Monday, May 30, 2011

To the Lake

Very exciting news on the home front:  Our new septic tank and system is being installed today!  Okay, I didn't say it was going to be exciting for all but for us, wahoo!  After months of not being able to take showers one right after the other without seeing a puddle form in the backyard, we are very excited.  It hasn't been easy to get the approval from all the right "people".  Apparently, it is preferable to local government to let sewage seep into the creek rather than let homeowners repair and upgrade the system because they are to close to the creek into which said seepage is occurring.  I have had a difficult time understanding the viewpoint of those who said no since the new septic system is more environmentally friendly than the present system.  After treatment through the system, the final water is much cleaner than the raw sewage that runs through the city pipes to the treatment plant which, by the way, is located about 50 feet from the shores of the lake.  Hmm.  Enough about sewage . . .

Rather than watch men and large machinery dig a huge whole in our backyard, Quinn and I decided to spend part of the morning at the lake.

When we arrived home, Quinn spotted this little guy on the outside of our basement window.

After watching him for a minute, I realized that he was stuck and wouldn't be able to jump out of the hole.  He  needed our help.  The plan:  Bring a box outside and hope that he would jump into it after which I would bring him to the creek.  I asked Quinn if he wanted to come help me.  "Mom, he looks pretty gross."  That was a "no".  The plan was successful and the little guy is safely down by the creek.  This rescue mission was much less messier than last year's when I helped a rainbow trout who was stuck between some rocks in the creek.  I didn't realize the trout would be that slippery.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

If You Can't Find Me . . .

If the rain isn't falling and there isn't something else more pressing I should be doing, I can be found in my new favourite room of our house.  Mind you, those two conditions mean that I on't find myself here a lot.  It has been a very wet and cold spring and who doesn't often have something else they should be doing.  Regardless of that, if I can sneak away, this is where I go, usually with a book and a cup of tea.

the deck leading out from our bedroom
I love this space.  I really love this space.  And I'm not the only one.  The boys can often be found out here too, with a snack, a pile of books and often whatever else they are willing to haul out there.  It seems to be the perfect place when you don't have the energy for outdoor playing but still want to be outside.

  Special little touches are being added.  Like the herbs that were doing well in the garden but just seemed out of place.  They seem to have found their place here.

The ceiling and three walls of our new room:

Each time I step outside I feel like I finally have the treehouse I always wanted as a child.

All are invited for tea, coffee, maybe even a glass of wine if the mood should hit.  Just ignore the mess as you pass through our bedroom.  I blame it all on the boys.

Monday, May 23, 2011

These are a Few of My Favourite Things

I may or may not have mentioned here before that I am not a gardener.  I have come to terms with it but that doesn't mean that I am going to stop trying to be a gardener.  Each year I learn something new and have a little more confidence in the garden.  This is a weed.  This isn't.  Should I move this?  yes, I should.  I could dwell on what I still need to do, what I shouldn't have planted and what I should know but don't.  Instead, I am going to focus on the few things I really like about my garden at the moment.

Purple Iris
When I purchased this purple iris a few years ago, I was afraid I was being a little cocky.  Irises just seem like a fancy flower, you know, a flower I shouldn't be able to grow successfully.  It makes me happy to see it each spring.  I only wish the blooms lasted longer.  Oh, and this is not a special speckled iris.  Those bright splotches are pine pollen sticking to water droplets.  We have several large pines in our front yard and for the past three days, they have been sending out plumes of pollen, coating everything in a fine yellow powder.  It is quite cool, actually.

birthday present from my brother-in-law

lupin seedlings

I planted lupins a couple of years ago.  Last spring I noticed some lupin seedlings and this year, there are even more.  They are scattered throughout my perennial bed.  I have high hopes of some year just have one huge bed of lupins.  They remind me of my grandmother and Atlantic Canada and I am always hope to bring a little bit of the East to our home.

Is there anything extra special in your garden today?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

From My Soap Kitchen

Soap Kitchen.  I was thinking about these words yesterday, preparing to write another post about the soaps i have been busy making.  I was thinking about how strongly the food that comes out of the kitchen, whether it is my kitchen, my grandmother's kitchen or that of a favourite cafe, influences my soap.  Coffee, lemon, oatmeal, honey, chocolate, beer.  Are you seeing the pattern too?  Food seems to be quite important to me.  I just wish I enjoyed cooking more.  Oh well, on to the soap.

