Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Kid's Craft Weekly

Let's Go Shopping is the theme over at Kid's Craft Weekly if the littles are feeling bored over at your house. Yours truly is the featured subscriber blog over there, so that's why these pages are feeling a bit warm today. Amber always has inspiring "make your own" ideas, creative games, and interesting shopping.

Doesn't The Little School need that Kinderkram theatre/shop? We are opening a new preschool and I've been looking for sturdy natural toys and materials to stock our room.

According to Ella a towel makes a perfect conveyor belt for getting the groceries from the cart to the cash register.

Monday, July 30, 2007

john and grace::floyd fest

john and grace::floyd fest, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

John Deere

Sometimes you just get on a tractor and end up in the paper. And Isacc's there too. Ella feel out of that hammock and her head made a clonking sound on the ground. There are many stories to tell, but for now I'm going to go sleep in an actual bed with no late night drumming.

And more here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


We are tiptoeing off the grid until sunday night. With nothing but nylon between us and the daily chance of showers and thunderstorms. By off the grid I merely mean no cell phones and computers. There are showers and toilets, thai food, and oyster sandwiches. And the Duhks.

I made cucumber gin gimlets:
3 oz cucumber infused gin
3/4 oz rose's lime juice
cucumber slices for garnish

To make the cucumber infused gin you put two peeled and thinly sliced cucumbers in a bottle of gin for two days and then drain.

I bet Martha never had to serve these out of a purple nalgene water bottle.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Happy Book, 1965

happy book, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

This was one of my favorite books when I was a little girl, and I just found a copy on Ebay for John and Ella. My original is coming apart, but I was thinking of framing a page or two for their room. We were at a cookout at Judy's house, and she pulled out a quilt with all the fabrics that were used in the illustration of this book. It was like Proust's madeleine. It was one of those quilts that was printed on one piece of fabric and then machine quilted, and now I'm wondering how I could find the fabric.

Monday, July 23, 2007

chickaroo 2007

Ella made us a flag for our campsite this weekend. Guitars, banjos and fiddles. Chickaroo is our codeword. We have been getting crafty around here this week, reminding me that next summer we'll have fewer camps and more home projects. Tonight we made bead necklaces to wear this weekend. We had seen some Native American bead and leather hair ornanments in Jamestown, so we made something similar.

The Little School has a building!

school, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
No, a real one. Not this one in my herb garden. One with big windows and a view of a mountain.

a little lamb at school

a little lamb at school, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


The corn pudding was perfect. Imagine, if I'd only remembered to put in the basil. Luckily, twenty four more ears are showing up on tuesday. I know, I'm a little overenthusiastic about vegetables. For those of you who thought the pudding recipe a bit rich, remember that we only eat vegetables. That pudding was our steak, so four eggs and a cup of half and half goes quite a ways. I sometimes eat meat in restaurants, but at home we are pretty much bean eaters. Daddy is a full time vegetarian; the children and I dabble in country ham while visiting southern relations. We eat fish, but we are far from the sea and a bit frugal. Anyway, I served the pudding with bean burritos and a salad plate of sliced tomatoes, vidalia onions, and chopped cilantro. Bigs and littles all ate heartily.

I just watched Lost in Translation. I'm having trouble getting to bed at a reasonable hour this summer. I'm seven minutes past the witching hour of midnight. The mornings come fast and furious. Ella has swimming lessons tomorrow, so I'm taking John to work. Little John is walking on his foot again, but sometimes he has a bit of a limp. It seems to improve throughout the day. Last night it was hurting him in the night. I have been massaging his foot and lower leg, but it is centered between his toes and his heel.


corn, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Mrs Tiggy-Wiggle Eating my pansies


2, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Here they are watching Sesame Street with Ethan.


