Leaving Home


Margaret Maeve 10, Adrien 9, Seán Proinsias 7, Tadhg 6, Nuala 4

Finances and food are big sources of our motivation towards inventive self-sufficiency, but there is one more reason–our future.  We are planning a family business around our homefarm and that directs much of our thinking and choices also.   Learning as we go along has shown to be a long and hard way of getting there. Continue reading

How To Make A Reversible Book Cover with Pen Holder and Bookmark–Beginner Sewing Project 2

Reversible Book Cover Tutorial

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It’s was time to think about Christmas gifts for my children’s school teachers and also about getting a move on making the next sewing tutorial.  Again, I completed both tasks in the one go.    Continue reading

Eggnog, Mulled Wine, and Kombucha Tea

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Sorry, no eggnog or mulled wine in this post, but all three group together so well during this festive time of year that I could not resist mentioning them.  Last night I toted these soon to be nineteen liters of kombucha tea up the stairs and into the hot press where they will stay warm and cozy.  Soon those magical bubbles will appear and, not long after, they will be ready for bottling. At that time they’re fine for drinking so we’ll all imbibe a little, but we prefer to second ferment them with fresh fruit, spices, and various flavorings.  Cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger is one of my favorite winter warmers. Vanilla sticks make the healthiest cream soda you’ll ever taste–it is just WOW!  And any berry is a must all year round.  I’m not sure what other flavours we will be making, but they’re all sure to be delicious, nutritious, and just in time for the Christmas giving.  And now I have a full year to concoct fermented versions of eggnog and mulled wine!

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Same View, Different House


This picture is of my own house (the house Johnny’s mum grew up in).  This picture was taken in the 1970’s and used for a postcard as late as 2007.  Even though the thatch was removed in the early 80’s, this picture was the cover of a calendar in the mid-80’s.  I often think I would have loved living in this house and have wished it still looked this way.  But, honestly, the removal of the thatch was probably to our benefit as we’d never have wanted to remove it ourselves and they are loads of work to upkeep.  Just thought it would be nice to share as I came across the postcard today.  Melissa Xx



Some people choose a life of subsistence; for others, it chooses them. This is an example of the latter with a smattering of history, economics, and sociology in there as well. I really enjoy how richly authentic this is written.

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Homemade Christmas Gifts for Nieces and Nephews

One thing I've learned from having five children is how much they all love pillows.

One thing I’ve learned from having five children is how much they all love pillows.

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1/3 full or 2/3 empty?

The last of 2 kilos… I would’ve made more if I’d only known how good it would be.

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Crochet Tea Cozy Pattern

The Aran Fisherman Tea Cozy

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In the cool Irish climate, I quickly became accustomed to wearing a sweater most of the year. So did my pot of tea. Cozies keep a pot of tea hot for so long that they’re useful any time of the year. And they’re just so darn cute!!

The Aran Islands have a worldwide reputation for their tradition of producing beautiful knit sweaters. My love for crochet (and inability to knit) led me to dabbling with recreating the traditional Irish hand-knit stitches in the best way I knew how. This tea cozy is one of the results.

Though there are a couple of different interpretations out there about the meaning of each Aran stitch, that they each have their own meaning is never disputed. In this design, the straight cables are the fisherman’s rope. The diamonds symbolize success and wealth, and in their centre is the bobble representing a net full of fish. I’ve been told that the outline of a fish or two is visible as well. What do you think? Continue reading

Mum, how many days until Santa comes?

Rows of numbered squares sewn as pockets to a background which is then batted, backed, bias tape bound, and somewhat quilted together and, voila, an advent calendar is materialised–pun intended, obviously. Continue reading

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