Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fun, Food, and Handwork

Snow playing on Thanksgiving

Eating our once a year fresh local turkey on Thanksgiving, turkey sandwiches for lunch since Thursday, and enjoying turkey soup today

Games and more games - Banagrams and Candy Land

Clementines, Smoked Salmon and Bacon that my father brought with him for his visit

Some simple, natural Christmas decorations as we transition into the Christmas season

Knitting holiday gnomes for our shop

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In the Everyday

More often than not, but especially when sadness arrives, I am brought back to the simple realities of this life I live in the northern woods with my beautiful family.

I am blessed and I am here to bless others.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So Wintry Here

Abraham was so happy that he made his first snowperson "all by myself without any help". 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This and That

 Our low-tech system of keeping track of our orders.

 A favorite meal around here.

 My new favorite pot my father found outside near his house in Massachusetts.

 Elephants that some of our children think are sooo funny... can you figure out why?

 Always this going on here.

 Our sweet fluffy man.

 Overflow from our artesian well which means we always have water (for drinking too) even when the power goes out.

Our sweet solo duck that has become our pet and follows us or the dogs around.  He actually come up on the porch and sleeps with the dogs.  We have to figure out how we will keep him warm this winter since he lost his three pals since last winter.

Natural Horsemanship for Children

Sarah brought back the evergreen after a trip with Mike to gather birch.  He accidentally knocked it over when cutting down a tree.  Sarah thought it was time to add a little green inside and I agree - but just one strand of lights and no ornaments.... yet!

When I arranged for Sarah to begin horse back riding lessons, I simply called a phone number from a flyer and figured that I would use my gut feeling after the first lesson to determine if we would continue.   I know next to nothing about horses or riding.

Well, I think that God guided us to the right place because it turns out that Sarah's instructor, Stephanie Lockhart, has created Natural Horsemanship for Children, one of the first equine programs that utilize the relationship-building skills of natural horsemanship to empower children with more authentic self-worth and compassion, as well as a stronger sense of ethics and morality.  She believes that horses can help children overcome some of society's compulsive obsessions with power, materialism and celebrity.  

There is a book coming out March 3, 2015 that is all about this amazing ability of horses to help people, Riding Home, the Power of Horses to Heal by Tim Hayes.  All pre-order proceeds will benefit Stephanie's program, Natural Horsemanship for Children.  The goal is to make the program financially available to as many children as possible.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mittens :: A Simple Pattern Using Two Needles

All of our children from about the ages of 1 - 8 or so, have preferred wearing hand knit wool mittens to the store bought variety that tend to be stiff and hard for them to maneuver their little fingers.

I just wanted to share a simple two needle mitten pattern that I have come to use:

These fit a child 2 - 4 years.

Yarn:  Peace Fleece worsted Weight
Needles:  Size 4 and 7

Starting with the Cuff:  With size 4 needles, cast on 28 stitches.  Knit for 3" in a K2, P2 repeat across each row.

Change to size 7 needles and work 2 rows in stockinette stitch.

Thumb Gusset
Row 1:  K 13, PM, KFB, K1, KFB, PM, Knit to end
Row 2:  Purl
Row 3:  K to marker, sl marker, KFB, K to one stitch before marker, KFB, sl marker, knit to end
Repeat rows 2 and 3 until you have 13 stitches between markers.
Next row:  Purl

Row 1:  Knit 26, Turn
Row 2:  Purl 5, P2tog, P6, Turn
Work 4 rows in stockinette stitch on these 12 stitches
Next Row:  K2tog 6 times
Leaving a 6" tail, cut yarn and thread tail through remaining stitches and pull tight.  Begin to stitch down side of thumb.

Top Shaping
Rejoin yarn to stitches on left needles with right side facing and knit to end.

Continue knitting in stockinette stitch until work measures 3 3/4 inches from top of cuff, ending with a Purl row.

Switch to top color if desired, leaving an 18" tail for later sewing.

Row 1:  K2, K2tog, repeat across to last stitch
Row 2:  Purl
Row 3:  Repeat Row 1
Row 4:  Purl
Row 5:  K2tog across.

Break yarn, leaving a 7" tail.  Thread yarn onto yarn needle, run needle through remaining stitches.  Pull yarn, sew up.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Moving Inward

Sometimes during the warmer days I will think to myself, "What are we ever going to do when it isn't so pleasant to be outside..."

But, little by little the inside calls us and we work on more focused activity.  Often it is handwork of one kind or another.

Emmy is in a painting phase and no matter that I try to offer her the watercolor variety, she inevitably chooses the acrylics.

Mike made some cubes for a new product and Abraham immediately related them to Minecraft and painted them accordingly.

This morning Emmy asked for purple play dough.
I make this kind using the stove top method and it keeps in an airtight container for many weeks.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 T. oil
1/2 cup salt
3 t. cream of tarter

I combine all of the ingredients on a saucepan over medium heat and stir regularly until thickens. 
(Oh my word, as I am typing this I realized I forgot the salt this morning... it still came out well but I am sure it won't keep for very long.)

I have also been downloading episodes of Popular Mechanics for Kids from youtube while I am at the library to watch with the children at home.  Abe, Sarah and Abby enjoy them.

Reading aloud has become more frequent.  I just started the original Winnie the Pooh chapter book with Abe and Emmy and since this is probably my 10th time reading it or so, the familiarity is fun!

What have you been doing inside?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Contribute Today

In the book The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander, I liked the following -

"Unlike success and failure, contribution has no other side.  It is not arrived at by 
comparison.  All at once I found that the fearful question, 'Is it enough?' and the even more fearful question, 'Am I loved for who I am,or for what I have accomplished?' could both
be replaced by the joyful question,
'How will I be a contribution today?'

In the game of contribution you wake up each day and bask in the notion that you are a gift to others."

In our little world, our family strives to operate on this plane of thinking.  Some days we accomplish this better than others.  Right now our business has slowed way down and we wonder if we can continue living this way of life or if the slow times are to instead focus on where we can contribute today.  Once I let go of the fear, I actually enjoy the challenge and it helps to ground me and helps me to focus on many of the original skills we intended to apply on a daily basis when choosing this more hand made life.

Spending more time cooking and baking. 

I am realizing how when business gets busy I slack and start relying more on purchased foods. 
Over the past week I have made two pumpkin pies, one apple pie, butternut squash soup, vegetable barley soup and so much more using mostly our own harvest.  
Instead of putting a too large in the waist pair of pants in the give-away bag, I sewed them to fit Sarah.
We are planning handmade gifts for everyone and have started many of them.
We are reading aloud to the children, playing cribbage, war, and other games.
We are painting, needle felting, knitting, and sewing.
We are working on a new chicken coop - one we can stand up in! Using rough cut lumber that was given to us.
We are connecting.

The challenge is that when our business picks up once again, we cannot let down our resolve to be conscious of our every action.  To consider every thing we purchase and to really think through what can be done with our own hands and on our own small homestead and to not get greedy with our business but to keep it in check so that we can contribute in the ways that our family finds meaning.

Saturday, November 1, 2014