Wednesday, November 26, 2008


No, I didn't skip straight from 1 to 24... I'm finished making my envelopes for Ruby's advent calendar. I won't string 'em up until Sunday night after she goes to bed (it would just be cruel to make her stare at it without getting to dig in), but I'm essentially finished. I've already stuffed the envelopes with treats: little plastic animals and candies, alternating so that she doesn't start every single day with a blast of sugar. I'm really excited about this one and I know she's going to freak right out when she sees it. Since she's started practicing from her Christmas concert at school, I'd say that Christmas season has officially started in our house.

And, most craft blog people have probably already checked it out, but I'm totally obsessed with Sew Mama Sew's Handmade Holiday posts. They did this last year too, and I love the themed selection of tutorials, handmade gifts to buy and treats to bake that they've offered every day this month. I don't think I'll actually have time to make any of this stuff, but I love looking through them every day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Clean Bib, Happy Baby

Due to some non-stop parenting, I fell way of the blogging every day wagon last week. Aaron was out of town, and man, is it ever exhausting chasing Henry around and feeding Ruby and all that. Anyway, I got very little done last week in general, so I hope to have some finished advent calendar action to show you soon, since that deadline is certainly creeping up. I have four envelopes to go... but you never know.

This weekend I went to a craft show and picked up a few Mally bibs for gifts, plus one for Henry. I'm way late to the leather bib train, but I'm hooked. Look how cute this one is! And it does wipe clean. Awesome.

In other news, I've decided to give up coffee, at least on weekdays. It was starting to make me feel crazy. Now I'm feeling tired. Green tea is tasty, but coffee it is not.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ruby Tuesday

All apologies to Ward (he of the inspiring Ava Thursday), but I felt compelled to share some Ruby art. After sharing Ruby's correspondence with her friend Simon, I thought I'd show you the picture that she drew to send along with her letter. Ruby's art is still usually pretty abstract, but I had the suspicion that she could draw actual people if she felt like it. So, I casually suggested that she might want to draw a picture of Simon himself to send to Toronto. She sat down and came up with this beauty -- the first actual drawing of humans that I've seen from her.

From left to right, you've got Ruby, Simon's baby sister Stella, and Simon. Ruby felt bad that she didn't include Simon's body, but I told her that it's just perfect the way it is. And it is. Perfect.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Baby Pie...

... that's what Ruby was pretending this pillow is. I love it, and so does she.

I've always been drawn to crafts made out of doll parts, and I'm not just talking about the hipster jewelry that you can find made out of Barbie faces and such. I'm talking full-on granny craft. I love these kinds of pillows, I like the doll whose full crocheted dress conceals a box of kleenex, and as a kid I always wanted one of those birthday cakes that acted as a dress for a plastic doll. You know what I mean. This pillow is creepy and kind of looks like a baby pie, but I still think it's awesome in a totally unironic way.

While this would have been easy to make, I bought it for $5 at a local craft show... one of those community craft shows that is full of acrylic granny crafts: slippers, barbie clothes, ornaments, knit dolls, etc. I loved it. Now I just have to find a place in our house for the baby pie since Aaron has very clearly stated that he never wants to see it again. Boo.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Three Years...

Three years, three years I've been blogging (actually, three years as of Friday, but I'm failing on this NaBloPoMo thing). I chose the above picture randomly. Below is a list of 100 things I love (compiled quickly and with little real thought, so it's a little random), as inspired by the lovely Andrea:

