Thursday, March 31, 2011

the here and now

Constantly one step ahead of reading a book...eyes continually glancing to the words down the page. Cooking breakfast, and thinking about putting a load of laundry on...changing the baby and thinking about a new sewing project waiting for completion...bathing a child, and thinking about blog posts. Why can't I just live in the now?

As women, we are pretty adept at multi-tasking. I have been known to talk on the phone, while nursing a baby, while stirring spaghetti sauce...while helping with a homework get the picture. But am I really doing any of these jobs I really experiencing life to the fullest? Am I taking the time to inhale that baby sweet freshness, to tickle my little one's tummy and give her "raspberries"? Am I savouring the smell of the garlic sauteeing...trying a new secret ingredient to my sauce to add a new flavour...and then truly tasting the meal and enjoying it? Am I really listening to my friend? Or am I just nodding and saying "uh-huh" with an absentminded grunt?

In 2006 we made a trip across Canada. It was a huge endeavour...moving 7 children, and all our worldly belongings from British Columbia to Ontario, in a school bus. My husband and I discussed the trip at length and decided that the we didn't want to just survive this trip, we really wanted to enjoy it...and the only way to do this was to take things on day at a moment at a time. We decided that we were just going to take our time...and when we got there, we got there. We stopped often for picnics and pee breaks, pictures (see mountain above), swims and hikes. And you know what? We had the best trip many beautiful memories made...because we took the time to focus on the beauty of the journey...rather than the end goal.

That is my prayer today. That I can learn how to be more present in the moment. To truly taste life and all that it has to and now.

Speaking of "living in the moment" I have a baby looking to be nursed and a 4 year old playing with my computer mouse...I think it must be time to "sign off"!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Congratulations, Rachel!

A big congratulations to Rachel for winning my 12 inch Waldorf doll giveaway!

Also a big, BIG thank you to Twig and Toadstool for hosting my giveaway and promoting me and my Etsy shop Handmaiden Canada . I have made a number of new friends, gained some helpful feedback and insights, all in all a very worthwhile endeavour!

Thanks to all of you who entered the contest...for your positive comments and encouragement! I look forward to continuing to connect with each other in the future. :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Felted Wool Birds Nest Tutorial

This is my first tutorial. It popped into my head the other day (in the wee hours of the morn, to be precise), and I just can't wait to share it with you crafty wool lovers out there! :)

I have been working with felted wool sweaters for some time now. And I am completely enthralled with the whole process....first finding the "perfect sweater" (probably useless to anyone but me) at my local thrift store, bringing it home and popping it in the washing machine on "hot", laying it flat to dry, seeing the final result, and then dreaming up cozy, useful items to make it into!

Ok, so maybe little felted nests aren't "useful" per se ....but they sure are cute!

What do you need?

1 wool sweater..."felted", as described in the above paragraph
sewing machine (optional)

Here are the step by step instructions...

1. Cut the arm off your sweater and into about 3 inch sections (I had enough length for 3).

2. Hold them upright in a circle shape and trace around them onto paper, leaving about 1/2 inch around for seam allowance.

3. Pin the paper to the felted sweater and cut around it. Cut one circle for every "tube" you have.

4. Sew the circles to the bottom of the tubes (right sides together). They will look like this...

5. Cut a fringe around the top of the nests about 1 inch deep, and about 1/4 inch wide. I left one of my nests "fringeless", just for variety. :)

6. Using hot water and liquid laundry soap, carefully "squish" the nests to give them a more "felty" and soft appearance. Rinse.

7. Lay on a towel to dry.

8. Place your decorated eggs in them to display! These eggs are "naturally decorated" by our Auracana chickens!

Friday, March 25, 2011

the simple life

by The Weepies

Can I get up in the morning
Put the kettle on
Make us some coffee, say "hey" to the sun...
Is it enough to write a song and sing it to the birds?
They'd hear just the tune
Not understand my love for words
But you would hear me and know

I want only this, I want to live
I want to live a simple life...

This has been the song of my heart this morning, as I swept the floor...folded vast amounts of laundry...and then finally escaped to the outdoors to take in the freshness of this spring soak up some much needed Vitamin clear my head. The sweet song of the birds welcomed me and lifted my spirits.

Oh, to be like the be happy with little. To be content to just sit in the sun and sing...not a worry in the world. I crave that simplicity today. Be gone endless mind chatter. Trust. Bask in the knowledge that you are loved and cared for.

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Matthew 6:26

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yarn Along

Ooooh, I've always wanted to do this...join Ginny over at small things for her weekly "Yarn Along". Now that I have my own blog, I think it's time for me to join the party!!

