A.w.a.k.e.

Friday, April 29, 2016 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

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It was our first walk this year in one of our favorite wooded hideaways.  I wished to become a foot tall all of a sudden. Fairy-sized, I think, I could better appreciate the tiny flowers and green stems poking from beneath their blanket of fall leaves. The word rejuvenating does not suffice in describing the feeling of warm sun on my face and the complete realization that the world has begun anew, that it is… that we are…. all awake.

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Gratitude: Sourdough

Monday, April 18, 2016 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

 

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A friend first gave me a jam jar filled with her sourdough culture about 5 years ago. It has been bubbling for us ever since, and sourdough is part of our daily routine now. As Sam Sifton wrote in the New York Times last month, “A sourdough starter comes into your life the way a turtle might: as a pet you maybe didn’t know you wanted until someone hands it to you or you find yourself holding the terrarium after an impulse purchase you couldn’t explain if you tried. You get it or you make it or you buy it, and now you have a sourdough starter. It needs to be fed. It asks to be used. There are holes in our lives. They are filled for us by circumstance, or we fill them ourselves.”

Now we sourdough everything – pretzels, chocolate cake, coffee cake, dinner rolls, pasta and even pie crust.  I can’t imagine doing anything else. We are finding it much easier on our digestion, especially when we use lower gluten flour like einkorn, kamut and spelt (Jovial einkorn is our absolute favorite).  I’m finding that lots of recipes can be adpated to preparation the evening before bake day and left to sour overnight.  For us, it means we can still include gluten in our diet, and I’m so used to the schedule and planning of our homegrown bakery that it no longer feels onerous at all.  It’s a joy to be able to make fresh, organic and healthy bread products for our family to enjoy.

So today I’m grateful to my friend, to the wonderful science of wild yeast, and to the organic grains that are helping us eat better.  And to all my great, great, great grandmothers who made sourdough as part of their daily routine.  Sometimes fantastic things skip generations. I’m pretty happy to have rediscovered a great family tradition.

Scenes from a Sunday in the Country

Sunday, April 10, 2016 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

A beautiful Sunday, slightly snowy, spent with friends. Sometimes one special day can lift spirits and send us soaring. Seriously.

 

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Back. Just In Time for Spring.

Saturday, March 19, 2016 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

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Sometime last fall, as the first whispers of winter began, I knew I needed a big, long in-breath. A break from this space and from some other things too. It just happened so that’s what it became. A break. I’ve received some really sweet notes asking how things are, and I’m happy to say things are just fine. Sometimes parenting needs every square ounce of time and energy, and sometimes it’s healing to put down the camera and the keyboard and be as present as possible right then and there. And now it feels great to share this space a little bit again, probably less often than before. When I took a break from blogging, I took a break from much of the online world too. Balance is such a beautiful thing and though impossible to achieve, it’s refreshing to try to share ideas and musings and feel part of a bigger, broader community of friendly folks.

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So here we are, with our very first almost-spring tulips blooming inside on our dining room table. With our amaryllis telling us the promise of spring will come true.

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These days are filled with enjoying these very early days where winter and spring overlap, watching the first signs of new growth, a very busy schedule of classes and friends and other 9-year-old-related things…. and the fast-moving, often choppy waters of being nearly five. How have you been?

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The shop keeps us busy too, with our ever-expanding line of picnic blankets and throw blankets. In between I still love felting giant rainbow mobiles (like the one in in the photo below) and dyeing playsilks and teaching handwork to my own 2 little ones so they too can make beautiful things for others.

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A Full Table

Sunday, October 18, 2015 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

Alongside sugar pumpkins and pretty gourds, we’ve been enjoying the last flowers from the garden – some velvety read snapdragons. This is before we spent the afternoon harvesting the last of everything growing in the gardens. And baking pumpkin cookies and pumpkin bread. And almost making pumpkin muffins.

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This is after. The last of the rhubarb. A few armfuls of parsley. And kale. A bowl of green tomatoes (which promptly transformed into delicious fried green tomatoes for dinner). Thai basil. Immature little green chili peppers that we’ll slice into pasta. So, so much to be grateful for.

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Dyeing with Elderberry and a PH Experiment

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

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We did a ton of natural plant dyeing this season and since I haven’t yet posted about most of them, I hope to sprinkle them into blog posts and add a little bit of color and sunshine to the wintry times ahead. Up first is elderberry.

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My daughter was the lead on all of these plant dyeing experiments and I was her assistant. Her first attempt at elderberry dyeing (see above) gave some gorgeous colored silk fibres (both above the label and directly below it) as well as some lighter mauve purple wool yarn and wool roving (left). When we cooked the elderberry dyebath too long and let it get too hot with the fibre inside, it all turned into a rich brown. That led us to believe that elderberry is very temperature-sensitive. It seems to do best in a cool or very very lightly warm dyebath, both for extracting the color and dyeing the fibre.

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So, elderberry is temperature sensitive. But what about pH?

To test this she made up a new batch of elderberry dyebath from frozen elderberries. She used a cold method and just soaked them in water for a day or so.

Then she divided the dyebath into 5 little glass jars. And added a variety of acid and alklaline modifiers.

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Then she added her fibre (wool and silk primarily) and put them out on the picnic table to gently solar dye for a few days. It was pretty cloudy that week and the jars never got too hot.

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The dyebaths were all different and the resulting fibres were all over the color spectrum. Here they are wet, just pulled out of their respective jars and arranged on thick watercolor paper. That happened to be the most absorbent large paper we had around – we only realized after the fact that it was a fantastic way to get a permanent record of the dyes and a pretty bit of art.

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Here are the fibre samples all dried out. We tried to rinse them out with water of a similar pH (i.e. acid-modified samples rinsed out in acidic water). Elderberry dyes are notoriously changeable and can be sensitive not only to pH and temperature but also to sunlight.

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Thanks

Monday, October 12, 2015 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

This Thanksgiving Weekend we put everything aside to make time to find peace outdoors, visit the farmers whose food we are so lucky to eat and usher in this start of cozy fall. There is so very much to be grateful for and the rituals around this holiday can help to ground us and our children. So we hiked up a mountain and saw the trees’ hints of orange and red down below. We fell into a silence as the cool wind but still-warm sun hit our faces.  Being out in the woods and leaves, far away from the sounds of cars, is a great way for us to come home to ourselves.  If we, as parents and teachers and friends, are not connected to ourselves, how can we possibly expect to connect with those we love? I’m so profoundly grateful to live in this beautiful and safe place where we have such space and freedom.

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Today we made sourdough bread stuffing, sweet potato pie, maple cream pie and roast chicken and talked about the work of all the farmers we know who helped to make it possible. Eating local isn’t just about health and wellness, the building of community, support for sustainable agriculture and environmental protection… it’s also about education and respect.  When you know the person whose work puts food on your table, that food has such value and so does their labour. So do they.

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