Category Archives: Gardens

Summer Solstice

The children found a fallen and abandoned nest in the woods, nothing very out of the ordinary about that, but this one happens to be lined with a lock of Mairi Rose’s hair!

Breakfast fixin’s from the garden: garlic scapes, onion tops, sweet thyme, mint, pineapple sage and regular sage to season our sausage patties.  Lemon balm for tea.  Once the sausages were cooked I tossed all the greens from the bottom of the basket; collards, kale and the last of the bolting spinach, in the pan with the juices, added a bit of broth, then covered them and steamed.


We usually have a Solstice celebration.  Last week I was thinking about how I wanted to do something special, but I never really got beyond that thought.  The day of, on my way up to put the baby down for a nap, I told them all to come up with a plan while I was away.

This is what they came up with: A picnic dinner in the garden.  Burning the Swedish Torch that Iain made a few months back.  Baking and eating strawberry-rhubarb pie (as we are not currently eating any sweetener or grains and they made up the recipe themselves, this part was kind of gross, but they seemed happy with it anyway!).  And launching rockets.  I added a sun inspired craft and our celebration was complete.












The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Aprons

Fabric selection was limited to what I had within the house.  I dismantled my Halloween costume from last year, which started out life as a sheet.

I used this tutorial.  Because like most young women, I’ve dreamed of owning a Regency style apron since high school….roughly corresponding with the release of this version of Sense and Sensibility.  Not a coincidence.

This whole project was a hack job.  I really meant for it to be just a practice piece to make sure it fits and works well for me.  As such I gave myself permission to cut as many corners as possible.  A professional seamstress would be horrified.  Even the somewhat fastidious home sewist would be aghast.  What can I say?  Frankly, it was either fast and dirty or not at all and this is a very useful garment for me.

I should have gotten proper pictures of the back and all, but really my highest priority in the moment was to get my parsley and basil in the ground.  The straps cross in the back, which I love.  It’s comfortably supportive.  I do not like the type of apron that just goes around the neck.

I have some large patch pockets with elastic cinched tops that I plan on stitching to the skirt portion the next time I sit down at my machine.

 What have you been working on?



“Things didn’t turn out the way that they were supposed to, but what can you do?  You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it” ~Yann Martel, Life of Pi

I finished Life of Pi.  While there were some aspects of it that I liked, I did not enjoy reading it. I do not enjoy gruesome violence.  And yet at the end it left me with many things to think about.  And I feel like it could inspire many deep and intriguing conversations.  I think I’ll pass it on to the teenager who has a high threshold for gore and hold it back from the one who, like me, is more sensitive to such things.

“Cake” decorating.

I love the way that rain and dew cling to lady’s mantle.  I have mixed feelings about this year’s garden.  I try to spend any time out there in the front, where most of the flowers are.  Ever changing, wild masses at a distance and pure delicate beauty up close, they are cheering.  For now anyway.  If I don’t find the strength and time to put some serious work in on them, they will quickly be over run, much like sections of our vegetable garden…

In theory a garden bed exists under this.  The back, our beloved kitchen garden, mostly makes me feel anxious and guilty.  I haven’t had the strength for it and the open land is reclaimed so quickly.  It’s over-whelming.  Steve has spearheaded a work team on weekends and occasional evenings.  Slowly, with the help of the kids, the garden is being brought back in hand.  On my own I’ll go out and try to do a bit here and there, only to be thwarted by some minor setback, throw my hands up in the air and retreat.

When she thinks we’re not watching, this one makes a beeline for the stone wall and deftly scales it, hoping to go exploring in the woods before anyone notices she’s gone.  When caught she quickly turns around, with her hands in her lap and a painted on expression of sweet innocence and declares with tellingly over-dramatic force and emotion, “I just sittin’ here!”


A pair of grey foxes at dusk, as seen through my living room window.  One of the reasons I’m questioning the logic of our potential chicken venture.  

Two new holzhausen, making our front garden seem like a tiny village.

