Category Archives: frugal living

3 of 12

Poppy

  • You’ve started to take it upon yourself to pick out your clothes for the day and proudly prancing downstairs to show us your choice of attire.  It is often on backwards, but the colours almost always coordinate.
  • You are going through a rather new phase as you become more a girl than a baby.  You put your hands on your hips a lot and are trying your hand at defiance.
  • You continue to adore Clementine and get lots of smiles out of her.
  • You continue to love painting and were inspired to paint some flowers.  We picked a flower book off the shelf and you spent most of an afternoon painting flowers.
  • You are quite enamored with your friends M and N.  You draw pictures of them and told me they are your sisters.  It’s lovely to watch you form bonds.
  • One morning you informed me that “Princesseses are so brave, and soo strong (said while flexing), and sooooo smart!”
  • You spent the better part of two days decorating a cardboard box with yogurt labels, glitter, glue, paper bits, twine, tennis balls, spoons, lids, and other random bits.  Then your dolls moved in and had a party.
  • When I put makeup on the other day, you exclaimed that I looked like a Bratz Doll.  Oh boy.
  • The other morning while Silas melted down, you donned my sunglasses, laid down on my yoga mat in a bean of sun with your arms folded behind your head and legs crossed while saying “Awwwwww, what a beeeeeautiful day!”.  Even though you’re more defiant than usual, you are still pretty easy going.

 

Silas

  • One of the most exciting developments is that you peed on the toilet for the first time on March 10th!  Since then you have been potty training and wearing big boy undies.  You have had two full days (going on three?!) with no accidents, consistently wake up dry, and tell us when you need to go.  We are all thrilled.
  • In the past few days, you’ve started showing interest in drawing things like treasure maps, lions, dinosaurs and even some letters!
  • Silas is already planning for his 4th birthday party…in September.
    Me: Who do you want to invite to your birthday party?
    Silas: The boys.
    Me: Why not the girls?
    Silas: Because they will ruin my party and eat all my cake.
  • Silas just woke up from a late afternoon nap. When I asked if he had a good sleep he nodded and said:
    “I had a dream about a super hero who saved a guinea pig and took him back with his mudder and daddy.”
    Then his tone changed to sadness “…and then I had a dream that I had no home and no daddy”
    I asked if that made him sad and he brightened, looked around, and gestured all around him “But this is mine home and daddy will be home soon.”
  • You make all sorts of demands requests for costumes, and things.  Roll the paper up like a map, build me a ship/car/truck/tiger/etc, make me a doggy’s tail, make me a mermaid tale, etc.  Most often it is ALL WRONG.  We’re working on the “I can’ts”.
  • The other morning we had the 90’s station playing on Songza and you broke into spontaneous dance and air guitar.  You always make us laugh.
  • You don’t often play with actual toys.  If I am ever missing a slotted spoon or spatula, I ask you first regarding its whereabouts…in fact, as I write this I can hear you clanging about in the kitchen making a robot face out of lids and butter knives…oh wait, now you’ve donned your pith helmet and are digging dinosaur bones with a ladle and spatula.

Clemmie

  • You’ve been sitting up on your own.
  • You continue to smile easily, but this week you have been hollering wildly until you’re in someone’s arms.
  • Our days have been demanding, but you’ve been waking less in the nights.
  • You are wearing 6-12 month clothes.
  • You tend to like your food with flavour such as cinnamon or thyme.
  • You love mushed brown beans.
  • Your hair continues to grow wilder by the day.
  • You are Daddy’s biggest fan when it comes to his ukulele playing.  You often cry when he stops playing.

Mama

  • I’ve cleaned off the desk by the wood stove to make space for the sewing machine and have high hopes of sewing a few of these pinafore dresses for me, as well as a couple reversible pinafores for the girls.  Like I said, high hopes.
  • Brainstorming ideas for article submissions.
  • Dreaming of a small addition to our small porch with a screened in area so we can sit outside in bug season.
  • Wondering when Old Man Winter will loosen his grip.  We are still buried in at least three to four feet of snow.
  • Wondering if I should even be posting this stuff on my blog.
  • Thinking a lot about breaking up with all the stuff and and finding balance in the online world.
  • Project333 seems like the perfect place to start.
  • I find myself fantasizing about calling 1-800-GOT-JUNK people and starting fresh.
  • Finding great comfort and clarity in Buddhist/Zen philosophy when it comes to daily work and the “point of pointlessness”.
  • Looking forward to doing more cooking with the kids each day/week.
  • I am compiling a playlist for jogging.
  • As the saying goes, “I was uncool before uncool was cool”, but I love me some catchy dance music.  This will be on said jogging list.
  • We’ve been making smoothies full of spinach and chia seeds and the kids gobble them up.  It helps me stay calm when they refuse to eat veggies at meal time.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in 52 portraits, craft, family, homeschooling, life, photography + writing, Uncategorized, wellness | Leave a comment

little bird turns five + two of twelve

 

 

 

This weekend we celebrated Poppy’s 5th birthday. Excuse the cliche, but my, oh my, where has the time gone?

