Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Hi all!  Lots of good stuff is popping up in the garden.  I had a great harvest on Monday.  I really need to go out today since we had a torrential rainfall last night and clean some things up out in the garden.  I have cilantro falling down everywhere.  Here's what I harvested:

I picked a ton of lettuce and prepared salads for my husband to go to work.  The zucchini are gorgeous...look at that can't get that in the store unless there is wax and who knows what else on them.  Most exciting is that my beets are doing fabulous this year.  I picked three on Monday and I expect to pick many more the rest of this week.

The way I prepare them is wrap them up in aluminum foil with some olive oil and salt and roast them in the oven until they are soft.  I cut off all the leaves, but I leave about an inch of stem left...that prevents your beets from "bleeding" out everywhere and making a terrible mess.  Once they are baked, let them cool slightly and use a paper towel to rub the skin off.  Really, it's quite easy and the mess is kept at a minimum.  The family either eats them like that or I cube them up and put them in salads.  It's quite delicious and makes me so happy to know it came from garden to table!  

Another thing that is coming on like crazy around here are the raspberries.  Oh, what joy!  The kids pick them for me and rinse them off and put them in the freezer.  Note: anyone who picks gets the special privilege of eating them!!!  I then wait until they are all harvested (mine are the type that ripen all summer, not all at once) and I make raspberry mango jam--I call it the nectar of God because it is soooooo good!!!  

I do have to scare the birds and squirrels off, but I don't mind sharing a few.  Next year, I think I will be covering the whole patch with bird netting to keep the critters away.  We have double the harvest of last year.  I need to find some good raspberry recipes...feel free to share!!!  I hope all is growing well for you!  Blessings  to you and have a lovely week.

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, July 29, 2011

Favorite vegetable of the summer

This is by far my favorite new variety for the garden this summer!  It's been such a fun thing to grow and everyone gets such a kick out of it when I show it to them!

This is an eight ball zucchini!!!  The plants are quite prolific--you can pick them at golf ball size up to a softball size---this one is probably in between.  They are beautiful and delicious. Between these and my regular zucchini, I have about 14 cups of zucchini frozen and shredded in the freezer, plus the plenty we have eaten already.  We just can't get enough zucchini around here!!!  Can you imagine stuffing one of these for dinner???  I'm going to do it!!!  I'll let you know how it turns out!

What new varieties are you growing???  Have a great weekend...I'm still behind in posts because I have so much to blog about, but we've got an exciting weekend planned so I'll have to tell you all about it next time!  Have a beautiful weekend...blessings!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recycled Jean Quilt is Finished!!!

So much has been going on the last two weeks that I don't even know where to start!  I will keep this post to this quilt.  I had worked on getting it quilted and I really had to hurry because I have a daughter who was entering an apron in the county fair (that is going to be a whole other post!).  I hate having to recalibrate the machine because it took me forever to switch everything over to sew on the denim.  But lo and behold, it is finished!!!!  This is our summer picnic quilt.

There are six of us in the family and every one of us has jeans in this quilt.  The sweltering heat made it really uncomfortable to sew this behemoth!!!  It weighs about seven pounds and I was sweating while I was quilting it on my machine. At one point, I had to go outside with my machine and set up in the shade because it was over 85 my house!!!!  I like how it turned out...because I used some stretchy jeans, some of the corners do not match perfectly...OH WELL!!!  This is one of those workhorse kind of quilts so I'm not too worried about the imperfections...that's the whole point of this quilt.  It's all been recycled and getting new life.  

The quilt laid out in the driveway.

Detail of the center...again from jeans we had! (sorry, bad picture)

I hope you are all having a productive summer.  I can finally check one project off my list!  How about you???  Blessings to you, and may you keep cool in this heat!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Garden happenings

