Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A vest for baby b...

I thought I had until the end of November.
Imagine my surprise when I got a call...he came early...6 weeks early.
I had been planning a vest of sorts, and had gotten to the point of buying gender neutral yarn and perused a few patterns, but not much further.
After all, I had at least 4 weeks to finish it, right?

And so when I found out that my friend had her baby 6 weeks early, I had to get a move on.  
I thought about it and made my decision quickly.  I made the pebbles vest in super wash wool as premature babies have a tendency towards being cold and having reflux.  I wanted him to be warm and easy to clean.

I also altered the pattern to only have one shoulder button and three side buttons.
What first time mom needs seven buttons to button up on the little squirmy one?
And the buttons were homemade maple buttons from Citysister designs...found here.
The best only took me about 3 episodes of Grey's Anatomy and a Physical Therapy session to complete.  

As for reading...I'm reading The Friday Night Knitting Club...Pretty good, however I'm not quite that far into it.  I need some time to decide about it, but I will say it is not one of the typical G-Rated books I normally read.

Linked to Nichole's craft along and Ginny's knit along

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Mummy

Currently we are studying ancient Egypt...and Halloween is on it's way...that means only one thing can be happening in our house...that's right...we are making mummies!

Now were to find a body to mummify?

Stop that thought...

Back when I was in 6th grade we studied ancient Egypt...and we made a mummy...out of something that has a skin and mushy insides...we mummified bananas!

And so we continue that in our home school...a mummified banana.

It all started with a banana...or two as a little girl had to get involved.

The Ancient Egyptians used natron to dry their we are plum out of natron (a natural salt) we used a whole container of plain table salt (not the "good salt".)

Then we also discussed the climate of and dry.  As we live in a place that is cold and moist, we decided to counteract that with the oven put on very low.

After a few hours of that, the mummies where left in their pan in the oven overnight.  The next day, we found that the salt had turned hard.  We got out our hammers and rather a butter knife and chipped away at the salt.  It came off the mummies in big chunks revealing that our mummies had turned red.  This then led to the conversation concerning chemical reactions and moisture extraction as well as similarities and differences between people and in people do not have sugar levels that caramelize.

I had an old sheet that I use in the garden as a frost protector that we tore a few strips from to be the "linen" wrappings of the mummy.  W. learned that wrapping a mummy is very difficult.  Then the mummies were placed on a plate on top of the refrigerator.  The steady warmth of the fridge plus the heat rises factor will mimic the heat of Egypt for the next few weeks as we wait to raid the tomb of the mummy.

To be continued....

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall Soccer Saturdays

Soccer Saturdays are a fall tradition I have been looking forward to ever since I started envisioning my future.  First, get married and have the kids.  Then, force them to play things so that your dreams can be fulfilled!  No, I'm just kidding.  
But in all seriousness, being a soccer mom has been a dream of mine since I was little.  Seems silly, but sitting on the sidelines, freezing my butt off and holding on to a cup of coffee as if it were going to warm our entire body if I squeeze tight enough.  You know, good times!  I love it!  

This summer, all three kids participated in a preschool soccer program.  You might think it is silly to be having kids under the age of 5 play soccer.  Would they really get anything out of it?  Well, #3 only participated in two practices and #2 only one.  She preferred to wear her tutu and cheer for her sister on the sidelines.  #1 got the most out of it, but even she didn't enjoy it like she is enjoying the kindergarten recreation program.
Perhaps watching his sister this fall will encourage him to participate more next summer?  After all, he will be one year wiser.
 I think #2 is a lost cause with this whole soccer thing.  If there isn't constant action, she's not into it.  We'll just stick with gymnastics.  She really loves bouncing on things.  Or perhaps we will just skip preschool soccer next year because hanging on Daddy's back on the sidelines is more fun!  We can do that anywhere!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's in the cards...THE WINNER IS...

Exactly 13 people entered the drawing for a free set of buttons from Citysister Designs.  To which my husband said to assign cards to each person...1 ace to 13 king...then draw.  And the winner is the Queen...Kim Corrigan-Oliver of Mothering with Mindfulness.  Congrats! and remember that you still can receive a 10% discount with the coupon code CSCS10 through the end of the month.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yarn along craftiness...and a final day for a giveaway!