On Valentine’s Day we went to watch the Lego Movie and pick up your requested birthday present; a Princess Anna dress.  On your birthday, we had planned to go for a play at the YMCA, but they were calling for freezing rain so we stayed local, picked up some party favours for your guests, made pizza at your request, and watched the Disney Planning DVD that arrived.

On Saturday, you finally got to wear your birthday party dress.  Clementine wore her Elsa outfit and Silas had to be bribed to wear his Kristoff/Hiccup outfit for a photo opp.  You spent the morning twirling and singing “It’s my BIIIRTHDAAAY!  It’s my BIIIRTHDAAAY!”,  “Happy Birthday to Poppy!” along with “Let it Goooooo” from Frozen and you could barely keep your fingers out of the frosted blue cake we made.

Soon the house was filled with friends and family dressed as fairies, princes, dinosaurs, unicorns, butterflies, and princesses.  Nana made a bunch of the cutest edible Olafs and brought fresh eggs for everyone to take home along with their party bags.  You were rather confused as to why people brought gifts and asked who they were for.  You were just so over the moon to have your dress and a house full of fun people.  There were a couple impromptu story times and a couple crazy accidents (a cracked rib and a somersault down the stairs, but everyone is recovering well).  Overall, it was a loud and happy time.  It felt like an important party for you; as though you suddenly went from being a baby to a little girl.  It made our hearts swell to see you so happy with your friends.

That night, and the next night,you slept in your party dress.  You finally took it off and wore jammies to bed last night.

  • Your love for your sister grows more intense with each day and you go to great lengths to get a giggle out of her.
  • I had no idea you found a bow tie I mad a few years ago and placed it on your kitty, but I got a good laugh when he sauntered out of the kitty litter box what had to be hours later, looking very dapper indeed.
  • You love reading the Scooby Doo books,  Jillian Jiggs Treasury, and the Robert Munsch treasury.
  • You love watching Barbie, Equestria Girls, Frozen, How to Train your Dragon, and Clifford.  You love playing with your growing collection of My Little Ponies, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Merida, Anna, Elsa, and Rainbow Dash.  (There is a sentence I never thought I’d be writing when my parenting adventure began!!)
  • You’ve been singing songs from Frozen nearly non-stop.  When I ask if you want to learn more of the words to it you say “No, you learn it.”.
  • You adore painting.
  • We discovered that your 6 year molar (46) is making an early appearance!
  • Last week, we traced your bodies and then drew onto your bodies whatever you pleased.  You gave yourself chicken pox, because you’re rather obsessed with drawing chicken pox.  You then drew the path your food takes through your body.  You asked me to draw a heart in your chest.
  • You love watching the Disney Planning DVD to see where the princesses and Captain Hook live.

  • You’ve always been one to prefer household objects to toys and I’ve started documenting your rather interesting and entertaining sleeping buddies and quotes.  It has turned into a little project that has been enjoyed on Instagram and Facebook.  Daddy and I decided if we were to ever create a book out of these pictures and conversations it would be called “Bed Folk + Pillow Talk with Silas”.
  • The other night, he wanted to sleep with Poppy. I thought it would be endless playing and giggling, but they fell fast asleep as soon as the lights were out. Silas hates it when the lights first go out and Poppy comforted him saying “it’s ok Silas, you can see me. I’m with you.” I love their love.
  • You really do say the darnedest things.  Here are a few more examples:
  • Silas: I was talking to The Perogie Man.
    Me: Who is the Perogie Man?
    Silas: Um, just the yummiest guy in the world.
  • Poppy: Mom, I want a brown baby.
    Me: Well, we don’t have brown skin so we can’t make a brown baby.
    Poppy: Oh, right. I love our baby.
    Silas: I want some brownies.
  • Me: Do you guys want some milk?
    Silas: Does it have Vitamin D in it?
    Me: Um, yes. I think so.
    Silas: Oh, great! I love Vitamin D.
  • You hate having your hair washed.  The other night you said you didn’t want your hair washed “…because it would turn into a girl’s hair”.  After it was washed, you were distraught that your hair “looked different now”.
  • Just yesterday morning, you woke up early with Daddy and wanted to wear some red mittens and a toque.  Once they were on you exclaimed “Look at me Daddy!  I’m gorgeous!”.
  • There is no jealousy or animosity, but you keep a safe distance from little Clementine.  Every once in a while I see you two sharing a flirty little smile though.
  • You love reading the Scooby Doo books, the Jillian Jiggs Treasury, and the Robert Munsch Treasury.
  • You love watching Equestria Girls, Clifford, How to Train Your Dragon, Clifford, Barbie, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Dinosaur Train.  You play with pretty much anything that isn’t technically a toy, but do enjoy playing imaginative games with Poppy.

  • You remain super happy even though I think your teeth are coming in and you have developed a rash/eczema on your back and tummy.  We are trying to get to the root of the rash, but can’t be sure yet.
  • You don’t often make strange with people.  You seem to take your time watching them carefully and then smile.
  • You usually wake 1-3 times in the night and nurse right back to sleep.
  • We finally captured some giggles on video.  It’s adorable.
  • You’re now wearing 6 month clothes.
  • We’ve started giving you little bits of food (the rash began before food was introduced), but you’re not overly enthused.
  • You love playing with the remote and crinkle-taggy blanket I made years ago.
  • You seem to have super human ab strength and can do a full sit up.

