Monthly Archives: December 2011

earth’s best sundays – the new years edition

Happy New Year to you and yours!

go gently + be wonderful


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I can’t help myself.  As we edge closer to the new year we find ourselves talking about big changes while we sip our morning coffee or lay in the darkness of our bedroom.  Some might even call them resolutions.

It has been made apparent that the theme of this phase of of my life is to learn how to let go.  It was brought to my attention first when we participated in a drum circle at Magnificent Hill.  I went for Mike as he is the drummer, but I struggled with every aspect of playing the music and keeping a beat.  I was too busy thinking; I thought I was going to hold everyone back; I thought everyone would laugh at me; I thought I would look foolish; I thought everyone would grow tired of me.  As though she sensed it, the spritely pregnant lesbian leading the circle exclaimed, good naturedly, that I needed to “let go!”.  I couldn’t then and I struggle with it still; 3 1/2 years later.

All things seem to be leading us to a fork in the road.  It feels like it is time to jump in or get out.  We watched No Impact Man {on} for the second time last night and there was a moment when his mildly disgruntled wife was trying to bargain for something she wanted in exchange for doing the project with him a few months in.  It was then that she realized there was nothing she wanted.  She realized it made her a little sad to let go of the wanting and she wondered if it would just be a hole in its place.  She so perfectly articulated my thoughts and feelings on this lack of want.  Shopping has been a huge part of my life.  It was the chosen activity for my mom and I on weekends after we cleaned the house.  It was what I did after work.  It was what I did while waiting for my ex to make time for me.  It was what we did when we lived in the city without a yard.  It was what we did when we didn’t know what else to do.

Now we go to the store and I see a sea of mostly low quality, ethically dubious things we simply don’t need.  I look down entire aisles we no longer waste our time or money in; the cleaning aisle, the makeup aisle, the junk food aisle, the hair dye aisle, the diaper aisle, the meat aisle.  The list continues to grow as we realize new recipes,  skills, sources and make new goals.  It all seems normal until I enter the “real world” and see overflowing carts and it makes me wonder how I will connect with a culture based around consuming if I let go of consuming as much.  It is a little scary to let go of that part of myself.  What will fill that space?  Will I be able to carry on friendships without them feeling I am judging them for choosing different lifestyles?  Will I be able to let go of what others assume and think of us and our lives?

Big changes are in order for our diets as well.  Will we eat seasonally?  Locally?  Organically?  Will we finally cut out all the processed foods?  The wheat?  The sugar?  The unnecessary packaging? All conventionally raised meat?  This brings more fears to the surface as food has long been a form of entertainment and comfort in my life.  Old recipes give us a sense of self, family, and tradition.  How do I balance the old and the new?  What will I be without buying excess stuff and eating foods that have formed me.

In the past few weeks of self contemplation I have realized that what I struggle with most in making life changes I know in my heart to be right for my health, my family, our earth, my mood, my weight, and my well being is not about the deprivation of the stuff or the food, but about the potential loss of self identity and connection to the outside world those things provide.  I don’t want to ruffle feathers and lose the essence of me.

I am processing a few things and slowly, through writing and constant evaluation, the answers are showing themselves.   They come to me most often in the darkness as I lay, half asleep, open and wiser.

This New Years Eve, we will venture into the woods where a healing circle remains from previous owners and perform a releasing ceremony at dusk.  In the words of Pixie Campbell, “I’m looking forward to carrying the wood to the fire and freeing the stuck bits within myself.”

Wishing you clarity + bravery in the new year.

go gently + be wonderful


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a pared down Christmas

Here we sit, on the other side of Christmas; in the soft lull between the old and new year.

Each year finds us celebrating Christmas more simply than the year before.  This is partially due to  our one income insisting upon it and partially because we know we don’t need more stuff.  We have read countless articles and books on simple living and parenting and they all contain a common thread; too many toys and things only inhibit free thinking, free play, free movement,  wild imaginations and big living.