I don't know about your garden, but one of my self-seeding plants in the garden is my cilantro.  I can seriously consider it a weed because it grows everywhere!!!!  Every year, I let it flower because it is so inviting to all the beneficial insects and then it goes to seed (which I try to control) and then it's growing season is over while everything else starts ramping tomatoes.  I always make salsa and can it and you have no idea how infuriated I am with myself because I have to buy cilantro...from the store...and it's not very cheap...and I had pounds of it weeks before!!!!  Well, no more, my friends...I picked half a pound of it today and I could still get a lot more...I'll keep picking as this week progresses.  I'm freezing it so that I have plenty when it's time for salsa making or if I want to make Chipotle-style burritos!!!  I saw a blog where they clean the cilantro, take off stems, barely put olive oil on it so that everything gets an extremely light coat of it, then I bagged it up and stuck it in the freezer.  I am so thrilled!  Here's what half a pound of cilantro looks like:

The salad spinner I have the cilantro in is not a small one--it's a pretty large hefty one that can really hold some greens!  (I got it at the thrift store for around $5...this brand usually runs around $'s already earned it's keep around here!)

Other homestead updates

The garden is just swinging along.  I have my own personal army of's been so exciting to see that because it helps me feel that the garden is in balance. The lacewings are out, too, so the beneficials are really working hard this summer season.

 I will probably have some yellow squash and zucchini by the end of the week.  We've had some beautiful salads lately and we are just chomping at the bit for the zucchini!!! The peas are prolific and tomatoes are forming left and right.  All in all, it's been a good growing season so far.  

The chickens have been so fun to watch and feed.  I give them tons of garden scraps and I never knew chickens could "honk" like geese.  It's the funniest thing.  Here is something I found on clearance at our local grocery store.  I wanted to do a rooster stencil on our chicken coop, but the bargains never cease to amaze me.  This is the before...

It's a rooster chalkboard.  I paid $3.59 for it because it no longer came with it's stand.  No problem.  I didn't want it as a chalkboard anyway!  Here's where it is now!

This is actually the door of our chicken coop.  We painted the rooster white like the trim, and I hardly had to put any effort into it!!!

Here's the actual full coop pretty much finished.  I have one more thing I have to do with it if I get some time, but it is fully functional and complete!  My husband did such a nice job!!!  The flowers on the front give it a nice touch, too.

The yellow flowers, calibrochoa, I picked up from the store, and just peeking up in the back is one of two agastache (will be purple) that I started from seed indoors.  They should be a striking combination!!!  

I hope all is growing well in your part of the world.  To all my fellow Americans, happy Fourth of July!!!  Be safe and God bless!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Canning on the Homestead

First Canning Session of the Year
What to do with all those radishes???

With the several pounds of radishes I have harvested, I had to figure out something to do with them.  Only my husband and youngest daughter really like them, so I decided to make some radish relish so I can preserve them so they will last.  The recipe I used is here.  I have a feeling my husband is really going to like it.  He tried it with all the raw ingredients and said it had good flavor.  I'm sure it will only get better as time goes on and it has time to mellow out.  It gets such a pretty pink and rosy color.  I made two batches and got about 10 half-pints of relish!

This is a nice recipe because you have to let the whole concoction sit for three hours so you have time to get all your jars ready or do other things.  Once that is done, you boil the ingredients for awhile and then jar them up and process (again, see recipe link).  I look forward to seeing how this will taste in a few weeks, but I can rest knowing that none of the radishes went to waste!  Plus, all the tops of the radishes were fed to the chickens.  They loved them and get so excited when they see me coming!  They have been so fun...hopefully, after this coming weekend, I can show you the finished coop!

I hope your gardens are growing beautifully!  Have you started canning anything???  Happy preserving and blessings!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chicken and garden updates

Wow...time sure does fly when you're gardening! I've got a bunch of updates so I will start with the chickens.  Here's the progression of our coop.

The coop with our salvaged window from a neighbor.

Hubby working on the run and the door has been added on.

Chickens already using the run!

Hubby is still finishing up the coop.  He's got to put on the chicken wire on the back ventilation and he's finishing up the floor.  The chickens are seven weeks old so they really needed some sunshine.  They stayed in the run all night and since it's warm, they have fared very well.  I couldn't sleep because I was so worried about a fox getting his paws/claws through the chicken wire...tonight we'll have them locked up in the coop!  I really need some sleep, haha!  The only supplies we bought for this coop are the screws and hinges, the chicken wire, shingles for the roof (I bet I could have found these but we really needed them now) and the paint (hello, $5 oops paint at Home Depot that normally runs over $37 for one gallon--who can afford that???)  My husband did a great job and we need to put up the trim and finish painting.  I can't wait until it's finished.

