more plants

Earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I want my garden in the spring to look like Alicia Paulson’s blog.  It’s not going to happen this year or next year or for many years, but that is my goal.

African Violets never bloom for me.  They come into the house full of sweet, cheery little blooms which are never to be seen or heard from again.  During this long dark winter, in an effort to keep myself from going entirely stir crazy, I decided that what I really needed was to nurture something green and growing.  But no spending money, remember?  So I took stock of everything we had and tried to figure out how to make more and get more enjoyment and beauty from it.  I did some serious houseplant research and rehab.  At the same time I took lots of cuttings of geraniums to start rooting them to pad out the gardens in the spring.

The violets- this one was given to us as a gift when Miss Seraphina Violet Juliette was born and it went the way of every other violet we’ve ever owned- big leaves, no flowers.  Wanting to do well by it as usual, I took it out of it’s tiny pot and put it into a nice big pot with room to grow.  Well the joke was on me!  It turns out African Violets really only bloom when they are a bit pot bound!  Mairi Rose gave me a sweet little green pot for my birthday and it’s just the thing.  I moved it down, started fertilizing regularly with fish emulsion and moved it to a sunnier window.  While they generally prefer indirect light apparently in the winter they can sometimes do with a bit more sun.  It took a couple of months, but buds appeared the week of her birthday and it now blooms non-stop.  We started many more from leaf cuttings and they all have strong roots and the beginnings of new growth.  This blog has a wealth of information on proper care.

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abundant plants

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.  You are always living three, or indeed six, months hence.  I believe that people entirely devoid of imagination never can be really good gardeners.  To be content with the present, and not striving about the future, is fatal. ~Alice Morse Earle, 1897

I’ve just started a pair of horse-themed fingerless mitts for Elijah’s birthday next month.  My knitting time has been very limited lately.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to finish this and the two other small projects I have planned for him by the middle of next month.

Sugaring season has officially ended.  We made just shy of 9.5 gallons of pure maple syrup this year.  Time to look forward to the garden.  I’m currently reading The Writer in the Garden, an anthology edited by Jane Garmey, as well as the twenty or so other gardening books that are currently scattered around my house.

Iain says I take all of the fun out of gardening and growing things.  His style would be to plant whatever he wants, whenever he wants, where ever he wants, with little regard for the likely outcome.  He’s all about the experience.  Part of me wishes I could be more in the moment like that.  Elijah however, will hunker down with me, and indeed greatly enjoys pouring through seed catalogs, making notes and plans.  Many plans.  Far more plans then we can ever set into motion.  With the two of us together it’s twice as bad.  It’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of, to dream with.  No one else tolerates my blather.  I now willingly share creative control with him.  I think he has almost as much invested in it as I do.

In an effort to cut expenses this year we’re growing almost everything from seed.  There are tiny plants on every south facing window sill and the homeschooling table has been entirely given over to a makeshift vegetable nursery.

Does anyone know what this plant is?  It’s a tropical house plant of some sort.  Our neighbor sent it over thinking it would do better at our house.  I think it’s odds would be greatly improved by my being able to positively identify it.

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15/52

Mairi Rose above: Making cordage (rope).  She wants to use it to make herself a sunhat (her idea).  Mairi Rose below: In the middle of excitedly telling a story about everyday life, which is pretty much her default state.  When I look at this picture I feel like I can almost hear her hurriedly drawing in breath before continuing with, “and then….”

He says he doesn’t know why, but lately he just wants to paint all the time, and talks of building himself an art studio with shelves for his supplies.

The between pictures are from an ice storm a couple of days ago.  We’ve been living the “Little House” life this weekend; sugaring off and attending a contra dance.  Our littlest love was the belle of the ball; running up to each and every person, showing no fear, no apprehension, no shyness, just pure, unbridled joy.  She woke up with one curl sticking straight up on the very top of her head.  The kids convinced me that it needed a bow.  She wanted to be in the center of absolutely everything, but especially the dancing.  I danced with her on my back for a while, which was fun, but really she wanted to get down and go herself, on her own two feet.  She would rush into the middle with everyone, where I would quickly scoop her up and shuttle her back, lest she be trampled as all the dancers stepped back and on again.  Run around the circle, stop to reach out and touch the fiddle, run across the room to hug Daddy’s knee, listen with awe to the drums, back to the dancers, weave through the lines, and so on, for hours, all while sporting a huge grin.

