Saturday, December 10, 2016

Winter wonderland eye candy

Yesterday, I stomped down our driveway, lined by snow-covered Cedar and Hemlock trees, bending their boughs with the weight of snow.

I walked by the goat pasture, where we keep this year's babies - not babies any more, but friendly, fat goats, fur fluffed up to keep them warm, greeting me with loud maaahs to entice me to throw them a flake of hay.

My destination was my neighbor's house, where we gathered for singing practice with another friend.  The three of us have been singing a capella for seven years.

Walking up the hill to meet them, looking at all the beauty around me, anticipating joining voices with my friends, I felt a little weepy with gratitude for my life.  (Steve recorded us singing by the river last year, if you want to hear us sing.)

Of course, our (human) kids LOVE the snow.  In fact, they are building a snow fort as I write this, because it snowed some more since yesterday.  Little Eva just brought our dog Raka inside, since Raka apparently is intent on destroying their fort.

So she's curling up by the woodstove now, keeping me company.  I'm writing this by the twinkling lights on the tree, listening to Christmas music.  We put up the tree two nights ago.

Yes, it's Christmassy around here.

Before all the snow hit, we prepared for it by harvesting kale from the garden and moving the greenhouse over the rest of the kale and collard bed to protect it, so we'll hopefully have greens all winter long.

Before the North-Easter blew in, two days of cold weather with sunshine made for beautiful walks in the neighborhood.  Let me show off some of the eye candy around here.

I hope you are able to find peace right now as well.  I know things are crazy out there, with lots of anxiety and polarity everywhere.

Let me leave you with images of what keeps me sane.

My oldest son making waffles for the whole family:

My younger son homeschooling at the kitchen table, framed with all the paper snowflakes he has been cutting:

Visiting dear friends with a new puppy:

Watching my kids play in the snow.  I keep telling them: "You could be sitting in school right now", and they roll their eyes at me.

My beloved family:

Monday, December 5, 2016

A little late, but better late than never.

Here is the November Highlights of my "Homesteading in Paradise" video series.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

You should read this if you are a knitter or a friend of a knitter

If you have read my blog for a while, or if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you have most certainly come across pictures of my knitting.  

I joke that knitting is my psychotherapy and keeps me sane, and that's what I tell my husband when I fondle yarn at the yarn store, while he patiently waits, credit card in his hand.

He wouldn't want me to be emotionally unbalanced, now, would he?  Ahem.

I've been knitting since I was a little girl.  I'm full-blooded German. Born and raised there, I grew up in a culture where mothers and grandmothers have passed on this very important skill to their young for generations. 

I have knit and purled many millions of stitches, hundreds of hats, mittens and socks, and dozens of sweaters and started designing my own patterns years ago.

This is one of my favorites:

I spent the past two weeks knitting and filming a video tutorial on how to knit these beauties.

They look complicated, don't they?  With that scallop edge and picot top, some knitters might look at this and think they could never knit them.

But wait!  That's why I created my video tutorial workshop: so people can knit alongside me, where I show them step-by-step how to knit these fingerless mittens, from start to finish.

So if you are a knitter and want to make yourself fingerless mittens (or make them for Christmas presents, nudge, nudge, wink, wink), I invite you to sign up for my knitting tutorial workshop.

You will get the pattern, seven video tutorials, and access to a private Facebook group where you can post pictures of your work-in-progress or finished work and ask me questions.

This course is self-paced, and you can start anytime, download ALL the materials and keep them for life.

The course would also make a great Christmas present for a knitter in your life!

It's easy: all you do is go to the workshop page, sign in with your email, put in a password, and off you go.

I can send a beautiful electronic gift certificate to the recipient with all the information.  

My mother-in-law wants me to tell you that even if you are just a beginner, you can knit these if you follow along with my video tutorials. I taught her how to knit a few years ago, and she loves making these mittens. She's right. You can do this.

Spoiler alert: the course is only $15.

