Wednesday, April 30, 2014

'Pass The Joy Plate' Link Party

Here it is, your chance to share your story!

What Brings You Joy?
Share a post that explores your own version of Joy. Maybe it's a craft project. Maybe it's your children. Maybe it's the smell of your grandmother's apple pie. Maybe it's that poem you wrote in the second grade. Whatever it is, enter your link and then take some time to explore what other people are sharing.

This linkup will be open until May 28 so don't be afraid to come back and link more than one thing!

I will read everything and where I'm able, I'll leave a comment.

My favorites will be featured throughout the month {trusting that people actually participate - unlike my last embarrassing attempt}

Don't have a blog? Don't let that stop you from joining in! You can link up anything that has it's own unique address - from a twitter status {#PassTheJoyPlate} to an instagram photo!

I can't wait to see what you share! 

{linkup will go live at 8:00 am on May 1}
Scroll down to the bottom of the post and click on the blue   Add your link  button to participate.

I will also be on the lookout for joy-themed wonders out in the wide and wild internet world which I will share here too!

You could help promote this collection by placing my linkup button on your post - it's all about sharing the love. 

 {just copy the code below and put it on your blog post in your html window - it should be much smaller than the example below}
Pass the Joy Plate

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring Cleaning Challenge {How To Get Your Kids Excited About Helping}

Spring Cleaning Challenge - How To Get Your Kids Excited About HelpingYesterday, I opened the door and felt the soft caress of a warm breeze against my face.

The heaven's opened and glory came down!

Spring has sprung and the snow is nearly gone and hallelujah - I wore sandals!!!

Over the weekend we all pulled on rubber boots and walked the property, making a mental list of all the things we had to do.  The kids were all UGH and I was all YAY because I couldn't wait to get my hands filthy in all that dirt!

We are still fallen from winter BUT we have lifted our faces to this new Spring and it feels like resurrection.

Spring cleaning is a family affair and though I'd love to say my family is a ready participant in helpful things that is just not true.

They want incentive.

And by incentive I mean cold, hard cash.

We had a stroke of brilliance - or rather, the husband had a stroke of brilliance - make a list of everything we have to do, post it, have the kids sign their initials on any job they help with and the hardest worker gets the biggest prize.

Spring Cleaning Challenge - How To Get Your Kids Excited About Helping

Within minutes of completing the list, Liam was out the door working - occasionally yelling to his brother, "I'm going to make your money too!"

Some of the jobs are a lot bigger than a child can handle but I told them that just by helping {an appropriate amount} they can earn an initial - even if it hasn't been completed yet.
Spring Clean Your Pantry!

And while Liam darted around gathering sticks and conning the triplets from next door into raking with him, I spent HOURS in the garden, cleaning out the old and preparing for the new.


Today I have an aching back and sore legs and I couldn't be happier.

{this post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on them}


Have you been storing up your JOY STORIES?

May is Joy Month here at SelfBinding Retrospect. I am partnering with DaySpring Cards Inc for a lovely little giveaway and hosting a Joy Link party opening on May 1. If you've got a post to share about something that brings you joy, whether it's old or new, be sure to come back on the first and link it up. 

Don't have a blog? No problem! You can link up an Instagram picture, a twitter status - basically anything that can have it's own unique address.  I'll feature some of my favorites throughout. 

It's all about spreading a little happiness after this very long, soul-sucking winter. 

SelfBinding Retrospect giveaway

P.S. You can jump start your chances on the necklace by liking my facebook page - it will award you 2 free entries into the draw the first time you enter - just click the button below. {You'll have to earn any other entries by sharing little Joy Snippets so start collecting them and you'll be able to enter every day in May!}

Monday, April 21, 2014

DIY Golden Lampstand: Make It Monday

How to make a Tabernacle Lampstand, Menorah, DIY

Google is fallible. 

Discovering this caused just a wee bit of stress.

