Positive Changes

 

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I’m in the process of updating our blog to better reflect our mission and focus.

WordPress has also had trouble uploading photos for a few months, and as soon as we get that ironed out, I have lots to share.

We’ll be back to regular posting soon!  Plenty of good things going on in the garden.

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Back to the Routine

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After a break of just more than a month, the chickens have finally started to lay eggs again.

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George is tall enough now to help me collect the eggs, and very glad to do so.

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After collecting the eggs, George helped me turn shredded paper, coffee grounds, composted duck manure and straw bedding into the garden beds.  I was pleased to see the beds teeming with earthworms.  It won’t be too long before we’re planting in them.

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Blackie McBabTalky the Black Australorp.  She’s almost five, and doesn’t lay frequently, but the children love her.

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It will be good to bake more and enjoy omelettes for breakfast again now that the girls have gotten back into their routine.

January Sunshine

IMG_0441[1]Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along today with some sunny yellow sock knitting.  In the short, grey days of January, I often find myself picking bright, cheery yarn with which to knit.  It adds a little sunshine to the day.

The yarn is my old standbyBrown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted mill end seconds – an 85% wool, 15% mohair yarn which is very durable and felts nicely while you wear it – making it ideal for socks and mittens and soakers.   The colorway is Prairie Goldenrod, and I bought several skeins a while back because I knew it would be good for many kinds of projects.

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The kids and I have enjoyed thumbing through this book together.  We missed our annual October camping trip because I was still recovering from my broken ankle and not able to hike.  We are contemplating a spring camping/backpacking trip, so camping books keep coming home with us from the library.

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IMG_0439[1]While I work on the socks (an easy pattern on size 5’s for thick, warm socks), and the kids built with Legos, we watched this documentary on caribou.  The kids and I have been on a bit of an Alaska/Yukon kick for a while, and we’d love to take a family trip there someday.  I backpacked around Alaska when I was 16, but no one else in the family has been, and I’d love to show them the Tongass rainforest, the Mendenhall Glacier and climb Mt. Marathon again.  But most of all, I’d like go birdwatching and salmon fishing with the kids.  Maybe someday, but for now we enjoy reading books and watching documentaries on the subject and are content.

More soon, including late-winter gardening (Yes, there IS gardening to be done in January!).

 

 

Red Squirrel

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Ruth finished her little needle-felted squirrel.

IMG_0555What it looked like a few days ago: natural wool for the core.

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Over the top went a white front and orange body,

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She’s very happy with it, and George liked it so much, he has requested she make him chipmunk for Christmas.

 

 

Winter White Knitting

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As is the Wednesday ritual: linking up with Ginny’s Yarn Along and the KCCO.

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The past few days, I’ve been re-reading The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading, and pouring over the plans in Build Your Own Barrel Oven.

IMG_0531A barrel oven seems like a very, very cool project for an outdoor oven, but after reading the construction details and seeing how one operates, I think we will stick with our original plan to build a simple cob wood-fired bread oven next summer.

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I finished a little wool soaker for a friend having a baby.  It made for a nice break from the Christmas knitting projects, and baby garments are my favorite thing to knit.

IMG_0525The winter-white wool yarn is from the thrift store, so I don’t know the brand.  I suspect it has a little mohair in it, and it is quite soft and warm.

More soon:  this afternoon the kids and I are making pfeffernusse cookies and I hope to share our recipe later in the week.

 

 

Little Tomte, Wooly Squirrel

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Astrid Lindgren’s The Tomten and The Tomten and the Fox are two of our most-cherished winter-time books.  I adored them as a child, and am very glad my kids love them, too.

A few years ago, Ruth made a needle-felted fox and little Tomten, and the boys still look forward to playing with them while I read the stories.  IMG_0548

The Tomten cares for the creatures of the forest and keeps watch over the animals of the farm.  He is a gentle, quiet little gnome and these simple stories of his unseen interactions on the farm resonate with young children.

My children have enjoyed their little Tomten and Fox playset so much, we have begun a tradition of felting little Tomte as Christmas gifts for friends with young children.

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I set out everything to begin making a few, when Ruth decided to put the materials to better use:  crafting another friend for her own Tomten:

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IMG_0557She wants to make it clear that he isn’t completed yet, but her little squirrel is beginning to take shape.  He still needs color and detail, but when finished, he will make a nice little addition to the Tomten play set.  Perhaps we can make a few more forest friends to join him, but for now, it is back to crafting a few more Tomten men.

Joining the KCCO today.  Back tomorrow with some knitting and books.

 

 

Christmastide Yarn Along

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I’ve been enjoying this book in the quiet of the early morning.  The prayers and passages are perfect for that time of day, while I knit a few rounds of a simple pattern and contemplate the season in which we are immersed.  IMG_0508[1]

The simple knitting that has kept my hands occupied while my mind is engaged with the reflections of Christmastide has been a pair of uncomplicated red mitts.  The mitts above are a pattern I have enjoyed making many times before.  These are for a gift exchange, and will get gussied up with a bit of needle-felting before they are delivered to their recipient.

