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Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Tipi at the Organic Farm

TipiJuly 28, 2010
Home gardeners know that gardening is not  just the bare basics.  Garden decorations enter the picture at some point.  Some aren't even intended garden decorations but meant rather to serve practical purposes likes pest deterrents or critter protectors like toad home.  The organic farm has a wonderful tipi constructed on a bit of open space.  Despite adding character, the tipi

Friday, July 30, 2010

FAKE OUT

Slowly over the years, Mr. Sweet Pea and I have put our stamp on this 70's ranch~style place we call home. With him being in the carpentry biz sometimes we have lucked out and gotten materials for very little and a few times for nothing.

The room that I now use as my studio got some fabulous wide crown molding from a job that had leftover's. With the crown molding at 6 inches we couldn't very well install wimpy baseboards. So I came up with a way to fake the look of fabulous wide baseboards using regular 3 and 1/2" base with shoe mold on the bottom and a quarter round trim placed 4 and 1/2" above. Then I painted the molding and the wall in between white and voila, big fat baseboards!

Jersey Girl

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I just get downright giddy whenever I think about one of my pillows propped on a chair in Europe.  Tracey won my pillow giveaway a while back and sent pictures of their new-to-them cottage in Jersey.  And no, it’s not that Jersey

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This Jersey is one of six small British islands off the coast of France.  Tracey traveled to Jersey with her family when she was young and now is back to live for good. 

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Their sweet cottage is over 100 years old and according to Tracey, “very quirky”. 

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To me, it just looks absolutely adorable. 

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And extremely quaint.

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With all the charm of Europe that Americans try so hard to replicate. (and rarely are able to pull off)

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Thanks for the little house tour Tracey.  May you have many happy years building wonderful memories here!

My family is headed to the mountains for a summer holiday, and so this little blog is taking a vacation too.  We’ll both see you when we get back.  :) 

Raised Beds at the Organic Farm

Strawberry BedsJuly 28, 2010
Imagine my delight when we pulled onto the organic farm to see 2 raised beds planted using the square foot gardening method and larger raised beds for the everbearing and June bearing strawberries.  Pictured are 3 of the raised beds for strawberries.  I didn't get a picture of the smaller (4' x 4' ) square foot raised beds.  I will be sure to get a picture the next

Stay calm, make tea!


Here are some of the photos that Tracy Ranger took during her visit to Halfpenny Home last week. We last managed to meet up at the Saint's Market in Ipswich and because Tracy works so hard looking after the Gedgrave Flock, her flock of Wensleydale's with her husband Peter it makes it tricky to find time for a good chat about fleece, wool and natural dyes. I managed to lure her over with the promise of buttons...
I love this cascade of yarns! Maria of mimibellatree also popped in with Emily and Isabella to show off her finished fabruckets.
We were in the middle of a power cut when they turned up but we all stayed calm and made a cup of tea on the camping stove we use for dyeing and settled down with some vanilla cupcakes from Scoffin'. Maria took a couple of the wooden hares away with her, they're new and you can find them alongside the wooden hearts which are ready for you to paint and embellish. You can see in this photo a couple of the hearts that Jacqui has decorated with some Farrow and Ball paint and vintage notions.
Don't forget our blog giveaway! Post a comment before Saturday night to be entered into the draw, Nic x

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Three Sisters Garden Bed

Three Sisters Garden BedJuly 28, 2010
A few days ago a flyer arrived in our mailbox letting us know about a new organic farm operation in our area.  I'm always watching for this type of thing for the fruits and vegetables I either don't grow enough of or don't grow at all.  Yesterday we drove out to see the operation and oh my gosh it is fabulous!  The next few posts will give a bit more on some

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

1:00-3:00

A frequently asked question is… where do I find the time?

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For blogging.

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For sewing.

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For organizing.

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For designing.

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For sleeping…sometimes.

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It’s called “Rest Time”.  It occurs from 1:00-3:00 p.m. in our house, Monday through Friday.  While the littlest naps, the big kids take on some school reading. 

