November Days

One of the downsides to where we live is that almost everything is far away, but the view on your way there is almost always beautiful.

Paint samples mingling with family art.  Just a daydream right now.  I happy thought for way off in the future.  I’ve already decided just which one I want.

It was in this month that I finally gave up on the rest of my tomatoes, piled up in baskets in the mudroom, waiting to be dealt with.  They are now for the wildlife to enjoy.

Iain built me an arbor to grow my roses up, lovely boy.  Steve and Elijah helped a bit at times, mostly holding things in place, but it was designed and built almost entirely by Iain.  It’s going to look gorgeous all covered in blooms come summer.

Following their interests, our “woods day” has mostly been taking place fire side for the younger ones, with the older ones stopping in to visit from time to time.  We tend to cook at least our midday meal on the fire.  Last week it was apple, yam and raisins topped with cinnamon and a bit of oil, cooked up together in a tidy packet.  A little spit for roasting apples has been erected.  They like to roast apples every week.  What Galen really wants is to roast a turkey over the fire.  They are working on new burn bowls.  Galen has been making paintbrushes from found wood and bird feathers.

I got such a wonderful head start on Iain’s birthday sweater this year!  At some point I got distracted and put it aside, knowing that I had time to spare.  Suddenly it’s November and occurring to me that I have this giant man-sized sweater to complete and very little time to do it in.

I’ve been sewing and sewing.  I’m wrapping crafting and the holiday season about me like a comfortingly soft old quilt.  And on the subject of quilts, I up and decided to make Iain a “quick” last minute quilt.  As if there is really such a thing as a quick quilt!  I’ve had the fabric for an embarrassingly long time and the child will be 16, it’s feeling like now or never.  I’m really enjoying the process.  It’s mostly quiet sitting work, which is just my speed these days.

Experiments with various types of barometers.

Wood gathered for sugaring off on the other side of the year.

I haven’t quite wrapped my brain around Thanksgiving being in just two days.  In fact, I keep thinking it’s Friday and the week is over.  I think we’ll be keeping things fairly simple here.


simple cookery: banana candy

I know they don’t look very appetizing, but trust me, these get gobbled up almost before they hit the plate.  They are the easiest thing in the world to make, just two ingredients and technically one of them is optional.  Slice bananas approximately 1/2″ thick.  Arrange them on dehydrator trays and sprinkle with cinnamon (this would be the optional part).  Dehydrate at 145 for around 24 hours.  You don’t want them to get crispy, just chewy.  They will feel softer while still warm and chewier as they cool.  Take a few out to test from time to time until you get to your ideal texture.  Helpful hint: do not let your children test them or there will be little hands snatching them off the racks every time you turn your back!  We have experimented a bit with making them in the oven and it is possible, but trickier.



Mairi Rose and Seraphina were off playing and giggling by themselves.  I peeked in to find Mairi had dressed them both up.  Seraphina looked at me very solemnly indeed and said, “tutu” with a nod of her head.  Serious and important business that.

I wanted to thank you all for your kind words of support on my last post.  Believe it or not, the week actually became more challenging as it progressed, but I’ll not talk about that now.  I only mention it to say that many of your comments really bolstered me up and helped me along and I am grateful for that.  I’d like to write to each and every one of you, but my computer time is limited.  Please know that you have been heard and appreciated.  I’m also deeply grateful for sweet little girls in tutus and brothers who reach them up to the ceiling!


full disclosure

Monday marks nine years of blogging here for me. What started out as a way to keep family and friends updated on our journey while trying to recover from toxic mold exposure has turned into something much more. From the beginning it has also been a place for me to focus on and appreciate what was and is good and beautiful in the middle of an often challenging time. In all these years I’ve really resisted the idea of monetizing my blog. That was just never the point of this space for me.

I’m sitting here writing this on a Wednesday morning.  So far this week the various members of our family combined have had an MRI, an MRA, multiple EKGs, x-rays, an emergency room visit and extensive blood work.  And the week’s doctors appointments are far from over yet.  I’d like to say that this has been an extreme week, but it’s not all that out of the ordinary just now.  We’ve had 4 emergency room visits in the last 6 weeks- all for different members of the family- and each with it’s associated follow-ups with various specialists.  That’s without even going into all of the planned appointments, the medications, the supplements.  We’re kind of coming apart at the seams.  As if trying to balance and live with the stress of multiple chronically ill people within our family wasn’t challenge enough, the added strain of our mounting medical bills is simply too much.  This is such an easy and obvious source of potential income that I can literary no longer afford to overlook it.

It’s important to me that any company I support be one that I personally use.  What do I buy?  I buy yarn.  And the vast majority of my yarn comes from Knit Picks.  Their wide selection fits our budget and lifestyle while offering me lots of creative flexibility.  I have no less than four projects using their yarns on my needles at this very moment.  I’ve been sharing projects featuring Knit Picks yarns for years now.  Becoming their affiliate seemed logical.  They are supportive of independent designers, organize charity fundraisers, and are committed to ethical manufacturing practices.  I think we’re a good fit.  So in the future, if you follow a link from my site to the Knit Picks site and make a purchase, a portion of that order will go towards supporting our family.  The same goes for purchases made at Amazon.  And I thank you in advance, from the very bottom of my heart.

