Winter is back. It was in the teens last night and we have snow in the forecast for tonight. Spring will come. It always does and since we can’t do anything about Mother Nature I guess we will have to just keep on going with winter. A great time for hot, tasty bread. I am sharing a few tips I have found helpful. I am not offering any recipes right now because I use many different ones and there are a ton online and in many cook books. Just keep trying different ones and you will find the ones you like best.

I have discovered sourdough bread. I am getting better at it almost every time I make it. I love how it looks when it comes out of the oven and I love how it smells and sounds. It crackles for a while as it cools down.


Of course to make sourdough bread you need a starter. The first time I made it I found most of my starter on the floor and all down the sides of the jar. It overflowed. I have since started using a larger jar.


To proof my sourdough bread I used a bowl with flour covered towels and it didn’t work well. The dough, which can be a bit sticky, stuck to the towels and it was hard to flip it into a baking pan. I proof it in a cast iron pan now and cook it right in the same pans. It isn’t the best way so I am going to order some proofing baskets soon.



I want to get better at the sourdough and will keep trying. Practice makes perfect!

I make bread a lot. I don’t like to buy it. It is expensive and it doesn’t always taste that good. Trouble, for me, is that sometimes the bread doesn’t come out that well. Sometimes it has a hole in the middle. (Good for egg in a hole). Sometimes it is dry and crumbly and doesn’t slice well. I keep making it though because most times it is good and everyone eats it right up.


I use a good bread flour and also whole wheat flour that I get at the health food store. I just think it is a bit fresher. Whole wheat flour can get rancid smelling and tasting if it is old. I keep whole wheat flour in the fridge.


Testing yeast is always a good thing. I try and not rush. If the yeast doesn’t bubble up you won’t get bread to rise.



I use my stand mixer to make bread. It is the main reason I bought it. It is great at kneading the dough and it is less work for me. Often I take it out and knead it by hand for a bit more until it is really ready. Then in a bowl it goes to rise up! Then shape it and let it rise again. Then slash it a few times with a sharp tool, I use a razor. Then wait for it to cook in a hot oven. That is sometimes the hardest part because you have to smell it while it cooks.


Doesn’t that look yummy?



Yarn Along

Along with all that sewing I have been doing this winter I have been knitting as well. I have finished two halves of socks. What you say? My girls both wanted a new pair of wool socks and they both wanted them to be long socks. I am not the worlds fastest knitter and I knew one girl might be waiting for their pair long after the sister pair already was knit. I don’t do the magic loop so I decided to work on each girls’ socks at the same time. Each girl has one sock so far, one grey, one black. I did some color work also at the cuff, heel and toe. Now I will cast on for the other one, for each. Make sense? I am using Classic Socks for the Family pattern by Melinda Goodfellow.


I am still working on my pink sweater. I am on the sleeves! Yippee! Hoping it will be done before Easter. It is going to be the perfect Spring sweater. Light pink, wool for those still cold days, and shorter in length than my other sweaters. I am hoping it looks good with my dark jeans. (The only pair I own and wear). This pattern is Canvas Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge. I got it out of the Making Magazine No. 3 Dots.


I am reading a sweet little book called “At Home in Mitford”. One of my older friends recommended it and I love it. It is a quick read. Nice for right before bed as it is happy and cheerful. I am also reading “Raising the Home Duck Flock”. I am thinking of introducing ducks into my life. I wonder how they get along with chickens? I am also wondering if they can live in the same space as chickens. My husband that works many hours away from home will not be very keen on making a new structure this summer. Because he loves me so much he will but if I can avoid it I will. Anyone out there raise ducks?


I am joining Ginny today for her March Yarn Along. Now I am off to see what everyone else is up to.


Winter is for Stitching

March is here. We are boiling sap, and watching the snow recede more and more. Stepping over, around and sometimes through the mud. The days are growing longer again. I am starting to feel like my sewing days are getting shorter. I’ve been thinking about my gardens. The blueberries, shrubs, and flowers that I ordered last fall that will be arriving soon. The chickens, ducks, and rabbits will be ordered soon. A large part of me wants this Spring to slow down. I am not done sewing!

