Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year in Review and Looking to 2014

Hi All,

This past year was dubbed "The Year of The Challenge/ Firsts/ Just DO It".  Was it a success? Yes and no.
Yes because I did accomplish some of the things I set out to do and no because I totally flopped on other things.

Yes: I finished that marathon!  Woo Hoo.  Bucket List item checked!  I did the time I wanted and I placed  3rd woman.

Yes: I used some new items from the grocery store I've never used before like Portabello mushrooms, Tahini and Greek Yogurt.

Yes: I finished one of the quilts I've meaning to complete.

No: Totally flopped on my resolve to complete every recipe from the Looney Spoons Collection Book.  I did however complete 137 out of 365 recipes.

No: I didn't compete in that triathlon but I did however check it out and watch so that I'm mentally prepared for this coming year.

No: I didn't complete the other two unfinished quilts I started so long ago.

This year I've dubbed "The Year of Order".  A few days ago I finally purchased the Power of Productivity Program from

I've watched all her videos on YouTube and have applied many of them to my home.  They work and I enjoy watching them.  I've been thinking about her program for a while now and when she offered it for half off I finally jumped in.  I'm so glad I did and am excited for the year to come.  

She recommends doing quarterly goals and that's just what I'm going to do this year.

I plan on completing many projects this year including; a rag rug, two quilts and painting the kitchen cabinets. 

Very excited and looking forward to 2014.  How about you?


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Hi All,

Wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas filled with Peace and Love. Remember, you can't spell Christmas without Christ so please keep Him at the center of it all.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advent 2013

Hi All,

So I thought I'd share with you how we're celebrating advent this year in our household.  Like I have done in previous years, our Advent wreath is made with window crayons (bought from Michaels) but this year it's being displayed from our front window so the whole neighbourhood can see.

I love "lighting" the candles each week.

Update: I just realized I drew 3 pink and 1 purple!  It's supposed to be 3 purple and 1 pink.  Silly me.

Also, this year I made a new Jesse Tree using a printout from here.  I cut out a circle and glued it to the lids from those juice containers.  I knew they'd come in handy some day.

I wrote the date on the back and glued a magnet strong enough to support the weight of the lid.  My front door is metal so I drew a tree there using the same Window crayons from the wreath.

Each day we'll read a poem of that particular story from a toddler bible.  I tried reading from the actual bible, but it was long and the kids lost focus.  I'd recommend using the kid stuff with bright pictures to keep their attention.

Happy Advent!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

I'm Back

Hi All,

You miss me?  Well, whether you did or didn't, I'm back.  Now, I'm not back blogging every week.  To tell you the truth, part of the reason why I left, besides my other reasons, was, I was reading other blog posts from other bloggers on how to have a successful blog.  Some reasoned "you get out of it what you put into it", others say that just blogging when you feel like it won't get you anywhere.

I felt pressured to blog every week, and well, that was exhausting.  Not that I actually blogged every week, but even just trying to, uuggh. Also, I was in a funk.  Thoughts like "Are my ideas really all that great?" or "Who really cares what I accomplish anyway?" plagued me.

On my hiatus, I reflected on my motivation for blogging.  For me it was a source of accountability.  Knowing yourself and what makes you tick can help you greatly in life.  I knew, for some things I needed accountability in order to successfully accomplish some goals.  Usually, when you say that you're going to do something, out loud, to people, you tend to do them.  I need to get back to that.

So what now?  Well, I try again, not because I want my blog to be "successful" by the blogging world's standards but because I want to keep track of what I do.  Sometimes we can go through a whole day, week, month and think "I haven't accomplished anything!". This could be a way to remember what I actually do.  And maybe, just maybe, my ideas may help motivate or inspire someone else.

So although I may not be back every week, or two weeks even, I'll be here, blogging when I feel like it whether I'm "successful" or not.


P.S.  If you want to know when I throw a thought or project around, sign up for my email updates on the right hand side.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Taking A Break

Hi my name is Christina and I am a quitter.

