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Honour the Child

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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Friday, 30 September 2011
Today I took a moment to browse through my Etsy favourites... 
and thought I would share some of them with you!
 1. Make Your Bed,by Raw Art LetterPress.
2. Hedgehog, Lulu Bug Jewelry.
3. 3 pink + 2 red flowers, by Heaven's Earth.
4. Celadon Green Lace Serving Set, by Marci G.
5. Caroline Angel Folk Art Doll, by Cart Before the Horse.
6. Live in the Sunshine , by The Wheat Field.
7. Colorful houses, by Syko.
With the holiday season approaching, I thought I would share some tips and information to help you shop for playsilks~ whether you are new to playsilks, or a veteran, I hope you will find the information in this series helpful and informative.

For starters....

Playsilks make a wonderful gift for every child.
Suitable from infancy, even ‘big kids’ get a kick out of the possibilities a playsilk offers for play and dressup.
What makes silk such a wonderful gift?
  • Natural, renewable, breathable, beautiful fabric
  • Open ended, allowing the child to direct the play
  • Texture and colour, functional art for play and decor
  • Multi-age~ children of various ages can play together
  • Durable, washable, stands up to years of play
  • Simple~ no batteries, noises or hard parts... just fun!
Grownups will often look askance at playsilks, unsure that their child would play with them, or how they would play with them.
The good news is that kids know how to play imaginatively and creatively when given the space and simple tools~ they don’t need grownup direction (although we grownups can learn a thing or two from the kids!).

It is not unusual to get a note from a shocked parent.
One mom said “All three of my Star Wars, video-gaming addicted boys LOVE their playsilks”.
It’s true, boys love them, too.

With all of that said, let's consider one aspect of choosing a great playsilk for your kids:

Is it Silk? 
That sounds silly, but a search on Etsy for ‘playsilk’ will turn up a variety of fabrics.

One of the primary joys of silk is its natural beauty and renewability, along with its unique durability (silk is the world's strongest fiber).
Polyester cloths do not hold the same virtues, being made from synthetic materials.

When browsing through playsilks, read the item description carefully, looking for 100% silk~ if the price seems too good to be true, it might be a synthetic material.
Chiffon can be especially misleading, as there is silk chiffon and polyester chiffon available.
If you are uncertain, ask, so that you know what you are getting: poly fabrics are fun, too, just don't be mislead as to the nature of the item you are purchasing!

Most playsilk makers use Habotai or ‘China’ silk.
This is the soft, silky, lightweight fabric we usually associate with silk.
Another hint that you are getting quality silk is that the edges will be hand rolled, which is a very old and specific art in China and other Asian countires where silk is produced.

Next time... what does 'mm' mean? and no, it is not millimeters when referring to silk (or pearls)!♥♥

Part Two: Quality
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Last week, we celebrated the autumnal equinox.

Rowan (just turned 6) and our friend Naomi (25) decided to host a party for their parents.
Only, Naomi's parents couldn't make it.  
Boy, did they miss out!

You see, Naomi's mother and I went to theological college together.
Donna was (is) my wiser, older friend.
Her daughter, Naomi, is all grown up and found work as a funeral director in the small town where my family now lives.
And I get to be her older, wiser (?!) friend.
The circle of life, and all that.

So our 'girls' hang out sometimes.
And bless her, Naomi is still in that super-fun to be around age group for young kids... she doesn't put limits on their creative urges (like lettuce in a hot pasta salad, but we'll get to that) like a mom might do....

Anyway, a 'welcome fall' party was planned.
Naomi let Rowan choose the menu and be a little Chef Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen.
The table was set with a combination of stoneware, every day dishes and Ikea plastic cutlery.
A donkey was the centerpiece.
Very autumnal, indeed.

