Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The First Signs

Is this not a sign of promise? Spring is coming and it makes my heart sing.

What exactly is my heart singing? Actually, it sings a song I wrote in elementary school. It's probably the only song I've ever written, but my teacher praised it because it made sense musically and even had difficult syncopation. I remember it only because I loved the praise.

I like spring.
It makes me sing.
I love to hear
the birds that

And here's another sign that I see along all of the edges of my sidewalk.

But this is what the rest of the yard still looks like. We've got a fair bit of snow to melt. And most of my tulips are in that area of the yard. Bummer.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... there is still way too much snow.

I am thinking... that I love breakfasts in bed, even soggy Life cereal.

I am thankful for... giggling girls.

From the kitchen... I am making Amish Friendship Bread and fluffy white bread.

I am wearing... my nightgown at 11:01 am. Yay! I love spring break!

I am reading... nothing right now. How strange.

I am hoping... that I finish more projects before the snow actually melts.

I am creating... a poodle skirt.

I am hearing... the birds going nuts in the tall spruce. They think it's spring.

Around the house... we're being pretty darn lazy.

One of my favorite things... white, fluffy and crusty bread with real butter.

A few plans for the rest of the week... visits, sewing, sleepovers and friends.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
Lazying around in Beth's room...

...with little Ella jumping over the mountains in the blankets.

Have a great week!

- Ev

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Projects so far

I buy fabric like I buy groceries - in bulk when it's on sale. And like groceries, fabric has a relatively short useful shelf life. If I don't use it while the inspiration is hot, it may never be used. And it'll get stale and moldy.

That part isn't quite true. But it won't look as good or the colors and the concept will go out of style.

And the ground will thaw, at which point I'll be sidetracked by the garden and not wanting to sew again until sometime in December after I've rested up from the gardening.

I had a very productive day today. I do want to try to write a tutorial for this project because it turned out to be as easy and good looking as I thought it might be.

Two placemats, a scrap of brown cloth and a zipper from the re-use centre. The whole purse cost $6.95 + tax. Not bad.

I'll quickly show you what else I made today.

Ever since I made my massive vinyl messenger bag, Laura has wanted one too. It has a few of the same features as mine (the loop for tamagochi, pockets, notebook holder and spots for pencil crayons), but it's a much smaller version and easier to make. I learned a bit about vinyl when making mine.

1. Don't topstitch more than you have to.
2. Don't curse out loud when your kids are nearby.
3. Don't assume that your thread won't break three times within the last ten stitches of any seam.
4. Minimize your layers when at all possible.
5. Don't curse out loud when your kids are nearby.

It's done and luckily I don't have any more scraps to make another project.

And this top actually looks worse on the hanger, so I had to be in the picture. Don't blame the top for the bad picture. It turned out great and was super easy. The deal with Rosa was that I won't wear it to any garden party of hers. It's embarassing to match the napkins at a party!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Plans, Plans and More Plans

Okay, so I woke up a little bit bummed out. Just before going to bed last night, I picked up the cello to practice. And the ebony fingerboard fell right off! Trust me to play the instrument for less than a week and then I wreck it. I was so worried last night about how to break the news to the owners.

Well, I called this morning and she laughed! I love these people. They lend me a cello for free with no return date and I immediately cause them expense and work. And she laughs! Thank you, thank you once again. I will sleep better tonight knowing that they are not worried or annoyed or don't trust me anymore. Big sigh of relief...

I spent the morning reading blogs while I thought I was waiting for someone to come to the house. It was very unproductive, but in my defence, I thought I was getting company at any moment so I didn't want to start anything.

By noon I was ready to do something and FabricLand had an awesome sale on. Rosa and I went and spent more money and planned more projects than we first had in mind. I went with one thought: Laura needs a poodle skirt for a school production. This is what I now have in my fabric stash with some half-hearted plans.

If I share them with you, I'll maybe follow through. What if you ask to see the finished product? I must do something now.

The pink stripe will make an awesome top for me. I don't usually steer towards the pretty stuff, but this caught my eye (only after I watched them cut some for Rosa). The solid pink is for the planned poodle skirt. Here is what I'm trying to emulate:

I'm not making the top. She can wear any solid t-shirt with it.

The grey fabric is quite heavy and I'm going to try to make yoga pants. Mine are all too short, and not in a good way. The Christmassy flannel is meant for new pajamas for Alice NEXT Christmas. Luckily she can't quite read yet or the surprise would be ruined!

I think I'm most excited by this green stripe. I bought two placemats to turn into a very easy purse. I might photo-document it into a how-to. It will be a $7 purse in the end and in my mind it's great.

