Monday, March 29, 2010

felted wool Easter eggs

For the last few years, the kids and I have been making felted wool eggs and chicks to give for gifts at Easter time. As a gift to anyone who has wondered how to make these little sugar-free Eastery-goodness, I've decided to do a bit of a tutorial on them. (I say 'bit of a tutorial' as I am sure that after I have written it out, I will realize that there is some bit of information lacking....If not or if you have questions, please don't hestitate to leave a comment mentioning what I have left out. I'll try to fill in any blanks!)

****Although they are relatively easy to make, kids do need help and supervision as you will be dealing with HOT water for the wet felting of the eggs and sharp needles when we get to the creation of chicks/ducklings****


  • 30 cm (12") Wool roving (in the desired colour for your egg shell)

  • Plastic egg (We use refillable 8cm tall plastic ones from the dollar store taped closed)

  • Hot water (large bowl or sink full)

  • Cold Water (large bowl or sink full)

  • Dish Soap

  • Rubber Gloves (These are to allow you to handle the hot water more easily without burning yourself)

  • Xacto knife or rotary cutter
  • Fill one sink/bowl with very hot water and one with cold water.

  • Put on rubber gloves.

  • Wrap the wool roving around the plastic egg.

  • Holding the wool wrapped egg firmly to prevent the wool from slipping off, generously squirt dish soap onto the wool/egg.

  • Gently dip the wool covered egg in the hot water to dampen it and bring it back out of the water.

  • Start squeezing the water/soap into the wool. Turn the egg as you go, but be careful to not 'slide' the wool around on the egg or allow it to fall off.

  • Dip the egg in the hot water occasionally to keep it hot enough to shrink while you squeeze.

  • The wool should start to tight-up and hold it's place on the egg. As it does, you can add some more soap to make it 'slippy'.

  • As long as the wool has begun to hold its' shape, you can start rubbing the egg gently (rather than squeezing) in small circular motions.

  • Alternate between the hot and cold water as you rub to add in the constriction of the wool.

  • When the wool is suitable hard and tight against the egg, rinse out as much soap as you can by dipping in fresh water.

  • When rinsed, squeeze out the excess water and let it dry. (You can also use a towel to blot out water to aid in the drying.)

  • After a few hours, use the Xacto knife or rotary cutter to carefully cut a zig-zag line in the side of the egg. Only cut this line 2/3 around the egg as the intact portion will act as a 'hinge'.
    Yahoo!!!!! A wool egg!!!! I'll do the chick/duckling in another post.....
  • Sunday, March 28, 2010

    fantabulous phrases

    Unfortunately, there are times that my children's words and questions could drive me to force my pale blue 'mommy-van' off the road and over some fabulously steep cliff. As I am forced to listen to the halting and wordy speech of my children, I occasionally fantasize about raising my arms above my head, grabbing fistfuls of my PTA-mom 'do and tearing it out while singing the theme song to the "Smurfs" at the top of my lungs in an opera singer's voice. When having to hear the full and extended play-by-play of some seemingly small encounter of my daughter's replete with a variety of sighs, huge pauses and extremely intricate detail, I dissect my day, make plans and could quite possibly invent a cure for the common wart.

    Although most often, I adore the conversations we have and find them endlessly thought provoking and entertaining, there are times that it is too much. Too much noise. Too much thought. Too many questions.

    I need to remind myself that all too soon my sweet, loquacious little ones who are so full of wonder and amazement with the world around them will be transformed into sullen and all-knowing teenagers who quite possibly despise my very existence. They'll angrily stare out the window of my horribly uncool 'van of mininess' and attempt to devise a believeable story with which to convince their uber-hip friends that they were hatched from an egg and were, in fact, no relation of mine. Brooding over their wrathful amazement that a creature of such extreme coolness such as themselves could have been created within the walls of my loser-ish uterus, they will cease to converse with me.

    So, in an attempt to remind myself of the need to enjoy the voices of my spawn, I have created a list. A list of all my favourite and loved phrases and questions that my children utter on a regular basis. When my little ones are older and hyper aware of my shortcoming as a parent/woman/human, I will refer to this list and think with fondness of the tales they once told me, the questions they asked me (when I still knew a thing or two) and the love they expressed.

    • "You're the BEST mama ever." I am aware that this is a lie, but it still feels DAMN good to hear.....

    • "I love you, Mama/Olivia/Briar." It goes without saying that I have a fondness for hearing that my children hold me in high regard. But I adore hearing my kids express their love of one another....I am hoping that this love will continue throughout their lives and that I will never watch helplessly as Liv chases Briar down the street wielding a paring knife...

