Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A little note about "making a deal"

Dear well-meaning bargain-hunting customer:

I appreciate that you are on a tight budget.  That you are single income, that you can't afford to spend the prices I may be asking for the products I create.  I hear you when you say you can buy a similar product at Walmart or Target or Macys for half that price.  I occasionally share your feelings when I see a beautiful piece of pottery that someone has handcrafted and know that I can't justify spending $60 on a mug..... here is where we differ.  When I see something beautiful that I can not afford, I do not ask the artisan to lower their price for me.  I do not ask them to sell me 3 or 4 or more at a significant discount.  I do not ask for them to give me things for free if I spend money on other things they make.Something that my potential customers may not understand:  When I set a price on something, I already take into consideration the cheap versions of my items out and about in discount stores, mass produced for a pittance by overworked underpaid production workers in China, India, Thailand, or wherever they've come from.  When I set a price for my work, I leave out the time it takes for me to source my materials (hours a month), or to come up with ideas and create prototypes (hours a month and dollars "wasted" on things that will never be sold).  I also leave out the cost of selling online, advertising online, the percentages taken by paypal and Etsy, or Visa, Mastercard, American Express.  I don't charge for the cost of my Market stall each week.  What is left is the actual cost of the materials being used, and what I value my hours of work at.  Generally, I work things out so that I am actually netting about $5 per hour.  FIVE DOLLARS PER HOUR.  Some things I make a little more on, some things a little less.  LESS than $5 per hour.  This is what I get paid to spend time making things for your little one, for your gifts, trinkets, toys...  That is less than half of current minimum wage here in Ontario.  My time away from my children, away from my housework, away from my own leisure time, television time, often even sleep time!!!

I justify this wage because sometimes I can work while doing things with the kids or watching television.  Sometimes. I justify it because I do enjoy it.  I get to create things I want, things you want.  I get to hear praise about my work, suggestions, ideas...I get to see your beautiful little ones...  

But mostly, I just swallow it.  I accept that crafters never make a living wage on their work.
Consider your own job.  Would you work for less than minimum wage?  Would you accept your boss asking you to work extra hours and offering to pay you less to do so?  You are a stay at home mom?  Guess what.  So am I.  This is what I do around my time with my girls.  One with special needs.  Working more for less means less time with my girls...  Less under the tree for my girls this time of year.. Less opportunity to support other crafters with my purchases...

So please.  I ask but one thing.  PLEASE, don't ask me for a discount.  Don't tell me you can get it cheaper somewhere else.  Don't ask for a better price if you buy more than one.  Selling two means exactly twice the work and twice the time.  Selling three, well, you get the idea.  Why should I make less money for doing more work?  Do you?

a very tired, and slightly overworked,

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What a different world....

Being a parent in this era is frighteningly different than when we were kids.  I recently read an article about a Guelph family who is living a year like it's 1986.  I never really thought about the differences before, except when I get a question from D or B like "what's a cassette player?"  We now live in an era where "perfect" parenting ideals can be seen high and low, you can find infinite posts online about perfect school lunches, make-your-own crafts with kids, how to live free of television, how to use television to make smarter kids, how to spend more time with your kids, how not to yell at the kids, why not to vaccinate, why TO vaccinate, how to helicopter parent, how not to helicopter parent, how to spend more time outside, which baby groups to join, which books to read...Baby Einstein DVDs to make your kid smarter, Baby Einstein DVDs to make your kids dumber, teaching  your baby Sign Language, internet safety, viruses that have nothing to do with human illness, how and why to eat less junk food, the junk they put in your supposed "healthy food", GMOs, Dead honeybees......Knowledge that we were blissfully ignorant of while eating our neon orange, high salt Kraft Dinner or Chef Boyardee for lunch when we were kids...

I was born in 1976.  I lived happily without cell phones and blue tooth, data packages and Netflix, DVD players and MP3 players, I got my first CD player when I was 18!  I lived without cordless nightlights and clocks that light up when it's "OK to wake!", the INTERNET, digital cameras, cameras on your phone, instant upload, online social media, recipes for EVERYTHING online, there was no "app for that"....vaccines for chicken pox and the FLU, ...I walked to school alone in Toronto in elementary school, and took the subway with friends...went to the theatre and bought my tickets in person, didn't check seating charts and order online.....I remember the controversy that was the beginning of Sunday Shopping, Debit Cards, I remember using the bank of pay telephones in the mall to check in with my mom, or call friends in private...I remember the disbelief that one could now send photos and forms and letters by TELEPHONE on this amazing invention called a FAX machine.. I remember the amazement when they allowed more than one phone line in the house, probably to offset those fax machines... or more than one  phone number/ringtone for a single land line!  I was also around before the era of telemarketers.... I was around for the invention of the expression "landline", as well as "text me", "friend me", LOL, OMG, BFF...