1. chocolate
2. baby smell
3. gossip
4. television
5. red
6. whistles
7. grass
8. pottery
9. cereal
10. slippers
11. vintage
12. pyrex
13. photobooths
14. cherries
15. fancy make-up
16. dress-up
17. parties
18. giggles
19. pillows
20. coffee table books
21. vampires
22. doilies
23. coffee
24. kidsʼ art
25. boat rides
26. carousels
27. road trips
28. bunnies
29. cats
30. ballet flats
31. ballet recitals
32. ribbons
33. teapots
34. day timers
35. fishnets
36. cardigans
37. milkshakes
38. cool water
39. coke zero
40. massages
41. accents
42. banjos
43. beaded curtains
44. old trees
45. tiger lilys
46. cuddles
47. polished stones
48. old school video games
49. shoe laces
50. butterflies
51. floral patterns
52. ʻ50s dresses
53. ʻ80s model BMWs
54. mascara
55. lip gloss
56. mineral foundation
57. pin-ups
58. pulp fiction
59. biography
60. recycling bins
61. old fans
62. pearls
63. guided tours
64. chandeliers
65. persian rugs
66. shawarma sandwiches
67. broaches
68. veils
69. Starbucks holiday drinks
70. pink Christmas ornaments
71. mojitos
72. fresh tortillas
73. ice cream
74. handbags
75. handmade soap
76. playing cards
77. matchbooks
78. wood paneling
79. grandmaʼs house
80. fisher price little people
81. tea sets
82. doll houses
83. argyle
84. nap time
85. lists
86. Blythe dolls
87. shawls
88. magic eraser
89. my little pony
90. old lamps
91. puppets
92. wine
93. stinky cheese
94. vinyl records
95. mugs
96. cake trays
97. cupcakes
98. cookie jars
99. silk scarves
100. tea towels

Thursday, November 13, 2008

8 Months!

I can't believe that Henry has been with us for eight months. He still feels so new, but I also can't remember life before this crazy little man came into our lives. Happy 13th, little guy.

And, since I'm getting all mom-blog on you, I feel compelled to document an exchange of letters that's been going on. Ruby's dear friend Simon (and his baby sister and parents, who are dear friends of ours), moved to Toronto over the summer. It was a very sad farewell, and Ruby mentions frequently that she needs to go to Toronto to remind Simon that he's supposed to marry her. Yep, cute. Yesterday, we got a letter in the mail, which Simon dictated to his mother and she wrote down his words verbatim:

Dear Ruby,

We miss you. We hope you are having a good day.
I hope you will get to see us soon.
I will make a painting for you and put it in this letter.
I have a new home. Maybe sometime you could come in the spring and we could have a playdate together?
I am having a plum for dessert!

We have all our things unpacked now including the stero.
If you come over, we could listen to some music on the stereo together. The other thing is, we have lots of DVDs for you to watch

Sometimes cats come in our backyard and my daddy has to shoo them away.

Dear Ruby, I love you. We are eating supper and having apricot beer.

Bye Bye,

Here's what Ruby is writing back in return (also recorded verbatim):

Dear Simon,

I'm coming to Toronto. I want to see you. I want to play with you. I want to come over for a playdate. I love you.
Chug-a-chug-a-choo-choo! I want to play with you and share toys with you. I want to play some games.
We will have a magic word. How about we say "elephant" when we see each other. And we'll say "hi."
I will see you in May. I'll be smiling. And then I'll say "sparkle."
Thank you for your letter. I miss you.

Ruby. Hearts.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The First Batch Is The Sweetest

This will come as a huge surprise to anyone who has followed this blog through a holiday season, but I'm not feeling Christmas this year. I know, it's still early, but at this point last year I think I'd baked about four or five batches of cookies and had almost finished my shopping. This year my Christmas traditions are feeling more like chores than pleasures.

We're having a smaller holiday party this year, partially because I can't bring myself to do a crazy amount of silly prep. People will still have a good time with a simple punch, store-bought dip and three kinds of cookies rather than ten, right? Maybe it's because of the financial times we're living in: even though our family are thus far doing alright (knock on wood), it seems garish to go too far this Christmas. Or maybe I'm just the mother of two small children and I'm tired.

Anyway, I started my cookie baking today. I don't think I'm going to pour over all of my many holiday cookie magazines (or buy new ones) -- I think I'm sticking to the Martha Cookie book this year. First up to bat is the Chocolate Crackle cookies. Holy crap, these are good -- probably the most successful go I've had with this book (though, those banana bread cookies were really good too). I knew I was in for something good when I sneaked a taste of the batter -- you could have spooned the stuff into custard cups and served it for dessert on its own. Baked up these are cakey and really really chocolaty, tasting more like really airy brownies than anything. Seriously good. And with the icing sugar, they almost pass as Christmas cookies.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Book Review: Simply Sublime Bags

I've actually been sitting on this one for a while: Simply Sublime Bags by Jodi Kahn. The book, as the cover promises, has instructions for 30 bags that require little or no sewing. How does she do it, you ask? Recycling, staples, and lots and lots of duct tape.

