Thursday, December 29, 2011

Art of the month: gifting

There was a good amount of sewing that went into this year's festivities.  Beginning in November with birthdays I was making for my loved ones.  There was of course more on the list than got finished (one of the things that was nixed was Elliott's stocking, despite working on it right up to the last minute.  We used a fill in one for this year.)  I was happy to have at least made what I did this year and I know that as I vow each year I'll try and start earlier in 2012 and have more gifts ready earlier...we'll see how that goes.
For my sister's birthday I made my fourth birthday banner. 

This one was done in blues and greens and I modified the top to have the ribbon included rather than sewn over the top of each triangle as I did previously.  And I also decided that after several years of using a banner myself it definitely needed it's own drawstring bag.

The next birthday gift was for my nephew's first birthday.  Another area that I had worked on before my bibs.   I have given bibs to several little people on their first birthdays because it is just about the time that big eating messes seem to happen.

Four bibs and a carry bag for two wooden puzzles.  This fabric was found while thrifting and I still have some left over.  Such a great pattern for little ones.
And my gift for Heidi Joy was a clothes pin apron based on this tutorial.  If you look closely you'll notice where I deviated from the directions.  But it was well received and I hope to make one for myself in the spring. 

Our family was gifted some lovely handmades as well this Yule.  I certainly feel blessed to have such crafty ladies in my circles of family and friends.  I hope your holidays were full of thoughtful gifts as well.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


a little boy turned four around here. 

I would rather like to stop the pace of these years in many ways.  It seems like just yesterday that this and this happened.  This year brought a true understanding of the scope of a Christmas birthday...presents, cakes, parties and repeat.  And this carol singing, Santa loving, big brother is just getting smarter and more himself each day.  Love you Ky.  Happy fourth birthday.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I posted details of our family craft for 2011 at Pagan Parenting.  Enjoy.  And Happy Solstice.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book of the Month: December

For a little holiday inspiration I checked A Homemade Christmas: Creative Ideas for an Earth-Friendly, Frugal, Festive Holiday by Tina Barseghian out of the library last week.  It has some wonderful projects and ideas for simple gifts, decorations and celebrations.  Some of the ideas I liked were making Herbes de Provence blends for gifts, a list for stocking the pantry over the busy season, recycling your holiday cards into place mats, and directions on making homemade snow globes. The book is divided into 5 sections focusing on Greeting, Trimming, Cooking, Giving and Celebrating.  An easy read with fun how-to's it can help any one get inspired to make their holiday a simple one. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Top Ten Holiday Albums 2011

I love the holidays and I especially love holiday music.  Since childhood the familiar tunes have rung through our home for baking, wrapping and caroling.  My tastes have changed since my spiritual leanings have but this list has something for everyone who loves Christmas music.  You can find my top ten holiday movies here.  Please feel free to add your own must haves in the comments.

10.  The Rat Pack Christmas Album.  These songs are classic renditions of many favorites.  Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. sing out White Christmas, Jingle Bells and Winter Wonderland along with one that I've come to love Let's Start the New Year Right.

9. Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers' Once Upon A Christmas.   Growing up with country music meant that I perused several country holiday albums as a kid.  This one sticks with me because of the original songs like Christmas Without You and With Bells On.  The twang of Dolly and Kenny is homey and simple which makes for a good album.

8.  Elvis Presley If Every Day Was Like Christmas.   Another album from my childhood although we listened to Blue Christmas on vinyl.  But when I was linking to these the reviews for the cd version were negative so this album has all the songs I loved plus some others that sound nice.  Blue Christmas has to be one of the best songs Elvis ever sang and Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me is pure fun.  

7.  Melissa Etheridge A New Thought for Christmas.  I mentioned this album last year and it is really a nice departure from the typical albums with the classic songs.  Her rendition of O Night Divine is refreshing and focuses on the solstice.  This album rocks the holidays.

6.  Loreena McKennit A Midwinter Night's Dream.  Besides the cover art this album has some lovely old time sounding songs.  Gloucestershire Wassail, Good King Wenceslas and Coventry Carol are great and I love her originals Snow and Seeds of Love as well.

5.  Canned Heat Christmas Album.  Are you looking for some bluesy songs to get you dancing and grooving...then this is your album.  Deck the Halls, Boogie Boy ( Little Drummer Boy) and more get you out of your seat and moving.  This is not your grandma's Christmas carols.