As part of the Good Friday Service Creative Team I was tasked with providing the tabernacle lampstand. {As a church we're on a chronological journey through the scriptures and Good Friday happens to fit right in the midst of Leviticus and all that crazy tabernacle business - Praise the Lord for 2014!}

I asked Google how to make my own lampstand.

Google just shrugged and said, "Sucks to be you!"

So I stewed in my stress and let two weeks pass and then realized I needed a plan and I needed it now!

I consulted an artist friend who helped me come up with a thin game plan.

So, armed with little more than my wits {and a dining room table full of 'I-really-hope-this-works' supplies} I tackled my project and ended up with a functional - albeit wonky - tabernacle lampstand.

And, because I would hate Google to embarrass herself again, I'm sharing my method on the off chance some weirdo like me will find themselves looking for a good old 'How To'.

You Will Need:                                Tools:

1 wooden dowel - 1 inch diameter                                Saw
6 feet 10/2 electrical copper wire                                Drill
   {orange jacket}                                                         Sandpaper
1 8 inch electric range pan                                           Glue gun
1 Styrofoam cup                                                           Wire cutters
1 screw                                                                        Scissors
Heavy cardboard
Plastic shopping bags
Flour & Water
7 shot glasses
Heavy nylon string
Gold spray paint
7 tea lights

1   Attach the Styrofoam cup - top down - to the 8 inch electric range pan with a glue gun. 

Cut a cardboard base the same diameter as the electric range pan - make a small hole in the center - and glue to the pan.

Make your own Tabernacle Lampstand, Menorah, DIY

3  Cut your dowel to a height of 2 feet and then sand the rough end until it's smooth and level.  Drill a small hole in one end.

Cut a one inch hole in the bottom of the Styrofoam cup .

5  Put your dowel through the Styrofoam cup and line up the drill hole with the hole in the cardboard. Use a small screw to secure the dowel in place. {The screw can be removed later when everything is dry - I couldn't find a flat-headed screw so it threw the balance off slightly until I took it out later.}

Make your own Tabernacle Lampstand, Menorah, DIY

6  Create four doubled lengths of cardboard, two inches wide. {My longest length was a piece of wood because I had it lying around but cardboard does the job too.}  Lengths of approximately 3 inches,  4 inches, 5 inches, and 6 inches - and cut a one inch circle in the center of each.

7  Using wire cutters, cut the electrical wire into lengths of 2 1/2 feet, 2 feet, and 1 1/2 feet and bend into 'U' shapes {see photo below}

8  Feed the longest cardboard length to approximately 7 inches down from the top of the dowel - make sure it's level and then glue in place.

9  Glue the largest 'U' wire onto the cardboard on one side of the dowel - hold it straight and steady while it drys.  Then feed the next largest cardboard piece and glue it on top before placing another wire {on the opposite side of the dowel} and continue for the third piece.  Trim any extra wire from the top so that your points are relatively even.

Make your own Tabernacle Lampstand, Menorah, DIY

10  Using the diameter of the dowel as your guide, wrap the wires in plastic shopping bags to create the same thickness.

11 Cut six 1 inch circles from cardboard - these will serve as level stands for your shot glasses. {The dowel is already flat, so it doesn't need one.}

12  Cut old newspapers into long strips.

Make your own Tabernacle Lampstand, Menorah, DIY

13  Mix flour and water together to the consistency of very thin pancake batter.

14  Paper mâche the entire piece. {Dip a strip of newspaper in the flour/water mixture, pull it between your fingers to take off the excess then place it on the structure, smoothing out any bubbles as you go.} When you reach the top of each wire, place the cardboard circle so it is central to the wire and set a shot glass on it. Continue the paper mâche to the rim of the shot glass.  {This paper mâche process will feel like it takes FOREVER so put on some good music and prepare for a long, slow go.} I did one layer - let it dry for a day and then did another.  During the drying process my shot glasses shifted a little and I ended up with a few that were tilted - if I was doing it again I would probably secure them with duct tape before the paper mâche.

