April 30, 2009

Finally! ...Spring arrives...

3 or 4 Black capped chickadees were scoping out this little birdhouse that Lo painted! Delightful to think of a family of birds to view, but I just stuck the birdhouse on this cut branch that is leaning in the corner of our deck-very precarious!!! We'll have to find away to secure the whole thing! It was wonderful to sit and watch them explore it while I sat in the sunshine and finished up Lo's new doll.

Unexpected beauty! Our forced branches that we glue-gunned tissue blossoms on are actually sprouting leaves!

The last few days have been GLORIOUSLY sunny and warm! 60 degrees! The snow is melting fast up on the mountains and I'm amazed at how quickly our yard melted! Within 3 days we experienced The Melting(a noticeable diminish in snow pack), The Rivers(suddenly that melt is released and our property and driveway are inundated with little riverlets), and now we are in The Bog phase(still can't kneel on the ground without getting your pants wet). Usually this is drawn out for a week or two or four. Not so this year! And it's nice. Around this time last year we had experienced similar gorgeous days that had us out on the deck playing and doing projects in shorts and tanks. And then WHAM! we got hit with 17 inches of snow! Mindblowing! HERE is the page of posts on this freak snowstorm(scroll down). Now, a year and 1 week later, we have been out on the deck drinking in the warmth and light, working on party favors for Lo's Birthday party on Sunday .

I CAN'T even imagine a snowstorm happening now.And we're finally starting to see those welcome signs of Spring! Yay! We're catching up to everyone out there in the blogoshpere who have been talking about springtime for WEEKS!!!!

Lo was begging to get her ears pierced for her Birthday(Too young! Already went that route with Dea who couldn't stomach the maintenance!) so we settled on a new hair cut-looped about 5 inches off!

April 22, 2009

IT'S EARTH DAY!!! Celebrate your Mother..


We've been gaining about 5 minutes of daylight each night since the equinox. It's still light when we go to bed now. Soon we'll be experiencing those bright Alaskan nights .....One of the bummers about there being no real darkness in the summer is that I can't adorn our deck with all sorts of pretty fairy lights and candles when we hang out or entertain. The top of our garage will someday house 2 more stories but for now Huz did a great job setting up a temporary deck. We have a great table and umbrella which would be perfect for hanging beaded votives....Oh, I have tons of ideas..but it's just not a reality here.

But for those of you living in a place where you can experience warm dark, I've got a very cool idea for groovy mood lighting in honor of Earth Day.

Recycled Pop Bottle Luminaries:

This is a gorgeous luminary for both inside and out. Make a bunch for a party on a summer's night. Perfect to line your railing or your walk. Beats the whole sand and candle in the paper bag thing. You can use a real beeswax tea light or one of those LED faux tea lights.

All you need is:
2 pop bottles
"glass" paint
sponge brush
tea light

There will be 3 pieces nested together for this luminary.

Here's what you do:

1. Leaving the base of the pop bottle intact, cut out a fun wavy design that measures about 1/3 of the way up the bottle. The bottom 1/3 is now separated from the rest of the bottle.

2. Put bottom aside for now. Or have kiddos start painting it.

3. Using the top portion of the bottle, cut off the neck part and discard. This rounded top portion of the bottle will now be the BOTTOM of this piece. Make sure the hole you have just created is big enough to handle heat and flame from the tea light.

4. Now cut wavy pattern on the new "top" portion of bottle.

5. Repeat step #1 with 2nd bottle, but this wavy design should reach over 3/4 the way up the bottle.

6. Paint your 3 pieces in any way you like. Lo and I first dabbed on the glass paint and then found it fun to use our fingers to spread it and make designs. We also just let some of the paint drip on it Jackson Pollock style.

(It was sunny and 50 degrees outside today!!! T-shirt-for-the-hearty time!)
7. When dry just nestle to 2 bases into each other, put in your light and nestle the 3rd piece on top of that.
Now make about 20 more and throw a party for whatever!

*You've GOT to check out these beautiful pop bottle plastic butterflies-PERFECT if you still have leftover glass paint and bottles!


April 20, 2009

New additions

Yesterday, while Lo got reacquainted with her bike with training wheels, I finally spent some time on the scroll saw making the chicks I had hoped to make for her Spring basket. It was a sunny day-Spring peeking in and making itself known!-so I pulled the car out of the garage and left the garage door up so Lo could ride around in circles while I worked the saw. I also worked on this cute polar bear that I had drawn up awhile ago. He was just waiting to come alive and I was quite happy with the results! I wish I had been able to get some chicks done before our Spring celebration-they came out so cute!

