Just Plain Living…

Stories from our gentle Home…

By-Product Creation… April 7, 2009


My dear son, Riley has been working on this project for about a week now, off and on. I try not to push crafty time on my kids…I always want them to go to it because they want to…not because they are forced. In our homeschooling  history syllabus, Riley had a lesson on the Civil War era (I do get quite exhausted doing history with the kids…it is so much fighting…I love the way our curriculum approaches it though!) and one aspect of it focused on sewing/quilting. Well…he first chose to sew a dream pillow and then he chose to go for a bigger challenge…designing and sewing a quiver for his arrows. So, we purchased some scrap leather from our favorite supply store… and after letting it sit for about a week, we decided to figure out how to do it.

First, he decided to have the suede side face out. Then, he determined the shape…cut it out…and made a mark where he wanted the holes to go. Then, with a stitching awl and a hammer, he “punched” the holes. Next, we decided upon using book binding thread, (mostly because we had it at home-and leather would have been a real challenge to “sew” with) which is waxed linen thread-strong and durable. I have hand-bound several books and love the ease of using this thread.  I helped him to get the thread on the curved bookbinding needle (perfect for leather work-who would have known?), pick a “stitch” and he took it from there. We had a fun time…sitting on the Plain kitchen floor…laughing…talking and randomly picking up the camera to take pictures…actually…Riley had a little too much fun taking photos of me…I am a bit sleep deprived today and he took advantage of it…NO, I am not posting those photos…I was just TOO silly…I wonder how I learned to make all of those terrible expressions!? Ok…anyway…here are the photos of the quiver…april62009-037april62009-030april62009-043


For the strap, I purchased two pair of leather shoe laces and used three single laces in a braid. I measured Riley and we knotted the straps where he liked and stuck one end through the bottom (inbetween stitches) and the other end in through the top flap that is folded down-we just punched a bigger hole. All in all it looks great and he did an awesome job. GO Riley! If I gave grades…surely he would receive an A+++!


I am going to bed now…


R-O-Y-G-B-I-V March 28, 2009

What does this acronym stand for? Well, I suppose it could be many things but for the purposes of our Just Plain household (this week), each letter stands for a color in the rainbow, in order.  I must have learned to memorize the order of the rainbow by using these letters. I wonder why? Why was I unable to just picture a rainbow and name the colors? Well, I think it is because somehow I never got the color wheel lesson in school. The basic understanding of the primary colors and how every color that IS, is made from these three. I have learned more in the past two years of homeschooling my children than I did in my entire middle and high school career. Honestly, I could go on and on about all of the cool things I had the privilege of teaching this week but, I will keep it to what I thought to be the best and most useful, starting with what I did with my youngest who is 5 and using a nature based pre-school learning program.

We started the week at the library collecting great books on rainbows. We then made a supply list and shopped for what we needed. We had many items already at home since our daily rhythm is the same for each day of each week. This week we incorporated the rainbow theme into each day. We have already learned about the primary colors but generally use them on their own-focusing on one at a time. Here are some of the amazing things we learned…

Sunlight is really made of the rainbow’s colors-when those colors are all mixed together, it is called white light. Isaac Newton discovered this when he bent sunlight with a wedge of glass (a prism) and made a rainbow out of it (in a darkened room). He then sent that rainbow through another prism and combined the colors back into white light-thus proving the rainbow was in the sunlight!

BLACK is not really a color-it is seen when there is no light and when there is no light, there is no color. Browns, greys and other hues are mixtures that sunlight can not put into the rainbow. (Um, ah, so, does this also  mean that when a tree falls in the woods and there is no one to hear it that it does not make a sound? Hmmm…I’m going to ponder that one a while. Ouch.)

In order to see a rainbow, the sun must be behind (ish) you and falling rain must be ahead of you (even if you don’t know it) in the distance. The falling raindrops are like a movie screen. Sunlight hits the raindrop “screen” and the rainbow appears in full color! How? Well, raindrops are water and water can bend the light. In the air, all of the colors in the sunlight travel together in the same direction. When they enter the raindrop, the colors separate as they bend in different directions.

Violet light bends the most, red light bends the least. Each color bends differently-the reason why each color is headed in a slightly different direction when it leaves the raindrop.

The back of the raindrop works like a mirror. Inside the raindrop, most of the sunlight is bent and bounced back to the front of the drop where the light entered. By then, the light is aimed back toward the ground in the sun’s direction. If you are in the right place at the right time…you will see some of that light as a RAINBOW.

When you see a single RAINBOW, red is on the top, violet on the bottom. Sometimes, some of the sunlight in a raindrop bounces twice before it leaves the drop and that light can add a second RAINBOW above the first one. The double RAINBOW is not as bright AND, that second bounce flips the colors…so, violet is at the top and red at the bottom. Now, I have seen double RAINBOWs before and NEVER even paid attention to this!