How to make a Tabernacle Lampstand, menorah, DIY
{I paper mâched myself! That's me on the left of that piece of newspaper!}
15   To create a unified texture I wrapped the entire piece in heavy string - attaching with the glue gun.  I used what I could find so it's part cotton, part nylon, and part garden twine.  The cotton was easiest to work with but the nylon maintained it's shine when it was painted and when you're going for 'Golden Lampstand' shine is a good thing.

Make your own Tabernacle Lampstand, menorah, DIY

16  Spray paint it - outside. {I used BeautiTone Acrylic Gold Gloss Lacquer.}

17  Put a tea light in each shot glass holder.

How to make a Tabernacle Lampstand, Menorah, DIY

And that's it. You'll be left with a 26 inch, five pound thing of homemade beauty!

 This was not simple but it was a fun challenge and it made a lovely prop piece for the Good Friday service.

The terrible truth? This took just under 10 hours to complete!

PS  You're welcome, Google!

  Online Quilting Class Online Sewing Class

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oh Canada: Your Snow Is Sour But Your Maple Is Sweet

The weather was spring-jacket-beautiful and we rode that jostling wagon across the acreage to the sugar bush in the back of the farm, all five of us and our rubber boots and tightened adventure belts.

Holstein Maplefest, rubber boats

We were only ten minutes from home and this festival has gone on year after year but this was our first time and we were surprised at it's scale - for a homegrown, handmade, backwoods kind of thing.

Holstein Maplefest
Holstein Maplefest, sawing

It's all mud and snow and more mud and we wandered a long trail deeper into the trees until we found the barn where they'd been cooking pancakes for hours.  They loaded our plates. Pancakes. Sausage. Baked Beans. Enough syrup to make it a soupy, delicious mess.  This is how we began - with stomachs filling as a lady in full clown makeup crooned old country songs from a stage in the corner.

It was all very adorable and makeshift and we meandered around, learning how sausage is made and how sap is boiled and miles and miles of tubing connecting all those trees for all that sap.

It was a lovely afternoon of good old fashioned fun!

Holstein Maplefest, maple taffy station

Holstein Maplefest, zipline, cable ride

Holstein Maplefest, maple taffy, wagon ride, kettlecorn

Oh Canada, your snow is sour but your maple is so so sweet!

REMINDER: May is Joy Month here at SelfBinding Retrospect. I am partnering with DaySpring Cards Inc for a lovely little giveaway and hosting a Joy Link party opening on May 1. If you've got a post to share about something that brings you joy, whether it's old or new, be sure to come back on the first and link it up. I'll feature some of my favorites throughout. It's all about spreading a little happiness after this very long, soul-sucking winter.

SelfBinding Retrospect giveaway

P.S. You can jump start your chances on the necklace by liking my facebook page - it will award you 2 free entries into the draw the first time you enter - just click the button below. {You'll have to earn any other entries by sharing little Joy Snippets so start collecting them and you'll be able to enter every day in May!}

My Favorite Person Contest {Make A Blurb Book & You Could Win $2500}

(This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.)

Did you know that Blurb might give you $2,500 to read about your favorite person? All you have to do is make a book about a loved one filled with all sorts of kind words, creativity and insight, and if selected, you could win the grand prize! Whoever makes the best and brightest book about a loved one will win $2,500! For every book you make {there are seven different categories, so seven different chances to win} you will receive a 30% discount on the printed product.

Go to Blurb to check out the details of the contest to see what the categories are and when the entries are due. The 30% discount on My Favorite books will be applied at checkout when you use the promo code: MYFAVORITE. (And, even if you don't enter, you can still get 30% off on all My Favorite books or save 15% on all printed orders through April 30th!)

Not sure what to write about?

Monday, April 14, 2014

You Don't Know How Beautiful You Are

You Don't Know How Beautiful You Are - SelfBinding RetrospectThe ruts are deep and jar us violently but we laugh through it - the red wagon rocking and us sitting on bales of clean straw as we traverse the Holstein fields deep deep back to the sugar bush.