I still have aspirations to start an Etsy store. I figure now that it's getting warm enough to work in the garage with the door up I can get some more stuff done. We don't have proper ventilation for woodworking so I haven't been inclined to use the saw since last fall. I have a sketchbook with drawings of many ideas for toys that I've come up with over the past year and I would like start turning those ideas into reality. I think these two are a good start! There's a lot of fine tuning and testing for quality that I'll need to do before putting things up for sale. I made several of the chicks and I'm going to play with cutting and sanding techniques on each to see which one I like the best. Two of yesterday's chicks inadvertently became crash test dummies when Lo played with them and broke the legs off of one and chipped the "toes" off of the other. Apparently the pine is too soft and I'll have to find a heartier wood to use that the saw can handle. The idea of using some natural tree fall from the property is really ecologically appealing so I'll give that a go!

I've made a variety of toys in the last couple years-some were a drag to make despite the results and some where a joy from conception to tangible. The "joyful" toys are the ones I hope to set up shop with: Puzzles, Doll houses(I have a plan for a really whimsical fairy home!), wood animals, hobby horses and naturally dyed silks to name a few.

On another note, Lo and I tried out this wonderfully tactile project found on Deep Space Sparkle: Chalk pastel flowers, where kids can create the forms of flowers by drawing with white glue. Once dried, they go to work with the pastels, blending the colors in any way they like. Instead of "drawing" with the glue bottle, I had Lo just stand up and pour the glue onto her paper. Originally meant for way older kids, I found that Lo had fun with it but did get frustrated and needed help with guiding the flow of glue to create an actual flower. It was a bit hard to do from a standing position!

We both also made an additional picture by just letting the glue drip and pour randomly on the paper and that she loved doing! Cat #1 was quite intrigued as well. She was quite pleased with the effect of being able to blend, soften and spread the colors with her fingers. Dea joined in later, having had some experience with chalk in her art class and the 2 sisters sat on the floor together for while creating more pictures sans glue.


It was a pleasantly artful weekend! Chalkwork, animals and a new batch of homemade ice cream-Peppermint Patty! Perfect for poor Huz's soar throat. Lo is all better after 10 days of sickness-5 with a fever. Last week it was Huz's turn. I really hope I'm not next. We're going to see SPAMALOT next Friday and I would hate to miss it!

April 12, 2009

MERRY SPRING! And kiss my Keister, Bunny of Easter.

What the HELL, Spring Bunny?!??! You come into my house like you just own the place, glom a ball of my good yarn, and unravel it all over the house to make one of your "cute" and "clever" games so that the kids will follow it all around to find that it leads to their Spring Baskets?!?!? Did you ever take into consideration, Ma'am, that they would tire of trying to roll the yarn back in a ball as they followed it? And that the Smarty Pants 4 year old would just bypass your precious yarn trail 1/2 way through and go straight to the end to find the baskets?!?! All at the crack of dawn and before our morning coffee?!?! Huh, did ya?!?! You got a lotta OOGATZ, rabbit.

Well, in relation to last year's Spring celebration(Easter, to some) we did pretty well! (I cracked myself up when I wrote last year's post on my Easter preparation angst, so I'm just gonna post it here at the bottom of this post and crack myself up again.) The extent of my shopping was a quick run to FREDS to pick up a bag of chocolate robin's eggs. And then to Michael's for crafty paraphernalia. We reduced the candy in the basket factor down to the eggs and 2 quality chocolate bunnies from a local pastry shop. Silly, laughing, happy bunnies- not any drug addled freaky bunnies like the ones in the re-post below. The rest of loot betwixt the 2 girls was a puzzle, book, toenail stickers, flower garland, Sarah's Silk rainbow vail, earrings for the older kiddo's 8th grade graduation dance(high school next fall, Je-SUS.), 2 gnomes, etc. I never got around to buying a mold and making my own bunnies w/chipotle, or scrollsawing the chicks or sewing a cute bunny, but there's always next year.....or next week if I'm ambitious...

Lo is finally feeling a bit better and was very into the egg dying. We tried different techniques. We dyed wood eggs, used the bleeding tissue paper, oil pastels, sticker relief, and natural dyes from cabbage, turmeric, and the like.

Now we're taking off to NatureLady's house to eat a little lamb. Don't tell Lo what it is!