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this woman in clothes

“Clothes at one time were a reflection of the inner reality of the person, were chosen to be a reflection of personal individuality.”  ~Dotty Coplen Parenting for a Healthy Future

 

There is a great conversation going on in the comments of my last post on this subject.  So I thought I would bring it back out here into the open where people can continue to chime in.

 

What I want is this; to be relatively clean and well kempt most of the time.  To have 3 or 4 ways of doing my hair that are quick, easy and reliably nice looking.  To have a small, manageable wardrobe consisting of clothing that is comfortable, flattering, aesthetically pleasing to me and that fits both my body and my life style.  As a bonus, maybe a pretty everyday-ish kind of necklace that pleases me and some sort of tinted, moisturizing lip gloss/balm made from natural ingredients, just to feel a little pampered, polished, luxurious.  Really, that’s all I’m looking for.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time or energy, because frankly I don’t have either and I’m really not that fussy*.  I just want to stop sighing and settling when I rummage through my drawers in the morning or downright panicking when I’m called upon to go out in public.

 

I know just what I want to dress my kids in.  I can tell you exactly how I’d like my husband to dress- basically how he does now, only with more sweaters!  But I’m not sure what I love for me.  Sometimes I think I know and it turns out to be all wrong in one way or another…or even in many, many ways.  So this is the thing that I’ve been trying to figure out.

 

I was thinking about this as I was reading Women in Clothes.  What do I love?  I love cardigans, dresses, the color grey.  But what specific parts of my wardrobe do I have right now that really make me happy?  And my first thought was my wedding rings.  A couple of chapters after thinking this I came to the project shown above.  They had all the women in an office photocopy their hands and talk about their rings.

 

When Steve and I were shopping for wedding bands, my ideal was simple, but not plain.  His was simple and as plain as plain can be, so we knew they weren’t going to match exactly.  I was looking at white gold, he was looking at yellow.  I wanted  them to at least be the same color, so I went with yellow and as I’ve gotten older, I’m really glad I did.  It’s classic.  He’s classic too.

 

My rings are unique and kind of unabashedly delicate and feminine.  The Celtic knot band reminds me of filigree or lace.  It’s an oval now, not a circle.  I love that I’ve left that mark on it.  Years upon years of wearing it while knitting.  One tiny effortless motion that when repeated over and over again has the power to bend metal and make it my own.

 

The other ring is newer (to me) and part of it’s story can be found here.  When we started getting serious about renewing our vows a few years in the future, I asked him to take any money he was planning on spending on me for any gift giving occasion, even if it was just a card, and put it into a savings account instead.  So I’d get a little note for my birthday or Christmas, though he often cheated and bought the card as well- to write the note in- and eventually, with that money, he bought me this ring (which really wasn’t as expensive as it looks, in case you are shaking your head at how frivolous all this was).  We had this ring and his ring engraved.  It was made in the 1950′s, but the design is based on a style that was popular during the Georgian Era into the Victorian Era.  It’s hard to see in these pictures, but it’s actually shaped like a flower.  The two rings together are obviously very different style wise, but I like that they both feature scalloped edges.

 

*Alright, well, actually I am, but it’s a weird kind of minimalist fussy where I don’t want much, but the things I do want are very specific.

 

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pretending it’s spring

At Halloween we have the jack ‘o lantern helmet, at Easter it’s the raffia hair.

I know the calendar says it’s April, but we’re still living the March life here…muddy paths that crunch in the mornings and late afternoon, snow all around, still deep into sugaring time.  It was actively snowing during our egg hunt.  My tiny, sleepy, sweet wild violet huddled in our coat with me.  I made a joke out of the fact that we were dressed much the same for Christmas tree shopping as we were for Easter egg hunting, which might be funnier if it wasn’t 100% true.  This has been the winter that just won’t end.  The kids refused to dress appropriately.  They must have been so cold!  I figured it was the principal of the thing and decided not to fight it.

We thought it best for the little one to have her own private egg hunt, inside, where no snowsuits were required.

Our natural egg dying went much better this year with deep chocolate tones from coffee, chamomile colored chartreuse eggs, rusty tones from onion skins and pale lilac from red cabbage.  I’m partial to the robin’s egg blue ones, also dyed with red cabbage.  You can get an amazing numbed of hues, depending on technique and dye time.  Directions for the botanical eggs can be found here.