 

 

 

  • Mike saw a big moose sauntering down the middle of the road on his drive home one night.
  • We had our big load of logs delivered.  $875.
  • We’ve begun planning and saving for our Disney Trip 2017.  We are super excited.
  • We’ve begun working through a grade 4 french workbook to see what we remember.
  • Mike continues to enjoy playing his ukulele.
  • I am struggling to find my balance in many aspects of life.
  • I am starting to wonder if my hair will ever stop falling out.
  • In an act of self preservation, I am not allowing myself to even think about spring right now.
  • We are hoping to get a YMCA membership for the family.  It is over an hour away.
  • Our community is lobbying for a recreation center and indoor pool, but I won’t hold my breath.
  • Making plans to get the kids and I out of the house more often throughout the week.  I am thinking one day out locally (Early Years, Kinder Gym, etc), one day out in either Peterborough or Lindsay (Early Years, Chapters story time, YMCA drop in craft or gym time, groceries, YMCA land class etc.), and one day out as a family to do swimming lessons and other errands.
  • I don’t regret moving to the country, but I still struggle with feeling so isolated.
  • A second car is what dreams are made of.
  • In all honesty and if we had our time back, we would have approached my parents about buying a tiny plot on their farm, and built a tiny home so we could help with farm work and they could spend more time with the kids.
  • I often daydream about finding another family to build a tiny house in our woods so we could begin our own intentional village.
  • I made my first batch of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  It was delicious and simple.  A game changer.
  • I still hate meal planning.
  • I crave meditation and jogging.
  • I have grand plans of writing letters and sending care packages to friends and family.
  • I suck at blogging these days.
Also posted in 365 photo project, 52 portraits, celebration, family, feather + anchor, homeschooling, homesteading, life, our cabin, photography + writing, the anchor, Uncategorized, wellness | 4 Comments

foraging

Perhaps it is because we miss having a garden (some may even call it guilt for not putting in a garden).  Or it could be that it appears to be a bumper year for all the things that grow.  Or perhaps still, it is the most delightful warm Autumnal weather we’ve been experiencing since the deadly July heatwave.  Whatever the reason, we find ourselves pulled into the woods and trails in search of berries this summer more than ever.

Of course, we made batch upon batch of tasty apple butter in our first summer here, but the jars that weren’t eaten right away went bad.  There were a number of things we could have done wrong.  We could have tightened the rings too much, I am quite certain I heated the lids more than once, I washed the jars, but didn’t sterilize them, and lastly, I didn’t “process” them in a boiling bath after sealing.  We will do it differently this year with the help of Ashley English’s book  (in fact, her whole Homemade Living Series is a wonderful resource) and some diligence.

In June we picked and froze 15 quarts of organic strawberries from Ellenberger Organic Farm and made a wonderfully large jar of garlic scape pesto from the large bag of scapes they graced us with.  I made it just like a basil pesto and we ate it over pasta with tomatoes.  With the leftover scapes, I blended them in the food processor with olive oil and froze them in ice cube trays for cooking throughout the year.  It made about 35 cubes.

We own about 4 acres, but are surrounded by about 80 more which is owned by a lovely couple who only camp here a few time per year.  I have fond memories of picking the abundant blueberries while we visited Mike’s home of Newfoundland, so we were quite excited to find a couple handfuls along the shore of the pond a week or two ago.  They were no comparison to Newfoundland’s berries, but it was a bit like finding treasure.

We have both pin cherries and choke cherries here as well, but this is the first year they have produced like this.  Chokecherries don’t taste like much when eaten off the branch and the seed apparently contains cyanide, but when made into a jelly, they remind me of childhood and fall.  We were able to pick 3 quarts from the two small bushes behind the house and made 12 125 ml jars plus a pint.  We went by the book this time and they all sealed successfully.  We have plenty more on the property so another batch or two may be in order.   I think they will make nice Christmas gifts this year.

While picking the chokecherries we noticed crazy amounts of blackberries (or what we assume are blackberries) growing fairly low to the ground on what we assume to be young bushes.  We are a little unsure now as we found two types while we foraged for our dessert yesterday afternoon.  In abundance, we found the smaller berries low to the ground, but then we happened upon some larger/taller bushes with the more characteristic shape and size of blackberries.  Both taste similar, and both types came off with the rasp inside (unlike a black or red raspberry where the rasp is left on the bush).  No matter how you slice it, they tasted decadent, still slightly warm, atop our Kawartha Daily french vanilla ice cream.  The kids were in their glory despite the mosquitoes and scratchy bracken that was often taller than them.  Berry loving Poppy was especially happy to pick to her heart’s content which she quietly did while Silas made sticks into swords, put rocks in his basket, and saved himself the tedious task of picking the berries himself and thieved from mama and daddy’s baskets.  We covered a lot of ground and spent over an hour for only a quart and a half, but it was fun and we figure we’ll be going out each night for our dessert until they dry up.

The apples look a bit small, but oh so abundant and just beginning to blush.  We’ve purchased a clamping apple peeler, corer, and slicer in preparation for our apple-filled fall.

