Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Knitting and Reading

I am working on another Plain Vest for Emmy in beautiful shades of pinks and another bonnet from Vintage Knits for Modern Babies in a thicker wool than her alpaca bonnet to keep her warm as the temperatures begin to drop.

I would love to dress her in one of these vests with a long sleeve tshirt and leggings nearly everyday this winter.

I haven't started a new book yet, but am instead attempting to reduce clutter by going through the books we have and the magazine piles.   I am sure there are many more ideas than I could ever get to in one lifetime.  

Joining in with Ginny and all the others today and looking forward to hearing about what you are reading and knitting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hand Sewing

I was asked to come up with a handwork project for our homeschool's craft meeting this Friday and I think I will bring the patterns and supplies to make a simple bird ornament.  I started to play around with some ideas today.

 I love that even Abraham,at 4 1/2 years old, was excited to make one and was able to just about finish in one sitting.

Speaking of sewing, I just wanted to share this beautiful trivet that my friend, Renee, sewed from vintage feed sacks.  It graces our dining table.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Living With Less - Technology

This is a picture of my small netbook with three of my children's laptops (ages almost 16, 14, and 12), at our once or twice a week visit to the small library in town.  We go down to the basement and have a table to spread out on in order to access the high speed internet.
Our oldest son, now 18 at college, bought his first laptop at age 15, our next son bought his at 14.  Then our daughter saved up and bought hers this past summer at age 12 (she if very responsible and not drawn to the screen like her brothers), and finally Isaac just went to work for my father in Massachusetts and saved up to buy his own laptop at the age of 14.

At our home we do not have broadband available yet as we live on a gravel road four miles from the main paved road in a town of about 600 people.  Vermont is promising broadband access for everyone by the end of 2013, we shall see.  I am not a fan of waves running into our house and where we live even satellite internet is not reliable.    Although, our family relies on the internet for our income, I am still not convinced that having high speed will make things more profitable, perhaps it will only be distracting with so many more options.
For example, when we went away earlier this month to a cottage at a Vermont state park, we found that we had a strong wi-fi signal and now had the option to download movies.  If that had not been available, maybe we would have played a card game that night instead.  What I am getting at is that it is easier to stay disciplined with screen time when there are fewer options.

Having only dial-up at home, keeps our life simpler.   Sometimes I think about how nice it would be able to watch a movie on youtube relating to something we are studying for home learning, but then I wonder how much time I might waste searching for one or if it really would add any substance to our lesson.    Without wirless internet in our home, our children cannot go in their respective bedrooms and be "connected" to the outside world while be disconnected to their family.   Nolan, who is almost 17, does go on dial up sometimes in the evening (usually from 9:00 - 10:00 pm when the rest of the house is in bed) to check his facebook, but that is about all.

How about all of that social networking stuff?  Obviously, I blog.  Sometimes I wonder why but then I am always reminded that it is a routine for me to keep a journal of our family.  Loading pictures and typing a brief summary has become part of my days and I don't know if I would order the photos and then keep them organized if I decided not to have the blog.  In addition. I appreciate so many friends that I have made through blogging and the encouragement and sharing.   Our family has chosen a bit of a different path than most and I like to share that there are other options than the mainstream.  Finally, blogging does let me share our family's business.
However, besides blogging here I don't engage in some of the more popular social media - no facebook (I have an account but rarely check it - only if one of our older children tell me to check out a picture of a relative or something similar - and even then I have to ask them how to use it), no twitter, instagram, etc...   I do have a pinterest account, but with dial up internet only check it out when I go to the library.  I do appreciate the ideas that are shared via pinterest.

Our family has only recently bought a trac phone.  It was $10.00 and we only have it in case of emergencies.
I don't know anything about all the I-phones and I-this and I-that products.  We don't have any kind of readers either, nor GPS systems, no gaming devices, nor any kind of television programming.  The children do download some programs such as Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs, music.
We do have Saturday mornings as our designated computer game playing time.  With little children as well as older, we have had to set aside a specific time so that little ones are not tempted to spend too much time screen watching.

Now I can see how having books on a computer or reader would make life simpler and maybe be more environmentally friendly, I just haven't become used to the idea of reading off the computer screen yet, but perhaps someday.  Renee really enjoys how it has simplified their family's paper life.  I do have some concerns about disposing all of the electronic devices as they will surely become "outdated" and break down in a relatively short period of time when a book can last for potentially hundreds of years.

