happy new year

I took a picture of the beautiful frost on the window this morning to share with you. To me, the colours, the light, and the sparkle all look very reminiscent of New Year's decorations and party dresses. Frost patterns are some of my favourites of Nature's patterns. Along with leaf veins, sand ripples, seashell spirals, snowflakes, pine cone ridges... okay, so there are many.

I'm taking a wee moment in the midst of a relaxing and fun holiday to wish you the very best of new years. I hope that 2013 begins (and continues) with you feeling hopeful, inspired, content, and grateful.

Take care, and I'll see you in 2013!


last minute Christmas making

There's been all kinds of last minute making of gifts going on at our house over the past couple of days. The boys made some birdseed ornaments to hang outside, and some extras to give to friends.

I made some spoon oil for gifts (and a little bit to keep!)
And some lavender sachets, and some rose petal ones, using the rose petals I dried this summer. The colour has faded, but the scent is still lovely.

 I also made these cocoa butter lotion bars, with a touch of peppermint for a chocolate mint experience. They're so smooth and lovely!
 And, of course, some little soaps. I posted this picture a few days ago, but it's worth a repost.

It snowed the night before last, and as soon as Thomas saw it, he started making plans. "I need to shovel the street! I need to shovel! I need to shovel! Can I go outside? Can I go outside?" So he and Adam went out for a bit, and his sweet little cheeks were rosy for quite awhile after they came in.

Merry Christmas Eve!

(P.S. Most of these things take very little time to make, so if you're in a pinch and realize you forgot something, there's still a wee bit of time!)


around the house

I think that things are ready for Christmas in our little house. The last purchased gifts arrived in today's mail (phew!) and I just have a few fun little things left to make. We have a handful of cards left to deliver, which we'll probably do over the weekend when we go for a drive to see the lights and decorations. The last grocery trip was done today, and I don't think we have any remaining commitments, other than hanging out, playing, and eating well. It sounds good to me - I feel like I need a break from the regular routine.

Phillip has been writing up a storm lately. He's spelling everything out loud (seldom making mistakes) and loves to copy. I love finding his little notes around the house.

I hope that you have a peaceful, relaxing weekend with the ones you love.


me, too

I've been avoiding the news lately, because mine is, too. (He was writing about something else entirely, and doesn't know what happened.)



When I see an unusual fruit at the grocery store, I'll sometimes bring it home, for several reasons. First, I have an insatiable curiosity about everything. Second, it's a great way to expose the boys to new foods and tastes, and third, we can also learn about where it comes from and how it's prepared.
I hadn't noticed tamarillos until last week, and they are just so pretty, I couldn't help myself. So I bought two. I must say, though, the flavour is... well...

"Terrible." Phillip just came in, read what I was typing, and finished the sentence for me.
Maybe these weren't quite ripe? I tried adding a bit of sugar, but that really didn't help. They're tannic and bitter, and I couldn't find a way to make it tasty. I have one left, so I'm hoping that someone (Teresa? Mad? Anyone?) may be familiar with them and offer up a way to prepare the last one.

Even if I can't find a way to eat them, they're so very pretty. Still worth the purchase!


shiny things

Since the boys have joined our lives, Christmas decorating has been reduced drastically in time spent, scope, and effort. Which is not a bad thing - I kind of love how it happens gradually, bit by bit as time presents itself, and the boys love every shiny little thing. And so do I!

They decorated the tree almost entirely on their own this year. It's lopsided and ornaments are clumped on in little piles on the lower branches. And it's perfect.


cookies with P

An adorable someone helped me to make a batch of Snickerdoodles today. (He always sticks his tongue out like that when he's concentrating. I love it.) They're my favourite cookie for a few reasons: 1) they're delicious 2) they're super quick and easy to make 3) you probably have everything necessary to make them in your kitchen right now.

The recipe I use is a Martha one; you can find it here.
If you're looking for some other delicious, easy cookies to make and share, you might want to try one of these recipes:

Cranberry Shortbreads. Always a huge hit.

Pecan Logs. Pecans. Icing sugar. Butter. Yum.

Thumbprint Cookies. A handy way to use up some of the jam or jelly in your cupboard! Kids seem to especially love these ones.

Speaking of cookies, here's a beautiful video that Adam made of Phillip making Valentine's cookies, when he was three. So cute! (You'll see that he was sticking out his tongue then, too.)

May there be cookies in your weekend plans!


Atwood's Brook

The skies have seemed extra beautiful lately. This is where I sat and had my lunch (in the car) today - unusually, the water was calm and clear, and the light was evening-like.

I hope you have some moments like this over the weekend.



In my job as an itinerant teacher of students with visual impairments (I know - it's the best job!) I get to travel all over this end of my beautiful province. And recently, I've needed to take a ferry (!) to visit a student. The ride only lasts a few minutes, but it's lovely. One day, I'm going to take my camera and squeeze in a few minutes for some more scenic pictures. In the meantime, these are ones I took last week.

