The Beginnings of Something Wonderful

Happy first day of spring!  I may not be a fan of summer or very-warm weather, but I just adore spring.  My sinuses aren’t too thrilled, but that’s another story.

This first of spring is even more exciting and special for me because I am finally seeing the ideas and desires I have held for so long come to fruition.  Especially with regards to the new garden.

I’d been wanting to move the vegetable patch closer to the house and make it bigger (with room for a beehive) and so a few weeks back I got outside and started making it happen.  I pushed the kids’ giant wooden swingset about 15 feet from where it was (by myself! And yet I wonder why my neck and shoulder is bothering me so much lately??) and started staking out the outline for fencing.

Then I got to work digging.  By hand.  Again, by myself.

I’d had the idea that we really needed to move things along if I was going to get the early spring seeds and bulbs into the ground.  Our only machinery with a tiller attachment is currently down (and ancient).  I didn’t have the funds to hire someone to come with a big tractor, so I grabbed a shovel and went to it.  The finished area is just under 1,000 square feet.

I decided I wanted rows of raised beds in this garden because I’ve lost so many plants over the years due to excessive moisture pooling at the roots.  In a slightly rounded and raised bed the excess runs down the sides and away.

To do that, I started digging furrows, or trenches.  I probably made them too wide and too deep (stubborn digging without a plan isn’t the best idea) but there are now 5 long raised beds out there.  They still need to be tilled, since the dirt is nearly solid clay.  Thankfully I still have a whole shed full of composted llama and goat poo to mix in.  Still, I am concerned I may need to order up some dirt due to the extremely poor quality of the soil I dug out of our ground.

The clay is so hard I had to use a mattock to break it up.

There’s space in the shadier back – side of the garden for the bees to go so they have free access to keep our plantings pollinated.

Soon the onions will go into the ground along with the beets and once they are ready, all of the vegetable seedlings that are currently germinating in the dining room.

This is not nearly as impressive as Caroline’s seed selection!  But this represents about 2/3 of what we are planting this year.  I’ve ordered onions, seed potatoes,  and blueberry and raspberry bushes as well.  Come fall we’ll do another crop of late summer vegetables and some things to overwinter.

The biggest challenge in all of this?


Keeping these insatiable scratching and digging and eating machines out of the garden.  I’ve got the woven wire up: I just need a gate.  Paul has a friend coming out to plan out the logistical part of clearing our wooded acres here and fencing it all in.  Hopefully giving the poultry a wider ranging area will make the vegetable patch less of a lure for them.

Hopefully by fall you’ll be hearing me say how sick I am of preserving so many fresh veggies!

Weekend In Pictures

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

As you may or may not know, St. Patrick’s Day is our wedding anniversary.  This year was number 16 – and we celebrated the way we always do: with good food, cold Guinness, and watching Darby O’Gill and the Little People together.  Maddie made a lovely Chocolate Stout Cake with Bailey’s Cream Cheese frosting, and I made Jamie Oliver’s Steak, Guinness & Cheese Pie (from Jamie At Home).  I made fresh granola and played with my new Janome sewing machine,  and Paul brought home his new toy: a giant trailer.

There’s no real recipe at play here: I just toss some oats, sesame seeds, coconut & sliced almonds with some dried blueberries, some honey, some maple syrup and canola oil and bake it lightly.

Truffles and Speckles fighting over a nesting box.  Neither one would cede to the other, and they ended up both laying their eggs at the same time.

No, I don’t particularly like “Hello Kitty”.  The machine just happened to be  branded that way and it was a steal.

Paul’s new toy.

What do you mean I can’t have this marshmallow Oona dropped that’s bigger than my head??!!

Quilt Sneak Peek

Remember that quilt top I was working on with Caroline when Lizzy House was at Susan’s?

I finished it.

Just the top.  But it’s beyond gorgeous.

I don’t have any wall space where I can hang it for a proper picture right now, so bear with me.  This is just a peek.  The color is off and I realized it’s also upside – down.

More details and better pics to come.

For now I am back out to digging garden trenches.

One of Those Encounters

I think it is generally agreed that I have my share of bizarro encounters while out and about.  I have that kind of aura, I guess.  You know how it goes – if there’s an unhinged person in line at Starbucks, I’m 100% sure to be the one they unload on.  I’m especially a sucker for the high – functioning types.  I’m generally a few exchanges into small talk with a normal seeming stranger before the crazy rears its head and it’s too late for me to back out and pretend not to notice.

