a good mail day

 While I was out running errands this morning, a package arrived. Not just any package, but a package of goodies from Amber! I'm absolutely the sort of person who dives right in with complete disregard for wrapping paper and other formalities, but I made myself take a picture of the cute little bundles she sent before I tore into them.

 She made me an apron. A beautiful, perfect, lovely apron, with pockets. And ties. And two layers on the bottom part. I love it. (Oh, see our hutch in the background? Full of our craft supplies (mostly P's.) And the sunflowers that blew down and I'm hoping will open. And other miscellaneous life, strewn about the house!)
She also sent me a candle that she made, a needle felted tomato that Thomas particularly loves (said to bring prosperity and good luck) and a rhubarb print that she stamped. And the round thing is a dutch disk thing to hang on the shed, representing prosperity and fertility (go, garden!). I asked Amber about it when I saw it on her shed in one of her posts. I love everything - thank you so much, Amber! I also just noticed that everything has a little bit of red. So does my house - I think you know me better than I thought, Amber!

And just in case you were jonesing for a couple pictures of the boys:

Thomas does this every time we say 'strong'. Usually until he turns red in the face. He loves it.

And Phillip barely made it into the house before diving into his new library books. Look what he's doing with his hand. On the way home in the car, he said (completely out of the blue) "Mama, I love you more than anything in the world." I love that kid.


dorothy and rachel

We had a really good day. Dorothy and Rachel (the lady goats), hens, a lovely visit, and popsicles. Not to mention seeing friends at the market this morning. I couldn't ask for more.

plum jam

The plum jam is delicious. Something magical happens to plums when they're cooked - they get this amazing depth of flavour and earthy, wonderful deliciousness. A spiced plum butter is my favourite thing that I preserved last year, so I made sure to try some jam this year. And some spiced pear butter (same recipe, different fruit) is going to be put up, too.

*Edited to add: there's a free download of those cute labels, in several different designs and colours, here.

I haven't gotten to the fruit leather yet - my other plums are still very, very firm, so I have a few days to get that experiment going.

I return to work next week, and I think I'm ready for it. We have the most beautiful Septembers, and I get to travel in our little neck of the woods quite a bit, which I enjoy. Speaking of which, I'm looking for some new music to listen to while driving around - any suggestions?

If you're in Irene's path, I hope that you're prepared and safe to ride out the weekend.

Take care, and have a safe weekend!



 Adam is home! I've had the boys all to myself since Friday. I will admit that there was a bit of trepidation on my part, but you know what? Things went pretty perfectly. We had calm, relaxing days together, with some beach and lots of playing thrown in. And not a single screaming, throwing-himself-on-the-floor tantrum from Phillip. There were lots of 'no's and not cooperating, but nothing major.

And look what Adam brought home for me! Some new Weck jars for me (because a girl can never have too many jars, right, Marisa?) in the 3/4 L size, and tonnes of plums that he picked up in the valley this afternoon. He bought a giant bag of seconds, which I'm going to turn into fruit leather and plum jam (anyone have a great reicpe?) post-haste. The jars are from the very nice Sydney at The Jade W in Halifax, and you can also order them online. It totally made my day that there is also a strawberry logo on the side. Sigh! What a lovely husband!

I hope that your Wednesday has been pleasant. You can expect to see some plum jam and fruit leather pictures soon. What have you been putting up?

Oh, and one more thing, if you want to buy a house - ours has a new price (jars not included).


pickles and more food

I am ridiculously proud of myself for making my very first dill pickles last night. Last summer, I made a batch of bread and butter pickles, which were fine, but it turns out that we don't really love them. Through the winter and spring, though, I noticed that there was almost always a jar of dill pickles in the fridge. I planted a few dill plants in the spring, with vague plans that I might maybe make some. A few months ago, I found a box of large Ball jars at Frenchy's. I took it as a sign, bought my other supplies, and and picked up seven pounds of pickling cukes at the Argyle market last night. In case you're not a pickler or jammer, these are way easier than jam (not that jam is all that difficult), but there is a fair bit of prep work, scrubbing the cucumbers and such. Along with all of the other sterilizing and processing business. Totally worth it, to me.

