Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baby Gnome Hat Knit Pattern

I just wanted to share:

Baby Gnome Hat

With size 8 needles and worsted weight yarn, Cast on 57 stitches.

The hat will be knit in the stockinette stitch (knit one row and then purl the next).

Work 3 inches and then *at the beginning of the next knit row, knit 2 together at the beginning and end of the row.
Knit five rows*
Repeat between *’s until hat measures 6 inches long. Now knit 2 together at the beginning and end of each knit row (every other row). Until one stitch is left on the needle. Cut the yarn long enough to use to sew up back seam.

For the ear flaps:
Measure just two inches from the back seam to find where to pick up eight stitches (just under the natural roll up portion). Knit 10 rows. Knit two together at the beginning and end of next rows until one stitch is left. Grab your size G crochet hook and chain long enough for one side tie, about 12 inches. Turn and single crochet back up to ear flap end and finish.
Repeat for other side.
Let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Around the Homestead

Our oldest son, Thomas, helped to clear a trail around our pond on one side that was overgrown. He even added a little bridge.

Here is Abraham following Sarah down the path.

Well, the last of the vegetables have been canned, the last of the tomatoes made into sauce, and the pumpkins and winter squash all picked. Our thoughts turn to handwork and winter preparation.

Winding some yarn while enjoying the beautiful day around the wheelbarrow handles.

I have added some yarn from Peace Fleece to our online store - Natural Earth Farm . The above shade is Moldova Burgandy. It is beautiful.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I am often in awe of what an amazing family God has given me. How can I be so worthy of all of them?

Here is three of them at work helping me to prepare for our guests - Abby making birthday cake, Isaac peeling apples, and Nolan cutting and coring them for apple crisp.

Here is a picture of the six of them with my father and his friend, Sheila.

We were blessed with their visit and the time spent together.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Handmade Home

I sewed up the Mama's Bag from Amanda Blake Soule's new book, Handmade Home.

As a novice sewer, I found this a wonderful project. It is wrapped up to give to a family friend today at a little birthday celebration we are giving her.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Busy Week

Autumn's arrival passed yesterday with not as much attention as I would have liked. I don't think that the warm humid air helped. My mom and step-father left yesterday after breakfast for home in Connecticut. The highlight of their visit was a walk on a bike path that is about 25 minutes from our house, along a beautiful large lake that actually goes into Canada as well. With the leaves already turning up here, the views were beautiful.

After they left, we played catch-up - baking (more zucchini muffins, chocolate-chip/raisin oat cookies), the last of the tomato canning (6 more quarts), laundry, and I was able to work a little more on our outside - building rough stone walls on the pathway to the barn.

Today, we are in earnest preparing for my father's visit. He and his friend are spending the night tomorrow on their way home (round about way) from a trip to Prince Edward Island (a place I would like to visit as well). Bread is rising and we will be baking a big batch of apple crisp. My son, Isaac, enjoys peeling the apples with our crank peeler and then I core them and cover the bottom of a buttered pan. For the topping I use 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup flour, 2 cups oats and 1 Tablespoon cinnamon. Sprinkle the topping over the apples and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. The children love it! And I do have to admit I do too. We are still using the apples from our apple trees.

My father's girlfriend is celebrating a birthday next week and we are planning to have a birthday cake for her. The girls will bake and frost the cake (as well as lick the bowls clean I am sure!)

Just wanted to share a link to a Vintage Swap I have joined. Just to read the blog is a joy - to see the beautiful pictures of vintage finds and meet the other creative women.

Warm wishes,


Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Woodstove

This is where we have been spending some of our time now. I love the smell of a freshly made fire - it fills the house as does the warmth and creates a cozy atmosphere.

I know where we will all be gathered together so often during the cool autumn days.
We have three sets of visitors coming over the next five days - my blogging may be sporadic as I bake, cook and prepare the home for our guests.
Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Canning Tomatoes

Oh... this is so simple.

We have Roma tomatoes this year to can and they make a wonderful sauce.

In our new rustic cottage, we do have electricity and the previous owner left a blender. My dear homesteader and neighbor suggested to me that I just wash cut and throw the tomatoes into the blender, heat, and then can. How simple is that! Wow - no boiling the whole tomatoes, dipping in cold water, peeling the skin off, running through the food mill.

