Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reading Challenge Recap

Have you ever tried a reading challenge?  I have seen them before but was never really interested; I don't usually have a problem finding books I like, and I was in a book club, now sadly defunct, that kept me reading books I wouldn't normally gravitate to.  Perhaps because the book club was in decline, I thought it might be worth a try this year when I saw this list back in January.

Modern Mrs Darcy, one of my favourite book recommending sites, posted this challenge, and since I could think of books for half the categories right off the top of my head, I jumped in.

Here are the categories and what I read for them (I managed them all but two):

A book published this year - (If I did read one from this year, I didn't notice...)
A book you can finish in a day -  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A book you've been meaning to read - Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller - Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
A book you you should have read in school - The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
A book chosen for you by your spouse, sibling, child, or BFF - (does Mom count?) - The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva
A book published before you were born - Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
A book that was banned at some point - 1984 by George Orwell
A book you previously abandoned - Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
A book you own but have never read - Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
A book that intimidates you - (I was going to read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, since it's already on my bookshelf, but never got to it...)
A book you've already read at least once - Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Mongomery

Since I wrote about books last, this is what I've read:
Blood Sport by Dick Francis
Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager by Diana Gabaldon - I'm making myself take a break and read a couple other books in between, but I've got book four out of the library and ready to devour.
A Hidden Life by Adele Geras - rated only a 3.5 - the main character was decent hearted, but every imaginable disfunction happening in her family around her left a sour taste.
Diary of Anne Frank - an important read.  Glad to be able to cross this off the must read list.
1984 - Glad to cross this one off as well.  I feel smarter having read the must reads...  Crazy story.

Now back to another Silva, George, and Gabaldon as reads for the holidays I know I will enjoy.

Happy reading!  Let me know what I should add to my list for 2017!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Advent - Thy Kingdom Come

I've been thinking about Advent lately. 

This season that we are in leading up to Christmas focuses on the anticipation of Christ's coming, both to his second coming and to the celebration of His first arrival, as a baby at Christmas time.  We light candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, and then the Christ candle on Christmas Eve. 

It's these four words that have been playing over in my mind.

Hope.  Peace.  Joy.  Love.

These are all things I long for and strive for in my life.  Not just during Advent, but every day.  They resonate with me because I need them.  I need to practice them.  I need to learn how to better treat others, coming from a place where these are real in my life.

And that makes me think of this:

Wouldn't the world be so much better if we all lived with these Advent themes as realities in our lives?  It would be like His Kingdom coming.  A glimpse into Heaven here and now. 

So we hope for God's best and trust and have faith.  We look for joy and find it and hold onto it.  We crave and create peace in our homes and in our relationships.  And we love.  We treat others as more important than ourselves.  Give of ourselves.  Care.  Be kind. 

And pray for His Kingdom to come.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

God Loves to Celebrate

Happy 10th Anniversary to Us!!

Our Anniversary was on a Friday a couple of weeks ago, and we celebrated by dinner out at the Keg.  On the Wednesday just before, on 'date night' while Nolan was at Awana, we went ring shopping for a band to match my wedding band.  We hit the mall and didn't find one at the first jewelry store where we got the initial band; too bad, since they were going out of business and everything was on sale.  Right across the aisle was another jewelry store, but they didn't have anything similar enough either.  I guess this is why you can have three of them in one mall - the third one was the charm (and was, actually, called Charm).  They had a very similar band for a decent price, AND, while I was trying it on, I noticed that the mall system was playing the song we walked down the aisle to at our wedding. 

It's like God was saying, "I like you guys!  Anniversaries are to be celebrated, and I'm celebrating with you.  Good job!"

So awesome.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


The last week ended up being full of shared meals.

We had some old neighbours over for supper, a morning visit with friends that ended around the lunch table, brunch at friends on Remembrance Day and supper with two couples the next night. We had billets for the weekend for our church's youth retreat, and while we did breakfast mostly in shifts, we shared food and space, and then had Sunday lunch at Gramma & Grampa's. 

We do try to be intentional about spending time with friends, but it's usually once every couple of weeks, if that.  With so many visits this week, and especially sharing meals, I got to thinking about hospitality.  Nothing too deep, just that this is how God meant for us to live.  In community.  Sharing our food, our homes, our lives.  Showing each other that 'you matter to me'.  It makes life feel fuller and richer, to share it with others.

