Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Last minute Teacher gifts

One of our favorite teacher gifts is decorated flower pots.They are a nice simple gift, inexpensive and easy to make, and the kids have so much fun decorating and personalizing them. We fill them with  a variety of flowers or herbs.  Our flower pot gifts have come a long way. The first year that we made them, i just grabbed some markers and let my boy color all over the pots.  Turns out they were washable markers, and the minute we watered the plants, the drawings turned into an unrecognizable water color mess. 

Now we make our pots using (non-washable) acrylic paints, mod podge and stickers.

We start with a plain terracotta pot. Using acrylic paints my daughter added some green along the bottom for grass and painted the top rim.  We let the pain the dry, and then coated the entire thing in mod podge.

We found the awesome sticker books at Micheal's craft store.  

 After the mod podge dried my daughter decorated the pots with stickers. She had such a great time creating different scenes on the posts. We had a variety of gardening and fairy princess stickers. :)

Once she was finished creating her design, we coated it all in mod podge again.  This will seal the stickers on.  We just used a sharpie to write her  teacher's name on the pot, and i had her sign and date the bottom. 

After the mod podge dried, we filled the pots with potting soil and added our plants.  We made herb pots that contain parsley, thyme, basil, chives and dwarf lavender. i had also intended to add some mint and marjoram which i have have at our property, but forgot to dig it. They still look pretty good, and the herbs will fill in more as they grow.


i tried to get a quick picture this morning but the lighting wasn't great so it's a bit blurry.  My daughter made the herb pots for her teacher and teacher's assistant.

My boy is technically in junior high now, so he has 4 teachers through out the day.  He wasn't as interested in decorating pots, so we put together these simple mug/flower sets.  i let him pick out the mugs for his teachers, and then he picked out a pack of flowers.  The flowers came in a 4 pack, so we transplanted them into disposable cups that fit perfectly inside each mug.  Then we cut squares of tissue paper to put in the mug, and placed the cup with the flower inside it. That way the flowers are easy to remove, by just lifting up the tissue paper and the teachers will be able to use the mugs if they want.

These would be neat with mint plants or chamomile or another favorite herb used for tea. Our gifts were pretty last minute...i always seem to run out of time, but you could create some neat themes with them.

The kids enjoyed putting them together and loved handing them to each of their teachers!

We have an end of the year field trip today, awards day/half day tomorrow...then school is out!  Still trying to get my garden in and be moved into the RV this weekend.  We now have working electricity, still working on the water though... :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Progress, i think?

In 4 days we are packing up and moving again.  After 4 crazy months, we are headed 'home'.  We are finally moving back onto our land, into an RV until we can rebuild the house. i am both excited and a little scared. :/  We always enjoy our time at the property, but there comes a time each day when the kids are ready to go back to the house. In a couple more days that won't be an option anymore.

Kenan has been out of the town for the weekend at a glass expo in Toronto. Leaving all the packing, organizing , cleaning etc up to me.  It is also Memorial day weekend, so i'm frantically trying to get my garden in all while keeping both kids entertained. The contractor finally came back out to hook up the electricity/water, which was supposed to be set up May 15th.  We could have called a plumber and a electrician to come out and do it, but we thought it would save us some stress to hire a contractor to just take care of it all.  Yeah, we were wrong.

There always seems to be a lot of destruction that goes hand in hand with progress.  This was of course necessary to run the electricity to the camper and the well pump. i don't love what they did to my yard, but it's progress.  right? Because i'm starting to wonder.  

We had a spiget installed so we can access water easily, and they hooked the electric up to the pump and...NOTHING. The pump is dead. We don't know whether the pump burned out during the fire because of electrical wire melting together and shorting out, or if one of the water pipes broke and drained the well before the pump/electricity was shut off.   All we know if that we still have no water, and now we have to call the well guy out to pull the pump.  Seriously kicking ourselves for not doing this in the beginning. We could have saved ourselves a lot of money by avoiding the middleman. Also, if we had just contacted the pump guy to start, he would have figured out the problem immediately when he hooked it all up (back on the 15th!), and could have pulled the well then and had it fixed...and we would have water right now. But no, nothing is ever that easy.  

i had a water barrel set up behind the RV to collect the rain water that was running of. It filled up super quickly, and i had a full barrel to water my garden plants.  Unfortunately it was in the way of hooking up the septic, and had to be moved. :( The contractor installed this fancy septic pipe that goes from the RV and connects to the pre-existing septic system.  So we should have a working toilet right now...IF we had water. i plan to create a little platform over the tube so i can set my rain barrel back up.

i have already started researching how to make a composting toilet. Even if we are able to get it all set up by the time we move in (i'm not very optimistic) it  makes sense to have a back up system, and the humanure approach seems much better/safer than just digging an outhouse.

