Wood Stove Installed!

Ch installed a wood stove in the living room.

It’s so pretty.

I catch myself just looking at it.

wood stove

As you can see, there are a few bits I need to touch up with stain, and some ash to clean up beneath the door, but it’s so pretty and it did such a good job keeping us warm last night, I just had to post. It took a long time to get to this point and we’re so glad to be here.

The Earth Stove is a vintage 1970’s model with a goldenrod ceramic shield in the center of the removable door. It the quickest wood stove we’ve ever had: It can boil a pot of water, from first spark to rolling bubbles, in half an hour. Although you can’t see it in this picture, it has an adjustable, outside air, intake damper. It has a flue damper too, so we can control the draft, either increasing or decreasing the rate of burn.

The bricks are beautiful gray and natural reddish, king bricks, set with natural colored mortar. The process was a mess but well worth it!

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At the same time, we also venetian textured the walls. Venetian texture requires the application of many layers of colored plaster. We went with a neutral light gray, lighter than the mortar but not a stark white, despite our minimalist leanings.ย  We’re thinking about adding vertical boards for the traditional waddle and daub construction look, but it’s just a thought at this point!ย  Honestly I’m glad the stove project is coming to a close. It was a lot of work, but well worth it!

Pumpkin Processing on Thanksgiving Day

Phew, what a day.ย  Before the day is over I just wanted to extend a thank-you to you, for following this blog, for your likes, for your comments, for your shares. It’s not an old blog, or a big blog, it’s not shiny, glittery, or sparkly, but it is very real. Thank-you, for keeping it real with me.

Although I’m tired, in many ways this Thanksgiving was less stressful than previous years. We didn’t go anywhere, nor did we host a gigantic feast. Instead we stayed home, worked, and ate as needed. Ha, sounds like a prescription for happiness doesn’t it!? That minimalist thing, in respect to saying no to self-imposed appointments is really nice. We may have found a new two-part Thanksgiving tradition! Step 1 – Stay Home. Step 2 – Be Happy!

Being *almost* out-of-words tired, here are five captioned pictures that summarize the work and joy of today, here, in our neck of the woods. ๐Ÿ™‚

Step 1: Peel the pumpkin.
Step 1: Peel the pumpkin.
Step 2: Gut the pumpkin, reserving seeds for roasting, or planting, or the chickens, or the compost... but don't just throw them away!
Step 2: Gut the pumpkin, reserving seeds for roasting, or planting, or the chickens, or the compost… but don’t just throw them away!
Step 3: Bake pumpkin at 300F for 10 minutes, then cut into chunks.
Step 3: Bake hollowed pumpkin at 300 degrees F for 10 minutes, then cut into chunks.
Step 4: Shred pumpkin with food processor. I am so thankful for this handy-dandy, most amazing, kitchen appliance from my late father-in-law. It saved me umpteen hours today.
Step 4: Feed pumpkin to food processor with shredder attachment. Every time I say ‘shredder’ I have a TMNT flashback. Who’s with me? It can’t be just me! Anywho – I am so thankful for this handy-dandy, most amazing, kitchen appliance from my late father-in-law. This food processor saved me umpteen hours today. After shredding, transfer pumpkin in freezable containers. We went with 2cup and 4cup ziplocks because they take up less space in the freezer than tupperware containers.
Step 5: Eat pumpkin casserole and roasted broccoli-beets will vegging out on the couch with exhausted family. :)
Step 5: Eat pumpkin casserole and roasted broccoli-beets while vegging out on the couch with exhausted family. ๐Ÿ™‚

Four of these b&w pictures are on instagram, in brilliant color, in their own little one post layout. If you wanted to check them out, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit. ๐Ÿ™‚

Until next time,

โ… Happy Holidays โ…

A Chicken Heater + Pumpkins = Eggs

Now that we are getting blissfully cool nights the chickens need a heater. After much research and deliberation S decided on a simple design.

