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Living Small without Building a Cabin in the Woods

I have long been intrigued by the idea of living small. Last spring I read multiple books on houses under 1000 sq feet and DIY cabins with a small footprint. They sported fold out bunks and storage areas under couches. Some were in the middle of cities and others were custom built and designed in the middle of the forest with a quiet stream nearby. And some are just straight up eye candy, like these ones.

As much as I love the idea of building a little hobbit hole, eco-friendly and with a huge garden, it’s not realistic for this season.

But we are living small. In a home that is under 1000 sq feet.

We have carted bags and bags of excess stuff to the thrift store and dump. There will many more trips before we’re done the decluttering and cleansing process.

livingsmall

We are living within our means and we are not spending time just managing our stuff. Instead of growing our own vegetables, we have access to a fabulous farmer’s market where we can stock up on seasonal vegetables, grass-fed meat, milk and bread.

Instead of living by a quiet stream (and let’s be honest, open bodies of water right by our back door would be very stressful in this season of little children), we are within five minutes of three lakes all of which provide the natural respite I crave. The ocean is only twenty minutes away with many beaches to be explored.

It’s not a cabin or a unique structure downtown in a major city. It’s an apartment and for us, in this season, it is perfect.

Would you live in a small cabin?

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On Saying Yes (42/52)

sayingyes

We had a family date afternoon on the weekend. It’s been on our list of traditions to start for most of this year and like all good habits, they become real when you just start. 

Jared took Kilmeny to her very first symphony concert, she’s started playing the violin this fall and she told the conductor that she was going to start playing in his orchestra when she turned six. She has a gutsy confidence and it is thrilling to watch her develop  her own loves and opinions.

sayingyes

a portrait of my girls, once a week, every week in 2014

Khaira and I went to the coffee shop after a ride across the harbour. She posed for me after I asked if I could take some pictures and didn’t stop talking for nearly two hours. We sipped our latte and apple juice and had the most delightful conversation over a giant chocolate chip cookie.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the daily rituals – the meals, the snacks, the tidying of the room and the washing of the clothes. The stories, the routines and the bedtimes. Some days there’s a lot of saying no or just a minute. This day wasn’t like that. It was a yes day and we were both reminded of the beauty of parenting. The fun in opening up worlds to these little people and indulging their desires to ride the elevator again and again. Of saying yes and giving them our undivided attention. Of listening and sharing moments together. 

linking up with Jodie for Project 52  

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3 Simple Ways to Make a House a Home

The night after we moved in, my husband and I stayed up late unpacking boxes and making the place feel a little more like home. We put books on the bookshelf in the living room, plants in their places and got the kitchen operational.

It was the best thing we could have done.

There’s still boxes to unpack, that third bedroom is very handy for storing the stuff we have yet to deal with. We have more bookcases to organize, a bunkbed to acquire and a coffee nook to set up. But at the end of the day, we have this cozy spot to curl up in and it feels like home.

Even if you haven’t recently moved, you can still make your house more homey, more of a haven. Here are three of my quick go-tos to make it more homey, even if you’re serving frozen pizza for supper.

makingahome

1. Make a cozy spot to land at the end of the day.

Your bedroom, your living room, a chair in the corner of the hallway- keep somewhere sane. Our living room is my favourite place to be right now, there’s a huge window that lets in tons of light (we have yet to get window coverings), there’s a wooden tray filled with pumpkin and gourds and a basket full of books from the library. I’ve cozied the space up for fall with afghans and cushions and I’ve cleared off all the surfaces. There’s no overhead light which suits my lamp-loving self just fine. I can’t really see the pile of boxes to be taken to the recycling and there’s plenty of surfaces to place a mug of tea.

makingahome

2. Make a vignette.

I hardly used this term before October and the Nester started her 31 Days of Vignettes, but now I use it both in my conversation and in my home. When life feels crazy and there’s a million things on the to-do list, taking five minutes to create a pretty little spot is refreshing and like a deep breath for the home. I scattered acorns, glitter pinecones and leaves on the table, added a candle and it makes all our meals feel pretty and special. I filled a glass bowl with more pinecones, placed in a wooden drawer, added a candle and it finishes that one corner.

