Saturday, December 31, 2011

Even more cold...

So, we have been having a string of interesting luck....

As you might remember, right before the Solstice and Christmas holiday's, our washing machine went feral and flooded a good part of our first floor and basement.  And while we acted fast and minimiized much of the damage, our kitchen floor does tell the tale of that day.

Now, with the new year hot on our heels, our heating is on the fritz..  We have absolutely no heating on our second floor, and no clue why.  And, being the frugal (cheap?) people that we are, there is no way that we are willing paying emergency rates for the heating company to come outto the homestead this weekend. 

So, it is a bit cold, inside and out, this weekend. 

Of course, physics, or whatnots, is on our side with the whole heat rising thing, and we are able to close off many of the rooms, and we are still able to rely on electric plug in this is not an emergency by any means...but I have taken to sleeping in many, many layers (including two pairs of socks and a hat), and I am currently huddled in my bed, under multiple covers, wishing I took some time this weekend to finally make those fingerless gloves I have been eyeing.  And being very curious by my children who seems just fine with the lower than normal temporatures (seriously, how can they attempt to wear t-shirts and shorts in this house?  I don't get it...).

So, I ask, just when is Spring coming? ;)

Thursday, December 29, 2011


It is cold out.

After weeks of temps in the 30's of so, we have now hit true winter with a current temp of 0 degrees F.  And while I know that this is normal for Vermont, I am not loving this.

Morning found us early, as the husband and I arose at 4:15am (and whole 15 minutes earlier than normal, I realize with chagrin...).  While he went out, greeted the snow plow and started his car, I began his breakfast and lunch prep.  He was leaving early to go pick up a friend to car pool.

Once he was out the door, it was time for me to bundle up and head out into the cold.  First up were the chickens.

After shoveling the chicken yard, their coop door was opened ( the heat light having been turned on previously), and their water bowl was filled.  In peeking into the coop, I saw some of the smallest ladies picking up one leg, and then the other in an attempt to keep warm.  I wondered if those little ones might need a turn inside if temps got much colder.

Once the ladies were all set, it was time to drag the trash and recycling to the curb.  The holidays provided a plentiful amount to be laid out in wait, and I found cause to use my children's sled to drag it out.  The air was fridge, my breath sheilded only by the fleece camo ski mask that is my favored attire outside these days...which in turn fogged my glasses so that I couldn't even see.  Sometimes it is hard to win in these situations...

But, now I am inside.  My cats are beginning to swarm as they contemplate jumping on my laptop, and I am considering either climbing into a hot bath or a warm bed until the kids awaken.

Stay warm, my friends.  It is cold out there.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Crafting days...

Good morning everyone!  It is Wednesday, and we are Yarning Along with Ginny and joining in with Tami's Amis' Work in Progress  and Ambassador Crochet today!

So, the holidays are over...and I am exhausted!  I hear what you might be saying...'What about New Years?  That's a holiday!'....well, we aren't much for celebrating that one, short of trying to watch MTV's New Years count down and lamenting over how old we have gotten...frankly, we don't recognize any of the music video hosts...what happened to Carsen Daly??

So, to get back to my point, the holidays are over for us, and we are left with some days at home with the kids on the school break...and a good sort of time on my hands for some crafting....and I have been doing just that.

Last week, my goal was to finish up my son's blanket this week, and as you see above, I just might succeed.  I have been fiercely refusing to let myself start anything new until that blanket is done.  Motivation?  I think so....I am craving to start a new shawl with the beautiful wool fiber that I have been stockpiling....but, soon enough.

Well, that is all on this end :)  Head on over to Ginny's, Tami's, and Ambassador's Crochet other interesting ventures into fiber and literary fun.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

All set...but for the clean up...

The holidays have come and gone....and all that is left is the clean up. 

The holidays surrounded us with vigor this year, and we were happily able to attend each and every gathering that we were invited to.  And than, in and of itself was shocking.  Most years, all that needs to happen is to have an invite cross the threshold for someone in this family to get sick...But not this year!

We were blessed with family and friends and celebrations.

So, as a result, as we arrived back home after the final Christmas gathering, I was officially done.  And the house looked like Christmas came and blew up all over the place. 

Not being a family to maintain the holiday decorations past Christmas, I can officially say that everything is packed up and put away for another year.   I hope that doesn't sound too, like, just feels like it is time.

