Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Organized clothes drawer

NP has a humungous drawer under her bed where we keep almost all of her clothing. We keep her undies and PJ's in another area, but everything else makes its way to this drawer. We have always referred to this drawer as the “Big Honkin’ Drawer”. It’s funny to hear NP call out for someone to help her open her big honkin’ drawer as it’s too heavy for her to open by herself! It is the depth of her twin bed and over half the length of it. We are able to keep her off-season clothes in it as well as the in-season ones because of its size. The size can also contribute to it getting a little out of hand at times (or is it all the clothes she has?!).

I had cleaned it out about a month ago and purged the clothes that are too small. I had everything nicely folded and organized and things remained that way for a couple of weeks when suddenly it looked like this.

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I had seen a few pins on Pinterest for folks that “file” their clothes in their dresser drawers. I was hoping that our dilemma might be solved by using the same technique so gave it a try. I spent awhile refolding the clothes and then “filed” them into the drawer. What a terrific idea! You can view all the items that are in the drawer without having to remove more clothing than necessary. I explained to NP that she needs to try to decide what to wear before removing it in hopes that it will stay organized. We don’t have dressers in our house so unfortunately cannot use this anywhere else, but it kind of makes me wish we did!

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Now to figure out how to organize the clothes in a couple of our closet “organizers” (I use this word lightly as they often don’t feel organized) so that they aren’t always pulled onto the floor or pushed back on top of each other. Any suggestions?

~ Wendy ~

Monday, 19 November 2012

Repurposed Sweater

026 I’m beginning to see a common theme in my recent projects – Pinterest. I have to admit that I love going on Pinterest. I have found so many great ideas not only for my projects but for school as well.

While browsing the latest pins, I came across many ideas for repurposing old knit sweaters. I knew I had some in my closet, but once I started pulling them out I was quite surprised with how many there are. I honestly don’t think I’ve bought any of them for myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given them as gifts or had them handed down to me by my sister-in-law or my cousin. I am pretty spoiled when it comes to handy-me-down clothes and I’m not ashamed to say it. In the past couple of years I’ve found that I’m usually too warm in these sweaters. I think it was a little different when I was on the west coast as you always have that dampness with you, but here on the Prairies the dry cold doesn’t seem to stay with me the same. I decided that I could make much better use of these sweaters in different ways than wearing them.

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I picked out this cute sweater / vest that was a little too small for me and I wasn’t sure if I would be comfy with the neckline / collar. I grabbed one of our throw pillows and stuffed it into the sweater and it looked cute. I grabbed my scissors and got busy cutting off the sleeves and collar.  003008

The width on the body of the sweater was perfect for the new pillow so I didn’t have to do any sewing along those edges, but I did have to stitch the arm holes and top edge. When I put the pillow into the new cover I could see the blue from it coming through. I opened up that blue cover and realized it was just the filling inside so I pulled it all out and stuffed it into the new pillow cover.

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I turned one end of the bottom cuff over the other and hand-basted it together. I then added two buttons that I came across in my grandma’s old sewing basket.

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I’m really happy with the way it looks and I can’t wait to get cutting up some more sweaters!

I also made a toque with the collar which I will show you in a future post.

Have you repurposed any sweaters?

~ Wendy ~

Friday, 16 November 2012

Barbie Silhouette Craft

067We have done many crafts through the years at the girls’ birthday parties. CP decided that she would like to do one again this year so I came up with a fun and easy project for the girls. Since we had a Barbie themed party and the cake featured Barbie’s silhouette I thought the girls might like to have their own silhouette as well.

I took a side profile photo of each of the girls and downloaded it to the computer. While everyone was busy playing outside, I sized the photos and printed them in black and white on regular copy paper.

I used some contact paper that we have on hand and cut 8.5 x 11 pieces from it. I then cut a smaller rectangle out of the centre of each of the pieces allowing for about an inch of paper to be left around the exterior that would act as our frame.

