Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Resolutions

Well, the world didn't end in 2012 so I had to rack my brain and come up with some new year's resolutions!

2013 will be the year of IDENTITY for me. This is the year I turn 40, and I'm bound and determined not to take all my silly emotional baggage with me into my forties!

Something I noticed this holiday season when I was catching up with a few friends via email is that when I send out those updates on my life, there is always a pattern to how I do it. First, I talk about the Captain--his job, his garden, and what he'll be doing in the coming year (Afghanistan...again...ugh...). Then I move onto Firstborn--his town fair accomplishments, his love of lego and video games and my plans to get him swimming every week to improve his skills and get him off the couch. Next, I move onto RB--his therapy, how he's doing in school, and the things he does that make us laugh. If I feel I have enough time and space left after all that, I will finish up by mentioning the pets, and then wish all my friends a happy and healthy new year before signing off.

Did you notice anything missing in all that?

As it turns out, since I stopped working (and 2013 will mark the TEN YEAR anniversary of that. Yeesh!), I have had little, if anything at all, to tell people about ME. I've effectively rendered myself invisible. How sad is that?!

I really don't want to go back to work right now. There's still a little too much going on for me to consider that a sane idea. And anyway, I agree with the European notion that we are far more than just what we do for a living. So keeping that in mind, I need to focus on something beyond housework (which I mostly don't do anyway...) and my family before I disappear completely!

I'd like to tell you I have a 10-point plan with bullet lists and an accompanying slide show made up in order to accomplish this goal. That's just the kind of thing that would have me all thrilled and excited about the new year. But I'm not quite there yet. I do, however, have a question ready to ask myself in order to turn this resolution into a reality, and not just some hazy pipe dream I concocted while delirious from two weeks' worth of overindulgence.

Could I put anything I did this week into a Christmas letter?

While I promise not to treat all my friends and family next Christmas to a 30-page letter detailing every nutty thing I set my mind to throughout the year, my goal is to get to the end of each week with something noteworthy to say for myself. This is going to mean trying new things. Or maybe taking the things I do now to a new level. Something that might require a little risk on my part. And everyone who knows me knows that I hate risk.

But if I want to hit 40 with a sense that my life is about more than just packing lunches and hemming other people's pants, I need to get to work. So bring it on, 2013!

Thanks for sticking with me for yet another crazy year, despite my long absences. You guys keep me honest! A happy and healthy New Year to all of you!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

All I want for Christmas is for everyone to show up for dinner tomorrow wearing pants...

From my crazy house to yours, peace, love and a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

As Seen On TV!

For some time now I've been making fun of the Eggies commercial, which seems to run continuously from 11 at night until about 6 in the morning here in Manitoba. I think this (completely stupid) product might only be available in Canada, so here's the video if you happen to be lucky enough not to get this where you live:

As you can see, the makers of this product have pegged us as a society so stupid, lazy and rich that we need to buy something to deliver us from the horrific inconvenience of peeling our own hard-boiled eggs. Ridiculous, right?

I totally want it.

After months of rolling my eyes through the entire ad, and laughing at the outrageously stupid woman who can't peel an egg without turning the thing into a gelatinous, inedible mess on her counter, the over-excited disembodied commercial voice telling me to buy Eggies  has finally gotten inside my head. Every time I peel an egg, I wonder "would Eggies make this easier?"

Until last week, I could only wonder. While I might be the exact fool the makers of Eggies are targeting, the $12.99 price tag was still a little steep for me. But during a quick trip to my local thrift store, guess what I found for a buck!

The fact that one of the Eggies was missing should've been my first clue that things were not going to go well. But in my defense, I was excited to find 5 obviously brand-new Eggies for such an amazing deal. I got them home, put them through the dishwasher and excitedly brought a pot of water to a boil.

Oh. My. God.

The first thing they neglect to mention in the commercial is that each Eggie has about 5 parts that have to go together perfectly in order for your eggs not to explode all over the place.  Sorting out all the parts and putting them together took me a good 5 minutes, which was essentially the amount of time using these things was supposed to save me during the peeling process. But I kept an open mind, cracked my eggs and screwed everything together good and tight. One minute into the boiling process, my pot of Eggies looked like this:


So we have two of my four eggs leaking out into the boiling water and foaming up over the side of the pot. Well, that still leaves two eggs. Not terrible, I suppose. Let's let the last two cook and then we'll slip them out with ease and enjoy two perfectly-boiled eggs without the inconvenience of peeling, just like all those happy people in the commercial!

