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April 2019 Desktop Wallpaper

We have slowly begun to hear bird songs in the morning here. I’m sure we will get another big snow before winter makes her exit, but those bird songs in the early morning light bring me such joy. This wallpaper was created using lots of little bits and pieces of collected elements. I hope you enjoy this more subtle April desktop.
Much Love, Betony

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the image you want. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen or both. I make a couple different ones so that you can use what works best for your device.

iphone wallpapers:

April 2018 Desktop Wallpaper

My good friend Wes Sam-Bruce shared this poem at his film screening for The Wonder Sound. It has been floating around in my head ever since. So good.

“Widening Circles”

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

So here is to living our lives in ever widening circles. Migrating outward…

More on that soon. It’s been crazy around here lately….

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the image you want. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen or both.

iphone wallpapers:

 

April Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (7), Hattie (5), and Beatrice (2). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

I was worried about putting together this post from April because April had moments of being a bit of a homeschooling slump month. We took a week off for “spring break” (which was really so we could fully enjoy family being in town). I had trouble hitting my stride with planning and inspiration. But of course, as these things go, once I start to compile the images, all my worries about “did we do enough?” are put aside because I feel full. Filling our days with these littles by our sides and digging into learning together just feels right. So Onward we go…
Here are some of our April Adventures in Homeschooling…

Art & Art History:

Harriet has discovered a new little love for coloring. Currently she is working her way through the Secret Garden coloring book while listening to the Audio book of the Secret Garden. Just like me, the girls have an easier time sitting and engaging with a story if they have something to keep their hands busy.

I am pretty sure my entire knowledge of Art History as a kid came from this game – Masterpiece. I am not even sure if they still make it, but it’s pretty great – involves lots of math/money understanding as well as great exposure to famous paintings, and has quirky clue-like characters. Still a little old for my littles but Lucy (7) picked it up right away. 

Baby Animal Days:

Each spring, our city puts on an event called baby animal days. It takes place at Centennial Village (a beautiful restored historic town where tim and I got married). It’s just a wonderful excuse to play outside in a lovely setting and pet all the babies.

Some good old fashioned stilt and wooded horse play

And speaking of baby animals, we had an important, but very sad life lesson with a little kitten that was dumped on us in a grocery store parking lot. She was obviously a bit too young to be taken from her mama. We took her to the vet and they sent up home with Kitten milk replacer, but from the very first day she did not look healthy or spunky. By her third night she had passed away. I was a very hard first experience with death for the girls.

Spirituality:

Our wonderful friend and neighbor Tammi has this incredible set of felt bible stories. On Mondays we have been walking down to her house where she treats the girls to a retold biblical story.

We have also been enjoying the illustrations and retellings in “Stories from the Bible.”

Easter:

Easter this year was such a treat. My sisters, a nephew, and parents were able to join us, Tim only had to do one service at his church, and the weather was just gorgeous.

We even all got to go to an Easter service together – which rarely happens since Tim works for a church.

Since my sister was in town, we got to do all the Easter fun together! Our best win was choosing to do a little easter egg hunt put on by a local ReMax instead of going to the insane large city one. It was a blast, and just the perfect balance of fun activities (a bouncy house, photo booth, lots of snacks, egg hunts for each age group, and an Easter bunny) and not too many people.

These are some of the lovely new Easter books we enjoyed this month.

   All the kids on Easter morning – baskets this year had new water bottles, rain boots, Kinder chocolate eggs, and bubbles! (Plus a couple of new Max books for the little ones)

My mom brought up with her a Ukrainian egg dying kit for making Pysanky eggs that we used as kids. It is this really beautiful and satisfying process that involves layering beeswax over progressive different dyes (the colors are crazy intense). After the final layer, you carefully remove the beeswax to reveal a multifaceted design.

My mom also put together a stellar egg hunt/treasure hunt in our back yard where the kids each found a giant treasure filled egg with their name on it!

Engineering/Making

Lucy capacity for “making things” is off the charts. She always has some wonderfully elaborate creation brewing. We found a pretty cool graphic novel on Amazon called HowToons. The story is about two inventor kids and as they go through the story they make inventions to solve challenges. In the novel it shows them how to build them themselves. Here is Lucy making a marshmallow shooter.

 

And now time for a battle…

Netherlands:

Inspired by the beautiful tulips popping up near our driveway and also the Holland stories in one of the history books we just finished. We decided to have our country we “visited” this month be the Netherlands.

The girls created a beautiful new mural above our bed with lots and lots of dutch tulips, a windmill, and stars.

For one tea time we sample a Dutch delicacy – Hagelslag – which is basically buttered bread with an unreasonable amount of sprinkles on top. It was surprisingly awesome.

