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Tamara Watson
Attended McMaster University
Lives in Hamilton, Ontario
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Tamara Watson

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My grandma made me a ceramic music box with Santa Claus on it when I was little. Every year, my mother put it out on the coffee table on December 1 — and not a day sooner. I so clearly remember the ragged cardboard box that we stored it in, and the way that the old shredded newspaper fell to the table as I lifted the music box out. It was the same every single year.

It would still be weeks before we put the tree up, of course. It was the 80s; Christmas wasn’t a two-month marathon in the 80s. But even without the tree, the music box meant Christmas to me. The music box was the start of the season.

I have the music box in my home now, and I still love to pull it out at Christmas time and show it to my own kids. I haven’t found a place to display it yet, but that doesn’t matter — it’s broken.

Not too badly, mind you. Last year an elf lost his head, though it looks like my husband was able to glue it back on for me. A couple points on the star are broken off, and there is a chip at the front. The part that bothers me most is the tree; it broke off a couple of years ago, maybe more. The tree is the part that you turn to make the music start. My music box has been silent for a long, long time.

We never got around to fixing it last year, and we didn’t fix it this year either. I’ll just put it back in it’s box as it is and we’ll store it with the rest of our Christmas decorations until next December. I don’t mind. It’s just one of many things that we didn’t get around to doing.

Click below to find out what I didn't do (meh, who skates anyway) and what I did (everyone punches their turkey, right?).

My grandma made me a ceramic music box with Santa Claus on it when I was little. Every year, my mother put it out on the coffee table on December 1 — and not a day sooner. I so clearly remember the ragged cardboard box that we stored it in, and the way that the old shredded newspaper fell …
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Tamara Watson

Gifts By Adults  - 
 
http://www.unhurriedhome.com/a-homemade-travellers-notebook

Homemade traveller’s notebooks would be killer Christmas gifts. If you skip the stitching and the inner pockets, these leather covers will take less than half an hour to make.

You don’t even need to make the booklets yourself — you can grab a set of three Moleskin cahiers from the bookstore and they’d work beautifully. You could even buy a thicker notebook or agenda and tuck the outer covers into the inner pockets instead of using the elastic system.

The beauty of a traveller’s notebook is that it’s flexible enough to appeal to both friends and family. 
A traveller's notebook is the perfect place for bullet journals, homeschool agendas, nature journals, etc, and they couldn't be easier to make!
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I'm gearing up for this year's Christmas knitting projects -- I'm thinking a couple dolls (though they might be crocheted) and another cowl for my sister-in-law. I don't think I'll ever top two years ago -- I love love love the mittens I made for my brother-in-law! http://www.unhurriedhome.com/the-big-christmas-knitting-reveal/
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"My fellow mediocre sewers, listen up: this pattern was so, so easy to do. It also taught me how to sew french seams which are both easy and elegant and now I feel like I might never use my serger again."

Honestly, I can't say enough good things about the Wiksten Tank. It's so beautiful and easy to sew that I made two (and not just because I think I threw one away)...

http://www.unhurriedhome.com/wiksten-tank-2/

#wikstentank #easytosew #DIYclothes #beginnersewing

I loved my Wiksten. Not too tight but not too baggy. Just the right length for leggings and jeans. It was pretty. Elegant. Then I threw it away.
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Have you heard of the Emeibaby baby carrier? It's a wrap-inspired buckle carrier that promises knee to knee coverage and a deep seat for all children from birth to 33 lbs - too good to be true? Check out my review: 
http://www.teaforthree.ca/2013/07/07/my-babywearing-project-emeibaby-review/ #babywearing   #wovenwraps  
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http://www.teaforthree.ca/2013/03/27/downton-abbey-meet-dundurn-castle/

I don’t know about you, but when I get into a TV show, I really get into it. I’m the kind of person that watches “just one more episode” at 2:00 am and frets constantly over the characters in the show. Battlestar Gallactica left me wondering which one of my friends could be a Cylon. Project Runway had me looking up contestants on Twitter so I could tell them they didn’t deserve to be cut. And Downton Abbey? Season three left me with stabbing chest pains and the overwhelming need to call a therapist. And I can’t WAIT for season four.