I want a picture of the kids, of their flushed faces and those smiles and this adventure we're on but Liam ducks away each time I lift the camera.

"Liam, come on! Please?"

"No!" And he giggles and thinks it's a game.

"Please? Just one picture?"


Zander holds onto him while I quickly snap one.

"You don't even know how beautiful you are!" I tell him.

You Don't Know How Beautiful You Are - SelfBinding RetrospectA woman sitting on the opposite side of our shared bale spins around and leans in.  "Oh my," she says.  "You are beautiful! Look at those eyes! That smile! My goodness!"

Liam is embarrassed. His blush sneaks up beneath his toque and he tucks his face against Noa's jacket, laughing.

"Your mother's right, you know," the lady continues. "This is one thing she'll always be right about!"

She turns to me, her eyes sparkling and the pale pale blue of a pure husky.  "It took me forty years before I believed it for myself. Isn't that the saddest thing?" She has two decades on me and smooth freckled skin that may have never seen a stitch of makeup. Her greying hair is wispy and wiry and she is beautiful in the way the world is beautiful - all surprise and no pretense.

"That's terrible," I tell her.

She smiles. "Yes, but now...." She turns back to Liam.  "You listen to your mother on this.  She knows!"

Thursday, April 10, 2014

When April Showers Roar

When April Showers Roar - SelfBinding Retrospect
When it was time to brush their teeth, Liam yelled out from the bathroom, his tone somewhat victorious, "There's no water!"

"What do you mean?" I asked, not really expecting him to have an answer because he was caught in some gleeful revere of 'Ha! That's what you get for nagging me about my teeth!'

It had only been a couple of hours since I'd finished the dishes and the water had been fine then.

After a quick investigation through the house, I found that water still ran in the basement  - though weakly - so the kids were marched down to brush their teeth and Liam spit his short-lived victory into the sink along with his toothpaste.

I called my father once the kids were in bed. That poor man. I wonder if he ever sees my number on his call display and considers not answering because it's sure to mean that I need something from him.  But of course he answered and said 'that makes no sense at all - check the breakers in the barn to see if something is off with the well pump.'

So into my boots and out to the barn I went. 

The breakers were fine.

But it sounded like Niagara Falls beneath me.

I tried the door at the stairs and it was jammed so I had to walk around outside, climb up over the huge pile of snow that had fallen off the roof and into the lower barn.

Water covered the floor.

I splashed my way to a little room in the corner, built to act as a root cellar with bins and shelves for storing things like potatoes and squash through the winter. It's a wonderful place. 

If you remember to put out rodent traps. 

I did not remember.

My squash have been nibbled to pulp!

Upon opening the door to this tiny room I was greeted with a freezing spray of water straight to my face.  Pipes run along the left wall and feed into an old laundry tub where vegetables can be cleaned before storage and the spigot leading to the sink had seen enough of this ridiculous freeze and thaw dance we've had and bit the bullet - went to splitzville - got crackin'.

Water was shooting violently from a very obvious fracture.

cracked tap, flooded barn
{The broken tap and the wet barn floor 24 hours later}
old spigot
I was getting soaked. The barn was flooded.

And all I could think about was a film we watched in grade school - an educational piece about water - and how they represented the entirety of the world's water with a full drinking glass and the amount of fresh water with a teaspoon - and how that totally freaked me out and turned me into a turn-off-the-tap-while-you-brush kind of person.

All this waste, spewing in my face.

Luckily there was a shutoff valve right there and all I had to do was close it off. 

Surely this is our last crisis of winter!

I waded through our new pool and back to the house to find that I had averted the tragedy and water was running in all the places it should be!

I am somewhat of a superhero! 

And as much as I love saving the day I would much rather throw my hands up and say, 'Enough Already!'

