Ephemeral

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Autumn Leaves

In the hush and the lonely silence
Of the chill October night,
Some wizard has worked his magic
With fairy fingers light.
The leaves of the sturdy oak trees
Are splendid with crimson and red.
And the golden flags of the maple
Are fluttering overhead.
Through the tangle of faded grasses
There are trailing vines ablaze,
And the glory of warmth and color
Gleams through the autumn haze.
Like banners of marching armies
That farther and farther go;
Down the winding roads and valleys
The boughs of the sumacs glow.
So open your eyes, little children,
And open your hearts as well,
Till the charm of the bright October
Shall fold you in its spell.
—Angelina Wray

This is my neighbor’s tree. In the span of two days it turned the most brilliant, fiery scarlet orange—the kind of color that seems to pulse and throb in the sunshine. Two days later it had shed every leaf and its branches were completely bare. My neighbor is a diligent man, with a tidy lawn and tidy house and tidy children. He cleaned up the entire pile of leaves in one afternoon, before they were even dry. Before anyone jumped in them.

Tutorial: Michael’s Sword Napkin Holders for Michaelmas

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Can you feel it in the air? Michaelmas is coming!

This craft project is one that I created for the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival E-Book published by Little Acorn Learning. I’m posting it here courtesy of Little Acorn Learning. Please take a moment to look at all the fun projects and crafts and celebration ideas offered in our e-book. It provides so many wonderful, Waldorf-inspired ideas for enjoying this early fall season.

Michael’s Sword Napkin Holders

This simple craft project is one that the kids can do mostly on their own, with a little supervision. The napkin holders are a perfect special touch for your holiday table and a special Michaelmas meal.

Materials

  • toilet paper rolls (each makes two napkin holders)
  • masking tape
  • wide popsicle sticks
  • narrow half-size popsicle sticks
  • heavy-duty scissors
  • sandpaper
  • blue acrylic paint (or your preferred color)
  • yellow watercolor paint
  • paintbrushes
  • mod podge
  • gold glitter (optional)
  • low temperature glue gun and glue stick

Tutorial

Cut your toilet paper holders into halves. Try not to squish them too much. Wrap each ring with masking tape. It can be smooth or bumpy.

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With your blue acrylic paint, paint the tape covered rings thoroughly and let them dry.

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With heavy-duty scissors, cut one end of a wide popsicle stick to a point. If your stick splits, discard it and try another.

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With sandpaper, sand the pointed end so that it’s smooth and without splinters. This is the sword blade.

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Paint all of the sword blades and the same number of short popsicle sticks with a wash of golden watercolor paint. Let the pieces dry. When the blue rings are completely dry, coat them with a coat of mod podge. Paint it on just like paint. Let them dry again.

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With a little mod podge, you can add just a little gold glitter to your blue rings. Less is more for this step, or simply skip this part, if you prefer. Let the rings dry completely.

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Meanwhile, arrange your sword blades and cross pieces. Be sure all the wood pieces are completely dry before attempting to glue them. Apply a small dot of hot glue to the sword blade, add the cross piece, and press firmly. Repeat this for all the swords. (Supervise the kiddos during this stage. The little swords may be VERY exciting!)

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Add a little wavy line of hot glue to your dry blue ring.

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Quickly add a sword and press it down firmly.

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Let them set. Store the napkin rings someplace safe until the Michaelmas festival arrives.

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For your special Michaelmas meal, ask the children to pull a pretty napkin through each Michael sword napkin ring and set the table.

Check out the other ideas for a special Michaelmas meal in the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas Festival E-Book published by Little Acorn Learning. Here is a teaser of all the sweet projects you’ll find in the e-book. Click on the link or the mosaic picture. Eileen Straiton and I would be honored if you would share. xo

Taste of the Contents of Our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book

