Category Archives: celebration

earth’s best sundays – canada day edition

This weekend was a good one.  It was, after all, Canada’s birthday.  Unfortunately, my camera was either at home or suffering a dead battery so we only managed pictures of Sunday at my dad and step mom’s farm, but I assure you it was good and full.


intensive clean-up + reorganization of our upstairs

grocery shopping

buy one get one deals


Combermere Farmer’s Market on a damp and cool morning

a long wait for the best damn homemade donuts you’ll ever eat

a day spent at the cottage with my step dad, step sister and her wee family

sword fights, flower picking, fishing, bbq, bunnies jumping on a bed, grazing, matching jammies

sleepy children


two loaves of dutch oven bread

piling the last few bits of wood (the epic job of 2013!)

warm strawberries

garlic scapes

Poppy obsessed with riding Dad + Janet’s new horse Nutmeg (or “Meggie”, as she likes to call her)

Grampa practicing his lasso skills on willing grandkids

watering the animals

checking for eggs

naked tub fun

tractor…always the tractor

birthday cupcakes

too tired to stop for fireworks…maybe next year


hulling strawberries while sipping our morning coffee

iron + wine

a new lawnmower (our neighbour repairs and sells them so we traded in the old one)

into town to meet friends for Canada Day celebrations

the anthem + feeling grateful for being born in the best country.

the petting zoo

free Kawartha Dairy ice cream

slowest free balloon service ever!

Waiting in line for food only for them to run out

classic cars

toads+ coffee  in the garden

a quick stop at Kawartha Dairy for chocolate milk + ice cream + waffle cones

that chocolate milk  rocked my socks, wondering why I don’t drink it more often

feeling rather smug as we watched all the tourists making their way back to the city

homemade veggie pizza for supper


go gently + be wonderful


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playing catch up

Firstly, I apologize for my absence and secondly, I thank you warmly for your kind emails to check in on me.  At 5 weeks of pregnancy the all day nausea hit me like a tonne of bricks and the depression that always accompanies it followed close behind.  Up until now, even the thought of signing into my blog account made me feel nauseated.

Alas, I am 19 weeks along and aside from feeling a bit gaggy in the mornings, I am feeling much better now.  Phew, that was a rough ride!

I am a little ashamed and saddened that I have only a handful of ho-hum photos from the past 3 months, so indulge me while I attempt to record a few snapshots to remind us all of what these month looked like…

