Wholly Canadian is a social enterprise promoting whole-life local living
...a breath of fresh air for those with a heart for local /fair-trade living, & inspiration for those intrigued...
                                     

Wholly Canadian Blog

Friday, August 29, 2014

Front Porch Song: Feed the Birds

My front window has a story . .. Come on and grab a chair, neighbour, and listen in!

A few months ago my Aunt Sara (whom I was named after in my middle name), and former school teacher, encouraged me to set up some bird feeders for my baby to watch. I loved the idea. . .and the challenge. My mind immediately began spinning. . .how can I make this project full of shalom? I knew this would be a worthy project, because it is year-round and not just a summer venture.

Remember Wholly Canadian’s shopping paradigm of goodwill? Well, I incorporated it, and excited to share how. . .


Buying Local - Canadian:

I was so pleased to find many of the items on my wish-list made in Canada. And immensely enjoyed the journey of locating them.

  • Braecrest Design birdhouse. . . I got a Braecrest birdfeeder to match my house’s green shingles.
    • These artisans, from Winnipeg, came to deliver it to me personally at no extra charge. What incredible, friendly service. And they have no idea I am blogging about them. I love that. . .when people deliver good service without knowledge that they will receive public praise.

  • Three-arm garden hanger--sold by Lee Valley Tools
    • Made in Canada, I like that this hanger has multiple hook options. Also, very elegant.
    • I have to say I have simply enjoyed the customer service at Lee Valley Tools. Such friendly people with all kinds of tidbits to share.  It actually feels like a neighbourhood. The one man I met (who wasn’t helping me directly) just started chatting, telling me about this pony of his in the Maritimes, that escaped his pen, and ate from his bird feeder. He looked like “Heidi’s” grandpa with his long grey beard. I found out that he's into wood crafting.  {It made me smile} Another woman told me about her challenge with squirrels, and soon there were a few employees all gathered giving me tips. (I had not idea at the time what a challenge squirrels would be--but more on that later). It was like a conversation over coffee.
  • Victorian Scroll Wall Bracket--to hang my hummingbird feeder

    • I purchased this at Lee Valley Tools. I appreciate their emphasis on retailing so many made-in-Canada products.This bracket is made of strong cast aluminum--tough but still light.  And I love its traditional flair.

Buying used/ upcycling:

  • Vintage Canning Jar Feeder:
    • This upcycled bird feeder I found on Etsy. It’s main component is a canning jar. It amused me, because I am known for all my vintage canning jars. It's a great example of re-purposing.
    • This one happens to be the most popular feeder at this time. . .

 

Buying Fair-Trade:

  • Coconut bird feeder:
    • I bought this tear drop bird-feeder from Ten Thousand Villages. Crafted from a coconut shell--it not only is upcycled but pays fair wages to the artisan--love this double whammy of goodwill!


Curiosity and goodwill go hand-in-hand. People always say, everything is made in _____. Here's just one project that paints a different picture. 

Get curious--get curious about the journey behind your projects. Quick purchases are inherently connected with consumerism. And consumerism is about "me" not about "we." Give a fair trade to those around you--whether local or international. Get curious! Delight in purchases of goodwill!

Also check out Ten Thousand Village's plant & garden tools. We love our terracotta plant watering sticks.


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Now about the squirrels (as promised). . .we live in a nutty neighbourhood with many of these squirrelly critters, due to the old oak trees that surround us.   First I thought, being new to bird feeding, surely they won’t crawl up this tiny pole. . .yup, they did. And managed to clear the entire buffet. They tipped over every bird feeder except the squirrel-proof coconut feeder.  My baby was supposed to learn about birds, not squirrels! But that’s not all, they left a huge mess on the ground by tipping the feeders. . .and then the seeds started sprouting in my flowerbed, and making tons of work! For a day or two, we watched their antics, and I tried to make this educational. We are currently reading about Peter Rabbit and his friends, and so I pointed out “Squirrel Nutkin” and taught my baby the sign for squirrel. But these antics only amuse to a certain point, and then, you’re fed up (no pun intended).