Like the time a few years back when some guy at the car wash asked if I liked driving my Saab and what kind of mileage it got? And he seemed nice, if a little immature.  Until he busted out a water hose and started spraying me down with it.

Then there’s the creepy drive – thru guy at our Dunkin Donuts that acts like I’m his long lost love – interest every time I pull around to pay for my iced vanilla latte.  “Oh I didn’t know it was YOOOUUUU.  So……girl… you been, eh???” Picture him leaning half out of the window and looking all bedroom – eyed and you get the idea.  I’m pretty sure he does this to all the ladies, but it’s still annoying when my kid’s screaming in the back seat and it’s raining into my car and I just want my damn latte and he thinks it’s time to bust a move.  Note to corporate DD: I’ve stopped going there because of this.

So today’s crazy encounter didn’t seem to be out of the ordinary. At first.

I had to run to Food Lion for some lunch items for the kids and I didn’t want to be out very long because Oona was melting down.

I got my basket of things and found an open register where a woman with a few vegetables was just paying.  I thought.

She was paying for something, but not the veg.  So when she finished (and I had all my items on the belt) the cashier looked at her and said “So….we’re just waiting on him then?” 

And the girl nodded her head and I thought great. But, it happens quite a lot that people will walk away like that and make the rest of us wait.  I learned a long time ago there’s no point in getting upset over it.  So I started playing with my phone.

And waiting. And waiting some more.  And then more.  I tweeted that I was waiting, but I didn’t look up from my phone.  The cashier was obviously in a state of annoyance and I didn’t want there to be a fuss so I pretended all was well.

Then he shows up.  I pick up my head as he’s saying “Sorry I just needed this” and for some reason I will never know, he gives me the most wicked, “I love that I kept you waiting” grin.  Not knowing what to do, I smiled back feebly and looked back at my phone while he paid.  Or, while his woman paid.  At which point, while the cashier is bagging everything and making change, the guy walks around behind me, grabs a few packs of gum, walks back around in front of me again and hands it to the cashier.

The cashier says “I’m sorry, did you want to add that to your order?”

And then.  And then he says “NO.  I want to make a new order with this”.  And gives me that smile again.

And that’s when my phone rang.  Neve wanted to know if I would be home soon.  “Well”, I said, “If I ever get out of here”. 

I didn’t make eye contact, but I said it clear enough to be sure they heard me.  And I looked straight at the woman as I said it.

Then they left.  And this is where it should have ended.  With me saying “What a bunch of inconsiderate assholes” and them saying “Wow what an impatient bitch”.

But this is me, and I live in crazy –  people land.

So after I paid and left the store and got to me car I noticed another car pull up behind me.  I was just opening my door to get in and I can see it’s them.  Pointing at me.  Obviously.  And the girl is laughing with that same wicked look on her face that her male counterpart had had earlier.


They very, very slowly, they pulled next to me, then in front of me, then left.  I didn’t look at their car to get a tag # because I had the distinct impression they were trying to pull me into something I had no desire to be a part of.

I drove home a bit rattled.

What could I have done differently?   Would it have mattered if I had not answered my phone and said anything?  I promise you if I ever kept anyone waiting in line like that someone would have read me the riot act.

Bottom line is, of course not.  They had something not right about them from the get – go.

I can tell you with absolute certainty it won’t be the last time something like this happens. I can only hope they all turn out hilariously so I can at least write about it.






The Nanny Goat Waiting Game

Have I mentioned?

We think Milkshakes is expecting again.

She’s still nursing, yet we think she’s expecting again.

It all started when Adelaide and Sophie were about 2 or 3 months old and we brought Solomon the ram to service the ewes. That’s sheep talk.  Sheep.  Not goats.  Solomon was to service the female sheep.  There was even a green marker put on a special harness he wore so that once he had serviced a lady you’d be able to see a green spot on her back end.

There were lots of ladies with green butts out there.  Lady sheep. Because Solomon was also a sheep.

Yet somehow Milkshakes wound up with a green butt.

Bless her little heart, she just couldn’t control herself.

