Monday, August 30, 2010

The End of Summer

When I woke up this morning I could feel a distinct fall chill in the air. Summer is short in my part of the world. By late August the temperatures drop and you can hear the rumble of the furnace warming the house throughout night. I am starting to get used to the cold winter weather and the lack of ocean air. I grew up on the West Coast and the sound and smell of the ocean has always felt like home. I used to turn to the water for comfort or relaxation. This summer has shown me that I can also turn to the mountains for that same thing. My family has enjoyed journeying to the mountains for many of our summer getaways.

On the weekend we went up to one of our favourite places in the mountains. The temperature was nice and warm and we canoed down a beautiful river.

It was just me, my husband and my little one since our other two were still visiting their grandparents. We paddled along while the movement of the river lulled my baby to sleep.

After our canoe trip we went down to a beautiful lake for a picnic. We threw rocks at the waves.

We made Inukshuks out of stones.

We watched mountain sheep walk down the road.

It was a lovely weekend to say a little good bye to the warm summer days. Soon these mountains and little town will be covered in snow. The temperatures will drop and the lazy days of summer will disappear.

Another sign that summer is at an end is that my children will be heading back to school this week. With that comes more structure to our days and more time for me and my toddler at home. I plan to make a studio in our front room for my projects. A place to put my sewing machine and easel. Last year was very busy for us during the school year and I am trying to manage our time more wisely this year. This summer has shown me that time at home as a family is very important and we need to limit our play dates and extracurricular activities. Although my children will attend school during the day I look forward to continuing our crafting, reading and baking when they arrive home.

Right now I am looking forward to bundling up in boots and scarves, cooking soup and making hot chocolate. I know by next March I will be tired of the cold but for now I look forward to those extra cold days that require my family to stay inside and snuggle by the fire.

Friday, August 27, 2010

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. Inspired by Soule Mama.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Games to Go

My two older children are on an adventure with their grandparents. So, it's me and my little one for the week. Yesterday we made a checkerboard for my son and an alphabet bag for her.

The idea for a traveling checkerboard was inspired by a similar project I saw in Martha Stewart Magazine.

I started by drawing out an 8 by 8 checkerboard on a piece of canvas with disappearing ink. I found a canvas back for a director's chair on sale at a store and used it for this project. It was the perfect size and weight.

Next I used a rubber stamp and white fabric paint to stamp every other square on the canvas.

While that was drying I got out a pile of river rocks from our collection. To symbolize a "king" in the game I stamped a "K" on one side of each rock.

Here is the board rolled up and ready for easy transport with the checkers in a fabric bag.

I can't wait to play when my son gets home from his trip!

While I was stamping I came up with an idea for a matching game for my youngest. I stamped a letter of the alphabet on individual rocks with white paint.

Then I coloured in the letters with a paint pen.

On a canvas bag I wrote the letters of the alphabet with the same pen.

She can match her rocks to the letters and store it all in the bag!

Now what to make for my oldest girl...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Orange Treats

Here is a quick recipe for a summer treat that I found on Counting Coconuts. We tried it on the weekend and it was delicious!

First we juiced a bunch of oranges. (My children really liked this part).

Then we scraped out the oranges and put the halves face up, in a muffin tin.

We poured the juice back into the orange cups.

Into the freezer they went until they were frozen but a bit slushy.

Yum! A healthy and delicious treat.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Greener School Year

My children are returning to school next week. Part of our journey towards simpler living includes having less of an impact on the environment. Our family is trying to live greener and this year for school I want to use less (or no!) baggies, plastic wrap, plastic cutlery and paper napkins.

It was actually my five year old daughter who inspired this part of our journey. Last year her wonderful teacher was very conscious of showing the children how to respect their planet. My daughter came home and informed me that I should turn off the water as I brushed my teeth because I was “hurting the earth.” She would turn lights off around the house and show us what items in our household should be recycled.

As were were preparing to go back to school I took the opportunity to look for some eco friendly items for lunches and snacks. I was amazed at what I found. There are so many inventive, earth friendly, talented companies out there creating amazing things. Here are a few I plan to use this year.

The biggest question was what kind of container to use for our lunches. After a demonstration at the Farmer’s Market I ended up buying Tiffin Boxes from To-Go Ware. They are a stainless steel tiered lunch tin that can carry a number of items. Ours came with a mini stainless steel tin perfect for dip, salad dressing or little snack items. I bought them for school but have used them all summer. They are wonderful! They can fit a large variety of items in a small space (plus my children love putting together their “lunch gadgets” as they call them.) Along with the Tiffin Boxes I bought each child a RePEat Utensil Set, made of bamboo. They are compact, beautiful and each utensil holder is made out of recycled plastic bottles. The bamboo set contains a spoon, knife, fork and chopsticks.

Now I was on the hunt for a lunch bag. I wanted one that closed on top so my children could carry it to school without losing any of the items. I also wanted enough room for the tin and a water bottle. That’s when I discovered Dabawalla Bags. They are colourful, kid friendly bags with designs that don’t involve cartoon characters or action figures. They are crafted from eco-sponge, an innovative neoprene-like fabric that passed an ecological certification process that tests for over 100 harmful substances. Aren’t they cute?

During the school year my children carry a lot of items back and forth to school. Seems like I am always on the hunt for a small bag to carry show-and-tell, books or school projects. I came across this blog and Etsy shop that gave me the solution on how to tote these things to school. They are called Origami Food Bags and they are one of my new favourite household items. Not only can they be used for school but I plan to bring them to the local Farmer’s Market to hold all my fruit and vegetables.

From the same Etsy shop I also bought a Furoshiki (wrapping cloth) for my children to use as a napkin. Here I wrapped it around the Tiffin Box but there are unlimited uses for a Furoshiki! Quite amazing.

I think our use of plastic baggies bothered me the most. This year I found a company called Wrap N Mat. They have different sized pouches that can hold sandwiches, carrots or other snacks. When it is time to eat you open up the pouch, lay it flat and use it as placemat! They can be hand washed and left to air dry.

All of these companies have their own stories on their websites and are worth a visit. I don’t have enough room in this post to tell you about their fair trade practices, care for the environment or charitable programs.

I look forward to living a greener life with my family this year. And, I know my daughter will be very proud to take her items to school knowing that she is “helping the earth.”

Friday, August 20, 2010

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. Inspired by Soule Mama.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rock Mosaics

We have an abundance of rocks in our lives. They come into our house stuffed in tiny pockets. They can be found rolling around in the dryer when Mommy forgets to check those tiny pockets. They decorate our shelves and tables. They are often are turned into insects, used in games and given as presents.

Yesterday we made Rock Mosaics. It started with a trip to the park to gather little pebbles. We also added some bigger rocks to the pile.

I gave each of my children a canvas painting board and had them draw out their designs.

Cardboard would also work for this part of the craft. My son drew a diamond shape, while my daughter created a seaside landscape. One of the things I really love about this craft was that my two year old could do every step of the process along with us. Her art was a little more abstract!

After the designs were on the board we put out bowls of rocks and plates of glue. They went to work making their mosaics with the stones. We used a tacky, white glue and within a few hours their creations were dry.

Now time to paint. The girls started out with water colours while my son opened up the glitter. Oh the glitter! He wanted his to look like a real diamond.

In the end we ended up with three completely different creations. I'm going to frame them as they will make a great edition to the walls of our craft room. You could also mosaic boxes and jars. My son thought they might make a good present for Daddy's birthday that is just around the corner. Our creations...