We are so glad you found us and Welcome you to join our family as we travel through life’s adventures and discover new routes together!
Mike is a self- employed General Contractor, an outdoors-man, a carpenter, a runner, and a hands-on dad who loves his kids, traveling and creating new things.
Adriana is a retired documentary film producer, full-time mom who loves her children, gardening, cooking, crafting, traveling and a simpler lifestyle that incorporates a slower pace.
We have rediscovered our routes through striving to live simpler, traveling in our travel trailer and being a full time family. We hope to inspire you to rediscover yours! Join us on this journey as we navigate life as a family of six, home-school, travel in our camper, care for the environment, and practice living in a better way.
For most of us, the holiday season may not look the same this year. Traditions we hold dear to our hearts may not be safe, like gathering together and celebrating the joys of life or sharing in a hug or a good meal. Change isn’t easy. Making hard choices isn’t either, but keeping those we hold dear to us safe is a courageous task. Making sacrifices for the better of humanity and our communities as a whole is admirable. Even though things may not look the same, I hope that in your lives there is so much to be grateful for. During this time of year, there are so many great lessons to be had about life’s blessings and joy.
I always find this time of year so very special for reflecting on life and gratitude. Although adjusting to the time change can be a challenge in our house, I love the natural slowing down of the rhythm of our household as we follow the seasonal rhythm of nature around us. As darkness falls earlier, we all gather for an early dinner and enjoy special family time baking, crafting, playing games and reading together by the coziness of the fire.
Although, certain traditions have been challenged this year, there are some that remain that have become even more precious and cherished; like family and our time shared together. The holiday season is an incredibly special time for reflection. Some traditions that the kids and I have maintained that help us to continue some routine are exploring topics during the fall and winter seasons that help us to reflect on hardship, resilience, gratitude and hope.
We usually start off the school year and fall season by studying the first settlers in our country, the voyage and hardships of the pilgrims and those that traveled out west along with the courage and strength of the Native American tribes in America. Some of our favorite books with great stories and projects are: A Pioneer Thanksgiving and A Pioneer Christmas by Barbara Greenwood, American Kids in History Colonial Days by David C. King, Earth Maker’s Lodge: Native American Folklore, Activities and Foods by E. Barrie Kavasch and North American Indians; The Hands-on Approach to History by Andrew Haslam and Alexandra Parsons.
We also take this time to do a lot of free writing in our journals. Sometimes I give the kids writing prompts asking them to put themselves in the shoes of one of the characters in the stories we are reading, having them reflect on how they may have acted or felt, we sometimes write poetry or short stories based on our readings, they have also written their own creative legends inspired by the Native American legends we’ve read. One of our favorite things to do is make costumes and perform a play, either one the kids have created or a story from our readings. We craft and bake and try out some recipes from the pioneers and the Native Americans; fresh gingerbread, plum pudding, corn husk dolls, making Native American housing and Christmas Pomanders, woven baskets out of raffia, vases out of clay and we’ve even made our own loom and done some weaving!
A project I try to do each year with the kids is to make some ‘Gratitude Buntings.’ We simply cut some twill fabric into triangle or rectangle shapes, make apple prints or paint them and then write something we are grateful for on them. We then attach the buntings to some yarn with a glue gun and hang them either in the dining room or on our mantel throughout the holiday season.
If you’re looking for some great read aloud stories or independent reading for your older children some books we have enjoyed are: Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink and Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac.
The books below are also some great read aloud’s for children of all ages.
Earthmaker, help us to cherish these gifts that surround us and to share our blessings with our brothers and our sisters so that our world is continually blessed.
Native American Blessing
During these uncertain times I have found that we are reminded of our own human resilience as we study those of our ancestors. Human beings have been through this before and we will make it through. The journey may not be easy, but it will make us stronger as individuals and as families. Everything we know and love that is missed, will be cherished even more when the time allows it to return to us. Have Hope, stay safe and strong and may you be surrounded by life’s blessings and gratitude.
Fall is always a special time of year. We look forward to all the local fall festivals, pumpkin and apple picking, baking, crafting and working on our Halloween costumes. This year with the current pandemic and social distancing, we’ve had to get a little more creative with our fall activities, but surprisingly the kids are ever resilient and have come up with some clever and creative ways to keep things exciting! I hope some of these fun ideas add to your Halloween Festivities!
Leo put together a fall festival for us all with a pumpkin rolling contest, a hay ride on his peddle tractor, bouncing in the bounce house and even a picture booth he painted and made from a cardboard box!
He and Lily also set up an archery station with bails of hay creating a fun family archery challenge.
