Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This is gonna cost ya ...


Today, this little girl has displayed more pain and discomfort than I can remember her ever having. She has been clutching her stomach, saying things like "I can't take it!", and saying it hurt too much to sit up or stand.

So I had to take her to the doctor. But, we have just had a job change, and it turns out we didn't actually overlap our insurance coverages - our new insurance starts tomorrow. I didn't realize this, until I'm standing there with a moaning child in my arms, being told to go down and talk to the business office before I can be seen.

So, do you turn around and take the moaning, sick child back to your car and head home? Or do you go ahead and just agree to pay cash? And if you agree to pay cash, how does that affect each choice you make - get the x-ray or not? Run one more test or not?

We had to buy individual health insurance when my husband changed jobs and got this contracting gig. The cheapest full coverage we could find is still costing us $850 a month. I've just had to make that payment, and it hurt. We have to give up some of our frills to be able to afford this, and then I'm standing there wondering how I'll pay for my daughter to be seen today.

This is gonna hurt. This is gonna cost ya. I did it anyway, because I felt like I had to. The good news is that all the tests came back negative, and she didn't have appendicitis (my main fear) or an impacted bowel, or any weird blood work revealing something else wrong. She's still in pain, and they don't know why, but ruling those things out was important.

But imagine for the families that really can't find the money for those monthly premiums, or pay out of pocket for abdominal x-rays. Imagine having to carry that moaning child back out to the car. I really hope the health care reforms actually Do Something as they start to take effect. Because I don't like the way imagining those things makes me feel.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Toys I Love - Paper!


Give a kid a bunch of paper, something to draw with, and some tape, and most will be delighted and busy for hours. You could just give kids your recycling bin from work, but if you want something with a little more gift panache, here are two ideas:

Paper Doll Pads by Roylco. Every time I put these out in my SpiritPlay classroom at church, there is an explosion of creativity as kids glue and draw features and clothing onto them. The outline shape is just enough prompt, and they love it!

Picture Frame Pads by Melissa and Doug. A frame just makes artwork stand out, doesn't it? This pad of paper gives kids the frame to start with, and they can fill in the masterwork in the middle! Lots of fun.

Thank You, Thank You

On our long drive through traffic for Thanksgiving Day, I had the pleasure of listening to "Definitely Not the Opera" on NPR, and specifically an old episode from 2008 all about those two little words "Thank You".

This sparked a small discussion between my husband and I about how we like to be thanked - he would find someone reading him a "gratitude letter" out loud a horrible experience, while I thought it was sweet. There was also one fellow on the program who tried to write Thank You notes to Everyone, Every Day, who did Anything nice for him. My thought - how do you have time to be out and about where people can be nice to you!

When I first started my job at the church, the minister was engaged in an effort to write three Thank You cards a week and send them to folks in the church. He challenged me to try it also as a practice, and I have been. Sometimes it's not exactly three, but on Mondays I reflect over the week previous and write little notes to folks just telling them Thank You for what they did that week.

I love this as a practice. It makes me reflect and focus on what other people did, and honestly sometimes it's too easy to only see what you contribute, while in reality there are so many folks doing things both big and small that deserve notice. I also find that I'm happier in my job, and have an easier time asking for help and approaching people as possible volunteers.

Even if you don't have a job like mine that involves volunteer management, there are benefits to a gratitude practice of some kind. How can you say 'Thank You' more often (and mean it)?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Don't Let the Light Go Out

I've been trying to go in for the beginning of each church service, and be sitting in the front row when it's time for me to step up and tell the story for all ages. This is so much calmer and more worshipful than to be out running around seeing to last minute details and greeting latecomers until the very last minute ...

And today we got to sing this in church, a song that I love ...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful for ...




This. Family. Plenty of food, all made with loving care for everyone's food sensitivities (this year I gained a new sister-in-law who cannot eat dairy, to add to our gluten-free needs and my Dad's chicken egg problem). Plenty of helpers when we couldn't get our car back up the hill in front of my Dad's house with the slushy ice on the road. The specialness of eating on the good china, and getting to drink from stemware. Hypatia was so happy having stemware, right up until she knocked it over onto her Aunt Domini and broke the glass. Thankful for everyone trying to comfort her after. Thankful for my silly brothers who both grew mustaches this month. Thankful for the delicious turkey that my family raised and killed and my father brined and smoked to perfection. Thankful for all the games of chess Carbon got to play, and the game Hypatia was playing where she pretended to be a call center and had people use catalogs to call her and order stuff. She charged someone $900 for a sweater! Thankful for my dog that behaved herself in the back of my car and didn't scratch it all up or chew on the seats (I was a bit worried about that).

