spending time together

Yesterday and today:

apple picking; drop off dinner for a family with a new baby; pick up a wonderful fall vegetable box at the farm; wade in the creek; pet the goats; stop at the farmstand for late season corn; make sloppy lentils and corn on the cob for dinner.

visit a friend to meet her greyhounds (we all loved it, even 'H', surprisingly); clean out the clothing in 'A's and 'H's rooms, preparing for the cold weather that's sure to arrive any day; 'A's first 4-H meeting.

Tomorrow I'll show you the wonderful gift my greyhound friend gave me today. And I'll be making some applesauce and getting ready to can it. Finally, we'll welcome friends for dinner. I'm looking forward to the whole day.

cooking dinner, breathing... relaxing

Cooking dinner.

Breathing, and relaxing.

I'm happy.

I've been juggling our autumn schedule and wondering if I overscheduled the girls (and me) too much. I have. We're doing way too much all day, particularly at dinnertime. Part of it is because of the activities that 'A' and 'H' are doing, and part of it is because I keep signing myself up for volunteer work. I love all of the volunteer work I do, and I have found in the past that when I don't volunteer and have that unselfish, human connection in my life, I feel disconnected from the world, like I'm an island unto myself. But there has to be a point where I can't do any more, right? And with the girls' activities, that same point has to exist, doesn't it?

I'm still wading through this new territory. For now, I'm happy. I've realigned the way I spend my time. I still have the same amount to do, but now I put my girls and my homestead routine first, and all else second. I works better that way. I'm a better volunteer when I'm happy deep down inside.



Checking out the caterpillars winding through the grass...

...and watching fall crops grow in our garden. Brussels Sprouts, leeks, lettuces... and the cat looks fluffy and ready to pick too, doesn't she?


I don't know how it works in your house, but in our house, daily mail delivery is a BIG DEAL. When we're home, 'A' listens for the mail carrier's truck and both girls run out to check the mail box after she's passed the house. Then they wait outside for her drive back up the other side of the street, waving as she goes by.

Recently 'A' has taken her interest in the mail one step further, by sending drawings to her friends through the mail. She draws the picture, puts it in the envelope, seals it and puts on the stamp. I write the address. Then she brings the letter down to the mailbox, raises the flag, and waits for the mail carrier to come.

It's a lovely thing, raising a letter-writer. This can't be taught. It must come from within.

the geese are getting ready for their big trip

The day started out warm, then turned cooler. We had some of this (tomatoes ripening on the vine)...

...some of this (nasturtiums blooming in the garden)...

...time to enjoy this (dinner on the deck)...

...and at the same time, we had this (gold, orange and red leaves on the branches)...

...and this (leaves on the ground).

I am still having trouble easing into autumn. Today I had a very "grown up" moment (I thought it was!). I was outside and heard a flock of geese in the sky. I looked up and sure enough, they were in V formation, coming from the north, heading south. I normally would have thought, "there they go, leaving me here with this cold weather..." or some such pathetic thought. But today when I saw them, I thought, "Be well. Have a safe trip. It's a wonderful day for it. I'll be here, keeping this place safe for you while you're gone. I look forward to seeing you come back." That kind of thinking keeps me going and gives me purpose.

hot air balloons

The Adirondack Balloon Festival is this weekend. Today we packed a picnic dinner and went to see 90 balloons take off. It didn't happen has planned - it was windy, so a few filled up with air but never took off. It was still fun. We were there with good friends and good food. The mountains surrounded us and the trees were wearing green, gold, orange and red. What could be better than that?


:: Breakfast ::

There was a different energy about today. For starters, the weather was warm. We enjoyed all three meals outside. And the trees are bursting with color and losing leaves already. But it was more than that. I had things to do today, but I somehow managed to stay focused on the basics - my children, my home, our meals, and things I was doing for others because I genuinely wanted to. There were obligations on the calendar, such as gymnastics class for 'H', and I had to prepare a few roasted root vegetable tarts for a friend at the UU church who bid on my tarts at the auction a few months ago. But those obligations felt like pleasures after the week I've had.

I've come to realize that there is too much going on in my life. I have work; volunteer work; motherhood; teaching 'A'; maintaining our home; having fun; and being creative. It doesn't all fit into the hours of the day. I won't be working that much longer. The rest is on-going. Now the question is, how do I balance it? If I make an effort to be uber-organized, keeping perfect track of our schedules, keeping up with my to-do list, I inevitably find that I feel constrained and tied down. On the other hand, if I don't keep track of what we're doing and let things sneak up on me, I feel lost and overwhelmed most of the time... but I do have moments of purely spontaneous happiness. I'm better able to relax in the moment, and that makes me feel better overall.

What to do? Cut down is one idea. Here I am, homeschooling my girls, and one of the reasons is because I don't want to be on the go all the time. And here I am, on the go all the time. There has to be a better way. It's going to take some time to find my way.

