11:00 PM

The Art Of Life UnPlugged

The draw of social media has a magnetism that pulls tight like a 90's turtleneck.    In the same way a peek-a-boo baby thinks y...
3:11 PM

Sweet Marie

When 'IT' happened I felt frozen because things like that didn't happen in real life.  A woman can't suddenly break - too m...
3:25 PM

The Double Cup Debate

  Tim Horton's has recently introduced 'the sleeve ', a corrugated cardboard copycat of what Starbucks has done for years, ...

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

This Is 34

The most amazing thing happened yesterday...

I turned 29 for the sixth time!

I'm getting really good at it.



My parents showed up after dinner with dessert and a gift (including Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Creamwhich I immediately proceeded to apply to my lips before reading the packaging).  As the candles were lit, Zander's best friend Simon asked, "So, how old are you, 26?"

"Oh, I love you!" I exclaimed like a mooning Marilyn Monroe.

He just grinned.

I try not to dwell on the number but I JUST CAN'T HELP IT.  Something about being in your thirties demands a certain amount of maturity and accomplishment I just don't feel I've reached.  I still feel like I'm a little ninth grader daydreaming of kissing a boy for the first time.

We recently spent a night in a Toronto hotel, the kids nestled up together in one queen bed and beside me Scott gave a shake of his head and said, "I just can't believe we're here...look at us...look at Zander...he's so huge..."  And I can't believe it either because it's been a blink and it's been a lifetime.

I dare say, much must have happened in 34 years.  I must have some wisdom to impart now than I am halfway to the darling age of 68 (at which point I shall be ballroom dancing on a cruise ship in the Caribbean with a pool boy named Francis).

These are for you.  34 pieces.  String them together into a pretty necklace...for they are pearls!


1.    Hold your heroes to a high standard.

2.    Squeeze the toothpaste from the end.

3.    Put a lock on your bedroom door.

4.    Perfect a strong handshake.

5.    Give credit.  Take blame.

6.    A little chocolate every day makes you a better person.

7.    Forks on the left, spoons on the right.

8.    Be slow to hate and quick to forgive.

9.     Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

10. Climb trees.

11. Never ever ever say one of the following: 'How far along are you?'  'You're going to lose that,   aren't you?'  'You might want to rethink that second piece of pie.'

12. Always always ALWAYS say one of the following every single day: 'I love you.'   'You're beautiful.'  'Thank you.'

13. Eat dinner at the table as a family - no screens.  'How was your day?' is not a stupid question!

14. You're never too old to need your mom.

15. A grudge is never worth it.

16. Pouring a bad cup of coffee down the drain is better than letting it gurgle around in your stomach.

17. Hold the door for strangers.

18. Say no to new credit cards and limit increases.

19. Find out if there will be food there.

20. Don't litter.

21. Go for walks without a destination in mind.

22. Turn Facebook notifications off on your cell phone.

23. Take so many pictures that it annoys your kids.

24. Keep your promises.

25. Read what moves you.  If a story doesn't make you laugh, cry or shudder you've probably just wasted valuable hours of your life.

26. Do things that scare you. 

27. Be like Jesus - not like his followers.

28. Don't let the dirty dishes pile up.

29. Snow tires are worth it!

30. If it's something you can do yourself, don't wait for someone else to do it - initiative is a beautiful thing - be proud of your capabilities and accomplishments.

31. Your children think you're a hero.  Don't let them down.

32. Love your enemies.

33. Cherish your friends.

34. Treasure your family.


So, there you have it.  In all things be true to your own happiness because how can you bring joy to others if you haven't any of your own?

Blessings and Happy New Year's Eve!



Monday, December 30, 2013

The Art Of Life UnPlugged

unplugged, rest, slippers, christmas tree, book shelf

The draw of social media has a magnetism that pulls tight like a 90's turtleneck.  

In the same way a peek-a-boo baby thinks you have been whisked away the moment you cover her eyes, so does Facebook assume you're broken should more than a day go by without a conscientious 'here I am'.

It startled me actually, when facebook began emailing me to discover whether or not I was dead - that passive aggressive troll who can't stand to think I may have a lover beyond the realm of this fifteen inch screen - some Alphorn-playing-buffoon (so vain they think this post is about them) shouting my name like an anthem, trying to make me understand how important it is that I plug in, get connected and drain my life force into the things that matter...(things like what shoes Jane wore with that blue skirt or what kind of peppers John put on his sub...you know, the real important stuff.)

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it even make a sound? 

Even more so, if a girl doesn't post to facebook for a whole week,
does she even still exist?

The answer, my friends, is yes, yes she does. 

It wasn't only facebook that I pulled back from - I ignored emails, I didn't blog. There were weekends when I didn't even open my computer.

Ah...sweet freedom...such blissful tastes of candy cane and sugar plum and Joy To The World!

I lived.  I breathed.  I read a book.  I took baths.  I drank tea.  I basked in the tinsely glory of the season and unapologetically refused the beast that begged to pull me from being present in my most favorite time of the year.

