Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Back from Christmas

We're back home and trying to dig ourselves out of the piles of laundry and presents.  It was great to visit family for Christmas.  Now we've got some projects to tackle at home.

The chickens faired pretty well while we were gone, but they were eager to get out of the coop.  They are currently ranging all over the yard.  All 16 are still accounted for, and they are still laying around a dozen eggs a day.  One day last week before we left, all 15 hens laid an egg, so I know all of them are currently laying.

Here are a few pictures from Christmas:

Aww... the kids at my parents' for Christmas.

At Mamaw's later that day.  I should have had Elijah tuck in his shirt before the picture!

This is the stained glass window I made for my sister-in-law.  Nathaniel made the frame.  She's thinking of hanging it as a diamond, where the middle will look more like a cross.  I made it so you could pick which way to hang it.

And lastly, some really cheesy smiles at Aunt Sherri's house.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sewing Owls

Today, we started making owls.  The kids had seen some felt owls on etsy that are dressed like Batman, and the boys were eager to make them.  Lydia has been begging me to teach her how to sew for some time, too, so this seemed like the perfect project for all three kids.
 I cut out the owls from felt, and I sewed the eyes and nose on Lydia's.  She then climbed up in my lap to learn how to whip stitch it shut.  I thought she'd get bored, but she stuck around to sew the whole owl.

She is very proud of herself.  Nathaniel took these pictures of us sewing, because she kept exclaiming, "Look, Daddy!  I'm sewing!"
So now her owl is done, and she wants to make more.  I told her maybe another time.  I think I'll cut out some felt animal for her to sew and surprise her.
The boys haven't sewn theirs yet, but they are plotting ways to make their owls look like superheroes.  I'll have to let you know how that turns out!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I forgot to mention that we cut the boys' hair a few days ago.   Malachi's in particular was getting way out of control.  It looks really different now!  I always notice his eyes more when his hair is shorter.  They seem huge and more expressive.

Unfortunately, they were not really into posing for the camera, so this was the best shot I could get.  
Lydia, of course, is nearly always willing to pose for the camera.  This is one I took before her church Christmas program.

She'll be dolled up again today for her school Christmas program.  Lots of fun, and she has plenty of beautiful Christmas dresses.  We get lots of hand-me-downs from my nieces, plus my mother-in-law picked up a dress on clearance last year, so I think she's got 3 really Christmas dresses and another two that certainly could work as well.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Still Snowy

Most of the houses around here don't have snow anymore, but our yard is still covered.  Even our roof still has a little snow on it.  We live in a little valley and have tons of trees, so the snow just doesn't melt too fast here.  It doesn't look pretty anymore, though.

This was all of the chickens' (except for Crest) first time in snow.  They didn't like it.  Of course, it's been very cold as well, so they've mostly been hanging out in the coop.  They have slowly begun getting used to the snow, though, and now that their yard is only partly snow-covered, they are coming outside more.  They must be pretty content, though, because they are still laying 12 or 13 eggs a day.

I haven't been on here in a while because my biggest blog fan, my Papaw, died recently and I just hadn't felt much like writing.  I keep thinking of things he'd like to know, like how I've got lettuce sprouting in the playroom - even in this cold!  He loved "seeing" my garden, chickens, and of course kids, on the blog.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tree Trimming

I have so many memories of Christmas trees.  At Mamaw and Papaw's, the tree was huge, and gray, and covered in multi-colored lights and more ornaments than I've seen anywhere but a Hallmark store. When I was a child, I used to love to sit on the stool in front of the tree and just stare at all of the ornaments.  

 At Grandmommy and Grandpa's, the tree sat in the front window, with little white lights and was covered in mainly handmade ornaments, most cleverly and carefully made by my great-grandma, Mom.  (Yes, it confused everyone outside the family that we called our great-grandma "Mom".)  

At home, we kids decorated the tree after Dad put the lights on.  We usually sang Christmas carols while we worked.  My sister and I often sang when we were little, and at Christmas, relatives often requested songs.  

