Camping love


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There is nothing like getting together with like-minded people to enjoy nature and let your children run barefoot and free. This past weekend we went up the mountain to a low elevation campground with seven other families from our homeschool group. We had children from 8 months to 17 years old. People always worry about “socialization”, well all those kids of different age ranges played together the whole weekend (except the baby).

It was such a beautiful weekend of connection and exploration. We connected with each other, nature and with ourselves. The weather was gorgeous: cool nights warranting a bonfire and warm days allowing short sleeves and barefeet.

I led a hike up to a saddle where you could look out over the Southeastern portion of Arizona. Once again we all helped each other up the mountain, everyone making sure the people around them were safe and someone always had a buddy.

There was a bit of nature art making too.

Before the trip was even over people began to ask when we could go again. Even I was wondering and planning the same thing.

Oh and the stars, so many stars.

Posted in Natural Parenting, Travels | 1 Comment

In My Garden

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Welcome to my April garden! Things are looking pretty lovely and green around here. The tomato plants are growing tall, kale is overwhelming me and we eat chard just about everyday.

As I walked around my garden yesterday evening taking pictures for you I realized that I’ve got a lot of plants mixed together and you might wonder why if you don’t already know. I’m trying my best this year to use companion planting to advantage. This means planting things next to each other that are friendly. For example in the picture below you’ll see beans, eggplants, marigolds and okra. All of which apparently like one another. By planting a variety of plants together they help one another grow by either bringing up nutrients from deep in the soil, repelling pest, or attracting pest to them and not the other plants, providing shade to smaller plants, or attracting the good bugs, the pollinators.

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This weekend was “start the chicken coop” weekend. We are using a dog run as chicken run and then building a coop big enough for 8-10 chickens inside that. There is still A LOT to do so I will make it a separate post. :)

DSC06272Here is the view from the blue gate. There is a bed with nothing in it over there on the right. Once there is enough heat I will put in tomatillos, but right now we’ve been having really cool nights and warmish days that aren’t quite warm enough for them. DSC06270Some new Spanish lavender!

DSC06269More companion planting: onions, tomatoes and lettuce.

DSC06268Cucumbers!

DSC06267DSC06266Finally enough strawberries for everyone to have some one! DSC06264This is the space where the big headcheese winter squash will be planted later in the summer. See that rosemary bush? D managed to keep everything alive but that rosemary. He watered the potatoes to the left and sunflowers to the right but didn’t look in the middle….DSC06262DSC06260I’m going to have coriander seeds until 2020!

DSC06259DSC06258DSC06257DSC06246 DSC06243 DSC06241I want to say one thing as I enter my 6th year of gardening: growing lots of food is hard work. When people write blog posts about how easy it is… sure having one 4×4 bed is easy, but actually feeding your family is way different. It’s good work though, one that I love. If I were to equate it to a job that pays money rather than food I would say I work between 10 and 15 hours a week in the garden.

I know that the snow is finally melted in the North, or melting. Tell me what you are dreaming of growing this year!

Posted in Garden | 14 Comments

Bits of the week

IMG_0971 IMG_0985 IMG_1016 IMG_0966 IMG_0974 IMG_1025 IMG_1028 IMG_1029Ahh, the end of the week. This week was filled with lots of lovely things:

  • homemade sourdough bread
  • maple pecan ice cream
  • the biggest chard leaf yet
  • nature goodies from far away friends
  • lots of dog time
  • a birthday party for a stuffed bunny
  • silly hat time
  • time with friends
  • time for learning new things and remembering old things
  • cooking lots of cooking
  • morning yoga
  • teaching the girls yoga
  • time for reading
  • time for crafting
  • time for reflection

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend whatever that may mean to you.

