Saturday, 9 July 2016

Simple Pleasure of the Week

The other night I had a very strange nightmare.  It probably classifies as more of an tailor-made for a Wool Fairy.  I dreamt that I was in my bedroom and spotted a pesky clothes moth fluttering around....and then there were two, and six and ten.  I looked up to see that the entire ceiling of my bedroom was covered in cocoons, with moths "hatching" from them faster than the eye could see.  Somehow my new Miele vacuum (which was a very exciting, recent, long-awaited purchase for me) could not suck them up quickly enough! 

I'm never pleased to see a moth fluttering inside our house.  I found a couple while cleaning out our closet the other day and was quite distressed.  My husband just purchased new wool suits for the fall and moths are the last thing we need nibbling on them. With the doors open and closed (and often left open) by the boys 1000 times a day, it is inevitable.  Ironically, I have moths to be thankful for lately as they have been keeping the kids entertained for a small spell each day.  We have been spotting some very pretty moths lately around our house.  The boys have been leaving the outside night on each night to see what they can attract.  The first thing they do when they wake up is run downstairs to see if they can spot any new creatures.  I love how children can help you stop and take notice of the simple pleasures in life.....even teaching a Wool Fairy to find a soft spot for moths in her heart.  My 9 year old actually remarked, "Wow, there are so many lovely moths today!".  Here are our favorites from this weeks "catch". 
polyphemus moth

Luna Moth

Waved Sphinx

Although I'm starting to see the beauty in some moths, I'd prefer they stay away from my woolens!  Does anyone have any tips for keeping them out of the closet??

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Country Lifestyle and Looking Presentable

A few years ago my mom introduced me to the Madame Chic series of books by Jennifer L. Scott.  Her books are a light, conversational read that provide many useful tips and concepts to assist you in elevating all areas of your life.  One concept I felt I could really put some effort into was the notion of "looking presentable always".  As a stay-at-home mom, living in a rural setting, I found this particularly challenging to get my head around.  That being said, I really felt like I needed to update my look as I was approaching 40.   I was certain that if I put a bit more effort into my appearance that I would feel better about myself throughout the day. 

I spent a lot of time thinking about and working on this concept, as well as her ten-item wardrobe philosophy.  I figured out a suitable daily "no-makeup" look that I felt comfortable with.  I upgraded my wardrobe from jeans and t-shirts to nicer, well-fitting jeans, nicer tops and great footwear (:  I even put a few dresses in the mix.  I felt great....but I was scared of ruining my nice clothes! One wrong move around here and the damages could be catastrophic....from snags to grease stains.  Here were the challenges I found myself faced with:

  • I live on a rural property with animals that require daily care.  We currently have chickens and ducks.  At one point we had four sheep.  Feeding and watering them is messy!
  • I have a long gravel driveway and drive a truck-style vehicle.  Delicate footwear doesn't jive well with this scenario.  Our chickens are free run so my driveway has hazards to be avoided!
  • I have two boys who are VERY active and into a lot of messy activities.  We often go to the skatepark so they can BMX, or to the pond, or to the beach......  Smearing myself in bicycle grease is a common occurrence when I'm helping with the loading and unloading gear.
  • Exercise is a big part of my life.  Most days include two workouts - a weight program first thing in the morning and then a run when the kids are at school.
  • We burn 3 cords of firewood a year.  Because I'm the one home all day, I pretty much look after the ferrying of this wood from the barn to the house on a daily well as running the stove all day in the cooler months.
  • I'm a gardener!  Most years I've maintained a decent sized vegetable garden and flower beds.  This year the veggies are on the back-burner due to an injury, but I imagine they will return.
When I first looked at this list, I thought what is the point?  I'm constantly doing messy things and I will ruin everything in no time.  I was, however, feeling so great about the new me, that I devised a plan that seems to be working for me.

  • Get the dirty work over with first thing!  As soon as I get up in the morning, I work out doing weights and then a run.  I love starting my day this way.  It gives me energy and such a boost. 
  • Feeding and watering the birds is done right after my workout while I'm still in my workout clothes.  This is also the time I would do things like gather up the garbage, sweep the garage.
  • In the winter, my barn chores also involve bringing in a couple of wheelbarrel loads of firewood and loading up the wood box for the day....again wearing my exercise clothes.
  • Black and other dark colors are my friend.  I need things that just don't show the dirt, which is really inevitable.
  • Washable fabrics are also my friend. 
  • Jeans are still the best choice for me.  I think they can look great and a dark wash skinny really suits my figure.  In the winter I wear dark grey, black and dark blue.  They wash well, the fabric is sturdy and they can be dressed up.  They suit my lifestyle!
  • Don't be lazy and change your clothes if the situation calls for it.  If I'm dressed in a nice blouse for the day and the boys beg me to take them to the skate part.....I change my top to a black t-shirt.  It only takes a minute and I usually have dark jeans on that can handle any messes.  I will also change into Converse sneakers over more delicate shoes.  My husband once caught me piling firewood in a pair of $200 jeans....not a good combination.
  • There is no excuse for not taking the time to have a shower, do my hair and put on some light makeup.  I always feel better about myself.  I can still look cute and pulled together while I'm piling firewood or hanging at the skate park!!!  Even if I'm in "work clothes" I can still have clean hair, a fresh face and my sliver hoop earrings on.
  • Jennifer recommends using an apron, and this is what I do throughout the day.  If I'm cooking, doing light weeding,  loading the woodstove or fetching eggs from the coop, I make sure I have my apron on.  It helps if you have one you really love.  I purchased a beautiful Japanese-style linen apron that goes well with my neutrals-natural look.
  • Putting the "birds to bed" at night is usually delegated to my son or husband.  If I need to go out there, I usually have my PJ's on at this point and throw on a barn coat and rubber boots.  Not presentable by any stretch, but I can't be a perfectionist in this situation.
That about sums it up!   I feel like I've managed to fit "looking presentable always"....or at least most of the time, into my life.  I truly feel great about it and it puts a spring in my step each day!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Me, Myself and I Project

With less running around this summer, I'm enjoying more time at home to putter on projects.  The kids are really content right now to stick close to home and are enjoying the chance to sleep in, putter around the yard and work on little projects.  I have yet to hear "I'm bored" which is a good sign.