3. Adapt and change your rhythm.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve tried to keep things the same as they used to be in our old home. And it’s not working that well. My husband is a great adaptor and now I’m trying to follow his lead- adapt to our new home. Everything is different which is both exhilarating and overwhelming. I’m still figuring out the anchors in our day and week but the more flexible I am, the more I remind myself to adapt, the easier it becomes.

What are your go-tos to make your home more homey in a busy season?

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Travel, Food and a Good Fiction (Twitterature October 2014)

On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta
by Jen Liu-Lin

What if the noodle came to China from Italy  along the Silk Road? Jenn explores this question in a six month journey along the Silk Road, travelling overland to Italy through Central Asia. It’s a fascinating tale of the importance of food in a culture and how much we really do share in common. It also made me want to travel through Central Asia although I could pass on the dried sour milk.

The Husband’s Secret
by Liane Moriaty

I picked this up on a whim at the ‘rapid read’ section of our new library, and it was a great fictional read. A secret letter discovered when it shouldn’t have started an unraveling of people’s lives and shows just how much our actions affect those around us.

twitterature_02

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World

by Eric Weiner

I don’t call myself a super happy person (I am happy just not like Tigger) so I’m always intrigued by books that explore the concept of happiness. This one did not disappoint. Traveling to a number of countries around the globe from Denmark to Dubai to Bhutan, the author investigates just what makes that nation happy or not and can we be happy in our own native country? It’s a great read and the answer is given in the first couple chapters.

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
by Deb Perlman

I’ve wanted to read this cookbook ever since I saw it was out so I was delighted to see it available at my library. It’s the same friendly voice as her blog (by the same name) with real recipes and I wanted to head to the kitchen and start cooking immediately. It’s a great book to read before bed, with bookmarks handy to mark all the recipes you’ll want to try.

Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great
by Danielle Walker

We just started a Whole30 and this book made me realize that switching up our diet wouldn’t be that hard and the food would still be really good. It’s dairy, sugar and grain free and I can’t wait to be done the Whole 30 to try out some of the cookie recipes. The photography is stellar. This is one cookbook I want to buy and I’m a picky cookbook buyer.

Do you read cookbooks before bed? What books have you been reading lately?

 

Joining up with Anne for Twitterature, head to Modern Mrs Darcy for many more titles and reviews!

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Savouring Autumn (41/52)

kilmo41:52

 

khaira41:52

a picture of my girls, once a week, every week in 2014

A quick trip to a new favourite park was the perfect outing on Sunday. The girls woke up coughing and we promptly decided we wouldn’t be going anywhere. But we all needed a little fresh air and worked up an appetite taking in the fall beauty.

We headed back there after our dinner of roast chicken, stuffing and all the veges. The late afternoon light was gorgeous and these autumn days are fleeting. The leaves go from green to crimson to gone in a matter of days. 

Autumn teaches me to savour. To seize these days even when it means going to the same park twice in a day and bundling up against the wind.

October is half over and the leaves outside my window are slowly falling.

We’ll be outside every chance we get.

How do you savour Autumn’s beauty?

linking up with Jodi for Project 52 

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The Don’t Do List (keep it simple)

Life is full right now.

We just moved. My husband started a new job. And there’s all the new things that come with any of those big life transitions. All good things but all mostly new things. I feel like I have a few too many tabs open in my brain; there are so many directions I could be going, and I don’t seem to have the energy or time to do them all (and I know that some of you can probably relate!)

