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Honour the Child

Blog Archive

BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Sunday, 24 May 2015
I shared on a Waldorf based sale page on Facebook...
(I suspect sometimes that people figure that BTRT is not a 'small business' or that somehow 8 years means that we don't need their support... but for us, 8 years means skill, quality products, great service and a reliable shop to find great waldorf inspired toys!)

BTRT started 8 years ago when I couldn't find the types of clothing and toys I wanted for our daughter... Etsy was new and I jumped in! It has been a wild, amazing ride of self discovery, networking and creativity.

In the last year BTRT has enabled me to take a break from my 20 year career (much, much needed) and to focus on homeschooling and raising our daughter (twice exceptional ~ gifted with Aspergers, Tourettes and more letters ;)) while my husband works away from home.

We are working on self sufficiency in a very small home in the woods and have started a small rabbitry this spring. BTRT is a work of passion for me, flowing from a commitment to encourage and support gentle and simple childhoods. It is also the means by which we put food on our table and shoes on our feet (when we wear them!) while we adjust to living on much less.

I'm sharing this with you so you will know a little of the person behind the business~ BTRT is very much a family business, every silk is dyed in my kitchen. 8 years doesn't make us a big business, but I am grateful that it has made us a strong one, rooted in quality and community.

Being in Canada we face challenges like high postal/ shipping rates and paying at *least* 30% MORE for our supplies (shipping, duties/ taxes) than our American artisan friends. But we keep at it because I love to do it~ that has been my commitment to myself from day one, don't love it? don't do it!

So thank you! Our gratitude extends to each of you who have made our family's work part of your family's play!  In the 'Tag Sale' spirit~ We have set aside nearly 50 items, including some new patchwork fabric crowns at a great 'thank you' price in our anniversary sale section of the Etsy shop.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015
Over the winter, my mother found her childhood autograph book.
Do you remember those?

We'd exchange them at the end of summer camp, or the school year
~ getting signatures from all of our friends and favourite teachers?
"By hook or by crook, I'll be the last to write in your book" or my favourite,
"1 1 was a racehorse,
2 2 was 1 2
1 1 1 1 race
2 2 1 1 2".

Having found her book on December 16 (2014), she was touched to find within its pages a note~ from her very favourite (great) Aunt Rachel, written on December 16, 1961 when my mother was 9 years old. Rachel's home on the hill was one of my mother's beloved childhood haunts.
A spinster, Rachel is also remembered in our family as being the aunt with the beard.
Like a full on ZZ Top beard.
She figured that is the way God made her, so let it be!

Touched by Great Aunt Rachel's verse, in her familiar hand writing, my mom made a photocopy for each of us in the next generation. My first thought was that the verse was lovely, and worthy of stitching up.  Then it occurred to me that I could replicate Aunt Rachel's own hand!

I snatched up some natural cotton and gave it a good soak in some boiling tea (with salt) to create a more antique tone.  I enlarged the photocopy to the desired size and using my disappearing ink pen, I copied the text on to the cloth (having taped everything to my brightest window~ I don't have a lightbox).

{I prefer to use the disappearing ink, as I have found that some thread colours will run onto my canvas if I use the washable ink pen~ especially the red based colours.}

The letters were challenging, and I found, after several attempts as finding a stitch that worked for the handwriting, that a twisted backstitch did the trick.  The flowers I added freehand, choosing colours on the fly~ I didn't have a particular palette in mind, but I was trying to choose what might work in my mom's home, her kitchen is pear green with red and yellow, as well as what would suit the period of the original writing.

After a thorough steam pressing, careful not to flatten the flowers, I hooped the finished piece in a natural wood frame.  The photocopied verse was added to a piece of paper inserted into the back of the frame.

Now I just need to drop it in the mail!
Do you have any special words you would like to see finished in a loved one's hand?
My next project is a little note from my grandmother to me. ♥♥
Monday, 27 April 2015
I'm not sure that this is Wonderland, but I have definitely fallen down a rabbit hole.

I feel like I should apologize for the spotty blogging this year (whether out of sheer Canadian-ness or otherwise) but then I stop and check myself.  I am working really hard at not feeling guilty over not meeting expectations (my own or others). It is a bit of PPSD (post-pastoral stress disorder, and yes, I made that up, but it feels real enough!) and a bit of mid-life crisis, maybe? I don't know, but I am struggling to embrace the moments, sometimes whole hours, of downtime that I have in my life these days. But that is another blog post.
So, sorry not sorry on the lack of blog activity!

Homeschooling is taking more time these days.
Rowan is turning 10 and the school demands are increasing each year~ between working on areas of challenge, and keeping up with my gifted child in others, it is a big job!
We have also been taking part in group therapy for her anxiety & OCD, which has meant many trips to the city through the spring.
I am just now emerging from the 6 month crunch of Christmas/ Easter for Beneath the Rowan Tree and keeping busy with custom crown requests and fitting in a little felted art experimentation, too.
And now the bit about the rabbit hole... we sidelined our plans for ducks in exchange for rabbits.
A lot less mess and a lot more cuteness (except for my raging allergy to rabbits... hmmm).

