Sunday, May 29, 2016

May Got Crazy

The boy on two wheels! On a bike path!!
With something every weekend, it felt like we ran through May.  I had a two day sale (which stunk) to start the month off, then we went to Winnipeg for a visit.  My aunt was visiting from England, so we wanted to make the trip when she was there; I saw her last when 4 year old M and I took a trip to see them a dozen years ago.  N and his cousin Z have a grand time together - a highlight was going to the Lego Store in Polo Park then getting some 'Superkid' popcorn.  We played Pounce, as we do, and M WON.  I came in second - IN THE NEGATIVES.  Way to go, kiddo.  I hope they gave you the champion shirt.

Last weekend we went camping for 'May Long' as it's called here in Saskatchewan.  We have friends that we traditionally go with, even though we suffer through the cold almost every time... suckers for punishment I guess.  Or camping enthusiasts?  Maybe I'm the only one bothered by the chill...  Anyway, with this year's early summery spring weather, it was a great weekend.  We had lots of hikes (and geocaching!) in the warm sun, and two thunderstorms to watch.  Awesome.  Nolan even went for a swim. (He is four.  It wasn't THAT warm.)

Bedtime Marshmallows

And then this weekend I had two sales - Saturday was my favourite, the Street Fair of the Cathedral Village Arts Festival.  Crazy busy and decent selling.  Today was another show I took on since I was going to have it all packed up anyway, but it was another dud.  Lesson learned - Don't do tradeshows in the spring!  They are not the right fit for me.  I am, however, very much looking forward to being in Bazzart on June 18.
Chinese food tailgate picnic in the park.

Now, that's a month of full weekends, but honestly, our weeks are pretty empty, so it's not as if life is busy... But now we've got something to fill our weekdays, too, for the next couple of weeks.  N's preschool teacher left in March to have a baby, and their usual sub, a lovely lady who used to teach there, came to fill it.  One morning they needed a sub for the other teacher, and since their sub was already teaching, I got a call from the director.  Who didn't even know that I used to teach there.  Meant to be??  And then... Sub-teacher had holidays booked, and Baby-teacher decided not to come back right away after all, so yours truly gets to be teacher for the last two weeks of school.  Fun!

N and I went to all three classes together (one is his class) on Thursday and Friday last week to meet the kids, and tomorrow we start on our own.  I say we because N thinks we are teaching.  He went from not wanting to go to school anymore (I think he's just done with routine) to today telling me that his new favourite day of the week is 'school-days'.  I just finished my lesson plan - we're working on the food groups right now - and am actually kind of looking forward to having fun there.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lazy Perogy Casserole

Today I want to share a family favourite recipe.  We had friends over tonight and our Lazy Perogy Casserole was a hit with them too, so I thought I'd share for anyone wanting to try something new.

Lazy Perogy Casserole Recipe

This is our version of the one in Company's Coming Casseroles - I just cut the butter and added bacon.  Actually, in our cookbook, it says "Try with bacon" which is then crossed out and now reads "Don't make without bacon!"


Thursday, April 21, 2016

What to Read Next?

The last three books I read all got a 5 Star rating, so if you are looking for something to entertain and keep you flipping pages, these should do well.

Five Stars
The Heist by Daniel Silva - My Mom said she recently discovered this author and was enjoying him, so I thought I would try one out.  This one was the more recent ones, but I think I'll start back at #1 and read them all...  Israeli spy, Art theft, Syrian conflict...  Lots going on and I had a bit of trouble remembering how we got from point A to point M, but it was good.

The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda - This was our latest book club read.  We had read her novel Secret Daughter and came back for more.  A rare time that we ALL finished the book, and we all agreed it was enjoyable.  We have different tastes in literature, but this one had something for everyone.  Set in India in current time and also in the States as the main character leaves home for Med School.  Interesting medical side and well as the glimpse at life for doctors-in-training, and the balance between family expectations at home and personal desires gave a good tension.

The Art of Racing in the Rain By Garth Stein - Narrated by the dog, and me not being a dog person, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was beautifully and often comically written story of a family's low time and how they got through it.

