farewell, 2010!

We travelled home today (on the ferry pictured, the Princess of Acadia), and are settled in to quietly welcome 2011. Possibly by being asleep.
Happy New Year!



I had a very lovely, very quiet few minutes to myself with some Tazo Calm tea in the car this afternoon while a sweet baby slept in the back seat.

I hope that you manage to have a quiet moment to yourself, today, too.


The reader, and packing up Christmas

Tonight, Phillip read me a book at bedtime. No, he doesn't memorize; he can read pretty much anything. He's three. He's been able to for awhile, and reads things all of the time, but he usually prefers me to read books to him. Which I do - I try not to put any pressure at all on any sorts of academic things. And since he's able to read already, something must be working. Each day, I write him a little morning message on the little white board we have on our fridge, and he seldom has any difficulty reading about what's going on that day. I especially love it now that he's able to forget that he's reading when he is- he took a little break on Christmas morning to take one of his books aside and do some silent reading. Yes, I know that this is abnormal, no, I'm not making it up or exaggerating, and yes, we're thinking about how to make school not a completely boring place for him. I am thinking about it a lot. We're lucky to have the option of enrolling him in a French school or in French Immersion, so one of those will definitely be for him. We still have a little while to decide, and I'm trying to be relaxed about the whole thing. I think it's a little bit tougher because I work in all kinds of classrooms and know the system a bit. He's much further ahead in reading than lots of kids way beyond grade Primary (kindergarten). Then there's all of the social things to think about, and if he'll be with any of his friends... Ahhh, that's enough serious talk for tonight. Here he is, playing on my iPod Touch. A treat he enjoys every now and then.

I'm itching to get all of my Christmas decorations neatly packed up and put away until next year. All of the time, I'm less and less into shopping and more into purging stuff and making the most of what we have. I did buy a couple of things this week, though. I found some fabulous cards to send out next year, half price, and some colored LEDs for the tree. We've had a sad, mismatched tree light situation for a few years now involving some non-"warm white" lights, and I'm over the idea of white lights on the tree. They're too serious. So next year, we'll be back to fun colored ones. It sets a certain mood, which I think the boys will appreciate. I distinctly remember the ones from our tree when I was a kid, and I must have stared at them for a long time. They're really kind of magical.

I'm starting to think ahead to 2011 and what it might hold - 2010 was such a lovely year, if I could, I would do lots of it over again. The boys are asleep; I just might get out a pen and start some list-making. I hope that you're enjoying the last days of 2010!


snowy morning

We're having a lovely time together, despite some kind of 24 hour bug that's been making the rounds. Thomas is loving having all kinds of people around to cuddle with and smile at, and P has been having a great time, too. Surprisingly, he hasn't been overwhelmed (i.e. screaming and crying and having meltdowns) at all, despite the busy-ness of holidays and visiting and gifts. Speaking of which... Santa managed to find a gorgeous wooden dollhouse on Christmas Eve for half price. It's a hit.

I still don't know where P has ever played with or seen a dollhouse, but since he wrote his letter to Santa and first mentioned it, we had been trying to find one that was wood, not a million dollars, and preferably not ugly. We bought him a castle when we couldn't find one, and when Adam and I were out in Christmas Eve and found this one, we were thrilled. We can easily return the castle this week, and this only cost a few dollars more. I think this one fits the bill beautifully.

I hope that you're having a wonderful holiday with your friends and family, too!



We had a lovely, quiet dinner by locally-made beeswax candlelight to celebrate the solstice last night.

Phillip was sick again yesterday, so he got dressed in some clean pyjamas and we spent the day inside. I had been hoping to do some fun outdoor solstice celebration kinds of things through the day, but they can wait. Our dinner was lovely and calm; we turned off all of the lights and chatted about the season.

And now, on to more Christmas excitement!


frut pizza

My go-to party dessert, if I don't have a lot of time or new ideas at hand - fruit pizza. I've taken it to staff meetings, birthday parties, and everything in between. Everyone loves it, it's quick, simple, and delicious. Really, really delicious.

I made some to take to our friends' house yesterday. At this time of year, pomegranate seeds are beautiful and delicious on it, as are any citrus fruits, blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, kiwi, mangoes, strawberries - you name it.
The original recipe is here.

