Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Laundry Daze

Bustling with the activities of day-to-day family life, the kitchen is most often considered the hub of a household. With two very busy boys residing at Seaside Farms, it is most likely the laundry room that earns this title. While I may serve up three square meals a day, my washing machine is most often running on an overtime shift. Muffy’s cloth diapers and Chi-Chi’s adventures in potty training ensure a steady flow of dirties in the hamper.

Needless to say, I cringe to think of the amount of energy that goes into keeping our clothes and linens fresh and clean. According to my calculations (the geeky accountant in me emerges yet again), I do about 3.6 loads of laundry a day. Ouch! My head goes into a “spin cycle” thinking of the amount of electricity, water and dollars going down the drain.

I’m doing what I can to minimize the impact of my laundry endeavors. When possible, I set the dial on cold in an effort to reduce my hot water consumption. Unfortunately, icy temperatures just don’t cut it when dealing with the contents of Muffy’s diapers pail! I always run a full load. This never seems to be a problem as there is no shortage of soiled items headed my way. Piddled on bed sheets are my most popular “customers” these days.

My favorite energy saving tool, however, is my beloved clothesline. During these sunny summer months, I use the line exclusively to meet my drying needs (unless I’m in a real pinch). Though I often find myself cursing the incessant wind in our seaside location, it certainly makes for ideal drying conditions!

Of course, the nostalgic in me loves my clothesline for romantic reasons as well. A person’s clothesline provides a tiny peek into their private world. I remember the first time I hung Chi-Chi’s newborn sleepers out to dry. It was an announcement to the world that he was now a resident of Seaside Farms. It’s always a fun exercise to adorn the line with Muffy’s rainbow colored Fuzzi Bunz. This is a sight to cherish as his potty training days are fast approaching. Who doesn’t love the sound of sheets billowing in the wind and the clean, cool smell of line-dried clothes?

My dearly loved clothesline is conveniently located right over Chi-Chi and Muffy’s sandbox. It’s a win-win situation for all three of us. While I’m busy hanging a load, the little ones are occupied and entertained. Of course, they are always keen to assist with the chores and laundry is no exception. They even have their own little clothesline! Not only are they having “loads” of fun, but they are learning a lesson in eco-friendly housekeeping!

Friday, 22 August 2008

Takin' Care of Business

The Wool Fairy’s studio has been bustling with activity over the last month. After much thought, I finally decided to take the plunge and start selling my little woolen creations.

Just over a year ago, I embarked on a quest to seek out beautiful and natural toys for my little ones. My readings on the Montessori and Waldorf approaches helped me realize that a child’s environment and playthings deserve the same attention, care and aesthetic considerations that we adults grant ourselves. I decided to take matters into my own hands and began creating toys for my children. I was astounded and very pleased with the results. Chi-Chi and Muffy were drawn to my handmade items. My simple offerings sparked their imaginations and provided the inspiration for hours of creative play. As a bonus, I learned a number of great new skills including crochet, knitting, felting and some very basic woodworking!

My wool produce creations quickly became a favorite in our household. Late at night, I would tiptoe into Chi-Chi’s bedroom and slip a tiny treasure under his pillow. His eyes would widen with amazement each morning as he discovered the special gift left behind by The Wool Fairy.

Despite the fact that Chi-Chi and Muffy’s play kitchen is overflowing with every fruit and veggie imaginable, I found myself simply unable to stop making the stuff! I saw this as an opportunity to share my creations with other little ones.

My goodies are available at Nurtured Products for Parenting. I’ve got some great fruit and veggie sets for sale, as well as crocheted cozies designed specifically for Klean Kanteens and glass bottles. These are a must in my house! They keep little hands warm and dry and they save my dear hardwood floors from yet another dent!

Staying true to my passion for wool and natural products, all the items are handcrafted with 100% wool and are stuffed with clean raw fleece. The wooden pint baskets included with some of the sets are made in Nova Scotia as well. I picked them up at Webster Farms in the Annapolis Valley, just a hop, skip and a jump from where my Dad houses is airplane!

