Category Archives: Our Little Home

birthday books and a giveaway

~click on the pictures to enlarge them~

I’m starting a new tradition; in addition to birthday sweaters, there will now be birthday books.  Just simple little photo books showing the year that’s past from the child in question’s point of view.  Their baseball games, dance classes, choir performances, horseback riding lessons, school work, hobbies, projects, collections, etc, all bound up together in a little book of snapshots representing that year of their life.  I think they will be well loved.  Above are a couple of pages that I’ve created for Galen, of his 6th birthday celebration, in preparation for his 7th birthday at the end of this month (note: I did leave some of the journaling off these pages as it was of a personal nature).

I’ve used a lot of different scrap booking products over the years.  From the good old-fashioned paper and pen kind to photo book products from many of the major retailers.  When I had an opportunity to review My Memories scrap booking software, I decided to give it a try with this project in mind.  I’m still experimenting and learning all about the program, but I can say there are a lot of options with this software.  So much more then anywhere else I’ve tried.  I know everyone has their own style and preferences, for me I often find the challenge is in being able to create pages that are basic enough to suit my own minimalist, photo-journalistic style.  I don’t like a lot of extras.  I want clear large pictures and not much else.  Not a problem!  As you can see I did play around a bit with a few backgrounds and some other stuff, just to see.  And of course I had to try the ric rac.  I mean, it’s ric rac….  If, however, you happen to like all of the bells and whistles, well, holy cow, feel free to spend a year or two browsing through all of the options, some free and some for a small fee.  Those are all of the add-ons to customize your style.  The basic software comes with many, many options to begin with (enough to last me a lifetime).  And it’s not just about photo books…you can create calendars, cards, all kinds of multimedia stuff that I haven’t even begun to delve into.  I’ve just discovered a whole collection of youtube videos on how to use some of these features and I’m looking forward to creating all kinds of interesting projects.

One of my goals with the birthday books was to capture some of the little details of that particular year.  The things they will look at years from now and say, “Oh yeah!  Do you remember the year I made all kinds of paper dolls?” or “the year I wove like, 40 potholders”.  I want pictures of favorite books and toys, all the small things that change so rapidly as a child grows and are easy to forget, but so much more pleasant to remember.  The pages below are pictures of Galen’s room in our old house, complete with peeks into work and treasure baskets.

These are the kinds of things that I think he will look back fondly on and be happy to remember.

So now, on to the giveaway!  One lucky reader will receive a copy of the full My Memories Suite software package.  To enter please go check out the My Memories site and leave me a comment on this post.  The winner will be announced Monday morning (2/11).

As a special to everyone here, My Memories is offering a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the My Memories store.  To redeem your coupon just enter the code: STMMMS99407



Both here and at home.  A new banner, new color scheme, things moving about, still quite a lot of tweaking to be done here.  Furniture is shifting all over the house, yet again, and I’m trying to set up another temporary crafting spot to help me through all of the last minute holiday/birthday crafting.  Elijah’s cacti collection is thriving in it’s new spot on my weaving bench.  Things are still being set up.  There are no less then 3 quilts in progress here right now.  I hung the decorative plates that my Mother-in-law sent.  My kitchen window sill is getting a wee bit crowded.  Every time I turn around someone is setting another something there to root.  Remember our celery from back in October?  Look how big it’s gotten now!  And the one from the following week…and the one from the week after that…


kitchen garden tour

~July of 2011, when we first came to see the property.~

This is where I’ve spent so much of the last several months.  I think it may be the dearest spot on earth.  In the summer time the hummingbirds are often about, sometimes 3 or more at a time.  They call to each other from different parts of the garden.  Have you ever heard a hummingbird before?  They make the most adorable little squeak!  The hummingbirds are long gone now.  Only the hardiest of my greens are still going strong through regular frosts.  I’m looking back now over a season of growth and dreaming of next year.

~July 2012~

So much has changed here.  And it is still very much a work in progress.  What started out as a completely overgrown 19 x 22 plot is now a 22 x 50 space, all freshly fenced in.  Planting this year was far from methodical.  Basically whatever was ready to be planted went into whatever space I had managed to clear.  We were still building new beds well into autumn.

Outside the garden, off to the side there is actually a beautiful stone wall.  It had become so overgrown that you couldn’t see it at all.  When you live in the woods you have to decide where the cultivated land stops and the wilderness starts, otherwise you end up with tree branches knocking into your windows.  That wall is our line on this side.  The day after these photos were taken we started clearing it out.

