Monthly Archives: January 2012

letting go + living well

When we began our journey into more mindful, homemade eating, there was a moment when I was in our kitchen trying to follow a new recipe while the kids ripped the house apart, tangled themselves around my feet, and attempted to climb up me and onto the counters and hot stove.  I remember it occurred to me to take a deep breath and let go.  For a moment I pretended I didn’t see the strewn toys or sticky finger prints.  For a moment I ignored the sink full of dishes and the flour I spilled on the counter top.  For a moment I was free. I sank my teeth into my warm from the oven pita dipped in fresh hummus and tzatiki and watched the kids devour theirs.  For a moment I let myself not fret and it felt good.  A delicious warmth filled my body and my jaw relaxed.  It was a good moment and I knew it would be wise to foster it more often.

I was raised in a very tidy house; it was both glorious and frustrating.  I have carried the same ideals into my life and home.   I have no qualms with having a clean house; I prefer it actually.  But lets be honest; it’s holy-good-god-exhausting.  I put the books back on the shelf and turn to pick up the apple peels Silas has spit out only to turn back around to find every book I just replaced back in the floor .  Mystical, magical, frustrating creatures those toddlers are, no?

Yes, it is true, I much prefer a clean, tidy and well organized house; I nearly shut down when my house is in chaos.  But I don’t think it is a realistic goal for us at this point in time; this season of our life.  The problem is that the lifestyle we want, mixed with the ages of our children just isn’t conducive to a tidy house.  There is always some good food to be prepared and eaten which translates into a sink full of dishes.  There is always something to build or toy to craft which results in a dusting of sawdust and a pile of supplies left at the ready.  There is wood to be brought in or chicken water to be changed leaving a trail of snow and wood bits through my kitchen and living room.  There are books to be read and books tossed aside in the wake of finding just the right one for the moment.  There are people to visit, adventures to be had, walks to be taken, learning to be done and, therefore, dishes to be left; beds left rumpled.

You see, I need to let the ideal of the constantly tidy house go.  I am 31 years old and just now realizing I need to learn how to function in a different element than the one I was raised in; pick my battles more wisely.  I need to find a balance between living the life we want full of learning, creating and exploring combined with comfort, flow, and cleanliness.

I would much rather have the house that smells of wood smoke and baking; the house filled with young plants stretching for sunlight in the  window sills and slightly sticky, happy children reaching for a hug than be the resentful mama frantically sweeping, dusting and ranting about the state of the house only to lay my weary head on the pillow and promise to do it better tomorrow.

I’ve grown tired of the guilt and the apologizing to unexpected guests.  I would rather clear the couch of toys and book, and warm them with fire, tea and good conversation than fret.  Slowly, I will allow myself to just be in it; without judgement or resolution.  I am allowing myself a moment of grace in hopes that that feeling will grow and become a more comfortable place for me.  And then I will do it again the next day and the next one after that.  And so it goes; a new habit will replace an old habit.

I will fail and rant, of that I am sure, but I will give it my best.  That I promise.

Won’t you join me?

go gently + be wonderful


Posted in family, life, wellness | Tagged , , , | 49 Comments

bits + bobs

I was awakened in the dark hours this morning with a mysteriously sour stomach.  I was weak and queasy and the thought of chasing the kids seemed daunting, so Mike stayed home to help me with the kids.

In short, I took a sick day.

I stayed in my jammies under a beloved quilt by the fire and took the day slowly.

I sat in the lull and thought about our plans.

I thought about the things I want to talk about in this space in the near future.

I crocheted a few stitches on my rag rug.

I enjoyed the things we are accomplishing.

I got excited about upcoming articles,  features and growth.

I thought about how we are evolving + becoming.

We had our homeschooling goals re-affirmed.

We talked about baby names should we ever get around to having a third babe.  We have some pretty great ones so it would be a sad thing not to put at least one of them to good use 😉

I mulled over how thinking outside of the box and doing things unconventionally seems to work best for us.

We ordered our seeds and talked about this years garden.

I chatted with Dad about the beef we are getting from them and the freezer we will fill with veggies, fruit, and meat to carry us through next winter.


It is an exciting time for us and for the blog and I can’t wait to share more with you in the form of articles, features, more sponsor giveaways, eco product reviews, recipes, and finally putting words to so many thoughts many homesteading and lifestyle topics.


