the first Saturday of the month for $35. Check out the website for details:

DIY Silk Canopy

We love silk canopies. Love. But they are expensive! So, we bought the silk from the Waldorf supply co-op we are a part of: and dyed our own. For $4 something a yard, we dyed our own silk canopies and they came out great! We had leftover dye from Isla's "Trippy Hippy" party, but I'm sure any dye would do. Most people seem to use watercolor as dye, so we'll use that next time and report back with results. Anyway, we cut silk to size, got it wet, and squirted it with dye. Then I rolled it and bunched it to mix-mash the colors. I wanted the canopy to be pastel, so I rinsed the whole thing off right when we were done dying it. Then I just let it dry outside. To finish the edges, I rolled them and did a whip-stitch around them. Easy! *If you are not a co-op member of Cedar Ring Circle (you should be! Hurry, while they're still accepting new members!), you can order your silk from Dharma Trading. We used the 45" wide 8mm silk habotai. Right now they are being used as curtains in the girls' room, but they are easily whipped down for spontaneous play!

Fall Leaves Candle Holder

We celebrate Autumn with plenty of nature walks to check out the trees. Luckily, in our neighborhood, we have lots of maple trees, which have leaves that turn color and fall. On these walks, we collect the beautiful yellow, orange, and red leaves and bring them home to press in a big book. We do all kinds of fun projects with the pressed leaves: 1. sandwich between clear contact paper and then cut around. Hang these from any ring from fish line or thread to create Fall mobiles or 2. use as-is as leaf decoration or do the contact paper/cut out thing and use as leaf wands (my daughter's invention!). 3. Mod-podge a bunch of them around an old, short, wide vase to make an awesome Autumn candle-holder (see picture...*Project from Twig and Toadstool*)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Perfect October Day!

How does the Santa Barbara Mama celebrate Autumn? There are so many amazing ways to do this in and near Santa Barbara. Wanting to really embrace the season, we set out for a Fall-themed day. First, we drove to Santa Ynez to "Seeing Spot Farm" ( to ride mini donkeys, feed huge turkeys, and pet goats. While we were there we picked four varieties of apples. The drive wasn't bad at all - about half an hour from Santa Barbara. On the way back, just before turning onto the 154, we stopped at Summerset Farms to pick our own blackberries and raspberries, and sang the blackberry picking song from the Magic Garden, kids 4 kids CD I mentioned in an earlier post:

"Come along, come along to blackberry hill; the berries are ripe, you can pick them until your tongue is all purple, your fingers are sore. Oh, but let's keep on searching for sweet ones. The green ones are bitter, and too hard to pick. They're sour and they're bitter; you're sure to get sick. The red ones are warning, 'we aren't yet black! We'll be riper tomorrow - be sure to check back!' ...over the hill, where the honey suckle grows, there's a very special place where nobody knows. You can't go in, unless you're brave. It's a prickly, stickery blackberry cave. Prickly, stickery blackberry cave. You can't go in unless you're brave, but I have my boots on and very long sleeves, and I know I'll be safe when I'm hiding beneath the leaves. Tug a tug tug, tug a tug tug, there are prickles - beware! but the berries are calling, 'Come and pick us if you dare!'"

There we also picked up the awesome "Australian Blue" pumpkin you see here at Isla's ever-changing nature table.

We came home and decided to make some tea with some of the apples. To make it extra festive, we hollowed out some apples to make cups (kind of falls into the "easier said than done" category, but if I can do it I know you can!). To make the tea, we cut 1" chunks of apple and put them in a pot with drinking water (one apple per cup of water... as a rule I'd use one small apple per person at your tea party). Then we let it simmer for maybe seven or eight minutes. We strained out the chunks and poured the tea into the apple cups. To fancy it up, we put a little cinnamon sugar in it. I would have liked to have cinnamon sticks to stir it, but we didn't have any this time. With the leftover chunks in the pot we made "crustless apple pie" by spooning them into bowls and sprinkling with cinnamon sugar. So easy!

We finished off the day with the Apple Story, author unknown, and some parts changed to please my kid: A young girl has played with her toys all day, and now does not know what to do. She goes to her mother and asks her what she should do next. Her mother tells her that she can look for a little red house, with no windows or doors that has a star inside. The little girl goes to her grandfather and asks him if he knows where there might be a little red house, with no windows or doors, with a star inside. He does not know, but tells her to ask her grandmother. So the young girl goes to her grandmother and asks her if she knows where there might be a little red house, with no windows or doors, with a star inside. The grandmother does not know, but tells the little girl to ask Father Sun. The little girl asks Father Sun where there might be a little red house, with no windows or doors, with a star inside. Father Sun replies that he does not know, but that the little girl should ask Sister Wind. The little girl goes to find Sister Wind. She asks her where there might be a little red house, with no windows or doors, with a star inside. Sister Wind replies, "Whoooooooooooooooo," which sounds like, "Follow meeeeeeeeeeee," so the little girl follows the wind out to the orchard, where she sees an apple on the ground. "A little red house with no windows or doors!" she cries, and runs home to show her mother. But then she asks her mother about the star inside. Her mother cuts the apple in half (we did this at this point in the story) crosswise, not lengthwise, to reveal the star in the middle of the apple!

I love this story, because I remember the exact point when I discovered the star in the middle of an apple: My pre-school teacher had shown it to me. I thought it was incredible, and Isla was very pleased with the story. What a great day!