The garden is coming along well!  I've had my battles though.  Flea beetles are now prevalent in my backyard and they love the radishes!!!  I think I will continue to sow radishes so that the flea beetles will only bother them...a trap crop.  This is the first year I've grown radishes and they have turned out beautiful (minus the holey leaves!). 

They truly are the jewels of the garden and are so lovely to photograph!

The greens are coming on strong as well.  We had our first garden salad last night with the radishes.  My spinach has turned out really nice this year.  I've kept them spaced properly and they have just flourished.

I am up against the insects, though.  The ants have gone crazy and now I have the flea beetles.  It's an ongoing struggle, and I've found aphids, too.  I've spied a few ladybugs so between me squishing and the ladybugs devouring, we may stay on top of things.  Here's one last shot of the garden from an "aerial" perspective.  This is taken from my bedroom window.

I've laid down hay as a mulch between the boxes.  I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet, but I consider it the cheap man's pathway.  I would love to put flagstone or brick or pavers down, but that's not in the budget any time soon, so we'll see how this works for me.  It gets quite windy sometimes so we'll see if the hay is still there in a few weeks.  I hope your gardening and homesteading is going well.  Let me know how your garden grows and happy homesteading!  Blessings!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Recycling in the Suburban Homestead Garden

I haven't been posting much because of all the spring preparations.  It's been nothing but seedling and seed-starting "carnage" around here.  There are a lot of ways to recycle common household items that would normally get thrown away to use in seed-starting.  Here are some things I do:

I reuse disposable aluminum cooking containers.  Whether I do bulk cooking or acquire them through friends after an event, I have plenty to use for my seedlings.  The aluminum helps reflect the sun's warmth and light.  I start my heat-loving plants, like squashes, this way.  In the middle tray are my sunflowers.  I've never started sunflowers early before.  However, this year, I really want some bohemoths that grow 16 feet tall so I'm going to see if this works.  What do I do with the sunflowers now?  It's still a bit early for them and we've had tons of rain so I gave them each their own cozy little greenhouse.

That's right--more recycling!  These are two liter soda bottles that I've been collecting and cut up to house my seedlings right in the ground.  If it gets too warm, I can unscrew the lid or take the whole thing off.  This will keep the soil around them warm until they can get established and the air temperature finally warms up around here!  It's supposed to be near 75-80 this weekend so I'll be sure to pop these off so they don't get fried.  (You can do this with virtually any large plastic container you have:  milk jugs, juice containers, etc.)

When you're out shopping and checking out clearance items, look at things that you can use more than once.  I was out a couple of weeks ago and they had Easter candy on clearance.  Look at this container:

These were filled with delicious gummie candies for $0.20 each.  I was not interested in the candy (although we all loved them); it was the container I wanted!  It's perfect for soaking seeds--you can use both the lid and bottom for this.

Here are some Morning Glories ready to go out.  (Remember to nick their hard seed coat before you soak.)  These were the perfect size so I soaked all my morning glories and sweet peas this way!  Perfect containers--plus, I can save seeds in these later in the summer.  Here's another scenario:  you're shopping and you get the family a rotisserie chicken for dinner.  Cook up that carcass for stock, and don't throw out the plastic container the chicken came in.  It is perfect for housing those little peat pots and comes with it's own lid!

Back to two-liter soda bottles:  here's a pumpkin I started early.  I cut the two-liter bottle two-thirds of the way up, and then I use the top by inverting it to keep the greenhouse effect.  Once it's warm enough, you won't need the lid and you can transplant.  

Again, you can use pretty much any plastic container you have around.  I also use yogurt cups for seedlings, and in some of the pictures I have plastic cups that I fill with seed starting medium.  I put most things under lights in my basement, but I have quickly run out of room and one of my lights has blown out (argh!).  So, I am trying to get things rotated through as fast as I can to get them out in the garden.  The weather is still a bit shaky around here, but I am trying to keep up the best I can.  My whole point of this post is to show that there are so many things we can recycle to suit our purposes.  I hope this inspires you to get planting or get creative.  