Today, we finally got the living room cleaned up and the tree set up.  The kids helped carry up the decorations.  Elijah and Malachi put the tree together themselves, and Nathaniel and Elijah put the lights on.

Then all three kids delighted in decorating the tree.  I'm so glad that they like that tradition.  I put on the radio, on a station with Christmas music.

So, now we sit inside where it's warm as the ice and snow collects outside, and I am reminded of so many memories.  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Homemade Chapstick

Today, I finally made homemade chapstick.  I've been thinking about it for over a year, and I've had all the stuff for about a month.  Today, I finally used this recipe: http://www.nourishingminimalism.com/2012/10/peppermint-lip-balm.html and made 26 tubes.

The kids are really excited about it, and they each have one for themselves.  I plan on giving the rest out at Christmas.  Next up, I need to make some foot cream for Nathaniel and some lotion for me.  I've been looking at recipes and how-to blogs for quite some time, can you tell?  

Sunday, December 1, 2013


We enjoyed Thanksgiving at Nathaniel's parents this weekend.  Nathaniel loved giving Max his gigantic stuffed horse.  Max wasn't so sure at first, but he was soon bouncing on it and grinning.

Lydia also enjoyed getting a turn with the camera.  She even took pictures of herself:

All in all, we had a nice weekend.  We have so much to be thankful for!  We were happy to get back this afternoon and have some time to get settled down before bed.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Between Thanksgivings

Well, we had one family Thanksgiving yesterday and another one is coming up on Thursday, so right now, we are between Thanksgivings.  We were fortunate to be able to see my family yesterday for Thanksgiving at my Mamaw and Papaw's house.  We head up to Nathaniel's parents for the actual holiday.  Right now, the kids are practically buzzing from excitement.  Two trips in one week!   They still have school tomorrow, though.

The weather has gotten much colder.  We did turn on the heat lamp for the chickens while we were gone, as it got down to about 15 degrees and didn't make it above 30.  They could have handled it, but we do spoil them a bit.  It's the first really cold snap, and we weren't going to be around to see how they were doing.  We do keep a heated waterer in the coop in the winter.  Otherwise, they wouldn't get much to drink.

Malachi enjoys making "levels" on paper of his own versions of video games.  Today, Lydia brought me her version: chickens.  To win, you have to avoid stepping in chicken poop!

And lastly, 6 kids on a couch:
 Because what could be better than 6 kids on a couch, unless of course, we had 7 or 8 kids to put on the couch!  ;)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Baby Carrier

I made a baby carrier for the first time today.  Now, no, I don't have a baby to carry, but my sister does, and this is one of his Christmas presents, as modeled by my "baby".

I know I'll probably have to make a few adjustments once I try it on her and baby Silas, but I think it's going to work out very well.  In the photo, I'm supporting Lydia with my arms because I didn't tie the sash around, which you would use for bigger babies/toddlers.  Lydia is actually only 31 lbs, so she isn't too big for this type of carrier, even though she's 4  1/2 years old.  I will probably make a sling for myself when we get a referral, since it is advisable to carry your newly adopted child as much as possible, even if the child is 3 or 4 years old.

and I mostly used this tutorial: http://craftymamabakes.com/2011/05/05/homemade-baby-ktan/, although I bought 3 yards of 60" fabric.  I had plenty of fabric, though I used the entire 3 yards' length for the sash.  I am kinda wishing I had bought more of this fabric, though.  It's really pretty and would make a nice shirt.

Monday, November 18, 2013


I've been neglectful on the blog lately, so here's a catch-up on what's been going on around here.  Lydia is still loving preschool, and I'm still working there 2 days a week.  I had teacher conferences with all three kids' teachers within the last two weeks and am very glad to know that everything is going well with school.  Malachi joined the Garden Club at school, and Elijah is playing intramural basketball there.  We joined the Y last week.  I'm going to try a zumba class there with a friend Thursday night.  I've also attempted weight lifting for the first time in over a decade.  I got sore on a pitifully low amount of weight.