So, when this happens, I like to make a don’t do list. Sometimes I write it down. Sometimes I just remind myself that I don’t have to do it all right now. I also like to stay in bed and binge watch whatever show I’m currently into but that doesn’t really go anywhere good. So I make a list. I’m all about keeping it simple, streamlined and maintaining my sanity so that I can care for my family in the best way possible.

the don't do list (keep it simple)

Here’s some of what I put on my don’t do list:

– don’t start homeschool program until November or December

– don’t do all the autumn-y things. I don’t have a mantel here to switch things up for each new season. And at this point all those pretty things are still in a box. We’ll get a pumpkin and some squash this weekend and restock our apple bowl. And that’ll be it and it will be good.

– don’t fret the lack of routine and ‘normalcy’, it will return

– don’t worry about the laundry

– don’t think too deeply about anything. Why, yes, I am an over-thinker especially if I am tired, and if life feels crazy.

don'tdolistcollage

And because I like contrast, I made a to-do list as well:

– do make time for playground visits and library time

– do make time each time to cuddle up with my loves to read stories and be cozy together

– do take a bath with lavender oil, read a novel and go to bed early

– stay away from the computer except to engage in life-giving activities

– make time to remind myself that this is a season, it will pass. Also my husband and I are together through it all.

What’s on your don’t do list? What do you do when life feels crazy?

 

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Embracing the Season (even when you don’t feel like it)

embracing the season

 

We promised the girls a pumpkin patch day. September was crazy town with getting ready to move, a new job that required an hour commute and recouping (as best as we could) after our five months away. The autumn displays are all so wonderful, the pumpkin patches and the corn mazes and the u-picks all opened. 

And the girls would ask to go and choose a pumpkin. We picked apples one sunny Sunday and we had a few squash enter our meals but I have been in slight denial about Fall being here.

It’s not that I don’t like Fall. I love Fall. The colourful leaves, the roadside stands with honour systems for produce, the knits and scarves and hearty soups. I love it all. But I was having a hard time getting embracing the season this year.

 

embracing the season

Pinterest is awash with lovely recipes and everyone is agog over their first pumpkin spice latte and I was not. A week after we moved into our house, we made plans to go the pumpkin patch. We left the boxes and mess everywhere, cozied up in our knits and headed to the farm. 

embracing the season

 

I wandered around the u-pick flower patch while we waited for the wagon to take us to the apple orchard. Jared and I played ‘who can identify the most flowers’ and the girls played hide and seek amongst the giant sunflowers.  I could feel my love for Autumn coming back.

The girls picked out two pumpkins- one to carve and one to roast for pie and other delicious creations. We bought decorative corn and gourds and butternut squash. 

embracing the season

We might not make caramel apples or jump in leaf piles. But we will take long walks in the crisp air and make soup. I won’t make a pumpkin spice latte because I don’t like the drink but I will savour every other pumpkin spice creation. I won’t always feel like embracing the season but I will make time for my little family. We will take pictures and remember how beautiful it all is. 

embracing the season

And then we’ll unpack some more boxes and make this place a home. 

What is your favourite Autumn experience?

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Read- Alouds for Little People

We’re slowly getting settled into our new home after moving on the weekend, internet was hooked up today and thus I can share this post with you. We just got library cards for our new library and I can’t wait to read more with my girlies. 

 

Last month my four year old and I accomplished a quiet goal for mine for this year.

Read More to my Children.

Specifically read chapter books.

We started Charlotte’s Web last summer but due to my lack of consistency and perhaps her age, we only made it to chapter ten.

This fall our routine is going to have a little more structure as we start a more formal education at home. For this year. We’re huge fans of reassessing each child’s needs for each school year and making our decisions for home or day school based on that.

read-alouds for little people

The backbone of this year will be literature based and I’m excited about introducing some old favourites to my girls. Our debut novel was The Secret Garden, the Great Illustrated Classics edition. It’s a great way to simplify the story for younger people without sacrificing too  much of the story.

Here are some of the books on our list this year:

The Little House Series  by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Wind In The Willowsby Kenneth Grahame

Charlottes Web by E.B. White

Peter Pan (great illustrated classic edition) by J.M. Barrie

A Bear Called Paddington by Michal Bond

The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

A Little Princess by Frances H. Burnett

The Betsy-Tacy Treasury by Maud Hart Lovelace

I’ve started a Pinterest board to keep these and other titles close at hand, find that here! 

