Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year

So I was going to do this tomorow, but I know tomorrow is going to be a crazy day, and I know it'll get lost in the crazy day shuffle.  So here it is: the 2012 recap and plans for 2013.  Quick fast like, because it's waaay past my bedtime.

2012 kind of rocked.  We started out the year dreaming of a new home, but one that we were going to build with our own hands.  We spent weeks designing a house, which even though we're not going to build it (right now) was a wonderful learning process that taught us so much about ourselves and how we want to live.

Sometime in early March, when our plans to build were halted by a realistic driveway digger guy (who basically told us that the driveway into the land, which would have to be long, fairly steep, and cross a NEC protected river) could be the most expensive and most pain-in-the-assive* part of the project.  He also, for the record, said it could be easier, but it wasn't likely.  (*is TOO a word.)

We decided not to take the chance.

Especially when someone dangled something shiny in front of us.

It was another house.  Already built.  With a perfectly functional driveway.

In a community, a really good community.

And it was pritty!

So on May28th we moved into it, waiving adios to the Blue House, and started life anew in the Valley.

And since then, time has flown.  We've been here for 7 months.  It feels like we've been here forever.  I know more about some of these people here than I do about people I've known for 10 times as long. 

And they are our people.

To say that we're happy here would be an understatement.

Our lives have become so much richer in the past 7 months, that it feels like it would be tough to beat right now.

But gosh darnit if we aren't going to try.

So that's 2013 in a nutshell - beat 2012.  We're going to get out an enjoy the rest of the winter, something we never did at the old house.  We're going to eat better (we're going gluten free in the New Year.  I already have, I'm just taking the rest of the family with me!) We are going to be more active, take better care of ourselves and eachother; we will love more, laugh more, smile more, and do more to make our lives and our corner of the world a better place.  And then we'll work to send that joy out into other corners of the world and make them better places too.

If you are a part of our lives (which, you know, you probably are since you're HERE and all) then we thank you for being a part of all that's gone on in the past year.  From family to old friends to new friends, to friends across the country and on this crazy ol' internet, we've been so blessed to have so much support from so many wonderful people in our lives this year.  (That was sooo too many sos in one sentence.)

But seriously, for reals.  We love you guys.  And maybe I don't tell you that enough!

So thanks, all.  Thanks for being a part.  Thanks for reading.  And thanks for the love.  Right back at'cha. May wonderful things come your way in the following year (and forever more, for that matter.) You all deserve every last drop of it!

From us to you, the love!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas in Photos

We had a lovely holiday.  Just lovely.  I worked right up until the 23rd in the store in Creemore, so chilling out as of the 24th felt good.  OK, honestly, it was late afternoon on the 24th when we finally sat down and relaxed, but as of then it was solid!  We drove to London yesterday to hang with my brother and Mom and the neice and nephews, and we'll head home tomorrow to see just how much snow needs to be shovelled! I have another week off with the kids, which I am very much looking forward to.

So here is our Christmas (so far) in photos.  Hope yours was as lovely as ours!

An early Christmas present from Kelly.

Christmas Lasagne
Tracking Santa on Norad

Silent Night, indeed (Corbie crashes at 5:30 on Christmas Eve!)
Bright and shiney on Christmas Morning.

Christmas Dinner in the sunroom! (We love our sunroom!)  
Lego Mania at my Brother's house. (One of 4 sets being built at the table!)
 Happy Holidays to you all, my friends!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I'm back.

Hello long lost friends.

(Or was it me that was long lost?  Whatever.  Details.)

The Christmas shopping/soaping rush is over, with my last show being this morning.  Let the official relaxing commence!

We rung in the Solstice last night with some fantastic folks, a snow storm, a big-assed bonfire (despite the snow storm and crazy winds) and some most excellent food, including a large venison roast cooked on the bonfire.

Some brave people braved the crazy weather.  It was windy, and cold, and snowy, and yet we hung out by the fire all. night.

It was awesome, full stop.

I don't have enough words to describe how in love with life I am at this moment.  (Yes, we're back to me gushing about how wonderful things are, I hope you've missed it.)