Don’t worry, she’s not prego by the ram.  She honestly can’t be.  They’re not the same species.  Any fertilization that may occur in such cases ends up in a misfire.

So she started breaking out of the lady pasture and into the pasture with Jack, her stinky one – time beau and baby – daddy to Addie and Sophie.  Not that I can blame her, he’s quite handsome.  And he was still stinky, which is how the ladies can tell he’s willing and able.

And now lo these many months later, she’s looking quite fat. I’m not sure when she’d be due because we don’t know when exactly she got herself knocked up.

I snapped this picture the other day with my phone.  She wouldn’t look at me. Or come near me. Most likely because I had no food on me.  If you look closely you can see she’s sticking out her tongue.

Me calling her “Whorey Mc-Shakers” probably didn’t help.

That’s Birdie (Bertie?) in the foreground.  She was slightly less willing to give up on the possibility that I had food.

Lizzy House Quilting Weekend! (extra-long post)

Let me start by saying that if you work with fabrics you should know Lizzy House.  Because if you don’t, you are missing out BIG TIME.  Lizzy has beautiful prints in beautiful colors – so much so that Susan collects hoardes bundles of it to display in her house.  It’s that beautiful. 

Lizzy came to the farm this weekend to give a quilting workshop (farm plus BFF’s plus quilting?  I was SO in) and I was thrilled to be a part of it.  I’ve not done a lot of quilting myself, and what I have done has been mostly frustrating because I never really bothered to figure out how to quilt, so when things went wrong I wasn’t really sure how to fix them.  This class was perfect because I am not necessarily a beginner, but I needed to see people properly working a quilt to fill in the knowledge gap.  And now that I know what I was doing wrong I realize how kind of simple the fixes were.  Quilting is so very much easier than I was assuming it is, and so very much more fun!

Don’t you just love this Hello Kitty machine Virginia is sewing on?? Virginia owns “Gather Here” a beautiful yarn & fabric shop in Cambridge, MA.  If you’re in the neighborhood, drop in and check it out.  And tell her I said hi!!

The bonus?  Aside from spending the weekend sewing at the farm, my dear friend Amanda came down from Boston.

I do not get to see Amanda nearly enough.  That has to change.

I collaborated with Caroline and I am pretty sure a new quilting fiend has been born in her – she took right to it and loved it.  Don’t be surprised if she’s designing quilts by this time next year!

Lizzy herself is just as beautiful and friendly and fun as her designs.

We were all working on making our own version of the quilt you see behind her – but not just “making” it.   She shared a story of personal loss that spurred her to begin quilting, and how it saved her.  How all of the emotion and love and sorrow and all of it went into the quilt until it became more than just “a quilt”.  This is very familiar to me as a knitter, and to other knitters as well.  Our craft is a kind of therapy and I have spent many hours knitting while mulling over whatever is happening in my life at that moment.  From then on, that project always reminds me of that moment, like a snapshot.  There are knitters I know who will call something their “angry scarf” or their “lucky socks” because that is what they remember most about knitting them.  I oddly have a project that makes me think of Niagara Falls because I was listening to a “This American Life” segment about the Falls while I was knitting it.

Lizzy’s fabrics being bundled into a gorgeous stack.

This quilt project was about that, but in a more “intentional” way.  Lizzy tasked us with deciding what we wanted our quilts to be about and to focus on that while working on it.  I can tell you my intentions for it were all about my friendships at the farm (both old and new) and my hopes and feelings about finally getting my own farm underway.  This will be an intentionally happy and lucky and grateful quilt.  And Caroline and I worked on it together!  I will remember that every time I see it and it will make me happy.

This is Lisa.  Lisa lives locally (YAY!!!) and for all of you who are local, she and her husband own Revolutionary Soup.  Right??!!!  You can also check out their blog at Red Row Farm.

Caroline and I used a collection by Moda called “Papillon”.

I can’t wait to show off the project when it is all finished.  We knocked out 12 of the 18 squares for the top.  I’ll be machine quilting it once I’ve gotten the backing fabric and sandwiching material.  Nothing fancy – I think the fabric does a knockout job on its own.

If you’re thinking about learning to quilt but are unsure – find a class.  I can’t promise it will be as fun as this was, but it will take away much of the fear factor and get you going on the right track (if you live in the greater Boston area, Virginia’s shop is a great place to take classes, and you can use her machines there by the hour).

