Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rhythm of the Home Is Live... and We're in it!

Hello dear long lost friends! 

I promise to be back to blogging soon. You see, since I last touched base we've been busy. Isn't funny how having a sick baby, tackling Jonas' speech issues, taking vacations, finding a new home (long story there...) planning and starting homeschool, oh and just LIFE in general seems to pile up on you like that? Obviously blogging went by the wayside! 

In addition to all that loveliness (which truly we are blessed-so I don't mind the busyness), I have been working on two articles for Rhythm of the Home's Autumn edition! It went live today so I thought I'd pop in here to share them with you as well as a few photos from our first day of Kindergarten this week (or as Deirdre insists on calling it kinder "garden"! 

Simple Knitted Apples-  http://rhythmofthehome.com/2012/09/simple-knitted-apples/

Celebrating Autumn: A Community Perspectivehttp://rhythmofthehome.com/2012/09/celebrating-autumn-a-community-perspective/ (my blurb and photo is the second one down) 

So enjoy the articles and photos. And also thank you for your support and encouragement. It is really nice to exercise my mind and heart when contributing to ROTH. 

Always, 
Nicole 










Friday, July 13, 2012

Speeding Along

I apologize for the double post, but blogger deleted my first draft of this blog! 
Dyeing play silks for the ocean sprite  swaps- see photos below. 



Wouldn't you know, it's mid-July already! It also means that summer is half over already. As a child July always seemed to speed by, much to my dismay. I was, and always will be, a beach girl. The ending of summer always was sad, since it meant less time near the sea. But in the same token, I loved getting back to school. School was an escape in itself from my tumultuous home life. 

On the subject of school, we still haven't made a firm decision yet for Deirdre. However, Jonas' speech assessment is in 12 days. Hopefully by then we will know more, as well as if school is in the future for him to help his speech vs. in home therapy. 

I spent some time in the book of James this week. I know that God is really speaking to me through chapter one. As I continue to meditate on it, I am hope it's specific application to my life will elucidate itself. Until then, I know I have asked God for wisdom and I believe that he will give it. I am not a wave on the ocean tossed about by the wind. I never have been

On the 4th of July we made firefly crafts from Kiwi Crate! And the even glowed! 

The kiddos on the 4th.  

I have been trying to soak up this time with the kids. Bit by bit I am getting out more. Bit by bit I am able to do more. I am starting to feel back to my old self, but a better more centered version. I also have been taking more time for myself, which means getting to the gym and waking up early for some quiet time. I have also been spending more time in the kitchen too. I am hoping to cut out more and more processed foods from our diet because for one it really is bad and two, it's expensive! Plus I do enjoy cooking as I have come to find out, especially since my little chef Jonas likes to help. Deirdre likes to bake more, she leaves the cooking for Jonas. Some of my more recent adventures have been making icecream, yogurt, fruit rolls, and just cooking more of our meals in general. 

We made ice cream on the 4th too. 


I also have been crafting a bit for the swap group I joined called bits of goodness. Here are my finished projects for the wizardry and summer swap. Being a part of this group is so much fun, plus my kiddos get great toys. 

Until next time, 
Nicole 


An ocean sprite, ocean silk, and mermaid table card.  
The sprite was wood burned. Then I dyed him with Stockmar watercolors. Then I finished him with shellac and added the wool roving wings. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Grace Enough and Some Summer





Pool Playdate Party celebrating Summer at our house this past Friday

Our summer nature table


Dancing to music at a local summer concert

Ah it seems summer in in full swing here. Since my last blog (I believe it's been two weeks) we have been having lots of fun, with some tribulation. I think I am beginning to hit my stride with three children. Don't get me wrong, I have tough days. Days where I feel like I get nothing 'constructive' done. But I try not to let that get me down or define my day. In the end, loving and connecting with my children is more important than stressing myself out by cramming our schedules or cleaning like a maniac. A friend recently told me that as long as nothing is growing then we're doing OK, and so far that hasn't happened yet! 


And in all honesty I think now I have the perspective to know how fleeting these days are. I'd rather remember playing, cooking, and cuddling with my kids, than dusting. But that's just me. 


