Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Some of you who have read this blog for a while (or know us in real life) will remember that we have a fondness for a certain ogre and his princess in this family (I'm talking Shrek here, if you don't know).  Annika even had a Shrek themed party for her third birthday.  So, when I saw an infant Shrek costume for only $10 at my Y Neighbours sale a few weeks ago, I had to get it (even though we had already borrowed a different costume for Emmett).  Annika also already had a different costume, but really, what's Shrek without Fiona?  I already had a red wig in my "tickle trunk" so it was just a matter of getting a green dress and some gold sequins.  Everything came together nicely, and Annika loved being Fiona (and her other costume is big enough that she should still be able to wear it next year).  Here are a few pics from the evening.

"Shrek" was not too happy at first

Ready to go!

Princess Fiona
(there was a big debate whether to go as ogre Fiona or human Fiona, and Annika eventually decided on human Fiona, but we had little ogre ears ready to go as well)

(yup, we collected candy "for the baby." But we carried him around and brought him right to each door, so everyone could see how cute he was.  I hate when parents collect candy for their baby and leave them sitting in the stroller where I can't even see them).

How cute is he??


Since we both went out with the kids trick-or-treating, we missed seeing a lot of the cute, little kids come by our house.  By the time we got back home (we were only out for about half and hour, from 6:00 till 6:30), it was mostly older kids coming by.  That was a bit sad for me, because I like seeing the little kids in their costumes.  I was actually quite disappointed with the kids that came to our door.  Many weren't in costume (can you believe it!?!  Isn't that one of the basics of Halloween??), they rang the doorbell or knocked instead of saying trick or treat, and there was an appalling lack of "thank you's".  I think I might have to start getting tough with trick-or-treaters, like a friend of mine.  She makes each kid say trick or treat, tell her about their costume, and say thank you.  I'm just scared off ticking off some teenagers and that they'll come back with a carton of eggs!  Anyway, we turned out the lights at 8 to put the kids to bed, and we had about 65 kids come by (probably would've had at least 100 if we had been home the whole evening).  Now what to do with all the leftover candy....  :)

1000 gifts: #121

Today I'm thankful for photographs, precious moments beautifully preserved...

And thanks to our very talented friend, Melissa, for taking the pictures.

Friday, October 28, 2011

This moment - watching

"A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember." SouleMama

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sewing class #6

Last night was my last sewing class, and since I finished my pants last week, I had my new project ready to start.  Next up is a jumper for Annika, which will be her Christmas dress (assuming it turns out well!).  I'm making it out of a dark grey corduroy, and I've already found a cute red turtleneck for underneath, and black tights with white polka dots to go with it.  It's very plain and simple (and hopefully simple to sew!), so I thought I'd add a few funky buttons on the front to add a little visual interest.  At first I was thinking about trying to find buttons that were Christmas-y (or at least red or green), but I think I'm going to go with black and/or white buttons, so the dress stays neutral and she can wear it more. 

Last night I was able to get all the pieces laid out, marked and cut out (which was a bit more complicated than doing the pants), and I ironed on the interfacing to facing of the jumper.  Listen to me, talking like a sewer ;).  It doesn't sound like much, but it took all evening!  I was glad to be able to get those things done in class, where I still was able to get advice and guidance from the teacher.  It was my first time working with interfacing (which, for those aren't familiar, is a layer of fabric that adds stability to your fabric - for necklines, collars, cuffs, etc), so it was nice to have help with that.  The rest of the steps I think I'll be able to handle on my own.  Today while Emmett was napping and Annika was having quiet time, I sewed the facing to the jumper and I'm now ready to attach the front to the back (so much for getting housework done while Annika's at preschool!).  Stay tuned... pictures will be coming when it's all finished!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A handmade holiday

Christmas is now less than 2 months away, and I'm "toying" (haha, bad pun intended) with the idea of making gifts, or at least incorporating a handmade item into each gift (e.g. like pairing a Starbucks gift card with a reuseable cloth coffee cup sleeve).  I've come across so many neat ideas on Pinterest lately, but I just wonder whether I would have time and energy to get it all done.  I really like the idea of making gifts, and I think it sends a good message to the kids (even if they're a bit young to truly appreciate it) - that gift giving is more than just hustle and bustle at the mall, it's about putting thought and effort into making or doing (or even buying) something for another person to show them you care.  Now don't get me wrong, I don't think that gifts from a store don't have their value - sometimes people put a lot of time and effort into finding just the right gift, and that is great.  But I think too often we rush through the stores, last-minute, thinking "gotta buy something, gotta buy something" and the stress of it all overwhelms the desire to find something meaningful.

So here's a sneak peak at some of the ideas I'm thinking about making.  Obviously, I can't share them all, since some of the recipients read this blog. :)

For Annika, who loves dress-up clothes...

princess dress-up set


adorable little tutu

For Emmett...

