Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mix It Up

We had an expensive bowl of popcorn the other day.  I thought popcorn might be a good afternoon snack for the kids, so I got the popcorn maker out from over the fridge where it sits behind my hand mixer.  I then opened the freezer to get out the popcorn (does everyone keep theirs in there?), forgetting that I had moved the mixer just out of the cupboard, onto the 4 inches of exposed fridge... half of which was the freezer door.  And of course it fell.

Honestly, I'm pretty sure I've done the same thing before.  This time however, when I turned it on, the motor sounded a little funny.

I mentioned it to the resident fix-it guy that night, and yesterday he took it to work with him to see if he could fix it.  In a text that morning, he said it was done for.  Oops.  So then I got to thinking that maybe I should think about whether or not I wanted a stand mixer... I was aware that I kept noticing them in multiple flyers this year, and even thought I've never felt the need for one in the past, I was maybe thinking that maybe I would like one after all...

So while N was napping, I looked through all the flyers to check prices.  While I was doing that?  Sean went out on his lunch hour and bought me one.

Looks pretty good there, I think!  Now to find some time to bake...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

An Etsy Update

December 10 marked two months of having my Etsy shop up and running.  I wanted to take some time to look back, figure out the stats and think about what I've learned. 

My first two sales were to people I knew, but the third and fourth were to strangers - that felt like success!  (Five of the 12 total orders so far have been to people I know.)  The first sale was 11 days after opening.  The first month had three orders. 

Some orders were for multiple items; this is the summary of what I've sold through Etsy in these past two months:

Wheat Bags - 11
Zip Pouches - 3
Coffee Cozies - 2
Camera Strap Covers - 1
Handwarmers - 7 sets
Bean Bags -  1 set
It's encouraging to see that I've sold at least one of everything I offer... it also shows that the wheat bags and handwarmers are the best sellers!  I've got 13 more pairs beside me in the works as I type.

To compare, these are the sales for the same amount of time that were not through Etsy.  These numbers include:
  • my only craft sale of the year - a table at a women's event in Winnipeg that I wasn't even at!
  • an order for 60 coffee cozies to a local coffee boutique
  • three orders through Used Regina / Kijiji
  • many were because people were made aware of what I sell when I began promoting it
Wheat Bags -29
Zip Pouches -3
Coffee Cozies - 72
Camera Strap Covers -2
Handwarmers - 4 sets
Bean Bags - 2 sets

So 25 items sold through Etsy out of 137 total...  Still, it's been a great opportunity to brand my little sewing habit and have an excuse to sew different items.  I've been thrilled with this experience and have a couple ideas for new products to add after the holidays.  I'll be sure to give you the first peek here!

The Etsy shop also provides a good upsell to orders from Used Regina or Kijiji - I only list my wheat bags on those sites, but when someone sends me a message asking about them, I can direct them to my shop in case they see something else they'd like to pick up at the same time.  The last girl that came wanted 4 bags, and left with two sets of handwarmers, too.

I am figuring out the whole shipping thing, estimating and adjusting, ordering packaging materials and making friends with the post office ladies.  *Rookie tip: go to the same post office all the time so the workers get to know you.  Oh, and I got a small business card that saves me 5% on shipping with Canada Post - my first piece of plastic with Alice&Victor on it!!  So exciting.

People can make treasuries or collections on Etsy - I was featured in one made by another Regina Etsian.  That was kind of exciting... Etsy is like many other online worlds in that some people are slightly addicted.  You can follow people and shops and see what they are liking and making, and some people you see on there lots.  Obviously more activity and interaction in the forums gets you noticed, but moderation is key.

So there are a few bits about my first two months - I think beginning just before Christmas was a winner time, but here's hoping the new year is just as fun & profitable!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Recommended Reads - November

Here are a few books you might enjoy.  Not all are lighthearted Christmas holiday reads, though...