Every single day I'm amazed at the amount of awesome that is hanging out all in one place here. 

(Sidebar: The last month wasn't totally filled with awesome.  There has been some rotating illness, including "the ITCH" which plagued me for nearly three weeks.  Going gluten and alcohol free, and doing a liver detox has mostly resolved said itch...however it's a shitty time of year to do both those things.  However, realizing that the only person who can take charge of what goes in my body is ME, its time to make some changes.  I've been told that a Paleo diet would make me feel the best I've ever felt, so I'm considering it.)

There are some exciting things afoot for this coming year, and I am looking forward to having some time to think about them all.  Sitting still, drinking tea before it goes cold in the cup, reading books, watching movies, knitting, hanging out with my most favourite people in the world, in the best place I've ever know.  Those are my plans for the next two weeks.  

Hope you are all safe and warm, and doing very much of the same things.

Happy Holidays from all of us!

Hardcore Valley Peeps, and a few folks "from away" brave the snowstorm. 

Chestnuts Venison roasting on an open fire.
So much in love with this family photo!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"You are quickly on your way to becoming a fibre nerd."

I went to look for wool today for my very first knitting project...and came out with the most expensive thing in the store.

Mmm, hand dyed baby alpaca!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Under the Weather

Me for the past week. And now the boys. Please excuse the radio silence as we work our way out of this nasty mess!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A moment

Someday, he will be big enough to run around unsupervised with the big kids. For now, he watches from the windo, patiently waiting for his turn.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Moment

I don't have a picture of this moment, I couldn't have captured it even if I tried.  Steve, Griffin and I walked out of his school, after our parent-teacher interview.  Griffin had just finished blowing us away by his intellect, and his intuitiveness, and his vocabulary, and his holy-shit-has-this-kid-ever-grown-up-ness.  He gave us a tour of his school.  All 8 rooms of it, spread over three floors.  We walked out into a perfect early winter day.  It was chilly, but the sun was shining, and there was the smell of a freshly-stoked wood burning fireplace, coming from a home close by.

And I spun around, and thought "Wow."

Wow.  This is our life now.  It's SO different than any life that we've either lived before, but we are so in the right place for us. I feel so lucky, so fortunate to be right here, right now.  I feel like I might have had to cash in a lifetime full of karma, in order to pay for this place. 

There is not a lot of money in the bank these days, but we are still so rich. 

I might stop gushing about the perfection of this place some day, but I kind of hope not.  I kind of hope that we never take this place for granted, and never stop noticing it's beauty, and it's richness, and never stop being thankful for this place and the people in it.

And what I'm realizing now, is that where we are right now wouldn't be right for everyone.  But it's right for us, right now. 

We had a family motto for years - "Make it Happen." You want something in your life?  Stop talking about it.  Make it Happen.

And we did.  We made stuff happen, left right and centre.

And now, we've decided that we're all done making things happen for now.  Big things anyway.  We're tired, and we need a bit of time to chill, and enjoy it all, and figure out our place in it all.

We're a couple of wanna-be hippies (me, more so than Steve) with a six year old kid (with Aspergers,) and a nearly three year old tornado-on-feet.  We live in a barn, that is older than everyone in this house put together (including the dog.) We live next to a river, in a valley, in the coolest place on earth (that I've ever seen.) We like to watch big movies, and make soap, and eat good food. We love being happy.

That's pretty much the basics.  Us in a nutshell.

So now, new family moto, since we've spent the past 8 years making all that happen? 

Own it.

Wanna be a semi-hippie, who lives on the river and makes soap?

Fine.  Own it.  

Don't mind if I do!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Some Kinda Heaven

My favorite mason jar. My new fingerless glove wrapped around it, inspiration for a knitting project. My favorite tea. Life is sweet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Morning

The whole family snuggles in the big bed. Giggles, and cuddles and kisses galore. Heaven on a Sunday morning.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I was late for work today, but I really wanted to stop and see the water.  So I did it anyway.  Got out of the car.  Took a picture, and a few very deep breaths of lake fresh air.  And then got back in my car and proceeded to rock the day.


