Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lighting the Quiet Moments

The last couple of months have been busy, wonderfully busy but busy.  Then came my two favourite days of the year -- the anticipation of Christmas Eve followed by a chaotic Christmas morning and a peaceful Christmas day and  evening.

Now the year is winding down.  As we prepare for a new year, I realize just how much I enjoy the last week of the old year.  I enjoy the lack of schedule to our days while at the same time returning to a slower rhythm.  Late, slow mornings spent enjoying an extra cup of coffee and another chapter in my book.  A mug of tea and knitting in the evening.  Moments of making throughout the day for no other reason than the making itself.

Several weeks ago, inspired by the shorter days and longer nights, the idea to make a simple beeswax candle popped into my head.  So while I prepared for the holidays, this idea was in the back of my mind.  What will I use for a mold?  How big should I make the candle?  A couple of days ago, armed with beeswax and an idea, I made myself a little candle.


A candle in a cup with which to light the winding down moments of my year.  I hope a little light is shining on you all as you say good bye to one year and welcome another.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Wookie Christmas Wish

While the wookies wait impatiently for Christmas morning to meet the boys, we wanted to take this moment to wish you all the very best for the holiday season.   I will return later next week.  Until then, may you all find many peaceful, happy moments in the coming days.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Old Tradition Continues

We managed to set aside some time a couple of weekends ago to decorate the tree.  We all felt it was time for the tree.  At the same time, the other boxes of decorations were taken out of storage, hopeful that they would soon decorate our home.  Alas, they have remained in boxes in the kitchen since then, a reminder of how little free time I seem to have.  Well, yesterday, on our way upstairs to read a book, I glimpsed the boxes.  As soon as I opened the first box, Quinn was hooked and we finished our decorating.

As I put away the last box, I looked around, thinking that something was missing.  I went back to the storage closet and found one last box.  Once this jolly little guy had made his appearance, then I knew everything was complete and the Christmas season had truly arrived.

I don't think I would be exaggerating if I said this Santa was at least 60 years old.  He originally belonged to my grandmother.  Each Christmas, when my grandmother was ready to decorate, my mother would climb up into the attic and carry down the boxes of decorations.  I would wait for him and for a few precious minutes, i was allowed to hold him gently and play with him before he went to his place.  Everything had a place, you know. His happened to be overlooking the living room and there he would stay until January 6, what is referred to as Old Christmas Day in Newfoundland.  On that day, all the decorations would come down and i would have a few more minutes to say good-bye to him until the next year.  When my grandmother passed away a few years ago, i asked my family if anyone would mind if I had the Santa.  No one did and he continues to be a part of my Christmas traditions.

And yes, he sits on a shelf overlooking our living room until January 6th.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fleeting Moments

Alone in the house this afternoon, I decided to grab a coffee, my book and have a hot bath.  Because dishes and to-do lists will always be there.  A quiet house?  Now that is fleeting.

Monday, December 12, 2011

By the Light of a New Tradition

A new family tradition began yesterday.  It's funny how sometimes you know you have started a family tradition right from the first time it happens.

Before the boys were born, we made the decision to have a real tree each Christmas.  I love that each Christmas, even though the ornaments remain the same, the tree is unique.  We have since bought our trees from local tree lots.  Often the trip to get the tree has been squeezed in between other activities with some kind of dead line looming.  Often a little rushed.  One such trip found us out one cold, cold evening with me four months pregnant.  man, it was cold and when we arrived home, we realized that we had chosen an extremely small tree. I was taller than the tree by several inches.  We received more than a little friendly jibbing from family members that year.  Since men do not always take kindly to being associated with small things, our trees since that little one have not lacked in size.  This year's is no difference.  It's huge.  Anyways, back to yesterday.

Instead of our typical rushed tree trip, we decided to carve out a little more time in our weekend and do it properly.  Off we went for a drive out to a local tree farm to cut our own tree.  The boys loved it.  Walking to the field, choosing the perfect tree, helping daddy drag the tree to the car and hot chocolate.    By bedtime last night, our tree was fully decorated.  Some branches may be more fully decorated than others but that's what makes each Christmas tree unique.

