Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Garden Harvest Fresh

It's so hard to grasp that summer's end is already here.  The familiar sound of school buses have been heard in our neighborhood, and with that means that harvest season is here! 

My Gooseberry Patch wall calendar (above) features one of my many summer loves - Farmers Markets!  I live in the country (well the 'burbs, technically) but work in the city...so no matter where I go, there are wonderful farmers markets to be found!  We look forward to them each week, not only for farm fresh produce (which is locally grown - so much better for you to know where your food is coming from - and also to support your local farmers), but also for beautiful plants, herbs, honey, freshly baked pies and cakes, and beautiful flowers! 

One of my adorable farm farm tea towels - perfect for this time of year!

Farm fresh dinnerware is perfect!

More garden fresh tea towels ~ I love these with the recipes on them.

With the abundance of garden produce available on store shelves, from backyard gardens and farmers markets, there's virtually no excuse for not eating healthy this time of year!   Our vegetable garden is brimming with yummy veggies and herbs, just ripe for the picking.

Plump garden pumpkins are growing in anticipation of fall!

Each evening the air has been just a tad cooler, with that certain unexplainable nip in the air that whispers the season is about to change.  A few scattered leaves pepper the lawns...some of which have already begun to change their color.

And with the calendar page about to turn to September, I've been gradually pulling out my favorite fall books to dream and plan :)

Curled up in the backyard with seasonal ideas swirling around in my head, I'm just overjoyed that my favorite season of all is nearly here - AUTUMN

With fall brings so many things that I love: cheery pumpkins, cozy soft throws, colorful leaves crunching underfoot, savory comfort foods to warm the soul,  fun holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, chilly evenings spent around a bonfire, seasonal scents of apple and pumpkin pie,  blustery autumn winds, and warm, toasty sweaters. 

Sigh....pure bliss!  :)

Don't you love our little backyard campfire sign?

As I sit by the giant sunflowers swaying in my garden and let my mind wander, poring over fall magazines filled with inspiration, I realize just how special this time of year is!  There's something so thrilling about the fall and a start of a brand new school year ahead... so many possibilities...so many new adventures await!

I hope you're taking time to savor this exciting time of year and all the beauty of the season.

What are you looking forward to this fall?  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer Dreams

While I apologize that my blog has been stagnate for much of the summer, we've been having so much fun offline that I neglected to share with all of you.  I always say that just as we bloggers love our photo ops, we should also love life ops!  And some of the favorite life ops are so special and fleeting that I just want to savor them - and not take the time to document them to share.

One of the adventures that I do want to share was one we had this summer to fulfil a lifelong dream of mine. 

Don't ask me why, and yes it may sound silly, but I've always wanted to see a moose in the wild!  So my sweet husband took us to Algonquin Provincial Park in Whitney, Ontario so we could try to spot moose :)

I'd been told that there was a good likelihood of seeing them - but the chances were better either early in the morning or at dusk.  We didn't arrive until early afternoon so I was a feeling a bit worried.  I think my husband thought we didn't have much of a chance at all, but he tried to keep me optimistic.

But just spotting one of these moose crossing signs (below) along the road made my heart skip a beat! 

We stopped to picnic and enjoy one of the lakes - not to mention the incredible, breathtaking view! 

There's something so majestic about mountains and lakes.  I decided then and there that I needed to win the lottery so I could build a beautiful cabin somewhere in the mountains and retire!   :)

After our picnic, we continued on throughout the park on my quest.  Just when I was feeling rather discouraged and ready to give up, I saw it!  In the brush along the road...a LARGE dark animal!!!!!  It could only be one thing!!  


Not just one - but two of them!!!

Maybe I'm strange, but I think they're just incredible to behold! 

We didn't just get to see moose though,

we also spotted a cute beaver working on its dam...

a beautiful painted turtle lounging on a rock...

and this sometimes rare to be seen American Bittern...

My son, the little naturalist, enjoyed everything! 
We took him on a hike and he was amazing - didn't miss a beat!

I love encouraging him to appreciate nature!

There's so much beauty all around us.
If we don't take time to stop and be still once in awhile, we just might miss it.

Taking family trips to soak in nature's splendors is a summer MUST.

It's so important to take all of those opportunities and make the most of them.
Taking a dip in the lake in the afternoon...

It was so hard to leave, but we promised ourselves that we'd be back...
and we will!

Because the memories we made will last a lifetime. 

and I finally got to see my moose!!

I hope your summer dreams came true, too :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fostering Creativity

I lost my mom to cancer when I was a teenager, but her many lessons of love, nurturing, and creativity keep her memory vividly alive in my heart.  She always stressed the importance of art and creativity with children. 