Fruit Pizza

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg (I substituted 2 tbsp corn starch, since one of the people at yesterday's get-together is allergic to eggs - did you know that you can do that? I've used it in several things, with no totally disastrous results - strange but true.)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 pkg cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together butter and 3/4 c sugar until smooth. Mix in egg. Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Stir into creamed mixture until just combined. Press dough into a greased pan. (*the original recipe calls for an ungreased pan, but it seriously stuck when I tried that. This time I used parchment paper, and it worked beautifully.*) Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla until light. Spread on cooled crust. Arrange fruit on top, and chill. Enjoy!


felted soaps - the stocking stuffer edition

So. If you make soap (and I know that some of you do), felted soap is a really, really quick and easy way to cover up some of your less-than-perfect bars. I was playing around last night in a festive, crafty mood, and came up with these little 'gifts' - I think they're adorable, if pleasantly imperfect. (If you receive one, act surprised, okay?) I just found some other little gift-ish felted soaps here, which are much more perfect!

I blogged just about everything I would type tonight almost two years ago over on my soap blog, so you can pop over there for some of the technical details. All you need is roving (if you're local, Hands On Crafts carries it), soap, and water. Magic! These ones were done quickly and certainly not terribly carefully; you could probably have better results if you took your time.
From that post:
Here's my first bar of felted soap! It was a lot of fun and very easy to do. You may be thinking a few things: a) what on earth is felted soap? b) why on earth would anyone bother doing this? and d) how do I make it?

a) Felted soap (or 'sweater soap', 'soap in a sweater') is simply soap wrapped in wool. Some people do fancy dancy things with cute little pictures, some go for my type of simple beauty, and some use lots of colour. There are tons of felted soaps on Etsy, and you can even order your own DIY kit here.

b) Having your soap wrapped in wool means that you don't need a washcloth or nylon shower poof thing. It increases the lather of your bar, and you can use your bar to the very last sliver. The wool is gentle on the skin, yet slightly exfoliating, and it's a natural material (aside from any crazy dyes and treatments to the wool). It also keeps your bar from slip-sliding all over the place.
So there. I think I'm going to try this with Phillip sometime in the next few days - it's definitely kid-friendly, and it might give me a chance to perfect my technique. I'm also planning on using some scraps for some rebatching fun. I love how my first rebatched batch turned out a few years ago, and that's another kid-friendly soap technique.

I hope that you have a great weekend! I'm done work for the break, so all of those Christmas plans for cookies and other goodies are due to begin straight away!


Christmas plans & frenchy's love

Warning! This is a long one. Grab some tea (preferably along with a cookie, of course) and get comfortable!
Ah, Christmas. The season in which I am completely overwhelmed with inspiration and devoid of extra time. I've come across some fantastic things over the past week or so, though, and I'm going to make the time. And I wanted to share!

Heather from A Handmade Life is brilliant, and I love her blog. (Thanks, Vickie, for linking to her awhile back!) She is always cooking something amazing with healthy ingredients, or sewing something great from thrifted finds. She recently posted a link to a tutorial for felted sweater slippers, and I nearly keeled over, they're so cute. I just might try to figure out this crochet thing, I like them so much. There's so much you can do with a thrifted wool sweater! Speaking of which, if I haven't mentioned it before, she made the most gorgeous wool blanket out of thrifted sweaters - it's absolutely perfect. I've been thinking about making one for awhile but haven't actually started collecting the sweaters... it might be a nice Christmas gift to make one for each of the boys next year. Hmmmm.

More and more, I feel attuned to the changing of the seasons, and I want to make it a bigger part of how we celebrate through the year. There are some great ideas here for how to celebrate the beginning of Winter next week. I think that we might do a candlelight evening, complete with candlelight dinner and baths - of course, I love and appreciate electricity, but I also think it's a good idea to have an evening without it for a change, to reconnect to the 'real' world, you know? Especially important for kids, methinks. Using positive ways to look and the changing seasons (rather than grumbling about all of the mud and slush and salt and outerwear) makes Winter more enjoyable and bearable, too. (I also just found a new wool winter coat for work at Frenchy's, which also makes things more bearable. It fits impeccably, and perhaps best of all - it has a hood! Extremely practical and appreciated when I'm scurrying to and fro for work. A very good find, for $5.)

