My Favourite Blogs

If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I’m an avid reader. I will rip through scores of books on various topics. There is nothing quite like the experience of reading a great book. For me it’s like going on a new adventure, literally like I’ve taken a trip and come back to share about the journey.

Though I love actual books, I love to read blogs too. I’ve included a list of blogs that I would categorize as reading on a regular basis. I hope you’ll check them out and that you find something interesting, inspiring or encouraging, as I have.

For Reflection

A Holy Experience – Ann VosKamp… what can I say? She’s Canadian, she’s authentic in her delivery.Her books are great.  I appreciate her lifestyle. She lives on a farm, loves her family, embraces the rustic, has a huge world view, she homeschools… though I don’t embrace all of her theology, her thoughts on grace and gratitude (Eucharistia) are hands down paradigm shifting. If she’s got a new post, I take the time and read it.

Beyond Evangelical – Frank Viola… his writings on the New Testament church and God’s Eternal Purpose rocked my world. Literally, I think I systematically read everything he wrote on that subject. (maybe 15 books? I don’t remember specifics, but now when I refer in mind to one thing, I can’t remember which book it came from, they are all like one giant book mushed up in my brain. Good thing I own most of them so I can go back for reference) – I must note at this point that I also read through almost everything Gene Edwards wrote on the same subject, though his were written in semi-fictitious form. Good for left-right brain development. Anyways, back to the blog, I love that he is not afraid to ask many questions, but unlike Rob Bell, he at least points you to where to find the answers, if not attempting to share his own thoughts first. He’s also not afraid to take heat and to be controversial. I read his blog because it makes me think.

Disrupting Culture – The husband and I have only discovered Jonathon Welton recently, but we’ve been gobbling up his stuff on the blog and youtube and his books. As students of the New Covenant it’s refreshing to find resources that embrace a) sound doctrine  b) the supernatural  c) the grace of God and walking in our identity in Christ d) putting the great commission in action. Often you can find some of these things, but less often do you find them all in one.

Life In Grace – I don’t remember how I got connected to Edie’s blog. But shortly after following this blog, she and her family lost everything in a house fire a couple days before Christmas. I was moved by the outpouring of support from the internet and ultimately the depth of her writing following such devastation…I’ve been hooked ever since. She’s got a great style, posts awesome recipes (many I’ve tried and added to my repertoire), she’s a Lutheran and classical reader, former homeschooler and has that southern charm that draws you back again and again.

Shauna Niequist – My sister turned me on to Shauna. Love her blog, though it’s sporadic, her books are awesome and after you’ve read one of her books, you feel like she’s a friend, so you read her blog because it’s like catching up with a friend.

Homefries – I must clarify that this is not a blog, though you can link to blogs from this site. I love this site because it features several podcasts on a variety of subjects from a variety of people. I particularly love the interviews with Tsh Oxenreider. Podcasts are great for listening to while working in the kitchen.

For Fun

Pioneer Woman – Started reading Ree Drummond’s posts years ago after a friend recommended her. I guess  a lot of people like her food posts (which I admit are pretty awesome) – I do own one of her cookbooks and love it, but I honestly love her Confessions blog. It just makes me laugh. She’s got some great stories about her life on a ranch in Oklahoma. She’s had so many embarassing things happen to her, it seems impossible…but oh it’s funny.

Home with Boys – Honestly I just started reading her blogs because she has 3 boys and started homeschooling around the same time as me. I’ve since come to find her simple approach to life refreshing.

Martha Stewart – I honestly just read Martha’s blog to see how “the other side lives” – you know, the fabulously rich… Plus I get great tips on gardening, etc from her posts.

For the Heart & Home

AKA Design – this husband and wife team are Canadian. They live not far away, so they have the same harsh Canadian winters, the same weird summers, celebrate Thanksgiving at the same time, etc. etc.  They do a lot of DIY projects that are totally do-able for people like me, she’s got great style and is super organized. Plus she homeschools… that’s inspiring to me. There’s also a personal connection as I’m very good friends with her sister, so even though I don’t think I’ve ever met them in person, I feel like I know them.