    • "Can I go outside and play?" Anytime my children express a desire to be out of doors, I feel the need to do a jaunty little jig. In my mind, kids belong outside - getting mucky, playing with sticks, throwing rocks (when I'm not looking), carting around poultry, riding bikes, doing cartwheels, creating forts and fairy houses, etc.

    • "Why do _____ ?" When questioned by my kiddos about some scientific phenomenon, math equation, reading rule, etc., I am filled with joy for their desire to learn and be inquisitive. As they grow, not only do they learn and mature, so do I. It is a symbiotic relationship. Things I would have never questioned or conceived are examined and dissected. Their joy in the thrill of life around is contagious and I adore watching as they are filled with this zest for knowledge and understanding.

    • "Did you know that ____?" Like the phrase above, I enjoy hearing what the kids have learned or experienced when they are without me. I feel joy in knowing that they trust me to listen passively and fully to their observations. To find interest in their experiences. To join in their curiousity.

    • "No cake/candy/pop for me, please." Ahhhhh. I feel success in hearing my children know their limits and ability to listen to their body's signals. I am often unable to do this myself (I am known for eating an entire bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in an evening), so it is especially amazing to see my children decipher their own feelings of wellness and health.

    • "Can we have a family day today?" Yay!!!! For now, they still want to be in my presence!!!! I'll soak it up for now and hope for the best in the future....Maybe my coolness quotient will grow or they will be nerds themselves and will find all things 'dork' to be comforting and fabulous? A mother can dream, right????

    I'll attempt to hold off on the self-induced alopecia, the operatic theme song singing and the cliff diving for now and enjoy all the longggggg and little things they have to tell me. For I may have many years to ruminate in silence in the future.....
    P.S. Much of what I have written here is tongue-in-cheek....;)

    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    here chick chick

    We've started another batch of incubated eggs. One dozen. From previous experience I've realized that a dozen eggs could potentially make twelve chicks, but it is DECIDEDLY unlikely.
    In the past, our incubator has only produced a very small flock of birds that have lived beyond their first breaths and an even smaller percentage that have remained with us here on the "Chandler Chicken Farm". Many began to 'cock-a-doodle' rather than 'cluck'. (In fact, out of 13 chicks that we have either hatched out or bought as day-olds, 9 have been roosters!!!!! My math isn't great but that does not seem to be 50/50....) The poor little chicks/ducklings that have not made it after their daylong struggle to free themselves from the confines of their little eggs, have suffered between the overly eager jaws of Fuckles Freckles in a scene that is what I would imagine could be witnessed in a poultry horror movie.
    This time, we're hoping to hatch out some Barred Plymouth Rock Bantams like our dearly departed Sarah.
    My obsession with all things poultry and my absolute inability to maintain any amount of willpower make it close to impossible to stop myself from candling the eggs even now - five days after the eggs have been placed into the 'bator. The kids and I become obsessed with catching glimpses of our little chicks through the egg with a bright light, but each time the eggs are removed from the incubator, it lessens the likelihood of a great hatch.
    So today, Liv and I found a fabulous site that gives us a look into what should be going on in our little eggs. Right now, our babies look like this:
    And even though only five days have gone by, the chicks have been hard at work growing a nervous system, a tongue, sex organs, etc. In only sixteen days, we will HOPEFULLY have a few little fluff balls to check out and marvel at the amazing work that Mother Nature is capable of doing! Follow along! We'll let you know if Fuckles another avian massacre....

    Friday, March 26, 2010

    Jeff, his Boy and his Bean

    deux ans

    Also posted on Widow's Voice

    Deux ans. Two anniversaries of the day I lost my huge, hairy and hilarious husband.
    I've learned so very much in these two short years. A lifetime of lessons. Lessons I didn't really want to know.
    I now know that although I did not think in those first few hours, days and months, that I would survive, I did. I breathed each breath with a sob. I grudgingly ate each meal. Each movement was filled with melancholy and loss. So the first 11 months, I call 'survival'.
    The first anniversary of Jeff's death was painful, exhausting and anticlimatic. I had hoped that once I had conquered this date that things would be easier. But although I had lost the hollow and vacant stare and I could remember to feed myself, I could not for the life of me figure out how I was going to live again. But I shuffled forward. The first year was about 'coping'.
    Now, as I enter my second year alone, I realize that although life continues to be different and harder than it was before Jeff's body ceased to exist, it is easier than the first anniversary. The mourning is less new and raw. I am stronger, more capable and so able to laugh.
    So although this new year may be only about 'hoping', it is a big step. A colossal step towards the time when I can start 'living' again.

