1870’s PEI Farmhouse Bathroom Reno

Hello!!!

I am so excited to share with you the first major renovation in our house!!  I am a little overwhelmed over how positive an impact a bathroom can have on your well being, but there it is!  After 13 months, we have a shower and a spot where I feel I can dedicate to self-care.  Yay!

We bought our house in late 2015 – an 1870’s farmhouse in the country outside of Charlottetown, P.E.I (Canada’s smallest province in the East of Canada!  Home of our girl Anne).  We loved the house when we first went to see it and were so eager to own our home that we jumped at the chance – affordable, close to town, private.  It checked so many boxes while at the same time we knew the immense challenge that was ahead of us.  At 26/27 years old and going from living in Apartments and town houses with roommates, the house was perfect – no changes needed – but for one very obvious eye sore – the upstairs bathroom (although now, it’s almost every room that we want to update).

Homes from the 19th century, especially country homes were not built with plumbing and washrooms in mind.  I’m not sure where the old outhouse must have been (although, I did dig up a spot where the red earth is black – so perhaps this was it) but there is no doubt that one would have been used for likely 40/50 years. This room on the 2nd floor is odd- it’s a small corridor room which links the upstairs bedroom area to another room (which now has our laundry).  So there is a very old style of door with a latch as the far wall.  It definitely was not meant to be a bathroom but when bathrooms became in vogue (thank you) it was the top choice for the previous inhabitants.

The room is tiny and based around the doors on opposing sides.  We had to think of a way to compactly fit a shower, sink and storage without obstructing the door to the hallway or the laundry room.  I didn’t take a lot of before pictures because I thought of it a little too late, but I have a few to share with you…

BEFORE PICTURES 

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For a year, this shower was a board over some old pipes – not used – just a constant reminder of “this needs to be done at some point..”
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View from the latch door, laminate wall, a sink from maybe the 50s or 60s?  and just.. lovely as can be clearly seen
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The Floor – a linoleum glued to a base board – a joy to rip out (not really, it was glued with a vengeance)

 

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The view from the shower – The wall with the toilet paper is covering some plastic pipes.

So, as you can see the space was challenging.  We looked up “Windowless bathrooms” to try to get an idea of what we could do.  This…. was often not even helpful because image search results would reveal picture after picture of beautifully sunlit bathrooms, full of plants (sigh). We knew we wanted a couple of things:  a small, compact sink, more lights, tiled floor and walk in tile shower with a glass door.

What would life be if you didn’t have some help?  We are so grateful to have had Jamie’s Dad help us (okay he probably did about 95 per cent of the work).  Jamie and I are not handy at all – maybe if we didn’t have the option of asking for help, but it’s just not innate to either of us.  Both of our Dads however, are very “handy”  (is there a real word – I’ve only ever known Handy haha).  He and Jamie put up the walls, constructed the shower, laid the tile floor, did the electricity for the new lights.  He transformed this tiny space into exactly what we envisioned.

AFTER

The same view of the washroom as the first Before picture – Jamie’s Dad built a wall for the shower.  We also wanted a bit more colour in here so painted just the built wall and behind the toilet a sage green.  I wanted to evoke the feeling of just the natural world a tiny bit. We also put a mirror on this wall to open the space a little bit.

The space for the shower was pretty awkward to figure out.  The previous shower was a corner shower insert which actually covered quite a bit of the door. We decided to work with the space we had and build a wall which has a shelf insert on the other side and subway tiling so that all would be required for the shower is a glass door.  We bought the cheapest shower door at Home Depot we could, I think it was around $250.00 CAD and is pretty awesome. Jamie and I spent a lot of time looking at tile and doors and trying to figure out how we would do this.  When we told Jamie’s Dad our plan (which seemed inconceivable to us), he figured it out and made it a reality!

Shower!  A large Spa Shower head and subway tiles
The floor of the shower – small honeycomb tiles
Shower space – an old professor of Jamie’s is a blacksmith hobbiest and made us some iron hooks.

We ended up going with subway tile because it is affordable and pretty timeless as a style. We also chose a dark large tile for the floor.  I originally wanted black but the stores didn’t have a matte finished black.  The finished floor tile is a kind of charcoal, chalk board black which I really love!

Shower from the entrance – we did take a trip to Ikea in Dartmouth, NS and bought the sink, mirror and storage unit

The 19th century (or early 20th, note sure) door was a feature I absolutely wanted to keep.  I really love these style of doors so we just put a coat of paint over it. Jamie’s Dad also put up the sconce lighting and probably one of my favourite features of the room, a dimmer.

A fake plant because… there is absolutely no natural light coming into this room and of course a difuser with some lavender and ylang ylang
A laundry basket for towels, etc. And a new cozy spot for the cats ^.^
Self-Care ❤

And there you have it!  I do hope you like our small bathroom.   It is so small that it is a little awkward to take photos of at certain angles, so the photos I am sharing are pretty limited.

It’s funny – I watch a lot of house shows – house hunters/ house hunters international.  I love looking at old homes (1960s and earlier) and am always SO confused by the people in the show.  They always want everything you could possibly imagine – walk in closet, double vanity, high ceilings, 2 car garage (blablabla, the list always seems endless)  but they also often want an old home with character.   They seem utterly horrified by small washrooms and closets, by small anything really.  I always think now, how much I love this small washroom – that it’s perfect and fits us so perfectly!

