Friday, October 31, 2014


I always seem to pull this out last-minute, but we did get it done again this year, and on time! That is, the night before Hallowe'en! I managed to find a night where we had nothing else on and we were all well enough to participate and snuck it in after dinner. That meant having to cancel a coffee date with a friend, but it's been so incredibly busy and stressful lately that I just needed a night in with family time. It also meant late bedtimes for the kids, but they didn't mind!

I was impressed with this year's creations.

First we had to remove the tops, then scoop out the guts. The kids didn't mind that part this time; they are growing up! 

  (shaking out all of the goo!)

 Then they made their designs with markers. The Youngers needed some help and encouragement with that, but they were all excited with their faces, especially since Kai drew for them!


 (Abi decided to go a more detailed route and drew a chibi Princess Anna!)

Then we got to carving!  The kids got these pumpkin kits as take-home gifts from their cousins' birthday party (which I thought was pretty clever), so they were excited to pull them out and use. 

 Even Eden had a go at her pumpkin with the serrated knife. Yes, I am a dangerous Mom!  (I hadn't been too bothered with the other kids using knives on their pumpkins before, as evidenced here, but for some reason this little girl made me nervous! eek!)

 After I finished our pumpkin, I mean *her* pumpkin, Eden wanted to add some more details to it. She would still be colouring it if I hadn't taken away the marker and put her into the bath! Those dry erase markers don't stay on pumpkins, but end up giving kids (and Moms) green hands!

 (Abi even helped out Rhys with his carving.  I love my kids and their willingness to help eachother out!)

The finished products:

 (Eden is quite excited about her moustachiod man!)

(Rhys and his ghosty guy!)

 (Bryn had fun with his uni-brow? cyclopes?)

(Kai and his sly-looking fellow! So cute!)

 (Abi's Princess Anna, from Frozen, turned out great!  too bad I couldn't get a good picture with her beside it!)

It's neat to see how their talents are growing in pumpkin carving! 

At school, Kai's grade 6 class held a fundraiser for their sister school in Gondo, Africa. You could decorate a pumpkin for just $5 during lunch recess, and the proceeds went to towards building a playground at the school.  Kai had fun with his! I love all of the toothpicks, and the moustache!

His impressed others too as he won first place (there were 5 winners) Not too bad!

It was a good day all around!

Have a fun and safe Hallowe'en, whatever you are doing!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Welcome back to Thankful Thursday, a feature started by Louise at Talk Nerdy to Me, where we look back over our week to remember our blessings.  It is so good to see the good things that have happened, especially if you have had a particularly tough week. Being grateful is good for the soul. Here are just a few things that I am thankful for.. 

1. nephews

I have babysat them a few times this month and I love that I get to do that one-on-one. I want them to know me and to have fun with me and for us to have a good relationship growing up. Right now, I am loving their cute baby/toddler selves. They really do make me smile.

 (Eden had to hold Micah on her lap at Thanksgiving. haha. so cute!)

I am especially thankful that this week, when I was there, Micah didn't cry this time! Maybe he is warming up to me now?

2. dinner parties

Every year my husband makes a huge dinner for all of our family and friends to celebrate my birthday. We had 11 children under 13 (including my own) and 13 adults (including myself and Hunny)  I love getting together with everyone! It's crowded and loud and busy...but so wonderful and full of love! I love that my Hunny makes my favourite meal (spaghetti and meatballs, yeah I'm pretty basic!) for everyone. He thrives at this. I am so blessed and so thankful.

3. cookie decorating

I didn't know I could do it, but I managed to learn how to decorate cookies from a professional...and they turned out pretty good too! It was a fun class!

4. Parent Teacher Meetings

We had our meetings this week for the Middle School. Unfortunately, I had to navigate them alone since Hunny was sick. I don't know if that is why the meetings went faster or if there really wasn't much to talk about. Both the Olders are doing well. They need to work on math skills and homework and presentations, but I would say that this year is much better than last year! They are actually enjoying their teachers and classes and that makes me happy!

