Archive for the ‘Traditional Skills, Miscellaneous’ Category

Regarding the yard areas, I fell in love with the feeling of seclusion, wildwood beauty, and bittersweet memories lingering in the air. The day lilies were like a promise that everything could be glorious…

Homestead West Yard, Orange Daylilies, Bushes, Weeds, Hot Looking - August 2009

…the moss that things could indeed grow – water! –

…the periwinkle that beauty was not just for part of the time.

Back Porch Steps, Farm House, Homestead - Belle Honeysuckle, Nightshade, Weeds - August 2009

The back porch spoke of long summer evenings, and attendance on flower boxes (one was collapsed in a heap at the south end).

…the butterflies, though only cabbage butterflies, that there were blooming plants, and no insecticides to interfere with the good forms of life (as well as the not-so-desirable).

In short, there were many things that gave me hope – of productiveness, fun, and loveliness.
The buckeye tree fascinated me –



I’d never seen one before. We learned that the nuts, if properly boiled and prepared, can be a useful arthritis remedy, and the kids had fun making necklaces out of cured nuts. The tree is not doing so very well now, so we are trying to get a few little trees started, in case it succumbs.

Also, discovering mushrooms and slime molds:



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March 1, 2013 –

Wedding and Family Camp 019  Wedding and Family Camp 017

Though this room is a heap better than it was last year, in that the floor is not torn up by moisture, the ceiling has a temporary patch on it where rainwater ran through, and it is not full of junk…it still has a long ways to go. Clutter is the main problem, and the one I am having the hardest time knowing how to fix. This room, naturally, has become a catch-all for anything I don’t know what to do with, but don’t want to throw away. This means that the closet is full of craft materials and projects for Someday, the desk is full of unsorted stacks of paper in several categories, and the table in the middle is where I put things when I’m in a hurry (which is most of the time). (That tall fluff of feathers are peacock plumes, which the kids’ picked up out of the yard of an acquaintance who raises peafowl.)

But…the tall cabinet is orderly with children’s craft supplies, games, and jigsaw puzzles, and this makes holiday mess-making and school crafts go smoother.

Doll House, Back Room - August 2014


My dollhouse is another project which is awaiting my attention.


August 5, 2014 –

At last, I have had the proper motivation to deal with my back room. Friends came to visit for two weeks, and I needed a guest room. Wow, what a workout! This room is now far from perfect, but is certainly more pleasant now.

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The table in the middle of the room is gone – moved to the attic, where eventually, I hope to use it as a secondary study area, and a place to work on crafts. The card table in the second picture was given to us by a friend.

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My bookshelves are properly organized and cared for, and my horse equipment (I lack a tack room, and a horse just now) is all together and protected. Desk piles and files are divided according to subject, though not everything has a home yet. Beneath the desk is a laundry basket full of odds and ends for sewing, such as old jeans to cut into quilt blocks. Slow and steady may not win the race, but it eventually gets me to my destination.Aug2-Aug9, 2014 371  Aug2-Aug9, 2014 370

I have developed work stations for my various projects – though I don’t work directly in this room much, as it is still not insulated. Rock cutting, for instance. I have wanted to learn this skill for four years, and at last have my opportunity. So my rock-cutting mentor sent me home with a handful of so-so sapphires and a machine, and said, “Have fun! And you will.” And he’s right, though learning something new is always nerve-wracking for me. Good light – in this case strong sunlight – is a need for cutting rocks, so this is an ideal situation, though not an ideal set-up for the machine.

Then, behind the rock cutting machine is a small desk I keep for organizing information I plan to use to further my own soul – quotes I want to take down or apply, and my journals. I have my work planned out for me in manageable bites, with my Quotes Journals lined up in chronological order on their own shelf, except for one I’m working on, which is accessible on a different decorative shelf with my current Quotes Journal.

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My file cabinets are 90% re-organized and culled – a real victory, as this had not been undertaken in over seven years. I’m still working on that abhorrent crafts closet. My dollhouse has been improved and made attractive. (That’s in a different post.)

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Beneath my dollhouse, I have room to store some children’s books that the kids don’t much appreciate, but I do – an extensive collection of fairy-tales, for instance.

Lastly, I have quotes on child training where I’ll see them often…

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…plus pictures of people I have compassion for, taped up where I’ll notice them, but still in private area where no one else is likely to notice. (Explanations of one’s soul can be bothersome.)

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I finally figured out what I want to do about goat fencing.

Since any fence that won’t hold water probably won’t hold goats either, I felt I was in a bit of a fix in trying to save my best trees and flowers from the creatures. At my dad’s, they have the run of the place, and have stripped nearly every tree of everything green as high as they can stand. I love my plants, and don’t wish such a fate on them. As I puzzled and prayed recently, voila!, I saw it – a rose hedge, advertised to keep critters and kids either in or out.

I feel it is a workable, long-term solution, though it definitely is not a quick fix. Since I was planning on moving some roses from the house in town anyway (I had yellow, white, and pink hedge roses there), I at least have somewhere to start. Then, it will be a matter of getting them to grow in the directions and to the extent that I want them to. And, it won’t matter if the goats eat some; they are unlikely to eat their way through the whole thorny hedge.

I picture a rose fence around the whole yard area, and a perimeter fence around the main tree area, to keep the goats in. (I’d like to save my pasture mostly for other critters, if possible.)

Of course, ideally, I desire a tall, Beauty-and-the-Beast type hedge, all swaying with blood-red roses. (Everything sways here – it’s windy.) Perhaps, all in good time.

