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, June 24, 2011

The Elusive Free Weekend

I calculated to day that on average, I work 50 hours a week (without breaks - getting to the bathroom without hearing a little voice call my name is a wonder!)   I'm not complaining as the decision to provide home daycare has, when everyone is happy and occupied,  left me with flexibility to tackle little things around the house (or catch a chapter or two in my current read, waste time online, solve a crossword on my iPhone) but it means by the time my own kids go to bed (14 hours after rising!), I'm exhausted and my house is trashed!   (I don't know how teachers survive their days... I'm surrounded with maybe a third of the number of kids they are at my busiest time of day and it's enough to pull my hair out - if the baby hasn't already done it for me!)

Which is why I love my all-too-rare girls nights with friends (even if it's just grabbing a smoothie at Dairy Queen), uninterrupted downtime with my Kobo, sleeping in and the elusive 'free weekend'.   I know, I know.  You're thinking: "What?  A free weekend?  They're a myth."  Alas, my friend, they are not a myth.  They do truly exist, they just rarely occur.   Now I'm about to make you jealous:  we have one of these rare and precious weekends in our grasp... and of course I've got a to-do list a mile long which I suppose means it's not such a 'free' weekend as it's just a weekend with no travel or scheduled activities.

Here is what I WANT to do this weekend:
  • Take a trip to Home Depot (I love trips to HD but I'm specifically trying to kick Kev's bum into gear as he said he would finish the fireplace as my anniversary present.  I'm also on the hunt for magnetic/chalkboard paint which I *think* I saw there once upon a time and I'm told is available in a spray can for easy peasy crafting! I'm also on the hunt for coaster-sized tiles - maybe a slightly damaged box so I can get them cheap!)

White Window Wall Frame, Pier1 Imports

  •  Take a trip to Pier1 to pick up a picture frame I fell in love with but intended on making myself.  However, when I was browsing the Pier1 website the other day I noticed it's been marked down and I can now justify buying rather than making it! (Although I just realised I saw the US sale price -way better than the Canadian sale price -boo!)
  • Hit a garden centre or a local nursery/greenhouse to pick out herbs, rhubarb (if it's still available) annuals, succulents, soil and grass seed.  I might make two stops - one being Loblaws or the RCSS because I love the PC gigantico herbs!
  • Plant 2 hanging baskets, 3 urns, a succulent centrepiece similar to this (for indoor or out), and my herb box (basil, lavender, chives...)
  • Create Kaleb's teacher gift for Mrs. Mac.  I showed him some ideas on Pinterest and he selected the monogram crayon art.   We have to buy a frame or shadowbox and some crayons.  Mommy was leaning towards a gerbera in a nice basket with a cute tag (less work!) but fun won hands-down.
  • Weed my perennial bed in the back.
  • Weed & edge my front garden.
  • Create a website to showcase some of my crafty successes.  Hoping to create some custom orders.
  • Make some tile coasters.   Found the idea on Pinterest.   Followed the link to see the tutorial.  Love the idea!
  • Visit the Farmer's Market.  Need fresh produce - specifically strawberries & rhubarb.   Maybe we should do pick-your-own instead.   Hmmmm...
  • Take the boys to see Cars 2.   I love Mater.  Most of the kids movies I'm rather indifferent about but this one I. Must. See.
  • Go yard saling!  (that word doesn't look right!)  I'm searching for paintables & repurposeables (yes, I made that one up).  Frames, furniture, jars, vases, etc.  I'm also looking for girl toys.  Apparently 4 - 6 year old girls get tired of superheroes and Lego.  I'm also peeking around for a mini-trampoline.
In addition to the wants, here is what I MUST do this weekend:
  • Laundry - my ever-present, never-ending nemesis.  I'm good with the washing and drying. I don't believe in folding.
  • Create a meal plan.  This one will include a strawberry supper - because strawberries are in season and strawberries rock.
  • Clean the floors.
  • Clean the bathrooms.
  • Mow the lawn.  (This will most likely be pawned off on Kevin)
  • Reorganize the craft room.  Again.  Because I don't use this room on a daily basis, it seems to be a dropping ground for the-stuff-that-has-no-home.  The doors stay closed to this room regularly.  It scares me.
  • Grocery Shop for above mentioned to-be-created meal plan.
I won't even include the things that I *SHOULD* do.  I figure with such long "want" & "must" lists, I've probably already over-budgeted my time - especially as I haven't included any free time for this free weekend and I know there's more I *have* to do - it's just escaping me now!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Of Men & Monkeys

This time of June I always have a lot of men to think about.   Father's Day was celebrated, as was our anniversary.    This means trying to find heartfelt and meaningful gifts for dads x3 and something to mark our anniversary without spending a fortune, all while hoping they're actually appreciated by the recipient(s).   Why does it seem that this is sooooo much easier to do for women? 