Letter Writing:

We have continued our weekly Monday letter writing practice. And you know what? When you write lots of letters, you receive lots of letters. Seems like a good metaphor for life…

Math:

This next month (May) I am excited to really play with math a lot thanks to an incredible garage sell set of stuff I got (Montessori anyone?) but, in the meantime, for April, we had a nice time playing with our Brain quest books.

And discovering that Math is way more fun worked on while listening to favorite tunes on headphones.

Reading:

Our classics read aloud for April was Wind in the Willows (we still have about 1 chapter left). I found this beautifully illustrated version on Abe Books. The pictures by Inga Moore are so lovely and the editing is better than some other versions I have seen.

The day we started it was one of those perfect moments of all the stars aligning. We brought a picnic to eat under our favorite willow tree at our favorite park while I read aloud. The story starts with two new friends, Mole and Rat, packing up a picnic and heading down the river to a favorite willow tree. In the story their picnic is cold fried chicken – the very thing I pack us.

Our fun read-aloud (and also audiobook version) book was Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes. Although maybe best for ages 8 and up, I couldn’t recommend this book more highly. Such a fun quirky adventure story. We all loved it.

Letter Play:

Harriet has been doing really great with her Letter and letter sounds. Thanks to Pinay Homeschooler’s free printables we have been enjoying playing some phonics matching games. She is getting really got at it!


On April Fools day, the girls were sadly disappointed that the pan of Brownies turned out to be a pan of Brown E’s

Another new favorite book for letter play is Oliver Jeffers “Once Upon an Alphabet” book. Quirky and delightful with lots of hidden connections you don’t catch until the 2nd or third time through. 

Sensory Play:

Sunny days call for “car washes (bikes)” and play with rainbow sensory foam (so so easy – just a 2 Tbs dish soap +1/4 C. water  whisked with the kitchen aid and then colored with a few drops of food coloring).

We also played this fun memory game that Lucy found in a magazine. One person lays out 20 items covered with a towel. And then you uncover it for 30 seconds to look at them. And then try to recall as many items as possible.

Plastic melted bead crafts

  Button play with Grandmama at the CO antique button show.

 

Spring Nature Study:

A bunch of fun Spring themed books from our local library.

These are my new favorite…

Nest studies

Flower dissecting and learning about the different parts. 

Outdoor Play:

Scaling poles

Climbing trees

Swinging in hammocks

Exploring treehouses

Jumping on trampolines

And eating outside as often as possible.

Thanks for following along. See you in May!

Much much love, Betony

April Free Calendar Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

I have been clearing out my garden, raking up old leaves, cutting back dead grasses, getting everything ready for new growth. In April I want clean and bright; signs of the onset of real spring weather and sunshine. So, enjoy this bright open new wallpaper for your screens for when you are stuck inside and can’t get out and enjoy the actual outside.

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.
High Resolution Desktop Wallpaper:

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the iphone images. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen.

April Practice & Process: “Converse”

In creating our new project, Bellwether (an art series and album due winter 2016) we’ve decided to share what we’re doing each month before it’s released.
We’re calling these posts “practice and process“.

They will detail the spiritual/life practice we’re doing,
give a look at our in-process art that we’re creating in response,
and then include a whole host of resources and activities! (like the new desktop wallpaper, book/music/movie lists, recipes, explorations for kids, etc. This is so as an entire family we can engage in this year’s exploration of “belief” we’re calling Bellwether. 

APRIL Theme: CONVERSE

March was actually a difficult month (and we weren’t very good at doing our “practice & process”)! A lot is going on that’s going to bring change in the coming year. So Betony and I have chosen the theme of “converse” for April. (I started the week after Easter “conversing” with God with some rhythmic daily prayers, just needing recovery!)

So, Betony and I hope to get away a little bit and find some spaces to talk about everything- life, spirituality, future, etc!

Practice:

This month we are

  1. Getting babysitting once a week and going out to talk about life!
  2. For our Table Alter this month we’re continuing to set up little pots and planting seeds – we’ll water and watch the slow progression of growth, again hitting on the death and resurrection truths we find in the world around us. This is an ongoing conversation we hope to have with our kids.

Process:

Betony has hit some big finish lines last month regarding ongoing art projects. Then Tim is song-writing this month with Charla Bultman, continuing to add some more songs to the Bellwether project.

The other process is going to be exploring this big idea: there seems to be spiritual archetypes that happen all over our favorite stories. In movies, books, all sorts of art, you’ll find baptism scenes, out-to-the-desert scenarios, resurrection pictures… Betony and I are looking in to these universals to better inform our own belief.

