Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Pumpkin Day


Hello Lovely Friends.  I feel as if I have been fast-forward-ed to the end of the month. 
 The gray, bleak sky today reminds me it's time to carve out pumpkins for our little family 'contest'.   Considering that I left town to visit my favorite Grandparents and returned home just in time to greet FrankenStorm Sandy, I've needed to play catch-up once again. 
Armed with a hot cup of apple mint tea to keep my fingers warm, I managed to help the little people make some ghosts to hang over our apple bobbing table.  I'm not at all a scary Halloween kind of girl.  No, I'm a silly pumpkin and candy kind of girl.  Nothing gross or scary here.  Just silly, sugar-filled fun to spin our memories with.   
We also put together some bacon fat/seed/fruit cupcakes for our feathered friends today.  It's been a fun, chilly, outside kind of day.  And once we had our birdie treats hanging around in the trees outside the Hearth Room, do you know what I heard?
  The hawk. 
And how about this late-bloomer?  One last little sunflower planted by dropped seeds at the feeder has opened her bright face just in time.  I'm afraid this lonely little bee is a bit cold.  It moves when I 'pet' it, but it doesn't seem to do anything more. 
Well, I had better be off to gather the carving supplies and cheat just enough to plan what we can do for Sweet P's pumpkin before Hubby gets home.  I'm sure he's got something up his sleeve for his pumpkin.  I know Young Man does. 
Boo to you!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Crochet Christmas Ornament 1


Ok, it's a start.  It's a bit wonky, (no, it's really wonky!), and this prototype proves change is needed, but it's a beginning!
The 'tube' I crocheted was meant to be fairly slender, but then when it came time to 'stuff' it there was considerable difficulty.  I used a Tunisian crochet hook to stuff the filling, but it became too 'stuffed' and stretched looking.  Regardless, I now had a form on which to practice some leaves and berries.  But now that I can see all that's wrong with this one, it will make a great Christmas toy for Sweet Pea or a cat.  Maybe I'll dip it in some catnip. 
As much as I love the traditional Christmas colors, this leaves me craving some bright colors with a bit of whimsy. 
I'd better get to work!

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's a Bird Thing...


The Baby Bluebirds are still here!  I guess I really can't call them babies anymore...
They often come and perch near the feeders and take turns in the bath, (which I LOVE!), but recently we have had a hawk near the house.  In fact, while sitting in the backyard one afternoon watching the kids play, a hawk swooped in and took a little bird away...  So sad.  I think it was a dove.  I couldn't believe how incredibly brazen that hawk was.  It's been a while now since we've seen the hawk or heard it's very distinct cry. 
So now the pretty birds are back!  Young Man built another blue bird box for me and it's been leaning against the garage and often falling over.  I all but begged Hubby to put it up properly this weekend.  All joking aside, after he had the box securely in place, those bluebirds were sitting on the box and peering inside it within 10 minutes! 
Now as long as I can keep birdies on the outside and kitties on the inside we should all get along just fine.
Now on to work some more granny squares for that tree skirt...  I am also working on some new Christmas ornaments.  Wish me luck!

Friday, October 19, 2012


Hey, Friends! 
I hope you have had a lovely week!  I have to laugh at myself for trying to participate in "Blogtoberfest".  It seems my posts have diminished since I started.  Sorry about that, but hey, I'm still here supporting all your "Bloggy" efforts, too.
We have had a busy couple of weeks here at the Hearth Room.  In fact, we had Nana here for a week.  The little people do love that!  We got a bit behind in our routine, so this week we've had to work hard to catch up. 
So it was super nice to sit still for about 30 seconds this afternoon.  Well, that's what it felt like....  And while I was sitting I  noticed how pretty the golden leaves were with the sun hitting them just so.  It seemed to match some of the colors in my fall/Christmas project basket. 
I'm sort of all over the place with my projects right now.  I'm making a very colorful Granny Christmas TREE SKIRT!  And I decided I needed a fall pennant for the door to go with my wreath.  I need to wrap these things up quickly so I can make some fabulous goodies for a swap I'm doing. 
Lot's of making going on here.  I'll be back to share!
In the mean time, my little fam has a tent up outside and I need to get out there to go 'camping' with them.
Happy Weekend!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fall Wreath DIY Style


