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This blog chronicles the adventures I share with my husband, daughter and son. It is also a place to share what I am learning as a homemaker, gardener, book lover and homeschooling mother. Welcome.

Monday, August 18, 2014

resident archer

I've always loved that my married name is Bowman
and the symbolism that provides of an archer.

My husband and I have talked for some time about enrolling Ella
in an archery class,
and when one became available earlier this month
we signed her up!

It was a two hour course, the first hour specifically on the eleven steps
of shooting a bow and arrow and the next hour practicing.
It turned out to be a small class, so Ella had plenty of time to practice.

She thoroughly enjoyed this experience,
so now we are researching which bow 
is the best investment.

Ella is strong and athletic, but doesn't gravitate toward traditional organized sports,
so finding outlets like this is wonderful for her.

Monday, August 11, 2014

august beauty

All I seem to write about in this season is the garden, 
but I think that is because I'm usually processing one vegetable per day for the freezer
and the garden provides such great pictures to share.

However, most of our time isn't actually spent in the garden
Sometimes it's spent drawing with Dad.

My daughter purchased You Can Draw by Parragon Books Ltd. recently,
and it's been a great resource of creativity for her.

Oh, here I am back to the garden photos, though!
Really, parts of the garden are turning crispy,
the decline is closer than I think,
Autumn will be here soon
and all these colorful photos will cease!
So I share them while they are here.

All of the Sunflowers growing in the yard were volunteers 
leftover from seed put in the bird feeders.

A new Squash for us called , Squash Zucchino Rapicante, 
but we've nicknamed it the Snake Squash.
It has a wonderful taste, sweet and mild, like the Pattypan Squash.

A new variety of Morning Glory given to me by my mother-in-law.
Quite a stunner, I think, with those blue stripes!

Wild Flower Coreopsis

Basket Gourd

Birdhouse Gourd

Grandma Jane's Cypress Vine
I didn't plant it from seed, this year,
but it voluntarily grew amongst the Zinnias and seems happy there 
using those plants as its trellis.

A raised bed full of Spinach, Cilantro, Swiss Chard and Kale - Yum!

The hens are much calmer now that those feisty Roosters were turned into our dinner!

It is back-to-school time, and what made sense to me when we first had children 
is what continues to make sense to me a decade later.

Fresh Air - Great Books - Healthy Food - 
Adequate Sleep - Gentle Routine - 
Time to Explore & Create - Diligence - Simplicity

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

days to come & summer reading

Cosmos and Zinnias

Cascades of Morning Glory


Swiss Chard

"Worn Out"

Cosmos and Zinnias

Walking Stick

We are reveling in all that is Summer, right now, but in the back of my mind I know a transition is coming for our routine. These past three days have been spent solely at home for me and the children, something unusual for us during the break. I did this intentionally, since I saw that the calendar had nothing scheduled for these days, and because I wanted to see what we would do with ourselves. As it turns out, we have been happily occupied with cooking, cleaning, reading, building, creating, gardening, playing outside, dog sitting and more. The weather, just in the lower 80's, has contributed to our homebounded-ness because any higher and we'd be poolside. This time at home has given me visions of our schooling days and just how good they are, for all of us. I see the need to change up our learning days to manage the strengths and weaknesses of both children (and myself!). I'm excited to have had this break as a way of mentally decompressing from the routine, of what did work at one time, and to examine what changes can take place for us all to thrive. My children are growing. At ages eight and ten I'm in awe of the sweet relationships that exist, the amazing time we have together, the communication that takes places. Although taking the time to be with one's children is marketed as "sacrificial" I just can't help feeling such wealth when I'm with them.

I've been meaning to recommend three authors we've been enjoying over the Summer:
Felix Salten, Rick Riordan and Elizabeth Goudge.

Rick Riordan wrote the Percy Jackson series, a contemporary take on the Greek gods and their half-mortal/half-god children. My ten-year-old loved this series (we read it together) and is begging me to start the next series, Heroes of Olympus, with her. After a heavy dose of the Greek gods and all their drama, we're taking a break for the moment!

Felix Salten wrote Bambi, Bambi's Children, Renni the Rescuer and A Forest World. My eight-year-old and I read these books together, and he loved them. Salten has a beautiful way of describing the natural world in a way that transports the reader to that place, but also educates about the ways of the animals within that space. Renni the Rescuer is the only book that departs from the forest, and takes place on the battlefiled as Renni is trained to rescue injured soldiers. As is true in the natural world and war there is sadness and death. The author does not prolong this subject, but I wouldn't read these stories to children six and under. By the way, the Bambi books are nothing like the Disney movies. I enjoy the movies, but these books are wonderful in their realistic scope of story.