The design Jamie’s Dad built for the pipe – Petey has really been enjoying sitting up here
North Shore with Henry and Jamie ❤ Now, finally when we come home having salty hair from the sea, we can actually have a shower (sigh of relief)  *and yes that is Henry fetching a stick – girl loves to swim*

Next for this old farmhouse, a new roof, our bedroom and the sunroom.  Maybe in the next 3 years we can share the finished results with you ❤

Be well and Take care ❤

April Garden

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Siberian Squill knows!  The first flower to emerge ❤

A Very Happy Bealtaine to everyone!

Even with the steady grey sky and rain, I feel so full of life and happiness!  The buds on the trees are swelling, the squill and and lungwort blooming!  I even spotted my kale peaking above the soaking earth.  It has been so damp here, so there is a fire on but we have plenty of firewood left over from the winter so it doesn’t bother me so.

The mercury hasn’t dipped below 0 for the past week or two – I have planted our potatoes, kale, onions, rutabaga and all kinds of random flower seeds.  I’ve transplated some chives and rhubarb and echinacea.  I even broke up the root of a comfrey plant and stuck two pieces of it elsewhere – they are already coming up! My hope this year is to make lots of comfrey fertilizer teas for my plants and young trees.

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My work table, transformed by seedlings, can you identify any of these plants?

Oh, there isn’t much to share in way of gardening photographs!  Outside, although the smell of damp earth is intoxicating and there is a little bit of green finding it’s way up, up up – it is still mostly shades of brown and grey. I have a feeling that in the next week all of the buds will burst.  The surrounding landscape will remain muddy until the fields have been planted but at least the trees will soon breath again.

The life that I’ve spotted gleefully includes, lupins planted last summer, echinacea, poppies, sedum, a thousand maple trees (I think I’ll pick 10-20 to come up), some chestnut, rhubarb, catnip and roses. Some of the garlic has also begun to crest the straw.  Inside, I have tomatoes, peppers and flowers galore!  Chamomile, Hollyhocks, Marigolds.  I imagine an old fashioned garden full of fairy tale flowers.  Someday, I hope to have the property completely enclosed by trees and shrubs and inside an oasis of flowers.

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It may look a little gloomy – but there is a bit of green and things are growing!!
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Still a snow mound a few weeks back – but the sky isn’t completely pitch at 9pm
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sowing seeds in trays
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A helper, always
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My beloved Witch Hazel!!  Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana) is native to the Maritime Provinces – I planted this one in November and am so in love with this little plant!
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Tomatoes
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Lavender, each with a crystal companion
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Catnip!  Planted in the potato bed to help ward off the dreaded potato beatle
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Supper Outside the other day – and some very excitable explorers
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Transplanted a couple of tomato plants and put some dog hair around them for warmth in the sun room.  My friend is a dog groomer and brought me a massive bag of hair for my garden! Hair is so rich in all kinds of trace elements really ideal for the soil (also, helps keep pests away!).
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The Lilac was cut back last year, but look at all of this growth and life ❤
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The pond and our little wood – so much to do, our place will likely be pretty wild this summer
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Saying goodbye to April 2018, welcome May ❤

 

Goodbye and Blessed Bealtaine!  The sun is actually here!  I watched a really wonderful movie on Netflix Yesterday called “Dare to be Wild”  (I may have been crying for most of the film) and then continued to listen to Mary Reynolds speak in a podcast.  I highly suggest, she is amazing!

I wish I could leave you with the sound of our chimes!  I’m sitting in the sunroom, windows open wide listening to the birds (I wrote burds and it made me laugh) and the gentle chimes.  It’s cold and there is a fire on, but I don’t really care. Perhaps I’ll try to post it on my instagram stories, I feel a strange sense of completeness hearing them.

Green Blessings!!

 

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The sun decided to come for a visit

 

 

Parcels, Love & Changing Seasons

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Pangur & Petey – brothers

G o o d m o r n i n g!

This morning was so incredibly special – Henry and I went out for a walk as the sun was rising in the hopes of walking on still frozen ground rather than sinking in the mud!  There was a dusting of snow and the sun actually rose, higher and higher still!  I was walking with the sun filtering through the trees, illuminating the fluffy blanket of snow and reflecting off of the ever growing river.  The geese honking, spiralling down to rest on the river.

I wish I brought my phone with me! I was just wishing I could bring you along on that special walk, share how beautiful it was.  I kept telling myself *I’m meant to experience this not through a screen.*  Especially because at present – it’s snowing and there is very little visibility.  Weather is so changeable on islands.

A flock of cedar waxwings greeted us in the Pine by the front door, so beautiful.  When I got inside, I had a missed call from the library to work today.  By the time I called them back, they had found someone else so now I am happy to be sitting with a smoothie, espresso and a full denim outfit with wool socks.  No one judges here 😉

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A surprise package from Rhode Island! Lovely stamp and writing! 

I wanted to share with you some very exciting packages that I received this week.  I am just amazed at the absolute happiness and joy that comes in the form of a brown envelope and full of thoughtful musings  from a distant kindred.  It brightens a day and really just stirs a sense of love and appreciation!  Renewing stagnant energy – thank you, thank you!

