Thursday, May 31, 2012

End of May Garden and Crafting Update

The end of May is here, and some beautiful flowers are blooming in the garden.

The Mountain Lilies have bloomed, my purple flower bulb garden bed has been very fun to watch this spring, looks like the drumstick allium will be next.

This surprising snapdragon is blooming for the third year now, I thought snapdragons were annuals so I was surprised to see it again, it must be reseeding itself, I love the vibrant deep reddish pink, I am hoping to visit the garden center for a few more.

I planted one black Iris last fall, and I have been eagerly awaiting it's bloom, Sunday we came home, and this beauty was finally open.  I love the dark purple, definitely worth waiting for!

The California Poppies are looking beautiful in the corner, I have always loved these easy to grow flowers, I love that they reseed so nicely.  We have them growing all over town, and they look so happy.

The Irish and Scottish Moss are covered in their little white flowers.

We have also harvested the first of our spring plantings, these Easter Egg variety radishes turned out very nice, I love the variety of colors and sizes.  I will be replanting these throughout the summer in a small pot.  Tonight we enjoyed them on top of our salad.

Something about nice sunshine pouring in through the windows gives me lots of extra energy for crafting, I have been busy with needle felting all week.  I am currently working on a needle felted Jonah and the whale for my Sunday school class, sadly I ran out of the blue I was using for the whale right at the end of its tail, so I will have to place a wool order before I can finish, I look forward to posting it.  

Since I had to set my Jonah project to the side, I found a half done project that I had abandoned, and decided to turn it into a little log with a toadstool growing out of it, I have also been adding some more gnomes to our collection.

Then I decided it would be fun to make a needle felted woman for each season, and so I started with a doll for summer.  She is dressed in a berry colored dress with pink and dark blue accents, she has long brown hair held in the back with a floral barrette.  I can picture her walking through a garden, and she fits in nicely with my summer Americana decor.

I am excited for summer break to start, I love the relaxed days of summer.  I am looking forward to spending more time with the kids and working out in the garden, cooking fresh summer foods, as well as crafting away on all the projects I have in mind.

You can also check out pictures from our recent day hike to Mt. Tabor.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Volcano in the City- Our Mt. Tabor Hike

For memorial weekend I thought it would be nice for the family to get out for a nice day hike. One of my favorite parks to explore is about 45 minutes away, right in Portland, Mt. Tabor Park, which is home to one of only three extinct volcanoes, within a city, in the lower 48 States, the other is in Bend, Oregon, and the other in Jackson, Mississippi. (Of course we also have plenty of potentially active Volcanoes nearby as well, like Mt. St. Helens which erupted when I was in the first grade and covered the ground in ash).  Gary and I used to hike through Mt. Tabor park all the time, we used to live only a few minutes away from this park, and loved bringing the kids and dogs.  The weather turned out absolutely perfect for a hike, no rain, and slightly overcast, not too hot, not too cold.

We enjoyed hiking through all the beautiful trees.

I was really looking forward to hiking up this stairway, this photo doesn't even reach the top I believe there were a couple more flights beyond this, as well as one below.  Quite the workout for sure!

Here are Sarah and Joseph part way up.

Then I decided it would be the perfect place to get a few family photos.

We made it to the top and the view was wonderful!

The sun filtering through the tree canopy was beautiful.

The grass was covered in little English Daisies.

Even with the slightly cloudy sky you could see for quite a distance.

We stopped to check out some of the mossy trees.

There were plaques in the ground with great quotes, I really loved this one.  "Take time to relax and watch the world around you."  I wholeheartedly agree!

We stopped to notice the deep grooves in the Douglas Fir, and remembered the way we used to be taught how to remember the identity of this tree by the bark, back in Outdoor school we were taught that it was the  "grooviest tree in the forest" because of its deep grooved bark.

We came upon this large statue of Harvey Scott, a pioneer, newspaper editor and historian.  The statue's base was under restoration so we couldn't get too close, the statue is pretty tall, so it was neat to see among the fir trees.

This is a view we had of downtown Portland.

The restroom buildings were wonderful old brick buildings, the moss covered roof was very pretty, we all appreciate old buildings.

Here was another pretty staircase, I'm not sure why, but I love stone stairs.  I once saw a local special about a photographer who went around Portland taking pictures of the multitude of public stairways in the city, the pictures were great, what a fun thing that would be to explore!

Had to get a picture of this lamppost- I immediately thought of Narnia!

This tree had a very odd trunk growth.

Here is another knobby trunk.

After quite a bit of a hike, we finally made it the other side of the park to the water reservoirs.  Love the castle type brick buildings around the reservoirs.

After checking out the reservoirs a bit, as well as a few more views of the city, it was time to head on to the Volcano cinder cone.  This sign talks a little bit about the extinct volcano, and is set in volcanic rock.

The caldera is also next to an outdoor amphitheater, and was very pretty to walk around.

Here are some close up pictures of the cinder cone area.

The layers of volcanic rock were interesting, and I loved the green growing around it.

The wall surrounding the amphitheater is made of volcanic rock, and is covered in a pretty moss.

