Tag Archives: Waldorf

Tradition: Candlemas

This is the first year we will be celebrating Candlemas on February 2nd. Traditionally (i.e. religiously) it is the celebration of the presentation of Jesus at the temple. Since we aren’t particularly religious we celebrate the more pagan tradition that I think the Feast of the Presentation is supposed to obscure- it’s the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Basically it means the days are getting noticeably longer.

I have noticed that out on our walks and in the evenings when I head out to take care of our flock and creatures outside. I’ve also noticed it in the mornings when I head out to take out treats and open the run for the chickens. I don’t mind winter at all, which is in part probably due to the mild winters we have here in Sacramento, but I’m always glad to see the longer days. 

To celebrate we are going to read two poetry books that I got from the library that celebrate the passing of the seasons. A Circle of Seasons and A Brighter Garden. I am also going to put out candles during dinner and we may even read the books solely by candlelight. 

Spring is coming!

Cam in the Kitchen: Poetry Tea

I recently came across this idea for a poetry tea on Pinterest. I thought it sounded like a lot of fun and told Cam we were going to try it out. Here is a link to the post that I found through Pinterest. We had so much fun that we’re going to make a it a Wednesday tradition. 

IMG_6215I actually started building anticipation on Monday when we started looking in a few stores for a teapot. I have kettle, but that isn’t exactly an efficient way to brew tea (it makes too much and the pot is really hot). It turns out a decent (and decently priced) ceramic teapot is really hard to find! While we keep looking, we’re using the tea kettle. I brew tea at the stove and pour into cups. 

On Wednesday, after lunch and before nap time, we brewed a pot of tea, put some cookies on a plate and found a poetry book to share. Cam pushed our chairs close together and we sat down to sip tea and read. It worked beautifully and Cam loved it. IMG_6216It was relaxing and lovely. At the end of the month I will create a list of our favorite poetry books and link to it here. 

It doesn’t have to be complicated. We’ll have whatever is on hand for a snack. We just read the poetry. I suppose if Cam wanted to talk about the poems we could, but right now we’re just listening to them. I hope eventually she will take over reading some of them because learning to read poetry aloud is a good skill to practice for public speaking, for fluency, and for understanding how the spoken word works. 

Activity In the Hive: Baby Chicks

We are a family of pets, but not your usual ones. There are no cats or dogs here, nor will there be anytime soon. We have rabbits and a turtle, exotic birds and fish, and chickens and ducks. We originally got the chickens for fun and we haven’t been disappointed. They are ridiculous and most of us could watch them run around doing silly things for hours. Cam loves to chase them around the yard and pick them up. We are also pleased to get the most delicious eggs from them. We are not big egg eaters, but I haven’t had to buy eggs in a couple years and our neighbors and coworkers are always happy to receive a dozen fresh eggs.

About a week and a half ago we went to the feed store to get a new batch of chickens. This is the third time we’ve had baby chicks and I think there is something incredibly magical and special about having such new life in the house. It’s an incredible lesson for Cam in how fragile, delicate, and precarious life is. When we buy the chicks we buy several, both for company and because there is the distinct possibility that one or more will die. We have been lucky that this has not happened, but I think if it did (and even the discussion about the possibility) is a good experience for Cam. I know we have this innate desire to protect our children from all that is bad and scary and sad in the world, but I would rather Cam was exposed to some of that in a safe environment and that we show her how to cope well with it. The thing is, she lives in this world and she will experience these let downs and emotions and it’s important that she knows how to process those emotions and move through them without getting lost in them. I know the experience of a small chick dying while she is only three will not give her profound understanding of death or sadness, but it’s a step toward that understanding and a part of her long learning process. 

The baby chicks also grow incredibly fast and are surprisingly self-sufficient and capable even at a day old. It’s an amazing thing to see them get bigger so quickly and to marvel at how complex life is. It never ceases to amaze us that they just know how to be upon emerging from the egg and with no parental support. 

It doesn’t hurt that they are adorable either (click the image to see it larger):

New chicks

Cam in the Kitchen: Graham Cracker Cake

 This cake has a long and storied history in my family which might make you think it has some top secret family recipe behind it. But it doesn’t. It was my grandfather’s favorite cake and we used to make it every year on his birthday. My grandmother made it for years and then passed the torch to me. The thing is, my grandmother swears up and down it turned out beautifully their first year of marriage- tall, light, airy -but never turned out the same way again. My grandfather corroborated that story, but also admitted he was surprised, because the cake his mother would make was a lot more dense. 

My grandmother spent years trying to recreate that first graham cracker cake, going so far as to contact Nabisco and try every available brand of graham cracker on the market. When she finally passed the recipe on to me, I turned to the internet. Now I always thought the denser cake was fine, if a little dry, but for my grandmother’s sake I kept trying to improve. I found a couple other recipes and have tried incorporating the different ratios and ingredients.

