Thursday, December 29, 2011


A little late, but sincere as ever... Here's hoping your celebrations this season, whatever they may be, have been full of joy, warmth and light.

I'll share more soon, but for now, I'm returning to my spot buried under blankets on the couch, waiting out this nasty virus that's got me down.

Here's to a happy, healthy start of the new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

in the making

Strands of lights... pencils, paper and glue... yarn and needles... dough and batter... pots of stock and plates of muffins... gathered odds and ends... fabric, thread, ribbon and a whole lot of imagination are all busy in the making of these days.

What's in the making for you?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

homemade ornaments

These lovely little ornaments are one of our favorite holiday crafts. Using homemade playdough, cookie cutters and presses the kids create simple ornaments to give as gifts and add to our tree.

Play Dough Recipe

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 Tbsp cream of tartar
2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp oil
food coloring

Combine the dry ingredients and place in a heavy pot. Mix the water and oil together before pouring into the flour mix. Whisk to combine and heat over medium-low heat, stirring as the mixture thickens. In a few minutes, you will have playdough! Press a bit between your fingers to test the consistency. If it's still too sticky, stir and cook a little longer. Separate into as many pieces as colors you want to make. Roll the dough into a ball, make a well in the middle, add your food coloring and knead the color into the dough.

Once you have your dough colored, you can get to work rolling out the dough and cutting the shapes. Using a small point (such as a toothpick) make a hole for stringing the finished ornament.

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 300 degrees for one hour. When the ornaments are cool, you can decorate with glue, glitter, paint, ribbon and more.

Once dry, they're ready to add to your holiday cheer!

Friday, December 9, 2011

back at it

Well, hello there. A few weeks go by and, what do you know, it looks like the holidays are upon us!

We've been enjoying plenty of holiday celebrations these days, with parties and holiday faires all around. The winter festival at the farm is perhaps my most favorite of all... warm meals cooked in the farmhouse, woodsmoke in the air, Father Christmas at the cabin. This year's celebration was even more enjoyable as the kids and I were invited to join in the fun -- authentic period costumes and all.

Daniel's post was at the wood workshop in the upper barn, helping demonstrate the old fashioned toys made by a talented woodworker at the farm.

Sophia and I were in the farmhouse, where the kitchen was full of busy hands making a traditional Christmas dinner. In the parlor, carols were being played on a pump organ (Sophia and Daniel even played a few) and the tree was being decorated with ornaments and strings of popcorn garland.

When the work was done and the visitors gone, we all settled in to share the warmth of the farmhouse and the results of all that busyness in the kitchen. Really, it was the culmination of a good year in many ways. Among the dishes served were leeks fresh from the farm garden, pork roast from the autumn's butchering, apple cider pressed from the apples we picked together on a cold, rainy fall day. Around all that was the comfort of the friendships that have grown in this place.

This season is full of so many reasons for celebration and reminders of gratitude. I'm looking forward to sharing more of them with you here in the coming weeks!

Monday, November 14, 2011

in search of stillness

It's been quiet over here on the blog, and I've been seeking a bit of the same in our day to day lives.

Oh, but that is hard to find in the daily grind, moving from laundry and cooking and cleaning to classes and appointments and obligations. I've been longing for some stillness amidst the trying two-year-old (any advice on weathering tantrums would be so gladly received; I swear the first two kids were never this challenging!) and the growing list of things to be done before the snow sticks. And just as my youngest child is challenging me in new ways, I am finding parenting in general to be a bit more demanding.

I can usually find space to rejuvenate among the constancy of young children, but then again, I've never been at this for so long before. Each day feels like a new effort in finding peace in the moments. I've had the desire lately to be without the kids for an extended time, something I've never had or felt before, and something that isn't likely to happen anytime soon. (Oh, I almost feel like a bad mom for admitting it, but we all need a break sometime, don't we?) Instead, I am working at remembering what I know about slowing down, letting go and creating the moments of serenity I crave.

As we drove through the woods on our way home from today's field trip, the children, who had been quiet in the back seat, suddenly asked for me to turn the car. Turn the car! And so we found ourselves with a much needed break from the demands of the day and an open expanse of stillness and beauty to enjoy. The children must have needed it as much as I did.

I know so many of you feel the busyness of these days, whether it be with young children or demanding jobs or both (and more). How is it that you find stillness in your days?

However it may be, I hope you're finding all that you need...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

in tribute

For a while now, I've been meaning to write an update on our sweet chickens.

The post I planned to write would tell you of the place these birds have occupied in my family's hearts; how each morning, they would greet us with their sweet cluck-clucks as we let them out into the yard and brought them their breakfas; how they would perch on the deck at dusk, waiting for us to carry them back to their coop and tuck them in safely for the night.

You would hear of how the chickens tapped their beaks at the back door when they wanted us to come out to play and would eagerly follow us about the yard, especially interested in any digging that took place in the garden, happily eating worms and seeds out of our hands.

It turned out that of our five hatchlings, three were roosters. We held on to them as long as we could, but eventually they became too noisy for our suburban lot (though the neighbors swore they loved the sounds). Oh, but those roosters did their jobs, keeping their hens safe and letting out a distinct "bawk-bawk-bawk-bakawk" that signalled the presence of the hawk who would sometimes swoop down on them. The language of chickens is compelling. I never imagined they would be so complex, have so much personality or become so dear to us.

Recently, the hens started laying -- the most perfect, tiny brown eggs you ever saw.

It was almost like Easter in our yard each day, as the hens were a bit confused about where to lay.We'd search them out, sometimes finding eggs on the ground just outside the coop, sometimes on the side of the garage, even in the shed. One was laid on our front porch. The larger hen had the habit of disappearing, going off on adventures to lay her eggs where we would not find them. We took to calling her Louise (like the main character in Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken). Naturally, the other hen became Thelma, though the children preferred the names Henny and Henny Penny.

But this post is not the one I wanted to write about our chickens. This post has a different ending. We returned home the other night to be greeted by our neighbor, who sweetly told us (out of earshot of the kiddos) how she ran out of her house and tried to stop it. She did her best to save our hens, but that hawk was swift and successful. In our front yard we found Louise, there but no longer with us. Thelma is nowhere to be found, having either run off in fear or been carried off by the hawk.

It all made me feel so humbled. I feel as though I failed these birds, who required so little of us but brought us so much in return. For some reason, the roosters meeting their end at our hands didn't bother me, but failing to protect the sweet hens seems an unforgivable error.

There will be more chickens, I am sure. We will likely wait until the spring and try it all again, hopefully with a bit more wisdom and experience gained along the way. But these birds -- the first birds we hatched and raised and fell in love with -- will always have a special place in our hearts.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

in the spirit

blueberry jack o'lantern pancakes

hand-made decorations

carving pumpkins

Happy Halloween!