The kids have been putting together their homemade costumes and since we won’t be able to trick-or-treat this year, they have decided that they will change costumes and visit our front door a couple times! This idea has actually worked out well for those who can’t commit to one costume!
To add some science and math to our Halloween fun, we made magic math ghosts and pumpkins. To do this, draw some pumpkins and ghosts on watercolor paper and write some math equations for your child to solve. Write the answers in white crayon and after your child has solved the problems, have them watercolor paint over the hidden answers and watch them appear like magic!
We had some science fun by blowing up orange pumpkin balloons with gas! This is a simple science project using an empty plastic bottle, vinegar and baking soda. To do this, add 1/3 cup vinegar to the empty bottle, have your child draw a pumpkin face on the balloon, use a funnel to add two tablespoons baking soda to the balloon, put the balloon around the plastic bottle top and stand the balloon up so that the baking soda falls to the bottom of the bottle – the chemical reaction will instantly inflate the balloon!
We also made some tissue paper pumpkin piñata’s to fill with Halloween surprises that the kids will search for on a Halloween Treasure Hunt! To make the piñata’s we used balloons and modge-podged 3-4 layers of orange tissue paper. Once they are dry you can pop the balloon, fill it up with treats and then modge-podge a couple layers over the opening to seal it up. The kids gave their pumpkins faces, which you can do with marker or glue on with construction or tissue paper.
Last, but not least, we always carve pumpkins on Halloween! Light them up and bring them indoors – it adds a cozy atmosphere for telling stories as you wind down the night!
Ok, so you’ve joined the slow food movement – you have a garden, you’re baking bread and you’re making meals from scratch – what else is there to do, but venture into the crazy world of making your own homemade cheese! I know, it may sound crazy, maybe even impossible, but trust me, once you give it a try, you’ll appreciate the simplicity of making something that seems so ordinary, yet connects you to age-old artisan traditions. I am a cheese fan; always have been, always will be. I cannot put into words, my true love for not just cheese, but fresh cheese, especially goat cheese! One of my fondest memories of a trip to Italy is of a summer stay in the mountain village in which my father grew up and discovering our neighbor, the goat farmer, and his cheese making business. Barley twenty years old this young farmer was already running his own cheese business and raising goats on the family farm. It was a simple, yet impressive operation that left not only an imprint on my tastebuds, but on my heart. It was a glimpse into the old-fashioned, slower paced living that Mike and I craved and left us amazed at how during modern day times, here was a young entrepreneur, in a remote mountain village, raising goats and making delicious cheese in the cellar of his family’s home.
When we returned to New England, Mike and I both were on a hunt for goat cheese that reminded us of Italy. Fortunately, we live in an area where local farmers never seize to amaze me and to my great delight we discovered that some of the best goat cheese in the US is made right around the corner! And I do mean this literally because my fabulous goat farming neighbor makes some unbelievable chèvre!
If you haven’t ever given cheese making a try you’d be surprised at how easy it is to make a simple farm cheese for the family to enjoy! We use raw goat’s milk from our neighbor’s farm, but you can substitute raw cow milk or pasteurized cow milk for cheese making.
1 Quart Raw Goats Milk or Pasteurized Goat Milk (Don’t used Ultra-pastuerized milk) *Cow Milk can be substituted
Cheese cloth (made of cotton, not synthetic materials)
Medium sized cooking pan
Wooden spoon and ladle
Juice of two lemons (4 tablespoons)
In a medium saucepan, heat milk until it reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Let stand until set, about 15 seconds. If milk does not set, add a little more lemon juice.
Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth. Ladle set milk into colander. Tie the four corners of cheesecloth together; hang on the handle of a wooden spoon set over a deep bowl and let drain until it is the consistency of slightly dry cottage cheese, 1 to 2 hours. Transfer to a bowl and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, up to 1 week.
Once you’ve separated the curds from the whey, save the whey to add to other recipes. Whey has several nutritional benefits. It is full of protein, calcium and potassium. We use it as a substitute for buttermilk when making pancakes and it is a great substitute for water when making pizza dough.
If you’re interested in purchasing a cheese making kit or getting some more information about cheese making, the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company has a fantastic website with great information, recipes, kits, cultures and supplies. Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll is also a great resource.
Wishing you all some time to enjoy the slower pace of life, to experiment in the kitchen cultivating memories and bringing the process of food making back to the center of family life! We all care a little more about the product, when we are involved in the process – true for food and for life.
