Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sewing lately

I love the changing seasons. In our home I basically have two seasons, outside and inside. And since we're almost into winter (although it may already feel like it outside) it is officially my "inside" season. This is where the sewing happens!
Here's what I've been up to lately...
This one has a little story with it. My great aunt who was an avid quilter gave me bags of her fabric that she could no longer use due to eyesight issues. In it, I found all of these blocks. Already sewn together.
It broke my heart to think that she took the time to piece all of these individual blocks only to never see them in a quilt. I put them together in rows, added a border, had it quilted, bound it, and shipped it off with my parents. They went down to visit her and took the quilt with them. She loved it.

 These are two blocks of the 12 that will be made...(I think I'm somewhere on block 8 or so) for a sew a long on Barbara Brackman's blog. My good friend Michelle and I are sewing them together. It's so fun, each year we sew a quilt together. Last year was Lori Holt's Barn Along, this year is the Threads of Memory quilt, and starting in January we are doing Edyta Sitar's Homestead. Friends are the BEST to quilt with!

This little runner was made for my grandmother for her Thanksgiving table. The turkey pattern was from Lori Holt. I didn't get a finished picture of this runner because my grandmother and I finished the binding on it together when she was here visiting in November. Then she took it home.

This little wall hanging was mostly sewn by Timber Ann. It's a Christmas gift for her Nana. She saw the pattern (from Eleanor Burns) in a quilt shop and wanted to make it. We used fabrics that I already had and she picked the ones she wanted to use. We just got it back from the quilters yesterday so it still needs bound. We've got 5 more days to do it!
I have a few more things in the works right now as well that I don't yet have photos of...
I completed my Fair Isle Quilt top and took it to the quilter's yesterday.
I'm still working on a snowball quilt for our bed.
I'm still working on a new quilt for my grandmother's bed.
I halfheartedly started the Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas sew along on Lori Holt's Instagram.
And there is a very special little quilt that is at the quilter's in Montana right now that I won't be able to share for a few more months...the mama of the recipient reads this blog. That wouldn't be much of  a surprise, now would it?
I'll update with more pictures when I can.
What have you been sewing?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

one year

We just passed our 1 year anniversary living on our off grid property. Where has the time gone? The Lord is constantly reminding me that my days have been numbered and that I should not allow the time to slip through my fingers.

The kids working on their 4-H Bucket Calf project

We dealt with water issues this summer. Both of our hand dug wells went dry at the end of June. But the Lord provided! Oh, how He provided! We have a creek on our property....way down at the bottom of it. Before we had moved I had watched the Wranglerstar video on ram pumps and had tucked that little bit of knowledge into the back of my mind. And in May, I showed the video to my husband, not fully knowing that we were going to actually need to use the information held in it.

Building our third ram pump. (They got smaller as the creek went down.)

I was out of town with the little ones visiting my grandparents when the wells went dry. My husband and our oldest son went to work on building our first ram pump. Not only did they build one, but they had it up and running, pumping water, before we even got home from the visit!

At this point, it's not as sustainable as we'd like. Because of the distance from the creek (and the elevation change) the ram pump is pumping into a holding tank about halfway between the creek and our home. A submersible pump is them pumping from that tank up to our holding tank above the house.

Knowing that the submersible pump is not going to work if we couldn't access fuel, we are hoping to resolve our water issues this winter with a sustainable alternative, or two.

Our water issues were temporarily solved but I was sure that the creek would dry up by late summer. Our rain/snow fall last winter surely couldn't be enough to keep that creek going. I prayed. We'd have to haul water up here if the creek dried up. But the Lord is good isn't He?? Even when things don't look good, He is good. And I am thankful for His faithfulness.

I'm eager to add more animals to this homestead but as my husband reminds me...if we barely have enough water for us, how are we to water more animals as well? And he is right. And so, I'm patient. I'm patiently waiting for the Lord to give us the direction that we need to take for a sustainable water supply. I know He will.

We were able to add one small animal to the homestead this summer though and that was Thomas. My daughter is in love. We all enjoy the kitten but he is especially HER baby. We have a horrible problem with mice and rats here and Thomas is still young but he's caught one small rat already (that I know of) and I am thankful for that!

