Pumpkin Day, and Spinning Love

After I bought a bag of wonderful fall-colored roving at Rhinebeck, I could not stop thinking about how I needed to spin it!


Though I am still very new at spinning, one of the things I learned is that it makes it easier to keep practicing when you are spinning with fiber that you love. So, caution (and thoughts of saving it for when I am an expert) aside, I jumped in and spun that baby up into three spindles.


Once I had three spindles of single-strand I couldn’t wait to see how it would look all plied together.


Boy, it did NOT disappoint! I am so in love with this yarn I have made!  It isn’t a very large amount, but definitely enough for a nice autumn-y cowl. Now I can’t wait to get my wheel going again!

In the meantime, Halloween is very nearly upon us, and the kids kept reminding me of the many things that needed to be done, like pumpkin carving.


This year I let Oona do all her own tracing and cutting. The only help I gave was removing the pieces, since it was a bit fiddly for her.

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They made such a glorious mess.

You know who wasn’t complaining about that, though? The pigs! Pumpkin day means it’s time for their annual treat of pumpkin guts.


They loooooove pumpkins. In a few days (before total rotting can set in), they will be given the Jack o’lanterns as well. But for now, we are enjoying our day of handiwork!


Emily’s Raven, and my “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme.


Oona’s pumpkin


Neve’s pumpkin.

Now that Pumpkin day is accomplished, there is only really Trick or Treating left. Tonight we’ll watch Hocus Pocus and bask in the last remaining glorious bit of October before it is done.

Autumn Delights

It’s officially autumn now, and today it certainly feels it. It’s rainy and chilly, and the trees are showing the faintest hints of changing color. Only one mum plant from last year made it to this year, but it’s my favorite color, so that’s at least something!


I bought two more in orange and yellow; hopefully I’ll get around to planting them soon!

It’s also time again for me to play with yarn and dyes, and combined with all the baking I’ve been doing, the house smells of wool and cinnamon. It’s heavenly!



Apple pie is most definitely our favorite treat this time of year.  As always, I use Smitten Kitchen’s All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough. 

As for the filling, I sprinkle dry tapioca on the bottom crust, and toss in chopped apples mixed with cinnamon and sugar.  Add some dabs of butter, cover it with a second slab of crust, and voila!


We’ve been hogging out on the pie and my Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.  Last night I changed it up just slightly by adding a teaspoon of boiled apple cider along with everything else. It added a whole other layer of delicious.  The combination of all these things makes for such a lovely, cozy evening.

But, though it’s not all doom-and-gloom around here, it’s also not all rosy and rainbow unicorns, either.

We are still trying to raise as much as we can to better contain the dogs.  Orzo has an appointment for a neutering, in the hope it will quell some wanderlust (and make him gain enough wait to not be able to clear a 6 foot fence anymore!).  Paul is in talks with a few folks for estimates, and we have made a campaign of aggressive friendliness while out walking the dogs.

Now, let me ask you: have you ever tried walking dogs that have spent their whole lives off leash? It’s getting better, but my first efforts were nothing short of epic disaster.  CIni is 12, after all. They all sort of had this reaction of what fuckery is this???

Cini and Lucy flat out refused to do their “business” while on the leash for the first two days altogether, and there was quite a lot of cleaning up to do in the house from that debacle.

It’s getting better with them, but Lucy is still pretty upset about the whole thing and regularly digs in her paws and refuses to move.

But we’ve been doing our best, and trying to greet as many people as we can with them.  We already know quite a lot of our neighbors who are wonderful, but we’ve seen a few out and about we haven’t met yet. A couple have been unfriendly and refuse to wave back or acknowledge us; but they’ve been few. Oh, humanity. You’re a crazy, messed up, beautiful, awful thing!

Our nearest neighbor told us she misses having Lucy keeping guard over her and her dogs; Lucy, for her part, seems to miss them as well, and keeps pulling me hard to get over there to greet them.

Sabine and Orzo are firmly chained up at the moment. We have no idea how else to keep them close while we await fencing options. They are not happy at all; Orzo has been whining and barking non-stop. Sabine just seems defeated.  It breaks my heart. But, they have shelter and access to food and water, even if they are unable to chase off any threats.

I’m cautiously optimistic; we’ll figure out something. In the meantime, we are hoping to keep some donations coming in so we can be sure we area able do things right!

And, lest you think it’s only the dogs that are tough to contain, I leave you with this hilarity:


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Swimmy Days

My littlest fish has finally found her fins and enjoying summer’s heat from the cool of the pool


Now that she is taller than the water is deep she has found her confidence, and is even enjoying splashing and underwater swimming.