I remember when Avent baby bottles were the best on the market, so different than the others.  I remember the controversy when Avent baby bottles were not taken OFF the market when it was discovered that they were laden with toxic BPA....I remember when no one wore their children in a sling, when snuggli was the only (albeit horrid) carrier around that people knew about...when strollers faced forward only, couldn't house your up-to-35lb child infant car seat, and didn't have interchangeable seats at all...I remember stainless steel and vinyl coated highchairs and booster seats, seats with fold out steps that made a satisfying "clang" when you played with the steps with your feet - no straps on those!  I remember the doctor's house-call service when my fever was over 40C at midnight, getting cold medication before the age of 6, sitting in the front seat of the car, no child safety seat, or in my dad's LAP when he was driving, under the age of 5....

I remember the isolation when friends couldn't or wouldn't play, when no one was around to talk on the phone, or the line was busy, because that was the ONLY social outlet at home, no chat rooms, or online forums.... I remember feeling like a loser or a geek because I liked things that the kids in my micro-universe didn't, and there were no "it gets better" projects back then.  I remember pretty stationary and pen-pals from another country, I remember singing highly inappropriate and racist kid-taunts and songs, not knowing their impact on the world, and remember being the butt of some of those remarks and songs...I remember singing "Free to be You and Me", and watching this gem on reel-to-reel and a projection screen in class:

I remember $2.00 Tuesdays at the movie theatre in the mall.  The small one, with 2 choices, and no Dolby-digital surround sound.  I remember when everything WASN'T produced in China, or other "less developed" countries where abuse and child labour were prevalent, as we are learning about in social media circles right now.....and a time before dollar stores....  I remember handing in hand written school assignments...double spaced, writing neatly to the right of the red line on our loose-leaf lined paper....and later the zip-zip screechy sound of the dot-matrix printer, and having to separate all of the perforated edges of the page guides.....I remember learning to properly touch-type with 10 fingers on a TYPEWRITER with no letters on the keys, either so we memorized them, or because they were so well-worn the letters were gone.....Changing the ink ribbon....spacing manually....going to the library to research school projects.... I even remember the Dewey-decimal system, and card-stock library tags in the backs of the library books where you put your name and the due date, rather than bar codes...stuffed animals and dolls that didn't come with their own websites, but were fun on their own...

I remember biking for hours, as far from home as I dared, on my own or with my friend...reading for hours when it was raining, Commander Tom's world when watching TV in the basement on Sunday Mornings while my parents slept...following the morning show schedule, WITH commercials, and not having a choice as to watch anything else...later playing cartridges or big black floppy discs on our Commodore 64...
Being allowed, at age 10 to invent cake recipes with my friend...and use the oven without supervision!

I remember when K-mart was the enemy, where no one wanted to admit to shop at because it was totally uncool, and before the invasion of Walmart and Target.....I remember fluorescent clothing the First time around, as well as Big hair and WAY too much makeup...Lip Smackers flavoured lip gloss...Plastic Hallowe'en costumes with plastic masks that were impossible to see through, and got all sweaty or broke before the end of trick-or-treating...

What will my kids remember?  What will stick out for them as important?  Exciting?  New?  Different?  How will they value themselves and judge themselves in an era where every possible bit of information to compare themselves against is out there, in your pocket, on the computer, on digital bill-boards....when every child's private life, and every teens' love life is posted with photographs online...when library research is replaced with online research...when you can self-diagnose online without going to a doctor...

I'm scared for my children.  There's so much more to navigate than when we were young.  But I'm also excited for them....and their children....

" ..They'll learn much more...than I'll ever know..."


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

kindergartener in love....

Okay, so thanks to a fever-induced lack of good judgement by C several months ago, B was introduced to the Never Say Never documentary about young Justin Bieber.  And, as all 4 year olds do, we have watched this documentary a gagillion times.  If it was a good old VHS, it'd be worn out by now.  Thank goodness for Netflix (or curse them, for making this documentary available in the first place...).  When her sister finally completely objected to watching it for the thousandth time, B pitched a fit, of course, but then silently swore to herself she'd watch him every time D was away from the house.  The less-than-secret love affair could continue.  Now, any time D gets to go somewhere that B can't, like a play date with a school friend, B consoles herself with the sweet peppy music of mini-Bieber.

Aaah, young love....

Needless to say, she's a bit obsessed with him now.  

