Thursday, December 31, 2009

More homemade Christmas...

Handknit socks for teen. There was an appreciaitve oh! when he put them on and then he wore them three days straight. His birthday is this month so I will make him another pair and maybe they won't be so ripe when they hit the laundry basket;)
I made this pencil case for the teen. He is an aspiring artist. His pencils were kept in a tin. I thought that if he had the case he could take them with his sketch book when he goes for wanders.
I made a couple of draft snakes for my aunt and my friend Louise. These were very fun to make. I used scraps of fabric I had in my stash.
This was the best handmade Christmas present. The wee one and I found this wooden truck at the GoodWill last spring. It was dirty, its bumper looked like a dog had chewed it and it was missing its back wheels. All summer and fall it sat on Hubby's work bench. Hubby wanted to fix it up for him but time and circumstance conspired to keep it gathering dust on the bench. Hubby has had 2 weeks off. His first weekend home he set to work planning how to revitalize this great truck. Hubby worked on the wheels and worried that wee one would care about the difference in wheels. I assured him that he will be so happy that his dad fixed the truck for him that he will not care about the particular wheels. Wee one was VERY happy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Some of our handmade Christmas...

Hubby's Maltese Fisherman Hat

Teen's Watch Cap

Hubby got in on the action and made me a Boot Scraper! I am so please:)

Hubby also gave me this water color painting that our friend Lisa painted.

Yes there are still projects to finish. This is a blue felted vest for teen. Only half done. Below is Hubby's half done vest. Last year, I gave bags of yarn to I figure I am way ahead of the game. Although, I still have a whole vest left to make now...go figure!
There are still more handmade gifts to post.....

We had a lovely quiet day on Christmas day. How was your holiday?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sorry for the inconvenience...

But it seems I may have been spammed in comments. So I will be moderating comments for a while until I think the coast is clear...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rejoice in the Light, Revel in the Dark!

This short day, this long night we walk a mile through the woods. In the dark we hear the creak of maples leaning away from the roar of winter wind. A crescent moon dressed in gossamer cloud begs us to wait a few more nights for its blue dance on New Year's eve. I listen to each foot step crunch on snow. Ahead of me, the music of my son's voice sings about sled rides and glasses of milk.

At the end of our journey there is a pot luck feast abundant with sweets, wassail, a bonfire, ceremony and true, good friends.

And in that ceremony our ill wills join a Yule log on the bonfire and turn to embers dancing in the wind. We sing song and bang drums and revel in this yearly ritual of the longest night.

Blessed Be.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I am enjoying...

I've been busy baking sweets and finishing holiday knitting. Today I spend some time with the sewing machine. Wish me luck!

In the meanwhile, I thought I would share some things I am enjoying.

This soup is delicious! I substituted buttercup squash for the pumpkin. I used this easy Garam Masala recipe.

I found this blog very interesting and this article in particular says it all for me.

I am working hard to make this as much of a handmade Christmas as possible. Here are some last minute quick gifts that we are making.

If you are a knitter and have some little kids on your list these hand puppets work up really quick. I can knit one in a couple of evenings. I made them in dish cloth cotton so that they are easy to clean.

Thumbless mittens are being whipped up fast and furiously at my house as well. All the kids in my family are under 5. Trying to get those little thumbs in a mitten thumb and hope that it stays there seems an exercise in futility. So I have been making mittens without thumbs in toddler/preschool sizes. I can make a mitten an evening. I hope to have my own pattern and pictures posted this weekend!

In our house we love to weave pot holders in our house. A few always find their way into Christmas gifts that the kids give. I think that this is a craft not restricted to children. I love to make them too and folks love their sturdy usefulness. You could whip up a whole bag of loops in an evening.

I plan on making a couple of these draft snakes today.

And lastly, I have made several pair of these slippers. They were very fun to make. I can crochet the squares for one slipper in an evening.

Just a reminder that Monday is the last day to mail packages and have them arrive on time.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day!

The phone call came here at 5:15 am. Snow day. Hubby was still 2 hours away. He received a second call on the cell phone at the room he rents in Farmington. He was home by 9:30. With a surprise in tow! (Sorry for the cell phone pic). Hubby has the use of a tuba at the school he teaches at. Every evening we skype and wee one asks hubby to play the tuba. Today, wee one was able to play the tuba. He even got a toot(or is that an oom-pah?) out of it.

The snow had not started to fall till later in the morning; which was plenty of time to take care of a some last minute storm preparations.

The ladies watched on. These are a lovely new ladies.5 semi-retired Romney/Corriedales. We will be sending their fleeces to a mill next summer which we will have processed into roving and yarn that we plan to sell.

The rest of the day was spent stoking the woodstove, knitting, practicing tuba, napping and a little afternoon Sherlock Holmes (my own personal vice:).

For dinner we had simple fare.

Home made tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches with homemade oatmeal raisin bread, and pickled carrots.

We sing an adulterated grace before dining every evening.

Evening has come the board is spread,
Thanks be to the earth who giveth Bread.

Praise the earth for food,


While our voices joined together to share the meal a smaller voice replaced food for snowmen.

