Show Some Confidence: Stretch Marks and Bikinis

August 31, 2012
Now that I am ever-so-close to being my original pre-pregnancy weight, I decided to bring out the bikini the next time I went swimming. Now that I am happier with my weight, I feel a lot more confident -- my husband tells me that this new-found confidence makes me even sexier than before. I never felt confident in a bikini before, even though I've always been a petite person. There has always been some area of my body that I don't like -- usually my hips and thighs -- and a bikini just does not hide that.

But now, I don't really care about that. I feel good with what I've got. I feel confident, and what I feel confident -- and proud of -- even more are the stretch marks that I gained from my pregnancy. Yes, they can make you feel self-conscious sometimes, but I just feel like showing them off. They are what my son left behind to show what amazing thing I did with my body. I carried a child in me, for God's sake, and there's nothing embarrassing about that!

What made me even more excited was seeing other moms in their bikinis, showing off their stretch marks too :)



Pay It Forward...Handmade

August 29, 2012
I originally saw this post on the blog Hearting Handmade, and I immediately signed up to participate. So, here I am, fulfilling the second part of my participating in Masa's pay it forward -- blogging a similar post.

Here are the rules:

I will send a surprise gift to the first three commenters on this post. The gift will be a handmade surprise by me and I will send it to you sometime in the next 365 days. All you need to do is the following:

1. Leave me a comment, and include your email address so I can get in touch with you about your mailing address and some other information about yourself.

2. To complete signing up, you must play along too by blogging a similar post and pledging to make a surprise for the first 3 people who comment on it.

So, do you want to play along? Comment below, and I’ll send a thoughtful gift to the first three people who do.

Let's pay it forward to one another!


Archery, Horses, and S'Mores: My Memories from Summer Camp

August 27, 2012
I was seven-years-old the first time that I went to Summer Camp. It was also the last time that I would go to camp for several years. Being away from my parents for a week with some strange people did not go well with me -- although, my parents probably enjoyed the time away from me.

I tried again a few years later, but I didn't start having fun until I was old enough for the horse camp that was offered to junior and senior high school students. A couple of years after I started attending horse camp, my best friend from across the street was old enough to join me, and we were inseparable. We took all of the same skills -- like bow hunting skills, and computer hacking skills...I'm just kidding...but not about the archery -- and, more importantly, we rode horses together.

I remember learning how to knee-board, and, somehow, never falling off a tube despite how the driver of the boat would make the waves as huge as he possibly could. I loved when our councilors would wake us up late at night to play some amazing capture-the-flag type game in the dark -- this would only happen with the older groups, and it was the most epic game of epic proportions.

But what I loved most of all was sitting by the campfire and watching the sun set over the lake and listening to the Loons while we sang songs, prayed, and told stories. It was always bitter-sweet when we would talk about our favourite moments from camp during the last fire on the Friday night before our parents would come and pick us up the next day.

The hardest part, as you were hugging your new friends good-bye and getting their mailing addresses, was knowing that you would probably never see this person again, and that you would stop writing letters after a few months -- despite saying that you would never forget. But those memories that we made while eating candy we bought from the tuck shop, or hanging out on the beach while learning how to swim, or making s'mores while sitting by the campfire, those are the memories that I plan on keeping forever.

Do you have any fun memories from Summer Camp?


Art Has Rules?

August 24, 2012
I originally saw this little poster on the blog of an art teacher, and it made me quite sad. I work with preschool children, and I would never expect them to stop using their imagination and use colours that "make sense." It is unfair to their creativity as an artist.  I couldn't possibly begin to express how angry I would be if someone started giving me rules about how they think my art should look.

While I think that it is important for children to learn about the structured side of art, and that they should take their time and not just put a couple of scribbles on a piece of paper, I think that it is unfair to teach children that it is wrong to have white space in their drawings, and to colour outside the lines.

They will figure these concepts on their own, without a poster telling them how to do it. For now, let them simply create without making rules. Rules are what children are going to have to live with for the rest of their lives, and art is the only way to escape.


Music + Memories

August 20, 2012
Music has a profound effect on me.

