A few new inventions

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Chris and I make a good team. He likes practical and I like beautiful. Lucky for me everything he makes is beautiful!
I enjoy my home when it is neat and orderly which means I like things put away (or hidden away according to Chris).
I am always switching things up around the house which means where things live sometimes changes.
He is always asking me “So where did you hide it now?” about many of his belongings.

His slippers are one of those things. I may put them in his closet, or by his bedside. Sometimes they make their way by the back door on the shoe rack. Or placed in a basket with all of the other slippers.
I knew he was trying to make a point when he came home last week with his newest invention- Slipper Hooks.
As much as I like things put away out of sight, I had to admit I loved his idea.
He came home the next day with a hook to hang above for his pajamas. And there you have it a new “practical” place for his things with no excuse for me to hide them away.

And while we are on the subject of inventions, check out our affordable version of a new recliner for Chris. To back up a bit, we had been searching for a leather recliner similar to this one for a while. Since they were hard to come by in our price range we settled for an Ikea POANG chair. It was the right size and is actually pretty comfortable. Since the matching ottoman was too bulky for the space Chris decided to make a custom one that slants down at just the right angle that he prefers. Not only is the whole combination beautiful but it is surprisingly ergonomic!

A few new things

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Just a few new things around the home to share with you…

Chris made me that beautiful coffee table for Christmas which now lives up on the second floor in our loft space. It’s so nice to have a place for our feet to rest upon, stacks of books, a space for board games, and our Downton hot chocolate parties!

My mama gifted me a set of those lovely iron sconces for Christmas this year. She overheard my love for them while we are away at Shehawken this summer visiting here. She’s so sneaky!

I have been on the look out for some new linens and found an amazing lot of napkins with beautiful embroidery work along with that tablecloth while thrifting last week. I will be using my antique wooden ironing board on a weekly basis!

We are off to sunny Florida in a few hours. I will be posting photos here all week.

Have a lovely weekend my friends!

xo

Following the light

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Each day I notice a subtle change in the light. I like the pictures it makes in my home. Natural artwork.

Winter Essentials

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I so enjoy the holidays and there is always a little bit of sadness that creeps in when they are all over but it hit me today that I think January may be my one of my favorite months.

I love the fresh start of a new year. The deep exhale and peace after the busy holiday season. The rituals that bring us close together. Winter vegetables. A desire to bake and try new recipes. And my tried and true list of essentials to help bear the darkness and bitter cold.

:: Candles. I have a 4:30 lighting ritual when darkness sets. I budget in votives and pillars each month to scatter about. They set a warm and cheery mood.

:: Red wine. A glass of red wine (or two) when I am making dinner warms and relaxes me. I am loving Malbec these days.

:: Citrus. I cannot get enough in the winter. We have a neighbor who always sell boxes of citrus right before the holidays to fund raise for various causes. I always order one or two mixed cases of oranges and grapefruit to get us through the winter. We make fresh squeezed orange juice every Christmas morning. My new favorite breakfast/snack is grapefruit, orange, clementine, kiwi and pomegranate seeds.

:: Fire. We always have a well stocked woodpile on our back porch. We light a fire almost every night before dinner and then gather around after to read, play games and keep warm. On weekends the fireplace will sometimes be lit from morning til night.

:: Wool. I love a winter wardrobe. I love layers, boots, vests, socks and sweaters. I couldn’t live without my wool toggle coat, a 40th birthday gift from my mama.
My slippers, socks and boots are all made from wool. I am always on the look out at the thrift store for 100 percent wool sweaters. They may be a bit itchy but they truly keep me the warmest. I only knit with wool and seek out the softer wools like merino and alpaca.

:: Soup. I’ve written here before about my love of soup. It is my all time favorite winter meal. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner (no lie!) I make at least one pot of soup per week in the colder months and it’s a perfect way to enjoy the winter squashes and roots in our weekly winter CSA share.

:: Greens. I crave dark leafy greens all year long but particularly in the winter. Kale, spinach, tat soi, mache all make their way onto our plates in salads or sauteed with lots of garlic to ward off colds and flu.

:: Fresh flowers. Along with candles I also budget in fresh flowers each week in the winter time. They are worth every penny and bring me joy every time I look at them. There is always a bouquet on my dining table and one in the kitchen. I sometimes add fresh flowers into a arrangement on the mantle as well. I like to incorporate them with clippings from the yard. Right now they are mixed in with evergreens. Lately I have been drawn to ranunculus, tulips and eucalyptus.

:: Forced bulbs. You will always find pots of paperwhite and amarayliss bulbs placed throughout my home starting in December. The green growth is a hopeful reminder that spring will soon be here. I like to create little scenes within the pots of bulbs with glass mushrooms, miniature deer, pine cones and moss. In a month or two I will begin to force branches

Life learning

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I have had many readers over the years ask me to share here about our homeschooling path and to be honest I have dodged those requests mainly due to the fact that I thought it may be a complicated/personal thing to write about but truly it is all very simple.

Looking back I am not sure why we chose this path but it has always felt like the right fit for our family and runs in alignment with who we are. Both Chris and I never really enjoyed nor excelled in school. We are self taught, hands-on type learners so it made sense to instill this in our own children by experimenting with the unschooling philosphy although, I prefer to call ourselves life learners. I mean we are all life learners right? Each and every one of us learns every single day in all that we do. There is just no way to avoid learning. It’s innate in humans to want to learn at all times.

It’s empowering to think how much we are capable of in teaching ourselves to do anything and everything. Hannah and Norah have both taught themselves how to do so many things on their own including how to read. We do not follow a curriculum of any sort but rather allow our girls to make their own choices about what they learn and when they learn it which in turn lets them pursue their passions and explore deeply those subjects which most interest them. We are always here of course to facilitate and support them. When we notice an interest beginning to bubble we put on our facilitator hats. For instance when Norah began talking about hosting a restaurant at our home I began to ask her questions, prompting her to come up with more ideas.I asked my cousin who owns a restaurant and catering business if we could come and help in her kitchen one day so Norah could get a feel for the restaurant world.

Now it’s not always our job to help the girls with their learning path. Sometimes it’s beyond us, which is why we like to encourage them to find what they are looking for from outside sources. We live amongst an amazing community of people with a wealth of knowledge and talent. We all learn from a diverse pool of people.

We are so lucky to live in a dynamic and vibrant town and to be so close to Open Connections, a natural learning education center, where both of my girls attend 3 days a week and where Chris also works. The girls attend there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for programing spending days with their Papa while I work my part time job. Chris works as the property manager as well as a facilitator, teaching programs based on nature, science, woodworking, rocketry, archery, etc. It’s a dream job for him and I love that my girls can be right alongside of him in a job that he loves.

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, Hannah has taken on a internship at Open Connections on Mondays tending to the land,the animals and working on outdoor projects. Norah always has an agenda for our Mondays together which will now include baking.

Fridays have turned into our adventure day where we are off on field trips/excursions exploring new places, maybe seeing a play or visiting with friends.

Our week has a nice rhythm with just the right amount of variety. The girls partake in various classes such as sewing and dance and they like to make plenty of time for friends. They are very social beings.

Now this is all not to say we don’t have our bumps and challenges and that I am always a confident homeschooling mama who never worries or frets over whether she is making the right choices or that she may be giving them too much freedom or that she may not be providing her girls with what they need. Oh I do have those moments for sure. But for the most part we take this journey together one day at a time, learning every bit of the way.

The photos above are of Norah yesterday who wanted to paint while her cheesecake was baking.

Sunday

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Christmas was put away on Sunday morning. We then headed to the Bandywine River Museum for the afternoon and ended the day with a Downton Abbey hot chocolate party. Did you watch?

Happy New Year

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Happy new year my friends! 2015 is going to be a good one. Although I am allowing the holiday season to linger just a bit longer than I normally do, I am always ready for a fresh start.
We took the tree down a few days ago but I left all other decorations up. I like that much of my Christmas decor reflects the winter season so it feels ok to leave it all up just a bit longer.
I hardly took a photograph this holiday but did manage to take a few shots of our winter solstice celebration and a few on Christmas morning. We hosted a caroling party the week before Christmas as well as a new years eve party which were both loads of fun. We are enjoying these last few slow days filled with daily fires in the fireplace, welcoming visitors for dinner and tea parties, the last of the baked goods, and loads of board games (the girls have a new found love for chess!). Today we are venturing out for a train ride into the city down to the Reading Terminal.

I look forward to visiting this space more regularly. I have made resolutions for 2015 many of which include a bit more rhythm. One of my top goals is to use my camera daily.
Thank you for continuing to visit me here in this space and for all of your kind words.
Here’s to a happy and healthy new year.
Cheers!

A time of renewal

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Happy Autumn friends!
I miss this space. I miss the rhythm and routine of coming here.
Our summer was a beautiful, bountiful and busy one full of many new adventures along with much tradition.
I am ready for fall though. It is a time of renewal for me.
I have begun to bring the gifts of this new season indoors to incorporate into our decor. We are eating squashes, brussels sprouts and dark leafy greens and soon soup will be a weekly meal.
We have a trip to the orchard planned to pick loads of apples to turn into sauce to can for winter as well as for holiday gifts.
And soon there will be daily trips to the woodpile.
I feels good to be back.
xo

A backyard restaurant

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We have been having such a fun summer full of new experiences along with tradition. We are slowly but surely crossing things off of our summer manifesto and since we still have a few weeks left I am more than confident that we can fully complete it. It’s a simple and achievable list just as manifestos should be.

One of the things on our list was something that Hannah and Norah have been dreaming of doing for over a year now and it was so fun to watch it all evolve and come to fruition this past Sunday.
They have always wanted to create a real live restaurant at our home so on Sunday family and friends came out to 121 Cafe, a backyard restaurant offering homegrown and seasonal foods.

The menu featured pasta dishes made with homemade pesto and tomato sauce, farm fresh salads, breads dipped in herb infused olive oil, peach blackberry crumble, mint iced tea and lemonade. We used as many ingredients as possible from our own backyard as well as our local farm. They worked all week preparing, cooking and gathering.
There were 2 seatings, one at 5pm and one at 7pm where the girls worked as both hostess and waitress for 26 people total. We set a table on the back porch, one on the patio and 2 out on the street for a true alfresco experience.They made their own menus, check slips and even doodle pages for kids to draw on.

Many times throughout the night they kept running in to the kitchen thanking us for helping to make it all happen. We all had a blast and fell into bed that night marveling at and appreciating the many chefs, cooks, waitresses and restaurant owners out there. We definitely got a small dose of how much work is involved!

At the end of the night the girls were thrilled to find that their own hard work had paid off making a profit of $200, half of which will be donated to our local fire company.

A sneak peek of Norah’s room

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When Hannah moved up to her new room last year we promised Norah a little room make-over.
She has been so patient as she has been sleeping up with her sister and living out of baskets over the months. As her room sits at the top of our stairs, I always had the door closed to hide how much work was to be done.
It feels so good almost a year later to have finally made some major progress.

When we first bought our house our budget only allowed us to put in new hardwood floors in the downstairs only. We put a cheap sisel rug down in the upstairs with the intent of one day putting hardwood in. Finally this spring Chris started that process and put floors down in Norah’s room and out into part of the hallway.
It made such a difference! I can’t wait to do the rest this fall!

A few weeks back I painted the walls this color and I cannot tell you how much I love it. It is so calming and peaceful and looks great against the wood pieces in her room.

Norah’s little Jenny bed was my mother’s when she was a girl and her bureau was her great, great, great grandmother Gladys’s.

We hung white dotted Swiss curtains which brightened things up a bit along with a white cotton quilt for her bed. My mom gave her a beautiful antique hooked rug and I found a little side table on craigs list which I want to eventually paint grey.

There are still shelves to be hung along with some artwork. And Chris is working on making an extension to the radiator cover for a makeshift desk.
We are also working on renovating her closet with both shelving and hanging.

I now find myself going upstairs for no reason at all but to just reach the top of the stairs with a door wide open and a happy little girl inside.