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Month: January 2011

Imbolc Links

Imbolc Links

For anyone looking to celebrate Imbolc this week I just want to point you in the direction of Redbeet Mama.  She has a post collating some links from a few different blogs (mine included) with ideas and suggestions for celebrating this first ‘spring’ festival.


Canadian Sunday

Canadian Sunday

After some record low temperatures and a general feeling of ‘want to go back to bed’ that made last week an in-house week, it was wonderful to be outside enjoying all that a Canadian winter has to offer.  There are some days where Stephen and I are so aware that we live in a different country, that we are experiencing things we only imagined before we moved here.  Those are the days when we know we’ve done something special by moving here.

And featuring Huwyl’s first solo run!


This morning we’ve woken to brilliant blue skies and -33C temperatures so I think today we’ll be appreciating the beauty of winter from inside!  But these hours outside, whizzing down a hill or walking through the woods, will sustain me as we live through the good and bad of our Canadian winter.

Q-tip Pointillism

Q-tip Pointillism

My friend Cheryl sent me this link to an activity on The Artful Parent recently and I knew immediately that I wanted to give it a try!  Apart from being very cute, art history related and using supplies we have in the house, I knew that it could accommodate a 5 years boy and a toddler, of paramount importance round here!

The results were really fun and both boys were utterly absorbed.  I expected the novelty to wear off after about 10 minutes but all in all our painting session lasted about an hour.  They loved the ‘restriction’ of the Q tips and it was fascinating to watch the creativity that came out of using such a simple tool.

Before we went to the table I showed Huwyl some pointillism paintings online and  talked to him about how the pictures were made up of dots of colour, then we began our own project.  Although we like to do watercolour painting a fair bit I used Tempra paint, which worked perfectly for the q-tips.  I gave lots of options as well as making new and exciting colours (red-brown, blue-brown, yellow-brown, brown-brown…).

I was surprised by how much versatility the simple q-tip offered and much fun the boys had exploring all the possibilities.

The boys explored not just colour, line and composition but also texture.  I was pleasantly surprised by how little help from me they required.  The simple palette of colours and tools seemed to create a reassuring limit.  It was great to see Huwyl creating such variety but also watching Neirin was a revelation.  His concentration and focus were no less than Huwyl’s.  This intensity surprised me as did his ease and familiarity with the painting process.  This little person is turning into a real painting pro!

Um, when did he get so big exactly?  It looks like I have two artists in the house; this could get messy…

The Little Things

The Little Things

It really is the little things.  The tiny details that build up a day; that build up to a life.

A candle that tells us the day is winding down, time for quieter voices (in theory), for a shared meal, for stories, for cuddles.  Knowing rest is round the corner we can marshal our strength to finish the day well.

A boiling pot of pasta on the stove, ready to feed my family.  Knowing we are heading for full tummies, that our basic needs are being met  is a deep comfort.

A gift sent from my Dad far away reminds me that those I love are always close.

These are the pieces of my life, that connect together.  That make up who I am.  Who we are.

Our life.

Weekend pieces

Weekend pieces

Here are some glimpses of our weekend.  It was a cold one but we managed to get out to the land and enjoy the snow and sky; it is a bit of drive but so worth it.

And when we got home we were all feeling pretty hungry and needed something cosy and comforting to fill our tummies.

Hello freezer scones, how are you?  Have you met my friends jam and whipped cream?  No?  Well allow me to introduce you…

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

I hope you all stayed warm and cosy this weekend!

A Single Moment

A Single Moment

Joining in with Amanda at Soulemama with my image for the week.  A single moment, something to remember and savour.

I know it is slightly cheating but I do want to give this piece of art a title, it would seem a shame to leave it nameless.   So allow me to grandly reveal…

Rental House Wall 2011

I thank you.

Little House

Little House

Before Christmas I began reading Little House in the Big Woods to Huwyl.  I’d seen it referenced on Ambleside online and thought it would be nice to have a longer read aloud book for bedtimes and shared reading.  We had really enjoyed reading Stuart Little and then Charlotte’s Web, we I felt we were ready for some old fashioned good storytelling.  I got more than I bargained for.

What I hadn’t realised is that I would completely fall in love with these books!  I know these are considered classics but now I know why.  Laura Ingalls Wilder writes with a simplicity that is completely disarming as she simultaneously conjours up such vivid images and sensations that it is hard not to feel that you are there with her.  The life that she evokes, one of simple tasks that are essential to life, is fascinating and also humbling.  To remind ourselves of what people lived with and, more noticeably, without.

In this book, following on from the first in the series Little House in the Big Woods, Laura and her family move west to the prairie.  They travel across America on a wagon, carrying the essentials they need with them, to set up a new life for themselves on the High Prairie.  The life that is described by Laura is one of resourcefulness and simplicity.  The Ingalls all work on the basic tasks together, the children are involved with some of the house keeping along with their mother, and it is fascinating to witness the day-to-day of their lives.  The simple foods that they eat, what is considered a treat and what is lacking in their lives that we would take for granted.  Laura’s Ma makes their own butter and all their foods, she washes their clothes in a barrel and dries them on the grass, she is able to make maple syrup from sap and knows how to milk cows.  Laura’s Pa builds their cabin from scratch in a few days and is able to craft doors and furniture out of tree trunks.  These were people with skills who knew how to survive.