All kinds of gardening methods are represented here.  There are some container plants; some planted in pots others in objects found around the yard.  There are traditional beds.  There are raised beds.  There are spots were we experimented with lasagna gardening.  There are beds quickly made out of old pallets, layered plantings, a bit of everything.

The three beds above (two of which were already in existence when we moved in, as seen above and one that we built), are outside of the main garden space, near to the house, next to the herb garden.  Two of them were gardens to Iain and Elijah this year.  We ate some of their turnips just this morning.  It was an in between time when I took this photo, with many seedlings too small to be seen and a swath mature plants waiting to be harvested.

~Early Autumn 2012~

Each of the children had their own small plot to tend.  Little Rosebud found a pack of 3 year old ‘Cinderella’ pumpkin seeds and insisted on planting them.  The vines grew lush and full, but the chipmunks ate every pumpkin just as soon as it started to show.


Our “orchard” is an orchard no more.  For various reasons we had to move everything and it’s all out back with the kitchen garden now.  This idea caused a lot of internal turmoil for me at first, but really I think it’s for the best.  I’m with the trees so much more now.  It’s easier to water and keep an eye on it all.  Gardening, simplified.  It does, however, mean that we have to be much more creative with our use of space.

We now have what amounts to an Orchard Walk, along one side of the garden in the area near the wall that we cleared.  All of the trees are here, under planted with some strawberries that I’m hoping won’t deplete their nutrients too much.  Before and between the boxed in trees reside high bush blueberries and a lone rhubarb plant.

See the wall and everything off to the side now?  These photos were taken right before our first heavy frost of the season.

~November of 2012~

I’m so excited to see what next year will bring.

                                           before                                                and in progress


Week in the Life Wrap Up

Well, I did it!  I managed to finish it all, though it only took us a week to live it and me two to record it.  This is kind of a supplemental post.  I wasn’t as good about capturing our living space throughout the week as I would have liked.  So late on Week in the Life Sunday, I went about and took some pictures of what things are like right now.  It’s especially relevant as by this time next year, I imagine that very little will be the same.

We have three bedrooms on the second floor, none of which are being used because we are still working on flooring them.  In the meantime, we’re all sleeping on the first floor.  Which in turn means that our beds and things are displacing the objects that rightfully belong in those spaces.  It’s a bit cluttered.  And there is a lot that we haven’t been able to unpack yet, because we haven’t been able to prepare the space for it.  But really I don’t think it’s bad at all and soon enough we’ll be upstairs as well.  We’ve lived in much, much tighter quarters.  Go way back in the archives and you’ll see what I mean.  It will be nice and funny to be able to look back at these and say fondly, “oh yes, remember those days?”.

This is the view from the dinning room into what we’ve been calling “the bunk room”, current bedroom to all three boys and future homeschooling space/home office.

Galen’s area.  He made his bed himself.  It should also be mentioned that I took these after 7 kids had spent the day playing and running about in here, so it’s all very lived in, with nothing at all being arranged ‘just so’.

And the other side of the room, where Iain and Elijah reside, with a big pile of boxes, containing all their worldly possessions stacked up behind their beds.

Along with our little, make-shift area for homeschooling supplies…

Arranged on the changing table that Steve built when I was pregnant with Little Rosebud. No closets for anyone either, so dress clothes hang off the edges.

The heavily rumpled space above, also off of the dining room, is my future studio and current bedroom to The Man, The Girl and myself.

Which means that all of my crafty stuff is in the living room, along with a great many boxes and lots of plants.


Where we’re at…

I come to you without photos today because, while I have a few to share, my photo storage program has decided to update and reorder all of my pictures.  And it seems like this is going to take a while.  I’ll try to add the pictures in later when I have access to them again.


With the house

It’s been a whirlwind week.

*We’ve moved almost all of our possessions over.

*Had family come for a short, work intensive visit.

*Came close to finishing painting all the bedrooms.  Ours could use another coat on the ceiling and a bit on the trim.

*Decided to pretend that closets don’t count as actually being a part of the bedrooms and therefore don’t need to be totally painted for the bedrooms to be considered “done”.  La, la, la, I can’t see you!

*Except that I can because they don’t yet have doors either.

