Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Our two oldest are heading out tomorrow morning for ten days. They are attending a Christian Youth Conference in Kentucky. They are driving down with the leaders.
I am busy making them some muffins and chocolate chip cookies for their trip and gathering together their toiletry bag. They have only been away with their Poppa before for this length of time. I know they'll do fine, but I will certainly miss them.

Today I went into town to go to the Natural Foods Store, the Market, and the Thrift Shops. I try to only make the trip every two to three weeks even though it is just 25 minutes away. Shopping just takes up so much of a day, such precious time.
Had some great finds today - vintage pillowcases and children's books; shear curtains with calico blue stars appliqued on them (to brighten up our living room for the summer); jeans and a dress shirt for our sixteen year old son; shorts and shirt for our fourteen year old; sandals and two pairs of pants for Abraham; a skirt and top for me; and a throw rug for under the kitchen sink (to replace our terribly worn one which will now go out to the porch). All for $21.50!

I have been thinking lots about this post here. It is about stuff and how most of us simply have too much of it.

I have been smiling about ~

:: Sarah saying she is finger knitting yarn to sell in her own etsy shop

:: Day lilies blooming all around the pond

:: Frogs and chickens invading our home (I didn't snap a picture of any of the chickens - too busy trying to shoo them out.)

:: This cute curl growing longer

:: Finishing the day with my daughter, Abby, enjoying some cribbage and beginning the next book in the Little House Series, The Long Winter, while the rest of the family is off to Thomas' theater rehearsal. They are enjoying the nearby playground while Thomas is practicing and will be home later tonight.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Handwork Projects for our Shop

We have been working on some new fun products for our shop ~

Here are some birch bark napkin ring holders with a love bird stamp that we ordered from here.

They make a nice accessory for weddings or anniversary celebrations.

I have added a needle felted rainbow to my knit gnomes ~

Having lots of fun crocheting wool stars....

Created this star wand with a birch branch stick~

In the works....

Big plans for these flat bottomed branch pieces ~

Another knit doll with a new twist planned ~

Also, I have been imagining the formation of a supportive group committing themselves to a handmade Christmas or Holiday Season. The first goal would be to make as much as you can yourself and then buy the rest from small home based businesses and to keep it simple ~ with the title ~ A Handmade Holiday. Thus far, I have thought of creating a separate page here on the blog to provide links to all the other blogs involved and designing a button that could be shared.

I look forward to reading your thoughts.
Warm wishes, Tonya

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bringing Beauty Inside

Today I walked around outside gathering three bouquets as the previous ones were faded.
These for our our dining table.

~the pink wildflowers are musk mallows~

~day lilies for the kitchen windowsill~

~daisies for the bathroom~

There is so much joy in gathering these with my younger children with scissors in hands on this beautiful summer day; bringing beauty from outside - in.
Later, as I walk through our little rustic cottage I smile as admire each beautiful bouquet. I am reminded of God's amazing creation.

What are you gathering, picking, cutting and bringing into your home to admire and enjoy?
Warm wishes, Tonya

(Also, if you have a moment, consider entering a giveaway at the Natural Kids Blog, for a handmade wool crown. I am honored to be a member of this creative and talented Etsy team.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thinning, Weeding, and a Mystery Plant

One garden job I am not particularly fond of is thinning. I am not sure if it is because it is tedious. But probably not, as I enjoy many forms of tedious handwork such as embroidery and knitting. Perhaps I don't enjoy it because I have to make constant decisions; shall this plant stay or go, how far apart shall I leave the little shoots, and the big one ~ each plant I pull means certain death. Now that last reason truly doesn't make a lot of sense because we are growing the vegetables to eat anyway right? But in another way I am denying that little plant the opportunity to become all it can be. Oh, probably I am philosophizing way too much about these little plants of mine.

I have been enjoying having the littles in the garden with me this year. Even Abraham, at two, seems to understand which plant to weed and which to let grow to provide food for us.
After some quick instruction by his sister Sarah, who is the supreme weeder in our family, he has been doing a terrific job of weeding.