Left Neglected by Lisa Genoa.  I read her book love anthony last month, and this was another good one, about a career wife & mother who has an accident and ends up with a brain injury.  Really interesting to read of a disability where the person is unaware of the disability...

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.  It's on the Regina Public Library's 100th Anniversary, 100 Favorite All Time Books list that I have been checking for recommendations for years, so I was glad when it was a book club pick for this year.  Character driven rather than plot driven, this one is set in India around the time I was born.  Fascinating to read of a world so far away in space and culture, yet so close in time.  A real everything goes wrong tale, but with touches of hope and joy.

What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George.  I read this right after A Fine Balance, eager to read something more entertaining, and less tragic... bad pick for that.  It was compelling, but a sad story of how a good kid gets into a bad situation through circumstances outside his control.  An Inspector Lynley novel - sort of - it's the back story of how and why his wife was shot, and the usual characters make minimal appearances.  It's also on the same 100 Books list.

Friday, December 06, 2013

The Boy and His Bed

As promised:


We will take down the crib this weekend and move things around... and have a little boy's room.  Crazy.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Tree & The Lights & The Boy

Our Nolan is wonder-filled at 'Mis-mas' as he calls it - the trees, the houses with lights on... It's been awesome to watch him take in the decorations of the season, and to explain all brand new what it's all about.  Here are a bunch of photos so you can enjoy, too.

This one was when Sean was getting the outside lights ready to put up.  (That was in October, but they didn't get turned on until this past weekend.)

Sean and I set up the tree Sunday night after the kids were in bed.  We wanted to do it all together Sunday, but with nap time and a friend's Christmas party, it didn't happen.  These are from Monday morning when Nolan first saw it.

And Monday morning we ran out to get a second strand of new blue and white lights, so this is Nolan enjoying the lights on the tree after his nap.  (And meet Rabbit, Brownie, and Blankie - he's not attached like some kids I know, but they are his bedtime friends and help him move from Mom to bed!)

Wednesday night was the next chance we had to be home all together - basketball and soccer take up lots of Madeline's time!  So the boxes got brought up and the tree got decorated.  Not many 'in-process' photos, but a few posed ones will do.  You'll notice Nolan was all dressed for a photo shoot...

And this morning...

In this first week of Advent we think about Hope (Madeline and I did the reading at church this past Sunday); may you be filled with hope as you head into this Christmas season, and may you, like Nolan, experience just a touch of the wonder of it all.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Thoughts on a milestone.

December 3, 2013.

I wondered what I would do to mark the milestone of yesterday - ten years since we said goodbye to Neil.

His brother put a notice in the paper, his other brother and sister both shared links to it on Facebook. It's so nicely done and here, if you want to have a look.  (Those links all have comments, too, if you'd like to read other people's memories of him.)  We received notes from a few friends who also keep this date in mind each year.

I wanted to do something, to write something, to find the words to honor his life again, but for some reason, words escape me.  I feel simply a quiet acceptance.  He was an important part of my life for a long time and will never be forgotten.  I believe that he would be pleased by the way we have carried on living and loving.

It is important to remember.  It is a good thing to honor loved ones who are gone.  He was loved by many, and I know many are remembering and honoring him now.  I believe we all will continue to live our lives changed because we knew him.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Beds

Nolan will soon be waking from his nap.  In his new bed...

We were not planning on moving him out of his crib anytime soon; hadn't even thought about it yet.  But a friend sent a text "...selling Kaleb's cars bed and wanted to give you guys first dibs..."  So we picked it up yesterday and as we have nowhere really to store it, we set it up in his room.  He asked about sleeping in it last night, but was fine with the answer that he could play on it but still sleep in his crib.

At naptime today we sat on it to read stories, then he just put his head on the pillow and snuggled in.  I did have to pick him up for a song (lately it's London Bridge, sung as Daddy's Bridge), but back into the bed with Brownie, Rabbit, and Blankie, and out he went.  So I guess bedtime in the crib and naps in the bed?  We'll have to play it by ear, I guess...

