Monday, January 31, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Productive Pictorial Update...

Good golly! February is right around the corner, but what happened to January? Winter never ceases to amaze me with its keen ability to both crawl and speed by simultaneously. Well, despite all this speeding and crawling, life is still being lived around here... Here are some pictures to prove it:

To begin any really awesome blog post, you need a bit of cuteness. It's like splashing color all over a brick wall--makes it more appealing.... or something like that. :)

 Love her toes! 

Anyway, she was coming down the stairs to help take the picture of my new couch cushions, by adding her cute color to the shot:
 These are the cushions I had been meaning to make for Andrew's bench for months. I resolved they would be my first project as soon as Christmas was over, and surprisingly, they were! I made them out of recycled foam and a table cloth from the thrift store. Naturally, I employed a lot of the girls' help, as usual. I tend to direct the projects and get the girls to do all my dirty work for me. Teehee! :-D I don't know if you can see them, but there are buttons that we sunk in the back. I had Andrew make me some wooden buttons and the girls and I covered them. Pretty much, it's a completely homemade couch!

Next up I have to show off all of Annie's new cheeses! 
 She's been making small experimental bricks on the side of Mom's mozzarella operation to try and get a good aged brick cheese. Of the ones you see here, some are waxed, some are wrapped, some are coated in ghee and two are freshly made. Her colby brick is nearly ready and we're all drooling to try it!

Annie has also been busily sewing up a new wardrobe for our fast growing little princess...
She's been recycling like-new unwanted clothing down into cute little outfits for our sweetie:
Donna has been growing used to our crafty household. When she hears the sewing machine running, she'll go racing into the bedroom and start tapping my knee saying, "Mary uh making? Uh making Mary?" After I respond, her next question is always: "uh Donna's?" The same goes for whenever anybody is working in the kitchen, she'll pull out a chair at the table with her constant "uh making? uh making?" chatter. Likewise she's learned that our knitting habits often mean new socks or little gifts for her, so she always has to know what exactly it is we're knitting and who it is for.

Some new pants with an adorable embroidery job from big sister:
Donna's growing up really fast these days, and not only in size. Her vocabulary amazes me with its vastness. Her ability to put together sentences is also really good for a just two year old. "Read da book," is a favorite, whenever she is able to capture someone resting for a few moments in the living room, climbing haphazardly into their lap with any book she can find. "Uh outside an... see baby cow," is another common one. One of her really cute ones is (to Andrew or Stephen): "uh fiksh it!" (fix it). She can say almost anything and in addition to her constant gibberish, she also loves to sing, as she hears her older siblings doing, and immediately starts bobbing her head whenever anyone picks up a guitar.

But enough about our precious... Theresa has been processing all the bunny hair she's collected off her angora bunnies over the summer. Here's her glove and one in progress.

Momma spun the yarn on her spinning wheel and then two plied it. One spool was from Marbles and the other was from Bugs and then she plied them both together for a super thick, soft, plush yarn. You can't tell from the picture, but it looks really blue in person and is super, super warm. Theresa also made two big pieces of felt out of her scrappier angora fiber and I lined Michael's farm chore mittens with them. To my surprise, he rejected them saying his hands were way too hot even in blizzardy conditions! He keeps them separate now, I guess to use when the temperature reaches -40 or so.

Theresa has gotten sick of her fingers freezing when they go out horseback riding in her normal store bought gloves while Stephen's stay nicely warm in his thick homespun gloves (his Christmas present), SO, she's been working on making riding gloves that will keep her warm. These wool gloves work nicely under another pair, but being commercially spun, are too thin to withstand our great outdoors alone. That's why she's been working on those angora gloves. Talk about toasty!

School occurs every day around here as well, both formally and informally.

 You can always tell when the boys are doing their school, because you can hear their pencils tapping on the wood floor of their room from anywhere in the house. They're usually tapping in rhythm with some music coming from Stephen's 3mp player. If you poke your head in there, the music will get louder and you'll see a messy room housing three boys with books, amazingly quiet, attentive and productive... for boys I mean. Mom is always calling them away from their books--she never has to tell them to study, except for maybe the younger kids.

Andrew and Dad have been busy working in town, helping the local doctor to fix up a 100+ year old house that he bought. On the side, Andrew has been building pieces of furniture like this night stand for sale.
The tracks are inlaid into the top and the animals are routered out--their backgrounds stained with a homemade black walnut hull stain.
He has them listed for sale on craigslist where you can see more pictures: Click HERE

Andrew has also been working diligently towards the release of our latest Indiana John movie--before another season of work intercepts his attention on that project. It should be out soon!

The kids have also been into a major chess kick lately...
The game that the boys made us for Christmas gets used a min. of ten times a day. Everybody in the house is becoming chess champs... except me. I got too traumatized when Andrew walloped me at checkers to even go near that chess set! I mean, I didn't even know someone could be beaten so badly at checkers--like, what's to know, you know? Apparently there's a lot more strategy than I was taking into account during our friendly--turned vicious--match up! ;-)

As for me, in addition to my stitches, I have been full fledged into my writing lately. I know you're not seeing the results of it to much on here, but that's because I'm working on two new manuscripts simultaneously. One is another 'for fun fiction' and the other is a collection of our homesteading stories. (Yay!) I'm trying to finish both before the spring work intercepts my attention on them.

I've also managed tumble myself out of bed stiff and sore every day this week, which is a feeling I normally only get during the spring work, so I'm happy for that. We've been working on a neighbor's firewood pile, among other things. It's nice to get out and work mindlessly on a project for awhile in the middle of winter.