We wanted the electricity to be totally hooked up on the 15th.  The electric company brought out a temporary electric pole and set it up on the 21st, but it was not connected to anything. On the 25th, the contractor came out and installed an outside outlet that we could plug the RV into.  So we technically have power!
However, after the RV had been plugged in for a few hours, i noticed that the inside of the RV was getting really if an oven was left on. i checked to make sure the heat was turned off then tried to find the source of the heat. It was coming from the breaker box/converter panel. It was actually hot to the touch.  i don't know what that means, but it did not seem right and so i unplugged it. It was mentioned to the contractor, and he said the electrical system of the RV is not his problem. So when Kenan gets back he'll take a look at it, and we will probably have to call out an actual electrician to check everything out, make sure it's set up correctly and make sure the RV's electrical system is okay.  Last thing i want is a fire hazard.  When we purchased the RV, it was plugged in and we walked through it and checked to make sure everything was working.  We also purchased it from the fire chief of the town next to us, and i really do not believe he would sell us an RV with a faulty electrical system knowing that we just lost our house to a  fire a few months ago. So i really don't think there is anything wrong with the campers electrical system, but i am unfamiliar with how it all works and do not feel comfortable leaving it plugged in if it is going to generate that kind of heat until i know for sure everything is fine.  So all that means is that although we have power, we still don't have power.
 It also means we will probably have to call out an electrician ourselves even though we hired the contractor so that we didn't have to deal with all this. Honestly, if it is this difficult (and expensive!!) just to get an camper set up, i am really dreading the house building process.

So yeah, that's where we are.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Getting back to Nature

Already it is beginning to feel as if the spring is almost over, and we seem to have missed it while being stuck in this limbo.  i had hoped to be spending most of my days at the RV, because spring is my absolute favorite season and i truly can not stand to miss it. 

We paid a contractor a pretty good chunk of money to get it all set up with electricity, water and plumbing.  Now almost 3 weeks later, we are still waiting.  The electric company brought out a temporary pole and stuck in the yard, but it is not hooked up to anything yet.  Nothing has been done with the water/septic.  We are waiting on a building inspector to approve the set up, so despite our plans to hook it up to the existing water/plumbing/electricity we are now finding out it may not be possible at all.  This really adds to the frustration we are already having in trying to come up with house plans and get started on our building project.  i feel as if the year is already slipping by, and we haven't gotten anywhere at all.  We have less than a week to be out of this house, and it looks like our summer of RV camping is going to be a bit more rustic than we anticipated. :(

i'm fine without the electricity, but the lack of water and plumbing can be a problem. We are already hauling 5-6 jugs of water to the property each day to make sure the animals all have fresh water to drink. Although the majority of my garden hasn't even been planted, i do have a few seedling and flowers that have to be watered daily.  When i am there working in the hot sun, i require a bit of extra water too. Not only for drinking, but after working in the garden i usually end up covered in mud from head to toe and have to clean up a bit before driving back to the house we are renting. So despite wanting to spend all day at the property, i am typically only there until the water runs out.

i truly enjoy my time at the property though, and still find myself blessed to be able to go 'home' even if it's only a couple of hours a day.  Each time i am there, i am reminded of why i love it and why it will always be home.  While working in the yard, the hummingbirds dart by.  The scarlet tanager sits in the tree across the road and sings it's heart out.

While moving a pile of compost, i spotted this little guy watching me from behind a tree stump.  i had no idea what it was, but snapped a quick picture and attempted to get a look at him. 

It's a blue tailed skink! 13 years at our property and i think this is the first time i have seen one here. 

While moving things around in the shed, a little wren kept popping in and the disappearing. So i knew she had a nest in here, i just didn't know where. i did a bit of investigating and realized there was a nest built inside this hard hat that it way up on the wall. 

i couldn't see inside the hat, but i  climbed up on the hay bales and stuck my camera in the top and took a picture. Then looked to see if there was anything in there...this is what i saw. :)  4 baby wrens.

While cleaning up one of the flower beds, i noticed this red spotted newt hiding under the twine.  We have several of these that live in the kids fairy garden. Sage is great at spotting them.

