A lifestyle blog, with lots of photography, creating and pretty things.

October 01, 2013

I Did It

Over a month ago I talked about being Scared, scared of starting a new job.

Today I started that new job and couldn't be happier. It was the right decision.

More to come on this new adventure and how it is going to bring my balance to my life and exciting new challenges for my career. But for now, my brain is drained from new information overload.

September 22, 2013

I'm Proud of You

Ahh, Mr. Rogers. He was genuine, as a kid you never doubted the fact that the Mr. Rogers you saw on the screen was the same man off the screen, but as sceptical adults you develop those doubts.
 
After the Boston Marathon bombing, I came across this quote for the first time (although it has been around much longer):
 
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
                                                                                                       ~ Fred Rogers

And then I came across this compilation of "Heartwarming and Beautiful Facts" about him. What a great guy, huh?

Finally, I discovered Alexandra Franzen's blog (I have mentioned her on here before) and she is also a BIG Mr. Rogers fan. She talks about this book, "I'm Proud of You." I just finished it and can honestly say I cried and smiled through every chapter. There are quite a few religious undertones to the book but it doesn't take away from the message (if religion is not your thing).

 
Cute side story: I left the book in the van for my husband to return to the library for me. He started to read it himself. I had to renew it so he could finish it. He was reading it in the van while waiting for the boys to be done at school and shed some tears as well. A couple of days later a couple of the moms approached him to see if everything was okay because they saw him crying!
 
 



September 08, 2013

Back to School

All 3 of my boys are now going to the same school. I remember when Grayden was born and calculating how old he and his brothers would be when they would all be in school together. It seemed so impossibly far away but last week it actually arrived.


I almost feel a little sorry for all of the teachers having these 3 roaming the halls together. To make myself feel better, I try to believe they save their most rambunctious behaviour for home.



I love that all 3 of their teachers keeps a blog that tells me what they are working on and what is coming up in the class. It helps to ask specific questions about their day if you are looking for an answer other than, "I don't know" or "I can't remember".

This feels like a new chapter in our lives. I am excited; bring it!

September 02, 2013

From This to That: Cowls, Owls, Journals & Enthusiasm

I have been on a creating spree, turning materials from one thing into another this weekend. It has been fun, it hasn't taken away from my family time AND I still got some laundry on the clothesline. I call that a score, touchdown, nothing but net WIN.

My yarn went From This:


To That:


It is a big, florescent, super chunky cowl. It will definitely keep my neck warm in the colder months and I do believe I will be safer as no car is going to miss those colours on a gray Vancouver day.

I used my arms as knitting needles, super-fun. If you are looking for a quick project, you can check out Simply Maggie's tutorial complete with video. I made 2 of these for girlfriends before I made mine and used regular worsted weight yarn. They turned out very nice and I used the recommended stitch count of 12. They were very loose and airy.

 For mine, I used 12 stitches and suffocated myself when I was checking the length.  I ripped out the stitches to start again just casting on 6 stitches. I only wish I had made it a bit longer but I would have needed a second skein of each colour.

And then my clay went From This:


To That:


Playing with clay makes me feel good. It helps that my kids encourage me by saying I am awesome and can make anything (thanks boys!). I used Sculpey III clay, it stays soft even when I forget to cover it until you bake it. Be warned, the baking instructions are not on the package. You can find it on the website or use this rule: bake 15 minutes for every 1/4" of thickness at 175 degrees. F. For these little critters, I baked them for 30 minutes.

The clay is very hot and stays very hot for a good hour after you take it out of the oven. It may not feel like it is hard enough for you when you first take it out but trust me, it gets harder as it cools down.

My wallpaper scraps went From This:


To That:


A pretty little journal. I had my sewing machine out to fix my oldest son's backpack for back-to-school tomorrow and tackled this mini-project I have been thinking about for awhile.

It really took less than 10 minutes. I folded 10 sheets of letter paper in half, cut out the wallpaper a smidge bigger all around than the paper and sewed them all together along the fold.

I think I have a new book to brainstorm blog post ideas!

And finally, some blank paper and an exercise went From This:


To That:


One page full of the things I love to do that make me hum with happiness; inspire me; recharge my battery.

Michelle Ward is generously offering this sample chapter of her book, The Declaration of You, when you sign up for her newsletter. She is the When I Grow Up Coach and I want to have as much fun as she does, doing what I love when I grow up!

Please visit her and become inspired.

What did you make this weekend?

August 28, 2013

I AM

Via my regular reading of my friend Vivienne's blog, Be Your Own Beloved, I discovered Alexandra Franzen. And what a delight she is!