I am not usually a baker. I can do it, but I don’t especially enjoy it. I have,  however, discovered that it’s a great thing to do with Cam. It’s way less stressful than having her help make dinner (when it really counts and it’s late in the day). When we bake I like to get everything set up and pre-measured while she naps so that when she wakes up we just throw everything into the bowl.

A couple weeks ago would have been my grandfather’s 92nd birthday so I we made the cake as a little remembrance.  This year it turned out perfectly. Not light an airy the way my grandmother claims her first one did, but still good enough that it was gone in two days. A record in our house. My husband does not usually eat baked goods and even he went back for seconds. 

Graham Cracker Cake
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  2. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1/3 cup flour
  6. 2/3 cup almond meal/almond flour
  7. 3 teaspoons baking powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  10. 3/4 cup milk, room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch layer cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together, beating until pale. Allow to sit for five minutes. Add vanilla, then eggs one by one.
  3. While letting butter and sugar mixture to sit, mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  4. Begin mixing the dry ingredient mixture into the butter-sugar mixture. Add it a little bit at a time.
  5. Once all the dry mixture is added, slowly add the milk.
  6. Pour into the prepared cake pans and place in oven. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before trying to remove them from the pan.
Atomic Bee Ranch http://atomicbeeranch.com/

Handwork: Threading and Lacing

While I’ve been showing handwork projects I have been working on in this series, I thought today I would share what kinds of activities I have set up for Cam that are intended to help her gear up to sewing and handwork of her own. All these activities help her develop concentration, hand-eye coordination, hand strength, and accuracy. They also allow her to play with patterns, which is an early math concept.

We’ve had a number of these activities around for awhile and even if she goes a couple weeks without touching them, she always seems to find them again and engage with them for a half hour or so. The repetition is a good thing. (The links take you to the product or a similar one on Amazon or wherever I bought it. I don’t get any part of the sale, but I know it’s frustrating to see something on a blog and not know where to find it for purchase.)

Threading and Lacing

1. Large Bead Threading

These are giant beads- palm sized for a kid- and they came with what appears to be a rope to thread them on. This was one of the first threading toys I got for Cam since it was super easy to shove the rope through the beads. I tied a knot at one end so they wouldn’t slip off and that has seemed to work. Now that Cam is clearly capable of threading these she makes patterns and necklaces and bracelets with them. 

2. Threading Apple

Such a sweet Waldorf toy, Cam loves this one. It’s a little apple with holes drilled all over and a rainbow ribbon attached for threading through the holes. This is a good one even as she gets older, because she now works on not looping over to the other side and on keeping the ribbon from twisting. That’s a lot for her to keep track of right now and is excellent practice for hand sewing. Bonus, the company we bought this from is a small local toy shop. 

3. Smaller Bead Threading

We got these a long time ago when we found them on sale at a toy store. Fortunately Cam likes cars and trains! These are a lot harder to thread because the hole is long and the string is much thinner. It took a fair amount of practice, but Cam finally mastered it. She still likes them though and makes necklaces out of these too. I should note Target has started selling Hape toys and they have several different lacing bead tubes like this one in a variety of themes including numbers. 

4. Sewing on plastic canvas

I set this up with Cam’s clothes making provocation and I kept it up because it was popular. I bought some small plastic needlepoint canvases (it was readily available at the craft store and Walmart), threaded a couple large needles with thin yarn, and also included a bowl of beads. Cam gets a kick out of this 

5. Snap Beads/Pop Beads

I had these as a kid and remember loving them. On a recent cleaning spree in her closet, Cam and I came across a set I had bought in the dollar bin ages ago and she was hooked. They are hard for her to snap together, but that’s okay because in snapping them she is building hand strength. If you buy a set, be aware that they are cheap and the snapping pegs will snap off from time to time. Buy a big bag. They also don’t bend really easily so having more to make long chains is also a good thing. 

6. Lacing Peacock

We found this at our local Christkindlmarkt last year. It’s hard because it has a lot of pieces, but Cam has been working with it and is learning how to string all the bits together. With all the beads, felt and silicone feathers, and the different colored laces there are a lot of ways to lace it and play with it. 

7. Button Snake

I made this button snake awhile back. If you have basic sewing skills and some fabric scraps they’re very easy to make. It helps practice fine motor control, buttoning, and hand eye coordination. 

 

 

Cam in the Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Granola

IMG_2597Awhile back we bought some granola that was lightly dusted with cocoa powder and had chocolate chips in it. It was, not surprisingly, absolutely delicious and Cam loved it. We would sprinkle it on our morning yogurt and Cam would pick out all the chocolate chips before eating the rest of the yogurt and granola. Sadly our grocery store stopped selling this brand so using a granola recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks and the ingredients list from the granola package I created a chocolate chip granola recipe. Making granola is pretty simple, it’s mostly stirring ingredients then baking.