:: Roasted root vegetable tarts ::

:: Caren's flags to honor the fallen soldiers in Iraq ::


:: One of the farmstands where we buy corn ::

Happy Autumn! I've been looking ahead to this day with great trepidation, and now that it's here, I think I'm okay with it. This is the day when there is balance between daytime and nighttime, dark and light. I expected balance in my own life today, and I was pleased to have found it. Work is balanced and going well; volunteer work is balanced and going well; family downtime is back; we're in touch with our food source; and we celebrated our family "new season" ritual tonight.

I love when we go around the table and each of us says the things we're going to miss about the summer and look forward to in the fall. Our lists are so different, yet understood by all.

:: Now that I'm eating eggs, I get them here, at a stand down the road. You can't beat the size or the price for a dozen local eggs ::

I took the girls to the farm today to pick up vegetables, then headed to the farmer's market to buy a few items I need for a dinner I'm making for another family this week. I love Wednesdays, the day I stock up on produce for the week ahead. I love seeing the new variety for the week ahead, thinking about the meals I'll cook, and handling the vegetables as I store them carefully. I've been using green bags to store my veggies and so far they've been working out well.

I'm dreaming about:

:: butternut squash soup

:: pad thai with wilted chinese cabbage

:: zucchini frittata

:: tomato soup

:: Mardi Gras mask paintings - done this morning in art class ::


Our days lately are BUSY. I was home this afternoon just long enough to get dinner ingredients together so that Jeff could prepare dinner, then I left again and showed up at 7:30 with two hungry girls. We're running, running, running. I don't like living like this. I need some regular doses of unstructured free time. In the midst of it all, I enjoy stopping to savor a breakfast of homemade bread with homemade jam.

On the up side, I am:

:: Going to the gym regularly

:: Volunteering at church

:: Bringing the girls to swimming, gymnastics, art classes, 4-H and Girl Scouts (I changed my mind and decided YES on Girl Scouts)

:: Meeting up with friends for fun & play

:: Stopping to look at Jupiter in the sky and the red maple leaves on the ground

:: Making regular trips to the library

:: Cooking healthy homemade meals every night

:: Running errands that need to be run, cleaning things that need to be cleaned, fixing things that need to be fixed, and generally keeping up the house in a way that makes even me proud

... and I'm in need of slowing down soon!


Barley, tofu, cauliflower and green beans for dinner.


Tree's felt food

The chance to see Jupiter "up close" this week

The inspiration I find at Rhythm of the Home

:: Books to be returned ::

:: Books we want to keep ::

Peace be with you

Peace Fair today... what a wonderful group of people to spend the afternoon with. I learned from college students who spent their summer in Swaziland and Iraq, building schools and community centers; connected with the Saratoga Peace Alliance; listened to folk music; spent time with friends; and had a very nice afternoon all around.

The girls made felted balls - their (and my) first exposure to felting. I have heard of people doing it but haven't seen it done in "real life" until today. They each got a handful of wool and dipped it in water until it was soaking wet. Then they got a squirt of dish detergent on each handful and passed it between each hand for a long while and watched it form into a ball.

I've learned these past few years that if I want to live in a community of peaceful, earth-loving, creative people, I have to make an effort to find those people and actively work to keep the spirit of community alive. All of us who consider ourselves to be part of the community have the responsibility of working to keep it going. Sometimes the work is more involved and complicated, and sometimes it's as simple as having a conversation and connecting, whether it be on a personal, spiritual, or activist level. It's worth the effort. What I get in return is a feeling a fulfillment that I can't find many other places.

Hmmm.... I'm starting to sound the same way I did last year after the Peace Fair!

a good day


'H' slept all night, which means I did too (yay!). So right away, the day started out good. It flowed along like this:


decide on upcoming dinners (tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches; veggie burgers; garlic soup with pasta; asian-infused cauliflower, green beans and tofu; homemade gnocchi; roasted vegetable quiche). I've figured out that when I eat some animal products (eggs in particular), I have more energy. Maybe it's true what they say about eating for our blood type? I'm an O. O's like low-carb, more animal protein in their diet. It's my husband and kids who are Type A and will flourish on a diet low in animal protein.

watch 'H' at her gymnastics class. All those little kids bouncing around the mat are so cute!

play outside. Swing, swing, swing. Listen to birds.

forgot to make a loaf of bread for dinner tonight, so I started it late. We'll eat late tonight.

now I'm ready to make tomato soup for me and Jeff and some lentil/carrot/pasta soup for the girls. I can't believe these girls don't like tomato soup! I'm using a loose version of this soup that was recommended by Erika.

if I'm lucky, and if I feel like it, I'll work on 'H's Halloween costume tonight. Maybe.

This weekend is full but should be fun:

sewing class (me)

a birthday party for a friend whose whole family is adored by my whole family


I'm working at the Peace Fair this year (remember how inspired I was by it last year?)

if we have time, we'll attend the potluck at the farm

and finally, I meet with my small group - a wonderful group of women who keep me inspired and grounded, all at the same time!