Kitties sleep in the most interesting positions.

Our garden did amazing this year. Amazing! For what we had to start with I was sure that if a single green bean grew I would be thankful. I didn't hold out much hope. But again, I prayed. "Lord, this is your garden, not mine. You are the One that makes all things grow, I'm just a tender of it. If it be Your will, make this garden bountiful." And it was. Faithfulness. Again.

Mini watermelon
Garden 2014
Helping can green beans

Early on in moving here we realized that while we had a few neighbors that we liked there were no like minded families up on this mountain. I prayed that the Lord would bring up a family. There are quite a few pieces of property for sale up here. I can currently think of 3 or 4 just off the top of my head.  I wrote my prayers down in my journal, praying that it would come to pass. And it did. He brought up a Christian, homeschool family of 9 that bought the place for sale that borders ours! Of all the places up here they could have moved (and they really MOVED, from southern California to the mountains of northern California - from beeches to backwoods!) the Lord planted them right next door. I can walk to their house! Faithfulness. Again and again.

And so I'm encouraged to pray even more! Lord, one family a year, that's what we're going to ask for. One like minded family a year. And not only will He be hearing that prayer from us but also from our neighbors too! We're praying for a Christian agrarian revival on this mountain!
Wanna move? :)

Layton has proven himself quite the dedicated fisherman. While the rest of us are enjoying the river swimming in it or from it's banks, he is out in it, up a ways from us, waist deep, right by a riffle casting in his line. The entire time. Catching little ones and the occasional keeper like this one...

The big one!

He has the natural talent from his father. And if he keeps at it, which I'm sure he will, one of these days he'll be as good a fisherman as his daddy is too. In fishing am thankful for the lesson he receives from taking the time to do a job right, learning that the reward comes to those that are willing to stick it out and work hard. He is learning that success isn't always instant and that patience is a virtue.
Treadle sewing.

As for quilting (which is primarily what this blog was to be about, even though it's often not) I haven't had much time this summer to sew. As usual. I was able to finish up a few things this late spring and I'm already planning my quilts for this winter. This one, this one, and this one are on my list. I was happy about finishing up a civil war sampler (below) that my mother in law and I began over 5 years ago. How nice it was to get it quilted by Kathy and put the binding on it! It is serving as a second quilt on our bed already this fall season.

Butternut and Blue Quilt

I could go on and on it seems like but you've probably had enough as it is. Hopefully it won't be so long before I can post again. We'll see how it goes!

Until next time friends, blessings to you!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Why I Am Not A Prepper

The prepper movement is growing. And it has been for a while now.  The reasons behind it often seem quite valid to me. Whether it's a natural disaster, another great depression on the horizon, or the complete failure of the power grid. Those are all great reasons to "be prepared". But how you go about your preparedness is often where my similarity with the movement ends.
I was reading a blog post the other day about "the 7 foods you shouldn't stock up on" and it got me thinking.
If you're a prepper and you're simply saying, "For the next natural disaster, I am going to be prepared!" then more power to you! Way to plan! While everyone else is getting into fist fights down at the grocery store for the last can of tuna, you'll be home, knowing that you've got enough food and supplies to comfortably get you through the next few weeks (or months!) of turmoil.

What happens though when the food runs out? "But I have 3 years worth of food stored up!" you say. All right, what then after 3 years? What if we're living beyond just a natural disaster? What if life as we know it now ceased to exist? Having bunkers filled to the brim of food and supplies works well...for as long as that holds out.

