Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Caramel Sauce

Making caramel sauce from scratch for the first time today. I found a pumpkin pie recipe that calls for drizzling it with caramel and chopped pecans which sounded so delicious I just had to try it!

No storytime this week. We are doing a Saturday AM mommy and me toddler thing. We will be washing vegetables, mixing paint, and playing with shaving cream. I need to practice a song for washing the vegetables. I'm in love with The Singing Day right now -- thank heavens she includes all 100+ songs on the CD!

Promise I will include more plans as they come. I interviewed today for a part-time librarian position. Wish me luck. :-) It would be nice to have some steady income in the midst of all these projects. Bet my creditors would like it too. I will be doing The Little Red Hen, Caps for Sale, and The Sea Garden (from Living Crafts magazine) for November toddler storytime sessions.

For Sunday School we will be painting Moses's soul going up to Heaven. I want to do an all yellow painting with a blue ground and then turn the paintbrush handle upside down and do a mirrored Form Drawing so that the top part is his soul and the bottom mirror is the shadow as it flies up. I'm still figuring this out in my head and I'll let you know how it turns out once I practice. This goes with the book The Shadow of a Flying Bird: A Legend from the Kurdistan Jews by Mordicai Gerstein, which we did as our Story.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"God is Dead"

Rebecca, who is brushing her teeth, just announced that God is Dead.

(How would she know?)

Anyway, I asked her and she told me that God is in Heaven therefore God must be dead.

Well, you know, I can see the logic path there. :-)

From Green Beans to Lettuce

Well, I have an amazing thing to share. My children eat salad! During the summer, as we went each week to the farm to pick up our vegetables, every week they chowed down on warm ripe tomatoes. When the tomatoes were no longer a part of our share they ate raw green beans as snack. Last night I served raw green beans as the vegetable which they ate perfectly happily. Today I thought I'd try salad (ha) just for fun and, to my surprise, Natalie sat down, took a piece of lettuce in her hand, said "Yum" and began to eat it. Then she asked, what is this? So I told her it was lettuce and she and all the children ate it just fine. They never would eat salad before. But tonight it was a hit; in fact, they liked it more than the meatballs, tomato sauce, and rice! So I am amazed and thrilled and thought I would pass it on.

Today we finished our illustrations of the Golden Calf and our composition pieces for our MLB. I also just cut the pattern pieces for the Baby Moses doll and am excited to begin that project. Next week we are doing the death of Moses, mirrored forms in FD and I'm going to introduce sand trays for Form Drawing practice.

In Life in Other Aspects, not much is going on. I am not teaching any storytimes or art classes or subbing this week so I guess it will be a week of moving furniture, doing housework, and generally having a jolly old time.

Someday soon I should start making Christmas presents. Wasn't this the year I was going to do them all in August?

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Natalie asked me today, Mom, what am I going to be for Halloween?


So I told her, We don't celebrate Halloween. And the howls of protest rose up from the back seat. My kids never knew about trick or treating before they went to school. But I simply told them, we don't celebrate Halloween. We also don't celebrate Hanukkah or Diwali. Then we listed the holidays that we do celebrate and the conversation moved on. I wonder what will happen when they get older. Natalie thought about it for a while and then brought up that I don't like Halloween because all you do is get candy and that's junky food. Later that evening she mentioned that you had to be a Disney character (another reason why she figured I would be against it) -- so I guess she is analyzing the holiday to understand my position but isn't trying to fight me on it. Perhaps she agrees with me that this is one to skip?

Herbal Sachets

I have the girls with me this weekend, so Natalie and I have a sewing project to do while Leah and Becca have their rest time today. We are making herbal sachets for our drawers of bed linens. Inspired by these at Isabella, I am filling them with silk noil, cinnamon, cloves, lemon and rosemary. Mmmmm.