I am the proud owner of two Flemish Giants and a litter of 10 kits.  As if that wasn't enough, we also added more rabbits this week, bringing our current total up to 17 bunnies, although our 'permanent resident' status will be more like 10.  Rowan traded her ducks for Holland Lops, which she is breeding for show and pets, and Andy, not to be left out, has a pair of Californians, Royal and Rayna.  Rabbtitry building plans are underway, and I'll keep the cute fluff coming!

(And please note I agreed to getting ONE rabbit this spring. )
That's the quick update... I'll be back with some more fluffy bunny stuff and more. ♥♥
Thursday, 26 March 2015
As we approach our 8th anniversary at Beneath the Rowan Tree, we are looking to celebrate 8 wonder-full years!

Happy customers who tell the story of their personal experience with our toys are the very best kind of marketing we can get!  And we have been blessed over the years to be part of the imaginative play in so many families worldwide. 

This initiative is being held on Instagram~ although we do have another opportunity coming up for non-IG folks.  You don't have to have been a BTRT customer (yet!) to participate, but we are seeking families who share our vision of natural, open-ended play and gentle, open-ended childhood.  So please consider applying and spread the word to others you may know who fit the bill.
Look for the image above on our Instagram feed to enter (see it directly right now HERE)~ be sure to follow each step (it isn't onerous, but in order to gather your info and get a feel for fit, you'll need to take a few minutes).
Closes April 3. ♥♥
Tuesday, 3 March 2015
A BTRT Easter tradition...
I could show you more, but why don't you take a peek?
Stocking now and through the next 2 weeks or so....
Monday, 23 February 2015
The Usual Mayhem blog is an eclectic mix of homeschooling, nature, crafts and every day life on gorgeous Manitoulin Island (Ontario, Canada).
As a blogger, one of my greatest joys is to share the work of other artisans and bloggers~ to introduce you to some of the very cool and interesting people that connect, in one way or another, to my work  at BTRT.  The connections and the community are the part of my work that feeds my soul~ I hope that you are as inspired by these women and their stories as I am!

It has been truly a pleasure to 'meet' Erin from The Usual Mayhem.
In part, because she is a kindred spirit who happens to live within 500 km (much less as the crow flies) of our home and shares our Northern Ontario spirit, but also because she is an experienced homeschooler, a fledgling off-the-gridder, and a nature lover. And if you don't know it, there is something very magical about people who live on islands (and I can say from experience that Manitoulin is an amazing island!).  So here is your chance to meet Erin, too!
The Usual Mayhem is very much a family affair.  Erin and her partner (a work-at-home software developer/ corporate trainer who also has his own blog) live on a large plot of land with a ten-year self-sustainability plan. They have three children~ a 22 year old entrepreneurial homeschool graduate, a 14 and a 7 year old.  Their spring plans include doubling their current garden and adding ducks, chickens, goats and sheep to their current critter count of 3 dogs.  Brave souls (14 ducklings coming our way has me trembling!). With everyone pulling together, the family also plans for wind turbines and solar panels to reach their goal of independence (although Erin admits she is willing to become an heiress if anyone is accepting applications!).

Erin began blogging while living in the province of Quebec, which has the unfortunate reputation of being very difficult on homeschoolers.  Her blog was a way to document their schooling and their progress.  Since the move to Ontario, she has continued to blog with the support of her family, near and far.  Blogging, like life, can have its slumps~ and a very serious health crisis last year truly shook the family to its core.  But they are returning to strength, leaning on one another, and striving once more towards their goals. Growing The Usual Mayhem blog is more about sharing than earning (a commitment I share wholeheartedly!) .

The Usual Mayhem is full of rich resources for homeschoolers,  with reviews, sections on 'Five in a Row', Unit Studies, and Erin's particular specialty, Nature Studies.  Along with crafts, hikes and adventures on the Island. With a recent change towards the Waldorf style of education at home, there are lots of handwork with natural materials and festival celebration ideas to enrich your own schooling efforts!  Be sure to take a peek at the Nature Studies Pinterest board Erin curates!
All this mayhem keeps Erin busy, along with her part-time work.  But she makes the time to pursue her hobbies~ favourite among these is buying and selling vintage furniture and antiques, inspired by their history and the stories they could tell. The family enjoys leisure time outdoors, and Erin notes that no matter how foul your mood, it is bound to change when surrounded by wildflowers or when struggling to keep your balance on a slippery rock!

Erin's attitude of thankfulness and the team spirit of her family are truly inspiring.
{And her sense of humour is delightful... I have to know more about this 'Hoser Hen'!}
In the coming year, the family plans to begin selling some of their creations on Etsy~ particularly the childrens' handmade fabric art.  And, says Erin, they are "open to whatever comes our way and aligns with our values". I suspect the goats, sheep, garden, dogs, business, blog, chicks, ducks, kids, work, play and adventures might keep them busy~ all that usual mayhem!

Please visit The Usual Mayhem, explore the many homeschooling resources from an experienced educator and follow along to be part of the learning adventure! ♥♥

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