Friday, June 18, 2010


I've posted this on my family blog but also wanted to post it here, because I know there are different readers at each blog.

So I was going to write today about all sorts of things going on in our lives right now. I figured that since it had been so long since I last wrote, it was time to update you all.

But instead, when I logged onto facebook this morning I was greeted with a request by a family I knew back when I first became a mom. We were both very young moms together and spent a lot of Micah's first year playing with them. Then I moved to the city and we lost contact, other than through facebook.

I heard last year that her youngest daughter was born at 24 weeks and has been struggling ever since. Her lungs didn't have any time to develop and so she has been fighting to breathe and has not yet left the hospital. Her family live about an hours drive from the children's hospital here and if that wasn't enough of a burden with five other children, they've just received news that they'll have to travel to another province on Monday to see a lung specialist.

This is not a well off family. They're not even middle class. This is a young, struggling family with a child who desperately needs help.

Her aunt posted today asking for any financial help people can spare. One of the downsides of being poor yourself, is that most of the people you know are poor too. I've contacted her aunt about how to donate myself, but I thought I would pass on the request to anyone else out there who might be in the position to give.

If you would like to read more about little Amy Lee, visit her facebook group here

Friday, April 30, 2010

April Decluttering

It's been a busy month and so I've barely gotten rid of anything. I've also not posted on here or my other blog. Oh well, there's always next month.

So the list:

70 clothing items
3 pairs of shoes
1 necklace
1 iron-on frog thing

Most of this came from going through the older two boys' closet a couple of weeks ago. I still have the boxes and boxes of clothes in the basement to go through as well as the younger two boys'. All of the items were donated to a used clothing store.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mom's no-bake cherry cheesecake

One of my favorite desserts growing up was this cherry cheesecake my mom made. It was usually for summer time or special occasions but now that I'm making it for my own family, we tend to have it a bit more often.

Yup, that's all cream cheese; I choose to turn a blind eye to the calories.

Um, and whipping cream...

This last picture just did not turn out right. I have no idea why the cherries are orange? Whatever color, this is sooo good.

The recipe:
Graham crust prepared to package directions (sometimes I use Oreo)
2 250g pkgs cream cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
Cherry pie filling*

Press crust into 9 x 13 dish* and chill. Blend cream cheese, whipping cream and sugar; beat until smooth. Pour over crust and smooth for even coverage. Spoon pie filling on top and chill for about an hour.
*I've never tried but I'm sure you could use any type of pie filling or even fresh fruit as your topping.
*I've always used a 9x13 dish but you could also use a 9" pie plate and have your crust come half way up the sides.

Friday, March 26, 2010

declutter challenge: late to the table

I've decided to join Amy and many other bloggers in their quest to rid their homes of 730 items of clutter in 365 days. I of course, am slow to the table and missed the first two months. But fear not! This house can use an overhaul and with four kids Im sure I can manage a measely 2.39 items per day.

I didn't really keep very good track through out the month of March but I did write down every little thing I got rid of when I cleaned out my bathroom cupboards.

So, the list:
5 bottles of nail polish
3 broken/old eye shadow pots
2 bottles of soothing cream for breast feeding
6 eye/lip liners
3 tubes lip gloss
4 bottles of lotion
expired peroxide
mini baby lotion
2 bottles of perfume I don't like
old travel size toothpaste
dried out package of face wipes
2 old medication bottles
old makeup case
baby wash that causes irritation
toothpaste that kids don't like
various bath beads/salts
shower glove?
single shower cap sample
various knick knacks

My total for the month of March is 42.

Way behind where I should be at this point, but also a good start!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Swistle's Muffins

One of the very first bloggers that I found was Swistle.

Awhile ago she posted a muffin recipe and at the time, I rarely made muffins from scratch. I don't even know why, really. So when I saw her recipe, I decided to try it and am I ever glad I did.

The great thing about this recipe is that it's really just a base. You can make any flavour of muffin, in any size you wish. Our favorites are pumpkin, cinnamon apple, or banana chocolate chip. Sometimes, I even mix a little of everything in.

Mmmmm, we like cinnamon!