Nesting Place – I’d followed this blog for a few years. I loved her philosophy and style…but then sort of drifted off for a bit. Then about a year and a bit ago they bought this run down old house on a great property with an even more run down barn. They shared their vision for it all, and slowly have been making it happen and I’m hooked with renewed interest.

The Inspired Room – to be honest, I just started following her because she seemed to love fall as much as me, and then I got hooked. I love her style and decorating philsophy. She’s has tremendous success in the world of home decor, and though I don’t aspire to have her home, I do appreciate the love she has for her home, and would like to continue to grow in that same kind of appreciation for my own.

New House New Home – Another Canadian not far from here. I love her gardening posts especially, but she shares some really great home projects too.

Living Well Spending Less – As the title implies, it has a plethora of tips on saving money while living well. The organizational resources are pretty awesome too.

For Food – I primarily go to pinterest for food recipes, but once in awhile I’ll find a blogger who I love to read their thoughts on food…as well as the recipes.

 Six Sisters – I was drawn to the name. They have very frequent posts and are adaptable.

Simple Bites – Another Canadian. I love her lifestyle, her passion is evident. The recipes are delish but not so crazy that you don’t want to try them. She’s got a great philosophy for bringing kids into the kitchen and they totally embrace the urban homesteading concept. Love!

Homeschooling – I peruse many other blogs on homeschooling, but most of them are very sporadic and don’t necessarily apply to what we’re doing at home. There are many many sites that I use often, but these are the top 3 for now. I will probably do a post on these resources and more on the Heaslip Homestead Academy soon.

Half a Hundred Acre Wood – I love this blog. She’s a classical homeschooler, and though we aspire to incorporate classical elements, we are not. I still find it inspiring and love their philosophy. Her organization is pretty great too.

 The Canadian Homeschooler – lot’s of great resources for homeschoolers in Canada. Frequent posts and current content.

The Unlikely Homeschool – for those who don’t homeschool. It’s super easy and at the same time the most difficult thing I’ve ever tackled. So I will find as many support resources as I can. For me, this site is one of them.

My Garden in August 2013

 Reflections on the Garden…
This is a super long post (mostly pics again). I could have broken it up into several smaller posts, but honestly then it wouldn’t get done at all. I’m more likely to be out in the garden than at my computer, and with the kids and summer in full swing, I’m fortunate to actually be posting at all 🙂 
I have LOVED working in my garden this year. It’s been a great growing year, and I’ve loved watching the plants thrive throughout our property. Last week we spent about 4 solid days outside ripping out dying trees, transplanting, planting new ones, weeding, trimming, etc. We’re quite happy with our work and hope that all the new trees “take” in their new home. Thankfully, we can get replacements at very low cost quite easily.
Here’s the garden back in June/July…
Front Beds…
 The Yarrow needs a friend… any suggestions? 
I’ve wondered about Russian Sage, or another perennial?
The Knock Out Rose is delish – we decided to plant a Yellow Knock Out in the back this summer.


 Water Feature in Sunroom…all the hydrangeas are thriving. 
Endless Summers (Blue and Pink), Limelghts (giant teardrop Green-Whites) and Annabelles.
The Rose in here may need to find a new home. 
We’ve not done much in here as we have long term plans 
to re-do this whole room as part of a deck project.
Here’s an example of the Endless Summer’s before they all were picked for centerpieces…

Rose Garden…

The giant pinks roses are Memorial Days, the Fuscia Standard are knock Outs and the one in the yellow pot is our Yellow Knock Out to be planted. The Perennials are Heucheria, Poppies, Daisies and some ground covers I forget the name of. The front standard is a flowering crabapple.

Perennial Bed

Love the yellows – daylilies, primrose, and I forget the others right now. 
Yet to bloom are Purple Phlox and Daisies. 
They always look nice nestled in amongst the 
Japanese Maple/ Blue Spruce and Lavender Twist.

Lovers Garden (see the anniversary bench)

Next Spring a bunch of these perennials will need to be divided.

