Scotland, Ho!

Despite a last – minute run to the doctor for steroids to clear up lots of fluid in my ear (yeah….hooray), we are off to Edinburgh tomorrow!

Maddie, Neve, and I will be there for three days before heading down to London for five days. After that we’ll spend a few days in Paris and Versailles, and finish our trip with three nights in Germany.

I’ll try to post here while I’m away, even if only pictures.

Paul, Emily, and Oona will hold down the fort here and take care of the animals (Neve and I worked the sheep and goats yesterday to make sure they’d be okay while we are gone).


So close

Summer is truly starting to happen around here.  It’s pretty difficult these days to get the kids to buckle down and do any school work, now that the pool has been opened.


After not opening it last year, I can’t tell you how happy it makes us just to see it open and blue and ready for swimming!

We can’t tear ourselves away from it.  That and watermelon.  We’re pretty highly addicted to watermelon these days. We are really hoping our watermelon plants produce this summer!


The garden is still getting the idea to really take off. All of the summer and winter squashes, the tomato plants, the pepper plants….they all seem to be *just* on the verge of exploding into massive growth.  So far the deep hay mulch I’ve been using has been helping with the weeds really, really well. It doesn’t help with the massive spiders and wriggly baby snakes, but that’s a whole other story altogether.

I’ve also broken down and tried Neem oil this year.  Since the bees aren’t hanging out with the back garden yet (as nothing has flowered) I’ve been spraying in the evening to keep the pests at bay.  So far, so good.  Once the plants begin to flower I’ll cross my fingers and hope like mad the squash bugs have been deterred for the season.

We also discovered that the bunny nest we had last spring might be a recurring thing.  This year, they nested under the blackberry bushes by the pool (smart little buns! All those thorns to keep predators away!).

We discovered the nest as the babies were leaving it, and Neve rescued one slower one from the dogs. Never a dull moment here.

And speaking of those blackberry bushes:


They are suddenly covered in hundreds of pre-blackberries!  Sadly, my guess is I won’t be around to enjoy those when they are finally ready.  Europe is so, so close now.  We leave one week from today.

Neve and Maddie and I can’t stop reminding each other how many days left before we will be in Scotland. It seems more like an actual reality every day now, whereas before it seemed like a lovely dream.

We’ve got our itinerary pretty well planned and packed; but we’ve left time in each city to simply wander and explore, to discover its treasures organically. I’m also looking forward to the time we will spend on the trains (one from Edinburgh to London, one from London to Paris, one from Paris to Wiesbaden).  We’ll see many friends while we are there, and that seems like the best possible icing on this fantastic travel cake.

So, so soon.

But first, much prep work left to do.


Finished: Amelia Dress

I have been relying on Neve to take my pictures of finished apparel since I haven’t got a remote for my camera.

Usually it turns out well.  She’s got a little work to do making sure she frames the shots right and doesn’t get me a totally unflattering angle (she likes to sit and shoot upwards at me, which tends to me me look super top-heavy).

Today we had a cute distraction, so it’s okay.

But first, the dress.  I used The Amelia Dress pattern from Green Bee Patterns (you should check out their other offerings; there’s some cute kid patterns!) which is a dress that uses regular woven cotton or linen, but is cut on the bias so it hangs in a more flattering and comfortable fashion.

For the fabric I chose “Sprinkles” in Indigo from Dear Stella.

I’ve made the dress once before and enjoyed both the project and the dress itself, so I thought I’d have another go at it.


I super love it. Also, it’s 100 times more flattering in person. (and it’s got pockets!!!!!)


(This is my “I’m going to move a bit to the left but oh are you still taking pics?” look.

I really like that that the fabric has a kind of universe/Doctor Who-y kind of feel about it.

Orzo really liked it, too. In fact, he showed his appreciation by rolling all around on the ground at Neve’s feet while she was supposed to be taking pictures of my dress.


Which is how I wound up with many more pictures of him than me.

Oh well. Can’t argue with cute!




Then she handed off the camera and cuddled him up.

In other news, the roses are blooming, and there’s a sweet little bird’s nest in one of the bushes!


So far I haven’t seen any activity going on in it, but it’s still nice to see it there.

We’ve also been getting a respectable amount of strawberries out of the garden.


So far we are getting a good handful every evening.  I haven’t been allowing them to spread so that they will focus their energy into berry production. I’ll stop picking off the feelers after the peak fruiting and next year we should be absolutely awash in strawberries!


