Thrifted. Updates. 4-H.

1) Thrifted.

A set of 6 wooden bowls. Misc. flashcards that my kid likes to organize in church. Brand new colored pencils. Melissa and Doug dino.  Two books for the kids. And this marvelous book for me-Treasury of Vintage Housekeeping Skills.  Some good ideas and some things that are entertaining.

Fabric. Shinguards. Two cute little scoops.  A wooden box. A wooden duck and a shortie wrap! . Actually, I'm not really sure it's a shortie wrap, but it has finished edges and it's the perfect size.  And I love the fabric.

And it works well. Turns frowns....
Upside down in no time!

 The magic of babywearing, I tell you.

2) Updates.

I'm getting the flow of this pasta making thing going now. I'm hoping to get it down faster so it doesn't still feel like a project.

I'm getting sooo much closer to getting the barn cleaned up for playtime. Sooo exciting!

Our pipes froze for the 15th time this year this morning. Splendid.

I aim to start the dress making I'm not scrambling at the end of the month.

I'm taking a vacation from work this week-to do nothing but stick close to home and perhaps be a bit of a tourist.

And I had the best type of playdate with my neighbor. We made bagels.  Dipping them in boiling water gave me the heebie jeebies, so she did most of that work.  They were good, but not my forever and ever go to recipe. I have some experimenting to do!  I see more bagel making in my future.

3) And 4-H.  How have I not mentioned about 4-H before?
He's not really old enough to go, but a new local club is graciously letting him tag along. Oh my goodness, he was most excited to go to the first meeting and he knows another meeting is coming up.

Can't get a bigger smile.
 He's smiling because he thinks 4-H is going to lead to this eventually:
He even raised his hand during the brainstorming session at the last meeting to say he wanted to learn about cows. Who would have guessed?!  I mean, he only talks about cows 24/7.

All in time, little farmer.  Until then, he's very happy to bring his craft kit and binder to 4-H.  Thankful we are allowed the opportunity to participate before the minimum age requirement.  We're so fortunate!


Pruning.  That's the job of February.  I'm not new to this job. I brought back the apple trees at our other house and had them producing.  I recall being pregnant and up on the ladder with pruning shears when my husband pulled in with the vehicle once.  I distinctly remember him shaking his head at me.  "WHAT is she doing?!" is a regular question he asks around these parts.

But it's February. And February is almost done.  I haven't gotten out there as much as I should.  I found six apple trees on this property.  They look like they haven't been tended in ages.  Decades.  The weather has been so windy and cold and I haven't had much of a chance to go sans kids (cutting trees isn't the best activity for helpers).   I spent a good hour on one tree and barely touched as much pruning as it needed.  I don't even know if it's worth it. I couldn't tell you if the apples on them are good or not because not much of anything happened.

But I do know this, I would much rather put into the effort and chance it than always wonder "what if?"  So that's what I am doing. I likely won't get it all done before February is over, and I don't know if I'll get to them all in March. But if I keep at it, it will all get done.  I won't give up, it's not my style. Sometimes the turtle does win the race.

Homesteading Where You Are: Goals

Does it seem possible that today wraps up our seven week series?

Week one: Intro 
Week two: Make 
Week three:  Grow
Week four: Preserve
Week five: Save
Week six: Raise

And this week is "Goals".

Oh goodness, I could talk about goals and ideas for this farm/farmhouse 24/7.

 Only mostly no one listens much to me around these parts. Probably because I'm a broken record talking about all the things that excite me.  There's so much I want to do, all in time.  In fact, it's crazy to think about how much we've done to this place and we haven't even lived here a year and a half yet.  (Run down of our progress at year one is here .) So many plans and ideas! But to think there might be a few readers wondering what's up next?!  I ought to share with you more often!

Short term (in the next year, give or take):
-More babies!! (Okay, not happening, since I'm the only one shouting this from the rooftops!)
- Improving the soil in the garden
- Improving our sugaring experience.
-Improving the watering situation
-Using all these elderberries.
- Possibly purchasing some sort of tractor to help us with moving, snow removal and rototilling.  We have been looking. My kid told the Kubota guy that he doesn't like Kubota, he just likes John Deere. (Sigh.)
-Possibly adding either a milking goat or bees. Bigger pastures.
-Fix the barn door, fence pasture for the goats, make chicken run so they can be outside more.
-I'm in the planning phases of our "Farm Time Story Hour."  Once it's nice, I'm planning on offering a drop in family story time. Perhaps once? Perhaps monthly or weekly if folks like it?  Just getting the groove and knowing I'll decide what's right for us/others when the time comes.  The plan is Farm books, farm songs, farm trivia and then watching the train go by followed by a projects and/or animal time and/or picnic time.  I'm hoping to put a donation jar out, so folks can contribute to our animal fund.  Hopefully this would be enough so that I'm not making and selling bread nearly as much as last year.  (Our goal is for the farm to support the farm.  Our salaries do not go towards animals, our kids are expected to help us earn money to keep them.  They are great helpers and are proud to count their dollars to buy food.). 
-Cont. the tradition started last year of having an annual party to fund raise/ have a toy drive for the Bags of Love ministry.
-Expand the orchard. Add a vineyard.
-Get the barn fixed up for a play zone.
-Fixing things so our pipes no longer freeze.
-She wants a barn cat.

Long term (in the next 5 or so years):
-Get the washer/dryer out of our kitchen. 
-Update the bedroom and add a full bath attached to that room. 
- Possible broiler chickens.
-My son wants a team of oxen.