IMG_2598While it’s currently winter (so I don’t mind turning the oven on) I decided to give this a try in the slow cooker since that would make it more Cam-friendly. It worked okay, not well. It just didn’t dry the ingredients out enough so I ended up popping it in the oven after all. I’ll include instructions for both ways in the recipe in case you want to give the slow cooker a try. I also swapped out the oil for coconut oil, but you can use either. I had it on hand and wanted to give it a try. 

 (Yes, it is winter and yes, Cam is wearing a tank top. This kid never gets cold.)

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Granola
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. oats
  2. 1/2 c. canola oil
  3. 1/2 c. honey
  4. 1/3 c. water
  5. 1/4 c. sunflower seeds
  6. 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  7. 1/2 c. flax seed
  8. 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  9. 1/4 tsp. salt
  10. 1/3 c. chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line or grease a large cookie sheet.
  2. Mix all the wet ingredients together and all the dry ingredients together. Leave out the chocolate chips. Stir the two together and pour onto the cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for about 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally so it doesn't burn.
  4. The granola is done when it is no longer wet and you can smell it toasting. Stir in the chocolate chips and let cool. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
  1. Slow cooker method: Grease your slow cooker insert. Once the ingredients are mixed pour them into the slow cooker and cook on low for 3 or more hours, until the granola is dried out. Leave the lid canted or off completely to allow the moisture to escape. Stir every once in awhile to prevent it from burning. Once it's dried out turn out onto a cookie sheet to cool.
  2. If you were so inclined, you could add some sort of dried fruit, such as cranberries at the end with the chocolate chips.
  3. I used coconut oil instead of canola.
  4. Feel free to toss in whatever else might be in your pantry and sounds good- nuts, seeds, etc.
Atomic Bee Ranch http://atomicbeeranch.com/

Handwork: Martinmas

Gluing Lanterns I wrote last year about Martinmas and what we did. Our celebration this year was similar. Since St. Martin was known for sharing his cloak with a beggar one cold winter night we purchased a coat to give to the local coat drive. We made cookies which I will share in the December Cam in the Kitchen post. We also made the traditional lanterns for the holiday.

Martinmas LanternSince Cam was older this year I picked a lantern that she could make on her own. I made four and she made three which was about right. We’re giving them out to family and friends again. 

Supplies:

  • smooth-sided jars
  • pieces of tissue paper
  • white glue
  • paintbrushes
  • small bowl for glue

What To Do

  • I got some things set up on a tray a day or two before we actually did the craft. This made it easy to get it out and make the lanterns, but isn’t essential. I do suggest some prep before you get started though.
  • Cut the tissue paper into small- and medium-sized pieces. They will be covering the outside of the jars so use the sizes of your jars to decide how big to cut the pieces. 
  • In the small bowl, mix some white glue with a bit of water to thin it out. It should be think enough that it doesn’t really drip when painted on the jar, but not so thick it’s hard to spread.
  • Paint a layer of glue onto the outside of the jar. You can work in sections or cover the whole outside.
  • Begin placing the pieces of tissue paper around the outside. They can overlap. If you have a young child it might be easier for you to hold the jar while they place the tissue paper scraps on.
  • Once you have a patch (or the whole jar covered) brush over the tissue paper with the glue sticking the pieces down more and creating a thin layer to protect the paper. This will keep it from peeling off so easily and acts a bit like Modge Podge.  
  • Allow to dry completely. Place a candle inside (we use the battery operated candles, but you can use votives or tea lights).

Reflection: 2014/24

Martinmas: We celebrated Martinmas again this year. I really like how this is a holiday about charity and light at a time of year when we get so many messages about getting stuff. See my weekly post on Wednesday for more on what we do to celebrate. 

Reorganizing: Again. In the classroom. It isn’t really major, but I read the book Beautiful Stuff which I will review Thanksgiving week and it’s inspired me to involve Cam in sorting our recycled materials and have them more prominently displayed. 

Handwork: Play Canopy

Play CanopyAfter rearranging Cam’s room a few months ago there was a particular corner that just needed a little something more. It really needed something to draw the eye up and fill the space. To accomplish this I made a play canopy. It isn’t perfect, but Cam loves it and it was really simple to make. My husband was actually the one who came up with the idea to use an embroidery hoop and pushed us to go out and buy the supplies. It looks like a long process but it won’t take long- a couple hours at most depending on your sewing skills. 

