Category Archives: Our Little Home

one last Christmas corner…


Since I already had pictures, but never got the chance to post them.  Besides, Christmas isn’t quite over for us yet.  My sisters rolled into town last night and my parents will be here tomorrow morning, at which point Christmas part II will commence.


This spot was a lot less crowded just at first.  The kids found the Victorian pop-up village in one of my boxes.  It’s actually an advent calendar.  I wasn’t going to bother putting it up since we already had two advent calendars, but everyone wanted it, so it got tucked in behind.


Christmas sheet music makes me happy.  Especially when it’s being used.


I love scattering evergreens around the house at this time of year.  They are readily available, all natural, free, beautiful and smell nice.  You can’t beat that.  I know the dropping needles can be an irritation to some people, but with four kids, we have to sweep/vacuum so often that it really doesn’t make any difference for us.

tins 2

The tins came from a rummage sale over the summer.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with them, but I figured I would something.  There are actually some holiday sweets hiding in the middle one (shh!  don’t tell!).

Happy New Year Everyone!  It’s beautiful here today and I’m looking forward to going out for a walk, and maybe a little sledding.  Plus there are birthday sweaters to finish up, we’re getting so close!  And sisters to sit and chat with.  All in all, I’d say it’s going to be an excellent start to the new year.


our holiday hearth


Last night we hung our stockings.   Originally, I had strung our stocking advent calender across the mantel (you can see it a bit in the pictures from my tree post), but I decided that I really wanted the stockings here (I told you, it’s a work in progress), so the advent calendar relocated to a nearby wall.


All of the large stockings are from my Mother-in-law.  She sends a new one each time a baby is born.  Some of them match, some of them don’t, it’s kind of a mishmash, they are all nice in their own way though.  Sometimes she goes a bit overboard, I think Màiri ended up with 4 in different sizes.  There are also a couple of doll stockings, that the boys made years ago from felt.  I think I’ll add some more hooks.  Currently we have shared hooks, one per person, but if I put the doll stockings in between, none of them will be obstructed.


Up on the mantel are these little snowy owls, also from my Winter Season’s Round partner last year.  I never did get around to sharing these because we were in the middle of a move, followed by Christmas and birthdays.  Aren’t they cute?  There is one for each of us.


Above them is a sampler of the Swedish straw ornaments we made earlier this week.  I love the owls, tucked between the branches, under the stars.


On a completely unrelated note, a friend tipped me off to the *best* children’s woolens.  The company is called Hestia Global.  I ordered some a couple of weeks ago and I was just blown away.  They are so thick and soft and luxurious, for a pretty incredible price.  Everything is still 50% off until the 20th, as in thick, merino/cashmere blend sweaters for like $17 (discount code here).  I just ordered another shirt and another pair of pants because, since we got them, neither Màiri nor Galen wants to wear anything else (seriously, Màiri has been known to cry when I try to change her out of her leggings and Galen insists on wearing his ribbed pants all day and then to bed at night).

I do wish they had more colors though.  They only offer really bright colors and sometimes natural, which just get’s stained too quickly.  Personally, I prefer earth tones or deeper colors, maybe even a pastel here and there, but it’s a minor complaint.  Word of warning though, the red is very much a coral red.  I was quite surprised by that!

Also 50% off right now are their wooden toys.  I was really impressed with their bathtub boats.  They were much bigger and sturdier then I expected (especially for only costing $6).  We have a couple going into stockings here.  They have lots of fun things.  The puzzles are really hefty.  And the tractor is sweet in person (again only $6).  It can be so hard to find good quality, natural clothing and play things that are actually affordable.  I was so pleased with this find, I couldn’t resist passing it along!


in our windows…

I’m taking part in the Holiday Home Tour, hosted by Mama Urchin.  It just seemed like a fun idea.

We’ve been in a different house for Christmas for each of the last three years, so we don’t really have a set way of doing anything.  Every year we’ve had to start fresh, figuring out where the tree should go, where to hang the stockings and so forth.  So far (I’m really not done decorating yet, it something that evolves for us over the course of the entire month), I think this is my favorite combination yet.

So, without further ado, welcome to our home!


I have just a little bit to share today, some of the things we use to decorate our windows.  The snowflakes above were a gift from my Seasons Round Exchange partner last year.  They are laser cut snowflakes, much like the ones we got for our tree, that she sandwiched between kite paper and framed.  I think she meant for them to be pieced together as a lantern, which would be very pretty, but I’ve just been propping them up in a window.  They really look nice when the sun is streaming in, which unfortunately it’s not in this photo.

Below is the door out to our stone patio, covered in the window stars that the children and I made last year.


And here is what it looks like now that King Winter has started to walk among us…


The way that the tape shows is kind of irritating, has anyone found a type of tape the is less conspicuous for hanging snowflakes and window stars and such?


This year’s tree…a photo essay of sorts






back to the car




We have a lot of cinnamon-applesauce ornaments this year.  Small children who come to visit us keep trying to eat them!  They look deceptively like gingerbread.  Speaking of gingerbread, this very timely recipe makes the *best* gluten-free gingerbread cookies you will ever taste.  I think that the fresh ginger and orange zest make it particularly brilliant.