A certain Fairy soul named Jen from Rhode Island sent me this very unexpected package.  A definite kindred with a love for the natural world and disconnecting from the sway of the screen.  It was so lovely, I thought I’d share little pieces from it…

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A certain kitty was very interested – as was I!  Look at how beautiful this is and if you can imagine the smell ❤

 

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A Turmeric Milk Mixture – This is so amazingly good – I will probably finish this today and hoping to concoct my own at home.  Often when I make Turmeric milk at home, I make a one off cup simmered on the stove – but this was so easy to make – just add to hot water and froth whatever milk you choose.
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Handmade and handpressed cards!  This is so cute – the mittens are based on the flying geese pattern which is an East Coast Tradition (be it along the north-eastern seaboard of the States and in Canada)
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Turmeric Milk in my favourite cup – and a beeswax herbal candle for Spring Equinox ❤
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SEEDS!!  You can never have enough seeds and funny enough, I was kicking myself for not ordering any Sweet Pea this year and well in my opinion you can never have enough Chamomile – ever.  I have never grown stock before so that will be fun!   

How sweet are all of these things?? I feel very blessed and happy to receive such gifts!  I am so hopeful that over the years I can really build up my gardens so to give seeds as gifts.

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An interlude – my latest stamps and some succulents and some not yet woven fingerless mitts!

From the West of Ireland, the very talented Floriane Blancke sent to me her CD, Kaleidoscope. Floriane is a Celtic Musician who we *met* through Etsy – she has 2 of our original Icelandic sweaters!  I absolutely love traditional inspired Celtic music, so I can’t even really describe how amazing this is for me to receive.   There was a time I would shut myself in my room learning to play guitar because I desperately wanted to play The Butterfly and the Kesh Jig – among so many other tunes.  I’m now adding Floriane’s album to my love for the ever changing world of traditional Celtic Music.

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Floriane Blancke – French / Irish Harpist and overall Celtic Musician Extraordinaire – I wanted to share the stamp too ,>.<
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Beautiful Artwork as well!

I wanted to share a video of her playing the first song off of her album “Trip to Achill/Dooagh Bay” just casually in a pub! Do check out her music, she is on Spotify and she has a website at Floriane Blancke

 

** And the sun is out again – the river is a deep blue and I can actually see the land on the other side!

I have some Etsy work to do and knitting, packages to put together!  I am so inspired right now by these souls that have shared with you above, I hope you are too!

Blessings!!

Julia xo

 

 

Flu and Herbs

 

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Herbal teas for ailing grey days: Ginger, lemon and Honey (repeat)

How do you do 🙂

I am recovering from what we think must have been the flu, but doing much better!  I feel like I am back to my old self and will return to the world of making, using my hands and senses, I can’t wait!

But I did just spend several days with the sole purpose of expelling a flu, thinking about plants but mostly sleeping.  But I’m ready to move on…

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Companions in ill health – notice Henry’s foot over Pangur!

I strangely enjoy the challenge of being sick.  I like to see how I can expel the sickness with old remedies (on top of lots of rest).  This week, after a shift in the library and a meeting with the spinners guild (yes, I joined the spinner’s guild and have a wheel on loan!) I felt the slow creeping sickness in my chest.  After Jamie’s company Christmas party on Saturday, I knew I was definitely sick…

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My view for the past several days!  Today, I was under the sun during a lunch break and got to breath in the salty air ❤

And so, I made a huge pot of broth using the hardy plants in the garden: Kale, loads of parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary. etc. with rutabaga, beet root and the habanero peppers I picked and dried this summer.  Luckily, I didn’t have to go into town for work until today so had 3 solid days to dedicate to my well being ❤

I wanted to share a wee bit with you about one of these wonderful sunlight consuming greens…

P L A N T  A L L Y

S A G E

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A woman collecting sage from a waddled garden bed with a beautifully woven basket (I like how the earth looks like it has been severed in the foreground), Tacuinum Sanitatis, c. 1400

Sage (Salveo) meaning, ‘I am well.’

Such a beautiful herb!  When I am feeling unwell, I add sage to everything! The medieval era loved sage and saw it as a plant of immortality.  I’ve always been interested in the medieval plant world.  What did their gardens look like?  How did they use their plants? How did they interact with them?  Sage is one herb that always stood out in this era as an optimum health tonic. In the 12th century poem, Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum the author proclaims, “Why should a man die in whose garden sage grows?  Against the power of death there is no medicine in our gardens; but sage calms the nerves, takes away hand tremors, and helps cure acute fever… O sage! The saviour! of nature the conciliator!”

Aside from the fun historical perspective that stretches back well before the 11th-15th century (Much herbal and plant knowledge was derived from rewritten texts from the ancient world), Sage is known to be an ANTI INFLAMMATORY agent –  It also suppresses perspiration, aids memory and digestion!  I have three plants growing right by our front door, for a woman is said to rule where sage grows 😉

** Sage is toxic in large quantities, so do take precaution! **

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S A N G E (sage) on the right, from “The Tudor Pattern Book”

 

Anywho!  I best get some rest so I can start tomorrow anew, refreshed and well after 3 solid days of dedicating myself to consuming herbal broths and teas curled by the fire (Also watched the new Planet Earth – it’s superb!).  Currently reading The Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone while I wait for The Good People by Hannah Kent to come into the library (So very excited!!).

