Sunday, October 31, 2010


The whole fang damily enjoying the afternoon!
Keith and Matilda were Gnomes and Ruby was our distant cousin the Russian Gypsy!
(and yes, I'm the giant, somewhat perplexed looking Toadstool)!

Matilda..the little gnome.

Mama Toadstool and little gnome!

A handful of the kids at the afternoons Family dance!

Some more of the kids!

One of our friends generously rented the local Lions Hall so that we could have a Family Dance this afternoon!  Another friend offered to be the DJ, and the afternoon was spent dancing away to "Thriller", "The Time Warp" and "YMCA".

Now, all my Trick or Treaters are safe and sound at home...Papa Gnome and I are going to enjoy a quiet night eating the kids candy, (come do it too), and watching Nightmare on Elm Street!

Hope you had a wonderful Halloween night!
xo maureen

Saturday, October 30, 2010

In the spirit of play...

 My costume inspired by the majestic birch tree  ~ made from birch bark, moss, twigs and leaves.

 Wishing you all a wickedly wonderful Halloween ~ Samhain ~ all souls ~ all saints weekend! 

~ Shanti ~

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Twiggy Tealight Holder

With a chill settling in the air and our wood stove roaring once again, I was inspired to create some indoor woodland warmth.

To create these twiggy candle holders you will need

sticks ~ cut even lengths
moss ~ dried
glue gun
a glass tealight holder or an old glass

First take one of your cut sticks and glue it onto to your glass... continue to glue your sticks side by side until your glass is surrounded.  
Next cut your moss into a strip (as thin or wide as you desire) and glue on.

One more way to bring natures beauty into the home before a blanket of snow covers the ground (thinking of all you down under folks and wishing I could transport myself into your warmth during this coming winter ;)!

Light it up and let it glow!

Oh, the magic of candle light...

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us".
 Albert Schweitzer 

Love and Light
~ Shanti ~

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The end of the season...

Matilda is enjoying some time with "Blackie" one of our 2 lambs...

The farming year is coming to an end here at the Toadstool.  This past week I've been reflecting on my experience as a small scale farmer.  We live on 1/2 an acre out's really not alot by country standards, but I'm proud of what we get out of it year after year.  We have 15 laying hens year round, who live in an old shed on our property, (they keep us in eggs year round...and also a few of our friends and neighbours).  We also have meat birds in the summer, lambs, 2 large vegetable gardens, a raspberry patch, and an aspiring apple orchard, (which we just planted last year). 

Yesterday truly marked the end of the season for was the day that we killed our lambs.
We only have 2 lambs at a time, as the pasture we have is about 1/4 acre, and it's shared with the laying hens.  It's quite a spectacle to see the hens and lambs together.  This year we shared one of the lambs with some friends who live up the road...and we decided to slaughter them together.    With the help of a kind neighbour who has done this before, both our lambs were killed humanely in the field where they lived.  While there is always a sort of sadness when it comes to killing animals for meat, it was wonderful to look up the hill and see the men at work doing this job, this is a task that has been done for thousands of years.  My heart felt full by the sense of we were, helping each other with our most basic need...the need for nourishment.  It was wonderful at the end of the day to have our own homegrown lamb that will feed us through the winter.  Our neighbour who came to help took away all the lamb blood to make blood sausage...the other parts that we won't eat will go to feed our friends dogs, (she has a team of sled dogs).  The skins will be made into rugs for the dog sled in the winter...nothing went to waste.

Another neighbour, (country neighbour 10 min away), gave us apples.  In exchange for these I made his family an assortment of the preserves that I made with the apples.  Some applesauce, apple butter, chutney and fruit ketchup. 

Enjoying a meal together post lamb killing.

There is real kinship when we help each other produce food.   I think as gardeners, and "farmers" we can get so caught up in our own little bubbles, but truly when we reach out and help our neighbours and friends be a part of the process...well that's real community.   I'm hopeful that next year will bring about a bee exchange of sorts with some other friends, (we have to work out the details), and I'd love to find someone to share the garden with...I'm certainly no where near maximum garden potential!  I need look no further than my pantry and freezer to see the success of this past year.   Food is something I feel passionate about...I love being a part of the process of growing food, and love it even more when the greater community is involved in some way.  I know not everyone is able to do this...but, it's like the books say...I think even growing something simple...herbs or tomatoes.  There is something about growing food that just makes your heart swell with pride.  I wondered about posting my farm experience on this, (our sort of craft blog), but then I think, farming really is the ultimate creative project.'s to the end of a great season!

xo maureen

Monday, October 25, 2010

Acorn Birch Bark Napkin Rings

Meal time as a family is one of my favorite times of day. Growing up I loved when our big clan (10 of us) would gather for nourishment, laughter, banter and connecting after our busy days. Now with my own kids, I value the importance of making meal time together a priority. Luna loves the ritual of setting a beautiful table and on special occasions getting out the placemats and napkin rings to adorn the table. 
Here are some nature inspired napkin rings you can create for your autumn table.

To make these you will need
birch bark
napkin rings 
glue gun

Cut your birch in strips (measured carefully)  to cover each napkin ring. Glue on. Add you acorn embellishment.
Delightfully simple! 

Thinking these these would be great on a thanksgiving table...

or as a gift!

A easy addition to these napkin rings is to embroider a napkins to go with  them.  Embroidered napkins are a fun way for kids to personalize their own mealtime napkin or to give as a gift.

Solana did this one for her Grandpa David

Luna did this one for her Grandma Posie. 
They were so proud to give them to them.

These acorn napkin rings were part of a wedding gift for some dear friends. Here is a photo I wanted to share of this beautiful bride on her wedding day. Look at that fabulous rock and roll wedding dress!!  Love it!

Happy Autumn days to you all
~ Shanti ~ 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Through A Child's Eyes"... A Woodland Fairy House

 When my co-blogger Maureen approached me to begin a blog with her, I hesitantly agreed...which later lead  to a regretful panic...thinking I not sure I am up for this...
Unsure of my ability to offer"craftiness"and feeling quite private about my life, the whole blog thing had me a bit freaked out. Maureen coaxed me to just share small, simple snippets from my life and to let it evolve as we went. So  I joined on and allowed the fear of putting myself out there slowly subside.  One of  the gifts of agreeing to do this blog has been discovering my love of crafting with nature... feeding my joy and bringing me back myself.

So, this year when our local art gallery hosted its annual found art competition, I decided to challenge myself...throw off that fear of can I really do this and create a piece to offer. 
Here is my  piece "Through a child's eyes". A tribute to finding and feeding our creative spirits and recognizing that when we allow ourselves to play in creating, a whole new world opens up...

The fairy house ~ made from an ant eaten piece of a dead tree, rocks, moss, birch bark and other woodland treasures.

 meal time spot at the top..


A space to chill.

Cozy mossy beds and a flower pressed carpet.

 The babes cradle.

Fires burning...

 a cup of tea and a birch bark book awaiting in the reading nook...

A bath to soak in.

Happy these woodland fairies now have a home.

 Heres to igniting that spark of creative play and allowing it to feed our joy!

~ Shanti ~

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Morning Mantras...

"Please God get me through this morning...please God get me through this morning..."

This was taken this between the tantrums!

I'm sure we can all agree...these morning are universal.  Not all the time, some mornings I can't believe how smoothly it all goes...everyone is happy, fed, clean, and I manage to get out of my pyjamas before lunchtime.  This morning however everyone woke up too early, and on the wrong side of the bed to boot!  I thought after a bottle full of yummy rice milk, (for the babe) AND the episode of Yo Gabba Gabba the kids would be happy.  Oh...I was SO wrong.
So...I started on my mantra...I thought about all the other moms who are feeling this way on this morning.  There is comfort in that fact that we're not alone as mothers...even though we are all in our separate houses in different parts of the world, these mornings ARE universal and we are united in the insanity, chaos, happiness and wonder that is mothering.  Today give yourself a pat on the back...we all got through the morning together! 

xo maureen

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Batty Pencil Toppers

I was on the hunt for something to pass out at our local healthy halloween party. I wanted to steer clear of candy and give out something that the kids would still enjoy. 
After a  recent home school trip to the Bonnechere caves, where we got to see many real bats (a little freaky I must say!), we found our inspiration to make these batty creations to share! 

