Willow May is turning six weeks tomorrow! How is this even possible!? The last six weeks have been a mixture of absolute magic, some rough patches, so much learning, tears (happy and sad ones), many cuddles, sleep deprivation, SO MUCH feeding, learning how to do outings with a little one, trying to figure out this breastfeeding thing, and an endless amount of love for this little one. I was blessed with so much help from family, friends, and church. Kevin was home for the first two weeks, and honestly I don’t know how I would’ve done it without him. He seriously did basically everything except for feeding, for obvious reasons ha ha. When Kevin went back to work, my parents visited and spoiled us with lots of help. I had one week to adjust and learn how to do things on my own at home, and now Kevin is home for the summer!
This post is a little late, but I wanted to share our newborn pictures of Willow May with you. You know, before she turns 18! 😉 They were taken by the incredible Holly Gilson Photography, and I have no doubt that I will treasure them forever. I’m truly grateful for photographers like you Holly! You are so easy to work with and are so gifted! Thank you!
We are anticipating the birth of our little girl as my due date is approaching quickly. With only one week and four days left, I’m daily working towards checking things off of my to-do-before-baby-comes list. I’m really enjoying this time off from work, getting things ready for the baby and the crazy adventure we are about to embark on. It’s definitely also overwhelming at times as a first time mother, trying to think about all the important things, wondering what things will be like, the struggles we will face, etc., etc. Although I am in no rush at the moment, I am aching to hold our little bundle in my arms.
Before our baby arrives, I would love to share our maternity pictures with you. I know some of you have been waiting to see them. Holly Gilson took these pictures for us, and I’m SO happy with how they turned out! She was our wedding photographer almost 6 years ago, and I’ve been following her work ever since. I knew that if and when the day would come for a maternity photo session, I would hands down ask her to be our photographer again. I couldn’t be more thrilled that she agreed to take our pictures! If you’d like to see more of her work you can follow her onfacebook or check out her website. Thank you Holly for capturing this important moment in our life! I’m in-love with this in-home session!
Hello my lovely readers! I’ve been having a little too much fun trying different popsicle combos. I quickly wanted to share a flavor combination that I really enjoyed. I won’t even make a recipe card, because it’s really that easy, and doesn’t require much explaining. Using a popsicle tray, fill each slot a quarter of the way with mango juice, and two quarters with coconut flavored yogurt (I used Activia brand). Then, simply pop in a piece of freshly cut pineapple, and place it in the freezer until frozen.
Hmmmm… my human is holding something strange… wait a minute, perhaps I recognize what that is… could it be? No… I doubt it… oh my goodness… I think it is… it DEFINITELY is! Popsicles!!!
As I was trying to take pictures of the popsicles, Luna must’ve seen what I was holding (she usually get’s part of my popsicle), because she got really excited and was desperate to have some! She started jumping, trying to reach for the popsicles, photobombing my pictures in the most adorable way! No worries, she definitely got some in the end! 😉
Also, as I mentioned in a previous post, all of Luna’s hair got chopped off! She looks so different with short hair! Needless to say, we were pretty amused by her look right after her hair cut. Especially since we were only used to her cute teddy bear look. It’s definitely nice and fresh for the summer though!
I also wanted to update you a little on what’s going on at the Kampens these days. Kevin started tearing down our old deck on Saturday. It is in pretty poor shape, and needs replacing. The reason why we’re tearing it down now, is because my parents are coming for a visit (so exciting!), and my dad wanted to help us build a new one!
My last update, which might make some of you a little sad, is that I will be taking a break from blogging (this will be my last post for a while) for two reasons. First, I want to be fully available when my parents are visiting, as I don’t get to see them that often. Second, Kevin and I are travelling to Thailand!!! What!? Yes, it’s happening! We’re really looking forward to it, and I can’t wait to show/tell you all about it!
Now you know, and don’t have to wonder why I suddenly vanished from the face of the earth! I will miss sharing posts with you, but it is also important to disconnect sometimes. Plus, this only means I will have a lot of new content to share with you.
