Painting Day

What a bright, beautiful morning we have after the rainy night.  I’m glad.  I needed it today.

We left first thing this morning for our milk and egg pick up (we are so very fortunate to have access to wonderful milk, eggs, produce, poultry, and meat, all grown and raised within twenty to thirty minutes of our house!), and then came home and began our school day.  We have a nice solid rhythm to our mornings….first our circle time, which consists of reciting verses, singing, and doing some Montessori-inspired fine motor work.  A lit candle and a mindfulness bell help us to focus. After circle time, we do our reading for the day.  Our reading usually consists of some nursery rhymes or a poem or two (soon I am going to have to write a post on the amazing role that nursery rhymes have played in our work for the past few years and in Little Guy’s language development), our classic fairy tale for the week, and maybe a number book (such as Tasha Tudor’s 1 is One.)  We’ve also been enjoying some gorgeous alphabet books, most notably Alphabet City (can’t recommend this one enough…Little Guy LOVES all the “found” letters!) and A Gardener’s Alphabet. 

And after reading, on Wednesdays, we paint.  In my efforts to recover from the difficult time we’ve been having (difficult for both Little Guy and myself, on different levels and in different ways), I have been working very hard on our weekly rhythm.  I find that having touchpoints every day…knowing that Monday is library day, cleaning-bedrooms day, and soup day, for instance, takes a lot of the challenge out of planning our weeks, and provides us all…myself included…with a sense of security and predictability.  And predictability at home is an amazing thing, when so many other things feel so uncertain.

So, Wednesday is painting day, and has been for a couple of months now.  We all love it.  We have been using the Waldorf system of wet-on-wet watercolor painting, focusing primarily on one color at a time. These two books are excellent resources for this method of painting with young children, and I’ve also been inspired by this lovely blog post.

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Today, we worked with yellow.  First, I soaked our watercolor paper and mixed the paint.  Notice studious Baby V. in her chair.  She did not want to wait till Little Guy was ready…

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She is always so intent and careful with her work.

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While they painted, I told them a short impromptu story about the sun and a sunflower.

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Little Guy kinda liked it.  :)

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Then I asked him how painting with yellow made him feel.  He thought for a moment, and you know what he said? Delighted.  Yes, delighted.  You know how delighted it made me feel to hear that, from him, at that moment?

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He thought some more, and added, calm and serious. Wow.

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Yep.  I think our painting day was a success.  Now it’s time for lunch, and then on to the second half of our school day….

Hope you all are well.

Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 5:08 pm  Comments (2)  

Rumpelstiltskin: The Power of Naming

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I’ve been spending a lot of time with the classic fairy tales recently.  Grimm…Anderson…Perrault…all my old loves are coming down off the bookcases to be dusted off and read with fresh eyes.  This has partly to do with our current focus in school; I am introducing many of these tales to Little Guy for the first time this year.  It has partly to do with some fairy-tale themed crafts I am working on to sell (wish me luck!)  But the sheer amount of time I am spending reading, rereading, researching, and daydreaming about these stories has mostly to do with this: in periods of pain and transition, I tend to migrate towards the familiar and fantastic.

And as I read, I find myself discovering more than ever before about the tales and about myself.  “The Frog Prince” is a sweet little moralistic story about a young girl learning to keep her promises, right? Think again.  Consider the implications of a story in which a male character insists upon sleeping in a young girl’s bed, as payment for a favor; in which, when the girl gives and then tries to rescind her permission, her father angrily overrules her;  in which, when she puts the frog in the corner of her bedroom and tries to keep her distance from him, the frog slithers up to her and threatens to tell her father if she does not allow him into her bed; and in which, finally, the princess uses violence as her last resort in trying to keep the frog out of her bed, hurling the frog to the opposite side of the room…upon which he promptly transforms into a prince so physically attractive as to be irresistible to her.

If this story were written today, it would be called patriarchal, rape-enabling bullshit.   But it is a classic….part of our culture’s narrative soul.

Hmmm.

 

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On the other hand, I have been spending some lovely, enriching time with a long-time favorite…Anderson’s “Snow Queen.”  I fell in love with this tale in high school; I think the combination of flowers, ice, snow, and a brilliant female hero’s journey (so unusual among the classic tales) enhanced by wise and interesting female helpers and a believable female villain was what kept me coming back to it again and again.