Riel by Maggie Siggins - A non-fiction thorough (long) account of the life of Louis Riel.  I felt like I should probably know this history, and I'm glad I read it.  Having roots in Winnipeg, I found the geography and the names very interesting, and my favourite part was the glimpse into the life of my great-great grandfather, who was part of the story.  History all Canadians should know about the beginnings of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and about the peoples who lived there.

Four Stars
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng - I didn't find this that enjoyable, but it kept me turning pages to see what happened, and then I couldn't get it out of my mind for all the ways I wished the characters had behaved differently.  An inter-cultural marriage, different expectations of communication, and a sad tragedy.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - This classic is on loads of 'Must Read' lists, so it finally can get checked off.  Futuristic, fireman, book burning... pretty good social commentary.

A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay - Wasn't sure how to rate this.  Not a bad story, the characters are mostly likable, but why do so many books have to throw in the homosexuality twist? 

Three Stars
Three Dollars by Elliot Perlman - I read one by this author a long time ago and did a search recently to see if he had any others.  He did, but I did not enjoy it nearly as much as the other. Just an odd flow to it.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed - I loved the idea of doing an epic hike, but found not much else to draw me in.  I'm glad she ended her quest at peace with her past, but it was mainly just sad.  I wish she had found Jesus.

So many books, so little time to read... Hope you find some extra minutes between the pages!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

12+ Uses for Wheat Bags

Some people love wheat bags and can't live without them; some have no idea what they are.  Here are 12+ uses for a wheat bag:

1.  My most common use of a bag is to keep me warm when I'm cold around the house and just sitting in one place.  I'll tuck it around my shoulders or on my feet or on my lower back, and I'm not tempted to crank the thermostat.

2.  Even when you are moving around, it will stay on your shoulders or on your lower back if your shirt is tucked in around it.

3.  Toss one into bed to warm up the covers before you get in.

4.  Cuddle up with one or more when you go to bed.

5.  Tuck your child in with one as a cuddle buddy.

6.  To soothe sore muscles.  Wheat bags can drape over any place that needs heat.

7.  Take one in the car when you have that short school run that's not long enough for the car to fully warm up.  Put it over your lap and you're set.

8.  A pair of handwarmers will keep your hands warm while walking the dog or waiting for the bus.

9.  Tummy troubles can be soothed by a warm bag on your stomach.

10.  Keep one in the freezer for the injuries that need an ice pack.

11.  Keep any size in the freezer to cool off - the back of neck works great - during summer heat or hot flashes.

12.  Cold packs bring some relief for migraines when placed across the eyes or forehead.

13.  Keep a stash in the house for gifts for teachers, bus drivers, piano teachers, coaches...

Did you find any new uses for your bags in this list?  Are there any other uses I've missed?

I make four different sizes, and can make custom sizes if none of my regular ones fit your needs.  Check out my wheat bags at Alice&Victor!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Exciting Upcoming Sale Schedule!

I've been waiting to hear (by the end of the month - nothing like last minute!) about a bigger sale I had applied to.  It's a juried sale, which means they pick & choose, verses you pay & your table is reserved.  I heard this afternoon, and I am going to be in Bazzart!  It's the annual sale put on by the Mackenzie Art Gallery, and it is full of great artisans and their wonderful creations.  I'm pretty stoked to be a part of it.

Just a few years ago, we were walking down 13th at the Cathedral Village Arts Festival, and I thought to myself that this was a sale I wanted to be a part of.  Last year I was in it and loved it, and this year I'll be back, AND in Bazzart... what will next year bring??

Here's what I have coming up this year so far:

Sat May 7, 11-4 & Sun May 8, 11-4  Spring into Summer

Saturday, May 28, 10-5  Cathedral Village Arts Festival

Saturday, June 18, 10-5  Bazzart

Saturday, November 26  Holiday Bazzart

You can shop online anytime at Alice&Victor on Etsy!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Planner // Journal // Brain on Paper

I am a paper and pen girl. Love pens. And fresh notebooks? I may have a small collection. So when it comes to keeping my life organized and all the info I need on a regular basis in one place, of course I do it on paper rather than in some app.  I've had this system going for about two and a half years now, and have always meant to share it with you - not because it's so revolutionary, but because I love seeing how other people do planners and thought you might, too.  And I'm finally sharing now... because I might be switching it up.

