Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Years/Fresh Start

What is it about starting a new year that brings about feelings of change and a fresh start? Is it the cracking open of a new month in the agenda, taking the cello wrap off of a new calendar? All those open days. Days to be filled with expectations and possibilities. Any day is good for a fresh start but even I find myself drawn to the opportunities that knock on the dawn of a new year.

Personally I don't really do resolutions. I used to but I am more about entering the new year as who I  want to be not who I was and needing to change. Overall I like who I am. Obviously I know I'm not perfect (who is) but my flaws aren't my focus. My husband and I on the other hand prefer to make goals. Lists of things we wish to acquire or achieve.

Therefore in the spirit of all things starting fresh and new here is a small sample of a few of the things that are popping up on our list of goals this year...

#1 Big House

At the risk of sounding materialistic in that I want a big house let me assure you that is not the case. We need space. Lot's of space. Our boys our getting bigger. Our collection of guitars is growing. Our family and everything that implies is growing. Ideally I would love each of the kids to have their own room, a room for crafting and homeschool and creating. A room for music and all of our musical collections (from instruments to magazines). An office/library area for myself, a quiet place to reflect and work on my own personal pursuits. A nice fenced yard for the children and dog to play in safely. Maybe a fire place and a pool but there I am just getting picky. My point is, space, we need it.

#2 Let's get this rock thing rolling

Daddy and I have both been blessed to be musically gifted. I don't mean to toot our own horns but really we are good. There is a lot in life that I feel we are missing out on by not pursuing a musical career. The time for that is now. I have words and music that I want to share. Since our genre is mostly God Rock I want to get out there and share the love. The new year will bring more shows for us and hopefully more and more musical connections. I don't want to be selling out stadiums or anything but to live comfortably on the profits of our talents would, well, ROCK!!

#3 Blog It

When I started my blog I really wanted to be writing a minimum of 3 posts a week. I am sorely behind. I start many posts and then delete them because I feel they are either poorly written or just not interesting. I want to post more and share more of our lives with my readers. If you have shown up on my blog I want to at least give something good to read. I also figure that as a mother of three with lots going on I'm sure I have a few nuggets of information that others may find useful.

#4 Declutter, streamline, minimize

We have lots of crap. LOTS. Between the toys and books and clothes. Then on top of that the mess of every day living. I feel like we have so much waste in our lives. Keeping things tidy and neat and organized is always something I need to work on. I often get frustrated at always having to step over and around things. Part of our problem is the lack of storage space our home has. This is one of those life long type of projects.

#5 Mom Time

I need more time. Not just time in general but time for myself. I can feel myself loosing a bit of myself every day. I don't mean to sound like a downer because that is not my usual way but I truly do nothing without at least 2 people surrounding me. As I chose this to be number 5 I essentially brought my laptop and coffee upstairs to type. I never do that. It feels nice. I can actually think. I don't need much. Just an hour or two here and there.

#6 The finer things in life...

Again I don't wish to sound materialistic but sometimes you need to be. I feel that sometimes we need nice things in our lives. I'm not talking about extravagant things but things that you use every day. I bought myself a new kettle yesterday and it is nice. Simple, but good looking and of course functional. Why does functional have to utilitarian. If you are using it every day you better enjoy using it. In order to accomplish this it means not acquiring as much useless and meaningless stuff. In the long run I foresee this helping more with  #4.

#7 Keep it off!!!!

With the exception of a set back in the getting rid of weight department in December I am back on the wagon. I am back to counting my points, back to watching what I eat and in general back to getting myself into a healthier space. I won't go on and on about weight loss because I've done that before and that is not what this is about. Rather this is about reaffirming that I am on the right path and I am going to keep it up (and off).

#8 Create More

I really want to make more things. I received some wonderful rotary cutting supplies for Christmas and really want to get back into sewing. I do enjoy it. I need to make a space where I can do that though. I think my first project back at the needle will be a little quilt for Evelyn. I have seen some lovely fabrics and that would be an easy transition. I also wish to learn to knit. I have hand me down needles from my Grandmother (God rest her soul) and I want to do her proud. My first project there will be a little case for Vik's 3DS that Santa brought him (basically just two small dishcloths stitched together-easy right?). Still need to find a good project to make for Max, it's coming though. I have a few ideas up my sleeve.

