Category Archives: Housewifery


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week.

A bit of a theme this week.

 Iain and Elijah: They wanted to try making jam themselves. I love the look of intense concentration on Iain’s face and also the bit of jam on his cheek!  Elijah says, “I love the sound of jam bubbling away.”

Galen:  His specialty is scrambled eggs, and not so much breaking up the greens found therein.  Can you tell there was a lot going on in my kitchen on this particular day?

Màiri Rose: Helping with the laundry.  She swore she could handle it herself and she did.


sugaring off

We don’t have flowers or green growing things, but we do have syrup, so it must be spring, early spring, after-all.  The boys whittled some of our taps this year.  During our last day by the fire our neighbor brought over this book for us.  She’s a lovely person who’s always doing that sort of thoughtful thing.  We started reading it right away and are greatly enjoying it so far.  Glazed almonds for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.  I’ll have to see if I can’t jot down the proportions so I can post a recipe.

We’re heading back out tomorrow for some more reading and fireside fun, hopefully ending the day with many quarts of sweet syrup filling our pantry.


Week in the Life, Thursday

~the Wee Girl was up most of the night complaining that he “tummy hurt” and asking me to rub it.  We’re both very tired this morning.  I had all sorts of plans for the day, especially if the weather was nice, which it seems to be!  But I think that perhaps we had better stay close to home.

~Thursday is bathroom cleaning day.  I was completely convinced it would also be bathroom painting day, but it didn’t work out that way.

~Iain and Elijah are each working on a map of our town now.  I’ll take pictures for us, but I think I’ll opt not to share them here.