  • We had our 18 to 20 week ultrasound on Monday and found out that we are having a GIRL!  The kids have been saying girl consistently whenever we ask them so it was no big surprise to them.  We waited to find out for our first two, but thought it would be fun to find out for our last one.  It feels really nice to know…though I do have that nagging thought that they do make mistakes.
  • The all day nausea lasted from 5 weeks until about 15 weeks.  I made the whole 10 weeks without throwing up and then randomly at 18 weeks, I barfed my guts out.  The same thing happened with Poppy.
  • If I had picked up my camera you would likely see pictures of Silas dressed in a straw hat and lady gloves while exclaiming “Iiiiiit’s show time!” and you would see Poppy dressed in her flapper hat, lady gloves and a purse declaring she was ready to go to the bush.
  • We spent a great deal of time laying on the couch watching movies.  The funny thing is that I felt so guilty, but the kids were happy…likely because they had me all to themselves to snuggle and play with.  I also realized just how well they get along and play together.  They almost never fight and almost always share there food and toys with each other with a simple offer or question “You wanna share with me Silas/Poppy”.  They really are the best of friends and I am so glad they will be homeschooled to foster that relationship.
  • I wonder how this new little girl will fit into the mix and dynamic.  Both kids are excited and ease my worries when they bring toys for the baby, kiss my belly, and shush each other so as not to wake the baby.  Silas found a play stethoscope at the local thrift store and immediately held it up to my belly and said “I’m just checking your baby.  I’m a doctor.”
  • There was lots of lego, books, and puzzles by the fire.
  • Evening games of Uno in which Poppy actually began beating us until she lost interest and left the game after 4 or 5 hands.
  • The Waltons
  • Poppy has become quite crafty and resourceful.  When I take to long to fill a bowl with water for her to use her watercolour paints, she will spit in them and begin without me.  She used the same principle just yesterday when she wanted water for the mud pit they love so much.  She peed in it and I was able to stop her as she was about to proceed playing with her new mud.  Don’t worry we promptly filled the area in with 10 bags of play sand last night.  The black flies swarmed us, but with bug nets over their heads, they played happily for nearly an hour without so much as a single bite.
  • Speaking of the mud pit, one warm day this week they were able to strip down and become completely coated in dark, rich mud. All was fine and dandy until Silas snuck inside, waited until I spotted him, slammed the door and ran squealing into the front room and onto the couch where he flailed around until I could get him off and into the tub where he surprised us all by pooping. He has never done that and I think he was more shocked than Poppy and I.
  • Poppy has been sleeping in her own room, but Mike has been staying with her until she falls asleep, but about a month ago she started asking to go to bed and falling asleep by herself.  This is a very big moment for us as we have never wanted to let her cry it out.
  • We have been moving Silas to his own toddler bed in their shared room after he falls asleep, but most nights he finds his way back into our bed.
  • Poppy loves to draw, but shows more creativity with paints.  My favourite pieces are a portrait of Daddy and a colourful caterpillar.
  • She has also begun spelling and writing her name by herself and has learned the sounds all the letters of the alphabet make.
  • Our 9 hens are laying well and we can barely use up all the eggs.
  • Our red headed rooster has started to attack us.  It began with Silas, then Poppy, then Mike, then me.  He isn’t brutally aggressive, but enough to be annoying.  The good news is that when he attacked Silas and Poppy, Huck was there and gently pulled the rooster off of them by the tail feathers.  We are hoping to find a new home for him or he may end up in the freezer.
  • Huck has been a frustratingly stubborn dog, but he is wonderful with the kids and keeps a watchful eye on them.  If they run out of sight, he will follow and sit with them.
  • Our area had a lot of run off water, rain, and flooding this spring.  We weren’t affected by the flooding rivers at home, but our basement did gather some water which was frustrating, but so many people were evacuated and likely have severe water damage to their homes.
  • Mike and I will be creating a new website for Ellenberger Organic Farm.  It will have a lot more comprehensive information on it.  I will let you know when it goes live, but if you’d like to see more up to date photos, videos, and what is available when, etc, be sure to like their new Facebook page!  It was a great maple syrup year for them.
  • Mike’s Mom and her partner were up for a visit as they made their way back from Florida to Newfoundland which meant that Mike and I were able to get into the big city for our first night away alone in over four years.   We visited the St. Lawrence Market where I nearly passed out due to low blood sugar.  I sat on their lovely outdoor patio area where Mike fed me strawberries, cookies, meat sticks and water until I recovered.  We then walked on to the Distillery District.  Then up through a sketchy part of town and through Cabbagetown until we reached our hotel (An old Victorian house that Ernest Hemmingway lived in while in Toronto).  Once talking to the kids and freshening up, we made our way through the posh, douche chill inducing streets of Yorkville to a little Indian Restaurant where we enjoyed a lovely, quiet meal while simultaneously remembering why we like and love each other.  We then sipped on coffee and hot chocolate and strolled through aisles of books.  In the morning we rose early and enjoyed a stroll back down Bloor until we arrived at the ROM.  We sipped more hot beverages and ate a small breakfast while chatting and people watching until the museum opened.  With one set of butterfly wings, one set of dinosaur wings and a dinosaur mug, we made our way back to Union Station by way of the bustling Yonge Street.  My feet still hurt, but the simple memories are good ones that should carry us through to our next getaway in another couple of years ;).
  • Turns out that making baby girls makes for a fatter sicker mama. With Silas I was able to wear the same pair of non maternity jeans throughout the whole pregnancy. With this one, I peed on the stick and my pants stopped fitting.  Sweet lord, it is going to be a long summer!
  •  There are so many lilac blossom promises this year.  How I love the wild flowers and perennials that grow around this little house…wild roses, peonies, poppies, lilacs, daisies, cherry and apple blossoms, and black eyed Susan’s, oh my!  My mason jars shall runneth over this year!
  • We are hoping to get honeybees next spring.  I do love the dear little creatures, but would like to get the family allergy tested before we get them to make me feel better.
  • Mike is still making his way though our giant pile of firewood logs which means Mike ventured into chainsaw ownership and use.  He was pretty excited.  We hope to save up for a much more efficient wood stove this fall.
  • We were very pleased that we didn’t owe any taxes this year!  We got a $10 return, but paid $80 to figure that out.
  • Poppy has a new habit of posing very seriously for photos.  It is hard to explain, but it often translates into a very sad looking little girl even though as soon as I take it she breaks into a smile and asks to see it.  It is as though she is being artistic beyond her years.  Just yesterday she spotted the patch of cheerful dandelions in the yard and ran out to pick them in her fairy jammies.  She brought more and more in and then arranged them ever so carefully in a small mason jar.  Of course there were some very stoic poses for mama and her camera, but I did manage to capture a couple candid joyful faces.
  • Silas’ favourite new word is “dirt bag”.  It is something we lovingly call him from time to time, but it likely sounds horrible to onlookers who watch Mike take him into the washroom of the restaurant to wash his hands while he hollers playfully in protest “Let me go you dirt bag!”.  Funny stuff.
  • I purchased a 5 year journal on our little getaway to the city and look forward to recording a little bit about our everyday days.

