Tuesday, January 21, 2014

making do

I have declared 2014 the year of "making do" in our house (nobody else got a say).  For the last 2 years I have made resolutions to become more organized in ALL aspects of my life. I have bought agendas and calendars and boxes and bins but each year with the arrival of December  I was still disorganized and not any further ahead.  I WASTED A LOT OF TIME!!!  After reading the Minimalists' Memoir, Everything that Remains (amazing btw), I realized that the kind of organizing I was doing was like a form of hoarding.  I was just putting all my "stuff" in pretty boxes and forgetting about it.  So I say "enough of that" and will move onto to getting rid of what we don't need and start making do with what we DO have.  

The first project on my list was a calendar.  Each year I choose a calendar for the fridge that I think will suit everyone's needs.  Last year I chose one that while big enough to fit everyone's activities and the kids huge handwriting it was UGLY++ and kept falling off the fridge.  
I'm irritated looking at this!!!!

I knew we had paper, a ruler, a clip board and some markers.  We were going to make our 2014 calendar.  

I LOVE this calendar, much more than any other one we have had in that spot.  A+ for our first "make do" of 2014!  

The kids quickly abandoned the project to re-enact West Side Story with their Beanie Boos... and yes, they have way too many!!!  

Friday, January 10, 2014

We came out the other side unscathed!

We made it through Christmas!  As a family we did a great job of buying very well thought out gifts for the people around us.  We tried to focus on giving  experiences rather than things but lets face it, in most cases "things" won out.  We gave and received in moderation... it was perfect!
At the beginning of our challenge I proclaimed that" I WAS GOING TO MAKE ALL GIFTS".  This was actually a ridiculous proclamation ...as most of you smartly thought when I made it!  Firstly, I am just not that organized and secondly, not everyone WANTS a handmade gift from me or something crazily scribbled on construction paper from the kids.   Let's take my kids for instance, while I love making them Christmas gifts, they would prefer a Furby or something else equally annoying.   Who could blame them.... they are 4 and 7!!!!!

Fast forward to where we are today.  As a family, we have  committed to continuing our challenge until May 2014.  With the new year we have made a few modifications.  I will make as many gifts as possible but not drive myself crazy over it!  We will treat ourselves to a few eat out meals a month... we deserve it!  We will continue to focus on quality vs quantity, experiences vs things and needs over wants.  We will only be purchasing and bringing items that we NEED into our home.  We will also be working on eliminating the excess that we have. 
obviously before

On that note, let me introduce you to my new and improved creative space.    With the help of a good friend I was able to work through editing my over-crowded fabric/ craft stash.  I focused on the items I loved and said goodbye to those I hung onto "just because".  I started off the process in a serious cold sweat but the more I looked at what I really felt drawn to the easier it was to let go of  the rest of the "maybe one day" items.  The end result is a clean and stream-lined space where I feel inspired and motivated to create.   The process was hard but the result was well worth it.  I am proud to announce that I am no longer hoarding fabric.... now Sharpies, that's another issue!  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Living in an all-you-can-eat buffet

*i have lots of pics lined up to post but iphoto is not co-operating... sorry!!

I would like a lot of things in my life.  The obvious stuff of course... health, happiness, well adapted and happy children, to pass level 65 on Candy Crush, a donkey named Burrito and something salty.  There is one thing that I crave above most of those though... I would like to have LESS.  Right now I feel like we are living in the middle of an all-you-can-eat buffet.  Oh, you would like to watch a movie....choose from 10 zillion on Netflix.  Read a book? Good luck choosing one from the floor to ceiling bookshelves I have so craftily jammed packed.  A piece of fruit you ask... apple, pear, frozen strawberry or grapes?  Let's make a dress for Ava translates into, let's spend hours going through my excessive stash only to be more  lost than when we started.  While we haven't brought more into the house these last months, we really haven't worked on getting the excess stuff out.

I have a friend Kate, who is doing just that! She is working hard at sorting through junk drawers, closets, shelves and hooks to get rid of the excesses and organize those few items that she has deemed worthy of staying.  The quality items that are well made and well used make the cut.   Why is it that I am holding onto 6 pair of toddler scissors in our craft cabinet.... NOBODY USES THEM!  Kate's mission has been rubbing off on me a bit...sure, I do a little here and there, but I feel like I am only skiing the bunny hills at this point.

Enter The Minimalists, two INSPIRATIONAL men, who write a blog about living a more meaningful life with less "stuff"...right down to experimenting with less in their coffee.  They have written a book about living life more simply,  to be released January 2014, and will be starting 100 stop tour that month as well.  Would you like to go? Guess what..... the tickets are totally FREE!!!!! Isn't that nuts? And they are travelling all over the world.  Just click over to their blog , check it out and reserve yourself one.  I got two because I am bringing Sri along for the ride.  He is suspicious of this new "kick" I'm on. I think he is worried that one day, when he gets home from work, the kids and I will be sitting on the floor in an empty room eating bland popcorn and drinking water out of one cup because I have gotten rid of all the other ones.  Actually, that doesn't sound so bad.

Monday, September 30, 2013

flipping the sign to open

Those around me know that my life has changed DRAMATICALLY in the last 5 months and it must be said that I personally, have reacted rather DRAMATICALLY to these changes.  Without going into too much complaining and detail, I will say these changes involved having a difficult parenting summer and then watching BOTH of my babes march off to school in September.  I have not adjusted well up until this point (hence no blog posts... I was busy being a big baby!) but that all changes today.  So I welcome myself back to the land of blogging and social media, to making and making do, to having some time for myself and figuring out what the hell to do with it.

