Sunday, 30 November 2008

A Beautiful Day in Beautiful Mahone Bay...

I’m a bit of a homebody so I usually stick pretty close to Seaside Farms on the weekends. I enjoy the simplicity and predictability of our weekend routines, which usually include banana pancakes, puttering in the yard, a few runs for myself and some surf sessions for hubby. Every now and then, however, I get a case of cabin fever and an itch for fresh surroundings.

Yesterday was one of those days! We packed up the family mobile and hit the road for the picture perfect town of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. This weekend was the kick off to their annual Father Christmas Festival so this quaint little town was buzzing with energy and activity. We met up with my good friend April and her family at the South Shore Waldorf School to take in some of the activities of their annual Christmas Festival. We had such a wonderful time at this event last year, we vowed to return! I appreciated an opportunity to pick up a few handmade toys for Chi-Chi and Muffy at the craft sale. Two sweet little knitted piglets are going to make great additions to the farmyard that is currently under construction by Santa and Mrs. Claus. The kids enjoyed an enchanting puppet show as well as the opportunity to do some of their own Christmas shopping at the “children’s store”. What a sweet idea for the little ones. I purchased three tickets for 50 cents each so that Chi-Chi could go shopping in the store. No adults were allowed behind the curtained off area. The little store contained a wide selection of sweet handmade treasures for the little ones to choose from. Poor Muffy missed out as he zonked out on Daddy’s lap during the puppet show. I guess he wasn’t that enchanted by the show after all!

We finished off our visit with some time in the school’s play ground area and then headed back to Mahone Bay. After a quick bite to eat we luckily got a chance to tour the town by horse and wagon. By far, this was the highlight of Chi-Chi and Muffy’s day.

Snuggled into their car seats with a generous supply of milk, the kiddies drifted off to sleep while Hubby and I enjoyed the relaxing, QUIET drive back home. What a perfect way for our family to get in the Christmas spirit and kick off the holiday season!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Currency Craziness!

Wow! Over the last few months we have certainly witnessed a drop in our Canadian dollar buying power when dealing with our neighbors to the south. Since The Wool Fairy's Etsy listings are all denominated in US dollars, I thought I should "get with the times" and update my prices to reflect the fluctuation in exchange rates. I'm still only able to sell and ship within Canada so these adjustments were certainly required. I guess this means The Wool Fairy is slashing her prices (:

Also, just wanted to post a little reminder that an adorable Fiesta Play Food Set is still up for grabs on the Nurtured blog. The contest closes at the end of the month so don't miss this chance to win these great little stocking stuffers. All you need to do is post a comment on the Nurtured Blog. Since the contest is only open to residents of Canada, your odds are pretty darn good!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Treasures in the Trees

The Wool Fairy took a brief hiatus from her yarn basket this past weekend in exchange for some time in the workshop. Wool may be #1 on her list of favorites, but wood runs a close second!

A year or so ago, I made Chi-Chi and Muffy a set of “tree blocks”. Our family’s set of tree blocks continues to grow in size as new pieces are added on a regular basis. Each time a take a walk in our woods, I’m on the lookout for unique and interesting branches to add to our collection. These blocks are incredibly easy to make and are a great project for the “beginner toymaker”. All you need is a couple of branches, a saw, some sandpaper and some beeswax. My kids absolutely love assisting with this woodworking project and take great pride in their little works of art. Obviously, Hubby and I use the power tools! Chi-Chi and Muffy delight in carefully sanding and polishing each piece.

What I love most about these blocks is the fact that each one is so very different from the next. Every block has its own unique “personality” and it is truly fascinating to observe the children interact and create with them. One day they may choose to build an elaborate structure for their farm animals. The next day you might find them playing with just one special block, which has been magically transformed into a hammer, a pancake or a telephone! I make a point of using different species of wood to add interest and texture to the collection. Chi-Chi is actually able identify the dogwood, maple and birch branches! My father, a retired forester, would be proud.