#9 Tackle the Kitchen

I enjoy cooking but recently making nice things in the kitchen has taken a back seat to life. I've been busy but that is no excuse. Pre made stuff is full of preservatives and cost lots. Cutting corners in the kitchen is dragging us down both physically and financially. I pledge to get back to what I enjoy, cooking and baking. Really you can taste the love. In order to do this my kitchen needs a major overhaul. My stove has issues, my fridge has issues and the cupboards, we won't even go there. It's a major undertaking but I can handle it.

#10 Invest in Ourselves

In the new year I plan to start investing in ourselves more. I have a few top priorities such as finally getting a good family doctor, getting to the dentist and optometrist more, getting CAA coverage for our vehicles, health insurance etc. All of this is about protecting ourselves and being proactive in our own health care. We are very lucky to live in a country where those things are available and accessible to us. I feel that investing in ourselves now is part of securing our future.

I think that is a good list to start. There are more little things but those are more things I WANT not really need. Tonight the children and daddy and I will sit together and ring in the new year and look at our goals for ourselves. Maybe tonight will be a good night to watch The Secret.

I will close now and wish you all a very prosperous and love filled New Year. Ring it in baby.

Friday, 23 December 2011

The Countdown Is On

It's down to the wire. One more sleep until Christmas Eve and only two more sleeps until Christmas morning. I know this not only because I love Christmas but because my kids won't let me forget it either. There is one chocolate left in the Calendar and only one number left on the countdown. I know it's the same time every year and as cliche as it sounds I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S CHRISTMAS ALREADY!!!!

I still have a small list of things we need to do. Basically some laundry and tidying up the house. There are still a few present to wrap and other than that I am all set. I am a lucky duck that going to my parents' farm means not worrying about cooking, baking or hosting. Don't get me wrong, I help out when I'm there, we all do, but the big planning goes to my mum every year. She has a system. We don't mess with it.

Tomorrow morning will be spent doing the packing. That in itself is a major feat. I really don't know how we will get everything to the farm. Just listing it sounds crazy: three kids, 2 adults, mountains of gifts, 2-3 suitcases, a dog, laptop, random technology and countless other things I need a list to keep track of. Really is that it? I think I'm missing a partridge in a pear tree or a few lords a leaping.

I "plan" to have everything ready to get into the van in the afternoon. I have scoped out the best Mass time to be 4:00 pm at a Parish close by so we will get ourselves to that. After Mass operation pack the van commences and then upon completion we will begin the journey to Christmas Magic Wonderland (a.k.a. the farm).

So many goodies await us. Sweets treats. Savoury bites. For those who like to indulge, some home made liquid libations. Christmas Eve courtesy of my mum will be fabulous and I really can't wait. That is when our family magic really begins. There will be much laughter, singing and joking.

The kiddies will get into their new Christmas jammies, open their small Christmas Eve gift and of course leave out cookies and milk for Santa. Since our family is getting bigger my childhood room does not fit us five well so this year we will hunker down into the basement to get a good sleep before the wrapping paper carnage the next morning.

This is how it goes every year. I wouldn't change a bit of it. It's tradition.

I am especially excited because my older sister is home this year for the holiday. Last year was the first year she was gone and her presence was definitely missed. My sisters and I are like a trifecta of fun and when a piece is missing you feel it. I am so happy she is home.

I love Christmas and I love my family. Spending it together is the epitome of happiness.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Brunch at Hotel Fort Garry

This year marked our 5th annual family brunch at the Hotel Fort Garry. This historic hotel was Winnipeg’s first luxury hotel and every Sunday their brunch continues to convey this feeling of decadence through both taste and visual appeal. From the always full glass of orange juice to the chocolate fountain and every delicacy in between this hotel delivers. 
Every year the menu changes slightly while some staples can always be found and after five years we have all perfected our best game plans. Mine includes starting with the cold salads and the baron of beef while my husband prefers to create his base layer out of the desserts. 
Honestly though words can not do justice the awesomeness of this brunch buffet and since a picture can tell a thousand words I will leave up to a few snapshots to give a glimpse. 

