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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Thursday, 31 July 2014
My daughter has fallen head over heels in love.
It has happened before.
But never like this.

Now, I consider myself a very tolerant person. 
And so far, my daughter's passions have been only what I expect from *my* daughter.
Dogs. Horses. Whales. Dolphins. Lions.
She is an animal lover to the core.

And her friend Blake, but mostly because she and he agreed that a husband does whatever his wife tells him. And because she wants babies and has watched enough nature shows to know she needs a 'mate'.

She also loves to climb trees and to draw.
To be a secret ninja super spy (all dressed in long black clothing and a black balaclava on a hot summer day).
She loves to swim and read.
Her imagination is as big as the sky.

She is a pretty well-rounded kid, with a little obsessiveness thanks to her OCD and her Asperger-like tendencies.

(The poor employee in the paint department at Home Depot who decided to 'educate' Rowan ~ who was looking for colours for her dream chicken coop~ about raising chickens by telling her they like fresh air. Oh boy. I enjoyed a peaceful 15 minutes or so of my own colour browsing before I decided to save the unfortunate soul from the Lore & History of Chicken Raising Past, Present and Forever which is stored in my daughter's brain.)

Her 9th birthday is approaching and she has known clearly what she wants for some time.
A carving knife.
An archery set.
And a dragon cake OR a cake in the shape of the carcass of something a dragon killed.
{{have I mentioned that I adore this child?!}}

Pretty cool, right?
Makes my feminist heart sing.
Without pressure, and with being allowed to follow her own interests, my daughter believes in a world where she can love what she loves without it belonging to any specific gender.
But then it happened.

We went to get the mail.
In the mail there was... an American Girl catalogue.
*insert dramatic musical sting here*
'Great news'~ they are coming to Canada!
Oh yay.

(I was mostly annoyed that Chapters/Indigo spammed us, and wouldn't have given it another thought.)

After all, Rowan has never touched a doll.
I had a custom Waldorf doll made for her 3rd Christmas. She opened it, shrugged, said "her name is Sarah and here, Mom, you can have her." and that was that.
My mother loves dolls, but Rowan has never taken to any of the dolls Grandma has given her, and finds the dolls *at* Grandma's house 'creepy'~ I don't disagree, especially the 100 year old papier mache headed doll with the head half caved in!

But Rowan took one look at that AG catalogue and tumbled into love.
Visions of crushes yet to come unfolded in my mind.
My daughter became a swoony, obsessed little changeling.
And really, I ask you... does a mother have to tolerate even this love?!
A Canadian mother?
(Yes, I know Maple Lea dolls exist, but lack the cache of the AG dolls in my child's eyes).
And worse? Rowan has scoured that entire catalogue, practically worn it out and has chosen the ONE doll she simply MUST have.

The long haired blonde with aquamarine blue eyes!
Not a spunky brunette with flashing brown eyes...
but, and I quote, 'the MOST Beautiful of Them All'!
It's not that I object, wholly, to the idea of dolls, or even to American Girl which, in the case of the Historical dolls like Caroline, has stories and other ways to engage in the history of girls in North America that are age appropriate and, as near as I can tell, girl positive. And it isn't Barbie.

It is just that I am surprised!
I think I made the mistake of assuming that I knew the trajectory of my child's interests, that I could predict based on past behaviour, and by how well they aligned with my own as a girl.
And then the American Girls arrived in our mailbox.
And I have to step back and look at the unique person my daughter is and is becoming as she moves into middle childhood (I hate the term 'tween'!) and more into her own independent world.

She will have wants and passions and experiences all her own.
Of course I know this, cognitively, but there is still that mothering part of me that is holding the hand of my three year old, or rocking my baby to sleep, even when I am arguing with my almost-9 year old or letting her clean and bandage her own skinned knee.

And she will have her own loves... dolls, books, boys, friends, places...
And her own heartaches and heartbreaks.
And triumphs and failures all her own.
In the next few years she is going to have a lot more of all of this.

