Saturday, March 29, 2014

Granny Squares, Chicken Poop, and Minecraft

Adding a bit of sunshine to my days by crocheting these tiny granny squares using  wool yarn I dyed with a dye color called Sunflower.    So far this year I haven't bought any new yarn except when I met my Mom for our overnight get-away in Woodstock.

I am trying to decide if I can use up yarn I have for Nolan and Rachel's blanket or if I have to buy some yarn, or maybe both.

With the weather at least being in the 30s we are getting outside, but still not a lot to do.   I scraped the poop off the top of the chickens' boxes and then thought I might be able to clean out the coop - but having to step down two feet (because of the snow) to get in and out of the coop proved to be too much.  And then, where to put all of the compost.... do I really want to add it to the built up compost already right out side their coop?  So for now we wait and keep adding a bit of hay to the inside to keep things at least somewhat manageable inside their house.  

Inside the children are so, so into Mine Craft that I worry, talk to them about my concerns, limit it on one day, don't say anything another.  Oh, this is such a tough one for me.   The hardest part in the process of thinking it all through is that we have such a wide range of ages, Abraham at  6 being my biggest concern.  I worry about their bodies - the sitting, the staring at the screen.  Wondering if it would be better for them to have no screens so they would have to do more creative things.   But really isn't the "more creative" just my idea of creative?  I am sure they could explain how very creative  Mine Craft is and they have.    And at nearly 14 and 16, Abby and Isaac are at a place where I think they need to learn the consequences of their decisions.  Abby is wonderful at balancing her day.  Isaac would be on the computer all day if I didn't say anything, or would he?

I look forward to the weather changing when they will choose to be outside more.  First we have to get through another 10" of snow that is coming tonight and tomorrow.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

To Love

When your husband finds a lump under the skin on his breast area and when you call to make an appointment for him to have it checked out and they get you right in... (remembering that his mother had breast cancer and he spent years working with pesticides as a golf course superintendent)

When the doctor shows concern the moment he checks it out and the radiology department calls to set up an appointment for a mammogram and ultrasound even before your husband gets home from his appointment...

When the appointment is scheduled for that very same day....

Worry, sadness, fear, consumed me but there was something else, something greater that surfaced.   An acute awareness, a feeling of being so present in the very moment, of wanting to soak up every second.  Finding comfort in washing a dish, joy in playing dominoes with a two year old, not getting upset in the least when chaos erupted in the house (the usual loudness, bickering) and instead responding with a quiet kind voice...

Mike is fine - the lump turned out to be some sort of fatty deposit.  The doctor even called at 6:30 last night to reassure.  But during those few hours yesterday, while I certainly don't want to live with the worry and go through the struggle of cancer with my husband, I did get a reminder of how precious, how really precious each moment is and that the little things that irritate are really little things.  We are such a blip on the screen, really, each of us.  But, we have been given such a gift of right now - of being fully alive.

So while I pray we don't have to re-live another day like yesterday, I am also thankful for the reminder to let go of the little things and to love.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Crocheting a Wedding Blanket

(yes, Emmy is taking a picture at the same time)

So, we had some exciting news recently - Nolan (our second oldest son at 18) is engaged to his sweetheart, Rachel.  They have been best of friends for over a year and have decided that they are ready to commit their lives to one another.  On June 7th to be exact.  Pretty quick.

Rachel loves daisies so I thought I would crochet a daisy blanket.  The squares above are just some I made using yarn I had at home but  I need to decide on colors.   She also likes pink, but I am not sure if that would be a good choice for this... any suggestions?

I am finding my new book to be a truly special gift right now as our family navigates through both celebration and trial.   The author is Sister Jose Hobday who draws on her own experience growing up as a Native American Catholic in the American Southwest.    Stories of Awe and Abundance is a collection of essays on topics ranging from Native American Spirituality to living simply, women in church, and peace and justice.  Throughout the book Hobday stresses her enthusiasm for the presence of God in the ordinary.