So though we may not have a garden this year, and though we’ve only made it to one farmer’s market this season, we are still enjoying the fruits of the season and we’re ever so grateful that so much of it has been found in our own backyard.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in celebration, earth's best sundays, ellenberger organic farm, family, homeschooling, homesteading, life, our cabin, wellness | 1 Comment

counting my blessings

Today we had planned to take the kids out to the free admission Peterborough Zoo and for ice cream.

Last night we found our car won’t start.

It isn’t the battery.

The car gods must have heard we are planning to trade in our car for a slightly larger family vehicle this Wednesday.

This sort of thing, this feeling of powerlessness and frustration, tends to send me in to a panicky tail spin.

Mike is piling and splitting wood to burn off the worry.

I thought it may be a good idea to count my blessings and compile a short list of what I am grateful for.

 

  • We are all healthy and well.
  • Two vibrant, happy children and another on the way.
  • Mike’s wonderful job with wonderful benefits.
  • Our house in the country.
  • I get to be a stay at home mom and homeschool.
  • Poppy’s empathy/sympathy and resislient nature, wild hair, and sticky-uppy toes.
  • Silas’ intensity, eyebrow playing, story telling ways.
  • All of our secondhand furniture.
  • Free Slacker Radio (specifically the Billie Holiday and Classic Country Station).
  • A freezer full of organic beef, pork, homemade quiche, and corn.
  • Well stocked cupboards.
  • Our line of credit which saves us in situations such as this.
  • Being able to pay our bills.
  • Our large front gate is finally fixed.
  • The wood pile (that will keep us warm next winter) is slowly getting sawed, split, and piled by this wicked cool husband of mine.
  • Only using 2-3% of our propane tank last winter.
  • Our Hydro bill equal billing is going down.
  • I found a way to shave $411 off our yearly home insurance premium.
  • After much debate and research, we will be getting a white 2013 Nissan Rogue on Wednesday with a fair trade in price for our Versa.
  • New cars, their warranties, and all their new bits and perks.
  • Pachouli perfume.
  • When Silas farts and grins a surprised grin while saying “Oops!  I burped in my pants”.
  • The return of our “honey bird” (hummingbird).
  • Winnie the Pooh movies.
  • The lilacs and peonies and apples that grow around our house.
  • The two chickadees flitting about in the cedar tree as I write this.
  • Nag Champa.
  • I finally reached the bottom of dirty clothes mountain and found that was in fact the horrible smell lingering in our front room…ahem.
  • Our two clothes lines.
  • Every month, we get a little further out of debt…most of the time.
  • Our interest free loans from parents.
  • Friends.
  • That the kids’ adoration and excitement for dandelions exceeds even my own.
  • Being able to (slowly) build a new website and facebook page for Ellenberger Organic Farm.  They help us in so many ways and we enjoy being able to pay them back in tiny tokens such as this…until we can pay them back for real.
  • My anchor.
  • Kind cottaging neighbours who don’t get mad when Huck goes for a swim at their cottage and tears around like an idiot.
  • Our abundance of eggs.
  • Lemon meringue pie.
  • Play sand.
  • Netflix.

I know I am just scratching the surface here, but it does make me feel better.

Now, a no complaining + no whining policy is in effect for the rest of the day.

I swear.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

 

Also posted in ellenberger organic farm, family, homeschooling, homesteading, life, our cabin, the anchor, wellness | 4 Comments

what january taught me + thirty one

So far, I have really been enjoying the 365 photo project.  It has pushed me to blog words I didn’t think I had and it has been healthy and  liberating allowing myself to write about the little things.  If you have not already, I encourage you to give it a shot and leave a link in the comments if you feel so inclined.

Yesterday also marked the end of our first month of serious budget living.  It was an event that was more empowering than I had first thought possible.  We did very well and managed to cut our grocery bill nearly in half while also paying a substantial amount down on our line of credit.  We also managed to stay out of overdraft for the entire month.  Instead of feeling poor, we feel rich.  Who would have thought it!?

This budget and having time to really look at my relationship with shopping has really begun to shake me down.  I have been wanting to go through my over stuffed closet and reduce my clothes DRASTICALLY to about 20 beloved and classic items.  I linked to this image a week ago and have been wondering if I could be ruthless enough to do it.  I know it is time to let go of all those jeans I wore when we began dating nearly 10 years ago.  I would also love to let go of the giant clothes I wore during my pregnancies; you see, instead of buying proper maternity clothes I just bought big things and looked like a house because of it (Oh how very thrifty of me).  There are clothes that are just a smidge too small or unflattering or uncomfortable, but I hold onto them because I like the colour, the fabric, or the quality or even have a memory attached to it.  I am thinking  I could sort it, put it all in bags and then hide it in our loft for a few weeks.  If something haunts me, I can dig it out, but if I can’t remember or don’t miss it, it is time to let friends pick out what they’d like and then cart it off to the local charity thrift store.  I think I am ready.

