Cleaning Friday

It’s Cleaning Friday! At last!

Cleaning Friday is something I started early this summer to ease my wearied mind.  We already had Sewing Sunday (which has become more of a Crafting Sunday, but whatevs) so I could look forward to having a solid day every week where everyone knew that is what would be getting done.  They all know not to bug me to do other things on that day.

Cleaning Friday was born out of the same idea.  I am forever trying to get and keep this house in order, but it’s mostly a losing battle.  Fridays were the day I would work at it the hardest so that I didn’t have to worry about it for the weekend.  Neve and I decided that if we made Friday a dedicated cleaning day where everyone pitched in the rest of the week would be a little easier.

It works like a charm.

The house still gets pretty messy during the week, believe me.  And there is still maintenance cleaning that has to be done daily, like the dishes.  But by and far this is a happier arrangement for everyone.  I am less cranky because I know that reliably there will be one day a week where everyone is scrubbing, vacuuming and mopping.

I t has freed my mind to focus on other projects rather than housework all the time.   It’s also rather wonderful to relax over my cup on coffee come Saturday morning in a nice, clean house.

Just don’t clean up this crafty stuff – I is nesting.

Quiet Morning Knitting

With school starting in a week there is an awful lot on my plate that needs attention.  Lesson plans have to be finished, the garden has to be readied for fall, chicken coops will soon need their seasonal clean – out, as will the freezer and pantry.  It’s time to finish up the summer sewing, harvest every last bit of basil to make pesto ravioli for the freezer, enjoy the pool one last time before the weather turns.

There’s also a culvert to be dug so we can easily cross the stream to bring hay and feed and water to the animals that soon will reside there.

There’s excitement all around as everyone senses the soon to come change in season.  Apple picking will come before we know it and the house will be full of the heady scents of cinnamon and ginger and cloves.


But for now I am enjoying those rare late – summer mornings when I am the only one awake.  I can enjoy my coffee and work on a sock while enjoying the view out of my new craft – room’s window.  That’s where the morning glories have started to bloom.  This year there are purple, white and fuschia flowers.  Every year they really take off right around this time, telling me it’s almost my birthday.  It’s almost our favorite time of the year.

New Pajamas

I finally finished the pajamas I had planned on making for Emily for her birthday.  Better late than never!

The fabric is Tula Pink, and the pattern is from Favorite Things.

The pants are a steampunk-ish mechanical bird, and the top has very spooky apothecary jars.  Very Emily.

I even whipped up a sleep mask to match.

She’s ready for fall already!

Somebody’s 5!!!!

We’re back from Orlando!

The bigger new, however, is that Oona has turned 5.  5!!!

SO much about my life has changed in 5 years – it is so different and so much better in so many ways.  And yet it seems that Oona has gotten to be this age in the blink of an eye.

She had a spectacular 5th birthday.  And how can you not, when you are celebrating at Disney?

But first we HAD to go to Hogwarts.

The world of Harry Potter at Universal in Orlando is pretty impressive.  It’s really a must – see destination for all Potter fans.  Although I will say that my friend Jessie and her family went to the Harry Potter attraction in London this summer and saw all of the actual sets used in the movies.  That certainly beat out our experience, but we still enjoyed our fill of Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice and roasted chicken.  This was the all around favorite of the bigger girls for the whole trip.

Disney was not quite as easy to navigate and the weather was not quite as nice.

I will say this about Disney, though: some things they do very, very right.  We had Oona wear her Cinderella dress to the Magic Kingdom on her birthday.  To that, we got a button from a shop just inside the park that had her name and announced her birthday.  EVERY “cast member” (employee) all day long greeted her with “Happy Birthday Princess!”.  It made her millenium.

There was also plenty of meet and greets throughout the day.

Followed by the famous fireworks spectacular at the castle that night.

There is no way we will ever beat that as a birthday experience.

As for me, I found myself having the most fun at the Animal Kingdom.

