Homestead Plant Directory

Several years ago, when we first moved into our small homestead, I started throwing wildflower seeds in our back 2ish acres where we’d let the grass grow and the thistles thrive.

I’d snap up the cheap boxes of wildflower mix whenever they’d hit the sale rack at Wal-Mart. Sometimes the boys and I would make “seed bombs” and sometimes I’d just close my eyes and sprinkle.

Time passed and soon wildflowers started popping up.

Birds spread more seeds. Then came the pollinators. Butterflies and bees did that thing they do and more flowers popped up. Soon, our grassy pasture turned into a gorgeous wildflower prairie.

But…there was one, tiny problem. I’d long thrown the boxes away and we had no idea what most of the plants and flowers were. We’d walk through our maze and marvel at the colors popping up throughout the Spring and Summer.

“Ooo, look at that pretty purple one!”

“Ahhh, that yellow one looks a little like that yellow one.”

Beauty is beauty and needs no label…but it sure would be nice to be able to describe all the wondrous plants in our pasture beyond “flowers and stuff”.

My husband had the idea to create a plant directory. I snapped up the notion and ran with it. It is now part of our science curriculum. Picking, pressing and identifying. Discussing scientific names, photosynthesis, growing zones, medicinal uses, and on and on.

We incorporated art into our lessons while we read about the flower or plant we’d chosen.

This is no small project. We have around 2 acres of prairie with flowers and plants appearing throughout the growing season. It may take us a few years to get them all. By that time, more will have come. Not from us throwing down seeds, but from nature taking over and doing it’s thing.

Nature, left alone
Creates boundless beauty, life
Thriving without end

The Adventures of the Teleporting Glasses

Inspiration hit a few weeks ago. Here is a new story…tell me what you think…

Jake shuffled into the kitchen. (Art note: Holding a book about space.)

Yawning. 

Stretching. 

Frowning. 

“Pancakes today!” Mom said. 

Jake grunted.

“Why so glum?”

“I think my glasses teleport after I fall asleep.” 

“Hmm. Why do you think that?”

“Well, I fall asleep and they are still on my face, but when I wake up they are gone. Aaaand, they are always in a different spot.”

Mom smiled. “Maybe they are going on adventures.”

Maybe I should stop wearing them so they can go on adventures all the time?” Jake said hopefully.

“You need those glasses, buddy.”

“Hmph.”

“You need them to read, see the world and go on adventures of your own.”

Jake paused and looked down at his book. 

 “I think they went to outer space last night.”

And Jake told his mom a story…

Glasses peeked at Jake. He was sound asleep. They shimmered and shook. 

*POP!*

Glasses zipped through galaxies and shining stars. 

They zoomed around the big dipper. 

They zapped meteors to earth. 

Glasses felt like they were swimming through the sparkling sea!

“Sounds like Glasses went on quite the adventure,” his mom said.

Jake smiled and glug, glug, glugged syrup all over his stack of pancakes. “I wonder where they will go tonight.” 

The next morning, Jake raced downstairs. (Art note: Holds a book about the ocean.)

“Mom! Glasses went to the ocean last night!”

*POP!*

Glasses splashed into the deep, deep sea. 

They swam with sharks and whales and seahorses. 

They slid past coral and schools of sparkly fish.

They streamed through the cool, crystal water. 

Glasses felt like they were flying!  

“What do you think Glasses will do tonight?” asks Jake’s mom.

Jake smiled and crunch, crunch, crunched his cereal. “I think…they will fly through the clouds!”

That night, Jake’s mom tip-toed into the room and found Jake fast asleep. (Art note: Holds a book about planes.)

Gently, she took Glasses off and put them on the table next to his bed. 

As she left, Jake cracked one eye open and grinned.

(Art note: Glasses glimmer/wink.)

Morning Quiet

In the morning, when all is still, I quietly make my way to the greenhouse with a cup of coffee for a few moments of solitude.

The soft light dapples the dewy ground.

The morning birds call up the sun.

