31 October 2012

p is for pumpkin


elfling has officially entered the world of homeschooling. as he is only three, mostly this means that when thehobbit is working on a project that requires his wee brother not run about screaming like a banshee, elfling sits down with his own activity.

for this to last longer than 30 seconds the activity needs to be something elfling does not get to do at other times. & that brings me to today's babble: the letter of the week.

you know how it goes - each week a letter of the alphabet is chosen to be featured, & all week activities are done that focus on that letter. i did this with thehobbit when he was teensy, & he still recalls it fondly. of course, back then we were dirt poor, so this involved a great amount of me drawing pictures for him to color.

happily, whilst i am on a tight budget, i am no longer dirt poor. unhappily, elfling doesn't do much coloring, so i shall have to get vastly more creative.

what you see in these photos was the making of the letter feature frame. i got the idea from this pin. i had it in my head to use a fancy frame that was used in my biz, insert a sheet of metal, & buy a few sets of the cheapie alphabet magnets. my thought was that he would enjoy digging through a bin to search for a bunch of the same letter. i still do think that, but a certain manlyman has asked me to hold off on purchases right now, which meant that i had to use what i had on hand. spoil sport.

the first photo shows what i did, but in case you have had a bit much to drink today: i took apart a small frame, & used the glass to trace the shape onto watercolor paper. after cutting out 13 of the rectangles, i stuck a letter onto each (both sides). i waffled over whether to use the glass or not, but in the end decided to give it a try. my instinct tells me that elfling will not be able to resist peeling the letters once he realizes he has easy access to them. we shall see!

a mint tin was the perfect size in which to store the letters waiting for their turn at being featured.

first up? the letter p! because, p is for pumpkin, of course.

a very happy hallowe'en to you - blessed be.


29 October 2012

in which i elect to make a change


there have been big changes in our homeschooling this past week. as wonderful as the charter was, it just was not a good fit for thehobbit. over the summer we had discussed pulling him, but ended up renewing for high school (gasp! my wee hobbit is a high schooler.).

only two months into the school year, & it was obvious that we had made the wrong choice - so we pulled him. rather, i, pulled him, & later informed manlyman. that is what he gets for abandoning us for a week-long pga thing in florida. i can get up to all sorts of mischief when left on my own.

now we are free to homeschool as we once did, with thehobbit studying what he likes, at the pace that suits him best. he is more thrilled than i can say. thehobbit was never happy making the switch to the charter, but we had our reasons for insisting. those reasons crumbled in the face of an increasingly miserable hobbit.

no longer tied to the charter's requirements & schedules, we have been poking through our personal library, looking for what to study. first up - the election! the timing is perfect, what with the presidential elections looming.

i found some general election information for thehobbit, as well as a few other things that i thought would be interesting. enjoy! (if i stumble upon anything new, i'll edit this post.)

* the electoral college (kids discover) - printable.
* everything american government - book.
* presidents - fandex.
* suffragists (kids discover) - magazine. (free resources go along with this - scroll to bottom of that page.)
* the donkey & the elephant - article.
* presidential election (brainpop) - mini movie & printables.
* the democracy project (pbs) - website.
* election 2012 (scholastic) - website.


26 October 2012

don't blink!


thebelfry clan is busy with last minute costume preparation. until only last week thehobbit, being a great old man of fourteen, had planned on not dressing this year. finally getting into the spirit of the season, he decided that he is going to be the tenth doctor. of course he is.

i am scrambling to gather the bits needed to pull this off. it would seem that whovians are quite the picky lot, so the costume must be spot on. unfortunately for the resident whohead - there is no way am i paying a lot of money for a suit that he will wear only a handful of times. 

i did find the tan trench coat, & he is in need of new sneakers, so hopefully his fellow whovians will be kind that he'll be spot mostly on. not sure if that is an actual saying, but i am too tired to backspace.

we do have time for one more thrift shop run. who knows? perhaps a suit will appear out of nowhere. as if the time lord himself landed the tardis inside the thrift shop, tossing one of his own suits out the door...


edited :: since the writing of this post we have thrifted & found the remainder of the tenth doctor's ensemble. not only did we find the perfect suit & sneakers, they were both in his size! thank you, oh goddess of thrifting!

24 October 2012

in which blue is the new orange & black


when elfling learned what we meant when discussing carving our pumpkins, he freaked. apparently pumpkin, for that is its name as well as genus, is not to be treated in such a barbaric manner.

decorating pumpkin with stickers was suggested, as was: markers, paint, glitter, & the gluing of object upon it. all were deemed inappropriate, with various reasons given. it seemed that dear pumpkin was going to remain forever unclad, when elfling himself came up with an idea.

painter's tape!

now did you ever see such a halloweenish (real word) pumpkin, i ask you?


