Wednesday, August 24, 2011

thoughts of autumn

::my gloriously sexy husband preparing the apples for apple butter::

I love autumn.  It's true.
The wind changed; it is scented with wood smoke and leaves.
A comfortable chill climbs over the windowsill in the night and rests on bare skin.

This morning is grey and windy.
The kids and I dug potatoes, picked a few red tomatoes and a few more apples.
I think today is a good day for making potato soup, more apple butter and maybe, just maybe, some apple pie pockets.

This fall seems to hold more comfort than any other for some reason.  We had grand plans for the new house what with gardens and chickens and decorating and painting.  And though we got a small messy garden in, it didn't produce a great deal due to a lot of the nitrogen being used up to break down the sod {so says my farming father}.  I managed to get our whole upstairs painted, but the floor is still covered in a gag me orange carpet.  Oh yes, we got many things done in the midst of a move and settling, but there is so much more we want to do.

We still have not built our chicken coop nor have we acquired our laying ladies, but if you knew how much Miss Poppy loves chickens you'd see it as the tragedy it would be if we were to wait until next spring!  Besides, we'll need something to pull us out of doors when the snow blows and temperatures dip.

Yes, yes, this autumn and winter will be spent dreaming and planning!  How my heart aches to know what these hills will look painted with fall's colours and to feel the hot heat of the wood stove.  We will hunker down with our new books and bellies full of stew to plan our yard and garden.

Our dream is to have a yard full of veggies, fruits, herbs, and wildflowers.  We will plan what we need to make it through a winter eating our own food, make mistakes, and try again the next year.  

It is such a joy to make your own butter.
There seems to be nothing gradual about it; it just turns from frothy cream to a lovely lump of yellow butter.
It's beautiful thing.

::making granola::

::Our chicken girl at Nana + Grampa's:

Plan, plant, dry, preserve + eat.
Autumn is in the wind.

go gently + be wonderful


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

story girl earrings

*tiny romantic tales hanging delicately from your lobes*

::blue lace::

She wore slender blue lace in the dim light of her apartment.  The record player sang a song of romance as her long fingers carefully placed the unruly ringlets falling from their bun.
Just moments before they had been tangled limbs and linen as the voices drifted up from the sidewalk below.  Together they told stories of bravery + beauty.

::water droplets::
You crack a glass.
“Sorry” you say...
Liquid runs through pages of books.
I want nothing to be dry.

With a good book and apple in hand she made her way to her favourite rock.  She loved to run her hands over the intricate lace pattern of lichen covering its surface.
It sat beneath a tall pine and there, all around her, was the land and house she loved so much.
She was home.
 ::lilac morning::
Eager barefeet stretch to reach warm slice of sunlight on the floor as the sweet scent of lilacs waltzes over her window sill.
Lilacs remind us that, as sure as the seasons come and go, this too shall pass and the next moment has endless potential for hope, rebirth and beauty.

::moon hearts::

Sliced with care, she finally knew what the moon’s heart looked like...
Now, with them hanging delicately from her lobes she knew her feminine power...for a woman’s power lies in her gentleness.

go gently + be wonderful


Friday, August 19, 2011

this moment...

{this moment}

A Friday ritual {always} inspired by Soule Mama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

go gently + be wonderful


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Apples of our own

One of the many things we were excited about with this new home is the abundance of wild apple trees strewn about its land.  Nearly every night, after checking on the garden, we amble up to the apple trees for an evening snack.  Silas usually forages under the tree for apples while Poppy and Daddy seek out the perfect apple on the higher branches.  Mama usually stands back marveling at the beauty of her family picking apples grown from our very own land.

I have grand plans of apple pies, apple butter, apple crisp, baked apples and apples sauce.

Oh, how my heart swells with autumn.

go gently + be wonderful


Monday, August 15, 2011

The Simple Life Series


Sometimes we need beautiful reminders to gently set us back on our path.

