Saturday, July 30, 2011

Making Stamps

During the thundershowers this week we busted out a new craft.

Making Stamps

*sheet foam 
(available at craft stores—
we used an old camping mat)
*blocks of wood
*glue (we used UKKY)
*ink pad


  • sand wood blocks, if necessary
  • cut foam into shapes
  • glue shapes to wood blocks, making sure to leave some sides free for gripping
  • stamp on ink pad and apply to everything!(note: foam seems to absorb more ink and stay wet longer than regular rubber stamps. This craft was a bit too inky for my littlest ones)

sanding the blocks
cutting foam—this stage went on for days and was incredibly fun. 
knitting needles make a good awl
foam shapes glued to blocks
Words must be backwards, of course! (How do you think we figured that out?)
the children liked my stamps best
I liked their stamps best

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Home Again

After ten intense days of beaches, fun, chaos, joyful reunions, sad partings, "camping" at my parents', where there was no less than fifteen extra bodies—including uncles, aunts, cousins, beloved old friends and their babies...after ice cream cones, raspberry picking, first swimming experiences, loose teeth, near-drowing experiences (yes, in the plural....And do you think it slowed him down?)....we are home for a little rest.
* * *
Thank you and goodbye to all our dear ones departing for distant coasts. Thank you for all the love. We keep you in our hearts.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Shed Chronicles Part I

We decided to get a jump-start on our Fall renovations this week. Stage I—build a shed. 

The boys are in heaven. Not only do they get to watch papa build with power tools, they also get to fetch water, return water bottles to kitchen, stand very close to a beloved uncle and ask endless questions, and collect scraps of wood for their own "building projects."

That wild, bushy cedar in the way is part of our "hedge." 

The shed takes up most of the cement driveway—really, it's incredibly massive. 

Below—that's our neighbour's house, so you can see why I don't mind having a giant shed go up. That's our neighbour's car (the small red one) which we borrowed so that Matthias would stop riding the air compressor!

This is the first of a series of topless pictures of Will. (Just kidding, dear.)  

We're loving this pretty fab pre-fab. I suspect my husband had to swallow a lot of pride to buy pre-fab wood panelling...wait, Will—isn't that...fake wood panelling?

But it looks good, even up close!

And a stiff wind won't blow it over.

Will and his brother framed it and sided it and trussed the roof (if that's a word) in a day and a half. You rock our world, Uncle Christian!

Here's another view, to put it in perspective. Really, that hedge!

We're already dreaming of all the wonderful things we're going to do with this shed!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lavender Love

 I've always had a special affinity with lavender, but believed it "couldn't" be grown in this climate (Eastern Ontario, with its long winters). I'm so happily proved wrong. Apparently, it only needs a warm wall and a little neglect. This year my plant was bushy enough for harvesting and I've been attacking it with scissors. Alas, I didn't get a picture when it was in its full was a sight to behold.
Lavender bundles, hanging out with the pots and pans
Lavender is easy to dry and keeps its colour and fragrance for a surprisingly long time. 

1) The secret to keeping its colour is to protect it from sunlight. 2) The secret to keeping its shape is to hang it upside down. 3) The secret to keeping its fragrance is storing it in airtight containers. 

I've been hanging lavender bundles in paper bags to dry, then moving it to ziplocks to await its fate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Quick Fix

...for my poor kitchen window. For the past five years, my neighbour Andrea and I have been staring into each other's kitchens. We give friendly waves while we're doing dishes. In July, with the windows open, we can hear each other's discussions with the kids about what to have for breakfast. I don't mind, I really don't. But sometimes you just want to keep your dirty dishes to yourself.

 The solution? A birch stick from the boys' (vast) stick collection, some pleasing strips of fabric from the stash, and ring clips to hold it up (bought last year and never put to use). The frugal option is so often the spiffiest, isn't it?

Oh, and I nearly forgot to credit my good friend Erin for the idea in the first place. Erin, did you even know how much I love your house??!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What We're Enjoying Right Now

...Will's beautiful beds at the community gardens. 

Going down to the gardens is part of Will's daily rhythm (twice-daily, actually), along with Foczka and the occasional little helper.

Happy Gardener
Matthias is determined to help, although he still needs his little feet directed out of the seedling beds.

Foczka and Oslo, her gardening pal.
Hugh is very serious about working. Check out his work gloves—they're so great! He made them himself out of plastic bags. Actually, they're just plastic bags. But as his mother, I find this quite clever. 
They're actually on top of a straw bale, which explains the euphoria.
Always thinking.

Hugh is our most determined worker. He planted a good part of the garden with his papa, and he knows all the plants by name, including the "swiss charge." Willie and Matthias adore being with their papa, and everyone loves rolling down the big hill at the liftlock. My job is to admire everyone's work, taste the little seedlings, and make big plans for all those tomatoes.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Genius Baby

He left his pipe and violin at the door.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Gnomey Hat finished

This is the the wonderful gnomey hat pattern from Hello Yarn. You can download it here. I excluded the pompoms, as my boys would pick them apart in one day—it's like bubble wrap for them. I added bobbles instead.

The boys said, "Oh look, Bilbo Baggins (the doll) has a helmet!" and when I told them it was a hat for the new baby, they thought that was the awesomest thing ever—a helmet for the baby!

They want helmets of their own now. I wonder....with some chunky wool in steely grey....

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Weeds That Heal

Thank you, to those sweet friends who inquired—my eczema has quieted down, all except my hands, which still have an angry bright red rash.

I've cut out the usual food suspects, and am now concentrating on building up health through the usual food supplements: good fish oils and pro-biotics.

And herbal teas, which is my favourite way to take medicine.

Right now I am enjoying the weeds from the garden, especially melissa, or lemon balm, the "gladdening herb", which even smells happy, to me. 

Lemon balm, melissa officinalis
German camomile, matricaria chamomilla
bee balm, monarda didyma. Credit
Other favourites: monarda (bee balm), and chocolate mint. Sweet, happy, calming, rejuvenating herbs.

A full pot of these, along with the good, green, nasty medicinal herbs, like dandelion, nettle, dock, and plantain, is always on the simmer. 

These I forage from a clean meadow near a bike trail which, last year, was just a track of rubble made a by bulldozer. This year, it is full of dock and dandelion and red clover, the biggest I've ever seen. These are the weeds that heal the earth. They bring up minerals from below the disturbed, rocky surface and restore topsoil so that lusher plants can grow. It never fails to fill me with awe....the sheer elegance of God's eco-system

Little by little I'm seeing improvement in my own body. As organs and systems cleanse and renew themselves, my skin is clearing up. I have so much to be thankful for. 

Anyway, friends, my door is always open. Do stop by, any time, for a cup of weeds! It'll do you good! It might even taste OK.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dominion Day

Happy Dominion Day! "He shall have dominion from sea to sea..."

Isn't that wonderful? A Mari Usque ad Mare.

The fathers of confederation named their business enterprise the Dominion of Canada, after the Lord Almighty in the psalm. I wonder—did they jinx us by dedicating this infant country to God and his justice? What does it mean for the future generations that proceeded to bugger it up? So literally?

Will and I are reading the Church and the Land by the distributist thinker, apologist, and popular saint, Fr. Vincent McNabb.

It is enough to restore your faith in everything that was right about our country in its foundation, and will be right again, one day.

But as my sister pointed out, it does make you want to run out and buy a farm. And raise thirteen children. So beware.