I hope everyone had a lovely Winter Solstice yesterday.  Today is officially the first day of Winter!   To celebrate I put up a new header/banner (what's the appropriate term here?).  I am not very savvy with Photoshop, and it definitely didn't do what I wanted it to do, but I still like the way it turned out.

How do you guys make your headers?

I just used an old version of Photoshop and followed these tutorials when I got stuck:
Both of which I just found by googling "How to create a blog banner".

In the midst of figuring that all out I managed to somehow ruin my phone by backing it up with an old file (from 2009!).  So instead of posting some pretty Winter Solstice photos, I now have to go cry and fix my phone.

Wishing you all a peace-filled holiday with those you love.

Nutcracker Pictorial

The Nutcracker

"I was so excited, but so nervous...the fog from the fog machine went up my nose and I wanted to go home.  Then the music started and I had fun.  I just danced.  When's the next one?"
 ~ F, age 6.

Dehydrator Diaries - Partridge in a Pear Tree

We had a whole bunch of pears ripening on the counter, so we put them to good use this week in the dehydrator.  We made pear kale chips and pear roll-ups.  

The pear kale chips turned out pretty good, but they are missing something.

Baby C didn't care...she loved them.  Look at that rad hair going on!

I blended 5 or so ripe pears with about 2 cups of soaked cashews, 2 tbs of honey and a pinch of sea salt.  Oh, and some cinnamon.
They were good, and the kids ate them (of course!), but they are not quite "there" yet.  Any suggestions?

The pear roll ups on the other hand were perfect!  

I've I talked about roll-ups here before, right?  We love them!  They are a healthy snack and excellent road trip food.  You can basically make a roll-up with the leftovers of any thick smoothie.  But here's a recipe...

Crooked Pear Roll-Ups
4 ripe pears (sliced and seeded)
1 ripe banana
4-6 cups spinach leaves
1/2 cup fresh squeezed OJ
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 hemp seeds

Throw everything into a blender and whirl until smooth.  Pour it out onto teflex lined dehydrator screens.  

This recipe made 3 trays worth.  You can play with the consistency if you want, but about 10-12 oz of smoothie per tray is a good texture.  Dehydrate at 145 for 1 hour, then turn it down to 115 for about 18-24 hours.  
It should peel away easily...

Then you can eat right away (like my kids do), or roll it up and pack it for later.  

They usually finish off a whole roll up while it's still in the D!  If you are not going to eat it for a few hours I'd say pop it in the fridge.  It's fully dehydrated, so it should last about a week or so in a large ziploc, but like I said, ours are usually gone within 24 hours.

What do you do with your pears?  What are you dehydrating these days?

A Little Advent House

After seeing all these amazing advent ideas floating around Blogland I got all focused on doing something new. But the day after Thanksgiving when I pulled out our old Advent house I just smiled and knew I needed nothing else. 

1st & 2nd

3rd & 4th

Even with its ripped off / broken doors and it's bumps and holds a lot of memories. We got this house 7 years ago for F's first Christmas. I had initially wanted to paint our family name on it, but I've yet to find the time in the hustle and bustle...perhaps this year...before it goes up in the attic again.

5th & 6th
7th & 8th

We usually fill the numbered doors with small treasures or notes with riddles to find larger gifts. This year many items came from an Advent Swap with Bits of Goodness.

8th led to this!

In the past I've struggled with making our Advent countdown more about the "spirit" of the season. I would try to include notes about giving, donating or community outreach. Now I just make that a part of our intention every day and keep the advent house a gift for my children.

9th & 10th

 12th (apparently I missed a photo of the 11th!)

We also celebrate a traditional "waldorf" Advent in the way of examining and celebrating the 4 kingdoms...

"The first light of Advent is the light of stone.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.

The second light of Advent is the light of plants
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts
All await the birth, from the greatest and in least.

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind
The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand."
-Rudolf Steiner
We add pieces from each kingdom to our Nature table this month...

Do you have any Advent traditions?

Bugs, Birds and Bees Swap

Oh, that's right!
Now I remember why I stopped blogging in November of last year....because the end of the year is CRAZY busy, huh?

Well, I am here so I guess I am making time for it.  Actually we just got back from a lovely trip to Prescott AZ to visit my 90 year old grandfather.  It was his first time meeting Baby C and we hope to be back soon!

The big girls got to play in the snow a bit and they have decided that they want to live somewhere where it snows....we'll see.  I'll need some warmer socks.  My toes were frozen all weekend!

On to the crafting....
I wanted to share with you what we received in our return package from the Bugs, Birds and Bees swap with Bits of Goodness.

This little owl ornament was crafted by Kat all the way from Australia!  He went straight on our tree after the girls found him in their Advent house.

This is a sweet bird puppet, but sadly there was no tag saying who made it, did you?  He'll probably be tucked away for a rainy day...

This is a penny rug made by Katie.  We'll probably use this for our circle time candle next month.  I can appreciate all that blanket stitching!

I am in love with this super sweet dragonfly made by Teah.  It will be made into a mobile along with a few butterflies...

Last but not least is this adorable felted caterpillar by Mary.  I have hidden him away until the spring for a story about a hungry caterpillar...

Hope your holiday crafting is coming along....I finished 1 set of legwarmers and a few hats....I am procrastinating on starting the overalls.....ah!

First words

Thank you for all the Birthday wishes for E, she had a lovely day!
Since I'm on a roll with these family posts here's another.

C's language is booming right now.  New words every day, and they all bring a smile to my face.  I really love the 18 month old phase.

Before I forget her original first words from a few months ago I wanted to document them here, because let's face it...her baby book might not get done until she's off to college.  Plus I love these photos of her dancing in her groovy longies!

The following is an evolution of her words for nursing:
nigh-nigh = nursing
nuss = nursing
mick = nursing
mee-mee= nursing

pad-pad = iPad
wa-wa = water
Eeeeee! - smoothie
Ehs = E (now eh-wiss = E)
Fffff = F (now oo-la= F)
oof-oof = Savage
ah -wuf- oo = I love you

ham = hand
commee = come with me
ballet =ballet (pronounced perfectly at 14 months...maybe we're at the ballet studio too often since her first steps and her first full word were there...hmmmm.)
sissy =her sisters
noo-noo =noodles
cha-lock =chocolate


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