cutting wood

boy

boys

tree

tree walking

cuttingcutting wood

A few large oak trees came down in the last 6 months in the woods back of our house.  William went up there last weekend to start bucking up the trees for firewood.  The logs on those long straight trunks were too nice to cut up for now, so he just cut the tops for the most part.  He took the boys, who quickly scrambled up on the logs and though the brush, playing.  Another benefit of leaving much of the trees in the woods, is that now, the kids have a new favorite place to go and play outside.  The day was beautiful and at a warm 60 degrees.  I went for a hike while the children played and William worked, but I brought my camera to capture some of the wood fun (and work) and green mossy-ness of the woods.

I kind of like the smell of a 2 stroke engine.  I like watching William weld a chainsaw and maul with ease and skill.  I also love the smell of freshly cut red oak.  Sometimes, I will just smell the cut end of logs just to smell that uncommon, fleeting, woody-ketchupy scent. So, this was a pretty perfect day in that I got great sensory experiences.  It is those moments that are easy to forget – those simple things that are not momentous or memorable, but are simple pleasures of life that are precious and ephemeral.  Maybe that I why I like this blog.  So that I can remember those little things with words and pictures.

cove

rocks

woods

stream

playin’

raking

boy

Play is something I think very important to kids (and it seems like lots of research is backing up that claim, too).  And by playing, I mean using imagination, running around outside, playing games – organized and not, and playing music.  Some days they get to play a lot, some days, not so much.  It depends on school, work, after school activities and schedules.  I try to make sure there is time each day to play music.  The girls practice, and we often put on other music to listen to during the day.  I would love to do more playing music with the girls, myself, but I usually have something else I need to do at the time (like make supper).  But, I am going to work on playing with them once a week – just strumming the guitar or uke with them for a song or two.  I am so impressed with the girls playing and the work they put into it.  Funny how the words ‘play’ and ‘work’ are used together for some endeavors.

violin

uke

We also play lots of games.  Rat-a-Tat-Cat is a recent favorite.  Steven and I will play in the mornings before he goes to preschool.  He loves the game, even though he doesn’t know his numbers yet, much less how to count.  He has figured out the order of numbers, if not the numbers, and knows which cards are good and their ranking.  So, he is fun to play with.  And, I get to teach him how to win and lose graciously. Such an important lesson.  There are also lots of games of cars and trains on the floor.

playing

And, I am so looking forward to warmer weather which will get all of us outside to play more.  None of us but William are really cold hardy, so we tend to huddle inside and even when bundled up don’t love being out in the cold.  We’ve had a taste of a warming a few days ago and it was great to be able to call in the children for supper from their outdoor games of fairy house building and “hunting”.

moss
I loved this moss we found on a walk with Steven the other day.

 

 

making, weaving

Last week, I did a bunch of sewing.  I made leggings and a t-shirt for Anne, a baby blanket, two pair of shorts for Evva, and a dress for a one year old.  Some of these makings were prototypes I was experimenting with, and I had children and friends to give them to, but the dress (and bloomers) for the one year old, I made because I loved the look and wanted to see how difficult it would be to make (not nearly as hard as I thought).  But, I have no one to give it too!   I loved this little dress.  I’ll hold on to it (maybe sell it?), and see what happens.

dress

Then, Hythe came up to me this weekend and said, I want to make something.  What do you want to make?  I want to weave, he said, and brought me a craft book with a picure of a loom set up inside a shoe box.  So, I found a shoe box, put in some warp yarns and gave him a large darning needle and yarn.  He loved it.  He made his own pattern of yarn colors, and started out with the ambitious plan to weave a blanket.  I told him the loom would only allow each piece to be a few inches wide, so he said he would weave lots of them and I could sew them together.  I think he soon realized that a weaving the size of a coaster was good enough, and satisfying enough.  I don’t know anything about how to take handwoven things off of a loom, or how to finish them, but I did my best and tied everything together.  Hythe trimmed up all the ends and he was so proud of his little woven coaster (or hot pad, as he calls it).  I have been using it to set my tea on for the last two mornings, and he likes to see it being used.