I'd love to hear some of the innovative ways you start your seeds.  Until next time, happy gardening!
Blessings to you!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Backyard Chicken Coop

Much has been going on here and there's just not enough time!!!!  As I said in an earlier post, my Mother's Day and birthday gifts this year would be a nice chicken coop.  I have been scouring Craig's list and everywhere looking for free lumber so we could build it for CHEAP!  No such luck.  So that changed things a little.  I wanted a free-standing coop in the back of the yard, but with no free lumber, the budget wasn't going to allow for it.  Plan B was to convert the bottom of our kids' fort-style playground.  My youngest is 9 so she's really the only one who plays under there.  It is 4' x 8' under there and would have made a fine coop...I just didn't like it being so close to the neighbors.  So my husband and I head off to Home Depot.  I turn my head and show him the new townhomes being built by us, and ta da, there are three ginormous trash dumpsters full of scrap lumber! Oh, how the Lord provides!!!

My husband and I started filling up the car.  Someone from the complex turned us in so the property manager came to see what we were doing.  The fine man told us the dumpsters were all fair game so we continued on. I walked home because the car was full (we literally were about 3 blocks from our house) and then my hubby went a second time with my son for more.  My son even found a box of nails in the dumpster.  It was amazing what we got for free!  Here's a couple of pics of the amazing wood we found.

Our pile of free plywood!

Can you believe this was all free???

We feel so blessed!  My husband proceeded to start some of the framing and got the base done.  It was scorching hot outside (which makes me so happy), so the fellows were drained.  Here's what they got done so far:

Those square bases that elevate the coop were also free.  They are made of wood and I imagine they are used for columns or some sort of support.  They came in three feet lengths and are really strong.

More will get done this week, I'm sure, and I will keep you posted.  We kept the coop dimensions the same...4 x 8.  

On another note for Mother's Day, I hope you all had a beautiful day.  Here's what my children made for me: garden signs!  Pretty simple and practical and a whimsical little touch for the garden.

Aren't they cute?  My two others busy working...

And here's the final product:

We may end up adding a bit of color to the background because the white is really white, but we'll see.  The kiddos did a good job and it will be a lovely addition to the garden.  I hope you are all doing well and having a lovely spring!!!  Blessings!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Garden beseiged with...snow!

Here we are at the end of April and last night it snowed again.  It's not an unexpected thing around here in Colorado.  It just puts a "damper" on your gardening.

I put out my pea seeds...for some reason I plant so late.  The snow always puts me off.  In Colorado, it seems we go from the end of winter to summer.  Spring is filled with snowstorms and hail storms and all that fun stuff and then BAM, it's summer.  It's a bit annoying, but we're making due.  My lettuce and spinach haven't sprouted yet (I probably wouldn't sprout either with this kind of weather).  Anyways, like I said with Easter, all of this will be gone by this afternoon.  We're due for some nice weather and the temps are going to warm up nicely for the latter part of this week.  My husband has been working so diligently on this backyard and rearranging our boxes and building some new ones.  I am excited for when August arrives because that's when the garden looks its best!

I will update with more photos once the backyard is semi-dry.  My husband is almost done!  I've also sown some mustard and collard greens (yummy) and am still sprouting things indoors under lights.  I need to start all my pumpkin and zucchini and squashes inside.

On the chick front, the little ladies are doing well!  They are growing like crazy!  My daughter's teacher actually bought chicks (since the incubator eggs did not hatch).  So my daughter brought home one more Buff Orpington.  That brings us up to nine I said, I think a few of the girls aren't actually girls, but we'll wait and see.

I hope your weather is nicer than mine.  I've been cruising the web and am living vicariously through your warm locations and wonderful gardens.  I wish you happy gardening!  Blessings!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Backyard Chickens

We now have our own little flock!
It is so exciting!  I have wanted chickens for years and here we have them.  We were going to get them from my daughter's enrichment program that she goes to one day a week.  They have been studying the life cycle of a chicken and had eggs in an incubator.  Unfortunately, there was a substitute one day and the incubator was left without electricity for a few hours.  Those poor babies aren't going to hatch.  We were so excited and couldn't take any more anticipation so on Good Friday I went and got eight little beauties.  (I love the little water use a mason jar that screws into the metal base...our little chick feeder is the same way.)