"Hey Jansen," you might be saying, "whassup with the short little posts with pictures."  Well, reader, I'm glad you asked.  I'm hanging out with the Habit ladies this month.  And by hanging out, I mean creeping their sites and doing what they do. 

From Habit: Habit is a place to capture and celebrate the bits of our daily lives. it is our intention to make this capturing and celebration a habit, so we will be here regularly.  We'll be inviting friends to join us here. and in some small way, we are hoping to capture the collective life of a community of women who are artists and writers, photographers and bloggers, mothers and sisters and daughters and granddaughters, and thinkers and seers and wonderers. We believe that there will be something extraordinary about holding these pieces of life together in one place.

I really wanted to do NaBloPoMo this month, but just couldn't commit.  So this is a medium ground.  Posting every day, just a little bit, and with a photo if I can.  

Goals.  I has them.

No comment

It would appear, that my blog hated a bunch of you for a little while there, and wasn't letting you comment.  It would appear that the days of hate are over - I think I've fixed the little glitch, so comment away, mes amis!

(Bloggers love comments...they're like crack to us.  So go DO IT!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 7th

I sat here this afternoon in the bright 2pm sun; drank tea, cursed the dog for covering the windows in greasy nose prints, and thought about my Dad, who has been gone for 7 years today.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Growing up Brothers

My kids are dressed up as the Kratt brothers.  Griffin with his backpack, and Corbie with a little bag that used to hold binoculars.  Griffin has packed his bag with play dishes, food, (real) binoculars, and hot chocolate.  Corben packed his bag too, with one thing - pizza.

These are my children, in a nutshell.

Griffin? Prepared for any eventuality.

Corben?  Mostly just hungry.

They are headed to the North Pole, to look for Polar Bears. 

My children recently have begun to play with each other, instead of just being a pain in the ass to each other.  (Griffin being very sensitive, and Corben being an impish little monkey, who likes to push Griffin's buttons, and knows exactly where they are.)

But they're having fun together, and hanging out together. (Corben has maybe, just maybe, stopped destroying everything in his path?)

It's so lovely to see.

And even as I type this, it's decending into a right before bedtime disaster.  But usually it would have gone here an hour ago.

Now tears, gotta go.

But you get the picture...this is nice!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This Place

As the world sits rivited to their tv's and their twitter accounts (guilty!) watching a massive hurricane barrel down on the East Coast of the US, we sit here comfy in "this place."

This place?  Is magical.  You won't believe it until you see it in person, but it really truly is. 

We are "protected."  By the nature of the land (a valley) and by the goodness of the people that inhabit the land.

The Bank of Karma is not being hard hit by economic times.

That's not to say that crappy shit doesn't happen here, because it does.  But people work hard here for what they have.

We might be a little bit colder than you right now. (Most houses 'round here are heated by wood, which doesn't exactly run on a thermostat while you're gone for the day.  Or keep itself all stoked up and cozy while you sleep at night.) And we might not have as many other "creature comforts."  We're simple folk, and we like it that way, thankyouverymuch.

But we are out of the wind.  Out of the storm a little bit.  The literal and the the metaphorical storm. (Holy eff...on nights like these, I think of the wind up On the Roof.  Do you remember the wind on the Roof?  Hint: if you search the old blog for "wind," you come up with EIGHT PAGES of results!!  EIGHT.  Take that, Frankenstorm.)

You know what it is?  (I figured this out the other night, when, due to some serious back pain, I MIGHT have chased a bunch of Robaxacet with a bunch of Creemore Lager.  MIGHT, I said.  *ahem*)

Anywho...where were we?  Right, this place.

You know what it is about this place?  What it is that makes it magical?

It's that this place makes you beleive that anything is possible.  Or...that Anything Is Possible.

Yup, that's right.  True story.  Anything IS Possible.

All those dreams, those crazy ideas?

Here is a place to make it happen.

This place.



Sunday, October 28, 2012


It's taken me an entire week to put my thoughts onto paper (or computer, as it were) about the past weekend, and the Blissdom Canada conference that I attended last week.

It's awe inspiring, being among that many accomplished writers, and photographers, and business women, and AWESOME, all in one place.  And, it's also a little intimidating.