Eight quarts were canned yesterday afternoon and I have been enjoying making fresh sauce at will with the baskets of tomatoes. And there was just enough coolness in the air to use the woodstove to heat up the canning water and cook the tomatoes a bit before transferring to the stove top for the boiling time.

To make sauce:

Blend enough tomatoes (skins and all)

In a heavy large saucepan, I add olive oil and chopped onions and garlic to saute.

Next add the tomatoes. Add flour (thickener), seasoning such as basil, oregano, thyme, pepper, salt. Add some sugar to your taste. Let heat up to a soft boil and then turn down to simmer for 45 minutes. Simple and delicious!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Warm Woolies

I continually keep myself open to opportunities to serve. With six children, homeschooling, running our home-based businesses, etc... - time seems to go by much too quickly. However, I know that serving is ultimately what we are called to do.

Knitting is one of my passions and thus combining knitting and serving just seems to be a natural combination for me. Therefore, I plan to knit up some hats for this wonderful organization.

In addition, my family and I have decided to give 10% of our retail sales at Natural Earth Farm and Fiber Studio to Warm Woolies. This will help them with their shipping costs and administrative costs.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday - Baseball, Family, and Bounty

On Sunday at 1:00 pm we headed to a town a 25 minute drive away for Isaac to have another game - Fall Baseball.

Thank goodness for the younger children's sakes there was a playground within site of the game - pure joy! And I caught glimpses of the 15 and 13 year old boys enjoying some swinging time as well.

After the game we stopped for a very rare Chinese food take home.

Upon arriving home and enjoying our meal, we went for a walk to pick more of the garden's bounty.

Then to top of the day, we went out for an icecream.

Pure joy and we are so thankful.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Citar

I have decided to follow the idea of sharing a saying, quote or thought on Sundays as it is our day to set aside more time than we normally do to worship God and to be together as a family.

Thank you for this idea.

My quote this week comes from an old book that the previous owner left behind - the title of which is Praying While You Work and it is by Hubert van Zeller.

"This is the first lesson for the Christian wife and mother today: to let go of what may once have been- and under other circumstances might now be - a recollected self, and take on, with both hands, the plan of God. Indeed it is the lesson for every Christian in every age: it is the Gospel principle of dying on one plane in order to live on another."

Warm wishes and blessings,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Art Supplies for Children and a Give-Away

While we live on a low budget, but simply in our modest home with our six children, we do provide them with quality art supplies when we are able to.

Starting as early as 18 months (depending on the child), children might be interested in coloring. For this age, I offer them beeswax crayons.
Beeswax crayons do not have petroleum in them, as most of the conventional crayons do. They are resistant to breakage and they provide smooth, even surface coverage in vibrant color.

By age 4 or so, children are ready to begin molding and while we do make up our own homemade play-dough, we also enjoy using modelling beeswax. With the beeswax, you can feel the comforting, smooth texture of the beeswax as you warm it and shape it with your hands.

Beginning at the preschool age, Ferby colored pencils, the thick style, are wonderful for drawing and shading. They provide a nice layer of color without having to press down hard and have a wonderful feel with their wooden barrel.
I tend to provide plain paper much more often than coloring books in the hopes to encourage creativity. At times, however, the children do request coloring books and I do see that the coloring books help with their fine motor skills and I have showed them how to shade with crayons.

Of course, no matter how tempting it may be to have a huge variety of art supplies, it is possible to purchase a small amount to start - for example a set of 8 beeswax crayons, a set of 10 or 12 modelling beeswax, a set of 8 pencils and then the three primary colors of the beautiful stockmar watercolor paints and a quality 3/4 inch paintbrush.

There are a variety of stores to find these - Paper, Scissors, Stone, Bella Luna Toys and A Child's Dream Come True.

Hip Mountain Mama is offering a giveaway of a wonderful set of natural art supplies. To enter her drawing visit her by clicking the picture below.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blooming in September

We seem especially anxious to fill our vases with the last of the season's beauty.


Phlox, and ...

Dahlias and Zinnias

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Simple with Baby

As our family's parenting philosophy evolved to a more natural, attachment style parenting and as our concern for the environment grew and as we strived to simplify our lives, we noticed that we started letting go of more and more stuff.

With our newborns now joining us in bed, we no longer needed cribs and as they developed the ability to roll over, we made them a bedding spot on the floor for naps when I was unable to lay with them. Our most expensive item which is now being used for the third time is an Ergo baby/toddler carrier. It can be used to carry the newborn on the front and older babies up to age 3 or so, on your back. The way this carrier distributes the weight on your back makes it nearly effortless. We believe that having baby as close as possible to Mom or Dad is important.

