Thursday, January 31, 2013

Better than Having a Glass of Wine at a Paris Outdoor Cafe

Being a mom can be hard.  It can be grueling.  There are days where I just pray to God to please help me to be more like him minute by minute - to be loving, to be patient and to be kind.  There are days where I feel like banging the dishes around ungratefully as I wash another sink-full for the tenth time.  There are days where I just yell  when the fighting between brother and sister doesn't stop. 

But then the times that I am in awe of these precious gifts takes over and wins over the times of frustration.

I would rather be here now accepting a pucker kiss from my sixteen month old, as she squeezes her lips together in an "O" shape and makes the kissing sound then anywhere else in the world.  I relish the moments of her beautiful curly hair after a bath.  I am in near tears listening to the girl that had no interest in reading for so many years and can now read fluently and spell better than her older brother and sister.  I receive a gift each time my just turned five year old son says thanks to me for a "yummy" dinner.   I laugh at how quickly our quiet little one has learned to hold her nose and say "stinky".    I delight in the phone call from my son at college thanking me for the shipment of snickerdoodles  - he is so grateful.  

I wouldn't trade this role of mother for anything in the world.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Knitting and Reading

Nothing too new to report this week.  I had hoped to have the whole ball of the next color for the blanket finished, but not yet.  Of course, I did cast on a couple of other things so that I don't get too bored with the blanket.

Can you believe February is almost here?   I would like to have the blanket completed before the warm weather arrives (which up here means I am probably fine until June)  because soon there will be a pile of wool on my lap as I knit. 

I am really enjoying this book -  really a very simple read - some may find it boring - but I have been finding it relaxing before sleep.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Staying Home

Another way we keep life simple is to not go out too much.
We have one old car - a 1999 Suburban that we bought this past October as our older Suburban, a 1992, was rusting out.

Because we are home a lot, I have time to cook and bake and do craft projects.  I make time for these things - I could probably spend more time cleaning, organizing, and perhaps I should, but eating healthy food and being creative come first.

Because we are home we have time to have people over our house. It has been nice to be able to invite friends over for skating.

By not running here and there all the time we make time for the animals, gardening, doing firewood, playing games with each other.

Not only does staying home a lot save time, but it also saves money - less opportunity for temptation (buying) and we are sure to be better organized with a list when we go to the nearest larger town for shopping.

Generally our week involves church on Sunday, Bible study on Wednesday night (for Mike and Nolan), library on Thursday, Homeschool Group on Friday, Youth Group on Friday night, and shopping on Saturday.  There have been seasons in our family's life where we have been busier with lessons or baseball and I know those times will come again, but even then we make thoughtful choices and generally choose to not be going in too many different directions.

How do you decide how busy or not to be?

Warm wishes,

Friday, January 25, 2013


Abraham turned five!

He is our sweet, thoughtful boy.  He will still come and give me kiss out of the blue.  
He will tell me "he loves me to the sun and moon and back".  

His interests have become very clear this past year - he loves to build and Legos are a favorite of his.  We bought him the Lego Idea Book for his birthday and he spent most of the evening looking through it and most of today working on creations.  
(Thankfully we have a large tub of Legos from Nolan's days as a Lego builder.
  It has been fun to watch Nolan create again with Abraham.)

Wishing you a peaceful weekend,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

We Are Low Consumers Yet We Sell Stuff

In my ideal world, each "village" would be inclusive for most needs/wants except for things that simply were not available - such as coffee beans.  I imagine calling the seamstress to order my one new skirt per year and a new pair of dress pants for the boys.  If we needed a new bowl, I would visit the wood worker and for my wool, the shepardess since our small homestead is too wet to raise sheep.  People would visit us for new toys or rustic decor for their home or for gifts.  Then there would be a hardware store and a general store. (We do have these!)   Of course, several farms to get most of our food needs - straight from the farms. (We are blessed to already have the farms right in our town and then grow some of our own food as well.)  So in my imaginary world there would be all these microcosm worlds spread throughout so that people could support local artisans, local farms and local small businesses.

