Thursday, May 31, 2012

Around Here

We have been observing and learning about snails.

Abby dressed Emmy up in silks.  

Pots and pans make the best toys, don't they?

***An update on Coral, our neighbor, last I heard, she is in stable condition.  From speaking with her partner, it sounds as if she broke her back, legs and ankles and has a long recovery in front of her.  Thank you so much for the prayers.  I look forward to letting her know that many were praying and thinking about her. ***

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Knitting and Reading and Giving Away a Vest

The Plain Vest came out so sweet and I just love this pattern!  But, it is a bit small for Emmy, so I would like to offer it in a give away here.  Please just leave a note if you would like to be entered.  It is made of an unknown yarn I had in my stash - I don't think it is wool - and it will fit sizes 0 - 6 months.

I have cast on for two more of the Plain Vests - one with size 8 needles using a lighter worsted weight yarn (Patons Merino) and cast on 90 stitches and the other is the Lena's Meadow from Peace Fleece on size 10 needles, with 90 stitches cast on as well.

I soon stopped reading the fiction book I shared last week as I was not enjoying it and began, Mrs. Mike, the story of a Boston girl who married a rugged Canadian Mountie.  It is a light entertaining read that I will be sure to finish.

I have also started reading Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories.  These are so fun to read out loud.  I am not sure why it took me so long to get to these.  The use of vocabulary is excellent and the writing entertaining.

Looking forward to joining in today with Ginny and all the other knitters and readers.

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Our little daily visitor, we have named her Carlotta.  We think she is the same duck from the previous two years as she is quite tame and makes her rounds by the barn and chicken coops looking for stray feed.

The growing gardens and being able to walk out and pick what I need as I am preparing dinner.

Emmy is playing with the sunflower seed packets as I plant them.  We are planting about 140 or so seeds with the hopes of saving the flower heads to give 2 - 3 to the chickens each week through the winter.  
With Emmy and our busy family, I just make it a goal to get about 40 - 60 minutes or so each day in the gardens.  Sometimes I can dig a bit (I am trying to remove all the weed roots this year as I plant as last year I felt very sick because of the pregnancy - so it is a slow process but will be worthwhile in the long run.)  Another time during the day I am happy to be able to get out for just 20 minutes to do some planting and then maybe another time I can hold Emmy while weeding for another 10 minutes.  It really is amazing what can be done just by getting out there everyday to make even a little progress.

Having to stay close by this little one, I have been getting in more sitting time than I am used to - so I have been at least keeping my hands busy with knitting.

Madeline and Sparky.


If you would be so kind to please keep our next door neighbors (the only house we can see through the trees and brush) - Coral and Mike and their families - in your prayers.  Coral was in a terrible car accident Sunday night and is in critical condition at Dartmouth Hitchcock hospital.  Coral is just 29 years old with a three month old baby girl.  

Warm wishes,

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Crown of Reeds

Just sharing one sweet photo today.  Abby made this crown for Emmy.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I am afraid this picture may seem very old fashioned in the future - how soon I don't know.  Perhaps it has already become rare in many homes - reading books, books with paper pages.

I know there are many benefits to the kindles and yes, if one is reading a book on a kindle or other screen, isn't that really the same?
It isn't so much reading a book on a screen that bothers me, it is how screens seem to be so pervasive in the lives of children and especially young children in our country.

Yesterday I was listening to NPR's program, On Point.  The discussion was about children playing games on their parents phones, ipads, blackberries.   I love the term the guest on the program used for these - "shut-up boxes".  Now we are not allowed to say shut-up in our home, but what a most perfect name.  Shouldn't children learn to sit quietly at times?  Be bored?  Play outside more?   Dare I say, read a book??

We have no idea what the long term effects are going to be on today's children.  There is very little research being done, but one study did suggest that short term memory loss in children is one problem.   But using common sense, it would seem likely that children's creativity, attention spans, and social skills will all suffer.

It just seems so odd to me how children are allowed to keep their own screens in their own rooms or in their own pockets at such young ages when they really don't have the maturity yet to know what is best for them - to make the best choices about how to spend their time.   Have some parents become so self-centered that they prefer to give their children shut-up boxes instead of the gift of  their time?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sharing Knitting and Reading

We borrowed season 2 of Downton Abbey from the library and have been watching it the last couple of evenings, which has allowed for more knitting.  I finished the vest that I shared last week here - with worsted weight Peace Fleece on size 8 needles it came out to be about a size 4.
I have cast on to knit the Plain Vest after being inspired by Heather.  This yarn was in my stash and I am not sure what it is.  I am hopeful the sizing will come out well to fit Emmy.