In the last two weeks I’ve knitted almost an entire adult sweater- body, button bands, collar, one full sleeve and two-thirds of a second.  If nothing else it is surely a personal record.  Ironically, this must make me sound like a lady of leisure.  If only that were true.  One of my children has been very ill, in a way that keeps us both up late into the night, every night.  I crawl into bed, desperate and weak, as the birds begin their morning serenade.  Most of the time there is not much I can do, beyond being present.  Luna moths bounce off the window screens, while we watch 60′s sitcoms as a distraction from the pain, our skin becomes polka-dotted with no-see-um bites and, in between providing all the practical care I can, I knit in an attempt to stay sharp and sane.

This summer is not shaping up to be the one I had planned.  In my mind, though I don’t mean to do it, I sometimes find that I’ve already written it off and started looking towards fall.


spring stitching

Whenever I see a pretty vignette on other people’s blogs, I’m always like, “wait, where are the grabbing toddler hands?!?”

Hiding out in bed, finishing up hand sewing the last seam on a tie for Elijah’s birthday.

We’re chick sitting for a few days, while we continue to consider the possibility of starting our own flock.

After my post last week, I spontaneously cast on for a cowl, designing it as I went along.  Rhythmic comfort knitting: around and around and around… I thought I might use one ball for the cowl and the other for a coordinating hat, but once the first ball was used up, I picked up the second and around and around it went.  When that one was used up I picked up an entirely different yarn and continued on with that.  Before I knew it, I essentially had an entire shawl that slips of over the head, cowl-like.  Which wasn’t the plan at all, but there you have it.

It still needs some finishing work and blocking.  I share it once it’s entirely done.

Celebrating Mother’s Day with my mother.  The beautiful linocut card and goodies underneath were made by Kris.

We are already thinking ahead towards colder weather.  This winter’s wood has been delivered and this evening I cast on for a toasty wool sweater in the color of powdered cocoa.

I’m reading Living Language by Donna Simmons of Christopherus, hoping to incorporate it into our studies, if not this year than next.



cook, knit, plant, repeat

The woods are misty green.  There are violets everywhere.  Seraphina calls them “Violet Juliette ..(our last name)..”s (her name is Seraphina Violet Juliette).  Dandelions are “Gordie-Dandy lions”, a reference to our friends Gordie and Dandy.

We’re trying to blitz-plant the garden.  The black flies are suddenly terrible.  We come up with a plan, all run out the door and try to put it into action right quick, before the bugs make us so crazy that we are all driven back inside in a buzzing cloud.

Elijah’s vest is done, and with a week to spare! There were 155 ends to work in. He counted. It’s now blocking.

I’ve mostly been getting on with some mending. Which is a good thing, since I tend to neglect it and with 5 active children it’s often much needed. Sometimes I can be so foolish! I found an entire sweater who’s only flaw was snapped yarn on a single stitch! Somehow I never thought to just fix it. And in my head there was a terrible lot that needed fixing about it, which I suppose is what happens when you leave something at the bottom of a work basket for years. Because why else wouldn’t I have just fixed it? Oh no, surely it must be a big project. Oh well, at least I’ve discovered it in time for it to pass through 3 more children! Sometimes having a big family brings with it less obvious blessings….like second, third and fourth chances!

Otherwise my knitting is sort of stalled out. I started playing around with making up a stitch pattern. It’s interesting looking, but I don’t think it’s the type of fabric I want for the project I had in mind. Too stiff. I want something mindless, but not quite as mindless as my blanket. Something quick and satisfying.
I have this little bit of yarn here that I know is not enough to turn into a vest for Galen, but that I still want to turn into a vest for Galen, and therefore keep trying to convince myself that it is indeed possible. Even though it’s really not.  And he doesn’t even really need a vest.  It was just a whim of mine.

I’m still reading and enjoying Spark Joy.

Yesterday I woke up thinking of the great many things I wanted to do with the day, but I ended up spending most of it in the kitchen, cooking, very, very slowly.  Pictured above is the Urban Poser Tomato-less Marinara in progress and this Oxtail Stew, which turned out on the greasy side, but that may have been due to some of my modifications.


spring sunshine and when bad things happen in threes

Oh, that littlest love of mine!  She would be outside 24 hours a day if she could!  As such, she seems to be forever sporting a muddy face and wild, wind swept hair.  And an imagination.  Such an imagination is developing in this tiny girl!  It’s amazing and endearing to watch as she mixes her mud muffins, adding a pinch of air to season her “greens” with and taking careful sips from an empty wooden cup and declaring her “tea”, “very ‘licious”.  Though sometimes that imagination of hers takes on a life of it’s own!  For example, several times a day I am very urgently called to save her from a bear.  No one knows where exactly this concept of a bear came from or why it has stuck, but it seems to be code for, “Mommy I’m out of my depth!  Pick me up now, quickly!”

