Follow Along

Never Miss a thing...

Enter your email address to be updated with new posts:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Honour the Child

Blog Archive

BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Monday, 23 February 2015
The Usual Mayhem blog is an eclectic mix of homeschooling, nature, crafts and every day life on gorgeous Manitoulin Island (Ontario, Canada).
As a blogger, one of my greatest joys is to share the work of other artisans and bloggers~ to introduce you to some of the very cool and interesting people that connect, in one way or another, to my work  at BTRT.  The connections and the community are the part of my work that feeds my soul~ I hope that you are as inspired by these women and their stories as I am!

It has been truly a pleasure to 'meet' Erin from The Usual Mayhem.
In part, because she is a kindred spirit who happens to live within 500 km (much less as the crow flies) of our home and shares our Northern Ontario spirit, but also because she is an experienced homeschooler, a fledgling off-the-gridder, and a nature lover. And if you don't know it, there is something very magical about people who live on islands (and I can say from experience that Manitoulin is an amazing island!).  So here is your chance to meet Erin, too!
The Usual Mayhem is very much a family affair.  Erin and her partner (a work-at-home software developer/ corporate trainer who also has his own blog) live on a large plot of land with a ten-year self-sustainability plan. They have three children~ a 22 year old entrepreneurial homeschool graduate, a 14 and a 7 year old.  Their spring plans include doubling their current garden and adding ducks, chickens, goats and sheep to their current critter count of 3 dogs.  Brave souls (14 ducklings coming our way has me trembling!). With everyone pulling together, the family also plans for wind turbines and solar panels to reach their goal of independence (although Erin admits she is willing to become an heiress if anyone is accepting applications!).

Erin began blogging while living in the province of Quebec, which has the unfortunate reputation of being very difficult on homeschoolers.  Her blog was a way to document their schooling and their progress.  Since the move to Ontario, she has continued to blog with the support of her family, near and far.  Blogging, like life, can have its slumps~ and a very serious health crisis last year truly shook the family to its core.  But they are returning to strength, leaning on one another, and striving once more towards their goals. Growing The Usual Mayhem blog is more about sharing than earning (a commitment I share wholeheartedly!) .

The Usual Mayhem is full of rich resources for homeschoolers,  with reviews, sections on 'Five in a Row', Unit Studies, and Erin's particular specialty, Nature Studies.  Along with crafts, hikes and adventures on the Island. With a recent change towards the Waldorf style of education at home, there are lots of handwork with natural materials and festival celebration ideas to enrich your own schooling efforts!  Be sure to take a peek at the Nature Studies Pinterest board Erin curates!
All this mayhem keeps Erin busy, along with her part-time work.  But she makes the time to pursue her hobbies~ favourite among these is buying and selling vintage furniture and antiques, inspired by their history and the stories they could tell. The family enjoys leisure time outdoors, and Erin notes that no matter how foul your mood, it is bound to change when surrounded by wildflowers or when struggling to keep your balance on a slippery rock!

Erin's attitude of thankfulness and the team spirit of her family are truly inspiring.
{And her sense of humour is delightful... I have to know more about this 'Hoser Hen'!}
In the coming year, the family plans to begin selling some of their creations on Etsy~ particularly the childrens' handmade fabric art.  And, says Erin, they are "open to whatever comes our way and aligns with our values". I suspect the goats, sheep, garden, dogs, business, blog, chicks, ducks, kids, work, play and adventures might keep them busy~ all that usual mayhem!

Please visit The Usual Mayhem, explore the many homeschooling resources from an experienced educator and follow along to be part of the learning adventure! ♥♥

Sunday, 22 February 2015
Did you know that ducks rival chickens in every way?
If you are looking for egg layers, you may want to check this out!
Photo Credit:
We are still buried under the snow, but our spring plans are underway!
We are expecting 14 day old ducklings mid-April.
Yep. Ducks.
For eggs.
photo credit:

Rowan has been planning for her own flock of egg layers for nearly two years.  She has saved her money and done her research. We have listened to chicken talk almost daily.  We chose a coop style (the Woods Open Air) and we were prepared to start building as soon as the snow clears.

I started looking at the (few) hatcheries available to us, and for those which could provide the heritage breeds Ro had chosen for cold-hardiness and egg laying.  Having grown up raising chickens for meat, I was not enamoured of the species, although I was willing to allow that raising egg layers *might* be a very different experience.  I was also quite concerned about our long winter and keeping chickens safe and warm. In my secret heart I wanted a couple ducks, and figured I could sneak them in on our order.

Concerned about our lack of a pond and the co-dwelling of hens and ducks, I dug a little deeper. And woah. Woah. Hang on one minute.  Ducks ROCK.  Check out this article for starters: 10 Reasons Why Raising Ducks Might Be a Better Choice.

Photo Credit: Bainbridge Farm Goods on Etsy

They love the rain and can tolerate (and even enjoy) the cold and snow.
They don't need a pond, just access to water (ie. kiddie pool).
They are quieter than chickens, lay longer and some even lay *more*!
They are social and many enjoy handling and being pets.
They are pros at bug control and foraging without destroying your garden or yard.
They don't roost~ coop design is so much simpler.
Drakes can co-exist.

{Not in love yet? Check out this infographic from , click to view larger}
Now, it isn't all perfection.
Ducks (domestic) are much slower on land, and lacking the ability to fly are more at risk from predators.
They are social and may enjoy hanging out on your porch.
This, combined with the fact that they are much messier (wet everything!) than chickens can be a turn off. (I'm told my grandmother waged an ongoing, and losing, battle with the ducks and their mess on her porch on the farm).
From anecdotes of other duck lovers, the mess is worthy of noting twice.
Photo Credit:
Rowan was an easier sell on ducks than I had imagined~ her dreams of becoming an Egg Baron happily embraced the idea of being the only duck egg seller in the area (vs. competing with many chicken eggs) and our acre (fenced) is quite suitable for pasturing ducks in daytime and housing them safely at night. And given that last summer we had goats on the shelves in our back porch and on top of our BBQ, we aren't too concerned about dealing with ducks.  {More on duck eggs in a future post}.

So we took the plunge!
The hatchery required an order minimum of three per breed (sexed, thankfully!) and we ended up with 4 breeds, three hens each and two drakes. Given the relatively few ducks in our area, selling ducklings may be a reasonable offshoot of the egg plans.
Here is what we chose:
The very prolific egg laying Khaki Campbell duck (3 hens):
Photo Credit:
The friendly and broody Cayuga Duck (3 hens + drake):
Photo Credit: Nik Mortimore via Pinterest

The Indian Runner (hilarious, right?)~ great egg layers (3 black hens):
Photo Credit:

The hardy, medium yield Buff (3 hens + drake) :
Photo Credit: McMurray Hatchery
So what do you think? ♥♥
{Not convinced? Just look at this post and fall in love!}
Saturday, 21 February 2015
We all know Sharpies are amazing.
And we all love a craft that makes use of basic supplies we are already hoarding.
(it *can't* be only me!)
{at this point, I have to tell you that this craft was the result of haphazard pinning (follow BTRT on Pinterest) ~ I saw some gorgeous Sharpie art with the erroneous comment saying it was done on canvas... so I plowed ahead and *then* actually looked at the pin... it was done on ceramic tiles! There is a big difference between ceramic tiles and canvas~ so here is our canvas version}

It is also worth noting that the canvas, being more absorbent, was probably a better choice for kids who like to doodle and add details. The canvas allows much more time, less smearing and a slower bleed when the alcohol is applied.

