Week Summary

Today I have to take Hazel to the doctor's. She has been complaining her teeth/gums hurt and all of her teeth have been there since February. Now she is experiencing cold symptoms, so we are going to get it checked out. I also have a few errands to run, and I bribed Hazel into going to the doctor's and behaving by saying I would take her to my mother-in-law's if she does. We'll see. She has been very needy this week and has not been napping except an hour yesterday, so I could use the break.

As a  result, today I'm going to play catch-up in my life, but I thought I would share what some of my favorite bloggers are posting and crafts I hope to do soon. (Today I'm hoping to work on Hazel's quilt and sew her Michaelmas dragon.)

First for more information about how Waldorf families celebrate Michaelmas visit The Magic Onion's Discovering Waldorf post yesterday. I love her blog and it is always so informative and inspiring. Also check out Celebrate the Rhythm of Life!'s post today. Lots of information on Michaelmas including Steiner's view.

Second, another favorite blog, April's Homemaking has pictures of her adorable dragon bread, recipe for potato soup and a contest! She is giving away The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie dePaula. A great book with a somewhat Michealmas theme.

Silly Eagle Books has a list of "scary" books for young children. Ok, not really scary, but good for the month of October.

One Artsy Mama is having a Fall Crafting Contest. Her third theme is Pumpkins. Which is my theme for next week, so I can't wait to see what people do.

Classified Mom has two crafts I want to try. Spider and Web and Painting Palm Pumpkins.

Boredom Busing Mommy has a recipe for Pumpkin Playdough. I can't wait to make some for next week.

Tippytoe Crafts has a neat way to paint with acorns. We are definitely going to try this next time we are painting.

Adventures of Alex O & Co has a great way of making a little person using wooden blocks and pipe cleaners and wool. It gives the bendy dolls a little more substance.

Happy Friday!!


Felt dragon we brought to school for the classroom
Today is Michaelmas. This is the day of celebrating of St. Michael and to celebrate the harvest, change of seasons, etc. It is the first year we are celebrating. Last week I knew nothing of the holiday, so this is all new for me. My first question of course was what is Michaelmas? I did some web research and came across a few good sites to help. In general terms wisegeek explains some of the history behind Michaelmas. We of course are looking at the Waldorf side of celebrating. For this I found some great blogs giving information, recipes, etc. to help with the celebration. The first blog is Lady I Swear By All Flowers. She gives details of her celebration (her first time) last year including the story of St. George defeating the dragon which she shortened to be one page. Our Little Nature Nest has a slightly longer version of the story/legend. She also offers a link to a similar story where a little girl slays the dragon, Li Chi Slays The Serpent. Needless to say we will be reading this version as well.

So what is Michaelmas and why am I celebrating it? Michaelmas is the day of celebrating St. Michael the archangel and St. George, St. Michael's earthly form. St. George came to earth and slayed the dragons to save the people. This is the legend in the United Kingdom. So Waldorf education celebrates this day to celebrate the harvest and the start of autumn as well as using the dragon stories as a way of celebrating courage, strength and fighting our own inner demons. What a strong message to send to children. I think it is always positive for children to see that we struggle with our own inner demons and can reflect on it, but also to show them that each one of them has strength and courage to fight them.

Bread before the oven
Bread after baking
From what I have learned on line, it seems a must for celebrating is dragon bread, or bread shaped like a dragon. I found a couple of recipes for this. The first doesn't seem to let the dough rise, so I'm a little suspicious. However, if you are in a rush that would seem like a good thing. The second comes from Our Little Nature Nest (which is one of my main resources today) and lets the dough rise 30 minutes--not a long time, but at least it rises. This is the recipe we are going to use. I used whole almonds for the spikes and almond slivers for the teeth. I found candied sunflower seeds for the eye and the wing.

