What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Changing Seasons

Last night was an October sky: the vibrant orange, then pink, then purple cascading over mountains and trees and bathing everything and everyone in gold and it was then that I realized summer was over. Moreso than the dying garden, the cold barefeet, the morning shivers and the crinkling leaves, that one magnificent sky opened my eyes to it.

Everywhere around me I see signs of the changing seasons.

The chickens are molting; the rooster has only one proud arched feather in back to strut around. The garden is taking its' last gasping breathes before dying an October death. My basil finally gave in. Warm breakfasts are preferred to cold. My typical barefeet seem constantly chilled.

The responsibilities of a new baby. A family of six. Two "schooled" children, instead of one. Trying in vain to lose baby weight, 30 pounds of it.

My blog is quiet for weeks at a time.

Life happens; moments, days and seasons change right under my sniffing nose. I really don't intend upon staying away from Renaissance for so long, but the longer I stay away, the easier it becomes~ which is surprising, even to me. When I begin to worry that no one will want to visit this blog if I stay away for a week at a time, I take a breath and comfort myself knowing that even still, all is as it should be because life OUGHT to take precedence over recording memories. A life lived is more important than a life preserved for posterity.

So I will be here when I can, and only then; and you faithful few, who continue to visit despite my absences are the visits I will cherish most of all.

October and this new season of Newman~ I am finally ready for you.

Allow me to catch myself up:


* the leaves not only began to change but began what MUST have been their color peak. Alas, I didn't have my camera the day I noticed and the next day (and since) it has rained, knocking vibrance to the ground to be trod upon.

* we made grand messes in the kitchen

* I made the most delicious peanut butter swirl cookies and then gave them all away.

* I thanked the me I was a few months ago, the girl who popped some extra pie crust into the freezer after making a double batch for no reason. Chicken Potpie is made so much faster when the dough is right there handy.

* A Judah-party was given by my sister. It was too fun to take pictures of.

* I greedily have taken hourly sniffs in the neck of my delicious boy

* I have become so frustrated with life that I could have screamed countless times. Oh-that's right. I DID scream. Ironically, it is the life that is lived outside these four walls that infuriates me so.

* I have begun walking/jogging-methinks in part to counteract said frustrations. Unfortunately, ice cream has also been consumed for the same reasons.

* School has officially started and been eased into, and somewhere along the line I got myself a new student. Our school days aren't all that I have planned for them to be just yet, but I am happily confident that it will be before too long.

*I discovered a boy who scribbled a few months ago has turned into quite the perfectionist recently!

* My Judah boy has finally begun consistently giving me a full nights' sleep, the latest all-night sleeper I have had to date but admittedly, still blessedly young.

* I cleaned the childrens' room (with their help). No more stinky socks hanging out in toy baskets or dust bunnies under the bed.

* Began the exhausting chore of changing summer to fall clothing out. Two oldest children are complete. One more child and two adults to go.

* Watched a girl fall on her forehead no less than five times.

* we added more animals to our ever expanding farm. This time, RABBITS. I won't tell you what is in store for their babies, I don't feel comfortable with it at all.

* Bugs of all kinds have come inside to find themselves in the comfort of home. (I don't feel comfortable with this, either.)

* Tried to savor the last of my own tomatoes. Salads daily. Bruschetta tonight. Soon those garden garnets will be gone and things won't be the same without them.

* Handmedown knits have made their appearances.

* leaf piles are the newest game. When it isn't raining cats and dogs.

* I remembered what it was like to fall asleep in a perfectly tidy bedroom. Sweeter dreams were my reward for hard work.

* Matt and I went to visit a struggling brother sans older children. The visit was tragic and sweet, all rolled into one.

* had a princess help with pears

* admired Oma's threadbare apron, buried in gold

* Our winter-wood got all split, much of it as a surprise to us by Matts' dad. ?!?! Wonderful man!

* Made stovetop kettle corn. Delicious.

* Got into John Taylor Gatto's head once more, always an enlightening trip.

* Did a Senior session

*Laughed at how babies suck any bare skin available to them~ no matter that it is an arm or a shoulder or a neck.