It’s amazing all that can be accomplished in a two hour period once you set your mind to it.  It’s really as simple as that! 

Giant Hogweed

Warnings have been issued for southern Ontario regarding giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) aka giant cow parsley.  This is a  perennial, invasive noxious weed that reaches a height of 5 metres is a public health risk.  The sap contains furocoumarin, a chemical that renders skin extremely susceptible to UV exposure resulting in severe burns and blistering (phytophotodermatitis).  This can

Simple Truth

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Beautiful words.

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Wonderful words.

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No adornment necessary.

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Simple truth, simply put.  In the shop.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Refrigerator Pickles



I made our first batch of refrigerator pickles today. We planted a bunch of pickling cucumbers just so that we could enjoy this wonderful summer treat.


It seems as if the cucumbers grew overnight! One day there were none, the next there were lots!


This is the recipe I used:

Wash fresh picked cucumbers and quarter into spears. Place in a large jar.

In a saucepan, boil:
6 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup organic white vinegar

Set aside to cool. Once cool, pour over cucumbers.

Add:

5 organic garlic cloves
organic fresh dill
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Refrigerate. They should be ready to eat in about five days and will last refrigerated for several months (ours won't last that long).

*I doubled the batch so that there was enough liquid to add more cucumbers along the way.


Once the pickle jar is established, take your fresh picked cucumbers, quarter them into spears, and drop into jar. You'll be able to tell by color (darkest green), which cucumbers have been in the longest and which you'll want to eat first.

Update: After a few rotations of pickles, I found that the flavor had waned so I made a fresh batch of the recipe to refresh the jar.

Weeds, Weeds and More Weeds

The combination of copious amounts of rain daily with high temperatures and humidity have spurred a surge of weeds in the raised garden beds.  I seriously don't mind weeds in my gardens because some of them are edible and others act as companion plants to protect the fruits and vegetables.  However at this point I have no choice but to weed especially when the weeds start overshadowing the

Monday, July 26, 2010

First Tomato of 2010


First TomatoJuly 24, 2010

I picked the first ripe tomato of the season on Saturday.  It is a Tiny Tim and as you can see from the picture of the tomato on 2 - inch ceramic tiles it does live up to its name.  While this little tomato won't be enough for a sandwich I used it in a loaf of Italian Garden bread.  I'm looking forward to many more tomatoes to come!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
©

Ginger Shampoo Recipe

If you love the scent of ginger, this simple shampoo recipe is for you. Ginger stimulates circulation because it increases blood flow to the scalp, so using ginger shampoo regularly may help to promote healthier hair that will grow faster and resist some of the depredations of modern life, like drying out too fast or becoming brittle. Ginger shampoo may also have benefits in controlling

Chronicling Babywise - Week 2

Last week, I wrote a day-by-day, play-by-play journal of our first week using the Babywise routine with our fifth child, Moses, born July 12th. This post is week 2's continuation of our experiences... I hope this journaling of our experiences will be helpful for other moms.

Day 8: As I wrote in the last post, on day 8, I continued feeding every 2 & 1/2 hours (that's measured from the start of one feeding time to the start of the next feeding time) through the day.

On that day, we went to see the pediatrician and she confirmed that there was no jaundice-type coloring, and he weighed in at 30 or 40 grams above his birthweight. Good news all around!

That night, like the few nights before, he slept for one 3-hour cycle, and went every 2 & 1/2 to 3 hours for the rest of the night.