We can't get over how fast they are growing.  We have two Buff Orpingtons, two Barred Rocks, two black sex-linked crosses, and two reds (not Rhode Island, I just can't remember).  I have a keen sense that at least two of these fluffies are going to be roosters, so our flock will shrink, but we are so thrilled.

Everyday the children have been taking turns cleaning out their brooder and giving them fresh water twice a day.  My birthday is next month so I think my gift is going to be a lovely coop (I know I'm weird, but that's how I do things...I'd rather get something we can use!).

Look at the perfect wings already forming on the red to the right (that is Nugget, by the way).  Some names the kids picked out are Lazy, Daisy, Yolko, Sunshine, Mr. Feisty, Nugget, Friday, and Lily.  As a gardener, I'm excited about only one thing:  compost.  All that chicken poop is going to do wonders for my garden.  It's been my missing link because I've always had to buy fertilizer on top of the small amount of compost we make.  Not anymore!  These babies are just what we needed for this homestead!

Do you think she's happy???  My daughter and "Daisy."

Much is going on around here.  I hope you all are enjoying the tumultuous weather of spring. I hope we get some sun soon...I have lots of gardening to do!  Have a happy Monday, friends.  Blessings to you!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, Colorado Style!

This snow all started last night.  With a little sunshine, it will be gone, but only in Colorado can you have snow from Halloween to Easter (sometimes to Mother's Day).  I will be thankful for the moisture!

I hope you all have a blessed and precious Easter!!!  

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fantastic Food Friday

Giant Family Cookie Covered in Strawberries

So I usually do frugal food Friday, but this recipe is slightly more expensive unless you can get the berries for a really good price or grow them yourself.  Then it would be a great deal, plus it looks like a million bucks.  I learned to make this through Pampered Chef years ago and have made many adaptations to it since then.  The first thing you need to do is mix up a batch of your favorite chocolate chip cookies.  We all have our own recipe so I'm foregoing that step here.  Instead of making individual cookies, make one massive cookie.  If your cookie tray is rectangular, make it that shape.  Sometimes I use my stones and make a circle cookie.  Just remember that the cookie dough expands in the oven and you don't want any going off the sides of your tray into the hot oven so adjust the amount of dough.

Once baked and cooled, you can start with all your other ingredients and prep everything for assembly.  You will need:
1.  one package of cream cheese, softened
2.  one large bottle of marshmallow fluff
3.  one pound of strawberries, sliced
4.  half a package of chocolate chips, melted

Mix the cream cheese and marshmallow fluff.  This is your first layer.  Cover your cookie with it and spread generously.  Now arrange your strawberries over the whole thing.  Once finished with that, drizzle your melted chocolate over the whole thing making a pleasant pattern.  You can get creative and add all kinds of other things:  nuts of any variety, any type of chopped up chocolate bar, m&ms, etc.  The combinations are endless!

Hope you have fun with this!  It will feed a big crowd and would be a wonderful treat for Easter!  With that said, I hope you have a blessed Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Suburban Backyard Garden

Hello, friends.  We just got our computer back last night and I'm sooooo thrilled.  Now I can get back to my blogging.  Our backyard is undergoing a huge transformation.  We have raised beds, but after seeing a picture in a magazine I have gone mad and want to do something similar.  So my dear husband had to take some boxes apart and rearrange them and dig through some hard compounded ground, but progress is being made!

What you see going down the middle is going to be mirrored on the left side of it.  There will be an "alleyway" going down the center.  Out of the boxes we will have two long wooden poles of some sort (at least 8 feet long) that will all meet down the middle forming a very simple archway.  I'll be growing beans or anything else that vines.  Sun will still get through because it won't be solid.  They'll just grow up the poles.  We still have lots to do.  I will get all my greens seeded today.  As progress continues to be made I'll post more pics. 

To the right of the arbor is where we will be putting the chicken coop and run.  We are so excited to have chickens!  My daughter was getting them from her classroom.  We were hoping to have them by now but we've learned that the substitute teacher had the incubator off for two hours...sad, sad, sad.  We're not sure if we'll be getting chicks from them now.  We had our brooder all set up for them, too.  Thankfully, we literally live down the street from a feed store and I'm going to get some surprise chicks for Easter! 

