a holzhausen (and 35/52)

“Every man looks upon his woodpile with a sort of affection.” ~Henry David Thoreau

In this case I think it’s understandable, this one is a beauty with a lot of charm – you know, for a wood pile!  Once our regular wood storage was full Steve decided to get a bit creative with the over-flow and, along with Iain and Elijah, spent a portion of last week building a holzhausen.  This is an old-fashioned, European, beehive shaped stack- practical for a number of reasons, but artful as well.

Later in the week we were entertaining house guests from out of state; old friends that we cherish dearly, but scarcely get to see.


32/52, 33/52, 34/52

Some how there were very few pictures of Galen the last several weeks?  It happens that way sometimes, where one child isn’t represented for a while.  At other times there will be a ridiculous surplus of photos of that very same child (see the post below!).

Some highlights: A tree fort in progress, late season sheering, a first tooth lost, berry picking in her new favorite hat, the joy of a new play space, and a tiny girl who continues to climb into or onto everything she can find.

Mastitis is the ailment of the week.  It’s just been a constant barrage since the beginning of June. I’m starting to have serious concerns about the abilities of my immune system.

I’ve been watching talks given by Shefali Tsabary on YouTube.  There is great strength there.  I plan on checking our library for her books.

I wanted to thank all of the people who have commented on this post.  I was truly touched by your observations and kind words.  These days, for the most part, there are only a few people who comment regularly here.  Sometimes I feel like I’m mostly just talking out loud to myself.  It was nice to be reminded that there are other people out there, busy people like me, who don’t always have the time or the desire to make their presence known, but who none the less, are still appreciative of this space.


great garlic

Our garlic harvest this year was tremendous.  We credit the liberal application of horse manure.  We are to the point of being entirely self-sufficient for garlic!  I haven’t bought any garlic at all in well over a year.  It’s a little thing, but I’m terribly pleased about it.  The garlic we grew last year did not quite make it through to this year’s harvest, but we made it far enough along that by the time we ran out we were able to substitute garlic leaves and later on, garlic scapes.  I planted still more last autumn, trying to pinpoint the right amount to provide us with all we need for both liberal use in the kitchen and planting.  I felt confident I had assured us a surplus.  That is until we brought it all in and the children discovered that the most prevalent variety, with it’s huge cloves and rich, mellow flavor is incredibly delicious roasted.  So much so that they’ve taken to roasting 4 and 5 heads at a time for snacks!  I confess, I didn’t account for that!


life goes on

When I haven’t posted here for a while I have a hard time getting back into it.  I sometimes feel like I’ve lost my voice.  Kind of like when you run into an acquaintance you haven’t seen for a while and neither of you really knows what to say.  It’s hard to get the conversation started. I think it was good for me to have a break.  It made me wonder about my future in this space.  Perhaps it’s time to move on?

As you may have guessed, our computer problems passed the point of no return.  My laptop wouldn’t stay on for more than 2 minutes at a time.  It has since been replaced, but I’m not completely set up here yet.

I don’t think it will come as a great galloping shock to anyone to here that I’ve been struggling this summer, and if I’m completely honest for some time before.  There are many factors, but I think the most pressing one is this feeling that I’m spending my entire life either being sick or trying to catch up from being sick.  Normally I’m very good at putting things into perspective.  This is my life.  This is the body I’ve been given and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to make the most out of every possible moment!  But this last round kind of did me in.  Not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well.  The last time I got Lyme Disease, I was probably the healthiest I’d ever been in my adult life.  I had worked very hard to get to that point.  And in all the time since I’ve never recovered even a fraction of that level of wellness.  I made it back to functioning (and even that often requires a whole lot of just pushing through the exhaustion and pain) and never more.  To be in that situation again, I couldn’t help but wonder what would be lost this time?  The better part of a much needed summer for starters.  So I’ve struggled.  I am struggling.  But I’m trying.  And the more I can be a part of the beautiful every day and reclaim my life as I wish it to be, the lighter that burden feels.