Well, there you have it.  I know I’ve forgotten so many tiny good moments, but now I will have something to come back to this winter as we work away on our annual Poppy, Silas + Little Girl (We have a name picked, but will attempt keeping it secret for now) book for the grandparents.

I hope to see more of you these days and catch up on your own spaces again.


go gently + be wonderful


Also posted in 365 photo project, 52 portraits, ellenberger organic farm, family, feather + anchor, homeschooling, homesteading, life, our cabin, photography + writing, Uncategorized, wellness | 8 Comments

thirty three . thirty four + earth’s best sundays

morning “suckness”

grocery shopping

mood swings

a day saved by a fun song

Skype with Newfoundland family

a painted birthday cake for Grampa

a happy dino + a pretty little painter

A visit with family at Ellenberger Organic Farm

organic potatoes +chocolate cake pops

Baby name talk all the way home (I think we’ve decided)

a cold house + a nice fire

The Waltons


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Oh, and this happened…

Yes, yes, you read that test right.  We are in fact pregnant with baby number three!  It is very early and it may not be proper baby etiquette to share so early, but we are terrible keepers of secrets.  It would seem that Poppy was actually the first to know about it though!  She had drawn the above family portrait (minus the little red baby) weeks earlier and we had it hanging on the fridge.  About a week before we found out, she went to the fridge with a red pen and drew the extra little body into our family.  When we asked who it was she said it was the baby.  Like whoa.

To be honest, we thought we were done, but if I am being really honest, I mostly just wanted to be done being pregnant.  I am not sure that I ever stopped wanting a third.  We even went so far as to look up the number of the local “Gentle Vasectomy Clinic” only to find that they had closed the month before due to retirement.  I took it as a sign; Mike was just plain relieved.

Pregnancy and I have never been really great friends, but we tolerated each other…barely.  This time I am going to speak with my Naturopath in hopes of finding a homeopathic solution for the all day nausea that has already begun to show itself and generally lasts until about 16 weeks.  The bean soup I have loved for the past year is the first food aversion and Mike couldn’t be happier to see it leave our meal plan.  Now, I know nausea isn’t an unusual symptom to deal with, but it knocks me into a non-productive, low grade depression, and early weight gain.  So, in hopes of enjoying this final pregnancy, I will attempt to nip it in the bud early.  Please feel free to share your own nausea-busting methods with me!

Well, don’t I just sound all matter of fact!  We are giddy and excited to add to our little family, but it feels so different from our first and even our  second.  We feel a bit wiser, we know what it means with regards to sleep, and siblings, and outings. I also know not to worry about my heart being big enough for all this love because I have felt it happen before.  We also know this will teach us things only three children could teach us.  We have no doubt that it will be both insane and, ultimately, wonderful!