So, I went back to Lee Valley and bought the squirrel baffle (made in the USA).  The squirrels were baffled--temporarily. They had a new scheme. They climbed up the post of our front porch and made a giant leap above the baffle, grabbing any feeder they could.  What a mess! The seeds flew--and the plants grew. (I was more shocked than amused at this point)

So, after several days of watching this new escapade, we moved the hanger further away from the porch. I didn’t want it too far so it was out of sight, and didn’t want it too near the neighbouring tree as another means to the feeder, and of course not near the porch post. It was a delicate balance.

It worked. And now I was highly amused. The squirrels stood on my front porch post and tried to psych themselves up. . .they would twitch their tails, do a little dance, do the hokey pokey and turn themselves around, all the while imagining the delicacies awaiting them. . .But they couldn’t bring themselves to jump!  Have you ever been in that same position? “Any moment now, any moment now, I will jump . . .” You tell yourself to move, and nothing happens! Ah yes, did I already say, I was amused?  I had outsmarted them--and it felt good. Temporarily.

Then one morning I saw a squirrel (I have no idea if this is the same squirrel. . .I’m no expert on identifying squirrels), on one of my feeders--making a huge mess. I charged out yelling--and this squirrel leaped for his life. I was in disbelief.  I watched out my window to see how this occurred. How had they out-squirreled me again? What I observed, minutes later, did amuse me. Their tenacity and agility is second to none. I saw a squirrel gather speed, run straight under the baffle (I thought he --or was it a she--would get a concussion), and then at the last second reach out one of his arms around the baffle (a really, really long reach), and with just a single claw, extend his arm far enough around to hang on the weave of my coconut bird feeder by what appeared to be a mere thread. And then in a second he was next to his favourite feeder--the wooden house--tipping it upside down.  I was in disbelief--baffled actually. The squirrel baffle was baffling me.  This trick was no accident--it was mindful intentionality exemplified.

But I was not done. I would not to be outsmarted. I had come too far. It was time for me to be intentional. My baby was going to watch birds! I moved the bird feeders around, so that the squirrels could not latch on to the weave of the coconut feeder.I put the coconut feeder on the highest hook. And it has worked--so far.  But I’m sure they’re devising a new scheme. But in the meantime, my baby and I are watching birds. I often face his highchair towards the window so he can watch . . . and then I sign bird for him, and a feeling of deep contentment washes over me. The joy of this project has been hard-earned. . .so much that I can nearly break into song: “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag. . .” (Mary Poppins)

The view from inside. . .


But this mama thinks this view is so much better!




Do you feed the birds?

Do you a have story?  A song?

How have you incorporated any of Wholly Canadian’s paradigm of goodwill into a project? Leave a comment and share!




Posted by Wholly Canadian at 4:53 AM 1 Comments

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Put your Money where your Mouth is

It's easy to talk to the talk, it's harder to walk the walk. Arlene Dickinson (from Dragon's Den), who, in my opinion, has just the right amount of entrepreneurial heart and edge, has on more than one occasion said: "Put your money where your mouth is. . ."

There have been so many opportunities for me to do exactly that. . .sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I let the opportunity slip . . .

It is the launching week of Wholly Canadian, and today I want to celebrate getting it right.  Early on, in the conception of Wholly Canadian, I would engage my community on this idea of starting an online social enterprise that would serve as an extension of social justice in the areas of localism and fair-trade.

After hearing my vision, what amazed me, is how many people would encourage me to source out my website to programmers overseas . . . telling me how I could save oodles of ca$h. {Ironic, I know}  I would respond, and say, well, that's exactly what I want to re-frame for Canadians!

Choosing to re-think the bottom-line. . .

Indeed, I could have saved a lot of cash by choosing cheap overseas website developers, and in the meantime, also created a lot of havoc. Just recently, I had a website designer share how he has to fix several websites due to the shoddy work of these "somewhere-out-there cheap website developers", as well as redesign logos because they were initially stolen from other companies. 

