Maxed out

I haven’t been posting for a while, not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I was working on my blog and made a couple of big mistakes and haven’t had time to fix them yet. But I really miss posting. I’ve taken lots of pictures that I wanted to post so I can look back at them someday and remember. Today I just want to show you something really quickly.
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See that? Do you even know what that means? Well, first of all, keep in mind that it’s Wednesday. Give up? It means that my husband is home from work today. Which is really nice all by itself. But it also means that we have a fuller house than normal. :) Yep. Our oldest son, Josh, is home for a visit. And the combination of those two things filled my Grandma’s griddle. It’s a great day to start the day!

Men at Work

The never ending list of things to do gives us a chance to work and play with the kids. I’m sure that there are times that they wish we didn’t include them, but often the rewards outweigh the tasks.

Coffee is greatly enjoyed by my husband and I. Sometimes decaf, sometimes half-caffeine, sometimes full on caffeine, but always, yes, ALWAYS with fresh cream. And when you’re one of the working team, you get your own mug.

IMG_3736 IMG_3730(Don’t worry, he never gets a mug full of coffee. One of his favorite treats is to finish up the last drops from our mug, but this time I poured him just a taste and filled the rest with milk.)

And then there are the big toys. One of the things we bought when we moved here was a tractor. Oh, we dreamed of draft horses, but without a barn (or any experience with draft horses) we opted for the familiar. Moving firewood isn’t quite the chore when you have horsepower working for you. And even better is when you get to be the one driving. IMG_3726 IMG_3723The only problem is that now I never get to drive it.

In and Around the Cottage

Homing::  After moving things in and out and around Maddie’s room (which is still not quite done) I had a chance to make some changes in other corners of our cottage. One of them was moving a tall bookcase out of Maddie’s room and into the little girls’, which made the coziest of reading corners. Made even better by moving two rocking chairs and a sheepskin. This is now one of their favorite nooks.IMG_3857-1

Learning:: With all the sewing I’ve been doing lately (no, Maddie’s quilt is still not done) the girls have all been watching intently. Grandma’s sewing machine has now been relocated to Maddie’s bedroom. I’m hunting for the perfect sewing/crafting/schooling table for her little space, but I haven’t found it yet. I did see one on Craigslist about 2 months before we needed one, but at the time the need wasn’t there and I couldn’t justify the purchase. Hmph.

My back up machine was brought out for the little girls’ to practice some machine stitching. Just on paper right now, following paths and lines and curves to learn how to control the machine, but Emma is quite anxious for some fabric and a project.  Soon, baby.IMG_3973-1

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Out of doors::  We’ve had quite a mix of weather this fall. One day brisk and breezy, the next rainy, then a treat of balmy and practically warm for these parts at this time of year, then a flurry or three whispering of things to come. My almost every morning routine (unless one of the Middles goes for me) includes donning happy boots, fetching water, either from the hose or the house depending on how frozen things are, spending time with the goaties, and then taking a brisk walk around the field, through the trees, up to the garden and back to the house, grabbing an armful of firewood on my way in which usually lasts until afternoon chore time.IMG_3825-2-1I do think that these goats have the very best view. Luckily, they willingly share it with us when we visit. IMG_3822-2-1

In the kitchen:: After a bit of a cooking slump, I revisited some of my favorite cookbooks for some menu ideas. I’m doing a much better job of meal planning and carrying out those plans, assisted by a weekly trip into town where I have two hours to run errands all alone. Thrifting? Yes, please! Grocery shopping? Why not.   Tonight’s supper was boeuf bourguignon.  Perfect on this chilly night.

Making:: I’m still working on Maddie’s quilt. I had a bit of trouble with the machine quilting. After stitching along just fine for a whole lot of the quilt, I was suddenly faced with the thread breaking over and over again, and then the needle breaking. Rethreading, cleaning the machine, changing the needle and even switching to a different thread didn’t solve the problem. After sleeping on it I realized that the weight of the quilt was pulling too much. So I adjusted my sewing table and propped the quilt up better. Problem solved! And I’m getting oh-so-close to being done. I’m not sure who’s more excited, Maddie or me. IMG_3989-1

Maddie’s Room Redo

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Maddie moved into her own room about 2 years ago. Up until then she and Zach shared a bedroom. But then Josh left for school so Zach took his room. And Emma and Sophie needed to move out of our bedroom because Silas was just born and we didn’t really have room for five in our bedroom. So Emma and Sophie took Zach and Maddie’s old bedroom and Maddie moved into the study. Did you follow all that?

