Southern stories spun the old fashion way

I just love how moments like these come together spontaneously.

Just a few days ago E.A’s parents arrived midday after traveling over the beautiful North Cascades Scenic Highway. They stopped at a few of their favorite places along the way and arrived with arm fulls of seasonal treats one of my favorites being fresh strawberries, oh so good!

We found our way out to the backyard where the girls excitedly shared all their new tricks on the swings and toured our summer landscaping of mountain lupin and homestead roses in full bloom.

We gravitated to the shade due to the hot western sun and the scene unfolded. Grammie began spinning the rich tales of her childhood Nashville family. The girls soaked in all the stories and I could tell they were learning the age old art of story telling. I hope they will continue the Crownover tradition of sharing family history through stories.

And as I look back on that afternoon I can only think that in Nashville they were sitting under a shade tree, enjoying the fruits of the garden and sipping on refreshing drinks spinning tales just like we were.


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Hannah’s bakery

So Hannah has been expanding her skills and is a natural when it comes to finding tasty recipes and making them materialize! Last night she started out making a vanilla bean cheesecake but soon realized that the pantry was fresh out of white chocolate so without a second thought her plans switched directions from one end of the color spectrum to the other and the results were amazing! Chocolate Cheesecake to die for.

Hannah's Chocolate Cheesecake

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The club house is taking shape!

There are an amazing amount of decisions to make when building a house, luckily we(that would be Gramp and Toby) are building a club house so it boils down to where to place your footprints and sprinkle the glitter in the walkway concrete.

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4th of July wall raising!

It’s been a family event to stain the wood and frame the walls. Today Gramp and Toby have worked hard and put up the first wall of the club house. Right now it fits in nicely with the towns western theme of false store fronts and Hollywood stage sets.  And yes, it is tall which allows  for a kids sized crawl space of a sleeping loft.

So now the landscaper (ie; me) is thinking a few tall aspens and some native vegetation around the base to create a more cozy feel 😉 and of course some more walls and a roof! All to come.


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What’s in store for Hannah schooling next year-So exciting!

We just received what will be Hannah’s expedition for her educational focus in 2011-2012. Not only will MVCS add grades 7 & 8 but they will also make the move into a new building and add a cafeteria and computer lab. We are excited for all the changes and opportunities that come along with them.

Take a look at what the middle school kids will be working on at the Community School:

What makes me, me?
What is my place in society?

These are the big questions that will guide our learning at the MVCS
middle school for the 2011-2012 school year. We will explore these
questions through an interdisciplinary study of literature, sociology,
and science.

Students will begin the year with an exploration of coming of age
rituals and rites of passage ceremonies in different cultures. They
will have the opportunity to choose which cultures intrigue them and
will apply their learning to creating their own unique rites of
passage. Through this study of human geography and sociology, students
will gain a better understanding of their roles in society. From there
the focus will turn inward, towards comprehending one’s own individual
identity. Students will study a variety of literature and art of their
choice to discover how authors and artists share their life stories.
With that knowledge, students will create their own “pictures” of
themselves, through various forms of writing and artwork. This
exploration will culminate with the production of a video
“self-portrait,” which will include writing, photos, music, artwork,
and on camera presentation.

Students will also address the guiding questions of identity through
scientific inquiry. They will begin by gaining a foundational
understanding of cellular biology. Through microscope work and
research, students will examine the basic building blocks and
processes that form them as human beings. Building on that base, they
will dig into the study of genetics. This will accord them the
scientific perspective of what makes them who they are. To complete
the investigation, students will debate the age-old question of nature
vs. nurture.

No exploration of self would be complete without a look at one’s own
interests or passions. Beyond the core curriculum described above,
MVCS middle school students will have the opportunity to design and
create their own personal learning expedition, based on their own

Skill development through the year will be varied and deep. Students
will not only progress in the traditional skills of reading, writing,
math, inquiry, research, experimentation, art, etc., but will also
have numerous opportunities to gain skills in areas of technology.
These include: keyboarding, media and internet literacy, digital
photography and video, digital presentations (e.g. Powerpoint, iMovie,
etc.), and more.

