Monthly Archives: April 2009
Enter into the mouth of the woods
Sit quietly amongst the trees
Draw from the deep roots
Listen to wisdom of feathered ferns
Let us hang chandeliers in the low branches
Lay quilts in the swaying fields
Eat plates heaped with wisdom
Drink goblets of cider
Wind weaved hair
Toes dipped in pooled sunlight
I am wise
May 29th, 2006
Anticipation and hasty bare feet
Young buds burst and flaunt their wings in a sultry dance
Puddles to jump in, mud to squish
Birds return and animals awaken
Frost and ice linger stubbornly
Daffodil faces laugh at the sun
Windows snap open
Life rushes in.
Sometimes we need to let go in order to grow. Whether it be old habits, stagnant relationships, warn out shoes, unhealthy friendships, or your high school jeans, most of us come to a moment in which we decide we are worth more than what these things can offer us. Letting go can be scary, but I remember my first and only breakup as one of the best decisions I ever was a part of. It scared me at the time due to the simple fact that my future had been tied to this person for five years; every direction of my life spun off of the hub of him. I also remember the great sense of relief when the deed was done; for the first time in years I could take a deep breath and re-evaluate everything I had become; what I would stand for and what I wouldn’t allow to happen again.
There are many reasons to cling to old things, but mainly it is fear; fear of hurting others; fear of being alone; fear of never finding a more comfortable shoe or pair of jeans; fear of making the wrong decision. As adults, we become so good at ignoring our instincts and create so many filters and excuses. Perhaps we should take a lesson from a child and start living unapologetically.
What is it that keeps you from living brilliantly? What is drowning out the sound of your own voice and song? How will you begin to liberate yourself today?
Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies
4 ounces chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (I used milk chocolate chips)
2 ounces chopped unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
1 8 ounce package softened cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350C. Grease and flour a 13x9x2 baking pan.
2. Brownie layer: In medium saucepan heat and stir both chocolates with butter over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat; let cool. Whisk in the 1 1/4 cups sugar and 3 of the eggs. Whisk in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and the salt. Stir in the 3/4 cup flour just until combined. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Set aside.
3. Cheesecake Layer: In medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese and the 2/3 cup sugar with electric mixer until combined. Beat in lemon juice, the remaining 1 egg, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla just until combined. Beat in the 2 tablespoons flour. Spread mixture over brownie layer. Top with raspberries; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar.
4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is puffed and golden and the edges start to brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Chill covered, for at least 6 hours.
5. Cut into bars. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Last night Poppy was laying between us looking as though she just stepped out of an 80's workout video with her pink onesie and pink socks up to her chubby little knees. We watched her smile and listened to every "word" she gurgled. Mike suddenly looked at me with sad eyes and said something that I haven't been able to shake. It was about how temporary this stage is. This little girl that we know today won't be here tomorrow; everyday she is more than she was yesterday. She is stronger and brighter with every sunrise. Just this morning she, after weeks of sucking on her fist, finally found her thumb; a feverish sense of accomplishment seemed to wash over her, and I nearly cried. Partially because she didn't need me in that moment to comfort her as I have every other morning, but mainly because it was another milestone for her. Everyday she is taking steps towards her independence, as tiny as they may be in the grand scheme of life.
Of course this is what we want as healthy parents, but it has made me think about the duality of parenthood. How it demands that we be both a rock of comfort and security, and the fluid of forgiveness and growth. I suppose this is true for any human relationship, the difference being that this may be the most heartwrenching and rewarding; all in the same breath.
I am learning that all we can do is watch and remain present in these fleeting, bittersweet moments and hope that we do something right.
Poppy and I awoke early this morning to find a beautiful sun-shiny day sprawled out before us so I quickly gathered up what I needed for a day of sewing outside in the shade. I envisioned endless amounts of Poppy pillow pants springing from my sewing machine, but said machine had other plans. As I neared the finish of the second pair of pants,the thread gnarled up on the underside of the fabric and despite an hour of troubleshooting and cursing I was forced to set it aside and move onto other tasks until mom was able to fix it at the end of the day.
