« July 2013 | Main | December 2013 »

Settling In

first week 1


first week 2


first week 3

I'm glad we started school earlier than we normally do. It feels like our routine will be nicely in place by early September now, rather than a few weeks later when we usually find our groove. Either way, early or late start, it doesn't matter much in the big picture, but it does feel good to be back at it right now.  

Can you believe that candy in our homeschool? I know! It was for an activity in what I'm sure is going to be our favorite class this year. By all accounts it appears to be an exceptional course and unlike anything I was ever taught in school about money - saving, giving, budgeting, investing, retirement, mortgages, buying cars, insurance, building "wealth." etc. - such important skills to be learning as a teen. And as popular as Dave Ramsey is among the adult set, I think his personality was created for teaching to teens. Man, he's good.

first week 5


first week 7

August sure was pretty nice around here. July, as stifling as it was, kind of let up and we enjoyed some great weather these last few weeks. There were mums at the feed store yesterday! I was so tempted, but it's not time yet. My begonias are still happy on the front porch, it doesn't seem right to kick them off so soon.

The driveway is slowly covering up with leaves. Not the beautiful red, yellow and orange leaves of autumn, just the early brown and dried up fallen leaves of late summer. Although I did spot a few yellow maple leaves on the ground as I made my way back to the house after picking beans. 

first week 8


first week 10


first week 9


first week 11

Oh, those beans. We had a row of beans that got overlooked somehow in the picking rotation and now they are monstrous. I really can't imagine them being edible, a little experimenting is in order. It's quite a lot actually and I'm disappointed to lose them if that's the case.

What do you do with extra large green beans? (They really are quite tough.)

{Edited: Thank you so much for your bean help! We definitely are using some for seeds - but one plants worth would supply us for next season and this particular row is about twelve feet long. That's a lot of seeds, even shared among friends. The chickens are enjoying the surplus as well. I actually left the beans on the counter for a couple of days and they seem more tender now so I'm going to prepare them for the freezer with maybe one extra minute of blanching and just go with it for winter soups and stews. After all, I can't imagine Ma Ingalls would compost slightly overgrown beans! ;) }

first week 12

By the way, if you happen to be over here and would like to make yourself some eggs, they're on the top shelf in the fridge. You can't miss them. 

Enjoy the weekend, friends! I'll be popping in tomorrow with a little bit of workshop news. :)

I Knit a Shawl (then I entered it in a fair!)

shawl 3

It all started when I saw Renee's post featuring her mother's incredible shawl. Now that was a shawl, I thought. 

I sensed a shawl was destined to be my first 'big' knitting project, but so many of the patterns I came across were kind of tiny. Like little capelets for your shoulders. Cute, but I'm too practical for cute. When a cool October morning sends a chill through me, I want to fully wrap myself in a layer of soft wool. A wee little capelet wouldn't bring the level of cozy I was looking for. 

shawl 4

But as soon as I saw Karen's shawl, I knew. And the yarn she chose!! Well, I had to find some of that too. Thankfully, my local yarn shop carried it so I didn't have to look far. I peeked at the very pattern Karen used, but my skill set didn't seem to be a match for it just yet. I looked around on Ravelry and stumbled upon the Harry Shawl. Perfect! I loved the stitching, particularly that is wasn't too lacy - I do love lacy shawls - but true to form, I was going for warmth over style.

shawl 2

I don't have my knitting vocabulary down well enough yet to tell you the ins and outs of this pattern, other than to say I thought it was fairly simple. My brain works in its own special way however and I had to discard the written instructions at a certain point and just go with how the picture looked and how the stitches flowed as I was knitting. I don't now what this intuitive method would be called, but I've applied it to sewing before as well.

shawl 7

Adam gave me my first sewing machine for my 29th birthday. Up until that point I hadn't really sewn anything since eighth grade home ec class, but I was thrilled to sew simple projects - as wonky as they were sure to be. Just a few months passed and a friend asked if I would help sew the costumes for her daughter's school production of Alice in Wonderland.