Right now I'm in the homestretch of so many projects...
Like my t-shirt yarn mat/rug...
or my Oaklet Shawl...
or a baby vest  for the little premature baby my friend just had...

I've been reading like crazy...
the new curriculum I got in this week...
or the books I got from the library...about knitting...the Opinionated Knitter is a must read!
or research for our "Ancient Egyptian Times" newspaper...
or a fun book like the Dinopedia

I'm working on a tutorial for T-shirt new love.

And I've been creating like crazy...
buttons and more buttons...
Each piece of wood seems to be talking to me...
dye me with blueberries...
carve a little more off the rim...
but not too much...
I deserve to be a toggle, not a mini button...

Remember today is the last chance to win your choice of buttons from my shop...just pop on over to my new Etsy Shop Citysister Designs and let me know what you like best...and enter to win...just by leaving a comment on this post...tell your friends for an extra chance.  I'll combine those with the comments from the original announcement post!  Leave a comment if you'd like to host your own giveaway and we can talk.
Also, there is a coupon code CSCS10 which will give you 10% off your purchase.

Frontier Dreams keep calm craft on!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Apple Picking... or not!

 We missed the boat on apple picking this year, which is a shame.  It is a New England tradition we hold very close to our hearts, right next to getting warm by the fire at the first sight of snow (which could be any day now). 
It's a good thing some of the orchards have more to offer than just picking apples.  
 The corn maze is always fun.  We had to be extra careful that #3 didn't go run off and get lost.  Could you imagine?  A little 2 year old screaming because he couldn't find his mommy or daddy?  Actually, come to think of it, I don't think he'd care much.  He would probably just run and knock down all the corn stocks laughing his tush off.  He's just a crazy, fun, little dude!  Always finding the positive spin on things (unless you take his toy tractor, Ernie or Elmo from him... then it's game over!). 
 There is also picking out your own pumpkin!
We kind of missed the boat on that one as well.  Most of the pumpkins in the patch had rot spots, or were already composting down.  We still had to do it though. 
We only give the kids one rule when picking them out.  They can have whatever pumpkin they want, but they have to be able to carry it!  My parents used this rule when we were growing up and I think it's a mighty fine one!  That way, they weren't stuck carrying these massive orange things to the car through the patch, then the corn maze.  
The two little ones found theirs in the patch.  Nice and small with no rot spots.  Perfect!  
#1 was slightly more picky.  Big surprise... this kid always knows what she wants!  Nothing wrong with that though.  She found hers in the front of the store.  
We are schedule to carve them next week!  I can already smell the seeds roasting in the oven.  Another heart-warming tradition!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The promised apple post

Every year that I have had this blog going, I've had an apple post.  I just love apples.
I've made applesauce with you.
I've made apple pie filling with you.
And now, I'm going to share with you how to make by-product of applesauce cider.
And then I'm going to make it into apple pie jelly...not jam...jelly.
And I promise you, if you make it, the house will smell delicious.

As usual, I began by pealing, slicing, and putting apples in a big ole pot.  A really big pot.
Then, since it was a big tall pot, I added extra water so the apples wouldn't stick to the sides of the pot and the top ones would steam as the bottom ones boiled.  This created a massive amount of liquid.  So I began dipping a mug in, straining out the excess liquid, putting it through my handy dandy strainer, and voila! it was apple cider...the best cider ever.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I love apple jelly.  So I put it in a pot, added sugar (1 half gallon of cider, 6 cups sugar) and then the average apple pie spices...a teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger and nutmeg, a dash of allspice.  I also put in a shot of lemon juice to brighten the flavors.  Apples have lots of natural pectin, but most of it is concentrated in the peel, and since I peeled before making my applesauce, I added some Polmona's pectin at this stage...and brought it to a boil.  Soon the simple syrup created by the liquid and sugar and a touch of pectin created a lovely spicy soft set jelly.  I believe it will be perfect for those Christmas present baskets...

So are you putting by some special items for presents?

And don't forget there is still time to enter THE BUTTON GIVEAWAY!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Harvest Day

The garden is a living thriving organism.
It eats, breaths, reproduces, and dies.
From the first lettuce and spinach leaves of the Spring, to the death throes of the peppers as they succumb to the first freeze of the fall, it lives.
In the meantime it feeds and nourishes our family and allows us to put a little by for the winter.

