Monday, May 13, 2013

eight times around the sun

Willy turned eight this past weekend. He always seems to "turn" about six weeks before his real birthday. Unless that's just me waking up to the fact that my oldest son is evolving before my eyes. It's been my joy and my challenge to let that "evolution" take place without interfering with my own model... And a real pleasure to get to know this adventurous, rational, tree-climbing, whimsical eight year old.

Our family birthday tradition is a "special" breakfast in bed, which we carry in singing "happy birthday" in a little procession with a candle, some small gifts and cards, flowers or leaves from the garden.

Willy requested cereal and orange juice for breakfast (now really, Willy, why can't you be reasonable!) and he was rather anxious about us forgetting. His last words before he went to sleep were, "Don't forget...the cereal...."

You have to understand, to children raised on wholesome, home-made, delicious (to Will and I) breakfasts like smoothies and omelettes, boxed cereal is an unheard-of treat. And let me tell you, four sugar-deprived children can devour a box of cereal at one sitting!

This year, I instituted the "birthday crown" tradition! (You can make a crown from a round of cardboard cut into know, the pointy things on top of the crown...and fabric top-sewn over it. As always, I'm pretty sure there's an easier way to make one, but I always choose the hard way. In case you've got a stash of liturgical fabric, just remember that gold embroidered priests' vestments make a decent crown...)

With some of his favourite family around (not all, sniff sniff), a new bike to rip around on, some lovely moccasins hand made by Uncle Ben (for sneaking around the woods, of course), a waffle maker and compass of his own (thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, how fabulous!), some truly exciting lego from Grandma Mary, and a lifetime supply of Tintin from his papa, this is the happiest, proudest little boy around. 

We've done various degrees of "official" birthday parties over the years, but the favourite tradition that must never change is the birthday breakfast procession.

"Simple and Special" is my motto, for family celebrations. (Thank you, soulemama, for such a concise  definition!) As always, it's the little traditions that are the most cherished and remembered.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


We decided to break with local custom and have our woodstoves professionally installed and certified. (Our reasons are long and boring, being mostly to do with insurance, and this isn't the place to regale you with facts. However, local people might want to consider husband-wife team Top Hat and Tales for a really excellent, thorough installation, and such good company!) In the end, as I watched them standing on the peak of the roof, making a hole with a chainsaw, I was happy that it wasn't Will installing the chimneys. 

We also decided to invest in new woodstoves, after searching the country high and low for the magical combination of "deal" and "quality".  

The one part of the process we got to do ourselves was the ember pad. My brother Ben came to give a hand, and he and Will got good and muddy and artistic together. We found the bricks under one of the outbuildings. The boys carried them in and stacked them loosely to dry out. Ben did the pattern (he might not admit to it, but he's an incredible artist), and Will chipped the bricks for the edge of the curve. 

The result is beautiful, durable, rustic, and cost us exactly 7 dollars for mortar. (Plus a case of beer...because a worker deserves his wages, no?)

..and below are two "before's" of the kitchen, where you just see a corner of the post and beams, and the charming 1970's cupboards. (The secret truth is that I bought this house for the dear little cabinet drawers beside the fridge.) The foor is beautiful, under it's layers of grime and grout: it has that shining, "depth" of grain that you sometimes see in really old hardwood. However, there are nearly 1" gaps between some of the boards! and it's wavy. (Friends of the Beresford family will understand the unique charm of wavy floors.) So there might be a bit of surgery and new grout, as well as sanding and oiling. IT'S ALL SO TERRIBLY EXCITING!

Kitchen, and beyond that, a real, live mudroom. I am so proud to be a mudroom-owner.

kitchen + renovation bric-a-brac