Friday, December 31, 2010

Hello 2011

On this, the last day of 2010 I find myself reflecting less on 2010, than looking forward to all that 2011 will bring. Some years I find myself making lists of the preivous year's accomplishments, other years I make a list of goals for the year to come. This year I simply have a few hopes.

:: I hope for health and strength, there are some difficult things that my family is dealing with currently, and will be going through early in 2011 and I hope that somehow we will find the strength to handle whatever comes our way.

:: I hope to spend more time with the people in my life that truly matter. Family and friends who have always, and will always, be a special and important part of my life. These past 3 years we have existed in a bit of a vaccume and I hope to break the seal this year!

:: I hope for creative outlets, both for my children, husband and myself. Sweetpea's current passions are drawing, sewing and cooking, Ladybug is still coming into her own but seems to like water paints. For me, I wish for a little more free sewing time. In 2010 I was so concentrated on my business that I didn't have much of an opportunity to do much personal sewing. This year with better planning I'm sure that I will get that time!

:: I hope to go back to school, but more on that later. (I have a B.A. in Sociology, but ask any sociology major where just a degree gets you...)

:: I hope to laugh. For me there is nothing better than to laugh, and I hope to do a little more of that is 2011.

And I hope that you have a blissful 2011! Wishing you a happy new year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Slow Down

Ah.... it has been a lovely 4 days at home with my family. My husband and I don't usually have a lot of down time together as my work day begins when the girls go to sleep. This is when I teach, sew, or catch up on emails and all that fun administrative stuff that comes from being your own boss. Christmas Eve and Christmas day were blissfully spent with family that we don't often get to see, and those that we see all the time. The only hitch was that my mom came down with what I affectionately dub the plague that we all had a few weeks ago and is catching upon Christmas via photos.

As I mentioned earlier we are very much a baby doll family and the girls have spent the last 3 days rocking their babies to sleep in their new cradles. Ladybug is starting to sing and can often be heard singing at the top of her little lungs"Rock-a-my-baby.. on tree top, my cradle will... ROCK". My heart aches a little.

To be honest I was a little concerned about how the craziness of Christmas morning, a house full of people and lots of new gifts would affect the girls (as in I was afraid of the screaming and tantrums that might result from a 20 month old and 3 year old not quite grasping fully the concept of sharing their new toys) but I was so pleased to find that they naturally shared brilliantly and Sweetpea relished the opportunity to teach her baby sister how to play with her new toys, rock her baby, and stack her new blocks. With the exception of my mom being sick (and she is by the way on the mend) I really couldn't have asked for a more beautiful long weekend with my famliy.

I will be in and out this week enjoying a little more family time, and a little less work time and I hope you can do the same.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Little Christmas Making

I'm not sure when or how it happened but somewhere along the line we became a "baby-doll" family. I mean a hard core, baby-doll family. Since day one I have tried to give the girls well rounded play opportunities: we have lots of books and puzzles, a play kitchen (that has been played with every day since they recieved it) and play tools, arts and craft supplies etc. and baby dolls. One day Sweetpea decided that her baby doll needed to be fed, changed, walked, rocked, sshhhhed and put down for naps (right about the same time that she noticed that I did these things for Ladybug each day) and she has passed this love for the baby doll on to her sister.

The girls have decided that our kitchen wash cloths really make the best blankets for thier babies. They are the right size for napping on the couch, riding in thier strollers, changing their bums (yes, they regularly change thier babies diapers) and cleaning up spit-up. I have noticed that our supply of wash cloths needs a little... attention. ahem (2 babies x 3 years of use = yuck!). So this year for Christmas the girls are getting a fully stocked drawer of new flannel washcloths for thier babies. I will simply switch over the wash cloth drawer and replace the old with the new, I have been aroud these girls long enough to know that if I were to actually gift these as 'baby blankets' they would never be used. I think part of thier fun is emptying the drawer.