I've started selling some things in the Etsy shop for Christmas, so that was nice.  I didn't really sell much of anything last month, so I'm glad to see it picking up.  I've been sewing quite a bit to keep up.

I'll try to not neglect the blog too much in the future!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review - Blessings for the Evening

Blessings for the Evening

Most of the books I have reviewed have been fiction, but this time I am writing about a collection of scripture and blessings by Susie Larson called Blessings for the Evening.   I admit that I didn't read this book one blessing per night, partly because I tend to read several pages of any book at once, and partly because I wanted to get it read for this review.  I do plan to go back and reread one blessing per night, though, since I think it is a nice way to end the day.

Each night's reading in the book has one scripture reading on the first page and one blessing that corresponds to that scripture.  The words are printed over gorgeous nature photography.  There is an index in the front, which is nice for finding particular words of encouragement.  Titles range from "A Thankful Heart" and "Let God Carry the Load" to "Christ in Focus."  There are also a few season-specific blessings at the end of the book for Thanksgiving, Christmas, grieving, etc.

I really enjoyed this book.  It is a soothing and empowering read.  It would be a lovely gift, too. I highly recommend this book.

I received this book from Bethany House for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Egg Count

I haven't talked about the chickens for a bit, but they are always popular around here.  Lydia and Malachi are especially fond of the chickens and anything to do with chickens.  I found a book at the library called Chickens to the Rescue  by John Himmelman, which is a really cute picture book, and we have read that several times.  This weekend, the kids took pom pom balls and yarn and made dozens of homemade chicks.  I keep finding these all over the house.

As far as our actual chickens, they are doing quite well.  I only let them into the whole yard for an hour or two a day, since they have a tendency to scatter out into the neighbor's yard, but they have plenty of space in their higher-fenced yard, which we call the second yard.  They always have access to a very small first yard that we've covered the top with netting to keep out predators.  So every morning, I let them into the second yard and give them table scraps to eat. They love that.  They must be pretty happy hens, because they lay very well.  We have 15 hens and 1 rooster.  For several weeks, we were getting 14 eggs a day.  For the last week or so, we've been getting about 12 a day.  It may drop a bit since there is a cold front coming through today, but the last time a cold front came through, they didn't drop in production.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Leaves and Clover

 Last year, we had a storm that uprooted this tree.  Although Nathaniel cut up the rest of the tree, the kids love this stump, which they call the cannon.  So today Elijah and I raked a huge pile of leaves in front of the cannon, and Malachi and Lydia had a blast jumping off it into the pile.

I also never mentioned that I planted a cover crop of clover in the small garden this year.  I didn't get it in until mid-October, and I thought it may be too late since it turned quite cold then, but it is coming up!

In the spring, we can till it under, and it will give nutrients to the soil for next year's garden.  At least, that's how it's supposed to work.  I've never actually planted a cover crop before, but I've been meaning to for the last couple of years.  I also plan on pulling some of it for the chickens, since they absolutely love clover.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Yeast Rolls

 I love rolls, and I'm certainly not the only one around here.  Normally, I make whole wheat rosettes or sourdough rolls or oatmeal molasses rolls, but every once in a while I'll make white rolls.  It's pretty much celebrated like dessert (and probably about as healthy).  Nathaniel and Elijah are especially fond of the puffy white yeast rolls found in restaurants, so when I saw this recipe, I decided to try it. (http://gracefullittlehoneybee.blogspot.com/2013/10/45-minute-yeast-rolls.html#comment-form)
I did modify it, though, because you know I can't help myself.  It took just under an hour start to finish, which is really quick for homemade rolls.  Here is the recipe I use:

1 c plus 2T warm water
1/3 c melted coconut oil
2 T yeast (I've used active dry and instant.  Both work.)
scant 1/4 c sugar

Mix these together and let sit for 15 minutes.  Then add:
1 egg
1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
2 c bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt (I used sea salt.)