We truly don't use any other baby devices. No rockers (except Momma and Dad), baby seats, mobiles, hanging toys for them to grab. A hand sewn quilt makes a lovely floor blanket for baby. A hand knit toy of wool for a baby to grasp or a hand cut piece of maple that has been sanded smooth to use as a teether is sufficient. Hand dyed silks provide a lovely peek-a-boo blanket and smooth texture for baby's hands. Hand knit wool balls can be stuffed lightly to provide a grasping toy.

As baby gets older to join the family at the dinner table, we simply seat baby on Mom or Dad's lap until he/she is old enough to sit up in a tall wooden high chair. We also have never used sippy cups. I found some old fashioned juice glasses made of a thick glass at a thrift shop work well and with just a very small amount of water in until they learn to drink properly are good way to start. Yes, there are many spills, but by 18 months or so, they will be doing just fine with their very own glass of juice at the breakfast table, for example.

I breastfeed our babies thus there is no need for bottles. In addition, we cloth diaper for at least the first year. Amanda Blake Soule has a new book out with nice directions about making your own. You also may be able to find some used ones to get started with.

Finally, it should go without saying, that a good quality infant car seat is an absolute must.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Simplifying with Young Children

On our journey towards a more simple lifestyle we have learned and realized what babies and young children actually "need" in terms of extras. Because we have decided to live more on less income, purchasing expensive quality toys from some of the wonderful natural toy stores has simply been out of our reach. However, there are a couple exceptions to that which I will share over the week to come.

My husband and I have been drawn to waldorf style toys made of natural materials and as we have learned more about how little children need and how simple toys encourage creative, imaginative play (which is so important in the beginning years), we began to create toys for our own children. We enjoyed making them and decided to offer them for sale to others at affordable prices for those who were not able to make their own. It is enjoyable imagining the little child that will be playing with whatever toy we are handcrafting. The additional income helps our family work from home and continue towards our goal of family and community centered living.

Why do we choose simple toys made of natural materials that are made by the hands of people, not machines? There is something inheritantly beautiful about handmade items. Knowing that an individual made something with love and care and that by supporting their family - not a corporation - brings much more joy and a pleasing feeling just when looking at that toy. For example, when a brand new stacking toy arrives at your home packaged in a big box, with a plastic front and then the pieces themselves are all plastic and you read on the bottom of the box - "Made in China" - well, there is simply little connection to that item. However, some time ago, when I ordered a beautiful wooden stacking rainbow from a work at home family, well it came in the mail with just some recycled tissue paper and paper bag packaging. The wood is so much more pleasing to touch than the plastic and knowing that it is handmade brings warm feelings upon looking at it versus the plastic set that you know was made in a factory that produces much pollution by workers that make very little and may even be required to live in very unpleasant living conditions in a country that surpresses free speech and democracy.

Well, the series to come this week will focus less on the politics of natural toys, however, and more on what has worked in our family and what items we have found useful/not useful for babies through preschool age.

Just a hint - for our last three babies, we have not used a crib, portable crib or swing. What I will be sharing is simply what we have done - I am in no way criticizing those who do use more or do buy plastic toys. I just want to share how simplifying has made a difference in our family's life as we strive to be less consumeristic and more creative.



Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Morning Sun

We have been enjoying an amazing stretch of sunny warm weather up here in the North Country. I think this must be our seventh day of sun. This follows a very rainy and cool summer. What a wonderful blessing.

I snapped this picture early this morning. The sun rises behind our pond and reflects its light on the surface.

This afternoon the six children and I are headed into town. Our oldest son is taking his driver's permit test and we will also go to the market, natural food store and fabric store. Oh and I do think we must get icecreams as well! These beautiful warm days are fleeting for sure.

And the winner is....

Joy from ! Congratulations Joy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gnome Bag Give Away and 100th Post Celebration

To celebrate my 100th post, I am offering one of my hand knit gnome rainbow gnome bags. It comes with six gnomes and a crocheted wool bag with appliqued rainbow on the front. This will be a favorite with a young child in your life. Each gnome is lovingly hand knit with wool yarn and stuffed with wool roving.

To enter, leave a comment and the drawing will be held Friday morning at 9:00 am EST.

Happy September!