Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting Back into a Rhythm

The feelings of being out of balance are beginning to fade as autumn approaches.

Our daily home learning has started and while the planning and one on one time with the children takes a lot of time, I am still getting into a nice routine.

I would love to do more creative learning activities with the children but I have had to let go of that as a daily goal as I have five levels to facilitate this year plus a two year old.

My hope is that with their free time, they will engage in product, creative, self-directed pursuits.

Nolan and Thomas (our 14 and 16 year olds) spend a lot of their free time playing acoustic guitar, electric guitar and keyboard.  They write music as well and hope to perform soon.    They are glad to be learning at home and realize that it affords them the opportunity to practice for a couple of hours a day.
Warm wishes,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Handmade Holiday - 2010

Kim from Our Journey 'Round the Mulberry Bush has shared a wonderful post here - Finding What You Are Good At - and relating it to creating.

I found a post from 2009 from Emily of Watkins Every Flavor Bean, a new participant to the Handmade Holiday, sharing her handmade holiday.

Here is a picture of her little one with a stuffed owl she created.

Finally, a visitor to Plain and Joyful Living, Josie of Boys in the Woods, left a comment sharing another terrific handmade idea for teenage boys which I just love.

"The best gift I have made for a teenage boy ever was one I made for my younger brother. I found an old record, can't remember what it was, and bought a clock mechanism which I put through the middle. Hey presto, a very cool wall clock for a bedroom wall."

Please share if you have any thoughts, posts or ideas for a Handmade Holiday and again, just leave a comment if you would like to be included in the list of participants.

Thanks so much and warm wishes,

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lilla Cabot Perry

A devoted mother of three daughters, Lilla Cabot Perry (1848 - 1933), received her first formal art training at the age of 36.

I am delighted to be researching and enjoying this artist's life and works, specifically how she combined her duties as mother, wife and homemaker while at the same time nurturing her gift as artist.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Friday, August 27, 2010

Morning Joy

Abraham is usually the first to join Mike and I in the morning. We enjoy this time with "just" him before the others awaken.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Simple Joy

We are enjoying the bounty of beautiful apples from our own trees and from the old trees along our rural roads. Even the smallest of apples are eagerly picked and eaten in our house. God is good.
Are you picking apples where you are?
Warm wishes, Tonya

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pulling Reeds

Nolan has been wading into the pond with rain pants tied with rope over his rubber boots to pull up our reeds.

We are doing this because we have leaches and we would love to clean the pond up to swim in some day, but even more importantly to increase our ice skating space for the long winter ahead.

Thomas and Sarah were helping by dragging the pulled reeds to a pile by the woods. Of course the mud that comes up with the roots is the really good black stuff and they could not help themselves but to have a little fun.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Handmade Holiday

I finished a hat for Sarah with the same wool blend yarn that I knit her these simple tube socks for Sarah.

It is knit by casting 80 stitches on size 6 needles - the first inch and a half are a knit two purl two ribbing and then knit in stockinette stitch for six inches - then decreasing by knit 8, knit two together across the row. The next row purl across, then knit 7, knit two together across row. Next row purl. Continue decreasing and finish off. Sew back seam.

Also, I am working on this candle mat - it is of a felted recycled sweater and pieces of wool felt scraps. It is a work in progress and I will post a picture when it is finished.

Looking through the blogs of those joining in with the Handmade Holiday, I found these wonderful ideas ~

Please share what you are working on and your plans.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Friday, August 20, 2010

Make Your Own See Saw

After being inspired by this project in The Children's Year, my husband built this last evening in under an hour using found materials.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Violas and Birch

It has been lots of fun collecting these flowers with Sarah. And then as Isaac suggested (my 12 year old) - we put them in our big heavy dictionary on the same page as the entry for "flower" so that we can easily find them two days later.

We have been using branch slices to make tags, ornaments and these hangers with them. Thus far, I have used Modge Podge to adhere them and cover them.

