Category Archives: Family time

Holiday’s End

Our weekend with family ended tonight after all of us sharing our second turkey leftovers for lunch and dinner for 9 at a restaurant in Roanoke.  Eldest son and his family are headed home to get a fire going in their woodstove before the bitter cold of the night and to allow son to get some projects graded for his students before their classes this week.  They have two more weeks of the semester prior to exams.

We had a great time having 2 of our children and their kids here for the weekend, the kids enjoying cousin time.  We put a big dent in the 20+ pound turkey and ate all of the left over sides, a whole quart of my homemade icicle pickles, a pint of mixed olives, a dozen huge rolls, and a couple of pies.

Yesterday while the house was quiet, yes it happens even with 6 adults and 3 kids, I made 4 batches of soap for the next Holiday Market.  I have never successfully made more than two batches in a day with no batch failure.  I have 40 bars of soap curing, 10 each of Citrus Soother, Jasmine, Cedarwood/Sandalwood, and Goat Milk/Honey.


I failed to purchase lavender essential oil when I went in to get the avocado and castor oils for the second two batches of soap, so I will need another trip in town tomorrow, so that I can get essential oils for lotion bars.  I still need to get a few boxes stained for Men’s Grooming boxes for the shop for holidays.  If you visit the shop between now and Monday night, you can receive a 10% discount on knitwear and yarn by entering the code SB/CM10%.

Tomorrow will be grocery day and Monday I will finally plant garlic before the midweek much needed rain.

Now that Thanksgiving is behind me, I need to start thinking about gifts for the kids and grands for Christmas.

To Grandmother’s House They Came

Over the creek and through the woods to Grandmother’s (and Grandfather’s) house they came.

Part of the family converged on the farm yesterday to celebrate Thanksgiving together. With nine in the house, meals are major.  While one family was driving here, and the other at work, I cooked up a pot of pasta sauce with sausage and turned it into a huge thick lasagna and added a big salad with some of the last of the Farmers’ Market salad greens, some carrots and daikon radishes also from the market and we ate hearty last night.

Today was so mild and beautiful, son, daughter, daughter in law, a grandson, and I set up an assembly line to put the 6 cull chickens in the freezer before we tackled the Thanksgiving feast.  With everyone chipping in, the 6 birds were dealt with, the garage and driveway cleaned up, and Thanksgiving prepared.  The 20.48 lb turkey was spatchcocked to reduce the cooking time and because we learned last Thanksgiving, what a moist delicious bird it makes.  The huge bird cooked in only a bit less than an hour and a half.


Though preparing a turkey this way does not let you put a whole golden bird on the table, we don’t do that anyway and this is so much more delicious.  With a turkey as large as this one, son is called in to cut the backbone out, flatten the bird and lift it into and out of the oven.  He also is the carver while the remaining dishes were being finished in the oven and put on the table.  Last year, with a slightly smaller turkey, we bought the huge pan and worried it wasn’t going to be large enough today.  After Thanksgiving last year, I bought poultry shears which makes removing the backbone possible.  The organ meats and backbone were tossed in a large stockpot with some celery, water, and salt and started simmering.  The cooked turkey bones were added after our feast.

The giant sweet potato from the garden was peeled, boiled and then baked with a touch of butter, cinnamon, and a little brown sugar.


It didn’t take but the one sweet potato to make a casserole that had leftovers.  Green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, bread dressing, rolls, homemade pickles and cranberries, assorted olives, pumpkin and pecan pies, and we are all in food comas now.


Though granddaughter has celebrated her birthday twice this week with the roller skating party with her best friend on Sunday, her classroom celebration on Tuesday, today was her real birthday.  Though she had her cake on Sunday, her Daddy bought her a chocolate chip cookie cake for today and we all sang to her one last time for this birthday.  They have taken her to the new Disney movie Moana for her birthday after dinner.

The kitchen is cleaned up, the table linens laundered, the dishwasher run and dishes put away, the broth is cooling enough for me to debone it.  Tomorrow, I will reboil it and can it for later use.  The freezer still has jars of broth that I need to use for making soup, gravy, or to cook rice.  For now, I am just sitting and resting for a bit.