Um...not so much.

After cleaning up the exploded egg mess, I twisted open my two remaining Eggies, only to find that my eggs were well and truly glued to the insides. Scooping them out created a mess that was actually worse than the traditional egg-peeling scene in the commercial, and I felt like a real sucker. Nowhere was it mentioned that you have to spray every separate part of these insane things with cooking spray to keep your eggs from sticking. True, this might be something that common sense should've told me, but let's remember that I am the person who is taken in by the Eggies commercial. I have no common sense! And you can bet I wasn't going to stand at the sink for half an hour scrubbing the egg off of everything when I was already only just breaking even on time as it was. Into the garbage they went!

Thus ends my love-affair with yet another ridiculous As-Seen-On-TV product, and I'm back to the horror of peeling all my boiled eggs the old-fashioned way. On the plus side, this learning experience only cost me a buck, so technically I'm still up $11.99.

I wonder if the Sham Wow guy has anything new to sell me...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


A Happy Halloween from Thing 1 and Thing 2!

RB refused to put my homemade feathery wig on, so I had to spray-paint his hair, which really didn't go over much better. That stuff wipes right off, so he spent all morning smearing it on his shirt, on his father's lunch bag, and all over his face. Next year, we will choose costumes that don't require anyone to change their hair!

Have a safe and happy night, Trick-or-Treaters!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hot Glue Friday: Halloween!

Do you get the idea that maybe I'm not the kind of blogger who can start a thing and actually stick with it?

Here are some crafts that should've made it into several Hot Glue Friday posts but instead are all lumped in together today because I found 5 minutes to spare. Perhaps from now on I should share this stuff, regardless of what day of the week it is, and just call it a "craft post"!

Up first, we have my fall wreath, made entirely out things from my mother's basement. Thanks, Mum!

And this is the wreath I have on my door at present. Once again, just about everything on it was obtained when my parents came out to visit in August and brought me half the contents of my mum's craft room. The base for this wreath was a canning rack my canning-free mother mysteriously had lying around for no good reason, still wrapped in plastic. I'm starting to see where I get my crazy shopping habits.

Despite growing enough pumpkins this summer to elicit numerous comments from people every time I went to town to fetch my mail, I had no energy for carving this year. So the boys and I fiddled around with a hot glue gun and some bits and pieces from around the house to come up with these guys. They remind me a lot of the little old men who used to hang around in front of McD's at 4:45 AM, way back when I worked there, waiting for the place to open.

These are my spider earrings. I bought a bag of plastic spiders at the dollar store (which means I have enough left to make earrings for about 200 of my closest friends), used a thumb tack to poke a hole in the bottom end of each, and then trimmed down two eye pins, jammed them in the holes, and attached them to ear wires. And yes, that is snow fence stapled up to the outside of my bedroom window. Let's just say that RB has been at it again and leave it at that, shall we?

Happy Halloween, everyone! I'm trying out a brain-shaped jello mold this weekend, so obviously my next post should be pretty thrilling...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hot Glue Friday!

I have a million little crafts to share, but this one required no glue. Yesterday, Firstborn turned 9. NINE! Where does the time go?!

Most nine year-old boys request cakes with Johnny Test, or Scooby Doo, or one of those seizure-inducing action-adventure anime things from Japan. Here's what I made at Firstborn's request:

I ask you, what nine year-old asks for a Metallica-themed birthday cake? Apparently, it's this one:

Happy Birthday, metalhead.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Mother of All Haircuts

I learn absolutely everything the hard way.

About three weeks ago, Firstborn took his shaggy unkempt mop of a hairdo to a friend's house for a sleepover. At some point during the evening, the boys decided that he needed to lose a little length, but just in the bang area. This is what he came home looking like:

Remember those weird kids from Village of the Damned?

So out came my trusty hair clippers and off came the rest of Firstborn's hair. Afterwards, he looked like a different kid:

So far so good. And this was where I decided to push my luck a little farther and also give RB his own buzz cut. I should've quit while I was ahead.