Dinner tonight will be our main celebration. We are going to have Carrot-Tomato Soup from Soule Mama's blog. (I did find a recipe for dragon soup on Uncommon Grace, but I didn't think my family would actually eat it. However this entry is also a good reference for Michaelmas.) And of course our dragon bread will be served with the soup. Then for dessert I am going to make a Michaelmas Pie (scroll down for this recipe on the link).
Carrot Tomato Soup
Michaelmas Pie

Well, I enjoyed the soup, but no one else seemed to, but that is not a big surprise in my family. The bread was ok, but not great. Next year I will make a better more complex recipe.  We have not cut into the pie yet, but I cheated on that. I used a store bought pie crust and sprinkled cinnamon on it. I'll give you a report on it tomorrow.

Another view of the dragon
And of course I found some dragon crafts for us to try. The first thing I made was the felt dragon. I found the pattern and the instructions on Rhythm of the Home. I promised Hazel I would make her another one if she gave this one to the teachers.

Next we made toilet paper roll dragons. I found this at DLTK. It is of one of the dragons from PBS's Dragon Tales, so it is not too scary of a picture. Hazel had fun coloring and gluing. I did the cutting out. We forgot to glue the tail on mine. Oops!

The last dragon craft we did was a handprint dragon. Ok, really I just traced Hazel's handprint and had her pick out the colors. She was feeling off today, so I did this craft while she rested. I got these instructions from Activity Village. They have many dragon crafts on their site.
Handprint Dragon

Some other dragon crafts can be found on:
Babycenter has one with a 16 ounce cup
Family Fun has a dragon hat and a dragon kite
Activity Village has a sock puppet, Egg box dragon, Wooden Spoon and a You Tube video on making an origami dragon head and many coloring pages
And of course traditionally Waldorf classes focus on autumn crafts for Michaelmas, so you can see any of the days this week for ideas.

Finally I was told today that Michaelmas festivals are for four weeks. I have not found that supported on line, but thought it was interesting. Well enough of our celebration. Happy Michaelmas and Happy Autumn!!

Apple Trees, Apple Songs & More Apple Crafts

Yesterday's tissue paper stained glass apple
My Apple Cinnamon Wreath
Our paper orchard
Today we focused on more the growth of the apple. We talked about the seed growing into the tree and the blossoms on the tree in the spring turning into green apples and then they become red (or stay green or turn yellow). The book from the library, I Am an Apple by Jean Marzollo really helped with the lessons. It is an early reader book, but that helped make it simple for Hazel to understand. She keeps looking at it. We also read a short story about Johnny Appleseed and sang some apple songs (including of course the Johnny Appleseed song).

Apple Tree in each season
Our crafts today are making paper trees, making apple cinnamon wreaths, talking about the parts of the apple, the tree in each season, crayon stain glass apples and leaves (a great way to use some of those broken crayons), and if we have time we will do a handprint tree, but we may save this one for Friday. We are also going to bake whole wheat apple muffins tonight for breakfast tomorrow. Our big Michaelmas celebration will be tomorrow so our crafts will be focused around that and we have school in the morning.
Hazel's Cinnamon Apple Wreath
Unfinished apple stained glass using crayons

It seems as naps may be coming to an end for Hazel. She has not napped this week. The positive side is she is going to bed by 6:30 which gives Steve some time for himself at night, but she can be very cranky by the time he gets home. She is however taking quiet alone time in her room every day instead of a nap. She spends a half hour or so "reading" her books and playing with the few toys that are in there. It gives me some time to breath.

Ok, now onto our crafts.The paper trees came from All Kids Network. We drew on the apples instead of using beads. I figured it would be a bit easier for Hazel to handle at this age.

The Cinnamon Apple Wreath also came from All Kids Network. We used cardstock instead of craft foam for the apples, stems and leaves, but I loved the idea of putting the cinnamon stick on it to add another sense to it.

Before doing the four season tree we talked about the sequence of the apple tree. There is a great worksheet on Mrs. Nelson's Class. For older kids you could have them do the sequence on their own, but for Hazel I showed her the sequence and we talked about it. She is now coloring it in. The four season tree was inspired by The Virtual Vine. And yesterday Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas also did a similar craft. I cut four of the trunks out and two of the green leaves both from cardstock. Then I had her glue them on with some help. Then we added tissue paper. We talked about the spring being the pink blossoms, the summer the blossoms become green apples which turn red as they mature, the fall the leaves falling as well as the apples and the winter the branches are bare except for our cotton ball snow.

