Category Archives: Gardens

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.


42/52 and gathering in

Seraphina: Watching the leaves showering down.  It was her first time in mittens this season.  I joked that she was bobbing for tomatoes, as she kept leaning over and trying to remove the cherry tomatoes from the plants using only her mouth!

After an unusually warm September it seems as though deep autumn is very suddenly upon us. With our first hard frost on the horizon we spent Saturday bringing in the last of the delicate, tender produce.  As if eager to emphasis the point, snow started sifting down as we filled baskets with green tomatoes…and continued through the next day; wildly swirling at times, but mostly melting on the still warm earth.  Garden fresh flowers filling my windowsills, with snow falling on the other side.  Such a strange contradiction!


moss and sky

I’m almost finished with Mairi Rose’s birthday dress.  Is it wrong that I already have her birthday sweater for next year (technically the year after since it will be 5 days into 2017) picked out?  Is it wrong that the same can be said for four out of my five children?

I’m using up the last of the yarn my friend gave me to make Seraphina a little pullover.  It has a crazy big collar.  I’m in the midst of something of a collar obsession, but this is the first time that I’m actually acting on it.  The yarn is the mossiest of moss colors!  When she wears it I believe we will be at risk of losing her in the woods.

We are solidly into woolens season now.  My Sweet Wild Violet is outgrowing most of her bonnets, placing a collection of sweet toddler hats on my must-knit list.  I’m secretly pleased to have such an excuse.  Little bonnets are one of my very favorite things to knit!

I just started reading Kim John Payne’s latest book.  I actually bought it for myself.  I very rarely buy myself books, preferring to avail myself of our local library system.  But I felt certain that I would want to revisit this one often, delving deeper with each return.

Steve brought home a crate of clemetines yesterday.  The house smells like Christmas.  I’m starting to get serious about making plans for the coming holiday/birthday season.  What about you?


Autumnal Blooms

This week Steve and I have pushed the concept of lack of sleep to new limits.  I left Seraphina in the care of someone else for the first time ever.  And also the second time ever.  I spent a spell in the hospital.  We said goodbye to an old friend, much, much too soon.  We accomplished almost nothing in the way of homeschooling.  I’ve given grave and serious consideration to some of our commitments and have come to some conclusions that will alter our day to day life.  It feels like there are more to come.  I don’t really know why I’m sharing this here.  I think I’m just so desperately tired that I’m no longer capable of filtering.  I’m like a sieve.  It has been a very long week.

These flowers are mostly passed over now, though the zinnias and calundula remain.  All of the petals have dropped from the black-eyed susans.  The asters are ragged.  The sunflowers in all their glory were beaten down by a storm.  After a painfully slow start, our morning glories have decided now, when the garden has already been touched by frost in places, is the time to cloak themselves in buds and scattered blooms.

I’m knitting.  I don’t seem to be managing much else, but I’ll knit quietly through illness, through car rides, around a sleeping toddler.  She needs clothes for the cold weather to come.  Miles of yarn has passed through my fingers in the making of clothes for my baby.  It’s comforting in it’s rhythm and simplicity.  I’m the queen of basic patterns right now.  The birthday sweaters in my knitting bag are a pleasantly challenging lot, but my daytime mindless knitting is all as straightforward as knitting gets.  The little sweater above is an In Threes, with lots of room to grow.

I’m re-reading Simplicity Parenting.  I pick it up from time to time.  As my children grow, different aspects speak to me.



Catching Up

Let’s call this post 38/52 and 39/52 as well, shall we?  I count at least 5 kids up there, so yes, I think we shall!

Our plans for the last week and a half were upended.  Many things shifted and changed.  We had company.  Various family members from out of state visiting, leaving, others coming, some returning again.  I’ve barely touched the computer in the last 12 days and I have an inbox full of unanswered (mostly unread, eek!) emails.

Galen is working on a homeschooling project, gathering and recording stories, to start compiling a family history.  He was conducting interviews throughout the week.  So far it has been a beautiful, moving and poignant experience, at least once he got past a fit of giggles over the first one.

My father oversaw music lessons for the week.

Have I mentioned that I’m learning French?  Galen and Mairi wanted to study French because of ballet, so I am learning along with them.  It would not be my first choice of second language, but it can’t be denied that there are some fabulous patterns in French, so there’s that at least.  Also, it turns out that I’m part French, which I totally didn’t know until like this part year, so maybe this somehow makes up for lost time?

After an unusually warm start to September, autumn is finally starting to set in.  Last weekend we harvested all of our squash and made our first batch of applesauce.  This weekend I pulled out my wool tights to go to a corn maze.  On my sister’s last night here we roasted peaches and ate them topped with homemade vanilla-caramel ice cream.  We’ve been eating way too many sweets.  She added a few rows to the now well-known blanket.  It feels good to start to settle into the inward arch of our year.  I think Mairi Rose and I will plant some bulbs in the garden this week.

