Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring's Symphony!

This morning, as the sun was shining so brightly and the trees were still dripping from the overnight rain, I opened the window and smiled! It had begun! The symphony that announces the arrival of spring has begun! Which symphony, you ask? Why, the symphony played by the birds and conducted by the Lord! There are few sounds that compare to the music of
the red-breasted robins,
the striped killdeer,
the white-breasted dark-eyed juncos,
the melodic trill of the song sparrows,
and the honk of the Canada Geese!
I think it may have been the rain that brought them in or the balmy 17C weather we are experiencing (which allowed us to eat supper on the deck last night - yup, March 30 and we ate outside!). Whatever the case, they have returned to my backyard (well, not the geese but the airspace above our house is a major thoroughfare for them!) and I welcome them with much enthusiasm! Have you taken the time to listen to the symphony?
PS: I will post pictures soon!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What We Did Without the Kids

First of all, I want to say a huge, huge, HUGE thanks to mom-and-dad-in-law for suggesting the kids, all the kids, come for a sleepover 2 days ago! They may never know how important those nights are for us . . . or for the kids. Let me just say that if you are a grandparent to little ones and you live fairly close to them, take those grandbabies for a sleepover on a semi-regular basis. Your kids will be so very thrilled at the night alone and the bonding time you create with the grands is unparalleled! I am so, so, SO blessed that they initiate these nights and are so gracious about them!

With the kids happily playing at grandma's and grandpa's we headed for the city. Now, earlier in the week, Jay and I had a conversation about what makes dates especially good for me. The biggest, most important factor?? Not being rushed. Not cramming so much into those few hours that we don't have time to just enjoy and be. No rushing. We don't get into the city all that frequently so when we do, it is a matter of trying to accomplish as many things as possible in as little time as possible. Groceries. Stop at this store. Stop at that store. I know the reasoning behind it: you already paid for the gas so you might as well make the most of it. I agree - somewhat. Dates should be different. So, with this particular date night, he made the plans and I didn't know we were going to do. However, I knew it wouldn't be rushed as we had no babysitter at home waiting for us.

First of all, we went to the HSC Foundation Home Lottery Million-Dollar Homes! Yes, we toured 2 houses that would sell for more than $1, 000, 000. That is a lot of zeros! Beautiful homes. I love to tour houses! This time, however, the tour was a tad more intentional as we have our next house in the back of our minds. It really allowed us to see what we liked, what we didn't, what would work, what wouldn't, and sizes of rooms. I just printed of the floor plans for those way-out-of-our-price-range homes and realized that some of the room sizes are similar to the floorplan we are contemplating. We just may need to take a trip back! A few things stood out. The kitchen cupboards in the one home came all the way down to the counter. Looks pretty but eats up valuable counter space. Not very practical. One house had self-closing kitchen drawers, one didn't. I want the self-closing kind that you cannot slam! The countertops in the one kitchen were Caesarstone, a really cool looking material. It kind of looked like concrete with lots of little pieces of broken glass pressed in the top and then covered with a really shiny smooth veneer. It was really pretty and unique. The laundry rooms were tiny! They aren't expecting to do very much laundry or the maid does it, as Jay said! Each master ensuite had a jetted tub but it wasn't a double tub! Come on! I cannot wait to sit in a jetted tub with Jay on those cold windy winter nights! One had a spiral staircase which was cool except everyone kept bumping their head on it! One had lots of wasted hallway space. Oh, the theatre room was amazing. You know where all your kid's friends would be if you owned that! Somehow I was expecting a million dollar house to look like . . . more. Don't get me wrong - it was beautiful! And so much fun!!

Then he took me shopping! That's right, Jay took me dress shopping! He knew I wanted a dress but had to wait until after June until my thrift-for-a-year is done so he bought me a dress! First we went to Ricki's where the saleslady had to strip 2 mannequins to get the dress in my size! Funny thing is, they fit on the bust but were too big in the hips! HA! I found that amusing! I am certainly not big on top or little in the hips! Then we went to Le Chateau! I tried on about 30 dresses! It was so fun and at the end of it all, he bought me a beautiful black dress that could be dolled up for a date or conservative enough for church! Now I have a new dress for Easter, just as the girls do! I cannot show you any of the dresses cause I didn't bring my camera plus their website doesn't show any of them! Oh, well! You just have to believe me, it was a hoot! The only slightly disappointing part was I didn't actually get to see many of the things in the store as Jay was constantly bringing me things to try on! I could definately do that again (though Jay may have to work a little harder to afford it!)! I will be sure to take a picture of the girls in their dresses and me in mine come Easter!

