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!