And when the hustle and bustle slowed down I thought to myself, 'Self, you are ready. This Sabbath is over. Go forth and share!' (In my very best Christopher Plummer voice, of course - which isn't very good but he's just such a motivational darling, isn't he??)

The only real problem with taking a break is the work you have to do to make up for the time you took off...because there are stories to tell that would have been told had I been wearing my crazy-hat and trying to do it all at once.  Instead, I will write some back-posts (at my leisure) to fill you in on the gaps and in the meantime know that I wish you all the wonderment and joy the coming new year has to offer!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Hills Are Alive With The Snuggles Of Smelly Boys

Christmas brings with it many moments worth sealing into memory.  There is the thrill of stockings,  the mounds of food, the laughter of sticky children, the moon on the breast of the new fallen snow...But often, if we take the time to look, it's the simplest piece - the humble pie - which tattoos us warmly with moments that define true importance.

nbc, carrie underwood, sound of music live
photo credit

stephen moyer, true blood, vampire to von trapp, bill compton
photo credit
I recorded NBC's live Sound of Music because I wanted to watch it with my sister. When she decided to be too busy for too long, I tucked myself in a blanket and decided to enjoy it on my own.  It wasn't anything to write home about.  Carrie Underwood was charming but Julie Andrew's put the bar pretty high - like CN Tower high - poor thing didn't stand a chance!  It was a little bit adorable with a splash of cheese and a whole lot of 'Bill Compton...who do you think you are????...Vampire to Von Trapp??? Meh...'

{Once you go vampire you just can't go back - especially to something like a warbling Navy Captain.  A vampire shouldn't sing.  (Unless, of course, we're talking about that Season 2 musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer which, in my humble - and in no way endorsed - opinion, is the true definition of network television production genius!)}

I am barely through the credits when the familiar fall of Liam's clumsy sleep-feet shuffled at the top of the stairs.

*push pause*

"What are you doing, Liam?"

"I can't sleep!" It's the same every single night of his life.

"Come here," I say.

"Why?" Because, by this point he's come to expect the regular 'Are you kidding me??? Get back into bed!!!  Now!!!'

"Just come here!"

And he slips down the stairs like a slinky and comes to stand in front of me, wary of the punishment he can't find on my face but is sure lurks there somewhere.

I flip back the blankets and pull him onto the couch beside me, tucking him down into a little nook by my hip.  He giggles and squirms down to comfort and I cover us both while the fire lets out a friendly crackle and the cat jumps up to sit on my chest.  He purrs.  Liam pets him and looks at me all smug like he's won some kind of war.  "Whatcha watchin'?"

"A musical."

"What's a musical?"

"The greatest invention of all time."

"Yeah right!"

*press play*

The nuns are singing.  "This is weird," he says.  "Why are they wearing those hats? This is so not even real life!"

"Just watch," I tell him.

And he does.  And he becomes completely invested.  When we get to a sad scene and Carrie has tears leaking from her eyes he sits up tall and declares, "She doesn't even have to cry, Mommy. You know what she should do? All she has to do is sing that raindrops song and she'll feel better!"

He watches the entire thing, late into the night - offering his brilliant commentary and as the credits roll he tries to tuck himself tighter against me, "When can we make everyone watch this with us?"

"Soon," I promise - but it has to be the real one because if he liked this version, the 1965 release will blow his mind!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Great Dutchie Letdown

dutchie, donut, dutchie donut, tim hortonsIt became a tradition after every Music Festival. Whether I killed it and took first place or sat paralyzed at the piano, dying inside because I'd forgotten my piece - we would celebrate a victory or repair my broken heart by visiting a Mom & Pop Donut shop on the main street - the kind with signs painted right on the window and a counter you could sit at with your hot chocolate and clear baggies full of day-olds you could buy for a couple dollars and smoke curling up to the ceiling from the old man eating his butter tart with a spoon, reading the Sports Section in the back corner.

I would always choose a Dutchie.  I liked that it was square when everything else was round.  I liked that it had raisins. I liked how there was always one corner where the raisins would congest and I could save that corner for the very last bite because it was perfect and every ending should be 'happily ever after'... 

To this day it remains my favorite. Nothing compares (in the area of coffee shop confection) to a Dutchie. Nothing else holds the proverbial high-five of my mother or the tender sentiment of being cared for with a special treat.  Nothing.   Not a Cruller, not a Fritter, not a good old Canadian Maple.

Some days just call for sweetness.  Days like today, when the air is crisp and the sun shines blinding on the snow and your coffee is begging for companionship on the long drive to take your husband to work...

"Welcome to Tim Horton's.  Can I take your order, please?"

"Medium regular and a Dutchie, please."

"I'm sorry, we've discontinued the Dutchie...can I interest you in a Boston Cream donut instead?"

* Ew! - Gross! - Barf! * 

What are they thinking?  Tearing that little sentimental snack right off the rack like it doesn't seep nostalgia every time I save the raisin corner until the end?  Turning a blind eye to a customers need desire?