4.  Santa Baby!  Various Artists.  The above album is similar to the compilation I have but it isn't the exact same.  I wasn't able to find it to link to precisely.  But if you happen to find it it's good.  Eartha Kitt's Santa Baby, Patti Page's Boogie Woogie Santa Claus, Louis Armstrong's Zat You Santa Claus all terrific and not the repetitive songs that can grate on your nerves sometimes.

3.  John Denver & The Muppets A Christmas Together.  I just discovered this one this year...funny since it was originally released in the 1970's.  Sweet and funny it's a perfect album to share with kids and enjoy.  The Twelve Days of Christmas version here is charming.

2.   Michael Buble Christmas.  His voice is like butter I tell you.  Great arrangements on this album, I love the style of old meets modern in the way he sings.  Holly Jolly Christmas is a favorite and the guy version of Santa Baby, very meterosexual! 

1.  Aimee Mann One More Drifter in the Snow.  There is just something about Aimee Mann's low and moody voice that exemplifies the holiday season.  Firelight, snow gently falling, drinking something warm - just a few things this album conjures for me.  Her version of You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch is good for kids and adults (and really I'm impressed that she included it) and What Ever Happened to Christmas is contemplative and serene.  This album is a great way to pull some reflective quiet into a hectic time of year.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

around here

there is wrapping, sewing and craft fair attending, parties appearing and lots of tea drinking.  I'm sleepy these days and unfortunately grumpy as well.  I'm sure the spirit will get me out of the funk eventually.

slowly we are putting things up, making cozy and trying to be present in each little bliss moment of the season.  This holiday is my favorite and I post lots about it every year.  When I'm grumpy I try to focus on the little things that make me happy like the brilliance of red leaves on an oak tree, the warmth of flannel on a cold night and the play of an almost 4 year old with his teddy bears.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

lucky seven

Well the little man's seventh month was all about moving and teething it seemed.  Chesty coughs ushered in teeth and the third pushed through and seemed to herald the reality of a baby wanting to eat.  When this guy was hungry watch out, he means business.

It was especially important for Mama to have something for him to munch on if big brother was eating or the temper with month six though the big smiles were prevalent.  Mr. 25 pounds was a happy guy.

Rolling was also very popular in month seven, once sitting was mastered it wasn't long before he threw himself down and rolled to where ever he felt he needed to be.  Sitting still was a rarity but could happen if brother was willing to entertain or Dada captured his attention with Zoom Zoom.

As the leaves fell the boy decided to learn to crawl.  Military style.  And seven flew by in a flash of baby giggles, swift transitions, and drooly kisses.

Monday, November 28, 2011

darkness settling down

The dark time of year is settling upon us.   Whether we light it up because of our fear of the cold starkness or because of our culture's consumer expectations we most often deny our body's basic need for more rest and looking inward.  I wrote about our use of artificial light two years ago, but this week I was reminded again of the importance of the dark.
Our bodies need to listen to these rhythms, work into them and let them sink into our consciousness.  Pushing harder at this time most often results in illness and makes getting through the busy celebrations more taxing on us.  Getting more sleep should be a priority.  Sharon Astyk wrote a compelling piece on sleep's merits.  Being as sleep deprived as I am I certainly understand the importance of sleep for our health.  I wish I could listen to my body and sleep more.  Part of why I haven't been sleeping more recently is parenthood and the other part is a silly insistence in being distracted from the really important things.  So I watch t.v rather than sleep or surf the know what I mean?
Along with not letting your body rest comes the inevitable tornado of holiday "stuff" that seems to creep upon us faster each year.  I enjoyed Sparrow's perspective on this in episode 91 of The Wigglian Way Podcast.  She wanted to remind us all that in the span of the wheel of the year not letting the dark have it's proper place in our spirit is detrimental.  Samhain comes and then we immediately put up our Yule lights and fill our days until the light is born again on Solstice.  But what about that time of looking inward, having reflections of quiet and silence that the dark ushers in?  I am making an effort to not let this coming month whiz by without some quiet time.  That will be a challenge since there are many events, even more than we usually have to celebrate.  And the joy that a very close to four year old exudes as his Christmas birthday approaches is not something I can tell to be patient for that much longer.  But I hope to schedule lots of down time for the boys, early bedtimes,  relaxing time at home, and as many walks outside as we can fit in.
It is important to remember also that the dark time lasts until Spring Equinox and so we can honour those rhythms after the busy holiday season is over as well.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

