Friday, October 30, 2009

It's the NIGHT Before Halloween...

You should know, these two are bouncing off the walls. Both are allowed to wear their costumes to school today. And are SO excited to do so. Mason instructed me, that he'd like to do what he did last year. I asked him "So, you want to come home for lunch, and get your costume on?" To which he said "Correct". That answer just makes me laugh. It's sometimes hard to believe the kid is only 7 years old.

I mentioned in my last post, we had family pumpkin carving night, here are the before pumpkins:

And here is after. Each person came up with their own design. Madelyn actually drew hers out on paper. The rest of us, kind of altered what we'd seen, different templates etc. The pumpkin order is: Madelyn - Barry - Mason - Candy. I think they turned out awesome.

These are the little treats Mad and I made to hand out to her class. She actually helped by taping a sucker to the back of each piece of paper. She did grow weary of writing her name though.

These are the little treat bags for Mason's class. He was a great helper. We stuffed the bags with paper, gum, rockets and an eyeball each. He was pretty excited to take these to school this morning.

This was dinner on Wednesday night. "Monster Dogs" on a bed of curly noodles. It's true, if you boil wieners in water, after cutting them, they do curl up.

Last night, I made tomato soup, with grilled cheese sandwiches (which is usually our Halloween night fare) But Thursday nights at our house are soup and sammy night. Check out the ice cube in the soup bowl.

And when I brought these to the table, Madelyn actually said "ahhhhh". Did she eat it? Not a chance, but she thought they were cute. Then she said "Mummy, did you forget I don't like anything roasted, or toasted or oven-ed?" I guess I did. I thought the jack-o-lantern face would trump that, but apparently it did not. She won't eat grilled cheese any way, so hers ALWAYS has be be peanut butter. Oh the trials of having picky eaters...

Today I'm doing last minute preparations for our Halloween Party tonight (the adult one) and tomorrow I'll be doing another kids version. I anticipate sitting on the couch on Saturday night, with a glass of wine, handing out treats. Grateful to be finished with prep mode.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween is Almost Here and I can Hardly Wait!

Call me crazy, but this year, I'm going to try and do this. Will I be biting off more than I can chew? Indeed I will. But this is the second year I've seen Ali do this, and I'd really like to document our December, the days that lead up to Christmas. Mason is 7 this year, really, how much longer am I going to be able to document the innocence and magic? So, I'm going to attempt to gather my supplies, and create the book before hand... Then during the month of December, I'll focus on printing off my daily pictures and journaling. Wish me luck...

***Ladybug update: I'm pleased to report that Sunday was a sunny day and it ended up being warm enough to release the ladybugs! The jar got put outside, and the lid was unscrewed. And all the ladybugs flew away home. That relieved a LOT of pressure.

I spooked up our house this year. I put out my decorations, though not as many as I usually do. I am trying to eliminate some of the 'cute' stuff. Last year Mason informed me that he wanted things to be 'more spooky'. It's kind of a tough transition to go from cutesy to spooky... So it will take me a couple of years to gather adequate scary stuff. I've been giving the kids the occasional 'spooky' treat. Here are a couple I've done so far.

Mummy's in a blanket. Cute, but they look SO much better in the magazines don't they?

Monster's Mouths. These one's were a huge hit, the kids LOVED them. I thought they'd be mortified by the whole apple and peanut butter thing, but they weren't. These little gems have been requested a number of times since. Too bad I can't send them to school...
Which has me thinking, why don't I just make the entire month of October spooky, rather than try to cram it all in the last week of the month? I'll do a better job next year. I've got great recipes, and I should try to do one every few nights. I love it just as much as the kids do. That will be my goal next year. Someone might have to remind me about that!

