Sunday, July 8, 2018

Daily Blog - Beautiful Weekend


Sweet morning hellos from my beloved Madeline.  



Our oldest is home for the weekend before returning to camp this afternoon.  These are our two oldest daughters preparing their breakfast.   



Gathering two "real" heads of lettuce.  We are so inspired to begin the work of establishing our farm in Vermont to provide nutritious food for our community and our family.


Wishing you a beautiful day!
Warmly,
Tonya

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Daily Blog - Farm Food, Flowers, Camp

Farm Food:


Every morning before the sun gets too hot, I go to the gardens to pick what will be needed for the day.  Everyday since the first week of June there has been lettuce.  Yesterday I harvested some baby carrots, and another handful of garlic scapes to go with our lunch to go with our dinner.


Our lunch of spaghetti topped with garlic scapes and onions, a fried egg and lettuce.

Flowers:


A fresh bouquet for our table - cosmos, bachelor buttons, black eyed susans and tansy.

Camp:


We were supposed to go see our oldest daughter's staff dedication last night after she finished her week of training at a nearby summer camp, followed by icecream and fireworks.  Abe and Emily were so excited.  But, when we went to start our van, it was obvious very quickly that the alternator was going.  I am thankful for a neighbor/friend that lent us their car so Mike could go pick Abby up and our pastor is here early already this morning to take Mike to get the part.  I am so thankful we didn't break down at 10:00 pm on the side of the road on our way back home if we had gone last night.  The children's disappoint has mostly passed and today we are thankful for all of God's provisions.  After we sell our house, we are going to take a bit of the money and buy a second used car, probably a subaru outback or forester because our one car is nearly at 200,000 miles. 

Wishing you a beautiful day!

Warmly,
Tonya










Friday, July 6, 2018

Daily Blog - Flowers, Elephants, and Heat


Flowers:


Morning gathering - some to dry and some for us.  As we pack up the house for our move back to Vermont, freshly cut flowers will be the one touch of beauty we can still add inside.  These are bachelor buttons.  I planted them by seed in many of our gardens at the beginning and middle of May.


Handwork:



Sharing some hand sewn elephants today.   They are made using wool felt for the body and then a bit of special fabric for the inner ears. In addition, I embroidered little hearts to either side of their back end and added a braided wool yarn tail.

If you would like to make one here is a link to the pattern.


Heat:

Yesterday the humidity returned in full force so after Mike did his workshop work, I did the wood burning and packaging, we headed out to the lake.  We are blessed to have Lake St. George State Park about a 12 minute drive away.


Warm wishes,
Tonya





Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Free Baby Doll Cardigan Knitting Pattern




I just wanted to share here that I have started a new design label and am designing simple knit patterns that are simple, functional and timeless.

The baby doll cardigan is a free pattern!


Thanks so much and warm wishes,
Tonya

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Wouldn't Change Anything



So as I have written here before, we struggle financially sometimes because we don't know how much or when our next order will happen.  We have faith that God will always provide, though, and we have always had healthy food and kept mostly up with our bills.  But as I have written we are not able to do many things we want to do - all the lessons for the children, all the art supplies, etc... but the hardest part for me when finances are tight, is that we are not able to visit my mom and dad and older two sons as often as I would want.  That is the trade off.  That is the hard part.   But that is the choice we have made and I know that God has provided for us on numerous times to travel.  And we were even able to have a large family weekend get together here on our farmstead at the end of last summer.

What made me really sad recently and why all of this has been on my mind the last couple of weeks is because we weren't able to meet with my mom, step-father, and my sister and her family in southern Maine a few Saturdays ago for my mother's 70th birthday, because of the weather.  I was over taken with the idea that, well, why don't we just go down to her place and spend the night in Connecticut and then my sister was going to have a little celebration for her at my sister's home near Boston.  Well, although I knew we were struggling financially, the orders had picked up the previous two days, so I told my Mom on Sunday that we would make the trip on Friday.  Well the next two days there were no orders at all and we just had enough money to buy food, which I am thankful for.  Mind you, we don't have any savings.  I had to let my mom know we wouldn't be down and that was so hard.  (You see, we also have just one old car that could use some repairs so we don't want to risk something happening and not be able to afford to fix it.)  That decision made me so sad. 

Over the last two weeks our business has picked up and for that I am grateful.  But over these last two weeks I have been thinking so much about how our family lives.  We obviously don't fit into the cultural norm and we don't have a regular paycheck and now that Mike and I have been out of the workforce for so long, we are hardly employable except at a starting wage which is about 10.00 around here.  And, overall our business pays us more than 10.00 an hour.  We earn about $43,000 or so a year.

So I have been thinking about the trade offs that we have made - one being not always being able to say yes to travel - but on the flip side there have been many times when we have been able to say yes.  We don't often buy new things, we don't have any kind of financial security (but who really does anyway, right?), we have to stay home much more often than I would truthfully like to.  There might be a festival going on 30 minutes away - but the travel, the food, etc.. - it often doesn't work out for us financially.

