Days of Easter Past

Going through my pictures from the past year I found the pictures the boys took of their first foray into hand-painted easter eggs.  As we are rapidly heading into this year’s Easter egg projects, I wanted to post these now for my boys so they will remember their wonderful artistic eggs.  🙂

Vash painting eggs

Vash's green malachite egg

Jesse painting eggs

Jesse's purple eggMarkus painting eggs

Markus's orange egg2013 Easter Eggs


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A Lord Of The Rings Halloween

Today is another entry from the non-blogging year to catch up. As you may know, if you follow this blog, we spend a lot of time in making the boys’ costumes for Halloween. This past year was no exception.  With the release of the Hobbit, the boys renewed their interests in all things Tolkien and marathon viewings of the entire Lord of the Rings series of movies started occuring, resulting in a Halloween theme of Lord of the Rings.

Markus started growing his hair out for Legolas on the first day of November in 2012 to be ready for this year. No more bangs. He succeeded in getting it long enough for the Legolas braid down the back.

Legolas Braid down the back

We also spent a lot of time working on his jerkin. It still is not completed – I have to work on how to inset the wrap around sleeves and add the metallic design work – but it was functional for this year and we will keep working on the design.

Markus as Legolas

Chip made the bracers for him . . . .

green Legolas Bracers

and the quiver.

Back view of Legolas with his quiver

We did shortcut some of the costume – using a light blue long-sleeved t-shirt instead of the blue silk shirt he wears. I am trying to control my costume making and remind myself that it is only worn for 3 hours at most – since their school does not allow the older kids to wear costumes to school – and I have to stop knocking myself out with these costumes. Still . .. . .

Jesse as Frodo

Jesse was Frodo – Chip even took a gold picture hanger and bent it into a ring for him to wear.

close up of Jesse as Frodo

The transformation in Jesse was crazy when we added the wig. This wig is not only a very handy costume accessory, it is downright transformative when your boys have long blonde hair.

Jesse in character as Frodo

We used the same fabric that we used in Markus’s costume for Jesse’s pants and found a stretch velvet for the cape as the elven fabric was supposed to change in the light.

Jesse in his elven cape

We did not forget the furry feet – attached with an elastic across the bottom of his foot – though it looks like we attached it to the sandal. It was just too cold for him to walk barefoot that day so we made do.

Jesse's furry feet

Finally we have the Ringwraith – and not any Ringwraith – the Witch King who is the chief Ringwraith.

Beware the Ringwraith

This was the easiest costume for me, since Vash was a Dementor from Harry Potter the year before, and the hardest for Chip since Chip had to make the helmet. LOVE the helmet!! So did Vash, though we had to pack his head with fabric because it was a little loose on him. I think Chip was kind of amazed when I told him to paint our wooden claymore black. He kept asking me if I was sure and I kept telling him yes. He had to have a big black sword. And one must sacrifice to stay true to the character. 🙂

The Witch King costume

So that is our 2013 Halloween costumes. Markus wants to continue as Legolas for this coming year. I will figure out the sleeve wraps this summer and be ready for the fall. We told Vash that he could pick anything he wanted but we had to be able to see his face. The last three years he was a ghost, a dementor and a ringwraith and we never saw more than his eyes.

He said he wants to be a beagle. Oh my.

Hope you liked the costumes.

Have a great Tuesday.

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Monday Project Report – Incognito

Every year our family gathers together on Christmas Eve at Chip sister’s house to celebrate the holiday.  It is really the only time during the year that we all get together because the rest of the family lives 2½ hours away from us and everyone is busy with work, raising their kids and their own lives.  When the kids were all little, one of the Aunts would buy matching pajamas for all of the kids to put on after they opened their presents and we would take pictures (there are 7 first cousins on Chip’s side of the family), but that got harder as the older ones grew out of child sizes.

This year I wanted to make something that kept that idea but on that the entire family would be part of.  I have been carrying around this project in my head for awhile and this year we are going to do it.

Incognito Jesse

We are going to make the Incognito mustache cowls for everyone in the family.

Incognito Markus

They all will be matching – but with different mustaches.

Incognito Vash

I have only made one so far – but you get the idea.

First I had to pick a base color that everyone would wear that I had in my stash.  I had 20 skeins of the Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran in my stash in a stonewashed denim blue which I thought would be perfect.  Everyone wears blue jeans.  I also had a large skein of Plymouth Encore Worsted in a dark brown for the mustaches so I was ready to begin.

The pattern is basically a plain cowl and then you add the mustaches using a duplicate stitch.  I was not sure if I wanted to do that so the first one I made I knit in the mustache and stranded the yarn around the cowl.  The problem with this method is that you see the brown under the blue when it is stretched.  On the otherhand, I thought it would add a bit more warmth around the face.  It worked out alright.  Then next one I will try the duplicate stitch and see if I like it more.