I'm also writing with one ear to the door, waiting for the people delivering OUR bed!  Sean's back has been complaining about ours, so we found a good bed and a good sale and went for it.  It will come today between 2 and 5; I'm hoping for soon after Nolan wakes up, and not before.  I'm thankful for the takeaway and recycle service they provide.  No moving beds for me!

I'll try to snap a pic of N in his new bed; it might be tough because he rarely stays still long enough for me to get a shot, but I will post one as soon as I get it.

Sleep well, all!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

22 = 2 to 2!

Translated: Nolan turned 22 months old yesterday, and that's two months to two years old!

I can ask him to get me out the cutting board, or an onion and the celery, and he does. (With a little help, of course.)

He does dishes almost daily (that just means playing in the kitchen sink), and can help unload the dishwasher, too.

Today's laundry folding got hampered (pun intended) by a Ring Around the Rosie party under the bedsheet parachute.

Chop Chop Timber, Duck Duck Goose, the Grand Old Duke of York, and the Hokey Pokey are new favourites thanks to swimming lessons.  Watching videos of himself at swimming lessons is also a favourite.

He notices Christmas trees and lights in the flyers - this is going to be a fun season!

He still wakes most nights needing to be re-covered, and it's not uncommon for his dreams to wake him, but his going to bed and sleeping till our alarm are great.  He's also going into the nursery at church and staying with other people very well, too.  A little freedom, there.

We've borrowed a couple of movies from friends - Tangled and Cars.  He's a fan, although Wallace and Grommit is still his favourite.  His joke today: Tom. Tom? Mater!!!  We want to pick up Madagascar next since he and dad have been singing Move It lately.  (I like to move it move it...)

Discovered he loves oranges - eats a mandarin almost every day.  He peels it mostly himself, then eats it 'hole ting!' - no sections for this guy, he likes it all in one piece.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Anniversary!!!

Seven years ago today...

This is what our families looked like at the time:
... and now add 3 more babies!

... and now add 6 more babies!!
Here's to the next seven, and the next seven, and the next seven...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Praying Big Prayers

Do you ever get into a routine and then realize that something's missing?  I don't expect myself to have a perfectly routine anything with Nolan and our days and weeks that are often similar but ever changing.  That includes reading my Bible and praying... It is a priority for me, but that doesn't mean it looks the same every day.  Today it felt like it has been a while since I prayed, and I remembered something we talked about in small group last month...

In our first small group of the year, Lisa brought a video she had found that was about praying big prayers.  We were challenged to think beyond the 'routine' prayers of "Keep them safe and healthy..." and to ask for big things.  I thought of one big thing that I wanted to pray for each of my family, and it seems now that even if I only have a few minutes to focus on praying before I'm off keeping Nolan out of danger, I have those top big things at the front of my brain, and it makes it easier to pray specific prayers for things that really matter.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.   

What are the big wild crazy things you'd like to see happen in your life or the lives of those you love? 

What tips do you have to share about keeping prayer a priority in your life?

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Recommended Reads - October

Just a few for this month:

My Mom recommended the Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George, and I've read three of them lately... I won't list them all, but recommend them if you like long mysteries with lots of different threads winding through that all come together in the end.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon was what we read for book club last month, and it is a good, quick, and often funny, read.  Told from the perspective of a 15 year old with autism, it's a good glimpse into how an autistic mind works.

Right after that one I read Love Anthony by Lisa Genova, which also deals with autism.  It is a touching story of two women, dealing with different kinds of loss, and how they end up helping each other. Genova has a degree in Biopsychology and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and has also written Still Alice, about Alzheimers (which I've read and recommend) and Left Neglected, about brain injury (which is sitting on my shelf to read after I'm done our monster of a book club read for this month).