This morning, P and I went to a fantastic berry picking spot with some great friends (Hi, G's!) and had a wonderful time staining our hands and filling our - well, my - bucket. Mostly with wild blueberries. There is nothing like them. That spot is covered in blackberries, too, and we have plans to go back and stock up when they're ripe. I see jelly in my future. This time of year makes me a) very thankful that we live where we do and b) very regular.

Speaking of which, tonight, we had some really delicious corn on the cob. It was sweet and juicy, and the boys wolfed theirs down. Phillip looked especially like a cartoon character, going around and around the cob. And Thomas took his empty cob (which I had cut the kernels from - it's tricky when you only have six teeth) and used it to play peek-a-boo. So cute, they are. And if a certain one of them says 'No' to me once more today, I just might lose it. Sometimes I'm at a loss with him - he knows exactly what I just told him not to do, and he goes and does it. And he has a detailed explanation for why. Which I explain isn't the point. Something no other mother in history has ever dealt with, I'm sure. Yargh.

I have plans for a perfect evening once he stops coming down for a band-aid, water, more water, to tell me something, or to have a hangnail clipped. I'll be wrapping some soap, reading, having tea, and maybe an episode or two of Mad Men. The dresses! I love the dresses in that show.

Happy Friday! Have a lovely weekend.



My aunt and uncle have an organic blueberry farm, and we have been eating boxes of their gorgeous berries this week, and freezing lots for the winter. They also have chickens, and two new goats that I am planning on taking the boys to meet, very soon. Goat pictures, people! I adore goats. They have the sweetest faces! If I know you in person, I've probably told you of my plans to eventually get a couple of lady goats (I even have their names picked out) and to make goat's milk soaps. I don't know how soon I'll have my own goats, but I'm very excited to meet theirs!

And our hydrangeas are still blooming. Happy Tuesday!



There's not many things that I appreciate more than the fleeting season of August's market finds. Happy Sunday!


summer reading and rhythm

I've been trying to read a lot this summer, since that seems to be the determining factor of whether or not I feel as though I've had a relaxing vacation. I just finished reading Simplicity Parenting after reading about it on Rachel Wolf's blog, Clean. Rachel's business is LuSa Organics, making lovely, natural, handcrafted body care (more about that in a minute). Pretty much everything in Simplicity Parenting is what we work hard around here to live by. It was one of those books that reinforced what we believe and how we try our best to parent the boys, which is always nice. There were some new-to-me ideas in it, too, and it's full of practical, hands-on kind of stuff.  One of the main themes is rhythm and its importance in giving kids a solid base to 'go forth' from, and how that impacts everything in the long run, from academics to interpersonal skills. I won't go on any more about the book specifically, other than to say that if you have kids (particularly small ones) it's absolutely worth reading. There's also a fantastic Simplicity Parenting website with a blog and all kinds of great stuff. Great stuff, I tell you - go check it out.

So, I've been thinking a lot about rhythm, and of a bunch of things to share with you. Guaranteed, I'm going to forget some and mention them in the comments or in another post. I'm also planning ahead a bit for the changes that will come to our house when I go back to work in September and Phillip starts at pre-primary. I think that rhythm will absolutely be more important than ever, so I'm starting to build some things into our days now that will hopefully carry us smoothly through September. If this is piquing your interest, here you go:

Rhythm of the Home.  Poke around here for a little while to find tonnes of inspiration, ideas, craft-y things, and on and on.

Rachel's recent post on rhythms at her home and her enthusiasm about the rhythms they've been working on fits right in with all that I've been thinking and reading about, and Amanda Soule's new book came out this week and it's all about - you guessed it - rhythm! For routines specifically tailored to mealtimes, I've also been reading The Family Dinner, and there are lots of good ideas and suggestions in there, too. From recipes and setting the table tips to suggested rules to abide by (no answering phones, everyone stays at the table, etc.)

