Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ladybugs and Lazybugs

Iron Craft Challenge #13: Best in Show, was all about animals. I know some of you were hoping I would make GP, our guinea pig, another tutu; but, she was pretty traumatized by the last one. So, I decided to make Adelaide this cute little ladybug dress. I bought the pattern and fabric a while ago; but I needed a little "iron craft" motivation to get me started!

The pattern is "Pillowcase Fashions" by Simplicity (#2383). It was a cute pattern and the dress itself didn't take too long to make. I did have to spend some extra time figuring out the ladybug applique because I hadn't made one before. It definitely isn't perfect; but, I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. There were several different animal applique choices; but I knew Addie would like the ladybug. She actually refers to them as "lazybugs". I never correct her because I think it's hilarious.

I had some extra material when I finished the dress, so I made a little matching flower clip to complete the ensemble. Now, if only spring would arrive, she could actually wear the outfit OUTSIDE!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was our school book for the week. We really enjoyed the book and found a lot of great activities to go along with it. Throughout the week, we listened to a complete audio recording of The Tales of Beatrix Potter whenever we were in the car. I had never read any of the stories before and really enjoyed the recording.

On Monday, for social studies, we talked about setting and following rules. We took a trip to the Henry Ford on Tuesday and did our language arts work there, discussing fantasy stories.

We visited the Heritage Park Nature Center on Wednesday. When we got home, we talked about nature art and made some nature sketches and watercolor paintings.

For our math work on Thursday, we planned our own version of Mr. McGregor's garden using our counting cubes. Aidan also wrote a "letter" detailing his garden plans.

On Friday, we started our garden seeds for science. The kids also went to a fun Princess and Superhero Night with Matt. Addie loved dressing up in all her princess attire and "high heel shoes" and they both had a blast.

Today, Aidan and I went to see Wild Swan Theater's production of Peter Rabbit in Ann Arbor. This was Aidan's first play and I wasn't sure how he would handle it as he isn't a fan of going to movies. However, he really enjoyed it and there was a smile on his face throughout the show.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lucky Charms

This week's Iron Craft Challenge #12 is "Wanna Get Lucky". My inspiration for this yummy treat came from a half-eaten bag of Lucky Charms cereal I saw in the snack cupboard last week at play group. I have been thinking about them ever since. I looked around online and found about a million copies of the same recipe for Lucky Charms Treats. They are just about the same as Rice Krispie Treats and super easy to make. If you are one of my whole foods-loving friends, you should probably read no further.

Lucky Charms Treats

Melt 3 T. butter and 25 large marshmallows over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in 5 c. Lucky Charms cereal. Press into greased pan, cool and slice. (We used a 9 X 5 and they were a little thin. Next time I would use a smaller pan.) Super simple and yummy!

I can't promise this recipe will bring you much luck, though. The day we made them, a raccoon took up residence in our chimney.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wee Gillis

My blog has been pretty quiet for the past two weeks. We had family visiting from Ohio and then we headed there to spend a week with my family. I missed out on the last two weeks of Iron Craft since I was basically without supplies or camera while we were gone. I'm finally getting the house back together and our schedules are almost back on track.

This week's story was Wee Gillis by Munro Leaf. The book is set in Scotland; but, I still thought it would be a good choice for St. Patty's week. It's the story of a boy with family in the lowlands and family in the highlands. While trying to decide where he should end up, he finds he has a certain knack for the bagpipes and proceeds to settle down right in the middle.

We studied a little about the geography of Scotland for social studies. For language arts, we read the poem "My Heart's in the Highlands" by Robert Burns. The book is illustrated in black and white so we made some monochrome paintings for art. We studied the months and seasons for math and learned about fog and mist for science.

We also listened to LOTS of bagpipe music this week, made some green shamrock sugar cookies and some new green play dough. I think the play dough was the biggest hit this week. Aidan has played with it by the hour for several days this week. He even made some little decorations out of it for our St. Patty's feast last night. We've also been outside everyday enjoying the awesome weather!

Our books for the past two weeks were Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco and When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant. Mrs. Katz and Tush was a tough one for us to get through. It didn't really seem to spark anyone's interest... maybe we just aren't "cat people". When I Was Young in the Mountains was a great book, though. We enjoyed studying about Appalachia and an old-fashioned way of life. We seem to be getting closer to it all the time anyway, so I guess it's good research.... Matt did get an oil lamp for his birthday (at his own request!).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Milk, Meat and Wool

Bellwether Farm, a small family farm in Decker, Michigan, is becoming one of our favorite new finds. Last summer, they started coming to our downtown farm market offering individual lamb cuts, lamb shares and beautiful wool and wool products. This fall, they began offering raw milk shares.

My first purchase was a really nice naturally-colored skein of wool. I used this wool to make Adelaide a really nice wool diaper cover with this pattern. I finally finished it just last week. The knitting itself didn't take months to complete. I was just lacking motivation. Addie is quickly outgrowing her old wool covers, though, so I felt compelled to finish it.

Throughout the summer, we also purchased some wonderful cuts of lamb from the farm. The cuts are on the small side and a little pricey; but, they are delicious.

About three weeks ago, we signed up for a "cow share" from the farm. In exchange for a small one-time registration fee which constitutes our cow share purchase and weekly payments, we receive a weekly share of the farm's milk. The milk comes from one-hundred percent grass-fed guernsey cows. It is chemical and hormone free, non-pasteurized and non-homogenized. I will admit I was a little uneasy about the idea of unpasteurized milk; but, I have done some research and reading and feel pretty comfortable with the milk we are receiving. Guernsey milk has several unique components including beta carotene and a naturally better balance of omega three to omega six. Grass-fed dairy products are also supposed to lower heart attack risk. The milk is a beautiful golden color and tastes delicious. The kids guzzle it by the glassful and it makes wonderful homemade yogurt. Matt made sure the kids and I survived the first week before he started drinking it.

The milk is purchased as a "cow share" because it is illegal to buy unpasteurized milk in the state of Michigan. Instead, one purchases a share in the farm and then pays a weekly fee to the farmer to feed and care for the cows. It is all pretty simple and you never have to worry about actually taking ownership of a cow. You won't find a giant cow waiting on your front porch should you decide to terminate your contract! This is also the method we use to purchase our beef from another farm in Manchester.

The farm is very small and has no website or email address. Their contact information can be found through their Local Harvest listing. Even if the raw milk share isn't your thing, I really encourage you to check out their lamb products.

Last summer, the farmer, Andrew Mellish, told me that cloth diapering and wool covers were part of what led his family to sheep farming. I can almost picture poor Matt, a few years from now, down at the farm market selling our eggs and wool and goodness-knows what else!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Little Gnome Hat

This week's Iron Craft challenge, "... and the Oscar goes too...", was to create a movie-themed craft. I had a really tough time coming up with ideas. I wandered around the craft store this weekend looking for inspiration and couldn't really come up with anything very exciting.

I have been wanting to take the kids to see Gnomeo and Juliet. I think it looks really cute and any movie that combines Shakespeare, Elton John and gnomes sounds fun to me. We haven't gone to see it yet. My kids are not the bravest and Aidan is especially nervous about going to see a movie in a theater. We have tried a few times in the past without much success. I think I may take Addie this weekend while the guys find something else to do.

So... I finally decided on Tuesday evening to make Addie a gnome hat with a nice heavy wool yarn. She was already asleep when I finished it; but, I still managed to slip it on for one picture. Hopefully, she can wear it this weekend for a movie date with mom!