Category Archives: Around the Cottage

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.


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. 

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.

How Much Wood?

We’ve been running a bit behind schedule this past season or so. Preparing for winter is one of those things that absolutely must be done. We can, of course, survive without firewood. But, oh, how expensive oil heat is! So the wood needs to be brought in.

IMG_3636I was, I admit, a bit concerned that we didn’t have any firewood prepared at this very late date, but my husband reassured me that he’d be able to get it done in time. The trees were already down and were just waiting for him to have the time to cut them into length.

I can’t tell you what a welcome sight this was for me. Our Maine winters can be very cold and very long. A well stocked wood shed is as much comfort as a well stocked pantry.  He was going to try to get some more cut into stove length, but an ill-timed run in between chainsaw and rock ended that pretty quickly. No worries. I think we’ll have enough.

Very Bunch of Chilly


This weekend our Middles packed up and headed out for a weekend at camp. While it isn’t the first time they’ve been gone, it is the first time they’ve gone to camp. Exciting, yes. But I admit I was a little apprehensive about how they’d fare their first weekend away to an unfamiliar place.IMG_3342-1

Knowing that they were only about an hour away, that they’d really only be away for two nights, and that they’d be together was comforting for this Mama.  Our little home was so very quiet with only three Littles running about, noticed especially at suppertime when we rearranged ourselves around the table to make those empty chairs seem not so empty.  And while the Middles enjoyed their time away, it was so very nice to have all of our usual chairs filled when they returned home.  IMG_3346-4As usual for September, the weather has shifted a bit more. We’re not yet in Autumn, but we’re not in the midst of summer either. The shadows have lengthened, the light has changed, and there’s a different feel to the air lately. The sun rises a little later and sets a little earlier, telling us that these summer days will be ending soon.  Sophie noticed it when she was outside after sunset and ran back inside for a jacket, announcing, “It’s a very bunch of chilly outside.”



We still have so many summer projects that we want to finish, and some that we haven’t even started yet. The change in the weather is working to encourage us to move as quickly as we can through the list and focus on those things that are most important, like firewood. Because, as Sophie said, “It’s a very bunch of chilly”. And we know that a warm fire will be welcomed very soon.

First snow

Last night brought the season’s first snow. The first flakes were falling as I buttoned up our home for the night, and exclamations of delight from the Middles and the Littles greeted us this morning. My husband and I were not quite as thrilled. While we enjoy the beauty and stillness the snowfall brings, we are also very aware of the work that comes with it.


Before my first cup of coffee, all the children were asking to go outside. Unfortunately, even though I knew this snowfall was coming, I hadn’t yet gathered and sorted any of the winter gear. All the coats and snow pants were brought up from the basement, held up, tried on, kept or put aside. Boots were found and tried, hats and gloves were brought out, tested, exchanged and retested. And finally, after much activity, everyone was (mostly) dressed for the morning adventure, even my littlest Nursling, whom I could barely get away from the window to dress he was so excited. He was a little less excited once he was in full gear.


And now they are done, the snow angels have been made, snow man and snow horse have been built, hot chocolate is being sipped (with marshmallows of course). And there is a large pile of wet snow clothes next to the wood stove, waiting for me to hang the line we use to pin hats and gloves, a mat on which to dry the boots, and some invention that I haven’t discovered yet to hang 5,6,7,8,9, 10 wet coats and snow pants in a very small space to dry, and somehow I need to make room for all these wintry things in the coat closet and shoe rack. But the rosy cheeks, sparkly eyes and smiles all around make it very worthwhile.



We’ve been spending a lot of time working on our little cottage. It’s a slow process but we’re making progress a little at a time.

The girls’ room has a fresh coat of paint on the walls and the wood work. And a fresh new (no longer wall to wall carpet) wood (pine because it’s the most affordable) floor. And the new floor also has a fresh coat of paint. White. Because I love the clean crisp feeling. I still need to get a bed and dresser in there. In addition to the three dressers in the garage waiting for my attention, we bought another one this weekend. Which also needs attention. Do you see the pattern? As far as beds go, our ideas have gone from a full bed for the little girls, to hammocks for four, to bunk beds for four, back to a full bed for the little girls. We haven’t moved any furniture back in yet, but here’s an in progress photo for you.


The basement is still being worked on. In addition to a steel door at the base of the bilco doors, a crack has been patched and the first coat of paint has been painted, but only on a small section of the basement. In order to paint, we need to move things around, but there isn’t anywhere for it to go. So it’s a process of move a little, paint a little, move a little more, paint a little more.

The front door has a fresh coat of paint, which looks so much better! The sidelights by the door are framed in plastic, which over the last 14 years or so have aged to a pretty ugly yellow. I found a spray paint for plastic and used frog tape to tape off the windows and sprayed away. What a difference! Can you see how yellow the sidelight trim is?