On a brighter note, the pussy willows are out, our snow is half gone and I found a darling clay owl at the Dollarama that makes me brilliantly happy.

sunset, pussy willows, clay owl

And speaking of happy...

May is Joy Month here at SelfBinding Retrospect. I am partnering with DaySpring Cards Inc for a lovely little giveaway and hosting a Joy Link party opening on May 1. If you've got a post to share about something that brings you joy, whether it's old or new, be sure to come back on the first and link it up. I'll feature some of my favorites throughout. It's all about spreading a little happiness after this very long, soul-sucking winter.

SelfBinding Retrospect giveaway

P.S. You can jump start your chances on the necklace by liking my facebook page - it will award you 2 free entries into the draw the first time you enter - just click the button below. {You'll have to earn any other entries by sharing little Joy Snippets so start collecting them and you'll be able to enter every day in May!}

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dreaming of Summer Nights {and a great camp deal from Mabel's Labels}

I woke up this morning and it was snowing. 

I can't even begin to tell you how much I wanted to crawl back under my blankets and just hibernate until Spring decides to get over it's schizophrenic bi-polar mood swings.

If snow can do anything {besides breaking my heart and freezing my toes} it turns me to dreams of summer.

I've already printed off camp registration forms for the boys and called the camp to reserve their spots because last year it filled up so quickly.  I've also registered us for a week of Family Camp because I would be a fool not to - one of the perks of my job is permission to attend one of our EMCC camps without it taking up my holidays - how amazing is that?!

Are you feeling the pressure to get your summer plans in order? Soon enough it will be time to sort through the piles of sunscreen, swimsuits and sneakers as you get your kids ready for adventure. Make their lives a little more organized {and yours a little easier} by picking up some Limited Edition Camp Combo Packs from Mabel's Labels . These UV resistant, waterproof labels and tags are designed for kid camp equipment — clothing, toiletries, swim gear, backpacks and more — and ready to take a summer beating. To complete the outfit of adventure, receive 20% off of an insulated water bottle from Eco Vessel with your Limited Edition Camp Combo Pack purchase

Let Mabel's Labels help you to get them sorted, tagged and prepped for a summer they won't soon forget. Plus, save $2 with early bird pricing now through April 30th! 

It would be a great victory to see everything that went with them to camp, come home again. We have yet to win that fight. Maybe this year will be different.

Happy Camping!

FTC Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 


Monday, April 7, 2014

We Took Our Love With Us

When we knocked on the door on Halloween night I still felt an ownership over that deck that I had stripped and cleaned. I saw the clothesline I had strung and the nail I'd driven to hold our welcome sign. I felt my shadow linger against the white siding I had washed with dish soap and my foot heard the familiar creak of the old wood beneath me.

The woman who opened the door was not particularly warm. She stood there beside a 'Zombie Entrance' sign and dumped candy into the kids bags.

"How are you liking the house?" Scott asked.

She shrugged and made a little disgusted noise in her throat.

"We used to live here," he told her.

"Well, I'm just renting it," she said and I could see past her to the pale olive walls that I had worked on into wee morning hours while the children slept and Harry Connick Jr. sang to me.  "It's pretty small," she complained.

We took our love with us

And it was. It was So Small. But I had loved it. I had been proud of it. Even in the first weeks when it was beyond disgusting and I had dumped countless buckets of black water from the carpet cleaner down the grimy shower drain. It had been ours. We had decked it's halls in our love.

And she didn't care.

She didn't care that we had brought babies home to those walls. That we had fought river rats and laughed over episodes of Seinfeld and grown beans in the garden and waved to neighbors from the kitchen window.

She didn't care that this had been home even though we took home with us the moment we closed those doors on that final day.

She didn't care that the main portion of Zander's childhood was spent there by the river where the mud stole his shoe.

She didn't care about us or our memories or that it felt like she was kicking our fondness of this place-now-foul right in the teeth.

