Fly Tying 101 – Weeks Five & Six

Guest Blogger ~ Geneva

During week #5, we learned how to tie a Pheasant tail fly.  The Pheasant tail fly uses a lot of Pheasant tail feathers.  It looks really cool when it is all done though it was a little confusing to make.  The woman pictured behind me is one of the volunteers in my class.  She is considered to be one of the world’s best fly tyers.

Week #6 – The last week of the class was probably the most fun. We got to tie a Copper John. This one was really cool because we got to split the tail in half.

I really enjoyed Fly Tying class.  The volunteers said that they will have another class in the spring and if there is enough interest, they will do an advanced class.  I hope the other kids want to do it again because I would love to learn how to make more advanced flies.

They also have a summer camp in July.  I am going to write a couple of essays so that I can hopefully win a scholarship to the camp.  I think it would be a lot of fun.

Our Scandinavian Holiday Traditions

The holiday season is upon us.  A time when family traditions come to life. Customs and beliefs are passed down from one generation to the next and celebrated each year.  In our home, the traditions of Scandinavia are most evident. Today, I share with you our Scandinavian holiday traditions.  Perhaps you will wish to add a few new traditions to your own.

The Advent Calendar is common in Norwegian homes during the holiday season. Typically, these calendars give you a tasty chocolate surprise for each 24 days leading up to Christmas.

In our home, rather than a confection, the doors conceal a little note on which a favorite holiday activity is noted.  To create our customized Advent Calendar, I used simple Advent Action Cards designed by Ali Edwards.  The activity noted on the card can be simple (read a favorite holiday children’s book) or more elaborate (take a drive to enjoy the holiday lights).  This takes a little pre-planning as the notes are coordinated with our calendar in advance.

In Scandinavia, hand-made ornaments are traditional and our family tree is adorned in a similar style with paper flag garlands, straw ornaments, crocheted snowflakes, and woven paper hearts.  The woven heart baskets are a great project for all ages and a great decoration for the tree.

It is quite common in Norway to get your julestrømper – Christmas stockings on Christmas Eve morning.  The stockings are packed with candy and small toys.  Children like to enjoy them while watching the traditional Christmas movies and TV shows played for the holiday season. The entire day is spent with the family getting ready for the Christmas Eve meal and relaxing at home with the family.   

Christmas cookies are a must-have for any Christmas celebration and baking them at home is a great way to bring the family together. Some of the popular cookies in Norway that you can try your hand at are: pepperkaker or gingerbread, krumkaker (waffle cookie curved in a cone shape), sandkake or sand cakes that are simple short cake baked in molds and filled with jelly, and fattigmann (poor man), a recipe that dates backs to over 100 years ago.

For more delicious cookie recipes, check out my series 5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes

Another annual tradition in many Scandinavian homes (at least in the United States) is to make Lefse.  My mother and my grandmother before her would make lefse every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We now continue this tradition on our own as well as with our extended, lodge family. 

Try mixing up your Christmas meal with a different recipe. Different parts of Norway indulge in their own traditional Christmas Eve meal. In Østlandet (Eastern Norway) it is common to have ribs and pork sausages with potatoes. In Vestlandet (Western Norway), pinnkjøtt lamb with rutabagas and potatoes are the dishes of choice. While in Nord Norge (Northern Norway) lutefisk, peas, bacon, and potatoes are prepared.

Try mixing some of these foods into your holiday meal. A few years ago, I came upon an article in Sunset magazine, Christmas in the Rockies, have since began to adapt many of these recipes for our own tastes.

Follow up your Christmas meal with a delicious, traditional dessert! The popular riskrem (rice pudding) is eaten in almost every Norwegian home on Christmas Eve for dessert. The simple yet tasty dessert contains rice, in almost pudding like texture with cream or milk and sugar added. Top it off with raspberry sauce and it is ready to eat. Try it the Norwegian way by hiding an almond in the recipe before dishing out each serving. Whoever uncovers the almond in their rice pudding wins a marzipan pig, another popular holiday treat in Norway.

These are just a few of the Scandinavian traditions we honor in our family. How do you your do Christmas in your homeschool?

Getting to Know Olea Europea

Spurred by our recent outing to collect the olives growing in our neighborhood – What to Do With Fresh Olives? – we took a few minutes to sit down and sketch a small branch we had brought back with us for this exact purpose.  Sadly but not surprising, the Handbook of Nature Study and other local field guides we have in our library do not mention the olive as it is not native and is grown here (typically) for agricultural purposes.  It would be interesting to learn why they were planted in our neighborhood – was it simply for ornamental purposes? 

