Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NY Sheep and Wool 2012

Well, it's been almost a month since we were there, so I guess I should get around to posting about the NY Sheep and Wool festival, eh?

The drive down was gorgeous as usual, and uneventful after I once again over prepared. The Llama was an awesome passenger and sang along with the songs and looked at the sights. We didn't have the spare cash to buy anything fiber-y but we still had a great time wandering through the animal barns and checking out all the sheep, llamas, alpacas and goats.

ny sheep and
wool 2012 7

ny sheep and
wool 2012 6

But the real fun began when we got to the petting zoo. For the last several months the Llama has been obsessed with Lemurs and has seen tons of videos with the Llama Papa on You Tube, so we were all a bit excited to see them. But first there was a full grown turtle and it's size matched bunny friend:

ny sheep and
wool 2012 1

And then the petting goats:

ny sheep and
wool 2012 2

And a really neat kangaroo:
(And a baby alligator, which The Llama also really liked, but we couldn't get a good photo of.)

ny sheep and
wool 2012 3

And finally, the Lemurs!

ny sheep and
wool 2012 5

ny sheep and
wool 2012 4
(We were quite fond of the one sunning itself.)

After a brief break to play in the leaves and have lunch, The Llama insisted that we make the rounds through the barns and then we headed home.

ny sheep and
wool 2012 8

ny sheep and
wool 2012 9

All in all we had a great day, and I'm so glad that we live so near by and can spend the day having so much fun with all the animals. The Lama seemed interested by the few spinners we passed along the way, and I think as he grows he will become more and more interested in the fiber side of things as well, which makes me all sorts of giddy.

ny sheep and
wool 2012 10

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ginger scones

It's getting towards that time of year for treats and holiday spice.

So here is my recipe gift to you:

Ginger Scones

2 C flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 C chopped crystallized ginger
5 Tbsp cold butter
1 C Heavy cream
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp raw sugar

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Cut in butter (or use a food processor) until it resembles a fine crumb.

Stir in the heavy cream with a fork until it just starts to come together. Turn everything out onto the counter top and gently knead until you have a rough, sticky ball. Be careful not to overwork the dough or the scones will be tough.

Pat the dough into a greased 9" spring form pan, cover with cling film, and refrigerate over night. (if you don’t have a spring form pan, you can form the dough on a 9” plate; also if you absolutely have to have scones now, simply put the dough in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes to firm everything up before slicing)

Preheat the oven to 400ยบ F, remove the sides of the pan and cut the round into 8 equal wedges. Place the wedges on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving plenty of room between each wedge; lightly brush with milk and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 15- 18 minutes, or until just golden around the edges.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

As Summer Comes to an End

labor day
wander 09-03-12 1

The summer draws to a close, The Llama Pappa is preparing to start a new job, and the Llama and I are hunkering down to enjoy our days together. I have batches of play dough made, and all the ingredients for homemade paints in our kitchen, and I've pulled Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years from the bookshelf to read and gather supplies.

pine bush
3-19-12 2

We have had a wonderful time this summer. Despite the heat we have managed to get out for hikes and walks regularly, often in the mornings right after breakfast, before the heat arrived. We have mostly stuck close to home, but did make it farther afield occasionally.

05-21-12 5

The Llama has had a blast walking and hiking. He is really great at staying on the trail, loves inspecting flowers and bugs, and is particularly fond of poking at an especially scummy part of a nearby pond, delighting at the decaying leaves and disgusting smells he dredges up. We have seen countless wildflowers and many frogs and small fishes, and thankfully have been bitten by very few bugs.

the little
scientist 08-16-12 1

I need to give a shout out to Abbi at Greening Sam and Avery who has given us the confidence that The Llama could handle running free on the nature trails, given advice on how to make our hikes smoother, and made it so that we all could get more out of our adventures. Without her blog we never would have thought to take the Llama out so young, and probably would have had a much less enriching summer. To anyone with small children, I highly suggest you read her post here.