No one will ever love that little house like I did. It's no wonder the ghosts came with us when we left.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the woman who purchased our home. She gushed about how happy they had been, tucked up in that place I had made beautiful - how they loved the community and how their children were blossoming and how, the moment she first entered she had known how much love had been there.

But life had dealt them an unexpected hand and they'd had to return to the city and rent the house out to a terrible tenant who is now fighting against them maliciously because of a pipe that burst during the extreme cold of this terrible winter.

My heart goes out to her and her family. Perhaps we took all the good that little house had to offer. What an awful thing - to hear your thing of joy has brought pain to someone else.

All I can do is hope and pray that things work out for the best and that love, in whatever form it chooses, might return to those four walls. That it would breed happiness, not heartache. That whatever echo of our old life remains would inform the future for whoever dwells within.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Insults Will Not Define Me: Surviving Internet Bullies

When my parenting post received international recognition I was thrilled.  Trying to break into a writing world that's already so noisy is not easy and any little crack that lets you whisper through is a huge victory as far as I'm concerned. 

But recognition means more people. 

And not all of them are nice.
Compliments may affirm me but insults will not define me - Alanna Rusnak, SelfBinding Retrospect
Another blogger took it upon herself to publicly ridicule me through a post of her own while taking the message of my original article wildly out of context.  I would never expect that everyone would {or should} agree with me, no matter what I'm talking about. I am open to discussions that point out where I might be wrong, where I should take a step back or a second look. I am happy to engage in such an exchange where all parties are respectful and treated with courtesy.

Instead, I began to receive nasty comments here in my happy blog space.

Comments like:
Ah, shut your sanctimonious blowhole. You spent 2 minutes in line with this family and you spent how many HOURS writing an 'open letter' to him that he will never, ever see? Don't you have something better to do with half your day? Couldn't that time have been better well spent helicopter parenting your children? This is the stupidest, most condescending blog post I've seen in awhile. You apparently just need internet strangers to validate your judgement of others. I feel sorry for you. 

{I feel dirty posting that here but I want to give an honest look at what's been coming at me.}

Those kept coming all day.

And I thought I was okay.

Until I realized that every time my phone beeped it's little 'you've got mail' beep I was feeling an anxious wave of nervous energy shudder through my body.

It's ridiculous to be afraid to read your own mail. Words are only words. They are letters. They are alphabet soup.

I choked on the C the R the U the E and the L.

We all view the world through different coloured lenses and that diversity is what makes the world so unique and exciting. The problem is that I exist happily in this little space carved out for me, surrounding myself with people of similar values and morality and too often I forget that there are people beyond my borders who just don't care about me, my happiness or my opinions.  

I am naive. 

I believe in the general goodness of humanity.

And humanity repays me by making me the target of some hateful judgements.

This is a small demographic I'm referring to. The people I surround myself with did exactly that - they surrounded me and supported me and lifted me back up and dusted off the grime of ugliness with their generous kindness.

I am blessed.

But, if I'm to be completely honest, I'm also mad as hell.

This blog is my space. I am proud of it. I have poured my heart into it and I work hard to do it with integrity. It shouldn't be too much to ask that people play nice.

To have to enable comment moderation because I can no longer trust people to be respectful is infuriating.

To have to put a 'be kind' warning with the comment prompting is infuriating.

To find myself writing this post is infuriating.  {I'd much rather be telling you about Liam and how instead of asking for more coleslaw he asked for 'cold slop'!}

Maybe I'm being a coward by deleting the hurtful things but there's really no reason to condone or perpetuate such behaviour by allowing it a platform. Ultimately, this space is mine and I will decorate it accordingly with thoughtful discussion and the golden rule.

The most important thing this has taught me is that I'm a lot stronger than I thought. That compliments might affirm me but insults will not define me. That I will rise above the ugly and continue on in my search for everyday joy. That I will not take kindness for granted. That as I count my blessings I will quickly see how deeply I can bury the curses.

Did it hurt? Sure.
Am I broken? No way.
Will I let it stop me? Not a chance!