This year, we all received one substantial gift; Mike received a ukulele from ebay, I received this beautiful website; Poppy received a handmade Waldorf doll, and Silas received a wooden barn with farm animals and tractor.  We filled one stocking with things they love like bubbles,  klean kanteen sippy cups and candy.  We also used this as an opportunity to add some beautiful classic story books to our growing collection (Elsa Beskow +  Sibylle Von Olfers, etc).  For our parents we made the annual Blurb book {last years is here} accompanied by baking or homemade items.   All of that, and the kids most played with and cherished toys of the day were two snow globes {thank you Aunt Liz!} and a jar of $1.49 bubbles.   I rest my case.

I must say it was liberating and we are now enjoying the lack of spending hangover that always seems to follow this season.  I adore Christmas, but often find Christmas day to be the biggest let down; some have felt downright empty.  I think our biggest mistake in years past was that of tying our fulfillment and holiday satisfaction directly to the gifts we give and receive.  So obviously wrong.

A few of my favourite events this year was our simple solstice celebration, hosting the Ellenberger Christmas Eve festivities, a little jaunt amidst the trees and fresh snow on Christmas day, making toutons for a heart warming Christmas breakfast {in honour of Mike’s Newoundland roots}, and felting some play food {something I failed to get done before the big day} while Mike practiced playing his new ukulele.

With some of our Christmas money we bought a scroll saw {35% off} for our new family hobby of simple toy making {items such as this + this and so much more}.

Each year we move closer towards living up to our own ideals of simplicity and as we move into the new year, I find myself contemplating what will come next.  What items and beliefs I will let go of and which will I cling to?  Who will we be and what will our family look like in the wake of next year’s simple celebrations?

Hoping your holiday has left you feeling refreshed and ready for the coming year.


go gently + be wonderful



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earth’s most merry sundays

sweet family

good food

christmas movies

snow globes


good hugs

more magical snow


an old tobaggan

family jammies

copious amounts of coleslaw + gravy

a walk through the woods

snowmen + snow angels



more gravy

more chocolate

more movies

Merry tidings from the house of the bird + gnome.

go gently + be wonderful

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slow food

coffee + beer

good conversation

fire + marshmallows

a bubble bath


our first Solstice celebration was sweet, simple + perfect.

hoping yours was just as lovely.

go gently + be wonderful


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happy solstice


go gently + be wonderful


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our daily bread

Recently we decided to try a wheat free diet in hopes that it would solve a multitude of low-grade health issues within our lives.  It was fine; a wee bit expensive, but fine.  Gluten free all purpose flour with added xanthan gum worked like magic in most of my tried and true recipes like cookies, tea biscuits, and pizza dough.  I liked how if pushed me further into making more of our food from scratch and kept us out of the processed foods we can tend to fall back on.

All that being said, neither of us noticed any great changes and I mourned that I would never eat homemade bread again.  There is just something so womanly and anciently delightful about making your own bread.  The smell must be embedded in our genes as I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t swoon at the scent of yeast and sweetness.  It makes me think of my Gramma’s hands, shiny with butter, kneading dough and tearing little bits off for me to eat.  Like hanging clothes to dry on the line or the heat of a woodstove, there is something so deliciously comforting about bread and all that it requires from you and generously gives back.

Now, I love and respect a good loaf of bread, but until recently I had been incapable of making one.  I can make a mean sweet dough for dinner rolls, but all of my attempts have resulted in dense, under-cooked bricks of blech.  A couple of weeks ago, I was able to get some pointers from a dear friend as I watched her make her own bread.  The next day I did as she had done and what do you know, I had made a decent, fully cooked loaf of bread!  Last night I tried another recipe and it turned out even nicer; still not perfect, but good.

Two of the most valuable things I learned was 1.) to use my beloved KitchenAid mixer {named Gretel} and leave it mixing for way longer than I would have thought and 2.) use a meat thermometer poked through the bottom when I am tempted to take it out to ensure the core temperature is at least 200 degrees.  If not put it back in.

I will persevere + perfect.

Bread changes with the seasons and temperatures; it reacts to humidity and even the slightest jar; it absorbs moods and tensions; and like the rings of a tree, tells a story.  Every loaf must contain the love of a good woman {or man} to be worth eating.

Basic Bread Recipe from Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin

2 cups milk

3 tbsp butter (divided)

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp salt

2 packages of dry yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm water

6-6 1/4 cups flour (I used white, but will be playing with spelt and others in the future)

1.) Heat milk.  Stir in 1 tbsp of butter plus sugar and salt.  Stir until dissolved.

2.) Stir yeast into warm water in main mixer bowl.  Let proof for 5 minutes.

3.) Add milk mixture to yeast mixture.  Beat in flour 1 cup at a time.

(here it says to turn out and knead by hand, but I just left the mixer going until it looked smooth and elastic)

4.) Place in a greased bowl and turn so its greased on on all sides.  Cover.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

5.) Punch down and knead once more breifly.

6.) Divide and shape into two loaves.  Place in two well-greased loaf pans.  Cover.  Let rise once more.

7.) Preheat oven to 400*F.

8.) When loaves have doubled in size, slash tops two or three places.  Melt remaining butter and brush half of it onto the loaves.

(I skipped the above step)

9.) Bake for 40 minutes (use the meat thermometer if you’re unsure/inexperienced).  When done brush with remaining butter

10.) remove from pans and let cool on a rack.

{Makes two large loaves}

go gently + be wonderful


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homemade lip balm

Today I will share the recipe for a lovely homemade lip balm.  It was roughly based off of this recipe with a couple changes.  In all honesty I goofed and used the wrong measuring spoons, so when I doubled the recipe I actually…um, quadrupled it?  It filled 10 mini tins and a 125 ml mason jar.  Goofs aside, this is a lovely lip balm.  Not too sticky.  Not too slippery.  Stays on the lips well and moisturizes nicely.

I will give you the large quantity recipe I ended up using in case you’re making last minute gifts or just need a bucket-load of lip balm to get you through the dry winter months.  Feel free to half it.

See the other recipes + tutorials I’ve shared here.


3 tbsp finely chopped beeswax (found at local health store)

6 tbsp coconut oil (found at grocery store)

3 tbsp lanolin (found on Etsy)

3/4 tbsp emu oil (used instead of vitamin E oil as I always have it on hand and never have the E)

2 tbsp hard honey (found local honey at bulk food store)

Peppermint + vanilla  extract (add a little at a time to your liking)

Add all ingredients except honey, peppermint + vanilla to small saucepan over medium low heat stirring until all little bits of beeswax are melted.

Stir in honey, peppermint + vanilla and stir until well mixed.

I used a small eye dropper to fill tiny tins and poured the remainder into a 125 ml mason jar.


go gently + be wonderful


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all that remains

It had been a long week.  One of the longest; in which I laboured under the false pretense of it being a day later than it actually was.  It had been a good day though; filled with glitter, glue, sugar cookies and dear friends.  I even secretly enjoyed the subtle dusting of glitter that remained on the floors in the aftermath.

We collapsed into bed at our usual time in our usual fashion {rumpled}.  It was when Mike took Poppy downstairs {after weeks of refusing her normal bedtime, it has become a new routine} and I was left alone with Silas.  That is when it happened.  I rolled over and rubbed his back to make sure he was in a deep enough sleep for me to leave him.  All at once I experienced a moment of pure clarity.

A long list of things urged me to go downstairs; the cookies that needed to be baked for Mike’s work potluck; the dirty dishes; the blog I wanted to write; the tidying that needed to be done.  Instead, I lay in bed with his warm breath on my cheek and thought about time stealing him away from me.  I thought about the days he won’t be as eager to snuggle with his Mama.  I thought about how tiny he once was in our bed and how his limbs stretch in every direction now.  I thought about how my heart will ache and swell when he moves into his own bed, or when they ride a bike for the first time, or when they move away, or bring home their first dates.  I thought about what the years will hold for our little family.  I wondered how his little jawline would look as he grows into a young man.  I wondered if her hair would always be curly.  I wondered how these moments would look to us in 20 years.  30 years. I wondered if I would ever get it right.

In that moment, there was love all around me and the room swirled as I wept with both sadness and  gratitude.  It was a good warm cry.  The coarse, sometimes resentful, growth that had grown inside my chest had been sliced open and warmed me from the inside out.  I wept for loss and betrayal.  I  wept for loneliness and misunderstandings.  I wept for words and answers I still seek.

I wept for this love; this heartbreaking, inextinguishable love equal to no other worldly thing.

And all that remained was love and warm breath on my cheek.


It may have been the PMS.

It may have been God.


go gently + be wonderful



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earth’s best sundays

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