Thursday, May 31, 2007

links for later, school website models

clean your basket

clean your basket, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

last day of preschool

class, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

note to self

Cait's Sangria
(hope this isn't the secret recipe)

-2 bottles cheap white wine (pinot grigio or similar, the Target box wine is perfect) 1 bottle cheap champagne or Italian Prosecco 1/2 bottle sprite or 7-up or Gingerale 1/2 bottle club soda (lemon-lime flavor)

the fruit

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Ella and her friend were talking in the back seat while I was driving to the farmer's market.

Friend: "Do you like Mary Kate and Ashley Olson?"
Ella:"I don't know."

Ella: "Do you like Ladybird Johnson?"
Friend: "I don't know."

I was proud as heck of Ella when she explained why we were driving to the Farmer's Market after her friend offered some information about how Wal-Mart was much closer. Ella very politely explained that "in our family" we don't eat food that could possibly have pesticides and chemicals on it because they might be poisonous.

This is unrelated but John Lennon's piano was at the market, and I wanted Ella to see it. It travels around the country to sites of violence and it is currently at the Squires Center at Virginia Tech. Imagine.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

hitting his stride

stride, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

There are only three more days of school, so I thought I'd take some photos there each day. Jenny helped John make a caterpillar cap. He was quite happy to have a marker at the table with the big kids. He holds his writing implement well which will serve him well in future years. He was concerned that he had written on the tablecloth and had to be reassured that it was fine. He does not seem to have that concern at home. His favorite place at preschool is in housekeeping, that and the Plan City garage.

John may not have found his voice, but he has certainly found his volume button. This week he is testing out all the sounds he can make and enjoying the resulting noise.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


browns, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


After dinner tonight the children and I were sitting on the porch when a little brown rabbit with white spots hopped down the driveway and paused at the top of the stairs. If John could have said the word rabbit he would have. He was pointing incredulously.... mere hours after seeing The Velveteen Rabbit.

All three children were very attentive during the play. It was sweet and well done. We talked to the rabbit after lunch. Ella never likes strangers in costumes. It is always nice to hear the sections of the story that were read at our wedding. After getting up at five thirty this morning I'm feeling pretty shabby myself tonight.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I went to kindergarden today to fill out some paperwork and was strangely happy with the experience. The principal was young and well spoken, and Ella's class will have fifteen students. In the office every child that came in was welcomed by name in a heartfelt way. Children were sitting in little reading nooks in the hallways reading quietly. It was shabby yet homey. Driving over there I was ready to see yet another manifestation of redneck Mayberry. I was ready to reveal that I have already signed Ella up for the private school for the first grade, but I kept that one to myself. The custodian came in so cheerfully to help a little boy get his glue open with some pliers. I remembered Mr. Wilson who used to open stuck thermoses when I was in school.

Tomorrow we are skipping school and going to Abingdon to the Barter Theatre to see The Velveteen Rabbit with Isaac.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

hold on tight

hold on tight, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

A certain young lady is turning five, and she had some friends over today to play and eat frozen yogurt cake and talk about bugs. John was a tag-along, but he was much indulged and fussed over. Our hosts had put up a swing for him, and spent the afternoon pulling wagons, being pulled in wagons, sliding, climbing, eating blueberries, and being rubbed down with spf 55. The weather was phenomenal, and the view of the mountains was amazing. There was a post cake dessert called "landfill". At one point I think I referred to it as compost. The kids were giddy with the concept. There were gummy worms mixed into chocolate pudding with some sort of crushed cookies---dirt, worms, and trash.

party wagon

party wagon, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


swing, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


buttercups, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

He said "flower" on sunday.

Monday, May 14, 2007


poppy, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


hikers, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

wild flowers

wild flowers, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Here is our backyard. This gentle arc of wildflowers makes it just about perfect this time of year. We mow a path down to the creek and the compost pile, but that is about it. The birds here are amazing. This week we have had many rose breasted grossbeaks and indigo buntings. We got a new finch feeder and the little stools are lined up below the bathroom window for goldfinch viewing. The house wrens also seem to love that maple tree outside the bathroom window. I think they may have nested in the wall of our house last year, but we have been diligent with filling in all the knot holes in the cedar this year.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Farmer Marketing

Ella said that Jenny was absent today because she had to go take a class on farmer marketing. First there was farmshoring, now there is farmer marketing. (This coming from the little girl who taught me that "mice" are a "whole bunch of mouses".)

Speaking of farmer marketing, our CSA starts on tuesday and I'm so excited for the weekly vegetable horde. There was talk of baby lettuce, arugula, turnips, and radishes

I got some kale last week at the market, and I cooked it this way.

