Sunday, March 29, 2009

Old Schoolhouse

On Friday we traveled down to Springfield, Vermont to meet my mom and step-father so that our thirteen year old son, Nolan, could travel with them to Florida to visit Nolan’s great-grandmother. They flew down yesterday and landed safe and sound.

These are some pictures from our meeting place in Springfield. We met at the Eureka Schoolhouse – it is over 200 years old. It is not open this time of the year but beside it is a beautiful covered bridge that had been moved nearby the school house. We enjoyed a picnic on the covered bridge and then went for a walk. It was a beautiful spring day with the daffodils showing their shoots, the birds singing, and the river roaring from the melting snows.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mountain Baby Blankets

I came across this blog and am so inspired by this project - to make blankets for the little babies born to mostly young ladies in Eastern Appalachian Kentucky, many unwed.

As we were out today for dental appointments and picking up eyeglasses for Abby, we stopped at our favorite local quilt shop and picked up some lovely fabric to get started.


Saturday, March 21, 2009


More About Off Grid

We certainly do not need exercise equipment or do video workouts. I scrub the clothes clean on a washboard, haul water from one end of the house to the other, garden, knead dough, sweep, wash dishes by hand and much more. In the past, I would be anxious about staying in shape and would do an exercise video each day.

However, our present way living keeps our bodies strong and healthy. I wonder, then, if technological advances that were created to save time and labor have resulted in the need to spend some of that “saved time” in formal exercise programs such as gym memberships, traveling back and forth to the gym, doing videos, taking exercise classes, etc. All of these options cost money and many require time outside of the home.

Living without most modern conveniences is not a sacrifice for us. Nor do we think of ourselves as better than others who live with many modern conveniences. Living close to the earth helps us to respect the natural resources God provides. Each time we learn to live more simply we use less of the world’s resources for our own life.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Off Grid

Our family has purposefully chosen not to utilize many modern technologies that many people take for granted. We have found many benefits as a result of this choice.

For example, by not having electric lights, family members naturally gravitate to the oil lanterns once darkness arrives. We have a lantern over our kitchen table and that tends to be the center of activity - for drawing, card games, reading and conversation. Because the smaller Dietz oil lanterns are not too bright the children tend not to stay in their bedroom too long during the early hours of darkness. Neither are we tempted to go off in different directions to watch screens independently. I am amazed to learn that many children now have their own television and computer and game system in their bedrooms.

The longer our family lives without direct access to electricity, the more I understand why the Amish have such rules for the their lives. When it is as simple as plugging an electrical device into an outlet in your home, the options are endless. The most common use of electricity in most homes is probably lights, but then add in televisions, computers, coffee makers, microwaves, toasters, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, cordless telephones, electric toothbrushes, dishwashers, workout equipment, hair dryers, and many more items I have surely forgotten.
Most homes do not have their own independent electrical system utilizing solar, wind, or hydrolic power. Therefore, people are generally disconnected from where their electricity originates. As one relies more on man for their needs, it would seem likely that it would be easier to rely less on God. The only time the average homeowner may think about their source of electricity might be when they pay their bills, for example.
In addition to relying on large corporations for one’s needs (such as electrical companies), it is so very important to be conservative with what God does provide. For example, because our family is keenly in tune with our water usage and the physical effort involved in heating our water, we do not take daily showers generally. I vividly remember how easy it was to justify a daily shower. At present I wash my hair every other day and wash up every day with just about two gallons of very warm water.

I have to finish up our homemade veggie soup while the little one sleeps - I have more to write tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mud Season

We are in the midst of mud season up here in northern Vermont. Our homestead is three miles in on a dirt/gravel road. We are keenly aware of the depths of the mud as we travel to town and our car tires sink down nearly one foot into the muddy roads. Here at our home Sarah is enjoying some mud play.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More on Maple Syrup

We made the mistake last year of not using a thick enough filter - instead using cheese cloth and we always had some black dust like material on the bottom of our syrup. After more reading over the winter, we learned that it is best to use a felt cone to do the final filter, after burning down. I went to our local hardware store, ready to purchase an official syrup felt filter and saw that they were $16.75. After speaking with the sales associcate further, she informed me that if I had wool felt at home it would work just as well. Well, I took out my canning jar funnel and put the felt in it and poured the syrup right in and, for the first time, nice beautiful clearn syrup! I just used my felt that is a 60/40 mix of wool and I think rayon. It was more pliable than the 100% wool and draped nicely in the funnel.

We do a preliminary filter from the collecting bucket to the burning bucket with cheese cloth to get out any pieces of bark, etc.

Warm wishes,

Monday, March 9, 2009

Maple Sugaring

We have put up our ten buckets and taps and our ten year old, Isaac, collected the first day's run (all of about 1 gallon). He was so excited thinking about the syrup he would be having this morning on his french toast. We boiled it down on our woodstove and then filtered it through felt into a canning jar and he was the lucky recipient of delicious syrup! What a perfect sweetener God has giving us.

There was no sap running today as the weather turned cool and beautifully snowy.

Friday, March 6, 2009


I have been having fun sewing up bunnies from a pattern in the spring edition of Living Crafts.

Another Sleigh Ride Picture

It was just such a beautiful day on Sunday.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

An Old Fashioned Junket

Our family spent this past Sunday at the Old Stone House attending a junket with sledding and horse drawn sleigh rides.
Here is Michael (Dad of the family) with Abraham on his lap and Sarah to the side on the sleigh. A junket was a time when folks met at someone's farmhouse, put the kitchen table and chairs aside, took out the fiddles and enjoyed music and dancing and of course, drinks and goodies.
When we went inside the beautifully restored Samuel Reed house at the Old Stonehouse Museum, we were treated to fiddle playing, dancing, hot cocoa, tea and coffee, cider and delicious home baked goods.
Our children also enjoyed sledding across the way.