Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I finished knitting up these five gnomes in Peace Fleece's new colors - I like to call them the rustic rainbow gnomes.  
The pattern for them can be found here.
I am now offering a kit to make all five of these gnomes in our shop.

I have started knitting the front of the Oz Vest and am enjoying the simple pattern.

To compliment the Peaceful Parenting classes I am taking, I ordered Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. If you have read this book, I would love to hear what you thought.

Joining in today with Ginny.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Get Real - Mealtimes

This six week, Get Real Series, was inspired by Adrie (of the blog, Field and Fire) and I realizing that each of us wondered how the other "did it all".  Of course, the reality is we don't.  There are seven us that will be sharing the realities of how we handle a certain aspect of living over each of the six weeks on Tuesdays.  
This week it is Dinner.

Our family's journey toward eating more whole foods - meaning foods as close to the source as possible and foods made from scratch - continues to this day.  What started first as growing our own small garden nearly 20 years ago has developed into preserving and keeping some of that food we grow and at various times even having a farm stand and having enough excess to share with friends and neighbors.  What we can't grow ourselves, we buy at our local organic farms or local natural food store (which is actually a 30 minute drive).   Finally the remainder of our food is purchased at a small grocery store and our in-town general store.  

Committing to feeding our family meals made from scratch and providing healthy choices means that a lot of my day is spent in the kitchen, not to mention feeding a large family.
   I have simplified things somewhat just because of all of the other responsibilities I have (you know, like having 7 children).  Breakfast 5 out of 7 days is oatmeal (with raisins for me) and cold cereal for those that don't like oatmeal.  The other days are sometimes eggs with maybe bacon and toast and another day may be pancakes with maple syrup.
After breakfast, I do my baking for the day.  With our oldest off to college, I generally make 2 loaves of bread every other day now and then some kind of muffin/quick bread and a sweet on the same day I bake the bread so that it can all go in the oven together.

 Lunch varies but often it is grilled cheese (maybe grilled cheese with egg) on homemade bread with pickles that I canned.  Other days peanut butter or sunflower butter with jelly sandwiches and organic corn chips with salsa.  Sometimes "bread pizzas".  Sometimes soup with toast.   When the garden is producing I nearly always add a vegetable - carrots, greens or potatoes.

Dinner is usually something more involved.  I strive to have a weekly menu, but this doesn't always happen.  However, our meals tend to be based on the season.  Right now we are having our last beef stew and cream soups.  I just made a yummy lentil carrot soup the other night.  As our chickens are now giving us 8 - 10 eggs each day I will be adding quiche, and some kind of egg meal at least twice per week to our dinner menu.  I also give myself a break when I need it and  will make something simple, such as organic ground beef from our local farm and two bags of frozen sweet potato fries with some organic greens from our natural food store. 

We don't get fast food for dinner more than maybe once a month and that is usually Chinese Food.
We haven't been out for a sit-down dinner at a restaurant since Mike and I went away over night almost two years ago for our anniversary.

As far as preparing dinner, I have the luxury that because we have a home based business, my husband generally is around to help with the children from 3:00 - 5:00 so that I can do any wood burning for the business, packaging, answer customer questions and work on dinner.  Sometimes I will even start chopping vegetables when I have a moment or two anytime after lunch.  When Mike isn't around I am now blessed to have older children to help with Emmy but if all else fails, I have will put her in the Ergo to finish up any meal preparation.

When our children were all younger (there was a time when I had a newborn, 2, 4, and 6 year olds) I did make more simple meals and I am sure I relied on a video or two during the meal preparation time.  (The 2, 4, and 6 year old were boys and our house was very lively!)  I was happy if I got noodles boiled and sauce heated on some evenings.

Oh, I also forgot to mention my right hand kitchen helper, Sarah.  She loves to chop vegetables!  If she is around, she nearly always volunteers.

Our children are very fussy, especially the older ones as I didn't cook the same way that I do now when they were small.  I don't fight it.  But for the younger ones, I give them a small amount of each of the meal's offerings and am often happy to find that they will eat it.  Last night Abraham, Sarah, and Abby joined Mike and I and had a bit of salmon, for example.  (This was a rare treat for us as it is expensive but oh so good!)  

