More Time In Tents

Here are a few photos from our last two camp outs, which were both back in July. I also forgot to mention that some of the photos (from these recent camping trips) were taken by struggling_along, including these gorgeous ones from up top the nearby mountains, and of course, the ones with me in them!

More recently we have been working on the home front so expect a post on the garden, the animals, etc. soon.

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Quick ‘n Easy

We’ve been working on a few small projects. First, I experimented with a quick no sew pillow cover. Basically, you wrap the pillow rather like you would a present and seal the edge along the back with liquid stitch. I wasn’t sure how it would hold but, after a week of hard abuse by the kids it’s still holding up. Success!

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The kids, especially Ezra, are big into patterns right now. When I happened to dig out the ol’ klutz loom and loops they dove in experimenting with making chains, necklaces for their friends, and, of course, hot pads for us to use while camping.

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 DSCN9546Another recent quick project was a poncho for Noah. Since it’s made of fleece it doesn’t need to be sewn. We measured his arm span and cut out a square (in this case 37.5 by 37.5), then fold it in half (so it looks like a triangle) and cut out a half circle about 5 inches wide in the middle (we traced an upside-down bowl). He didn’t want frilly edges so that was it- done!

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Looks like it’s about time to make dandelion jelly! Visit this previous post to see how- Foraging Blossom Jelly.

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And just because….

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Last Round

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Syrup season is over; truthfully, it never really got going. Just not the right kind of winter for it. Nevertheless, we didn’t do too bad considering the small-scale snowshoe out and haul it back by hand method we’re using here. It’ll be at least a few months before we’ll have to consider buying some store brought syrup to grace the kid’s pancakes.

These photos are from the last two rounds of hauling back sap. The snow has finally melted, well, except for those stubborn patches by the tree line. The soil is warming up; we planted a few cool weather crops: lettuce, sugar snap peas, kale, arugula, broccoli, a few turnips. Not too much, just a little of each to get some fresh veggies started. 

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What We’re Making

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We’re ready for Spring!

 If the weather starts warming up soon Miss Molly might even get to wear her poncho this Spring. I’ve finished the main body; just the trim and the hood to go! The cold is lingering this year, making me wonder if we might end up with a bit of a maple syrup shortage. The sap hasn’t been flowing and it’s getting rather late in the season.

DSCN8988Ezra finished his barn last week and we also made him a little stuffed bear. He saw a bear he liked, made out of a glove, so using ol’ google I found an image showing where to divide the glove to make all the parts of an animal. Looking for it now I found this page, where it is broken down into a tutorial, apparently it is from a book: Happy Gloves. It’s pretty simple. It is for a chipmunk but, sans the tail, makes a pretty decent bear too.

 

Ishmael is big into pirates right now, here he is in his “get up”. It’s hard to make out but he even drew himself a scar across his cheek (and that box be his treasure, of course).

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Birds, and a few of Ezra’s Projects

As you can see the older boys are exploring birds. I never knew you could create Lego birds but, as you can see, you can! Etty bitty pieces, of all colors, are being collected for bills, crests, wings, bodies, tails etc., from these pieces Noah and Ezra build their birds. They take care to be accurate in their portrayals paying special attention to what color the crests are in comparison to the body and wings. We have quite the range of species represented: a cardinal, a pigeon, a crow, a duck, a penguin, just to name a few. They have made a few other types of animals too, like the dog, also pictured, but birds are where it’s at right now. You can even snip them on to branches!

Ezra has been getting into carving. I got him started on a few bars of soap but he’s moved onto wood. You can see the start to a few of his skewers (next to the crochet hook I made). I was lucky enough to be gifted one and it works great to check baked goods coming out of the oven. He’s currently working on a wooden duck and a barn. Up next, campfire sticks?!

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Praise the Lard

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Actually this is suet, but I love how pumped Ezra is about cutting up fat and rendering it. He is quite the helper in the kitchen these days. In fact, he is known for making the best scrambled eggs; just ask and he’ll whip you up a batch! He’s pretty good at pancakes too.

We also rendered lard when we butchered the pig. Lard and suet are wonderful healthy fats and make the best roasted veggies (they don’t get soggy like they can in oil). Plus, I feel we must be as respectful as possible when butchering an animal, to me that means using as much of the animal as possible. While there are a few edible parts I have not yet tried we do keep the majority of the organs, the bones (for bone broth), the fat and, of course, the muscle. That doesn’t leave much behind!

 

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The key to rendering: low and slow.

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Observation

The best thing about taking a nature walk (besides the obvious: you’re outdoors and taking a walk) is the ample opportunity for observation. Observing is a skill. Like any skill, observing takes practice to learn. We have to take the time to slow down and really look; make ourselves familiar with whatever it is that we’re observing. A nature walk  provides a plethora of opportunities to observe: leaves, flowers, feathers hidden off in the grass, rocks, trees, insects, animals, weather…. The more we observe the more we may notice: patterns, behaviors, where to look for a certain plant or for turkey feathers. As a keen observer we notice changes, ask questions and answer them.

Every season offers plenty of wonderful things to observe but fall is my favorite season. The cooler weather is inviting and reminds us of the harsher conditions soon to come.

Get out and enjoy it while you can!

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Ezra observes a spider during a walk back in September.

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