Resources for “April”:

APRIL Dates to Take Note of:

April = National Poetry Month
April 1st – April Fools Day (we love to freeze our girl’s breakfast cereal…)
April 22nd – Earth Day (which if you happen to live near a Ben & Jerry’s is also Free Cone Day)
April 29th – Arbor Day
April 30th – International Jazz Day

Local: Greeley, CO events:

April 10th – Handel’s Water Music UCCC
April 23rd – Arbor Day Celebration at Lincoln Park, 9:00 am
April 27th – Greeley Children’s Chorale Spring Sing (at Northridge H.S.)
April 27th – Ballet West at UCCC, 7:00pm
April 30th – Copelia at Niwot High School

Let me know if you have other fun Greeley events I should add to this calendar!

RESOURCES/EXPLORATIONS :
(from Betony…)

POETRY:

April is National Poetry Month so this works perfectly with our theme “converse”! We hope to read some poems with the girls and work on writing too!
For kids, we LOVE this book –
Outside Your Window by Nikola Davies. The Illustrations by Mark Herald are just gorgeous.
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Speaking of Mark Herald, I have been drooling over this wallpaper of his. I’m thinking I might need to dive into wallpaper design some time soon.
mark-hearld-wallpaper

For myself for poetry month, I am going to read Felicity by Mary Oliver. I bought it a few months ago at our favorite book shop in Hutchinson, KS and I have been saving it just for this occasion.
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READING LISTS:

How to talk so your kids will listen by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
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What we talk about when we talk about God by Rob Bell
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LANGUAGE:

We felt like with this theme it would also be a great month to explore different languages. Lucy has loved this app that teaches Spanish.
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This Frida ap also looks pretty great –
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 What language learning programs have you used? Any fun games language games for kids that you would recommend?

THE ARTS:

Conversing does not always have to be verbal. I am planning on taking the girls to several ballet productions this month.
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MAKE:

My front door is needing a new spring wreath. I am thinking I will make something simple like this twig flower beauty.
DIY-Spring-Wreath
I also like this Square one from Megan Brooke Handmade
OldSpringWreath-1

MUSIC:

Curate a Tree themed Arbor Day playlist
Apple Tree

 

April Free Calendar Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

 

April is here! Spring oh lovely springtime. Fresh air and sunshine. Here is a favorite spring recipe,  an April Showers playlist to dance in the rain to, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, go take a look at my newest Silkscreen Print and Tim’s gorgeous song that goes with it.

And here is some new artwork for your screens!

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the iphone images. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen.

High Resolution Desktop Wallpaper:

april desktop_large

iphone April 2016_v2 iphone April 2016_v3

Abacus “Grow” Round Up

April: Grow

I can’t believe it is April 28th already. Time does seem to fly by these days. But, we have been doing lots of “Grow”ing around here. The theme for this month’s Abacus project was “Grow” (ABACUS is our creative home curriculum centered on a theme). It was the perfect theme for a lovely sunshine and rain kind of April. To see the whole list of projects we came up with (and resources) check out our original post, here.

First of all, we had a lovely Easter celebration – both at home, and in Denver. (Tim is missing from this photo because he was in Denver running the Easter services there)
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Just look at these two silly bunnies (they INSISTED on wearing their bunny suits to the egg hunts).
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We ended the day with a spring dinner outside in our garden. It was lovely. (At which we made these very yummy biscuits)
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We visited Baby Animal Days at Centennial Village
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We have a whole set of CD case bean sprouts growing in our window right now. The roots are now visible. Harriet is our official water-er.

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The girls and I have been planting all kinds flowers out in our garden. On days like these, it’s pretty hard to be inside.
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We grew a baby pool full of water beads. We experimented with adding food coloring to make them colored – which worked great. The girls played with them for hours and then eventually smushed them into oblivion.
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Lucy and I are about half way through The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. She absolutely loves it. Harriet does not 🙂 But that is because she is 3. Lucy has all sorts of plans for making a secret garden of her own.
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Lucy started on a Garden quilt, but quickly lost interest. She maybe cut out 6 squares. But, we have the pieces tucked away for the next rainy day.IMG_3764

I started a homemade braided rug. I have been LOVING the process. Delightfully mindless but satisfying. I am about halfway through my fabric scraps. Its going to take longer than I thought to make it the size I was hoping, but I can’t wait.


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We have a large tree growing up our dining room wall. I posted the image I compiled to make the tree if you want to use it. I tiled it and then got cheap blueprint 24X24 copies made. The girls and I used pastels and watercolors to paint it.

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grow tree
We haven’t built the growth chart I wanted to make yet, but we have built frames for some paintings and a sweet little fairy house thanks to my dad’s wood working skills. We also bought all the lumber for our garden archway project, but haven’t made any progress on the actual build. My goal is to have it put together by the time my cucumber vines need somewhere to climb.

We grew our growing crystal tree and some funny grow fish my mom got for the girls.