 Now, for the fun stuff…

Spin a color wheel with the colors of the RAINBOW and you see white! (Hmmm…makes since now!)

Each color on the wheel has a complimentary color, it is the color directly opposite of it. Try staring at an all-blue piece of paper or a blue circle on a white piece of paper, then look at an all white piece of paper. What do you see? Orange! The complimentary color of blue! This works for all of the colors and their compliments on the wheel.

And for a challenge…do a search using the key words “Goethe vs. Newton”. See who you agree with…is it black or is it white?

  Should your glance on mornings lovely
  Lift to drink the heaven’s blue
  Or when sun, vieled by sirocco,
  Royal red sinks out of view –
  Give to Nature praise and honour.
  Blithe of heart and sound of eye,
  Knowing for the world of colour
  Where its broad foundations lie.

Ahhh…and now for the pictures from our week…

march-2009-007The playdough we made from scratch…in a rainbow of colors…

march-2009-012Now they are snails… (purple went black…not sure why)

march-2009-016And now cobras…

march-2009-017And birdies…

march-2009-002This was the first rainbow of the week…created with found objects from around the room.

march-2009-006Our own rainbow, created with a CD reflecting (I mean “bending”) the sunlight on the wall




march-2009-026The next day we made natural dye from beets…

march-2009-0621and turmeric…

march-2009-060Once the beets cooked (for an hour…) we shredded them and cooked them some more…

march-2009-061all in an attempt to create a couple of the colors of the rainbow…

march-2009-0721We did it! The beets gave a lovely shade of pink…

march-2009-0711and the turmeric a pretty shade of yellow on the 100% cotton muslin that we purchased on our day of shopping for supplies here:


my absolute favorite shop for crafting items (and the only place that sells loose wool and felting needles!). Taige will build many forts with those play cloths. WHAT FUN!


And, the biggest score of the supply shopping trip was at the French Broad Food Co-Op. Here, I discovered that they actually sell Waldorf art supplies and that they carry the best watercolor paints on the planet…I have been wanting these for at least 6 months…and for some reason, I still had not ordered them online. They are quite costly but do last for a long time…if you dilute them correctly. I will never again paint with watercolor from a tube! I purchased the primary colors since all colors can be created from those and it is said to lay a better foundation for the understanding of color (in a nutshell…) if a young child is taught watercolor using just these colors. Most of the time, they are used on their own, one at a time. But, on Thursday…


we set up as usual to paint…


(isn’t Roy G. Biv cute??)



VIOLAFirst, we said a painting verse as well as a rainbow verse…and then we took a deep breath…and began painting. I led the painting today-using all 3 colors is a big deal! First a red bow (like your bow and arrow Taige), then leave a space for orange because we have to make it…and make a smaller yellow bow inside the red one…then a dip in water and scoop the yellow up to meet the red…WOW…it makes orange! Fill in that space with the orange! Next,  leaving room for green…paint an even smaller bow of blue inside the  yellow. Dip, dip…now bring that blue up to kiss the yellow! Green has arrived! And last but not least..a tiny dip in red over the bottom edge of blue…aha! Indigo! Dont rinse that brush…just kiss the water with it…and another bow inside indigo…makes violet… What fun we had…and what a difference these paints make…so smooth and transparent…


‘Rainbows’-created using the wet-on-wet watercolor technique (soaking the watercolor paper in water before painting).

That was it for rainbows this week…but, here are a few snaps of other things from our life this week…

march-2009-067Riley had a sewing project for history this week…so, he chose this awesome fabric and used a blend of herbs that I already had mixed…and sewed a dream pillow-with a separate pouch inside for the herbs-just LOOK at his lovely stitches…all done by hand…even some back stitching! I am falling into R.E.M. just thinking of the smell (mugwort-one of the ingredients- is a dream inducer…well….sort of…but, that description will do for today’s purposes!)

march-2009-053The “dream” herbs…

march-2009-070The proud boy!

That beautiful wool is an Earth Guild find…it is just begging me to needle felt Miss Spring

But, Mrs. Thaw is still trying to send King Winter on his merry way…and he seems to not want to leave…march-2009-024

She has been sweeping and sweeping winter away but he keeps coming back…poor thing, I know how she feels…I battle with my kitchen floor just the same…

But then again, the nature table where she is currently working is not looking very spring-like yet…hmmm…better get on that…march-2009-021

 And last but not least…a preview of next week…(with more yummy ‘finds’ from Earth Guild)


Beeswax sheets for hand rolling candles…can you smell it? MMMhhh!


And a leather “scrap” (it’s a by-product…it’s ok!) for Riley’s next sewing project…a quiver for his wooden arrows that go with his beautiful wooden bow.


Can’t wait to see  how they turn out!

Wow…what an amazing week…

 We are BLESSED!!

Now…LISTEN to this…