Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

it's starting to feel a lot like christmas

This is from last year because I haven't had the camera out for a few days. We have had our first snows, but amazingly enough none is on the ground. We had a little Solstice gathering last night, and Granny and Grampy are arriving today. The kids are crafting up a storm and wrapping gifts. I'm wondering what time they are going to bed tonight so I can get out my sewing machine for a few last minute spur of the moments.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


The tree is up, and Christmas lights sparkle above every bed. Littles are making presents with paper and feathers and glue, and there is much cleaning up of little messes. We cut a basket of greenery to decorate the house this afternoon. Ella plays Joy to the World on her violin, and they are all singing along to the carol station on the car radio as we drive to school.

Twenty eight candles were lit in church on Sunday, and I am thankful that they have no idea why.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

earth maiden

I've been wanting a shawl or poncho for a while and have collected a few patterns, but when a friend said that she would knit it for me I was amazed. She said she has knit herself and all of her family everything they could possibly need and more. This mossy alpaca merino blend is about to become the Earth Maiden. It is a big rectangle and and i-cord that can be worn as a poncho or a shawl. To me this yarn looks like lichen on stones or seaweed. It is Cascade Yarns Lana D'Oro in Olive Oil.

Monday, December 10, 2012

winter nests

The paperwhites are in full bloom, and I've been enjoying them so much that I might just have to start another batch of them. I think my mantle is very Christmasy with the red candles and green stems, but the kids want more decorations.  These are some of the bird's nests we have collected, and I've placed many of then in my great grandmother's crystal glasses, bowls, and pedestals.

 We are getting a wood stove in here by the end of the month. The house has one chimney in our bedroom that was designed for coal and other in Ruby's room that is no longer usable. There used to be a large brick chimney on this side of the house, but it was removed when the house was renovated. We are looking for an alternate heat and cooking source when the power goes out during snowstorms, so we are putting in an old Vermont Castings stove that was in my grandparent's house. Come toast your toes next month.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

we cut down a tree

Ruby did some singing and dancing for the trees. We found a tree, our tallest ever, and enjoyed a riding to the fields behind horses with jingle bells.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

moustache and sarcophagus

Four days into December, and I need to get the advent stockings hung ad the candleholders washed.  I think we can get a tree this weekend and dive fully into the season. My friend Donna took beautiful pictures of the children, and I've been dying to post some, but the cards are being printed for mailing. I think I can safely show a hilarious one. Ella is making a moustache, and Ruby is pretending she is in a sarcophagus. That is just what a child needs to be thinking about while being photographed, right? I do love that my littles can be inspired by anything at anytime.

Ella has been doing more homework than ever before. She has had a three hour night, many two hour nights, and last night's epic five hour attempt to finish her essay for history night. Tonight she has to finish her display board for the event and work on her props.  Just to keep things wild, John has been "star of the week" in his classroom and has needed extra help getting his presentations ready. I'm ready for Friday already.

Come friday, it is all peace and simplicity from here on. We need candles and twinkling lights, ginger cookies, and Christmas Trolls.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

oranges and reds

I noticed all the orange color in the kitchen last week and wanted to take a picture. I didn't even realize until later that there was a small runner coming through the kitchen. That is kind of the way it has been lately. That little hand often grabs an apple or persimmon.
Thanksgiving came and went, quite deliciously I must say. Here is my mother out in my brother's yard. He gets up at three am and smokes the turkey for twelve hours or so. Pair that with more side dishes than will fit on the table and a spice cake with caramel icing and you have quite a delicious dinner.

We are back to school this week, and Ella is working on two or three big projects at once. Christmas looms, and I'm trying to meet it with a sense of peace. We are trying to get a chimney added to our house and a woodstove installed before the first snowstorm. This photograph is of some seed pods we found while my friend Donna was taking some gorgeous pictures of the children at the Horticulture Garden. Is it a weed or a Truffula tree?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I walked to my neighbors house early in the morning a few days ago because she has a hummingbird still feeding at her feeder, and someone from the Maryland Banding Lab was coming over to identify and band it.  When I arrived he had the bird in a piece of stocking in the living room and was weighing and measuring it.  It weighed 3.3 grams. A penny is 2.5 grams. It is a female Rufous Hummingbird. She could hang around until January before she makes a dash for Mexico.


Last night we went out to see Lincoln, and when we pulled into our driveway a large bird flew right in front of us. We paused and it landed in the maple tree in our yard. It was a light colored owl. We watched it for a moment and then, afraid that we would scare the babysitter, pulled closer. It sat for a minute and then flew. We looked it up in the bird book, and it was a barred owl, often called a hoot owl.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


She is a voracious reader and crafter, but drops everything on the floor the moment she is finished with it. Right now she is watching cartoons with her baby sister on her lap. She likes archery and chickens and just finished an eight week life skills class at the Unitarian Church. She would be a vegetarian if bacon wasn't so delicious. She wants to save the world. She is learning to make injera and wat for a school project. She is teaching herself to draw manga characters. She wonders when I will let her color her hair purple. She is going to be Georgia O'Keefe for history night.

Today she was reading two books, Bud, Not Buddy and The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis and was astounded to find the exact moment the two books intersected.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Thursday, November 01, 2012


My kombucha is probably struggling with the low temperatures in my kitchen this week, but I'm excited to be trying something new. After my big success with sauerkraut, I thought I'd continue my latest obsession with fermentation. It isn't really fermenting, but a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, hence SCOBY.  I like kombucha brews, so we'll see how this one tastes in a few days.