My kids love mysteries. Recently, we’ve been exploring some great US History Mysteries through books and research. It’s a great way to learn more about history and geography while practicing some logic and reasoning skills. Our most recent US History Mystery was about The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that burned from October 8th to the 10th destroying thousands of buildings, killing an estimated 300 people and causing millions in damages. Reasons for the fire are still debated today, but legend has it that a cow in the O’Leary family’s barn kicked over a lantern and started the fire. The O’Leary’s denied this charge and the true cause of the fire has never been determined. Other theories allude that someone trying to steal milk or a group of men playing a card game were trespassing on the property that night and caused the fire. Scientists have even theorized about a possible meteor causing the event due to evidence in the area! What is known is that, dry weather conditions, lots of wooden city buildings and a polluted river all seemed to leave Chicago vulnerable to the fire. The fire quickly grew out of control and devastated an area of the city about four miles long and almost a mile wide.
Fortunately, some positive change came from an unfortunate event. The aftermath lead to better building and fire codes, rebuilding the city and spurring great economic development and population growth. It’s a great topic to explore in US History, architecture, city development and living conditions, along with using logic and reasoning skills to discern information.
After our research, Ava (11) and Lily (9), decided to create a fire art scene of what the city may have looked like that night long ago. They used paper, pastels and acrylic paints to create the blazing background and then drew in the city skyline over the paint with black charcoal pencil.
The Virginia Mystery Series
If you’re looking for a great History’s Mysteries series for kids ages 6-12, The Virginia Mystery Series by Steven K. Smith is an exciting read aloud History and Adventure series that my family has enjoyed. The stories are modern-day fictional mysteries with some twists to real locations and events from Virginia history. We’ve had a lot of fun reading these books and exploring some of the events and historical figures a little deeper.
Here’s to sparking a love of reading, an interest in US history and challenging kids logic and reasoning skills – Enjoy the Adventure!
Nothing says New England quite like the fall season; red, yellow and orange leaves, the crisp autumn air, farm stands full of winter squash and pumpkins and of course Apples! Apples are one of the first signs of Autumn and have been an essential part of New England agriculture for centuries. Apple picking is a Fall family tradition around here and we truly can never pick enough! We not only love to cook and bake with our apples, but have found some fun ways to craft with them too!
One of the kids favorite Apple Crafts is to cut an apple in half, dip it into some tempura paint and press them onto fabric or paper to create “Apple Prints.” I’ve been doing this fun, easy project with my kids since they were 4 years old and they still have fun experimenting with apple prints today!
If you’d like to give apple printing a try all you need are these materials:
Cotton or twill fabric
Tempura paint and brush (and something to pour paint onto for dipping)
A long stick or dowel rod
Hot glue gun & glue
String or yarn for hanging
Extra fabric cut into leaf shapes and modge podge to glue the leaves onto the fabric.
Cut your fabric to fit the size of your stick or dowel; fold top edge of fabric over stick and hot glue gun in place (you can also hand sew this if you prefer)
Pour your paint onto a pallet for dipping; dip sliced apple into paint or apply a thin coat with a paint brush (encourage your child to experiment with the amount of paint, but the less paint, the better, so you can see the star print)
Press apple onto fabric and remove
If adding fabric leaves, apply modge podge glue with a paint brush (this glue will be transparent when dry so it is a good idea to brush it under and on top of the leaves.
Tie yarn or string to each end of stick to hang for display
*You can also create beautiful apple prints on paper
Looking for some great book series ideas for your 9-13 year olds? – Ava (my 11-year-old daughter) has put together a list of some of her favorites that are sure to encourage reading, inspire writing and take your kids on some wild adventures!