5. bday messages

Even if it is only because FB reminded them, I loved reading all of the messages left for me on my wall to wish me well on my birthday! There's something touching thinking that people took the time to post something. I am thankful for my friends and my acquaintances and my on-line friends.

(my sister-in-law made this leaf rose bouquet for me. I'd seen it posted on FB this month and was curious. Didn't they turn out great?)

6. cozy blanket

I got this super soft and cozy blanket for my birthday from my mother-in-law that I love. It is so nice to curl up into, and I am not sharing it! (or at least, I am trying to keep it away from my kids. They like to take things!)

7. antibiotics

After our big dinner, my Hunny started to feel sick, with it gradually getting worse and settlig into his lungs. He went to the clinic on Monday and was diagnosed with early stage pneumonia! The funny/sad thing is that he had guessed that too! I figured it was just a chest cold! So I am very thankful for our medical system in Canada and that he was able to go on antibiotics for it and that we could afford the huge pills. He was off work almost all week, but managed to get himself back today, which is also a blessing.

8. BSF Fellowship

A few times a year, our little group gets together outside of our Bible study mornings for a Fellowship. I didn't get to make it to any of them last year, but since we held it in the evening I could this time! It was a lot of fun. I really feel that this group is a good fit for me and that I am learning a lot from these women and from our study. If you are available on Thursday mornings and can make it to Cloverdale, there is room for you at BibleStudy Fellowship.

9. bday parties

Not mine this time, but for my boys! One of the fun things about school is the chance to be invited to birthday parties of classmates, and Rhys has been able to enjoy that this year. He's already gone to two parties this month! He is loving it! And I am excited that he is included and has friends and can be a part of the group parties!

10. my own Chibi

Abi loves to draw and she has taught herself how to draw Chibi characters. They are so cute! She has made many of the Disney Princess and fairy tale ones for friends and made me my favourite character: Belle. She's so cute!

What are some things you are thankful for this week?  If you start your own list, I'd love to hear about it! Being thankful for the things in our lives really does change you. You develop a peace and joy starts to grow, and that is much better than being stressed or worried when the hard parts of life weigh on us.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

food bank needs

I came across this on FB and I knew that I wanted to pass it along blogland too.  It was a list of the Ten Things Food Banks Need But Don't Ask For, as compiled by users.

1. Spices
People who rely on the food bank eat a lot of KD, rice, canned food. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to kick those up a notch with spices?

2. Feminine Products
As a woman, I must say that these are needed items. As being in a family on a tight budget, these items sometimes can get missed in your shopping cart. If you can, add an extra box of pads or tampons or liners to your cart and to the donation bin.

3. Chocolate
Everyone eats it, right? We all want it and we all seem to be able to add one (or two or more...) to our own shopping. Why not add a bag of chocolate chips or a brownie mix or even just a small bar?

4. Toiletries
I couldn't imagine having to go without tooth paste, deodorant, shampoo or soap. I ran out of toilet paper once and it wasn't pretty in my house (I think boys eat the stuff when they are in the bathroom so long!) but I could at least run down and grab some more from the store. 

5. canned meat and jerky
We all need protein; Tuna, Salmon, heck, even spam! It's hard to get meat in some places.

6. Crackers and Tortillas
Everyone likes them and they don't go bad.

7. Baby Toiletries.
These are seriously expensive! But a new mom shouldn't have to debate on whether to feed her family or her newborn. So pick up those diapers, formula, wipes, rash cream, bottles, shampoo and soap!

8. Soup Packets
I love those Lipton soup packs and am always making homemade soup here, and I remember my Great Grandma's homemade soup after church. You can make a whole meal with just a package of soup!

9. Socks
The feeling of warm, clean socks can do amazing things to people. It is a warm hug and hope wrapped up in cozy fibres!  I read on the Reddit thread from a former homeless person that he couldn't often go into stores shoe-less, but if he went in with just socks, no one noticed he wasn't wearing shoes.  (hey, maybe shoes are an option to donate as well, in that case)

10. Canned fruit other than pineapple
I guess pineapple is a standard donation! Apparently people who use the food bank are a lot like others who appreciate variety in their diet; like peaches, mandarines, apricots, etc.

