More Makin'




We had our first annual "Family Christmas Present Making Day" today.  The day included Christmas music, a big breakfast to get us started, a lot of making, and a few Christmas movies in between.  It is my new favorite day of the year.








Acorn Tail and Feather River Jams




I guess I'll have to take a few more pictures since you can't really see much here.  Anyway, this is the first year I didn't match them all.  I fell too in love with both of these fabrics- Acorn Trail for the girls and Feather River for the boy.  The cheering upon finding them was my reward.  I'm thinking it won't be much longer before that ends.  But for now I will savor it.


December Thoughts


{working on a Christmas gift}

{on a winter hike with our homeschool group}

There is so much to catch up on I would like to skip right to the present.  But then I would be missing some real good stuff.  So here goes... Grace and Jackson had a performance for their Irish music class.  They sang and both played the harp.  Ryan and I had a whole night and a day all to our selves!  We went out to dinner at our favorite place.  Then we got to spontaneously stop over at our friends and drink a glass of wine while sitting around the bonfire.  I can't remember the last time we got to do anything spontaneous.  We need more spontaneous.  I brought the two big kids to see the Grinch at the Children's Theater.  Loved.  We have been working on our Christmas presents.  Last weekend we dedicated a whole day to it, all five of us.  Might be my favorite holiday tradition we do.  Somewhere in there Nora got sick.  And then got better.  We already had one Christmas celebration.  Four more to go.  Mostly I like that.

So yes, we are in the full holiday swing of things.  I like the swing for the most part.  Although I have been trying to take note of a few things we will change up for next year.

~ I want two weekends dedicated to making gifts as a family.  If there is one Christmas memory I most want etched into my children's memories it is this one.  Not to mention it is one of those rare times when, should someone happen to stop by our house, they might be fooled into thinking we've all been drinking too much eggnog, as we are all that happy.

~ Starting the calendar making (an annual gift our kids make) in November.

~ Oh and also next November I will take out the Advent calendar and finish it before Advent.  After five years of using it I can confidently say I won't finish it once we hang it up and I certainly won't work on it after Christmas is over.

~ I want to have a bonfire on the night of the solstice.  Nothing fancy.  Just an hour or two of hanging out at the fire with my family.  Maybe we'll even start this one this year.

~ No gifts for anyone over the age of kid, other then a few handmade things.  We are almost to this point now but not quite there yet.

Last week our washing machine broke and I had the realization that despite being able to put a meal on the table that we can take 100% credit for we are not yet the pioneers we aspire to be.  My attempt at trying to do our laundry in the bathtub was a complete failure.  Anyway, tomorrow after taking the big kids to a Christmas play we are heading to my parents to do some laundry.  I'm thinking it will really bring my mom back to see me show up there with four pillow cases of dirty clothes.


Into the Woods

This morning after scrambling around the house to shuffle all three kids out the door for an overnight with my mom, and then scrambling into the car myself, I found myself peering in the door of the yoga studio I was hoping to take a class at.  I could clearly see all the shoes of the organized and timely people lined up by the wall (very orderly of course).  But the door was locked, I had missed the class (I was suppose to get there at least 15 minutes early I later learned).  Slightly dismayed I headed back into my car realizing that not only would I not being doing yoga but all of the rushing around I had done all morning was for nothing.  But then I made myself feel better by deciding I would go on a hike.  A hike through my backyard and into the misty forest behind our house.  


Past the sledding hill, and the surprise "deer stand" Grace and Jackson are building for Ryan, past the frozen pond and the crumpled corn field until finally I entered the world of hawks and coyotes and birch trees.  


I hiked down to the "lake" all the while inhaling the air as intentionally as I could (it's different in there).  I took a few pictures, but mostly I just saw.  I scared a hawk from it's high perch a top the trees and watched it fly away.  I watched a mother and father cardinal scrounge through the forest together, hopping from bush to fallen tree, never leaving each others side.

I don't know why we don't come here more often, but I intend to change that.


Weekend Highlights



~ Well of course there was Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday, and this year was no exception.  It was a very laid back day spent with family and an abundance of really good food.

~ Hanging out with our friends on Friday and then going to our neighbors for dessert Friday night.

~ Eating leftover Thanksgiving all weekend.

~ Relaxing by the fire every morning all weekend.

~ Getting our Christmas tree.

~ Decorating it.

~ Making turkey soup.

~ My nap today.

~ Taking my two big kids to the Nutcracker tonight.


Cutting the Christmas Tree (and Santa)










Happy Thanksgiving


More photos coming...


The Thanksgiving Preparations Have Begun


After a lovely day at homeschool group today we headed to the co-op where we proceeded to spend the next few hours checking lists and filling our cart (amongst many friendly faces doing the same).  We chatted with new friends we made on a recent homeschool field trip and made plans to have dessert with our neighbors the day after Thanksgiving.  We spent so long there that it only made sense to have dinner there as well.

Tonight along with my helper I started the brine.  And tomorrow the turkey goes in it...


Weekend Highlights






~ Having Grandma Sam, Grandpa Scott, Great Grandma Aleta, and Great Grandpa Glenn over dinner on Friday night to celebrate Grandma Sam's birthday.

~ Relaxing by the fire all Saturday morning with nowhere to go and nothing that needed to be done (and all five of us in such good spirits).

~ Going to the annual Holiday Fair (at Grace's old school) that the kids all look so forward to each year.