Joining in with Ginny.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Household of Children

"For unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison."
-Teddy Roosevelt

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Feeling Full

Although the thermometer says just 18 degrees, I am thankful that the sun remembers that it is March 23rd.  The sunshine feels magnificent today as we find a little something of this and that to do outside - it is actually not easy as the snow is nearly 4 feet deep now.  So I shovel a little more here and there, empty the barn buckets that are filled when we clean out the goat barn each day, and check on all the animals.  The children bring the ducks over to the overflow and watch them swim (today they unearthed a frog from the mud and had a treat), throw snowballs, and hang out with the chickens.

While we are all ready for spring, this extended winter has given extra time for handwork and indoor projects.  Mike continues to work on the siding in the living room.  I am finishing up with painting the girls' room.

There is time to make vegetable soup and to bring a quart with our own eggs (feeling very grateful for this abundance!) to a friend that has been very sick.

Yesterday we had all of the children home.  Thomas and Sam came for a visit from college and spent the night.  It was such a feeling of fullness with tears of joy, just listening to the talking and the laughter of everyone together - feeling full of gratitude for each one of them and all of them together.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy First Day of Spring

Although it is snowing today (which it seems it often does on the first day of spring), the 
air is warm (mid 30's) and so we linger outside longer.  We can hear the birds again.  
There is an excited energy that cannot be contained.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bunny Time

Time for some bunny knitting.
The yarn is hand dyed wool of walnuts - a gift from Annie  when she and her family visited.
The pattern is from the books Natural Knits for Babies and Moms.

Are you doing any Easter or spring knitting?

Joining in with Ginny.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rewind and Play

These cold, cold days just keep on - making me feel like I am rewinding a tape and replaying it over and over.

More beef stew (today with the last of the potatoes), more knitting, and more playing in the snow.

I reluctantly checked the 10 day forecast and was once again discouraged.

One diversion today was a search for a snow covered over sized play dump truck.   
Something to bring into the house for active play.  
 We are doing our best to make the most of this unusually cold March.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Inspiration Monday

I thought that it might be nice to start each week with a little inspiration.

From the Zander's book, The Art of Possibility ~

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business.  
One sends back a telegram saying,
"Situation hopeless, no one wears shoes"

The other one writes back - 
"Glorious business opportunity, they have no shoes"

I love this!!

If you want to see a little more of Benjamin Zander, here is a wonderful

Thursday, March 13, 2014

While the Snow Fell

It snowed most of the day yesterday and very hard last night.
With one to two feet predicted, Mike decided it was time to get some more shovels in working order.
He made some handles from small maple trees.

The girls decided to have cupcake making contests.

And today, with just flurries in the air, we all got busy shoveling our very long driveway and paths to all the animals' homes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Knitting and Reading

The counter is covered with various works in progress.
I am crocheting a pair of chair cushions,
crocheting myself a new purse for an overnight trip with my Mom,
and knitting some gnomes in soft spring colors.

I was excited to find that our little library had not one, but two copies of another book by Elliott Merrick, Green Mountain Farm.  While I enjoyed, True North (also by Merrick), I am definitely not an adventurer to the extreme that the author and his wife were, so some of it was hard for me to relate to.  But, I am really loving Green Mountain Farm, about the authors experiences of buying an old farm in northern Vermont in the mid 1930s.
Here is an excerpt ~
"... there are a lot of angles to a family farm that have little connection with economics, unless you want to make your definition of economics so broad as to include snow in moonlight, blisters on palm, and laughter and icicles.  You can't really do your accounting in dollars and cents on a farm."

Joining in with Ginny.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Letting Go

I am slowly letting go of my fears and believing that each of my children have an innate desire to learn.   If I allow them to nurture their interests, at their own speed, without expectations but while still providing support and encouragement, I believe they will flourish.  I truly do.  This is not to say that I still don't worry.  I do.  But, each day as I let myself trust them more and as I stop more to listen to them - really listen - I get the joy of sharing in their interests.

Here is a quick round-up of what the older three children are currently up to:

Nolan, at 18, is applying to Christian colleges and wants to study Theology.  He reads and reads and reads some more.  He is also a musician, plays the electric guitar.  He has a sound cloud account.

Isaac is 15 and is really into computers.  He can take apart and build computers from parts he gets at recycling.  He also plays around with movie making.   Right now he is really into Minecraft and has been doing quite a bit of programming to make his own worlds and such.  Here is one of his downloaded schematics.