This is my planner.  My home binder.  The sections I have are:
  • To Do - this is a sheet of paper I re-do each week, and add to as things come up. Usually gets pretty messy by the end of the week, but that's ok.
  • Blog - notes on things I mean to write about, a blog calendar I used for about two months...
  • Scrapbook - mostly just a chart of months and each camera's file that I have to check for photos.
  • Shop - plans for Alice & Victor.
  • Workouts - see the photo below.  I am not that consistent at working out, but seeing the frequency is a helpful motivator to get out there and move.
  • Goals - If you write them down, you are more likely to achieve them.  It helps to actually look at them, too.
  • Inspiration - Just one verse I made into a printable in here.  Could get rid of this section.
  • Christmas - I keep a running list of gift ideas in my phone and brainstorm in here when the holidays come, and keep a list of what I've got for whom, so I don't forget.
  • Passwords - I have a password keeper on my phone now, which seems safer.  I just have to transfer the rest over and can get rid of this section, too.
  • Books - I keep my main list on my phone, so it's handy to add to and to have when I'm at the library, but this is handy for lists of books by specific authors that I'm working through, and a printout of the challenge I'm doing.
  • Cousins - I've got 17 nieces and nephews; this holds just a list by age with birth dates to help me stay on top of who's how old now.

But now... have you heard of bullet journals?  It's a notebook style system of planner that you adapt to how you want to use it - daily, weekly, or a combination of those.  The beauty is that you add pages for tracking your habits or future planning or goals for your shop, and then put the page number of that list in the index on the front page.

After trying the daily 'jot things down as you think of them' method, I decided that I would stick to a weekly page like I was using in my binder planner.  With moving things to the weekly to do list and crossing them off as I was done, things got pretty messy at first, and I wasn't too interested in a book full of scribbled out pages.  But with the weekly page, I decided to make an effort to actually keep it tidy and use checkboxes instead of crossing things out, and I like it a lot.  I use sticky notes for stuff I need to get done that day, like dishes or laundry; stuff that would get done multiple times per week, just so I have a visual of my priorities, but before I would star or circle things, leading to a mess... which is fine when you just toss your page at the end of the week.

One of the first weeks.  Not liking so much!
My weekly page.
Now with my weekly page I draw a little calendar up top so I can see appointments at a glance, and then do a to do list down the left side.  On the right side, working up from the bottom, are my shop items for the week.  I do it this way to leave room for the sticky note if I'm using it.

I do have a colour code that I use, but it mostly turns up in my habit tracker so far.  I like colour too much to keep it all in black!  :)  My usual rule of thumb is to grab a different colour pen every time I do something new.

The other pages I use are a future log, with a square to jot down things that will come up in other months, a master shop to do list for Alice&Victor, and blog post ideas and goals for my blog (4x a month!)  Here are a couple examples of other pages in my book.  This one is shop goals - I broke down how many items per month I need to make if I am going to sell as much as I did last year plus 25%.  I really hope to spread it out instead of starting a sewing marathon in September that lasts to December.  This is helping me keep track - very motivating to see the numbers.  So far March is only half as productive as I'd like.  I guess I need a sewing blitz in the next 5 days!

And this is my habit tracker, an idea I found checking out bullet journals on Instagram.  It, too, is quite motivating.  And this book, a skinny little 8.5 x 5" thing follows me around the house way more than the binder planner, so I update it daily.  And I drink that extra glass of water so I can check off that box. I am looking forward to starting a new tracker for April and tweaking it a bit.

So that's my latest obsession.  I still will keep the binder planner in the office to hold the other things, so I don't need to transfer them every time I change notebooks, but I am looking forward to this new system and how it helps me keep an eye on my goals while satisfying my paper and pen obsession.