Next: I love The Artful Parent. Coffee filter snowflakes. Winter ice wreaths. And soooo many more great, artful ideas to tackle with the little ones. (Pssst. I picked up a set of oil pastels for Phillip (new and in the box) at Frenchy's this week. I'm excited to see how he likes them, and for us to learn how to use them! They may end up in his stocking.)

Plan your Peaceful Christmas post: These string ball ornaments look super-easy to make and would be very, very fun to make with a toddler. And the felted garland looks like something I would love to do, cuddled up on the couch while watching a Christmas movie. Again, super easy, and cheap with the abundance of wool sweaters at Frenchy's! And the best part - they aren't ugly. And I'm instituting #6 - the basket of seasonal books. (I found a few new ones at Frenchy's a few weeks ago, and they'll look great!)

New Christmas cookie to try: three bloggers who I admire posted recipes for Rugelach this week. So I'm going to try making it. And that's that. Yum.

And if you haven't gotten your tree up and gorgeous yet (ours fell over the day we put it up, did I mention that? It's fine, now) here's instructions for an adorable tree skirt. It's not what you think - it's simple and burlap and beautiful. I'm thinking this might be a good way to go for next year - I'm currently using a thrifted table cloth.

And if you're still looking for gifts, here's an excellent list of clutter-free gift ideas. I don't know about you, but I'm really, really hoping that we don't end up with a ton of cluttery junk after Christmas. I am planning on going through the boys' toys with Phillip after the holiday to evaluate and decide what can be given away. I've been doing this with him every now and then since he was really young, and it never goes as terribly as I imagine it will. It usually goes very smoothly, actually.

So. I hope that you're having a pleasant pre-Christmas week!



I'm loving my new windowsill decorations. It's the same ceramic dish in this post, just used in a different spot. I love it!

Oh - someone wants to play peek-a-boo with you.

I hope that you're having a great weekend! I'm happy to be at home, and that the first week back at work is over!



Boo Santa!
My name is Phillip and I'm 3. Why are you always busy? I feel great about our Christmas tree. Thomas is little and my brother. I would like a dollhouse. Bye bye, Santa.
Love, Phillip

As dictated to Adam. I'm so proud of his writing! Didn't he do a great job? The letter has now been sent, and I do believe that Santa will write back. The dollhouse bit was completely out of the blue, and I thought I was done with the gifts stuff. But how can I not give him a dollhouse (from Santa, of course!) when he specifically asked Santa for one? We had a Fisher-Price one when I was a kid that I loved, and my parents think that it might be lurking in a corner of their house. So they're on a hunt for it. My fingers are crossed. Maybe I can scrounge up another used one if that one can't be found. We'll see. If I had gobs of money lying around, I might buy this one. But since I don't see that happening anytime soon, I'll search out a free one.

So I've been back at work this week. Insane. That's all. (Fine, though - just insane.) Only a few moments when I thought that I might lose it. Overall, not bad at all.


the winners!

Phillip and I devised a system where I wrote down the numbers for comments left, and he selected numbers.

The winner of the Brezza scrub brush is Heidi!

Two "toilettes" signs are going out to Kim S and farmer!

Please e-mail me your mailing address (to grahamsherrie (at) yahoo (dot) ca), and I'll get those out this week.

Thanks for playing along, and have a great week!


kitchen trim and a giveaway!

