a little bird told me

MIL bought these sweet little birds for Phillip for Christmas. They're from here.

And a couple more pics of the tea bowls Adam gave to me.

The next few days will (in theory, at least) be filled with cleaning, sorting, and soap making. This all leads up to Big Bad Thursday, when I return to work after my splendid maternity leave. Sigh.


knitting and visiting

We've had a lovely time with Adam's folks this week. With all of the free babysitting and wallpapering services (I promise, the pictures are coming!) we'll be sorry to see them go. And because they're just nice, too. Ingrid came over for a little visit, too - those are her deft hands knitting away at an adorable sweater for Phillip's birthday (which isn't until June - she's on the ball.) And that mug is one of four (all different colours) which Adam bought for me from the MOMA for Christmas. I love them!


the big clean-up

Sweet Mr. Stinky Pants in his Utata bib on Christmas morning. Adam participates in Utata, so I ordered the bib kind of as a surprise for him, too.

Cleaning continues as the bedroom gets finished and I'm trying to get things in order for going back to work next week (next week!). It seems daunting and no end is in sight at the moment. And I'm aching to add more soap to the shop, but I think that's just going to have to wait.


merry christmas

A very merry and peaceful Christmas to you all, complete with visions of sugar plums.


the scoop on plastics, including your Brita pitcher

For those of you interested in avoiding certain plastics, especially those containing Bisphenol-A (hormone disruptor found in certain plastics, including polycarbonate water bottles such as Nalgene as well as many brands of baby bottles), I've come across some alternatives which you may find helpful.

I've already posted about my glass baby bottles, and I recently bought a Sigg water bottle to replace my once-trusted Nalgene. I've ordered a Klean Kanteen sippy cup for Phillip (yes, I am fully aware of how horrible 'k's are when used to replace 'c's, especially when the 'c's are just as matchy and I almost didn't buy the bottle for that reason. I can't stand Kozy Shack, Krispy Kreme, etc. I completely and wholeheartedly support Bella Dia's post here.) Moving along... I started to wonder what type of plastic my Brita water pitcher is made of, and couldn't find any markings on the pitcher itself. I looked online and couldn't find an answer, either. So I sent them an e-mail and they promptly responded with the following good news:

"Dear Mrs. Graham,

Thank you for contacting us about Brita Pour Through System - Slim Pitcher . We always appreciate hearing from our consumers.

The pitcher lids and filter housing are made from Polypropylene plastic. The reservoirs and pitchers are both made either from NAS (a Styrene based plastic) or SAN (Styrene Acrylonitrile). The soft-touch handles are made from an elastomer called Santoprene (not to be confused with Neoprene or Latex). The lids for the chrome pitcher only are made from ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). All were tested by NSF International for safety and wetted contact. There is no bisphenol a in the pitchers.

Again, thank you for contacting us.

Sincerely, Candy Thoma, Consumer Response Representative Consumer Services"

I also found this article, which includes a little printable reminder chart of which plastics are better left alone. Merry BPA-free Christmas!

snowpeople and winter solstice

I am so excited about this amazingly generous and lovely Christmas gift from Jesse and Ingrid! Okay, take a closer look... that's snowperson Adam with his camera, and Phillip is in my arms! (I'm even wearing my orange coat, which I love, and you can see here.) It's beautifully framed, too, and will be on Phillip's bedroom wall after Christmas (I have it on the living room wall right now so everyone can see it.)
And a joyous Winter Solstice to you! It's a beautiful sunny day to celebrate. Adam and I have been counting down, because now the days start getting longer! It is a bit discouraging when it's getting dark out at 4pm. But now the days are getting longer, the year is almost over, and really, it's almost summer again.


a couple more things...

Okay, I couldn't stay away. I took some photos while Phillip was sleeping. And I have some packaging for my soap as I envisioned it in the first place! Check it out here. Did I mention that red berries in the winter are my thing?
I made this little knitting ornament for a friend of mine who knits voraciously. And meticulously. I made the ornament voraciously, but not meticulously... the glue gun went a little bit wild, making for that strange tumor where the "needles" (cut skewer ends with beads glued on) meet the yarn. Ah well. She's coming by in a little while to exchange gifts, so I hope she doesn't check in before then! And if you do, Ms I, act surprised, OK?


Merry Christmas to all...

Well, folks, it looks like there won't be too many posts in the next little while - with relatives visiting, plugging away at renovations of our bedroom, and me going back to work in a couple of weeks, there's plenty to do. Take care, and have a safe and very lovely holiday!


chocolate peppermint

New soap in my Etsy shop today! Mmmm.