 Veggie Garden…
               (Look at the size of that burn pile in the back!)

I’m excited to be growing potatoes for the first time this year!

 Herb Garden

I have enough mint to last til Kingdom Come! 
Peppermint, 2 kinds of oregano, sage, 2 kinds of thyme, lavender, chives, 
rosemary, lemon balm & sorrel

A couple of surprises…

I thought we lost this rosebush last year.
When we trimmed the lilac earlier this summer, it gave these guys room to grow.

And now in August…
Front Porch…

I must remember what these yellow plants are in the boxes, I love them. 
I also LOVE my geraniums. The potato plants did well as expected. 

Front Bed

I had been given Cana Lilies and put them in behind the yarrow for now. 
They’ll find a new home next year where I can really highlight them. 

Upstairs Balcony Boxes

Had to show these because they are doing so well!

Looking down on Rose Garden and Perennial Beds

Post edging, multching, trimming, etc. This was in between the Memorial Days blooms. 
All our roses give consecutive blooms straight through til early November.

 Looking Down on Veggie and Herb Gardens

The big plum tree by the sandbox is now gone. We’ll be planting 2 apple trees on that side of the yard. Look at that crazy herb garden!

Up close…

 the mint is going CRAZY and the lemon balm… ugh.

 The Creeping Jenny is doing nicely

 Beans – Bush and Pole

 Zucchinim – we’ve already harvested 3 good sized ones.

Potatoes – love! I will be doing these again. 
We’ve already harvested 2 basket fulls and there’s lot’s more.

 Cucumbers (almost lost them, but they came back) and broccoli

Kale, romaine, Chard, Beets, Cabbage – we lost our spinach 😦

Another view…


Sunflowers and Corn for Decor.
And happiness – PUMPKINS!



We planted an English Oak tree back here at the corner of the garden.

 We added gravel to the walkways

Lover’s Garden

The clematis flowered this year. I put up the trellis late, so hopefully next year it’ll grow taller. 
Love my phlox and daisies! The cold snap made the tips of our burning bush turn red.

 Back of House Before the trimming…

 and after…

Rose of Sharon
I have a love-hate relationship with these beauties. They are gorgeous and bloom when so little else does, they thrive pretty much anywhere, but they also reseed – EVERYWHERE. So I’ve become selective where they can be planted.

 Side of House

The Iris did nicely this year, In fact, I was quite happy with this little hidden gem of a garden.

 New Planting in front in shared dividing bed with neighbour – Cedars and Hydrangea Standard.

Now for mulch or some kind of ground cover to keep the weeds under control.
That’s all for now. You may or may not hear about the garden again this year 🙂

My Garden in May 2013

Garden in May 2013 – Part 1 – Veggie Garden
It’s that time of year again. After about a month of working in the yards we see the end in sight. We still need to plant some shrubs and finish a few areas here and there, but overall, we’re happy with the progress this year. The veggies seem to be starting out well, but we’ll see how potatoes grow ( our first try) and the pumpkins (we’ve tried 5 years now and only suceeded 2 times to harvest a pumpkin). We still have seedling that need to eventually find a growing home, 
but I’m not worried – everything always works out.
First we got 3 yards of triple mix to work into the beds that had been weeded.
The quince Tree in Bloom
Rhubarb Patch got thinned and the darned horseradish grew back!
It’s basically all planted, just waiting for the sprouts so we can set up the stakes, etc.

Good old Herb’s patch is abounding… Greek Oregano, Italian Oregano, Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Mint, Peppermint, Sage, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Sorrel and tonnes of chives…and creeping rosemary.

New Potatoes, Zucchini and Beans (raspberries and strawberries in background)
I plan on having the beans and zucchini grow “up” – it worked wonderfully well last year. Next year I think we need to rethink our strawberry patch location.

Cucumbers, Ground Cherries, Kale, Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Beets, Romaine & Spinach

Multiplier Onions and Spanish Onions (corn in back ground)

Garden in May 2013 – Part 2 – Flower Gardens
This year we changed our multch colour to black and LOVE it.
Rose & Perennial Gardens Before the Multch 
After – so nice and tidy now
we plan on adding a few shrubs in here and replacing one of the rose bushes that died with a yellow knockout rose. Also the ninebark from last year will be replaced.