Normally I don't do the "breakfast" and "lunch" items at the same time but since I had three kids waiting I got as much as I could in each trip. Here we have an omelette (with cheese, onions, peppers, mushrooms and ham), some top grade roast beef, steamed veggies, beef tips in some kind of wine gravy, roasted chicken in another kind of yummy sauce, arctic char in yet another sauce, hash browns and bacon. 

This is my cold plate with appetizer type fare. I chose some red potato salad, shrimp and cocktail sauce, a couple fancy crackers (one had thyme in it), a lettuce mix with a champagne vinaigrette, a pasta and bacon and green bean cold salad, and then some random grapes, pickles, dates and apricots. 

Viktor scored some cold slab ice cream and gummy bears from the dessert section.

I did all my sweets together. There is a waffle with raspberries and whipped cream, a cherry danish, some kind of chocolate dessert square and a short bread. Of course there were some chocolate fountain items as well: strawberry, pineapple, pound cake and 2 coconut covered marshmallows. 

These shrimp are a coveted item. They make only a few at the time, deep fried fresh and are almost always gone. I almost thought I was out of luck but as I was about to head to my table I saw the chef bringing fresh ones from the kitchen. I turned on my heel and chased him to their station. I may or may not have cut someone off. I grabbed three, because that's how I roll.

Here are a few pix of the brunch set up...

 This is the view of the main area from the balcony. The tree is surrounded by the hot chaffing dishes containing everything from beef tips to hash browns to eggs benedict. 

A view from behind the omelette and carver stations 
(they featured roast beef, roast turkey and pea meal bacon).

A few close ups of the Christmas tree and displays.


 The breads display 

 Any perfect brunch isn't complete without a chocolate fountain and a vast array of desserts. Oh the desserts...

On a high note (as if the brunch itself wasn’t enough) the children were on their top behavior. Sure they popped out of their chairs a couple times but for the most part they got their fill and had fun sitting beside various family members throughout our time there. Couldn’t have asked for more. 
If you are ever in Winnipeg on a weekend and have the opportunity (and $40 per person) I highly recommend going. You will leave full and satisfied and thoroughly delighted. 

Monday, 12 December 2011

I definitely smell a pork product of some kind...

Bacon was on sale this week at our local grocery store so we scooped up a few packs and have been making some yummy dishes featuring bacon. There was the traditional breakfast fare of bacon and eggs, bacon and cheese on toast, corn chowder and a new one, pasta carbonara. The corn chowder was a recipe I had made before and as usual it turned out super yummy. The pasta carbonara recipe was brand new to me and was uber tasty. It was simple and quick to make and best of all the boys gobbled it up.

The original recipe came from so you can head over there to see it. I did however make a few minor modifications so I will share with you here how I made the pasta carbonara.

Pasta Carbonara

1 lb of dry pasta noodles
1 tbsp olive oil
8 slices of bacon, diced*
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 dry white wine**
4 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup cream
pinch of salt and pepper to taste
garnish with: fresh chopped parsley and parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Cook bacon. Set bacon aside and pat dry with paper towel. Pour bacon fat out of pan however save approximately 2 tbsp of bacon fat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to bacon fat. Toss in onion and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent and add bacon back to pan. 

Add 1/4 cup of white wine to bacon and onion.

Whisk the 4 eggs and add the parmesan cheese and cream to eggs.

On low to med heat add the bacon/onion mixture to the noodles and toss to coat. 

Add the egg/cheese mixture to noodles/bacon and continue to toss until the sauce is cooked and heated through. 

Place the pasta on plates and add a dash of salt and pepper and garnish as you like. 

*I like to use a scissor and cut the bacon up directly into the pan
**I substituted plain apple juice in place of the wine

You may notice that there are three different types of pasta there. Spaghetti, fettucini and penne. I didn't have enough of any one kind so I used the last remnants of each and it worked great.

I love to serve bread along any soup or pasta dish (as if there wasn't enough carbs already) so we had a nice french bread along with it. A light salad would go just as nice if you are trying to watch your waistline (in which case you probably aren't going to be making this carbonara anyways).

Bon Appetit!!!

(Oh and if you didn't get the joke in the post title you need to watch some Wayne's World)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Getting in the Spirit

I am currently sitting at my computer (obviously) drinking a cup of Santa's Secret tea (from David's Tea) while Elf is playing in the background and my oldest is reading a Christmas book to brother and sister. There is a pine scented candle burning in the kitchen and if everything plays out well today then the smell of freshly baked sugar cookies will also be wafting from that general direction.