"texture" book


Source: via Pamela on Pinterest

guitar pillow

For a "grab" gift, or maybe Annika's preschool teachers...

reuseable cloth coffee cup sleeve, maybe paired with a gift card?

My other goal for gifts this year (if I don't have time to make them) is to buy "experiential gifts" - gifts like movie or theatre tickets, gift cards to a favorite restaurant or coffee place, gift certificates for a manicure or pedicure, etc.  Things that can be used and enjoyed - experienced - without leaving clutter or "stuff" lying around afterwards.  I find there are several people on my list that are difficult to buy for, because they don't really need anything.  So giving the gift of an experience is worth more than just giving another trinket or doodad that will sit around unused or unappreciated.

So, those are some of my goals for gift-giving this year.  What about you?  What are your plans for gifts this year?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Upcycled: too-small tights into knee socks

I found this idea on Pinterest, and I absolutely love it!  Take tights that are too small and turn them into knee socks!  Annika has quite a few pairs of tights that she's grown out of, so I've got lots to work with.  It's just too bad that it's not really "knee socks" weather any more.  Although that didn't stop Annika - yesterday she wore them layered over top of her leggings!  I think she could also layer them over sheer tights too.  Annika is very into layering lately.  I'll have to start taking pictures of some of the outfits she comes up with. :P

Check out this link for the tutorial to make your own - she's got some really cute ideas for embellishing them as well!  Here's the ones I've done so far - the pictures don't quite do them justice (and the lighting is pretty bad).  I'll try to get some pictures of them "in action" soon!



And as for the tops of the tights?  Assuming the waist elastic isn't too tight, you can turn them into skirts, or just leave them as is (like little hot pants) and wear them under skirts or dresses for a little extra coverage in summer - or is my daughter the only one who can't seem to keep her dress down? :P

Monday, October 24, 2011

1000 gifts: #111-120

my husband, whose birthday it is today - happy birthday Carey!!

playdates that are good for the soul (oh yeah, and good for the kids too)

pumpkin cookies with caramel icing (recipe here)
the joy of creating, and seeing a project come to completion

free flu shots that will hopefully keep us from getting too sick this winter

children who behaved very well while getting their flu shots (just a few tears from each of them)

a second tooth for Emmett, with relatively little pain or fuss

clean floors (that only stay clean for a matter of minutes, oh well!)

a Saturday night just spent at home together (lately it has been rare for us to all be home on any night!)

beautiful weather for taking family pictures outside (I have to share this sneak peak - I just love it!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

This moment - sleeping angel

"A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember." SouleMama

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sewing class #4 and #5 - I made pants!!

I didn't blog about sewing class last week because there wasn't much to say.  We spent pretty much the whole class working on our pants, and I didn't want to post any pictures until I had them completed.  So this week, I finished the pants!!  Actually, I didn't quite finish them in class - I still had to hem them.  I did that this morning while Emmett napped, and now they're done!  It's so exciting to see a project come to completion, and Annika really loves them.  They're pretty big on her, but since I put in an adjustable waistband, she'll be able to wear them for quite a while.

What a cheesy little model :)

Adjustable waistband

Next week is my last class, and I'm sad that the class is almost over.  I've really enjoyed having the time to myself, to do something that I want to do (even though I've just been sewing stuff for Annika so far, and not for myself :P).  Class seems to go by so quickly when we're working on our projects.  At one point last night, I looked at the clock and it was already 8:00 (the class goes from 6:30-9:00).  I couldn't believe the time had gone so fast!  There's a "Learn to Sew" level 2 class starting up in a few weeks, but I won't be able to take it this time.  It's just too hectic, with Annika's swimming lessons on Tuesday evenings, and with the sewing class starting at 6:30.  Most Wednesdays Carey and I are like ships passing in the night - he gets home just as I'm getting ready to walk out the door.  I'd love to take the next class (and I even have my next project picked out and the fabric bought), but I know that it would be better for my family to be home with them.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to take this class though - it's been so good for me, and really helped me out of the "funk" I was in a little while ago.  There's something about creating things that it just good for the soul, at least I think so.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A few quick tips and tricks

A little bit of miscellaneous stuff for a Wednesday morning....

Does your hair get product build-up, or your shampoo seems to "stop working" and your hair doesn't feel clean?  I found this super easy trick for really clean hair on eHow (I love that website).  All you need is a little baking soda.  When you're in the shower, put a squirt of your regular shampoo in your hand, and then add a pinch of baking soda (maybe about a teaspoon or so?  I don't measure, since I'm in the shower!).  I keep a small, plastic container of baking soda in the shower, so I don't need to worry about the box getting wet.  Mix them together in your hand, and then lather up.  Let it sit for a minute or two, then rinse well.  Follow up with a light conditioner, and presto - clean hair!  I usually do this about once a week.

