Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Another new addition!

No, no, we aren't pregnant, so don't let that thought even cross your mind.  

I have wanted a cold frame for quite some time.  It is the logical next step on the gardening journey for me. A greenhouse would be wonderful, but the man is extremely hung up on aesthetics.  Beautiful greenhouses exist, but are not something we have the budget for at this time.  A low tunnel would be more than sufficient, but again, not aesthetically pleasing.

It was on the list last year.  You know, "the list" that is ever growing, always being shuffled as time passes and some things become a bigger priority, as money comes available (or not).  Somehow, the cold frame got shuffled to the bottom of the list.  It was looking like it was going to get shuffled again this year, but then I went on Craigslist.  Oh, how I love Craigslist!  I found a lovely 9'X4' cold frame and bought it!  We don't have to design plans around the windows we have, Brandon doesn't need to spend a weekend building it.  It is sitting in the back yard waiting for me to dig out the bed (half done as of last night).
It needs 2 of the plexiglass windows replaced... easy peasy!
Cold frame will go here next to the garden.

 I can't wait to get my spinach and lettuce moved in!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Introducing a New Roo

I am proud to introduce you to Roofus.  He is a 2 year old Blue Wheaten Ameracauna.

We got him 2 weeks ago from a neighbor who was thinning their flock.  He is a a handsome devil and he has fit right in with our girls.  I don't know why I am amazed when animals do what they are supposed to do, but it gets me every time!  It really was amazing to watch him assert himself in the flock,  quickly establish himself as the dominant chicken and begin caring for the hens.  He calls them over to feed when he finds good grub, he stands watch and keeps the hens together.  I love him! <3

Such a showoff!

Henri popping in to say hello! 

On a sad note, we have been faced with a tough decision.  One of our hens (Buttercup) has attacked the kids several times.  She began attacking me and after several weeks of trying to rehabilitate her, things were getting worse.  Theo has started to be afraid of all of the chickens and the kids won't play outside without me right next to them!

We decided to try to re-home her.  If we could find a suitable home for her, we wouldn't have to cull her (while we like chicken soup, Buttercup soup may not go over well).  My neighbor (the one who gave us Roofus) offered to take her!  So, she will be close enough to visit and far enough to not be a threat.  Eden shed some tears, but she will be glad to not have to watch her back when she goes out to play.

Bye bye Buttercup.
Also, today is Eden's 5th birthday!  We had a party for her last night.  My beautiful big girl.

Please ignore the frosting hack-job... I told you I'm not a food blogger!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Food Blogger I Am Not

Those of you who read on a regular basis know that I don't often blog about my skills in the kitchen.  Not that I don't have any.  I am competent.  I am a from-scratch, simple-food kind of gal, but so many do the food blog thing so well that I rarely step foot into that arena.  Some of the amazing food bloggers I read are Nourished Kitchen, 100 Days of Real Food, The Healthy Home Economist, Whole. New. Mom., Smitten Kitchen, and The Pioneer Woman.

I have been trying, however to overcome my disorganization in the kitchen.  Difficult when your kitchen is still unfinished and this is what your "cabinets" look like.

We are hoping that our cabinet situation will be remedied before Christmas.  The cabinet maker says "Maybe."

Anyway, I have tried without success to get better at the kitchen organizing.  This week I attempted the impossible and cooked ahead for the week.  I am also processing apples from our homeschool field trip to Johnson's Orchard in Bedford, VA.  So, from the work yesterday, I ended up with 2 chicken pot pies (one for now, one to feed the freezer), 2 quarts of chicken stock, 2.5 quarts of venison lentil stew, 1 quart of lentil spread (think hummus), 1 apple pie, 3 quarts of apple butter and 3 quarts of apple sauce.

I still have a half a bushel of apples to process, but can I just say I am an apple butter ninja!  I did it in the crock pot.  I am not usually a fan of apple butter, but wow, this stuff is amazing!  Can't wait to have shelves full of home canned yumminess!

Just because I don't think I can handle another blog post in the next day, here are a couple of pictures from our day of apple picking.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Theo's Mint Chocolate Chip Sweater

I am very proud to say that I have completed my first human-sized sweater as a knitter!

I am usually really hard on myself when it comes to handcrafted items, but in spite of many mistakes (that I can see, but you probably can't) I am in LOVE!  This is the cutest sweater EVER and on Theo... oh my word.  I can't stand it!

Not the greatest shot, but catching him still is almost impossible.  I take what I can get!
It reminds me of mint chocolate chip ice cream.  That may be why I love it so much.  Theo loves the pocket and practically refuses to take it off.  Of course this makes me love him more! <3

Finished sweater!  

I got the pattern from the book The Yarn Girl's Guide to Knits for Older Kids.  I used Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool  yarn in Nature's Brown for the body.  For the pocket and stripes on the hood I used Bamboospun yarn in Limey.