Speaking of delicious scents, the toddler storytime on Thursday focused on smells. The smell of strawberries was the highlight of the story; I also took along the Montessori smelling vials and some fresh herbs from our garden. Mint, rosemary, basil, pineapple sage, and chives. The children got to wash and hull their strawberries, then taste them. It was fun to try the different herbs in combination with the berries. We are changing the storytime venue to a different library which I think will give us a higher attendance. Also, I will do it every Thursday instead of just once in a while. Continuity also helps get a new program off the ground. This means, for all you parents of infants and toddlers, that there will be a lot of new information as I plan these stories! I am going to offer two sessions: one for birth-2 and one for 2-3 year olds.

Today is rainy so we will have rest, baths, do farm pickup, and watercolor painting this afternoon. This morning we made scones which were very tasty. Tomorrow is church and a visit to the park.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Root Veg


Circle Time

“Good Morning Dear Earth” song

“The Tale of the Turnip”


Root Vegetables poster

Variety of vegetables (from different parts of the plant)
Seed Leaf Flower Fruit by Maryjo Koch

Picture Book

From Autumn Tales by Suzanne Down:
“Harvest Moon Magic” story

Possum’s Harvest Moon by Anne Hunter

(P's Harvest M. is on the list again because I ended up doing Red Berry Wool on Friday for the Picture Book since the class has washed the wool from when the school sheared Kylie and Jasper and it is drying.

Next I will come into the class to demonstrated carding and spinning, knitting, crochet, felting, etc.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Autumn Story

The Autumn Story from the Wynstones Autumn book was awesome -- it held my kids completely spellbound. I used the finger puppet animals from Suzanne Down's Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals: hedgehog and squirrel. I laid out the scene on the floor with a pile of autumn leaves in front of me, a thick branch from a tree propped up against the chair beside me, and a pile of acorns in front of that. I had the assistant teacher read the story because I didn't have time to memorize it. She read it and I acted it out. The students were so quiet, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. Hedgie Hedgehog snuffling along the ground looking for worms and bugs to eat to get his tummy full before the winter, then finding a pile of leaves to curl up in. I tucked him under the leaves and then got the squirrel puppet which was hidden by my leg. The squirrel scampered up and down the log, gathering nuts from the ground and hiding them in the nooks and crannies of his "tree". Mother Earth sang him a song (which, luckily, I knew the tune to because it was one of the songs we sang last year at Rahima's conference) and so the story reader paused while I sang. Then the squirrel darted behind the tree and hid. It was lovely. I shared the materials with the preK teacher so she can do it with her class -- so nice to have a community of educators! That's one downside to homeschooling, you just don't have as many peers to share ideas with. Luckily, that's a service the Internet can provide.

I've been asked back for next Wednesday so when I make my plans I'll share them. The Fall art classes didn't get any enrollment -- I designed them late and there wasn't enough ability to advertise. However, if I get in the regular Parks and Rec bulletin I think I'll have some takers. I'm going to submit them again for the Winter semester (January - April) and we'll see. My prices are low and there's no one else offering that sort of thing. I hadn't considered P&R before since I thought I'd be homeschooling...

Plans change. Opportunities change. And I'm actually quite happy right now with my life.


Sub Plans for Tomorrow:

Circle Time

“Good Morning Dear Earth” song

From Autumn by Wynstones Press
“Autumn Story” p. 66



"Squirrel Nutkin" song

From Autumn Tales by Suzanne Down:
“Autumn Bear” story


Picture Book

Possum’s Harvest Moon by Anne Hunter

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


By the way, it can be quite funny to see how changing the shape just a little gives you a completely different animal. I had a sheep, a fox, a lion, a horse, and -- right at the end there -- the Golden Hippopotamus.


If you don't have a drawing book, I recommend Eric Carle's Animals Animals. You can find it at most libraries, it gives you a good basic idea of the shapes, and there is a handy index in the back where you can search by animal. To see the list of animals, visit Amazon and click Look Inside.

If I Can't Do It...

This is always a valuable lesson for teachers.

Never ask your students to do what you can't yourself do.

