Saturday, March 31, 2007


saturday, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

mud day

mud day, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

She has a talent for finding salamanders. After lunch she collected her hula hoops and headed out in a raincoat. At three we put all her clothes in a bag at the front door because they were so muddy, and she had an early warm bath.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

three loveys

three loveys, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
This is lamby, Ethan, and green baby. Ethan isn't a regular in the crib, but John wanted him in there tonight. Usually there is a small brown beagle, and he lines them up across his chest and covers them with his blanket.

Snuck Up No Adult

Someone at Ella's school called her a "snuck up, no adult". Aren't all four and five year olds snuck up no adults. Anyway, I bet the little culprit didn't even know what it meant.

Stuck up know it all.

This burst of spring has me questioning our decision to move to this little smalltown. The neighborhood kids have come out to play, toy machine guns and all. Seven year olds who are allowed to walk on the street all alone to talk to bigger boys on bikes. This isn't Mayberry, and I'm starting to notice.

Ella and I did a drive by at a house for sale. It is about the same size as our house now, but it looks so tiny from the front. It only has one bathroom. Chicken friendly but not goat friendly. It does have a lot of character and the sweetest new tin roof. The elementary school is in sight and there is a farm across the street and a plant nursery just a few doors down. John's office is five minutes away. I'm not seriously shopping, just getting some ideas out there. It is also in a school district that would work for middle or high school.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

signs of spring

watermelon, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


yardgirl, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


yardman, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

The Year Without Toilet Paper

The Year Without Toilet Paper is a must read from the New York Times. You can also read this family's blog at

Thursday, March 22, 2007


housekeeping, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

John loves his morning visit to the preschool.


whale, originally uploaded by ellajohn. Ella has been very excited about whales and dolphins for the past two weeks. The children made this whale from heavy paper that they sewed together, stuffed, and then painted.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

steiner preschool link

I know it is in Australia, but it sounds lovely. Here is another one.

sunflower whole wheat

sunflower whole wheat, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Monday, March 19, 2007


John had a conference in Williamsburg on friday, so the whole family made a weekend of it. We drove down thursday night after class in the pouring rain. In the morning Granny came over to the hotel for a swim, and then she and Grampy took the kids to Newport News to the Virginia Living Museum. Science girl was all over that. The kids then spent the night with their grandparents while mama and daddy went out on a date. We had dinner at The Blue Talon Bistro, and it was very delicious, quiet and calm. Oddly enough, I had worked at the old Cheese Shop in the same space while in college. This place is that country french casual sort of swanky that is running rampant in Williamsburg today. Above the big bar Julia Child plays constantly on a flat screened television. Thursday night is cassoulet night.

Saturday we joined the family for a chilly walk in Williamsburg, lunch at Berrets, and an afternoon of playing with the kids. Granny fitted Ella for her new colonial gown, and both kids were wearing tricorns with feathers and cockades. Sunday we headed back to Appalachia via Charlottesville and Route 29. Not to continually obsess about food, but we had lunch at Sakura on NW 14th in Charlottesville, and it was fantastic. The kids were gobbling up seaweed salad, udon noodles, sushi, and rice like little starved puppies. The waitress was wearing pants that were eight inches too long and those japanese flip flops with tabis, the white socks. When she wasn't smiling at John and Ella she was doing sodoku.

Good weekend.

ella miranda draws

ella miranda draws, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


crayon, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

dog street walk

four, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

ella gets colonial

tricorn, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

March, Week One and Two, Whales and Dolphins

Discovery Time: painting whales, whale puppets, pin the tail on the whale, paper bag whales, baleen experiment, blubber experiment

Circle Time: Comparing and contrasting whales and fish, comparing and charting whale sizes, teeth versus baleen, learning about whale tails, discovering how whatles stay warm (blubber and migration)

Small Group: subtraction word problems, math workbooks, phonics workbooks ( beginning sounds -f and -g), journal writing

Story Time: As Big as a Whale, A Symphony of Whales, Baby Beluga, The Whales, Big Blue Whale, Amos and Boris, Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?