I've got a busy weekend ahead, with our annual adult and kids halloween parties. I've been getting things done BEFORE hand, rather than running around like a mad-woman the day of.
To date, I've baked pumpkin cookies for Mad's preschool [and put them in the freezer] I put together goodie bags for the kids party on Saturday. I made lollipop treats for Mad's school. Mace and I put together treat bags for his class. (I'll post pictures of them soon)
Tonight we had family pumpkin carving night and the pumpy-kins turned out FANTASTIC. Since Mason came along, we've always picked out a pumpkin each, and designed our own. This year was no different, and they turned out great. I'll post pics of these later as well.
Wouldn't it be great if I were this organized for Christmas too? Having said that, I haven't even thought about that yet. I can look at that one starting next week. I've got my gigantic on-going list of things to do. The thing I like MOST about lists, is crossing items off. Today I crossed off 'clean oven'. Yay for me!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

We have a Winner

I have been searching for a very long time for the PERFECT chocolate chip cookie recipe. I can't tell you, over the years, how many different recipes I've tried. I've gotten recipes from friends, from the backs of the chocolate chip bags, from cook books, from the internet, from blogs, I've pretty much tried them all.

A few weeks ago, I was reading through hand-me-down Chatelaine magazine, and turned to page 43 of the September 2009 issue, and delightfully came across a recipe called "The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie". (I linked the recipe above, and if you're looking for a goody, then I suggest you give it a try). Our family for one, was NOT disappointed. In fact, I think we just may have actually broke a record for how quickly 4 dozen cookies can disappear. They might have even done so, while they were still warm from the oven. That ALONE might tell you something. The first time I made them, I bought some fancy-schmancy chocolate, a little something we call Bernard Callebaut chocolate chunks. (Now THAT is some good chocolate) So the cookies were fantastic. And I thought, hmmmmm, what about regular chocolate chips, Would the cookies still be as good if I used chipits? So I tried that yesterday afternoon, and the answer is YES, the cookies are still good. When a girl comes across a chocolate chip cookie recipe that tastes as good as these ones do, she has to share it with others!

So bake and enjoy!

Another significant thing to note. Thursday we had a nice day. It was sunny. The sky was clear. We saw the sun. I say this, because for most of the month of October, we HAVEN'T seen the sun. It's been grey, dreary, dull and depressing. If I wanted to live like that, I'd move to the west coast. At least I would EXPECT that there. But here in Calgary, I expect to see the sun. We got totally ripped off this year. It froze AND snowed the beginning of October, so all the leaves died. And now, the dead leaves are clinging to all the trees. And of course, being dead now, flash-frozen I suspect, they're all a dreadful dying brown color... That's right folks, we didn't get fall here this year. We're moving from summer (if you can even call it that this year) to winter.

So back to Thursday... Yes, delightful Thursday, when the sun came out warming and delighting us. Madelyn spent the day with Ama on Thursday, and in the back yard, they happened to come across ladybugs. (No doubt they too, where shocked to see the sun) I suppose, not really knowing what goes on in a ladybugs mind, they were rooting around looking for places to hibernate. All I can say is this... "Oh you poor, poor little ladybugs, I'm sorry you will not be living out your ladybug destiny..." Because here you are...

Yes, you might see a few around the lid in this picture:

And a few more here:

And my GOODNESS, here is quite a cluster in this picture:

I kid you not. There has to be at LEAST 50 lady bugs in this jar... The jar of ladybugs came home from Ama's house. Delightful little holes poked into the lid, and it's alive with movement. Yesterday I said Madelyn we have to let them go, so they can hibernate. [Though yesterday was GREY, dull and dreary, it was not cold] To which she responded, "One more day! I'll let them go tomorrow".
But, now we have a problem, because this morning we woke up to snow again... And what do you do with 50+ ladybugs in a jar, when it's snowing outside? Perhaps we'll move them to a cold part of the garage, and they can happily hibernate in the jar, and we'll bring them out in the spring again...
Wish us luck, because I HATE to be responsible for the mass death of all these lovely little lady bugs!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Note to Self

Last night I stayed up late. Way too late for a school night. The old me might have been up EASY-PEASY until the wee hours of the morning (back when Mason was in afternoon Kindergarten). In fact, from the time he was born, until he was in Grade One, it was a fairly regular occurrence for me to stumble up to bed between 2 – 3 am. I was indeed blessed with children that sleep in. That and creativity that always seems to step it up a notch if it’s past 11 pm.