133 PAGES of verses, fingerplays, poems, song, crafts, meditations, book recommendations, circle times, recipes, and much more to guide you in celebrating the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas

in your home or school!
  • Needle Felt a Beautiful Apple Mother Doll
  • Go on an Apple Picking Field Trip and Learn
    About Different Varieties of Apples
  • Design a Breathtaking Early Autumn Nature Table
  • Read Books with the Children Celebrating
    Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Make Your Own Apple Stamps
  • Enjoy Homemade Applesauce Together
  • Crochet an Apple for Your Nature Table or Play Kitchen
  • Create a Beautiful Autumn Candle Holder Centerpiece
  • Make an Archangel Michael Mobile
  • Harvest Natural Dye Materials from Outdoors and
    Make Capes of Light Playsilks
  • Hold a Michaelmas Family Feast
  • Create Dragons out of Nature Items
  • Bake Dragon Bread with the Children
  • Make a Dragon Tree Block Checker Set
  • Sculpt Dragons out of Modeling Material
  • Cut Out Paper Flying Dragons to Display on Your Wall
  • Make a Michaelmas Felt Play Set
  • Paint an Autumn Leaf Stencil Painting with Watercolors
  • Crochet Beautiful Autumn Leaves for Your Nature Table
  • Paint Your Own Interpretation of Michael and the Dragon
  • Look Inward and Face Your Own Dragons with our Caregiver Meditation
  • Share Verses and Songs About Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Meditate on Quotes from Steiner and Other Inspirational Individuals
  • Enjoy Pinecone Weaving
  • Share Circle Time Together
  • Make Michael Sword Napkin Holders
  • Sculpt Michaelmas Worry Beads
  • Craft an Autumn Equinox Wreath

So, if you’re wondering how to make this time of year feel magical, this e-book may be just what you need. Thanks for peeking!

Only $24.99

Authors:
~ Eileen Straiton,
Little Acorn Learning

~ Sara Wilson, Love in the Suburbs

With Guest Contribution from Jennifer Tan, Syrendell

 

 

Saint Martin Chant

N and Asher

Monday is Martinmas. I’m planning on taking the kids out for a nighttime walk, to take in the cold November night and remember how grateful we are for our many blessings of warmth and safety, full bellies, friendship and light. In the spirit of generosity, I share my little poem with you.

Saint Martin Chant

© by moi, Sara E. Wilson

Into the night, we bravely go!
Within our lanterns a sprightly glow,
Within our hearts a kingly flow
Of sharing and loving to show.

Into the world, we boldly walk,
Singing our courage around the clock.
We listen to others as much as we talk.
Even in darkness, we never do balk.

In giving to others, we ourselves grow.
Thanks to Saint Martin, by giving we know
We reap so much more than ever we sow.
We march for the good, our spirits aglow.

Lantern for Lucas

Beeswax Lanterns

This poem was written originally for Little Acorn Learning’s November Enrichment Guide, which happens to be on sale at the moment at $19.99—$5 off the normal price. Among many other wonderful offerings for the month of November, this e-book features stories of peace and light, lantern songs, and a puppet show for Martinmas.

Enjoy!

Reusing

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I am pulling winter clothes out of the totes stockpiled in the garage, hoping that some of these pants will fit Asher now. The few pairs of pants in his dresser are now too small, and the trees’ brilliant hues are telling me that cold weather is coming. I try telling my boys that, but they still insist on shorts and bare feet, whenever they can get away with it.

I do this turning over of belongings several times a year, unearthing Lucas’s old items from years’ past and diving into bags of clothes outgrown by friends’ children. The process isn’t pretty. Things are dusty and worn. I never manage to make the garage pile neat again when I’m done, much to my husband’s dismay. I also inevitably find a bag or box of forgotten items we just accidentally missed out on reusing. Sometimes, timing is everything.

This suburban archaeology makes me realize how my boys are always growing, growing, growing—whether I am OK with it or not. I feel nostalgic when I touch some old things again, after several years of their being absent and in storage, and I sometimes feel sad when giving current now-too-small things away. However, mostly I feel connected and grateful whenever I do this. I know that families all over the world do this very thing, every season or two, hoping to eek a little more use out of this shirt, these socks, those pants. We pass items along to younger siblings or friends, or strangers, with the hope of being helpful. And this pleases me.

To all those who have passed well-loved and still-useful items to us, thank you. Your generosity keeps us warm.