Monsters!

I feel robbed.

And I intend to hold a grudge until they bring it back (or start selling homemade pie through drive-thru windows).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Time To Mourn & A Time To Dance

grandpa austin, earl austin, alberta grandfatherWhat is the weight of 94 years? How heavy does that feel, resting on shoulders that bore the witness of so much life?

I can't even imagine the creep and crawl of years for this man who had silver in his hair and gold in his heart - how he did so much and loved so hard and carved himself a little place dear in my soul. Soft and gentle but with the strength of the sea - strength to carry through until heaven knocked too hard.

I think of him in tones of blue, like a sky of wispy clouds, all this love that asked for nothing as he slipped away peacefully from dreaming straight into the arms of Jesus.

I hear him laugh and it is like air and it shakes his whole body but hardly makes a sound and how he would pat my head and call me 'sweet girl' and the tickle of the long grass by his barn that time in Alberta...

I imagine him, reunited now with my grandmother, eyes sparkling like they always did, "Elsie, darling, have I got a story to tell you!"

Sleep, dear man. Rest. Dance. Play. May the legacy of your goodness carry on, just as those you've left behind will never stop loving you.

Farewell, Grandpa.

You're in my heart forever.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

He's Sweet Like A Lollipop [If You Take The Time To Pick Off The Pocket Lint]

The stairs groan and the lights of the Christmas tree  seem to cast his shadow a little longer than normal as he slowly slips, step by step, down to where Sweeney Todd and I are having a marvelous late night sing-a-long.

I mute the movie, right in the middle of 'Not While I'm Around.'  "What are you doing, Liam?"

"Mmmmm," He slides his bum down the last three stairs and comes to stand in front of me, rubbing his eyes and squinting against the overhead light. "I just have two things," he says and then holds up a finger. "First, I can't even sleep!"

"Yes, you can, Liam - you do this every night!"

"Okay, but second," he holds up another finger. "Can you take me to Walmart by myself?"

"Why?"

He scratches over his ear. "'Cause I just wanna buy a Christmas present for Zander and Noa."

"Oh, you sweet boy!" I say.  "Come here!" And I pull him in close. "I just want to kiss your face!"

"But can you take me to Walmart?" he asks as I plant a big one beside his nose.

"Of course, we'll figure out a day, okay? You need to go to sleep now though."

"Okay."

One more kiss and he climbs back up the stairs while Helena sings, 'Nothing's gonna hurt you, no one's gonna dare...' and I smile at his dwindling shadow and the shuffle of his feet as he trundles off to bed - because there, deep beneath all those toads and snails and puppy dog tails is a pocket full of sugar and spice that sprinkles warm upon anyone who is patient enough to watch it slowly trickle out.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I Survived NaBloPoMo {And All I Got Was A Habit}


I made it through.

November 30th passed without fireworks, without a high five or an atta-girl, without fanfare, without a drum roll, without much more than a sigh. 

But I'm proud! I faced a mountain and I climbed it and some days felt like I didn't have a harness but I pushed and I pushed and I breeched that crest and now I'd like to sleep for just a little while.  

But as I've watched the December 1st clock slowly tick towards the 2nd I feel weirdly incomplete without taking a moment to make a mark here.

I've heard that it takes 30 days to adopt a new habit.  

So watch out!  Momma's got a brand new bag!

I'm not saying I'm going to carry on with posting every single day but I've been pleasantly surprised with how much I actually have to say - not that all or any of it is particularly profound - but leaving a mark means something even if that mark is just a smear.

It feels good to be out from under that oppressive pressure of 'holy-canoli-I-signed-up-for-something-and-I'll-look-like-a-loser-if-I-don't-carry-it-through!' I'll trade that, instead, for a more casual 'the heart writes what the heart writes when the heart feels so inclined.'  

Ah.  Freedom. I embrace you wholly.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sweet Marie

When 'IT' happened I felt frozen because things like that didn't happen in real life.  A woman can't suddenly break - too many people lean on her - too many people need her at her best.  Too many people take her for granted.  It was a testament to the fragility of our bodies, the randomness of nature and the cruelty of surprise.  A blood clot.  A spine.  Put those together and you've cooked a terrifying soup that's beyond explanation.  

When I sat across from her in the hospital I didn't know what to do except try to make her laugh but all that did was hurt her.  We are too young.  Too young to be caught in a battle that steals a body from itself.

"I will walk again," she told me.

And I know she will because I've never seen her give up on anything.

It's strange, the line between coworker and friendship, and I feel so blessed to have both through her and so empty each day I walk passed her office and there's no smiling face welcoming me to work.  

If I'm being perfectly honest, I think I love my job because of the people I work with - and when one piece is missing the whole machine just feels lopsided and sad.  

They say you don't know what you've got until it's gone - but what if you did know? I think that makes it harder.

And I'm being selfish.