Just to the right of the picture (not shown) we will be putting in a fire pit.  My husband has always wanted one so we're going to do it!  That's going to make for some fun evenings!

To the left of this picture is our swingset and the place I hang my laundry.

Because of my limited space, I hang everything on hangers.  I can put up twice the amount of laundry on these lines by doing so (at least two loads).  There are two things we have on this little suburban homestead that we can always count on:  sun and wind!  It makes for very speedy line drying!  Speaking of which, I have some loads of laundry to do. 

Many blessings to you and I look forward to seeing how your plots are shaping up!!!  Happy spring planting!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

When the children start to grow up...

I am here at the library as we are still under hostage to our hijacked computer.  I am blessed that we have such a wonderful library system where we can use the computers.  I just can't really upload any pictures which is a bummer because I love posting them for you.  It will probably be another week before I can post pics.

Until then, another reason I am at the library is that my daughter started working here at the little coffee shop in the library.  She got the job literally by the hand of God.  She didn't apply here although she applied at several other places.  We saw a friend that we hadn't seen in years and just started chatting it up in front of this coffee shop.  The lady in the coffee shop kept staring at us.  Well, turns out, the coffee shop owner is the neighbor of this friend I hadn't seen in years and wanted to hire my daughter.  How amazing is that?!!!  She got the job and has started working. 

Her first full day of training went quite miserably.  This little coffee shop has no drain so there is a portable tank that must be dumped out periodically in a separate location.  Well, the tank overflowed and her shoes and bottom of her pants were soaked, she had to dry mop it by hand and it just was so much information for her to take in during an intense eight hour training session.  As I took her home she was crying.

Have you ever noticed the moment your children actually started growing up?  It was during these moments that I realized that my daughter is truly embarking into adulthood.  She is 16 and I know that there are things that I won't be able to do for her or help her with.  She has her own battles to win and I have had to tell her on more than one occasion that she has a voice.  Yes, my daughter, you were blessed with a voice to ask questions with and advocate for will not always be around.  It's so hard yet necessary and scary all at the same time.  I know that I am going through some growing pains because I am being prepared for my children to grow up.  One day, my daughter may end up going to study in London...Lord, help me.  But I know that I am my children's biggest cheerleader and I am here to help guide their way until they can fly on their own.  That's the whold purpose of raising your children.  To prepare them...and along the way, we mothers are getting prepared for when the babies leave the nest and can take on the world as we have taught them.  It's bittersweet.  It's also exciting because the future holds so many rewarding moments that will reflect everything from the past.  She's learning.  I'm learning.  We are learning things together.  I pray that in all this, that I am preparing her well and that she will be ready.  It's all we can do:  pray and lead. 

I hope you had a beautiful weekend.  I am looking forward to getting my revamped machine so I can do more food and garden posts.  Until then, blessings to you!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Garden clean-up and technical difficulties...

It finally feels like spring...we cleaned out the garden last week and it's just itching to be planted!!!  I'm no fool, though, because the weather can change 50 degrees in one day.  I still have seedlings and can't wait for them to be planted.  We've decided to do some major rearranging of our boxes we've set up.  I'm very excited and can't wait to show you the before and afters!

Another exciting development-- we will be getting our chicks next week!  It's been my desire for a very long time to have backyard suburban chickens and we are getting them for FREE from my daughter's enrichment program...we can have up to ten birds (no roosters).  I can't wait for all that wonderful fertilizer for my garden.  I have much to do until we get them...

Which leads me to my next computer is having much technical difficulties and so I am here at our favorite place, the library.  As soon as I can get back online again, I will post pics and update you on the chicks.  Hopefully, we should have a handful by Tuesday.  I look forward to blogging all about the fluffy little guys and our adventures of keeping them away from our two cats, plus we will have to eventually devise some kind of impenetrable fortress in the backyard due to the cunning antics of the neighborhood foxes, not to mention all the prairie falcons and massive owl who lives near us.  It will be an experience! 

I hope you are having a great week!  Blessings to you and may you have a wonderful weekend at your homestead! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Living Gently--What does it mean to you?