I want to thank each one of you for following me, encouraging me, and reading along. It means a lot to me! May this summer make you as happy as the popsicles make Luna happy. Here’s to summer! Cheers!!!!! -Erika
Last weekend Kevin, Luna, and I went on a short canoe trip to Manitoba’s beautiful Whiteshell. It is always so nice to get away from the city for a while, and get a break from all the noise in our lives that comes in different shapes and sizes. It’s refreshing to put away our technological devices most of the time, and not being bound by time. For the most part, we didn’t even know what time it was.
We had almost reached our destination when we drove past something. I looked at Kevin and asked: Was that a…? And before I could finish my question he replied: I think it was! It turns out that we had just driven past a large turtle! We stopped the car, got out, and walked towards the turtle. After observing her for a short while, Kevin noticed that she was in the process of laying eggs. He even saw some of the eggs drop! The turtle seemed slightly unsettled by our presence, but didn’t seem afraid, as she never retreated into her shell. Perhaps she doesn’t have any predators to be worried about in her natural habitat?
The turtle had dug a hole in the ground, right on the edge of the road. After laying many perfectly round white eggs in it, the turtle started covering them with the wet soil, slowly using her strong hind legs. When her job was completed, she made her way back to the stream, fell onto the runoff pipe with a plop and then fell right into the water.
The butterflies seemed to have found something delicious to eat, as they were all gathering at the same place on the road. We thought it was probably another turtle nest, that had likely already hatched, and had left a tasty trail behind.
I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of wild flowers we got to see in the Whiteshell. Some of them were familiar ones that grow in gardens everywhere, like irises, roses, lilies, and even flowers that looked a lot like cosmos. They appeared to be wild flowers though, as they looked slightly different from the same varieties planted in gardens.
We started our canoe trip in Lone Island Lake, portaged into Malloy Lake, and camped out on an Island for the night. After our first portage we saw a lot of birds flying above us in the sky. They looked like bald eagles, but they could have also been turkey vultures or osprey.
Luna had the time of her life exploring. I was thinking maybe we should have named her Dora the Explorer instead of her current name!
We are particularly fond of watching sun sets, and got lucky to see a beautiful one from the island.
Luna had to wear her life jacket the whole time (except while sleeping in the tent) because we were surrounded by water. This gave her some freedom to explore on her own, while we knew she’d be safe if she were to fall into the water. She didn’t seem to mind it too much though. I guess it was a small price to pay for some freedom in return!
The evening skies were so colorful and calming, birds chirping everywhere. The water was smooth, reflecting the moon like a mirror.
We hung up our backpacks high up on a tree branch. This kept the food out of reach in case of a bear visit. We knew that people had previously seen bears on this island, but fortunately we didn’t encounter any. Though I always have a strong desire to see bears, I preferably don’t want the encounter to be on the island that I’m sleeping on!
I got up earlier the next morning, because I really wanted to see and shoot the sunrise. It turns out I couldn’t actually see the sunrise from our campsite because the direction that it was rising from, was being covered by trees. After taking some videos and pictures I returned to the tent in the hopes of getting some more sleep. Before leaving the tent I had tucked Luna in with my sleeping bag. When I came back she was still enjoying the coziness, so I tucked her back in right beside me after crawling back into the sleeping bag myself. We ended up falling back asleep and were greeted by a warm tent when we woke up.
Cooking is always different when we go back-country camping. You have to think about how much stuff you can carry, or how many portage trips you are willing to make. Generally you try to pack fairly light. That means cooking food on a fire, or using a small camping stove, which is what we used. The pots that we use are thin and light, which means they get really hot, really quickly. It’s definitely more difficult to control the heat. While frying our bacon I realized that the fork I was using was melting, so I had to resource to using sticks that were lying on the ground to continue my frying job.
In the end we got to eat our breakfast burritos with bacon, which did their job of fueling us for the day ahead. Plus, I had the privilege of cooking in the most beautiful and open concept kitchen EVER!
Quick tip: if you want a nice picture of your pet, bribe them with some bacon. Hey look, we even got a smile! Haha! 😉
After eating, resting, and packing up our stuff, we continued canoeing. We canoed by some people that gave us directions to the portage that crosses over into Jessica lake. This portage was a long one. It was over 1 km long, which seems quite long when you’re carrying heavy things. We had to make two trips because we couldn’t carry everything at once. Let me tell you how thankful I was for mosquito repellent spray, as much as I hate wearing that stuff! They probably would’ve eaten us alive if only we would have let them!
