Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Two Minute Walk Around this Morning

Finds ~

Mike just returning from down the road, to add even more compost to spread over new garden areas.

Our paper wasp nest now with a background of reds.

Some more autumn hues around back....

Goldenrod against the "to-be-split" wood pile....

Thomas playing his key board while enjoying the unusually warm autumn morning air.

Thank you for sharing all the potato ideas yesterday - lots of fun!

Warm wishes, Tonya

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Our homesteading neighbors offered us their still to be harvested, three rows of surplus potatoes for just 
Michael (dear husband) went over with the little ones and dug them all up, brought them home, and lay them out on our porch to dry out for two days.  I am now picking through them, sorting them out - keepers to be stored in our basement in boxes and feedbags, a basket for us to keep in our pantry, and a box of small ones to save for seed potatoes for next spring. 

We harvested about 30 pounds of potatoes ourselves this year from our own small garden area.  We have been busy increasing our garden over the past two months and we hope to harvest close to 100 pounds next year from our own land.

However, we are so grateful for the well over 100 pounds from our neighbors and I am hopeful that they will keep well in our basement which should stay about 40 degrees all winter.

So far I have been making mashed potatoes and oven baked potatoes.  The children all love the oven baked.  I peel, cut into chunks and then mix in a large bowl with olive oil and spices and then bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.

What are your favorite potato recipes?

Warm wishes, Tonya

Monday, September 27, 2010

Handmade Holiday

A great post from Honor Crowned Crafts regarding her search for the "perfect" knitting pattern and her decision to make a shoulderette.

From  A Little Crafty Nest comes the idea of a knit headband. A quick gift to make that is very practical.

Here are some links to patterns I have shared on this blog in the past -

A Knitting pattern for little gnomes (so simple - a wonderful little stocking stuffer)

Happy Autumn everyone!  Can you believe October 1st is this Friday already?  The season for cozying up inside is nearly here!  Pefect for handwork projects.

Please keep sharing your ideas and thoughts and let me know if you would like to be added to the
 Handmade Holiday page.
Warm wishes,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Family Learning is Fun

It was with much joy  that I observed our five oldest children sitting around the table together writing limericks.

They were inspired by Isaac's language lesson for the day which asked him to make up some of his own limericks.  They all joined him on their own and each wrote several.  Sarah just observed and listened and laughed as some of them became sillier and sillier with each recitation (you know, farts and so on).  There would be about 20 minutes of near silence as each of the four would create their next poem and then they took turns sharing.  Each created about four original limericks.

I thought I would share a few.
From Thomas - age 16
There once was an old man from York
Who went to the pond to catch a stork.
No bird did he find there
Instead a great black bear
Which ate the old man with a fork.

From Isaac - age 12
I saw a bird in a tree
I looked at it and it looked back at me.
I started to say,
"What a beautiful day!"
When it started to fly to the sea.

From Abby - age 10
I want to be in the cast
But the play was real fast.
It was pretty boring
when it was time for showing,
but overall the show was a blast.

(The language homeschool books we use for the elementary years  is the Language Lessons series by Sandi Queen which has a Charlotte Mason flavor.)

Warm wishes,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumn Issue Is Printed

The Autumn Issue of Plain and Joyful Issue is copied and we are folding, punching holes and stringing each with a wool yarn tie and mailing will begin tomorrow.

This issue includes two letters from readers sharing their journeys, a first time in print children's story about a chicken, an article about making your own home cleaners, a butternut squash recipe, and another project in the hope chest series.

Information about subscribing or requesting a sample issue can be found here.  All new subscribers receive a handmade little something with their first issue.

Many thanks for all of the support and kind words.  It is something that I feel God has put on my heart and each issue is truly a joy to put together.

Warm wishes, Tonya 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tree Forts and Friends

Abby and Isaac who really are truly the best of friends, our 10 and 12 olds respectively, have built themselves a tree fort. 

They even have a pulley with a basket to summon their little sister when they need a snack.   I love looking out the window from the kitchen seeing them together, often working on their academic work.   Now to just keep encouraging them to build some short side rails......

