Author Archives: Barbara

About Barbara

nestled into my adopted home state of Maine, where I'm a happy homesteader with a big family that I love lots & lots

in the past month …

It’s been a jam-packed month but I’m happy with my finish of Heartstring Samplery’s “Weaver’s Shuttle.” I’ve stitched this on a lovely piece of of HDF linen (I am so sad her linen won’t be available forever and ever … it’s so buttery and wonderful to work on) using Silk N Colors Cypress Umber, Sun King, and Kildeer Nest. The chart didn’t call for the bands of color, but I like it this way. For the Sun King, I used two over two, but the rest is one over two.

Weaver's Shuttle, by Heartstring Samplery

Weaver’s Shuttle, by Heartstring Samplery

I’ve been busy with work and school. On the workfront, I’ve finally had my state-certified course to become an HIV and HCV tester. There aren’t many testers in this part of the state, so I’m looking forward to helping provide better coverage for the people living here. During the course, I had the pleasure of being able to stay with my Dad as well. Needless to say, I didn’t get any studying done, but I’d tried to prepare pretty well in advance. ;) For school, finals are looming and I’m feeling like I might possibly have three functioning brain cells left. Thank heavens that after the summer semester, I will pretty much be finished with coursework and can concentrate on my work in the field. The doing as opposed to the studying, LOL.

We had a great Easter! There were still heaps and piles and drifts of snow on Easter day so we had an egg hunt in the living room.

Easter 2015

Easter 2015

It made me nostalgic for when Max was very little and we lived in an apartment – that Easter he was so excited to find the eggs in our tiny apartment. He’s a whopping big 17 year old now …. not quite sure where the time went. He just celebrated his birthday a little over a week ago. No pictures to share, but as tall as he is now, I’d only be able to catch the angle under his chin and up his nose anyway. ;)

Also on Easter Day, we made the trek to pick up our new family member. Faith is a +/- 2 year old mixed breed (but featuring some Lab, Rottie, and Shepherd) rescue dog. She’s brought new life to Lola, and we are all absolutely smitten by her sweetness. <3

Lola and Faith meet each other

Coming home from that training workshop the other day, I decided to take a new road and wound up falling in love with this part of the world all over again. I took a few pictures to share the beauty.

Jonesboro tinted



Thanks for visiting. I hope all is well in your corner of the world, too. :)

even if winter never ends

photogenic kids

When is the snow ever going to melt, the temp go above freezing, and something that actually looks & feels like spring settle over us? It’s been a long winter and the seed catalogs just aren’t giving me a strong enough fix. ;)

Niek succummbed, briefly, to a flu-like thing and spent most of the day in bed. When he came upstairs late this afternoon and joined us in the living room, the kitties were quick to show him how much they missed him. That’s all five of them on him at once. (We still “have” Spin, but he lives down the road with a quiet widow. We’re keeping him up on his vet stuff, etc. but it’s been quite awhile since he’s spent any time with us.)

kitty blanket

Lola is getting used to being the solo canine, but I think she’s lonely. I have begun following canine rescue sites and expect we will eventually be a two-dog family again at some point in the future.

arden and lola

Rowen has been having fun with my camera. Every time I upload photos, I find dozens that I didn’t take … I really like this one. <3

cool hipsta chick

I have done a little bit of stitching here and there. Not as much as I would like to, but A Weaver’s Shuttle by Heartstring Samplery is slowly coming together. I’m pretty pleased with it.

AWeaversShuttle WIP

Thanks for visiting!

no use pretending

Dogs can smell
fear and also love with perfect accuracy.
There is no use pretending with them.
Nor do they pretend. If a dog is happy
or sad or nervous or bored or ashamed
or sunk in contemplation, everybody knows it.
They make no secret of themselves.

