January

 

J A N U A R Y

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A walk through the woods

This month was strange in a sense.  I feel like the whole world is in chaos and I am merely turned to the fringes – looking to the stars, the moon and the earth. Withdrawing further and further.  I’ve always felt that the best form of protest is to rely on yourself and your close community and environment for the necessities in life.  This month, I focused on making for the shop, exploring, visiting my family in Nova Scotia and working on a few new things.

M A K I N G

Our seasons have such different impacts on my creative or making world.  Each one, I swear, it will be my most productive, most fulfilling season.  As soon as Autumn approaches, winter will be the month that I learn that new skill, knit something totally new and time consuming.  I imagine myself stuck up in my studio (spare bedroom 😉 and painting blindly, on a diet of tea and well more tea.  SO absorbed that I forget to eat.  Of course… it never exactly turns out this way :p

Calendula & Lavender Soap

We use the cold soap making process, which includes binding a lye solution* with a fat or oil.  The result is, if you ask me – pure magic (or chemistry).  When these two meet, saponification (I thought the word soaponification when my mom was teaching me 😉 occurs.  The lye and oil mixtures bind together (after a great deal of stirring – we actually use a hand blender) and form the wonderful substance we know to be soap 😀 I think of it being a little like cheese since it must cure for a couple of months before you can actually use it.

My knowledge is limited (I never was very good at chemistry) but I understand the recipe and that it is a really liberating way to live your life.  I feel like I am doing something productive AND feel so good using this soap.  The recipe we make makes about 36-40 bars.

In this batch – we added the calendula infused oil, dried calendula petals, dried lavender and lavender essential oil.  You can really add anything you want.  Once, we added cinnamon.  My next batch, I want to use ground coffee grinds for after working in the garden.  All of it organically grown and dried at home.

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Olive Oil infused with dried Calendula flowers
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The soap detail – Roughly cut and filled with little specks of Calendula
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My Mom gave me this heart shaped basket to keep my handmade soap in ❤

WOODEN SPOONS

My Dad is a wizard when it comes to making.  This visit, I worked with him to carve 2 spoons from an old apple tree that fell during a storm.  I sadly didn’t take many pictures of the process but they turned out beautifully and I’m so happy with them!  I still have to go out to the store to buy some Tung Oil to seal them up, but for now behold what you can do with wood!

One day, I became obsessed with the idea of carving my own spoons for making my herbal tea mixtures.  I often find myself just pouring right from the mason jar into my tea filter or I even just put my hands right in there (don’t ask why I didn’t use a spoon I already have..). I wanted to make a spoon to deepen and enhance that connection with the herbs that I drink.  I feel like the plants that I grow and dry myself deserve a little extra attention when I’m making a nourishing infusion.

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The apple wood split in half – you can faintly see the outline I drew
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Without the oil – still does a perfect job at being a spoon

Again, I would like to make a post about the carving process.  During one of the wild storms we had in November, one of our old apple trees fell so I am excited about having access to this beautiful hard wood!

FOOD

I have been drinking a squash smoothie every morning. January I successfully did not have a single cup of coffee and replaced it with green tea and strangely you may think… squash.  It’s so delicious though!  I have been blending pureed squash from the garden with frozen banana, almond milk, pure maple syrup, nuts and some spices.  Look at how beautiful squash is….

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K N I T T I N G

This month, I completed a Lopi Sweater for the Etsy shop, 8-10 pairs of Fingerless mittens for the shop and started to knit my rowan tweed aran Stole.  I have a lot of work to do preparing the listings for all the new knits and will make a blog post about these while I am making the listings.  So much to do this week, eep!

I posted a couple pictures of the stole up on Instagram, but here it is again!  I wanted it to look a little bit like a baby blanket.  Something pretty but practical.  I live in a stole my mom made for me many years ago. I relate to Holden in Catcher in the Rye, my big cozy stole/shawl is his cap.  My protector in the form of a sheep’s wool and just a little bit of magic.  I will write more about this shawl when I finish in February.

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The most tidy my knitting basket has ever been

B O O K S & R E A D I N G

Most of you won’t know, but I have a Masters Degree in Library Science.  I love to read which is what led me down the path to become a librarian.  I enjoy librarianship however, a sequence of events began to point me in another direction.  I have accepted it and now embrace a making / artist / homesteading life.  A childhood dream that I definitely never thought would be possible!

