Wednesday, January 31, 2007

ella recommends

the keeping quilt, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Quiltmaker's Journey

The Quiltmaker's Journey, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

This book, as well as The Quiltmaker's Gift, is certainly my favorite book from the past month. I'd recommend it for boys as well as girls. The details of the illustrations were mesmerizing for Ella. We are going to make a Waldorf doll of the main character and a quilt for her.

e paints a quilt

e paints a quilt, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

After two weeks of quilts, Ella is starting a new unit at school. I asked her if she knew what that would be she said, "Obviously, blankets!"

annie's quilt

annie's quilt, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I wanted to make a doll quilt for Ella while the kids were studying quilts at school. My original intention was to let her actually stitch parts of it, but she choose to go her own was with my scraps. Grandmarie sent her a little woven sewing box with a silver thimble, and I gave her a pincushion with some pearl topped pins. She has wanted dreadfully sharp objects of her own for years. I got some muslin and was going to make a cathedral window quilt for another doll, one yet to be made, but Ella suddenly wanted "colorful patchwork, nine patch". She picked some fabrics from my stash and put the pieces in a "pat-ter-en" on the dining room table. As she learned more about how quilts were made, I put this one together at night, adding some appliques on the back. The colors are nice for Annie.


This is the baby who also loves raw and cooked broccoli, cucumbers, all beans, salmon, red peppers and peas. At almost eighteen months he loves his soups and must feed himself, much to the chagrin of his pants.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


I wanted to start a working list of things to do this summer with Ella and John when school is out.

Fossil hunting expeditions, New River and Appomattox
Build a wood burning earth oven to bake bread
Many camp outs
Paper Mache, Life size kid forms to paint
Making paper
Book making with sewn bindings
Take big easels on a painting expedition
New Jamestown 400th anniversary exhibits

to be continued

Friday, January 26, 2007

decadent grits

For those of you who find themselves gritless or living west or north of the gritline, these fine people will send you a five pound bag.

Grits, Fancy

3 cups whole milk
2/3 cups water
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2/3 cups old – fashioned grits ( not quick-cooking)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Put the milk, water, rosemary, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Slip in the grits. Adjust the heat so that the grits barely simmer, just a bubble at a time is perfect. Stir frequently until all the liquid is absorbed.
I use 3 cups whole milk and 1 cup water to 1 cup of grits with those Byrd Mill Grits.
Excellent with Sauteed Shrimp as Charleston Shrimp and Grits These can now be transformed into GARLIC CHEESE GRITS. To the cooked grits add:
2 cups grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese, ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
½ cup chopped scallions or chives, if desired
A dash of hot pepper sauce
4 eggs
Blend well.
Pour the mixture into a flat 2 quart casserole and bake at 350* for 25 minutes. More cheese can be added atop the casserole during the last 10 minutes of baking.

get your grit on

walking in someone else's shoes

walking in someone else's shoes, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We are still here. It has just been a long week, a long month. We have been weaning, teething, bad dreaming, you name it. I've been reading a few blogs but just haven't had a lot to say. How many times can I say that I feel like Miss Clavel in the middle of the night? Something is not right.

It is me though. The children are fine. I'd be fine too if someone strapped me into a car seat and let me sleep for an hour.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

september 2001

ella inside, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

My friend Marge took this picture of me at the Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon while I was uber pregnant with Ella. The Garden of Awakening Orchids was certainly one of Portland's many jewels. Marge brought over an orchid when we came home from the hospital. It bloomed for six weeks but it hasn't bloomed since. It is still in our dining room, the only plant to travel east with us.

90 percent chance of snow

90 percent chance of snow, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Ella and her daddy have been spending some good times together today. They went shopping at an old book store and got nine vintage children's books. They heard some bluegrass over at the coffee shop and brought home some good things from the whole food store.

Now they are in the tub with some toy animals. I got in the hot tub last night in a high wind, turned up the jets and felt like I was in a hurricane in a tropical sea.

ze plane

ze plane, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

She can't look up because she is steering. She has been working on this plane for a while. It has many controls and stickers of various states she is flying towards. Some of the controls are glittering.

Friday, January 19, 2007

lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my

Ella has been a vegetarian for about a month. It seems to be sticking. Ever since her seven minutes of Charlotte's Web she wants to peruse the meat aisle quite slowly, reviewing what animal the red packages came from. Cow. Pig.

