Little Hen’s Cafe – Tutorial

This morning Little Hen was up early, all excited about her idea – she was asking if she could create “a cafe with a menu and everything” for homeschool today.  We don’t eat out much, and I’m not sure of the source of her inspiration, but what a great idea!

She had very specific ideas about what she wanted – the cafe must 1)serve autumn food 2) have a tri-fold menu in fall colors and 3)offer appetizers, drinks, entrees and desserts and 4) she would be the waitress, I would be the customer, and Firecracker would be the chef.

Here’s how we made it:

Little Hen writing the title page.

and decorating with fall stamps

Then we made the inside pages.  Little Hen wrote the titles and asked me to write in the dishes (She is only 5, and gets tired writing so much, she explained).  She and Firecracker decided on what dishes the cafe would serve – all things they felt were reflective of the fall season. 

Don’t you love how she spells “entree” (at the top of the picture)?  So adorable.

Then we glued two pieces of construction paper together, glued a coordinating piece on top, and glued our three menu panels over it all:

After folding it into thirds, we spent the morning play Cafe – the girls took my order and served me playfood.  After I “ate” my entree, Firecracker said, “Now, who has room for dessert? We have a lovely selection.”  Too cute - she sounded just like a waitress!

Prairie Girls at the Farmers Market

The prairie girls make another appearance – at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market.  This time, they went for a more bohemian look, and were determined to sling their babies in some Indian scarves. 

We grow most of our own veggies, especially fall ones (kale, beets, broccoli, chard, rutabega, peas, potatoes, turnips, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots…you get the picture), but we do run to the farmer’s market for fruit and things I haven’t managed to put in the garden.  This trip was for butternut and acorn squash, and the last of the peaches for the year. 

Nature Table – Autumn

We have slowly been making and collecting items for our fall nature table.  I know that many more things will be added as the season progresses, but for now here’s what the girls and I have assembled.

also, check out a giveaway of homespun yarny goodness here

On the drive – also giveaways

Some spinning I was working on as we drove to Hood River this past weekend.  It’s 100% Oregon wool that I bought while volunteering with my guild at the Spin-In when we lived on the coast.  The roving looked so pretty, but I was a new and inexperienced spinner, and I realize now that there were too many colors in it – burgundy, purple, forest green, grey, orange, and a little yellow –  and it looks muddy when spun up.  I think it’ll make okay baby booties or an edging on a baby sweater.  Overall, I’m not too impressed, but I feel like I have to finish it before I can start the gorgeous fawn alpaca top I bought in Hood River.

(my father handmade me this lovely maple spindle, btw.  It spins smoothly and evenly and produces a nice worsted weight yarn.  He’s also made me one of oak and one of walnut that are great for sport and fingering weights)

also,  i stumbled upon a huge number of giveaways today (what’s up with that?)-

Grosgrain is giving away a cute red ridinghood jacket – check it out.

BeckyKnitsToo requested cute halloween costume ideas and a linkback for her contest – my favorite was when Firecracker was a bumble bee for her 4th halloween (which also happened to be her third birthday).  She wore black a leotard and tights, black and yellow leggings i had knit, wings, antennae and a black and yellow striped stinger that was safety pinned to her bum.  She ran around “buzzing” all day.  The best part was when a kid at preschool bumped into her, and immediately leapt backward and shouted in surprise, “ACK! … Hh, whew.  For a second I thought I was going to get stung!”

really great baby sling giveaway at here.

soap giveaway at Sweet Figments.

also a giveaway at Noodles and Milk

cute birdie letter set giveaway here.

Orchard Country

This past weekend we took our annual day trip to Hood River, OR with my sister.  Reading Grace and Denise and Abby and Blue Yonder had me eagerly anticipating this trip.  The day met and surpassed all my expectations. 


Above – Little Hen, Auntie, Firecracker, Me holding Tum Tum

We were blessed with warm, sunny weather, pears to pick, apples to eat, alpacas to pet and fiber to purchase.


Now to the pear butter, apple butter, apple sauce, apple pies, spinning, and knitting that are waiting to be created!

A Little Beading

My sister-in-law just had her birthday, so I thought i’d whip up some earrings for her.  I spent 15 minutes making two pairs of earrings, and then the girls spent about half an hour quietly playing at the table with the beads – stringing them for a while, then acting out little scenes with various beads as characters in their stories. 

Little Hen Beading
Little Hen Beading

I love homeschooling and the freedom it provides the girls to craft and free play without the pressure to produce a finished product. 

The girls playing with beads
The girls playing with beads

My son is an addict.

