Thursday, May 27, 2010

simple dreams

{all photos in this post were found with Google images}
I often dream of a little summer getaway for our family.  A place where candles are lit, streams are explored, books are read, and simple memories are made; be it in our own yard or on a slice of unexplored crown land.  Though I know it will be a reality, I often wonder how we could create that oasis on one stretched income.  I have explored each of the following to their end and have been rewarded with the perfect solution.

  • A cottage or cabin is out of the question and renting something is too impermanent and impersonal for me. 
  • A yurt is lovely, but expensive and not so easy to travel around with.

  • A VW van could take us lots of places, but neither of us are handy and charming old vehicles need not so charming maintenance.

  • A gypsy caravan would be ever so romantic, but expensive, hard to find and where would we store it in the long, cold winters?

And then my world changed when I stumbled upon Bell Tents...

They remind me of the summer I spent as an Ontario Ranger up in Sioux Lookout.  When we traveled to other camps we would often take large military tents to sleep in.  It had a frame made of long thin logs and we would have competitions to see how quickly we could set it up.  Bell tents are a slightly more refined alternative to that.

A quick look on ebay indicates you could get one for less than one of those prefab garden sheds they sell at Home Depot.  Seriously though which would you rather have?  I am sure, with a little digging, a new or used one could be found in Ontario to save on shipping costs and your carbon footprint.

So there you have it.  I am a simple woman with simple tastes and a new dream getaway.

Are you as excited as I am?

go gently & be wonderful

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

a bit of a brave leap & some words on housework


I was recently asked by a new blogger {who happens to be a mom of three from my hometown} if I would like to be a guest blogger for her site.  I agreed to the challenge and thought it would be a good opportunity to write with the goal of creating something that may be suitable to submit for freelance writing. 

I have been a longtime lover of words and freelance seems as though it would be a natural fit for me.  I may not be the most technical writer and my nitty-gritty grammar skills could use some work, but people seem to respond to the content and that seems pretty important these days.

Rather serendipitously I found the website of a beautiful magazine called Seeing the Everyday.  An hour later I had finished my article and submitted it to them.  There is no money involved and I am sure they have many submissions to sift through, but it was a bit of a brave leap for me.  I struggle with both putting myself out there, and self promotion {or perhaps it is believing in myself}.  But am quickly learning that if I want to stay home with my children, these are all things I must polish up on.

I have no idea where to go from here, but I received a note from the Universe today that simply said:

                                          Don't resist, Erin.   Don't resist.  Don't resist.

Our lives are the sum
Of each moment and interaction.

Each day we work, eat, laugh, teach, play, read, remember...
And work at it all again the next day.

Within seemingly small moments we find opportunity
To build relationships, develope character, find joy
For the price of our time

Life's most essential possibilities are realized at home
Where we share, teach, grow, learn, serve, give
Our best without praise or fanfare.

Because every effort, every moment matters
In development of a person.

Nothing is really routine.
{seeing the everyday magazine}

I easily find serenity in the wind and scents of hanging fresh laundry on my beloved clothesline. Nestling into wind and sun soaked sheets on an early summer evening is one of life’s great decadences. I understand the happiness of dirty hands, a sweaty brow and sun-warmed shoulders while working in the garden. To sit sipping cold tea with tanned hands after a cool shower and look out at what you have done is a simple thrill. To swipe away fingerprints and nose prints from the windows so the sun can reach just a tiny bit further across the floor and touch my cold toes in the morning is a good thing. Sometimes, when the mood strikes I even enjoy the hiss of a hot steamy iron smoothing away the creases in linens and work shirts as if by magic. It reminds me of my grandmother’s patience as we learned the art one summer afternoon in the farmhouse kitchen.

One chore I do not love is that of washing dishes. There is just something that seems so cruel and relentless about it. I have been known to have standoffs with a sink full of dishes that last days. The tidy person inside of me always surrenders and dips her hands into the hot water and reluctantly opens the mysterious lunch containers to be cleaned. Just as I am about to raise my arms in victory of completion, I spy a tossed aside sippy-cup under the table or a lone glass on the nightstand and so the cycle goes; no time for celebration.

Or is that necessarily true? As a stay at home mama trying to keep her nest in happy order I am trying to change my perspective on the everyday duties that are required of me. In a sense, to be resentful is to be ungrateful, not to mention to fight a losing and very tiring battle. I have always felt a stir in the pit of my stomach when I read the quote “Be happy for this moment, for this moment is your life.” After years of looking at these words they have finally taken root and challenged me to change something about my behaviour.

