weekend finds

What's this? A yarn picture? Who, Sherrie? Knitting? I though she was way too impatient. Well, I've caved and succumbed. I bought some gorgeous yarn and am working on a cowl. And what's that that the yarn is placed on?
Well, it happens to be an absolutely perfect rocking chair, scored at an antique sale on the weekend. For a nifty price. I saw it the weekend before, and didn't buy it. I thought about it all week, and decided that it would be the chair that I would sit on when I'm old and wrinkly and knitting away. My feet touch the floor. It doesn't rock back too far. And the spindles cradle your whole body perfectly - they're not uncomfortable at all, as you might imagine. I am in love.

The satisfaction of buying a well-made, solid wood, beautiful functional object with a history makes my core hum in a very happy way. So much more lovely than a soulless factory-made piece of synthetic, flimsy materials.
 I also scored this gorgeous Cathrinholm bowl. (For $5!)

It was a swimmingly lovely weekend for many more reasons; more on that later. Happy Monday!


winter skin lotion

As promised:

Winter Skin Lotion

4 tbsp beeswax pastilles (makes a thick lotion; grated beeswax would make it a little bit thinner.
                                         You can control the thickness by adjusting the amount)
8 oz olive oil (or other oil, depending on your skin type - grapeseed oil is a lighter option)
4 tsp coconut oil
8 tbsp water
essential oils, if desired

Melt beeswax in a double boiler. Add coconut oil when the beeswax is almost entirely melted. I use a glass measuring cup in one of my stainless steel pots. Warm olive oil oil briefly in microwave, just so it's slightly warm and not cold (cold oil will cause the beeswax to re-harden). Add the olive oil to beeswax and coconut oil, and whisk until everything's liquified, no longer.

Remove from heat. Use a stick blender and blend while slowly drizzling in the water. Continue mixing for another minute or so. The lotion will be quite hot and runny at this point, but will thicken as it cools. Blend it a bit every now and then as it's cooling, After it's cooled, you can add essential oils, if you like; I love this as an unscented lotion for the boys and myself, especially since I work in scent-free schools. Put into jars or bottles. I prefer a wide mouth jar, especially since it's a firm-ish lotion.

 Makes approximately 2 cups. Recipe can be doubled, halved, tripled, etc. Try it for a couple of weeks, and let me know how amazing your skin feels!

*The link to the place where I originally found this recipe no longer exists; if you let me know where it's moved, I'd be happy to link to it!*


ice wreaths

It's a snow day! Thomas is napping, and Adam is reading with Phillip. On the weekend, P and I made these ice wreaths, using a bundt pan and a big bowl with a ramekin in the middle. I saw the idea over at The Artful Parent, and knew that when some cold weather approached, we would be making them. And we did!

A few tips: don't put much water in; we put too much and everything floated, leaving thick ice on the front. Boil your water first, and it (supposedly) the ice will be clear. (I read that tip after we made them.) Try to weigh down cranberries or other floaty things with heavier, other naturey things. We used a sliced, old orange and some cedar twigs from a branch I pruned, and laid them on top of the cranberries. The bundt pan worked waaaay better than the bowl and ramekin; there's actually no hole in the one we made with the bowl because it expanded as the water froze. I'm hoping that the birds will come and eat the orange and cranberries as the wreaths thaw.

Other things we've been making:
Phillip was perfectly happy with a newspaper and a pair of scissors for awhile this morning. Give it a try!

Lovely (and easy) olive oil lotion for winter skin. The original link to the recipe no longer exists, so I'm glad that I printed it! I'll share it very, very soon.

I bought some yarn to try knitting (again)! It's gorgeous, and I'm hoping to make a cowl. Pictures soon.

Happy snow day! I hope you're warm and cozy. What's your favourite snow day activity?


on happiness (warning: it gets a little airy-fairy and long-winded)

I heard part of an interview with Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project last week and have been thinking about it ever since. (You can listen to it here; it's in the January 19th episode. I love Jian.)

I've written about my disposition before. I am happy. Cheerful. Content. Thankful. Lots of people comment on what a happy person I am. To a certain degree, it's just how I am. But a lot of it, I choose. I'll be the first one to say what a fortunate person I am, living in Canada, with a stunning (if I do say so myself) family, and good health. I also have a few university degrees, a job that I love, and the freedom to pursue hobbies which I also love.  While a little bit of this is out of my control, I've worked really hard for all of these things, too.

In order to foster my sense of contentedness and well being, I do a few things in particular which I've been thinking about.

