Saturday, June 30, 2012

Maple Branch Blocks and a Giveaway

Our family has added a new product to our shop - bark free maple branch blocks. 

Right about this time of the year in northern Vermont - mid June to the beginning of July - the bark just peels off.  So our family spent an evening outside in the shade peeling.

Mike then cuts the pieces and then we hand sand each piece lightly and the rub each with a light layer of our homemade beeswax finish.
Safe for teething babies!

We are offering one of our sets today in a giveaway.  Just leave a comment and you will be entered.  The winner will be chosen Monday morning 7:00 am est.

Using a random number generator, the eighth entry wins!  Ginger, please email me at so I can get the set off to you.
Thanks so much.

Thanks and warm wishes,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Just Loving

that I am able to be outside today doing this after a few days of rain

watching this little girl enjoy playing among the clover

the excitement in Abraham's voice when he spotted the first flower among the nasturtiums

 day lilies with a thrifted vintage table runner

the children eating peas off the vine

So many blessings.  What are you loving today?

Warm wishes,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Knit Hats and Finally a Sock!

After a super hot week last week, I had to put a wool vest on Emmy yesterday morning.
The cool and wet weather found us starting a fire in the wood stove - with the clothes dryer beside it and beans cooking on top of it.

Perfect weather for knitting!  (although, almost anytime is a good time to knit, right?)
I finished the bonnet in super soft baby alpaca using the largest size pattern from Vintage Knits for Modern Babies.  It is a good fit for an autumn cap for Emmy.

This hat also came off the needles - a simple knit 2, purl 2 rib for the first few inches, cast on of 80 stitches on size 8 needles using a beautiful soft merino yarn.  It fits a woman's head snugly and makes a nice fit for a youth.

Finally, a sock is working out for me - on four double pointed needles, using this pattern.

As for reading, I finished Greenhorns last night and am looking for another good read.  But, also it is time for me to plan out the next home learning year.  Any good suggestions for web sites, catalogs, etc using mostly a Charlotte Mason approach?

So happy to be joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along again this week.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Low Sugar Treat

I have been on my new eating regimine of no/low sugar and no whites - white flour, white pasta, white rice - for about two weeks now and I do feel much better.  Honestly, my mood seems to stay more consistent throughout the day.  My energy level is higher even when not getting enough sleep because of a certain night nursing girl lately.

I realized that I was consuming far too much sugar and white flours - often having a bit of dessert after each meal - either a cookie or a piece of cake - all homemade but all having sugar.
I have had a baby size icecream once.  But other than that I have used this or a variation of, to satisfy my sweet tooth just a bit.

1/2 cup cocunut oil, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup whole what flour or millet flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or almonds (chopped in a food processor)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all.  Press into the bottom of a buttered glass pie plate.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Take out of the oven and add a light layer of jam.  Continue baking for about 20 more minutes.

Not using plastic wrap, I just keep it covered with a pretty linen.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Simple Meal

In my quest to feed my family a more plant based diet, I have been experimenting with various sauces to make our whole grains more interesting.  Taking the 30 Day Vegan course most certainly helped to inspire.

The other night I made a garlic kale stir fry.  
First, I sauteed about 7 - 8 heads of finely chopped garlic in 1 T. sesame oil (a low heat setting).

Then, I added - 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/8 cup organic tamari, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  Combine all over a low heat setting.  
When the brown rice or other grain is ready to serve, add the chopped kale over the top of the sauce, put on a cover and let cook slightly for 1 minute - serve over the rice.

Right now we have lots of kale in our garden but you could certainly substitute whatever green you have on hand.  I also like to add a few cashews to my own serving.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Beautiful Cycle

I love the cycle of weeding buckets full, feeding the weeds to the chickens - composting their poop when cleaning the coop - gathering the compost two years later - full of beautiful worms (I love turning the compost over and seeing all the worms squirming around!) - returning the compost to the gardens - harvesting vegetables to feed our family (and of course more weeds to nourish the chickens!)....

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Making it Work

Mike can be pretty clever sometimes, coming up with solutions to fix things around the homestead.
This is my hoe - the handle had broken about half way down.  Mike cut it off straight and then cut a notch out of one side.  He then took a freshly peeled piece of maple and did a similar notch on the end and then used screws to hold it together.

This is my potato fork - it has had a branch handle for two years now.  The handle goes all the way down to the metal base.

I enjoy working with them and feeling the branch in my hands as I work in the soil.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Knitting and Reading

My two knitting projects this week are both hats - one is a simple cuffed hat with a 2 x 2 rib, then stockinette stitch hat - knit on size 8 needles with a beautiful merino yarn.  I cast on 80 stitches.

The other project is another Modern Baby Bonnet from Vintage Knits for Modern Babies - my favorite baby cap pattern.  The yarn I am using is Baby Alpaca from Lion Brand. Oh - it is so soft - just a joy to work with. 

I have been reading and studying about caring for my teeth.  Over the past several years I have suffered from many tooth aches and subsequent tooth pullings and fillings, etc...   Not sure if it has something to do with seven pregnancies and 14 plus years of breastfeeding, but it may.   As we can't afford extensive dental care, I have just taken it one day at a time with lots of praying.  But, it is now time for me to make some dietary changes I should have made long ago.  I have eliminated all refined sugars (white, brown,etc.) and white flours, white rice, pasta, etc..  from my diet.   I am using much I have learned from Heather's course, The 30 Day Vegan as well as reading as much as I can.  Nourishing Traditions is one source that I am using extensively.  I don't consume meat products to the extent that is recommended in Nourishing Traditions, but it is full of so many great recipes and information.  This is going to mean often cooking and baking separate things for myself because the rest of my family is not ready to give up their desserts - although, I will work towards gradually decreasing the refined ingredients in their baked goods as well.