These Fruits & Passion candles are amazing.

The Christmas books and movies have been in heavy rotation already...

... and we have been enjoying some lovely Christmas themed bath goodies (melting snowman bath melt anyone?). 

Some of our LUSH goodies. Missing are the melting snowman and snow cake soap.

Make no doubt too that the Christmas music has been in full swing as well, from both iTunes and my own fingers. I have been playing like a fiend from my new Muppets Christmas Carol piano book.

Am I in the spirit? Hell yeah!!!

There should be no question now as to where we stand in the whole Christmas thing. We are soooooo totally Christmas people. Everything about the whole holiday gets me giddy. The sights, the sounds, the smells. We also observe both the secular and spiritual aspects of Christmas. Family traditions play heavily into our celebrations from the beginning of Advent to Epiphany. 

Speaking of Advent, we started our Advent calendar and so far the boys are loving it which actually surprises me as marzipan isn't often a kiddie flavour. I had secretly hoped they wouldn't like it so I could enjoy a fine chocolate every morning with my coffee but no biggie, I enjoy seeing them enjoy. The calendar we have also goes from 1-24 so I made up a little countdown so now every time I am asked how long until Christmas I direct them to the countdown. 

The marzipan Advent Calendar from Niederegger in Germany 
and that box of nougat didn't even last a day.

So what it looks like my 5 yo could have made it. That is about as artsy with markers as I can get.

The Santa letters are written and waiting to be mailed. It was pretty fun actually. I made up a little template for each of them to fill out. Tomorrow we shall go to the post office to stamp it and mail it and then await anxiously for a response from the man in red. 

Last night the Christmas tree came out. Every year there is a debate on whether to get a real tree or use the el fakeo we already have. Since I had a bee in my bonnet to do the tree last night (heaven only knows why)  Daddy won by default and el fakeo is in prime living room real estate. We don't have a fancy tree or ornaments but they are all special. Each ornament was either a gift or bought very specifically. This year I am so jazzed about the Starbucks ornaments I got. 

I love my Twilight Ornament (L), the Elvis for Daddy (middle) and one of the Starbucks ornaments (R).

While I have chipped away at the decorating block in the sense of having the tree and some garlands up we still have lots to do. I haven't even put up my village yet!!! This is the first time the tree is up before the village. I'm just having trouble figuring out where to put the dang thing. I keep thinking on the top of the piano as that is really the only spot it can go, I'm just procrastinating on taking off everything that is already on the piano. 

Seeings as how I still have an ever growing list of holiday preparations and my five year old has tired of reading and wants to bake I shall close this post now and get my heiny into the kitchen.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Weighing In

November 25th: 211.6
Well it’s been a few weeks since I last brought up my desire to be fit and healthy which meant getting rid of a lot of excess weight. I haven’t yet done my before pictures which I know I need to. I would love to get them up and posted.
Anyways, I just wanted to update that in the last two weeks I have dropped 6.4 lbs. That’s 6 and a half (just about) packages of butter. I feel great. I have also really noticed differences in my clothing recently. Most noticable are the yoga pants I wore home from the hospital after having Evelyn. They are loose, and not just loose fitting, but saggy bum and close to falling down loose. There are a few outfits now that are just too big for me (like a pretty white and turqoise blouse and my black dress pants and my button fly jeans). There are also other things that are fitting me again and I love it (like my denim dress and my black tights).
My goal to be under 200 for the New Year is close. I can see those numbers. I have to envision them when I go to grab another Christmas cookie or a handful of chips or pop another toffifee in my mouth (which by the way are 1 weight watchers point each, I checked, after eating 12). 
In my mind I want to be 199.5 or less on New Years day which is 5 weeks and 12.1 lbs away. Thats 2.42 lbs a week. I am fairly confident that if I work hard over the next 5 weeks it will be doable. I also have a bit of a game plan:
-drink lots of tea and water
-stay out of my Flex Points as much as possible
-Oatmeal every morning
-Portion Control
-Pre count for Christmas and Holiday indulgences
I am going to be the little train that could and just keep in mind, “I think I can I think I can I think I can”. I will get over this mountain and the other side will be everything I wanted it to be.