Radical is my morning coffee read and is challenging me in many ways.  The author brings up the point about how easily we can fall into doing the easy thing like giving money (sometimes this is the right thing of course),  rather than standing in the trenches, for example.

I just picked up a light Christian fiction read - Abide with Me  - at the library yesterday.  So far an easy read that has drawn me right in - perfect for bedside reading.

Looking forward to all of the sharing today at Ginny's blog - Small Things.

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In Progress

So much of healthy eating does truly cost more - let's face it - store bought organic anything versus conventional is much more.  I consider our family's health to be priceless - that is feeding them as healthy food choices as possible within what we can afford (although I am not sure that we really can afford what we spend on food - I mean we really don't have any savings and really do need to have an emergency fund,etc, etc...) - but what we put in our bodies is so important.

So, I walk this tight rope of nourishing our bodies while attempting to maintain some sort of a budget.

In addition, our older children were not brought up on all whole foods as our family has been gradually progressing toward a much better way of eating over the past seven years.  As a result, we have some fussy eaters that prefer white starch to whole grains and vegetables.  This is another challenge and one that I have had to compromise on.

So last night we had the fried rice recipe from the 30 day vegan workshop - it was excellent.  Using toasted sesame oil was new for us, otherwise it was very simple to prepare.  I made plain rice for those picky eaters in the family.  I also served an organic spinach salad from a local farm.  Our lettuce isn't quite ready for picking yet.  I added feta and served with a garlic balsamic vinegar dressing.

That is where we are at right now and I look forward to using this blog to share as I learn and put new ideas into practice.

warm wishes,

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summery Weekend

Thank you so much for all of the sharing about food - I will continue to write more tomorrow on that topic.

Today I just want to share bits of our weekend.  Here in northern Vermont the weather was beautiful - summer like - so many wonderful moments.

sarah made friends with an injured swallowtail and has been keeping it close over the weekend

Mike, Emmy, and I went out saturday morning to stop at yard sales and do the food shopping for the week.  It was nice to be out together for the morning.  We found some treasures, but no little girl clothes like I was hoping.  Last night I thought I would attempt to sew Emmy a simple peasant top but became completely frustrated after just cutting out a pattern - sewing is just not something I am very good at.

Thomas, Isaac and Abby decided that the risk of getting leached was worth the enjoyment cooling off.  They would jump off the surf board and then quickly jump back on.  That surf board was left behind when we bought this home and now I am amazed at all the many uses the children have found for it.

After dinner saturday night we had our first campfire of the year.

with smores, off course

knitting by the fire - I seem to be getting more knitting done lately than gardening with little Emmy so mobile and having to keep her out of the sun while not being content to watch me work in the stroller for more than 10 minutes at a time or so.  So I am learning more about patience - just setting a goal of getting one vegetable or flower planted each day and asking the other children to help with Emmy as well.  The gardens are getting there but not at my  ideal pace - but that is what it is right now.

We have our campfire across the pond.  This is the view of our home from there at dusk.

How was your weekend?

warm wishes,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Healthy Thoughtful Food

I have signed up and am joining in with the 30 Day Vegan Workshop that Heather from the blog, Beauty that Moves is leading.

Over the past seven years our family has worked toward eating healthier food. This started out as baking our own bread, cooking more from scratch,keeping chickens, choosing organic versus nonorganic when possible, growing/raising some of our own food, and buying local and in season foods when possible.  One area that I can see we need to improve upon as a family is eating a more varied diet by preparing more interesting plant based foods.

We are not vegan, but are more than willing to add more vegan meals to our weekly menu.
I think that this course will be a boost for my enthusiasm in the kitchen and I also hope to learn more about nutrition.  With seven children and turning 43 years old this summer, breastfeeding off and on (more on than off!) for the past 18 years, I  know that I could surely improve upon my diet.
I would love to hear from others with large families (we have three boys ages 18, 16, 14, girls ages 12 and 8, and then two little ones - age 4 and 8 months) about how they prepare nutritious, in-season, healthy meals for their families and stay within a reasonable budget.

I was trying to stay within a $800 food budget beginning May 1st, but have completely failed. 
Maybe we could travel this journey together, looking at how it is possible to feed a large family, by growing/raising some of your own food, supporting local producers when possible and buying as much in season and organic while staying on a reasonable budget.
While I am not able to share the recipes from the course, I will be sharing what I learn, how I plan to apply what I learn to our family - food choice truly is an individual journey.