One thing I love about life is the excitement of learning new things and putting them into practice.  When I need some inspiration I may spend some time reading Nourishing Traditions or the Encyclopedia of Country Living.  I am also currently taking Heather's course, Whole Foods Kitchen and working on adding new ideas to our meals and learning more about nutrition.

Finally, once the meal is complete, our family joins together almost every night of the week to have dinner.  Abby sets the table and Sarah lights the candle and we hold hands to say grace.  Even though some may finish within 5 minutes, I am thankful for that brief time where we come together as a family.

Looking forward to reading what the other amazing women shared today and if you would like, please share what mealtimes are like at your home ~ 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Birds in a Birch Tree

Simple birds cut out of watercolor paper, painted and hung on a birch twig tree with a birch branch as the base.

Friday, March 22, 2013

So thankful this morning

This morning I just felt so grateful - so thankful 

for the bright sunshine, 

for the snow that melted yesterday despite the cool temperature,

 for food to eat for breakfast,

 for the blessings of being kept safe yesterday when I slid backward down a steep hill into the deep snow,

 for healthy children,

 for being able to go into town today to shop at the thrift shops and markets to buy food for our family and maybe find a treasure or two,

for the ice cream shop in town opening today for the season,

 for the abundance of our own eggs that are providing us with at least a couple of meals each week which will keep aforementioned food budget down and nourish our bodies,

for the electric line clearing man taking the time to stop by yesterday and let Mike know that he will be cutting at a spot with soooo much birch and he will leave it aside for him instead of chipping it

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Inside and Outside

Trying to go with the daily flow here, making the most of each minute and not wishing to hard for spring - real spring.

Inside Emmy is showing an interest in knitting needles and yarn :)

I cut a piece out of stained hand embroidered runner to make a decoration for the inside of our door.

With over 15" of freshly fallen snow, there was more outside snow play and also more wet coats, boots, hats and mittens.

Keep on keeping on - this is northern Vermont after all.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I bought a new knitting book second-hand a couple of months ago - Natural Knits for Babies and Moms - Beautiful Designs Using Organic Yarns and was delighted to find many simple sweet patterns - just my knitting speed.

I am only knitting off my stash for some time as we are on a saving/budget plan to work toward on next life goal.  

The first project I chose from the book is the Oz Vest and I am using size 8 needles with Peace Fleece worsted weight wool yarn and started with the smallest size given for the pattern which will make the vest probably about a 6 - 12 month old size versus the newborn size using size 6 needles in a DK weight yarn.

There are still some other projects going on at the same time as I am definitely not a one project at a time kind of girl.

I started a new book last night that I found at our little local library.  I got to play librarian yesterday afternoon to help out the regular librarian that couldn't make it.
Speak to the Earth - Pages from a farmwife's journal - by Rachel Peden, was published in 1974.
It is interesting to note how the author bemoans the loss of small family farms even back almost
40 years ago.

Our read aloud is A Nest for Celeste - a sweet story recommended at the knit along some time ago.
 (I love the pencil illustrations.)

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Welcome Spring

(Abby's new spring suncatcher contrasting the wintry scene out the window.)

On this very first day of spring in northern Vermont the snow is falling.
How grateful I am for the promises of the changing seasons.
So hopeful.

(I now realize the first day of spring is tomorrow - the 20th - all last night and all this morning I just had in my head that today was the 20th ... I even sang happy half birthday to Emmy, but no - that would be the 20th too - silly me)

Monday, March 18, 2013

This past weekend

we had pancakes for breakfast with our own maple syrup 

listened to Sarah (at the ripe age of almost nine) call me to listen to her read from a book that she picked up beside my bed - How Children Fail by John Holt
"For children, the central business of school is not learning, whatever this vague word means; it is getting these daily tasks done, or at least out of the way, with a minimum of effort and unpleasantness."  
I loved this.

