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December 2013
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February 2014

January 2014

winter nature walk......

I'll be honest with you. After four years of living in the deep south, it's hard to convince me to head outdoors when it's below freezing. This morning was only 7 degrees when I bundled up to go feed the chickens and bunnies. I don't usually have company on these chilly mornings.... just a few sets of eyes watching from the sun-room. Not even Maggie would come out with me this morning. Make sense, southern puppy-dog and all. 

But every now and then the weather warms and we do get out for a walk. And every now and then the younger two get a case of cabin fever and I have to bundle them up and drag them out despite temperatures in the teens. It's harder to be annoyed at your brother when you have 8 layers of clothing on and you're sliding on frozen puddles. True fact of life there. Of course, I think the magic that a frozen woods offers also helps.....

Aside from the kid snapshots, these are all things Luke asked me to take a picture of on our walk. The huge tree in particular. We wanted to share them with you.....

winter nature walks....

winter nature walks....

winter nature walks....

winter nature walks....

winter nature walks....

winter nature walks....

winter nature walks....

winter nature walks....

Are you getting out much these days? How are the outdoors in your neck of the woods? Dark and wet? Bright and cold? Or are you on the other side of the earth enjoying the glorious rays of summer? I'd love for you to share a link of a recent nature walk if you have one......

xo,

s

  


diy apothecary......

I had fully intended to get rid of this cabinet. We moved it into the corner of the apartment to get it out of the way when we moved in, and that is where it sat for the next nine months. I tried to find a before picture of this project. The first picture is as close as I got. If you look close, you can see that the bottom left cabinet has a big hole cut into it. Someone had long ago installed a record player in the left side and a fabric covered speaker behind the door. I guess they cut some of the door off so they could hear it better? I'm not sure. 

When we moved things for the studio swap I knew I would be loading it into the van for a trip to Salvation Army. Somehow quite luckily a light-bulb went off in my head and told me "hello, this is the apothecary you've been looking for." Actually that sounds more like Jedi mind trick. Anyhow, I had my heart set on finding a shelved glass cabinet of some sort. I hadn't even thought of using this cabinet. Even though I swooned over the latches on the lower cupboards. As it turns out, a quart mason jar fits perfectly on the lower shelves and essential oils on the shallow top shelf. A good scrub and a few MINER minor modifications turned it into just the thing I was looking for. My Jedi light-bulb was right. All for free too, as it was left behind by the previous owners..... 

apothecary (before studio project, cabinet in the left corner) (also summer *gasp*, oh how i miss her.)

apothecary (after studio project)

apothecary(in progress : hemming curtains for studio shelf, covering cardboard for cabinet doors + Joe's tools say hello)

apothecary(cabinet gets a new home in the kitchen)

apothecary

apothecary

apothecary

apothecary

apothecary

apothecary

apothecary

Joe cut the rest of the center door pieces off and I scrubbed the whole thing nice and clean. I used some home dec weight fabric from my stash to cover cardboard and then slid them into the groove of the door. I couldn't find this print on etsy, but I did find this one (another favorite flea market print of mine!) It ended up being such an easy project. All my herbs and essential oils have a happy new home. We reused something unloved and gave it purpose. Perhaps best of all, I found a good thing about my very dark kitchen, no need to worry about direct sunshine on the herbs as it gets very little light in there. However, I am still not in love with the cantaloupe hued walls. See all those cream colored swatches above the cabinet? Yes, the kitchen is going to be WHITE. Kind of crazy for a girl so fond of color, right? But I need all the brightness I can get in there. And yes there is a difference between each of those colors. I keep asking Joe which one looks best in morning light, or afternoon light. He thinks I'm a little nutty. I know there are some of you out there that get this need to pick just the right shade. Ahem.

On another herb related note, I am bottling my first tinctures & tonics today! They've been brewing for the last TWO months. I'm so excited to see what they taste like and how they make us feel. I did a little improv herb wise based on our needs, but the recipes are from Rosemary Gladstar's book of Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health (I made the Men's Elixir & Brain Tonic) and Holly Bellebuono's Essential Herbal for Natural Health (I made the Women's Ultimate Tonic Elixir). Have you ever visited either of these womens home on the internet? Rosemary is here and Holly is here. They are both sort of local-ish to me here in New England and they both offer online herbal classes which look amazing. I also found out there is an affordable women's herb conference in New England every summer, this year is their 27th year! It looks incredible. Especially because you can take your daughters with you for the weekend. I'm trying to figure out if this is something we can work into our summer. Just maybe......

