Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WIP (almost) Wednesday

In my head this egg has two names... one, Linda's Lovely Easter Egg... and the other, Giant Preppy Easter Egg!

I can't help, that is just what kept coming to my mind as I was finishing it, those stripes! I did intend to make more, but seeing as it came out quite large I think one will be enough for now. I'm sure the girls will love discovering it this Sunday. I did enjoy knitting it.. (thanks Linda!)

Here is Chloe's spring child picture that she needle felted recently. I love it, we really needed some cheery color inside, it is still quite brown and bare outdoors...

Perhaps Chessa is expecting a rainy day soon? That would be nice, recent storms brought yet more snow, but the sun does seem to be warmer every day!

Friday, March 19, 2010

farewell to winter

We are very in between seasons here... some days will be like spring, but a few can still be winter... much of the snow has melted away, but not all...

The girls have now spent many long days outside, at least the long driveway is clear enough for lots of running up and down.

They had been watching those piles of snow, knowing which ones would melt away first, and talking on and on about all that they would be creating out of the mud for their "fairy house people" this spring. (but so you know, they are not really fairies, they are just people like us, but they are very little. of course there are real fairies too, but that is very different and these are not them.) Their first long days work... chairs, baskets, cradles, dolls, there is nothing they will not make out of the mud! Of course later in the season the grasses, flowers, leaves, and seeds will provide much of what the fairy house people need.

The hillside facing our house, just across the dirt road, sunny and bare, brown with pine needles...

and the family of deer that sometimes make their home there, browsing in the sunlight, or sleeping in their shady beds...

All day long, the girls playing out front in the sun, the deer right up on the hillside, it was like they were spending the day together. If a car came along the deer would pause, listen, wait. But the talking, singing, laughing and going about of my girls caused them no concern. How happy we are to share these days with those sweet animals.

Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention the day when the deer where off somewhere else, so the fox visited instead! Look closely and you might be able to see... (the girls would not go out that day!)

It was supposed to snow all weekend, or maybe rain if we're lucky, or maybe nothing. It did snow a bit this morning, but see what the sky was looking like in the afternoon. Pretty nice! Of course it was snowing again by evening, but just the tiniest flakes, they really were dancing, floating about in all directions, even up. The wind has been blowing strong, not sure what it's saying though, it's cold but it feels so good and fresh.

Even if winter chooses not to leave us quite yet, there is still such a bright happy feeling in the air. And tomorrow we will celebrate the first day of spring. Wishing a very happy new season to you all!

Monday, March 15, 2010

One Small Change for March - Food Choices

Did I say I would get this post done this weekend? Hmmm, that was silly of me. The weekend seemed to have other plans, very nice ones, not involving the computer, (except for just a bit of vintage fabric browsing, and a bit of homeschool lesson planning)...

So our March small change is not really small at all for us, as you may have realized by now we put a lot of though into our food choices, we always have, and now some big changes are happening. I do realize there may be other families whose goal is to move to closer to a vegan diet, and here we are doing the opposite. Kinda funny. Food choices are so personal, I am certainly not saying that what we do is best, I do wish for everyone to have good healthy food from this earth to feed their bodies, we are trying to do what we believe is best for our own family. (My post here last week explains a bit of where we are at now, and this one here really starts at the beginning.) You may also have realized by now that I tend to ramble on and on about this, (can you just imagine the conversations we have here at home, or the thoughts swirling around in our heads), so now I am going to try to be somewhat brief...

What we are no longer purchasing...

Margarine! You know, the earth balance stuff that is supposedly good for you because it is non-hydrogenated, etc... long before I became concerned with our consumption of various vegetable oils I was greatly distressed by the plastic tubs it came in. This was the first thing to go from our refrigerator. I could not bring myself to buy another tub of it at the store! So we bought organic butter instead. Of course it still comes wrapped in paper and in a box, still too much waste in my opinion, but until we can be making our own someday, this is what we will have to do.

Soymilk. Whatever size carton it comes in it is still totally un-recyclable. Again, I could not bring myself to purchase another box. So for now we are buying organic, whole, unhomogenized milk in glass bottles. We trade in the used bottles when we buy more. I am in the process of looking into raw milk sources in our area, fortunately there are some...

Soy yogurt. Not something that we bought regularly anyway, but a good example... there are at least 10 to 15 ingredients in plain soy yogurt! Or we could eat yogurt that is only one ingredient. This we will definitely be making for ourselves soon!

Speaking of dairy, I am going to help Sara with goat chores on the farm this season. After babies are born and mamas are ready I will be helping with the milking and everything! We hope to learn a lot over on the farm this year!

