impossibleway: (Children of the Forest)
If schools have snow days, we have sun days. There is a day every couple weeks (right now) that is just so nice that we can't bear to be inside. The children head out right after breakfast and my to-do list seems monumental, so it's time to call a Sun Day.  Yesterday was supposed to be sunny and warm, but that passed us by, or we just got the edge of the good weather.  All the same, the shorts came out and we spent time in the yard working on our little projects.  Today, the car is getting new brakes and the weather is turning wild and cold--time to stay in and do lessons!

Field of Violets

It's violet time.  So, so many violets.  We could pick all day long and never get done.

Violets

We all picked a quart for some violet syrup for sodas.

Blue

It's funny to think of violets as being blue, but there it is.
It will all turn pinky-purple when I add some lemon juice.

Hugelstarting

I got a solid start on my firt hugelkultur bed.  And a tick, but it didn't bite me.
That's what you get moving old wood around.

The Herbalists

We are all so excited lately--all the weeds growing, the "medicines" to make, the seeds waiting, the new treasures we find each day.  Laurel found the first morels yesterday, so we gave them to Carrie.  She was astounded at the violets we have across the street.  She kept offering some to us, but then she saw ours!  We are well-supplied.

I am feeling better about some projects, getting clarity on others--just household and yard things.  I'm going to dismantle an old raised bed that has filled with grass and add it to my mowing routine, along with the old pumpkin patch that now surrounds the apple and fig trees.  The old stone border now makes up the edges of at least one hugelkultur bed, though I have enough giant logs and old wood to make another one.  The leaves and straw that protected the fig trees all Winter will go onto the new beds.  It's nice to be able to begin a project with all the supplies on-site.

Well, breakfast!  Happy Thursday!
impossibleway: (The Flower Picker)
The days are full of time outside right now.  After breakfast to before bedtime, folks are heading outside.  We're in for most meals, school time, and quiet time.  The weather really is perfect right now, the kind I always dream of for Autumn.   Rain comes every few days, it's not too hot, but you can also cool off easily.  Just so nice.

While the trees are mostly bare, all the Spring bulbs are putting on a show.  Tulips are starting to bloom and grape hyacinths are delivered to me with great regularity.  I have two vases overflowing right now, along with a full size hyacinth that Laurel picked (eek!).  It all smells so sweet.  It is a little strange to have all this blossoming life right now, several weeks ahead of what we are accustomed to, but I am trying to embrace it.  What else is there to do?

BouquetEveryone is sleeping a full eleven hours each night, and Laurel is still napping.  All the fresh air (and mud and sand) is doing wonders, I guess.  Willow has some sniffles, but they may be due to her nine year change.  I remember well the many complaints she had during the six year change, and I think this may be quite a lot like that.  A cold just a month after having had the last one is record-breaking for this at-home family.  We've got kefir and various other things to help us along, so it will pass and we'll feel thankful for the chance to slow down.

We got a new floor in the kitchen this week, wood-grain vinyl.  There's hardwood underneath all that, but we'll save that job for a time when there aren't galloping children in the house.  We'll probably be ready for a full-scale refinishing of all the floors then.  It is so nice to have a new floor--one without gouge marks and floral prints (as much as I love them on fabrics).  In this way, the kitchen got a good Spring clean, since it is such a hard-working space.  Mike put up a new mailbox, too, and I've got a ceiling fan waiting to go into the kitchen. I am hopeful it will make the Summer canning much more comfortable.

There is a lot to be hopeful about these days, with Spring in the air and all the waiting garden seeds.  I'm planning on building a hugelkultur bed or two with some of the rotten wood, leaves, straw and rocks we have.  While the stars have yet to align for us to have chickens (and I'm getting stage fright), this project seems to be a good fit.  I have all the supplies ready and waiting.  If any of you have done this, let me know.  I'd love to hear.  Carrie is working on her own beds, too.

School planning has been happening, as well, the third grade year writing itself out in my mind.  Gardening and fiber crafts are surely going to be at the heart of Willow's turn.  In that way, I suppose we'll get an early start.  It's going to be new terrain, in many ways, though some things will be revisited in a new way.  Enki covers some language arts skills that I see will come up in the materials from Christopherus next year.  I do like the idea of each child having their own experience of each grade.  Roan, I think, will do more building in grade three, though time will tell.