The blah-looking fabric is for pants. I've found a make of jeans that are long enough, but anything else is always a problem. I miss my boring old capris of the '90s, so I'm going to make some boring pants. Pants that fit and match most things.

What should this be turned into? I've had it for a few years. It's very drapey. Laura thinks a tunic-y type of top, or one with an empire shirred waist and long and flowy sleeves. I think she might be onto something.

This one is beautiful, but again, I've had it for years and don't quite know what to do with it. It's a bit pretty for me, but some occasions call for pretty. Maybe.

I love this knit. Rosa doesn't, but she's too small to carry off the large print anyway. It's meant for a larger person, and I fit that description. If I think about it, most people are larger than Rosa, and few people are larger than me. We're a study in contrasts. Some sort of top for me out of this I think. Being more fall colours, I have time to think about it some more.

This is lovely fabric given to me with a little girl in mind. Alice would look adorable in the flower fabric with the polka-dot as trim. I'll have to use it before she isn't a little girl anymore. It threatens to happen any day now....
So, now that my fabric stash is out in the open, I'll start sewing and show you some finished projects. Soon. Maybe.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Northern Life for Little People

Once upon a time there was a family of Little People. They lived in northern Alberta where they are accustomed to long months of snow. But in the past they spent it in a sheltered location.

In the fall of 2008, three giants removed their humble house from shelter and brought them out to enjoy the benefits of a clear view of the giant's abode and the swing set. Life was good for the Little People. They moved freely between sandy places and lush grassy forests. They frolicked and laughed. They traveled on the Little People Train, visited with the Little People Barn animals and the Little People Fire Truck was always at their command.

The giants tired of watching over the Little People. They abandoned the house and moved on to other pursuits. That was okay. The Little People didn't need the constant attention. And the view was better than it had been in the past. They used to look only at shelving of camping equipment and planting trays awaiting spring seeds.

Soon the white fluffy snow fell. How cosy it was in their little house for a time. However, it was open the cold, harsh winds of Alberta and the blowing snow. For a while that was uncomfortable, but then they were left with a snowy layer of insulation.

The ice that formed under their foundation keep them securely rooted to their spot in the grass. The wind would not bother the Little People. Even when the giants belately thought to move them into the sheltered storage, they could not be budged.

They lay forgotten under the snow. Their view was severly limited and as the months wore on, they tired of the color white. At one point the surrounding Little People Train Station, the Barn with its moo-ing cows and baa-ing sheep and the Fire Truck were freed from the ice, leaving them without hope of transportation, and many of their friends were moved indoors as well.

They were left alone. Alone and cold and stuck.

But then the snow started to melt a bit. They could access their top floor and see a bit of the world outside. There wasn't much to see but more snow, but it gave them hope.

And then it snowed again and buried them up to their rafters. Oh, when would spring come? Would the giants come to free them? Would they frolick in the grass again? Would the Fire Engine and Train come back to carry them away from this lonely spot?

It's looking a little grim for the Little People's House. But I have faith that spring will come again. I do believe that they can find their way upstairs again.

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... there is still way too much snow.

I am thinking... that I love breakfasts in bed, even soggy Life cereal.

I am thankful for... giggling girls.

From the kitchen... I am making Amish Friendship Bread and fluffy white bread.

I am wearing... my nightgown at 11:01 am. Yay! I love spring break!

I am reading... nothing right now. How strange.

I am hoping... that I finish more projects before the snow actually melts.

I am creating... a poodle skirt.

I am hearing... the birds going nuts in the tall spruce. They think it's spring.

Around the house... we're being pretty darn lazy.

One of my favorite things... white, fluffy and crusty bread with real butter.

A few plans for the rest of the week... visits, sewing, sleepovers and friends.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
Lazying around in Beth's room...

...with little Ella jumping over the mountains in the blankets.

Have a great week!

- Ev

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I love that it was handcarved, and not by a stranger in a far-off land. I love how it came to be in my care, with words of advice and reverence, knowledge of its creator and its own history.

It has left a grin on my face that has been there since last Thursday and every time I look at it I am reminded again of the immense trust that has been placed in me.

And I am so very grateful.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

This isn't the post that's been writing itself in my mind, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. It's Monday and I'll continue with the Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window... the kids are yelling and laughing their way through recess.

I am thinking... that this is more than a little scary.

From the learning rooms... we're working on our 10,000 hours, starting with 1.

I am thankful for... the trust of others.

From the kitchen... the smell of barbeque chicken for a potluck at noon.

