What is Cohousing?

People ask “what is cohousing?” and as often as possible I direct them to this cheerful little video. Belterra is not the cohousing community we are moving to, but we hope to visit there sometime soon (in fact, I may just make a bit of a mission of visiting other cohousing communities for weekend getaways, but that’s another story). I think they really nailed the explanation here, so check it out!

Somebody else who nailed it the other day is my friend Wendy. I was joking-but-serious on Facebook about giving away my stuff. Need something? I probably have it, and you can probably take it away right now. Wendy commented, “I heard the best presentation yesterday on the Sharing Economy. Seriously, we could all share ‘stuff’ a lot more and buy less. It creates jobs, saves resources and encourages social interaction.”

Cohousing in a paragraph, right there.

The Next Great Adventure

The Mr. and I were recently talking about the places we’ve lived over the years, and he pointed out that a lot have had an interesting story to go alongside them.

We’ve lived in a condo in Surrey which belonged to my grandmother. I loved the place, I did not love the neighbourhood. I was still sad to leave when my grandma had to sell it.

We’ve lived in a basement suite where we developed some of our closest friendships, with the couple who lived upstairs. I think my favourite story was when the Mr. and I came home with a pumpkin pie in the middle of the summer… only to find out that our friend upstairs was cooking a turkey.

We moved in to the upstairs of Porter’s Coffee House on 5 corners in Murrayville. This was a bit of an impulsive move. We had no real reason we needed to leave the above-mentioned basement suite, except that this place came up for rent and I desperately wanted to move in. Porter’s is a Murrayville heritage building. When I was in high school, I participated in a historical writing project centred on the early Murrayville families and buildings. My tale, a ghost story, was set at Porter’s, and the completed book is still available to flip through in the coffee shop (don’t go read my story, hey? It’s terrible).  We had the whole top floor here, and waking up every morning to the smell of cinnamon buns was amazing. The tab they allowed us to carry at the coffee shop was dangerous. You can understand why I jumped at a chance to live at Porter’s!

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We lived in a 500 square foot (including stairs!) residence at UBC immediately after marrying. I loved living on campus. It was truly gorgeous, and it was my favourite place to live in terms of having lots of spaces to walk and explore. I did not love 500 sq. feet.

And, 3 years ago, on a snowy March 1st weekend, we moved to the little farmhouse. This place, as you may know, has plenty of family history. I have adored living here. I am glad that Sweetpea had the privilege of being the 5th generation to live in this very place. And on this snowy March weekend, I am both excited and a little bit sad to announce that we will be leaving the farmhouse at the end of April.

We are moving on, my friends, and the spring will find us living in a Cohousing Community. I had not expected it to happen so quickly, but doors have opened, and we are listening to that timing.

What is cohousing? Glad you asked! Let me quote my little cohousing cheat-sheet from the Yarrow Ecovillage…

“A cohousing neighbourhood is planned, owned, and managed by the residents. The private homes are similar to conventional homes, and are supplemented by a community hall, workshop, and vibrant play areas. Couhousers own their own homes and have separate finances, but are inclined to work together with neighbours who become friends to host community dinners, tend to garden spaces, and tinker in shared interests. All ages, religions, and walks of life can be found in cohousing. The common thread? A strong desire for community.”

What do I like about cohousing? I am excited for indoor and outdoor playspaces for Sweetpea, and other kids for her to play with. I think it’s an incredibly healthy space to raise our family. I am glad to be part of something that is a little less material, a little more eco-friendly, and a lot more community oriented. I like the people I’ve met. I am looking forward to sharing tea and dinner with neighbours, but retreating to my home when needed. I’m looking forward to having my own laundry room… but being able to use the community laundry space when I need to catch up. ;) I might even be looking forward to trying some gardening again, with many seasoned gardeners available to walk me through it.

We have 2 months to say goodbye to the farm, and I know it’s going to be hard. But we are ready for our next great adventure – and I think it’s going to be good.

I don’t have pictures yet. For now, you can admire the farm in the snow.

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What Siri Said

Siri and I usually get along just fine, but we were having some serious communication problems yesterday.

For the record, I was trying to send the following message to my mom: “Sweetpea is wearing the cute tunic you bought her.” (except, ermm, Sweetpea’s real name. I’m counting on nobody going back and reading this post later).

Did Siri just break up with me?

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Have Hair, Must Accessorize.