I admit that I hadn't thought much of what to donate or what would really and truly bless others in need. I will pick up those pre-packaged food bags that Safeway or Save On will have available and donate those, or I'll even add $2 to my order that gets donated to the Food Bank when asked, and I'll throw in a few cans to my kids' backpacks when they do drives at school...but sat and thought about it? Can't say I gave it much thought, sadly.  How about you?  Adding just a few small items to your cart each trip will make a big difference to those who are in need.  

Let's start up a challenge! See how many items you can donate to the Food Bank this season from this list. It doesn't have to be all at once (but that would be wonderful too!) But maybe each week, add one thing ....spices the first week, socks the next, deoderant the next week and so forth....  Can you image how much change you can make to your community if a group of us did this? With Christmas season fast approaching, think of how you can bless another family.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

cookie decorating 101

My sister is friends with a woman who decorates cookies for a business, and man, they are so beautiful!  I am often drooling over the pictures she posts on FB. (check out FROST) So imagine my excitement when Andrea (the owner/operator of Frost) posted that she was starting up home classes! For $30, you would learn some techniques and decorate cookies with royal frosting in one sitting! I was all for it!

My sister scheduled her class this past Sunday, where 6 of us gathered together for some fun.

I admit to feeling totally unsure of my abilities! I'm sure most of us did, but I was convinced that I would really stink at this! After all, everyone else seemed to have some sort of knowledge of icing and decorating and such. My extent of knowledge comes from buying a can of the Betty Crocker icing and spreading it with a butter knife over my crappy attempts at cupcakes! I don't even bother making cakes; if I need one for a birthday party, I beg my mother-in-law to make something for me!  Put icing into a bag? Different types and sizes of tips? Are you kidding me?  

Despite that, I did manage to fill up my practice sheet just fine. The more I practiced, the more confident I felt! Andrea was really good at encouraging you and offering advice. She was patient and really did think we could all accomplish what she was going to teach!

The class was a lot of fun! We learned how to fill and do wet-on-wet (seen below) and most importantly, fix mistakes!

The one cookie she was having us decorate was the cat, and I thought it looked like the easiest one to make out of all of them, but in the end I think it was the trickiest. Mostly because as we were outlining our poor kitty, most of us forgot to add the arch in the back (which Andrea tried to convince us that we didn't need to do, but who was she kidding? Of course we all wanted our cookies to look just like hers!) and then there was the neck and ears...that's the part I messed up. Dang!

If you looked at my poor kitty from the wrong angle, you wouldn't know what it was!  I had to add eyes and whiskers to make it look more 'cat-like', and even that made it look demented! Haha. Still cute enough, though!  (until I smudged the leg as it was drying, oops!)

Heather's cat was the cutest! In the end, I wished I had copied hers (since it was too late to follow Andrea's cat!) She named him Garfield. (she did awesome on her others too, as seen in the picture below)

The funnest one to make was the skull. Andrea made it look so easy, but man, those eyes!!! The wet-on-wet (I think that's what she called the technique) seemed easy, but hard to predict the icing spreading and growing into the eye ball and the pupils being off and such, and black icing isn't very forgiving if you make a mistake! But it was the one that made us all laugh the most at our attempts!

We made 6 cookies but decided that it was a long class to make that many. We were running out of time and most of us had to rush home to kids and dinner. An evening class may be better. Or we suggested having less cookies to learn.

I wished I had taken a picture of Andrea's sample cookies, but maybe comparing mine to hers aren't the best idea! I thought mine turned out just great for a newbie! As they sat and dried, they actually began to look better too. (my bat was done last, and was more rushed, since I had to leave)  I think I liked my spiderweb and skull the most.

If you are in the area, definitely consider hosting Andrea in your home for a cookie class! It was a lot of fun, and she really is interested in teaching you so that you can take these techniques home for your own cookies and cakes (or whatever else people decorate). She gave us a technique sheet as well, but I forgot mine. Oops. Check out her website Frost Me Beautiful for her gallery (the ones that say Elijah on them were done for a friend's baby shower in the Spring!) and her pricing. 