I have a blessed life, and although I sometimes forget that, I am still intensely grateful for it all. I think the original meaning of these harvest festivals/Thanksgivings is that we are glad to have lived through another year, glad for the bounty we've gathered from the earth, glad to still have our loved ones around us. And I am, so glad, so thankful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Toys We Love


Can I claim to love a toy that we don't own? Both kids, but Carbon especially, are very interested in Pokemon. But, although he has purchased quite a few Bakugans, he doesn't have any Pokemon cards yet. Still, he just makes his own cards. He's created a whole game inspired by Yugioh as well. Although I don't personally feel much interest in these collector card games with the need to calculate points and all the rest, I do see the attraction for the kids and it seems like good clean fun.

Both kids have added Pokemon cards to their lists they wrote for Santa, so I guess we will soon own a few of these addictive cards. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Pause

Snow has come early to our neck-of-the-woods, and it doesn't take much to slow things down. This morning my alarm clock went off, my husband sat up and looked out the window, and then said "might as well turn off the alarm clock, honey".

Delicious. Sleeping in, letting the kids wake up on their own and then climb into bed with us for a snooze. Making hot chocolate and oatmeal for breakfast and then heading out for a romp in the snow. It was a short lived romp, as Hypatia took a very bad fall on the ice, but still a romp. Now we have blankets and movies and more hot chocolate. Board games for later. A sweet pause to our lives, a chance for just being cozy with the kids, and a good excuse for some extra rest, reflection, and renewal. I like it (provided this is short lived - it needs to melt tomorrow so I can still get some stuff done before Thanksgiving and make the drive to my Dad's house on Thursday!).





Friday, November 19, 2010

Changes in the Kitchen

Some of you may be familiar with the One Small Change blog community, which endeavors to make one change each month to make your lifestyle lower impact on the environment. Can one small change really make a difference?

It occurred to me today that all the small changes really add up, as our cooking and eating habits have really changed around here. Many small changes add up.

1. We are eating vegetarian more often than not, and that has led to lots of beans. We're all champs at digesting beans.

2. I was dismayed to learn about BPA's in the lining of canned goods, but really - cans and canning just adds more environmental impact anyway. So I switched over to cooking dry beans from scratch. We have a beanpot in the slow cooker about once a week, and then we have some left-over beans for other uses in the days after.

3. When we do eat meat, we are eating different sorts of meat. We buy our beef and pork almost exclusively from a local ethical meat shop. It's more expensive, but we can go out and visit the farm and know how the animals are treated. We also try to buy all the parts of the animals - beef knuckles in the beanpots and so forth. Waste not.

4. I heard a story on NPR about how chicken wings used to be a cheap dish that used a part of the chicken that no one else wanted. And then when they got popular, suddenly they had to increase chicken production just for this one little part. It seemed so wrong, so I decided that from then on I would only buy and cook whole birds. This was hard at first, and drastically changed how often we eat poultry. But if I roast a turkey or a chicken, I then get left-over poultry for other dishes and broth made from the bones and bits.

5. No more deli meat. It's full of preservatives, and it's expensive. I make sandwiches for lunches with the left-over meat that I have cooked myself. If I've roasted a turkey, we'll have turkey sandwiches for a week. If I make a pot roast, roast sandwiches. If there is no meat, we will have peanut butter and jelly - and no one complains about that.

6. We got a cool set-up from a local bakery share program, where we pay up front and then pick up a "share" once a week. The woman who runs it uses local, mostly organic ingredients, and we also get ours gluten-free. There are plastic bags around everything, but if she needs a stiff container she uses plates from the Goodwill that we return to her to reuse.

7. Without the need to bake very much, and by kicking a lot of my sweet tooth problem, we are using a lot less refined sugar. So, we can afford to only buy fair trade and organic sugar, for the rare times we need some (like brown sugar sprinkled on our oatmeal).