Apart from the garlands and trinkets, hand-made by my own little ones, I think my very favorite decorations on the tree this year are the laser cut wooden snowflakes.  They are a new addition for us, complements of the Etsy shop 2SkinnyGuys.  They are so very pretty!



May your days be merry and bright,




sleepless and loopy


I just typed an email that actually included the phrase “Mwah-ha-ha-ho-ho” (it’s my evil conspiracy Santa laugh), which probably goes pretty far towards explaining my current state of mind!

I’m running on very little sleep at the moment.  The Wee Girl is cutting her two-year molars and quite restless, poor thing.  Also, a certain son of mine has been waking up, regularly, in the middle of the night, in distress (he’s fine really, he just doesn’t know he’s fine, that is, until I get up and show him).  Which is leaving me with little time to get to the other things that need getting to.    Oh, and we’re making merry and having fun and learning lots of stuff too.  It’s all very full.  Each and every day, near to bursting.  Our home schooling group is thriving and growing.  We now have 19 kids, from infants to teens, in and out of here over the course of a normal week, which we LOVE!  But boy it keeps us all busy.  We’re working on a new play and there are concerts coming up, and plans for family visits and, and, and…

I have so much to share!  Meal planning stuff, recipes, kid craft projects, decorations; I finished my first quilt!  I’m so very excited about that.  I finally got pictures of some sweaters that I knitted over the summer.  And of course, all kinds of stuff having to do with our Handmade Holiday and Handmade Birthdays.  So much to share about those!  There are times when it feels like everything is covered with sawdust, snippets of yarn and scraps of fabric, it’s exciting.  I have lots of material, just very little time.

So, I guess I’m just stopping in to say that I’m mildly stressed, but mostly fabulous!  And also crossing my fingers and going to bed…about 4 hours earlier then any other night this week. I can’t stop smiling, but I also can’t stop yawning!  And my own comfy bed sounds like the very best place in the world right now.  Everything else is just going to have to wait.


Things I learned this week….

~The phone lines at our new house are fickle and dislike rain.  The forecast for the week: rain 6 days out of 7, which is equal to the number of days where phone and internet access were completely unreliable.

~Never underestimate the amount of mischief a four year old can get into when inspired. (creative too.  I know I never would have thought to switch the knobs on the cabinets to the inside…)

~A “soft scrub” made from mix of dish soap and baking soda, along with a whole heck of a lot of elbow grease, does a halfway decent job of removing copious amounts of ink from wood.

~a new ball point pen really does hold a lot of ink

~Even when turned down to it’s lowest setting and with a lid on the pot, our new cook top will boil all of the water right out my stock pot, leaving burning bones, black muck and a house full of smoke.

~the smoke detectors are all in excellent working order

~one afternoon without power can set me behind in housework for the whole week

~While I do alright with fixing both the garbage disposal and the screen door (which was dismantled by the aforementioned mischievous four year old), my ability to fix windshield wipers (also at the mercy of the four year old) is woefully lacking, as poor Steve discovered on his way to work…at 4:45 in the morning… during a sudden downpour.

~door latches are not actually baby-proof

~after much experimenting with different systems I’ve discovered that it takes washing, drying, folding and putting away four loads of laundry six days a week and 2 loads on Saturdays to completely stay on top of the amount of laundry generated by a family of six (this is including cloth diapers, cloth napkins, rags used for cleaning, table linens, changes of clothes for work and home, and all the inevitable spills from family and friends coming in and out all week).

~you never know what you might find behind the pile of paint cans left behind by the last tenant.

~coffee still makes me crazy

~Putting the produce that you haven’t found time to process out on the screened in porch does not make it magically disappear or process itself.

~stenciling cloth on the floor is a bad idea, unless you are looking for a perfect facsimile of your pattern on your landlord’s beautiful cherry wood floors.

~dish soap will take stencil paint off of wood flooring if you get to it quickly enough

~however it seems to have no effect on paint brushes that have been wielded by 8 year olds (how on earth did they manage to get paint all the way up the handle while stenciling?!?), and after many futile efforts the brushes will have to be thrown away (in this case before I got to use them for the project that I actually bought them for).

~It is possible for eleven children, ages 1 to 11 to sit peacefully side by side around a table and each make their own individual loaves of bread.

~there will, however, be flour on every single surface in the kitchen and all the adjacent rooms before all is said and done.

~making acorn flour from red oaks is just not worth the effort.  it’s just not (I make no judgments on acorns from white oaks, not having access to them, I couldn’t say).

~no matter how much we might crave them, certain foods are just not worth the reaction that they cause!

~When 15 odd children come through your house in the course of a week, it’s a good idea to set up a lost and found.

~unless you lose the lost and found…which I did.  Oh, the irony!