Uhh... what!?

She wouldn't let me wiggle my way out of it and before I could escape down the rabbit hole I was knee deep in blue sequined and white satin fabric, cutting out pattern pieces and hoping to turn it all into a tuxedo jacket - tails and all. Only the sparkliest, fanciest of costumes would do for the Mad Hatter.

Oh my word did I ever have a time of it. After much wrangling and far too many four letter words, I finally just stopped everything and tossed the instructions. Instead of those pesky step by step details, I thought about how garments are made... I wear them every day for goodness sake! So... a sleeve should be pinned like this, not because the instructions say so but because that is what it looks like on the shirt I'm wearing... lapels - well, i don't have too many of those but let's take a look at one of Adam's suits - ahh, yes - that's how you do a lapel!... pockets, we all have pockets - they should sit like so... and that logic my friends is how I wound up making my first and only tuxedo jacket. 



shawl 5

When I got stuck a few times on this shawl I used the same method. Instructions were cast aside and I just thought about how the shape should come together with the relatively few types of stitches needed. And somehow, voila! We have ourselves a shawl. 

{Ravelry notes.}

shawl 1

Early in the summer I got the idea that it would be fun to enter something in one of the country fairs in my area. This shawl had come off the needles in late June, so it seemed like a good candidate for my entry. Sure, I kinda felt like I had no business entering a fair when I can still count on one hand the number of things I've knitted. But you know... why not... fairs are fun and I'd like to hang out with folks who enter handmade or homegrown wares in the country fair. So off to the fair we went!

fair 1


fair 2


fair 3


fair 4


fair 6


fair 7


fair 8


fair 9


fair 10


fair 12


fair 13


fair 14

I love small country fairs so much. The animals, the colors, the late summer sunshine. My very favorite part was hanging out near the animals on Sunday evening. It was the last day of the fair and the animals were all being moved to their trailers while the pens were broken down. Seeing young folks tend to their animals with incredible strength and care (it turns out those 600 pound cows really do not want to go back in the trailers), with manure caked boots and sun-kissed shoulders... it's difficult to explain, but there was just something about watching this kind of work that made me feel at peace. Witnessing the ability and selflessness these young adults and children displayed was comforting. I could have watched them forever. 

fair 15

Eventually I went to collect my shawl from a barn that held all kinds of crafts and blue ribbon vegetables. What a sight! I always think of the gardeners in Wallace and Gromit when visiting all those award winning vegetables. 

Speaking of blue ribbons, much to my surprise...

shawl 8

... well, how about that.  What an exciting day at the fair. 

Here We Go!





homeschool 2




homeschool 1

With pencils sharpened and protein snacks at every workspace, we begin a new homeschool year... in a new room! Separate dining rooms are overrated, yes? (Please say yes.) Our Montessori roots are so happy in a well prepared environment. This is the perfect space in our home to make it all happen. So happy to get started!

Wishing you a great start to your week. :)

This Week In My Garden : : August 22

Hey everyone! I'm going to try a slightly different format today... a little more explaining as I go. Thanks for visiting! :)

822 - 2

 This morning in the front garden. 

A pretty good example of a late August garden. Leaves yellowing, plants dying back. Weeds neglected, but they're beginning to die too. Still, certain things are thriving. Those pole beans back there were so slow to produce this year, but this morning I picked my first few handfuls. 

822 3

I've probably said it each week this summer - but seriously, this overturned tomato cage trellis system for cucumbers is fantastic. We only planted two beds, each about 4 feet long, and I think we've pulled close to 5 bushels of cucumbers from these couple of rows. 

If you're short on space, definitely give this a try. I think they'd grow even taller and perhaps produce more given the space, next year we're going to use taller cages. 

822 4

The first handful of pole beans! What a long wait it's been.  

822 5

 The potatoes are slowly dying back. A little later this year, but I think I planted later too. I hope they're doing okay under there... my early sneak peaks have given mixed reviews. We really do need rain at this point, I think they'd appreciate some of that very much.

