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

summertime fun

photo (36)

The kids and I took off the other morning and went to Roque Bluffs beach – one of those ‘hidden gem’ beaches that gets coverage now and then in travel magazines, but is fortunately so remote that no one bothers to come. We’re only a few minutes from here – and we count ourselves lucky every time we go down. :)

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We had the beach to ourselves. The weather has been unseasonably cool and damp, which discourages even hardy beachcombers. You’ll notice that the kids have on winter jackets, LOL.

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It was gorgeous. We climbed rocks and the kids daringly walked out to an “island” despite the icy cold water they had to wade through. I fell in love with Maine’s inhospitable coastline all over again.

Meanwhile, Arden has had his last dose of doxycycline and we are all now hoping that when he is checked out again in the autumn that the specialist will tell us that he’s totally cleared the infection from his body. <3

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In between this and that, I have also done some stitching and am rather pleased with how this little project is turning out.


Hoping this brief post finds you well and happy! Thanks for visiting. :)

I should be stitching Noah’s ark

Happy first day of summer and Father’s Day, everyone!! Our summer appears to be following on the heels of our spring – which is to say, it’s not very seasonal at all but rather a perpetual Dutch autumn. My lettuce is not amused.
very wet

Nor is my kale, or other teeny greenies.

very very wet

Safe and dry, indoors, the chicks and piglets are faring very well. The piglets are three weeks old now and will be going to their new home in about 3 weeks. Between you and I, I’ll be pretty happy. Bottle feeding livestock really isn’t my cup of tea. The chicks will remain. Before losing my gorgeous Maran rooster (an unforeseen bit of sadness), I gave a handful of eggs to Arden’s class to incubate. Fortunately, four of the babies are Marans and I have my fingers crossed that they’ll be lovely additions to the flock.

piglets and chicks

more chicks and piglets

It’s been a rough week. Arden’s Lyme disease took a turn for the worse when he developed a reaction to the medication. He’s now taking doxycycline. Unfortunately, in children use of doxy can cause permanent graying of the teeth. Worse yet, if this medication doesn’t work, I don’t know what we’ll do because there are no other medications approved for use on children. Fingers and toes are tightly crossed. If you happen to send up any good thoughts for Arden, please keep my father and stepmother in mind, too, as they are dealing with serious health issues. My best friend’s father is, too. Sigh … sometimes it just pours, doesn’t it. :(

Not much stitching has been done, but I do like the project so far. I’m also itching to work on some of my own designs again.


when the days are full and sweet

Mama Mallard

Mama Mallard

It’s been busy and lovely around here – sometimes one more than the other, but generally balancing out okay.

We got the garden put in today, after the final (I hope!) frost advisory for our region. If everything grows, we’ll be well-fed! There’s also a balcony full of microgreens, sunflowers, and other wonderful gifts of Mother Nature.

Ta- da - this year's garden

Ta- da – this year’s garden



assorted greens

assorted greens

salad microgreens

salad microgreens

When we haven’t been busy outside, we’ve been busy inside … caring for four little piglets whose mama was not into mothering.

the ... four... little pigs

the … four… little pigs

I’ve managed to do a little bit of stitching here and there, too.


But most of the action has been outside. Here are the ghetto goats waiting for some action.

in the hood

in the hood

And Arden, letting us know we’ve been outside long enough. ;)

will we ever go inside again?

will we ever go inside again?

another month gone by

red wing blackbird takes flight

red wing blackbird takes flight

Mother Nature can’t quite make up her mind as to whether it’s spring, summer, or winter. There was hail and snowfall in our region yesterday, and nighttime temps still routinely drop below freezing. There are days that we are lucky to hit 45 degrees and then the next day the temp will rocket up to 75 or more. We’re trying to take the good weather as it comes and not get too dismayed about the less desireable stuff. We recently had a barbecue at Roque Bluffs state park and I caught several pictures of the red wing blackbirds that call the park home.

Tonight we barbecued at home – up on the balcony to keep us away from the curious hogs, LOL. Although it has been too cold to put our garden in yet, the kids and I spent the weekend putting in a wide array of container plants on the balcony – assorted lettuces & spinach, kale & chard for micro-greens, heirloom tomatoes, and edible flowers. I can’t wait for them to start popping up!

deer tick

deer tick

The weekend didn’t start off well. I pulled a deer tick off Arden’s neck and took him to the local emergency room for a preventative dose of doxycycline because Lyme disease seems to run rampant here. His bite site was red and inflamed, making it likely that the tick had been there for some time. Unfortunately, despite our higher-than-normal rates of Lyme disease, the fact that I had the tick with me and it was definitely a deer tick, and the obvious irritation of the bitten area, the doctor refused to administer antibiotics. We are keeping a close eye on Arden. The bite is healing very well and he’s shown no signs of joint pain, fever, rash or other symptoms of Lyme disease. Fingers crossed. Meanwhile, when the heck is the medical profession going to catch up with the reality of this epidemic??

Daddy and Mary

Daddy and Mary

My Dad had his 84th birthday and we took him and his partner out for a nice meal. The best part of the day was seeing how much Mary loves my Dad. <3

Kids Dad Mary 84 bday

Ro contemplates her dinner

Ro and Arden prepare to fly a kite

We spent the day with Dad and Mary. The kids had a blast flying kites, playing catch, running around and being wild. :)

BOAF "Apple Sampler"

BOAF “Apple Sampler”

I found a little time to finish off an old WIP. Nicky and I went through a box of stitching stuff that still hadn’t been unpacked and it was a treasure trove of WIPs. This is Apple Sampler by Birds of a Feather stitched on 36 ct Lakeside Linens Patina using the called-for GAST. I wasn’t thrilled with how the letters got ‘lost’ in the red of the apple but the kids assured me they really are visible. I added our initials and the kids’ names, and removed the erroneous apostrophe from its, but otherwise followed the pattern more faithfully than is usual for me. ;)

your guess is as good as mine

your guess is as good as mine

Lately, any time I upload photos from my camera I find that Rowen has taken one bajillion photos of the dogs or close-ups of the grass or other things that I simply cannot fathom with my boring, middle-aged brain. This, however … this picture just killed me. I’m dying with laughter as I look at it. I have no idea what she was up to, but I’ll take it over duck-faced adolescent selfies any day of the week.

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


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