Daytrippers

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At this point in time I can honestly say this has been the best summer weather wise that I can ever remember. We have had a nice mixture of sun, rain, a little heat, and nice cool breezy nights. Perfection. This morning I read that we are going to get some hazy, hot, and humid weather this week. I will try and remember that the summer has been glorious so far.

We biked on Swan Island here in Maine. It was beautiful and quiet. We took a ferry out to it with our bikes and a picnic. The total distance was 9 miles. I felt it towards the end. I was very glad I did it though. Endorphins were coursing through my body! The girls did a good job too. We did rest along the way and took in the sites. At the tip of the island we had a picnic. It overlooked the river. Another day we took a trip to Sebago Lake. We have not camped yet this year. We are daytrippers!

We picked strawberries twice and froze a bunch. I also made 11 pints of strawberry jam! I gave a few away but most will go in the pantry. I also cut and froze some garlic scapes. The garden is starting to produce. We have eaten lots of lettuce, and snow peas. I see a little head of broccoli in there and some tiny squash. I even have a pepper and the tomatoes are getting bigger too. Slow start to gardening this year but it is coming along. This week I need to plant some fall beets, and maybe some more greens. Probably after this week of heat.

I finally got around to seasoning my new wok. We had a colorful stir fry the other day. I cooked it on the side burner outside. I have electric stove tops inside and I thought the gas would be better with the wok. The veggies kept their color and were still a little crisp just the way I like them.

I moved a little table we had outside to the back deck. Not sure why I never thought to do it before. It is perfect for a cup of tea and my knitting or my notebook for planning. I have been spending mornings out there listening to the birds and watching the sun get higher in the sky. I can keep an eye on the deer that are trying to eat my raspberries too. I am working on a sock as you can see. I used double points for the very top and for the heel and gusset and am trying out a size 9 circular for the leg and foot. So far so good.

I hope you are having a lovely summer wherever you are!

Mr. Grunt Worker

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I love this picture of my husband. He is pacing in front of all the wood he cut while working at his money paying job. He is a travelling salesman to lumber and building product stores. He works both on the road and here at home.

My husband does not work in the garden. He doesn’t even know what is in the garden. He knows the usual things that I grow. He sees me working in the garden. He knows the lettuce we ate last night came from the garden. He doesn’t work in the garden because he is too busy. He works all day on the road. Not physically hard work but it takes brain power and personal skills. (One of those I do not possess.) On the weekends he does a lot of physical work around here. I call him my Grunt Worker. If I mention something needing done, poof, it is done. Or at least started or in the plans. He moves huge amounts of soil, compost and brush for me. He builds the raised beds for the garden. He dumps compost where I want it. There isn’t anything he won’t do. For me.

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I know how lucky I am. Really I say ‘my’ garden but it is ‘our’ garden. Without my husband there wouldn’t be such nice strong pea fences. There wouldn’t be the quality compost that he takes charge of. It is a nice partnership we have going. He is the Grunt Worker. I am the planner, planter, weeder, and harvester.

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I think our marriage and life together is pretty much the same as how we work in the garden. I am the planner. I do a lot here at home. He is very helpful. Will do anything I ask him to do. He won’t have the idea to put in new flooring. I have those ideas. He will do the work though. He doesn’t think about things like how much laundry is piling up downstairs. He does bring it up for me so I can hang it. A partnership.

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He really loves me. I’m pretty lucky about that too. Hope you all are enjoying your summer, your gardens, and the ones you love.

 

 

 

Just Time

We didn’t do any big celebration for Summer Solstice this year. It was in the middle of the week. Dad had to work the next day. It has been really wet. Too wet to try and light a fire. It is fine though, we have lots of things planned for the summer. We also have lots of un-planned time as well. I think that is what summer is for! Each girl has a week of camp. We ‘sort’ of have a camping trip planned for some time this summer in the eastern part of the state.  There will be a 4th of July party. I have a loose plan to take the girls to an island, on a ferry, with bikes. We have plans to visit all the boys at some point too. But for the most part it will be a free, uncluttered calendar, kind of summer. I am very happy about that.

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There has been time. Just that. Time. In this first full week without lessons, or plans, or driving, there has been time for sitting, knitting, baking, and playing. It is amazing to watch how the girls transform back into their playful, relaxed, and thoughtful selves. I sometimes wonder if it would be boring to always have so much time. It wouldn’t for me but I wonder about the girls. For now though I know they are enjoying all this unstructured time.

I made myself an apron. With a friend, we each made one. It is a wrap around apron and I absolutely love it. It is so comfortable. It has two deep pockets. I can easily wear it all day if I needed to. No ties around the waist. I can’t say enough about it. I made the first pie of the season. Yes, the season, in my opinion, starts now. It is now that all the fresh fruits start to ripen. This pie is a Strawberry-Rhubarb. Both in season right now. My daughter decorated the pie for Father’s day. We both talked about doing a year of pies. This being the first we wondered what July would be. Blueberry? We are working on what each pie would be. Twelve Pies! Can you imagine? Stay tuned.

