When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Worth Keeping In Your Pockets -- June 2014

I always find the month of June has a special feeling to it.   Despite the fact that the four of us are constantly moving from here to there to everywhere as we wrap up the last few weeks of school and organized activities, when we do take a few moments to catch our breath, we find glimpses of the glorious days of sunshine and freedom that are soon to be ours, and it makes me feel lighthearted and child-like again.

Today seemed like a good day to share some of the little things that have made me and my family happy in recent weeks, in an almost-summer edition of Worth Keeping In Your Pockets.

Backyard herb gardening:  I've been planting an herb garden on my back deck for as long as I can remember; it's a simple pleasure that lasts all summer long.  I use three planters that I keep right by the kitchen door, so that I can easily gather bits of whatever fresh, fragrant greens I need when I'm preparing meals.  Growing herbs is super easy and doesn't require much space. I simply fill the planters with a vegetable soil mix and nestle a variety of herb plants from a garden centre in a pleasing arrangement within them.  With regular watering, I have wonderful smelling and tasting herbs to use right through to the cool fall weather.  Some of my favourite plants to grow are basil (lots of basil!!), oregano, parsley, rosemary, lemon thyme, chives, and chocolate mint (perfect for garnishing desserts and cool drinks).

Skin care from Nova Scotia:  Always on the lookout for great natural skin-care products for my family, I discovered the Nova Scotia Fisherman line about a year ago and decided to choose some items for Matt to try.  (I thought this particular line seemed especially fitting for him because he lived in Nova Scotia during part of his childhood.)  The soaps, lotions, lip balms and scrubs all contain East Coast sea kelp, which is full of ingredients that enrich and protect the skin, and they quickly became some of Matt's favourite skin care products. We were happy to discover recently that Nova Scotia Fisherman products are now available in the Natural Health and Beauty section of Zehrs stores.  They'd make a nice Father's Day gift if you're still looking for ideas!

A super snack:  Did I mention how busy we've been around here?  This weekend alone we have Noah doing a triathlon in Elmira and competing at regionals in London for swimming, and Will performing in two year-end dance showcases for his boys' hip hop class.  I'm really looking forward to cheering both of them on over the next couple of days.  All of this running around makes for hungry kids, though, and I feel like I'm always packing snacks to go.  These quick little granola bites have come in handy recently. They're very easy to make (I adapted a recipe I found in the back of the July issue of Chatelaine magazine), kid-pleasing, and full of ingredients that provide lasting energy.  Simply process 1/2 cup of natural nut butter (I used almond), 1/4 cup of pitted Medjool dates, and 2 tbsp of pure maple syrup at high speed in a food processor, (stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed), then stir in 1 cup of certified pure rolled oats, 1/4 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut, 2 tbsp of chia seeds, 2 tbsp of raw cacao powder, and 2 tbsp of cacao nibs.  Roll the mixture into one-inch balls and chill for 15 minutes before serving.

"Toad"ally cute:  I have always loved toads.  (Is that weird?  Yes?  Oh well.)  I found one in our yard near the vegetable gardens a few weeks ago and I caught him in my hands for a few minutes so I could show him to the boys.  They were as taken with him as I was.  When I read somewhere a few days later that a single toad can eat several thousand insects (slugs, too!) in one season, I wanted to do what I could to encourage our little toad friend to come back and stick around for the summer.  I found this toad house at Lee Valley and Will and I had fun finding the perfect shady spot in our flower garden to place it in.  (It even has a back door so a toad can make a quick getaway if a predator tries to enter his house!) We hope the toads like their new home.

Striking silver rings:  As we were preparing to celebrate Noah's Confirmation last weekend, I wanted to find a special gift for him that would be a nice reminder of this time in his life.  I had my heart set on an engraved initial ring, but I wasn't having any luck finding something that wasn't too ornate or traditional-looking, as I knew Noah wouldn't really appreciate something like that.  I was very excited to finally find an Etsy seller who handcrafts striking silver initial rings, and Noah was very pleased with the modern design. The ring is simple but beautiful; I highly recommend this artisan's work.

A new backyard sport:  Have you heard of slacklining before?  It involves walking across a long, narrow piece of flexible webbing that is fastened between two trees at a low height, and it's supposed to be great fun!  I've seen slacklining kits for sale recently at Mastermind Toys and I think it's something the boys would love to have strung up between the trees in our yard -- I'd really like to investigate it further this summer.  I probably shouldn't rave about this activity until we've tested it out (my worst-case scenario mind is picturing some sort of backyard circus disaster!), but it seems like a summer adventure worth sharing. If you've tried slacklining before and would like to tell me about your experience, I'd love to hear it!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.  :)


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