So how many of you dabble in herbs? What are your favorite references? Do you have an online resource or class that you love? Do share.....

xo,

 


welcome to the studio......

I can't begin to tell you how reluctant I was to do all this.

Joe and I playfully bantered for months on the subject. He wanted the suite. The bathroom. A place to shave in his underwear every morning. As the sole breadwinner, this was getting pretty hard for me to argue with. Especially because he wanted me to take advantage of the space in the apartment as my studio. "It might be the only real studio you ever have," he kept telling me. I've been so attached to the idea of having a guest suite though, I really loved the lavish retreat we had to offer our friends. Joe was not giving up this fight however, and finally he won. After moving the contents of three rooms around to make it all happen, I realize that I won too. Maybe even the most of all.

The studio! It's amazing. I keep pinching myself. I really am so glad we did it now. We still have a nice guest room upstairs. Joe got his bathroom. And we can fit extra guests or our kids in the studio to make room if need be. It's pretty nice. But the studio, for real! I still can't believe it.

So come on in.....

 

welcome to the studio.....

welcome to the studio.....

welcome to the studio.....

welcome to the studio.....

welcome to the studio.....

welcome to the studio.....

welcome to the studio.....

welcome to the studio.....

studio.....

welcome to the studio.....

welcome to the studio.....

welcome to the studio.....

welcome to the studio.....

Ahhhhh! Right?  

A few little details..... in case you are wondering. The majority of the project was reusing things we had. However, after perusing the web for studio inspiration.... I knew I wanted some good shelving. With a $500 budget we purchased shelving, baskets, lighting, curtains, casters & hardware from ikea. We also purchased a laminate butcher block style board from home depot. Joe used scrap wood, the butcher block board, and casters to make me a rolling work station. It's the perfect height for cutting and working. Much like the one he had in his garage back in Louisiana. I absolutely love it! Next he installed two lights above my sewing space. Again, handy man is my hero. Lastly he installed a curtain on the shelf (!!!) I love this. I'm totally smitten with the nature collection feel of the curtains. They protect my fiber from sunshine and help the room feel duo purpose-ish for company if we need to share the space. I'm so smitten with all of it. At some point in the future I plan to paint & hang up some artwork..... but all of that can evolve slowly over time. Likely with a few more gnomes here and there.... because I love gnomes.

My friend Amanda wanted a video of the space, she's so funny. And while I may be a half decent photographer.... I am no film maker. I did it anyway, so here you go. A video tour. (oh my) don't laugh too hard.....

xo,

s

 


hello.......

hello.....

 

This last week has been a long one.

First the good stuff : We had some lovely birthday celebrating over the weekend (hello 34). Joe & I ran out in the pouring rain to get a few errands done and I came back to a clean!! house!! My youngest three had vacuumed, tidied, and cleaned the kitchen and bathrooms. I think maybe Joe had given them the idea.... but still?! What an incredible birthday gift. Really the best gift a mama could receive, right?

And the not so good : the crud. Fever, coughing, yuckiness. It started with Jade, onto the littles, and now Joe. I've been lucky so far. We just finished off the last of the elderberry syrup, so tomorrow will find me making some more. 

And the busy : more snow. We shoveled and shoveled this morning. Just Joe & I. Talking about the next move. The next place. The next dream. We really have been scheming and dreaming a lot these days about what is to come. That's the nature of the beast for us, barely settled and already looking into the future. Joe will have twenty years in the Coast Guard this fall, 23 when we're up to transfer and right now we're dreaming of getting out and doing something different. It will mean an incredible lifestyle change, and a substantial pay decrease. But it feels so right.... if nothing else it fuels our dreams for now.

Lastly, this picture was taken late last night by Joe. The doors to my studio. (yes, studio. I have a real studio. oh my.) Sewing, snow falling, good stuff. I'm inviting you in tomorrow.... maybe even with a video (by request of my friend A).

See you then....

xo~

s

 


eggs!!!

eggs!!!

eggs!!!

eggs!!!

eggs!!!

Happy Dance around these parts.

We have eggs!! The Welsummers laid first.... that light brown speckled one you see was egg number one. After that they've been dark brown. We're not sure if one or both of them are laying, because we've gotten just one dark brown egg each day. The Wyandotte was second, she lays the light brown eggs. Once the Easter Egger's begin laying, we'll have green & blue as well. So exciting!!!

I keep humming a song I heard forever ago. The story probably won't translate well here, but I'll tell you anyway.