But with no new episodes coming out for awhile, I thought I’d get a quick Downton Abbey fix by visiting Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle, which I’ve heard has a similar vibe to Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England, where the show is filmed. Perfect.

Yesterday after school, the girls and I headed over for a quick visit. We showed up at 3:30, and at first I wasn’t sure if we would be able to catch a tour since the museum closes at 4:00. Luckily, there was a tour set to leave right as we arrived, and because we were the only ones that decided to stop by on a Tuesday afternoon half an hour before close, our guide was able to give us a fast-moving tour that was perfect for my girls’ short attention spans.

As we walked to the entrance, I asked if more people have come to the castle because of the show. She laughed and said that Downton Abbey is a popular topic. She told us that the show is actually set a few decades later than the museum display – season one starts off in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic whereas Dundurn Castle has been restored to 1855, when Sir Allan MacNab was a the height of his career.

Regardless, when we walked in, I was delighted by how much it felt like the show, despite a 50 or so year difference. But really, how much difference would a few decades make? It’s not like the fictional Crawley family rushed out and bought the latest in furniture each year – they passed down their belongings from generation to generation. Oh, can’t you just hear the delicious disdain in Lady Mary’s voice as she responds to the suggestion that they purchase new furniture to furnish Hacksby Park? “Your lot buys it, my lot inherits it.”  How I love Lady Mary.

The tour of Dundurn Castle was great and I’m so glad we went. The beautiful chandeliers, the bells lined up in the kitchen, the servants quarters in the basement – they all had that Downton feel. And rather than seeing the cook’s bedroom and the butler’s office, I imagined Mrs Patmore’s heading to bed and Carson working away. During my last tour, I didn’t really know what a butler did (Mr. Belvedere was not super educational) and having characters I could refer to really made the place seem more alive and less like a museum.

I think The Princess enjoyed herself too. She liked seeing the children’s bedroom and sampling the shortbread made in the old-fashioned wood stove in the basement kitchen. We both enjoyed looking at a large painting of children wearing surprisingly fancy dresses and trying to pick out the boys from the girls (the girls have their hair parted in the middle while the boys had their hair parted on the side).

I wonder what The Princess thought of Dundurn overall. When I was small, I thought the castle was enormous and a bit intimidating. Now that I’m older, it doesn’t seem nearly as big (though still ten times bigger than my own house).

I read up on about the castle some more when we got home. It was the home of Sir Allan MacNab, Premier of the Province of Canada (before Confederation) and apparently Dundurn Castle was famous across Canada for hosting grand parties. Sir John A MacDonald and King Edward VII were both guests of Dundurn Castle – AND they were both guests of Highclere Castle in England too. I also learned that Sir Allan MacNab was the great-great-great grandfather of Camilla Parker Bowles – some trivia for fans of the royals.

We will be hitting a lot of museums in the next couple of weeks because – and this is what I really want to share with you – we’ve taken out a Hamilton Civic Museums Family Pass for 4 from the Hamilton Public Library. For three whole weeks, we can visit SIX museums completely free:

Battlefied House Museum & Park
Dundurn National Historic Site
Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum
Hamilton Children’s Museum
Hamilton Museum of Steam & Technology
Whitehern Historic House & Garden

That’s a lot of museums. For FREE.

All you need to do is log onto the library website and place a hold on a museum pass. Don’t be put off by the waiting list of nearly 100 people – there are 84 passes and we waited a week or two to get ours. We’re going to head back to Dundurn this week and check out the Military museum, which has costumes to try on and a big play area. And then maybe Whitehern? Battelfield? We have a couple more weeks, so really we could hit them all.
Do you have a favourite museum to visit around Hamilton?
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Tamara Watson

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http://www.unhurriedhome.com/popular-posts-2016/

Some old friends met me for a coffee recently and commented on my perfect life.