We are also going to make birch bark bookmarks with the flowers on them for gifts as well.

Warm wishes,
(Thank you for all the encouraging words. I will write more about that soon.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quiet Reflection

I don't know if it is my nearly 41 year old self realizing that I am just about middle aged now; I don't know if it just that there is too much in my head; perhaps it is the pressure of much of our family's income reliant on my using the computer to sell our handwork. Whatever, "it" is, I am may never know. What I do know, however, is that I need to spend time in quiet reflection, waiting on God to make it evident what (if anything at all), I must let go of, or if I just need to be better organized, or maybe (this really could be it), I need to get my priorities in order so that all else will fall into place. This unsettled feeling inside me has been distracting and this simple life just doesn't feel so simple right now.
Thank you to all the readers here for your kind words and sharing.

The Handmade Holiday will be back next Monday.

Warm wishes for your week.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Theater, Fairs, and Family

This weekend is going to be very full for us.

Our oldest, Thomas, is involved with a local theater company, QNEK, and they are performing Curtains over the next two weekends.

Thus, we have two different sets of parents coming up this weekend - my father and his girlfriend as well as my father-in-law and his wife. Next weekend we have my mother and step-father and my "brother" and his wife visiting and to see the show.

For this weekend, most of the food preparations were completed today - a quiche, breads and cookies baked and preparations to make another blackberry pie.

In addition, we have our first two fairs this summer. I have been gathering the inventory we will be bringing, labeling it and putting it all out on a shelf on our porch to be packed up first thing in the morning.

Abby is preparing as well. I took this picture of her gnomes that she has set up on her desk to sell at the fair.

In between it all, I am excited to spend time with family and prepare lots of delicious foods, share in my son's excitement for his achievements, and meet new people while sharing our family's creations.

Wishing all of you a beautiful weekend.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just Love Seeing ...

My ten year old daughter sewing up some mini-bean bags for a bean bag toss board she made.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Organizing and Planning for the Home Learning Year

This year we have the following grades - first, fifth, seventh, ninth and eleventh.

To start I first have to pull apart and go through all of the materials that we currently have and organize and purge them.

My father scooped up this wonderful wooden unit for us that was left on the side of the road for the taking in Massachusetts and brought it up with him on his last visit.

(all of these pictures were taken before I tackled this...)

This will be the main storage unit for each of the children's core materials with each child having a shelf.

While going through everything, I moved this big white shelf upstairs and this shelf from the living room to the upstairs hallway as well.

Now the upstairs hall is our "library". The large white shelf is for the nonfiction books and I have arranged them by history, poetry, arts/crafts/music, and science. One shelf is picture books and the third is fiction with one shelf for my reference books (spiritual/homeschooling/homemaking).

This is the start and now I am seeking and praying for guidance as I plan their course of studies over the next two weeks.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Handmade Holiday

I have several projects to share today.

The first is a very simple playing card holder. I knit mine with worsted weight yarn and size 6 needles, cast on 14 stitches and knit every row until rectangle measured 9 1/2 stitches. Cast off.

Then I chose to personalize it by needlefelting the recipient's name. Be sure to do this before you stitch up the sides. Then you could either finish it by crocheting the edges or by hand sewing (the blanket stitch would look nice). I added a loop to attach a handmade button. This would also make a good project for children to make.

I will be making one for each member of our family except Abraham as finding a full deck of cards in our home seems to always be a challenge.

And now some ideas from others~

First, this pattern from Joy - A Play Knife Sheath.

And this wonderful post from Our Journey 'Round the Mulberry Bush about their whole family working together to make a Handmade Holiday.

Here is a tutorial to sew up some cloth napkins using your scraps.

Also, tote bags make a wonderful gift for nearly everyone on your list. With people more thoughtful about caring for the earth, a reusable and washable cloth bag would be a practical gift.

Here is a link for one pattern.

Here is a tutorial for some very simple, smaller bags. These would also be a great alternative to gift wrap.