Adam took this shot of Phillip after his bath the other night.

Adam's also been working away at our bedroom, which is looking really good. I picked out paint the other day, and ended up taking it back because it was way too yellow. I had it re-tinted, and it looks much better, but not exactly what I had in mind. It will be lovely, though, and certainly much better than it was. There's one wall which had a few layers of wallpaper and paint, so we're putting new drywall over that, in case there's lead under there. There are also a few spots where the plaster has separated from the lathes, so that needed to be repaired. Sometimes I wish we had a new-ish house where we could just paint! But it will look great. I have the before pictures, and can't wait to share them along with the after ones! Adam's family is coming for Christmas (not The Adams family) so I'm really hoping it will be done before they arrive. A very kind friend is helping us with some of the trim this morning... progress is being made!

Hope you're all enjoying your Christmas preparations!


around the house

Sweaters drying by the fire (can you tell I love cable knit sweaters?)
Ubiquitous holiday eats
And one of my favourite ornaments on our tree


in a diaper

Adam took this photo of Phillip the other morning. Eeek, he's cute!


look, teddy! christmas socks!

My sweet friend Annie made these beautiful Christmas socks for me! If you don't get the post title, watch this to see what Mr Bean and Teddy (and the mouse) get in their stockings on Christmas morning.


Merry Christmas from the Grahams

Our Christmas cards are done and almost ready to be mailed. What a sweet family!

In other news, we made a delightful discovery the other day - there is only one layer of wallpaper on the walls of our bedroom! One! There have been at least seven or eight in the other rooms we've done, which meant that they took forever to redo. So we have everything out of the bedroom, much of the wallpaper is off (vinegar and water work wonders!) and it should be done by Christmas. I'll definitely post before and after shots! This is very exciting indeed.

birch bark soap - the new etsy shop!

My new Etsy shop is up and running! Take a peek here!



Since my dad doesn't read this blog, I'll show you all what Ingrid knit for him for Christmas. They're called 'wristers' by old school lobster fishermen around here, and they're worn between gloves and sleeves to keep wrists dry and warm. Dad likes thin ones, as they don't get in the way. They're pretty much a knit tube. Ingrid also made a pair for him for his birthday. Here are some curious tidbits:

- My dad started fishing with his dad, who was also a lobster fisherman, and his boat is named the 'Anne Isabella' after his mother and sister's middle names
- The lobster fishery here runs from the last Monday in November until the end of May, and in 2002, Nova Scotia's landings were worth 427.5 million dollars (!)

Here's a semi-cheesy Youtube video which shows you kind of how it goes (please excuse the poor grammar):

soap packaging

I have the soap packaging ready - what do you think? Each soap will be wrapped in a handmade, reusable cotton bag as seen above. Also pictured above is a bar of my oatmeal, milk and honey soap, with orange and vanilla essential oils. It smells like a Creamsicle, only better. Mmmmm. I'm still aiming for Monday to have the Etsy shop open for business, and things are looking good! Especially since Phillip slept through beautifully again last night, which means I have much more energy to get things done.


lists, lists, lists

Warning: this post will be of the listy, mish-mashy kind.

1. Confession: A couple of people ordered soap. In my rush to get it to them quickly, I was too impatient to wait for my nice packing materials to arrive, and I did a shoddy packing job. I apologize, and feel obligated to post my apology. This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. The soap is lovely, though! I finished my first Etsy-worthy batch, so it's just waiting to be posted. I'm hoping for next Monday to have things up and running.

2. I've been catching up on my Google Reader feeds (Reader is my favourite web tool!) and seeing all sorts of beautiful handmade gifts and decorations which people have been working on in preparation for Christmas. I know that the 25th is well on its way, I have been busy getting gifts together, and the dining room is decorated. But I feel like each day is kind of flying by while I go about my regular business, as well as getting things ready for the Etsy shop. I think I need to slow down and enjoy things more. And get out of the house more, too - I find my whole frame of mind changes when I'm out and about, especially with Phillip.

3. Tree: we'll be cutting a little tree from my dad's woodlot again this year. They need to be thinned, we can enjoy the tree for awhile inside, and then the branches can go over the flower beds. This is something I really look forward to doing, and Phillip can come with us! We also need to get a family Christmas photo to send out, which we may do when we're getting the tree. We're kind of late on that one, but there's still time.

4. Gifts: I think that the only way I can get everything ready to go is if I leave it until the last minute. That doesn't seem to make much sense, does it? Otherwise, though, I'll just be waiting for a big block of uninterrupted time, and that's just not going to happen.