Knead a bit until soft and smooth.  Then make it into 20-24 little balls and put in a greased 13" x 9" pan.  Let rise about 15-20 minutes.  Bake in a 400 oven for about 15 minutes, until lightly golden brown on top.  Enjoy!  These are really fabulous served with soft honey butter.  The boys and I devour these pretty quickly.  (Lydia doesn't eat rolls much.)

Also, I wanted to share the doll cape I made:

I made one last year that didn't have a hood, but this year I wanted to make a hooded one, and I adjusted my (homemade) cape pattern to add the hood.  I think it turned out so cute!  I sold the other one I made, and I hope this one sells, too!  Nathaniel wants me to make a kid-sized one for Lydia.  I think it'd be so cute, but I'd want to use a different fabric.  The doll one is fleece, but I was thinking maybe a twill or something.  I don't know.  Maybe I'll have to explore the fabric store again! :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween Pictures

As promised, here are the Halloween pictures.   This year we had Harry Potter, his owl Hedwig, and a black cat.  Now, the black cat was sometimes just a regular black cat, and sometimes a black jaguar.  Oh, and for a while, she was Hermione Granger (from Harry Potter) when she was turned into a cat.  I bet you didn't realize how multi-purpose a black tail and ears can be!

 Before trick or treating, the younger two thouroughly enjoyed painting pumpkins.  Lydia didn't want to carve one this year.  She's really into painting, and I was fine with that.  Of course, we may even carve one later, because we're odd like that.

Trick or treating went really well.  The weather was glorious!  Nathaniel and I enjoyed the walk while the kids got loads of candy.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Magic Nuudles

They really wanted a picture, but you can see how well they posed for it!

For Malachi's birthday, he received some Magic Nuudles.  They are basically like those biodegradable packing peanuts, except they come in lots of bright colors.  You put them together by touching a noodle to a damp sponge, then it will stick to another noodle.  Malachi and Lydia had a blast putting together creations, but they were most excited about melting them in the bathtub afterwards.  We did find that they melt faster/better in warmer water, so the ones they tried to melt in the sink in cold water didn't disappear as planned.  But the box is packed full of nuudles, and they only used a small portion of them, so this is a great toy for long winter days.  And clean-up was both fun and easy for them.  I didn't have to worry about figuring out where to put their creations, because they were so eager to melt them!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cinderella Pumpkin

I've talked before about how I grew a Cinderella Pumpkin in the garden this year.  Usually they are quite large, but mine was about the same size as a pie pumpkin.  I decided to cook it yesterday, and I was pleasantly surprised by how very thick the flesh is in this pumpkin.  The seed cavity is very small, and although this pumpkin was only about the size of a pie pumpkin, it gave me more puree.  Usually, I count on getting between 2 and 3 cups of puree from a pie pumpkin, but the Cinderella gave me a about 4 1/2 c.  I saved some of the seeds so I can grow more next year.  I think I need to put some compost in the soil at planting time, and maybe my pumpkins will be even bigger.  But even if I get small ones again, it is still a large quantity of good quality puree.

I used a cup of the pumpkin in beef and barley stew last night (http://barefootkentuckymama.blogspot.com/2013/01/beef-and-barley-stew.html) and I plan on making pumpkin muffins today with another cup (http://barefootkentuckymama.blogspot.com/2010/09/pumpkin-muffins.html).  I need to make a dessert for the church bazaar, so I think I'll make a pumpkin roll with the rest.  I really do love cooking with pumpkin, and I've found that there are a number of things I like to use it for!