* It has been (and still is) raining torrents.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


We got the grapes done on Saturday. 60 pounds of 'em. Drinking antioxidant-rich grape juice during the winter months is not only a treat, but an immune booster to boot. It is good for you.

Instead of last years' wash and pluck method (in which you add 3/4 cup of sugar for every four cups of water (boiled for five minutes). Pour into jars, adding about 1 1/2 cups grapes per jar). Process for 15 minutes in boiling water bath. Let cure for several weeks and strain grapes when ready to drink.) I decided to use Matt's handy dandy fruit press for the job.

Last years' work was tedious, I recall. Not as tedious as peeling and seeding them, but tedious enough.

All hands were on deck to help.

Fresh tastes, all around...

...which made this little ones' hands keep reaching for more juice instead of helping with the grapes.

Eventually, that had to be nixed.

We used a clean sheet for the "strainer", just as we do with apples. But with the grapes, there was still a lot of squirtage. (yes, I made that word up.) Methinks we need to modify the design a bit, making a shield of some sort. Or just plan on showers for all afterward.

Last year I had 56 pounds of grapes and made 56 quarts of juice. But, with that canning method, most of the jar was water.

This year, 60 pounds of grapes yielded just-shy of 22 pints ( more without the fresh tastes taken) of pure juice concentrate. YUM-O. Pure goodness (and saves space in my ever-filling canning cupboard!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Closer Look: The Canning Cupboard

This man, during his few days off, started a project for ME....

...that turned into this cupboard....

...which when opened, looks like this....

....which holds lots of these....

Approximately 320 some quarts, I think it is.

I love that the shelves are just big enough for quarts-no wasted space-and that the jars that had begun piling up around my smaller canning shelf (and along the walls in random rooms and basements) now have a SPOT. A place for everything and everything in its' place.

At least until this one fills up. Which it nearly has---and I haven't even gotten to the pears or apples. Or any of the meat I plan to can.

It's a beautiful sight. To me, anyway.

Thank you Mattie.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Multitude Monday

Always more moments in life to be filled with gratitude, always more beautiful moments to notice:

#534~ clear water with ice cubes, plunked

#535~ husband-made spaghetti

#536~ A new family read-aloud, just begun

#537~ Smooch, all snuggled in

#538~ first week of school, over

#539~ a child-made firepole under a canopy of grapes

#540~ childhood innovation

#541~ a garden, still green

#542~ tomatoes, more. lots more. (This IS a good thing, right?)

#543~ the sharp points of newly sharpened pencils

#544~ the smell of mulch

#545~ scrap pans for pigs. Absolutely NO waste on this place.

#546~ the smell of these lovelies when you walk into the front room. Way better than YANKEE.

#547~blue eyes turning brown

#548~ hot showers

#549~ baby breathing

#550~ the little blonde waif running about

#551~ the last Rose of summer, a surprise gift

#552~ little fingers that wrap around my own without even knowing it

#553~ elastic waistbands, thank goodness!!

#554~ sun rays splotched through cloud shadows

#555~ hours, lined up on a shelf

#556~ shelves to line hours ON

#557~ bananagram lunches

#558~ homemade bruschetta, oh.so.good

#559~ a visit with Gram, introductions

#560~ a day of Baptism, Judah's

#561~ crisply ironed clothes, laying flat on Saturday night. Preparing for the Sabbath.

# 562~ washing with water

# 563~ He who calls himself the Bread of Life and the True Vine

#564~ feasting on His bread and His wine each week

#565~ a wee girl who spreads her skirt wide and waits to partake of the bread, patiently staring at it as if it will run away.

#566~ a boy whose happy face is a scowl

#533 ~ #566 bits of my amazingly beautiful life. Thank you, Father.

holy experience


Thanks so much for all the input on birth announcement survey. Looks to me like we are agreed. The green shot won out in the end, which is just the one I was leaning towards.


Because I stumbled across this four year old photo of Judah's lookalike, back when Andrew was my little Panda. awwww....memories. The likeness just tickled my fancy, even down to them holding their hands similarly. Sweet babies.

Andrew's birth announcement photo:

I was surprised by all the anti-cord feedback I got. Never in a million years would I have thought a cord would gross people out. Even my mother called to say YUCK. She even suggested I put a silver dollar or something over it---ha!