Another quick tip, this one is from my mother.  When you wear a camisole under a sweater, do you find it slips down at the neckline?  I have a few that do that, and I'm constantly pulling them up.  My mom gave me this easy tip - take 2 small safety pins, and pin the strap of your camisole to your bra strap on each side, and your camisole won't slip down anymore!

So there you go - happy Wednesday!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

1000 gifts: #101 - 110

Another week of things to be thankful for...

holding my baby while he sleeps (something that doesn't happen much anymore, now that he's constantly on the go)

trying new things, even if they don't go exactly as planned

a spruced-up wardrobe, for free (!!) thanks to a clothing exchange

little projects that produced big smiles (even for me - the thrill of figuring it out definitely made me smile)

Y Neighbours sale completed (it's a fun and busy day, but always a bit stressful planning for it)

another delicious Thanksgiving supper, made by the wonderful people at our church

enjoying the fall weather

Red Lobster biscuits

having the courage to speak up for what I believe in

a warm quilt on my bed

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Denim pocket purses

I made 2 of these adorable little purses (instructions here) this week - one for Annika and one for Annika's little friend, as a very belated birthday gift. 

I actually started this project more than a month ago (hoping it would be done in time for the birthday), however, when I got to the step about sewing the lining into the purse, my brain just shut down.  I could not, for the life of me, figure out how the 2 pieces were supposed to go together.  I got frustrated and put the whole thing away.  Then just this past week, I looked at the instructions again, and suddenly everything made sense and it came together pretty quickly.  And after Annika saw what I had made for her friend, I knew that I would have to make a second one (good thing jeans have 2 pockets!).  She loves hers and was so excited to give the other one to her friend. :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A weekend of "new-to-me" things

This weekend we have gotten quite a few "new-to-me" (aka used or second-hand or hand-me-down - whatever you prefer!) things, and it's been very exciting.  Lately I've really gotten on board with buying (or even better, receiving for free) used stuff instead of new.  Not only is it usually cheaper (there are a few things you can get just as cheap new, especially if you watch for deals, but most of the time it's cheaper), but it's also a very "green" way to shop.  Items that may have been discarded and ended up in the garbage, just because one person no longer had use for them, are given a new life and stay out of the landfills.

On Friday, I attended at ladies clothing exchange.  If you've never been to a clothing exchange before, you're missing out!  They are so much fun, plus they're a great way to freshen up your wardrobe (for free!).  The basic idea is that everyone brings clothes (plus other stuff like shoes, purses, accessories, even small household items) that are still in good condition, but are no longer loved or being used.  Then everything is put into piles (we divide by categories - pants, skirts, tops, etc) and it's a free for all!  You grab what you like (and sometimes you have to be pretty quick to grab!) and what you think would fit you, and then start trying stuff on.  Whatever works you can keep, and whatever doesn't goes back into the pile for someone else.  At the end of the night, whatever is left over is donated to a local thrift shop. 

I've attended a few clothing exchanges in the past, and haven't been overly successful.  However, I hit the jackpot at this one.  I brought a laundry basket full of clothes and went home with a laundry basket full of clothes!  I got 11 tops (camisoles, sweaters, t-shirts, etc), 2 skirts (a corduroy one that will be great for fall and a light, flowery one that will have to wait until spring), a denim blazer and a corduroy purse (I really like corduroy).  The purse is pretty big, so it might almost pass for a diaper bag, for just short trips when I don't need to bring along too much.  I'm too lazy to take pictures of anything right now, but maybe another day.  My one disappointment of the night was a beautiful, homemade brown dress that almost fit me, but was just too tight around my ribcage, so I had to pass it on to a friend.  It was actually a dress that had been my mother-in-law's in the '70s.  I really liked it, but I like breathing more. ;)  There was also another dress that was really pretty, and fit me pretty well, but was just too uncomfortable, so I passed on it.  But all in all, it was a good night.

Today was my fall Y Neighbours Used Kids' clothing and toy sale, so I got a couple "new" things for the kids as well.  I had to restrain myself somewhat while shopping, because there's not a lot that they actually need.  We have plenty of toys, and both of them actually have most of what they'll need for winter clothes already, thanks to other hand-me-downs (seriously, I think about 80% of the kids' wardrobes are "new-to-them", which is awesome).  One thing that Emmett was still needing was winter boots, and I found a pair of Robeez boots, in his size, for only $5.  Score!  I also found a shirt and a pair of pants for him, and a Halloween costume.  I'll admit, the costume was not something he needed.   I had already borrowed a costume from a friend, but when I saw this costume today, I just had to get it (and it was only $10).  Anyone who was at the sale has seen the costume, but for everyone else, I'm keeping it a secret until Halloween.  But just know that it's awesome. :) 

I had a hard time buying something for Annika, since like I said, she didn't really need anything.  But I knew that I couldn't come home with a bunch of stuff for Emmett and nothing for her, so I bought her a movie (Happily N'ever After) and a pair of shoes.  She loved them both (yay for me).  The velcro tabs on the shoes need to be replaced, but other than that they're great.  What girl wouldn't love sparkly pink shoes with flowers on them?? :)

So that's all the "new" stuff around here.  And the best part - it was less than $25 for it all. :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

A good read?