8. We have so much bread and baked goodies from the bakery share that we usually eat bread with nut spread for breakfast, and avoid other more processed breakfast foods and cereals.

9. Between the backyard garden and the CSA share, we have tons of vegetables. We have to think of ways to eat them all, tucking them into dishes and eating lots of salads and vegetable casseroles. What we can't eat, I try to freeze for the winter. What I don't manage to get to in time, we feed to our chickens or compost.

10. I pack everyone a lunch, and we take our dinner left-overs or sandwiches, in reusable containers. If I end up using a ziplock, I wash it and dry it and reuse it. I also made some cloth snack bags that we can wash and reuse.

Small changes have really added up, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Toys I Love

As we enter the holiday shopping season, I thought I'd give you all some ideas of the toys that have been product-tested around here. I'll do a series of these "Toys I Love" posts. The first ...



The cardboard rocket can be played In, or drawn and painted On. From the same company, last year I purchased a cardboard house for church that the children in the nursery (and some of the teenagers too) had a great time adding graffiti to and playing in.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A bit of adventure

Last night the wind picked up as we were putting the kids to bed, and my husband made a passing comment about hoping the power wouldn't go out. Carbon took that idea and ran with it, getting very excited about being prepared for a power outage. While I lit some candles in the living room, "just in case", he ran around gathering up flashlights and checking their batteries.

When the power actually did go out, Hypatia's night light went out and she started screaming that she was in the dark. He was thrilled to go "rescue" her with his flashlight, and lead her back into the circle of light we had in the living room.

With our electric camp lantern giving us light, everyone got to listen to my husband read out of Bunnicula, and we were just settling down when my sister-in-law arrived. She had been shopping when the power went out in the big box-store she was in, so she came by our house before going on to her own dark house. The whole town lost power, it seems. My husband went out on the porch with the lantern to light her way in, and it made me think of some scene in a Little House book.

I ended up sleeping in the living room with the kids, all camped out around the lantern so they wouldn't be afraid of the dark. We could still see and hear the wind whipping through the trees and into our house, and there were even three Booms! and flashes as transformers blew up.

All of this would have just been an inconvenience if it had just been us adults. But with the unbridled enthusiasm of the kids, it took on the flavor of a fun adventure. It was a lot of fun, and now he is super-proud of how prepared he was. A sweet family adventure.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

All Together Now ...



Big chore days give us all a chance to work together, in a way that smaller normal chore days don't. The leaves in the fall is a great job for all ages to help out with, and this year I judged Carbon to be old enough and coordinated enough to climb the ladder and go up on the roof with me to sweep it off and clean out the gutters. As he's been flirting with a fear of heights, this was also a good chance for him to face some fears.

He ended up freaking me out, dancing on the peak of the house like the chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins. OK, not quite that bad, but he got really comfortable up there.

Besides getting the job at hand done, there are so many other benefits of this kind of family activity: demonstrating work ethic, teaching basic skills, open-ended family time that invites conversation, the sense of camaraderie that comes from a shared task, and time outdoors in the fresh air. I'm sure there are more that I'm not thinking of right now.

I would put family chore time right up there with family dinner as one of the most important glues that holds families together.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Less is More

I've always wanted to have one of those lovely baskets of seasonal books available for my kids. Reading bloggers posting their lists of seasonal books is incredibly inspirational, but it was the book Simplicity Parenting that tipped me over the edge.

We don't have a collection of particularly Seasonal books, but I decided that just cycling through all the books would still have value. A few plastic tubs and some sorting later, and I had a bunch of piles of books on the floor. Then I decided that some of the books were really Carbon's, and some of them were really Hypatia's, and they would enjoy their books more if they were housed in their bedrooms.

Instead of one big shelf of books, we now have just a few books in a bunch of different places around the house, with some of them in storage out in the garage. Isn't this counter-intuitive? Don't I want to surround my kids with books?

Well, we cannot focus on anything when we are overwhelmed, and once again that has been shown to be true here. By giving the kids fewer books to have to sort through before they can find one to look at, I'm seeing them spending more time with their books and enjoying them a lot more.

Less is so often more. And stirring things up usually leads to more enjoyment of our space.

And now I have a system that will be beautiful as we start to collect some seasonal books!