*Cleaned out under the house and in the basement, including the cord of wood covered in white fuzz.

*Had the air quality specialist out.  Again.

*Got internet hooked up.

*Had the heating ducts cleaned.

*Moved things and re-arranged and moved some more.

*Enjoyed this glorious, strangely warm weather and watched the snow melt in the gardens, revealing to us the things that have grown there before and the things that will grow there again.

*Found little bits of green peeking out from under last years debris in the herb garden and was delighted to find some of my favorite plants already in place and well established.

*Started to excavate said plants, as a “break” from hard manual labor.

*Consistently forgot to schedule someone to come out and empty the septic tank.  Which is really not the thing you want to forget.  Especially considering the inspector said it looked like it was a couple of years over due.

*Pried off, labeled and stored all of the baseboards from the second floor.

*Ordered more paint.  Again.

*Put a lot of stuff in the attic, just to get it out of the way.

*Wondered why on earth we have all of this stuff anyway?  And where did it all come from?!?

*Set up a P.O. box.  Had the postal women exclaim, “thank god!” when we came in.  Apparently three unclaimed packages constitutes over-whelming in our tiny new post office.  Oops.

*Had 700 board feet of wide-plank white pine delivered.  Forget Rubik’s Cubes, you want a real challenge?  Try getting 16′ long boards around a bend in a stairwell without damaging either board or wall.

*And we still managed to get in our second trimester homeschooling report the the local school district, which has nothing at all to do with the house, but was way high up on my to-do list!


It’s been a strange week for me.  Not at all in a bad way, just very out of the ordinary.

*I think I took all of two pictures in seven days.

*I haven’t knit at all.

*I have been making slow progress on a needlework sampler.  I’m up to ‘F’ now.  It’s very slow going.  Or at least it feels so to me.  I’m told I’m quite a fast knitter and I’m used to quick results.  But really this is just the pace I need right now.

*I’ve been going to bed early.

*The fast and easy foods we resorted to over the move did not do well by my tummy.  It’s led me to intentionally fasting for the first time in my life.  I’ve been wary of fasts in the past but I’ve found a method that’s quite effective in keeping blood sugar and energy stable.  I’m three days in now and so far it’s going well.

*I haven’t been on the computer almost at all, no blog posting, no blog reading, really no idea what’s going on in the outside world right now, beyond the little sun-shiny hollow that encompasses home.

*The exception being the couple of times I’ve been called upon to shop for things to keep the work on the house moving along.

*On that note, I suspect many people who follow my pinterest boards are ready to kill me, or well, at least unfollow me, on account of my current switch plate obsession.

*I have not missed posting here and was quite happy for the break.  But the last couple of days I’ve started taking a few pictures here and there and I’m starting to feel ready to ease back into being in this space regularly again, feeling refreshed.

*I’m starting to think that this may well turn into a house blog for a while and hoping no one minds too much.

*I’ve started my own mini yoga practice.  I’ve not been able to maintain a regular practice since I got ill last summer.  It takes too much strength and energy to maintain postures that have always come so easily in the past.  But post-move, aching shoulders lead me to sitting in a basic sitting pose, our first morning here, taking 10 or so deep breaths, while raising and lower my arms, then stretching to each side and forward.  So simple that it’s barely anything, but it’s felt so powerful to me and I’ve done it every morning since then, adding in a slight back bend a couple days later and occasionally, on the days I feel up for it, a bit more.  I’m hoping that as I heal I’ll be able to branch out from here.

So, what do you think is strangest, that I haven’t been knitting, that I haven’t been eating or that I haven’t been taking pictures?



We haven’t been here for long, but this house has been good to us.

It was a luxurious stepping stone on our path towards Home.  We’ve loved our time here, but we are eager and excited to begin this next phase.

Tomorrow is moving day.  We have some family coming to stay for a few days, contractors coming in and out, flooring being delivered, painting to finish, all of our possessions to re-arrange.  The Papa is taking a little time off from work and I think I’m going to take a week or so away from here while we start to settle in.

I’ll see you in about a week with all sorts of updates and photos, I’m sure!  Until then, be well all, and enjoy all the little blessings of your lives.





adventures in remodeling (a.k.a. paint and paint again)

This morning Iain and I spent 15 minutes looking for my mixing bowl so I could make breakfast before Elijah pointed out that I brought lunch to the new house in it over the weekend.  These days it doesn’t matter what house I’m in, whatever I need is invariably at the other one.