~Màiri Rose makes up little songs and sings them to herself and others.  Sometimes she just goes right from one song to the next.  Today I tried to keep track of some of the little snippets of song I heard from her.  None of it’s complete, but this is what I have.

~~~The Songs of Màiri Rose Irene, Age 3~~~

The birds were flying up in the sky, the stars were flying up in the sky. The birds were flying then they came on down and the birds were singing to me.

The people all swam at the ocean and they lived together.  They all lived together in their little house.  And they ate pancakes.

Over the ocean, in my little boat.  The boat was singing to me.

Then they all lived together in their little crooked house.  Then they all swimmed and swimmed and swimmed.


~Did some touch up painting and trim installing in Iain and Elijah’s room.

~They are off to practice again tonight.  In the rain.

~”It was Pop-pop and then it turned into Me-Mom!” ~the Wee Girl, after getting off the phone with my parents.

~While dinner cooked and the dishwasher ran, and the fourth load of laundry for the day was in the wash; after Galen had had his fill of loom building for the day, I managed to sew 4 or 5 seams.  I have two little dresses starting to take shape.



Week in the Life, Monday


~rain, blessed rain!  Rolling off the roof this morning and more importantly, sinking deep into our gardens.

~The house smells good after a night of broth bubbling on the stove and yams cooking in the crock pot.

~an extra little person showed up in my bed this morning, looking to be cuddled.  Then they plotted together and there was a conspiracy to get me to read.  Which I did, one book each; “Little Baa” and “Mother Goose”, the later turning into a sing along.

Little Rosebud’s favorite illustration

~Galen has taken to slipping my wedding ring off while I cuddle him and putting it on his own finger.  Then he asks me to tell him about it.  I show him the circle as well as the continuous Celtic knot pattern.  We look for a beginning and an end and never find one of course.  I tell him that it’s just like my love for Daddy with no beginning and no end.

~The other two get up early and read to themselves for an hour or two every morning.

~Iain built a fire.

~He  lost two teeth on Saturday and has two more loose.  Galen thinks he has a loose tooth (it would be his first).  He often asks if I can see it wiggle.  I can’t really, but I’m certainly not going to tell him that!  “hmm, I think maybe I might see something…”

~Quiddler with the big boys over a breakfast of yams, sausages, sauerkraut and green tea.

~Chores as usual

Màiri Rose with the nasturtium she’s growing.  She was able to taste a leaf for the first time today.  It’s a climbing variety and growing so fast that Galen is convinced he’ll be able to climb it like Jack and the Bean Stalk.

~Baseball fever is alive and well.  We’ve been doing their team’s warm up exercises in the morning before school work.

~outdoor play

~Making sauerkraut this morning as an activity with the little ones.  Really it’s an all morning affair, one that lead right into making lunch, followed by most of the dinner prep, since I know we’ll be working when Steve gets home tonight.  It takes a whole lot of peeling and chopping to fill that big crock.  We usually get around 2 gallons of kraut once it has all fermented down.  We never really make the same one twice.  Today’s is green cabbage, onion, garlic, turnip, radish and ginger.  I got a new little gadget that you crank to julienne things.  The little ones love making (and tasting) little turnip and radish strands with it.

Iain’s Nature Journal Entry:

Date: 4/23/12     Time: 11:42   Location: home   Weather: cloudy, 48 degrees

*Nothing is coming up in the garden yet.

* It is raining today.

*The woods are turning very green.

*My cherry tree is in bloom.

*Galen and Màiri’s peach trees are starting to bloom.

*There are a lot of birds singing today.

~Elijah’s entry by contrast started with, “My fruit tree is the only fruit tree that does not have any flowers on it.”

~Galen the faithful forager went out and gathered a whole bunch of dandelion greens, even though I said I didn’t have time to prepare them today.

~A game of skippo with Galen while the big boys do their math work.  The Wee Girl likes to play with the discard piles, sorting and arranging them.

~Lunch: kale salad with baby basil, pear chunks and maple-blueberry vinaigrette

~Iain and Elijah finished up the map of our property that they started working on together last week.

~the little ones did some coloring of their own.

~One of the big ones told Rosebud that what they were doing was more important because they were working, while she was just playing.  I scolded him and told him that play is the work of little ones and very important.  At which point she announced, with a rather superior tone, “I’m doing baby work!”

~Steve and I put up just under 150′ of fence around the garden.

~ dinner was asparagus soup with Jerusalem artichokes and fresh thyme from the garden.  It was lovely to come in to after working in the cold and damp.

~Steve is reading Peter Pan to Galen at bedtime.


woolly pants

I’m not the only one in need of warm legs.  Baby Roo seems to have suddenly outgrown most of her woolly bottoms.  The other day, when I was searching about for something entirely different, I came across the sleeves and neck of this women’s cardigan (the body having been already sacrificed to a pair of slippers that I don’t believe I ever managed to post about).

I found myself wholly and entirely distracted by this discovery and my plans changed accordingly.  Actually the plan was to whip these up, quick as can be, then move on to my original project.  But after cutting them I discovered a number of small holes in need of darning, so it wasn’t a quick project after-all.  Quick enough though.  And now the girl has a super-thick pair of warm woolies, with elbow patches becoming knee pads and lots of room to grow.  To make them I simply laid a pair of her pants, folded in half, over the sleeve to see how far in to cut.  Easy.

I think most of today will be spent in the kitchen.  I’m making a turkey for the first time ever.  A couple people in the house aren’t turkey fans, but it seems there are enough now that are to warrant it.  I had several requests and the turkey roast of last year wasn’t enough to satisfy them.  I’m trying this recipe for a brined turkey, so work has to begin on it today.  It’s supposed to be very juicy.  I despise turkey that’s too dry.  There will be a couple of pies to bake today as well, and cranberry sauce.  I’ll also get up a marinade for the pot roast (for those who aren’t keen on turkey).  I might prepare the Brussels sprouts, but not cook them just yet.  And I’ll probably get the stuffing underway as well.  Yes, it will be a full day, with lots of time in the kitchen.  And lots of time to reflect on our many blessings.  Is it strange that I find cooking a large meal like this to be a somewhat meditative practice?  I tend to get lost in it and don’t find it a nuisance at all.

I don’t think I’ll be here tomorrow, so Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the US and I hope that everyone, everywhere, has some time this week to think of the things they are thankful for.


natural cleaning recipes

We’ve been making almost all of our cleaning products for many years now.  It’s inexpensive, easy and most importantly, safe; safe for us and safe for the environment.  Usually I just make things as I need them, but lately I’ve been making a point of setting aside a bit of time some Sunday afternoon to make up a whole bunch of things to have on hand.  It’s ever so pleasant to have whatever I need within easy reach.

I thought I would share a few family favorites with you, and maybe you will share a few favorites too.  Between us we could make a wonderful resource for others.  My recipes come from several different sources.  Some are just things that I’ve came up with over the years.  Some come from the lovely book that my friend gifted me a few years back (there are a few other recipes in that post as well).

All-Purpose Cleaner

1/2 teaspoon washing soda

2 teaspoons borax

1/2 teaspoon liquid soap (I like dish soap because it cuts grease and I often use this spray in the kitchen)

2 cups hot water

15 drops each lavender and tea tree essential oils (I’ve been using all lavender lately or a combo of lavender and rosemary)

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake.

Soft Scrub

1/2 cup baking soda

enough liquid soap or detergent to achieve a frosting like consistency

5 drops essential oil of your choice (optional)

Stir all ingredients in a bowl, store in a sealed jar.

Laundry Stain Remover

(home-made ‘Oxy Clean’)

2 cups water

1 cup hydrogen peroxide

1 cup baking soda

Mix all ingredients together.  Soak laundry in stain remover for at least 20 minutes before washing.

My Favorite Laundry Soap

4 cups hot water

1 bar Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Castile Soap

1 cup Washing Soda

1/2 cup Borax

~Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water.  Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

~Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.  Add melted soap, washing soda and borax.  Stir well until all powder is dissolved.  Fill bucket to top with more hot water.  Stir, cover and let sit overnight.

~Stir and fill a jar or other container half-way with soap and the fill the rest of the way with water.  Shake before each use.

~Use 5/8 cup per load for top load machines and 1/4 cup per load for front loaders.

This recipe makes 10 gallons of liquid laundry soap, but it’s stored in a concentrated form in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid.  We keep ours in the basement.  Whenever we need more, I go down, stir it and ladle some out.  I use a half-gallon mason jar to store soap in our laundry room.  I keep the measuring cup with it.  After measuring out the proper amount for each load, I rinse it under the water filling the washer, then dry it and put it back for next time.


Our Bedroom

It’s been over a year since we moved into this house.  At the time, I promised to give a tour of all the rooms once they were all set up and “done”, but I never made it past the kitchen.  What is done really when you are talking about a space that is lived in, lived with and ever evolving to meet our ever evolving needs, interests and tastes?  And, much like our last house, this is only a rental home.  We’re still not sure how long we will be staying.  There are some things that we can’t change, and others that it doesn’t make sense to change.

This is where we are at, right now.  Not in the future and not in the past.  This room is “decorated”, if you can call it that, in much the same way that I suspect most rooms in most people’s houses are.  Just a collection of things that we’ve come into possession of by various means (a hand-me-down bed here, a refurbished tag sale find there, some birthday gift sheets on the bed), put together in a room, in a way that works for our life right now.  There is very little rhyme or reason to it all.  I hung my belly cast up, because it was in my way in a closet.  The weaving on the dresser is there for similar reasons.  I picked up that little Jessie Willcox Smith print on a whim, to frame for Màiri when she has her own room.  Until then, it’s balanced on this ledge.  The photograph of Steve and I is hung up so high because there was a nail there already and I didn’t want to put another hole in the wall.

There is no color scheme or over-all look to be achieved, it can’t be qualified as this style or that.  It just simply is.  And I’m ok with that.  It’s pleasant and light and airy and suits our needs just fine.  The room itself is a beautiful space, esthetically pleasing without any help from me.

Really what pleases me the most is it’s simplicity.  There is no clutter to curtail, nothing in the room that rightfully belongs elsewhere.  It is all useful to the room’s purpose, comfortable and nothing more.  There are the books we are currently reading in the bedtime hours on the nightstand, clothes in the dresser and closets, bedding to warm and comfort us and not much more.    Ultimately, that’s what I wish for in all of the spaces of our home.  Just the things that we want and need, everything with and in it’s place and nothing more.

It’s just ever-so-much easier to achieve in a bedroom, that has such a simple and basic purpose to begin with, unlike, say a living room, that serves as a space for entertainment, quiet time alone for grownups, play space for little ones, school space for middle ones, library, sometimes sewing room, art space, music room and so forth.

Can you tell that I crawled across the bed to get some of the earlier photos?  I know it’s all rather rumpled here, but I just love the way the late afternoon light streams through these windows in autumn.



Autumn Meal Planning

With the shift in the seasons it’s now, once again, time to change our meal plan.  For more about the whys and hows of my meal planning system, see this post.

Week One

Sunday: Beef Roast or Steak, Mashed Turnips

Monday: Katherine Soup (a squash and greens soup in chicken broth, with miso)

Tuesday: “Chicken Dippers” (a family favorite: strips of chicken with a spicy potato flour coating) with home-made mustard, Broccoli

Wednesday: Roasted Veggies, mugs of Coconut Chicken Soup

Thursday: Cottage Pie (similar to Shepherd’s Pie, only with a mashed yam topping)

Friday: Organic Hot Dogs or Sausages that can be roasted over an open fire, a selection of home-made mustards, roasted Brussel’s Sprouts

Saturday: Squash and Beans, Fish (whatever looks good)

Week Two

Sunday: Burger Salads (explained here)

Monday: Tilapia Chowder and Lentil Soup

Tuesday: Roasted Chicken, Almond Bread, Brussel’s Sprouts

Wednesday: Quinoa Salad

Thursday: Beef Stew

Friday: Baked Yams, Spicy Broccoli w/ bacon

Saturday: Curried Yams and Cauliflower


As always, greens and other vegetable side dishes will be added in based on what’s available.

I have no recipes to link to for any of our meals this time around.  None of these meals actually have a specific recipe, just a way of being prepared.  I’m hoping to share simple cooking ideas throughout the season that will give you an idea of how to make some of these dishes in your own home.

Here’s to another delicious season!


Week in the Life, Friday

Friday 1

~Today Galen was a cow that needed milking in the morning and a queen in the afternoon.


~We were supposed to have friends over, but they had to cancel and we were kind of at a loss as to what to do with ourselves.

~Early in the morning a road crew started repaving a section of road about a block away.  We’re still sensitive enough to chemicals that this was scary and the children and I ran around the house closing and locking windows and digging out the air purifier.

~It was a dark, grey, blah sort of day, with everyone a bit cranky and antsy at being trapped inside.


~We cooked and ate, did some dishes and laundry (I’m forever doing laundry).  Eljiah broke a plate, Màiri fell in the toilet, Iain and Galen crashed into each other.  It was that kind of morning.  I rocked Màiri and sang to her.  The kids read a lot. I played the piano with little cars rolling over the keys an octave down, unclogged the adored laundry chute, and was called upon, yet again to explain why I don’t think our landlord would appreciate us keeping a horse in the shed.


~Around 1:30 the workmen packed up.  We went out.  The wind was blowing strongly in the opposite direction.  What a relief!  I weeded.  The little ones caught a grasshopper, the bigger ones played catch.

~storms started rolling in, canceling our tentative plans to cook supper over an open fire.

~It was decided that a change of scenery was most definitely needed.  When Steve came home we would head to town.

~Iain offered to get Màiri Rose ready to go out.  He tried to bribed her with a nickel to wear a dress, she held out to the tune of twenty-five cents, but looked adorable in her red gingham….and one of Elijah’s hats.

getting ready

(my hair is still wet in this picture.  why is my hair always wet in the pictures I post?)

~I decided to put on a dress and make-up (a couple of months ago I started wearing make-up occasionally for the first time in 12 years or so) and to pretend like I was going on a date with my husband, instead of the six of us being driven out of the house by roadwork and unfavorable weather.  It was very funny and somewhat sad that the lady at the fabric store that I now know quite well, didn’t recognize me.  “Oh my gosh, it’s you!  I just figured it out from your voice!”

~Also a little sad, the only nice dress that I could find in my closet is one that I bought when I was 16.

fabric store

~bobbins, a yard of something nice off the remnant table and the fabric to make Little Rosebud an autumn outfit, were all procured while the rest of the family returned library books up the street.

on the way

~we all took a little stop in at the used bookstore.  Both of these stores are just the kind I like; quiet, a little dim, somewhat cluttered, with so many interesting things to look at on over-flowing old wooden shelves.  They both stock the kinds of gems that you just won’t find anywhere else.


~a couple of select things that made their way home with us.  I was hoping to find the entire Anne of Green Gables set, the boys are reading them now and our library doesn’t carry them all, but only one volume was to be found.


~also “The New England Cook Book: The Latest and the Best Methods for Economy and Luxury at Home” , a reprint of the 1905 classic and “The Field and Forest Handy Book” both of which will be thoroughly enjoyed in this house.

~Steve was kind enough to sneak back and secretly purchase a vintage storybook with charming pictures (Jesse Wilcox Smith makes me so happy), that has now been tucked away for Christmas.

~ran into some friends on stood on the sidewalk, in a bit of rain, chatting

at dinner


~and then dinner out.  Such a treat!  We love this little Mexican restaurant.  It’s one of those rare and delightful places that uses fresh and local ingredients and offers big servings for a moderate price.  It’s one of Galen’s very favorite places and I was highly amused by watching him very carefully packing up his leftovers to take home.


~Mist covered the mountains on our way home.


Week in the Life, Thursday


~we made banana “ice-cream” in the morning (just frozen bananas whipped up to be creamy)

~I taught Elijah how to scramble eggs.  We served them with kimchi and black eyed peas.

~I spent too long, early in the morning, looking at house stuff on-line.


~dancing with Iain in the kitchendancing 2

~Today Galen was a gnome gathering crystals.

laundry chute

~Oh my dearest, beloved laundry chute, how very much you mean to me!


~random stack of readables, just before it was tidied away.

~I spent the better part of the afternoon doing things like scrubbing trashcans….it’s a very glamorous life, I know…

doing dishes

~dish washing photo courtesy of Iain.

aiken drum

~Aiken Drum


~Baking day, we were supposed to be making almond flour crackers and somehow ended up making peanut butter cookies instead.  Funny how that happened.  I think the Papa appreciated the plate of well done ones waiting for him when he got home from work.  He prefers them that way.

cookies for daddy


~I have no idea why they find watching Steve cut the lawn so fascinating, but they do…


hair cut

~Galen got a haircut…

more hair cut

~as you can probably tell by all of the blocks and silk scarves in the background, there was all kinds of imaginative play going on in the living room all day.

hair cut 3



~”hop up my lady!”

hop up my lady

~All together, singing in the kitchen…while I cooked salmon cakes.

~Iain and Elijah had a bath in our big double tub. They consider it nearly as good as having their own swimming pool. When they came out, Iain informed me that he’d “gone under” 315 times and declared himself a giant prune.