Friday, December 30, 2016

Homesteading in paradise - December highlights

Dear friends,

I had so much fun putting together this month's short little video about highlights on our homestead.

This month of December has been magical.

Watch our homestead transform from green to winter wonderland!

Click here to watch my movie.

Have a wonderful rest of the month and a happy start into the new year!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Holy Daze

I don't know about you, but in my life, Christmas can be a little tricky. I used to dislike this holiday, because of childhood stuff and weird expectations. For many people, family relationships can be weird around this time, standards of perfection running high, the stress of Christmas overshadowing its holi-ness.

This year, Christmas was perfect.

It was super mellow, starting early in the morning with some gorgeous back lit trees studded with diamond frost, a good cup of coffee, and all three kids well behaved as can be, taking turns opening presents, savoring the moment.

In fact, little Eva was so worried about getting coal in her stocking that she didn't come downstairs in the morning, although she could hear the voices of the rest of the family. When her brothers went up to fetch her, she confessed that she didn't know if it was morning already and feared it was still bedtime, when we older ones usually stay up later.

She didn't want to piss off Santa.

The kids were happy about their presents and shared nicely, and Steve and I kept smiling at each other, feeling the blessed-ness and gratitude of our lives.

Later on, I indulged knitting in front of the Christmas tree, while sun streamed through the windows.

I hope you felt some of this peace and deep gratitude as well.

I sure felt more of it later in the day, when the whole family went for a walk. By now, I should be used to all the natural beauty around us, but it still catches me by surprise on days like this, when the snow and frost transform everything into a magical fairy land.

Come with us and see for yourself.

I'm very, very, very thankful for these beings that make up my family.

And bacon, definitely bacon.  From our own pigs.  Yep.  It doesn't get any better than this.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Over the past couple of years, I've had the pleasure of getting to know fellow blogger, homeschooling Mama, and online workshop host Heather Bruggeman of Beauty That Moves.

She designs amazing seasonal online workshops, having to do with holistic nurturing, renewal, and inspiration.

"Hibernate" is her online winter workshop, which I have taken and loved immensely.  In Heather's words, 

"Hibernate is a self-paced, four week, online retreat - a place to celebrate the pause that wintertime brings. A place to linger through the dark and quiet, to welcome stillness, and allow time to enjoy home and hearth."

This year, I'm a contributor!  I'm teaching (video and ebook) how to make Chevre, and also contribute some awesome recipes (Cheesecake anyone? Marinated Chevre with herbs and olive oil!).

I invite you to head on over there and see if this is something you would like, knowing that I love it with all my heart and will participate in this year.

It starts January 16th, and lasts four weeks.

Again, in Heather's words:
"Each weekday will follow the themes Nourish, Gather, Refresh, Create, and Rest. Content will be delivered through our private class website in the form of beautiful mini e-books and videos. In addition, there will be an interactive community to share ideas and experience, if you choose.
You will find the days in a single week thread together with projects and ideas that compliment each other. 
Starting where you are, and working with what you have, you will pick and choose the projects, prompts, recipes and inspiration that speak to you."

On the agenda this year, we will learn how to:

  • do a House Blessing practice
  • make soap
  • make Tummy Soothing Ginger Drops
  • create cozy winter wellness recipes
  • make sourdough pizza crust
  • cook one pot recipes
  • celebrate Hygge (a Danish art of creating sanctuary and community)
  • make winter jam
  • make Chevre (that would be mine)
  • create Chaga Brews
  • make sewing and knitting projects

  • .... and more!

I would love for you to join us!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

My home-made honey nut granola recipe - who needs refined sugar anyway?

You know that our family loves to eat healthy, home-made food?  And that we don't want to pay lots and lots of money for it?

Well, when it comes to breakfast granola, you have to shell out a lot of money for the organic stuff.  I often wonder how fresh it is when I buy it in the bulk bins at our local food coop.

Do you have any idea how easy it is to make your own granola?

Here's the recipe I use and constantly modify.  You could use more or less nuts and seeds, and more honey or maple syrup if you like it sweeter.  You can add shredded coconut, dried fruit or raisins (but add the latter AFTER baking, otherwise they get rock-hard). 

Knock yourself out.

May your future be rich in granola.


  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • baking sheet lined with parchament paper


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Put oats, nuts, seeds, and cinnamon into a big bowl and stir them together.

Melt coconut oil in pan.  Don't burn it!

When oil is liquid, add honey or maple syrup and vanilla.

Stir the liquid stuff into the oat and nuts mixture.  Mix well.

Spread on a baking sheet (with a rim so things don't fall off it) lined with parchament paper.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Then take it out and stir with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 10 more minutes.  Then take it out and stir again.

