* I keep a few low drawers in my kitchen full of arts and crafts supplies — everything from scissors and glitter glue, to crayons (one of the big! 64! colors! boxes), to stickers, to coloring books, to odd little cardboard models that I find at Michaels. (You know Michaels, right? World’s greatest Wiccan supply store? Also known as the Parents’/Grandparents’ best friend?)
G/Son can be over here a dozen times and not open those drawers, but then we get to a weekend such as this past one, when he’s lethargic from a lingering cold, it’s rainy, grey, and cool outside, and Nonna’s kitchen is the brightest, coziest place to be. Then, he’ll open up the drawers and start pulling out projects, working happily for hours with only an occasional juice box, or bowl of popcorn, or help opening a well-sealed packet of stickers needed to keep things going. Music from WETA helps, too, especially if turned on without comment.
If you have children in your life, I recommend arts and crafts drawers.
If you live alone or with other adults, what would you put in a drawer for you and/or your housemates? My own drawer would have bath bombs, a scented candle, cool yarn, a new poetry book, a tin of madelines, some tiny bottles of absinthe and glitter, incense that I don’t normally use, . . . .
* The other thing that G/Son and I had fun with this weekend was a box of Fairy Berries:
Best. Bath. Toy. Ever. G/Son always tells me that he doesn’t want a bath, but a few of these thrown into the tub and he never wants bath time to end.
* Landscape Guy turned me on to this lovely idea for lavender wands. I’m hoping to have enough flowers this year to try a few. Meanwhile, the sage in my herb bed is out of control, so I’ll definitely be making lots of smudge sticks to use and give to friends.
Another great way to use up extra sage is pears (or apples, or bananas, or mangoes, or sweet potatoes, or . . . well, you get the idea) in sage butter.
* On Saturday morning, G/Son and I bundled up and drove to the local farmers’ market. Nonna got asparagus, strawberries, yogurt, and radishes. (Someone else, who shall remain nameless, blew all of HIS spending money on apple cider doughnuts, hot off the doughnut machine, covered in cinnamon sugar. To be fair, he enjoyed every single one of them, including the ones that Nonna warmed back up on Sunday morning.)
As we were leaving the farmers’ market, G/Son said, “Nonna, you should come here and sell all of your herbs.” Nonna said that Saturdays are usually her one day to sleep in a little bit and that people who sell at the farmers’ market have to get up early on Saturday to cut their herbs, set up their stalls, etc. G/Son allowed as how he could help me to cut herbs, and set up, and could even make change (which, again to be fair, he honestly can do, by now), but that he would need at least “fifty percent, Nonna, literally, fifty percent; that means half.” Which is not a bad partnership proposal.
But Nonna said that she prefers to give her extra herbs to friends and family. Maybe when Nonna retires, and G/Son is older, we’ll have a stall at the farmers’ market, selling herbs, smudge sticks, lavender wands, Nonna’s knitting, and the odd tarot reading.
Another way that I use up extra herbs is in butters, which can be made with tarragon, dill, parsley, oregano, sage, thyme, and even mint. You soften the butter, chop up the herbs, mix them up with the butter, spread the mixture on a marble or wooden board (my cutting board works great), semi-chill it, and then use small cookie cutters to make lovely little pats of herb-butter. They freeze really well, and are perfect for tucking inside the skin of a roast chicken, atop a grilled fish, in between layers of mushrooms and potatoes for a hearty casserole, atop a steak on the grill.
* I grew garlic this year, as an experiment, and it has produced beyond my wildest dreams. Next year, I’ll grow a lot more: DiL and I both use a lot of garlic. I grew, and plan to grow, hardneck garlic because it produces garlic scapes.
Here’s one way to “braid” it:
I’ll let you know how it works.
* Whenever he’s over here, I read G/Son a chapter of so of The Secret Garden once he’s tucked into bed. (Pro tip: Seven-year-olds will listen to anything you like if it delays “lights out” for even a few minutes. It’s a way of helping them to listen to something that they like but can’t admit that they like if they’re to remain cool.) Next, I’m planning on Little Lord Fauntleroy, by the same author.
All that most people know about this book is that it’s about a little boy who lives as a cossetted English lord. But it’s actually a hugely populist novel, especially as espoused in the character of Mr. Hobbs, the New York city grocer, who always reminds the little lord that most property is stolen, and who shows up to save him in the end.
I’m going to read my 21st Century G/Son Little Lord Fauntleroy as an act of revolution. I shan’t be gone long. You come, too.
* Another silly thing that G/Son and I do is to play card (that kid is an Uno card shark) and board games. Hi, Ho, Cherry-O! was a favorite when he as a toddler. As he’s gotten older, G/Son’s come to especially enjoy The Magic Labyrinth. Chutes and Ladders and Chinese Checkers are close runners up.
Card and board games are wonderful for the face-to-face interaction that they allow and for the story-telling that goes on during the game (which you won’t get with X-box or Wii; they go too fast). Whenever we play a board game, G/Son asks me to tell him the story of how his dad and I would play Scrabble on snow days, since, as a teacher, I always got those days off with Son. I tell G/Son how Nonna would always make a pot of soup or chili or would roast a turkey (29 cents/pound back then!) while she and Son played Scrabble and watched the snow. He likes the part where Son would try to sneak in words that weren’t in the dictionary.
When he’s a bit older, I’m going to introduce Scrabble, Pictionary, and Trivial Pursuit.
Who knows what G/Son will remember about me when I slip through the veils to the Summerlands? But if all that he remembers are long, sunny mornings on my porch playing Calvinball Uno in our pajamas and bathrobes, eating farmers’ market strawberries, and telling stories, well, I think that I’ll be very ok with that.
What’s your favorite board game? Your favorite game memory? Did you play anything with your Nonna?
Picture found here.