Archive for the ‘Advent Journey’ Category

2008 was my start on becoming more self sufficient.  Less dependent on the industrial food system, and the mall, is where I started.  I feel good about our progress.  I had my first vegetable garden this year.  We were quite successful and learned a lot.  I LOVE tomatoes fresh from the garden.  Fresh green beans taste nothing like frozen, canned, or even beans from the market.  Carrots left to be hit by a good frost (or frozen into the ground, even) are the sweetest, most delicious I’ve ever encountered.  You need to be very diligent with the squash seedlings, for it you don’t have them properly labeled you will not know what is what until they grow fruit…is that a Zucchini plant, a Pumpkin or a Butternut?  Tomatoes really need substantial supports, little bamboo sticks are not enough, even thought they are cute.  Root veggies need softer soil, with a little sand in there so they go deep and don’t just grow fat, and potato tires do not work well with hay and a rainy spring, nor do they work well with freshly fertilized soil.


We learned more, but that was a good recap.  We also started raising a flock of chickens.  I never knew how fun those little critters are to have around.  They are very amusing, low maintenance and quite friendly.  We are up to 8-9 eggs a day, enough for our family and my parents, right from the back yard.  This year we built a coop and a makeshift run that needs to be taken to the next level in the Spring.


I started my journey of putting up food.  Canning and freezing specifically.  I did a lot of borrowing of supplies, having never done this before.  I stuck to tomatoes and peaches for the most part.  I’ve had some very yummy meals made with those jars of tomatoes.  What a treat to have canned peaches with our oatmeal from time to time.  Enjoying blueberry pancakes and an occasional bowl of blueberry rice pudding with frozen berries we collected for free from the plants near our house.  I meant to pull out a bag of frozen homemade cider for Christmas, and forgot, but that’s okay, we have all winter to enjoy the 3-4 gallons we have in there.


Lots of crafting took place in 2008.  I think the items I’m most fond of are the Sweater Vest completed on the last day of the year, which is drying so has yet to be photographed.

The Lady February Sweater for me:


The Advent Journey ornaments:


Mini’s Quilt:


Making the pattern and tutorial for the reversible wrap around baby/toddler dress:


Using my craft to help others is something I tried my hand at this year, with coordinating the Knitting to Keep Warm event at my Local Yarn Store.  This is something I’d liked to do more of next year, both with coordinating events for others to get involved with, and doing things on my own to donate to those who need them.

I’ve taken cooking and baking more seriously this year.  Our life circumstances never had us eating home cooked meals, cooked by me at least.  We worked in a group home where we had a cook.  We ate out a lot.  Then we moved to the country and had a baby.  Well, 2008 was the year to learn how to cook at home.  It’s gone pretty well, and I’m looking forward to diving deeper in 2009.

We entered the year of 2 with our daughter.  She has been a lot of fun, lots of talking, puzzle making, reading and coloring.  She helps daddy make breakfast, and is a fabulous chicken farmer.  She is creative and needs little stimulation from us or her toys, to play happily, but enjoys time with her parents and likes to help with the sewing machine.


Looking back on 2008 I am pleased to say I enjoyed this year.  It has been a year of reevaluation, change and new adventures, all of which, while challenging, have definitely enriched our lives.  Thank you for being here, reading, commenting and taking the journey of 2008 with us!

2009 is ahead.  I have no idea what it will bring, but I know the direction I’m starting in and intend to be flexible on how that path is followed.  My plans include:

Having a garden again this year.  It’s being expanded to the piece of land that lies at the other end of my property.  We’ve tilled, and will be planting a large tomato crop.  We did buy a lot of tomatoes this year, and we don’t want to have to do that, so we know we need to plant more.  Lots of Roma and sauce style for sure.  Dad and Mini will be looking for the Sun Globe sweetness of those beautiful orange cherry tomatoes, and of course some nice big cutting tomatoes for sandwiches and salads.  The seed catalogs have arrived so January will be spent pouring over those and deciding what to buy again this year, and what to try for the first time.


Chickens!  We have decided, with the help of our local heirloom chicken farmers to expand our poultry focus.  We will be raising some chickens for meat purposes, along with maintaining and probably adding to our egg layers.  We enjoy eating chicken, and while we are fortunate to be able to buy chicken from local raisers, we feel the cost and experience of raising our own will make sense.  We are also going to be trying our hand at a half dozen turkeys, Narragansett breed, the old New England Turkey, to be shared with my parents, and a couple ducks.  Duck eggs are great for baking, very rich and delicious to eat on their own, and we think it would be fun to have a couple ducks wandering about, eating slugs out of our garden.  We are looking at the beautiful Blue Cayuga.