I'm curious: What kind of planner (brain on paper) do you use??

Monday, March 21, 2016

A New-To-Me Bible Study Method

S and I recently went through the 101 course at our church, which was held conveniently while N was at Awana.  It was a 'this is what our church believes' course, and most of the things we covered were basic gospel truths, with a touch of denominational distinctives.  While none of it was really new to us, we both enjoyed being in the class; S enjoyed the small group feel and getting to know people, and I really enjoyed the time to slowly go through the gospel.  It never gets old.

One thing I did learn is the SOAP method of studying Scripture.  SOAP stands for
  • Scripture
  • Observation
  • Application
  • Prayer
I am a fast reader, and I love my Bible, so I have found it relatively easy to read through the whole Bible.  Sometimes in order, sometimes jumping all over, but then when I finish, I go back and start all over.  So my reading, while important to me, has had the quality of reading as much as I can.  I start at the chapter that's first on the page, then I read to the chapter that starts on the next page.  Then I can just throw a bookmark in and know where to start again.  With this new method in mind, I read until something strikes me, then I stop and journal about it.

Here's a sample from this past week:
S - John 13:1-10
O - Jesus washing his disciples' feet.  Peter says no (because he understood his position before Jesus, but he did not fully understand Jesus' position he was choosing to take before us), then when Jesus says 'Unless I do you have no part with me,' he swings full stop and says 'Wash all!"  It was Jesus' response that made me stop:  "Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean."
A -  We are clean. Cleansed by our repentance and faith in him.  But what makes the difference this time is seeing that image of being clean with dirty feet.  Even though I continue to sin and fall, I am clean.  I jsut have to routinely clean off the 'dust on my feet.'  I like this image better than the white heart with black marks image.  But it also conveys that we have a regular time / routine to dusting off or washing our feet.  A regular confession and repentance.  Not to be forgotten in regular devotion time, but to begin with it.  Enter the house, wash your feet!
P - ... well, you don't need to see that part. :)

It's a more interactive way to read the Word, and I am enjoying it.  Sometimes I read and don't write, but I will often stop and do this.  *And one tip - I just use a little arrow sticky note, and just point it to where I left off.  Problem solved!*  I wanted to share in case any of you might like to give it a try.  Happy Studying!

Feel free to share if you have a different method that you like to use - I am always open to learning and trying new things!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Sunday Shopping!

It feels like a long time since Sunday Shopping was a big issue.  There have actually been a few times that I've been glad that Safeway is open till 10 on Sunday! 

But that's not what today's post is about... I wanted to let you know that I will be participating in a sale this Sunday at the Hungarian Club from 11-4 - the March Madness Craft & Trade Show & Sale.  The admission is free, but you are encouraged to bring a food item that, along with our table fees, will go to helping local families in need this Easter.  So it's a worthwhile cause. 

(If you are in Regina, you should go to church at the Ap first at 11 and watch the 4 year olds sing in the service.  Mine will be the one not singing.)

I had a good visit with an old friend yesterday in her shop about which of my goods and special-for-them items she would like to carry this fall.  I am hoping to get into four different retail shops this year, and that is the second one so far.  Thankful to be able to work with her!  I'll give you more details once things are a little closer and finalized.

I am still very pleased to be an Etsy seller, but am realizing more that that is just one of many opportunities for my business.  Alice&Victor wouldn't be where it is without the Etsy platform.  It is a great foundation to be able to point people to; a visual warehouse where they can see all my items, by my shop is ME and all the things I can dream up for it. 

Thanks for being my supporters - I appreciate you all!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Another Bookish Post

It's been 3 months since I did a book post - here's what I read and what I thought was worth recommending.  I should post these more often since some I can't remember the book off the top of my head!