Finished: Thurlow Pants

Confession: I’ve never really made pants before.

I mean, I’ve made kid pants, but they’ve been of the yoga and sweat variety, all with elastic waistbands.

These are honest to goodness, zipper and pockets kind of pants. They are Thurlows from Sewaholic, and I used a fantastic sewalong over at lladybird to work out the pattern better.

As the first pair, I am pretty pleased with the results.


Although I’ve been trying to work through (and use up) my existing fabric stash, these were made of  leftovers from my Minoru jacket.


I’m more or less happy with the fit as well, though I’m not sure they are as flattering as I’d like. They are comfortable, and the length is just about where I’d like it, if a teensie bit long (and I finally learned how to use my blind hem foot on my machine!).


The one thing I can say that I need to improve is the fit in the seat/back thigh area.  It’s a bit bulky.  To fix it, though, I’ll have to unstitch the crotch area (lordy I hate that word) and pull in the extra fabric allowance. (yeah……I didn’t use a muslin to work that out first. I’m far, far too lazy and impatient for that).


I took a bit of width out of the cuffs, as well.  They were quite a lot wider than I liked.


The funny thing is, the details that I thought I would have the most trouble with came out the best. The zipper, the back welt pockets, the hem.


See what I mean about saggy baggy back?

But check out those pockets!

Honestly I think it’ll only be a minor adjustment to the fit to fix the sag.  It’s just going to take me awhile to feel like actually doing it.

Crazy Saturday!

What a day!

My plans for this weekend included two things, and two things only: red wine and sewing.

The universe had other ideas.

We started off nicely enough; coffee on the couch and taking our time getting started.

But, things escalated rapidly. The pigs got out of their pen.

Then when I was getting dressed I got a text from Paul, who was downstairs. It was a picture. Of a snake. Half way up our porch door.


It was about a four-foot long black snake, and it was climbing up the screen door we have propped up outside. We never use the porch door; it leads out to the side porch that one day we will screen in, but right now tends to be a haven for spiders and wayward bugs.

After Mr. Snake was sent off to the woods, Paul banged on the window to tell me to look at the bees.

Now, first of all, I must preface by telling you that yesterday I noticed a sign in my new neighbor’s yard, proudly proclaiming they’d just been treated by The Mosquito Authority.


So I called said company, and they reassured me that the product they use poses no threat to honeybees and only killed off ticks and mosquitoes.

So I did research. They use a chemical called bifenthrin.  After searching many, many sites on the internet and consulting with honeybee experts, I came to understand that the only people on the planet claiming bifenthrin is safe for bees is the company in the business of spraying it all over peoples’ yards.  (The EPA website lists it as “highly toxic” to bees).

So, this morning when Paul told me to check on the bees, I was pretty worried.

Turns out, they were swarming.

Swarming is actually not a huge deal.  A hive gets too big, a queen gets too old, or a hive has a proclivity to swarm, and BAM.  Half the bees take off with one queen, leaving half behind with the second. I had a second hive for the swarm to move into, but sadly they flew too far and we’ve been unable to catch them.  I have a lure set out, but it’s anybody’s guess whether I’ll catch them.

I’m still pissed at my jackass neighbor, though.

And the pigs got out again.

Whatever.  At least those pork butts are smart and they come right back if you’ve got food.

I will leave you with some cute news so you don’t think it’s all bad (I have since poured myself a big glass of wine).

Last week Paul went to get new tires put on the car, and while he was there the mechanics found a small group of baby bunnies whose mother had been killed. They had them in a box but didn’t know what to do with them in that urban setting.


Paul brought them home and we set them free in the front garden, where we figured they’d be fairly safe and secure.


Most of them hopped off right away, but one little guy stuck around in the safety of the vegetable rows for awhile.




We’ve caught glimpses here and there of at least one in the evenings.  We at least gave them a fighting chance.

Here’s to a less exciting tomorrow!

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.

Impulse Ducks

What happens when you innocently wander into the feed store to buy, well, feed, and you happen to hear some chirping and cheeping?


Apparently, if you’re me, you bring home 6 new ducklings.


They are Khaki Campbell, of unknown gender as yet.  They are still rather small and downy-soft, but luckily these babies come to the farm when the temperatures have turned summery, so I haven’t needed a heat lamp.


Oona of course is smitten.


She wants to name two of them Dasher and Nibbler.


Orzo’s pretty interested in them as well.

Hopefully these little guys stick around here for a good, long time.