Time to make supper now. MMMMM, homemade chicken cacciatore with tons of veggies. Yum!!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Snow Snow Snow

I live in a city in the middle of pretty much the whole of North America. There is no escaping winter here. Some years it starts early and some years it starts late. This year it began particularly late as the ground is just starting to turn into a white wonderland. We had few snows already but they melted. The snow today is here to stay.

I don't enjoy the extreme cold (-40 temperatures are not unheard of here). I do however enjoy a nice fluffy snow on a mildly warm day. There is something beautiful and magical about fresh snow covered trees. Everything seems quieter. It's lovely.

We got the boys their outdoor wear just in the knick of time and although Evelyn needs a little warm suit the search is still on for that. For now we keep her cozy with blankets in the car seat

Snow also gets me in a Christmas mood so the Christmas movies are in full swing around here. I'll close this short post with a clip from a very suiting Christmas classic.

Keep Cozy and Warm Ya'll!!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A Weighty Subject

When I first made this blog not too long ago I mentioned in the little "about me" column a little something about weight loss. I realized recently that I haven't gone into any further detail about that. I don't have any problem talking about my adventures in weight loss so hopefully I can pass along some wisdom (or at least commiseration for some) in regards to the issue at hand, which is losing weight.

I'm trying to stop using the phrases "on a diet" and "losing weight". For starters, everyone has a diet, it is simply what you eat. Having a healthy diet is what I am going for. Some days I am on my A game and other days I fall of the wagon with a thud. Secondly, I read a cute inspirational sentence the other day that stated, "I am not losing weight, I am getting rid of it, I have not intention of getting it back". I thought that was an ingenious way of looking at it. I am getting rid of it, I don't want it, some one else can have it. If a model with an eating disorder drastically needs a fat implant, I'll be the first to line up and donate my ass.

So, here I am now, on the journey of getting rid of weight. Shedding the extra pounds that I have added to a frame that at 5'9, shouldn't be carrying so much excess baggage. I've been on this current expedition since July 1st, 2011, which was the start date for a Biggest Loser Challenge that I am partaking in. To date I have gotten rid of (notice I didn't lose) 31.6 lbs. Yup, that is correct, in approximately 4 months I have lost the equivalent of a good size toddler, or 31 and 1/2  one pound packs of butter. When I look at just the number and the road still ahead I get a little down but when I think of it in those other terms, wow, that's A LOT.

As I said though I have a road still ahead. We are on round two of our Biggest Loser challenge and I am sucking big time. I came in 2nd on the first round but this time has seen repetitive ups and downs. I've been hovering between 215 and 219 the last month. I have concluded though that it is a mental plateau, not a physical one. I always run into this predicament after dropping a significant amount (I'm not green to this whole thing). My clothes fit better, I feel better so I get lax on things. I start cheating and those little daily cheats add up. I won't go on and on about that though because it is what it is, I'll get over it as I always do.

I'll get to some of the specifics now though. The numbers. The dirty details. The tell tale of how I take care of myself. I started at 247.4 and weighed 215.6 as of this morning. I haven't recorded inches in several weeks but at the end of the round one I had lost 12.5 inches. My inches will roughly still be where they were since I'm the human yo yo over here. My starting BMI was 36.5 which meant Obese. I think that is a little harsh (or mean) and wouldn't consider myself Obese but I wasn't even just in the first level, I was in the 2nd!!! With my current weight I am now in only level 1 Obese, yay for that (insert eye roll). 

Let's talk goals. I have made a few goals for myself and I like having smaller goals to reach. The first was to get below 230, then achieve a 10% drop from my initial weight, then get below 215. My goal now is to enter the new year below 200. I haven't seen the underside of 200 in a loooooooooooong time and I would love to start the year off on a positive note to keep the inspiration going. I keep reminding myself it's a life style change, to be well and fit. At just under 7 weeks and through the holiday season that is a rather lofty goal. I usually lose on average 2 lbs a week when I am on the ball. In this instance I will have to REALLY be on the ball. The candy, the treats, the fancy breakfast buffet we go to every Advent, Christmas dinner, the booze. I have a lot of obstacles but I will my eye on the prize. I surprise myself sometimes and I plan for this to be one of those times. 