I made Galen a shirt.  Often I make the girls dresses for special occasions, simply because I like making dresses.  Also, they are little and I can usually find bits of fabric that will cover them.  Lately I’ve been wondering if Galen doesn’t feel a bit left out sometimes.  So I made a surprise shirt for him a priority.  I used an old work shirt of Steve’s that was in wonderful shape, but met an untimely end when a sleeve got snagged on something sharp.  Since he was wearing a “Daddy shirt” he thought it wise to borrow some daddy accessories.  I’m not sure it’s possible for him to look more like his daddy.  Who do you think is taller?

Speaking of taller, I made Iain stand next to me so that we could see our reflections in the mirror.  I know what he looks like from my perspective, but I had no idea what we looked like together.  He dwarfs me.  It’s incredible.

Back to the sewing- I didn’t want Mairi to be disappointed, so I whipped her up a quick skirt.  Seraphina wore the little bunny pinafore that I made Mairi Rose for her second Easter.

Picture taking on Easter is really a ridiculous practice.  In almost every picture they look like chipmunks with their cheeks full of treats!

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14/52

The mud pie kitchen is open once again on a limited, but very enthusiastic basis.

This tiny patch of earth in a sheltered spot right outside our back door (the rest of our yard still being covered in a foot or more of snow), is like a whole new world to her.  This new world is both thrilling- freedom!  bird song! mud to squish! sticks to pick up! and frustrating- clunky boots on uneven ground! mommy’s insistence that mud isn’t for eating!

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for Finn, for me

A wee sweater set for the fourth baby boy of a dear old friend.

“When men want to dress as women, they want to be the sexy version, in lace.  Men never want to be a stay-at-home-mom still in her period underwear and nothing else at four p.m., nursing a baby and zombie-ing her way through the house, not picking up anything, crying in front of the dishwasher.” ~Christen Clifford, Women in Clothes

I was going to chose a more optimistic quote, but this is the one I read over again four or five times both chuckling and identifying with the emotion it evokes.  Though I truly don’t walk around the house in my underwear.  That’s kind of awkward with teenagers about.  Plus, it’s really bloody cold here.  If I were to describe my “look” at the moment, the way my style reads, I would say it downright screams, “my house is a mess, my life is a mess, I’m a mess”.  Yup, I think that pretty much sums it up.  It’s possible that I’m being a bit uncharitable with myself here.  It’s just I kind of, sort of, thought that there might be a point in my life where I was somewhat pulled together and I guess, deep down, in the back of my mind, I kind of, sort of, thought that would have happened by this point in my life?  Not so.

I remember attending one of Galen and Mairi’s shows last year.  I was really struck by the other mothers and how fashionable and well, finished they were…make-up, hair, outfit, the whole package.  Me? As I was running out the door I tried to grab the burp cloth with the least number of stains and I made an effort to smooth my hair down a bit in the car.

I don’t really have any desire to be fashionable.  For me the longing is for something else entirely.  I have this conversation with Steve often.  I’ll say how so-and-so always looks so nice.  And he’ll say that what they do to their nails is strange or that he doesn’t like their haircut or style of dress.  Most of the time I agree with him that their look isn’t my cup of tea, as it were.  That’s not what I envy them, it’s that they clearly took the time to consider who they were, how they wanted to be perceived by the world and acted on it.  My appearance says a lot about me as well, but it’s rather haphazard and generally not done with much, if any, intention.  I’m not really sure that’s what I want to be putting out into the world.  Like it or not, everyone has a style whether carefully cultivated or entirely accidental.  I think I would like mine to be more about who I want to be.

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Week in the Life, Friday

It seems like she says a new word every day.  She started saying Galen this week (“Gah-len”).  He covered his face with a sheet this morning and said, “peek…” and she pulled it off and said, “a-boo!”

I had a garlic-y roast slowly cooking in the crockpot all day, filling the house with it’s rich savory aroma.

Posters for 4H, one finished and one still in progress.

We’re growing a lot of our own starts this year.  The seedlings are coming along.  Many were transplanted into bigger containers today.

They are very fond of cat’s cradle and other string games.

More yarn for the blanket.

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