And lastly, we've got lots of socks happening here!
Mom learned how to knit socks this winter. Her first pair are the pink ones and her second are the blue ones next to them. Johnny was so excited to get socks made by Mom! 

Feet on three: one, two, three!

 Knox in box and Fox in socks, but who sews whose socks? Sue sews Sue's socks. Who sees who sews whose new socks, Sir? You see Sue sews Sue's new socks, Sir! And that's not easy, Mr. Fox, Sir...


Until next time dear reader!
And please remember, no matter what happens--always keep your feet warm!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What We've Been Up To, Pictorially...

Howdy from a white and snowy North!

 I thought I'd letcha guys in on what has been keeping the kids busy these snowy cold days. After all, what does a big homeschooled family, living quite remotely, find to do all day (and winter) long on their homestead? Well, I think I'll let these pictures and all those smiles speak for themselves. :)

Cute or what? Those two make the most adorable bookends when they ride their mules together! :)

Nothin' cuter than long ears at sunset...
Okay, now the younger kids want a crack at the fun!

 Even the kitty got a ride!

 The younger ponies look forward to the day when they can get ridden out too!
 This is Perla, our half Icelandic. I love the fuzzy coats and long manes on the Icelandic crosses! They're such beautiful little creatures. Lizzy and Perla have become quite good friends and enjoy spending lots of time together romping in the pasture. They're pretty cute together. :)
Going through my archives, I just found the post announcing Perla's birth. It has some neat pictures and it's cool seeing how she changed as she's growing up. Check out that old post HERE. 

Oh, and never-fear, our household is being kept quite safe these days! ;)
Well that about wraps it up... I'll be back later to (pictorially) report on what the older kids have been up to these days. While not nearly as cute and fun, it's still interesting and enjoyable, so I'll catch ya later with that update.

Thanks for viewing--please come again soon! :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy 1-1-11!!

(While this post was written on 1-1-11, it's taken me this long to get around to posting it! oops.)

Hey Everybody! Happy 2011!

 So did you start your new year off with a bang? We sure did! Sound asleep in our little beds. :) When we were kissing Mom and heading off to bed at our normal times, Mom playfully griped that she had raised a bunch of fuddy-duddy children. But who wants to do something while the whole rest of the world is doing it simultaneously? Take NY square for example, why would you want to go there when you know that's where everybody is headed? I prefer to do things sporadically, in my own time and way. Maybe it's the rebel in me, but I find it to be much more fun when we teenagers randomly end up staying up late for no reason at all, just because we're having fun doing something with each other and we don't want it to end. Knowing that we're still awake, giggling and having fun while the world sleeps is much more exciting than being awake and drowsy while the rest of the world is all awake too. I don't care if you like staying up, I just love the way I spent my New Year's evening: curled up in a comfy arm chair with Johnny reading The Magician's Nephew (Narnia 1) aloud to him. We read half the book in one sitting! And in the room next to us, Theresa and Lizzy were taking turns reading aloud from my book, while in the loft Annie and Donna were head to head reading an intense story of Little Bear. Then, at bedtime, we all hugged and kissed each other goodnight and as I was snuggling down cozy into my comforter, I felt glad that we were a family of fuddy-duddy's with just a random touch of sporadic parties in us. :)
The girls having a sporadic late night party a few nights ago (captured by Lizzy.)

2010 in Pictures

Last year seemed to fly by for us. As I sat watching snow blow past the window next to me, I decided to go back and see if I could see where all the time went. I ended up compiling what I saw into a collage for every month. In each collage, I tried to include a picture of Donna because she has changed so much since last year and I wanted to see if I could break down the changes. I also tried to include one of my flowers in each, (because I'm missing them right now) as well as just an overview of what happened that month; projects and play. The boys photo library got corrupted sometime last spring, so I had trouble finding some of the original dates, but in the end, I'm 90% sure all of the pictures were taken inside their respective months. Anyway, here we go! (Click to enlarge)

January was a quiet, relaxing month of gently falling snow, warm hearths, laughter, woodworking, stitching and sledding.

February was an exciting month of learning and trying new things; cheese recipes, advanced knitting patterns, lathe and woodworking projects.

March was a fun month of planning gardens and orchards, ordering seeds and plants and enjoying the first spring blooms. Tapping for sap, and processing syrup and honey kept us busy.
April was a refreshing month full of those sweet fresh smells of spring and the excitement of the children and animals as the snow banks shrunk away revealing dry patches of ground.
May was a busy month of planting the cold loving things and preparing our acre garden for seed, as well as immensely enjoying the spring blooms and blossoms.
June was a wonderfully productive month of starting things: seeds and gardens, the training and riding of our young horses, our evening swimming routines, and our 2010 barn project.
July was a hot month of character-building hard work and wonderful pampering swims mixed with beautiful sunsets over the lake.
August was a month of beautiful growth; in the gardens, babies, and even in the beehives when we had to catch a swarm!
September was a month warm with smiles and rich with laughter and good food, as we began hauling in the harvest.
October was a month that found the kids outside for long hours everyday, both working and playing, hoping to soak in as much of the sun's last rays as they could before the winter.
November was a mad rush kind of month where we ran around like chickens with our heads cut off to finish all the summer chores before our first snowfall. Once everything was completed, the lovely snowfalls were warmly welcomed!
December was a cozy month of luscious secrets, yummy smells, lovely music, pretty sights, big smiles and abundant joy! :)