It took me a while to write about this whole experience, to find the right words, because I wanted them to be PERFECT.  I wanted them to be awesome.  And then I read someone else's words, about finding the gems in the crap, and that's when I though "eff it, just write it already, who cares if it's crap.  Maybe, just maybe, it'll be awesome."

So here it is:

Conferences like that, that shit is NOT easy for me.  But then I listened to Susan Cain talk, about the value of introverts, with about 80% of the room identifying as introverts, and I realized "I'm not alone here!" These are MY PEOPLE!  And how I wish that was the first thing I heard - I wish it was the opening keynote of the weekend, instead of some crappity crap presentation by Dove, about how their body wash (that contains SLS) is "caring" for your skin *cough*bullshit*cough*. I digress...that's another post to come.

The thing is, I was among people with similar interests to me.  There were other introverts, and other "green" mamas, and other mothers who could see my kids in theirs. There were fellow country folk, and people I knew in university, and someone that my dearest Gretel went to highschool with and hadn't seen in 20-something years. And of course, my dearest Gretel, my partner in crime for the journey. There were writers that I admired, photographers that I admired, and just some of the coolest Canadian women that there are out there on the internet.

And that alone is enough to get inspired from.  I don't dig the social events, but I can eat up infomation, and find inspiration in a lot of other people's words, and photos and accomplishments; and just the fact that I'm in the same room as them.  Heck, likely peeing next to them!  (Too much?  Sorry...)

I mentioned to someone at the opening night soiree, that I didn't dig brands, and the idea of working and writing for brands, instead of just writing for me.  They said "then why are you here?"

And I didn't really have to think about it.   I was there to connect with other people.  And to gather the tools to become a better writer.

And, let's be honest,  I was there to get some business inspiration, because I really beleive that everyone in the world should be using my soap...because it's pretty good soap.

So no matter how much I felt like a dork standing next to Tanis, clamming up like I'd swallowed my tounge, I try not to dwell on that, and look at the people I did connect with, and my goals for the conference.  I DID connect really well with some people, got to know some faces behind some names, and some new ones too.  I DID get some writing tools (even some from the super lovely Ali Martell.) And I even managed to talk to a few people about my soap. I made it to the opening party, not looking like I got hit by a tornado, and I had fun dressing up with some lovely ladies (although I would have happily skipped the costume party.)  I also managed to see some old friends along the way, at a late night impromptu stop at "the shop" - totally unrelated to Blissdom, but "cup filling" none the less.

And at the end of the day, I know that I stayed true to myself - I didn't try to be someone that I'm not.  I am shy, quiet, an introvert extrordinaire, who is much funnier on Facebook than I am in real life.  (True story.)  But I'm a good writer, and a good person, and the great thing is that I know that I'm not alone in ANY of this.

For me, knowing that is at least 51% of the battle.

Will I go back to Blissdom again next year?  You betcha.

After 7 years of blogging, I'm finally starting to find "my people."  Things have changed so much for us in the past year, and we finally feel like we're "home" in this new house and this new community, and it's so nice to start to feel that about this "Worlds Biggest Small Town" as well.

At the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto - a stunning and raw place to see. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Family Photos

A few weeks ago I met my friend Terri-Ann at the park with my three boys, along with her husband a and 4 children, for an exchange of family photos.  Both Terr-Ann and I are pretty handy with our cameras, so we thought what better way to capture some family photos.  Below are the results, and I'm thrilled!

One of the first shots, where everyone actually stood STILL.
Corben has had it after 3 minutes.  He's off.
The toddler sumo hold.  "You will stay here for this photo!"
One of my favourites, with rounded corners.  (I'm in love with rounded corners these days, I think it's the hippie in me.)

"Here, sit on Daddy's shoulders."  "No, I want to go over to Mama's shoulders."  Hilarity ensues.
Not sure what was happening here, but it's hilarious!
And then it went bad...
And then we lost Corben to the playground.  Alone, as the only child in the photos, Griffin decides to ramp it up a notch.
Photo bombed by a 6 year old.
How do we get rid of this crazy child? Hey...what's over THERE?
Humph...that worked well. Not.
And then we finally distracted him with juice, and got this gem:
We decided to try and move over to where Corben REALLY wanted to be, and get a few more shots.
OK, nevermind!