Whether or not Caroline moves from catalogue to actuality remains to be seen.
But her presence has already made itself known in our lives.
Something about her is qualitatively different than other crushes.
She is the scout for a new territory.
The pioneer staking the first claim.
The marshal in the parade of my daughter's growing up.

And really, who doesn't love a parade?!

Welcome to the family, Caroline.

What was the moment you realized your child had turned a corner towards a new stage in her life? How did you feel? Comments welcome and encouraged!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

What a wonderful flock of Waldorf inspired Winged Wonders we have this Wednesday!
Wow. OK, I am out of 'W's now.

Artful alliteration aside... I'm happy to share this collection of birds and wings.
Each one is handmade by an Etsy artisan, inspired by the Waldorf tradition, which lifts up the natural world and reflects it in natural materials.

To the best of my knowledge, each of these toys has been crafted from natural materials by the artisan. You won't find any plastic, eco- or poly-felt (which are acrylic) or harmful finishes.
Making these treasures safe for the kids, warm in their hands and biodegradable when their work is done.

Be sure to visit these shops (all chosen freely by me~ these are not advertisers~ that's how we roll around here!) AND to check out our years of Waldorf features here on the BTRT blog  (see the list of labels on the right hand side column) to connect with talented and conscientious artisans of wonder-full things!
1. Repurposed Wool Wings Costume, by Repurposed Wool Studio
2. Bluebird, by Two Raccoon Hollow 
3. Bluebird on Nest, by Molica Australia 
4. Felted Wool Coin Purse, by Dodo DIY
5. Goldfinch, by Claudia Marie Felt 
6. Boy & Birds Set, by Mielasiela
7. Pair of Owls, by Juguetes Eloisa
8. Balance Birds, by Mama May I

Enjoy! ♥♥
Monday, 28 July 2014
Painting with the sun is a great craft project for kids (with some adult help!).
Even here, in the land that the sun forgot...
(or at least the land that summer forgot!).
This past long winter I performed an act of hope... I purchased sun paints...
and have been waiting ever since for the magical combination of time + sunshine.
This week, I performed an act of desperation, and tried sun painting anyway.

What is sun painting?
To sun paint, you use a light sensitive fabric paint (such as Setacolor Fabric Paints by Pebeo) and a variety of resists (paper templates, natural objects, small items) to create your own one-of-a-kind results! When placed in sunlight, the paints will dry, leaving the image of your resist on the fabric in surprising and wonderful ways.  You can then use the fabric for other projects, or simply hoop and hang your new artwork!
Materials & Supplies:
Heliographic paints ('sun paints')
• Surface protection (plastic table cloth, garbage bag etc)
• moveable surface (ie cardboard larger than your project)
• paint brushes, foam brushes, sponges... whatever you have or prefer
• natural fabric, prewashed ~ cotton (100% is best), silk, bamboo OR clothing
• containers for mixing and storing paint
• spray bottle for water (optional)
• paper templates/ shapes, leaves, marbles, buttons, string... for resists
• embroidery hoop (optional)
• SUNSHINE and lots of it

 A word about the paints:
The Setacolor paints are very thick, and a little goes a long way. We mixed them 1:3 with water.  They are transparent paints, so they will blend easily with one another (meaning you can make pretty much every colour you need if you just buy the primary colours) and will dry much lighter than they go on ~ for a deeper finish, use more paint, less water. They are intended for light coloured backgrounds, but you can purchase a version for dark fabric.  You can apply the paints in a variety of ways~ brushes, sponges, spray bottles, splatter ~ be creative!
The paints look super cool when added to the  water!

A word about the fabrics:
These paints work best for sun painting on a pre-dampened fabric, and one which absorbs water easily (therefore a fabric with high natural fiber content works much better). Do not use paint canvasses... they are meant to be painted ON and not to absorb the colour... we learned this one the hard way! Fabric should be prewashed (even by hand, hot + dish soap) to remove any sizing or surface treatment (sericin from silk).  You can simply lay your fabric out to paint it, pin it or use an embroidery hoop to stretch it taut.