If Lizzy is going to be in your area giving a class or workshop – DO IT. I can’t speak highly enough of her.  And for heaven’s sake if you find some of her fabric GET IT!!!

Let’s Start a Magazine Together!

This is the post where I steal an entire bit from Susan’s blog and pass it on here.  She and the crew at JMF are starting  magazine.  A beautiful, lovely, useful magazine centered around all things done by hand.  Cooking, sewing, knitting, building… name it.  I’m super excited about it (and having a hard time not boasting that I’ve known about it for quite awhile and have seen some of what’s going to go into it…’s too exciting to keep to myself!).  Here it is in Susan’s words. There’s some lovely prizes to be had for those who can help get it off the ground.

Very Big News!

by Susan on March 2, 2012

So for months now I have been alluding to a big secret I’ve been keeping. I am thrilled that today I can finally share the news with all of you.

Juniper Moon Farm is starting a magazine called By Hand. By Hand will be a lifestyle magazine for people who make, with departments for cooking, crafting, DIY, gardening, and do-gooding, with a bit of travel and profiles of makers every month.

The idea is to celebrate creating things with our hands, and to explore the motivation to make things in a world where there are cheaper and immediate alternatives. It will be both practical (patterns, DIY projects, etc) and thoughtful, with a lovely and gentle aesthetic.

We have lots of amazing contributors and editors on board already, and the first issue is well underway. But before we go any further, we need your help!

We are holding a Kickstarter campaign to raise the rest of the money we need to make the magazine everything we want it to be. And as an added inducement, we have commissioned so amazing rewards! Our art director Michelle Lukezic has designed posters and t-shirts that are going to be incredibly popular with people who make things with their hands. Here’s a sample:

There are posters and t-shirts for each of the sections in the magazine!

If you like what you see and want to support us, great! If you can help us get the word out about the Kickstarter and the magazine we will be forever in your debt!


What’s going on right now:

  • There’s 14 1/2 dozen eggs in my fridge right now.  It’s getting dire, people.  I am going to start doing egg drops on peoples’ doorsteps.
  • I’ve been reading 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C Mann and I am loving it.  There’s all kinds of great little – known facts about the impact that contact with the “New World” made globally. Did you know that at Columbus’ time (he was called Cristobal Colon then, btw) people had known for years the earth was round; Columbus (or Colon) insisted it was pear – shaped, with the very top resembling a woman’s nipple?  Did you know earthworms were unknown in the Americas before the Europeans arrived?  Or that Pocahontas’ name was actually “Mataoka”.  The name “Pocahontas” was a nickname which meant “Little Hellion”?
  • I’m working furiously on Wicked using the luscious Superfine Alpaca yarn Caroline and I bought from the Montpelier Fiber Festival in the fall.  It’s very slow going, and normally I would be ultra bored with it by now, but the yarn is just so wonderful I can’t put it down.
  • To assist with all that knitting – we got a new dvd player.  Okay, we got it because our old one broke.  Paul picked up a new one with all these crazy bells and whistles that I can barely figure out BUT.  I can access my Amazon Prime account through the dvd player so that I can watch any of the streaming shows and movies from my online account ON MY TV!!!  I know I am so late to the party on this but I am very much enjoying it!  Now I don’t have to rely on my laptop to watch Downton Abbey!!!  (And goodness, if you haven’t been watching Downton Abbey, please do.  It is so very good!)
  • I started working out every day back in January.  I’ve been alternating between a strength – training Pilates program with resistance bands and an “Ease into 5K” program on the elliptical.  I also gave up soda completely and have replaced it with green tea.  My favorite is The Republic of Tea’s Blueberry Green Tea.  I’m feeling pretty good.  My goal is to run on the beach this August during my book club beach weekend.  My super – fit friend Beth runs every morning while we are there, and this year I plan to join her.
  • Today I got my spinach and broccoli planted.  As last year, I am using all heritage non – GMO seeds from Baker Creek.  We’ve expanded the vegetable garden site and I am excited for all the fresh veg we’ll have this year!
  • Last but not least, I bought supplies to take to Juniper Moon Farm this weekend where I will get to meet Lizzy House! She’s giving a quilting workshop and I get to go sew with some of my favorite people (and meet Lizzy House!!!!!!)

What are you up to this week????