A couple of years ago for my birthday Steve came up with a sweet little idea to make the days leading up to my birthday a small but growing celebration with little treats along the way, complete with custom made little stockings, a la Advent.  He called it “Melvent”, which is not very catchy.  This year we rebranded the concept into Dadvent, which is actually rather catchy.

We filled his stockings with offerings from different people, things like favorite dinners every night, foot massages and the occasional edible treat, as well as the finishing up of projects around the house that he’s been meaning to get to or wanting to see done.

I believe Elijah styled the welcoming committee.  I know I certainly had nothing to do with it.

After the wall painting fiasco of 2013, they wanted to be absolutely certain that he spotted their surprise.  It turns out they went a bit too far.  He noticed the lights.  He noticed the sign.  He (obviously) noticed the loud, excited crowd of dressed up children.  He totally over-looked the stockings and the little gift mounted on the wall.

I’m having computer problems again which is making it hard to accomplish anything computer related (ordering school supplies, ordering library books, setting meetings, returning emails, posting here…), but giving me a bit more time to work on stuff around the house.  But really only a bit because I find myself wasting too much time fighting with the computer and trying to bend it to my will before I give up.



Yarn Along

Yesterday Seraphina said “yarn” for the first time, over and over again, while sweetly sitting and playing by herself with a lovely basketful.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been more proud or pleased.  I called everyone from all over the house to come and hear her.

I’ve made a decent dent in Iain’s birthday sweater (above), though I confess to neglecting it a bit this week as I seem to have developed a crush on Galen’s birthday sweater, which has left me rather preoccupied.

I’ve been reading Nelson Mandela’s Conversations with Myself, partially to see if it’s a good summer reading option for the older boys.  I’m enjoying it, but I think that without at least some background and a general feel for the course of events, it might be hard to follow.  The entire book consists of snippets of conversations and correspondence, none of which is presented chronologically.  Which isn’t a criticism.  It works for me, I just don’t think it’s the best option as an introduction to Mandela’s life.  I think I’ll try Long Walk to Freedom.  I’ve not read it before.



Before leaving for our trip, I went on something of a sunhat sewing bender.  The large males of our clan have their own thing going on.  Steve is a baseball cap kind of guy.  The. End.  The older boys rock their own personal farm-hand-style looks; Elijah in his well worn cowboy hat and Iain in an old, hand-me-down straw hat.  Everyone else?  They got new hats….

Seraphina’s is the same old Angry Chicken Bonnet that I’ve made more times than I can count.  This one was made from fabric meant to match a little half-finished dress that’s been sitting on my sewing table since, oh, November or so…, trimmed with off-set, butter yellow, velvet ric-rac.

I don’t think I ever shared the most recent winter bonnet I made for Mairi using this same pattern?

We found out that it was going to be bitter cold the night before one of her outdoor (obviously) nature programs and I wanted something that was going to cover her ears and wrap around her cheeks.  Of course I had to be able to make it quickly and with supplies I had on hand.  I made this using scraps from my coat.  I also managed to eek out an extra pair of mittens for Galen that night, using the same material, but I don’t think I ever took pictures of them and they have long since been packed away for the season.

On to Rosebud’s summer accessories…

She said she wanted a hat in greens, yellows, and oranges with flowers, hearts, leaves and other “spring things”.  I wanted a hat that would offer a lot protection for for her very fair complexion.  I did what I could!  At one point it was going to be patchwork with different fabrics for each section of the crown, but the fabrics refused to play together nicely.  I simplified it and came up with this, which she seems to be pleased with and which clashes with her bathing suit something fierce!

This lovely reversible hat pattern came from the My Childhood Treasures Etsy store.

While the girls received ribbons, silky bows and velvet trim, Galen got lots and lots of top-stitching on a sandpiper covered hat, in his favorite color, made from the free Oliver and S Reversible Bucket Hat pattern.

Pathetic attempts at self portraits….

Why yes, this is what my hair looks like towards the end of a week camping.  Sexy beach-y waves, my backside!

Mine was made from the same pattern as Mairi’s.  All of the hats were made with fabric left over from other projects, but I thought it best not to bore you with listing them all!