Since it was meant to look like parts of both Asia and Africa there was much more plant – life (and shade!).  There were animals everywhere of course, and we were all very excited to see their petting zoo, which promised “Exotic animals of many species”.


What they had were sheep, goats, pigs and a llama.

That was a total bust.  That was the opposite of exotic.

Fortunately, the safari ride we took more than made up for it.

We didn’t have to touch any of the animals to thoroughly enjoy them.

Now we are back to reality.  Back to planning for the school year which will start in just about a week and a half. Back to digging a culvert so we can make a bridge over the stream.  Back to getting fencing set in.

Because y’all, my birthday is coming up.  And you know getting my animals home is the one and only thing left for me to be completely content.




Vacation, Part Deux

Greetings from Orlando!

We are running ourselves ragged visiting a different theme park every day with the kids.

Our feet are sore like you would not believe.   And we have two more days to go.

Mom is holding down the farm, braving one jackass rooster and some stubborn hens.  She’s gone above and beyond this time, I assure you!

Neve and Emily have gone on their first big roller coasters  and we all experienced the incredible Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Wands were chosen all around, and Oona is angry that they don’t actually work.

I can’t post pictures from here, but there’ll be plenty when we get home Thursday.

Stay tuned!



The Beach is Back

I am happy to report that after 4 blissful days at the beach I am back and feeling great.  There really is something very healing about the ocean; just listening to the waves and feeling the sea breeze does something to your soul.

This year was my favorite beach trip.  Two of our lovely friends brought their new babies with them (both were born in December) and it was by far the most relaxing, stress – free and fun trip we’ve had. The babies were wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures of them discovering the beach and enjoying some time with their mamas.

There was so much good food that I may have put on a pound (or 5).  I brought homemade peach salsa, my friend Gabi brought a delightful Argentinian fruit spread that we ate slathered in large amounts on good hard cheese.  There was plentiful fruit and summer sausage brought by Jessie.

Of course we all splurged at the restaurants as well.

But the one thing I will really remember from this trip was the Stand Up Paddle Boarding that Diana, Jessie, Margie and I tried.  It was something that was a little bit outside my comfort zone, but I didn’t want to miss out.  I am SO glad I did it.  It was much easier than I feared and we had a blast.I wish I had pictures to show you, but I couldn’t bring my camera.

Little Liam was my seat buddy on the ride out and back.  He giggled and cooed and was a total angel both times.

Teddy was very much into exploring the sand.  And is so obviously in love with his mother it made my ovaries hurt.

Rainbow!  Fortunately the rain didn’t affect us too much – it was brief, and gave us a glorious rainbow.  UNfortunately, due to the cloudiness we were unable to see the perseids meteor shower.

The best beach crew you could hope for.

I’ve linked above to the company we used for the paddle boarding.  If you are ever in Virginia Beach, give them a try.  They were reasonably priced and a ton of fun.

And I’m Outta Here…..

This past week has been spent in a flurry of activity in preparation for Beach Week – I’ll be leaving for my annual book club retreat tomorrow and I’ll be there until Sunday.

Before leaving I had to get the house in decent shape (in hopes it won’t be too awful when I return), make sure I had plenty of easy – to – make food packed into the kitchen for the family, and finish up the hand – sewn garments I wanted to wear for the weekend.

Everything I’ve been working on lately has been Alabama Chanin – inspired.  This green dress won’t be for the beach weekend – it’s more of an early fall dress.

I will be wearing my stenciled and inked dress, however.  You’ll have to wait for pictures of it finished, though.

It’s been a solid week of work.  But, it’s been a labor of love.  And every pattern I have used out of their books have fit like a dream.

I’ll be back here Sunday evening with the beach report.  Until then!

In Which I Wax Rhapsodic About English Muffins

English muffins.

When I was growing up I loved Thomas’ English muffins.  Toasted, slathered in butter & jam they were pretty close to the perfect food.

