Lá Féile Pádraig

We celebrated all week in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day.


First order of business: make some brown bread.

Now some people call it “soda bread” but it calls for baking powder….











Next, have a scavenger hunt at the park….







And don’t forget to set a leprechaun trap!

We used a shoebox and camoflaged it with several shades of green paper, some glitter, some shamrocks, and a bit of Dubliner cheese. We sprinkled the trap with some Irish beer….. And we are still waiting to see if we catch one.

After all, there’s some gold to be gotten.





Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


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Fais Do-Do

Today we bring you a guest post from my eldest, Nibsy.

Note to reader (from Wikipedia):

Fais do-do is a name for a Cajun dance party, originating before World War II.  According to Mark Humphrey the parties were named for “the gentle command (‘go to sleep’) young mothers offered bawling infants.”  He quotes early Cajun musician Edwin Duhon of the Hackberry Ramblers, “She’d go to the cry room, give the baby a nipple and say, ‘Fais do-do.’ She’d want the baby to go to sleep fast, ’cause she’s worried about her husband dancing with somebody else out there.”

‘Do-do’ itself is a shortening of the French verb dormir (to sleep), used primarily in speaking to small children. Comparable to the American English “beddy-bye”, it is still commonly used by French-speaking people.”

And now, without further ado, is our guest post:

Recently, we went to the Mardi Gras Parade at Olvera Street. It was fun. 

Now Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday in French.  Mardi Gras comes from France. It is a big party and is the last day before Lent.

We made masks with our friends. Then we danced with our friends. Then we were in a parade. Then we watched as everyone tried to break the piñata. But it broke very fast so my friends and I didn’t get to try but we got lots of candy. 

Then we had lunch at La Golondrina. After that we had a churro at Mr. Churro. It was a churro relleno.  That means filled churro and ours had chocolate inside of it. We split one because they are very big. 

Then we went to the oldest fire station in Los Angeles and the Chinese American Museum. Then we said good-bye to our friends and got in the car and went home. 

by Niamh

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Turn Around….

“Where are you going my little one, little one?

March 2012

“Where are you going my baby my own?”

March 2008

“Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four….”

Getting my youngest dressed this morning put my heart sideways.  I will not resort to cliches, but I understand better everyday why my mother loves this lullaby.

PS: Dear Green T-shirt, thanks for the reminder.


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Amazing Grace

With no foreknowledge, my daughter picked my grandmother’s favorite song out of all the songs being taught in her violin workshop.  



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Signed, Sealed, Delivered

“All you need is love…” The Beatles

I am still not sure what my husband and I are doing for Valentine’s Day.  There’s still time.  We did get some crafts done around here though and had a great time doing them.

We made some Fimo hearts similar to those I saw posted on Oh Happy Day last year.  The girls then wore them to a Valentine’s  exchange that we had at the park this week.

Our contribution to the Valentine Holiday Co-op was inspired by a friend’s pin on Pinterest (Thanks Belem!)

Styrofoam Block-printed Valentines

So simple and fun! Reuse your styrofoam take out box or tray by making impressions into the surface with a pencil.  Use a brayer to spread paint over the surface and then print onto paper or other medium.

Decoupaged Valentine Mailboxes

“Here I am, baby……..”

“…signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours..”

Stevie Wonder


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A Sweet Disorder

“A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility —
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.”

Robert Herrick

I love Valentine’s Day.  I think it’s lovely to set one day aside a year (it would be nice if there were more really) to celebrate love.  And I know many people associate Valentine’s Day with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, and overpriced flowers, and forced dinner dates, and such.  But it doesn’t have to go that way.  I’m pretty certain St. Valentine wouldn’t have known  a box of See’s  from a Roman Senator.  My mother always gave me a little something for Valentine’s Day when I was a child.

We’ve got some crafts in the pipeline.  But while we’re gearing up for V-Day 2012, here’s a look at some of the crafts we’ve done in years past.

Paint Chip Valentines

Those great big paint chips work very well for making all kinds of cards and other crafts.  For this particular holiday, we stuck with reds, pinks, lavenders, and blues.  They can be trimmed, punched, or cut into shapes and mixed with various colors of card stock or scrapbook paper, and/or heart-shaped doilies to make some very sweet and pretty handmade Valentines.

Decoupaged Valentine Mailboxes

Something personalized is especially nice when you’re a person with an uncommon name.  Nibsy still has this little mailbox and she keeps special cards and letters in it.