Finally, we brought in many truck fulls (read moving back seat forward in our old Suburban, putting a tarp down and piling the compost on top of the tarp) of beautiful composted manure - wonderful black stuff. Well several weeks ago I noticed something from the squash family growing in the middle of my unplanted garden. I just knew it was meant to be there and there was no way I would pull it out.

This is what it looks like now, but it is still a mystery... such fun to wait and see what it will produce.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Painting with Sarah

With Abraham napping and big sister, Abby, camping with grandparents, I offered to take out the acrylic paints for Sarah and I to do some painting.

Remembering some old calenders that had been given to us, I took one out with some simple and abstract paintings.

I told her she certainly didn't need to copy any of the pictures, but perhaps she would like to look through it for inspiration.

As she worked, I sat down with her and painted some birch branch pieces to make into simple children's necklaces.

It was so nice to enjoy these precious moments of one on one time that are rare in our home.

Warm wishes for a beautiful day with your families,

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

While we are not vegan, I came across this recipe that my neighbor had copied onto a 3 x 5 card for me. I needed a cookie recipe that didn't require butter or eggs because we were out of both. (Our chickens have been on a short egg-free holiday but seem to be producing again).

They are delicious.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups of flour (I used 1/2 cup oat flour, 1 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup unbleached white)
2/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup oil (I used 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup maple syrup)
4 teaspoons flaxmeal
1/2 cup soymilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup walnuts (if desired)

Combine all ingredients and stir well.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 - 14 minutes.

Warm wishes,

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sundays Treats

To celebrate Fathers Day with my husband, I made three yummy meals and for the evening dessert, chocolate cake.

Grandma's Chocolate Cake

Mix up 2 eggs, 3/4 cup oil, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup

Add 2 cups flour (I use white, whole wheat and millet flours), 1/2 cup cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup boiling water.

Mix well.
Pour into greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes in a bundt pan. 25 minutes if using two circle pans.

(My own father lives about 4 hours away, so I was not able to see him.)

Abby made some delicious fresh mint ice tea by simply pouring hot water over the mint leaves in a mason jar. She let it cool a bit, and then put the jar in the refrigerator. The tea was very good. We would have normally put the jar in the sun for the day, but it was cloudy and stormy off and on all day.

We had hoped to go for a hike in quest of a letterbox but the storms kept us inside.

Here is Mike ending the day reading to the two young ones.

Finally, I want to share with you the difference between a store bought egg and a free range egg (our own). It is worth it to buy local, fresh, preferably free-range, eggs if you can. And please if it is truly not a hardship, don't fret over the dollar or two difference compared to factory produced eggs. So much better for you and the chickens.

Happy Summer and wishing you a beautiful day.
Warm wishes, Tonya

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Father

I have a wonderful father. At just 60 years old, I realize what a blessing it is now to have such a young father.

He is thoughtful. Much of our home is filled with gently used pieces that he has picked up from friends or people he does work for. He is a carpenter by trade.

He loves being a grandfather and has devoted so much of himself to our children.

I am thankful that he has exposed our children to events and brought them places that we could not afford to. For example, Broadway shows, Red Sox games, trips to Florida, New York City, and Washington D.C.

Thank you Dad for your unconditional love and for loving each of our children so much - all six of them. Happy Fathers Day.

Love, Tonya

Friday, June 18, 2010


Living how we choose to live, while not nearly as plain and nonconformist as others, still makes us different from the majority of Americans. We stand out. We endure questions and questioning remarks. We are sometimes left out. We often choose to be left out.

Generally, we live quietly yet purposefully; not choosing to put others down or to criticize others for their choices. Our deliberate life will speak for itself.

There are, however, times when our voice should be heard.

I really like the following quote ~

"Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker.
Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy.
Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity.
And on issues that seem important to you,
stand up and be counted at any cost."
~ Thomas J. Watson (1874 - 1956)

Warm wishes, Tonya

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Ten Years Abby

Our Abby turned 10 yesterday. She is such a beautiful daughter, wonderful sister, very creative and artistic, an excellent baker, quiet and thoughtful.