More things we aren't buying...
Vegan mayonnaise (yes, veganaise tastes really good, oh well...)
Vegan cheese. We didn't buy this much either. (Neither the cheese nor the mayonnaise have been replaced with the real versions. I'm sure we will never buy mayonnaise in a jar. Not too sure about the packaged cheeses either.)
Canola oil. I have been buying only olive oil and butter. Sometimes I am using palm shortening for baking. Good cause it is organic, non-hydrogenated, etc... very bad cause still in big yuck plastic tub. Need to stop using it, but if I baked with only butter right now it would be way too strong for us, we are still adjusting to these new tastes.

Things we are still buying but cutting down on...
Tofu and tempeh are the big ones here. We especially like tempeh, and need to keep in the good protein sources, though of course we eat a whole lot of beans too!

I suppose eggs would be a good substitute for the tofu. We are working our way towards eating them, but some of these changes are happening slower that others. We want to eat them, but wow, this is all pretty crazy for us, it's like we aren't sure how to go about it... I have found a local source for free range, organic, soy-free eggs though. Yay.

We are still doing well with our original small change, food packaging. Haven't even bought a box of crackers in several months. Though still haven't made our own either. Crackers and tortillas are on my list of things to make soon.

We are comfortable with our decision to no longer be vegan, and we are making steps towards what is an ideal diet for our family. We would prefer to be eating eggs from our own chickens, to be milking our own goats, but for now we are making the best choices we feel that we can. We could not wait to make these changes, so this is were we are starting.

One of the craziest things about this all though... I became vegan when I was barely 20, anything I can remember ever cooking has been vegan... I sure learned how to be a good vegan baker... now I feel like I am learning to cook all over again! Fun. I am up for the challenge!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

WIP Wednesday (on Tuesday evening, again)

I am happy to say that I spent much of my weekend stitching away at various projects! First there was some sewing.. did I mention the apron I am working on? It is for dearest Suzanne, (down in the meadow), it is so fun to be making something for her, but I cannot show you pictures, it must be a surprise! So onto other projects...

This little embroidered girl received my attention most of the day on Sunday. I really needed to begin a new embroidery project, missing all that stitching I did on Chloe's special gift, I had done a sketch of this little girl earlier in the week, I am using wonderful organic cotton poplin again, one of my favorite fabrics! I outlined her in stem stitch, that is all I was going to do, then I filled in the ribbons on her bonnet, then I started filling in her whole dress, now the blue on the bottom is looking kinda off, not sure if I will fill that in solid or perhaps work some other little design in there... wish I had a lighter pink to fill in the bonnet, there is a surprising lack of pink in my piles of embroidery thread, shall have to remedy that soon... Perhaps I will do a vining flowery border around her, I don't even know what it will be made into, so fun to work on though. I have this obsession with filling in embroideries, tiny stitches, I am using only two strands of cotton...

When the girls were outside playing, or sleeping at night, I did a bit of spring surprise needle felting, my first attempt at some little eggs, I need to make more of these...

And then , as if I don't have any projects going on, I decided on Monday afternoon that I could not go on any longer without learning how to knit granny squares. I think I got off to a good start, not perfect, still trying to figure out a couple things, but one step closer on my way to making that granny square afghan!

I think I have enough to keep me busy for a while! Happy creating!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

vegan journey pt. 2 & one small change

I know I had said I might write next a bit about our experiences raising vegan children, perhaps I will at another time, but because I also want to write about our one small change for March, I just really need to get on with the story now...

So there we were, vegan forever, of course. (Oh yeah, part one is right here.) Our families were for the most part supportive. It was simple because it was a given that there were no compromises to be made. (We face many more issues trying to explain our reasons for most of our other lifestyle choices.. homebirths, no vaccinations, homeschooling, Waldorf, no television, no plastic toys, no synthetic fabrics, super particular about books... we are surely sometimes considered to be difficult. So us being vegan was really the least of it.)

For so many of the earliest years being vegan was a very big part of our lives. But eventually life became about so many other good things, and we just happened to be vegan, and in many ways we didn't think about it much anymore.

I wrote once here about our decision to start using wool, and how it really it all started with beeswax. The feelings we were left most with were how could we choose these synthetic materials, these petroleum based crayons, fake leather shoes, I don't care if it's recycled fleece, it's still plastic... (personal opinion here, respectfully shared, not at all judging!) ... and so we chose beeswax. And a couple years later we started using wool. You see it takes us quite a long time to come to these decisions...

But we certainly were not at that time thinking that we would ever not be vegan. Obviously something changed though. I am realizing now why it has been a little bit difficult for me to continue this story, there is so much to it and we are still so much in the middle of it. So what you are reading here cannot be all of the story...

