There has been so much going on this season. The downstairs of our home has been completely changed around. We still haven’t managed to decorate our tree, save for the lights and angel on top. Maybe tomorrow? Growing up, my family always decorated the tree on Christmas Eve. I’m really kind of digging the minimalist decor! The tree looks pretty with just lights. I’m glad there is very little else out in the main living area just now.
I gave the kids free rein to decorate however they pleased provided they avoided headache inducing flashing lights. They seem to have concentrated their efforts on the stairwells which are absolutely covered in garlands and lights and Iain’s attic bedroom, where they plan on spending Christmas Eve night all together again. Their tree has been decorated for ages now, complete with wrapped presents underneath (note to self: next year we should make a stash of fabric bags for their own private use). I’ve not wrapped or bagged a thing and I’m still working on a set of pajamas to be given tomorrow and praying a few last minute gifts show up at the post office today. It will all be whatever it is.
The house smells overwhelmingly like cinnamon. There are snickerdoddles baking and Galen was determined to make traditional mincemeat pie- heavy on the meat, like Almonzo’s mother. I’ve just popped in here for a moment when it seemed like there were more than enough hands trying to tuck crust around. Back to it all for me, and all the best to you! Merry, merry folks!
I had what I thought was an adorable idea for a costume for Seraphina and others. As of 3:30 on October 30th, all that I’d managed of it was her little hat. And I couldn’t have cared less. In fact, I was quite ready to throw in the towel with Halloween across the board. Try again next year. Maybe. Maybe not even that. But Elijah, who obviously puts great stock in creative Halloween costumes, and probably equally pressing was looking to get out of washing dishes, laid the old sheet I was planning on using out on the table and started piecing together a pattern. And so, with a good deal of help, I rallied and there were costumes all around.
I wanted Mairi Rose to be a Matryoshka with us, but no, she wanted to be Tink to his Pan. Mommy and daughters matching costume? Totally cute. Controlling mommy who insists you wear the costume she wants you to wear? Not so cute. So I did not push even though it really would have been kind of perfect since she is just the right in between size. Side note: All three boys and I just recently watched the Milwaukee Ballet’s production of Peter Pan. It was magical. And inspiring for a certain young, male, ballet dancer.
Sewing notes: I used this pattern for Seraphina’s bonnet and a pattern similar to this one for my kerchief- which was very comfortable and stayed on perfectly and I want to make a bunch more for everyday wear. Seraphina’s dress is this one. Details on the sweater to come. I just made my dress up as I went along. It didn’t balloon out as nicely as it could have. Also, for the record, I’m not actually shaped like Humptey-Dumptey. Or at least not any more so than you would expect a woman who has given birth to five children to be. It’s the costume, honest! (well, mostly anyway) Mairi’s leggings in the first picture were made from this pattern.
I was looking to start the school year off with a bang. And well, if nothing else, this project sure had a lot of banging! You literally pound the log all over with a mallet. Then you are able to peel off strips as the growth rings break apart. Pretty amazing stuff. Also, thoroughly exhausting for the record. My seriously hearty, extremely active kids were tired and I mean truly tired, after taking long shifts pounding splints.
The kids were taking part in a wilderness program this year (which they kind of, sort of, already aren’t all doing anymore- it’s a long story and probably beside the point). Most of their backpacks did not survive last year’s adventures. I got it into my head that it would be an incredible experience for them to use materials sourced from the wild to build their supplies for venturing out into the wild. Me and my big ideas. Steve felled the tree for us. Black ash is supposed to be the very best wood for this type of project, as this wasn’t an option for us, we settled on white ash. I think our technique could use some serious work. I feel like there is some magical element we’re not privy too that would just take it too a whole new level. We learned a bit from one basket to the next, but if we continue at this rate, we will have to make approximately one thousand and four baskets before we get anything that looks right. It is functional at least. It was so much work! I think Elijah is the only one who’s still keen on trying to make baskets for everyone. Maybe in time. Spring, when the sap is rising is a good time for harvesting. Perhaps we’ll try again then. Which gives me two seasons to try to figure out what we’re doing wrong! Or if not exactly wrong, at least not quite right!
We’ve been experimenting with making our own pack baskets. The first one, though quite sturdy, isn’t terribly functional. It will make a pretty basket for around the house though.