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There was an afternoon when we sat outside being silly. My daughter taught my how to take a selfie. It isn’t as easy as you would think. It must come naturally for her at her young age of thirteen. After too many shots to count we did get one, maybe two, that were acceptable. Not great, but acceptable. Yes, I am still wearing the apron.

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The moths are stuck to the screens in the morning. That is always fun to play with them and identify them. I have started the sleeves on my angora sweater. It has a Moorish Lattice on the yoke. This sweater is the softest thing. I wish you could feel it. I tried to do the sleeves two at a time with a magic loop. I learned the technique and felt comfortable with it but my yarn is so fine and stretchy that where the loops were being pulled the sweater was getting stretched and holey. So I switched to a 16 inch circular and it looks much better. I am glad I learned magic loop though!

Today it is rainy. The girls are playing with a castle that one of them made out of foam board. She made it in two days. It is huge. This is what passing the time is all about. I am looking forward to more of it.

I hope you are enjoying your summer so far.

 

 

Not Just for Show

The hot weather has arrived, just as they said it would. Yesterday was a bit much but I stayed cool by sitting in front of the fan, sitting by the lake, and working in my sewing room, which is in the basement of our house. Now that all my boys are off on their own I have the whole basement to myself. The main room, which has big windows and a sliding glass door is where I have my machines set up. The little spare room is where I am increasingly filling up with ‘extras’ such as batting, fabric, and supplies. With a wood stove in the corner it is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Just the place to go for me!

I have three machines that I use often. Two others are antiques and I love having them but I don’t really use them much. The main machine I use is a Singer Quilting Machine. My husband bought it for me after another Singer I had died. My father bought me that one over twenty years ago. It was the machine I learned to sew and quilt on. I think I still have it somewhere up in a closet. Couldn’t let it go I guess.

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More and more I find myself also using a little black Singer 221. I have been using it on my small pieced quilt blocks. My long time friend gave it to me for my birthday. I go to sew with her at her house and would use it there. Now I can bring it with me when I sew at her house. It came with a black carrying case. It is perfect for travel sewing. It is such a nice machine to use. It is quiet and very precise. It has been fun learning to sew with it.

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Another machine I use often is also a Singer. I call it my ‘Green Machine’. It is a workhorse. I use it for sewing denim and canvas. It is perfect for anything thick and bulky. It is a Singer 257.

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My two antique machines are not in my sewing room. One, another Singer, is up in my bedroom. The same friend that gave me the 221 gave this Singer 66 Treadle. She also game me the wonderful table too. It is so pretty. I have used it and need to practice more. I know I will be able to sew should the power go out!

 

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My father is a ‘Ford’ man and I am a ‘Singer’ gal. Except for one. Another friend gave me his grandmother’s antique sewing machine. When I first saw it I was so surprised, because it didn’t look like any sewing machine that I had ever seen. It is a Wilcox and Gibbs machine. My friend that gave me the Singers cleaned up the Wilcox and Gibbs and sent me lots of videos on how to sew with it. I did figure it out. It is a chain stitch machine. No bobbin. It is a beauty too. I keep it in my dining room, with the lovely cover on to protect the machine.

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So there you have it. A little tour of all my machines. I never imagined I would have so many. My friend still has me beat by a long shot. She has an ‘museum’! She also fixes and revamps antique machines for a business so naturally she will have many around. We all have our passions. We need to go with it. I love to sew. Proudly I can sew on all of my machines. They are not only for show.

A Real Spring

 

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If you live in Maine you will know what I am talking about today. We have been experiencing a real Spring. Cool temperatures with rain. Lots of rain. So much rain I have had to combat slugs for the first time ever. I have lost some broccoli plants. It is sad. But I am hoping they grow back. Now that I am fighting with slugs.

I almost caught myself complaining about this weather we are having. Almost said that I am sick of the cold and rain. I am kind of sick of it but then I remember how much I really abhor the hot, and humid weather. The sun has come out a few times in the last few weeks and it was beautiful. There was a slight breeze and it felt a little like fall, which is my absolute favorite season.

It isn’t fall though, it is Spring. I cannot remember the last time we have had such a prolonged Spring season. Many times it is muddy, with snow melt and then it seems to get hot really fast. I find myself complaining that we hardly had a Spring and now it feels like summer! Well I am enjoying this lovely weather. Yes it is rainy and cool but it has been really good for my garden. My tomatoes and peppers are nice and snug under plastic so they have not suffered. My spinach and lettuce love this weather. The broccoli that didn’t get eaten is doing well. My asparagus is a forest! The garlic is up and thriving. Shallots are up and healthy looking. I have greens galore. They love this cool weather.