Tum Tum is the sweetest, easiet baby I could ever ask for.  If all babies were like him, everyone would want 15 kids!  Unfortunately, as of late, he seems to be developing a bad bad bad habit. 

Now, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was a thumb sucker, and my parents had a terrible time breaking me of the habit.  The girls never sucked their thumbs, their fingers, a pacifier, or had a security blanket.  I’m not sure how to handle Mr. Happy Finger Sucker.  Any advice?

Busy Days, Simple Dinners

Stirring Carrots into Black Bean Stew
Stirring Carrots into Black Bean Stew

For homeschool, we are exploring the letter “B” this week and butterfly crafts, blowing bubbles, beekeeping books, and butter making abound.   Little Hen suggested that we bake Banana Bread this morning.  I thought a simple dinner of the bread served next to Black Beans with carrots and Brown rice would round out the B theme nicely.  I love the nutty, rich smell of black beans cooking on the stove. 

Simple Banana Bread

Simple Banana Bread by Larksong

2 large bananas, mashed

3/4 C sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 C unbleached flour

1/2 C whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda


Butter a 9×5 loaf pan and preheat oven to 350F

Beat bananas, sugar, butter, eggs in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Gentle stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix.  Pour into prepared pan and bake until knife inserted into the middle comes out clean (about 55 minutes).  Invert and let cool on a rack.  Serve with Black bean stew for dinner, or with peanut butter for a snack!

Grape Harvest

The few precious grapes from our grapevine were finally ready today (not sure of the variety, but they are very flavorful).  I snapped this shot as quickly as I could – because, well, as you can see below, they didn’t last long!

And now for some actual knitting

Lamb's Pride Baby Sweater in progress
Lamb's Pride baby sweater in progress

A friend is having a baby boy this winter, and I’ve been busy working on a super easy, but super cute kimono-style sweater for her little one.  I’ve adapted an old pattern to use Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride in Mallard.  With three little ones to chase, a sweater that used to take me a weekend is now taking 3 weeks!   I find I don’t have the time or concentration to give to something more complicated right now, but I am still deriving an immense amount of satisfaction from finishing a project, even if it’s not such a challenge.

Leaf Box Craft

The last few days Little Hen has been collecting fall leaves and saving them in her pockets.  Needless to say, this doesn’t preserve them too well, and they have been ending up in the laundry instead of the nature table.  So, today we made her a little box in which she can collect her leaves.

Materials - paper bag, old candy box, glue stick, scissors
Materials – paper bag, old candy box, glue stick, scissors
Firecracker uses bird hole punch, fall color construction paper
Firecracker uses bird hole punch, fall color construction paper
Firecracker's finished birds
Firecracker's finished birds Little Hen Glueing the paper to the box


Little Hen finishes glueing the paper
Little Hen finishes glueing the paper


Firecracker anf Little Hen glue the birds
Firecracker and Little Hen glue the birds


Finishing the box - let's go find more leaves!
Finishing the box - let's go collect more leaves!

Brady Street Potato Dig




I am a huge fan of Penzey’s Spices, and find that their spices add so much to the simple, mostly vegetarian, dinners we cook around here. Their Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle is awesome mixed with sour cream and tossed over garden veggies.

 We had a heat wave last week that sent our potatoes over the edge a few weeks early, so two days ago we dug up the baby potatoes and tonight we’re enjoying the creamy new potatoes with the first of our fall shell peas in Brady Street sour cream sauce.  So yummy and so very easy.

What to do with all those tomatoes??

Here in Pacific Nortwest, our tomatoes aren’t usually ready until September.  I’ve been reading other ladies’ blogs with so much envy as they enjoy salsa, tomato salad, panzanella, fresh pasta sauce.  Now my beefsteaks are ready, and I’ve been enjoying fresh tomato salad almost every day.  I have Better Boys and Brandywines from my own garden, and Green Zebras and Black Krim’s from a fried.  Throw in a few yellow beefsteaks from my sister and some cherry tomatoes, and i’m in heaven.

Easy Tomato Salad

Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

5 large beefsteak tomatoes, cubed

1/4 lb mozarella, cubed

Handful of kalamata olives ( pits removed)

Italian salad dressing to coat.

Toss together and enjoy immediately.

Hoarding Tea Cups

I have a weakness for worn old tea cups that no one else wants, especially those with fading designs or teensy chips in the rim.  When i have a cup of tea in one of those cups, I think about what conversations they must have overheard or the comfort they brought on a chilly afternoon.  There’s a special beauty in their aged state and imperfection.