The air is crisp.

There is a stillness, a warmth trapped in the greenhouse. The birds and morning sounds are muted. I roam around the tables, coffee cup in hand, gently checking my plants.

Then I sit, sipping my coffee and enjoying the moment.

There are times when I feel we should be doing more. Starting more seeds, filling it to bursting with green. But in the quiet mornings, I know that we are using it for exactly what we need.

There will be time to do more. But for now, I enjoy my quiet mornings. Sitting with my cats and soaking in the sun.

After the Freeze

I knew that this first year using the greenhouse to start seeds would be a bit of a learning curve. We do not yet have electricity out there…aside from an extension cord from the house to run the fan when it gets too hot. It gets pretty warm, pretty fast during the day, but it doesn’t take long to cool down to outdoor temperatures once the sun dips below the horizon.

Even though I knew this and even though I had warning of that first late-season freeze, I did not do much to really protect my seedlings. I should have at least brought the tomatoes and peppers in.

I did better for the second freeze.

I had to start over with most seedlings. The tomatoes and peppers froze, turned brown and withered. The lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower survived, but stalled a bit in their growth.

After the freeze…the sun comes up.
The glistening frost melts away.
Surfaces, once dull and drab, sparkle.

After the freeze…the light gets in.
The bitter cold recedes.
Dirt, once dry and parched, revives.

After the freeze…new life emerges.
The harsh winds gentle.
Grass, once brown and dead, brightens.

Refuge

When we built the greenhouse, we thought we’d be creating a space for garden supplies in winter, a head start for seedlings and a season extender. That was exciting. It was enough.

What we didn’t realize, was that it would also become a peaceful oasis for studies. A relaxing place to escape and sit quietly. An outdoor living space for family time and reading.

Oh, and a spa for the cats.

On sunny winter days, we can sit in the greenhouse and do our lessons. It could be 30 degrees outside, but a pleasant 50 and sunny inside the greenhouse.

If the house is too noisy or confining and we just need a different space to focus and learn, we head out to the greenhouse for lessons, reading or to work on a project.

We are looking forward to discovering new ways to enjoy this outdoor space, beyond our original vision. It has become a peaceful place of refuge. A spot to enjoy that first quiet cup of coffee in the morning with only the cat for company.

Nature’s voice muted

Sitting, breathing, quietly

Soaking in the sun

Mischief Makers Day 25: Breaking News!

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Pixie and Figgy Assigned New House!

North Pole Gazette
December 25, 2020
by Sparkly Sprinkles

In an astonishing turn of events, Pixie Powder and Figgy Frost’s assigned children both discovered the truth about the elves. Joe, who found out last season, tried to stop Jake from running to the living room, but Jake was too quick. Powder and Frost, along with Nim Noel and Lil’ Lil were discovered putting the final touches on the tiny Christmas tree they were leaving as a surprise for the boys. 

“I just can’t believe it,” Frost said. “We were so close to the end.”

Powder agreed, although it was difficult to understand through all the blubbering. 

Nim and Lil were unavailable for questioning as they were in Santa’s office discussing what to do next season. Mr. Grimly, head of the Department of Festive Fun and Frivolity, was also attendance.

Where does this leave Powder and Frost? What will happen to them next season? This reporter can’t wait to find out.

Mischief Makers Day 24: Farewell…For Now

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This year, we were a little scared,
Not sure we would succeed.
A little rocky start but then,
So much fun indeed!

Joe and Jake, we are so glad
We were assigned this house
Remember, keep our secret please
Be quiet as a mouse!

Next year it will be bittersweet,
We sure will miss our fun!
But we’ll visit every chance we get,
And tell you what we’ve done!

So plan some fun, make it good,
we’ll all review your list.
Keep all the magic in your house
and know that you’ll be missed!

Mischief Makers Day 23: The Last Act

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The elves just had one more night before it was time to leave for the season. One more night of fun and mischief. One more night working with Joe until…maybe forever.