I wanted to keep these cookies forever because they really were too cute to eat, but even after my own kids oohed and ahhed over them, they immediately wanted one! I made them wait over a day before giving in!  

We all declared them to look good and taste good too!

Monday, October 27, 2014

a solution?

I came across a shock tonight.  Not only did Rhys ask for some toenail clippers, but he sat on a chair and trimmed those nails for a good 20 minutes!  The boy who flips out, shrieks and squirms if anyone touches his feet (or even suggests it and looks at them) was actually sitting still and working so carefully!  I was impressed! And he asked to do this on his own!

Maybe this will stop the stress and anxiety of having to trim those for him. He hates to do it and they get so long that they start to scratch others and poke back into his own feet! 

It's a surprising start! He is growing!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fall Into Craft

This past weekend, Great Canadian Craft put on an event called Fall into Craft in Cloverdale, and tickets were free online up until a few hours before they opened the doors on the second day. So I snagged some tickets for myself and for Abi; and then a few days later, my sister got some for her and I to go! I was excited to check out the booths for ideas and I knew in advance that it would be a group of Artisans, so I was excited to check out what beautiful creations would be there. I also knew that meant that the prices would be higher, since the level of expertise of the exhibitors (these aren't someone just putting together fun stuff to make for the holidays but are independent businesses.) I would be going in without any money!

I was so impressed by the artists. There was a lot of jewelry and knit-wear (which is common in craft fairs), and a few home businesses (like Epicure Spices and HerStory Lockets), and even an Author promoting her book about her three-year backpacking trip around the world with her family (one book published already and another coming out.)  It wasn't terribly busy, so it wasn't crowded, which is good. (hopefully it was busy enough for the artisans)

I was the most impressed with West Coast Leslie Designs (I want.need a pair of her boot cuffs!) and Forest Garden Soap and Sundry (I couldn't decide which essential oil or product I wanted or needed the most...uhm...all of them?) and Paverpol (I want to take one of her classes!) and Laughing Sparrow, a silversmith (I want one of her square rings!!!) and Gurneev, a mehndi artist, and I loved the chocolate samples by Coco Nama (I need to pick up some of their Earl Grey chocolate, yum! So soft and melt-in-your-mouth) and I loved the wood signs and wreaths by Rainy Day Creations (I love their rustic booth! they interested me on a more personal and business side)  I loved chatting with many of these artisans. I wish I took more photos, but I got too busy checking out the booths!

I ended up not buying anything (although I really wanted to...a lot of these artisans came prepared with being able to accept credit cards and some debit cards!) but Abi did get some henna done by Gurneev.  She was quick and it turned out so beautiful.

I love it!!! I have always wanted to get a Henna Tattoo.

I had to take a picture of Gurneev's hand as well. I love the glitter she adds! (that does come off when it dries, but it looks nice and sparkly until then! Then it is a beautiful dye that lasts for a good two weeks after)

It was a good morning with my sister and Abi. I enjoyed it so much that I had to return the next day with another friend! (I snagged more free tickets online! It cost $5 at the door to get in)

 (Rainy Day Creations...look at those beautiful hand painted signs! And those wreaths! Lisa and Mindy were very friendly to talk with and meet)

I love creative people!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Welcome back to Thankful Thursday, a feature started by Louise at Talk Nerdy to Me, where we look back over our week to remember our blessings.  It is so good to see the good things that have happened, especially if you have had a particularly tough week. Being grateful is good for the soul. Here are just a few things that I am thankful for.. 

1.  Those who serve

I need to start off on a serious note, since it is so heavy on our minds, and on my heart.  I am so thankful for our soldiers, who serve overseas, who serve in our own country, who give themselves to keep each one of us safe. 

I am so heavy-hearted for Nathan Cirillo's family as they have to bury their son, brother, father, nephew, as he died while serving. It was supposed to be a relatively "easy job", standing guard and watching over the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, but that is where he was shot and killed, and the irony aches. Who kills someone at a National War Memorial? I mean, it's to memoralize those who have been killed in war. It's a place that is trying to show peace during heartache.