HAPPY SPRING!!!! Hope you are all having a wonderful day no matter how you celebrate!

Easter '08-Chocolate bunnies=HOLLOW
Our family celebrates and rejoices in SPRING. EeeeeeeeeeEASTER......Meh.“Holidays” have become so tired anymore. Especially when you don’t adhere to any particular religious doctrine. Easter-another capitalistic bull-shit holiday. Easter-the epitome of obnoxious. The time of year when i could just PUKE pastels. I’ve decided that for next year I’m gonna get all Martha Stewarty and make my own damn chocolate bunnies. Shopping for Easter basket paraphernalia and the obligatory chocolate bunny at our local Big-Box Mart proved to be a surreal experience. I passed, unenthused, through aisle upon aisle of chintzy stuffed chicks and lambs, fussy foo-foo dresses, pastel schmunskies, and then on to the Isle of Chocolate Bunny Rabbit Sarcophagi . By the time I was halfway down the aisle I was wholly freaked. Repugnant rabbits! The eyes, oh those Blue and yellow EYES! Who’s the miscreant who decided on sticking candy eyes on the bunnies?!? Manic and Marty Feldmannesque! Those ocular orbits were on the verge of exploding forth from their cranial confection. They goggle all around in different directions like a chameleon’s! Those Psychedelic eyes… staring off at some other realm of existence. Those poor bastards must have eaten the brown acid… Chagrinned, I grabbed two of the least demented bunnies of the lot. "Parsnip Pete" to be exact. A kid’s gotta have a chocolate bunny in their Spring Basket, right? Upon receipt of her basket, my youngest one picked up and considered her Parsnip Pete for a moment… and promptly plucked off its eyes and ate them. “See! Now they’re friendly." She then asked her sister if she could “ have yoursez eyes?” Nope. Next year no more carny prizes. Just meaningful things. Homemade bunnies. My husband is a former/eternal pastry chef for Christsakes. Milk chocolate for the 4 year old. White chocolate for the 13 year old. And one for my hubby made with a Mayan flare! Ancho and cayenne! Chipotle! They will be ROCKIN’.

April 10, 2009

Bringing in the Spring

More spring pretties:

We're getting a little impatient for spring, now, so this past week we worked a bit more on creating our Inside Spring.

We glued some tissue paper blossoms on a branch

to go along with the ones being forced. Lo ripped little pieces from our tissue paper, crumpled them and gave a little twist to the bottom so that I could glue-gun them to the branch right on top of the actual buds. Kids can also use regular glue-it's trickier and since Lo has been sick she didn't have the patience for that! :(

Last week we started making Spring batiks on fabric. This one is quite easy. Using Elmer's glue(the blue kind that fades when dry is ideal-believe me! As you can see, we used white and it was difficult to see) kids can squeeze out or paint a Spring scene.

Lo made a flower garden on a sunny day and I made some budding birch trees. We let it dry over night and then painted them with watered down acrylics.

After drying another night we washed them to remove the glue. The colors faded quite a bit, much to Lo's chagrin, but I liked the effect! We attached them onto alder branches and left the edges of the fabric torn for a rough look. Wouldn't it be cool if they blossomed! Art in transition!

Aaaaaaaand, here we have your standard run-o-the-mill tissue paper and pipe cleaner butterflies. Perfect activity for Lo's lack of energy but quite pretty and cheering after we hung them on a branch by the window!

April 9, 2009

HEAVENS TO MURGATROIDS!!! It was my 1st BLOGIVERSARY!!! And I TOTALLY missed it. I'm like a guy that way.


I can't believe I just blazed past the fact that I've been blogging for one year!!!(And 6 days)

About a month ago I noticed it was coming up and thought,"OOOOO! I have great ideas for THIS!". Well, FAB! Now I don't have a lot of time to devote to it! I feel vomity and have the chills. Poor Lo has a fever. And...well...SHITE.