In other words, try each assignment out before you assign it. How long does it take you? What aspects of it are harder than you thought they would be? I discovered this when I was making my Golden Calf out of beeswax. It took me forever! And if I hadn't been an adult I would have given up on it without thinking twice. Now I know that it takes more time and more patience than I can reasonably expect from my class. Today I am sketching a cow. Easy? Not so much, no. First I tried watercolor pencils on wet paper but I forgot (somehow) and began to outline. My kidney was way too long and there was no way it could become a cow. So I kept it as an example for my students of how outlining you boxes you into failure and growing shapes organically from the center outward gives you much more flexibility to adapt to problems as they arise. Second try: watercolor pencils on dry paper. I put on the legs too soon and when I went back to make my animal thicker (it looked quite like a sheep, nothing at all like a cow) I needed then to make it longer to keep the proportions because I made it too thick... and I couldn't make it longer because the legs were already in place. Scratch try #2. Now I am going to attempt it with the block beeswax crayons because I think the pencils are making me focus too much on detail. The last illus. I did of Moses striking the rock with his staff was in pastel chalks and it was lovely. This one is giving me FITS!

A calf to look at helps, too. I am looking at an adult cow and I think that is going to be a problem. Calf pictures:

Sweet Potato Dip

Sweet Potato Dip

1 1/2 lb. sweet potatoes, roasted, peeled and mashed
1 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 T extra virgin olive oil

Today after rest time we are going to the cypress swamp. At Rahima's conference last year I bought my little wooden bear and he was displayed on the table next to the "knee" from a bald cypress tree, as his cave. It was lovely and I'd like to see if I can do that for my nature table.

This Friday in Kindergarten I am going to be sharing Autumn Bear and Harvest Moon stories.

While the kids are resting my job this afternoon is to sketch The Golden Calf for my S.S. kids. I am using watercolor pencils and then I will paint the background. I've not done much with paint and pencils combined so I am looking forward to it. There is a cow illustration in Live Ed's book Drawing Simple Animal Forms which I am using to help me. He suggests that if the legs are tricky for your child, just make the animal stand in high grass. Works for me! The cow body shape is a squared off kidney. He is drawn in red with green grass and a blue sky, eating yellow hay.

Turtles Crossing the Road

Am I the only one who is still seeing box turtles crossing the road? It seems that every few days we have to pull the car over and help a little friend.

I forgot in my list of prospective jobs that the school is thinking of offering Mom and Dad's Night Out for Friday evenings. I would stay at the school and be the supervisory teacher and offer crafts and other activities and the parents could go out to dinner or whatever. It would be a fundraiser for the school and work for me. The director is very excited about the possibility and I hope it pans out. My watercolor painting class was canceled -- Saturday mornings doesn't seem to be a good timeslot for people.

Oh, I just realized that if I got the library job we'd have to cancel the Natural Gift Making workshops for Saturdays in December, or move them to the Friday PM, or have another person teach them. It would be sooo much fun to have so much work that I can't possibly schedule it all in! Life was like that during the summer and now it has been so tame lately with the kids in school.

I can also work on the website, so the time is not lost, but a paycheck would be nice. :-)

I have been thinking that I personally focus so much on toddler to grade 3 that I should push myself to write more for grades 4-8. The site is slim and the entire internet seems to be slim on Waldorf for upper el. Anyone out there who is teaching these grades and wants to write articles for the website, please contact me. I'd love to hire you!


Good news. I seem to be finding work. First, there is the Monday and Friday art classes for kids at the community center. Those begin October 20 and if there is sufficient enrollment (2 kids or more) I'll be doing them. I will post the plans if that happens! First Art for toddlers and Storybook Art for the preschool crowd. Parks and Rec is not allowed to offer classes for homeschoolers during the time that the public schools are in session so my plans for Global Art, Math Art, and Science Art (MaryAnn Kohl's fantastic books) were squashed.