So I find myself, in my current state of flux and confusion, returning to it yet again…finding in its pages bits and pieces of my own journey…symbols of my fear and developing strength…and reflections of the wise and beloved women in my life.

 

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But I suppose I have been spending the most time pondering the implications of “Rumpelstiltskin.”  This is a story about making, on many levels; about transformation…straw into gold, peasant into royalty, fear into triumph, beauty into horror.  And the deepest of these transformations center on the protagonist’s ability to name and identify the force that not only has made her who she is, but threatens to take away all that makes that new self worth inhabiting.  It is not a simple story; not easy.  It is a story about the cost of becoming.  About counting that cost.  About searching and sifting and putting a name to the nameless.

And, finally, about the triumph of persistence, courage, self-actualization, and love, all lumped into one.  The transformation remains; the crutch upon which it leans disappears.  And all is well.

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Perhaps I relate so strongly to “Rumpelstiltskin” because in many ways, I am in the Queen’s place at the moment.  I am searching to put names to my fears; to the forces, good and bad and in-between, that have made me the person I am today; and to the parts of myself I need to shed, and those I need to keep, in order to continue my transformation into the person I hope to be someday.  I am seeking the courage to travel to the furthest places, dig in the deepest caves, and extricate all the things that have hitherto hidden dark and unnamable in their holes, coming out in their own timing and ignoring mine.  I am gathering the strength to look them in the eye, and say, “This is who I am.  And this is who you are.”

As simply as that.

Published in: on October 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Changes afoot

Deep breath.

Okay.  It has been far too long since I have written in this space.  I have sat down on a few different occasions and made the effort to organize my current experiences, thoughts, and emotions into some form that makes sense; but I have failed every time.

And then tonight I sat down, wrote a long post…actually finished it!…and went to publish it, only to find out that it had somehow magically disappeared in between clicks of the mouse.

I don’t think I have the energy to completely rewrite it; but I wanted to say this at least.  I am here.  My little family and I are going through momentous–and largely difficult–changes on many different fronts right now, and not all of us are dealing well with them.  I certainly am not coping as well as I wish I were.  Pain, loss, uncertainty, endings, beginnings, the abortion of nearly all of my self-definitions…none of these are things that are comfy for me.  I don’t like them.  I am teetering on the edge of depression, and find it really, really hard to get out of bed some mornings.  Like yesterday.

But then, something happens.  A friend messages me.  A wise counselor checks in.  A sister calls late at night just to see if I am okay.  I read a blog post that keeps me going for another five minutes.  And I realize…as this essay reminded me this morning…I am still here.  I just have to keep showing up, and eventually (as hard as it is to believe at the moment), everything really will be okay.

None of our days right now are perfect.  But today, we had a pretty good school day.  We picked up our milk, and skimmed the cream and made butter.  We sang.  We painted.  We read.  We counted. We ate hard boiled eggs and gluten free waffles and fruit and cheese and pasta with zucchini sauce.

So yes: I am showing up, hard as it is sometimes.  And I plan to keep showing up in this space, because I need it.  I need the interaction, the satisfaction, the accountability.  The practice. 

And yes, I am still reading (forgive the cloudy lens…didn’t realize that someone with small grubby hands had been the last to use the camera!)…

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and making…

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and loving every minute of my children’s growth.

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And sometime last week, I found honeysuckle and goldenrod growing together along the border of the back field.  It was comforting to me; spring mixed with fall, unexpected pleasures.  A surprising beauty.

‘Cause every little thing is gonna be all right…”

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Published in: on October 10, 2013 at 2:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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The King, the Prince, and the Lion

This is a story I just wrote for Little Guy, who is having a very hard time right now.

The King, the Prince, and the Lion

Once upon a time, in a castle far away, there lived a prince with his father the king.  The prince was a happy prince.  He played all day in the forest around the castle; and in the evenings, he walked with the king to the edge of the ocean.  The prince loved the feel of the wind in his ears, and the warm water lapping around his feet.  He loved to play in the sand; when he let it run through his fingers, he felt calm and peaceful.  Sometimes, the prince and the king made sand castles together.  Sometimes they drew pictures in the sand with sticks.  And sometimes, they just walked into the waves and listened to the roar of the ocean.  The prince never felt afraid, no matter how loud the waves, because his father was right there beside him holding his hand.

