Sunday, 29 April 2007

Cute as a button

Chloe wanted to wear something different than usual to church today, so she picked a plain shirt and skirt, and then we added button hole decorations to her shirt. This is something I've done before with my girls for special occasions - hearts on Valentine's Day, Shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day, etc, but I like flowers the best. I can't remember if I first saw this in Family Fun or Martha Stewart Kids. The button in the middle works so well for the center of a flower. I tried to cut out the felt into a flower shape by using my Cricut, but it didn't work, so I cut out some amoebas by hand. Then I just clipped a small slit in the middle of each shape, and slipped a flower behind each button of her shirt.

Must See T.V.

Monday and Tuesday evening this week there is a special on PBS titled The Mormons. Click here for the preview.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

I am one with technology:

I can take pictures with my chocolate cell phone, and even better, I can get those pictures onto my computer!

The Corporate Retreat

We were off to a great start the first night of the corporate retreat. We arrived in the evening, and the buffet at the reception had ice sculptures! Chloe really knew what she was talking about with our report card buffet: sculptures are a must.

The next day while Ken was in meetings I participated in a ladies best ball golf tournament. It was my first time golfing, and my team mates were hesitant to coach me in any way, but I did learn how to drive the golf cart.

I also learned by observation that instead of first pushing the tee in the ground, and then balancing the ball on top, that it is smoother to put the ball and tee together in my hand, and use the ball already in place to push the tee into the ground.

I discovered a little contraption I'd never heard of: a ball washer. Apparently sand and grass can interfere with an *A* game, and golfers at that level need a clean ball. I washed my ball, but it didn't improve my golf game.

The second night was Western Night. We ate BBQ steaks, BBQ chicken, beans, and the like. Some of the managers at Ken's company are real cowboys, so this was their second night in cowboy hats.

The next day while the executives and managers were in meetings there was an organized hike for the spouses. The hike was beautiful, and we had a nature guide with us, which really improved my appreciation for the area. The resort personal trainer came along, and he cracked me up, because he seemed to feel very responsible for our welfare. He took up the rear, and when we stopped for breaks he'd do a head count. I felt like I was a kid at summer camp, only there wasn't a craft when we got back to the lodge.

These falls were just below our resort.

Above is the old 'bath house', and below are the old tubs for soaking in the hot springs.

( I spent plenty of time sitting in the modern hot springs pool with the other ladies)

These are my feet in a a paraffin wax pedicure treatment I received while I sat in a massage chair at the on site spa.

The third night was the anticipated 70's night. I had heels on, but so did Ken, and with that wig he was even taller. Once again, the cowboys wore cowboy clothes.

The last day was the mixed men's and ladies' best ball golf tournament. Later in the evening was a 25th anniversary celebration of the company, and the golfing awards. It was a more formal evening, and guess what cowboys wear for formal clothes? You got it: cowboys have a truly classic and timeless look. During the golf awards, my team won the highest score even though we had a guy on our team who had gone to college on a golf scholarship. Who's fault do you think that was?

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

That 70's Show

We're leaving soon for the corporate retreat. Jaclyn asked us to leave the camera behind so that Grandpa can take pictures of her at an awards ceremony on Thursday night. I'm going to try to figure out how to take pictures with my new Chocolate cell phone, but just in case the cell phone pictures didn't work out, I did a little SPT of my 70's outfit. Ken found it in a dress up box at a friend's house while he was looking for 70's clothes for himself. I am totally sucking in for this picture - polyester jumpsuits are very unforgiving. I'll be wearing control top hose under this outfit for sure!

Ken found some sweet 70's clothes for himself. The pants are brown polyester, and check out the platform boots! Ken remembers the wedding where all the groomsmen wore these boots with their baby blue tuxedos.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Around here recycling is Steven's chore with one exception: I recycle the paper. There are a couple of reasons I've hung on to this job myself. First of all, the paper needs to be taken to the community bins more frequently than the rest of our recyclables. Secondly, I don't want the kids to see everything that hits the paper recycling. A heavy amount of paper comes home from school on a regular basis, and I'm just not going to save every math booklet, and I don't want to negotiate with the kids over what stays in the house and what goes to recycling. So secret paper recyling is my most frequent earth saving (and clutter saving) action.

Though I feel that commercial industry has the greatest impact on the health of the planet, I do want to do my part. My favorite verse that helps me avoid waste is:

Fix it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or do without!

