Renaissance Mama


I’m experimenting with my photography while snow continues to accumulate outside our door.  The light has actually been exquisite – all soft and glow-y.

Fairy  Dust

Fairy Tale

Snow Fairy

Sophie is very pleased with how her portraits turned out.  And Joséphine has requested her own fairy portraits.  There is more snow due on Thursday, and again over the weekend, so we should be blessed with some more of the same pretty light.  I can’t wait!

If you’d like fairy portraits of your little girl(s), you can check out my photography website for information on sessions and collections, and then book a session (your place or mine) through this page.  I am really excited about offering all day group mini sessions at your church or club.  It’s a wonderful way to try me out and get a beautiful portrait.  PLUS, all fees currently go toward our adoption grant fund on Reece’s Rainbow to bring our son and daughter home.

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

Three part cards are an important element of Montessori materials.  They are extremely versatile in that you can use them as aids in a wide variety of subject areas.  Use them for maths, reading, science, geography… anything.  And they are very simple to make and to customize to your family’s needs.  You can copy and paste images to trace or print onto your cards, or, if you are particularly handy with a paintbrush or coloured pencils, you can create your own artwork.

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

For simplicity’s sake, I made colour nomenclature cards for my littlest ones to work with.  They are super-quick to make and you probably have the materials right there at home.

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

  • 12 index cards (or cut your own from white or cream cardstock)
  • watercolour paints
  • brushes
  • water
  • permanent marker
  • scissors
  • laminating sheets and laminator (optional)

I chose to do primary and secondary colours, but you can do as many as you’d like.  Add in brown, black and white, make tertiary colour cards…  I just mixed my own from what I had here.

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

You want to paint squares of each colour on pairs of cards – two red ones, two blue ones, etc.  When they are dry, print the names of the colours on the cards.  In hindsight, I should have printed ours in D’Nealian handwriting since that’s what I’m teaching them.  Easily done over later.

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

Now take one set of cards and cut them in half.  You now have three part cards – one complete card set to be used as the control cards, one set of colours, one set of printed colour names.  I feel that it is a really good idea to laminate the cards if you can.  it is spendy, however.  Laminating makes the cards last much longer, and you can wipe them clean in case a baby brother gets ahold of them while snacking. 🙂
{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards
Alternately, you could paint decoupage medium (like Mod Podge) over the front and back of each card.  You’ll probably want to do several coats, and probably before cutting the cards.

Now, to use the materials, show your little one all of the cards – controls and their matching picture and name cards.  Show them how they match up, that the letters in the words match the ones on the control cards.  Now, let your little one try.  Take up all of the ‘cut’ cards and mix them around.  Leave the control cards out at first.  Let her match them up.  Let her make mistakes and then ask if everything matches exactly.  Point out errors so that she can understand what to look for next time.

Eventually, she will be able to recognize by sight which words go with which colours, without using the control cards.  And she will start to be able to pick the words out of books she’s reading with you.

{Made for Learning} | Three Part Cards

You can do the same with letters and sounds, numbers and their qualities, shapes, natural science, history – whatever you can think of.  This is also a fun way of introducing English as a second language to an older child (which we will soon be doing), or of introducing a foreign language to your children.

I would love to see the cards you come up with.  Send me a link when you make some!

Fearless, Love

Autumn Cherry Tree

 “Be who you are called to be and you will set the world ablaze!” –  St Catherine of Siena


FEARLESS adj. Without fear. Bold, Brave, Courageous, Intrepid, Valiant, Lionhearted, Audacious, Indomitable, Undaunted.

Someone once told me that “Be not afraid” or some derivative of that phrase, appears in the Bible 365 times – once for each day of the year.

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul. – William Ernest Henley

This year, FEARLESS is my word.  I am adding it to my word from last year, which is LOVE.


LOVE v. To will the good of another

Whenever I have the chance to avoid doing something, to avoid loving myself or another, I will remind myself to be fearless.  Fear is really the only thing that ever holds us back from doing what we ought, from becoming who we were meant to be.  It is what stops us from starting – or finishing – a project.  Fear is what stops us from following our hearts, from responding to grace.

This year, I will be fearless.  And this year, once again, I will love.  And hopefully love better because I am unafraid.

What is your word for the year?

How to Really Satisfy Your {French-Canadian} Man

Got your attention, didn’t I?

Seriously gals, if your husband is French-Canadian, as mine is, this one thing may just be the best thing you do for your marriage: learn to make tourtieres.  And I’m here to help you with that.  And if your husband isn’t French-Canadian, I’m pretty sure that he’ll still love this pie.

A tourtiere is a meat pie.  And there are as many ways to make meat pie as there are memeres (grandmothers) to hand down the recipe.  Traditionally made with just ground pork, I prefer a mixture of pork, veal and beef.  It makes a very tasty and tender filling.  Tourtiere can be served at any meal – as the main dish, or as a side dish.  It is beautiful for breakfast, and lovely with a garden salad for lunch.  At Christmas, we serve it as a side dish.  And then again at Easter.  Here’s the one I make:


Tourtiere (makes 2 pies)

  • 3 lb. ground meat (1 lb each pork, veal, and beef)
  • 3 lb potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (reserve some of your potato water)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 T poultry seasoning
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves
  • Impossibly Flaky Pie Crust (or your fave recipe)

Sauté onions in a bit of oil until quite soft, add the ground meat and spices.  Cook until the meat is done.  Add your potatoes and mix well, adding potato water if needed to keep the mixture smooth.  Set aside to cool completely.


Impossibly Flaky Pie Crust

The trick of the crust is to keep it COLD until you bake.  People will tell you that you can’t get a flaky crust with butter.  Totally untrue.  Keep it cold, and you’re golden.  I use my fingers to flake my butter and still get a fantastically flaky crust.  If that idea scares you a little, get that butter near freezing and grate it in order to get small, blend-able bits.  You can absolutely use a gluten free AP flour mix for this.  Gorgeous.  Divine.  No worries about tough crust – ever.

  • 2 1/2 c. butter, cubed or shredded
  • 6 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c. ice water

Mix all of the dry ingredients together really well.  You want something that looks like wet pebbly beach sand – the kind of stuff you could pack into a pail and make a castle with.  Now add your ice-water (leave the ice cubes out!).  Mix by hand or with an electric mixer until the whole lot holds together in one big piece.  Divide dough in half and form each into a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap or butcher paper and place in the coldest part of your fridge while you wait for the filling to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 450° F  Cut each disc in half and roll out to fit your pie plate.  Line two plates with dough, then fill right to the top with your meat filling.  Roll out remaining dough to top your pies.  Brush water onto the edge of your bottom crust so that the top will stick right down.  Flute or crimp your edge, and put a couple of steam holes in the top crust.  At this point, you can brush on an egg wash  before putting your pies into the oven.  But after you’ve made this the first time, you’d better be quick about it because he’s going to be impatient for those tourtieres! 

Bake at 450° F for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350° F and bake a further 30 minutes.  Serve them hot from the oven, or at room temperature.  Alternately, you can make these into little turnovers and pop them into his lunch box.  He’ll go a little crazy.  You may get flowers.



Bon appetit!

A Midwinter Night’s Dream

Midwinter Night's Dream

“…and so goodnight unto you all…”

With many thanks to my friend Suzanne Temple for the compositional and technical inspiration for this image.  I am so grateful for the generosity of creative friends who help me to learn more about my art. 

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