0228181953_resizedI do sew all through the year but it slows significantly in the warmer months. I am pulled outside. I will sew mostly in the early morning and after dark, which in the summer can come at 8 or later. Here it is March and my garden is still covered with snow, and it is way too cold to start chicks so I have a little more time to keep stitching away.



Another reason for my sewing impatience is I have three projects going at the same time and a (March) birthday quilt that is waiting to be cut! I feel like I won’t get it all done!


I am sewing the binding on a sweet little baby quilt right now. I have no baby in mind but wanted to make a pink baby quilt. I have visions of craft fairs and a possible Etsy shop some day so I have been just sewing things up.


This embroidery piece is ready to be made into a pillow or wall hanging. Nice and springy! I may use the scraps from the baby quilt for this.


I made myself a tunic. It came out good. A little tight in the shoulder area and a little loose in the front neck but I have worn it a few times this winter and I like it. I have tried so hard on another tunic of a different pattern and have been stuck on the placket for the collar. It is in time out. 😉


So I will leave you with the syrup that came from the sap. A sign of Spring. A sign of less sewing and stitching for me. I am going to enjoy it all while I can. How about you, are you feeling hurried to finish before the good weather returns?



Refreshed and Energized



At least I hope I am. Right now I feel that way. This has been a weird winter for me. Normally I am happy and find plenty to do that excites me during the winter. This winter though, I have been a little down. I blame it on the dreary weather. Seems like we have not seen the sun much this season.

I just got back from visiting my three sons! One lives in Bristol, about an hour and a half away and the other two live in South Portland which is another hour from Bristol. I spent the night with one son in his house and I slept in a hotel while visiting the other two. Who doesn’t like a hotel once in a while?

While away I was lazy, watched junk TV in the hotel, had wonderful thought provoking conversations, ate great food, and collected my thoughts. Driving is good for that. If you can go without music anyway. I made some lists, updated my journal, made some phone calls, and feel much more ‘caught up’. And maybe a bit cheerful.

I still came home to a disorganized house but I have a plan for that. Soon Spring will come and with that a very big Spring Clean!

I tried to visit a few quilt and fiber shops but for some reason most are closed on Sunday and Monday. Oh well, next time I will plan a mid week getaway.

Things are not perfect in my brain but much better. I can see some light anyway. For a variety of reasons 2017 had been a doozy of a year and I think I am still healing. Maybe we all are. It seems like many people I talk to are feeling the same way as me right now. Winter, grey days, politics, our world, what ever the reason, it is what it is and we must all go on. Now, after a bit of a break I feel I can go on a little easier.



Yarn Along

Hello! Joining Ginny today for the monthly Yarn Along. I have been knitting a lot this winter. Not really finishing much at the moment but I am enjoying the time sitting in front of the fire watching snowflakes fall. Still winter here in Maine and it will be for some time. Good think I like it.


I did finish some dishrags. We really needed them and so one weekend I just decided to whip them up. I like them on the small side because they fit into cups and glasses better that way. I have so much cotton in my stash that it was nice to have some color choices.


I read “Plain and Simple”. It was a nice read. I have always loved reading about the Amish. I don’t think I would want to live that simply, but the peacefulness that it conveys does appeal to me.


I am working on a sweater from the magazine “Making”. It is called Canvas Cardigan. It is out of the Making No. 3 Dots. I am enjoying the knit and learning something new. Set in sleeves with short rows.


I have also been reading all the Making magazines that I have so far. My husband got me the subscription for my birthday. I love looking at all the ideas. Not just knitting, but sewing and cooking too!

We are getting yet another snow storm. Much needed in fact because right now we have mostly hard icy snow that isn’t all that fun to ski and snowshoe on. Enjoy your day what ever it brings!




Don’t Boil the Soup!