22 October 2012

things: hallowe'en


i know i have not done a thursday things post in forever & a day. i shall spare you the boring details; suffice it to say blah blah busy blah blah toddler & teen driving me to drink blah blah. that said, i must share the fabulous hallowe'en pins i have been finding. the following, & more, can be found on this board.

without further ado i bring you whateverdaythisis things!

skullie potato stamps - this design is simple, & easy enough for even the crafty-challenged to manage.

papier mache bowls - an oldie, but a goodie.

the most gorgeous display - this makes me wish i had a wee room to paint orange.

love! - no words to describe this.

lace spider web - so pretty! sans spider, thank you very much. ick.

witch/wizard silhouette - a much easier way of doing it.

spooky lunches - every meal should be this fabulous.

& let us not forget last year's batch!


19 October 2012

montessori - spooooooky


elfling has enjoyed most of the montessori activities we have tried. by far, his most favorite is the transferring activity. it is simple: using chopsticks or tongs, the toddler moves little objects from one container, to another. quietly! for a really long time!

i tried a few set-ups (tray, bin, basket) before stumbling on the one that worked best: the oblong bucket & felt baskets! all of them were found at target, in the little $1-$2 section near the front.

to keep elfling from growing bored, i have been rotating the items. currently we are going with a hallowe'en theme! the felt basket on the left holds everything for the transferring activity, leaving the one on the right free for whatever. as you can see whatever at the moment is stamping.

we have a bin filled with stamps & ink, but he is too easily overwhelmed, so we only offer a few stamps & one ink pad at a time. the silver ink shows up fabulously on black paper, by the way.

in the transferring basket are: two small bowls, child-sized chopsticks with a trainer clip, skull rings, & a spider top. he calls the latter a spider dreidel, which i find hilarious.

all of the items go into one of the little bowls, & his job is to move them to the empty bowl. you can make this more advanced by the amount of items, or by offering different ones or colors. the rings work well for beginners. these were left from a hallowe'en party we'd had many years back.

not content to be spun, the wee spider dreidel enjoys being transferred too.

i was thrilled to find this bucket the other day. it is just big enough for the two felt baskets, & the handles make it easy for elfling to carry. also, i love metal buckets, so may have possibly perhaps bought more than one.

if you are going to try this activity with your wee ones, now is the perfect time to begin your search for items. the hallowe'en stuff will be on clearance soon, & the christmas stuff is filling the shelves. party stores are good sources for multiples of tinies as well. anything that is small, & not too slippery would work. i just bought some felt buttons for future themes.

a lot of people use the large tweezers for this. i think i have mentioned elfling's love of poking things, which is why i opted for mini chopsticks. ours were purchased, when thehobbit was much younger, from the japanese store. ditto the trainer clips.

if money is tight right now, you can still do this activity. you need not have fancy a set-up, i only do so because my happy place is a house in which all clutter is stored in containers. as for items: cotton balls, a felted wool sweater cut into small shapes, leaves, spiral pasta (uncooked) - you get the idea.



17 October 2012

through the eyes of a hobbit


of  late i have been finding photos on my camera that were not of my taking. thehobbit has been sneaking my camera, taking a photo or two, then putting it back - all without my even knowing. even whilst we are out & about!

he thinks he is being ever so funny. i think he's got the makings of a world class pick-pocket.

i know i have said this eleventy billion times, but i love seeing the world around me through his eyes.

it's not the same as when he was small; then it was much more random. & quite a bit lower to the ground. now it is the more practiced eye of a great old man of 14.

i simply adore this one!

not so much this one. this photo gives me the creeps. teens are weird. 


15 October 2012

nookish wall images


 elfling's play-nook has bare walls no more! the majority of images were found through searching pinterest. i shall try to post the original owners of each. ready for a tour?

the above is our newest addition to the play-nook, & quite possibly the best sign ever. i want to have a tin one made, to hang on our front door. inviting, would you not agree? 

i think i have shown the poster in the foreground before; it is an advert for flat tire amber ale. they were giving them away at whole foods a few months back, & i knew instantly it would be perfect for the play-nook.

this illustration of i love you to the moon & back is simple & sweet. you can purchase one at this shop.

i came across this gorgeous illustration last year, & for the life of me cannot find where it came from. apparently i did not pin it, which makes me sad. if you are the artist, or know him/her, please let me know so i can give proper credit.

i love the message of this image. again, i do not know the artist responsible. the few pins i checked all lead to flickr, & other people gushing about its awesomeness.

i. love. the. toymaker. we have been printing her paper toys for many years now. in fact, the genteel fairy's appreciation society has been taped to that spot since this wee space was thehobbit's play-nook. beneath it is my license to priv.

& thus our tour comes to an end. but before i go, i thought you might like to see what was beneath my feet as i snapped photos above my head.

it would seem a certain elfling needs to be reminded of pies.