But only with the 14 year old Justin.  She doesn't want anything to do with the adult version.  Thankfully.  And because she is only 4, and time makes no real sense to her, this apparent contradiction in reality does not yet pose a problem for her.  She's even decided that when she's an adult (age 14 in her mind) she's going to adopt a baby, and if it's a boy, she's calling it Justin, and if it is a girl, she's calling it Joostin!  

We went back to school clothes shopping at Value Village yesterday, and she's beside herself with glee because we relented and let her get 2 JB shirts... she was in love, and they were only $2 bucks each.... D rolled her eyes, and B's response was an indignant "What?!!  I NEEEEEEDED them!  Of COURSE I did!"

The BEST JB story happens today though -  going through  B's clothes drawers to pull out the old stuff she doesn't wear or that doesn't fit anymore... I pulled out a few shirts that just have never made the cut.  She agrees that she's not going to wear them, but to console either herself, or me (I'm not sure which) she says to me, in complete seriousness "That's okay, we'll save them for [baby] Justin - he'll need them when he does his rock concerts".  She was DEAD SERIOUS!!!!!

HOW do you keep a straight face when hit with that?!! seriously?!! 

gawd having kids is awesome.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Duct Tape Lunch Bags Tutorial

In the excitement of summer holidays approaching an end, and school shopping lists getting closer and checked off bit by bit each day, I thought I'd offer this fun activity that both acts as something to keep your kids entertained, creative, and happy for one more day of the break, while creating something unique and useful, that the munchkins will get use out of, rather than being on display.  I present to you: 

The Insulated Duct Tape Lunch Bag!

 So, I was looking for a way to use some of the super amazing new patterns of Duck Brand Tape that we sell where I work.  Originally, I was just going to duct tape over a couple of the girls' old lunch bags, but then I figured; "Hey! I can sew, I can make things outta duct tape, SOMEONE on the interweb has to have made a lunch bag out of duct tape before, and put up a tutorial?  Turns out Nope.  So, after some researching on other types of hand-made lunch bags, and doing some material-choice substitutions, THIS is what I came up with.  I was so impressed with the outcome, that I decided to do a tutorial on how they're made, so that you too, can enjoy this fun alternative to a store-bought lunch bag.

 Materials You Will Need:

Tools you will need...

  • Duct Tape, in whatever colours you like.  You can probably do the whole thing in one roll of 9.1m Tape, but there are so many fun styles and patterns out there, I doubt you will be able to buy just one!
  • Foiled Windshield Screen/Visor from the dollar store - the ones that accordion closed and are Styrofoam and reflective foil.  These ones were $1.50 each. This is the insulation and inside wall of your lunch bag.
  • Large piece of paper (I'm using that brown roll of paper, it's huge, and designed for protecting floors during construction)
  • a ruler, pencil and pen, scissors
  • a front fastener - I used plastic snaps because I have a snap press, but Velcro or sewn on buttons/snaps would work too
  • some of your regular lunch containers and beverage containers to make sure you're making your lunch bag big enough to hold them! 
The Process:
Template - see end of post for scale drawing
  •  Use the Large Paper to draw yourself a template (in pencil so you can erase mistakes instead of starting over).  Make sure to place your lunch containers against the various "walls" of your bag, to ensure proper fit.  I made mine a rectangular prism - as such: 

This is a flattened 3-D shape, like we did in elementary school geography.. The base centered, with the back, front, and two sides attached to the base.  I made my base 13cm X 22cm, the back and front 22cm X 23cm, and the sides 13cm X 23cm.
I made the top and front flap as one separate piece, because making it all as one piece would not have fit on my window reflector - I taped them together afterward.  You can see here the cross shape of the template, with the base in the centre, and the 4 sides.  The lid/flap is the piece to the side, already partly cut out - I made it 22cm X 22cm - size enough to cover the top and fold over the front to fasten.  Label each square so that you know what is what.
No seam Allowance! Cut right on the lines.
  • Cut out the template right on the line.  Because this isn't being sewn, we don't need to have a seam allowance!  Don't cut the lines where the sides meet the base - those are folding lines.  The fewer pieces to attach together, the easier this project is.  
  • Fold up your template, and make sure all of your lines meet up where they should.  Put your top where it would go, make sure where it would fasten to the back "wall" is even as well, and folds over nicely.  Adjust your template until you are sure you are happy with it before continuing to the next step.

The Helpers!

  • Trace your template onto the "wrong" side of your insulation piece (the sun visor).  Mine was foil on one side, and just plain white foam on the other, so I used ball-point pen, so it wouldn't rip or smudge all over the foam.  Cut it out, just like the paper, and fold to make sure all of your seams and edges line up where they should.

