Knit one, knead a little

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It has been a really long time since I have written much at all.  Aside from Instagram blips here and there I really haven’t found myself with the urge to write.  Perhaps a lack of inspiration, the winter blahs and a bit of just not knowing which direction I am heading have held me back.

In January my right arm began to ache from constantly knitting in awkward positions and by early February it forced me to stop and pause.  Being away from knitting left me feeling exceptionally displaced – now what?  I needed a way to slow myself down and clearly knitting was becoming more of a hurried to do that I was causing myself pain.

In search of something new to try out I spent far too many hours on Instagram and Pinterest.  I dabbled in a few new hobbies but most were duds (to me not in life) and quite costly in a time when I really need to do my best to keep things affordable.  Single income living for a family of four is incredibly challenging.  Factoring in the above failed attempts and need to practicality I narrowed my search down.

Cue the bread baking madness that has consumed my life!  I got my hands on a copy of Bonnie Ohara’s book Bread Baking for Beginners, grabbed some of the basics from her super helpful supply list located in her profile on Instagram (linked to her website that is full of info) and just kind of dove in to it all.  The book eased me in to the art of making bread, instructing in a way that just makes sense to my directionally challenged mind.

One by one I worked my way through Bonnie’s book while following her journey on Instagram and something about it all just felt… like home.  Suddenly I had bread goals – sourdough and beyond!  Visions of feeding my family and friends deliciously healthy breads baked with love.

I never anticipated baking much more then muffins for my children but our budget wasn’t allowing the fresh handmade breads I wanted my family to enjoy and this was the solution – making it myself!  I was already accustomed to sourcing local foods including flours from places like Oak Manor and Arva Flour Mills so I knew I had basic good quality nutrient dense ingredients on hand to give it my absolute best shot.

One by one I worked my way through Bonnie’s book while following her journey on Instagram.  Something about it all – the way she communicates her passion and her story, her love for community – all of it… it feels like home.  Suddenly I have bread goals as I work through sourdough experiments and beyond!  Visions of feeding my family and friends deliciously healthy breads baked with love.

I’ve since been able to return to knitting and am now happily balancing the pair with all of my other life duties.  I am incredibly thankful for stumbling in to the bread life and will continue to grow and challenge myself with it as I do with knitting.

I have no idea where I am headed in any of it but I am thoroughly enjoying every stitch and every fold as I go along.

If you have any interest in bread baking I highly recommend Bread Baking for Beginner’s.  This is my honest to goodness opinion with no strings attached.  Bonnie is good people and deserves all the love.

JESSICA

Links to the above mentioned businesses:

Alchemy Bread Website

Arva Flour Mill Website

Oak Manor Website

* Both Arva and Oak Manor Flour can be purchased direct from the businesses or from retailers such as the Mustard Seed Coop in Hamilton, Ontario.  Cake and Loaf Bakery in Hamilton also carries a handful of Oak Manor items in their Dundurn shop.

 

 

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Starting a new chapter – Why saying goodbye to our truck is so hard

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I may have just spent a solid 10min sitting in the drivers seat of our truck in the driveway with tear-filled eyes and a heavy heart.  It might be strange to you but for me it is letting go of almost a decade of adventures.

Our truck was just my other half, Pauls, for a couple of years.  He bought it when it was 4yrs old; 2yrs before he met me.  11yrs ago to this date it officially became his – funny how things work out.  Initially he looked at others that were larger with a smaller cab but ultimately decided on this – now old – gal.  The truck that is 😉 .

Together living our rather laid back dating lives we went everywhere in it.  My vehicles were always less than ideal so the truck was the “good” vehicle.  Seasons came and went and eventually it would be driving my pregnant self to OB appointments when I was pregnant with Lilah and midwife appointments when I was pregnant with Max.  We brought both of our babies home from the hospital in the truck.  It took them up north for vacation for the first time among so many other firsts for the kids and it took my beloved pups places too.  In fact the truck also brought Wally home to us.

The past 2yrs I have driven it as my daily driver which has meant taking the kids everywhere in it on PA days, holidays, summer vacation and everything in between.

I have been over the moon happy in that truck, I have also cried parked behind the wheel when times have been tough.  So much happened during the time we have had it.  Perhaps that is what this sense of loss really is – recognizing times past.

Now the truck is full of a lifetime of marks left by us and our travels.  Cracks and rust, tears and leaks – it’s aged much like we do.  As much as I would love to hold on to it until it falls apart in the driveway that isn’t very practical.

Last week we brought home our new to us vehicle and it’s time to officially part ways with the truck.  It’s time to take pictures of all it’s quirks with my mind and smile.  It’s time to let go and move on.

Here’s to the memories.  Here’s to the next chapter of our lives!

JESSICA

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the basics

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We are already in to 2018 and so far I have been rather productive!  I am not a traditional resolution maker – in the past I have just disappointed myself after failing 3wks in to a new year and who needs that?!  So I set a mental goal list instead.  One that is loose and flexible so it is almost always obtainable.

This year my goals involve making wearable items.  I intend to knit a pair of socks and knit or sew one wearable item a month.  These things can be started in the previous months, can be larger items like pants or smaller like a hat (which I need) but the idea is I will wind up with a solid collection of handmade items to choose from at the end of the year!

January has been full of handmade.  I completed my Sew House Seven toaster sweater with a gorgeous knit I bought at Needlework, and I knitted a pair of socks and a scarf out of gorgeous Canadian hand dyed yarn from Hello Stella.  Here’s hoping I can keep up the pace!