A hike down to the creek and we spotted this tiny baby opossum. The kids wanted to bring it home and raise it, but i have to assume it's mama was close by so we left it where we found it. It was only about the size of a hamster.  

Near one of my gardens a mama Brown Thrasher was making a ton of noise. i figured she must have had a nest in the rhododendrons.  So i peeked inside and saw these new babies.

Despite all that we have been through these last few months.This simple things can still make me smile and warm my heart and fill me with gratitude for this amazing place that we live. 

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life.  ~John Burroughs

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Glee Gum Natural Candy making kit review and Giveaway!

Have you heard of Glee gum? Glee Gum is all natural chewing gum made with sustainably harvested rainforest chicle. It comes in 8 great flavors and is the #1 healthy alternative to synthetic chewing gum and bubble gum! No artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners.  One of the things i love about Glee gum is that their sugar-free gum is made with xylitol, NOT aspartame!  All Glee Gum is: vegetarian, GMO free, additive free, dairy free, wheat free, gluten free, egg free, yeast free, nut free, peanut free, and soy free*. Sugar-free Glee Gum is also corn free.   Pretty cool, right? 

Not only does Glee make all natural chewing gum, but they also offer educational natural candy making kits.  

Make your own chewing gumgummies, and chocolate with DIY activity kits. Educational and eco-friendly, each kit comes with natural ingredients, simple instructions, and a brief history. They're designed to captivate your interest, connect you to the global community, and create something yummy to eat in the process. Fun for classrooms, kitchens, and birthday parties!  They also include lesson plans on their website, making the kits perfect for homeschoolers! 

A few years ago we made chocolate using one of the Glee Gum candy making kits!  It was a lot of fun and the chocolates were delicious. You can read about our experience here.  

This time the kids really wanted to try the Make your own gummies kit. The gummies are made using seaweed, rather than gelatin. So, my kids were really excited to try  it out!   The kit includes sour mix, colored and flavored sugar, powdered seaweed, seaweed, molding starch, instructions and the story of carrageenan.

The instructions are very simple. They can be made on the stovetop or microwave. All you have to do is wash the seaweed and boil it for a few minutes until the carrageenan is extracted. Then take out the seaweed itself, mix in the sugar, boil it again, pour it in the molds, and then add the sour mix! That's it - you have made your own yummy gummies!

The kit does not include molds, but instead uses molding starch so that you can make your own molds.  The directions suggested using very simple items to press into the starch. We tried legos and few other things.  They pretty much all came out looking the same.  If we were to do this again, i think we'd would just use a finger to make long lines in the molding starch, so our finished product would be gummy worms! 

After the gummies cooled, we rinsed them and then the kids placed them in a ziplock back with the sour mix, and coated them.  Both kids loved them! 

 The texture was soft and gel like, rather than chewy but that didn't bother them at all. The sour mix that we coated them in had a pretty good flavor.

  We really enjoyed the process of making gummies, and it was neat to learn the history and information about seaweed.  i really like these kits, not just because i have a sweet tooth and love the idea of natural candy...but because they really are fun and educational!

Want to make your own candy from scratch?

It’s easy with 3 fun activity kits!  You can purchase them at gift stores nationwide and online at

·         Make Your Own Chocolate
·         Make Your Own Chewing Gum
·         Make Your Own Gummies

Each kit includes natural ingredients, simple instructions, and info about the history and origins of familiar treats. Everyone aged 8 and up gets a real kick out of the process. (Younger children enjoy it too, with adult supervision.) Educational and eco-friendly, the kits are designed to captivate your interest, connect you to the global community, and create something yummy for you to eat!

Want to win one?

Glee gum generously offered  1 kit of the winner's choice (Make Your Own Chewing Gum, Gummies or Chocolate) to one of my lucky readers!  Contest is open to US mailing adresses only, please enter using the rafflecopter form below!

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Friday, May 17, 2013

In the garden again

Ever since this crazy adventure began, i knew i needed to get back to my garden. i garden year round, and try to still have fresh greens even when everything is covered in snow. This past fall i planted cold crops in plastic hoop houses, just made from pvc and greenhouse plastic.  They worked really well, and during January i was harvesting  a variety of lettuces, kale, Swiss chard and spinach.  i should have been able to harvest up until my new spring crops were planted and beginning to produce. 

Unfortunately, the heat of the fire was so intense that it completely destroyed my hoop houses, the plastic actually melted  to the ground killing everything that was growing underneath them.