Well, I think folks are waking up, so it's time to mix up breakfast!
impossibleway: (The Flower Picker)
Violet wake up
Spring is coming, spring is coming
VIolet, wake up
Spring is coming here!


~Enki Grade One Movement


Spring is such a full time, after the long wait of Winter. Right now, I have many plans swirling in my mind--planning for chickens (real ones!), plants to get into the ground, seeds to sow, soil to amend, a bed to build, hugelkultur, more Spring cleaning, brush piles to move. . . For a week or two, what's happening here at home needs to take priority over what's happening in the woods.  Spring happens in the forest near the middle of April, so I'll take a pass to enjoy what's happening here at home where the sunshine has warmed the soil.  This is nature, too!

Violets

First up, violets.  Violets!  They're just starting to bloom, so the children were happy to pick jars full and pour honey over the top.  They really enjoy Susun Weed and were inspired to make their own.  We've made violet jelly in previous years, so we thought we'd do something new this year.  Violet honey for sore throats makes colds sound more pleasant, right?

Dandelions

Willow wanted to make dandelion vinegar, too, so we prepared a small jar, enough for a batch of salad dressing on that first lettuce.  When I told her she'd actually have to try the vinegar, she acted a little surprised!  Not the most adventurous eater, she will eat salads, so I am hopeful.  Willow really loves to pretend to be an herbalist and will spend long periods making various concoctions. I think it is meaningful to use this enthusiam to really make things the family can use.  Children love knowing they are doing something real, as much as they love to pretend.

Our little projects will be ready to strain on Roan's birthday, which is often a celebration of the season's best.  Spring is at its height around his birthday and May Day, and we often have vases of flowers from our yard on the table.  I really love the timing of my children's birthdays, honestly, so near to times of the year that are significant to me.  Roan wastes no time reminding us that his is coming soon (just five weeks!). 
impossibleway: (Winter Fields)
It's been snowing and blowing all day, but not doing very much in the way of sticking. The ground is just too warm down in our valley, I guess. We still have the same amount we had this morning!  That's okay.  We took advantage of the warmish roads and drove up to the Snail Place to see the snow and rime ice.  How pretty it was!  I can't help but put some snow photos in with the knitting, can I?  It's been very nearly a month since our last real taste of Winter.

Blueberries in Bed

Here are the blueberries, all tucked under some sheets.
Crafting covers that won't blow off certainly counts, right?
I think I finally got my technique figured out!

Snowy Trees

And King Winter showed off his handiwork to us, as you can see.
I just love it when the trees are all covered in whiteness, such a brief miracle.

Snail Place

And here's the road to our den, all cold and windy.  SO COLD!
It was foggy, too, and you couldn't see a thing down in the valley.

Rime Ice

I really love rime ice so much.  It always brings me such pure joy.

Water Bottle Carrier

Okay, now the knitting.

Here is Waldorf Mama's water bottle carrier.  I admired those years ago and finally made one.  This is Wool of the Andes, scraps from pilot caps I made Willow and Roan, and it felted very well.  You can find my notes here--I did knit it flat, instead of in the round.

Little Spare Time

And this is the Little Spare Time Sweater, that I am calling the "Greenwood Sweater."  It's certainly cheery for St. Patrick's Day, though I doubt I have enough "spare time" to finish it by then.  Then again, it's going to be even colder tomorrow. . .

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.
impossibleway: (Spring in the Stream)
Crocuses

I had the garden annex plowed day before yesterday.  The man with the tractor was in the next yard, so I asked him to come over.  He'll be back in a month or so to till it all with a big tiller.  It will be a funny thing to work in a real plowed garden.  Last year, the valiant efforts at rototilling mainly scratched at the soil, so that we were fighting weeds the whole Summer.  The soil was looser than usual, but still hard to work.  I've got plans for a fair amount of potatoes, a few rows of corn, more cucumbers, and a good fence.  It may be that I'll plant pumpkins over there again, in a different spot.  I'm really excited at the prospect of another gardening season.

The daffodils are blooming, along with the crocuses.  Earlier in the week, we passed a yard that was absolutely full of them.  I'm not sure how the people managed to get quite so many, unless they spread readily.  Willows are leafing out here and some trees are in bloom, though not the fruit trees.  While it will be quite warm today, twenty degrees above average, there's cold and snow in the forecast for tomorrow night.  I'm hoping that will be the warning the trees need to hold back a bit longer.  I'm prepared with lots of sheets, if the blueberries get ahead of schedule.