Laundry on a day like today brings a pleasure like no other household chore can bring. It reminds me of the gentle art that domesticity is and sums up the simplicity that I want for, not only my writing, but for my life. Plaid and denim flap wildly in the wind. The slow rhythm of stringing linens from cedar pole to tree limb connects me to something feminine and ancient. Tonight we shall pull fresh linens up under our chins; swaddled in the day’s sun and breeze, and fall gently into sleep's lap.
p.s. a little bit of monkey love to end this post off right!
After a busy weekend of dinner with friends, watching Poppy grow, the green living show, garden planning, a rainy day birthday party for a super cool five year old, and a successful hunt for vintage pillowcases and sheets, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to quickly share with you one of our favourite soup recipes. We first tried it at last year's green living show and put it into regular recipe rotation ever since. I hope you try it and love it as much as we do!
West African Soup
2/3 cup Cenabal PalmSun Organic Cooking Oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon raw garlic, minced
1 cup pumpkin seeds, ground in blender
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1 large can chopped tomatoes
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1. Gently sauté onions and garlic in PalmSun oil for 5 minutes.
2. Add ground pumpkin seeds and spices, sauté for 5 more minutes.
3. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.
This soup is a version of a West African delicacy called Egusi Soup. In West Africa this soup is served with bowls of cooked vegetables and meats and guests can then select their favorite vegetables and meats and add them to the soup.
We enjoy it with a fresh loaf of bread for dipping.
The PalmSun oil is high in Vitamin A, the tomatoes add lycopene and the pumpkin seeds are high in Zinc.
Today we made the first trek out into Toronto since baby Poppy was born for the Green Living Show (and just for the record, we have the coolest, calmest baby ever made!). There was nothing specific we were going for except, perhaps, a refreshed sense of ambition in this season of new life and longer days. Every spring feels like a new beginning and a time to freshen up our lives and resolve, once again, to be better human beings. I have many springtime resolutions, especially this year, but at the top of the list is to try another home garden.
I always had a garden growing up and despite the bird sized mosquitoes attacking us as we planted and the beating sun while we weeded, nothing much in the way of food can beat the taste of a melt-in-your-mouth new potato, or a sun-warmed tomato eaten with dirty hands.
Two summers ago we made an attempt at our first garden. We planted, in neat little rows and mounds, lettuce, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peas and tall bamboo tee pees for the climbing beans. We then sealed the perimeter with chicken wire which we thought was fit to keep out the 3 rambunctious dogs who claimed our yard as their own. I made religious nightly treks out to the tiny plot, water hose in tow, and repaired the fence almost as often. It did spout and grow, but the plants and I eventually gave up; the dogs and heat won. We did manage to get 4 tiny tomatoes and a fair amount of new potatoes. Luckily for us, we volunteered on a local organic farm and are always generously subsidized by my dad and step mother's organic farm (both of which I am sure will be blogged about at length in the coming months!).
I have grand plans to make this year different. It will likely involve a truckload of topsoil and manure, a rototiller and a new location right outside of our side door for easy care and use. We will get as much as we can from organic and local sources as I haven't had the foresight to start any seeds. I would like for it to include potatoes, tomatoes, beans, peas, squash, onions, beets, mesclun, and perhaps some sort of melon. I would also like to include an interesting spiral herb garden design we learned at the organic farm last spring.
This will also be the year in which I learn the art of canning such staples as tomatoes and apples. Last year mom and I made yummy strawberry jam from Dad and Janet's organic strawberries and the year before that we made grape jelly from wild grapes that grow in her yard. I am sure I will have no problems finding tried and true techniques from family, but if you have any unique recipes or ideas I would love for you to share!
Stay tuned for progress on this not so little project!