10 years come and gone

Two days ago I turned 34.  In the first month that I moved to the west coast of Canada I turned 24.  10 years I have been here now.  This rainy, lush rain forest of mountains, beaches and whole living goodness is where my heart found its home.
Looking back on the young woman I was when I moved here: a somewhat reluctant adventurer, naive to her dependence on others, full of dreams without much of an idea of how to manifest them, that person is still inside me.  She is now combined with a 34 year old married mother of two, staring out from (hopefully) wiser eyes.  There are days when that young thing takes a hold and says: What are you doing here?  Can't we just make art, sing, go dancing somewhere....and the answer is usually no.  I'm not the kid anymore, I have kids now.  The kid in me does manifest with my children, I'm not completely without fun but there is responsibility and nurturing that comes first.  So much has changed in these last 10 years...I've grown up, become an adult.  Building a life, setting down roots and manifesting my vision of how life should be. 
Some part of my soul knew that I had to let go of every known thing and fly across the country 10 years ago to meet my destiny.  The universe pulled me here pretty much against my will.  I remember crying with fear and my mother comforting me, neither of us knowing then that I would not be moving back east.  I have learned in my 10 years here that doing the thing that your soul says to do is often not easy.  It is scary, and you second guess your decisions in your fear.  But that thing, what ever it is, pulls on you none-the-less and if you don't listen the first time it will just keep pulling at you anyway.  And so here I sit, far from my family but nestled in the family that the universe manifested for me.  Always missing them but secure that the 24 year old who followed her heart here was wise to put her fears aside and buy a one way ticket.  And the 34 year old who hugs her boys and wonders at the spark of love that created her family here thanks her and everyone else who helped her along the way. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

a little note to say....

My photo was featured on habit yesterday.  Take a look...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tales from my Garden Wrap-up 2011

Well I am currently enjoying a brief and rare treat of both boys napping at the same time!  So what to do, what to do....write a post of course.  My garden, oh, my little garden how you perplex me so.  I am still learning and I think I always will be about how to best grow food.  My first growing season here in our new home was all about trial and error and this year was mostly about error.  The Sugar Snap peas were our big success.  The squirrels were happy about my heirloom tomatoes but we were not.  Brandywine and I are officially done.  The Paul Robesons did not do great.  The squash had lovely blossoms but never turned into anything and the green peppers were small and not flavourful.  So, what to do?  Well plant tulip bulbs, clean out the pots and rethink it all for next season.  We will plant more peas, try some different tomatoes and since I have loved my cooking classes taken this fall I think a container gardening class is in order.  Something is wrong with my methods whether it is the potting soil composition or the watering or fertilizing - I'm not sure.  And while I'm at it I'll be sure to consult the star charts on the best planting days next season.  But reading other gardener's words gives me hope: it is all a journey and I may never figure it all out.  Sometimes things work and sometimes they don't.  C'est la vie and that's gardening folks.
 I'm happy that I tried, that the whole family loved eating sugar snaps right off the vine on the balcony and that under the earth we planted 12 yellow and orange tulips to grace us next spring after the primroses share their splendor.  And if they don't come up we'll just try, try again.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Poem of the Month: November messages

to M with love

at such distance
to sense that space
there is a lingering sense
something just beyond reach
i have forgotten how to be without you

the struggle is more about feeling the crisis,
the misplaced energy,
the grasping that must surely find a foothold soon

we all struggle to find place
we all look outward when perhaps the place to look
is in

in to the dark, cobweb filled recess
where we put something long ago
something taken for granted
something that seemed insignificant at the time

something that makes our truth real
but is hard to accomplish
it requires our blood, so much determination
so much time, often
blinders to anything else

while I sit among reaching arms
and you resist kind meaning suggestions
it seems it was easier to dream this big dream
way back when
than to make it reality now

back on a bench in a small town
holding your hand
before we knew what we were
before birthday songs, confessions and births

but now is where we are
and i am grateful for each lesson
learned together or apart
part of us will always be sitting on that bench
and that simple joy gives me solace still

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


The days have been blurring into one another these last few weeks.  So I thought I'd share some snippets as a memory jogger for the future.