One day as the prince was eating his breakfast, the king sat down beside him.  “Prince,” said the king, “I need to tell you something important.  Far, far away, in the land of Antagon, there live two dragons who are fighting each other.  I need to go and help them settle their differences, so they can live in peace.  But this means I will have to take a long journey; I will be gone many, many days, and many, many  nights. ”

The little prince looked at his father in surprise.  “But why can’t I go with you?” he asked.  “I could go with you and help with the dragons!”

The king looked a little sad, and reached for the prince’s hand.  “I wish you could go with me, son,” he said.  “But the angry dragons are too dangerous right now.  And I wish I could stay home with you; but I need to go and help.  It is the right thing to do.”

And then the king looked deep into the prince’s eyes.  “But I promise  you, Prince…I promise you I will come back to you.  I have always come back before, and I will come back this time too.  I love you and will keep loving you the whole time I am gone.  And by the time I get back, you may even be a little taller!”

The next morning, the king rode away on his white horse.  The prince walked with him to the edge of the forest, then waved goodbye.  As the king disappeared into the trees, he turned and waved one last time at the prince, calling, “Don’t forget, little Prince….I love you and I will come back to you!”

The prince turned and walked back to the castle.  He sat down to eat his breakfast, but he wasn’t hungry.   He went for a walk in the forest, but he didn’t feel like playing.  He tried walking down to the shore, but it wasn’t any fun building a sand castle all alone.  Then he tried running sand through his fingers, but even that didn’t make him feel better.

He walked back up to the castle and curled up on his bed.  He felt sad.  His missed his father the King.  He missed the sound of his voice.  He missed playing with him.   He missed reading books with him and laughing at his jokes.

Several days went by, and the Prince was still sad.  He ate his food, slept at night, and helped take care of the castle horses, but nothing  helped him feel better.  He felt lonely, and disappointed…why couldn’t he have gone with his father?  He could have helped with the dragons, and kept his father company.  He would have liked to see the land of Antagon too.   He would have liked to ride his little brown pony beside his father’s big white horse.

The Prince decided to go for another walk in the woods.  As he walked into the trees, dragging his feet in the leaves, he heard a strange sound.  It sounded a little like a groan, and a little like a roar…what could it be?  As he listened, he heard it again, nearer this time, and louder.  The Prince followed the sound through the trees until he came to a little clearing.  And there in the middle of the clearing, was a young lion.  The lion was roaring angrily.

At first the Prince was afraid, but as he came closer, he saw that one of the lion’s paws was dragging on the ground.  The lion looked at the Prince and roared again, holding up his paw.  And there in the paw was a long, sharp thorn.

“Oh,” said the Prince to himself.  ”The lion is only angry because he is hurting so badly.”

The lion let out another loud, terrible roar, and bared its teeth furiously.

“The poor lion,” said the Prince.  “His paw must hurt terribly to make him roar so loudly.”

And then the Prince had a wonderful thought.  He could be just like the King! The King had gone to help the angry dragons, and now the Prince could help the angry lion.  The Prince began walking toward the lion.  The lion roared again; the roar was loud and frightening, but the Prince was not afraid.  He kept on walking.  The lion growled and bared his teeth; but still the Prince was not afraid.  He walked right up to the lion and put his hand on the lion’s head.

“Don’t worry, lion,” he said.  “I am the Prince of the castle.  I will help you.”

The prince leaned down carefully and touched the lion’s paw.  The lion growled a little, but did not bite.  The prince took hold of the thorn and pulled gently, then harder, and harder, until the thorn came out.  The lion let out one final roar, and was quiet.

The prince held the thorn up for the lion to see.  “Look, lion.  Here is the thorn that was in your paw.  I pulled it out so it won’t hurt you anymore.”

The lion looked at the prince.  He was not growling.  He was not showing his teeth.  He was not angry at all.  “Thank you, Prince,” said the lion, in a deep voice.  “Thank you for helping me.  You are a brave and kind Prince.”