Thank you to all who do their job to keep the peace, but to those who also have to use force to protect us (like Kevin Vickers did). Thank you to those who dedicate themselves to keep us safe. Thank you to those who, with fear and pride, lend us your children, your spouses, your family, to stand for our country. Whether it be as a soldier, or law enforcement, or emergency responders, or intervention programs....thank you for being brave and standing up for the people.

 Everything after this may seem frivolous or too light-hearted, but I think that we can be thankful for the big and little things in our lives. It all matters.

2. Sleep-in Fridays

I am thankful in more ways than one for this! Our school (along with a few others) implemented a Late Start Friday to cut down on the Pro-D days they have. This gives the teachers time each Friday to prepare for what they need for an extra half an hour, and it gives some of us parents a chance to not have to rush. I like it! I set my alarm for 7:30 instead of 7am and it is nice! I am very thankful for that extra chance to sleep! 

3. Brunch Date

This week, I met up with friends who I haven't hung out with in a long time. We were all best friends in high school, but a move across the country, children, school, jobs, a move back home, family and every day distractions is what kept us from seeing eachother. I am so happy that we finally planned a date to rectify that!

I am also thankful that my friend picked up my bill as an early birthday gift! I wasn't expecting that! 

4. dessert

Abi has now started her Cooking class in Explorations (not that she needs a lot of instruction), so she had to make us Apple Puff Pancake one evening for dessert. It was really good, too! It's like a thick pancake, or an apple pie, maybe a little like yorkshire's hard to explain! (you can find the recipe here)

5. pumpkin patch invite

Bryn was invited out to the local pumpkin patch with his neighbour friend, Josh, and got to take home a nice-sized one. I thought that was so nice!

6. free paint!

I was in need of supplies for a few projects I am tackling right now, so I posted on FB asking if anyone had any paint they were willing to pass along. I was so thankful and happy that I ended up with eight 3-4L cans (some more full than others) from friends this week! All for free and all useable! Hooray! And all great colours! (people like to be able to get rid of things sometimes. Especially paint since it has to be taken down to a recycling depot for disposal, and that isn't always the place you go to on a regular basis!)

7.  Books

We head out to the library every few weeks and come home with a big stack of books to keep us busy; I was so delighted in one particular one. Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep by David Melling. I loved the story and the illustrations were awesome. We laughed so hard that we cried! Seriously! A herd of sheep are stuck to his back!!! And he sneezes the sheep out of the rabbit warren!!! HAHAHA.  Hugless Douglas is my new favourite kids' series!


8. mild sleep apnea

I got a call from the Respiratory Therapist with the results to my sleep test. (remember my lovely headgear that I got to wear to bed for two nights?)  Apparently, I have "mild sleep apnea". I'm not too sure what that all entails (because I never think of these types of questions when I'm talking to them at the time), but it looks like it doesn't effect me much. Which means that I don't need to wear attractive headgear to bed on a daily basis! Hooray! I am so thankful for that! He said that if symptoms get stronger (snoring and sleeplessness and fatigue) I should get another test done in 6 months.

9. testing siblings

I was so impressed and proud of my kids when I came home one night and found homework sheets on the table. 

Bryn has a test on his Mapping Unit on Monday, and he is a bit nervous as he's never had a "serious" test where he was told by his teacher to practice at home. (not to be confused with the weekly spelling or Bible memory tests he does that do not make him attempt to practice at home, haha) Abi said that she would help him out, so she actually went and printed up some sheets. There was the map of Canada he had to fill out, and graphs, and sample questions to answer! It looked so great! I was impressed with how much work she put into it (not so much with how silly B took it, though, from the sounds of it!)  She has a natural teacher's heart, and it is so wonderful to see!

10. A Stress Day Off

I am not thankful for stress... stress is a sign that I am taking on too much and not letting enough go and trying to do it all. It is not something that God intends me to have. Yet I still find myself bogged down with anxiety and stress sometimes. So I am thankful for the days that I cancel things easily and just rest a bit.

What are some things you are thankful for this week? Have you thought of starting your own list? If you do, share it with me, I'd love to hear about it. After all, "a thankful heart is a happy heart". (a bit of wisdom I learned from Veggie Tales and Mdme Blueberry!)
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