Friday, 31 May 2013

Round Stainless Steel Trays

On Sunday we had lunch at Mucho Burrito.  No Taco Bell for my husband; it has to be authentic!  And he's got a point. The tacos are delicious.  What I liked even better were the round stainless steel trays they use.  I wanted to take them home!  Since my thieving days began and ended when I was 9 years old, I decided to look around to find some to buy.  I haven't had any luck yet, but I'm still looking.

Target has a tiered dessert plate made of round stainless steel trays like this, but no plain trays.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

What I Wore...a Tablecloth?

One of my sweet friends gave me a pretty lacy shirt for my birthday.  It has bat-wing sleeves, and pretty edging, and is just adorable.  I put it on and my husband (whose style is classic and unchanging) asked, "What are you wearing, a tablecloth?"  Personally, I love how it looks on me, especially with the pretty mint-toned jewelry that my family picked out for me.

Shirt: farmers market
Tank: thrift store
Olive skinny jeans: Old Navy
Shoes: Aldo
Jewelry: Target
Also sort of visible: The garden that will soon be getting a makeover,
and my new blue mini-van to replace the rear-ended grey one.
Shades of green I'm wearing: Olive, Kelly, Mint, Pear, Lime, and Teal.  No Emerald though...I'm not that cool.
Oh boy, I'm in need of some lipstick.

pleated poppy

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Rebellion and Failure

Or, How and Why I Fail Everything I Try

I'm pretty sure I need therapy.  Somehow, I missed a few important lessons when I was growing up.  Such as, "Work first, play later," and any form of self-discipline, routine, or organisation.  In the past few years, I've tried different systems for fitness, healthy eating, budgeting, housekeeping, time-management, and parenting.

All have failed.  I can only stand restrictions for about three weeks before I rebel and do the exact opposite. I had the most success with The Game On! Diet book, but eventually, my sugar addiction and lethargy reasserted themselves.

I know my life will be so much better if I DON'T quit my efforts, but I, somehow, can't keep going.  It's like some kind of fatigue.  My mind rebels against the restrictions, and I start to feel like I'm being cheated out of whatever is restricted.  I can set up routines and systems and goals, and they work very well.  If I would only keep it up, it wouldn't take very long at all for me to feel like I could actually accomplish something.

When I started the Flylady thing this time, it was going so well!  I had my morning routine and before bed routine down pat, and I was working on my weekly cleaning chores, and I was excited about how nice my home looked.  Then I accidentally booked play-dates three mornings in a row.  Or was it four?  On the Sunday of that week, I was filled with anxiety.  I was afraid that with so much non-routine activity, I wouldn't be able to keep up with the success I'd been enjoying.  To no one's surprise, I was right.  That week, my routines went out the window.  And the week after, it was worse.  And the next week.  Etc.

I don't know what to do to fix myself.  At least I'm in good company with the Apostle Paul (who said something like, "I do that which I do not want to do, and I do not do that which I do not want to do"  I'd quote it exactly, but I can't remember the reference...anyone?).

All this makes me just a little bit terrified of my full-time work-at-home future...

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Garden Help from New House, New Home, New Life

This spring, once the snow finally melted in the front yard.  I looked at one of my flower beds and thought, "I need help!"  The bed was overrun with snap dragons and grass, with a few random perennials here and there.  Since it's an island bed, I had no clue how to make it look good.  It didn't take me long to decide who to ask for help.  Heather from New House, New Home, New Life is a fellow Canadian blogger.  She has a gorgeous garden of her own, and I knew she'd be able to help me figure out what to do.  Lucky for me, she agreed to help!  I can't wait to make use of her suggestions to make my front yard pretty again. ~Jo


First of all, I want to thank Joanna for allowing me the opportunity to help her with her garden even though it’s been done virtually. One day I would love to visit with Joanna and her darling family, but for now 2000 km separate us. Thank you Joanna for letting me is part of your wonderful blog. I so enjoy reading it!
Hi, I’m Heather from NewHouse New Home New Life where I blog about all things domestic. But at this time of year, it seems that my blog is about my main passion: gardening.

About a month ago, Joanna emailed me and asked if I could help her with a little garden project for her front yard. I was thrilled to think that someone as creative as Jo would want my help. Please keep in mind that I’m not a master gardener and have only ever really “designed” a couple of gardens other than my own. That and the fact that Joanna lives in a climate very different to my Southern Ontario garden made this an interesting and exciting challenge.