(excerpted from If feeling isn’t in it by John Brehm)

We miss Rigby, but life goes on. Lola seems completely unruffled by his absence – but much like Pooh Bear, she is a dog of very little brain. She gets extra grooming, and Rowen is trying to teach her some simple tricks. Niek made the mistake of feeding her from his hand, something she’s never been able to do reliably, and I had the opportunity to practice my nursing skills. We take her on longer walks, as she has always had more energy. Today she attempted to herd the single sheep, who nervously rammed her and then fled in terror of his momentary bravery. The hogs were unimpressed.

Lola, after being meticulously groomed by Rowen

Lola, after being meticulously groomed by Rowen

Mother Nature has continued to dump historic quantities of snow on us. Much like making lemonade from undesired lemons, we attempt to find humor in the heaps and piles and mounds and drifts of snow that surround us.

King of the Mountain - Arden is up to the garage roof

King of the Mountain – Arden is up to the garage roof

Our second to last storm gave us a wetter snow, from which Rowen and I made a few snowmen. This one is Rowen’s.

Parson Brown

Parson Brown

While it is very beautiful, I have to admit that I’m feeling pretty done with it.

I think we live in Narnia

I think we live in Narnia

I think cabin fever has set in. It’s hard to concentrate on my homework and I find myself doing inexplicably goofy things like making bunny years on the kitten when Rowen is trying to take pictures. LOL. (Ignore how exhausted I look, please!)

kitty, or bunny?

kitty, or bunny?

Somehow, I have managed to finish my Birds of a Sampler project and am now eager to get it framed and hung. The photo doesn’t really do it justice – the colors are much nicer IRL. I’d have to say that I like this design about as well as I like anything I’ve ever stitched.

Counting Magpies by Birds of a Feather

Counting Magpies by Birds of a Feather

Wishing you and yours wellness and happiness! Thank you for visiting. :)

into that good night

We said goodbye to Rigby, our faithful companion of nearly a decade, this past Monday. When I came into the kitchen Monday morning, I saw that he’d been terribly sick and appeared to be shaking. Closer examination quickly showed that he’d had a stroke and was having mini seizures. He wasn’t in pain and didn’t appear to be distressed (other than by the sick-up all over the floor, which I quickly told him was okay).

We spent the day loving him up, filling him with the goodness that he shared unstintingly with us for all these years, with the understanding that at the end of the day we would take him to the vet to be put to sleep. We wanted his transition to be marked by love, for him to be so filled up with our love that he could greet whatever comes next with a heart of joy.

I have had many pets over the years and said many goodbyes but holding him as his heart slowly came to a stop is one of the saddest things I’ve ever gone though.

Rigby was a friend that I first met at the Midden-Hollands Dierenasiel, the animal shelter I volunteered at in Gouda. Already placed four times in his two years, he’d been abused and also bounced from shelter to shelter. It was expected that he would be euthanized because his Rottweiler looks were so dominant that not only were people reluctant to consider him, but shelter staff also felt he might not be trustworthy. One look at him, though, and I knew otherwise. It took some strong-arming and stubbornness, but we eventually came home with him. Rigby accompanied me to work, took vacations with us, and flew from Holland to Maine to stay with us when we moved.

The hole he’s left in my heart cannot be measured.

(To see the blogpost of Rigby’s first official day with us, go here.)

one revolution of the earth around the sun


One year ago today, my Mom died. I’d been warned by her new doctor about six weeks previously that she had been misdiagnosed with Parkinsons, and instead had progressive supranuclear palsy. I had to go look it up. The doctor explained that she’d likely have about 18 months, but that her mind would begin to cloud sooner than that, and that if there were things that needed to be put in order we should get started on that before letting too much time elapse.

The night the doctor called, I went outside to do my farm chores as usual. It was cold, not unlike it is now. I hauled food to the animals, toted heavy buckets of water, checked bedding. One of the pumps had frozen and I had to haul the water twice as far and it seemed like it was at least twice as heavy. I finished later than usual – it was full dark and the stars were out in force. I sat down on the ground beside the frozen pump and just cried. I didn’t know then and I’m not sure now what exactly I was crying for, but I cried loudly and messily and unapologetically, which is extremely rare for me. And then I got up, went inside, and started making the necessary phone calls.

