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.

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Holiday Home Tour 2014

Well, it’s better late than never to post about our holiday home, especially since it starts to come down tomorrow… loved celebrating the Lord’s birth this year, loved all the special moments and loved being in my home, and enjoying the coziness and togetherness. My style is definitely my own, part woodsy cabin, part country, part eclectic/classical. It’s not perfect and certainly can look cluttered, but it’s very much LIVED in and LOVED. Hope you enjoy a tour of our holiday home and tomorrow I’ll post about all the Holiday happenings that took place. Happy Holidays everyone.
Outside
I added real greenery to faux garlands, and it looked great! Plus later some red mesh ribbon. I was happy with the outside decor. Will post pics of finished product if I remember to take some.

Same with the wreath and  a giant red matching bow.
Main Floor Entrance
Right by the front door is this little display and underneath is a basket full of slippers for guests.

Entry way

Entryway with view of living room – flash

Close up, no flash

Past the tree is my angel collection on the sideboard.

I eventually removed the lower feathers, Here’s a closeup.

View from hallway.

In this pic you can really see the dried hydrangeas I painted gold.
Hallway to bedrooms. I forgot to take pics of the kids rooms
 – they each have mini trees we use as night lights through the holidays.

 Master Bedroom

I carried the feather theme through this room I apologize for the messy bed.

 Bathroom

This thrift store find is a great lamp to use through Jan.6th.
Another view of the tree.

Another thrift store find (mother and child)

Poinsettia’s really add some drama.

Grouping of cone trees in window.

A little DIY sign.

Loved this countdown snowman.
The Basement – AKA Party Room
Nativity set on stairway shelf.

At the bottom of the stairs.
Another thrift store find. It tells the Christmas story with songs.
View of sitting area.

The 6 foot tree sat on a dining room table with the village underneath.
I loved the look of the hydrangeas painted red on this tree.

Full room view

Before adding lights.
I actually really enjoyed the multi-coloured lights.
Stuffy tree

Revamped chandelier.

Friends on top of the fridge

From pinterest.

The Loft – Main Living Area
Hangs in the hall going upstairs.
Loved the look of my pinecone garland.
Did not love the look of this wall hanging over the stairs.
Will try again next year.

I didn’t mind these mini versions,…
But preferred them without the greenery.
Vignette at top of stairs. The blue sign got plopped there, and then never moved. Woops

Another DIY candle arrangement.
My Nativity Set.

Top of Woodland Tree.

`
My nutcracker collection moved a few times, til it found a home in the curio cabinet.

Family Room

 

Loved the querky look of the antler on the wall.

Kitchen

Kitchy Christmas Photos…

One of our first nativity sets.

Mantel…
Christmas cards on the message board.
Mistletoe over the table.
Wine cart.

Hot Chocolate Bar

Kitchen Window

Guest Room
Tin garland.

So cute, the boys kept asking if they could sleep in here.

Bathroom

My "Summer Kitchen"

We’ve been having a lot of fun around here, living over blogging. Though I love the writing, and I often think, oh, I’d like to blog about this or that topic that crosses my mind…but then we get on with living. I plan hope to write more this summer. The word wall above kind of says it all, some of them we’ve checked off the list, some we’ll do again and again, and some we’ve yet to do! 
Anyways, a fun-though sometimes hectic spring passed us by, and the HOT summer days are upon us and summer around here, is all about FUN. I have my summer reading list, my summer to do list, my summer playlist, summer movie list and now, a Summer Kitchen. What is that you may ask?  
The BackStory
We are very fortunate to have a house with 2 kitchens. Sometimes the basement is rented out to boarder so we haven’t really made use of the basement kitchen until now. I guess I need to explain, my house is unique in that our regular kitchen/family/school/etc rooms are on the second floor (and the bedrooms are on the ground floor with a sitting room) of our Chalet style house. I love, love, LOVE my unique house, but the drawback is that the summers are very HOT upstairs, even when it’s not hot outside – great for our COLD winters, not so much in summer. We have ceiling fans, but the vaulted ceilings just seem to hold the heat IN. 
So this year, my hubby convinced me to move our kitchen/living space to the basement. Since we’re all basically in one big room down here, it feels like we’re at a cottage. I’m actually loving it, because even though we’re not going away (except to visit my grandma for a few days up north) – it’s like we are away from home.
I call it my summer kitchen after a friend reminded me that in the old days (as in a couple generations ago) it was very common to have a second kitchen… I looked it up…

Cooking in an open fireplace in summer can cause the kitchen to become extremely hot, so in Early America it was common for people to build a separate building called a “Summer Kitchen” where much of the food would be prepared during the summer months. The summer kitchen would contain a large fireplace with an oven, and usually a large table which was used as a work surface.

