Posted by: ourbakersdozen | February 13, 2018

Throw back Thursday on a Tuesday

I have a habit of getting sayings and expressions wrong so it’s only fitting that while the rest of the world is doing ‘Throw Back Thursday’ – that I should have chosen to do Throw Back Tuesday. I just liked the idea of starting the week with a throw back instead of finishing the week with it and did not realize that Throw Back Thursday was a thing…  And since I’m largely writing this blog for my kids to be able to read later and laugh over memories of years gone by – it seems only fitting that they be able to laugh (once again) at my not quite getting it right. So from now on I believe I will call these posts “Throw Back Thursday on a Tuesday”.

In honour of this new title I think I will honour my fifth daughter whose birthday was yesterday with a collage of photos from the past 20  years as I don’t have online access to her earlier photos. Someday I need to take the time to scan and upload a lot of the family pictures taken before the internet and the “cloud” took over our photographic lives. This year is our second year of not having Gabriela home for her birthday. It’s a difficult adjusting to your daughter leaving home to live the life of a religious with a “new family” Because when you join a religious order  (Scroll to page 14 to see pictures of the ceremony.) you really do adopt a new family and leave your old one behind. But I draw comfort from what one of her new sisters said to me after the enrollment ceremony.  She came up and hugged me and said “Remember you are not losing a daughter; you are gaining so many new ones.”

Gabbys Collage 2018


So many beautiful memories captured here. Christmases,  Jenny’s wedding, Alicia’s wedding shower, visits with Aimee, snuggling new babies, snow days, trips to the zoo, outings to the movies. Kids writing and producing their own plays.
A little vacation Gabriela treated me to a few years ago – that’s the photo of the steak dinner we shared the last day of our vacation.


 Happy Birthday Gabby girl – we are looking forward to talking to you tonight!

Posted by: ourbakersdozen | February 8, 2018

The flu…

oreganol oil and bone broth…

See you on Throw back Tuesday – hopefully

Bone broth

(Mine does not have apple cider – I’m too dizzy to look for it)


Posted by: ourbakersdozen | February 6, 2018

Throw back Tuesday: Snow Men

Sunday the landscape was decorated with ice. Naked trees were dressed in icicle florets. And this got me thinking about snowmen and how we missed the opportunity to build one last month when we were graced with close to six inches of snow. We almost always have snow at least once in the month of February so we might get a second chance. Sometimes we get a taste of snow in January and occasionally even as late as March we are gifted with a light dusting. Rarely do we get enough in March that we can actually build a snowman. However, as I perused the years of snow photos and possibly shed a tear or two over how little these kids were even just a short time ago that I’ve collected over the years in old blog posts, facebook and my current laptop – I came across a series of photos that tells the story of two little girls and their determination to build a snowman after a very light dusting of snow in March of 2012.

snowman 2012 bAs you can see they really did not have a lot of snow to work with. So they came up with a solution.


snowman 2012 d

They borrowed a small cooler from me – one with a handle and just large enough that filled with snow they could still carry it about. And thus began the many treks through the yard, back and forth…

snowman 2012 c

Until they had enough to accomplish what they had set out to do….

snowman 2012f

Now if you look closely enough, you will notice that this snowman is not conforming with conventional snowmen norms. He is neither sporting coal for his buttons nor wearing a carrot for his nose.

Snowman 2012 a

Emma and Elsa are still as filled with determination, as they were that day, when they tackle something they want to accomplish. Currently Emma is learning how to do wood burning and Elsa is often found creating intricate designs in ink. Usually on paper but sometimes on wood. You can find an example of one of Emma’s woodburnings on Elysiansmiths – the family instagram account run by our son, Benjamin. However, recently Emma started her own instagram account to showcase some of her work.

If you have time be sure to check out some of their photos. See you next Tuesday!

elsas art work on woodA block of wood that Elsa decorated. She learned by watching her brother.


Posted by: ourbakersdozen | February 1, 2018

Creating Memories and Heirlooms

Scroll saw collage

When you are a large family living on a single income owning nice things is problematic on so many levels. The first is simply the cost of purchasing new items of a high quality. It is hard to justify such an expense even though better quality typically means items will last longer – unless of course you have several children who love to play cops and robbers, star trek adventures and other typical rough and tumble games. Then you see canvas tents destroyed with a single thrust of a makeshift sword, rainstorms pouring through the chandelier of the dining room ceiling and similar lifecidents.
Thus the beauty of being able to hand craft your own special treasures is that you are able to afford handsome items at a very affordable price – raw materials and elbow grease coupled with a hefty dose of fun memories.

It also means that I can ask for some rather spectacular gifts.

I got this box (upcycled from an old oak dresser) for storing my essential oils for Christmas in 2016…


and this essential oil shelf (from reclaimed wood) for my birthday the year before:

essential oil shelf


And for my birthday in 2016 I asked for this:

my birthday gift the coffee table 2016

That year when my husband asked me what I would like for my birthday I did a bit of thinking and decided on a coffee table. So I started poking around the internet looking for something that would suit our living room.  I found one I liked that was larger than the one we actually made. We scaled it back so that it would not dominate our more formal living space. Then Hugo and I went out and purchased the wood and stain together. A week later I had this coffee table in time for Christmas.

