Sunday, June 6, 2010

Good-Bye for Now

With all the (wonderful) chaos that comes with three children, the new lifestyle of carless-ness, and the possibility of homeschooling (eek!), my husband and I have had to do some serious soul-searching about...organization. What we want for our life. How to be peaceful amidst all the demands of family, work, study, our self-imposed creative projects. How to simplify.
As much as I've enjoyed this blog, learning some simple design and photoshop skills, and as much as I've loved starting an etsy shop, they are a major distraction from "real" life.

I decided to take the surgeon's knife to my use of the computer, to free up time for my home and family.

I'm taking a break from computers, from etsy sewing, and from volunteering (I'm always tempted to wade into community projects) for one year. I'll return in June 2011.

By that time, so I reason, my oldest will be a full-blown, rational kid. My 3 year old will be done with temper tantrums and diapers. My baby will no longer be nursing every hour and needing to live on my back. A new rhythm, hopefully more simple and peaceful, will emerge.

It was my own initiative, but it was cheered on by a grateful husband, who perhaps won't be stepping on sticky things on the kitchen floor this year. He is looking forward to having his wife back, and the fabric out of the living room.

See you next June!

Friday, June 4, 2010


{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. 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

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010


{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. 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. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Pentecost mobile. Tutorial to come.

"Pentecost" flowers picked from the garden by my enthusiastic helpers.
(Why do they never pick them with stems? It's so odd.)

Today is Pentecost, "fifty days" after Easter, the Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, and the birthday of the Church.

I love the old-fashioned English word Whitsun, or White Sunday. In rural England, the Christian feast was blended with older, pre-Christian customs such as Morris Dancing and May Poles. The octave (eight days following) of the feast was called Whitesuntide.

We did a bit of "special" Whitsun preparations today.

A birthday cake, white, of course.

White doves

White shirts. At least, they were white for a good half-hour this morning. (I do love this picture)

Oh: about cake! I went on a sugar strike, and made my family do it too, as we had colds in the house. As a result, the sugarless cake was bland. BUT the brown filling, which you see, was a triumph...chocolate butter, like the creamiest truffle filling.
  • butter
  • some cream
  • honey
  • cocoa powder
I'm sorry I don't remember the proportions, but blended together (that's with blades, not mixers), it was light and soft. A bit slippery, maybe. If I'd had corn starch I would have tried adding a little. It's worth the experiment, as we do have so many reasons to celebrate around here, and baking a cake is one of the great things in life. Like white shirts.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Our Year Without a Car

In my absence (from here) a lot of exciting things have happened. Well, one, actually. The power steering rack of our car gave up the ghost, and we, to make a long story short, are giving up the car.

We'd been toying with the idea of going carless for reasons of economy and simplicity of life, and now...we have to! So we've become bohemians for the year, and it is really exciting. The timing is perfect, with summer upon us and the Scholarly Gentleman going back to school next Fall.

We have been exactly two weeks without a car and already I have noticed a new peacefulness in our life, a much-needed change of pace. Less consuming, less rush-rush, less "I just have to dash out to the dollar store!" We plan our time a little more carefully.

And spring is something we're really experiencing: real bird-song, real changes of temperature, real lilac smells! I haven't felt spring like this since I was a child.

We are lucky to live in a university town with good bike trails, a happenin' downtown with lots to do. It is a short bike ride to just about anywhere.

I look forward to making friends with my city. Getting to know the local colour, the (non-scary) buskers, the fiddlers and musicians and crafters and farmers at the Farmer's Market, and where the good coffee is. We have great bridges and little pebbly beaches along the river. So many nooks to be explored. And of course, when we need to leave town, we'll rent a car.

In the meantime, we have cancelled our gym membership. I look forward to being fit and thin, with absolutely enormous legs!


This is how we've been dealing with bad weather around here, and my, is it ever fun!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


My sweet boy. This is a week of birthdays, celebrations, first soccer games, family and friends. It is dramatic and a bit melancholic, for me, as for most mothers...that familiar squeeze over my heart, as I look at my big boy running around a soccer field, oblivious of his mother, happy in the joy of running, kicking, and having the appropriate gear (we take gear very seriously, around here). That great pride in his independence, that small sadness that we can never go back, that he will never again be four, or three, or two, or my sweet, busy, bright-eyed baby. I could get quite silly about this. But onward and upward! Into the sixth grand year of life, my little man!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Notebook Tutorial

This was a little nature journal I made for my son. There are all kinds of great ideas for making little notebooks and "moleskines" out there; here's my version.

First, you take a little clump of computer paper. I used 81/2 by 14 inch paper, because it makes a more square shape when folded in half, which is friendlier for drawing on, I find. I'm also not a huge fan of white computer paper for drawing. I find it a bit glaring, or something. I used ivory parchment paper for this project. Note: imagine what could be made with pretty pieces of handmade paper! Oh, drool!

Next, you lay it on a piece of fabric. This is the cover for your notebook. I used a heavy, unbleached cotton.

Trace and cut.

Take the fabric rectangle that you just cut, and hem around the edge...

...or just leave the edges raw and sew zig-zag.

Or two rows of zig-zag. (I do enjoy that stitch).

Assemble some pieces of fabric that you would like to decorate the cover.

Play around until you see what you like...

...and pin it in place.

Sew securely. (Look, more zig-zag stitch!)

Back to the paper. Fold your clump of paper in half, using a hand-carved ivory page-creaser. Don't have one? Just fold it in half.

Lay it on the newly-completed fabric cover.

And sew down the middle of the crease. I find the stiffness of the paper keeps it in place. Chances are it will not slip. But if you like to be cautious, go ahead and pin first.

I added some ties as an afterthought from some orange cotton twill tape.

And there it is, all ready to pop into the nature bag, along with some new pencils and pencil crayons, and a spiffy bug-viewer. We do love our bugs. And our drawing.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother's Day Sewing

For the teapot ladies. These hot pot holders were pretty easy to whip up with the invaluable "help" of a two yeare old and almost-five year old. Below is a collecting bag for our Nature Walks, which I'm working on for my son's birthday. It is still under construction and is the result of some bleary-eyed late-night sewing, but it is good and big, and reversible, which is important to me, as it will probably also double as a purse or beach bag or who knows. A hat?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Weird Food Wednesday

Nourishing Traditions (the Sally Fallon cookbook) has been my pleasure reading for some years now, along with Tolstoy (all that talk of kvass and pickled beets in War and Peace is beginning to make sense) and I've gradually added strange fermented pickles to our diet, along with yogurt and kefir. Now I just need a cow. And a herd of sheep, but that's another story.

I sour up all these vegetables by chopping and stuffing them into gallon jars with salt and a bit of yogurt whey or brine from a previous batch. The magic happens in about a week. Little microscopic bacteria ferment the sugars and produce lactic acid...real, live, probiotic food! (It really appeals the geek in me.) And it is tasty stuff, too: hot, sour, spicy. Best of all, it is FAST. The original fast food.

When we head out for our emergency picnics, we throw together a jar of kimchi or whatever pickled vegetables we're enjoying. Some creamy yogurt, some sourdough bread, a bottle of fine, aged red wine. (Ok, not the wine. I only wish).

Oh yes, sourdough. I'll have to post again about sourdough, as it is amazing stuff. Every home should have a little fizzy jar of sour dough in their fridge. This is what I used to call sourdough:

When cut very fine and toasted and spread with double-its-weight in butter, it is quite nice. I've found it useful as a step-stool for reaching objects on a high shelf. It also makes an excellent doorstop. But do not drop it on the baby.

My sweet friend Sharon came back from California with a real, Californian sourdough starter. Steeped with the mystique of time, curiously close to San Francisco, it is amazing, and it deserves its own blog post. Also, if you live in the Peterborough area, drop by, and I'll share some with you.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Sewing

So this is how the skirt turned out. Excuse all the photo-tweaking. The light was awful.

Unfortunately, the scholarly gentleman who snapped the pictures failed to capture the wonderful swish, the clever a-line hang, and the fitted waist with the invisible zipper, BUT I succeeded with at least 3 of my difficult criteria. It is modest, feminine, and I can wear it just about anywhere. (I don't know how it would fare in a backpack, however...)

It also falls down (ha! not literally) in the area of stylish. It goes right down to my ankles (I tell you. Modest.) There are no gathers or garish prints. But it is quite flattering. And grey. And so utterly boring, I'm bound to wear it.

Some Sunday hunting, foraging, and eating...