Archive for category Homemade

Wet Felting Soap

As sun poured in through the windows, I decided now was the time to get out our wet felting kits and get soapy!  I know there are lots of tutorials on the internet about how to wet felt (there’s a lovely one here) but I decided to take the easy option and buy some kits at the same place I buy my wood roving.  We’re really lucky here in Ottawa to have a diverse range of businesses and Wabi Sabi is one of my favourites.  They sell beautiful wool, wool roving and all the supplies you could need.  They also have some very cute kits, easy to pull out and know you have everything you need.

The process was really easy, wrap soap bar in lovely roving, wrap supplied piece of yarn around that to help hold it in place, then dip in a bowl of warm water.  After that the instructions recommended using a ziploc bag to felt the soap in.   I found this worked really well and helped prevent the soap whizzing off and frustrating small people.  Mummy got involved helping with this part as it took about 10 minutes of rubbing to felt the soap which is a long time to little peeps.

The finished pebble of wool is so tactile I know there will be a lot more hand washing going on around here!  The soap in the kit was more perfumed than I would usually buy so I’d definitely reserve it for hands only, but what could be more fun than lathering up with soft wool?  Lovely.  Now that we’ve worked through the process once I’d be confident doing it again and am thinking these would be great Christmas gifts that the boys could make themselves.  Plus it’s an excuse to indulge my soap fetish an opportunity to purchase locally made products.  Ahem.

What favourite wooly projects have you tried recently?

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Getting Our Art On

I’ve been a bit absent from the old blog this week due to having a small piece of wood in my eye.  I quite literally poked myself in the eye with a stick.  Well a piece of kindling actually but the upshot was the same.  Ouch.

Despite me doing a thoroughly convincing impression of a pirate for a couple of days we have rediscovered our arty mojo here at Chez Jhompson and the boys have been arting up a storm over the last couple of days.

We indulged in a bit of wet-on-wet watercolour painting, exploring spring colours of differing yellows and greens.  I love how gentle this kind of art is, allowing for free interpretation.  Huwyl’s sense of focus and purpose with his art has definitely changed over recent months.   He has a clearer idea of what his goal is and is willing to spend more time and care in order to achieve it, it is lovely to see him so immersed.  Neirin is, of course, not able to stay on task for as long but he definitely enjoys all of our art experiences and still finds time for a little dress up.

Of course he enjoys it all the more when it is messy…

Neirin is in a much more sensorial developmental stage, he is experiencing things much more through his body and senses than his eyes, it is really fun to watch him dive in, uninhibited to a box of  art tools and some paint.   He also really enjoyed scattering rice on his watercolour painting, though there was a bit more dumping and spreading than I had anticipated.  Note to self, never leave the room when there is a tub of rice on the table.  Never.  

I’ve been using my Pinterest Art Board to log ideas for art projects (and everything else), I find it such a wonderful resource for ideas.  Even if we only use it as a jumping off point it is great encouragement to try new things, to experiment and see what happens.

So what was it that inspired all of this creativity?  What triggered this attack of arty mojo?

Tada!  The most fantabulous set of shelves in the entire world!*  Yes indeedykins these puppies have literally changed my life.  No more art supplies scattered everywhere, toys with no home, games forgotten and out of sight.  Now it is all front and centre, triggering my creative thoughts as I see the supplies available and think hmmmm, what could we do with that? As well as having a tidier house, I feel much more able to create interesting projects at a moment’s notice and I know that the boys will actually be able to use their toys as I present them with different baskets of nicely grouped items for their creative fun.  Adore.

Stephen knocked these up for me as phase once of my Organise My Stuff plan.  Ok, the title could use some work but the idea is sound.  Apparently this was his first router project, when he told me this I nodded as though that meant something to me but quickly moved on to the topic that really interested me, baskets. I got these onces from ikea and they work perfectly.  The smaller ones are great for storing art supplies, toys, activities…you name it these baskets can handle it.  The larger ones on the bottom currently store playmobil (there is a LOT of it) and another holds the school laptop.  Life is good.

Though my long term plans involve wall to wall ceiling height shelving and a purpose built art bench (ambition is good you know) I am more than happy with things as they are right now.  I’m already planning a reorganisation of our homeschool materials and have some plans for seasonal baskets, science baskets and fun collection baskets that will hopefully materialise some time in the future.  But for now I am content.

Unless Stephen fancies knocking up an art bench, in which case I will not say no.

*This claim has not been verified by any external sources but is, however, true as this is Emmalina Land of which Emmalina is Queen and therefore the Boss of Everything.  

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Making a Weekend

As I look over the pictures I’ve snapped these last three days I’ve noticed how much making there is going on.   That spring tingle is beginning beneath our feet and with it comes the motivation to get the house sorted before the farm work begins.  Of course there is a little farm productivity going on already in the form of our three laying hens.