5. Work: I go back to work in less than a month. I really don't want to think about it, but it's like a whale sneaking up on me while I'm in a kayak (only I know that it's coming, so I dread it. The whale isn't very sneaky. The dread is what I'm going for.) I cannot imagine being apart from Phillip for a good part of the day. Ack.

Thanks for humouring me!

post-bath Phillip and soap update

Here's the P man after his bath last night. We figured out why he hadn't been sleeping very well - he needed more food! Yesterday he had rice cereal and fruit for breakfast, carrots and sweet potato for lunch, and more cereal and fruit for supper, along with full milk feeds. And he slept through last night! Yay! He's a growing guy.

Thank you all so much for your soap orders! I made a batch of oatmeal, milk, and honey soap last night (mmmm) which should be ready in a few days. I'm still waiting for my new and uniform molds to arrive and for my packing materials to be ready, and then I can start putting soap in the Etsy shop. For right now, I'm down to smaller bars of the peppermint poppyseed and plain bars, and I have some more chocolate peppermint bars (which are very creamy and rich, as I used a lot of cocoa butter this time), if anyone would still like to order tester bars. Mmmm!


birch bark soap

I'm so pleased with everyone's interest in my soap! This is the name and stamp design. It was made with lots and lots of help from Adam. Thanks, love! With some more help from Adam, I'm busy getting my paypal account set up, the website up and running, and all of those other details which need to be done. It's a lot of fun, and is going very well.

I'm happy to offer the discounted test batches to you, my loyal blog readers. The soaps are made with olive, coconut and grapeseed oils, as well as cocoa butter, making for a rich and moisturizing soap. I'm still working to find the perfect combinations for different soap types. Only real essential oils (rather than fragrance oils) are used, and the soap is made in small batches. Because these are test batches, there are lots of odd sizes of bars. (I'm waiting for my new and uniform molds to arrive.) Prices are as follows for the discounted bars, plus shipping:

4oz bar - $3.00
3oz bar - $2.50
2.5oz bar - $2.25
2oz bar- $2.00

Send me an e-mail at birchbarksoap@gmail.com if you're interested!


hint, hint *wink*

Simple Simon - an unscented bar suitable for sensitive skin and noses.
Peppermint Poppyseed - made with organic brewed mint tea and real cream.
I'm so excited about this mysterious big project I'm working on, that I just had to give a couple of hints. Okay, okay, you twisted my arm. It's not just for Christmas gifts, this lovely soap I've been making. I'm going to be opening an Etsy shop to sell my wares! Adam is helping me a lot with the details, and we're both looking forward to seeing it up and running, which should be in a few weeks.

If you're looking for some Christmas gifts and would like to order some of either of these soaps (I also have a chocolate peppermint batch which is curing as I type) I would be happy to sell them at a discounted price, since they're test batches and all. Just comment on this post or e-mail me and we can work out the details. Happy lathering!


crafting afternoon

These are three other lovely items I found at Frenchy's the other day. The beautiful cable knit is a J. Crew sweater made from a blend of wool, angora, and cashmere. Can you say "Mmmmmm"? At the bottom is my all-time favourite material - corduroy! I found a great pair of Gap cords which fit to perfection. On the left is an LL Bean men's wool slipper sock thingy for Adam.

We had a great time at Ingrid's crafting afternoon yesterday. 50% of the work accomplished was abandoned because it was a)completely huge and unsuitable or b)"butt-ugly". Thankfully, mine is a-ok and I'm excited to give it to its recipient. I also can't wait to try making the delicious tart that Ingrid made for us - it was remarkable!

In completely miscellaneous news, I had my first lobster of the season for breakfast this morning. In case that sounds ridiculously extravagant, I'll tell you that my dad is a lobster fisherman, and it was delivered fresh to my door. Mmmmm.

In other assorted miscellany, the forecast says that we're to get 15cm of snow tomorrow, our first real snow of the winter. Adam has the day off, so I'm looking forward to a cozy day at home with my boys!


frenchy's loot

Phillip and I tried the Joey hold in his Moby Wrap last night - he loves being able to face forward and see everything that's going on. Annie, Phillip and I went to Frenchy's the other day, and I found some books for Phillip, including this adorable vintage style one.

I have a big crafty-related project in the works, which is why posts have been slowing down over the past week. I promise I'll share as soon as things are all ready to go - it's very exciting and fun, but I need some more details sorted out before I can spill the beans. This will be at least a couple more weeks.

This afternoon, I'm attending another Christmas crafting party, which should be a great time. Again, I can't share what I'll be working on, since the recipient reads this, and we wouldn't want to spoil the fun.

Happy first day of December!