Age: 3+ (these markers are permanent!)
Time: 15 minutes +
Supplies Needed:
• art canvas in desired size (we had some dollar store ones in stash)
• Sharpie markers
• rubbing alcohol
• syringe, q-tips, paintbrushes, spray bottle... other applicators of your choice
• protective base in case markers bleed through onto work surface (we just laid paper under our work)

• The Sharpies on the canvas will bleed in a more controlled manner than on cotton tees or ceramic tiles.  Concentric patterns (that work out from a center point) are the most effective, especially if kept to 2-3 colours and 1-2" in size. Too many colours, or too large patterns will end up muddy and they are harder to get to bleed all the way to the edges.
• I highly recommend using one canvas to experiment with your markers and alcohol application~ different marker colours spread in different ways, and some patterns are more effective than others.
1) Once your surface is protected (and the kids, if needed), simply pass out the canvas and markers and start doodling.  Rowan made a lot of words and long designs which were less effective than her smaller patterns.
2) Once your doodles or designs are done, it is time to apply the alcohol.  It can be applied in many ways~ painted, dripped, sprayed, splattered.  We had some syringes, which were perfect for putting one drop at a time in the center of each design, working our way around the canvas.  If a pattern didn't bleed as much as we liked, we added a little more alcohol.

3) Let your canvas dry and then find a place to display your kids' creations!
Easy peasy! What our work may lack in visual appeal, it made up for in doodling fun and the 'ooohs' and 'ahs' of the alcohol application and the pride of the child in creating their own art! ♥♥
Thursday, 12 February 2015
{{Congratulations to Winner :: Lily Panyacosit!}}
Waldorf dolls are undeniably beautiful~ each so unique, warm and natural.
If you are a doll lover, a doll giver, or an aspiring doll maker, you need to know about Reggie's Dolls (if you don't already!).
Reggie's Dolls is a full service doll shop~ offering custom made dolls and doll clothing as well as everything you need to make and clothe your *own* dolly!
With a special love for helping newbie doll makers get started, Reggie has made it possible for a beginner to get everything they need from one shop~ which as an artisan, I applaud and appreciate!
Reggie, like me, is an 'Etsy old-timer'~ having begun her shop in 2007.
In 2009, she sold her coffee shop business and made Reggie's Dolls her full time work~ relishing in the personal freedom to create and work on her own schedule.
Today, she makes about 6 custom dolls a month, in addition to sewing, pattern writing and seeking out top notch supplies for her loyal customer base.
Reggie lives in Oregon, with her two adult daughter's living nearby.  Her love of sewing doll clothing began young, at the knee of her Grandmother Hila who would let Reggie play all weekend with her sewing machine. Reggie remembers going home Sunday nights smelling like Avon bubble bath and toting new dresses for her dollies.  Now she makes her living with those early skills, sometimes turning her hand to making dresses for her grown up girls (the true sign of a cool mom!).

As you browse through Reggie's Dolls, you will experience Reggie's passion for natural materials. Her virtual shelves are stocked with wool felt and soft cottons.  The coats and dresses sport shell and coconut buttons. There are patterns for shoes, dresses and tights... and coming soon? A pattern for making doll clothing with upcycled wool sweaters.
Please take the time to visit Reggie's Dolls~ but beware, you will not be able to leave without really wanting to make your own doll!
{And Reggie makes it sooo easy!}

Reggie's Dolls is offering this week's amazing giveaway!
Open to entrants worldwide.
 Cotton Dress + Wool Shawl + Wool Felt Shoes
fits 16-18" dolls
1) Like Reggie's Dolls on Facebook and comment HERE on this post that you have done so.
2) Like Beneath the Rowan Tree on Facebook and comment HERE on this post that you have done so.
Already like our pages? Yay!
You are welcome to comment/ enter once for each page.
Thursday, 5 February 2015
{{Congratulations to winner LYNAJ}}
Passionate about giving new life to textiles through the creation of Waldorf inspired toys.
Fairyshadow is our guest this week, with a great giveaway (at the end of the post).
 Bringing you features about artisans and their businesses is such a joy~ I get to 'meet' so many fascinating people and introduce them to you!  Tania, the hands behind the adorable creations at Fairyshadow, is no exception.
 Mom of two girls, Tania and her husband live in the coastal hills of northern California, ranching sheep and cattle as the fifth generation on the ranch.  With its temperate climate and abundant resources, Sonoma County provides nearly all of the materials Tania needs for her handwork~ this local sourcing is important to Tania.

