Friday, December 29, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

peace :: out

460 santa, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We've gone over the river and through the woods.

Friday, December 22, 2006

solstice tree

originally uploaded by ellajohn.

garden ella

garden ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

a tangled web

Ella went to see her first movie. She lasted between seven and ten minutes. The dad has a piglet under one arm and an axe under the other. She wavers. A few minutes later the barnyard animals are taunting Wilbur about the smokehouse, and she whispers that she would like to go home. As in right this very instant. I was proud of her. Twenty two dollars poorer but proud. I love that sometimes she is still so little. She says that she might want to try again if her friends can go with her.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

poised, is that the word?

missing one important concept, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I thought it was time to insert a little reality into this little blog. It has been looking a little syrupy around here lately, so I thought you should see the food stuck to the face of a man poised to wipe.....who has not even pulled down his pants because he really has no idea what he is doing.

He is nothing if not enthusiastic. He wants to keep the alphabets from the fridge in the potty, and he must fill a teapot with water whenever there is water in the bathtub and fill this potty because that is the way he thinks it should be.

Further proving that he is his father's son, yesterday I found him in this very spot flipping through The Economist. Pants up, of course.

Monday, December 18, 2006


globe, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

smiling jack

smiling jack, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


tree, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

The tree is tiny and dense and Ella thinks that it is beautiful. Friday we are planting it before we head out of town.

ella's house

ella's house, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

stay out of the closet. no peeking under the bed.

No more Flickr for family members. Blog, fine. Flickr, you are in danger of peeking into the back of my closet at some of your tiny little christmas gifts. Don't click. No. The rest of you. Fine. I've been baking today with tiny yipping animals at my feet needing drinks of water, milk bottles, little bean burritos, apples, story books, changes of clothes, naps, lunches, dinnners, and pajamas. These tiny little yippers also have running noses. Ella is pale and wan and yet wants to hoola hoop in the front yard. The night before she thought that Santa Claus was jumping on her bed, but it was just the fever talking. She is taking tylenol and soups and tea.

The children are nestled all snug in their beds and our house smells like chocolate and incense.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

One week

The tree is up. The Charlie Brown Christmas was watched. The risotto was eaten; Ella had ten bites, all of them with commentary. All children were asleep by seven.

I need to make a list of all the things that need to be done this week, but I must say that I have enjoyed the Christmas "process". I'm ready to clear away all the supplies and bask in the glow of the lights, but I still have thirty five cards to make, parmesan black pepper biscotti to bake, a package to mail to Massachusetts on monday, cookies to bake, another little tree to decorate with all white ornaments, twelve squares of the checkers set to sew down, and packages to wrap.

Friday, December 15, 2006


kiss, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

turn around lady, I'm driving

turn around lady, I'm driving, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

guh raf

guh raf, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

birthday pancake

birthday pancake, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


There must be something festive going on because I keep talking about all the nutcrackers in our yard. Yes, those would be woodpeckers.

We took Miss Ella to the Nutcracker at the local university this weekend. Her ballet teacher was dancing, and now she has a whole new vision of that woman; Sarah is a real ballerina. I was quite impressed by the performance. Ella and Emily were both completely caught up in the magical story, and both loved walking down to watch the musicians in the orchestra before the performance and during the intermission. Ella took Sarah a bouquet at the stage door but was fairly awestruck by seeing her in the full makeup.

Granny and Grampy were here for the weekend, and this morning Ella staged Dolly's fifth birthday party during breakfast. (Dolly is, ahem, a doll) She had five candles in a pumpkin pancake, and she sat at the table wearing a paper hat.

Last night was the third annual building of the gingerbread house. I'm so happy she is finally making shingles.

