Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Knitting and Reading

Another Cobblestone Vest came off the needles and I was happy to come up with the idea of using one of Renee's sweet granny squares as a pocket.  I used size eight needles and worsted weight merino/mohair wool from Peace Fleece to make a size 6 - 12 months.  The buttons are hemlock from our property that our son, Nolan,made.

The cowl I wrote about a couple of weeks ago that  I was working on with this yarn from my local yarn shop was coming out too small, so I decided to pull it apart and start something new.  I found this pattern and am crocheting an adult hat.  Hopefully I will be able to share some good results next week.

Also, so happy to be reading two good books.  The first is Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy - a nice fiction read that is just my speed.

The other is Plenty, One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally.  I found this copy in our local thrift store for just a quarter.   Of course I am enjoying it and it really makes me think about how our family could work harder to eat more local food and keep working toward producing more of our own as well.

I am really looking forward to checking out all of the knitting projects at Ginny's Knit Along today to get some more ideas for Christmas creating.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wreath Making

I was excited when a friend offered to come spend the afternoon with us teaching us how to make Christmas wreaths.  In the past, I have generally made swags with cuttings I could find on a walk and would add pine cones or bark or other bits of found things.  These swags were just fine, but yes, I was very excited to learn a new craft.

With wire bases and wire spools, balsam we cut from our woods, red pine cones gathered from a neighbor's land, and some ribbon and dried flowers that Lisa had left over from when she made and sold wreaths, we spread out over our living and dining area.

I was surprised how much greenery it took to make just three wreaths.
Also, it took quite a lot of time.  There is the gathering, trimming, wrapping the wire around each small bouquet as it is attached to the wire, bow making, wrapping pine cones and then adding any other decoration.

If you end up buying a wreath, remember all of the time that it truly does take and see if you can find someone who makes them his/herself.  I can only imagine that a $12.00 wreath is not made in the best of circumstances.  (That the maker may not be getting a fair wage, for example.)

Abby, our 12 year old did a beautiful job with her wreath.  
We are happy to make this the start of a new tradition - wreath making the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

We have been...

Packaging birch branch ornament orders and getting lots of help.

Cutting and chopping for Thanksgiving (my Mom).  The onions were quite strong.

Abraham went and grabbed a pair of sunglasses to help with the sting.

Collecting pine cones for wreaths.

Making some firewood runs. 
 It was nice to have Thomas home and not just because of the help:) 

Playing in last night's snow fall!

Did you enjoy your Thanksgiving and weekend?

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

So Thankful

for the abundance of food in our home right now - the pie making has begun and the plans are all made, each recipe in a folder on the kitchen counter

 that my Mom and step-father are coming from Connecticut to be with us for Thanksgiving

the trees that grow so abundantly up here in nothern Vermont that provide the material of which we make our living from

that our best seller this season so far  is the simple couple's ornament - which is nice because it  uses so little of the branch

for our children's abundant creativity (in the picture above they are carving on ice harvested from our pond)

for amazing thrift store finds yesterday - a log cabin quilt ($8.00!) and some beautiful handmade pottery (for just a couple of dollars total), and a shirt that our almost seventeen year old just loves (no worries from him about wearing used - thankful for that too!)

that our oldest son is home with us from college - all nine of us now snug in our cozy home for the week - I am remembering to be thankful for each one of them -  even among the noise and chaos

I just feel so blessed and thank God for every one of the blessings He has given me.  Practicing gratitude has been a gradual practice in my life that has now become a habit and for that I am thankful.   When all 7 of us lived in a small mobile home without electricity for over two years and I carried water, washed clothes by hand, kept our food cold with ice blocks, cooked on the woodstove - I realized that I could either be grateful for what God had provided me and look at all of the little blessings, or I could cave in and harden and be miserable.  

I just reminded Abraham and Sarah how blessed they were to be enjoying a piece of chocolate cake with milk and to be sitting in a warm house.  Sometimes it isn't always easy to find things to be grateful for and I know that sometimes we all go through trials, but practicing gratitude for even the smallest of things can truly lead to joy.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving - it truly is a beautiful holiday to celebrate!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Making with Birch Bark

After birch logs have sat for awhile - say months - the bark gets very easy to peel.  This is actually bark from the gray birch tree.

We made heart garlands and star ornaments.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Moments from the Week

Coming home from a walk, we found Isaac engaged in some sort of creative experiment - it ended up not working - but I just love the thought process!

Isaac brought in a log and some boards and showed Abraham and Sarah about levers.

and with the fulcrum (log) near Sarah, he showed them how just a couple of 
large books could lift her.

It was really warm the beginning of the week.  Emmy loves being pushed on the little bike.

Wishing you a weekend filled with beautiful moments,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Knitting and Reading

I finished the Plain Vest for Emmy using some stash wool yarn and size 10 needles.  I made it a bit longer to go over some wool leggings.

On Saturday I went into town and visited the yarn shop.  I hadn't been in for several months, knowing how hard it is to go in and not come out with something.  This time the shop worker gave me a copy of the pattern Shawl Collared Cowl by Alana Dakos of
This is something I can handle - two needles!  I am using a wool blend yarn, coffee beenz from the Plymouth Yarn Company, purchased at said yarn shop - two skeins one in a blue blend and one in a toffee blend.  I love that it calls for three buttons and that I can use our handmade branch ones.

Thank you so much for sharing your simple scarf and cowl patterns last week.  I found some that will definitely work.