On the top of the pile at 5 Stars:
Wonder by RJ Palacio - This one is a kid's book, but so good.  About a kid who is different, and the reactions of others as he enters regular school.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - a wartime story, set in France. Very good.
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman - I wasn't sure into the first chapter, but then it got more understandable, and was really entertaining.
Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery - This migrated from M's bookshelf to mine, and I chose it for the 'Book That You've Read Before' category of the 2016 Reading Challenge.  I haven't read this since I was a kid, and found it delightful. 
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty - Three women's stories that intersect around this uncovered secret - a good read.  Set in Australia.

Have I ever mentioned that I hate rating books?  I'm looking at these now and thinking, well, if I gave that one a 4 I should move that one, and didn't I enjoy that one just as much as that one?  So it's an imprecise art...

4 Stars
The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristen Harmel - a girl with a falling apart life has to travel to France for her Grandmother's last request - a wartime story and family coming together.  I do enjoy getting glimpses of other places and other times.
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton - A back in time to find out what really happened kind of book.  A good read, similar in structure to all her others, (except I haven't read The Lake House, her latest, and hear it doesn't fit her usual formula.)
Crossing to Safety by Walter Stegner - A story of two couples and their friendship spanning decades.  Insightful writing.
Get Lucky by Katherine Center - Loses job, becomes surrogate to have baby for sister - some good comedy. 
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand - The meticulously researched story of an amazing racehorse.  Another time & place again - US in the depression. 

3.5 Stars
The Life Changing Magic of Tiding Up by Marie Kondo - I had heard from people who had read thiis and were following her method, and I browsed a few pages in Costco a couple of times, then bought it.  Then my book club decided to read it too.  Our consensus - while a bit hokey at times, she does have a lot of insight and practical tips that you can adopt even if you don't jump in the deep end.
A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor - Set in London in 1912, about the flower sellers.

3 Stars
The Corpse with the Diamond Hand by Cathy Ace
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I'm not reading tonight because I am browsing the interwebs checking out the new modern calligraphy and brush lettering... I dug out my calligraphy stuff yesterday and made a shopping list for Michaels for tomorrow night while N is at Awana...  A new obsession?  Aaahh... but it's cheaper than Lego!

As always, share a book in the comments that you are enjoying - my to-read list is always open to new suggestions!

Monday, February 15, 2016

RV for Rent!

We are a camping family. We love to get away to a campground and relax, chop wood, make fires, get out on the water in a canoe... but sleeping on the ground in a tent in the rain with babies crying across the path?  That got a little old a few years ago, and since, we've taken a few hotel-camping trips (to South Dakota and Jasper) and borrowed the in-law's trailer for some closer to home camping trips.  Last year, though, we planned a big camping trip with the family - the in-law side - and so we had to come up with a plan B, since Gramma and Grampa would be there in the trailer we usually borrowed!

We found a trailer to rent that seemed reasonable and booked it, and had a great experience.  Sean talked quite a bit to the couple we rented it from, and ever since it's been in the back of our minds to get one and do the same.

And now... here she is!!

Take a tour here:

Pre Owned 2009 Sportsmen LE 272 LE - YouTube

And if you are interested in renting it, give us a call!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pinching Pennies

I found a few ways to get a little extra trickle of income over the past weeks, so thought I'd share and see if you use the same or have any other ideas for pinching pennies.

I got the Varage Sale app on my phone a few weeks ago as another place to advertise the items worth reselling from our ongoing purging of extra stuff and outgrown boy toys.  We have often listed things on Kijiji and Used Regina (we find more people use Kijiji around here), but Varage Sale seems to be better for smaller items, and it really is simpler to use; just take a photo and add a caption, category, and price. Done.  I've had a few sales from there.

I signed up for Ebates last fall and never used it, since we rarely shop online, but I remembered to use it last month when we ordered my new sewing machine from Amazon, then used it for a coffee order from Keureg, then again with Amazon for some new faucets for our broken tub that we couldn't find anywhere in the city.  This is super easy to use, too - sign in, then click on the store you want to shop from, and get 1% cash back or more.  Our coffee order was 6% cash back, which was sweet.  If you have to shop online, or like to, you may as well get money back for it.  It looks like they transfer you whatever you've earned every few weeks or so.

