How are you doing in this limbo week between calendar years? It's always felt kind of like non-time to me. Which I am loving right now, since I have little planned and lots I'd like to do around the house before I go back to work next week. I went through the boys' clothes today, which is always very satisfying. The toys are next on my list; I'm planning on tackling those tonight and tomorrow. Ah, I love cleaning and purging!

Above are a couple of the little gifts that we gave to friends and family this year. Phillip helped me decorate the vanilla jar. I think he did a great job! Have you made vanilla before? It's just about the easiest (and most delicious) thing possible; all it takes is a little bit of time. And you can buy organic vanilla beans on eBay for waaaaay less than at the grocery store. And I made the beeswax candles, which smell heavenly, too.

We don't have any grand plans for New Year's, but I do have some double-cream Brie, pecans, and maple syrup. Sounds like a party to me! I hope that you have a great time ringing in 2012. Happy New Year!


two more

I couldn't resist posting a couple more pictures from our lovely Christmas together. The tree was beautiful but short-lived this year; the stand cracked on Christmas Eve, releasing its water on the gifts. Only a couple got really wet, and they weren't valuable or special, so it was okay. We have family here for a few days, which is super fun. Speaking of which (whom), supper is waiting. (Supper which was made by someone else while I've been puttering around - nice!) Happy Tuesday!


christmas eve eve

The fire is burning merrily, the snow was falling beautifully for most of the day, and all is well at our house.  Well, mostly. I came down with strep throat and have been feeling pretty awful for a couple of days, but I have some antibiotics (bananacin, anyone?) and should be up and running again soon. Here's to 2012 being an antibiotic-free year in which you don't hear about my pneumonia, sinus infections, strep throat, or other maladies. This year was a doozy. With that, I'll leave you with some much lovelier images to fill your head that I took as I roamed around the house this morning. 

Okay, this last one warrants an explanation. Phillip has been given free reign with the tape dispenser this week. Along with wrapping numerous presents (mostly of the egg carton, flyer, or other-miscellany variety - please act delighted if you're a recipient) he has been using it to 'set traps'. This involves either a single long piece of tape across the whole doorway, or several smaller ones connected by a variety of other materials. They were initially for Thomas, who loves ducking under them. So now Adam and I have to move the traps to go through doorways. How adorable is that?

Speaking of adorable, this morning when it was snowing beautifully, Phillip said "Snow is actually broken up clouds, I think."

I hope that you and your favourite people have a wonderful, relaxed, calm, festive, joyful and healthy holiday together. Merry Christmas!



I have been delighted by these German Pyramids (I'm sure there's another name for them) since I first saw one several years ago. And today, I was the lucky gal who bought the last one (with 30% off!) at a shop downtown during a last-minute hunt for a little gift.

I didn't realize until today that it depicts a full nativity scene, replete with angels and shepherds. And of course, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. The heat from the candles turns the blades at the top, which sends the shepherds, sheep, and wise men running around. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus sit calmly and peacefully in the centre at the bottom, immune to the scurrying around them.


ginger jam-jams (say that five times fast)

I spent a little bit of time at Waterfront Antiques downtown this morning, and oh, the treasures I found! I can't share all of them (Christmas gifts!), but here's something that I bought just for me, and have been enjoying all day. Almost as soon as I arrived home, I got to work making some Ginger Jam-Jams. (Until today, I didn't know that a jam-jam is simply a jam-filled cookie. Nifty!)

There are hundreds of recipes in here, as well as some that were written in by a previous owner. The copyright date in the front of the book is 1913, which as Phillip says is "Even older than Papa!", and one one of the recipes written on a piece of newsprint, the date is 1906. It's amazing that it has survived so well. The pages are brittle, but it's well bound, and I'm planning to use it plenty. While I may not make the Peanut Loaf, Eonomical Batter Pudding, or Peanut Sandwiches (the ingredients include vinegar, brown sugar, flour, egg, pepper, salt, mustard and peanuts) there are plenty more that sound delicious.