Worsted Weight Yarns from knitpicks.comThis week is Knit Picks biggest sale of the year.  I have my own small order to place for some holiday crafting- woolies to warm my babes in the months ahead.

happy knitting,



delicate lace

That’s the name of the paint color that we are oh, so slowly covering most of our first floor in.  I like to think that I’m above being influenced by the names of colors.  Surely I can’t be swayed by something so superficial?  The wildly disproportionate number of colors we’ve used with textile related names seems to indicate otherwise!Every morning two pajama clad little girls hide in my curtains giggling.

I never shared Seraphina’s toddler blanket, though it’s been done for six months or so now.  I meant to get very official photos of it laid out to block or hung up in the sunshine or most especially, me carrying her all bundled up in it.  But of course I never did any of that.  All I have are a few pictures that happen to include her shawl.  Including the two that I just happened to snap while admiring it one day.

Usually I’m not the least bit conceited about my knitting projects.  I enjoy making them and I enjoy using them, but I don’t think that makes me anything special exactly.  I’m just so tickled by this particular knit, completely smitten really, that I feel as though perhaps just a bit of it’s glory is reflected back on me and sometimes when I look at it, I confess that I may be just a wee bit pleased with myself.  

It’s huge.  I made the large version.  I used an adult sized sleeping bag, unzipped, to block it and the blanket stretched to it’s full width and length.

It was worked in soft and squishy Bare Stroll Fingering Sock Yarn. The undyed yarn is a beautiful warm cream color and using it meant that I could make a mostly merino blanket for a very reasonable price.

Her shawl- for a shawl it truly is, knit in the traditional Shetland Hap Shawl style, is much beloved.  She always sleeps under it.  She’s carried down from her naps wrapped in her creamy woolen cocoon.  It’s understood that she’s not really awake and ready to join in life again until she’s willing to shed her shawl.  Mairi is rather jealous and has asked me to make her one.  I can’t blame her really.  I dream of having one of my own as well.

I’m now reading Why Can’t I Get Better?  all the way through and it’s fabulous.  I highly recommend it to anyone suffering from chronic illness.



cider making

At our friend’s homestead, nearly a month ago now!  The world outside has changed so much in that time!

For a seasonal treat; peel and chop parsnips, add them to a roasting pan with chopped apples (no need to peel these).  Add a splash of cider.  Cover and bake until soft.  Delicious!


comfort knitting

More simple baby knits in soul soothing baby colors.  As mindless as mindless can be.  And even so I noticed a mistake in my first row of ribbing.  Ribbing for goodness sake!  Can you imagine?  And I also decided I was too beat to care enough to fix it.

I’m just barely reading Anne of the Island from the Anne of Green Gables series.  I picked it up at random in the bathroom one day.  Are other people’s houses like this?  We have books everywhere, but they seem to kind of funnel here.  Especially in the upstairs one where Galen thinks he’s being clever and sly by hiding out in there to read after lights out time.  Once a week or so, usually over Sunday dinner, I’ll mention that I counted, say, 11 books in there earlier and as there aren’t 11 people in this house that can read, it seems like maybe some of them could be returned to shelves?  I don’t even know who was responsible for the appearance of this one, but no one has complained about it going missing yet.  I could be reading any one of my more serious books, but I’m so tired that I wouldn’t remember a bit of them anyway and so the balm of good, old, reliable, steadfast Anne with an “E” it is.

Wee Miss Seraphina Violet Juliette, usually the very picture of glowing, roly-poly, rose cheeked health, who never gets any more than a touch of what may be going around, has developed the worst case of croup that I’ve ever borne witness to, resulting in several scary, sleepless nights for the both of us.  Thankfully it has just about run its course.  It’s been such a relief to hear her singing to herself again, even if her voice is still just barely more than a little squeak.  Things seem to be improving, but it’s been another very long week, in a streak of long weeks.


Halloween and 44/52

I had what I thought was an adorable idea for a costume for Seraphina and others.  As of 3:30 on October 30th, all that I’d managed of it was her little hat.  And I couldn’t have cared less.  In fact, I was quite ready to throw in the towel with Halloween across the board.  Try again next year.  Maybe.  Maybe not even that.  But Elijah, who obviously puts great stock in creative Halloween costumes, and probably equally pressing was looking to get out of washing dishes, laid the old sheet I was planning on using out on the table and started piecing together a pattern.  And so, with a good deal of help, I rallied and there were costumes all around.

I wanted Mairi Rose to be a Matryoshka with us, but no, she wanted to be Tink to his Pan.  Mommy and daughters matching costume?  Totally cute.  Controlling mommy who insists you wear the costume she wants you to wear?  Not so cute.  So I did not push even though it really would have been kind of perfect since she is just the right in between size.  Side note: All three boys and I just recently watched the Milwaukee Ballet’s production of Peter Pan.  It was magical.  And inspiring for a certain young, male, ballet dancer.

Sewing notes: I used this pattern for Seraphina’s bonnet and a pattern similar to this one for my kerchief- which was very comfortable and stayed on perfectly and I want to make a bunch more for everyday wear.  Seraphina’s dress is this one.  Details on the sweater to come.  I just made my dress up as I went along.  It didn’t balloon out as nicely as it could have.  Also, for the record, I’m not actually shaped like Humptey-Dumptey.  Or at least not any more so than you would expect a woman who has given birth to five children to be.  It’s the costume, honest! (well, mostly anyway)  Mairi’s leggings in the first picture were made from this pattern.