Favorite Fall Soup: Butternut Squash and Leek

Butternut Squash and Leek Soup

This is by no means a foodie blog. My food photos aren’t pretty enough and I don’t spend most of every day in the kitchen. Nor do I have all the gizmos and gadgets and pretty work surfaces and good lighting. Nevertheless, I do cook good stuff.

Here is my favorite fall soup hands down (and I love soups—my kids say I specialize in soups and stews). I present it here because some friends on Facebook have been asking for it. Incidentally, I never measure when cooking this. I don’t think it’s possible to screw this up.

Butternut Squash and Leek Soup

This soup makes a wonderful fancy starter for a holiday meal, but also serves as an easy, earthy weeknight dinner when paired with a salad and bread.

3 lbs. butternut squash
4 tablespoons butter (or olive oil with a tablespoon of butter for flavor)
3 large leeks, washed well, halved, and chopped.
6 fresh thyme sprigs, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 oz. cooked bacon, chopped (or fake bacon, or omit entirely)
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup sour cream
2  tablespoons chopped chives

Slice the squash in half and scrap out the seeds. Cook the butternut squash, cut side down, in a baking pan with a little olive oil in it, in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. I usually turn the oven off and let the oven cool with the squash still in there. Cooking the squash well is the difference between this recipe being easy and fighting for your soup; and cooking the squash early in the day makes this next part nicer: Scrape the cooked squash from its skin.

Let’s take just a tiny moment and contemplate the humble leek. Leeks are WONDERFUL! Seriously, why aren’t leeks in everything?! Just be sure to wash them well, because soil can get trapped among the layers of the plant as it grows.

In a large pot, melt butter (or heat olive oil) over low heat. Add the chopped leeks and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are soft and browned, approximately 40 mins. If you get distracted and/or have the heat too high, they may burn. Trust me on that. Discard thyme stems, if you used fresh thyme.

In a frying pan, cook the bacon until crispy, drain the fat, and chop the bacon into crumbles.

Put broth, squash, and salt into the pot with the cooked leeks. Simmer over moderate heat about 20 minutes. With handheld blender, puree soup until it’s smooth. Add pepper.

Serve soup warm with 1 teaspoon sour cream, some bacon crumbles, and some chives in each bowl. Serves 6, or so.

My friend Sonya tried this recipe last night and she thinks it’s the thyme that makes it awesome. Her teenage exchange student from Germany liked it so much he reheated it this morning and ate it for breakfast. That’s quite an endorsement, I think!

 

Recipe is adapted from Food & Wine Books, Soups and Stews, 1994.

And So It Turns

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I actually asked myself today, “where can I write about all these feelings I have to process them?”  Um … oh yeah! I have a blog.

It’s a full, exciting time and I am finding myself short on spare time. But, when I don’t write, I get kinda weird in the head, so I think it would be good for me to write more. This is a lesson I seem to have to relearn frequently.

Morning workout, 8-week fitness challenge, Waves Women

I’m back in the saddle with the whole exercise-for-fitness journey, which is my conflicted little hamster wheel. (It had been a long time since I was exercising regularly and I won’t bore anyone with the reasons why.) For the last seven weeks I’ve been going two mornings a week to a workout with a group of moms from our school. I call us the Waves Women, though our group has no official name. One lovely, enthusiastic lady recently became a personal trainer and she offered to whip us into shape in an eight-week program. I caught wind of this group a little late, but joined up. We’ve been exercising in the mornings in the park right next to the Waldorf school. The workouts at first were a little hard for me, but they’ve become much easier. And while I kind of hated it at first, as I have come to know these women better, I really have come to enjoy the whole experience. Because they are awesome. They show up and bellyache and laugh and try and modify and encourage each other. It’s very real and wonderful. (Many thanks to Black Francis for taking the photo above and letting me publish it here.)

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So, I would just like to say thank you to Meredith for giving her time and encouragement and energy, and thanks to all these super people for making this experience fun for me. Turns out I like working out with people I know!

I’ve also been doing a lot more walking and running lately. I’ve been walking with several friends semi-regularly and running a couple of times a week—but I had a cold for part of October and that slowed me down a bit. One day I walked 8 miles because I didn’t feel up to running, but walking was just right.

Good morning

It’s hard to go wrong when you can get out to places like this within just a few minutes. So, anyway … fitness. My motto right now is “Do more.” We’ll see where that takes me, but I can tell that I’m in a better place for it.