Marie, you are a rock star. You are one of the strongest and bravest women I've ever known. You have helped me through bad days, talked me up from a funk, been my personal advocate, pushed me to do better, shared life with me.  I miss you every day and don't doubt for a minute that you will return stronger with a fire in your heart that will leave us all in a cloud of go-get-'er spunk.

One foot in front of the other, my friend.  One day at a time.  Soon this will be a story you can look back on as just a dark little blip on the map of your brighter-than-the-sun life.

[NaBloPoMo Day 30]

Friday, November 29, 2013

Just A Jar Of Instant Coffee

She shuffled in with snowflakes caught on her hat, her red coat like a violent cloud that swallowed her - puffed up and forcing her arms away from her torso as if she were a body builder. Her boots didn't lift off the carpet as she walked, just slid across with a heaviness that belied the purity of her snowy tuque. A scarf covered her lips and most of her nose and she made brief eye contact with me, her gaze glassy and sad.

I tried to make my smile warm as she came and leaned up against my desk, looking at me quickly before gazing up at the ceiling.  "Um," she said and her left eye squinted, "I just kind of wondered if you kept any canned food here?" Her shoulders seemed to curl forward and she flipped her gaze to the floor like she was repenting.  "I just wondered, 'cause you're a church, you know...?"

"I'm sorry," I told her, "We don't keep stuff like that here. The Salvation Army is right around the corner."

"Yeah," she said and she wiped her nose on her scarf.  "I won't get any money until Monday."

I felt like I was folding in on myself. That every good thing in my life reflected on her in an ugly light. That this was a moment that mattered and I was useless in it.

"I'm sorry," I said again - like an apology would fill her belly and a sympathetic smile would turn her life around.

A melting snowflake turned into a tear as it dripped from her hat and disappeared beneath her scarf. "Well, do you have any coffee I can have?"

instant coffee, nescafe, generosity, give a cup of coffeeI rushed to the water cooler where we kept a jar of instant coffee.  I lifted it and shook it.  "There's less than a third here - and it's just instant - but you can have it."

I put it in her hand.

She pulled off her mittens and folded her fingers around it like she could already feel it's warmth.  "But what about you guys? What will you drink?"

"Oh, don't worry about us. You take that. I'm sorry I don't have more to give you."

"Thank you," she said, clutching that pathetic jar against her coat.  "Thank you."

"It's not much," I said.

She shook her head like I didn't know what I was saying. "Now I'll have coffee 'til Monday." There was a music to her voice that hadn't been there before and as she headed back out into the snow her boots lifted just a little higher off the carpet.


[NaBloPoMo Day 29]

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Zombie Daughters Make Zombie Sons

"WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?" His roar is rich and deep and heavy with a rage that 12 years shouldn't know. "AAAAOOOOOWWWWW! NOA, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?"

I can hear her whimper through the porch door.  "I don't know."

They're getting their coats on to go to church for the mid-week program.

"NOA!"

"Sorry, Zander." Barely a whisper.

"NO YOU'RE NOT!" And he sounds like murder.

I open the door. Zander's clutching his side and breathing through his mouth in the long draws we've taught him to use when he needs to calm down.  Noa is staring at the floor and there's terror in the shiver of her shoulders.

"What happened?" I ask.

"NOA BIT ME!" He lifts his shirt and shows me the wound.

"Noa, did you bite him?" I ask.

"Yes."

"Why?"

"I don't know."

"Zander, what happened?"

Liam pipes up, "He called her a zombie."

I want to laugh because common sense would say, you call a kid zombie - that kid is going to bite you!

Poor Zombie Noa. A great tear slips down her cheek while she contemplates the consequence of her action, looking to a brother who is red-faced and shaking his head against his own pain tears.

I can't laugh, of course. Noa is disciplined with lost privileges and I put them through the actions of apology and acceptance.

"You realize what your shirt says, Zander?" I ask him.

He looks down and a little grin splits through the gloom.  

zombie, I'm with zombie shirt,

I'll have to keep my eye on him. All it takes is a bite to be turned.

[NaBloPoMo Day 28]

And now, a behind the scenes look at the thrilling making of this post...

We've finished dinner and I say to Zander, "Would you go put on the zombie shirt you were wearing yesterday so I can take a picture of it?"

"What? Why? Did you blog about the bite?"

"Yup."

"I don't want to."  (Mom, you're so lame!)  "I'm still hungry. Can I have a muffin?"

"Go put on that shirt and you can have a muffin."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Moment I 'LOL' Is The Moment I've Given Up

I love words.

I am thrilled by the art of them - by the way they can cast feeling like the sun casts a shadow - the way metaphor can spell scent - how the mere arrangement of letters can churn feelings that manifest in bursts of laughter, weeping tears or haunting sentiment. I love their look upon a page and the strength of their power when rightly concocted into a message that feeds an eye hungry for sustenance.

Without words we are thoughtless.

Without thought we are dead.

I mourn the loss of flourish and grieve for our hurry-up-and-get-it-done humanity that forgets that slowing down sometimes reveals the most beautiful truth.

Stop and smell the roses.

Contemplate the texture of hope.