weaving1

done

002

withmugweaving

ice ice baby

ice

stomping

cutting ice

oyster

boy

We have been hiding inside for the last 3 days.  The temperatures have been COLD.  I don’t think it has gone above freezing – and the wind is blowing.  Brrrr.  We’ve not ventured out much, though the girls went horseback riding on Saturday (and came home to be thawed out in front of the fire afterwards), and I went out for a couple of walks.  The one thing, though, that will induce the children outside and get them excited about being outside, is ice.  And, snow, of course, but there’s no snow here now, just ice.  There is ice in the creeks, ice in the springs, ice in puddles.  It is fun to slide on, jump on, crack, cut (with oyster shells), stab (with screwdrivers), and throw.  If I want to get the children outside in this cold weather, I can’t say “let’s go swing” or, “let’s go on a walk”.  I just get moans and “no”s or children reluctantly shoved into coats and boots.  But, if I say “let’s go find some ice”, they rush to get their winter clothes on and are outside before I can pull on my boots.

 

family time

photo
We just returned from 5 days (3 full) in Park City, Utah.  I was not sure this getaway would be a real family vacation – thinking that we would be trying to ski as often as we could fit in the short amount of time we were there and we would not have a lot of quality family time.  But, I was wrong.  We had a wonderful time, together nearly the entire time – William and I, the children, our nephew, and my mother (and our sister-in-law for a short time).  Even though my mother, our nephew, and Steven either did not ski or were in ski school every day, we still had lots of quality time together.  And, that was partly because we stopped skiing everyday at about 3 and had the whole rest of the afternoon and evening to spend talking, playing, and relaxing together.  And, the kids really needed to relax and veg out after 6 hours of skiing!

“Out West”, I was reminded again on this trip, is majestic.  The mountains are large and rugged, rising into the sky, seeming to reach into heaven.  Space is so large – large mountains, but also large sky, large prairie, rocks, slopes.  So different from the mountains we live in here “back East”. We were in awe the whole time.

We stayed in a beautiful, modern house, close to the slopes, and skied every day.  And, everyday we had bluebird skies and cold (but not too cold) weather. It was perfect conditions.  I couldn’t get many pictures because I was not willing to take my good camera out there (and I was more interested in skiing than photography).  I took a few pictures and videos on my phone, but the best pictures, the ones I wish I had on a hard drive, are only in my head.  One picture I hope to keep in my memory was of our oldest three children skiing in front of me, down a ridge on top of a mountain with a 360 degree view of the Wasatch Mountains, with confidence and joy – no one else in sight.  They outpaced me for nearly that whole long run (a blue trail, no less) – along the ridge, through the woods, and finally down a long, wide, empty slope – and I hope I can keep that beautiful, awe-inspiring moment with me.  My children truly impressed me with their skiing skill and confidence.

And, perhaps they come by it naturally.  William is quite a good skier and snowboarder, and my father was an impressive skier.  One night we got my mother to tell us some stories of my dad and his skiing abilities.  She said he was one of the best skiers she had ever seen, that he would ski down vertical slopes with speed and skill.  I remember learning how to ski when I was 5 (and my brother was 3).  I didn’t realize that my dad was a ski instructor at the mountain where and when I learned to ski, but I do remember watching him ski with grace and ease.  Unfortunately, he died less than a year later.  I like the thought that the love of skiing, and possibly some of his gracefulness on the slopes, may keep going in his grandchildren.

sweet pink shirt, a little boy, and spring

ev

back

swing

I was looking for a skinny pants pattern for Anne who wanted them to wear for her uniform for school, and I came across a new pattern company, Simple Life Pattern Company (and they are having a sale this week!).  I loved this cute shirt, so I bought that pattern too.  It was instantly a favorite.  I sewed this one up in an organic cotton jersey from Organic Cotton Plus.  I love pink, and I love this shade of pink (I made a little cardigan for myself from the same fabric).  But, this shirt is just perfect.  I made it long sleeve so that it could be worn in winter.  Evva loved the twirl of the peplum and the open back.  It will be in heavy rotation in her wardrobe, and that makes me happy.  Not all my sewing projects, despite the initial gladness the garment excites, make it into regular wardrobe rotation.  I will definitely be making more of these – and dresses too!