Right now my family is in an interesting state. We are trying to plan out our 'school' for the next year. Our intention was to home-school all the kids until at least the 1st grade, and we'd still like to do that. However in recent weeks, my husband and I have come to realize that Jonas is having some real issues with speech, versus just taking his time. I am not going to get into too many specifics because at this point we just don't know what exactly is going but we do knot that something is awry and that he needs help. Help that I alone cannot just give him. So he is going in for an assessment on July 22nd. 


In the meantime, my husband and I are in a big 'what if' stage. Since it is looking like Jonas is going to need us and our help a bit more, what about Deirdre... and homeschooling? Will I have the time to do it? What is best for her? What is best for Jonas? Oh yes and the baby? Ah, as you can see there are many questions. I think I change my mind 3 times a day about it all. Not to mention the whole gamut of emotions I am feeling about Jonas and the hardship he is going through. I had some really low points recently. Nothing brings you low like when your children experience hardship, as I am coming to find out. 


The upside is that it is just speech that Jonas is having trouble with. He understands everything we say, interacts, and is just such a loving fun guy. Last week we started potty training him and I am happy to say he is now trained, and he did it himself mostly! 


So all in all, things are going well. I am enjoying the kids and this time, even if I don't have all the answers and everything planned out. But then again, I never did before now either. I have faith that God has grace enough for me and my children and the Craig and I will make the best decision we can for them and our family. And quite frankly that's pretty freeing. 


So I'll leave you with some photos of the past 2 weeks. And please remember my family in your prayers. We could really use some discernment and peace. 

Until then, 
Nicole 

Making homemade icecream

Making pie-crust for our blueberry cream pie

Potty training, woo-hoo! Also yes Jonas got a much needed haircut in the past two weeks. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

{this moment}


{this moment} 
A Friday weekend ritual birthed by SouleMama. A single photo - no a few words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Brynna Lisette at 10 weeks old. 
She has fully discovered smiling and cooing. 
Be still my little heart...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Virginia's Peaches: Picking and A Canning Recipe








Hello dear friends! I am so excited to share with you bit of our peach picking trip that my family took this past Tuesday. As I mentioned in my last post, Summer for us is fruit filled. Beginning with strawberries in May and ending with blueberries in August (plus apple in September),  we spend our summer picking and day tripping. 

Last Summer we managed to squeeze in strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and apples. However this year my daughter is determined to pick everything that comes in season... in our state! Sadly we already missed cherry season by two days due to a late frost that killed most of the orchard's crop but I was happy to discover peaches just came in season. So we packed all the kids up- baby too- and headed to Charlottesville which is about 2-2.5 hours away. While the weather was a bit cloudy and sprinkling on our way up, the trip was so worth it.  Once you've picked and eaten a fresh peach- all other peaches will pale in comparison. 

The orchard we went to was the same one we visited this Autumn with our co-op, Carter Mountain. I have come to really love this place. The set-up is great, especially for families. It is also beautiful. Every time I visit this area of our state, I don't want to leave. I adore the mountains.  After we picked, and treated ourselves to some fresh baked peach donuts and peach cider slush- we headed home to make peach cobbler, juice, and jam. 

I used my bread maker this time to make jam. My machine specifically has a jam setting! I was given this maker for Christmas from my mother. I use it almost daily. You'd be surprised how many things is can make. I primarily use it to make dough, so I can shape and bake my bread it myself. But I digress, I will just have to write a bread maker post another time!







I doubled and slightly modified the recipe that was included in my bread maker cookbook. You can also follow this recipe by using your stove top, just skip down and I explain that process below. 

Also if you blanch your peaches first, it makes peeling them so much easier! 


Virginia Peach Jam

Ingredients:
-4 cups of peeled and sliced peaches (if yours are not mushy ripe yet then you'll need to slightly mash them)
-2 cups organic sugar
-1 tps of apple pie spice (optional but I liked the extra kick it gives) 
-5 tps of lemon juice 
-3 tbls regular fruit pectin (optional but since peaches have less natural pectin in them and your jam will be a bit runny and more like preserves if you omit this)

If your using a bread machine, select your jam setting and sit back! Once it's done transfer your jam immediately to their jars. If you don't process them in a hot water bath, then you will need to keep your jams in the fridge or freezer. Processed jar will last 6 months in your pantry. 