You know many of us can choose to do some of this right where we are now - it just takes effort, time, and perhaps a bit more money. (or maybe it is a just a money shift)

Our family does buy new things - books a weakness of mine for one.  I am not good at buying books at our closest bookstore (about 30 minutes away).  They have a small inventory.  I still buy many from Amazon and that is one thing I do not feel good about doing.  I do get lots of books second hand, however, at thrift stores and yard sales and borrow from the library.

(We have had this one for two years now.)

Our family earns our living primarily through our etsy sales.  We make goods for others to buy.  All of what we make can be composted - simply thrown in the woods without harm to the earth.  We do our best to keep our prices fair so that all income levels can afford to buy.

We also make toys that we believe in.  Our rustic decor and gifts are also simple and generally useful.  
Our wedding line gives an eco-friendly option while adding a touch of nature to the couple's wedding decor.
We do our best to keep our ideals in line with what we sell.  Everything is made with our hands except for the burlap bags the building blocks come in and the cotton bags some other toys are packaged in.

Along these same lines when our family needs to buy something new and  I can't find it locally (we don't shop at big box stores), I next look to etsy or other family businesses.  We bought a beautiful handmade broom that was very expensive for us (but a good price for all the work that goes into making one).  I simply cannot feel good about buying a $1.00 broom that is made of plastic and will have to end up in the landfill before long.  In addition, it is something I use several times a day and just having something that I know was made in a sustainable way, by an individual making their living working by doing what they enjoy, and using this aesthetically pleasing broom, adds a bit of pleasure to the task of sweeping.

I purchased healing salve from Taryn since that was something I hadn't made myself yet. It is on my someday learn-to-do list.  They are a family living by the works of their hands as well.      

We also enjoy bartering.  I bartered this beautiful hand dyed yarn in exchange for some our toys.

Since we don't shop at big box stores, we have the mindset that we may pay more for certain things, but we buy less things overall.  And that is ok.  We can all make a statement, no matter or income levels, by how we do choose to spend.

Thank you so much for all of the sharing here - it is wonderful!

Warm wishes,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yarn Along

I really like the new Peace Fleece colors and thought they would look nice in a striped blanket - almost rainbow colors all in rustic shades - marigold, wild mustard, phoebe, indigo smoke, and porterfield smoke.  So far I have used up one skein.  This will be something I will do when I need mindless knitting so it will probably take some time to finish.  

While browsing the library on Saturday I saw An Irish Country Wedding by Patrick Taylor and knew that I had seen it recommended on some Yarn Along posts in the past.
It is a light fun read - perfect for before falling asleep, plus medicine and healing is an interest of mine.

A friend lent me, Natural Goat Care by Pat Coleby.  It has been on my wish list for some time.  I am taking notes as I go along.

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Making Do

Choosing a life not centered around earning a high salary or going into debt, for us means making do with what is given to us or buying second hand.  Choosing to care for the earth means not buying new things often.

So in our living room area - we have two second hand chairs passed on to us - a couch that our friend gave us with a cover that I found in a free pile outside a thrift store that I keep applying patches to.

All new pillows including a big one for the floor that I sewed using a wonderful piece of moss green corduroy fabric and filled all with a giant bag of cotton filling from a factory that used to be nearby - all passed on from a neighbor that was moving.

The small rocking chair was mine when I was a child.

Sometimes it can be hard practicing contentment and not wanting  more or new - especially when visiting beautiful blogs or looking through pinterest.  

What helps, is to simply avoid shopping except in second hand shops and I sometimes find myself  closing my computer down shortly after visiting an online store and remind myself to be patient, remind myself about our family's dreams and goals (which require some savings), and remind myself where many of the items are probably made and that I will not be very kind to the environment by making a purchase.