The prince smiled at the lion.  He was pleased he had been able to help; he was happy the lion was no longer angry.  The air was still and calm.

The prince felt peaceful.

As he turned to go  home to the castle, the prince heard a soft sound behind him.  He looked back, and there was the lion, following him.  “I am coming with you, Prince,” said the lion, in his deep, calm voice.  “You helped me, and now I will help you.  I will keep you company until your father the King comes home.”

The prince and the lion walked together back to the castle.  And from then on, everywhere the prince went, the lion went too.  They went for walks together in the woods; they ran through the waves on the shore; and, sometimes, they just lay together in the sand, staring out at the water.  And the Prince ran his fingers through the sand, and felt very happy.

Many days went by, and the prince grew taller and stronger.  The young lion grew bigger too, and when he roared, he roar was so loud that it shook the earth and echoed off the castle walls.  But the prince was never afraid of him, because he knew the lion was his friend.

One morning at the beginning of spring, the lion was running down the shore with the prince riding on his back.  In the distance, at the edge of the forest, the prince saw a small shape appear.  The shape grew bigger and bigger, until he could see what it was:  it was his father, the King, on his beautiful white horse! The King was riding as fast as he could toward the shore.

The prince shouted with happiness.  “It’s my father the kng! It’s my father the king!  Faster, lion, faster!! I want to see the King!”

The lion ran faster and faster until he was almost flying through the air.  Finally, they reached the King and his horse.  The prince jumped down from the lion’s back and ran to hug his father.  The king held the prince in his arms, then stood back to look at him.

“Why, Prince!” he said.  “You are much taller than when I left!”

The Prince smiled at his father.  “Yes, I am,” he said.

“And who is this?” asked the King, pointing to the lion.

The prince put his hand on the lion’s mane.  “This is my friend, the lion.  I found him in the forest and pulled a thorn out of his paw.  And we have been taking care of each ever since.”

The King bowed to the lion.  “Thank you for taking care of my son,” he said.  Then he climbed back onto his horse, pulling the Prince up with him.  And the King, the Prince, the horse, and the lion walked joyfully back to the castle, where they celebrated with much feasting and many songs.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Published in: on May 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Crustless Spinach Quiche (grain-free, GAPS-friendly)

This has become one of our family’s favorite recipes on GAPS.  I love it because it’s easily and quickly prepared, and produces not one but TWO quiches with virtually no extra effort.  We have always enjoyed quiche; it was one of our go-to dinner pre-GAPS.  After doing without for a while, we just couldn’t stand it any more, and realized after trying this recipe that we didn’t miss the crust at all.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Crustless Spinach Quiche

12 eggs, preferably free-range and local

8 slices uncured bacon, free of hormones, nitrates, nitrites, and sugar (if unavailable, omit or substitute meat of your choice)

1 10-0z package frozen spinach, thawed and drained

8 oz. shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese

1/3 c. home-cultured (or Greek) yogurt

dash cayenne

dash nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat  oven to 380 degrees.  Cook and crumble bacon. Set aside.

2. Whisk eggs until well-beaten.  Whisk in yogurt, spinach, bacon, and seasonings. 

3.  Mix in shredded cheese.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

4.  Grease two nine-inch pie plates with a healthy fat.  Divide quiche mixture evenly between pans.

5.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

(Note: we like a dense quiche.  If you prefer  a lighter, fluffier quiche, add four eggs and 1/3 c. of water, and whisk eggs until frothy.)

Published in: on March 22, 2013 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Honesty.

So Little Guy has not had a full-on meltdown in months.  We’ve had a couple of minis, and a couple of close calls, but not the full, kicking, screaming, thrashing, sometimes hours-long messes we used to have before going gluten-free and then GAPS, and focusing very hard on his sensory diet.

Until this morning.

It wasn’t quite as bad as they used to be.  It only lasted about twenty minutes.  But someone said something that frustrated his sense of order, and he lost control.  Completely.  And throughout that twenty minutes, he hit me.  Several times.  In the face.