Aside from making I also intend to me more mindful of items I purchase.  Do I need it?  How was it manufactured?  Is the carbon footprint created in it’s process really worth it?  These are the questions I am asking myself.

As a single income family it is a challenge as things made in a more ethical and environmentally sensitive fashion also come with a larger but well justified price tag.  That is where making comes in handy and shopping second hand.  Thinking of each and every item as a carefully selected piece vs just another “thing”.

We are a wildly stuff driven society and I have become accutely aware of this issue as a consumer.  When the kids were babies I was completely caught up in the “oh I need that” realm of baby world but ultimately we used maybe an eighth of what we had.  And we were broke with a bunch of useless stuff.

Having school age children can make things a little harder.  They see what their friends have and it makes you feel like they should have them too.  I am guilty of this.  So when I am out and about I might grab that package of miniature whatever’s the kids might like but I am learning to put it back more often than not.  It isn’t always easy but I remind myself that it isn’t this “stuff” they will remember anyhow.  It is the moments.  The card games.  The late night movies.  Those are the things I really remember from my own childhood and I know it’s what my children will reflect on when they too are grown.

Writing is something I also intend to make more time for.  I have a sweet project in the works with a dear friend and have already submitted my Spring 2018 article for Live Small Town Magazine!  I look forward to seeing where my written works lead me in the year ahead.

Lets not forget about nature!  Getting outdoors amongst the trees, chirping birds, beautiful landscape and enjoying the peaceful solitude.  I intend to turn to nature more this year for inspiration, it has a lot to offer and is so good for the soul.

Making things, mindful consumption, more writing and getting back to nature is a great way to summarize my 2018 vision and so far I’m off to a great start!

I hope January is treating you well!

JESSICA

 

 

November Hustle

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How did we get here?!  November already!  October was full of fall activities – pumpkin walk at the RBG and picking the perfect pumpkins to carve at this sweet little pumpkin patch were our favourites… well next to Halloween of course!  The kids loved dressing up and trekking house to house to collect treats.

This month making madness begins as I knit, crochet, sew and plan the perfect gifts for the people around me!  I’m hoping to involve Lilah and Max more in the process of spreading joy this year.  They both love to create and share as much as I do so I’m sure it will be a lot of fun for them!

Added in to the mix of my usual creating and mom life is planning a collaborative project with one of my dearest friends.  Since high school we imagined working side by side at some point so this is extra exciting.  It’s basically a dream come true for me and I can’t wait to watch it all unfold!

I also recently submitted my section for the Live Small Town Magazine’s Winter issue so stay tuned for that!

Lots of things going on my way this month, if you follow my instagram you will see bits and pieces as I go.

I hope that November treats you well!

JESSICA

 

 

 

Days like this

The other morning I was startled awake to Max’s cries.  He was sick and a mess so I sleepily stumbled in to the bedroom to assess the situation.  After getting him cleaned up and settled we headed back to sleep only to be woken up by the alarm clock for school 20min later.  Once again I picked myself out of bed and helped Lilah get ready for school and out the door in a timely fashion.

I’m not a morning person by any means.  I’m also not a night person since having kids… I fall somewhere in between.  10am until maybe 5pm is when I meet my best self.  All other hours have varying levels of exhaustion.  Having a sick child just adds another bump in the morning routine which lucky for us isn’t that smooth as is.

As hard as these days can be I am actually kind of thankful for them.  On these days several positives happen.  One being that I am forced to slow things down.  All plans get cancelled or rearranged and I’m ok with that.  It also gives me the time to snuggle and tend to whomever is under the weather and well… one day I know they won’t be so interested in having their mommy wipe their nose or tend to their fevers.

Kindness matters

FullSizeRender 23A year ago on October 18th was one of the hardest days of my life.  It was the day we had to say goodbye to my old boy Toby.  In what had already been a year packed full of heart ache with the loss of our old girl on the 4th of April, finding out that our time with Toby was limited and everything in between – I was pretty broken.  The thing is, to me, dogs are much more than just an animal.  They are my people and if I being completely honest I prefer them to most humans.  The unconditional love dogs offer us just can’t be replaced and so losing my companion of 16yrs changed me in ways I didn’t anticipate.

Two days after Toby passed away I walked in to one of my favourite coffee shops – Cake and Loaf (who knew 😉 ).  I was trying my damnedest to keep it together but I just couldn’t.  Tears just fell despite my best efforts to keep them in and I told the lovely soul behind the counter about my loss.  I didn’t expect anything but what I received was irreplaceable. Sincere and heart felt condolences.  My feelings were validated and I felt human again for the first time since I said my goodbyes…  Really for the first time in the longest year of my life.

What this wonderful human did not know is that even before this moment she was already a part of my story.  I had been in many times before feeling wretched on the inside but smiling on the outside and was always treated with complete and authentic kindness.  It’s that kindness I received from her and some other fantastic staff that have kept me coming back especially on my worst days.  Those are the days when they really make a difference without even knowing it.

Life moves onward and things change but we make these connections with each other all of the time.  Sometimes they last only in that minute and others carry through for a life time.  I used to think I didn’t really need a whole bunch of friends and maybe that is so but one thing I have learned is how valuable our relationships with one another are, both big and small.  I know that my words and actions toward others really can make a difference because those of others have forever changed my life.

People come and go from one another life.  Sometimes we are pulled apart and separated for years only to find each other again at what seems to be just the right time.  Some people stay away forever while others never leave.  All of these moments matter though, all of these people matter.  They are part of our next painting, article or song – we carry them with us always in this beautiful chaotic life.

I never expected to find friendship while buying coffee but I most definitely did.

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