It was raining softly for the first while, but then stopped soon after JUST having put on all of our rain gear! We were thankful that it stopped though, and wearing my rain pants was actually quite nice for walking through the grassy areas on the portage. It probably made it hard for tics to hold on to me, because my pants were slippery.
It turned out to be a beautiful day! Once we were in Jessica Lake we had to find our way to the Whiteshell River (which after about 10 km brought us back to the parking lot). It was a little complicated to find at first, because the marshy areas jutted in and out, appearing as potential openings to the river. When we did find the mouth of the river, I would have to say it was hands down my favorite part of our time spent canoeing. Both sides of the river were covered in reeds, and wild growing irises. The water was so calm, and we really took our time, slowly canoeing down the river, just enjoying our surroundings.
We saw a fair amount of wildlife on the river. We saw a mama duck with her ducklings. She quickly notified them that they were in danger when she saw us, as the little ones quickly tried to make their way to the reeds. She then tried to distract us from them, as she was playing a lame duck, attracting attention onto herself.
We encountered another duck with the same behavior, and to our surprise Luna’s instinct made her jump out of the canoe, into the water, for the first time. She seemed to regret her decision as soon as she hit the cold water, as she usually isn’t a big fan of water, and started swimming after us. I was slightly scared, but also SO proud of her for being so daring! Luckily she was wearing her life jacket. Did you know that not all dogs can swim and that a lot of dogs actually drown?
We also saw a lot of turtles along the way that were sitting on rocks or logs, soaking up the afternoon sun. Most of the time they slid into the water one by one, as they saw our canoe approaching.
We saw this old 1950’s truck that has been sitting in this marshy river for years. I can’t help but wonder how in the world it got there! It looked like the engine had sunken under the water. So mysterious!
We made it back to the parking lot with aching muscles, but feeling very accomplished, and refreshed by nature. We ate a quick snack-like supper and spent a couple of minutes fishing and then felt ready to go home. We had originally intended to stay for two nights, but the weather forecast did not look promising at all, so we decided that going home and sleeping in our own bed would be more enjoyable.
Now let me inform you of the not so fun part of this trip. Tics. Tics everywhere! Ticks on Kevin, tics on Luna, and tics on me (I even had one crawling on my face in the morning in the tent!). Before driving home we checked ourselves and Luna for tics. We found SO many on her! When we got home, I gave her a bath and we found SO many more! We found at least ten or more just on her face! Imagine how paranoid I felt after! The following day, she got a really short hair cut, because her hair was terribly matted, and they didn’t find any more tics on her. What a relief! On the bright side, at least now I feel pretty educated on what tics look like!
Finally, I decided to play around with making a short video of our paddle trip as a keepsake for later, and of course to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it! Here it is:
A couple of weeks ago I shared that I had taken a pottery course this fall with Jessica Hodgson. I finally took some time to photograph the end results, so that I can share them with you. Yes I realize that there’s A LOT of room for improvement, but I’m still proud of my first babies. Plus it was fun!
I really like how the glaze turned out in the above mug.
This tealight candle-holder on the other hand was the result of a failed attempt at making a cylinder or mug. I finally salvaged the bottom part of the clay and made a little candle-holder instead. I didn’t really like this piece, but it has slowly grown on me.
Say hello to my fun and wacky turquoise mug! Hey! What did I hear you say? The handle isn’t off center at all! 😉 My instructor made everything look SO easy! If there’s one thing I learned in this class time after time, is that once the clay is in the students’ hands, it decides not to cooperate! Of course it has nothing everything to do with the countless hours our instructor has spent on the pottery wheel. It gives you a new kind of appreciation for each handmade pottery item.
I finally made a ring dish for my jewelry, for when I’m too lazy to put it in its designated spot. I used speckled clay for this platter, and used a stamp to give it some texture. All-in-all I’m happy with the results.
And here’s my tiny coffee mug! Going back to small portions, are we? The design on this mug reminds me of the markings of a bear claw. I painted the brown stripes on with a paintbrush and a brown glaze. Then I brushed a layer of wax over the same lines, before dipping the whole mug in a different glaze. The wax resisted the second glaze, keeping the stripes brown. I’m content with the shape of the handle on this mug.