My perfect what-now?

Apparently my blog gives people the impression that it’s nothing but sunshine and roses here, which is kind of hilarious. Life is not perfect. I generally suck at it. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t feel like a total failure at some point, usually because I’m fighting with the kids about messy rooms/skipped meals/messy kitchens/missing homeschool lessons/messy everything.

If you want to know how my life is going, check out the dates on my blog posts. Have I put a few new posts up this month? Then we’re probably doing pretty good. Have 6 long weeks passed without a single update on my site? It’s likely that I don’t have time to write; I’m probably too busy searching the local school board’s website about late enrolment dates because I. am. done.

I sat down to write my summary of Blogging 2016 with a bit of sadness. After all, I never have time to write, my traffic is down right now, my income was practical nil this year, and I’ve failed to master Pinterest in any way, shape or form. Probably because the lords of Pinterest keep seeing me post online about how much Pinterest drives me crazy. They hate me now. It’s mutual.

So, 2016: lousy year.

Or was it?

When I set out in 2016, I made some very specific goals:

1. Blog weekly. Ideally more than that. FAIL
I did not blog weekly, but I did post 23 times, which is like every two and a half weeks? That’s not as bad as I’d feared. I can work with that. I’m not completely hopeless.

2. Increase the traffic to my site. SUCCESS
Why did I think traffic is down? It’s been better this year by far. And I plan to double it next year.

3. Create a regular newsletter to complement the blog. FAIL
I did not create a regular newsletter, but it’s still on the to-do list. Like, the top of the to do list. I might even send the first newsletter out tonight. Or not.

4. Make a bit of money so I can chip in for household bills. FAIL
Nope. Didn’t happen. Truthfully, this might have been my worst year yet in terms of income, but it’s because I didn’t go after sponsored posts. I just didn’t have time.

5. Post on a big site, someday. Like the Huffington Post. SUCCESS
I did this! I did post on the Huffington Post Canada site — FOUR times! AND I was lucky enough to have each of my four posts promoted on the HuffPo Facebook and Twitter accounts, AND one of those posts was translated into French and Spanish AND featured on the site’s home page! I totally have a screen shot (I’m such a nerd): you see my teeny-tiny face in column one, a post about the competitiveness of Canada on the international markets in column two, and then a big old tampon ad in column three — which is probably the only reason that I haven’t framed it ha ha ha.

There were other successes too, not related to my goals. At the beginning of the year, I signed up for a free 6 week blogging mentorship course run by Julie Nowell. She’s the one that connected me with the HuffPo editors, and she’s also the one who inspired me to try making a video for Facebook. Oh, the Easter Egg video. It’s been watched over 12,700 times now, though I suspect that 700 of those views are my own kids. Funny, but the other video that I made – the video of me ironing to promote a blog post – only garnered 350 views. Still, I can’t believe that over 300 people watched me iron pockets on a shirt.

Other successes? One of my posts hit the StumbleUpon jackpot and brought 14,438 page views in a single day (an astronomical leap in traffic for me). Finally, I published another article in EcoParent magazine this year. You wouldn’t believe what a treat it is to go to a magazine rack at the bookstore and see my name in print there! Honestly, I feel like I might actually get to be a writer when I grow up after all!

After making this list, I don’t feel so bad about the year at all. In fact, I’m excited — and I’m excited to see what happens in 2017.

I’ve set some more goals, though they look suspiciously like the same ones I had for 2016:

1. Blog weekly. Ideally more.
2. Grow my traffic.
3. Write a regular newsletter to complement the blog.
4. Make a bit of money so I can chip in for household bills. Actually, my goal is to make enough money blogging that I can hire childcare once or twice a week — so that I can blog. Because I love it.
5. Post on a big site, someday. Like Well Family on the New York Times website. Lofty goal, I know. But you never know…

If you have anything in particular that you’d like to see on the blog in 2017, please let me know. You can send me an email, leave a comment here, or write a comment on Facebook. If you want it, I will write it.