As for the chickens, it is obvious that they are living organisms.
They eat, breathe, (some reproduce), and die.
From the first eggs of a cold March morning, to the piddling out of the eggs in November, they nourish us and provide a modest income.
But one must remember that they are chickens and "respect the chicken-ess of the chicken." as Joel of Polyface would say.
The chickens here have a purpose: eat lawn, get rid of kitchen scraps and weeds, provide manure, provide eggs...maybe some mild chicken antics and entertainment.
When they do not live up to their end of the bargain, they become loads on the economy of our land...after all, we only have a quarter acre and need to use it as efficiently as possible.

So a few months ago we started getting more requests for us to "board" chickens in return for eggs... so we picked up some new chicks and low and behold three turned out to be roosters.

In order to avoid being arrested for cock fighting (as they started to spar) they needed to be harvested.  Just like the garden, everything has it's season.  Weeds that invade the land, make it difficult for the planned plants to grow, and cause general disorder in the garden are harvested.  Too many bad roosters are the weeds of the coops.

Just to get things straight, I am an omnivore.  I eat plant products from the garden, local farmers, and from the regular grocery market.  I get most of our meat in bulk from a local farm that takes great care of their herd of cattle, and sells similarly raised chickens and pigs, from other farmers in their meat market.  Occasionally, I buy from the grocery store since the farm is a little bit from here, but that is very rare.  (It's odd thing is that the grocery store is more expensive than the all natural, hormone and antibiotic free, pasture raised, meat market!)

And occasionally, I get our meat from the backyard.

I will spare you the gory details, but right now I have two roosters in my refrigerator "chilling out."  Yes I said I had three roosters, and only two are sitting in our fridge.  That leaves one in the yard.  He was picked on by the other roosters and is sweet.  He calls gently to the hens to tell them that I put scraps out.  We have never heard him crow.  He runs around to herd the girls into the coop at the slightest hint of a threat.  And he is beautiful.  He has glossy black feathers that shine green and blue in iridescent splendor.  His tail feathers arc.  His golden long neck feathers tell his mood. My husband is attached to him.  That says a lot about this roo's personality.  If he remains a beautiful gentle and quiet boy, we hope to be able to raise our own chicks and not become rooster pot pie!

And as a side note don't forget to enter in our button giveaway!

linked to the barn hop

Thursday, October 18, 2012


School has been going really well for the girls.  They seem to be enjoying the activities and come home worn out each day.  It's great!  

It was a little different on on Monday.  #1 came home and told us that one of her friends at school said she didn't want to be friends any more. 
Immediately, I wanted to call this little person on the phone and figure out why.  Why does she not want to be friends with #1?  Did something happen?  Was #1 mean to her?  Was she mean to #1?  How can I fix it?  Because I can fix anything, right?  

WAIT A MINUTE... How is she ever going to learn how to work her way out of problems if I fix it?  The last thing I want is to be a helicopter parent.  It won't teach the kids anything and they will always look to us when problems need solving.  They won't know how to do it on their own.  #1 has to figure this one out.  All I can do is guide her in the right direction.  Get her to think about what she wants in a friendship.  What she doesn't want in a friendship.  I told her that friends often have similar interests and when you are around them, it usually makes you happy.  We talked about what it means to be a good friend and discussed things that a good friend should never do.  

These conversations have come way too early in her little life.  While I am sure this little girl wasn't trying to be mean, it still hurts.  It probably hurts me more than it does #1.  But, I'd like to thank that little girl.  Her comment resulted in my fist heart to heart with #1.  It was all I imagined it would be.  We snuggled next to each other on the couch next to the fire.  No tears... this time.  The issues aren't big enough yet, I suppose.   Things could change down the line, too.  They could end up being the best of friends.
As long as the door of communication is open, I can help her fix anything!!!
BUT - she is not allowed to date until she is 30.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Introducing Citysister Designs! and a Giveaway!

Over the past few weeks, I've gotten emails from friends...I've gotten in person questions when out with my sweater...I've gotten asked quite a number of times when out with my knitting bag full of stuff...are your wooden buttons for sale...