822 -6

This morning in the back garden. 

Oh, the back garden. I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea to have this angle be my main weekly shot. Those pole beans (yes, more back here) and the tomato plants sure do block the view. As does the chicken tractor in progress... ahem.

822 13

This is a little better! Taken from the other side.   

822 - 7

Adam brought me up a milk crate to sit on while picking beans and it has become my very favorite part of the garden. Such a back saver! My aunt came over to help pick beans and I think she picked for 1 1/2 hours and only got through 1 1/2 rows. We have no bean shortage this year, that is for sure. Plenty for eating, plenty for the freezer, more than plenty for sharing. 

822 9


822 8


822 10


822 11


822 15

 Everyday there is something to harvest, tie up, pull back, thin, or mulch. And probably water, too. I'm experimenting this year with not actually watering the garden (aside from early seeds), and depending solely on the rainfall. This week has really been the first where I've started wishing (on behalf of my tomato plants) for rainfall. We are definitely in need now. I broke down last night and watered the tomatoes, so hopefully they'll continue on their ripening journey - which is so slow this year. My neighbor has been gardening here for twenty years and does not recall a later tomato harvest. People have a lot of ideas about why that is... too much rain, too little rain, too humid, too dry... but honestly, I think this summer has felt quite typical so I can't quite make sense of it. 

This week I started picking a few that are nearly ripe, it seems we've turned the corner. I just hope we can get these nearly 40 plants that are dripping with fruit ripened before it cools down too much. 

But... (and I'm knocking on every piece of wood around me)

... so far, no late blight. But I am keeping the closest of tabs on things and remaining hopeful.

How are your tomatoes doing? Late? Early? Abundant?

822 14

 This is the state of my squash beds. Kind of dwindling, kind of pest filled. What a weird year. Summer squash and zucchini produced abundantly, even with the vine borer infestation. The watermelons are slowly ripening, muskmelons are fragrant, ripe and incredibly juicy (though not very sweet....?), and the red kuri is hanging on, even though it faced root rot and then vine borer, but they are smaller than the ones I've brought home from the farmers market in the past. 

This has been the most temperamental part of our garden, and of course that means it has taught us the most. There are quite a few things we'll try differently here next year. 

  • floating row covers in the early part of the season, before flowering
  • more vertical growing options for butternut
  • even more space overall (although the summer squash had plenty of space)
  • if we do suspect vine borer, try digging it out (I know, gross) and replanting the stem in the soil
822 17


822 16


822 18


822 - 1

I actually didn't take too many pictures of our harvest baskets this week, it is all happening so fast! We picked about three times the amount of beans as pictured here and dozens of cucumbers. 

But those tomatoes? That is what we wait all year for. Finally! 

This week we are harvesting:

  • salad greens
  • bok choy
  • swiss chard
  • pole beans
  • bush bean
  • yellow wax beans
  • haricot verts
  • cucumbers 
  • new potatoes
  • musk melon
  • basil, dill, cilantro, oregano, mint, lemon balm
  • yellow squash
  • zucchini
  • TOMATOES! just a few :)

I'm joining Amanda today...

What's happening in your garden? Feel free to share a few thoughts (or a blog link)

Weekly Homeschool Planner (for you!)


(Does anyone else find it strange that I labeled the binder with "binder" - I am such a Virgo.)

A few of you took notice of the Weekly Homeschool Planner in my post last week, so I thought I'd offer it to you as a printable today. These things are quite personal, aren't they? It took me a few years of using another plan (that I liked very much) to realize just how I might tweak it and make it my own. A custom fit for our unique family. 

The most unique aspect to our routine is that we only "do school" four days a week here at home due to being at homeschool coop one day a week. This isn't that unusual for homeschoolers, and the coop itself has plenty of great classes and experiences, but it doesn't mimic the things we have going on here the other four days. 

Most planners I've seen are based on a five day week. I wanted something that planned out a four day week and was one sided (the one I had been using was two sided - not a big deal, but not ideal).


