spring projects

These pictures are from the past several weeks and it is amazing how much has changed in our garden and in the natural world around us in that matter of time. The early blooms of the willow and the bradford pear have given way to green leaves. The lilac is almost ready to bloom. Daffodils, snowdrops, and crocuses are on their way out. My beautiful tulips and are mostly done. The forsythia lining the neighbors shed, just beginning to be visible in these pictures, has long since brilliantly bloomed and greened out. Now the peonies are beginning to grow, the bachelor’s buttons, mustard greens, and one little beet plant are growing rapidly in the garden. We’ve weeded and prepared the soil, and last weekend I spent the better part of Saturday shoveling compost over the garden and the other beds around our home. Coneflowers and poppies are beginning to come back, the flag iris, and the strawberries. Asparagus have already been sending up their shoots. Such a lively and vibrant time it is. Soon we will plant in the garden vegetables and herbs, but we’re waiting a few more weeks.

Meanwhile, we’ve been carrying on with school. It’s the time of year when we are all feeling really weary and ready for a hard stop. I’m grateful for the garden season which gives us a sense of freshness and an eagerness to learn outside in the growing of things. Philippa and I enjoyed working on her bird puzzle and Noah worked eagerly on his ocean anatomy puzzle. Wren actually helped a lot of with Noah’s puzzle and did surprisingly well finding pieces and putting it together. We’ve pulled out the paints a number of times on rainy days or just for fun. I try to be willing to pull out the paints whenever the kids ask, even though sometimes I don’t feel I have the energy for it. They love it and honestly create such beautiful little works of art. Next week we plan to take a week off for a late spring break and then we really only have a few more weeks until our school year should be done. The end is in sight! Not that I don’t love and cherish these times of learning together. But it is a lot of work for all of us and it’s always so good to step away for a bit.

Another project we began back in the fall but finished up earlier this spring was a small facelift in our bathroom. I’ll share some before and after photos below.

We still plan to fully gut this bathroom at some point, but in the meantime I just wanted to make a few changes to make it more our style. The janky medicine cabinet mirror/light drove me crazy and buzzed loudly whenever it was on. I didn’t love the shoddy paint job the previous owners had done. We had a bit of this dark evergreen paint left from painting our front door and so we used it in the bathroom which I really love. Brandon built the vanity from a piece of live-edge slab that he had, and I picked out the vessel sink and faucet (sink, faucet, light fixture and mirror all from Wayfair). Down the road when we do a bigger renovation of the shower and floor these pieces will still work in the space hopefully. We’re really happy with it and I’m buzzing with all that spring energy, wanting to tackle a lot of other projects around the house.

yarn along

It has felt good to finish up a few projects lately and I’ve been feeling the urge to cast on a lot of projects that have been waiting in my mind for a while. I have this special skein of Even Tinier Annapurna from A Verb for Keeping Warm that my mom sweetly gifted me a couple of Christmases ago. I thought to use it in a shawl but changed my mind and decided I’d rather have it as a garment. It is the loveliest rusty pinkish red, I find myself drawn to this color so often. I have been curious to knit a Ranunculus for a couple of years at least, but also a bit intimidated by the flexibility of the pattern in regards to size, gauge and yarn. Here’s to hoping that I can knit this flow-y summery piece in one generous skein of fingering weight yarn.

The kids and I savored Robert McFarlane’s book The Lost Words a while ago and we’ve been thoroughly enjoying more of the beautiful poetry and artwork displayed in this small little book of poetry, The Lost Spells. We try to read poetry from a few different sources daily and this little book is such an inspiration highlighting the beauty and wonder of nature.

What have you been reading or making lately? I hope this post finds you well today, friends.

xo
Martha

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a happy Easter

Easter Sunday was extra special this year. Last year we didn’t gather with family or friends so the celebration that we felt this year was even greater. What a joy to be with other believers celebrating the risen Lord Jesus together! We joined my brother and his family at their church for an outdoor service because my niece, Athaelia, was going to be baptized. It’s just hard to beat that kind of joy, friends. It was a very sweet and memorable day!