I make a lot of soup for my family. Especially in the winter time. It is a meal that can be made ahead of time and put on the stove to simmer until it is time to eat. Great for those days you want to be outside snowshoeing or skiing. It is also nice if someone you love is fighting a flu or cold.

Over the years the soups I make have evolved into works of art. I know it sounds like I am bragging, but I don’t mean to. The soups I used to make were dull, bland, and too salty. Somewhere along the way I learned how to make a great pot of soup. The one secret I feel is the key is to not boil it! Boiling it makes the veggies mushy and tasteless and it makes the meat tough. Plus it makes the soup too hot to eat!

The soup above is a throw together soup made mostly from leftovers. Hamburger and black beans from our tacos. Lentils and rice that we had last week. Green beans that were from our Monday meal. Beef broth, and a package of frozen mixed veggies were the only thing not ‘left over’.

Lots of my soups are born from leftovers but many are made intentionally. It seems like there are many steps but really it isn’t too bad. I start with a broth. Is it a beef, poultry or veggie soup? If it is chicken or turkey then use the carcass if you have one and make the broth from that. I already made a post about that here. Store bought broth is just fine too. The second thing I do is prepare the veggies. I saute them in a pot or pan. Don’t cook them all the way, just until slightly tender. I don’t usually saute spinach or kale or other greens, they get thrown in later.


After the veggies are done I put them in the broth. At this point the broth should be hot, but not boiling. Now you can add in any other things that are wanted in the soup but making sure that everything is cooked like beans, tomatoes or rice. Barley can be added now uncooked because it will cook while the soup simmers. Sometimes uncooked white rice can be added depending on how long the soup simmers.

Now I would saute any meat. The leftover soup had hamburger that was already cooked so I just threw it in but when you make a soup with carcass meat or boneless meats you want to wait until the end to add the meats. I saute up any raw meat in a pan with oil or butter (or both). Add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then I add the meat close to serving time. I let it simmer for just enough time to be cooked but not overcooked.


The last thing to add is any pastas and greens, and herbs. I never add pasta to the actual soup. I cook it up separate and add to the bowls afterwards. If you add them directly to the hot soup they are always there through all the second helpings and leftovers and pasta cooks fast and gets mushy. Leftover soups with pasta already in the soup are never that good.

So it is pretty easy but just has extra steps.  Broth, veggies and other additions, meat, then greens and pasta. Season to taste and enjoy. Just remember; most ingredients get cooked separate then added to the broth. Just don’t boil the soup!



Ice, Ice, Baby

Just a quick stop here today. I snapped some pictures of the recent ice storm we had. These ice storms are much more frequent than I ever remember. Mostly I cringe when I hear or see that we are having one because I really hate losing my electricity. I stay very warm and toasty but none of our water works. That is a pain.


But I do stop to see the beauty in it after it is all over. It is so sparkly. Today the birds were out chirping away, the turkeys were traveling through. The squirrels were chasing each other in attempts at some early mating maybe? The sun was shining and to me it seemed like Spring. Of course it is only January but that is the feeling I got.


Today, like many days I took a walk in the woods. I find it incredible how much the wood can change from day to day from storm to storm. My tracks get covered, trees are bent and block trails. I can get disorientated pretty easily. Have you ever followed deer tracks just to see where they go? I do that a lot.


I like following deer tracks because they make a path but also because the snow is usually packed down where they have walked. Many times when I don’t wear my snowshoes it is much easier to walk where even just one deer has passed. I think they sense where the shallow snow is and choose their path with that in mind. Almost always the deer bring me to water.


On the way home I bumped into Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street. He was frozen. I am sure you can see him. I was able to!


Anyway, as always it was a lovely walk. I hope you are enjoying this sunny, warmish, day.



The Great Outdoors

We live in Maine. It gets cold. It snows. Sometimes it snows a lot and gets really cold. So far we have had just that kind of winter. Lucky for us we love to get out in it and play!