For the past several years, Carey and I have given each other magazine subscriptions as Christmas presents.  Usually we also buy something larger together that counts as a Christmas present (last year it was our laptop), but it's also nice to have something that is just for him, or just for me.  And a magazine subscription is great, because it's a gift that continues all year. 

Carey always gets Popular Mechanics - yawn, he can have that one all to himself.  Although, I did learn this interesting fact from PM - in the case of an on-going emergency situation, one of the most useful things to have in your "stockpile" is beer - apparently you can then trade it for just about anything else you need. ;)

Anyways, for a few years I got Glamour magazine.  And I really liked it for a while, but about 2 years ago I started feeling that it wasn't overly relevant to me anymore.  The articles about relationships focused on finding the right man, which I had already done.  There was lots of beauty and fashion info that was completely useless to me, as I'm not one to go purchase new 'fads' or change my beauty routine very often.  Articles about careers - no thanks.  Recipes - nothing that I could feed my kids.  There were still some articles that I found interesting (and I liked that it had some celebrity news without being overly tabloid-ish), and the "do's and don't's" were always fun to look at, but overall, I figured that maybe it was time to try something different.

So, for the past year I've subscribed to Today's Parent, thinking it would be more appropriate for my life.  However, I haven't really enjoyed it.  Since it is for parents of kids of all ages, there is often quite a bit of information that's not relevant to the stage that we're at.  And I'm not likely to remember what I've read years from now, and I'm definitely not going to keep the magazines for years and years until the info is relevant.  The other thing I don't really like about it is that it seems to me that there is sort of an "attachment parenting" slant to a lot of the articles.  Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the attachment parenting style - in fact, one of my dearest friends uses that style of parenting, and I have learned quite a lot from her.  However, it is not my style of parenting.  At least not as a whole.  So I don't really want to pay to read about things like extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping, just as I didn't want to pay for fashion advice that I wouldn't use.  The one other thing I didn't really like was that this was supposed to be a present just for me, something fun and relaxing, and I didn't really want to think about bedtime routines or if I should feel guilty about vaccinating my children when I'm having "me" time.

So I won't be renewing my subscription to Today's Parent this year.  Which brings me to my question - what magazine should I get instead?  I'd like something that maybe has some parenting info, but is not completely focused on that.  Something with practical ideas for beauty and fashion; easy, kid-friendly recipes; and maybe just a small dose of celebrity news (I don't watch any reality shows, so I feel completely out of touch with magazines like People and Us that have teen moms and survivors and Kardashians on their covers half the time).  Does anyone have any suggestions? 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweet, sweet, little Emmett (the end of the glare-off contest)

You know how they say that it takes 7 positive comments to make up for 1 negative comment?  Well, I feel the need to balance out Emmett's "reputation" (or whatever you want to call it), now that he's out of the "evil baby glare-off" competition.  So for that one "evil" picutre, here are 7 pictures that celebrate how truly sweet and cute he is.  Some of these pictures have been posted before, but I think they deserve a repeat.  Get ready to say "awwww"....

I love his "old man with no teeth" expression


Emmett's version of baby-proofing ;)

Little toes, how I love those little toes.

A little mischevious...

...a little silly...

...and seriously cute.

Love you Emmett!

A few more words about the "glare-off" contest:

I'm actually sort of glad that Emmett is out of the contest now.  When I entered Emmett in it, I thought of it as something funny and silly, and "evil" in a "I'm going to steal your cheerios and knock over your blocks" kind of way.  However, it became apparent as the contest went on (and people made comments) that others were taking the "evil" part a lot more literally.  I didn't like that.  I also really didn't like the caption that was initially under Emmett's picture yesterday, and I apologize to those of you who went to vote for him and had to see it (for those who didn't see it, it included the "f" word).  Not the kind of thing I want my baby associated with.  I asked them to change it, and they were nice enough to do so without making a big deal over it (I was totally prepared for a barrage of comments that I was being a spoilsport or was too sensitive).  If they hadn't changed it, I was ready to take Emmett out of the contest.  Anyways, it's over now for us, and I'm glad.  However, Emmett will likely still pull out his glare from time to time.  Just to remind you that he could steal your cheerios at any time...