It wasn't until recently that I started thinking about all of the memories that surround music and certain songs. There are a few songs that I have thought about or heard in the past few months that have really brought out some memories from my past:

When I was younger, my family would go and visit my Mom's cousins that lived on a farm a few hours outside of the city. We would ride horses, and walk to the little grocery store to get Coke in glass bottles and Fizz candies. These visits are among my favourite memories of growing up. Joy Ride by Roxette is a song that makes me remember this time in my life because my cousin would always play it in his truck while we would drive around their fields of wheat looking for adventures.

I was in high school the first time that I heard Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman sing the song Time to Say Goodbye. I fell in love with it immediately. A friend of mine that took dance classes would invite me to her recital every year, but I was always unable to go. I was finally able to make it to one, and they did a beautiful ballet dance for their teacher's father -- he had recently passed away -- and it was to that song. I have never forgotten that dance, and think of it every time that I listen to the song.

I used to listen to Atlantic Ocean Waterfall on my Disc-Man -- yes, a Disc-Man -- while reading the book Throne of Isis. Whenever I listen to that song, I think about all of the parts in the book where they were sailing on their massive ships. I often play this song in my head, and think of the book while I'm doing it.

What song always brings back memories for you?


Funky Polish

August 17, 2012
Every Summer, I enjoy painting my toe nails because I am only able to wear sandals for four or five months out of the year. I change the colour up every week or so, and have recently been having fun with nail polish pens. I want to show you a few of the funky things that I've been trying out to maybe give you a little inspiration for your own nails.

Happy Friday!


Top 3 Favourite Books from the 20th Century

August 15, 2012
Since studying 19th Century literature in university, I find it difficult to find books that I enjoy reading. I don't enjoy reading trends -- such as the trilogies that are currently all the rage -- find that I like the style of writing that came from Jane Austen and the like. It's hard to find writing like that these days, but I want to share with you my three favourite books that are not from the 19th Century.

1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant - I first read this book in high school. A fellow student in an English class did her book report on this book, and gave it a rave review -- so good, in fact, that she had a long list of people that wanted to read it. The Red Tent sucked me in from the beginning. Diamant really knows how to write a story that flows seamlessly through through three different parts.  I honestly couldn't put it down, and it is one of the few books that I have read again and again. The only daughter of Jacob, Dinah, is only mentioned in one chapter of The Bible, but Diamant turns her into one of the most fascinating characters that I have ever read about. 

2. Throne of Isis by Judith Tarr - Remember that book report that I mentioned earlier, well I had to do one too, and I chose this fantastic book by Judith Tarr. I had a fascination with everything Greek, Roman, and Egyptian during my high school years -- still do -- and settled on Throne of Isis for my book report. I was hooked on historical fiction from that point on. I have since read many more novels written by Judith Tarr, and plan on reading this one again soon. The story of Cleopatra and Antony has never been so raw and honest as the way Tarr writes it.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - A classic novel for young readers in high school, right? Wrong! I hated this book the first time I read it. Maybe it was because I didn't understand the importance of it. Maybe it was because I was forced to read it. I honestly couldn't tell you why I didn't enjoy To Kill a Mockingbird the first time I read it, but I gave it another chance in my early 20's and fell absolutely in love with it. A man like Atticus Finch is hard to find, but he makes for such a good read.

What is your favourite book -- from the 20th Century -- to curl up and read?


To the Fair!

August 13, 2012

Last week was a busy one for us. The fair came to town on Tuesday, so we packed Little Boy up in the car along with some snacks and lots of water, and headed out to ride some rides and check out the petting zoo. I took him on his first ride ever: a train ride! I think it was more exciting for me than for him.

We also checked out a local street fair that brings together all different kinds of artists: street performers, actors, artists, musicians, jewellery designers, etc. It's a fantastic experience. I love walking up and down the street checking everything out that my eyes rest upon. We have some absolutely amazing local artists -- and visiting artists! My son and I sat to have a caricature drawn, and I found a beautiful antique key necklace, from the shop Prairie Blossoms, just before we left for the night.

Have you been to any fairs this summer?


Shop Update: An Announcement...Of Sorts

August 08, 2012
It's been a while since I last did a shop update. So I thought I would let you know what I've been up to in the past few months.

I have an exciting shop announcement that I will be making at the beginning of September. It involves...well, you'll just have to wait :)

I also have a special giveaway on my Facebook Page in celebration of selling my 80th item. I have come a long way, and I want to show you my appreciation for all the love and support you have given. I hope you will check it out!

I have added quite a few new cards to the mix in the shop, including cards for weddings and wedding showers, as well as cards for anniversaries, new homes, and for those just because occasions that we all have sometimes.