Our back door, looking out from the kitchen, hung with a plain evergreen wreath. A very little bit of decorating has been done; we'll do the rest when we decorate the tree.
Whew! Things have been busy around here. I'll be going back to work on Monday, and we're trying to get all kinds of little things done before that happens. One of those 'little things' (which isn't little - it's HUGE!) is that we finally have trim and moulding in the kitchen, and the whole thing has been repainted. It looks amazing! It's a very dark day, so the colour doesn't look quite as it really is, and my Photoshop skills are limited, to say the least. It's Benjamin Moore's Straw, and I love it. It's the same colour we've had for the past five years, and I chose it again. And the moulding is actually baseboard, flipped over. We have an awkward little corner where a cupboard opens, so we needed something really thin. But I wanted something kind of visually wide. Ta-da! I think it looks just peachy.Just a gratuitous kindling shot, since I love my crocks.
On to the giveaway! Pictured above is a brush. Purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart, just for one of you lucky folks. It has a whopping retail value of $4.99 CDN. I have a few of these brushes, and I love them. Wait - I LOVE them. Really, really, love. My favouite use for them is on my cast iron pans. The bristles are the stiffest I've ever seen, and they have a little grout cleaner semi-pointed thing on the back. Since one isn't supposed to use soap on cast iron pans, all you need to do, even after having eggs, is to run some hot water in the pan, loosen the stuck bits with the back of the brush, use the bristles to scrub off the rest, and voila! Done like dinner. I also have one in the bathroom, which is excellent for scrubbing the tub. (A tip from the archives - if you have an old enamelled iron tub like mine and are at a loss for how to really get it clean, baking soda and 5% hydrogen peroxide will get it clean. Sprinkle, spray, and leave it overnight. A quick scrub and rinse in the morning, and you're done. Promise!) So, that's item #1 which is up for grabs.
This sweet little painted metal sign to label your washroom is #2! It's about 6 inches long and 2 inches high, and I just think it's cute. I have two of these to give away.

And since it is a giveaway from me, there's always a chance of soap! I'll leave that bit a surprise for when you open your package.

As a separate kind of giveaway, I also have an extra Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer dough hook, which I am willing to send to someone willing to cover the shipping. If you're interested, just leave a comment. Retail value: $14.99.

So, here's what to do: leave a comment on this post with which item you would prefer, and what you would do with it! I'll select a winner on Sunday, so hop to it!

Happy December!


spiced crabapples

I didn't even realize it, but my sister was tackling her own first canning adventures this fall, too! These beauties were tucked in with a box of Christmas goodies which arrived this week. Thanks, Mar!

Aren't they lovely?

Saturday afternoon

My sweet friend (hi, Joanne!) brought over some Christmas treats this afternoon-with a beautiful handmade card, too. They are absolutely delicious. Like nutty Skor bars. (Which happen to be my favourite kind of chocolate bar!) Thank you for the treats and the visit!

And I captured a sweet moment my boys were having together with play-doh in the kitchen. These are the kinds of pictures I'll most appreciate later, I think.

Our town's Christmas parade is tonight. Phillip will be so excited once he realizes
that it's entirely Christmas themed. And then he'll be exhausted.

Thanks for the creature tips - I'll keep trying to find out precisely what it is. I would be more concerned if there were tons of them, but where there have only been a few, I'm not too worried. And I haven't noticed the smell, but you know what I'll be doing the next time I squish one!

Hope you're having a lovely weekend!


thursday evening miscellany

Firstly, Happy Thanksgiving to you Americans! I hope that you've had a restful day with lots and lots of delicious food made with love. Mmmm.

Is this not the saddest baby face, ever? This hearty (and usually happy) little guy is 8 months old today!

I've found (well, Adamdid) the perfect frame for my kitchen chalkboard project. I love it! More pictures when it's done, of course. We're having the kitchen painted next week, which is terribly exciting, and I'm hoping to have it finished soon after.

And does anyone know what these little critters are? Sorry for the terrible picture quality (night time in the dining room), but you can kind of see. I've found a few of them around the house, and they've been promptly vanquished, but I still don't know what they are. At first, it looks like a little piece of lint on the wall, but when you watch it for a minute, this little worm (he's poking his head out of the bottom) pokes his head out, and starts moving around, pulling the linty thing along with him. Fascinating, but in an I-don't-want-these-in-my-house kind of way. Could they be moth larvae? Anyone? It's certainly not a big deal, as we've only had a handful over several weeks, but I am curious to know.



Picked up this subtly-Christmas-y linen dish towel, new at Frenchy's when I went out with my mom on Friday. (Along with 8 other beauties, each different... shhh! They may end up as accompaniments to gifts, if I can bear to part with them. This one is my current fave.)

My head feels muddled today, and I can't seem to hold a thought for more than a nanosecond. Maybe another cup of tea is a good remedy.