Tomorrow, we will eat turkey leftovers then as a group will go out to dinner on Saturday.

Today we gave thanks.  Hope you had a good day too.


The week is moving on, public schools closing at the end of the day today for Thanksgiving.  Today was granddaughter’s preschool celebration of her Thanksgiving Day birthday.  Tomorrow they have a Thanksgiving feast of vegetable stew that each child contributed a vegetable and all helped prepare, but today was her day.  Last evening, I made 3 dozen mini muffins, lemon and lemon blueberry, her request for their treat.  This morning, I put together little party bags with a top, a couple of glow sticks, and one of those compressed wash cloths that bloom when they are put in water.  She is going to see Moana, the new Disney movie after Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday and I found some of the wash cloths with those characters on them.

At school, beginning a half hour before the end of their day, they have a special celebration for the birthday child.  First, all of the children help color a banner earlier for the birthday child that is hung above the birthday table and is sent home after.  The birthday girl got to sit at this table and select a songs, one for each year for the class to sing.  Then candles are lit and blown out.


One of their rituals is for a wooden sun to be placed in the middle of the floor, the child handed a small wooden globe and the teacher explaining that for each year the earth goes around the sun one time.  The child then walks the globe around the sun the appropriate number of times while the rest of the class sits in a circle around her.



After the trips around the sun, the birthday child walks around the group, either calling their name or gently tapping them to join the train in the middle of the floor.  The birthday child chooses whether to be the engine or the caboose, and granddaughter chose to be the engine.  They have a little song that puts the kids in the cars, they are given a ticket and then they choo choo away.

The train

After all of the rituals, they get their treat and party bag if there is one and everyone goes home.

Last night, while I was babysitting with grandson with a migraine, I stitched the love tag to go in the Christmas stocking for our newest granddaughter.  Today, after the school party, I cut and sewed the lining and hand stitched it into the stocking and sewed in the tag.


This is the first time I have been playful with the lining.  Generally, I use a white pillow case to cut, but this fabric was too cute to pass up.

While the machine was out, I mended a pair of work pants for eldest son.  He and his family will arrive tonight or tomorrow, depending on when he was able to leave work today.  He will try again to hunt a bit, we will put the cull chickens in the freezer, and we will celebrate Thanksgiving together with the huge turkey we picked up from the farm yesterday.

Tonight, I will cook the two sugar pumpkins for making pies for Thanksgiving and later for Christmas dinners.

Yesterday, I volunteered to help out at the historic house during their Holiday celebration the first weekend in December.  There were many jobs available and I let the director decide how to utilize me, I will be spinning in one of the rooms in the house and acting as one of the interpreters.  The theme this year is products that they produced and so their will be honey made food treats, hops, and fiber.  This is their last event of the season and I have enjoyed being a volunteer there a few times this year and look forward to the opportunity to do more next year.  I am debating whether I can get a huge undyed shawl knitted from some of my already spun fiber to cover my shoulders during the holiday celebration.  It would be a nice addition to my costume.


A Delightful Treat

Last night, I was given a delightful treat.  Some years ago, I commented on music that was playing in daughter’s car and ask who was performing.  She introduced me to Straight No Chaser, via CD and YouTube and I was hooked.  Last year, her husband gave her right down in center front tickets to see them in Charlottesville and we kept the grands so they could make a weekend of it.  This was her treat as a gift and they got to go out to dinner, see the concert, spend a night in a hotel, and tour Charlottesville the next day.

They found out the group was going to be in Roanoke, the city where they work, about an hour from here.  It was a Tuesday night concert, but they wanted to take their kids and since next week is granddaughter’s, daughter’s, and my birthdays, they also bought me a ticket.  I picked up the kids from the bus stop and headed over.

I won’t get into the logjam on the interstate due to an accident and the warped route that the GPS sent me to get around it, the fact that it took twice as long as it should to get there.  That was all soon forgotten.



We got in as soon as the doors opened and quickly found our seats.  We were near the center of the second tier of seating with only the handicap row in front of us and the wide aisle.