Sarah and Joseph found the perfect branch for a picture by the amphitheater.

We also had to get pictures by the volcano.

And one more picture, for good measure, on the theater stone benches.  We were all being funny at this point and having quite a fun time joking around.

After we were done exploring, it was time to head back to the car, we were parked near the visitors center, and thought this turret like part of the building was pretty neat.

We also spotted this beautiful flower growing along the parking area, it's petals have a crinkly edge, I'm not sure what it is, but it was beautiful, a nice little plant to spot on our way home.

We had a wonderful time exploring this park, and look forward to going back again, it was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon getting some exercise and fresh air.

Friday, May 25, 2012

52 Weeks of Fairy Tales Week #21 -Beauty and the Beast

This week's fairy tale #21 is the well known story of Beauty and the Beast.  I have always enjoyed this beautiful story and it is also one of my daughter's favorites.

The story of Beauty and the Beast tells of a wealthy merchant and his three beautiful daughters.  The youngest daughter is named Belle (or Beauty) because she is both beautiful and pure of heart. Her two older sisters are beautiful but very selfish and materialistic.  One day the merchant learns that a great storm has sunk his merchant ships and he has lost his fortune.  The family, who was used to living very well, must now live in a farmhouse, and the daughters must help work to make ends meet.

After quite some time, the merchant hears that one of ships has survived after all, so he must go into the city to see what can be salvaged of his fortune.  He asks his three daughters what they would like from the city.  The two older daughters were only thinking how their wealth might be back, so selfishly they ask for dresses and jewels, Belle only asked for a rose, as none grew around where they lived, and because it was a more simple gift to ask for.

Unfortunately, when the merchant arrived in the city, he found that his ship's possessions had been taken to pay his debts, so he must head back to the farmhouse as poor as when he left.  On the way home, the merchant becomes lost in the forest, and finds a castle in which to take shelter.  Inside the castle, there is plenty of food set out for him, but no person is around.  The merchant accepts the unseen owner's gift of food and shelter, and then in the morning heads out to make his way back home.  On his way out of the castle gardens he sees beautiful roses growing in the garden, and remembering Belle's request, he picks a rose to bring back to her.

At that moment a Beast appears, the beast tells the merchant that his roses are his most precious possession, and since the merchant has stolen one, that he must die.  The merchant explains that he picked the rose for his daughter, and that he didn't mean any harm.  The beast says that he will spare the merchants life and let him bring the rose to his daughter, as long as he promises to return in one week or the daughter comes in his place.  The merchant agrees, and the beast sends him on his way with a chest full of treasure.

When he arrives home his daughters are very sad, and Belle agrees to go back to the castle in her father's place.  When she arrives back at the beast's castle she is treated very well, and the beast tells Belle that she is mistress of the castle.  She is given fine clothing and food.  Every evening at dinner the Beast sits and talks with Belle, after awhile Belle becomes more comfortable with the beast.  Every evening the Beast asks Belle to be his wife, because she is honest, Belle tells the Beast that they can only ever be friends, but each night he still asks.

After months of living in luxury at the castle Belle becomes quite homesick, and begs to go and see her family.  The beast agrees to let Belle go and visit her family if she promises to return in one week.  He sends her with a magic ring and magic mirror, the ring will allow her to return to the castle at once when turned three times around her finger, and the mirror will allow her to see what is happening at the castle.

When Belle arrives home, her sisters are surprised to see her so well fed and so beautifully dressed, and they become jealous of Belle.  When they find out that she must return in one week, the sisters trick Belle in to staying longer by rubbing onion in their eyes to make them cry and look distraught. They hope the beast will become angry with Belle and eat her up.  Belle believes her sisters' act, and agrees to stay a little longer.

Soon Belle starts feeling guilty about breaking her promise to the beast, the beast is her friend and has only ever been kind to her.  She uses her magic mirror to see what is happening at the castle and is sad to see that the Beast is lying half-dead in the rose garden.  Quickly she uses her ring to return home to the beast.

Belle finds the Beast nearly dead, and she begins weeping over him, and says that she loves him.  When her tears fall onto the Beast he is transformed into a handsome prince.  He explains that many years ago he was turned into a beast by a fairy who was angry at him for not letting her into the castle from the rain, and that the only way to break the curse was to find true love even though he was an ugly beast.  Belle and the prince got married and lived happily ever after.


In other versions of this tale, Belle also has three brothers, and another twist is that her sisters who were so awful are cursed to live as statues in the castle until they learn the error of their ways.  I really enjoy this story, and how it addresses the true beauty of having a good heart, and how Belle falls in love with the Beast despite his looks.  I think this is a very beautiful fairy tale.

For my craft his week I decided to make a little Belle doll.

She is a wire frame doll, with a wool felt dress.  Her dress is embroidered with hearts to represent her pure heart, and she carries a little rose as well.

I like the way she turned out, and she is fitting in quite nicely with all the other fairy tale dolls on the bookcase. :)

Instructions to make wire frame dolls can be found in my favorite doll crafting book by Salley Mavor - Felt Wee Folk.