We don't own a printer either.  If I have something to print, I do it at the library.  This saves space for one thing.  But it also saves money I think in the long run.  I feel quite certain that I would print out this or that calling it educational or "for the business" and probably would end up wasting money, time, and not being kind to the environment.  We still hand write all of our mailing labels for our business instead of printing them out.

As far as spending money, my computer is a small netbook that cost about $250.00 which I purchased about 1 1/2 years ago.  My children tell me constantly how theirs are so much better and I really should get a new laptop.  But why?  I keep telling them it is doing its job just fine.

How do you manage technology in your home?  

Warm wishes,

(Stay safe today as hurricane Sandy makes its way through the northeast.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Moments from the Week

a 46th birthday celebration 

Lily and Abraham

All four boys at the dinner table - Thomas came for an overnight stay last weekend.

Right now I am thanking God for each small thing as our life has been full of stress this past week - our business has been very slow for a couple of weeks, our "new" old Suburban has a hole in the gas line and the mechanic can't see it until Wednesday (we are learning contentment at home!), and many of us have a touch of some kind of virus.

During this times it helps to just slow down and be thankful for the pot of soup simmering on the stove, the order of owl pellets that arrived in the mail, and this day that promises near record warmth!

Blessings to you and wishing you a beautiful weekend,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Knitting and Reading

I finished the In Threes little Sweater/Vest. It was really fun
and simple to knit.  I did knit the smallest size, but it came out more like a 6 - 12 month
I think.

I am working on the Little Coffee Bean cardigan with some yarn from 
our local yarn shop in a 25% wool/75% acrylic.  
I made the largest 12 month size and it is coming out true to size.  (So it is just a wee bit too small for Emmy and I have to find another pattern to make a cardigan in 2T or so.)  This is a really nice simple 
top down pattern for an infant.

I don't have a really good bedside book right now, but did bring home some books from the 
library that I am enjoying. 
The new Above Rubies, a Christian ministry for women, arrived and is full of encouragement and stories about how God has worked in the lives of various families.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When You Have to Change Plans

 Well you know the new chicken coop Mike spent quite some time building.  The one attached to our little barn that we would be able to stand up in; the one the chickens would have lots of space in....
Well, a chicken predator has made its appearance.
The first morning Mike found a dead chicken with its neck bitten and quite a bit of blood around, but just one dead and the chicken was still in the coop.  He filled in gaps around the coop that day.  We figured that it might be something fairly good size since generally a weasel, which is quite small, usually goes on a killing spree and we had only one dead.

The next morning, the scenario repeated itself.  The new coop is quite large and now our thinking was that perhaps the killer is a weasel - an unusual weasel, perhaps, one that just has enough energy for one kill per night.
Knowing that weasels can fit through a very small opening, it seemed much too daunting a task to fill every hole over 1 1/2" in diameter.
So, we moved the chickens back to their old coop. We considered that one to be quite tight as we had never had a predator problem. 

Well, the next morning Mike the scenario repeated itself again, this time in the small old coop.
Well, we spent Saturday afternoon filling every crack and hole in that old coop.  We did find a couple of small spaces a weasel might be able to squeeze through.  
Sunday morning we were happy to report that all of the chickens made it through the night.
Mike was a bit disappointed at first about not being able to use the new coop he had built, but I already have new plans for it.
(Has anyone else had a similar chicken predator problem?  We still are not 100% sure what kind of animal it was.)

Warm wishes,

Monday, October 22, 2012

Living with Less - Babies

One of the ways we can live the way we do is by not buying very much (which means not spending very much) - at least in the way of stuff or things.

I am going to start with how little we bought for our newest little one.  The hospital we birthed her, gives every new baby a new car seat - every one - there is no income checking - just every baby gets one.   I then used the previous carriers from our other babies, even our lovingly used Ergo.
This is the first baby that we have a wooden high chair - a $5.00 find at an antique shop that was going out of business.  We found a sweet wooden table and chair set for $3.00 at a yard sale this past summer.   If we can't find something within our budget, we just do without.

We have been blessed by sweet friends with some hand-me-downs and cloth diapers.  I have only purchased two diaper covers from a small home business.  They dry very quickly, have kept her clothes dry and right now we only have two.  We could use another two, but we have been making do by washing the used one out under water and hanging it to dry.