I always have a few knitting projects on the go. I have a "brainless" one that I can work on say while spending "quality time" with my hubby watching a movie. It does drive him a little nuts because I'm not quite so cuddly with pokey needles in my hands...but hey at least I'm not falling asleep, right? I also usually have a fiddly one I'm working on...lots of little pieces to sew together at the end, but easy to complete a little bit at a time. Then I have the intricate ones with say cables or row by row instructions that require my full attention. I love these projects, but I can't really work on them with interruptions. Needless to say, they don't get worked on very often. :)

So...considering the crazy stressful week I had last week, here's what I'm working on right now...

It's a cowl made from recycled sari silk! I needed something bright to cheer me up, and the texture of this stuff is just phenomenal. It's soft and drapey...warm but not too warm...perfect for our Canadian weather right now. I can't wait to finish it! I think I might keep it for myself...something new to add to my spring wardrobe. :)

And the book? Just something light and fluffy for this week. After reading cover to cover (a few times), "How to Make a Successful Business out of Your Hobby, for Dummies"...I think I deserve a book I can veg out to!!

To all you talented ladies out there...cheers!! And happy knitting/reading. :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

For Me, Mama?

Since I've been a mother, the majority of my handmade creations have gone to my children....straight from the knitting needles or sewing machine, onto someone's little body. There is something so satisfying in being able to clothe my children in garments made with my own hands. There is something almost sacred in it...putting love into every stitch...seeing them take shape and then bring so much JOY to the receiver.

In December of last year, I started to rack my brain, trying to think of a way I could continue to stay at home with my young children and make some sort of an income. With my husband being off work with an illness (ulcerative colitis), and awaiting major surgery, and I with a little one still at the breast...we had to come up with a plan.

Being a stay at home mom for the past 18 years has been a very rewarding experience...and I'm so grateful I've had the opportunity to be home with my children during these tender years, but I do feel I am a little behind, with very little "work experience" under my belt. Don't get me wrong...I have been WORKING...motherhood is definitely not for the faint of heart, but just not in ways that the world would necessarily recognize as valuable.

So what to do? I decided to start a business from the home. A friend of mine introduced me to the website and the lightbulb went on!! I could sew, knit, crochet, whatever, and then sell my items online! I opened a shop and called it Handmaiden Canada.

Now, what to sell?

My sister, Shanti, gave me the idea of making Waldorf Dolls. She had been browsing online and seen how cute they were, and had also seen the waiting lists for them. I ordered enough supplies to make 2 dolls, and I was hooked! What fun it was to dream up ideas...eye and hair colours, textures, fabric combinations...oooh the possibilities were endless! I spent just *a few* sleepless nights with visions of dollies dancing through my head. :)
With much patience from my enduring husband, I went on to order supplies for more dolls...and things just continued to take off...more and more dollies were born...and three have been sold to date. ;)

My girls (I have 6 daughters who still love dolls) started to put in orders. I couldn't give them all away though, could I? How would I ever start a business if I did that?

I explained this to them and they are happy to wait for their birthdays, or Christmas...all except little Nadia (one year old). She doesn't know the meaning of the word "wait". :)

She has been watching me with rapt interest as I've been creating these bright, fun dollies and she constantly wants to reach out to hug and touch. I've tried to keep them out of reach...but it's hard. I actually had to start working on them only when she was sleeping in order to avoid frustration on both of our parts! I finished making her her very OWN dolly!

As I put this little girl in Nadia arms, she had the hugest grin... spread from ear to ear and she started dancing around and around, all the while hugging her new baby. Now THIS is what motherhood and life is all about...being able to share in this pure, unfettered JOY!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Day in the Life

Having grown up in a large family (I'm the oldest of eight children) I sorta knew what I was getting into, having a large family of my own.

Yesterday started out as pretty uneventful...the kids slept in and I was able to "do some stuff" on the computer...yeah, you and get caught up on other blogs. :) Important stuff, okay?

So we had a leisurely breakfast and started to get ready to go to the ski hill for the afternoon. My daughter, Felicity and her band "Fliss" were going to be playing there, and so we were all going to take in the show. The older kids had gone ahead with her to get started on the snowboarding and skiing while she set up her band equipment.

I was in the shower when my husband yells out "Sebastian's hurt...he's on his way to the hospital in the ambulance". Well, you can imagine what was running through my head at this point. Or maybe you can't. You see, Sebastian is our dare-devil. His favourite things to do are lighting things on fire, trying to blow things up, jumping off high things....and doing these CRAZY 10-15 foot jumps and flips with his snowboard!

So I quickly dress myself, while instructing the other children through our bedroom door to get their outdoor stuff on and get out to the! We fly to the ski hill...Sebastian has already gone. The kids and I stay there while my husband goes on to the hospital.

