Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ice Box Cucumbers

One of my absolute favorite summertime snacks is Ice Box Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes still warm after being freshly picked from the backyard and crackers. It tastes like summer to me.

My mom's recipe is: 
1 1/2 c. cold water
1 1/2 c. vinegar
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. onion flakes
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. celery seed
4 med. cucumbers thinly sliced

Pack cucumbers in jars, leaving an inch and a half to two inches at the top. Whisk together remaining ingredients and divide that mixture among the jars. Shake and chill. 

I always tend to make double the recipe and give several jars of it's deliciousness away to friends and family. 

These four English cucumbers are about a foot long each. Each about the length of two cucumbers, effectively doubling the recipe.

I used the food processor to slice the cucumbers in warp speed. I find that the more thin the slices are, the more delicious they are to me. Everyone's tastes are different though. Experiment! 
Packed Jars

Just waiting for the yummy mixture! 
Yum. Summer perfection. In the fridge it goes.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wooden Blocks With Beeswax Finish

My Dad is awesome. Most folks who know him know that. He builds fantastic things for people. Recently, he did a job and had some lovely blocks left over. I very gladly took them home with me. While the kids played with the hose and buckets in the yard, I used my fantastic power sander (that I bought new in box at a yard sale for $5 ^_^) to round the sharp edges and smooth them out.

Freshly sanded blocks
Although they were lovely and soft after being sanded, I have a crazy wood texture issue and I needed to do something to make them smoother to the touch. Enter Beeswax Polish. Here is the recipe I used- Beeswax Recipe

You need one part beeswax and 4 parts oil. You can use any oil you like! I used coconut oil because I have a a lot. Olive oil will have a slightly green tint to it. A great friend of mine gave me a block of beeswax. 

The first step is to put the oil and the beeswax together- I recommend just putting them both in the jar you plan on storing the finish in. The recipe recommends shredding the wax so that it melts quicker. I will definitely do that next time. My 1/4 cup chunk of beeswax took about thirty minutes to melt. You can either melt in the microwave or in a double boiler. I put my jar in a pot of water and boiled it. As I said- this took a while! Once it was all melted, it looked like liquid oil.

I thought about what a great lip gloss this would make- so i filled up a few wee tupperware containers I have.
As the finish solidifies over the next hour or so, make sure to stir it and scrape the outer edges and bottom. If you do not do this, the outside will be hard and you will have an inner oily area. 

While my finish was still a bit warm, I rubbed it all over the blocks. It felt SO good on my hands. (it also feels great on lips!) I applied the finish generously on the blocks and let them sit while I folded some laundry and finished the dishes.

Then I took two washcloths and wiped off the excess finish, followed by a secondary rub and wiping by another towel. With the waxy washcloths, I also rubbed my dining table- it looks great! 

As I finished each block, Rainbow Girl began to build.

Shortly thereafter, the blocks became stepping stones to get over the blue lake to avoid the mean purple alligators. Apparently Rainbow Girl was on a mission to save a nice pink shark that the alligators were mistreating.
Sugar Bear got in on the action.
"Cheese Mama!"

My finish consisted of 1/4 cup beeswax and 1 cup of coconut oil. I was able to wax all 25 blocks, make  three lip gloss cups, and wax my table with about 2 tablespoons left of the finish. 

Waldorf Dolls

When I think about my childhood, one of my favorite things was imagination time with my dolls. As if foretelling my homeschooling destiny, I regularly held "school" for my dolls in my playroom. I had/have one special doll in particular, Melissa. I took her everywhere and had loads and loads of special clothes for her- some made by my talented mom, some American Girl brand and some off brand. Melissa was not an official American Girl, but conveniently fit their clothes great! Although I have passed my special doll down to Rainbow Girl, she still refers to it as "Mommy's doll when she was a girl." My babes needed special dolls all their own to create and imagine their own new worlds with them. 

In my research to learn as much as I can about Waldorf homeschooling, I came across Waldorf dolls. Traditionally, they are made of all natural materials. Generally a cotton knit fabric with wool stuffing and mohair or boucle hair. From Weir Dolls & Crafts-"The young child's touch is more sensitive to materials that have been alive and growing, as opposed to synthetics, which do not encourage the child's own life forces to expand." The doll's facial expression is often undefined, allowing the child to decide at anytime what emotion the doll is experiencing during play. 

I searched the internet looking for the perfect dolls for my kids. They are VERY expensive! The average price of a 16-18 inch doll is around $150. After seeing that this was pretty universal everywhere, I decided to look into making them on my own. 

Finding all of the materials started to look expensive too. Then I came across Weir Dolls & Crafts. The put together a kit- custom to your specifications with everything you need to make a doll- at a very affordable price! A 12 inch doll kit is $28.95, a 16 inch kit is $29.95 and a 20 inch doll kit is $42.95. You select skin and hair color, pre-sewn body or not, pre-formed head or not and pre-sewn wig or not. You also have the option to buy all the needles you'll need to put the doll together. Most folks I'd assume to not own a 5 inch soft sculpture needle- unless they have made a doll before. 