We're spending lots of time outside, of course, working over at the Roland Estate on much-needed pruning.  We've also been preparing our own garden soil for planting, fluffing peat while the sun shines.  It has been so helpful to the children, just what we all need right now.  My mind is a mess these days--what a strange time to live on this Earth.  I suppose people have been saying that since the beginning of time, though. 
impossibleway: (Peace & Joy)
"To insure the fruit trees did produce a good crop, it was the custom to toast or bless them on Old Christmas, or Twelfth Night.  Armed with a jug or a pitcher of cider or some other drink, the men would visit each tree in the orchard and drink the following toast:

Here's to the fruit tree
May you grow and bear fruit.
A hat full, a bag full,
A basket full and some to spare.

If the orchard happened to be fairly large, the men often found it difficult to reach the house after such a blessing ceremony. . ."

~ Christmas in the Mountains: Southwest Virginia Christmas Customs and their Origins :: Hubert J. Davis

Wassailing 1

Wassailing 2

Wassailing 3

Wassailing 4

I have to chuckle at that description of wassailing. The book goes on to described the way people wassailed apple trees back home in Somserset and Devon in England, where these traditions began. Sometimes, bread was soaked in the wassail and hung on the trees.  Loud songs were sung and shouted and people danced around the trees.  Our celebration did involve some singing and little climbing in place of the dancing.  You can tell that most of the trees are quite old, and may not even make it beyond this year.  Laurel took care of the youngest trees, the ones in our yard.  We are hoping for a big harvest this year, since last year was not so big.  We mourned the loss of a couple trees, one that was particularly good at bearing consistently (and cut down for that reason!), and we planted an Early Transparent a few weeks ago with hope for the future.

Here's the verse we used, from Sparkle Stories, and here are some more.  There are many to choose from!

Old apple tree, old apple tree,
We've come to sing to thee!
To bear and to bow,
Apples now!

Hats full, caps full,
Three bushel bags full,
Barn doors full,
And a little heap under the stairs.


And so it is that Christmas goes out.  Today, we take down the tree and welcome in King Winter.  There's awhile, I think, where having the tree up after Christmas feels silly, but we keep it for tradition.  Then, when it's time to take it down, it feels a little sad.  We're enjoying watching it twinkle one last dark Winter morning, before we send it back outside.  We've got a dusting of snow today and some in the forecast!

Twelfth Night
impossibleway: (The Flower Picker)
November Roses

The year of the roses continues, in spite of the page on the calendar.
impossibleway: (Ranger Brandy)
Bonfire Picnic


We had a little bonfire last night, made up of all the squash vines and old straw and tomato plants.  It was our way of closing up the bulk of the garden for the year, since we had our first frost on Monday.  There are still a few tomatoes around, but the shorter, cooler days mean they are ripening at a snail's pace.  Our meal was pesto pasta with cherry tomatoes, avocado, and monterey jack cubes.  Cranberries have appeared at the local grocery store, so I made some sauce for the freezer and we had some to eat.  I've canned cranberry sauce in the past, but I am done with the canner for awhile.  We eat a lot of cranberry sauce around here.  I laughed when I saw a Thanksgiving television special where they called it a condiment.

Armed with a pitchfork and a hose, we had our little fire.  It was more of a smolder, but the children were quite excited.  Willow danced through the smoke and Roan had a fine time as "Fire Chief."  Laurel found the last of the red raspberries.  This was all part of our Work Day, which is going quite well.  When I mentioned missing a work day recently, the children were very vocal about not missing it.  I have to say that really, really sticking with our weekly rhythm is a great motivator for them.  And it's fairly easy for me, since it means I just have to follow it to make it work.  Today is Baking Day and I know I'll have no complaints there.
impossibleway: (Goldenrod Trailhead)
I had a hard time knowing what to choose this morning--nature school, gardening or school planning.  But, really, sunflowers.  These aren't quite as big as the Sunflowers of 2013, but that's okay.  They've done really well, despite the dry weather and heat, and I know we'll enjoy them, anyway (as will the birds!).  Insects have been resting up near the blooms.  Forgive me for not knowing why exactly, but it's kind of like they are lounging by a pool.  Maybe they are looking to munch on unsuspecting pollinators.  Oh, well, happier things.  Sunflowers.