I never plan more than a week at a time. I do have an overall year long agenda, but the day to day details and expectations are planned weekly. Life happens, things change. It's discouraging to sit down in August and plan out the first half of the school year only to have it "fall apart" by late September. I was actually given this wise advice by a school teacher friend of mine. Also, if certain things do not get covered during the week, I can roll them into next week's plan as I write that up.

Having a plan saves so much time. Friday afternoons are the best time for me plan out our next week. I actually look forward to this time, marking the close of our week as we enter the weekend. And when Monday morning rolls around... well, that is when having a plan can really pay off. 

While a plan is a great tool for organizing your week, it also provides a record for all that you've done on the back end. My state does not require any sort of record or report from our school year, so I don't have to keep track for this purpose. Once a student enters their high school years however, if the family is planning for college it can be beneficial to have a record of all that was done, including samples of work. 


One of my favorite ways to record our school year is through a private blog. Typing keeps up with my thoughts more quickly than handwriting, so this is an efficient method for me. Plus, it allows me to include photos and samples (through attached files) of Emily's work. When I sit down weekly (or every few days) to write on our homeschool blog, I can refer back to our Weekly Homeschool Plan to accurately log all that we've done.


 A few notes about the planner:

  • It includes three pages. Page one is a brief example of how I use the planner based on the subjects and activities we do. Page two is a four day weekly plan and page three is a five day weekly plan. Use whichever suits your week best.
  • There are links for pdf, word doc., and pages printables. I'm not an expert, but on my end I was able to type right in the fields of the word doc. and pages versions (which is how I'll be using this planner). Typing is smaller and neater than my own handwriting. 
  • "Special" is a term used to describe extra classes we may do such as herbal studies, afternoon of hiking,  dog agility with Scout, baking, sewing, etc. These categories vary so much they don't require a spot on the planner specifically. We do something in this category at least two times a week.
  • "Coop" is a slot for any homework Emily may have for our weekly homeschool coop. She is also teaching a writing class this semester so planning will need to be done for that. 
  • In the interest of space it works for me to combine like-subjects in one section. Math and Finance for instance are two different classes, but are similar and can be planned in one section.
  • Each week I make two copies of the completed planner, one for my binder and one for Emily to have in her workspace. This allows her to know what is expected and how to best plan her days.




If you'd like to try out this planner:


I hope this helps a few of you, feel free to share with anyone that could use it. 

Happy homeschooling!

This Week In My Garden : : August 15


Two weeks ago, in the back garden. (August 1)

815 - 12

This morning, in the back garden.

815 - 13


815 - 14


815 - 15


815 - 17


815 - 18


815 - 20


815 - 21

 *     *     *     *     *


 Two weeks ago, in the front garden.

815 - 1

 This morning, in the front garden.

815 - 3


815 - 4


815 - 5


815 - 9


815 - 6


815 - 7


815 - 8


815 - 10




815 - 23


815 - 22

I'm so in love with our garden, even if my dozens and dozens of tomatoes refuse to ripen. 

Today I must let these photos speak for themselves as I've got quite a list of things to take care of here at home.

But things are good. So much bounty, and so much tending. The weather has been beautiful for the last several days and it's been such a pleasure to spend time among the rows. 

Aside from the story these pictures can haopefully tell, I would like to share one exciting bit of news...

815 - 11

 ... we have eggs! Look at these plump and bushy tailed happy egg laying girls. All is well in the hen yard. 


This week we are harvesting:

  • swiss chard
  • bok choy
  • kale
  • collard greens
  • new potatoes
  • cucumbers
  • salad greens
  • basil, dill, cilantro, chives, oregano, sage, mint, stevia
  • a few sungold tomatoes
  • yellow wax beans
  • green bush beans
  • haricot vert
  • yellow summer squash
  • zucchini
  • watermelon


I'm joining Amanda today...