On good days I try to be aware, as I sort through sticky forks and knives and oatmeal-cemented bowls, of the constant flow of life. I remind myself that by resenting the constant cycle of doing and un-doing, I am resenting the natural flow and energy that is in everything we do. The day begins and ends. The sun rises and sets. We sleep and we awaken. Each day is the same until we focus on something either brilliant and brave or tedious and mundane; a picnic under the tree or a sink full of dishes.

Rather than resenting the tedious tasks of our nests, perhaps we can focus on the slow rhythm of sorting, the soothing sensation of soapy water on tired hands, and the shiny gem of a just washed glass. Perhaps we can take a moment to think of the stories and lives behind each tea cup and handmade mug that passes through the suds. Be grateful for the opportunity to be utterly present and still in a moment of gratitude for everything we have and can do.

We can’t have the picnics under the tree without the clean dishes nor can we have the picnics without making more dirty ones. To accept that inevitable truth will only make life more enjoyable.

I will tell you I am no saint and have moments of sheer exhaustion as I watch a pink clad Poppy as she spins and sings at the top of her lungs and sprinkles dog food on a floor I just swept or paints a milk picture on a floor I just mopped. But I am learning and transitioning into a different way of thinking and these things take time. Be patient with yourself and know when to surrender. Be kind to the makers of messes, for they are the teachers. Take a deep breath and begin again without resentment. Think long and hard about changing even the slightest thing about your life without first considering how it might change the rest of it.

go gently & be wonderful


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

be gentle with yourself

Maybe it was the heat.  Maybe it was the neighbour's terrible loud music that played all afternoon.  Maybe it was the 1000th headbutt from Poppy.  Maybe it was the 2000th yell/grunt to get something she wants instead of using words.  Maybe it was the dogs staring blankly or ignoring me altogether when I try to stop their barking.  Maybe it was Mike questioning everything I asked him to do.  Maybe it was having a toddler climb up me as I tried to enjoy my chicken and quinoa.  Maybe it was the glass crashing to the floor or the open faced jam sandwich hitting the floor.  Maybe it was the dishes in the sink or the slimy piece of tomato Poppy spit out for me to step on.  Maybe I just felt like a big, fat, pregnant meat-suit tired of never getting a moment of peace to herself. 

Maybe I felt invisible.  Maybe I felt used.  Maybe, after giving and trying to be everything all at once for so long, I finally broke.

It was as quick as lightening and all that remained was me in a weeping heap, a shocked husband, daughter and dog, and the distinct smell of ozone.  Every ache, every hurt, every guilt, and every inadequacy swelled up and poured out of me.  I was embarrassed and silent for what felt like a long time until Mike, with a slow and gentle hand, reached over and touched me as if I were a wounded and frightened animal.  One touch to let me know he heard me; he got me; it was ok; I was forgiven, without words. 

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

- Dinah Craik (1826-1887), English poet and novelist

Be gentle with yourself so you can, in turn, be gentle with those you love.

Friday, May 21, 2010

objects of my affection

Time to share more goodness I have stumbled upon while searching out supplies and projects to make and sell at the farmers' market...

The discovery of Japanese Masking Tape! {photo source}

Pretty much everything in {this shop}

Ok, and {this shop} too...

Sea Shore Dress from {this shop}

this print from {this shop}

I have ogled the many prettyful prints in {this shop} for years now.

How could I refuse buying these two perfumes from {this shop}
Ok, and maybe a lilac one from {this shop}
{But seriously, to only buy these perfumes out of this whole list takes some crazy willpower}

One day I plan on getting my figure back...and I will wear sweet dresses like {this} without jeans.
*le sigh*

I think Mike would look super cute in {this shirt}
{men+honey bees=super cute}

Last, but certainly not least, these prints in {this shop}
{Might I add that they were also taken with the same film camera I ordered from ebay a couple of weeks ago...}

What are you lusting after?

go gently & be wonderful

Sunday, May 16, 2010

yard sales, a new nephew & market preparpation

It has been a busy and surprisingly productive weekend.
The three of us awoke early on an overcast Saturday and decided to head out for some spontaneous yard sale-ing.
Mike, who usually tolerates my quest for old "junk" on  good day found himself quite taken with the thrill of the hunt and developed keen reflexes for all neon and hand drawn signs directing our way.
I am most excited about the perfect old folding screen {75 cents} I can easily use for an earring and pendant display and a well worn clock {1 dollar}
Mike was most excited about the brand new baby gate we found {5 dollars}, and a new Bathroom Reader {50 cents}
I think Poppy was most excited about the haystack cookies they were selling for Haiti and the many smiles she collected along the way.