Becoming a well-educated citizen in the 21st century requires an
ever-expanding skill set. MVCS middle school students will learn to be
creative and critical thinkers who know how to ask deep questions and
how to pursue the answers; they will gain experience accessing and
analyzing information; they will learn to take initiative and gain
competency as independent learners as well as cooperative colleagues
in their educational pursuits. MVCS students will learn to be
adaptable problem solvers, compassionate leaders, and effective

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Variations of Duck Confit

Sorry to keep you hanging from my last post about our good friends new foray into the world of french cooking especially since it was the ever-so-tasty medium of canard. Ahh, I love the flavor of this tasty bird but when it is mixed with onions, mushrooms and topped with grated potatoes it is divine.
And so by now you have probably guessed that the meal turned out spectacularly. I marvel at this friend of mine and her creative culinary abilities. Just before I headed over she called to ask if I had any oranges or even better mandarins for her special carrot recipe. When I found I didn’t have anything in the house, she was not a bit bothered by her lack of ingredients. Instead she improvised easily; who would have thought to use marmalade, lemon juice and spices to achieve a similar flavor? Again delicious! And so the evening went – friends brought together through collaboration of food and cultures, locale and creativity.

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Sunny days in the Alps with the french language

Ok, so I’ve been practicing the french language for a few months now. It hasn’t been a whole hearted try, I must admit, but the want to learn is strong. And while I’m in the flow of admitting things, I might as well get on with it and confess that my effort at practicing is weak too. So, I am sure it comes as no surprise that I still haven’t mastered getting it to flow smoothly off of my tongue . I enjoy listening to those around me speak, and I feel like I understand pretty much everything being said, that is, of course, until their attention turns to me. Visualize the classic movie image of an interrogation room, the light flicks on and the loud humming sound resonates through the room and in my ears. I clam up and realize I can’t remember anything of what was just said. Then as I stare blankly into the light I am trying to replay the conversation in my head. By then someone else pipes up and the conversation moves on while I am still running to catch up.
I love the language, the learning and listening. Next time, I think I’ll need to find a home-stay style trip where I am forced to go beyond the easy questions and answers…”I would like this.” and “Do you have any of that?” type questions. But our trip this time around is a family trip and I’m not sure how many would accommodate a whole family. If I could find one I would be very psyched. So if anyone knows of such an option I’d love to hear about it.
Well, I’m off to a friends house who is trying a new French recipe for duck. She has gotten all the info from another friend who, yes, is French and I’ve been told is a pro when it comes to fixing duck! I’m very happy to be the guinea pig tonight since I love duck, probably because it brings back wonderful memories from childhood. We would enjoy freshly hunted and prepared to perfection duck by my Mom.
Maybe I’d better learn how to do it.

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Galway-St. Patrick’s Day and E.A’s 40th Birthday!

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Clifden-Connemara-Omey areas

Afternoon stroll

After arriving late in the evening to our fantastic spot The Dolphin Beach house B&B with wonderful hosts the Foyle family we enjoyed four cozy nights and amazing weather. The previous day it was cold enough to snow in the Connemara mountains  the 12 Bens/Pins depending on who you talk to. Each day consisted of 70 % sun with rolling clouds and spotty rain showers.


Bog Pony

Cliff walking in Clifden

Snow in the hills above Clifden

Very cheery locals

On the first day we walked into the town proper and missed each shower as we entered the local pub for E.A’s 2nd only Guinness since arriving in Ireland but he made short work of it. When we entered the pub we were enthusiastically given a kind greeting from the local regulars. Once the woman tending the bar heard it was going to be E.A’s birthday on St. Patty’s she offered up a clean Guinness glass for him to take home!

An afternoon walk from Clifden town

Each morning after enjoying a hardy Irish breakfast the kids headed down to the beach to build a fort and in the afternoons when we would return from our days hike and after a casual tea they would be right back at it. I love the beach!