 Last week i scored some great tea cups at my local thrift store.  The tea cups were each 50 cents and their mix-n-match saucers were a quarter each!  They’ll enjoy a nice new life at my house – they won’t be forgotten here just because they’re well-loved.

Prairie Girls



Firecracker and Little Hen’s fascination with pioneers and prairie girls began last year when our homeschool group learned about the Oregon Trail for our Oregon History Days.  But lately, their interest in the subject has really blossomed as we read the Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Firecracker wears her bonnet everywhere, and Little Hen is begging me to sew a big, twirly calico prairie skirt. 

I forgot how wonderful the Little House books are.  How much they define an important part of childhood, especially for little girls who want to step into Laura’s life.  It’s even more magical reading them this time, enjoying the stories and examining the history with my girls.  Thank you, Marcela from unschooling group, for recommending them!

Grosgrain’s Giveaway

Check out Grosgrain’s giveaway here – it’s an uber-cute cowgirl outfit.  Firecracker’s “what i want to be when i grow up” of the moment is a horsefarmer/cowgirl.  Her birthday is on Halloween, and she would love love love to unwrap this little goodie and wear it trick-or-treating!  Fingers crossed!

Simple Sequin Craft

Hmm…It’s a grey, dreary day, and I need a cheer up.  The girls are asking for a “sparkly craft”.  Solution?  A 39 cent bag of sequins from my favorite thrift store down the street, some glue, colored pencils and scrap paper.

Sequin Flower Garden

Momma's Flower Garden
Momma’s Flower Garden
Firecracker's Flower Garden (age 3)
Firecracker’s Flower Garden (age 3)

Inspiring Unschoolers

Our Nature Table - Summer 2008
Our Nature Table - Summer 2008

I am so inspired by unschoolers, like Amanda, but find that I still need a little bit more structure to feel that my kids are learning what they’re “supposed to learn”.  About two-thirds of our day is spent in free play, crafts, and books of their choosing, and I weave lessons into their interests.  However, I just can’t let go of those set lesson plans for some writing and math.

Nature Table Closeup Summer 2008
Nature Table Closeup Summer 2008

I continue to draw inspiration from mamas like Grace, Sara, Denise, Shelley.  Thank you, ladies.

Summer’s End

Little Hen picks peaches
Little Hen picks peaches

Sigh…we had such a beautiful summer.  Today was the first day it actually felt like autumn here in the Pacific Northwest, and i’m a little sad to see days of peach picking and making raspberry jam come to an end. 

Peach-raspberry pie with oatmeal crumb topping
Peach-raspberry pie with oatmeal crumb topping

I’ll just try to look forward to the pear butter, bread baking, and hours and hours of knitting that the short, dark, rainy days to come will allow.

Plum Pie

In the front yard of our old house we had a very productive Italian prune plum tree.  The girls would eat several every day, and I would make tarts and pies.  Now we have moved back to the city, and I miss my plum tree and its bounty.  So, when my husband’s coworker gave us a bowl full of Italian prune plums from her tree yesterday, I knew exactly what I’d do with them this morning – country plum galette.  We glazed it with some black plum jam that Firecracker and I made in August.  There were even enough left for the girls to make their own mini-pie.

Country Plum Galette

One batch one-crust pie dough, chilled (I use the old Betty Crocker – 1 cup unbleached flour, 1/3 cup lard, 1 tsp salt, 2-4 tbsp ice water.  Cut lard into flour and salt, add water until dough forms)

6 tbsp brown sugar, divided

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp flour

Pinch salt

10-12 Italian prune plums, sliced into 6ths

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup homemade seedless blackberry plum jam (or storebought plum jam)

1 egg white

Granulated sugar, for sprinkling on crust


  1. preheat oven to 425 F.  Roll pie crust out until into a rectangle (I like a rustic look, so I don’t trim the edges).  Transfer to a parchment lined jelly roll pan (to catch drips – somehow it always drips!)
  2. combine 3 tbsp brown sugar, flour and cornstarch.  Sprinkle over the center of the crust, leaving a 1-2 inch border.
  3. toss plums with the remaining brown sugar and vanilla.  Lay in the center of the crust.  Fold over edges, brush with egg white and sprinkle with white sugar.
  4. bake 15 min, then reduce heat to 400 until plums are soft and bubbly, about 20-30 minutes more.
  5. remove from oven and brush with warmed plum jam.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Getting it together


Mocha Chip Cake
Mocha Chip Cake

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Welcome to Lark Song Knits

Hello, and welcome to my blog.  i’m a knitting-obsessed homeschooling mother of 3 beautiful little children who hopes to count her blessings by using this blog to linger in the joyful, hopeful moments of each day.  Thank you for stopping by.