Sunday, 30 March 2014

Appreciation and Gratitude

Last Thursday was the first day of spring. I love spring with longer days and warmer weather but this year 'normal spring' is very, very late. I was disappointed at the start of this week when the weather continued cold. The snow and ice refused to melt. I decided to make the best of the situation and spend my evenings inside working on my goal to reduce clutter.

I cleaned out kitchen drawers, my closet, the linen closet upstairs, the spare room closet in the basement, the spare room and spare room closet upstairs, the linen closet in the bathroom and the large walk-in storage closet in the basement. After 13+ years of accumulating stuff in our current house, there are a lot of spaces that need attention. I am quite pleased with my progress so far. 

I have been reading blogs on simple living, minimalism and general clutter control. There are quite a few and I find them inspiring. So far I am thoroughly enjoying the process. Well OK, some of the process is a bit stressful and it is a lot of work, but I'm absolutely loving the results. I've been making regular trips to Good Will on my way to work and have plans to post a few items on Kijiji. It's turning out to be so much fun.

I also cleared my crochet clutter out of the family room and moved to a corner of our bedroom. Now that we have a new and improved internet provider TekSavvy and the router is more central, I can work here with perfect reception. This is a great spot to work and Sadie loves it too.
Yesterday, I spent the morning enjoying crochet with cappuccino in my new crochet corner. I have been working on a bear in between clutter-clearing sessions this week. This morning I was able to finish the bear. I followed a pattern called Big Honey Bear posted by Yellow, Pink and Sparkly. The only changes I made involved working in the round instead of joining each row and I made the legs 31 rows instead of 37. Actually I did 37 rows to start and realized they looked too long as they were much longer than the arms. I think it must be a typo in the pattern.

Since I can't knit a sweater, I decided instead to crochet a dress for my bear. I am using the dress pattern for Monica Mouse also posted by Yellow, Pink and Sparkly but increasing the size to fit this larger bear. I am happy to be exercising my creative side in this way and will be sure to show you a photo of the dress when it is done. For now I will just share a photo of Sweetie Bear. She is made with Bernat Softee Baby yarn using hook size 3.25 mm. The colour I used is called "Little Mouse" which is light tan. Although it looks grey in this photo, it really is light tan. I used a light weight wool blend in medium brown for the bottom of her feet and black worsted weight yarn for her nose, mouth and eyes. Isn't she sweet?
Just as I was finishing Sweetie Bear, our neighbour stopped by to return cross country skis borrowed for the winter. She also brought a beautiful bunch of purple tulips to thank me for the loan. It was totally unexpected and not necessary but I must confess I love the flowers. I put them in a lime green vase in our bathroom below "The Toucan" painted a few years ago by our son. I think the flowers are beautiful and add a much appreciated hint of spring to our house.
After arranging the flowers, I decided it was time to head outside for my first bike ride in London this year. I rode in Boulder, CO over March Break in shorts and a jersey but it has been much too cold and slippery for me to even attempt riding here. Today it was +2 C (feeling like -5 C with a 25 km/hr north wind) but it was sunny and the roads looked relatively clear. I rode a 35 km loop west of the city and thoroughly enjoyed it. By the time I got home my back and neck were tight but I was happy. I had booked a massage for 3 p.m. which took care of all my aches and pains. I just love sun, fresh air and exercise.
Our neighbour returned from a hike with her dog at the same time I got back from my ride. She said Ziggy had brought home a 'surprise'. He jumped out of the back of their vehicle with this in his mouth. He was very proud of his treat from Komoka Conservation Area. Our neighbour said she was waffling between being grossed out and fascinated. Our son was definitely fascinated and took a couple photos.
Would it be macabre to make a 'foot in mouth' comment? I included both photos because the first one shows Ziggy clearly pleased with his 'treat' and the second shows our smiling son. I'm really pleased with the way his teeth look. After about 3.5 years, he finally got his braces off this week. Our son is so happy with his nice straight teeth that he is constantly smiling. I love it.