House of Splendid Isolation by Edna O’Brien (1994)

Okay, so I actually read this in December, but I will include it anyway >.<  I am someone who is easily swayed by cover images or titles.  The title conveys everything I love in books.  An eerily haunted feeling of living somewhere beyond the norm.  I could only guess it would have someone looking back at their past, of a life perhaps when the house was full of life.  Anyway! it actually did have this very element, but it was so run on and all over the place. I wasn’t even clear who characters were or what was going on.  I read chapters while not being clear on literally anything! Sadly, the past recollection was a fail for me. However the present was very interesting. It tells the story of a notorious IRA volunteer who takes refuge in an old manor house and holds the elderly woman (the only remaining resident) “hostage.”

 

Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill (first preformed in 1956)

My grandfather was a theater actor and left us with many classic plays.  My favourite that he was in and left us with, is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee.  I’m determined when I go home, to read at least one of the plays there.  This month, I chose the classic Eugene O’Neill play.

A semi-autobiographical play set in a single day of the Tyrone’s family life while they reside at their summer home in sea-side Connecticut.  It was very, very good and I suggest it for anyone who loves literature or playwrights.

The Dean’s Watch by Elizabeth Goudge (1960)

I have NO idea how I ended up reading this book. It was on my Goodreads “to reads” list and I randomly came across it while I was at the library and remembered the name.  I’m not sure how it ended up on my list.  Anyway, it was a very heartwarming story (such a contrast to the former)  about the relationships of a group of unexpected misfits in Victorian England. I really enjoyed it.

I’m currently reading Death of  a Salesman by Arthur Miller and  a graphic novel about Tetris.  Desperately need to go to the library!  This week, I will take out a couple of new books.

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January reads

 

N A T U R E & E X P L O R I N G

Since I went to Nova Scotia for 2 weeks, I spent a lot of time outdoors.  More than normal for this time of year since the weather was so mild and pleasant.  Usually, I cross-country ski when I’m out there but this year was strange.  We didn’t have enough snow to ski so I was walking in the woods.  Since it was so nice out, I had several fires with the trees, having tea and just sitting watching the smoke and listening to the wind.

An old friend of mine and I drove out one day to Tor Bay Provincial Park and up around Cape George.  It is so beautiful, the ocean is so powerful and Nova Scotia just always takes me breath away.  When Jamie came out to the house, we also drove out to Tor Bay.  It’s a special, special beach with rocks that look like beached whales and white sand.

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Merlin in the woods after a fresh snow fall
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Wood that lines the paths, eventually to be brought down to the house
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One successful fire
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Green Tea breaks ❤
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The dogs are so insanely happy it’s snowing!
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Winter food – Rosehips
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Before the snow – I swear trolls inhabit this spot
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Giant burl on a spruce tree
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My sister and brother in law kept us company out at the house for a weekend
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Visits to the beach with Jamie ❤ and of course the dogs
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Rocks placed throughout the woods by glaciers thousands of years ago, Oh Nova Scotia ❤

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and shortly after I shot the rabbit’s tracks – a snow shoe hare hopped out and crossed my path
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Tor Bay Provincial Park
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Lichen and moss by the Atlantic Ocean
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Path along the shore
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Jamie and I walking Henry ❤
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The house in NS after a snow
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Sunset in our backyard on PEI
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My parents house and the dogs ❤
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The Handmade barn!!  I have to refrain from taking so many pictures of it, but look how pretty with the sun rising behind it after a fresh snowfall!

A R T

February will bring more art… this is what I tell myself.  I will be locked away working fervently ; )

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T U R N of the W H E E L

Today is Imbolc, The first of February.  The beginning of spring in Ireland and the half way mark here in Canada 😉 We have a lot planned for the month with visits and hiking.  I have a lot to do with our etsy shop that I hope to have ready by the weekend.  Thank you so much for taking the time, even if it’s just to look through the photos (I know a lot of writing can be daunting and annoying sometime).

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Favourite mittens at the beach ❤
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The Drive Home – I was planning to knit but how can I resist when she wants to be this cute!