I love the light of a Christmas tree.  From the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I go to bed each night, our tree remains lit.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Clearing the Air

The above photo was taken on my way to my final craft show of the season last weekend.  I was running late.  I usually am but I wanted to stop and take this photo.  What can I say?  I love Canadian geese.  Anyways, it was a good craft show season.  I enjoyed it immensely and was able to see my little soap "thing" grow, just a little.  Let's just say that my soaps and I are strolling down a good path.  (Yes, that's right.  I'm referring to my soaps as if they are companions.)  Having said that, I am a little happy that the craft show season has come to an end.  It was busy and sometimes consuming.  I spent many Saturdays away from my family, something I'm not used to doing.  I am now ready to take a breather and enjoy the company of my little men even when it involves them hanging off a piece of furniture.   (It often does involve such monkey-ish  behaviour.)  I am ready to decorate for Christmas.  (First, I have to clean the house because the house doesn't clean itself.  heck, i don't clean the house but it's got to be done.)  I am ready to think about the making of things.  'Tis the season, after all.   

Don't get me wrong.  There is still soap activity happening --  orders to get ready and soap to make.  I love preparing each order -- wrapping the soap, choosing samples, visiting the post office.  I have a beer in the fridge that is waiting to be made into a shampoo bar and I fear it won't wait forever but it can wait until tomorrow.  Any soap I make now won't be ready until the new year and there is something satisfying about that thought.   It makes me think of what the new year may have in store for us.

I think I may be rambling now.  I haven't been as present in this space as I would like and I am looking forward to being more present.  Sometimes being more present means rambling a little first to clear the air.  Let's consider the air cleared.     

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Putting Pen to Paper

I have never been one to make lists.  Just didn`t like them.  It helped that I seemed to be able to remember things.  Even in university, I knew when essays and projects were due.  Call it a gift.  And then I got pregnant.  Am I correct in assuming you have heard of pregnancy brain?  Not only did dates and appointments make a quick exit from my brain, so did words, simple everyday words.  Babbling idiot at times, I tell ya.  But still  no lists.

Fast forward to this fall.  My memory has't improved but the amount of things that need to be done certainly has.  So a few weeks ago, I broke down one morning and grabbed a scrap of paper.  Jotted down a few things I needed to do that day, things that couldn't slip my mind like they had the day before.  Now here's the shocker.  The list worked.  It worked, I tell ya.  I emailed my brother-in-law.  I made soap.  I did all kinds of things.  i even added yoga to the list and guess what?  I did yoga!  This list thing is amazing.  Where has it been all my life?!  It is revolutionizing my days.  Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration but I do feel a little more in control.  And a little more control is definitely something I am needing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas Preparations

We are not yet in full-blown Christmas mode but I definitely hear the pitter patter of little elf feet.  Letters to Santa are being written.  The countdown to the beginning of Advent has begun.  Paper snowflakes are being cut.  A lot of paper snowflakes.  The goofy singing and dancing Snoopy  is out.  The snowman and dog will be out soon.  Oh, and the outdoor Christmas lights are up and on.  Yep, we are getting pumped.

I thought it only fitting to design and make a couple of Christmas soaps as well.  My first Christmas soap is my Gingerbread soap.

Gingerbread soap is scented with ginger, clove and cinnamon essential oils with a dash of vanilla for sweetness and topped off with a drizzle of "icing."

My second Christmas soap was inspired by childhood tales/threats of stockings  containing only a lump of coal in the toe, or in some cases, a turkey leg.  I didn't really want to make a turkey scented soap and so Lump of Coal was born.

Lump of Coal is scented with peppermint and vanilla and coloured with activated charcoal.

In other soap news, I delivered my first wholesale order to a local pharmacy earlier this month.  The owner is a very nice woman and a fellow soap lover and I am very excited to have my soaps available in her store.  Would it be weird to go visit my soaps?  I just want to see how they look.  However,  a part of me is afraid to go.  What if no one is buying them?   Insecurity certainly does play a number with one's head, doesn't it?    

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Knitting for My Boys

Winter, if not yet knocking on our door, is definitely walking up the front steps.  Although I may not be emotionally ready for it this year, as far as wardrobe is concerned, the boys are ready for it this year.  Mittens.  Check.  Neck warmers.  Check.

I do believe his mittens are on the wrong hands.

Knitting for the boys was a much easier task than taking pictures of those hand knits on said boys.  Quick and dirty photo session.

For those of you interested, the neck warmers were knit using Amanda's Wintry Weather Cowls pattern found in her latest book The Rhythm of Family.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All to Ourselves

This year, I find I am not mentally prepared for the oncoming winter.  Maybe the mild fall which has continued into November hasn't helped but I have witnessed the foreshadowing of winter.  As a result, I find I am taking advantage of such days whenever we can.  Yesterday, Quinn and I made a trek to a local conservation area.  I am not exaggerating when I say that, aside from a few staff members, we were the only people there.  We had the whole place to ourselves.

