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Friday, May 20, 2016

The Making of a Homestead Luxury Bathroom

Homesteading is pretty intense; add homeschooling, starting a business and let's not forgot renovations! Which brings me to the subject of this blog post. 

Framing, sheet rocking and creating space
New windows
Adding shelves for storage
When we bought this 1890 farmhouse, we knew it was in need of a total, overall redo. Everything needed to be done and I mean everything.
Last summer we started renovations on the main family room. All of the work came to a halt, when my hubby had to travel across the country for work. He would be gone for the 3 months. While he was gone our current bathroom shower pipes froze and burst. It left myself and the children to travel to the community center to shower. I know this may sound like a huge deal, but we dealt with it. We are the new pioneers, I mean at least I had a place to shower, and it wasn't a watering hole or stream.

 It wasn't pretty, but at least I had a shower. 
Glass tile above the shower being installed.

My husband returned from his work trip only to jump right into a total bathroom replacement. There was one thing though . . . our plan was for the new bathroom to be on the other side of the house. We had to do do this because the old bathroom was located the slab part of the house. We were to move the current bathroom to where there was a basement, so we did not run into any more problems. And of course with an old home . . . once you start tearing things up you find all sorts of bad things. 

We planned on stealing 1/2 of the kitchen (which at some point will no longer be the kitchen at all) to make this 8' x 9' small bath to contain all the luxuries I wanted. 

Our plan was not an easy one.
Here is what I required in my tiny bathroom space:
1. Stand up shower stall. 
2. A private changing area
3. plenty of storage
4. A soaking tub. 

laying out tile
Yeah that is a lot of requirements for a small space. But what I have learned from previous home remodels is that put in what you really want. Our other hard task was to do this with out getting into debt. We drew up our plans, started the work and were patient. It took sometime longer than I wanted and some days it was not fun showering in a unfinished bath. And we seemed to run into problems constantly. The outside walls had lots of rot and no insulation, the floor had to be built up and leveled before it could be tiled.  

Focusing on some of the small
details adds character to your space.
Here is an antique cabinet I restored.
Pipes for a towel rack.

Adding pretty things make it an oasis.

I learned to have fun along the way. Have fun creating a great space. I would go shopping for colors, tile, antiques. I would go on pinterest and pin ideas. I had to search hard for an affordable soaking tub that would actually fit our space and our budget. I had to be patient and I can't say that I always was . . .but in the end we survived and our whole family is so happy with the results.
Barn style door built by my husband. 

It is small but deep. It certainly does the job.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Canning with Kids

Charlotte age 14 canning apple butter

Always practice cleanliness while canning.
Another season of canning and I realized that I have 3 teenagers and 1 preteen that all know how to can. Many adults do not know how to successfully can or don't even attempt it. So, how, in a day in age of this almost lost art, did I successfully teach my children how do this?

It wasn't a conscience decision to teach my children the art of preserving. It just sort of happened and now I realize what a great skill it was that they have acquired.

Since it wasn't a conscience decision on my part I had to think back. I also had to question my children.  How did their skill develop and at what ages did I start allowing them to do more and me less?

First, let me start with saying: allow your children to surround you in the kitchen. DO NOT KICK THEM OUT SO YOU CAN DO THINGS EASIER. Even as babies allow them to watch you and play with flour or dough or the pots and pans.

Here are a list of ages and jobs I think you can allow your children to do to introduce your children them to canning. *

2 yrs. old and up - Take them produce picking. Either in the garden or a Pick your own trip. Let your children always know where there food comes from . . . they are more likely to eat these healthy foods. Teach them the importance of hand washing.

4 yrs. old/5 yrs. old and up - Allow them to rinse the fruit out. Wipe the counter. Help you pour cool ingredients into pots. Teach them the importance of cleanliness.

6 yrs. old/7 yrs. old and up - Peeling, sorting, rinsing. Assist with stirring. Wiping the tops of the canning jars. Observe the full canning process. Teach them importance of safety and cleanliness.

8 yrs. old. to 11. yrs old and up- Cutting the produce.  Actually making the recipe to be canned. Stirring. Assisting parent with preparing the canning area. Allowing them to fill the cans. Remember you are dealing with boiling water so please take caution when allowing them to help. Remind them to be really careful. Review the importance of safety and cleanliness.



Friday, September 11, 2015

Bittersweet 9/11*

A young Rob and Mickie
at Charlotte's baptism.
Today is the 14th memorial of the 9/11 attacks. The flag flies half mast today at Sanctae Familiae Villa. But today is also the 14th birthday of my daughter Charlotte. I suppose we all have a story to tell about where we were on that frightful day. Here is ours. I woke up around 6am to my water breaking. My husband, Rob, at that time was working 3rd shift; so knowing he was already on his way home I called my neighbor. "Hey Patty, could you come over I think my water broke" She came as quick as I called. "So what do you think . . . do you think my water actually broke?" I asked. "I don't know, you've done this more than me and more recent." she replied. I told her I was pretty sure it was my water but I was wondering why I wasn't having any contractions. I thought that contractions would come soon so I suggested we feed the boys and ourselves while waiting for Rob to arrive home from work.