So with my spare moments, let's have a little look-see into the past year of MOUNTAIN PULSE. My blog began with the First Post, "The Beginning". I presented the purpose of this blog from a homeschoolish Waldorf perspective. But there were also other reasons for my taking up The Blog. I had a desire to share with people the breathtaking Alaskan world that surrounds me as well as the oftentimes exciting lifestyle we lead. On a more personal note, years ago I read a book called The Artist's Way. It's full of great resources and exercises for taping into or energizing one's latent creativity. One of the most integral exercises in the book is the Daily 3 Pages. Upon waking in the morning you write 3 pages of whatever comes to mind. The idea being that stream of consciousness writing will spark a creative awaking. I always had trouble staying committed to writing these morning pages. Blogging has been the only way, so far, that I have had some semblance of writing consistency. I don't blog every day, and my writing here has more purpose than just stream of consciousness, but it has gotten the juices flowing. It has also given me some focus to hone my writing skills.
(Thumbnails of past Mountain Pulse "fashion", the Origional and the Improved)
I had another blog going -Fluxgraphia-at the time I started writing this one. That one was more of a forum to vent about life-mostly my experiences with Attention Deficit Disorder-and to re-access and let loose the raw humor that I have tripping around inside me. Then, days after Sarah Palin was chosen for McInane's running mate, I decided to launch my political blog WE'RE NOT THAT STUPID to have a place to rant and rave about the jackassery that is Sarah Palin. I didn't want to taint and offend the "mommy blog" crowd. It wasn't long before I started to feel like I had multiple personality disorder with the 3 blogs. I also felt like I was no longer being true to who I am and what I wanted to experience with Lo by gearing our activities and blogging about them according to what I thought my readers might want to see. As much as I love to offer people something new or insightful, if it wasn't coming from me and my kid's own interests then I was just wasting my precious time. So I put and end to Fluxgraphia and moved most of those posts over here. I informed my readers that I was reverting back to the "real" me, hoped they could handle it and that they would stick around regardless. I still feel the need for further tweaking and revisiting my intentions with this blog but I'm happier with the way things are going now.

So this post will be my 207th and so far, I've had 14,451 visits. Poppy & Mei was my first visitor! That 1st post was just a test post and I deleted it-but I do remember her saying,"Hurry up and post! I can't wait!" A sweet intro to the friendly blogoshpere! Looking back at my first year Site Meter Stats, I can see which posts have gotten the most hits. By far the most popular post was Transitioning Through Walls of Lazure, a post on my experience with Lazure painting on the walls of our Waldorf school. I still get emails asking for more details so I will have to update that one!

2 of my next popular posts stand out a bit-I was surprised at first that they had so many hits but it didn't take long for me to realize why this one attracted attention! Perhaps because the title contained the words HOT, STEAMY and HEDONISM! (A post recounting our Anniversary dinner/date. Most of the "excitement" was about food!) Looks like a lot of people out there Googling from the bowels of their basement got the wrong idea!

The other one, New Years Eve, was just a meme for the new year. Not sure what the draw was there! I like an occasional meme if it's unique and fun to answer, and they can be a fun way to get to know a fellow blogger....but those blogs out there that are totally meme oriented, all linking to each other, every day another meme-WEIRD. How self absorbed can we get? I'd love to see "What's on your fridge?!" but I really don't care what kind of shoes you have on or who the last person who called your cell was! I had a Monday "Memeday" thing going for awhile. Some of those memes I found were so original, insightful, and/or a homage to something, but a couple were kinda dumb. I recommend clicking on my MEME label to see some of those interesting ones!

Fishing on the Russian River was #4. This was quite a multifaceted post showcasing Alaska, fishing, bear encounters, crafts, family and friends.

The rest of my most popular posts revolve around crafts-especially ones that have been featured on craft collective sites like Crafty Crow:

When looking back at the posts that received the most comments, my politically bent ones stand out-but they were transferred over to WE'RE NOT THAT STUPID . The next top three: LADYBUG, LADYBUG above. A sweat summer craft that became quite the controversial post. Many agreed with my sentiment on stay-at-home motherhood,"How could someone pay another person to get the honor and pleasure of experiencing these things -and many of the other great milestones and discoveries?!?! I was once one of those paid people. Those mommies and daddies have no idea what they missed...", but some took offense. I still stand by what I said, but did clarify a little more in the comments that I do take into consideration people's extenuating circumstances.)

DA BEARZ-wherein I describe last summer's bear infestation and how I accidentally blasted my kid with Bear (pepper) Spray!