We're going to get our Christmas tree this afternoon, and the boys are very excited. We've started their advent calendars (nothing wrong with chocolate before breakfast!), and I found an advent candle from Natural in Japan's shop that we love.

The boys just arrived home after a little walk, and the oven's beeping - oatcakes are coming out post haste. Hope you're having a lovely Sunday.


morning snack

It's a beautiful, warm Saturday in our neck of the woods - warm enough to comfortably have a morning snack outdoors. It's currently 12 degrees, with our town Christmas parade to look forward to this evening.
The weather has been so warm, it feels more like late summer than late fall. It's definitely enjoyable, but I haven't really taken time to settle in to many Christmas preparations - it still feels so far off, even though the calendar is telling me otherwise. I bought some cedar branches at the market this morning, so perhaps once I get some planters filled, and the weather cools off tonight, I'll be more excited about it. In the meantime, I'm loving all of the leaves in the yard, and the beautiful browns and yellows and oranges outside.

Have a lovely weekend!


wish list / gift guide

Thanks to Katie for sending these my way! I love having them in the house, and it was so sweet of you to think of me!

I love and appreciate beautiful, useful things, and good design. While I certainly don't love the materialism associated with Christmas, I do love making and buying special gifts for people. (In fact, I love that all year.)  Bearing those things in mind, I've seen some lovely things lately, many of which are handmade by small businesses that I think are just the bees knees. They're also things that I would love to receive for Christmas, and wanted to share a gift guide of sorts. If you and I have similar taste, just recommend this post as a not-so-subtle hint to someone who may be giving you a gift. Or you might like to buy something for someone else! (Or yourself.)

Here goes!

Camille from Red Onion Woodworks and Wayward Spark makes the most gorgeous natural edge cheese and cutting boards. They're available through her Etsy shop. Go to her blog and there's a 10% off coupon code!

This card had me giggling.

This would be a perfect stocking stuffer - a flower frog I could use with any of my many regular-mouth jars!

Balsamic vinegar spiked with elderberries and figs - yum!

I've been longing to try some Mast Brothers chocolate. (Have you seen their beards? Chocolate + handsome bearded brothers making beautiful things in their gorgeous storefront by hand and with love? Each bar is even hand-wrapped. Yes, please!)

This spatula looks just perfect in every way.

I have a wee bit of soap money saved up, and I don't know how much longer I can resist investing in this amazing scarf.

Or I could save up towards this gorgeous bag, which I would probably use every day. Oh my, it's beautiful.

Okay, I think that's enough for tonight. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you American folks! Hope you're enjoying a wonderful long weekend.

*Just so you know, no one asked me to post any of these things, or compensated me in any way!



Happy Wednesday! (Yesterday I was convinced that it was Wednesday, and today I've been certain it's Tuesday.)

I took these yesterday as I took a quick break for tea after a long drive before seeing a student. Nice break, eh?

In totally unrelated news, (and this may (or may not) seem out of character, because I don't usually address the topic here) I've really been enjoying Caitlin Doughty's videos, tweets, and posts lately. I heard her on Q a couple of weeks ago (you can listen to the full show, here), and she's just a lovely, articulate person that I respect. Oh, and she's also a mortician - death is what her videos are about. I've always had a rather matter-of-fact view about death, and I think it's at least partly because I attended funerals as a child, accompanied my Dad to collect the deer he hunted and watch in the garage as he skinned them, and then we ate them. Somewhat related: when I was in third grade, a boy in my class skinned a rabbit for show-and-tell. And I didn't think this was out of the ordinary until much, much later. (I, on the other hand, made Dream Whip for the class. A sign of things to come?)

It just seems so sensible to me that the way to truly appreciate life is by embracing death as  inevitable. That's what makes living so amazing - we've been given this beautiful opportunity to spend some time here with all of the other particular humans who are on the planet at the same time.

*Edited to add a comment I left below: Re: death; I couldn't agree more about the thought of losing children (or anyone close, really.) Like every mother, I'm sure, it's my worst-case scenario, and I can't imagine (and don't want to) what it would be like. I realize that writing one sentence and trying to sum up my thoughts on the subject of death is a little bit silly, and maybe I should have waited until I had time and words to write a full, proper post. Anyway, I'll try to explain a tiny bit more, just so it doesn't sound like I rejoice in the idea of losing someone, because that's not the case at all. Rather, I was speaking in very broad strokes about the larger idea of death, and how it's viewed in our culture; the way that death is usually treated as something not to be talked about, to be whisked away and hidden from 'regular' people and avoided at all costs. I think that there is a place to speak thoughtfully and realistically about death. None of which I stated explicitly in the original post, and I probably should have. (And now I have to run out the door to take Phillip to the bus. I hope that makes sense!) 


more quince jelly

I made my quince jelly on the weekend. Isn't it magical that this adorable greenish-yellow, inedible-when-raw fruit turns into that amazing, vibrant red, delicious jelly?