After stopping to do a little grocery shopping (it is inevitable we need something!), we went for a very late supper, about 10pm, to Earls! We choose a booth where we could snuggle together and talk! I love leisurely meals shared side-by-side in the quiet of a restaurant. At home, we don't sit beside each other (crowd control works better if we don't) and meals are neither leisurely or quiet! It is the little things like that I so enjoy! Then off to home where . . . well . . . some things are better kept secret!

Evenings like that are a valuable treat in our marriage and I certainly don't take them for granted! So, mom and dad, when is the next one??!! :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Smells Like . . . Spring??!!

With this amazingly balmy +4C weather we have been having lately (could possibly reach double digits this weekend!) I have taken my running outside. Let me tell you, running 3 miles outside seems to go a lot faster than running 3 miles on the treadmill! Thank you, Spring, for making your appearance. And as I am zig-zagging past puddles, sloshing through the slush, and spraying both legs full of grime, I am reveling in the beauty (okay, so early spring is not necessarily beautiful) of this new season. I am thrilled to see the snow disappear even if it means all I see is dirt and gravel everywhere. In this new-found freedom of being able to be outside without bundling up in 7 layers for fear of frostbite to every exposed extremity, I take a deep breath! Big Mistake! A deep breath in spring means only one thing - one thing that will forever be etched in my mind as the first prevailing scent of the season - DOG POOP!! Ah, Spring, how I have missed you!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Recent Crochet Projects

So, these are the latest crochet projects I have completed!
When I look at these next 3 I think of Neopolitan Icecream or of a strawberry sundae! I was experimenting with the sizes of the stripes. Not so much a fan of the first one (though I do like the light pink edge), like the second one better but the last is my favorite! Now I just need to add the "strings" to the earflaps! These earflap baby beanie patterns are courtesy of Inner Hooker.

This next hat is the scalloped beanie hat from Inner Hooker as well but I modified it slightly so I could run a "ribbon" through the bottom edge. Two little cream flowers add the perfect touch to this soft pink hat crocheted in very soft Bernat Satin 100% Acrylic yarn.

I wanted to create my own hat pattern and this is what I ended up with! I love the color combination - makes me think of watermelon or strawberries. I love the green and red together.

This is another take on my hat pattern. I added some crazy colored 100% polyester glitter yarn in with the turquoise on the top of the hat! The burgundy adds the perfect contrast while the corded edge finishes it off nicely. Could you imagine this hat on a little baby princess? So cute!

I finally picked up some cotton yarn the other day and set to work making some brimmed hats. This beanie with brim pattern is courtesy of Angels Chest Boutique. This burgundy brimmed beanie is so cute with a triple flower in white, hot pink and burgundy while a pearl button nestled in the center adds the perfect finishing touch.

Lastly, this Crazy Easy Textured Newsboy Cap is courtesy of thnkdfrent. This white hat is set off with a hot pink band adorned with silver buttons and the edge is finished in a corded look. Now to make a couple of manly ones for the boys!

No, these hats are not all for my little people. I am seriously considering opening an Etsy shop. What a perfect way for me to create my crafts and make a little money. Anyone have any good name suggestions? Anyone in need of a hat? I know someone who would love to make you one! :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010


That is a word I have been hearing waaaay too much of lately. And it is coming from our oldest son. Almost exactly 2 years ago, Pepe went in for t-tube surgery. They inserted tubes into each of his eardrums to help the fluid that was building up to drain. Most people's eustachian tubes bring in fresh air every time they swallow to the area behind their eardrum preventing fluid from accumulating. To put it technically, "its purpose is to equalize middle ear pressure with environmental pressure. When your ear "pops" on a high-speed elevator or in an airplane, the reason is that the eustachian tube has opened and equalized pressure". Pepe's tubes missed that message and haven't allowed the fresh air in, therefore the fluid builds up.

