December 2014

December 2014

Jack took our annual family photos:

Family Profile 2014

Family 2014

Aunt Carol brought us the trees behind us in the spring of 2000 (our first spring).  This batch of trees never got cut for a Christmas tree because they were too big when we started having a tree.

We had good snow and great skiing early in the month.  After our first night of skiing Henry wrote a note to his teacher.

Letter from Henry

We had good sledding in our field.   Henry would get a running start and get some serious air before hitting the snow!

sledding Henry air

Nola Mae ran up and down the hill many times.

Nola Mae

The best hats!

Henry black hat  Nola Mae black hat

Early in the month I had two more kinds of soaps that were ready for the holiday: 

  soap vanilla & patchouli soap lavender & lemon grass

The first photo is Lavender, Vanilla & Patchouli.  The second photo is Lavender & Lemon Grass with ground lemon powder.

Charlie dyed a pair of bamboo socks for his teacher.  We did a test pair last month because I wanted him to have a feel for the syringe and working with the dye.  He was easily frustrated with his own socks and it seemed like he hated the whole process.  So I figured we would have to find a different gift for his teacher.  About a week before the last day of school he asked, “When are we going to dye my teacher’s socks?”  I just assumed he hated it and would never want to do it again.  Charlie promised me he would have extra patience for this project.  And he did while he got help from Nola Mae.

dyeing Charlie 3

Mrs. Johnson’s socks:

dyed socks Charlie

The color in this photo is so off from the actual color.  He used a purple and a teal color called Kingfisher Blue.

Charlie and Nola Mae messing around with a backpack:

Charlie & Nola Mae babywearing

We cut our Christmas tree from our property:

I remember planting this tree very well, even what clothes I was wearing, and the pair of gloves I had on. It was one of the first days I accomplished something significant after feeling like crap for months with morning sickness (my pregnancy with Robbie).  I planted a total of 15 trees, only three trees made it this long.  I tried to imagine when we would be cutting this tree down for our Christmas tree.  I didn’t imagine we would have four children around this tree, 11 1/2 years later.

christmas tree 2014

Nola Mae strawberry hat

One of my sisters got engaged this month:

Becca & Ben

Here is some kind of Elemental Warrior equation Robbie made with  some calligraphy pens that I had.

Elemental warrior equation

Dyeing and sewing projects (I have a post all for my December dyeing projects, click here to see them):

My friend, Michelle, gave me some curtains she had in her daughter’s room.  I dyed them, because they were white!

dye ice curtain

Nola Mae and three of her cousins got pretty snow dyed skirts.

dyed ice curtain skirt

My first Maxi skirt for one of my sisters:

sewing maxi skirt becca

Two bags made of dyed fabrics:

bag dyed red mandala

Front of bag:

bag dyed & embrodiery

Back of bag:

bag dyed Aunt Karen

Robbie and I went Christmas shopping and he had the idea that I dye the kids matching shirts.

dyed family shirts 1 dyed family shirts 2

It was my idea to do a “V” for our last name.  Jack helped me with the colors.

dyed family shirts

Jack has been busy in his workshop:

A book shelf for Robbie.

Robbie's book shelf

A tool box for Henry.

Henry's tool box

A bench for Nola Mae.

Nola Mae's bench

We set up the ping-pong table for Christmas break, this could become a tradition I could get use to.

ping pong

More of my favorite photos from this month:

Trombone Robbie

   Robbie Runs

Nola Mae's sled

Monopoly Grandmas

Mama santa hat

Charlie computer

cards Henry

cards Henry smile

September 2014

September 2014

First day of school photo:

First day of school 2014

On the first day of school, Nola Mae and I took a bike ride to town to run errands.  I needed to do lots of things this day, grocery shopping, library, bank, post office, drop something off at school and most importantly get exercise and get away from the house so I wasn’t thinking about missing my boys.  Our way home was a lot of work for me…27 pound child, 15 pound bike trailer, 75 pounds of groceries and library books.

Bike errands

I have planned to dye my hair a non-traditional color (purple) for many months.  I finally got around to doing it and it faded to pink (not one of my favorite colors).  In the last month I have considered chopping my hair just twice to get rid of it.  When my mom first saw me after I dyed my hair, she joked with me that my fabric dyes got in my hair.   Now, I am feeling like I will keep it for a while.  Next, I will attempt purple and maybe more colors.

 hair dye pink

Jack has made many cigar box guitars in the last year.  This month Charlie finished a two string cigar box guitar.

 cigarbox guitar in progress

Jack made a video of Charlie and shared it on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10202628856665701&set=vb.1326037913&type=3&theater

cigarbox guitar Charlie's

I have an amazing husband, he deserves a blog post all to himself.   He is talented in many areas, he is intelligent, he is teaching our kids many skills, he creates beautiful wooden furniture and boxes.

