Monday, October 15, 2018

Traditional Crafting

It was a rather quiet weekend for me. My dear hubby and our children were so kind to keep our home and homestead running smoothly while I mostly took it easy and kept to the most basic and necessary tasks while my cold lingered.

Our oldest at-home children even did the grocery shopping for the week after I made our menu and list. We have always shopped together as a family so they had no problem at all getting everything we need for the next several days.

And they brought me a "feel better" gift... I am not sure I have gotten one of those before. {smile} It was a cute seasonal gift bag filled with peanut butter chocolate pretzels, pumpkin spice hot cocoa, pumpkin spice coffee creamer, a can of whipped cream, and a skein of kitchen cotton yarn. I thought that was so sweet!

While they were gone to town for the grocery shopping and my dear hubby and the rest of our tribe were busy about their own activities, I got myself a cup of coffee and started my Christmas crafting. It was so cozy in our house with the fire in the wood stove and the snow covered view (it has mostly melted since then) and it seemed like a good time to begin my tradition of knitted dishcloth making.

Each year I knit several dishcloths for Christmas gifting. Our adult children expect them and always tell me how much they like them, one of our girls has stashed some in her hope chest, and I like to give them to lots of other people, too.

They are such useful and frugal gifts, of course, and in my opinion much better for kitchen tasks than any store bought dishcloth I have tried. And I just like making them and giving them away!

So dishcloth number one for Christmas 2018 is well begun... in red.


Friday, October 12, 2018

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends. It is a chilly day at our place... right now our outdoor thermometer reads 52 degrees (F) but it feels a bit cooler than that with the slight breeze and the snowy view of the mountain above us. We have a fire in our wood stove keeping us cozy inside as we work on school and projects and the tasks that clamor for our attention today.

As I suspected earlier this week, I did indeed come down with a cold and it has sapped much of my energy these past few days. I have used some necessarily restful moments to stitch on my poppy counted cross-stitch sampler. I need the bright light of mid-day so I can see the tiny holes and I am often busy with something else during that span of the day... so having that quiet time to craft is something good that has come of this cold. {smile}

Here are a few more snippets from my ongoing gratitude list today~

:: Seeing "my deer" again... the big mule deer buck that I watched all summer came by our homestead for the first time in a long time this week.

:: Thoughtfulness... my kind hubby stopped by the store to get me something for my cold-related headache yesterday, and he also picked up a surprise quart of goat milk for me since I was almost out. So sweet!

:: My homekeeping servants. I don't know where I would be without my washer and dryer and oven and pressure cooker and mixer, etc. How much more have I appreciated them this week when I have been under the weather and desired to get my tasks done as quickly and easily as possible.

:: Just a bump. The other day, my sweet pup Jack jumped up at the exact moment I leaned forward and his head collided with my face... entirely an accident caused by bad timing. It gave me quite a fat lip and a bruise but thankfully our collision did *not* seem to damage the dental work and bridge I have because of bone loss in my jaw and the several missing teeth I have due to that. So relieved!

:: A nearly finished project. I finished crocheting the cozy shawl I have been working on for myself. All I have left to do is weave in the ends. Lord willing, I will get that done and get some pictures so I can show it to you next week!

Thanks for coming by my blog today, friends. Do have a peek at Run Hoop Julie and Images of a Happy Gentle Life if you want to see what else I have been up to lately. {smile} I wish you a wonderful weekend where you are...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

One Dozen Doings

:: Coco ::
I am...

Drinking: My third cup of coffee-with-goat-milk of the day. It won't be my last. {smile}

Eating: Nothing yet... but toasted homemade sourdough bread with honey peanut butter and a banana will be happening very soon!

Listening: The wood stove fan is whirring and our senior cat Marvin is meowing for my attention. I think he wants me to lift him up to the counter, he isn't able to leap like he used to.

Reading: The book of Numbers, in my Bible. Thieving Forest (Martha Conway), on my nightstand. By the Shores of Silver Lake (Laura Ingalls Wilder), to my kids.

Learning: I have "watch the video for current ASL class" tucked within the homeschool lesson plans on my to-do list, so that is my hoped-for accomplishment. There are only three more lessons in the syllabus before I graduate from this course (American Sign Language 1), I am hoping to finish by the end of December.

Thinking: About ordering a drop spindle and some roving fiber. My crafty interests are beginning to lean more and more toward spinning.

Admiring: The way the tiny icicles are hanging off of the bird feeder that is right outside the window. All the way around the bottom of it, forming a ring of icy points that remind me of whiskers.

Hoping: That the beginnings of a cold that I feel this morning will skedaddle rather than get worse. Mamas don't have time to get colds... right? I wish!