Abby, at 13, it also utilizing computers, specifically the internet, to even earn money doing what she enjoys.  She has figured out how to monetize her youtube channel and is awaiting her first check from google.

It is really kind of funny how our family moved to rural northern Vermont to attempt to lead a more low-tech hands-on life, but all of our children have a strong interest in high tech.   Probably not surprising at all, considering that we earn our living through online sales.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Beautiful Bright Days

Our weekend was simple, repetitive - seemingly like so many others this winter, yet full of hope. 
As the days grow longer, the sun brighter and warmer, and even
with a big snowstorm predicted on Wednesday,
we know that the earth is warming underneath and 
before long the mud will be everywhere and the 
sap will be running.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Birch Railing

Mike built us a new railing!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Potholder for a Friend

Sharing today another granny square potholder I crocheted using yarn dyed with onion skins (yellow and red).  For this one, I used an upcycled wool blanket for the inner padding and then hand dyed some of the blanket brown for the back piece.  Finally, I added one of our birch buttons.

This potholder is a gift for a friend.  A few days ago she stopped by for a quick visit and I shared that I was in  quite a bit of pain because of swelling in the far back of my mouth just beyond my last wisdom tooth.  I have a flap of skin next to the tooth  because it was a tight fit when the tooth came in and I think an infection had formed under it.

Anyway, my friend is 70 years old and many would call her a mountain woman as she lives so simply - about 1/2 of a mile winter's walk to her humble home where she has neither running water nor electricity.   Many call her strange or crazy but I love learning from her.  She is passionate about health and nutrition.

Later that evening at about 7:00 she returned with several remedies.  She brought me Celtic salt to rinse with (I just had regular sea salt which didn't seem to be working.).  She also brought some wild rice which after a night of soaking and then cooking up will promote extra chewing to get things going.  She brought some coconut oil to massage into my face, some citric acid because Vitamin C can help so much, and some flax to warm up in wool and hold onto the sore area.   What a thoughtful friend.   She still had to drive back to her home and walk another 1/2 of a mile to her home in the dark.  

(The Celtic Salt rinse seemed to work the best!)

I am still reading True North and have started reading Little Britches aloud to the children which we are all loving.

Joining in with Ginny today for the Yarn Along.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Feeding Our Families

I thought I would share a bit more of our kitchen today.
We have very little, by choice, and keep our "things" to a minimum. 
Almost all of what we have is used regularly with a few exceptions.
On our large wooden shelf we have the rest of our garlic.  There is still lots so I am using about a head a day in my cooking - so good for you.  The mixing bowls are stainless steel with one pyrex I bought at a thrift store.  They are used nearly every day for our bread and baking.

I have a small collection of cookbooks.  When I need some new inspiration, I do some searches online but am open to purchasing a new one if it is really good.  Any recommendations?  One that I have on my wish list is The Art of Fermentation.  This is something I want to become comfortable doing this summer with our produce.  To me, it is a method of preservation that makes so much sense.  The process doesn't need heat/energy to preserve and the food retains their nutrients.

We use most of these very often.  The whisk every morning to mix the yeast and sweetener for bread.  The hand beater for eggs.  The strainer for rinsing beans or wild rice.  The ice cream scoop for our once a week ice cream treat.  The bottle opener for an end of the day micro-brewed local beer.
Currently, we don't own a blender or food processor and instead use a hammer or rolling pin when we need to crush something.  But, at some point I would really like a blender for cream soups.

The play kitchen is in the kitchen.  The children recently made a batch of play cookies with home made baking clay and painted them to look like frosting.  I made a little bunting with Renee's sweet granny squares to go above it.

This is our main work space.  The stainless steel counter top was here when we bought the house.  It is nice and wide and two people can work at the same time (or more) from both sides. 
I have just a few pots and pans.   All stainless steel and a couple of cast iron skillets.

Please visit these other wonderful women who are sharing today, some aspect of how they feed
 their families ~

Melanie from Our Ash Grove

Jules from A Little Crafty Nest

Melody from Bespoke

Sarah from Our Island Home

Taisa from Small Wonders

Lisa from Hullabaloo Homestead

Heather from Shivaya Naturals

Renee from Heirloom Seasons