20121024-090955.jpg. Not any more!

I think that’s all we’ve done for house projects lately. In addition we’ve dealt with pneumonia, UTI’s and asthma. plus the normal homeschooling, potty training, nursing, errands, life. No, sometimes, things don’t look so “Happily Ever After”, but we’re still writing our story.

Of walls, woodwork and doors

I want to apologize for my very long absence. Between the problems I’m having with my laptop, problems with the back up laptop, and posts that were eaten by my iPad, I’m beginning to think we have computer gremlins. I really didn’t want to post without a picture or two, but a photo-less post is better than no post at all.

So, what we’ve been up to. This weekend was project weekend. I stripped wallpaper in the little girls’ room about 10 months ago. Before it was the little girls’ room, actually. But the task of scrubbing wallpaper paste from the walls was daunting, so I kept putting it off. That and the homeschooling, potty training, nursing, cooking, laundering, cleaning, bill paying… Well, let’s just say that scrubbing wallpaper paste from a wall was not exactly a priority. Until this weekend. We’re trying to get the house Winter Ready, and that means for us finishing up some of the half finished projects. Like scrubbing wallpaper paste off the walls. (And can I just say, right here, right now, that I really, really, really dislike wallpaper. Really) once all the glue and gook was gone, the walls were perfect for painting. so paint them I did. But then the woodwork needed to be painted. So by the end of the weekend, the bedroom had a fresh coat of paint on walls and woodwork. I still have some touching up to do, but it looks beautiful! The little girls declared it Very Pretty. Next steps are to add a dresser (I have three of them in the garage waiting for varying amounts of repair work and a fresh coat of paint) and a bed. Hopefully it won’t take me 10 months to get those done.

My husband worked on a project of a much more practical nature. Our basement has bilco doors. Even packed with insulation, in the winter the cold air comes pouring through those doors and makes the basement rather chilly. We’re trying to claim as much living space as we possibly can in our little cottage. Having the basement above 50 degrees would make it a very nice space for the kids to play. So my amazing husband framed out and installed an exterior door at the base of the bilco doors. And the added bonus is that it looks very nice. I had hoped to show you before, during and after photos of his project but a picture of a door is pretty boring. Maybe after we’re all done with the basement work I can share a photo or two.

We’ve been doing so much more than just house projects, but I Think this is enough for one post. 🙂

A Breath of Fresh Air

I’m back!!! I’ve missed posting. We’ve had computer issues that kept me away. They aren’t completely resolved, but at least I can get a post up every now and then.

My morning did not start off very well. My littlest Little has been keeping me awake more than he’s letting me sleep, which makes for a very tired Mama! Add that to three little ones who were abnormally demanding of time, attention and discipline redirection, and you don’t have a good morning mix. So, after catching up on folding gargantuan piles of laundry, I poured a cup of coffee and banished the lot of us to the great outdoors.

A breath of fresh air is good for the soul.

We started our journey in the flower beds, then wandered down to the vegetable garden, which led us to a walk in the trees, which led us to a path, which led us to an adventure.

So many butterflies, honey bees, and hummingbirds visit our flower gardens. We don’t spend enough time just watching them.

But when we do, time moves differently.

Sitting in the garden, my breathing changes.

My heart beats slower and more steadily.

My eyes focus differently.

My children breath deeper.

They ask questions about what we see.

They become more creative.

Even garden pests, these tomato hornworms, oh-how-I-loathe-them, give us time to pause and reflect.

Well, time to pause and collect.

They are so very destructive to a tomato plant, but if you stop and listen, you can actually hear them chomping away. Into a jar they go!

We think we collected 50 of them! When the jar was full, the rest were pulled off and promptly destroyed. One was kept to be fed and watched as it changes and grows. The rest – all 50 of them – were disposed of in ways that only 11 and 13 year olds can dream up.

The forest beckoned. And we were happy to oblige.

A walk down a path, and the little girls went on an adventure of their own – wandering around trees, singing songs, but always keeping an eye on me. I suppose they were concerned I might get lost.

The littlest Little demanded to be put Down. As soon as his little body touched the forest floor he went exploring. Sticks, rocks, moss and dirt, all were game for his little hands, and some were considered suitable, by him, for his mouth.

We discovered a tree, covered in moss, with a little doorway at its base. The Middles asked what I thought it was for. Why fairies, of course! Do I believe in them? they asked. Why yes, yes I do.  So Zach built a little overhang for the fairy door. Just to help keep them out of the rain.

And if you look very closely, and stand very quietly, you might see one.

There! Right there! Did you see it? Oh, you must have blinked. Try a little harder next time.

And that was how we turned a Very Bad Morning into a Very Good Day. I hope your day was just as magical. I’d love to hear about it.