Friday, December 31, 2010

happy new year

holiday 001, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

lemon butter

Lemon Butter

2 lemons
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs

Grate the lemon rind and juice the lemons. Put zest, juice, butter, and sugar in a saucepan over LOW heat. Dissolve very slowly. Beat the eggs and stir some of the hot lemon mixture into them. Add egg mixture to saucepan and stir over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Pour into a glass jar, let cool, and refrigerate.

Take time with the cooking, stirring constantly, for a smooth sauce. This can be made in a double boiler.

Grandmum used to say that if one had this sauce in the refrigerator and a pound cake in the pantry one was prepared for almost any situation.

Washing dishes. Making gingerbread.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

christmas 2010

christmas 2010, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

snowruby::christmas 2009

snowruby, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

snowchildren::christmas 2009

snowchildren, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

christmas 2008

always the crazy legs, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

holiday 2008

littles asleep, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

christmas morning

christmas morning, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

christmas 2006

very serious, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

merry making

kiss, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Here is little John in 2006. I had this notion that I'd post a little something every day in December, and that just didn't happen. Apparently, without a camera I've got nothing to say.

We celebrated the solstice last night with a few friends, a fire, a big pot of beans, cornbread, lots of homemade goodies, homebrew, and even some live music. Today I am staying home all day for the first time. Daddy and Ella are out seeing Prince Caspian, and I made latkes for breakfast.

When my children are grown they'll be saying that when they were little it always snowed on Christmas. A storm is headed our way, and I'm thinking about yet another trip to the store just in case we are in for a few days. Today I want to make gingerbread and lemon butter with the children.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The elves picked these up yesterday

mama made, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ruby Claus

Ruby Claus, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thank goodness for friends with cameras because it certainly is hard to run around without a one. Can you believe that this was just a spur of the moment in my friend Donna's kitchen? Her son left his little Santa suit perfectly arranged on the floor in front of the christmas tree.

Donna has been hosting a crafting day each monday, and the waldorf dolls I'm making have, for the most part, been made at her kitchen table or living room floor.She also showed me how to make an Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

John and I are sitting in the midst of a major home renovation. We are sitting on the sofa in the middle of the living room. The fridge is plugged in right behind us, as well as the stove and the toilet. We have a new kitchen floor, and by tomorrow night we'll have new floors in the living room and dining room.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

santa letters

John and Ella wrote their letters today. Ella requests only a electronic violin tuner. How cool is that? John wants a cheetah, a lion, legos, a pretend store for his sister Ruby and an American girl house for his sister Ella.

We enjoyed a snowy weekend with boots and snowpants piled around the door. We made wreaths at the tree farm in Clover Hollow, and I could hear the snow falling on dried leaves. Today we stayed close to home with books from St Nicholas, ornament painting, and Mythbusters.

Friday, December 03, 2010


::I love this humbling post on Obaitori Spiritual Mothering today.

::Reading The Night Before Christmas to 3 tonight.

::My current obsession with robin's egg blue.

::Sitting between the sewing machine and the laptop.

:: I found a recipe for the orange dressing they serve at Japanese restaurants. Fresh ginger root, white miso, sesame oil, 1 carrot, rice wine vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. Puree in the food processor. I can't wait to make a salad with fresh tatsoi, romaine, english cucumber, asparagus, blanched broccoli, and some homemade tamari almonds.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

thanksgiving 2010

thanksgiving 2010, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thanksgiving seems distant as I take a pen to my December calendar. Felting dries on my curtain rods, dolls have bodies, the children have a five foot blue lit christmas tree in their bedroom for a nightlight, and tonight we read Elf on a Shelf for our advent treat.

The ballet was a treat last night. Ella had a wonderful time was was so happy to be out after ten on a school night. We saw the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker, and the show was an elegant and evocative fantasy.

ham and cheese

thanksgiving, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

thanksgiving 2010

thanksgiving 2010, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

time to put up the advent stockings

I just finished my christmas shopping. Now I just need to keep going with my handmade gifts. There is a christmas tree up in the children's room, and Ella and I are going to the Nutcracker tomorrow night.