When bananas go on sale, I buy double what I know we'll eat and I freeze them. They end up looking a bit gross but they're fine. An added bonus for this recipe is that when you freeze the bananas, their insides turn mushy so they're much easier to mash.

Anyway, on to the recipe:
Swistle's muffins

3.5 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
1-6 tsp spices (optional)
1.5 cups chocolate chips (optional)
4 eggs
2 cups mashed stuff (apple sauce, pumpkin, banana, baby food)
1 cup margarine/butter, melted
1-2 tsp extract (optional)
1 cup nuts (optional)
1 cup dried fruit (optional)

In seperate bowls, mix wet ingredients and whisk dry ingredients. Add dry mixture to wet and stir until combined. Divide into mufin tins. Bake in a preheated 350* oven for about 20 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your muffins and your oven.

This usually makes about a dozen large-ish muffins and a dozen mini muffins, which are then gone within a few hours around here.
Happy baking!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My favorite things, kitchen edition

There are a lot of reasons why I fell in love with this house. It's not the biggest house and it's not the nicest, but to me it's perfect. Today I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite things that were a part of the house, before we moved in. Maybe Ill even make this a permanent feature!

So, today Ill start with the kitchen, just because that's what I took pictures of.

We have an eat-in kitchen with no formal dining room. We spend a lot of time in here, as you can imagine and it's the one room in the house that I insist on having clean.

Neither Jason nor I could remember what color the walls were painted or what the window treatments looked like when we left after signing the papers, before moving in. Thankfully, the walls were ugly and gave me an excuse to paint! But the even better news was that I looooved the window treatments. There are two windows in this room, one in the eating area and one above the sink.

This one is above the sink:

And this one is by our table:
If you can remember my post yesterday about my kitchen mat, you'll notice the similar colors in the curtains. That is one of the reasons why it ended up in the room.
I absolutely love the way these curtains look. They're easy, no-fuss and keep out a good proportion of light. My younger brother (who lives with us) likes to take them down though to block out the sun while he is on his lap top. I cant tell you how much it drives me crazy! I can just never get them back the way they were. Other than that though, they are perfect.
The other great thing is the chalkboard painted directly on the side of our pantry. It goes all the way to the ceiling so there is lots of room and the kids have somewhere to color, other than my walls! That artwork was actually done before we moved in, but I cant bring myself to erase it. Ha!

So there you have it: my favorite things, kitchen edition

Total post time: 18 minutes

This post is part of the mom's 30 minute blog challenge

Monday, February 1, 2010

the story of a mat

When we moved into this home one of the main things on our "to buy" list was a rug of some sort for each of the main rooms. Our last house had mostly carpet and floor coverings just wasn't a priority. But this house is crazy cold on the feet. Directly below my living room is Jason's unfinished workshop/mancave, so of course I wanted to start with that room.

I've searched many a store and have yet to come up with the perfect one. A few months ago I found one I really liked but it was like the baby brother to what I actually needed. I thought maybe it could go in the hallway that's adjacent to the living room, so I brought it home.

Annnnnd, it didn't work.

It looked terrible and the cats tried to use it as a play thing.

So I moved it into the kitchen, where it actually really worked. That room has just kind of fell into it's color scheme and somehow random things I bring home, end up completely working in there. I guess Im just drawn to a certain color set.

Within minutes, I started to have my doubts about this mat and my house. It wasn't big enough for my living room, it just didn't look right in the hallway, the cats seemed to really like it and now it's too slippery for my linoleum kitchen! What the heck could I DO with it?

It was actually Jason's idea to add the non-stick mat. He had some from his bachelor days hidden away in a box and came to my rescue when I was out of ideas.
It's been there for probably three months now and the non-stick thingy is actually holding up really well.

In the end, Im pretty happy this wasn't available in a larger size. I mean I like it, but it just wouldn't have looked right with the new color scheme for the living room. Which, by the way, I can't wait to show you. It's seriously turning into my favorite room in the house and I've barely started it yet. Now, if I could just get Jason to finish all those lovely projects I've asked for...

