Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Silly Spring Fun

Perhaps it is rather silly of me to be talking “spring” today. The boys and I are snowed in, yet again! Despite the wintry atmosphere, we are focusing our creative efforts on spring today. I think it’s called wishful thinking!

We haven’t been getting outdoors as much as I would like, so I’ve been busy compiling a casual curriculum of indoor crafts and activities to keep Chi-Chi and Muffy occupied. Although they do a fine job of entertaining themselves around here, every now and then they need a little “re-direction” in order to let the dust settle (literally).

Simple is the keyword for me these days! I sacrificed my copy of the Vesey's seed catalogue to the crafting cause. Both little guys had fun clipping out the beautiful and brightly colored photographs. Chi-Chi even worked a bit on his botany skills, picking up a few names of flowers.

Though I’m quite certain our froggy friends are still hibernating peacefully as the bottom of the bog, we’ve been reading up on their lifecycle the past couple of days. I whipped up a couple of these fun little beanbag frogs to add some interest and silliness to the topic. The pattern came from my copy of The Children's Year, but truth be told you certainly don’t need a pattern for this one!

Finally, our dear friend the Easter Bunny commissioned us to paint a few eggs for him! I blew out some eggs for the project and both boys were surprisingly very gentle and careful in their painting. I also had a stash of wooden eggs from Lee Valley that we painted and sealed with beeswax. They make the perfect addition to our play Easter egg collection and the boys have been busy playing hide and seek with them.

Check out these poor ducks freezing off their tail feathers. I found them scrounging around for food in our backyard this morning. The poor little guys are probably wondering why they jumped the gun and left that warm southern weather so early! I guess I’m not alone in my yearning for spring-like weather!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Chasing Rainbows

I always seem to have a few books on the nightstand that I’m working my way through. They compete heavily for attention with my creative activities these days, so I don’t seem to be burning through them at record speed. At the end of a hectic day with the kiddies, I often find myself in the mood for something light and fun that doesn’t weigh too heavily on my brain! Every now and then I pick up a copy of my all-time favorite childhood book, There's a Rainbow in my Closet by Patti Stren. I’m certain I read this book one hundred times, but surprisingly I never owned a copy. I must have had it on a long-term loan at the library. A few years back Hubby treated me to a copy from a rare and used books seller. As soon as I cracked the cover I was transported back into Emma’s world of dreaming, drawing and painting.

In the story, Emma’s mother is traveling on a work commitment and her grandmother comes from afar to care for her. Emma soon discovers that she shares her passion for art and painting with her grandmother (and the love of the color purple!). Struggling with her mother’s extended absence, Emma initially resists developing a relationship with her grandmother. One day after school, Emma is touched and delighted to find a surprise from her grandmother – a rainbow in her closet! Using her eyeglasses and sunlight, her grandmother creates a beautiful rainbow as an effort to reach out to her troubled granddaughter.

I’ve admired prisms since a very young age. My own Nanny had a collection hanging in the living room window and I always delighted in studying and scrutinizing these tiny yet vivid rainbows. I thought it would be fun to bring a little light, color and beauty into our own day-to-day lives. I purchased prism beads for a very affordable price. I hung them discretely in a few carefully selected spots. One was placed in an east-facing window to capture early morning sunbeams. The other two were placed on a west kitchen window. On a bright sunny morning, I often hear Chi-Chi shout, “Let’s go check for rainbows!!”. We admire and appreciate the colorful little dancing rainbows during our breakfast routine. In the afternoon, the rainbows add a touch of beauty and mystery to my supper preparation routine. The little ones hover around my feet (not always a good thing) and try to catch the rainbows as they dance along the kitchen floor. Our little color beams are always a special treat, as they only appear when the sun is shining brightly.

I believe quite strongly that children should be surrounded by an environment that is pleasing, comfortable and beautiful. This is a fun, interesting and inexpensive way to add a splash of beauty into our daily lives that the whole family will enjoy.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has read, “There’s a Rainbow in my Closet” and who holds the same fond memories I do (Ok Mom, you don’t count! Of course I know you read this book. Thanks for all your much-appreciated help on the grade 5 book report!)