Here is the update on Ladybugs quilt. I am piecing the top together tonight and wishing that I had a design wall or a large enough space to be able to lay things out on. I am aware that this photo is garbage but there is no lighting in my bedroom and no where else to lay out the blocks. Oh well.. my dream sewing room will have a design wall! I doubt if it will be ready for Christmas morning because baby girl is cutting teeth and I'm not getting much work time - but she won't noice if its a day or two late, I'm sure of it!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sweetpea's Birthday : Handmade Edition

Unfortunately there was not a lot of making for Sweetpea's birthday this year. I wanted to do more, however I was slammed with last minute Christmas orders for beebee buttercup and it became unrealistic to fit anymore into my already packed days (and our 3 weeks straight of sharing the stomach flu didn't help either!).

She did receive of course the pink princess birthday cake that she requested. I attempted to make somewhat of a copy of her birthday crown oh her cake, and she was quite proud of both of them.

I also made her a monogrammed library bag. I got the idea from this tutorial however I made a few modifications to suit our needs (namely making it square instead of round. I know that aesthetically it is more pleasing as a round bag but I figured that we would have some trouble with the large board books that the girls are so fond of checking out).
We are always misplacing our library books around here, so I wanted her to have a place that she could keep them between library visits. She is also very interested in checking out her own books at the library and now she can be just a little more independent in this by carrying her own books. She was quite excited. (The little pocket at the front can carry her card once she gets old enough to have her own). I made the straps a little long for her because I know that more often than not I will be carrying her bag to and from the library, but she really loves the idea of having her own bag.

I hope to share progress on Ladybug's Christmas quilt this week.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kobo E-reader: My new best friend

I have wanted an E-reading device since I first was introduced to the Kindle in December of 2009 while watching the Ellen show. Yes I was watching daytime tv, I am pretty sure that I was breastfeeding Ladybug and reading Sweetpea stories at the same time. I researched for the better part of this year and finally decided on the Canadian Kobo E-reader because it was important to me to be able to use my E-reader for library books (a function that the Kindle does not currently allow). I am an avid reader but cannot always get to the library, nor do I have the room in my house (or purse) for any more books so really the Kobo was a great solution.
Here are the facts:

The Kobo uses e-ink technology which basically means that you can read without glare, or the eye strain that is caused by reading from a back-lit computer screen. You can also choose from 5 different font sizes and 2 font styles.

The Kobo comes pre-loaded with 100 free, classic, out of copyright books. This for me was great as I love the classics, and was excited to have Jane Eyre, Little Women, and so many others at my fingertips. It can hold about 1000 e-books on it, but you can also expand the memory up to 10 000 books using a 32GB SD card (love that!)
The newest Kobo features USB and Wifi connectivity (however in my opinion it takes too long to search for books using the Kobo due to the fact that you can only navigate the on screen qwerty key pad using the 4 way directional button. I would rather wait and purchase my books from my computer).

The Kobo supports DRM Epub, PDF, and Adobe DRM files (which is why it is compatible with library books).
Battery life is 10 days or 10 000 page turns (according to the Kobo website)
No shipping/customs fees!!! (If you are in Canada)
The great:

Have I mentioned that I can take out library books??? I love that my Kobo does not limit me to either reading only free, out of copyright books, or purchased books.

Light weight and easy to travel with. I can toss my Kobo in my purse and have all of my books with me so I can read whatever I am in the mood for as opposed to what I brought with me. The convenience of the light weight design also means that I can comfortably read with a baby sleeping in my arms or hands free when I am eating or drinking a tea (without having to creatively prop open the pages of a book).

I love the e-ink technology, I can read for hours (after the girls are in bed for the night of course!) without eye strain, and if my eyes do get tired I can simply enlarge the font size. I can also read in sunlight (outside or in my favourite seat by the window) without a glare.
The not so great:

The Kobo website could use some improvement. I have often been frustrated with slowly loading pages, glitchy sales transactions etc. but all in all it does work - eventually.

I don't know if I really believe the stats on the battery life. In the first 2 weeks I had to charge my Kobo twice, but was around 800 page turns, not 10 000. Perhaps this was because I often left the device in sleep mode (however battery power is only supposed to be required when actually turning pages, or navigating through menus - I also have the wifi turned off). All in all the battery life is good, but I have to keep my eye on it.