Friday, November 12, 2010

Life is Like a Lunch Box


Each day I pack it up with loving care, providing the best I can for everyone I care about. Then all my efforts have to go out into the larger world, where I cannot control how they are received or used. And after a long day, this is what I get back - a mess to clean up, and more often than not, complaints. Sometimes there are requests, or "suggestions", that must be taken into consideration for the future. Rarely, but just often enough, there is gratitude or recognition. But that isn't why I do it. I do it because it must be done, because in some ways I do enjoy it, and just because this is what I Do.

Life is like this lunchbox.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Watch Out For the Ring of Saturn!



Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day to you all. How do we feel about Veteran's Day? On the one hand, as my minister said this week to me, our society is overly-militarized, focusing on military solutions and glamorizing violence far more than we should.

On the other hand, we live in a society where the majority of people expect life to be easy for them, involving few sacrifices, and those sacrifices and "dirty jobs" are often done by a few, underprivileged folks. We leave a small number to shoulder a burden that would be so much better shared by us all.

And so, thank you to everyone who takes up a burden, who doesn't ask "who?" when they see a job that needs to be done. Our military are made up of volunteers, men and women who chose to raise their hand and swear an oath, go to training and be yelled at and "broken down", and build lives that could be interrupted by war at any time. And then war has interrupted those lives, and sent those men and women into harms way - physical, emotional, social, and spiritual harm.

Thank you to all who serve, whatever cause you serve. Thank you to all who volunteer. Thank you to all who sacrifice.


Saying goodbye to Daddy for over a year, 2004.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Christmas Planning

With less than 7 weeks until Christmas, it is Not Too Early to make a plan. As this marvelously practical post at Simple Mom points out, planning ahead and making a realistic budget will avoid later post-holiday regrets and debts.

So I've started a list. It's tremendously helpful to just have a list. For instance, without a list I wouldn't know that I have 9 children's teachers to give gifts to for the holidays. Knowing that there are 9 of them helped us decide how much we can afford to give to each, and now one stop to a local coffee shop and 9 gift cards later (plus 9 Christmas cards made by the kids), and that item can be checked off my list.

I also got my husband to sit down with me and look over a list of folks to send cards to. It looks like we need to buy about 40 holiday cards, and we worked together to select a card that we like. We're going to buy our cards from Amnesty International this year, a cause dear to my husband's heart after some of his experiences in Iraq.

Otherwise, the kids and I have a few projects to do to make things for all the other family on our list. There are a few things for me to purchase (not too many, really). It helps a great deal that my mother is opting for an early celebration on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with all us kids just doing a cookie exchange and helping her trim her Christmas tree. Then we will do a Secret Santa drawing for gift-giving at my Dad's house, and that just leaves us with my in-law's who obligingly have a small family since he only has one sibling. We'll mail a box to his father and step-mother who live out of state.

I've already orderd the bulk of the kids's gifts, as we are not doing a handmade holiday at home this year. No, the kids are getting a used Nintendo ds and a Lego Harry Potter set. Then I'm (or Santa, you know) filling the girl's stocking with a ds game, a mini-Samantha doll, hair doodahs, and art supplies. The boy will get a card game, some disgusting putty stuff, a comic book, and art supplies. My husband and I will fill each other's stockings.

A plan feels good.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Reading, and Listening


What would we do without the library? It's such a part of our lives! How else could I afford to keep the boy stocked with listening options like this?

I just finished reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, a clever mystery novel with a precocious, chemistry-mad eleven year old protagonist. Flavia de Luce is one of the most interesting characters I've read in a long time, and between the chemistry and the philately (stamp collecting, don't you know) references this was a very quirky and engaging novel.

We all listened to Maniac Magee in the car, read by S. Epatha Merkerson (of Law and Order). It's such a sweet book, touching on adult topics like racism in a way that is still right for kids, and she does a great job reading it. Very enjoyable.

Carbon continues to listen to all the sequels to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I haven't listened, and I imagine it loses a lot without the illustrations, but he's still laughing out loud with those headphones on his head, so that's a thumbs up from him.