03-07-12 9

In a few more years I hope that The Llama will be more copacetic about me stopping to draw in my nature journal, and I hope to someday make him one of his own so that he can stop and observe with me. I already have the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock and Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie on my Amazon wishlist to get ideas from.

frear hike
03-11-12 1

labor day wander 09-03-12 7

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Counting Sheep

The Lama has a favorite book called Can't Sleep Without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill about a little girl who can't get to sleep, so her mother suggest counting sheep, but it still takes a long time for her to fall asleep, and the sheep get tired and quit, then all sorts of hijinks ensue when they try to find replacements. Also about sheep, one of the episodes of Signing Time we have has a story, once again about counting sheep and the silly things a girl imagines would happen.

Add these two stories to the Llama's love of numbers and he has been insisting on 'counting sheep' with us lately, but he only has one little sheep Lego figure, so there wasn't much actual counting going on. I added a new poster to our wall, with the numbers 1-20 to extend his counting range. He loves the poster, but it just wasn’t sheep.

So I made some counting sheep for him. I took some sheep doodles I had made for another project, cleaned them up, and printed them out in card stock. Then I glued them to Popsicle sticks and now we have bunches of counting sheep!


I’ll hold up a random number of sheep, and he'll count them off. Or I'll ask him to hand me a number of sheep. He is loving them. And, as a bonus, they make great little puppets for farm/sheep imaginative play too!

If you would like to make your own counting sheep, you can download the PDF here

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Done early yet still out late.

Weeks, I mean WEEKS ago, I made three Father's day cards; it took me several days to finish the component parts and put everything together, and I patted myself on the back for thinking ahead since I was barely on time with my Mother's day cards.

Here they are:

fathers day
cards 2012

Books for my father who loves to read and is always sending us interesting books, beer for the Llama Papa’s dad who is very manly (and got a John Wayne quote on the inside), and a buck for my uncle who is an avid hunter (deer are very hard to draw).

But then I put off looking for good quotes to write inside of them and forgot that we had a trip planned for the week before Father's day, and now here I am sending them out the Friday before, and they totally won't get there in time.

*Sigh. Someday I will learn.

Anyways, here are the (very alliterative) digis I made if anybody else would like them (just click on them to go to my flickr account for larger sizes):


beer mug


Friday, June 15, 2012

Half-birthday fun

Last week the Llama Papa and I packed everything up and took the Llama back up north to visit family for the Llama's 2 1/2 birthday.

We were a little worried because last year the Llama had trouble staying still for so long in the car (3 1/2 hr drive) and had trouble adjusting to being away from home, but this year he was a total rock star. We burned our They Might Be Giants children's CDs and some Signing Time songs for the car and packed lots of snacks, and the drive was a breeze! When we got there we just chilled out in the hotel room and relaxed.

The Llama is too big for the hotel-provided crib, and they didn't have cots, so my mom lent us a small air mattress. It was a good thing we had him on the floor and not the spare bed. The Llama rolls around A LOT at night, and we found him cuddled in the corner by the door in the morning.

w-town trip
summer 2012 2
(reading with daddy)

The next day, we were going to go to the Zoo with the Llama Papa's parents before the party, but it ended raining all day, so we just hung out at their house while the Llama charmed their socks off. He ran around and played, played with their cat Jake, and gave them cuddles and was just amazing. After that we headed to my parent's for the party. My mom had a fruit plate and a veggie plate and even cheese and veggie meats for us. The Llama promptly polished off all the strawberries before moving on to the black olives and cherry tomatoes. The party was really fun and low key; we got to see my cousin who lives in SC and her brand new son, Grayson. The Llama got lots of new crayons, a bunch of colored pencils, some drawing pads, some new dinosaurs, new books, and Duplo! He even got some new clothes, but he didn't seem as excited about those. By the end of the party the Llama was VERY tired but he still behaved very well and was sweet with everybody. We headed back to the hotel and, after playing with his new dinosaurs for a while, he asked to go to bed early.