Warm wishes, Tonya

Also, Two Little Seeds if having a giveaway for two of my knit gnomes. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Handmade Holiday

This is really fun and inspiring to see what everyone is making for their holiday gifts.

Here are more from those joining in ~

Valarie from A Place Like This shares a little of her plans and her first project.

A planning and idea list  from Kris of The Chaotic Crafter.

Lots of knitting projects from Blue Skies and Dragonflies.

Rachel from At the Butterfly Ball shares her progress with her Waldorf doll and some wooden figures she has been making.

A gift for children to make ~

from Sippy Cup Central, using your scrap paper, children can make their own paper - it could be shaped inside a cookie cutter to become an ornament or to embellish a card

I came across this blog and thought that making pillowcases might be a great gift for boys and teenage boys.

Leave a comment to share and if you wanted to be added to the list here.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Rustic Reality

When our family made the decision to move to Vermont from Massachusetts five years ago almost to the date, we knew what our goals were, however, we did not know exactly what steps would make up the process.

First we rented a home in a little village in northern Vermont, then we bought an old mobile home and put it on leased land and lived there, off grid, for over two years.  During this time, I prayed often, that God would know our needs and that we would be able to find a way to provide for our family.  After Abraham was born while we lived there, we were truly bursting at the seams space-wise.  However, one of our goals has been to have home based business and to work toward self-sufficiency and farming.  Earning a large income was not likely with this plan nor was it a goal of ours (it is not today either).

Just one mile down the road from the mobile home we found our home just a little over a year ago.  A place large enough for our growing family, private, enough land to grow food and have chickens and goats, and perhaps a couple of sheep.  The rustic cottage, however, had been neglected and on it was one very run down barn.  We were blessed to have all of this while staying within our budget for housing.

Well, this house is not fit for the pages of Country Living to say the least.  However, we are working hard each day to make improvements.

Because the basement was excavated last summer, we have mounds of soil here and there.  We are using shovels (yes shovels) to spread the soil in certain areas to help with drainage, make visible areas more attractive, and to make pasture for the goats (coming soon, I hope).

I just wanted to share a little of the reality that is our homestead.

front of the barn

The side of the barn.
The chickens are in the back part here now but we will be moving them to a free standing coop to make room for two goats.

I have been shoveling soil down from this nearby mound into this area, filling it in and then we will grade it away from the barn.  The shoveling has been so wonderful for my body and soul.
The boys working together.

Sarah tending her flower store on top of a mound.

Warm wishes for a beautiful weekend,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pumpkin Painting :: A Simple Children's Craft

This is a simple natural painting activity for you to do with your children to add a touch of autumn splendor to your home.

We each started with a blank birch branch slice.

Using Lyra watercolor paints (these are just wonderful!), we each got to work.

Depending on your child's age and skill, you could drill a hole in the top and then carve the end of a branch to fit in the hole snugly.  Cut off top of branch to length of pumpkin stem you desire.

Each one was made by a different age level, in case you couldn't tell:)  We allow for creative expression through art.  I added a piece of wool roving to my pumpkin's branch stem.

We put our pumpkins on our seasonal shelf.

Warm wishes, Tonya

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

As autumn approaches....

...we begin to use the heat from the woodstove instead of the warmth from the outside air.

How is the transition from summer to autumn changing your routines?  (or winter to spring for our friends in the southern hemisphere)

Warm wishes, Tonya

Monday, September 13, 2010

Handmade Holiday - 2010

Some wonderful ideas to share today ~

a sewn felt savings pouch from Heather at Shivaya Naturals ~

a knit bird pattern from Katie at  Duo FiberWorks ~

a gaiter from Angela at Peach Coglo ~

 a beautiful embroidered "quilt on a clothesline" pillowcase from Honor Crowned Crafts
and a bit about why a handmade holiday

Thank you to all for sharing.  I look forward to continued sharing and learning.  Please if I have a typo on the  Handmade Holiday page or if you would like to join in, please just let me know in the comments.

