january 29 odds and ends

Thomas loves the moon, and we got this awesome print from Little Lark on Etsy for him for Christmas. He loves it, as do I. They have all sorts of gorgeous things.

Last weekend, we went snowshoeing for the first time! This snowy winter business is right up my alley. Our winters are often kind of half-hearted and we don't have snow that stays for very long. But this year, we've had plenty. Yarmouth Recreation loans out snowshoes free of charge, so we borrowed some last weekend and went for a walk in the woods. (742-8868 for you locals.) I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to put on, and at how light they are! And no problem at all to walk in. If the snow sticks around, we'll definitely borrow them again, and maybe buy some. Thomas' legs are still a bit short and he had some trouble keeping them apart, but Phillip flew right along on the trail and had a great time.

We've had a couple of house showings this week, and a pretty amazing midwinter potluck (over 50 people in the house!) on Sunday. I'm trying not to get my hopes up about the showings, but apparently some potential buyers really like it. My fingers are crossed. But if that doesn't work out, you can always buy it!

I found what is perhaps my favourite thrifted find, ever, at Frenchy's yesterday. I posted it on Instagram, and my plants just might be overwatered because I love it so much.

I'm going to make some oatcakes today.

And that is all for now. Happy Wednesday!


on the windowsill & exciting news

Last week's tips on surviving winter weren't that necessary here over the past week - it has been positively warm and spring-like. And wet, wet, wet.

We're working on some very exciting plans involving my favourite pollinators! Do any of you lovely readers keep bees? Have any super-newbie advice? There's a newly formed local beekeeping group having an initial meeting today, and I am soooooo excited. We have a vague plan which I'm hoping to firm up pretty quickly, and I think I've requested every book on beekeeping available from our library. I feel like it's such a great responsibility, and I want to do it right.

Oh, my. I just re-read that paragraph, and I can't believe it's really true.

With a start to the weekend that looked like this,  I think it's going to be a very good weekend indeed.


how to love winter (or at least help to make it tolerable)

I heard someone on the radio this afternoon talking about winter and how "we all hate winter!" Well, I disagree. I admit that it's a hassle to get everyone into their coats, boots, hats, mittens, and snowpants, and that slush is just really messy, and if you're not properly dressed or prepared, it can be unpleasant and miserable. But there are lots of things to love about winter, and I do a few little things to make it more enjoyable in our house that I thought might be helpful to share.

The best is if it's a pleasant winter day and we can dress really well and go shovelling, sledding, for a walk in the woods, outside in the yard, or just for a picture-taking stroll. The cold air is so refreshing, and it feels so good to come back inside. It keeps the boys' energy levels in check, and if there's snow, they're occupied for hours. (Thinking of the fresh air, you should hang your scarves out on the clothesline for the day. They will smell amazing.)

To address the darkness, we light candles. Always beeswax, some of which I've made, and some which a friend made for us. We light them for candlelight while we eat supper, and I usually have one burning on the stovetop for the evening.

Everyone (myself included) finds it easiest to hunker down inside during the winter, which might mean seeing less of friends and people you genuinely like. So a few years ago, we instituted a midwinter potluck which we host at the end of January. Everyone seems to enjoy having something to look forward to at this time of year, and it's a great way to see everyone, and try some new foods, if you're lucky. It's really one of my favourite days of the year!

Baking serves to warm the house, make it smell amazing, and provides delicious snacks. (And I find it soooo relaxing.) My Dad loves his white bread - this was a batch I made for him before Christmas.

We have a wood stove, and having a fire burning is just so darn cozy. And it warms the house with the most pleasant heat. (If you don't have a wood stove, see the candle suggestion.) That antique trunk is our woodbox. I found it at a yard sale for $5 several years ago, lucky me! Adam usually keeps the fire up and running, since I'm at work during the day, and he keeps the wood box full. Which I appreciate very much.

A couple other little things that I find helpful during these cold months: taking fish oil capsules helps my finicky skin immensely during the winter. I also find I need to exfoliate regularly - you can make a lovely scrub easily and inexpensively. I love using my LuSa Organics lavender lotion bar at night (no one paid me to write that - I just love it!). It's a lovely scent to fall asleep to.

I hope that one of these tips will make your winter a little bit more pleasant!

Edited to add: I can't believe that I forgot the thing that I do every winter to make the last several weeks cheery and to remind me that spring will come again! I always force bulbs and branches. Quince are my favourite! It couldn't be any easier - just stick branches in water. Really! Go forth and enjoy!


a post for my niece

This adorable little girl is named Freyja, and she's my niece. Apparently, she's also one of my blog's biggest fans. (She memorizes excerpts. Now that's dedication!) I promised her that I would post some pictures, so here's my fulfilled promise. She came to visit us in December, and had lots of fun playing with Phillip and Thomas.