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Red always seems like a good color for mittens.   My favorite mittens as a kid were a pair of red wool ones my grandmother knit long before I was born.  She ran out of wool before completing the last thumb, so it is a different shade – I always loved the quirkiness of that turkey red thumb against the vermillion of the rest.

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The children continue to read and re-read the large stack of library books piled up in the sunroom.  Hal, age 6, has really enjoyed An Orange for Frankie.  The pictures are lovely, and the story is one he likes to hear over and over.

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We picked up two big bags of satsumas this week, and I’ve kept a bowl of them out on the table for the kids to enjoy whenever they wish – it has already been refilled a few times.

After reading And Orange for Frankie, Hal and I read up on the tradition of giving citrus at the holidays – something we have in such abundance was once a cherished luxury.  St. Nicholas brings the children each a stocking on Christmas morning, and always leaves a tangerine in the toe – in Christmases past, it would have been the most treasured part, discovered last in the end of the stocking.

We were sure to really pause and savor the satsumas we snacked on as we read An Orange for Frankie one more time.  Hal also asked if we could make candied orange peels again – something we haven’t done in a long time.  I think that sounds like a very good idea.

Joining Ginny for the weekly Yarn Along, and also Frontier Dreams’ KCCO.

Needle-Felting Kit

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The girls wanted to share about a recent birthday gift they made for a friend: a simple needle-felting kit.

My kids – like many kids – really enjoy playing and crafting with bit of wool and yarn.  Ruth, in particular, has enjoyed needle felting ornaments and little animals for her siblings for quite a long time.  Ruth wanted to make a gift for her friend -who is also quite artistic – and Ruth thought she might enjoy making little wooly creations, too.

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First, we found a basket at the thrift store that met with everyone’s approval.  Then, the girls cut a block of foam from our stash of dense craft foam.  We added a needle-felting needle (Needle-felting safety rule #1:  Always store the needles in their block of foam!)

IMG_0521A visit to the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store provided the necessary collection of bright wool for decorating, while I included some balls of white and natural grey/brown spinning fiber to be used as the base over which the bright colored wool will be felted.

Very proud of my girls and their creative gift ideas.  I’m looking forward to seeing what they have made for each other and their brothers for Christmas.

If you have Handmade Holiday projects to share, please post a link in the comments – I would love to read about what you are working on!

 

 

Early December Nature Table

 

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Today it really began to feel like Christmastime in our home:

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Bea and I converted the nature table  from autumn to Advent.

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The Nativity figurines were a gift (from France!) and the conifer candle, picked up at the farmer’s market, is made from local beeswax.  The perpetual calendar is from MamaRoots.

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I potted up a Christmas Cactus cutting from my mother.  Hopefully, by next Christmas it will be in bloom.

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Ruth and I began decorating our little table-top tree.  (We always get our tree from the L’Arche benefit sale.)  The lights and star go on, and tonight or tomorrow we will string popcorn and cranberries.  Later in the week, come the ornaments.

More soon, but now we are off to Ruth and Bea’s Holiday roller derby scrimmage.

Hope you are enjoying the beginning of the Christmas season!

 

 

Grey Stripes and Good Books

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Slowly, slowly, we are beginning to decorate for Christmas.  Advent candles and readings at dinner…working with Grandpa on a new homemade Advent Spiral (because we currently use a little birthday ring from my preschool years in Germany)…Christmas toys appearing in corners of the house where the boys are sure to find and play with them.

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…and Christmas knitting continues in earnest.  George is growing like a weed and needs new hats.  While watching a documentary or two late at night, I knit up a little stocking cap for him (no pattern, just wingin’ it).  It is a study in grey, using leftover Kilcarra of Donegal tweedy yarn, and Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted I’ve had in my yarn dresser for years.  George is really into wolves at the moment, and I am deliberating adding some ears to the top of the hat.

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In order to get library books in time for the correct season, I place holds on them 3 or 4 weeks ahead of time. We discovered years ago that if we wait to visit the library for books right when we need them, they will all be checked out.  Ordering well in advance is very important not only for seasonal books, but also to make sure we get homeschooling resources in a timely manner – and we have a home educator’s library card so we can place a hold on 40 items at a time.

This week, more than 20 winter books came in for us, and we have been pouring through them.  Right now, most are Arctic and winter nature books,and Waldorf-y books, but a whole stack of Christmas/Nativity-themed holds should be in at the library later this week.  With the darkness descending by 4:30 in the afternoon, we have plenty of quiet time to read through every book we’ve checked out.

Joining Ginny for her Yarn Along today.