So I encourage you to call up those friends and have them over.  Don't stress about the menu, the house, the kids; just do it and enjoy.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. (Matthew 6:10)  Amen.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Homemade Gifts for Christmas

It's the time of year when I start looking around for ideas of gifts I can make for Christmas.  I like to make things myself to give as gifts - I have a large-ish family and not a huge budget, so when I can make things that I'm proud to give that cost a reasonable amount, then I'm happy.  Last year I started panicking in October, I think, so it seems like I'm doing a better job managing the stress of it this time round.  I may regret not starting sooner... or I may not even think of gifts till after my sales at the end of November.  I'm sure I can get it done in December...!?! 

As I was thinking about starting to think about getting started, I thought I would do a round up for you in case you might be in the same place as I am, wondering what to make...  Here are some of the different homemade gifts I've given over the years, a few gifts I have thought about making to give, some gifts I have received, and some gifts I would kind of like to receive.

Soap - I did this one year - it's the kind of gift that you invest in the basic supplies, make a few varieties, and that's what everyone gets that year.

Wheat Bags & Handwarmers - Yes, I sell these in my shop, but they started as Christmas gifts for my family (everyone got one!) more than a decade ago.  Simple to make, and if you use rice, easy to find all you need.

CD of piano playing or singing - sometimes it would be nice to hear someone who's far away. 

CD or you reading a story aloud, along with the book - grandparents, this one is for you!  This would rock bedtime.  *Cheaper version - snag a few of the favourites they already own and record yourself.

Pencil Cases - Find a tutorial and make this up for your favourite pen addict... I can't be the only one out there.

Popcorn Seasonings - this is one we were given and I am still enjoying them on every batch of popcorn.  We almost need some more, though...

Homemade Notebooks - I like paper, and playing with paper, and sewing... Sometimes the paper gets sewn and is awesome.

Fairy Garden - I've never made one, but saw lots of fun ideas this summer.  Maybe an awesome gift would be some supplies to build one and the promise of a spring date to do it together?

Magnets - use clip art or words between flat marbles and magnets - personalize for the recipient.  I made some as teacher gifts and some with the Fruit of the Spirit on them (Galatians 5:22 & 23).

Playdough - fun for little ones.

Sock Monkey or Stuffed Animal - my boy has a monkey and an elephant made by his Aunts - treasures, for sure.  Meaningful for the parent as well as the child.

Doll Clothes - I still remember the Christmas when we were small and we got a load of Barbie clothes sewn by Mom and knitted by the Grandma & Granny, and then later making them for our Cabbage Patch Dolls.  If you know a girl with a doll in her life, this one might be a win for you.

Aprons - I've made a few of these over the years, including some fun matching parent / child ones.  My secret is to use one I like the shape of as the pattern.

Fire Starters - We made these for camping this summer - they might be nice for the camping enthusiast in the family.

Cookies in a Jar - Always a good idea.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Alice&Victor Newsletter

 Introducing something new!

I have a couple of new products hitting the shop right away, and I am planning some sales in the next couple of months, and I didn't want anyone who was interested to miss out just because they didn't happen to see the notice on Facebook or Instagram... and I sure don't want to post the info multiple times over hoping everyone sees it, because nobody needs that much noise.

So... my solution is to start an email newsletter.  That way, once in a while when I have information to share, you'll get it right in your inbox.

I invite you sign up for Alice&Victor's email newsletter - be the first to know the news! Thanks so much for your interest and support.





Saturday, October 15, 2016

Reading Rabbits

I can tell by what I've read this month that I have been busy with other things.  Sadly.  But craft sale season is upon us - I've had two already and three next month, and must... keep... sewing...  So I've only read two (and a half) books in the last month.  They all, however, have a hefty page count, so I haven't totally gone into withdrawl.

Watership Down by Richard Adams was absolutely delightful.  I have had this title on my radar for years because it's been on so many must read lists, but I was shocked when I picked it up at the library - I was expecting a thin child's book, but this was a huge work.  And it's about rabbits.  Seriously.  A completely captivating story, about rabbits, that was a great read.  Go put it on hold.