I borrowed these two books from the library.
The first is one I am reading aloud about mid morning to the younger children.  This is a new children's chapter book by Erdrich.  Of course I was drawn to it because of the beautiful cover but we are enjoying it very much.  This is the fourth in the Birchbark House series.  We haven't read the first three and it seems just fine to be starting with this one, although, I think I will get the first in the series next.  Have you read any of these?

The other book, Almost Home, contains the true stories of  six young people as they find their way.  Each of them being involved in a Covenant House - a homeless shelter for youth.

In the foreword by Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ, there is an excerpt that I would like to share ~
"I've learned that real heroes usually aren't the kind of people you read about in newspapers or see on TV.  Real heroes are usually the ones concerned with the least glamorous of things.  In fact, I've come to believe strongly that the most heroic or biggest thing we can do in any day is a small act of kindness, decency, or love.  What frustrates me is that so often we allow our inability to do the big things to undermine our determination to do the small things, those acts of kindness, decency, and love that in their aggregate over days, weeks, and years make powerful change."

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

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Some Holiday Crafting

Wood burned birch ornaments - I first stamped the image using a rubber stamp and then wood burned over that.

a birch twig wreath

and some hand sewing - wool felt bird ornaments

Joining in with Nicole at Frontier Dreams today with her Craft Along.

What are handwork projects are keeping you busy?

Warm wishes,

Saturday, November 10, 2012


We heat our home with firewood in an old woodstove that truly needs to be updated.  However, we are thankful for it - for the warmth and coziness -  and were especially thankful as we prayed for the many families that lost their power or their homes in hurricane Sandy.

Our firewood we gather tree by tree, branch by branch with the strength of our bodies.  Mike has just about finished thinning out the trees on our small 3.5 acre homestead.  We also get offers from neighbors to come gather wood from dead trees on their land.   We are thankful for the trailer from our neighbors that they gave us when they moved away, as it is strong enough to hold a decent load.

After the lengths are cut with the chainsaw, the older boys split the wood.  They enjoy this process as it works their muscles and builds strength.

We had a very bad accident, however, on Thursday.  Nolan was using the wedge and maul to split a larger piece of maple and shard from the wedge flew up into his face.  In less than a second after the maul hit the wedge, blood began to pour out through a hole right below and to the left of his mouth. 

Mike brought him right to the emergency room - oh how lucky we are to live in this modern age of medicine (yes, at times a mixed blessing, but it is wonderful that we have choices and need to continue to fight for the freedom of being able to choose) - and they removed the metal and gave him two stitches and some antibiotics as the hole went all the way through to his mouth.  He is doing fine now but...

(This is how we stack the ends.)

There were some hard lessons learned.  Always wear eye protection - gosh, didn't we know this and why didn't we insist?  Second, don't use an old wedge.  The one that he was using had mushroomed out on the top and left a bit of metal on each side - that is from where the piece broke off.

Just wanted to share these simple lessons so that maybe it will help prevent another injury.

(We use bits of roofing metal that we have gathered from here and there to cover the pile.)

Generally, however, we enjoy and appreciate the process of using wood for our heat.  I particularly enjoy stacking the wood.  Each piece, one at a time, providing for our family for the winter.

Do you have any firewood tips to share?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Moments from the Week

she drinks from a small glass juice size cup now - usually not spilling it - but often adding food 
she also sits and eats for 30 - 45 minutes at each meal - a true blessing - that gives me the 
chance to sit and eat

as we move indoors more, the game boards have come out

trying on her new bonnet

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Earth Is Filled with His Glory

This is the view we are blessed to enjoy on our way to town.

I like the song, Holy is the Lord by Chris Tomlin.  

I especially love the line, "the earth is filled with His glory" and as I sing, reflect upon all of the beauty God has given us to enjoy in the form of the natural world around us.  

With all of this, though, comes the responsibility to protect, conserve and care for it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Knitting and Reading on Wednesday

Really nothing new to share this week as far as knitting goes as I am putting the finishing touches on the Modern Baby Bonnet and almost ready to start the arm holes on the Plain Vest - these are my two favorite things to knit right now.

I am looking for a simple yet elegant hat pattern and scarf or cowl pattern to knit for Christmas gifts and would love suggestions - but I generally use two needles and prefer something that doesn't need too much counting.  Any ideas?

I borrowed this book from the library as I have an interest in researching how the full time small farmers of years ago could make a decent living farming -  or did they not?  I see these beautiful wooden farm homes (often in  a state of disrepair these days) and giant barns (often nearly falling down) and can't help but wonder what life was like for these farm families during the time when they could afford to build such beautiful structures.

Looking forward to all of the sharing today with Ginny and everyone else.

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Our $5.00 thrift store find came with a plastic liner with holes.
I took a felted wool sweater and made a new cover.

Mike took some old broken room dividers and made a fence around our wood stove.

Do you have any re-purposing projects in the works?

Monday, November 5, 2012

The first snow

with the pre-breakfast rush to get outside.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What They Were Up to....

Yesterday afternoon I noticed that all of the children were upstairs in their bedrooms, except Emmy of course, and decided to see what everyone was up to.

My father gave us this wooden bumper pool table quite awhile ago, and it has recently found a nice home in the open room/bedroom upstairs.  Isaac and Abraham share it as their bedroom.  Abraham  did get this shot in - he is quite good!

Abby was playing solitaire on her laptop.  It is fun to check out all of the things she has hanging on her walls.

Sarah was typing on our yard sale find ($5!).  

And Nolan was playing his guitar.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Contributing Some

While this is only a tiny drop in the bucket, we will be contributing 10% of our sales for a week to the Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund.
Keeping those that have experienced loss in our prayers.