Longer term (one can dream, right?!):
-More regular times for others to explore the outdoors here.
-Setting up a bed and breakfast?
-Solar panels?
-Digging a pond (that's my husband's idea).
-They both want horses.  And a giraffe. 

Mostly, we'll just keep on keeping on.  Loving and living our dream.


 And I hope you'll stick around through the years. I'll still be blogging, I'm sure.  Sharing our adventures, one day at a time.
 I can't wait to see what's in store for us!

Want to get inspired?  Click on these links and you will, I promise.

Daisy, at MapleHill101, currently homesteads with her family in the suburbs of Central Florida.  Her vision is to move to a more rural property in North Carolina later this year and continue fostering a self-sufficient lifestyle, which includes chickens, a large garden and a permanent clothesline.  

Mary, at Homegrown on the Hill, lives in Southwestern Ohio with her family on a 5 acre homestead. Their goal is to be as much self sufficient as possible. In helping with this goal, they raise a big garden and keep chickens, rabbits, and cattle for food. 

Staci, at Life At Cobble Hill Farm, was bitten by the homestead bug in 2006 and although she began her homesteading ventures in a rented condo, is now homesteading on less than an acre in Upstate NY.

Sue – at The Little Acre that Could, shares her body with an auto-immune disease, and life with her husband. They live in a once-working Victorian farm cottage now bordered by a modern subdivision. She has dreamed of homesteading as long as she can remember and continues to strive toward that goal in rural Atlantic Canada.

From Scratch: Pasta Making. Sauce Making.

I bought a homemade pasta roller almost a year ago.  I saw it for $4.00 at the thrift shop, never opened.

But, I just haven't gotten around to using it.  Sometimes I have a hard time learning new things when I have (intense) helpers doing everything but what they should be doing. And I didn't want to make pasta after they go to bed.  What's the point in making it if you can't enjoy it ASAP?  I really wanted to try it. I just hadn't made it a priority.

A good friend was talking about making pasta at our "Never Need to Read the Book Bookclub".  She knows me well, as evidenced by: "Jackie, I can't believe you haven't done it. Do it. It's easy. You'll love it."

I knew she was right. I must try it. I mean, what am I waiting for? I have all these eggs that need using up anyway. And February is, without doubt, the best month to be trying out new things given the unpredictable weather. And *just like that*, I made it a priority.  The next snowday, homemade pasta was my agenda. (Thanks for the push, Susie!)

And let me tell you, it was a bit overwhelming the first time.  I had three pairs of hands, that's six hands total, all in the dough at the same time, doing something else.  Everyone was so excited, I didn't want to crush that excitement, but my oh my! 

My husband walked into find me in a disheveled mess, with everything hardly in control, and did with the best of sous chefs do-grab the camera.  Although I *might* have been slightly annoyed in the moment, I am glad he captured our first time pasta making journey. 

And you know, it really is fun once you get into the swing of things.  The first time was a trite cumbersome, but the second time, I made homemade lasagna noodles for Butternut Squash Lasagna (HEAVENLY!).  Once you get the hang out it, you can whip up a batch in no time. And it's soooo good!  I think boxed pasta is (mostly) in my past now.  One more thing checked off that to do list.  (Pictures first. Recipes at end.)

 This pic is my fave.  When I see it, I hear their squeals of excitement seeing it actually work!


 Pasta.  (Original recipe from here.) The do it quick version is listed here.
2 cups flour
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp olive oil

In kitchen aid, using hook attachment, dump flour on bottom. Place eggs, salt, olive oil on top of flour.  Using hook attachment, knead it until it sticks to the hook.  (You may need a bit more flour or a splash of water depending on humidity of the day). 

Divide into 4s, flour so not sticky.  Cover pieces you aren't using. Flaten the one you are.  Pull through pasta maker at thickest, moving to thinnest setting.  Boil for 3 minutes. Drain. Serve straight away.

Sauce (Just how I do it.)
1 onion
splash olive oil
3 cloves garlic
3 cans high quality canned tomatoes (don't buy the cheapest!)
1 carrot
crushed red pepper

Caramelize onions in oil.  Add garlic and sauté for another minute.  Add canned tomatoes. Add peeled whole carrot (it sucks up bitterness, according to the Italians. I think it's true!).  Let simmer for the day. At end of the day, flavor with salt, sugar if you like a sweet sauce, oregano, parsley, basil and crushed red pepper. Enjoy!

The Itch to Stitch: Dress 2

My blogger pal, Sue, is doing a skirt a month this year and is posting the last Monday of the month, which is today.  See her skirt here.
I decided to join her.   I'm aiming to make a dress a month for the next 12 months for my little girl.  I do love a gorgeous little dress, especially a mama made one, on my little girl.  So, that's the plan.
Dress one: Here.

And here's this month's.

It's a wool dress. Good for winter living in big old house.  It's a Simplicity pattern. I made it big, on purpose.  I suspect there will not be too much winter left (although one never knows in Maine) and I'm hoping it will still fit next winter. 

I walked through THIS MUCH snow to take this picture.
 Before I get to my little model wearing such dress, I had to take a couple of pictures of the beautiful winter.

 Winter is really quite lovely, I'd say.
And here she is, sweet girl. Nearly impossible to photograph. She thinks it's twirl dress. And she has much to do between twirls.

I just so happened to make a dress to match her fave baby, too.

 This baby has been going to and fro with her lately.

 I love a little one snuggling their lovey.

 Dress two is done.  Wonder what March's dress shall be?  Definitely haven't gotten that far yet. 

 Won't you join us and sew something monthly?  Do share what you created and check what next month's dress will be here.  And make sure to head on over to to see what she's been up to.


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