Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Summer Nature Camp Week Five

We enjoyed our final day of nature camp last Thursday, and what a wonderful day it was. Mother Nature shared the most beautiful day with us, yet again. It was amazing to be gifted five Thursday's of beautiful, sunshiny days for nature camp. Our morning in the woods started out as a wander, no real plan, just walking, talking, noticing. It is good to just wander sometimes, to let nature guide you, and just be. The last of the wild raspberries were collected and promptly eaten, flowers were picked, and little ones ran and laughed along the trails.

When we reached the heavily forested part of the trail, I started to gather large branches, leaning them up around a large tree. The kids joined in, and before we knew it we had a beautiful shelter in the woods. They had some great ideas as we built it and I let them go with it, each adding their own personal touch. There were a couple of logs rolled inside to serve as chairs, there was a stump outside where the littlest one created a meal, fern leaves were used here and there to decorate, and the floor was cleared of leaves to create a tidy space. They had a lot of fun with this project, and seeing the three of them work together on a common goal was pretty cool. Together they carried big branches, one child on each end, helped each other stand them up, pointed out the perfect branch to add next, and they chatted about just what the next step should be in this shelter we were creating. I honestly don't think there was a better way to spend our last morning in the woods together. It was perfect.

Back at home they drew one last picture in their nature journals, we enjoyed lunch, and then spent some time making clay pinch pots under the shade of our birch trees. The afternoon finished with free play, apple tree climbing, homemade ice cream, popcorn, and a little more chalk drawing on our walkway.

Summer nature camp was a huge success, the kids had a great time, and I had a blast with the planning, and execution of the camp. I am already thinking about next summer with excitement, but first, I will sink into what remains of summer, and then I will start planning.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Summer Swap Fun

Well, that rain I was so hoping for arrived on Friday evening, about twenty minutes before my outdoor summer swap party was to begin. It always works out that way, doesn't it? Luckily though, as my guests arrived, the rain cleared and we were treated to a double rainbow. Now that was a great way to start an evening.

Despite the rain we enjoyed the party outside, on the back deck, a fire going, and lots of blankets covering wet chairs. We ate, talked, laughed, enjoyed the pleasure of not one, but two newborn babies, and swapped some pretty awesome gifts.

My swap gifts were rope bowls, each one slightly different. Tucked inside was a head of organic garlic harvested from my garden a few weeks ago, and a tin of healing salve, made with organic herbs from my garden.

In return, I received a potted rosemary plant, felted wool dryer balls, lavender mint bath salts, peppermint sugar body scrub, salted caramel chocolates, apple butter, soap, lip balm, and a necklace with a bird nest pendant. A pretty great selection of gifts from a pretty awesome group of talented ladies.

I love these swaps, and I have to thank the lovely Amanda for sharing her experiences with them. It was Amanda who inspired my first handmade/homemade swap party last fall, and from there I was hooked. The entire experience of planning, to creating, to sharing our gifts, to enjoying an evening together is pretty special. I feel very blessed to be surrounded by a group of wonderful, inspiring and creative women who enjoy these little gatherings as much as I do.

With another successful swap complete, my plan now is to really sink into summer. I am off, meaning no nature camp, and no homeschooling for the month of August. We have guests coming, there is swimming lessons to attend, blueberries to pick, food to put by, a garden to harvest, tend, nurture and plant, books to read, a hammock to relax in, and beautiful summer evenings to enjoy, fireside. As the final weeks of summer stretch before us, my only goal is to soak it all up, and enjoy every moment.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


"A photo of my little man, once a week, every week, in 2015"

Reece, one of the most important lessons I hope you take with you from our home is where your food comes from. We grow a lot of our own food, we raise chickens for eggs, we shop the farmers market, we forage in the woods for wild foods, and we hit the local u picks every summer. Connecting to our food, and in turn, to nature, is so very important to me, and having you alongside me as I do these things makes me so very happy. This week we hit the local blueberry farm for our first of many pickings this summer. You picked very little, choosing to run up and down the rows with your little friend, but that is okay, you were there, witnessing on some level the act of picking the blueberries we will eat for the next year. That night at dinner, while eating blueberries, you told your dad all about the blueberries, and the falcon and the hawk you saw, and shared how much fun you had. You have plans to take daddy picking with us this weekend, and are excited to share it with him. The sparkle in your eye as you spoke about our trip to the blueberry farm was all I needed to see to know that you understand the connection, you get it, and it means something to you. And that right there, makes my heart so very happy.