I began the weekend with a breakfast of fresh eggs (just collected by Stephen) and some toast made from fresh baked bread.  Is there a better way to start the day than that?  If there is I haven’t found it.  We’ve been out and about a lot the last couple of days, a birthday party, drama class, shopping for baskets and meeting a farmer friend to talk about buying some of his pigs.  It’s been happily full.

Today is a holiday in Ontario, aptly called Family Day.  It’s given us that bit extra time together, 2 adults on deck makes such a difference.  I’ve been doing some cooking, the no stress kind that rises or stews over hours, requiring little input but creating something delicious in return.

Dough becomes bread, roasted bones yield creamy fat that is perfect to cook with and then go with veggies to make the healthiest of broths.  Dried beans rehydrate slowly, waiting to be cooked and added to a chilli, intended to fill our tummies at lunch time this week.  All of this easily slots in around our day, bubbling or rising or soaking while we go about our business.

It’s a good job too because Stephen has been busy with some making of his own,

My clever chap has built me a custom designed set of shelves to accomodate many, many baskets (I do love my baskets) and hopefully creating a more orderly environment for all of us.  I promise more pictures once I’ve organised it all to my great satisfaction!  I’m very lucky to have such a handy man about the place,  I’m taking advantage before the farm work totally takes over our free time.

In between all this business we are trying to make some time for each other, some moments of closeness that will see us through the days of separation as Stephen heads out to work for 10 hours each day.  The week seems to go so much better when we have good memories to draw on, good thoughts to sustain our hearts.  So we are making some smiles, some outside time, some hugs and laughter.  Hopefully we are making our family a little stronger, a little closer, because it doesn’t just happen, it takes work and effort each day.

This family is certainly the best thing I ever made and more than worth taking a day to enjoy it.  Wishing everyone else an equally happy one.

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Making Spaces

When I’m not complaining about my health or lying around feeling rubbish, I have enjoyed obsessing over the write up for this e-course which looks fabulous.  Not in my budget right now (those jabs won’t pay for themselves) but I will be investing in her book when it comes out in the summer.  I love the idea of allowing environment to shape experience and looking at the gorgeous pics on the Playful Learning website had me hooked on the idea of creating a writing centre.

One trip to the Dollar Store and Staples later I had set Huwyl up with a writing station in his bedroom where a certain toddler brother couldn’t reach and destroy.  I stocked it with new gel pens, a variety of cards, some stickers and some resources I printed off from the Write Start website (in the templates section).  I’ll add new things periodically to refresh Huwyl’s interest but already he has enjoyed making endless cards and writing little notes.  Most of the time he just likes to write To Mummy/Daddy love from Huwyl, which is very cute and always well received.

In comparison to the gorgeous spaces created by the people taking the Playful Learning e-course this is nothing but we are in a rental so this was the best we could manage!  Sorry about the rubbish photos it is really dark in Huwyl’s bedroom but he doesn’t seem to notice and the addition of a nice lamp gives it a cosy feel.  He really enjoys going up and doing some writing and I love that he initiates it rather than it being something imposed on him.

One of the other spaces I’ve created came about after I listened to a great seminar on The Waldorf Connection.  It was given by Janet Allison talking on the topic of boys.  She had lots of fascinating ideas that have really stayed with me and I’ve subsequently watched a couple of her videos and again found that she has great insights.  One of the things that really interested me was when she talked about how boys love factual books and really enjoying reading things with diagrams and instructions.  I’ve noticed how much Huwyl enjoys flicking through our children’s encyclopedias so I thought I’d create a little space where he could enjoy ‘down time’ and do some independent ‘reading’.   And so the Book Nook was born.

With the article I read about the Reggio Emilia schools (the link is in a previous post) and their belief in bringing art work into the work space fresh in my mind, I thought I’d create my own little sign.  So in some odd moments I managed to sketch up a sign for the book nook.  I always forget how much I enjoy drawing and though I lack real skill the joy of simply creating is such fun.  What a shame to deny ourselves this enjoyment because we hold ourselves up to an excessively high standard!  I’m no Monet but I can create a little sign that is cute and serves a purpose in my own home.

The last space I created was for our keyboard which, before this, was being shuttled back and forth onto the table.  I bought an inexpensive stand and a set of wall decorations that have all the notes and music info on that we need.  Our music teacher has the same set so I thought it would be a good bet!  I have never played piano so I’m hoping these will serve as a good reference for me when I’m helping Huwyl.

The other advantage of having this space properly and permanently set up (apart from a smoother rhythm in our day) is that Huwyl can stand up and play.  This seems to really improve his focus and comfort, allowing him to concentrate a little more on the music rather than shifting position constantly as his body demands that he moves.

Listening to Janet Allison talking about the differences in the male and female brains has been very enlightening and I want to pursue this line of thinking more fully.  I’ve also begun reading up a little on the temperaments after reading her vivid description, the first time I’ve seen the temperaments written about in this clear and helpful way.

I’m striving not to overload myself with too much information at the moment but I do feel these avenues of inquiry are so beneficial that they are worth me devoting the little spare brain power I have to them!  Creating a home that serves our needs and supports the way that we live can only bring us more feelings of peace and security as a family, something worth investing time in I think.