If you recall I shared in my post Undergoing Life Changes  that our son and daughter in law wanted a bench for Christmas. When it was finished I was just a tad envious. And since we actually did need a second bench my husband tackled that job during the tiny taste of winter weather we enjoyed last month. Here it is after I stained it and then finished it with polyurethane.

the bench completed

And it’s not just the kids enjoying it but the many cats who share our home with us have also found it useful… for posing.

Darcy on Bench

It’s only February (did I just say it’s only February? Where DID January go?) and we have many wood working projects planned for spring. This month we have a local pro life fund raiser that we are donating a few items to.  Then there is another fund raiser in April that we have been asked to donate a piece to. In between, we will be finishing projects for our home and extended family. Recently he was asked by a local artist to make 2 charging stations for drills. This is the one he made for himself last weekend. (Our client’s stations will each have a power strip attached to the back of the top shelf.)

drill charging shelf

Be sure to check back soon to see what else we are getting up to as we continue this journey of reinventing ourselves. One of our younger daughters is currently building up a gallery of photos of her woodburnings. I can’t wait to share that too!

Kids using the bench collage

One of our daughters had some fun goofing about while her sister took pictures for me.

Posted by: ourbakersdozen | January 31, 2018

Throw Back Tuesday – Reminiscing

This is a little something I penned in the spring of 2011. The child I am writing about is now 12 and no longer asks me to read to her. However – she still enjoys mummy time. It just takes a different form these days.  Often it’s found in the simple pleasure of helping me to complete the weekly shopping. As often as possible – I try to include a shared moment over coffee at our favourite doughnut shop.

She still has beautiful, deep brown eyes and long, golden red hair that hides her face when she is bent over a book, reading quietly to herself.


Read me a story…. please?

I felt a little tap on my elbow calling my attention away from the screen – I shifted slightly and turned my head and was greeted by a solemn face that was haloed by golden curls cascading down around her shoulders and framing her face. Golden brows furrowed, my daughter lisped “will you read me a story?’ hope steeped in every word. A book dangled by her side and her deep brown eyes locked on mine – willing me to say yes.

My eyes still locked on her face, I could none the less see the mental image of my computer screen and the work upon it. She leaned into me just a little and whispered: “Please!”
Torn between my work and the idea that I held the weight of her world in my hands, I hesitated. Her eyes, deep pools of brown, held me in her stare.

It was just a book, a passing, fleeting moment in her life. Why did it matter so much to her? A few words on paper accompanied by pictures. It mattered not if they were works of art caught between the two covers or carelessly scribbled cartoons. What she was seeking was not so much storytime as mummy time – my time. Would I give it her?

Slowly I stretched out my hand and reached for her book and a smile stretched across her face – greeting my smile. She scrambled quickly onto my lap and melted into my body; fitting comfortably between my two arms as I held the book in front of us. I opened it’s cover and slid my finger slowly down the page flipping it over to reveal the first words. “Once Upon a time….”

Elsa reading wood pile
Posted by: ourbakersdozen | January 25, 2018

Our Floor Project

When we made the offer to purchase the house we are currently living in, the entire house was floored with pristine white rugs. We had eight children still living at home. I had little expectations of the rugs remaining in pristine shape for long but little did I realize how quickly those rugs would deteriorate once the house went from an elderly couple living in it to 10 lively people exiting and entering multiple times a day. Add in the reddish clay soil of NC and trust me – I was seriously itching to get that rug G.O.N.E. within a year of moving in.

Our neighbours informed us that the man who built this house took several years to build it. He started with the basement and installed the furnace but did not put the floor in for a whole year. Then he built the rest of the house a year later and installed wood floors… but didn’t install the windows until a year later…

Let that sink in for just a bit.


So under the now pinkish, gray rugs was hardwood flooring that had been rained on multiple times over at least a one year period. Finally – I could no longer stand the now fully gray rug. I was more than willing to live with water stained floors. They could hardly look worse than that ugly rug in the living room.  Come Mother’s day in 2014 the children and my husband pulled up the rug in the living/dining room area as their gift to me.

removing the rug 2014 collage

So once we pulled it up – it was confirmed that there was water damage in the vicinity of the five full length windows in this living space. So we assumed that this was likely the same in the bedrooms and den. Nonetheless, the floor was far more beautiful than the once white rug that was growing uglier by the day.

We continued with the floor as it’s pictured in the above collage until I finally wearied of living with an unfinished and slightly water damaged hardwood floor . However, we simply could not afford to replace it with a new floor and we really did not want to sand it down and refinish it, especially as one really needs to move out when refinishing your floor. So – I white washed it. I’ll share that experience with you another day.

For now I will finish with a picture of the beautiful bench my husband worked on during our North Carolinian version of a snow blizzard. I am experimenting with different stains with cast off wood. Can’t decide if I want it to match in colour with the 20 year old bench my husband replicated for me. I’ll share a picture of the finished item once I decide on the stain. In the meantime, here it is unstained: bench

Check back later to see what stain I finally settle on.