But the new me, has come to her senses, and tries to make it to bed by 11 pm. I just don’t wake up very nice. No matter how hard I try, I can’t be jolly. I’m NOT a morning person. Enough said.
So last night, I stayed up way too late for a school night, because I got on a role. Remember a few months ago, I was on about ‘de-cluttering’? Last night I began to de-clutter my scrapbook room. And it REALLY needs to be done. I’m a dreadful hoarder… (I thought admitting that would make me feel better) Let me try this:

“My name is Candy, and I’m a dreadful hoarder…”

Nope. Still feel the same.

Once in awhile, I get into the ruthless ‘everything goes’ mode. I happened to be in that state last night. I lugged armfuls of old magazines such as: Parents, Ikea, Pottery Barn to the recycling bin. I’m talking circa 2006 and BEFORE…) I started a great big ‘donation bag’ and in it I tossed paper that I don’t like the look of any more. Markers and stickers I honestly know I'll never use. Cheap little albums I HAD TO HAVE, because when something is a good deal, I can justify anything. Crazy dollar store stuff I thought I needed to have, but in real life, don’t. It’s been nearly 24 hours and I haven’t rooted through the donation bag to retrieve anything. Yay for me.

Having said that, especially about the magazines, there’s absolutely NO DOUBT in my mind that a week from now, I’ll need to find something I’d purposefully dog-eared, in one of those magazines. But alas, it will be too late; they’ll be fulfilling their destiny at the recycle plant.

I guess, the point of my story is… And I actually had to think to myself, “Is there a point to your story?” And indeed, there is.

My scrap room (which I’m thinking of calling my ‘studio’ from now on) is currently in disarray, and I’m NO LONGER in my ruthless, everything must go phase.

It’s only 10 pm, and I’m tired and the very last thing I feel like doing is sorting and putting things away, you know, all the ‘stuff’ that got put aside last night at 1 am. The 'to be dealt with 'tomorrow' stuff.

Having said that, if I look at the bookshelf I was ruthless with, it does make me smile. So, I think I’ll got to bed now, get my 8 hours, and then work on it another time. So I guess this is just kind of a reminder to self, don't start some of these projects so late. Think the timing through a bit!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Capturing Moments

I signed up for another on-line class with Big Picture Scrapbooks.

As of now, I've done 12 classes/workshops. There were even a few freebies in there! What I like about taking an on-line class is that it forces me to ‘keep up’. There are usually a ‘suggested’ number of layouts to do, per week. I say ‘suggested’ because it’s not supposed to in any way, bring on guilt of any kind. It is stressed, that you can do everything at your own pace, choosing to do ONLY what you want to do, or doing nothing at all, if that’s what you want to do. In my case, I WANT to keep up. I like to post things into the gallery of the class I’m taking, and I LOVE the feedback I get from the other scrapbookers and occasionally by the teachers.

The class I’m currently taking is called Yesterday & Today, taught by Ali Edwards, whom I love. You can read her blog here. So far each class I’ve done has started its ‘new week’ on a Thursday. So each Thursday morning, I head downstairs with my piping hot coffee to receive my email, watch my video tutorial, and basically figure out what needs to be done for the next week.

I have to laugh at myself, because I get kind of ‘dog with a bone-ish’ when I’m taking a class. I want to watch my tutorial, work on my computer and basically not be interrupted for a few hours. (Which is hard, considering I’m here with Madelyn each day) and my job title is stay at home mom and NOT graphic designer…

Anyhoo, this class is about looking back at yesterday, and looking ahead to today. It’s about capturing the stories that I think others will want to know, if God forbid, I weren’t around to tell them to anyone. It plays on my guilt slightly, that perhaps I’m just not keeping good enough track of my life as a Mum. Perhaps I just strode through my younger years, taking everything for granted, and not detailing what was important…

I’ve created 2 layouts so far, one was simply to let me off the hook, for any guilt I might harbor over not doing enough/documenting enough/being good enough, etc. (I’m pretty sure I’ll need to come back to this one time and time again, constantly re-reading it to myself and convincing myself things are ok).