Lots of crafting!  I look forward to incorporating mini into more of my crafting now that she is able to follow directions and understand what we are doing.  She bakes and has become a fabulous egg shell puller (Husband cracks she pulls them apart), and is quite proficient with a whisk.

Clothing is a big focus in my crafting.  I don’t tend to get into a lot of crafts for crafts sake, but rather am looking for crafts that are fun to make and fun to use later.  Kitchen items like potholders, and an occasional pin cushion are about as “frivolous” as I tend to get.  Though I won’t say never.    I have plans for some exciting sewing projects, both to create from patterns and to create from scratch.  I love to see my family members enjoying comfortable clothes I’ve made.  I also enjoy being able to put on an outfit in the morning knowing that most, or all, of it was made by me.  It’s just a fun feeling.

Knitting has become my favorite crafting endeavor so there will be lots more of that.  Especially baby knitting!

The most exciting plan of 2009 is that we will be welcoming our second baby girl into this world.  I am 6 1/2 months into a very smooth sailing pregnancy, due in March!  Mini is excited to be a big sister and kisses her good night and talks to her through my belly every night.  We have not had to do a lot to prepare this time, so it seems it’s flown by.  We have most everything we need, as we kept all of mini’s clothes (all the garments I sewed and knit will have a new life) and toys, car seat, co-sleeping crib, breast pump and the like.  But the baby does need her own hand knits, so the purchases I made yesterday are, in large part, for her.

I want to focus this year on contentment.  I have found myself content far more of the time, than ever before in my life.  It’s a feeling I enjoy and one I want to foster all the more.  I’m going to be sharing my journey in that area, as well.  Contentment seems to be a mindset, one where even though there is more to have or experience, what you have is enough and you are satisfied. I want to enjoy what I have, personally, relationally and materially, rather than worrying about what else I could have.

I hope 2009 provides pleasures and contentment for my family and yours.

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I’m sitting on the couch, eating Gram’s peanut butter fudge (thank you dad for grabbing some for me), knitting Husband’s sweater vest and enjoying the fully decked Christmas tree.

My grandmother makes the BEST peanut butter fudge.  I have had some excellent peanut butter fudge made by other folks, and I can enjoy it, but it just doesn’t compare to Gram’s.  I missed Christmas at her house this year to weather and schedules, but dad “had my back”, and brought some home for me.  I like her chocolate, but when there is peanut butter, it pales in comparison.


I’m enjoying the Mangyle sweater vest. It’s just enough of a challenge, without being mind boggling.  It’s coming out nicely and husband really likes it.  The vest itself is very basic, and I might make one without the pattern on it at a later date…if husband likes wearing this one.  I used Galway wool, and the cost was pretty reasonable…even with needing to get 2 skeins for the color work, that I won’t really use all of, it was 6 skeins of yarn, totaling about $35.00.  Not bad.


The tree now has all the ornaments from our Advent Journey.  What a heart warming adventure that was.  I think Mini really liked it and found it meaningful to the extent a 2 year old finds meaning. It’s nice to have them all done and ready for next year.  I’m going to make bags for each day with numbers on them, so we can have those hanging across the top of the couch, under the window sill, or something, so the countdown is more visible.  I wanted to do that this year too, but with the embroidery of the ornaments I didn’t have the time.  My husband plans on picking songs for the candle days, too.  Mini will be 3 next year so it will be nice to have it more interactive.  I’m very pleased with the family time it created and the conversations is started even at her young age.

For those who have asked.  I did not use a pattern.  I’m going to put together a PDF of all the images I used. Most are altered from free images online.  I will also be putting together a list of all the verses to download.


This is my second post of the day.  So please be sure to go down one more for our Christmas Video Card!

Merry Christmas!!

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Christmas at mom and dad’s this morning.  Life is good.  A new stone bread pan, a dress from my favorite Etsy designer, and a new hoe for the garden!  Yes, I’m that simple.  Pictures when I get home, as tonight I’m at the in-laws.

Mini received a fabulous wooden dollhouse. I love her crazy morning hair, and with the backlighting it’s even better!


The downer for today was I didn’t get to go to Gram and Gramps for the Christmas Eve festivities.  It was raining and I was worried if we waited until night time to go we’d risk encountering black ice.  So we left home early.  Very sad.  I did instruct mom and dad to snag  a couple pieces of Gram’s peanut butter fudge if she made it.  Mom brought the Kansas corn I was going to make, so I’ll have to make some this weekend…it’s just the flavor of Christmas Eve to me.  When I make it I’ll post the recipe.

We did our last Advent time with mini and gave her our gifts.  She asked for the socks to be put on, immediately, and is sleeping happily with her chicken right now, with promises of coloring in the morning.  It was such a sweet, peaceful time to share as a family.