Yesterday, our basement/crawl space flooded.  At first we thought it was due to the insane January downpour we had the day before, but it turns out it was a clogged drainage pipe from our washing machine.  At any rate, it was enough to drive us both to distraction.  It made me really question why we even keep all that stuff hidden away.  It just allows us to continue to hold onto things that no longer serve us well.  We forget we have the items or we forget where they are and then buy new items only to find duplicates a year later.  Well, we managed to purge a good car load full of stuff yesterday and have a lot more to purge.

When Mike and I moved in together, I had never really lived on my own except for the 8 months I spent in a dorm room at college whereas he had already been on his own for years.  I arrived with a giant Uhaul truck full of things while everything he owned fit into his little Honda Civic hatchback.  We are very different people when it comes to stuff.  I am a nester; a collector; the safe one.  He, on the other hand, forms no attachment to his things, but had dropped everything so he could live in Uganda for 6 months before we had met.  I know now who had the better stories to tell.  I think, after nearly 10 years, we are about to find a happy middle ground.

We have all heard the quote ““Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”, but I think is time to really start living by those words.  Our house would not be considered “tiny living” at 1700 square feet, but we would like to start living by smaller means.  It is very true that the more stuff you have the more time you spend fretting over losing it, cleaning it, rearranging it, and maintaining it.  I get what the monks are trying to tell us now.  This may sound extreme to some, but the truth is, we ate better this month on nearly half of what we were spending in previous months, and I think we could be very happy with less, but higher quality stuff.

So yes, I feel motivated, hopeful, and even a little shaken up (in the best sort of way) by this budget adventure.  It is motivating to see that it is possible to stay out of overdraft and not have to dip into a line of credit.  It makes me hopeful that we can have the things we want (it may just take a little longer) and that by me saving  us money in the kitchen, it is just as good as me making money.  I am shaken up when I think of how I have filled small voids in my own landscape with things and shopping.

It’s time to get ruthless.  Will you join me?

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

 

Also posted in 365 photo project, life, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

twenty four + the beauty products, recipes + methods i love

Since moving to the country I go out into the world a lot less.  Since there isn’t even the off chance that I might run into the mail lady, I find I put less and less into my appearance and wardrobe.  At first it was liberating, but I have grown tired of always looking like a rumpled rag.

Every morning I think it will be the morning that I get myself into the shower before Mike leaves for work, but I always find something else to tidy or it is just too damn cold.  This morning, though, I forced myself into the rather unwelcoming shower stall; the worst part is always the wall of ice that smacks up against you just after shutting off the water and opening the glass door.  Once I had some warm layers on again I felt so much better.  I know, I know, poor little Muffin and her First World problems!  😉

Now, I love a good jammie day just as much as the next person; probably even more so.  But I have noticed a marked improvement in my mood, patience, productivity, and general well being when I take that 20 or 30 minutes of self care each morning.

I used to be a bit of a product whore.  I loved going to the drug store to find new products that would make my hair shinier, my skin dewier, and my eyes poppier.  I have admitted to you on many occasions just how much I enjoy shopping and browsing, but in the last few years I have really begun to think about the nasty, carcinogenic crap they put in our products and have made it a goal to remove it from our home.  I have found wonderful replacements for pretty much everything, but my hair products.  I often have people ask me what  products I use and have been meaning to make a post telling you just that for quite some time.  To cram it into this post feels quite suitable, no?

Shampoo + Conditioner:  Let me first tell you that I have insanely thick hair which has natural loose curls.  My favourite product is Dove, but they still test on animals and contain all the usual chemicals so I try to buy the products not tested on animals.  I have tried going “poo free” in which I used baking soda, water and apple cider vinegar and I thought I liked it until I caved about a month and half in and washed my hair with real shampoo and it felt like my scalp could breathe again.  I have tried pretty much every natural product out there, but it always makes it feel heavy, frizzy, or just unclean.  I am not quite so picky about my conditioner and do like Nature’s Gate.

Mousse: Again, I have tried all the natural brands in hopes of finding something that makes my hair work, but my favourites are Herbal Essences or Dove though they are, once again, full of chemicals and tested on animals.  I even boiled flax seeds in hopes of using the gloopy bi-product for hair gel.  It was nasty and turned really fast.  I am still searching.

Hair Dryer:  I use a  Barbar Ceramic hair dryer (I bought it a couple years ago with a free shipping and 60% off coupon).  I also have a CHI hair straightener which I bought on clearance when we were a dual income household.  It is covered in hideous skull and crossbones, but the colour just wasn’t worth paying a premium.  I only use it when I have bangs..

Moisturizer:  For the body I like to use my homemade sugar scrub in the bath or shower which removed the need to moisturize afterwards.  For my face, I mix a little cocoa into my Green Beaver facial moisturizer to create a chemical free, sun free self tanner because I am of the opinion that everyone looks best with a little tan (how very 1980’s of me).

Face Wash:  Water.  Though I have heard good things about the oil cleansing method.  I use Witch Hazel as a toner.

Lips: I use my homemade lip balm and am wanting to try a decent DIY lip stain for the days I need a little colour.

 Makeup:  I am a minimalist when it comes to makeup.  Nearly everything I would use (mascara, eyeshadow, and eye liner) was in this kit for 24.99 at our local-ish health food store and sometimes I will use their subtle blush for these white wintry days.  I feel better when I wear a touch of makeup, but usually only where it when I leave the house.