Are you curious to know what posts were the most popular in 2016? Here’s a list of the top posts, based on page views — but before I get to them, let me thank you for being my reader. I keep hearing that blogging is dead, so I’m delighted to have found people who will faithfully visit my site, leave comments, and share my posts with their friends. I never, ever thought I’d love blogging as much as I do, and I suspect that part of the reason I love it so much is because of all of your support. ♥

Top 10 Posts of 2016

#10: Our New Favourite Toy
http://www.unhurriedhome.com/our-new-favourite-toy/

“The tree had to go. It didn’t take long to cut down at all – in fact, I don’t know why I didn’t just do it last year. Oh right. The crippling guilt.”

#9: Letter from a Homeschooling Mom
http://www.unhurriedhome.com/to-school-moms-from-homeschool-mom/

“School moms, I don’t know how you do it. … You somehow manage to drag your kids out of bed and then feed them and dress them and groom them enough to meet the generally accepted level of hygiene, and you do this all before 9:00am.

I can confidently say that this is simply beyond my skill level as a parent.”

#8: Adding Poetry to our Day
http://www.unhurriedhome.com/adding-poetry-to-our-day/

“I had no idea that I would love these little lessons so much.

Simple? Yes. And so perfect.

Not too long, not too short. A pleasant mix of “teacher-led” and “independent” learning, covering grammar, poetry, picture study, and copywork using quality literature. The Charlotte Mason in me was like, “wwwwwwwhaaaaaaaaat??!?” (Just kidding, the Charlotte Mason in me is far more articulate and dignified and even has a haughty British accent.)

#7: Our Kitchen Makeover
http://www.unhurriedhome.com/our-kitchen-makeover/

“I didn’t love my kitchen but I didn’t hate it either. But now? Now it’s the most beautiful space in our house – you’d never believe it was the same room!”

#6: Emeibaby Review
http://www.unhurriedhome.com/my-babywearing-project-emeibaby-review/

“Harbour was more difficult to get in. First, you cannot adjust the carrier’s body while the child is on your back (unless your double jointed, I suppose). This meant I had to put her on my front first to do the adjustments while she did her best to claw my face off and escape (refer to paragraph two). The fabric is clamped tightly in the rings, which is great because you know that it’s secure but a bit more difficult to manipulate when your child is punching you in the kidneys.”

I don’t even know why this post gets so much traffic. I don’t see many shares on Facebook or Pinterest. I’m baffled.

#5: My Favourite Decluttering Tips from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
http://www.unhurriedhome.com/my-favourite-decluttering-tips-from-the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up/

“I grabbed a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo from the library, in hopes that rereading it would give me a jolt of inspiration. Instead I was reminded that I’m the only person in North America that doesn’t love that book. Oh, right…

I read this book a few years ago, expecting to fall madly in love with the Konmari method. Instead, I nearly sprained my eyeballs because I was rolling them so much. Why wasn’t Kondo’s charm working on me?”

#4: Tutorial: Easy Last-Minute Fairy Wings
http://www.unhurriedhome.com/easy-last-minute-fairy-wings/

“I was left with two wingless fairies on my hands.

I wanted to get some gorgeous silk wings from a toy store down the street. But when I casually mentioned them to my husband, he casually mentioned the garage door that broke last week. And the iPhone that I shattered on the weekend. Not exactly the best week to be buying fancy costumes.”

#3: Wayfarers: My Pick for a Charlotte Mason Homeschool Curriculum
http://www.unhurriedhome.com/wayfarers-made-charlotte-mason-homeschooling-easy/

“When I downloaded the curriculum samples, I discovered that the curriculum was more than just history; it was science, geography, composer study, art, literature, Bible and more — all conveniently scheduled in a day-by-day planner.