Waiting for the show.  The seating around us quickly filled and the 2100+ capacity theater was nearly full.

If you aren’t familiar with this group, Straight No Chaser is a professional a cappella group which originated in 1996 at Indiana University comprised of 10 men.  They are awesome.  Check out a YouTube.  Unlike many performers, they recognize that they are where they are because of their audience and they encourage you to video and photograph them and post on line.  They take pictures of the audience and put it on their Facebook page and encourage you to tag yourself.  It was a full 2 hours of lights, music, dancing, and gags.  This is their 20th anniversary tour and I hope they come back, I will go again.



Thank you daughter, son in law, and grands for a great birthday present.  I had so much fun with you last night.


Home again

In the past 10 days, Jim and I drove west to east across the state to meet our newest grand daughter, and I have driven from the southwest part of the state, north and slightly east to spend 5 days helping out at eldest son’s house and then home late yesterday.  The drive north on Monday was stressful as I had to drive Jim’s Xterra with a 22 foot extension ladder strapped to the roof.  The ladder or the straps holding it vibrated and rumbled loudly if my speed was greater than 40 mph and as the entire route is interstate and a 55 mph highway, except for 8 miles on our end and 8 miles on their end, I arrived stressed with a headache until I could chill out for a while.  Yesterday, I helped pick up a clothes dryer in the back of the Xterra and then began my trip home.  The trek back yesterday afternoon was quieter and a pleasant drive until late afternoon when I was headed west with the sun in my eyes.

Because of the solo time with them off at work and grandson at school all day, I got a lot of spinning done and most of the yoke of my sweater done.



This is 400 of the 600 yards of sport weight yarn that was spun.  The last bit is still being plyed and wound.  The Wool was a 6+ ounce of Corriedale with Kid Mohair ball that I bought when at Roan Mountain in the fall.  When I got to Hawk’s Nest a month later, I pulled it out to spin and realized that it was slightly felted, perhaps to over dyeing and was disappointed.  I had bought 4 ounces of similar colored Merino at Hawk’s Nest and a friend suggested that I card them together which I did when I arrived home.  I was still not having much luck spinning it and set it aside.  After I got my new Louet wheel, I pulled it out again, and it spun like a dream, very smooth and even.  The Louet bobbins are so large that getting generous skeins is possible.  I had 375 yards plyed on one bobbin but decided to put it in 200+yard skeins.  The last will be finished tonight all 3 skeins washed and once dry, labelled.  I am pleased with the outcome.

Last December, when my cousin and I were in Norfolk, Virginia, alternately sitting with my failing Dad and walking the huge hospital campus while other family member’s visited, she introduced me to her Fitbit.  I decided that it might provide me with the motivation to renew a fitness routine, so I asked Jim for one for Christmas.  He purchased me one of the current models and for the past 11 months, it has been a great motivator.  In the past couple of weeks, I have noticed that the face was beginning to separate from the band and I mentioned it to my daughter in law as she also has one.  She told me to contact them and that they would send me a new one.  That day, I found their online contact form, took a photo of the damage and sent them a message.  This company, even on a Sunday, was quick to respond with a thanks for the photo and inquiry with a few questions for me.  When I responded that it had been a Christmas gift, purchased just a few days before Christmas and where I resided, they promptly responded with an acknowledgement that it would be replaced and they wanted my preferred size and color.  It turns out, my model is discontinued and the only ones they had were not the color I wanted and much too large so instead they sent me a newer model in the color and size desired and it arrived in less than a week.  This is a company that stands behind their products and were quick to correct the defect at no cost to me.  I now have a sleek new model that fits in the color of my choice.  This one does a lot more than my old one.  They deserve kuddos.

My cold continues to abate, however, I am still coughing, I guess that will continue for a week or so.