When we lived in the little town of Sitka Alaska, we used to attend a winter monthly event called The Grind. Sitka is remote. Like, island-in-Alaska-no-road-out sort of remote. It's got roughly 9k-ish people and cabin fever sets in sometime after the holidays. There is only so much rain and darkness a person can take before insanity or creativity bangs on the door. The Grind is a mix of both. It runs about 6 months out of the year. It's a "family friendly non political event" that costs 5 bucks or a homemade dessert to get in. Local talent performs comedy and music. Halfway through there is a dessert contest and then the desserts are eaten along with coffee, tea, or cocoa to finish out the show. It is an absolute hoot and we miss it so very much. We actually hope to start one someday when we finally settle down in a small town of our own somewhere. Anyhow..... the event always has a loose theme. One month was "Nautical" and a local band jokingly interpreted it as "Naughty-Gals". They sang a little song they wrote titled Eggs. The chorus went something like this, "Eggs, what do they mean to you? They make me think about babies, sex and food." Talk about bordering the family friendly criteria, right? I remember Joe and I staring at each other wide-eyed. And of course our then 7 & 9 year old thought it was hilarious and continued singing it. Despite my discouragement.

That was eight years ago people. EIGHT years. And wouldn't you know it crept back into my head at the sight of the first egg from our backyard. I have no idea why. I can't even remember the name of the band that sang it. As I typed up this ridiculous story for you, I sang the first half of the line to my seventeen year old in the next room and he sang the chorus back to me, omitting the s-e-x word for his younger brother. I was surprised by his tact and we both laughed at the memory.

Anyhow, I'm sure that story did not translate well. And really I wish I could just sing you the chorus so you could hear how it goes.... mostly so it might get stuck forever in the corner of your brain too. And then it will just start playing when you are plucking eggs from the backyard. Or grocery store. And you'll shake your head and giggle and think "what, why, where did that come from?"

That's all for now.... have a good night.

xoxo~

s

{ps ~ is anyone else having trouble commenting? if so, do drop me an email. i'm looking into it!}

 


snowy

snowy

snowy

snowy

snowy

snowy

snowy

snowy

snowy

snowy

snowy

snowy

snowy

Do you recognize the beach? It's really become our favorite place to visit. One of Joe's coworkers had visited and sent him a photo of a Snowy Owl on the beach and we were off the next day with hopes to catch a glimpse of one ourselves. Sophia has been an owl lover for years. Since forever, I think. As we wandered down the path we met a duo of searchers who wished us luck, they had not spotted an owl. We walked on, watching. Hoping. Shivering.

It was the most magical time of day to be at the beach. Late winter sun. So much beauty here. And we had all but given up at the hope of spotting one when we almost stumbled right upon it! Do you see how camouflage it is in the second to last picture? We didn't get any closer, for fear we would scare the Snowy Owl away..... but we sat and watched for a very long time (the last photo is very cropped). Sophia had brought her camera and snapped a few photos herself. One is now hung by a piece of tape above her bed. It's the kind of memory she will hold onto for many years, I'm sure.

We had no idea until we got home that it was such a rare treat to see. We are certainly grateful for it.....

xo,

s

 


morning chores......

morning chores

morning chores

morning chores

morning chores

morning chores

morning chores

morning chores

morning chores

morning chores

morning chores

Each morning one or more of us tumble out of doors into the coldness to check on chickens and rabbits. Sometimes through snow. Often breaking the ice in their water bucket and replacing it with fresh water. They always seem so grateful for this. We invested in a heated water bottle for the rabbits and it's worked out really well. They always come out of their little den to say hello in the morning.

The hens have been eating layer pellets by Green Mountain that I found at a little feed store just over the MA/RI border. I've been supplementing them with a cracked corn & barley too. Especially on colder days. They get lots of kitchen scraps. Veggie peelings and squash are their favorite. They've enjoyed eating a bit of alfalfa hay too. I've read in a few places that giving them hay during the winter will help keep their yolks bright yellow. I guess we'll know soon enough when we get some eggs. They're nearly six months and could start laying anytime now! We're curious about which breed will lay first. (Easter Egger, Welsummer, or Wyandotte)

Joe built another compost pile & we stopped adding to the huge heap where the garden will be. He turns it often and it is amazing how much heat & steam comes off of it. Even on the coldest of days! This spring the floor of the chicken coop will go into the new pile and we'll be on our way to making good dirt. Everything I've read says patience is key...... in time you will have good dirt. Poop, compost, patience.