Tidewater is going to move ahead with a Toddler Time (storytelling and hands on activities) on Wednesday mornings. We have no space to meet except the library which means they must be free and open to the public ie. I don't get paid but I don't mind volunteering at something which 1) I love and 2) may turn into a job later on.

The library is hiring for a part time staff person which would be 1 to 9 pm on Monday and Wednesday plus 9 to 5 on Saturday and I am hoping to get that job! That would be my only steady income. It comes with benefits and $19 an hour so I am excited!

Anyway, I was just about to apply for food stamps again this morning when I heard about this job and so I am going to wait and see if I get it. It will be nice to be able to support myself without government help. Education is such a good field to find work, since teachers are dropping like flies, but since the kind of work I want to do is so specialized (storytelling, art, etc) I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find a niche without having to sell my soul.

Toddler Time Plans for upcoming sessions:

Caps for Sale & free play with silks -- we can act out the story with each child putting a silk on his or her head and pretending to be the monkey

Autumn Bear (story from Suzanne Down's Autumn Tales with my wooden bear) and crayon leaf resists
I have seen this done very successfully and never knew the trick to it until now. CONTACT PAPER! You lay the autumn leaves down on a board and put contact paper on them. The kids take the block crayons and paper and can color to their heart's content without the leaves tearing.

The Sea Garden (story from Living Crafts magazine with felt finger puppets) and the craft project Suzanne Down suggests to accompany -- sprinkling Kool Aid powder on wet wool felt to dye it and then cutting out a fish shape to make the finger puppet

Owl Babies & chalk on dark paper

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cooking, Cooking...

Today the Breakfast Club met at my house. This is an assortment of moms who don't work and want some social time in the mornings. I offered to host this week -- the first time I have had people over since the separation. I thought it would be good for me. Of course, I didn't go to bed until 1:15 am last night -- I was cleaning and cooking up a storm. I served milk, an assortment of juices, water and tea, fresh fruit (apples, pears, bananas), cottage cheese, yogurt, oatmeal (which I did overnight in the crockpot), brown sugar, white sugar, maple syrup, cream, a Creamy Cranberry Coffee Cake, and bran muffins with butter and chai apple preserves. Delish! Tonight I am cooking hard boiled eggs for the preK and K classes and making a Sweet Potato Dip which I will send in with crackers and vegetables (bell pepper, broccoli, green beans, carrot sticks). I am responsible for providing the snack today and tomorrow. Today I sent in Cheerios, Corn Flakes, milk, purple grape juice, and bananas.

But, the good news is, that my house is clean (although the dryer broke again so it is back to hanging laundry) and so after I

1) hard boil the eggs,
2) make the dip, and
3) cut up the vegetables,

I can GO TO BED!

Chocolate Cake in a Hurry

Today I had to magic up a birthday cake on 2 hours notice. The solution? Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with powdered sugar on top. The girls cut out stencils of the number 33 out of stiff card, which they then laid on the cake and we put some powdered sugar in a tea ball and shook it all over. When we lifted up the numbers they were so excited to see the design on the cake! I did this about 20 min. after it came out of the oven, so it is faster than waiting for the cake to cool and then frosting it.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

350 degrees F
9 x 3 pan

In a saucepan, bring 1 cup butter, 1 cup water, and 2 T cocoa powder to a boil. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl combine 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon EACH of baking powder and baking soda, 2 T buttermilk powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Add cocoa mixture; mix well. Add 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 2 eggs. Beat until well mixed. Batter will be quite thin. Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean.

In other news, Rebecca got the name "Sweet Strawberry" and Leah got the name "Running Deer" in school today. The preK studies Native Americans while the K studies Colonial times and then they get together for a big Thanksgiving feast.

My Sunday School class was a disaster because the children dropped their trays of paint and now we have blue splotches in the carpet. Lesson-wise it was good, though. I shared a chapter of Little House in the Big Woods about how Keep the Sabbath Holy used to be honored -- very different from modern times! And then we looked up the legend of how Ra turned Nut into a golden cow. I wanted the children to know that the Israelites weren't just making a golden calf for no good reason, that this was a remnant of the religion from the land where they were captive for all those generations. I also make a calf out of modeling beeswax and next week we will sketch and write our composition pieces in the MLBs. No way to have the children model a cow -- it took me an hour to make mine.