During December i purchased 1/4 pound of spinach seed. So on one of the milder days i went out and planted a few more rows of spinach, hoping it be warm enough to germinate so that i could have early spinach. i planted it in a few different garden beds.  So after losing the hoop houses, i was beyond thrilled to see spinach coming up in some of the other beds.  My first thought was to plant more (since i had that huge bag of seeds) that is when it hit me.

 i lost all of my seeds.

All this time i had been trying to get back 'home', planning to plant my garden just like always, never even thinking about the seeds. Of course i can buy new seeds, i buy seeds year round like an addiction. However i also collect my own seeds, and i had a HUGE collection of specialty, rare and heirloom organic seeds that i have been growing/collecting for years. YEARS.  So yeah, that was a devastating realization.

 Throughout all of this, we have been blessed by the most amazing and generous people. So this is just a little shout out to my dear friends Anne and Bobbie, that both sent me seeds.  Anne sent a collection of seeds from Baker's Creek and Bobbie sent seeds from Botanical Interests.  i have several new varieties to  try out this year, and am excited to get them started.  i also found this beautiful seed box at Micheal's craft store, and slowly, slowing i am refilling it with new seeds.  It is so small, and empty compared to my old seed collection, but it is a start and this new start gives me hope.

i began planting again at the end of Feb. Despite the miserable cold, i went out any chance i could and began replanting. i put in new rows of kale, and lettuce and spinach. By the end of April i was harvesting fresh greens again.  This was a welcome change from what we had been eating. During the first few weeks after the fire, i had very little desire to eat or cook. We ate a lot of quick and instant food, veggie burgers frozen pizza, boxed mac and cheese.  So being able to harvest home grown veggies from my garden was really a treat.

i was a little worried that the asparagus might have been killed by the intense heat from the fire. Although the bed isn't right next to the house, it is near where the hoop houses were that melted.  My rhubarb plant which was in the same bed, and had already begun to come in January was totally killed.  So i was so relieved when the asparagus began to appear.   

The peas are beginning to climb.  The spinach behind it, planted in Dec. is already beginning to bolt. The spring has been strange this year, starting off colder than normal and now i fear it may jump straight into summer. 

We usually plant 30-50lbs of potatoes.  This year, we probably will not have anywhere to store excess food.   So this gives us the opportunity to play around a bit, and grow things we wouldn't normally grow.  i wanted to grow purple potatoes last year in my purple garden but never did. This year i am planting them, along with the regular red and white potatoes. i won't be growing as much as i usually do, but we should end up with a fun variety and have plenty to share with neighbors.

i put in the purple podded pole beans again. These beans are wonderful and produce beans all summer long.  i planted some along the fence in my front garden, and once i get new bamboo tee-pees set up, i grow some in the main garden as well as scarlet runners.  i'm not going to mess around with too many bush beans this year and will instead save that space for something else.

i feel incredibly behind this year. i was unable to start any seeds indoors, and just this week finally got my potato bed and main garden tilled.  We had a frost come through just a few days ago and so i haven't gotten any tomatoes or sweet potatoes in yet. This weekend i plant to spend a lot of time planting, and cleaning up the remaining beds.  i keep thinking that this years garden with be small and simple since i probably won't be canning or storing food...and yet i'm already looking at ways to expand it. :)

"I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring.  Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature's rebirth?"
-  Edward Giobbi 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Simplifying a Simple Life.

So we are about to embark on a somewhat crazy journey. In just a couple weeks, we will be packing up everything (not that we have a whole lot) into storage and moving into this 260 sq ft RV.  This will be our home until our new house is built.  We are anticipation being in the RV approx. 10-14 months. 
i hope to be able to document the journey and share some of the challenges and benefits that come with small space living.  Although i have always considered our life to be  very simple, it is about to get a whole lot simpler. 

We looked at a ton of RVs, checked craigslist daily, and drove all over SWVA (and sometimes NC) to look at them. We decided on this one.  It is a  1999, 30' Dutchman Supreme.  It is a little older than some of the others we looked at but it has so much more space and was still within our price range.  The Supreme has higher ceilings, which is really nice for my super tall husband. It has a master's cabin in the front with a queen size bed, a closet and lots of cabinets.  It also has bunkbeds for the kids. We'll be hooking it up to the existing septic, electricity and water.  So although it will be simple living, we'll still have some modern conveniences...including internet. :) 

The RV has a little kitchen with a gas stove/oven and a microwave.  It's a small space though, and i don't really see myself cooking up too many elaborate meals.  During the summer i'm expecting we will be cooking over the fire quite often. i'd like to get a tripod and some cast iron so i can cook directly over the fire. We should probably start looking for a grill as well, and start collection some vegetarian grill/campfire recipes. 