She came home a few days ago announcing that Jenny had eaten a rabbit, and we repeated our mantra of tolerance for the carnivores. Every person and animal gets to choose their own food.

Yesterday she was quite concerned about Sharry's soup. "It was a lovely soup", she said, "It had white beans, carrots, and broccoli, and then she added a pig and boiled it until the meat fell off the bone." if Sharry were Frankenstein if Ella knew who Frankenstein was. She was particularly fascinated with the phrase, "until the meat fell off the bone".

"I am meat," she says.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

my clogs

my clogs, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

hedgehogs and periwinkles

Ella says," Did you know that Jenny and her husband are bone collectors for Sharry? They went out into the forest, and they found long horned sheep, hedgehogs, and periwinkles."

This is all said in a slightly hushed fairy tale voice with hand motions.

Monday, January 15, 2007


bands, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
I'm all caught up on the rubber band ball. I thought I was done, but then Granny sent more.
I have so many snippets on my mind that I can't write a coherent post. John has learned to "puppet". He is making so many connections every day. Today he played with the dinosaur puppet and then went hunting for the dinosaur book. He was desperate to iron, so Ella set him up an ironing board on the tool stand, and he ironed with the toy dustpan.
Ella's school is closing, leaving many children in the lurch for their final year of preschool. Mamas are rushing around trying to fill the void, but there isn't too much to fill the void with. I'm hoping there will be a new option, and I'd love to get involved in creating that option. Perhaps this is the perfect time for Smalltown to get a Waldorf style school.
Do you read Jennifer Mattern? You probably should. If you have any soul at all then you'll have to start reading her mother's blog too.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


runny::nose, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

boogie wonderland

Apparently those were the last pictures of my children while they were healthy. Ella does have a certain mussed glow about her, she is about to start hacking and coughing with the niagara nosefall. The baby just sniffs and snuffles, and Ella picks his nose for him. He also pretend coughs and sneezes. Tonight E has a rash around her middle, that or bugbites. They are both still eating voraciously and playing as usual.

I have hot eyeballs and keep expecting to have this cold at any minute. Mostly I am tired. John has been exclusively in his crib for three nights. The first one was rough. Last night there were two or three peeps and then he slept until almost seven. The morning before was five forty five. This morning he said, "Oatmeal!"

Friday, January 12, 2007

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

17 months

17 months, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

All morning I thought he was eighteen months old, but, no, we have a month more. Hurray! More baby.


miss, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

tea for three

This afternoon it started to snow. When the deck was completely covered it was time for tea. Ella had her cup, and John was determined that he should have some. None of these cups of milk or water. I made him a warmish camomile tea in a baby bottle and he settled into a velvet beanbag like he'd been drinking tea for years.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


redux, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

What if this was part of an old house in Floyd? You can read more about the book here. I could live here. I love the way the metal looks with the stained glass window. I don't need a big house or a fancy house, but I would like a porch.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


This lovely site has so many beautiful ornaments. I love the elves and the deer with the twig antlers. And all the others. I'm always drawn to the red mushrooms with the white polka dots. I want to make Ella seven little gnome dolls to go with a wooden German doll that we have to make a Snow White playset.

I'm starting my Christmas crafting early this year.

Friday, January 05, 2007


happy children here
sugar plums out of system
tiny vacuums roar

by daddy

scooter chin

scooter chin, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

farmer john

farmer john, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

happy birthday

happy birthday, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I married mary poppins

new years eve, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

January at Ella's School

Week 1 Dinosaurs!
Discovery Time- investigating skulls and bones, dinosaur number/numeral word game, dinosaur sticker pictures, stegasaurus hats, Ticeratops puppets

Circle Time- What we know and want to know about dinosaurs, classifying dinosaurs by eating habits, habitats, and hip bones, graphing toy dinosaurs brought from home

Small Group Time- phonics workbooks (phonmeic awareness and letter formation of Qq and Rr) and journals

Story- Dinosaurs, Dinosaur Bones, Dinosaur Babies, How Big is a Brachiosaurus?, Let's Go Dinosaur Tracking

Week 2 More About Dinosaurs
Discovery Time-making Boxosaurs, dinosaur paper skeleton, play dough dinosaurs, dinosaur dig in rice, dinosaur floor puzzles, easel painted dinosaurs for large bulletin board.

Circle Time-What happened to the dinosaurs?, Sizing up dinosaurs, "Annie Apatosaurus", "Our Dinosaur Friends" video and songs.