That's the extent of the recipe. Just do the usual creaming, mix in the wet ingredients, then add in the dry. I used butter in place of shortening, six (!) cups of flour, rolled them out and baked them at 350 for about 11 minutes. It makes a very large batch, so I have some of the dough well-wrapped and chilling in the fridge.

Someone was helping me with the molasses.

Showing off his teeth and dirty nose, and holding his jaw to the side, for some reason. He looks so old in this picture!

I filled them with raspberry jam made from our backyard raspberries this summer. I can't tell you how good it made me feel, making cookies from a 1913 cookbook and using my very own jam from the most local possible berries. Yum!
And lastly, one little treasure I found that I can share, since I already gave it to the recipient. Adorable!

charlie brown tree

Good morning!

I'm up before the boys this morning. E-mails have been replied to, lists have been made, and I'm so excited to be on vacation. Speaking of which, we watched half of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation last night, which is a great way to feel Christmas-y. A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life are the other two mandatory ones.

My list to do today is a fun one. I'll be making some gifts for friends (which I can't list, since they might be reading!), hopefully getting some wrapping done, and maybe a little bit of baking, if I'm really lucky. Toss in some visiting and laundry, and the day is complete! (No day is complete without laundry.)

If you have access to tiny trees, you should do this tree-in-a-jar, too. Super cute, easy, and I'll replant the tree when we're done with it. Any sweet little vintage jar, teacup, bowl, or cup would do nicely. It's a great way to have a tree if you'll be away for Christmas but still want a tree, or if you want a little something in a small space. I bought the tiny ornaments on sale last year after Christmas, but it would be super cute with homemade ones. Or little bows, or something.

I hope your list for today is a good one, too. I hear some rustlings upstairs, so I'll go see what those boys are up to. Yesterday morning, it was Phillip taking out all of Thomas' sheets, blankets, socks, and piling them up on the floor. He goes in every morning, turns on Thomas' light, and gives him some books to look at. It's so cute to hear them - sometimes he'll sing a song for Thomas, or read him a book, or explain how something works. It's so sweet.

Have a great weekend!


le bonhomme de neige

Phillip had his Christmas concert tonight. It was adorable, if a bit unintelligible. That's him, right in the centre.

Tomorrow is my last day of work before the break, and I can't wait. An assortment of special people are here visiting (yay!), and I am looking forward to relaxing with everyone and just soaking in the season.

Lastly for tonight, I have delivered my last straggling bars of soap to Yarmouth Natural this morning. There won't be any more delivered there before Christmas, and apparently they've been flying out of the store, so now's your chance. My shelves here at home are bare, too! What a lovely situation to be in. Thank you so much if you ordered some soap from me this season - I hope that it's enjoyed in good health.


quick quaker muffins

Thank you, Ruby Grant. From one of Nana's cookbooks that we've been enjoying lately. (Phillip can read her cursive writing. I thought that was pretty amazing.)


cookie house

This cookie jar / 'gingerbread' house lived in a cupboard when I was growing up. I'm guessing that it was bought by my mom or given to her as a gift sometime in the 70's. It was broken at some point in its life, and was (quite well, actually, which leads me to believe it wasn't my Dad who did the repair) glued back together. There's something I just love about it, and every time I walk by it I smile a little bit. It's just the right size, and perfectly imperfect. And how do you like my little tree in a mustard crock? I found the idea here, via Pinterest.

I see now that Phillip turned the roof around between the time I set this out and when I took the picture. (It's been pretty dark lately, making great pictures tricky.) That kid. He has infection in both ears; he finished a round of antibiotics yesterday, and his ears still hurt. So we took him to the doctor this morning, and it's not cleared up. So he needs to take another round of some better tasting stuff. He's super cooperative at both the doctor's office and in taking medicine, which is wonderful - I just wish he didn't need to.