Well, there you have it folks!  News as it happens, and I am so happy to share the happy news with everyone.

go gently + be wonderful


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twenty nine + sixty

twenty nine


my step mom, poppy, my dad, and silas at silas' first birthday party

Today my dad turns 60.

He is a wonderful father and grandfather.

He isn’t one for saying the words, but his actions and warm hugs have always spoken loud and clear.

My parents divorced when I was about 2 so I  spent every second weekend, summer and other important holidays with him and my step mom.  He worked a lot and I often wished I could spend more time together.   I relished the days I could skip day camp and tag along with him at his work.  Sometimes I would hold the horses for him, sometimes I would read in the truck, sometimes I explored the farms, but I always loved watching him work; a true craftsman.  I loved the nights he was left to his own devices to make supper (it was always Pop Shoppe sausage and fried potatoes).

After insanely long days of shoeing horses he would always be sure to come to my room to say hello and goodnight; the scent of burnt hoof and barn still heavy on his clothing.  I remember him drilling a hole into a golf ball because we were curious as to what was in the middle.  I remember all sorts of dumb little ideas I had that he would help me with without even batting an eyelash.  I remember him teaching me how to drive the tractor and, by some stroke of luck, I changed gears “on the fly” and he was impressed.  He is always busy with working and farming, some might even say a workaholic, but he always has and had time to teach me things and to be curious together.  He has taught me that anything is possible, or at least worth exploration, and to go against the grain no matter how unpopular it may be.  He is the kind of parent I want to be.

He never gave up on me when it may have been less painful to do so.

And now we make up for lost time.

Happy 60th Birthday Daddy.

We love you.


go gently + be wonderful


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with a heavy + grateful heart

This task has been hanging over us for some time now.  We knew when we bought these chicks from Andrew and Kira back in June that we would be putting the roosters in our freezer.  They had a happy and natural life in every way.  They free ranged by day and roosted in a large coop by night.  Aside from the odd game of harmless chase with the children and dogs, they were free to be chickens.  Because they had lots of space they very rarely even picked fights with each other.  It really was a good life punctuated with a not so great final 30 seconds.

Andrew and Kira had offered to show us (by that I mean Mike) the process they use.  They arrived early, we chatted, sipped coffee while the kids played on the ice and followed our tame outdoor rabbit Sugarfoot,  and then proceeded to get ready.  I thought I would stay away entirely, but decided at the last minute to watch the process.  It ended up being Kira doing the task and the teaching.  There is something comforting to me about a woman doing the job.  She is a calm and gentle soul and it gave me an even deeper sense of peace with the whole process.  Once the ball was rolling, the task went quickly and Mike told me later that Kira makes for wonderful teacher.

Poppy was a bit confused, but we took turns explaining what was happening in the simplest terms possible.  She seemed to understand to some extent and innocently said to me “No, you can’t eat animals, that’s yucky”.  Silas took that time to have a complete melt down so I took our kids inside for a snack where we checked on things from the window from time to time.

I was relieved when it was all over and now that we have 7 chickens in our freezer neither of us have an appetite for chicken.  I remember my dad telling me about my Gramma not being able to eat her chickens for quite some time after processing them herself.  I guess we just feel it proper to give it a window of grace.  A moment of quiet gratitude.  A moment to process our own emotions.  A moment to allow it to cross some arbitrary threshold where it becomes meat rather than a living, breathing creature that once grazed on our land.  Mike was a bit quiet and reserved for the remainder of the day, perhaps processing his first experience with killing something himself.

My issue is not in this method of raising and killing animals ourselves, but more with the bigger question of if I should be eating meat at all.  I came to the realization that if I am to eat meat, I am responsible for the death of an animal regardless of whose hands do the deed.  To send them away or to buy from the conventional market simply makes it easier for me to continue with the easy disconnect.   That being said, if it were left to me and me alone, I would not eat meat again and wouldn’t find it to be a grave hardship.  I have always struggled with eating meat on a personal level and this practice has brought me face to face with that issue; just as having a responsible, respectful organic beef farmer for a father and a responsible, respectful hunter for a step father has done throughout my entire life.  I believe that chickens and other animals are capable of forming bonds and “friendships”; they know the primal sense of pleasure of warming themselves in the sun; they break off into their own groups and have roosting buddies; comforting bonds if you will.  It may be on a primal level, but just because they cannot contemplate these bonds and attachments, doesn’t mean they don’t occur.

