Maypril June

Welcome to the Cat Days of Summer. As opposed to the Dog Days, although in looking up what the Dog Days meant, I realized they technically began on Saturday. The hottest, most lethargic days of summer. Indeed, the summer haze is out in full force and I was rather regretting that my morning run began at 9 this morning instead of 6:30. Whew! But while our cats enjoy a good coze, they also seem to have their moments of frenetic activity, and that seems to sum up the summer so far. On the other hand, you’d think there would be a break from winding up an academic year, but in between lazy afternoons or evenings at the pool, we’ve been catching up on all the routine appointments we don’t usually do during the school year (hello, well-child checkups and the mid-year dental appointments!). We’ve already hosted two cookouts and have one more on the schedule, plus much-anticipated extended family visits, Vacation Bible School is back, and this means July is already crowded on the calendar. It is a welcome change from last year!

But it doesn’t feel like the Dog Days. So, it’s the Cat Days. Plus, it was fun to use those photos, taken on the same day within ten minutes of each other. Oscar was on one of the boys’ beds and Bilbo was curled up in the laundry room, inside the basket of (clean, matched) socks.

Never at rest for long….

Pippka is now four months old and received her sacrament of Baptism in April. She received it the day before Posey Pie’s First Communion, just as eight years before, Posey Pie herself was baptized the day before Rascal’s First Holy Communion. We like to do sacraments in bulk around here. Pippka was the perfect baby throughout the ceremony, wearing the traditional gown that has now seen about 21 christenings, and Posey was a beautiful First Communicant in the dress her paternal grandmother made for Princess’ First Communion five years before.

We’ve had two birthdays since the last post, both with their own personal flair. I was able to make Li’l Bit’s birthday dress (“Sintra,” from Little Lizard King) in my new sewing room (more on that later), and while I still need to sit down and get a few more dresses made for the little girls, Dibbun definitely preferred the ornate princess dress I found from the Little Adventures princess costume line. Li’l Bit also received her first official pair of cowgirl boots (not pictured) and she wears them everywhere, to church and store and home again. Rascal made her sawhorse horse that she named “Yankee Doodle.” Dibbun paraded everyone in the house with her light-up bubble wand and reigned regally over her day. No two birthdays in this house are alike but they sure are a delight.

Around the Farm:

Li’l Bit with (from L to R) Hattie, Lottie, Mattie, and Lou.

Harriet, Matilda, Charlotte, and Louisa arrived on May 15. They are Finnrace sheep from a farm in Northern Virginia, and they handled the long trip here just fine. For short, they are “Hattie, Mattie, Lottie, and Lou.” I got “Hattie, Mattie, and Lou” from the sheep in “Sarah, Plain and Tall.” Charlotte was tacked on because I just assumed it fit. When Haus Meister informed me that sheep can live as long as 18 years, I declared at that moment that *I* would be in charge of naming these new pets because I was NOT going to live 18 years with a sheep named “Sparklepoof,” (“Or Flufflebutt,” a son chimes in), and if you don’t think my girls would try that, just consider the names given to the chickens over the years. “Polka Dot Sunshine Sleeping Beauty Princess” takes the cake, but this year’s batch of 11 already includes “Mithrandella,” “Obsidian Falcon,” and “Caramel Latte.” I admit I did name one of the new Ameraucanas “Calico,” because like the cat of the same name, she’s all the colors, but I digress.

Lou is everyone’s favorite sheep. She is the absolute friendliest and will greet me even if she sees me puttering about my container garden on the deck (part of which looks down into the barnyard). She is Lottie’s twin sister. Lottie is also friendly–they all are–but Lou wins the prize for friendliest. Lou is also the mischief maker. We had to upgrade our feed bins because she found out how to kick the buckets open. Hattie and Mattie are half-siblings, as they have the same sire. Hattie is the dark one and Mattie is the one shown in the teaser photo in the previous blogpost. She has polka dots on her ears and legs and also those interesting rings around her eyes. The fiber artist in me cannot wait for shearing next Spring. Their wool is so interesting and variegated!