Some of these will have extension activities like hot cocoa and marmalade buns (name that book!). We may even make marmalade as a further extension activity. We may decorate hats ala Fancy Nancy  and then make an apple pie but not travel the world after we read this book.

read-alouds for little people

This list is geared for my older daughter who will be five later this winter. For individual book time and read-alouds for my younger daughter, I’ll be referencing the Five in a Row and Before Five in a Row books.

 

What are your favourite stories from your childhood?

 

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5 Ways I Find Time to Read

I love to read. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that. It’s one of my favourite leisure activities and I honestly feel lost if I don’t have a couple books on the go.

I’m a mom of two little, busy girls and up until this fall, was the wife of a full-time student and orchestra sub. I’m still the wife,  his job description has changed. Just so we’re clear on that.

I don’t have a lot of free time to read but I do read a lot. Here are five ways I find the time to read. I’d love to hear what works for you so let’s chat in the comments!

5 Ways to Find Time to read for busy people 1. I make the time. A chapter or two before bed. A few pages while the girls play happily in the bath. As much as I can during afternoon quiet time. I try to reach for a book before reaching for my phone to browse instagram or some other time-sucking activity. I don’t have a lot of time or mind space for other hobbies right now, and so when I have spare time I will read or write. I try not to reach for my phone or computer when I have a few minutes but rather reach for a book.

2. I always have a book with me. If we’re running errands as a family, I’ll stay in the car and read with the kidlets while Jared picks up the milk. If I’m waiting anywhere, I read a few pages. I’ll take the girls to a park or a favourite trail and let them go play while I read, stopping to give more under ducks on the swings or see how fast they can roll down the hill.

3. I use my library, Good Reads and friends’ recommendations all the time. I have an ever-growing list of books to read on good-reads and also on my phone. Recommendations that come up in conversation, from other books or from the shelves at Chapters. I request books all the time from my library, it saves me browsing the shelves looking for something decent and helps me read what I actually want to read. I talk up books with friends, swapping titles and discussing our thoughts. 5 ways to find time to read for busy people 4. I always have several books on the go A good fictional read for bedtime and moments to decompress. A non-fictional on varying subjects- to help me grow in my faith, as a mom and as a person.  Sometimes I read a ton of travel memoirs, sometimes a lot on food. And I love a good biography or retelling of an historical event.

5. I don’t always finish the book.  If I’m not enjoying the book at all, if the content is just too much or too little or I can’t follow the essence of the book- I put it down. Sometimes I return it without finishing it or just pick it up at a later season. Reading something that requires slogging doesn’t make reading an enjoyable or refreshing activity. And I would prefer to read the good ones rather then a string of duds. (head here to read some of my recommendations!)

How do you make the time to read?

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An Apple Picking Day (38/52)

One of the things I love most about this Valley we’ve called home for the last two years is its produce! We eat mostly local everything- meat, milk, eggs and produce. And all of it happens within 100 miles of our home. I feel so very lucky to be able to walk down to the farm market and choose which apples we want for the week. I never say no to the BOGO sales on peaches and peppers and plan our menus around what’s in season.

apple picking in nova scotia

apple picking in nova scotia

apple picking in nova scotia

This weekend we took a little time out from the packing and decluttering to pick apples. It’s one of my very favourite autumn traditions. We filled up a 20 lb bag full of Cortland apples and snacked on the nearby Macs and Gravensteins. They’ll be gracing our breakfast oatmeal along with a dash of cinnamon. Served up for snacking with chunks of cheddar cheese or dipped in peanut butter. And there will definitely be some baked treats, after we move and I unpack my baking pans!

 

apple picking in nova scotia

apple picking in nova scotia

What are your favourite autumn traditions? 

 

linking up with Jodi for Project 52 

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