The olive tree, Olea europaea, is an evergreen tree or shrub native to the Mediterranean, Asia, and Africa. It is short and squat, and rarely exceeds 8–15 metres (26–49 ft) in height. The silvery green leaves are oblong, measuring 4–10 centimetres (1.6–3.9 in) long and 1–3 centimetres (0.39–1.2 in) wide. The trunk is typically gnarled and twisted.  The fruit is a small oval shape measuring 0.40–1.0 inches in length. Olives are harvested in the green to purple stage. Canned black olives may contain chemicals that turn them black artificially.  Olea europaea contains a seed commonly referred to in American English as a pit or a rock, and in British English as a stone.

Fly Tying 101 – Week Four

Guest Blogger ~ Geneva
This week in fly tying class we learned to tie a lure.  A lure is not actually a fly but a hook with flashy stuff to attract the fish.  Once they are lured in close, you can change your hook. You can sometimes hook them with just the lures, too.

I also learned in class about a fun Fish Camp in the summer.  It costs a lot of money so I am going to write two essays so I can maybe I can go on a scholarship.

This is a great fly tying website, Fly Anglers OnLine, Your Complete Internet Flyfishing Resource.  On the home page, if you go to the left column and click on FOTW (fly of the week), you’ll tap into thousands of fly tying patterns.
There are also three levels of fly tying courses (after you click on “fly tying” in the left column), and lots of other articles and information.   Warning:  this can eat up lots of your time, so it’s best to save it until after all studying and homework is done for the day.
Today my mom and dad gave me a fly tying kit.  It was my birthday gift.  They waited to buy it until after the class so they would know what kind of kit to buy.  I am really excited.

How to Plan a Homeschool Art Show

As I had done a few years ago in Central Oregon, I recently coordinated an art show for the local homeschool community.  I highly recommend this to anyone interested in art and connected to community of children – whether through the home, charter, public, or private school circles.  There is truly little work required on the part of the coordinator and the students and families get so much out of the experience.

The first thing I do is reserve a space to display the art.  Ideally, this is a public space that is free to non-profit use.  I used the public library which has a large conference room with tables, chairs, and presentation equipment (pull-down screen, podium, etc.) available.  I elected to allot a four hour window for the show as the conference room at our library is not a secure area.  In the future, it was suggested that I make arrangements with the librarian to have the students’ work on display for a full week in another part of the library (perhaps in a display case) so that more people would have an opportunity to enjoy it.

Once the date was nailed down, I created a flier and registration form that I posted on our local homeschool board.   To encourage the kids to try something new, they were allowed to submit up to three pieces of art, but each must be from a different medium.  In addition, I required that the work be relatively recent (within two years).   Each family was asked for a $5 registration fee to cover the cost of prizes.  In the future however, I think I will seek out donations from local art supply stores, online retailers, and even other local artists to make the event more accessible to all.

I also notified the local newspaper and community magazines, inviting the public to come out and enjoy the students’ work.  The kids, in turn, invited extended family, friends, and teachers.  Everyone was given an opportunity to vote for their favorite pieces – one vote for the 8 & under age group and one vote for 9 & older age group.  This year, there were only 14 participants so I used only two age divisions.  If there are more participants in the future, I would consider using more divisions.  At the conclusion of the day, the votes were tallied and winners (those receiving the most votes) were announced.

The greatest thing about the show was the fascination the kids, parents, and community shared with the students’ work.  Everyone was blown away by their skill and creativity.  Many were taking notes and asking questions about technique.  The kids were so proud of their work and delighted in sharing it with others – with friends and even strangers.  It was indeed of inspiration and recognition.

[Admin Note ~ This year, the show was open to only homeschool students.  Next year, I may consider including a division for parents.]

Fly Tying 101 – Week Three

Guest Blogger ~ Geneva

In Fly Tying class this week we learned how to tie a Zebra Midge.  We tied two similar flies that were very quick and easy.  It is a great sub-surface fly.  It resembles a mosquito larvae.

The tool that I am using in this picture is called a whip finish it does a whole lot of half knots at one time. This is a cool and fun fly to tie.

The person on the left is one of the teachers. He is very helpful. Below are the flies that I tied in class this week. They are very small.

The two on the right are ones that are coming to the surface to live the rest of their lives. They all have a small gold bead to resemble the fly’s head.