Miso Braised Kale

Big bag of kale
four cloves of garlic, minced or microplaned
knob of ginger, one inch
tablespoon of miso ( I used some dashi miso which has the smoky dried bonito in it, but any organic red or white miso would be good) blend miso paste with a 1/2 cup water
1 tbsp of olive oil
sesame seeds

saute garlic and ginger in the olive oil
add washed chopped greens, stirring and flipping so that the garlic doesn't burn
when the kale is almost limp add the miso mixed with the water. Add enough water to keep the bottom of the pan covered for ten minutes. You can put the top on. In the last few minutes let the water evaporate almost completely.
Sprinkle with good soy or tamari; I use the dark mushroom soy sauce
Sprinke with freshly toasted sesame seeds

school of rock

In Defense of Dandelions and Fairies, Week One

Discovery-examination and dissection of common backyard wildflowers, fingerpainting dandelions, sponge print violets, live plant pressing ground ivy, cut and paste fleabane, sweetened condensed milk painting buttercups

Circle- history, uses and songs about backyard wildflowers

Small groups-geometry (2 D shapes), math workbooks, classmate bingo, writing in journals, cut and paste flower parts, wildflower walk with collecting bags, Mother's Day surprises

Stories- A Dandelion's Life, Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers, The Tiny Seed, Planting a Rainbow, The Reason for a Flower, Dandelions

In Defense of Dandelions and Fairies, Week Two
Discovery Time- Fairies in the Garden Painting, The Unicorn and the Lilacs cut and paste, Barney Foo Foo Fairy Puppets, Flower Fairies, Fairy Houses

Circle-Unicorn and Lilac Story, movie "Kristen's Fairy House", a study of Fairy Houses, Flower

Small Group- geometry (3-D), math workbooks, attribute blocks, reading practice, writing in journals, Fairies and Elves Game, Alphabet Fairies

Stories-Kristen's Fairy House, A Fairy Went A-Marketing, Chipmunk Song, Rabbit Spring, Fairy Houses Everywhere


pond, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We went for a walk here this afternoon. John sobbed. Isaac was tired and grumpy. Ella was bossy. I was sweaty and my t-shirt was too tight. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. We did see a snake on the trail after preaching to Ella about watching out for snakes. This place is a snake paradise. My pictures are out of focus, but here he is.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

if wishes were horses

Ella jumped onto my lap last night and proclaimed that wishes do not come true. She has been wishing on eyelashes, wishing wells, and dandelions, and not one of her wishes has come true.

Apparently she always wishes for giant fruits and cakes, as in six foot bananas and cakes the size of our living room. And she never tells her wish.

yep, grit blog


Awendaw is one of the most delicious legacies of the native cuisine.. The following recipe is slightly enriched by a little extra butter and egg- and gussied up just a bit by beating the egg whites separately – but otherwise it is the real McCoy. A completely nontraditional variation is delicious: fold in 1 cup of chopped, blanched fresh asparagus with the egg whites. Serve as a midday dish or a separate dinner course with a green salad.

9” cake pan, greased
Preheat oven to 375*\

1 cup Plain cooked grits ( Old fashioned ones that take a long time to cook)
2 tbs. Butter
¾ cup milk
3/4 cup white cornmeal
3/4tsp. Salt
3 eggs, separated

Combine the cooked grits, butter, and milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan and slowly bring to the boiling point, stirring constantly.
Add the cornmeal all at once, remove from the heat and beat well. Reserve until lukewarm. Beat in the salt and the 3 egg yolks.

Beat the egg white until stiff and fold in to the batter. Pour into a greased 9” pan and bake in a preheated oven at 375* about 20 minutes, until puffed and just brown. Serve hot with butter.

Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie by Bill Neal who also wrote Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking. Bill was born and grew up in SC and later graduated form Duke and did graduate work at UNC, Chapel Hill. He cooked at La Residence and at Crook’s Corner. He edited the work of Elizabeth Lawrence in THROUGH THE GARDEN GATE. His three children , friends, and those of us who cherish southern cookery mourn his early death.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Aunt Lola's Spoon Bread

Aunt Lola’s Spoon Bread

1 slice of bread, crust off
4 cups milk
1 cup corn meal
3 eggs
1Tbs. Butter
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking powder

Heat 2 cups of milk with the bread and cornmeal to boiling, stirring well. Remove form heat and add slowly to beaten eggs, Add butter and other 2 cups of milk. Sprinkle baking powder and salt over the top and beat into the batter quickly. Bake in a greased 2 qt. Casserole dish 55-60 min. at 350*

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Ella had a big spider in her room this morning, so I caught it for her in a mason jar. She brought it downstairs to show off and John took one look at it and went to the bookshelf. He brought his father two books, The Itsy Bitsy Spider and Miss Spider's Listening Walk. He likes to keep a few reference books on hand.

Yesterday afternoon I took the children to the Pond with a few playgroup friends. The cool mist was hanging at the ridgeline, but it didn't rain. The baby geese were yellow green, and the children found a lot of good insects in the damp leaves. We saw some beautiful black cup mushrooms filled with rainwater. The Portlandish weather had been easy on the eyes and good for all my plants.

The garden is looking especially lush with the rain and all the new additions. There are more perennials to come this week from Vermont. My sister in law sent me a gift certificate for plants for my impending birthday, and I ordered more than I can even recall. I'm ordering a truckload of mulch this week, and the house is being painted towards the end of May. Then we'll have a few pictures.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

blue ridge mountains and fractions

Yesterday Ella took this piece of paper and wrote 1/2 on each side. Then she found the scissors and cut it in half. She held it up proudly and asked me if she could explain this to me. Fractions. She loves them. Thirds, fourths. Oh, Judy, I could kiss you.
I know, I haven't written much lately. It is for your own good. Living in my head hasn't been particularly fun lately. I am a bitter old hag, but I'm working on it.