I am participating in Just Something I Whipped Up over at The Girl Creative and the Sew Darn Crafty party at Sew Many Ways today.

The Girl Creative

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Crafty, knitty homeschooling goodness!

Boy have I been a slacker in the blog department lately.  I would love to offer good excuses, but the truth is we have just been living life!

We have been homeschooling along, loving it most days, cutting out early on the other days, and learning a lot.  Eden has been memorizing Bible verses and poetry, learning more about phonics, getting better at reading.  She journals each week and this has become my favorite thing.  Look at these precious entries!  She draws the picture and dictates the story to me.

Journaling is not Eden's favorite.  I have discovered that she has some pretty extreme perfectionist tendencies.  She has a hard time drawing a picture that she thinks isn't perfect. We are working on tenacity.  If the perfectionist in her gets frustrated, she wants to give up.  As you can see, though, she draws pretty well for a four year old!  I have challenged her to draw her picture on the chalkboard before she draws it in her journal.  This seems to help her think it all through.

We have been having lots of crafty fun in school.  We made salt dough a couple of weeks ago and made some really cute pumpkins.  Even Theo got in on the fun.  His pumpkins are the ones on the ends of the front row. ;)

On a different note, I have been learning to knit!  I am really loving it.  I always love hand knit things, but I have had some bad knitting experiences in the past.  I really wanted to knit this precious sweater for Eden's doll, Sunshine Rose.  Eden never plays with the doll.  Theo plays with it a lot.  I was planning to make this sweater for the baby and give it to Theo.  Eden sobbed, protested, played with the doll for an hour, swore it was her favorite toy... She hasn't played with it since...  Anyway, I made the sweater.

I was very pleased with how the sweater turned out.  I may go ahead and just put the doll in Theo's room.  Eden won't miss it.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

What a week!

Seriously, this has been the craziest week I have ever experienced.  The wild ride started Tuesday, we had a 5.8 earthquake about 15 miles from our house.  The earthquake was felt all up and down the east coast!  We had a picture fall and some things from Eden's mantle were turned over, but other than that we had no damage (cousins who live closer to the center had much more damage).  What we had was completely freaked out children.  Since Tuesday's 5.8, we have had 16 (reported) aftershocks (ranging from 2.0 to 4.5).  We haven't felt quite that many, but some folks have felt many more!  We had 2 back to back last night, that made it hard for me to fall asleep.

While we are still dealing with the unsettling earthquake feelings, on Thursday, our power went out for 10 hours due to a tree falling on the power lines down the street.  While the power was out, we had a severe thunderstorm with major wind!  I don't know if I was still jumpy from the earthquake, but I took the kids and dogs to the center of the house away from windows to wait it out.  We had a tree fall in the yard during that storm.

Saturday, Hurricane Irene came through and left some pretty major damage in the Richmond, VA area.  We had big wind out here, and a few limbs down, but we never lost power.  My parents in Mechanicsville, VA have been without power since Saturday afternoon.

On a lighter note, we got our first egg yesterday!

Sweet tiny egg!

The white eggs are wooden dummy eggs.  The brown one is ours.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

3 weeks in...

We have one day left in our third week of homeschooling.  So far it has been so much fun for me.  I believe Eden is enjoying it, too.

We haven't started the Wee Folk Art curriculum yet (we will begin that the day after Labor Day).  Right now I am sort of making it up as we go.  We are reading Little House on the Prairie, so we have done a little bit of geography tracking their trip from the Big Woods near Pepin, Wisconsin to Independence, Kansas.  We are doing a unit study on manners using the book Don't Slurp Your Soup by Lynn Gibbs.  

I mentioned in my post on choosing curriculum that the Explode the Code A, B and C don't introduce the vowels.   I also mentioned that we would do the vowels on our own.  I have pieced together a week of lessons on each vowel using some worksheets that were given to me in the form of a large kindergarten workbook.  

Saxon math is working out well.  It doesn't seem much like math yet.  There is lots of playing with manipulatives (or toys, as Eden sees it), which I love!  We are also learning the calendar through daily repetition.

The workboxes are working out better than I could have hoped!  Eden responds SO well to them.  She loves anticipating what is next and it really keeps her on task.  It has also been great for me to be able to plan.  The workboxes keep me accountable and I know I have everything I need for the day when I have had to go through the lesson to put it in the workbox.

Praying we keep having good days and weeks!

Oh, and in other news, Theo has been peeing in the potty today!  Only one accident so far!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What an Amazing Family I Have!

We hosted our second annual Cousin's Camp this past weekend and a great time was had by all!