It went like this:
First Course (also known as 'the besides part')
Noodle Salad (Ditali pasta, served warm with cooked broccoli, fresh romaine lettuce and seasoned with lots of lemon juice, salt and an abundance of pepper)
{{ Rowan was very proud of this 'salad'.  We grinned and grimly ate our generous helpings (served by Ro). Hot wilted lettuce and sticky pasta. And you know how broccoli soaks up sauces and flavours? Like biting into a peppery cruciferous lemon. *shiver*}}

Second Course
Pepperettes and Marble Cheese, chunked
{{Note the festive donkey centerpiece.  And the cheese. Clearly torn apart by little (bare) hands.}}

The Orange Course
One mangled orange, or possibly a tangerine or a clementine?

Served lukewarm, half a pizza per plate
{{ Not bad! A+ for lots of veggies! Perhaps it could have been served when this course arrived, rather than placed on our plates with constant threats to life and limb should we touch the pizza before the other courses were complete.}}

Warm, iced butter pecan cake topped with the consequences of installing a 'sprinkles rack'
{{We were told there was a fall tree on the cake. Under the sprinkles. We took their word for it.}}

All in all, it was a joyous celebration of the new season, and far better for this mom having stayed out of it completely!
Rowan was thrilled with the success of her meal and is excitedly planning her next dinner party.
And we count Naomi and her sense of fun (and patience) as one of the great gifts in our lives!
Every kid needs a Naomi. ♥♥
Yard sales are hard.
And I don't mean the sorting and the cleaning and the pricing.
I mean hard on the heart!

We recently decided to end our adoption process in order to focus more fully on our daughter's needs as a child with inattentive type ADHD.   
That was a hard enough decision.

Along with it came the reality that the high chair and baby gates, baby clothes and toddler books were no longer potentially needed.  That the 6 years worth of clothing and shoes and toys no longer had a future in our home.
And that was the killer.

Driven by the knowledge that keeping our home as simple and organized as possible would be of benefit to our daughter, it was time to clean it out. And with that, some of the hopes and visions for how our family would be and a few more steps towards accepting the blessings we now enjoy.

I wouldn't consider myself overly attached to 'stuff', so I wasn't prepared for the emotional experience of sifting through 6 years of memories in boxes.

The feel of the soft cotton on an infant onesie and the coolness of those snaps I could do up blind and bleary with sleep in the middle of the night.
The scents that lingered in the folds of a receiving blanket that had sat cheerfully on a shelf throughout pregnancy, preparing us for the little one to come.
The mobile whose song immediately returned me to the nursery and my cheerful baby playing with her feet as it sang and I grabbed a hurried shower.
The hat Rowan wore on our first outing or the 'Sextapus' ~a six-legged octopus she was given on her first Christmas.
Even the stained bibs, their stains developing over the years in storage, ruefully reminding me of long nights battling reflux.

The moose stays!
I set aside a few favourites from each stage to keep and pushed myself through the process of pricing the precious things I had to let go. And when I found myself getting teary eyed over the swing that Rowan barely used because it made her motion sick as an infant, I had to dig a little deeper into what this was really all about.

I realized that it was the not things themselves that we cherish, but that they are symbols~ items that point beyond themselves to something larger, more meaningful~ of what we have loved and where we have lived.

As long as we hold them in boxes, like external memory drives, they are with us~ we can open the box, see the symbol and remember. And remembering, at its roots is re-membering~ putting the pieces back together to make the memory present in this moment.

That is why reading 'Cow Moo Me' and finding that I still know it by heart ("cow moo you") is such a visceral emotional experience. And why it is so hard to part with these symbols, these things which become so much more.

But at the end of the day, they are things.
And they are not the whole of our memories, nor the heart of the experiences they recall.

For the memories reside within us, strung into the very structure of our hearts and souls, and if not touched by the sight of a tiny booty from time to time, they will still exist to be plucked and resonate sweetly by the face of our growing child, the round of her cheek, that curve cherished from blurry ultrasound images imprinted on our hearts even before she was born.

The things point to the truth of our love for our child.
But they are not that love.
And so letting them go, while bittersweet, in the end, was affirming.

In the end, I gave away far more than I sold... Seeing that special hat popped onto the head of an indignant infant while his mother grinned at his reaction set off a whole symphony of memories and the satisfaction of joy passed forward. ♥♥
Sunday, 25 September 2011
Welcome to the Playdate (#25)
Everyone is welcome to link up to this post all week long with your
kid related posts ...
recipes, games, crafts, parenting, stories...
just think of it as our virtual play group!

Hours of imaginative play were lead by the discovery of this vintage video camera in a closet...

Here are some of last week's highlights...
(chosen from participants who added the Playdate button or link to their post or blog)
If you are featured, please grab THIS button for your blog or post!
Otherwise scroll down for our participant button for everyone!
 Beneath the Rowan Tree

Perfect Potato Prints
by Jellyfish Jelly

Crockpot Applesauce
by Little Wonders' Days

Dry Erase Quiet Book
by Love Sweet Love

Grab a button and join the fun!
Beneath the Rowan Tree

The Playdate Guidelines:
♥ Add your link and thumbnail below and please visit some of the other links and comment.
♥ Your posts can be old or new, we welcome your best! (no more than 3 per week, please)
♥ Consider adding the playdate button (above) to your post or sidebar, or even a text link back to this blog ( ~ you don't have to, but it sure would be sweet ♥!
♥ ANY kid/ baby/ family related posts and ideas welcome... but please no shop links, promos or giveaways.
♥ I will feature my favourites from the playdate in next week's Playdate post (choosing from those who have added our button or link to their shared post).
♥ Become a follower of this blog, if you wish!
♥ Hit the Facebook or Twitter buttons below and share with your friends!

Saturday, 24 September 2011
Every autumn, we take a hike up to 'The Lookout'.
This year we managed to catch the fall colours right at their peak!

We are blessed to live in a beautiful place, and truly grateful.
Our highland region has long winters, with a beauty of their own.
But fall always wins my heart.
As we tramped up the path with it echoing hollow tones (perhaps from all of the roots beneath it, aerating the soil?) with a friend each,. Rowan and I, we laughed about past season's trips to this high ridge.

My favourite memory happened when Rowan was 3 and she and I went up alone.
We heard something in the woods.
Growing up in Southern Ontario, our woods were generally the bush lots on any given farm property.
But here in the northern part of the province, the woods are the real thing.
And there are bears.
And I think this was one of them.

I told Rowan to stay by me and if we met a bear, to get behind me and I would protect her.
I assured her that a 'mama' black bear and I would be somewhat evenly matched, and that I could "handle" a mama bear.
(Pure bravado!)
She responded in kind, telling me she could handle a baby bear.
And then, clinging to my hand, she squeaked out her real fear....
"I know you could handle the mama bear, Mommy, but I think the mama bear could handle ME".

Needless to say, we made it safe home, without any bear handling at all!

This trip was full of lovely sights and rich scents (the girls swore they smelled a skunk AND a fox).
They did find at least 3 different kinds of spoor.
And the fungi were abundant this year!

And this bizarre specimen, it turns out, is actually a slime mold (yum!)...
Lycogala epidendrum, known as wolf's milk or bubble gum or toothpaste slime mold.
Awfully pretty, though!
What is the autumn like where you live?♥♥
On Friday, I asked you to chime in with why you believe that handmade matters.
I was so moved by your witty, thoughtful, heartfelt responses!

You have touched on a number of the really valuable lessons we learn when we choose to make our own things, with our own hands, when there are so many cheap alternatives. When we choose to teach our children to be mindful not only of the world's (limited) resources but also the well-being of other people around the globe.

I think I might have laughed (and nodded in agreement) hardest at the "being prepared for the zombie apocalypse... good luck finding an open Wal-Mart after that!".
But I have to highlight some of the other values lifted up in response to the challenge:
  • one of a kind items, made for a particular person with care and love.
  • higher quality/ less consumption of resources, less trash
  • heirloom gifts, a way to share with future generations
  • food for the soul
  • living wages for artisans and supporting local business & economy
  • hanging on to the value of art in culture
  • sweatshop and child labour should not be supported to save a few bucks
  • being creative and sharing the creative spirit
Making things with our hands matters.
For us, our children and the wider global community.
(Photo above: Rowan playing with handmade and thrift store blocks at age 6, same blocks she has used since age 2. Now that is play value!)

I recently posted on Facebook about my trepidation with having to raise silk prices (yet to be done), but the cost of silk has doubled in the last 18 months or so.  Add that I choose to use ethically sourced silk with hand rolled hems~ and that hand rolled hems are on the way 'out' as the skills are being lost and the move to machinization in the industry so prevalent.

A friend and long time customer replied to my post saying that she would rather spend the money on one or two quality toys for her children, than a landfill clogging bunch of plastic pieces to be broken and discarded.  I appreciated her response, and the reminder about the value of handmade toys~ something I was losing sight of in the glaring reality of price increases and market pressures.
After all, that is why I started doing this in the first place!

I think we all know it, or at least feel it rumbling around somewhere inside us, that we need to change our habits and our perspectives.  Sometimes it takes a stranger out of place in our space, like that man in the fabric store, to remind us of what we believe and the need to persist in action!
Especially in case of a zombie apocalypse! ♥♥

(and as for a winnner, goodness, hard to choose, so I wimped out and let do it for me... comment # 8 ~ elarieldw .. coincidentally the raunchiest funny response!)
Thursday, 22 September 2011
So. I went into the fabric store to stock up on notions.
And overheard a man at the cash counter say something interesting.

Actually, he said something rather silly considering he was standing in a large retail store chock full of fabric, notions and other items for creating handmade goods, populated by people (ok, women) shopping for said items ...and with scissors and pins close at hand.

He said, "So? How is the sewing business? I would think it would have disappeared by now, considering you can just go down to Wal-Mart and buy all the clothes you need. No point in spending more money to make anything!".

I think every warm blooded sewing woman in earshot stiffened and raised an eyebrow inquisitively towards the nearest sharp thing.
I imagined the clerk retorting, with a brandish of her rotary cutter and a haughty air,
"You sir, are an idiot."
Instead she just chuckled and shrugged her shoulders.

I then imagined making a bola out of the nearest strings of beads and knocking him out with them while I proclaimed that he was "what was wrong with the world today" while the women cheered, hefting bolts of gabardine and yardage of interfacing above their heads.

But I didn't.
Mostly because I wasn't sure if a bola was the thing I was thinking of... it was.

But I wanted to.

I would also have liked to have kindly informed him that some people enjoy making things with their hands, and giving handmade gifts, and value to work of artisans who create items of function and beauty and that there is more to life than fast and cheap....

So, I thought I would play a little game... what would YOU have said to him about why people sew (or make anything handmade) (assuming you weren't entangled in thoughts of beaded bolas or held back by politeness or other strictures that would prevent you from interjecting on someone else's idle conversation...)?  Leave your response (witty, serious, outraged, agreeing) as a comment on this post and I will choose a winner Friday evening and send you a 35" playsilk (handmade, thank you very much!).
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
My daughter began horseback riding this past June.
And this week she was reminded, by a horse, to keep her sense of humour handy.
Posting at a fast trot

Having recovered from her first fall, Rowan is back in the saddle and ready to ride.
It took her about a month/ 4 lessons, to get her mojo back and feel completely confident to ride Phoenix without her coach's hand on the reins or longe line.

We are so enjoying our hour at the stable each week.
The warm smells.
The fresh air.
The singing crickets.
It has become my hour of sabbath and restoration.
(and photography practice!)

For Rowan it is an hour of challenging work!
Whether it is grooming her big mount who loves to roll in the mud, or toting tack, or posting in the saddle, riding is a physcially demanding activity.
It also demands her full attention (and as I posted last week, we are moving towards an ADD diagnosis for Rowan~ so focus is an important skill to practice), which translates into some pretty serious concentration through tasks like hoof cleaning, or reining on her own through obstacles and over poles.

But it isn't all serious!
Not at all.
The one thing I love about these animals is their sense of humour.
Given the oh, 1000 lb. difference between Phoenix and my daughter, he is very gracious to treat her with humour, and reminds us to keep our humour about us when we could resort to power in our own lives.

Last week, Rowan was a little fidgety.
Now Phoenix is a saint.
But he has his limits.
I would describe him more as 'tolerant' than 'patient'~ he generally tunes out any nonsense.

While her coach swept out the dust from grooming, Rowan took her step stool and pulled it up to Phoenix's head in preparation for removing his halter. She was dancing about on the stool and I could see that Phoenix was getting irritated with her antics so close to his face.
I suggested she stand still, and when she turned to respond to me, Phoenix simply dropped his head behind her and shoved her off of the stool.

She hit the ground in shock, and I swear, that horse had a twinkle in his eye.
She looked at him, and in that moment of deciding whether it was worth crying about, I think she saw the twinkle, too.
The laughter pealed out of her, and me, and once we let her coach in on the joke, we all had a good laugh.
Phoenix, too.

He chose humour over power.
He got his point across.
Lesson learned~ by me (and I think Rowan learned a lesson, too!).
Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Rudolph Steiner, developer of the Waldorf educational philosophy, called rhythm the 'carrier of life' and assigned each day of the week with a colour.  The use of colour to mark the passing of days and weeks with young children is both effective and inspiring fo their work and play.

The colour for Wednesday is YELLOW.
Enjoy these warm, yellow and natural finds!

1. Steiner Morning Verse, by Raw Art Letterpress
2. Handknit Waldorf Doll Cardigan, by Lavender Lore
3. Gnome, by This Cosy Life.
4. Felted Acorns, by Fairy Folk.
5. Wool Felt Baby Slippers, by Soria Moria.
6. Bamboo Velour Baby Teether, by Enchanted Dandelions.
7. Amber Teething Necklace, by Amber 4 U.
8. Linen Snake, by Elisabeth Bentz.
9. Giraffe w/ Baby, by Pingvini.
10. Daisy Dog, by Yarn Miracle.

Enjoy ♥
Yum!  All natural, smooth and creamy lip balm made right in your kitchen!
As it turns out, the recipe for making your own beeswax lip balm is the same as the one for making our wood polish....

And we love this because:
First and foremost, it is natural and safe for little lips (and mouths).
And it smells good. (oh that your monitor was scratch and sniff right now!)
And is great for your skin!

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Set aside about 30 minutes to complete this project.
Supplies Needed:
  • Beeswax (50 ml melted wax will make nearly 8 oz. of balm)
  • Jojoba Oil (5 oz./ 150 ml will yield 8 oz. of balm
  • Glass measuring cups in suitable volumes
  • Pot 
  • metal spoon
  • FLAVOUR oils*, if desired
  • honey, if desired
  • lip balm tubes
  • tube stand or other means of keeping tubes upright and still
You can make as much or as little lip balm as you like, 
simply keep your beeswax to jojoba oil ration at 1:3.
For a softer polish, increase the jojoba (technically a wax, but liquid at room temperature).
For a harder polish, increase the beeswax.
Using the ingredients as listed on the supply list yielded approximately 40 standard tubes.

*Flavour Oils: these oils are available where candy making supplies are sold.  They do not actually add flavour to the lip balm~ they are scented.  BUT if you add a touch of sweetness (the honey) then they will be perceived as having the taste of the oil. Cool, huh?

1) Gather your supplies:
Set your pot on the stove, high heat, and fill part way with water to boil.
Put your measuring cup for melting the beeswax in the pot to heat with the water.
OR create another double boiler of your choice.

Figure out how much balm you plan to make, and measure the jojoba oil into the second measuring cup.
If you plan to make several flavours of balm, you can divide the oils in the last steps.

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2)  Melt the Beeswax.
SAFETY FIRST: Beeswax has a melting point of 143-148 degrees.
All waxes may ignite if they are heated to their flash point.
Never melt your beeswax in the microwave.
Always use a double boiler set up and remove the wax from the heat once it has melted.
TIP: Use a grater to shave off smaller amounts of beeswax for faster melting.
 I generally choose a small chunk, melt it in the measuring cup and eye up whether I have enough, adding more if needed.  If I over-melt, I simply pour off the excess into a non-porous container to cool and store for later use.
Mind that your pot does not boil dry and simply wait for the beeswax in your glass measuring cup to melt.

3) Set Up the Tubes.
You can purchase a commercial lip balm tube stand for pouring, or make your own.
I made my own by simply using rolls of packing tape!
Stand the tubes around the inside perimeter and stuff the center with enough paper towel to hold the tubes in place.
4) Mix the Oils.
When your beeswax is liquefied, pour the needed amount into the glass measuring cup holding your jojoba oil.
Make sure you have figured out your ratio and measurements ahead of time!

Place this mixture back into the double boiler to melt together (the beeswax will immediately begin to harden in the cool jojoba oil~ you could heat the jojoba ahead of time, but why dirty more dishes?), stirring regularly until you have a liquid mixture.
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5) Divide and Flavour.
If you plan to make several flavours, pour out the fraction of blended oils needed for your first flavour into a second glass container or measuring cup, leaving the remaining over low heat to keep it liquefied until you are ready for it.
Add your flavour oil and honey. Depending on your desired strength of flavour you could add 4-6 or more drops, and a 1/4 teaspoon of honey for every 250 ml (1/4 batch).

6) Fill the Tubes.
Using your measuring cup, carefully pour the balm into your waiting tubes.
Fill each tube only to the top of the center post inside the tube.
Allow this to begin to cool (it will start to turn a soft creamy yellow).
Top up to the edge of the tube once the lower portion is partly cooled ~ this will prevent a large 'dip' in the center and allow for easier twist up and down of the balm.
Allow to cool completely before capping.

Now you are ready to make your personalized labels!
You can start with this template: Lip Balm Labels
And follow these wonderful directions by BTRT guest blogger Kelly at Running with Glitter (posted by BTRT earlier this year):

To attach my labels I used standard packing tape and plain printer paper.. I was pretty proud of myself for discovering this ~It worked out fabulously. I'm pretty sure I'm not the first person but hey...

Here is how to attach the labels:

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  1. Gather Supplies- Packing Tape, Printed Paper, Scissors, blank filled chapstick tube
  2. Cut your labels out on the dotted lines and cover with packing tape. Trim the edges of tape that hang over the sides. Do not cut the tape off the ends. You will need this to secure the label to the tube.
  3. Wrap around the Chapstick and smooth the tape down. It will look seamless.
  4. Easy, Personal and cute!!!
I created labels for birthday party favours using purchased clipart, the template and Photoshop.
 Have fun!♥♥
{{Some folks are unsure about where to find beeswax. You can try a local apiary (we get ours from a local honey farm), or checkout online sources such as .  You can search for beeswax, but also 'encaustic supplies'}}(P.S. You can purchase tubes in various sized lots quickly through )
Sunday, 18 September 2011
Welcome to the Playdate (#24)
Everyone is welcome to link up to this post all week long with your
kid related posts ...
recipes, games, crafts, parenting, stories...
just think of it as our virtual play group!
Rowan and her 'boyfriend' ("'cause he is a boy and my friend") Cole waiting for their turns at our Fall Fair's push pedal tractor pull~ she beat Cole by an inch or two!

Last week's Playdate included a giveaway of our new twirl skirt pattern...
and the winner is Mary at Craft Buds!

Here are some of last week's highlights...
(chosen from participants who added the Playdate button or link to their post or blog)
If you are featured, please grab THIS button for your blog or post!
Otherwise scroll down for our participant button for everyone!
 Beneath the Rowan Tree

from Rub Some Dirt On It

from Homespun with Love

from The Iowa Farmer's Wife

Grab a button and join the fun!
Beneath the Rowan Tree

The Playdate Guidelines:
♥ Add your link and thumbnail below and please visit some of the other links and comment.
♥ Your posts can be old or new, we welcome your best! (no more than 3 per week, please)
♥ Consider adding the playdate button (above) to your post or sidebar, or even a text link back to this blog ( ~ you don't have to, but it sure would be sweet ♥!
♥ ANY kid/ baby/ family related posts and ideas welcome... but please no shop links, promos or giveaways.
♥ I will feature my favourites from the playdate in next week's Playdate post (choosing from those who have added our button or link to their shared post).
♥ Become a follower of this blog, if you wish!
♥ Hit the Facebook or Twitter buttons below and share with your friends!

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