a walk in Oxford, England

After visiting England for two weeks, being in the Central West region at our friends home in Shropshire, we headed south.



We stopped in Oxford, a place I always wanted to visit.

DSC_0175 copy DSC_0178 copyOh, the buildings.  I love it so much.

DSC_0181 copy DSC_0180 copy DSC_0182 copy DSC_0184 copy DSC_0185 copy DSC_0186 copy DSC_0187 copy“Please do not park bicycles against these railings as they may be removed.”

DSC_0193 copy DSC_0190 copy DSC_0195 copy DSC_0198 copy DSC_0189 copy“No bicycles Please.”

DSC_0200 copy DSC_0202 copy DSC_0199 copy DSC_0365 copy DSC_0205 copy DSC_0363 copy DSC_0371 copy DSC_0368 copy DSC_0366 copy DSC_0373 copy DSC_0376 copyWe stopped for lunch.

DSC_0378 copy DSC_0393 copy DSC_0382 copy DSC_0394 copyAnd then continued our trip on south.  But first one more thing in Oxford, a visit to the Museum that I’ll share here soon.


the craft fair

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Two weeks ago we went to the first of two craft fairs we’ll attend with a table of our handmade goods, this year.   We love to make things.  We like to craft, try new things, learn something new.  We are always looking in books, magazines, online for new ideas.  We talk, we share, we try, we learn.

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We started selling our handmade goods a while ago.  We’ve always been making things.  We like making our gifts.  We think of who is receiving it and create something for them, and sometimes we share what we like at the moment.

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So when some friends convinced us to sell our things at a Winter Faire about 4 years ago, we got hooked.  Siena really liked the idea of selling and being part of a fair.  She’s always been the one wanting to have a lemonade stand, or come early spring or late summer, she’d have a hot chocolate stand instead.   She has also convinced me to have garage sales, so she can organize things, set them out (like a store), out price stickers, and sell them.  And a big bonus is that she is so organized, that she loves cleaning her room, and Lucas’s room too.  She likes going through the drawer and shelves throughout the house and asking me what are the things I don’t use or things she thinks we don’t need.  I love it.  She is my decluttering force.

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Siena was 7 and Lucas was 4 years old when we went our first craft fair to sell.   They made the crafts they could, helped me put sets and kits together.  I made few things I had made for us, for the house, for them to play with, and we were ready to go.  I remember being so nervous.  Nervous to the unknown.  To what people would say about our goods.  Nervous that we wouldn’t make enough to play the table fee.  Because the cost of the materials wasn’t much, since they were almost seen as craft supplies for our homeschooling.  Not that it mattered to anyone but me, in my worries about budgeting.

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And that first year, we made so much more than the table fee, that I was surprised we had pulled it off.  I never thought we had that much worth in goods.  I guess, we hadn’t counted how much inventory we had.  But most importantly, was what we experience personally, each one of us, that day, standing by our table and by our handmade goods.  Siena hearing the comments from the passersby, or directly to her.  A little 7 year old girl, making all sorts of presents for friends and selling them now, at the same time learning to sew and learn to talk to people who would ask how she made things and just strike a conversation with so many people.  She’s good at that.  She always has been.

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That first year also, she had learned to twist balloons.  She’s always been in love with balloons and didn’t surprise me when she asked to watch videos on youtube, and get books at the library to learn to make a flower and a dog.  She twisted balloons at that first fair too.  Her fingers wore blisters by the end of the day, and she was exhausted, but her little person was filled.  Filled with wonderful comments I hope she’ll never forget.  She does remember the one bigger kid (teenager) who approached her to ask for a balloon and as she watched Siena make it, she told her “I am much older than you and I can’t even make that! You are amazing!”  Siena repeated that story for many weeks afterwards that year.  We still bring it up, because it meant so much to her.  To all of us.  Because she made us proud.  She always does.

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The second year came, we did another fair.  The following year Siena convinced me to go to a second fair too since we had already made things for the one.  So we did.  And have been doing two fairs a year, for the holidays, the last three years.

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Lucas likes to make things too, but different things than Siena.  He likes to work with wood, and has painted things, and created other projects that he enjoys.  We all help him.  We all help each other when we need support.

