Grateful Tree

I read this post awhile back and tucked the idea away for our Thanksgiving holiday week off from school.

Thanksgiving may be an American holiday, but I thought this tree of gratitude appropriate for anyone this time of year as we enter the holiday season. Actually, holiday or not, this tree could grace the home any time of year in function of the season.

I love the project for so many reasons: it’s for anyone; I did not purchase anything but gathered from outside and inside; ev added the word grateful to her vocabulary; the tree is dynamic always open for new ornaments or tickets of thanks, never quite finished.

We’ve left a vase of tickets ready for all guests who pass through our home to share their thanks.grateful

pussy willow seedtree stars tree thankful threadingstars tree


Jack O’ Lanterns

Jack o’ lantern Jack o’ lantern I love you

You don’t fly and you don’t say ‘boo’

You just sit all day, keeping goblins far away.

Carving jack o’ lanterns remains a favorite childhood memory. I always loved creating a face to carve a personality.

Ev decided a grin would light up our pumpkin this October, and I gave her the fantastic photographic book  pumpkins by Ken Robbins to help her choose. The last page in the book depicts several different ones.

I took a sequence of photos during the step-by-step process. I will print them and place them out-of-order in a basket as an activity for a chilly and spooky night under the glow of our jack o’ lantern.

slimy seeds!

I think a seed roasting sequence is in order too!

Hello Fall.

ImageEv jumped out of bed this morning and dashed out of the room to check if fall had arrived. Yesterday we declared summer’s last day as we waited autumn’s equinox. But, before she made it outside, I heard an exclamation of a yellow leaf in our house. I wondered how a leaf had made its way in and yellow at that. “Come see, mamma!”

I arrived only to be reminded of my orchid’s fate. What a fall welcome!

Happy Autumnal Equinox! We munched a crispy apple this morning on the way home from the supermarket and are already dreaming of spooky Halloween costumes.

Borscht: Russian Beetroot Soup

Soup graces our dinner table at least twice a week. I find it to be one of the easiest, tastiest ways to pack nutrients into one healthy dish.  To open my email and find a Russian Borscht recipe from a dear friend warmed my day. (I believe this is the real deal as she’s from Russia) Reading this recipe in her own words felt like we were side-by-side in her kitchen, over tea, chatting about good food and simple recipes to feed our children.

I wish I still lived near my friend to borrow the potato that's missing. My beetroot was yellow making a light broth.

Put the beef (cubes or on the bone) in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook until tender .

 Once the beef is tender, add shredded cabbage and small potato cubes

In the frying pan, fry onions and carrot, add beetroot grated on a big grater. Once cooked, add can of chopped tomatoes (or peeled fresh tomatoes) and cook for further 5 min.  

When the cabbage and potato are cooked, add the fried onions, carrots and beetroot into the pan & cook for 5 more minutes on low heat. Then cover & let rest for 5 min.  

Serve with a teaspoon of creme freche and fresh chopped dill.

P.S I don’t always use beetroot. The result is just as nice, but the color is a bit different. You can make a vegetarian option without any meat.

With cabbage and beetroots still plenty in the markets, Borscht will be our soup of the week until spring fully blooms.

This recipe is tasty and cozy, one that makes you feel at home. I hope mine gets a Russian wink of approval!

Themed Memory Games: Make one in 10 Minutes

Most of our games and puzzles are still en route from Dubai. I wish we had our sweet wooden memory game. It’s been a boring day. Park and a movie didn’t cut it. I glanced at the stack of art supplies, folded an index card into three even squares and grabbed the scissors. With ten minutes and a glance at our “Autumn Leaves” book for some help, I had my own fall-themed memory game.  I suppose you could laminate and get sophisticated with the images. But for 10 minutes of my time, I am satisfied with this engaging game.

Winter and Christmas themes will make nice matches too. But I am going to wait for the calendar to turn December before tackling Christmas. We are still enjoying Fall.

Read Autumn, A Book for Young Children

While we boxed up our belongings for our move from Dubai, ev found the Christmas snowmen family and asked about winter. She remembered the stories Auntie Star, from cold New England, had told her about snow, hats, scarves and boots.  It was actually fall, but Dubai’s desert climate would never let you know it. So, I rummaged through our book stash yet found no binds to illustrate autumn for ev.  I recommended author Chris Demarest’s “Summer” book in a previous summer post. His “Autumn” book is equally charming, yet lacking the details ev enjoys, as she matures into a three-year-old.

Then, just today, I discovered a treasure at the library. The author/photographer is Ken Robbins, and his book is called “Autumn Leaves”. This beautiful primer on trees and their leaves (shown life-size) deserves a place in any small child’s autumn book list. Actually, I learned a few clues myself.  I was excited to discover a Linden tree whose leaves “are rather large and shaped like hearts” on the stroll we took just after our inspiring read (I’m pretty sure it was a Linden anyway).

the linden leaves we found and a little paint will make great leaf prints

I just wish we had known about Robbins pre-Halloween.  His book “pumpkins” looks fallish and perfectly spooky. I plan to check it out anyway; autumn isn’t over yet!

Autumn’s Apples and Caramel

I’ve noticed how I avoid apples as a snack for ev. Probably because I, myself, find them so boring. Or, probably, because they have become as staple a fruit as rice is a grain. They are always available. The thing is, apples are really delicious in season, and lately, we have been munching on the macintosh variety like they’re going out of season. I decided that our fruit bowl will be home to Autumn’s pomme only during the fall; that, ev could find apples just as interesting as summertime cherries if we enjoy them in their peak.

To welcome fall’s fruit, caramel apples have been in the back of my mind since the first days of autumn. I read this recipe on the Babyccino Blog and have made them twice now.  Even though ev prefers swiping the caramel drippings and piercing the apples with as many bamboo sticks that she can manage (we could do a porcupine apple craft ), I’d say they’re a hit!