We put the prefolds right in the cover.  Some of them are close to being retired to the rag pile.  I was  blessed to find 12 in nearly new prefolds at a thrift shop a few weeks ago for only $3.00 for all 12.

I can get very distracted and yearn for new things for Emmy when I look through some beautiful toy catalogs like Nova Natural or see some beautiful handmade toys in Etsy shops, for example.  But unless it is really, really necessary, or super special, or something that can become an heirloom, we don't buy new for the littlest in our home.  We have a wooden play kitchen that we purchased 10 years ago and it has been used for each child since.  Otherwise, toys consist of the ones we make, or find at yard sales and thrift shops.   She is very happy with a child size broom in one hand a paintbrush in the other.  

We use costume jewelry for distraction during church.  She enjoys running her fingers over the beads and putting them on her wrists.  (Of course, please be careful if there is any chance the beads could become loose and your child puts things in her mouth.)

I do have a weakness for books and do purchase new on occasion but find most our books used.
I do buy yarn to knit special pieces, of course.  But then again, I do try to stay on the affordable side and have been gifted yarn as well as bartered for yarn.

As far as feeding, I have exclusively breast fed and am blessed to not have had to use a bottle at all.  We don't buy baby food and instead mash up our food and then offer finger food as more and more teeth come in.  We also don't buy sippy cups and instead teach little ones to use regular glass cups (usually the small canning ones that don't break easily).  Emmy also uses a regular teaspoon or a wooden one our neighbor made for Abraham when he was born.  But she uses a regular bowl and has not broken it yet:)

I think what helps the most in not spending on new things is to avoid browsing too much online or in all the catalogs that have started coming in the mail.   We generally don't go to "big box" stores, plazas or malls to shop.  I don't remember the last time I entered a Walmart or Home Depot, for example.  I think it is so easy to buy things in those stores that you didn't intend to buy because "it is such a good deal" or "wouldn't it be nice to have one of these".  

 It is also helpful to practice contentment and when a new "want" creeps in, to really evaluate how it would or wouldn't change things, the cost of the item, if I can wait and look for it second hand, and finally, if purchasing that item would support another family or small business while respecting the environment.

Friday, October 19, 2012

New with Branches

Thanks to a customer's suggestion, we now make this new style walking blocks - rocking blocks.

I have also been enjoying wood burning on maple branches from around our homestead.  It is fun to make one of a kind pieces.

I will be working on some more to add to our shop.  Sarah and Abraham claimed the 
first necklaces I made.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Part of Our Life with Animals

is death.  And it is never easy on our animal lover, Sarah.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Knitting and Reading

Joining in with Ginny and many others again this Wednesday to share my knitting and reading.

I finished this bonnet (pattern is from Vintage Knits for Modern Babies)  in baby alpaca yarn and this Plain Vest knit in plant dyed goldenrod wool for a custom order (would you please email me as I have misplaced your email - I am so sorry...)

I am still working on the In Threes sweater vest in soft pink and am enjoying the simplicity and soft color.

As far as reading, I am nearing the end of Up Tunket Road and have to say it is one of the best books I have read.  But, if you are looking for a homesteading how-to book, this is definitely not one.  It is more of a philosophical read.  Here is another quote ~

"Farmers today can get so busy farming and producing such a narrow range of commodities that they often don't raise much of their own food.  While I can understand how our beleaguered food and agricultural systems have created such a model, I find a certain wisdom in a homesteading approach to food, where feeding the family comes first, and producing food for income can follow."

What are you reading and/or knitting?

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Child's Play

~ a large drainage pipe from a neighbor to walk on and to ride inside  (this is getting so much use!!)

~ Sarah hiding in the pile of pine needles before they made their way to the blueberry bushes

~ Emmy playing in a box Sarah built for her

Monday, October 15, 2012

Today I am . . .

thinking about how much harder it is to be a parent of an adult than I ever thought it would be

learning to let go but still love 

in constant prayer for our adult child and thankful to know that God will work in His time

putting extra effort into these 6 gifts that are still here with us

knowing that all the energy that goes into watching an almost 13 month old won't last forever and I will soon enough be missing the precious moments that make up my days with her

thanking God for the opportunity to share - a young newly married woman asked me at church today if we left our family size in God's hands and I was able to share our own personal convictions and blessings

enjoying brisk walks in the autumn air

Wishing you abundant blessings this week,

Friday, October 12, 2012

Around the Homestead

The chickens are now out free ranging - I gave up the last bit of my kale to them.