I don't start something intending to quit.  No one ever does... I hope.  It's just the pressure-cooker that is my life is squishing me.  I quit homeschooling this year and that did alleviate some of the pressure which has allowed me to breath a little easier.  But to replace that I have taking up Running races and I also signed up for pastoral care at our church. I've also been trying to set up an Etsy shop for my pipe dream of having my own business.

You see, I get on these tangents.  I get so excited and announce to the world I'm gonna do this or that.  Remember that Looney Spoons Challenge?  I even emailed the authors announcing to them what I was gonna do.  I'm like that parable of the foolish builder Luke 14:28).

 If life would have a great big "I Quit" button I would have pressed it many times over.

What I need to do right now is to step back and reevaluate my priorities.  I am trying to balance so many things: My faith, my husband, my children, my home responsiblities, and the added, racing, blog, business, volunteering, hobby and friends.

I can't even keep up with the house work.  I'd like for my husband to come home and not ask "what's that smell?".

In order to be a good mother and wife you need to place your family first and sometimes at the expense of your own hopes and dreams.  'Cause really, this life is not what you accomplished but the relationships you have and the work you put into those.  The most important relationship being our relationship with Jesus.

Something's gotta give and I don't want to make it my family.  So I'm taking a break from this blog.  For how long?  I don't know.

Yes, my name is Christina and I am a quitter.....for a time.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Loose Recipe Organization

Hi All,

Today I'd like to share with you how I corral my loose recipes. I have only a couple recipe books in which I get the majority of my recipes from.  But occasionally I print some off that I find on Pinterest and  If a free magazine comes in the mail and there's a recipe in there, it gets cut out and put into my recipe binder.  Or if I find a recipe in a book I get from the library, I copy it and print it off.  You get the idea.

My Recipe "Binder" is no binder at all.  It's a photo album.  Yup, those pockets for pictures are perfect for holding loose paper.

I divided each section with Repositionable Filing tabs and my Labeler.

Now when I want to use a recipe I just pull it out and use a magnet to attach it to the exhaust fan.  It's right where I can see it at eye level.  Perfect.

There you have it.  Simple, easy peasy.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Our Backyard Garden

I thought I'd document our garden we have in the yard before harvesting soon.

It's not a large garden but we're just learning.  We expanded actually.  Last year there was only a rectangle. This year we added a square which now makes it a V-Like garden bed.  The garden bed itself was super simple to make.  They're just cedar 2x4's and some simple brackets.

 Actually, I should give credit, where credit is due.  My husband has the green thumb.  This garden is really his initiative.  Me and my taste-buds are along for the ride.  I am learning along the way too.  I planted the carrots so that I can cross off "grow my own food" from my bucket list.

Here's the close-ups:

Loose leaf lettuce.  We've been getting a lot from this.  In fact some of the lettuce we bought from the store went bad because I really didn't need it due to all this foliage.  I must remember not to buy veges from the grocery store that we're growing already.  

Our lone cucumber.  Last year we had a good crop.  This year though half the plant died and this is the only one.  Oh well, it's something at least.

Jalepeno Peppers.  We have many of these.  Can't wait to make some burgers with these bad boys.

Green Peppers.  We have a couple plants with a few peppers growing.  They're so cute aren't they?

Ahhh Carrots.  So delicious and crunchy.  Last year's crop was so little and small.  This year we've had so many.  And they're big.  See the big gaping holes from some being pillaged already?

Yup, some crunchy goodness right there. 

Our broccoli didn't turn out.  As you can see.  It bolted due to the heat, right along with our spinach.  The spinach grew so tall we had to uproot them.  I think we'll plant them later on in the season?

This is the view from the back.  We have plenty of tomatoes growing too.

 And then on the corner of our deck we have some lovely flowers to enjoy.

That's it.  We've had a great summer here.  


Saturday, August 24, 2013

No-Cost Yearly Planner

Hi All,

I keep a year-at-a-glance planner in my purse.  Yet I rarely use it.  You see, I don't go out much.  I'm a homebody and prefer a low-key life.  Nope, no play dates planned for the kids, no weekly social gatherings, not much of anything going on really.  So it's no wonder I rarely used a planner on-the-go.  I don't really need to keep track of appointments etc.  'cause, well, my life is rather subdued.

But that might all change this September (since I'm no longer homeschooling).  I'll need to keep track of kids birthday parties, swim lessons, special school events and such.  For that I will need a planner-on-the-go so that I don't overbook.  I've searched for something to my taste.  I've seen plenty of pretty outside covers but I really don't need all that space to write in for daily to-do's. I have another system for that which I will post about later.  I like seeing the whole month-at-a-glance but I also want space for goal setting.  I haven't come across what I'm looking for so I set about to make my own.  And I did for zero dollars.  That's right, nada moolah.  That $30 I spent last year for my rarely-used planner was such a waste.

Here is my no-cost planner.

What I used.

-Cardboard for cover (cereal boxes work great for this)
-Scrapbook paper to cover if you'd like
-Calendar pages
-Hairband and button (optional) 
-3 binder rings, key rings or even yarn (not pictured)

If you chose to use the button closure, then staple the hair band to the back.  I made sure the staples went through the hole of the hairband as well as on because if it is just on the hair band it may slip out with use.

 Next, glue the paper to the cover.

Next, hole punch your papers and cover, sew on your button and put in your rings.

As you can see from the next photo there is room on the left to plan any goals or projects you have for that week as well as room for any monthly goals (projects) you may have.

Here is the link for all of my calendar pages that you can print off for your own goal-setting monthly-calendar planner. Calendar Pages (Print page 1 when prompted, I don't know why there is an extra little bit on page 2, sorry about that)

There you have it.  Your very own zero-cost planner.  Plan away.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Non-Wobbly Ikea Copycat bench

Okay, since my last post I've been working on the Ikea copycat bench.  I am happy to announce it is not wobbly anymore.  Even my kids say "ooohhh it doesn't wobble anymore".

All it needed was an added brace.  In order to do that I had to cut an inch from each of the three cleats.  I also wasn't pleased with the spacing of the boards for the seat so I amended them too.

So here is the new and improved bench.

You can see the added support on the back.  It also makes it look more complete.

The spacing is even.  Woohooo!

I've made amendments to the supply list in the last post.

Now I think St. Joesph would be pleased.  Off to figure out what colour to stain.  Hmmmmm.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ikea Kitchen Bench Copycat

Hi All,

I built something.  With wood.  Yup, me with tools.  If anyone had been watching me fumbling around, and revving my drill, they got an eye-full.  Hilarity at its finest.

But we needed a bench and the one from Ikea would have been too big for our table and $120, I DONT THINK SO.  So I decided to build our own for $10.

I based the design off of the Ikea Norden bench:


These are the pieces I used:

(amendments are made in red to add further support)

For two of the cleats, the bottom brace and the braces I Kreg jigged them using my mini Kreg jig.  Then it was just a matter of assembly.

I don't know whether to be joyful or totally ashamed.  There are so many crooked areas, the gaps aren't even and I didn't have the right screws for the top and used drywall screws.

It's my first build and I learned a lot on the way.  I learned that a mitre saw might need to be in my future (I used a primitive method called ....a saw), a kreg jig is a cool little jig, measure, measure, measure and I also learned that building is fun!

One more look.

Now I can get more than two tushies on one side of the table.

Amendment:  Since building this I've decided "totally ashamed" should be what I'm feeling. Saint Joseph would not be proud. The wobbliness is due to lack of support and a couple more braces should be added.  I will fill you in once the new and improved bench is made and stained. 

(Updated bench post found in this post)


Sunday, August 4, 2013

It's All in the Bag

Hi All,

Let me give you the run down on the evolution of my purse.  When I was a teen and BK (before kids) I used to carry a fanny pack!  A fanny pack!

But it was over one shoulder across my chest like the cool kids wore it, okay people.

Next I moved on to an over the shoulder little purse I found on the side of the road.  It just sounds like it's getting worse doesn't it?

After that I had kids, so of course I used the free diaper bags and backpacks Nestle sent in the mail.  When I realized you really don't need a diaper bag and can use a purse, I bought one from WalMart.  Oh ya, moving on up.

After discovering that the quality sucks big time (big surprise there) I thought "What if I bought one from a REAL store?  One that specializes in bags?"  So off to Bently I went.