So yes, choosing local website programmers and designers was an intentional decision and a wise investment! So without further adieu, here's a rather organic way to saying thanks to some fellow-Canadians who have made this vision possible:

  • My Designer: Arae Design  I knew when I met Alison in her home, that our visions would coincide. The walls on her home resonated with the look I wanted for my social enterprise. It was love at first sight. Thank-you Alison for all your hard work to making my vision reality.
  • My Programmer: Modern Earth Web Design  I chose Modern Earth because they are local and a multi-employee team. So if an employee quits, my website continues. My website is not reliant upon one person. Thank-you Modern Earth for being so patient with me in this journey.

Here's a note for budding entrepreneurs interested in having a website: designers and programmers are two different type of people. Choose a designer whose style connects with yours. First impressions can only be made once. And then make sure the two (designer & programer) collaborate on specifics while working on your project.

There are so many reasons why it makes sense to live from a paradigm of local & fair trade living. Are you currently contemplating a change in sourcing your business needs? Is the thought daunting? Is the cost overwhelming?  My encouragement to you it to market yourself as a business that is dedicated to maintaining a local and/or fair-trade standard. There is a growing market of Canadians who are hungry for exactly that, and are willing to pay extra.   There is an increasing segment of Canadians who view the "bottom-line" as more than just solely dollar figures. There is a generation rising up that cares about social-justice . . .

Weave a story through your business choices . . .people crave a worthy-story in a day and age that is filled with trivial minutia. . .

Localism is not for the elite, it is not for those with extra disposable income, no, it is for grass-roots people who are hungry to make a difference despite their limited income. I share this as someone who lives in a home supported by charitable wages from a non-profit organization. I can truly say, there is a real cost to living this joy. . .

My journey of local and fair-trade living has not been easy or simple. Attempting to rid myself of the shackles of utilitarianism has proved a worthy challenge — a buying what is "cheapest for me" mentality has not been easy to shake off (Winnipeggers are notorious for their love of deals!). Buying locally and fair-trade has slowly become an integrated discipline . . . yes, even when it affects my wallet and schedule in ways it would not have otherwise. And I am still on this journey. I have not mastered it, but I am a pilgrim . . . on a journey.


So, yes, Arlene, I'm trying to put my money where my mouth is. . .

Posted by Wholly Canadian at 8:16 AM 2 Comments

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Babies made in Canada

Babies made in Canada ought to be wearing made in Canada clothing, right? 

I find babies the easiest of all people to clothe in Canadian-made clothing. But I know as my baby grows, it will become increasingly more difficult. There isn't a great deal out there for older children in terms of Canadian made clothing. Now that's an untapped niche. . .{hint, hint entrepreneurial spirits reading this}.

But for now I delight in dressing him, as outlined in my Shopping Paradigm of Goodwill, in made-in-Canada clothing, second-hand clothing, or clothing ethically-made overseas.

To celebrate Canadian-made clothing for babies, I thought we would do a giveaway:

It's an HBC striped onesie made in Canada. It has a "Shared "tag.  Note: Not all HBC wear is made in Canada, but the ones with the "Shared" tag are made in Canada. "Shared" is an in-house brand of Drake General Store in Toronto. Drake General Store collobarted with the Hudson's Bay Company on a number of items.

Size 18-24 months. 100% cotton.

When I purchased one for my baby, I decided to also purchase an extra one as a giveaway for another baby out there.

Do you have a baby this size? Or will be soon? Need a classic, gender-neutral baby gift?

This onesie/romper is great for the fall. . . sporting the natural hue of autumn colours. Long pants easily fit over it for cooler days, and it's a classic for layering underneath a cardigan. Would make a great autumn photo!


Sporting all Canadian wear: My baby wearing his made-in-Canada romper, and his well-worn made-in-Canada Mini-Toes fisherman sandals I purchased for him earlier this spring.

Like his shoes? Check out Mini-Toes!