2016 Sunflowers

Waiting

Done
impossibleway: (Tulip Tree in the Hemlock)
The Harvest

It pleasures her to gather
A hoard when autumn comes:
Of grapes in scroll-worked silver,
Red-streaked-with-amber plums,
Winesaps and seek-no-farthers,
Green peppers, russet pears,
White roastin'-ears for drying
On frames above the stairs,
Queer handled gourds for dishes
And dippers at the spring,
Long butternuts, fat pumpkins,
Cream-colored beans to string,
Wild meats to jerk and pickle,
Brown chestnuts tipped with cold,
Cranberries from the marshes,
Tree honey dripping gold.

In barrels and crocks and suggins,
In pokes upon the floor
And hanging from the rafters
Is Katchie Verner's store
Against the mountain winter
When sleet-hard drifts will freeze
The deep loam of her garden
And gird her orchard trees.


~Louise McNeill

If ever there were a year to feel settled and comfortable and pleased, I think this one would be it.  There are about twenty pumpkins in the garden and I picked the dry October beans today.  Beets are growing and there are onions to string.  The blackberries keep coming and the cherry tomatoes runneth over.  Of course, the thought of feeling comfortable makes me feel nervous at the same time.  Life is so full of surprises.  I remember back to the year we lost our jobs and I was pregnant with Willow and we worked so hard to store away a lot of food.  I had visions of being holed up in our house with a little baby and all that food.  Mike did find a job and started the day after she was born and what a shock that was.  It was good, of course, but being a new mother in an empty house was strange and so, so quiet.

The quiet days are gone now, and the number of people and their appetites have grown.  I am trying to squirrel away all this food, in part, because I know some of it won't be available to me next year.  The Roland Estate will sell and the future feels uncertain, living so close to Main Street and commercial properties.  Another reason is that it finally feels like I have gained the confidence to branch out and experiment--tomato sauce instead of whole tomatoes, blackberry cordial in addition to jam, numerous types of pickles.  Still another reason is the generally unpredictable nature of life.  We've got some challenges ahead that feel really unknown and it is in my nature to always think ahead and prepare.  With shelves full of luxury foods (as jams and pickles and juices are) a freezer full of berries, a growing woodpile, and more shelves full of fabrics for clothes, I feel safe.

There's a lot of apple sauce and apple butter on the horizon, more of the former with blackberries in it.  Late apples just don't have the flavor of their early counterparts.  I am thinking about mint jelly, but it feels a little frivolous.  I've got herbs drying on the back porch and beans to shell, though just a few.  Some things are for novelty, after all.  This gardening project has been above all, a way to show the children what you can do with a package of seeds and some water and sunshine.  They'll need these things in their store of memories. 
impossibleway: (Goldenrod Trailhead)
I think I am procrastinating right now or maybe catching up.  It's hard to say at this point, in these last threeish weeks before our school year starts.  It's been hot at the end of this week, terribly hot, and I mowed the yard in it the other day, feeling rather dry near the end.  I kept myself from full heat exhaustion by drinking plenty and taking lots of breaks, but it was still pretty rough.  There are tomatoes roasting the oven and grapes draining for juice.  I picked about 1.5 gallons of blueberries this week, stopping when the heat got too much.  And there are blackberries, still.

BlueberriesI'm thinking about the house and what tidying needs doing right now and the kitchen, oh, the kitchen.  I've been doing so much cooking in there that I just don't like to be in there right now.  I need to get up from there and organize the whole thing and then I will feel so much better.  I'm thinking about sewing projects, too.  There are things I've put off far too long that need to be done now, or very soon.  I'm wondering if I'll have the supplies to do them and the time, but it's supposed to be 88° for a number of days.  That's good weather for hiding inside.

It's a mish-mash lately, all the stuff to do.  Mike and I are looking toward October, the crowning month of the year, as we see it.  Frosts and leaves and molasses and every day being so pretty.  It feels good to get all this food stored away, to be so thrifty even if it is so exhausting.  Yes, it's Kitchen Time.