corn, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
We got twenty four ears of local corn in our CSA bag, and the only reason that it isn't gone is that I was too busy to walk down to Annie Kay's for cream. The children shucked all the corn, and we ate a good bit of it boiled on the cob for dinner. For lunch I cooked some in a skillet with garlic and basil. Tomorrow the last of it goes into Corn Pudding With Basil from Gourmet, July 2007. My mother made the fried green tomatoes from the Lee Brother's cookbook tonight, and I was thinking that these two recipes would make the perfect dinner with sliced tomatoes, and a bowl of sliced cucumbers and onions with vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Friday, July 20, 2007

double flubber

Back when Miss Ella was two years old we learned how to make flubber at OMSI in Portland. Here is the recipe. Flubber is a polymer made by a chemical reaction. Polymers are very long chains of repeating units. When the two solutions are combined, polyvinyl acetate chains (a polymer from the white glue) are linked together in a 3-dimensional arrangement by borate ions (from the Borax) and other chemical bonds. This produces the thick, sticky polymer called Flubber.

After thinking about my experience with camp I emailed the private school where I have Ella on the waiting list for first grade. I was going to try out the public kindergarden, but I think I just got my first peek at the status quo. I'll start planning the bank robbery.

I'll take a moment to bitch about chemistry camp

Apparently science is not any bigger in the big city. I signed Ella up for chemistry camp at the Science Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke this past week. It was only for three days, 6 hours, and let me tell you what they did. A whole lot of nothing.

So, I know that the camp was for four and five year olds. It was billed as "chemistry" and promised gooey hands on experiments, mixtures, potions, I don't know. The campers disappeared behind a door after being signed in. There was little to no communication with parents. The first day my friend took Ella because I was taking the baby in for X rays. They made some flubbery rubbery clay, the kind with borax. Then they painted a watercolor. Well, we have made play doh before. The borax kind, the salt kind, and the cream of tartar kind. It isn't really chemistry is it? She did talk a bit about chemical reactions, and they did wear lab coats.

On the second day they really got scientific by making bubbles. Bubbles, people. With glycerin. Lame. There was another art project, not chemistry related. Day three. I'm driving an hour for this. I could have done better than this with my dusty old english and art history degrees. On day three they made ice cream and painted with something foamy and plasticky. Well, ice cream does change from a liquid to a solid. They were going to make jello, but they ran out of time. They brought home some glow sticks as well. So here we are. We haven't learned much, we have eaten sugar and brought home plastic, two of my pet peeves. And I paid money for this. Oh, they were supposed to get a camp t-shirt, but then for some reason they didn't.

Ella was not at all unhappy. Two of her friends were in the class, and she met some new people. She liked her teacher and enjoyed the adventure of going to the science museum. We got to go out for sushi and fresh peach milkshakes.

Four and five year olds are preschoolers, but they are ready to actually learn something if presented with a challenge. Ella did say that she was disappointed that nothing had smoked. If we are wondering why our country falls behind in science and math, just look at our expectations for our young people. Science museum, you let her down, and I'll be telling you all about it in the evaluation.

blue ridge growers, CSA week ten

Zucchini/squash– Five Penny

Carrots – Moon Indigo

Salad Mix – Moon Indigo

Chives – Full Circle

Cherry Tomato Mix – Moon Indigo

Local Corn


gate, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

land of the dragons

ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

ready to go

ready to go, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


happy man, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

how i roll

how i roll, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

This is at the Kidsburg playground in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was a wonderful wooden/ recycled playspace with a separate fenced in area for children aged two to five.

Meme, Me

Smokey Mountain Breakdown: 8 Random Facts Meme

Rosie, I'm breaking the rules as well, but there are more than enough random facts to go around.

1. I love the smell of skunk. I will roll down the car windows at the first whiff of a skunk. I also love the smell of candlesmoke and woodsmoke.

2. I used to know a guy named Tim in Williamsburg who lived next door to where Georgia O'Keefe lived in 1902. He was obsessed with all things Asian, and made me my first pot of Thai red chili shrimp. It was absolutely incendiary. One night a small crowd of us smoked some opium and I spent the rest of the night sitting in a honeysuckle covered ditch talking about Thomas Pynchon. It was one of those profoundly humid nights in Tidewater, Virginia that never seems to truly get dark.