Enter here for the baby romper giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tags baby  Canadian-made 
Posted by Wholly Canadian at 7:00 AM 5 Comments

Monday, August 25, 2014

Why We Cloth Diaper

He's responsible for this! Yup, this little baby, who we affectionately call "stinker" some of the time, is responsible for the contents of this  laundry line!  But at least there's a story of goodwill here. The diapers on this line include two aspects of Wholly Canadian’s Shopping Paradigm of Goodwill: 1)Buying Local, and 2) Buying used/re-purposing

 


1. Local/Canadian:

2. Second-hand/Re-purposing:

  • I've purchased used organic prefold diapers
  • Wool inserts (I purchased a vintage wool blanket on kijiji for $5, and had it re-purposed into inserts)

But that's not where the goodwill stops. Shopping locally and buying used is great. But there's more good news on this laundry line! Wholly Canadian is all about whole-life local living. . .


Why we cloth diaper. . .

People choose to cloth diaper for a variety of reasons.

Here are some of mine:

  • Healthy baby’s bottom: our baby has never had diaper rash. We've chosen natural fibre diapers for our babies (cotton, hemp, bamboo, and wool).  Would you want plastic tight wrapped around your bottom? That's essentially what disposables are. It's quite unnatural, really. No wonder rashes, and other ailments develop.  Baby's bottoms needs to breathe! If there is any area that needs breathable fabric--it's their bottom! It always amazes me when parents who cloth diaper choose synthetic fabrics (fleece, mircofibre, etc).  Synthetic fibres (made of petrochemicals) are akin to wrapping plastic around the bottom. So here's to natural fibre!
  • Sustainability: As a farmer’s daughter I have a heightened appreciation of land.  I understand land is a fixed resource. One cannot reproduce more land.  Water, on the other hand, is a perpetual gift (where I live). Even though I pay for it--it's a renewable resource. Thus, it’s a simple choice.  One professor of mine once shared that there is no “away.” When you “throw away” --there is no “away.”  When we travel, we use non-bleached disposables--and each time I dispose of the soiled diaper, I am reminded of the preciousnesses of land and that there is no “away.”
  • Cost: yup, we’ve saved a ton of $. I rarely need to go down that baby aisle.  I’ve got my own baby aisle blowing in the wind. {Giggle}
  • Simplicity: I blogged earlier about the tension between convenience and simplicity. Cloth diapering is the way of the simple life. It is not convenient. It is simple.

Why I hang dry the diapers in summer:

  • It keeps the diapers white:  The sun is a natural whitener for those stains.
  • It keeps the diapers fresh: We've never had yeast in our diapers.  The sun is a natural disinfectant, and boy do the diapers ever need a freshening after a long Manitoba winter!
  • It keeps the diapers in optimal condition. Dryers make the diapers soft, but they also destroy them--slowly and gradually.  What do you think all that lint is in your dryer? Yup, that's the fabric being gradually worn down. Dryers weaken the fabric's fibres, and if there's any item in our household that needs to retain all its strength and fibres for optimal absorbency, well, it's the diapers!  That's why, in winter, we also hang-dry most of them inside.
  • It keeps me in tune with nature: We wash and hang the diapers in summer based on weather. "Today is a sunny day--so, let’s make the most of it!" "It’s going to rain the next few days--let’s see how far we can make these diapers stretch!" {wink}  We work with nature. There is an understanding of cyclical pattern nature gives of work and rest. I can keep abreast the weather by simply looking at my smartphone. Our ancestors did it with merely their intuition and intelligence.  This is a lost skill indeed. . .
    • Just recently I saw dark clouds gather, and heard some distant rumblings. As I had nearly-dry diapers on the line, I looked at the weather on my smartphone to ascertain my next actions. It stated sunny skies all day.  Well, I thought, the storm must just be passing by.  The skies got darker, and the thunder rolled. My intuition (or just common sense at that point) told me it was going to rain and get the diapers off the line. Maybe, I thought, I looked at the wrong city. So I checked the weather report again.  Sunny skies it said--for Winnipeg. I made a split-second decision to believe the technological report.  A minute later the nearly-dry diapers on the line received a heavy 5-min soaking--I considered it a free second rinse.  The freshly rinsed diapers then proceeded to to dry in the sun. . .again. {smile}
  • Sustainability: The sun is a gracious gift, and renewable. Unlike running water (which is also renewable), I don't pay for the sun! But I do pay to run my dryer.  But more than cost-efficient, it's a way of living sustainably and living in tandem with the bounty around us.
  • Simplicity: As I mentioned with the reasons I cloth diaper, the reason I hang out diapers in summer, is that it is the way of the simple life. It is not covenient. It is simple. Do you know the difference? I find myself yearning for simplicity more and more . . .
  • Smiles: My neighbour told me this May (after a really long winter), I know spring has arrived because I see diapers on your line. Yup, we air out all our dirty I mean, clean laundry for our neighbours. . .and I get many a smile.  My dad told me recently that’s how it used to be. You would see a laundry line of diapers and know that family had a baby--and smile. Just the thought of babies make people smile. Sure, go ahead and smile at the thought. . .
  • The Joy of Living in the Footsteps of Those Before Us: What a joy it is to hang diapers. Hanging laundry is one of my favourite chores. It always reminds me of my late mother who hung her laundry out in summer. . .and in a way is a keeping of tradition with my mother, my grandmother, my great-mother, etc. My mother never got to see me as a mama. . .I sure wish she could see this laundry line of diapers now {Tears}.