It got cold last night.  Our outdoor thermometer registered a low of 25ºf last night.  The farm was thickly coated with frost, the hardy marigolds succumbed to the cold, the two hanging geraniums on the front porch as well.  The herb pots that remained outdoors will be dumped of the remaining soil and on a warm day, washed out and turned against the house side of the deck to overwinter.  The remaining rosemary will be tucked in a sunny protected corner to see if it will survive, if not, there is a cutting rooted in the house to start a new one next year.  There is a variety that will overwinter in the ground here if protected, but I don’t think either of the varieties that I had potted will.  On one of the mild days this week, I will plant the garlic in one of the new garden boxes.  It will be mulched.  Two more boxes will be added this months and there is more cardboard to put between them and plenty of spoiled hay to mulch the aisles.  Winter is coming on.  Early darkness, spinning and knitting evenings with a cup of hot tea at hand.

Hope you had a good weekend.

Still loving life on our farm.

Fading of Autumn

This week has been spent away from home, helping out at eldest son’s house.  He works very long days at a university an hour and a half to two hours away depending on traffic.  Daughter in law is working even father away this week on an art installation of a piece in a commercial building that was commissioned by an artist with whom she works.  I have grandson duty, getting him off to school, supervising homework, guitar practice, evening shower, preparing him breakfast and dinner and seeing him off to bed. His Dad hasn’t seen him since Monday, his Mom since Sunday as she is not even trying to commute this week.  This makes for long solitary days in their rural home, lots of time for spinning, knitting, and a little reading, though the book I brought puts me right to sleep, definitely not one to recommend.

Being on the edge of the Shenandoah Park, I had hoped for some woods walks while here, however, the very first night I awoke feeling like I had been hit by a truck with head congestion and body aches.  Grandson was home from school all day Tuesday due to the election, I dragged my achy body to the grocery for some decongestants and a few groceries, fed him lunch out and came back to rest while he played outdoors with the two kids across the road.  Wednesday was cool and rainy and I didn’t want to be out in it, so I stayed in and continued to rest.  Yesterday I was beginning to feel better and it was a beautiful day, but exertion caused me to cough, so again I mostly stayed in and today is chilly and gray, though I have yet to build a fire in the wood stove.  Tonight is predicted to drop below freezing which will put an end to the plants on the deck.

My garden is long gone for the season, they moved in during the summer and did not have time to put in a garden, but there is a tomato on the deck.

maters mums

It is likely the tomato and mum will both be burned off by morning with another below freezing night predicted Saturday.

As I sit in the living room on the computer or spinning and knitting, I see the nearly barren ridge across the road.  A few evergreens and a few leaves, the color gone for this autumn.



Tomorrow, I will return to our farm, continue to winterize and plant the garlic for next growing season.  We had our first frost the night before I left and I pulled the remaining peppers and plants before I left home.  The cull chickens have another week to fatten, they will be killed and butchered on the 19th and I will be down to my laying flock for the winter.  We are still not getting but an egg or two each day due to molting and the pullets just not mature enough yet to lay.  Hopefully their production will pick up enough for holiday baking and having family in the house for the holidays.  If not, I will buy from a local farmer when I go to pick up our Thanksgiving turkey.  I raise a breed that lays in the winter, though not as prolifically as in summer.

I still have not adjusted to the end of Daylight Savings Time, maybe because of all the time on the road in the past week and the change in schedule here over home.  Maybe by next weekend, my first Holiday Market for the season.  I need to get my stuff organized and decide which displays I plan to take.  I am hoping for a mild, dry day.

I’ll check in again from home.  Have a good day.


On the Road Again

November is a whirlwind of activity.  It started off with the opportunity last weekend to drive across the state and meet our newest granddaughter, just 5 weeks old.  Her Mom and Dad are still in the first year of a rapidly expanding new business, so meeting their schedule and ours has been a challenge.  Friday was her big brother’s 10th birthday and we could not get there for that, but arrived after picking up the grands that live with us and delivering them to their parents where they work, just at quitting time as it was in route and allowed us to get on the road about 2 hours earlier than if we waited for them to get home.  It was a relatively easy drive for the first half, then just about dark, a huge accident happened on the interstate a mile or two ahead of us and we just sat in the dark unable to get off the interstate for about an hour and 20 minutes.  That put us at our hotel at midnight.  We did get a great full day with our son and his family on Saturday and I got lots of grandkids snuggles and plenty of baby love.