Friday, 27 March 2009

Muffy Had a Little Lamb...

With all this winter, snowy weather we’ve been braving this week, we were all in the mood for some spring-themed activities. The thought of spring lambs and grassy fields came to mind as I daydreamed of warmer weather. Our reading list this week includes two of our favorite books by Nova Scotia author Thelma Morris-Fogarty. “Licorice and the Brown Sweater” and “I Hate My Name” are both wonderful tales for wool lovers like myself who are also looking for local reads. They both walk children through the process of shearing, carding, spinning, weaving and knitting. I’m currently working on a special spring sweater for Chi-Chi so he’s particularly interested in the wool cycle.

The boys found their way to my stash of raw fleece this morning. They took turns shearing each other and washing and “carding” the wool with their hairbrushes. I don’t have a spinning wheel, so that part of the process is definitely not going to be re-enacted! Chi-Chi informed me that it was now time to dye the wool.

I have to admit, the mere thought of dye and two monkeys in kitchen was a bit scary, but all went smoothly! Donning our aprons for protection, the little ones took turns pouring warm water and vinegar in the pot. I gave them each a dab of green Wilton icing color to mix into the dye bath. They carefully plopped in their fleece and I proceeded to set the pot on medium low. We all checked periodically to see when the dye bath had exhausted. Once the water was clear, I rinsed the fleece in cool water then dumped it in the bathroom sink. The kiddies delighted in further rinsing and then laid it out to dry.

Chi-Chi’s color choice this morning was just perfect – a beautiful springy grass green! It will look lovely in a basket with the Easter eggs we’ll be working on in the coming weeks! What a welcome alternative to that scary plastic grass that lines the supermarket shelves this time of year. It’s hard to believe that a little water, food coloring and vinegar can create such yummy colors. I get my raw fleece from Briggs and Little in New Brunswick. You can order it by the pound for a reasonable price. (You’d be surprise how quickly I burn through a pound of wool!) This little exercise would also work well with yarn. I chose fleece simply because Chi-Chi suggested it.

I adore this kid-friendly exercise in dyeing wool. You certainly don’t have to be The Wool Fairy to give this fun craft a try!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Weekend Warriors

Hubby is a tax accountant, so this time of year is particularly hectic for our family. The month of April always seems to come and go in a blur. He’ll be putting in some crazy hours at the office for the next six weeks. (Don’t feel too bad for the guy! Soon after his big deadline, he’ll be heading on his annual surf trip with his buddies to a very warm and exotic location!)

Although it is a busy time of year, we try to make the most of family time when the four of us are together. With all the sunshine we've been having, the boys and I started a little “project” in the backyard. The entire family collaborated efforts this weekend to put the finishing touches on what we refer to as “The Home of the Early People”.

It all began with a trip to the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History a month or so ago to view the featured exhibit – Ice Age Mammals. Chi-Chi was awestruck by the huge skeletal replica of a mastodon. Ever since our museum visit, he has displayed a hunger and enthusiasm to learn absolutely everything about the amazing creatures that roamed our planet so long ago. His genuine interest and curiosity are actually quite inspiring. Would you believe he recently dropped the Gruffalo birthday cake request in exchange for a mastodon variety? (I’m doing some last minute scrambling trying to figure out how I’m going to fill this tall order)

On a recent trip to the thrift shop, I stumbled on a copy of Who Were The First People from Usborne. It was perfect timing for this great find. Not surprisingly, Chi-Chi latched onto it immediately and our learning path is now taking us into the lives of the first hunter/gatherer humans who roamed the earth. He and Muffy have been re-enacting the lives of their early ancestors, setting up tent homes in the living room and gathering play food to feed the family!