Percy Jackson And The Olympians by Rick Riordan
This book is about a 12 year old boy who is the son of a god. Soon he finds himself on an adventure. With the help of two friends the adventure unfolds as they head across the country to retrieve Zeus’s stolen lightning bolt! Each book in this series has a new challenge filed with action, excitement and lessons on greek mythology. (5 book series)
2. Sammy Keyes book series by Wendelin Van Draanen
This book is about a girl named Sammy Keyes. Sammy somehow always gets into trouble, maybe because she lives illegally with her grandmother in a seniors only building. When she sees a man stealing money out of a purse, her life seams to get a lot more exciting! A modern-day Nancy Drew on many mysterious adventures. This series is filled with mystery, excitement, and adventure! (18 book series)
3. Explorer Academy by Trudi Truett
Explorer Academy is a book about a boy named Cruz who lost his Mom and is trying to keep her scientific formula out of the wrong hands. Cruz is invited to join an academy where they travel all over the world on missions. While solving mysteries for the academy and following clues to recover his mother’s secret formula, Cruz helps save Gorilla’s, talks with whales, explores archeological sites, ice caves and deserts. This book has adventure, science, underwater exploration, mystery and excitement! Explorer Academy is a great book series for boys and girls. (5 book series)
4. Framed! by James Ponti
Framed is about a boy named Florian Bates. Florian is only 12 years old, but the FBI needs his help! Florian is recruited by the FBI to help solve international mysteries with his observation technique called T.O.A.S.T. T.O.A.S.T, “The Theory of All Small Things,” is a method Florian created to help solve life’s little mysteries. With the help of his new friend, Margaret, Florian has to solve the FBI mystery and escape the bad guys! This is a funny and exciting series. (3 book series)
2. Spy School by Stuart Gibbs
Spy School is about a boy named Ben Ripley. Ben is recruited into an undercover school where kids train to be spies. Ben is joined by his teammates on undercover missions all over the U.S.A to try to stop a secret organization. Stuart Gibbs is one of my favorite authors! He creates interesting character development combining humor with adventure. (8 book series).
Note: Author draws attention to environmental concerns regarding climate change and endangered species.
Wishing you and your children some exciting literary adventures that take you beyond your imagination and inspire seeking out new interests and information!
Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”
I have a hard time with letting go. I really never like to see the warmth and beauty of summer come to an end or the days grow shorter. Seasons, like children, really mark the passing of time in a way that reminds me of the preciousness of life. Change is forever a constant and no matter how much I want my garden to keep on growing, little Jack Frost makes his presence known and bites my plants smack on the nose! I have a sadness in seeing the life of these beautiful plants that sustain us come to an end. Our garden has been so good to us. From one small seed, the earth gives us so much. So, as I move from harvesting the beautiful bounty of September into the cooler Autumn weather, I try to find the balance between Giving Thanks and Letting Go.
The kids and I have been very busy this past month picking fruits and veggies before the first frost. We’ve harvested red tomatoes, green tomatoes and lots and lots of cherry tomatoes! We’ve had a fantastic crop of butternut squash, peppers, eggplant, pumpkins and fall greens. Our raspberry bushes produced better this year than they ever have, but unfortunately some white, wiggly worms took up residence in our beautiful berries! Leo and Ava kept telling me that they saw worms in their raspberries and didn’t want to eat them. I thought that sounded crazy – worms, in raspberries? Well, after picking a pint full one evening I took a look inside a couple and yes, saw some little white worms dancing all around! Now the kids won’t touch them. I can’t blame them, my stomach turns at the thought of eating worms too! I have tried following some suggested remedies for the problem, but with no luck, sadly, the raspberries have been left for the birds. It’s a problem I hope to prevent in next summers crop!
Aside from some raspberry worms, there has been so much to be grateful for. We have been getting creative and learning lots of new things with this years harvest; like how to cure butternut squash, how to pickle green tomatoes, how to dry green beans to use the beans inside soups, how to dry and preserve herbs and how if you’re not prepared, one cool 34 degree night can easily frost what’s left in your garden! New England weather is funny like that, you can be enjoying an Indian Summer and then out of nowhere it’s time for your fleece jackets and winter caps. Fortunately, all the tomatoes were picked and Ava and Vivi had a fine time picking every last little stem off of the hundreds of cherry tomatoes before we froze them!
Farmer Leo also had a great crop of pumpkins and gourds this year! Never have we eaten so many pumpkin pies before Thanksgiving! We have been roasting pumpkins on a weekly basis and what we don’t use right away we’ve frozen for latter. Leo love’s making pies, but we’ve also been creative and made pumpkin soup, pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread rolls, pumpkin smoothies and pumpkin bread! Oh, the many ways to cook a pumpkin!
I couldn’t have been more proud of my farmer, then when he stood outside for twenty minutes holding up his sunflower during our mini-East Coast hurricane! He showed our family what a big heart and dedication looks like as he saved his 12 foot prize sunflower!
Fall is a time of harvest, a time of joy, hard work and in giving thanks to the earth that sustains us! It’s a time when we work hard together to preserve the sweet tastes of summer that will not only nourish our bodies, but our souls as we navigate through the cold winter months ahead. Fall is also a time of letting go. It is a time to slow down and reflect on all that we have in our lives and find comfort in the changes. We all need a time for rest in order to renew. Spring will return and with it, so will the garden and the gifts of the earth. In taking time to give thanks, we have appreciation for today and in letting go, we have hope and a belief in tomorrow.