The Hoff and the ladies laid low under the cedar tree for the remainder of the day.  Usually Mike shuts the coop door each night, but that night I went out to say goodnight and thank you.  The 4 Barred Rock ladies were sitting on one roost while the 5 Wyandottes sat on a much higher roost.  The Hoff sat alone and alert on his own looking a little disoriented.  He watched me cautiously as I talked in a soft voice.  I told him I needed him to remain a gentleman and he curiously cocked his head and looked me in the eye.  I hoped we had reached an understanding and so far he has held up his end of the bargain.  I went out again a little later just to look in the window and he had snuggled right in with the older girls on their roost.  I was glad for that.

This way of doing things isn’t for everyone, nor is it emotionally easy, but for us, it is right.  When I think of how conventional meat ends up on the table the decision is easier.  This was not something we took lightly.  We are grateful for the meat, we are grateful for organic farming parents and friends who help and support us so fully along this path we are choosing.

go gently + be wonderful


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some days are better

Yesterday was restless and rough.  Paint smeared across furniture, Huck stealing homemade pizza from the counter top, and yarn unraveled.  T’was not a stellar day in my parenting career thus far, that is for certain.  It ended with me laying rumpled on our bed in a dark room wishing I was more patient; better; different.

Today has been better.  Christmas crafting, roughhousing and hugging, soup warming on the wood stove, and sitting cuddled under a creamy blanket watching The Sword in The Stone.  The tree line out front is hazed by heavy layers of falling snow.

I am looking forward to the slow days of our Christmas vacation; a visit to the farm (and if we’re lucky, a horse drawn sleigh ride), puzzles, books, afternoon coffee, all day snacking, perpetual Christmas movies and music, visitors, walks in the woods, campfires, sleeping in front of the fire, and gingerbread houses.

Yes, I intend to savour every little morsel of Christmas goodness because I know January, February, and March will be good, but oh so long.

In other news, I am very excited about what 2013 holds for my wee photography business.  I am feeling inspired and hopeful.  If you haven’t already, be sure to “like” my new Facebook page to learn about mini sessions and other updates.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to book a photo session for the new year.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Have a merry day, folks!

go gently + be wonderful


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christmas cabin

I am quite certain I will never tire of Christmases in this beloved little cabin.  The fire heats the entire original cabin portion of our house without much effort and the newer part, where our kitchen and main bath lives, is heated by baking, cooking and bubble baths only.  We are seeing just how long we can go without turning on our propane furnace.  We find ourselves in front of the fire most often.  The chairs we inherited from my grandmother have become worn with constant love and use.  We wake in the dark hours to light the fire and start the coffee.  We ease into our days.  Sometimes we are alone, but often Silas wakes in good humour and amuses us with his antics.  The spell is broken when Mike hops in the shower and I begin to iron his work clothes.

This will be our second Christmas in this house and it is in Winter that I fall more in love with her.  We made the short journey into our woods to pick out our Christmas tree.  It is always a bittersweet moment for me.  Felling a tree is no different to me than killing one of our chickens.  When we find the perfect one, we are always certain to say thank you and I can’t help but tear up a little.  This year’s was in a small cluster and I like to think the others around her will do better with less crowding, but I really don’t know.  To make me feel better, Mike tells me that it must be the highest honour for a tree to be chosen as a Christmas tree.  I wonder if it is up there with being a tree fort, holding a swing, or being known as the best climbing tree.  It is noble and important work.