I have read pages of posts on her blog and so wish she would publish said posts in a book. I would read it and re-read it, lend it to a friend and then read it again.

When I signed up for Alexandra's newsletter she sent me (...but I am sure she would send you one too if you signed up as well), a copy of the great I AM worksheet. You can also find it on her blog here.

It is a fun exercise and one that I would like to do again to see how I have changed and evolved.

So for the record, here is who I AM (today):

I am a wife, mother and a Facilities Manager.

But really, I'm a dreamer, organizer, creator and idea generator.

I am amazing at loving my family and organizing the hell out of our household.

And I've devoted most of my life to searching for the one project I can sink my teeth into; the one where my mind, body and heart sing "yes, this is the one!"

When you work with me, you can expect encouragement and yes, lots of organization.

And you'll probably be surprised & delighted by my goal to smile and have fun while completing any task.

My work matters because I matter and I bring my own brand of optimism and problem solving to all things I work on.

And I am here to remind you that details and people all need attention.

My question for you is why judge when you can accept a situation or remove yourself from it when it doesn't fit in with your ideals?

To sum it up? I am an optimistic, friendly soul who has big creative dreams. I am a researcher and seeker of projects. I am a work in progress. I am Creating Harmony, one day at a time.

August 25, 2013

A New Tee for Me!

I love unique t-shirts and it seems the only way to get one that is truly unique is on Etsy (that may be debateable) or to make one  yourself. I do love the Etsy Shop Friendly Oak (and will probably buy a shirt or 2 from them) but decided to go the DIY route first.

I was going to use any old gel medium I could find at my local craft store to create my shirt but then discovered that Mod Podge has a special medium specifically for photo transfers. I picked it up on Friday and was off to the races.

I decided to experiment on a shirt Connor had and used an image I found online of Slender-Man (he is obsessed with this lately).

I printed out the image, covered the picture side with the gel and placed it on the shirt. It recommends to leave it for 24 hours but I don't have the patience for that kind of waiting when I am excited about a project. So, after about 8 hours it felt dry enough to me to see what I created.


What you do after the "24 hours" is wet the image and gently rub off the paper portion. I wasn't sure what to expect, I thought just the ink would be left on the shirt and I was afraid that it was going to run and smudge onto the white shirt. But no, the people at Mod Podge do not disappoint! The gel medium changes the image in such a way that no smudging occurs and the image itself is turned into a rubbery applique that is flexible and is adhered to the shirt. Disclaimer, the bottle says to only use a dry toner image but I used my inkjet with no problems at all.


The only black smudges on the shirt were from my fingers, it was all those black pieces of paper you see above. I rinsed the shirt out and hung it out to dry - no more black fingerprints.


I didn't cut out the images and over-applied the gel onto the white part of the paper. In this case it worked out nicely as the image looks like an old photo and the frayed white edges just fit.

Onto experiment number 2. I used one of my older white shirts to try and perfect my technique. I printed out this seahorse illustration and cut out all the tiny details. If you like the look of vintage science illustrations, do a Google Images search for Ernst Haeckel (you're welcome).

 
Next time I would leave a white border around my image (as long as I was putting it on a white shirt) as the little spikes along his tail were quite fragile and I did rip the tail a bit getting the paper off.


Connor is more excited about his shirt than he appears in this photograph. He is just practicing his "I am a pre-teen and nothing excites me look."

August 24, 2013

Project Life - Week 11


Here is the layout I made from the week my dad was visiting. It was a full week, I just wish I had picked-up my camera a bit more. We had lots of good times that included late night card games with drinks and snacks and going outside after midnight to take pictures of the stars.

I did learn to take some awesome macro shots from my dad. Wish he lived closer so we could have more photo dates!


Here is one of my macro shots. After my last post, I am starting to make some plans.

August 21, 2013

Scared.

I am struggling to break through the rut I have found myself in.

I see ways to do it, but I am scared at the same time.

There is a chance for me to change jobs, to a job that I will enjoy and will allow me more flexibility (I can work from home!) and let me manage projects (which I love).  The money would be the same and I have worked with the company and people at that company before so as far as risks go it isn't that bad. But there is the big WHAT IF factor? What if they don't like me? What if they decide they really don't need another project manager? What if, what if, what if??? And I have stability right now even if that comes with a 3-hour commute, both ways, on top of my 8 hour day.

Scared.

I have set-up my Etsy shop and have paralyzed myself into inaction that anything I put out there won't hold up against all of the items I drool over when I visit Etsy to shop. I want to create more and share my creations but I am not sure this is the right time for me to open shop. Perhaps I should just focus more on creating for creating's sake and see what comes from that. But if now is not the right time, when will it ever be?