After worship we gathered at my parent’s house for Easter lunch and the kids did a small egg hunt. My parents always do such phenomenal meals, this one was no exception. Roasted lamb with a citrusy fresh salad, roasted parsnips and potatoes. I made a gluten free carrot cake for dessert for the kids and my mom made creme brûlée. So delicious! Best of all was the reason for our gathering and the freedom to do so.

“May this shared meal, and our pleasure in it,
bear witness against the artifice and deceptions
of the prince of the darkness that would blind this world to hope.
May it strike at the root of the lie that
would drain life of meaning, and
the world of joy, and suffering of redemption.

May this our feast fall like a great hammer blow
against that brittle night,
shattering the gloom, reawakening our hearts,
stirring our imaginations, focusing our vision
on the kingdom of heaven that is to come,
on the kingdom of heave that is promised,
on the kingdom that is already,
indeed, among us,
For the resurrection of all good things
has already joyfully begun.”

(Excerpt from Every Moment Holy, A Liturgy for Feasting with Friends)

With full hearts, we headed back home where we had our own little egg hunt planned for the kids per usual. My favorite is when they sit on the ground afterward with all their loot and sort through their goodies. We snapped a quick family picture which I will treasure. The brilliant hues of new growth, the persistent reach of vibrant blooms, the smell of fresh grass and lilac on the warming breeze. It is so good to revel in these spring things.

From last Easter till now the Lord really has done a great work in my little family, and continues to bring new life to places that needed reviving. Truly,

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad. (Psalm 126:3)

Happy Easter, friends. He is Risen! And no matter what else we are facing, no matter what else is true in our lives, this is true. Death is defeated, we have hope and life because of it.

rainy Palm Sunday hike

Last night the wind howled around and shook our home for most of the night, even bringing limbs cracking and crashing to the ground in the dark. March certainly didn’t go out like a lamb. The temperatures are frigid this morning. So goes spring in the mountains, the tug and pull of winter and warmth.

When spring comes the parkway opens back up and I have been craving to visit our favorite places. Spring green creeps up slowly from the valleys to the mountaintops, so it is still more brown and wintry there than where we live. On Palm Sunday, though the weather was dreary, we still attempted to go for a hike since often we can get above the clouds and rain. Not so this time. It was absolutely wild up on the ridges, wind nearly knocking our children off their feet. Though we didn’t last long, it was still refreshing to be there and get out of the house for a bit. We packed a lunch and a thermos of hot chocolate and enjoyed hanging out nonetheless, despite some grumbling and complaints.

Also, I took the opportunity to get a few photos of my recently finished Stoker Shawl. I’ve been wearing it daily since finishing it and I really, really love it. It’s incredibly huge and warm. I think it’s a fairly simple design but I appreciate the details of texture like the bobbles down the spine, the tassels, and lace edging.

yarn along

I’ve finished up a few projects lately, and cast on a couple, too. I’ve had the yarn to knit a Ginny sweater for awhile and since I am almost done with my morchella cardigan, it seemed good to cast on another garment. Everything is done on my morchella except sewing on the button band, which I’ve been putting off. I do intend to get done in the next couple of days. It has been really lovely to work with the nightshades yarn, I love the blue-black color and it is very soft and squishy.

Still reading mostly in Delighting in the Law of the Lord lately and finding it a great comfort and encouragement.

Do share with me what you’ve been reading and making lately if you want!

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yarn along

Are we tired of seeing this sweater project yet? Well, this is the last bit of knitting for my morchella cardigan, the button band. Both sleeves and pockets are done, so once I finish knitting the button band, I will seam up the sleeves, attach the button band and pockets, sew on buttons, and the sweater is done! All the seaming/attaching work is something I like to do in one sitting if possible with good day light and no distractions, so it often takes me a little while to find a good time to do so. Maybe by this weekend I can have it all finished? I can’t wait to have this piece in my wardrobe, even if its not terribly seasonally appropriate anymore. While knitting on this last bit of the sweater, I’m starting to plan and dream about what to cast on next. Of course, I have a few other projects on my needles that need finishing, but another garment for myself will have to be cast on soon!

I am still reading Delighting in the Law of the Lord slowly and very much so enjoying it. I finished Lila a little bit ago and since I’ve read all the books in the series, figured I need to read Jack as well. I enjoyed Lila so much, I’m not deep enough into this one to know yet what I think. I have to say I don’t enjoy the character Jack’s internal dialogue.