I've been having a lot of fun designing new cards, and have quite a few new ideas in my notebook that I must get to sketching. I've drawn up a lot of new little arts prints as well that I am quite proud of, including some new limited edition art prints -- only 50 limited edition prints are sold of any one print, making them quite unique.

I so look forward to telling you my exciting announcement in September! Stay tuned :)


In the Mail: Such A Lovely Package

August 06, 2012
When I stumbled upon the Oh, Hello Friend Lovely Package Exchange of 2012, I knew that I had to sign up for it immediately. Spots were limited, and it sounded like a really fun exchange.

I was paired up with the beautiful Elizabeth that writes the blog What I Love About Today. Her blog is such a fantastic concept -- she writes about something she enjoyed about her day to help her realise something good in each day no matter how bad it may be. I think that's something that each of us should be thinking about.

From the initial email from Danni at Oh, Hello Friend, I found out that Elizabeth likes stationary, letterpress, art work, jewelry, and anything for her camera. Elizabeth, in turn, found out that I like jazz, nature inspired jewellery, handmade toys, French vintage, and small art -- this was to be used as a guide for buying our partners gifts.

Well, on Friday, my package arrived, and I was so excited to open it, except I had to wait until the following morning to be able to properly photograph the contents of the box -- natural light is your friend...and all that jazz.

What I found hidden inside two cardboard shipping boxes was a package that was beautifully wrapped using a lovely cream coloured scarf with silver threaded accents. The whole purpose of the exchange was to wrap the package as lovely as possible, and I think Elizabeth did an amazing job.

After unwrapping the scarf -- which I wonder how she did that...I really should have paid more attention during the unwrapping process -- I found two boxes inside that she sealed with some really fun washi tape.

Inside the large box was a beautiful set of four glass jars in a metal basket holder. Right now it is sitting on the bookshelf in my office, but I've got some good ideas on how to use it...stay tuned!

The second, and smaller, box was holding a beautifully hand-crafted ring. I have no idea where Elizabeth found it, but I love it. It is absolutely beautiful, and how did she know that this colour of green is one of my favourites?!

I actually wore it to a wedding that exact same day :)

Have a Happy Monday!


Music Makes Me Move It!

August 03, 2012
The music that I listen to while running is so incredibly important. I need it to help keep me motivated, and running at a good speed. Music does that for me -- it does a lot for me.

Right now, I'm listening to a lot of rock while I run. Rock has such a good, hard beat, and, if you find the right song, it can be a quick beat that helps keep my pace. Besides rock, I have some pop music, and some dance music as well. I also have a couple of songs that I have repeated throughout my play list because they keep me motivated the best.

I need to go through my list again soon because there are a few songs that I skip over when they come on. That's never a good sign, so it's time to delete them, and shift things around.

If you're looking for some new music for your own workout playlist, you should check these ones out:

1. Tick Tick Boom - The Hives
2. Telephone - Lady Gaga ft. Beyonce
3. Girl at the Rock Show - Blink 182
4. I like to Move It - Reel 2 Real
5. I Turn to You - Melanie C

What songs do you have on your workout playlist that you would recommend?


Today, He's 16 Months

August 01, 2012

It's hard to believe that two months have gone by since I last told you what was new with my little guy. Here are some new developments since June

  • He started running near the beginning of July. Not a full-out run -- he will by no means be able to take part in the 2012 Olympics -- but it's a faster gate than a walk. Let's call it a...clip-clop, because that is what his shoes sound like when he does it.
  • He now has for realz shoes with a hard-soled bottom -- which means he has also moved up a shoe size. Makes me proud :)
  • He has started copying words that he hears like "cheeky", "bug", and "stairs", so I know it won't be long until his little babbles turn into real sentences. I will miss his babbling.
  • He is becoming socially aware. He loves waving at people and smiling when we walk past them, and he even laughs when a group of people are laughing. But, if you try to trick him with a random laugh, he will look at you like you're crazy.
  • As you can see in the photo above, he likes to help out around the house: he will clean-up his toys before he gets out of the bath; he helps clean-out the dishwasher by taking out, and handing you, the silverware; he will grab his shoes and jacket when he knows that it's time to go outside.

He is such an independent little boy, and he is becoming more and more precious every day. I'm loving getting to know him.

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