Thursday, February 28, 2013

Random Happenings

Although the days are getting brighter, the sun warmer and the smell of spring is in the air, the snow continues to fall up here in northern Vermont. 

It is sticky snow now which offers so many possibilities for building and creating.

The last two days we have been enjoying a visit with cousins - good food, new recipes, laughter and games.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Knitting and Reading

Still working on the cardigan for Emmy - I am on the sleeves now and still do not enjoy working with the four needles, so it will be slow going.  My knit blanket is still progressing but I am still on the green so don't have anything new to show.  It seems that the urge to begin spring cleaning has begun.  Deep cleaning and painting have taken priority.  I think it is my inner self wanting to get the inside projects done now so I will be  ready to work outside as soon the snow melts.

I borrowed this book from the library last week and had high expectations as Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors.  I am about 100 pages or so into it, and it just hasn't "clicked in" yet.  I am not sure if it gets better or if it is just the first of her books that I am not enjoying.  I am curious to hear if anyone else has read this?

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Sweet Little Book

The older girls and I went to visit a friend on Saturday and part of the afternoon we spent thrifting together.

One of our finds was this sweet little reader that I found at a Salvation Army for 50 cents.

The author is Jean McDevitt and the illustrations are by Ninon and it was written in 1950.

Sarah read it to me over the last two days and it is a fun, simple story.  A theme that runs throughout the book is that one cannot always get what one wants.
"But Mr. Apple knew that he could not always have what he wanted.  Mrs. Apple must sometimes have what she wanted."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Making and Playing

Clay and Pencils

A horse barn made from a box.

A wood gathering sleigh made of an old pair of children's skis.

I love seeing those little legs hanging down.  She is getting so big, sitting at the big table, flipping through a book.

Sewing with fabric bought this weekend while thrifting.

While the days are getting brighter and the light longer and we are anticipating spring, the reality is that it is still winter and much of our days are still spent inside making and playing.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bunnies of Felted Sweaters and Wool

The body is sewn from a felted wool sweater and stuffed with wool.
The ears are of wool felt hand embroidered and lightly stuffed.
The carrot is also of wool felt with a crocheted top and the bunny's tail is crocheted of wool yarn into a circle and then sewn up into a ball and lightly stuffed with wool.

Fun and simple to make.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I just need to add the sleeves to this Mira sweater - pattern by The Sitting Tree.  I have been using up bit of yarn and think that I am going to use the color shown ( a beautiful hand dyed yarn from Springtree Road that  I just received in a barter) for the arms and then finish the cuff in the same dark purple as the bottom edge.  I hope it isn't too much but I am happy to be using up the yarn I have.

I borrowed these children's books from the library and just love the beautiful illustrations.   The stories are sweet as well.  The author is Paul Kortepeter and  Susan Wheeler is the illustrator.

Also, I am so glad I took Radical Homemaking off my shelf to read through again.  It is just the reminders I need as to why our family makes many of the choices we do.

"When we regain connection with all that sustains us, we regain the creative spirit.  We rediscover the joy that comes with using our hands and our minds in union to nourish, nurture, and delight in our families; we tap the source of true creative satisfaction...."
- Shannon Hayes from Radical Homemakers

What are you reading and knitting this week?

Joining in with Ginny and many others for today's Knit Along.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Goal Making and Interest Led Learning

We have been a homeschooling family now for officially over 12 years and I still find it really important to remind myself of the reasons we are learning at home.

One reason we homeschool is for the children to be able to pursue their interests - their strengths and gifts.  As Abby and Isaac enter or are in their teen years, I want them to be able to start thinking about what their goals are - for the future both far and near.   To that end, I have started to ask them to, each week, write down on a file in their laptops, their weekly goals consisting of the four areas - God, Family, Learning (their interests), and Health (active time).  

They are a bit hesitant right now, but I am hoping that this exercise will become easier with each passing week and that they begin to see even greater possibilities for themselves through the process of setting goals.

If you homeschool, do you work with your children to help them make their own goals and how has it worked for you?

Warm wishes,

Friday, February 15, 2013


I really like hearts and I think for that reason alone, I like Valentines Day.

Hearts were punched and punched some more.  Hearts became confetti and thrown by the handful over and over again.  Hearts became part of the floor for the day.

I decided to start sewing these hearts to squares from hand-me-down jeans.  These are some of the hearts that Sarah cut for me.  I think the squares will be part of  a quilt - my first.

And from my sweetheart, dark chocolate and some art supplies - just perfect.

Wishing you a weekend full of love,

Thursday, February 14, 2013


I made the mistake of letting Isaac know I had bought the cornstarch for his science experiment 
he had assigned later in the week.

Well, said cornstarch box is now empty.

All joined in from the seventeen year old down to the five year old - cornstarch and water - it changes properties from liquid to sold - truly it is fun - even when things do get a bit out of hand.

I am still finding white spots here and there today.

This was the experiment he was actually assigned to do yesterday.

Both he and I are really enjoying Exploring Creation with Physical Science.  It is a bit expensive but I think worthwhile and will be passed on to the next children in succession.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I am on my third ball of yarn for the blanket - the new color is called Phoebe from Peace Fleece.

Also just wanted to share how much I am enjoying using Melisa and Erik Nielsen's curriculum with Sarah -  A Journey Through Waldorf Homeschooling - affordable, interesting, simple to implement, and perfect for the way she learns.

I am knitting Emmy a spring sweater using a pattern from The Sitting Tree, Mira.  I think this is going to become my new favorite sweater pattern - simple yet functional.  The yarn was some from my stash.  I think it is a 75/25 blend of acrylic/wool from my local yarn shop.