Crayon Flakes
Flakes on wax paper pre-iron
Iron at low heat setting
The crayon method for stained glass pictures came from DLTK-kids. I posted this link yesterday, but we did it with tissue paper as we had done a leaf earlier. Today I tried the crayon method. To do this, you first use a crayon sharpener to make flakes of crayon in the colors you want. The smaller the pieces the easier it will be. Then you put the crayon flakes on a piece of wax paper. Fold the wax paper over it and with a low heat iron melt the crayons between the wax paper. Be careful not to get crayon on your iron or ironing board. I did let Hazel try the iron, but we talked about the hot part. Then glue the outline on it and let it dry. Once the glue is dry you can cut around the outline and glue the other side on. Then you can hang it in your window. Here are some pictures to help with this explanation.

Melted crayons
Frame glued on...Waiting for it to dry
Ok, that is enough for today. I'm off to make a quick dinner and those muffins! Have a great day!!

More Autumn Decorations and Apples, Apples, Apples

Autumn Hand Wreath

Today Hazel and I focused on apples and did some painting crafts. Now apples are one of Hazel's favorite foods. She has one at least once a day. My mother-in-law now keeps apples at her house for Hazel, and she never has fruit in her house. So today we started by reading the story, The Little Red House With No Doors and No Windows and a Star Inside. And of course we cut the apple sideways to see the star inside. We then pulled out white paper and red paint and did some apple prints. While we had the paint out we also did some mushroom prints with mushroom tops from our yard, leaf prints, acorn prints, etc. and used an apple cookie cutter.

Relaxing Monday

Mondays have become a day of relaxing for me. We have started with a weekly playdate at 7:30 a.m. with a friend and her 9-month-old. He takes an early nap at 9, so they come here until around 9 and then he falls asleep on their way home. Once a month I have an appointment at 10:30 so my mother-in-law babysits. We got in the habit of having her babysit on Mondays (when my appointments were more frequent), so she often takes her now even if I don't have an appointment. Today was one of those days. I spent some time shopping at Joanns. And then I met a friend at Kohls to spend our Kohlscash from our purchases last week. I came home for lunch and realized I didn't go to Staples. I need ink cartridges so I can print out all the interesting things I found for celebrating Michaelmas which is Thursday. Since I need to pick Hazel up around 1:30 unless my mother-in-law calls to tell me she got her to nap there (which hardly ever happens) I think I'll run out to Staples right before then.

I am hoping to get a bit more time to sew. I need to finish the three pairs of pants I'm making for Hazel and finish piecing her quilt. I will share the quilt pictures with you on October 19th when I get to be a guest blogger at Sew Happy Geek. It only seems fitting to share the quilt I made from her pattern and with the fabric I won from her blog on her blog. So look for a link that day.

Meanwhile, I was reading my Better Homes and Garden Magazine during lunch. I didn't get too far, but found something I wanted to share with you. You can download FREE pumpkin stencils and for each person who downloads BHG donates $2 up to $5000 to one of five charities (so up to $25,000 total). To do this all you have to do is visit and you will have to log in or start an account there. The charities are The Humane Society of the United States, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Rebuilding Together, and March of Dimes. You can download as many as you want once you do the initial one which chooses the charity your $2 click will go to. Again it is FREE to you, so go check it out (even if you don't want the stencil you can always delete it later!).

One other thing to check out is the competition Not Just a Housewife is hosting. She is giving away a $100 Pottery Barn gift card and if she gets enough entries she will get two to giveaway. Go check it out. She is introducing a new website called Hometalk, which looks pretty neat in itself. They have decorators, contractors, gardeners, experts to answer questions for you and lots of giveaways all free!! Go check them out!

Some other interesting Halloween/Autumn Decorations and Activities to check out:

My Computer is My Canvas this freebie
I Heart Crafty Things has an adorable handprint cardinal craft from Tippytoe Crafts.