The next layout I did was for the title page of the album I’m creating. It’s using pictures that I’ve scanned in. And I have to tell you, I’m amazed at the quality. It makes me think I should be scanning in every picture I ever took BEFORE digital came along. And I’ve only been using digital since Madelyn came along. Crikey, that's A LOT of scanning...
I’m looking forward to completing this week’s assignment, which is documenting 6 random childhood memories. I went through some pictures, and as I did, I was amazed at how memories came flooding back. I looked through pictures of my childhood, not all of them, but a pretty good selection of them and it’s shocking the memories that begin to flood. Things you can suddenly remember JUST by studying a picture. Will it really matter if my kids don’t know how much their Uncle Chris and I fought as kids? Or that one year we went as Hobo’s for Halloween? Or that I was younger than Mason is now, when we got our first puppy (seriously Mum… were you THAT brave OR just plain crazy). I don’t know if it will matter to them or not. But it is a part of my life, and it matters to me. And if I’m not around to tell them, then I guess they just won’t get told.

I think it’s quite safe to say, that I’m coming around, ever so slightly to Ali’s way of thinking.

And look at that, almost an entire post without complaining about the weather. But I HAVE to. It's like a winter wonderland outside right now. And it's been cold. So very cold. And I'm not looking forward to another 6 L O N G months of it. Because the chinook might blow in like it's supposed to, and we might reach the 'supposed' high of 21° by Saturday, but WHO CARES, winter is a com'in.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Liked it Better in the 'Past' than in the Present

I've been telling a few people lately, about my trip and NYC experience. And while I was there, in NY, I spent a lot of time kind of thinking 'sheesh...' For example:

sheesh, there ARE a lot of people,
sheesh, cars sure honk a lot,
sheesh, is there 40 people in a line up for EVERYTHING?
sheesh, THAT was expensive,
sheesh, there ARE taxi's everywhere,
sheesh, he almost got hit by that car [while jaywalking of course]
sheesh, people REALLY DO walk shoulder to shoulder,
sheesh, this city NEVER stops moving... [to name just a few]

By the way, don't run off to the thesaurus to look up the word 'sheesh'. It's really kind of my own word and I typically kind of cringe as it's being said...

But now that I've been home for nearly 2 wks, and I've been showing my pictures to people, suddenly I have this passion for New York. All of a sudden I'm animated and telling people what I did infact love about it. And I have to tell you, that it makes me really glad that I did end up buying a couple of I [heart] NY tee's from some street vendors...

I've seen commercials, and shows on tv, and I think that's NYC! Hey! I've been there! And I'm excited about it. Because while I was there, I kind of had the 'been HERE, done that' feeling... I've kind of confused with myself, because now my frame of mind is a bit different, it's this:

Maybe I would go back. Now I feel like I'd have my wits about me a little bit. It took me 4 good days, to finally figure out street addresses, and to be honest, I still don't really understand how they find people. But it was a great experience, and I got to do it with a great bunch of girls, my dear Mum included. And Yes Barry, if I went with you, I would go to ONE museum. The Museum of Natural History, at the recommendation of Randene of course.

Day One - me and Mum, on the double decker bus tour. Talk about overwhelming...

Our first 'hop-off' and 9 of us walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. We had lunch and walked back.

Ahhhhh, the Green Lady. She was one of the highlights of my trip. Awesome to see 'live'.

Carrie, Mum & I, we found the Magnolia Bakery. Yum-O.

Yes, that is me, with the yellow M&M dude. In what other than M&M World in Time's Square. Crikey...

I just felt like I needed to put that out there. Now that I'm home I'm really glad I got the chance to go!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Girl,a Marker and a Moment Alone...