Revel in the mastery of a well-thought satire.

How far we have fallen!

I don't expect you to share in my loss. Perhaps I am old fashioned - stuck in some utopian dream of hazy romanticism that the twenty-first century just doesn't need.

But I refuse to fold.

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty is one of the most beautiful (albeit disquieting) fictions I have ever read. What if he hadn't cared for the shaping of his words? What if he hadn't let his heart spill out that which could touch another heart?
“We mourn the blossoms of May because they are to whither; but we know that May is one day to have its revenge upon November, by the revolution of that solemn circle which never stops---which teaches us in our height of hope, ever to be sober, and in our depth of desolation, never to despair.” 
What if he had simply written: 'Don't give up'?

How empty. How devoid of soul.

I and the other few lovers will swim in our alphabet of synonymy, basking in the glory of the perfect word picture, finding poetry in the bark of a tree and lyric on a subway car...all this while the world eats Big Macs and LOL's at cat videos.

The day I 'LOL' is the day I've given up.

Expressing my delight over something that has moved me to laughter cannot - nor should it - be reduced to three letters.  I refuse to insult my own love of words with such triviality.

So, let us not go quietly into the night. Let us hold tight to the art that is language. Let us be old fashioned in a new light. Let us say what we mean and mean what we say and when the moment is right, let us laugh out loud and be brave enough to say it.

[NaBloPoMo Day 27]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

When A Speck Is A Plank & Google Saved The Day

ecclesiastes 3:4, a time to cry, a time to weep, a time to laugh, tear, crying, something stuck in my eyeWithin minutes of waking this morning there was a violent shard of something angry in my eye. I couldn't see it. Nobody else could see it. But seeing isn't always believing.  I could feel it. 

I rinsed. I flushed. I used drops. I said pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top.

Nothing but a speck, I'm sure. How can teeny tiny hurt like that? How can itty bitty be the size of a 2x4 stabbing me like a coloneol war. 'Pardon me, sir, but your bayonet is caught in my cornea...'

Tears leaked down my cheek on the way to work as I blinked against intrusion and I could feel the slow growth of swelling and the warmth of my whites slowly turning red.

I sat at my desk, holding a tissue in my palm like a grandma, keeping my door mostly closed - not only to keep the heat in but to prevent people from passing by and placing their hand over their heart and tilting their head to the left and asking, "Who died?"

"My eye! My eye died and came back to haunt me with jagged jerk fingernails!"

I slipped to the washroom a number of times, hoping to finally see the invader and have him deported.

Not a chance.

By that point it was boring directly through my eye to my brain. I know because my vision was fuzzy and vision is probably the first thing to go when a porcupine tunnels it's way through your orbit.

Finally, because I was annoyed, frustrated, fed up with six hours of leaking tears (AND BECAUSE IT HURT, DARN IT!) I did what any sane person in this awesome age of technology does: I googled it:

Dear Google, I have something stuck in my eye and it won't come out and it really hurts. Can you help me? Please? Pleeeeeeease? *whimper*whimper*tear*

And Google said, "Oh, you poor, poor dear, nothing would fulfil me more as a heartless non-human than helping relieve you from your pain.  Have you tried flushing your eye with water?"

Yes, Google, yes I have, several times actually *sniffle*tear*

"What about looking at your eye ball in the mirror to try and see the foreign object?"

DUH!

"Well, then try lifting up your upper lid and pulling it down over your lower lid and rolling your eye around."

SERIOUSLY? That's stupid!

"Trust me," Google said. "I am like a billion brains all rolled together. I know what I'm talking about! I'm like Sheldon Cooper on crack!"

So I tried it - sitting at my desk - tears still leaking around my fingers as I followed the advice of a faceless wiseacre.

And it worked!

Google, you clever creature, if you were capable of a high five your hand would still be stinging with my enthusiasm!

So, I'm cured. At least of the alien that was harvesting tears to replentish the water supply on Mars. I'm still left with a red, swollen mess that makes me look a little like Quasimodo but as long as I don't wake up with a hunchback tomorrow, I'll count myself lucky. (I don't think Google would be ready for that one.)

[NaBloPoMo Day 26]

Monday, November 25, 2013

Make It Monday: Mason Jar Christmas Trees

mason jar craft, mason jar, maon jar christmas trees, mason jar christmas, christmas craft


Let's start off with a little honesty, shall we? As much as I wish this was my original idea, it's not. The great beast that is Pinterest stuck this beauty in my head and all I've done is taken the brilliance of someone else and tweaked it to my own liking.

With that being said, I'll share my recipe for Christmas cuteness in a jar!