Friday, December 08, 2006


snoweater, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We had our first snow of the season yesterday, an hour or so of heavy snow and then blue skies. Ella thought it was arranged just for her as they have been studying snowflakes all week in preschool.

peanut snowman

peanut snowman, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

This little guy is so easy that a four year old can make them! Paint a peanut white with a few drops of glue in a tablespoon of white paint. Roll in salt or sugar. Tie on some yarn. The hat is felt or construction paper. I made the carrot out of a rubber band, but paper would be fine. A safety pin on the back of the scarf makes it into a pin, or it would be a sweet tree ornament.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

some fruit for the woodpeckers

some fruit for the woodpeckers, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

The woodpeckers were at it again today. Life in a wooden house isn't always quiet. Ella was a bear today. She wanted to make 22 clothespin dolls for her class tomorrow..or a trillion million. I'm feeling a little beaten down by it all lately, the toys on the floor, the request to be a vegetarian who eats fried chicken, and the best quote of all from yesterday, "Do you know how much my mom hates plastic?" I know, she is five. No filters.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

handmade thrifty irish sheep

handmade thrifty irish sheep, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

When I have two or three nerves left I like to make a little something. This is the sleeve of a felted fisherman sweater and a black sock.

I've been trying to wean John, and he is fighting the good fight. He stomps his little feet in a rage. He also trys throwing food, or, if we are in the grocery store, groceries. Giving up nursing means giving up the five minutes of peace in the afternoon. During the day he will take snacks and whole milk, but at night I have much less willpower. I'd sell my soul for the little bit of sleep I do get, so when he wakes up in the middle of the night I tuck him into my bed and get back to the business of sleeping. The hours between midnight and six am are not functional ones for me.

Monday, December 04, 2006


2, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


scoots miles down main street, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

She rode her scooter the entire parade route with the local trails group.

ella and the birthday girl

ella and the birthday girl, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

advent stockings

advent stockings, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Cruising the crafty blogs, I saw some handmade stockings hung on a ribbon to use as an advent calendar. Then Magic Cabin had a kit. Twenty five days is a long time, but I started cutting the felt. They are all stiched up and I've decorated eight of them. They have little rick rack loops and hang on a green ribbon. I got the little german elf to move from stocking to stocking to mark the day.

As soon as this is done, I'm putting away the motherlode of craft supplies in the dining room. The checkers set is almost done, and it it is pretty amazing if I do say so myself, but these are the last giant projects. I'm calling in the big guns this weekend. My mother is coming for a few days to babysit while I try to finish some of the house projects that I have started and then abandoned in favor of felt gingerbread men and button reindeer.

Come New Years we will have lived in this house for one year. Our bedroom is still Navy blue, and yet it must stop being navy blue. I was out and about shopping with a friend today and I wanted so many housey things. Flannel sheets. Big candlesticks. Candles. Warm room things.

driving that train

driving that train, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

history of vaccums

history of vaccums, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

So, imagine this one in red. Imagine you had just turned five and you were building your house cleaning arsenal.

vacuuming the soul

Many thanks to all the nice folks who helped me find vacuum cleaners for Ella's Christmas present. I was amazed that even strangers came forth with lovely maple and birch vacuums, vacuums that MY google searches could not even find. I still don't know what I'm going to get her. I'm torn between my utter hatred of plastic toys and her "vision" of her vacuum cleaner. You laugh, but I know that this one is important to her. Although it skipped a generation, vacuuming is in her genes. That maple vacuum that I love isn't going to cut it. If she had never seen another one, it would be fine. She even knows that plastic toys come from oil and will last ten million year spewing chemicals into the earth, but there is a part of her that just wants it to be a toy vacuum with buttons that makes a sound. Get over it mama. For a while I was just going to get her a real one, one that has batteries, maybe some Bissell flip something, mop on one side vacuum on the other. If there really is a Santa, though, he would get the red retro one from Pottery Barn. I think.

Monday, November 27, 2006

my guys

Johns on a slide, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


sunshine, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
Here is where we went walking.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

down the road

Floyd has hit the big time. Well, not really. Look for the quotes from Heike.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

turkeys in the chandelier

turkeys in the chandelier, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

She makes rakish poultry.

letter to santa

letter to santa, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Cart, check. Cleaning supplies, check. Vacuum cleaner, um, anybody seen a wooden vacuum cleaner? Candy cane, check. Whose child is this? Of course you have seen my dust bunnies, my lack of organization, and the pile of dishes in my sink.

moral dilemma

vacuum, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Of course this is only made in England. Maybe we should move to avoid the horrid shipping costs? It is on ebay and the shipping is fifty dollars.

Killer Polly Pocket on the Loose

I knew that Polly Pocket was trouble. Now she can kill you if you swallow her small magnetized parts. See, I'm lucky. My child merely swallowed the tiny black mary jane shoe. Her insides were not perforated, merely rubberized.

kids bake pumpkin pies

kids bake, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

as always, a small band

as always, a small band, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

she made this

she made this, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I was sewing somewhat furiously and she wanted to help. I handed her a threaded needle and a piece of felt. She did the rest. I had to untangle her thread a few times, and I sewed on the button for her as "the final touch", but she made this herself. I so love the handle.

gwynn's greens

gwen's bouquet, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

John went to the farmer's market yesterday.


thanksgiving, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Yesterday was finish four works in progress before you go crazy day. I painted the whole bathroom, finished this banner, sanded and stained the wooden medicine chest, and painted an old chair cream colored for the chocolate bathroom.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Stratford Hall Ginger Cookies

3 melted sticks of butter
1/2 cup of molasses
2 cups of sugar
2 eggs

beat well

4 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves

mix well with a big wooden spoon--it will be hard
refridgerate, overnight is fine

roll into small balls, roll balls in sugar and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes

Friday, November 17, 2006

miss ella

miss ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Here she is ready to go to school this morning. Maybe the phoenix eggs will hatch today. The arrival of the mythical phoenix eggs to the preschool playyard has warmed my heart, the heart recently chilled by all the "mine is bigger, mine is better, you are mean, I want a doodlepony" crapola. I hear that is this imaginative play is a remix of some Harry Potter viewing by another of the phoenix egg players, but is is sweet and nurturing and magical, and it is just what I have been waiting for. It doesn't require any doodleponies and may involve volumes of mud--for the making of the phoenix milk. Knees were made for washing.

ella's cookie

ella's cookie, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

You would never know that the ring finger is a prosthesis. Have I mentioned lately that I love Isaac? Because of his fascination with the prosthesis, my child knows just what to do when her cookie loses a finger.

such sweetness with a sprinkle goatee

Ella's friend came over to have lunch and make cookies. Kind of kicked off the holiday season in a nice way. Next I want to make those Stratford Hall ginger cookies, and I want to be invited over to someones house who is making that Martha triple chocolate peppermint trifle because it is smashingly beautiful.

What are they doing?

you'll never guess, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

They are not knights. There is no sword fighting. They are swordfish. From the Pacific. She is the idea girl, and he wants to be just like her.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

clothespin kimono ladies

clothespin kimono ladies, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

moving at the speed of light

So next week is Thanksgiving. And then Christmas.

I'm happy that John is home. Ella is watching Mary Poppins, and there is a pot of chicken and dumplings bubbling away on the stove.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Heart Sutra

Avalokiteshavara Bodhisattva, practicing deep
Prajna Paramita,
clearly saw that all five skandhas are empty,
transforming anguish and distress.
Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness,
emptiness no other than form;
form is eactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form;
sensation, perception, formulation,
consciousness are also like this.
Shariputra, all things are essentially empty-not
born, not destroyed;
not stained, not pure; without loss, without gain.
Therefore in emptiness there is no form, no
sensation, perception, formulation,
no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind,
no color, sounds, scent, taste, touch, thought;
no seeing and so on to no thinking
no ignorance and also no ending of ignorance,
and so on to no old age and death and also no
eding of old age and death;
no anguish, no cause of anguish, cessation, path
no wishdom and no attainment. Since there is
nothing to attain,
the Bodhisattva lives by Prajna Paramita
with no hindrance in the mind; no hindrance and
therefore no fear;
far beyond delusive thinking, right here is
All Buddhas of past, present, and future live by
Prajna Paramita
attaining Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.
Therefore know that Prajna Paramita
is the great sacred mantra, the great vivid mantra,
the unsurpassed mantra, the supreme mantra
which completely removes all anguish. This is
truth not mere formality.
Therefore set forth the Prajna Paramita mantra,
set forth this mantra and proclaim:
Gate gate paragate parasamgate*
Bodhi svaha!