Friday, October 10, 2008


By the way, we DID get a guinea pig! One of the teachers was giving hers away. A free pet which then cost $51 in food and bedding. The pig (named Piggie) is very depressed to be with us instead of his old family and it breaks my heart. Leah loves the thing and spends time with it constantly and I think Piggie just wants some peace and quiet. They can be quite shy animals. It used to squeal with enjoyment but now it just sits and eats its litter. I am very sad about it. This weekend my goal is to make that animal happy!

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sub Plans

Here are my notes for the kindergarten class today:

Circle Time

“Good Morning Dear Earth” song

From Autumn Tales by Suzanne Down:
“In my garden grows a pumpkin” puppetry



“Swinging little chestnut cradles” fingerplay


Demonstrate conker skittles

Morning Work

From Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button? by Hajo Bucken:
Button Stacking

Picture Book

The Apple Cake by Nienke van Hichtum

Afternoon Work

Finger Knitting

We also took a Nature walk to look for signs of Autumn both on the trail through the woods and in our vegetable garden. Finally... carrots!

I took the children to the park after school was out so I could spend some time with them before Steve had them for the weekend. There's no school on Monday, however, so we can have a big day of Family Time. I'm really looking forward to it.

Felting the spider was fun and I want to share how I did it -- so easy. Take a longish piece of roving and tie it into a knot right in the middle. Make the knot quite tight. Then separate the roving ends in half and then each half in half again, making four ends on either side of the knot. Twist the ends tightly with your fingers and they will firm up. Voila. A spider with eight legs. I used a very dark grey. The puppetry went well and the children LOVED the fingerplay I came up with for the chestnuts. They were fascinated by the chestnut burrs and the part at the end of the rhyme where you cover the chestnut with your hands so that it is resting in the earth until Spring tied in well with our talk of different kinds of seeds, how plants get ready for the winter, and led into our Nature walk.

All in all, quite a good day.

2 Recipes

Here are two recipes I want to share. One is for the dessert we made last night. The FP gives me a can of pineapple chunks each week and I have been searching for recipes to present pineapple in new and different ways. Here is one from Everyday Food:

Pineapple Pops

14.5 oz can pineapple chunks packed in juice, drained
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
small paper cups
popsicle sticks

In a blender, combine pineapple chunks, milk, and sugar. Pulse until almost smooth with some chunks of pineapple remaining. Pour 1/2 the mixture into a quart Pyrex measuring cup or a mixing bowl with a lip (for easy pouring). Pulse remaining mixture until completely smooth, add to mixture in Pyrex. Divide evenly among six small paper cups. Mixture will expand slightly as it freezes. Insert wooden sticks. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours, or up to 2 weeks (cover with plastic wrap).

Tonight I made a white bean soup with chunks of chicken and tomatoes. Tomorrow we will have it for dinner with bread. Thursday is usually bread baking day in Waldorf kindergartens. Here is a "Very Easy Bread Recipe" from the The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book:

Very Easy Bread Recipe
Serve warm with butter

2 cups very warm water
Large spoonful of honey
1 T. yeast
Flour (a mix of white and whole wheat)
1 t. salt

1. Put warm water into a large mixing bowl and stir in honey.
2. Sprinkle the yeast over top of the water. Let it foam up.
3. Start adding flour and sprinkle in the salt. Children love to make it “snow” into the bowl.
4. When the dough is stiff and no longer sticky, cover it with a “blanket” and let it rest for a little while (about 15 minutes).
5. Knead the dough and form dough into rolls.
6. Place rolls on an oiled baking sheet.
7. If you have time, you can let them rise a little longer on the pan, covered.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until light brown.

from The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book
page 17


I just found one of my cryptic little notes for the blog. ;-)


I was complaining the other day about my safe sides can opener which I HATE. You can't drain a can of tuna fish because the lid comes off just as wide as the can itself and doesn't fit in it to drain. Also, most of the cans we get from the food pantry are dented and it is hard to pull off the top. I find that it hurts my fingers terribly to pull and pull and try to hook my fingers under the little seam so I can get some leverage to tug...