What's happening in your garden? Feel free to share a few thoughts (or a blog link)

For Today

daybook 2


daybook 3


daybook 4


daybook 5


daybook 1

Outside my window... 

Geese. For the last four or five days flocks have been seen and heard overhead, flying south. Oh yes, it's happening.  Also, at this very moment rain is falling. My garden is happy. 

I am thinking...

That my lack of goods to put together a proper lunch for Adam means I can't put off the grocery store for one more day. Or I'm just not being creative enough.

I am thankful...

For my husband who stayed indoors most of this past weekend (of perfect weather) in order to get our new homeschool room built, arranged, and organized. Though he did sleep outside both nights, so that got a little outdoor time in. ;)

In the kitchen...

Chicken stock simmering, three kinds of beans waiting to be blanched and frozen, and summer squash in need of shredding and freezing. Speaking of freezers, mine are in need of some serious organization. 

I am wearing...

A calico skirt and long sleeve tee. (Long sleeves!)

I am creating...

A new yoga space. My first dedicated yoga space in this house... it's not fancy or very big, but I am so happy to have this corner. 

I am going...

To the food co-op. That is it, one stop then I'll come home.

I am wondering...

If I missed the deadline for craft entries to the first fair I'd like to enter some goods in. Must check on that today. I've never done this before and it sounds like fun!

I am reading...

Living Ahimsa Diet. 

I am looking forward to...

Our new school year. We have some really great things planned for this year, and I'm kind of loving the confidence that grows with each year of experience on this homeschool path. 

I am learning...

To be here now. This is my life long lesson. 

Around the house...

Putting finishing touches on rooms that were rearranged, swapped out, and redecorated. Whoa. It's been a crazy few weeks in this department... what started as one project snowballed into many. 

I am pondering...

Why I never created a customized homeschool schedule/routine before. It seems like it will be a good fit for us - these things are so personal, you know? For instance, we only "do school" four days a week at home because we are at co-op on one day. Most pre-made planning sheets are for five days per week. Grateful for this one little printable that will make its way across my desk each week. 

A favorite quote for today...

"Work is not always required... there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected." - George MacDonald

Joining Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook. 

This week...

august 9 - 2


august 9 - 3


august 9 - 4


august 9 - 6


august 9 - 5


august 9 - 1

... is the one that got away. For sure.

Next week, please feel free to take your sweet time. 

Where the Ladies Live


Today we have a little Monday afternoon tour of the chicken coop... enjoy your visit!



coop 15

Sometime in April a friend gifted us a small flock of baby chicks. They spent some time indoors, then were moved to the garage. Eventually they were big enough and the temperatures warmed up outside, so we moved them to their permanent home outdoors. 

coop 3


coop 6

The coop itself was a hand me down from our neighbor. It is so well built but did have a few things that benefited from an upgrade. When we first took ownership of this coop, the only way to access the inside (aside from a small door for the ladies to go in and out and small side doors for egg collecting) was by removing the entire roof. This would make cleaning the coop a two person job (for me anyway) and we wanted easier access in case of illness or emergency too.

I should say that I'm not really in the know when it comes to builder's speak, so please pardon my attempt at explaining the coop and pen details.

coop 5

Basically, the framework for the roof was in great shape, but the asphalt shingles were in need of replacing. Adam pulled those off, including the plywood under the shingles. We were left with the roof frame, in excellent well-built condition. He added new plywood, metal roofing, and capped it off at the top seam so no water could enter. The roof was secured to the coop, we had other plans for creating an access point for cleaning and such.

While he had the roof off he decided a new floor couldn't hurt, so that was replaced too.

coop 7

A large section of the wall on the side of the coop was cut out, and Adam used that wall to construct a door. I love this door! It is nice and wide and because he has the entire coop raised on stumps (they are partially buried in the ground for incredible stability), we can push the wheelbarrow right up to the coop, open the door, and shovel the bedding right into it. Easy as can be.

coop 12


coop 8

The daily access door for the chickens was rebuilt too. We still have to further secure the egg collection doors (that is why they are currently boarded up), but if you notice the simple wooden latches on those, that is what was on the main door too. I know of some crafty critters around here that could open that pretty easily with the swipe of a paw.

