random friday

Just a few days after our fossil hunting trip the weather turned very cold and we had a couple days of ice mixed with a little snow.  It’s still very cold.  Job is losing all his sweet baby hair to the hats I have to keep on his head.  Our house is drafty and cold, so he stays bundled.  I am so thankful that I was able to knit him several big warm things to wear.  The gowns stay on him most of the time.  My most recent finished objects, ribbed hats for Keats and Jonny, are worn all the time.  It makes all that ribbing worth it.  The only Christmas gift knitting I am working on is a couple of bunny sweaters for the girls’ bunnies.  But I did receive yarn this week for some gifts that I hope to finish by mid January.  Knitting time is scarce though, so we’ll see!

With the freezing temperatures Jonny and I are checking on our bees most days, and so far they are still alive.  We don’t open them up of course, just peer through the holes drilled in the back of the hives to see them inside.  If I put my ear up to the entrance I can hear the faint sound of all those thousands of bees moving around.  I love it.  Jonny wants to talk about our spring bee plans, but I won’t yet.  I want to save those talks for late January and early February when I need something to look forward to at that point when it seems like winter will never end.

Silas has been wanting to make blackberry jam for months because there are scenes of blackberry jam making in this little book we’ve been “reading” (there aren’t any words) since early fall.  I finally bought frozen blackberries to make him happy since we are long past blackberry season.  I messed up somewhere and we ended up with blackberry sauce, which we ate in our oatmeal.

I think that last photo should be called “wishful thinking.” My knitting is sitting there on the table in the midst of the mess, and I am wishing things would slow down for a few minutes so that I could knit a row or two.

I ordered this book for Jonny last night, as he’s feeling a little cramped and crazy in our little house (well, maybe we all are.)

Thinking some more about gifts:

For the past couple of years we haven’t given our children Christmas gifts beyond those that fit in their stockings.  This year though, there will be a few gifts under the tree as well.  I can’t think of much in the way of useful things to stuff the older boys stockings with, things they don’t already have.  They need some things to help them with projects (namely a drill, and a soldering iron) and because those are things that I only want to purchase one of each for all to share, they don’t make good birthday gifts.  Christmas seems like a good time to give gifts to be shared.  Other gifts include waterproof gloves for the three older boys, and these mittens for my younger three kids.  I bought a box of art supplies from Stubby Pencil Studio and those will help fill stockings.  That reminds me, a friend sent us a box of these beeswax crayons recently and I really like them.  They seem to be holding up better than other (more expensive) beeswax stick crayons I have tried, although the sturdiest beeswax crayons for younger kids are the Stockmar blocks.  I’ve had the same set for twelve years!  Anyway, I am trying to focus on just purchasing a few things that my children need and want, but not things that cause present hysteria if you know what I mean.

With the weather being cold, my older boys are getting interested in coin roll hunting again, so we’ve made a couple of trips to the bank recently for boxes of coins.  Seth likes to search through nickels the most, the other two like pennies.  Boxes of coins would make great gifts, especially if you were already planning on giving money to the recipient.

I am often asked for camera and photography advice.  The book I always recommend, and the one I used to learn how to shoot in manual mode from is Understanding Exposure.  That book would make a great gift for someone wanting to learn.

And another cute gift idea that I may plan ahead for next year is one of these blue heritage ball jars along with a Cuppow and a knitted jar cozy.  I already bought the jars, I just don’t think I will have time to do the knitting this year.

A friend suggested that I spend some time updating my book shop, and I will try.  So far, I have mainly only worked on the chapter book category.  The books there are some of those that my oldest son Seth has enjoyed over the past few years.  He is one of those kids that is hard to “keep in books” because he reads so quickly and so much.  All of my boys have been loving the experiments in both of Steve Spangler’s books.

More gifts here and here.

And I guess that’s it for this week.  I hope you all have a great weekend!


  1. Hmmm. That photo of Beatrix with the paper and scissors and the shot of the table and lovely result of your little ones’ playing… makes me thing our homes look quite similar after an hour or two of the kids being busy. Do you also have stacks and stacks of paper that they have created on or with? What do you do with it all?

    • There is paper everywhere. They all seem to be more into the process than what they end up with. If a creation seems important, I hang on to it until the importance has faded. But mostly, I gather up all the scraps and put them in the recycling bin.

  2. I like your list of presents especially the “it could always be worse” Book. But what caught my eye was your mentioning of the Stockmar blocks. They are great, aren’t they. I actually remember using them in kindergarden and later had my own set of the crayons that are most likely still at my parents home somewhere waiting to be used by not yet existing grandchildren. I didn’t know you had them in the US too.
    Wishing you a wonderful and as stressless as possible christmas time!

  3. Thank you for the link to the cuppow lids! I punched holes in some lids I had to put straws through for smoothies but these are even better!

  4. “It Could Always Be Worse,” was one of my favorite books as a child. My father would read the book to my sisters and I, speaking in a thick Yiddush accent and using wild hand gestures and animal noises. To this day, 20 years later, whenever one of us begins to lament about something or other in our lives, someone in the family will inevitably state “Hey. It could always be worse.”

    And they’re always right.