What are you reading or making lately?

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three years

After watching all her siblings’ birthdays come and go this past winter, Wren has been wondering and asking regularly when it will finally be her turn. A few weeks ago as I was getting her dressed she begged, “Momma now can you make my buth-day? Because I’m bigger!” She has randomly asked me to make her “buth-day” a few times and I eventually came to understand she was talking about her cake. More than even her presents, she was excited about that cake. 🙂 The big day finally came last week. It’s hard to acknowledge that my little baby is really not a baby anymore, but a chatting, funny, mischievous three-year-old who is eager to keep up with her older brother and sisters. I sweetly reminisced on her birth, what a joyful and quiet time it was enjoying her arrival. She has brought such laughter and fun to our family these past three years in part because the older children have been old enough to really enjoy having a baby to carry around and take care of. They have enjoyed all her stages of growth and development just as Brandon and I have.

She wanted cereal for her birthday breakfast, and she was excited to see the balloon and bunny decorations. Afterwards she opened her gifts before daddy went to work. Her birthday sweater was the first thing she opened! I had stayed up until almost midnight the night prior finishing the last sleeve, weaving in ends and sewing on the two buttons. No time to block it, but she wouldn’t notice. (Now that I have blocked it, it looks better!) She wanted it on right away and has worn it most days since then. Very sweet girl to her mommy and very knit-worthy.

We gifted her a new backpack since the one she has been using isn’t very big or useful for hiking, and she’s starting to want to wear her backpack like the older kids when we go for hikes. We gave her a small journal with beeswax crayons in a little tin for her backpack travels. The best gifts are the ones they want to start using right away, and true to form she cracked open that tin and started coloring right away in her journal. We gave her The Story of the Orchestra: Carnival of Animals book because she loves this series so much. She was truly delighted! We also gave her the Our Little Adventures book set because it is beautiful, simple, and has bunnies and other forest creatures in it. She also received a new dress (called the wren dress), a sweet bunny pillow that I couldn’t resist from Target, a wooden animal/alphabet puzzle that she has enjoyed (and the other kids, too!), as well as a toy dragon (because for better or worse, all of my kids are obsessed with these dragons). Brandon’s parents gifted her with a sit-and-spin also.

My mom and the little guy she nannies (who is now a good friend to my kiddos) came over later in the morning and we made a trip out to Carl Sandburg to see the goats and go for a little walk. It was beautiful there and just starting to feel like spring, but we were bummed that the goat barn was still closed. Even still, it was a fun outing! Later, Wren finally got to have her cake. I made the same vegan carrot cake I’ve made every year for her so far (though this year I didn’t make it vegan) and it was delicious.

So it was all in all a very fun and happy day and I was sad to see it go. She is so proud to be three and bigger now, and I’m missing her little baby self but so grateful for the delight that it is to watch her grow.

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yarn along

Since last week, I have finally cast on Wren’s birthday bunny sweater.  The yoke has a sweet bunny motif and I think she will love it.  Now any time she sees me knitting on something she asks if it’s for her.  She was thrilled when she heard this project finally was for her (though she hasn’t quite figured out the design on it yet and I do hope to keep it a surprise).  I have about a week to finish it and hope I can make it.  The yoke is knitting slowly because it’s fingering weight yarn, and the pattern isn’t intuitive for me and needs constant checking.  Once I’m past the yoke I hope it flies and I’m able to finish it in time.  It is really nice to work on though, giving me lots of spring feels.  All other projects are on hold until this one is done.

I’m nearly done with Lila and am reading it in the evenings.  In my morning reading time I’ve been reading Delighting in the Law of the Lord, which has been so very rich and good thus far.  I bought it a few years ago and never have gotten around to reading it, and now the time is right. I appreciate Barrs as an author and it has been good to read something theological again.  Though I’m coming to this book with my own personal wrestlings, it is remarkable how much it is speaking to our times and the philosophy/worldview of our age and is bringing clarity for me on a lot of what is going on in the world and culture around us.  I highly recommend it!  It is theological without being heady, and is engaging and readable.