I am wearing... new jeans that are almost too long. Imagine!

I am reading... "Doubting Yourself to the Bone" and anticipating meeting the author in a couple of weeks.

I am hoping... to find the ambition to work a little.

I am creating... patches so my children don't look so neglected.

I am hearing... the sizzling of the chicken frying.

Around the house... the basement still needs a lot of organizing.

One of my favorite things... spending time with friends.

A few plans for the rest of the week... an awards assembly, potluck lunch, another sleepover on the weekend.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

First day of school 2006: before I knew that BOTH school-age children would receive academic awards. Way to go, girls!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Signs of Spring

I'm not seeing spring yet outside, but I can hear dripping sounds. The Little People house is still buried, but somehow the light feels like spring and it smells different.

And in our house there are definite signs of it's arrival. In February we planted the first batch of seeds and now the second round has begun.
Does anyone want any snapdragons? I've got probably 100 seedlings that haven't been separated yet and I'll never have room under my three lights for them. They may have to be sacrificed. It always hurt me to throw them away after they've tried so hard to go from tiny seed to little green seedlings with such promise.

And I love these. Aren't they beautiful?

Yvon thought they were eggs. They are castor beans, and planting four of them is probably more than I need, but finding homes for my excess is always an easy problem to deal with.

I'm trying tomatoes for the first time this year. My mother-in-law always seeds some for me but can't quite grasp how much I love fresh tomatoes and I always have to buy a few. I hope this year to have too many.
I'm also trying brocolli for the first time from seed. Look at this little thing.

Yvon thinks they look like fungus, but you have to remember how tiny it is right now. I'm playing with the macro settings on my camera.

I love walking into the garden with no dinner plans, and exiting with a bowl full of spinach, lettuce, beans or bean flowers, brocolli, tomatoes, zuchini and carrots. I can't wait until that time comes again. And every year it does and I'll never tire of it.

Other things I've seeded: leeks, kale, more snapdragons (giants ones), two kinds of basil, alyssum, fennel, and salvia. I love the true blue color of salvia. I hope I have too many of that too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lunchin' Ladies Again

We lunched again. We schemed and planned and dreamed. It's what we seem to do when we're together. I wouldn't do it on my own, but Rosa is inspirational.
And the food was awesome. My stomach is still full because I ate all of my lunch and all of my sticky toffee pudding. That was probably unwise, but it's what I do.
Thanks, Rosa!
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Like Sands Through the Hourglass

I wasn't quite sworn to secrecy, but I may be breaking a promise with this post. Fortunatly I have a readership of about 5, so no one will ever know. That gives me a fair bit of freedom.

We've always managed just fine with the digital clocks on our microwave and stove, but lately we've been noticing the effects of age and wanted something a bit bigger. Big enough to see from the living room at any angle.

So, now we have a new clock in our kitchen. And it's big. If we had no walls I'd be able to see it from anywhere in our house.

About a month ago I asked my shopping-savvy sister-in-law to keep an eye out for a nice vintage clock for me. This isn't it. I beat her to it.

A few days later I walked into our school to find a heaping cart of clocks. Apparently kids notice when one clock is out by a few minutes and feel cheated out of 2 minutes of recess if their clock is set differently than the hallway clocks. So they were going high-tech and replacing all of their clocks with fancy satellite-synchronizing clocks. Couldn't handle the highpitched complaints, I guess.

I was told that the old clocks (which look exactly like the new clocks) were going to clock heaven. I have no need to have synchronized clocks in my house. In fact it's good if it runs a little fast. If I were to discretely put the big clock in my coat or in my massive purse, I was given permission to take one home. That isn't the same as promising not to tell anyone, is it?

Plus, kids notice things. They notice if a clock is wrong, and they also notice that our kitchen clock looks suspiciously like the school clocks. The word is now out.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... is fresh snow sparkling in the sun.

I am thinking... that I'd rather not babysit this afternoon. Maybe Alice will help me.

From the learning rooms... I am using macros in a way I'd never thought to do before.

I am thankful for... my house-wifey tendencies.

From the kitchen... more bread. This time I'm trying rye bread.

I am wearing... no socks. And my feet are predictably cold.

I am reading... "Saving Fish From Dying" by Amy Tan. And whatever I can find on the web about it before our book club meeting.

I am hoping... for world peace. Oh, sorry. I thought this was the Miss America interview.

I am creating... curtains and birthday presents.

I am hearing... nothing. And it's nice.

Around the house... we are getting ahead, bit by bit, towards the goal of space and shedding clutter.

One of my favorite things... the smell of fresh bread.