I mentioned in my last post that this whole thing was my Mama's idea and she really was the brains of the operation.  She worked tirelessly on planning and preparation; delegating tasks, gathering supplies, writing lists and all those other things you Type A folks do.  If she was the brains, I was the brawn!  I got to make sure I had a clean house, plenty of toilet paper, a loaded first aid kit (my children had the only injuries this weekend, I think), and willing hands!  An army of the family's grown-ups converged on our house Friday morning and got the children ready for the day.

We did fun and amazing things like dyeing t-shirts with indigo (the stuff they use to dye blue jeans).

My Mama "Cousin Becky" with a camper.
Just out of the indigo dye bath!

 We played around all weekend with stilts that "Aunt Brenda" (she got to be an aunt because she is actually the only person who attended who wasn't at all related) brought.

"Aunt Brenda" and Theo

Eden on stilts
Cousin Kevin on stilts!
Even my 90 year old Mema took a turn on the stilts!
 We went on a nature hike following the (mostly) dry creek bed.  One of the children found a turtle shell, we collected rocks, we identified plants, animal homes and even scat!


Taking a break.
 "Aunt Brenda" gave us a wonderful colonial medicine demonstration.  She fixed many ailments and the children really got into the playacting (so did the dog).

Ali got her ear bandaged.

Doctor's tools
 Friday night, some of the campers left, but most everyone stayed the night.  We pitched our tents in the back yard, had a bonfire, roasted hotdogs and made s'mores.

Our tent and our home.

Misty Saturday morning.
We had breakfast before the others began to arrive.  It was nice to have a few moments to sit and relax before the action began again.

We spent the day Saturday preparing for Saturday afternoon's feast.  The children made brunswick stew, rolls, and ice cream and each family brought a side dish to share.

Peeling potatoes

Making rolls
 We had an amazing weekend!  It was a lot of hard work, the children had a lot of fun and we all earned a rest...

Daddy and Theo finally crashed!

I cant wait for next year!!!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Can I tell you about Cousin's Camp?

As the older generation passes away, we are in danger of losing our connection to our more distant family members.  This saddens me.  I live in a home that has been in our family for so many years.  I really do feel connected to the past here.  I want to feel connected to those who are also a part of this house’s history and future.  That sounds a little woo-woo, but I think distant family and genealogies are important.  Scripture agrees, but that is another post entirely!

A few years ago, my mom, who does spinning demonstrations (often for kids and often in period costume), did a program for a group of kids attending “Cousin’s Camp.”  A local grandmother invited all of her grandchildren (some of whom lived out of state) to stay at her house for a whole week during the summer.  She had all sorts of fun things planned for them to do and see during the week.  It was set up like a real camp, but all the campers were cousins and the camp director was grandma!

My Mama.
After that, my mom really wanted to have cousin’s camp.  There were problems, though.  We needed a proper venue.  Her house wasn’t really a good place to hold a camp.  We also needed cousins!  My mom is a grandma, but she only has 2 grandkids and they are local, and they don’t have any first cousins!  How do you start a Cousin’s Camp with no cousins?  Well, I’ll tell you.  You invite second cousins and fourth cousins and third cousins twice removed!  

Last year when we moved to Hunter’s Grove, my mom (almost immediately) began talking about my hosting a version of Cousin’s Camp.  Brandon and I love to have folks out to our place, so, we were on board.  Mama did most of the planning and delegating.  We chose to do 3 days of day camp with a family/ parents dinner on the last day (the kids were in charge of making dinner!).  We tie-dyed t-shirts, had water balloon fights, made a family tree, had songs and stories, went on a nature hike and generally had a blast!

Exploring the woods.
The children bragged to their friends and asked to do it again next year.  So, here we are just a few days away from Cousin’s Camp 2011!  We have 12 children coming and lots of plans for a great time.  This year we are only doing 2 days of camp, but we are camping out Friday night.  I am really excited about this part.  We are praying for good weather, safety and lots of fun.  Of course, I will post pictures!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I had to fix my desk chair.

Yesterday, I stepped out of the school area for a minute and Theo stood on my desk chair to reach something.  He went right through the seat!  Admittedly, it was in bad shape.  Kind-of like this one (its twin)...

They are really sturdy chairs and I love them because they are small.  They fit perfectly in-between my dining chairs when I am seating 3 on a side of my dining table.  The small size also makes it perfect for my tiny desk in our school area (which is in our living room).

So, I had to fix it and fast!  I decided to use some fabric I had lying around and weave a new seat.  As I dismantled the old seat, I came up with a plan.  The end result is pretty cute, I think and it is very comfortable.

I am planning to do the other one ASAP... maybe I will do a tutorial! ;)

I thought I'd leave you with some pics of the chickens and their girl, Eden.

Those chickens love her!

Isabella is on top of the swing set.  Pippi is the one on the ground.

She owns the place!