“Oh come now, if we are quiet, there is no way Jake will find out,” said Figgy.

“Besides, Joe said he would suggest a slumber party so he could keep an eye on Jake. Warn us if he woke up,” said Nim.

Pixie and Lil were nervous. They were so close to escaping discovery. So close!

“Good news!” said Nim, flying through the door. “The ornaments arrived in the nick of time.”

The colorful strands, twinkling lights and tinkling bells distracted the group and they all but forgot about the possibility of Jake finding out they were real. It was their last night of mischief and they wanted to do something really special. 

“Where are the trees?” asked Glitter. 

“Joe put them on top of the cabinets,” said Figgy. “I’ll go grab them.”

Figgy zipped to the top of the cabinets and scooped up one tree, twirled and reached for the other, but the tree he’d just snatched threw him off balance and fell hard in the sink, knocking dirty dishes everywhere.

BANG!
CLANG!
CRASH!

The Mischief Making team froze and held their breath. All was quiet for 1, 2, 3 seconds and then…

Stomp, stomp, stomp!

Jake, wait!”

Stomp, STOMP, STOMP! 

“I knew it!”

Joe came skidding into the living room after Jake and looked in horror at the elves. “Er…this is all a dream, all a dream, Jake.”

“Nice try, Joe, but I’ve been wide away for hours just waiting to catch them!”

Pixie burst into tears. Figgy fell to his knees and Nim and Lil sighed in resignation. 

Nim patted Figgy on the shoulder. “It was only a matter of time, we new that this was coming.”

“What’s wrong?” asked Joe. “So he knows, now we can all play. Set up tricks for Mom and Dad, plan—.” 

Joe stopped when he saw the grave looks on the team’s faces. Suddenly, he knew that his time with the elves was coming to an end. “So what happens now?”

“I’m afraid we will have to…erase your memories of us,” said Lil. 

“WHAT?!” Joe and Jake both stared incredulously at the elves. 

“Erase our memories of Christmas?” Jake gasped.

“No, no,” hurried Nim. “Just your memories of…us.”

Joe’s eyes filled with tears. 

“No.”

Everyone looked at Jake. 

“I’ll just pretend I don’t know. Then you can come back next year and I can help too.”

Pixie and Figgy smiled, looking hopefully at Nim, Lil and Glitter. “Could we do that?”

“Well…,” began Lil.

“I’m afraid not,” said Glitter. “For many reasons, but mostly because it wouldn’t be fair to all the new children who don’t have Mischief Makers yet.”

This was news to Pixie and Figgy. “Aren’t there more recruits?”

“That’s what Santa wanted to talk to us about the other day,” said Nim. “There are fewer and fewer elves signing up for the Mischief Maker program so we need all the elves we can get.” 

“But…,” began Figgy. “What about Joe and Jake?”

The team looked at each other sadly, not knowing what to say. 

“Then you have to go where you are needed,” said Jake with a small smile.

“Yes,” added Joe. “We would feel horrible if other kids didn’t get to experience the fun we did.”

Nim and Lil smiled proudly at Joe and Jake. They had grown so much since their first year. In stature and in character both.  

“There’s just one thing,” said Jake, smiling at Joe. “Please don’t erase our memories. We had the best time with you…even if you did make a lot of messes.”

Each elf’s smile brightened the room and they turned to Glitter. 

Glitter’s heart filled to bursting as the Christmas magic swelled. “I think I can convince Santa…just one more time.”

Mischief Makers Day 22: Toilet Snow

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“Santa said what??” Figgy added another dollop of cream and a few more spoonfuls of sugar to his peppermint hot cocoa as he listened to Nim and Lil.

“Santa is concerned with how many “close calls” you’ve had with Jake. He feels that we should all be prepared for the…inevitable,” said Nim. 

“The inevitable?” asked Pixie. “What does that mean?”

Lil smiled sadly at Pixie, forgetting that she was still learning all the rules and codes from The Book. “Here, let me show you.”

Lil pulled out her battered copy of The Book and flipped through the pages. “Ah, here it is.” 