Of, the fake tree that we have been using for the past three years (initially purchased the year that my husband was training in Texas for several of the months and I worried I would not be able to handle two preschoolers and the cutting/hauling/trimming of a full size tree....) broke in the taking down stages....but that is an issue for another year...

So, until another year, the holiday season is past...and I plan to take many, many naps...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Joyous celebrations....

To grandmother's house, and back was a beautiful holiday of joyous celebrations....

Hoping everyone else had a slice of the same. :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice, my friends! 

I am so contented that it is finally here.  The longest night of the year has arrived, and it marks that point where it all turns around and we begin our downward slope towards longer days and the start to a new growing season.

The morning was spent caring for our animals, as is a traditional, and practical method of observance.  Our time today will follow with time spent with family and friends...working and celebrating....readying for the Holiday celebrations in coming days.

I hope that you are all having a joyeus and peaceful Solstice. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A fiber and literary update....quick!

Good morning everyone!  It is Wednesday, and we are Yarning Along with Ginny and joining in with Tami's Amis' Work in Progress  and Ambassador Crochet today!

And this is going to be a quick one - as I have gingerbread cookies in the oven (needing to be sent to school with my daughter this morning) and chickens that are waiting impatiently to be let out of the coop....and kids that will be running down the stairs any moment, searching for breakfast....

I finished the final holiday gift this past weekend - hurray!  I would do a show and tell, but I wouldn't want to ruin any surprises...And I have be working on my son's orange blanket this week, and hope to get it finished during the holiday break. 

On a fun note, I have been stock piling coupons for 50% off one item at the local craft store, and have been purchasing and savings bundles of wool yarn for later projects....

Reading-wise, I finished Friday Night Knitting Club last night...and frankly, was shocked by the ending.  I won't give away any secrets...but, wow.  Just wow.
Well, that is all on this end :)  Head on over to Ginny's, Tami's, and Ambassador's Crochet other interesting ventures into fiber and literary fun.

And if you are celebrating, I wish you all a joyeous holiday season....

Monday, December 19, 2011

A surprise....

My husband SWEARS that he does not read my blog....but, today, when I rushed home to continue with the water clean up from yesterday's washer flooding, and help install the new washer machine...

This was waiting for me in the back of the truck.

The very thing I was dreaming aobut yesterday, while musing about next years garden...

It is a holiday gift.

For us.

And it is perfect.

Zucchini Bread on a crazy day....

Hi everyone!!  It is Monday yet again...we are joining in with Tonya at Plain and Joyful Living, for the Handmade Holiday

-AND (!!!)-

with Emily at The Nest for Craft♥Advent.

So, the weekend started really great - visits to family and friends, creative time with the kiddos....come Sunday afternoon, it got downright crazy.

It all started just as we got the cookbook out...

And consulted our favorite recipe for Zucchini Bread....

Last summer for a bumper crop of Zucchini, so plenty ended up shredded and put up for the winter. 

And on Sunday, into the microwave it went to defrost for Zucchini Bread....a recipe from Ms. Crocker that is soooo good, even my kids will eat it!!

However, just as the microwave finished however, it came to my attention that there was a growing puddle of water under the fridge....and then after a dash to the bathroom, we saw that that floor was soaked....and then after flinging ourselves at high speeds down to the basement, we found that it was raining.


So, long story very short....the washer malfunctioned, hence soaking a good portion of my house, which in turn allowed for the zucchini to finish defrosting...Glass half full, right? ;)

And after 3 additional hours, all was mixed up and into the oven it went!

All ready for holiday gifting!

For more organized and less crazy holiday crafting and fun, head on over to Tonya's site, Plain and Joyful Living and Emily's at The Nest for Craft♥Advent.

I will see you there!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Call me crazy, but....

OK, so I know that this is crazy.

Snow is on the ground.  Cookies are in the oven.  Solstice is only days away....

But I can't wait for next year's garden.

I have found myself logging in to my account at High Mowing, and building my wish list...kale, edamame, sweet peas...the list is starting to get out of hand - already!!  And the growing season in not even in sight.

But this next season will be our largest yet, with over a quarter of an acre completely dedicated to growing edibles.  I can't even begin to imagine the volume of food we will be able to harvest this next year.  As it was, with our garden of last year, I found myself sending my daughter from house to house in the neighborhood, dropping off squash, cucumbers, kale, etc...that we just couldn't put up for ourselves.

Our garden of last year had outgrown out storage abilities...