Crafting On

Aug. 9th, 2016 05:46 am
impossibleway: (Goldenrod Trailhead)
Martinmas with One Sleeve

What refreshment it was to open all the windows in the house and have a cool wind come in. We took a drive last night in air that was around seventy degrees. The air was so heavy with humidity, though, that it looked like rain when you looked into the mountains. We drove into the woods a little bit and there was no rain, but a thick fog up on the ridge.  Maybe the weather is shifting--it looks so much milder for the next week.  It's funny to think of lower eighties meaning mild, but that heat wave was no joke!  We've been wearing pants lately, to keep off the mosquitoes, and it's not been too hot to do so.

All that aside, here is the Martinmas Sweater with one completed sleeve.  I started on the second one last night and I feel confident it will be finished in time for me to make another smaller one before Martinmas.  We are having sweater moments, as I might call them, already.  In other news, I've been canning a lot, crafting and preserving good things to eat through the Winter.  It's been pizza sauce and bread and butter pickles most recently.  I put about three pints of blackberries into the freezer every other day and we all stare longingly at the apples and prolific pumpkins.  It won't be long!

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.
impossibleway: (Goldenrod Trailhead)
Thursday topped out at 74° F in the heat of the day.  It was cloudy and misty and breezy, with fog on the mountains--just like Autumn.  I suppose this was our first taste and it was so lovely.  After temperatures in the mid-nineties the week before, this was Reward Weather at its finest.  I should have mowed the other half of the yard back home, but I really just wanted to get away and see signs of Fall.  I was not disappointed.

Cherry Leaves

Cherry trees are one of the first to start shedding their leaves, along with the buckeyes, walnuts, and locusts.  The one at my grandmother's house was really lovely.  Roan was still scanning it for cherries, but I  was really happy to see the frenzy of Summer start to fade a little.  It was cool enough to wear my new Fall Blueberry dress!

Swing Place

We went over the mountain from there, headed to the Swing Place.  It was 66° F on the way and the children asked me to put up the windows.  There were buckeyes all along the road with their red leaves and waiting nuts.  Roan got out and said he was cold, but we acclimated soon enough and Laurel was terribly sad to leave.  I made up a couple verses to "She'll be coming round the mountain" that might involve "shedding tears just like a fountain."  No transitional songs would help her with this one (and she wanted to go so high on the swing!), but a package of gum helped a little.

Yellow Fringed Orchid

On our way down, we found this yellow fringed orchid laying in the road, as if someone had picked it and thrown it down.  I took it home and put it in water.  The Turk's cap lily was blooming all down the mountainside, along with the first goldenrod (though I did see one plant last month).  You can see the green goldenrod just waiting all over.  The Summer flowers are shifting to the yellows of Fall.

Apples!

I think I'm going to start calling myself a Property Manager, seriously.  If you're on vacation or getting on in years or have crossed the great divide, I'm your girl.  In addition to the Roland Estate and my bus-travelling grandmother, I've been asked to feed a cat out in the country.  The cat belongs to my grandmother's second husband's brother, yes.  He's got some nice fruit trees and a good-looking woodpile.  These apples look especially optimistic.  I think I canned some of these a couple years ago.  There is so much fruit around just waiting for someone to take it; so much goes to waste.

Pesto Pizza

Here's something that's not going to waste. ;-)  The last of last year's pesto, the roasted tomato sauce, and plenty of fresh tomatoes from the garden.  This was so good.  I should have made three pizzas!  The children gobbled up most of theirs, which just had pesto.  I put the pesto on with a piping bag after the pizzas came out of the oven.  I expect to pick more tomatoes today, so there may be more sauce in the works.  Every day has some big kitchen project.  Maybe I'll take a day off and go look at those apples again.
impossibleway: (Berries)
The hot weather has calmed down and we've had a few days of upper seventies!  Last night, though there was no rain, there was a cool breeze blowing.  It was mercy, in its purest form.  Mowing half the yard was almost pleasurable and the mosquitoes were away for a little while.  I was also able to get the kitchen tidied up from all the food preservation that has been going on lately.  It is so easy, really, to squander all this good and nearly free food.  I know that I have done my share in the past, but this year--I'm on a roll.  I hope.

Carrots and Tomatoes

I had the children pull most of the carrots yesterday.  They are not winners for size, as Dick Proenneke would say, but they made Roan so proud.  His carrots, his cherry tomatoes.  We've picked that many (half a gallon) twice before.  I made a roasted tomato sauce with them and ran it through the food mill to take out the peels.  They I heated it up later and put in some parmesan cheese, just the most basic kind.  It was so good!  I seldom use gourmet ingredients here--it's store brand basics for us.  I did splurge on one block of fresh mozzarella, as it is obvious we have a fair amount of tomatoes to eat.  As is common with a two year old, there are green ones in the mix (and some I cut off by mistake!).

