Words To Live By:

"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you finish the work."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sweet Serenity

I don't often have music on in the house - I'm not exactly certain why, but I lean towards the reason having something to do with the chaos and noise that surrounds this household.   We're loud!    There is usually one afternoon a week that the house falls silent - Kaleb and the daycare kids are at school, I have no errands to run and Justin is quite content to hang out with Mommy.

These are the days I turn on the radio, pick a digital channel on Rogers or actually use my iPod or the iPod feature on my iPhone.   On a very rare occasion, I'll pick up one of the kids music cds or dvds (this depends on my patience level and weighing whether the entertainment value will outweigh the annoyance quotient).

 Today, I went even rarer and popped in one of Justin's PraiseBaby DVDs.   I highly recommend these for any Christian family with a baby or toddler in the house.  Justin is 3 and still cuddles up on the couch and even if he doesn't watch it, Mommy actually finds the combination of classic hymns and contemporary church songs quite soothing - a sweet serene soundtrack to balance my otherwise crazy, chaotic existance.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

9 Months Til Christmas!

We're coming through a busy week and quickly approaching what is going to be a very busy weekend. (why does the week following a holiday seem so exhausting?) We have birthday parties, kid-shuttling, concerts, laundry, housework, etc. My kids woke up fighting before 6 am this morning and are super-cranky (not to mention the other children who have invaded my home and brought their grumpies with them.) I blame it on the weather - the gloomy overcast skies are not bringing out the best in people today - myself included. I'm feeling icky with a sore back/kidneys and am hoping the antibiotics fight this infection as quickly as they can!

On to happier things, Easter is right around the corner. It's hard to believe how fast March seems to have flown by. Someone on Facebook pointed out that we only have 9 months til Christmas! I'm glad it's spring but I much prefer the warmer sunnier days. We have started our seeds (well, the boys did their seeds) in anticipation of adding them to the garden in May. I still have to finish my planning and decide what I want to grow this year and change my strategies as Diesel digs up everything he can right now. I looked in both the front and back gardens the other day and LOVE seeing the new buds on my shrubs and the sprouts peeking through the ground from my bulbs! Mother's Day will also be here before you know it - check out the most recent Vintage Pearl contest: The Vintage Pearl: the key to my heart { a giveaway! }. They've come up with two absolutely adorable skeleton key designs that you can get stamped to reflect who holds the key to your heart. They are beautifully simple and I really love the first key design (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, Kev!)

I have a funny story about a book (ok, maybe it's not funny but it will give you a slightly deeper insight into how much I love books.) The other day I went to help one of the monkeys with something and left a library book sitting on the back of thecouch. By the time I got back into the living room, less than 2 minutes later, Diesel had pulled off the cover and a few of the title pagesand left a couple teeth marks in the text. I was rather disappointed in the dog but upset with myself for not putting the book out of the way. I was even more disappointed that it happened to be a book I'd probably have no desire to read again.

Yesterday at the library, I explained what happened fully intending to 'buy' the book. The librarian looked it up in the system and decided as it was an older book and has rarely been checked out she would wipe it from the system as damaged - she said it was because the sun was shining and things happen! While my greatest reaction was gratitude at not having to buy the book, as she tossed it into the trash I felt like I had betrayed a friend and wanted to argue that no, really, I will pay for the book - just to save it from it's fate in the bin. Sad, isn't it? I refrained and with great appreciation let her do me that favour.

Speaking of the library, while I appreciate being able to reserve in advance, with some of the new releases from authors I enjoy I'm not patient enough to wait my turn to read a copy. I really want to read the new Jodi Picoult novel, House Rules. I'm deep on the waiting list. Just wondering if you've read it, if I should invest or if you own it, can I borrow please?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fabulous Finds

I've never purchased on Etsy but I shop (window shop, that is) all the time.  Someone (my mother, perhaps?) asked what I look for and honestly, more often than not, I go to browse rather than looking for a particular something.    I look not only for things to buy but often to get some creative inspiration.

Here are some of my recent Etsy faves:

Garden Love Handmade Buttons
$8.50 USD
Seller:  Tessa Ann

These adorable buttons would look perfect adorning a spring-themed
scrapbook page or handmade card.






Reversible Fabric Organizer Bin
$18 USD
Seller:  Baffinbags

I would love to get some of these to organize the monkeys' room.  Also available in a variety of other fabrics - they're all just so appealing!