I guess in a way, I am a prepper. But I'm a different kind. Instead of stocking up on things I want to know how to do things. I want to be prepared to feed my family off what comes from the homestead. Meat, milk, greens, fruits, and even grains. I want to be prepared to save seeds. I want to be prepared to breed and raise animals. I want to know how to feed our animals when the feed store isn't available. I want to know how to sew clothing. I want to know how to make soap, to care for our dental and medical needs, to do things without the use of electricity, propane, solar panels, wind turbines, or fuel. I want to be prepared with sanitation, with a clean water source, with a sustainable heat supply for our home in the winter. ...
I want to be prepared for if and when life does a 180 and we go back to the life people have known for thousands of years. That's my preparation.
I want to pray that the Lord would have mercy on my family and that He would bless our land, our animals, our efforts. For without Him, our lives would be nothing. He has given me a mind to learn and apply skills, but ultimately the success of our family comes from the Lord, as does the sun, rain, and everything that grows. I want to be obedient to His word and His leading. For our sufficiency is not of ourselves, but of the Lord.
Have these thoughts ever crossed your mind?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Planting an herb garden

Before we moved I had planted herbs here and there around our old property. They were somewhat scattered and few. Some Chamomile here, some Comfrey there, a dinner buffet of Echinacea for the slugs, some Lemon Balm, Calendula, and Sweet Leaf. That was mostly the extent of it.
Plus we had the Raspberry leaves off our plants and the Plantain and Dandelion that grew wild in our yard.
Since my husband decided to build a temporary garden spot for me to use this summer (I wasn't planning on even gardening at all this summer) and then started terracing some of the area, I began to think more and more about actually having an herbal garden.
Some of the starts, and seeds that are making their way into our herb garden this spring are:
Sweet Leaf (above)
Yarrow (above)
Lemon Balm
Anise Hyssop
Echinacea (above)
Chamomile (above)
St. John's Wort
Valerian (above)
Trees being planted:
Chaste Tree
Herbs that were natively (for the most part) already here:
Oregon Grape (above)
While most of this is going directly into the herb garden, I am also planting some around the property to hopefully encourage wild growth.
I'll be planting some elderberry trees, St John's wort, and nettle down by the creek. I've already seeded some chamomile around the hills.
I tried to think about where I have seen these plants growing wild, what type of conditions they were thriving in and then plant them in similar situations.
I'm excited to see how these plants do here. Success or failure. I'll let you now how it turns out.
What herbs do you have planted around your place?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Spring Treat~ Dandelion Cookies

It's spring and the dandelions are popping up everywhere! Timber Ann and I found this recipe last week. And she couldn't wait to make them.
So we did.
The recipe comes from here.
The first thing you'll need is some dandelions. Pick them from your yard or anyplace you find them, with the exception of the roadside. (Plants easily soak up the toxins put out by vehicles and who wants to consume that? Not to mention, if your county sprays the roadsides, you surely wouldn't want that either.)
You're going to need a little more than a 1/2c full. Maybe about 20 -30 dandelions depending on their size.
Take your dandelions and remove any stems.
Then separate the yellow petals from the green base of the flower. All of  the green parts of the plant are bitter, but the petals are not. And "bitter" isn't really something we're going for in our cookies.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, combine:
1/2 c sunflower oil (or the oil of your choosing) you can also use butter
1/2 c honey or sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Mix well.
Then add:
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c oats
1/2 c fresh picked dandelion flowers
Spoon cookie dough into a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for apx.12 minutes. You can keep an eye on them and when the edges start to brown, they are done.
Allow to cool and enjoy!
Oh, and let your kids lick the bowl and spoons too. It's more fun that way.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale):
Parts Used: Leaves, roots, and flowers
Benefits: Dandelion is, I'm convinced, one of the great tonic herbs of all times. The entire plant is restorative and rejuvenating. The root is a prized digestive bitter. It is particularly stimulating to the liver, inducing the flow of bile and cleaning the hepatic system. Dandelion root is also considered one of the safest and most effective diuretics. It tones the kidneys and aids in proper water elimination while maintaining proper potassium levels. The jagged leaves are high in vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamins A and C, and the flowers make a delicious wine.
~Rosemary Gladstar from "Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health"

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Hand Quilting Finish

I finished this little quilt last week.
Once I really got going on quilting this, it actually went faster than I thought it would.
Choosing what designs to use took a little longer.
I'm fairly happy with how it turned out, being my first hand quilting project and all.
 Timber has this hanging on the wall next to her bed.
I'm certainly sold on hand quilting for little quilts, I'm not quite sure that I'm ready to give up the long-arm machine though for big ones!
Have you ever hand quilted a large quilt? What was your experience?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Elderberry Tincture ~ Your Questions