Was it a "Moment of Whimsy",  a sign of desperation, or am I just plain cheap?
Actually, it's a result of ALL 3!  And  the fact that I love to make things myself!
Everywhere I go lately I find myself looking at wreaths and other decor items to place on our doors here at the Hearth Room.  From little tin signs to plastic pumpkins and vine wreaths covered in fake leaves...   Nothing was grabbing me and it was all over-priced. 
Finally, I came to my senses and realized I could make something myself that would show a bit of whimsy, would definitely be handmade and best of all, FREE!
Out to the backyard I went on a search for some vine.  As I coiled my vine into a wreath shape it instantly took on the look of a pumpkin.  I didn't know where this whole decoration thing was going at the time, so I pondered this naturally-occurring pumpkin shape and went with it.  Of course, the second naturally-occurring thing to do would be add some yarn to it, so out came a tiny bit of left over 'pumpkin' colored yarn.
Now this is where I might lose most folks in my handmade rustic wreath attempt, but ever since those elementary years of childhood, when you draw a pumpkin it has those slightly curved, vertical lines to show it's dimension...  Right?  So my orange crocheted chain became those lines.  Next I made a little 'bow tie' of green to tie on as leaves.  I then scavenged around in the "fall decor" bin for loose leaf and flower leftovers.  Hot glue is my friend. 
And Ta-Da!  I have a very handmade, very whimsical, rustic fall wreath to adorn my Hearth Room's back door.  I suppose I could have invested actual time in planning and material gathering, but the children were quiet, Hubby was watching football and I wanted instant gratification. 
Maybe I will plan for the next door.  And maybe I'll plan ahead for some Christmas decorations.  But today it was all about winging it fast and it was fun. 
So can you see that it is a pumpkin wreath?  Or as Young Man suggested, do you see a web?
I see every school aged pumpkin drawing I ever made in the form of a wreath on my back door. 
That's cool.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Granny Christmas


I'm back with another glimpse of my new Christmas project...
Do you know what it is?  Any guesses?
I'm headed for my yarn right now to add (hopefully) several rows of interesting colors!
I'm excited and can't wait to get to the next part so this will start to feel like what it really is!
Ahhh...  I do love some Granny Goodness!

Monday, October 8, 2012


Hello... Did you have a good weekend? 
Last week was a little busier than usual for us so Sunday was a wonderful day to catch up and stay close to home.
We actually did a few things around the house while we listened to the constant 'hum' of the football games on television. 
I have had some sweet little curtains sitting quietly in their box, waiting desperately to be hung in the Hearth Room windows...  Some of them finally made it up!  Since the temps are dropping rather quickly and we had a nice chilly rain for the past few days it seems that there is finally some sense of urgency to get these windows covered! 
And I'm still on a sour dough bread kick.... and after feeding the starter once a week you are supposed to make bread.  Every week...  It's a really good sour dough and the family always enjoys it, but there always comes a time when you haven't eaten all the bread you've made and it's time to make more!  So I decided to cube the left over loaf and bake it to make sour dough croutons for salads or casseroles.  You know fall is casserole time, right?
And then I offer up this picture of a very tangled looking Christmas crochet project.  It's funny because the colors are so fall-ish right now, but it really is a Christmas thing.  I promise to come back and share what it looks like for real.  I won't even use the Hipstamatic App!
It is going to consist of some deeper, jewel tone colors, (I think), and I think it will make Granny proud.  Honestly, with all the pumpkin, maize and dark blue I would be willing to scrap the whole idea right now - but I've seen the pictures of the finished thing, so I will hook on!
Fingers crossed, Granny...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Farm Days

It has been a very farm-y few days for us.
Yesterday we made a few new furry friends.

And we saw some beautiful places. 
This is The  Frontier Culture Museum, which I've posted about before.

Today we made some new feathered friends.

And got to see where our milk comes from at one of the local dairy farms.