Week Two More Whales and Dolphins
Discovery Time: dolphin hand puppets, dolphin pod collages, rainbow fish, identifying and coloring whales and dolphins

Circle: Understanding whale dolphin families, communication and echolocation, identifying different types of dolphins

Small Group: recognizing and creating 2-D and 3-D patterns, math workbooks, phonics workbooks (final consonants -m.-d, -f, -g), journal writing

Story: Friendly Dolphins, The Rainbow Fish, I Can Read About Whales and Dolphins, The Magic School Bus and the Ocean Floor, dolphin/whale video excerpt

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

waiting for daddy

waiting for daddy, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

lunch with a horse

lunch with a horse, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Monday, March 12, 2007

spring cleaning, spiritual and otherwise

John continued the attic insulation project this weekend, and I demolished and reconstructed the big storage room in the basement. Isn't it funny the the projects we resist the most are actually fairly simple? All our tools/ home improvement/ lawn things are organized. There were multiple trips to the dump and Goodwill as well. The area under the deck is clean and no longer a eyesore. We dumped the hot tub and put in fresh water. I organized all the children's clothes and room. All my craft supplies are upstairs. On Sunday John holed up in the office to put our finances on Quicken and load last year onto Turbo Tax.

Today I worked on the basement and organized the playroom. I added a few clotheslines to the Ella Gallery and did some urban renewal on the island of Sodor. I cleaned two castles and a theatre. Art supplies are organized, and I have some supply bags going for the marble run we are going to make.

There are still miles to go, but I think we have a fresh start going. I realized how hard it is to move into a new house with a six month old, and we are really just starting to dig into some darker corners. Now if we could just get a bed in the guest room and start our ebay store for the comics and books.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I spent some time with The Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook this week. It is both homey and stylish, and I was wavering with our family's newfound vegetarianism. The sneaky collard might get me through, but I keep thinking about ordering a home cured country ham from a farm in Kentucky. The book is a good read and an inspiration.

This recipe isn't from the Lee Brothers, but it is worth a try.

::Fish Cakes with Paprika Lemon Mayo::

3 cloves of garlic
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 large egg
1/3 cup fine dry breadcrumbs or 3 slices of good bread run through the cuisinart
2 T mayo
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1.5 pounds skinless hake or cod, cut into 2" pieces
6 T olive oil

3/4 cup mayo
1 tsp finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp hot paprika or 1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp salt

In cuisinart, chop garlic, add onion and puree until finely chopped, add coriander, egg, crumbs, mayo, cumin, and salt and pulse to combine. Add fish and puree until finely chopped. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and form fish into 8 patties. Heat 3 T oil in a large skillet until hat and cook four cakes, turning once--about 6 minutes total. Keep warm while frying second batch. Serve on a bed of fresh spring greens with lemon mayo.
We had these with roasted potatoes with parsely and red cabbage cole slaw. They were devoured with relish by children and adults alike. The leftovers made a great sandwich at lunch the next day on toast with the cole slaw.

I am trying. I must have the late winter food blahs because everything I've made since Christmas seems tired and blah. I keep thinking that I just need some inspiration. I have been reading Vegetarian Times and I just subscribed to Cooking Light. Maybe we can make it though on coleslaw till spring. We joined a CSA for organic produce and that starts in late April, and I'm sure I'll be inspired by some fresh spring greens.


pelican shakepeare, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

This book arrived on our doorstep this week. It is gorgeous, beautifully bound, all the good stuff. Then, another big box arrived a few days later. I'm just going to plagiarize Amazon for a minute.

