Monday, April 30, 2012

Puppy Love

Puppy Pile

Remember Red?  These are her beautiful two-week-old babies in a snuggly puppy pile.  Oh, puppy love!

Tiny Sausages

Seven babies!  Now that is one proud mama.  Thank you, Tommie, Victoria, Fyn, and Red—for letting us come have a peek!

Mama Red

Saturday, April 28, 2012



A series of unseasonably warm days and nights in March inspired early blooms across Northern Michigan.  But over the past two weeks, cold temperatures and repeated hard frosts slowed the budding and blooming down. . . so much so that the outside world feels a bit frozen in time.  We wonder how many of the trees in our county's beautiful orchards will bear fruit this summer?  We hope the warmth will return this week along with plenty of bees to visit all those flowers!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tiny Food

We make a lot of food around here.  Food that we eat around our table every day, of course; but inedible food too.  Once upon a time we made sushi out of play-doh.  Before that I needle felted a plate of lunch.  And now the joy of creating tiny food lives on in our house.

Matchbox Lunch Box

The most recent medium is craft foam.  I hadn't really paid attention to this stuff until one of Amabel's craft books called for it.  Jeffrey took the girls on errands and they returned with a bunch of thin rubbery foam sheets, a package of mini pony beads, and some little silk flowers.  Amabel immediately started making food for her dolls.  Then she surprised me, on my birthday, with a miniature lunch in a matchbox (she saw a similar idea in Family Fun magazine—a tiny, edible lunch).  Since then, she often disappears into her room for an hour or so and comes out with another item to add to her growing menu.

Lunch Trays
Mini Lunch Tray
Ellen tries her best to join in.  But her little fingers can't quite work the scissors yet.  So, mostly she watches and then enjoys the fruits of Amabel's labor.

Meal in a box

And well, I couldn't resist.  I had to try my hand at making matchbox sushi with this new material.  For no doll restaurant is complete without a sushi counter!

Matchbox Sushi

Wednesday, April 25, 2012



My head was fuzzy this afternoon.  We went outside: the girls headed into woods to look for spring flowers and I watered the garden.  Then I threw myself down in the scraggly grass beside the newly mulched path and took some photos of weeds.  I felt better after that.  It was enough to notice their shape against the gray sky.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Spring Grass

Perfect Spot

Cherry Snow


Orchard Chatting

Just a little walk through the meadow behind our house, up to the orchard, into the woods, and back home again.  So ordinary.  So beautiful.  So grateful.

Meadow Walking

Friday, April 20, 2012


Cherry Blossoms

Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with boom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again.
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

A.E. Housman

Monday, April 16, 2012

Garden Nostalgia

Baby Nasturtium
Baby Nasturtium Seedling in an Egg Shell .

After a few days of good work (and most of the earth moving credit goes to Jeffrey), we have a reconfigured garden.  (You can see the garden about a month ago here.)  This is the view from my window, upstairs.

What you can see in this photo: strawberries to the right; garlic along the bottom; and a modest flower bed up along the top left corner.

What you can't see in this photo: hundreds of tiny little seeds planted in those two chocolate-colored beds.  Snow peas, sugar-snap peas, mache, arugula, tatsoi, scallions, bunching onions, lettuce mix, yaya carrots, french breakfast radishes, mokum carrots, easter egg radishes, red round turnips, as well as a spring "green mulch" ground cover.  And this is just the beginning.  The garden will be expanding to the left—beyond the edge of this photo.

Garden 4.16

Planting a vegetable garden has an especially big meaning for Jeffrey and me this year because this is the first time we have gardened in earnest since we were newly married.  Eight years ago this summer, we acquired our first garden together—a 20' by 20' plot in a Pittsburgh community garden, a mile walk from our apartment (after doing a little search I see that the Homewood Community Garden now has a website!).  

I have so many memories of how we made things work that first year with a garden so far away from home and no car for easy transport.  The first thing we did (in the fall) was to plant garlic (carefully transported all the way from Michigan) and cover the garden with makeshift mulch—leaves we raked up from along the surrounding forest.  