Hope you’re well and escaping the flu season this year! Onward!

Slán!

Julia

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Fairisle Mitts in Single Ply – flu type project that seems never ending

Bumbling by

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Pink Yarrow and a spider’s web – on my walk 

This morning, this morning… I am sitting cross legged in a wicker chair with a cup of something warm and a cat and a dog.  Beside a large open window, letting the damp, warm air kiss our cheeks.  This window is the first thing I open in the morning and sometimes it lets the damp seep into our house.  Sometimes, I forget that the seasons are changing.

The season is changing.  It’s evident everywhere, from the geese beginning to fly overhead to the rusting leaves.  The spiders building their webs in the cracks of our home and my mindset beginning to shift from a slow almost lethargic summer to a hopeful, productive fall.  At least, a buzzing in my mind that I can’t shut out.

Despite feeling this urge, I have been still operating in the dark.  I can’t seem to get anything going.  Walking is what frees me for the time being.  Where I come up with ideas.  I feel as though, this might be very cryptic so let me speak plainly. Accompanied by Brian Eno, some very talkative birds and the hum of the distant highway.  Life continues!

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Walks with Fall Asters, rosehips and still the beautiful painted lady butterfly migration

These past few days I have had an old friend from my childhood visiting us.  In the early morning, I am finding just a little bit of time to write.  And somehow I still can’t get out what I want to say, despite it being S O B A S I C!  Visits with friends often inspire me to change some habit of mine or be more creative.  It isn’t often you spend an afternoon sitting at the beach and reflecting about life for hours.  The waves reassure you.

I need to find time to create more, apply for artist grants, look at artist residencies so I can focus without thinking of domestic work that needs to be done, create and create and hold nothing back.  Currently, harvesting and preparing food has taken over my life.  Keeping our house sane.  I need to put our ideas into fruition, looking into publishing our patterns and artist works in an artist book.  Sometimes, I just need a push and maybe being more honest about it in my blog will help me.   I’m sure this is of no interest to most, but I think this will help me.  I often feel like social media isn’t quite the place for me.  I don’t really feel like I fit in with what I see, especially with what I have become associated with.

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Visit with friends in our living room – books & writing 
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To start drawing again

I’ll be honest, it was my tarot reading that has made me confront this.  The Magician: taking action, acting consciously, being creative.  I believe the card that represents me best is the High Priestess, which is essentially the opposite of the Magician.  It’s an intuitive card focusing on looking within and your sub-conscious.  But right now, The Magician spoke to me.

And so, I best start taking action.  My world of artistry and craftswomanship.  Where to start?  Maybe with a morning walk ❤

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King Bolete? Not entirely sure, but as I was walking Henry yesterday, I was thinking about on the wild bush craft site it says that we have King Boletes on PEI but that I’ve never seen one and how could i miss one!  The moment I had that thought, I was staring at this mushroom and thought “THAT’S ONE!”   I’m not entirely sure though so I did give it to the slugs… and other critters

Meeting with sky and water

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Hillsborough River, Prince Edward Island ❤

Yesterday evening was cold but so enchanting.  Jamie and I walked through fields and a wood to get to the salt water river by our house.   There, Henry is beyond happy to run and swim and get incredibly muddy with all the new forms of life.  The sky and water convened before us and it felt magical .  It was one of those walks that I felt compelled to take lots of photographs so thought I would share some with you!

The cold was biting with a north wind coming off the water. I wonder if you can sense how magical it was on our island last night?  What makes you feel magic during your walks?

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Henry in the fields – Jamie and I took her to the marshy river to see the geese – here she is posing with a bone she mysteriously dug up while we asked her to sit for a treat 😀
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Path from the fields, through the forest to the river
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At the Marsh by our house – the river is currently the home of hundreds of Canadian Geese, ducks as well as bald eagles.
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lichen on a fallen, sun bleached tree
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The tree – preserved by the salt in the air – teeming with life
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Elfin lichen caps

 

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Having tea by the river with the geese, Henry and Jamie.  I took a video of hundreds of geese however apparently I can’t upload videos on here until I upgrade – all in good time, all in good time!
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Along the river bank – dozens of geese feathers stuck to the rose hips – i stopped this one from blowing in the wind to photograph however when I let go, Henry starting munching on it :\
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April in Prince Edward Island
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Salty Foam along the river
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Delicate feather stuck in rosehip thorns
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Jamie heading back through the fields to home – the sky put on a beautiful display for us this evening!
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Abandoned farms
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sunset on the river
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our neighbour abandoned farm gate
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This girl had so much fun and got so muddy that a bath was definitely needed!

 

Today, there is so much work to do outside: raking, turning and mixing compost, burning of a mountain of sticks and branches, cutting up firewood, felling trees, cleaning out raspberry bush, transplanting trees, preparing potatoes and onions for planting, the list goes on!  I so desperately want to return to my favourite forest on PEI for a hike but will have to wait.  We haven’t been there since November or December and I miss it so much!  It’s not far from our house but on a very muddy road that our car would possibly get stuck in.  I’m hoping either tomorrow or sometime next week to just park on the side of the road and walk the forest road in and do one of the trails, it will only take about 5 hours… but if I pack a lunch and thermos of tea, I’ll be golden.