  5. I know you have the holes in the back, but we also like to telescope the outer covers on our hives, especially in the winter. We do this by using a hard to find, expensive tool – a stick about the size of your thumb ;-). This allows the air to draw better through the hives. I like screen bottom boards as well.

    • We do have screened bottom boards, and maybe we should telescope the outer covers as well–we have so much to learn!

    • My husband built these things in the shape of the hive body and fits on top of the hive, the bottom of it is nylon screen and then #8 hardware cloth filled with pine flakes which allows for ventilation and insulation. We will see how it works. He got the idea from a hodge podge of reading but mostly Michael Bush. I took pictures, but I don’t have a blog to share them.

  6. I bought the Kindle, and as far as I know I can’t put knitting patterns on it. iPad’s sound very handy!

    • On my Christmas list is the Kindle Fire, specifically because I want it for downloading my patterns to carry with me. My older kids all have a Kindle Fire and they LOVE it!

  7. Love the book list; have your boys read any Stephen Meader books? I think they would be right up their alley judging from your list. They’re old and hard to find but have been reprinted by a company called blueskies books or something to that effect? We also get our library to inter library loan them. If I had a blog I would write a loooong post about how much I love his books–kind of like Laura ingalls, LM Montgomery, or marguerite Henry for boys. Action, adventure, good morals. Anyway! Just thought I’d share. Blessings!

  8. That first picture is just breathtaking! I can’t believe it. Thanks for the resources on photography. Such great inspiration.

  9. That’s Madeline Tosh! Can’t wait to see what it becomes! My living room looks like yours and I don’t have kids. I can only imagine that you all are feeling a little housebound. Is Jonny’s office heated? Perhaps working on a wood project or furthering the design on that lovely settee you and he dreamed about?

  10. Oh Ginny! It’s amazing how much Job looks like Silas! He (they) are so precious. I was excited to see you knitting the little hooded coat- I have knit it, the dress and am presently knitting the little sweater as well. I haven’t finished piecing the bunny; I’m procrastinating on ordering the wool batting:)

    Merry Christmas:)


  11. I can so identify with your “wishful thinking” right now. There is so much to do, and I really just want to sit down, relax, and knit. I am realizing what a gift knitting is to me! I am also knitting Alicia’s bunny sweaters for my daughter’s Christmas. SO cute! Thank you for the photography book recommendation. I have already decided on my New Year’s Resolution…I’m going to learn how to shoot manually. 🙂

  12. Thank you for the wonderful recommendations! I’m definitely going to check out Understanding Exposure. Not being able to take decent pictures keeps me from blogging more. I know that some time ago you were looking to buy a bigger house (I remember because of that gorgeous one you posted pictures of. Felt like Gone with the Wind!). Any plans to keep looking?

  13. I was just re-reading the post about the coin rolls. Seth did a fantastic job of explaining. I think this would be a great I’d-winter project for when the kids are driving me nuts. Thanks for the great ideas. God bless you during this advent season.

  14. Ginny, what kind of pacifier is Job using?

  15. Thank you for sharing. Your children are all beautiful, and I always thoroughly enjoy your photos, but the one of Job in that little hat is too adorable for words!
    Stay warm and may your Christmas be blessed.

  16. Oh I love those jar cozies. Certainly on my to-knit list for after the holidays. That hat was *just* what I was looking for to knit for my oldest boy. Also….. I love the community gift idea. It captures the meaning of Christmas so well. Such a good idea!

  17. yes, I would think with all the kids and baby, you would all be feeling a bit cooped up right now; it will even out again; just takes time; your gifting sounds perfect; not too much; thoughtful; intentional…

  18. Hi Ginny,

    The photo with the holes drilled into the hives caught my attention. I was studying it trying to decide why the holes were there, then read your dialogue. Did you drill the holes for the purpose of seeing into the hive or is it a way of having a top entrance? I am always fascinated by other beekeepers and their methods.

    Love the photos. Your baby makes my ovaries twitch, but my brain reminds me that I am so overwhelmed with my own three teens, a nine year old, an almost four year old and an exchange student teen that is living with us this school year. These kids and their activities are wearing me out!

    • The holes are for ventilation. The supers with the holes were originally in the top position. They do serve as a second entrance as well. There are pros and cons to adding them though. I’ve read that it provides an easy way in for moths. We tried stapling mesh over them, so the ventilation is there but not an entrance, but the bees propolized it. And yes, older kids are just as exhausting as young ones I am learning!

  19. Oh, goodness…Job is simply scrumptious!!! I love all his handmade knits! Thanks for the gift ideas and the photography book recommendation. I always admire your beautiful photos, and I’ve actually shown many of them to my daughter, an aspiring photo journalist. I’ve asked her for advise in taking photos that have a similar feel to them as yours. 😉 I believe this book just may have to go on my wishlist.

  20. Good morning Ginny, I meant to ask you if you are able to download your knitting patterns on your Nook? It is the biggest reason I have my iPad . I have quite a few books and charts, but find it hard to carry them around when I am out, so I have an app that allows me to keep them organized. My iPad goes everywhere with me!

    I love the mason jar knitting pattern. I found those jars several moths ago at our grocery store and used them for a baby shower as the color was perfect. I’m going to knit some cozies now!

    The weather is finally warming up here after a week of ice. 70’s predicted next week! Only in Texas!

I love to hear from you!