So she sent me a few photos of the existing space, which was still barren from the winter. Joanna had few criteria for me to work with: keep the existing trees and the brick as it was vintage and special to her, plus she would like to have things that bloomed later in the season. So after doing a bit of research on what would grow well in her Zone 3 climate, this is what I came up with:

I apologize for my awful hand-drawn rendition. I’m a gardener, not an artist. As Wynona Judd said after her wonderful performance on Dancing With the Stars “THIS is what I do”. I garden, I don’t draw.

This is a plan for Joanna to work with when laying out the garden. It includes the brick border that is already there, the existing trees and it is drawn to scale. In another version, I’ve drawn the garden as if you were looking at it from the street with everything in bloom.

Included in the plan are some of my personal favorites that provide good ground coverage to help retard weeds like the Carpathian bellflowers, some spring interest with the blue forget-me-nots and some all year interest with the peegee hydrangeas.
In the centre of the bed, I chose to put 3 Peegee hydrangeas to give some all year interest and height to the middle. They will stay about 3’ high, have terrific cone-shaped flowers that start out white in July and stay throughout the fall months turning into a great rusty red. Joanna can leave the flowers on all year or trim them back for a neater look. (I like to keep them on all year for some winter interest.)

Surrounding the hydrangeas, there are five Stella D’Oro daylilies. These daylilies are reblooming so there will be new flowers throughout August and into September. Hardy and easy to grow, these are a great addition to any garden. Plus the yellow will play nicely against the blue siding on Joanna’s house.

 Flanking either side of the front hydrangea bush are two Rudbeckia alba AKA white coneflowers. A native plant to Canada, the white blooms give the coneflower an unusual twist. The colour will complement the yellow of the day lilies and works well with the hydrangea. It grows about 2 ½ feet tall so won’t crowd the blooms of the peegee hydrangea.

Under the two existing trees, Joanna will need something that will provide some ground cover. I chose campanula as they are a small plant that will create a nice mound of blooms. Here it is in purple, but it’s really a lot bluer. Or Joanna can choose white. It’s also known as Carpathian Harebell. Don’t get confused with the ones you see in the supermarket in the spring – those are not meant for the garden and are just houseplants providing a shot of blue inside during the early spring months.

Finally, I’ve added forget-me-nots. A traditional flower that is hardy in most of Canada, this lovely fairy like flower never ceases to amaze me. It starts out so delicate and you think it will be nothing, but the flowers provide a light airiness to a spring garden. I know Jo didn’t ask for spring flowers, but I couldn’t resist. These should be planted between the bellflowers as they will fill any spaces quickly. 

Here’s a quick shot of one of my small gardens filled with forget-me-nots in bloom last week:

So Joanna, you’ve got some work to do. Don’t forget that when planting any flowers and shrubs to fertilize them – I like to use blood meal dropped right into the hole as you plant. Top-dress the garden with a dark mulch (please don’t use natural bark as it grays down and gives everything a worn look very quickly). I like to use a dark brown mulch (Scott’s has a beautiful one that we just used on our front gardens).

If you have any question, Jo, please let me know. And once again, thanks for this opportunity. I hope you have fun creating this garden. I certainly had fun mapping it out for you.


Thank you so much, Heather!  I love your drawings, they're adorable.  Once I get a chance to move the few perennials that are in the way, I will get started! 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Oilo Play Blanket Review and Giveaway

I don't have babies, but lucky for me, my friends do.  I get to cuddle them, and then give them back.  It's really a great arrangement.  I knew when I was asked to review a Play Blanket from Oilo that I would have no trouble finding babies to test it with.  My plan was to bring the blanket to the Moms' group I attend and ask each of the mamas with babies to test it out and give mini reviews.

But before I was able to put that plan into action, I had occasion to try out the blanket myself!  I brought it to my husband's softball game.  It was the perfect size for me and my two kids (and a big bag too).  The durable canvas side kept the dampness of the grass away for the duration of the game.  I was also impressed with the blanket's construction.  There are no loose threads, and all the seams are hidden and appear to be very secure.