Of note this week – the crocuses (or croci) and snowdrops are blooming!!  My favorite sign of early spring.  The sign that gives me hope each year during the cold, gray days of winter.  And, bees were visiting these flowers!  Even though we don’t keep bees, I like that we have flowers for so many months of the year that help feed them.

And, Steven found a water gun from the summer and when I found out (at this moment) I had to explain that he could not shoot in the house – but it was awfully cute.  He also put on a set of glow bracelets from this weekend.  He was wearing a t-shirt I made for Hythe, but that now fits him.  Steven always liked that lightening bolt fabric and used to ask  (in his baby talk) to make one for him.  I never did get around to it, but when I pulled this out for Steven to wear the other day, he said “You made it for me!!”  Yes, baby, I did.  He was so happy.

boys

glow sticks

 

crocussnowdrops

sewing pattern organization

patterns

suit

pucci

dress

pattern org

I am working on getting my sewing area organized.  I have a very small area of our relatively small house for my sewing – and I have 2 sewing machines and a serger, plus loads of fabric, patterns, and notions.  I got more fabric, patterns, and notions from my grandmother over the last few months.  I have also inherited my grandmother’s sewing table (as well as one of those machines mentioned above) which we have no room for at present.  It is waiting in my mother’s house for when we might have room for it – we are hoping to build another room onto the house in the next year.

Anyway, I decided to start with my patterns.  I have “vintage” patterns from my grandmother, recent “big 4″ patterns, and quite a few indie pattern designer patterns.  I have children’s patterns, adult patterns, dresses, tops, pants, skirts, aprons, bathing suits.  The collection was in many bags and boxes scattered around my sewing area and office.  They were hard to locate or appreciate and they were getting more a more beat up every time I went through them. I bought 3” 3 ring binders and heavy duty page protectors, and I started sorting the patterns into age group (or size, I guess) and type of garment. I can now store nearly all of my patterns in these binders on the bookshelf in my office.  And, the binders can set upright as soon as I (or William) change the shelf height of one of the shelves!

For the pdf patterns I own, I keep them on file in my computer where I can sort them by type of garment, where they came from, etc.  I try to print my pdf’s at a local print shop with a large file.  Those patterns, I store in a corner of the sewing area, rolled up.  I usually print out instructions and trace the size I need on tracing paper – so those I am storing in the 3 rind binders.  It seems like a good system so far. I have over 100 patterns, but it seems like a reasonable amount – well, maybe slightly over reasonable, but that’s ok. I got a lot from my grandmother (cool vintage, crazy 80s and 90s – pretty cool Pucci, right?!), and I try to source indie patterns and small businesses.  So, I feel good about the amount of money I spent and how it was spent.  Now, I feel they are more organized and I can appreciate and use them much more!

This is such an improvement from my previous system, and I am happy with it so far.  Now, how to tackle the fabric stash??

quilt for the little man

 

serge

panels

quilt

binding

quilt

 

hythequilt

with Frasier

None of the women in my family quilted. My grandmother was an amazing sewer/seamstress, but she did not quilt.  Apparently my great-great-grandmother quilted (I have a hexagon quilt she made when my father was born on our bed right now), but I did not know she quilted until earlier this year.  But, my childhood neighbor (nearly like an aunt to me) did quilt.  I did not realize she did until I was an adult, and she made beautiful quilts for each of our daughters when they were born.  Those quilts are still on their beds.  Nita inspired me with her beautiful, artistic quilts.  She also encouraged me to try an quilt, lending me books to read about it.  But, I have been very slow to get into quilting, feeling it was a bit too overwhelming of a project to launch into – it seemed to take lots of planning, fabric, steps, and precision.

