Friday, October 30, 2009


If I could listen in on my five-year-old's thoughts these days, it's likely I would hear a constant stream of words broken down into letter sounds and slow phonetics as she obsesses about reading and spelling. At least that's what I see coming out: words, words, words.

Here, I'll show you.Here's yesterday's grocery list. As you can clearly read (no?) we need coffee, cream, mushrooms, peas, meat, broccoli, potatoes, apples, turkey and onions. And unlike boring adult grocery lists, this one comes with a little scene from the store.
From her perspective, we see little Eden fussing for something. "Please Maz," she says. Mazzy says "No Eden," and reaches down to pick her up while mama, pushing the cart, is saying "Stop fighting Eden."

Am I the only one whose heart is melting?!

I am loving this phase of her learning. I love the fact that she's taken on her mama's preoccupation with spelling and pronunciation. I'm reminded of those days when she was learning to talk and I was the expert translator for anyone who couldn't understand her early language. Only now it's the written word. And it's everywhere.
My house is littered with words, names, lists. Written the way she hears them, the way she thinks them, the way she says them. She even writes little love letters.

I V U too, Mazzy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Step Back In Time

This past weekend was Old Mill Days at Bale Grist Mill. This is one of my favorite events as it lets us get a glimpse of life in our little valley the way it was in the 1850's. The mill not only ground farmers crops into flour, it was also a gathering place to learn news, share gossip and get to know your "neighbors".
The day was filled with good old-timey music, fire building demonstrations,
spinning wool into yarn.....this was particularly exciting to one little girl I know who has been trying to convince her father and I to "move to the country so we can raise sheep and spin the wool into yarn to sell at the farmers market."

The kids also got to make rope, corn husk dolls, do some hand-stitching, use a giant saw and run around in the crisp autumn air.
Lunch was chili and corn bread and fresh pressed apple juice.

One of the highlights of the day was pressing the apples into juice.
Everyone got a turn.
Some needed a little help.
The end result was oh so delicious.
It was a great way to spend a day. Good friends, good food, beautiful surroundings, fun, magic and educational.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On To December!

Just starting the second week of October, I can already feel the inevitable pull of the Holidays. The next three months get so much attention but they pass by so quickly. As soon as you're done making Halloween costumes and sorting through trick-or-treat booty, you're planning Thanksgiving Dinner. Then there's Winter Solstice and (gulp) Christmas. My knitting needles tremble at the thought.

This year we have one more thing to squeeze in there in December...

That's right, we'll be making our 2nd annual appearance at Bazaar Bizarre! If you're anywhere near San Francisco on the weekend of December 12 and 13, you'd be well-advised to make your own appearance at the Bazaar.

And not just for us, we are only one of over 100 vendors with one-of-a-kind crafts to tempt and amaze you. Jewelry, ceramics, feather headdresses, clothing of every persuasion, letter press papers, butterflies under glass, and all manner of handmade art for everyone on your Christmas shopping list. If you're like me, you'd rather get them something original to stand out against all that chain store-bought stuff that's usually under the tree.

We'll be at another smaller festival, right around the corner: the St. Helena Hometown Harvest Festival, which kicks off with a Pet Parade where dogs and their owners strut down the street and are judged on their costumes. A must see for anyone nearby this weekend!

Bring it on, Holiday season!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hoes Down

This weekend brought us out to the beautiful (and little known) Capay Valley for the 22nd annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival.

We packed our crew into three cars and treked 75 miles to this Wonderland of Organic Autumn Fun. The place was crawling with delighted ragamuffin hippy kids and their adult counterparts. Ours jumped right in to climb and disappear into the tunnels of a huge haystack pyramid; brave a ride down a zip line;

dye silks with natural pigments and paint their own Tibetan prayer flags;

make clover flower wreaths and corn husk dolls; indulge in a bit of roleplaying... as chicken

and potato farmer;

dance to rocking bluegrass bands;

navigate through an obstacle course;

ride in a covered wagon;


and generally "celebrate rural living." Holy harvest festival.

And then there was the food! Organic smoothies blended by bicycle, apple cider the kids could press themselves, sweet hot barbequed corn and ridiculously good homemade ice cream.

We watched sheep shearing, cow milking, fiddle playing, flour grinding, spinning and weaving all under a glowing early October sun.

Why do the best days only come once a year?