I was a little skeptical about these ugly pieces of wood when he loaded these into our car.

wooden burrow

One day he handed this beautiful bowl to me and told me he made it from the wooden burrows that we brought home.

wooden burrow bowl

Charlie turned a bowl with Jack.  He took his unfinished bowl to school to show his teacher.  Charlie was eager to finish it and then took it back to school.  One day I was looking for Charlie’s bowl to take a photo.  He told me he gave it to his teacher.

We got together with all the Vater cousins this month, unfortunately because Grandpa Neil passed away.  It was wonderful to see our kids having a blast with their cousins, and visit with the cousins we don’t see very much.  Nola Mae and I missed out on the last family gathering because she was sick.   I am not interested in doing the math on when I last saw Jack’s cousins from CA, it was sometime when Ben was still a little boy.  When Ben opened his mouth I just about died, because he had a man’s voice, not a little boy anymore!  Ben is the tallest man in the Vater family.

vater cousins and family

I have many sisters, four of them, all of them are amazing in their own way!  Early this month, Becca completed her first Ironman in Madison,  2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run.

I wasn’t able to make it to Madison to cheer her on.  I was able to watch her finish from the comforts of my home, 130+ miles away on my computer through the live-feed video on Ironman’s website.

I have my very own finish line photo of her.

IronMan Madison Becca

 Nola Mae loves to put clothes on, take them off, and put extra layers of clothing.  While I was taking a shower  Nola Mae climbed   on the counter and was putting socks on and taking them off.  I took this picture with the intention of doing a blog post with all the photos I have collected of her in her many outfits.

Nola Mae socks happy

Everything was going great.  You can see all the socks on the floor that she had on and took off.  Then she got stuck in these blue socks, that is when things started to get UGLY!  Exactly, one minute later…

Nola Mae socks sad  Nola Mae socks sadder

Two days later…there was an outfit that included many layers and many tears – three shirts, one dress and one pair of tights – she wanted more clothes on and I wouldn’t help her.

Nola Mae flopping

The above photos aren’t so pretty ones of Nola Mae, but this one is!

Nola Mae

When you co-sleep and put your child to bed before yourself they claim their spot.

Yours spot

I knew Henry was outside on the deck.  I heard sounds of a trombone.  I was afraid he snuck Robbie’s  trombone upstairs and outside.  I was relieved, happy and very excited to see him making music with the vacuum cleaner hose, rather than the $754 trombone!

Henry hose trombone

Four days before my birthday a wonderful gift arrived at our house – a spiral ham and caramel popcorn!  I was delighted, ham is one of our favorite things.  Especially, mine because one ham goes a long way here.  If I am remembering correctly this ham gave us  at least four meals, fillings for additional meals, made awesome snacks and were added to cold lunches for boys.  The very last of this ham will be eaten sometime this fall when I make my favorite soup!

bday ham

On September 11th, Nola Mae and I drove to Milwaukee to see my sister, Emily.  Earlier in the week she was admitted to the hospital for liver failure and the talk was “she isn’t going home until she gets a new liver”.  Her MELD Score was so high, she was on the top of the liver transplant list for the Midwest.  As the week progressed and she got more fluids and antibiotics she was feeling and looking better.  I was thankful to see her in better spirits and health later in the week so that when and if a new liver came to her she would be strong enough to make it through a transplant.

Emily hospital 9-11

On Monday, September 15th, around 4:30 AM Emily was told that there is an organ donor who is a perfect match for her.   I am pretty sure this was the longest day in her entire life.  It sure was for me!   The staff took her to surgery for the liver transplant at 5:30 PM.  If I am remembering correctly, I got the call at 12:21 AM, on the 16th, telling me that her surgery was done and she will be heading to ICU.

Click here to read my thoughts on the day of Emily’s transplant, “A Sister’s Emotions”.

I spent the day before my birthday glued to my computer and close to the phone waiting for any news on Emily’s transplant.  I didn’t get much sleep that night and woke up for my birthday in a zombie-like state.  I knew Emily was sedated, well cared for in ICU and I needed to get the heck out of my house!  IT was MY birthday and I wanted my special coffee and I wanted to use my 60% & 50% off coupons at JoAnn Fabrics!  So Nola Mae and I went to town!

I made a trip to my favorite thrift store and found a bunch of dye blanks!

  I bought these fabrics.  The birds and butterflies were on the $4/yard rack.  The bottom white fabrics I bought for making dyed scarves.

bday fabric

A close up of one of the white fabrics.

dye blank for scarf

I made two scarves from this fabric – one for my step-mom and one to sell or give away as a gift (or maybe keep for myself).