3. My husband and I were friends for twelve years before we ever went on a date. He used to date a friend of mine, well, two friends of mine. At one point I asked someone, "Why is she dating him?; He isn't the kind of guy you date...he is the kind of guy you marry. "

4. I swam in the James River within sight of the nuclear power facility. Being in Williamsburg this past week reminded me of many of my youthful indiscretions.

5. I would like to have more children, but I think that I am too old.

6. I once went to the Mozart Festival in Salzburg, Austria.

7. I have a driving phobia that I am slowly conquering. I didn't drive for five years when I lived in Portland.

8. I love cemeteries.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


jamestown, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
We are back in the Blue Ridge after five nights in Williamsburg with Granny. I have over a hundred pictures to upload, so that is going to take a few days.


ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
Looking at the oyster shell sidewalk.


colonial, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

blue ridge growers CSA. week nine

French Fingerling Potatoes
Salad Mix

I'm going to pack a cooler to take to Williamsburg with us.

Monday, July 09, 2007

my life in france

my life in france, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Before I had children I always read at least one book a week. Five years later my average is way down but improving. My mother's book club is reading this one, and it is just wonderful. I have Mastering the Art of French Cooking out as well. Julia is like a good glass of champagne. Now I want to cook something saucy.


Ella requested a white room. She probably requested pink or purple first, but since she'll be sharing a room with her little brother for at least another year I thought that pink would be a bit much. I thought it was a small room until I started painting. I did the wood trim in gloss white as well as the closet door. Three days in this room, and there are still several hours of touch ups left to do. It does look very fresh and pretty, and I put put up some pegboard on the brick chimney for hanging her dress ups or a cool vintage dress.
I'm going to make two more of my "toadstools" for this room, oak logs about eight inches tall with fabric cushions that look like mushrooms. I need something for the wall over John's bed to unify the two parts of the room. Maybe we can paint something. I stained the new lower floor of the dollhouse, four new rooms for my old dollhouse. My father built it for me in the seventies, and both Ella and John spend a lot of time playing with it. The extentions on the sides are going to be gardens. Did you see the Mies Van der Rohe house (June 29, 2007)over at Sweet Juniper? Oh, I was dying. Ella wants her house be look like an English country house. Heavily decorated.
For today, the little world is fresh and stacked and put away.
We are off to Williamsburg with Granny until sunday. I'm taking The Poisonwood Bible, walking shoes, and a box of scrapbooking.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

john turns forty

Homemade cards by ella :: pocky :: gardening :: clogs for the shower :: oil lamp for camping :: camp coffeepot :: arrabiatta :: strawberry ice cream pie with whipped cream and sliced strawberries :: candles :: singing :: kiss kiss ::happy birthday, baby

Saturday, July 07, 2007

floyd country store

We went out to the store to hear some old time music last night. It was packed to the gills. The best show was in the alley outside, along with the the sunset, the skunk in the backyard, and the dog named Minnie.

Friday, July 06, 2007

girl, put your records on

fisher price 1978, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I won one on ebay. Finally. Shhhhh. For Ella. Now I'm looking for 45s.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

fifth of july

fifth of july, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We went out to the town fireworks last night. Ella really loves a good "Vanale". Tonight she and John took a big bag of fireworks out to the end of the driveway, and John became the most popular dad in the neighborhood.


john, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


smalls, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


cool, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

veggie booty, week eight

veggie booty, week eight, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

This week's CSA bag contained yellow and zucchini squash, swiss chard, scallions, lettuce, kale, and carrots.

Monday, July 02, 2007


"Grandmarie, make sure you keep your tail on straight."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Zinnias and Eggplant

Zinnias and eggplant. Summer must really be here, and there must be a tomato just around the bend. I planted a flat of zinnias and mixed in some eggplant in the front border. Maybe the groundhogs will get confused. If nothing else, scarlet and purple look good together. I have a feeling that most of my eggplant will come from the oasis market, the long violet chinese ones and the round dark purple indian variety.

There are eight weeks left of summer. The current week is all about painting, organizing, and cooking. Then there is a week in Williamsburg with Granny, a camp in Roanoke, a long weekend in Floyd, music camp, a week of swimming lessons.. Where are all those lazy days I was thinking about? We will sneak them in before Ella starts kindergarden. gulp.