Days 9 & 10
: On these days, there were three noteworthy details:
  • At some point on both days, I had a really hard time keeping him awake for the full feeding. We really had to work at it! Sometimes, just seven or eight minutes into the first side, he was fast asleep. Sometimes it was getting him to latch onto the second side. It's not easy to get a sleepy newborn to eat a full meal, but it's worth it.
  • He slept at night. There weren't wakeful periods in the middle of the night. Because we've been continuing to give him several good quantities of waketime during the daytime, he's sleeping (except for waking up to feed 2-3 times) at night. Which is a real blessing. Even though our sleep is interrupted, at least we can feed him and then all settle back in to sleep.
  • He's beginning to have a bit of chub. :) This is both wonderfully precious and a bit bittersweet... how quickly they grow!
Day 11: Today, I noticed that he is more easily taking the full feeding on the second side. Up until today, I felt like I really had to work (i.e., burping, changing his diaper, undressing him down to the diaper, etc.) to keep him awake and interested in eating on the second side. But today he seemed not only willing but occasionally even hungry to eat on the second side! Yay! Progress!The other thing we've been working on in the past 36 hours or so is transitioning him to laying down while he's still awake, and falling asleep on his own. In that first week or so, we always end up holding, patting, snuggling with the baby as they fall asleep. Heck, that's one of the great things of having an infant-- they love to sleep and look so cute doing it! Plus all the relatives and siblings love to hold the new baby (see the above pictures), so that's additional hands and arms waiting to hold even the sleeping infant.

Anyway, eventually, we work to help the baby get used to going down to sleep in bed by themselves. For me, what that looks like is swaddling the baby snugly, and using one of these:I use a sleep positioner like this (I found mine 8+ years ago at a little thrift store for under a dollar) to help the baby remain on their side. Back to sleep? Tummy sleeping? For my part, I've found that infants feel secure and sleep well when swaddled on their sides, and so that's what we do in the early days with a new baby. I put this down around their torso (supporting their back and in front of their tummy), and then lay them down.

And I don't just lay them down any old time-- I wait for the right window of being still awake but becoming more sleepy. There are times when they are actively alert, looking around, (and later, cooing/interacting/etc.), but just past this time of alertness, there is a 5-15 minute window of time when they are ready for sleep. I always know it if I miss it, because they get overstimulated and it's much harder to settle them down. But if you learn to read your baby's cues, you can see that they start to yawn, or maybe their eyes begin opening and shutting lazily. Once I see those cues, I make sure they don't need a new diaper, get them swaddled, help them take their pacifier (if they use one), and put them down gently -- with a soft "night-night".

So that's the method I used today to try to help Moses get in the habit of falling asleep on his own, in his own bed. Two times out of three, it happened naturally, without any additional assistance. The third time, this evening, he was quiet at first but then fussed about 10 minutes after laying him down, and so we went in, changed his diaper, re-swaddled him, and yet he still fussed after being laid back down. So we got him, figured we'd missed the "window" this go-round, and held him for the 30 minutes of sleep until his next feeding. No biggie. He's still a little guy, but he's learning, and 2 times of falling asleep on his own is a real accomplishment for today! He's doing great.

Days 12 & 13

Here's a quick run-down of our basic routine at this point:
  • He eats every 2 & 1/2 hours or so throughout the day. I say "or so" because it sometimes varies by maybe 30/45 minutes. But of course, being flexible means that there's a basic norm to flex from-- otherwise it's just random and his little body won't have a "norm". So while one day this week, we went to the mall (our vacuum cleaner hose ripped and there was no way to repair it-- and I wanted to be a part of the choosing process-- so we all went to the mall together), and he ate at 10, then at 12:15 (2 hours, 15 minutes between feeds), and then at 3:30 (3 hours, 15 minutes between feeds), our "norm" is that he eats fairly close to every 2 & 1/2 hours throughout the day, unless he's hungry before then, at which point, he eats when he's hungry.
  • Sometimes his waketime is long-- nearly the whole of his feed cycle (for example, this morning, he ate at 7am, and then was awake until 9am, slept from 9-9:30, and ate again at 9:30-- so his "sleep" time was very short for that cycle. And sometimes his waketime is quite short- 15 minutes or so (this afternoon, he did a short waketime and went to sleep and will sleep for an hour and a half or so before his next feeding).
  • At night, I feed him a full feeding just before we go to bed (10/11pm), and then we don't wake him up for feedings at night. He's waking up two times at night- roughly around 2 and roughly around 5. Sometimes it's a little longer between feeds (on night #12, he went 4 & 1/2 hours for the first night cycle), and sometimes it's just about 3 hours precisely between feeds. This doesn't matter so much-- he's only 12 days old, after all. The point is that (a) he's sleeping at nighttime and awake during the day, and (b) he's already naturally taking his longer cycles between feeds during the nighttime hours.
Day 14
The main thing I noticed today (and realized it had happened for at least the two days prior at roughly the same time) was a fussy period around 4pm each day. Gas drops, swaddling, and patting/snuggling help, but only if he decides to fall asleep. If he fights it and fusses, it's a quite lengthy and seemingly painful fussy time. I've decided, based on what time it's happening, that it's possibly a result of my mid-morning latte. My husband, you see, manages a gourmet coffee roasting business, and so I take my portion of delightfully fresh coffee each day. :) I've been enjoying a half-caffeinated version since early on in my pregnancy, and thought that might be sufficient to avoid any problems with caffeine, but now I'm thinking maybe not. Anyway, this week, my husband will brew some decaf for me and we'll see if that resolves this fussy period, or in any way affects it.