And now I am pleased to announce they are...that's right, you can purchase buttons from me!  I have opened an Etsy shop! I am also making a little side bar button to sell my buttons...and I believe I already have a few giveaways set up!  (I have a couple more slots, so if you are interested in hosting a give away...let me know by comment and we can discuss it as I am still working on setting up an email for this.)

My Etsy shop can be found here.

My current stock is created from apple wood harvested from a tree in our backyard.  It is finished in a mixture of linseed oil and beeswax.  This allows for the oil penetrate the wood and make them seem to glow from within and the wax to seal the wood.

Toggle as well as traditional round buttons are available as well as rustic bark on and  more traditional bark off styles.  Both small and larger buttons are available.

The large and toggle style are great for sweaters, while the little ones would be darling on a baby item.

And items are being added daily as I build the site.

So drop on by Citysister Designs!  Tell me what you like and leave a comment...that will automatically enter you in a drawing to be held on Wednesday October 24th.  The giveaway is for one item of your choosing!  For extra entries, you can let others know about it, and leave another comment to let me know about that!

...and if you like what you see, a 10% discount will be given, just write CSCS10 in for the coupon code which will be good until the end of the month.

The graveyard project

Living in the burbs, there are a few things that you should always consider.

#1 You have neighbors...Lots of neighbors.
#2 They are for the most part nosy neighbors.

So when one Saturday morning a few weeks ago I began digging a hole in the garden, I began getting questions.  Mind you, it was a hole about 5 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 1 foot deep.  The first were from the husband.

"Did the dog die last night?"- not an uncommon question as he passes gas so bad we often think he is rotting inside.
"'s alive...are you planning on killing me and burying me in the garden because you need fertilizer?"

The neighbor and her boyfriend (ages 80 something) kept a close watch sitting on the back porch.

One would think that I would have time to take a picture of this hole, but I didn't.

I made some calls to some numbers I found on Craig's list, but none of them could come through...that's why the hole remained open to the public's view.

So now that the weather is changing, I was able to muck out the chicken coop that I'd been dreading mucking.  I even sent the kids and their friends on a quest for leaves for the nesting boxes.  Chickens prefer pine needles over leaves...go figure.  (No child labor was involved in the actual mucking...that was done prior to kids and friend's play date...they were just looking for needles and leaves.)

Normally, I would muck the chicken coop into the compost heap, but this year I had a different plan.

I wanted hot cow/horse manure (hence the Craig's list calls)...since it is quite hot and steamy I hear.  But when I asked about what they fed the animals, or managed disease in their herd, I didn't want what they had to offer.  I am a purist when it comes to what I'll put in my garden.    The chicken manure I have isn't quite as hot right now since I deep litter and it had partially composted in the coop.  Instead I put it in the hole.  It looked dry, and in order to properly get compost going, one must wet it to the moisture level of a moist sponge.  I thought about getting the hose out, but instead the skies opened up.

Now, why would one put hot manure right into their garden?  Won't that burn your roots, give you horrible diseases, be gross (insert question here)?  The answer is, not really, if you are careful.  All along I have been making a hot bed.  I first read about it in the Backyard Homestead, but didn't have the time or energy to put much thought into it at that time.

Then about a month ago, the Tribune Review wrote an article about a hot bed, and that got me thinking.  For  less than the cost of lettuce (shipped across the country) for the winter, I could grow my own.  I could keep my chard going and maybe some spinach too, since fall grown spinach works best here.

While mine is not as elaborate as hers...I didn't use cinder blocks in my garden...I think it just might work.  I dug the hole, filled it with the chicken litter and let the rain come.  Then I placed straw bales around the hole and back filled the hole with about 6 inches of soil with compost and garden soil from the original digging of the hole.  As the chicken litter decomposes, it will release heat and sink down.  The heat will keep the soil warm and help the veggies grow.  A greenhouse-esque top will be put on top to help retain heat and build solar heat in the bed.  The bales are angled to make the lid of the hot bed face south with an angle (30 degrees is optimal)  to maximize the solar angle of winter in the northern hemisphere.

Since this area will be very rich and deeply loose, after 180 (I'm not counting, but about 6 months) days of decomposing, carrots will be planted.  This length of time is used due to the depth of which the carrots will be growing.  I don't want to burn any root crops or risk disease.  It takes about 6 months for the pathogens and all to break down.