Today she enjoyed having the whole pool to just herself (and me) since her sisters are at a sleepover with the Girl Scouts at the Baltimore Aquarium tonight.

This is what summer is all about!

Almost Like Summer

This past weekend we had our first porch campfire of the year. For us, this is essentially the ushering in of summer (even though we actually enjoy our porch-fires anytime of year we can).


Neve in particular has been waiting enthusiastically for this.  It’s among her favorite traditions to sit out around the fire, roast marshmallows, play mad libs, and wait for the bats, stars, and frogs to come out.


Even reclusive Emily likes to join us, and Paul, who is generally outdoors-averse.  We’ve been doing this regularly for several years now and it has become a wonderful way for us to bond as a family, and laugh together at our silly Mad Libs creations.

I do have a rule for Mad Libs, however: no simple answers. If you’re going to give me a noun, make it creative. Don’t give me “dog”. Give me “mangy dog”, or “flea-bitten dog”.  If I ask for an adjective? Better not give me “stupid”. Give me something like “horribly distasteful” or “terribly awkward”.

This is what happens when you play word games with a homeschooling family.

We’ve added extra-nerdy fun this year by getting our hands on “Doctor Who” Mad Libs.



Neve enjoys being the game master.



The dogs enjoy hanging out with us, also, and trying to steal the occasional marshmallow.


Since it was a full moon, we also spent a great deal of time looking at the sky and talking about the different planets, stars, and constellations.  We identified Jupiter and Venus (with the help of an app on my ipad called “Star Walk” that allows you to point at the sky and it reveals what you are seeing), along with Ursa Minor, Gemini, and several others.  Neve and Oona were lucky enough to spot a shooting star.

Before we went in for the night, Neve took a flashlight and wandered out where the noise of the frogs and toads was loudest and found herself quite a few of each to observe and talk to to round out a lovely early-summer evening.

We went to sleep full of contentment and excitement for the summer to come, and many, many more night like this.

A Quick Trip, And Back to Spring

Last week I took a quick trip up to the Hudson Valley to attend the funeral of my uncle Joe. Although it was a sad reason for gathering, it was fantastic to see cousins I haven’t seen in a long time and be able to give and receive much-needed hugs in person. I was glad for the first time this year to not be worried about lambing this season; otherwise I might not have been able to go.


Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very spring-like (indeed, it snowed the day I left), which is too bad, because my father and stepmom live in a really lovely spot overlooking the Rondout Canal.  I’ll definitely be going back when the weather’s nicer.  At the very least, I plan to stay there in October, as I will be there for Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool this year.

Back home in Virginia the daffodils are blooming, my hyacinth are growing, and I’m seeing the dark pink shoots that mean my peonies are on their way.




The peas we planted not long ago are sprouting, and we’ve got radishes, beets, various lettuces, arugula, kale and chard seeds in the ground.

The sheep are playing and kicking up their feet as they run, the bees are happily foraging for pollen and nectar. The songbirds are chirping. It’s a great time of year!

Sunday Progress

It was so sunny and warm out today that we opened the windows early and had vegetable omelets and coffee in the fresh air before getting to work outside.

Oona and I mulched a raised garden bed for her use and she planted peas.  When it’s warmer she will plant sunflowers and mini pumpkins as well.  She is beyond excited!

After we took care of that we finished mulching the back garden and Oona helped plant peas back there as well.  We got tomato and pepper seeds started inside, and I tied the long, spindly rose branches down to the trellis after some pruning.

I checked on the bees and they were happily buzzing about and working hard to bring nectar and pollen back to the hive.


There were tiny little blue wildflowers blooming all over the lawn, and I found two little crocuses in the front.


It was great to have the kids all outside all day for once!  Oona conned Paul into playing on the swingset for a little while before dinner.



Our house lamb is getting used to life outside once again, and is walking and eating on her own.  Her head is unfortunately still turned a bit back, but very slowly that seems to be improving as well.

In the coming weeks we will be putting in the cooler weather crops: lettuces, beets, carrots, radishes, etc.  I can’t wait for them to be ready.  I’ve been craving crunchy salads like nobody’s business!!!!

The sheep have been running and playing and kicking up their feet, and the dogs have been rolling happily in the grass.  Everyone’s got spring fever!


I think Lucy is the most photogenic dog!


Though Orzo doesn’t want to be counted out.



I know spring doesn’t officially start for a few more days, but we are enjoying life as though it is here already!