Before – the flowering crabapple standard – perfection. 
Poppies, Heuchera and Memorial Day Roses look kind of sad on the multch free beds.
The Peonies in this bed may need to be relocated, they are hidden by the giant rose bush…
After – everything pops.

Before – the Lavender Twist looked amazing! Also, a burning bush, phlox, daylilies, forget-me-nots, primrose, sweet william and a few i can’t remember in front of the jap maple and daisies.
Before – that little shot of yellow is a climbing impatient(?) 
After – lots of hostsas, yarrow, poppies, grasses, ground covers around our anniversary bench and rhododendron under the mulberry tree.
The Sunroom Cleaned Up – we “forgot” to trim up the hydrangea’s last fall and they are now GIGANTIC – woopsie!
Back of House Before
Jap Maple, Holly (we’ll move these in the fall); Dogwood, Sedum…
After – we’re replacing this overgrown Daphne, you can glimpse the azalea (red) here too.

Side Yard – burning bush standard, climbing boxwood, a rose bush that’s coming out (never ever flowers); peonies, lilac, snowball hydrangea, iris (purple, yellow and dwarf blues) also a few lilies, Another rose, a rose of sharon, more peonies and a wisteria that also won’t die. I think we may have lost our hollyhocks too. 
Back After Ariel View
Front Yard & Step – Before
We still have a lot of work up here. We removed the sumac (it was too fast a grower) and so the yarrow got huge. I planted some Canalilies here too – we may move the hollys here in the fall. Mums will fill in here too and a couple sedums and the knockout rose. In the distance is our weeping lilac standard.

After – moved some more indoor plants out and added another geranium. This will get more tweeking throughout the summer.
Balcony – I moved the sitting area furniture up here, and planted our heirloom tomatoes, 3 kinds of peppers and tender herbs (rosemary, parsley, dill and basil) and flowers (geraniums, gerberas and annuals). We also have the seedlings for cauliflower, broccoli, boston lettuce and leeks up here.
Found these 2 metal shelves at a garage sale. Looks nice up here I think.

That’s it folks. Loving my gardens – still have lots of planting to do (mostly replacing trees and shrubs though – update to follow) and then it’s just ENJOY, ENJOY, ENJOY 🙂 How is your garden growing?

Catching Up on 2012 since we’re well into 2013

Catching Up Part One

These next posts are the “catching up” that I mentioned over 2 months ago when I was on here last. Truth be told, I finally have a working computer, so blogging will be easier and faster and hopefully I will get caught up quickly because it feels like I’ve missed so much time. I’m doing these catch ups primarily for myself because I use this blog as a memory journal for myself and our family. If it happens to inspire/ bless others it is a wonderful bonus.

1.  Our Summer Wrap Up

I realized I pretty much covered our summer in the August 30th Post. Summer finished out in a whirl and the Koreans finally returned home 🙂 it was a challenge to have them, but looking back I probably still would have done it.    

Emma and Kate’s final Presentation host families.

We ended out the season with the annual Marconi Labour Day soiree and lots of visiting with friends, return trips to Zooz and Marineland and enjoying the outdoors as the heat and humidity gave way.

2.  Our Fall
We started the fall hesitantly as we were never sure when the baby would arrive. School and soccer continued until after she was born… 

Soccer Champs

I pretty much closed out the gardens in September… 

A small sampling of our harvest.

and started decorating inside the house…. 

2. The Baby 

I will be posting a very big post soon on the baby, her delivery and then her shower. I promise. Just waiting for a set of pics to finish it off. Until then, I’ll move on to finishing out the fall…
3. Our Fall
How we celebrated the fall…as early as the week Elaina arrived, we were out “hiking” with our homeschool group.  