My house may never look like this or this but I can keep dreaming!

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Spit and Polish

I’ve been thinking a lot in these last weeks about our daily routine, there have been elements that work and some that don’t.  One of the things I’ve struggled with is getting in a bit of a ‘project’ once or twice a week.  Finally, this week, I seemed to have settled on a rhythm that worked well.  Around 2pm seems to be a good time for us to get ourselves into the kitchen and over a bit of an awkward hump in the middle of our day.  Having something to work on as a team brings us together, moving us steadily through an hour that seems to catch us all at a low point and giving a sense of achievement that makes for a more positive remainder of the day.

This week we’ve made two (yes that’s two) different kinds of furniture polish from natural ingredients.  So as well as doing some science I’ve also managed to trick encourage the boys to clean.  The first we made was a natural liquid from lemons and olive oil from this great recipe.  Huwyl measured out the ingredients and we looked at how the liquids sat in layers at first and then emulsified to make something new.  See, science.

Next we got a little more ambitious and made up a lovely beeswax polish recipe.  This was a team effort with Neirin chipping in as we measured the sweet almond oil (I wanted something a bit lighter than olive oil).  Huwyl and I worked together on grating the delicious smelling local beeswax into pale curls of honey scented shavings.

Watching Huwyl take on the varied tasks so readily and with such confidence and capability gave me a little jolt.  He is becoming so able and not such a helpless little guy.  I love being able to take advantage of that, getting him active and engaged in our activities.

As he stirred the wax and oil together we watched them merge and change; no longer two elements but now one new thing.  We added lavender and enjoyed the sweet wafts coming up out of the hot pan.  I kept expecting Huwyl to get bored and wander off but he stayed with our ‘experiment’ to the end.  He stirred the cooling mixture, noticing the coagulation and eventually transferred it all into a pot to store.  He rubbed the mixture all over his hands and arms (you can’t do that with Pledge) and insisted I do the same, we kept sniffing our hands and talked about how soft our skin felt.

Later, with the sunshine strong enough to allow for  the patio door to be open as the boys played on the deck, I rubbed the mixture into my 100 year old kitchen table, bought at a flea market by my parents 10 years ago.  The polish soaked into the bare wood, stained by countless painting experiments and decades of use, the soft mixture disappearing into the grain giving it a warm luster.  Though the boys played outside in the deep snow, our kitchen smelled like the warm days of summer.  Even into the evening, the boys asleep and snoring, my skin still held the smell.  Honey, with a hint of lavender.

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Faery Sleep Spray

Over Christmas I had a little bout of making some hand made pressies for friends, one of the things I included for some of the children I know was a Faery Sleep Spray.  Unfortunately I forgot about a couple of special children that I have quite a close relationship with.  Yes, that would be my children.  So I have made up another little batch and thought I would share the process.

What you will need:

A 30ml spray bottle.  I bought mine from a Canadian company here but this company has a good reputation if you are in the US.

Water

Essential oils – I used Lavender and Chamomile, 3-4 drops of Lavender and 2-3 drops of Chamomile.

Method:

Fill the bottle with water and then add the essential oils.    I used about 5-6 drops of oil as this was intended for children and I just want to gently scent the room not create a very strong smell.  Given that the concentration of oil to water is not strong it is important to allow the oil to sit in the water for a little while before spraying, this allows the scent to diffuse throughout the water creating a pleasing smell but avoiding irritation or danger to eyes and faces.

The spray can be used in a bedroom just before bed or even sprayed directly onto a pillow.  The advantage of the low concentration is that the spray will not cause irritation to skin if it is sprayed directly onto a person by accident (though care should still be taken to avoid the spray getting into anyone’s eyes) and is should not stain or damage hardwood or painted surfaces.

Luckily these are scents that are especially pleasing to faeries and so they are much more likely to visit if the spray is used in the room.  It is a signal to the faeries that the child in the room is ready for sleep and so ready to have a faery visitor in their dreams.  Of course a faery will not visit unless they are sure that the child is fast asleep so they should snuggle down and nod off as soon as possible.

Parents may be pleased to know that Lavender and Chamomile are soothing oils that promote relaxation and sleep and are especially soothing for children.  Chamomile can also help support a baby or young child who is teething and it will certainly not hurt anyone to be in a room with a pleasant atmosphere, especially when all are suffering.   I use both of these oils (I often alternate them so that the effects are not diminished) in baths or on a heat pack, allowing the scent of warmed wheat berries and oil to mingle and soothe as we snuggle for a story before sleep time.  This can also help to soothe and calm a Mummy or Daddy at the end of a long day.

So if you are looking to invite happy dreams and pleasant smells into your bedrooms then a Faery Spray might be just the ticket.  And to go with the lovely smells,  here is a little poem to whisper before bed.

The night is here, until morning dew,

Sweet dreams, sweet dreams, sweet dreams to you…

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