Then, just after Christmas, I was at a slight loss about what to sew next.  There were a few projects I wanted to do, but I was without one of the machines I needed/wanted for the project (it is being repaired) and I didn’t really have the desire to fish out fabrics to experiment with for other projects.  I really wanted to reduce the fabric stash I have, seemingly stuffed in every nook and cranny in my sewing rooms/mud room.  I spied the fabric I bought last year to make a quilt for Hythe and decided to get to it.  Last winter I decided to try to make quilts for the children.  I made two very small knotted ones for Anne and Evva and thought I might try a real quilted quilt in a real bed-size for Hythe.  Hythe sat with me last winter as I browsed fabric collections and helped pick out this one of blues and whites with little accents of red and orange.  I ordered the fabric, washed and ironed it, but then set it aside to work on other projects.

So, it felt great to get it out, and I had an idea for a simple quilt of panels of these fabrics.  I cut them into strips and cut them again, somewhat haphazardly, into rectangles.  Then, I sewed them back into strips and sewed the strips together.  And, instead of sewing I used my serger (new from just before Christmas).  It was surprisingly quick and easy.  I also used an old toddler demin shirt that had some Latin embroidery on it.  I loved the embroidery and it worked well with the quilt.  On one corner of the quilt, there is the front pocket from the shirt.  I love working old clothes into quilts, and I especially love working little pockets in.  It seems like a little secret.

I decided to back the quilt with a simple gray fabric and edge it with some brighter color.  The orange of the binding coordinated and brought out the bits of orange in the quilted fabrics.  This is the first quilt I have really quilted, and I was very happy with how it turned out.  Hythe was too.

I finished hand sewing the binding down one night after the children had gone to bed, so I slipped the quilt over Hythe in his sleep.  He woke up under it, was delighted, and has not let any other blankets on his bed since.  I can tell he feels love through that quilt, and that is special.  I overestimated the time and precision needed for quilting (at least for this type of quilt), and I really enjoyed making it.  And, I really loved how wonderful it made Hythe feel to have this made for him.

our life in snow

snowsnow

sled

dreamcatcher

wrap

goggles

angel

snow1 snowman

sledding

truck

sled

We got our first big snow of the year – about 8 inches I think, though most folks around us say it was 12 inches.  It snowed for nearly 48 hours, though during that time, we also had about 4 hours of sleet.  It was cold, windy, and snowy/sleet-y all day on Friday and Saturday.  Luckily, we had gotten out all the winter gear a few days before and were prepared to get everyone dressed for outdoor adventures.  The best new snow gear came from my mother, who purchased ski goggles for all the kids for Christmas.  They were perfect for this weather.  The kids wore them all day on Friday and Saturday, and even on Sunday because though the wind was not blowing snow in their face, the sun was creating quite a blinding glare.  I was sorry I didn’t have a pair (though I would use anybody’s who had gone inside to warm up).

We did so much outside on Friday (in the driving snow and sleet) – lots of sledding, hiking, and more sledding – that I was completely worn out by Friday evening, and so were the kids.  Walking uphill through heavy snow (and pulling a child in a sled uphill) for hours and hours is quite exhausting.

We spent a bit more time inside on Saturday.  Hythe made a dream catcher for his bedroom after I showed him a video on how to do in from Creative Bug.  The video was for adults and supplies included a brass ring, waxed twine, and nice beads.  But, I gave Hythe an emboidery hoop, some kitchen twine, and Evva gave him some feathers from a dress up mask of hers that was falling apart and he made his own dreamcatcher.  He was very proud, and so was I.  He is hoping to catch some of the bad dreams he has been having lately.  There was also a little dress up in mama’s shawls as William and I went through some of the extra clothes we have.

Then, more sledding, and more sledding.  And, Evva, Anne and I went on a snowy horseback ride while Hythe and William built two snowmen.