I guess I should mention that the hair clippers I use to cut my kids' hair are the same clippers I used to use to cut the Captain's hair back when we were starving students who couldn't afford an $8 haircut at BoRics. In short, they are very, VERY old. They are so old that they came with a VHS instructional video showing you how to give your kid a flat-top, which the hair clipper company cleverly deemed the "urban cut". This is what the urban cut looks like if you do it right:

I dare anyone to go anywhere, urban or otherwise, sporting this haircut.

I got RB into the bathroom and started buzzing the hair off his little head when out of absolutely nowhere, the plastic guide (I think hairdressers call this a "cheater"?) that was supposed to keep me from cutting his hair shorter than 1/4" popped off and I cut a bald spot off the top of his head:

This elicited some panic and squealing from me, and by the time the Captain had stomped in and stomped out again, my blood pressure was somewhere around that area on the doctor's chart that helpfully points out that you're dead.

But RB's hair was only half cut and I needed to finish the job. I took a deep breath, reattached the guide and continued to buzz away. And then...IT HAPPENED AGAIN!!!

Right on the side of his head! Luckily, the Captain--always level-headed and calm in an emergency--heard my shrieks, came running in and yelled "WHAT are you doing WRONG?!" and then ran back out, leaving me to figure out what on earth I was going to do with the ancient hair clippers that had left my poor child looking like he'd just been through a round of chemo.

Oh, right.

Luckily hair grows fast and the bald spots have grown back in just in time for RB's very first picture day at school next week. And I have learned the valuable lesson that a trained hairdresser is worth the fifteen bucks. Or at least that I need to re-watch that instructional video once in a while.

Long live the urban cut.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Time for a New Post??

I've spent a blissful hour this morning catching up and visiting with old blog friends. I've been gone a long time, I know. But so have some of you, so I know I'm not the only one who had a crazy summer!

Here's the latest from me:

My baby has gone off to kindergarten! Boo hoo! Unlike Firstborn, who mugs for the camera every chance he gets, RB doesn't look too thrilled in this shot (I'm finding it harder and harder to get him to look at the camera and smile at the same time), but rest assured when the bus showed up he was grinning from ear to ear.

I made the mistake of following the bus to school (yeah, I know...) and walking him to his class on the first day, despite the fact that I knew his home tutor/classroom aide would be dutifully waiting there for him. When he realized I wasn't staying for the morning he started crying and carrying on. He put on a pretty great show because by the time I got back to the truck to book it out of there, I was bawling like an idiot. According to reports, the second I was out of sight, he was having the time of his life with all the other kids. Rotten little jerk.

No doubt about it, this place has never been so quiet. I'm hoping it'll give me more time to fix up my falling-down house, craft like there's no tomorrow and blog a little more frequently again. Actually, I have a great story to share about those awful buzz cuts my kids are sporting. There's a reason RB likes to wear a hat...
 Stay tuned.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ring the Bells!

It's a red letter day here at the 2kids2dogs household! This evening we will kick off our second annual family staycation, it's the Captain's birthday and, of course, there's a little something else happening today as well:

Is anyone else as excited for London 2012 as I am?

Here's wishing you all a great weekend, and a great summer Olympic experience! News, photos and hilarious shenanigans to come!

*Post-script: I have no idea why the background text colours here are all wonky. Pretend I did it on purpose because I'm quirky like that...

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Fair!

Well, I know you've all been sitting on the edge of your seats wondering if my date-nut muffins came third-out-of-three again at the town fair (they did!), so here's the lowdown.

First up is my sad little attempt at sewing--something I've never done for the fair before. My Barbie dress, veil and knitted shrug didn't place, and with good reason. The dress features uneven stitching and puckers galore! But I had fun making it and I'm sure my nieces won't be picky enough to worry about the shoddy workmanship.

My homemade earrings came second in the jewellery category. This sounds quite impressive until I tell you that there were only two entries. Next year I may go back to designing a necklace, which is a little more complex and seems to impress the judges more.

Finally, a first-place entry! And there was a little competition for this one, so I was very pleased to win for my cards. I also came first in the health baking category, for my gluten-free bean bread, but I'm pretty sure I'm the only fool who entered that bizarre category.