A few plans for the rest of the week... getting fabric out of the cupboard and hanging on curtain rods.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Just before the snow started to melt last week I thought I'd visually track the melting by using a picture like this. On Friday some of the snow melted off the Little People House, and then it snowed again and it's almost as deep as ever.

Incidentally, I just Googled this house to get the dimensions and found out that this piece of plastic sells for $350! I'll bet it's not worth that anymore around here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

On being great

I just heard some really good musicians at Tamara's blog. Her kids won a bunch of awards at a recent music festival. Now, you could say that they are incredibly talented (that's what I thought), but my brother was telling me about a book he was reading (Outliers) that has this to say about achieving greatness:

Innate talent, pure desire, they’re not enough. Sure, Mozart started writing music when he was six, but he didn’t compose a masterwork until he was twenty one, after he’d put in 10,000 hours of practice. Turns out that’s the rule. You’ve got to have 10,000 hours.

That sounds easy. It just takes time. Now I'd love to be a great pianist or singer. I can do both reasonably well now, but not great. What would I have to do to get there?

That means that I have to practice 8 hours a day for 3.5 years to be great. I don't have 8 hours of free time each day and my fingers aren't that strong and my voice gives out after about an hour. Maybe that wouldn't be the case if I tried that for a while.

Or if I practice for 30 minutes a day, which is more realistic, I'd have to practice for 55 years to achieve greatness.

I just turned 41, so I'll be great by the time I'm 96. Wait for the tour posters! Here I come!

If you could just be so kind as to help me up to the stage, I'd really appreciate it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I never really think of myself as competitive, but I must be. I've heard it before, and sometimes a competitive thought enters my brain before I can stop it.

Beth and I take piano lessons from a mother and daughter team. She is awarded stickers at each lesson depending on how well she's done with her lesson. It's a typical reward system where you can trade in your stickers for small items like pencils, notepads, bouncy balls or gum. The grand prize is a movie pass for 100 stickers and until Christmas no one had ever saved enough stickers for that.

I wasn't really expecting stickers. I thought it was something devised for kids to keep motivation up. At the end of my first lesson in January I jokingly asked my teacher how many stickers she'd given me. She seriously said "I think, maybe, 12."

Instantly my brain started to calculate when or if I would catch up to Beth at that rate. Why do I care? Do I need bouncy balls? Do I even chew gum? It's silly, but that's what I did.

I also noticed that one of the few adult students was listed on the wall as having 99 stickers. I know her from church and she's a bit of character. I figured she wrote that number on the chart herself. It turned out that she hadn't, but she wasn't taking the stickers seriously either.

Of course, I had to calculate when I would catch up to her too. She only had one sticker to go! That wasn't fair. That was a huge head start.

This week Beth reached 101 stickers and was awarded with a movie pass.

My lessons have been a bit sporatic this month and my lesson was cancelled. While I waited for Beth's lesson to end I played the piano in the other room. Her teacher listened outside the door and then awarded me with a movie pass for my brilliant playing! Yay!

Another movie pass was awarded to our friend from church this week, so the friendly competition is over. We're now planning to go to a movie all together. What good winners we are! Hopefully we'll find some light chick-flick that's child friendly.

And we all begin again starting with zero stickers this week. Who will get the next movie pass first? Or will we cave in and trade in early for a sparkly pencil?

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I love it that some blogs have regular features on their blogs. Rosa's Wordless Wednesdays (or wordless wendsdays! :-) and I used to read a Monday devotional on My Messy, Thrilling Life. I'll miss her blog when it turns off at the end of the month.

So I might start a Monday tradition myself. This is from the Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window... is a lot of drifted, clean, white snow providing protection for my perennials. I'd rather see daffodils.

I am thinking... that if the proposal is going to get finished tomorrow, I'd like to see a draft in my in-box VERY soon.

From the learning rooms... Alice is sounding out her words, and the ESL students are making random guesses.

I am thankful for... a clean, tidy, quiet office to work in.

From the kitchen... SHOOT! The bread has been rising for two hours!! Oops.

I am wearing... a comfortable shirt with too-short sleeves, but I'm about to drape a big warm blanket over it.

I am reading... "Tales of Despereaux" where music smells like honey and the light streaming through the stained glass windows looks like heaven. I love it.

I am hoping... for a stress-free day tomorrow.

I am creating... peaceful, clutterfree rooms in the house.

I am hearing... the silence of children sleeping and the distant sound of the Space Channel.

Around the house... the house is creaking as the temperature outside drops still further. -29 C and dropping to -32 C for tomorrow morning. Luckily very little wind.