Yup.  It’s been that kind of week.  But look!  Progress is being made….





galen's roomWall color: Ivory Yellow in eggshell, by AFM Safecoat

I seriously underestimated the amount of time, effort and pale yellow paint it would take to cover up that purple.  A labor of love to be sure!  But there it is, all yellow and done.  It could probably use another coat of paint, but it got to the point where we just had to call it done.  Good enough.  Moving on.  I almost don’t want to decorate it or bring anything else into it, it’s so calm and peaceful just as it is.


the first room tour


We were only in our last house for a short while before we started to suspect that we wouldn’t be staying long, which wasn’t really much of an incentive for taking the time to really make it our own.  Even though our stay here may only be brief as well (possibly as little as a year), continuing to live half in and half out of boxes without feeling at home, would surely drive me insane.  We were very lucky to find such a wonderful house, and I fully intend to enjoy our stay.


I was thinking a lot about Nicole’s post here, where I wanted to start, and where to go from there.  The kitchen just seemed like the logical choice for us.  I spent a solid week and a half scrubbing everything down, unpacking boxes, putting things in cabinets, then moving those same things to drawers, before trying them in yet another cabinet, playing musical cupboards throughout the room and trying to get everything just right.


Slowly but surely, one room at a time, I hope to get somewhere….somewhere closer to “home” and “settled”.


I suspect the hooks below were originally intended for stockings, but my beloved cast iron collection is occupying them now.


I should really get a close-up of the artwork on the wall above.  It’s the silhouettes of my three boys, made by Simply Silhouettes.  I had them made as Christmas gifts for the grandparents last year, and since an extra copy was only $10, guess what found it’s way home to me??  I love, love, love it.

table-this one

I’ve been cooking a lot lately.  Not that I don’t normally, but without really meaning to, I seem to be cooking even more then usual.  By Friday of last week, I was forced to serve combination of leftovers for two meals in a row because all of my pyrex containers were full and I had no room left in the refrigerator!


I still plan on doing something about the mini-blinds.  They displease me.  I need to get the kitchen set all put together nicely for the little ones.  And I still need to pull out the box with my Grandmother’s plate in it.  It doesn’t quite feel like my kitchen without that little talisman hanging over the door.


But other then that it’s just perfect.


in action

And just in time too.  One afternoon last week found me dancing around the kitchen, to the soundtrack from ‘Big Night‘, with a basket of fresh herbs, a bottle of red wine and a great big pile of tomatoes, which can only mean one thing…


it’s tomato sauce time!


still here

I’m still here.  I don’t think I want to give up the blog entirely, I’m just reassessing, trying to figure out what role maintaining this space plays in my life right now.  For one thing, I think in the future I’ll be posting less, maybe one or two posts a week instead of five or six.  But like I said, I don’t know quite where I’m going just yet.

side steps

Sleep has actually been one of many things that’s been keeping me away.  As a life-long night owl, I’ve been working hard to switch my rhythms.  Early to bed and early to rise.  It really suits our life so much better and I’m finding it suits me as well.  I really can’t quite describe how pleasant it is to wake up, and be ok with being awake, rather then forcing myself out of bed because the children are getting up and feeling achy and miserable and somewhat resentful.

Tonight I’m sitting up with a sick baby hitched to my back, to keep her upright and breathing freely.  Soon I’ll try to lay us both down, but she hasn’t really slept well in so long, I want her to get some rest first.  I thought I would check in while I have the chance.

pie pan

~My favorite pie pan developed a crack and I refused to let it go.  A couple of weeks ago I transplanted some sedum into it.  It’s filling in so nicely!  Sedum is accommodating like that.~

We’re still settling in.  Still trying to get plants in the ground.  Still trying to get rooms painted.  Still searching through boxes for various things.  Today was our first day of “school” and it went fabulously (the extra effort of juggling that and the sad, clingy, baby aside.  poor tiny girl!).


~goldenrod for our tables on top of oak leaves for our dye pot~

I feel like a bit of a sell-out for loving our new house that’s meant to look like an old house better then our old house that was actually old.  I can’t help it really.  It may have less character, but it’s just so easy. I mean, for one thing there are the closets!  Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I’ve really had closets?!?  Don’t get me started on the closets….  I think everyone in real like would like me to just shut up about them please.  It’s more then just closets, as exciting as they are, everything is just so much less work (if I ever get my hands on the inventor of the laundry chute, I tell you, he/she is in for one big sloppy kiss) and it’s all just so comfortable and pleasant and I’m very, very happy to be here.


home again, home again, moving is done




We are in our new house now and busy settling in.  I’m not sure that I’m ready to be back in this space again.  I’ve been surprised by what a relief it’s been to give myself permission to not post for a while.  I’m not feeling terribly inspired blog-wise lately and I don’t want this to turn into a chore.  For now I’m just going to go with that feeling and I’ll be back whenever it feels right, whether that’s tomorrow, next week, next month…I’m also open to the possibility that this blog has served it’s purpose for me and that I’m ready to be done with it.  Right now I don’t know, so I’m just going to see what comes.

Best wishes to you all…until we meet again!