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We listened to lots of spring music this month –
-Our April Showers playlist

-Our new Birdie Mix

-The Secret Garden Broadway Soundtrack (which Lucy has really enjoyed because it has bits of story element that she connects with the book we are reading)
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-And Elizabeth Mitchell’s Sunny Day CD – just the sweetest kids folk music ever made
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The girls emptied out their piggy banks, we spent some time talking about the different coins and what they are worth. Then, we went to the bank and cashed the change in (23 dollars!) – learning about how banks work. Finally, we went to Target where the girls each picked out and paid for a Lego set that was in their price range. Pretty great.
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Lucy did several pages of “homework” that involved lots of measuring practice.

We are not the kind of family that worries too much about our kids being “behind.” However when it comes to coordination and “sportsy” type activities, we are pretty lacking. Harriet still can’t figure out how to pedal a tricycle so we are working on it 🙂
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We picked wild asparagus  – although not very much.

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A couple of days ago I was hurrying to finish up a commissioned painting and Tim was signed up to be the helper at Harriet’s preschool. So, I set up an easel in the middle of our garden beds and told Lucy to paint what she saw. She dug in a created the most lovely garden masterpiece. Claude Monet would have been proud. It was a peaceful session of plein air painting for both of us.

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We still want to visit a Garden center, finish our garden arch and grow chart, and hopefully paint on some flower pots. But, my what a lovely April it has been.

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“Birdie” A Curated Playlist of Spring ‘Bird’ songs

We made a playlist of “bird” songs after watching all the little birdies outside our window.

1. Surfin Bird – The Trashmen

2. Rockin’ Robin

3. Happy Working Song – Amy Adams

4. Blackbird – Sarah McLachlan

5. Norwegian Wood – Heather Nova

6. Little Bird, Little Bird – Elizabeth Mitchell

7. Birdie Brain – the Fiery Furnaces

8. I’ll Be Yr Bird – M. Ward

9. Bird on a Wire – Johnny Cash

10. Carol of the Birds – Mormon Tabernacle

11. Free Bird – Lynard Skynyrd

My Two Very Favorite Biscuit Recipes

 


There are two kinds of biscuits – ones that you put toppings on and ones that you don’t. As much as my husband would like to argue there is a third kind that comes in a can, he is wrong. This first recipe acts as a perfect vehicle for toppings – sausage gravy, salted butter and strawberry jam, maple cream (if you are so lucky), homemade apple butter, etc. In this case, I want a thick simple biscuit, served right out of the oven, split in half and slathered with whichever toppings I have on hand. In this case, the biscuit I want is my mother’s (which is adapted from Better Homes & Gardens).

Preheat oven to 450°. In a bowl stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (you can do this in the food processor if you want). Make a well in the center; add milk all at once. Stir just till dough clings together. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough gently for 10-12 strokes. Roll or pat dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (a drinking glass works great), dipping cutter into flour between cuts (my kiddos like shaped cookie cutters). Transfer biscuits to a baking sheet. Bake in a 450° oven for 9-11 minutes or until golden on the edges. Serve warm with butter and toppings. Makes 10.


This second biscuit recipe is the kind of thing I would want to have with a cup of tea in the afternoon. If you were coming over to my house for an afternoon chat, or in need of a little extra love, I would make you these. They are buttery, salty, and crispy on the outside, and sweet and tender on the inside. They need absolutely no adornments – just eat them the way they are. They are little pillows of magic. We made two pans of these for Easter dinner this year. There wasn’t a single one left. You must eat these while still warm out of the oven. Fortunately, the prepped pan of biscuits freezes great. You can make them ahead of time and then bake when ready.

Note: This recipe is Rosa’s almost exactly except that I cut down the sugar a bit.

Ingredients

SERVINGS: MAKES 24

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces; plus 6 Tbsp. (¾ stick), melted
  • ¾ cup chilled buttermilk

 Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and 1½ tsp. salt in a large bowl. Add chilled butter and toss to coat. Work butter into flour mixture with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal with several pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
  • Using a fork, gently mix in buttermilk, then gently knead just until dough comes together (do not overmix).
  • Pinch off pieces of dough and gently roll into 1” balls; place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart (you should have about 24). If butter softens too much while you are working, chill dough until firm before baking, 15–20 minutes.
  • Bake biscuits until golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with more salt (I use flaky sea salt). Serve warm.

    Recipe adapted from Rosa Pacheco, Del Posto, NYC, Photograph by Dustin Aksland – published in Bon Appetit, 2014

April 2015 Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

Last year Tim wrote this about April –

April is a smile
a spark
an epiphany
a new dawn

These days are given to
the pranksters

the believers
the early risers
Bright mornings, bright ideas, bright souls
Because with every rain there’s a clearing
And a new sun to enjoy

Here is a “bright” new desktop for your computer and iphone. A toast to new “Growth.” Click the small thumbnail below to download the large sized file. For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the iphone images. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen. Enjoy!

For iPhones:

iphone april
Click the thumbnail below to download the large sized desktop wallpaper:
april 2015 desktop