Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nature Journaling: A Travel Journal Pouch

I'm planning on being fairly minimalist when I pack for Ireland, not wanting to lug big suitcases from plane to train to bus, but I do hope intend to keep up nature journaling while I'm there. So in the spirit of minimalism, I made this scaled down journaling kit last weekend.

A simple zippered pouch, made in the usual way, meaning I saw a tutorial somewhere, scanned over it, then several months later made it, without referring back to the instructions. It came out okay in spite of that all, only a tad snug getting the notebook in and out, and a bit lumpy on the inside (perhaps the lining should be made smaller than the outer fabric?).

It's just the right size to tuck in a medium moleskine, a pen, pencil, gluestick, brushes and my Altoids paintbox. Just right for sitting on the seashore, on the other side of the Atlantic, and sketching and writing and daydreaming.

Previous Nature Journaling posts:  
See also Nature Journaling as Meditation for more on starting a nature journal.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Baseball Sandwich

I figured out that between them, the boys had about thirty baseball games this season. I didn't go to all of them, but I made it to most of them. Either way, that's a lot of rushing around. Happily, M's coach this season only made them be at the games by 5:30 (last year's coach had them there at 4:30!), but still, it doesn't leave a lot of time for cooking and eating a healthy meal. This sandwich, which Z refers to as "That sandwich I like," became a game night staple.

It's made with good bread––this is sliced wheat sourdough, but I've used bagels, ciabatta rolls and a whole big loaf of bread cut long-ways before––toasted, with pesto on one side and tomato jam on the other, and fresh mozzarella melted on top. I've taken to adding fresh spinach from the garden, and I like mine with a big slab of roasted red pepper. We've made do with thin slices of muenster when fresh mozzarella wasn't available, and I made myself one with no cheese last weekend, and it was almost as good (lacking that melty feel).

It felt good to have a quick, pretty healthy meal that my kids actually enjoy eating (Z asks for it all the time, but M passes on the tomato jam), and one that they could eat in the car. We just finished off the last jar of last summer's tomato jam. This year, I'll make more.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Day in the City (Maine Style)

For his birthday, E got a gold pan, and has been dying to use it. I promised to take him to a place I knew about in Augusta, where the hiking trails lead to a sandy-bottomed stream just right for gold-panning.

It took a whole month, but finally we came to a weekend not occupied with baseball or rainstorms or sick kids, and so Saturday afternoon we drove up past the airport, behind the cemetery and began our hike.

The trails wind their way past the two enormous storage tanks that hold the city's water, and allow for a glimpse of where the public works trucks are stored, but other than that, and a bit of traffic noise, you'd never know this spot was sandwiched between Augusta's main drag, with the airport and armory, and the Civic Center area, with its big-box stores.

It turns out none of us knew how to pan for gold, so C looked up some videos on youtube. What on earth did the '49ers do without smart phones?

Z had been wanting to go fishing as badly as E had been wanting to pan for gold, and I suppose the stream loomed larger in my imagination and/or memory that it really was, because I suggested to him that it would be a good place to fish. He came prepared in his fishing t-shirt, fishing vest, fishing pants, fishing hat, and fishing bug net, and brought his fully loaded tackle box, and of course, his rod. He wasn't terribly disappointed when the stream turned out to be only a few inches deep, especially when I promised him we could go fishing in the Kennebec later.

After dinner at the airport Thai restaurant, we went down to the boat launch in Hallowell.

Z didn't want to cast at first, afraid he might accidentally catch a giant sturgeon (and lose a lure). It took me a while to convince him that he didn't have to worry too much about that. We did see a few of them jump out of the water, and they really are huge. I was hoping to catch one on camera, but most of the time you don't see them until after they've landed.

A heron, not a sturgeon.

I had to laugh, thinking that we went to the city to go hiking, gold-panning and fishing, but I guess that's one advantage of living here.

P.S. Don't forget to enter my zine giveaway.