And yes, I realize that it's Halloween!   The boys are excited that they get to dress up for school today.  Technically, it is "book character" dress up day, but since Elijah is Harry Potter and Malachi is Hedwig (Harry's snowy owl), they can wear the costumes they plan on wearing for trick-or-treating anyway.  I will post more costume pictures this weekend.  They have postponed trick-or-treating here until tomorrow night because we are supposed to get some really bad weather this evening.  The kids were disappointed, but not too much, since it's just a one day delay.  And they won't have to worry about getting to bed at a reasonable time, either, since it won't be a school night.  So, Happy Halloween everyone!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Break

Last week was fall break, so we headed to town to visit family.  Just look at the cuteness I got to cuddle:

 We also attended a bonfire, complete with costumes, so here is a Halloween preview:

And the sweet baby wore the turtle costume Nathaniel bought him.  So cute!

We also visited a farm.  The kids posed for pictures on these giant pumpkins.  They also played in the hay barn, and petted some animals in the small petting area.  We enjoyed apple cider and bought a couple of pie pumpkins to take home.

The week wasn't totally fun, though.  Lydia had croup, and now Elijah has a bad cold.  But we were so happy to get to visit!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pumpkins and Runners

Yesterday was a busy and fun day for us.  First up, Lydia had her class field trip to the pumpkin patch.  It was drizzling, so raincoats were in order.  It didn't damper the mood!

Lydia had fun with friends!

Here she is in the pumpkin patch.  She found her pumpkin right away, and we were good to go.  When we got back to the farm store, my friend and I decided to go ahead and do the u-pick for apples.  We were already damp, so what's a little more?  We and our girls headed to the patch, where it promptly started raining for real.  We still picked half a bushel each.  When you're already wet and having a good time, why bother stopping?!  There weren't very many apples left on the trees, so we tramped around up and down the rows to find enough apples and ended up with several different kinds.  There weren't any russets left, but there were some for sale in the store, so I bought a peck of those.  We really love that kind, and they are the only type of apple that Malachi currently eats.

Our pumpkin/apple adventure wore Lydia out, and she fell asleep on the way home.  Luckily, her raincoat and boots kept her totally dry underneath, so it was not a big deal to roll her into bed after those came off.  Then, after a too-short nap, we started looking forward to the last cross country race of the season.  We headed to school with plenty of time before the race started so we wouldn't miss anything.  Because of all the rain and mud, they ran around the paved bus dock, and their times all dropped by a minute!  Elijah got first (as always) with a time of 6:18.  Malachi finally managed to claim third with a time of 7:09.  Fourth place was only one second behind him.  He was so proud to get his medal!

Afterwards, they had pizza and cake for the kids.  They also all got trophies and certificates.  I'm not a fan of giving kids trophies every time they participate in a sport, so I wasn't too thrilled to see those, but the boys were happy, of course.  (They also get trophies for every Y soccer season, etc.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Garden Summary

Well, the garden is about done here.  I do still have some broccoli growing, and some peas and herbs, but most of the vegetables are done.  I've been letting the chickens graze in the big garden.  They love that!  The small garden still has the broccoli and peas, but the tomatoes are done.  The chickens frequently escape into that garden, too, but then Katie scares them back to the other yard.  She loves chasing the chickens, and so far she has remembered not to actually touch them.

This summer, the peppers grew well.  The tomatoes did ok, not as well as I'd hoped due to weather and deer, but still better than last year.  And I planted lots more, so I'd be sure to at least have some tomatoes.  The cucumbers did well, including the fall planting.  I think we'll do that again next year.  The peas did much better in the fall, but that was probably due to the fact that I planted them in a sunnier location.  The pumpkins, cantaloupes, and butternut squash all did alright.  None did as well as I'd hoped, but all did ok.  The zucchini did ok for a time in the early summer before falling to blight, like usual.

The herbs did really well this year.  I had good crops of cilantro, basil, sage, oregano, and I've always got lemon balm. Mint didn't do quite as well as in the past, but it is in a pot and probably the soil is not as good.  I'll have to add dirt next year, or some kind of compost.