The coyotes have been so loud. Seraphina calls back to them from the porch and various windows. She speaks their language nearly as well as she is beginning to speak our own. It sounds as though they are right outside my window just now, as they very well may be.
The first baking day of the school year we usually have a celebration. Since this time around it happened to land on the day before shopping day, our options were limited. While the older boys helped an elderly neighbor out for a couple of hours, I took the younger ones apple picking. The sheep are grazing in the orchard just now. Licorice has grown a great deal. She’s fully weaned, but she still comes running when she hears our voices.
We baked what I referred to as strudel, though it really wasn’t. The crust wasn’t thin and crisp as the term strudel would imply. Iain said it should properly be called a “cake wrapped pie”. It was gigantic, that’s the same tray that I serve our Thanksgiving turkey on, and incredibly delicious! We made a smaller, unsweetened one for the tiny girl.
Seeking to reconcile our old schedule with the new, the end of the week found us at the pond. On of my goals this year is to get us all outside as much as possible. I like, maybe even prefer, the beach in the off season. It’s so quiet and peaceful. When Iain and Elijah were little, we lived down the road from a lake where they used to dump a big load of sand every autumn. We would walk down with shovels and they spent many a happy hour digging away. When they grew tired of the digging- did that ever actually happen?- there were kites to fly.
The ruins of a giant, grand, old sandcastle greeted us that first week. We come prepared with lots of extra towels, changes of clothes, sweaters. And our lessons continue on in this place in their own manner. The older ones are teaching the younger ones to swim, though I can’t imagine that carrying on for much longer. Still, the water is bracing, it feels strong, like having the courage to jump in fortifies them and I’m content to have them out in it as deep into the season as they please.
Galen who will spend much of this year studying animals, gets to encounter them in their own world. In his own world, which they are both equally a part of, whether it be a snail found resting at the water’s edge or the great egret that we’ll pour over guide books reading about later. Mairi Rose and I draw forms, letters and numbers- both giant and small- in the sand with our fingers and toes. The learning experiences provided for little Seraphine are too numerous and abstract to recount. Lessons of balance, endurance, time, repetition, consistency and change.
Every week that I manage to end at the pond, connecting with nature and each other is a week I will consider a success.
In this case I think it’s understandable, this one is a beauty with a lot of charm – you know, for a wood pile! Once our regular wood storage was full Steve decided to get a bit creative with the over-flow and, along with Iain and Elijah, spent a portion of last week building a holzhausen. This is an old-fashioned, European, beehive shaped stack- practical for a number of reasons, but artful as well.
Later in the week we were entertaining house guests from out of state; old friends that we cherish dearly, but scarcely get to see.
Licking the icing off the beaters on the eve of her birthday. She cried when we tried to take it back to wash it!
In the spot where we first laid her out almost exactly a year before to examine all her wonderful, sweet, precious, newness.
Galen’s gift to her was Peter and the Wolf performed as a puppet show.
I’ve been planning birthday dresses for her since the day she was born, even before actually. In my mind this year’s was to be a smocked bishop dress in colors to coordinate with her birthday sweater. Does it go without saying that the birthday sweater was planned ages ago? While I was still pregnant I had one pattern picked out for a boy baby and one for a girl baby.
Only I’m trying really hard not to spend money whenever possible and a bishop dress requires three yards of high quality fabric, which doesn’t come cheap. I challenged myself to make her something from supplies I already had. Which was actually really frustrating for me. I tend to get caught up with a certain vision of what a project should be and it’s hard to shift gears. I tried all sorts fabric and pattern combination and nothing seemed right. Finally I struck on this pairing of an antique lace collar with a spring green cotton-silk blend.
With a violet for her hair. My darling little harbinger of spring. What to say of the joy that is a baby girl due on the equinox? Our Sweet Wild Violet. Dear Seraphina Violet Juliette.
We were planning a little party but everyone had been sick the week before and we were still kind of worn out. Steve and I decided that we really just wanted to spend a quiet day playing with our baby and her siblings, not running around cooking and cleaning and worrying about whether she will be sleeping when people arrive or not?