Looking forward to all of the sharing today at Ginny's Yarn Along.

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Outside

Our pond overflows to this little concrete area and Abraham and Sarah decided to see if they could make a little pool area.

We gathered sod clumps to try and keep the water from flowing out.

Sarah still wearing her pearls with her bathing suit.

Abraham having a snack on the porch - he often wears two or three baseball caps at once.  When I ask him why, he replies, "To keep the the sun off of me better."

A shelter to provide a bit of shade and pretend play.

What is going on in your yard?

Warm wishes,

Monday, June 18, 2012


Abby, our oldest daughter, turned 12 on Saturday.  She made herself a sun cake.  This is going to be a special time in the coming years to watch her blossom into a young lady.    She is an amazing help to our family - from her baking to making up games to play with the younger children.

Here she is at her ballet recital last month - oh my!

Yesterday, on Father's Day, we met for a kickball game with two other families.  It was fun to watch the fathers get quite serious about it all...

...just about as serious as the children get about their ice cream.

I made this embroidery into a throw pillow for Mike for Father's Day.

Wishing you a beautiful start to the week,

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mother's Love

Yesterday afternoon I was giving Emmy kisses and telling her she was the cutest thing in the world.  

Thomas (our eighteen year old son) was nearby and asked, "Mom, don't you ever get tired of this - I mean this is the seventh time."

"No, never!  How could I?  Each child is such a gift, not to mention that my love is just as intense for her as it was for you (my first),"  I replied.

"See, you're not a terrible Mom like you say you are sometimes." answers Thomas.

"Oh, yes I am a very terrible Mom - sometimes.   But, it is true instead of having a finite amount of love, my ability to love just grows more with each child.   Instead of having just a certain amount of love to give, it just grows with each new baby"   I replied.  "You know, in a way, that is kind of like God's love - no matter how many people in the world - God loves each one just as deeply."

Thomas' reply - "That is just like how God loves Mom - Our love for one another is the same as God's love for us because it is enabled by His spririt."

What a blessing - these children of mine - stretching me and teaching me and giving me the awesome privilege of a mother's love.

Warm wishes,

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Outside and In

Outside ~

I cut wild raspberry branches for the goats

which they love.

Isaac found a neglected strawberry patch

dug up individual plants and potted them in various "pots" - there are actually quite a few strawberries ripening.  We hope to make a dedicated area on our homestead for a strawberry patch in the future.


I have been working on some new products for our shop - hand stamped love bird branch tags

and I made this custom order for a bride's wedding party.

Life is so full right now, as it should be.  Long days full of light and warmth, the garden growing far too many weeds but also beautiful vegetables, children excited for upcoming camps (theater, old fashioned overnight camp, and a boat making camp), and planning a big graduation party and a family camping getaway.  Some of the children will be participants but the older ones will be directors and counselors.  Our house will be in constant change with some coming and others going.  

Warm wishes,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Knitting and Reading Today

Joining in with Ginny and so many others at her knit along through her blog, Small Things....

I finished up the Plain Vest that I shared last week, and dabbled with some crocheting throughout the week and am now trying to decide on some new knitting projects.  I knit one bootie from the book, Simple Knits for Cherished Babies, but don't like having to pick up stitches on the front sides.

What is your favorite baby bootie pattern?

I am also casting on for another Colin's Vest using this really pretty soft wool that came in a barter from a blog reader.

I am still reading Greenhorns and am really enjoying the essays.

Looking forward to reading about what book you are enjoying and if you have any knitting projects in the works.

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Painting Around the Homestead

Mike made an outdoor table for us from an old door and branch legs.  Sarah spent much of a day painting the top.

Abby painted the chicken coop.

And I just came across this - this morning!

We are enjoying the summer weather and the added freedom summer brings to add a bit more creativity to our days.

What creative things are children up to?
Warm wishes,

Monday, June 11, 2012

Crocheting a Netbook Sleeve

On our car ride to and from Massachusetts, I crocheted two laptop sleeves.
Using a smallish crochet hook for the worsted weight yarn left a nice tight stitch which makes a nice padding.

With Peace Fleece worsted weight wool and a size G hook, I chained 29 stitches and then turned and single crocheted across 28 stitches.

To fit my little netbook, I crocheted until the piece measured 21".  Then, using a contrasting color crocheted the sides together, across the bottom, up the other side and then around the top (leaving open) and adding a chain for the loop for the button.
We used a large hemlock button from a branch on our homestead.

I did up two - so I put one for sale in our etsy shop.

Warm wishes,

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wedding Trip

Mike, Emmy, and I made a quick trip down to the north shore of Massachusetts for a special wedding on Friday evening.  The wedding took place outside just as the rumbles of thunder passed and then a rainbow appeared over the ocean.  The song that played as the procession began was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".  How neat is that?

Emmy and I spent about eight hours next to one another in the back of a Ford Focus we rented to get us to the wedding.  

which gave me plenty of time for this.

We are so blessed to have children that worked together while we were gone.  They all stayed safe, kept the house picked up, the animals cared for, and everybody fed.

Wishing you a beautiful Sunday,