My girl was born with hair. I mean, a lot of it. No lie, the first thing I heard a nurse say when Isla was born was “whoa, look at all that hair!” In fact, a nurse who came in to hook me up to some monitor while I was in labour told me she was going to have a lot of hair (but that’s a story for another day).

I’m not planning to cut it for a long time, but Sweetpea’s bangs get in her eyes, so I will do what I can to manage that. Most of the time, this involves pushing her bangs to the side dozens of times a day, but more and more I’m putting her in these little crochet hairbands, and while there’s no clip in this photo, pretty clips attach right to the hairband to mix and match for any number of outfits.

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Cute, Right?

So, I’ve been dreaming up a project to hold all of Isla’s pretty accessories. Pinterest directed me to dozens of pictures of ribbon-based clip holders, and while there are plenty of places to buy them, none were exactly what I was looking for. A cheap die-cut frame and some clearance ribbon from Michaels, and we were ready to go.

First, two coats of shockingly vivid spray paint.

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Next, cut and laid plenty of ribbons across in a visually pleasing pattern, and secured them with hot glue. I added a strip of ribbon across the back because it looks tidy, even though nobody will be looking at the back. I’m just that way. Excuse the one ribbon with poor manners, please.

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I realized that the best place to put this when complete was going to be the door to Sweetpea’s room. So, when I went out for more glue gun sticks, I also picked up some small wood painted letters. Out of interest, why does everybody need L so badly? I could only get it in black (which luckily, worked out just fine).

The Mr. helped me out by securing the finished project to the wall… I’ll show you in a moment. I was pretty pleased with how cute it was overall, but you know what’s not cute? These screws.

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They are, however, easy to cover up.

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While tidying up today, I spotted this little dragon which arrived in Sweetpea’s Christmas stocking. He’s adorable, exactly the right colour, and happy to hang out and hold stretch hairbands! Perfect.

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Here is the finish project in full.

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And finally, doing it’s job.

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I wish the lighting was better for these sorts of photos. I am absolutely in love with it turned out. Sweetpea is appropriately indifferent, of course, and I’m sure by the time she’s old enough to notice, it will just be part of the woodwork. But, these little projects make me happy, and for now, the pretty bows are really all about me anyway. ;)

Bonus photo. We’re in the planning stages of a Disney vacation, and Sweetpea will be ready! Disney bows arrived fromMiss Maddi’s Cutie Creations just this afternoon. I might be a tad excited.

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No Illusions Here!

We’ve met some new neighbours. I’m pretty excited about it. They are moving in today but I met them a few days ago – they were wandering around their new neighbourhood, and they’re babywearers, which of course immediately caught my eye. Their 9 month old boy was strapped to mama’s back in a beautiful carrier while I walked Sweetpea in a wrap, desperately trying to get her to sleep. My husband met them today on a walk. In a lovely neighbourly gesture, the Mrs. of this family offered to sew his buttons back on his jacket.

“What?” I ask, when he happily tells me about this exchange. “What’s wrong with your buttons? I hadn’t noticed.”

“They’re kind of unraveling, and you did notice the cuff button because you helped me put a safety pin in it’s place about a year and a half ago.”

Well there’s the truth, folks. My husband has been walking around with a large silver pin holding his jacket cuff together for a year and a half and I’ve barely noticed.

I mentioned to the Mr. that everybody seems to be doing a great job of this stay-at-home mom thing but me. “Facebook is a terrible place,” he commented. “It serves no purpose but to make yourself feel inadequate in comparison to your friends.”

Let me help you out and make you feel adequate. Allow there to be no illusions that I have it all together here. As of this moment, the baby is in a disposable diaper because I’m behind on laundry. So behind on laundry, in fact, that my blouse for today’s memorial service is still drying on a heated rack in the bathroom, and we’re leaving in half an hour. So behind on laundry that my daughter is sleeping in a onesie and footed pants rather than one of the two thousand sleepers we have in her dirty laundry bin. So behind on laundry that I used one of her tiny hooded towels for my shower today. There are dishes in the sink, and I opened a new pack of bottles just to get a lid. And a terrible secret: my Christmas tree is still standing in the corner, brightly decorated, though I dare not turn on the lights for fear the whole thing will go up in a spectacular flash of fire, because it probably hasn’t been watered in about 10 days anyway.

My husband leaves for 10 hours or so every weekday. I consider my day with Sweetpea successful if we’re both dressed and fed and relatively happy when he gets home.