And finally, my Jubilee-themed crown for the cake decorating contest. This year, I lost to a lady who piped the queen's face on a sheet cake. I kid you not! She deserved to win, and I still got $15 for my second-place lumpy-bumpy-diabetic-coma-waiting-to-happen, which frankly is nothing to sneeze at!

What I was most thrilled about was how Firstborn did at the fair this year. He always makes a lego creation, and this year he moved into a higher age category, so I was a little worried he'd be outclassed by the big kids. But for the second year in a row he took first place! He also came first in the Fleischmann's yeast bread baking contest, which he was so excited about because the loaf he entered was his very first attempt at bread-baking ever. Check out that ribbon! Now, when I ask him to clean his room, he looks down his nose and reminds me that I am speaking to an award-winning baker.

We all knew the town fair was going to create a monster, but who'd have guessed it wouldn't be me?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

It's Canada Day!

Have a great day, my fellow Canadians!

Where I live, the town fair just happens to coincide with Canada Day. I entered 6 things this year, so I'll be back soon to let you know how I did!

Happy Canada Day! Best ever reason to fire up the barbecue!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Gosh, that was rather a long break. But you guys are used to it by now so I'll just go on like nothing happened.

A quick catch-up in pictures:

Firstborn recently had his track and field day at school. Like everyone else in this family, he has the most fun when he's sitting around on the sidelines.

RB has started getting himself his own snacks. I think I should get this kid playing tetris.

I joined Firstborn on his class field trip last week. We had a tour of Pioneer Village and then all the third graders were put to work. Now I know who to send out to the yard to stir up the compost pile.

RB had his first school bus ride on Monday. The school has organized a couple more for next week just so he gets the feel of riding the bus before he has to do it for real in September. If Monday's ride was any indication, I'm pretty sure I've been over-thinking this.

And finally, the Captain's garden is in! Before we know it, we'll be overrun with tomatoes, raspberries, and potato bugs. He likes to try something new out there every year so it's always fun to see what comes up. Our summers are now marked in my memory by whatever weird thing he planted that spring. I still have nightmares about the year of the exploding huckleberries...

That's it for now, but I'm anticipating lots more to come. Happy summer, everyone!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pop Quiz

Have you ever:
  • Cleaned poop off the walls?
  • Wondered why even the dog eats before you do?
  • Been told your new haircut makes you look like Benny Hill, Velma from Scooby Doo, or Professor Snape?
  • Taken your first pee break in 8 hours, only to hear an almighty crash from the living room just as your pants hit your ankles?
  • Had your cooking referred to as "slop"?
  • Escorted a naked child and his soccer ball back inside the house?
  • Worn plastic beaded jewellery that gave you a rash?
  • Realized that that god-awful song you can't get out of your head comes from a Barney video?
  • Looked in the mirror and gasped in horror at the disheveled, crazy-eyed cat lady looking back at you?
  • Asked "Good lord, WHAT is that smell?!"
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, I'd like to wish you a very Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Doctor In the Family

This evening, Brother #2 received his PhD in Chemistry from Florida State University. Needless to say, we are all very proud.

Firstborn and I watched the entire 3-hour long ceremony (including the six thrilling seconds my brother was actually on the stage) via webcast. Here are some photos:

Photo stolen from courtesy of Sister #4, who was physically present for the festivities (and not sitting in freezing cold Manitoba just wishing she was).

And here he is being hooded. My overactive imagination half-expected the professor to fall backwards and accidentally strangle him, but everything went off without a hitch.

One of the best parts of watching this ceremony via webcast was that I could wear sneakers and jeans, crunch noisily on chips, and chit-chat with Firstborn while we waited for the main event. As always, Firstborn made some astute observations:

(While watching the Criminology grads walk across the stage) "Will these guys get jobs with the SWAT team?"

"Was your graduation this dull?"

"I bet he'll be a better doctor than Dr. Zoidberg."

One can certainly hope.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Butt Circles!

Yes, you read that right. I have another terrifying tale of thrift store kerfuffles for you.

Now, since promising you all that I wouldn't set foot in Value Village anymore, I have made one trip back. But I had a good reason. RB needed some toys for his program, and I was also looking for a specific book I needed for the long-distance book club my sisters and I are trying out. On both counts, VV completely redeemed itself. I found the book (Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene, for those of you who are looking for a good read) within a minute of stepping into the fiction section for 99 cents. I also found several of the toys on my list, for much less than I'd have paid new. I did also look at clothes, but nothing has changed for me on the prices there, so I behaved myself and got out before my impulses took over. All in all, a successful trip to VV!