Let me first tell you how inspired I am by a woman named Amanda Blake Soule. She is a wonder woman in my books and is living my ideal life. She is the authour of The Creative Family – How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections and has a new book coming out in August 2009 called Handmade Home – Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials Into New Family Treasures. On top of this, she raises and "unschools" four little ones, writes a daily blog and sells sweet sewn goodies from her online store.
I read her blog daily as a sort of meditation and reminder of how I would like my day to go. So as she shares her inspirations and pays it forward, I will share my inspirations in hopes of paying it forward as well; and so continues the goodness that is the creative movement.
I bought her first book when I found out I was pregnant and devoured every word. I am excited to incorporate the rituals and fun into Poppy's childhood. There is also a wealth of resources in the back of her book that I wish to collect over time.
Yesterday, in honour of Earth Day and inspired by Soule Mama, I decided to follow her simple repurposed baby pant project. Let me tell you that I am newly obsessed with these simple pants. I had a dearly loved pillow case with no mate, and decided that it was destined for a better life than hiding in the linen closet. Besides that, Poppy is growing at a phenomenal rate; weighing in at 13 pounds at the tender age of 8 weeks; and busting out of her 3 month sleepers. Rather than shell out the 10 to 15 dollars each for new sleepers, I can use random fabrics laying around the house with a much more pleasing result!
I had no elastic for the waistband so I improvised and used some canvas-type ribbon that I had hanging around for a drawstring waist instead. I am quite pleased with the effort to pleasure ratio for these pants. I took sewing in grade 9, but that was nearly 15 years ago (is time really going that fast?!) so I only retain enough knowledge to thread the sewing machine and get frustrated when I try to follow a pattern.
Anyone can make these and I encourage you to do so. I will keep my eyes peeled when visiting the local thrift shops for vintage pillow cases and sheets (There is no reason mama can't have a wicked cool pair of perfect pantaloons as well!).
Happy sewing and reading!
So here I sit on the cusp of something big.
Feeling inspired and surprisingly focused; I have decided to begin a new blog in a new place for a new journey. Since the birth of our beautiful daughter Poppy Anne, I have been digging deep into the cupboards and drawers of creativity to find a sustainable way for me to be a stay at home crafty mama.
I have hopes of sharing my story and maybe even inspiring someone. I know that I am not the first woman to have a strong instinct to stay with and raise her child, for I have been inspired by many others who are doing just that, but we all have unique expressions and stories and I hope to share mine with you. I will share recipes, other delightful blogs I have come across, books and publications I am reading, local artisans and food producers we are enjoying, music we find, natural parenting tools we love, and I will share avenues that I explore for making money from home in creative ways.
It is important to note that I am a beginner. I am a new mom which means I am new to babywearing, attatchment parenting, breastfeeding, and diapering to name a few. And although I come from a long line of crafty, artistic inventive souls of men and women, I am no expert; not even close. Like I said before I am a beginner, but I figure time can pass and I can learn nothing or time can pass and I can slowly learn one task and one craft at a time.
I will start with today and give myself a year. I intend to fill this year and space with snapshots detailing daily adventures of felting, photographing, creating, harvesting, mothering, writing, painting, sewing, cooking, planting, building, exploring, teaching, observing, delving, preserving, and growing. I won’t make promises of perfection, but of honesty . I am sure I will stumble and falter, but I am also sure I will be better for it in the end and maybe you will be too.
So I invite you to join me on this year-long adventure towards our life uncommon. Learn, along side of me, the ins and outs of sewing and motherhood. Watch me search for, and find, the perfect recipe for bread and master, once and for all, my beast of a camera. Breathe with me through yoga poses and knitting projects. Explore the possibilities of unschooling, attatchment parenting, and roads less traveled. Witness me make an attempt at bravery and boldness.
What is it that sustains you; and what will you do this year to move in the direction of your authentic life?
The Journey by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.