Rob arrived home, ate quickly, and we prepared to leave for the hospital. Patty would stay with the boys until my parents made the 2 hour journey from Massachusetts. While we preparing for another beautiful family memory, planes were being boarded for what people thought was just another ordinary day in their lives. While we arrived at the hospital, flight attendants tried to contact FAA to signal that they were hijacked. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor, my water had indeed broken, but there were still no signs of contractions. The doctor figured I should just rest a bit. So hubby and I decided to turn on the television. We were watching Good Morning America when it suddenly broke in live with the first plane crash into the World Trade Center. "What is going on?" I remember saying. Our nurse became curious as well and turned to see the t.v. I remember Rob saying "that is a lot of fuel for a small plane, it must be a commercial plane, why was it flying so low?" Since my husband works in the aviation field I considered this thoughtfully. What if this wasn't an accident? Were we being attacked? Scary. I thought about my brother who lived so close to the towers. I was just there at Christmas time the boys took a photo on Santa's lap (right in the World Trade Center). As soon as I thought those thoughts the second plane flew right into the other tower. Why would someone do this?
Charlotte was born bringing in the harvest.

I called my home to tell Patty. "Your brother just called, he sounded crazy, he was looking for you, said he couldn't get in touch with your parents. I told him they were on their way here because you were at the hospital having the baby, she's having the baby now? he blurted out . . . but he said to assure you  he was okay. I've been watching Bob the Builder videos with the boys. What's going on?" I explained to her what was going on.

My parents arrived at the hospital too sit in front of the t.v. in shock. They tried endlessly to reach my brother only feeling little assurance from the call to Patty. Things got more emotional when the pilot name was release John Ogonowski. My mother burst into tears she had watched his children for years. I had no words for her. And I still had something to do. I had to have a baby. I began pacing up and down the halls of the hospital. I knew if contractions did not come on their own they would chemically make them come . . . and I wasn't cool with that. It was a little to late for thoughts of why I was bringing a child into this crazy world. But those thoughts lingered. I finally kicked everyone out of my room, demanded the television be shut off, and that I was going to have this baby. And I did.

The little blondie, so different from her
darked-haired brothers.
I had the most beautiful, blondie, tiny, baby girl. She was so different from her dark haired brothers. She was a blessing from God.

Enjoying the snow with
her little sister Gigi.
Later on we found out a boy from school was on one of the planes, Brian Kinney. My brother lost the building where he lived. Many people lost so many loved ones. Sadness. I call it bittersweet because I had joy on such a day and actually felt guilty. This has been my reflection for many years. Why sadness for some and joy for others? A mystery. I do know this however, the world may be crumbling around us but a baby is sure to bring a huge smile across our faces. There may be sadness and death but there is also life. Choose it! One and a half years later we had another little girl and we will accept more if God wills it. And even if I knew of all the terrors I would still have my children. I will try to raise them with love and no fear. Heaven is our goal.

The amazing baker.
The newspapers did a story on her birth and every 5 years they contact us to run an article on the local girl born on that dreadful day. She is used to the looks she gets when she shares her birth date and always repeats "yes, that day". When she was younger she did not really understand, but as she grows older her understanding grows. When I asked her how she feels about being born on this day. This beautiful 14 year old replied "I think I was born to try to bring joy to the sadness of the world". And that she does. We are so proud.
Thank you God for giving us Charlotte, our little beacon of light, on such a dark day.

Here is a link to one of the newspaper articles:

Dedicated to my husband's grandfather Gerard Atkinson died on 9/11/13 and to all the victims and families of the 9/11 attacks. You are always in our prayers.

* I originally wrote this on Charlotte's 13th birthday. I edited it and added a recent photo as an update.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday Morning Surprise

 A homestead that has free range chickens makes farm life interesting, often times frustrating. For instance they love to lay eggs in strange places, scratch for bugs in pretty gardens and mess up the goat areas. It is a constant chore just to try to keep them in their chicken areas. 

All of the crazy difficulties of free range chickens felt all so worth it this morning; when we walked out to our buck yard to find a momma hen with 5 little chicks! Oh, how I love the life of a homesteader!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Busy Days

Our lettuce patch.
Making new friends.
I know most people this time of year are busy
with graduation parties, weddings, school ceremonies and the many other things that keep us busy. The same applies to us here but we also have the added hectic schedule of our homestead.

On a homestead late spring is quite a busy time. It is the time for kidding, selling kids, bringing in new ones, bottle feedings, garden work, farmers market and did I mention garden work.

Here are a few photos that capture our hectic but wonderful days.
Nim our new buckling
"Nice to meet you"
 Cleaning time

Managing a growing Herd

Mommas and Their Kids
Play time

Feeding time
 Sometimes we are the momma!

Everything in the garden green.

Grateful for a Thriving

Handmade signs  at the market
give things our personal touch.
Bringing a baby goat gets lots of attention.
A display of herbs for sale.
Who could resist buying from this smiling face?

At the Farmers' Market

Thursday, May 28, 2015

***WINNER IS BUDDING ROMANCE *****Sanctae Familiae Villa: Spring Soaps ***SOAP GIVEAWAY***




Sanctae Familiae Villa: Spring Soaps ***SOAP GIVEAWAY***:    Spring is in the air and so is love and some beautiful scents. I have been spending most of these nice days in the garden and have...

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mama Mickie's Rhubarb Muffins

Rhubarb Muffin
Rhubarb in our garden

 It is hard to believe my rhubarb bed is in full production. We have already harvested quite a bit with much more on the way. I couldn't resist jumping in right away and experimenting with some new ways of cooking up one of our family favorites. My family loves rhubarb and they also love muffins . . . so I decided to put the two together and came up with with yummy recipe!

I love how beautiful
the stem of the rhubarb looks.


Mama Mickie's Rhubarb Muffins
4 1/2 cups of flour
6 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup of oil
1 1/2 cup of milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup of cut rhubarb

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I use silicon muffin cups but if you do not grease your muffin tin. Mix all dry ingredients and then add beaten eggs, stir in milk and oil. Your mixture will be lumpy. Fold in rhubarb. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way. Sprinkle with Sugar in the Raw. Bake until golden brown or fork comes out clean. Makes 24 muffins.