Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winter Sun

I've mentioned before about how much we really love the sun. When we were investigating ideas for our house, we looked into a lot of options. We thought about a cob house. We were working out a floor plan for a yurt. We knew we wanted something that was efficient in some way - and that's what sold us on passive solar.

We literally live on top of a hill. We see no other houses and the only thing we do see other than trees is the stacks of a local power plant in the distance. And that's on the east side of our house, where we don't frequently look out the windows. It makes us laugh, because people think we live in a huge house because the whole south side is windows. It's really not that big! But, it certainly does look that way from the south.

For the passive solar design to be effective, there are some elements built into the design. An important one, especially for the winter, is the length of the overhang. Our roof has a two foot overhang! I'm used to it now, but when I drive by houses with no overhang at all, it looks weird :-)

The overhang keeps the sun out in the summer and allows for lots of sunlight to enter in the winter! We were skeptical at first, but were quickly proven wrong our first winter here. The sun can reach our woodstove and even the pennisula in the kitchen!

As the solstice approaches, we garner an even deeper appreciation of the sun. And look forward to the return of the light!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On the Needles - Holiday Knitting

I haven't been putting up my knitting updates recently...because, well, it's not that exciting. I decided to make a lot of the same thing (which is still a secret!) for Christmas gifts this year. So, I've been knitting like crazy. In 2 weeks, I can tell you what they are. Until then, any guesses?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Do You Weave?

So, I'm a little more than a month away from my birthday. Last year on my birthday, my mother in law gifted me a rigid heddle lap loom. The loom was handcrafted by a couple in MI, I believe, and is really quite gorgeous. The thought and care they put into making the loom and also the details that come with it are pretty top notch.

And so, I've had it almost a year. And I've only made 2 things with it. The scarf/table runner that it was warped to make and another small placemat. When my mother in law was in visiting over the summer, we attempted to warp it. It worked ok...but, warping is most definitely the hardest part of weaving! We warped it with cotton and the weft yarn was some beautiful hand dyed local yarn.

Things were going well, until we noticed that the heddle had a little snag in it. It was wearing down one of my warp pieces until it finally broke. We tried to knot it back together, but it wouldn't hold. So, instead of a scarf, I have a small table mat. That's ok!

We sanded the whole heddle to smooth out any bumps. I have an eight dent rigid heddle, which is suited to use worsted weight yarns. And I haven't attempted to warp it since. But! The cold weather is certainly starting to set in and what better time to start!

There are so many things I could make, the possibilities are endless. What about you - do you weave? Do you have any tips for a newbie like myself?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Homemade Ornaments

We went yesterday to cut our Christmas tree! We are firm believers that the tree shouldn't be up before Thanksgiving. We had to take advantage of the 60 degree temperatures yesterday! While we have the room for a bigger tree, we chose a smaller tree. It measured in at five and a half feet and it is the perfect height for the kids to decorate it.

Speaking of decorating, I'm a big fan of making our own Christmas tree decorations. Two years ago, Kole and I made cinnamon ornaments. When I ran across a recipe for chocolate salt dough from Fun at Home With Kids, I knew we had to give it a go.

I'm so thankful for our stand mixer when it comes to making play doughs and salt doughs. It gives it a much smoother texture than I could achieve with kneading it. It could be I'm just a wimp, too!

This stuff smells awesome. Like whoa. The kids had fun digging in. Quite literally for Little J. And of course, some had to go into her mouth. It surely doesn't taste good, but at least there isn't anything toxic about it.

I encouraged Kole to use Christmas cookie cutters, but he insisted on machines and tools. It's their tree, so hey! But, much like making cut out cookies, the novelty wore off after the first few and so I was left with the rest.

That's ok - there really is something therapeutic about getting your hands into dough. I added some holes to the top for string and they're currently finishing up baking in the oven. Annnd, my house smells amazing!

I can't wait to get them up on the tree! How about you? How do you like to decorate your tree?