I want to share a few more photos of my spring decorating and take your mind off the gruesome images above. I removed the colourful crochet stars from the wreath in our dining room and added a bunny plus a couple little pom-poms. I think it needs more colour in crochet so I will work on that once I finish the dress for Sweetie Bear.
I replaced the pine cones and crochet white pumpkins with balls of yarn, pink fluffy bunny, crochet chicks in shells and crochet eggs. This bowl sits on our dining room table.
This little table sits in our front hall. The bunny was made by our daughter when she was in high school and I just love the way it turned out. The doily was a $1 purchase at a charity shop downtown and I made the crochet eggs.
I removed the colourful crochet snowflake garland from our fireplace and added a colourful crochet shamrock garland for spring. I followed this pattern for the shamrock garland and used Bernat Handicrafter Cotton yarn in four different bright colours (white, hot pink, lime green, aqua blue) to make the shamrocks. The joining string combined all these colours in a rainbow effect. I think it adds a nice bit of fun to our fireplace.
The weather is finally improving and I can feel spring in the air. I think I'll pack my biking bag and anticipate riding to work tomorrow. Now that my son has his driver's license I no longer feel obligated to drive him to school. In fact, he would be all too happy for me to ride so he can take the car. Lucky for him, I much prefer biking as long as the roads are clear and the weather is decent

Appreciation and gratitude sum up my feelings for the week and especially for this weekend. 

Saturday, 22 March 2014

meo my Shutterfly

This week I have been busy putting together a Shutterfly book for our new granddaughter. I love writing and assembling these books on-line then getting a proper hard cover book as a keepsake. I especially like writing personalized stories with our family in mind. It makes me so happy to record childhood memories in this way for our grandchildren.

The other cool thing about these stories is that I do not think of them in advance. This is the fourth book I've written since my grandson was born just over 3 years ago. Each book idea just "popped" into my head and was written and completed within a week. I love that they practically write themselves and produce such fun little treasures. 

I already talked about the making of Boyington Bear and Buddies - Book 3 in this post. It showcased a selection of Amigurumi I had made for our grandson. I wrote it as a children's storybook and really had fun with the whole process.

The first two books were called Mavid Logan Boyington (book 1) and Mavid Is (book 2). Book 1 was a labour of love for our new grandson. I wrote a long, rhyming story starting with the news of our daughter's pregnancy through the birth and first few weeks with her new baby. It told the story of how Mavid came to be. I loved writing this story going into great detail ensuring everything rhymed. I also enjoyed going through all our photos picking out just the right ones to illustrate the story. 

The first story also had a LOT of text since I wanted to include ALL the details surrounding the arrival of our daughter's first child and our much anticipated first grandchild. When I decided to create a book, I researched a few different websites and ended up choosing Shutterfly. It was a perfect choice providing a variety of options with plenty of flexibility for adding text. Just to compare, a standard photo book with Shutterfly is 20 pages but this book was 57 pages with many of the pages being just text. The text no longer displays on the shared link which is not a problem as very few people have the patience to read the whole thing anyway. Even so I am happy to have done it and wouldn't change a thing. 

I decided the rest of the books should be more photo focused.  I have kept the text relatively short but continue to incorporate rhyming. I love playing with words and rhyming is just so much fun.  I think the books are visually appealing and a great way to celebrate our growing family. 

This fourth book is called Evie Sweet Evie and is all about our new granddaughter and our love for her. The title describes her temperament perfectly. Although we live ~2,200 km away, I am completely happy to have two wonderful grandchildren. I'm sure my daughter and I can continue to combine our talents; her photography (see Sweet Maple Photography) and my writing to produce a whole series of personalized books for her childrenI can hardly wait to see what other books we create. 