Today I spent some time working on my bedroom space.  Since we moved into the house 12 years ago, I focused most of my decorating and space improvement efforts on the areas I spent the most time in - the kitchen, dining, living space.  The master bedroom was always a last priority.  Over the last year or so, I've decided to make my personal space (or shared with my husband space!!) a bit prettier.  My goal is a peaceful, serene, soothing, organized sanctuary.  It's a space that's easier to control the clutter because of the lack of kid-related items (in theory).

Here is a photo of my bedside table.  I like to keep current books I'm reading on hand since I usually read a bit before going to sleep.  Lately I've been making the effort to bring in fresh flowers that make me smile.  Our sea roses are in full bloom and are incredibly fragrant.  It is so pleasant to wake up to the smell of sea roses and the sound of morning birds and ocean waves this time of year.  It starts me off on the right foot each morning, making me feel thankful for simple pleasures.  I also keep a little photo of my mother and I when I was about 5.  It's a reminder that I was once a little girl and to be kind to myself each treat myself with the same kindness and patience I would with a child.

I recently acquired an essential-oils diffuser!  I run it each evening for about an hour with a mixture of lavender and tangerine.  It is a very soft, relaxing scent.  I prefer it to candles, which I used in the past.  I don't trust my kids around them unattended quite frankly! 

This is my dresser top.  I love this little antique dresser.  It used to be in my grand-parents' beach cottage and I was lucky enough to get my hands on it.  It's old, stained and the drawers stick, but it reminds me of my Nanny and summers at the cottage.  I like to keep my daily jewelry on hand, which is minimal and simple.  I pretty much wear the same jewelry every day - a silver necklace, silver hoop earrings, a menswear inspired Nixon watch and a meditation ring (can't forget my wedding bands!).  My son made this driftwood whale/tail jewelry holder for me to store my bracelets and necklaces.  I will love this and him forever!!

I'm also working on organizing our shared closet.  Since I started trying to incorporate the Jennifer L. Scott inspired ten-item wardrobe in my life, this has been much easier.  My husband's side is a work in progress!  Good news is that he too is trying out a bit of a ten-item wardrobe (:  It's fun to help him so I cleaned up his side a little.  I keep the off-season items stored and only have what I'm currently wearing hung up.  I like Fiona's idea of hanging everything, so I even hung up my summer shorts.  I like having all options in plain view and this also keeps items that would normally be folded wrinkle free.  I might expand more on my ten (I think I'm at 15 or 16 actually) wardrobe in a later post. 

Our bedroom is a work in progress, but I'm enjoying puttering away at it.  I'd like a new duvet cover and I'd like to hang our art (it's about time after 12 years).  I enjoy the feeling of having a pretty, soft bedroom.  It's the same feeling I felt as a little girl...always organizing, rearranging, decorating.  I realized that my husband could care less how I set things up in there, so it really is my place to play with! 

And yes.....this is what I found in my room last night.  That pet chicken was snuck in the house and ended up in our bedroom room of all places!  He was sent out to the coop immediately.  I don't want to squash my son's love of the chicken, but my bedroom (and the entire house) is no place for this guy.  Maybe my son can work on beautifying the coop!!  There's a's a better idea than the chicken diaper he tried to make.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The "Secret Garden"

It's been over two years since I've taken the time to share my thoughts and contemplations in this space!  Lately I've been getting the urge to dip my toe back into my blog.  With the lazier days of summer officially kicking-off today, I felt like there was no time but the present.  Although the boys are off school and will be keeping me super busy all day, everything still seems to operate at a much slower pace this time of year. 

Much has changed since my earlier days of blogging.  The boys are much more grown up at 10 and 11, so my days look a lot different than they used to.  They are growing into such fun, independent, creative and highly energetic individuals..  Being a stay-at-home mom looks a lot different for me now than it used too.  Gone are the days of toddler crafts and hand-made toys.  These days the boys are making their own creations and adventures, completely free from my guidance and inspiration.  I can now sit back and enjoy watching them "do their thing".

I thought it would be fun to take on a little project of my own for the next month - one that really focuses on me.  I have found that as the children grow up, I really do have more me time in my life!  I'm taking a closer look at my own life and tweaking areas I'd like to improve.  I recently started reading 30 Chic Days by Fiona Ferris of the blog How to be Chic  and am absolutely loving it.  It provides a fresh perspective on the topic of living a more refined, French-inspired chic lifestyle.  This is a topic I've been having fun with over the last couple of years.  I've read the Madame Chic series of books by Jennifer L. Scott., which are also inspiring and practical reads.  Fiona provides so many fun and doable ideas to elevate yourself in both physical and mental ways.  I've decided to work my way through the book this summer by looking for ways to fit a number of her ideas into my life as a stay-at-home mother of two boys living on a little farm-like property.  It's not always the chicest environment, especially when your son has a pet chicken he tries to sneak in the house!

This morning I started with her idea of the "Secret Garden" from Chapter 5.  I've carved out a little time and space designated for morning reading and journaling while the boys are sleeping in.  It's my little corner on the deck, with a peek of the ocean view and the smell of my roses from the garden below.  My son even helped me install a little window-feeder on the glass deck panels so I can enjoy the morning birds!  This will be my sacred thinking spot this summer, weather permitting!