What might you be reading and making this week?

xo

a snowy beginning

In the fall a friend told me that the acorn load was particularly heavy which suggested a harsh winter was ahead of us. Isn’t it a wonder how God would orchestrate the operations of nature to ensure that extra food stores are provided when especially needful? He looks after the birds, surely He will look after me.

And so a wonderful snowy winter it has been. If memory serves me well, last winter was crazy mild around here and my snow-loving, Rocky-Mountain-girl heart was aching for a real winter. I remember spring coming upon us suddenly and feeling a bit like we had just skipped ahead. Am I remembering correctly or was that the year prior? I’m not sure now. Last year honestly feels like a strange time warp. Personally, it was one of the hardest years of my life for reasons I can’t share here. Suffice it to say, I felt incredibly disoriented all the year through.

We explored a new-to-us area on New Years, a very beautiful and brutally cold day. The rocky bald at the top was stunning and very similar to the place where Brandon proposed to me some 16 years ago now. I surprised the kids with sparklers which was a fun treat before heading back down. Philippa got very quiet after that and I realized she was crazy cold, but was refusing to put on extra layers she had with her. I think she may have been mildly hypothermic because after bundling her and requiring her to wear Brandon’s coat, she perked back up and was herself again. These sorts of excursions into the quiet and empty spaces of nature calm and reorient my soul in ways I’ll never quite be able to articulate. I suspect if you read along here, you might know what I mean. We were made for creation, and creation was made for us. It speaks endlessly to us of our Creator and His character. He uses it as an avenue to restore our souls and commune with us.

The rest of the snowy pictures are from two separate snow days, one in January and one earlier this month. There have been a lot of other days with flurries too, and it has truly blessed my soul. My heart sometimes need to see the landscape made new and soft and bright with snow. We have enjoyed snowy walks, snowball fights, and the kids have found a special fort in the bamboo “forest” nearby that really comes to life when the bamboo is bent over with the weight of snow.

Though I never really feel hurried about winter ending, I do feel like this year may be the first time I’m getting ancy for that warming soil smell and the excitement of seeing new life sprouting up around us again. Gardening has really changed my enjoyment of the warmer months that I typically just endure. Today the children and I went for a walk at a favorite park and nature area though the temp was somewhere around 29 degrees. We don’t go walking there as often in the wintertime but it was still beautiful and hearkened to me of memories of warmer days. Still, I plan to savor whatever is left of winter that I can.

So this new year has been off to a gentle start. We have mostly been carrying on as normal with our homeschool, co-op, and music lessons, and the normalcy has been a gift. Brandon had shingles a few weeks ago and that was brutal to watch him undergo, but he rode it out with the toughness and endurance typical of him. We celebrated his birthday early February and now preparing for Wren’s birthday coming very soon. Any good ideas for a girl’s third birthday? I have a few ideas but need to get cracking on it. I hope January and February have been sweet months for you, and for all the parts that maybe haven’t been sweet, that you have known the comfort of the Spirit.

yarn along

I have been working on a few gift knits lately, and have gifted them so now I can share about them. 🙂 I knit a lopi sweater for my mom called Stonewood. I think it looks great on her, sometime I’ll have to get a picture of her wearing it. I also finished knitting some 3×1 rib socks for my sister-in-law for her recent birthday. Sock projects are always on my needles now because it is good knitting for days that we are at homeschool co-op or whenever we’re out on the go really. Also there’s just something so enjoyable to me about knitting socks. I’m working on a pair for Noah, just another simple 3×1 rib pair (my favorite to knit lately) knit out of Patons Kroy. I’ve been itching to knit some crunkle socks and cast those on a few days ago for myself in yarn from Little Lionhead Knits. Her dye job is always fantastic and this colorway makes me think of spring. The pattern is really fun to knit! More engaging than a plain vanilla sock but easy enough to need a very low level of concentration. The repeat of the pattern keeps me moving onto the next row, so they’re knitting up quickly. Wren’s birthday is coming quickly and I haven’t even cast on her sweater yet, so I’m making a mental note to get on that in the next couple of days.

I finished reading My Connemara and enjoyed getting to know the Sandburg family more. I’ve since been reading Lila and am enjoying it more than Home and Gilead, even though I have liked each book in the series.

Do feel free to share with me what you may be reading or making lately.

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