A few days after Christmas we took a little trip to Boston to skate on Frog Pond. We are not city savvy so it was an adventure for us. It was a blast though. It happened to be a warm 0 degrees in Boston that week. You could say we headed south to warm up because Maine was in the double digit negatives! Despite the cold though we had a wonderful time. 1228171351_resized

The girls have started cross country ski lessons again. I snowshoe while they ski. I enjoy walking in the woods, thinking, and seeing nature up close. Winter gives everything a different look. My husband bought snowshoes this year so we have been going out together at times.


The place we go to a lot has a nice warming Yurt. It really is nice on these extremely cold days to be able to go inside to thaw out.



I would love to go to some different places here in Maine. I know about the Maine Huts to Trails. We have never gone but would love to. I am more interested in finding some trails that are free! If you know of any could you let me know?


Yesterday we trudged through the woods with our ice skates in hand and skated on frozen pools throughout the woods. It was so beautiful and the ice was so smooth. The air was cold, but the sun was shining. I didn’t get any pictures! That’s okay though, we were in the moment, and enjoying every bit of it. This is why winter is one of my favorite seasons. There is time to enjoy the outdoors. There are minimal outdoor chores to do. I love the crisp clean air. No humidity. Once you get moving you stay warm. I hope you are able to get out and enjoy this beautiful season!

Public, Private, Charter, Home?

My oldest daughter is 14. She has been homeschooling all her life. It is getting time to think about formal education of some sort. If not for the education then for the social opportunities. Rural Maine living makes it very hard to meet other kids and it is even harder when you homeschool. Where we live right now the choices for teen socialization is very limited.


My daughter tried Jr. High school at the public school last September but realized it just wasn’t what she wanted. Maybe it was culture shock, maybe it was the work load. Maybe it was a combination. She is currently attending a democratic style private school program that meets twice a week. It is about 45 minutes away. She spends the night with a friend that is also attending the program. Normally it would be pretty expensive (for us) but they offered her a full scholarship because they are just starting out and want to attract other students. It is working for now.


“For now” are the key words. I always have to have my eye on what is next. I won’t be able to pay for the tuition next year. Unless they offer another scholarship I really don’t see her going there again. Also, two days is kind of a disruption in a way. She does some math and reading here at home and a couple of subjects at the school but I am not sure she is really delving into anything deeply. Maybe she doesn’t need to.


We just heard about a new charter high school that may be opening up. It is a bit closer and would be free because my state recognizes charter schools and my town would pay the tuition. I haven’t been to a meeting yet but I imagine it would be every day. I would need to drive her there and then pick her up.

There is always public High School. My daughter didn’t like the Jr. High but maybe high school is different. She would be able to continue being in the orchestra program.


I have been a parent long enough to know that this has to be what is best for her. I am a little worried that at her age she may only be thinking about sociability. I am not worried about college. If that is what she wants then it will be possible even if she stayed home through high school. I want her to make an informed decision about education. Where will she have the most opportunity to learn new things. Find her passion. All at the same time as making quality, lasting friendships.

I guess I’ll keep you posted.

I Want a Warm Quilt!

Sometime in the beginnings of winter my daughter told me she loved the quilt I made her and it was really pretty and all but that it just wasn’t all that warm. She felt because it was quilted quite heavily that all the holes in it was making it not warm. She may have a point there but it was probably that it had cotton batting in it. She asked if I would make her a warm quilt. Music to a quilter’s ears!

I decided to make both daughters warm quilts for Christmas. Simple quilts, tied, and with wool, high loft batting. I also used flannel on the backs. They came out very nice and both of my daughters love them.





I had the girls choose two colors they liked at the fabric store and then I built on that. I used a simple brick pattern. All the blocks are the same shape and size then sewn in brick layer pattern. It was very easy and quick to make. Good thing since I didn’t really start until a week before Christmas. It is amazing what you can get done when you push through it. The only thing I didn’t do before wrapping them was attach the binding to the other side of the quilts. But doing that after Christmas kept me warm in the sub-freezing temps we have had here in Maine.


And now they are finished and on the beds and declared ‘very warm and cozy’! Success. Did you make any of your Christmas gifts this year?