Next year we have to make our Halloween costumes early. I was racing the Hurricane and Appalachian Power to sew up a little yoda hat for John and a werewolf costume for Ella. Luckily, this little butterfly was easy to put together and made her oh so happy. Our power was out for about twenty four hours, and the kids carved pumpkins in their snowsuits in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


first eggs

hatched on May 7

pumpkin gathering

The family spent the afternoon at the pumpkin patch. yesterday afternoon gathering huge pumpkins, riding the goat cart, riding horses, shooting a pumpkin slingshot, and petting animals. Many friends were there, and we spent the whole afternoon. Next year I'm bringing a picnic because the kids spent a lot of time begging for food and treats. I need a soup thermos big enough for all of us. Ruby and John both rode a horse for the first time, and I think that Ruby hugged the goat twenty times. The leaves and the landscape were gorgeous. Back in our warm house, I needed to keep Ruby occupied while the two Johns went out to mow grass. I let her stand on a wooden stool and make the gravy for dinner. She was excited by all the new things she tried in one day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I'm going to spend more time in my favorite places this year, and my own back porch is very high on my list.

shakori hills

We went on our last camping trip of the season at the Shakori Hills festival in Pittsboro North Carolina. It is my favorite festival of the year, and we bid farewell to warm weather with a veritable four day hootenanny. We feel asleep to sing-alongs and woke up to fiddle tunes in the middle of a country meadow. We came home dirty and exhausted and ready to do it all again next year.


Someone turned eleven this week.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Rabbit and Robot

I took all three kids to the Rabbit and Robot Book Launch Party on Sunday.  The amazing and lovely Cece Bell had come to John's class last year to read some of this book while it was a work in progress.

Getting ready for the book party required a trip out for silver spray paint, the destruction of a pair of leggings, the raiding of a box stash, much duck tape, the sewing of a coonskin cap onto a small pair of pants,  and the use of several Magic Erasers.

John covered his bike helmet in foil, old cans, a whisk, and a spatula. Then he taped a candy thermometer to the front and donned a box covered in foil. Oops. He wouldn't fit in his carseat. The costume had to come off and go in the truck.

Rabbit and Robot. Cece Bell. Pure sweetness.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

what I've been doing at night

She is going to be auctioned off tomorrow night to benefit the kid's school.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


The cosmos and sunflowers are above our heads, and the goldfinches are eating sunflower seeds all day. Soon, this will be the chicken's daytime run until spring. We have a few watermelons left to eat and a few more pints of pesto to make.  The hyacinth beans have met at the the top of the gate.

We had our first scattered frost night before last.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


We went to the farmer's market today on a family outing, and then this afternoon the children went out to "harvest" tomatoes, basil, sunflower heads, onions, and all of my zinnias.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

things I love

John and I camped at a music festival in Pinnacle, North Carolina this weekend. Just the two of us. We sat in chairs for whole sets. We saw all the music we wanted to see. We drank cups of coffee to the bottom and held hands. I loved the workshop sets, Del McCourey, Keller Williams, and the Yonder Mountain String Band. I liked Patterson Hood from the Drive By Truckers. Our next and last festival of the season, Shakori Hills, is in two weeks, and we are hoping to sneak in a fall trip to Grayson Highland's State Park for the wild ponies and amazing vistas on the Appalachian trail at it's highest point in Virginia.

Now back at home we've had rain and cooler weather is setting in.  I made delicious Concord grape jam a few days ago, and we may never buy jam again. I want to pick raspberries on Sunday, and I have a big bowl of apples ready to make applesauce.  Last night I made my first fall inspired pot of soup with potatoes, carrots, porcini mushrooms, and cabbage.

I met the truck from Countryside out by the highway yesterday to pick up a hundred pounds of organic chicken feed. No one in town sells organic feed, but I met a group of people dedicated to feeding their chickens wholesome unprocessed food.  It truly is "chicken granola".

I just discovered Whole Larder Love.  For the first time in my life I thought I might want to hunt something, chop down some trees, and build a smokehouse. Or maybe go fishing.

Eight years ago we were living in Portland, Oregon and spending much of our meager paychecks at the Portland Farmer's Market. We could see it from our apartment. There we found Ken's Artisan Bakery, and from the farmer's market we followed him up to his bakery/ restaurant in northwest Portland.  Last night I went to bed at eight o'clock with the kids, but my mother called to say that she was ordering me a copy of Ken Forkish's new book Flour Water Salt Yeast.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

lake's chickens

This is Lake Long Smith, and I would guess this is from the fifties. That is our back porch, the original front of the first house. I love that there was a chicken picture. The family also had horses, pigs, cows, and horses, and there was a working blacksmith shop on the property. Lake kept a large garden and the family had an orchard. It was said that she fed her own family as well as "all the poor people in the the county".

other voices

We heard a lot of stories when we moved into this house, and now I have some pictures to go along with the stories. The original house last built in 1876, and before that the family lived in a cabin out near the big catalpa tree in the backyard. The original farm was eighty acres.

Last Easter Sunday a man knocked on our door and told us that he had grown up in this house. He was a foster child taken in to work on the farm. His mother was unmarried, and social services placed him with the family in this house. He spoke highly of them and was happy that they helped him maintain a relationship with his mother. He recently bought a neighboring house, and his birth mother will celebrate her seventy fifth birthday there.

The top picture shows our neighborhood without the modern road. In the middle is Lake Long Smith as an older woman. The middle right is from our front porch.  The bottom photo is from the sixties and shows the farm outbuildings that are now gone.

Below is a picture of Lake Long Smith, her father in law, and Lake's daughter Norma. I think this picture is from about 1935. Our house was built by the older gentleman. Many people have told us about Lake Long. She was born on a farm on Brooksfield Road about a mile away. Norma, the young girl, was well known by many of our neighbors. She sold the farm and died in February 2007 at the age of 81.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


This was really the only way to cool down this weekend.


three days in a creek

We spent the weekend camping down in Catawba with friends, kids, coffee, delicious food, and crackling thunderstorms.