Preservation

I think I've only got two empty jelly jars left now.  I've been busy filling them with anything I can think of.  On the left is currant-pomegranate jelly.  Pomegranate because my jelly bag fell and splattered everywhere.  Now my freshly-painted wall have faint drip stains on them. :-(  But, the jelly is good and I am becoming more adventurous and experimental.  I think there is more room with that with the No Sugar SureJell, as opposed to the regular version.  I know there's Pomona's, but I go with what is readily available nearby.  I've also given up the name brand lids in favor of plain ones that are about half the cost.  You can see my kitchen is a thrify one, but we are not suffering.  I get rather perturbed when people says that eating healthy or well is expensive.

Let's see.  The other jars have pesto in them, of course, for the freezer.  I've been doing this for awhile and everyone loves it when I pull out a jar.  My favorite way is to put it on a pizza after it comes out of the oven.  I love pesto with tomatoes.  I don't use pine nuts, to save on cost and because they can taste funny.  I know someone who would put in English walnuts.  There's a jar of banana pepper pickles, too, from a batch I made with peppers from The Annex.  No one was picking them, so we did.  Mike loves banana peppers and he was so pleased to see them.  In the pint is dried mint.  The Roland Estates is overrun with mint, so we've been picking a basketfull and bringing it home to dehydrate.  We all love mint tea (I never thought I would say that), so this is a big savings and the house smells lovely.

The onions, pumpkins, butternut squash, October beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, swiss chard (whatever will I do with that?) and a few other things remain.  I'm hoping to get in a batch of bread and butter pickles for Mike.  He really loves them.  I really don't, but I want to make him happy and I know that will do the trick.  When I told the children that harvest time began with Lammas, it was no joke!  I feel like my kitchen has been in constant upheaval and various stages of production all week.  I carried the canner downstairs yesterday, only to carry it right back up.

Today, we're going to look for peaches and pick the blackberries.  And wash the sheets and mow the yard.  And, is it Fall yet?  Can I get a frost?
impossibleway: (Mike Panorama)
Three out of fve Nichols are asleep on a Sunday afternoon, so it's time to catch up on things.  I can feel the days speeding up as we get near our first day of school on September 5th.  It's time to get all those things done that were Summer Dreams and to work on making the most of what the good Earth is giving us right now.

Settlers Quilt

Wednesday, I think, we went to the Southwest Virginia Settler's Museum.
It's an old farm that's on National Forest land, cared for by volunteers.
I hadn't been since Willow was a baby.

Corn Husk Dolls

The place needs work and people, as most small volunteer projects do,
but it has a lot of potential and there have been numerous improvements in the past seven years.
I really loved these little corn husk dolls--they remind me of the ones at the Asheville Folk Art Center.

Jam and Relish

I did some canning Friday: sweet relish and blackberry jam.
I'm rather nervous that my relish will taste like Aunt Bea's pickles, but Mike is optimistic.
Blackberry jam, on the other hand, never lets me down.

Sentimental Knits

In other news, I spent several HOURS yesterday going through our clothing stockpile for Fall and Winter.
It is early, yes, but school will be in session when the cold weather comes and there is no time like the present.
I'm struggling to find spare time, as it is!
What a trip down memory lane this was--there's Grandad's old hat that I made him and a lot of wee sweaters and hats.
Who were those babies?  Where did they go?

Blackberry Pie

I suppose the crown jewel in our weekend was the blackberry pie/cobbler.
Mike has been after me for years to make a cobbler with a pie crust, as that's what he was used to.
Well, I made a pie crust and pie filling and put it in a square pan.  Haha.

Blackberry Pie

It was absolutely delightful, really. Practically perfect in every way, and with ice cream!  The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook seldom steers me wrong!
impossibleway: (Berries)
Virginia saw the completion of her own Colonial dress and apron.  I used the same Magic Cabin doll clothes patterns that I always use.  They are so adaptable.  I made up the apron, using the same techniques found in the pattern for Willow's dress.  The bonnet is still a puzzle to me, but that will work out in time.  In the meantime, I've gotten a request for her to have her own detective's clothes.