I have been working on this new series of photographs.  I've paired my photos with good words to encourage the simple, boundless life.

A unique piece of art for your wall or inspiration wall.
A meaningful gift.

They will be signed and packed with love into a clear plastic sleeve with a 9" x 12" white backing for added protection.

You can view the full series here.
These will be available at the 2011 Peterborough Folk Festival.

go gently + be wonderful


Friday, August 12, 2011

this moment...

{this moment}

A Friday ritual {always} inspired by Soule Mama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

go gently + be wonderful


Thursday, August 11, 2011


"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." -Marianne Williamson

As promised I will share with you some of our homeschooling plans.  Oh where to begin?  First I will start with a bit of a disclaimer.  I know many readers and friends who have no desire to homeschool or practice our style of parenting and that is totally fine.  We fully respect those decisions and in no way want to give the impression that our way is the only way or the right way.  Our personal experiences shape our present day decisions and convictions.  I also believe that some children excel in a school situation while others flounder.  One method is sure to work some and fail for others.  Today I will share our views with no hidden agenda or judgement of what others are doing.  I will warn you, rather unapologetically,  that I may be opinionated in this post.  You have your convictions and we have ours and that's what makes the world go 'round.

I am tempted to make a bulleted list of points so here goes:

  • One of the things Mike and I would like to instill in our children is a sense of self and great confidence something we both lack and struggle with at times.  When you know who you are and what you will stand for you also know who you are not and what you won't stand for.  In a class of 25 or 30 students how much of yourself must be given up in order to be liked or to fit in?  Do we dim our light in an effort to make others feel less threatened? 
  • I am of the belief that children are natural learners and that the rigors of school can kill that delicacy in some children.  They may continue to preform, but I can't help but wonder if comes from a place of people pleasing or from a place of authentic interest and motivation.
  • Many people argue that school teaches children how to deal with later real life situations where they will be forced to work with and for people we don't like or agree with.  Sure we won't always be dealt perfect situations in our lives, but do I want a child who will adapt to unpleasant and possibly abusive situations or do I want my child to be strong enough to change what they don't like?
  • I like the idea of teaching to the level of our own understanding and then reaching out for help if there is an interest to go further.  If a child doesn't enjoy math chances are they will not choose a career involving math.  I was taught way more math than I had any interest in and only retained the stuff I need to live.  What I am trying to say is that there are tutors and friends out there with strengths we may not have to round out the child's learning experience.  It takes a village.
  • We really love the free flow of unschooling and the rhythm and beauty of Waldorf.  We don't want a strict curriculum, but we think that a few hours in the morning spent on reading, writing and other basic "conventionall" learning is something we're comfortable with especially when we will have the remaining day and night to follow our hearts into whatever task or topic we desire.  
  • I have great admiration for those who do unschooling full time.  It takes a lot of trust and confidence.  Mike and I are worriers by nature and don't think we could shrug off the doubt and worry.  So we feel the balance of structure and free flow will be good for us and our comfort level.
  • We don't have cable and we haven't had it for years.  I don't like the fast paced, strobe light effect of commercials and short digitally animated shows.  I think it is distracting and headache inducing so I can only imagine how it makes children feel.  I don't believe the television is ever really quality entertainment for any age of child.  Their time is better spent reading, playing, chatting, getting dirty and interacting with other people and nature as often as possible.  That being said my kids do watch movies.  And yes, they watch Disney movies.  Some of them have fun songs and the stories are often from way back with some decent morals.  Some of our favourites are The Resucuers, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, and the original Winnie the Pooh.  I would like to add Mary Poppins, Bed Knobs and Broomsticks and The Sound of Music to this list as well. Sometimes they watch older Sesame Street and Berenstain Bears episodes on Netflix.  I choose them carefully.  I do it because I am alone all day without a car with a needy one year old and a napless two and a half year old.   I need a break.  That is the reality of it.  I hope that when they are a tad bit older they can play for longer periods of time together without biting pulling and pushing and that we will spend endless hours crafting, baking and exploring.  The days are long and a movie gives me a chance to breathe and maybe even write a blog or answer emails.
  • We have a lot of good homemade music and even some prefab dance music.  No matter how many options we give Poppy, her favourite song to dance to is still Telephones by Lady Gaga.  We also have some kid's music that I remember singing as a child, but our favourite is anything by Elizabeth Mitchell.
  • Toys are tricky.  As much as we try to have simple, open ended toys we still have many noise making pieces of plastic.  Some have been gifts and some have been purchased by us at yard sales and thrift stores.  I prefer the warmth of wooden or natural fiber toys especially when they are handmade.  Yet we still have a mess of toys in every room and it seems that the kids only handle them long enough to toss them on the floor and move on to something else.    I think it is time to purge the plastic again.