 

Posted in Life Learning | 9 Comments

There and Back Again

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Before we had kids, D and I loved to travel. We’ve been all over the world. We still love to travel and haven’t let kids stop us. We’ve traveled around the US and even taken them to Europe. I wrote a series of posts a while back about tips for traveling with children and one thing I want to add is Sparkle Stories. I don’t know that the girls would be such good travelers if it weren’t for all the audio stories we listen too thanks to Sparkle stories. I have over 200 stories on my phone that allowed us to listen to various Sparkle Stories for 8 hours straight. Now you might wonder how I could stand to listen to children’s stories for 8 hours? Well I’ll tell you, they are enjoyable for both adults and children. The girls love the Martin and Sylvia stories the most because they are homeschoolers and are close to their age. V told me on our recent road trip that she loves Martin and Sylvia because they can be “total goofballs”. We also love the Junkyard tales about a group of animals living a in junkyard as a community helping each other.

We’ve been sparkle listeners for the last 3 and half years and we are totally hooked. I like listening to them because they are engaging yet calming. I like learning parenting tips from Martin and Syliva’s parents. I like the way they parent their children because that’s they way I aspire to parent my own. I like that they live a similar lifestyle to us so that my girls can have a positive influence. It is very hard to find stories about homeschooling or natural living and this is a great source.  Of course Sparkle Stories appeal to schoolers as well. They are for everyone really.

I see Sparkle Stories as a major force for good change in children’s media and so I am happy to help announce that they are launching a Kickstarter campaign to create a Sparkle Stories App. You can help make this happen by going here.

Everyone gets a reward, no matter what they give.  We have a darling summertime story that will be emailed out within a day of the pledge.

There’s a Martin & Sylvia Audio Book that you can only find in this Kickstarter Campaign.

The VERY FIRST Sparkle T-shirts are available too!

The first 50 people that give $12 and over will get a custom mp3 Thank You Note from a favorite Sparkle Stories character!

Pretty neat huh?!

Thanks for listening and check them out you will love Sparkles Stories I just know it!

Posted in Sponsors | 4 Comments

Climbing Through History

DSC06161DSC06169DSC06167DSC06164DSC06163DSC06174 DSC06178 DSC06188 DSC06189 DSC06191DSC06196 DSC06198 DSC06206 DSC06212 DSC06213 DSC06216 DSC06223 DSC06233 DSC06234 DSC06236New Mexico, like Arizona, is rich in history of native peoples. There are so many sites you can visit to see how people lived 500 years ago.  Last week while we were in New Mexico, my mom and I took the girls to Bandelier National Monument. Frijoles canyon was inhabited by the ancestral pueblo people between 1300-1500 BCE. So there was a lot of history to look at.

At the visitor center we picked up the junior ranger pre-k to 1st grade work book and completed it along our hike. My mom is a tour guide and expert on Southwest history, so we had a great time asking questions. We even found out that they used juniper bark for baby diapers!

By far the best part of Bandelier is getting to climb the ladders into the caves. The girls did this with no problems. I had to giggle at all the adults as they held their breath and fretted as my to nature-loving mountain goat children bounded up and down the ladders. I had no worries about them climbing 15 feet in the air.

After the cliff dwelling we spent time in the wood canyon floor filling in the junior ranger booklet and talking about the wildlife around us. The clouds rolled in too, sending us some relief from the heat of the morning.

We were not in a hurry, so we took our time meandering and stopping to observe and listen. A beautiful day to remember.

Posted in Travels | 9 Comments

Greetings From New Mexico


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Hi everyone,

We decided to take a quick trip to New Mexico to visit my mom before the gardening season really begins to take off. Since I can’t send everyone a postcard I thought I would show you a few snippets of what we’ve been up to. Enjoy!

Have a happy week and I be back in this space next week.

Posted in Travels | 4 Comments

In My Garden

DSC06148 DSC06147 DSC06146 DSC06144 DSC06143 DSC06142 DSC06138 DSC06137Thank you all for the wonderful comments on yesterday’s bee discussion.

Winter here went out cold and wet. We’ve had a wet winter, wetter than I remember since I’ve been living here. I’m certainly not complaining. The plants have loved it.