I spent some time organizing - this is a constant work in progress

made Sand Cookies from Good to the Grain - a shortbread type cookie with not a lot of sugar that I can share with Emmy without worrying about her having too much sweetness

enjoyed friends that came to visit and made a Citrus Kale salad to share - very yummy!

How was your weekend?
Warm wishes,

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Peaceful Parenting

I feel a subtle shift happening in my thinking once again about children and learning and education.
Maybe not so much a shift, but more listening to what I have always believed - have truly always felt.

As my Christian faith has grown, I think I had became more rigid in my thinking regarding the roles of husbands and wives and how children should obey (which yes, they should but really it is their little hearts that must be reached.)  I think sometimes it can be easier, actually I know it is easier -  to live by rules than to live by your heart.  

I have never really been a very good rule follower - thus my back and forth with being involved with formalized churches,  homeschooling, and don't even get me started on the government and freedoms.

My faith is firmly planted, the rules are loosening and I want to be sure I am reaching the hearts of those around me.  

Yesterday I attended the first of a six Peaceful Parenting class.

Not a another person in attendance is a Christian (at least I don't think so).
I am being challenged to consider how my Christian faith can be applied to this philosophy - where parents become neither authoritarian nor permissive nor even anywhere on that spectrum  - but on a new plane of unconditional love.  I am excited to learn more but also learn how this all jives with what Jesus taught.

My gut is already telling me that it lines up perfectly.  Because Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
The class leader's own daily mantra included compassion and gratitude. 

 Yes - that is taught over and over in the New Testament.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Knitting and Reading this Past Week

Using up yarn from my stash I free handed some new hats for myself and Emmy.  My knit winter hat is well worn and Emmy's wool bonnet is just a bit to warm for these early spring days.

Also I finished the baby bonnet from last week - knit with so soft baby alpaca.

The blanket is progressing.  I have started a new color - indigo smoke (from Peace Fleece).  This color I am knitting in a 4 x 4 ribbing.

Reading this week includes a book for Bible study, a read aloud, and something for inspiration.

Joining in with Ginny and so many others today.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

Thankful for....

needing a second egg carton

warmth and light

finding this book - it looks to be my speed to learn more about natural dyeing

having Thomas and Sam home from college for a weekend visit - just because

that after over a solid week of sickness that went through all the children we just have a few straggling coughs left

Isaac's algebra lessons that keep my brain active

all the wonderful possibilities that each new day brings!

Friday, March 8, 2013

In Our Shop

Just sharing a bit of what is new in our shop

Suncatcher Kits  - the same suncatchters that Abby has been making and selling.  The kits are handmade and put together by a friend.

Branch Handle Cotton Play Mops - an oldie that we have started to offer again

Birch Branch Alphabet Set - 30 pieces, hand wood burned letters

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I am knitting for a customer this week - the Modern Baby Bonnet from Vintage Knits for Modern Babies  in a baby alpaca - I just love working with baby alpaca - so soft.

So very glad I stuck with this book after a slow start.
Many issues are covered - including social class and climate change - lots to think about.

What are you reading and knitting?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


As we have slowly inched our way over the years to healthier eating habits,  there remains one food group that remains a part of our days - sweets.

I have made some very small changes such as adding less sugar to my basic cookie recipe, making  a healthy granola bar with coconut oil and maple syrup, and then simply choosing to eat smaller portions for dessert.

One of sweet in particular, that does tend to makes an appearance daily in some form is - chocolate!

This was a recent dessert created in a joint effort by Abby and myself.
The basic cake is the recipe, Basic Mixture for Cupcakes, from one of my favorite cookbooks, Forgotten Skills of Cooking.

The chocolate sauce is a wonderful new find - no more plastic chocolate sauce bottles in our house.  It stores well in a canning jar in the refrigerator.

My Granny's Chocolate Sauce

1 1/2 c. sugar
4 T. flour
1/4 c. cocoa
1/4 t. salt
1 c. water
Mix dry ingredients, then add water and cook until smooth and thick.  Add 1 T. butter and 1 t. vanilla.  

This book, Abby found at a thrift shop for $1.00.  We have already made the fudge chocolate cake and today Sarah made Chocolate Souffle Tart.

We are spoiled for sure.