Bobbi posed a great question on my last blog post...
"what would you use the elderberry tincture for and how exactly would you use it?"
Well, thanks for asking Bobbi. Here we go...
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra, S. canadensis)
is a flowering shrub/tree that grows throughout Europe and N. America.
You want to use the varieties that produce blue berries. (Some are more on the black side- just not the red variety as the berries are toxic.)
What can you do with elderberry?
-You can pick the white flowered clusters and fry them as flower fritters or make a tea or tincture from them.
-You can pick the berries and turn them into syrup for pancakes, jams, and jellies.
-You can eat the berries fresh, but I wouldn't recommend eating bunch of them that way.
-You can make tinctures and cough syrups with the berries.
-You can dry the berries for future use.
To say what Elderberry is good for is to write a chapter of a book! It is commonly used for the respiratory tract, the digestive tract, the kidneys, the female system, the pores of the skin, fevers, ulcers, wounds....

Regarding the doctrine of signatures with Elder, Matthew Wood has this to say:
"The hollow tubes of the young branches not only point to the use of this plant in journeying, but show affinities with the tubes of the body, especially the blood vessels and pores of the skin and membranes. Elder has a powerful influence on the blood, to remove stagnation found in bruises and boils. It also decongests heat and stirs up the blood in the interior, bringing it to the surface to remove heat and toxins.....Elder has a deep action on other tubular structures of the body, including the respiratory tract, digestive organs, and pores of the skin. It is an ancient remedy for opening the lungs and bringing up mucus."
As far as usage, the dosage depends on who you talk to. Different herbalist have different recommendations. I tend to use anywhere from a few drops to a half a dropperful in water. It all depends on the tincture and what you're taking it for.
The idea of "if a little is good, more is better" is not the best thought process when it comes to herbs.
 If you're interested in learning more about the plants that God has provided here for us as medicine, I'd strongly suggest picking up a few herb books at your library or on Amazon, utilizing sites like,,,, or finding an herbalist in your area that can help.
Tricia also asked where I got my dried elderberries from?
Up until now I have purchased them from Mountain Rose Herbs. But this past fall I finally invested in an Elderberry tree from here. And this spring, invested in another one from here. This one is on my list, but the sale is prohibited to California. (Dont'cha just LOVE the government??!!)
Hopefully the purchasing of dried berries is now in my past!
You can wildcraft them. I haven't found any locally here but have seen them up at higher elevations, deep into the mountains near streams. 
I hope I answered your questions as well as you'd hoped and that the information is useful!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tincturing Herbs

Tincturing herbs is so incredibly simple that it hardly needs a post all it's own.
Yet I continue to see all those little bottles at the health food store on the shelves with a price tag on them in upwards of $15 for two little ounces.
"People must just not know" I tell myself.
You can tincture your own herbs at home for much less than the price you'd pay at the store. Especially if you grow, or wildcraft your own.
But even if you don't, you can always buy your herbs from an herb store such as Mountain Rose Herbs or the Bulk Herb Store.
So, you've got your herbs. Now all you need is some vodka and a glass jar with a lid. That's it. Really.
Here I am making Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) tincture.
My supplies?
Dried elderberries
vodka (any will do)
a 4oz mason jar with lid
Fill your jar 1/2 way with dried elderberries and pour in vodka to the top. Place the lid on the jar and give it a good shake.

Allow the herb to sit in the vodka for a minimum of two weeks, four is better, shaking every few days.
After that time, strain it out, squeezing out all the extra tincture, and pour into dropper bottles. I get mine from here.
Add the leftover herb to your compost bin.
Label and date the bottle so you remember what's inside and when it was made. The self life of tinctures is quite long. Up to 5 years!
You can tincture any herb. If you're using fresh herbs, allow them to wilt a day or so before adding them into your jar to remove extra water.
If you're just getting started with herbs and want to learn more may I suggest two great resources? is always helpful for reference and information. They even have tutorials!
And my all time favorite herb book (so far as I haven't read them ALL) is Matthew Wood's Book of Herbal Wisdom.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Starting Over

Starting something from scratch is one thing. But starting things completely over seems to be another.