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This past weekend I acted as the officiant in the wedding of two dear friends. I was honored to be asked to do this work, and I am so happy for them. The whole thing was beautiful and I’m very pleased with how the ceremony turned out. Ian was the Best Man, and that meant that our boys were rather on their own for much of the day’s festivities. They were super good and I’m proud of them. There will probably be photos from the day floating about, but I confess I took none. I was too nervous before the ceremony to even think about getting out my camera or my phone.

Writing and performing this wedding ceremony has had me thinking a lot about love and commitment. About how two people can honor each other through time and changes and growth. How you continue to blend two lives in concert when people have differing needs and wants. I know that it takes work and patience and understanding. I know it takes open dialogue and discussion and that isn’t always pretty stuff. I know marriage includes a lot of unglamorous things that fall into the highly unsexy categories of “Daily Grind,” and “Working the Plan,” and “Roles.” I’m 18 years into my marriage and it’s frequently bewildering but always rewarding. It isn’t a fairytale, however, and no marriage can be—unless we’re talking about the kind of fairytale in which fingers get pricked and sacrifices are made and sometimes the woods are dark and scary.

Anyway, here’s what I know about love: It doesn’t fall from the sky or blossom at your feet without effort. You make it, and make it, and remake it, again and again, every day. You plant the seeds of love in a thousand little actions every day. What I don’t know about love and marriage is a lot longer than this paragraph, I’m sure.

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And now, about Halloween. I am feeling like I blew it this year. But I also know I don’t need to feel that way. I know that in the past I’ve set the bar for our Halloween costumes pretty high, and this year—well, the wedding and my work ate up Halloween. We will still go trick-or-treating. We will still see friends and enjoy our spooky night. Our kids will end up wearing something. Lucas has taken point on his assassin costume. He’s relaxed about it, and not worried about it being fantastic. Asher is going as a potion maker, and we have found a couple of items at the thrift store and he’ll carry with him tiny bottles of colored potions. That’s all his idea and I don’t have to control it. Right? Right.

I love Halloween, and I will have other opportunities to go mad about it. Just not this year. And that’s OK.

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So, maybe this post is about starting again, about continuing to try, about compromise and doing the good work, and about forgiveness. Maybe.

Free Time on Their Day Off

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What could be better on a day off than a nature walk?

Nature walk

We are blessed to live just five minutes from the glorious and extensive American River Parkway. Although I grew up around here, I really didn’t use this local resource until I had children of my own. I revel in the opportunity to spend a few hours in the middle of what seems like nowhere— sometimes, on days like this, we can carve a glorious afternoon out of our busy schedules.

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Out here, the sky is bluer, the dry grasses smell sweeter, the fallen acorns are plentiful, and the sunshine through the wild grapes vines and wild figs is like millions of stained-glass windows in gold and green, orange and red. The river runs swift most of the year, and right now the salmon are struggling upstream to spawn.

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But on this day, we never made it to the actual river. We found a sleepy pond with cool, clear water and a sandy beach. Our hike fizzled here, in favor of staying and playing in water and on shore.

Always striving

There was important leaping to do.

Flight

And flying.

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You can see why we stayed, right? Even our little dog deigned to get his fancy paws wet and dirty.

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He’s not much of a water dog, but we’ve seen him become braver over the last couple of years as we have taken him along with us on our family adventures in nature.

Jump!

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Lucas waded far out into the water to pick up this damaged dragonfly. After a few moments of resting in Lucas’s hand, it flew away despite missing half a wing.

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The whole thing was utterly sublime—sparkles on the water and yogic reflections, warm sun, and a cool breeze in the shade—until my boys realized that this was an ideal place to play shoot-’em-up war games. And since my rules on such behavior are “No shooting/war in the house” and “No shooting/explosions/laser sound effects in the car,” I had to admit they were within bounds to play that game there. We moseyed on home not too long after they started that, however.

Great blue heron

This is a great blue heron surveying his territory. He sat there on his perch like a king the whole time we enjoyed his pond.