I ordered 16 inch pre-sewn bodies and pre-sewn wigs, blush skin and butterscotch hair. 

Durring my first night of working on the dolls, with Rainbow Girl sitting beside me, she named her doll. Mary. While I was still forming the head, she was already forming her relationship with her new friend. "She has never seen anything! I will show her the world! Can I take her everywhere? She will be my best friend." <3 It took me about two hours to make Mary's head. The next morning, I made Sugar Bear's baby's head in about 45 minutes. I placed the wigs on the heads for the picture- they are not attached. 

The next day, I stuffed the arms and bodies of the dolls and started to sew Mary together. First, I sewed the arms to the back of the shoulders (the ball stuffed with wool under the head). Next, I sewed the head and arms into the body. The process of sewing the neck was hard! I had to turn under the raw edge on the body while making sure to cover the neck string on the head- while trying to avoid too much bunching of the fabric. Who wants a wrinkly neck? I worked for about two hours this day.

The next morning, I sewed the leg bend and the feet on Mary. Rainbow Girl was thrilled and didn't want to stop snuggling her. We ended up taking a hairless an faceless Mary to story time at the library.

During nap time, (yes! Rainbow Girl still naps 3-4 hours a day! Sugar Bear only naps 1-2 hours) I assembled Sugar Bear's doll. Then I began to embroider Mary's face. This is a gruesome process. I took my five inch needle and, as instructed, stabbed my daughter's new best friend in the back of the head, coming out where I wanted her eye to be. Ouch. My first attempt at eyes looked like a sleepy, possibly drunk, Chinese person. Woops. I cut the thread out. My second attempt was much better. After finishing the eyes, I stabbed poor Mary in the head again and tied off the thread on the back of her head. I went through the same process for the mouth. I'm afraid I made their mouths a bit more "smiley" than I intended, but I like them. Then I sewed Mary's hair on, straight down the part line of her wig. On the suggestion of a friend, I immediately braided her hair to avoid impossible tangling. 

Sugar Bear woke from his nap and needed snuggles and nursing. With him still nursing, I began sewing the feet on his doll. He got down to play and I broke out the five inch needle again. I'll spare you the details this time. His eyes came out ok, I am not 100% in love with them, but I ran out of blue thread. I made his mouth and sewed on his wig (which was a crochet cap). 

Remember Melissa? My special doll? The one with loads of special clothes? The new dolls fit her clothes great!

Happy Birthday to Mary and Baby!

They both love their dolls. Sugar Bear had not connected as emotionally to his doll as much as Rainbow Girl has, but that will probably come in time. He's two after all- and very busy. 

Today we are going to the fabric store to pick out fabric for ring slings I will make for them to tote their babes in.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


We recently found out about a very fun hobby. Letterboxing. It involves following clues and/or a map to find a stamp hidden by the maker of the letterbox you are searching for. You, the "Treasure Hunter",  as Rainbow Girl calls it,  have your own "signature stamp" which can be store bought or homemade- just something that you like or that describes you. You also have your own stamp collecting journal. Also included in your letterboxing kit should be an ink pad, pen, compass and your list of clues and/or map to the letterbox. After locating and opening the box, you will find a stamp and a journal- a guestbook of sorts of who has located the box. You stamp the guestbook with your signature stamp, and you stamp your journal with the special stamp located in the letterbox.

Wee Folk Art, who's Preschool/Kindergarden curriculum we used last year, posted about this topic and we researched it further, going to a few different websites that list active letterboxes in your area. Low and behold- there was one listed at one of our favorite parks right down the road from us!

For excellent lists of local letterboxes, go to either of these two sites.
We not only have a huge list of letterboxes to find in our area, but also made a list of boxes in the Outer Banks to find while we are there.

Well, once Rainbow Girl heard about this, off we went to Michaels to get stamps! After we had stamps for each of us and got together some journals- off to Osbourne Boat Landing! This box was located right off the path- but in the woods.

Here are our signature stamps in the guestbook.

Stamping Sugar Bear's Journal.
So, of course, that was loads of fun and we NEEDED to go on another "treasure hunt"!! So off we went- about an hour further down the road to Lewis Park.

The last hurricane did a lor of damage here. There was A LOT of things to climb over to follow the clues.

Rainbow Girl examining the bark as I continue to attempt to put my back to a tree that has fallen, with the river to my back and 7 steps to the west.

We sadly did not find the letterbox this time. The hurricane did a number on this beautiful place. Rainbow Girl reassured me, "Don't worry mama, sometimes things change. We will find the next one." <3

"Maybe the treasure is down there!"