Chapter 8, Section VI, Footnote 2.1

Once a child stops believing or discovers an elf in the act of mischief making, all elf shenanigans must be erased from said child’s memory. Warm memories of Christmas should be left intact so the magic continues on to the next generation.

“But,” sniffed Pixie. “J-Joe found out and we didn’t have to erase his memory!”

Glitter sighed. “That is because I reminded Santa of…something. Something he’d forgotten and didn’t want anyone to know.”

“You mean you blackmailed the big guy,” snickered Nim. 

Glitter huffed, glaring hard at Nim. “Anyway, that won’t work again. Joe knowing was one thing, but now other Mischief Makers are finding out about the arrangement and want Santa to let them do the same. It’s too much of a risk.”

“So…,” began Figgy.

“So…,” said Lil. “Once Jake finds out, we’ll have to follow The Book.”

* * *  

“Ok team,” said Nim. “We only have a few more nights left until…until we have to say goodbye for-forever.”

Possibly, maybe Jake won’t find out this year,” said Figgy. 

“Right.” Nim nodded his head, knowing that it was a big maybe. “So team, what are we going to–hey, where did Lil and Pixie go?”

Glitter pointed her antlers toward the bathroom. “In there, but I’d be careful if I were you.”

“Why?” asked Figgy.

“They had scissors and they were singing.”

What were they singing?” asked Nim.

Oh the TP in here’s delightful,
But the lack of snow is frightful,
Since we all soon will go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

“Oh my,” said Nim.

“Well that escalated quickly,” said Figgy. 

The bathroom was filled with snowflakes. 

Snowflakes made of toilet paper.

Mischief Makers Day 21: Reindeer Games

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Pixie, Figgy and Glitter sat on the table throwing foam snowballs for Barrel. 

“Too bad Nim and Lil had to stay behind,” said Pixie. 

“Santa needed them for a training exercise,” said Glitter. “They’ve been neglecting their responsibilities so Santa insisted they stay behind.”

“I know,” said Figgy. “But it’s still too bad. We had planned to have an igloo building contest.”

“Why don’t you and Pixie compete?” asked Glitter.

“It won’t be the same,” sighed Pixie. “It was going to be Team Pixie and Figgy against Team Nim and Lil.”

“Yeah, the Newbies vs the Oldies.”

“Excuse me? Nim and Lil aren’t that old. Why, Nim is only 134 and Lil is a few years older.” 

“Uh, Lil is younger, Glitter.”

“She is?”

“Yes, by 3 whole months,” said Pixie.

“Huh.”

“I suppose we could decorate those mini trees,” said Figgy pointing to the tops of the cabinets.

“Nah, we don’t have any of the ornaments yet and we are still waiting for the star.”

“Then what should we do?”

Glitter cleared her throat. “We can still have the competition, you know.”

Figgy and Pixie looked doubtfully at Glitter.

“There is another creature here to challenge.”

The duo cocked their eyebrows simultaneously.

Glitter snorted. “Me! You could challenge me and…Barrel.” 

RUFF!

“See, he is up to the challenge.”

Figgy and Pixie smiled slyly at each other. This was going to be a piece of cake. 

* * *

Figgy and Pixie were putting the final touches on their snow fort when Glitter galloped up the stairs with Barrel on her heels. 

“Where on earth have you been, Glitter? Joe and Jake don’t have that many white Lego blocks.”

“Oh I didn’t build them out of blocks.”

“You didn’t?”

“Nope.”

“Wait…did you just say them. As in, more than one?”

Glitter just smiled. 

Figgy and Pixie glanced nervously at each other. More than one? 

Glitter turned and cantered back down the stairs. Figgy and Pixie floated down after her, curious about what they would find. When they reached the bottom, their mouths dropped. 

“Glitter? How–when–?” Figgy shook his head in amazement.

“Those are so cool!” said Pixie. “How did you make them?”

Glitter just smiled. “Oh, I have my ways.”

RUFF!