Posted by: ourbakersdozen | January 23, 2018

Throw Back Tuesday: borrowing from my original blog

Introducing our very own “Godfather Corleone”!

God Father Corleone father james

Please forgive the blurriness of this photo. It was taken in April of 2009 with a cellphone, shortly after the birth of our thirteenth child, Cecilia, and I had to borrow it from from my original blog, Mum2twelve. Our “Godfather Corleone” actually is the godfather of Cecilia. Despite the poor quality of the photo it still remains as one of my favorite pictures of these two together. However, this next photo is rather dear to me as well. When I posted it on my mum2twelve blog I titled it “First Confession“.

First Confession cici with father james

Doesn’t it look like she is whispering in his ear, while he listens intently?

Posted by: ourbakersdozen | January 18, 2018

Snow Day

Interestingly enough this morning when I checked my facebook page I discovered that on this date in 2013 we also experienced a snow fall. So while Facebook wanted me to reminisce snow from the past – today was very much a ‘living in the present’ kind of day which I will now share with you through photos I documented the day with.

Study in red Jan 2018

I’m calling the above collage “A study in Red.” The following I called simply “Emma and Cici.”

winterfun Emma Cici Jan 2018 It was a pleasant, quiet day filled with snow, hot chocolate, watching birds and just a little woodwork as well. I’ll share a picture of the end product when we are completely finished.

Bench Jan 2018

And last, but not least, I have a collage to share with you that I am calling “Cat TV”.

cat tv

These two buddies were exhausted by end of day after some serious bird watching. There was a rather precocious chickadee that kept landing on the baby gate that was resting against the patio door (aka tv screen) causing the cats to go nuts. It would flit away and then land again – appearing to laugh at my two boys. Baghera got so wound up that when either Sadie or Basil tried to see what the cats were watching, Baghera chased them off. It was all quite amusing.

Tomorrow is another snow day so be sure to tune back in soon as we hope to finish up the project we started today.

Posted by: ourbakersdozen | January 16, 2018

Throw Back Tuesday “helpful sister”

The following is a post I found in my archives.

As the two of them waded through their bits and pieces of waffles on their breakfast plates I heard four year old Elsa encouraging Emma to bite on the side of her mouth where she has a loose tooth.

“Come on, YOU can do it. Bite on that side so your tooth gets looser.”

Emma argued that her tooth was already loose and only needed a little wiggling to be ready for Daddy to pull it.

“Well, try to hurry it up, Emma, ’cause I want to go to the movie with Sophia.”

Sophia is a friend who is also “making bank” with her loose teeth. After asking a few questions I learned that yesterday after Mass, she and Emma had been chatting about how to spend their tooth fairy dollars and decided a trip to the 2$ theater might be the way to go.  Apparently Elsa is hoping if enough teeth fall out between now and Saturday – they will be able to spring for her ticket….
Elsa and Emma in Boone 2009


Posted by: ourbakersdozen | January 11, 2018

Why yes…

… I am still listening to Christmas music. Yes, I do realize we are back in ordinary times and that Christmas is over. BUT this Christmas just disappeared in the blink of an eye. We were hit with many blessings and challenges.  This was our first year without our fifth child as she is continuing to discern her vocation with the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne and thus was not home for Christmas this year. However, our second oldest daughter had a brilliant idea back in October. This resulted in several family members contributing money to buy a plane ticket from Ireland to the States so that our oldest could fly home for Christmas. It’s been four years since she has been able to share Christmas with us.  At final count – we only had enough money to get Amanda to NYC so it was decided that our second oldest and her husband would drive up to New York and retrieve her. While they made this trek up and back we were going to watch their five little children – ages 9 down to just turned 3.  To say everyone, esp our eight year old daughter, were excited was an understatement of gargantuan proportions.

Finally the day arrived for John and Jenny to drop off the kids and leave for NYC when the stomach flu hit and hit hard.  This was just one of the many challenges we have faced the past thirty days. The other challenges included our electric meter blowing up and leaving us without electricity for several days. (We are on a well – I will let your imaginations ruminate over that. ) At the same time the furnace’s ignitor broke just as NC was plunged into a deep freeze. Then our family vehicle died leaving us with only our ’79 Ford truck that transports 3 people. The list goes on but I won’t bore you with all the nitty gritty details. In between, and especially during, the struggles there was much laughter, fun times, baking, crafting of hand made gifts followed by much wrapping, coffee dates,  and so much love shared.  Suffice to say – the days just disappeared and suddenly I woke up  this morning and it was time for my daughter to climb back into that large silver bird and fly away home.
So while Christmas is over – I am not ready to say goodbye! Not to Christmas and certainly not to my daughter. So though the tree has long ago died and been taken down, the beautiful twinkling lights are still glowing and Christmas music is still playing. The memories of our many blessings are many – as evidenced in this collage:

Advent Christmas a 2017

I think possibly my eldest child forgot her ‘Merry Christmas, you filthy animal’ Christmas  sweater… why yes – yes she did. I guess she will just have to come back next year for it.

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