E-Book for Equinox and Michaelmas Festivals

E-Book Cover

For any new readers, I would like to humbly mention that we have a beautiful e-book for sale that is perfect for this special time of year. This one is our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book. Eileen and I are really proud of it.

Here is a mosaic of just some of the images from the projects and activities we offer in our e-book.

Taste of the Contents of Our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book

133 PAGES of verses, fingerplays, poems, song, crafts, meditations, book recommendations, circle times, recipes, and much more to guide you in celebrating the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas
in your home or school!
  • Needle Felt a Beautiful Apple Mother Doll
  • Go on an Apple Picking Field Trip and Learn
    About Different Varieties of Apples
  • Design a Breathtaking Early Autumn Nature Table
  • Read Books with the Children Celebrating
    Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Make Your Own Apple Stamps
  • Enjoy Homemade Applesauce Together
  • Crochet an Apple for Your Nature Table or Play Kitchen
  • Create a Beautiful Autumn Candle Holder Centerpiece
  • Make an Archangel Michael Mobile
  • Harvest Natural Dye Materials from Outdoors and
    Make Capes of Light Playsilks
  • Hold a Michaelmas Family Feast
  • Create Dragons out of Nature Items
  • Bake Dragon Bread with the Children
  • Make a Dragon Tree Block Checker Set
  • Sculpt Dragons out of Modeling Material
  • Cut Out Paper Flying Dragons to Display on Your Wall
  • Make a Michaelmas Felt Play Set
  • Paint an Autumn Leaf Stencil Painting with Watercolors
  • Crochet Beautiful Autumn Leaves for Your Nature Table
  • Paint Your Own Interpretation of Michael and the Dragon
  • Look Inward and Face Your Own Dragons with our Caregiver Meditation
  • Share Verses and Songs About Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Meditate on Quotes from Steiner and Other Inspirational Individuals
  • Enjoy Pinecone Weaving
  • Share Circle Time Together
  • Make Michael Sword Napkin Holders
  • Sculpt Michaelmas Worry Beads
  • Craft an Autumn Equinox Wreath

So, if you’re wondering how to make this time of year feel magical, this e-book may be just what you need. Thanks for peeking!

Only $24.99

Authors:
~ Eileen Straiton,
Little Acorn Learning

~ Sara Wilson, Love in the Suburbs

With Guest Contribution from Jennifer Tan, Syrendell

Autumn Farewell

Tree stars

We’ve had buckets of rain in the past week. Our jacuzzi has stopped working again, due to flooding. The chicken run is a soupy, smelly mess. The pretty leaves have largely fallen from the deciduous trees in the neighborhood, but my liquidambar is still full of golden stars.

My tree

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The palette of my surroundings is fading. Bright oranges, golds, russets, and crimsons are vanishing, giving way to more muted tones. Browns and grays, straw, and dusty greens—punctuated by lurid, store-bought red and green for Christmas—are the colors of December in Northern California’s central valley. The transformation is gradual and a few flowers seem to have missed the memo. I’ve seen marguerites shouting “yellow!” at the top of their voices, and a few purple irises are confused enough to bloom even in the heavy rain.

A couple of weeks ago, we took the boys to a local amusement park called Funderland, which has been in operation in Land Park as long as I can remember. The day was perfectly glorious, the kind of day November hopes to achieve—with sparkling, flaming trees and crystalline skies.

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The rides, horseback riding, and pretty slanting afternoon sunbeams inspired many shining smiles.

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And plenty of autumn frolicking.

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It was a wonderful day. Land Park had lots of finery to show off while we were there.

Thank you, November. Your brilliance is fortifying.

Oaks

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Today is rainy and gloomy. We’re getting our first big winter storm in Northern California. So I consoled myself with some photos from about a week ago—I took these on a glorious November day in Temple Park in Fair Oaks. I thought I’d share them here, in case you need a pick-me-up too.

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Worldtree shadow

This shadow was really stunning. It reminded me of Yggdrasil, the World Tree from Norse mythology. Kind of a magical, accidental moment I captured. My children played at the park while I wandered around with my eyes mostly in the sky.

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Oak

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It’s no wonder to me why this place is called Fair Oaks. These trees are so mighty and beautiful. They never fail to inspire me.

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2017 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    "Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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