Incognito cowl with it stranded rather than duplicate stitched

The pattern can be made simply, knitting the cowl and then sewing up the hem edges into the cowl after it is done, which worked out okay.  The first hem I did I forgot to sew it loosely so it could stretch when going over the head.  I noticed the pull when putting it one but it still went over the head okay.  The second hem I sewed looser and it worked out fine.  I think I am going to try the “tangy” version on the second one.

The pattern is free and is a pattern.  Lots of folks have made this pattern and have posted charts for different mustaches that I want to try.  If I get them done I will post a family picture after Christmas to show you how they worked out.  For now, I just have to get knitting.

Hope your Monday is a good start to a good week.

Onward and upward.

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Food on Friday – Avocado-Mango Salsa

Scallops were on sale last week so Chip came home from shopping with both a pound of scallops and a pound of shrimp.  Next was to find a recipe that would use both.  Nothing in the cookbooks so I did my usual and went to the Bon Appetit website, did a search for scallops and shrimp and found their Mexican Seafood Saute with Avocado-Mango Salsa.   Since we only had two pounds of shellfish, we also did the Mexican Pepper Casserole from the Moosewood Cookbook and Popovers.  But to pull this off we needed all hands on deck.

Vash prepared the star of this post – the Avocado-Mango Salsa.  What I love is the simplicity of this dish combined with the great flavor punch it gives to the meal.  It is simple in its ingredients.salsa ingredients

Can I just say that I LOVE that you can buy pre-sliced mango.  I used to mangle mine trying to get the fruit off the pit.  Buying the slices made this recipe a breeze.  As you can see, all you need is sliced mango, ripe avocados, a shallot, a jalapeno pepper and some limes for their wonderful juice.  We gave everything to Vash and he got to work.

First he diced the mango (we used the entire package).

Vash dicing mango

Then he halved each avocado (we used two), twisting it to remove the pit.

twisting the avocado to remove the pitNext, he took his knife and cut slices into the avocado – then cutting across the slices to cut chunks in the avocado.  They came out a little small – we will make fatter slices next time.

Vash cutting slices into the avocado

Then he diced the shallot – again, first cutting slices and then cutting them cross-wise for the smaller pieces.

Vash cutting the shallot

Then he diced the jalapeno – being VERY CAREFUL not to rub his eyes after his hands touched the pepper.

Vash dicing the jalapeno

And finally he juiced two limes and added the juice to the remaining ingredients.

Vash juicing limes

That was it.  Avocado Mango Salsa.

avocado mango salsa

While that was being made, Chip had made the marinade for the saute (we left out the tequila and just used water, and I hate cumin so that was left out too).  After getting the scallops in the marinade, he and Jesse started working on peeling the shrimp (which was thankfully deveined prior to purchase.)

Chip and Jesse peeling shrimp

Let me jump in here to say that the crazy messy kitchen and life I have are part of why this is a family life blog and not a food blog.  Food blogs have pictures taken in beautiful clean kitchens with white countertops and food in pretty china bowls.  In my house you see the dog chewed cabinets (leftovers from our puppy fostering days), the boxes on the table that were dropped there from unloading the car, wrappers on the counters because we don’t clean up until after we are done cooking, and all the rest of the mess that goes with having a houseful of kids and dogs and four businesses all working out of one space.  So yes, here you get real family life – though just once I would like to have a food blogger’s kitchen.  But that is for another day.  Back to this day – which was Tuesday by the way.

My job for this meal, besides handing out cooking assignments, was the Mexican Pepper Casserole.  While I usually love the recipes from Moosewood Cookbook, this one came out  a little too greasy/oily when it was done so I am not including it in the blog.   It is basically sauteed onions and peppers layered with slices of cheddar cheese, topped with a sour cream/egg custard sprinkled with paprika.  Here it is just before coming out of the oven.

mexican pepper casserole

The boys liked the paprika.

Markus’s job was to both help Chip and to make the popovers.  Now, popovers are not exactly mexican, but I needed something bready that I could make quick that would go into a 375 degree oven and they were the first thing I found.  He did a good job.

Markus's popovers

They came in handy to sop up the sauce from the saute.

I am not going to list the full process of making the saute.  It is in the recipe that is linked above.  However, after the shrimp and the scallops were sauteed, the marinade is added back to the pan to make a sauce that is out of this world good!!.

mexican seafood sauteNext time I think I will make rice so that I have something to really absorb that sauce because we were all taking our popovers and wiping the pan when we were done.