1. I try to be content with what I have, while making it the best it can be.

For example: I love looking at gorgeous images of homes, gardens, and other people's spaces. Rather than lamenting and saying "If only I had that space, that money, lived in that place", I recognize what I like about it and figure out how to incorporate that into my life with what I have or can reasonably work toward. I have this house / job / situation. How can I make it the best it can be? Incidentally, we are looking for a perfect new-to-us home which a) allows chickens and goats and b) has space for the two kids and two home-based businesses we weren't planning for when we bought this house. In the meantime, we are making do (quite nicely, I think) and are thankful that we have a warm place where we're all together. It requires more effort to think proactively and productively, but the payoff in happiness and satisfaction is huge.

Speaking of effort paying off...*tidy segue*

2. Could a little bit of effort pay off in increased happiness? Usually, yes.

One of my non-New-Year's goals is to evaluate possible actions based on potential payoff. I think of it as "the worth-it factor". For example, I know that getting together with friends really makes me happy and thankful and all kinds of other warm-fuzzy descriptors. But it's easy to speed through the days and weeks and months just getting through. But I don't want to just get through, I want to love them and enjoy every minute. So, even though it's some extra work in planning, and preparing and cleaning up, it's worth the effort to me to have people over or to arrange to get together for a meal or playdate. Doing an extra something for someone like taking a loaf of bread to the neighbours is something which requires a little bit of effort on my part, but is worth it because it fosters a sense of community, shares something handmade, and shows that we care. Ummm... and it's delicious.

*here's where things get kind of flaky, but I really mean it*
I really, truly, deep-down believe that there are enough tragic, negative, heart-wrenching and horrible things that people have to go through and that people inflict on one another. As long as I'm able to, I want to put more beauty, love, and kindness out there, in any big or small way that I can.

So there. Is there one little thing that you've been meaning to do that could be worth the effort? What is it? Why have you been putting it off? Are you going to do it now?

Things that are making me happy (and thankful for my sight) today:
New flickr stream and blog that I just discovered and love. This ring is especially lovely, and did you see that tea selection? Dreamy.


les boys

I have so many things to tell you about, like how we've been trying to find the perfect house for at least three years now, and it just hasn't happened, with yet another disappointment today. And how chickens are not permitted in our town. And how thankful I am for my very charmed life, and my thoughts on happiness. I'll save those thoughts for another day. When all else fails, post cute pictures of the boys.
 Phillip and I have been making all kinds of things from craft books lately. I picked up a copy of Nature Crafts for Kids at Frenchy's when he and I went last weekend. It's fantastic! I highly recommend it for kids of all ages. Many of the activities are for kids a bit older, but there are parts that he can do. And it's organized, very appropriately, by the season. He was taking post-it flags and marking the ones he wanted to do. Which meant every page.
 And this little man will be ten months tomorrow (!) and took FOUR steps in a row last night! Again, right to his Mama.
 I think he's working on some more teeth. His top tooth is not, as we first thought, one of his front ones, but the one next to it! He's been holding his mouth like this a lot. Which makes his chin look chubbier and his cheeks droop a little bit more. I love it.
Isn't his hair fantastic?

Good night!


last weekend's finds and a gorgeous drive

I am the crazy woman who drives around with pruners in the trunk and often a camera at the ready. This morning, we woke up to a perfect snowfall, and I took this picture of one of my favourite views while travelling for my job as an itinerant teacher of the visually impaired. It was a beautiful morning.
Ah! The Frenchy's finds that I mentioned on the weekend! The fantastic crib sheet is from Pottery Barn, and is by far the best-fitting crib sheet I have ever used. Not to mention the coolest.
 And these three thrifted ceramic things that look like paper cones are also from Pottery Barn. I added in some branches, and I'm kind of liking them on the stairs. Something about them looks like store decorations to me, though... what do you think?
I had all sorts of profound thoughts and ideas to post while I was driving today, and as I fully expected, they are out of my head. I'll have to go back to taking voice notes while driving - it's a good way to remember those fleeting clever thoughts.

It's Friday tomorrow! I am definitely looking forward to a cozy weekend. I just picked up Radical Homemakers from the library, and can't wait to start. Happy Thursday!


january 19

I love it when people tell me that they read my blog. Especially in person. It happened a couple of times today, and it just makes me so very, very happy that other people enjoy something that I have so much fun doing. And it really is entirely about fun for me - I don't make any money from it, I have no ulterior motives, I am not concerned with getting subscribers, I have no strict posting schedule or other blog-bog. (I just made that up. It's like getting bogged down, but with your blog. Moving right along...) It works for me, and keeps it from being a drudgery.