We came home to find out that my step-sister was in labour and later in the afternoon, gave birth to baby Oliver.
I don't have pictures yet, but we will be making the trip out to see them next weekend and can't wait to meet the little soul.
I am inspired by her positive and natural experience to re-visit the VBAC route I have been in fearful denial about.
Also thinking I may take Miss Fawn up on having a doula-in-training with us this time.
I felt so unsupported by my midwife last time and hope this time will be better.


I have been in a frustrating little lull of waiting for market supplies ordered online to start showing up so I can begin creating again.
I finally got my hands on some new beads and earring hooks and made 30 pairs since last night.


For supper, I am dreaming of corn on the cob, potato salad and bbq'd organic burgers.

go gently & be wonderful

Friday, May 14, 2010

fresh paint & ice cream

I painted the living room blue.
It makes my heart glad.
See more pics here.

Tonight we finally decided to chase down the ice cream truck that has driven by our house each and every warm night playing happy music to treat Poppy to her first strawberry sundae.

Daddy dressed me and fed me ice cream.
It's good to be me.

go gently & be wonderful

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I have decided to give my heart to film. 

Not because I think it will make me rich or famous, but because it feels right and honest.  The more I look at film photos, the more deeply in love I tumble.  The light grain, the depth, the richness, the colour and the honesty.  I want it to be my main focus and expression of what I see.

If I am being honest with myself, I can't say that I have given the craft and science of photography my whole heart ever, but now is the time.  Shutter speed, aperture and ISOs are mysteries to me despite the amount of reading and research I do, but I realize that it can't be impossible.  In  my previous post, I mentioned that these settings don't interest me {and they really don't} but I must make fast friends with them so as not to waste money on rolls and rolls of film.

My film SLR light meter is broken and have no idea how to set the shutter and aperture without it.  My DSLR makes it far too easy to use the auto setting.  So after a little research, I decided to purchase a used Lomo LC-A on Ebay for an in between film ice breaker sort of plan.  I plan to make use of all of the cameras I am so blessed to have, but I need to restart the process and take the time with each step without being overwhelmed.  Work my way up and enjoy the small victories.  Take the time and realize the value of each frame.  In a world of digital cameras and photoshop {an art in and of itself} anyone can take an impressive shot, but I am learning that knowing how to use the camera and having the eye is the greatest talent of all.

Until I master the manual settings of a camera, I cannot, and will not consider myself a "photographer".  And so, I need to do it for myself.

go gently & be wonderful

P.S.  If anyone has vintage film camera or affordable light meter suggestions, I would love to hear from you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

we have a little winner!

A pretty collage made up of my flickr faves - taken by many talented others!

{1. Untitled, 2. a dinner with neighbors ii., 3. a dinner with neighbors iii., 4. Untitled, 5. the light from our window., 6. the dinners that we make., 7. my grandma's quilt, 8. vintage bicycles, 9. Untitled, 10. First Yashica TLR result - Poppy and Playmobil in Prague, 11. paper garland, 12. Untitled, 13. tiny pots, 14. test run, 15. Untitled, 16. it's snowy out there, 17. bird feast, 18. happy solstice!, 19. decking the studio, 20. looking in..., 21. Untitled, 22. too early?, 23. Untitled, 24. changing, 25. The largest hot-air balloon gathering in the world, Chambley, France. So far today, more then 150.000 views and 5.700 Faves!, 26. Untitled, 27. Untitled, 28. grapefruit, 29. boots, 30. chandelier}

The winner of my of my little giveaway thanks to the random number generator is ecoMILF!  Please email me your mailing info and I will get your surprise prize out to you as soon as it is created!  Thank you to everyone who helped out!  You're the bee's knees.
ecoMILF said:  flat spoons, rocks and feather and chooks.... those are my faves... but they're all lovely! xo m.
go gently & be wonderful

Friday, May 7, 2010

the world of film photography...

{sparkle by abby powell-thompson}

I have been deeply inspired to begin experimenting with an old Praktica LTL film SLR {that originally belonged to my grandfather}given to me by my Aunt Cheryl a couple of years ago. I recently found an article about Abby Powell-Thompson of "abby try again" in the February-March issue of Artful Blogging and have been thinking about her story ever since. 