Let's do this!
1)  Prepare your space, paints and fabric.
Protect your workspace with a plastic cover.
Mix your paints with water (1:3 works well).
Put your moveable surface under the fabric.
Moisten your fabric with spray bottle or other method.
Lay the fabric out for paint application ~ do this out of direct sunlight to give yourself the most time to play!
Embroidery hoops were definitely the easiest for kids (and me!) to work with the fabric.
 2) Apply the paint.
Take risks and have fun! Remember, the colours will blend~ with children, encourage them to leave white space between colours if they don't want blending (or brown... I always got brown in art class as a kid!).

3) Add your resists.
This is the part the kids really love... deciding what they want to use to print on their fabric!
What a perfect excuse for a nature hike!
(go ahead, we'll wait until you get back....)
Ideally every resist should be flat... or if not flat, making significant contact with the fabric, especially if your  day is not-so-sunny.
You can use straight pins (or pebbles) to hold down leaves, feathers and other lightweight items, especially on a windy day.
These leaves were *not* flat enough to be effective.
These items worked much better!

Once you are happy with your object placement, move your fabric (this is where the moveable surface comes in handy, or the embroidery hoop!) into the sun.
Goatling supervision is not required, but it is cute! And all I know is *someone* stole the ferns off of our first sun paintings!
 The hotter and more direct the sun, the faster and more dramatic the printing effect will be.
(with kids, dramatic will make you look way cooler than making prints on a cloudy day!)
Leave the fabric in the sun until completely dry (at least one hour).
And try not to peek!

4) The Big Reveal.
Bring your fabric back to your original work surface.
Cue dramatic music, or a drum roll made on the table top will do...
and remove the items from the surface to reveal what you (and the sun, give credit!) have done!
At this point, a little swish with a hot iron to ensure the colour is fully set is a good idea.
Your fabric is colorfast and ready to use!

You can do a million things with your fancy new fabric!
Sew it, hoop it, use it for wrapping gifts...
Or try sun painting tshirts, bandanas, cotton canvas shoes or silk scarves....
Whatever you do, have fun and be creative!
Leftover paint can be stored in an airtight container, out of the sun, for several weeks.

{{for our projects, Rowan (9) chose to work with natural found objects and I pulled out my Grandmother's button tin and a small piece of Nottingham lace she handed down to me!}}♥♥

Friday, 25 July 2014
Our first craft project for our new home is a garden sign 
pointing the way to various literary and fantasy destinations.

This is one of those Pinterest projects I have been itching to do!
(You can follow me on Pinterest HERE)
I thought I would share how I did it, in case you have a hankering to make your own.

The first step was to acquire a pallet (aka free wood).
I have been a little leery about the pallet-mania going on,
as the life of a pallet can include being sprayed with pesticides and other nasties.
But since this one was destined for the outdoors, I headed to our local dump.

Once I bypassed one of the local dump bears...
 (I never said this tutorial was going to be safe and easy, did I?!)
... and received permission from the Dump Master (Head Dump Dude? I don't know his actual title),
I snagged a likely looking pallet and squeezed it into my (too small) car.

Next, I gathered my tools and materials for the project:
* Pallet
* Table Saw & extension cord
* Sander and/ or sand paper
* Hammer, Crowbar
* Pencils
* Nails in desired size
* Print outs of locations in desired size and font
* Craft paints, palette, brushes
* Outdoor Sealant (I used a water based clear coat)
* lumber for signpost

At this point, I need to confess something.
You know those men whose workshops have every tool known to humankind are organized, with everything in its place?
I didn't marry one of those.
Oh, we have every tool.
But finding it is a bit of a trick.

So I found the table saw (but not the table) and a hammer and approached my pallet.
I may or may not have used a glass topped patio table for my saw table.
(This tutorial might fall under do as I say, not as I do...) 
And my husband may have seen this picture of me on Facebook (modifying a temporary goat shed and using the table saw very incorrectly...) and called to tell me how to adjust the blade as I started this project.

