Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A woman's prerogative...

... is to change her mind, right?  So I'm changing my mind about the October Dress Project.  I've decided not to participate this year.

At first I was really excited about doing it (as I wrote in this post), and I even bought a "new-to-me" dress for wearing for the month of October.  As you may recall, the purpose of the ODP is to wear the same dress for 31 days, in the name of "anti-consumerism, pro-simplicity, anti-conformity, pro-imagination."  I wanted to do this to start getting more creative with my wardrobe and get out of my 'jeans-and-shirt' rut.  I figured that it would force me to look at my clothes differently and start accessorizing and creating new outfits.

However, when I started thinking of what I was going to wear with my dress for the month, I  encountered a problem - I didn't actually own any of the things that I wanted to wear with it.  Cute tights?  Nope.  Fun belts??  All I have is black.  Colorful shoes???  Again, no.  I wanted to accessorize, but I had a very limited supply of accessories.  I had a few things in my existing wardrobe that I could wear with the dress, but I had a vision of myself just wearing it over the same pair of skinny jeans for more than half the time.

So I went to the mall.

I was actually in Sears with 2 pairs of $12 (each) tights in my hands when I thought "wait a minute - this is crazy.  This totally counteracts the whole purpose of the ODP".  It really defeats the purpose of being "anti-consumerism" if it just makes you want to go out and buy new things, right?  So I put the tights down and slowly stepped away from the hosiery department.  And I reconsidered if this experiment is right for me, right now.

In the end, I decided that right now, this isn't the right thing for me.  Like I said, I don't have a lot of accessories in my wardrobe, and while I'd like to eventually change that, I don't think the right way to do it is to buy things solely because I want them to go with this one dress for this month.  And like I said, I'm obviously missing out on the "anti-consumerism" and "pro-simplicity" aspects of the project, if it makes my green-eyed shopping monster perk up just thinking about it.

So, rather than doing the October Dress Project, I'm going to try to be more purposeful in working with what I have in my wardrobe, and perhaps adding a few new pieces to it (hopefully at an upcoming clothing swap where it will be for free!).  I'm going to try to take more risks (I have several scarves, but I've never really been a scarf-wearer - perhaps now is the time???) and get rid of the stuff that just doesn't work for me (I'm talking to you, white-skirt-that-I-never-ever-wear).  It's not as exciting as the October Dress Project, and I probably won't blog about it much, but it's what I feel comfortable with.

And I can always change my mind again, right? ;)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Niagara Falls/Toronto trip

It's been pretty quiet here on the blog because we were away last week.  Carey and I went on a little vacation - without kids!!  We left on Wednesday and went to Toronto and Niagara Falls.  We flew into Toronto, took a bus to Niagara Falls for 2 days, and then went back to Toronto for 2 days.  We got back late on Saturday night.  Here's a few photos and highlights from our trip. 

The view from our room on the 14th floor of The Oakes hotel.

We had our laptop with us, so we sent the kids pictures while we were away.  Apparently when Annika saw this picture she was a bit concerned that the boat was going to hit the rainbow. :)

Squinty squinty in the bright sun.  Carey's sunglasses broke just before we left, and I got an eye infection just before leaving and had to wear my glasses for the first few days of our vacation.

Waiting to board "The Maid of the Mist."  This silly plastic poncho just about suffocated me a few times - it kept blowing over my face. :P

On "The Maid of the Mist".  Because I had to wear my glasses, I didn't see much when we were right near the falls - too much water on my lenses.

After our boat ride.  The American Falls are on the left, and the Horseshoe Falls are at the very right.

Being silly tourists (Niagara Falls is full of them, so you don't feel out of place acting like a tourist!).

In Toronto we went on a "hop on, hop off" tour of the city.  Watch out for those low bridges!  The funniest part of the tour was when the 2 old British ladies sitting behind us pointed out a guy mooning us from his apartment window.  They thought it was hilarious (as did we), but the tour guide didn't look impressed (I wonder how often that happens...).

It was a bright and windy day on top of the bus.  Luckily I was able to wear my contacts and could wear my sunglasses.  We stopped at a Shoppers Drug Mart later in the day and got some sunglasses for Carey.

Our city tour package also included a 1 hour boat tour.  The CN Tower from Lake Ontario.

The Rogers Centre (aka SkyDome) from the top of the CN Tower.

The glass floor.  It took me a few minutes to work up the courage to stand on it, although apparently it's strong enough to support 14 large hippos.
The view from the top.