Many warm wishes on this beautiful Monday morning,

Friday, September 10, 2010

~ This Moment ~

joining in with Soulemama 
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More on Food

"If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as the souls of those who live under tyranny."

~Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Morning Joys

As I went about my morning work yesterday, I snapped some photos.

As the bread was rising, I stepped outside to gather some lettuce.

While picking the lettuce in the quiet of the morning, I could hear the buzzing above my head of the busy paper wasps flying around their beautiful nest just above my head.

Upon heading back inside, I spotted a couple of chickens just inside the front door that I had to shoo back outside.  I headed in to finish the morning baking, wash the lettuce that would go with our supper, and help the little ones with breakfast.           I reflected on the fact that so much of my energy each day is devoted to growing and preparing food for my family.   What an honorable job, though, as food is truly so very important.  Eating healthy and respecting our earth by growing as much as we can and then buying local and then finally to make as much as possible from scratch - those are our goals.      A blog that is particularly inspiring is Farmama.  She preserves so much food for her family from her farm so that her family can eat much of their own food the year round.  That is our goal. To accomplish this though, we take steps and make new goals each year. The old goals truly do become habit.  For example, baking two loaves of bread each morning is just part of my morning.

Warm wishes for a joy filled day,

(Thank you so much for all that are joining in on the Handmade Holiday - this is lots of fun and so wonderful to be creating for those we love.)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Handmade Holiday - 2010

Rachel from At the Butterfly Ball is working on a waldorf doll for her little girl.

Some wonderful embroidery ideas from Maureen at Twig and Toadstool.

From Sippy Cup Central this crocheted Baby Doll Tiara.

Finally,  I would like to share a wonderful site that I am sure many of you are already familiar with - 
Wee Folk Art.  It is just filled with ideas, inspiration and patterns.  

And remember to keep using your Handmade Holiday journal.  When I see an idea and I know just the perfect person to make it for, I grab my journal and either make a sketch, write a description and /or leave a blog address under that person's page.   It just helps so much to free your mind and to not get overwhelmed with all the terrific ideas.

Again, please feel free to grab the Handmade Holiday button and add it to your blog.  And if you would like to be included on the Handmade  Holiday page, just let me know in the comments. 

I need to make a small goal for this week as I let last week pass without working on a Christmas gift.  My small goal is to finish two playing card holders

Do you have a goal for this week or do you have a work in progress?

Warm wishes, Tonya

Friday, September 3, 2010

Gardens, Raspberries, Compost and Sunflowers

Lots and lots of tomatoes to pick each day.  We have mostly the smaller sun gold variety and then a slightly larger tomato that turns a beautiful bright shade of red.   Abraham came to me last evening requesting "one, two baskets for me and Sarah" and they returned in with baskets full.

Piling compost in new garden areas.

We discovered that we have fall raspberries!  Last autumn Mike brush hogged an area on the other side of the pond.  While talking with some  homesteaders at the library yesterday I learned that cutting fall raspberries down to ground level is what you are supposed to do after the first hard frost.  Yeah!  We inadvertently did this last fall and are reaping the benefits this season!

Our butternut squash is growing so large thanks to this unusually hot weather we are  having here in northern Vermont.

Sunflowers from our garden on a embroidered circle, one of the beautiful items I received from Maribeth for the
Vintage Swap.

Warm wishes for a beautiful weekend,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Creative Outdoor Play

This little outdoor play area has seen so many playtime meals and the "mother" and "father" busily at work cooking up stews and cakes.
We placed them under some maple trees in a little corner set apart near one of our gardens.

We used a large log piece for the table and 4 smaller logs for the chairs. 

One day I heard Sarah call out to Abraham, "Husband, go fetch me more water." 
She later told me that her husband is a hardworking man. 

Such sweet memories.

Be sure to check out the just released today, Autumn Issue of Rhythm of the Home - it is free and filled with beautiful inspiration.

Warm wishes, Tonya