To be gentle and live a gentle's easier said than done.  I do aspire to it everyday.  I am in the whirlwind of raising my children and taking them to different places at different times.  It can be exhausting.  However, my children range in age from 9-16 and they are such good children.  I am so blessed. You hear people discussing how they are going to dread their children turning into teenagers.  I will tell anyone that I simply love this stage of life.  It's a joy to have conversations and talks about the future without having to deal with bad behavior all the time. 

What does living gently mean to me?  Hmmmm.  I would have to say it connects me to the past.  I love to quilt and can and cook and garden.  It's a simple way of life.  Not many women do these things any more.  I also am teaching my daughters these things-it keeps these ways alive.  I am striving to be more gentle in spirit--I can tend to be a bit feisty, especially when you put me behind the wheel of a car, hahahaha!  There's no perfection around here, believe me!  I still have lots of areas to work on, but the point is, I am striving to better myself and my surroundings.  I am a lifelong learner and I want to continue to learn new (or old) skills.  Does that mean we live like pilgrims???  Absolutely not.  My children are educated and learn all the new technology through computer classes...they HAVE to be able to thrive and soar in the times they live in.  We use technology to our benefit and are not slaves to it. 

So what do I pass on to my son?  I'm sure you've read about the embroidering that goes on around here.  Well, my son is extremely artistic and he is ALL boy.  Boys are so much different than girls.  I read a line in Dr. Dobson's book Raising Up Boys that I will never forget..."Mothers raise boys.  Fathers raise men."  Doesn't that line give you chills?  It is so vital for a boy to have a close relationship with his father.  Fortunately, we have that in our family.  In fact, tomorrow my son and husband go to hunter safety class.  My son will get his certificate and will be able to hunt for the first time this year (he's been hunting before; he wasn't allowed to shoot anything).  We will get him his very own rifle for his birthday and then he can be a part of providing food for our family.  He is very respectful to me...any time he sees an opportunity, he asks if I need help.  He does his chores and he is constantly drawing or making amazing creations out of paper or cardboard.  Since all my children were little, I have always encouraged creativity and supplied them with every sort of crafting notion they could use.  It's their imaginations that spark it all and I simply love to see their creations.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention our love for books. ( I could do a whole post on that one! )

Gentle living--a connection to the past, simplicity, creativity, a deep and abiding respect and love for one another as we live our lives.  Does it mean perfection?  No.  We are works in progress.  But we do it all together.

What does gentle living mean to you?  I hope you make headway into your gentle life...I'm about to go *tackle* mine for the day, haha!  Blessings to you!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Our House of Embroidery..on a budget

As we are on spring break, I have lovely projects set up for my daughters.  I recently found some flour sack towels on clearance at our local Sam's club.  They were on clearance because the plastic wrap was damaged...they marked them down half-price which means bargain for me!  I paid a little over $6 for 12 of them which is a very good deal!  We were at the craft store yesterday and you would end up paying nearly $7 for two.

Freshly laundered flour sack towels
While at the craft store, I also picked up on sale the Aunt Martha's transfer patterns for $0.99 each.  I bought five--each of my girls picked one for themselves and I picked two.  As you know, my oldest does embroidery.  I've also taught my younger two to backstitch so they are learning redwork.  It's really a lot of fun and there are so many fun patterns to choose from.  Here's a sneak peek at what they are working on:

A lovely rose pattern
This is my youngest daughter who is nine years old.  As you can see, her stitches can use some improvement, the sweet little darling, but already since I've started typing, she has done a great job staying to the lines.  All it takes is practice, practice, practice.

Running horses pattern
This is my middle daughter who is fourteen.  She adores anything with a horse on it!  She would love to have horses in her future.  She does excellent backstitch and I can't wait to see how this turns out for her!

A pattern of a colonial lady with her umbrella

My oldest is working on a bit of a harder pattern because it involves different stitches...she has much more experience so she will use some lazy daisy stitches and french knots.  
It's turning out to be quite the productive day and quite inexpensive.  These transfer patterns are good for additional transfers, plus there were many more patterns they haven't used yet.  The cost for this little project per child came out to $1.45 each.  It will give them hours of enjoyment and they will have a nice finished piece when they are all done. 

What fun projects are you doing on a budget?  Hope you are having a lovely Wednesday...blessings!