Monday, March 5, 2018

Just Catching Up


I can't believe it has been nearly a month since I posted.  From this day forward, I am making posting regularly a priority.  Just last night Sarah was looking through the blog's archives and showing everyone pictures from five to eight years ago and we all laughed and were amazed at how everyone has changed.   So not only do I want to share bits of our life with all of you, but I want to preserve our family's growth and milestones.

We have been collecting sap and have, so far, have made nearly 2 quarts.  I also planted lettuce on February 21 and they are growing so well.  I used organic potting soil and planted in salad mix containers that I have been saving this winter.  I have since planted more lettuce and will keep starting more every 2 weeks or so.  I also planted onions and they are coming along well.

These are what we use to collect sap - it may not be pretty - but it was free.

Here is what it looks like in our backyard today.  Those are piles of compost on one of our garden areas.  The snow is nearly gone but we are supposed to get quite a storm this coming Wednesday night into Thursday.

I posted this page as part of my instagram post today and was asked where I found it.
Here is the link.    We fold three pieces of copy paper in half and make little booklets to make our monthly "books".  Randomly throughout the month we add a poem, a drawing, etc...

"March winds and April showers bring
forth May flowers."

And it has been windy here!  There has been all kinds of kite making.  None of the prototypes have been to Abraham's approval, but he keeps trying and researching.  

This afternoon, Abby led Abe and Emmy with some windy tarp play.


How are you getting ready for spring?

Warm wishes,

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Knitting and Reading

Ginny is hosting the Yarn Along again.  She is posting the first Wednesday of each month and I am happy to join in and am looking forward to seeing what others are knitting and reading.

I am knitting Emily a sweater, at her request.  She wanted it pink and purple and I am writing up the pattern as I go.  I already have some revisions for the next one.  The yarn is knit picks Wool of the Andes.

The second photo is of socks for Mike - it is a free pattern from Purl Soho.   I am using Westcountry Tweed Yarn from Blacker Yarns.    These are the first of my #HandmadeHoliday2018.

The last picture is my progress on the Sleepy Kitten from the no. 4 edition of Making.  I made a couple of mistakes already but I am also excited to have learned a new technique - as the legs, tail and arms are knit on - pretty neat.  The kitten is a Valentines Day gift for Emily.  The yarn is a new wool line from Knit Picks called Simply Wool Worsted and is described as an Eco Wool and all the colors are undyed.

Well we are expecting a snow storm today!  It will be nice as there really is very little snow on the ground. 

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

February Already!

While members of our family have been taking turns getting sick since shortly after mid January, that has not stopped the ambitions of spring from bringing bright thoughts about all the hopeful plans ahead.

The light is returning and with it eggs!  The twelve, 2-day old chicks we received last August are now laying.  In addition, our older girls, 15 in total, are picking up their production as well.  We hope to be able to sell 5 dozen per week and still have about 3 dozen for ourselves which would mean that we would be getting our eggs for free.   We have found a wonderful source for our grain.  A local Amish farmer makes his own - he sources all GMO free grains and then grinds them himself into a formula that works well for his 1800 layers!  So we are blessed to be able to buy from him.  With this feed, even in the winter, their yolks are nice and orange.

By the way, all our chickens have names (thanks to Sarah) and they live out their entire natural lives with us, well fed, loved and sheltered.

As far as the handmade holiday 2018 (#handmadeholiday2018) I don't have much progress to show, today, but I am almost done with Mike's first sock.  I have also been working on some other knitting including a sweater for Emily, which after working on several different sizes, am hoping to publish the pattern.

I gave in and bought my first flowers this winter.  When I go food shopping I generally try really hard to walk by the flower section - I love flowers!  I did really well, but it seems that each February, I give in.  I bought that little pot of begonias at the grocery store on Friday and it was worth the tiny investment to add a little beauty to our living room.

January was a really hard month for us financially.  Having a retail online business means that sales fluctuate quite a bit, but this January was slower than previous Januaries.  However, it is a great lesson about being even more conscious of using what we have, making do, and also formulating a plan so that we don't get ourselves in such a situation again next January.  (Like saving money!)  I know I have shared in the past, but while our life may sound idyllic to some, there are extreme give and takes.  However, even when we are on the brink of considering a job or a move, our hearts stay firm in this life and secure in the knowledge that God has always provided, we have always had healthy food, and our children, although I worry we aren't doing enough for them, they will tell you they are very happy right here.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Why Handmade and Current Works in Progress

I just wanted to talk a little about why I even bother to make handmade as much as possible.  Of course, the the most obvious is the personal satisfaction - the creative outlet - the joy.

But what I want to talk about today, is the fact that how we choose to spend every cent can be an act of resistance or an act towards changing our economic systems.   Who we support with our dollars means everything.  So many people think their actions will not matter - but that is crazy thinking.  If we all stopped buying at Amazon, then Jeff Bezos would stop being the richest person in  history, the CIA would stop paying him, he would cease to own the Washington Post, and he would stop buying out smaller companies.  One person should never have so much power.  Ultimately, though, the power is in our hands.  I know this hard but it is so possible.  I think our income may have us very close to the poverty line for a family our size - but we are hardly poor (to me poor means without hope).  It is truly a matter of priorities for most (not all - there are many that are not as healthy as we are, don't have any hope in their lives - for many cheap is truly the only option.   Please don't think I am judging. )

So, when I create from raw materials, I am supporting the maker of those raw materials and the business I purchased them from.  I definitely don't choose to buy those materials from Amazon (although I have, such as paper - and I am committed to not doing so again).    I sometimes buy my yarn from Knitpicks and although, I would much prefer to buy from local stores and small fiber farms, with the amount of knitting I choose to do, I could not afford to do so.  However, when possible, I do often buy yarn from my local yarn store in Belfast.  Her prices are not any higher than most online stores.  This way I support a shop on Main Street, I support an individual that is sharing her passion with others.  In addition, when I attend a fiber festival I enjoy supporting the local vendors depending on what my budget can afford, which is such a treat.   I am also challenging myself to use up textiles that I come across that would have otherwise been trashed, such as when our children out grow their jeans, recycled jars that can be made into holders, and bits of old clothes that can be used to make quilts.

