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!

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Here, There, Everywhere

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The busiest time of the year is here. No other time during the year am I being pulled in so many different directions. I am appreciating each morning here at home because by 10:30 I am out of the house and sometimes don’t return until night time. Suppers are a real challenge. They must be easy, quick and healthy! We did have hot dogs last week though. Sometimes it is the only way. One day this week we may have to grab something out!

I went to visit my son last week at the Carpenter’s Boat Shop and spent the night. It was so nice to see the things he is working on. I even worked on one of the boats!  Everyone was very welcoming and I was quite comfortable.

I went on a knitting retreat in Portland. I had the best time. Who wouldn’t? Yarn, knitting, wine, chocolate. We went out to eat. We knit. I learned how to double knit. We had a party with door prizes and yarn swaps. We knit. We had cocktails together and knit. It was really fun to be around so many like minded women.

Softball season has begun. The girls are on different teams. One is playing through the school, the other through the recreation department. Pretty much every night there is softball. One in the afternoon, one in the evening.

This is gardening season too. I have been out planting early things like greens and peas. I went to the Fedco tree sale and picked up some tomato seedlings. I wanted to get blueberry bushes to replace the ones that were damaged this year but they were all out! My asparagus is up and the garlic too. Next week strawberries are being delivered! So excited about that.

We are trying to keep up on our homeschooling too so we don’t have so much to catch up on during the summer. Both girls are on the last parts of their math. We are reading about the ancient empires right now. Just finished reading the Iliad. Now we are reading the Odyssey. We still have to finish biology. Waiting a bit for that. It is all the summer things like caterpillars and frogs. I went for a walk in the woods last week and found some owl pellets. The girls couldn’t wait to dissect those!

We have started our daily walks again. Last week we even got a bike ride in, dodging all the rain drops. Boy has it been rainy!

This weekend all my sons came home for a visit. One had just got back from a road trip out in California! I wanted to see pictures. I did and it looked like he has a wonderful time. Another son helped me put my flower garden back together. It got ripped up during some pipe work. That is how the blueberry bushes got damaged too. He helped me see that it is still pretty and all will be well.

In between all the running around I have put together a quilt block. Quilted a block or two on the picnic quilt and finished a sweater. I will show that in a future post. I have to make time for my crafts. It is for my mental health.

So things are pretty busy. I know it will settle down after softball ends. And the garden is all planted. Then I can sit outside, with a glass of wine or a cup of tea and relax.

Yea, right.

Nesting

As it is Spring, I have felt the urge to clean, organize, tidy up, and beautify. Many times this hits me in September. It may again. I guess it makes sense, every 6 months or so I need to restart.

I ‘Spring’ cleaned the house. It took me four days. I was battling some kind of virus but that wasn’t going to stop me. It was time. I don’t think I have cleaned the house this well in a few years. I still have to do the outside windows but that will wait until it is a bit nicer out. For now though, the curtains, floors, walls, cabinets, and inside windows got a good cleaning.

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When I say beautifying I mean switching things around, putting out new candles and changing where the plants go. I went outside and found some early blooming flowers and trees to bring in. Every year I fill little vases with small bits of flowers from outside. I love seeing them at the kitchen window. There isn’t that much color outside right now but when I see it at my window it tricks my mind into thinking that flowers are blooming everywhere.

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Dean brought out the table and chairs for the deck. I put out a vase of Forsythia that is just about ready to bloom. It really is quite inviting of a space now. I think we may eat our lunch out there today. Spring really has arrived here in Maine now. I have been in that nesting mood even though there are no babies on the way!

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The girls and I planted some flowers and broccoli last week and many of them are up and thriving. It is time to start the battle of the broccoli! I have a history with broccoli. I will not quit trying to grow it by seed. We eat a lot of broccoli and my dream is to grow enough to freeze it like I do green beans, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. I will succeed!

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I harvested my first batch of spinach last week. I topped pizza with it, put it in a salad, and added it to smoothies. More to come this week. Gardening season has officially started here. I may even plant some peas soon.

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This blog can’t have enough pictures of pizza! One of my favorite foods. I have a lot of favorite foods. By the looks of the pizza I also like cheese.

I feel quite energized right now. Probably because of the warmer weather, I am over my cold, and I have a very clean, beautiful house. Seize the day!

 

 

 

Inside

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It has been very cold lately and it snowed here all day. It is beautiful and I am so happy to have snow on the ground. I hope to go snowshoeing tomorrow and take some pictures of all the white. But today we have been staying inside where it is cozy and warm.

I am happy about getting this blog settled in its new place. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. I can’t say I enjoyed talking to the lady at Hostgator. She was very rude and actually laughed at me. I did have a lot of questions, but I have been paying them all year and I guess I figured I deserved to be given some time. I guess she didn’t think that way. Glad I am done with them.  So far, things have been easy and working with WordPress.com is very clean and understandable.

I made Brussel sprouts the other night. They came out so good. I used to eat them as a child and hated them. They would be frozen or come out of a can. Eww! Then I decided to serve them fresh to my family and would roast them with salt and pepper and olive oil. The family ate them but I never got a great response. Then I cooked them in a crock with the lid on and generously salted and peppered them. Sprinkled a bit of oil and baked at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. My family raved over them. They love them that way. I asked what was wrong with the other kind and they said that roasting them made some of the skins hard. I love it when they are honest with me. Constructive criticism is a good thing.

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Before Thanksgiving I made some lard. I explain how to render lard here. I used small mason jars rather than large ones. I found out the hard way the lard is very hard to get to when it is deep in a jar. The jars I used this time are 16 oz jars and that is exactly what I need for my pie recipe.

Here is my weekly menu. Hope it helps you decide what to make. I always love different ideas. I would love to hear your ideas!

Monday:  Honey Garlic Chicken with thai veggies and rice

Tuesday: Squash soup and crackers or bread

Wednesday: Homemade mac and cheese with side of broccoli

Thursday: Taco night

Friday:  Potluck in afternoon, leftovers at night

Saturday: Chuck roast with homemade cream of mushroom soup and mashed potatoes and carrots

Sunday: Chicken Soup and crusty bread

Have a great week!

 

 

 

Photo Op Our Way

Quick post – The photo I picked for my card! Also a funny one. It was really hard to get everyone to smile at the same time. Or stop making funny faces. Or stop complaining. Hard to believe three out of the five are adults.

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The next picture has only 4 of them because he was ready to quit. Thankfully he came back in time for the good picture. I keep thinking back when we tried to take the three oldest boys to Sears for a photo. Crazy!

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I am thinking of moving the blog to a free hosting site. I have paid for this last year and I don’t see any differences other than I have much more spam than I ever did with blogspot. I will be in and out while I figure it all out. I know my look and theme will be different. Good timing for a new year anyway but I hope all my content will move over easily.

Thanks for reading!