It was the open-and-go Charlotte Mason homeschool curriculum that I was looking for. Cue church bells and angel choirs.”

#2. Making Amber Wrap Bracelets II: The Tutorial
http://www.unhurriedhome.com/amber-wrap-bracelet-tutorial/

“This post is for all the moms out there with a stash of old amber necklaces just begging to be made into something new and pretty. Because if you’re anything like me, those necklaces have been gathering dust for half a decade now. Go on and dig the necklaces out of storage – I’m going to show you how easy it is to make a wrap bracelet using the amber beads.”


#1: The One Item Every Settlers of Catan Fan Needs from Ikea
http://www.unhurriedhome.com/the-one-item-every-settlers-of-catan-fan-needs/

“On Saturday night, we set up our Catan board with the hexagonal shapes and the number discs, then we placed the frame carefully over top to keep everything in place. It fit perfectly. Like, so perfectly that every future Settlers game should come with a $6 gift card to Ikea.”
Playing Settlers of Catan with my girls and my husband was great. We all LOVED the game - except for one thing.
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"When I downloaded the curriculum samples, I discovered that the curriculum was more than just history; it was science, geography, composer study, art, literature, Bible and more — all conveniently scheduled in a day-by-day planner.

It was the open-and-go Charlotte Mason homeschool curriculum that I was looking for. Cue church bells and angel choirs."

http://www.unhurriedhome.com/wayfarers-made-charlotte-mason-homeschooling-easy/

#homeschool #charlottemason #homeeducation
About a year and a half ago, I gave up on Charlotte Mason. Well, not quite. It's more that I gave up on the popular Charlotte Mason curriculums because ...
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"Maybe that’s where I go wrong when I teach my children how to do handicrafts. I pick projects that are too complicated — that have too many things that can go wrong....

In Charlotte Mason circles, we talk a lot about choosing quality over quantity. We want our children to work on handicrafts that require both skill and time — crafts like knitting, embroidery, sewing, and … well, I’m sure there are handicrafts beyond my own hobbies. Woodworking maybe? Sounds dangerous though… When’s the last time you saw someone take off a thumb with a crochet hook?"

http://www.unhurriedhome.com/the-trick-to-teaching-a-handicraft/

#charlottemason #homeschool #crafts #handicrafts #handiwork #twaddle #teachkidstosew #teachkidstoknit
We want to teach our children to create something beautiful, useful, and honoured for the time and effort it took. But maybe I've missed the point.
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When I posted about Frootogo earlier this week, I had no idea that the orchard was about to become such a hot topic. These are my thoughts on the outcry against their discriminatory actions: http://www.teaforthree.ca/2013/08/10/who-cares-if-it-happened-lets-just-be-angry/
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http://www.teaforthree.ca/2013/04/18/nature-is-for-playing/

In my daughter’s school playground there is a small log. It’s big enough that I can stand on it and try to balance as it moves under my feet, but small enough that the kindergarteners can move it around easily. The other day, I went to pick up my daughter and saw some kids trying to stand on it as it rocked back and forth. Their substitute teacher rushed over and told them to get off: “That’s not what it’s for!”

What is a small log in a school playground for, exactly?

Silly teacher. Nature is for playing on and in and through.
And with that in mind, we went to the Natural Playground yesterday at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton. To play outside in the warm sun. Welcome back, spring!

#mom, #Hamilton, #Blog, #HamOnt
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Tamara Watson

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Check out my latest guest post at momstown Hamilton on cleaning with essential oils!
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Tamara's Collections
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Living Life in the Slow Lane
Introduction
Trying to slow down life while chasing after three kids. Follow me for pins on homemade food, handmade clothes and homeschooled kids.
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Hamilton, Ontario
Tamara Watson's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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