Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How We Organize Our Lego

Organize it?  Don't bother!

That's the response I got when we first started getting sets and I put the question out there.  I agree it shouldn't be sorted by set and kept separate - then you only ever build what's on the box.  But we soon had WAY too many pieces for me to find anything when the 4 year old said, "Mom, can you find me a...?"

Searching for a particular piece is not my favorite part of playing with Lego.

It made the most sense to me to sort by type - all the similar blocks together, so if you're looking for a red 2x2, you look in the right bucket, look for red, and you're good to go.  After a few months of tweaking, we have a system that works great.

We got a new *BIG* set on Saturday and weren't around to play with it till Sunday, so after Nolan went to bed I tidied up so we'd have space to at least dump it out and do a bit before church.  I snapped a few pics before the tidy got destroyed again because I've been meaning to share this for a while.

The system breaks down into big buckets and little buckets.  I've got two silver boxes that are a bottom and top from a sturdy gift box, and three Ikea bins that I found on VarageSale from someone who ordered too many.  We don't use lids, because they are always out in play, but they still stack neatly and there is room under the table to tuck them away.

In the big bins are:
 - bricks.  The 2x2's, 2x3's, 2x4's and longer.
 - plates.  All the flat ones.
 - 'one by whatevers' (half width bricks)
 - 'ones and twos'
 - angles and slopes

The little boxes are Ziplock - I have the lids stashed away with some Lego set boxes if we ever need to store them.

 - slopes
 - rounds
 - tinies
 - tiles (flat plates with no bumps on top)
 - people & their accessories
 - specials
 - vehicle stuff
 - technic pieces
 - 'attachers' (the ones with dots on more than one side)
 - windows and doors

Sunday after church we ended up with Grandparents, an aunt, and uncle, and 3 cousins over for the day, which was great.  I checked with Nolan to see if we should tuck the new set away until he had a chance to make it himself, but he was happy to let them play with the new set, too.  So proud of our little sharer.

There are a few more ways I'd like to divide up some of our sections; the bricks  are 3 deep and tough to root around in, and the specials is getting pretty full and could easily make 3 buckets if I took out say the 'attachers' (all the ones with joiners other than dots), and the jumper plates.  Or separate the wheels out from the other vehicle stuff, because that one is overflowing, too.  But it will stay this way for now so it fits well on our table.  We first got Lego for Christmas last year and for his January birthday, and it's been put away maybe twice.  It doesn't get used every day, but often enough to give it prime real estate in the living room.

Nolan took this one of his favourite piece, and why he wanted this set:  the awning.  The camper, the boat and the cabin all incorporate it, and he loves it.

Random side note - apparently when you order from the Lego website, you will get a catalogue in the mail for the next season's release.  We were both eying this set up and  - did you know - if you click on building instructions at the bottom of, you can enter any set # and see how to make it?  We did that last week (before we knew we were going to get it!) with this set to make the bear.  We were missing a bunch of the pieces, of course, but improvised a pretty sweet polar bear.

Happy Lego-ing!!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Books to Put on Hold at the Library

A short list today, because I've been sewing Cornhole bags all month, and haven't had time to read!  Thankfully they were all good reads worth picking up.

The Travellers by Chris Pavone - 4.75 * - Life takes a crazy turn for a travel writer turned reluctant spy... who can he trust?  Pavone writes a good deep multi-level story.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck - 5 * - His writing is amazing... he gets societies, and why people do what they do.  A short book.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey - 5 * - Imagination of an old woman with cabin fever or real?  A lovely story about hardships, longing for a child, true friendships, set in Alaska in the 20's.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom - 4.5 * - A slave story, but with a twist - the main character is an Irish orphan, indentured and raised serving with the slaves.  As with every slavery story, there is much suffering, but worth a read.

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman - 5 * - I'll add this even though I'm only 3/4 finished.  I read the intro to this one time before and put it back because it seemed that it would just be too sad...  I've since read another by this author and loved her storytelling, so I put this one on hold and while sad, yes, it is also an artfully written story.  WWII separates a newly wed couple, and (not a spoiler, because this is in the prologue) they meet again at the wedding of their grandchildren decades later.

Hope you have time to enjoy a good book this weekend!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Chicken and Sheep and Cows, Oh My!

I may have a farm post every spring, but that's because I take the good camera when it's sheep and kitten season.  Here are some of the gems from the Denzin's place the other week.

Collecting eggs.

So perfect.


The cutest ever??

Or this one? So sweet. Or is N trying to eat it?

Finding out what cow pies are.

Hugging a cow.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Three Legged Sunday Fun

This was from a week ago - we went to watch our nephew play soccer, so I took along the 'big camera' - glad I did, because I got some fun shots at the church picnic after. It was a good day of sun and family.

This is N and his friend A.  They were in the same class in preschool this year, but since she is a fall baby, she'll be heading off to kindergarten in the fall, while N has another year before he starts.  They are lined up for the three legged race.

There was a whole series of shots of this classic fall, but this was the most awkward.

And here they come back!

Then it was the mom's turn.  So N got to hold the camera.  He snapped this, and then seven of our bums.

But then he took this one.  So sweet.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Some Magical Books

I don't have a good book on the go, otherwise I'd be flaked out on the couch with it.  But that's ok, because I've been meaning to share my last bunch of reads with you for a while, too.  I just organized my 'Books' note on my phone, alphabetizing by author so I can find them more easily on the shelves at the library, and I ordered a bunch when I was done, so hopefully the next few weeks will be full of great reads and not just what I can find on the shelves.

5 Stars

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
So fantastic.  I loved this one.  You should read it.

The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman
A well written WWII book set with strong characters and a good plotline. (It was possibly enjoyed more because I read it right after a real dud.)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Great story that makes believing the unbelievable fun.

The Lake House by Kate Morton
True to her formula, and it works!

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
Quirky characters with issues, unlikely friendships, more quirky characters, and a trip to Canada.  It was a nice one.
4 Stars

Her by Harriet Lane
One character was annoyed by someone saying they were not enjoying a book because they didn't like the characters... and that made me defensive. Ha.  But she was psychotic, so there's that.  A read that has you wondering what 'the event' in the past was and what the real story and connection between the two characters is.  A quiet psychological thriller.

The Silent Wife by ASA Harrison
Affairs and murder, but it is more about the psychological journey that the wife takes through it.

The Body In The Library by Agatha Christie
A pick off the shelf because I needed books and Christie is always a decent filler.

3 Stars

February by Lisa Moore
This one could probably be read in Canadian high schools because I'm sure there's lots of discussion that could come from it.  A widow's story of life after a great East Coast tragedy.  I read primarily for entertainment, and this was not so gripping.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Sometime you read a book just to check it off the list of books everyone should read...

0 Stars

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
I quit reading in the middle and really should have given it up well before that.  I kept waiting to find the big secret from the past, but it got to the point where I didn't even care anymore, I just wanted to read something decent.

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!