We had so much fun that I think we'll do this again next year.  Thanks Terri-Ann!!

(Back in the limelight, and ready to perform some more! Jump, monkey, jump!) 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thanksgiving, in a nutshell.

Oh the past few days have been a rollercoaster.  Or the past...however long it's been since I've been here last.  Feels like forever.  (Wait now, I have to go back and check.)  (Oh right, our picturesque walk on the Bruce Trail.  Lovely.)

Well since then we've welcomed October. (Hi, October!) 

And there was Thanksgiving.  On which I wasn't feeling particularly thankful. 

I was feeling angry, and emotional, sobby even.  As was everyone else in this house.  

And I've been staying away, not really knowing what to say about the whole thing.

It was one of the darkest days I've had in a long time. 

Dark, in that I didn't much like my kid. I didn't particularly care for myself either, nor did I feel particularly thankful for anything.

And I had no idea what the hell I was doing.  I felt lost.  I felt like I was supposed to be the fricking leader of the pack, and I had no idea which way to turn myself, never mind lead the rest of them.

In hindsight, the day wasn't all that bad.  We started with finishing the work on the basement that we had started the day before.  Drywall, and fun things like that.  It was actually really good.  I finished cleaning up the basement, Steve left for work, Mom took Corben for a walk, and then he fell asleep for a nap. 

And then Griffin lost his shit, followed closely by the rest of us. 

There was a lot of crying.  A lot of difficult parenting moments.  Some of them I rocked.  Some of them I sucked at. 

And at the end of it all, I was drained.  And felt like I was the one that needed help, as much as or more than my kid did. 

I saw a LOT of me in Griffin that day, and it was as terrifying as it was enlightening. 

And as fast as the insanity began, it was over. 


Monday, was a new day.

I was DETERMINED to make it better. 

I put bread in the bread maker.  Lunch, taken care of.  (Lets not talk about the bread that didn't really rise properly and ended up being a small brick of flour rather than a large loaf of bread, m'kay?) 

I put dinner in the crockpot. 

And then I focused on taking care of the kids, and taking care of me, and just ENJOYING the day.

And it worked.  

Despite the fact that the shitty part of Sunday is what sticks out in my mind, overall it was pretty decent, and I did learn a few things.  We ARE going to be ok.  This ISN'T going to be easy...few things worth having actually ARE.  This family, my children, this house, our home, THIS needs to be my focus right now.  Everything else is secondary.

Because without all that, this family, our home?

I would be even MORE lost than I felt that day. 

I may not know what the hell I am doing all the time.  (OK, most of the time.)  But I do know that I  am thankful to be given the chance to try,  and have this opportunity to figure it all out.  I'm thankful for my husband for working extra hard so I CAN take care of our home and our children, and for my Mom for coming to the rescue when we need a helping hand.  (And just being here...which kept me from TOTALLY going off the deep end, in the name of Trying to Keep My Shit Together.) I'm also thankful for this community, who has welcomed us with the widest of open arms, and is ALWAYS willing to lend a hand, as often as we are willing to ask for one.

I am grateful for all that we have, and the chance to make it into even more.

Thanksgiving in a nutshell.  A big, emotional nutshell.

Oh what fun!  ;)


Sunday, September 30, 2012

A hiking we will go

A quick hike on the Bruce Trail this morning reaffirmed my desire to hike the entire trail, end to end.  It's on my bucket list, and I'm going to start next fall (or maybe in the spring.)  The first chunk would start in Niagara, and I'd like to think I could do a quarter of it in those 10 days (that's about 20km/day over 10 days) finishing up somewhere around Georgetown. (The entire trail is 885km from Niagara Falls to Tobermory.)   It also reaffirmed my decision NOT to invite the kids, if I ever want to hike the whole thing before I turn 85!  There are certainly some logistics to figure out, but I'm going to start planning it this winter.

And...I'm looking for a buddy to do it with...anybody want to come?