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, July 29, 2011

Where I'm From

I'm getting older.  I'm thinking more about family, roots, and where we came from.  I'm remembering more and looking back at childhood - mostly fondly.  I've always found history engaging (in a let's read some intriguing and possibly romanticized historical fiction or listening to old family stories kind of way.)  I think family history is intriguing - but never sit long enough to ask the right questions or retain the memory of those conversation enough to recount the stories accurately.  I've always been a little introspective, a little retrospective so when I  found an example of this completed poem template while doing some random blogger exploration, it really struck a chord.    (Side note,  see the link at the top that says  "Next Blog >>>"?  Just click it to jump to a new random blog.) 

Where I'm From

I am from a swing hanging in my grandparents yard, from Kraft dinner and fresh jam made from plump strawberries we picked ourselves.

I am from the white farm house with too many rooms, the steep staircase, the big back yard, the greenhouses smelling of damp soil and sweet blooms. The home filled with laughter, tears, sibling spats and happy memories.

I am from the wheat fields, the corn fields, the green fields rich with black muck, the stagnant waters of the canal, the willow trees tempting as they sway in the breeze.

I am from loud Thanksgiving dinners with cousins, aunts, and uncles spilling from each room, from endless rounds of broken telephone, from stubborness and quick tempers, from kindness and unconditional love, from Hofstedes and Weenings and finally, Browns.

I am from prayers before meals, from devotions after dinner, and from the bargain hunters always looking for the next good deal.

From bedtime blessings, "May the Lord bless you and keep you", and from never believing in Santa but always pretending to hear his sleigh.

I am from a family who sees Christianity as a relationship, not a religion. Where faith is a lifestyle. Where your actions should reflect the light of your heart. Where Jesus Christ is redemption, not a swear word.

I'm from "The Marsh", "The Hill", The Netherlands, completely Canadian, entirely Dutch. From oliebollen, stamppot, zandkoekjes bakken, a quick hamburger or chicken and rice.

From the first time Opa gave Oma a kiss, skating on a frozen canal in Holland, from my parents' Friday night wedding in a church hall, my mom in her handmade dress, from the dangers of double-riding your bike without a helmet, cracking heads and lying unconscious waiting for a good samaritan.

I am from puzzles and photos in Oma's closet, from chalk and treasures in Pake's basement, from days spent roaming the woods, from rounds of Uno and Rummikub. I'm from strong, hard-working men and efficient housewives raising endless sons and daughters, from a family that has always been close but now lives apart, seen less often but never loved less. From a heritage rich in faith and fortitude, from welcoming hugs and lessons in patience, this is where I'm from and where I'm from is part of me.
~~  For the blog that inspired this post, visit here 
~~  For your own Where I'm From template and another completed example, visit here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


There's something special about the little black dress (lbd).  Every girl should have one in her closet that she can pull on and just know she looks good.   Not overly sexy.  Not a bit frumpy.  Just a dress that fits her perfect and makes her feel good.  (Some girls might even have more than one.)  It's versatile and perfect for so many occasions....

I have so many little black dresses.  They're wonderful.  Different cuts, different fabrics.  And everytime I pull one on, I feel like I've still got it.   Sure I'm curvier.  And, yes, I'm still short.   My hair hasn't miraculously grown longer or thicker or wavier.  But I feel good.  Throw on some strappy sandals, black pumps or a pair of red heels for a pop of colour.   I feel confident, flirty, feminine.  Some days I even try them on just because I see them hanging there!   Now if only I had more places to wear them - aside from the closet.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Anatomy of A(n Almost) Perfect Weekend

This weekend was one of those weekends that just called for enjoyment instead of productivity.  Here is a breakdown of our not-quite perfect weekend:

1) Make it a long one.   I had Friday off.  Kevin did not so we were all up and ready before 6:45 so we could make use of the car.   I took advantage of having Friday off to do some running around and starting some projects (or mis-starting some projects) and we went out for dinner & ice cream (not on the meal plan -gasp!) after picking up Kevin after work. 