1. Gather & prep your supplies. I visited the local dollar store for mini trees, glitter, and sparkly bits. I have a rather large supply of mason jars so I just pulled some from the cold room shelves and gave them a good wash and dry.
mason jar craft, mason jar, maon jar christmas trees, mason jar christmas, christmas craft

2. Attach the trees. Use a generous bead of hot glue on the underside of your lid and secure the trees there.

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3. Add your pretties. Shake in some glitter and sparkly bits to the bottom of your jar. By adding this first it won't end up totally covered by your 'snow' in the next step. {I used silver sequins, beads, and snowflakes that were part of a Dollorama Christmas card-making kit.}

mason jar craft, mason jar, maon jar christmas trees, mason jar christmas, christmas craft, glitter

mason jar craft, mason jar, maon jar christmas trees, mason jar christmas, christmas craft, glitter
4. Time for snow. I'm sure there are many options for snow but because I wasn't planning to add water and turn these into snow globes I chose to use good old kitchen salt and simply poured it into the jars on top of the glitter.

mason jar craft, mason jar, maon jar christmas trees, mason jar christmas, christmas craft, glitter, salt, salt as snow
5. Put on your lid & flip it over. My trees were a little wider than the mouth of my jar so I had to coax them gently through the opening. When you turn the jar, the 'snow' will settle around the base of the tree and hide that ugly plastic.

mason jar craft, mason jar, maon jar christmas trees, mason jar christmas, christmas craft
6. Decorate. This is the point, right? I put these beauties in special little spaces around the house and I love their wintery look!

mason jar craft, mason jar, maon jar christmas trees, mason jar christmas, christmas craft, vintage truck, toy truck, toy tractor

mason jar craft, mason jar, maon jar christmas trees, mason jar christmas, christmas craft

mason jar craft, mason jar, maon jar christmas trees, mason jar christmas, christmas craft, star

mason jar craft, mason jar, maon jar christmas trees, mason jar christmas, christmas craft
It's beginning to look like Christmas around here!

[NaBloPoMo Day 25]

Linking up at this great place:
More the Merrier Monday

 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Christmas Bucket List

Tomorrow marks exactly one month until Christmas, and though it's beginning to rear it's beautiful face in small touches around my house I am in no way ready.

And so, in an attempt at being proactive I gathered the kids and together we came up with our Christmas Bucket List - all the things we want to do before the Big Day.

A lot of fun awaits!

We shall:
  1. Deck our halls!
  2. Sing Christmas songs.
  3. Bake cookies.
  4. Go tobogganing.
  5. Read the Nativity Story
  6. Go skating.
  7. Decorate the tree.
  8. Eat figgy pudding (Zander insisted on this one - I don't think he really knows what he's asking!)
  9. Write to Santa.
  10. Take treats to the neighbours
  11. Watch ELF (also LOVE ACTUALLY but that doesn't include the kids yet).
  12. Make snow angels.
  13. Drink hot chocolate (with whipped cream and sprinkles, of course).
  14. Snuggle by the fire.
  15. Build a big snowman.
  16. Read 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas'
  17. Put eggnog in our coffee.
  18. Decorate a gingerbread house.
  19. Have a snowball fight.
  20. Make homemade ornaments.
Let the countdown begin!

{You can grab a copy of our Christmas Bucket List by clicking here}

[NaBloPoMo Day 24]

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Double Cup Debate

 double cup, cardboard sleeve, tim horton's, coffee,

Tim Horton's has recently introduced 'the sleeve', a corrugated cardboard copycat of what Starbucks has done for years, effectively replacing my gorgeous double cup security blanket, in turn (essentially) ruining the caffeine experience of two very dedicated customers.

I understand their reasoning - really, I do. Saving the world and all that jazz. And I love the world. Of course I want to save it.  BUT, I'm also like a child with a favorite sippy cup who just doesn't want to use that other 'less awesome' cup because somehow/someway it just doesn't make things taste as good.

double cup, cardboard sleeve, tim horton's, coffee, It's my husband's fault. He started the whole double cup things for me. Probably because he's crazy. Not psychopath crazy but count the stairs (and count the beats and 'straighten that picture frame or the earth will explode!') crazy. There is a method to his madness - sort of. But reality is, I think his only true reason is that he likes to line things up - as he does with the seams of his coffee cups. "Double double, double cupped, please!" And then he'll pull them apart and twist them around until their seams are aligned and his lid is perfectly placed to keep the seams visible...

*cue the straight jacket!*

(I couldn't even take a true picture of a double cup because they wouldn't give it to me - this is my medium stuck in his extra large for demonstration purposes.)

It's more than alignment for me. I like to nurse a coffee. It's not unusual for me to make one cup last from the drive in to work until almost noon. Two cups provides double the insulation and keeps that drink hot so much longer.  A sleeve? We've lost steam by 10 am!

And, let's be honest - there's just some ergonomic beauty that confirms the rightness of the world when my lips can rest between those two cup lips... shall we say, kissing the java?

This is really just worthless dribble (not unlike my cold coffee at 10 am). I don't imagine any argument I can make could cause change, nor should it - what do I know?

[NaBloPoMo Day 23]

Friday, November 22, 2013

I Dream Of Weeping In Strawberry Fields

John Lennon, quote, beatles, the beatles
photo credit

It's strange, this seeming love I have for a man who died before my first birthday. But it's part of my truth and I can't even begin to define it.