  • If you did this using the same template as me, you should now have a very shiny X shape, and another little piece as the lid.
  • Now comes the taping - the fun part!  Fold your sides and backs up, and tape them in place with small bits of duct tape near the top open edges of the bag, so that the bag sort of holds it's shape (image A):

Image A - 4 corners taped at tops, lid shown.
Image B - lengthwise strip of tape on both sides of lid.
  • Tape the lid piece to the top of the back piece, using a long strip of duct tape - do this on both sides of the lid piece, so that there's tape inside AND outside of the bag (image B).
  • Tape the 4 edges of the bag lengthwise from top to bottom of the bag.  I found it easiest to flatten the two sides against each other and fold the tape over the edges (image C).  Press the tape down firmly.
Image C - tape edge lengthwise.

  Now  you have what looks like a very plain lunch bag.  Time to decorate!  You can tape any way you choose, just make sure that in the end,  every part of the white foam/outside of the bag is covered with strips.  Here's how we did ours:
  • Tape bag in lengthwise strips, starting at edge of lid (fold a tiny bit over to inside), down the back, under the bottom, around and up the front, and fold a tiny bit of tape over to the inside of the front of the bag.  Make sure you have pressed the tape down firmly everywhere, and that there are no air pockets, and as few wrinkles, as possible in your tape.
Push tape down firmly!
Happy creator!

  When lid, front, bottom, and back are covered, do the same down from one side top, over the already taped bottom, and up the other side, folding a tiny bit over the edge.  Doubling up tape on the bottom makes it a bit stronger, and makes for fewer cut tape lines on your work. 
  • Next, fold a strip of tape over the top edge of the bag, covering up all of the raggedy edges of tape folded in there previously.  Do the same around the edges of the lid/flap.  This tidies up all of the rough edges, as well as hides and protects the top edges of visible white Styrofoam.

    Fold a piece of tape over the whole edge.

Inside top edge - all covered neatly.

    Taped over foam handle, taped in place!
    Scrap of foam folded lengthwise for handle.

  • To make a handle in the top, I used a scrap of the foam/foil insulator, a bit longer than the  top of the bag.  I folded it in half and taped it over, and then taped it to the top of the bag on each side of the handle, using a longer stretch of tape.

  • I used my plastic snaps and snap press to fasten the front of the flap to the bag, but this is where sticky or sewn on Velcro would work, a zipper if you're handy with zippers (I bet they could be taped on too, rather than sewn, as long as you taped both from top and bottom of the zipper), buckle, or sew on snaps or buttons!  To make a buttonhole in the lid, I would snip a small rectangle, and then cover the edges of the rectangle with tape again, to keep the sticky raw edges off of the button.   
  • You can also use permanent marker, or cut out shapes from duct tape, or a combination of the two, as I did to make the monograms on the fronts, to decorate in any way you'd like!

 Voila!  Your very own creation!  I welcome comments and feedback, questions for clarification, etc.  It's been a while since I've done a tutorial, and I'm a bit rusty!

Monday, August 5, 2013

let the CRAZIES begin....what are you doing with YOUR summer so far?!

So, it's not completely insane around here right now.   For this minute.  We can only go a minute at a time, right?  So far, we've been camping with extended family twice, once for a week with the cousins (totally great - the kids biked around the sites and pretty much entertained each other most of the time), and once with even more family members for a weekend.  Somewhere in between there was my 37th birthday, and my  all time COOLEST birthday party of all time.  I had a CONCERT in my backyard for my birthday!  REALLY!!!  A fantastic musician named Ember Swift just happened to be in town, and just happens to be a Facebook friend of mine....well, we chatted, and voila!  A concert in my backyard.

 I tried to take more videos of her music, but every time I did, a certain 4.5 year old would jump in my lap and altogether ruin the video....ah well, there're the memories... oh, and her entire CD collection that she gave me as a gift....