The bags in the book are gorgeous looking, though after reading through the instructions I'm skeptical about how some of them would look in real life and with less spectacular fabrics. But still, there are some great ideas in here. The chapters are divided by the purpose of the bags: make-up bags, totes, purses, evening bags, change purses and big bags. Jodi is really big on re-purposed materials: she uses pillowcases, t-shirts, placemats, caution tape, astro-turf, shower curtains, a bubble envelope, wallpaper, monopoly money, candy wrappers and a Twister board. She's kind of like the McGyver of purses, which makes this book pretty unique.

Obviously, not all of us will find a tote made out duct tape and a Twister board that practical, but there are a lot of other options in here. And, as other reviewers have mentioned elsewhere, this book would be really great for tweens and teens -- especially those who aren't allowed anywhere near their moms' sewing machines.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Want To Suck Your Blood...

Okay, I'll admit it, I've been quietly trying to blog every day in November (with the exception of Sundays... a girl needs a day of rest). Hence all the book talk. I didn't really want to go here, but I felt compelled to talk about what consumed me this weekend.

I caved. I read Twilight. Usually I don't go for these super-popular young adult titles (well, I did read all the Gossip Girl books), but I haven't been able to finish an actual adult novel since I had Henry, and YA books definitely work while breastfeeding. So I started Twilight, also because I have a soft spot for sexy vampire books (see Rice, Anne). I know that there's been a lot of debate over whether or not these books are actually good, and I do have a lot of problems with some of the book (too long, I didn't actually like the protagonist very much, the dialogue was stiff), but I read the whole thing in two days, which believe me, is a feat for a mommy. I was so drawn in that I'm dying to see the movie later this month (even though the trailer looks kind of terrible). Any other Twilight readers out there? Please discuss. Thank you.

Friday, November 07, 2008


I borrowed this from over at Allsorts (were I've been consulting for the advent thingy). Each line must be answered with a single word. Let me know if you play along.

Where is your mobile phone? purse
Where is your significant other? work
Your hair colour? brown
Your mother? supportive
Your father? eccentric
Your favourite thing? family
Your dream last night? interrupted
Your dream goal? peace
The room you're in? crowded
Your hobby? making
Your fear? boredom
Where do you want to be in 6 years? public
Where were you last night? home
What you're not? rested
One of your wish-list items? massage
Where you grew up? Calgary
The last thing you did? diaper
What are you wearing? jeans
Your TV? overused
Your pets? kids
Your computer? mac
Your mood? frantic
Missing someone? Toronto
Your car? mom-mobile
Something you're not wearing? lipstick
Favourite shop? etsy
Your summer? short
Love someone? completely
Your favourite colour? pink
When is the last time you laughed? Henry
When is the last time you cried? Obama

Dance, Owly, Dance

Shh... this one is for non-Ruby eyes only. I finally got around to ordering Tania's kid's book, Berkley's Barn Owl Dance. I've been collecting a few special Ruby things above and beyond the tea set and doll's house that she's requesting from Santa and I've known for a while now that this book was going to be on that list. I'm not sure if she'll end up getting this for Xmas or if it'll be a birthday gift (early February, you know), but she'll be in for a little Berkley action. I haven't actually read through the book yet, but the illustrations are obviously super cute and it generally looks awesome. Way to go, Tania!

In other news, I took the kids to get their holiday portrait today. Last year we finally nailed Ruby's pose and now we're right back to struggling with a baby in front of the camera. By the time Henry turns into a portrait pro, Ruby will be old enough that she's pouting and sneering in front of the camera. Parenting has been a headache this week, I tell ya. I'm just happy that with Christmas approaching I can use the "the elves are watching" threat on Ruby. Props to whoever invented that whole lump of coal thing... it's the only thing that gets me through the holidays.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Envelope, Please

Every year in early December all the blog types show off what are truly the world's most awesome advent calendars... which is about two months too late for my snail's pace crafting schedule. Last year I admired Jenny's calendar over at All Sorts and miraculously, I actually remembered it and have got a start on making one. I'll go into my insane love of advent calendars once I actually finish the thing, but for now I'll just say that I'm really looking forward to starting this tradition for Ruby and, eventually, Henry.