We decided to take advantage of the spring sunshine and took our role playing activities outside. Before we knew it, we were huddling under the branches of a backyard spruce tree as we sought refuge from a ferocious saber tooth cat. With a little elbow grease, our cozy hideaway was soon transformed into a lovely primitive home. We cleaned and raked the spruce needle floor and cleared a few low branches to allow for headroom. Protective walls were constructed using sticks and fieldstones. I will admit, Mr. Neanderthal certainly would not have had a picnic table in his dining room! It’s a great little place to hide out, daydream and enjoy an afternoon snack al fresco. Once the leaves come out on the alder bushes, it will be quite a cozy little spot. I imagine it will serve as a special place for the little ones in the years to come- a place to live out their daydream adventures, a place to spend a quiet moment alone in nature…

I am starting to think, however, that Chi-Chi might be taking things a little too far. Before I could object, I discovered the “three boys” of the family sitting in the camp, fashioning “spears for the early people”. Yikes!! I’m not sure it is a good idea to offer spears to two and four year olds! Once again, I can only explain this strange behaviour as male bonding. I saw a pheasant meandering his way into the camp this evening while I was washing the dishes. I’m guessing Mommy will be confiscating those spears very shortly (in the interest of the safety of my children AND our wildlife friends!!!!)

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Art Appreciation

Every now and then you come across an artist whose work really speaks to you. I am certainly not a connoisseur of fine art in any sense of the word. I follow my heart when purchasing art. I only purchase pieces that I truly love and that “speak” to me. Of course, I’m not able to buy every piece of art I love! Many a time I’ve walked away from a painting because the price tag was simply beyond anything my budget would allow!

Several years ago Hubby and I toured the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec. We discovered the work of Gilles Cote and fell in love. His folksy, whimsical works are absolutely breathtaking in person. Sadly, the price tags on his originals are just a "tad" out of my price range. The one I just "had to have" was $55,000!!!!!

Because I grew up not far from the Gaspe, the characters, architecture and landscape depicted in Cote’s paintings touch me deeply. I’m feel a sense of being drawn into the scene and can almost feel the ocean wind whirling my hair. I felt this same connection the first time I held a piece of pottery created by my cousin, Sarah Branch of Branch Designs. (Sarah is actually my mother’s cousin’s daughter – but that is way too complicated for me!) She too grew up on the Bay of Chaleur in Northern New Brunswick. I’m magnetically drawn to her work, which often depicts some of my favorite nature treasures – moon snail shells, starfish...etc. My collection of her work is growing! What I love most is that one can interact with pottery on such a personal level. I sip my morning tea from one of her mugs. Our family munches on Friday night popcorn from one of her beautiful bowls. When I first spotted this silver fiddle head pendant she created, I knew instantly it was meant for me. Hey, I grew up in Tide Head, the unofficial fiddle head capital of the world! As a knitter, I’m absolutely in love with her pottery buttons. I have a list a mile long of projects to complete that incorporate her unique, earthy creations.

I was back to my hooking this past week with Sarah on my mind. I completed this little rug - “The Stars and the Moon Snail”. Since we both share a love of sea treasures, I thought it made sense to incorporate them into the design. Sarah’s parents live next door to our family’s summer cottage. Her father tends a beautiful flower garden and I’ve always admired his beach roses in particular. After a few final touches, this little rug will soon be on its way to the sweet and talented Sarah! I’m glad to see it headed to a good home (:

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Setup

It’s Spring Break in Nova Scotia this week. Ironically, it’s not feeling like much of a break for Mommy! With preschool classes cancelled, we are sticking pretty close to home for the next few days. We are taking a rain check on our weekly public skating and trips to the library. The rink is ridiculously crowded on days the schools are closed. The fast-paced, borderline chaotic atmosphere is a tad intimidating for my two little guys.

The sunny weather is certainly helping our situation and we are spending as much time outdoors as possible. After our yummy lunch, we usually head out to spend the bulk of the afternoon digging, exploring, feeding birds, sweeping the garage, woodworking, baking mud pies, gardening, running and puddle jumping. There never seems to be a shortage of activities in our own backyard to keep Chi-Chi and Muffy captivated and happy.