My brother was able to come out soon after I called. Mom really put on her best for him, coming to the front and seemingly more like the Mom of years past – which, given the extremely conflicted relationship I’ve always had with her, was a mixed blessing. He stayed for a week, and in the couple of weeks after he’d left, her attitude became more and more bitter. It was very difficult to force myself to visit her. I was busy with the kids’ birthdays, with school, with home life … and then Sunday morning my aunts were unable to reach me by phone and sent the police to my home with the message that my mother had died that morning, choked to death, alone in her bed at the nursing home.

One full year later, I’m still not sure how I feel. I thought that at some point – after I was done making arrangements, putting things in order, taking care of everyone else’s feelings – that my own emotions would crystallize and I’d know how I felt and I could kind of tuck the emotional bit away and move on. That hasn’t happened yet and at this point, I’m guess I’m starting to accept that it may never happen.

stubborn, charming, headstrong and capable

When the ultrasound showed us that Rowen was a girl, I kind of freaked out for awhile. I’d been so certain that this was another boy (I’d been making My Three Sons jokes for ages) and I was even more certain that I had no idea how to parent a girl. I’d wake Niek up at night with horrified questions like, “What if she becomes a cheerleader?”

Rowen’s birth was the easiest and closest to perfect of any of the four children we have. She was born facing up, not wanting to miss anything, and she’s been in the driver’s seat pretty much from the beginning. ;)


She’s been a presence to be reckoned with, a stage-center charmer.


She’s been, by turns, bossy and outrageous, courageous, caring, bold, and introspective.



If she decides that she’s going to do it, you’d be well advised to just step back and give her room.


She’s the animal lover of the four kids, which may have something to do with why we are overrun with rabbits and cats. ;)


And she can be a little intimidating when she doesn’t get her way.


Today she turns 11 and it’s with a lump in my throat and a sense of breathless anticipation that I watch her approach that Grand Canyon that divides childhood from adolescence. For the time being, she is still my sweet goofball demanding to sit on my lap and I will cherish these days for as long as they last. <3


where did those years go?

February 2nd, 2004

February 2nd, 2004

Eleven years ago, we had to rein in the celebration surrounding Nick’s first birthday because his sister was ready to make her appearance at literally any moment. We continue to make up for this by having cake for breakfast at every birthday. ;)

Like all middle children, Nick hasn’t had the same kind of parent-time as the eldest child, or the youngest, or the only girl. But he’s managed to hold center stage despite this – which is sometimes a mixed blessing, LOL.

investigating this new baby sister

investigating this new baby sister

Even though he didn’t get the long, drawn-out babyhood that some of the other kids got, Nick has been his little sister’s best friend and biggest protector from the moment she was born. His big heart and generous nature are two of the traits for which he’s known best.

sharing secrets

sharing secrets

is there anything more special than love and laughter?

is there anything more special than love and laughter?

Of course, he’s never shied away from beautiful women. ;)

taking over the dance floor at his Aunt Jiske's wedding

taking over the dance floor at his Aunt Jiske’s wedding

Nick is smart and funny; sometimes his words get in the way of what he means to express, but he never stops trying; he is the most generous-hearted child I have ever met (and sometimes he is also the most mischievous). I don’t know what the world holds in store for him, but I hope that his good heart will protect him and help him be surrounded by those who love him for his unique, wonderful, irrepressible self.

Happy birthday, Nicky. I love you.

and repeat

Snow and stitching? Well yes, I can update on both. ;) We’re sitting through another storm that may deliver as much as 18 inches of new snow. I’d say it’s brought us a foot already, but with the drifts, it’s hard to guess with much accuracy. A great many places are up to my hips so¬†feeding & watering the animals is quite an interesting challenge. Fish’s paddock has drifted in entirely and I am very glad that I let him out the other day. He’d have to be a subterranean boar to survive in there! The wild birds are discouraged that there are no leftovers for them by the time my birds and the hogs have finished sucking up every morsel of grain and seeds. You can see the ravens perched just over the area where my ducks and geese free range. The ducks aren’t too fond of the weather, but the geese are totally down with it (did you get the pun there?). The rest of the birds – my laying ducks, hens, roosters, turkeys and guinea fowl – are safely stashed away in barns and coops, as are the goats.

winter ravens, ducks in the snow, and snowed in fences

winter ravens, ducks in the snow, and snowed in fences

waiting ...

waiting …

Inside, I’ve managed to put in a few stitches these last few days while also keeping up with my schoolwork (will I ever be finished with this degree?) and life’s usual hectic pace. This is Counting Magpies by Birds of a Feather.

some progress has been made

some progress has been made

The family, with the exception of Max, has become obsessed with Bananagrams to keep our minds busy during this wild winter weather. Today we varied a bit from the usual rules and played it like Scrabble without a board. Yes, I know quill is misspelled, but it’s a good effort from seven-year old Arden nonetheless. ;)


I think we’ve all gained 10 pounds from my cooking through the bad weather, so I’m trying to stay out of the kitchen for this storm. We’ve had cakes, popovers, soups, stews, casseroles, and pizzas. Time to rein it in a bit and maybe chomp on some carrot sticks. ;)

For all my friends going through rough weather, I hope you’re staying safe and making the best of what Mother Nature has to offer us!

snowing and stitching – a perfect weekend

Mother Nature really has outdone herself with this latest snowfall. (And we are not discussing the two feet they are forecasting for Tuesday!)

fairy trees

The kids stayed out until dark playing in the falling snow yesterday. It was one of those times when all life’s choices seemed to come together and I could hear the universe sighing … yesssss. :)


I had a total veg-out day on Saturday. I was as useful as the g in lasagna. LOL, I stole that from someone’s facebook post, but it’s the perfect description. Today, I did pull out my needle and put a few stitches into an oldie-but-goodie by Birds of a Feather. This came as a kit, but subbed out the much darker linen for a WDW that seemed much closer to the picture on the pattern leaflet.


All in all, it’s been a pretty chill weekend – just what the doctor ordered. I hope yours has been as restorative. ;)

snowy side yard


in the jungle, the mighty jungle

in the jungle, the mighty jungle

Making sure that Arden gets a proper celebration for his birthday, which is very close to Christmas, has become a bit more of a challenge now that he’s old enough to want to have a party with school friends. His birthday tends to fall during the school break, and of course after that, we are all busy with things like taking down the tree, etc. etc. So this year I suggested we wait about a month, figuring that by then everyone’s schedules would be slow enough that we could pull off a fun party for him. He thought it was a great idea, so today we finally had his school friend party. A few people who were invited didn’t come, but we had extra-much fun with half as many people. I went with a very loose animal theme, but Arden was all about pizza.

lesson in shaping the pizza dough

lesson in shaping the pizza dough

pin the pepperoni on the pizza game

pin the pepperoni on the pizza game

build your own pizza

build your own pizza

And Rowen was the informal Master of Ceremonies, so there were some unusual games that included “Roadkill Charades” – which quickly got out of hand.

in which Niek is roadkill beset by many scavengers

in which Niek is roadkill beset by many scavengers

Rowen also made sure that kitties received proper cuddles at strategic times.

remember that Niek does not actually like cats

remember that Niek does not actually like cats

Rowen is buried under affectionate felines

Rowen is buried under affectionate felines

And because I was involved, however marginally, there was cake and ice cream.


With wishes carefully crafted …

how to fit a dozen wishes into one ...?

how to fit a dozen wishes into one …?

before the candles are thoroughly blown out.

will they all come true?

will they all come true?

It was a wonderful day filled with laughter and silliness, a great start to Arden’s seventh year. <3


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