Translated by Diasetz Suzuki as "Gone, Gone, gone to the other shore, landed at the other shore."

Sometimes when you are looking for a new mantra you find it in the drawer of your bedside table where you put it eight years ago.

mama loves some cats with banjos and fiddles

cats with banjos
Originally uploaded by ellajohn.

checkers set fabrics

checkers set fabrics
Originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


sweet, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

swinging with granny

swinging with granny, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


floyd, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

It is always a good time to go out to Floyd, Virginia on a sunny saturday, especially if you want to go to a killer fabric store and suddenly need to make everything under the sun, even shoes. I have fabric and buttons to make that plaid checkers set, a set of advent stockings, and maybe even some sweet stuffies. Maybe a cat. Maybe a quilt.

Friday, November 10, 2006


nap, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Here is a picture for daddy in Texas. He is whooping it up with the intellectuals until sunday.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Oh, the cuteness of a plaid fabric checkers board with vintage buttons. I need another arm and more hours in the day.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The Magic Cabin Holiday catalog makes me very happy. You can turn the pages online.


I voted at seven thirty and here I am at 7:55 sitting at the computer waiting impatiently for the results. Just kidding. Like Ella said, we were out there voting for a "new government". In her mind, we need a leader who will help us get all the red Solo cups and beer cans off the streets of Smalltown. Also, no one will have guns any more. That should really muffle that war thing. The one she doesn't even know about.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

leaf banners

leaf banners, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Great birthday party. One with vegetables, homemade goodies, dress up, outside fun, and pie. Everything was delicious and thoughtful, and I think that every child had a great time. I picked up one of Ella's little friends on the way. The friend's parent's were raking their leaves, and I commented that Ella and her dad had raked leaves yesterday at our local forest Park. Not realizing that this was a community service event, she looked at me as if I were a crazy person and said, "Don't you have a yard?"

Saturday, November 04, 2006


jbp, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

birthday banner

birthday present, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

This is Isaac's birthday present. I was so inspired by the Thanksgiving banner, that I wanted to make another one. I like the banjo and the singing chicken.

hat and coat day

hat and coat day, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Guess who got his first haircut today? Here we are about to go to Lowes to buy a closet door. Ella and Daddy are out being community helpers, raking in the park and eating pie.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

ella japanese

ella japanese, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Here she is in all the parts of her costume. Some of the accessories did not go out trick or treating because of the all important candy bag. I love that she wanted to be japanese instead of the ubiquitous fairy princess. Of course, what does she want to be next year? Fairy princess. We were almost an hour late for the town trick or treating, but she got a few pieces of candy, and we went to dinner at Moosewood 72 with some friends and their daughter. It was a mostly vegetarian buffet, good for the most part, but, god, don't ever roll fish fillets in oatmeal. Next year I'd like to do a dinner party at someone's house and trick or treat at five houses who made homemade treats. Who has these mysterious popcorn ball making neighbors? Maybe it could be a caravan. The town trick or treat is good for daylight treating and convenience, but it lacks the spookiness of going up to the doorway, not to mention the gutbusting nature of all that artificial color and flavor. Not that I'm against sugar in all forms. Moosewood 72 had little tiny yummy pumpkin pies and dark chocolate pie cut in bitesize pieces. Next stop, Thanksgiving.


parasol, originally uploaded by ellajohn.