The following spring, after taking a bus to Home Depot, we bought as much fencing as we could roll up and fit in Jeffrey's camping backpack.  I remember the looks we got on the bus with a backpack full of four-foot wire fencing!  We supplemented the garden fence with eight-foot sticks collected from the neighboring forest, hoping to deter the fearless urban deer.  Then we ordered great quantities of seeds and started them inside, along our floor-to-celing apartment windows.  When Jeffrey and I went on a week-long business trip, we left the seedlings under the care of a friend—but sadly, most of the seed babies did not survive.  We were crushed but carried on and replanted.  All summer long we carried kitchen scraps from our apartment to our garden compost pile in buckets, in our backpacks.

At the end of our first full season in the garden, Amabel was born in our Pittsburgh apartment.  The garden grew into a wild jungle that fall (while we were on our babymoon), and we returned with an infant to an abundance of produce, waiting for us.  The lone hot pepper plant was aflame in red chillies in that last week of October.

The next summer, Amabel learned how to crawl alongside the garden.  We spent even more time there after finding kindred gardening spirits: Erin, Jack, and little Jack.  We joined our garden plots into one, picnicked with our new friends, and admired our growing babies all summer long.  Sweet Erin took the photos below.

the farm 024
Amabel on my back: June 2006
the farm 008
Our Community Garden in Pittsburgh: affectionally called "the farm" .
11 months 011
Jack and Amabel holding a nasturtium flower: August 2006  .

We moved home to Northern Michigan right before Amabel's first birthday.  Since then we have spent each growing season in a tiny urban yard surrounded by thick, old Maple trees and shade-loving perennials. . . until now.  This spring, at last, we have sun enough to grow vegetables!

To our dear Pittsburgh friends - we miss you.  We miss growing with you.  Please come play in our garden this summer!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Bare Feet

Garden excavation all afternoon.  With little helpers, of course.  A very messy, happy day.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Bath light

An evening bath in the light: Ellen concentrating as she rescues a ladybug from the waves.

My friend Jenny is so brave with her camera and water action.  I'm not so brave.  But I thought about Jenny's lovely photos of children and water when I got out the camera tonight.  

The light, the water, girls in the tub: a moment of beauty to savor, even if I couldn't quite capture it in still.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The Stack

Next to my bed, on my desk, in my lap this week. . .  

Monday, April 9, 2012


Leftover Egg Dyes

Little Chemists



Mixing it Up

A productive afternoon spent with leftover egg dye and baby plants: mixing potions kept the girls busy and happy while I tended kale, broccoli, and flower seedlings.  Amabel made a few hair-dying concoctions and an "April fool's day beet soup."  Ellen created an unusual blueberry colored nail polish mixed with thyme leaves.  

I wish I had a sound recording to go with the photos—oh to listen to these girls chatting away together!  How I love their 'unselfconscious' dialogues.


Marigold Seedlings

And here we have some baby marigolds—the beauty and variety of those first two little leaves never cease to amaze me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012



Amabel's first three pysanka — Ukrainian Easter eggs.  Thank you to a friend who taught us the technique this week!



Friday, April 6, 2012


Kale Seedlings
Kale Seedlings

Humble Beginnings
Chestnut Apple Tree
Humble beginnings.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012



Jeffrey and I were planning to go out to dinner for my birthday.  We spent the evening digging holes instead.  Five baby fruit trees are en route and scheduled to arrive tomorrow!


Z & E
Photo by Amabel  
Our Shovel
My brother-in-law Aric engraved our names into this shovel as a wedding gift.  
Gommy and the girls prepared a special dessert while Jeffrey and I did the digging (thanks, Gommy!).  Dinner date or dirt date?  I'll take a dirt date any day!  There is no place I'd rather be.

Monday, April 2, 2012



Spring cleaning this week.  There is so much to do—inside and out.  And yet I could spend all day wandering about the fields and forests marveling in the glorious rebirth everywhere.