The next day (this morning we found the Llama in the bathroom doorway), we decided to try the zoo again, and it was a beautiful day! Both grandmothers came along as well as my Aunt and cousin with her new little one. We had a wonderful time; the Llama loved the big cats, we saw wolf pups and eagles, and he got down on his hand and knees to pace with the fisher. The wolverines were hiding, but the otters loved him and did all sorts of tricks. The Llama wanted to stay and watch the bear all day (even though it smelled strongly of skunk). He had a blast going through the "bear cave" with cousin Tasha. The Llama was fascinated by the chickens, donkeys, and goats at the petting zoo, but was a bit scared of the pigs. Then we got him to pose on the Dolphin Statue (both the Llama papa and I have pictures of us as children on the same statue).

w-town trip
summer 2012 5

w-town trip
summer 2012 4

After the Zoo, we headed back to my parents house and visited with my friend Monica and her new little one, Valerie. The Llama had skipped his nap and was very snoozy, but it was so late in the day that if he napped he wouldn't go to bed, so he cuddled with my mom as she read him stories from old books my grandmother has saved from when my dad was little. Eventually, it was time for us to all say goodbye and head back to the hotel. The Llama once again was VERY tired and had trouble keeping his eyes open, so we had another very early night.

w-town trip
summer 2012 6

w-town trip
summer 2012 8

The next morning, it was time to head home (in the night the Llama went from the mattress to the foot of the bed, back to the mattress, and finally in front of the door again--the boy certainly can roll!). We packed everything up, and my parents stopped by to say goodbye before we headed out. The night before, our rear driver's side window had gotten stuck down, but my Uncle Terry came and helped the Llama Papa pull it up. My dad brought duct tape and we secured it closed before we left. Otherwise, the drive home was uneventful, but full of Signing Time sing-alongs. We were all glad to be home. We quickly unpacked and sat back and relaxed.

The Llama is definitely glad to be home and back to his normal routine, but he has already asked if we could go visit cousin Tasha today and recounted many stories of adventures with his grandparents and Jake the orange cat.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I made a new sketch kit!

Ever since I readthe Artist's Journal Workshop I've really wanted to go out and sketch everything everywhere I went. So I got myself a cheap sketchbook from Wal*Mart, made a pretty cover for it, and then it just sat there.

Eventually I started taking each page and separating it into eight boxes: one for each day and a header box. Then each day I do a little drawing about something that happened that day, and journal a bit. It really helped me get more comfortable sketching and using watercolors, but it wasn't really what I was aiming for. I did a few recipe sketches (here and here) but not much else. I'm a member of the Artist's Journal Workshop group on Facebook, and seeing all the wonderful sketches people made was really inspiring, but I just wasn't sketching. Then it occurred to me.

This was my old sketch kit:

sketch kit old
vs new old

The book is 8 1/2 x 11.

Yeah, every time I went everywhere I would shove all that stuff into my bag and shlepp it around, and then not use it! The book was big and unwieldy. I never knew what art materials to use, and if I did pull it out, I was faced by this huge expanse of empty paper and I felt like whatever I sketched had to fill the whole page and be 'worthy' of a big sketch; very intimidating.

So I got to thinking: I knew I needed to stick to just one medium-- so I picked watercolor-- and that I needed a much smaller palette. And then I thought, my daily journal drawings were small, and maybe I would feel more comfortable sketching on a smaller format.

I started researching bookbinding (and you've seen my beginnings here; I’ve made several more, and will probably post more about them later), and finally made my own custom sketchbook:

little flower
coptic sketchbook 1 little flower
coptic sketchbook 2

It's 4 1/2 x 6, with 64 pages of nice sketching paper, Coptic bound with some cardboard I scavenged from an old tissue box for the covers.

Then I grabbed an old gum box I'd been saving and hot glued sections into it, and filled it with some tube watercolors I had. And now I have this:

sketch kit old
vs new new

Much better, a few paper towels for my water brush (in the pink and black bag along with my pencil, eraser and pens) and I'm good to go!

Here is the front of the book, contact info if I ever loose it and then my palette (a great idea I got from the Artist's Journal Workshop):

sketch kit old
vs new new inside

And my first sketch in it:

little book
sketch 1

The local park has these really neat sprinklers for kids to play under in the summer. There are benches positioned around the concrete splash pad for parents to sit at and watch the kids.