Before they can even write, read or speak, children have an innate desire to express themselves.  Coloring, drawing, scribbling and creating allow children to have a safe outlet to communicate their innermost thoughts and feelings. 

Our home is filled with things to foster a little one's imagination and creativity.  In every nook and cranny, you can find books, easels, arts and craft supplies, paper, etc... so I was absolutely tickled pink to find a couple of treasures at garage sales this month to help organize our creative endeavors!

Just in time for back-to-school,
I came across these adorable items at local garage sales:

For just $2.00 I found an adorable pencil table that holds three shelves of creative supplies.   The nearly matching, little pencil-legged stools I purchased separately at another garage sale for $3.00.  How adorable for a child to sit on while leafing through a favorite activity book.

Designating a little area for arts and crafts not only keeps things nicely organized, but it also creates an appealing place that encourages little ones to explore and create.  You don't need special furniture to make an aesthetically pleasing craft corner - even a simple bookcase filled with containers of markers, stickers, crayons and colored pencils will more than suffice. 

An inexpensive Phineas and Ferb bucket from Target's dollar section holds colorful markers.
Stores are having awesome back-to-school supply deals right now which makes this the perfect time to stock up!  Set out buckets, cans, baskets and containers of glue sticks, papers, activity books, paper, folders, notepads, rulers, crayons, markers, etc.... all within easy reach for your kids to find. 

Empty aluminum cans (with the labels removed and the sharp edges bent under) make great little containers for holding markers and pencils.  Target's dollar section always has mini buckets, as well as other plastic containers, too.  Tin lunchboxes and pencil boxes can hold a variety of items.   

The idea is to make it accessible, colorful, and fun! 

With school starting soon, we want our kids to be enthusiastic about returning to the classroom.  As parents we want our kids to shut off the TV and do something that nurtures their development.  What child doesn't enjoy creating something of their very own? 

Simple mini bucket filled with colorful crayons

So as the summer winds down and you're out and about shopping for back-to-school supplies, pick up a few extra while the deals are hot, and create your own special spot for your kids to color, draw, and paint.  So when the temps get too cold or the weather is too harsh to venture outdoors, your kids will have somewhere extra wonderful to retreat to instead of on the couch in front of the TV :)


this post is part of Making the World Cuter Monday.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Holiday Planning

There are two things you should know about me: 

1.  I'm a born planner 
2.  I adore the holidays

I know, I know - you don't even want to think about back-to-school let alone Christmas
Believe me, I completely and wholeheartedly understand.


Planning ahead makes life SO much simpler!

Maybe it's due to working full-time and being stretched for time, but I always try to plan ahead. 
My friends and family jokingly call it seasonal schizophrenia,
 but it's not uncommon for me to be shopping and planning for events and holidays
months in advance. 

With a preschooler and a career, I have to stayed organized!

First, take assessment.

Dig out last year's Christmas photos and for 30 minutes, reflect on what worked well for your family - what needs improvement?  Were you too stretched for time?  Didn't budget well? 

Well the good news is that it's still early enough for you to develop a plan for this holiday season!

Second, make a plan.

I've found that keeping a holiday journal can be so helpful.
Your journal can be as ornate or simplistic as you'd like.

In it, you can keep a record of everything to keep you on track:

  • Calculator
  • Budget (for gifts, cards, wrappings)
  • Shopping lists (sizes, wish lists, fav. items)
  •  Calendar (events, when to ship gifts, send cards, party plans, cleaning)
  • Recipes (tried-and-true and wanting to try)
  • Decorating ideas
  • Record of last year's decor (what to purchase, where it's stored, how it was laid out)

There are many websites to help you set a plan for everything from budgeting
to cleaning schedules so your house is picture perfect. 

I've found that it's so much easier to do things when you set goals for yourself.  

Summer is the perfect time to off-season shop for the holidays
While everyone else is shopping for back-to-school,
look online for great deals on holiday items! 

Want to try out a particular craft or idea that you've seen on Pinterest
Now is the ideal time to find those ideas you've been aching to try,
 buy the materials and get to work!

Love handmade items but you're not crafty?
Summer and fall are the seasons for craft festivals,
 tag/yard/garage sales, and outdoor markets of all kinds.
Check out sites like Etsy to commission artisans to create those unique,
handcrafted, one-of-a-kind items
that your friends and family will cherish and adore.

Want an adorable photography card of your family this year?
Good photographers get booked well in advance.
This is a great time to book early.
If you're taking the photos yourself, start gathering ideas for location/outfits/poses.

With a little pre-planning now, you'll find that your holidays can be much less stressful,
much more enjoyable and a whole lot more fun!!