:: I'm in love with all of 'A's sculptures. This one is a bird. ::

sometimes you already know the answer

It's chilly here today. Rainy and chilly. I decided to shut all the windows and get the stove running. Mmmm, it feels nice. And that basket of blankets next to the stove has slowly become a regular stopping-place in the evenings. Yes, fall is on its way.

'A' has been asking about our family's Change-of-Season ritual, making sure we're going to do it next week on the Autumnal Equinox. We gather things from nature that represent both seasons (the outgoing and the incoming), light candles, and each of us has a turn talking about the things we will miss from the outgoing season and the things we're looking forward to with the incoming season. I'm glad my girls like these rituals too.

Sometimes I find that I know something, but choose to ignore what I know. I then take some action and... surprise, surprise, I end up being reminded of what I already knew.

For example, I know that 'A' is very interested in learning about all kinds of things, but one of the things she is definitely not interested in doing is learning to read. She loves books, and loves being read to, but has no interest in doing it herself. Because I know this, you would think I would abstain from teaching her to read. And I have. Until today. Another homeschooling mother told me about a book she used with two of her children and today I sat down with 'A' and turned to page 1. 'A' participated for a minute before tuning out. It was really interesting to see the difference in her level of interest between learning about math and learning about reading. She couldn't have been more clear at letting me know that she's just not there yet. So, I'll put the teaching part of me aside and keep doing the storytelling until she let's me know she's interested.

One of the things I need to spend some time teaching myself about is finding rhythm to the day. I've let it go and I so much want it back. I'll start by:

:: drawing up a list of dinner ideas for the upcoming week

:: having more regular waking hours (for me. 'H' has started getting up at night again and when she does, I can't fall back asleep. So I fall asleep late and sleep late)

:: adding a purposeful, nature-based activity to our routine a few times a week in addition to our regular free time outside.

... and I'll keep doing:

:: cooking family meals and treats together

:: clean-up time after dinner at night (toys and dinner dishes)

:: asking the girls to get the mail every afternoon (they love that job!)

:: storytime after lunch and before bedtime

:: lullabies at night

:: regular trips to our neighborhood library

What means rhythm for you?


So, take a look at this... this tree down the street is sporting some distinctively fall color. The change is starting, isn't it? This is always a hard time of year for me. It's not that I love summer so much that I can't stand to see it go, and it's not that I don't like autumn. It's that I know that after autumn comes winter, and that is somewhat distressing to me. I didn't grow up this far north, and I've found that the summer season here begins two weeks too soon for my comfort level and ends two weeks too early. And the cold weather lasts four weeks too long. I'm just not ready for it.

There's a chill in the air now. The windows are mostly closed at night. We wear layers during the day. The tomatoes aren't as sweet, and they don't ripen as quickly in the garden. The little pool has been empty now for a while, and is probably ready for storage. I've got plans to go through all of our cool-weather clothing tomorrow. Yes, it's time to welcome the new season.

We're just back from a trip to Old Sturbridge Village. Yesterday was homeschool day and we went again this year. I was so impressed with the way so many of the homeschooled children dressed up in period costume! Even the teenagers were decked out in dresses and bonnets or breeches and flowing white shirts and floppy hats. I forgot to bring bonnets for the girls and I know they would have loved wearing them. 'A' went to a workshop where she learned how to sew together a travel journal. My sister came with us and we visited with animals, talked with interpreters, pumped water from the well, and got in touch with the early 19th century.

Things around here are calming down a little. I'm not as busy or as scatterbrained as I have been. Instead of wondering how to find balance, I'm just plugging along and taking time to do the things that bring me pleasure (stopping to notice the little things, cooking dinner for my family, organizing all the papers on my desk, spending time outside, talking to my children). So far so good.

In the meantime, I've been:

feeding Erma Devil's Claw to treat her arthritis

working on math lessons with 'A'

wondering what "topping the brussels sprouts" means and if we should be doing it

working on 'H's Halloween costume

finishing up some website work

wondering if 'A' should do Girl Scouts after all

making granola again

not recording everything I eat for Weight Watchers but still happy to see the numbers on the scale dropping

thinking that I need to harvest some herbs from the garden and store the ones I harvested this summer that are already dry

looking forward to picking some apples soon

... I've been doing a lot of wondering and thinking, haven't I?

Sewing class!

Sewing class today with a great teacher. I'm making a fairy costume for 'H' for Halloween. We meet again next Saturday and I'm hoping to have most of the costume done by then. I have to make fairy wings, something I'm scared to do, and I'm saving those for the next (and final) class.

We're having an early dinner, followed by an ice cream social at the UU church for the kids, followed by some sewing and relaxing with Jeff (he does the relaxing, I do the sewing).

Have a great Saturday night.

Just sorting through some more photos from our time at the Cape last week...

One morning while we were there, 'H' and I visited an herb farm, Cold Spring Farm. It was nice to walk through the herbs and spend some time together. I bought a few things at their shop, including tea mixes for Jeff and my father, and a culinary mix of French herbs. Someday I would love to have an herb farm of my own. Mmmmm! I can just smell it!

About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!