Day 25


Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

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I’ve been wanting to make one of these for Mini since I saw the pattern on JC  Handmade’s blog.  I bought the pattern on Etsy.  I modified it a bit, as I wanted to use a 4×6 pad instead of a 3×5 as I think 3×5 is just too small.  I decided to make the pounch for holding papers more like a folder, as that seemed easier for little hands to put their drawings in that the pocket that the original pattern called for.  But the pattern I bought was very easy to understand, well photographed, and since she gives you permission to sell the items you make it’s a good deal.

Mini love orange so this fabric seemed just the thing.  I filled it with the triangle crayons so if we use this in a restaurant we don’t have to worry about the crayons rolling off the table.



I don’t know if I’ve mused on here about our gifts for Mini, but we try not to do much on Christmas for her.  She has a very loving and generous family who shower her with gifts, so we opt to keep it low key, and just do things when she reaches new developmental levels throughout the year.  However, I do love to make a couple special little things for her, and this year she will wake to a knit chicken, a new pair of socks and the crayon wallet.  They will be in this little basket, as I still haven’t figured out what I want to do for stockings.


Christmas starts tomorrow for us.  We will go to my parents home in the morning for our “Christmas morning festivities”.  We will be at my in-law’s on Christmas, so we are doing it up right, a day early, with my parents.  Lots of family, food, and memories to be made, await the next couple days.  I’ve thrown out that list, cut my losses and am preparing to sit down to a nice bowl of sausage pea soup, which has become my mealtime standby.  It’s so easy to make, hearty and so darn yummy.  I had to get carrots with the help of an ax tonight to make up this batch.  Kind of funny…me out in my nightgown, wool coat, boots and a flashlight, whacking the frozen earth next to the carrots to dislodge the delicious orange delights.

Oh, we got a blue green egg today!  I’ve been getting some pinkish starter eggs, and figured they were from one of the Americana’s, I must have been correct.  It was a treat to open the door this evening to such a fun colorful surprise.

Since I tossed the list, I can now pull out whatever I want to leisurely, enjoyable, peacefully work on…I think the sweater vest for my husband will win, after a bit of tidying up.


Day 24


Luke 2:15-20

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”    They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.  All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished,  but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.  The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

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Can I have 1 more week before Christmas?  Seriously, if I could I know I could get all the things I want to do before Christmas done.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling.  If we all ban together we could me the change!  Of course if we had to do that, we’d still need another week to finish eveything we didn’t do while we were lobbying for the change.  Okay, it seems like a cyclical mess.  Okay, I’ll just have to throw some things off the list and make a list for next year so I remember all these great ideas I haven’t the time for this year.

I’m afraid I’m coming down with a cold.  I’m feeling a tickle in my throat and I’m getting that “feeling” in my head that I’m a little off.  Hopefully a good night sleep and the Orange Juice I bought tonight during my last minute errands, will do the trick.

I did make socks for mini.  I used art yarns super wash merino.  I love making socks for her out of that yarn.  It works up fast, it’s washable, and the colors are yummy.  I did a simple toe up formula sock.  I think she’ll really like these.


We’ll see what I can get done up tomorrow.  I must prioritize, make a list and conquer that list!  May you find all the time you need to finish up your projects!


Day 23


Luke 2:8-14

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Last year my husband made a video with our daughter and dog.  It’s related to tonight’s advent, so I thought I’d share:

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It’s been snowing all day, literally, no stopping.  It started yesterday sometime, I don’t even know but maybe it’s been 2 days straight…all I know is that tonight just before posting this, I lost power, Again!!  I woke up this morning to power, but no internet connection.  I am finally fully online again, so here is a picture of Mini sledding with her friend Lydia, and last night’s post.


Mom’s shawl isn’t getting done.  Not because I ran out of time, but because I hate how it’s coming out.  I’ve decided, and I will sleep on this decision, for now, to frog it and make a simple triangle shawl for her April birthday.  The yarn is “totally her” (said in the California shopping girl sort of way), but I’m displeased with how it’s working up in this application.  Wish I realized this before I got two sleeves done.  For now I’m doing some comfort knitting…

Working on hubby’s sweater vest.  Back is done.  Front is started!  I like working with simply wool.  It feels so nice in the hands.  It’s soothing…which I need in my knitting right now.

I will be casting on socks for mini in the morning and seeing if I can finish a pair in one day…


I boxed up my Holiday Traditions swap, and will bring it to the PO with the last of the ordered Car Catch-alls tomorrow.

I have a sweet little video to share…a sort of Advent Journey with music by Sixpence None the Richer.


Day 22


Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This is prophecy from the book of Isaiah long before Christ came.  It described what the Messiah would be like.