Tippytoe Crafts has a beautiful fall wreath tutorial.

Tatertots and Jello has several lists and links to Halloween crafts and Pumpkin Projects and Fall Projects.

C.R.A.F.T. has a guest blogger with some adorable small printables for free autumn decorations.

Silly Eagle Books has a great apple tree art project to go with a book. I think I'll be trying this later when we do more with apples.
And Mrs. Happy Homemaker has delicious looking apple nachos. Yum!!
Gotta try these!

Ok, enough time on the internet. Gotta run to Staples and pick up Hazel. Have a great day!!

Spiced Pear Bread and How I Get Hazel to Clean Up Each Night

So this morning we did make the Spiced Pear Bread. It was definitely a hit. I started with having Hazel mash the canned pears. I used ones in unsweetened pear juice. I would have liked to use fresh pears, but the ones the store had were not ripe enough. Then Hazel loved pouring in all the ingredients and mixing. She also has enjoyed eating it all day.

The other story I want to share today is our method of clean up each night. About a week ago, I told Hazel about the Toy Fairy. The Toy Fairy (in our house at least) is a fairy that loves to play with children's toys, but doesn't have any of her own, so she visits the houses of children each night to see if any are left out. If they are left out she will take them to play with on her own. I have to say that this has been very successful. Hazel picks up all of her toys with some help from us. Last night we were off our rhythm so I told her I would let the Toy Fairy know that she could not take anything even if it wasn't put away since we didn't want to take the time to let her do it (and it really was our fault for the scheduling error), but that is the only night she hasn't picked up her toys since hearing about the Toy Fairy. Do you have a method that works for you? Please share it with us!

For Halloween I plan on using the Legend of the Pumpkin Fairy.

Saturday Baking and Crafts for Kids

Cookie Plate for the new neighbors

Autumn Maple Cutout Cookies
So today, we have started baking some maple cookies. I searched the internet for some good autumn recipes. We have new neighbors and we thought we would bake something to bring over to meet them. We made the dough for Autumn Maple Cutout Cookies from My Recipes this morning. The dough ended up being very dry and hard to work with. I left in the refrigerator for several hours, so I do not know if this is why. They are tasty, but not my favorite.


Signs of Autumn

Lights to help with the shorter days
For the first full day of autumn, Hazel and I spent the morning reading books about autumn and doing some crafts. We really focused on the signs of autumn. (I should add that yesterday at school we "read" Autumn by Gerda Muller. Since it has no words I'm using read loosely.)

This morning we started with two of our library books Step Into Fall: A New Season by Jane Belk Moncure and Seasonal Crafts Autumn by Gillian Chapman. (Please note: I have provided links to Amazon, but I  in no way am suggesting you buy them there, etc. I just know I like to have a place to see where to purchase the book when it is referenced.)

Shorter Days and Diwali:
Next we started our crafts. Seasonal Crafts: Autumn discusses the festival of Diwali (the beginning of the Hindu New Year) and suggests making lanterns.  We took the suggestion but changed the lanterns. We used baby food jars (I saved some from when Hazel ate it), Mod Podge glue, and fall colored tissue paper and of course a tea light. We had read how the days are getting shorter, so making lanterns seemed to be an obvious connection to it.

To make the lantern take a clean baby food jar and spread the Mod Podge glue on it. Then stick small pieces of tissue paper everywhere. It can overlap. The most important thing is to cover all of the outside visible surfaces. If it extends to the top do not fold it over, but leave it to dry and be cut off. It can be bent around the bottom of the jar. Let the glue dry some then paint another coat of Mod Podge on it. Let it dry completely and then trim top if necessary and put tea light candle in it. Light for a stained glass light.

Leaves Falling:
And of course autumn is not autumn without mention to leaves. This week I read on Mom on Timeout how to make Stained Glass Fall Leaves. To make this you will need a leaf pattern (or multiple--Mom on Timeout includes some), fall colored paper (the thicker the better, but construction paper will work), wax paper, glue, scissors, exacto knife, and tissue paper.