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Well, Maddie has been living with the wallpaper border that was put up by the previous owners, a mix of furniture, and a too-big-desk ever since.  We realized it was about time for Maddie’s bedroom to become her own. So the desk was listed on Craigslist and it finally sold, so the makeover could begin.  

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We’re still working on it, but the fresh yellow paint and the curtain is done. I painted a headboard we picked up at a thrift shop. There’s more to come, like finishing her quilt that’s over 2 years in the making, and a couple of other touches. But it’s coming along nicely. And these are the happiest curtains I’ve ever made. 

Winding Up

I seem to be spending a lot of time sitting and waiting these days, and while I’d love to spend those minutes reading, my attention still needs to be at the ready to help, correct or direct the activities of a little one. Knitting is the perfect activity for those moments.

IMG_3798Zach requested a bearded hat for Christmas, so we made a trip to the local yarn shop so he could pick out his colors. One of them came in a hank instead of a ball, and while I could have just wound it by hand, I’m optimistic about my future knitting projects and expect to be purchasing more and more hanks. And while I really would have loved to grab an antique yarn winder, the ones that are in good working condition are out of our budget right now.

IMG_3795I found a good winder at a discount price because the box was damaged and ordered it. The Middles had fun winding up the hank we bought, then starting winding up all the tangled bits and balls I’ve had in the crafting basket. Then Zach made some yarn art.  IMG_3817I think he’s looking forward to winter a bit, yes?

First Frost

Is it really possible that we didn’t have a hard frost until now? This October has been so wonderfully mild, allowing us time to get many, but not all of our outside projects done before cold weather set in.  But now this frost is a sure sign that winter is on its way.IMG_3792

I switched out the Littles’ summer clothes for winter just this past weekend. Just in time I think, but there are a few gaps in their wardrobe that needs to be filled. Which of course leaves me dreaming of patterns and fabrics and wishing for more sewing time but knowing that realistically I’ll probably have to just go shopping for it.IMG_3791

The woodstove has been brought into full use, no longer just for evening fires, we’re keeping it burning even during the afternoons as well. So the all day tending and evening banking is an added beat to our daily rhythm.IMG_3789The water for the goats was frozen over. And the hose that we use to fill their buckets is no longer functional with these very chilly temperatures, so morning and afternoon chores now require a trip back to the house to fill the water buckets.IMG_3782IMG_3787The woodbox has reappeared from summertime cellar storage to be filled from outside every day.  A chore that the little girls always want to try to help with, but because of their little arms is more often assigned to one or both Middles, Mama or Papa. Taking turns does seem to make it less of a chore, and the little ones contribute by carrying a log or two inside to add to the woodbox. How they love to help!IMG_3785Christmas wish lists are being made and some secret gift making has begun, and a daily update of the Christmas countdown is brought to me by Zach (56 days in case you were wondering). Requests for Christmas lights in bedrooms have been made, so another trip to cellar storage needs to be made soon.IMG_3783

IMG_3786We’re enjoying these last few days of evening light, knowing that the coming time change will mean that Papa drives home from work in the dark, the goats need to be tucked into bed that much sooner, and the very precious light will need to be taken advantage of by earlier rising. Oh, I so don’t look forward to earlier rising!

They’re Baaaa-ck

Several weeks ago we welcomed back home some of our old friends. They had been staying with some friends of ours for a while. At the time, we needed to scale back a little and our friends wanted to explore the world of farm animals a little. It was the perfect solution, so we sent our goats to live with them for a while.

IMG_3668-3Well, seasons change, and our friends now need to scale back a little, and we have a little bit more time (not much, just a bit) to take care of our girls again.  So Kava, Mylan and Paprika have returned home.  Kava and Mylan are oberhasli goats and Paprika is a nigerian dwarf.IMG_3666-2I don’t think we’re going to breed them this year. As much as I’d like to see baby goats in the spring, and have fresh goat milk, I’m not ready for the time commitment right now, and I don’t want to lock myself into it come spring. And then there’s the added housing that would be needed for three goat mamas and babies.

IMG_3561-1I had forgotten how much I enjoy looking outside and seeing them grazing. Doing their job of keeping the forest from the field.

IMG_3688-4And every day at supper time when I look out my kitchen door, they’re waiting for us to come out and give them their own supper and put them to bed. We start the day with them, and end the day with them.  It’s a comforting rhythm.

How Much Wood :: Split

Once all the cutting was done, it was time for the next step in our wood gathering winter prep.

IMG_3636All those logs need to be split into smaller pieces that will actually fit in the wood stove. The old-fashioned axe and stump and lots of labor sounds romantic. Unless you’re the one assigned the job and you try to split the first log. Yes, there is a lot to be said for machines.