I’m also glad to report that the sheep (now that Lou can’t kick the chicken scratch bucket open) are finally getting the point that they are here to eat the kudzu and creeper vines, and they are beginning to make a start on the ever present threat of invasion. It may take a while, but it is still a start! 😉

As also stated, 11 out of 12 chicks are reaching adulthood. They still sleep in a separate area from the big chickens but during the day they can roam about freely in the barnyard with the whole menagerie. We lost one chick and one duck, and are not sure why about the chick but the duck became lame. I suppose we didn’t quite realize how top heavy Pekins are compared to the magpies we used to own, and the barnyard is hilly. One duck must have stumbled wrong or fallen off the ramp into the yard or something but no matter, it was sadly never able to walk again. Two others also had leg issues at first. One made a complete recovery and the other manages to almost literally hop on one foot but still gets around. We call that one “Hoppy Duck,” but no other duck has been named because we really can barely tell them apart.

Restoring Misselthwaite

It began with a new bed. One new bed moved into one room meant an old bed became repurposed in another room. Fabric that had been stored in drawers beneath the old bed needed a new place to exist until sewing days could take place. Enter what I used to think of as “The Ugly Duckling Room.” Honestly, it’s an odd room in an odd shape in the middle of the basement with three less windows than the boiler/electric/air conditioner room behind it, and until April it was really a dump station for things unless we had enough company to fill two bedrooms. As we didn’t have company that often in 2020, it exacerbated the problem. Somehow as we moved beds around, and sisters played “musical rooms,” and closets were aired and the rooms began to take on a whole new look than they had three years ago when we arrived and first arranged furniture, the thought came to me “Sewing Room!” And after all, why not?! I took a gloomy afternoon and rearranged things in that Ugly Duckling room. I dusted and vacuumed, hung pictures and placed books. The next week, I gave it a trial run and made a dress for Lil Bit’s 7th Birthday. It was so ideal! Three weeks later, I found a quilt cover for the bed that I liked better than the old set, and now there’s a pleasant spot for me to sew as well as a quiet room appointed for guests when needed. No more dump station! My cup overflows.

Victory on a Monday morning

Yesterday after Mass I came downstairs to take the trash out through the garage and heard my washing machine dinging.  You don’t want to know how many times auto-correct wanted to switch that to “singing.”  I do happen to have a lovely blue pair of laundry appliances that the Japanese manufacturing company decided should sweetly ding and play happy tunes for me while doing the job we do together four times a day. 

But yesterday the ding was for the “nd” error which meant the machine was not draining.  Greeeaaaat. 

So down on the floor I go to drain out the filter, the thinggummy, and the whatchamacallit. I did everything the troubleshooting guide suggested, and the machine seemed to work again.

Until the “nd” reappeared. Lather, rinse, repeat and repeat and repeat… Off and on all day. In denial about calling in a repair man, I closed up the laundry room at dusk and promised myself I’d tackle it in the morning.

So I did. This time I had a flashlight in hand and saw something far in the back of the filter. I’d already retrieved a button, hairband, and a flat plastic something. I took a long screwdriver and poked back there, which caused a minor deluge. The second time I did this, the machine cycle ended with a happy song, and not an error ding. Whereupon I reopened the filter bar and found this:

It’s a little felt guy from the little girls’ seasonal felt board pieces. I may just be banning these from the Haus, or at least from the washer. 

On the plus side, my washer is completely operational again, and I didn’t have to call in a repairman! Time to go get the next load now. Signing off.

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real — End of March edition


Thank goodness for Thursdays. You might never hear from me otherwise!