Perhaps one of my favourite items is this small bowl. I love the contrast between the white and blue stripes. The exciting thing about glazing as a newbie is that you don’t exactly know what the end result will look like until it has been fired, unless you have already tried it on a sample tile (little tiles made, just to test different glazes). For example this bowl looked gray before firing, although I knew that there should be some blue somewhere in there after firing.
Here’s my little planter. How did this turn into a planter? Well, the upper part was supposed to be a bowl of some sorts. It turns out that I had pushed things too far, creating a hole at the bottom of the dish. I was quite disappointed. However, my creative instructor suggested that I turn it into a planter instead. So I ended up making a platter, which was permanently attached to the planter with glaze. The hole now drains off excess water. Not a lost cause after all! And so I learned and learned. Can’t wait to try doing some pottery on my own next year!
It’s Friday folks! Although, I’m sure I didn’t really have to remind anyone of this! I hope everyone has something fun planned, even if it’s something small.
This fall I started taking a pottery course at The Edge Gallery & Urban Art Centre, with the amazing Jessica Hodgson. Check out some of her works here. Sadly, we only have a few more classes left! 🙁
I have a confession: I have a bit of an obsession with pottery. This has been going on for quite a long time. Whenever I enter a small pottery shop, I always feel like I’m in heaven! I’m pretty sure my heart rate actually increases out of excitement. For a long time I had been thinking that I would love to take a pottery class. Let me tell you a little about how I finally signed up for a class.
Last year my sister-in-law had invited me to go to the Canada Etsy event with her. I’m so glad we went, because this is where I found a local potter, and decided to jot down my e-mail on a piece of paper, to potentially join her class in the future. Because why not? Fast forward to this past summer. I had decided that I wanted to try and take a pottery class this fall. Kevin and I were travelling the West Coast, when one night I checked my e-mail, and Jessica Hodgson had sent me an e-mail, inviting me to take part in her fall pottery class. Now, if it weren’t for the e-mail, I probably would have found a class on google anyways, but that e-mail just kind of made it happen. Everything seemed to fall perfectly into place, and I finally signed up for that pottery class that I had wanted to join for ages.
Ok, maybe that wasn’t a very exciting story, but what I’m trying to say is… I want to encourage you to do that one thing that you have ALWAYS wanted to do. Now, I realize that some things that we would like to do may never happen for good reasons, but is there a realistic dream you have, that you simply just need to make time for and push yourself to do? I think it’s very important to balance our time and make room for the little things that bring joy and healing. I’m still learning how to do this. Every single day.
I’ll make sure to share some pictures of my completed pottery work in a few weeks. But since I can’t do that just yet, I’d like to share 10 of my favorite pottery pieces on Etsy. Let me know in the comments below, which item is your favorite!
Last week Kevin and I (and our little Luna!) decided to go on a short canoe trip along the Seagrim Lakes Trail before the summer ends. We were a little back and forth on whether we should or should not go, but it turned out to be exactly what we needed. It reminded us once again how important it is to take time to retreat from all the noise that surrounds us daily in life. This noise has the tendency to cloud ones perspective and priorities. Going to a quiet place that is peaceful and spiritually nurturing brings back the calm into our lives, and allows us to focus on the things that really matter.
The Seagrim Lakes Trail is found in Nopiming Provincial Park in Manitoba. I would highly recommend going during the week, as we literally got the WHOLE place to ourselves! When we got back to the parking lot there was one other vehicle there, but we never saw any people. There’s only back-country camping available here, so you want to pack light, as you have to portage all your belongings, including food. The portages are very short and doable though. We had to portage three times and crossed three lakes to get to our campsite, which took us about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. We picked a beautiful campsite that was on an elevated island, with a large rocky opening, which gave us a great view of the surrounding area and the sky.
