Saturday, 21 June 2014

Teacher Gift - Be Awesome Today Sign

My default teacher gift is a Starbucks gift card.  Every teacher deserves a treat, especially at the end of the school year!  But this year I came across a different idea.  Tara Michelle Interiors makes these "be awesome today" signs.  My daughter's teacher says "awesome" a lot, and my girl has started doing the same.  It's adorable.  So I ordered a small version.  I think it's 16 inches long.  Yes, I could have made it myself.  But I don't like to diy other people's ideas.  Especially small business owners.  Besides, I figured Tara's version would look a lot better than what I would do (since I'd have to either paint the letters or cut vinyl by hand).  I was right.  The paint job is perfect, and the lettering is so crisp.  The price was definitely worth it.

In fact, I liked the idea so much that I ordered two.  One for the teacher (grey) and one for my daughter (turquoise).  I like that the signs are sturdy enough to stand on a shelf without leaning on something, yet light enough to be hung on the wall anywhere (although I have yet to figure out the best way to do so...I'll have to ask Tara what she recommends).

Only four more school days 'til summer break!  Which will be awesome.  ( . . . and then my baby starts kindergarten . . . sob!)

PS: Happy first day of summer!  It is a super windy day out at the lake today.

Monday, 16 June 2014

I Am a Scavenger

I am a scavenger.  I love finding treasures in unconventional places.  Like behind a liquor store. Or in a thrift store.  Or on Kijiji (like Craigsist). Or in a dumpster (a first for me!).  Or second-hand from family members (like my farmhouse table, and my wardrobe, and most recently, my son's double bed).

I have a tendency to see the potential in something.  My mom has the same tendency.  She always kept everything, especially if it could possibly be used for a future craft or project.

I could never walk into a furniture store to furnish an entire room.  I need to collect things over time instead.

While I am always thrilled with my treasures, and proud of my successful projects, and I like how my home looks most of the time (when I look past the piles of laundry or the dirty floors).   I prefer distressed wooden furniture to whatever sleek and shiny piece can be found at The Brick. My furniture is mismatched, second-hand, and probably all wrong for the space.

But I do sometimes feel like others won't understand why I have a rustic painted wooden plate-rack-thing sitting on my windowsill, or a beat-up old cupboard by my front door.   I wonder if they see us as a charity case, as in, "Well, we don't want this old thing, but give it to Joanna...she'll take anything!"  I know that friends and family aren't actually thinking that, but sometimes I get a feeling that we're not normal.

Oh well.  As much as I don't want to be seen as odd, I also have an unexplained aversion to doing what everyone else does (which is one reason I have steadfastly refused to put a stick-figure family on my minivan).

So, are you a scavenger too?

Friday, 13 June 2014

Editing - An Invisible Skill

Back in September, I went to a Q&A event put on by the Editors’ Association of Canada.  One of the panelists commented, “I have no idea why editing is so undervalued.”  I wanted to wave my hand à la Hermione Granger and fill him in.

I believe editing as a profession is not seen as valuable because it doesn’t result in something pretty to show off.  Photographers, artists, and graphic designers have a visual representation of the value of their work.  Writers have the finished manuscript as proof of their prowess.  Any other trade requiring professional skills has a tangible outcome: a doctor heals, a plumber fixes, a teacher educates, etc.  An editor’s contribution is hidden within others’ words—words that may have been unintelligible before editing.  So unless someone is willing to look at a before and after, editors can’t share their work.

Writers may not value an editor’s expertise because they believe that they are capable of editing their own work.  That may be true, but probably isn’t.  Even the most technically skilled writer cannot look at his own manuscript with fresh, unbiased eyes.  Not many writers know the different levels of editing beyond proofreading, and are usually unable to accurately assess the level required to produce a publishable manuscript.

Editors themselves perpetuate the lie that skill in editing is of little worth.  In our quest for experience and credibility, we err on the side of underpricing our work, or saying yes to every request that comes our way, whether it is paid or not.  While there is great value in volunteer work, an editor must be free to choose the causes and projects deemed worthy of doing pro bono.  All other requests for work should come with the expectation of payment.

I'm guilty of this too.  I've had a client pay me three times what I billed her for, because she thought my work was worth it.  Now that was a boost to my self-esteem!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Why I Don't Want You to Come to My Party

I'm having a Steeped Tea party on Friday.  Steeped Tea is a direct marketing company that sells quality loose teas and accessories.  Now, I have said in the past that I don't like attending such parties (eg: Tupperware, Partylite, Pampered Chef...) because I don't like the feeling of being sold to.  I don't like being gently or not-so-gently persuaded by the consultant to host a party, or buy one more $$$ thing to bump up the hostess's benefits, or whatever.