 

 

 

April Gardening Pt. 1 & other ramblings of a fae folk

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gardening and knitting 😀  

PINK MOON IS ON ITS WAY

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!

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Found while digging in a garden! Folklore tells us that nailing an iron horseshoe above your door/barn door will keep the fairies at bay.  Fairies detest metal and were notorious for interfering with livestock and crops – you still see remnants of this tradition 😀  It also translated over to holding your luck (I think originally because it protected you from fairies) however if you hand it upside down, your luck will dribble away from you : (
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Clearing out the rose bushes and plotting stones for a fairy garden in the front of the house – Not much colour at the moment! I started to mulch the roses with decomposing stumps and lining this garden with mossy logs and branches.
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Flora Helping out!
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Among the rose bushes – offerings from our beach walks to the elemental beings that inhabit the earth
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A friend of mine gave me this really cute, vintage garden gnome!  I’m so excited to finally give him a home in the garden ❤
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I see growth on this rhubarb plant!  My mom brought these over last year from her garden –  I love having a family connection to plants as well as a earthly entity connection (I guess we are all one big family afterall)

 

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One of our raised beds that I wattled last year – Not a lot going on in this part of the garden until late May so I’m leaving the cover of leaves on there
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Rosebuds ❤
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sprouted chestnuts I collected last fall – to be planted in the woods!
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The Forest literally looks like a tornado lingered there for a little bit – weedy like trees are trying to choke out our maple and trees and branches down everywhere!  On a good day, we have a long day of burning down what we can’t salvage (which is still a lot!) – the process of turning the woodland into a shangri-la will take years but it will be SO worth it – benefiting the soil, animals, insects and humble humans
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We have been making baked potatoes in the coals of our bush burns – salt, pepper, butter and a potato from down the road – delicious!

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!

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A little painting of one of my favourite spring time flowers – Siberian Squill – painted for a friend
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Tomatoes growing up and up – we still have a month and a half before they can go outside! I can’t believe how quickly they are shooting up – so different than the past 2 years
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A Vintage Owl Mug with a Tulsi basil plant as well as a few parsley plants
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Little Pine Tree ❤ I collected a few seeds last fall and am so happy one of them has burst into life!
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Two more trays of seeds – displacing my work area and some old drawings I found from Botanical Art class back in 2010 (eep!) – I decided to spruce them up a big and still working on it 🙂
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Little Seedlings – my babies
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WORK SPACE MAGIC – It won’t be long before plants completely displace me 😛

A P R I L  P I C K S

BOOKS

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  ❤  ❤ ❤

THE FAIRY FAITH

KNITS

I’m working on a lopapeysa, of course! Hazel Heather and I’ll show you soon, I promise!

MUSIC

Quilt’s self titled album (on Google Music) and the birds that are singing a consistent tune.  I love slow, droning psychedelic guitars, need to start playing music again !!!

Other than that – I’ve been working outside and then coming in exhausted and ready to sleep zzzz.

B E   W E L L

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Beach Girl ❤  Something I love about living on the East Coast – often the only people at the beach

Simple Knits & Slower Days

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Hi out there Earthlings and Fae Folk!

** It’s now a windy Saturday morning – I wrote this yesterday afternoon with the weather so different than this morning.  It’s strange posting a journal like blog post when you feel so incredibly different than the day before – however I’m going to leave it as it is.  Today, I feel motivated and happy 🙂 **

I am SO incredibly happy to announce.. that is is 12 degrees Celsius.  I can hardly believe it, although it is SO windy.  But look where I am writing this to you! The non-insulated sun room!  We have all been longing to spend time in here since we closed it up in November.  Soon, the windows will be open and plants will illuminate the drafty corners.

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Window Seat (I did displace Petey)

So, here I am.  Sat before our whole world with a salty ocean air candle and the music of Eternal Tapestry – pondering how to delve into the topic of the 2 simple knits I recently completed and the beautiful act of “slow” living.  The wind is demanding attention today, my thoughts are with it since it’s essentially yelling at me while I sit in this room.

This winter/spring has been very slow for me in the creative realm.  I have simply been directing my attention to … I can’t even say.  Everything gets a little hazy at that point and all I know is that I was way more productive last year.  I am taking full advantage of the trendy ‘slow living’ tag I see constantly floating around (although, I find it hypocritical because there is nothing slow about our habitual use of technology and our means for occupying a great deal of our time ~*instagram*~ and showing off our dreamy art of *slow living* but obviously I get where the sentiment comes from – it takes time to knit your own garments, to bake your own bread, to grow your own seeds).  In my world right now, I’m not sure if it’s actually a vitamin deficiency or chopping wood or lack of sunshine, but I have been SO tired and fatigued.  I feel unbearably guilty about this and need to listen to my intuition which is telling me to listen to my body and take things slow.

And so… it took me weeks, months even to finish the two knits I am sharing with you – a pair of Alpaca double knit lace mittens and a lace stole, using the same lace design.  A simple design because I had never attempted lace before but it is easy peasy and if you can do a knit or purl stitch – trust me, you can do lace knitting.

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Walks this month in Nova Scotia

A L P A C A  DK  M I T T E N S

This wool is the Alpaca “baby wool” from We Are Knitters (I think I wrote that they were angora… angora is just the A fibre word always in my brain since we had an angora rabbit named Bunny growing up).  Last year, I received a sweater kit from the company.  They give you large 5.5 mm wooden needles and about 12 balls of the wool and a pattern for an item.