Scared.

This blog, I am holding back. I am not writing as much as I would like and not using my voice but instead a censored version of it. I want to just put my thoughts out there and not worry about what anyone thinks. My hope is to connect with like-minded creative folks and to share my thoughts and projects (and yes my kids too). This post is more me than anything on here yet, but I still have not let go and let loose.

Scared.

Then I read inspiration like those found below and I become a little bit braver. Brave enough to write this post.

Vivienne McMaster
Alexandra Franzen
Trish Blackwell

August 17, 2013

A New Colloborative Blog

My good friend Gabi and I have started a new project, a photo blog. We both love photography, are (great) moms and like to encourage each other. This new project is a perfect fit. We take turns choosing a weekly theme and post a picture we take that represents that theme.

The blog is called Focus on Everyday and you can visit us here:


Our first theme was "parenthood", my picture is below. Please visit the blog to check out Gabi's interpretation.

August 12, 2013

Nails, Hammers & A-Frames

My dad is visiting this week. We haven's seen him in 5 YEARS! My youngest was only 6 months old. All my boys know who Papa is but it is different having him here, in the flesh, to play with.

I know one thing for sure, there is going to be some serious Skype math tutorials coming up in our future. My dad's patience with Connor while trying to teach him a math concept was amazing. Most math lessons in our house end up in tears.


The boys have a pile of scrap wood and shingles that they play with from time to time to build houses. This usually involves balancing the wood somehow with hopes it will stay up long enough to crawl inside.

Papa brought the playhouse to the next level - they built a little A-frame, complete with roofing. Oh the excitement of using real nails and a staple gun. They were in little boy heaven.


Everyone got involved. I love seeing my boys cooperate with one another.

 
Darien decided he needed to put on his construction (hiking) boots and grab his hard hat (as the pajama bottoms he had on in the first picture wasn't quite enough). Smart boy that one.
 

August 10, 2013

Project Life - Weeks 9 & 10

I love how over the last 10 weeks my Project Life style is emerging and that I can also adjust the style from week to week based on the pictures and how little (or how much) I want to journal.

I am also taking more candid/documentary style photos to capture the everyday little things in addition to the pictures of us as a family.

Week 9


 
Week 10

August 01, 2013

Little Projects

Little projects are my favorite. I don't get frustrated or lose interest and I get the satisfaction of finishing something in a short period of time. I am sure that finishing a bigger project would be even more gratifying but with my busy schedule, I'll take the small win any day.

I painted these owl rocks for my sister (the owl book was one of my birthday presents from my boys).


My next little project is to make a mini vase out of some Sculpey III clay I bought for myself. I have been itching to get on a pottery wheel but a small dose of clay for this long weekend sounds good too.

July 30, 2013

Project Life - Weeks 7 & 8

I felt the pressure to get caught up on Project Life (even though technically I am not that far behind). But I know how easy it is to fall off track with a new project that you are so excited about. You go full steam ahead and do too much and can't keep up with it. I think I am going at a pace I can sustain but only if I don't fall behind.

So here are my layouts from the last 2 weeks. There were so many great vacation pictures that I did an additional full page instead of a smaller insert.

Week 7 Parts 1 & 2

 




  Week 8
 

July 25, 2013

Back from Vacation


Back from an amazing vacation, sorting through hundreds of photos and trying to ease back into our (somewhat) summer routine.

Can't wait to share my Project Life from our week at the lake!

July 12, 2013

Project LIfe - Week 6


It has been a crazy week getting ready to go on vacation. But I did want to make sure I posted this before I go. I anticipate a lot of pictures to sort through when I get back and probably an insert to accommodate all of the pictures in my Project Life book.

PS The last 2 weeks my Project Life photos haven't turned out how I would like. Will reshoot both of them when I get home!

July 10, 2013

Time to Unplug

Three more sleeps until we leave on holidays and only one more sleep until I am officially on vacation. Excited does not quite describe the vibe in our house right now. We are going back to the same cottage as last year and let me tell you, it was good. Last year we were excited to get away and the anticipation of the unknown was there too.

This year is different, we know where we are going, what to expect and are anxiously looking forward to the good times and relaxation again. I left my blackberry at home last year, it was hard at first to be disconnected but now that I know how wonderful it is there is no hesitation this time.

The big challenge this year is from the boys. They are now proud owners of iPads and iPods and we have told them that the devices are staying home. Needless to say, this news didn't go over very well. "What are we going to DO?" "It is going to be SO boring!"