The pictures above are my works in progress.  The first is my first handmade holiday gift.  It is a pair of socks for Mike.  Although he sees me knitting them now, he will for sure have forgotten about them by Christmas.  The pattern is free from Purl Soho and I am using some yarn I had purchased this past December.  My goal is to finish by February 15th or sooner.

The other is a gift for Emmy for Valentines Day.  She was looking over a Rite Aid flyer that came in our mailbox and saw stuffed animals holding candy boxes and thought that would be a wonderful Valentines Gift for herself.  I commented that it would be so much better to have a handmade little animal holding a small box of sweets.  So, a Valentines Day cat is in progress.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and what you are making.

Warm wishes,

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Handmade Holiday 2018

So, has anyone started making lists and started in on their first handmade gift for 2018?  

I dedicated one of the three moleskin notebooks our oldest daughter, Abby, gave me for Christmas to make lists and keep track.  

I am going to be honest, here.  January, February, and March are very hard months for our family financially.  These are our businesses slow times.  I have been very negligent about saving money for the slow times.  This year I am committing myself to not spending anything for just this year unless absolutely necessary.  And, when business gets busy, to save money for these down times.  

So philosophically, of course, I believe wholeheartedly in handmade gifts.  I avoid big box as much as possible.  We enjoyed shopping in nearby downtown Belfast this past Christmas season and supporting local merchants.  But, ultimately as much handmade that can be made would be best as long as the recipient is going to appreciate it.    So back to being honest.  This past December, as our business was busy, I bought several gifts at Amazon - uggghhh!  Amazon is something I am committed to not using at all this year and instead, to plan ahead and support local small businesses or simply go without.

I also love making - that is another reason for a handmade Christmas.

Finally, I am challenging myself to use the materials and supplies I have on hand for making.  If I really dig and am creative, there should be few items I will need to buy.

And, I am going to share one of my harder goals for this coming year - to not buy any of the beautiful magazines - just for one year.  (I actually do like supporting those small businesses and the inspiration is wonderful.  This is going to be a very hard one for me!)   We need to get our finances in order and I know that I have a stack of back issues that have plenty of use still left in them.  Many projects and ideas I have yet to use.  I also have plenty of crafty books that I can find more than enough ideas.  Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the overwhelming amount of ideas on Instagram or Pinterest.  

I look forward to your sharing.  Let's use #handmadeholiday2018 if you like to share that way.

Warm wishes,

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Handmade Christmas for 2018

So I got very few handmade gifts done this past Christmas and I am determined to do better this coming year.

The first step is for me to make a list of the people I want to make something for... and then write next to their names something that they could use or would like - that something, being something either Mike or myself could make.

The next step is to pick one person/project on the list and come up with a plan for that project.  For example, if it is a knitted item then I would need to search for a pattern and make a materials list, buy the materials if I don't already have them (although I would really love to use up my stash), and set myself a time frame to get that one project finished.  

Would you like to join me?  I am going to use one of the moleskin notebooks Abby gifted me for Christmas, and devote it to Christmas 2018 and start in on the first step.  I hope to begin on the first gift by this coming Monday.

Warm wishes,

Monday, April 10, 2017

Baby Goats and the War Machine

We weren't planning on baby goats this spring as Mike made a separate fenced in area and shelter for our buck and we moved him over the very end of October or the beginning of November.  But, this must have happened right before.  God must have known I needed baby goats this spring - they are just the sweetest.  Yesterday we let them and their mom free range around the yard.

On a separate, not so sweet note, is this ridiculous war in Syria and it seems as though the administration is about to expand our involvement.

Please do not believe the main stream media without checking out facts for yourself.  Don't even believe your politicians and intelligence agencies without seeing physical proof.

Please read through these articles and if you agree, contact your representatives and senators and demand that the United States stop arming the so-called rebels, stop escalating our involvement in Syria, let Assad stay in power for now, and get back to the negotiating table.  There is no proof that Assad was behind the chemical attacks.  Why would he have?  He was about to get everything he wanted - The Trump administration had just said the US wouldn't advocate for his removal, Syria and Russia and perhaps the US to some degree as well, were making huge gains in pushing ISIS out, and they were about to resume peace/negotiation talks.  

Really dig into the origins of the Syria war.  It was probably not an uprising from within.  The likes of the United States, with our so-called allies, Saudi Arabia (does that make any sense???), Turkey and Qatar supported the uprising that eventually over the years attracted members of Al-Qaeda and other radical organizations.  Our country, because it is controlled by the wealthiest few, loves war to fund all the corporations and  loves the prospect of putting a pipeline through Syria.

Do you know that Syria was a secular country where women had equal rights (rare for a middle eastern country), people could practice their chosen religion in peace, education was free, and there was a good free health care system.  Of course, you couldn't challenge Assad politically, but I don't believe that is reason enough for us to challenge him.  Think of how many other countries commit horrific evils to their people, yet we do nothing, for example Saudi Arabia.  I am not advocating that we should do anything, but I am just arguing that there is no justification for regime change in Syria.

Please just remember that our government told us that the Iraq war was justified, that there was proof of weapons of mass destruction.  They lied to the American people.

Here are links to some good articles:

Sorry for the heaviness but I feel that it is so important.

Warm wishes,