Beach fun-Ethan

Fort making on the bach

Jeff and Alex

One of our days we called it perfectly and enjoyed a full day of sun while we hiked up the Diamond Hill through bogs, scrambling up rocks and summiting the Hill. It doesn’t sound very hard “I’ve just summited Diamond Hill” and well it wasn’t that hard, the older kids actually ran up most of the way. The views were spectacular and we were glad to have hiked it.

The bog way

Pigtails and smiles

Diamond Hill

Papa and Bean

Momma and Bean

Back at our B&B we enjoyed another wonderful afternoon tea, book reading and relaxation. Later in the evening we met up with the rest of our Ireland party. Sims, Stacy and little Petey who arrived by dinner time.



We had been told by our server at the Micro Brewery in Chamonix, better know as the MBC, who is from the Galway area that we should check out a special island that tourists don’t go to. Our B&B hosts helped us with the tide tables and knowing when to go and when to make sure we were on the correct side. The special part about the Omey Island is it is only an Island at high tide. We could drive from the main island on the beach, yes with a rental car, following the sticks in the sand that directed you to Omey island. This we were told is where the locals learn to drive… nothing to hit!

We were advised to park on the main island side just in case our walk took longer and the tide rolled in quickly. Many people have been caught on the unintended side because the tide changed rapidly. So E.A took the opportunity to do doughnuts in the sand, splash through all the saltwater puddles and just really enjoy having a rental car on the beach. We pulled out the soccer ball that travels everywhere with the Lefebvre’s and they played  a little bit.

Omey Island

We all had fun checking out the old cemetery with great headstones and it’s unique glass and stone coverings, being carefully watched by the local cows.

Local Architecture

The local houses on the island were so cozy and inviting but you know it can get blustery cold, windy and barren in the winter.

Curious donkey

This is a great photo not because of the actual photo but because of the story behind it. Alex and I really wanted to make it to the other side of the Island to see what was … no this is not a knock knock joke but yes we were curious. But we also had to consider our timing and not get stranded on the island. Our responsible children turned around long ago in fear we wouldn’t make it back in time and their irresponsible parents would be stuck (I wonder what they would have done if we were split with the tide between us I guess they didn’t think that part through) but back to the story. So Alex and I sat down on the rock wall to take in the view satisfied we’d made it far enough to satiate our curiosity. While sitting there the boys came walking up E.A poised with the camera and smiling broadly. Little did we realize but our new friend was about to introduce himself by coming up from behind and leaning into Alex close enough to brush her ear. All I saw was a very large dark object right next to us the next thing I know I scream, startle Alex who does the same while we both jump up surprising the donkey and E.A continues to click away-priceless!


The Bean

In her element

having fun

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Driving the western coast of Ireland Shannon to Clifden

A trip to the west coast of Ireland would not be complete without a stop at the Cliffs Of Moher. We were pre warned that these once quiet and majestic cliffs have been turned into a full on tourist spot. However, we were also told we must go and so we did. And yes, they are beautiful and amazing but you will have to put on your filtered glasses to ignore the pricey mandatory parking lot, crowds (of people just like ourselves) and souvenir shops where they might even sell those filtered glasses I mentioned.

Moving on we drove up along the coastal route on narrow curvy roads hugging the side when  an on coming vehicle approached. We stopped many times excited like kids in a candy shop, funny, I couldn’t say as excited as our kids in the backseat of a holiday vehicle. We adults were the kids today, stopping to admire the vast difference in landscape from the rugged mountains of the Alps. We found ourselves pulling the car over many times to capture little bits of Ireland for our memories.

The Burren, County Clare, Ireland

Church ruins along the way.

We were lucky to catch the end of the Clare Chase Festival – all of the competitors and their horses take a dip in the bay before heading off to the pub.

Ballyvaghaun, County Clare, Ireland

Take note that even if one stops often, to take in all the beauties Ireland has to offer, add a few extra hours to what google maps says it will take due to the windy narrow country roads.

Rolling in late we finally arrived at our next spot, the Dolphin House B&B. Awaiting us were our good friends and the hosts who kept our dinner hot and fresh while we were driving the bog road in search of their spot, which happened to be in the opposite direction.

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