 I made the whole back of a sweater, the entire time really disliking the needles and feeling like the wool wasn’t right for them.  Wondering why I was committing myself to something that was bringing me so little joy from one of my favourite things to do. Anyway, it took a long time to make and I could tell that it was going to be just an awkward, oversized strange sweater that I realistically would never wear because of the colour and weight of the wool.  That being said, I have seen others’ version of the sweater and it looks absolutely beautiful – mine just didn’t come close to the other finished gesture sweaters that I have seen on blogs or instagram.  ANYWAY – I decided to take the whole back out and salvage the wool instead.

The wool double knit is so incredibly lovely.  It’s thick and heavy and oh so soft. The size of these mittens run very very small, so I’m going to make a larger pair of fingerless mitts using two strands of wool as well.

I used 3.25 mm dpn needles and just experimented around.  I will have these up too on our Etsy Shop, but keep in mind they run pretty small!

DK knitting
Starting to experiment on a Saturday evening at home
Another Saturday morning
Another Saturday morning when there was still lots of snow
knitting
Knitting something special
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Just the ends to weave in
candles and knits
little flame for company
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Plain and Simple
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Drawing to accompany a simple pair of mittens – Poppies!
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to paint or not to paint?
Fin
Fin
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Happy Saturday Morning! Knits, tea and an early morning drawing

R O W A N  A R A N  T W E E D  S T O L E

Last but not least, this Rowan Aran Tweed Stole.  The colour I chose is called “Scree” and one of my all time favourite colours. I have about a month left I think to wear this comfortably but soon all my knits will be shed in turn for my thrifted dresses and some handmade shifts (as well as my very dirty gardening clothes… realistically more so than the dresses :P)

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What the weather was like when I started this stole
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Rowan Aran Tweed Stole
Life
One fine March afternoon – books, tarot and knitting – life complete
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time to block – the edges still curl though
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It’s freezing and we are at a lighthouse to share some old fashioned handknit goodness
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For next winter – my new lace stole
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On my mom during one of our late March walks

And there you have it!  2 very simple knits, that took me what feels like a year and a day to make.  I wanted to just slowly enjoy the feeling of some really beautiful and soft wool and feel like I definitely achieved that goal.

Now with the change of season, I feel like I really need to speed up my activity and growth.  Shed my winter skin and become just a little more active.

F  I N & A F T E R T H O U G H T S

All in all, I am really happy with the two knits that I shared with you today.  I am also not feeling as down on myself for my very slow progress these past few months.  My body and mind have been calling for a slow approach to everything in life and I finally obeyed them.

I’d love to hear how you deal with slow, unproductive weeks on end!  Or if that even happens to you >.<  I am really hoping to blog more and will probably be revisiting Instagram for at least one weekday to see how everyone is doing and share a latest blog or knit or what have you!

** Today, we plan to take Henry to the ocean for a walk (if the dirt roads aren’t too muddy), knitting and watching movies

Sláinte mhaith!

Julia

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Fiddling with water colours – it won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,yeah,yeah
Henry
Henry got a new bed!  Much how I feel lately Henry
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Walks on the beach with Henry
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Jamie and Henry to the beach
Fairisle on the beach in PEI
The latest Fairisle – handknit by Liz Reddy – available in Ways of Wood Folk Etsy Shop

Making Magical Tinctures ☽ 🌕 ☾

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Army of Tincture Jars

N O S T A L G I A

Since I was a little girl, nothing seemed so appealing to me than living deep in the woods, immersed with the plants, the cycle of the moon, the animals.  The dirt swept clean with my broom and the leaves entangled in my hair.  I wanted to be a witch. In fact, most children I knew wanted to be witches or let’s face it – felt like we were witches.  I remember at around 7, speaking to the sky for it to rain and feeling the most awesome power when a drop, then another and another fell on my skin.

In the very back of our property, there was a large vegetable and herb garden as well as a large brick fire pit conveniently located beside “the witches’ fort.” This was an enclosure of twisted apple trees that not only formed 4 “walls” and a door, but a roof! My Dad laid the ground within the trees with red brick. I can’t really express how perfect this spot was, we had wooden shelves and stump tables and seats.  My Mom actually let us have an old broom out there as well as an ancestral cooking pot (I think she regretted it later), some wooden salad bowls and wooden spoons.  I didn’t really know what else you could want in life!

I remember walking barefoot to the garden, picking herbs and placing them in the pot with some puddle water while munching away on chives. Now, as an adult, I am essentially doing the exact same thing – still barefoot in the summer but making tinctures and infusions!

M A K I N G  T I N C T U R E S

During the waxing Snow Moon, I combined our homemade Apple Cider Vinegar with all of our dried dandelion leaves and roots to make a super tonic!   According to Mountain Rose Herbs, using a vinegar to extract and preserve a plant is an “extract” rather than a tincture (which uses alcohol) – but tinctures just sound so much more fun ;).