Of course there’s plenty of excuses for not blogging, but the main one is that we’re still holding down the fort as Haus Meister pulls 60-70 hr work weeks, and sometimes just going to bed twenty minutes after the kids do is the best option. Oh, and then there’s the stomach bug that hit last week and proceeded to make its way through the family. Fortunately it did not hit everyone with the same intensity. Four children had it worse, one boy had it less, Haus Meister and I suffered slightly, and Miss M and Posey missed it entirely. Whew.

One wonderful thing to come from this week is a new family prayer tradition, but that deserves its own blogpost so I will make time to do that this weekend.



photo 4

On Tuesday we had snow. Yes, snow. It didn’t stick of course. It came down sometimes in gusts and sometimes like flurries and meanwhile I stood looking at my daffodils bending in the breeze and wondered just what month it is again? 😉 I had already removed my pots of blueberry bushes and the lavender plant to shelter from the frosts of the past three nights. This is most likely Winter’s Last Hurrah down here, but Sunshine at least is still enjoying it. In the picture we are leaving speech therapy (she and Trooper go on the same day–she has an expressive language delay that is rapidly improving, especially based on her charming rendition of “Hot Tross Buns”), and while Trooper had already hopped into the van (he does not like snow), Sunshine wanted to stand and revel in it.


photo 1

Happy girlies in the morning. I draw your attention away from their lovely smiles and the cheerio mess behind them and toward the doll in Miss M’s arms. That doll and I go way back; she was a Christmas gift from my aunt and uncle on Christmas Eve, 1986. She was a “preemie” edition Cabbage Patch doll, which was appropriate since nearly six years before I had been the preemie of the family. Her name on the Cabbage Patch papers was Ella Giselle but I had it “legally” changed at Cabbage Patch HQ to “Melissa Anne,” thinking it was more elegant and less like the elderly Avon lady who visited my mom often, whose name also was Ella. Bless her. Anyway, “Melissa” was my favorite doll all through childhood and was the nostalgia item I took with me to college after graduation. And of course after I married she came down South and waited five years for the first girl to show up. Sporadically loved by both Princess and Sunshine–and patched up when the latter discovered scissors and wanted to see what the doll’s stuffing was like–“Melissa” has now found a loving mommy again in Miss M. Only now she isn’t called “Melissa,” but has the very original new name of “Dolly.”

So once again Dolly goes everywhere with her new mommy (even moreso, I think, than she did with me) and has many adventures. Like hiding in the tupperware drawer.

photo 2


I feel guilty that most of the pictures on the blog lately are of the younger set of kids. This has nothing to do with favoritism or anything like that, but more because the older set don’t stick around when I’m taking pictures. But last night I took one of Trooper being silly.


Oh yes, it’s haircut time.


My sister and I aren’t exactly alike in everything but often we have similar ideas. This year we beat off the winter doldrums (more necessary in her case with three months of non-stop snow) by planning ways to make our homes sparkle without harsh chemicals.  My older kids are helping with the chores more so I wanted to have something I could trust in their hands. And making citrus-all-purpose-vinegar cleaner is kind of spring like and nice smelling (when you get past the vinegar). Funnily, we each began ours at the same time without knowing it. Recipe found here. While this is great, my other go-to is a 1:1 mix of water and white vinegar with a few drops of Mrs. Meyer’s Lemon Verbena dish soap. But back to the citrus thing now.


photo 3


lemon vinegar

Then there’s the five gallons of laundry detergent I whipped up in my kitchen and the jars of homemade dishwasher soap.  Those are working pretty well so far, although I get the occasional cloudy glass still. I have seen little difference between the store bought laundry detergent and the one made here–except mine smells nicer. 😉 My sister and I are also brainstorming ideas for our Etsy store this spring and comparing orders and label ideas. She’s making lip glosses and moisturizers, I’m making salves. Or at least I will, once the MountainRose Herbs order arrives. 😉 I’m pretty sure our dad thinks we’ve jumped off some neo-hippie deep end, but it’s been a fun way to spend the cold end of winter.