Homemade Tomato Soup ( a home preserved treat:)

1 quart chicken stock
1 quart tomato puree
1 quart tomato diced
1 onion chopped
5 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 table spoon dried parsley
Nutritional yeast
Black pepper to taste.

Sautee onions, garlic parsley and dill in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add stock, tomato product. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove cover to reduce soup to desired consistency. Add nutritional yeast and black pepper to taste.

Hope you enjoyed your own snow day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Storm is coming

Our first big storm of the season is expected tomorrow. We are forecasted to get 6-10 inches of snow. Along with the snow will be high winds. Power outages are expected. We have a good to do list today.

Bring snow shovels in from the garage.

Top off any water storage containers. When we lose power, we loose the power to the electric pump in our well.

Bring in anything out in the yard that we do not want covered with snow until spring.

Fill bird feeders.

Bring snow shoes in from the garage.

Check batteries in flash lights and top off oil lamps. Check batteries in emergency radio.

Vacuum rug. Well, okay, not an emergency essential. But with 2 cats, a dog and a 3 year old; the carpet can get nasty quickly.

It has fairly warm for the season but should be getting much colder by the end of the week. It is time to put the extra blankets on the bed.

I'll do some laundry today.

This afternoon we will bring a big pile of firewood. We will also make sure that all the wood is covered well.

Give the sheep extra hay tonight to keep them warm.

Review recipe for homemade hot coco:)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Changing Traditions

This time of year can be hectic and fraught with angst. Even more so if the budget is tighter. We put so much pressure on ourselves to have the "perfect" holiday that we lose sight of those values we want to be perfect: time spent with family, the act of giving, charity, observance of traditions. A perfect holiday does not need to be bought with a credit card. The perfect holiday does not need to look like it came from a Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous magazine.

I have been guilty of the pursuing the "perfect" holiday. When I was a single mother, the month of December was a very busy month for me. Usually, I had a second job to pay for the holiday and coming winter expenses. The result of this was time not spent with my older son. There was no time to enjoy a Christmas tree lighting or a Christmas Concert. The result was that by Christmas day I was exhausted. The result was that there was no time to cook a nice meal; instead, it was mostly store bought. That moment at the Christmas tree ,unwrapping presents, was so fleeting and always left me with an anti-climatic sense of the holiday.

As I began to simplify my life and slow down I learned to replace those traditions that required spending money with traditions that engaged the participation of everyone in our home. We spend the beginning of the December focusing on the coming winter season. We begin by making cut paper snowflakes Cost of this craft: FREE. You don't need to buy a fancy book to tell you how to make something you made as a child. We use scrap paper instead of buying white paper. I usually keep the snowflakes up until March when thoughts turn to Spring and gardening

We also make Pinecone Bird Feeders. This activity gets everyone involved. On Sundays in November it is safe to walk in the woods; so we take family walks and hunt for the pinecones we will use for feeders. We use natural feed for our sheep (native oats and corn) and used some cracked corn this year. We hang them outside our windows so that we can watch the bird channel. Lily Cat is very fond of this tradition. We have had downy woodpeckers, chickadees, juncos, vireos , tufted titmouse and one day we had 8 bluejays in the yard. We are also planning to string popcorn and cranberries to hang on a hawthorn tree in our yard to feed the birds. Cost of this activity: well, you might have to buy some cheap peanut butter(2.00) and some bird seed but we can get a small bag of bird feed for 2.00. Total 4.00. For the garland, popcorn is still a cheap snack so you can eat it while you are stringing and cranberries are on sale right now for the holidays. So maybe 5.00.

Another activity that we do around here is origami. The other day we made these doves. Some of them are nesting in house plants and a few of them hanging from hooks in windows. You don't need to have special origami paper to do this activity. We used paper with printing on one side and just folded the print side inside. Cost of this activity:Free

Another activity we like to do around here is read all the great Christmas/ winter Christmas books that are available. My favorite is The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.The Crafty Crow is doing a book a day with activity for advent this year. There are some great books on her list. Most of our local libraries carry many of these books. Cost of this activity: FREE.

We will be giving some baked goodness to friends and families at the holidays and the kids are always willing to help with this.

I used to put the tree up and get all the decorations up right away. But I found that this just feeds the Christmas machine. As soon as presents appeared under the tree there was an inventory taken. So we wait till the week before the holiday to put our tree up. I used to put all the presents under the tree but when I met my husband ,we melded our traditions. In his family, all the presents would magically appear on Christmas morning. This year we have been talking about whether to have a big "Santa gift" under the tree. We will still do stockings. Our reasoning is that the teen is old enough to know that there are a few specific, practical items he will receive. We just think maybe, while the wee one is young, we can shift the focus from all the Big Things Santa Gives to all the things we can do for each other. We don't visit Santa at the mall. He is aware of Santa. But when there is something he sees that he desires; we don't say, "Wait for Santa", but, "Put it on you wish list." Usually the desire is fleeting, but we don't want any expectation that the big guy is gonna provide.

If there have been expectations of what a holiday should look like it can be hard to shift the focus. But less can be more during the holidays; leaving more time to share memories. During these tough economic times we shouldn't feel shame that we can't do what we did before. What was done before was not sustainable and left many of us in debt. With a little creativity, little or no money new traditions can be brought into your home that truly can provide those perfect moments we strive for this time of year.