Wee Colonial Dress

The yarn that won't be used has now changed directions, once more, to become the Martinmas Sweater (I hope!).  I started four months before Martinmas, so the odds are in my favor, right?  I'm really liking that the pattern is carefully written and goes row by row.  That is so helpful in these days of distracted knitting.

Martinmas Sweater

I like orojects that mostly go on auto-pilot, like the Green Friend to go with the Gold Friend.
He looks like such a sweet fellow.  They are from The Gnome Craft Book.

Green and Gold Friends

And here are some garden creations: peas, cucumbers, and one purple carrot.
As you can see, I like my cucumbers quite small.  The carrot came up with the peas.
It is kind of nice to be putting some plants to bed for the season, like the peas and broccoli.

Peas, Cucumbers and a Carrot

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

Summer News

Jul. 7th, 2016 07:22 am
impossibleway: (Berries)
Raspberry PatchI think I've been picking red raspberries for three weeks now.  I've lost count.  Their numbers are dwindling and the blackberries are starting to turn.  I was surprised last week when I felt something quite warm as I reached for some berries--it was the blackberries being warmed by the sun!  These are the thornless variety and they are ready just a little later than the more common, thorny kind.  It looks like it is going to be a very good year for blackberries.

I've started reading over the Enki materials for grade two and I feel much less nervous this year.  It is new, of course, but the materials are meant to build on routines that were established in kindergarten.  The school day changes a little bit, but much of it is the same.  I'm really appreciating the develpmental information in the homeschool guides.  It helps to explain some of the things we've experienced and that I've remembered from my own second grade year.  Sages and tricksters come at perfect timing.

I feel like I'm still finding a pattern to our days.  We have all the usual stuff in place--meals and rest times, but other things have been harder to grasp.  Nature School is still going well; we're headed out this morning.  But the walks and circle times and craft times are more erratic.  It's just so steamy lately and the children seem pretty content to play on their own.  I suppose that is part of the fun of Summer, right?

In other news, the garden is doing well.  The broccoli is done, the peas need picking, the tomatoes are happy, and the carrots are putting on size.  The watermelon plants are so small that I don't think we'll have any.  The pumpkins are starting to really branch out and we can enjoy fresh cucumbers every day.  We pick them small here, and Roan peels them.  I find the peels in the strangest places!  I guess Summer is in full-swing now.  It's hot and humid and I'm dreaming of Fall.  Right on schedule.
impossibleway: (The Little House)
Here are some photos that I've been saving and have been waiting on.  The first is the Old Apple Tree.  We gave it one last serenade, one last picking, and one last picture.  You can see that it's lost a couple big branches just recently and that it's rotten in the middle.  It's final harvest is waiting for me to load up and bring home--the firewood.  This tree was one of the originals in the orchard that is on our street.  I think there is just one tree left, another Early Transparent.  This was not the Year of the Apple, but that's okay.

The Old Apple Tree

The person in charge of taking down the tree and another is, yes, Big Tom.  Do you recognize him from wayyyy back on Survivor?  I'll admit that I do not watch the show, but I did see a couple of the episodes he was on.  He's a friendly guy, has charisma, and the children enjoyed seeing his big equipment.  I was the main contact for tree pointing outing (or whatever you call it), since the bulk of the family lives far away.

Big Tom

Here's the garden annex where I pick raspberries.  This is over at the Roland Estate, as I have come to call it.  Don would be pleased to have Big Tom cutting his trees and he would be pleased to see his garden in use once more, we all agree.  There are some tomato and cucumber plants that belong to someone else (I think?  I planted them and look after them) and there are my October beans and pumpkins and squash in the back.  I've got a fence around the beans to keep the rabbits out.

The Annex

And HERE is the bathroom.  Keep in mind that this room is 6' x 6', from a day when houses either did not have indoor plumbing or when such rooms were not the place for spending a lot of time.  In fact, I know of houses that got indoor plumbing in my short lifetime, even during the period when I was in college.  It has new floors, a new tub, new shower walls, new faucets, a new sink, a new cabinet and a new vent cover.

New Bathroom

The tub is slightly smaller than our old one, which give a bit more space in the room.  It's amazing what two inches will do.  It's also amazing to have a drain that works and a tub that is not painted and flaking off!   The new shower curtain is in place, as you can see.  I've got another coat of stain to apply and then the varnishing to do.  I've also got to paint the white trim in the room (window, door, moulding).  Those are small jobs that I can squeeze in during quiet times.

