Thursday, September 30, 2010

Making Applesauce

The girls and I visit an apple orchard each fall. It's the same one we've been going to for many years now. They like the animals that are there, and I like the variety of apples.

After we sampled the apples and purchased the kinds we liked, we headed home to make applesauce. I did the first bag of apples, and then Sophia asked if she could peel the apples in the second bag. Since she enjoyed doing this, I let her do an entire bag of apples (half the batch of applesauce).

Olivia even took a break from her math lesson to peel an apple and grind the applesauce in the Vita-Mix mixer. But, math won out. After doing these two tasks, she went back to addition and subtraction.

Apple Peels 
The bowl of apple peels.

Made quite a few quarts of applesauce which should last for awhile during the winter and spring. I may do some more applesauce if the price of apples goes down a bit during the next few weeks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

How Trees Get Water to Their Leaves

This is a science experiment that Olivia did. She put a stem of celery into a cup filled with blue water.

Blue Celery in Glass Celery absorbing blue-tinted water.

After several hours, the leaves on the celery will turn blue to show where the stem brought water to the leaves. This experiment is suppose to represent how a tree pulls water through its trunk, limbs, and branches in order for water to reach each of its leaves.

Blue Celery Leaves
The blue-dyed water reached the very edges of the celery leaves.

This was a great visual image that brings to life what we were reading as part of her homeschool science lesson. Reading about plants and trees is one thing...seeing how they "operate" is a totally different thing!

(This was one of the experiments in the Sonlight curriculum that I'm using this year.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

{this moment}

Soybean Pit

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (inspired by soulemama). A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Special Kids Day

Olivia on Hay Ride
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
An organic farm about 15 minutes from here does an event each year for children with special needs. Both Olivia and Sophia have special needs, and were excited about going to this event.

They got to:
- ride horses;
- see/pet farm animals (barn cats, chickens, ducks, goats, foals, and pigs);
- play in a soybean pit (an area filled with soybeans that they could sit in, fill buckets of soybeans with, bury one another in, or slide into);
- tour the calf barn and see a one-week old calf; go on a hayride;
- have lunch;
- play on a huge swing set;
- listen to live music;
- bounce in a “bouncy house”; and
- go on a train ride (there’s an historic train that’s nearby that offers 45-minute rides).

We had such a wonderful time – with such a variety of activities. I think we laughed more that afternoon than we had in a long time.

It was so nice not to have to worry about anything and have everything taken care of – especially having a meal cooked that I didn’t have to cook!

It’s the little things that make a difference…and this was definitely something that we will all look back on with good memories.

Friday, September 17, 2010

{this moment}

Having Fun in the Wheelbarrow

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (inspired by soulemama). A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

*** *** ***

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eco-Friendly Gifts

Handmade Bag and Bear
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
This year, I want to make more eco-friendly gifts that use what I have on hand rather than using supplies I need to purchase. Although the financial benefits of doing this are a plus, the more important thing is that by using/re-using items rather than discarding them, I can make a positive difference on the environment. It's a win-win situation.

The little bear and bag are both made from recycled clothing. The bear is made from a wool sweater that I felted by the washing machine and dryer; and the outer part of the bag is made from a child's dress. The inner fabric of the bag is from my fabric stash.

I have hand-embroidered wool felt toys and household items in my shop, Harvest Moon by Hand. Please take a look at some of the items that are available there...especially for the upcoming holiday season.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quartered Postcards

4 Quartered Postcards
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
These four postcards were made for the quartered postcard swap on Swap-Bot. The challenge was to take 4 postcards, cut them into 4 identical pieces, and then glue the pieces onto another piece of stiff paper to make a postcard.

It was a quick project to do, but definitely is something that helps me try to meet my goal in 2010 of creating something each day. Sometimes what I make can be completed in one day (like these postcards) and other times the project is much more labor-intensive (like a sashiko quilt I made this spring/summer).

These postcards were sent to people throughout the world. In exchange, I receive 4 postcards from other people who live in different parts of the world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

{this moment}

Chipmunk on Stairs

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (inspired by soulemama). A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

*** *** ***

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Exploring Grand Marais

We stayed close to the rental home on Thursday so everyone could rest and enjoy Lake Superior. In the afternoon, I took the girls to Artist's Point (in Grand Marais).

Despite the cold temperature of the lake, they took their shoes and socks off; and played in the water. They collected rocks and found feathers - all interesting items to add to the nature table back home.

The picture to the right is at a beach that is facing east (towards Canada). After playing here for a bit, the girls put their shoes on and we headed back to Artist's Point.

We were all surprised when we came upon hundreds of rock sculptures on our way to the lighthouse. There were sculptures of all sizes and complexities. One of my favorite ones is this one:

Balancing Rock  I'm not sure how these rocks are balancing on one another. 

Back at the Illahee (the rental home), the girls played in Lake Superior some more.

Walking on Water
Olivia and Sophia in Lake Superior

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Highlights from the Gunflint Trail

One of the highlights for the girls was being able to feed and see a chipmunk up close. The girls wanted to stop at Bearskin Lodge where we stayed a few years ago during the winter. They wanted to see what it looked like during the early-autumn.