We loved having you visit, Freyja! I remember that we had lots of snow to play in, and had a fun time running around by the ponds at Grand-mère and Bompie's house, even though it was very cold. Can you see Thomas hiding? And what did you think of the snow on your mitten? Was it tasty?
Uncle Adam, Phillip, and Thomas made a snow tunnel in our back yard! I think that was before you arrived. Do you think we can make a snow tunnel when we see you in the summer? I don't know... maybe swimming would be a better idea!
Do you remember our walk in the woods on Boxing Day? We saw all kinds of different tracks in the snow. And Phillip and Thomas were hanging upside down on the picnic table at the camp! They're so silly.

Here you are, walking with Mommy on the path!

It was so nice to see you, and I know the boys had fun, too. Maybe we'll talk soon on Skype! Love you lots!

Auntie Sherrie


a new year replete with houseplants

Happy New Year, friends! We had a lovely holiday with lots of visiting with family and friends, and we're back to the regular routine tomorrow. As much as I love the chaos and clutter of the holidays, I adore the cleanup and settling into a new year that comes afterward. A lot. I've been cleaning and organizing and purging (even moreso than usual, so thanks for putting up with it, Adam) and the vacuum is tired out.

The sun made a very welcome appearance this morning, so I started taking a few pictures around the house. And I noticed that I seem to have accumulated several plants over the years, all of which I love and have somehow managed to survive. Since this is the sort of thing I would love to read about on someone else's blog, here we go - a history of the plants in my house. I love having plants around. They give a sense of life to a home, and I enjoy having something to nurture. They also filter the air, which is just kind of awesome. I've certainly managed to kill my fair share, but these are my standbys.

Above are some paperwhite bulbs I'm forcing in a south window. I do this every year after Christmas, for a few reasons. First, it's when they're on clearance, and second, it's just so nice to have something to look forward to to get through the depths of winter. And what better than flowers? A quick disclaimer: the flowers kind of smell like cat pee. But they're so pretty.  I'm also forcing a red lion amaryllis this year. In the past, I seem to have had mixed luck. One nutty year, I had a bazillion double blooms on several plants; others, I've had only duds. This one has two stems already started, it's firm and heavy, so I'm hopeful. (Always check the bulb inside the box before you buy it; sometimes they're dried up, moldy, or showing no signs of growth.) It's also great for teaching kids about plants, growth, measurement, and responsibility. Now is the perfect time to pick them up if you see them at the grocery store! Hyacinth bulbs are often available, too, but I've had more failures than successes with those. If you choose one that's already started, you'll have a better chance.

This is a plant I don't know the name of, but it has a great story. (It seems like some kind of jade, but the leaves aren't thick like that.) My maternal grandmother always had plants in her house, and she had one of these by her living room window. After she died, well over ten years ago, I took a leaf and plunked it in water, hoping that it might root. It took ages, but somehow it finally did, and this is the result. I can't seem to kill it no matter how much I neglect it, so I highly recommend it. It does well in low light and brighter light, too, and likes a regular good watering.
I'm still trying to figure out the care for this one - it's an asparagus fern which I picked up at a garden centre last summer. I repotted it not long ago, and all of a sudden it started exploding with all those crazy long fronds! It looks a little scraggly with the clump in the middle, and it seems to have some aphid companions I'm trying to control, but I love how I imagine it looking someday. It also likes a good regular watering.
 This beautiful lipstick plant was a gift (thanks, Debbie!) and I have it on a shelf in the porch where it gets south and west light. I can't seem to keep the darn thing happy for long - right now it's content and the leaves are glossy, but I can't seem to get it to bloom. Which is fine, because I love the foliage on its own, but also means that I can't give you any help on how to treat them.
 In Thomas' room, there's a little ivy. Can't kill it - it's great. Next to an awesome owl I found at Value Village, which hasn't yet been hung.
In the kitchen, I have one of three Christmas cactuses (I kind of ignore them a lot, and they seem happy about it) and a hoya plant, also given to me by Debbie. (Thank you! It's doing great!) When I was a kid, my mom's best friend had a massive hoya plant on her piano. The blooms are beautiful star shaped clusters, with a tiny dot of nectar at the base of each, and they smell incredible. She died when I was 15, and I think of her every time I see one.
I have an aloe vera plant in the pantry, which we use for cuts, scrapes, and the like. I like these little ones, since it's tidier to take a little bit when needed. Just pinch off a tip, squeeze out the gel, and apply it where needed. It's soothing and healing, and I wouldn't be without one.

There you have it. Who knew I had so many in the house? If you have any of the same plants and can give me tips or correct names, I'm happy to hear them!

I hope your new year is off to a good start.