The mornings are still rather chilly so we’ve also been spending time indoors. I’ve been investing a little time and effort in the evening hours to help make the mornings a little more peaceful and enjoyable for all of us. With the wee ones in dreamland, I’ve been pulling out the toys and indulging a bit in my own desire to relive my childhood! Last night I dug out the farm play set and set up a fun and interesting scene with our collection of props. My intention was to spark a little interest and imagination inside Chi-Chi and Muffy. Henny and Penny were tucked safely and snuggly in the chicken coop with Mr. Fox slinking around outside. I added a shampoo bottles to our plain wooden trucks and created a fleet of tanker trucks, pulling up to the farmyard to collect the fresh morning milk. The family of ducks was swimming happily in the pond. Mr. and Mrs. Owl were nestled in the hayloft, waiting to be brought to life by eager little hands and voices.

My plan worked perfectly. As soon as my little guys set sight on the magical scene before them, they became immediately engrossed in a world of make-believe. They were most pleased with the shampoo bottle tanker trucks! Somehow I wasn't surprised as I knew they would be a huge hit. I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and morning tea while perusing the newspaper. The children took breaks for breakfast and a diaper change, but played happily for well over an hour. They continued to go back to the scene periodically throughout the day.

As I start chopping veggies for supper, I overhear that Rudolph just arrived on the scene to celebrate Christmas with the farm animals…. Pretty soon the requests will start pouring in for those dreaded Christmas tunes. Ah, the peace and quiet was certainly lovely while it lasted!! (;

Monday, 16 March 2009

Function Over Form

Long before Hubby and I built our home on Seaside Farms, we started collecting antiques. We spent many a weekend driving back roads, sifting through dusty barns and antique shops. We were able to accumulate a nice selection of antique furnishings in those years before we moved into our home. As a result, we were able to design our home with specific key pieces in mind. Our kitchen was designed around an antique pine cabinet that we picked up for a great deal in Quebec. Our main bathroom houses a lovely dry sink and matching cabinet, which serve as a medicine chest and toilet paper storage area! (A huge thank you should be extended to my parents, by the way, for graciously offering their storage services during those years!)

Our knowledge of antiques started out rather limited, but we learned along the way. We are both inherently drawn to primitive pieces from the Maritime Provinces in particular. Our approach has focused on buying what we like and what we can use. Function has always been as much as a priority as form! As the corners of our home filled up with furniture, we’ve focused on smaller acquisitions in recent years. Although I enjoy the decorative aspects of these pieces, I definitely find a useful purpose for each item, no matter how small it may be. An old milk bottle serves as a vase. An apple basket serves as a beautiful display vessel for my wool roving. A vintage stepladder helps the wee ones reach the bathroom sink!

I’m therefore not sure what I was thinking when I purchased an antique washboard a few years ago. It looked rather cute hanging in my laundry room, but I didn’t have much “use” for this item….until my washing machine went on the blink. It came in pretty handy washing some key items for the boys while I waited for the repairman to make his visit. If anything, it gave me an appreciation for the arduous task that laundry was for my ancestors! Let’s just say I was definitely using disposal diapers during that two week period!

I’ve been re-reading my copy of "Heaven on Earth - A Handbook for Parents of Young Children" by Sharifa Oppenheimer. In particular, I’ve been perusing the chapter on “The World of Rhythm” in our lives. The author makes the point that so many of our daily routine tasks have been relegated to machines – vacuuming, laundry, dish washing, coffee grinding, bread baking…etc! She suggested we pull out certain of these tasks and do them by hand with our children, in order to give them a sense of purposeful work. Immediately I thought of my dear little washboard, the perfect size for little hands. I believe it must have been the kind used to wash socks in its day. Once a week, the boys help with laundry day (who are we fooling, every day is laundry day). They are in charge of washing the family’s set of cloth napkins by hand. They complete this task from beginning to end – washing, rinsing and hanging the items out to dry.

So, it seems after all these years, my little washboard, as cute as it is, does indeed have a function around here!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Buy the Book!

I found myself in desperate need of some new reading material this week. The straw that broke the camel’s back was likely the 1000th reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Wednesday evening. Wide-eyed and attentive, Chi-Chi and Muffy are captivated by this classic holiday tale and request it most days. Maybe I’m just not in a festive mood, but with spring on my mind, the last thing I want to think about is dear old St. Nick.

