What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, March 05, 2015

A Milk Challenge



15 gallons of milk sit chilled in the mudroom and counter, waiting for me to stop pretending they aren't there and actually do something with them.  It is such a constant struggle for me to keep on top of milk, particularly on weeks when we have no one taking any off of our hands.  Every few days I make something but by the next morning, the milk I used up to make that something has been replenished from that mornings milking.  

When it gets to this point, I know something drastic must be done or I will never get caught up.  And quite frankly, I am kind of sick of it all.  So today I am taking a Dairy Maid challenge- challenges always seem to make the tediousness of kitchen work more fun- how many gallons can I use up in one day?  We shall see.

Expect a bunch of pictures of....MILK...tomorrow.  (how exciting.)

I'll not only tell you how I do, I'll show you.  

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Sudsy








A friend of mine came over and we made soap last week.   We experimented with several different kinds of soaps and styles of soaps.

We added lavendar buds (that turned brown).
We made Amber Must, Lavender and Pina Colada scents. (The last was my favorite, the first was hers.)
We used metal molds and plastic ones.
We made soap 'cupcakes' using honey scent for the 'cupcake' and mixing pure cocoa for the frosting. (They look so real!)
We swirled in special soap pearly powder. (I LOVE that powder!)
We mixed coloring into half the soap 'custard' and swirled it in. (Pretty)
We added straight color to the already poured soap and swirled it in.  (I'm afraid we are going to wind up with purple hands when we use these bars.  Oops.)

The best part was that we found the most awesome soap recipe that is easier than making most dinners...you don't even have to monkey with temperatures!  (Score!)

Scratch that- the best part was the hours of laughter coming from the kitchen.  

That is always the best part.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Marching Through




 









 









March is the longest, coldest, most unbearable month of my year.  After many months of snowpants, coats, mittens, of socks and slippers I am more than ready for barefeet and going outside when the whim strikes and not after a lengthy bundling session- but the snow and icy winds linger and coats and boots still wait, dripping by the door.  After many months of half-hibernating (with the hiding out, but without the feeling of restfulness) I am anxious for stretching legs and woods walks and vitamin D soaked skin but the woods is still covered with feet of snow and the four walls still surround.  It is the longest month when all I think about is what is coming but not yet here.

I've been splurging the last few weeks at the grocery store, putting petals and stems of cheer in my cart alongside the eggs and vegetables.  And they have lasted for over a month and a half at a time...it is ridiculous, really.  I got the pink flowers above in January- and the tips of some fill glasses sitting on my piano (the last photo, taken just a few minutes ago).  Perhaps it due to the fact that our house is like the cooler at the florist shop or maybe it is just a winter miracle on my behalf.  But the $6.00 spent, stretched over a month and a half, is a worthwhile investment I'd say.  Flowers do so much to make a home and to brighten a soul, even in March.  Maybe especially in March.

Around this time, too, I begin to feel a little claustrophobic having spent the days within the same four walls and among the same clutter and pieces of Playmobil and blocks, legos and books, clothes drying on racks and clothes, outgrown.  I find that I have some sort of internal March clock that drives me to start changing things around.  Moving furniture, changing the view.  Creating bags to get out of the house for good.  

So that is what I've been doing.  The girls and I changed their room around and deep cleaned it in the meantime.  They've been choosing to sleep in the same bed every night and so one whole bed stays tidy the whole day long and we moved the desk/shelves to the other wall.  It was the first thing you saw from the hallway and with all of the girls' treasures (Corynn is particularly prone to keeping every.single.thing) it was never a nice and tidy view.  Moving that over to the other wall and the empty bed by the door, it is much more inviting to come into and much more bearable to walk past from the hallway too.   While we worked, Andrew lamented the fact that we weren't working in his bedroom.  Unfortunately, I am not sure how we could move things in the boys' room, since the bunk bed fits in like a sardine can- only one way and barely that.

I also moved the office computer and printer downstairs to the school room, because it was too freezing to type upstairs.  It has been so helpful to have it downstairs- and much more cozy.  And, turns out, the school room table which is hardly ever used for anything other than a dumping ground of craft supplies and school books/papers stays much more tidy with a computer on it.  So, that has helped with the chaotic, claustrophobic feelings too.  

Tomorrow is a date night with my Mister.   He finally did his annual birthday shave, a week or so late and that same day I gave him a long overdo haircut too.  I couldn't help but feeling almost naughty- as if I am having an affair with another man or something- how entirely different he looks!  Oh, how I've missed that chin.  It is a fine chin.   We are going to see this...super excited.  I'm hoping by watching it, he will want to install a babybox in our home.  

One can dream.