Small Group Time- adding using a number line, math workbookds. phonics workbooks-Uu and Vv, journals

Story- What Happend to the Dinosaurs, Sea Monsters of Long Ago, The Horned Dinosaur, Flying Dinosaur, Magic School Bus in the Time of Dinosaurs

Week 3 Quilting
Art and Discovery-color by number quilt blocks, exploring and arranging quilt squares with paper cut-outs, pattern blocks and geoboard quilts, paper quilts, quilting "sandwiches" with yarn (paper quilt front and back with batting in the middle)

Circle Time-The history of quilts, how quilts are made, counting and nameing the colors and shapes in quilts

Smalll Group Time-addition review, math workbooks, phonics workbooks Ww and Xx, journals.
Story- The Quilting Bee, The Seasons Sewn; A Year in Patchwork, Eight Hands Round, A Patchwork Alphabet, The Keeping Quilt, The Patchwork Quilt

Week 4 More Quilts
Art and Discovery- Story quilts with borders, wallpaper crazy quilts, lacing cards, triangle symetry

Circle-differnent quilt tyes and patterns, matching quilt block patterns to their names, explring various ways to make shapes (how many ways can you cover this shape?)

Small Group-subtracting using the number line, subtracting by counting backwards, math workbooks, phonics workbooks (YyZz), Journals

Story- My Grandmother's Patchwork Quilt, The Pumpkin Blanket, The Patchwork Lady, The Quilt Story, The Boy and the Quilt

Almost 17 months

John doesn't say much, but he has done his first air banjo, and he walked around much of the afternoon carrying the plays of Checkov.

se water avenue composite photgraph by Patricia Bognar Portland ,Oregon

Our friend Pat sent us a polaroid transfer of this composite photograph. For me it is a quilt, a tie die, and a kaleidescope of the Oregon summer.

If you are absolutely smitten with it, as I am, email me and I will introduce you a woman with a good story to tell, an amazing collection of photgraphs, a champion yardsaler, and the partner of a man who knows just when to throw his shoe.

bringing in the new year

bringing in the new year, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I've almost waited too long to even write about Christmas. We loaded Santa into our compact wagon and visited both of our families. The children were dazzled by four days of gifts, candies, confections, sparkles, light up tennis shoes, and the low whirling of the red toy vacuum cleaner. I keep getting asked what their favorite gifts were, and, to tell the truth, it is too soon to tell. They haven't had time to really play with all of them. It has been nice seeing them enjoy all the building toys together. Ella is enthralled with her new dollhouse furniture. All the children have beds now. We are thinking of having a new level built to add three rooms and a patio.I'm thinking about a cedar shake roof and wainscoting.

We went over two mountains and through the foggy woods and spent New Years Eve with Isaac , his family, and some of their friends. There was good food , and I drank lots of champagne. The kids piled onto the bed to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and at nine thirty they had a toast. Real glasses on a flowered tray. That was lovely. At midnight we were driving down Main street. Shortly after we were in the house and the local revelers started "shooting in the New Year". It is the habit of the indiginous folks to go out in the yard and shoot guns at midnight. I don't want to use the term redneck or white trash in a negative way, but for those of us who have lived in big cities with crime, it can be fairly disconcerting. I recently read that this is a purely American custom, most likely a way for rural people to greet their neighbors in celebration. Apparently, this custom is alive and well here in Appalachian smalltown.

Here in the New Year we are counting our blessings and cleaning out our cupboards. I've been saying that I'm going Swedish in the New Year. Spare. Boxed. Clean. Ella and I got to work on the pantry yesterday. Today we took all our old pictures off the refridgerator and put up all the new photos of our friend's children that came on Christmas cards. Our Christmas tree is growing in the yard, and the the decorations are boxed and packed. My mother asked me if I was celebrating the sixth of January. No, I'm just being Swedish. I am making lists for next year. I want to celebrate Saint Lucy's day with candle crowns and wizard hats and cardomom breads. I want to make lots of elfin dolls for the tree. I want to make a family star for the top of the tree out of some leftover material from my wedding dress, or maybe even a fairy doll with white mohair hair and the dupioni dress. Next year I want to have a Buddha day party to celebrate the day of the Buddha's enlightenment, and a bigger bolder toddler be darned Christmas tree.

We have resolutions and budget plans and yoga videos and massage gift cards. We have happy children. We have dreams of a house with a fireplace, a coop for chickens, and peace on earth.

Monday, January 01, 2007