With Love, From the Little House

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A lot of people told me that speaking for TEDx would be fun. Or, what an amazing opportunity. Or wow, that must feel great. I love these people. I think these people, in general, are geniuses. But also that was not exactly true. I think what I needed to hear was something like, “You will get through it. And then you can go to bed right afterwards.” That’s the kind of wisdom that I need painted all over the walls, and maybe on the back of my hands, too, whenever I work on vulnerable, soul-baring, challenging, creative things.

Latest From The Blog

In Defense of Doing Hard Things (VIDEO)

This talk is for you if you're spinning your wheels, or if you need a call to courage, or if you need to be kinder to yourself. This talk is for you if you're doing something hard and you need a friend. And certainly it was for me, because I needed all those things.

Getting Stuck in the Snow, and What Else I’ve Been Up To

Hello, friends! If you follow me only when I write words you're a little bit behind. I've been short of words lately. Run clean out of words. But don't worry, you didn't miss much. We [...]

It’s Here!

In some magic world, launch day is the day to say wise, conclusive things about the importance of story and the importance of community and how wonderful it is to share our gifts with the world. HAHAHAHAHA.

Deep Snow and Soft Mercies

I'm so ready for Christmas. As so many of us are. Whether it's the coming of Christ or the coming of the snow or a needed vacation, or all of the above, so many of us just could use a little bit of star-shine right about now.

The House in the Woods

The first snow of the year and the kids were too sick to play in it. The head cold is working its way through from youngest to oldest. Sadie had it first and now she’s [...]

New Days and Superpowers

It's November and the yurt is pierced with cold. We've entered the darkest season of the year. Night falls long before you want it and sticks around long after its welcome is worn out. The worst part is that this isn't even the worst part. For the next four weeks -- the weeks of Advent -- the days will get shorter and shorter yet.

Secret Messages and Beautiful Things

I read somewhere in the midst of my Facebook feed yesterday that God's voice through all this is saying, "I love you. I love you. I love you." It may be drowned out by all the things. Real trauma, real nonsense, real dialogue. But it is still there, through the mist: this beautiful truth that we are loved.

A Fireside Chat (VIDEO)

Today's Thursday video is a hopeful and restful chat beside the fire, with emphasis on self care and the question of whether you can identify a certain obscure literary reference.

Lessons from a Life Without Electricity (VIDEO)

The video I posted this morning is a sweet story for hope in dark places, and also a glimpse of my life without electricity. Enjoy!

Latest From Instagram

  • Hi, everybody! Here's where Esther disappeared to for another month. It's right in front of my driveway, where I raked and leveled and dug out drain rock and road mix and now we have... a rain garden! It is designed to catch water from the driveway and slow it down as it travels down the hill. Plantings and mulch will make it so there isn't standing water. Here it is right after a rain, before the sheet mulch, and it's working perfectly!! ... I can't always justify the way I like to work with my hands and make something that is real. But if you've ever had the urge to use your own hands and arms to bring beauty to an inhospitable place, I know you understand. I can't wait to see it green up in the spring! ❤️❤️