Now, when I decided to go through my closet to get myself ready for spring, on the other hand, I discovered something quite shocking.

Sometimes when I go thrifting I have a child or two with me. And when that's the case, trying on clothes is completely out of the question. It's also probably a good reason not to buy any either, but I really am the type of person who has to find these things out the hard way.

At some point over the winter, I came across what I thought was a cute denim skirt in my size. I thought it'd be great for summer. Did I need the denim skirt? Of course not. My other two denim skirts should've been perfectly sufficient. But I bought it anyway. Because that's the way I roll. And here, as I discovered months later when I finally tried it on, is the result:

Butt circles!

And just in case you're having trouble seeing what I'm talking about, I've monochromed and contrasted the problem for you:

Computer-retouched butt circles!

I think we can all agree that this skirt is not wearable. That's probably why it was donated to VV in the first place. So now I have to decide whether buying a $5 pack of fabric dye (bringing the total cost of the second-hand item to about $12) is worth the bother, or whether to just call it a day and enjoy the other two perfectly respectable denim skirts I already own.

But more importantly, I am extremely curious as to how this skirt came to have two very prominent faded circles right on the butt. Was this the company's disastrous attempt at a new trend in clubwear? Had the guy at the factory just handed in his two weeks notice and figured he'd have some fun in the dye vat? Was the previous owner prone to sitting on her power sander? 

As it turns out, the thrift store is a place of infinite mystery.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Little Project

In an attempt to help RB with his pretend play skills, I turned an old, unused Ikea computer table into a little play kitchen for him. I am no woodworker, and this is by no means a professional-looking job, but here's the makeover anyway.


Ugly, orange, peeling and--as I discovered during the sink installation--cardboard on the inside.


Brits of a certain age might recognize my subtle nod to the classic AGA. Okay, fine. It's a pretty subtle nod. The last time I checked, the AGA didn't have a sink built in...

...or a white board on the side... 

...or curtains underneath. 

But it's got a certain retro charm, no? I wanted to paint spiral burners, but my hand is just not that steady anymore.

These old, cheap towel  bars were hanging in our (hideous) bathroom when we moved in. The voices in my head told me to stash them in the workshop for a rainy day. Proof that you should always listen to the voices...

 I had to hang the oven door upside down because RB loves sitting on any appliance door that opens the normal way. Just ask my dishwasher.


So that's my little project. Everything I used came from around the house and workshop, except for the hinges and the screws for the "taps", which came to just over $6 at the hardware store. All the paint (except for the whiteboard stuff, which has been sitting around in the workshop for months, so I don't count it as new) and the plywood for the shelf and oven door were leftovers from past renovations. The curtains were made with fabric from my stash, and the burner knobs were stolen from RB's wooden lacing set. A very cheap (but slightly labour-intensive) project. Firstborn loves it, and has had fun coming up with a new menu on the side. RB just wants to climb in the bottom and close the curtains.

So much for pretend play.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Not Dead!

How many times have I had to use that as my title now? I promise to improve soon. My next job (which will probably take me another 2 weeks) will be to catch up with all my blog pals before hopefully getting back into the swing of regular posting. In the meantime, enjoy the thrilling highlights of the past fortnight.

The entire family came down with a horrendous flu-like bug that was going around Firstborn's class. The kids got stomach symptoms. The Captain and I were thankfully spared those, at least. But after having to soldier on for two weeks when I just wanted to lay down and die, I will take herbs, teas and kooky hippie supplements every day for the rest of my life rather than ever get sick again. I suppose I could also eat better.

RB has a new tutor! Finally! After 2 1/2 months of searching, his program provider has finally sent us someone new, and she is settling into the job really well. At the risk of tempting fate, I think we might finally have the dream team we've been looking for to work with our little monster! A few of you were wondering what on earth was taking so long, and the answer is that we live in the middle of nowhere. It's really that simple. Living where we do makes finding anyone to do anything a bit of a challenge. But when you're looking for someone to do a really important, demanding job like this one, finding the right person is nothing short of a kerfuffle. If you don't believe me, ask the mass of new grey hairs on top of my head, or the bags under my eyes. My next house will be smack in the middle of the city!