I wanted to thank everyone for the kind comments and messages over the last several weeks!  They really do mean the world to me.


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!



Galen and Mairi Rose: In the garden!

Seraphina: After watching me cut her brothers’ hair, she climbed up into the chair (this one is a great climber!), wrapped the towel about herself and pulled her hair out to the side, going, “eh! eh! eh!”  Since I can think of almost nothing that would induce me to snip off those precious curls, we made a great show of combing out her hair and pretending to cut it.


bountiful blooms

Below you will find the post I abandoned in the chaos of preparing for our trip.  I came back with an infection, everyone came down with a cold, my storage devise is informing me that there is no room left for my pictures.  I haven’t so much as managed to finish unpacking.  And I’m generally feeling at odds with the world at the moment, but trying hard to get back on track.  So in the mean time…

We’ve reached that glorious time of year where people just bring in wild armfuls of blossoms and foliage.  The peonies are amazing.  Every year I think I will make some sort of form to hold them up and I never do.  They just flop their giant, blowsy, tousled ruffle covered heads every which way.  After four summers here, our flower garden is really starting to come into it’s own.

I had been reading a gardening book by Christopher Lloyd when Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden arrived at the library for me.  I found myself completely gobsmacked by the photographs, the stories, the little hints here and there and perhaps most of all the sensuous descriptions of so many wonderful plants.  I want to look up each and every variety mentioned.  I’m afraid the venerable Mr. Lloyd very quickly found himself unceremoniously tossed aside.   So sorry Chris!

I whipped up a quick pair of spring green toddler booties to replace the outgrown striped pair.  I divide the yarn up just so, making sure there was enough left to finish the two ties, with perhaps a mere inch of yarn left to spare.  Having been called away after just having finished the second one, I returned to find two booties and one tie.  The other is lost, seemingly never to be found again.*  It’s been several days now, but I’m still holding out hope (secretly I’m still holding out hope that the half finished sweater that I lost while on vacation 7 years ago will somehow miraculously reappear in my life, just to put my hope when it comes to lost knitwear into perspective).

* It has since been found closed up in a math book!


Licorice the Lamb and Other Spring Tales

Over the course of two weeks we graduated from wee, petite, miniature bouquets nestled in spice jars and extract bottles, to full blow bounty of blossoms.  The pulmonaria (which sounds so much prettier than “Lungwort”) has done amazingly well this year.  I want to divide it up and put a little everywhere.

It’s only May and already the garden has gotten the better of me.  I can’t keep up.  Also I have a certain little someone who really wants nothing more then to be permitted to stand right in the middle of my garden beds.  She climbs in, and stands perfectly still, dead center, looking over her shoulder, waiting for someone to notice and frantically come running over to scoop her up and out…lettuce seedlings trampled under foot, radishes flattened.  Today she discovered the joys of picking all the flowers off the strawberry plants.  How could I have forgotten what a challenge this could be?  I’m trying to channel my inner Farmer Dan.  Years ago, we were members of a wonderful CSA and one day the head farmer stood causally by, watching as three children ran right through a freshly planted field.  Their mother was mortified.  He just smiled and shrugged and explained that it was factored in.  That they planted in a way that assumed kids at play and the occasional dog digging something up.  He really seemed sincere, but I have to wonder if inside it wasn’t eating at him just a little?  All that work!

We have a lamb now.  Right.  So, uhm, that happened.  Though I’m still not really clear on how.  We were visiting a friend and the new baby lambs and there was this day old one being rather violently rejected by her mother.  She was crying so pitifully that it was making my milk let down.  The scale was tipping and she was rapidly running out of the reserve she needed to survive.  Our friend had to leave for work.  I offered a to help out if she ever needed a hand, thinking that you know, we could come down and take a feeding shift from time to time and before I knew what was happening, Iain had a little black lamb in his arms and Elijah had a jar of sheep colostrum and they were headed back to our place.  She’s 2.5 weeks old now and what with middle of the night feedings, and milking sheep and all, it’s been a bit intense at times.

Steve was a rather perturbed (“Wait a minute, so I don’t even get consulted before we move barnyard animals into the house?“).  This is a very valid gripe.  In my defense, what was happening hadn’t totally dawned on me and I was still rather befuddled by the what, how and why when he got home.

She’s just fostering here.  She’ll go back to live with the flock once she’s weaned, but it’s been agreed that she will remain the children’s sheep.  They have been working very hard to care for her.

Her name is Licorice.  Seraphina calls her “Bah-bah”.  They follow each other around.  I really couldn’t quite say who is following whom.  Bah-bah will bend down and nibble something Fina will nibble next to her.  Bah-bah will run up to me bleating to be petted on the head.  Sera will follow a few steps behind, looking up with an expectant “Bah?” and then run away happily once she’s been petted as well.

She’s still a lap-lamb.  Though she’ll be too big for that before long.


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.