Toothpaste:  As a formal dental hygienist, I feel a little torn about the whole fluoride controversy.  In an ideal world we wouldn’t need it and everyone would eat whole foods and have impeccable oral hygiene, but that just isn’t the case.  I don’t believe it should be in our drinking water.  We have been using this toothpaste for nearly 2 years and love it.

Deodorant:  I will only use the very best homemade deodorant ever created.  Some people say it can stain your clothes if you dress right after, but I have never found that.  Some people think baking soda contains aluminum, but apparently it is our baking powder that we should be looking more closely at.  If you’re still unsure, just get the aluminum free stuff like I did before I read that post.

Baby Wash/Shampoo – If you’re like me, you thought you were safe buying the unscented baby shampoos, but they contain all the shitty chemicals our stuff contains so I stopped buying it.  First I stopped washing Poppy’s curly hair and just used a tiny bit of conditioner, but when I ran out of that I just started wetting and/or brushing her hair at bath time each night and it is just the same.  I don’t even have to brush Silas’ hair.  You’d think their hair would stink or get oily, but it never does.  I just use homemade soap that I always seem to have given to me as gifts.

Bubble Bath:  Bubble bath just isn’t bubble bath without Sodium Lauryl Sulphate.  So I try to use epsom salts and essential oils instead, but I miss my bubbles.

Perfume/Cologne:  Pachouli has always been my scent and I have never ever been able to use anything but the more beyond The Body Shop’s perfume oils (I am sure they contain just as many chemicals.  Also they don’t make them anymore).  I have not bought new perfume in years, but when my oils run out I will just use Pachouli.  Mike has been saying he’d like a signature scent; something that when the kids smell it they think fondly of their daddy and his love. I am hoping one of these recipes will fit the bill.

Laundry Soap: I love this homemade recipe, but when I don’t have all the ingredients on hand or just don’t feel like taking the time, I use Ecos Laundry Soap.

 

There you have it.  My biggest pet peeve is when something doesn’t do what it it supposed to do so these are the recipes, products and methods I have found to be better for us, the earth, and are actually effective.  I have started a Pinterest board where I will be pinning recipes and ideas I would like to try so if you’d like to see more of what catches my eye, feel free to follow me.

What are your tried and true recipes, methods, and products?  What little things make a big difference in your day?

 

go gently + be wonderful

e

 

Also posted in 365 photo project, life, recipes, tutorials + DIY, wellness | 13 Comments

twenty one + more homeschool musings

This week I plan on spending some time with the many homeschooling books and resources I have accumulated over the past 4 years or more.  Homeschooling has been something I have wanted to do since well before we even had children.  I have never wavered from that decision, but that does not mean I am not slightly intimidated by it.

We have a pretty great and active homeschooling group in our area that continues to grow and grow.  What I love about it is that we all have different styles, practices, and ideas.  We have artists and homesteaders, former dental hygienists, and former teachers; there is Waldorf and Montessori, project based, and unschooling.  We all have different strengths and that is important.

The more I read about unschooling, the more I feel pulled in that direction.  That being said I was conventionally schooled and struggle a little bit with the level of trust that it requires.  I strongly believe that children have an innate yearning to learn and that when it is done at their pace and in accordance with their interests it can be magic.

Our plan, thus far, is to do a combination of homeschooling and unschooling.  I am sure many hardcore unschoolers would argue that isn’t unschooling at all, but to each their own.  I think when I say unschooling most people get their hackles up thinking it is irresponsible or neglectful, but I define it as placing topics and learning opportunities in the child’s path and following their lead to facilitate their learning. We will use the Ontario Curriculum as a guideline for where we should be focusing our attention and to know what skills they will very likely have by the end of that time frame.  Our goal is to hold ourselves loosely to these guidelines and be patient where we are behind and celebrate where we are excelling.  Instead of having really formal learning sessions I prefer the idea of passive learning though daily objects and activities.  We hope to arrive at the same destination by taking side roads, short cuts and long cuts, and of course by enjoying some unscheduled tangents.  In Ontario, they have introduced full day kindergarten starting at the age of 4 which has been controversial to say the least.  If we were sending Poppy to school, she would be starting in September 2013 at the age of 4.5 and Silas would begin in September 2014.

Poppy has known her colours, numbers and letters since about 18 months, but her speech was very slow to come.  Silas on the other hand, has very little interest in letters and numbers, knows his colours, and he has had a crazy vocabulary beginning before he was 1.  One of my favourite sentences he said was at about 18 months: “I’m’a go outside now.  Where’s mine yellow shoes is?”.  Poppy’s first real sentence came when she was about 2 years and 3 months: “Chicken eggs all gone.”  They each have their own strengths and they both continue to make progress.

Science and geography and even math don’t worry me half as much as teaching them the important and life changing art of reading.  I have no memory of learning how to read, so it seems like such an abstract thing to teach and learn.  I have recently picked up a few varied resources to help me learn how to effectively teach it to them when they are ready.  My worry is not that they will not learn it, but that I will not be able to teach it when the time arrives.  The books I have, specifically focused on reading, writing and a little math include: Learning Essentials by the Canadian Curriculum Press (purchased at Costco); Teaching Writing in Kindergarten by Randee Bergen; The New Kindergarten by Constance J. Leuenberger; ABC fun + 123 by Shirley Erwee.  I will take what I feel will be best from each of these and use what the kids seem to enjoy most.