Materials:

  • sewing machine
  • large embroidery hoop (the bigger the better)
  • panels of tulle (we used four, each one a different color; the number of panels you need will depend on the width of the fabric and the size of the hoop, be sure the number of panels will be able to go all the way around your hoop and overlap each other a bit)
  • ribbon or string (to gather the top)
  • hook to hang it

What to do:

  1. Measure the height of your ceiling. This will determine how long each panel of tulle should be. We have 8 foot ceilings so we bought 3 yard lengths.
  2. Fold the top of the each panel of tulle over. Stitch it down so that it makes a hem at the top. This is where you will thread the ribbon or string through and gather the top. 
  3. Determine where you want your hoop to fall along the panel and in relation to your ceiling. This may depend on how high your ceiling is and how wide your hoop is. Stitch a basting or gathering stitch. I stitched around 30 inches down from the top. 
  4. Measure the circumference of your hoop if you don’t know it already. Divide that number by the number of panels you have. Add in the amount you want each panel to overlap. Add this number in twice (once for each side). This number is the width you need to gather your panels down to. So if your hoop is 45 inches in circumference and you have five panels: 45/5= 9 inches. If you want them to overlap by 3 inches add in 6 inches. Gather the panel to 15 inches wide.
  5. Open the hoop up and start to place the panels around the circumference. Place the hoops where the gathering stitch is. Put the hoops back together and begin to tighten them a little so it holds the panels in place while you adjust them. This part was really tricky for me. Feel free to curse as you do this. Don’t worry if they don’t line up perfectly. Just be sure the gathering stitch is hidden. When the panels are in place tighten the hoop completely.
  6. Run the ribbon through the top hem and gather. I used two pieces of ribbon and gathered two panels onto each. I then tied bows to connect the two ribbons- one bow on either side. I used the bows to hang the hoop, but you could just expose a bit of ribbon or string on either side and use that to hang it. 
  7. Place the hook in the ceiling and hang your canopy.

As a side note, the picture of the canopy doesn’t show it where it was actually hanging. We have since had to move it. 

Activity in the Hive: St. Francis of Assisi Celebration

So, St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals (amongst other things) and his saint’s day is October 4th, the day after my birthday (I will be 25 again this year. It’s amazing that I haven’t gotten any older in years). Considering how much Cam loves animals and the proximity to my birthday I thought this year we would start a family tradition of celebrating the saint’s day.

Francis actually embodies a number of qualities that we are trying very hard to impart to Camille. Not only was he a friend to all animals, wild and domestic, he was also (like most saints) a big supporter of not relying on money and material belongings to bring happiness and satisfaction. Francis was actually raised in a wealthy family. As a young man he was generous with those less fortunate than him to the point that he was forced to denounce his own family who did not understand or accept his compassionate nature. 

As I’ve said before, we are not religious, but I think the saints have a lot to offer in character building and offer good examples of behavior, especially for children who are very attuned to injustice. While God has come up in the books we’ve read about Francis (and other saints) we are not focusing on those aspects of the stories.

Books

Of course I got a few titles out of the library to read to Cam in preparation for the day of the celebration. Here a couple I recommend.

Brother Sun, Sister MoonBrother Sun, Sister Moon: St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures by Katherine Paterson

An adaptation of a prayer attributed to Francis from the author of The Bridge to Terebithia. This is a really beautiful meditation that celebrates all aspects of the land and our place in and interconnectedness to the web of life. There is an especially beautiful verse praising death which I think is important for children to learn about. The illustrations in this are absolutely incredible and detailed. They remind me of some traditional Russian art and of German cut paper decorations. Really an incredible work.

St. Francis of Assisi by Nina Bawden

This was a really great book about Francis’s life. It looks like there is a lot of text, but it’s large and very simple. Cam sat through the whole book at bedtime. The story takes you from his early years to his death. There isn’t much about why he is the patron saint of animals, but it touches on his miracles and the way he lived.

Saint Francis by Brian Wildsmith

I was not able to get this one from my library system, however I would recommend any book by Brian Wildsmith for the illustrations alone. He creates the most amazing watercolor and ink illustrations and this is no exception. The story recounts Francis’s life including his interactions with animals. 

The Plan

  • deliver supplies to our local wildlife care association
  • visit the Folsom Zoo which is actually an animal sanctuary
  • set out treats for our pets and be sure we spend time with them
  • eat dinner together, say the Prayer of St. Francis before the meal

How It Went & Thoughts for Next Year

The celebration went really well. We did not make it to the Wildlife Care Association. I think I was expecting too much and we ended up meeting some friends at the zoo. Cam was super excited to give treats to all our pets so I will definitely keep that for next time. We also ended up having family over for dinner and forgot the prayer. Next year I would like for it just to be us and to plan a more special meal with Cam’s help.

Traditions Banner