This first year in blogging has been a great time for me. Perhaps in the next week or so I'll do more of a round up of this past years stuff. To quote an older post of mine,"Thank you!!! As much as I enjoy blogging and documenting my experiences, it IS really nice to know that somehow I may be contributing something special to others. Lordy knows, I've gained SO much from so many different people out there." To those who have become regular readers of MOUNTAIN PULSE, thank you for sharing this multidimensional journey with me. I look forward to the cyber future in the blogoshphere!
*Despite the fact that I'm making an effort to continue to blog for myself I am still quite curious to hear other opinions about what you read here. Most of all, I wonder if what you most enjoy reading is what I most enjoy writing. What brings you to Mountain Pulse? What have you enjoyed about this blog in the past, what would you like to see in the future? What have you found engaging-fun-enlightening, and what's been just...meh? Do you like the aesthetic changes of late? Is this blog easy to load up, read, navigate? Feel free to critique! I enjoy the idea of this being a homey place for to folks to enjoy a cuppa whatever while learning and/or sharing something new!

April 6, 2009

Spring Equinox revisited

They don't call me RunninL8 for nothin! I drive myself nuts not posting relevant stuff in a timely manner. But...better late than never,yes?

As you can see, it still be winter here. We're under about 2 ft of snowpack. Yesterday and last Thursday Lo and I went on a couple of great snowshoes up Bear Pass across the valley from our house. We brought a sled both times so that we could zip back down the mountain to the trailhead. Dea and I had tried this a few years ago. We brought big black trash bags to wear for our attempt to glacade down in a timely rip-roaring manner. The snow was a bit deep at that time and it just didn't work the way we had hoped. It was more of a butt-scoot to the bottom and we over-shot the trail and had to bushwhack back to the parking lot! Thursday, we tried out the roll up Whamo! sled which slid nicely but wouldn't stay on the packed down trail so there were a lot of stops and starts. Fun, none-the-less. Yesterday, Huz joined us and the 3 of us piled on a long cheepo plastic sled. The conditions and sled type were right because we careened hazardously down the mountain at a dangerous speed-me with visions of Natasha Richardson(my heart just bleeds for that family) in my head-having quite a bit of trouble using our heels to brake and steer. We hit a few patches of brush when Lo decided to hold on to my FACE instead of my waist, but we made it down in one piece. And because no one got hurt...THAT WAS ONE KILLER RIDE DOWN!!!!!! But next time, HELMETS for sure.

On the Spring Equinox, Lo and I went out to enjoy the wonderfully sunny, cloudless day. It was pretty hard to imagine SPRING with the cold wind nipping our noses. We went in search of signs of life, looking both high and down low for any new green. Our walk conjured up memories of when I was a child in new Jersey, walking to school and discovering the first crocuses popping up. A sign of warm weather and the end of the school year coming into sight! I'm not necessarily ready for winter to be over-still so much skiing, sledding and snowshoeing to do, but it would really thrill Lo to see one of those hearty flowers poking up from the snow! Not to be, here in Alaska! The ONLY new life emerging was at the very tippy tops of the willows on our property.

Little fuzzy pussy willows. Lo was excited to see them, wishing she could collect some. They were too high up but we did cut a couple branches to take inside and force-something we do each Spring Equinox so that there can be some semblance of spring! The idea is to get some opening buds, pussy willows and green leaves popping by Easter. Some may recall my post from last year on how hard it can be in Alaska to celebrate certain seasonal rhythms. We just have to make do with what we are offered and create more of a spring inside the house! Let's be glad we're NOT seeing signs of Spring on the Equinox because that would be a REALLY bad sign!!!

So, later that day we made sure our birds and squirrel buddy, Chit-chat, were stocked with food and we tidied up our little birdhouse with the see-through back in the hopes that this year a bird couple will use it! If anyone has tried one of these birdhouses, let me know how it went for you! Inside, nice and warm, we decided we would make our own nest and eggs for the nature table.

I found this cute yarn nest idea at No Time For Flash Cards but thought we could add our own twist to it.
We followed the instructions, dipping our yarn in Elmer's Glue and wrapping it around the bottom half of a balloon. But when the nest was dry and we popped the balloon out, 2 birdies went about the house searching for pieces of string and ribbons, bits of fabric, and tufts of colored wool to weave into the nest-just like real birds.

For our eggs, I bought some made of wood from Micheal's and Lo painted them blue with brown flecks. The flecking was done using a small brush with firm bristles and a plastic pallet knife. She just rubbed the knife along the bristles causing the paint to splatter.

They came out quite pretty and although the nest is a little over-the top with color, it's a nice addition for our table! We're thinking of adding some "findings" to the nest as well-buttons, charms, etc. I think we might try this nest making method to make a new (Easter) Spring basket for the Spring bunny to fill next weekend!