Halloween night and our pumpkins

our tired out baby bee

The leaf strewn path by our home

and our altar to our loved ones on the other side

These last few days have felt just as hectic but somehow there have been moments, snippets for a little of this:

That has brought some quiet to my mind.  Tonight I'm off for a second round of Mama alone time in two weeks and Friday I will have some time to focus on some sewing thanks to my Mother-in-law.  Remembering to breathe is always apropos here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

a naming day

Last week we had a naming ceremony for Elliott.  Looking back on the post of Kyan's naming the two days could not have been more opposite.   A sunny June 28th and a rainy October 28th (funny that I picked the same day...didn't plan that one.)  But regardless of the weather we, (three mamas, 4 kids and 2 babes) headed to the woods nearby to let nature provide the backdrop for Elliott's day.

The photos are all slightly blurry but I think that adds to the mood out there.  Under the trees we didn't get pelted with rain but things were damp and we moved through the ritual without lingering too much.  After all I didn't want the little ones to get too cold out there.  I began by telling the meaning behind the name Elliott and his middle name and listing the ancestors he is connected to by his names and his day of birth.  Then each of the kids circled him for his elemental blessing.  Maracas and bells for air bringing virtues of quick wit, imagination, intuition and communication.  Candles for fire bringing: passion, creativity, drive and regeneration.

Water bringing virtues of compassion, courage, empathy and fluidity (so important for a Pisces!) And salt and rice for earth bringing with them health, strength, grounding and family connections.

Next we blessed him with a rosemary wreath for keeping tricky fairies away.  Which is seen above in the first photo and then we filled his magical box with offerings of stones, shell and a clay pendant.  From his immediate family he was given Blue Calcite from me, Angelite from Kyan and Hematite from Dave.  We each chose our stones at a local gem shop and I was fascinated to read that the blue stone Kyan chose which I had never heard of before is a stone of peace and brotherhood.  A fitting choice to give a little brother I'd say.  I embroidered cloths with the family surnames for Elliott as I did for Ky and we chanted May you walk in the beauty way, dance along the sacred path, always in step with the rhythm of Mother Earth.
Whether or not Elliott becomes a pagan he will have this box to remind him of spirit and of the celebrations that he will attend with me as he grows.  I still have to line the box with fabric and paint it but I was so glad to have the chance to make this little ritual happen for him.

We came back home afterward and feasted on Smokey Pumpkin soup, garlic cheese bread, tea and banana bread for dessert.  It is a testament to how lovely my girlfriends are that when they left I had a loaf and a half of banana bread, a clean kitchen and a peaceful heart.  This day was for Elliott and we are so grateful to have him in our midst.  Me, his Dada and brother and our whole tribe.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

the best laid plans

Is it getting to be a bit of a typical story on here that I make plans and then they don't pan out?  Perhaps the issue is the amount of plans, or the unrealistic expectations of a mother of a seven month old and an almost four year old.  Today for instance, after a stressful night of a baby's upset stomach and fitful sleep I decided that if the four year old wants to play paper dolls in his pajamas rather than go to pre-school so be it.  There are a dozen cobs of corn in my fridge that need to be blanched and frozen, birthday gifts to be finished and purchased, halloween costumes, halloween decorating, dishes, laundry, milk to pump, papers to file - maybe I should just stop there.

This post resonated with me this week.  The chaos that my creative life lives in is overwhelming and yet it is all I have right now so I must make the best of it.  If I waited for a quiet autumn day to contemplate my projects while warming my hands on a cup of would be spring before I even got around to making tea.  So there are toys, a rolling baby, Thomas songs and Winnie the Pooh dialogue being recited in the background and tiny snippets of time in which to cut, stitch or embroider. 

 (photo by Kyan)

I have chosen this path and despite moments of panic and uncertainty (usually at 2 in the morning) I wouldn't change a thing.  While watching the creative journey of others I am inspired to enter that space; the solitary, internal workings of the mind and soul as they collaborate to make and do.  But even as a part of me longs for that the strongest part of my self says no, without this life, these boys, this level of commitment, you would not be fulfilled.  And I know without question that that is my truth.  So I do this and try to stand tall in that truth every day.