Already when he was just a little guy, I wondered about his hearing. His speech was quite muddled and he had to work hard to pronouce words correctly. When his younger brother started talking and was speaking so much more clearly, the difference became even more apparent. When he was 3 1/2 I went to a preschool screening day just to get his ears checked. After all, it seemed there were times he would read my lips in order to understand what I was saying. When the little machine that takes a "picture" of the inside of his ear flatlined instead of creating a bell curve, as is normal, my fears were confirmed. Something wasn't right. There was something wrong with his hearing and it wasn't my imagination. That started a long process of appointments with the audiologist to track his hearing and figure out exactly what was happening. Turns out, his middle ear is the issue. First of all, the pressure builds up, then fluid accumulates and eventually that fluid that started out liquid-like becomes more congealed over time. It is like hearing under water. Everything is muffled and low tones drop off the map. So, 2 days before his 5th birthday, he went in for day surgery and had the t-tubes inserted. What a dramatic difference. He was startled by how loud the toilet flushing was. He was overwhelmed by the sounds in the parking garage. The rocks hitting the bottom of the van as we drove down a gravel road were so loud to him that he actually started crying. Everything was so loud and so new. He found out soda pop fizzled and sizzled in a cup. He never heard it before. That surgery day was a horrible day emotionally. You must understand, Pepe hates anything new or different. This was WAY past the spectrum of comfortable. He had to go past those large doors by himself without his mom - he freaked. He was not a little boy then (over 50 pounds) so picking him up and carrying him was not an option. I guess he figured there was no way out so he might as well follow the doctor. So he was crying and I was crying and it was just a terrible day. I felt like my heart was getting ripped out. I know, I know, this is a VERY common surgery but that doesn't help. That was my little boy in a overwhelmingly terrifying situation and I couldn't do a thing but watch. Later when they called us to come to him after he woke up, he cried and cried and cried. He just wanted to crawl into my arms and go home. And we did go home. And we thanked the Lord that he could finally hear. Now, 2 years later, the tubes have come out, as they should, and his hearing has worsened considerably. We saw the audiologist in January and again today and the difference in that short time is amazing. Though he was having some difficulties then, it was horrible today. She was going to fax the results to the Ear, Nose, Throat specialist we saw last time and see where we go from here. Probably more ear tubes. Pepe already tells me he wishes he had them back in. Really, can you imagine hearing everything as though you were in a pool. Everything is muffled and unclear. I feel terrible for him. Thankfully, it is only a middle ear issue and not a bone issue. His inner ear works just fine, the sound just needs to get to there unhindered. So, my heart is a little sad again because I know that day is coming when he will have to walk past those doors again. And I will have to watch him go by himself again. He may be almost 7 but he will always be my little boy. I try to remember that the Lord loves him even more than I ever will and He will always be with him, never leaving Pepe or forsaking him. Yeesh, Chantelle, get a grip. It is only a minor day surgery for something so simple. Get a grip!! Yeah, I'm trying! :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Artisan Bread - Attempt #1

Back in February I ordered a few books from Amazon - one was Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day - The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois. I like the idea of artisan breads and in only 5 minutes? Hey, I'm game. Today I decided to try it out. The premise of the book is that with minimal work, you can have fresh-baked bread everyday (without a bread machine!). You make a batch of dough (the master recipe only calls for water, salt, yeast and flour!) and let it sit for two hours then refrigerate it for up to 14 days. Anytime you want a loaf of bread, you shape a piece of the dough (which takes about 30-60 seconds), let it rise for 40 minutes, pop it onto a hot stone in the oven and in about 1/2 an hour, you have a fresh-baked crusty bread! How easy is that!

I made the Master Recipe earlier today and it took about 10 minutes with very few dishes left to clean. I let it rise in the large 10L red Tupperware bowl I got for Christmas for just this purpose (Jay says the kids can use it to slide down the hills when I am not using it, it is that big!!). Then, before supper, I shaped my 1-pound loaf and let it rest. I am supposed to use a pizza peel but seeing as I don't own one (that must change!!), I used a cardboard pizza round.

40 minutes later, after slashing the bread, I slid that nicely shaped loaf onto the hot stone waiting in the oven. I added hot water to the pan that was awaiting me on the lowest rack in the oven and quickly shut the door. 30 minutes after that, I pulled out a marvelous looking crusty loaf of bread! Now, the recommendation is not to eat the loaf hot out of the oven but who can resist? Though it was tasty, next time I will wait for it to cool. After all, squishing your fresh-baked loaf while cutting it takes away some of the romance!

Two things I will change for next time. First of all, I will weigh the dough to ensure my loaf is 1 pound. A larger loaf requires a longer rest period and a longer bake time. I was just guessing. Secondly, I didn't bake it quite long enough. If the crust softens upon standing, you didn't bake it long enough. That's what happened to me. It is supposed to have a nice crusty outside and a soft crumb inside. The crumb was a bit tacky so it may have been underbaked. Apparently small bits of almost burnt crust are a good thing so next time I will wait for it to get a touch darker. Over all, it was a delicious loaf of bread and I can see myself enjoying such homemade wonders in so little time. Maybe when this batch of dough is done (I doubled the recipe so I have enough for 8 loaves!), I will try out the other bread book I bought, Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day.

Soon We Will Be Famous (at least in Manitoba!)