The good Lord and my husband saw fit to move us to the most beautiful mountains. And I was so excited to come. So excited for the new adventure, the new life that lay ahead. I didn't even pause to think of what was being left behind.
No more would we have the wonderful chicken coop and run my husband had built. No more bountiful gardens. No more fruit trees. No more greenhouse. No more pig barn. No fences, no easy water supply, no easily tilled ground.
This is starting over. This is hard work. This is leaving all of the former behind in the hopes and prayers of a new life, apart from the world (yet still in it).
This is starting everything over again but doing it in a more deliberate way now. A more conscience way.
 So, the temporary location of a garden is chosen. Rock handwork is started.

Firewood is spilt and stored up for next winter. 8 cords and counting...

 The chickens live in a temporary coop.
 And don't really seem to mind it all that much.

 Seeds are started and the hopes of providing more than just food for my family has come to be.
And from the depths of my heart comes thankfulness, peace, and a blessed assurance that this is the place He wants us to be.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Handmade Herbal Cream

It's a long story on how this cream recipe came into my use but let's just say that I have it, in 2 different books, so that it will never be lost. The first one is, "Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts". The second is Rosemary Gladstar's, "Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health".
The recipe is that of Rosemary's and my, oh, my folks. This recipe is a keeper. I only changed one thing in the recipe.
This cream is wonderful, non-greasy and so easy to make. Not to mention all of the goodness it has in it. Toss that yucky bottle of "chemical this" and "who could pronounce that?" that is in your cupboard and set aside an hour of your day to put a batch of this together.

Here's what you'll need:
First we'll start with some calendula. Fresh if you have it, but dried will work too.
Steep a small handful of calendula in 1 cup of water. (Bring the cup of water to a boil, turn off heat, add calendula, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.)
The former is where I deviated from the recipe. The original calls for rose water. But it's early April here and I have no roses on any bushes as of yet to make my own.   So, a calendula infusion is what I used instead.
Calendula ~ Calendula officinalis: "This sunny little flower brightens most gardens. It is a powerful vulnerary, healing the body by promoting cell repair, and acts as an antiseptic, keeping infection from occurring in injuries." - Rosemary Gladstar

Next you'll need:
3/4 c Sweet Almond Oil
1/3 c Coconut Oil
1/3 c Aloe Vera gel
1/4 tsp. Lanolin
5-10 drops Vitamin E oil
 1/2 oz Beeswax
1-2 drops of an essential oil of your choosing
2/3 c calendula infusion (from above) or 2/3 c rose water
In a double broiler, melt beeswax. Add coconut, sweet almond and lanolin. Melt together and then remove from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature. The mixture will become thick and cream colored. You can hasten this process by putting it in the fridge for a few minutes.
In a cup, mix together calendula infusion, aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil, and essential oil.

Rosemary's directions were to use a blender but I don't have one. So I used my immersion blender instead. (I actually think this would make for easier clean up too.)
If you've ever made homemade mayonnaise then this process is essentially the same.
Take your cooled, creamy oil mixture and pour into a quart sized mason jar. Using your immersion blender on the highest setting, start mixing while slowly drizzling the liquid mixture into the oils.
Continue to mix all liquid in until the cream looks thick and white.
Pour into jars and store in cool location. The cream will thicken as it sets.

The finished result? Two 8oz jars of the most wonderful cream you've ever used!
I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

On the Pantry Shelves ~ A Quilt

I don't think that I ever got around to sharing this finished quilt!
My friend, Christa, from Cotton Berry Quilts quilted it for me and did such a great job on it. I wish I could take a picture of every single jar to share.
Here are a few pictures though...they will have to do.
{This is hanging in our bedroom}

I am so happy to have this quilt bound and hanging up.
Thanks Christa, for such a great job. I love this quilt!
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