Monday, January 18, 2010

My new signature,
isn't working how I'd like it to. When I made it in photoshop, I made sure to create an opaque background so the big, ugly, white box wouldn't show up around it. Any ideas on how to fix that? Maybe I just have to mess with it a bit. Until then, it'll look a little strange, but who has the time for such things? The really sad part is that I have a diploma in graphic design and shoulda noticed before now.

because I know how you love pictures...

I had every intention of writing last week, I really did. But then I didn't and I can't really figure out why. So, instead of dealing with that issue, I think ima just gunna distract ya with pictures, m-kay?
This past weekend Jason and I headed to Home Depot to buy an air compressor for Jason and seeing as how I was already there and all, I decided to pick up some paint.
There are five rooms plus the main hallway that require paint so I picked up enough for three of those. It took me about a month to finish painting our upstairs bathroom so I figured any more than three rooms may be a bit much right now.
Strangely, the room Im most excited about painting, my kitchen, was not one of the rooms I bought paint for. So instead, Im going to first tackle another area that is driving me crazy: the hallways. This is the first part of the house when you walk in the front door and it looks terrible.
Maybe it's all the years of renting that have made me detest off-white walls. Or maybe it's because they're ugly. Who knows?
The main hallway is attached to the half stairs that lead to the bedrooms:

Which also means that whatever color I chose had to go with not one, but THREE different flooring styles:
It's also the area that I see most when sitting at my desk, in my living room. And yes, I do feel like Im in a prison with those dang things.

It's funny how light makes everything look different. The walls in the following picture are actually the same color:
The other issue I have is that above the stairs, going into my family room is home to some ugly ceiling. I wish the builders had just drywalled this wall, instead of making it to match the ceiling. I mean, it's not even above any one's head! How is that a ceiling?
Those walls that you see adjacent to the ugly ceiling/wall, ya those are textured too. and painted. They match the walls I'm attempting to paint and so I'm stuck doing them as well. For this I have no idea.
I know you're just dying for an after picture, but I sadly do not yet have one. Those pictures above were actually just taken minutes ago. But! I have the next best thing! Jason didn't believe the color I chose would dry darker than the color the walls already are, so I showed him:
The actual current color is somewhere in between both of those.

The new paint is Perfect Taupe by Behr which I got in their paint and primer in one line. Silly me thought I'd be able to find a color sample online, but it aint happening. Hopefully when I'm done painting I'll get some decent true-to-life pictures of what it really looks like.
Hurry back, I've got lots of posts lined up for the week, including my prep for a fabulous winter BBQ!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Works for Me Wednesday

Today, Im participating in my first-ever WFMW! And wouldn't ya know it's the backwards edition?

So my question to you is this:

What brand of paint is your favorite? I painted my first room a few months ago and apparently bought a really bad paint. It has taken four coats so far and it still needs another! I gave up though and just left it as is. So now that I'm about to start painting the bedrooms, I need some help.

If money wasn't an issue, what brand would be your definite choice? And also, when money IS an issue, what brand(s) do you find still work great?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

plans for our front entrance

Over the past several years since the divorce, I've been busy moving us from a run-down apartment to a couple of small houses (where I rented the top floors) and finally to this full size family home. It's been a challenge in a lot of ways, but we've done it and I can't express to you the pride I feel in doing that. Part of the reason why we can afford to live here is because Im no longer doing it on my own, Jason has been living with us since June '09. But added to that are the numerous sacrifices the boys and I have made, especially over the last year and a half.
One of the things I credit the most to the drastic change in our living arrangements is my unwillingness to spend money on things. There are a lot of things I don't buy but would love to have and I've been OK with that. I know we ALL do that, but for me it has even meant passing up that $2 item that I've been wanting for years. This past summer I actually went out and forced myself to buy a new outfit. And I just don't do that. Jason is really supportive of this and is always encouraging me to indulge in the odd treat and because of that I've gotten better. But I still have trouble parting with large sums of money and a lot of thought goes into my purchases.

So, what all this means is that my house is furnished with cheap, gifted or free items. Now that I have this house, I want to make it feel like more of a home. The hard part is doing that while still being able to AFFORD the house! I've got a million projects running around in my head but I've been slack on making them a reality. Not anymore!