We continue to weave while the Universe is provides the thread faithfully and at just the right speed.  So with a deep breath and a good night’s sleep, I will begin weaving again and share the good things with you.


go gently + be wonderful


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Posted in ellenberger organic farm, family, frugal living, homeschooling, homesteading, life, recipes, tutorials + DIY, sponsorship, wellness | 3 Comments

earth’s best sundays dipped in saturday

go gently + be wonderful


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sponsor giveaway – tinahdee beautiful jewelry

A few words from Tina

I’m very much a sensory-driven artist. By that, I mean the elements that go into the final product, and how I interact with those elements and how they interact with me, are all very important ingredients. I like to “get my hands dirty.” I discovered that gold and silver and copper metals are quite sensuous in the way they respond to being worked, and I find that very enjoyable.  “

The Giveaway

Tinahdee Beautiful Jewelry will be offering one lucky winner a beautiful custom longitude/latitude ring!
To enter the giveaway you can do the following:


Blog about this giveaway
Share the giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, etc
Leave a comment telling us your favourite piece in her shop
Be sure to leave a comment on this post telling us where you have shared this giveaway


Please Note: You must leave one comment per share/tweet/etc to enter more than once!
Tina is also offering a generous coupon code for 15% off for your readers: apples15
This is no time to be shy!  The giveaway is open to everyone.

 If you are new to the blog or just a long time lurker/reader/admirer please leave a comment  and show your lovely face.

Contest ends Friday, February 3rd 2011 and the winner will be announced shortly after at the bottom of this post.
Now, give Tina some love!
Agnus said:
I love Tina’s work, and it’s shown off by exceptionally beautiful photos. One of my favourite items in her shop are the Hand stamped stacking rings. Thanks for offering this great giveaway!
I have forwarded your info to Tina and she will be in touch soon.  Thanks to everyone who joined the fun.  Check back  for more beautiful and exciting weekend giveaways on the feather + anchor this month!
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fawned fridays

01) This photo (from this beautiful site) makes my ovaries ache for just one more babe to love and adorn with feathers + wool.

02) Love + need this print.  So many more breathtaking works on her website too.

03) I am wee bit excited about the white washed floors we are going to be installing upstairs.

04)  80 uses for coconut oil.  Why have I never thought to put it in my hair before?

05) Wondering where I can get a shirt like this.

06) I want a goat.  And perhaps an owl.

07) I think I am finally starting to really grasp this truth.

08) This is a beautiful message;  a christian sermon on gay pride day.

09) Want a pendant light like this in white over our kitchen table.

10) Poppy’s mama and daddy made birthday present?  I think so!


{fawned fridays inspired by miss fawn}


I will be announcing a great giveaway and coupon code from tinahdee beautiful jewelry this weekend so be sure to check back for exciting details.  Meanwhile, you have until tomorrow evening to enter Ana’s art + photo giveaway.

Don’t be shy, giveaways are open to everyone, including the “quiet readers” (read: non-commenters) *wink wink*.


go gently + be wonderful


Posted in fawned fridays | 6 Comments

our first egg

Oh, how my heart swells with joy.

We brought our 6 laying hens home from my dad and step mom’s flock on October 29th.  Dad and Janet have been getting eggs for a couple weeks now from their 19 hens and asked every time we spoke if we had any ourselves.  We worried they had begun eating the eggs due to cold weather, boredom and/or the light-filled nesting boxes.  We had built two nice nesting boxes, but with two 4’x4′ south facing windows in our small coop, it was impossible to keep light out.  In an effort to appease the ladies we dug out an old cat carrier, removed the door, placed it in a corner facing the wall with just enough room to squeeze in for privacy, and filled it with fresh straw.  That was yesterday, and by mid morning today we had our first egg (in the cat carrier of course).  So it was either coincidence, or hens can, and will, hold out for more ideal laying quarters.  Lesson learned.

 It is such a simple symbol of all that we are trying to do here.  It feels like an important milestone and another nudge in the right direction. I actually squealed when I cracked open our egg and compared it to the other (organic, free run, store brand) eggs; so yellow and vibrant! I actually felt sad that so many people may never know this joy.

And once again, I am reminded of how blessed our simple life is.  Thank you for that sweet ladies.

go gently + be wonderful



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Posted in ellenberger organic farm, homesteading, life, photography + writing, recipes, tutorials + DIY, wellness | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

what lies beneath

So, the orange carpet I have been complaining about since, well, since before we even moved in?   It met its fate this afternoon.  I thought we would just rip the unglued carpet up to expose the grey painted linoleum patchwork beneath it.  However, when a large piece happened to stick to the carpet backing and exposed a layer of newspapers from April and May 1949 we couldn’t resist going further.  Beneath that layer of newspapers lay the original wooden floor boards.