Monday, November 29, 2010

32 pound bird

How can I post about Thanksgiving without a picture? I still haven't found my camera. I took some at my brother's house with their camera, but I haven't gotten them yet. All in all, we had a nice time. My brother completely stressed out about the gigantic bird and did some last minute indoor/ outdoor cooking. It was perfect and delicious. Ruby put her face down in her plate several times to lick up some glazed tomatoes and then the caramel apple pie.

We spent the night with Grandmarie and then headed north for a weekend with Granny and Grampy and the big Keller Williams show. We drank good coffee and ate pho. The traffic was treacherous and I am very thankful to be home.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

thankskgiving 2006

family, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thanksgiving 2005

Triangle Man, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

thanksgiving 2009

thanksgiving 2009, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

thanksgiving 2007

thanksgiving 2007, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I can't find my camera at the moment so I'll just post this one. The mushroom gravy is made, the tofu is marinating and will go on the grill tomorrow, and the dressing just came out of the oven. We are going over the river and through the woods in the morning.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

'Tis a gift to be simple

thanksgiving feast, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

John's class sang and signed the Shaker hymn "Tis the Gift to be Simple" at the school's Thanksgiving celebration. Ella's class wrote a poem called Happiness. She wrote, "happiness is the love of my family".

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Old Smoothing Iron

Often I watched her lift it
from where its compact wedge
rode the back of the stove
like a tug at anchor

To test its heat she'd stare
and spit in its iron face
or hold it up next her cheek
to divine the stored danger.

Soft thumps on the ironing board
Her dimpled angled elbow
and intent stoop
as she aimed the smoothing iron

like a plane into linen,
like the resentment of women.
To work, her dumb lunge says,
is to move a certain mass

through a certain distance,
is to pull your weight and feel
exact and equal to it.
Feel dragged upon. And buoyant.

Seamus Heaney

Saturday, November 13, 2010


yarn, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I love yarn much more than I know what to do with it, so I finally took a class at a local yarnshop. I've always wanted to take a knitting class. I saw this scarf and took a one hour class in how to make it. It is very simple, but I learned a lot, and I think it is very pretty. It takes one hank of Malbrigo merino worsted wool or Malbrigo Aquarella.

I can knit. I can purl. I just need to learn to follow directions. Ah, life.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


martinmas, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

ella and our lanterns

ella and our lanterns, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

St. Martin's Day, also known as Martinmas, the Feast of St Martin of Tours or Martin le Misércordieux, is a time for feasting celebrations, and traditionally food is served that can be cut in half. The feast day, is November 11, the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, who started out as a Roman soldier. He was baptized as an adult and became a monk. It is understood that he was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold. That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me."

John and Ruby fell asleep in the car tonight, so after they were tucked in their beds, Ella and I made paper lanterns with paper that we had painted. We walked around in our front yard with our candlelit lanterns. Martinmas is often a day for giving, so she took a child's coat in to the donation box at our school.


ruby paints, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


paints, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


wizard, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I did my holiday shopping tonight. I have many little projects to make, but I made my lists and checked them twice. A rock tumbler is headed our way as well as a magical kingdom with knights and dragons and princesses.

Ruby is getting the little red wooden banjo that I forgot last year, and I'm making her a Princess and the Pea playset with a waldorf style doll and a stack of colorful patterned mattresses and a twig ladder. John wants loop de loop cars, and I've just learned that those are called Hot Wheels; I'm going to go get my sweet baby some Hot Wheels.

A dear friend got us tickets for the Moscow ballet on December first, the day that we put up our advent stockings. After Christmas last year I got the kids all of the Jan Brett Holiday books, and I'm going to give them one a day for the first week of December. I'm looking forward to the Advent Garden Celebration with the Unitarian Congregation on December 4th. We'll spend some time at the Christmas tree farm making wreaths for our school and pick out our tree. What do I really want for the season? Peace. Quiet. Candles. Bonfires. The smell of evergreens. I want to watch Fanny and Alexander and make Italian seafood stew. I want to knit. Bake. Be.