For now though I'll keep doing what I've been doing. At least until I hit a physical plateau (mind tricks excluded). What I've been doing has been working out well for me so far. I'll start saying it now I am a Weight Watchers girl all the way. I love the simplicity of the program (at least the last one, I'm not familiar with the new one). I can factor things for indulgences, I can have fun, I can bake my cake and eat it too (if I count the points).

I am also trying to move us into a cleaner diet. More whole foods. Less processed junk. With the exception of the occasional take out we do pretty good. I'm not perfect, but for the most part we eat lots of hearty clean meals free from additives and preservatives. I love unloading my cart onto the belt and seeing all the fresh produce and fresh meats. It makes me feel like I am doing my family (and bank account) some good. I got started on the clean eating kick via the Eat Clean Diet by Tosca Reno. I have a few of her books it the things she says make total sense. Like I said we aren't 100% there but are improving with every meal. I recommend any one interested in improving how they eat to check her out.

My biggest downfall? Exercise. I don't do it. I don't hate it. I just never have the time. Correction. I never make the time. I know I know. There are so many benefits to physical exercise. I make excuses. I'm working on it. I believe this may be the extra boost I will need to hit that new years goal.

On my to do list: take before and after shots. I keep thinking about it and keep forgetting. Friday is weigh in day so I will arrange for Daddy to play camera man for a few pix for comparison purposes. Also on that list is to start the 30 Day Shred, for real. I tried it a few months ago and it just about killed me. Thirty pounds less though and I think I am ready for another crack at it.

With all of that in mind I will hopefully have a good riddance update on Friday along with some "before" pix. I think I may also devote a page to this on the blog. Make it easily accessible. Until then a bid you adieu. 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Pinning with Purpose

In my last blog post I mentioned a site called pinterest. Well, let me tell you a little bit more.

I absolutely love this site. The ideas and the creativity and inspiration just jumps off the screen and grabs my core. It says pin me, copy me, craft me, believe me.

What exactly is pinterest? It is basically a collection of online bulletin boards where you can "pin" pretty much any picture from any site. Not long prior to being introduced to this wonderful gem I had actually gotten into creating a vision board (a poster where you put pictures of the things you's a "The Secret" kind of thing). This site couldn't have come along at a better time for me. I now don't have to print and cut and paste. I'm not limited to only things I can print. I can add, delete and change boards and pins as I see fit.

It's much more than a vision board too. I have boards for but limited to the following: My diaper stash, family trips, Christmas, ideas for the kids, household tips, health and wellness. I could go on and on. I pin things I have, things I want, things that inspire me.

I find though that I don't just randomly pin. Everything I pin, I pin for  reason. It's a recipe I want to try, an art project with the kids to delve into, a verse that inspires me to be a better person. I pin with purpose. I pin what is important to me. I pin what resonates a chord in me.

So far I am getting quite the collection of pins. I have shuffled things around. Merged boards, split boards and deleted boards.

It's also a great way to organize myself. For example, I've been buying a crap load of teas and wish to keep them straight so I pinned them all. Take into account too all the amazing pins of organization ideas.

All the other topics alone this site as been an invaluable resource for me as a home school parent. I have found so many wonderful teaching tools and activities to do with the boys.

Most of the photos so far it seems come from blogs. Pictures that people have posted when talking about what they have been up to. There are some seriously creative people out there and I hope a lot of it rubs off on me. I have even discovered some fun and new blogs to read from following pins back to their source.

If you would like an invite to this fantastic sight please comment with your email. Don't worry there will be no spam type emails. I don't know how many invites I can send but I will send as many as I can. I think everyone would benefit from this great site.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Little Projects, Big Projects and things in Between

Anytime we tackle something, whether it is big or small, it is a project. This week held it's share of projects for sure. For our family there are three things from this week that stand out. A fun new cross stitch, a trip to the museum and FINALLY getting our bed upstairs.

Little Project

I'll start here as this is the one I want to talk about the most...

Early in the week I found a cute pin on Pinterest (if you don't know this site you must check it out, it's virtual bulletin boards where you can "pin" almost any picture from almost any page). Anyways, I saw cute pin of a cross stitch. I followed the pin back to it's source and found it to be a very easy and adaptable pattern.