Luke 2:13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Christ came to bring peace.  Peace through a renewed relationship with the our Creator.  The kind of peace that surpasses our situations, circumstances and life experiences.

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I had a great time at the Farmer’s Market.  There were fewer vendors, not a lot fewer, but definitely fewer, and few people braved the weather than last time, but the folks that were there seemed to be serious about buying and the choices were still plentiful.  I still have a fair number of potatoes, Garlic and Squash from my own garden, as  well what I stocked up on at the last market, but there were plenty of all of those to be found.  The meat folks were well stocked, and the maple syrup and gifty items like spiced nuts and cookie dough was out for the tempting…and I did succumb.

I got 3 pounds of  Sweet Italian Elk Sausage since I loved it so much last time.  I made up a batch of pea soup almost as soon as I arrived home!  This time using just 1/2 pound and I’m much happier with that ratio.  Rutabaga and Turnips for a lovely root veggie soup.  I got a pound of Elk burger to try, along with a couple more pounds of beef from my regular farm.  I bought maple syrup from a delightful fellow who makes it himself, using low heat to hold in flavor and nutrients.  It’s oatmeal season around here and I don’t like to go cheap on the syrup!  I picked up a pint of cookie dough for those days when I just want a couple as a night time snack. Oh, and not to forget the 1 1/2 year aged cheddar cheese!  Delightful and so creamy.


I also picked up a copy of “Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer’s Guide to Farm Friendly Food”.  The fella with the syrup, and the rutabaga, was selling copies at cost!  Only $7.00, as a way to get the word out.  I bought one, and am hoping Hubby can read it to me while I knit.  It’s written by Joel Salatin, who is the farmer that was featured in Michael Pollan’s book, Omnivore’s Dilemma.  Michael wrote the forward to Joel’s book.  It has a fun cover and I can’t wait to get started.  Joel is such an amazing thinker as well as a hard working farmer.  Here is the beginning of his introduction:

“Farm subsidies.  Farmland preservation.  Food-borne illness.  Antibiotic resistance.  Genetic engineering.  Clones.  Corporate power. Globalism.  Biosecurity.  Factory farms.  Chemical use.  Healthy food.  Organic certification.

After discussing any one of these issues, our tendency is to ask, almost rhetorically because we can’t believe there is an answer ‘So what can I do?’

Every day you and I decide what will be on our dinner plate.  It’s a decision for which we can accept responsibility, or one that we can take a defeatist attitude and sigh: ‘What’s the use?’

All of us need to be Empowered.”

The book is meant to Empower food buyers to pursue positive alternatives to the industrialized food system.  Bring clean food farmers and their patrons into a teamwork relationship. Marry the best of western technology with the soul of eastern ethics.  Educate food buyers about productions.  And create a food system that enhances nature’s ecology for future generations.

Does any of that interest you?  I hope it does and if you want a copy you can get it on Amazon.com for a $12.21.

After the market we took a trip to the milk farm.  They were at the market, but not with their milk and cream as they aren’t allow to sell it there.  Good food, being illegal to sell in to the public…seriously what has this world come to?  But I won’t jump on that soap box right now.  I stocked up on milk, yogurt and they have a new cream separator so I was able to get some whipping cream!  I think that will go on top of some blueberry rice pudding very soon.

Mini loves her new Pj’s.  I saw no need to wait until Christmas to impart this little gift, as no one should wait to be cozy if they don’t have to.



I wrapped up the collection of goodies for my Holiday Traditions trade.  I’m late, but she is too, and we both understand each others delay, so it’s worked out well.  I’m sending off on Monday and I hope it arrives before Christmas, but if  not I hope she enjoys getting late goodies as much as I do.  My mom never remembers where she stashed all the gifts so someone, inevitably gets a gift the day after Christmas or in some cases up to a week later.  We don’t mind, it’s kind of a “tradition”, and when it’s me I’m actually happy because who doesn’t like a surprise no matter what day it comes?  So after Christmas I’ll show you all the goodies I sent off, for now…shhh.


Day 21


Matthew 2:1-12

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.  He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared.  Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!

They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

People traditionally think of a manger/nativity scene with three wise men.  The bible never says there are 3, but list 3 gifts, so I guess that’s were the idea that there were three men.  The bible also indicates that they found Jesus in his home, after the family had left Bethlehem.  So the wisemen should not really be in a nativity scene…unless you put them across the room.  But seriously, whether there were three, when they arrived, all not the point.  The point is that God gave these men a sign of their Messiah and they followed, requiring traveling a long distance, taking great risks, and seemingly with no doubt about what they should be doing and who Jesus really was.  That is just amazing.  It’s one thing to know the end and believe, but it’s another to be like these men and Mary and be there in the beginning and trust.

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