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Halloween Spider Web

I like to decorate for Halloween, but I don’t like to buy plastic zombie babies (they gross me out) or fake spider web only to throw it out on November 1. I decided to make some spider webs from yarn and twigs – I thought this was such a great idea to decorate without using disposable plastic decorations and it’s something you could store an use again next year! It’s a quick craft, I did it in about fifteen minutes with a toddler roaming around, so it really IS that easy. The most time consuming part was finding three suitable twigs. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pruning shears
  • scissors
  • ball of scrap yarn
  • 3 – small twigs, approximately the same diameter and length. Straight is good.
  • floral wire

Step 1
Collect three dry, straight twigs approximately 2 cm in diameter and as long as you’d like. The length will determine how big your spider web will be. Use your pruning shears to cut the twigs to length.

Step 2

attach two twigs with floral wire

Take two twigs and make a cross shape. Attach securely with floral wire.

add a third twig diagonally across, secure with floral wire

Add the third twig diagonally to the second, secure. Have your yarn close by, tie one end of the yarn around one of the twigs.

Step 3
I am going to assume that at one time or another, you all made a God’s Eye ornament. I actually had no idea they were called this until this year, which shows how secular my upbringing was, but if you haven’t made one or need a refresher, here is a tutorial.

yarn woven around the sticks

Begin weaving the yarn around each twig, around and around. Don’t fill in the entire space, you want it to look a bit loose and filmy like a real spider web. Continue to the end of the stick. Attach a loop of yarn to one twig and hang. I have mine hanging with a display of rose bush branches and cattails from my yard.

wind blowing through

As the web has been hanging outside for a week or more, the wind has blown and battered it. I actually like this, some of the yarn is bunched together – it gives it a spookier Halloween look.

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{details}

Adapted from Soulemama‘s “…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.”

Rather than capture a “moment”, I feel inspired to capture the small details around me, to remind me to stop and smell the roses in this new iteration of our lives.

first day of school

If you’ve noticed interesting {details} around you, please share or leave a link in the comments.

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Sunflower + Calendula Soap

Last week I had the opportunity to lead a soapmaking workshop with a small group of youth from the Sackville Community Garden. Using organic sunflower oil and dried calendula (a type of marigold with excellent skin soothing properties) from their garden we made a small batch of a lovely mild soap.

This was a first for me – I have never given a soapmaking workshop before. I have learned that my workshop space is not particularly well suited to having a group of people! I did enjoy the process and got a rare chance to experiment with a new recipe AND make soap in a rectangular mold for the first time (oh how it is so simple compared to round molds)! It remains to be seen how interested the youth were – their willingness to participate in the process – well, they were a bit stoic about the whole thing but maybe they’ll come to appreciate it later on.

Sunflower oil contains a high percentage of high-oleic acid oils which makes the soap much slower to harden than I am used to – after 48 hours they were still easily ‘smooshable’ when removing them from the molds.

Sunflower + Calendula Soap

This soap also contains a small amount of annatto seed infused in the lye, giving the soap a lovely light yellow colour and tiny reddish flecks. I can’t wait to try it out and compare it to the super-secret-and-highly-coveted Anointment soap formula.

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Spring {bee} Cleaning



Honey


Hopefully there aren’t too many of you having heart palpitations at the sight of so many bees! It was time to open the hive and check out how our colony did over the winter, clean out the detritus of the winter and get the hive ready for another season. We’re thrilled they made it through just fine and have about thirty pounds of honey to spare. We are working on getting that honey out of there so they have plenty of room for this year’s production (and we can enjoy the spoils) – this is proving more difficult than we thought since of course the engineers want to build their own centrifuge. We’re gathering parts…

I’m excited that oatmeal + honey soap will soon be made with honey by our own bee colony. Gathered from the clover and goldenrods of the Tantramar Marshes.

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Sugarin’

Sugarin'

For the last few years my brother has been tapping his trees, collecting sap and making maple syrup in small quantities (2-3 litres) for our own use. This year we were so excited to collect our own sap from four very large and mature maple trees in our own backyard. On a good day these four trees will produce 20 L of sap which will translate to about 500 mL of syrup. We boiled down the sap on the weekend over a wood stove in my brother’s garage. Next year, we’ll plan a party around sugarin’ time!

Last week we had RECORD high temperatures that caused the sap flow to stop and many of us feared the season was over. My brother’s trees were producing “cloudy” sap, an indication that the buds were formed and that the sap was no longer useful for sugaring. Our own trees, however, seem to have restarted, so there is still hope for the seaon!

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Number ONE Birthday

Percherons
Percherons
Lovely Horses
Lovely Horses
sleeping boy
Lulled to Sleep
Cuddles

This weekend we celebrated our baby’s number ONE birthday. I can’t believe the year has come and gone. We all – my parents, my brother, friends – shook our heads and said “I can’t believe how much has changed in a year”. 366 days since we sold a business, sold a home, bought a home, moved a home, renovated a home and settled into a home. Grew a newborn into a toddler, watched our pre-school daughter blossom into a little girl with grown up teeth and a personality that has blossomed with room to use her imagination. Watched our pre-school son make meaninful friendships and settle into the community. It’s been amazing and we’ve never been happier.