The purpose of summer kitchens were to keep the main house cooler in the summer by putting the cooking and cleaning duties in a separate building.

It has been fun, we’ve basically “closed” the upper floor of the house (meaning we can turn the AC down or even OFF-yay! I have direct access to the backyard (aka my garden) from here, and canning down here is WAY better. Love to be able to use my home to it’s fullest potential.

Here we are, all cozy in our “cool” summer kitchen. Hope you are enjoying your summer as much as we are!

 

 

My "New Kitchen"

I love it when you can totally change up the look of a room with very little cost because of the goodness of God and the kindness of friends 🙂

Going into our 3rd year of homeschooling and having another body (and highchair) at the table, I knew our kitchen needed re-working. I had admired my friend Moni’s chalkboard wall in her old house – but I didn’t know how to make it work in our house. She’s so stylish with a quiet European flare and her home reflects her and her family so nicely, but I knew we are nothing like that. We are a tad messy (though I didn’t want to feel like I was in a constant mess because I LOVE organization), we are constantly curious and getting into new things, leaving other things unfinished but wanting to get back to them too. Plus I love my shelf that I can change out seasonally and we are surrounded by books too. I searched around on pinterest and found some inspiration in these pics…

  

I came up with this…

 The table we had inherited from Chris’ Aunt had taken a beating and was not only getting too small for us, but was also pretty wobbly. It is now in the basement in our common room which will be used for a homeschool co-op. 

When we agreed to take in 3 Korean adults acting as chaperones for the the program we usually host children from, we knew it was time for a new table. But the $ for it was not present…

Enter my BFF Jodi. She decided to upgrade and offered to bless us with hers (which had been a blessing to her from another friend) It seats 8 comfortably – YAY!

At the same time, we did the chalkboard wall, it was surprisingly easy actually…
,

 We cleared the space, painted it on and then after 3 days we cured it – the boys loved helping cover it with chalk.

 After wiping it off, it was ready to go, I added the decor (which will obviously be tweaked often).

I repurposed an old beat up hutch that had been in the sunroom collecting dust, and scaled back on the china, etc that was inside the old hutch – which found a new home at another friends house. I’m still considering painting it some fun colours (like burnt orange and tealy blue) with distressing… Suggestions anyone?

I still needed my Mom Central station (desk, calendar, bulletin board, etc) to be in the kitchen so I can monitor computer usage) We switched it to the side so we have more room to write on.

So there you have it. A new kitchen that only cost us $50 – for the chalkboard paint 🙂 
What do you think? What changes have you made to your house this summer?

The Mantle – Then and Now….and In Between

I thought I’d do a fun little piece on the kitchen mantle since that area is about to undergo a change of sorts…

I wanted an area that I could change up seasonally just for fun, and to remind me to enjoy life, the changing seasons, etc. So I found this shelf at Goodwill a couple years ago and blogged about it here. Since then it’s undergone the seasonal shift, here’s a few samples…

FIRST MANTEL FALL 2011

 FALL 2012

 FIRST CHRISTMAS 2011

CHRISTMAS 2012

WINTER 2013

 
WINTER/ VALENTINES 2013

 WINTER/ VALENTINES 2012

SPRING/ EASTER 2013

 SPRING 2013 – removed the bunnies, etc.

 SPRING/EASTER 2012

RIGHT NOW – SUMMER 2013

As you can see, it constantly gets “tweeked” – sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little. Some seasons, I just change out a few things, like this year, since Easter was way back in March, I switched the bunnies for garden stuff, then into summer I switched in my chicken, washboard, etc… I love having this little area to express myself artistically. Since it’s in my kitchen, I get to enjoy it ALOT.

LOOKING AHEAD… just for a hint, the space needs to be a been more functional for our school days, and I’d like my “mom central area” aka desk, etc to be more cohesive in the space, I got the idea of a chalkboard wall, first from Moni and then from Shannon

I think I’d like it to look a little like this…

 or this…

 or this…

I guess you’ll have to wait and see 🙂

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~!