In other good news, I've completed a 5-minute wreath just in time for Easter. Behold:

If you'd like to do this, and have five minutes to spare, all you need is a circle of cardboard, a bag of basket grass, two dozen dollar-store plastic eggs, some ribbon and/or tulle for a bow and a hot glue gun. If you have a cat, the fun is doubled.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I'll be back soon!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What Would Bet Lynch Do?

If you're not a longtime fan of Coronation Street like me, ignore the title. It's just not that important to the content of this post. And when I claim to be a "longtime fan", I mean that I watched the show with my parents from about the age of three and then finally gave up a few years ago after the plot lines got too ridiculous and sensational. When the writers go back to penning stories that involve Norris choosing his wardrobe for his upcoming summer holiday to Bournemouth while Rita makes pithy remarks from the back room of The Cabin (are Norris and Rita still alive?), I'll start tuning in again.

But I digress. Here's what I actually want to talk about:

My new leopard-print jacket! I am one peroxide job away from being Bet's younger sister.

This jacket is a perfect example of what I was talking about in my last post (has it really been almost 2 weeks? Yeesh!). I found this while having a leisurely browse through a few of my favourite online window-shopping stores. This faux-fur leopard-print jacket was in the Cleo clearance section. The original tag on it was $200, and I got it for $30. On my last trip to Value Village, I found a few similar used coats of lesser quality than this one in the $50 range. I won't harp on it. I did that last time. But this strengthens my resolve to stay out of that place.

When my coat arrived in the mail, I ripped it open and pretty much just stuck my face into the amazing furry softness. My mom had a couple of faux-fur coats in the early 80's and I can promise you they didn't feel anything like this. Faux has come a long way! 

Then I had a look at the attached tags and discovered that, in addition to the insane discount and dreamy softness, this coat is also safe to put in my washer and dryer. No dry cleaning required! Can you hear angels singing yet? This is the thrift shopper's equivalent of winning the lottery and on the same day discovering that Colin Firth has a crush on you! So, as you can probably guess, I'm feeling rather pleased with myself. 

And also a bit like putting on a low-cut top and some stiletto heels and pulling a few pints...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Breakup

Judging from the response I got on my last post, I think I made this Value Village situation seem much more exciting than it actually was. Like most breakups, no one thing just "happened". This breakup has been a long time in coming.

For the last year or so, I've been noticing something curious every time I go to good old Village des Valeurs. All my favorite brands (ie. the ones I can't generally afford to buy new and at their regular price) have been steadily becoming more expensive. To some extent, I expect this. Value Village has a much larger selection than the average little thrift store, and everything is well-organized, so sizes and specific types of items are much easier to find than anywhere else. I'll pay a little more for this kind of convenience. But only a little more.

When I started thrifting, I could easily find a pair of Gap jeans in the $5 range, and at our (now closed) small town thrift store I found several pairs for only a buck each just a couple of years ago. Even with inflation since that time, I think up to $8 is reasonable for a pair of second-hand jeans of a decent brand. But now, on average, I'm finding that Value Village is charging upwards of $13 for the brands that flatter my particular body type. At best, I'm getting them now for $10. If I find them for $8 or less, I look very closely, because it almost always means that they're fraying at the bottom or have a bleach stain or rip on them somewhere. As an all-round cheapskate, I'm rather good at finding deals everywhere I go, so I know that if I wait for a really good sale on the Old Navy/Gap website, I can find a pair of brand new jeans for $10 or less. So why on earth would I buy them used, worn and in need of at least one good wash for the same price or higher at a second-hand store?!

After picking up the Captain on Thursday, we made our usual trek to the big Value Village and I walked around the entire place, becoming more and more frustrated every time I found something cute that I wanted to buy, only to find that the price was barely less than I would pay on clearance from the original retailer. In a few cases, factoring in the cost of dry cleaning actually made the item more expensive than buying it new. In the end, I walked out of there with only a few books and toys for the kids, and absolutely nothing for me. That has literally never happened before. Value Village robbed me of the one true thrill of thrifting--finding an exceptional deal on something I love. And that's when I decided that enough is enough. The time has come. I need to see other thrift stores.