And here’s a rather organic opportunity to thank my husband who is a vital member of "Team Diaper." He washes them once every 4-5 days, daily brings down the soiled diaper pail to the basement, and then sets us up with a fresh diaper pail (water, vinegar, borax, and a couple drops of essential oil) every day.  Did I already mention, daily? And never complains. And when he’s home, we take turns changing diapers (or we employ "paper, rock, scissors"). The reason I mention this is because he is not as passionate about the reasons behind this as I am.  A few months ago I asked him, so if you don’t feel so strongly about it, why do it? He said something that caught me off guard: “I do it for you.” {Heart melting}



If you have a baby, do you cloth diaper?
Why?


Posted by Wholly Canadian at 4:12 AM 2 Comments

Friday, August 22, 2014

Simplicity versus Convenience

What's the difference between simplicity and convenience?

I find that many people use these terms interchangeably, but they are rooted in two very different paradigms.

Often people say " Let's keep it simple." (e.g. planning a party) What does that mean? Well if party planning it means ordering in food and using disposable dishes, etc. But is this really keeping it simple? The question I ask: Is that simplicity or that is convenience?

  • Simplicity is a discipline. Convenience is permissiveness.
  • Simplicity exerts effort. Convenience takes the road of least resistance.
  • Simplicity is care-full. Convenience is care-less.
  • Simplicity takes time. Convenience thwarts time.
  • Simplicity is a discipline. Convenience is permissiveness.
  • Simplicity exerts effort. Convenience takes the road of least resistance.
  • Simplicity requires less. Convenience requires more.
  • Simplicity is rooted in history. Convenience is the outcome of modernity.
  • Simplicity is the way my grandmother did it. Convenience is this generation.
  • Simplicity is wait. Convenience is now.
  • Simplicity is intentional. Convenience is impulsive.
  • Simplicity is growing a potato. Convenience is being a couch-potato {I had fun writing that one}
  • Simplicity delays gratification. Convenience is gratification.
  • Simplicity is work intensive. Convenience is masked in a pseudo-rest.
  • Simplicity is neighbourly. Convenience is utilitarian.
  • Simplicity is we. Convenience is me.
  • Simplicity is local and fair-trade purchases. Convenience is shopping on the cheap.
  • Simplicity is freeing. Convenience invites the shackles of consumerism.
        

You may say, but I like the terms of convenience: now, gratification, more, permissiveness, least resistance, etc. I agree, they are alluring. And like most, I dip into those many a time. They invite me to feast, they comfort me, and they allow me to believe (for a brief time) that my actions have no consequences. 

But before I proceed, allow me to say that there are seasons in life and circumstances where convenience is quite apropos. I've been there.  There is no reproach for this.  My point is that convenience should not be the default and the "well" we dip into every time.