Hiding: A few Christmas gifts that I am quite pleased to have purchased already are tucked away in my gift bin.

Wearing: My long denim jumper layered over a blue knit shirt, and some cute purple socks. And I chose my colorful flower-patterned headcovering today.

Trusting: That if I am patient I will come across some just-right dairy goats that I have been itching to add to our wee herd so we can begin milking again. I think Coco and company would love some new friends and I would love to resume our little home dairy, Lord willing. Goat milk is my favorite.

Feeling: Content. Blessed. Thankful. God is good.

And one more to make it a baker's dozen of doings...
Wishing you a most lovely day!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Welcome Back

"Your buck is back, Mama!" my son happily exclaimed as he took a break from his archery target practice in the pasture to dash to the house and share with me the exciting news.

Ooo... how lovely! My boy set up the spotting scope on our deck so we could all have a look at the wee mule deer herd that was grazing in an adjacent field, with that familiar buck in its midst.

And what a relief to see him again. I had missed him and been wondering where the deer I had kept an eye on all of last summer had been for the past month or so. So regular were his visits to our homestead that my tribe had begun calling him "Mama's buck." He is a beauty!


Sunday, October 7, 2018

My Sweet Matilda

do you have a treat?
why of course I do, my dear
apple loving cow

happy she makes me
that lovely Jersey of mine
with those soft brown eyes

come on, Matilda!
she looks up and here she comes
my girl knows her name

my friend, a best friend
she knows how much I love her
how about a kiss?


Friday, October 5, 2018

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends! What a lovely autumn day it is at our place. Jack and I enjoyed our first outdoor hike of the week this morning and it was *bliss!* We have a fresh skiff of snow in the mountains surrounding our homestead and there was just the right amount of nip in the air. Ahhh.

The goats kept watch over our hike as they often do. Though Matilda merely looked to see if I was bringing her an apple... I wasn't (for once!) so she lost interest and went back to leisurely chewing her cud while lounging in the morning sunshine.

As Jack and I hiked amidst all of that goodness, I listened to a Paul Washer sermon that was very bold in its teachings on the home and so encouraging to me as a wife and a stay-at-homestead mama of many.

Just this week, one of our daughters was met with such a look of bewilderment by a co-worker that couldn't fathom that our girl's primary life goal is to serve the Lord... and that "all she wants to do" is to someday get married and have a family of her own.

And it thrills my mama heart that this smart and capable daughter of ours who could probably be absolutely anything she fancies to be in this modern world desires a role and a lifestyle that is traditional and important and valued far above rubies.

How lovely that there are still ladies (of all ages) that see the worth in what the world often mocks, yes? Praise the Lord.

Speaking of lovely, I thought the hillside next to our stretch of creek was stunning with its fall colors! The low-lying bushes and grasses turn such a rich shade of red this time of the year... and the yellows and greens and browns against that big blue sky... wow!

If you wanted to find me this week... chances are, I was in the kitchen. Busy, busy but in a happy, homemade, slow way. Making soup, baking bread, shredding enormous zucchini, processing apples.

My children and I worked together and got all of the apples peeled and sliced. I made loads of applesauce and we packed freezer bags to the brim with ready-to-use slices. It was a good time of togetherness and what a blessing to have a freezer shelf loaded down with a bounty of home processed fruit.

Re-stocking our food storage has been on my mind. And thanks to these apples, I am off to a good start with that project. For free!

Our friends let us pick the apples from their trees so all it cost us for about three-hundred pounds of organic fruit was some time. {smile}

My cat Ruby has the right idea. Time to rest and recharge after all of that kitchen work!

Here are a few more snippets from my ongoing gratitude list today~

:: A surprise discovery. We were walking along the creekside trail and happened upon a pile of bear scat dotted with chokecherry seeds. A black bear had wandered that way (likely during the night) and left behind evidence of its visit. Such a neat thing to find on our property!

:: My changing style. I took out *all* of my piercings! Oh, how exciting it was to get them... I got my nose pierced for my dear hubby's 50th birthday a year and a half ago, and I liked it so much that I ended up getting several piercings in my ears and another in my nose over the following months.

It was fun, I really enjoyed having them... they were an expression of confidence and bravery, and a real boost to my growth in self-acceptance when I needed one. I'm glad I got them.

But lately those piercings weren't seeming like "me" as much. And I am *all* about authenticity! I thought about taking them out, I prayed about it. The other night, one of them fell out in my sleep and rather than putting the one back in, I decided it was time to take all of them out. So I did.

I was afraid I would regret my decision. That I would miss them. But I don't, not a bit. Sleeping is easier, hugging is easier, playing with Jack is easier, even hooping is easier without having to worry about hitting my ears.

So I went from lots of earrings and two nose rings to none at all. Just a bunch of closing piercings that are barely noticeable already. What a change!

:: Hand-me-downs. I was given four boxes of canning jars this week! Such good timing with all of those apples in the house.

:: Movies. Ordinarily, I don't take the time to watch the movies that only interest me in our family. But lately, I asked myself... "Why not?" So, I have been choosing a movie that I want to see and watching it in pieces when I get a chance... ten minutes here, twenty minutes there. It takes a few days, sometimes a week, but what a treat!

Last week, I watched Fiddler on the Roof (1971). I loved it and I would love to sew some dresses for myself in the styles that the daughters wore... so cute! This week, I am watching The Phantom of the Opera (2004). So far, so good!

Well, my bread is almost done baking and I would love to venture outdoors to enjoy some of the late afternoon sunshine with my crew before I get the family fun night pizza underway. I was going to make another apple cake today, but I forgot to leave a bag of slices out of the freezer so I decided to choose *popcorn* for our family fun night dessert. Yay!

Thanks for coming by my blog today, and for your visits to this one and this one, too. I hope you have a lovely weekend where you are.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Preserving the Apple Harvest

The excitement in the air was palpable as we stuck the very last apple onto the apple peeler-corer device yesterday afternoon. Spin, spin, spin... done! "Yaaaay!" we cheered as we put the task of processing three hundred pounds of apples behind us.

What a blessing it was when a few friends asked my dear hubby if we would like to pick apples from their trees. It must have been a good year for apples in our Montana area, and we are thankful for the generosity of kind friends with backyard apple trees! (And how lovely that they say that our menfolk helped them by picking their excess fruit... I guess it was a good thing all around!) {smile}

It took several days for us to get through the bountiful harvest. And I made use of the apples along the way... during our preserving endeavors I made a few yummy cakes, a pie, an apple crisp or two, apple butter, and I think it is a conservative estimate to say we have gone through at least two gallons of applesauce already.

But most of those many pounds of apples went into our freezer. And here is what I ended up with...

3 gallon buckets of applesauce
9 quarts of applesauce in jars
13 gallons of sliced apples

Oh how happy I will be to have all of that apple-y goodness at-the-ready in months to come!

The apples join four gallons of chokecherries that I froze earlier this season. And next, I plan to set up my vegetable shredder and deal with a couple of enormous zucchini and yellow squash.

So it looks as though apple preserving season has come to an end in my homestead kitchen. I am glad... and I have apple stained hands and a passel of memories to savor from the afternoons our tribe spent working together and laughing and talking and getting those many, many apples done. Yay indeed!


Monday, October 1, 2018

First Snow

We awoke on Sunday to our first snow of the season on our homestead. Just a skiff, but enough to turn the barnyard white and give us a taste of the wintry months that are soon to come.

And there was snow in town, too. Our hometown is several miles away and about five hundred feet lower in elevation than our mountainside homestead and often we don't have the same weather conditions. But there was a bit of snow all around this weekend.

The colorful autumn leaves piled along the edges of the sidewalk had a snowy sprinkling upon them, though the sidewalks were simply wet.

It made me *so* thankful that our menfolk harvested two full bins of apples on Saturday, before the snow. Quite likely apple harvest season could be over for us if the storm ruined what apples remain on our generous friends' trees, though apple season does continue in my homestead kitchen!

The sun is shining today and little remains of the snow of the weekend. Just a bit in the yard, not even enough to roll up a snowman. And the surrounding pastures - even the higher elevations of this mountain - have regained a look that speaks more of autumn than winter.

And I don't know whether the weather prompted it or not, but we were blessed to see one of my *favorite* rural occurrences down on the county road this morning. A cattle drive! These cows were so cooperative and softly moo-ed to one another and calmly walked right up the road as the cowboys followed on horses.

I love the simple pleasures of a simple life. 💕


Saturday, September 29, 2018

End of September on the Homestead

It is the most wonderful time of the year, in my opinion. I truly do love all four seasons, but if I had to put them in order starting with the one I love the *most* my list would start with autumn. It is such a cozy, home-y time of the year on our homestead.

Our summer homesteading projects and our winter preps are complete, so autumn is mostly a season of school and everyday chores and making things, as we begin to prepare for the upcoming birthdays and holidays and discuss the things we hope to accomplish around the home and homestead over the wintry months to come.

The family hunters will soon go hunting and we pray they will successfully fill their tags and our freezers will fill up with wild game meat. What a blessing that would be! One thing I really hope to get back into is building and maintaining a food storage stockpile for our large tribe. It was so much easier back when we had one... but it was gradually used up and I haven't yet been able to rebuild it. A priority, for sure!

The creek looks especially beautiful this time of the year. We spent several joyful moments relaxing creekside in September. The leaves are falling from the bushes and the trees and blanketing the pasture along the creek's banks. We picked some of our wild chokecherries when they were ripe and I made chokecherry syrup and put a few gallons of chokecherries in the freezer.

And the colorful trees along the creek are especially beautiful from above, when looking down from our hilltop farmhouse vantage point. The colors of this mountain in September are glorious.

A very few vigorous wildflowers are still thriving in the pastures. Our night time temperatures have dipped into the 30's (F) recently so they may not have much time left. I liked the way this blossom appears to be growing from the rock... in fact, the wildflower's stem is simply bent to the side in that direction. {smile}

I am beginning to yearn for more goats! More and more with each passing month, it seems. I miss our days of milking and the convenience of producing some of our own dairy products on our farm. Our current goats have always simply been pets and companion animals, we likely won't ever milk them, but I am praying that the Lord has more dairy animals in mind for our homestead one day soon!

My cow-friend Matilda has had a good month of wandering the back pasture and grazing with her miniature horse friend, Shadow. Both of them love the current abundance of apples and apple cores coming their way. Matilda is getting the beginnings of her dark and shaggy winter coat. She looks good!

Our eight remaining hens are doing an amazing job of laying enough eggs for my baking. And we get a duck egg upon occasion, too. Farm fresh eggs are the best, I think.

September was a month of apples. We made lots and lots of applesauce and other apple goodies at the beginning of the month, and then we were blessed with more apples earlier this week and even more today. Apple days continue in my homestead kitchen! Thankfully, my children like to help with some of the prep work.

We work together. We laugh a lot. We get it done. And it's a lot of fun.

Finally, I have a lovely orange sunset to share with you. Isn't it pretty? Sunsets always make me feel thankful for our simple life and the many blessings we enjoy on our big family's mountainside homestead. And autumn sunsets usually occur at just about the time that we finish our evening chores and the work of the day is behind us... we can take a few moments to be still and admire their beauty.

And in to October we go, friends~

Friday, September 28, 2018

A Grateful Heart

:: homemade bread and friend-grown squash ::
It seems trite to begin so many of my grateful heart posts by proclaiming how quickly time flies by. But I know that I am not the only one that notices how quickly the days seem to whiz past sometimes.

Our boy with an October birthday announced, "One month until my birthday!" one day this week. First of all, I can hardly believe that the boy who gave my dear hubby and me the surprise experience of an unassisted home birth when he was born is going to be seventeen already.

The home birth was planned, but the unassisted part was not. Our midwife did not arrive until several minutes after our precious baby boy was born. Was that memorable, joyful, wonderful event really seventeen years ago? Oh my.

And, since his end-of-October birthday commences the holiday season including a plethora of family birthdays at our house, wow! I guess I had better get busy if I am going to achieve my hope of handcrafting a few of my Christmas gifts this year!

But, I am not going to run ahead of myself too much. This is the moment at hand, the one I choose to abide in... and here are a few snippets of my ongoing gratitude list this week~

:: Julian ::
:: baby superworms ::
 :: Julian the Pacman frog. Isn't he adorable? He belongs to one of our boys, the one who is about to have his birthday, in fact. Our son is experimenting with growing his own frog food and has successfully hatched superworms in a habitat that he made for such a purpose. He let some purchased superworms mature to become beetles. The beetles bred and their eggs hatched. So exciting!

:: Pretty flowers from my girl. Such happiness in an adorable mug! We are all adjusting to her work schedule and we are thankful for her job and that she is transitioning so well into this new stage of life. She and I are both grateful that she plans to live at home for some time to save money and pray for direction for her future.

:: what a blessing! ::
:: More apples. And another generous friend gave us some extra squash from their garden this week. These apples are from the same tree that our previous homegrown apples came from, but they are noticeably sweeter than they were those few weeks ago. So I am making more applesauce and pies and cakes and my well-fed family is pretty happy about all of the homemade goodies coming out of the kitchen these days.

:: Laminin. My children and I learned today, in our eclectic homeschooling endeavors, that our cells are held together by a protein that is shaped like a cross. We looked at some online images of laminin molecules and marveled at the truth that itty-bitty crosses literally hold us together. It thrills me to learn that even our inner workings point to Jesus! God is so good. I love homeschooling.

Well, I need to get today's gallons of homemade applesauce ready for the freezer and see if the apple cinnamon cake I made (just like this one) for family fun night is ready to come out of the pan. But I will be back here tomorrow, Lord willing, to share with you my traditional end of the month on the homestead post.

Wishing you much gratitude, friends!