PS: I also offer an affiliate program for this, so if you want to promote this workshop on your blog, to your friends, or on social media, you will get 10% of the proceeds.  So if you refer one person, you get $1.50 for every person who joins the course.  Message me if you are interested!  There is no cost to you!

Monday, November 28, 2016

One day left, and a new baby pixi hat

Yesterday, I noticed that I never took pictures of the baby pixi hat I knitted a few days ago.  I knew that it wouldn't fit my seven-year-old daughter, who is usually my model for kid's hats.

Then I remembered that our friend and neighbor had family visiting over Thanksgiving - with a REAL baby!  I called them to ask if they would be willing to let me borrow the kidlet for a little photo shoot, and they came right over.

I'm so glad they did, because look!  Is she the cutest baby ever?

But what I want you to do is tear your eyes away from the cute baby and look at the hat.  Because it's for sale in my Etsy store, and I still have my 15% off coupon for you, but only one more day.


Actually, as soon as I listed the hat, it sold immediately.  So now I am taking custom orders, and the cool thing is that you can choose different colors.  Here are the colors:

I am a super fast knitter, so I can crank them out pretty fast in time for Christmas presents.

I have lots of other things for sale as well.

Also, I offer the same 15% discount for my online workshops to learn cheese and yogurt making, fermenting foods (including the best bread you will ever eat), chicken raising, and soon-to-be-announced my knitting tutorial for fingerless mittens.

Coupon code for 15% off - expires Tuesday midnight:


Sunday, November 27, 2016

A walk in the woods, and why grandparents are the best

Since I was confined to the sofa for a whole week (my back is much better now, thanks for asking), and since it has been dumping record rainfall for weeks, I hadn't gone outside for a while.

So when the sun came out the day after Thanksgiving, my sweetie and I went for a walk in the neighborhood, which consists mostly of trees, rivers, and mountains, and a stack of firewood here and there.

Before I tell you about our Thanksgiving, why don't you come along for a walk?

As soon as I stepped outside, the winter sun warming my face, fresh air streaming through my lungs, wind ruffling my hair, something deep inside of me relaxed and let go.  

I NEED to be outside, which is easy to do in the summer, but harder to pull of in winter.  Do you guys realize how much rain we get here?  It's like a rainforest, except colder and muddier.

Being outside with the trees and the open sky is like going to church for me.  Here, I find spiritual sustenance and feel the bigger picture of life, gain perspective on things that are going on around me.

Outside in nature, my anxious worrying seeps into the earth, my troubles float down the river, my negative feelings poof up into the air, and I feel renewed, ready to love and forgive once more.

My best friend Lindsay is a psychotherapist deeply connected with nature, and she has studied in depth all kinds of interesting research.  She once told me that people who have had abusive childhoods and weren't able to attach to people instead might attach to nature.

That's me.  That's totally what it feels like.  The term "Mother Nature" literally feels true for me.  I never felt emotionally nurtured by my German family of origin, but instead spent time in nature, where I felt truly happy.  I spent hours walking the German countryside with my dog, even when I was quite young.

I've been feeling quite sad lately about my family of origin, the disfunction and disconnection of it, the bad blood.  

In stark contrast to that side of my family are my husband's parents.  They are visiting us from Minnesota right now and are some of the most non-judgemental, loving people I know.  They LIVE for their grandchildren.

I keep thinking 'When will they get impatient or sick of my kids?', or 'Should I keep the kids quieter in the house?' or 'How come they don't get tired of playing games with the kids all day?', but all I have seen for years is the deep love and commitment they show for our kids and for us.

Before they arrived, seven-year-old Eva asked, "Mom, are Gramma and Grampa gonna spoil us?"

Why, yes, little girl, they will, and they are, and they have since you were born, and don't you forget that you are very, very lucky to have them in your life.

Here we are giving our dog Raka her birthday present.  She just turned one.

Let me leave you with images from some of our critters in our backyard.

So, so thankful for this amazing life.

What are you grateful for?  Leave a comment here.  Let's spread some positivity around, shall we?