Then I read Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.  I may not have read this so fast because it just was not gripping.  It was wonderfully written, and had lots to ponder in it, but while a lovely book, it was not as entertaining.  I guess that's what I look for.  It is written as a letter from an aging pastor to his son, and looks at the connection between fathers and sons and roots.

I'm in the second half of another big one; A Traitor to Memory by Elizabeth George.  I thought I was all caught up in this series, but was happy to discover that there were actually two I hadn't read yet, and I was looking for a read I knew I would enjoy after Gilead.

So that's all for this month.  Now back to my book...

I linked this to Modern Mrs Darcy's Quick Lit post.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Let Me Introduce You to a New Friend

One day not too long ago, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I saw a shot of some postcards that my friend had received.  The hashtag #postcrossing made me curious, so I followed the rabbit trail right down the hole into wonderland.

I like getting mail - who doesn't? Postcrossing is just a way of taking matters into your own hands.

From their website (
"The goal of this project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world, for free. Well, almost free! The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you will receive one back from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world."
My stash of postcards that I've collected to send.

You sign up, request to send a postcard, and they give you an address.  You can see the person's profile with a bit about them, so you can customize what you say or what postcard you choose to send, and then when they receive it, they log it on the site.  THEN, the next time someone requests to send one, they get YOUR address.  And you get mail.  

And all the ones I've got so far!
Just a little something I've been having fun with over the last little while - thought I'd share in case you'd like some happy mail, too!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Where A&V Will Be This Fall

This is where you'll find me out and about selling this fall.  There are some great events on this list that I am excited to be a part of!

Saturday, September 24
Etsy Made In Canada Sale
This is the second time Regina has had an Etsy sale; I was in last year's and it was pretty great to be surrounded by people who do what I do, but with all kinds of different things they make.  Come check it out if you can.  There will be workshops on macrame, paper making, bullet journaling, and starting an Etsy shop as well as the shopping.
Research and Innovation Centre Atrium, U of R  10-5

Saturday, October 15
Henry Braun SCC
I prefer the all handmade sales over craft and trade shows, but I had no other sales in October so thought I'd add this one in.  Hoping for some good crowds.
710 Graham Road, Regina  10-4

Saturday November 5
Maranatha Women's Wellness Day
This event is in Winnipeg at my family's church, and while I will not be in attendance, there will be a table of my goods for sale.  Check with the church as to the best drop-in shopping times. 204-832-1371

Saturday November 19
Cathedral Christmas Craft Sale
Second year for this one, too.  It is the same day as the sale at Westminster Cathedral, and just across the street and down a bit, so you can take in both and don't even have to move your car.
2900 13th Ave, Regina  10-5

Sunday November 20
Twinkle: A Holiday Handmade Market
First time joining up with the Wren for an event, but it promises to be awesome.
The Exchange - 2431 8th Ave, Regina  11-5

Saturday November 26
Holiday Bazzart
Bazzart is the annual outdoor summer sale put on by the MacKenzie Art Gallery; this holiday version take place inside.  I've been once - a lit of talented people!  I applied for Bazzart this year for the first time and was thrilled to get in to both summer and holiday shows.
3475 Albert Street, Regina  10-5

Thank you to all who shop local and handmade.  It makes our communities better places.  :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Summer of 5 Star Books

I finished a good book yesterday and when I went to jot it down on my list, I noticed that they were all rated really good - and there were a lot of them! So it's time to share, I guess!  I hope you find time to pickup a book - I feel like my time should be spent sewing or listing items in my shop or getting things ready for our scrapbooking retreat which is coming up soon, so I may not devour as many in the next months as I would when times are slower.  Can't not read, though.

4 Stars

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel - He has descriptive writing that really transports you to another time and place, but can be a little odd at times, too.  There are three different characters in different times that all tie in to one place in the end.  There was one theological error that bothered me since so much research would have had to go in to the rest of the story; why get that part wrong??

Distortion by Terri Blackstock - she writes decent Christian Fiction.  Not a ton of depth, but it was ok.  (Maybe more of a 3.5?  I'm sure you can find more amazing books, but in a pinch, pick her off the library shelf.)

4.5 Stars

The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva - A WWII story with lots of layers in the spy game.  I picked this one up because I thought it was the first in his series, but this was a stand alone.