These sentiments make me regret getting the darn things for them. There was none of this on our first trip and I assure you there was lots to do and not a moment of boredom. I am hoping that once we are there they will embrace the cottage life, read, swim, have fun and connect.

July 07, 2013

Project Life - Week 5



I can't believe that 5 weeks has gone by. I know time is going fast but when you are documenting your days and weeks it really hits home.

We had a great week, summer vacation is in full swing and the boys are in their element.

July 04, 2013

Right Now Challenge - Week 3

Please go to One Happy Mama's blog to read more about the  Right Now Challenge.

  • Grayden asked me what number has a 4 and a 0 with a 1 in the middle. Four hundred ten!
  • As he was getting strawberries from the fridge Grayden informed us that we have Fred the caterpillar who lives in our fridge. He always takes bites out of our strawberries.
  • Connor brought home his grade 5 indoor shoes from school. I don't think he even wore them, they look brand new. Now they are too small for him - they fit me perfectly. Yay for new shoes for me and boo hoo my oldest has feet that are bigger than mine.
  • Our neighbour asked Grayden how his day was and he replied, "Good as pie." I guess pie IS good.
  • Darien gives me goose bumps when he says, "Hey mom, watch this!" The things that child gets up to boggles my mind and scares me.
  • Swimming in the river on Canada Day, hot weather, sunscreen, laughs and giggles.

July 01, 2013

A Backyard Drive-In

 
We have started our summer fun off with a bang. I borrowed a projector from work to set-up a backyard movie night for us and the boys. I kept it secret for as long as I could but Connor figured it out after I took him to the third store looking for a giant white sheet (that didn't cost $80!).
 
Thanks to the trusty thrift store, I found what I was looking for. On a side note, I sewed pockets on the bottom of the sheet to hold rocks that weigh the sheet down and I sewed fabric ties to the top as I didn't want to nail or staple the sheet. I took my sewing machine outside and I have to ask myself "WHY HAVEN'T I DONE THIS BEFORE!?"

 
 

Everything was set-up early to make sure there were no glitches. We rented E.T. off of iTunes and loaded it onto Connor's iPad. We hooked everything up and played some zombie smashing games - it all worked perfectly! I will note here that we did not test the actual movie.



Now the hard part, we had to wait until it was dark enough to see the show. The boys occupied themselves with our lemonade stand turned concession stand. Connor made a paper hat and they took turns being the shop owner and the customers.

And then it was time! Press play on the movie and we get a message that the movie we are trying to play is not authorized to play with a VGA cord. Stupid iTunes and their copy right protections. We jump into problem solving mode. I checked the message boards to see if there is a way around the error - nope. Brought our desktop computer outside and since it is newer there is no VGA connection - still no luck. Tried every cable we have in the house - nothing.

By now it is 9:30 at night and my stubborn-side was not going to let the opportunity slide. A quick call to London Drugs to see what they suggest and then a speedy trip (and $60 later) we have a VGA to USB adapter and are in business.

We started to watch the movie around 10:30; 2 of the 3 boys fell asleep about 15 minutes in.

BUT, the next night, we had the right connections knew what needed to be done, had a movie we all agreed upon and that all adds up to success!


June 29, 2013

Project Life - Week 4


Having so much fun with Project Life. I can't believe that 4 weeks are already done. Time, you need to slow down.

Summer vacation has officially started, I hope to post lots of swimming and outdoor photos soon.

June 27, 2013

Right Now Challenge - Week 2

Please go to One Happy Mama's blog to read more about the Right Now Challenge.

  • Darien asked me how long he was playing outside after dinner. When I told him 1 hour he asked me if that was "with tax".
  • Cleaning Darien's room took an entire day. How can a 7 year old make such a mess and be a pack rat to the highest level?
  • Today is Grayden's last day of preschool. Next up graduation and then kindergarten. Having a bit of a hard time with my baby growing up.
  • Proud of myself (and Grayden too), we made it through with no tears. It was a very touching morning the preschool teacher put together for us. We will miss her!
  • After 11 years of being a mom to boys it has finally happened - they broke a window. It was my youngest. When asked how it happened he told us he was trying to throw rocks onto the roof of the garage and missed.

June 26, 2013

A Big Busy Day

 
A superhero day complete with potluck goodies for the last full day of grade 1. There is a half day tomorrow but Darien is going to play hookey and stay home with dad.


The youngest member of the family has graduated from preschool today. Here he is with the best preschool teacher I have ever met. Hooray for having all 3 boys in 1 school (for 2 years anyway).

 
 
A day of worry while our oldest was at Cultus Lake for the day. I wasn't worried about him going home with someone or getting lost. I was worried about injuries when you think about that many 11 year old boys in a water park, there has to be horseplay. But everyone came home in one piece!
 