Felicity's band is set up to play outside. The sun is warm on our faces, the music is catchy and fun...the little ones are dancing along...a perfect afternoon.

If only my stomach wasn't in such knots. Word comes from my husband that Sebastian is being "air-lifted" to the Children's Hospital in Ottawa and that he has a head injury...not sure how bad.

To make a long story short...Sebastian is fine...he has a neck brace that he has to leave on for two weeks and he has to refrain from physical activity...yeah right...good luck with that one! Feel sorry for me, please, trying to keep HIM busy!

Felicity's performance went off without a hitch. Another very proud moment for momma.

And I am tired. Are all days this crazy exciting in a big family? Not all...but put it this way...I am NEVER bored. :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Goodbye Perfectionism, Hello Creativity!

Ok, so we finally unearthed the scrapbook albums and have begun the daunting task of catching up on the past 10 years of photos (10 years, I kid you not!). When Felicity (our eldest) was born, a friend of mine introduced me to "Creative Memories" which is a company that sells and promotes beautiful scrapbook photo albums. I went to a class, and I was hooked!

I diligently began to document her every smile, sneeze and burp and within 2 years had completed TWO fully decorated albums of just HER. Christian (born 17 months later) has about 1 and a half albums of his baby years...Sebastian (born 2 1/2 years later) has one baby album...Sophia (born 2 years later) has one album...and so get the picture!

Well, you can imagine how many baby pictures I have in albums for my subsequent children (I have 6 children younger than Sebastian. You do the math!) To put it bluntly, some of my poor, deprived children only have an album title page and my youngest doesn't even yet have an album! Yes, I know I am as horror stricken as you are right now!

I promised myself that I wouldn't be one of those moms. I was going to make everything fair...make sure everyone felt equally special. What happened? Life happened, I guess.

So when I finally took my head out of the sand and looked at the reality of how I had failed so dismally...I decided that I needed some help...some "back up". And guess what? I have two wonderful daughters (ages 12 and 10) who were totally willing to step up to the plate and help me get caught up.

Now, as wonderful as this all sounds...I have had to do some major LETTING GO. I want the albums done, right? Then I couldn't be hovering constantly to make sure everything was symmetrical...every sticker exactly where I would put it. My daughters need creative freedom...just like I do. I also don't have the time to nit pick.

So okay, I open up my 6 year old's album to the 2 page spread of her baptism. There is a beautiful picture of all of us gathered for this solemn occasion...with the words written under it (by my 10 year old) "O.M.G. I didn't realize I was so popular!"

Do I laugh or cry?! I think I need to let go and laugh. Not only is our family history being recorded, but so is my daughter's quirky sense of humour. Who says family photo albums have to be all stuffy and formal, anyway, right?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Conquering the Mountain

Yesterday was the first official day of March break. The kids have been eagerly anticipating this day for weeks. Me, well, I have been a little more "apprehensive" shall we say. :) The weather is still "wettish" and unpredictable...what on earth am I going to do with these little bundles of energy for 9 days?

I got to talking with my friend and she said that she had planned one little outing for each day of the week. Something for the kids (and mom) to look forward to. Great advice! So much better to make proactive plans like that than reactive ones like "how about you guys go sit on a wet snowbank for an hour, and make your own fun?"...and start into those stories of "when I was a kid we used to trudge though 2 feet of snow to the back 40...blah blah blah" know the ones I mean. :)

So...I dusted off my old ski boots and took two of my children to our local ski hill yesterday. You should have seen the look of surprise on the guys face as he helped my daughter and I onto the ski lift.

I tried to look all confident...praying I wouldn't fall on my butt as I rode that silly contraption up the hill. My heart was in my throat, but my six year old and I made it safely to the incidents! Yay! This was going well.

Then we got to to the top of the mountain (I use that term lightly, it's really more like a small hill), and I had to take a deep breath. This was higher than I remembered. "Ok Meg, let's go" I said with more confidence than I felt. She was looking at me for cues. I couldn't panic. Besides, what goes up, must come down...right?

So away we went...and to make a long story short, we had a WONDERFUL time!! The weather was perfect...we made it up and down the hill multiple times with no huge incidences, and we now have memories that will last a lifetime!

My legs are rebelling a bit this morning having rediscovered muscles I haven't used in a while, but I feel good about making fun memories with my kids, trying something new, being good to my body and conquering my fears.

I'm actually excited about March break now. I'm more in the thinking "what adventure can we embark on today?", instead of "how can I keep from going crazy"? I've promised the kids we'd unearth our scrapbook photo albums and get creative.

I have heart palpitations thinking of all the work and mess involved...but I also know that sometimes we have to conquer those "mountains of fear" and forge out into uncomfortable territory in order to really live the life we want.