Bake it for 10 more minutes, but keep an eye on it, otherwise it will burn! 

Take it out and let it cool completely on the baking sheet.

Cooling it like that will make it chunky, which is nice.  

When it's cold, place in mason jars or suitable air-tight containers.  

Good luck keeping it around though.  When I make this, my family will devour it in two days.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Snowflakes, and no football, please

I'm sitting in front of the blazing woodstove, all alone in my house (except for the softly snoring and intermittently farting dog). Having the house to myself is rare, and I am relishing this time. The rest of my family is watching football, which, I'm sorry to say, I don't give a hoot about. I didn't grow up with this sport in Germany, and I don't understand it.

So here I am listening to calm, meditative music, my back warmed by the fire, while the temperatures outside hover around 7 degrees F. I should be doing the dishes, but I'd rather procrastinate and talk with you.

My mouth hurts because I had a tooth pulled. The dentist wanted me to have a root canal, but after extensive research, I decided not to do that and saw a holistic dentist instead. So now I will sport a hillbilly look for a while until I get a retainer.

Am I self-conscious about the gap in my mouth? Sure I am. I haven't been able to assess the visual impact too much, since my mouth is too sore to pull into a smile.

For now, let me show you my still-unblemished smile from the day before I got the tooth pulled, when Steve and I did a little photo shoot for my most recent knitting project, called "Foliage Cowl". I love this beautiful cowl, and since I know you'll ask, it's a pattern you can buy on Ravelry right here.

As you can see in these pictures, there's still snow.  It's been unbelievably pretty with all the white stuff around.  Beautiful, but also creating more work, when we have to carry water from the house to the barn and pasture to keep our animals well hydrated.  

Also, if you look closely, you can see paper snowflakes in the background.  We've been addicted to cutting different snowflake patterns ever since our librarian demonstrated how to do this.  All our windows are decorated with them (the snowflakes, not the librarians), and we are having competitions who can outdo the other in the paper-cutting department.

I took my camera with me when I did chores the other morning, and everywhere I looked was beauty.  Icicles, snow-covered trees and berries, my kids and their friends playing outside, the goat barn and greenhouses covered with a white blanket, the girls finding hiding places under bamboo bent with snow...

We've been sledding, of course.  There's a hill a couple of minutes from our house, joyfully used by our kids.  It's a magical world, hushed and lined by huge trees.

When we've had enough, or just before our noses freeze off, we come inside.  Sometimes, the kids talk me into baking cookies.  Although I don't eat any refined sugar, I feel it's my duty to make Christmas cookies for my family and our friends.  One afternoon, when my daughter's friend came over, we made Russian Teaballs, one of their favorites.

You can see that the dog likes to help.

What is your holiday season looking like?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Winter wonderland eye candy

Yesterday, I stomped down our driveway, lined by snow-covered Cedar and Hemlock trees, bending their boughs with the weight of snow.

I walked by the goat pasture, where we keep this year's babies - not babies any more, but friendly, fat goats, fur fluffed up to keep them warm, greeting me with loud maaahs to entice me to throw them a flake of hay.

My destination was my neighbor's house, where we gathered for singing practice with another friend.  The three of us have been singing a capella for seven years.

Walking up the hill to meet them, looking at all the beauty around me, anticipating joining voices with my friends, I felt a little weepy with gratitude for my life.  (Steve recorded us singing by the river last year, if you want to hear us sing.)

Of course, our (human) kids LOVE the snow.  In fact, they are building a snow fort as I write this, because it snowed some more since yesterday.  Little Eva just brought our dog Raka inside, since Raka apparently is intent on destroying their fort.

So she's curling up by the woodstove now, keeping me company.  I'm writing this by the twinkling lights on the tree, listening to Christmas music.  We put up the tree two nights ago.

Yes, it's Christmassy around here.

Before all the snow hit, we prepared for it by harvesting kale from the garden and moving the greenhouse over the rest of the kale and collard bed to protect it, so we'll hopefully have greens all winter long.

Before the North-Easter blew in, two days of cold weather with sunshine made for beautiful walks in the neighborhood.  Let me show off some of the eye candy around here.

I hope you are able to find peace right now as well.  I know things are crazy out there, with lots of anxiety and polarity everywhere.

Let me leave you with images of what keeps me sane.

My oldest son making waffles for the whole family:

My younger son homeschooling at the kitchen table, framed with all the paper snowflakes he has been cutting:

Visiting dear friends with a new puppy:

Watching my kids play in the snow.  I keep telling them: "You could be sitting in school right now", and they roll their eyes at me.

My beloved family: