I've been dreaming of the misty seas.
Becoming a Waldorf teacher brings so much magic to life, in all the ways that I hope it will come to life for the students in my future classes. How can you possibly study the rich fairy tales, the qualities and attributes of letters and their stories, the magical kingdoms of numbers, the moral lessons of the fables and the archetypes of the saints, without recognizing and living into the magic of it all? I look deep into the forest on the mistiest of days and my imagination takes flight. Under the tenderest of chanterelle caps sits a fairy waiting out the rain. The gnomes live deep underneath that Douglas fir...can you hear them mining and singing? Hack, hack, the rocks we crack. Quake, quake, the earth we shake.
And to think this is only the beginning with so much to come. Astronomy. Ancient Egypt, Greece, India, and Rome. The Hebrew stories. The Norse myths. Botany and geology. Geometry and physics. The precious classics of education.
So it seems perfectly natural that in living by the sea, the spell of the salt air would take hold. Selkies, mermaids, and kelpies live here. At night, Coco is sure she can hear the mermaids singing while they sit on the rocks and comb their hair. We tell stories of the seals that live on the rocky island off the shore of our beach that is surely our own Roan Inish. These seaside tales of merwomen who shed their seal skins have evolved into kindred legends for those with the sea in their souls.
It's really quite something to look at the oridinary and the everyday to see the hidden magic beneath, to celebrate the imagination in all of its fairy rings and wizardry. Developing the ability to look at something and see more, well, that's an education in itself, and a skill this next young generation will need for the future. And so here, in this house, we celebrate and cultivate this gift.
Oh my, here we are already nearing the end of January. I have a feeling this is how much of this year will go...quickly, fully, and brazenly marching forward. I sense a slower rhythm by about the middle of September but until then our months are planned ahead. Busy times typically keep me from nurturing myself and our family togetherness, and so I'm ever so mindful these days to make slowing down and connecting as a family a daily priority.
Lately, I find some of the peace I seek at the sewing machine. It's nice to settle back into a sewing rhythm and one that is not for the purpose of a craft fair. Perhaps that's why I'm enjoying sitting and sewing the afternoons away so much right now...what I'm making and creating is simply for us. Well, mostly for Coco. Sewing for her, as my mother did for me, feels more than just crafting (though can we ever really call it "just" crafting, for it is so much more). Sewing for Coco is an outward expression of my love for her and for the beautiful imaginary world she finds herself in right now. We're always in the company of her friends (the fairies and one bear), and I smile to myself to see her galloping on her horses and pretending (quite convincingly so) to be a neighbour who repeatedly stops by for tea and chats.
The other morning my dear girl asked if she could wear something "girlie". This sweet gal of mine, clothed from her beginning in wool from head to toe, wool in beautifully rich and woodsy shades of brown, grey, cream, and tweed, asked for something girlie. It baffles me that she could grow to love sparkles, purple, and pink just as much as she does, having never really dressed her in them as a babe. Because it is January, I reasoned, the practical woolens had to stay, but we could, however, dress them up. The idea was met with a few twirls and some gallops, and so to work I went.
The pattern is the lazy days skirt pattern from Oliver + S. I used brown washing linen and embellished it with some trim I bought years ago from Purl Soho. The pockets were made with one of my favourite fabrics from Heather Ross. And trust me, while it may look cute over pink polka dot tights, I promise it looks just perfect over top wool leggings!
The business of tidying up after the holidays is now most surely done. I sat one afternoon and went through all of our decorations, making 2 big bags for the thrift store. The simplicity of our tree this year was all the incentive I needed to whittle down and sort through. We're now left with the truly special things and with much more room next year to create, gather, garland, and swag from the natural world.
Over the years, I've become quite ruthless when it comes to our "things". It's so very easy to accumulate, collect, and pack away (and forget!). I'm of the strong belief that any item in one's home must hold some sentiment or beauty, otherwise it's just clutter (beyond, of course, the necessary staples like pens, tape, dog treats, and so on). When we moved to the land we thrifted car loads of "stuff" and I've kept the momentum going. To walk into our house, well, perhaps you wouldn't believe it, but I know what is in every corner, every box, and there is nothing gathering dust. It's a habit that continues over time as we appreciate and then let go of things, and as we grow and our interests and inspirations change.
Still, there are those things that we no longer use that are so, so special we must hold on to them. A bin of Coco's teeny, tiny preemie clothes. I can't believe it now to hold them- how little she was! Sean and I share a box of childhood treasures too important to clear away- special books, scrapbooks, trophies, some coins, my first and favourite toy (a dog puppet). I have my wedding veil tucked safely away and I am the keeper of countless family photos and slides from when I was little. It's important to have these items...memories you can hold in your hand and feel, especially in our digital age when so much is stored on hard-drives and on the web. I keep this in mind for Coco. I know the pleasure of smells that take you right back, and the ability to hold a precious item from the past. It's an important and beautiful balance of keeping our home fresh and clear for the future ahead, while holding a space for the experiences and things that have shaped who we are.
With this in mind, I've been saving our Advent calendars. Each year, I buy an Advent calendar from the Waldorf Christmas market, or online. These calendars are usually from Germany and preferrably ones dusted in magic. I love the old fashioned paper calendars. There are so many lovely Advent calendar ideas out there that folks have created for their children with pockets and special items for each day. I'm inspired by all of them, but for me I step back at the thought of more little things about the house...more stuff in an already full time of year. The paper calendars are just as exciting and even as a mama I look forward to seeing what is behind each door.
And so it is since the Christmas of 2008, that magical Christmas when I found out I was pregnant with Coco. The Christmas that it snowed right across the country...our first Canadian wide white Christmas since the year I was born. The Christmas that winter settled into my heart as the most special season of the year. It was this Christmas that I bought my first paper Advent calendar in years and recorded the date on the back. Since then, I've saved them all with their dates. I'd love to carry this tradition until Coco is 12, so that she can look back and hold the Christmas memories of childhood in her hands.
Along with this, I also have Coco's partially completed baby book, a project I intend to complete (to date anyhow) this winter. In a separate book I write down the funny things that Coco says. Most recently, while playing house, she introduced me to her "husband", Merino Wool Sock. It was unbelievably adorable. I also have a journal ready to record poems and verses that I come across that remind me of Coco or that I want her to read. If I can fill it, it would make a beautiful 16th birthday gift.
I'd love to know- what are your special memory keeping traditions? And, what are the ways that you balance the delicate line between clutter and importance?
The 12 days of Christmas have passed and now we are firmly in the beginning of our fresh and new year. I have a lot of hope for 2013! But, before we move forward too quickly into January, I wanted to share with you our wintry feast from one deep and dark day in December. We were busy mulching the garlic bed and I came back up to the house to make lunch when I thought how perfect a day it was to enjoy hot broth in the middle of the garden. This broth is a favourite wintertime lunch- homemade chicken or turkey stock with bok choy, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste. Such great preventative medicine during this cold and flu season.
Little efforts like this create such special and long-standing memories and I hope 2013 is full of them. We even discovered a little buried treasure! Now on to rediscovering some of our pre-holiday rhythms and setting some new intentions in place.
fresh and new
We quietly celebrated New Year's Eve just how I like it, with feast and purpose, gratitude and hope. Us, together...and some bubbly beverages. I felt the coming of the New Year with the experience of this last one in mind- dreams come true and profound realizations. I know so much can change in a year. Oh, what we've done and how we've grown, and all in ways we didn't expect.
Our Christmas festivities were much like our New Year's celebration...quiet and purposeful, with some bubbly beverages. I stepped away from some of the traditions I usually keep, namely decorating our tree with all of our vintage ornaments (in an effort to save them from our kittens). As much as I adore them, Ruby Sweet and Figgy have destroyed most everything I treasure, including my computer, balls of much needed yarn, felted treasures, and various other things over the last six months. And so we set out to adorn our tree in homemade decorations and ornaments foraged from the land around us. With boughs of laurel and holly, candied orange slices, shells, lichen, gingerbread hearts, and paper chains, our little Fraser Fir turned out to be one of my most treasured Christmas trees ever. We crafted our decorations as a family and it was, in fact, a lovely accompaniment to Advent- more of the slow and purposeful tasks that take us out of holiday mayhem and into ourselves. Boughs clipped from the tree were hung from the old wood beams of this house, and doorways were decorated in rosehips and salal. I will forever remember this Christmas and the sweet combination of fir needles and woodsmoke in the air.
This morning we awoke to the most beautiful hoar frost; a little dusting of magic to begin the year! Later in the morning we walked the beach in the sunshine and I gathered more shells. Over the holidays I've tried to steal away little moments to myself...kindling my own inner light. I thought about this today, and with some more big changes headed our way again this year I feel the need to pay a little more attention to these things. This is my intention for 2013, to be mindful of the important tasks of renewing one's spirit and refreshing one's inspiration. That, and filling up my family with as much love and grace as I can muster.
Blessings to all of you on this first evening of this year! I hope 2013 is off to a joyous and adventurous beginning closely celebrated with those you love! I'm looking forward to sharing with you another year in the life of this little Elliott clan- troublemaking kittens and all!
It is almost midnight on the eve of Christmas. I have no photos to share this evening, though there are many to come. My intention today was to post some of our wintry adventures, but we all know how the day before Christmas can be. Ours was good...an afternoon and evening with family; a supper of sushi. Tomorrow, we'll cook and bake and enjoy each other's company with festive spirit.
It's quiet in the house and all of Father Christmas' work is done. The gifts this year are simple, few, and perfect. I am most proud of my handmade gift for Coco. All day there has been anticipation and the swirling of magic all about. Now that Coco is three, Christmas is well and strong in her heart. I've delighted at all the skipping and jumping and twirling in excitement. These are the moments I tuck away deep into my heart, determined to not forget the sweetness of it all.
I wanted to share with you something that I absolutely love listening to. If you know the Barra MacNeils you may know The Singing in the Streets from their first Christmas album. It's a beautiful piece of storytelling. So here you go, my friends. May you have a joyous celebration tomorrow with all of those you love, and may we all tread with a quiet and peaceful force into 2013. Thank you for visiting me here in this space, and for all you bring to it. I am most blessed.
With the festive season fully here I have so much to share of our wintry days. Tomorrow, I hope to bring the joys of this past month, for we have been busy and back and forth from the city, but still pausing to take in the simple, true and sacred essence of Christmastime. During this time of year I notice how protective I feel of the experience of childhood...the magic, the wonder, and the spirit that lives wild and free in the imaginations of children. I've been doing my best to slow the celebrations down this year...every year I try to do so even more than the last. Oh my, this is a topic I could talk endlessly on! Today, I want to share the story of our forest bounty.
The locals tell us that this year was not a good year for mushrooms. Still, that hasn't stopped us from feeling as rich as kings when we leave the forest with a handful of delicious chanterelles. Earlier last month, one of our neighbours on the land was generous enough to share a couple of his mushroom picking spots deep in the woods. With Coco on Sean's back and Scout by our side, we followed him into the forest and through fields of ferns. There we picked a precious few of these orange delights, but it was enough for Sean to catch the foraging fever.
Since then, chanterelles have graced more than one Thai curry and a hearty beef bourguignon. In also searching for the elusive pine mushroom, Sean has returned home with more and more of these earthly gems. Growing up, we had shaggy manes on our land and we would fry them up with butter and salt, and cooking chanterelles reminds me so much of this. The experience of mushroom picking, we laughed, is as close to hunting for our food as we will ever come. You can't help but step lightly through the stillness of the forest, and there is gratitude, too, for the ability to gather one's food in the wild- the ancient task of hunting and gathering.
Sean and I don't really exchange presents at Christmastime, but if we see something that rings true for the other person we will. This book will be under the tree this year for my forest foraging husband. I'm already looking forward to the future feasts gathered fresh from the bounty of the wilds around us.
With a lot of my mind this fall, I've noticed it has taken a little longer than usual for the spirit of the season to settle in. But, with a wondrous 3 year old at my side, the magic can't help but capture us all. I'm reminded of the true essence of this season and the beauty of the coming of winter- mornings glistening with the work of Jack Frost; our winter and Christmas books back in rotation and early morning reading by the fire; the start of the season's gatherings and hearty feasts around the table; watching winter settle on our land (I daresay it's even more beautiful by winter light). Yuletide magic has settled like fairy dust over this house. Coco is captivated by all of it and she is full of wonder and questions. I explain just enough, but not too much, with the hope that she may imagine up her own magic of the Christmas season; magic that will live well beyond her childhood years.
After my most recent week of Waldorf teacher training earlier last month, I've become enchanted by the notion of gnomes mining in crystal lined caves and caverns deep in the underground. Perhaps it's because I poured over this book as a child, but whatever the reason I am smitten by those little gnomes and how they make this first week of Advent rich in mystic and magic. Last year, we truly made Advent our own and I feel blessed that we are able to again bring such reverence for the season into our home. This week of stones, shells, bones and crystals is perhaps my favourite week of Advent festivities. The love of minerals seems to run in our family and this year geodes have a place in our Advent bowl. I can't get over their beauty; true treasures of the natural world! Also new to our collection is a beautiful crystal given as an Advent gift to Coco by her grandmother. It's amber hue seems to glow warmth in the wooden bowl.
We often find ourselves in a period of waiting, don't we? We wait for things to happen in our lives, we wait for certain milestones and landmarks in our everyday. But, we don't often celebrate the journey of waiting, and for this I am grateful for Advent. With Advent, we settle into a quiet rhythm of wait and patience, and we celebrate this with each day that passes and with each candle lit.
With clang and clash in caverns cold,
We gather glittering gleaming gold.
With ding and dong in the dark and deep,
We search where silver secrets keep.
With a hey and a ho in a hundred homes,
We mine the earth's magic stones.
Fable is now updated in the spirit of the holidays to come! Woolen pine cones in dark, woodsy brown, snow white, ruby red, tan, and evergreen are ready to adorn your nature table or festive home, as well as magical woodland feather crowns for your little sprites and gnomes!
Join me over at here to take a look!