I recently had the opportunity to discuss the Oak Meadow Curriculum (Grade 1) with one of our homeschool mamas and loved how they taught math in the form of memorable stories.  I felt that it would be a great and effective way to learn math when the interest bubbles up.

I think I am a perfect fit for homeschooling because I feel my learning style was never quite suited to the way school does it and I struggled because of that.  I learn best from interesting stories, enthusiasm, interest, and from doing.  Fractions never really made sense until I started baking and cooking, building things myself, and cutting my own real pies.  I think I will be teaching many things over the years that never quite clicked for me back in the day and will have some “Aha moments” of my own in the process.

Children are in school for many hours per day, but I have talked with homeschooled kids, homeschooling moms, and even teachers who admit that the amount of learning done in the classroom could be accomplished in much less time at home.  They can then follow their own interests in whatever direction they see fit with the rest of their days.  In my mind this is the very best of both worlds.

Of course, we are just young pups in this long journey, but these are our goals and ideas today.  I am so grateful that homeschooling is a viable option for us in this great country.  I am grateful that we can live quite well on one income despite our debts and bills. I am grateful that we can ease into our day and it is me who gets to learn along side our children.  I am grateful for a very local and vibrant community of homeschoolers despite how remote we are.  I am grateful for endless internet resources and that I can connect and pull from even more blogs and blog readers such as your lovely selves.

It has been a constant struggle for me to find a rhythm that works for us, but I am going to try again.  It all feels a bit frantic still as the kids are on completely opposite sleeping schedules so we start off kilter.  My ideal day would look something like this:

6am – everyone up – breakfast and coffee all together

7am – brush teeth, showers, get dressed, brush hair, make beds, quick tidy of rooms

8am – 9am – free play, snuggles, quietly ease into the day

9am – outside time or yoga for cold and rainy days

9:45 -10:30 – free play

10:30 – snack time

11:00 – free play while I prepare  lunch

12:00 – lunch time

12:30 – story time, finger plays, singing, etc

1pm – movie time (Silas will often fall asleep at this time)

2pm – drawing, letters, numbers, colours, art, painting, craft, play dough, workbooks if interested

3pm – baking with mama (muffins, bagels, pitas, bread, cookies, etc) or more outside time

4pm – movie, free play, etc while I prepare supper

5pm – Mike home, eat supper

5:30pm –  clean up, dishes, wipe tables and counters, tidy kitchen

6pm – bath

6:30 – Daddy time -chasing, hiding, squealing, reading fun books on the iPad.  Mama can crochet or blog

7pm – Evening snack and brush teeth

7:30 – If Silas did not nap, he will be ready for bed now.

Poppy free play or movie while Daddy practices the guitar (or works from home)

8:30 – Reading with Poppy (and Silas if he is still awake) – A chapter book like Little House or other classics

9pm ’till we crash pm – guitar, crochet, blog, watch tv, etc.

 

The truth is, the days are long and there are  a lot of hours to fill.  I feel guilty every time I write down tv time, but in order to do this alone everyday and make all of our meals from scratch it is necessary to keep the kids from climbing the counters.  I try to involve them where possible of course, but sometimes I just need/want to do it alone.  We don’t have cable, but we have Netflix and many movies and programs on DVD.  The favourites include The Magic School Bus, Go, Diego, Go, Sesame Street, Scarytown Mysteries, and Poppy enjoys the BBC animal shows and has taken quite an interest in the planet and Universe shows as well.  They say any TV is bad TV, but they also told me I would have difficulty bonding with and breastfeeding my c-section babies so I tend to follow my gut on this one.  They do learn from and interact with these shows.  I am working on letting go of the TV guilt because I am doing this alone so many hours of the day without a car and I need breaks that can give me the patience I need to make it through the week.
We are also planning at least one day during the work week in which we head out to friends’ houses,  into town, or have friends in for the better part of a day for play, crafts, and food.
What do or did your homeschooling days look like when your kids were preschool age?  What resources were your favourites?  Anything you’d like to share or add to the discussion?  Feel free to share!
Also posted in 365 photo project, family, homeschooling, life, Uncategorized | 18 Comments

fifteen

My daily photos have been a bit dark and moody of late so today I thought I would search for a bit of light…they are still a bit moody though, no?

I spent the morning emptying jars, dishes, and piggy banks full of change and sorting it into bags with the kids.  They enjoyed seeing it all in a great mound on our coffee table.  We have been robbing from and adding to these various containers for years now, but never had the gumption to actually sort the small stuff, but boy am I ever glad I did!  So far the tally is $226.75, one washer, three buttons, 3 beads, one pretty silver ball, 2 screws, one nail, three pieces of sea glass, one earring, one butterfly hair clip, one guardian angel medallion, two staples, and one broken gold plated chain.  I am most excited about the $226.75, the pretty silver ball and the sea glass.  I have not even begun counting the bag of nickels nor the 2 bags of pennies.