A glass sippy cup. The only gift we purchased. It’s very well loved. You need these lids to convert it from a bottle to a sippy. My sister bought her the lids thinking it was the whole cup at Christmas time and we finally got the glass bottle part to pair them with. I like it much better than the metal ones we used with the older kids.
After cake and presents she spent hours of the afternoon just swinging away, taking sips of tea and cuddling her baby.
This delightful illustration was a gift from our friend and neighbor. Earlier this year she made the children a story book featuring her charming little elves and fairies roving about our neighborhood!
In lieu of an official party we had a few people over for ice cream the following week. Elijah makes the most amazing dairy free ice cream. The guest of honor had plain coconut cream with banana slices.
The bunch of daffodils were hands down her favorite gift. I pressed one for her baby book.
Last year’s blessing egg, hung with this years.
While we dyed pysanky eggs she painted eggs and whatever else was handy with vegetable juices.
Full title- Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads: A Modern Knitter’s Guide to Discovering and Exploring Style. I just finished a gardening book, so it seemed like time for a knitting book and this one sounded just right. I like knitting books that include advice, stories and design ideas. That sweater on the cover is now on my must knit list. I’m seriously coveting it. Now if only the yarn for it would just magically appear in my work basket. I want to make the Loro Vest as well. Though I have trouble with vests and skirts. I like them both, but I never know what to pair them with, so rarely wear them. I think if I just did it in a nice gray, like the sample, I could pretty much wear it over anything.
I’m currently finishing up some knits for Elijah’s upcoming birthday. I’m very nearly done them. When he is around I’m back at my current obsession which is to knit every single adorable baby-toddler pattern before she outgrows them. With my specific current project being a tiny lace sunsuit.
I’ve been meaning to update my Ravelry pages for a while now. There are a lot of holes there. It seems unlikely that I’m manged to post about all of my past projects that I’ve missed when I can’t even keep up with posting about my current ones. But when I spotted Elijah in the scarf I designed for him almost two birthdays ago (!) now, I asked if he minded if I took a few pictures. I should really write up this pattern. It’s a fun one. I didn’t have any interesting buttons that fit, so I took the burning tool to a couple of plain wood ones and just did some free form scoring.
At Halloween we have the jack ‘o lantern helmet, at Easter it’s the raffia hair.
I know the calendar says it’s April, but we’re still living the March life here…muddy paths that crunch in the mornings and late afternoon, snow all around, still deep into sugaring time. It was actively snowing during our egg hunt. My tiny, sleepy, sweet wild violet huddled in our coat with me. I made a joke out of the fact that we were dressed much the same for Christmas tree shopping as we were for Easter egg hunting, which might be funnier if it wasn’t 100% true. This has been the winter that just won’t end. The kids refused to dress appropriately. They must have been so cold! I figured it was the principal of the thing and decided not to fight it.
We thought it best for the little one to have her own private egg hunt, inside, where no snowsuits were required.
Our natural egg dying went much better this year with deep chocolate tones from coffee, chamomile colored chartreuse eggs, rusty tones from onion skins and pale lilac from red cabbage. I’m partial to the robin’s egg blue ones, also dyed with red cabbage. You can get an amazing numbed of hues, depending on technique and dye time. Directions for the botanical eggs can be found here.
I made Galen a shirt. Often I make the girls dresses for special occasions, simply because I like making dresses. Also, they are little and I can usually find bits of fabric that will cover them. Lately I’ve been wondering if Galen doesn’t feel a bit left out sometimes. So I made a surprise shirt for him a priority. I used an old work shirt of Steve’s that was in wonderful shape, but met an untimely end when a sleeve got snagged on something sharp. Since he was wearing a “Daddy shirt” he thought it wise to borrow some daddy accessories. I’m not sure it’s possible for him to look more like his daddy. Who do you think is taller?
Speaking of taller, I made Iain stand next to me so that we could see our reflections in the mirror. I know what he looks like from my perspective, but I had no idea what we looked like together. He dwarfs me. It’s incredible.
Back to the sewing- I didn’t want Mairi to be disappointed, so I whipped her up a quick skirt. Seraphina wore the little bunny pinafore that I made Mairi Rose for her second Easter.
Picture taking on Easter is really a ridiculous practice. In almost every picture they look like chipmunks with their cheeks full of treats!