Then my friend Sherisse became a consultant for Steeped Tea, and I discovered that it doesn't have to be like that.  The reason I like this company is that you don't have to lay out a lot of cash.  The teas are affordable, and if you're like me and drink a lot of tea anyway, it's perfect.  And the teas are consumable.  Instead of buying a knickknack or a really overpriced kitchen gadget (Although I must say that I love the $50 Pampered Chef measuring cup that someone gave me), You're buying a quality, gourmet version of something you regularly use anyway.

So I'm happily hosting another party.  Why?  Simply because I'm out of Earl Grey de la Creme, and I want to get an iced tea pitcher.  Both of which I will buy whether or not I actually have the party.  I'm not doing it because I want to exploit my friends, or allow them to be pressured into buying something they don't want or need.  I know that those who come to my party won't BE pressured, but I can't guarantee that they won't FEEL pressured.  There's a difference.  So, friends, here are the reasons I don't want you to come to my party:

  1. You don't like tea.
  2. You feel obligated to buy something at these parties.
  3. You say yes to something even when you don't want to.
  4. You resent such parties.
And just for some balance, here are some reasons you might want to come:
  1. You like tea and/or treats and/or visiting with friends.
  2. You want to learn more about tea.
  3. You want to try something new.
  4. You need ideas for hostess gifts.
  5. You already know you won't buy anything, but want to come anyway (leave your wallet at home!).

Monday, 9 June 2014

Time for New Shoes - Pediped Flex Review

"Mom, look how fast I am!"  My four-year-old is quite an active boy (At least until you put him in a soccer game...then he turns into a statue, basically.  It's odd).  He's always running around, jumping, and generally being crazy.  I've been thinking that I should probably put my kids' growing feet into some good-quality shoes, instead of whatever happens to be available.  So I jumped at the chance to review shoes from Pediped.  I chose to review athletic shoes for my athletic boy, although Pediped has some really sweet girls shoes too.  I didn't want to be greedy and request both!

A little about Pediped:
"pediped® has become one of the fastest growing children's footwear brands in the U.S. and offers more than 120 designs spanning EU sizes 17-36. pediped’s three footwear lines include Originals® (soft soled shoes for children ages birth to 2), Grip ‘n’ Go™ (soft rubber soled shoes for children 9 months to three years) and Flex® (rubber soled shoes for children 1-8 years). pediped® is sold all around the world."

A little about the Flex Orion shoes:  (incidentally, Orion was the first constellation my dad taught me to identify when I was a kid)
A fun a quirky style especially designed for your little athlete’s developing feet, Orion has Ultra Light Technology™ allowing natural movement and maximum flexibility. A breathable mesh upper will keep the foot cool and a heel cushion will protect against impact. This style will get your child started off on the right foot with nothing but comfort! 
  • All natural rubber sole
  • Athletic shoe with Velcro strap to keep shoes securely in place
  • Ultra light weight of 5 oz (based on a size EU 27/US 10 kids shoe)
  • Flex grooves to ensure natural motion
  • Breathable mesh uppers
  • Machine washable
  • Features the Flex Fit System™, which allows children to adjust the fit of their shoes and prolong the length of wear

I love the fun super-bright colours on this shoe.  And they really are lightweight.  My son loves his shoes that he "got in the mail."  Other than that though, I don't really see a marked difference between these shoes and his last pair.  I'm sure they will be a lot more durable though.  Time will tell, of course.  Since I'm not wearing them myself, I can't say whether they're more comfortable or not.  But they seem to fit really well, and I like the option to add an extra insole to adjust the size.  Overall, I feel much happier to have my boy wearing these shoes instead of his old Walmart runners.

The shoes are easy for my son to put on and take off, and I'm thrilled they can be thrown in the washing machine.  I haven't tried that yet, but with a busy kid, that time will come, I'm sure.This kid is quickly growing out of just about everything (size 5 pants are just barely long enough, but size 6 are still too long!), but I hope he'll be able to wear these shoes for a good long time.

You can learn more about Pediped and their shoes on their website,, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Make sure to check out Brian James Footwear,, the women’s footwear line from pediped founder Angela Edgeworth.

Disclaimer: I was provided with free product in order to write an honest, unbiased review.  All opinions expressed are my own.