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Sewing up a storm

(Well, maybe not a storm - maybe more like light showers)

This picture makes sewing look like such a lovely pass time, which it can be as long as it's not mending. I read somewhere that asking a seamstress to do mending is like asking da Vinci to paint your fence. I'm not that talented of a seamstress, but the da Vinci painting a fence reference reflects how I feel about mending. This week I got to sew for pleasure.
___________________________________________________Carmen is playing the role of raggedy Cinderella in a classroom skit coming up. Another girl is playing ballgown Cinderella, because she has a Disney Store dress. Carmen took total responsibility for her costume. She cut up patches of fabric and sewed them on to her brown dress by hand. She thought sewing by hand would look more authentic for raggedy Cinderella.

I maybe need to work on finding a pail and scrub brush that are more authentic looking.

I also took on a sewing project of my own this week. It took me a day and a half, which makes me wonder how my mom got all the sewing done that she used to do. She sewed all of my clothes and all of the clothes for my two brothers closest in age to me (except their jeans, I think) until I was in 4th grade, when I got my first pair of store bought brown twill pants. Clearly with that much sewing to do, she developed some efficiency I lack in the sewing department.

I bought this origami fabric quite a few years ago, just before a local fabric store (Fanny's Fabrics) went out of business. I loved this print, but I wanted to use it for something special, so I stored it. I finally found the perfect pattern for this fabric - a kimono dress! Then began the search for the just right contrast fabric - I finally found the perfect japanese sandals fabric at Cias Palette (on my side bar).

I can't help myself with the self portraits these days, and look at all those pins! Using a solid mass of pins is the only way I know to get perfectly even gathers.

It took me half a day to cut out the dress, which sounds long to me and I was there. Then it took me a full day to sew it up. Ken wanted to calculate how much the dress is worth at my working hourly wage, but I wouldn't let him. I can't put a price on the satisfaction I got from completing this project I've been dreaming of for so long.

Carmen wore her new dress today (not with these shoes - we dug them out of the dress up box just for the picture). She looked so cute with her hair up in a knot held by a hair stick. I might try a chopstick next time, if she'll let me.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Mosaic Pictures

I was going through old posts on How About Orange (on my side bar) and I found this image mosaic generator. You've seen these mosaic images composed of many smaller images, well now you can have one of any picture on your hard drive. This is the first one I tried:

Click here to enlarge the image for more detail.

I like how this one turned out.

I've done a few more. I did one of Steven's hockey team when they won their tournament that I'm going to print and frame for his coach as a thank-you gift. What would be even cooler is if you could choose general themes for all of the smaller pictures that make up the mosaic, like 'sports' or 'nature'. I'm going to suggest on the Image Mosaic Generator feedback page.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007


Next week I'm going away on a corporate retreat with my husband. I have to go. Don't get me wrong, I think I'm going to have fun, but not going wasn't an option. I'm going to go play the corporate wife for a few days. Ken's in a new job, so I haven't really met the other executives' wives - but I keep picturing something like this:

So this week, if I had an extra $100, I'd probably spend it on something for the corporate retreat. Golf clothes? Oh, dear, you don't know me well enough, so I have to be clear: I am totally joking about these particular clothes. Look at that cap! Look at the golf cart on the sweater!

Maybe I'd take my hundred buckaroos and mosey on down to the nearest western store.

Buy me a cowboy hat for the western-themed evening on the retreat.

Or, plan 'C', I could blow the $100 at a thrift store to outfit myself for the 70's-themed evening. Well, maybe that wouldn't take the full $100.

I do seriously need to do some shopping before I go away next week. Which event do you think I should shop for?

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Practise makes Permanent

I was reading on Michelle's blog about the sticker chart she made for her girls, and it brought back a vivid childhood memory of having a sticker chart myself. I remember coloring a picture on the page and having 7 squares on the bottom of the page for my stickers. I don't know what I was supposed to do for a week, but I remember being so proud of my sticker chart.

I don't think I've ever done a sticker chart with my kids, which is strange considering what a positive memory I have of my own. I do have this picture, and if you click here it will open full size for you to print. Or not, I just tried it, and the image is too big. What did work, was I right-clicked the larger image to copy it, pasted it in a word document, and that sized it down to an 8 1/2 x 11. Try that. I've used it when working on difficult piano pieces with my kids. There are 50 faces waiting to have a smiley face drawn in to celebrate a success:

A piano teacher of mine once told me, "Practise doesn't make perfect, practise makes permanent!" It was a good message, much like this:

Who Am I?