When the girls were ready, they sat at the table and started to put together their crafts. Each girl chose a colour of cardstock to act as their base. They then removed the back of the contact paper border and placed it sticky side down on the cardstock. This was a little tricky. Some we tried to lay the cardstock over the contact paper while for others we had two of us hold each end of the contact paper by its corners and gently lay it on the cardstock. Some seemed to work better than others, but the girls seemed happy with the results.

I then gave the girls their printed profile photo and we attached it to a black piece of construction paper using a small amount of scotch tape. The girls then cut out their profiles and were left with their silhouettes.

They each glued their silhouettes to the cardstock and had their framed picture. Two of the guests decided to add their side profile photo to their cardstock as well and one put theirs on the back. I love seeing what kids’ imaginations have them do.

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I think they all were happy to have them and  I thought they were a cute and easy craft to complete.

Have a terrific weekend!

~ Wendy ~

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Barbie Birthday Cakes

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Last Wednesday was CP’s 8th birthday and this year she had requested a Barbie birthday cake. In the past few years I have made cupcakes for the girls’ “friends” party and had originally planned on doing the same this year. A day or two before her party, CP asked if we could have the rainbow cupcakes like NP had for her last party. I’m glad she thought of it because they look so great and are easy to make. I did decide though that I would make a Bundt cake instead of the cupcakes. I picked up a Betty Crocker Super Moist French Vanilla cake mix, prepared it as directed and then divided it into 7 bowls. I added food colouring gel representing the colours of the rainbow into each of the bowls and mixed them thoroughly. I then poured the batter into the greased Bundt cake pan in order of the rainbow colours. I popped it into the oven for the required amount of time and once it was done and cooled, turned the pan upside down on a plate and the cake came right out.

I iced the cake using the Dreamy Frosty and NP sprinkled purple (CP’s favourite colour) sprinkles on top. We placed it in the fridge overnight as that type of icing requires refrigeration. Unfortunately when I looked at it the next morning, the icing had cracked and the sprinkles had “settled in”. I need to make a note on that icing recipe to ice the day of the occasion to avoid this type of disappointment.

I had a piece of sparkly purple cardstock that I had also used for the party invitations to use for a cake topper. I traced a circle on the back using a small plate and cut it out. I printed a Barbie silhouette on copy paper and placed it over black construction paper. I cut the silhouette out with both papers together and had my Barbie image. After gluing the silhouette onto the cardstock, I covered the back with contact paper. This way any icing that got on it could be easily wiped off and then used as a decoration. I placed the completed topper on top of the cake.

As mentioned, I had originally planned on baking cupcakes so CP had spotted some cute cupcake liners which we picked up to use. We were both disappointed when we realized that we weren’t going to be able to use them as planned. I decided we could still use them by flattening them out and cutting them in half. I placed them around the plate and tucked them just under the cake. I think it really finished the look off.

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The cake was delicious and it’s always a fun surprise to cut into the cake and see a rainbow!

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We always have a friend party and a separate family party. Unfortunately we received about a foot of snow this past weekend which resulted in slippery road conditions and warnings that travel was not advised so some of our family weren’t able to come from the city. Both sets of grandparents and great-grandma were able to attend.

We decided to do a Barbie Mariposa style cake for the family party. I searched online for a colouring page of Barbie Mariposa wings and finally found one that would work. I printed it on copy paper and then cut it out. I had made the chocolate cake that I use for all the girls’ cakes. It’s delicious and dense. I made Michelle's Super Icing and iced the cake with it. I then coloured the remainder of the icing with purple food colouring gel.

I positioned the wing printout on the cake. I had some Wilton black icing on hand so put a tip on the tube and outlined the wing. I flipped the printout over and outlined the other wing. After I removed the printout, I spread purple icing inside the wing outline and then sprinkled purple sprinkles over it. I proceeded to detail the wings with the black icing.

We had a Barbie ready to lie in between the wings. I took some saran wrap to place underneath her and then placed the wrap and Barbie in place.

I sprinkled some pink sprinkles on the white area of the cake and then was done.