And now, we have grown that garden to be at least four times bigger.

I think we will need some more canning jars....and cupboard space...and maybe a freezer chest...

But first...we will daydream and grow that garden wish list ;)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Preparing for tomorrow...

Friday evening has arrived, and it seems as though the work has just begun.  The start to our holiday gifting season hits "GO" tomorrow.  And this fact is made very obvious by the current state of my house.

I arrived home, groceries in hand, only to toss the frozen pizzas to my eagering awaiting husband, so he could begin our "dinner".  Then once any other warm bodies had cleaned out of the kitchen, I was up and moving.  Pizza out, cookies in, quiche in, cookies out, more quiche in...frankly, at this point, I just hope I got the temperatures right....  it all looks OK....I guess...;)

But either way, it is all in process...

But right now, as dishes are covering the counter and cookies are once again in the oven, I am taking a break.  I have three crochet projects in the wings and a cat guarding them all ;) 

And yes, that is the orange soon-to-be blanket of my son...and it is looking like a grannie square...but, someday, it will grow up to be a real blanket!

Wishing everyone a wonderful start to the weekend... :)

Craft♥Advent - a more traditional take on shortbread...

Happy Friday everyone!  We are joining in with Emily at The Nest for Craft♥Advent today :)

And...we are taking another go around with the shortbread cookies....  The last ones we tried were fun, but really, REALLY crumbly....and since many broke before they were packaged up, more needed the be made.

So, today, we are going for a more traditional, solid shortbread cookie.  And once again, ingreadients are simple: butter (a whole pound!!), cup of brown sugar, and nearly four cups of flour...

Once again, the handy mixer has been pulled from the sidelines and into action.

A big hunk of dough is mixed up and set out for shaping.

Dough is rolled out until about 1/2 inch think, then cut into squares (I used our circular pizza cutter), and then poked with a fork to get the dominoe-like dots....

In to the oven at 325 degrees F, for about 20 minutes

Cookies are then set on a rack to cool.

And then packaged up for the coming weekend of early gifting.

For other adventures in Craft♥Advent, check out Emily's site at The Nest!

Happy crafting everyone!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One done and many begun...

Good morning everyone!  It is Wednesday, and we are Yarning Along with Ginny and joining in with Tami's Amis' Work in Progress  and Ambassador Crochet today!
I have a couple irons in the fire, as they say.  Luckily, only one is to be we just aren't going to talk about that one today ;)

So, let's start with blankets....I finally finished my daughter's blanket.  Hurray!!  I was going to get a picture to show everyone today...but she has already gone to bed with the blanket tucked in tight with her.

But, hey!  It is DONE!!!

So, now my son would like a took him to the local craft store, and said, go ahead - you pick it!  Whatever you like!

And...this is what he chose.


Tis a bright ole hunter orange.  In acrylic. Yep.  That's what he wants....

Sooo.....moving on...

In other crafting....I was another a tax conference on Tuesday.  Yes, I know, I can hear you....another.  But, that's OK!  It is like super duper multitasking - learning tax law while crafting.  Perfect!

And this one is a bit of a recycled project.  It is a Paton's pure wool fiber, and I love the color, but it was previously a shawl that I crafted, but never wanted to wear.

So, I yanked it, scrapped it, and am revamping it.

Using, yet again the fishnet stitch - seriously love that stitch.

The picture quality is far from great....but I am liking it lots ;)

Moving to literary ventures...well...not much change.

 I am still loving the Friday Night Knitting Club...and am still reading it.  Slow, I know.  But, we are getting there.  And it is still really good!!

Well, that is all on this end :)  Head on over to Ginny's, Tami's, and Ambassador's Crochet other interesting ventures into fiber and literary fun.

I will see you there!

Monday, December 12, 2011


So...I found a surprise in the mail today.

Or, at least, what I thought to be a surprise.

A new magazine - a homesteading magazine!  Did I subscribe to something?  I didn't remember doing so...

I scratched my head.  I racked my brain.

And, that I saw..."Backyard Bees"!!! 


It was a sign! 

I had been thinking about that we should consider beekeeping in the future...Can't you just imagine it?  Honey, spun from hives, inhabited by bees we care for...if, that is, you can care for bees.

How does one care for bees?

I know nothing about bees...but, that's OK.  I can figure this out.  We have 54 acres, after all.  Plenty of room for bees.

It is a sign!

But, then I look closer....