After going into the lodge, my dad and I headed down the stairs. A chipmunk came out from behind the steps. We stopped and it seemed absolutely unafraid of us. In fact, it even came close to my dad's shoe.

The girls grabbed some Pik-Nik sticks (fried potato sticks) and slowly walked closer to the chipmunk. They made a trail of potatoes, and, sure enough, the chipmunk gathered them in his mouth. With bulging cheeks, he came within a foot of the girls.

Needless to say, this was one of the highlights of the day.

We continued onto the Chik-Wauk Museum at the end of the Gunflint Trail.

Museum at End of Gunflint Trail
Having a picnic outside the museum.

After having a picnic in front of the museum and next to one of the bays of Lake Saganaga, we toured the museum where my dad was able to recall places he had canoed and fished decades ago.  He pointed to different portages that he crossed, and shared other memories of the trips he took in the 1960s and 1970s.

Overlooking Lake Saganaga
Olivia, Sophia, and my Dad on an overlook by a bay on Lake Saganaga

The girls, my Dad, and I went on one of the hiking trails around a bay.  On the walk, we saw a ruffed grouse - a bird none of us had seen before.  This is homeschooling at its best - when the girls can see something rather than look at a picture of it in a book.  Between nature/science, history, and physical education - three subjects had been covered so far.  Communication and math (money) skills were practiced when the girls each bought a little momento from the gift shop to remember their time at Lake Saganaga.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sophia by Lake Superior

Sophia, Olivia, my mom, dad, and I went to Grand Marais for a few days. It was much-needed respite time for my mom who (in addition to her own medical issues) is taking care of my dad who has Alzheimer's Disease.

For my dad, it was an opportunity to see a part of the state he visited frequently 30-40 years ago. He use to take camping and fishing trips to Lake Saganaga on the Gunflint Trail.

For Sophia, Olivia, and me, it was a chance to spend time in an area that we enjoy visiting, see some new places along the Gunflint Trail, and create memories with my parents/their grandparents.

After the first stop at Tobies in Hinckley (a place where my mom and dad use to take my sister, brother, and I when we went up north when we were younger), we stopped in Duluth. This is Sophia on the beach looking out at Lake Superior. It is a refreshingly chilly day.

A little further north, in Two Harbors, Olivia and Sophia spotted four deer crossing the road. Traffic stopped in both directions. We drove slowly to where they were eating and watched them for awhile.

4 Deer in Two Harbors

Friday, September 3, 2010

{this moment}

My Nephew Austin

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (inspired by soulemama). A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

*** *** ***

Learning Geography through Postcrossing

Both Sophia and Olivia are learning about U.S. and world geography this year. World geography is a continuation of the monthly lessons I'm creating for them that focus on one country per month in alphabetical order (e.g., Africa, Brazil, China, Denmark, Egypt, France).

I found out about as a way to connect with others throughout the world. Basically, you send the website gives you an address of a person who lives somewhere in the world.

Minnesota Wildflowers Postcard

You mail a postcard out...and in return (once it is received), the computer matches you with someone else who lives somewhere in the world.

You can choose to receive only international postcards or domestic or international postcards. I chose the former option since I'm sending/receiving domestic postcards through Swap-Bot.

Almost daily, we receive postcards in the mail. When we receive them, the girls read them and then find where they were sent from on the map. In some cases, it's easy if they are familiar with the state or country. In other cases, it is much more challenging.

When they can't find the state or country, I give them clues. For example, they couldn't find Maryland right away. I asked them where they were looking, "At Ohio."

" east from there," I said.

They looked, and still couldn't find it. So I asked them what they were looking at again. "New York."

"You're getting closer. It is in the general region," I said.

"This state begins with an 'M'," Olivia excitedly said.

Sophia looked up, "That's Maine,"

"What if you traveled south?" I asked.

Geography Using Postcards

A few minutes later..."MARYLAND! I FOUND IT!!!!" Sophia yelled.

"Where?" asked Olivia.

"It's right here. Do you see it?"

They both agreed that it was a difficult state to find. I'm sure, though, that now that they both found it they will definitely remember where it is located.

As more postcards arrive from other countries, I'm hoping that they'll be able to collect quite a few so they can have a nice representation of images and writing from around the world. It makes learning about geography more "real" and engaging for them than just reading about it in a textbook.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Homemade Pickles

Taught the girls how to make homemade pickles today. These are refrigerator pickles, but I thought we'd use some of the canning jars we had on hand.

Visited the farmer's market in Minneapolis earlier in the week and found everything we needed: pickling cucumbers, onions, garlic, and fresh dill. At home, we had vinegar and canning salt.

Cucumbers for Pickling

After cutting the cucumbers into quarters, the girls cut dill into small sections.

Sophia Cutting Dill

I sliced the onions and peeled the garlic. Into each jar they placed the cucumber slices, onions, dill, and garlic.

Olivia Putting Cucumbers in Jar

Each had a batch of vinegar and canning salt boiling on the stove.

When the vinegar solution boiled, they poured it into the jars. I put the lids and bands on; and the pickles were ready 24 hours later.