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CP was happy with both of her cakes which is what I always aim for!

~ Wendy ~

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day – a time for reflection and giving thanks to those men and women who have fought (or continue to fight) to keep our country free and at peace.

I have always stopped to pay my respects on this important day and now am passing that onto my daughters. I have found it difficult to explain the importance of this day in terms that make sense to them. It seems that this year CP has finally “got it”. I showed the girls photos of relatives that served in the military and explained that they served in World War II and that my grandpa’s brother was killed in Normandy when he was 24 years old. It was like a light suddenly went off for CP and she stated how sad that was. I told her that this is why when I watch Remembrance Day ceremonies or am at them that I get teary-eyed. I find it heartbreaking to think what the parents and family of the soldiers killed in duty must have gone through.

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Ralph Ernest Spencer
December 10, 1920 - June 6, 1944
Royal Winnipeg Rifles
Ralph was killed June 6, 1944 on the beaches of Normandy.
He is buried in the Beny-Sur-Mer Canadian War cemetery in France.

Earlier this year I went to see Eva Olsson, a Holocaust survivor, speak. This is truly an amazing woman and I am so glad to have heard her speak. I honestly believe that everyone should listen to her. I have read many books about survivors of the Holocaust and women who live in the Middle East and it just makes me extremely grateful to live in Canada and to be who I am.

We remember peace. Simple. Never forget that so many people fought for our freedom and for the freedom of individuals in other countries. Do not let millions of deaths be for not. We must let our children know that we are fortunate and to be thankful for what they have. Remembrance Day ceremonies need to continue and to be taken seriously in schools and in the retail sector. This day is not a “holiday” to hit the shopping centre. Take time to give thanks.

Our local library set up a wonderful Remembrance Day display with photos and write-ups on local folks who have served in the military. I think it was a great idea to include photos so that children and adults alike can put a face to the name and remember that these were actual people with families and friends.

I found a piece of artwork for Remembrance Day that we used for school. The girls did one each and then NP made one for the library to add to their display.

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CP painted a picture of the world and surrounded it with painted poppies. A simple statement “Thank You” written on it. We hung it on the gate at our local cenotaph. We didn’t participate in a traditional ceremony this year, but chose to go to the cenotaph and will watch the Remembrance Day ceremony from Ottawa and have our moment of silence.

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“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

~ Wendy ~

Friday, 9 November 2012

Apple Nachos

I have found a new favourite snack – apple nachos. I came across these on the internet one day and have since seen them mentioned in a magazine and on other sites. They are super yummy and good for you (depending on your toppings, of course!).

I start by peeling a few apples (usually 3 or 4 for our family), coring them and cutting into thin slices. If like the peel, you can leave it on. Arrange slices on a plate. We love gala apples, but you can use whichever kind you enjoy.

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I have been topping with peanut butter, non-sweetened coconut, pecan pieces and caramel sauce. You can add whatever you fancy.

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We use all-natural peanut butter which is essentially crushed peanuts – no sweeteners added. It must be refrigerated after opened therefore it isn’t easy to drizzle. I take a couple tablespoons full and pop it into the microwave to soften. I then drizzle over apple slices. (I know the peanut butter doesn’t look very well drizzled in this photo – not everything always goes as planned!)

Drizzle a small amount of caramel sauce over slices and sprinkle non-sweetened coconut and pecans over top.

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Enjoy! Supper yummy!

Have you tried apple nachos before? What are your favourite toppings?

~ Wendy ~

ps. I have no plans of becoming a food blogger, but just like to share some goodies every now and then.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Happy Birthday to my Wonderful Daughter!

006 Happy Birthday to my amazing daughter, CP, who is 8 today! I cannot believe that she is already 8…time just flies by so quickly! CP is truly an amazing girl and I am so grateful to have her in my life and the opportunity to spend my days with my two fantastic daughters. They will never really know how much they mean to me, but I try to show them in little ways every day.