2)  Make it fun!  Okay, so my definition of fun and the boys definition of fun greatly differs.  I was quite happy browsing Michaels and looking at paint in Home Depot.  The boys were not.  After dropping off Kevin, we had an early breakfast at McDonalds complete with playtime.  Then mommy did her running around and we stopped by the Farmers' Market (woohoo fresh Ontario produce!)  We all agree that the Farmers Market is fun but to make up for the errand-running we also stopped by a local splash pad...and then it rained.

3) Make it social.  Saturday we had birthday parties!  We were up early (for a Saturday).  The boys woke up at the crack of stupid (before 6:30 am) and didn't let us sleep much past 7:30.   We didn't rush out of the house but we had enough time to spare to take the backroads, stop for some fresh butter tarts & cookies at a local orchard/golf course, stop in for a visit with Oma and head up to Barrie to celebrate our nephews' (cousins') birthdays.    Fun times had by all!  

Present Time!

Expert Slip-n-Slider

Cousins Wrestling -
An Essential Part of Any Good Visit
After enjoying all the necessary birthday party essentials - cake, presents, water play - as well as enjoying all the cuddles with the princess we could get, we did another (yikes!) meal out with the boys.  Then back to Oma's and hop-skip-across the yard to visit with Pake, Beppe, and many of the extended family for Pake's 78th (?) birthday.

4)  Make it memorable.  After a busy day in the sun (& rain), take the backroads home.  Oh, but first, let's keep the doors to the car open and invite in many, many mosquitoes.  Then let's listen to the boys SOB for 30 minutes about said mosquitoes... and how they will poison them.  Such drama!  If I had a camcorder handy, I would share how delightfully (snort!) amusing that first stretch of the drive home was.   Hehehe... I would save such video if it existed for blackmail purposes when they are older.

5) Make a mistake.    We took advantage of the plan-free Sunday and drove... with no particular destination.  We just headed east.   Then we thought, "Hmmm....maybe we should actually stop somewhere.  Free.  That will be fun for the boys."   So I suggested we visit the Big Apple (where I have been before and thought was not-so-fun but I saw was tauted online as having lots of fun stuff to do - petting zoo, mini-golf, nature trail - none of which were actually in anyway as described.  Boo!)  After a few minutes at said Big Apple, Kaleb remarks, "I thought you said we were going somewhere fun!"  Smart-a$$!

6) Make a detour.  So after the bust of the Big Apple, we headed west again thinking we'd find a lakefront beach or park to stop along the way home.  We detoured first and stopped at a lilac farm & gift shop.  It had such promise, such potential... but it was not as wonderful as we thought it might be.  I found some yummy baby body wash though.  I love lavender.  Repeat above-mentioned smart-alec comments from Kaleb.

7)  Make it to the beach.   Finally, we made it to Victoria Beach in Cobourg.  The weather was perfectly sunny.  The beach was amazingly busy.  The boys had a blast and mommy's misrouting is forgiven.  Sun, sand, Lake Ontario, splash pads, playgrounds, pure summer fun!   Sleepy boys, early bedtime, and a lazy, rainy Monday.

I can pump now, Mommy
Look at me!
Oh, no!  It's "fast" sand.

It's cold.

Amazing daddy, awesome husband!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Once, when I was much, much younger (how long ago 15 seems!), my friends and I were walking home from somewhere and decided to take a shortcut... through a field, over a fence, around a reservoir (or maybe just a pond).  We made it through the field no problem but I got stuck on the fence...and ripped my favourite jeans.  By the time we walked around the water and made it to the street again, it probably would have been much faster to just use the sidewalk.

We also experience these snafus trying to navigate around traffic by taking unfamiliar backroads.  Different experience, same result.  You would think I would learn the lesson but sadly, no, I am forever trying to take shortcuts and then I'm left dealing with the frustration and annoyance of a plan gone awry.   The "proper" way is usually the best way.

I recently had this experience creating my "Family Rules" project (woohoo!  It's done!)

I failed to plan properly and it was one headache after another... and my end result is not nearly as pretty as I had hoped.  If you look closely, my frame is not square...hehe!  And even though spray paint (burnished copper) is my new best friend, we need to work on the fine points of our relationship.  What looked great wet in the sunlight didn't dry quite as nicely (and the little dust motes that landed in the wet paint didnt' help either!)   Ah, well.. project finished and I've made note of how to perfect my process in the future!