Nan's Lemon Pie
Nan's Lemon Pie is scented with lemon essential oil and has a sprinkling of coconut on top, just like my grandmother used to serve her lemon pie.

Vanilla Bean Soap
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Soap
You had to know cookies were going to make an appearance.  Colloidal oatmeal and cocoa powder make this soap a little extra special.  A combination of oatmeal milk and honey and chocolate fragrance oils make it smell really yummy and kind of decadent.

Lavender Oatmeal Soap
Now to introduce my new fun soaps.

Hippy Half Pint

I have been wanting to make beer soap for awhile and I finally got around to stealing one of Mike's beers.  Okay, so it was his last beer and I may have gotten a dirty look the next time he went to the fridge but it was totally worth it.  I love the deep caramel colour.  I scented it with patchouli and lavender essential oils, thus the name Hippy Half Pint, and it smells musky and warm and spicy.  Love it.  And don't worry about Mike.  I went and bought him a case of beer today.

Breakfast of Champions Half Pint

Made with a wheat beer my father brought back all the way from Nebraska and then kindly donated to my soap making adventures, much to Mike's dismay.  Why Breakfast of Champions?  More oatmeal and scented with sweet orange and lemon essential oils.  My Half Pint Soaps will be ready just in timre for Father's Day.

This last photo isn't so pretty but let me explain.

Yep, I know.  It looks like . . . mud, let's call it mud.  It is a facial cleanser I formulated (Ooh, that sounds so important, doesn't it?  I just can't think of a better word at the moment.)  It contains ground almonds, rhassoul clay, rice bran oil and lavender essential oil and it is wonderful.  It is my new favourite facial cleanser.

Okay, gotta go pick up the boys.  Have a great Thursday, people!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Have Box, Will Travel

Inspired by a recent episode of Dr. Who.  (And yes, I just revealed a side of myself that leans towards dorky, geeky, whatever you want to call it.  I also have a small collection of graphic novels.  The husband has come to terms with this side of me.)

"A boy and his box exploring the world."  Words similar to these were spoken near the end of the latest episode of Dr. Who.  As the mother of two young boys, these words struck me and this was the image that popped in my head.

I would like to think that with a good book (or several) and whatever we as parents are able to share with them ( an old cardboard box, words of advice, a hug), each of our boys will set out into the world, exploring in a fashion best suited to who they are as individuals.

Friday, May 13, 2011

First Step

As an adult, I have found that one of the biggest challenges to sitting down and drawing was the idea that my drawing had to be good.  For the most part, this challenge has been overcome.  I am more concerned now with the process of drawing and the act of putting something on the page.  Good thing too because my drawings aren't that good.    With this mountain climbed, I now often find myself standing, looking up another mountain -- what to draw.  Recently, I was directed to the Every Day Matters List.  Start with number 1 and work my way up.  Here is my first step up the mountain.

Would you like to take a peek at Quinnie's latest drawing?  I thought so.

It is a monster who loves pigs and money and, apparently, tattoos.  No Challenge List required for this boy.

I think my sketchbook may become a place where more than just my drawings reach the page.

I'm not alone in feeling this way sometimes, right?  Just checking.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Seven Years Today

Yesterday morning, he greeted me with a big hug.  This morning, I greeted him with a hug and a song (to which I received, "Mo-om," and a huge grin) and chocolate chip muffins with a candle.

Seven years and two days ago, Keegan let us know about his impending birth but we had to be patient.  This birth was going to occur according to Keegan time and nothing, NOTHING, that the doctors did was going to rush him.  Two days later he was born.  In the seven years since his birth, I often find myself amazed with how much the story of his birth is reflected in Keegan's general attitude toward life in general.  He doesn't do anything until he is ready to do it and there is very little that can convince him otherwise.  This can sometimes lead to frustrating moments.  As a person who has in the past sometimes felt coerced into things I did not want to do, I so admire this trait of his.  I am hoping it will steer him in the right direction during his adolescent years.  As a parent, I couldn't be more proud of him and how he stays true to himself.