Today I learned that nickels and dimes can work for you just as easily as they can work against you.  We don’t often have bigger clumps of money like this in our hands so I see something rather frivolous in our near future, and I can’t help feeling a touch guilty for it.

Supper is made, a new batch of sprouts have been started, the kids are happily playing, we found another egg in the nesting box, I unplugged the toilet that had been plugged for two days (I am a master of such things so when I can’t get it in two flushes we start to worry about what has found its way into it, especially now that the kids have constant access to the bathroom), it is ever so gently snowing, the dogs and cats are sleeping, the fire is burning, the walls are painted, and I found $226.75 in our…couch cushions, if you will.

All that and we still have two hours to spend before Mike gets home.  I think Paris is calling my name.

How has your day been?

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in 365 photo project, life | 1 Comment

thirteen

Hot chocolate in my coffee

work for mike

a trip to the hardware store

a pretty new paint colour with a rather disappointing  name

rock cookies

chicken pot pie from one of our very own chickens

more rain

more of the same

hunkering down

Our thoughts have been occupied with our newly implemented budget.  We sway back and forth between feeling empowered and hopeful to tired and a little sad.  The good news is that the money is there for us if we use it wisely.   We are so glad that me staying home is even a viable option; I know so many people would love to be home, but simply cannot make ends meet.

I found this blog while searching for ways to stretch our dollars and for about 15 minutes we thought maybe we could really hunker down and get ourselves out of debt.  Then we realized we are already bare bones with the only place to cut the fat being in our groceries, fuel, and “entertainment” ($100 – so far our entertainment includes paint and a fire detector).  It would be years and years before we saw the light of day and it would be a miserable existence.  All that to say we will be taking all our monthly disposable income and laying it down on our line of credit for the next several months.  After that is cleared, it will be going into our savings and paying off our freezer full of organic grass fed meat.  We also have a truck load of wood and a chainsaw to buy as well as our income tax coming due from my adventure into home childcare.

The budget means cutting the tiny bits of fat most people wouldn’t think twice about.  Reducing grocery trips to the larger town a little over an hour away to 2 times rather than 3 or 4 times per month.  It quickly becomes clear why going into the grocery store less is just better.  Mike is capable of going in with blinders and only getting the milk or onions whereas I get creative and think of the possibilities.  It means making our food from scratch.  It means using electricity less.  Ultimately, it translates into me staying home more and spending even more time in the kitchen.

Anyone who knows how much time I spend in the house as it is may think that is ludicrous to spend more time at home, but it is a reality and I am preparing myself for it.  I need to switch my perspective a bit.  I think I have a higher than normal tolerance for being home and being alone so it shouldn’t be too hard.

I really like being home, but Ido need a few things for it to be more sane:

1) I need a project to do; big or small, just something that makes me feel productive.

  • painting nearly every surface in the house within an inch of its life
  • reorganizing the cupboards
  • baking/meal prep
  • planning and implementing a functional pantry space
  • meal planning
  • sewing
  • repairing, patching, and slipcover-ing our furniture
  • painting or drawing
  • reading
  • knitting and crocheting
  • blogging
  • art
  • jewelry making
  • etc

2) I need a shower – it makes me feel more productive, more pulled together, and less grumpy/disgusting

3) I need my house to be pretty and cozy (which goes hand in hand with number 1).

4) I need something other than kid’s movies to watch especially in the winter.  This one is hard to admit, but I miss watching things like Martha Stewart and would also love to watch things that we can all learn from like BBC programs, documentaries etc {this isn’t to say we don’t watch things like Shameless, Californication, and The Dragon’s Den when we can}.  We are looking into ways of doing this without cable (we have not had cable for nearly 5 years!) and may be able to do something with some Christmas money and dip into our entertainment budget.

5) Adult interaction.  Lots of options here between friends and homeschool meet ups, I just have to plan things out, and firm up plans more often rather than just saying, with good intentions, “We should totally get together!”.  This also means embracing social media like Instagram and Facebook.  I often wonder why I post pictures of random things for no real reason, but I do it to connect to the good people who may live far away or that I simply don’t get to see a lot.  It staves off the crazies more times than not and can pull me back from the edge when Silas gets an early start on his throw-downs.

To some of you this may sound perfectly normal and realistic while others may think we are insane for not just doing things normal-like.  send the kids to daycare and then school while we both work.  Not only is it not how we wish to do things for a number of personal reasons, but there are high costs to that as well.  The truth is that some days are hard and even boring, but then I think about going back to a job that I hated and spending much less time with my kids, and my perspective is regained.  I would rather do tedious and sometimes mundane tasks for these two little bosses than for a stranger, besides they pay me well in cuddles and say way funnier things.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in 365 photo project, family, homeschooling, homesteading, life, Uncategorized, wellness | 17 Comments

day five of 365

While I contemplated selling a tantruming Silas to the gypsies, Poppy woke up slowly and quietly just as she always does

Each lovable and perfect in their own way

2 weeks of grocery shopping on a budget

chopping, packing and freezing our fruits and veggies while chatting, laughing, and listening to CBC radio

bed.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

 

 

Also posted in 365 photo project, family, life | 2 Comments