5 Stars

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd - This one is about an affair, so if you don't want to go there, don't pick this one up.  It is more of a psychological look at a woman finding herself unsure of who she really is once she's facing an empty nest, and what she goes through to understand who she is and what she wants.  Kidd's understanding of people is well captured.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for  Day by Winifred Watson - Written in the 30's, this was a fun read with a delightful cast of characters.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson - Really good.  It'll take you a few chapters to get into it, maybe, but quite interesting, if you can accept the strangeness of the main character living her life over and over again.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - Another really good one.  It follows a few characters after a nasty virus kills off most of the world's population.

The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva - This is the first in the series that I was looking for.  Israeli spy / restoration artist.  Good guys vs bad guys all around Europe...

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - Grumpy old man that you fall for as you slowly learn his story.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - I started this one years ago but got distracted by something easier probably, so decided I'd read it for the reading challenge I'm attempting this year.  Glad I read it, though I'm sure I missed lots - very wordy and I was not always clear what he was talking about!  Great story, overall.  First Dickens I've read - is that sad?

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline - Despair and hope. Set in the 30's in the US, it chronicles an Irish immigrant girl sent on an orphan train to the Midwest to find a family.  Also set in the present day as a teen helps the same girl, now in her 90's, clean out her attic, and all the memories it uncovers.  That sounds a little cheesy, but it really is well done.  This one stuck in my brain for a long time.

If you are looking for more good recommendations, I would send you over to Modern Mrs. Darcy - her blog has lots of good lists.

Happy page flipping!!

Thursday, September 08, 2016


I was pretty proud of our boy this past week, for a bunch of things.

He wanted more Lego, so Dad, training a future entrepreneur, told him he should find a way to raise money to buy some.  I sure hope he learns that hard work is what gets you things, not just handouts from your parents.  So since we were camping, collecting cans seemed to be a no-brainer.  We went around our loop of the campground Sunday night and around another Monday morning, and after rinsing them all in the backyard Tuesday, Sarcan handed over $41.65.  That's a lot of cans!  And a lot of Lego!

We had also said we'd pay half, so after Sarcan we headed to ToysRUs, got his $30 set he wanted and he still has $25 towards the other big set he wants.  He's thrilled to have the Volcano Exploration Truck, and I'm thrilled that he had a good experience doing some work and seeing a reward for it.

(In other Lego news, I picked up a bulk lot today - over 1000 pieces for $25 is a pretty sweet deal - and now we have over 7000 pieces...  But it gets used!  A lot!)

Another reason I was proud of N is that he didn't really want to go to school.  At all.  He wanted to skip every class before it even started.  But Tuesday after lunch he got ready with no fuss and when we got there he told Mrs. Palero that he was excited about what they were going to be learning!  Whew.  I was not looking forward to school being a fight.  And today was a bit the same - "I don't want to go" followed by "I had an awesome time."

And number three:  He got his 4 year immunizations yesterday (after ToysRUs and before he put the set together ALL BY HIMSELF).  He was distracted by the Lego box while we were waiting, but didn't make a fuss at all and chatted up the nurse who was suitably charmed and said he was a great communicator and was so ready for Kindergarten already.  He even counted her down to the shot and said it didn't hurt much.  He is ornery about a lot of things like school and going for this shot and eating lots of food, but comes around in the end and does just fine.

Except for pants.  This summer he only wore camo shorts and it looks like this fall only fuzzy pants will do.  Fleece lined.  Sigh.  We pick our battles...

Oh, and he is 97th percentile in height and 97th percentile in weight.  Very proportionate.  :)

Monday, August 15, 2016

One Sweet Day

A week or so ago we went camping for a week with family - besides us, there were two grandparents, two uncles, two aunts, and five girl cousins.  We had a great beach morning the one day, but when we went back the next morning, Gramma, who had rented a stand up paddle board for the day and beat us down to the beach, said it was pretty yucky...

So we all hopped in Uncle Kevin's boat and went to the other side of the lake, where we found a stretch of un-peopled beached and made ourselves at home.  It was awesome.

We all got a chance to play around on the paddleboard and swim in the warm shallow water.  Then we took the boat out for some tubing.  Nolan loved it.

There was also some swimming off the boat, kneeboarding, and some wakeboarding.  Nolan even tried kneeboarding, but wasn't quite heavy enough to keep the nose up to get going.  Next time!

Camping.  So good.  Nice to make fun memories with family, too.

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.