I hadn't stitched in a long time, over 5 years, and I could actually recall the last time a stitched a stitch, May 24th, 2006 (during my induction the day before my first child was born). I did though recently clean out my sewing basket to make way for the perfect project when it presented itself. Well, it presented itself in the form of a "family portrait" where you stitch all your family members.

I love that the pattern was printable and FREE and very customizable so I was able to have a lot of fun with it and add some of our own personality/flair to it.

If you would like to check out this pattern for yourself click here. It should be no surprise though that this gem of a pattern was found at

Once I printed off the pattern sheets it was time to get down to business. By business I mean picking colours, arranging a hoop and deciding on placement.

I decided that I would put all 5 family members and our dog and our cat onto this particular cross stitch. I started with myself in the middle so that would give a centre starting place. I then decided on the placement of the rest of the family.

I worked with 14 count Aida cloth and for all cross stitches I used 2 strands of DMC floss and for all outlining backstitches I used one strand. Everyone stands 2-4 squares apart from widest point to widest point. The order in which I stitched was Mamma, Daddy, Vik, Max, Eve, Cat, Dog, Name. I did the outlining for each character as they were completed.

Personalizing this cross stitch was a lot of fun. I am quite pleased with all the little hidden things in there that I know about. Some of these are: Daddy is wearing a shirt that says "Rock" with a lighting bolt on it, Vik is wearing his favourite red "Mario" hat, Max has a little cow lick and the colours on Eve's dress match a sleeper she has.

For the pet's hair, daddy's and mine I also used 3 strands instead of 2. I figured it would give a little more dimension to it and it allowed me to get a bit more creative. I have some light blond highlights so I used 2 strands of brown and one of yellow. For Daddy I used 2 strands dark brown and 1 black. For the pets I used three different shades as they are mixed hair colours. It's the little details like that which made this the most fun for me.

A few other customizations I made were on the heights of everyone. I added a row in Daddy's legs and as well in Vik's. I then took away a row of Max's legs and then a row each in Eve's dress and legs. This was crucial, otherwise all the children would have been the same height and well, that just wouldn't do.

Upon seeing the finished project as well you may be able to distinguish that there are three different skin tones represented. I, of course, am the lightest and Daddy is the darkest and the kids are a tone somewhere in between.

If you do decide to tackle this project you will find that the main pattern does not include a pattern for the letters. I, of course, went to google and found this Cross Stitch Writing Tool. You choose your font, tell it what you want and it creates the pattern for you. Very cool.

TA it is in a frame. Not a very good frame though, this is mostly to keep it safe from little hands. Ideally I want a frame with a nice mat so that the picture can be nicely centred.

Medium Project (a.k.a. project museum)

On Saturday a mummy group friend and I got together with our brood of children and hit our local museum. I LOVE this museum. It has a little bit of everything, rocks, dino bones, history and my favourite dioramas galore.

There were some ups and downs to the adventure but all in all it was a great time. Max had the most trouble as the reason why I love the museum, the life size dioramas, was the reason I began to really dislike it. Max wanted to get out of the stroller and climb up on each and every one. Other than that it was a very fun time.
See those guardrails really aren't enough to keep culture hungry preschoolers at bay.
Highlights were the polar bear, the underwater room, the bat cave and visiting the nonsuch (a big ship the kids can go onto-but not really for kids so again, bit of a tease there). I didn't get any pictures on the nonsuch because I was too busy making sure Max didn't fall overboard or wreck any of the old delicate rope.

The whole thing took about an hour and a half which also meant an hour and half of cardio pushing my stroller around. The best part of the day however was at night as Vik was drifting off to sleep he pops up and says, "I really had fun at the museum mum, I liked the polar bears and the sun and the boat". Right there. That is why I do what I do and why it makes me so happy.

Evelyn and Mamma hangin' out at the Museum

Big Project...Operation get the bed upstairs

Although this project took less than an hour I call it a big project because it required power tools. Anything requiring power tools in my opinion is a big project. 

Back Story: Our house is old, the stair way going upstairs is very tight, narrow, small, etc. A queen box spring would just not fit. We ended up making do for the longest time and eventually got rid of the box spring we had. Great grandma Sanford though gave us a mattress and an uber nice bed frame at the end of August. Since we couldn't get it upstairs it sat for just over two months in our downstairs hall...

