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Be My Valentine

{Celebrating Every Day} | Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day has always been a big favourite of mine.  Other than Christmas, it is the only holiday that I am likely to go a little bit overboard with – decorations, menu, treats.

So I thought I’d share some link love to some fun recipes and crafty goodness.

{Celebrating Every Day} | Valentine's Day

My loves will wake to a table laid with mugs decorated with hearts, filled with chocolate goodies.  Breakfast will probably be Irish oats and cream with sliced red fruits {we’ll have to see what I can find at the market}, or egg in a {heart-shaped} hole with a smaller portion of oats on the side.  And cocoa.  Must have cocoa on Valentine’s Day morning.  With whipped cream and pink and red sugar crystals sprinkled on top.

{Celebrating Every Day} | Valentine's Day

I dipped into my considerable stash and pulled out some Lamb’s Pride wool in Rosado Rose and Ruby Red and crocheted the sweet little hearts you see here using the quickest little pattern from Skip to My Lou.  Crazy fast to work up and addictively rhythmic.  You may find yourself with a basketload by the end of the night.  {I just made the tiny ones, I think they’re perfection}.

{Celebrating Every Day} | Valentine's Day

I always try to make the entire day full of treats, culminating in a nice meal for my sweethearts.  I haven’t decided on a dinner menu, but cream tea at eleven may include these adorable mini tarts from The Sweetest Occasion {they have lots of other ideas for Valentine’s Day, too, so plan to visit for a little while}, and these gorgeous pink-iced choux pastries from B Comme Bon *.  For our afternoon snack time – le goûter – I am hoping to make these lovely crépes * in both sweet and salty versions.

{Celebrating Every Day} | Valentine's Day

*Both recipes from B Comme Bon are written in French with metric measurements, so I have translated them into English, with standard American measurements for those of you who want to make them, but can’t read French, or don’t have a food scale {I highly recommend getting one, the measure-by-weight method is most excellent, especially for baking}. Links to each recipe below::

La Vie en Rose Crépes

Choux Roses

ETA:  This sweet post from my friend Kim.  And this beautiful shot of some cookies her gals made with a link to the recipe.

Sitting Down

{Creating} | Sitting Down

Women like to sit down with trouble – as if it were knitting. – Ellen Glasgow, 19th Century novelist

It has been a “what a week” week.

I have been recovering from a cold that turned very ugly.  I spent three nights in a row struggling to breathe.  The vaporizer we got from Glassheads Wholesale has been doing it’s duty, putting out camphorous steam to keep my airways as clear as possible.  Asthma treatments weren’t working well and panic isn’t a good addition to the treatment.  While the use of my nose has returned, my chest feels as though a small pachyderm has been resting itself upon it each night.  Bruise-y.And because I had been feeling generally crummy, with some symptoms that worried me enough to call my midwife, suspecting possible pre-eclampsia, I wound up at the regular OB’s office for a visit.  And while I was there speaking to his midwife I – quite embarassingly – passed out on the exam table.  This set into motion a series of tests for gestational diabetes, having satisfied everyone that my blood pressure is AOK and that I wasn’t spilling protein.  Off to the lab first thing on a Saturday morning for a one-hour glucose test.  The results on Monday were a fail.  Tuesday ultrasound showed that our little boy is perfectly proportioned for his gestational age. Wednesday morning found me very hungry and back to the hospital for a 3 hour glucose test… But I passed the time by visiting a new mama and her precious new daughter.

There is NO better consolation.  A true blessing.

Thursday afternoon brought the news that I had, in fact, also failed my three hour test and an appointment would be arranged with an endocrinologist who will, presumably, map out a course of action that will offend every fibre of my naturopathically inclined being.  At some point that night I realized that I was moving through the stages of grief.  I still have no idea what I was grieving for.  I suppose I felt like a failure.

By yesterday afternoon, I had read a pair of arguments on the possible over-diagnosis of gestational diabetes.  Both of those repeated every.  single.  thing.  that my own midwife told me.  Eat well and often, relax, get some exercise.  Exercise in frigid New England wintertime can be mopping the floors and scrubbing walls.  In my particular case, washing floors on hands and knees has the added benefit of helping a posterior baby to swoop around.

And for relaxation, I am indulging in some knitting.  A sweet romper in a beautiful shade of blue for baby.  The colour changes dramatically in the light. Here in the late morning light, it looks like sky blue. The previous image was taken earlier in the morning, in the same window, and it looks like the sea.

{Creating} | Sitting Down

This pattern is “Gift Wrap Romper” by Carina Spencer and comes with a bonus “Gift Wrap Sweater” pattern and a tutorial for knitting a twisted edge.  I am knitting the body in Madelinetosh Tosh DK in “Bloomsbury“and the contrasting band in “Filigree“, which I am also planning to use for a pair of wee slippers and a pilot cap.

Knitting is very conducive to thought. It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles, write a while, then take up the sock again. – Dorothy Day, Servant of God

I would love for you to share what you are knitting, or crocheting, or creating.

And while you are creating, please have a lovely mug of my favourite Cinnamon Milk:

  • 12 oz. whole milk, heated
  • 1 T. coconut oil (ghee is also very nice)
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix well together in a great big mug and enjoy.  I’ve been enjoying two of these each day this week.  Lovely.

{Thankful}

Despite the difficulties of 2012, we have much to be thankful for.  Our (not so) little family first.  Our new church community, new friends, old friends, extended family.  We are thankful for health enough to work, employment to keep us running, a little house to shelter us, and a new home (nearly finished) for us to move into.  Grateful for a farm, healthy animals, and acres of soil to steward, and for the woodland and stream that support wild creatures and make our new home so beautiful.