Hillside Music Festival was next, my first big venue as a crafter/artisan, an ENTIRE WEEKEND of selling a whole 10x10 booth's worth of merchandise...that I made!!!  Sad and happy that it is over, it was awesome, although somewhat WET.... and exhausting. My first big show, as a vendor, and I'm totally hooked!  Here's a gratuitous pic of my booth, which I have to say, was awesome (if I do say so myself).... I enjoyed everything about it.....except, maybe that B was so starved for my attention that she felt the need to repeatedly head-butt me with a running start from across the field, and roll around on the mat in the tent.... even when customers were trying to look around.
The baBaZOoBee! Tent at Hillside
I especially loved the freedom that 8.5 year old D felt for the first time, wandering the festival with her friends, who were plentiful, at all hours of the day, until 11pm!  And how little B tried to excercise the same freedoms, in her own little way... I loved my neighbours, the lovely family in charge of Bee Kind Organics, and the goofy guys (and girl) running Civic Trust... though I'm certain my girls experienced their first second-hand-smoke high from all the weed that was prevalent near our tents over the weekend.  Aah, folk music festivals.... ;)
the Toronto Zoo
After a day of recovery, we headed to Toronto to visit my parents, and go on some great adventures to the Toronto Zoo, which was super, albeit exhausting, and the Ontario Science Centre with my parents, which was so crowded it made me rethink ever spending time in a Toronto attraction again....though by the end we enjoyed ourselves so much that I ate my words and we upgraded to an annual membership.  Out-voted by the children, we spent an extra day in the T-dot, and then it was back to the Farmer's Market on Saturday...well, you can see why I'm semi-comatose on the couch right now....
 Crazy faces at the  Ontario Science Centre with my folks
Add 2 trips to Ikea while visiting my parents, and a new bench and kitchen chairs, and it's been one hell of a week.

So, as I said, (smirk), it's not too busy around here right now.  No, really!  Those things all were busy, but now it's the day after.  And I'm sitting on the couch, semi-comatose, with the burnt edges of a migraine peeking through the caffeine-Tylenol combo.....and a cat purring in my ear.  Life is good.

**Post-note.  We spent all of TODAY at Andrew's Scenic Acres picking blueberries and raspberries, riding ponies and feeding goats, playing on old wooden and steel playground equipment (you know, the GOOD stuff, from OUR childhoods) and riding the's a pic of most of this evening's dinner:
homemade waffles with blueberry/raspberry sauce and thick sliced farmer's market local cucumbers were added to the plate after the fact......

I repeat.  Life is good!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Neat-o tips and tricks that I've gleaned along the way.

(Otherwise entitled - a post for Melissa.....)

A friend of mine once suggested that I post a bunch of the tips and tricks I've learned over the hear they least as many I can get down while the girls watch "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"...again....

Food tricks:

  • A wonderful low-fat alternative to liquid coffee creamers, that is still natural dairy - Instant Skim Milk Powder!   Can be kept in the cupboard at work, in a jar going camping, can even pre-mix with sugar or your favourite sweetener for a one-scoop solution! 
  • Buy your coffee beans whole - they stay fresher!  You don't need any fancy equipment to grind it yourself - just a good old fashioned blender!  I get a weeks' worth of coffee ground in about 5 seconds, and the smell of the grinding fresh coffee is better than the brew fragrance!
  • Another coffee trick - like flavoured coffee?  Don't have any?  Add a drop or two of vanilla extract, or a fresh raspberry or two (slightly squished), a couple of teaspoons of irish cream, or a couple pinches of cocoa powder or cinnamon to the top of your coffee grounds before  turning on the percolator.  Instant yum!  To just remove bitterness, a pinch of salt to the top of the grinds works very well.
  • Cool lunch trick - pour boiling water into a tall insulated thermos.  Put in one or two raw hot dogs or veggie dogs.  Put buns or wraps in the lunch, and some condiments - packs gleaned from fast food restaurants work well.  At lunch time you or your kiddo will have a hot meal of cooked hot dogs!   
  •  Teach yourself or your children to use chop sticks without buying those fancy spreaders - a rubber band or hair elastic wound in figure eights around the two stick ends around 2/3 back is often enough resistance and spacing to help you out.  If not, taping the two sticks to two sides of a clothespin?

Kidstuffs tips:

  • Children's stuffed animals lost their super soft newness?  return them to their new-fluffy-glory days for under $2.00.  Hit your local dollar store and purchase a cat/dog brush...If you already have one then you can do this for free! Most stuffed animals can actually be washed in the machine on gentle, an dried in the dryer on low.  If your child has a favourite "buddy" you probably already know this!  Once dry, give it a thorough brushing with the pet brush.  Does wonders!!!!!
  • Teach your little ones to wash dishes early - use 2 plastic tubs - like the Rubbermaid kind for dish  washing when you're camping - on towels on the kitchen table.  One for wash, with warm soapy water, and one for rinse.  Have the young ones wash plastic dishes and non-sharp cutlery, and put them on another towel to dry!  Start by making it a fun activity with pre-rinsed dishes, and work up from there, as often as they want to!
  • Keep a baggie of hair elastics or rubber bands in your diaper bag if you have a mobile baby.  When you go visiting to homes that aren't child proof, an elastic wrapped around two lower cabinet or drawer knobs will provide some crude babyproofing, at least slowing down the child's discovery process!
  • Did you know you can use soft pastels/chalk pastels (bought in many art stores, such as Michaels) to temporarily put colour streaks in your hair?  Great for kids' birthday parties, or even a funky do for the day...or to try on new shades before a more permanent attempt! 
  •   Prolong the life of too small clothes - Leggings or sweatpants that have become too short can be cut down to make shorts or capris - no sewing required!  To make girl's legging shorts look more like the store bought ones, put a little slit about 1.5" long up the outside seam of each cut leg....