Remember that commercial I mentioned the other day? Well, today was the BIG day! What a fun time! First of all, we cleaned the whole upstairs in an attempt to make it appear that we did not, in fact, live in this house. As clean as it was, it might have been my mom's house but it certainly wasn't ours. It was gloriously clean. Then the crew (there were 6 or 7 of them) decided we needed more toys around. Go figure! I clean up all the toys and they want them back! After they discussed several different scenarios, up went the lights and the camera and we went to work. I should say baby girl went to work! What a trooper! A one-year old only wants to walk back and forth so many times before she gets tired and she did it for over an hour! There were breaks here and there but she was amazing! Especially considering it was getting close to naptime and all these strangers were looking at her while a camera followed her every move. Another really cool thing was the photographer/videographer was one of the main ones covering the men's gold medal hockey game on Sunday in Vancouver. Fresh from the Olympics and in our livingroom. I won't say exactly what the commercial is for but I can say the title will be something like "First Steps" and it stars baby Ari taking her first steps and walking! Not only was this for a commercial, it will become billboards and signs on the backs of buses and radio commercials and print ads! This is way more than we thought it was going to be but it was so SO fun! The ads should start airing April 5 and continue for 8 weeks and then again in the fall sometime! I will let you know when we see the first one so you know what to look for!
Total sidenote: I hope everyone is wrong and that the TV doesn't add 10 pounds! I wore black, just in case!! :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

My Favorite Things - February 2010

1. Orchids.

I bought this orchid around Christmas and it still continues to bloom today. I have never had an orchid before but I am really loving it! So easy to care for and such a long-blooming beautiful flower.

2. Makeup.

I love to wear makeup. I love to experiment with it. I especially love playing with my eyes. I bought a few new colors of eyeshadow trios from BeautiControl and I LOVE them! Passion, Sandstone and Au Natural have now been added to my collection. Soon I will need a vanity table to contain all these wonders (can you say summer DIY project??!!)

3. Quo smudge brush.

A necessity for well-smudged eye makeup!

4. AG Infrastructure Structurizing Paste.

I have used this hair product for years and I LOVE it. It is fantastic for adding texture and volume to my hair, enhancing the shattered ends! I used it a lot when my hair was shorter and full of edges and now again I am using it with my chunky hair! It may be a bit heavy for some people but with my head of thick hair, it is perfect!

5. Stash Decaf Chai Tea.

This may possibly be my favorite tea. I steep it good and strong, add a hearty dose of milk and a scoop of honey (tea is the only place I will add "sugar" but it is almost always honey!). It has become my comfort drink at the end of the day! So, so good!

Once again, these are just a few of my favorite things!

Resolution Check-In - March 1

February was a good month in some regards and not-so-good in others. Here is the monthly check-in.

Here are the goals (in black) and my updates (in red).

1. No sweets. That's right - no chocolate, no Kit Kat bars, no cheesecake, no Pepsi, no Saucy Hot Fudge Pudding, no homemade Hot Fudge Sauce to smother my icecream, no slurpies, no homemade iced tea - get the point??!!

Much better this month. Less temptations and no "accidents!" Only 10 more months to go!

2. Run 500 miles. That sounds a little extreme, however, if you break it down, it is only 1.36986301369 miles per day or 9.61538461538 miles per week. Totally doable! Check out the running woman on the side to watch my progress.
Okay, so if you have been checking my running woman, her numbers haven't changed. That's because I lost track of what I had posted on the blog somewhere along the line. Thankfully, I always write on my calendar what I ran. So, last month I only ran 29.15 miles. With 28 days in the month, I should have ran 38.356 miles. My total for the year is 70.9 miles which puts me 9.9219 miles behind for the year. However, I am not concerned. I have been able to run 3 miles at 5.7 mph a couple of times and it has become quite comfortable. I see myself making up those lost miles easily. Personally, I feel like I am farther ahead than last month just because of the speed and distance I am now able to run. I have even run at 6 mph on numerous occasions. So, this continues to go well!

3. Lose weight! #1 and #2 should help with this. So will Jillian Michaels and Billy Blanks. One of the reasons I love being pregnant is because I don't worry about my weight. If I have a big tummy, it is for a reason. Now I have no excuse (and I don't consider 5 kids an excuse!!). So, by the time 2011 rolls around, I'd like you to see about 15 pounds less of me!

Still losing!! I am now about 7 pounds down from January 1!! Halfway there! WOO HOO!! Oh, but Jillian and Billy haven't figured into the equation yet.
We will see if they ever do!

4. Read through the entire Bible. I see this one as being the most difficult. I tend to get bogged down in Leviticus and Numbers. Something about all those lists. Okay, so if I get through most of the Bible, I will consider this done! After all, just watching the state of your physical being and ignoring the state of your spiritual being is pretty useless. Hell couldn't care less if you are thin.

Not so good here. I am about 1 week behind. I could give excuses but I won't. I have a bit of catch up to do but my goal is still attainable and I am not about to give up!

There you have it - February's update! I hope March goes well for you and your goals!
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