Honestly, since that little black plug is the only thing proving that my 3-month old sized child is indeed a newborn, I wanted it in the photo. It stays on for such a short time, I wanted to capture it while I could. The newborn essence.

But, on the other hand, it is good to know that it grosses some people out. Wouldn't want my birth announcement to illicit vomiting around the globe. :-)


Lots of things to share, but alas, school must be done. Egg dishes to wash. A fireman to oversee (the four year old kind). A baby to nurse. You know, things like that. If I get all my ducks in a row---you might see me twice today.

Here's hoping...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Two Weeks

Two week s old today. *sigh*

Here are the "keeper" shots of Monday's photo-therapy session. :-)

The above cocoon was one of the pre-baby projects I ran out of time to share. I knit it myself, though I am still not a confident knitter. I think the big huge holes made it easy to think I could hide my mistakes.

My friend Nanci made up a preliminary pattern for me that I sized down a wee bit. (Thank you again Nanci! I am so happy to have this photo-prop, since hydrangea hats and handkerchief bonnets are out of the question...)

Stocking caps were another pre-baby project I wanted to create, but I never could find a crochet pattern for them. All I ever found were knit, which I have to learn how to do well one of these days!

In the meantime, I found an Etsy seller with great prices, a sweet personality (yes, that matters to me!) and quick delivery (and incidentally, free shipping!) which says a lot since she is from IRELAND. Yowza. I now own hats from Ireland. How cool is that?!?

So I used some of my saved church-cleaning money and splurged. I consider it a business investment anyway. (You'll see why very soon...)

You must check out her Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/justynajustyna

I LOVE the bright colors of the aqua and red. That is one of my all-time favorite color combinations. EVER.

But I really love the creamy soft and calming green and white one too.

Now here is my dilemma. I can't chose a favorite!

I need a picture for birth announcements and a picture for thank you notes. (You didn't think I could send MAIL without pictures, did you?!? Here is a secret: I even make my own photo return address labels. I am that pathetic. And now you know.)

So my question is: are any of these suitable and/or which would be best for which?

Or maybe I should rethink the birth announcement and have a photo that you can see Judah's hair in. Do birth announcements do better with upclose head shots or full body shots? Eyes opened or closed? Cute hats or hair? Am I thinking too hard on this? (wait. Don't answer that one.)

So if ya wanna~ I'd love to hear your opinion. And if you wanna cast your vote, you can take this handy-dandy two question survey I created! (Aren't I getting all high-tech?!?!)

What think ye???


A few outtakes from the other days' little photoshoot. A real photographer wouldn't show outtakes, and would certainly NEVER show outtakes before the nicer shots. But that's me, ever swimming against the tide.

Keeping it real, as it were.

From my last post, sounds like people like "real" but if ever I get TOO real, you will let me know, won't you? :-)

These shots crack me up.

First there is the Baby Washington shots~ all I can see is a boy wearing a wig. It isn't a wig, mind you, but knowing that doesn't change anything at all. It is actually a baby cocoon type-thingy. Similar to this one:

Obviously, this one is way too big. Which says a lot considering my boy was half grown upon arrival. Maybe someday I will have some more twins to photograph, but in the meantime I think this wrap will have to be shelved. Pity, too. I liked that yarn. (I bought two skeins of it at a yard sale for .10!)

Then there are the inevitable body functions of a newborn:

...and worst yet: any mother knows what a face like this means~

~and trust me, it ain't a pretty sight to a photographer worried about the white furry blanket snuggling against that naked bum.

And then there are photos like this, that lend themselves perfectly to games.

QUICK! How many chins can you count?!?

How many chins does one boy need?!? He takes after his Mama.

Finally~ for those back in the days of Foto Friday who would say how much they liked "behind the scenes" shots: This one is for you:

The lighting was horrible because it was too cold outside to be naked (rats) and the only sunny-ENOUGH window was TOO sunny (creating harsh shadows and light) so the only "good lighting" shots were taken when the sun momentarily slipped behind a cloud. Not too bad a deal when the weather is 98 degrees and comfy to be naked in. Quite a different story on a 70 degree day.

Judah was a very good sport.

The very professional setup is a fabric remnant on top of a beanbag on top of my vanity, next to my bedroom window.