She began her day with her father taking her out to breakfast. This is how each of our children begins their birthday morning.

I decorated simply with a newly sewed banner and table quilt.

and sewed some goody bags which contained a lollipop, mints and a hand sewn ball filled with beans.

In the afternoon she had three friends over and with our family of eight - made a nice number of people.

They had an outdoor scavenger hunt that Abby made up: 4 different kinds of leaves, 2 different wildflowers, 2 feathers, 10 rocks, run and get your color flag at the end of the driveway, 50 pine needles, 10 ferns, 15 twigs.

She made a "Guess How Many Beans" jar.

Abby made and frosted her own cupcakes.

A simple birthday that I hope was filled with joy for you dear Abby. We love you.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Homestead Updates

Here are some pictures I snapped as I walked around our little homestead Sunday afternoon.

~small front garden, eating lettuce, scallions, parsley, and chives~

~ back garden, planted 6 pepper plants from our local organic farm and they have blossoms on them (can't wait!), lots of beans coming up, more lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, summer squash, onions ~

~ I dug up a small amount in a third garden area and planted potato starts that a friend dropped off. I also planted some in four more tire set-ups. So far the potatoes I planted several weeks ago in the tires, are growing really well. ~

~ Just on the outside of the new garden area is a walking stump row and a little sand box. ~

~ I spotted this little cutie just outside a garden area. He dressed himself after coming inside from running around in the buff just a short time before. We all know when it gets warmer out because Abraham takes all his clothes off. ~

~ Mike finished the log railing. ~

Warm wishes, Tonya

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Quaker Meeting

We had our first Quaker Meeting this morning at our home. With the size of our family and without a dedicated Meeting House within a 45 minute drive, we asked the other family who was previously hosting Meeting, if we could start holding it at our house so that it would be more conducive for the children as well as start meeting every Sunday.

For our Meeting we have decided to have the first 30 minutes in silent worship where those who feel led are welcome to share. For the most part it is a time to quiet oneself and to be filled with the Lord. The next 30 minutes we will discuss a topic, share a Bible verse or other meaningful verse, and sing. It was really fun to sing with our boys playing the guitar and keyboard. We sang Jacobs Ladder and Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

On the homestead - the chicken that Sarah nursed is 100% and so much so that we can't pick her out of the flock. I have lots of pictures to share tomorrow as I walked around snapping photos this evening.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Friday, June 11, 2010

For the Care and Love of a Chicken

Sarah, our 6 year old daughter is our chicken keeper - she always has been. At two years old she would carry the girls around, talk to them, scold them when they picked on another chicken.

Her love for her dear chickens was expressed more than ever the day before yesterday as she cared for a sick chicken.

When I went outside she walked towards me carrying this ~

Tears streamed down my cheeks as my heart melted as I reflected on her tenderness and care.

I thought for sure that this chicken would be dying within hours as she could barely keep her eyes open. Sarah brought her on the porch and spoon fed her milk and then we gave her a bit of oil and rubbed her neck in case she had something stuck in her throat.

We prayed and talked about God's plan for the chicken and that she may be ready to die.

She continued to massage her neck and fed her and let her sleep off and on throughout the afternoon. By the next morning the chicken was up on its feet and seemingly better; not 100% but truly better.

Thank you Sarah for taking the time to care for this chicken. I know she wasn't one of your favorite ones that you had named, but just the same you taught us that it is important never to give up and with a little love and care anything is possible.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rhubarb Sauce

This sauce is a bit tart but oh so yummy on cakes and pancakes.

Cut up the rhubarb into 1/2 inch slices or so.

~Sarah chopping the rhubarb.~

We ended up with about 5 cups of sliced rhubarb. Place in saucepan and add 3 T. honey and 3 T. sugar. (We had brown sugar.) Cook over medium heat, when it starts boiling, turn it down low and take the cover off to let some of the water cook off. (You don't need to add any water.)

~I pour it into a canning jar and store in the refrigerator just like I would applesauce.~

That's it. So simple and so yummy!
What are you harvesting and cooking or baking from what is available now?
Warm wishes, Tonya