Wishing you all – the endless beauties of the earth’s bounties and in finding the true gift in Giving Thanks and Letting Go
"To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn,
There is a Season; Turn, Turn, Turn,
And a Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven"
- Pete Seeger
“Once I had a pumpkin, a pumpkin, a pumpkin…” This tune is a favorite of Vivi’s, my 22 month old, right now as she dances around the house singing “pa-kin, pa-kin” and encourages us all to join in. She too is getting into the fall spirit! Fall is here! – and our household is busily making the shift from summer into fall. We are pulling our fleece apparel out of the closet and searching for our fall bin of decorations. I always have a hard time saying goodbye to summer, but living in New England over the years, has helped me fall in love with Fall! Getting outdoors in the cool, crisp air, hiking the mountain range taking in the warm autumn colors, picking apples and pumpkins and eating them! It is now a season that I truly look forward to and especially love sharing its beauty with my children!
As we prepare for the Fall Equinox on Tuesday September 22nd, the kids and I have been putting together our fall nature table, doing some fall decorating and nature crafts and putting together idea’s for our fall festive feast with local ingredients for Tuesday. As you may have guessed, the menu includes lot’s of pumpkin recipes! Fortunately, Leo’s pumpkin patch has been very rewarding this year. We have already carved and roasted 12 pumpkins! With more still to be picked! My little pumpkin farmer has carried his pumpkin interests into the kitchen and we’ve been busy making some of our pumpkin favorites.
Beyond its delicious taste, pumpkin is nutritious and linked to many health benefits. It is good for your heart health, your immune system, and contains a variety of nutrients that can improve your overall health. There are so many ways you can use pumpkin purée. I add it to our oatmeal, to our tomato sauce and put it in our smoothies. The kids love fresh pumpkin butter on a slice of bread. We’ve also enjoyed pumpkin soup, pumpkin ginger quick bread, and of course, giant pumpkin pies! Surprisingly, no matter how big we make them, we never seem to have leftovers!
One of our family favorite pumpkin recipes are Pumpkin Rolls from The Artful Year by Jean Van’t Hul. These rolls are easy to make and taste fantastic. They don’t last long in our house!
1 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
4 Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
2 1/2 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Butter
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
Whisk milk, water, brown sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice together in a saucepan. Heat the mixture over low heat until warm (not hot).
Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the eggs and yeast.
Mix the flours together in a large bowl. make a well in the center and pour in the milk-egg mixture (but don’t stir). Cover the bowl with a lid or plate and set aside for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pan. Remove from the heat. Add the pumpkin puree and stir until blended.
When the 30 minutes are up, add the pumpkin-butter mixture to the bowl of flour and stir to combine the ingredients.
Place the dough on a clean counter and shape it into a ball. Cover the dough with the inverted bowl and let it rise for 20 minutes.
Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface, then shape it into small rolls. The dough is sticky, but try not to add too much flour.
Place the rolls on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Let them rise for another 20 minutes.
During this last rise, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bake the rolls for 15 minutes. They are delicious warm or at room temperature.
Wishing you all a Festive Fall Equinox Celebration! Enjoy the Autumn Sunshine, Go on a nature hike, Make some fall themed nature crafts, have a fall harvest feast, watch the leaves turn, make a bonfire and roast some marshmallows – Reflect upon your gratitude for nature and the earth!
I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.
Animal, Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver is always on my nightstand. I read and fell in love with this book years ago when I planted my first vegetable garden in my city-living courtyard! A part of me still dreams of running a homestead as Kingsolver has accomplished in this book – someday maybe. I was truly inspired by Kingsolver and her family. She captures the true joys and hardships of being a family, working together and the simple joys of life. Kingsolver, her husband and two daughters leave the comforts of their Tuscon, Arizona home and travel across the country to settle in a rural town in Virginia determined to live off their land for one year – they only buy food raised in their own neighborhood or grow it themselves. Their story is one of human resilience, rediscovering your roots, the rewards of self-sufficiency and the love of food! It is an empowering read that is extremely informative about the politics of food and how we can all benefit by taking our food into our own hands.
This book couldn’t be more relevant than at a time when we are dealing with a global pandemic that has encouraged many across the globe to become more self-sufficient, connect with a slower pace and care more about the earth that sustains us all.
The beautiful stories woven throughout this book are of the joys of growing food, the hardships and rewards and what you can do in your own simple ways no matter how big or small to nourish your own mind, body and soul – and by doing it, make this world a little better. I hope this inspiring story finds its way into your heart and home and maybe even finds a place on your nightstand!
Tell Me What You Eat and I Will Tell You What You Are.