Author Archives: Tanya @ Ever After Cottage

Still blogging

I’m still blogging, but not at this site.  Come find me at, pour yourself a cup of tea (or coffee), and catch up on what we’ve been doing.



My son, Josh, gave me an online art class for Christmas. It just started on Monday. Step one was to copy a portrait (the instructor supplied one). Step two was to shade/color using charcoal. 
Now, my children will attest that my drawing skills are pretty basic. And I’ve never ever used charcoal in my life. It is messy stuff! But this is what I did today. 

For most of my life I lived with the mantra, “I am not a creative person”. I believed that I wasn’t creative because I can’t draw what I see in my head. I believed that I wasn’t a creative person because my writing skills aren’t publishable material. I believed I wasn’t a creative person because I couldn’t draft a sewing or knitting pattern to make something I imagine. 

But all that is a lie. I AM a creative person. I always have been. I can look at problems and find options that others often miss. I can make a nutritious meal out of the remnants of our pantry when the budget is tight. I can find joy when things look bleak. So I have always been creative, I just didn’t recognize it. 

Sometimes not knowing how to do something is such a huge roadblock, and it’s really easy to turn not having knowledge into “I can’t”. A few years ago I decided to start learning how to do the things I want to learn. This week I’m conquering portraits and watercolors by taking the Radiant Watercolor Portrait class on Jeanne Oliver’s creative network. (Check it out! She has several free videos, and the classes are completely flexible.)

I have a lot to learn, but, you guys! I drew that! And it looks like a human person!

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.
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


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


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?


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.  


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.