Until then I think I will get back to another one of my favourite creative outlets ... crochet. I am ready to start another bear and will be sure to take a photo to share when it is done.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Sweet Evie Sweater

I started a sweater for our granddaughter the week before we left for Boulder and brought it along to finish. I used a free pattern called The Eloise Baby Sweater by blogger Moogly. I usually do not like to crochet any kind of clothing as I think knitting works much better but this pattern caught my eye and looked like something I could manage. 

My daughter liked the look of it without sleeves so I decided to leave it sleeveless.  I used Bernat Satin yarn for the two accent colours; light sage and goldenrod. The base colour is Bernat Softee Baby in flannel (light grey).  Since I selected a lighter weight yarn than the pattern suggested, I used a 4 mm hook and followed the instructions for 12 months sizing. It fits our little granddaughter perfectly and she is about 9 1/2 lbs.

After seeing this photo, I decided to call it our Sweet Evie Sweater, doesn't it look cute on her? Our granddaughter is 3 weeks old today and absolutely adorable in my humble opinion. I'm thoroughly enjoying our daily cuddles while we visit this week.

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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Baby Stuff & More

Only one more week until we're in Boulder. I can hardly wait to meet my granddaughter and see my little grandson again.  My daughter sent some lovely photos but it's the hugs and cuddles I'm so looking forward to while we're there. 
Granddaughter and Grandson - Can't wait to cuddle.
Today I finished a nice assortment of baby headbands. There are 13 in total varying in size from 14" to 16".  The on-line sizing chart suggested 12" for newborn, 13" for 3-6 months and 14" for 6-12 months.  Luckily I checked with my daughter before cutting the elastic as this baby started out with a 14" head. I also made a simple banner to be used as a photo prop. I toyed with the idea of adding crochet flowers but decided simple was better. 

Crochet headbands (4 total)

Assorted elastic headbands (8) and simple banner (sage and grey)

Elastic headband with layered crochet flower
We went shopping recently and bought a few girly baby clothes. We've also been collecting a nice pile of gifts to take. I have a pink snowsuit from a friend at work, something from GG and other GG and a gift from our neighbour. I brought the large suitcase upstairs today and it's already half filled. There is still plenty of room for my clothes so no worries.
Dress with 2 pair of tights
Dresses - so cute
Onesies - 2 different sizes
Sports shirt for our grandson
Snowsuit from friend - never worn
Gifts from GG and Other GG for both kiddies
Gift from our neighbour - Wonder what it is?
This week I also decided to reduce clutter in the house. I read a few 'simple living' blogs to get motivated and started with clothes. I had collected a couple bags of clothes over the winter and with one more sweep of my closet and my son's closet ended up with three big garbage bags full of items for Goodwill. It felt great to get them out of the house. 

I then decided to go through my book cabinet and get rid of books I do not plan to read again. I had four boxes full of books, one box full of paper for recycling plus another box of old text books. Today we took the books to two different used bookstores. The Book Addict and Basically Books went through the boxes, selected what they wanted and paid in cash. At the end of the day, I was down 2 1/2 boxes of books and up $66 cash. In case you're wondering, they give 10% of the cover price listed on the books.
Book Purging Party
There are many, many more books in our library. I plan to go through them and visit a couple other book shops in town before donating the rest at either Goodwill or Value Village. The text books are good for recycling only. We were told to remove the covers and put 'guts' out with our weekly paper collection. My husband is now on board with getting rid of book clutter, although I did have to pry him away from looking at Basically Books. He almost bought a used book on car repair until I reminded him we were there to purge not acquire.

The last thing we cleared out today was an old TV from our son's room. It had been unplugged and piled in our spare room for months. Staples recycles electronics so that's where we dropped it off today. I think there are more electronics in the house that should be gotten rid of but I'll leave those for another day. I am very happy with the progress I've made this week. In fact it feels so wonderful that I'm totally motivated to keep at it. 
Old TV - finally gone
Now I just have to come up with my next crochet project. There are so many options, it's tough to pick just one.