It's good to see successful farming in practice and it's good to know we can buy healthy food made locally.  It was especially good to see healthy, happy cows at the Homestead Creamery's Farm Day. 
We ate fresh ice cream and were completely convinced that it is time for Young Man to have his own chickens.  And I want a cow.  I love ALL cows, always have, but today I fell in love with a Swiss Brown.  And if the nice farmer knows what he's talking about, (and somehow I'm sure he does), he says that the awesome, rich ice cream we eat is made with the cream from a couple of Swiss Browns named Phyllis and Connie.  They were beautiful.  I know we need to make sure that creamy stuff is only a once-in-a-while treat, but man, oh, man...  Is that stuff good!
Unfortunately, I didn't catch the name of the lovely lady shown above, but she was sweet, too.
They had some little calves out that we kids could pet and hug.  It's surprising how rough their little tongues are and equally surprising how beautifully, shiny, white their little teeth are!
Now if only I could have cows for pets.  And sheep.  Can't forget the sheep and Young Man's chickens.
I think we need to stay home tomorrow.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Learning Places

This is the little rug on the floor of the room in which we keep most of our learning materials.  I find it hard to word that sentence properly, as part of what we believe as homeschoolers is that fostering a love of learning for life should not be confined to just one room.  With that said, in order for this Homeschool Mom to maintain any level of sanity, I must have a place for everything and everything in it's place.  So we have designated one special room to hold our desks and bookshelves, lessons, assignments, wall maps, and everything else.  As someone who tends to name all the rooms in the house and sometimes even certain spots in the house, I struggle to know what to call this room.  "Classroom" is exactly what we want to avoid calling this room, as we don't want to associate that all of our learning can only happen in a 'class' room.  It's definitely not a 'library', as that brings to mind images of a much more mature room full of woodwork and character from walls filled with tomes we do not have.  We have a special spot for quiet reading that we call "The Nook", although it makes no reference to electronic reading devices, I can assure you. 
  As we have spent two days out learning in some of the most beautiful and fascinating places Virginia has to offer this week, it becomes clear to me that the world is our "classroom".  So that makes it all the more pressing for me to be able to answer Young Man when asks, "Hey, Mom...  Where is my book?" 
"Hey, I think it's in the ________________."
Study?  Learning Room?  No. 
I'll keep thinking on it.  And I will ask Young Man. 
And, no... It's not a cat sanctuary.  He's just very comfortable with our routine. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Visiting Natural Bridge

It was a day for Homeschoolers at Natural Bridge today. 
It's just a wonderful place to visit.  It offers so much to see.  The area is rich in history and it's a great place to walk and spend time outdoors. 
Honestly, I'm too tired to think straight after all the fun I've had today.  Walking, looking for little fish in the creek, being amazed at the size of the actual rock that makes the Natural Bridge, the Indian village, the caverns, toys, and butterflies.  But the best part?  I got to meet a dear friend for the very first time.  That was awesome.  I'll explain later.
Have a lovely tomorrow!
We'll be off on another field trip.  I hear my pillow calling. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cake

 Way back when, at a time that I worked 'outside' the home...  I knew a really, truly lovely lady who baked a lot.  And she would bring homemade goodies to our office often.  I don't know where she got her recipes, but they were unusual (to me anyway) and they were delicious!  They were simple recipes, many from boxed mixes, but with a twist. 
I love to collect recipes not only because I love to eat good food, but because I like to think of the person or place the recipe came from.  So as I was rummaging through my recipe box I came across this old Chocolate Chip Cake recipe that Jacquie had given to me years ago.  Again, I don't know the original source, but I can at least credit Ms. Jacquie with it for now. 
Chocolate Chip Cake:
1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 box chocolate or vanilla instant pudding
8 oz. sour cream
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
Mix all together x 4 minutes. 
Fold in 8 oz. chocolate chips.
Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. 
Of course, you want to grease and flour your pans.  I used a Bundt pan just because it feels special somehow.   And it looks pretty on a plate. 
There is no direction in her recipe to put icing on the cake, but I always have some chocolate icing on hand to please the little people.  Never too much chocolate...
So Young Man was in a class for 10 hours the other day and I used that as my excuse.  Yep, we were celebrating a big day with a warm, homemade cake when he got home.  I'll find any reason to celebrate! 
Try one for yourself.  It may be a new favorite of yours, too!