Happy reading!  As always, I'd love it if you'd leave me a note telling me what great book you've read recently.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Little Elephant

Here are a few shots of my little elephant. Madeline talked him into the costume when the neighbour called to say he had a bag of goodies for Nolan, and he kept it on till Dad came home half an hour later.

Back home with the goodies!
A lot of goodies!  Open this one first!!
Waiting patiently.
Sour gummie worms...
Mmm... I like it!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Early Childhood Development Amazes Me

I'm amazed at the development of our 21 month old.  That's 1 3/4... wow.

He's talking lots, and making himself understood: he'll repeat something over and over patiently until you repeat it, and if you get it wrong, he'll keep going...  He'll also use other words or take you and show you what he means.  Communication!!

He's singing, sort of... when we sing our usual songs, he will chime in with the last word in the phrase.  And with Hickory Dickory Dock, a good 'BONG!' for the clock striking one!  Our 4 at bedtime are Baa Baa Black Sheep, Jesus Loves Me (so cute to hear him sing most of this!), Twinkle Twinkle, and still Row Row Row Your Boat.  All three verses.

He's learning his colours.  And his numbers.  He likes eleven.  Today he said 'one, two, three, four' all on his own.

His climbing and jumping and throwing and playing in the bath all make him look so big.  When I take him out of the car I'm more likely to put him down so he can walk rather than carry him.  That's often when I notice that he's really not my little baby any more.  Even grocery shopping - sometimes he needs to be contained in the cart or in my arms, but he likes walking along and pushing the cart and generally stays close.

We went to the Harvest Party at church last night - with borrowed elephant and giraffe costumes to choose from, he went as a Rider Fan in a t-shirt and hat...  He had fun playing the games, though, and collecting treats!  Today the neighbour called saying he had something for N and the little guy down the street, then he was hiding out and not handing out candy - M was able to talk him into the elephant costume, they went across the street and came back with a bag stuffed with a bag of chips, two bags of gummy worms, and five full sized chocolate bars.  Might have to help him out a bit...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Have time for a coffee?

Hello, Friends. There's a reason I haven't promised that I would post on a regular schedule... because life's not like that for me!

I got an order last week from Ambassador Coffee saying the coffee cozies they bought were selling really well, and when could they get another 50?  So I've been ironing and cutting and sewing and stitching on buttons and this morning I delivered 60!  That's thanks to my business savvy husband.

I bought these 3 packs from Cindyrella's Quilt Shop for making the tops (here's me telling all my secrets), and made up as many as I could make from them, along with some other fabric I had been planning to use.  I had a few on hand already, too, so when all was said and done, I had 60 made.  I planned to take them the 50 they ordered and list a few on Etsy, but Sean suggested when I let her know they were ready, I should ask if she wanted all 60.  So I did.  And she did.  So happy selling to me.

Here's what 60 looks like.

The new labels!

We are back in the swing of things with soccer.  Sean usually takes M to the evening practices while I put N to bed, but usually we can make it to the games.  Nolan likes being there, and likes that we usually get him a Tim Bit when we get our coffees...

This week we have a piano recital and a harvest party at the church thrown in the mix, the Amazing Race for youth group, and then a tournament this weekend, so it should be a fun busy week.  M has been going to youth at another church with some camp friends, and it's been a good group for her to be a part of.  They are on different nights so she can usually make it to one or the other most weeks.

Ciao for now - have a great Monday!

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Some blogs I read have a weekly list of links to check out.  I couldn't do that - I don't spend that much time online!  Once in a while, though, I'll read something that I think is worth sharing and I save it up for you... Enjoy!

A couple on things that are good for you:

Go Outside

52 Reasons to Go to Church  (From Pastor Darren)

A couple on family:

How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body (Spoiler in one word: Don't.)

Why You Should Date Your Husband

And a couple of funny 'unreal childhood' ones:

My Imaginary Well Dressed Daughter

Warped Childhood Restoration Hardware Style

Monday, October 14, 2013

For This I am Thankful...