This is the view from the sofa. i can look right out into my garden.  Up the steps is the masters cabin, and the bar stools are up against the kitchen counter. It's really a nice space. i expect that in the summer we will spend very little time inside it, and during the winter we'll be playing a lot of board games. :)

Right now, the packing has begun. We were able to secure an extra month at this house, so we do not officially move into the RV until June 1st. We are slowly beginning to pack and move things over.
Kenan will be going to Canada for a glass expo near the end of the month, so i am trying to make sure we are 75% packed before that. Despite losing absolutely everything 3 months ago, we have managed to acquire a lot of stuff in a very short amount of time, due to the extreme generosity of so many people.  So much of our stuff will be moved into storage, and we will each get to bring one box of belongings into the RV.  The other items will be in storage either at Kenan's shop or in our shed, so we will be able to access them now and again to get different clothing or swap out toys, books etc.

So if you were limited to one small box of belongings, besides the obvious like toothbrushes and underwear  what would you keep?  Because i lost most everything that had sentimental value, my box will probably contain mainly practical items. Craft supplies of course, a few books, garden seeds, a jar of acorn caps, a journal and a few of the really special  handmade gifts i was recently given.

i do have a bit of apprehension about spending a year in such a small space.  However, i know it will be good for us to be back on our own land, back in our own space and i really think it will be a good experience and lesson in simplicity for all of us.

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.  ~William Morris

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Nature Walks.

Spring is my absolute favorite time of year. After what felt like the longest winter in history, i was so very ready for spring to finally arrive. i've been outside almost every day hiking, wandering the woods and digging in my garden!  Exploring the woods and looking for wildflowers is one of my favorite activities.

Bloodroot is one of the first to appear. We've also been seeing a lot of wood violets, anemones and star chickweed.

Trillium is another favorite. This deep crimson comes up everywhere. It is sometimes called Wake Robin or Stinking Benjamin. :)  i have transplanted trillium in white, pink and yellow onto our property in hopes of getting them to spread. 

Jack in the pulpit. This one is always fun to find! Such an unusual plant.

i also came across this interesting plant for the first time. It's called Largeflower Heartleaf and it's a type of wild ginger! The flowers are small and hidden near the ground so i've never really noticed them before. Now that i've identified it, i'm finding the plants every where!

So i admit, i like finding morels much more than i like eating them. They are tasty, but for me the fun is in the hunt!  Earlier this week the kids and i hiked all over the woods looking for morels, but didn't find any.  On our way back through the yard i spotted this lone morel about 5 feet from the garden. :)  

i can't wait to go out this weekend and hunt for more. We have a couple secret spots we like to check, and this is definitely the weekend to do it!

So it's been three months since our house fire, and i am just now starting to feel a bit like myself again. Getting out of this house, and be able to dig in the dirt and hike has really helped to lift our spirits. 

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.  ~John Muir

Friday, May 3, 2013

Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Oil Giveaway!

If you have been following my blog for a while, then you know we love coconut oil!!  Coconut oil makes a nice replacement for butter or other oils in recipes since it is such a healthy oil. Plus, it adds a touch of sweetness and a hint of coconut flavor and is delicious!

One of the major producers and suppliers of coconut oil is Tropical Traditions. Their Gold Label coconut oil is all-natural and certified organic. Plus it tastes fabulous!
If you’ve always wanted to try coconut oil or even if you already have, but would like to try some Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil for free, then here is your chance.

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz.

Win 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer.

You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

You can purchase Tropical Traditions Gold Label coconut oil here. If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and i will receive a discount coupon for referring you.
Tropical Traditions has generously offered one of my readers a quart jar of their Coconut oil!
TO ENTER - Please subscribe to the Tropical Traditions Newsletter and enter using the rafflecopter form below. You may have to wait a minute for it to load.
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Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Novica Mother's Day Gift Guide and Giveaway!

Novica is one of the leading fair trade artisan websites. They work with National Geographic to give talented artisans around the world a place to express their artistic talents and provide access to the world market.

i have always been drawn to unique artwork and clothing from other countries. However, once i became aware that many times artists are not
paid a fair wage for the product i became hesitant to buy many imports.