And I guess I was hit one more time than I could handle today, because I said something I immediately regretted.   Don’t worry….I didn’t curse or swear at him, call him a name or say anything ugly.  Nothing like that.  But I went beyond my personal boundary for expressed frustration.

And I was instantly angry with myself.  Very angry.

And then I was angry that I was angry at myself.  I mean, after all, everyone around me seems entitled to moments of frustration and weakness occasionally; but somehow when I have a weak moment, it’s a huge deal to everybody…myself included.

The morning didn’t get much better from there.  As I stood making my second pot of coffee, trying to conceal my tears and not caring in the least how dehydrated I already was and that I really should have been drinking water, not coffee, I thought, I wish this day had ended before it began. 

But, just as quickly, I realized I didn’t.

Because, if I had missed this day, I would have missed the amazing moment when he came back to me, smiled, and made a little joke.

I would have missed the bright green fields behind my house.  And making a birdfeeder.  And planting seeds.  And cooking dinner.  And loving.  And being loved.

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And the writing on the wall.

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I would have missed Baby V waking up from her nap and grinning up at me with outstretched arms…still holding her teddy bear, of course.  I would have missed drawing numbers in salt.  I would have missed giggles over spilled water.  I would have missed the sound of Little Guy singing…yes, singing!….to himself in the shower.

And that would have been sad.

Because, really….I don’t want to miss a thing. 

Not one.

Published in: on March 14, 2013 at 11:13 pm  Comments (4)  

March 9th: Week in Review

So here we are, trying to get back into the flow of blogging our weeks.  This one was pretty good.

We are on Oak Meadow’s Week 21, but decided to take two weeks for this one because Little Guy is really taking off on the reading front, and I wanted to focus on that.  I also wanted to spend some extra time on the seasons, since we are about to move into spring.

So, this week, we made a seasons tree with fingerprints….

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…read books about spring, and things that start with the letter “P”….

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did lots of fine motor work, utilizing some of our new therapy tools….like this bead sequencing set…

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and this under-the-sea puzzle memory game…

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and our new farm sticks to use for tong transfer/pincer grasp (very cool, since we do not like metal tongs.)

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We also painted…001

spent time outside…

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did a lot of drawing and writing…

 

 

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and a whole lot of smiling.

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I even managed a couple of (easy!) projects.  Here is one of our new Waldorf-inspired ribbon wands:

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and these are the peg dolls I’m making for our upcoming weather study.  (And no, I’m not cool and crafty.  I have zero craft imagination.  Anything I make is pretty much copied exactly from Waldorf books or Pinterest finds. Speaking of which, Pinterest is an amazing source for school ideas.  My boards are here .)

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Anyway….we did lots more…including a LOT of reading….for both me and Little Guy!  He is actually starting to read, and read me nearly an entire new-to-us “Biscuit” book yesterday.  So exciting!!

So that was our week.  Pretty good, all in all.  How was yours?

 

Published in: on March 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm  Comments (2)  

Updates + a fresh start

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since Christmas.

There are reasons (which I will go into in a moment), but first, here is what I am going to do.  I want to get back on track with my weeks-in-review, partly because I love sharing what we are doing; partly because I like having the visual record of our work; and partly because the encouragement I receive from all of you is a huge help to me. Part of the reason I haven’t blogged in so long is that, with each week full of schooling and activities that went by, I became more and more bogged down by the idea of having to catch up on all those posts.

So I’m not going to try to catch up.  We have been steadily working, the same as always, for the past two months; and that is a lot of weeks.  So I am just going to share a few pictures of a few of the things we have been doing.  And then I am going to move on.

In January and February, we….

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played and learned new skills….

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drew lots of pictures and learned to write many new letters…

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spent time with our dogs…both of whom are getting a bit old and tired….

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learned (with great joy and delight!!) to pedal a tricycle….

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visited family in Georgia and spent time with our great-grandmother…

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had fun with friends…

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read lots of books….

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did lots of fine motor work….

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played naked…

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celebrated a sixth birthday…

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did more fine motor work…

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baked a lot….

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and made a sensory bin.

(We also all had the flu, weathered another sickness or two, endured one of the roughest sensory months we’ve had in a while, and found out that Hubby is going to Korea for a year, beginning in May.  Which means we will be on our own here for a year.  Those are some of the reasons I have not been blogging.) 

And now….this post done….I have relieved myself of my non-posting guilt, and can happily resume my weekly posts.

Love to you all.  :)

Published in: on March 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm  Comments (4)  

Christmas

Well, here we are three days after Christmas.  It’s been an interesting Christmas season for us.  It started out beautifully (as you can read here ), but ended a little more drearily with sadness at the death of a family member, and sickness that passed through the whole family.

Plus, we were missing all the family and friends we didn’t get to see this year.

So we had to work a little harder than usual to salvage Christmas.  But after all was said and done, Hubby and I agreed that in some ways, it was our best Christmas ever.  We had quiet, unity, peace, and love.  Our focus was redirected to the things that really mattered.

We shared gifts together and lit all of our Advent candles over a lovely, slow brunch.  We watched The Polar Express and made art.  We drank wine as I prepared my first goose.  We watched Baby V take in the wonder of  her first Christmas.  We watched Little Guy dance in excitement over his gifts, and promptly go into sensory overload.  We ate carrot cake and veggie chips with dip.  After the kids went to bed, Hubby and I curled up on the couch with a movie and another glass of wine.  And the next morning, we woke up to snow.

So you know?  It was actually pretty okay after all.

Merry Christmas a few days late from me…

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and Little Guy…

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and Baby V…

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and Hubby.

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Little Guy’s favorite gift was his new sixteen-color set of beeswax block crayons.

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He also has been loving all of his new Arnold Lobel books.

Baby V’s big present  was a ride-on toy, but she’s not too sure about it yet.  Her current favorite gift is a set of instruments from her grandparents.

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How was your Christmas?

Published in: on December 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Our Christmas season so far + links

We are having a wonderful Christmas season so far….possibly our best ever.  I don’t really know why.

I mean, I can think of some things…Little Guy is more aware of Christmas this year than ever before.  It is our first Christmas with Baby V.  We are more plugged into our current community than we have been at our last few postings.

But there is also that certain something…an indefinable blend of hope, peace, gratitude, and longing that gives me a heightened awareness of the importance of every single moment I spend with my husband and children this holiday season.  It reminds me to value everything I have…and also to recognize its potential for transience.

And it reminds me of the one thing I desire most this year.

Peace.

I know it sounds trite.  I know that’s what everybody says at Christmas.  But this year, I find myself aching for peace.  I want peace for my siblings and parents.  I want peace for my son.  I want peace for my husband.  I want peace for myself.  I want peace for the recently bereaved.  I want peace in the Middle East, and for those I know and care about who are there.  I want peace in my church.  I want peace for hurting friends.

It is not all possible, I know.  But doesn’t the desire count for something?

I think it does.  Peace begins in the conscious need for peace.

Anyway.

We have had a lovely Christmas season so far.  We visited the light show on the river with some good friends here from playgroup.  We went to our community Polar Express celebration with another good friend.  We visited two live Nativities this past weekend.  We have been making Christmas ornaments, some at home, and some at our holiday library storytimes.  We have been watching Christmas movies…old favorites and new favorites.  We have been reading Christmas books…some we have loved for years, and some we have just discovered.  We have been eating GAPS-friendly treats….oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies, walnut crunch.

We have played with our Nativity set, sat in the dark with the Christmas tree lights, and listened to Christmas music.

Baby V has discovered snowglobes and shiny ornaments.

It has been a good few weeks.

I hope your December has been as lovely as ours.

And before I sign off for today, I’d like to leave you with a few links I’ve been enjoying recently.  Merry Christmas!

  • This is a lovely conglomeration of one family’s Advent ideas, by one of my favorite blogger friends.
  • A St. Lucia post from Bending Birches.
  • A collection of real food Christmas treats from Modern Alternative Kitchen. 
  • Something I think I may make for Christmas breakfast.
  • A photo site I check every day just to make me happy.
  • A very helpful sensory processing blog I just discovered this week.
  • Some chocolates I want to make when I have time.
  • An article that explains my apparently contradictory belief about something.
  • And a book art portfolio that I look up when I need a reminder that black and white isn’t always black and white.
Published in: on December 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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