~ Making Christmas cookies at Katie and Kris's house and celebrating Grandma Lee's birthday.

~ Making venison summer sausage for the first time.

~ Ryan making venison for dinner (and having our first ever dinner that was 100% homegrown, handmade and hunted all from our own hard work... more on this soon).




Our edamame, our apple sauce, our squash and kale, Ryan's venison. Yes!


Canning Tomatoes





This weekend Katie helped me can our tomatoes.  I don't have an exact quantity but I think there were around three bushels of them.  It was our biggest canning marathon to date.  Katie purchased a giant pot (this picture does it no justice- it is equivalent to one and a half five gallon pales) for us to use and before cooking it down we had 27 quarts of tomatoes simmering away.  In the end we produced 13 quarts of sauce.  It was defiantly a weekend affair and all the best moments were never captured with my camera... the eight hours we were able to talk without interruption, the tomato waterfalls as they began to thaw, the smell of the simmering sauce, the tea drinking, the head scratching that finally ended in seat-belting the giant pot into my van and transporting it to my parents (where we finished simmering and canning it the next day).  My mom helped too by watching the girls on Saturday (the boys were up north hunting) and then letting us take over her kitchen on Sunday to finish the job (and feeding us all with delicious chili).  Oh and Grace and Nora helped out to by entertaining us with a great dancing and singing show.  It was a lot of work but so fulfilling, and definitely made all the better by being surrounded with family.  A few notes for next year...

~ Use only the best paste tomatoes, no more freezing little ones or the more watery varieties
~ Have lots of towels handy, thawing tomatoes causes massive flooding
~ The chopping alone took 3 hours
~ This part was only fun because we did it together, in other words, do not attempt alone!
~ This whole process took around 15 hours
~ It was really hard to seed them when they were frozen, I need to look more into this and see if I can't find a better way.
~ If you leave 20 quarts of hot tomato sauce in your car overnight, in freezing temperatures, and wrap some towels snugly around it, it will still be hot in the morning.
~ Going into winter with a cupboard full of tomato sauce feels awesome


For the Official Record




I forgot to take pictures of the first snow a couple days ago.  I love documenting such things because I often need this proof to win arguments with Ryan several years later.  For example, yesterday... it is not normal for winter to be in full force by Thanksgiving.  Oh, but it is.  So, for the record, the first snowfall of 2014 was November10th this year.

And also, my camera is broken.  I guess I'll have to settle for lousy phone pictures for awhile (magically that middle one didn't turn out to bad but not sure I can replicate it).


Finding Hope


I didn't go vote yesterday.  I know, I know.  If you don't vote, don't complain.  The thing is, I can't seem to find a reason to vote anymore.  Rarely does anyone even talk about the issues that really matter to me and if they do (and I vote for them) they end up doing the opposite of what they said they would do.   The only two elections I really cared about this year were in Colorado and Oregon (if only I could have voted there).  This morning Jackson woke up and said, "mom, who won- cancer, or your team?"  I swear I did not refer to the people against labeling GMOs as the "cancer guys" but I guess my kids have learned enough over the last few years to come up with that clever nickname all on their own (and for that matter, I also didn't refer to the right to know group as "my team"... though I might start referring to them that way, I have always wanted a team to cheer for).

It is hard for me not to loose hope sometimes about the direction this world seems to want to continue heading.  I mean, for goodness sake, we just wanted to label GMOs.  God forbid we would even think about banning them.  Cancer, birth defects, lymphoma (and on and on), why wouldn't we want to continue growing and eating GMOs.  In fact, why don't we grow more of them (and we will).

I have to look closely for the hope these days.  But it is there.  Yesterday, along with several other families, we helped a family from our homeschool group put up some more boards on the off grid home they are building (completely themselves) on their beautiful piece of land.  I watched as all of our children ran around on the trails, playing happily and as all the adultss pitched in to the best of their ability, also smiling and laughing the whole time.  After a few hours of work we all sat down together and shared a big pot of delicious homemade chili.  I found myself overcome with a feeling of this is how it is suppose to be.  People working together to help provide for each other, and having fun doing it all the way.

Yes, I found hope there.  And I found hope today, sitting in front of the fire with Nora, harvesting our dried beans.  A much smaller bit of hope to be sure, but hope all the same.  "Mama, these are jumping beans" she said has she broke apart a dried pod and laughed as the seeds flew everywhere.  For a brief moment, I envied her just a bit.  How wonderful it would be to have such a memory etched in my brain from childhood that could be referenced now as an adult (or any memory, for that matter, pertaining to the skills of self sufficiency).  Then after a minute I decided, oh well, I get to learn it all now and that's fun too in a way.  But Nora (and Grace and Jackson), they will enter into the great big world with at least a little bit of knowledge about how to provide for themselves.  That gives me hope too.  



Learning and Pretending

{you can see the tip of the tepee sticking up out of the tall grass on the far left}

{fuzzy phone picture}

We just finished up a long unit on the Lenape Indians and now we have moved on to the Ojibwe Indians.  Grace and Jackson are so interested in Native American life.  They have gotten really into playing Native Americans with their new friends using our tepee out in the big field.  Today Grace told me they ground "wheat" with stones while the boys "hunted" for food.  They even had to migrate at one point and relocate their tepee.  I think this year we will have to take a field trip up north to the Indian Museum.