Speaking of compost, the "working worms" are doing really well now.  Lydia loves worms and is often playing with them, so I've told her that the compost worms are "working worms" not "play worms" so I don't have to worry about her killing them.  She does like to check on them with me, but she doesn't pick them up and mush them around.  They have just about finished one tray of compost and are working on a second.  The worm bin sits in the corner of my kitchen, and I've been pleased to report no smells coming from it, and no fruit flies, either.  Between the chickens and the worms, we don't have too many food scraps left!

As for the fruit trees we planted, those did not fare as well.  The plum and pear trees look great.  The peach tree did look good, but I think maybe a deer ate its leaves, because they are gone now.  The apple, cherry, and mulberry trees never did sprout leaves.  I'm debating about trying to plant a newer, bigger fruit tree from just a local place.  Even though the pear and plum trees look really healthy, both are very small.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Camping Reunion

We're back from the big annual camping family reunion.

This was really cute.  Max was in the camper banging on the window to get Elijah's attention.  Elijah was happy to play with him!

Malachi is excited that Elijah is too big for the Colts sweatshirt, so it's his now!

Lydia was always willing to smile for the camera!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review - Return to Me by Lynn Austin

Cover Art

When I chose this book, it was a surprise even to myself.  I typically don't read novels set in the Old Testament, and in the past I had read a few that were not very good.  When this book arrived, I put off reading it for a week, wondering again why I had picked it.  Finally, I started it, and I was quickly enthralled.  The book is set during the return of the Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem, where they are to rebuild the temple.  I did recall the Biblical account, but this book brings the episode to life in a way I'd never experienced.  The main characters are Iddo, a man faithful to the law but fearful of God, his wife Dinah, who doesn't really want to leave the only home she's ever known, their grandson Zechariah, and Yael, a friend's daughter who has been heavily influenced by a Babylonian seer.  The trials of faith of these characters is multi-facteted.  The author took great care in creating characters with depth, and the setting and way the people lived is also very well done.  Although the book is more than 400 pages, it never dragged or seemed to be taking too long.  This book would be a great choice for a book club or Sunday school discussion.  I highly recommend it.

I received this book from Bethany House for a review, but my opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Star Wars Origami

Elijah has been really into Star Wars origami.  He got the book Art2D2 at the book fair this week, and he's been busy adding to his collection.  These are a few that he made up himself:
He wanted to take pictures of them and show you on the blog, so I said ok.

We've had a good but rainy weekend here.  My parents came for the weekend, and they got to see all of the kids' soccer games before the downpours started.  After that, we mostly have just hung around the house.  The kids loved showing Nana and Pa their creations and telling them stories.  I also used the ice cream maker to make a cherry limeade slushy drink, which was a big hit.  It was easy and good.  Nathaniel has had to work a lot this weekend, so it was especially nice to have visitors to distract us.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pumpkins and Squash

It's October now, so I thought I'd give a pumpkin and butternut squash update.  I got two tiny butternut squash from my plant:

And my pumpkins are now ripe, too.  The one on the left is a pie pumpkin, and the one on the right is a Cinderella pumpkin.

The Cinderella pumpkin is small.  Usually they are quite a bit bigger than pie pumpkins.  The pie pumpkin is average size for its type, though.  

So now my pumpkin plants are done.  In the garden I still have tomatoes, but they are ripening very slowly, so we only get one or two every few days now.  Slugs are still an issue.  We do still have peppers, and those have done quite well.  The fall cucumber plants have produced well.  Lydia accidently ripped up one of the plants while she was picking one, but we still have a couple of plants with small cucumbers growing.  The peas look great.  We ate a handful last week, and I could get some more any time.  Malachi particularly loves pea pods.  The broccoli looks ok.  Two plants have started forming tiny heads.  I still have some cilantro, parsley, basil, mint, oregano, sage, and lemon balm growing.  

I'm already thinking about next year's garden!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Elijah behind the camera

Yesterday, some good friends came by and had some fun with us and the chickens.  Elijah asked to take pictures, and before I knew it, he had taken 32, including some of himself.  Here are just a few of his pictures: