Thursday, May 31, 2007

Life in the Trenches

This morning my toddler bit the top off my favourite lipstick.

Serves me right for trying to paint my toenails before I'd fed him breakfast.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Everybody Loves Paste

I'm feeling quite excited. I signed up to teach a preschool arts and crafts class this summer at the Y. The class is only one hour long, one morning a week, for three weeks in August. My oldest son can come to class with me. (The little ones will play in the babysitting room.) Should be fun...
Basement Update

The construction continues. Our basement is starting to look really good. All the drywall is up. The men finished taping and have slapped on one layer of mud. The mud will dry tomorrow (and we will enjoy a day of quiet). They will do the second layer on Friday.

Next week: sanding (the dirty part), painting (the fun part), and hopefully flooring. The carpet we chose is a berber/plush mix in the colour "soft silver". It closely matched our stone floor on the main level. The walls will be an unadventurous beige. (We have adventure enough in our green-green-green paint upstairs.) We'll put lino in the bathroom and laundry closet. The woodwork will be oak veneer to match the rest of the house.

Fingers crossed, our basement could be completely finished in another couple of weeks.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Where Do They Learn These Things?

My four-year-old son had a difficult day today ... well ... to be completely honest, we both had a difficult day. My son and I grated on each other all morning long.

At one point my little boy became completely exasperated. I had been pestering him to clean up a mess or some such thing. He screwed up his face, looked me straight in the eye and yelled:

"I have had enough of your fancy talk!!!"

I guess he told me.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


My husband and I are incurable bookworms. We each chew through a couple of books per week. Sometimes we borrow books from the library, sometimes we find second-hand treasures, and sometimes we buy our books hot off the press. Throughout the (seven, oh-so short) years of our marriage Ben and I have amassed a fairly large book collection.

Right now our books are all packed away in storage while our basement is being renovated. ("Storage" being our garage, my benevolent parents' basement, my in-laws' dining room...) When the basement is finished, Ben and I have a grand master plan to install bookshelves all along one wall of the playroom. The wall is about 16 ft. long. We figure we can fit four or five tall bookcases along it.

Here's the exciting part: We plan to index our collection of books. Ben has been researching library software. We haven't decided whether to use an existing application or write our own. (Ben, my in-house computer genius, could write our own.) We've decided to use the Dewey Decimal system because it's simple and familiar. We'll print our own "family library" bookplates, label the shelves, the works!

I'm very excited by the prospect. As I've shared before, I secretly harbour a desire to become a librarian. I think this project will indulge my (obsessive, I'll admit) need to organize my surroundings.


I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough book shelves. (Anne Quindlen)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thought for the Day

We can make our own plans,
but the Lord gives the right answer.

People may be pure in their own eyes,
but the Lord examines their motives.

Commit your actions to the Lord,
and your plans will succeed.

(Proverbs 16:1-3 NLT)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Joke of the Day

Our four-year-old told the following joke this evening. (Think he made it up?)

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

Banana peel.

Banana peel who?

Banana peel, glad I didn't say hallelujah?

Thursday, May 24, 2007


No work has been accomplished on our basement this week. The electrical inspector finally arrived this morning. The inspection took all of three minutes. The contractor will start drywalling tomorrow.

My four-year-old son has been sorely testing my patience. I think he has an overabundance of testosterone coursing through his veins.

My two-year-old peed in the toilet twice on Monday. (It was the first time, ever.) He hasn't been interested in using the potty since.

We booked a week-long vacation to Saskatoon and Tobin Lake for July. We'll be attending a family reunion there for a couple of days.

I convinced all the kids, even my four-year-old, to nap this afternoon. I used the unexpected solitude to practice my crochet. After a half-hour of frustration, I think I've got it.

Baby Girl will turn one in a few weeks. She still isn't crawling yet, but she's learned to get around by scooting on her bum. I am planning to make butterfly cupcakes for her birthday.

I have single-handedly eaten an entire watermelon over the past three days.

I am in the midst of refashioning my living room curtains. They are turning out well. I'm hoping to finish them up tonight.

Yesterday the library had a 2-for-1 book sale. I bought two practically brand-new books for a grand total of $1.

Ben has been super-busy at work. I feel like I've hardly seen him over the past three days.

I will not be following my meal plan for tonight. My family will be eating frozen pizza. I don't feel guilty. I don't.

This weekend Ben and I are planning to rearrange the furniture in our living room (to go with the new curtains, of course). I am excited about it. Ben ... well, I'm sure he's looking forward to moving the piano.

The piano tuner is coming June 18.

I hope the basement is finished by June 18.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Some houses try to hide that fact
That children shelter there.
Ours boasts of it quite openly--
The signs are everywhere.
For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges on the doors.
I should apologize, I guess,
For toys strewn on the floor.
But I sat down with the children
And we played and laughed and read.
And if the bathtub doesn't shine
Their eyes will shine instead.
For when, at times, I'm forced to choose
The one job or the other,
I want to have a lovely house,
But first I'll be a mother.

--Author Unknown

(Thanks to Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for providing this poem.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Learn to Crochet
Lessons #1

Heather at Crafty Daisies has started her Learn to Crochet tutorials. I skimmed through today's introductory lesson and was very impressed by its level of detail. (Heather has even included videos!)

I think it's time to break out my fancy new crochet hooks and start learning something new!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Menu Plan Monday
May 21, 2007

Happy Victoria Day, my Canadian friends :-). I hope the weather in your part of the country was better this long weekend than our weather was. (I actually saw snow falling earlier this morning.) I think I'll wait another week or two before I plant my flowers.

Here is my menu plan for the coming week. Please visit Menu Plan Monday headquarters at Org Junkie for other tasty recipes and ideas.

Monday: No cooking! (our weekly meal with my parents)
Tuesday: Beef stroganoff, bow tie pasta, steamed broccoli, spinach salad
Wednesday: Encore performance.
Thursday: Sausage and lentil stew, homemade bread, green salad
Friday: BBQ caesar chicken, potato and carrot foil packets, steamed asparagus
Saturday: Leftovers.
Sunday: No cooking! (our weekly meal with my in-laws)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Book Review:

Get Crafty: Hip Home Ec
by Jean Railla

Jean Railla's crafty philosophy can be summed up us as "making art out of everyday life". She believes crafty pursuits cannot be narrowly defined, and that anyone can embrace a lifestyle of craftiness. Embellishing a skirt. Baking banana bread. Arranging flowers. Constructing a collage. These activities foster creativity and encourage beauty.

Being crafty means living consciously and refusing to be defined by narrow labels and categories. It's about embracing life as complicated and contradictory ... It's painting racing stripes down muscle cars and driving them in homemade skirts and high heal shoes ... It's about making things with your hands. And, most important, it's about living life artistically, regardless of whether or not you are an Artist with a capital A. (p. 6)

Get Crafty
embraces the radical, independent spirit infiltrating the traditional crafting community. Railla explores many faces of craft. Her book is seasoned with wit, insight, and a delightfully fresh perspective. This is not a musty, dated home ec manual.

Two aspects of this book especially captured my interest. Throughout Get Crafty, Railla places special emphasis on the importance of home. She encourages readers to create welcoming, beautiful, romantic and peaceful homes. She believes homes should be a sanctuaries, havens, and should reflect our personal tastes. Railla offers countless (frugal) suggestions for creating warm, inviting homes.

Secondly, Railla encourages her readers to practice thrift. An aspect of craftiness involves seeing potential in old things, breathing new life into discarded objects. Mass production and gross over-consumption often hurt people and the environment. Crafting, creating things by hand, repurposing or reusing objects and materials, allow us to bypass the economy of consumerism. Crafting can make a statement against sweat-shop labour. Crafting can encourage frugality. Crafting encourages imaginative problem-solving and creative self-expression.

I enjoyed reading Get Crafty, and recommend it with the following disclaimer: Jean Railla identifies herself as a feminist. She embraces the philosophy of "new domesticity" that proclaims women can "have it all". The final chapter of her book boldly proclaims "no woman is an island". I do agree with the chapter's assertion that we must connect with other people, that we should belong to a community. However, I feel Railla goes too far with statements such as this: "Once our society was organized around church and patriarchal family units. I don't know about you, but I don't want to go back to that world. I want to move forward with a ragtag army of nutty women (and men) who, even with their limitations, band together and dare to have more." (p. 120)

I believe craftiness and creativity are gifts given by God, the Ultimate Creator. If we fail to acknowledge His hand upon our creative work, we miss the point entirely. Get Crafty is an fun, engaging, inspirational book. It is jam-packed with interesting projects, recipes and ideas. Jean Railla presents her philosophy of craft in a new and dynamic way. I mostly agree with her ideas, especially regarding the importance of home and frugality. I only wish the charm of Get Crafty wasn't marred by feminist ideology.

He Reigns

This morning our pastor preached about the mystery of God. In a nutshell, his message centered on the following questions: Where is God when tragedy strikes? Why is life so unfair? Why does God allow us to endure suffering?

My own life is remarkably idyllic. I've never had to endure great suffering. I've not been directly touched by tragedy. Yet, I see pain in the world all around me. Disease, famine, depression and despair, war, calamity, depravity, hopelessness. My heart aches in the midst of all the suffering. What can I do?

God never promised us that life would be easy. He doesn't completely shelter us from pain or shield us from calamity. However, He has promised to walk beside us. Always. He will never leave us. He loves us with an undying love that will endure forever.

What can I do in the midst of suffering? I can pray. I can fall on my face and call out to God. I know He is faithful to hear my prayers, and though His answers may not always be what I expect, I can trust in His sovereignty. God knows best.

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
(Psalm 116: 1-2)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Only in Calgary...

A few minutes ago I popped out to run a couple errands. As I drove along I noticed two teenaged girls walking down the street, side-by-side.

One girl was clothed in a trendy winter coat with a fur-lined hood.

The other girl was wearing a tank top with spaghetti straps.

I know we've been warned to expect weird weather this long weekend, but the girls' attire seemed a mite extreme. Oh well, you know what they say about Calgary: If you don't like the weather, just wait twenty minutes.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Learn to Crochet

Crafty Daisies will be hosting a great new series of tutorials for crafty girls (and guys) interested in learning to crochet.

Heather will share a lesson each Tuesday for the next 12 weeks. She will teach the basics of crochet, new stitches and techniques. Every lesson will include a pattern for a couple of afghan squares so participants can practice what they've learned.

Here's a list of the proposed lessons:

Lesson 1
Terms and Abbreviations
How to read a pattern
Gauge swatches
Basics: Chain, slip stitch and single crochet

Lesson 2
Half double crochet, double crochet and triple crochet

Lesson 3
Moss stitch, shell stitch, popcorn stitch, diagonal shell stitch, puff stitch

Lesson 4
Increasing and decreasing

Lesson 5
How to create ribbing (2 different methods)

Lesson 6

Lesson 7
Tunisian crochet

Lesson 8
Changing colors in crochet

Lesson 9
Weaving in ends, finishing edges (crab stitch, ruffles)

Lesson 10
Joining / seaming

Lesson 11

Lesson 12
Show and Tell

If you keep up with your homework, by the end of 12 weeks you will crochet your own lafghan. Heather also has some cool prizes available for committed participants!

If you are interested in joining in on the fun, please check out the Crafty Daisies site. The lessons will start this Tuesday.

Happy crafting!
An Explanation

I think my post from yesterday requires further explanation. I wasn't referring to a specific dog, nor was I concerned about my lawn in particular. My words were rather vague and could have been taken any number of ways.

Last night I spent several hours at our monthly condo board meeting. We spent (too long, IMHO) discussing dogs, dog pee, and brown spots on the grass. By the end of the evening I was feeling a wee bit frustrated by it all. I was tired and feeling uninspired to blog.

I quickly dashed off a couple lines, (hoped they were funny), published my post, and stumbled off to bed. I'm sorry if I offended anybody.

I really do like dogs. Really. I do.

Just not their pee.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lesson for the Day

Do not let your dog pee on the lawn. Just don't do it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Need Earplugs

You know your kids are great sleepers when ...

You put them down for naps while a jackhammer digs up the concrete floor in your basement.

And they actually go to sleep.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Peek at My Bookshelf

The stack of books on top of my piano appears to be taking on a life of its own. Every day a new title somehow joins the pile. I honestly don't mind, though. I like nothing more than to have a bunch of interesting books to read. If only I could find a few more quiet hours in the day...

I am slowly plodding my way through my spring reading list. So far I have finished three books on my fiction list, and two non-fiction titles. I am waiting for four of my other choices on the hold list at the library.

However, I have to confess that I have been straying from my spring reading list a bit. Here's a peek at the reading material cluttering the top of my piano (and my desk, and my night stand). Some of the titles are on my list, but many of them are new.

Fifth Seal, by Bodie and Brock Thoene
This book is actually on my spring reading list. My husband gave it to me yesterday for Mother's Day :-).

At Home in Mitford, by Jan Karon
I am halfway through this book and am thoroughly enjoying it. It's another title on my reading list.

A Light in the Window, by Jan Karon
I bought this book on sale. It will be next on my list.

A Kingsbury Collection: Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy came to Stay, On Every Side (Three novels in one by Karen Kingsbury)
My dear husband also gave me this (hefty) tome for Mother's Day. It turns out I've already read Where Yesterday Lives, but I'm anxious to dive into the other two stories. This book may jump my self-imposed queue.

Get Crafty, Hip Home Ec, by Jean Railla
I am also in the middle of reading this book. It is fantastic. I will definitely post a review when I have finished.

All My Life For Sale, by John D. Freyer
I picked up this quirky book from the bargain table at the library. It cost me a whole dollar. I've read about a third, but this is the type of book that is meant to be browsed rather than devoured. Lots of colourful pictures. Very funky, post-modern, fun.

Craft, Issue 3
I love this magazine. I've nearly read it cover-to-cover and am trying to savour the last few pages. My current macrame project was inspired by an article I found here.

Adorn, Spring, Summer, Fall/Winter '06
My three back issues of Adorn arrived in the mail today! I can hardly wait to leaf through them.

As I was in the middle of writing this post, Ben wandered into the room. He found me sprawled on the couch, computer on my lap, surrounded by books and magazines. He laughed and commented that I must be in a "contemplator's paradise".

Yes I am, Honey. Yes I am.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Drool Worthy

I enjoy (the idea of) quilting. In another season of my life, when I have more time, I think I could become addicted.

If you enjoy quilting, you might want to check out The Fat Quarter Shop. I found this link on the Adorn blog today. I could spend hours drooling over the fabrics on this site. The Free Spirit Fat Quarter Club is especially neat.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Baby Girl's Birthday Gift

I must admit, I really enjoy having a little daughter. I love her pretty dresses. I love putting barrettes in her hair. I love buying her cute girly things.

I enjoy handmade, vintage, country craft style. Today I found the sweetest, most perfect gift for my baby girl's first birthday. I bought her an adorable April Cornell rag doll. The doll has black yarn hair, embroidered red velvet pants, a floral t-shirt, and a tiny knit sweater. She carries a little backpack with a cute bunny inside. I think she's wonderful.

Baby Girl was shopping with me when I found the doll. I must say, she was pretty disappointed when I tucked the dolly away in my bag. Baby Girl wanted to play with her right away! I think she will love her birthday gift.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Renovation Update

Today we had a break from the construction. The contractor stayed a bit later yesterday and finished all the framing. I believe the framing inspection is scheduled for Monday, and he can't continue with the work until after the inspection.

Thus far, Ben and I have been very impressed with our contractor. I feel completely comfortable with the workmen in my house. They've been great with the children. Being a neat freak, I especially appreciate the fact our contractor cleans up at the end of each day. He even vacuums my front hallway for me.

Monday is shaping up to be crazy-busy. The inspector is coming to check the framing, the plumber is planning to hammer out a section of the concrete floor and rough in the bathroom, and the electrician will start on the wiring. It will likely be a noisy, tiring day.

Ben and I can hardly believe how quickly our dream is becoming reality. We have wandered down to the basement several times this week and marvelled at how different it all looks. For two years we talked and planned and strategized about how we would finish the basement. We dreamed about expanding our space and building a play room for our kids. Within a few weeks everything will be finished. Our kids will have a great new space for their toys. (And I will reclaim my living room!) All the noise and dust and disruption will be totally worth it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Frozen Juice

My husband taught me this nifty trick. I believe he learned it from some ladies in the church kitchen (where he was recently wrangled into mixing up vast quantities of punch).

I find making juice from frozen concentrate to be a tiresome task. The juice often settles to the bottom of the jug as an icy, impenetrable lump. I dislike poking and mashing at the frozen lump with my spoon. (I've been known to use a potato masher to make the task easier.) Mixing up a jug of juice can be an exhausting business.

At least, it was an exhausting business. No longer! I have conquered my sweet, sticky nemesis.

Here's the secret I'd like to share ... cans of frozen juice concentrate are microwavable.

I'm not sure why this works. I always remove the top of the can (do not neglect this step!) but the metal bottom goes into the microwave. The way I understand it, metal and microwaves don't mix. However, a minute-and-a-half in my microwave thaws the frozen juice quite nicely (without any fireworks). Mixing up punch is a breeze.

It's a simple little solution that works for me.


If you would like to find further solutions for everyday life, check out Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Gettin' Crafty

What's not to love about macrame? Details coming soon ...

Monday, May 07, 2007

Everyday Mother's Day Giveaway

Everyday Mommy is graciously hosting a great Mother's Day contest. If you would like a chance to win a blog design makeover, please visit her site and leave a comment before May 13. Place the contest button on your blog and write a short post. This offer is available to bloggers on Typepad Plus Level or the New Blogger.

Happy Mother's Day and good luck!

The Big Day (Take 2)

(I think my Apple Blossom may require a trip to the computer hospital. She totally froze up as I was in the middle of my post. I had to do a hard shut down and lost all my writing. (Sigh.) Here goes my second attempt...)