The book is an Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski.  This goes against my usual calming before sleep read, but it is really good and hard to put down!  It is amazing what one person can do to change another's life and it is also sad and horrifying to think about the harsh conditions tens of thousands perhaps hundreds of thousands of the children in  this country have to endure in their daily lives, usually in the inner cities.

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

Monday, February 11, 2013


Thank you for all of the kind words and thoughts about my last post.   I guess I just wanted to share that while I mostly use this blog to share all of the blessings in my life, there are also times of struggle, as well.  I am thankful for this place and for all of the friends I have "met". 

So today I will share some of my joys - 

all these hearts Sarah cut for me - now to decide how to use them

a new branch hanger Mike made for the toys and dress-up things

the beautiful blue sky yesterday in contrast to the newly fallen snow

our skating pond and the neighbor's snow blower to clear it off this weekend

sweet curls after a bath

Warm wishes,

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Just Thinking Out Loud

Sometimes I let our family business drag me down - both when it is really busy or when it is really slow - I have nothing left to give because of being stretched too thin - my own health needs and meeting my children's needs (oh yes, I have  a husband too) - don't get the energy they deserve.  It is this lacking that has weighed me down these last months. 

Is this business really what God wants me to be doing NOW (Oh dear God I pray did you forget how I love being a homemaker and homesteader and creative crafter/artist?)   Can I really keep going trying to do it all but none of it as well as I could.

Perhaps I just put too much pressure on myself.  When the business is slow I worry about ways to get more business.  When the business is busy, I simply can't be the mother or wife I want to be as I spend hours wood burning, packaging and on the computer interacting with customers.

On the other hand, the business has provided us with a good income.  Living up here in northern Vermont, even being college educated (which really is pretty useless up here unless you are in the education or medical fields) means that if my husband was to find a job outside our home, he would probably only earn $8 - 12/hour.   So, I have to remind myself that I am contributing to our family's living.  

Perhaps it is because it is winter, I find myself feeling more isolated than ever.  Yes, I love our home, and don't need to get out all that much, but I crave more interaction with other people.  I find myself becoming discontent with our little rustic cottage four miles down a dirt road.  Wouldn't it be nice to be able to walk to the store, the library, the post office?  Actually see other human beings in addition to my own sweet family?   How does God want us to live?  How can I live my life radically for Christ when I so rarely come into contact with others? (maybe blogging is one avenue I can count for this?)

Then, I remind myself that our children are the future and that by presenting them with God's love through me (which is sometimes not one I want them to emulate - me that is -  as I fail repeatedly, but I want our children to know that through the grace of God I am forgiven and they too will be) yet I strive to live with Jesus in me - this is most important.  

Right  now I have a lot of roles to tackle in one day and how I handle the added responsibilities is also what matters.  Do I do it gracefully? Or do I complain?  Am I grateful for the business or do I grumble?   They are watching me and learning from me (for better or worse) each and every second.  Am I an example of God's love, working on dyeing to myself each and every minute - or am I presenting myself as selfish and discontent?  

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes - 
"Christ says, 'Give me all.  I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you.  I have not come to torment your natural self but to kill it.  No half-measures are any good.  I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there.  I want to have the whole tree down.  I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out.' "

Friday, February 8, 2013

Branches for Home and Business

Just a short path walk from our house are these power lines.  The electric company came through and cut down all around them.  Not only are they cutting right in our backyard, but along the roadsides
nearby as well.

So we have a new chore of dragging branches home and also gathering along the roadside using our Suburban and trailer. 

Some of the wood will be for firewood.

Some will be for making for our business.

Mike's storage system for the business.

Using the branches...
I have been busy wood burning tealight candle holders in time for Valentines Day.

Coming inside after  some wood gathering.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I am excited to be sharing my new book today that I borrowed from the library - The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch.  If you enjoy bookstores and small town living - you will love this book. 
Here is a review quote from the back -
"A delight.  With warmth and humor (Welch) shows that, even in the age of the e-reader, there is hope for books and those that love them, and that reading and bookstores still perform an important function in civic life.  Her clear prose sparkles with personality in this heartening tale of the perils and rewards of following one's dream." ~Thomas C. Foster

Nolan's girl friend (they are official now - more to come on how our family handles boy/girl relationships in another post), Rachel, made me these sweet earrings.  

I chose to use hand dyed yarn that I have had from  here for some time.  (I don't think she dyes yarn any longer)  I knit her up a scarf as a thank you.  
The pattern was - 
With size 10 needles
Worsted Weight Yarn on the lighter side
Cast on 36 stitches
Row 1:  Knit 2 tog (3 times), YO, K 1 (6 times), -Knit 2 tog (3 times),  Knit 2 tog (3 times) YO, K1 (6 times) - Knit 2 tog (3 times)
Row 2:  Knit
Row 3:  Knit
Row 4:  Purl
Repeat until desired length

Still working on my blanket - the second ball of yarn is getting smaller!

After seeing this book in several other Knit Along posts, I checked at and found a copy for a great price.  I just love it. 
There is one line in particular - where the main character, an older woman (the knitter) says more than once -
"Every question has an answer," said Babba Zarrah.  "I just have to think of it."

I believe this with all my heart.  Through prayer and perseverance, truly there is a way to solve most problems/challenges/conflicts. 

My mom, who was a single mother for much of my childhood, was such a wonderful example of this attitude.  Although we struggled financially and she at times, had to work a lot, when some kind of struggle or question would come up she would not let it get her down.  Instead her response might have been (and still is today!) - 
let's find a way to  make this work or what can we do to solve this problem, or let's look at our options 
- an attitude of hope and optimism.  
I am thankful for that kind of example.

Looking forward to joining in with Ginny and so many others at today's Yarn Along.