The dark corners of the play barn seemed a little darker yesterday, without other children running around.  Quinn: "I'm a little sad there are no other children."  That didn't stop him from enjoying the zip line.

We enjoyed getting up close (but behind enclosures) with the various birds of the raptor centre who are there for rehabilitation.  I had an interesting encounter with a bald eagle who took an instant dislike to me.  Without getting into details, those birds can be intimidating.  Quinn told me to stop doing whatever it was I was doing to upset the bird but I swear, I wasn't doing anything.  I can still feel its eyes staring at me, as it moved closer to the barrier.  A little unnerving but amazing to be in its presence.

More exploring . . .

Many wishes for November days spent exploring.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Playing Hooky

Yesterday, the boys and I played hooky.  I used Keegan's slight morning cough as an excuse but really, everyone was fine.  We just all wanted a day without obligations.  Lots of playing.  A little crafting.  Reading.  And a hike.  It was unseasonably warm for November and we took advantage of it.  Warning:  In the following photos, you may see children who "hate hiking."  Don't be fooled by their smiles.  They really didn't enjoy themselves.  Ha!

We don't tend to overschedule ourselves during the week and it wasn't that our weekend was so very hectic but there was still that need to be somewhere.  Yesterday it was nice to not need to be anywhere but where we wanted to be.

There is something freeing about playing hooky, isn't there?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Little Messes

Life has been busy -- in a good way.  Boys, school, soap, cooking, a little cleaning.  I have been wanting to return to this space on a more regular basis.  I keep thinking, "Today is the day" and before I know it, I am in my pj's.

Today has been another "busily good" day.  The sun is shining and it is unseasonably warm.  Quinnie's friend Olivia is spending the day with us.  Bowling in the morning.  A soap delivery which involved climbing 9 flights of stairs.  They were fine.  I was pooped.   Playground -- lots of climbing, running and monkey-barring.  Lunch followed by Halloween treats.  Then some quiet time.  Yes.  Coffee.  Oh wait, the crossing guard is at the door with a knitting question.  Coffee in the microwave.  Now quiet.  I sit but can't help but notice the little messes that surround me.  I should  maybe just pick that up but no.  Instead, I grab the camera and try to see the beauty in the little messes.


These stones are not at all a mess.  I just love them and wanted to share them.

Big picture -- the house is a sty.  Up close -- not so bad.

Friday, October 28, 2011

More Concoctions from My Soap kitchen

I loved playing with mud when I was  a kid.  We lived on a dirt road and I knew all the best spots on the road to find the different types of mud.  Armed with a bucket and a spoon, I would scavenge along the road, gathering mud and stones and then set to work making my mud creations.  Well, those days of mud pie are over but that doesn't mean I haven't found another way to play with mud.

Introducing Mud Pie soap made with Dead Sea mud.  The scent is a nice unisex blend of clove, bergamot and patchouli essential oils.

The fun with mud didn't stop there though.  I decided to give myself a Dead Sea mud masque with a special essential oil blend of tea tree oil, lavender and frankincense.  Oh, it smells so good.  I often will open the jar just to have a sniff.  It's an instant little aromatherapy lift.

Soap making has been happening at a fairly good pace here lately as I prepare for several craft shows during the holiday season.    I have designed two holiday soaps but I will share those with you next week.  Squeezed in between all the soap making, I have developed two facial oils.  Over the years, I have used countless facial moisturizers, only to be disappointed with the results or lack thereof.  Not surprisingly, I also wasn't fond of the long list of ingredients all those moisturizers contained.  I have seen facial oils at high end boutiques but they are ridiculously expensive.  Recently i began thinking, "Why can't I make my own facial oil?".  So after a little bit of research, I have and I love them.

I use a combination of golden jojoba, rosehip and evening primrose oils that are absorbed almost instantly into the skin, leaving it soft.  The essential oils in each facial oil are also specifically chosen for their skin-loving properties.  The daytime oil contains lavender, frankincense and ylang ylang.  The night-time oil is a blend of lavender and orange.  I also love using the glass dropper to dispense the oil.  It's just kind of fun, you know.  Or maybe that's just me.

All my new concoctions can be found here in my Etsy shop.