I'm not crazy about heights, but Carey is helping me get over it (every time we're on vacation he makes me go up somewhere high).  I have a collection of pictures of me at various high places - I think this is the most relaxed-looking one of them all.

Casa Loma.  Sir Henry Pellatt built it as a birthday gift for his wife.  I don't remember what Carey got me for my last birthday....  just sayin'.....   Although, Sir Pellatt did eventually have to auction off the place and everything he owned and died almost penniless, so I guess I don't need a castle. ;)

Not so "secret" anymore. ;)

It was a great trip, and really nice to have some time for just the two of us, however, it was really busy!  We saw and did a lot of things, but I think for our next vacation, we'll need to schedule in some nap time!

Monday, September 17, 2012

1000 gifts: #208-214

208. The excitement and anticipation of planning for our trip to Toronto/Niagara Falls.

209. Two girls' nights in the past week - book club last Monday and a bachelorette party last Saturday.  While it was fun to go out, I was reminded (early) on Sunday morning why I usually don't stay out past 10:00!

210. Getting back into routine.

211. Yummy pumpkin muffins and looking forward to a new season, with new sights, smells, tastes and temperatures!

212. After-naptime cuddles with Emmett.

213. Playing card games with Annika after supper (she loves Uno and Go Fish, but she puts all her cards out face-up on the table, so we always know what she has :P).

214. Patience - something I don't naturally have much of, but I'm slowly learning.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

From pinned to practice

I was a Pinterest machine this week!  I tried out SIX pins in the past week!  First off, my favorite...

#1. Burger "secret sauce"

The official name of this recipe is "Best Burger Sauce" but really, they should just call it "best sauce ever" because you'll want to put it on everything!!  At least I did. :)  It's a pretty simple recipe - mayo, ketchup, mustard and a few spices, but it is SO GOOD.  In the past week I've had it with burgers (obviously that's where it started), sandwiches, farmer sausage, french fries and oven-baked potato wedges.  The recipe made a pretty big batch (and I even halved it), and we don't eat burgers that often, which is what initially led me to try it out on other things.  Then I discovered it was good with pretty much anything, and just kept going.  Next time, though, I'll have to make it with some light mayo if I'm going to keep putting it on everything!!

#2. Peanut butter banana oatmeal squares

(sorry, no picture of my own)
After last week's delicious peanut butter banana "sushi", I was eager to try out this breakfast recipe, especially since everyone in the comments raved about how good it was.  However, I was a bit disappointed.  I didn't really like it, and I don't think anyone around here really did, since I just threw out the last few pieces that had gone moldy on the counter.  It reminds me of baked oatmeal, and I think it would be better eating it hot, and maybe drizzled with some syrup.

#3. Homemade Play Dough

We go through a LOT of Play-Doh.  Here's my "bad mommy" confession - I let Emmett play with it on the floor in the office (which has been transformed into a kids' craft/play room), and it often gets forgotten and dried out on the floor.  However, I've found that cleaning up dried up Play-Doh off the floor is actually relatively easy, so I let him do it.  Sometimes I'll try to make sure that it ends up back in the can when he's done, but a lot of our Play-Doh was at the stage where it's not nice and fresh anymore, but it's also not dried out enough to throw out, so leaving it out to dry actually gives me an excuse to just throw it out.  That worked for a while, but then our supply started running low, so I decided to try making it myself.

This was my first time making play dough, and it turned out so well that I'll probably never buy the stuff again!  I actually made it twice this past week.  First we made orange (I used Wilton gel color to get the really vibrant color) and then, at Annika's request, we made purple.  For the purple I used Kool-Aid to color it, and I was quite surprised that grape Kool-Aid doesn't make purple play dough.  It was more of a turquoise-blue color, so I quickly added some red food coloring before Annika noticed.  The Kool-Aid makes it smell really yummy, though.  It's like playing with a big wad of grape bubble gum. :)

#4. & #5. Harvest pumpkin dip & Pumpkin pie spice

These two go together because I used the pumpkin pie spice in the pumpkin dip (sorry, no pictures of my own).  I made the dip for taking to my Y Neighbours potluck brunch yesterday.  I served it with apple slices and ginger snaps.  I thought it was quite yummy, but there was so much food there that quite a lot was leftover (and the recipe makes quite a lot of dip - I'd recommend making this for a large gathering or party, not just for your family at home).  Afterwards, Emmett thought it was really good though - I spread it on some cookies for him, and he licked it all off and left the cookies!