I simply combined dried dandelion leaves and roots in a large mason jar and covered with Apple Cider Vinegar.  I stored it in a cool, dry spot out of direct sunlight (a cupboard) and shook it every once in a while, to make sure the plant parts were completely covered with the liquid.  It sat in the cupboard for around 5 weeks (I mark it on my calendar so I know for sure). The vinegar extracts and preserves the potent healing elements of the plant as well as adding some super beneficial bacteria and enzymes (I’m not a health professional so don’t quote me on anything! I simply like old folk methods).

I decided to name them SAP MOON since I bottled them on the Full Moon in March.  My calendar calls this the WORM MOON but that really doesn’t make any sense for where we live in the North East.  Sap makes so much more sense since this is the time we tap our maple trees to make the most delicious sweetener on the planet, Maple Syrup :D. I also love the idea of working by the cycles of the moon for making concoctions as well as gardening and tending to plants!

I also love the idea of naming now all my infusions or herbal remedies the name of whatever full moon it is – that way I know the rough date (you can always check back online to see if you need the exact date) to know the age of your remedies.  I added a little “2017” on the label in the case that it somehow gets shoved to the back of my cupboard and makes an appearance in 10 years ;).

A P P L E  C I D E R  V I N E G A R

One of the apple trees

For years now, I have been reading about the amazing benefits of natural Apple Cider Vinegar.  I decided to try to make our own and now after learning how simple it is, I don’t think I’ll ever buy it again (or I hope not to!).  We have one very old, large apple tree that produce hundreds of large, yellow, sweet apples (not pictured above, the above has the most delicious, crisp apples).   I have no idea what type they are but I made several batches using this type.  They are a soft, sweet apple ideal for baking so our cider is light and sort of sweet tasting!

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Behold the Living Mother!
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The vinegar on the left is the dandelion extract and on the right is just plain old apple cider vinegar

D a n d e l i o n  L E A F & R O O T 

Henry among some of our dandelions last spring
Henry among some of the dandelions last spring

Dandelions are such bountiful and healthful herbs!  Last spring, I watched the chickens go wild over the leaves and congregate around the plants.  I began to collect the leaves and even dig up some of the roots to dry indoors. We tried to eat them in salad but I found them too bitter to eat fresh.  And so, last spring I was determined to make an overall tonic with them in the form of a tincture.

B E N E F I T S (Information below taken from: Lust, John ” The Herb Book”1974):

” Aperient, cholagogue, diuretic, stomachic, tonic.  Dandelion has two particularly important uses: to promote the formation of bile and to remove excess water from the body in edemous conditions resulting from liver problems.” Lust, J. 171.

Aperient – mild laxative

cholagogue – agent used to increase the flow of bile into the intestines

diuretic – agent that increases the expulsion of urine

stomachic – agent that strengthens, tones and stimulates the stomach

tonic – agent that strengthens the organs of the entire organism

 

My little tincture
My little tincture ❤

 

And so, my first ever REAL LIFE magical concoctions (that isn’t tea or just food).  My childhood self would definitely approve.   I have a batch of 10 of these little gems and thinking in the future, perhaps after the next trip around the sun, I will put some of my remedies in an online shop or just sell at markets, etc.   Simply add a few drops to your morning water or herbal tea and you are golden 😉  (as long as you don’t have an allergy to ragweed..)!

FARE THEE WELL & MERRY PART !

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Some of our poppies last June!  I can not WAIT, I can hardly contain my excitement >.<

(On one other side note, I am trying very hard to have regular social media ‘detoxes’.  I have simply decided to not go on instagram (my only social media really) during the weekdays. I could write a whole other post about this because I think it’s actually really important but maybe for another day!  I just wanted to shout out if you have noticed me absent… which I doubt anyone has…  it’s because I am just choosing to be offline and seek balance in my everyday life. This is something that has sorely been lacking since I have a compulsion to check social media throughout my day. Thank you <3)

Winter Mornings ☽ 🌕 ☾

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Can you see the cross?  View this morning.

☽ m o r n i n g ☾

The moon is out.  Four beams of light that form a perfect cross (or X)  illuminate the sky.  I often think about the people of the past, how incredibly impressive and important symbols in the sky would have been for them.  Right now, I am warm and safe sitting with mounds of blankets before a window with the full moon and a cross.  I wanted to write about my morning rituals (or attempts at morning rituals) but am honestly in awe of the sight of the moon at the moment.  And while I was distracted by the brightest light in a dim sky, I looked to the East and the horizon is orange, so time to dive right into the ritual!

I wake.  Not always at the same time, although I am working on that.  This morning it was 6 am.  Winter mornings are quite different than the rest of the year.  They are darker and colder for one and require a lot of warmth for a joyous beginning.  Fire starting, thick wool socks, hot teas and oatmeal and warming scents (I basically just told you everything!).

 B U T   F I R S T …..

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Making tea – peppermint combined with a green tea bag
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The Kitchen Window yesterday morning during a storm

 S A D L Y  N O T  C O F F E E

I was once a coffee drinker – I struggled with coffee.  I loved coffee.  I loved the ritual of making it, the smell (most of all) and I had a conflicted relationship with the taste and the way it made me feel.  I finally decided to stop completely and have honestly found a quiet peace in my day that I never had before.  I think I ultimately was experiencing caffeine overdose, from ONE small cup of coffee.  I could not focus, I would be productive in a frenzied kind of way for maybe an hour and then I felt like just a wreck.  I could drink a cup at 9 am and not sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning.  The last time I drank it was Christmas and that was just because it was Christmas.