The other side of the blanket is soft cotton sateen.  Smooth enough for a tiny newborn to lay on, I'd say.  I really like the size of this blanket.  I don't think I'm the type of mom who would carry around a play blanket for my babies all the time, but if I knew I was going somewhere to sit outside, have a picnic, etc, it's the perfect size and weight to throw in the bag on the way out the door.  I believe it will get a lot of use this summer at the beach.  As for babies, little C played on the blanket for a lot longer than I expected, given that he has just learned how to crawl.  I think he liked it!

Oilo has offered one of these play blankets to you!

Product Details:
Play Blanket - Turn a questionable area of flooring or carpet into a clean, stylish play space for your baby. Oilo's new line of play blankets measure 40x50-inches and feature a durable cotton duck surface on one side and a snuggly soft sateen finish on the other. Choose from an array of stylish colors and elegant designs accentuated by solid 2-inch flange along the edges.:: Cotton Duck Surface on One Side, Sateen Finish on Reverse Side:: 2-inch Flange along Edges:: 40” x 50”:: Made in the USA

Enter via Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer:  While Olio did provide me with free product to review, I have received no other compensation for this post.  All opinions stated are my own.  All images are my own except for the one that shows the folded blanket.

Monday, 20 May 2013


Today, at 12:52 PM MDT, I turn thirty years old. Much to my surprise, I'm having a hard time dealing with that particular number. I would write more, but I'm enjoying time at the cabin with family. Later today, when I get back home, I will have another post that includes a giveaway. So stay tuned! Until then, enjoy last night's sunset.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Nature-Water-Swamp-Themed Centrepieces

Last Monday I put together my last centrepieces for a Women's Ministries event at our church.  I've been in charge of table decorations for the past 3 years or so, and have thoroughly enjoyed it.  However, at this time I need to remove as many commitments from my life as possible in order to figure out how to be a work at home mom.

I had fun doing these ones.  I reused many of the decorations from my friends' frog-themed baby shower, for a spring/nature/water-themed centrepiece.  I had rolls of olive green organza that I bunched up and cut with pinking shears into roughly squarish pieces.  I tried initially to cut straight lines, but gave up after one attempt. I figured the ragged edge fit into the swamp-like theme.  Dollar store reeds and cattails with Costco curly sticks in Ikea vases stood tall in the middle, surrounded by huge blue and green confetti and river rocks.

I kind of forgot about the event until a couple of days before.  I had already planned what I was going to do, but hadn't put one together to make sure it was going to work.  I was pleasantly surprised how nice it looked!  I didn't get decent pictures, since I had to run for school pick-up as soon as I was done setting up, with no time to pull out the camera.  And that night at the event I took a few pictures and then my camera's battery died!

Monday, 13 May 2013


I've mentally composed so many posts this past week.  I could have written about the Yeggies, buying a decent pair of jeans, my latest table centrepieces, my daughter's first soccer games, my ineffectual housekeeping over the past couple of weeks, helping my grandma-in-law with her garden, mothers' day, etc...

But as soon as I sit down at the computer, I forgot my perfectly-crafted sentences that were so brilliant in my head, and became overwhelmed by everything on my to-do list. I ended up just not posting anything.  It is a pity, since compared to the average week, this one was rather eventful!  So here's a quick run-down:

Yeggies - After all my stress about what to wear for the Yeggies award event, I ended up fitting in perfectly. I chose the striped dress, black boots, teal tights, and an apple-green scarf.  My husband insisted I put my hair up, and I'm so glad I did, or I would have been constantly playing with it or wondering whether it was looking stringy.  Of course I don't have pictures!  I didn't bring my camera in, and misplaced my iPod in the car before the event.  The deserving winner of my category was Attack of the Redneck Mommy. I was more relieved than disappointed that I didn't win!

Soccer - This is my daughter's second year playing soccer in the U6 division.  Last year she was more concerned with blowing dandelion seeds and talking to the boys than she was with playing the game.  I think she scored on her own team once.  This year, she's some kind of soccer superstar, with 4 goals in the first two games.  I'm thrilled that she's showing more interest, and is more willing to get in there and actually touch the ball.  I did have to remind her that she is allowed to take the ball away from the other team, and she doesn't have to be nice.  It was after that reminder that she scored her first ever goal.  Her 3.5-year-old brother is showing signs of soccer skills too.  Next year...

Garden - My front garden is looking gorgeous, as it always does in the spring.  It's mid-to-late-summer that I lose my tolerance for the heat and give up my battle against the weeds.  But I'm determined not to do that this year.  I'm getting help dealing with the worst-looking/most visible flower bed, and I believe there will be lots of weeding in my near-future.  My kids love to help, and are getting pretty good at it.