So I had a good little cry yesterday…

So I had an emotional week… do you blame me?

These children of mine despite frequent requests from me to stop…
They keep growing up.
It all started with this.










What is my 7 year old doing going to an amusement park (and on rides) without me? sigh.


Then it got worse…
My second born graduated kindergarten.










he got his diploma and everything…











see how happy he was – arms raised!
bless her heart, she survived 2 out of 3 Heaslip boys 🙂

and then, the icing on the cake…



My baby moved out of his crib.



“sniff”






the sobbing could not be contained. Yes… I know, he’s three, he really should’ve been in a bed long ago, but it worked – and it was one of those convertible ones, so it really was a toddler bed… i know, stop making excuses, I was keeping him my baby as long as I could… do you blame me?

Look at those cheeks!










Not only that, but he moved into a “Bunt bed” mommy… he’s so excited.


and now his old room is ready for one of our 2 Korean boys to move in for part of July.
So we’re officially into the next season, my heart is full. It was very bittersweet to finish up at a school we love, but we are ready for the next chapters. One being homeschooling and the other being hosting international students in our home.
…and I’m sure once I’ve used up the box of kleenex on my tears, I’ll be emotionally ready for it 🙂
oh, and by the way – HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!











Pool Party, BBQ and Fireworks, here we come! (that’ll cheer me up fo sho)

Getting it Together

If you want to peek my interest, or get me excited in any way – mention the word ORGANIZATION and then begin to talk about something that helps you stay or get organized, and I am hooked.

I think that the more organized one is, the more they can do and enjoy in a day. I actually schedule rest times in my day – time outs so to speak to just have tea, chat with a friend, play with my kids, etc. You know, those moments that just seem to pass us by? I think they pass us by because we don’t PLAN.
I also believe that being organized does not look the same in every house, or every life, but the fruit is the same. A truly organized person is generally content and at peace most of the time – better yet, it rubs off on those around them. They will have peaceful homes and pretty balanced kids most of the time. I must re-iterate that no one is perfect and everyone experiences “dis”organization at times – at the hands of someone else, or their own folly. 🙂 However, I find for organized people, this is not as often.
I also believe that how we do anything is how we do everything. If you organize your time (daily schedule/calendar), it will be effected by how you organize your home, your office, your family, your meals, your holidays, etc. which in turn effects how much you enjoy your life.

I also believe that to stay organized, one must have two non-negotiable skills – flexibility and discernment. Flexibility is a necessity because in life – things are CONSTANTLY changing, and we have to be able to go with the flow – and keep organized. Discernment is needed to be able to know when to stick with something, and when to adjust. Furthermore – knowing how to adjust to the change. The kicker is, that usually just as you’ve gotten something in order… life throws some change at you, to challenge that order. We all have choices, we can progressively get angrier and angrier and develop health issues, or we can complain and fall down and cry all the time – thereby alienating our friends (aka support system) or we can roll with the punches, adjust and later, laugh about it over coffee.
So at the risk of sounding to “preachy” – I am just so very very passionate about organization – it’s almost an obsession… there’s just something so amazing about making sense of chaos… there i go again… anyways, I’m sure that there will be more blogs on this to come…
Some of my favourite organizing tools? Here you go:
IKEA Home Organizing Systems
Though I still don’t own one in entirety, I love these systems and drool over the catalogue as well as take my time in this department of the store.
Mabel’s Label’s are a must for keeping track of “Stuff” everything from your bins, spices, tubs in the kitchen or laundry room, wires behind the tv, clothes, kids stuff, etc.


Polestar Planners – for planning your life out, this is the best agenda I’ve come across. My personal favourite is the version simply titled Polestar Planner. Though I like the Family Planner Format, I find that I like the smaller size, and the content versatility because I also work part time and own a business.
For organizing the “extras” thebusywoman.com is a great resource, and this book by a similar title, but not the same author was something I picked up years ago and have used repeatedly. I just created my own forms on the computer that I print out:
For Family-Traditions/ Holidays Organizing – I love Emilie Barnes Books and Website:
I also love Sarah Ban Breathnach – Simple Abundance – for scheduling moments to enjoy life, the seasons and the people in it.
Specifically for Christmas, I purchased this book last year, and LOVE IT. Simplify the Holidays
Finally, to organize the kids: Accountable Kids – it pretty much speaks for itself.