The boys and I have been visiting the local library on a weekly basis so we do indeed have some fresh reading material on hand. Every now and then, however, I get the urge to add a few books to the family’s “permanent collection”. I found myself dangerously perusing and drooling over the Usborne books catalogue one evening. With a few clicks of the button, my “wish list” quickly surpassed $100. Sigh… I reminded myself to “question every purchase” and hit the delete button before I could change my mind.

The next day I hit our Value Village Thrift Store to do some treasure hunting in the used book isle. It was my lucky day! All children’s books were 69 cents with an added option to buy 4 get 1 free. “Question every purchase” flew out the window as I filled my cart. I justified that I could not lose at that price.

With warmer weather on my mind, I was able to compile a rather lovely collection of spring-themed reading material for the coming months. I even did a little shopping for the Easter Bunny! Chi-Chi will be receiving a copy of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”. Little Muffy will be the proud owner of a vintage copy of “I Am A Bunny” by Ole Risom, illustrated by my favorite, Richard Scarry. It’s in mint condition I might add (which I fully realize it won’t be for long). Not surprisingly, the nostalgic in me is drawn to vintage books. The sweet illustrations just make me feel warm and fuzzy inside!

As an offset to all the lovey-dovey fuzziness, I snatched up some great dinosaur books for my monster lovers. To top it all off, I actually stumbled on a copy of one of the Usborne books on my wish list!

I bargained with myself, and do admit to ordering one special Usborne book for Chi-Chi’s upcoming birthday – the Animal Picture Atlas. He’s fascinated with a similar book at preschool and has taken a keen interest in geography lately. Purchase justified! I see no harm in fuelling his desire to learn.

I will not deny that these books are for my personal reading pleasure. Chi-Chi and Muffy will likely never tire of their faithful old favorites. Used books are a great way to keep things fresh for all members of the family and they are a lot kinder on the pocketbook!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Through the Eyes of a Child

She was certainly a beauty in her day I imagine. In my teen years, I used to thumb through the old black and white photographs of her, longing to have inherited a hint of her handsome traits. She had an exotic beauty about her that I admired – raven hair, tanned skin, strong facial features framed by her widow’s peak. I look in the mirror today and try to catch a glimpse of her. The dark hair perhaps? We definitely share a passion for strawberries, that is certain!

A photograph of my grandmother rests faithfully on my bedroom dresser. From the moment I first saw this photo of her, I fell in love with it. I believe she was a youthful twenty-three years old when it was snapped. Beside it I’ve placed a few moon snail shells and beach glass treasures from Youghall Beach – the place in the world closest to her heart.

Although I walk past that photograph several times a day, the other day I took a moment to pick it up and reflect. Hubby was away on a business trip for the better part of last week so there wasn’t much quiet reflection going on while I was on 24/7 monkey duty! Memories of Nanny flooded my mind. Memories of strawberry jam, walks on the sandbars, her frumpy grandmother bathing suits and her screeching and hollering at the Saturday night hockey game on TV. I suddenly longed so desperately to know the woman behind Nanny on a different level – an adult level. I came to the realization that I only ever knew her through the eyes of a child. She passed away when I was in my early twenties, but had suffered from the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s’ Disease in the years leading up to her death. I focus my thoughts on her healthy years, but feel restricted by a child’s memory and point of view. I would love so much to sit down with her over tea today and see this woman for who she really was. She raised three sons so no doubt she could offer some useful advice in that department! She would have gotten such a kick out of Chi-Chi’s and Muffy’s antics!

Though it is early March, and winter is far from over in my neck of the woods, I find myself dreaming of my trip to Youghall Beach this summer. It’s a place where the past meets the present in our family. My own children delight in the magic of this special place, just as the generations before them did. As I walk those bars, the firm sand under my feet is a direct link to my past and my grandmother. Long before cottages dotted the shoreline, Nanny walked those same bars. She must have done so a thousand times.