This year’s Thanksgiving meal was especially blessed since each child helped with a dish.  Here is James helping with the pumpkin pie:

 

{Celebrating Every Day} | Thanksgiving

 

{Celebrating Every Day} | Thanksgiving

 

A very traditional New England Thanksgiving Dinner was enjoyed by all:

 

{Celebrating Every Day} | Thanksgiving

 

{Celebrating Every Day} | Thanksgiving

 

And we snuggled up by the fire with dessert and cherished family time.

{Celebrating Every Day} | Thanksgiving

 

Rejoice always  Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.~ 1 Thes 5:16-18

Although it is not yet even Advent, I know that many of you have begun shopping for Christmastide.  And today is Small Business Saturday.  We have sets of Chrism-Scented Christmas candles, hand-poured by us, available for pre-order in our online shop.  They smell positively divine!  $25 the set.

 

 

Chrism Scented Christmas Candles | Family Centered Living™ Catalogue

 

Please order before 8 December.

Preparing for the New {Liturgical} Year

November is winding down, bringing with it Thanksgiving… and the end to our liturgical year.  The Sunday following Thanksgiving is the Feast of Christ the King.  It is a gloriously triumphant farewell to our year, followed by a liturgically quiet week before entering the season of Advent.  In our house, that week between Christ the King and the First Sunday of Advent is spent scrambling around looking for the Advent wreath and calendar, and for violet decorations.

It wasn’t so very long ago that we were also scrambling for Advent candles.  And we always seemed to leave it until the very last minute and often had to improvise by purchasing coloured and scented votives at a grocery store.  This often involved running to multiple grocery stores on the Friday before the First Sunday, after spending the previous two days cooking for Thanksgiving.  That generally doesn’t make for a very happy or calm Mama.

I decided to cure my problem by making my own candles.  And I had lots of help from Caroline, Sophie, James, and Jack.  Measuring, measuring again, melting, colouring, wicking, pouring, and unmolding…

{Creating} | Advent Candles

{Creating} | Advent Candles

 

{Creating} | Advent Candles

 

{Creating} | Advent Candles

 

{Creating} | Advent Candles

 

{Creating} | Advent Candles

 

{Creating} | Advent Candles

 

{Creating} | Advent Candles

 

{Creating} | Advent Candles

 

{Creating} | Advent Candles

 

It is a lovely way to spend the afternoon – creating, chatting, drinking tea or cocoa.  And learning about the process of making candles from bee to candlestick.

I have relatively recently discovered that Advent candles aren’t actually all that easy to come by, except online.  And finding high-quality beeswax (vs. parafin) candles that are solid colour (not dip-dyed) is even more difficult.  It seems that being caught out by the arrival of Advent is something of a pandemic, even among organized Catholic mothers.  This year, we made sets available to other families and sold out so quickly that I didn’t even have time to post photos and descriptions in our store.  We are pouring last minute sets this week – every one of them sold out in 9 hours.  Next year, we’ll make lots more and earlier.

 

 

{Making a Home}:: Preparing to Feather the Nest

I am nesting.  I’m only halfway  through this pregnancy, but I have a good excuse…  We should {finally} have our occupancy permit for the farmhouse next week – just before Thanksgiving!  What a wonderful something-to-be-thankful-for.
There is still an awful lot to be done, and there will still be much to do after we’ve moved in.  The next week or two will make the farmhouse look like a beehive. Brian will be making the nearly-two-hour drive from his job to the farmhouse to finish laying subfloor, paint, lay tiles, install cabinets, and oil and wax the wood floors.  Our dear friend and oil man will be delivering some oil and priming the furnace.  Paint and floor finishes don’t like to be applied in a chilly house.
Jack will be heading back to the farm every evening – a 40 minute drive – to help his Pa.  And the rest of us will be joining in as often as we can.  In the meantime, between placing orders for materials, I’m trying to get some work done on several projects, decide what will – and will not – be coming to the farmhouse, knitting… and making all-purpose soap.
It seems I make a new batch of soap every time a baby arrives.  This one is a little early, though I’ll probably need to make another right before he arrives.  Here is my recipe:
{Making a Home} | Soap Recipe
Nissa’s All Purpose Soap:
  • 1 Bar Olive Oil Soap (I used a bar of Sancta, which smells like Chrism), shredded
  • 1 c. washing soda
  • 1/2 c. Borax
  • Hot Water
  • Saucepan
  • long handled wooden spoon or French whisk
  • 5 gallon bucket with a Gamma lid

In a saucepan, combine soap shreds and water.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the soap is completely dissolved.  Pour into your bucket and add soda and Borax.  Stir well until combined.  Add hot water, stirring all the time, until the bucket is half full.  Place the lid loosely over the top of the bucket and store in a safe place, away from little folk (we don’t want them lifting the lid and falling in!).  Keeping the lid loose at this stage will allow the soap to do it’s thing without the gas bubbles blowing the lid right off.  Next morning, add more hot water, stirring all the time, until the bucket is full.  You can add more scent at this stage – up to 4 oz.  Fragrance oil is a bit stronger than EO, so add a little at a time until you’re happy with it.  Now clamp that lid down tight.

Use 1/4 c. to 1/2 c. in each load.

If you have a particularly dirty load, add peroxide to the wash (especially good for cloth dipes in my experience).  If your fabrics won’t tolerate peroxide, add some white vinegar to the rinse, or add more Borax and washing soda to your tub.  If you don’t want scent in your cloth diaper wash (or in any wash) just use unscented OO soap as your base.

This bucket will last you 160-320 washes (depending upon how much you use).  That’s pennies per load, and you control the ingredients.  You can also use this soap in the dishwasher, and on tile floors, countertops, sinks, and appliances.  We use it for absolutely everything.  It even makes an excellent pre-soak for baby stained (or other grubby) clothes.

{Making a Home} | Soap Recipe

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