We brought her in, turned on Elf and began to decorate her simply with orange slices, cinnamon stars, and sentimental ornaments first.  This year I put it in an oversized basket and love it so much more than the ugly tree stand that is always uncovered by children and cats alike.  We may have been a little hasty as it must last 4 weeks, but we so love the gentle glow a Christmas tree casts.  I could hardly wait ’till night to fall so I could run outside and look into the large windows.  Twinkle lights and tufts of smoke coming from the chimney.  The kids laughing and pressing the noses against the window wondering what their crazy mama was doing out in the snow.

Yes, I am fairly certain I will never tire of this; all of this.

go gently + be wonderful


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new rhythm + feeling festive

Since daycare officially ended a few weeks ago, I find our days have a new rhythm to them; slower; less frantic.  The kids have been getting along better and I often find them reading a book together or laughing hysterically at each other’s antics.  It’s good.

Yesterday I used the hot glue gun to attach cedar to cardboard wreath templates.  As I was explaining the importance of not touching the tip to avoid burning yourself to Poppy, I promptly burnt my thumb.  She gasped, kissed it, and asked if I would like a band aid on after a bath.  Later I had them sort through the cranberries by placing the mushy ones in a small dish and the good ones in a little pile for me to string onto baker’s twine.  I hung it in the kitchen and added the small cedar wreaths to it.   I hung more twinkle lights in our bedroom.  We rummaged around in the scrap pile for two good pieces of barn board and made a “be merry” sign as well as a “follow joy” sign.  I have no idea where I will hang them, but I like them.

Today we went on a hunt in the woods for leathery oak leaves, bits of cedar and spruce, feathers, birch paper, clumps of mossy and lichen, and pine cones to create a festive yet natural advent calendar I am so excited to create.   I was on the lookout for small pine and cedar saplings to transplant along our front fence.  I had never noticed the numerous saplings who had gathered at the feet of fallen or barren coniferous trees; as though to protect and pay their respects to a fallen elder.

We then released thousands of milkweed seeds into the air.  Much like the petals of a peony they remind my of frivolous and whimsical things.  Things like star dust and moon beams.  Seeds with wings, my goodness, it doesn’t get much better than that.  The sky is as pure a blue that ever was or will be and the sun friendly.

Of course Silas still throws down like a boss and Poppy still refuses (I mean refuses) to go on the potty, but I find myself more patient with it all.

Today I woke early and started a crock pot full of pulled pork with a made from scratch sauce.  If it tastes half as good as it smells we are in business.

The season of home and hearth is upon us and it is where I am most at ease.



go gently.  be wonderful + merry.


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a frosty morn

No matter how many times I waken to see hoar frost decorating the landscape, I can’t seem to resist the magic as it beckons me outside.  It is much like the first warm day of spring; the first crimson leaf spotted; or the first blanket of snow.  I had a craft that called for tiny bits of cedar so we bundled up and ventured out into the cool air to gather what we needed.  We wandered up into the woods and headed for the pond.  It really is the best way to start a day (when my overactive imagination doesn’t think about coyotes and bears that is).  The dogs raced back and forth.  Soma tends to go just out of view and that come crashing back out onto the path, but I noticed Huck would stop when he would get too far from us and sit looking back at us and in the direction Soma had gone.  It seemed like he didn’t want to leave us alone on the path.

We came back to a warm house warmed by fire (we have yet to turn on our propane furnace this season!) and scented with crock pot beef stew.  I opened the turquoise trunk that holds our Christmas decorations and began stringing lights around the perimeter of our front room while the kids squealed excitedly, pulling decorations from their safe places, and becoming tangled in tinsel.  I wrote “joyeux noel” with a chalk pen on the front window.

The rest of the day will be for making mini wreaths (if only I can find my glue gun), making date squares, and stringing cranberries.  Mike will come home to see twinkle lights in the windows and be greeted with warm stew and pastry ready for the table.  We will listen to Loreena Mckennitt’s Christmas music (and ,very likely, Silas’ post nap/ no nap tantrum.  We will bath the kids and then settle in a night in front of the fire.

Sometimes this life of one income and one car in the country can feel as though it is somehow lacking, but then there are days such as this, when it feels so utterly luxurious.


go gently + be wonderful


Also posted in craft, family, frugal living, homeschooling, life, our cabin, photography + writing, Uncategorized, wellness | 6 Comments