It worked....For awhile.  It was cute, but the lining was horrible.  I've lost many things in the abyss between the lining and the outer purse.  So disappointing.  More money doesn't always mean better quality.

I had it.  I guess I just had to make a new purse myself!  I found this great free pattern and a video to boot, from Anna Maria's collaboration site with Janome.

Technically it's a bag, a tote bag to be precise but it's works and is adorable.  It's makes me happy just looking at it.

The only difference from the pattern is, I added pockets. I sewed it to the lining before I sewed everything together like so:

Now everything has it's place, just like I like it, and need it. The only thing I wished I'd done was interface the pockets.  They're a little floppy.

There you have it.  The latest in the evolution of my purse.  It's evolved into a masterpiece if I may say so myself.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Why I Quit Homeschooling

Hi All,

I'm writing this post to let those who have tried homeschooling, and for one reason or another decided to send their children to school, that they are not alone.

To set the stage, our oldest daughter went to Kindergarten alternating days, full days.  Then for grades one and two I homeschooled her.  I also homeschooled my next oldest for Kindergarten and grade 1 simultaneously.

Now, this coming year I have decided to send them to school, or as I'd rather put it, I decided to delegate the academics to the public school.

During this deciding time I turned to the internet to see if there were others with this same mindset.  I googled "quitting homeschooling" and all I seemed to find was homeschoolers who are having one of "those days" and they feel like homeschooling, or others who are trying to encourage those who want to quit to keep going. If you want encouragement to keep going, stop reading.  There are plenty of other blog posts supporting that decision.

No.  This blog post is to say I QUIT.  That's it!  Enough!  I've had it!  It wasn't a matter of praying more, or that I'm more selfish than others or me not following God's will.  God does call others to homeschool and I will not deny that.  I felt that He was calling me the beginning.  But now?  I have no calling either way.  The truth is, sometimes a lot of the big decisions in our life are largely up to us.  The point is trying to do our best for God's sake.  Doing it the best that you can do for Him.  Whether it's becoming an accountant or a teacher, marrying this person or that one, homeschooling or public school.  Be the best person you can be to give God glory in whatever you decide.

I'm stopping because I'm not truly convicted of my reasons to homeschool in the first place.  What were my reasons anyway?  Did I really believe I could teach my children better than the teachers who have gone to school for this particular purpose in the first place?  No, I have no other education other than my High school diploma and learning in the school of Life (I'm not saying that those who have no post-secondary can't homeschool).  Did I think I could pass my faith on better at home that with them at school?  No, I think I can do it just the same.  Did I think that with my children around me All day Every day was better for them or me?  Nope.

I'm looking forward to this coming September, not so that I can "send my children off" as if I'm expecting the teachers to raise my children eight hours of the day.  I'm looking forward to this September so that I can be a better balanced Mother, instead of this tyrannical teacher I've played for the past two years.  I'm looking forward to this September so that I can play with my younger children while the older ones are learning at a great school.  I'm looking forward to welcoming my older children off the bus with the wind back in my sails.

Yes, if you were once a homeschooler and decided to delegate the learning to the public schools, you are not alone, you are not a failure, you are not even a quitter.

The point of being a good parent is doing what is best for your children whether that's teaching them at home or sending them to school.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jazzing Up a Store-Bought Cake

Hi All,

My young son just turned 5!  Boy, where has the time gone?  Usually I make the cake but this time I opted for easy and bought a plain vanilla cake from the grocery store.

Since this cake was for a birthday, it needed a special touch for my boy.

So this is how I decorated a plain store-bought cake.

Most stores will add writing for free, so that was the first step.

I've seen bunting as a cake topper online.


But my son wanted a superhero cake so I made a Superman style bunting.

First I needed to make a template of the Superman Emblem. I googled it and clicked on images.

Then I pushed my laptop screen all the way back and VERY GENTLY traced.

I made a couple stars as well.  Cut them out of cardstock and tape to some yarn.  I ran out of bamboo sticks but had chopsticks.  So I used those instead.

Next you just add some small figurines and candles.

There you have.  Low cost with big effect.


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