The forecast is for the temps to slowly inch up in a couple of days. Then another day or two of rain and then on Monday and Tuesday we will be hot, hot! I will have to shade the greens and broccoli. Uncover the tomatoes and peppers. I will have to wear next to nothing and sit in front of a fan. I will try not to complain. We had a nice Spring. Summer is just around the corner and I have known it would come sooner or later. Another week and the girls and I will be free to escape to a lake or the ocean. We can watch the garden grow. Make sun tea and sit in the shade. Read some books on the beach and drink lemonade and eat fruit salad. Doesn’t that sound delightful?

 

 

 

 

A Quilt Finished

I am a pretty slow quilt maker. I am amazed at some of the bloggers and people on Instagram that are able to make several quilts a year maybe even several a month. I don’t know how they do it. I am jealous. I try and tell myself it is because I have kids, that I also knit. Both of those things are true of most makers. I almost made myself believe it is because I homeschool my kids but I found that many people do that also and can still pump out several quilts a year. So really it just comes down to the fact that I am slow. Or my priorities are different. I try and sew every night but I don’t make progress very quickly. It’s just the way I am!

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Just this past weekend I did finish a quilt. I call it the Five Stars Picnic Quilt. I made it for taking to the beach and to picnics. My husband says it is too nice for that. I am happy he thinks so. I like it too and it is a nice quilt but I did make it knowing I would be taking it out and using it. I am hoping it will be used a lot.

I showed this quilt in the making in  this post, Five Stars Picnic Quilt. I decided to hand quilt it and that is what took me the longest. After I finished the quilting of lines diagonally through the quilt I felt it needed more. The squares looked a little empty. So I decided to stitch flowers inside them.

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I love how they came out. A lot of the fabric is flowery and it just made sense to put in more flowers. Then the binding needed to be put on. I sew my bindings on by machine and then hand stitch them on the back side. I have heard of a way to sew both sides by machine but I have not tried that yet.

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I use these cool little clips that a friend gave me. They are very helpful. I can sew a long way up the quilt without having to keep pulling the binding straight.

Two other reasons I don’t get a lot of quilts finished is one, I like to play. I like to try new things and experiment.

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I have been trying to use some old denim jeans up. I have been eyeing a pattern out of an old Georgia Bonesteel, Quilt as You Go book. This block is called Glow Shine. I have always wanted to try it. One night I got inspired and just had to try it.

Another reason I am slow is that I have many projects going on at one time. I am still working on some tiny blocks. These finished blocks are 6 1/2 inches. I am using the 1930’s Farmer’s Wife book. I am using reproduction fabrics (not from the 30’s) and I am being very careful when cutting, pinning and sewing them.

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So, I am sewing. A lot. I am enjoying each step too. Slow and steady. How about you? What are you working on?

 

 

Sigh of Relief. Again.

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Show me a person that is homeschooling children and is totally, without any doubt, confident that their kids are learning what they will need for the years ahead. I dare you. I don’t believe that person exists. If you do meet one then I believe they are probably not being truthful.

At this point in time I have two children still at home. Three others have flown the nest. I cannot say the three that have left knew it all. They did not. They have had times of struggle. I have had times I wished that I taught them this or that. Over all though, they are fine. They all went to high school and did very well. They all got into college. One graduated. The other two have decided that it was not worth their time. Or money. They are working, living, having fun. They are bright and relatively happy.

Recently we have come to the point in my eldest daughters life where she desires to meet new people and do something a bit different than homeschool. This also happened with my sons.  My daughter will attend 8th grade at the Jr. High School in the fall. She already knows a few of the kids from Strings class and softball. I believe socially she will be fine.

I had a meeting with the guidance counselor to see what classes she would be taking and to gauge the level of study from these classes. My daughter wanted to see how behind she was. This is also typical. I do not us a curriculum. My children do not want one. They are very happy with the way we do things here at home, that is until they are about to go off to school. Then they start to question whether they have gotten enough.

The guidance counselor was very nice and sent me a link to get into the curriculum of all the subjects for 7th grade. With the exception of a Holocaust unit and Poetry she was at grade level. Hmmmm. Not too shabby! So as I did with the first three I blew a sigh of relief. Again.

We will most likely read about the Holocaust more in depth this summer. We will also study some poetry. My daughter will finish her math for the year. She will be fine.

The other day I was walking with my youngest daughter out in the woods behind the school while her sister was in Strings class. I started thinking how this youngest daughter has not had the academic attention she needs or thrives. I started doubting my abilities. Again. But then I stopped. We were walking in the woods. We were seeing fungi, and flowers, and trees. She was telling me what certain trees were. We stumbled upon a hole in the ground and uprooted a woodchuck. She immediately tried to follow it and discovered five other holes around the knoll. She told me that tunnels were probably all underneath us. She is fine. She will be fine. I will still have my doubts every once in a while but for the most part, this homeschooling thing really is working.