It was never this bad when I drank it everyday, but I slowly started to eliminate it everyday and that’s when it really, really started and that was when I decided the best thing for me would be to simply stop drinking it.  So many benefits, the biggest in my mind was obviously my health and well being but also, the money saved! Jamie is still a big coffee drinker but his work provides it so I still get to smell it on the weekends 😉

E M B R A C I N G  T E A

In the mornings, I drink peppermint tea steeped with a green tea bag for that little caffeine kick and added health benefit.  I love peppermint tea, it’s my absolute favourite tea (peppermint and ginger) and find it very cleansing first thing in the morning.  I often have a smaller cup of Earl Grey later in the morning, but first thing I really enjoy a cleansing large cup of herbal and green tea.  I know we’ve been told for years the benefits of green tea, but peppermint tea is incredibly good for you as well!  I know it sounds like the most basic of teas but it’s a digestive aid, full of antiseptic and antibacterial properties.  It is even known to improve alertness and memory!  It’s awesome and so easy to grow!\

A F F I R M A T I O N S

Something I am trying to do (although I don’t always remember) is ‘bless’ my water or tea.  I essentially pray or send positive affirmations over my drink and then by drinking it, am taking those positive directly in my body.  The affirmations can be anything from having a good day to confidence, to security and protection, to creativity.  I find that it really, really helps.

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Beauty of steeping tea

During this time, I’m with the cats and have the diffuser going (currently ylang ylang for mood and frankincense for focus).  I often take this time to knit a little bit and just collect myself before the sun makes his grand appearance (which now is around 7 30).  Depending on how cold it is, there is usually a pressing matter that needs to be attended to.  Starting a fire.  I am always SO grateful when Jamie does this first thing.

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Mysterious fire starter
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Pangur Ban, waiting for the sun (i.e. for us to put food in his bowl)
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Knitting a little bit

B R E A K F A S T  & C H I C K E N S

Eating breakfast is another struggle of mine that I have only recently begun to conquer all thanks to something a wee bit weird… Our chickens!  I never felt like eating in the morning and waited until lunch ( completely aware of the damage this was doing to my day) or I would just snack on something really small.  But since we have had chickens, especially since November when the temperatures began to dip below 0, I have been making them hot oatmeal. I would make it for them first thing in the morning thinking “wow this is sooo good for them… they are going to have a great day!” and realizing… WHY am I not doing that for myself?  So I essentially started making a batch for me at the same time as the chickens.  The chickens get a little bit of a more rustic version.  I actually gave them the end of our beets the other day with oats and that made them very happy.

I usually eat before I go out to let the chickens out and feed them.  Since it’s been so cold, I have been giving them hot water in the morning too with a little bit of apple cider vinegar.  I hope to make a post about keeping chickens in a very cold climate, probably later this month!

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Oatmeal with cinnamon, a little bit of maple syrup and banana – for humans
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For the chickens ❤
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Too cold to come outside so they enjoyed some breakfast indoors!

K E E P I N G  H Y D R A T E D

Once the chickens have been fed, it’s time to start thinking about what needs to be done for the day.  I usually make a to do list the prior evening.  Today, it is Saturday so I am making a blog post (yay!).  Regardless, after breakfast and tea, I have a large mason jar of water with a little bit of apple cider vinegar to drink throughout the duration of the whole morning.

We made a large batch of apple cider vinegar this past fall so I feel very happy using our own.  It’s also SO easy to make and I highly recommend making it yourself if you are interested (especially if you have access to an apple tree… even a rogue apple tree that you have observed while walking past has many rotting – not used – apples lying about it).  Apple Cider Vinegar is extremely beneficial for your ~g u t~ which is the master of your overall health.

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Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar and Water

L A S T L Y

Henry girl (our dogg) and I go out for a walk.  This is the key really for me to have a good, productive day.  Walking, without headphones, early in the morning.  We often try to get out at around 8 am.  Since it’s the weekend, we will probably drive out to a trail somewhere later in the day but on weekdays when I’m working from home and Jamie is at work in town, we just walk the country roads around our home. I kind of consider the morning over when we get back.  It’s therapeutic even though I often have to force myself to get out, especially lately.  The wind and cold has been biting.

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Morning walk through the fields
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Out in the woods on a morning with with Henry

Rituals!  Simple rituals!  I am a creature of the home – a true cancerian – and need the stability of a solid morning ritual even if it’s just tea and breakfast and scents floating through the house.  This morning, I have some basic house and animal chores to do before I think I work on a drawing I had planned.  I give myself the freedom of not having a schedule on the weekends.

The sun is rising!  Peaking over the barn at the top of the hill by our house. Two cats are with me probably wondering why their food dishes are empty.  Pangur jumps to where my attention is directed, to the window, to the knitting basket.  I can hear Henry moving around upstairs ready to get up on this lazy, cold Saturday.

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend! **stay warm if you’re in a cold part of the world!  That is what we will be doing today (for the most part).

Julia

xo

 

**P S . I am thinking of starting a video blog – something very dull to most I am sure, but just to do little videos on what I’m working on etc, it would essentially be me just sitting there talking because I have NO knowledge of editing videos or anything.  Would love any feedback on this idea! **