Our week seemed to be crazy busy as usual and days didn't go as planned - neither did my gift projects with the boys so we spent a lot of time Friday night trying to complete some last minute (but not unplanned) crafting.   The boys decorated a t-shirt (lots of messy fabric paint!) for Papa featuring their hand prints.  They took special pride in creating cards for Papa & Daddy using my scrapbook supplies - they love picking out the elements and helping to design the layout and even deciding which adhesive to use.  (FYI, the Xyron sticker-maker is their personal favourite, followed closely by foam dots to make things 'pop-up'.)   We picked up a paper pad (which included matching stickers and elements) by Momenta/ATD called "Family Outings" that seems to be very boy-friendly and they've been selecting it for every recent card making venture.  Momenta also has tons of downloads & ideas if you're feeling 'stuck'.  Anyhow, I bought the pad for a couple specific scrapbook pages I wanted to do but as it seems to be so popular, I might have to pick up another.

I told my mom the other day that in his old age (ahahaha!) my dad is becoming sentinmental so I found inspiration on Etsy and created a subway-art inspired picture frame.  I bought a budget frame from Zellers (less than $10), painted it white and then sanded it to add some distressing.  I begged Kevin to mirror-print the sentiment on white-backed vinyl (he got smart and brought me home off-cuts so I can use my Cricut to cut my own!)  We applied this to the inside of the glass. I then spent way too much time trying to take a good picture of the boys - Justin with his cheesy grin and Kaleb in tears because he apparently doesn't "know how to smile nice anymore".  (*Sigh*  Everything is complicated with my two little monkeys!)  We captured a winner and printed an 8"x10" sepia-toned copy using our photo printer  All assembled, an easy but priceless gift for less than $10! 

Grandpa didn't get a homemade gift or homemade card (Grandma bought him tools and asked us to all contribute) but he still got hugs and kisses.  Sunday we spent the day at their cottage and the boys made plans to spend some time with Grandma by the lake this summer.  The weather was amazing and the boys went fishing & swimming.  I'm glad they're getting bigger and more confident in the water - mommy was all set to go in with them but brr, Sturgeon Lake is chilly and they were comfortable with their life jackets if they didn't go past the dock.

Daddy didn't get a homemade gift either besides Kaleb's school creations.  He was showered in love and cuddles in bed and the boys did pick out little things to show how important he is.

Monday we celebrated our anniversary (with a meal at home - yummy maple-grilled pork chops & granny smith apples, maple balsamic mixed green salad with mandarins & almonds, rosemary french bread - yum!)  It was a day just like every other but I tried to make it a little special.  Kevin said "no gifts!  We just went to California... "  But I can't not do a gift of some sort for someone I love so dearly.  Creativity was a little slow in coming but I tried and this is what he received:

* a handmade card with a beer mug (made with my Cricut) and a 'label' designed using templates from FreeBeerLabels.com
* a verse I wrote for the inside of the card trying to corelate the card to the gift to our anniversary - not my best work but it did the job:

Grab a bottle, raise a glass
We make a winning team
Think back with affection &
Remember all we’ve seen.

We've been to many places.
We've traveled near and far.
My favourite destination
Is anywhere you are.

Your love's intoxicating,
More than the finest brew.
We've made it this far, baby!
So cheers to me & you!

* and the gift itself - a variety of beer from some of the destinations we've visited together (Red Stripe for Jamaica, Muskoka Cream Ale to represent some local holidays, Corona for Mexico.)  I didn't come up with this idea until it was too late to try and source beer from some of the other locales we've been... but hey, it's the thought that counts!  After a busy weekend, 7 years of marriage to me (I'm not an easy person to live with!) and life with two rambunctious boys, a beer after a long day at work is appreciated, I'm sure.

After our crazy weekend (& Monday) of celebrations, I've been giving more thought to doing one of the local Christmas craft fairs and maybe creating a website featuring some of the stuff I've made.  Think it would be worth my while?  And suggestions on what to call my venture so I can keep my personal entity sepearate?   No I don't mean I need a pseudonym... but a 'company' name to throw on business cards.   I'm open to suggestions... and if you have any old wood frames you want to get rid of, please let me know!

Here's a quick anecdote from Kaleb, the monkey with the funny mouth!   We're in the car on the way to the cottage and I don't remember what we were talking about - they were arguing or he was uncomfortable or we had a change in plans.  Regardless, while he's complaining about whatever it is, I threw out our standard "Well, that's life, Kaleb.  Get over it."  To which he replies, "No, that's pain".   Maybe you had to be there, but he had us chuckliing.

It's Just So (P)Interesting!

I'll 'fess right up and admit, I'm addicted.   The first time my mom referred me to Pinterest, I didn't get it.  It was busy and confusing and who has the time for another distraction?  I must have been having a bad day!   My cousin commented (maybe on one of my previous posts?) that I would love Pinterest and should check it out.   So I did!

Well, my days have a bit more routine (until school ends next week and we start all over) and I'm finding a little more time for me while still managing to keep kids safe & entertained.  I also (unfortunately) realised there is a Pinterest iPhone app - which is just so convenient - and now I'm addicted!  In the less than 2 weeks since I've joined, I have 11 boards & 66 pins with more being added daily.