Just so you know, the birdseed ornaments don't survive rain very well; they turned to mush and are now seedy blobs on the sodden, mucky, gloomy mud. If you're in a place with rainy winters, maybe an oil-based mix is the way to go. Keeps the birds chipper, too! The dreary weather outside is nicely put out of my mind when I'm looking at this picture - I took it the other day during a brief sunny spell. It turned out exactly as I had hoped. I love it when that happens.

And perhaps the most exciting thing that happened today - Thomas took his first step, right to me.


laundry room

This is the kind of post that I love to read on other blogs, but don't really post very often. Our porch is small but mighty! This is what it looks like on any given day (but not every day); I really try to keep it tidy since it's the first thing anyone (especially me!) sees when coming in.  It's our laundry room, and main entry to our house. Pictured are my homemade laundry soap and baking soda, and some oxygen bleach in the enamel container. (I most often use Down East liquid detergent, which is just to the right of these; you can see it a few pictures down.) In the canister on the left are a few little odds and ends. The previous owners rigged up that funny little nail to support the shelf, and there's something I like about it.
Bottom shelf, far left is a basket with Oxy Clean Baby, sunscreen, and shoe polish. To the right of that, a great enamel dish (from Value Village!) which holds my clothespins. The back door is directly opposite the washer and dryer, and there's just enough room for it to open. That's where the clothesline is. Coats and shoes are tucked in on hooks and shoe racks behind the door. (Incidentally, that's my leather work bag, which I also found at Value Village several years ago for $2.99 - best find. Ever.) And the washer door is open because someone was helping me with the shoot. (You'll find him below.)

 On the top shelf, since I can't reach it anyway, I have a selection of milk bottles; all clear glass. Middle shelf - a galvanized tub holding a couple of screwdrivers, the iron, a bug zapper (that's the yellow thing - it's fantastic!) and a few other household odds and ends. The basket on top of the dryer is the "out basket" and holds things to be dropped off here and there. The (seldom-used) ironing board is tucked in against the wall to the left of the dryer.
Don't I have the sweetest helper? He loves to watch the laundry spin, and to see his distorted reflection in the washer and dryer doors. He's so sweet.

So there! Welcome to my house. Hope you're having a great weekend!


4 tile

I had a fantastic thrifting experience today at Frenchy's, on my way home from work. I'm getting everything cleaned and scrubbed, and hopefully I'll post some pictures tomorrow. Four fantastic Pottery Barn items I'm especially pleased with. Tee-hee!

Speaking of Frenchy's, I picked up that sweet little '4' ceramic tile awhile back. I like it, but the number doesn't hold any special significance for me, and it doesn't really go with anything else in my house. Does the number 4 hold any special meaning for you? Leave a comment, and I just might pop it in the mail for you.

I've had a long and busy week, but fun. I'm tuckered out, but in a pleasant way, and I'm looking forward to a low-key weekend.

 This image totally made my day. And the one in the picture is from Abby Try Again.

Have a great weekend!


snow day

 Today was my first snow day since being back at work.The light is so nice when everything outside is white. These are the handy-dandy shelves in my porch, above the washer and dryer. I just thought they looked nice today.
Phillip and I kept busy. First, we made some ornaments for the birds to enjoy.  The recipe is here, on fabulous Amber's blog. I liked that I didn't have to use any coconut oil (too precious for soap) or shortening or lard (we never have either in the house) and also because of the greasy little fingerprints I can imagine being smeared all over everything if we were to use grease. Phillip was able to help with every step of the process, and he loved it.
We used silicone muffin pans, and birthday candles were the perfect size to make the holes with so that some twine would fit right through. (We couldn't find any straws, and I think these may be even better - no straws are wasted, the candles can still be used, they slide right out, and they make a great hole!)
It was too windy and wild to hang them out today, so maybe the birds will get their treat tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe, Amber! Have a peek over at her blog - she also made orange peel feeders, and pinecone ones, too!
*Edited to add the pictures from when we actually hung them up, a couple of days later*
We played Qubic.
 I had some soap sitting out, which I'll cut tomorrow.
I hope that you're cozy and snug if it's wintry where you are. Happy Wednesday!


do it for yourself

This is me in 1985, when I was four years old. (Gee, does someone look like his mother?) I was pretending to be Mary Bellows, from a show called "Do it for Yourself" which I loved. Looking back, there were a lot of things that I did as a kid that indicated what I would end up being like as an adult. I adored playing school (I'm now a teacher), and I wallpapered and decorated my room several times by the time I hit high school. I remember being really, really excited when a particular house which had been quite run-down was sold and completely renovated (I was in junior high and a friend of mine thought I was nuts because I wouldn't stop talking about it) and I had my own little flower garden (marigolds started from seed) when I was ten. Strangely enough, I wasn't particularly crafty, and I didn't really cook much. I say that, but I did make bagels and pasta when I was in high school. Neither of them were resounding successes, but it's all in the spirit of learning something new.