I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do might just as well be turned over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed — you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people and, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a person. You may run me for profit or run me for ruin. It makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am Habit!
Author unknown

A habit I've been struggling to establish this year is practising the piano with my kids. I teach the younger 3 myself, and it is quite a challenge to be the teacher and the mom. I have no one to report to on my practising with my kids but me, and I haven't been disciplined with it. I"ve decided I need my own reward system, not so different from a sticker chart. After all, real piano teachers get paid for their work.

I have a Cricut machine, and I'd love more fonts and shapes cartridges, but the $90 is hard to part with. I've decided I'll pay myself a dollar towards a new cartridge every time a child practises the piano. I haven't made myself a chart, I'm just keeping a tally in my planner, but it is definitely working. We have had much more consistent piano practising around here since I came up with this idea. Carmen is very puzzled at how can I pay myself, and I can't seem to explain it to her, but she'll probably understand someday. Maybe when she's teaching her own kids piano.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Museum of the Regiments

We're on spring break this week, doing family field trips. On Tuesday we went to the Museum of the Regiments, which is one we haven't done before. The museum is organized by regiment, and each regiment gallery is organized chronologically. There was also a special exhibit honoring the 90th anniversary of Vimy Ridge. I was impressed with how current the museum was - there was information as up to date as 2006.

During our visit to the museum I learned about the role Canadian forces play in the removal of landmines. It was a Canadian company that designed and developed the spider boot to protect the feet and legs of mine clearance personnel from an accidental blast. Jaclyn commented that maybe the boot would save your leg, but it would still be frightening to detonate a landmine and have it blow a spider leg off the boot.

There were a few interactive displays for the kids:

Chloe flying a plane.

Chloe entertaining the troops.

Carmen in a bomb shelter within a life size replica of WW I trenches.

The truth is, the visit to the military museum was sobering.

Appropriately, there were many memorials.

Jaclyn came home and wrote a poem:

The Valor Remembered

War is the bravery to set people free -

The courage that beckons to millions like me.

The valor remembered.

The horror of watching a lone person die -

And knowing it will make many more cry.

The valor remembered.

The giving of innocent, unfulfilled life -

Giving to end all the turmoil and strife.

The valor remembered.

The saving of children, to grow up in peace -

The millions that help all the anger to cease.

The valor remembered.

The individuals striving to give it their all -

Making an army we later recall.

The valor remembered.

The saving of seperate, different race -

The bringing of safety to thoses who embrace

The valor remembered.

The deaths of their sons that made mothers then weep -

Their legacy, memory, and image to keep.

The valor remembered.

The nations that can hold their heads way up high -

The flags they unfurl against their bright blue sky.

The valor remembered.

Good Mail

Just this morning I packed up a good mail package, and I was thinking to myself, "It's so true that it is better to give than to receive." I was having so much fun thinking about this outgoing good mail arriving at its destination.

And then this afternoon, I found some good mail in my mailbox!

Kristi sent this fat free chocolate bunny and Easter card.

Kelly sent this cheerful Easter card, I love polk-a-dots. And on the inside she addressed it to the entire family, which they appreciated - why should mom get all the good mail to herself?

And Michelle sent this cute spring package with gardening gloves, and a crocheted daisy on those super strong magnets that will hold anything. I love the quote by Margaret Atwater, but my favorite part of her message is where she called herself a TEMPORARY fellow Canadien. So funny! And truly, from a cultural standpoint, with me in Alberta and Michelle in Quebec, we can hardly say we live in the same country.

One other good mail package I wanted to blog about came by personal delivery from a local friend. This friend of mine until just a couple of years ago didn't cook at all, and now she's continually setting cooking goals for herself. Her latest goal is to be able to make the best homemade pizza crust anywhere. She's been trying many pizza dough recipes, sometimes making pizza for her family 3 times a week, but hasn't quite arrived at the perfect crunchy/chewy crust. I gave her my advice (cook the pizza on a stone) and my recipe (which calls for semolina flour). She was intrigued by the special ingredient, and asked me about it. I had to confess that although I love my recipe, I've never gotten around to shopping at the Italian grocery to by the semolina flour, I've just been using regular white flour. She surprised me last week bright and early one morning with some semolina flour. I think she chose her early delivery just so that she could catch me still in my pajamas, and she did.