May I also suggest leaving all unnecessary media distractions (except for a phone in the case of an emergency), make up, and your best clothes at home. I think that one gets the most out of a nature outing when one is not constantly having to check media, nor having to focus on looks. You want to allow yourself to disconnect from your usual routine. And trust me, in the end you will be happy that you brought your ugly runners when you realize how much more comfortable they were than your nice flip flops would have been. 😉 Alright, enough tips! Let’s move on… Here are some pictures that we took. The pictures are not as good because we didn’t want to take our better camera along, but I wanted to share them with you anyways.
Waiting for our first supper to be ready. I tried making this camp fire pizza. I love the idea because you can make it before you leave and then just throw it into your backpack or cooler (if you’re going car camping), and you don’t have any supper prep when you get to the campsite!! Unfortunately, it didn’t really work out as I had hoped. We didn’t let it bake long enough, so the dough wasn’t quite baked through, and perhaps I stuffed it too much, and too far to the edges. I still love the idea (cause seriously who wouldn’t want to eat pizza after all that rowing!), so I thought I would still share it with you. I might try it again in the future and see if it works out doing a few things differently.
We did some fishing and even ate one! Luna enjoyed the eating part in particular! I have this weird relationship with fishing. I really enjoy fishing and get pretty excited when I catch a fish, but then as soon as I see the fish I start feeling pretty bad for it.
The nights and mornings on the island were serene. They were overtaken by the calm of nature, sounding the breeze of the wind, with a fish surfacing for some food every so often, and the small waves clashing playfully against the rocks. We were all by ourselves, which was both kinda frightening and at the same time so freeing. The black skies were covered in a curtain of stars as the moon announced its arrival, slowly rising over the horizon leaving its dancing reflection in the waters. The northern lights then decided to pay a visit to the heavens while I was falling asleep cuddled up in my sleeping bag. The emptiness and fullness that I felt at the same time can’t really be put into words, but it drew me close to the creator of it all.
Luna got to sleep in the tent with us, which she loved, since she doesn’t get to sleep in our bedroom at home. Kevin and I take turns taking her out during the night as we’re potty training her. I was on the early morning shift because I’m scared of bears and everything else during the night! So I got up early to take her out (as you can tell from my puffy eyes!), and decided to watch the sunrise with her (although she was perfectly content wrapped in my shirt, and continued sleeping). The sunrise was so beautiful and peaceful. Oh the things we miss out on when living in the city…
Kevin enjoying the last bit of his oatmeal breakfast along with most of our camping gear. We were learning how to use his new camping stove, and I was pretty happy to not have burned the oatmeal after basically charring some of the bacon!
We bought a little life jacket for Luna before going on the trip and it was quite funny and terribly cute watching her run around in it. We put her in the water and her body definitely seemed to understand the movement of swimming. However, she didn’t like it very much, probably because the water was too cold for her little body. She got out as soon as she could, only to resemble a miniature Lion, with her legs being wet and slim, and the hair on her head being dry and poofy, like a lion’s main. It was quite the site! We definitely got a kick out of it!
One last family selfie and some last minute fishing (without any luck) before heading back and being sent off by the eagles soaring above us through the sky. It was windier on the way back and required a fair bit more muscle work. But we rewarded ourselves with some amazing burgers and greasy fries on our way back, and topped it off with some mango ice cream! What a great way to end the summer before going back to work!
Some of you have told me that you’re waiting for me to post again. I have felt really encouraged by this, so thank you, thank you, thank you! And as promised, I’m back!
It’s been a fun and eventful summer! I very much enjoyed working at the local garden stand till the end of June, followed by some travelling in July. Kevin and I went on a long and awesome road trip to Canada’s West Coast. As a blogger, crafter, and food lover, I was SO inspired during this trip! I was constantly jotting down ideas, and am looking forward to sharing many things with you! August consisted of having my wisdom teeth removed (and feeling woozy from the meds!), catching up with family and friends, and working on some more house renos… alright, alright, I’ll get to the point!
There is another exciting thing that happened in August that I would love to share with you all! Kevin and I made a big decision, which has already brought a lot of joy (and less sleep!) into our little home. WE GOT A PUPPY!! Luna has been with us for a week now, and we’re having so much fun with her! We’re pretty in-love to say the least! She is a toy poodle and is just over 11 weeks old. I thought it was only fitting to share these big news today, as it’s National Dog Day! Here are some pictures of our little pup. Enjoy!