All romance aside, when I posted this picture on Facebook, a friend gently mentioned to be careful as we may have unearthed some lead paint as they did in their own house.  Eep!  We spent the rest of the afternoon calling around to find out about home tests, and Googling the scary lead facts.  We still don’t know for sure so we are camping out in the spare room while we figure out our next step.  We didn’t do any sanding or chipping which seems to be the largest concern, but we did begin removing the linoleum.

The hallway and other rooms already have a layer of wood/particle board down so we will be doing the same in the bedroom and then laying simple pine flooring on top of that since we have read it is likely better just to let non-chipping paint well alone and bury it.

Now it has us thinking about all the other places lead may be lurking in our home.  My beloved mismatched plates?  Vintage toys?  Other painted surfaces in our house?  Vintage is lovely and romantic, but not always safe or practical.  Another (rather unsettling) reality of living in a 104 year old cabin, I suppose.  They say if you live in a house built before 1960  or even 1970 chances are you have lead paint in your home.

The up side?  It looks as though a new set of dishes and some wood flooring may be in my very near future.  As for those papers, well, you’d have sworn Mike and I had found buried treasure judging by our level of excitement.  Ignorance is bliss, what can I say.

go gently + be wonderful


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the meat we eat

This is a post I have been mulling over for months now.  As we try to define our homesteading and lifestyle goals the topic of raising our own meat has been at the forefront of our minds.  Do we want to raise our own meat?  Do I want to slaughter the animals we have fed, tended to, and pet ?  If we do decide to raise our own meat do we want to butcher them ourselves or take them to a slaughterhouse?  If I am so uncomfortable with what meat is then should I perhaps give it up altogether?

 I love having and tending to animals.   There is something so sweetly quiet about the walk to the chicken coop; everything silenced by the freshly fallen snow; the dog racing to the coop and back again in an effort to hasten my pace; the cooing and clucking they welcome me with.  I would love to reconnect with the natural rhythm of animals and seasons.  I dream of  having a couple sheep for wool to spin, bees for honey and good conversation, a Flemish Giant rabbit and a goat for a few good laughs, more chickens for eggs and meat, and and cow for milk.  It all sounds romantic and homey when I say it like that doesn’t it?  But the reality is much more involved, complicated, and, for me, tortured.  The biggest thing being that a milk cow needs to have a calf each year in order to produce milk.  Do we sell or eat the sweet calf?  Romance gone.

I was raised in a family of lifelong responsible and respectable farmers and hunters and, yet, I have always struggled with eating meat.  Always.  I feel guilty when I question whether or not we should be entitled to eat meat or not as it puts my father’s livelihood into question and that makes me uncomfortable.  Even still, I can never quite disconnect from the fact that this beautiful creature died so I could eat it.  I imagine their fear and wonder what went through their minds in that last moment.  I wonder if their family misses them.  We dabbled in vegetarianism for about 9 months, but we did it in an unhealthy and unsustainable way.  We were unprepared as we had been raised eating meat at nearly every meal.

That being said, I don’t want to give up meat again.  I just don’t.  I do, however want to eat meat that was given room to roam, the ability to form natural bonds with other animals and the humans who cared for them.  In the words of Michael Pollan “…meat that had a really good life and one bad day…”.

We have gradually and permanently cut out conventionally raised meat and buy our organic, grass fed beef and pork from my father and step-mom’s farm.  When we run out, we simply eat meatless meals until we can get a visit in to their farm again.  We don’t have an affordable source for chicken so we don’t eat it.

So begins the conversation of starting into chickens for meat.  This would mean buying  a larger number of mixed sex day old chicks, raise them, and then either take the roosters to the butcher, or do the butchering ourselves.  I would be more comfortable with sending them away for processing, but is it about me or about the chickens?  Can I justify the stressful trip to a scary new place so that I feel better?  I eat meat and, therefore, am responsible for the death of an animal whether it is by my hands or someone else’s hands.

We recently were present when our friend Andrew slaughtered one of their own pigs.  For some reason it sounds more brutal when you say you slaughter your own animals, but their pig had a sweet little life and had no idea what her day would hold.  There was no stressful loading into a trailer, long trip to the butcher, unloading in unfamiliar surroundings nor an anxious wait.  She followed Andrew and the bucket of food up the hill where she began gobbling her feed and with a single shot  she left this world peacefully and quickly.

I have not yet made up my mind with regards to who will be doing the processing, but we have decided to take the plunge and raise some chickens for meat.  Running an old age home for old laying hens isn’t sustainable.  Rather than dying  and having the tough meat going to waste they will feed our family and revive the respect, connection, and reality of eating meat.  It is not a decision I have taken lightly nor is it one I am entirely comfortable with, but I am willing to push my own boundaries for the sake of learning and reconnecting.  This isn’t a topic most people are not comfortable with, but if you’re eating meat and have no intention of stopping, it is time to get comfortable with where it comes from.

Have you struggled with these same feelings?  What was your solution?  Is this a path you’re heading down yourself?  I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so please feel free to share in the comments.

A friend shared a really great video with a very graphic, very respectful how to video.  It is two parts so make sure you find both if you want more after the first.  She is very sweet and makes the process seem like a doable process of life as a homesteader.

go gently + be wonderful


Posted in ellenberger organic farm, frugal living, homesteading, life | Tagged , , , , , | 28 Comments

earth’s best sundays

go gently + be wonderful


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sponsor giveaway – water droplet designs



As a child, I loved colour, but the creation of visual art had always eluded me… until I bought a high-end digital camera. One day, I took a close-up shot of a droplet of dew on a blade of grass, and the result amazed me. Thus was born Water Droplet Designs.

I take photographs of whatever moves me – it is as simple as that. I focus on images of nature, especially close-ups. I like to photograph things from perspectives people don’t usually take. People are often amazed that most of my photos are taken right in the heart of Toronto. I look for the beauty that others overlook. Most of my photos are taken in Toronto and other parts of Ontario, although some are also taken in other parts of the world. On my Etsy site, all the prints are 8×10, but I do sell photo cards as well. My full collection of photograph can be viewed at: Photo cards can be ordered a la carte from there.

The story of my pastel paintings: As I mentioned earlier, visual art, especially drawing, was never something I was good at, especially drawing. Then one day I stumbled across a box of Sennelier soft pastels… and never looked back. I become one with the sticks of colour and I love to blend with my fingers. I focus mostly on landscapes, and birds – for some reason I can draw birds!

I love to paint with pastels; it is soothing. I have so many creations, though, and they end up piled around the house – I would rather they go to good homes! That is why I price my artwork a bit lower than most artists – my main goal is that someone be enjoying the artwork.

I am also a firm believer in leaving as gentle a footprint on the planet as possible; I try to use post-consumer recycled paper whenever possible for my photo cards, and I always re-use envelopes and packing materials to ship my artwork.

When I am not creating, I am finishing up my Master’s in Music, applying to PhD programs in clinical psychology, and babysitting twins, children with autism, and others, all over the city.

For the giveaway, Ana will be offering two 8×10 prints each to three lucky winners!

All you have to do is leave a comment,blog,tweet,Facebook,or otherwise post a link to Ana’s Etsy shop (and the coupon code too, if you want!), come back here with a link to where you’ve posted and leave a comment.  To enter more than once, you can mention the shop on different websites, just leave a comment for each separate entry with a link to each place.  Be sure to leave an email address with your comment so we can contact you.

Feather + Anchor readers can also use Coupon Code: LEAP29 for 10% off in her Etsy Shop.  Code expires February 29th, 2012.  As an added bonus, if you purchase at least two prints or one pastel painting by then, you will also get a free surprise print or painting!

Contest is open to everyone and closes Friday, January 27th, 2011 and winners will be announced on this post soon after. Start spreading the love and let everyone know about this great offer from Ana!


Peter said:

Ana’s super talented and takes some really beautiful photos– Iv’e used some of her greeting cards (with her photos, of course!) for very special occasions.

Congrats on your first sale from Etsy! Many more coming your way, for sure!

I guess I’m going to have to “cheat” and remove your link from my Facebook and repost it as my own…? ;-)

Mandy said:

She has such beautiful work…I would love to win…what a treat to play!

Mary Beth said:

Posted this to my Facebook page. Thanks for the opportunity win! I too love photography and this inspires me to get back into it. :) (I am also having a problem posting the link to my facebook…it is there though!)

Congrats and thanks to those who played.  I will pass your emails on to Ana and she will be in touch!

Posted in sponsorship, Uncategorized | 16 Comments