#slowandsteady #theimpossiblefarm #rainwaterharvesting #yesimadethepaverstoo #wherearenickandesther
  • And here is Stella. In her pajamas, sitting on a rock. She's come out to see what mom is working on today, which is stealing away a bit of our giant driveway for garden, and therefore moving gravel and sand the way I do, one bucket at a time.
We hit the jackpot with this kid. She is powerful and capable and, like her dad, loves to see the mark of her hands on the world. She's eight, and third grade doesn't always agree with her, but at least she has a list ten names long of people who want her to make them adorable yarn purses or a scarf. 
It is her dream to someday have a shop where she can sell the things she makes -- beaded jewelry and yarn arts right now, and I've no doubt she'll also be skilled in wood and steel before too long, as she is fierce and curious and likes to get up on a chilly Saturday morning and see what's what. 
Her dad's shop is rising out of the dirt off camera to her right. It is slow but sure and I hope it teaches her that anything is possible. 
#smallgoodthings #stellaforstar #offgridliving #freerangekids
  • This kid and his shovel. ❤️ We don't require of our kids that they help us with projects. They have to do their daily chores. And they have to learn the skills that we can teach them. But shovel work is neither of those things. This kid jumped up in the back of the truck to help with gravel just because he thinks that's a cool thing to do. Or...maybe because when the mudroom foundation is done he can walk through our front door again. :) We've never made progress out here -- real, value-adding progress -- without working our tails off. And this year is no exception. But there's hope, folks. There's hope. #justkeepswimming #homesteadfamily #whistlewhileyouwork
  • Okay, here is my favorite of the Esther projects that have kept me so quiet this fall. (Geek alert.) So i dug out five of these four by six foot deep beds in my garden. I used the subsoil to build a water retaining berm on the downslope side of the garden (which is a flat spot on a MOUNTAIN) to harvest topsoil and mulch instead of losing it every spring in the snow melt. Now I've got 12 pullets (young chickens) in my four by six foot moveable chicken pen. And they're filling up the holes with compost for me! I add two flakes of clean straw each day. They add the nitrogen and do the stirring. Two weeks per hole, which is plenty of time to dig the next one, and if winter weren't pretty much tomorrow I'd keep this pattern going for a long time. #winning #yesiplannedthat #gardenlove #whereareNickandEsther
  • Home again, home again, and back to work. We have just a few more weeks to close up all the open holes and unfinished projects before old man frost and the winter fairies come and RUIN EVERYTHING. So of course we're on a tear. :) Here is Nick using tube steel to bend rebar for reinforcing the shop foundation. And making some kind of wisecrack, so everything is normal. :)
  • Here is Milo. He is ten. The big double digits have been hit in our house! I love his company so much. We can talk about books forever and ever and this is my great windfall. Chores are easy as can be with Milo at my side because we discuss all the books. The books we're reading and the books we are writing! His is rather in the beginning stages, but let's be honest, so is mine. 😂Really, the best thing I can say about Milo is that he knows who he is. May it always be so. Happy (late) birthday to a child who is now also a friend. 😳❤️
  • My new favorite coffee cup from Southern mama's coffee break. :) I'm having a great day at #homesteadersofamerica. My talk is done. My books are all sold. And now I get to hang out and get to know some lovely folks who believe in using their own hands to build a life that matters. And then...then I get to go home to my sunny children and my warm rocket mass heater and that will be good, too. Thanks for the hospitality, VA!
  • Here is little Sadie getting big. She is drawing pictures and supervising in Nick's "shop" which so far is six piers and a bunch of dirt, while Nick is building cabinets beside her. (He being officially a custom cabinet maker will explain once and for all why we have not a single cabinet in the Little House. Not one. 😂😂) Maybe when the shop is all built and boring she'll remember the days she spent with the sky for a roof hanging out with her dad while he turns blank wood into beautiful things. Maybe by then our house will have a cabinet or two. 😊
  • Look at these big girls! We're stacking wood in the little barn that used to be home to our goats. Fall is coming on fast because I tried so hard to hold on to summer. ... It's a beautiful life. I don't want to miss any of it. But fall is here for real. The wind is cold. Rain is falling. Even the tomatoes are slowing down. We're cleaning out the rocket stove for another season of crackling fires and applesauce in mason jars. ... It's good that there is beauty in the fall and winter, too, even if I don't feel quite ready for how fast the seasons turn!
  • Garden love. ❤️
  • Little girl + elderberry tree. 😍😊
  • It looks like a workshop. Except it doesn't have any walls on it. Ahh!! No progress is visible as Nick is building some beautiful custom doors for somebody other than us today. But he did finish drawing up the plans for the real workshop -- which really will stand right where this makeshift set up is! -- and sent them off to the engineer to be checked out. So there's something to smile about. Now to get the sleepy little one off to bed. Sweet dreams everybody! I hope you can celebrate your small steps today, even if the big task seems untouched.