So here it all is for that short period of time before it was all gone

mexican dinner

Reviews were that the Mexican Pepper Casserole is not to be repeated.  It just did not work.  Everyone loved the salsa EXCEPT for Vash, who found the heat of the jalapenos just tooooo spicy.  The Seafood Saute was a HUGE hit with everyone and the popovers all went quick too.

The boys are very happy that the Food on Friday blogs are back.  They love showing you what they cook.  Markus has been busy photographing alot of his baking but is finding that he is doing that same thing that I tend to do – forgetting to photograph the end results and then eating his work before he remembers – so we have to wait until we buy more strawberries for him to show you his strawberry, almond, chocolate chip muffins.

Have a great weekend everyone.  I have a new project to show you on Monday.  Can’t wait.

Onward and Upward.


Posted in cooking, cooking with kids, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Hawk Studio Flies Again

One of the things that happened during my non-blogging year was that Chip and I decided to make a commitment to reopening our store – Hawk Studio.  We live in this great little village that gives us so much support, and we were given the opportunity to reopen the store in the same space that we used a couple of years ago which is just a couple of blocks from our house.

The store and pocket park

One of the nice things is that it comes with the little pocket park next door so that when the weather clears it will be a nice place for other artisans or musicians to set up and show their wares.  Chip likes working outside too.

The shop includes alot of our auction finds . . .

Coming into the shop

and, of course, Chip’s leatherwork.

leather rack in store

We have a special display of soaps and other wonderful bodywork goodies from our friends who are Asia Luna natural products . . . . .

Asia Luna in Hawk Studio

and Escape to Evermore has a rack in the back corner.  We sold that wonderful big mirror in the above picture and a new/old art deco period one will be going up next week to replace it.

Escape yarns in Hawk Studio

On top of my rack is this amazing gingerbread creation of a shepherd and her sheep.  It was made by Indigo Ocean, who is a wonderful artist in our local Waldorf School community, and I treasure this.

We bought a big bolt of sage green burlap that we hung on the walls to soften the stark white in the room.  I think it works.

Then, of course, we have Chip’s workbench on the other side of the room (which still has the white walls).

Chip's workbench

Chip is still trying to get used to the fishbowl type aspect of the store and we have curtains that we are working with now to try to cut it down some.  It is still a work in progress.

On Thursdays I will try to show you some more of the things that Chip is making as well as (hopefully) more work by Escape to Evermore.  Right now, finding time to keep the store open is a challenge all by itself considering the boys’ schedule and Chip’s committments for them as well as his work on our house and on the flats – more on that another day.  We are just doing the best we can right now and we will see if we can keep it all going/growing.

As long as we don’t stop moving, no one can complain, right?

Have a great opening day to Spring.

Onward and Upward. . . . .

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Stillness – that moment of pure existence – where the senses are irrelevant and you are but a molecule in that great what is – that is the moment that eludes me during my days.

I try to find time to touch it – but it seems that in this life of clocks and boys and bills and noise it is so very out of reach.  There are times it feels closer – like when I am spinning wool and my attention is focused on the movement of fiber through my fingers – but even then it is pushed aside by the wool – the breaks in the fibers, the concentration on the task.  There always seems to be something in the way.

I picked up the book “Start Where You Are” by Pema Chodron – the title seemed to say it all at the time.  I opened to the first chapter titled “No Escape, No Problem”.  Yup – that speaks to me too.  I read the first sentence – “We Already Have Everything We Need”.  Yes – I need to remember this and keep that in my focus.  And then she spoke about the importance of maintaining a practice, beginning with the practice of meditation, and I faltered.

I have tried to find the time to sit and meditate – to seek to shut out everything and be still – but there is no space in this house of children to make my own and no time when the noises of the village do not invade the house, even when everyone is away.  Even in the early morning, there are still the sounds of trucks outside and snoring – both dogs and humans – which invade the stillness.  My breath is mixed with all of these – and the stillness escapes my grasp.

So I am accepting that my life is not putting me in a place where I can be still – where the noises of the world will leave me in peace.  And if I have everything I need, then maybe I don’t need it right now – I just want it.  So I will continue to look for that opening in space and time where I can be still, knowing that for now, the noise of life is what I need – and I certainly have plenty of that!

Be well.


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A Winter Walk With Tucker

Down the ravine.
winter boys mittens 053

winter boys mittens 054

Through the snow.

Markus and Tucker at the creek

Jesse along the creekbed

Playing in the creek.

Vash moving ice in the creek

Jesse sitting IN the creek

Markus and Tucker along the creekbed

And back up the ravine.

Vash climbing up the ravine

Happy Day for all involved.  😀

The boys and Tucker

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