In a more savory application my mother used to make what we called “pizza burgers” : toasted muffins with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni, broiled to bubbly deliciousness.  And don’t even get me started on those sinful Egg McMuffins.

Unfortunately as I got older my digestive tolerance of english muffins became problematic.  I don’t really know the hows or whys of it, but they became one of those foods that I began avoiding because they caused me heartburn.  Every. Single. Time.

I know.  Heartbreaking.

It took me awhile, then, to hop on the “homemade English Muffins” bandwagon.  I’d been seeing the rings used to make them advertised on the King Arthur Flour website, along with the recipe to make them.  There were rave reviews.  But I hesitated.

It was Emily that convinced me to take the leap.  She has been loving my pain de mie and homemade jams for breakfast, and gets awfully cranky when there is no bread.  In an effort to come up with an alternative I decided she’d probably love the muffins.

I ordered the rings and got to it ($11 for a set of 8 – not a bad deal!).  And you know what?  They were a snap to make.

I used the King Arthur Flour recipe since it seemed to be the simplest.  They also have a honey – wheat variation that you KNOW I’ll be trying.

These come out big and thick and lovely.

I had planned on making them to put aside for breakfasts, but while they were cooking I realized I had the makings of dinner: eggs, ham, cheese.

When I cut open the first one and knew I had success, I assembled the fried egg, ham, and melted cheese sandwiches for a tasty dinner.

They were far better than any fast food sandwich you can get.  Dinner was accompanied by pleasant moans of happiness from my children: and that’s quite a feat, let me tell you.

The best news?  No heartburn.  The true test will be when I have one with butter & jam, but I am feeling optimistic.

Early Harvest

Here it is barely August and my garden has officially given up for the season.  The only plants that are still producing are a few of the heirloom tomato plants, the basil, and the potatoes I have yet to dig up.

This weekend I will go out and lightly till the dead and rotting vines back into the soil and set about getting the fall plantings ready.

The biggest challenge this year hasn’t necessarily been the heat.  It’s true that the overly warm night time temperatures slowed production, but the plants all did, eventually bear fruit.

The lack of bees (remember I was supposed to have bees this year?  You can thank the uber slow progress of the landscaping for that not happening) didn’t seem to slow pollination any; there were bumblebees aplenty buzzing all around.

What really hurt this year was the epic number of pests.  Squash bugs.  Cucumber beetles. Blister beetles.  Caterpillars. Cabbage moths. Slugs.  You name it, we had it, and in hordes.  The blister beetles took my entire wisteria vine down to nothing OVERNIGHT.  Literally. One day it was there, the next, gone.

So, it was a disappointing growing season, but I am not letting it get to me too much.  I had enough tomatoes to make a batch of salsa.  We had so many summer squash and zucchini it felt like they were never stop.  The cucumbers even managed to hold their own long enough for us to put up dozens of jars of pickles.  Not to mention the mini sour gherkins – those tiny little garden workhorses.  They are still producing, seemingly invulnerable to the pestilence around them.

I have also formulated plans to improve things for next year – that’s the silver lining of garden failures. You learn from them.  Next year I’ll be buying plenty of Neem oil and organic and natural pest controls.  I will have bees.  I will also move the squash and pumpkins to their own garden – they overtook everything and drowned out my peppers and watermelon, killing them off.
And if I can find a way to eradicate my land of the blasted Virginia Creeper that invades everything, my beans and peas might stand a chance.

All in all, if I can manage a decent fall planting (beets, cabbages, greens, a few root veg) I’ll be pretty happy.

And speaking of fall, I made an early harvest that has everyone trying to fight off the autumn-y mood they create:

Bunches of sugar pie pumpkins, a Connecticut Field pumpkin or two, and some Jack Be Littles.

Check out this Jarrahdale Blue pumpkin!  Now if the two big Musquee de Provence pumpkins would hurry up and ripen before they fall prey to the zillions of squash bugs surrounding them, I will be happy!