IMG_3637IMG_3639These two worked all day long for two full days. And the little pile that began like this:

IMG_3641Looked like this when they were finished:

IMG_3704And that, my friends, is a beautiful site when you live in Maine.

IMG_3644Silas loves these days of out-of-doors work.

Emma’s Portrait Dress

Homeschooling friends of ours love American history. They love it so much that every year, sometimes even twice a year, they put on a week-long Adventures in Learning day camp for homeschooled children in the area to dress, play, learn, reenact, and create based on a specific event or time period.   They’ve been doing this for years. Our oldest two children were able to participate when we lived in Maine the first time. Our middle children have been participating since we returned. And now one of our Littles is finally old enough to go along.

IMG_3699Emma was looking forward to this for weeks. The sweet families that run Adventures in Learning has costumes for all the participants to wear, but when the program first began years ago, part of the week was spent creating costumes, so it’s a family tradition now for our children to wear their own instead of borrowing.

This fall, Adventures in Learning focused on the French and Indian War. We prepared Zach and Maddie a little bit by having them watch a PBS program on the war so that they’d understand more about what was happening and why. And then we got to the fun of costuming.

Maddie was able to wear a dress that Cate made when she attended the program. It needed a little bit of repair and altering, and the time period for it wasn’t quite right (I think Cate made it during a Civil War program.)  It was funny to think that Cate was sewing this when Maddie was only a baby, and now Maddie is wearing it.

Zach wanted to wear the Native American outfit I made him earlier this year for the Native American program. We had to add a bit to the length of the shirt, and we added a little bit more to the decorations. But that was all he needed.

IMG_3701Emma needed a new dress.  I chose the Sensibility Portrait Dress pattern and used some cotton fabric that was in my stash.  It’s a pretty French blue print with very small gold squares. Quite appropriate for a French and Indian War dress, yes?  Since I made this pattern before (was it really almost 3 years ago?), it was a whole lot easier to put together this time.   I stitched up the gathered bodice option for Emma. The fit seems to be a little more flexible than the smooth bodice and I’m hoping she can wear this for a while.

IMG_3697I wasn’t going to make a petticoat for her, but at the last minute I decided to whip a simple one up. (There are directions in the pattern for a petticoat. It’s really just the skirt portion of the dress stitched to a waistband.) I took a very quick measurement of Emma’s waist the night before the start of the French and Indian War and sent her to bed. It turns out that my measurement was taken just a little too quickly. The snap that I sewed on for fastening wouldn’t stay fastened because the waist was a little too snug. So a simple safety-pin came to the rescue, although it does make the petticoat hang a little crooked – the hemlines are all straight, but the petticoat shows more in the front than in the back.

IMG_3696Emma is pretty happy with her new dress. I’m hoping that it will become part of her regular wardrobe. Little girls in long dresses are a favorite thing, even if the dress isn’t white with a blue satin sash.

I’m linking up with Katy at No Big Dill‘s Sew all 26 weeks alphabet project. This dress is perfect for week F I think – for the French and Indian War Dress.

The Moon Loves Pink

IMG_3676Mama.

Yes. Sophie?

The moon is following me.

It is? Why is the moon following you?

Because it loves me.

Why does the moon love you, Sophie?

Because I’m pink.

IMG_3682It happened that when I was finished knitting a shrug for Maddie, that Sophie asked for a sweater for herself. In pink, of course.  It just so happened that I had just the right amount of yarn in just the right color in my stash, purchased from a thrift store not too long ago.

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I’m still very much a beginning knitter, but the tiny tea leaves pattern caught my eye. I had a little trouble figuring out the pattern early on, which I’m sure has much more to do with my pattern reading skills than the pattern itself.  I realized after I was finishing the third decorative section that my first one was, well, facing the wrong side. I didn’t really feel like starting over (again) so I just went with it. I prefer to call it a variation, not a mistake.

IMG_3678(my ravelry page link) I ended up having to reknit the edges 3 or 4 times as I just couldn’t quite get the picking up of stitches and then the buttonholes done correctly. (Note: it is very important to pick up the same number of stitches on the left side as the right. Picking up 38 stitches on one side and then 64 on the other makes for a sweater closure that doesn’t line up. )  The neck seems a little big, but I think it might be my knitting skills or the yarn that makes it that way. I’ll have to try the pattern again to see.

IMG_3680I used some buttons that I’ve had in my stash for a very long time. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I clipped them from an outfit that my oldest daughter wore when she was about 2 or 3. I think that makes them officially vintage buttons.

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Sophie is very happy with her sweater.  And so is the moon. Because, I’m told, the moon loves pink.