Household Tips:

  •  Shoes too tight?, need to work in new shoes?  Do what Rock Climbers do - put some rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and spritz the inside of the shoes until damp, right before putting them on - speeds the leather softening process, and makes your shoes more cozy sooner!
  • Looking for studs behind the drywall?  Try using a rare-earth or superstrong magnet taped to a strong enough string..... dangle the string against the wall, and drag slowly in one direction across the wall...this will work best in a wall with steel studs, but big nails and screws in wooden drywall can work too.  The magnet will stick to the metal parts of the studs, showing you where they are!
  • Keep toothbrushes super-clean, and extend their lives - put about an inch of hydrogen peroxide (the 3% solution) in the bottom of a small mason jar or clean glass - put toothbrushes in headfirst for 5 minutes every week or three to kill organic matter including bacteria!
  •  Toilet Flusher not working?  Check in the tank to see if the chain is broken.  If it is, you can temporarily fix it with a paperclip or safety pin!
  • Trying to move a heavy object or piece of furniture/appliance across the floor?  Turn a bathmat or front door mat upside down and place under heavy object.  Carpet side will slide easily across the floor, and grippy side of mat will keep the heavy object from slipping off of the mat while pushing!
  •   zipper or drawers sticky?  Use a dry bar of soap, a crayon or some beeswax and "colour" the two surfaces that rub against each other.  The wax will make the pull very smooth!
  • Scratches in your finished floor or table?  For black or almost black surfaces, like the laminated ikea style furniture or even picture frames, a black sharpie works really well.  Draw over the scratch and then quickly wipe off of the excess.  For screw holes or scratches in lighter wood, rub a similarly coloured crayon (yes, a crayola will work) hard and back and forth over that spot quickly to create friction heat - it will melt a bit of the crayon into the scratch/spot.  Use a paper towel or rag to rub off the excess in the same fashion!
  • Time to clean the microwave?  Easy-peasy.  Soak a dishcloth in water and put it in the middle of the turn-tray of the machine, spray a little lemon juice or  vinegar around the inside of the microwave and on the cloth, and run the microwave on HIGH for 30-45 seconds. Grime wipes away super easy, and with the lemon juice, the machine smells lovely!!!
  • Did you know that Epsom Salts are a GREAT natural fertilizer?  There are many ways to apply it, either directly at sowing in granular form, or diluting it 1 tbsp per gallon as a foliage spray.  Who knew!?

I'm certain there are more... tons more.  there are always more! If you can think of any, let me know!  I may even post them here!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

parenting greeting cards you will never see....

So, after 4 hours of shopping for dresses and shorts for my incredibly sensitive little girl, I sorta wanted some compassion.  I mean, it was bloody hell.  To be honest, I wanted some sort of recognition when I was done on how seriously awful shopping with a 4.5 year old with special needs is!  After 4 meltdowns, 4 stores, countless "no, I'm sorry we can't buy that today"s, a heartbreak over a stuffed bunny that I wouldn't buy her, several small freak outs about trying on clothes in the change room (she thought someone might see her changing) and tags/threads/pockets/appliques in places that drive her mental, and a small panic attack over a cricket loose on the floor of the pet store,  I deserve a freakin' medal!

However, I realize that medals are a bit pricey, and rather cumbersome and hard to come by, so I'd settle for just a nice card, or even an e-card, stating how much I am appreciated for the work I do...Unfortunately, on hunting for them, I find there aren't really many satisfactory sentiments out there to show appreciation for the work parents do.  So, I'm compiling a few here today.  Tell me what you think!  

or maybe one of these?
and maybe one day, we'll even be featured in the paper:

Oh well, I guess I'll just settle with a grubby-handed hug and an "I love you" from a smiley love-eyed little girl...On second thought, that's the best reward ever, isn't it?

If you have any cute/funny/sarcastic parenting-related e-cards I'd love to see them!  Message them to me on Facebook, and I may post them there, or even here!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

the perfect parent.

I read a lot. 

Not the historical fiction or murder mystery or teenage angst books of my B.C. era (Before Children), and definitely not as much or in the same way as I used to, picking up a novel and starting at the beginning and getting to the end within a day or two, but I still push my eyes across written words and try to make sense of the black and white. More than I probably should sometimes.