"Homestead".  Published by "John Deere".


An advertisement.  Hmmm...

But, that's OK...let's still call it a sign, OK?

We're gonna get us some bees!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A surprisingly difficult day...

It was an unexpectedly difficult day.

Very unexpected.

I had such high hopes, and such good plans.  My daughter was off with her father to a holiday event, so it was just me and my little man.

And we were going to hit the streets!  Santa, afterall, was holding court in the next town over.  And we were ready to chat up the man in red.

My little man was excited and dressed in his very best attire (charcoal gray sweatpants and a logo StarWars t-shirt - he is all of 6 after all) to meet his soon to be BFF. 

We were going to drop my daughter off for her event, then stop by a craft store (not a pleasure visit, but a necessity...a tailoring affair gone awry and needing immediate assistance...), drop by his fav fast food chain (ugh!  shudders....a very rare occasion, indeed), and then off to the big event.

But, this momma screwed up.  I got the time wrong, and as we were getting into town, then event was ending...and then I couldn't even figure out where we were supposed to go even if we were on time!

It was awful.

Truely awful.

My little man was so upset, crying and then yelling at me.  And I felt SO bad that I couldn't help but to start crying too!  Right there, in a parking lot of a pharmacy.  We must have been quite the sight.

But, a few minutes (and a call to my mother....what can I say?  She will always be my topnotch go-to person), later, we were back on the road, heading to a local diner for a late lunch of chocolate chip pancakes and chocolate milk.

Chocolate is healing.

And, after our glorious meals, we headed down the street and rented us a movie.

So, you ask, did we save the day?  I don't know. 

But, my little man went to bed happily...and I hope to do the same in an hour or so...and we may both dream of Smurfs running through the streets.

So, I guess that is a success of sorts...

Just not the way we planned...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Craft♥Advent - Shortbread Cookies

We are so happy to be joining in with Emily at The Nest for Craft♥Advent.

Today, we are making shortbread cookies...which just so happen to look like tree ornaments ;)  Fancy, right?  ;)

These have got to be my very most favorite cookies for the holidays...although I am not quite sure whether this is cause they are so tasty, or because they require all of three ingredients - not counting the decoratives. :)

And what are these ingredients, you ask?  Butter, flour, and sugar.  It doesn't get much simplier than that! 

And to aid in the work, we have the Kitchen Aid mixer, a hand-me-down from my grandmother (haven't a clue how far back it dates....), and the my trustee Betty Crocker CookBook (aka.  my bible - no offensive intended...).  Delightful friends, they are!

Once the three very important ingredients are mixed up, it is on to the cutting board with the handheld roller.  A fun, but messy part....leaving my kitchen kinda covered in powdered sugar...

I was kind of a slacker in cutting the shapes, using a simple drinking cup to cut the circles...but, in public, I will say that I didn't lose the cookie cutters...I was planning to make circles....really, I was... ;)

As a side note...these have green food coloring added to add some holiday cheer...and my kids did ask me why I was cooking Play Doh.  And later ate said "Play Doh"...hmmm....

For decoratives, I simply added a smattering of peppermints with sprinkles...

And...Ta Da!  15 minutes in the oven...and they are DONE!!

See?  How easy is that?
If I can do it, anyone can! 

As a bit of a sidebar...for those of you who may not be in the our house, when the smoke alarm goes off, my son calls up "Is dinner ready?" and then grabs a pillow to aid in fanning the detector....Yup - that's us!

For other adventures in Craft♥Advent, check out Emily's site at The Nest!

Happy crafting everyone!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Memories flying by....

How is it that the days fly by so quickly?  It is seems to defy principles of physics, or gravity, or common sense....I don't know....but it does.

It is nearly the holidays - Solstice is around the corner, and it will be speedily followed up by our family's holiday celebrtions.  The kids are older this year, and will be enjoying and participating in full force... 

But soon, we will blink and it will be over.

And we will have all sorts of thoughts of things we meant to do...but never quite got around to it.  People we meant to call...but we never picked up the phone.

We borrow hours with one hand and provide with the other, and try to make the cookies with the time inbetween.

But, I would just like it to slow down.

Way down.

So far down, so that my husband and I don't find that at the end of the day, our joined comment is "oh, and here we are again".  'Cause, some times, the day just passes through the hours inbetween with no help from us.

And I am not OK with that.

I want to remember everything.  Each snap shot of life, each throw back and snappy comment by the short ones of the family. 