Fairyshadow was born of a need to cover unexpected expenses surrounding (successful!) cancer treatment for Tania's daughter (then aged 16). Harvesting materials from her own closets, Tania made dolls and hair accessories to sell locally and on Etsy. Since then, the business has grown and become 'part of the family'.

Nearly all of the toys at Fairyshadow are made with little-worn upcycled fabric gleaned from local thrift stores (the last stop before being bundled and shipped overseas as rags) and a second hand craft store that sells yardage to support a local senior's center. Tania's favourite find is knit cotton velour~ soft, versatile and pretty! Locally sourced wool is used for stuffing.

Tania approaches busy times with a sensible spirit of possibility~ breaking down any task into smaller bits makes it manageable. This same spirit defines her commitment to being part of the solution in recycling and reusing materials.  She looks forward to providing more kits and possibilities for at-home crafters to use upcycled textiles as well.

Tania's creations are lovely, warm and responsibly sourced.
Please take a few minutes to explore the Fairyshadow shop and be inspired to make something new out of something old in your own life!

GIVEAWAY: A set of 15 little bunting dolls.
These fifteen(15) little bunting dolls (various colours) are only 1-1/2" tall. 
Just small enough to rest hidden in a curled hand, crafted from upcycled cotton knit velour 
and a small wooden ball, these little babies are a wonderful addition to an Easter basket instead of jelly beans. They tuck into pockets, play baby to bigger dolls or snuggle into a nest pretending to be eggs ready to hatch. They are a fun way to share the good news of a pregnancy, gift at baby showers and fun little party  favors.
Leave a comment on this post, up to 3 comments
1) Leave a comment with your favourite item in the Etsy shop
2) Leave a comment for liking the Fairyshadow Facebook Page.
3) Leave a comment for following this blog (ie become a follower on the upper left hand column)

Thanks for reading and entering ♥♥
Wednesday, 4 February 2015
What happens when you mix horse lovers, silk and dye?

One of my goals for this year is to work more on artistic projects, to challenge myself and find new ways of working with natural fibers and dye. After much experimentation, research into the traditions of shibori, and pursuit of a vision~ I could see what I wanted to achieve, I just had to figure out how to get there~ I'm excited to offer what I am calling 'Motif Silks'.

So far the horses are a favourite! 

These hand dyed lovelies are definitely something new on the playsilk scene, but they aren't *just* for the kids.  These Motif silks are also being designed for grownups to wear and enjoy (since I know lots of us sneak out wearing the kids' playsilks!) and on decor items like throw pillow cases.
Motif Silks are being done in a variety of sizes and silk weights (a little luxury for the mamas!). Each takes much longer than our standard playsilk colorways to plan & create, and spends more time in more dye baths. But the end results are so much fun!
Along with the more abstract styles, I am also offering simple seasonal and kid-appealing additions to the shop:
And soon it will be possible to add a little motif to any playsilks or dress up items you order, beginning with little bunnies for the Easter Season. Watch for the separate listing to "add a bunny" going up soon ($2.50).
New motifs are on the way, in addition to horses, unicorns, bunnies, dolphins, polar bears, butterflies already in the works.

What do you think? 
What motifs would you or your littles like to see?
Please leave a comment and share! ♥♥
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Search This Blog

Playsilk Primer

Join the Link Party!

Go Creative!

Supply Kit for Silk Fairy Mobile DIY

Supply Kit for Silk Dolly DIY