 These days my focus is most often Parenting blogs, Pinterest, Facebook Links, Tweets, parenting books, books on How To Be Perfect (Or Close Enough) At Everything I Do.  I've learned that I will never be *that* parent.  The parent who neatly packages each organic-raw-vegan-cut-out-to-look-like-animal-shapes-perfect lunch in non-toxic, sustainable, sourced locally or fair trade containers, the parent who has instilled the importance of charity so strongly in their child that instead of birthday presents the child wants their friends to donate funds to the "Unfortunate-Felines-With-Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder-From-Witnessing-Natural-Disasters-in-Third-World-Countries-Association".  I will not be the parent who NEVER yells at their children, though I do an admirable job 88% of the time, who never snaps without really listening, who is content to co-sleep until their child is 13 and can finally sleep through the night unaided.  I will not be taking my children traveling this summer to witness first hand how people in different countries live and make a living, cook their food, treat their pets...We won't be visiting Seniors Homes and volunteering our time socializing and interacting with the unfortunate seniors without visiting families of their own.  I will not have all the answers, nor will I even know all of the right probing questions to ask at all the right pivotal times...

Nor will I spend my afternoons and evenings shuttling my 2 children between piano or violin lessons, swimming lessons, riding lessons, baseball, soccer, gymnastics, education-enrichment tutoring, and tap dancing class.  My kids will not be spending their summer in a super-cool, mind-expanding, drama/sport/equine summer camp.  We will not be planning any over-the-top perfect themed garden parties with little white-bread finger sandwiches and lemonade, we will not be going on a Disney Cruise, tending our backyard free-range pet chickens (even though I reallllllly want some)....I will not be running a  waldorf-style-homeschool-based neighbourhood-kid enrichment program teaching everyone to Crochet, Knit, and Needlefelt with all-natural materials...

I will stress about my mistakes, about having chosen to vaccinate my babies, being on medication while pregnant, not having been able to breastfeed, I will feel guilty about yelling, or spending a few minutes on the computer instead of focusing 100% of my attention on my children and my them one more opportunity to form perfect memories of their perfect relationship with their perfect parents....

What we will have?  I can't say for certain in the long term, but this summer?  Walks to the park, pushes on the swing, a shoulder to support them as they attempt the monkey bars again... magic mud a la Dr. Zed... baking soda and vinegar volcanoes...Big cauldrons
of potions of rain-barrel water and anything found in the back yard, stirred with sticks and pronounced "magic" with incantations never replicable....Entire days of no structure, where the kids (poor deprived children) will have to learn how to entertain themselves with a houseful of toys, bikes, scooters, a backyard playground and trampoline...also using said toys, bikes, scooters, backyard playground and trampoline together as a family.

There will be camping with extended family, crazy long car rides, multiple games of eye spy, alphabet hunt, find a red car, find the nearest bathroom NOW!!, canoe rides, hikes in the woods, campfires, campfire songs, roasted marshmallows and smores, bike rides on dirt roads, looking for wildlife, wild blueberries and fireflies, using outhouses and not bathing for a week.  Attempts at fishing, daisy chain making, and staying up as late as possible.

 We will have puzzles and board games, kites, and our vegetable garden....eating strawberries and raspberries, apples, chives and chocolate mint right out of our yard, we will go strawberry picking, apple picking, and possibly blueberry picking again... Farmers' Market, and hopefully the Zoo....Many Many Many colouring pages, scissor crafts, sidewalk chalk and poster paint art....will go through many rolls of scotch and painters' tape, reams of paper, and bags of flour for playdough and dishsoap and water for blowing bubbles...

Discussions about heredity, mortality, immortality, puberty (eek!!), financial management, the basics of friendships, the intricacies of friendships, love, disappointment, responsibility, homework, magic, fairies, Harry Potter, our past, our future, evolution, religion, tradition, family, ability, transition, development, aerodynamics, ecology, herbology, biology, chemistry......

Shopping at the Mall, or more likely Value Village, books read, stories invented, plays and musical performances put on by two or more over-excited and under-practiced children, videos and photos taken, trips to restaurants, pizza dinners in front of a movie, running in the rain or under the sprinkler or getting wet in the local wading pool or splash pad.... burned seats on sun-roasted playground slides, sand in between our toes and in our undies after a day at the park....hide and seek, and that weird game "Grounders" that was invented either outside the community I grew up in or after my time as a child....and I'm certain I will be conned into playing pretend with them at least once or twice - being little sister, big sister, baby, puppy, horsey, or even the bus, in an extended game of make-believe for as long as I can handle it...