I have included the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s song The Best Day. The first time I heard this song and listened to the lyrics I started to cry and have cried many times listening to it since. (I’m actually getting choked up right now just thinking about it!). It’s a reminder to me that life is precious and that our children are only little for a very short time.  This is another reason why I feel so blessed to be spending my days with CP & NP and teaching them so many wonderful and important things and spending time with them during these little years when they see the wonder in the world around them.

I want so many things for my children, but most of all – health, happiness and safety. Let’s continue to enjoy all the small things that life brings us and remember to enjoy every moment.

I love you CP!

~ Mom ~

The Best Day lyrics
Songwriters: Swift, Taylor Alison;

I'm five years old, it's getting cold, I've got my big coat on
I hear your laugh and look up smiling at you, I run and run
Past the pumpkin patch and the tractor rides, look now, the sky is gold
I hug your legs and fall asleep on the way home

I don't know why all the trees change in the fall
But I know you're not scared of anything at all
Don't know if Snow White's house is near or far away
But I know I had the best day with you today

I'm thirteen now and don't know how my friends could be so mean
I come home crying and you hold me tight and grab the keys
And we drive and drive until we found a town far enough away
And we talk and window shop 'til I've forgotten all their names

I don't know who I'm gonna talk to now at school
But I know I'm laughing on the car ride home with you
Don't know how long it's gonna take to feel okay
But I know I had the best day with you today

I have an excellent father, his strength is making me stronger
God smiles on my little brother, inside and out, he's better than I am
I grew up in a pretty house and I had space to run
And I had the best days with you

There is a video I found from back when I was three
You set up a paint set in the kitchen and you're talking to me
It's the age of princesses and pirate ships and the seven dwarfs
And Daddy's smart and you're the prettiest lady in the whole wide world

And now I know why the all the trees change in the fall
I know you were on my side even when I was wrong
And I love you for giving me your eyes
For staying back and watching me shine
And I didn't know if you knew, so I'm takin' this chance to say
That I had the best day with you today

 

 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Trick or Treat Sign

012 I know that I’m a bit late with this project, but I wanted to share it anyways. As I may have mentioned before our girls are quite quiet and keep to themselves in situations where they are not completely comfortable or in places that they don’t feel at home. At times and in places where they feel anonymous such as the grocery store they are more themselves although if spoken to directly they aren’t comfortable speaking.

Of course we are completely used to this and respect the way our children feel and certainly don’t want to make them feel bad about themselves. Others on the other hand seem to have difficulty understanding quiet children and either try to push the kids into talking to them or pressure us regarding it. This is extremely frustrating and trust me it has the opposite effect than what is trying to be achieved.

Quiet children are GREAT, WONDERFUL, FUNNY, LOVING, WARM, FANTASTIC, BRIGHT, CAPABLE (and thousands of other things)! Please respect and accept children (and adults) for who they are. It is not a personal attack if children do not feel comfortable speaking to someone. I also have to point out that now that we are homeschooling, our girls are FREE to be themselves. They feel comfortable asking and answering questions, speaking their minds and having fun out loud in a non-threatening, non-judgemental place. We are not keeping them locked in the basement with no social access. They are involved in children’s Zumba, swimming lessons and 4H. CP and NP are so much fun to be around and those of us who are lucky enough to see their natural sides are truly blessed.

There are situations where we want to give our girls a way to show appreciation to others and say thank you without having to speak. We came up with the idea of giving folks a “thumbs-up” and I explain to the recipient that this means thank you. The past years at Halloween, DP or myself have always said Trick or Treat and Thank-you while the girls gave a thumbs-up. I came up with the idea this year to make a sign that the girls can show the generous folks doling out candy. Of course this idea came to me on Halloween day which was a crazy busy day. Just before we were heading out, I whipped up this sign.

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I typed Trick or Treat and Thank You on the computer and printed it on orange construction paper. I cut out a sign using some Halloween scrapbooking paper I had on hand and then cut the orange paper in the same shape, just a little smaller in size. CP glued Trick or Treat to one side of the Halloween paper and Thank You on the other side. We have a bunch of clothes pins on hand so we clipped one to the bottom of each sign to use as a handle.

