Wednesday, April 29, 2009

happy colors

Today I had such fun visiting Vivienne's classroom. I brought a heap of kool aid packets, and we dyed play silks. No way would I want a child to drink the stuff, but it does make lovely bright colors. The kids seemed to like the smell of the silks once they were dyed.

It was really fun. I found a few good books about silk worms. One was an excellent overview with lots of photos of silkworms in each of the four stages of their life cycle. The second book was a picture book, The Empress and the Silkworm, which gives the historical context. It was also very interesting. Did you know that to make ten silk blouses, it required over 8,000 silkworms who eat over 350 pounds of mulberry leaves? And silk production was kept a national secret for three thousand years in China! According to legend, The Empress Si - Ling Chi made the discovery, presumably by way of happy accident. In the story, a silkworm pupa dropped from a nearby mulberry bush into her cup of tea, which made the silk strand begin to unravel. She dreamed that night, of a "shimmering yellow robe that flowed the like rivers of heaven," worn by her beloved, the emperor Huang-ti. So she went to work to invented the silk reel and silk loom to create it. Talk about inspired!

Here is the method that I used, and it worked quite well for the class of 16 children. First we soaked the silkies in hot tap water and a splash of vinegar. Then we filled mason jars with hot water, and sprinkled the coloured powders of choice(the kids used 1-2 each, which gave more of a tie dye look - 3 would give a more solid shade) into the water, and stirred with a wooden spoon. Then the children carefully dipped the damp silky down into the dye water. We closed the lids, set the jars in the sun, and let mother nature warm the dye batch until all the color had absorbed into the silkies. This only took a few minutes for some, the red shades seemed to take a bit longer. We removed the silks from the water (now looking clear) and rinsed them out, hanged them in the sun to dry and, voila! A beautiful silky! These have so many uses around our house, a truly favorite item. The last photo is of the silk that I made with some leftover easter egg dye.

with gratitude for billowing, happy colors dancing in the sunshine

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Five Senses

Every day into spring, I marvel at it's magnificence. Something new is open and in full glorious blossom each day. A few days ago, it was the Clematis that were opening. Today I notice the elegant Irises popping up on every street. It inspired me to take note of all the wonder that waits to be noticed in a simple day.

Sight: the purple goodness of a blueberry smoothie and rhodedendron in bloom
and pretty little parasols making a fairy fruit market
smell: the fragrance of yet another lilac bush in bloom
and clean clothes drying in the hot sun
sound: Vivi practicing on her violin
and singing along to the simple rhythm
"See the Little Monkey..."
touch: dancing in the mist of a sprinkler on a hot day in the garden
and fingers in the wispy wheatgrass
taste: crusty bread with tomato and cheese, what can I say?

Friday, April 24, 2009

In Good Health

I am back to feeling good after a day of 24-hour stomach flu. Nothing like a little suffering to remind one of how to be grateful for the sweet things in life! Vivi made a cheerful card for me, which brightened my day.

I am also grateful for Jasper's willingness to nap and lounge around the house all day! We read lots of books. I managed to mend a cute little Cornelloki dress that I got at Goodwill for Vivi some time ago.

hugs and kisses to my sweet family - thanks for caring for mama

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

small wonders

Yesterday the kids and I delighted in the discoveries that we made in the yard. As we worked outside, we discovered several birds nests. One was a cardinal's nest and Vivi peered on my shoulders to spy little bitty chicks. We quickly backed off to give the parents peace of mind, but Vivi was tickled to have peeked at such tiny wonderments as these. As I trimmed some bushes in front of our porch, I saw a little brown bird flutter away. This one cradled little blue and brown spotted eggs. It seems that it is the nest of a common house sparrow, most likely.

We also recently collected some wild violets from the garden. I candied them by making a simple syrup of boiled sugar and water, with a splash of rosewater. Then I dipped them in by their stem, set them on parchment paper and then carefully sprinkled sugar and let them dry. They turned out lovely and very delicious, sweet with a delicate floral note. I love finding new ways to appreciate the plentitude of spring. The kids have also had fun discovering the earthworms in the garden as we dig. They gently tuck them back under the earth, after holding them in their hands and admiring them for a bit.

What sweet little wonders have you found lately?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tom's Creek Falls

Yesterday we headed out of town to hike to a waterfall. Along the way, we stopped in Old Fort, NC. Great Granddaddy Moffit spent his boyhood in a rustic mountain cabin that now sits on Mountain Gateway Museum property. It was fascinating to see it and imagine it's history.

~with gratitude for the water that nourishes our spirits

Nature Walk

This has been a glorious week for a spring break. We have visited many outdoor favorite spots. On Thursday, we visited the Botanical Garden. They have many different trilliums that are in bloom, and countless other lovely flowers. I love to watch the beauty unfold, and be awed by such sacred mystery. I feel inspired to grow and blossom in my own self, to live with expanded creativity and possibility.

Awake, thou wintry earth -Fling off thy sadness! Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth Your ancient gladness!

~Thomas Blackburn, "An Easter Hymn"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fresh Blooms

There is something so magical about the Arboretum in spring. I love to see the fresh blooms of spring peeking out. I love the fresh air and birdsong of April. Vivi noticed the hum of crickets. And the rain showers give me dreams of lush gardens filled with blossoms. The kids happily make their fairy houses and run free through the garden paths. Not to mention splashing in the fountains and sporadic rain showers, so happy to feel the cool water run over heads, hands, and toes. We shared the delights with our friends Jen, Emma and Ciara, and my dad (Grandpa) who is visiting this week.

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. ~Rachel Carson