Novica provides fair trade products made by artisans around the globe.
They want you to know who you're buying from, to feel an attachment to the product, and to the hands that created it. One of my favorite features on the Novica site is that there is an artist story at the bottom of every product. So, you can see the artists who are actually making the items. When you purchase an item from Novica, an artisan card is included with each item.

What makes a Mother's Day gift bought from a NOVICA artisan so special? 

In addition to each gift being handmade with care and attention, it's the human factor behind a NOVICA gift that really counts. Every purchase provides meaningful income for an individual artisan. This brings stability to their family, and helps Moms around the world to give their children the best start in life. 

 You can use the Gift-Finder  to search specifically for Gifts for Mom.  You can also narrow down your search by price, region or select categories like jewelry, sculpture, home decor, clothing, handbags, religious gift, vases and more. You can even search by the type of personality, favorite interests,  Eco-friendly and specific occasions!  It really breaks it down and helps you to find the perfect gift for every mother!

Thanks to the generous folks at NOVICA, One of my reader will win a $50 online  Gift Code to shop at  !!  
Please enter using the rafflecopter form below. 

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Disclosure: Novica provided me with a gift code to use and one to giveaway. In exchange for a blog post about their Mother's Day Gift Finder. All opinions are my own.   

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

This House

So i realize that most of my recent posts revolve around the house we lost and our property.  Although we are settled into this rental house, it is just that...a house. We continue to travel back and forth between the two properties several times a day. Now that the sun has returned i am spending more and more time at the property.  i often leave here at around 10-11am. i work in the garden or take the dogs hiking, and then pick the kids up from  school at 2:30pm, then we come back to the property and stay until 5-6pm.  So although we are here at this house, our land/property is still home.

i usually refer to this place as 'the house' but i occasionally slip up when we are out and ask the kids if they are ready to go home. They are always quick to correct me, "you mean the 'house' ? It's not home."

We are here at this house for another month though, so we won't officially move 'home' until the kids are out of school for summer vacation. There has been so much change already this year, i didn't want to have to move them again during the school year. On June first, we will begin the next leg of our adventure in an RV while our new home is being built.

Although this place has never felt like home, i will be a little sad to say goodbye.  i thought for sure i would freeze to death in the house during the winter, but now that spring is here i am enjoying it more and finding it to be a peaceful place. There are flowering trees and flowers everywhere.  It is set way off of the road, which is dirt so there is no traffic.  There are no woods here, only cow fields and i can let the kids play outside unsupervised with very little worry.  

The Sweetland dairy  is in our backyard.  The folks that rent us this house also lease the land to the Dairy. The cows spend all day grazing on the lush green grassy fields and walk themselves to the barn when it's milking time. Earlier this spring there were 4 or 5 new calves born.  i could look out the window to watch the new calves chasing each other around the field.  Whenever i went out to try and get pictures of them, the babies would hide themselves behind the mama cow and peek out at me. They are too sweet.

The cows are such gentle creatures and we love to walk out and see them. They are just as curious about us, and a few of them will come close enough to let us pet them. i have come to enjoy walking out the front door and mooing at the cows and having them moo back in response. :)

Yesterday when we were outside playing in the yard, we noticed little piggies in the field behind the dairy barn.  We of course had to go see them. They had been put onto a  fenced patch of grassy field, and had turned up all of the ground with their noses rooting around for stuff. 

They were really funny to watch. Their little curled tails were wagging like puppies and they were running and rooting all over the area. This is just a temporary pen for them, and they will eventually be moved into one of the fields. 

We watched the piggies for a quite a while and laughed at their silliness.  Although we are only a few miles from our property, the scenery here is quite different.  Our home is surrounded by woods, but there is nothing but open space here. This house is surrounded by cow fields, and there are fields of horses across the road.  In the evening we sit out and watch the barn swallows, bluebirds and hummingbirds.  There is also a pair of red bellied woodpeckers that peck at the tree right outside the living room window. 

Earlier this week  i saw eastern meadowlarks for the first time popping up in the grassy fields and a few weeks before that i saw a large barn owl sitting in a tree in one of the cow fields.

i have really just started to take pictures of this house, or rather the land around it.  The cows, the birds, the flowers.   The things that connect us to this place. We will look back at these photos and remember this house as a safe place. As a place where we came to heal and grow. 

i hope that we look back on our pictures and remember the joy and beauty that we found here rather than the circumstances that brought us to this place. 

“For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Return of the King