An incomplete and ever-growing list of our favourite things...

Heaven on Earth
John Holt's books
Seven Times the Sun
Dr. Sears' Collection
Creative Play for your Toddler
Creative Play for your Baby
Dumbing Us Down
Living Simply with Children
Above All Be Kind
The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents

Children's Books
The Apple Cake
Gerda Muller's Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter books
Each Peach Pear Plum
It's Time to Sleep
Goodnight Moon
Runaway Bunny
The Old Turtle
The Night You Were Born





Toys Etc

Just like the above list, this blog post is a constant work in progress and liable to change with the wind and the needs of our family.  I have tried to include Canadian resources as I know how frustrating it can be as a Canadian trying to sift through the overwhelming amounts of US resources.  Please feel free to share anything you have found inspiring or helpful on your journey!

go gently + be wonderful


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Homemade Haircuts

I have had many bad haircuts; traumatic even.  Because of that I often cut my own hair or go about once or twice per year to tidy up my messes or refresh the layers.  Curls hide a lot of sins.  I have been growing my hair out for quite some time now.  I go through some fierce post pregnancy shedding and am now in the awkward re-growth stage.  This re-growth is highly reactive to humidity.

All that to say I got bored looking at my tired hair style, looked on you tube to figure out the proper way to cut bangs and went to work.  I am sure to regret this in a couple of days as I realize the extra work it creates, but for right now, I am happy with the change.

I also started cutting Poppy and Mike's hair.  He was feeling rather desperate shortly after our move and we resorted to me cutting it with some small kitchen scissors. I have also been caretaker of his beard for nearly 6 years now. His hair actually turned out quite well and I gave him another haircut last night.  Turns out it wasn't just beginners luck.

It saves us a bit of money and I kind of like the challenge, but I think I will stick to the pros for my annual $15 haircut.

go gently + be wonderful


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

a weekend of kindred spirits

It was a delightful weekend.
I don't have many pictures to prove it, but these few make me pretty happy.
It was a weekend in which so many of our ideals and goals were reignited.

On Friday we visited Mike's co-worker who lives quite close to us in another old homestead.  She offered some of her perennials for fall planting and gave us so many fun and unique ideas for gardens and decor.

On Saturday we got together with our new friends over {husbands and all this time}.  We dug some new potatoes and used green onion from the garden to make potato salad.  We enjoyed that with grilled ham, tomato and cheese sandwiches and local corn on the cob.  Kira made a deliciously fresh peach tart with whipped cream.  The kids played in the impromptu sand box I made out of one of our front flower beds while we talked about milking cows, autoharps, and chicken coops.  The kids were dirty, sweaty, happy messes by the time 8 o'clock rolled around.  We went to bed talking about making our whole yard into a wild mess of food and flowers and the possibilities of a milking cow.  We are in the right place. We are surrounded by the right people.