#6. "Magic" shower cleaner - Dawn dish soap and vinegar

(again, sorry no pictures of my own - I guess I was too busy this week to take pictures!)
This worked really well for me - got the shower and tub sparkling clean - but I have to say that I'm a little skeptical about the "magic" part of the description.  I followed the directions on the website (mix equal parts soap and hot vinegar, apply, let sit, then wipe and rinse), and I let it sit for about 2 hours.  The website mentioned leaving it to sit overnight for really stubborn soap scum.  I'm guessing, though, that almost any kind of cleaner would work like "magic" if you let it sit that long - no??  Usually I use Norwex cleaning paste to clean the shower/tub, and I just start scrubbing with it right away.   However, if I put a layer of it on and then waited 2 hours, would I need to do the scrubbing?  Would it also work like "magic"?  Just a thought.  I might try it out next time and see how it compares.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First day of preschool - second time around

Yesterday was Annika's first day of preschool.  This is her second year at the same preschool (it's for ages 3 and 4), so she walked in like a pro yesterday.  One quick kiss and she was on her way (and I was a lot better this year too!). ;)

We had a bit of a challenge getting a decent "first day of school" picture.  For some reason, the phrases "stand up straight", "look at me" and "smile nicely" just don't compute for Annika. :P  She has a tendency to do this weird thing where she curls her upper lip in (looks kind of like a squirrel face to me) or she looks away or tilts her head or sticks out her tummy...

She picked out her outfit herself.  I wouldn't have necessarily chosen the lime green capris to go with that jumper, but oh well.  Some things just aren't worth a fight (and they weren't that visible anyways).  I was just happy that she finally fit into that jumper!  I bought it probably about 2 years ago, and it's (mis)labelled a size 3 (but probably more like a 5 - it's even a little loose on her now).

We got to school a few minutes early, so she had time to play on the swings before it was time to go in (it was a bright sunny day, so she's squinting in these pictures).

Found her name and hook!  It was in the same place as last year. :)

She had a great first day and she's looking forward to going back.  On the drive home yesterday she kept saying, "when I go to school tomorrow...." and I had to keep reminding her that she'd have to wait 2 days to go back.  :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

1000 gifts: fall routine

Summer was great, but right now I'm so thankful for fall and to be getting back into activities and routine.  Over the summer I found that not enough routine/activity wasn't good for the kids (or me), and neither was too much.  It was a balancing act to find that perfect spot of being just busy enough without being too busy.  Hopefully with all we've got scheduled for fall, it will be just right!  So thankful for all these opportunities!!

201. Annika's preschool - starting today!  Annika will be going to the same preschool as last year, but this year she's in the "4 year old" class (she's actually in a 3/4 year old combined class, so this is a big deal to be one of the older kids now).  She'll be going 3 afternoons a week.  Today she was very excited about the fact that on Mondays it would be a small class (Monday is an optional day, not everyone chooses to go - so far there are only 7 kids in the Monday class) and she would have just her favorite teacher there.  Pictures to come tomorrow!

202. Annika's dance class - starting at the end of September, she'll be doing a 10 week ballet class on Saturday afternoons.  Even though she always seemed a little tired and dazed in her last ballet class, she asked all summer long about when ballet would start again.  This time the class is a little earlier, so hopefully she'll be a little more upbeat when she's there! 

203. Annika's swimming lessons - starting at the beginning of October.  I didn't really want to do swimming and dance at the same time, but Annika said that she really wanted to do them both.  I figured it was a good sign that she wanted to do swimming again (she enjoys it, despite the fact that she'll be repeating her level for the 4th time), so I said okay.  She'll have swimming lessons on Tuesday afternoons, at 4:30 (hopefully with having lessons before supper there won't be as many pool closings as last time!).  We decided not to put Emmett in swimming lessons right now (there are only so many times you can sing "The Grand Ol' Duke of York"), so he'll be spending some time with Grandma while I take Annika to swimming.

204. Emmett's "Baby Rhyme Time" class - starting at the beginning of October for 8 weeks.  I wanted to do something for Emmett (poor second child gets so neglected), so I signed us up for this free (yay!) parent/baby class at the library on Friday mornings (Annika will get some Grandma time then).  

205. Y Neighbours - starting tomorrow!!  Yay, definitely looking forward to getting back into my Tuesday morning routine, even if it does mean that we have to get up a bit earlier to be there by 9:00am (the kids are usually up around 8:00am, so sometimes it can be a bit of a rush).

206. My book club - starting tonight!  Another thing that I'm really looking forward to for myself. :)  Tonight we're meeting for dessert (of course) and discussing our summer read - the "50 Shades" trilogy.  Should be a great evening!