We will be filthy and sun-soaked, sometimes grumpy, sometimes overtired, and sometimes bored....there will be arguments between friends and siblings, and even us adults, there will be issues at bedtime, issues with cleaning up, with impatience, the wrong meals, uncomfortable socks, or even just having to wear socks in the first place....

We will accidentally go too long without a snack and our kids will get "hangry" - so hungry that they're angry, according to both my good friends in Gravenhurst, and one of my favourite blogs, Herding Cats.  We will accidentally forget the organic-non-deet-insect-repellant, or not-so-all-natural sunscreen, and kick ourselves (metaphorically, I hope) as one of us whimpers through a day of sunburn or too many itchy insect bites...We will be late for playdates, forget to wish friends and family members (at least those not on facebook) a happy birthday; will be irritated with fruit flies buzzing around the kitchen counter because we ignored the dishes for one day too many...or with moths and mosquitos in the house because a door was left open AGAIN...We will be irrationally irritated by our children getting muddy right before going somewhere, singing off-key and high pitched, missing a turn-off on the highway, or having to stop on the road to go to the bathroom AGAIN, even though we asked 5 minutes before if anyone had to "go".  There will be rainy-day disappointment, my-friend-isn't-home-and-I-am-disapointed days, and days where we are too tired to entertain another game of make-believe with our children.

 In those times, those moments where we are cross, short tempered, frustrated, irritated, or down right angry and fed-up, in those times, it will be very easy to forget all of the positives.  All of the adventures of watching a snail's foot from underneath as it ripples across a pane of glass, the sheer joy of using the pressure of a garden hose to make a HUGE mud puddle to squish between our toes...

In those times I will feel the guilt of not being *THAT parent*.  That perfect air-brushed, edited, does everything right parent who schedules and plans and organizes and is never late for anything.  And hopefully in those moments I will remember this post, look at all of the things we will do, all of the things we are, and hopefully I will step back and realize, and truly believe, that as a parent,


Monday, June 10, 2013

first shameless plug in a LONG time....

SO...If you hadn't already figured it out, I craft for a living.  And by living, I mean I craft stuff cuz it's awesome fun, try to sell it, and hope to make money enough to justify the crazy stash of yarn and other materials that I keep feeding into the craft room......and maybe buy groceries here and there.....

Oh.... and now I use this money to support B's therapeutic needs...purchasing supplies for therapies, etc...

I've noticed recently a distinct lack of purchasing happening on my etsy site.  This probably has a lot to do with a distinct lack of me posting new items to my etsy site....It's not that I'm not creating, in fact I've made more new products this last few months than I have in my entire "career" as a WAHM (work at home mom for those not in the know)...

The truth is, I HATE doing the photography, editing, and posting of new items on my page.  I'd LOVE to find a way to magically make this stuff happen without me.  Maybe find someone willing to work for banana bread and cookies?  Maybe advertising trade, or even products?  I'd be so thrilled with that!  But for now, I'll just show you some not-so-great pics taken with my phone...if i can figure out how to do that....grin.

Let me know what you think, okay?
made these for a chicken lover's X-mas tree...
little knitted mice - also a special request!
This special dolly traveled to New Jersey a few weeks back.

huge 55" play silks dyed with food well as ribbons of silk for ribbon sticks...
a personalized baby blanket....
I have made a ton of different journal covers..

These beautiful Waldorf dollies are still looking for their
forever homes...
As you can see, I've been busy.  And there're so many more.  These girls all have shoes now, by the way....
If you were interested in adopting one of these special girls, or any other product listed here, or that strikes your fancy that you think I can pull off for you, you can contact me via email or facebook - I've set the images to open up an email to me.. Adoption fee is $199, plus shipping.  (oh, and if you think you can barter your skills as a web page developer, or photographer, you can contact me that way too).

On top of the sewing and dyeing and crocheting I've done for my shop, I've also been at the Guelph Farmer's Market - If you're anywhere near, come find me on Saturday Mornings, 7am - 12pm, at our new location for the summer - Exhibition Arena.  We'll be there until the renovations are complete on the original marketplace.  Shuttles are available for free from our original market location.

I am SO VERY EXCITED to also have been accepted as a vendor at Guelph's own Hillside Music Festival!!  I'm trying like mad to produce enough to fill a 10 x 10 booth for a whole weekend of wonder - this will be Hillside's 30th anniversary - and promises to be another fantastic year.  Check out the link for more information - I think there are a few individual day tickets left!  My girls are excited to be attending again this year, and super excited that we get to camp right behind my booth!

This has been my first post in a long time.  I'm hoping to get back on regular posting again.. I've been pretty busy producing.  Oh, and watching Netflix....It's amazing how much better the US Netflix is..So glad I finally figured out how to make that happen on my Canadian laptop and wii......Grin.