I'm getting ready to make this cake tonight for company tomorrow night. When it's baking, I'm planning to wrap up some soaps for Yarmouth Natural to deliver tomorrow. I'm getting pretty low on soaps, which is lovely; all I have left to make are special gifts! That's the extra-fun part.


beeswax star garland

It's beginning to look like Christmas around here, and I love it.
I saw a tutorial somewhere recently on making a garland of beeswax stars, cut from those bumpy sheets of beeswax used to roll and make taper candles. I loved the idea, so I asked at Hands on Crafts, our local source for all things crafty, and they had smooth sheets. Which I like so much better than the bumpy ones! They also have metallic and coloured beeswax sheets, in gold (pictured above) and red, I believe. The plain sheets that I bought were $2.50 per sheet, and I cut 15 large stars from one.

The sheets are super thin, and need a brief warming with a hair dryer to soften them a bit. This helps to prevent them from breaking. Then, just cut them with a cookie cutter (you need to press really firmly on all of the corners to make sure the cutter is through), and string them into a garland,  or individual ornaments if you prefer.

These would also make great little tags for gifts; especially tied to jars filled with homemade goodies. Super simple, inexpensive, and cute! I'll definitely be making more of these before we deliver all of our gifts; act surprised if you get one, okay?



I turned 30 in March, and this was Adam's gift to me - a flight over my beautiful town and the place where I grew up. The timing for the flight didn't come together until yesterday, and it was amazing, despite a bit of queasiness toward the end. To stave off the queasiness until the end meant that I didn't get a whole lot of pictures, and the size of the plane and the inability to, well, move didn't help. But I enjoyed every minute.

From the moment I saw the headsets, I was totally channeling J.L. If you know that reference without clicking the link, we are kindred spirits. If not, there's still a chance that we are; it may just mean that you didn't grow up in Canada in the 80's.

Happy Monday!



Before I get started, I just wanted to say a special little welcome to any new (or new-ish) readers. I know there are some of you out there. Hi! I'm glad you're here.

I'm always listening to something. I drive a lot for work as an itinerant teacher, so I like to take advantage of the time to myself. Sometimes I drive in the quiet, but not too often.

CBC Radio One almost always has something relevant or interesting, and if I'm driving for longer than a few minutes, I'll usually check in to see what's on there first.

My second option is Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius, especially Everyday Food and Whole Living. I always learning something new. I avoid the pet shows like the plague, though. I do not want to hear about a dog's digestive woes, thanks. Gross.

I love a few podcasts, and I don't think I've talked much about them here on the blog. I have a little gadget that connects my iPod to the car radio (the car I drive for work is old and predates built-in things) and I love to listen to them that way. Or when I'm washing dishes, folding clothes, or other busy work after the boys are in bed. My current top three are Spilled Milk, Joy the Baker, and Simple Mom.

Sometimes, though. I just want music. Lately it's been Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes. The whole album is amazing. They have this magical sound that I love; the harmonies remind me of Simon & Garfunkel. Lisa Hannigan's new album Passenger, is kind of awesome, and in many ways very different from her first. And Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More. Still.

Speaking of music, Jango is a free internet radio site I just found yesterday. I haven't figured it all out yet, but I love it.

What have you been listening to lately? Any recommendations?

(Nope, the muffins don't have anything to do with anything. I chose a completely random image from a folder from 2008, and this is what I got. )

Happy weekend!


odds and ends

Some lovely Spiced Rum shaving soap. I just made a batch on the weekend to fill some 'manly soap' Christmas requests. Just let me know if you'd like to order some soap of any kind - I'm in a bit of a soapmaking frame of mind. Take advantage!

In other news...

Anthology Mag. Awesome, free online magazine with all kinds of goodness. I haven't even finished reading it, but wanted to share the loveliness.

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder. Making it this week.

I love her illustrations! I especially love this one, with the Le Parfait-type jar and Orla Kiely bowl. Mmmm.

I had a great Monday, and I hope that you did, too. Phillip is feeling much better (ear infections kept him down on the weekend) and I think tomorrow will be another ordinary, lovely day.