This is the month to dream of gardens, right? Swoon over seed catalogs & dream of fruit trees. We ordered our fruit trees & berry bushes from this company & so far all of my vegetable garden seeds are from here. I'm trying to keep things fairly simple, it's so easy to dream bigger than I can manage. 

And speaking of dreaming big...... Bee School starts February 11th. I've waited months for this. I'm really beyond excited. If all goes well we should be getting bees this spring. Oh goodness..... this little homestead dream seems to be coming together.

xo~

s

 


yarn along........

yarn along.....

One of my goals is to get here more often and share creative works-in-progress with you. Ginny's weekly yarn along might just be the reminder I need for the knitting part.

I'm almost finished scarf in this base yarn. I am afraid it's going to be too short though, and I don't have anymore of this color. So, I'm debating adding more in a different color. We'll see.... This is my second knit with this yarn and I really love it. So soft and squishy and so fast to knit up. The first knit was this little hat. (which is keeping heads warm this winter!)

I picked up A Householder's Guide to the Universe from the library after seeing it somewhere in blogland last month. I've just started it, but I'm already loving it. Harriet is a map maker, which makes her kindred for sure. I can't wait to start mapping out the blank slate in my backyard for next year's garden!

Happy Knitting & reading to you~

xo,

s

 


here and gone.....

here and gone......

here and gone......

here and gone......

here and gone......

here and gone......

here and gone......

here and gone......

here and gone......

here and gone......

here and gone......

here and gone......

here and gone......

This Weather!

Ten inches of snow on Friday.

Subzero weather into Saturday.

40 degrees Sunday, and into the 50's (!!) on Monday melting all but a few piles of that lovely snow.

Currently, 13 degrees. Brrrr...

You gotta love winter coastal weather.

Before the snow melted, and in the bitter cold of Saturday, we made it out snowshoeing. It was Luke's first time ever and after a few tip overs in the deep fluffy snow he was off and running. Watching the snow fly behind him made me laugh. The kids enjoyed walking their usual path with its new covering of snow and ice. Watching for bird prints. Eating Snow. Admiring a single oak leaf standing straight up in the ice. Noticing the colors of the sun setting on the forest. (Okay, that last one may have been just the mama.) And while we're being honest I always try to stuff a treat in my pocket to offer weary walkers, or snowshoe-rs. Dark chocolate on this trip. It was so cold I could hardly break the squares off the bar. But it made for smiles just the same. I'm always the caboose on our walks. Partially because I like to stop and snap photos, but mostly because I like to see that all my people are in their right places. It's a good viewpoint, I think.

As we made our way home just before dark, I couldn't help but think of these old memories watching the kids in front of me. Goodness, was that really five years ago? Who could have known five more Januaries would find us here. And then there are these two: Luke in Sophie's old snowshoes..... Sophie in Jade's old snowshoes. So many times in Louisiana we almost got rid of them, collecting dust in the humid garage. They sat for four years waiting for this moment.

I'm glad we saved them....

xo~

s

 


easing back in........

easing back in.......

easing back in.......

easing back in.......

easing back in.......

easing back in.......

easing back in.......

easing back in.......

This time of year is my favorite. The quiet after the busy-ness. The tree made it outside the day after Christmas, but the rest of the holiday decorations are still being enjoyed. I even splurged on some garland for the windows when the craft store had a 70% off sale. I twisted pine-cone and glittery beaded garland (floral items) together to make a really lovely wintry decoration. Red berries and lights for the sunroom. I really could leave some white lights up in the kitchen year round. And my kitchen tree! That's her at the top. A cast off branch at the farm where we got our tree. The kids had one in their room this year and I got one for the kitchen. I think I might need a kitchen tree from here on out.....

It was nice taking a break these last few weeks. Tell me, how was your holiday? What have you been up to?

Ours was lovely and quiet. Luke spent the entire day building legos. I really do see a budding engineer in that boy. There has been coffee with homemade irish cream. Knitting. Tidying and reorganizing, which always seems to happen for us the week in between Christmas and New Years. For the third year in a row we rented a night of karaoke for New Years Eve. The kids love this. The little ones tried so hard to make it to midnight but were fast asleep in my bed before eleven. Next year though, they say they're making it all night!

We have been busy with some projects I can't wait to share and the little ones have accompanied Joe & I on many outdoor adventures in the cold. Lots of very good on-goings, for sure. Speaking of cold..... we had subzero weather late last week and TEN inches of glorious snow. Luckily, Joe & I think shoveling is great fun. At least the first few times anyway. Looking outside back door is like looking into the pages of one of our favorite books. It's a winter wonderland for sure.......

It's good to be back.....

xo~

s