Bringing things back around to Rachel, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway over at her blog, (the canning and preserving she's been doing have me in awe this summer!) and I am thoroughly enjoying all of the goodies I received. You may remember that I've sung the praises of her Baby Wipe Juice before - I love the stuff - but this time, I got to choose things for me! The Lavender Lotion Bar is superb, and I also really, really love the essential oil roll-on. I chose Energizing (Like I need that! I should have chosen something mellow) and it's great. Because it's essential oils, of course, it doesn't last in the way that a synthetic perfume does. It is lovely and natural and I don't mind rolling it on through the day at all. Thank you so, so much, Rachel, for the goodies and the inspiration that your blog provides!

And I wish you all a lovely weekend!


good morning! welcome to p's art gallery

I'm enjoying some quiet time to myself until Thomas wakes up this morning, while Phillip is at the Waterfront Gallery with Adam, 'helping out'. In preparation, they made Phillip's own art gallery out of our dining room yesterday. It's full of red dots! Regular drawings are $5 (pretend money is acceptable) and commissioned pieces are $8. So far, all of his pieces are called "insert colour name here" swirly-whirly. And there are many, many more than I've documented. Fun!

A couple of other things I thought you might like:

Free, cute, vintage-style canning labels that you can print! You just need the sheets of printable label paper. I've printed a bunch and will be dressing up my goodies this canning season.

Gorgeous beach pictures. I am seriously considering that tattoo. I've been thinking about getting one for awhile, but I want to make sure I get something that I won't get tired of. My other option is for something tree-y, vine-y, or nature-y in some way with the boys' names or birthdates or something.  Any suggestions?

I'm off to enjoy a hot cup of tea and a bit of reading.  I hope you're having a lovely day, too.


thrifty (another rambly one!) and the best baked beans

This post contains pictures I took on my little point-and-shoot, and I found some pictures and videos that Phillip took on the card. This is one of them. Is he his Mama's boy or what?

On to the thrifting. I walked downtown to a physio appointment yesterday, and the Salvation Army thrift store is right on the way. I had a few minutes to spare, so I thought I would pop in. I don't usually shop  there, but I do donate lots of things. While dropping off bags of stuff last week, though, a pitcher caught my eye, and ever since I've been wondering what other dish treasures there might be, just waiting for me. I'm particularly looking for a great platter and a new pottery teapot, in case you're wondering. (Reason for the physio: my foot hasn't been cooperating since I slipped and twisted it at the end of June. My running has been compromised, but I'm doing as I'm told and doing a walk / run routine. I'd rather treat it gently and let is heal properly than have it get worse and be a much bigger problem!)

I found this hilarious fabric. I laid it out on the floor to take a picture, and P *had* to stand on it. It says 'calories' in the grey background letters, and next to each one of those adorable illustrated foods is a number. You guessed it - the calorie count for each of those foods. Part of the reason I find this so funny is that I have never counted a calorie in my life. And the illustrations are so cute!

I may make a market tote out of it. Ah, 1952.

I also found the adorable fabric below. We know lots of little girls, and which of them wouldn't like something made from this? It totally reminds me of my sister (maybe because she had a Strawberry Shortcake quilt on her bed when we were kids?) so let me know if you want it, Marla, and I can make something for you, too.

And Phillip wanted to help model another Le Parfait jar that I found.

Can someone tell me if this is a heat lamp? It has a clip on it, it works, and I think it will be a great industrial-looking reading light if it won't light anyone on fire. It does get pretty warm, even with the regular light bulb that someone left in it, so it might have to wait until we have some chicks. Or until we don't have little boys in the house.

And lastly, this has nothing to do with thrifting. Well, I guess it loosely could - my lovely mother-in-law bought me a set of three Paderno mixing bowls at some kind of crazy super sale they had. They are now my go-to bowls, as evidenced in nearly every kitchen picture I've posted lately.

This isn't a particularly summer-y recipe, but it's what's in the slow cooker right now. I am not a huge fan of baked beans. They're okay, and I'll eat them for one meal (I really prefer the butter on fresh brown bread!) but Adam loves them. I do love putting them in a bowl to soak, and smelling them in the slow cooker all day, though. Adam's mother has the simplest and tastiest recipe that I make, and even though it's not as revolutionary as the oats, here it is:

Roxanne's Slow-Cooker Beans

1 pound dried beans (the ones I'm making today are Nova Scotian!)