For the first time in audio publishing history, all of Shakespeare's plays are available in one extraordinary, definitive collection. Based on The Complete Pelican Shakespeare, here are all of the master's 38 plays, complete and unabridged, fully dramatized on CDs with an original score and sound design for each play. A monumental project that spanned five years and cost $3 million, The Complete Arkangel Shakespeare represents the collective vision of four people: Shakespeare scholar Tom Treadwell, film producer Bill Shepherd, BBC director Clive Brill, and composer Dominique Le Gendre. Together they have assembled the 400 great actors of the British theater and produced a landmark digital recording with a sophisticated layering of sound that immerses the listener in Shakespeare's world.

The english major in me is hyperventilating. Imagine how much of this the kids could absorb. I'm looking forward to a road trip.

Thanks Joe and Ren.


ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
Today we were listening to the Decemberists and Ella scowls and says, "When can we put on some Beatles?"


drink, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


orchid's cool noodles

2 pounds linguine, cooked
sesame oil, start with maybe 2 tbsp
balsamic vinegar or chinese black vinegar if you have it, 1-2 tbsp
chopped spring onions, one bunch
finely grated fresh ginger, one or two tablespoons
1 tbsp hot oil or ground cayenne to taste, the heat will increase with time

adjust sesame oil and vinegar to taste
let "marinate" overnight

peanut sauce

3 garlic cloves
2/3 bunch cilantro
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp soy sauce
5 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp sherry
1-2 tbsp chili oil (sometimes, if grown ups are going to eat this i'll throw in a seeded serrano or jalapeno)
water to thin while processing

Process in the blender or food processor. Go ahead and double the recipe because it keeps indefinetely. I made the noodles, peanut sauce, and chinese tea eggs for Ella's birthday celebration in October, and it was a huge hit. I serve it on a huge platter using the noodles as a "nest" with the beautiful eggs in the middle. I sprinkle the whole thing with chopped cilantro.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

spring break

The term spring break is a bit odd for me here in Mountaintown. Although the crocuses are blooming, we still have a good ways to go before anything truly warm sets in. Ella's school follows the university schedule, so she is officially on spring break this week. We had Grandmarie for the weekend and the first three days of the week. She was pure salvation for our flu ravaged souls. Who knew you could be saved by a solitary cup of coffee. Or maybe it was the fish cakes. I even got away and got a manicure and pedicure. Decadent. I am.

Ella is still on antibiotics, and big John is still looking skinny and pale. He is still hacking like a tuberculosis patient. That was a bad bug. It laughed at my teas, laughed at my ginger, garlic, and leek soup. The baby seems fully recovered and has even taken to saying a few words this week. Today he held up a finger and said, "ONE".

Ella played with Sasha this morning. She is anxious to get back to school as she only had one day last week. We walked down to the library yesterday and got a nice pile of books. On the way back we picked some pussy willow branches for a vase. The wind was strong but warm on our walk.

I thought I'd accomplish so many things while my mother was here, but I really didn't. Nothing got painted, but I do feel mentally refreshed and ready to tackle some projects. I want to work in the children's room, and I have all of my supplies. They are getting white walls with white trim, new curtain rods, and Ella's bed is getting some vintage inspired scallops around the canopy.

We did make it to the fabric store out in Floyd, and I got some more fat quarters of that great little cat playing the banjo print as well as some other thirties inspired prints. I'm making Ella a name banner of quilt squares for her room. Ri is sewing the children matching sailorish outfits in white and navy. So many projects in the works--that I swear to not buy a single new supply until I catch up.

There are a lot of good things going on here.

Monday, March 05, 2007


eruption!!!!, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


peek a boo, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

slide already

slide already, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


A few days ago when Ella was deep in the flu she was so dear. She had her head on my shoulder and told me that she loved me more than she loved herself. Well, I'm almost missing that flu because the the real Ella is back, back with a vengeance and a runny nose and chapped lips. She is backtalking the broccoli and strewing paper, clothes, and art supplies from stem to stern.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


puzzle, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

second tooth

2 lost, originally uploaded by ellajohn.