Our new Read Aloud at night is Bunnicula Strikes Again. Carbon loves the Bunnicula books, and I enjoy how they gently poke fun at a lot of "pulp" kids lit.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Many Paths We Walk

We had a conference at Carbon's school on Friday, and I've been mulling a bit since then. We are not 100% "pure" Sudbury , because we afterschool in a more "traditional" way at home. And that was obviously uncomfortable to one of the staff at our conference - that we might be sending messages to Carbon, and through him to the other kids, that we don't really trust him and the Sudbury pedagogical method.

It's a real concern, at least for this one staff member, so I really wanted to give it due consideration. On the one hand, I know in my gut we won't stop after-schooling, no matter what anyone were to say. Of all the possible educational methods, programs, and theories, the one-on-one learning coach or tutoring model is still the one I love the most. And yes, it doesn't agree with the Sudbury model, which would not make a child do anything they didn't want to do.

But I don't think there is only one right way to learn. I've always held that different children learn differently, but I also believe that the same person can learn in many different ways. In fact, we are all doing it all the time. Every single day, we all might learn through personal experimentation (trial and error, so to speak), through disciplined practice (like learning a musical instrument), by being told or shown by another person, through reading it somewhere, in quiet moments of reflection, or by pure accident as we meant to do something else.

I know that in my own life, I have learned in many diverse ways and environments, and the people who worked to create those learning environments probably did not agree with the methods of the others. My ballet teachers, with their emphasis on precision, neatness, memory, attention, and effort, probably would have been appalled at my mother's laid-back almost unschooled approach to many years of my education. My vocal teacher, or the directors I worked with in community theater wouldn't have liked the methods employed by the drill sergeants at Army Basic Training.

The learning that I did in all those settings may sometimes have competed with the learning from another environment. But it was up to me, as a person, to integrate those experiences. In fact, how each individual integrates experiences (yet another form of learning!) is a big part of how they become their own, unique, personality and person.

I've never been good at sticking with one pure theory or method. Perhaps an affect of my own eclectic childhood, perhaps a personality trait - definitely a big part of why I'm a Unitarian Universalist - I see too many possibilities and too much virtue to all the possible paths to commit myself to a statement such as "this is the one true path". I prefer to walk this path for a while, then try another, then maybe choose to backtrack, sidetrack, or bushwhack.

So, does it hurt Carbon to have one kind of learning environment for six hours a day, then another kind for about an hour, then another that happens about once a week, and others that come up from time to time? I really can't believe that it would. Does having to do something he doesn't always want to do imply that I am not trusting that he does worthy things with his time when I am not "making" him? Well, does making him eat his green leafy's imply that I don't want him to eat the chicken I also put on his plate?

I want a balance, and in my ideal balance there is a lot of freedom, a lot of choice, a lot of active social learning, and just enough structure and discipline. I trust Sudbury will work, all by itself, for most children (I can't say ALL, just because I don't believe in absolutes). But I don't see why it should work all by itself. Learning is too big, vast, amazing and fun to be put in any one box, even a cool box like Sudbury.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Weekend Away




A little family R&R. A lot of fun, although this crazy place is like the Vegas of western lodges. Indoor waterpark, MagiQuest, arcade fun - it was an exhaustingly entertaining two days. We had some good time playing as a family, especially with the MagiQuest. That game is fun, and on this visit Carbon finished the Quests and became a Master Magi!

On a side note, I found it disturbing that there were parents in the bar at 11am. As we were eating lunch as a family, we saw kids having to come in there and call out to their parents over the partition to the bar, and one lady was like "go find, Daddy, kids, Mommy's in the bar". Really?

Friday, November 5, 2010

An End to Faith

I'm reading The End of Faith by Sam Harris, and it pushes my buttons. On the one hand, the tone of his anti-religion thesis is very abrasive to me, and I find myself not wanting to read it because he just sounds so, well, Arrogant. It's hard hear anyone say that other people are basically stupid and irrational - that goes against all my ingrained rules of civil discourse.

On the other hand, I do agree with many of the point Harris makes here, and I like passages like this:

The basis of our human spirituality surely consists in this: the range of possible human experience far exceeds the ordinary limits of our subjectivity. Clearly, some experiences can utterly transform a person's vision of the world. ... It is important to note that these changes are not merely emotional but cognitive and conceptual as well. Just as it is possible for us to have insights in fields like mathematics or biology, it is possible for us to have insights about the very nature of our own subjectivity.