I’m excited about our new neighbours, but my terrible fear is that they’re going to knock on the door one day, and I’m going to have pull a kitchen chair into the living room and offer her a seat in front of my Christmas tree (which by the way, we’re obviously never ever having one again).

“Anyway,” says the Mr., “I guess she sews!”

My home-ec teacher would be having a fit. Poor Ms. Anderson gave up a prep block to do a private tailoring class with me, and I don’t even notice hanging buttons. So did I sew, dear readers, so did I. But I will happily let our new neighbour fix my husband’s jacket… and probably I’ll manage to take a plate of cookies over.

New Year, Half Birthday, and a List of Updates

Well. It’s been three months and five days since a post went by here. My dad gave me a nudge tonight, and I’ll start by being very Canadian and apologize for my long unannounced break. I’m sorry, dear readers. I’m sure you are accustomed to reading with such attention that my lapse was noticeably annoying. I resolve not to disappoint you so in 2014. ;) I’ve actually started several posts, but none were right to post at the right time. It’s as though I’ve had too much to say and not enough time to say it. So… here’s what’s happened, in a quick list, since October 10th. I may expand further on some of these later.

  • We hosted Thanksgiving, with a 3 month old baby in the house. It was maybe a little crazy, but I love Thanksgiving and I love to host, and it was wonderful (if not a little simpler than my usual).
  • My grandfather ended up hospitalized immediately after Thanksgiving, and passed away in hospital on December 23rd. He was playing and winning his cribbage games through most of his stay. I feel lucky that he was close by, and that we got many visits. I say, and it’s true, that I’ve always been accustomed to being the favourite… but I had no choice but to humbly step aside in favour of his first great granddaughter, our own Miss Isla. We have beautiful photos of the two of them together, and they will certainly be treasured. Please excuse what probably seems as a very mere mention in a list. Grandpa deserves a post of his very own, but I am still processing, so bear with me.
  • Isla was dressed as a sweet kitten for Halloween. She went to visit two houses with her grandfather, and they delivered beer rather than collecting candy.
  • We have all been sick, a lot. This is a job hazard of being a Kindergarten teacher, and it’s been a bad season of course.
  • Isla enjoyed her first Christmas. She loved Santa, and we got a great non-crying photo. Our celebrations were quiet, of course, but it was good to be with family.

Today, my sweet girl turned six months old. A half birthday! She is rolling around everywhere, can sit until she notices she’s doing so, loves playing on the floor with her dog, and is enjoying every meal as we enter into the exciting world of solid foods. She is growing like mad, and we are about to try her first night in the crib (fingers crossed!).

She loves toys and is desperately trying to crawl, so this photo taken today seemed appropriate to mark her 6 months, even though it’s blurry – she doesn’t stop moving!

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It was finally sunny, and in an attempt to feel healthy again, we went for some fresh air and sunshine. This was our first walk with her on my back in our new Beco Soleil carrier, and it was fantastic. Shout out to my mother in law for Isla’s beautiful hat!

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Shall I send you off with a little video? This makes me laugh. Isla is eager to eat, and eager to do it by herself.

Basic Baked Oatmeal

As a new mom, getting breakfast in me seems to be challenging. I can grab easy things like granola bars, but my days of being able to get a hot bowl of oatmeal before dinnertime seem to be over – and this is the season I want a hot breakfast! I discovered baked oatmeal recently, and have been playing around with some variations. I nabbed this recipe from somebody’s blog and can’t find my way back… if it sounds like your recipe, please let me know so I can give you credit!

Baked oatmeal in it’s most basic, for you purists:

Ingredients:

2c. old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cook)

1tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1.5c. milk (low fat if counting WW points)

1Tbl. melted coconut oil or butter. If using butter, omit salt above.

1/4c. maple syrup

1 egg

Method:

Stir together dry ingredients. Whisk together milk, oil/butter, egg, and maple syrup. Combine and stir. Pour & spread into lightly greased square baking dish at bake at 350F for approximately 25 minutes or until set. Slice and serve.

This can be sliced and stored in the fridge and microwaved for 30 seconds per portion – one prep, 6 breakfasts/snacks for me! You can also freeze portions and microwave from frozen (1min 30sec in my microwave). I’m playing around with all sorts of variations, so you’ll see them here – make a few over the course of a couple days and freeze so that you have a variety to choose from.

Serves: 6

Weight Watchers: 5PPV

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