Dyed Scarf Rainbow colors

My last stop in town was Starbucks, thanks to my sister Danna and her boyfriend, I purchased a yummy coffee and this beautiful coffee mug.

bday coffee cup

The boys (& Jack) gave me a package of socks, these awesome rubber boots and something else.  I can’t remember what the third thing was.   I love my new boots and wear them every day!

bday boots

Usually my garlic gets planted in October.  The planting window for garlic in Wisconsin is mid-September to November.  I remember this because my birthday is the beginning of this planting window and my brother’s birthday, which is at the end of October, is my absolute last day for planting garlic.   This fall, I started planting my garlic before my birthday and then finished planting 200+ cloves of garlic the day after my birthday.

garlic planting 2014

We are were still picking raspberries into October.

Raspberries 8-31-12

 Every year I find a pair of Walking Sticks in my raspberry patch.  They are always attached to each other every time I see them.  This time I happened to have the camera with me and when I bumped them, they came apart and I took this photo.

walking stick

I have accumulated many dye blanks, I am always looking for more.  Recently, I  had some time to organize and prioritize my dyeing projects

dye thirft store blanks

I also had some time to set up a little dyeing space in my basement and got busy.  In one week I dyed 20 pieces.

dye table

We paddled up the river from Big Falls when the leaves were beautiful.  It was a great way to end the month.

paddle car fall 2014

paddle big falls 2014  paddle rocking 2014

I am making and selling soap again this year.  I started early for Christmas by making four batches.

“Cleansing Calendula”, with essential oils: Lavender & Tea Tree and ground Calendula flowers for a great exfoliation.    Aroma:  Soft, floral.  Benefits:  Renewing, cleansing, stimulating.

soap calendula flowers & lavender & tea tree  

“Cinnamon Swirl”  with essential oils:  Orange & Cinnamon and ground cinnamon, which gives it the dark color.   Aroma:  Warm, spicy   Benefits:  Warming, comforting, energizing

 soap cinn & organe

(these are the same soap, just different batch and different method of coloring with the ground cinnamon)

“Jumping Juniper”  essential oils:  Juniper, Lavender & Rosemary   Aroma: Floral   Benefits: Restoring, empowering, balancing, purifying, &  uplifting.

  soap juniper, lavender & rosemary

I have about twelve pounds of garlic to sell.

garlic for sale 2014

It was a good birthday month for me!

Cold Press Soaps – for sale

Cold Press Soaps – for sale

Soap bars cut

I have been making homemade soaps for about five years.  I wanted to make soap for a couple of years before that.  I didn’t do it because I was confused and intimidated by the chemistry mumble-jumble and the investment of equipment and ingredients.  Then I met my friend, Lynn, who makes very beautiful soaps.  She gave me lots of encouragement, sold me the ingredients for one batch and let me use her equipment.  I had a blast and my first batch of soap turned out wonderfully! 

My motivation to make homemade soap was to do something fun, have good homemade soap for our family, and to have extra soap to give away as gifts to family and friends.   Then a few members of my family and some friends have asked to buy my soap.  I love my soap and am flattered that others like it too. 

soap in basket

My Aunt Anita has been a good sales person for me, telling many people about my soap, selling my soap at her craft sale in her vacation home community.  My friends, Lila and Rhonda, are great customers and I love that they are sharing my soaps with others.  (This post was prompted by these women and their inquires to what I have available)

The ingredients:  Water (sometimes snow), lye, olive oil, organic coconut oil, palm oil and essential oils.  Some soaps will have exfoliants added, such as ground oatmeal or lavender flowers or cinnamon.

Cinnamon/Orange with ground cinnamon.

soap cinnamon orange

March Flakes (made in March with snow), ground lavender flowers, essential oils – lemon, lavender and rosemary. 

Sold out!

soap March flakes

Patchouli/Orange, ground oatmeal, essential oils – patchouli, orange, lemon.

soap patchouli orange

Lavender and Lemongrass

Sold Out!

soap Lavender & Lemongrass

This soap is an exception…I have cut small bars, each about 2 oz each and put them together as a set to equal 4 oz.

Top bar: March Flakes (made in March with snow), ground lavender flowers, essential oils – lemon, lavender and rosemary.

Bottom bar: Lemon/Lavender, ground cinnamon, essential oils – lemon and lavender.

Sold Out!

soap small bars

My newest soaps…

Juniper, Lavender & Rosemary

soap Juniper lavender rosemary

Lavender, Vanilla & Patchouli

soap swirl patchouli vanilla

Felted soap…

Essential Oils:  Lavender, Vanilla & Patchouli (these might be closer to 3 oz. bars)  $3

soap felted

My soaps weigh about 4 ounces/bar.  Each bar is $3.

A great gift for someone special could be soap and a small container of my Beeswax Body Balms or Healing Balms.