P.P.S. I almost forgot to mention, check out my LiteraryMama book review of two books by dads who hang out with their kids in nature.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Happy Summer

At last, it is here!

We celebrated with pizza from our favorite farm store

And fresh strawberries, from the same.

It was finally warm enough to eat out on the deck (just a few evenings earlier, I had worn my down coat to a baseball game), and now we're into real summer weather...the kind where my hair poofs out like a dandelion from the humidity.

Happy summer to you, friends.

P.S. Don't forget to enter my zine giveaway.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New GEMINI––Finally!

I'm pleased to introduce GEMINI Issue #13: Down on the Farm.

It's been two years since the last issue, and I'm feeling a bit sheepish about that. But I didn't expect to produce one at all while I was in school, so this is a bit of a bonus (and it's reason #3 that I have not been blogging much the last few weeks).

I've had certain family friends asking about when the next issue will come out, and M has been bugging me to get another one going (he likes to read and reread the hilarious things he and his brothers say). Once he saw me working on this one, every evening we were home he'd say, "Want to work on your zine, Mom?" "Why aren't you working on your zine?" The pressure, I tell you!

So, here it is, designed to please.

Inside, you will find:

Not one, but two stories about the Great Chicken Saga of 2012 (never-before read details of ferocious wild animals and familial strife).
Crudely-drawn cartoons.
An illustrated update of the boys.
My surprising birthday purchase.
A delicious, seasonal, healthful recipe.
And of course the all-favorite kid quotes.

All for only $4!

You can order via PayPal on my sidebar over there--------------->

AND, you can leave a comment on this post between now and midnight Wednesday, June 26, 2013, for a chance to win a free copy.

Info on past GEMINI issues here, here, here, here and here

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ninety-Five Pages Later...

I finally stopped moving around commas and sent in my final Third Semester Project (reason number two, right after baseball season, that I haven't been in this space much lately). 

Mother, Nature: Women Writing at the Confluence of Family and the Natural World
So, maybe I went a teensy bit overboard (it was only supposed to be 35 pages), but I really didn't want to narrow my topic, and my mentor was perfectly happy to read all 95 pages, so I just dug in went for it. And I really enjoyed the whole process, from reading the books, choosing quotes, taking notes, reflecting, making connections, and putting it all together in a way that made sense. I know, weird right? Maybe I should have gone into academia. Ha!

Anyway, it's done, and I'm so very pleased. It is weird to think, though, about putting so much into writing something that no one will actually read. I never thought about that as an undergrad, that my teachers would be the only ones to ever lay eyes on my papers, though that was probably a good thing.

In any case, I printed out a copy for myself and found this fancy report cover in our school supply cabinet to put it in, so I can at least put it on my desk and admire it for a few weeks.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend Things

I woke up super early Saturday morning, and, after working on some homework, I went for a walk in the woods with a pair of binoculars (in my pajamas). I didn't end up looking at any birds, other than a couple of song sparrows hopping on a downed willow tree in the river, but just walked and listened, in a sort of sleepy daze. When I got back to the house, I switched binocs for camera, and documented a bit of the excitement going on in our yard right now.

Siberian irises.

Peas! C likes to brag tell the story that he was making maple syrup one weekend, and planting the garden the next. It's true––I thought he was crazy planting peas the first week of April, but now they're almost as tall as me.

And blooming! After a day of sunshine, this lonely blossom had lots of friends.

M had his last baseball game Saturday. It was a playoff and they lost. I have to admit to traiterous relief. E and Z have two more games this week, then maybe our life will start to get back to normal, although I don't expect it to really calm down until the kids all go off to college I get back from Ireland.

In the afternoon, we went to the neighbor's field and picked wild strawberries.

Which are small, but so perfectly sweet and tart and so very strawberry that they're absolutely worth crawling about in the grass in search of them.

We've had so much rain over the last month or so, that I just felt compelled to walk around barefoot in the sun taking pictures of things. My lazy garden has come alive with divine-smelling bearded iris.