He is a serious boy with the best smile.

At times, he has the soul of a wise old man trapped in the body of a skinny little boy.

His sensitive side at times has tested our patience.  I have learned just how much patience I have.

He is wildly intelligent, insightful and imaginative.  I look forward to the man he will become.

He is responsible for leading us into this wild ride called parenthood and we couldn't be happier.

Happy 7th birthday, Keegan!  Long may the Lego bricks snap into place for you.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Morning Hugs

Wishing that you were all woken up with hugs this morning.  Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

From My Soap Kitchen

For those of you who were wondering, the craft show two evenings ago went really well.  It was held at a local church as a Ladies Night Out.  Those in attendance ranged from the young to the old, mainly women.  My father who helped my carry my stuff felt quite out of place as looked relieved, newly purchased peanut butter cookies in hand,  when my mother said she was ready to go home.  There was a great energy to the room, as groups of friends had gathered for the shopping and chitchat, often accompanied by a nice glass of wine.  One of the highlights of my evening was when two older ladies ran up to my table saying, "We heard you have a really good lip balm."  Why yes, ladies, I do.  My suitcases were much lighter when I left the hall later that night, after having spread a little bit of handmade soap love.

Preparations now continue for a show I am doing later in June.  Here is what has come out of my kitchen lately:

Peppermint Patty
Peppermint Patty soap is made with peppermint tea, scented with peppermint essential oil and a touch of vanilla fragrance oil.  Some finely ground tea leaves provide a little exfoliation.

Summer Breeze

Summer breeze soap is scented with lavender, lemon and pink grapefruit essential oils.

Pink Grapefruit Poppyseed
Kitchen Soap
My Kitchen Soap is made with brewed coffee and coffee grounds, lightly scented with orange essential oil.  Coffee soap is pretty amazing for getting rid of odours such as onion and garlic from the hands.  The scrubbiness of the coffee grounds removes any stuck on food bits like dough or ground meat when making meatballs.  (Yuck. Does the ground meat stick to anyone else's fingers?  Double yuck.) 

Blue Clay Soap
The Blue Clay soap contains blue clay, shea butter and rice bran oil and it is meant to be used as a facial soap but can be used on the hands and body too.  I can't wait for this soap to be ready.  My Rhassoul soap is one of my favourite soaps and I use it every night to wash my face.  It is the first time in at least 20 years that I have been able to use soap to wash my face without getting that tight, skin-stretched feeling.  I even use it to wash my hair but that is another story.

So that is what has come out of my kitchen lately.  So far, I have been trying a new recipe each time I make a batch which is exciting.  However, after recent sales, I am at the point where I am having to replenish my stock and make some soaps for a second time.  And that is exciting in a whole different way.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pigtails and Purple Socks

I wish I had something more to say but I am short on time today.

I am packing up my soaps again and heading out later this evening for another craft show.  This time it is a Ladies' Night Out with food, drink and shopping.  It sounds like a fun evening and I am really excited to be a part of it but, yet again, a little nervous.  You know that little voice that whispers in your ear that perhaps you're not quite as good as you think you are?  I am going to try to consciously ignore that voice and listen to the little one that is jumping up and down on my shoulder with excitement.  That little voice has her hair in pigtails and loves purple socks.  Yep, I'm going to listen to her instead.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day Tripping

My brother-in-law and I drove to Toronto yesterday to watch Billy Elliott The Musical.  It was wonderful and fun and we both want to return for closing night.

We had some time to walk around before the show started.  Mike and I lived in Toronto for a few years but moved away 10 years ago.  As much as I love the city, I didn't really enjoy living in the city.  It is kind of an unwritten rule that you are not supposed to make eye contact when walking down the streets of Toronto.  It goes against my nature and as a result, I had some interesting encounters when we first moved to the city.  Three years of city living was enough for me but I love to visit.

I can't remember the last time I was in the city so I instantly enter tourist mode as soon as we exit the parking garage.  Head flicking from side to side.  Accepting pamphlets as I walk down the street.  Dropping coins in cups.

Living Statue

The Doors of Massey Hall

Old City Hall
I don't think it will be quite so long between visits next time.