He was lionhearted - a bold hero of song and LSD, struck fast from a world who couldn't get enough of his strange lyric...what music would he be writing now?

John Lennon, beatles, the beatles, books, collection
And I even wonder sometimes - as I've come to know him a little better - what is it that is actually lovable about him - and would I feel the same if he hadn't been knocked down violently before he could completely change the world?

John Lennon, beatles, the beatles, books, collection

What I do know is this: I want to stand in Strawberry Fields some December 8th with snow on my face and the crisp air turning my breath white. I want to hold a candle and watch it dance upon the winter. I want to be with others who loved and love him. I want to cry - there among them - tears hot on my cheeks for no other reason than it sometimes feels like freedom to weep in company. I want to honor him in a way that says more than books on a shelf and the way a record spins. I want to stand where he stood and feel, just for a moment, like we really are giving peace a chance.

John Lennon, beatles, the beatles, record, collection, double fantasy, yoko ono

[NaBloPoMo Day 22]

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It Can't All Be Pretty...{Yet}

Today, in a desperate search of something to share with you, I have conceded to revealing my deepest shame.

You know me. 

You know that I take great pride in the presentation of my home.

Just give me a second to prepare myself...

*takes deep breath*

I present to you the swirling vortex of stomach-churning chaos that my inner hoarder threw up on:







*hangs head, blushes with shame*










AS GOD IS MY WITNESS I SHALL DEFEAT THIS DEMON AND CREATE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GUEST ROOM EVER!

Amen.

[NaBloPoMo Day 21]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Uncovering The Past: The Uncle I Never Knew

Liam recently had to do a family tree project for school and my father sent me a link to some of our family history.  I revisited the site site today intending to pull out a tale I had found quite sweet but stumbled, instead, on the story of an uncle that I never knew - a story that brought with it an image that broke my heart...


In 1947 my grandparents adopted a little boy when he was only four days old.  I can imagine the mix of emotions - taking that bundle of brand new and their hearts swelling suddenly with room for another - such a beautiful gift to give to this little one who might have had no other chance. Loved so much that they gave him my Grandfather's name. 

But it seemed their joy was to be short-lived. Only two weeks after he arrived home with them, little Garry Earl became sick.  It was winter and the roads were treacherous. Both the Coal Trail and the Penhold Road were impassible but concern for their baby caused them to push on and they eventually made it to a hospital in Stettler, Alberta, where they were told Garry should never have been given for adoption - he had a poor heart.

(Never given for adoption? What would they have done with him? That thought alone disturbs me. Doesn't every child, no matter their 'condition' deserve the love of a family?)

For ten months they loved him. Ten months of nestles in the rocking chair and lullabies sung in the midnight hour and giggles at his silly faces and bouncing him on knees and showing him off to all the crazy church ladies. 

Ten months of crazy love.

Then he caught a cold. Grandma Elsie (for whom my darling niece is named) was up with him at 3am before settling him back to sleep. At 5am, Grandpa Earl got up to do his chores and bent to kiss the sleeping baby on his way out. The moment his lips touched Garry's forehead, he knew.
Delburne Cemetery, Alberta

And I am stuck with this image of my grandfather, this little man with a heart as big as the world and I'm sure he was in a million pieces as he woke his wife.  How can you ever ever ever forget the feeling of cold skin after you've left your love on it?

Ten months old.  This baby.  My uncle. 

And I can't help but remember my babies and how they would sleep and how I would watch them and know they were more beautiful than the idea of heaven and how that is exactly how my grandparents felt - right up until the moment that beauty was stolen - right up until the moment he was gone.

I just want to hug my grandpa!

[NaBloPoMo Day 20]
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Save Your Money - Buy Used!

He pulled the jeans from the rack and waved me over. "Look!" he said, holding out the tag with an outrageous $175 original price. Boys size 7. "Can you imagine spending that on kids jeans?"

"Disgusting!"

I would NEVER pay $175 for jeans for myself, let alone a Liam who busts through knees and thinks grass is his own personal landing strip for slide tackles and a good butt scootch.

Do you know how many meals I could make for my family with $175???

Me neither, but it's an awful lot!

I suffer from a great aversion to full-priced clothing. I just can't justify it. It doesn't matter how much I like something/want something/need something - if it costs more than I make an hour I have a really hard time forking over the cash.

It's just unnecessary.

It's not that I don't think we're worth the cost of great clothing - it's that I know if I'm just patient enough and not quite so picky, I can find something acceptable for a whole lot less if I'm willing to spend the time sniffing through crowded thrift store racks.  (And I mean sniffing literally - take a whiff before you buy, people! Gain doesn't cure everything!)  

PLUS, there's a strange satisfaction knowing that you're paying WAY LESS than the sucker who had those clothes before you. 
 
I understand that clothing, for many people, is a status symbol. It's why we have terms like 'power suit'. You know what my power suit is? A pair of  $7 jeans and a $6 blouse!  BAM!