We enjoyed a full weekend of celebrations with homemade pizza and cake on his actual birthday and a wagon ride through the woods courtesy of our “up the road” neighbour, Melbourne Smith. Melbourne is a man I have talked to only a few times since moving here but his passion for horses is evident in all he does. He truly is a “horse whisperer” and a master at training, showing and handling. We’re very lucky to have him close by and I hope to learn from him in the coming years. His quiet pride for his animals and confidence in his knowledge is impressive and inspiring.

The rhythmic movement of horses moving through a snow-covered woods road relaxed everyone and made some of the kids sleepy. We enjoyed conversation and the sunny Sunday air and the pleasure of company.

We celebrated with friends and food and conversation and ended the day exhausted and thankful for the community we have around us and for the growth of our family this past year.

Happy Birthday, baby. You changed everything for us and we’re so glad you did.

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A taste of spring

Bike Rides!
Bike Rides!

Did you experience that weather yesterday? I hope whatever life had in store you were able to get out and enjoy some of that sun. Honestly, even the Tantramar breezes were warm, that hardly ever happens. It truly was a LARGE day if ever I saw one.

We made the best of the afternoon with a bit of a bike ride. It’s a little cumbersome in winter boots and mitts, but it was still amazing. Spirits were lifted, dogs were walked, babies strolled and the kids stretched their legs.

It may not yet be the Spring Equinox, but wow, what a magnificent taste!

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Fall Fair

he made it to the top of the hay fort!

:: Agricultural Field Day at our local farms – it took some scrambling but he made it to the top!

8th generation farm girl!

:: My friend Mary Ellen (LOVE the monogrammed coveralls), 8th generation to farm her family’s dairy farm, Prospect Acres and one of only a handful of women farmers. She showed us around the dairy farm and we learned how milk is produced.

barn cats

:: This kid is an animal whisperer – she has a true knack for working with and handling animals. She was able to handle the barn cats with no trouble at all and didn’t care in the least that we were on a DAIRY farm. I mean, there were cats. How could she focus on anything else?

ayrshire dairy cattle eating supper

:: Mary Ellen and her brother James breed registered Ayrshire cattle rather than the more common Holstein dairy cattle.

heaven for a little boy

:: This kid is a mechanic in training. Does it have a motor? If the answer is yes, he wants to know how it works.

All in all a very fun, full, fulfilling and enlightening weekend!

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Fall…

Did you all see the Harvest Moon this week? It was astoundingly bright, big, orange and impossible to miss. Fall is here, the Equinox is coming. We’re getting organized and back into routines. Waking up to dark mornings and heavy fog on the marsh that lifts to reveal sun and warm afternoons. I’m wearing a fall jacket when I head out to the bus stop in the mornings now with my daughter. I’m wearing shorts and a tank top when she comes home again.

We’re preparing for the change of seasons, slowly and in small ways. I am looking forward to the steady stream of contractors wrapping up and leaving me with a quieter home again. I’m settling into the rooms, thinking about hibernating with a wood stove and pumpkin pies. I’m thinking about sewing projects and actually heard myself utter the words “stocking stuffers” today while shopping at the local health food store and signing the kids up for skating lessons.

Around our yard and home the colours of Fall are popping up everywhere.

Pie Pumkins!

:: The pumpkins are ripening on the vine. I’m looking forward to one pumpkin pie after another all season long! The butternut squash are looking equally healthy. Squash soup and tomato pie, here we come!

Sunflowers

:: Anna’s sunflowers are showing their faces to the bright afternoon sun!

Ripe Raspberries

:: Our raspberries are better late than never!

The Honey Our Bees Made!

:: We managed to harvest a very small amount of honey from our backyard hive. The hive smells strongly of goldenrod and aster, so does the honey in fact. It tastes delicious on toast!

Fall Scarf

:: This yarn turned into this scarf. I also see that my skin is changing as I get older.

Fall Posies

:: Hand-hooked in Sackville, NB by heartandhook. Purchased at The Crofter on Bridge Street. Love. It’s living on my fall coat right now.

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Sandpiper Songs

One thing I had forgotten about this area is the annual migration of Semipalmated Sandpipers, Lesser Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers at Johnson’s Mills, NB near Dorchester Cape. Each year as a kid my family would visit the beach to watch the flocks of birds – numbering more than 250 000 feed on mud shrimp in preparation for their four-day non-stop migratory flight to South America. My friend Sam, a wildlife biologist with Environment Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service), Jeff and our five collective children took a drive to Dorchester Cape yesterday to watch the birds. We arrived just as the tide was retreating and were rewarded with an estimated 250 000 birds sitting on the mud flats waiting for the opportune time to start feeding. We watched hawks try to prey on the birds, saw a seagull actually eat one which startled the entire flock and they began flying about the beach in the formations shown in the video.

Jeff shot this video with his iPhone, and it’s not as much of a close up as we would have liked – the flocks of birds look a bit like swarms of bugs, but it is breathtaking and amazing to watch nature in action. The Nature Convervancy of Canada has purchased and protected hundreds of acres of land in and around Johnson’s Mills to help protect these species at risk in the Bay of Fundy.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Bay of Fundy, it has the highest tides in the world with high and low tide heights varying by about 13 metres (40-44 feet) twice each day. Here is some spectacular time-lapse photography of the Hopewell Rocks.

Here is a video by the Nature Conservancy and some local biologists (I see you guys every week at the Farmer’s Market) that shows some interesting footage of the birds in flight!