As an adult, I find myself picking up the blocks every once in a while and building my own fairy tale castle! They really are a delight to handle and they make you appreciate the beauty of wood. Each block also tells it’s own story. Some branches were salvaged from my parent’s yard following a windy autumn storm. Some I simply stumbled upon during one of my walks in the woods, such as our blocks made of burls. I’ve tinkered a bit with carving very simple figures from the branches as well. A near trip to the emergency department put a bit of a damper on my carving endeavors. Ouch!

The little ones are also learning about caring for and respecting their belongings by performing regular “maintenance” on their block set. Every now and then, we pull out the beeswax and set to work waxing and buffing the shine back into their blocks. They absolutely adore this exercise, though they tend to get a little over-zealous with the beeswax! They watch in amazement as the patina and sheen emerges from the newly waxed piece and they delight in the aromatic scent of the beeswax. I’m excited to be putting together a little set of these blocks for Chi-Chi’s Montessori preschool! I’ve got a nice little selection of branches drying out just for this purpose. I have no doubt these little polishing blocks will be a hit with Chi-Chi’s classmates.

Anyone playing Santa this year might want to take a walk in the woods. You never know what treasure might be hiding among the branches!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas...

With all this snow on the ground, I can’t help myself from feeling festive! The Christmas season is just around the corner and with two and three year old boys in the house, it’s sure to be an exciting event.

Hubby and I are making a conscious effort to keep the gift giving fairly simple this year.  Santa will most certainly be paying a visit to Seaside Farms! He will leave behind a few sweet and thoughtful gifts for Chi-Chi and Muffy. Going overboard on the gift giving is always sure to backfire. The little ones quickly become overwhelmed and lose interest amidst the chaos of Christmas morning.

As was the case last year, some of the items under our tree will be lovingly crafted by The Wool Fairy and Mr. Wool Fairy (he would cringe to hear me refer to him this way!) These two elves have been slaving away in the workshop, creating a few special items for the big day.

I thought it might be fun to share some of the goodies I’ve got tucked away in my sack. I’m always on the look out for safe and natural toys for our family so I assume others are as well. There are so many unique and beautiful alternatives out there, I simply don’t understand why most people flock to the malls in droves.

Muffy is going to love his new birch block stacking ring set. I thought it would be fun to put a little twist on this timeless classic. The blocks were created with wood from our property. I left the bark on to retain the interest and texture of each piece. Hubby drilled holes in each block and tapped in a dowel. A bit of sanding, a coat of beeswax and voila, an easy do-it-yourself toy.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll share a few more ideas, so stay tuned. I'm assuming Chi-Chi and Muffy won't be hacking into my computer! Those two little monkeys never cease to amaze me!!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

A Cup of Comfort

It’s a dreary, rainy, snowy November day in these parts. Perhaps my gray mood is a reflection of not only the weather, but my rather comatose/sleep deprived state this morning. Hubby was on a business trip last night and as luck would have it, Muffy came down with a nasty case of the tummy flu. It was a bit of a rough night with two little ones in my bed – one power puking to my right, the other screaming for attention on my left!

I was actually glad to see the light of day – an excuse to get us all cleaned up and to get myself a much-needed cup of tea! My morning tea ritual was actually a very special treat today because it was my first opportunity to use my new favorite cup! This warm, cheerful, earthy cup and saucer set just begs to be held. When filled with a steaming cup of brew, it’s the perfect size to wrap your hands around and warm up chilly fingers. Best of all, it was lovingly made by my artist cousin, the talented girl behind Branch Designs. My mom, sister and I attended a craft fair in the Annapolis Valley this weekend where my cousin was offering her wide array of creations and delights for sale. We went home with our shopping bags full. Mom treated me to this adorable little birdie cup and my sister went home with a beautiful bracelet and quilted headband. As a belated birthday gift, my sister had me pick out these ocean inspired buttons. I’m dreaming of the beautiful sweater these will adorn! Check out Branch Designs on Etsy!

As I sip my tea and admire my new teacup, my spirits can't help but be lifted. I’m thankful for this ho-hum, PJ kind of day. I’m so very lucky to have my two little ones safe and snug at home with me today. Muffy can recover from his bout of the flu in these warm, cozy and comforting surroundings. Of course, I’m still counting the hours down until Hubby returns! With a two year old vomiting around the house, one could always use an extra set of hands… (: