Wednesday, June 8, 2011

As promised...

...Hansel, Gretel and their Stepmother.

Hansel~ 10"x 13"~ mixed media, wool applique~ ©2011 Danielle Crane

Gretel~ 10" x 13"~ mixed media, wool applique~ ©2011 Danielle Crane

The Stepmother~ 14" x 18"~ mixed media, wool applique, watercolor, charcoal pencil~ ©2011 Danielle Crane
Go here for more pictures of this blended family.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer Pursuits

The last day of school is June 10th. I can hardly believe that it is already here! So, I've been trying to think of all the different things I'd like to do and/or accomplish with the boys over the summer break. I've been concentrating on Nathanael to begin with. I don't want to overload him with busy work but I don't want his brain to fall asleep either. So, I have decided on... The American Revolutionary War.

As I grew up in Pennsylvania, a stone's throw from Valley Forge and in a town  after which a massacre was named, I happen to know quite a bit about this subject. Nathanael is quite interested in war and wars so I think he will find it interesting. Along with telling him what I know and what I've seen, I'd like to find a bunch of books about the beginnings of our country, about the first few presidents, the Constitution, Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross, and the why's. I also want to find some movies to watch with him, too.

As for Asher, I'm going to start teaching him his ABC's. I figure I'll spend a few days on a letter and I'll follow his lead. He has been asking me a lot about how to spell names (which he writes down while I spell it out), what letter is this, what does it mean and what is it for. I plan on involving Nathanael in this, too. I think it'll boost Nathanael's confidence to be the teacher and I know Asher would do anything if it means being able to do it with his brother.

That's as far as I've gotten. Honestly, I'm just looking forward to not having to set an alarm or drive anywhere for a while. What are your summer plans?

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Additions

During the Memorial Day weekend, along with everything else we did, we brought home some new chickens. This time we decided to get some that were about a year old and already laying eggs. They are Rhode Island Reds, big, dark reddish-brown and black, and they are beautiful! We got three so Asher, Nathanael and I got to each name one. Nathanael chose Sarah, I chose Emma and Asher chose Poppy (he really wanted to name her Poopy so this is a compromise).

We got them to the house with out incident and we got two of the three into the coop without incident. Until... number three (I assume it's Poppy) broke free. That's right. For a brief amount of time, on a quiet Friday night in Lansing, Michigan, you could have seen the Crane family chasing a chicken around their house. Their un-fenced house. Long story short, #3 ended up on Dave's shoulder and I was able to tackle both Dave and chicken. I then spent some time soothing said chicken, followed by soothing Dave and his shoulder.

And just when we thought all of the excitement was through, it appeared that our original chickens, Lizzie and Jane, did not care for the usurpers (their word, not mine). They were rude and unwelcoming to their new sisters. I spent the rest of the evening scolding Miss Jane and trying to encourage the new chicks to be a little bit bolder. At one point I noticed that Jane and Lizzie were not letting any of the new chickens out of the coop. My two girls paced back and forth in the run like little soldiers on guard duty. They seem to be getting along now. They have at least agreed to co-exist. But every once in a while, I notice Jane or Lizzie do something as a reminder that they were there first.

The coop, the run and a bit of landscaping-for-chickens.

Lizzie and the three new chickens.

The raised garden beds alongside of our house

Yummy lettuce!

Flowering Thyme.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Vegetable Garden

The garden is officially,and finally, up and running! Whew!!!

This year's garden has been much more stressful and much less serene than last year's garden. I think it is just the weather's fault. Last year, Spring came early, gradually and gently. This year, not so much. It has been cold and rainy, hot and steamy, cold and rainy, WINDY, hot, hot hot, freezing.... You get the idea. Very frustrating and un-motivating. And there is nothing that I can do about it, being the weather and all.

Enough complaining! As of last weekend, we're off and running, vegetable-wise. Everything is planted in my wonderful beds and, as we speak, MSU is analyzing the dirt in our back yard. What will we plant back there? who knows! (I have some ideas.) The leaf lettuce is ready for eating and it's lovely! Asher and I have it for our lunches every day. Spinach is coming along but the hot, hot days make me nervous for it. I also have squirrels nibbling at my broccoli and cauliflower to the extent that I had to buy a few of each plant to day to replace the chewed-on ones. Stupid squirrels! I am, again, threatening these rodents at the point of an imaginary shotgun! (I'm complaining again, aren't I?)

The potato plants are growing and growing- at least above ground! I've got oodles of thyme that I love to run my hand through so they smell like thyme. I looooove the smell of thyme! And, I am anxiously watching tomato plants grow and signs of carrots and beans emerge. Okay, I guess it's not all that bad!

Over last weekend, we bought three yards of mulch (not enough) and began mulching about. The areas we got to look beautiful! We've been planting flowers where ever we can and I've been beautifying the chicken coop/run area. That's been kind of fun, hangin' out with my girls.

Back to the backyard.... We have this section in the farthest corner that gets any sunlight that used to be our garden. Things grew there but not prolifically. We think it my be the soil in that area so that's why we are having it tested. When we get the results we'll alter the soil accordingly and start planting. But what to plant? I've thought about corn and sunflowers. Maybe some pumpkins, too. I've thought about raspberries and blueberries. What about apple trees? I don't know. I'd like what ever goes back there to be low maintenance. I'm also thinking about giving that garden to Nathanael to care for it. I'll let you know....

Back to the sewing table and Hansel (of  "Hansel & Gretel"). There's a bit of a vegetable theme (think kabob) in his portrait so it ties in with all of this garden talk nicely!
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