Currently simmering away, to drip overnight and jelly-fy tomorrow.

Thomas walked into the doctor’s waiting room this afternoon and yelled to all those waiting, “Hey! We’re here to visit you guys!”



I'm feeling inspired and optimistic today. As if I'm on the edge of something exciting and new, but I just don't know exactly what yet. I love that feeling. And you know what? The feeling itself still has value, whether or not it has tangible results.

Do you like my new header? Those are alder catkins (how's that for the cutest name, ever?) that I scavenged on a walk earlier in the week. Coincidentally, the red berry picture was from the same date, November 13, in 2011. I'm really pleased with both of them.

Thinking of things scavenged, I drove around for part of my work day with a bag of quince in the back seat - what a privilege! I saw the tree yesterday, but it wasn't really clear whose property it was on, it was raining, and I really didn't have time to stop. I knew I would be on my way by again today, so I packed a grocery bag with me, asked a very surprised looking man if the tree was his and if he would mind if I picked some, and filled up the bag.

So on the weekend, once again I'll be making quince jelly. The result is beautiful, and for me, it's a very relaxing process. I'm also hoping to save some of the seeds and see if I can grow something viable.

Happy Thursday!


canadian living, december edition

I was so excited about this that I posted it right away on Twitter and Instagram, but neglected to do a proper post here for you! I'm super excited to share that my beeswax star ornaments, which I first posted here on the blog last December, are featured in this December's issue of Canadian Living magazine!

You can pick up Canadian Living at just about any newsstand or grocery store (here in Canada), and this issue is a mere $3.99. I have at least five other projects marked to return to - it's a very good issue, and well worth the (small) investment. I'm on page 129!

*in a whisper* I *may* have been listening to a little bit of Christmas music already! Only six weeks to go, you know. Songza has a great Christmas Jazz playlist that I love.


alphabet soup

"Come with me! Come with me! I want to play Alphabet Soup with you!"

The in-laws are here, and we've had a fantastic weekend. The boys are in their glory, and have been calling everyone into the living room (hands extended) to play 'Alphabet Soup', a game that Phillip made up. It involves everyone taking their places, and switching spots when names are called. It's so cute.

And tomorrow, back to the usual routine.


so, so, so, so happy it's friday!

I first posted this recipe last fall, but it is definitely worth a re-post. It's a delicious, moist, perfect fall cake. With a blop of whipped cream, it's the ideal comforting dessert. You can find the original post here. Let me know how you like it!

We have company coming this weekend, and the boys are very excited. It's the grandparents from away, which also means that Adam and I will get to sleep in. YES!

I often find that by the time I sit down to write a post, it's the end of the day and I'm not feeling up to getting really into it, you know? Delving into all of the ins and outs of life. This little blog of mine tends to be a lighter space, which is just fine. But I do want to share a podcast that I've been really enjoying, and I think you might, too. It's Erin Goodman's Behind the Blog, and she chats with different women from around the internets about their businesses, families and lives. I listened to her most recent one with Eileen from Little Acorn Learning yesterday, and really, really enjoyed it. They chat (amongst other things) about the state of education and making decisions that fit for their family, even if it's not what they'd always dreamed of... it's real life.

While I'm sleeping in this weekend, I hope that you're having a lovely time doing things that you enjoy. And now, I'm off to work. Happy Friday!


pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

I was genuinely surprised when I used the search bar on my blog (it's right up there on the top left of your screen, if you're reading this directly and not through a blog reader) to find this recipe to link to, and I found that I have never posted it! So now's the time. I've been making these for years, and they are right up there with Snickerdoodles on my 'favourite cookies' list.

These are soft, perfect cookies. My Mom used to send squash and chocolate chip cookies to school with me, and they're very similar. They're not super sweet, despite both the amount of sugar and the chocolate chips. Oh, and you'll probably have to restrain yourself - they're the kind of cookies that you can eat 6 of, easily.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour (you can do half and half with whole wheat, if you're feeling virtuous)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I like semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix pumpkin, sugar, melted butter, and egg. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in another bowl, then add to wet ingredients. When it's beautiful and uniform, fold in chocolate chips.

Plop by the spoonful onto greased baking sheets (or not, if you're lazy - they usually come off just fine). The length of time in the oven will depend on the size of the cookie - I like generous ones, and they take about 14-15 minutes. You know they're done when they're light brown, and firm-ish when you press the middle.

Bonus: your house will smell AMAZING! These freeze well, too - I usually freeze them baked, then they can thaw in a snack bag or lunch box. Enjoy!



A couple from yesterday. (No, the living room walls aren't really that colour. But look at T's cute little legs!)



The sun peeked out after Sandy's amazing thunder and lightning display, just in time for trick-or-treating.