I want all of these memory shots to be filed away for years to come, so that when that time does come, when the days are less full and we learn to breathe and relax, I can sit down and flip through those memories, and see all of the joy and venture that we created in our little world.

And so, we start by just focusing on each moment, each detail, and make sure that we are fully engaged, fully involved, and completely in our world.  Because each moment is important.

Each and every one. .

Welcoming the snow...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shawls, shawls, everywhere!

Good morning everyone!  It is Wednesday, and we are Yarning Along with Ginny and joining in with Tami's Amis' Work in Progress  and Ambassador Crochet today!

It has been a productive couple of days.

On Friday, I was at a tax conference...which was quite a fun time...and as a result, I finished the teal shawl, and added some length to the emerald green shawl (which I had previously thought to be done....but obviously changed my mind...;)  ).

And then, I was at another tax conference on Tuesday.  Not quite as much fun as Friday (honestly, Friday's presenter was so good, I think most others will pale in comparision for quite some time....), but just as productive, craft-wise.  'Cause, lo and behold!, I was able to make another teal shawl!  Using the fishnet stitch was great - it really helped it all come together speedy quick!

After the conference, I indulged and finally stopped by the local library....I have quite the stash to hold me for a few weeks. In particular I am loving the Friday Night Knitting Club. 6 pages in and I was sold. Hook, line, and sinker. I mean, has everyone already read this? Am I late to the party? It is fantastic!!!

And, as an added bonus, I have been able to sink a bit more into the book I am reading via BookSneeze.  It is getting quite good, now that I am getting the hang of the story line :)

Well, that is all on this end :)  Head on over to Ginny's, Tami's, and Ambassador's Crochet other interesting ventures into fiber and literary fun.

I will see you there!

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Handmade Holiday & Craft♥Advent - with fabulous pairing!

Hi everyone!!  It is Monday yet again...but I am excited to be joining in with Tonya at Plain and Joyful Living, for the Handmade Holiday

-AND (!!!)-

with Emily at The Nest for Craft♥Advent - Day 5!

Each year, we gift a bundle of goodies to our families to be enjoyed with the holidays.  And since the celebrations are nearly upon us...Sunday was all about these edible creations :)

One of my favorite goodies to make are some of the most simple. can never go wrong with chocolate and pretzels - a most fabulous pairing!

To start, I set up a mock double boiler out of a sauce pan, a Pyrex measuring cup, and a canning ring for which the glass to stand upon.  Don't want to burn that chocolate!!

After a few minutes, the chocolate was melted and had taken on a glossy sheen.

And then, it was time to bring in the salty friends!!

The key to this fun is to keep the chocolate warm.  Don't boil and don't cool...just a nice even kneel.

Then, it is all about the dip and twist :)

I don't know about you...but they look delicious to me!

The pretzel twists get a different treatment....a recipe for a delicious bite of fun that I learned from of a friend this past summer.

First, a generous dollap of chocolate goes into the center of each...

And then...we add the M&M's

Then...the only step left to do is to bag them up!  And, of course, hope my little ones don't find and eat them all up!!  :)

For more fun, head on over to Tonya's site, Plain and Joyful Living and Emily's at The Nest for Craft♥Advent.

I will see you there!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Craft♥Advent Gingerbread kind of day!

We are so happy to be joining in with Emily at The Nest for Craft♥Advent - Day 4!
For our craft....we tackled the gingerbread village!

Now, I would love to say that I baked the gingerbread and made the whole kit and kaboodle from scratch...but, just isn't true.

For this fun, we had to employ the gingerbread in a box kind of approach.

The kit was pretty complete, with gingerbread, icing, and candy, all ready to go.

But, as you can see from above, sneaky fingers kept creeping over to, let's say, confirm that quality of our building materials.... 

The icing in a box worked pretty fast, which is a great thing...the kiddos were able to jump quickly into decorating.

But, I did have to remind them several times that icing should not be licked off of gingerbread houses... ;)

All assembled, we had a delicious set of five little villages houses...the kiddos assigned one to each two-legged member of the homeside (and I must say, my abode is just lovely!). 

And being my kids...the fifth home has been assigned as the outhouse.

Really.  Hmmm....

It is a lovely snow covered village :)

Well, at least until someone starts snacking! ;)

For other adventures in Craft♥Advent, check out Emily's site at The Nest!

Happy crafting everyone!!