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The world is bursting with magic, and for anyone looking, it positively pulses. As a family of life-long learners, we felt compelled to share a few of our favourite activities in one compact notebook of removable cards (coming soon!). We are now in our 4th year of officially homeschooling our boys, which means full time of the stuff we did around the edges of their ‘normal’ education at public school.

We love the unknown and the ‘around the edges’ stuff like family bike rides, traveling, and art all day, and have always found places like Kahn Academy and Skillshare, to be grounding companions. With so many students of the world currently homeschooling, or hodge-podge schooling via Zoom and Flipgrid (like we are!), we have decided (thanks Silas!) to unearth this Peg and Awl project have turned it into a free downloadable PDF: Specimen Cards! 

Whether embarking on a backyard exploration, a community science project, travelling near or far, or identifying mysterious objects around your house, these cards encourage observation, drawing, writing, and a touch of research. However you use them, we hope they inspire you to always keep an eye out for the little things!

Download the Printable PDF

Specimen Cards by Peg and Awl
Silas drawing daffodils on a portable desk made by Søren!
Silas shows me his mushroom specimen!
Sampling of the coming soon Specimen Card notebook.
Collection of Specimen Cards by Silas!
Designing the Specimen Card book – including Silas's original drawings!
Closeup of updated Specimen Card, nearly finalized!

I am sure my right arm* is stronger for all of the writing and stitching and hauling of pages in journals for so many years of my life. So many miles we’ve traveled together, me and my books. I wonder how many miles of words I’ve written if strung end to end? The first journal that I made was stolen in a café in Amsterdam. What the journal thief couldn’t possibly know was that his actions would set me upon a path.

Massive Handbound Journals covered with antique leather and handmade details

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The first abandoned house I remember exploring was across from the grocery store my mom and I skipped to, arm in arm, when I was in 7th grade. We had seen its decaying Victorian turrets peeking above the abundance of neglected foliage many times before braving its withered threshold. Early one Spring, we ventured into that liminal space and I don't believe I ever completely left. Inside reeked of piss and mildew. Broken bottles and yellowed newspapers made a foul floor for weekend teenagers. But in the center – beneath a makeshift skylight and its funnel of wintry, warm, yellow sun – grew a single white tulip. Discovering this unexpected beauty with my mom so long ago, was surely a heavy pour in the cocktail of experiences from my youth that helped determine who I was to become.⁠

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Here are some of my favourite little and big things. I am often overwhelmed by stuff I have, stuff I want, the general problem of stuff. But I was reminded the other day how important our small businesses are – to the economy, to those around us, to the people we work with and the materials we use – this all has value that is sometimes hard to see. This got me to really appreciating some of the little treasures around me –

Above: Our very best everyday present is our Pearl! We got her from Providence Animal Center last December and not a day goes by where don’t express our gratitude in our silly voices and normal voices, for being paired with the very best doggo in the world!

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