It's not very good, but I'll get better as I sketch more while out and about and get used to the new size and palette. It was freeing to only have a small space to draw; I didn't feel obligated to find something "worthy" of a big sketch, and it was easy to hold on to and draw in and to hide it back in my bag whenever the Llama came over while he was playing. (He gets very upset if I draw where he can get to, and is always trying to take my book away from me or grab my pencil, I think partially because he wants to draw too but hasn't figured out to let other people draw on their own paper and he on his.)

I'll still use my big sketchbook and different supplies for my daily journals, but for going places, this is definitely a keeper.

here's a better drawing I did last night before bed:


Thursday, May 17, 2012


Remember these papers from the marbled paper tutorial?

marble paper 
tutorial 10marble paper 
tutorial 9

Well, they have now become these:

little orange
handmade book 3

longstich book 1

Two new hand bound books!
I originally became interested in bookbinding because a lot of artists make their own sketchbooks because it's cheaper than buying them, and you can make them exactly to your specifications.

little orange
handmade book 2

I started with simple long stitch first to practice (Coptic stitch seemed to be the most popular for artists sketchbooks). I quite like them! The orange was the first one I did; I covered a piece of card stock with the marbled paper, then marked and scored for the folds, and sewed in eight signatures (bunches of folded paper) of five pages each.

little orange
handmade book 1

I had punched the holes a bit unevenly, and then forgot to keep all the signatures pointing the same way, so its a bit uneven, and I had a bit of difficulty keeping my sewing tension even. Even with that I like it, and I'm kind of glad that it's not perfect, because then I would be afraid to use it.

longstich book 3

After a while I couldn't stop thinking of making more books, so I got out my supplies and made the purple book. I made the cover a bit larger than the pages this time, and added a sheet of plain paper on the inside of the cover too. I think it looks much nicer this way. I also used seven signatures of six sheets each this time, which made a slightly skinnier spine.

longstich book 4

The corners are a little rough, but overall I’m really happy with it. It feels really nice in my hands, I think I got all the proportions just right on this one. And I had a much better time keeping my sewing tension even too.

I'm definitely going to make more books, it is so fun! Now I just have to decide what to do with them all!

longstich book 5

Monday, May 14, 2012

Marble/Crackle Paper Tutorial

This results in a really nice marble/crackle look/texture. The paper will be a bit stiffer and a touch more brittle than normal paper, and of course will have much more texture.
Feel free to play around with multiple colors and density of paint to water for different effects.

I used this method to create the background papers in these cards:

Gather your materials: printer paper, a bowl of water, a big brush, and watercolors:
marble paper 
tutorial 1

Take a sheet of paper and crumple it up nice and tight:
marble paper 
tutorial 2

Quickly dip it in the water, making sure it is fully submerged, then remove it. Do this quickly; you don't want it to get TOO wet. (You will notice that in this photo the ball is beginning to pull apart, I let it sit in the water way too long to take the photo.)
marble paper 
tutorial 3

Take it out and gently squeeze the water out, then VERY CAREFULLY uncrumple the paper and flatten it on the table. If it starts to pull apart and rip too much it's too wet; you might be better off starting over.
marble paper 
tutorial 4

This paper is way too wet; see how it tore while I was uncrumpling it? And you can't see any dry spots.
marble paper 
tutorial 5a

You want your paper to look more like this, with lots of dry spots. At this point, you can blot the paper with a towel if you would like.
marble paper 
tutorial 5b

Start painting, using as little water on your brush as possible. The more pigment, the more saturated your page color will be.
marble paper 
tutorial 6

After painting, the pigment will be lighter than it appears when wet. It will still be darker along the crease lines, making the marble texture. Allow to dry.
marble paper 
tutorial 7

If you are impatient like me you can place the painted paper paint side down on a clean sheet of paper and carefully iron it. I finish all my papers like this. The paper will be a touch brittle and will want to curl. Be firm but don't let the iron stay in one place too long or you risk burning your paper.
(You will notice this is a different pattern than earlier. The first piece was way too wet and disintegrated when I tried to pick it up.)
marble paper 
tutorial 8

Finished paper. The more paint you use, the more saturated your page will be. Also feel free to use multiple colors for a more tie-dyed look.
marble paper 
tutorial 9marble paper 
tutorial 10

A bonus of ironing is that the paper you use to protect your ironing board will have cool patterns too!
marble paper 
tutorial 11

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