If you don't have a bread machine, just add all the ingredients to a large boiling pot and bring your jam to a boil, stirring constantly. Once you've got a rolling boil add your pectin and boil for two minutes. Then remove from heat and transfer your jam immediately to their jars. As I said above, if you aren't going to give them a hot water bath to seal the jars, you'll need to put them right into your fridge or freezer. 

Cheers and Enjoy!
Until next time, 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bud the Blackberry Gnome





With Virginia's berry picking season upon our doorstep, I received some much needed crafting inspiration. I am happy to introduce to you all, Bud, our blackberry gnome. His job, according to my 4 year old daughter Deirdre, is to guard the berries from 'pesky animals' whom 'take more than their share of the blackberries'. He also keeps the 'unfriendly insects' at bay- as well as 'helps the berries ripen up just right'. 


I made him using 50/50 wool felt. I find that using blends is easier to embroider, after using 100% wool felt for awhile. His blackberry hat was made using french knots. His cloak and outfit were made using Wee Folk's pattern and a running blanket stitch. 






The blueberry bush and cherry tree behind him were made by myself last summer. If you're interested in how I did it, I wrote an article for Rhythm of the Home magazine detailing the process. Bud now resides on our Spring/Summer nature table. I plan on also making him some other berry friends to keep him company! If you'd like to read about our blackberry picking trip last year you can find it here


Summer is still officially a month away, however we are having days up into the nineties already. With a tiny baby, I am finding it hard to enjoy the outdoors as much since she can't wear bug spray or sunscreen yet. But I am making do. I set up our back yard porch (which is just a large paved area surrounded by our plum tree and fairy gardens) so that my older kids can play out there alone. 


Now when I say alone, they're really not alone. They just think they are! I am actually right next to them, since our living room sliding glass and screen door opens up right out onto the porch.  I can and hear them as if they were in the next room, yet they're outside. I have a mud kitchen, wading pool, chalk, art supplies, trucks, a table and chairs, our fairy garden, and some riding toys all out there for them. And once Brynna is asleep, I then set her in a cradle near the door inside, so I can hear her, and then join Deirdre and Jonas outdoors. Let's just say this set up has been a hit on both ends. Now they don't have to wait for me to stop nursing to go outside. 


Plus I think that this little bit of perceived independence helps build their confidence and let's them play a bit more freely. Jonas and Deirdre have been working out their sibling squabbles more on their own out there too, which is nice. 






I will post some photos of our porch soon, behind the star is a glimpse. I lost my camera for a few days but I've found it again, yippee! Oh and yes, we've been making Waldorf window stars over here. Deirdre and I are addicted! 


I also am starting up my craft for the 'Bits of Goodness' Wizardry World themed swap I joined. Thank you Kelly over at Happy Whimsical Hearts for introducing me to this group. I am making 5 wooden Hungarian Horn-tail dragons and 5 golden eggs, as inspired by the Harry Potter series. I hope they turn out well. 


Until next time, 
Nicole 


Daily Verse or Quote:

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.


– Matthew 18:2-3 (NIV)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Farm Girl Sewing and Garden Updates



This week went by in flash. These three kids keep me on my toes for sure, but I don't mind. I am loving this new busy full life of ours. 

I did however get to steal away a few hours in my sewing room during nap time. I was determined to sew something for Deirdre since as I was sorting out seasonal clothes and I saw that she grew out of two of the dresses I've made for her- which really saddens me. 

But thankfully Mommy can sew more and I had some very cute fabric on hand to sew something for my farm girl. I especially love this fabric because we own a Dominique hen, who is black with white polka dots. The result was the above dress. I used Oliver and S's free pop-over sundress pattern. You can find the link to the pattern here.

I think I can now say that I am past being a beginner sewer. However this dress was easy. It took me two hours from cutting to finish. I highly recommend it as a beginner project. It is even easier than a pillowcase dress. I even sewed in some ribbon to the dress yoke for some added flare. 


Above you can also see our new family rhythm watercolor chart. The kids helped me paint it. So far it is working wonderfully for us. I was inspired by Becca's chart here on her blog, Chocolate Eyes. 

I hope you all had a great week too. Below is an update on our fairy garden. It is coming along nicely. Now all we have to do is keep the deer out! 

Cheers, 
Nicole 

PS: Does anyone know of any good summer craft swaps going on? I'd love to join one.