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!  We just drove home from Mom & Dad's today after an uneventful-but-great-to-be-with-family weekend.  The clouds parted and we enjoyed some sunshine - ironically, at dusk, so it was in our eyes, but I'll still take it!  The colors were so rich and spectacular it didn't even matter that I finished my book half way through the drive.

For that, I am thankful.

We had perhaps the best drives yet with Nolan, both there and back.  He woke after 20 minutes on the way home and I thought that might be all we got (no...!) but he did fall asleep again after a while and slept quite a long time (whew).  He also slept pretty good at Granny & Papa's, and had a great time with his cousins.  He's growing and maturing and talking and joking.

For that, I am thankful.

I left a box of goods with Mom for a sale table at their upcoming women's conference.  It's satisfying to make stuff that other people might actually want and use.

For that, I am thankful.

I am reminded most days in one way or another that God made us each different, and he did that on purpose.  Our job is to love Him and let Him help us learn to love each other, not only when people are like us and please us, but in all circumstances.  It's not natural, but it's so necessary for a good life.  He loves me in spite of the way I continually need improvement, and that's a great encouragement.

For that, I am thankful.

Madeline went to soccer practice tonight and connected with a great friend.  I'm glad she's on a team with some friends from last year, glad she enjoys the sport, and glad she gets a chance to play.

For that, I am thankful.

And you?  What are you thankful for?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Welcome Alice&Victor to Etsy!

It's a big day, everyone!  I've been getting set up for a couple of weeks and I'm ready to show you the 'finished' product... my new shop!

Alice and Victor are the kids' middle names, both named after loved grandparents.  I figured it would be a name I wouldn't grow tired of.  :)  In trying to come up with a description (because Alice&Victor says nothing about what I sell), I realized that useful and colourful described pretty much everything I make.  And seeing all that fun colour when I use them lifts my spirits a bit, so I threw in playful... a better word than happy, I think!

I am thrilled that I have items selling in retail shops and through word of mouth and online sites like UsedRegina; I set up a shop of Etsy as another outlet to sell the goods I sew. I'm not expecting it to be a huge income generator, but a place where my goods can be found by people who are searching for them.

My business cards are ordered and now I have to figure out how to re-package some of my things with the new branding.  I chose the blue/grey background and dark blue letters because what I make is usually so colorful.  For a while I had brightly colored and patterned cards, and while I really liked them, they were often too busy and clashed with the goods themselves. I think these will go fabulously with what I make - I like that the font is a little playful, too.

I'll sign off here, because I know you want to click over and check it out, ha ha... As I put Nolan down for his nap today, I told him I was going to go rest, too, and he told me 'Nap.' I think that might be a good idea... Later, friends!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Scrapbook Pages!!!

It's been a long time since I had pages to show you!  I had a good time at the retreat, though; while some of my friends make works of art and only get a few pages made all weekend, I usually want to come away with as many pages as I can.  It is a good place to spread out all your supplies and take the time to play with more time consuming techniques, but I kept it all pretty simple this time around.  Pretty much my style anyway.  Without further ado, in alphabetical order, here they are!

M's 14th Birthday

Just a series of shots I took of N playing with a friend's trike.

This one I did a while ago, but never took a photo of.

Frozen blueberries make a messy snack.

Cousins.  Always gotta get one of these shots.

This is M!!!

An 8.5x11 just for fun.

From a little photo shoot at the park down the street.

Love this pic from a few years ago.

Love these photos.

Always so interested in looking at and touching what's down there.

She's so pretty in this picture.

Part 1...

...and part 2.

Love this picture - and I took it with my phone!!

*A note on the photography:  I made a lightbox for taking product pictures, and it worked great as a place for shooting these.  I propped it on the back of the couch catching the indirect light through the window, but balancing on the couch and using no flash made for a case of the fuzzies...  I'll rig it up better next time, but thought I'd rather show these to you imperfectly now instead of next week sometime...