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These signs worked out so great! We went to less than a dozen houses and at each the girls were happy to show their signs and they seemed to be appreciated by all!

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In my opinion these signs would work well for so many children on Halloween and I hope that others will be able to use this idea!

Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world cannot poke enough holes to drain it dry.

- Alvin Price -

~ Wendy ~

Friday, 2 November 2012

Rustic Kitchen Table

024 I am so excited to share my new kitchen table with you! Back in the early summer I came across this gorgeous table that was created by Shanty-2-Chic in conjunction with Ana White. If you haven’t had a chance to experience either of these sites, now is the time. They are amazing women and have such fabulous ideas, of which I would like to make many!

When my brother and sis-in-law were visiting from Alberta I showed them the photo of the Shanty table. They immediately liked it as well. LS and I were up searching for goodies in my grandma’s barn when he noticed some planks that had been used for a chute in the barn. He showed them to me and we both figured they would make a great table top. A week or two after they left we had an influx of visitors at my folks including my uncle who is a carpenter by trade. I asked him if he would be able to give me his opinion on whether I, a complete novice, would be able to make this table based on the plans from Ana White and if the wood LS & I had found would be suitable. He took a look at both and said yes to both. He was going to be visiting for about a week and kindly offered to help me if I was interested. Of course I jumped at this chance!

A day or two later he had the boards removed from the barn, the wood for the base purchased, cut and put together! I offered my services, but he just told me to go and visit and not worry. My uncle and dad took the planks to a local Hutterite Colony and had the boards planed and then my uncle attached them to the base. I was so surprised when I showed up and the whole table was assembled! I felt bad because I didn’t help with any of it and I certainly didn’t want to take advantage of my uncle’s kindness. He assured me that this wasn’t the case and I thanked him with many hugs!

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There are a few reasons why this table means a lot to me. Besides the fact that my uncle made it for me, the planks come from spruce trees from my grandparents’ farm. My grandpa and uncle (a different uncle!) cut down the spruce trees, ripped the planks and put them up in the barn. I am quite a nostalgic person and it makes me happy knowing I have a piece of my grandparents’ farm in my home.

I was a little concerned that with a plank-style table top we would run into problems with crumbs getting stuck in the grooves. It was suggested that we purchase a glass table top. My uncle and dad headed back to the Colony and ordered one.

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My cousins delivered the table to my house and it sat in the garage for the next couple of months waiting to be finished. I was so busy trying to get our school room completed and get school on the go that I couldn’t take the time to complete it. I knew the right time had come a couple of weeks ago. I purchased Minwax stain conditioner, Minwax dark walnut stain and Minwax polyurethane from Home Hardware where they were super friendly and gave me very detailed instructions and listened to all of my questions. I was super nervous that I might make a mess of the job considering I had no staining experience whatsoever. I chose a dark stain because our kitchen flooring and cabinets are a lighter maple colour and I wanted to add some contrast.

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I have to admit the staining job ended up going better than planned and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. It took a little over a week to complete it and I ended up having to use a portable heater in the garage as the temperatures had cooled off.

DP and I picked up the glass last Friday. We brought the table into the kitchen as soon as we got home and set the glass on top. It looks great! I love the rustic feel of it – right down to the holes in the planks from the bolts that held it in place in the barn and the rough edges on the table top. 

Unfortunately, I cannot seem to get a fantastic photo of it as there is constant glare / reflection on the glass. Any suggestions on how to take a better photo would be appreciated! I don’t use flash and tried having the room dark and lit.

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I now have to decide how to finish the mix of wooden chairs I have to go with the table. Any ideas on that would be great as well! I’m definitely going for an eclectic feel with the chairs all being different designs. It’s more the colour that I’m needing help with.

Sorry I don’t have any detailed photos or instructions on the assembly. Please take a look at Shanty-2-Chic and Ana White’s websites for details.

Have a great weekend!

~ Wendy ~

ps. Happy Birthday LS!!