This year I’m on the fence about spring in the garden. Spring has brought with it a handful of pests. So far I’ve got aphids, mice stealing newly planted seeds, cutworms, and grasshoppers. All that wind and water has brought unwanted creatures to my garden.

There are lots of good things too though! Like baby apples and cucumber sprouts, zucchini and sunflowers. The heat has come with spring too so I will plant okra again (mice) tomatillos and melons. Replant my basil as well (cutworms). Being  gardener is not for the faint of heart. I am covering those strawberries and the baby meyer lemons!

Lastly we finished the fence extension and installed a gate. All that is left is to paint it to match the rest. Finally the project for this week is to install the drip system. By next Saturday we are supposed to see highs in the mid 80’s so water and mulch are much needed.

Tell me about your gardens. Has the snow melted yet? Or is it just starting to fall?

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Bee Worried

DSC06141 DSC06140 DSC06139In my backyard, overhanging my garden, is an enormous acacia tree, and right now it’s in full bloom, which means there are thousands of flowers on it. It looks like a pom pom ball tree. I love it and I am glad I’m not allergic to it. The only thing that is missing from this tree are bees. In the past two weeks since it’s been blooming I’ve only seen or heard a handful of bees.

Now move down to my garden and the strawberries are blooming, my calendula is in full bloom, the lavender have wonderful little flowers all over it, and the cilantro has bloomed. No bees.

I put out a saucer of water with stones in it for the bees to come and drink from. No bees. Where did they go? I have the most bee friendly garden, clean water, flowers, and free of pesticides and yet there are no bees. I even went to the nursery nearby and asked them if they had bees buzzing around and they said they hadn’t seen many.

So I started doing research. I am fully aware of Colony Collapse Disorder and of mites and parasites and pesticides all taking their toll on the bees. But what else is going on? The farmers tell me that the high winds we’ve been having dry up all the nectar in the flowers and the bees don’t come because the nectar is absent. In Nepal bees are all but extinct. They have tried hand pollinating apple trees and have found it takes 25 women to do the work of one bee.

That made me think about California and the drought they are in. They are not normally a drought prone state like we are. They are also one of the biggest sources of produce in the US.  Majority of the produce in stores in Arizona comes from California. When I was traveling last summer, in the Northeast, I noticed that all of the Whole Foods I visited carried the same organic produce that it does here in Arizona, Cal-Organics. How is that going to be okay for all the people in the Northeast if the bees decline and droughts continue?

My point in all this is to open a discussion about food security. So many of my peers do not understand that they can go their own food and they should. The scary fact that all the bees are disappearing is really scary. What many people don’t know is that any vegetable the has seeds inside it is actually a fruit and has a flower that needs to be pollinated. So if there are no pollinators to do this we have to pollinate by hand.  I doubt we can pollinate enough food by hand to feed the world.

What do you think about the bees dying off? What about food security? Why do you or don’t you grow your own food? Do you keep bees?

Posted in Garden | 26 Comments

Welcome Spring

IMG_0804IMG_0803IMG_0809 IMG_0807 IMG_0812 IMG_0818 IMG_0821We welcomed Spring this past Friday. What a glorious day it was. On Thursday we started by dying eggs we bought from our friend with the goats and chickens. We left the blue eggs blue of course. I made a small batch of onion skin dye and turmeric dye. We used those to dye the eggs.

Friday morning we did a small egg hunt and I gave the girls new playsilks I bought from Stephinie of Gypsy Forest. Her silks are wonderful! The way she dyes them makes them so shimmery.

After the egg hunt I turned the eggs into egg salad and we headed up the mountain for a family hike. I had to stop and do a bit of yoga. I couldn’t help myself!

I hope spring has come to you. If not I’m sending warm thoughts your way to melt the snow. And if you are reading from the Southern Hemisphere welcome Fall! And I hope you get to cozy up next to a fire.

 

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Posted in Life Notes | 7 Comments