So I sit and wonder about what impressions and memories are being ingrained in my children’s minds. What image of their mother will they carry with them from their childhood? Certainly something to ponder…

Monday, 9 March 2009

Bunny Love

Chi-Chi was born in early April four years ago. I remember this time in my life so vividly, as if it were just last week. It was the “year of the bunnies” around these parts. As I sat in my bed nursing my newborn son, I would count bunnies on the front lawn. At any given moment, one might spot five or six of these furry little friends, munching happily on tender green grass. Every time I come across a bunny, I think of this special time in my life and the birth of my firstborn “bunny”.

So, needless to say, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for bunnies. With Chi-Chi’s birthday and Easter coming up in a month or so, I’ve got bunnies on the brain. I’ve been working on a couple of cuddly felted rabbits on behalf of the Easter Bunny himself. Call me traditional, but there is just something appropriate about giving the gift of a stuffed bunny at Easter. This Fiber Trends pattern was incredibly easy to follow, but it did require a certain level of concentration to keep track of where I was. I'm a novice knitter so I was new to "short rows". It was a great “after hours” project with the kiddies in bed. This suited me just fine as I was working in secrecy anyway! I used Lamb’s Pride worsted yarn for both bunnies and stuffed them with soft wool fleece. I considered tucking a sachet of lavender in their bellies to enhance the calming effect of these cuddly creatures, but decided against it at the last minute. I’ve encountered one too many cases of the stomach flu recently and decided it would be best to keep these little guys as “wash friendly” as possible!

I always witness the felting process with such amazement. The before and after shots of our friend Peter Rabbit are quite shocking. The pre-felted, pre-stuffed bunny was actually somewhat disturbing to me, eerily resembling road kill, as opposed to the soft cuddly companion I had envisioned!

And they call it "Bunny Love"...

Sunday, 8 March 2009

A Spring Preview

Although we are in the midst of yet another dousing of snow and freezing rain, spring made a brief and much-appreciated appearance yesterday. We jumped at the opportunity to participate in a few “fair weather” activities including bike riding and puddle jumping. I was pretty tickled to see the mercury rise enough above freezing to hang a batch of freshly dyed wool on the line. A brisk sea breeze and a good dose of sun does the job in record time. I’m just itching to start working on a new project for someone very special, so the faster this wool dried the better!

As the sap starts to run in the trees, so do the ideas in my head. This limbo period between our farewell to winter and the arrival of spring is a time for thinking, planning, dreaming and anticipating.

Though our glimpse of spring was short-lived to say the least, it was just what we needed to get the enthusiasm flowing through our veins. I think we all caught a mild case of spring fever yesterday. Daydreaming of:

...spring chickens...

...and tasty garden beans...

...and a life free of hats, mittens, zippers, buckles and bulky snow suits! Thanks for the preview spring. We all look forward to the upcoming release of the full version!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Like Father, Like Sons

It seems our frequent trips to the beach over the last few weeks have reignited an interest in surfing around here. For the time being, the monkeys will have to be satisfied with the makeshift waves I made for them. It’s just a little too icy to send these two wee ones frolicking in the ocean waters!

They come by their passion for surfing honestly I suppose. Perhaps it is simply ingrained in their DNA codes. Anybody who knows Hubby is well aware that he is a dedicated surfer. Many people (myself included) would argue that another word for dedicated in this case might be a tad “crazy”. I’m not sure what kind of metabolism rate he’s churning out, but he must have one hot set of coals inside his belly if he can brave those frigid wind and water temperatures during these winter months. Of course, I realize he’s wearing a wet suit, but I actually begin to develop hypothermia at the mere thought of venturing into the fierce Atlantic Ocean in sub-zero temperatures. I’ve witnessed him out there in minus 20 wind chill, paddling his way through slush in an attempt to catch that perfect wave. The size and strength of the waves themselves also sends a shiver down my spine. It may have something to do with the fact that my repertoire of swimming strokes is limited to the dog paddle, but he braves some seriously scary situations. As his darling wife, I honestly try not to think about it!