I’d like to thank my dear husband and Nurturedmom for providing so much support and encouragement in this endeavor. I’d also like to thank Chi-Chi and Muffy for the inspiration they provide me each and every day and for the magic they have brought to my life!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Full of Beans

Chi-Chi and Muffy are full of beans these days. In fact, we all are, literally! We’ve been eating garden beans morning, noon and night just to keep up with the harvesting that’s been going on in our backyard garden.

When my husband and I built our house over four years ago, one of our first “projects” that spring was a gigantic vegetable garden. We spent endless hours working our soil and removing large fieldstones by hand. Unfortunately, our efforts fell short when it came time to plan and care for our garden properly. One bowl of very dry, pasty peas was all that resulted in the end.

This spring I decided it would be a good learning experience for the entire family to plan and plant a small-scale vegetable garden. Despite my tendency to go whole hog, I kept myself on tight reins, ensuring I did not bite off more than I could chew. I planted a small and reasonable garden bed and stuck to a few easy crops – carrots, bush beans, tomatoes and one pumpkin plant for fun! Sadly, the bunnies munched all the carrots before my husband got around to installing our bunny defense system. Our beans, however, have been a huge success. Chi-Chi and Muffy are simply fascinated with the magic that unfolded in their own backyard. Although slightly scarred by my past farming failures, I’m feeling quite proud that I managed to produce an edible plant. There is nothing more rewarding than sitting down as a family, feasting on the rewards of our collective efforts.
Of course, the wheels are churning in my head and I’ve got big plans for next year! The garden will be extended and I’m enlisting my inexperienced carpenter husband to build a chicken coop for me. Things could get “egg-citing” around Seaside Farms!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Happy Holidays!

Sadly, our family summer vacation is winding down. We recently returned from our annual pilgrimage to the Bay of Chaleur in Northern New Brunswick. I spent my summers growing up on these shores and I’m thrilled my little ones are able to share in this experience.

Traditionally, we spend our holiday lounging on the beach, enjoying the lazy days of summer. This year’s uncooperative weather presented us with an opportunity to explore the region, gaining a deeper love and appreciation of its magnificent natural beauty and rich Acadian Heritage.

Although our home base was Youghall Beach in Bathurst, New Brunswick, we ventured on several day trips and expeditions. The New Brunswick Aquarium and Marine Centre in Shippigan was a hit with Chi-Chi and Muffy. They spent most of the time squealing with the seals and delighting in the creatures in the touch tank.

We traveled back in time during our visit to the Village Historique Acadien where we tasted a slice of the life experienced by the early French settlers of the region. A visit to the village is an antique lovers dream and I left feeling inspired to incorporate a simpler back-to-basics approach to life. I’m already drawing up plans for my chicken coop!

Our waistlines all suffered upon the discovery of a gem of a French bakery in Caraquet, Boulangerie Artisanale Grains de Folie . We gorged ourselves on fresh bread and pastries during our numerous visits.

We visited the inspiring studio and workshop of Andrew Ellis and admired his uniquely interesting and natural wood creations.  

Hands down, our favorite vacation pastime was treasure hunting! We spent hours beach combing the shores for sea glass. These ocean gems, worn by the sea and sand are truly treasures. Each one is unique and beautiful in its simplicity. A lover of the past, I’m drawn to the history behind these tiny treasures. As I caressed each smooth piece in my palm, I daydreamed about its origin and the journey it traveled to reach me. It turned out my mother had the keenest eye and found a very rare red piece as well as a pale yellow one. Hubby discovered an uncommon black piece. Even my father, who claimed he was bored about ten minutes into the hunt, set his sights on a shard of blue. I’m lovingly displaying my little gems in a set of antique milk bottles just above the kitchen sink. These pretty mementos will serve as a daily reminder to all of us of the wonderful vacation and the rich experiences we encountered.