I find myself so in love with this book, it’s elegantly written style, the gentle humour and the affectionate depiction of character.  I’m sure this is not lost on my 5 year old who, like me, is more than happy to dip into this world as we read together snuggled up on sofa or bed.  I find myself reaching more and more often for this book as I am keen to find out what happens next and often can’t wait for him to ask for reading time!

Whenever we finish reading about Laura’s new life on the prairie I am slightly startled to be in a modern home, surrounded by furniture and possessions.  I am caught wondering what would the Ingalls family make of this life of ours?  Would they think this home to be a palace, or certainly a place of great wealth and privilege?  Would they wonder at the array of toys the children have to play with (Laura has only one doll made out of a cob of corn and her sister a rag doll), would they be amazed at the entertainments offered to them?  Would they even recognise the foods we eat?

I wonder all these things and think about the life the Ingalls lead.  There is much about it that appeals, much to learn from them.  The clear boundaries of expected behaviour, no uncertainty there, freedom from mortgages and bills replaced by resourcefulness and the ability to meet their own needs.  I wonder what it would be to be free of the need for things, to have a simpler environment with each beautiful thing a noticed treasure to be exclaimed over and protected.  I think about the childhood that Laura describes, running free in nature all summer long, shoes put away in the cupboard.  No roads to be careful of, no fences to stop a headlong run along the grass.  Abundant sunshine and abundant opportunities for exploration.  These are images I linger over wistfully, hoping for the same freedoms for my boys, the same simple pleasures.

But I am on guard a little against my own romanticism and I remember that there were many hardships in those days that I do not have to face.  I am a free woman and able to make choices for myself about what I do and how I do it.  I am saved energy and time by the devices I own which allow me to explore my own thinking and creative impulses.  I can take the time to sit with my children and learn, to read beside them, to teach them of the world.  I can photograph them and chronicle our journey together, I can take the time to write and reflect.  I am not bound to the home as many women were and are, I am here because I choose it, making it so much sweeter.

I am glad of hospitals and neighbours, of indian spices and chocolate from Switzerland.  I rejoice in my education and the chance I have had to explore literature, history, art and philosophy.  I am blessed by connection to those far away and their participation in our lives despite the distances of oceans and miles.  I am grateful for warmth, for good health and for sweet comforts that make our days kinder and easier.

But.  The lingering sound of the Ingalls children’s laughter echoes in my ears.  The sound of the tall grass as they run through it, the splashing of their feet through the shallows of the river.  The plop of the frog as they chase him along the bank.  I can imagine their Ma, standing in the doorway of the cabin watching them, pausing for a moment in her chores and enjoying their liveliness and joy.  I can imagine myself doing the same and I know that part of my love affair with these books is that they give me a glimpse of big sky and summer breezes, of a future I hope to have a part of.  The past is describing to me what my future might look like.

The voice of Laura Ingalls, spoken aloud by many generations of parents to children, speaks truths that apply whenever we are born.  Her simple stories of life and family love are always in style.  As she said herself,

As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that things truly worthwhile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. It is not the things you have that make you happy. It is love and kindness and helping each other and just plain being good.



There has been a bit of sickness in the house for the last few days.  First my energy levels dropped, then Huwyl spiked a temperature and then, last night, Neirin did too.  He is nearly two and this is only his second illness since a 24hr bout of croup last christmas.  Huwyl is mostly fine but more than happy to be cosying up for the day and I am feeling tired so the same goes for me.

The only medicine for Neirin right now is lots of nursing and Mummy cuddles so that is what he’ll be getting.  In the meantime I’ve made up an oil to help with colds, stuffiness and getting rid of bugs in the air.  Here is the blend:

Cold Relieving Oil

Lime 3 drops

Eucalyptus 4 drops

Ravensara 3 drops

Sage 3 drops (avoid if pregnant)

Lavender 4 drops

Clove 1 drop (avoid if pregnant)

Mix all oils together in a mixer bottle (I use 5ml amber bottles that are inexpensive to buy) and us a couple of drops in a bath or on a pillowcase, 3-5 drops for a tissue that you can carry around.  This should help reduce congestion, a sore throat and help to soothe and calm.  For children (over 2 years) a drop on a tissue tucked beneath a pillow will work well.

I wouldn’t use anything stronger than Lavender or Chamomile for really young children or infants (or those who have compromised immunity for other reasons) and have actually found that Lavender works very well on colds, it is also great for killing off germs so using it to wipe down counters, door handles and diffusing into the air is great.  Again just add a drop of the oil to a tissue and place out of the little one’s reach.

If you would like to use the above blend in a bath I would place in at the beginning of the bath in order to let the oils diffuse into the air.  If you are using it for children over 2 a drop in the sink with warm water in is preferable then it diffuses into the air but isn’t too harsh.  Again, if in doubt just use Lavender, add Chamomile if there is congestion.

Be well!