Monday, October 24, 2011

One Annoyed Feminist

I have proudly been a feminist since I first heard the term in my early teens.  That's almost three decades.  I don't have a t-shirt.  It's not how I introduce myself: "Hi, I'm Tara and I am a feminist."  But if someone asks me, I answer in the affirmative.  It just made sense to me that all people, regardless of gender, should be treated equally.  That is pretty much it.  There have been times when I have taken some flack for it until I explain the definition of a feminist.  That person often then reluctantly admits to being a feminist too.  How could one not want us to all be treated equally, all to have the same freedom to choose  the life we want?

This morning, on our way to the hardware store, I was listening to a discussion on the radio about the glass ceiling.  A woman (I could find her name but I can't be bothered) was arguing that those women who choose motherhood, either full-time or part-time with part-time including those women who choose to work fewer hours in order to spend more time with their family, are detrimental to women finding equality in the workplace.  Apparently, choosing motherhood over ambitiously pursuing a career is the easy choice.  Huh, easy choice.  Who knew?  Also, apparently, there is a reason why nannies are paid $15/hour while a lawyer is paid several hundred dollars an hour.  Essentially, motherhood can be outsourced and is a leisurely occupation.  Again, who knew?  (This woman obviously hasn't looked at my kitchen sink but I digress.  Us folks of the leisurely sort tend to digress.  See, it's because of all this free time.)   Finally, those who choose to live life in such a way that makes them happy are simply being complacent, that true fulfillment comes from challenging oneself even if it is "painful" (her word, not mine).  Now that I think about it, parenting really hasn't been that challenging and I hear that the teen years are a breeze.  What about all these years when I have simply wanted my children to be happy?  I should have been trying to force them down a path in life that was not of their own calling.  Or maybe that only pertains to girls and women.

Anyways, I shook my fist at the radio --  I really did.  I learned that move from the boys.  It's not the most mature reaction but it sure does feel good -- and continued with my day.  I am now going to step down from the soap box and go eat a bon bon.  I mean, clean some dishes.   And yes, I am still a feminist, just a slightly more annoyed one at the moment.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ushering In

The past weekend was a perfect Thanksgiving weekend -- warm, sunny days for the entire weekend.  Perfect for visiting the apple orchard, exploring an Iroquois village, hiking around a lake, playing in a sandy pit and simply enjoying the moment.  It was the perfect weekend for ushering in a new season.  Even though fall officially began several weeks ago, it seemed that summer waited until this weekend to say a final farewell.

It was such a beautiful weekend that I felt the desire to decorate our home for the season, something I don't normally do.  Not for any particular reason.  Well, okay, maybe it's because I am a little lazy.  Whatever the reason, this year I wanted to bring a little of the autumn indoors.  So while Keegan gathered leaves, I melted beeswax.  Then we dipped and ta dah!  We have ourselves a fall banner.

I think there may be a little more seasonal decorating in my future.  Any ideas?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Better Late than Never

It was my sister's birthday August 1.  She will receive her gift this weekend as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

I know it is over two months late but this year I really wanted to knit her something.  To be truthful, I had meant to knit her something for Christmas last year but that didn't happen.  I am not a terribly fast knitter so here it is October.  Besides, wouldn't you rather receive a hand knit scarf in October?  I though so.

I am a little concerned that she won't like the scarf.  She and I have such different tastes.  If that is the case, I just may have a new scarf for the fall and I will have the opportunity to knit a new pattern.

Should I admit how long it took me to figure out how to take my picture in this scarf using a mirror outside? Several minutes.  I couldn't see how to take the picture without the camera being in the picture.  Then suddenly, I saw the light.  It wasn't as difficult as it had seemed a few minutes ago.

For those of you interested, the pattern is Guernsey Wrap by Jared Flood.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Next Time

I am feeling a little out of the loop.  It has been a while since I have been present in this space and have visited those of others.  I guess I have been kind of missing in action.  I have been wanting to return to this space but now that I have found the time, I'm not sure what to say.  Now I feel like I am blabbering.  maybe I'll just show you what has been consuming much of my spare time lately.

I have been preparing for the holiday craft show season.  My first show was on Saturday, October 1.  The above photo is a little peek at my set-up.  I like to do a mock set-up beforehand to make sure I have everything I need.  Good thing I did because I forgot to bring my camera with me to the show.  It wasn't a local show and the early rise made me a little fuzzy headed but I did enjoy the road trip.  

While preparing for last weekend's show, I also landed my first wholesale gig.  (Gig?  I can't think of the correct word at the moment but I love having the excuse to use the word "gig".  Makes me sound kind of cool, right?)    So every spare moment last week was spent making soap . . .

and soap . . .

and a little more soap.

I promise to have something more interesting to say or show next time.  Promise.