Week 2 Wrap-up
On a personal note, I'm absolutely in love with him. :) I love looking at him, talking to him, laying him down beside me on the bed while I fold clothes. I love to snuggle with him close, nuzzle his amazingly soft cheeks, and sing hymns to him (if he's fussy, it settles him down almost immediately!), and when his little brow furrows up to study something or someone, it cracks me up!

He has genuinely smiled at my husband (multiple times, and only to him after my husband has smiled long and intentionally at Moses, so we know it's the real deal, even though "they're not supposed to" yet at this age), he is starting to coo at us, and it is so precious to see him interact with and stare at our other children. He already has brought so much joy into our lives, and he seems quite secure and content for such a little guy.

Regarding Babywise: Virtually any widely-followed parenting approach can be used wisely by parents to bless, or foolishly by parents to curse, their children. But this is how it typically goes for us, and how it's gone for us this last week. Like I said in the first post, I really don't want this post to turn into a referendum on Babywise, because I'm just one lady in this wide world, writing about how things are going with my precious newborn son.

This week, like last week, is a very good representation of how all five of our kids have fared with the Babywise routine in those early months. It helps bring sanity and blissful sleep to the entire family, and has been a blessing in our home. I hope this post encourages and informs other moms looking at their options with newborns/sleep issues.


[Here are links to this whole Babywise series: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Weeks 6 & 7, Weeks 8-14]

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wicker and Wood



I love wicker and I love wood. Either together or separate. I have always been drawn to their warmth. My trip into the big city (Portland, Oregon) last week allowed me to indulge in these affections, as I found a couple of new antique wicker and wood pieces that I adore.

The piece shown above is what I would call art. To me, it's no different than a painting on the wall as it represents a unique expression of creativity and fine craftsmanship. I fell in love with this piece when I saw it, with its beautiful bobbin turned spindles, legs and arms, and pristine rush seat.

It's actually two pieces...called corner chairs. But according to the antique dealer, the chairs were often kept together and used as a bench. I'll keep them together as well.

Since I get a lot of inquiries about pricing of antiques, I will start listing what I've paid for the antiques I buy. This piece was originally priced at $130 for the pair and it was 50% off - so I paid $65. As I said to Hubby, 'that's a great deal.'



I also happened across this antique wicker trunk. I've always loved the look of trunks like these. This one is in pristine condition, so I knew I couldn't pass it up at $40. I love that it's on old, squeaky wheels.


Even the handles are still intact.


The top is in great condition too. By the way...this happens to be the first piece of furniture I've purchased for our growing family.

We'll use it as a toy box. xoxo

The other item I found on my excursion into the big city was an antique French armoire...also for the nursery! We just brought it home over the weekend so it's in several pieces right now - photos will have to follow.