12 October 2012

recipe review - spicy sushi sauce


it has been ages since i did a pinterest recipe review, so i thought i'd do one today. notes of note: 1) i cannot find the original pin to share with you, & b) i am not sure if mixing two ingredients qualifies as an actual recipe.

notes out of the way, today i bring you spicy sushi sauce

we eat sushi at home on a regular basis, but i never thought to find out how to recreate the delicious, creamy sauce. i read a few recipes, & their comment sections, then attempted what seemed to be the most popular: kewpie mayonnaise & sriracha.

some say that regular mayo works fine, but the vast majority say that the result will be too mayo-ish. kewpie  is a japanese brand of mayonnaise, made with rice vinegar. by the way, those wanting to avoid msg will have to use regular mayo. kewpie comes in a squeezie bottle, & has a red kewpie doll on the packaging. i was disappointed that the image was not on the bottle itself. any asian grocery store will have this, & perhaps large markets with ethnic sections.

sriracha, also known as rooster sauce, can be found at most grocery stores these days. warning: it is addictive. oh, also quite spicy, so go easy if you are not into heat.

spicy sushi sauce

kewpie mayo

* squeeze the amount of kewpie you need into a bowl. this would be the same as you'd use in tuna or egg salad.
* add a squirt of sriracha. stir & taste.
* continue adding sriracha until it's hot enough. this sauce should be as hot as you can tolerate.

we had this recently & loooooooooooved it. my family are vegetarians, so instead of raw tuna or scallops we added mushrooms that had been sliced, sauteed, & cooled. it mimicked the texture perfectly. or as perfectly as two people who had not had raw tuna or salmon in over twenty years recall. firm tofu would probably work well also.

what will you mix with it?

10 October 2012

blocks, blocks everywhere

thebelfrys love wooden blocks. by the time thehobbit outgrew playing with his, he had an insane amount of them. through gifts, thrift shopping, & hand-me-downs there was more than would fit in one large storage bin. we discovered this when it came time to pack them away. (hint :: stacking them into a giant cube of a jigsaw puzzle was the key.)

when elfling was big enough for blocks, we dug out the bag of tower blocks (pictured above) from storage. eventually a set of alphabet blocks, & one of miniature blocks joined the fray. not a lot of blocks by belfry standards, but just enough to make a toddler happy.

& then my dear friend pom phoned, asking if we wanted her girls' blocks. the sane voice inside my head said no thank you. he has a perfect amount already, & we have a giant bin filled with more, in storage. - which i promptly ignored, exclaiming oh yes!!!!!!!! instead.

some of our new blocks had been pom's very own childhood ones! that makes me happy. interestingly they weigh much less than the blocks of today do.

everyone has been having oodles of fun building all manner of things. of course, elfling only asks that we build fire stations for him, but i have figured out a way around that. i just build whatever i want, & proclaim it to be a fire station. sooner or later he'll catch on, & demand proper fire stations, but for now i am gold.

in addition to the regular blocks, pom gave us not one, but two sets of alphabet blocks. for a moment i thought i should give them away, as we already owned a set. then i realized that they were each different sizes, which clearly means we still own only one! besides, it is easier to build words if i have multiples of letters.

which he wanted to do the other day. over & over again. for eleventy billion hours. i love blocks, but even i have my breaking point.

i told him that this read fire station.


ps :: for those wondering - i have no idea how i shall store the blocks once we bring in the bin from the garage.

08 October 2012

of shakespeare, grandmothers, & odd tinkers


there is nothing in all the world as glorious as shakespeare.

more than all of my obsessions & collections combined, am i swoony for the bard. yes, even over coffee. gasp!

i really ought to have this print properly framed. & i only just noticed the window reflections in the glass; well photographed, me!

i no longer own as many copies of his works as i once did. many years ago a certain manlyman convinced me that i did not need eleventy billion boxes of books (we moved quite a bit), so i culled my collections.

the above is my favorite. it was my grandmother's, from when she attended usc (university southern california). it was also the one i used through high school, so contains notes in both our hands.

this map of shakespeare's britain came with the aforementioned book. actually, i doubt it came with it, but it was inside when she passed the book to me. i wish i'd taken better care of the map; it is now in such a sad state. i suppose i should have it seen to, before it falls apart completely.

my grandmother gave me the wee sonnet book as well. in fact, the four in the first photo, & the one below this also came from her.

there are more books, & other items of a shakespearean nature stored in the garage. one thing i want to dig out is the darling of my collection. it's a page from an old magazine, that shows hamlet's soliloquy, as well as the same written in beat. in beatnik? anyway, it's quite fabulous, & yes, it also came from my grandmother. two peas in a pod, we were.

this is my newest. it was my mother's. i was able to bring home a large box of her books on our recent visit. not near as many as i had wanted, but i am not pouting. much.

i did not check thehobbit's room, to see what he has squirreled away. i know he has a few things. oh! i forgot to take a photo of the brass rubbing of shakespeare's bust i did a bunch of years ago. you shall have to use your imagination for that one. don't forget to make it a bit fuzzy & out of focus, so it matches these photos.

recently my darling tinker went on holiday in england, & visited the globe. whatever! was my reaction as well. i was thrilled to learn that she'd brought me a prezzie from there. can you guess what she lovingly bestowed upon me?

a wee trinket? no. a box of soil dug from the grounds? no, again. a book? a poster? a whimsy? no, no, & still no.

i shan't keep you in suspense one moment longer.

my very own globe theatre kitchen towel. i love my odd tinker, i do.


edited to add :: you must watch this show (it is in six parts).

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