So that's it. Value Village and I are broken up, kaput, splitsville. Should I ever again find myself somewhere as stylish as Montreal, I may give in to the odd holiday fling. But as my main thrifting squeeze, Value Village has become way too needy.

Even in Manitoba where the thrifting opportunities are much more scarce than in other places, the opportunities do still exist. As they say, there are lots of fish in the sea. I just need to get out there and find them.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Have a Healthy Weekend. TGIF!

No craft this week, because I was busy picking up my husband from the airport and then breaking up with Value Village. More on that when the loss is not quite so raw...

Sister #2 (who is running a marathon this year) posted this great little video that spoke to me and my New Year's Resolution. If you have 10 minutes to spare, take a look. The message is worth it!

Back with a real post soon!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hot Glue Friday: St Patty's Day Wreath

TGIF, everyone! The Captain comes home next week so this'll be my last weekend alone with the kids for a while. Hooray!

Just a quick project to share--and it's so idiot-proof you won't even need a tutorial!

Despite not being the least bit Irish, I love a good St Patrick's Day celebration, and I like to start early. So as soon as Valentine's Day was over, I took down my pink wreath and got to work on a green one. Here's what I ended up with:

If you click on this you *should* be able to see a larger view.

This is what I think is known as a rag wreath. It's the kind of wreath we all made in grade school. Bend a wire hanger into a circle and start tying scraps of fabric onto it until you can't see the hanger anymore. I had some beautiful green satin in my stash, so I made strips of that, along with a few lighter green flannel strips for a bit of contrast, and tied knots until I could tie no more. I then crocheted myself a shamrock (cutting one out of felt would be easier and would give exactly the same effect), pinned a brooch I picked up at the thrift store for a buck to the middle of it, and then glued it to a piece of sequin trim I had lying around and attached it to the back of the wreath with hot glue. I finished it off by hot-gluing some chocolate coins I got at the dollar store all around it. Now all I need is some green beer and a t-shirt that says "Kiss Me, I'm Irish!" and I'm ready to party!

My only goal this weekend is to get around and visit all your blogs. Well, that and scoop the cat's litter box. Will I only get one of those jobs done? And if so, who will end up mad at me, you guys, or the cat?

My life is practically a soap opera.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Naked Destruction

I'm so very, very behind here. I had a new craft to share on Friday but life got in the way. Maybe next week. I also have an inbox full of your comments. I'm getting around slowly to visit you all, I promise. Still no tutor here, and I decided last week that it was time to go to Plan B. I enrolled RB in kindergarten for September. Three-quarters of me is thrilled. The rest is terrified.

A quick update:

This is what the thermostat in my bedroom looks like until the Captain can come home and re-attach it properly to the wall. RB is so bored without therapy, he's getting into everything. A couple of weeks back, he managed to not only pull the thermostat off the wall, but he actually disconnected it. We're lucky no one was electrocuted. Other ways he's been keeping himself busy:

  • Peeing in the toilet and then throwing his toys in there to hear the cool splash. 
  • Taking his clothes off and running around naked 40 times a day (very embarrassing when the school bus comes down the driveway and he's waving at it from our huge living room window). 
  • Getting into the kitchen cupboards and finding fun things to sprinkle all over the house. 

On Friday I turned my back for 5 minutes to find RB standing naked in the living room covered in what looked like blood from his chest, dripping all the way down his legs. One heart-attack later I realized he'd gotten into a jar of raspberry jam, which is why despite looking like he was bleeding to death, he also looked incredibly pleased with himself. I'm losing my hair here.

In an attempt to keep from going completely crazy, and since the weather has been so very nice, I've been trying to do outings with my little naked whirlwind. Last week, I took him to Booming Metropolis where we attempted 3 errands: Safeway, Bulk Barn and Dollarama. Safeway was easy due to the carts they have with the little truck on the front. RB loves to drive. No such smooth sailing with the other two. RB is much too big to fit into a regular shopping cart anymore, so we've been practicing walking around our small-town grocery store, which has been going well. I assumed it would be the same at Bulk Barn and the dollar store. Of course it was not.