Hubby is still working hard on finishing the dining room (after work and on the weekends). He's hung the drywall and is in the process of finishing up the mud (which takes three coats with a twenty-four hour drying period in between).


As for me, I've been trying to stay off my feet. My ankles, calves and feet have started to swell significantly and the only way to keep the swelling down is to lie down with my feet up (which somehow makes my eyes close).

And as you can see, I'm growing! Everywhere! In fact, soon I will surpass dear six foot four tall Hubby on the scale - ouch.

I'm feeling quite well overall, suffering mostly from pure lack of motivation...hence the lack of posts last week. But I am getting really excited to decorate the nursery. I haven't been running around much the last several months so my trip into Portland last week was a big day for me.

I have a strong vision of what the nursery will look like (I've drawn it out on paper about a dozen times now). The armoire was the major, potentially most challenging, item to acquire so now that we've found that, the rest should come together quite easily.

I'm very excited to share my vision for the nursery with you - and will do so in the coming months!

Turning Leaves

Turning LeavesJuly 23, 2010
My Mom taught me to look to the sky for weather signs.  I learned from a very early age that turning leaves meant very nasty thunderstorms.  Combined with ominous stillness the turning leaves meant the eye of the storm is very close.  Outside the eye of the storm the winds gain speed.  Friday's storm brought the turning leaves pictured yet an eerie stillness before

Waste Not

Our latest craigslist special came with this “waste” pull installed between two antique faucets. 

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It wasn’t useable for the sink anymore, but how could we just throw it out?

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We had been desiring a top for our lantern-turned-waste-can. 

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So husband extraordinaire delivered yet again- this time with a perfect fitting lid.

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And we recycled the waste pull into, well…

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a waste pull!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

10 Reasons to Grow Herbs

10. They're easy to grow -- so easy that in some places they're considered weeds.

9. Many herbs can attract good insects to the garden (because they have a strong aroma/scent) and repel undesirable ones.

8. From appetizers to desserts, they make inspired garnishes for most dishes.

7. They'll happily take up residence in the most rocky, barren corner of your landscape and still give you a good

Yesterday's Storm

We have had a very nasty bout of violent storms over the past few days.  Yesterday one of these storms blew up so I took a few video clips.  This video clip does not show the full force of the violence as I ended up having to take cover.  Cedar trees to the left just out of range of the camera moments later were bent almost in half.  The rain came down so hard the garden was barely visible. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bathing Bohemian Style

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I really do like color. 

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In small doses. 

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And the bathroom is the perfect spot for it.

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A couple of years ago I found this bohemian style skirt at Macy’s in the girl’s section. 

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I snatched it up, knowing it was not destined to live its life hung from my little girl’s hips.

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No, it needed to be hung somewhere in my house to liven things up a bit. 

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I think it adds an element of surprise, wouldn’t you say?

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The legs of this sink were old bed posts we found at the local junk shop.  Flipped upside down, they make quirky legs for the antique marble sink we got off craigslist.

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The top came with the ugliest shiny brass legs with chicken feet. 

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The mirror was just a frame from an antique store.  We had a mirror cut for it.  My handy husband made an inset cabinet behind it.  The frame came in black, which I almost kept as is, but ended up painting it my signature color.  (if you haven’t guessed, that would be white)

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The sweet enameled container on the wall came from TJ Maxx.  I use it to store paper towels for drying.

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The vintage looking wall hook is from Pottery Barn.  I purchased it using a gift card I won from Houzz’s interview with Miss Mustard Seed (aka Marian).  So now you know I always think of my bloggy friends every time I enter the restroom.

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But maybe that’s not the most flattering thought.  Moving along…

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On the other wall, we have a three tier basket from Pier-1 for storage.  And another Pottery Barn purchase is sitting beside it.  It’s advertised as a hurricane lamp, but it’s more useful as a waste can.  We have fancy plans for the top.  Stay tuned!

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Thanks for visiting our little pocket of color!

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