To make them you will need
black felt
red beads
glue gun 

Print out your bat template. Layer two sheets of felt. Pin your bat onto the layers of felt and cut out.

Separate your felt bats

Glue all around the edges, leaving a hole where the pencil will slide in. Line up the other bat on top and press down.

Put glue on your pencil end  and slide it in the hole

Glue on your red beads for eyes and your batty creations are complete!

These have yet to be used as pencils and instead swoop and fly around our house in spooky splendor. Not sure if these will ever get sharpened ~ flying them around seems to be where the fun is at!

"Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you're at.
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea tray in the sky!
Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you're at." 
The Mad Hatter (Lewis Carroll)

~ Shanti ~

Monday, October 18, 2010

Felt Food Class!

This past weekend my good friend Stephanie and I taught our first craft class together.  We're doing a "Homemade Holiday Craft Series" at our local art gallery.  The idea is for moms to get together to make beautiful things for their children for Christmas.  Our first session was a felt fruit and veggie basket.  We had 9 beautiful mamas show up and it was a fabulously productive afternoon of sewing and coming together in a spirit of creativity and craftiness!

Here are some of the mamas busy at work!

Here's some individual pictures of what we made, and some links to help get you started! 
Firstly mamas, I urge you to get 100% wool felt to do these crafts...if you've never had the JOY of working with Wool felt I'll tell you...once you start, you'll never go back to cheapy acrylic again.  The other thing is that the only thing in our baskets that was machine stitched is the banana.  Everything else was lovingly stitched by hand.  I think there is something just so beautiful about hand stitching.

For the pears I printed off the template from UK lass in US.  For our pears I had some lovely leather stems that we used at the top from Stockade.   To sew all of our fruit and veggies we use the blanket stitch.  It's an essential stitch to learn, and really does finish off your fruit and veggies nicely!

This same gal has an  apple on her site.  I did two things with this template...when used at regular size it makes a great apple, but when made smaller, the wedges make a fantastic little tomato.  It takes 4 large wedges to do an apple and 6 smaller ones to do a tomato. 

I found this super cool pattern for a banana in a peel from here.  My only word of advice with the pattern is that when I was cutting out the parts for the inner banana I made the template a bit smaller.  Isn't it just awesome though!

Strawberries!  This is a wonderful strawberry pattern...they're so darn sweet.

Orange section...I do mine a bit different, (go up to see the picture)...cutting out a piece of yellow felt for the circle and smaller wedge shapes. 

Here's a tutorial for some carrots.  The ones we made are similar, but I made longer tops for ours.  To sew the tops on first I use a gathering stitch to gather up the top of the carrot, then roll up the "leaves" and blanket stitch them on!

The mushrooms are tweaked from our toadstool tutorial...brought down in size and only stuffed with stuffing.  If you want to get fancy, you can do some lovely embroidery on the underside, to make it look mushroomy!

And finally some sweet little felt peas.  When I saw them I just knew we'd HAVE to have some in our baskets!

I smile when I think of all of the lucky kids in our area who will be receiving such wonderful gifts crafted with LOVE!

If you're in our area and are interested in attending on of our classes you can check them out HERE.  We only have a few spaces left per class, so sign up soon!

Sewing sweet felt food is highly addictive...once you start, it's so hard to stop!  Do a google search for "felt food tutorials", and you'll see that there are all sorts of possibilities beyond the fruit and veggie basket!

Happy holiday creating!
xo maureen



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