She is a beautiful, good baby and very tolerant of being passed around, fortunately. Sunday we drove back across the state to resume duties with the grands at home and for me to leave Monday and drive north up the state, to spend the remainder of the week helping out with the eldest grandson, the 11 year old.

The car trip across the state allowed me to finish the Christmas Stocking.  I actually finished it early last week, but was very unhappy with the size, so I ripped it back to the end of the pattern chart and reknit the foot part closer to the chart and with a reduced heel and toe to make it a more reasonable size.  It needs to be steam blocked, lined and the personal tag stitched and sewn in.  I was also able to cast on the yoke of the Fair Isle sweater that I am knitting for myself from my handspun, hand dyed yarn.  The yoke is about 2/3 done and soon I will just be knitting in the main natural white yarn until I get to the bottom and want to add a bit of the color above the ribbing and at the sleeve cuffs.


Today being election day in the most horrific campaign I remember in my adult life, I am fortunately in a house with no television, with son and daughter in law at work, and since I voted absentee ballot weeks ago due to being 4 1/2 hours from my polling place, I can totally avoid the constant bombardment of the news media today.  The woodstove was lit this morning when the house was cold, and other than a quick trip to the grocery with grandson and a lunch out, I am staying in to knit and spin.  The outcome will be what it may and I can’t change it by watching.  I will find out the result when it is over.



Now back to my wheel, needles, or book with a cup of tea.  Try to have a peaceful day.

Back Again

I have been silent for a while as life took over life, not due to any malady.  The season of fiber retreats is over, getting to do two great weekend get aways in a month, one to Tennessee and one to West Virginia.  At both events, I got to socialize, spin, knit, and vend some of my goodies.  The second retreat was followed by a quick overnight to help out with eldest grandson for an afternoon and evening and the return trip home to take over the routine with the live in grands.  I took very few photos at the retreats, but did get a picture of our cute neighbor in West Virginia and one of a fence lizard that I rescued from indoors.

Raccoon lizard

This week, we welcomed into our family, our sixth grandchild, a beautiful baby girl.  We hope we get to meet her face to face soon.  She is the third child, second daughter for our youngest son and his wife.  What a blessing for them.

More tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos have been harvested and stored away.  Soon the sweet potatoes will be dug, the tomato plants pulled and the garden put to bed for the winter.  We have had rain and more rain, producing some wonderful photos of cloud layers through the gaps and over the mountains.

cloud layers

You can see four ridges in this shot with cloud layers in each valley.

Today, I was granted a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the fiber arts.  It was the first of three weekends in a row of practicing my skills in front of people and getting to talk about fiber, spinning, making yarn, using it to knit or weave.  Today and on the 16th, I was at the Smithfield House in Blacksburg.  I worked in the Weaver’s Cottage, an old slave cabin that was moved from another property and placed where they thought the summer kitchen may have been.  Today was a special event and the blacksmith was demonstrating his craft, there was music, nature walks, food, and plants for sale.  Because I was in the cabin, I didn’t get to see it all, but it was a beautiful day and so much fun.

Cabin2 Cabin1

Cabin3 Cabin4

Set up with one of my handmade baskets in front of the barrier that protects the antique wheels, loom, and other fiber equipment.  The barrier ended up having to be removed as it was wobbly and in danger of crashing down.  In the cottage with me was a weaver that was using the Appalachian Rocker Beater Loom.

Next weekend, I will help our community celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Village’s covered bridge at Bridge Day, and on the 16th, I will return to the Smithfield House.  Maybe I should buy or make myself a period costume for these events.

Finished and Just Beginning

A few days ago, just after Jim finished mowing the south hay field, Granddaughter N came tearing into the room and said, they was something in that field.  I looked out the south windows and saw what looked like a coyote, but it was all black.  With the binoculars, I saw 3 coyotes.  Two were the typical reddish gray that we see, the other was all black and slightly larger.  They were out in the open during daylight hours, not in any hurry exploring the edge of the field.  We often hear them, but rarely see them. Early the next morning, we heard a huge pack yipping and howling.

