Saturday, 28 April 2012

Changing My Mindset

I am a perfectionist. This is not a good thing. I will often put off starting things because if I can’t do them perfectly I don’t want to do them. For some reason, this doesn’t carry over in my crafts. When I'm being creative, I’m ok to dawdle, take time, mess up, redesign, and figure it out as I go. I’m trying to apply this to my life. I’m working hard to change my mindset and teach myself that sometimes, for some things, it’s ok to be just fine or good enough. Sometimes it’s even better that way.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Organizing My Pantry (Meal Planning Part 2)

One of the realities of grocery shopping once a month (to learn more, check out this post on monthly meal planning) was the fact that my pantry was an overflowing, disorganized disaster. To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed to show you the before pictures but I will. I decided if I was going to shop once a month I needed a good system in my pantry that would work for me. I realize that this pantry may not look pretty but it’s organized and functional, which are what I want.

Above you see before. Things were stuffed everywhere, there was leftover Halloween candy in a bucket (and these photos were taken in March) and I couldn’t find anything without getting frustrated. For someone who loves organization as much as I do, something had to change.

Before beginning, I went to Walmart and bought a bunch of storage tubs. I went with clear so my food would be easily visible. I also got a few cereal containers. As well, I made sure I had clear labels so I could label the containers once they were full.

I waiting until we were about half way through the month. That way, I didn’t have too much food to organize. 

I started by taking everything out and being honest with myself. If I didn’t like it and didn’t plan on making it, I put it in a donation box. I then sorted everything into categories, like breakfast, baking, and beverages. Once it was organized on the counter, I started putting things back in the pantry. I found convenient places for everything, labelled my containers, and called it finished. The only thing I’m not happy with is my tin foil, baggies, etc. I haven’t figured out what to do with these yet. I’m sure I’ll think of something.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll stop writing and give you some photos. Here are some pictures showing how the pantry is currently organized.

Shared on:
Saturday Seven @ Positively Splendid
Take A Look Tuesday @ Sugar Bee Crafts
Wow Me Wednesday @ Ginger Snap Crafts
Delightfully Inspired Thursday @ Delightful Order
Day 31 @ Organizing Made Fun
Organize It! @ Organizing Made Fun

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

With Love From Mama

Disclaimer: I didn’t make this. With that said, I think it’s awesome and want to show it off.

If you’ve been reading a while, you may remember the fabric I got for my birthday. While I’ve been busy making pillows, curtains and other fun home accessories (almost done… expect a recap at the end), I did not want to tackle a table runner. Besides, my mama makes them so well. When I went to Newfoundland I gave mom some of the fabric that hadn’t been used, showed her a few patterns I liked, and asked her to make some sort of runner for my kitchen table.

This is what came in the mail - the runner, not the sad-looking plant which has been given some TLC and repotted since I took this photo. Anyway, back to the runner. I love it! Isn’t my mama the best?

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Spring has finally sprung here and so has my motivation. I’ve been busy taking care of all the things I’ve been putting off which has meant less time on the computer and no posts at all this week. I apologize. I’m still new to this and working on finding balance. I’m actually thinking about pre-writing posts and doing some sort of schedule. If you have any advice on how to organize this, I’d love to hear it.

Anyway, on to my latest addiction – homemade lanyards. There is a bit of background to this project. I have a student teacher in my classroom right now. She’s been with me for 5 weeks and this is her last one. Sad face. When she arrived, the school key she got was on a really ugly lanyard. I went to the dollar store to buy her a fun one and the selection was very limited. She could be FBI (female body inspector), world’s best mom, or have dolphins. None of these seemed like her so I did what any DIYer would do; I made one.

Step one: Cut out a long strip of fabric. I don’t have a fancy cutting matt and ruler so I use a fabric pencil and a meter stick. My width is 2 times the meter stick, which is about an inch and a half.

Step two: Iron the edges in. This is where you have to pay attention to size. My D-rings are half an inch so I need the size of the fabric in the middle to be an inch. It should be 2x the size of your D-ring.

Step three: Fold in half, iron and pin. Double check that the width of your lanyard is the right size for your D-ring.

Step four: Sew one long seam to join the two sides of fabric together.

Step five: Sew a matching seam on the other side of the lanyard. This one doesn’t serve a purpose but makes it look better.

Step six: Attach your D-ring. Put your lanyard around your neck and trim it to the proper length. Join the two sides and the bottom and place the D-ring. Fold the fabric over once and then a second time to hide the messy ends. Sew two seams to secure the folds in place.

Since I made this first one, I’ve gone a little crazy with them. I made one for my student teacher, one for me, and 4 more. I also plan on making some more this afternoon. I’m not sure if I’ll put them on Etsy or use them as presents or what, but I really enjoy making them so I figure ‘why not?’.

Shared on:
Take A Look Tuesday @ Sugar Bee Crafts
The Creative Spark @ Clean & Scentsible
Wow Me Wednesday @ Ginger Snap Craft
Delightfully Inspiring Thursday @ Delightful Order

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Monthly Meal Planning

Do you meal plan? I never did, until several months ago. It has been a learning process and I’m still figuring it out but I thought I’d share how I do it. I’ve already found we spend less on food, eat less takeout, and I never have to worry about figuring out what to make. In case you don’t know, I HATE cooking!! I think anything to make it less painful is great. I’ll include lots of photos because I find this hard to explain.