We’re coming off of a long weekend of work and gearing up for yet another one.  We’re all pretty beat.  It got to the point recently where I was prying a baseboard off the wall, noticed blood staining said wall, figured it was probably mine, but was too tired to tell where it was coming from, or to care.  (I’m perfectly fine, I must have cut my finger on something at some point without noticing)

We’re encountering all the usual remodeling successes and mishaps, in our own original way.  Though some days it seems to lean more towards the latter.

Going two weeks back, I spent the weekend painting all of the trim boards in all of the bedrooms.  As I was on the floor painstakingly touching up the baseboard in the boys room, after we had finally finished with the walls, I started to think.  You see all of the carpeting in the second floor has been torn out, nasty, toxic stuff that it is.  The plan was to put in wood flooring sometime in the foreseeable, but not immediate future.  So two full days into trim painting it finally dawns on me that we’re going to want to rip off the baseboards before we install the floors.  duh.  And goodness knows we’ll probably scratch up our nice, freshly painted walls in the process.  right.  Clearly there will be some deconstruction followed by more painting in my future.  And those floors are coming sooner, rather then later.

I don’t mind painting really.  Though this is my first experience with this kind of marathon painting where we are trying to paint several rooms at once in a short period of time, and I can see where that could start to wear a person down.  But in general I don’t mind it, so long as I am using a paint that doesn’t make me feel ill.  I don’t like painting ceilings.  I’m not built for it.  Steve says things like, “oh, we could bang this ceiling out in half an hour.”  No, you and your long arms could.  I would spend at least that long just moving the ladder around.  And I hate washing brushes.

I don’t mind washing dishes.  I kind of like washing laundry (have you heard that they have these newfangled machines that basically do the work for you?  What’s not to like about that?!?).  I hate washing brushes.  If someone out there has some fabulous, chemical free way of getting paint off of rollers and brushes, I’m all ears.  Because scolding hot water, breaking my nails trying to scrape the bits of paint and wearing the skin off my hands is really not my idea of a good time.  I’m thinking there must be a system or method I’m unaware of.  I used to hate washing dishes too until I discovered a system that works for me and now it doesn’t bother me in the least.

This weekend I painted our bedroom.  I’m horrible at picking paint colors.  I know exactly what I want in my head and have no earthly clue how to make that translate to paint on a wall.  I’m further impaired at the moment by my paint of choice being sold on-line and not actually having samples to fool with.  I ordered a color and thought I would end up mixing it with another color that I already had to get the shade I was looking for.  The paint came and we liked it.  I put it on the wall and we liked it.  It dried and became much darker and I still liked it, but it really wasn’t what I was going for.  And yet I kept painting.  Steve popped in to ask how things where going.  I told him that it was kind of dark, and I wasn’t sure that it was the color I wanted.  He, reasonably enough, asked why I was continuing to paint.  I had no real good answer to that, other then that I truly did like the color and I was having an internal debate about whether or not I could let my original vision for the room go.  My inclination for most of the day being that I could, or at least should.  I was already so far.  There were so many other things to move on to.  And then sometime in the middle of the night, while everyone else was sleeping and there was only maybe a third of the ceiling left, I decided the I didn’t want to let that vision go, so I put my paint and rollers away and the next morning I mixed up a new batch of paint and started all over again.  As penance for my indecisiveness, I now have to paint the ceiling again and wash brushes twice as many times.  All I can say is this better turn out well!

Lest you think that things are all going poorly, we do have one room done, and we all love it.  Two more are quite close.  And I got to order fruit trees today, which makes everything in life seem swell.


a (somewhat) blank slate

There was a family in this house before us.  A young family, a lot like us.  The mother is an artist and clearly came at decorating from that perspective.  There is a lot of vivid color here.  It’s amazing how all the shades works off of each other when you look from one room to the next.  I refer to the 2nd floor as the “starburst” color scheme because it is exactly all the colors of starburst candies (tell me I’m wrong).

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some photos of the place, while they were living in it, and it was really neat; fresh and modern.  You could tell there was a lot of joy in this house.  And as much as I can appreciate that look, the fact is, when it comes down to it, I’m not modern, at least my decorating sense (if we can call it that) isn’t.   I have been called fresh before, but I don’t think it was meant in quite the same way.