All this shortcut business can have it's upside, however!  Like when it saves Mommy time cooking dinner.  I try to look for 2-in-1 meals - prep once and have enough leftover to recreate.  Usually, I only have enough leftover for Kevin's lunch!   Sunday, though, we ate fabulous bruschetta chicken.  I had a package of boneless, skinless thights from Walmart ($5 for 8 thighs).  I brushed them with olive oil, diced some tomatoes, mixed them with a little olive oil, black pepper, basil and garlic and spooned over top of the chicken (I just typed kitchen instead of chicken! Wow - glad I caught that one).  I then sprinkled with some shredded mozzarella and baked - it's moist, it's yummy, it went down with minimum of complaints.  I served it with garlic bread, fresh veggies and a salad.  It was hot Sunday and we wanted something simple.

After dinner, I comandeered the leftovers and staked my claim on them (sorry, Kev!) It made for another quick, easy dinner last night.  I reheated and diced the chicken (with bruschetta topping).  I added it to some pesto-tossed rotini topped with grated parmesan (the real stuff - not the powder!) and easy-peasy dinner was served.  The boys loved it!!!  And I loved it because my shortcut actually resulted in less work for once!   What's your best household shortcut?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Busy Bees

So I'd just like to say that arranging photos in my blog is a big pain in the butt!  Seriously, they're not going where I want and the formatting options of this entire entry just sucks.  Insert sigh of frustration, groan of impatience and a little foot stomping *here*.   Now on to the post...

I thought with the arrival of summer, things would slow down just a wee little bit!  Apparently, that was just wishful think as it seems we've been going full throttle just having fun!   I've been doing really well sticking to our meal plan and avoiding the fall back of PizzaPizza or other fast food options (which we usually ended up doing once a week) and most of the new recipes we've tried have been HUGE hits.   I'll share them... but it will have to keep for another day.  

Today, I'm going to show off some of the projects I've finished lately. Most were done this weekend - Kev took on the task of keeping kids happy and entertained while I stole some alone time locked in the craft room. I have something in the works and need to try my hand at some stuff before I can run full-steam ahead.  Keep your eyes & ears open though - I'm excited for when I can share my news!

Mini Notecard Set
One of the projects I completed were the ribbon wreath inspired by a photo in the Stampin' Up catalogue that sparked the search for a tutorial - such as the one posted by this talented lady.  For some reason her wreath looks prettier.  Maybe because her ribbon is glossier?  I just feel like mine isn't quite right.

I  also worked on some note cards (blank inside) - some mini sets (3" x 3") and a few others (5" x 5").  I love the little monkey notes... but again feel like something is missing.    The little monkey ticket holder was a fun project and will be holding some zoo passes for some special little monkeys celebrating their birthdays this month.   It's a tri-fold card with a pocket in the centre for the passes (tickets, gift cards, etc.  The potential is endless now that I figured out a fun design!)   The front panel says "Monkey See", flip open and the right panel reads "Monkey Do", flip again and the center panel with pocket says "Monkeys Going To The Zoo!" 

TriFold Ticket Holder

Banana Mini Notecard
Swinging By Mini Notecard
Every craft store, magazine or website I've perused recently has been all about Christmas in July - getting a jump on holiday projects so you're not swamped with craft stuff and feeling overwhelmed come December.  Makes sense to me!  Anyhow, I thought it's great excuse to create some fun tile coasters and use a few wooden door hangers I picked up at the dollar store. (Honestly, I was going to use both anyhow... and when I picked a paper stack, I was drawn to the Christmas one.  I wasn't actually thinking "Christmas in July".)  Both projects turned out lovely... but I wanted to test out my coasters to see if they're giftable.  And I don't actually want to be using Christmas coasters in the middle of the summer so today I whipped up another more-generic all-season set.  (I have yet to seal them - so no pictures yet!)   

It's my goal to get a few more projects done here and there - if I can get them done now, it gives me some always-appreciated alone time and means I'm creating some from the heart gifts without the stress I usually encounter because I don't implement timelines so well!  What's on your holiday to-make list?  What's on your holiday handcrafted wishlist?

PS - I'm addicted to Pinterest.  So many great ideas without weeding through a ton of google results.