We are still enjoying the snow today as it slowly melts away.  Still sledding down our hill, still making snowmen, still throwing the odd snowball.  William and I were talking, and both agreed that while we love the snow, we both feel a little “FOMO” or Fear of Missing Out, when it snows.  There is so much that could be done during the brief snows we get – sledding (on many different hills), skiing, snowboarding, snow hiking, ice finding, snowman building, finding friends doing any of the former – that it can feel like you need to rush around to have fun.  But, during this snow, I felt all I wanted to do was stay at home.  I wanted for nothing and felt so much happier when I was home than tramping around trying to do anything else.  I also started and finished a great book (The Forgotten Seamstress).  And, as much as I have loved these snow days, I am ready to get back to regular life.

it’s cold, cleaning . . . and nutella

steve

lenten roses

Winter weather has descended upon us.  It is cold.  Wind chill below 0, bone-chilling, a bit refreshing (for the first minute outside) – cold.  I don’t completely understand how weather works and why some days that are 20 degrees (F) out feel just fine, and other 20 degree days feel like the North Pole and the cold goes right into your bones no matter how well dressed you are.  I could say the same about 60 degree days – some feel like summer, some feel like winter.  Is it humidity, wind, sun that makes the difference?  Whatever the reason, we are in the cold temps that feel COLD.  We had a dusting of snow the other day, and it looked pretty on the lenten roses (which bloomed about a month early because of the crazy warm December), but now the cold has really depressed (the only word I can think of) these flowers.  They are all laying in a lump on the ground, frozen.

Which means that there are shorter periods of being outside, long periods of getting dressed to go outside (finding hats, mittens, socks and shoes), and longer periods of playing inside.  Yesterday, a holiday, we all spent at home.  A few friends came over to play, and all 6 children played together (for the most part) inside, with multiple ventures outside.  Retreating, when too cold back to the house to have hot chocolate and snacks, to read, and to play.   William and I spent nearly the whole day cleaning and organizing our house.  A task that is overdue, but seems impossible to get done since we are often busy and don’t build in time to do it.  I think I also tend to avoid it, having things I would much rather do.  It is also frustrating to try and tackle a large task like this to be interrupted by the need to make snacks, or drive the carpool, or get to a meeting.  But, yesterday was the perfect day for it – a holiday, children entertained and taking care of each other, a partner to support the effort, no work or carpool.

boys

vacuuminggames

games

First, I tried to organize my sewing patterns.  I had bought large 3 ring binders and sheet protectors to store and organize the patterns, but just over half way through the process, realized I did not have enough binders or sheet protectors (which means I have over 100 patterns).  But, I found a temporary solution.

William cleaned and organized our bedroom which has been a bit of a disaster since Christmas.

I organized the game cabinet as well as the toy cabinet, both of which are getting quite a bit of use in the cold weather, and it is satisfying to see everything made neat and useful (for now at least).  Surely by the end of the season, they will be a bit of a mess again.

Tidying up like this also makes me wonder if should get the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.  It seems like it might be written for me.  Perhaps the library has a copy, because I don’t have a lot of faith that I will follow through will changes that take a lot of time or effort, so I don’t want to spend the money on it until I read a bit of it.  We’ll see.

Finally, I made a batch of homemade nutella – or cholocate hazelnut spread – for the week.  This is a treat I make occasionally, and it is so good, better (in my opinion) and healthier than the store bought kind.  This recipe is based off of Susan Herrmann Loomis‘s recipe in her cookbook Nuts in the Kitchen.  Susan’s a distant cousin, too.  The kids love it and it is simple to make.

2 cups hazelnuts

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (you can use a fancy, expensive kind, or Hershey’s – I can’t tell much difference)

pinch of salt

Toast hazelnuts in the oven at 350F for about 10 minutes.  They smell slightly toasted and are turning a little browner.  Take them out and put the nuts on a kitchen towel (not a terry towel) and rub them with the towel to rub off the skins.  After the nuts cool, I usually rub them with my hands to remove most of the remaining skins.  Some nuts will  hang on to their skin and that is ok.  Try to separate the nuts from the flaked off skins and throw the skins away (or compost them).  When the nuts are cool, process them in a food processor until they are a smooth paste.  This will take several minutes.  It will go from a paste to a smooth paste after a while, but it will never be as smooth as store bought. Again, that’s ok.  Add the salt, sugar, and cocoa powder and process till mixed well.  Now you are done.  Scrape it out and put in in a jar.  I use a mason jar (fits perfect in a pint-size).  It probably should be stored in the refrigerator, but ours goes fast enough that I keep it on the counter.

nutella

toastev