On Sunday we were invited to another local family's home in the country for tea and gleaned strawberry crumble.  There, amidst the trees, lives a family of collectors; an artist, a hunter and their delightful homeschooled daughter.  It was inspiring on yet another level.  We have wanted to homeschool since before we even had our kids; it just seems so right for us.  This visit quelled any persistent fears we may have had with regards to socialization.  My biggest worry, I think, has been whether or not we are, in fact, enough.  They assured us that we are.  I am planning an entire post on homeschooling later this week and will speak more deeply on the topic at that time.  Just as we were leaving, Michele left me with the most wonderful image as she told me about reading Little House on the Prairie snuggled up in a chair while the snow swirled outside and her kids telling her 'this is bliss'.  Yes, that sound like the very definition of bliss.  Our plan to homeschool is in full force and unshakable.

Oh yes, we are on the right path.

go gently + be wonderful


Friday, August 5, 2011

Smitten the kitten + a blue bedroom

Much to the chagrin of my husband, I have been sneaking away in the evenings and weekends to get the upstairs painted.  Our three bedrooms are all in the upstairs of the original log home built in 1908.  All of the wood paneling was stained a horrid dark colour with even darker trim.  The walls that were painted were a gag-me dank yellow.  I should also mention that the walls are made up of a patchwork of something slightly better than cardboard (the name and  logic for covering walls with this material escapes me).  The previous owner started covering it with slats of pine which, when painted out in white and soft grey look rather beachy.  It looks like they stopped this project as soon as the sale papers were signed though.

On the floors we have a horrid old orange carpet.  I am not sure when it was ever acceptable to put such an ugly thing into one's house, but alas here we are.  I had planned to rip it up and paint the plywood in fresh white until we could put money into a new floor, but so far I have found painted linoleum, chip board, plywood in another uneven patchwork pattern.  I haven't come up with a solution for that yet.

I am happy to report that the upstairs painting is done.  Poppy's room is a soft candy pink with white.  The spare room is  verdgris blue and white.  I just need to paint the black and butterscotch stairs out in white and figure out a solution for the floor.

::Edit:: The swag light was in natural wood and left here by the previous owners so I gave it a coat of white spray paint to freshen it up.  I did the same thing with one of the m any old frames we found in my Gramma's studio and a rather hideous mounted piece of driftwood (seen on top right of the dresser) I found at our local Value Village.  I will add wire to the frame and hang earrings on it and I hang little bits of jewelry on the driftwood as well.

In other news, our dear friends showed up for a visit on Saturday and just happened to bring along the last kitten she needed to find a home for.  Needless to say, the kitten stayed.  We weren't in the market for another cat, but he was just too snuggly and tolerant of the kids and dog not to keep.  Mike named him (we originally thought it was a she) Smitten.  He is rather darling wouldn't you say?

Happy weekend friends

go gently + be wonderful


Thursday, August 4, 2011

childhood haunts

Thinking back, I had a lot of good places to run when I was a child.  This weekend I was able to revisit and share one of those good places with my own children and husband.  My step mother's family has owned and summered on an island in Lake Ontario for generations now.
I have good memories of this place running free with my cousins.  I remember happy hour.  I remember begging for a Loonie so we could boat over to the store for candy after supper every night.  I remember wanting to go swimming only to find that the Grinch (my Uncle Len) had stolen them and sent us on a wild scavenger hunt around the island to find them.  I remember the smells.  I remember the campfires on the point.  I remember honking our horn as we arrived on the mainland and then waving frantically on the dock (in a pre -cellphone world) in hopes that someone would hear you and hop in the boat to pick you up.  I remember seeing the huge cement boat going by in the distance and racing to get our bathing suits on to catch the giant waves that would soon follow.  I remember swimming to the raft and playing in stormy waters in our life jackets.  I remember falling asleep waterlogged and happy.  I remember the cold rainy days spent playing games and reading inside.

There were a lot of sad and disappointing things about my childhood, but there were a lot of good things too. This place and these memories are most definitely one of those good things.

I choose to hold onto those.

go gently + be wonderful

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