I can't say enough about Elizabeth Goudge. What an amazing author. Each book that I have opened has impressed me, and so far I have read four and am working on my fifth. She wrote in the early 1900's, and each book seems to have redemption at its core. Yet that description can be misleading. Goudge, like Salten, transports. Salten's world is mostly nature, but Goudge has her settings in villages, small towns, homes and all seem to have gardens and woodlands nearby. Her descriptions of the gardens, for this gardener, are almost as wonderful as the story and characters which they frame. My daughter and I have read The Little White Horse, a wonderful, fantasy tale and we are now reading Linnets and Valerians (complete with a pet owl, a pet monkey, a giant, a cave in the mountain, a book of spells, a man with amnesia, and four siblings to experience it all!. So far, these are the only two that, to me, are children's books. I have read The Scent of Water (which is probably my favorite so far; I could live in the cottage that is the main setting), The Dean's Watch (which, yes, is about a watchmaker, a dean and although redemptive, terribly sad) and now am working on The Castle on the Hill (which is set in England during World War II giving it a despairing context, but the characters are interesting and the gardens so descriptive that I have to continue reading). These three stories are for adults. Goudge has written many, many more books so I will stay with her for some time.

I am now tasked with finding what book my son and I can read together next as he began inquiring about this just before we finished A Forest World today!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

pattypan squash

Part of our everyday is to now search out squash bugs and cucumber beetles (to kill them!), harvest from the garden, and freeze what large portions of vegetables have accumulated. This morning I processed six large squash, two of which were the beautiful squash seen below, called White Scallop or Pattypan. This is the first year we've grown this squash variety, and we are more than pleased. It is a hearty grower, our largest producer this year so far, is a harder squash (as compared to zucchini that are so watery), and are sweet to the taste. 

I love dicing these, removing the seeds, sauteeing in olive oil and served with a dash of sea salt. Simple and so good! These are also great for freezing, just like any other squash, and visions of soup are in my head for a cold day. Our days are filled with so many fresh vegetables in June, July and August that I really desire to figure out how to extend the goodness to the rest of the year. I think each year we do better and better. Although we didn't intend to add any more garden boxes this year (for next year's growing season), when my husband mentioned last night about expanding the garden I admit that I got excited...

Monday, July 21, 2014

cock-a-doodle-do! {uh-oh}

As previously mentioned, soon after we brought home four new chicks in early Spring, Barred Rocks, we had a feeling that two out of the four were male. We're giving the farmer who sold us the chicks grace on this considering the chicks cost around $2 each and this breed can be difficult to differentiate between male and female. Lesson learned regarding Barred Rocks. 

Besides the fact that roosters are not allowed in our city, we don't even want them! All we want are happy, contented hens laying eggs. That's all.

As soon as I saw two of the chicks acting mean (pecking the each other to the point of drawing blood) and not wanting to be held, I knew that I would be having a fresh chicken dinner in the Summer.

Last week was THE week. The end times for our roosters. They had become large enough to where we knew we would get enough meat for dinner off of them, AND, they were crowing. At first the crows were funny attempts at these guys strutting their manliness, meaning it sounded more like croaking than crowing. However, near the end of their days their crows were loud, clear and frequent throughout the day. 


My husband did the deed. I thought I'd be brave and view the actual process of "taking care of" the roosters, but I couldn't bring myself. Jesse did the work after sundown to make it easier on himself AND the chicken. He took two separate nights for the two roosters, because it is a bit of work to kill, skin and cut the meat so that I am willing to accept it in my refrigerator. The first rooster actually provided a great dinner. I simply rinsed the meat, put it in the crockpot with broth and herbs and let it cook on low for the entire day. I cut it up and added it to saffron rice and sauteed garden vegetables for a stirfry. It was a great dinner!

I wasn't brave enough to tell the children before dinner that they were eating the rooster, but near the end of the meal when their plates were almost clean I said, "well, kids, tonight you ate one of the roosters." All they did was smile and say, "Really?!" Whew! I was worried there would be tears since my kids adore animals, but I don't think these roosters found a place in their sweet hearts. The other meat is resting in the freezer waiting to be cooked for another dinner.

We've toyed with the idea of growing meat chickens, but haven't committed to it. We need to find a four month window of time to take care of them, and then have the time to process them. After enjoying our rooster stirfry meal, maybe we'll pursue that interest sooner than later.