...cue in yesterday. It was rainy so Daddy didn't work and he had his skill saw at home so he got to work cutting out parts of the stairway ceiling. It was a tight fit but WE DID IT!!!! We got the bed upstairs and set up. Seriously, it was one of the best sleeps I have had in a long time. The bed is also crazy high up, especially since before it was right on the floor.

 I LOVE MY NEW BED!!! Sorry for yelling, but really, it is a great bed and I'm so happy to have my hallway back. 

Now I just need Daddy to close up the hole in my closet floor from doing this project and we will be all set. This is just one of many fall/winter renovations to take place. I am looking forward to Daddy slowing down work a bit more and being home with us. 

Sorry no pix of this project. My room is definitely not picture ready.

Well, there you have it, three projects from our busy week. All making me equally happy.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Day After Halloween

I honestly have absolutely no idea how many mini chocolates, bags of candies or fun size bags of chips I have consumed today. Furthermore, I do not even recollect how many I had yesterday. The consumption of sweets and treats began precisely on the way from the grocery store to the party store yesterday afternoon. I suspect the binge won't be over until every confection is consumed.

I don't do well with temptation. Although Halloween sabotages my weight loss endeavours this week once it is gone I can reset. You can best be assured we are enjoying every piece as long as it lasts.

One thing though that I will happily binge on however though is family fun. With yesterday being Halloween the fun binge was on. Earlier in the week we put up the window stickers and the wire spider web. Yesterday though everything came together (as much as I can get it together around here) as the cobwebs on the front porch and the Halloween moonlights went up.

The day began with carving our pumpkins. The boys decided that we should have a Mario and a Sonic pumpkin. So off to mother google I went. I easily found templates for each and we got right to work.

The boys helped out with the hollowing of the pumpkins. 

I did all the carving myself. I have to say that I was rather impressed with the results. I am for the most part inept in the craft department (except I am a wicked cross stitcher). I really had no idea how it was going to pan out but for my boys I was darn well going to try. I am proud to say that I delivered. The boys loved them too.



I wouldn't necessarily call us "gamers" but our happy family is very much into Mario, especially Viktor. He decided long long long ago (as in last winter) that we would be dressing up as Super Mario Bros. characters for Halloween. For the most part their costumes were very easy. My favourite costumes are the ones you can do with what you have around home with maybe a few thrift or dollar store (or otherwise cheaply acquired) additions. In other words homemade/home assembled costumes rock my world.

We were able to use the boys' blue ski pants from last winter as their blue overalls. We picked up their red and green shirts from the thrift store in the ladies department (you need layerable costumes for warmth in these here parts) for $2.99 and $6.99 each. We picked up white mini gloves for 0.98 cents a pair at Walmart. Viktor already had a red hat to wear and Max wore his green hooded sweater so he was covered headwear wise too.

Evelyn and I needed a bit more. Her and I were Baby and Princess Peach respectively. I still shopped wisely. Both Evelyn's pink dress and my pink cardigan I bought are something we can definitely get more wear out of. We had to purchase the tiara's and the blue jewels which I am planning on reusing/repurposing. Even those items were on the cheap side. 

I so wanted to make a paper mache shell for Daddy Bowser but it just wasn't in the cards this time. Bowser still showed up though. A cheap character shirt at Walmart paired up with a yellow tinsel wig ($1) and light up horns ($3) from Party Stuff took care of that.

Yes, I got a blond wig HOWEVER it was 75% off so it was only $4 
(sometimes procrastination pays people!!)

We were full on giddy getting ready. The boys were so excited to be Mario and Luigi. The felt very proud when other kids commented and complimented them on their costumes. I felt pretty dang proud too. They were awesome trick or treaters, saying trick or treat, telling people who they were and saying thank you. We only went up our street a few blocks and back down and they got an incredible haul of candy (so much we had to dump their too heavy bags into the stroller bottom halfway). I regret not catching a picture of the pile of candy (on my list for next year for sure) it was almost obscene.

After our trick or treating we visited my sister for a wee bit and then headed home to gorge on the CANDY!!! We all stayed up pretty late so we all slept in this morning. It was a fun day and a fun night. Couldn't have been any better for us.

Today was beginning of a new month and also puts us 2 months closer to a new year. I feel big things coming up this year for our Happy Family. The next months will be full of prepping, planning and merriment.

Oy, I can't wait. Let the happiness begin!!!