And this is what I woke up to today.  Apparently breakfast is the most important meal of the day after all.  Just look at Axle's face!  (He's the tuxedo one...)  Ha!  He kills me. 
So your lesson for today is:  Breakfast is important and eat cake.
Well, not cake for breakfast, but you know what I mean.
(Although, it has been done here....  with coffee....) 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Fall Celebration

Another tradition:  The First Fall Fire and Picnic
It just seems that each fall as we continue to spend more and more time outdoors, eventually we catch a chill.  It's a good kind of chill.  Not at all the kind of chill that makes one run for the comfort of the indoors, but instead the kind of chill that we like to enjoy. 

The good kind of chill that makes you want to stay out for more.  I think it's the kind of chill that warns us that it soon will be too cold for such outdoor enjoyment, so we had better stay out and work and play and take in all that we can before it's too late.  So at this point each fall someone suggests it's time to light a fire in the pit.  And I know full well that no one wants to come inside to eat dinner when there is a fire going outside, so it's dished up and brought out by the fire. 

It's another fun family time that we spend taking in the smells and sights of the season.  Little people still like to let the fuzzy Woolybear caterpillars crawl on them.  And we wonder each year if the Woolybear is a sign of a bad winter or not...  And wonder how much snow is in our future.  We hope and look forward to that, too.  But for now we are content to spend time in this golden, shadowy season and savor the distinct crunch under our feet from the falling leaves. 

And when we do come in, it's only even more perfect time for yarny projects.  The Ripple is done except for the 'secret edging' I've been working on.  This is just a peek of that edging.  Yes, I have pulled out those knitting sticks once again!   I remembered this sweet border pattern in one of my books and thought it would be a great little way to knock the rust off my knitting skills.  It's like getting your sea-legs...  Getting used to holding 2 needles rather than 1 hook, the tension, the fluidity...  It all comes back slowly.
I always think of my grandmother when I knit, (well, when I crochet, too), but especially when I knit.  She taught me both when I was a child.  The crochet came easier to me so it stuck.  She preferred knitting and has many beautiful garments she made over the years that are amazing.  It's also amazing she still has them packed away in such good condition.  But she isn't able to knit now.  Her sight is not what it used to be.  She does continue to crochet some, but even that has become so much harder for her.  It makes me sad to see someone losing the ability to do something they love and I really want to be able to keep both crafts alive since she was the one who taught me.  And often when I knit or crochet I call her up and we chat about what I'm making.  I called her about this edging and was telling her about getting used to yarn-overs, etc....  She laughs and says, "Oh, bring it with you when you come and I'll show you!"  I've realized that just talking about her favorite craft helps keep it alive for her.  Grandfolks are a treasure.  I'm such a lucky girl.
  I love the look of knit and crochet together so I look forward to tacking this onto my Ripple.  I'll come back and share when I have more edging done.  Then I can't wait to share the great big finished Ripple with you!  Wow.  I think it's been a year.  It certainly hasn't been a priority and loads of other hooky projects were done in the mean time, but it's great timing to get that blanket finished!  Just in time for the chill!  In fact, it's already been in use around the Hearth Room and I have to go find it in order to work on it, lol.  I can't wait to see what Granny has to say about it. 
So what do you enjoy about the fall season?  Do you or your family have any traditions?
Do you have special people you think of when you knit or crochet? 
Please share!  I'd love to hear... 

Blogtoberfest Attempt

Well, do I really think I will find the time to post daily for this month?
I certainly look forward to the challenge.
Of course I'm a day late.  I just read about this last night as I was already crawling towards bed.  I had a crazy thought that I'd crawl back out to the Hearth Room and do a quick post to be 'official' and everything, but the thought left as quickly as it came.
Thank goodness I had some sense about me last night.
Now it seems all good sense is gone, as this morning I think I'm going to find time to post in a somewhat gracious manner each day this month...
Well, they may be quick, short posts, but I will try.  I'm hoping to find that I can post more often in my normal daily life by taking just a few minutes to journal about my day or what I've been working on.  And I really look forward to reading and supporting some of the other bloggy folks who are participating.
Hey, maybe I'll come back later for an actual October 2nd post, as this one should have happened yesterday!
See you soon!

I love your comments...