Tri-Fold Colouring Crayon Wallets
$15 USD
Seller:  GetSassed

These are a great idea for dinners out, waiting rooms and long car trips.  Super-cute to tote around as well.  Also available in other kid-friendly patterns.    These might just make it onto my stocking stuffer list!




Vintage Frame Chalkboard
$28 USD
Seller:  ShabbyChalks

Such a simple idea - especially if you have some extra frames lying around.   I would like to invest (or create) my own for my craft room.   




Cotton Dishcloths
$14 USD
Seller:  AnitaMeadeCreations

Just like Oma used to make...except these are knit rather than crocheted.   Still the best kind of dishcloth around!    Use the Etsy search feature and see how many others pop up.

I also love browsing the vintage.  I saw a fabulous dress yesterday and even more fabulous shoes - unfortunately both were too small and too pricey so I didn't bookmark as a favourite.   I can't find the photos today.

There are so many other lovely (and some not-so-lovely) products just waiting to be found.   You (well maybe not "you", but rather "I") could spend hours getting lost in the goodies just waiting to be discovered.  You can search by colour, just purchased, just added, location, keywords, etc.   Etsy is a world just waiting to be explored.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Orange Sauce

Saw this Becel brownie recipe in my MedicAlert newsletter (which I rarely open let alone flip through.)  I thought they sounded delicious and while I haven't tried them yet, I will in the near future - although I will undoubtedly tweak to suit my pantry (i.e. substituting butter for margarine and sticking to one type of flour).



Brownies                                                                      
2 tbsp 30 mL Becel margarine
1/2 cup 125 mL cocoa powder
1 cup 250 mL granulated sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup 175 mL unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp 10 mL vanilla
1/4 cup 50 mL all-purpose flour
1/4 cup 50 mL whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp 2 mL each: baking soda, salt

Sauce

1/4 cup 500 mL Fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup 125 mL orange juice
1/3 cup 75 mL granulated sugar
1 tbsp 15 mL cornstarch
2 tbsp 30 mL cold water

Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Spray an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dust with cocoa, shaking out excess.


2.In a small saucepan, melt margarine on low heat. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa, sugar, egg, applesauce and vanilla, beating until smooth. Gently stir in flours, baking soda and salt until well-combined.

3.Pour into prepared pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Cool completely and cut into 16 squares with a hot wet, knife. Store in the refrigerator.

4.Combine raspberries, orange juice and sugar in saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Dissolve cornstarch in water. Add to pan and cook, stirring 2 minutes.

5.Chill sauce until cold, about 15 minutes. Serve with brownies.

You can find the original recipe and nutrition information on the Becel Love Your Heart website.  They have a few other recipes I'll be trying as well as that appear to be healthy and delicious (Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake, anyone?)

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm On The Hunt For:

One delicious pot roast (oven or crock pot) recipe.  

Once upon a time, I had the most delicious recipe that wasn't so much a recipe but a scribble on a scrap piece of paper culminating my trial-and-error attempts at fine-tuning my pot roast recipe.   All I can remember is that it involved ginger and onions!  

I would toss everything into the crock pot, cook on high for 4 hours and the roast would turn out tender, juicy and oh-so-tasty.  I could even make it from memory.  The last time I made it was Christmas 2008.  Somewhere along the way I lost a few brain cells (the ones that had the recipe filed away for safe-keeping!) and I unfortunately also lost the scrap of paper and for the life of me cannot duplicate the results. This makes me a little cranky when I'm anticipating a wonderful roast and end up with a mediocre replacement. 

I'm picky about roast - it has to be perfect for me to truly enjoy it.  We've had some 'ok' roasts since then...but none have lived up to my yummy perfect concoction.   I'm willing to try something new in an attempt to find a replacement, so pass along your roast-cooking tips, recipes and secret-ingredients!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Live Your Life Well

To start on a happy note, can I just say how much I love Pier1?  I have never, ever bought anything of significance there, I just love to browse that store.  I walk out with so many ideas and a desperate desire to win the lottery.   Today, I bought a lovely reusable tote that I will be using as a gift bag - it's cute!

On a sadder note, this morning was the funeral service for a family friend, Colleen Mills.  Colleen's in-laws are great friends with my grandparents and our families have many connections - business, church, school, community, etc.   Alec & Colleen are my parents neighbours and I babysat for them occasionally when their 3 children were much, much younger. 
 
My heart goes out to Colleen's family and friends.  She was so sweet and a shining example of a woman of faith and kindness.  She suffered a heart arrhythmia on January 18th and despite many prayers and the best efforts of the medical community, passed away on Saturday, March 6th.

Here is a testament to how many people were touched by her and will be saddened by her loss: 
"Roughly 600+ people waited hours to pay their final respects to colleen and the family. During the wait was the opportunity to share stories of there interaction with Colleen and her interaction in their lives." - Thom Mills (Colleen's brother-in-law, in a blog entry dated yesterday at http://www.colleenmills.ca/
That is a mark of life, that while much too short, was indeed well-lived.   The loss of her presence will be felt by many.  We continue to think of the family and offer prayers for comfort and peace in this difficult time.

What can I take from this sad event?  That I might leave behind a legacy of love and laughter when my time has come, that those who have lost might remember me fondly, that it too might be said of me, "She lived her life well."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

6...5...4...3...2...1... Switch!

Crazy going slowly am I.

Okay, here's a humorous comic strip that was sent to me via my mother.    I found it appropriate for my ill frame of my mind today!


I Am Slowly Going Crazy...

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Switch...

Ohmygoodness today has not been a happy day at our house!  I will be the first to admit I'm glad the windows are closed as there has been lots of yellin' going on.    Not one of my prouder moments, but seriously, between the mud, the dog who is chewing us out of house and home, and two mad monkeys who will not stop fighting, throwing, pinching, hitting, yelling "Mommy" every 30 seconds, and to top it off a couple of extra kids this morning who suddenly forgot every rule we have in place, I think I just might snap! 

Oooookay... breathe in, breathe out!  Counting down til after school when we can hit the park and playground.     (Our backyard would be fantastic, but since they developed behind us and we took home a puppy who digs like crazy, I think the muck might swallow them whole!  Would it be bad if I let that happen???  Just kidding - I won't sacrifice them to the mud.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kid-Media from the Veggie Tales Guy

Ok, so if you have young ones running around underfoot and the thought of another half-hour of Dora, Diego or Hannah Montana makes you want to scream, check out this site:

http://www.jellytelly.com/

Jelly Telly is a fun kid-friendly media from Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales.   The site features a free weekly show, some games and you should really check out the "Grown Up" section for interesting facts and background on the Jelly Telly concept.   The clips present educational content and present Bible facts to kids who are exposed to all kinds of media (and I'm NOT saying that media they're exposed to is always bad) - this just provides a Christian alternative.

Apparently, limited clips are also available on YouTube and he's also created some fun DVDs called "What's In The Bible"  featuring "Buck Denver", a character from the Jelly Telly media.    I love this!   You can guarantee that I'll be exposing my monkeys (and probably my nephews) to this wonderful creation.

Ok, so I'm adding a quick edit to say that episodes of "What's In The Bible" and shorts from Jelly Telly can be purchased and downloaded on the What's In The Bible website.   Also, What's In the Bible has a YouTube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/whatsinthebible.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'm Smitten

I saw these mimiTENS mittens in an email from Savvymom and I have to say, they're ingenious!   Someone had their thinking cap on :)

Available in assorted baby (no thumb) and toddler sizes (with thumbs), they stop that whining about snow in the sleeve.    A similar idea to the long 'snowmobile' mitt but with an extra dash of cuteness and no zippers!   I absolutely love them.

Made of water-repellant nylon, lined with Thinsulate and bamboo fleece, and featuring extra-long cotton-lycra cuffs, they're a great idea for your cold weather adventurer. 

I prefer the girl selection to the boy but the designs ARE adorable.  They also carry a line of soft mitts, hats and scarves. The brand is a little pricey (unfortunately) - but if you had a kid who complained all winter long I could see the investment being worth it.  (Or maybe you're just a mom like me who likes to indulge in a little whimsy once in awhile!) 

Check out the full selection of mimiTENS on the website - it also provides a list of retail locations:  http://www.mimitens.com/

If you're feeling whimsical and plan to order, the SavvyMom bonus code is: savvy10 for an additional 10% off until March 19.  They'd make cute little stocking stuffers for that cute little monkey in your life!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Castles In The Sky

I saw this quote earlier today and I loved it:

"There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds." ~ G.K. Chesterton

It's imagination - it has no limits except for those imposed by our own limited minds.   It is not reality, it doesn't have to follow any rules of logic, it just has to be thought to be so - this is the wonder of imagination.

My boys, like most children, have wonderful imaginations and I enjoy just sitting back and unobtrusively observing this imagination at play.   (Today they are elephant keepers.  Justin does the groceries while carrying around "an angry robot" and Kaleb is looking after a baby who apparently keeps pooping on him.)