We had our annual visit to the Pumpkin Patch.
I participated in a preserve exchange. So awesome.
Major events of the fall
Since the baby was born so close to Thanksgiving…we had a quiet celebration at home with some of the family. The Monday hubby and I took the boys to Safari Niagara one final time for the season, they FINALLY got to do the long awaited ropes course… and it was worth the wait, despite the rain 🙂
The boys went out with their dad for Halloween around our street. It was also low key and enjoyable. 
And Carter’s 5th Birthday

Stay tuned for the Christmas post…I know it’s sooo late, but maybe I can use it next year. teehee!
Phase one done!


Why I haven’t Posted much in June…

I know this.

Several times this past month, I would sit down to write a post, and nothing, absolutely nothing would come to mind.

Now here we are at the end of this month, and I uploaded the June pics from my camera. I figured out why nothing came to mind….

I was pooped.  Just plain pooped!

There were 250 pics of things we did, from just the month of June. Whew!

Here’s the gist of it…

We finished our first year of home schooling! Yay!
To see more details on what that included, check out my blog at the Heaslip Homestead.

Here’s a pic of the flowers in one of the boxes on my balcony. 
I will post more about our gardens soon.
On Father’s Day, daddy took Lucas to his first MLB game. The Toronto Blue Jays. He was especially excited since they took the go train to get to Toronto. The younger two boys cannot wait until they turn 8 to go to their first game!

While they were there, the younger two boys and I celebrated Father’s Day with their grandpa Jim by going to Safari Niagara and getting ice cream at the Dairy Bar. 


They were pretty pumped about trying out the bungee-trampoline ride.
We were all excited to spend a whole weekend with grandpa to ourselves.

Then  we had a bunch of random outings…

 Here’s a pic of Carter and his best bud at Port Dalhousie.

 We went to a couple BBQ’s at my sisters – where of course we had water balloon fights.

We hosted a bonfire for a bunch of friends.

mmm, smores!

Christy, our student from China had her prom. Jodi took the pics, and then her family stayed for a yummy Paella Dinner and we laughed well into the night!

We went to the Drive In with friends to see Madagascar 3 and Snow White and the Huntsman.

I hosted a giant baby shower with my other sisters for my sister Stephanie. A post all about that will be coming soon too.

 I took the boys to Niagara-on-the-Lake, where they enjoyed the giant fountain.

We watched Nick Wallenda’s historic walk over the falls on TV, it was way too crowded to brave going the 15 minutes up the road. But my BFF Jodi however had a press pass and got these amazing shots!

Then, Christy had her graduation from highschool. We are trying to work up our courage to say goodbye to her after having her live with us for 10 months. Our gift to her was a memory album of our year. She cried. I cried. That was 2 days ago. She leaves tomorrow… I feel waterworks a coming.


Add to that:
+ a bunch of swims and visits with friends 
+ a funeral
+ birthday, poker and summer parties
+ a charity event called Raid my Closet
+ Midwives appointments 
+ veterinarian appointments
+ pickups at the Organic Farm
+ fruit picking 
+ home renos
+ hosting a dinner for Christy’s parents visiting from Macau
+ maintaining the homestead

=  ONE TIRED MAMA!!! (no wonder my feet are swollen)

If you don’t see another post for awhile…. now you know why 

Lot’s of love,


Tuesday’s Thoughts

I was over at Katharine’s Blog today and thought I’d copy her idea for today’s post, just to get myself writing again.

For Today…

Outside my window… 

            I can enjoy the flowers, herbs and veggies I planted in urns/ boxes on our back deck.

I am thinking…  
           I should pull out my day timer in case I’m forgetting somewhere I’m supposed to go today  
I am thankful…  
           for the great visit and dinner with friends and their kids last night. mmmm homemade perogies~!

In the kitchen… 

            a plate of muffins is calling my name.

I am wearing…   
             yoga pants and a blue t-shirt, standard home school mom attire.
I am going…  
             to my midwives appointment tomorrow. I’m 21 weeks!
I am wondering… 
            when I should schedule the boys’ haircuts? Buzzed for the summer!
I am reading… 
            The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer – it’s challenging but awesome!