The garden is coming along.  Sort of.  In fits and starts.

This post is something of a contradiction; pretty early spring scenes and difficult words that I’m stumbling over.  I’ve been quiet here lately.  Honestly, I’ve been quiet everywhere.

I have been struggling mightily.  While still actively treating the Lyme Disease that I contracted again last year, I’ve recently managed to acquire yet another tick borne illness.  This came just as I was finally starting to feel better and getting a sense of truly starting to reclaim my life. At the same time, there are others in our family with their own health struggles.  As the primary care-giver this means life can be very difficult, to say the least.   Complicated practical considerations aside, I’m daily called upon to model a sense of hope and optimism that I rarely feel.  It is both challenging and humbling and can quite frankly be downright depressing.  I am trying to rally, I really am.

I had been planning a project that I was really excited to share with all of you.  I was kind of hoping that you would be excited about it to, because I would like to do it together.  I’m determined to find a way to make it work still.  I need something inspiring to hold on to.


Spring Awakening: First Flowers

Part two in my collection of nature study necklaces (you can view part one here).

Coltsfoot“: The very first of flowers to appear in our area, we often spot their cheery yellow blooms surrounded by snow.

Pulmonaria“: Also known as lungwort.  With it’s multicolored blooms, semi-translucent, and delicately veined flowers nestled in a bed of mottled leaves, pulmonaria is one of the first flowers to appear in our garden each spring.

“Viola”: The johnny jump up, the violet, there are many names for this resilient quintessential spring flower.  The spring garden wouldn’t be complete without its sweet fragrance and beautiful array of colors.


Week in the Life, Tuesday

Steamed broccoli, topped with leftover turkey and gravy for breakfast.

Can you hear the constant clicking from there?  Sometimes it’s maddening, but mostly it’s fun.

Happy-at-home clothes: an old beloved dress (I bought this one when I was 14!) and my folded, both of which have seen better days!

Glorious day!  We brought as much of our schoolwork outside as possible.

A lot of melting and a lot of splashing!

Feeding the birds at our neighbor’s house where the chickadees will eat right out of your hand.

These days, no matter where I am, I always have a bit of work with me.  Sometimes just managing to sneak in a stitch here and a stitch there is the only way anything ever gets done.

They tapped a few birch trees on one of the last days of gathering maple sap.  Tapping birches is a first for us this year and part of a self-directed Woods Day school project for the younger set.

Frost burned pansies uncovered around Seraphina’s apricot tree.  She asks to go and visit her tree everyday and tells people about each of our fruit trees.

Cassava Oven Fries for a late day snack.  A real treat!

She helped me pull all of the evergreen boughs off of the lavender, a delightfully fragrant job.


in the autumn garden….

It is so strange to hear others talking about having snow when we have none ourselves!  Usually it’s the reverse.  It’s been so mild here.  I’m thankful for that.  I never would have gotten my garlic in the ground otherwise.  I just barely managed to get it in before the ground froze solid as it was.  That’s a single one of our cloves up there next to the guitar pick.  Mammoth.

Before we left for vacation in June I planted a giant garden, the largest we’ve grown yet.  We came home and instead of growing vegetables, I grew ill and the garden was by and large abandoned.  As an organic space is wont to do, it was quickly reclaimed by the forces of nature.  Without my vigilance, weeds and pests swiftly over-ran everything.  I’ve been blue about that.  It feels like so much work and progress lost.  Next year will be that much harder.  I keep reminding myself that I’ve built gardens from scratch before, there is no reason why I can’t again (I just don’t want to).  Clearing a bed, albeit with much help, and planting our 137 cloves of garlic made me feel a bit better about things.  We have this much invested in next year at least.  There will be garlic.

There was still a bit color when these photos were taken.  Everything is brown, brown now, that dusty brown bordering on grey that’s a reflection of the sky and bare trees all around.  With crunchy earth underfoot and a bleakness all about.  And still it suits me just fine and I’m happy to be out in it whenever I can.


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.  A 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.