My vote:
I love it! Really, I am so happy with my Kobo, the product is great, the customer service has been great and I am pleased with the selection of ebooks. I am confidant that the small glitches with battery life and the website will be resolved soon enough via. upgrades and new firmware downloads and certainly are not enough to make me even consider returning this product!

** please note that this is a non-solicited product review based on my experiences with a Kobo E-reader that I myself purchased in full. This review is based on only my own personal experiences*

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How My Mom Shaped Me

Today we are celebrating a very special day in our home. It is my birthday, but more importantly it is the day that I gave birth to our first daughter Sweetpea. Her birth was chaotic and challenging and a story left for another day but it was an amazing experience to share her birth with my husband and my mom when 24 years earlier my mom was experiencing the exact same thing.

Now Sweetpea is 3 years old and I find myself reflecting on the things that my mom did to shape me into the woman that I am, and hoping that I can do the same for my own daughter.

First and foremost my mom taught me to be kind. Not just say 'please and thank you' but really, truly be kind in actions, words and thoughts. I work on this daily to balance being kind and not being a push over and in the face of frustrations often have to remind myself as often as I remind Sweetpea to be kind.

My mom also taught me to work hard. I saw her from an early age going to night school and doing distance education programs to upgrade her education in the face of changing technologies. Never once did she complain about her workload or how after a full day of work, house keeping and parenting she then 'retired' to the kitchen table to work some more. She always told me that education is facinating, enriching and will take you further than anything else, it will open doors that you didn't even know existed. When I was graduating from highschool and applying to universities I was so worried because I didn't know "what I wanted to do when I grew up" and was afraid of "waising my time" with a program that wouldn't take me there. She always looked at me and said "Bonnie, an education is never a waste." She always encouraged me to follow my heart and my passion and this made me a much more well rounded and confidant person. She went from being a stay at home mom, to teaching at the local college to finding her dream job - and she fought tooth and nail every step of the way. She really has inspired me to do the same.

Most importantly my mom taught me unconditional love. She always kept it real. If I was being a pain in the butt, bossy or 'saucy' she let me know, and then gave me an example of how I could express myself in a more constructive way. She always had a fresh perspective on my problems and could help me work through them in a way that I was finding the answers for myself. And if there were no answers, she let me know that, that was ok - and then she held me while I cried.

There is so much that my mom did for me, and still does and if I can pass on a fraction of her wisdom and heart to my daughters I know they will be strong, capable and lovely women.

Monday, December 13, 2010

52 Books :: 52 Weeks back from Hiatus

I have been conflicted about keeping this blog going the past few months, do I have enough time, do I have anything worth saying etc. but in truth I have missed this blog. Whether I post daily, weekly, or once a month I miss the way this blog serves to keep track of my creative pursuits, the milestones in our family life and the things that are on my mind. With that being said I think that I am ready to give it another go so to speak. I cannot guarantee that I will be posting daily (I can almost assure you that will not be the case), but I will do my best.

On to some blog housework... The initial 52 books in 52 weeks challenge of 2009 wasn't a complete success, but wasn't a complete failure either. I made it to 32 tracked books, but I think there were a few in there that I didn't quite make it to blogging about.

The 52 books in 52 weeks challenge of 2010 however was an epic failure. Did I even track a book? I don't really think that I did. I certainly read in 2010, a lot, but did I keep track of it? No. So what has brought on this renewed interest in the 52 books 52 weeks challenge? I stumbled upon this library where Art Garfunkel has kept track of every book that he has read since 1968. Seriously? That is amazing! It got me thinking, will I remember in 5 years or 10 years what I was reading when I turned 27? Probably not. Literature is such an important part of my life and who I am, The circumstances of my life at any given time are most certainly reflected in the books that I read and how fabulous would it be to be able to look back on my life via. my books? This blog will not be a space where I will do the tracking however I do plan to share those books and authors who I feel a deep connection with.

For 2011 I am going to set myself a different kind of challenge. I want to push myself to leave my reading comfort zone and am going to join the National Book Club on the Everything Mom site. I recently found out about this book club via Devan at Accustomed Chaos and I'm really excited!