I will tell you now though that we are no longer vegan. And I will tell you just a few of the specific things that brought about this change, these things that we have been putting much thought into over the past year or so...

Much of it goes back to the natural versus synthetic thing. We want to eat real food! Now of course we have always eaten plenty of real, good food. We eat a lot more beans, whole grains, and vegetables than we do tofu or other soy products. We almost never ate any of the fake soy meats, only occasionally bought soy cheese, (in recent years only, cause most soy cheese wasn't even vegan a long time ago), and in general our use of processed packaged foods was fairly minimal. But... we used soy milk everyday, not to drink but for cereal, baking, Jason's coffee, that he drank every morning for 10 years, (but he quit last year, hasn't had coffee in almost 6 months!), and sometimes we bought soy yogurt, and then there was the soy margarine, in the plastic container, with the various vegetable oils... And I would say that we don't eat a lot of soy products? That sure seems like a lot to me. Lots of trash too! Only recently has there been recycling options for the #5 plastic tubs in our town. And I am seriously sad and disturbed to think of all the soymilk boxes that we have thrown away over the years.

And not only do we want to only eat real food, we want to produce as much of our own food as we can. Jason and I grew our first garden together 13 years ago, since then we have had gardens of various sizes, but moving around a lot makes it a bit more challenging. We own the house we live in now and this will be our third season gardening here, but still, we have plans to move to a bigger piece of land, we will grow everything we can, and we at least want to have chickens and goats. Now of course this brings up more issues for us, can we really take responsibility for these animals, for bringing new lives into this world, and what will the outcome of that be? What will we do when the chickens are not laying so well, can we even emotionally handle losing an animal to illness or tragedy? We sure do not have the answer to these questions yet. But we are putting a lot of serious thought into it.

And now friends, because this has gotten to be so very long, I think I need to say again to be continued. But much sooner than last time I promise! By next weekend at least I will be back to tell you our March one small change, which is all about new food choices.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read what I am sharing here. It comes out so long, and really sometimes I am actually being brief. I am very happy to read any thoughts you might like to share as well.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

WIP Wednesday ~ Little Lamb

I have lots of spring crafting thoughts going through my head these days! There is so much great inspiration out there too. (Rhythm of the Home!)

So this here is what I call Angela's Little Lamb. She has written a wonderful poem as well which some of you may have seen in Living Crafts. I believe the pattern will be published on their website soon, but Angela had sent it to me a while ago. This is the first animal I have knitted other than hens and chicks, which are obviously as simple as can be. Hard to photograph a dark brown lamb, I would have preferred to knit it in natural colored wool, but this was all I had at the moment and I really wanted to get started. The girls are thrilled with him... we think it is him... He was half finished when the girls got sick. One day Chessa fell asleep on the couch with him in her little hand. His legs were not sewn on yet but he was already loved. I must confess though that he still has no tail.

Little lamb is standing in a flower meadow that the girls made. Do you see all those little flowers... teeny tiny ones cut carefully from fabric... It really is very pretty. To see the wonderful things that are created by my children makes me very happy.

Wishing you all many happy creating moments too!

Monday, March 1, 2010

happy monday moments

I had a pair of pink stripe knee high socks. They were my favorite. Pink. Stripes. Knee highs. Lots to love.

Plaid makes me happy too.

March makes me happy too!

(older photo, this is most certainly not March here!)

I could make a list of 100 ways my family makes me happy. Many more ways than that really...

A tree, a forest, a river... more than happy.

Words... kind words shared so generously by many of you. Thank you for that kindness!

We had a very nice weekend. There was a little bit of knitting and a lot of sewing. Health returning. I did a lot to make sure we were ready for Monday. Something I always try to do actually. On Monday's I try to get a really good start to the work week so that hopefully some of the other days will not be quite so intense. We do just a bit of school work in the morning, today it was some math practice and then a story. Tomorrow I won't work in the morning and we will get in some good lesson time. (Really, honestly, I will be doing homeschool posts again. It just seems that sometimes doing the school work and writing about, and photographing it, well it's perhaps a bit too much all at once...)

So I made sure we had a good nurturing weekend for ourselves. Creating, baking, planning some meals for the week. And I made sure that I was emotionally prepared! I made sure that I spent some time close with the girls this morning before I started working. I even took time for some yoga. And then I had a long but pretty good and productive day.

And I was sure to have happy thoughts and have happy moments.

So, about those great pink knee highs... I lost them a few years ago. I could never figure out what could have possibly happened to them. I was sad that they were gone forever. And then today I found them!