What did you like doing as a kid? Are you completely different than you were? Exactly the same? Somewhere in between? I'm curious.

Hope you're having a good start to your week. (At one point this morning, in the midst of some crazy work-busy-ness, I sighed and said "It's okay; it's Thursday." And then I realized that it's Monday. Sigh.)


welcome back!

Welcome back! I've been puttering away at tidying things up here on the blog this weekend. It wasn't even a New Year's resolution - it just felt like it was about time. If you're reading this through Google Reader or another feed, please take a second to click on over and have a peek. Let me know what you think!

Like this corner in my dining room, which always ends up looking sparse and minimal like this in January, a welcome reprieve from Christmas clutter, I wanted to tidy things up here on the blog with a new, simpler design. There's still a search bar, but now it's over there to the right, so you can look for a particular post or topic. I don't think I'll be tackling categorizing all of my posts in any other way, but I do think that I will start reposting the occasional old post - there are a lot of them!
There's a link over there to follow me on Twitter, too - and one of my tweets was published (in print!) in the February issue of Style at Home magazine! We still don't have the bathroom painted, but that's definitely the colour we'll go with.

While I'm in the mood, is there anything particular that is missing or that you'd like to see? I'll take all suggestions under advisement. 

Hope that you had a great weekend!


a wee bit of patience, please

My 2011 Fieryeyed calendar when it arrived, beautifully wrapped.

I'm going to be making some (hopefully) fun changes to the blog this weekend! Please be patient with me, and if things look totally wonky when you stop in to visit, I'm working on it. And if they look fantastic, good for me!

Have a great weekend!


january sun

I had a lovely day at work (which involves lots of driving), and managed to catch little snippets of my day by having my camera at hand. I'm glad I did - the sun was a show-off today.


frittata, 2011 & a bit of link love

Adam made this beautiful and delicious frittata, from the current issue of Everyday Food, tonight for supper. It is super tasty, and was pretty quick to put together. The salad is a bit of romaine with Martha's citrus vinaigrette. Super simple, quick, and delicious. A perfect dinner.

I think that 2011 will be full of good things; my 30th birthday is coming up in a couple of months, which is exciting (I'm thinking of getting a tattoo to celebrate!) and it just feels promising. I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions that I won't keep, but I am trying to approach things in a slightly different manner, most notably at work. I'm aiming for a more calm, thoughtful, and focused way of going about my days. In my job, there are always a thousand things on the go, I'm travelling here and there, and it's easy to get swept up in the chaos. This ends up with me being tensed up for most of the day, zipping from one thing to another, and rarely giving tasks the attention they need. Which inevitably results in more work later on, to catch and fix the things I missed. I'm going to give it some serious attention.

A few things around the internets I noticed today that I wanted to share.

Great seasonal veggies calendar. For free! (You can make a donation if you wish.) Perfect to proudly display in the kitchen and remind you of seasonal veggies to be gobbled up post-haste.

How to use peroxide. Tons of tips!

New favourite Etsy shop. Haven't ordered anything yet - too many choices! I especially love this one... I do have a big birthday coming up, after all.

Fantastic way to reuse tea boxes and organize ribbons at the same time!

Oh, and Pinterest! Have I mentioned it? If you love links to all sorts of fabulous images and stuff, it's the place to be. Have a peek. And a great week!


kitchen chalkboard and birch candles

Really, this is so simple, it's not even worth writing out a proper tutorial. Adam found me this frame at a local antiques shop. I LOVE it. Phillip had a chalkboard hanging around that was nearly impossible to write on with chalk. So I bought a small can of chalkboard paint ($10 at Home Hardware - it's hard to find in a can rather than an aerosol), cut the old board to fit, and painted it. Popped it in place and secured with a few finishing nails, and presto! Here is is.
My favourite part is Adam's smart way to affix it to the wall. To avoid wobbling around when written on, he affixed 3M Command Picture Hanging Strips to the top and bottom. (Nope, no one pays me.) Hasn't budged. Love it! Definitely one of the most used things in the kitchen.
As you may have guessed from the name of my super-small business, I have a thing for birch trees. To me, they are Canada, woodlands, gracefulness and beauty. I found these candles on sale last week ($3 each!), and my favourite part is that the candle is replaceable, so I can pop in my local beeswax beauties and enjoy them for ages. Especially on these long winter evenings.
Back to work tomorrow after a lovely break. Have a great first full week of 2011!