I lucked upon a cache of mini mailboxes marked down for clearance in the craft store.  They were decorated with popular Disney characters from well known tween shows.  We covered up the Disney tweens and the mailboxes looked all the better for it.

All you need to decoupage a mailbox is:

  • A mailbox or other container suitable for holding important correspondence
  • Mod Podge
  • Assorted paper
  • A paintbrush
  • Patience
  • Sandpaper
We roughed up the exterior of the mailbox first.  Then we simply layered paper and decoupage glue in a crazy quilt-type pattern all over the box.  To finish, I wrote Nibsy’s name on a piece of paper with a calligraphy pen and we decoupaged that on as well.  Let it dry and it’s ready for use. We added a couple of heart stickers to the flag to keep with the Valentine motif.

Matchbox Valentines

I saw this idea on Inchmark.  I still think it’s adorable.

It’s very easy.  Take the matches out of the matchboxes.  Fill the empty matchboxes with candy or a surprise of some sort.  Then use scotch tape to secure trimmed pieces of construction or scrapbook paper to the exterior of the matchbox.  We got fancy with two different heart-shaped punches and some ribbon.  There are lots of different ways these could be done.

DIY Photo Valentines

Photo cards have become a pretty standard thing, especially at Christmas.  I like to make my own photo cards.

For these, I taped a red paisley tablecloth to the wall to use as a backdrop and then snapped away while my kids posed for the camera.  We used a couple of foam core conversation bubbles for this as well.  I saw this idea on Oh Happy Day and we have used the conversation bubbles a lot.  They are super fun as photo props.  I simply cut the foam core into an appropriate shape and then painted the bubbles with black chalkboard paint.

NOTE: Photographic subjects may not utilize props exactly as you might want them to, but sometimes the result is better for it.

DIY Valentine Photo Book

Nibsy is fascinated with the idea of making books.  We decided last year that along with the photo cards, we would also make some photo books.

Crafting, like love, is often messy but almost always worth the effort.

And now, I will excuse myself to ponder how my children look so much bigger and mature than they did last year.

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Hey kid, go take a hike!

Our homeschool group has started meeting for monthly hikes together. It is great to get out in the fresh air, get a bit of exercise, and give the children an opportunity to take in the local flora and fauna. I cannot help but see nature study, as defined by Charlotte Mason, as very similiar in its approach to what anthropologists call participant observation. By this I mean that the point of nature study is to understand nature by being in it, interacting with it, and feeling a connection with it; not by simply thumbing through a book filled with anyone else’s take on any of the subject matter.  And so, to my mind, nature study is also a way into understanding one’s place in the world and that we are all a part of nature.  It is very reminiscent of the paradox of ethnography: that in looking for the exotic we may find what is totally familiar, and vice versa.

“[Ethnography’s tradition] makes the familiar strange, the exotic quotidian.”

James Clifford

We live spitting distance from several old movie sets used in quite a number of Westerns, TV shows, and even the occasional horror flick. Scenic, it is indeed. Nibsy is reading The Little House in the Big Woods right now, so she got a kick out of hearing that Little House on the Prairie had been filmed, at least in part, at Corriganville. I am not sure how closely Corriganville actually resembles the prairie that the Ingalls family lived on, but it is where we live and I believe it is very useful to know about where you are from.

Nibsy and her friend trailed behind the rest of the group, stopping to observe and sketch anything that caught their interest: an oak gall, an animal print, a wild flower. Then again, what would be the hurry? Participant observation starts in your own backyard.

“Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”

Walt Whitman

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Children should be made early intimate with the trees, too; should pick out half a dozen trees, oak, elm, ash, beech, in their winter nakedness, and take these to be their year-long friends.”

Charlotte Mason

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Jane Goodall

“Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?”

Walt Whitman

“Look deep, deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything.”
Albert Einstein

“Children should be encouraged to watch, patiently and quietly, until they learn something of the habits and history of bee, ant, wasp, spider, hairy caterpillar, dragon-fly, and whatever of larger growth comes in their way.”

Charlotte Mason

“For those who have experienced the joy of being alone with nature there is really little need for me to say much more; for those who have not, no words of mine can even describe the powerful, almost mystical knowledge of beauty and eternity that come, suddenly, and all unexpected.”

Jane Goodall

“With regard to the horror which some children show of beetle, spider, worm, that is usually a trick picked up from grown-up people.”

Charlotte Mason

“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!”
John Muir


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