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Of course this design would work with an unbroken cinder block, too, haha, but seriously, we are thinking about chiseling the remainder off to maximize the interior coop space. S built and installed the heater two nights ago and the ladies seem pleased!

img_20161110_142827ย ย  img_20161110_142659ย ย  img_20161110_142931We got extra eggs the following morning, one from each of the hens! Although – full disclosure – production may have peaked because they ate a pumpkin. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Our pumpkin patch has proliferated and we have over a dozen on the vine. We foresee continual harvest until the first frost, which may happen any day now, or not until February. Thanks climate change, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal. My mother-in-law grew up in Pennsylvania and every year she spoke fondly of frost on pumpkins. I was pretty confused about why that would be exciting until she shared her pumpkin cookie and cream cheese frosting recipe. Yum. But we’ll save that for another day. Until then, soak up some fall sunshine and smile at the bounty of your life. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Election Day

My fellow Americans,

Am I the only one who hears the Imperial March whenever I think about tonight’s results? Or maybe it’s throw back Tuesday and I’m hearing It’s the end of the world as we know it by R.E.M.

If you haven’t voted yet, do it while there is still time. There are a number of state and local elections taking place, and state questions to answer. Your voice does matter.

Get out and get to it.

Is this your country or isn’t it?

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Minimalism and Homeschooling

It is even possible to practice minimalism while homeschooling? There is one blogger who embraces this idea – Anne, The Minimalist Homeschooler. I like what she has to say about the subject, and her blog made me think about my own little homeschooling + minimalism journey.

There are so many elements that shape a homeschooling home that one post could never cover everything. Even if a writer captured all the details of their homeschooling experience the post would be unique to that family, in that situation, at that time on their journey. No one can step in the same river twice.

With that in mind I’ve prepared a list of four things to consider about minimalism and this version of homeschooling – all under the same roof.

  1. In the US, record keeping requirements vary from state to state. That plays a big factor in to what you have to keep and what homeschooling items you can recycle. Here in our state we have very lax requirements. I keep digital files – journalesque posts and loosely gradebook-ish records on another blog, and only the kids’ very favorite art related items in the real world. It is nice to celebrate their creativity in a minimalist space. There is nothing already on the walls to distract us from the nuances of their creations.
  2. As kids age the academic related collection of stuff they gather and produce changes. Little and Middle kids have art galore and educational toys, while Older kids have moved on to specialized areas of interest that produce child specific academic-ish related collections of stuff. My daughter has a million journals, a couple of guitars, pretty pens, watercolors, polished rocks, homemade costumes, and whittling-ready pieces of wood. My son, on the other hand, has only one collection; new and used computer parts in Rubbermaid bins. Neither of the kids are really into the whole minimalism thing. My daughter’s favorite decor period is Baroque, and my son loves the hacker/spy + pets aesthetic. Minimalism is really only my thing. The good news about homeschooling though, isย  personalization. It’s okay that they are not on the less-is-more bandwagon. They have their bedrooms to house all the areas of interest they explore.
  3. The books.ย  Books are part of every homeschooling family, to one degree or another. Only recently have I attempted to wean the shelves of baby, toddler, and early childhood books. We don’t read them. Minimalist ideology advises separation from the emotional sentimentality that leads to saving no longer useful or otherwise unsightly things – even books steeped in baby memories to say nothing of the more official textbooks. It’s my current hurdle. The kids have gone through the shelves and selected their favorite childhood books and taken them to their room so that helps. But as a book lover myself, I have raised two more book lovers – and discussions of book weeding do not get very far before we devolve into “remember when.” coffeeAlso – having been born in the pre-digital age – I see the books as wealth, and who wants to give away wealth!?!ย  No answers have presented themselves in regard to books. Good news is – both homeschooling and minimalism are processes and states of being that encourage change. So as long as I adhere to the K.I.S.S. method, it’s all good.
  4. General activity mess. Homeschooling in this house is dynamic and fluid with random and unexpected bursts of messy activity. That’s how we learn. The mess and I made peace a long time ago. Although some minimalist houses are squeaky clean, mine is not. However, it’s worth noting that minimalist spaces recover more quickly from spur-of-the-moment experiments, piles of wood shavings, or spilled laptop screws.

This list is far from comprehensive, and I’m sure more clashes will appear between homeschooling and minimalism in the future, but that’s okay. Until then, homeschooling will continue to shape our heretical life, and I’ll strive to keep it simple.