Courtesy of: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.growquest.com/rose%2520section/roses_2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.growquest.com/rose%2520section/roses_a_to_z%2520L.htm&h=640&w=480&sz=58&tbnid=U4yc_szYk7yRFM:&tbnh=259&tbnw=194&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dred%2Brose%2Bhedge%2Bimages&zoom=1&q=red+rose+hedge+images&hl=en&usg=__TjmsyvK-5BCf_p2fC4WxqvLOgAo=&sa=X&ei=n6ckTbLaHoSlnQec4bXBAQ&ved=0CB0Q9QEwAQ

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I have mixed feelings about the event I’m about to share. On the one hand, it’s purely redneck eccentricity made me laugh. Really, who but Will would consider this sort of thing a fundamental right of marriage? Still, all the mud put me into quite a tizzy when it came time to clean up.

We needed more fire wood. We had access to several old boards and fence posts, but the wind was howling at roughly 20* below (F.), and I must admit, it seemed rather cruel to tell Hubby, “Out with you! Go saw in the cold!” So I let him and his circular saw into my laundry room. This was the result:

The boards thawed as he sawed them, and left a lake district…or a flood plain, depending on how you view it.

Billy, willing and sweet, took it upon himself to attempt to mop. I was busy writing another article, and let him. I won’t get into details, but suffice it to say that, when all was said and done, I spent an hour and a half and eight buckets of water to get the mess under control.

Oh, for a big mud room, and an official place to keep fire wood dry and stacked.

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I liked this because it is a different way to say the same thing as all those tired old “Welcome” cross-stitch pictures.


A gift from daughter to mother –

She looked at the picture she held, done in finest embroidery of colored threads on white linen – a perfect reproduction of the window – sixteen panes in each of the casements. There was the deep sill and on it two tall tapers burning, on each candle a trace of wick melting into a shapely, pointed red flame surrounded by yellow, and around each flame an aura of yellow and green and mauve.

In neat letters of script, below the sill, Sigrid read,

Jul ute, Jul inne,

Julefrid i hjarta och i sinne.”

The “J’s” were sewn in red, and the little letters in dark blue thread.

“Yes,” she said, “we have Yuletide out and Yuletide in, and peace in both our hearts and minds.”

– from April Snow  (a novel), by Lillian Budd

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Entryway Cleaned Up First Time, Farm House - September 2009


Here is the farm house entry way after it’s first cleaning and mopping. Will and I took a deep breath and plunged in – wearing work gloves – to remove the mouse-mess-infested, ever-smelly mountain of trash in the corner. In this pile we found many surprises.

I had assumed, at first, that this pile was primarily camping gear and miscellaneous belongings of the old woman’s grown son, from his occasional stays here throughout the years. It appeared as if he liked hunting and camping, and had used this house as his local headquarters while on vacation.

But the top layer was deceiving. Underneath the camping gear, we found everything from boxes of unused note cards (mouse-infested), to rotten oranges, to used toilet paper (no joke).

After carrying everything out to our pickup box trailer to haul it to our big dumpster in town, I mopped and disinfected the unfinished floor with a solution of white vinegar infused with lavender buds and orange peel. This solution will kill viruses and bacteria, and left a noticeably pleasant scent.

Since this photograph, the entry way has again been filled with trash to be hauled away or burned, but, overall, it’s still progress.

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Random#25 084

This is the mudroom as it has no doubt stood for many years (minus K-10 the German Shepherd). It is a nice mudroom.

Random#25 099Only problem is, the attached kitchen is rather small. It has a nice propane stove, however, with six burners and two ovens. I would like to put our Dixie wood-and-coal cookstove in, though, as we use it most of the year, and prefer it to any other kind of stove.

With my favorite shelves added along the wall between the dining room and kitchen, and the south wall full of cabinets (hurray!) that leaves not much but a walkway from mudroom to dining room.

So…I would like to build a new mudroom. Nothing fancy; just an unheated space across the whole front of the house, about 10 feet deep, divided into two sections. On the right hand would be a space with a laundry sink, in which I could also put my wringer washer. (Wringer washers can be amazingly efficient.) There would be a place on the ceiling fitted to hoist up a deer or whatnot, for butchering or hanging. There would be a floor drain, for…messes. Will could also process all his raw dog food mixtures in here. Along the east wall (front), there would be quite a long space in which to stack a supply of dry firewood. In the other section, to the left of the front door, would be a summer kitchen/canning kitchen.

Here the old propane stove from the current kitchen would go, and I would want a wide bench, with shelving underneath, suited for processing large batches of food, and storing large cooking pots, canners, and so on. A potting bench, for the spring planting season, would also be highly desirable. Ideally, I would want windows along the north and south walls, which, if done right, could even facilitate getting baskets of produce into the house, without having to track through the front door continuously. There would be a nearly straight shot to the basement, and hence the cellar, from the front door, however.  This summer kitchen would be twice as deep as the butcher/washing section, as the house is not even across the front. This means that a winter clothes closet would fit nicely along the south wall, where it wouldn’t risk getting spattered with blood from butchering. Of course, all floors would be cement – easy clean, few worries.

I’ve introduced these ideas to Will. He thinks they sound nice. (Translated: He has no commitment to the plan, but wouldn’t mind if it magically put itself into action.)

Naturally, that would leave the old mudroom as a place to spill over from the true kitchen. This is important, as, if we choose to have electricity on-grid (not much of a probability), I will keep two refrigerators in the “mudroom”, along the south wall. One would be for household use, and one for dairy. A herd of milking does can produce several gallons of milk a week, and I prefer to make cheese in five to ten gallon batches.  At any rate,  on-grid or off, I’ll need someplace (with controlled temperatures) to deal with the milk.  Also, it would be great to have someplace to put a work table, as the counter space is limited. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Then – ahhh…at last. With these improvements, I’ll have a kitchen where I can cook without working around every project and family member in the house. Actually, two kitchens.

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