I am a pilgrim. Not a victor. I am slowly trying to rid myself of the shackles of convenience and live in the freeing world of simplicity. . .the irony for me is that simplicity requires more work--more work in my already full-life.  But should I be surprised? Freedom is not free. Freedom is never accidental. It is the result of the first column of intentional discipline. Simplicity is much like that.

I have to carve out space (sometimes hack at it) to create a pathway of simplicity. This means something else has to go.  24 hours is still 24 hours. But alas, like all of life, it's about prioritizing. Here are some channels of simplicity in my current rhythm and some that are quite simply (no pun intended!) works-in-progress:

 

  • hanging up my laundry in summer
  • refilling glass soap pumps instead of buying new soap pumps
  • no cable television
  • slowing down
  • turning off the computer at 8:15 pm
  • making a roast chicken instead of buying a ready-to-go roast chicken
  • growing heirloom plants with seeds that I can harvest each year for next year's plant
  • rendering tallow and lard instead of buying cheap and convenient liquid oils
  • cloth diapering my baby
  • preserving summer produce for winter: berries, jam, veggies, etc.
  • thrifting at thrift stores
  • farmer's market
  • chemical-free home and cleaning with household ingredients grandma would have used to clean
  • collecting rain water for my garden
  • homemade baby oil and diaper spray
  • making broth
  • composting instead of adding to the garbage dump; composting instead of buying garden fertilizer
  • growing and drying my own herbs
  • transporting food that leaves the house (snacks, sandwiches,etc)  in re-usable containers rather than plastic baggies
  • gardening
  • making a protein smoothie with real food instead of powders
  • walking and biking
  • toys: purchasing used or locally made (this criteria simplifies!)
  • digging out dandelions or just leaving them as the first nectar for bees (I even have friends that eat them!)
  • growing tons of aloe vera for eating, medicinal purposes, and daily facial application
  • bringing a meal as a baby-gift instead of another sleeper
  • travel mugs and water bottles

 

So next time someone says, "Let's just keep it simple," say, "Yes, let's indeed keep it simple."

I would love to know, what are your channels of simplicity?


 

 

Posted by Wholly Canadian at 4:02 AM 124 Comments

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How? A Proposal of Wholly Canadian Living

A Shopping Paradigm of Goodwill

As much as possible, I buy locally/Canadian. Undoubtedly people ask me, what if the product I need is not available locally?

In such cases, I integrate three other "neighbourly" criteria into my purchases as much as possible:

1.  Buying locally—buying Canadian.

 

When not possible...

2.  Buying fair-trade:

  • buying products that give a fair wage to the farmer or artisan. . .instead of the mentality of "buying what cheapest for me and who cares about the story and people who made it")

When not possible...

3.  Buying second-hand/upcycling:

  • rather than buying new, re-use by buying-second hand from online classifieds, thrift stores, or garage sales. Re-purposing/upcylicng is also a key component to sustainable living.

When not possible...

4.  Buying terroir: 

  • a French term that infers that a product reflects its origin or its sense of place. This term can be borrowed for sustainable living in terms of consumption of goods. Examples of purchasing terroir would be cinnamon from Sri Lanka,  bamboo from China, or maple syrup from Canada. An example of the inverse of purchasing terroir would be purchasing a sheepskin processed in China that originated in New Zealand, and is now sold in Canada.

Whilst these four criteria may not always be possible, I am surprised more often when they do not, than when they do. Recently I sought to purchase a rain jacket, and I typed in the words "rain jacket" and "made in Canada," and was not disappointed.

So join me in a journey of living wholly Canadian... A journey of community, localism, and goodwill.

 
 
 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted by Wholly Canadian at 12:00 AM 1 Comments

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Welcome to the first week of Wholly Canadian

Welcome to the first week of Wholly Canadian, a social enterprise that will hopefully be an inspiration to Canadians!

It is with joy that I launch this website. . .

Make sure to read:

And most of all, make sure to enter our free giveaway today!

Have a Wholly Canadian Day!

 

Tags localism 
Posted by Wholly Canadian at 12:00 AM 186 Comments