We talk about the fair and what we’d like to make new each year.  What things we’d like to change or make more of.  No one expects to push anybody in making anything.  It’s all about what we each want to make.  It’s about enjoying what we are doing.  It’s about having fun.  Having fun while making and creating because we like it.  Getting that cash for selling our handmade things is a bonus.  A fun one for sure.

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We just had our first fair of the season last week.  It was just the three of us for setting up. Mark was at work.  Lucas and Siena helped unload the car, and carry the boxes of goods in to our spot.  Siena had practiced setting up and the arrangement of things how we wanted them, the previous days.  While Lucas and I went home to get the last few things, moved the car and parked it in the right spot, Siena arranged our spot mostly all by herself.  It looked beautiful.  She really did a great job. We were there for two days, and we had a lot of fun.

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This year, as with every passing year, they have both changed how much they are involved in the fairs, and in the making.  Siena this year wanted to change few things, she wanted to make new things, and has been part of the whole process, more than before.  And it gave her a different perspective of what it takes to make it work.  She was aware of the fees we had to pay.  The cost of the supplies.  The way we buy the supplies, where, when and how.  The cost of the shipping, and how to make it work in a timely manner.

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It wasn’t only about how much money we had made at the end of the weekend.  This time she was interested in knowing when and how much did we earn after paying for the table fee and the supplies.  Not a bad thing at all.

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Then, we were ready to deposit the money in the travel account.  For all of us we felt that all of our efforts had paid off.  Each one of us, was happy with what we had made and what we had brought home.  A great lesson and a great homeschool unit in sewing, woodworking (and other craft skills), math, reading, life skills, and entrepreneurial ideas.  All in one, without even knowing it.

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And most importantly remembering even in the midst of crazy set ups and carrying heavy boxes, figuring out the new folding table, attending and talking to people for many hours at a time (etc…) that it’s all for fun. Having fun together throughout the whole process, throughout the year.  As we think in months in advance of the new projects and new ideas to create, making them work, and making them look pretty.  For us, it’s all about having fun.  About learning something new each year, but most importantly just having fun together.  And this first one was indeed fun.  Now to restock and create more and maybe new things for the next one coming up.



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“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”
― Ralph Waldo EmersonCollected Poems and Translations

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last week…

DSC_0005 copy… was cold.  Really cold.  But not as cold as back East.  We had freezing rain, some snow, but ice and frozen plants for few days.  We are not used to that, but I like it.  It made everything look really pretty and sparkly. DSC_0006 copy DSC_0015 copy DSC_0018 copy DSC_0009 copy… we had a snow day.  Well, it was a no-snow snow day.  It was freezing rain instead, but no school for anybody.  But Mark (as many other teachers I am sure) still had to grade.  It was more of a “catch-up-for-teachers (no) school day.” DSC_0002 copy … we went to the first of the two fairs we’ll go to.  It was so much fun. More on this later, because it is such a big piece in our learning adventure. … we’ve been making.  For the fair but also for presents.  I love this time of the year. … I noticed the squirrels are going crazy around here.  Not sure if it’s the bird seeds, the apples, and/or everything else.  But they are enjoying themselves in our backyard.  And I do really like it that they re eating all those last apples from our trees that have fallen with all the winds we’ve had.  I am so glad they can enjoy them. DSC_0010 copy … I noticed my desk is back in use… here on a good day (read, not as messy.) DSC_0022 copy … three of us got a cold that has been sticking with us.  More elderberry syrup was made, honey and tea were on the counter.  I think we are on the mend now. I hope so. … Mark finished cleaning the garden.  It’s been out to bed.  What a year we had. … I saw this article with the beautiful Tower of London and the almost 900,000 ceramic red poppies, a Memorial to the First World War.  This would be amazing to see, I am sure.

Photo from this website.
Photo from this website.