In a bowl, cover beans with plenty of water overnight. In the morning, drain, cover well with water in a pot, and boil for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until you're done breakfast. (Until skins split when you blow on them and the beans are tender.)

Drain again, and place beans in the slow cooker along with 1/2 cup brown sugar, pepper, 1 tbsp mustard powder, a pinch of salt, and water to cover. Turn the cooker on low and let it go for as long as you need. A few minutes before serving, add about a cup of molasses, stir well, and, of course, serve with fresh brown bread and plenty of butter. Enjoy!


an interruption to the usual...

For a 'moose hug'. Thomas does this (almost always at meals) and waits expectantly (see that look on his face?) until someone comes along and 'locks horns' with his and gives him ridiculous, sloppy moose kisses.

Back to your day!


this one's all over the place (including a steel-cut oats recipe!)

Eeek! Marisa posted one of my jam pictures on her fabulous blog, Food in Jars. I know I've mentioned it before - it's a good one. Thanks, Marisa, and welcome to any new readers if that's what brought you here! Grab your tea, and say hi!

This beluga / mariachi combination made all of us smile this morning.

Shopping at thrift stores. Great post, and a gorgeous image.

A few other tidbits from the home front:

Kitchen fail! Last week, I mentioned that I saw instructions for making ricotta from whey. I tried it yesterday, and all that happened was that the whey boiled, making the kitchen smell like baby spit-up, and then cooled, leaving.... whey. Before making it, I couldn't figure out how it would work because the milk solids had all been turned to yogourt, but there are a lot of things I don't know, so I thought that some kind of magic might happen with a second heating. No such luck! What else can I do with whey left over from making yogourt?

On the neverending quest for a more natural dishwasher detergent that works, I have found something that I really, really like, although I don't know how 'green' it really is. It's President's Choice Green Phosphate Free Dishwasher Detergent, in the little packets. I bought it on sale for $10.99 for 44 packets, which is admittedly still pricey, especially compared to making your own. But it works much better. Of course it's phosphate free - if I remember correctly, somewhere around 1992 phosphates were banned. And there is no ingredient list on the package, so I don't know what all of the other ingredients are in it. But I love that there's no chlorine in it, and that it has no scent.

And some kitchen success. Steel-cut oats. I made them in the slow cooker overnight awhile back, which was good, but a little fussy. I came across the following recipe somewhere a couple of weeks ago, and I've made it three times since. It could not be easier. Really. Phillip will be starting pre-primary in a few weeks, and I'm thinking ahead of ways to make our days a little more routine and simpler. (More about that soon.) I think that this will be made at least a couple of times a week.

Laziest Steel-Cut Oats in the World
In the evening, put 1 cup of steel cut oats in a bowl with 2 cups of water. Cover and tuck in the fridge overnight. In the morning, plunk the uncovered bowl in the microwave for 5 minutes, and you're done. Done! Add milk, fruit, whatever you like. Yum.

**Edited to add: this makes exactly enough for the four of us. That's about as specific as I can be about the final amount, but I'm sure it would work in any volume as long as the ratio stayed the same. Also, it can be refrigerated after cooking, for up to a week. And if it ends up soaking in the fridge for longer than overnight (say, two overnights), that's fine, too. Enjoy!**

The light was gorgeous the other evening when Phillip and I picked more raspberries. We've been picking about a litre a day from the backyard. Happy Monday!


phillip's pictures (a guest post by phillip, with permission this time)

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Rock who?
Rock thank you very much!

annapolis royal historic gardens

I borrowed my mother-in-law's camera to take a few pictures while we were at the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens last week, mostly of an Acadian-style thatched roof cottage in the garden. It is absolutely worth a visit - the gardens are beautifully maintained, everything is lush and gorgeous (and labelled!), and it's nice and shady on a hot summer day. And that cottage? My new house inspiration. I'm only half joking.

Happy Saturday!