The Return of the Light

Another solstice upon us.  The days will start getting longer again with the promise of spring and renewal.  I don’t know why we don’t celebrate this any longer as a culture or society.  Perhaps the ease with which we light and warm our homes means we don’t need to rely so much on the sun’s light anymore and we are just that much less grateful to it.  I don’t think so, though.  So many people I know struggle through the darker days and eagerly await the their lengthening again.  Perhaps we simply lack the tradition of recognizing and celebrating this yearly right of passage?

Either way it is one of my favorite days of the year, because although I love fall and winter and enjoy the colder weather, the early darkness every day takes it toll on me.

Tonight we’ll celebrate by having a fire, enjoying each other’s company (the adults will partake of some Jameson’s and gingerale, my favorite winter drink) and work on whatever crafts we want to finish for gifting.


We welcomed three geese to our little farm today as well.  You may remember them from Juniper Moon Farm.  You may also recall that Susan (and all the animals, if we are being honest) never really cared for these pesky critters.  Geese aren’t the friendliest birds.  But as geese go, these ones aren’t really mean.  I am keeping them around for snake control.


We’re calling them Abigail, Amelia, and Uncle Waldo.  You’ve seen The Aristocats, right?


Wren and Piper have been giving me sweet little lamby kisses.


Being nuzzled by those soft little noses can cure just about any ill.



Happy Solstice, all.

It’s Tradition, Damn It

Is it just me or is the week before Christmas pretty much a throw away?  Everyone has checked out at this point.

Since we can’t seem to concentrate on work, school has nothing but been various crafts and some reading.


The big craft day was spent making gingerbread houses.  This year I ordered the kits from King Arthur Flour, and I am pretty happy that I did.  Usually we just grab the kits from WalMart or Michael’s, but they honestly taste pretty bad.  Like dog – food bad.  We have fun assembling them, but then they sit there for a month until I finally throw them away.

This year’s kits were much tastier and came with better candy.



In the evening afterwards we packed into the car – as our tradition dictates – and drove around looking at the christmas lights.

Doesn’t it sound idyllic and warm and cozy and sweet?

It wasn’t.


It was more of an exercise in extreme parenting.  Oona was entertained for all of 20 minutes, and then she and Neve took turns hitting and pinching each other, crying, whining and complaining “But it’s HER fault!”

You want to know the other part?  This is how it is every year.  EVERY. DAMN. YEAR.


Yet we do it anyway.  We even look forward to it, naively believing that this year will finally be better.

It’s a tradition, and darn it one day they will be thankful we suffered through it every year.  One year I brought hot cocoa and homemade white chocolate – mint popcorn for everyone but they ended up spilling the cocoa, needing to pee every 5 minutes and only 2 of us liked the popcorn.

We don’t do that anymore.


I was seriously starting to get a good holiday cheer going – really getting into the spirit at first.

By the time we got home I just wanted everyone to go to bed so I could have a nice stiff drink.

You know what?  We’ll do it again next year.  Traditions are like that.  Sometimes in the moment they are painful, but the more you do it (and perhaps the further away you are from it in time) the rosier they seem and the more meaningful they become.  For us, the annual viewing of the lights means christmas is less than a week away.  Our holiday season would be incomplete without it , temper tantrums and all.


A (Guard) Dog’s Life

There are days when it seems like the dogs are so much trouble for how few animals I have.  They are still rambunctious puppies, after all. and you know how puppies can be.  They like to fight with each other – sometimes violently – and manners are something neither one has had much interest in.  Had I left them at Juniper Moon Farm they would have continued learning proper behavior from the senior dogs – but I interrupted that to bring them home.

When George started chasing the sheep around I decided it was high time to be strict.  I contacted my friend Cindy over at Jacob’s Reward Farm for some advice.  Cindy adopted the previous litter of puppies from Susan, and so if anyone had some insight on raising that particular blend of personalities, I figured Cindy would.  Thankfully, she reinforced what I was already thinking.

I separated George into his own private pen so that he could be in the middle of all the livestock action, but could not actually chase them or touch them.

Orzo immediately calmed down.  George immediately calmed down.


Two unaltered male puppies together = chaos.  Separated they are much more trainable.

Now we are able to work on manners.  George is leaning to be completely calm before he gets fed and petted.  Both dogs are learning to sit back from the gate when we are opening it.  Orzo is learning not to jump all over us.


We are still having some hiccups – George still loses all focus when I allow him in with the other animals – on a lead – and refuses to hear my commands.  But, little by little this is improving.

Orzo has been taught by both Milkshakes and Jerry that he is not in charge.  He no longer tries to eat out of the trough when I bring grain out to the sheep and goats – thanks to being butted a few times by bratty Jerry – and Milkshakes knocked him down a time or two when he got too energetic for everyone.