How do you manage consumerism?  Are you content with what you have?  Do you like to take what you have and make new things?

(A new something can be a wonderful treat sometimes or entirely necessary , so, yes we do buy new on a  occasion.)

Warm wishes,

Monday, January 21, 2013

Just Thinking

I have had several readers tell me that our family has inspired their family and it really just blows me away.  It is only thanks to God, being persistent and taking small steps that we have been able to realize our dreams.

But, I thought that maybe I would start sharing more about the ins and outs of how we got to where we are and the steps we are taking to continue our journey.  I like to think that we live "outside the box".  

There are many others that have chosen similar paths and I am so thankful that the internet has helped to connect us and also for our little rural nook up here in northern Vermont where I have been able to find others that share common values. But for the most part I think our family still sticks out and that we live very differently than most in our country.

Just yesterday,for example, our fourteen year old exclaimed, "Mom, thank you for making a new dish cloth!"   I thought to myself - wow!  How many fourteen year olds would even notice.

So, there may be some controversial posts coming up and many of you may disagree with some of the things I write.  I promise that I will not be judgemental or condemning, but instead simply share our family's way of living and what we hope to achieve by living our small simple life.

Blessings on this beautiful Monday,

Sunday, January 20, 2013

With Gratitude

::  all going well when our oldest son was home over his winter break

:: getting to know his girlfriend better as she came to spend several days with us

:: the beautiful morning when I went out to do the animal chores

:: the amazing change of weather within minutes

::  Abby's baking

:: one organized craft basket 

:: our business picking up again so that we can pay the bills 

:: the hope that God gives me - knowing that He knows the desires of my heart

:: for my friend that asked me if we bought plastic bags (as she was sure we did not) and then inquired what we do instead 

:: other friends asking about how we eat and wanting to learn more about nutrition (it is so neat to let how we live speak for itself)

:: a sweet one year old

Joining in with Taryn today.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Moments from the Week

Thomas turned 19 on Tuesday.  (I seem to be finally adjusting to being a mom of an adult and it really is quite nice.)
It was nice that he was home on college break.

The chicken enjoying a warm day early in the week.

Winter brings out all of the indoor activities - lately dominoes have been popular.

Building a cedar wall on either side of the stairway - we were able to get the wood for free from a log cabin kit company that has "seconds".

Eating breakfast this very cold morning near the wood stove.

Busyness on the floor.

Sharing some special moments from the week along with Jules and others.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

This Morning

I sit this morning in the quiet, amazed that it is already 7:15 and all the children are still sleeping.  The day is slowly awakening outside and I can now see that it is lightly snowing.

My coffee is almost gone and the knitting must be put down to begin our day.  But just to enjoy a couple more minutes of quiet; a gift.

Enjoy the many gifts that you are given today.
Warm wishes,

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Yarn Along

This week I am still reading Minister's Wooing by Harriet Beecher Stowe. I am enjoying the language - even reading aloud to myself, but I haven't found the story all that engaging.  I am not sure if I will finish it or not.

But, I have been really enjoying reading Wandering Through Winter by Edwin Way Teale - He wrote four books (one for each season) back in the 60's or - each about travelling across the country during each season.  It is fun to learn geography and also about nature and animals, etc.

For knitting, Abraham has requested some purple mittens for his birthday next week.  I just decided to add a brown stripe.  

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

Warm wishes,

Friday, January 11, 2013

Moments from the Week

We get outside every day, even if just for a  little bit.

This chicken, appropriately named, Snowflake, ventured out of the chicken coop area and found some shelter in the dog house.

Abby's head shot for her theater resume and audition.   She tried out for this summer's QNEK production of Annie - and found out she has the part of an orphan, Pepper.

I thought I would share the recipe for these Cranberry Walnut cookies - 

1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

Combine all ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hand Knit Simple Baby Doll

I have been knitting a little woolen doll and plan to knit more and make the pattern available soon.  It is so simple!  