Challenge Update::
We are still following through with our challenge but have changed it up a bit.  Over the summer we allowed ourselves one "eat-out" meal a week.  We looked at this as an experience for all of us and a break for me from the kitchen that I was growing to resent.  With school starting and our family back to a bit of a routine I think we may switch our visits to restaurants to every other week.  Once a week seems a bit over indulgent.  We have however, held close to our resolve of not bringing unnecessary items into the house.  I am able to count 6 items in the last 5 months that we have bought (school uniforms, lunch bags, water bottles, a toilet brush, silicone baking cups to divide lunch snacks and an apple corer).    This challenge while not over, has made a huge impact on our family.  As a group, I find that we are more grateful for what we have.... we still have a long way to go.  We get involved in experiences  and meet people we otherwise wouldn't have.  We have learned that bartering is such a great way to interact with people, share what you have, learn of others talents and get what you need. WIN WIN!!!!   I often hear the kids mocking me "do we need it or want it?" but guess what....I've got them thinking about it.  That is way more than I can say for the way we thought about consuming/purchasing FIVE months ago.   I am proud of us.  Imagine what is waiting for us in the next 7 months!
I am off to trade 6 farm fresh eggs for a Hamilton Magazine.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

{this moment}

Joining amanda and friends in "this moment". I just loved plucking these juicy tomato hornworms from their cozy spot on the tomato plants at A New Leaf Farm.  Capturing a moment from the week that I want to cherish and hold onto.   
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

i love making gifts!

I would like to start this post off by thanking everyone for their positive feedback to my last debbie downer post.  It really means a lot to me that you took the time to let me know that you support us on our journey. Thank you!
One of the guidelines to our challenge, is that instead of buying, we are going to give handmade gifts to friends and family.  I LOVE THIS!  I just love losing myself in making a gift for someone... especially when it involves using supplies I already have in my craft hoard.
This last month I have made 3 gifts (although I only have pics of 2...of course).

Gift one::
pic from www.thriftyandthriving.com
A mini marshmallow shooter for my nephew Isaiah.  I whipped up a little tote bag to carry all of the pieces in as well.  I have to say that it was super easy to make, cost a total of $8.00, and was a huge hit with the adult uncles.

Gift two::

A surprise room makeover for Ava.  I wish I had taken a before shot.... I have really been slacking on picture taking this month!  We painted her room April Blush, which she was dead set on.  We were able to find the shelving unit from Kijiji for $50 which included the baskets and magazine holders... super score!  I pieced the duvet cover together from my stash of fabic.... I think it looks adorable and it was really easy to whip up.  My grandmother generously donated an amazing light fixture (one i remember looking up at as a child) which makes an amazing bubble-like shadow on the wall.  Lastly, I hung a Sari I had over the window and Ava calls it a canopy.  It is not the Sears catalogue canopy bed of my childhood dreams but hey, the room is not mine!  Ava loves this room and keeps it super clean.  This was a gift well worth the effort and sweat... it was painted during the dreadful heat wave.

Gift three::
A Nancy Drew detective kit that Ava and I worked on for an 8 year old friend of ours.  We had so much fun putting this together.  We freezer paper stencilled the tote bag, collected detective essentials and made up a few fun envelopes and charts.  I know our friend loved receiving this and since the party, Ava is demanding one of her own.  She is running around the house creating and solving mysteries.  Knocking things over and then accusing random people of doing it.  Would you believe that she discovered that Ruby (our dog) was the culprit using up all of our Band-aids?  Thank goodness we have her around! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I can learn a lot from Ava about balance!

You may (or may not) have noticed that I haven't posted in this space for about a month.  Oh, you might say to yourself, "it's summer and she is probably out having fun with the kids at the pool or busy doing something creative with the kids".  NOT SO! Well, not completely so. While yes, I have been at the pool or being creative with my babes, it has been in such small increments that I don't even think it counts.  
I have been busy with the busyness of "making do".  In the last month I have taken our simple family challenge and kicked it up to crazy and unrealistic proportions.  

For the last month I have been trying to::

keep the house clean...while trying to constantly de-clutter,
keep groceries to a minimum.... i.e. be creative and make do with what we have,
throw a birthday party and re-docorate Ava's room within the confines of our challenge,
help out at the farm 2x/week,
be a mindful and present parent,
find free and fun activities for us to do as a family,
blog (it fell right off the list but i thought about it a lot),
cook ALL meals (it started to look like a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches),
keep convenience foods (crackers, chips, granola bars) to a minimum,
be fun and spontaneous,
have dinner parties and friends over to hang out,
try new activities with the family,
keep up with sewing and ongoing projects...new dress and duvet cover for Ava's birthday,
keep calm despite the increased bickering and horrid attitudes of Ava and Anthony,
keep Rao life fresh and exciting,
be a model of gratitude and appreciation for my family 

This weekend my list came crumbling down on me.  
The kind of landslide that left me in a heaping, crying, flailing mess on the couch (leaving Sri dumbfounded!).  Feeling like I was failing at every aspect of my life.  Feeling sorry for myself.  Guilty that I have dragged my kids into this insanity.  Angry at "our challenge" and angry with myself for turning it into this ridiculous and unattainable list of rules.  How did "hey, lets try to live more simply and live off of what we already have instead of buying more" turn into me running around like crazy to try and create a modern Little House on the Prairie life  while trying to juggle everything else.  

I need to sit down with my family and redefine the guidelines of this challenge.  I need to simplify the challenge to simplify within my own mind and not be so black and white about it all.   Any suggestions?  I would be happy to hear your opinion about how to make this process a little more enjoyable.