… overheard my kids playing with some friends and someone saying “isn’t this just amazing?”  Not sure what they were playing, or what was happening specifically.  But I know it was on their LegoLand that they’ve been creating homes, and a fair, and roller coaster, and lots of other things.  But I really love how they are so proud of their work (of days!) and how their ideas have come to specifics in real (Lego) life, and that they obviously love their playing. They remind me that I need to say that more often. Because life, just being here right now, and all the things that I am living, who I am with, what e are doing, is just amazing. … we had some playing with friends. DSC_0008 copy … Mark brought this dessert for us to share.  Huge, I mean, huge cinnamon rolls that are plenty to share between four people.  They are so good. If you are in the area and heading to the coast, do stop by. DSC_0065 copy   … our favorite 3 year old came for a visit, and while they waited for dinner to be ready, they did some practicing on swimming and diving. DSC_0054 copy DSC_0058 copy DSC_0061 copy DSC_0053 copy   Yes! Did you notice my Sting pillow? I was cleaning some drawers the other day and found this pillow case I had when I was in high school.  I never thought I’d use it in my bed 30 years later, but my mom brought it to me few years ago (when she was cleaning her closets) so I have to put it out once in a while, right?  The kids keep asking me why I have it. 

… I received an email from a dear friend who I cherish.  She and her family are so special, so very sweet, an amazing and beautiful example of so many things.  I love every comment she does on this blog and every time her emails come to my inbox and all of her stories (in person… let’s not forget those, they are the best ones!) they make me smile.

She sent me an email last week and said:  “You definitely have something special going on with the way you are educating your children, family and friends.”  It makes me feel so good and I really hope I am making and sharing something good into this world.  And especially for the people around me that I love.  Thank you Kelly, you are so sweet.  You made my day.

… I realized the days are passing too fast.  They do.  We have lots of fun planned ahead of us in the next few weeks, but I want to enjoy every day as they are coming.  As we have them.  I am so enjoying the happenings and adventures of each day.  I don’t want to forget.DSC_0016 copy

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” ― Walt Whitman

meals overseas

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I didn’t get to take pictures of everything we ate, and I wish I would have done a little more.  Our friends cooked delicious meals, every single time.  And I’ve written a bit about that, but still… we remember with such a special heart our days spent with them, and meals were so delicious and we were thankful for everything they cooked for us, and for sharing all their early produce from their beautiful garden… it was such a treat to spend time with them.

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Handmade pasta.

We met for lunch with their friends.  We had dinner at their house with many of their friends and their sons.  What a treat it was.

DSC_0609 copySuch a beautiful, wonderful family.

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We are lucky to have them in our lives.  Thank you for your friendship and for everything.

where we stayed last summer

DSC_0351 copyAt our friends house in England, this summer we got to spend over 5 weeks traveling and seeing amazing things and people.  Our friends have this barn were they made it a home for us.

DSC_482 copy DSC_0363 copy DSC_0362 copyWhat a treat it was. Such a cozy, beautiful place.

DSC_0365 copy DSC_0366 copyWe got visited by the feathery friends on their way back and forth.

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And sometimes they visited us inside too.

DSC_0130 copy DSC_0125 copyThis is the view of the road from the window.  It is so quiet and peaceful. DSC_0122 copy DSC_0120 copy DSC_0003 copyIt was having a whole house to ourselves.

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At the end of the day we got to spend some time catching up on football games (it was the World Cup weeks after all) or maybe watch an episode of an old Survivor show we took borrowed from our library.

But for the most part, we spent our time outside.  There was so much beauty and fun things to do besides hanging out with and hopefully help out our friends in some of their chores around the house and garden.

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A beautiful place indeed.


Ironbridge, Shropshire in England

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Ironbridge, the town, takes its name from the famous first arch Iron Bridge ever built.  It says “Birth Place of Industry.”

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We took a little walk and that town, as most places we visited in England last summer, stole my heart.  Such a beautiful place, with nature and beauty all around.

DSC_0490 copy DSC_0492 copy DSC_0493 copy DSC_0494 copy DSC_0498 copy DSC_0510 copy DSC_0527 copy DSC_0507 copy DSC_0509 copy DSC_0566 copy DSC_0568 copy DSC_0569 copy DSC_0571 copy DSC_0574 copy DSC_0573 copy DSC_0572 copy DSC_0575 copy DSC_0576 copy DSC_0577 copy DSC_0579 copy DSC_0585 copy DSC_0586 copy DSC_0594 copy DSC_0595 copySausage roll. 

DSC_0597 copyPork skins.  You gotta eat them warm.

DSC_0598 copyPasties.

DSC_0602 copy DSC_0603 copy DSC_0604 copy DSC_0605 copy DSC_0606 copy DSC_0600 copy DSC_0601 copyYup!  We had to go back to try something else.  So, so good!