Yesterday, I finished the last of the fall field mowing, even figured out how to mow the dreaded rock bar without grinding away at the blade on the rocks.  While I was mowing just beyond the orchard, I saw apples dropping, so I went over and shook the little trees and it rained apples.  I tried one for eating, they are cooking apples though.  The eating apples took a hit with the late frost and did not produce fruit this year.  I now have a 5 gallon bucket nearly full of apples that are going to have to be peeled and cooked down to applesauce in the next couple of days.  The Asian Pears need harvesting too, so this week will be dedicated to making Ginger Pear Conserve and Applesauce,  may some Pear Sauce if there are too many just for the conserve.  Another harvest of tomatoes is due too, which means more canning or freezing of them.

We got in our Saturday morning ritual with breakfast out and a trip to the Farmers’ Market.  I turned in my application for the Holiday Markets, bought some good, handmade bagels, salad, eggplant, carrots, beets, and cucumbers.  These are all items I either don’t grown or have quit in my garden for the year.  I also got some pork, and a beautiful bouquet, made especially for me by the talented Gwynn of Stonecrop Farm.


Eldest son and grandson arrived late afternoon for a weekend with us. He is going to help up repair a couple of rotting boards on our back deck if his headache subsides.

I finally finished netting over the cull pen and they got released into the grass and sunshine. B’rooster and Mean girl with the young cockerels. The Buff Orpington cockerel and two you pullets that were in the cull pen, but we’re moved into the hen coop, seem to be holding their own.

Last Day on the Creek

Grandson has been put on the bus moments ago for the last time by me this week.  It is 7:30 a.m. and by this time tomorrow, I will be about a third of the way home, leaving in the early morning hours when son leaves for his commute to work.  Daughter-in-law resumes morning and household chores and getting into the schedule that they will follow for the year.  I will arrive home with just enough time to trade out some items from my suitcase, load up a cooler, my teaching supplies, my vending items, and my fiber toys to leave again for a few days at a fiber arts retreat.  Fortunately, I don’t have to drive those three hours, after having driven 3 1/2 to get home.

Yesterday, I took my own advice and just hung out around the house, enjoying the quiet, but not exactly idle.  I still did some laundry and prepared dinner, but my car never moved from it’s shady spot.



I wrote earlier this week about the burbling creek sounds.  This was taken from the front porch, outside the window where I am sleeping at night.  As you see, the creek is just in front of the house.  It flows downstream from right to left to the 5 port culvert system that serves as the driveway for the three houses.


As fall is approaching with the leaves that will fall, I decided yesterday to make myself useful, putting on my Chacos and wading into the creek to remove the branches and debris that were accumulating in front of the ports.  I know that once the leaves begin to fall, that the branches would catch the floating leaves and quickly block up the flow of the creek, causing the potential for some flooding.  The small branches and some larger ones were tossed up on the deck and them moved to a burn pile away from the creek edge.  The larger log that you see, was totally across the left most port, but was too heavy for me to do more than pivot.  Son says he will take care of it on a non work day. The creek again flows unimpeded through the culverts until the next storm brings down more to block the flow.

After grandson got home yesterday, Ole Mr. Opossum paid a visit.  He hunkered down under the porch for a spell.


He really is a skinny old critter, slow moving, and pretty unperturbed by my photo opportunity.  I still haven’t seen the raccoon family.

Once grandson had showed me his planner, done his afternoon duties, and had dinner, he pulled out his bow and had some target practice.  He developed an interest in archery at camp about three summers ago, and was given a nice bow, case, and arrows for Christmas last year.  He won the certificate for best archer at camp this summer.  I was impressed with his stance and his ability.

The archertarget

He clustered all 6 arrows on three sets of shots.

The morning load of laundry is on the line, my spinning wheel will be packed up shortly and I will spend the day reading and knitting.  Dinner will be prepared by me for one last time this visit and tomorrow morning, this stay will end until I am needed again.