207. A mini-vacation!!  Carey and I have booked a little getaway (4 days, 3 nights) to Toronto/Niagara Falls for the end of September.  Definitely looking forward to a few days of kid-free time with my hubby and getting to see places I've never seen before.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The October Dress Project

A while ago a friend made a comment on Facebook about "the October Dress Project" and it made me curious.  I had heard of the Uniform Project before, which was a girl who wore the same little black dress for a whole year, but what was this October Dress Project??  I looked into it a bit more and here's some info from their blog:
Here is the basic idea: for thirty-one days, from October 1st to October 31st, you will build all your outfits around one single dress. You will put this dress on in some way, shape, or form, every time you get dressed.

Why? There are a lot of a different women participating, and each participates for different reasons, but the motto sums it up as 'anti-consumerism, pro-simplicity, anti-conformity, pro-imagination.' This can translate into a lot of different motivations, from an out-of-control wardrobe to a concern for environmental sustainability, from an intellectual exercise to a deep rethinking of what you do with your clothes and why. It encourages thinking of your clothing more creatively as you use one dress as a canvas for the other clothes you have in your wardrobe. It prompts dressing more responsibly as you begin to reevaluate the versatility of a single garment. It helps you to cut away the clutter surrounding personal worth, body image, and consumer culture (one of the first thing many people notice is that no one else notices them wearing the same dang thing every day!) It gives you a starting point to begin challenging cultural norms of buying habits and our perception of needs.

31 days seems like a really long time to wear the same thing, but I'm going to attempt it!  I even bought my "October dress" yesterday.  I know, I know, it seems a bit counter-intuitive to go out and buy something new for a project that supposed to help you learn about anti-consumerism, but they do acknowledge on their website that you may need to buy a dress to have something that's versatile enough to last all month (while I have several dresses already, none of them were really suitable for a month-long wearing).  And I bought my dress at Value Village, which is something new for me.  I don't usually shop second-hand, mostly because I usually feel overwhelmed when I walk into a place like that and you have to hunt to find what you're looking for.  However, I want to make an effort to buy second-hand clothes more often, because they're often still in excellent condition, for much cheaper.  Although, I have to admit, I was a bit surprised at the $13 price tag on my dress.  Sure, it was in great condition, but it was more than I was expecting from Value Village.

Here's my dress.  I was hoping to find a grey dress, but there was nothing in my size, and I liked this brown one (it's actually very similar to a purple dress that I had when I was a teenager!).  Just a question though - can you wear black with brown??  I hope so!  I like that the dress has snaps all the way down, so I'll have more style options (I could even wear it totally unsnapped and open, like a cardigan over a shirt and jeans).

So, why am I doing this?  Well, it's not because I need to learn to buy fewer clothes (despite the fact that I like to have new things, I actually really dislike shopping for clothes for myself) or get my wardrobe under control (since I've been participating in clothing swaps regularly it's really helped to get rid of those seldom-worn items).  My main motivation for doing this is to learn to look at my wardrobe more creatively.  I've never been great at creating "outfits" and accessorizing, and since having kids, I've done even less of that.  Why bother putting together a fun outfit just for hanging out with a preschooler?  Or why bother putting on a cute necklace or scarf if it's just going to get pulled on by little hands??  I'm stuck in a rut, and I'd like to break out of it.  I think this is going to force me to be more creative with my clothes.

So now if you notice me wearing the same thing all the time in October, you'll know why!  I'm planning to take a picture of my outfit each day, and post them here once a week (I'm not good with doing daily posts so I figured once a week would be better).  I'm excited for this challenge.  What about you??  Anyone want to join me???

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

From pinned to practice: banana "sushi"

We were away for the long weekend (which also meant that Friday/Tuesday were mostly consumed with packing and unpacking), so I've only tried out one new pin in the past week:

Banana "sushi"

It seems like such an easy and delicious idea - take a banana, cover it with peanut butter, roll it in Rice Krispies and cut it into pieces.

Delicious, it was.  Peanut butter and banana is always a good combo, but I really like the added crunch of the Rice Krispies.  The kids thought it was really good too.

Easy, it was not.  Or maybe I should just say that it was really, really messy.  Trying to spread an entire banana with peanut butter was tricky.  There was peanut butter everywhere (the second time I tried it, I broke the banana in half first, and it was slightly less messy).  Then trying to roll it in the Rice Krispies also made a mess.  And it was messy to eat (maybe eating with a fork or putting little toothpicks in each piece would make it better??).

But it was good. 

And you know what would likely be AMAZING??? 

Nutella instead of peanut butter.