Have child rip tissue paper into small pieces. While he or she is doing that, cut the leaves (you need two for each leaf) and then leaving a frame, cut out the inside with the exacto knife or razor blade of some sort. Take a piece of wax paper that will be able to fold in two and completely cover past the cut out part of the leaf. Spread glue one half of it and have child put small pieces of tissue paper on it. The goal is to cover the entire half of the wax paper. They can overlap. Then spread glue on the other half and fold over. Let the glue dry a bit. Then glue the leaf frame on each side of the wax paper so they overlap appropriately. Then trim excess wax paper/tissue paper. Tape to a window and let the sun shine through it.

Birds Migrating
The last sign of autumn we focused on today was the birds migrating south for the winter. The idea of this craft came from Seasonal Crafts: Autumn, but we expanded on it by adding feathers and decorations. Instead of making it into a mobile, I tied them to the different arms of a light in our kitchen. So we now have a circle of birds flying south. With older kids, I would probably make the mobile and try to do it in the V-shape and discuss why the birds fly in that shape. For this craft you need cardstock or cardboard in nice colors, crayons or markers, tissue paper, scissors, glue and feathers and string (and a stick if you are going to make it into a mobile).

To make this craft do your best to draw and cut out a bird shape and cut a slit where the wings should go. Let child decorate bird. Take a piece of tissue paper (I cut mine into thirds or so) and fold it back and forth in accordion style (see picture to the right).  Stick the folded tissue paper into the slot you cut for the wings. Glue feathers to tail. Poke a hole in bird and tie a string/thread through it and hang.  Make more for your flock. You can open the wings like a fan to make them appear to be flying.

For our next crafts I'm hoping to include more with smells of fall. I'm thinking of playing with my playdough recipes and adding scents again. I'll let you know how it comes out. I'm also almost finished with my oversized queen quilt top. I'll share it soon.  Enjoy your weekend!

Leaves, acorns, pine cones and crafts!

Hazel's handprint
Today I adapted a recipe for No-Bake Craft Clay from The Arts and Crafts Busy Book by Trish Kuffner. When it was ready, we made nature impressions from the things we gathered on our nature walk on Sunday. We also did one of Hazel's hand. Hazel really enjoyed this craft and my hands smelled of cinnamon for quite awhile afterwards even with washing. We are going to try new scents next. I'm thinking I will add some vanilla extract the next time and may play with other extracts and essential oils. It adds a whole new sense to play dough.
Oak leaf and acorns
Oak Leaf
My oak leaf and acorn
No Bake Craft Clay Revised:
Food coloring (I used red and yellow to make orange and the dots are the cinnamon)
1 1/4 cups cold water
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups baking soda
Cinnamon (or other scent of your choice)
Damp cloth (that you don't care if it gets messy)

Add the food coloring to the water and then put in pan. Then combine the water with the cornstarch, baking soda and cinnamon (I probably used about 2 teaspoons, but didn't measure it). Mix over medium heat until it becomes the consistency of mushy mashed potatoes. The original recipe said about 4 minutes but I found it took much longer like 15 minutes. Then scoop onto the plate and cover with the damp cloth until cooled. (It does solidify while cooling.) When cool knead the dough and shape. To do the nature impressions take a small ball and make it into a disc big enough to take your piece of nature. Press the leaf or whatever you are using down into the clay and then lift up. You may want to let the disc set a little before pressing to make sure you get more details.

The other craft we did today was leaf rubbings. I found this idea on Michaels website...well actually an email they sent me. I printed out a few copies of their leaf shaped book and gave some to Hazel and kept some. I showed her how to do leaf rubbings. My original hope for this project was to keep her busy while her toe nails dried, but she decided she did not want to try the Piggy Paints with me today after I touched her toe to apply the base coat. So my toes are pink and hers are not. However she did have fun doing some rubbings and coloring in general. You can definitely tell which ones I did and which ones she did. We did not cut them out and I probably won't since several of them went outside of the outline. Hazel has not learned to color in the lines yet.