 

*lye (sodium hydroxide) is VERY caustic so its’s very important to have supplies that are strictly for soap making and wear protective gear.  It’s also important to keep any pets away from the area that you work and have a window open for air flow!  Once you get over the ‘scary’ aspect of lye, you will enter the very exciting world of making your own soap and no longer relying on the harsh soaps of the divorced from nature world!

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10 thoughts on “January

    1. Thank you so very much ❤ I have an apple tree on our property right now that has sadly fallen so will make some more in the spring and will gladly write a post about it 🙂

      And I know just what you mean… it is really calming, something about working with wood!

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  1. Beautiful photos, as always! I enjoy your blog posts possibly more than your Instagram feed. I think may have to give squash smoothies and soap making a try.

    Thank you for your lovely post.

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    1. Thanks so much Karyn! That means quite a bit since I feel like I put more of myself into my blog posts and try to be a little more separate from my instagram.

      The Squash smoothies actually started because I was using Pumpkin and genuinely thought one of my squash was a pumpkin (a little embarrassing…) and used it instead! I am fresh out of pumpkins but still have a few squash from the garden and it honestly makes a delicious smoothie (I just put about half a cup of the pureed stuff in there and freeze the rest).

      Best of luck to you!

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  2. Hi!
    I’ve been following your ig for a while now, and I love what you’re sharing. This is my first time visiting your blog and I love it even more! I really appreciate your art, and wonder if you sometimes sell it on Etsy too?
    I also wondered about the soapmaking – how long is the oliveoil infused with the dried calendula? I have a little from last summer in our pantry that I would love to use.
    ❤❤❤

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    1. Hi Jannicke!

      Thank you so much for the comment! I was saying earlier to another lovely being that I really, really appreciate hearing you prefer the blog over the instagram, simply because I put more of myself into this and try to keep a little separate from my instagram (if that makes any sense!).

      I steeped my Calendula in olive oil for maybe 3-4 weeks in a clear glass jar in the window sill. I have also been short for time and simply simmered it over the stove at a very low heat to infuse the oil (for salves, etc.). However, the slow sun method is much more beneficial as it strengthens the plants properties and retains more of the goodness (simmering on a stove kills some of it 😦 ). I also tossed in some crushed up petals in the mixture as well which is what gives the soap those little yellow flecks.

      As for my artwork, I do sell it on https://www.etsy.com/shop/woodfolkprints
      Currently I just have cards available. There are a few prints I’m hoping to send away to get some on rag paper and hoping to put up a couple original paintings as well. All in good time I tell myself!

      Hope this helps and sorry for writing so much!


      Julia

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  3. I completely resonate with your ways of protest, Julia, as I have spent the month in this same exact way. Living a simple, contemplative and creative life – one full of gratitude and Joy – sends a tremendous amount of Love and Light energy into the universes, where it can be put to good use for shifting the collective consciousness.

    As always your posts are deeply stirring to me. DO NOT EVER think that your words and photos are too long. My heart smiled when after reading a section of this post and scrolling downward, I saw another thread of ideas and photos! I didn’t want it to end!!! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks so much for this comment, Bonnie! It really means a lot to connect to others that feel similarly. I am trying at the moment to send love and light out into the big wide universe just by visual meditation and positive affirmations. Sometimes though I get caught up in a slump 😦

      It makes me happy though to read that you enjoyed reading my post! I am thinking of doing vlogging (like video diary) and your comments have encouraged me to set down this path!

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      1. Follow your heart, Julia! And keep sending those positive affirmations and love/light visuals out into the universes. Every kind thought/word/deed adds to the Light, which dispels the darkness (or in some cases shines more light onto the darkness, thus exposing darkness further). I look forward to your future endeavors! And I must let you know that you are inspiring me to take up my blog again. I haven’t blogged or updated my website since early autumn 2014. I’m feeling it is time again. So, thanks for the inspiration!

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  4. Hi Bonnie!

    I would love to check out your blog and follow along! I find it very therapeutic even if it is just for yourself and that is how I think of it more. I don’t really expect anything from it but to share small pieces of my life with those few others out there that may be feeling the same way or like to do the same things It is really rare I find now adays.

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