I had to post this... Because it's hilarious. I would have thought that leaving a 4 and a 1/2 year old, alone at the kitchen table for a few moments, with her markers and coloring books, would have been fine. While I stepped into the laundry room to fold clothes, and change machines, I came back to this...

Her first response when I came back into the kitchen and stopped dead in my tracks was:
"Are you mad at me?"
To which, I replied "No" (trying to stifle my laugh... it helped KNOWING that the markers she was using are Crayola washables)
And she told me, "I'm glad you're not mad, I thought this would make me look prettier".
I grabbed my camera, and took a few pictures, before we headed to the bathroom, and scrubbed the marker off her face.
But that first picture of her... What is that in her eyes? A sparkle? A gleam? I believe she's part imp... [Note to self - remove all PERMANENT MARKERS FROM WITHIN REACH...]

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Last Few Weeks...

The last few weeks have been crazy. First, I planned, executed and pulled off a surprise 40th birthday 'get together' for Barry. It was kind of a last minute plan, since our Las Vegas/Phoenix trip kind of fell through. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure that it was a surprise at all. I thought he knew something was up, so it felt like we were politely avoiding the topic for a couple of weeks. As it turned out, he was indeed surprised, and everyone showed up. A good time was had by all. I reserved some tables (and by some, I mean for 30 people) and we kind of took over an entire area of the pub. As other people left, we kept absorbing more tables. It was nice to have it out of the house. After the night was over, we simply went home. Nothing to clean up! And not a bunch of left over food to eat!

As I was in NYC for his ACTUAL birthday I really wanted to do something before I left. We’re so darn lucky to have the people in our lives that we do. This was his birthday cake, the picture is the same one I used for invitations. STILL loving photoshop!

And of course, NYC. Wow… What can I say? We went, we saw, we conquered, we walked, we got honked at, we ate, we shopped, we drank coffee, we saw, we did all the sight seeing, we took tons of pictures. We fit more into a week, that one could imagine. What a fantastic trip, with these fantastic ladies.

Not a great shot of the tee's, but let me assure you, they were SUPER cute. Funny, I didn't take a close up picture of the shirts. We all showed up at the airport, dutifully wearing them. What a bunch of sports. To have our photo taken and all... Can't start a trip without a photo shoot.
We all got along very well. When we arrived in New York, all 13 of us walked down to Times Square [wow...] and meandered in and out of stores. I have no idea what time stuff actually closed, because at 11 pm, there were hoards of people in and out of stores. The next morning, all of us went on our first bus tour, to get ourselves acquainted with New York [yeah right...] I think at one point 9 of us got off, 4 carried on, and we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. The only other time the 13 of us were together again, was when we saw Billy Elliot, [which was awesome] and for our one dinner, which we'd made reservations for a month in advance, at Spice Market [highly recommend] and all had to split up into smaller groups.
We had so much fun. And we got so much packed into our short time there, that it seemed unreal. And now I'm home, and having a hard time getting off the couch. Hard to believe that for a week, we probably walked between 5-8 hours a day or more, and now I'm hanging out at home like a sloth. I need to get more active! It feels great to be more active! I'm eager to get into my scrapbook room, and do some birthday and New York layouts. I'm really looking forward to getting some pages/albums done.
And now we're into October. The kids begged me to bring out the Halloween stuff today, so today we 'spooked' up the house some. It's fun when they want to get involved in helping. That only lasts so long though, then they grow tiresome and I'm the only one doing it. We LOVE Halloween around here, so we're on the countdown. Madelyn has her costume already. She's going to be a chicken....[No WAY we could change her mind on that one] Mason is still a bit unsure of what he'd like to be yet, though when Indiana Jones was suggested, he seemed somewhat interested.
There was a bit of snow here today, which isn't too much fun. So it's a bit cold, and it's getting dark so darn early now. It's depressing. I have a really hard time with fall. I wish I could embrace it a bit more. If I could hibernate, I'd be ALL OVER embracing it, I know!