So, when the chicken entrance was rebuilt, a heavy sliding latch was added. We also secure it with a carabiner for added protection... and because every project needs at least one carabiner. When they are closed up for the night, things are pretty tight and secure so they can rest easy. 

coop 4


coop 10


coop 11

The pen is spacious and was designed based on some ideas I collected (like this one). 

We positioned the coop off to one side of the pen so a rain water collection system can be added down the road. A pitched metal roof is perfect for that and we do not have easy access to water in the back field for the garden so this would be helpful. 

Adam built a ladder of sorts for roosting, using very thick branches. They love it! (A tip for building one of these - pre drill the holes before screwing it together. This prevents the wood from splitting.) We also added a few heavy stumps which they enjoy sitting on as they watch the world go by. 

A chicken tractor will be built next (after those secure latches are added to the egg collection doors) so the girls can roam around unsupervised. For now though, we are outside so much during the day that they follow us around eating all the grass and bugs they desire. 

Scout is learning to herd them back into the coop/pen at night too. Hysterical and so awesome. He's a good boy. 

coop 14


coop 1


coop 16


coop 18

I'm sorry this is kind of a lame description of everything. I didn't build any of it so I'm not really qualified to explain things. But I did take plenty of pictures so hopefully those are worth a thousand words for those of us that are into this sort of thing. 

coop 13


coop 17

Now that the girls have such happy and cozy digs, they can feel free to leave a few eggs for us anytime now... soon. Oh! Also, pretty much this whole thing was designed around my fixation on accessing the pen through a screen door. That's not so crazy, right?

This Week In My Garden : : August 1


Last week, in the back garden. (July 25)


This morning, in the back garden.




 Our sorry looking Red Kuri.

august 1 - 9

 But there is fruit! I hope it will grow and thrive. 





august 1 - 1

A red one!

august 1 - 7


august 1 - 8

 *      *     *     *     *


 Last week, in the front garden. 


 This morning, in the front garden.

august 1 - 4


august 1 - 5


august 1 - 6








august 1 - 3


august 1 - 11


august 1 - 2




august 1 - 10

It's been a week full of summer living and I haven't been able to be on the computer much. Sorry to jump right into another garden post with nothing in between, hopefully I'll have more to post this week. 

This week our garden is producing lots of vegetables, and lots of pests! ;) 

In addition to the suspected root rot on our Red Kuri Squash, we are now dealing with squash vine borer on the zucchini. So, quite a bit of time has been spent reading about that this week. While the plants seem to be on a slow decline, they are still producing quite a bit. I'm going to try the method of removing the borer from the stalk and burrying the stem under dirt to re-root. Hopefully next year we can prevent it from happening in the first place. 

Looking ahead to next year, I'd like to research more trellis type systems for melons and winter squash varieties. I continue to be amazed at just how much space these plants take up, but always think those bigger fruits will be too heavy to grow vertically. Then I googled it... wow! It just might be possible after all. 

I am so in love with the European Cucumbers and will definitely plant those again. 

One thing I probably won't plant again is Haricot Verts. I love them, but the yield doesn't really warrant the space they require. The more standard bush beans are better providers for the same space. 

Next Spring we hope to lose the front garden and expand the back garden to accommodate all of our vegetable garden plans. It would be great to have everything in one place. 

Rain is coming later today which is perfect timing because there are several baskets of vegetables waiting for me in the kitchen. Time to get busy!


This week we are harvesting:

  • swiss chard
  • kale
  • yellow wax beans
  • green beans
  • cucumbers
  • yellow squash
  • zucchini
  • our first tomato!
  • fresh herbs
  • the last of the blueberries and raspberries


Thank you for visiting my garden today. :)


I'm joining Amanda today...

What's happening in your garden? Feel free to share a few thoughts (or a blog link)