I'll keep reading. Sometimes it's good to have an argument, to stretch your perceptions, to be a bit uncomfortable with an idea. It can promote more personal growth than always agreeing with everything, or liking everything.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

so you think it's quiet during the week in a church?


Some days it is quiet here. But some mornings look like this in our nursery.

Or, take an afternoon like right now. As I sit here, blogging as a reward after bustling about laying out materials for the Sunday lessons, this is going on in the building:

  • The minister is meeting with a congregant in his office.
  • That congregants kids are hanging out in the nursery, "self-regulating".
  • There is a group here setting up the Audio/Visual presentation needs of a Saturday event.
  • The church administrator is hard at work on her computer, almost hidden by the huge pile of work on her desk.
  • The volunteer who takes care of our kitchen is here cleaning and grinding coffee for Sunday.
  • The volunteer who manages the artwork hanging in our sanctuary is here changing out the art work.
  • There is someone making photocopies in the work room.

It's not happening right now, but at any time there could be folks walking through our doors looking for help with money or food. There could be people coming to look over the space for a possible wedding location, or a funeral location. Sometimes, this place feels far from quiet.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mornings ...

My alarm goes off at 6:30, but I like to push Snooze. It irritates my husband - sorry!

I stumble up, go to the bathroom and brush my hair. I stick a DVD in and do 15 minutes or so of yoga.

Now, start the coffee pot. Start packing lunches. Sometimes, start dinner in the slow cooker.

Usually about now my husband gets up and heads into the shower.

Give Carbon his first wake up call. He likes to push Snooze too, but his Snooze button is named Mom.

Keep working on lunches, and go get dressed.

Give Carbon his second wake up call, and ask what he wants for breakfast. Make breakfast.

Pick Hypatia up out of bed and carry her to the breakfast table. Serve breakfast.

They frequently mess about and eat very slowly, so I have to heckle them to eat and remind them to take their plates into the kitchen and go get dressed.

I pour a cup of coffee, sometimes I get some breakfast for myself. Not often enough - I need to eat breakfast more often.

My husband emerges, dressed, and gets some coffee. He will head out soon, kissing us all goodbye and taking the lunch I've packed for him.

I do morning chores: cats, dog, and chickens must all be cared for. Some dishes washed. Some laundry done.

I grab the bags that I hopefully remembered to pack the night before, and I check over that the kids have dressed in weather appropriate clothing. Almost every morning I have to argue with Hypatia to get her to dress warmly enough.

We put the dog in her yard, and load into the car. We're out the door by 8:20 at the latest.

Mornings are a lot of work. I'm getting good at it, but it's still a lot of work.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Notes from my Urban Homestead


  • I got two pumpkins out of my garden this year - two very sweet little pumpkins. I also harvested one little tiny winter squash, a bunch of scarlet runner beans to dry, and potatoes and jerusalem artichokes. The garden is just about dead for the year.
  • I finally gave up on the concept of using groundcover plants as weed control in my flower beds. The moss is lovely, but most of the others I purchased are just scraggly looking as they spread. And they don't actually control grass and dandelions, both of which just grow up through them and then are very difficult to weed out without a lot of damage to the groundcover plant. With fall clean up, I've just pulled all those suckers out.
  • I spread mulch over my flower garden bed, in the place of the groundcovers.
  • I've planted my garlic for next year.
  • The jerusalem artichoke harvest was OK, but not as prolific as I had been led to expect it should be. But I planted them in the corner of my garden that ALWAYS fails - so the fact that I got anything at all is probably good.
  • In the indoor realm, I needed to salvage Hypatia's ballet leotard after it was stained. I had a mad impulse to just try dying the leotard in a kettle of beet soup I'd made that no one liked much and wouldn't eat as leftovers. Beets are a natural dye, right? I turned away from that mad impulse, however, and played it safe with a box of Ritz, which turned the leotard a very nice and consistent purple. Should I have tried it anyway?
  • We've been enjoying toasted pumpkin seeds from all our jack o'lanterns. My husband tried seasoning them with soy sauce, and got a result he and Carbon like a lot.
  • I planted lettuce and spinach seed in pots and put them out in my backporch greenhouse. They are sprouting - we'll see.
  • I've saved pumpkin seeds and beans for next spring's planting.

How is autumn treating you? Just about time to turn aside from the garden and focus on sewing!