Now the good stuff - we are together as a family.  Our children all tell us they are really happy.  I am really happy when I am not worrying so much.  Just the last couple of days Emily and Abraham have been using branch scraps to develop new products for us to sell in our shop.  Emily has even been putting the branches out on the metal that Mike uses to dry the wood and then carting them around in boxes like he does.  So sweet.  Abraham has his creative pursuits with his Legos and amazes me.  He asked me today if we could save $2.00 a day for him so we can get him a Lego Robotics Set - the big one.  He also is asking to work for us daily and so he can save money for it as well.  Sarah loves her chickens and her instagram community and has friends from a homeschool group.  Abby has her camp community where she helps out during school vacation camps and spends the summer there as a counselor.  Isaac is 19 now and says he is very happy.  He helps with our business and with homestead work and then spends the balance of his time doing computer related things such as music composition, video editing and gaming. 

We have a beautiful place to call home (although it is on the market as we hope to return to Vermont, but that is all in God's timing.  More on that in another post.).  We are expanding to market gardening.  We are developing some friendships with some other families, although this has been slower than I had hoped.  There is so much good.

Living this simple, but not easy lifestyle is amazing in so many ways and I am a million times over thankful for all of the fruits it has produced and the daily beauty I get to experience.     Sarah just brought me a bouquet of daffodils that she found in our field, on the edge of the woods.  A sweet surprise.

All we have is this one life to live and I guess I am one of those people that wasn't willing to wait ... to wait until we had enough saved.... to wait until all our bills were paid off... to wait until the kids grew up .... to wait until we retired.....  I want to squeeze as much as I can out of this one life and to inspire others to do the same.

Warm wishes,
Tonya

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Intentional Living









As many of you know that have read this blog for years,  we have made our living through selling products made primarily of tree branches and just a wee bit from my hand knitting.  We don't have to earn as much money by making some of our food from scratch, growing a garden, staying home a lot, rarely buying anything new, etc...  We do many of these things, however, not just for financial reasons.  We eat mostly organic and make our food from scratch because it is good for our bodies and good for the earth.  We avoid buying new unless necessary because it is good for the environment.   We stay home a lot so we have time to cook and bake and grow and make.  Less driving is also good for the environment.  We do our best to live by our principles and of course, sometimes we utterly fail.

So as our etsy businesses decline - because you know - you can order many of our woodland wedding decor items on amazon for nearly 1/2 the price and with prime you get free shipping!  And how wonderful to receive your special items for your wedding or home all the way from the beautiful country of China.

Sorry for my sarcasm, but it is true.  We have let Amazon take over our spending habits and in the process created a monster (the owner is the richest person in America, has a $600 M contract with the CIA, owns the Washington Post), put thousands of small and larger businesses out of business, put thousands of people out of jobs, etc.   The thing is, is it all worth it?  And why oh why do small businesses including homesteading types, become Amazon affiliates?  I don't get it.  There must be a way to hook up with independent businesses to work out some sort of similar financial benefit.  I would even wager to guess you might make out better.  I guess what I am saying is - if you care about your health, our earth, the thriving of small local businesses, please put your money where your heart is... line up your principles with your spending habits.

So my challenge for you today isn't to order something from a local small business or online family business or something from our business - my challenge is for you to really consider the impact of every dime you spend.  Remember, as I have written before, how we spend our money is the most powerful form of activism.  And I also bet that if you take the time to consider your purchase or make the item you need yourself - you will find a deeper connection to either the shop owner or community that you shop at.  Or, if you make the item yourself, the immense satisfaction over your accomplishment.

Warm wishes,
Tonya

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Full Day of Work Even With the Snow and Mud and Inspiration from the March for Our Lives












What a wonderful work day we had yesterday.  Despite the snow cover and the mud, we were able to get so much accomplished.  I am so thankful for our health and the ability to use our bodies to work.

*The goat stalls cleaned out

*More sap collected and over 20 gallons boiled down.  We made about 1/2 gallon of syrup yesterday.

*Some window trim replaced and some painted (that was directly in the sun.)

*Hay picked up from a nearby barn where Mike and Isaac had to use a sled to bring the bales from the barn to the car but we are thankful for a nearby source of hay

*Because of all of the snow I am not sure when I will get the lettuce seedlings starts planted so I separated some to see if that will help them to continue to grow while inside

*Oh, and I spotted a little woolly caterpillar - spring must be coming soon.


On another note, I haven't been going on twitter or facebook lately so I wasn't aware of the scope of the March for Our Lives.  At lunch as Mike and I were checking on things online, we noticed that there was live coverage of the DC march and we watched some of the young people speak as we ate.  Later that evening, we watched a few more. 

So many sad stories - so much needless violence and death.  What I found so encouraging and hopeful was how the men in the video I link to below, were sent to Parkland shortly after the shooting to help them cope with the aftermath of gun violence - it opened the Parkland students' eyes to the fact that so many young people in the cities of our country, are living with this same trauma every day of their lives.  And the Parkland students realized their privilege of being heard and being able to utilize financial resources to make themselves heard,  and they realized that so many others do not have this privilege.  Together, young people from all walks of life, from all different backgrounds, are coming together.  Such brave and heroic people with the bottom line being that we do have the power to make change.  It is called voting and being in contact with your elected officials.  It is called standing together such as so many did yesterday.  Our country has an amazing foundation - the constitution  - which makes change possible.  I want to share the video of two young men that we found particularly moving - especially the second speaker in this video

Warm wishes,
Tonya