I am not a style trend-setter. I don't give a hoot about what's in and what's out and what Blake Lively wore at the New Orleans H&M store opening last week. I (try to) care about fit, quality, price, and whether or not I feel pretty in it and, as far as I'm concerned, that's what matters. Labels mean nothing to me. If I like it, I like it and you can bet I don't care if it came from Walmart or if Marc Jacobs carved his name in it with his own hand.

I had originally intended to find comparable prices to stand beside my example purchases in order to prove that I am saving a buttload of money but it turns out that finding prices on things that are no longer 'current' is next to impossible (at least in the time frame I'm allowing for this post).  Just trust me...I saved BIG!

In case you're feeling inspired to venture into the exciting world of thrift stores and great bargains, I've compiled a small list of tips to help you on your way.

1. Take your time. You can't do this while you're rushed. There are literally thousands of individual items to wade through.  (And don't assume you can trust size labels either - these are things that have been worn and washed and their reality could be far removed from the number on the tag.) Look through things item by item, pull things off the rack, touch everything.

2. Set boundaries.  Belts: good. Underwear: bad.

3. Dress for the change room. Wear something that will make trying on clothes faster and easier.  I like to wear a tight fitting undershirt/camisole and slip-on shoes. Don't wear a dress - if you're in the market for a new blouse and you have to model it for your waiting-with-the-cart husband, things can get a little awkward when you come out of the dressing room wearing nothing but a polka-dot top and pantyhose!

4. Inspect every item closely. Look for rips, tears, missing buttons, stains, pulled threads, split seams...then put that thing to your nose and sniff it good - if it doesn't conjure up images of a high school locker room or that guy who pees in the bus stop then you shouldn't have a problem that a warm wash cycle can't fix.  And, for goodness sake, read the care label! Dry clean only? Not for this girl, thank you very much!

5. Learn your way around a needle and a thread. Sometimes you find the perfect thing BUT it has a little blemish. Is it fixable? Is it something you'll actually take care of or will it sit in the 'FIX IT' pile like your husband's jeans and your daughters Easter dress? If you still want it, show what needs fixing to the cashier or manager and they'll often knock a few dollars off the price.

6. One item in, one item out. I'm awful at this but I still think it's a great piece of advice: for every new (to you) thing you bring home, choose something you already have and don't use/love anymore that you can donate back. Some places even offer coupons for a percentage off if you bring in a donation - research the thrift stores in your area and find out who best takes care of their generous customers.

That's it, my short and sweet advice. May your finds be gorgeous and your wallet eternally gracious!

[NaBloPoMo Day 19]

Monday, November 18, 2013

Make It Monday: Snowman Family

snowmen, snowman, wooden, diy, craft, christmas, winter, wooden snowman family

I did this project last year before the snow started falling. The poor boys put up a good fight but I think they came out on the losing side of the battle: scarred, blinded, and in pieces.

snowmen, snowman, wooden, diy, craft, christmas, winter, wooden snowman family

Today, with the smell of winter in the air and shops already playing 'Frosty The Snow Man' I thought I'd pull the bodies from their tomb and practice a little resurrection living...and share with you how I made & embellished them.

1. Dig out some old pieces of wood. I used various heights and thicknesses. Choose one piece for your base and then decide how many snowmen you want and figure out where you want them placed. 
2. Beginning with the shortest 'snowman', work upside down and hammer at least two nails through the base and into your board resting perpendicularly beneath the base.  (Ideally you should use a drill and screws but one of our drills had a dead battery and the other was rusted out - nails worked for me and they can work for you BUT SCREWS ARE BETTER!) Continue with each piece working from shortest to tallest. (This is tedious and annoying to balance - if you want to simplify this project, choose boards of all the same height.)
3. Paint. I wanted my snowmen to appear weathered and so I didn't try and cover everything. Because I used different boards, old paint and finishes show through the white and I love the varying effect.
4. Embellishments. This is the fun part. I dug around my house and craft table and barn to find all kinds of goodies to sweeten these guys up.

snowmen, snowman, wooden, diy, craft, christmas, winter, wooden snowman family,

snowmen, snowman, wooden, diy, craft, christmas, winter, wooden snowman family

5. I used a glue gun to attach all the bits and pieces - you may want to use something stronger, depending on how exposed your snowmen are going to be.

snowmen, snowman, wooden, diy, craft, christmas, winter, wooden snowman family, glue gun, hot glue

 I just can't get over how adorable these are! Have fun adding different personalities to the faces and don't be afraid to add something unexpected! 

snowmen, snowman, wooden, diy, craft, christmas, winter, wooden snowman family
snowmen, snowman, wooden, diy, craft, christmas, winter, wooden snowman family

This will eventually make it's way outside by the door but it weighs at least a ton and there's a November blizzard going on so, for now, it waits in my living room - keeping me company until the kids get home from school.

[NaBloPoMo Day 18]

Linking up here:

More the Merrier Monday    
http://lifeasathrifter.blogspot.ca/2013/12/its-linky-party.html
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