On Friday, I was planting some free Stella de Oro daylilies (I love free plants!), and weeding.  I was trying to uproot a particularly stubborn clump of grass when I suddenly dislocated my thumb!  Lucky for me, it was only out of place for a second, and needed no help to pop back into place, but, Oh! the pain was nauseating!  Either that, or I'm a pansy.  Maybe both.  It's healing nicely, and it's not too difficult to avoid hurting it.  Except when I start the car.  I have to do that with my left hand.

Double-flowering-plum - AKA, my birthday bush, since it's always in full bloom for my birthday.

Almost luminescent orange tulips - My favourite flower.
Mothers' Day - For Mothers' Day this year, we went over to my mom's place for a walk and picnic.  "We" being me, my younger sister, our families, and my brother.  My older sister lives too far away to make it, but we wished she and her kids could have joined us anyway.  It was a gorgeous day, and although the walk was a little long, none of the kids complained until the way back.  Understandably, they were tired.  I love this shot of my son walking with his grandma.  He and his 4-year-old cousin thought Grandma's scooter was the coolest.

Other highlights of the day: My first ever breakfast in bed (My husband got up early to make me pancakes, even though he never eats pancakes for breakfast himself, being a strict cereal-for-breakfast devotee. You can see the result on Instagram), handpainted flower pot and card from my daughter, a little "Happy Mommy's Day" card from my son, a pretty purple pansy from church, and my first sunburn of the year.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Where Babies Come From (according to a 5-year-old)

My 5-year-old daughter thinks she has it all figured out.  This is her explanation:

  • Step 1. Someone wants a baby.
  • Step 2. That person tells someone, anyone they want a baby. (at this point, she tried to get me to say out loud that I want another baby)
  • Step 3. God puts a baby in the mommy's tummy.
  • Step 4. The baby grows.
  • Step 5. The baby is born.

If she asked, I would tell her the truth, but she hasn't asked yet.  Although this morning she asked me how cows get babies.  I'm sure she'll be wanting more details soon.  In the meantime I love how she works it out on her own.

And then my 3-year-old son says he wants a brother.  But not just any brother.  He wants my friend's 7-year-old to be his brother.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Fashion Anxiety

So, I've got a bad case of fashion anxiety.  I haven't had time to plan what I'm wearing to the Yeggies on Saturday.  Never mind time for shopping.  And I didn't really want to spend money anyway.  So today I pulled out absolutely everything in my closet that could conceivably be called "business casual" and tried stuff on.  I immediately decided I didn't want to wear dress pants.  I'm always more confident in a dress.  I finally did decide on something, with help from my friend Julie and my husband, but now I'm worried that it won't be right.  I hate going to an event and feeling like I'm overdressed or under-dressed   I like to blend.  But in this case, I didn't want to be too businessy, because I don't think that's the vibe this young, hip, and twitter-savvy crowd will be going for (someone mentioned sparkles).  I shall try not to think about it any more.

But now WHAT do I do with my hair?

The aftermath...not as bad as I expected, actually.  Probably because I have so few options.

pleated poppy

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May Day - Wordless Wednesday

Conversations with Preschoolers

If you're just tuning in, N is my 3-year-old boy.  J is my 5-year-old girl.

Me: "Who wants parmesan cheese?"
N: "Flummit cheese?
J: "No, permanent cheese."

Me: "PARM-eh-san cheese."
N: "Worm sand cheese?"

N: "Mom, I'm going a lasso a horse!" He throws the jumping rope and the end lands on his shoulder. "Aw, I lasso me."

J, who believes that her fairy talent is cleaning, is washing the dishes and singing, "Rub a dub dub! Bubbles in the tub!..."

J made me a maze: " I made it easy because you're not as smart as me."

N is arguing with himself: "Fine, foget it! No you fine foget it! Nevah! Grrr..."

N, to his sister: "Hey you! You know my name? My name's N."

N: "You made dat?!? Good job Mom!"

N: Knock, knock.
Me: Who's there?
N: Achoo.
Me: Achoo who?
N: Chicken butt!

"Annoying. Annoying. AnNOYing. Annoying..." No idea what he was so annoyed about.

J's 3 wishes: "I want to have my own house. I want to have my own baby. I want to be grown up."