Joining Jodi for the 52 Project

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Around the Garden

Gosh, I am not sure where to start with my update this week. Things are abundant in the garden right now, and each day brings something new. The first beets were harvested, the first of the white raspberries are ripe, the beans and snow peas keep rolling in, the tomatoes are slowly changing colour, kale and Swiss chard are picked daily for meals, and to freeze, the cucumbers are starting to show up, and in the next few days we should be eating the first of many zucchinis. Herbs are being harvested for drying, and infusing, and flowers are being collected as often as possible. My days in the garden are full, and honestly, there isn't any other place I would like to be at the moment.

I told you about my battle with the cabbage worms last week, I thought I might be winning, but I would have to say it's a tie at the moment. I was out there this morning, picking off worms and two moths were flying around laying eggs. It would have been funny if they weren't eating my kale! I have been getting ahead of them by harvesting as much kale as I can, freezing some, and making kale pesto with the rest and adding it to the freezer stash. I might not win this battle, but I will have kale in my freezer.

My flower beds are bursting with flowers at the moment. The beautiful fragrant lilies are blooming, a few opening each day. At dawn and dusk they fill the air with the most intoxicating scent, and I linger out there breathing it in.

Our biggest issue at the moment is the heat, and lack of rain. It has been close to three weeks since we had a good rainfall. We had a little shower last weekend, but it didn't really do much. What we need is a good soaking rain, and unfortunately there really isn't one in the forecast. I have been watering daily, in the early morning. One day I do the back beds, the next day I do the front beds, and then repeat. A few times over the last week I have even had to water the flower beds, which I never do, but they are literally falling to the ground as the heat rises. All we can do is hope it rains soon.

The fall/winter beds are ready for planting. They had some manure and compost added to them, and in the next few weeks I will start to seed them with all the cool weather crops that will hopefully take us through the fall, and into the winter.

These days in the garden are the ones I dream about in January, when it is cold and dark outside, and the snow is falling. I remember the heat of these summer days, the feel of fresh, sun warmed food in my hard as I harvest, and the taste of food from the backyard right off the vine. They are full days, busy days in some ways, but goodness I love them, and they make me so very happy.

So tell me, how are things around your garden?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Cottage...At Night

We left the lights on in the cottage the other night, and as the sun set, it stood glowing in our backyard, exuding beauty and peace. It was calling out to me to come inside, sit, drink tea, and knit...and that is exactly what I did.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summer Nature Camp Week Four

I wasn't sure it was possible, but each week of summer nature camp just gets better. We spent most of the morning in the woods, with a few goals in mind. The first, to find and identify as many flowers as we could. The second, to find a good walking stick to decorate. The third, to gather nature treasures to adorn our walking sticks. And the fourth, to build a few fairy homes for the forest and flower fairies.

We found a long list of flowers, including St. John's wort, Queen Anne's Lace, tiger lilies, red clover, orange hawkweed, goldenrod, yellow hawkweed, yarrow, and bee balm. We were also lucky enough, as we wandered the woods, to see a monarch. I wish that wasn't so exciting, but sadly, it is. Walking sticks were found, and nature treasures collected. The fairy home building was a great success. The two older ones spent about 30 minutes creating the perfect homes, and the littlest one decided that collecting flowers to make fairy juice was a better idea. Who was I to argue.

Returning home with tired legs, they sat around the table outside drawing in their nature journals and enjoying smoothies. After lunch we gathered under the shade of the birch trees to create. First up, our walking sticks, which Justin so kindly ran the power sander over. Don't they look wonderful? They were so pleased with them. We then made some pine cone bird feeders for our feathered friends. Earlier in the day, before our walk in the woods, we had the honour of watching four eastern phoebes leave their next for the first time. It was magical, and left us all a little giddy. Although I had preplanned the feeders, the kids were excited to make them for our new feathered friends.

After an afternoon snack of popcorn, shared with the dogs, and the chickens, all went quiet. I peeked around the corner and found them all quietly drawing on the walkway. I tiptoed into the house, made a cup of tea, grabbed my knitting basket, and sat on the steps of the front porch, in awe at the focus and attention being given to their art. It was the perfect way to end our day.

Only one more summer nature camp day to go!