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Porch Dreams



For the past three weeks, if it hasn't been in the single digits it has been in the negative doubles.  The thermometer read -30 this morning, but it is about 8 degrees off so it was in the -20s instead.  (wow.)  It has been a crazy, crazy winter.

Last year it would require a tractor bucket load of wood a week to burn in the woodstove...this winter it has taken TWO buckets a week.  And the house is still cold.  Needless to say, our hefty wood supply piled up this fall was not 'more than plenty' as we had anticipated...we have about two more weeks of wood left and then we are going to have to get creative for the entire month of March and beginning of April.

Logs are piled up, waiting along the edge of the woods- thick with snow and ice but the snow is so deep it is almost impossible to reach it.  We'll figure something out...necessity is the mother of invention, after all.  But it has become very clear to us that something needs to change- a more efficient wood stove, for one.  And more wood needs to be split in the warm months too.  I'd like to have two years of wood, split and stacked so that there will always be an overflow available should extra wood be needed.  Yes,  changes must be made before we go through another winter like this one on this hill.  But for now, the only thing we can do is survive this one.

I could worry about where March's heat is going to come from.  But today I am choosing to dream about sitting on a porch swing on a spacious, wide wrap around porch with a book and a nice tall glass of peppermint iced tea.  The kids will be playing in the flower circle or running around the yard and I'll lift my head every so often to feel the heat soak my face.   I will dream about eating dinner together among candles in canning jars hanging from wire above, just a few steps from the kitchen door after a summer storm when the sky is orangey pink and the grass is soaked but we are warm and dry and filled.  I dream about these children and their Mama stretching legs and spreading themselves out after a long winter of being boxed in by four walls and then gathering together on the warm wood to paint pictures of birds and barns.

They won't be dreams for long.


When we first moved into this house on a hill, I remember telling Matt that this house just begged for a wrap-around porch.  I was one of those lucky girls who grew up writing letters on a wrap-around porch during the rain and eating meals out there every dinnertime.  I grew up knowing the pleasures that porches can bring and this house, with the wide open spaces and views from all sides just begged for someone to perch themselves upon a porch and soak it all in.  The clouds.  The stars.  The wind.  The fields.   Too beautiful not to beckon, to beautiful not to live in.

The very first hole dug resulted in an enormous stone.  Not an encouraging start.  

 I never actually expected a porch, mind you.  I only knew that a porch would be magnificent.   Money. Time.  Priorities.  A porch,  if it were ever to come at all, would surely come in 15 or 20 years when all those precious resources were not stretched so thin and spread out in so many different ways.


When the pipeline went through our property, uprooting hundreds of trees and stacking them in nice neat piles, Matt paid his brother to saw some of them into boards and beams.  I didn't know what they were to be used for until they were already stacked and waiting as Matt announced they were for a porch.





I couldn't believe it.  An amazing, overwhelming, inconceivable gift of love.  Matt had listened to that dream and made it a reality even when I never, ever imagined it would ever become anything more than a dream.



As overjoyed as I was at the prospect of a wonderful porch, I have to admit I baulked a bit.    A million different things calling for Matt's time and attention. But most of all, there is always more pressing needs begging for any extra money we could scratch out.  A more reliable vehicle. Better windows.  A more efficient woodstove.  A cheese press.  A sawmill.  Bills.  Savings.  Pragmatic.  Unfanstastic.  Reasonable.  Boring.

This will ALWAYS be the case, though, won't it?





I am glad for a husband who knows when to be prudent and when to lavish.  A husband who will invest time and money into something that our family can enjoy for the remainder of our years here instead of burning it up with expensive vacations or large, greedy purchases.  A husband whose hands and heart produce beautiful things.  A husband who takes the barely uttered dreams of his wife and makes them reality- for no other reason than to please her.

This porch is more than a 12 foot wide piece of three-season paradise.  It is more than a gathering place, a feasting place, a resting place, a place to admire and enjoy the goodness of the earth and the glory of God.  To me, more than anything else, it will always be a love note from my Mister.

 





He began the work last fall and finished the decking just as winter came to stay.  A neighbor came to dig holes.  A brother came for a day.  A father helped through it all.  The last few days of work required many hot coffee breaks and steamy soup bowls at lunch to warm up bones before finishing up for the day.  When (if?) the weather finally breaks, work will begin again on the roofing and railings.  Lots more to do.  Plenty more money to scrounge.  But this is a dream IN PROGRESS.







Through these cold winter days, I find myself daydreaming about that porch and being outside with barefeet and sleeveless shirts.  Feeling warm sunshine on my skin and listening to birdsong and the jingle of the cow bells in the field beyond. Swinging away on a porch made of love.