New Tub

Here's the vent in the floor.  I cannot tell you how much these pleases me.  The old one was plastic was just not pretty and it looked awful no matter how I tried to clean it.  I was so thrilled to see these at Lowe's.  The kitchen floor has a vent just like this one.  It will, next year, get a floor just like this one, too.  The vinyl cost just $20.  There is an upside to working in a very small space.  The sink was the only option we had for one with storage.  That kept it to just $80.  It's not the quality we would prefer, but we did go with a better quality, tall faucet and better fixtures in the tub.

New Vent

Overall, the bathroom came in just at budget.  I about fell over with relief and disbelief when I got the invoice.  We didn't get everything we wanted, but the bathroom is set to last until we are ready to take down the walls, chisel out the plaster, put in dry wall, and really make things luxurious.  There are no more leaks and we have working drains and it's quite a bit more attractive.  You can see our old bathroom here.  It's funny to see how the house (and the paint and roof!) have changed since then.

And now, well, it's time to get dressed and size up that pile of logs.  I'm hoping for another half gallon of raspberries today, too. 
impossibleway: (The Little House)
In the poolYesterday was a full day, a kind of Amazing Work Day.  Maybe it is the Midsummer energy, but we got so much done.  All of us spent the morning doing some serious pruning over at the Roland Estate (where the raspberry patch and garden are).  I trimmed trees, cut back weeds, and pruned bushes in the front of the house.  Mike did some mowing; the children hauled off sticks and carts of weeds.  It looks so much better.  And I picked half a gallon of red raspberries.

In the afternoon, I pruned the tomatoes, which is a weekly job, and set to work really getting the house together.  That's a hard thing to do these days.  There is always something that comes up that gets me off task and quiet times are shorter than they used to be.   The children are more helpful, at times, but it is hard to blame them when the Summer sunshine calls them outside to swing and play.

In the hammockMy camera lens stopped working, which Mike tells me is a known problem with Nikon kit lenses.  He said that four years was twice what he expected out of it.  Talk about planned obsolescence!  Oh, well, he's letting me use his for now.  For awhile, I found the big long lens that also came with my camera and got these pictures from pretty far away.  It was handy for not disturbing Laurel in her quiet moment.  That girl really loves the water.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of her floating in her inner tube at the lake.  Maybe next time.

It is so nice, almost therapeutic, to have a day where you can just get some things done.  As I was experimenting with a different lense, I got this picture of the living room.  It's so calm and tidy and the whole house was this way!  What a gift it was, though I really had to work to get it all done.  For some reason, I had the energy to do so!  I even stained the new wood in the bathroom.  I'm hoping for a sort of bathroom tour later this week.  I've got a shower curtain coming (thanks, Kim!) and I hope to get the staining done today or tomorrow.

There's a storm brewing outside.  The car is free of crumbs and lichen (so much lichen), the garden is hoed for another week, the berries are picked, and the laundry is dry.  It feels so good, even if the sun was blazing down and I was covered in perspiration for most of it.  I'm hoping to get to some mending or second grade planning this afternoon, once Laurel is napping.  Happy Monday!

Tidy
impossibleway: (The Flower Picker)
Baskets of Petals

Something has come over our rose bushes.  The children are sure that it is the Tomten that has made them so happy and full of blooms.  Last year, our bush that only blooms in one big show bloomed twice!  And this year, it has wonderfully fragrant roses by the hundreds.  I made rose petal jelly last week and it smelled so nice (and I remembered the pectin!).  Our other bush that usually blooms more frequently, but with fewer flowers, is full of blossoms, too!

Willow, Roan, and I picked petals from the two bushes again this week.  We picked only the blooms that were fully open, hoping to leave the rest for rose hips.  Look at our baskets!  The next day, the bushes were full again, and were a wonderful reminder of the renewal of life.  There are some trials in our lives these days, some things that feel too big if I don't give some time to wonder at beauty.  These roses, they help to soften things and remember the beautiful moments.

So, now, three quarts of dried petals.  What should we do with them?  I am thinking there needs to be some sort of salve.  I'm considering purchasing some rose oil to go with them.  I really love the Weleda rose deodorant spray and Crabtree & Evelyn's rose soaps.  Maybe I could talk Carrie into making some soap. . .

Dried Petals

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