I didn't want a can opener made in China and I didn't want one that was a plastic piece of junk so I went on to eBay to see if they had vintage ones with wooden handles and they do!

In fact, there were 972 can openers on eBay the other day.

So if you are looking for something and "made in China" is not the way you want to go, I suggest shopping used. It works nearly every time.


I was thinking as I walked away from the keyboard about making the chestnut poem into a finger play and I wanted to share my vision for circle time.

First the teacher recites the poem and demonstrates the movements.

Then each child is given a chestnut (we have horse chestnuts here so that is easy and costs nothing -- take in a horse chestnut to show what they look like in their prickly coverings). Hold the chestnut in your closed right hand and swing it back and forth for lines 1 - 4, then hold the hand still. The left hand is Jack Frost and swoops down to nip at the right, the right hand falls to the floor. The right hand bursts open and the chestnut pops out. Then both hands cup gently over the nut on the floor to represent the sleeping earth.

Lots of Little Autumn Notes

I had a friend write to see if I was OK because I hadn't been blogging lately and she was worried. Sorry! All is well. In fact, I have a box in my bedroom for notes for my blog and my website because they seem to be all piling up. I will try to work my way through for a bit.

Today I prepared a gluten-free sugar-free meal. Brown Rice Pasta with orange and tomato, roasted sweet potato wedges, green beans, and Pineapple Pops. The kids were very excited to help make the Pineapple Pops this morning! Yesterday after school we did a playdate at Clagett Farm, our CSA, and brought some friends along to help pick up our share (and gave them a share too since I was supposed to get a double share). We walked in the herb garden, picked little orange cherry tomatoes, and found the chicken tractor to say hello to the hens. Monday the girls and I took Toby for a walk at Jefferson Patterson Park and we found a bird nest that had fallen out of a tree so Natalie took it in for Show and Tell.

Friday I am subbing in the Kindergarten class so I am preparing what to do. I am relying heavily on Suzanne Down's book of Autumn Tales. For circle time puppetry I want to do "In my garden grows a pumpkin" on page 2. It is a tale about a mouse and a spider who share a cozy warm pumpkin house for the winter. I have a needle felted hollow pumpkin that I made for storytelling but can't find it!!!! So I will be searching in my office tonight. I also want to either tell her Harvest Moon Magic story and read Possum's Harvest Moon later in the day OR tell her Star Kisses story and read The Apple Cake later in the day. I also am torn between introducing Button Stacking from Button Button Whos Got the Button: 101 Button Games OR Conker Skittles from All Year Round.

I get to be there next Friday as well, luckily!

She also wants me to introduce finger knitting. I was thinking about doing that with Red Berry Wool.

Suzanne Down has a nice poem that would go with the chestnuts -- I will put it here since it is hard to find poems for this Autumn subject.

Swinging little chestnut cradles
In the branches high.
Rocking all the baby chestnuts,
As the wind flies by.
Still in the night, stars twinkle bright.
Jack Frost nimbly runs, over fields of white.
He nips at the cradles with fingers of ice,
Down fall the cradles, that's not nice!
Down fall the cradles and split open, POP,
And brown baby chestnuts, out of them hop.
In the warm earth they make a safe nest,
Sleep baby chestnuts, do rest and rest.
Sleep till the spring sun climbs in the sky
And Mother Earth wakens you by and by.

As you can see I'm full of ideas and it is hard to pin them down! I'll be teaching lessons in the classroom when they do their Colonial work (felting, dipping candles, etc) as I did last year. I like the idea of teaching finger knitting first and then looking at the process of making yarn: have us wash, card, and spin yarn with a drop spindle.