Earlier, their elephants were hungry so they (the boys) climbed on the arm of the couch, elephants in hand, searching through the leaves of the dwarf umbrella tree plant I keep on the fireplace to see if they could find food.   Apparently there are snakes and lizards living in this jungle of a plant...  I thought I just housed dust bunnies.

A few moments later, I hear the hushed "Don't tell Mommy" followed by a quick furtive glance in my direction.   (Don't they realise Mommy's hearing rapidly improves upon that statement?)  "Uh, don't tell Mommy what, Kaleb?"   "This elephant was hungry but he was tired so he couldn't walk to get food.  I got him some leaves. Sorry".   This is true... there are now tiny crumpled leaves all over my carpet.  I'm glad I haven't vacuumed yet!

Other times, our home has been invaded by pirates (who apparently own green markers and like to draw on walls.)   We're also frequently visited by aliens who have this undeniably strange appetite for stuffed animals.   Diesel, our puppy, is a dangerous tiger, who lies in wait, ready to attack.  (I'm guessing this is due to his brindle 'striped' appearance)  "Shhh...don't wake up the tiger.  He'll eat us!"  

Their most favourite game of make believe is all about molten streams of lava and erupting volcanoes (also known as "ercanoes".)  They're very careful about the hot lava, jumping from couch to chair and building pathways out of books, traveling in special lava-proof boats or donning lava-proof shoes.  This hot lava prevents them from walking to the table at dinner time:  "The hot lava will get me";  putting on their coats and boots:  "I can't walk in the hot lava.";  playing safely at the park:  "Ahhhhhhhhhh....I'm falling in hot lava!"

Oh the wonders of the imagination.  The freedom, the possibilities, the transportation from reality to make-believe.   Let it soar!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What's Your Brew?

I am by no means a connnoisseur of tea or coffee based beverages but I enjoy a well-brewed cup of tea and the occasional mocha or latte.   The debate on loose-leaf vs. bagged means nothing to me - I can hear it but I will still buy an occasional bagged tea if it sounds appealing.  I'm not a purist and will drink my tea black, milk and sugar, sugar, honey & milk, just honey - whatever tickles my fancy.

I've tried a few brands and flavours and am always itching to try something new.  I favour black and white teas to green teas and am trying to develop a taste for fresh-brewed ice teas not loaded with sugar.   My all time favourite tea is Stash White Christmas - a wonderful white tea blended with peppermint and ginger.   I've only tried their bagged variety but have a package of loose leaf just waiting to be sipped.

The hostess section at Chapters is always a delight to explore.  I've noticed the Tea Forte line but haven't tried it yet.   I find it's a visually appealing brand - the packaging just catches the eye.  I'm so very excited because on one of my discount shopping sites, the featured products were the Tea Forte brand - so I've placed an order and can't wait for it to come in!

There is nothing more relaxing or soothing to start, endure or end a stressful, busy day than to wrap your hands around a warm cup of tea, grab a good book and soak in the tub.   When I can't enjoy all three, I'll take the book and the tea - Canada's own Steeped Tea Ginger Peach is my brew of choice today.

Here are a couple sites offering first-hand reviews of a variety of teas and tips on brewing:
Teaviews  &  The Tea Review Blog 

Monday, March 1, 2010

With Glowing Hearts We See Thee Rise

Ohmygoodness... I am so PROUD to be CANADIAN.   I've never been one to follow the Olympics but figured I'd be a bit more patriotic this year and follow along as they were on home turf.   I'm so glad I did!!!  I tuned into a few events and got hooked right in. 

I was awed, astonished and pumping my arms and cheering for our incredible athletes!!!   They did amazing and I can't even pick a favourite moment - the athletes from Canada and abroad are all so incredibly talented and these games were the finest I've ever seen.   Curling, hockey, ice dance, speed skating, bobsled, etc - it was so much fun to tune in this year and it's fun to bask in this golden glow surrounding the nation!

There are so many great clips and highlights on the various media outlets - CTV, the Facebook group, Yahoo sports, etc.   Can you believe we took the gold medal record?  And CONGRATS to the States for their overall medal count - they've got some serious skilled athletes too!

Okay... now for the real reason I decided to post tonight.

I found the PERFECT chairs for my library/Lindsey room that does not (and will not) exist in this house.

These Cuddler Chairs are available through the Costco Canada website for a whopping $1099.99...
but can't you just imagine curling up with a cozy throw, hot tea and great book in one of these?  One of the reviews even suggested story time with the kids - how perfect!