The sun has set and it’s not yet 4:30! The days have been grey, but every evening the horizon hosts a brilliant pink and gold sunset, fading in the west to a gentle dream-like purple. It only skims the skyline below the grey cloud, but it is beautiful! My window faces the west.
We are having very happy days, my Mom is visiting and we have been spending time knitting by the fire sipping peppermint tea, re-potting plants, going for long winter walks with the dogs, watching silly Holiday movies and gushing over Collette O’Neill of Bealtaine Cottage. She brought rose plants for me, hand-sewn bags for our etsy shop and little pieces of porcelain. Every evening we have been having delicious home cooked meals (last night was a fish chowder – one of my favourite meals of all time… not stereotypical at all for a Maritimer) and I’ve just felt so warm and happy. Tomorrow, I am working in one of the libraries (and consequently, going to the Spinners & Weavers Guild to do some spinning and dyeing!) so we will say goodbye just for a short while.
We both love to use our hands – create! Since she has been here she has made a sweater for a wee one and has already started a pair of baby soakers (She has two grandchildren on the way and I am soon to be an aunt to 3!!!). I have attached the arms of the grey lopi sweater and put it aside to work on a pair of lopi mittens for the Etsy shop. I also finally used some calendula and rose infused oil, combined with beeswax and spruce sap that I collected last winter to create a salve.
We also went to a plant shop in Charlottetown this week to bring home a little bit of pure happiness. Plants are so expensive so I just continually get clippings from other plants, root or start from seeds but occasionally, I buy a new plant >.< I bought a little cactus and a succulent. I also received a very sacred package from Incredible Seed Company in Nova Scotia. I ordered a some seeds that need warm and then cold stratification in order for them to germinate. I will be busy this weekend 🙂 I have already started dreaming about planting for next year so there is nothing better than getting started early 😀
And now, I am sitting by the fire listening to the ambient works of Aphex Twin. My Mom and Jamie are making dinner together and I am going to join them. I do hope you enjoy this and are finding happiness and solace in the darker part of the year (and happiness to all those in the light half!).
Well, the pink moon has passed but any opportunity to quote Nick Drake 🙂
The weather is WARM and the sun has been gracing us with his presence! I am happy, so incredibly happy. A little sun burnt and exhausted but so full of the cleansing, full happiness that fresh air and manual labour brings. I’m back to communing with the land, with roots and branches, robins and bluejays. April is a muddy and plan brown (or red on PEI), drab time of year here, but as soon as you get outside and take a wee closer look at the earth, the trees the colours of life on this green earth are just abounding.
The work on our 1.25 acre is endless. Especially since our plans include using every inch of space for flower, vegetable and herb gardens, animals and trees. We have a huge checklist which includes new gardens, a ton of raking, preparing wood for next winter, tending to our forest (really a small wood but the forest just sounds so much more majestic ;)), mulching, digging, burning, felling trees (I’m starting to sound a little destructive but it’s all part of the process!).
This week has been g l o r i o u s. I completely disconnected from instagram and feel as free as a bird by just removing myself from social media. The earth is speaking to all of us, if we listen and work with her.
At this time of year, we are not even touching vegetable gardens because the earth is too damp to turn. So, it’s mainly raking, woodland, and clearing up flower gardens. I even started to plant some chestnuts that have sprouted in our basement. I hope you enjoy the photos of our work and can not WAIT to show you the contrast of now and a couple of months!
I N S I D E
And on the indoor front – it’s getting a little wild! The plants are shooting up and need daily care. The tomatoes are strong and the herbs already fragrant. The lupin seeds I collected on the side of the road last year have sprouted and I am beyond excited to give back to the insects of our world!
A P R I L P I C K S
I’m reading OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon and I can already say that it is fantastic. A friend of mine suggested it when I told her I was watching the show and felt like it was made for us (plants, magic, Highlands of Scotland, yes please!). I stopped watching it immediately and started the book
I’m also reading through some Norwegian Folk Tales as well as our man, Ronald Hutton’s Witches, Druids and King Arthur.
TV / PODCASTS
Other than repeatedly watching Tales from the Green Valley, I’ve been listening to The Higherside Chats with Greg Carlwood – about fringe topics. He has an episode on PLANTS that I definitely suggest called “Earth Alchemy, Plant Spirits, & Engineered Abundance” with Shamangineer. My sister suggested it to me and I am hooked. It’s available both in his website and youtube.
Maybe I’ll reveal a part of myself I don’t tend to share on the internets but, I was thinking of making a compilation of books/videos/documentaries on modern fairy lore. I’ll start with a really fun documentary that hits very close to home here on the East Coast ❤ ❤ ❤
This month was strange in a sense. I feel like the whole world is in chaos and I am merely turned to the fringes – looking to the stars, the moon and the earth. Withdrawing further and further. I’ve always felt that the best form of protest is to rely on yourself and your close community and environment for the necessities in life. This month, I focused on making for the shop, exploring, visiting my family in Nova Scotia and working on a few new things.
M A K I N G
Our seasons have such different impacts on my creative or making world. Each one, I swear, it will be my most productive, most fulfilling season. As soon as Autumn approaches, winter will be the month that I learn that new skill, knit something totally new and time consuming. I imagine myself stuck up in my studio (spare bedroom 😉 and painting blindly, on a diet of tea and well more tea. SO absorbed that I forget to eat. Of course… it never exactly turns out this way :p
Calendula & Lavender Soap
We use the cold soap making process, which includes binding a lye solution* with a fat or oil. The result is, if you ask me – pure magic (or chemistry). When these two meet, saponification (I thought the word soaponification when my mom was teaching me 😉 occurs. The lye and oil mixtures bind together (after a great deal of stirring – we actually use a hand blender) and form the wonderful substance we know to be soap 😀 I think of it being a little like cheese since it must cure for a couple of months before you can actually use it.