I started with our main bathroom when we moved in because it had so little to do. I changed the paint color and decided on accessories but the rest was already done for me. I've got a couple things left to add to that room and then I'll do a reveal.

The next room should be my living room, because it's the room designated for ME. Jason has a workshop downstairs and the kids have pretty much taken over the rec room, so I get the living room. There is no TV in there and except for my computer, we don't use it a lot. But it is a beautiful room and I can't wait to get it done. Even with my frugal nature, it'll cost a fortune to do it up like I'd like, so instead I've focused my efforts on the front entryway. Im really great at coming up with what I'd like in a space, just not so good on the follow-through.

But that's where Jason comes in. These are pictures of what that space looks like right now. I try to keep it organized, but more often than not, this is the reality.

Jason tried to help me out a bit by putting up screws for the reusable grocery bags and that strip of wood to hang our jackets on. Thanks to that toddler, those grocery bags are usually on the floor and I still can't remember to use them.
BUT! I've come up with a plan! I tried verbally explaining to Jason what I was thinking for that space, but he just couldn't see it. So this past weekend we sat down and drew it out together. Then he took measurements and went to work. He ran out of material and so I have to wait for him to make a trip to Home Depot or Kent, but it's coming along.

Those shelves along the side are for baskets to keep the kids' hats/mittens/whatever in. Then there is the bar to hang jackets which will be more space effective that the present screws in the wall.
The bottom will be a little trickier because there were a few elements that we needed to incorporate. First, there will be a bench with space underneath for shoes/boots. Behind that is where the side shelf will sit and there will also be a flip lid to a compartment where the older two can fit their school bags.
Im so excited about this! Hopefully if I stay on him, Jason will be able to finish the main construction of this in a couple of weeks. In the mean time Im going to work on finding some cheap baskets for the shelves and deciding on a color scheme.
Be sure to come back for the reveal and stick around for a few more DIY projects I've got planned.

Monday, January 4, 2010

child friendly gift

I know that most of us are ready to take a break from reading about gifts for awhile but I had to share this child-friendly, homemade gift my boys made for their half-sister. I saw this done so many places this year and planned to try it out for at least one Christmas gift. But then my brain failed me and I found myself without a gift for my boys' one year old sister about a week before Christmas. I knew this is what I wanted to give her because it involved the boys so much but I had just completely forgotten about it. So I ran out to Wal-Mart, bought $10 worth of pretty fabric and put my guys to work.
The younger ones (3 and 5) didn't have as much interest in it as I had hoped, but the 8 year old stuck it out to the end. They all contributed in their own way and that's what I was really looking for.

I started by laying both pieces out flat and trimming them to match. Then I pinned around the edges to keep them together while I cut strips. This part was a little tricky because we did it on my living room floor and had to keep sliding it around so that I could reach.
When I was finished cutting one side, Rayden was able to start tying the pieces together. It was a little tricky to keep track of the pairs at first but after awhile, he figured out a rhythm where he held the finished pieces under one foot.

I think it turned out beautiful and the boys were really proud of the finished product. We tied it up ribbon-style with strips of the fabric that I had cut off to make the pieces match in the beginning. It's too bad I didn't take a picture of that (or more of the butterfly side, it was precious).

After all was said and done, I was very pleased with the whole project from start to finish. The supplies were easy to find, the concept was easy to understand and we had fun making it. Next time, I'll try for a larger blanket (we used a square metre) and maybe add some ribbon to the knots.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

spices and organization love

One thing that you'll likely get to know about me is that I love organization. Im a very Type-A meets obsessive tendencies kinda girl and I've been known to do some crazy things! Why just the other day I had a meltdown in front of Jason and his MOM because I came through the door and got bombarded with needs/wants/questions from everyone (including the cats!) and couldn't just put my darn purse away! I have a system, you see and when that system gets interrupted, AHHHHH!

Anywho, moving on.

So Jason being the observant obediant partner that he is, decided to give me a cute little spice organizer for Christmas. He got major points for that one, let me tell you.

And because I'm participating in TDC's before and after party, here's my before:

And my after:


I know you're probably a little shocked that I didn't have one of these before now, but seriously I don't spend money on myself. Technically this could be considered something for the family, but because it's not really needed, I could just never justify it.