Jenny has a tutorial over at her site, but I'll tell you it's remarkably easy and the kind of thing that will look good even if you're not a particularly precise crafter. Basically, you make 24 felt envelopes and string them on your mantle or banister. I'm making the envelopes a bit bigger than the tutorial calls for so that I have more options on what to stuff in it (ideas, anyone?) and so that I can put two goodies in each pocket once Henry is a bit older.

And yes, it does seem to be a bit early to start on Xmas stuff (though I am secretly thrilled that that Sears holiday ad that uses the Badly Drawn Boy song is back on the air already), but I think Xmas prep is okay for early November. I won't actually decorate anything until December 1. I promise.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thank You, America

Thank you, America. I don't think many of you realize just how much the rest of the world was watching this election and how obvious the choice seemed to everyone else. Not that you should ever listen to people from other countries when exercising your own democracy, but I promise you, the rest of the world is loving you right now. I feel proud to be situated next to you.

I posted this in the comments section over at Tracy's blog yesterday, but I'll repeat it here. Aaron and I watched Guess Who's Coming To Dinner a couple of months ago, and we were really struck by one scene. Sidney Poitier was talking to one of the parents (I forget which one), discussing the pitfalls of having mixed race children. Poitier admitted that he was worried, but that "Joey thinks they can all be President Of The United States." It seemed so naive, so impossible... and that was the point. Barack Obama was seven years old when that movie was made. Today, forty years after Guess Who's Coming To Dinner was released, Barack Obama is the president-elect of the United States.

But it's not just about a person of colour becoming the leader of the free world (though, that is an amazing and inspirational thing). It's about hope winning over fear. It's about a nation stepping out of the status quo and being brave enough to try something new. It's about the end of apathy and a phenomenal voter turn-out. I was so moved by the images of all the people at Grant Park because it is so rare that you see so many people on the news being so purely happy.

Okay, that's it for the politics around here, but this is so important and so joyful that I've got to speak my mind. If you're lurking around, feel free to comment because even as a Canadian, I feel like this is a time for everyone to experience this together.

Oh, and I chose the above photo because somehow it encapsulates how I'm feeling about the world right now. And it's pretty.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Okay, if you're seeing this blog for the first time, I'm sure you'd assume that I'm a) American and b) a person with too much time on my hands. Well, you'd be wrong on both counts. But, for some reason I, and a lot of other Canadians, are as excited about this day as only the most politically-obsessed of Americans are. While I don't subscribe to the "America is the centre of the universe" view, I do, obviously feel that when things have the potential to be really good down there, that goodness will spread around the world.

We're going to a CNN watching party tonight and I made these delicious Obamacakes. In fact, I've started referring to Aaron as "Obamacakes" as a term of affection. I think I'm going crazy. I'm glad this is all going to be over in just a few short hours (four hours and 43 minutes, according to CNN).

Monday, November 03, 2008

For Those About To Vote...

... I salute you. C'mon America, give the rest of the world reason to love you again. Get that voter turn-out up and elect a man you can be proud of.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Mourning Malti

There are some sad sad faces in our house. Malti, the 15 month old elephant at the Calgary zoo died yesterday after a week-long battle with elephant herpesvirus. She was loved by everyone who frequented the zoo. Her mother had had a calf a few years previous which died at three weeks old after the mother rejected it and refused to care for it. When Malti was born, zookeepers made a heroic effort to get the mother to bond with the babe and the entire city rooted for this little elephant. When Malti celebrated her first birthday in August everyone was so delighted that this little elephant had made it. Then she suddenly got sick and it all ended so fast.

Above is a picture of Ruby in front of Malti's pen, taken about a year ago. The Calgary zoo has had so many losses in the past year or so. I don't know what's up -- but I still support the zoo completely. I've made no secret of the fact that I don't really love this city, but the zoo is one of the few things that I really like about it. It's right in the centre of the city, on an island in the middle of the river. It's a great zoo and I hope they get over a string of really bad luck so that they can continue on strong.

Ruby is having a hard time dealing with this. I suggested that she draw a picture of Malti to send to the zookeepers and the other elephants to make them feel better. Then Ruby said "and I'll draw a magic button on the picture and Malti's mother can push the button with her trunk and Malti will walk out of the picture and be alive again." If only, my sweet.

For a better picture of Malti, click over here or here.