Somehow this month, I caught an extremely mild case of the surfing bug myself. Sitting at my rug hooking frame with blank burlap canvass before me, I found myself sketching waves. I guess the boys have been playing a lot of basement hockey because it didn’t seem to take me that long to create this little rug. I suppose it is inspired by the amount of time my husband spends analyzing, observing, checking and re-checking the surf conditions around here. I guess I can’t be too critical. His obsession with the sport of surfing likely rivals my wool obsession! I’ll give him the first right of refusal on this rug, but perhaps it will be a nice submission to this year’s Surf Art Show.

So for the time being, we’ll continue to crank the Beach Boys (painful, painful, painful) and surf our way around the living room while we anxiously await those summer sunny days!

Friday, 6 March 2009

My Rose Colored Glasses

Last week, my good friend April and I took our crew to the beach for a dose of fresh air and a chance to burn off some energy. Despite the frigid air and water temperatures, Chi-Chi and Bananamuffin splashed shin deep in the surf as if it were July. Thankfully, I learned my lesson on our last beach excursion and outfitted Chi-Chi in a set of knee-high rubber boots this time around!

After our jaunt at the beach, we all made our way back to Seaside Farms to warm up, catch up and play! Standing in my kitchen, sipping hot tea, our conversation drifted to the enjoyment we’ve both discovered from blogging. We had a bit of a chuckle as we reflected on the aspects of our lives that are purposefully omitted from our postings. We both acknowledged that our writing most often focuses on the positive, the joy, the beauty and magic moments in our day-to-day lives. In my case, my blog originated as a personal creative outlet and a fun way to keep family and close friends up to speed on the daily events in our family’s life. It has evolved and shifted over time, but still remains as a means to highlight and remind myself of the “good” in my life. As I read through past entries, I often pause to smile and appreciate all that I have. It’s a sure fire way to give myself a little pick-me-up when I’m feeling down or having a cranky day!

So, feel free to read between the lines for a reality check! Know that it’s not rosy around here every day! This photo is a glimpse of what my house looks like today. This is what happens when I’m distracted with my crafts and the wee ones are busy and happy entertaining themselves. While I was lost in my “art”, crocheting yummy woolen strawberries and sipping tea, Chi-Chi and Muffy were hard at work for the city's waste removal department. The garbage trucks were hauling trash to “the dump” all morning long. I believe this pile includes every single last toy in the house!

Someone please remind me of the words to that catchy toddler tune. "Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere.....".

Sunday, 1 March 2009

In the Company of Crafts

Nothing quite warms the body and soul on a cold winter day than crafting by the warmth of my woodstove. These days, most of my creative endeavors take place after the sun goes down. A perfect winter evening in my books includes a ball of wool, a cup of tea (of course) and a quilt on my lap. I cherish these peaceful dark hours at the end of a busy day. With the little ones tucked in bed, I am free to let my mind wander and think as I work on my project in uninterrupted luxury!

I’ve got quite a number of creative efforts on my plate at the moment. For one reason or another, spring is an eventful time in our family. Holidays and birthdays fill the pages of the calendar during April and May. My handmade Christmas was so rewarding and successful that I have plans to continue the tradition during other gift-giving events throughout the year. In order to keep it light and fun, it’s important for me to stay ahead of the game. As long as the pressure is off, I enjoy the making of the gift just as much as the giving. Last minute scrambling and I just don’t jive. I would hate to offer a handcrafted gift that was created with a negative, stressed and rushed mindset.

Winter weather and woolly crafts just seem to go hand in hand for all members of the family (except Hubby it seems). Little Chi-Chi has been working diligently on his share of woolen creations. Both of the little ones display such a curiosity and interest in everything that goes on around here and a genuine enthusiasm to participate. He’s been sewing “hooked rugs” on burlap this past week – an idea I borrowed from his Montessori preschool. My colorful basket of yarn sits between us as we work quietly beside one another - sharing wool, good company and a love for handicrafts.

With Hubby being a tax accountant, he’s heading into a hectic couple of months! At least I’ll have my crafts to keep me company while the poor guy burns the midnight oil at the office!