As for the bales of straw...mulch...chicken coop litter...the garden says "yum!"

Let's see how this goes!

By the cost me $18 for the plastic and pipes...(drop cloth from the paint dept and 1 inch plumbing pipe) and $30 for the straw, which will be mulch and chicken coop lining in the it's something I could use I need to grow $48 worth of greens this winter or about 10 lbs...lets see what happens!

Do you do anything to extend your season?

I'd love to hear your ideas!

Linked to the homestead barnhop and simple lives Thursday

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


As a little girl, I remember making up signs to put on my door.  These signs said things like "KEEP OUT", "My Room" and "No Boys Allowed."  Defining my space was very important to me.  I had two brothers.  One older brother that was a rule follower and never tested limits.  My younger brother did not know what rules or boundaries were.  He tested limits every second of every day, from the moment he opened his eyes to the moment he went to sleep.  He was a pain in my tush!  These signs were for him.

The signs have started in our house, only they aren't on bedroom doors and they aren't directed at siblings.  This one is on the inside of our front door.  Maybe she's telling us not to go outside so that the terrible monsters living in the woods in our back yard will not eat us?  I should ask her.  But, she's at school and I will forget by the time she gets home.
The sign greets me every day as I walk downstairs in the morning.  That and the gross dirt all around the handle and dead bolt.  Ick... maybe I should go take care of that now!  It will be my mission until I hear someone crashing to the floor and get distracted... Murphy's Law, right?

I am finding that #1 is starting to need her own space.  She is always saying how her little sister "is so annoying!!"  She often asks for time alone where she can read or practice piano without #2 pulling at the books or slamming on the piano keys.  They are fairly close in age (20 months apart), so they either really get along, or really disagree. 

This whole boundary thing has me laughing over here.  Have you ever seen the TV Show from the 90's called Full House?  If you have, we aren't that far from the DJ Tanner moment where she took tape and made a line down the middle of the bedroom she shared with her little sister Stephanie.  They each had a side and were not supposed to cross the line.  My space and your space.  Easy enough.  That is, unless you have a little sister that likes to test limits like #2 does.  The boundary seems like a good idea, but it will probably cause more problems than anything.  Here I am, thinking about a problem that hasn't happened yet.  Chill out Mama Bear! 

Boundaries set forth by a 5 year old.  It should be interesting from here on out.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bar Harbor in Pictures

One of the most beautiful places on earth, in my humble opinion, is Bar Harbor, Maine. 
 I like the sunset best.
 J likes the sunrise.  I am not a wake up at 5am kind of girl, so this is where I struggle during our trips here.  The kids liked it this year though.  On this particular morning, it was cloudy.  They thought it was great because we were inside of the clouds. 
We got to see carriage rides on the carriage road trails.
I got to capture some beautiful memories on film with #1 and Daddy.  It is easier to do with her because she doesn't move as much.
#3 got to ride on Daddy's shoulders when his legs go too tired.
#2 ran around on Sandy Beach with me barefoot.  I just love piggies in the sand.
 Such a peaceful place. 
No fighting.  No boredom.  Just bonding with each other in natures playground.  Just perfect!

I'm a sucker for Autumn.  
And I'm a sucker for Bar Harbor! 

Do you have a favorite place that perhaps we should visit?  We are always up for exploring our beautiful country, so I'd love to hear from you! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


A few weeks ago, #1 took a field trip with her class to hike around a local mountain.  They walked around and were on the hunt for what she was calling "evidence."  Evidence that an animal had been around.  
Recently, we took a trip to Bar Harbor and we decided to play the "evidence" game.  #1 explained the rules to us and away we went.  Here, they are looking at a bird in Jordan Pond.

A beaver sunk its teeth into this tree.  #1 asked us how we knew this was evidence of a beaver, so we showed her the teeth marks in the wood.  We showed her what a trunk looked that had been sawed through, one that had been snapped and one that just collapsed due to rot.  She loved learning all about it, and then started guessing how trees fell down.
Not too far down the path from the beaver chewed tree, we found its house. 
We love nature walks.  It makes me want to do more in my own back yard. 

Evidence is everywhere.  You just have to look for it.

What kinds of things do you look for in nature?