Checkout 51 is an app I read about a few times; I rarely jump on an idea the first time I hear about it.  This one is a list of items that get you cash back when you buy them - sort of like a coupon but in retrospect.  You take a photo of your receipt and upload it, then get credit for each listed item on it.  The items change every week; the first week there were 3 things I actually needed and had on my list, but this past week there was nothing.  So we'll have to wait and see if it actually is worth doing in the long run.  You can request payout once you reach $20, so you'll have to stick with it for a while to make it pay.

The loyalty card that makes the biggest difference for me on a regular basis is PC Points - I have the PC Mastercard that I use for all my groceries, so the points add up quickly.  It doesn't take long to get to $20 off.  It does grow exponentially, so I do try to save this one up for Christmas or when I have a larger than normal cartful, or when I know we have extra expenses coming up.

Another one I save up with is the Plum Rewards Card from Chapters.  I am a book borrower & rarely buy them, but Chapters is a good place for gifts and magazines, so usually by Christmas I have enough on there to help with the Christmas shopping.

What are your go-to money back tools?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Books... Are you up for a Challenge?

N has had the flu all week, so we've done a whole lot of nothing this week.  I've spent hours on the couch cuddling my boy, and you know what the worst part was?  (Other than him being sick, of course!)  The book I'm in was too heavy to manage holding while I was holding him.  And I didn't have a bunch of other ones to pick from, either.  So sad. 

The reason I don't have a big library stack to pick from is that I have whittled my home library down - I donated what I was not going to read again and what I had been keeping to read and yet never got around to - and only kept those I will read soon. 

I've seen Reading Challenges before and never been interested, but this year, because I was already in purge-mode, when I looked at this list, I could right away think of half a dozen on my shelf that would fit.  This one is from Anne Bogel, who writes the blog Modern Mrs Darcy; I've found over the years it has been a great source of book ideas that I actually enjoy.

On the 2016 Reading Challenge (and some of my picks):

a book published this year
a book you can finish in a day
a book you've been meaning to read
     Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (had it from the library when I saw this list - read it!)
a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller
a book you should have read in school
     Riel - A Life of Revolution by Maggie Siggins (Had it on my shelf on loan from my Mom - this is the big one I'm 1/3 of the way through.)
a book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF
a book published before you were born
a book that was banned at some point
a book you previously abandoned
     A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Bookmark still in it at page 106 of 390... I will have to start again, though.)
a book you own but have never read
     The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (This was in a pile of books a friend was giving away - I liked the other ones by this author so thought it was worth a try.)
a book that intimidates you
     Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky (on my shelf forever - oh those Russians!)
a book that you've already read at least once
     Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (was M's & was on my shelf - read it!)

I'll have to keep my eyes open for ones that fit the other categories, but I've got all year.  I like this for the same reason I like book club - It stretches me to look for books outside the same authors and genres I'd normally gravitate to. 

You can find this list as a printable and join up if you want at Modern Mrs Darcy.

What about you?  How do you choose your books?  Have you ever done a challenge?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Free Printable!

I made up these Scripture prints almost two years ago now, and offered them in this post to whoever wanted them.  At the time I couldn't figure out how to make it printable directly from here without using a third party site, and didn't worry about it too much since I wasn't planning on making this a habit.  Now all of a sudden I am getting emails asking for this print again! So I did a little research and I think technology is friendlier than it was then...

Here is this verse again, in two colour options, and all you have to do is click on it and download if you want it.  You're welcome!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Good Side of January

We celebrated a birthday yesterday - N looks all of 4 and I'm hoping every birthday is this easy!!  I made a construction cake (seriously foolproof) and we had a few friends and family over for supper and playing lego and had a great time together. We picked up some black & yellow striped caution tape at the safety store and taped up the house - no missing our theme!

N is still loving preschool and Awana, and starts swimming lessons next week.  He should end this session in the water without having one of us in there with him!  He's looking forward to getting out sledding with Dad - he's got his own sled, but that's still pretty new and tentative - he really likes riding on Dad's!

Stay warm and joyful!!