I saw a great sign the other day, it said - "Caution, free ranging children" - I love it! and will have to come up with a way to make one to hang on our barn.

With snow flurries in the air most of the day today, we planted seven raspberry bushes that our neighbor gave us - they are the larger size raspberries.    I do hope they grow well and provide many berries in the years to come.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Scattered Knitting and Homestead Thinking

As you will see from these pictures, there are many projects in the works right now.

This is the beginnings of a Little Coffee Bean raglan cardigan (a free pattern) that is knit in the top down style - in a newborn size, with soft purple stripes - a wool blend yarn from my local yarn shop.
Also pictured is a little gnome cap for one of my knit dolls.

For our business, I need to finish crocheting two bags to hold our matching memory games.
Still finishing King of the Wind with Sarah and enjoying it.

This is a new cast on - In Threes (Soulemama mentioned this pattern the other day) - the pattern can be purchased on ravelry.
I like that the pattern includes infant up to size 5T.  I am using some wool blend yarn in a soft pretty pink that was given to me.

Something to show you that I finished! This is a short-sleeved cardigan knit using Peace Fleece yarn, sizing up this simple pattern - I have added it for sale in our shop.

Really excited to share with you this book - 

Up Tunket Road, the education of a modern homesteader, by Philip Ackerman-Leist

This book brings up so many questions.  Here is an excerpt ~
"The joy and challenge of homesteading is that it puts us face-to-face with our ecological choices.  We are forced to confront our cultural ubringing that gives us disappearing poop, anonymous food, and ravenous landfills.  I'm reminded often of the cultural admonitions delivered to me by Mary de Pachewiltz, who was raised in a peasant family in the tiny village of Gais in the Pustertal region of the Italian Alps.  As she watched me sort the castle's garbage and recycling and cope with the unmethodical composting efforts of the American college students living there, she would shake her head and say, 'Where I grew up, we never had garbage.  We didn't even have a word for garbage.  We had only what came from the earth, and then it went right back to the earth when we were finished it.'"

So much to challenge us as our family considers our future as homesteaders - is it possible with children - older children making it more challenging than the younger ones, by the way.  How much money do we need?  What can we live with and what can we live without?  Can we conserve money so we have more money to give?  How much time is leftover after earning enough to provide for the essentials? (and what are the essentials anyway....)   The process is exciting and thought provoking.

Looking forward to all of the sharing with Ginny today - the knitting projects and the books.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pumpkin Time

Being the first week of October, I decided I could wait no longer for the steady stream of pumpkin something treats.  Wanting a more efficient (and easier) way to get the pumpkin puree from our heirloom Small Sugar pumpkins, I did a quick search online (so not old fashioned I know) and read about baking the entire pumpkin in the oven - stalk and all.

Well, while I was doing my morning baking, I put one in.  The oven was set at 350 degrees and in it stayed for about 90 minutes or so.  I turned the oven off, kept the door shut and let it stay in until it cooled.

I was then completely wowed!  The skin peeled right off and then it was a breeze to cut through and using my ice cream scoop, the "guts" scraped right off.  I would say in about five minutes, I had all of the puree.

So far I have made Pumpkin Bars from one of my favorite cookbooks - 
Uprising - The Whole Grain Bakers' Book
(I have added my variations)
4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup butter
Blend together oats and flour.  Cut in butter.  Add maple syrup and mix well.

1 2/3 cup mashed pumpkin
3/4 cup cream
1/2 cup honey
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. nutmeg
2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/8 t. ground gloves

Combine .
Spread 1/2 crust in an 8 x 12 pan.  Spread filling over crust and then crumble rest of crust mix over filling.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes.

Pumpkin Bread
(this recipe was in one of my books - hand written by a friend)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 c. safflower oil
2 eggs
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon 
1/4 t. allspice 

Combine all.  Bake in a bread pan at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

What seasonal recipes are you enjoying?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Moments from the Week

Well it has been a wet, rainy week this past week - eight days of damp weather.  I still have the same clothes hanging on the clothes line - eight rinse cycles I guess.
Thankfully, it has been warm which has made it possible for us to go outside in between showers.

this is a view down our driveway

Our found on the side of the road free ride on toy with a replaced branch "steering wheel"

With all of the indoor time this past week, we decide to make roll and cut out cookies.

morning oatmeal

Wishing you a weekend full of beautiful moments,