And poppies. I adore poppies. They remind me of the old lady who lived next door to us when I was little, Mrs. Birch, and of my grandmother. They grew all around the town she lived in high in the Rocky Mountains (rumor had it that it was so cold there, nothing else would grow).

As the day wore on, and after I got a reasonable amount of housework done (by paying E $2.50 to vacuum and mop), I felt a little projecty, so I threw together a little fabric banner, like this and hung it on the playhouse.

For Father's Day, Sunday, I dragged treated C to a trip to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

Do I not need this for a writer's cottage???

E and Z, as usual, spent most of the time trying to fall into the ponds catch frogs.

I spent a lot of time trying to get M to smile nicely for a photograph, since he forgot to get his picture taken on school picture day. With only a day-and-a-half left of school, I needed to get it done quick.

I also got a Father's Day picture of C with his boys.

You would never guess it from this picture, but the boys spent most of the time we were there bickering and fighting (ah, fairy houses, the great peacemakers).

Also, E and Z seem to have regressed back into three-year-olds, only with bigger vocabularies and a wider range of interests, asking questions about everything all day long. I finally declared "no more questions" at about five o'clock. It didn't stop them from asking, but I stopped answering.

We missed the peak of rhododendrons and azaleas in the garden, which was a little disappointing (we'll have to make sure to get there Memorial weekend next year), but lots of lady's slippers were still blooming everywhere. So amazing. I've never seen so many anywhere.

I was so happy to finally get some things done that I wanted to do this weekend (I feel like I've been spinning my wheels for months!). I also finished this book and started this one (prep for Ireland), and C and I watched this movie, which is the best movie I've seen in a long time. I wanted to watch it again.

The only thing I didn't get done was to make this jam (people keep eating my grapefruits!).

How was your weekend?

Friday, June 7, 2013


Last weekend, the boys and I spent a day at the Fiber Frolic. Watching the sheepdog demonstration is always a highlight of the event.

As is, of course, all the gorgeous fiber.


And a whole booth of fantastic vintage notions, beautifully displayed (from here).

Maybe it was the heat, but there didn't seem to be as many sheep and alpacas as usual (and I didn't see any llamas), 

but the boys were fascinated to watch this alpaca being shorn.

They always try to talk me into buying a bunny ("Pet this one mom. See? You're not allergic. You didn't sneeze or anything.").

We managed to walk away without a rabbit, but I did come home with a gorgeous skein of grey angora rabbit yarn, which needs to find its way into a project very soon.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What We've Been Up To

Whew, I've finally made it to the library, for the first time in weeks, tonight, catching up on a bit of uploading and downloading and corresponding and writing and a quick blog update.

Since last time I was here, we've had a LOT of rain, some beautiful spring sun, and a couple of wonderful taste-of-summer days (I will NOT tolerate anyone complaining about the heat, yet). It looks like we're back to the rain again, with Tropical Storm Andrea (ha ha) headed our way.

The lilacs have come and gone, which always makes me sad (especially when it rains most of the time they're in bloom!). The irises and daylilies are blooming now.

We've done some more projects:

Z, working on this kestral.

E's "Tom Lighthouse's World" trading cards.

Fun with the recycling bin: marker spinning top.

Fun with the recycling bin: antenna fishing pole.

Homemade playdough.

We've caught dragonflies,

Weeded gardens,

Picked spinach and radishes, and planted three new birthday blueberry bushes.

We've done cartwheels,

Blown dandelions,

Watched turtles and birds, walked in the woods, and plucked off ticks. We swam in the lake, had two sick kids, gone on four field trips, had two field days, and played lots and lots of baseball.

Okay, I haven't played much baseball myself (nor have I had any field trips or field days), but I've watched an awful lot of it.

This weekend, if it doesn't rain too much, E wants to go gold panning, and Z wants to go fishing. M has a baseball practice, and I have a school budget meeting. I hope to do a teensy bit of sewing and a lot of reading, and take a new picture for my banner...brrr that blizzard is making me cold.

What have you been up to?

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