Two weeks until I go back to work. Surprisingly, I'm looking forward to it.

Good night!


soap and being 3

Cinnamon Stick. Mmmmm. Most of these are now at Yarmouth Natural; I delivered a pile of soaps there the other day.

I need to make some soap in the morning. I was hoping that it might get done today, but that didn't happen because of other fun things. I did get a ton of food made, and took P to a Fun Fair. He was so excited-it was adorable. And he even won a cake! Watching him today and seeing him being so innocent and excited made me want to stop time and squeeze him forever. Today, I love that he's 3.

He has been doing tons of role-playing lately; Adam has become "Kevin" (I don't know why that's the name) and there has been lots of hanging invisible pinatas and pretending to break them open. Imaginary trips to the "post office" (aka the couch) and the "department store" are frequent occurrences, too. 3 is pretty fun.


a few things to share

I've got Christmas on the brain - this was our 'tree' a couple of years ago.

I'm up early with the babe this morning, and have an exciting day ahead - I'm going to be doing some Christmas shopping for the boys with my Mom. And we won't have any kids with us for several hours! This is an exciting prospect.

We're having some work done at our cozy little house - have I mentioned that? It's terribly exciting. Our closet now has a real closet rod, as of last night. I swoon every time I walk by, and left the curtains (we don't have doors, purposefully) open just to peek in and see the loveliness. I also spent a few hours organizing, vacuuming, and putting everything back in its place. Another bag is ready for donation.

I have a few things I like that I've been saving up to share with you:

I love how bluebirdbaby handles toys in her house.
This is the kind of kitchen I would love to create someday - white cupboards with a few glass fronts, butcher-block countertops, and a bright, fun feel.
I've been hearing and reading more about sugar alternatives lately, and this post has lots of good info.
This picture reminds me that I need to get cracking on a kitchen wall project that I have in mind. I'm hoping to pick up a giant, nicely textured antique frame, paint it and screw it to the wall, and paint the inner wall with chalkboard paint. We currently have a flimsy one hanging that we use constantly; I would love something a bit more sturdy. It is one of my favourite and most-used things in the house.
If I lived by myself, I like to think that I would totally have a teeny-tiny minimalist space like this. I adore the wallpaper above the bed.
Some lovely Christmas gift ideas of the greener variety are here, if you're making your list. (And especially if I'm on it, ha!)
For keeping our house relatively tidy, I do a lot of these things. Simple, yet effective! Especially cleaning out the fridge and wiping the shelves before putting a new week's groceries in. It makes a huge difference!

Speaking of Christmas, I have most of my shopping done. As I'm getting older (ahem, I'll be 30 soon!) I am so much less into stuff. In fact, I'm more and more into less and less stuff. And since shopping goes along with that, I'd often rather order things online. As much as I like to support local businesses, sometimes there are things that just can't be found in our small town or bookstore. Books are always something we buy for each other and other people, especially kids. I am always thrilled to receive a Frenchy's gift certificate (ahem, Adam!) or anything useful and handmade, so those are the sorts of things I like to give.

I hope that you have a great weekend!


good evening

I just had the irresistable urge to share some sweet pictures from the uber lovely weekend that we had. We went for a lovely family hike on a remarkably warm November afternoon. This happy, happy, oh-so-sweet boy was thrilled to be toted around on Dadoo's back in the big blue MEC carrier.

And the other boy ran. And ran, and ran, and ran.

Until he sat on a teeter-totter at the end of the trail with Mama, and was frozen like this for several minutes. He loved it.

Exciting developments around here - we finally have trim around a part of our kitchen that went without for five years. FIVE years! We're having the trim painted, and the walls fixed up a bit and re-painted the exact same colour as it has been. It's Benjamin Moore's "straw" and I love it. Did you catch that? I'm not tired of it! After five years! I picked the same colour again! That is absolutely not something I would usually do. It's a great colour.

Eventually, we're having a bit of work done on our very outdated bathroom. I found the perfect colour yesterday at Home Hardware in a Style at Home pamphlet.
Grey goose. It's a beautiful grey-blue. We're doing the bottom part of the walls in beadboard, which will be that colour, and the top of the walls will be another beautiful white from that collection. I'm excited.

Happy Wednesday!