Warm wishes,

Friday, May 18, 2012

Emmy and the Dandelion

These sweet moments with her are just so precious.

(The winner of the CD is DaffodilAngel - I will be mailing it to you right away - thanks so much!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Yarn Along, Reading and CD Giveaway

Happy to be sharing with Ginny and all the others  joining in with this week's yarn along.
I have started knitting another vest using this sooo simple pattern with this beautiful shade of yarn from Peace Fleece - Lena's Meadow - gorgeous shades of green with specks of color throughout.

I have started reading Radical by David Platt.  I have always had stirrings inside that I don't live my life radically for Jesus and that there is so much more expected of me.  In Radical, the author challenges the readers to begin a journey of authentic discipleship - I mean would we really give up everything to follow him?  And what would that look like?

I also recently bought this music CD - seeds of praise - and it comes with an extra copy to give away!   It is fun CD for the whole family.  If you would like to be entered to win, just leave a note in your comment.

Looking forward to reading about what you are knitting and the books you are enjoying.
Warm wishes,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Loving Outside

We have been busy with family visiting from afar and enjoyed a very special Mother's Day with breakfast made by my oldest boys, having lunch with my Mom (who lives in Connecticut and I don't get to see very often), and then our watching Abby's ballet recital.  I feel so, so, so very blessed to be the mother of these seven children.

As I walked around outside today I noticed ~

how creative children can get with rope

A new flower box Mike built me for Mother's Day - on the little addition to our humble barn.

Flowers arranged in old sap buckets.

Vegetables growing in rows - kale, onion tops, and radishes.  

Warm wishes,

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More Simple Knitting and Goat Reading

Working on more wash cloths for gift giving and knitting up little gnomes in plant dyed wool yarn from Peace Fleece, and crocheting some more herbal bug spray cozies in preparation for the Farmer's Market.

I borrowed Goat Song by Brad Kessler from the library the other day and am really enjoying it.  The author can be a bit crass, but now that we have had our does for one year, I can relate to much that the author writes and am enjoying learning bits and pieces along the way.

For Sarah (first/second grade),  we are enjoying the simple poems from the book, All the small Poems and Fourteen More by Valerie Worth and illustrated by Natalie Babbitt.
The poems are nice for copywork and the illustrations are done in ink which is my favorite.
Here is one - 


The lawnmower
Grinds its teeth
Over the grass,
Spitting out a thick 
Green spray;

Its head is too full
Of iron and oil 
To know
What it throws

The lawn's whole
Crop of chopped
Green hay.

Joining in this week with Ginny and so many others this Wednesday for the Yarn Along.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Moments from the Week

making music
catching frogs
observing perennials coming up through the soil
daily baking
chick walking
enjoying Emmy

(The sharing of these moments inspired by Jules at A LittleCrafty Nest.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Knitting and Reading

Finished up a doll I made for a neighbor and am now working on some cotton dish cloths and am still waiting inspiration to get started on a bigger project.

I have just started Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler and am looking forward to reading her viewpoints on cooking healthy with economy and simplicity.  Have you read this book?  What did you think?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Deliberate Living

What does it mean to live deliberately? 

To me it means to have the freedom of choice - to choose how to live based on your ideals and beliefs.  It means making decisions that reflect these standards.  

For example, our family chooses not to participate fully in the consumer society and instead we are working towards being producers.  I cannot remember the last time I stepped foot in a walmart, for example.  I did go into AC Moore while visiting my father last February.  

Generally, though, we avoid buying new things - and we do look to local or small businesses first.  It may be a few more dollars to buy a gallon of paint at our small town hardware store, but I am so grateful that it is there when we remember at 4:00 in the afternoon that we are out of chicken grain and it is 30 minutes to a decent size town.  We chose to live in a very rural area in northern Vermont where there are simply less temptations for consumption - no walmart or department stores nearby and many others live much like we do.

We are content to live with less.  By doing so it means that we don't have to put such a large emphasis on earning money.  Yes, we have seven children to support and we do have to be realistic, but one of our goals is to learn to do more on our own or to barter so that money isn't our main focus.    This choice allows us the flexibility to spend more time with one another or to serve others - like spending an afternoon together cleaning our church.  

Renee, from the blog, FIMBY, reminded me recently "to not take for granted yesterday's plans and dreams that become routine."  As our family is at the stage of moving forward toward creating new dreams, I need to push aside times of discontent and remember that we are living our first dream - of working, learning and loving together on a little homestead down a country dirt road.