I am hoping… 

            The dirt I ordered comes on Thursday so I can finish planting the raised veggie gardens. 
            It was supposed to arrive yesterday.
I am looking forward to…   
           Chris’ cousins wedding on Saturday. I love a good wedding!
Around the house…  
           I need to get the office cleaned and organized, but I’m very afraid…  
                                                                                             maybe we’ll go to the zoo today instead!
I am pondering… how to celebrate our anniversary next week – 14 years 

One of my favorite things…  a good cup of coffee with a great friend.
Here’s one of the better shots I took from the fireworks at the Virgil Stampede on Victoria Day – Happy Summer everyone~!

the itch

I’ve got the itch to be in my garden. It’s rather overwhelming at times. I honestly could do away with all other necessary activities today and just get out there to have my hands in the dirt. I bought my seed plants yesterday (tomatos, rosemary, basil, cucumbers and peppers).
They are calling to me to plant them.
Unfortunately, the location where I’m going to plant them is currently occupied by two flowering shrubs that we wintered in my vegetable garden (we planted the entire plastic pot and plant into the ground) and since it requires massive muscle strength to remove them, I must be satisfied to thin out the perennials and do some weeding until the weekend when hubby is home and can remove said pots.
Unless I plant the yellow pansies I also bought on sale, in the front…
I’m pretty happy with the progress we’ve been making outside. We finally demolished the eyesore of a fire oven that we had (it did not work and was dead center in the yard).
We created a new fire pit in the back corner (well, we started to dig the hole and cut down two plum trees that were in the way – and for you tree lovers out there, rest assured, we Heaslips always plant more trees than we cut down).
I weeded 75% of the veggie garden and beds, and prepped the baskets and flower boxes (even though the May 24 weekend is still weeks away). We cut down a dead tree in front of our shed (we’re undecided what kind of tree to replace it with – peabush? flowering pear? lilac standard? – too many choices) I’ve also bought some dirt (not nearly all of it), and replaced some worn gardening tools.
“Geepa Jim” was a big help and installed my hose hook. He also started the boys sandbox last weekend (this I’m rejoicing over as they kept wanting to “dig like mommy” and would pull up all my plants.
current sandbox “aka” – my raised garden; future sandbox
… I also moved a bunch of misplaced plants and rocks to better locations. Chris gave the yard it’s first cut. (as an aside, this led to the cleaning of the garage and the checking and restocking of the camping gear) – I definately must blog about camping in the future.
In the landscaping beds, I get unusually happy looking at the fruits of my labours last fall – the tulips and daffodils are out in full, and the crabapple we planted is just about ready to blossom, and i can see my lilac budding.
Last SummerApril 2010
The sumac, hydrangeas and rosebushes wintered really well too. The perennials need some love – some are skinny, some are monsters (peonies, mums, hostas).

These are both peonies, the green one I planted, thinking it was dead but what the heck, and it came back – the purple one showed up this spring, after I cut down another bush in its place last fall (weird). The raspberry, strawberries and blue berries seem to be doing well too. Probably by next week the ground will be warm enough to plant some more – even though i just read that I can plant my spinach and lettuce now (and every two weeks until the fall – land sakes!)

There is something about being out there that just meets a need that I didn’t even know was there – like deep inside of me. I am very relaxed in the garden – it’s very calming for me, and I feel very fulfilled when i can cook or can the harvest I grow. Maybe it’s because I have a “farming gene” – my Papoo (grandpa) was a farmer in Greece. My dad, he was an avid gardener too. I hadn’t discovered just how much joy and pleasure it brings until the last 2 years in having a veggie garden…too bad I discovered it so late, I’m sure we would have shared many talks about it.
Now that I think about it, Chris and I were always happiest working on our gardens at the other two houses too. Not veggies but the flowers and landscaping. Maybe it has to do with his getting so many awesome plants from work for pennies or free. A definite perk of the job…
Anyways, as much as I’ve gotten done, there is so much more to do and since I’m sure there will be posts to come on the subject of my garden, i should really get out there and do some more! 🙂