The Bulk Barn has a million clear bins of snacks and candy. Why on earth would RB not be a little monkey when let loose in a place like that?! I had to hold his hand to keep him from running off while I was trying to scoop tapioca flour and raisins into bags. Needless to say, we left a trail of spills and messes all over the store. Dollarama was no better. RB was already getting tired by this point, and having toys and interesting little bits and pieces all within arms reach did not help matters. Next time, his father is coming with us!

So, I can't decide which is easier. We stay home and he destroys the house. We go out, and the house remains intact but I'm so exhausted by the end of it, I'm seeing double and hearing voices telling me to run for the hills. If we don't get a new tutor, it could go on like this until September!

Gin-and-tonic, anyone?!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hot Glue Friday: Valentines!

I wanted to tell you guys all about RB's naked day of destruction this week, but as nothing has changed around here (no Captain, no tutor) and it's been a crazy few days, I haven't gotten to it yet. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I did manage to complete another simple craft which I thought I'd share.

As Firstborn has not yet started complaining about my homemade valentines and asked me to buy him nice, socially acceptable, mass-produced Disney-themed ones from the store, I have continued to make them every year. With his help, of course.

This year, since his classroom teacher is also a music teacher, I went with a theme I thought would be appropriate. And since I've been fighting down the urge to run out and buy more craft supplies, having a mountain of  supplies here already, I looked around the house to see what was available.

For a long while now, my kids have been particularly careless with CD's and DVD's. As a result, we had a pile of scratched-up useless ones that, for one reason or another, didn't end up in the garbage. So I collected up the 19 I needed to be passed around his classroom, painted them with dollar-store black acrylic paint and made up some circular labels in my paint program to go on either side. Firstborn and I affixed the circles with a little glue and a brad in the middle, stuck stickers on one side and a roll of Rockets on the other, and voila!

My apologies for the fuzzy picture. I'm not kidding when I say it's been a bad week!

A music-themed valentine made of some junk I found around the house and a few bits and pieces from my craft pile! This of course leaves us with only one question. Will one third-grader in that class have ever even seen a vinyl record album?

I'm sure the teacher will appreciate it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hot Glue Friday!

There is actually no hot glue involved in this post. But I thought I might try occasionally posting a super-easy 5-minute craft every so often. And "Hot Glue Friday" sounded more impressive than "Cut Up An Old T-Shirt Friday".

This craft--for an easy, no-sew infinity scarf--came to my attention courtesy of my youngest sister, who saw someone do it on Rachael Ray. This brings up an important point. I have never in my life completed a craft that I designed from scratch myself. I'm good at figuring out how to do things, but only after someone else has shown me a picture of it. So any craft I share here will come, at least in the idea, from someplace else and I'll try to give credit where it's due. In this case, if you go to the Rachael Ray website and search around, I'm sure you'll find a better set of instructions than you're going to get from me. But here's what I did anyway.

You will need:

An old T-shirt or tank top (the kind with no side seams are best, but use whatever you have on hand)
A pair of sharp scissors

Begin by laying your t-shirt out flat, as I have done here. Prepare yourself mentally to cut into it. Breathe.

Cut straight across the shirt, from armpit to armpit. If your shirt has a logo on the chest, as mine does, make sure to cut below it. Because this is a shirt I got from volunteering, I kept the logo to sew onto a tote bag I have where I stick all my badges and appliques from other volunteer stuff I've done. The rest of the top part of this shirt will be cut up and used to clean the bathroom. Waste not, want not.

Leaving the hemmed edge alone, start cutting both layers of the cut edge to make a fringe. I cut my strips 3" long and 1cm wide. You can cut your fringe all the way across or leave about 4 inches uncut at one end to hang at the back of your neck if you prefer not to have fringe there.

Here is what you will end up with.

And this is what it'll look like when you hang it around your neck.

Not being a huge fan of fringe, I was interested to see if this would work without the step of cutting the strips. All I had to cut up was a smaller tank top:

As you can see, it looks fine without fringe, so feel free to skip that if you're a no-frills type. You may also notice that this scarf is much shorter than the other one. That's because this was a form-fitting tank top. The width of the shirt definitely makes a difference in what kind of scarf you end up with, so that's something to take into consideration. This top also had side seams, so there's a bit of playing around with it to get it to look best once it's on. But no big deal.

And there you have it! No sewing, no skills required, and about 5 minutes of work, if that!

Go forth and be crafty!