This was a momentous day in the Inkster household. The contractor finally started work on our basement today. Hooray!

We are planning to turn our basement into a play area for the children. We will also have a small bathroom, two storage areas, and closet for the washer and dryer. We've hired a contractor to do all the work for us, from start to finish. (My husband is brilliant with computers. Unfortunately, he is slightly less skilled when it comes to wielding power tools.)

At the end of Day One I am feeling pretty good about the renovations. I'm amazed by how much the men accomplished in only one day. They ripped out all the old flooring, knocked down the walls, took out insulation, and trucked everything away to the dump. (Our basement was "half finished" when we moved in to this house.) First thing tomorrow the contractor will begin framing. The plumber is also slated to start roughing in the bathroom tomorrow, and the electrician may begin his work as well.

The kids were exceptionally good. The little ones even napped amidst all the construction noise. I was worried about keeping the boys away from the workmen, but they happily played upstairs or outside all day.

I can hardly believe we are actually getting our basement finished. I'll keep you posted...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Spring Green Salad

Ben often teases me about my blogging habits. On nights when I am too tired to come up with something creative (or even mildly interesting) to write, I often resort to sharing a recipe. (Or rather, I choose to share a recipe.)

I've been slogging away at my music homework for a couple of hours and am about ready to fall into bed. Before I nod off in front of my computer, I'd like to share the recipe for the salad I made for supper.

(I may also have ulterior motives for sharing this recipe. It's printed on the back of an empty bag of croutons --- a bag soon destined for the trash. I want to copy the recipe before I lose it.)

Spring Green Salad

1 head Boston lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 C. frozen small sweet peas, thawed
1 C. sourdough croutons
1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
half small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 C. honey dijon dressing

In a large salad bowl, toss lettuce, peas, croutons, avocado and red onion. Add dressing; toss to coat. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Date Night

Our boys are sleeping over at Grandma and Grandpas' house tonight. It's date night!

Ben and I enjoyed a great meal at a little Korean restaurant and we bought ice cream at the Marble Slab Creamery. Marble Slab ice cream is pure bliss in a waffle cone, I'm sure of it.

Baby Girl is tucked in bed. The house is quiet.

It's date night ...

I think it's time for me to shut down my computer ;-).

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Apple Crisp (Part 2)

My husband has complained that my brilliant post about apple crisp is a bore. (Not to be confused with a boar. Only one of the two has tusks.)

He may find reading about apple crisp to be boring, but he certainly doesn't mind eating it.

Apple Crisp

I made this recipe for the first time last weekend. The apple crisp was easy to make and smelled delicious as it simmered all day. This is a great dessert to bring over to someone's house. The slow cooker is easy to transport and the apple crisp stays warm without monopolizing oven space. Just don't forget the vanilla ice cream!

6 cups apples, peeled and cored
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup quick cook oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter

Place apples in your crock pot. In a bowl mix other ingredients, cutting in the butter. Then sprinkle over apples. Cover and cook for 5 hours on low until tender.

To make butterscotch apple crisp, substitute 1 package of cook and serve butterscotch pudding for the brown sugar.


For more great Slow Cooking Thursday recipes, please visit Diary of a SAHM.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Jumpin' Back on the Bandwagon

I have a secret confession to make.

Before this evening, I had not been to the gym in an embarrassingly long time. (We're talking months.) I feel so lazy.

Tonight I finally mustered the courage to jump back on the exercise bandwagon. (Or elliptical trainer, as the case may be.) I put the kids to bed and wandered over the YMCA.

I don't know why I stayed away so long. I really do love our local Y, and I'm not terribly adverse to exercise. It's silly, really. I've been incredibly tired lately. I use my exhaustion as an excuse to avoid going out to the gym, but exercise gives me an energy boost, thus minimizing my flimsy excuse.

At any rate, I battled apathy and won.

The neat thing is this: Did you know they make elliptical trainers equipped with TVs? How cool is that? (Doesn't take much to amuse my media-starved self.) I sweated my way through an episode of The Daily Planet on the Discovery Channel. The miles (all two of them) just flew by in a blink.

I could get used to that kind of cardio.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Sweet Deal

A few weeks ago I lamented the fact that subscriptions to Adorn magazine are not available in Canada.

Tonight I beat the system! I may not be able to order a subscription, but I can purchase the back issues. (Go figure?) I am soon to be the proud recipient of three wonderful, colourful, totally yummy issues of Adorn magazine. They were only $4.99 each and the shipping fee was very reasonable.

If you are interested in ordering Adorn magazine for yourself, click here. The Adorn blog is also worth checking out.