Quick Screenshot of My Pinterest Account

It's such a convenient place to track all the unique and interesting things I find as I journey through cyberspace.  I can keep picture references, links, and more all organized in one quick click and share my finds with others.    This of course means I can also browse other people's unique finds and add them to my boards.   It's like a big virtual bulletin board system - a place to create dreams, find inspiration, share ideas and more!  I love it!!!   If you want, follow me:  www.pinterest.com/lbrown81.     If you're not already a member, you'll need an invitation to join (which you can get right at the site or let me know your contact info and I'll send you an invite.)

It's just so interesting & I can't seem to get enough!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grilled Peach Crisp

I think I found this recipe in one of the grocery store complimentary magazines a few years ago.  It's become a family summer fave! 

Grilled Peach Crisp

4 large ripe peaches
1 tsp pure olive oil
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup caramel pecan frozen yogurt or french vanilla ice cream

Preheat BBQ to medium high and clean grill well. 
Combine oats, butter and brown sugar. 

Halve peaches, remove pit.  Brush fleshy side with oil.  Place cut side down on grill and cook until lightly marked, about 2 minutes. 

Top peaches with oat mixture.   Place back on grill, close lid and cook until peaches are tender and topping is golden, about 8 minutes. Serve with a scoop of frozen yogurt and garnish with a drizzle of chocolate sauce (raspberry chocolate is yum!)

Family Rules

Apparently, "Subway Art" is the big thing in home decor and people are loving vinyl wall appliques.  You would think, lucky for me, I have a hubby who just happens to have a print shop with acess to, gasp!, a large digital printer and vinyl, banners, canvas, etc.  Too bad I have to make a decision and pinpoint exactly what I want.   (Many moons ago, I did get him to print the vinyl wall applique for the boys room... it looks cute!  And he did the canvas monkey prints for me... so I'm not always indecisive and I do manage to create some decor on a budget.)

I stumbled across the "Family Rules" idea at Walmart one night.  I actually took a picture with my handy-dandy iPhone and asked for it for Mother's Day thinking maybe this would inspire above mentioned hubby to print one up at work.  He didn't.   Soooooo I've been thinking that I should design my own.

Design Divas Gallery, Etsy Seller
There are a ton of ideas on Etsy.  Here is one from a seller in BC using vinyl wall appliques.  It's fun. It's big. It would look fantastic on the large empty wall in my kitchen. Unfortunately, part of me thinks it will look 'raw' or 'unfinished'. And then while I was catching up on blogs I failed to read while on vacation, I saw a guest post and picture that I fell in love with! (The guest blogger has her own blog, SassySanctuary - I'm adding her to my reading list.)

Lantern Project featured on CraftGoodies
The actual post was about the lantern (cute) but I think the subway art family rules IN A FRAME is adorable!  I have decided I want a giant whitewashed frame surrounding my family rules.  (Buy new, thrift or make?) I think it will look great on that blue wall!

Should I get him to print it on canvas, poster paper or vinyl stickies that I can apply to a background (or the wall) and frame around it?   And what should our family rules be?  Trying to remember the things we constantly say is harder than it sounds!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Home Sweet Home (or Time Flies When You're Having Fun)

It's hard to believe that I haven't posted anything since Day 1 of our California adventure (gasp!)  Actually, for anyone who really knows me, it's highly unexpected.   Life gets busy...and the blog gets sent to the back burner.   We've almost been home for 2 weeks... we've survived the daily grind, birthday parties, Ribfest and a face-off with strep throat (not fun!  I forget how yucky it is until I get it... my sympathies to those fighting it at present.  I apologize if you got the germs from me!)

And now it's time to really get back into the swing of things...  I'll update the highlights and anecdotes from our trip another day (or you could just check out the pictures on Facebook!)  Funniest quote goes to Kaleb on the shuttle bus to Disney:  "Daddy, I know when the world is going to end."  (He says this in all seriousness like this a normal topic of conversation for a 5 year old.)  Kevin:  "Oh really?  When?"   Kaleb:  "When everybody on earth dies."  And then we went back to prattling non-stop about the excitement of Disney.  Ah, what a strange kid!

Here is my meal plan once I get to the grocery store after payday.   I was flipping through my recipe binder and got excited to try some new things!

  • Stuffed Peppers, Spinach Citrus Salad, French Bread
  • Pork Chops with Grilled Apples, Spinach Citrus Salad & Fries 
  • Lasagna, Caesar Salad
  • Beer Can Chicken, Caesar Salad, Roast Potatoes
  • Ribs, Corn Bread, Corn on the Cob, Green Beans
  • Chicken Fajitas
  • Turkey Sausage, Rice, Brocolli & Carrots
  • Taco Chicken Foil Pack (which is really just thin sliced potatoes, chicken breasts, spices, salsa & cheese grilled in a foil pack.)
and some desserts:
  • Coconut Panna Cotta w/ Tropical Fruit
  • Peach Smoothie Popsicles
  • Rhubarb Berry Tarts 
I'm also going to try some cocktail (and mocktail versions for the kids) summer yummies from the LCBO like the Twisted Strawberry and the Blue Hawaiian.

I'm so excited because I get to start Farmer's Market shopping again... although the market I prefer isn't running when I have a car so we'll have to try two other local ones instead.    Yay for fresh local produce and summer recipes.   Yay for patio season!   Yay for summer!