Reaping the non-harvest

Behold our garden produce from our 2013 plot!


Yep, that’s the lot. Those are supposed to be Roma tomatoes, by the way. They’re the size of cherry tomatoes.  Ah well. Even the seasoned farmers are losing garden ground to the soggy summer we’ve had.

“Just plan to plant for Fall now,” someone advised us.

Whereupon I looked at him blankly and thought to myself…. Dang, at our current rate of success couldn’t we just put something in the ground that will come up in the SPRING?!

{pretty, happy, funny, real}



Silly Miss M.


We’re nuts about those curls!


It’s official. Our dining table is too small. So, we’re hoping that if we can get the Old Haus back on the market within the next month or two, it will sell fast — or heck, sell period!– and then with that off the books we can finally tear up the white carpet in the upstairs living room and put in wood floors and  a beautiful all-purpose 12′ table. We’ve had this project planned for a while– that Haus Meister is going to build out the table of cherry wood we received from his boss after a cherry tree fell on his property.

But every plan has to begin somewhere, and so last weekend two of the boys accompanied Haus Meister to a local sawmill, where the massive logs became slabs of wood that will become a table to be remembered. Meanwhile, the boys remember the hollowed-out log on the property.


And all too soon, our visitors returned to the frozen North this past weekend. My mom drove south to fetch my sister and nieces, and while Winter Storm Virgil’s imminent approach to their home cancelled plans to stay a few days, Mom did get to enjoy reading to nearly all of her grandchildren at the same time.


You just can’t see her under all those kids. 😉


Trooper learns to use the phone’s camera.





Miss M likes to come sit next to me any time she catches me sitting down with Posey Pie. Someone suggested that Miss M was jealous of her sister, but I’ve found it to be otherwise.

She’s not jealous of her baby sister, rather, she’s jealous for her sister.


I think that Miss M is convinced that ‘Baby’ is a real live doll we’ve provided for her to love, and so if I’m sitting with the baby it is Miss M’s cue to come over and give hugs and kisses galore.

And in the postpartum department of mommyhood…

DINOSAUR: So, Mama, there’s no more babies in your tummy?

ME: Nope. No babies there right now. We just had ours!

DINOSAUR: So your belly is getting back to normal!

RASCAL (chiming in) Well, it sure doesn’t look like it!

ME: Thanks, son.


Week Recap

The week ahead promises to be chock-full of its own amazing news so I want to put up some pictures before things start rolling around here. We’ve been thrown off as usual by the “spring forward” of Daylight Savings Time (my annual groan) and with Posy Pea’s arrival imminent we decided to take Spring Break this week instead of next. This morning we had the unprecedented experience of two night owls as Miss M and Sunshine decided to be bright eyed and bushy tailed from 3am-present (well, except for Miss M, who crashed around 6:45), and as I struggle to keep the eyes open I realize our Spring Break decision was probably amongst the wisest academic decisions I made this year. 😉

So without further eloquence…


My foyer shelf, all decked out for March and April. Gardening ….


…and Spring Cleaning are on the mind.


Getting out on the “last” cold weekend before Easter (the previous weekend).  Haus Meister took the big kids back to the lake for another nature walk (and yes they did return with another driftwood piece).


Two boys lost a tooth this week, one of them for the very first time!


An aunt and cousins came to visit and stay with us for a few weeks while we wait for Posy Pea and welcome her home! The children are loving the captive audience of their 5month old littlest cousin.


Reading assignments are less of a chore with such a smiling face next to you!


The oven fix mentioned a few posts ago worked for the door for all of three uses (not Haus Meister’s fault), but the error code soon returned and was replaced by another, indicating that we’d need to replace the entire control panel for the oven. As the door was still crooked, the temperature sensor still faulty, and now that, we decided just to replace the oven. What joy! What rapture!


Over the past weekend the weather warmed up, and so what did the corgyn do? They decided to stay glued to an inside wall. I question their intelligence.

When Miss M and Sunshine, in complete juxtaposition to their actions this morning, granted me a free hour on Friday afternoon by napping after school–both of them, at the same time–I decided to bring out my sewing machine. Almost eighteen months ago I packed up the machine because it kept tangling the thread on me as I tried to make some homemade gift bags during an Advent season. I had a pile of mending to do and figured I would at least see if I needed the machine serviced. To my surprise, the machine behaved itself and I was able to knock several mending projects off my to-do list. What a relief–I love to sew, but mending is my bane. How ironic is that? I also found a pair of cotton nightgowns at the bottom of my mending pile that needed to be scrapped. I upcycled the lower parts of them into petticoats/slips for my daughter and niece.


The girls were quite excited and wore the petticoats over their skirts the rest of the day.


With the balmy Spring air coming in from the deck door, the sunshine softly lighting the room, the recliner beckoning for impatient children to rest in while I “sew them up something,” and the corgi chewing on something or other down there, I become more and more convinced that I appropriated the best room in the house for my sewing nook. It’s not going to turn into a dining room again anytime soon.

{pretty, happy, funny, real}


During the week I did finish the Master Bedroom Challenge. The only “hotspot” left is part of the top of Haus Meister’s dresser, but he was out of town on business and there was mail waiting for him that I didn’t want to risk being turned into scrap coloring pages or paper airplanes if left in the usual unlocked areas. Yes, we lock our bedroom during the day. Why? See indelible marks left on walls. I’m getting blue paint for my birthday in January! Huzzah! Other rooms need attention before then. Also, there has to be some room in the house where one can keep the breakable objects, right? So, it’s our room.

The icon on my bookcase (Haus Meister made me that bookcase, incidentally) is supposed to be on the wall with the other two, and will again when we get the back hook fixed.

Quilts make great slipcovers, don’t you think? The chair came from his late grandmother’s estate and the quilt covering it was made by my (happily still living) grandmother. His late grandmother made the quilt that covers the wine rack as a baby blanket for Haus Meister 32 years ago. We have the backing showing because it needs repairs, and there’s no wine or wine glasses on the rack. It was probably the most impractical anniversary gift we gave each other. But at the time we only had Trooper and found out the day he bought the wine for the rack that Jacob was expected. Now it has a new life as a side table in our room.

I know I’ve blogged the top of my dresser before–probably the very first {P,h,f,r} in which I participated. Unfortunately this is probably the cleanest it has been in a long while.

Thanks for the challenge!


Earlier this month we realized it had been a year since these critters came into our house.

Pippin and Merry. Shy, sweet little puppies. You could already tell that Pip is the energetic one and Merry is the snuggle puppy.

One year out, it’s hard to get them to stay together for a picture, unless it looks like this:

Merry is the *ahem* stout one on the left. Pip is on the right. If I try to get a picture of them outside, they run over and mob me and won’t stop jumping. They don’t sit on the couch together too often, preferring to hog choice corners or in an individual chair. They are typical brothers, competing for attention and in Merry’s case, the first bite of everything. But we love our crazy hobbit dogs.


The LEGO catalogs are being devoured over here in preparation for the annual Christmas wish list. Rascal especially liked this fellow.

However, as the project is a little too ambitious/expensive/involved for him right now, I encouraged him to look at other LEGO sets. However, he was determined to build this so he had me download the instructions and he began to build it from our own pieces. About 15 steps in he realized the enormity of the task he had undertaken and decided to curtail it.

Rascal’s Mini R2.

His dad designs robots for a living. Daily I am reminded that this son is practically his father’s clone.


Life with Miss M.

When it rains, it pours….

It was warm in the house last night.