 
Photo Edits: Karla Dudley Brushes - Stamp Sheet Boy

June 20, 2013

Right Now Challenge - Week 1

As I was on a blog exploration, I discovered the One Happy Mama blog. Kristina is cheerful and upbeat so I stayed awhile and read through some posts. She is on the Creative Team for Project Life and as that is my  new favourite creative outlet she earned some more brownie points from me.

What really got me though was this post about her Right Now Challenge.

In Kristina's words, this is what the challenge is all about (or you can go here to read her first post about it):

  • During the week, jot down little tidbits about anything going on in your life. It could be your child’s (or children’s) favorite toy, food, song, saying, etc. It could be something funny someone said. It could be some personal goals that you set for yourself or accomplished. It could be places you went. Things you did. Just those little mundane facts about your week that make up your everyday life.
  • You can blog about them to hold yourself accountable, too! If you do, come back here to my posts and leave me a comment with a link to YOUR list! You don’t have to blog about them – so don’t feel obligated at all! Just jotting them down is enough, but if you’d like to share then please do!
  • I can even email you the above graphic if you’d like and you can link back to my blog here so that it can encourage others to jot down their life “right now!”
  • I plan on making some freebie cute little Project Life cards, too for this little challenge, so be on the lookout for those!
  • The first Right Now Challenge is going to take place next Friday, October 5th. So be sure to take some notes about your week and then check out my blog post next week!

  •  Without further ado, my first list:

    • Quiet - the birds, me and a cup of coffee (June 16)
    • Grayden informed me that his toys are all played out and the only thing for him to do is play on the computer (June 17)
    • Lots of laughs with Connor while playing games on his iPad.
    • Darien wrote a cheque to himself for $10,000. He is really upset with me that he can't cash it.
    • Incredibly frustrated (and a wee bit proud) at how head-strong Darien is. He knows what he wants and isn't easily swayed (June 18)
    • Grateful my husband regularly indulges my dark mint chocolate obsession (June 19)
    • Grayden believes that when his older brothers act out we should just "put them in the garbage" (June 20)

    June 18, 2013

    Project Life - Week 3


    I love the mix of journal cards and photos in this layout. I think my other layouts have been picture-heavy. I even got Jeremy involved by filling out a "What I loved about today..." card I made in homage to Father's Day (I used Cathy Zielske's Scallop Summer Stamps in the journal card and the picture on the right of my son by the water).

    The group of 4 pictures was on a hike we took Sunday, Connor was the photographer. It really captures how silly we can be. There is no doubt in my mind where our kids get it from.

    June 17, 2013

    Father's Day 2013

    Edits: M4H Striking Action
     
     It was a great day, as confirmed by Jeremy. Coffee (in a new mug made by Connor) and homemade banana muffins in bed while he opened presents. A relaxing morning followed-up with an Eggs Benny brunch (from scratch courtesy of me!) and then a family hike at an old haunt we haven't been to in ages. And to finish it off a car ride for Jeremy and I mowed the lawn.

     
    It has been almost 2 years since we did this same walk and we couldn't believe how fast it went by. It used to take an hour to get to the lake at the end and I think we made it there in 20 minutes. Our boys are growing up too fast!

    June 14, 2013

    Hello Card

    No credits for this one other than to myself! I made my first Project Life card today. I will admit the "Hello" has been done but the colours, background and layering are all me.

    I love how something so simple gives me so much pleasure. It is now proudly displayed on my tack board sitting above my computer.

    June 12, 2013

    To Run or not to Run

    That has been the question. I used to run (a lot), races and everything. Then I changed jobs and I didn't run (at all). In October of last year I decided to start to run again. I didn't start slow, I jumped right in to my old 10 km base type of runs. And....

    I got hurt. I damaged my entheses (where your tendon inserts into your foot). After crutches, physio therapy and many months I am getting that old familiar itch again.

    I am going to sign up for this race:


    It is the Color Me Rad race and it is coming to Vancouver in September. It is only 5 km and I have more than enough time to s-l-o-w-l-y build up my base again.

    So excited to get colour bombed!

    June 10, 2013

    Project Life - Weeks 1 & 2

     
    I can't say enough good things about Project Life. I am loving taking pictures, printing them out, documenting the stories behind the pictures and sharing it all with my boys.
     

    One thing I have noticed 2 weeks in is that I take a lot of pictures on the weekend and there seems to be no time to fit in snapshots through the week. I need to pace myself better next week and make sure to grab the camera in the evenings. But you may notice that I am in TWO pictures below. I am glad I took the time to set-up the tripod.