There is no doubt in my mind they are worth every bit of effort, however.  I awoke very late a few nights ago to the sound of both dogs barking furiously, and while my first instinct was to be annoyed, I heard something out there answering them back with a high pitched growling / yelping noise.  I couldn’t see whatever it was, but I could hear it retreating.

Those dogs earn their keep.

Besides, Milkshakes seems to have taken a liking to Orzo.


I often see them like this – either by the gate or in the hay.  Not quite touching, but close enough.



Sugar High

Yesterday we hosted our annual Cookie Exchange – today we all have food hangovers.  Which we are treating by eating mostly cookies.

I didn’t manage to take many pictures – too busy having fun with friends, you know – but Paul got some with his phone.



Oona had to be held back from eating the cookies I made for the party.



I think I was telling them about the mole Orzo had dug up during the party.  I had run out there after people were telling me they saw him playing with something (I was afraid that despite the colder temps it might be a snake) and found him grabbing at a very fat mole.  My first instinct was to grab it and chuck it outside the field, but then Orzo grabbed it in his mouth and flung it – right into my face.  It shrieked and I was caught off guard.  So I held Orzo back while it burrowed away.




Emily took advantage of our internet – it has not been working properly at Juniper Moon Farm.




I love this picture of Keith and daughter Katie.



Everyone wore their poinsettia pins we made for them!


Even blurry, Jessie looks great.  I tell ya.



You can focus on it being a terribly unflattering picture, or you can focus on the fact that I finished my dress in time to wear it for the party.



Good lord my friend Theresa makes cute babies.  I just wanted to grab little Teddy here and snuggle him all day.


A rare picture of Emily in the wild.  She has decided the only pictures of her that she will allow are during JMF photoshoots.  You know, when you’ve had a personal stylist and professional photographer working with you, I guess it would be hard to go back to “normal” pictures.  Or she is just pulling the “surly teenager” card.


Maddie and Gully spent plenty of quality relaxing time after the party.

We were worn out from all that fun! And food! (And just maybe the wine and the delicious  hard cider that Theresa brought).


Warm Winter Flannel, Take Two

In between working on my new plaid dress I have been working on finishing up flannel pj’s for the girls.

You know, because it is so cold out (insert crazy sarcasm here).


I used the “Little Nighty Night” pattern from Favorite Things for the pants (it’s actually a pattern for shorts – I just lengthened it).  The shirt was a random white tee shirt I sewed a matching pocket onto. And voila! Jammies!


Perfect for her favorite activity: laying in front of the fireplace, reading (even when it is 70 degrees outside.  Clearly these kids are not mine).


Making Days

As the days start to pick up speed toward christmas we’ve been spending a little less time with math and science and more time with reading, writing, baking,  and crafting.


While the orgy of cookie and cake baking hasn’t quite begun in earnest, there are some being made.


Maddie made both butter cookies for frosting and hamantaschen.

I hadn’t ordered the really good gel food coloring from King Arthur Flour as I had planned, mostly because the box we got from the local Food Lion promised to give true colors.  But, as you can see, we got more of a pastel effect from them than we would like.

Oh well.  Next time.





The hamantaschen will not last long.  There’s a long list of cookies that we will make out of tradition, and there’s a long list of cookies we’d like to try.  I think the kitchen will be working pretty well non – stop for the next two weeks.


And here’s a sneak peak of the dress I am making for myself.  The fabric is wonderful – a festive and soft plaid shirting from Robert Kaufman.

It will be my third time using this pattern from Sew Lisette.  It’s probably my favorite one.

Soon we’ll be making gingerbread houses and settling in for nightly holiday movie viewings – though I am definitely putting Love Actually on tonight for knitting entertainment.  Maybe a fire, too.  And popcorn.




Celebration Season

Celebration season has officially started.

Last night was my book club’s Christmas meeting, where we all go a little more overboard with good food and wine than normal, and we exchange books (I gifted Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”)  and ornaments.

It’s always the second Sunday in December, and for me, it is generally the first “event” of the holiday season.


We read “See You In A Hundred Years” by Logan Ward, and, though we started discussing it pretty late into the evening, it looks like everyone enjoyed it.

Or, it could have been all the wine we had by then.


Maddie and I made everyone felt poinsettia pins using Heather Bailey’s Fleur Debris pattern.


My friend Gabi brought latkes – I had so been looking forward to them.


Every year that we continue on with our traditions seems to make it become more exciting, more fun, more full of fond memories. Every year we are more determined to still be doing this when we’re old and gray.

Building a lifetime of traditions with friends and family is the best gift you can give or receive – and I challenge each of you to keep with your beloved traditions or start new ones.  It’s well worth it!