Category Archives: homing

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


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. 🙂

Restorative Roasted Garlic Soup

The family has been fighting a bit of a cold – the first of the season for us.

Wouldn’t it be very nice if it were also the last cold of the season?  

So, for dinner I wanted to make something warm and healthy. Restorative Roasted Garlic Soup is exactly what we needed. I used this recipe, given to me by a dear friend and wonderful cook. She made a few changes to the recipe, and I only changed the broth base from vegetable broth to chicken because that’s what was in my freezer. So the modified recipe is:

3 heads of roasted garlic ( i used 2 large heads)
8 cups of broth (I used chicken, but vegetable is very good)

1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice from 1 or 2 limes added at the end
and then served up with slices of avocado and toasted corn tortilla strips – because that’s what I had

But just soup didn’t look quite substantial enough for tonight. So I added some meatballs (I love this recipe!) that I had in the freezer to enjoy along with some Butternut Squash Fries.  My house smells very fall-ish.

And, I even had a chance to sort through the little girls’ clothes and switch out warm weather wear for cool weather wear this afternoon. I’m feeling quite smug with my accomplishments for the day.

Christmas Tree Recycling

Mulching our Christmas tree is so “old-school” recycling. We have a new method. 
Meet one of our methods. 

Yes, we fed our tree to our goats. It makes a great treat for them. They’re happy. We’re happy. And it keeps one more tree out of the landfill.

And for our entertainment, they dance, too.

Thankful for the Oxen

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.

Proverbs 14:4

 This verse was going through my mind as I was cleaning my house today.  I used to clean model homes part time. You know, those showcase homes that builders build for people to walk through and actually believe that they too could live like that if they bought that model from the builder.  I learned something very important when I was cleaning those houses – no one really lives like that!  We used to clean them twice a week, at night when everyone was gone. We WERE the cleaning fairies. And let me tell you, those houses could get dirty. And no one lived there. (Get it? There were no oxen, and we STILL needed to clean the “trough”.) So it is impossible and completely unrealistic to try to maintain the home you live in to look like a model house.  Be thankful for the oxen – your husband, your children, your pets. Because they are blessings.  And keep that in mind when you’re cleaning the trough.

To: 3,067,591,189

Our family has squeezers, shakers, peekers, lifters and shufflers. So to try to keep the contents of Christmas gifts a secret until the big reveal, I don’t put who each gift is for on the package. In previous years, I write the name on the bottom of the wrapped gift in small letters. Usually I can see it, but everyone else has trouble finding it. But my children have all caught on and know to look for names or initials and then they proceed to shake, squeeze, lift, shuffle or peek. So I tried something different this year. I used numbers.

As I wrapped gifts in my bedroom, I’d place the just finished wrapped gifts with a gift tag that said something like, “To: 5, From: Papa and Mama”. Then the middles would retrieve the gift and place it under the tree. Except that they had no idea what number they were. It definitely helped build up the anticipation and fun. My children all got me back though. I was given the above gift. 3,067,591,189. That’s me. And they sent me on treasure hunt throughout the house and even outside (in the cold, in my robe!) to find my gift.  They definitely had the last say. But I’ll do it again next year.

Making Wise Decisions

As the Keeper of my Home, one of my main responsibilities is to keep my family safe. I seem to be getting bombarded with information lately that is telling me I need to be more diligent at this. Take for example MSG in tomato sauce, mechanically separated chicken in my soup, and now the ingredients in my dish soap. I use Palmolive because I seem to be able to use less of it than other brands. Now I need to look for an alternative or find a way to make my own. Want to know what’s in Palmolive? Check here.

Is anyone else as frustrated as I am at how many unsafe products are being sold to us?

Front Garden Visitors

There were six of these little visitors to my front garden enjoying the seeds. I haven’t had a chance to go out and gather any to save for ourselves, but our feathered friends are enjoying my lack of time. I did have a chance to snap a couple of pictures of them though.

Okay, you have to look VERY closely, but there are birds sitting on top of the seed heads. I think they’re goldfinches, and I wish I could have gotten better pictures, but I can’t justify the purchase of a telephoto lens to my husband with, “Just think of all the cool bird pictures I could take!” Nope. I don’t think he’d buy it. No pun intended.