My knowledge is limited (I never was very good at chemistry) but I understand the recipe and that it is a really liberating way to live your life. I feel like I am doing something productive AND feel so good using this soap. The recipe we make makes about 36-40 bars.
In this batch – we added the calendula infused oil, dried calendula petals, dried lavender and lavender essential oil. You can really add anything you want. Once, we added cinnamon. My next batch, I want to use ground coffee grinds for after working in the garden. All of it organically grown and dried at home.
My Dad is a wizard when it comes to making. This visit, I worked with him to carve 2 spoons from an old apple tree that fell during a storm. I sadly didn’t take many pictures of the process but they turned out beautifully and I’m so happy with them! I still have to go out to the store to buy some Tung Oil to seal them up, but for now behold what you can do with wood!
One day, I became obsessed with the idea of carving my own spoons for making my herbal tea mixtures. I often find myself just pouring right from the mason jar into my tea filter or I even just put my hands right in there (don’t ask why I didn’t use a spoon I already have..). I wanted to make a spoon to deepen and enhance that connection with the herbs that I drink. I feel like the plants that I grow and dry myself deserve a little extra attention when I’m making a nourishing infusion.
Again, I would like to make a post about the carving process. During one of the wild storms we had in November, one of our old apple trees fell so I am excited about having access to this beautiful hard wood!
I have been drinking a squash smoothie every morning. January I successfully did not have a single cup of coffee and replaced it with green tea and strangely you may think… squash. It’s so delicious though! I have been blending pureed squash from the garden with frozen banana, almond milk, pure maple syrup, nuts and some spices. Look at how beautiful squash is….
K N I T T I N G
This month, I completed a Lopi Sweater for the Etsy shop, 8-10 pairs of Fingerless mittens for the shop and started to knit my rowan tweed aran Stole. I have a lot of work to do preparing the listings for all the new knits and will make a blog post about these while I am making the listings. So much to do this week, eep!
I posted a couple pictures of the stole up on Instagram, but here it is again! I wanted it to look a little bit like a baby blanket. Something pretty but practical. I live in a stole my mom made for me many years ago. I relate to Holden in Catcher in the Rye, my big cozy stole/shawl is his cap. My protector in the form of a sheep’s wool and just a little bit of magic. I will write more about this shawl when I finish in February.
B O O K S & R E A D I N G
Most of you won’t know, but I have a Masters Degree in Library Science. I love to read which is what led me down the path to become a librarian. I enjoy librarianship however, a sequence of events began to point me in another direction. I have accepted it and now embrace a making / artist / homesteading life. A childhood dream that I definitely never thought would be possible!
House of Splendid Isolation by Edna O’Brien (1994)
Okay, so I actually read this in December, but I will include it anyway >.< I am someone who is easily swayed by cover images or titles. The title conveys everything I love in books. An eerily haunted feeling of living somewhere beyond the norm. I could only guess it would have someone looking back at their past, of a life perhaps when the house was full of life. Anyway! it actually did have this very element, but it was so run on and all over the place. I wasn’t even clear who characters were or what was going on. I read chapters while not being clear on literally anything! Sadly, the past recollection was a fail for me. However the present was very interesting. It tells the story of a notorious IRA volunteer who takes refuge in an old manor house and holds the elderly woman (the only remaining resident) “hostage.”
Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill (first preformed in 1956)
My grandfather was a theater actor and left us with many classic plays. My favourite that he was in and left us with, is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. I’m determined when I go home, to read at least one of the plays there. This month, I chose the classic Eugene O’Neill play.
A semi-autobiographical play set in a single day of the Tyrone’s family life while they reside at their summer home in sea-side Connecticut. It was very, very good and I suggest it for anyone who loves literature or playwrights.
The Dean’s Watch by Elizabeth Goudge (1960)
I have NO idea how I ended up reading this book. It was on my Goodreads “to reads” list and I randomly came across it while I was at the library and remembered the name. I’m not sure how it ended up on my list. Anyway, it was a very heartwarming story (such a contrast to the former) about the relationships of a group of unexpected misfits in Victorian England. I really enjoyed it.
I’m currently reading Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and a graphic novel about Tetris. Desperately need to go to the library! This week, I will take out a couple of new books.
N A T U R E & E X P L O R I N G
Since I went to Nova Scotia for 2 weeks, I spent a lot of time outdoors. More than normal for this time of year since the weather was so mild and pleasant. Usually, I cross-country ski when I’m out there but this year was strange. We didn’t have enough snow to ski so I was walking in the woods. Since it was so nice out, I had several fires with the trees, having tea and just sitting watching the smoke and listening to the wind.
An old friend of mine and I drove out one day to Tor Bay Provincial Park and up around Cape George. It is so beautiful, the ocean is so powerful and Nova Scotia just always takes me breath away. When Jamie came out to the house, we also drove out to Tor Bay. It’s a special, special beach with rocks that look like beached whales and white sand.
A R T
February will bring more art… this is what I tell myself. I will be locked away working fervently ; )
T U R N of the W H E E L
Today is Imbolc, The first of February. The beginning of spring in Ireland and the half way mark here in Canada 😉 We have a lot planned for the month with visits and hiking. I have a lot to do with our etsy shop that I hope to have ready by the weekend. Thank you so much for taking the time, even if it’s just to look through the photos (I know a lot of writing can be daunting and annoying sometime).
*lye (sodium hydroxide) is VERY caustic so its’s very important to have supplies that are strictly for soap making and wear protective gear. It’s also important to keep any pets away from the area that you work and have a window open for air flow! Once you get over the ‘scary’ aspect of lye, you will enter the very exciting world of making your own soap and no longer relying on the harsh soaps of the divorced from nature world!