I also have been making some little Valentine Gnomes by adding a hand stitched heart on their chests.

So glad to have found this gem of a book on one of our shelves.  The previous owner of our home left many books behind and this was one of them - Minister's Wooing by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  The language is delightful and holding the antique book in my hands as I read just feels so good.

Looking forward  to catching up with everyone at today's Yarn Along at Small Things.

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sunday - Rest :: Monday - Baking

Monday tends to be the bulk baking day for me.  While I do bake bread and an occasional dessert most days, Monday is generally a day where we are out of all baked goods.

(In the picture is my simple daily bread, a new for me brownie recipe that I came across here, and some almost healthy cranberry walnut oat cookies.)

A newer routine for our family is to make Sundays truly a day of rest - we had not set aside a day for this in the past.  Of course, with a large family and animals there are chores that need to be done, but we have come up with ways to lessen the load.

I don't bake in the morning before going to church.  However, we usually do have a special breakfast, either eggs and bacon or pancakes with maple syrup.

After church we go to the general store and pick up a loaf of bread (yes! store bought), some deli meat and a bag of chips.
Usually we arrive home around 1:00 or so and have a simple late lunch.

Food for the rest of the day is simply help-yourself, finish up left overs, or snacks.
On a special occasion or if we have company over, this would change, but this has become our family's new routine - inspired by some friends that do the same.

What are your Sundays like?
Warm wishes,

Sunday, January 6, 2013

An Orange Olive Oil Candle

Did you know about this?  Isaac (our 14 year old) showed me the other night.  You clean out an orange and then pull a "wick" from the stringy white stuff near the rind by rubbing it between your fingers.
Fill the orange with olive oil and then light the "wick".  This lighting part can take awhile - but once it is lit, it stays lit.  It gives off a beautiful orange aroma as well.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Snowflakes Falling
(author unknown)

Snowflakes falling soft and light,
Snowflakes falling in the night,
Soft and light, pure and white.
When the sun shines out so bright
All the earth is dressed in white.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I am knitting the other half of this simple scarf.  I figured out that in order for the scarf to work, I needed to knit two separate halves and then sew them together.
Here is the simple pattern - 
Cast on 28 stitches.
Knit 2 rows.
Then repeat this simple sequence -
Row 1:  Knit
Row 2:  Purl
Row 3:  Knit 2, Knit 2 together (4 times), YO, Knit 1 (8 times), Knit 2 together (4 times), Knit 2
Row 4:  Knit

I am enjoying the essays from Wendell Berry's, Home Economics.  Here is an excerpt from A Defense of the Family Farm.

"We can say without exaggeration that the present national ambition of the United States is unemployment.  People living for quitting time, for weekends, for vacations, and for retirement; moreover, this ambition seems to be classless, as true in the executive suites as on the assembly lines.......  This is explained, of course, by the dullness of the work, by the loss of responsibility for, or credit for, or knowledge of the thing made.  

But there is an even more important consequence:  By the dismemberment of work, by the degradation of our minds as workers, we are denied our highest calling, for, as Gills says, 'every man is called to give love to the work of his hands.  Every man is called to be an artist.'"

Joining in with Ginny for the Yarn Along today.

I thought this appropriate as we begin a new year, filled with 365 new beginnings.
Warm wishes,

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

As the snow piles up outside, we wonder at its beauty.

The stark coldness reminds us to be thankful for the warmth inside.

As I venture into this new year, 2013, I feel so much stirring deep within myself.  Perhaps it is because I have reached some sort of middle age condition or maybe God is nudging me forward to be stronger in my faith - I am not sure yet.   I look forward to this new year - to experience the joys and sorrows, ups and downs, growths and milestones that are sure to occur.   

While I do wish you a Happy New Year I also wish that you find joy in your daily life no matter where you are in your journey.

Warm wishes,