I love photography and always have, though I have often felt frustrated with it. I love getting just the right angle or capturing the right mood, but cringe when people ask me about settings, lenses, or other technical garble.  That stuff doesn't interest me.  Some professionals hate me for saying this, but the only thing that interests me is taking pictures of the beauty and magic I see around me.  I don't need to be a professional who can talk the talk, I just want to express myself and what my eyes see.  I have read the best books and articles about shutter speed, ISO, and aperture until my eyes go crossed only to promptly forget everything I just read and snap away until I get the photo I want.  Honestly, I have always just wanted it to be more organic.

I think that is why my heart leaped when I began reading her article. One day she just picked up a film camera (a Yashica tl-electro which seems quite similar to my film camera) with a broken light meter {same with mine} and, without paying attention to settings or film speeds, took some beautiful photos and has continued taking gorgeous photos ever since!

{slips by abby powell-thompson}

I do love my Canon Rebel xsi and many of the photos I have taken, but my pictures still tend to lack the imperfect, dense brightness and mood that I so crave and have always craved. I find myself searching for ways to give them a more authentic look with photoshop.  I brighten and lighten in hopes of gaining a more authentic, vintage feel I am seeking.   Often, I find something that makes me happy, but still ache for the real thing.  I still intend to use the digital on a regular basis, but would like to try something new in hopes of finding what I have been looking for all along.

I have three rolls of film that I have shot over the past two years with the film SLR, but am a little nervous to have them developed for fear of being disappointed once again.  I suppose the first task is to have these films developed, see what they hold and go from there. In the meantime, I would love any advice with regards to film speeds best suited to this sort of grainy, bright photography or even other vintage cameras that may be a good place to start. I am also thinking about experimenting with expired film and would love any thoughts you may have!

{lovely ladies by abby powell-thompson}

Please feel free to leave links to other photographers that shoot in a similar fashion or style. Whether it be yourself or someone you know, I would love to check it all out.

go gently & be wonderful

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

begin weaving and the Universe will provide the thread...

I am learning to enjoy the process of planting, digging, weeding, transplanting, seeding, and getting dirty. Getting dirty and allowing Poppy to get dirty is a little difficult for me, but I am getting better at it. Poppy, on the other hand is a complete natural and a pretty great teacher. She sprinkles dog food, dirt, cereal and toys like it's fairy dust, dips her half eaten apples into the earth, plays in every ounce of available water as though it were her very own swimming hole, and never stays clean for longer than 10 minutes. Lucky for me her love for bubbles and baths is equal to her love of grime and dirt.

I wake in the middle of the night with my to do list scrolling through my mind and my limbs twitch with some returning creativity. I am busier and more joyful than I have ever been and am often astonished that I ever thought staying home with Poppy couldn't happen. I am a huge believer in making a decision and allowing the Universe to rise up to meet me and encourage others to take a leap towards what matters to you regardless of how impossible it seems. People arrive in your life, opportunities present themselves and life flows through you.

I used to blog nearly everyday, but sometimes feel like I have nothing of great importance to say. I am trying to re-learn the art of recording daily life as bland or as normal as it may be and remember the magic of so many moments.

grass seed planted
gramma's car has been sold
one good sized clump of rhubarb and an unknown amount of lilies have been transplanted from our nice neighbour's yard
crafting supplies have been ordered
bills, taxes and loans have been paid
13 wild cedar and spruce trees have been planted along the crooked fence courtesy of my step dad
a peaceful nook perfect for picnics, naps, reading, sipping and chatting has been created under a tree complete with two Muskoka chairs {an early birthday present from my mom}, a butterfly house, and a galvanized tub full of mums
Poppy has learned to twirl herself dizzy and climb to the top of the stairs {not always in that order}
the rain has made every leaf, bud, and seed swell and explode into a most lovely chorus of colour and dance

This has been the most seductive and intoxicating I have ever remembered a Spring to ever be!

P.S. I you have the time, I would so appreciate your feedback on the photos I have narrowed it down to "feature" at the Bobcaygeon Farmers' Market this summer. Go HERE and let me know what photos are your favourites or that you would like to see if I were coming to your local market.

I am trying to stay with a summer vintage, fresh, simple sort of theme and will be creating wallet sized glass magnets with copper tape frames, inspirataion clothesline sets with 5x5 prints, and 5x5 prints mounted on stained wood.

In return, I will send a random reader one of their faves in a surprise format chosen by yours truly. To enter/help out please leave a comment on this post with the photo numbers of your favourite shots and I will announce a random winner on Monday, May 10th, 2010! Please note that I won't be able to include you in the draw unless you leave a comment so those who have already helped out on Facebook and want to be entered be sure to leave a comment here!

go gently & be wonderful
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