Here is the page at this blog for the Handmade Holiday - be sure to visit the participating blogs and if you would like to be added or if your link isn't working, just let me know.

Please share in the comments your ideas and links or email me this week. (naturalearthfarm@netzero.net)

Warm wishes, Tonya

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Simplicity of the Amish

~photos from The Amish Cook by Elizabeth Coblentz with Keven Williams~

In the early years of learning about living a simpler life, homesteading, researching about intentional communities and living off-grid, I was re-introduced to the Amish.

For the last ten years I have read quite a bit about their way of life and have grown to admire them for many reasons.

Without relying on the government, it is easier to live a life of faith

With a strong faith to guide them, they have fewer choices

With fewer choices, life is simpler

Surely the Amish must face many challenges and struggles, but if music and art were allowed and they had a community in New England, it is certainly one we would have considered. Their sense of community is amazing and their commitment to peace and practicing forgiveness stand out to me. There is much we can learn from them.

Warm wishes for a wonderful weekend. I will be back on Monday sharing lots for a Handmade Holiday.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Joy in the Small Things

Throughtout each day I work hard to cultivate my joy, which comes only from God within me, and is nurtured by taking note of all the gifts of beauty that I come across during my daily repetitive work and this joy gives me strength to get through even the hardest times.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Canning - Pungent Green Beans

This is my favorite canning recipe for beans. We are picking a good size basketful nearly every day, even in our small garden.

Trimming and cutting the beans can be the most tedious part of the job. Here is Sarah and Abe helping. Sarah actually cut all of the beans without stopping. She is such a joy to have in the kitchen. I gave Abe his own bowl, butter knife and he cut about two beans into 1/4 inch long pieces and then he was bored, but happy to have "helped".

Yesterday morning, I canned 3 quarts of beans, 6 cups of blackberry jam, baked some zucchini bread and wheat bread - all before lunch. I sure was happy to step outside that afternoon!

~I also grow larkspur to dry and have been picking a bunch each day.~

Here is the recipe for Pungent Green Beans ~

It uses a boiling water bath canner; yields 3 quarts~

3 - 4 pounds green beans, washed and trimmed
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water
3 cups white wine vinegar (I used 1 cup white wine vinegar, and 2 cups plain vinegar to save money)
3/4 cup sugar
1 T. celery salt
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper.

1. Cut the beans to a uniform size - about 2 1/2 inches long is good.
2. Cook the beans in boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes.
3. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until soft.
4. Add the water, vinegar, sugar, celery salt, salt, pepper to the onion mixture and boil until the sugar has dissolved.
5. Add the beans and boil in the vinegar mixture for 2 minutes.
6. Ladle into hot, clean jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
7. Seal and process in a boiling-water-bath canner for 15 minutes.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Monday, August 2, 2010

Handmade Holiday - 2010

I know it can be hard to be thinking of our Christmas gifts in the midst of summer - this is what we were doing yesterday ~

But, it is August already and I don't know about you, but each day passes so quickly for me.

I have been working on two projects this past week, both for my younger children.

At my local yarn shop, I saw this simple finished sock and was so excited to learn that I could knit socks without trying to manage four needles at once.

These are knit with a 2 x 2 ribbing - for my six year old daughter with small feet (about size 11/12), I cast on 16 stitches and knit a knit 2, purl 2 ribbing for the total length of the sock. It will be folded in half.
After done knitting two lengths, sew up the sides and toe with the blanket stitch. I added a little extra stitch on each side of the toe end as I was stitching, but that is all! Nothing fancy for sure, but a warm sock nonetheless.

Also, I found this adorable free crocheted vegetable pattern online and have been working on these.

Finally, I am continuing to find my Holiday Journal priceless. It has been so wonderful to put all of my thoughts down on paper instead of trying to keep it all scrambled up in my head.

How are your Handmade Holiday plans progressing?

Warm wishes, Tonya