You all know I was born with the disposition of a little old woman, right?  It’s actually slightly concerning, I mean what exactly do I have to look forward too in my old age?  Sitting in a rocking chair, wrapped in a shawl, with a cup of tea and maybe a hot water  bottle, knitting?  uhm, hell-o, typical Friday night!  I’ve even got the little part down pat.  Maybe I’ll go backwards and get all funky and be out partying in my 80′s.  Only I think I’d miss my tea and knitting.

I can remember being around 9 years old and shopping for curtains with my mother and grandmother.  My mother found these peach colored balloon valences, the kind that you stuff with scrunched up newspapers to make them all puffy.  They were very popular with young girls at the time.  I wanted the rose colored jabot valences with Venetian lace trim.  My mother pointed out that they would clash with the carpet, which was true enough, as the shag carpets in our rental home were all the most lurid colors of puke, oranges, red and chartreuse mainly.  I countered that argument by switching to the ivory ones of the same style.  And when I continued to be insistent on them, my well meaning grandmother told me told me that I didn’t want them because they were “old lady curtains”.  It’s probably pretty bad when your grandmother is telling you your tastes are too old-fashioned!

I’m drawn to soft, muted hues, delicate touches of color with a lot of neutrals mixed in.  Soothing colors.  The way I see it, we come with plenty of chaos and energy, we don’t need to inspire more.  And while I can certainly admire bold and bright, these aren’t the colors that we would choose to live with.  I think that something like my last five knitting projects have all been in shades of grey, with more to come.  That’s probably pretty telling.

And so to work we go.  Forty-eight hours and just under 4 gallons of primer later and the fuchsia and bubble gum pink of the master bedroom have been reduced to a pale petal pink.  It’s the palest of sky blues for the green clover room and the orange room is, well less orange anyway.

And now for some color!

(But, you know, just a little bit.)


Home, again

I’m too tired to edit photos.  Too tired to speak eloquently or at any great length or to do justice to the true meaning of this particular topic.  But if I don’t get a post out now, I feel as though I might never have the chance again.

A year ago, I came across a house listing, while wistfully glancing through on-line real estate sites, just to see what was out there, without any solid knowledge of when or if we’d be able to buy a house again.  I sent an email to a friend, with a similar habit of “window shopping”, that said, “this isn’t a dream house in the sense of if you could have anything in the world that you wanted, but I feel like I could just really see us in this house.”

Seven months ago we went to see it.  Four months ago we put an offer in.  And this past Friday we finally closed.

It was a long, l-o-n-g, often difficult, always stressful journey.  The whole process was an emotional roller coaster and a time consuming one at that.  But here was are, shocked and amazed to have reached the end in one piece with a happy outcome.

We’re all still very much in the honeymoon phase with this house, and Steve and I as well, with each other.  We’re going around giddy at setting up house together, just as if 13 years and 4 kids haven’t elapsed since the first home we shared.

There are still a couple of weeks left until the big move.  Weeks brimming over with packing, cleaning, repairing, painting and planning.  Of time split between two houses and a lot of driving (nearly an hour each way) back and forth.  Weeks full of other stuff too.  Tonight I will set aside my to-do list, wrap up a dear little sweater and set up a birthday table for my sweet, darling boy who turns 6 tomorrow (make that today!  I didn’t manage to finish this in time for posting last night.  Rest assured, 6 was ushered in to it’s fullest extent and packing recommences in the morning!).


the most beautiful sewing table

Step one in the making of a functional studio:

Built for me by my husband, with help from my two eldest sons.  It’s the Narrow Farmhouse Table by Ana White.  They modified the plans slightly by not tapering the legs and shortening the table by two feet to fit in our space.  The legs were painted with Olde Century Colors in ‘Candlelight’.  The top was stained with General Finishes Wood Stain in ‘Georgian Cherry’ and finished with a couple of coats of General Finishes Gel Topcoat.

It’s stunning.  I can’t even tell you how very much I love it.  An entire table, devoted to sewing, just for me?  I feels like an almost unfathomable luxury.  A place where my sewing machine can stay set up all the time?  I’ve never had such a thing.  The ability to just sit down and sew, with no set up, no clearing away of school things or other people’s work, no digging out the machine and cord, looking for an outlet and getting everything in order.  Everything will be in order.  Always!

The warm creamy white and dark red-brown wood are so lovely together.

And it’s finished just in time for holiday crafting too!