One of my favorite things... mindless finger exercises on the piano, feeling the strength coming back.

A few plans for the rest of the week... birthday lunch, piano lessons, gymnastics, and ending with a potluck supper on Saturday.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...


There are always some friends in my life whom I see on a regular basis, whose lives intercept with me in many places and ways. Whether it's because our kids are friends with each other, or we have many similar interests resulting in shared activities. Or we're going through the same "stuff" together (bed-wetting kids, lack of sleep, financial struggles, whatever it is at the moment).

I need those friends to keep me sane from day to day. They make me realize that I'm not alone or struggling in ways that cannot be overcome. Or just make the nasty parts of life laughable. Being a mother has brought some wonderful people into my life who aren't afraid to talk about anything.

But sometimes these everyday friends become less frequent visitors in our lives, either through changing interests, jobs, locations. What's great about some of these friends is that no matter how infrequently we meet, the love is still there, the laughter and the knowledge that we are actually still there for each other. Nothing has really changed.

This weekend we spent time with some friends we hadn't seen in a long time. And met and visited with new friends while there. And chatted with another on the phone and caught up on a year's worth of news. And had an awesome dinner with another family whom we see regularly.

They are all different kinds of relationships. All necessary to us. And all loved. It was a great weekend!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


...the latest project!

This may just look like any old bedroom to you, but this has been a project in our heads for about a year, and in the works for maybe half of that time. I didn't get any true "before" pictures. It was a room masquerading unsuccessfully as a guest room.

In reality, we strung up our laundry on three lines across the room. Only when guests were not actually sleeping there. And we stored a LOT of stuff in there.

On the side of this blog I'm experimenting with a Google ad. I did say that I would openly flog products when I love them. I don't think anyone will ever pay me to advertise here, so here are two unpaid advertisements from my heart of products that I discovered this week.

Thank you, Angie, for correctly guessing that "sunshine yellow" (aka schoolbus) was not what we wanted. This is a new Benjamin Moore paint called Aura. This stuff allowed us to cover all the icky wood panelling without any primer. Yay! Any step saved is an hour or two of my time to spend..um, doing the next step.
Weren't these walls lovely? Full of holes and panels that didn't fit together well, and there was a sticker from the 1986 Commonwealth Games on the wall (let's call it vintage). I'll miss the sticker. It was really special.

What you can't see in the pictures is the filthy stained carpet. Yesterday I was seriously considering ripping it out and using the excess paint on the plywood subfloor. But then I discovered this.

The Rug Doctor. Don't rip out any carpets until you try the Rug Doctor first. Unless it's 1970 shag and lived for decades with cats and dogs. Rip that out without thinking twice.
Our carpets are saved. This lovely yellow room has risen from the dusty heap of storage it was only last week. And there's one happy little girl sleeping in it tonight.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In Like a Lamb

Yesterday the weather was beautiful. Warm and sunny. I'm well aware that that means something different for everyone depending on where they live.

While other gardening bloggers talk about spring, this is my view this morning.

It's okay. This is normal and good for the garden. I keep telling myself that.

We never use this feeder for the birds because it's always full of snow. And I don't like sunflowers sprouting in this particular spot.

Tamara may recognize some of these pots. They originate from Darvonda. Spring is miraculous here and in a few months I'll have things like this happening.

It's great to look back at my pictures to cheer me up.

And just to keep me focussed on the potential rather than the here-and-now outside, I've got these happening indoors.

Beth reminded me kindly about the good weather yesterday and that March is now predicted to go out "out like a lion". I'm not looking forward to that, but my plants should still be insulated outdoors with a blanket of snow. And the little ones will still be safely indoors.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Life's Little Victories

I know my girls are extraordinarily smart and beautiful, of course (!), but in other ways they leave something to be desired. Their eating habits, for instance.

When they were really little they ate almost anything once. They loved or hated it. And when next offered, we would get the opposite reaction. Beth and Laura used to always react opposite from the other, which was both predictable and maddening for me. They've gotten over it luckily.

I also occasionally see other kinds of reactions that I don't always like, even if it's approval of the food.

I'm sure that wouldn't be appropriate at the Queen's table. But she's eating her veggies and you have to be happy about that. And they all liked the "brain food" (salmon) that we served with the salad.

The other small victory today was finding my camera. I knew I had it on Saturday, but couldn't remember where I put it. I wish it had a homing device on it like my cordless phone. Anyway, clearer pictures will be shown in the future. I found it tucked safely into a drawer so that I wouldn't get paint on it. I'll show off that project when it's done. Soon.