Now of course, you’re thinking, “yes, Haus Frau, of course it is warm. It is fall now and most of the states in the union are in sweaters.” But see, we’re not in one of those states. In fact, we still would like our air conditioner working. I thought I had just kept the windows open too long, and that also because the kids suckered me into making chocolate chip cookies, the late in the day oven heat didn’t help either. But no, Haus Meister looks outside and informs me rather disgruntledly that the a/c wasn’t even turning on, although the thermostat was recording valiant yet futile efforts to regain the desired comfort level.

We just had the air conditioner cleaned and refreshed about a month and a half ago.

Tonight after work Haus Meister takes a closer look at the unit and finds that the fuses have blown. So he takes a contingent of children to the hardware store while I take a contingent to the grocery store, and then we rendezvoused home. I had the satisfaction of seeing staple items back in my pantry. He had the ill luck to see the brand new fuses blow immediately. A new compressor? Oh joy…

Meanwhile, before leaving on our expeditions I noticed condensation on the milk cartons in our fridge. Opening the ice box, there was frost on all the frozen goods. And not the usual kind, either, thank you. I just assumed it was due to the fact that Sunshine has a bad habit of coming along and randomly opening both doors. My husband gives me a look–the “yep, you don’t know much about appliances do you,” look 😉 –and indicates a rummy sort of sound coming from the unit. “I don’t like the sound of that,” he says. So we’re still in the process of diagnosing this problem. We’re in luck because after we moved here some friends gave us their old fridge, which is in the garage. It was supposed to be tinkered with and transformed into a lager cave for Haus Meister’s homebrewing purposes, but so far it’s been handy when family and friends visit or when we get that extra bunch of stuff at the farmer’s market–not to mention the extra gallons of milk required to sustain the family because our upstairs fridge cringes at the thought of harboring more than two gallons at a time. So I know if this thing dies we can always haul the old fridge upstairs. Figures that the 30 year old fridge works better than the 10-15 year one.

But gosh, we didn’t really want to contemplate buying a new refrigerator.

And we would really rather it get cold already so we don’t have to call the a/c guy again this summer. Or fall. Or whatever season we’re in.

And did I mention this all hit while I was suffering the annoying effects of getting less than five hours’ sleep last night? So what do I do? I plan projects for myself. I start mentally allocating the stash yarn in my “studio” toward various and sundry projects to beef up the stock in my sadly neglected Etsy store. Never mind that the Etsy store was put on hold because I found myself writing the sequel to Joy in the Ordinary — less than three chapters from the end now (however, I do have some things I did over the summer to put online, but I haven’t gotten sufficiently adequate pictures of them yet). Never mind that I am two sleeves from finishing my niece’s sweater. The more projects the merrier! Ambition makes me feel better! (ok, that might be a stretch, but it’s nice to plan all the same).

Because when it rains, it pours.

Mother’s Day continued…

For reasons unbeknownst to me, I can’t seem to save pictures right now so you’ll have to do with a link.  THIS arrived today!  I’m over the moon.

Once upon a time I ambitiously said I wanted to knit an aran sweater, possibly even a matching set for Haus Meister and myself.  Never mind that I don’t even know how to knit a cable yet; I’m an incurable optimist!  Well, these magazines have an aran sweater for a man and woman designed in homage to the hero and heroine of Persuasion, and it is definitely the type of sweater I would have chosen to make.  Oh my.

Foiled again!

We’d heard a little bird tweet that our favorite farm stand would be selling strawberries today.  I packed the kids into the van and hoped to be there by 10:45am, 45 minutes after I thought they’d open but still morning nonetheless.  Last year I kept trying in the afternoon, and they’d always be sold out by then.  Yet today, as we pulled up in front of the stand, the only thing we could see was a large yellow closed sign.

They had opened at 9am, and were sold out within 90 minutes of opening.

Fortunately the morning was not entirely wasted and Rascal had fun rattling off school facts in the van.

Still, I’m going to have to be up there before 9 next time the news goes out.  Homemade strawberry preserves are one of the things that makes our world go ’round, ’round here. 🙂