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:
ball of scrap yarn
3 – small twigs, approximately the same diameter and length. Straight is good.
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.
Take two twigs and make a cross shape. Attach securely 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.
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.
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.
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.
In front of our house stand three majestic maple trees whose leaves turn brilliant red, yellow and orange each fall. Set against the bright blue sky on an incredibly mild fall day, I couldn’t help but lay down in the pile of fallen leaves with the kids enjoying the crunching sound under me, the smell of fallen leaves and the colours. A day of gratitude to remember in the cold of February.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I’d like to introduce to you our newest product: Shoo! Outdoor Body Spray. It’s not just a spray to make you smell nice, it is a bug repellant. Why didn’t we just call it bug repellant? It’s complicated, but suffice to say that cosmetic laws in Canada are sometimes baffling.
This is a product we’ve been working on since 2010. It’s been a long time coming and with lots of research and field testing, we’re pretty happy with the results! We’ve drawn on some of the latest research and traditional ingredients to make what we feel is an effective bug repellant.
The base ingredient is certified organic soybean oil. We use certified organic to ensure that the oil is NOT generated from genetically modified organisms (GMO), something we are concerned about at Anointment. Most conventionally grown soybeans are grown from GMO seeds. Soybean oil will provide protection against mosquitoes for 3 hours and up to 8 hours for black flies according to Health Canada.
We also use a considerable amount of neem oil. Neem tree oil enjoys an important position in Ayurvedic medicine and in addition to being an insect repellant it is useful in safely removing pests from plants and crops. Neem oil has a very distinct smell described by some as ‘peanuts and garlic’.
These two oils are combined and infused with lemongrass and bay leaf at low temperatures to extract the beneficial properties of these plants to the oil. Once infused the oils are strained and hand-blended with a mix of cedarwood (0.5%), lemongrass (0.5%) and eucalyptus (0.2%) essential oil.
Eucalyptus should never be taken internally and should never be applied undiluted to the skin. Please take extreme care that your children and babies do not have access to Shoo! Outdoor Body Spray or any other bug repellant product. Always apply bug spray to clothing first and then spray on an adult’s hand to apply to the skin of children. For extra safety, do not apply to the faces and hands of children under three. Wee ones are prone to putting their hands in their mouths!
All of our research indicates that this product is acceptable for pregnant and breastfeeding women. We do recommend following the same instructions as for children: spray your clothing first and then apply to skin if needed.
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.
Another “before” and “progress”. Here is the barn that will house our chickens this spring. Jeff worked very hard stripping the old shingles, reframing windows, lifting and leveling the building, re-sheathing and re-shingling. My husband works so hard! He is amazing.
The barn looks fantastic, I can’t wait to show you “after afters” once we get the great lights up that I gave Jeff for Christmas. Sounds like a weird gift, I know, but we’re a practical bunch…
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