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    this day

    Two years ago, this day was a Tuesday.

    For the morning, I was married.

    Well before noon, my kids had two parents.

    But by 10:30 am, life as we knew it was shattered. Broken and irrepairable.

    I will never know again life as it was before this day two years ago...And I will forever be scarred and lost without the love of my life.

    I miss you, my Baby Pumpkin. I miss you. No words seem sufficient in describing the void that has been left since you've gone. So, I miss you and hope that somewhere out there, you know....and you miss me right back.

    I love you the whole pie for eternity.....

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    tiny bubbles of bliss

    The warm sun shining on the kitchen floor. A radiant rainbow glowing on the wall. The first ladybug I've seen this Spring. The chickens industriously scratching in the garden alongside me. Glorious fresh air in the kids hair. Listening to them giggle as they play in the mud in barefeet.

    There are times that these things mean nothing. Times that I could pass these moments without notice. Without a glance or a grin.
    But today, I felt joy. Luxurious and silly bubbles of happiness as I pondered the rainbow in the hall, walked away and returned with my camera to document this moment of bliss.

    This week is not one that I will enjoy for the rest of my life. First Jeff's birthday, then the day he died only nine days after. But, strangely, and almost guiltily, I felt happiness today. It surged through me and brought peace. I felt quiet. I felt full.

    So this week, as the loss of my love is felt so strongly, I may have to pull out the pictures of these pockets of pleasure and be reminded that there is still joy, wonder and love....It's just not always where I expect it to be.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    signs of Spring

    Since Liv attended preschool at the age of three with our beloved Marylou, she is always on the hunt for "Signs of Spring". She has given many a child grief for destroying or harming a perceived 'sign'. Consequently, I too am always on the look-out for things that are Spring-like to show my little Bean. I can't wait to show her this tomorrow morning!!

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    which way did he go?

    Also posted on Widow's Voice

    Jeff's birthday was on the 16th. The kids and I performed our birthday tradition of making him a blueberry pie. As per Liv and Briar's directions, we lit a candle and stood on the back deck waiting for him (aka the wind) to blow it out. After a few minutes, the kids 'helped' him and blew it out themselves.
    It broke my heart to watch them standing there expectantly cheering him on. "Come on, Daddy! You can do it! Blow it out!"
    It's moments like this that I so wish that there was a manual to which I could refer. I don't know if I should just follow their lead with their beliefs surrounding death or if I should guide them to some more socially acceptable (and adult) way of dealing with their daddy's loss.
    They find comfort in their beliefs. They seem to 'know' what happened to him....moreso than I do. It is with such conviction that Liv believes he is always with us. Always here to share our joy, our pain, our experiences. With staunch stubbornness, Briar declares that Jeff found some joke hilarious or some movement amazing. He tells us amazing tales of the adventures that Jeff has now been on, where his boat has sailed and who worked as crew aboard.
    I have become accustomed to their stories of the life that Jeff is now leading without his physical body. I, too, find some amount of comfort in hearing that he is still 'out there'.
    But to others less versed in "Death according to Two Small Children", I wonder if they find these declarations shocking or, even, blasphemous.
    Until I find the answers to my own questions or until I know which way to guide them, I don't think I'm in the position to be able to 'tell' anyone where we go after our bodies cease to function. So, the three of us will just follow where this journey leads us....and in the end, we'll know who was 'right'....

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010


    I've added a few dresses to my shop! I have some more on the sewing table ready to be put together. I am LOVING the bright colours and patterns of some of the fabrics I've found hidden in my stash...I'm trying to prevent myself from buying anymore fabric until I've used up a sizeable portion of my fabric horde.
    Next up, will be some short-sleeved Spring dresses....

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    life in the snowglobe

    Do you ever feel that you and your family are little statuettes frozen in some preposterously joyous pose in a liquid filled orb? You look gleeful and happy with snow resting at your feet....Then some ass comes along and shakes the bloody thing up for the thrill it gives them of seeing you obliterated by pseudo-snow....

    Then, just as calm is restored and happiness begins to infuse itself into the world again, that inconsiderate ass-face does it again!

    I am sure that many people feel this way. That life is not all sunshine and rainbows. Jujubes and jellybeans. It's chaotic and crazy and filled with fake white stuff.

    But I think I live my life waiting for a lull. A calm to infuse itself into my everyday. A relaxation that marks the beginning of my 'life'.

    But until the shaker of the snowglobe gets better cable tv or finds itself with a new hobby, I must inevitably come to terms with the fact that imitation blizzards are a part of everyone's life....even the households that look as if Spring and Summer follow their every move and that their snowglobe has been hidden in a box in the back of a closet.