For the sake of saving labour, I decided to simply chop off the outer sides of the pallet
(less nails to pry out).
If you prefer a more nuanced approach, there are lots of YouTube videos detailing how to take apart a wooden pallet. The ones by men include spending several hours machining the perfect tool for the job... seriously? Gimme a hammer.
Once I chopped off the outer ends from the pallet, all I had to do was take it apart.
The easiest way was to simply use the hammer and bang the face boards off of the middle crossbeam a little..  bang them away from where they attach, creating a little extra space around the nail head, which could then be pulled easily with the claw of the hammer. Does that make sense?
(If not, see YouTube for better, smarter, safer ways to do it!).

At this point I had over a dozen boards approx. 24" in length.
You can save your nails from the pallet to put together your signs later.
The next step was to use the table saw and cut the ends of each board into rough arrow shapes.
The more random the better!
(When you sand and/or paint, you will flip some to go in the opposite direction).
You could skip this next step, but in my experience painting will go much more smoothly, literally, if your wooden surface is smooth, allowing the paint to adhere better and last much longer.
Using a small hand sander and some 80 grit paper to really quickly slough off any unevenness, I sanded one side of each board (remembering to flip some so they can point in the opposite direction).
Of course, you can do this by hand, too.
 And now you are ready to start creating your signs!
The first thing you need to do is check out this tutorial HERE which will help you distress your wood (if you so choose.. I didn't for this project) AND most importantly hook you up with a great lettering tutorial so you can transfer the perfect fonts for each literary place right onto the wood!
You can also use carbon paper for the lettering~ but I am impatient and we live in the woods and a long way from any place with carbon paper!
Make a list of all the magical places you want to put on your signpost.
You can use a free font website (like to help you find the perfect lettering.
HINT: On Dafont you can choose a font to look at, and then enter your place name as the 'sample text' and until you change it, all fonts you view will show you your chosen words in that font.
Fonts are often named thematically, so try entering in something like "Hobbit" for a couple of great options for 'The Shire". Most free fonts are only free for personal use, so please respect the designers and do not sell items using their work without making a donation or purchase.
Download and install your desired font.
Print out the words at the desired size (this may take a few test prints to get it right for your boards).
Use the lettering tutorial linked above to get your words onto your boards for painting.

(or use your carbon, or go freehand.. I just happen to be a bit of a nut for just the right font!)

Paint your letters, and add details as you feel inspired!
This part of the project will take the longest ~ we had trouble choosing just a few places and I bet you will, too!
Once your signs are all painted and dried, use your chosen sealer to weatherproof them.
I used a water based acrylic clear coat and applied 3 coats.
With a lot of debating, we determined the order for our signs.
For a signpost, I purchased a piece of unfinished pine trim from the dowel section at the hardware store, scrap wood would work fine, too!

Next, I called it 'nail driving practice' and let my eager almost-9 year old do most of the hammering.
She's all ready to compete at the fall fair now!
And she learned a valuable life lesson when I refused to hold the nail for her while she hammered it in!
If your nails are too long, simply hammer the backs down against the board.
Two nails were required every couple of boards in order to keep them all from turning and spinning on a single nail.
Being a bit of a tree hugger, I was a little hesitant to nail the finished sign post to a tree.
But I did some reading and was assured that 2-3 nails in a healthy mature tree would not cause undue stress or damage to the tree. So we proceeded to choose a tree and mount our signpost with a couple of 3" nails.
Now.. stand back and enjoy what you have created!

I love that cars going by slow down to read the signs (wait until I finish my 'Unicorn Crossing' sign!)
and that almost every time we pull into our driveway Rowan asks "where we should go"...
because sometimes you just need a quick trip to Narnia or Neverland to restore your spirit of wonder and belief in magic! ♥♥

Friday, 11 July 2014
We have had a lot of changes in the last few weeks.
To be fair, it started about 8 months ago when I fell in love with a little old schoolhouse in the woods.

That crush led to our purchasing that schoolhouse.
And then I quit my job (19 years of ministry) effective June 30.

At the end of June we made the final push to move in to our new home, with all the attendant drama and trauma of moving.  And now we are happily ensconced in our little (900 sq. ft.) home.

In the first 24 hours of really living here (we moved a town over, and had both houses until the end of June) Andy returned to work (long haul trucking) and our toilet tank cracked completely, the hydro went out for 12 hours and I realized that our house was seething with mice, ants and earwigs. Fun!

So now, I have a system of flushing and catching water for the toilet until Andy gets back home. I have caught 8 mice. I have given up my squeamishness with earwigs and stomp them with abandon.

I have also gone from caring for a flock of people to caring for our expanded creature collection.
We added two baby kitties to become mousers (see above paragraph) -- and they have been dubbed Ghost and Longclaw, with a big nod to Game of Thrones.

Soon after that, we drove 5 hours each way to pick up a mama goat and her one week old twin boys-- in the back of our little Kia! Thank goodness Dandelion is a Pygmy goat (pictured with some horn bling made by Rowan), so she fit well, and she settled happily for the ride.  The babes, Hickory and Huckleberry, are darling funny little things that we plan to band and train to cart (they are Pygmy x fainting goat and expected to be larger than the average Pygmy).  I am hoping that if we add one more little doe to the herd this summer, maybe my husband won't notice?

It is with some sadness that we have decided to re-home our little Papillon, Murray.
We have a friend who would love to love him, and at 4.5 lbs he is in danger every time he leaves our house-- hawks, owls, fishers, coyotes... And having been trashed by the nanny goat last week, we are aware how ill-suited he is in the country.  The good thing is that he will be local and we can visit and pet-sit and know he is much safer! {{since I wrote this draft, Murray has moved to his new home and is having a blast with his new 'siblings'~ watching a teeny dog and two ferrets play is a hoot!}}

My big girl, Boudicca (Boo) the Bouvier is thriving in our new setting, and she and Dandelion have settled into a mutual respect for one another. {And it just occurred to me that we have pets named 'Ghost' and 'Boo'!}

In all of this, we are homeschooling and I am excited to have so much more time to devote to Beneath the Rowan Tree, as well.  So be sure to follow us on Facebook and to become a follower of this blog (left hand column)I'm off to stomp bugs and play with my baby goats! ♥♥

Monday, 7 July 2014
I once was a blogging machine.
Well, not a machine, really, kind of the opposite.
I used this blog as creative space -- for business and personal projects, for personal and parental reflection, for telling my own story and connecting with others and their stories.
It came from the heart and even though it is published in the vastness of the internet, it felt intimate-- like my own space.

And this space was a precious little corner of my otherwise quite public life.
Being in ministry is sometimes referred to as "living in a stained glass fishbowl".
And some people like their goldfish and get that it is a fish with fishy needs and a fish shaped life, trying to be the best fish it can be (but sometimes falling short).
And others want their fish to stop acting like a fish.

To put it simply-- someone who wanted me to stop acting like a fish decided to use this blog towards that end. And it worked -- it poisoned my water, it cost me my blogging mojo.
The hows and whys aren't worth mentioning, being bygones and oh-so-2012.

Moving on.
I'm back (baby!).

I'm excited about rebuilding this space and filling it with beautiful colours and hopeful words and creative expression and ideas.

We have moved.
We are no longer in the same small town, but close enough to keep our connections while gaining privacy and space.
We are slowing making home out of a 90 year old schoolhouse.
I am surrounded by tall trees and baby animals.
I am taking a break from full time ministry (although I will still be preaching and presiding at funerals as needed).
My flock has become the dogs, some new kitties and a small herd of goats.
And Beneath the Rowan Tree is now my day job!

I have lots to share (still ironing out devices and internet for our location!) about setting up our little farmstead, special needs parenting, homeschooling, crafting, nature, girl power... And lots to learn and hear from you! 

So follow the blog (left hand side), follow our Facebook page and let's do this thing!

{and... In case you aren't sure if you should stick around, let me just say... Baby Goats} <3

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