The wizard is for Ella's stocking.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


fall, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

john's lunch

john's lunch, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

wet felting with ruby

wet felting with ruby, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


pippi, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

ella john ruby

ella john ruby, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

cat knight pippi

3, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

john takes pictures

john takes pictures, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

John joined the school newspaper planning on becoming a cartoonist, but his first assignment was to take some pictures. He made his first deadline with this one.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

john b

john b, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


walk, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We went to an early Halloween party this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

cable scarf

cable scarf, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

This was my maiden voyage into knitting cables, and maybe I'll be proficient in another few years.

CSA tuesday

CSA tuesday, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

In summer's past I had time to blog about my weekly CSA, waxing poetic about beets and little pear tomatoes. This hefty bag of perfect fall vegetables called out for a picture. There's a pie pumpkin, a kabucha pumpkin,
peppers of all colors, broccoli, bok choy, lettuce, kale, and the whole bottom of the plate is covered in potatoes.

I've been making a special vegetable dish every night. It started with broccoli raab sauteed in butter with sundried tomatoes and topped with roasted hazelnuts. We moved on to quartered brussel sprouts pan roasted with shiitake mushrooms, and then I made farm fresh turnips braised in a miso broth and topped with toasted nori.

I'm thinking about making pumpkin cinnamon rolls this weekend, and I want to try a pumpkin curry with red kidney beans.

What is inspiring your fall cooking?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

rural retreat, virginia

rural retreat, virginia, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

pumpkin wagon

pumpkin wagon, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

the perfect pumpkin

the perfect pumpkin, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Saturday we had a family day at yet another pumpkin patch, this time with an old school bus full of corn kernels to play in, kettle corn, big slides, and a pumpkin canon. We bought some apples, apple cider, and apple butter.

big pumpkin

big pumpkin, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Here is one more irresistible shot from the school field trip.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


little, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


john, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


hayride, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ruby's ride

ruby's ride, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We took a few rides down by the river last weekend. After talking about getting everyone on wheels for a very long time, we have finally arrived. Young John can ride the tagalong or his own bike with training wheels, Ella speeds along, and Ruby is tucked right behind Mama with her hands in the air shouting, "Faster, faster."

It feels good to have my own bicycle.


ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I like nine. Nine is reading about four books at the same time, which she leaves bookmarked in various rooms of the house so that she can walk into a room and immerse herself in seconds. She never hears us calling her.

She can't seem to schedule herself to play her violin and get her homework done, so now she is making little to do lists the minute she gets up, and she reminds me so much of her daddy. They can both work a list.

She read her first Nancy Drew mystery yesterday.

Monday, October 11, 2010

birthday girl

climb, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


IMG_4009, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


x lily, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We went back to the Unitarian church today, and Ruby wanted to go to "my own classroom". I took her to the nursery for the hour while the other children went to their religious education classes on their own. It is quite a process to get all of them comfortable enough for me to actually sit with the grownups.

Daddy is home from Scotland, jet lagged and anxious for the mountain of laundry to be ready for the week. I'm just feeling lucky to have survived a week of fevers and chills, Annie's Mac and Cheese, and too many episodes of The Magic School Bus.

Ella's birthday is saturday. Nine. She is very nine, too. For Christmas all she wants is a rock tumbler. I've rented a shelter in the park, and she is worried that the leaves haven't turned enough for her party. Even nature has to work hard to make everything perfect for her day. We ordered a bushel of apples for games, and I'm getting applesauce cake cupcakes with maple frosting.

I just ordered a lot of dollmaking supplies from Joy's Dolls and Crafts. So far I'm making five dolls for the holidays, and I'm excited about being another step closer to my D90 dreams. Or my D5000 dreams.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

the sky is rainbowing

the sky is rainbowing, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Have I mentioned that this little person is absolutely loving every minute of kindergarten? Here he is showing me his Holographic Diffraction Grating Glasses.

I am loving being a red room mama for the second time. I can sit back and feel the magic. He is in the perfect place for him and is so in the moment. After school today he really only wanted to draw, write, and practice the ASL alphabet.

baking day

baking day, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Ruby and I made lentil soup and oatmeal bread today.