    *Thank you, Hayley, for the metaphor!!!! xox

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    scented squishiness!

    Over the years of our homeschooling adventure, we've bought our toys, educational items and craft supplies from a variety of sources. One of our absolute favourites has been Natural Pod. The kids and I LOVE this online store!

    Recently, Bridgitte from Natural Pod gave us a complimentary set of their newest product - Mama K's Play Clay, to try out. This natural and even gluten-free dough is filled with the scent of AMAZING essential oils:
    lavender - to soothe
    bergamot - for tension
    sweet orange - to uplift
    geranium - to balance
    lemongrass - to inspire

    Liv favourite was the lavender. I adored the lemongrass (if truth be told, I would have loved to create two little nostril shaped balls to hold in my nose all day long....Odd, yes, but it smells divine!!....Although the green colour may have not been very attractive for nasal embellishment!) When asked which was Briar's favourite, he declared that each one in turn was his chosen....They are just all so good!
    Anyhow, we spent a good portion of the afternoon creating....First, boats with toothpick masts, a variety of food shapes and then for the piece de resistance, we created a rainbow-hued family of slugs (of which the 'directions' Liv is hoping to post on her blog - Stay tuned!)
    I loved how soft the dough stayed all afternoon. My hands felt smooth, moisturized and smell STELLAR after we had retired our new favourite molding material.
    Thanks so much, Bridgitte and Natural Pod, for the afternoon of heavenly scented, gastropod shaped fun!!!!

    Friday, March 05, 2010

    the little things

    Also posted on Widow's Voice

    It's the 'little things' can that drive you mad or madly in love.
    The way his jaw clicks when he chews. Or the way he tucks your hair behind you ear as he assures you that it will be okay.
    The way he feels compelled to tell you how to solve a problem when you're venting. Or the way he stares at you from across the room with a smile touching his lips and you know without words that he loves you.
    It's those little things that hold you together - a pair. The little secrets. The little stories. The little comforts.
    When your love is gone, dead but certainly not forgotten, those 'little things' sometimes remain.
    Today, I found one of those little things....tucked into one of my books. One of the hidden messages that we'd hide for each other to be found at some unknown later date.
    And it reminds me that it's the little things that can soothe a soul. Mend a heart. Dry a tear.
    So today, I'll do some little thing. And maybe it'll make a someone some time.

    Wednesday, March 03, 2010

    you were mine

    You were mine.
    I am yours.

    Until this body,
    marked by the love you laid upon it,
    In every fold,
    The softened belly,
    Stretched skin,
    and in this frailty
    Falls and follows you.

    Only then,
    no longer will I be...yours.
    It will be past.
    But with you,
    In you,
    Through you,
    I’ll be.

    I’ll wait.
    A shadow.
    Your shadow.
    I’ll trail behind you.
    A dark ribbon.

    But you were mine.
    And I am yours.

    Tuesday, March 02, 2010

    computer woes and wonders

    I strongly dislike (I'd say HATE but I am trying to get out of the habit...) Webkinz, Disney Fairies and all things computer that seem to zap child's wonderful imaginations all in the name of profit. I do think that Webkinz are marketing genius and that the makers must be millionaires. I think I would be less offended if they would just sell the bloody little code that goes along with the petroleum laden stuffie instead of attaching it to this dust collecting, mess inducing, piece of 'stuff'.

    Anyhow, I prefer my children to hand THEIR dog some kibble than to feed some strangely awkard moving virtual dog that pants more than it should. I would rather that they create a little wee folk fairy out of pipe cleaners and wool felt than moving these disturbingly posed fairies through some cyber forest. I'd rather they create a wonderful and imaginative story of their own than follow along with some prescribed plot-line made by some balding adult in a suit driving a Beemer while trying to decide how best to hook little girls to their product.

    But sometimes, my kids like to create and use their own imaginations and sense of wonder on this machine that I use far too often. Without this chunk of plastic, electronic devices and software, they would be unable to know all the wonders of space travel, worm reproduction and taste buds so quickly and easily...before the interest has waned. They would end up taking up space standing in the line at the bank far more often than they do. We wouldn't know of the most recent tour of the museum and the exhibit that is offered.

    So although I will continue to despise the time Liv spends consorting with a middle-aged marketing man's version of what fairies look like, or moving the cyber replica of the stuffie that seems overly prone to hold onto the scent of last night's dinner, I will take the good with the bad and enjoy the adventures we embark upon while 'surfing' the net. I will giggle at the creations she 'draws' on Paint and read the stories she creates on Word with wonder. The good with the bad. The woes with the wonder.