To start, I draw myself a calendar for the month. Our month starts on the first weekend after the 25th because that's when we get paid. I put the date in each square.

If it’s a day when J and I are not at work I include b, l and d for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I also include when we are scheduled to have the kids and anything special, like if I’m away or have late meetings.

Next, I count workday breakfasts and lunches for each of us. I put a tally of that down at the bottom of my calendar. I only plan those when the kids are over. We pick up enough cereal and bread to do for J and I for breakfasts and enough quick meals, mainly frozen, for lunch. If we end up eating leftovers for lunch, we just leave our extra frozen meals for next month.

Then I start filling in meals. I find it hard to think of things so I often look back at my past meal plans. Even though we’re not scheduled to have the kids every weekend, I try to pick kid friendly meals in case they decide to come over. The ? are because J was on his own and would take care of his own meals (frozen dinners, take out, etc). This list goes tucked away and I have a dry erase sheet on the fridge where I write the meals for the week. J’s job is to take out whatever needs to be thawed for the day.  

Next I have to start planning what to buy. I label a sheet with the different areas of the supermarket and go through my meal plan one day at a time. I write down anything we need for that meal, including condiments. I also include our breakfast and lunch foods.

Once I have the list completed, I head to the pantry. I go through what we have and cross out anything I don’t need to buy. I do the same with the fridge, freezer and deep freeze. I’ll do a post soon about how I organize and store all our food.

Because the mess annoys me, I rewrite the list. I also add any toiletries and cleaning supplies we will need during the next month, as well as any other errands I need to run. This takes about an hour from start to finish, and I usually do it with something mindless on tv in the background.

While there is shopping where we live, it is significantly cheaper to shop about an hour away from home so I take my list and J and I head out. I love shopping and he hates it, so he usually goes to a movie while I run errands and then we do the grocery shopping together.

There you have what works for me. I have to be honest that I do change my plans occasionally. I just move things around depending on my mood. Other than fresh fruit, veggies and milk, I don’t shop in between our monthly trips. Like I said before, I haven’t been doing this long but it’s saving us time, money and stress.

Shared on:
Saturday Seven @ Positively Splendid
The Saturday Spark @ Clean & Scentsible
Delightfully Inspiring Thursday Party @ Delightful Order
Organizing Made Fun

Friday, 13 April 2012

Vacation Highlights

As I said in my last post, I’ve spent 8 days in Ontario and Quebec with a group of 28 students, 10 parents and 3 other teachers. It has been a fantastic and exhausting vacation, full of excitement and discovery for the students. I apologize in advance for the giant gaps in my photos, but most of them contain students and posting them would be a violation of FOIP and a little creepy.

Our first stop was Ottawa, which is Canada’s capital. We spent three days there and went quite a few places. My favorites have always been and continue to be Byward Market, an Ottawa Senators game, and Parliament.

Next we took the train (first class, woohoo) to Montreal. We spent two days there which, while it’s my favorite place we visit, is long enough with a group of teenagers. The highlights of Montreal for me were shopping on Ste. Catherine Street and the Biodome.

Finally we journeyed on to our last stop, Quebec City. We spent three days there, one of which was actually spent outside the city. I think this was the favorite stop of the students. I really enjoyed spending time in Old Quebec and going for a horse-drawn carriage ride with the other chaperones. I also loved going to Montmorency Falls, which is high than Niagara Falls, and eating maple on snow at a Sugar Shack.

In order to fly home, we drove back to Montreal. While there we toured the Bell Center which, being a Habs fan, is always a highlight for me.

We do this trip every two years, so it’s a long time coming. I’m always burnt out and ready to be done right before the trip. Then I go and have an amazing time and remember why I do it. I get about a month off and then I’ll start planning for Easter 2014.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Camera Case

Two posts in two days, look at me go. Those of you who read regularly know I don’t typically post this often but this is not a typical week. In approximately 36 hours I’ll be on my way to the airport with a bus full of junior high kids and their parents – to be specific 28 kids and 10 parents, along with 3 other staff members. Every second year we head to Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec and as the French teacher I’m one of the people in charge of planning. This’ll be my third time doing this trip and I really enjoy it.

This trip is a major reason I couldn’t ignore my camera falling apart. Along with the camera strap I shared yesterday, I also made a padded camera bag. I was going to buy one but I couldn’t find one I liked that was the proper size so I went on the hunt for instructions. I found a pattern for a padded camera pouch at Keyka Lou. This was my first time using a pattern so I was hesitant to buy it but I was surprised how easy it was to follow. I did make a couple modifications - I didn't use batting and I used old fabric instead of muslin.

To be honest, the first one I made isn’t great. It’s functional but, being a perfectionist, I wasn’t satisfied. These pictures are from the second one. It’s the extra-large pattern and is just right for my camera with its fancy strap, the battery charger, and the cord that connects it to the computer. I do plan on changing out the ribbon but I don’t have anything that matches and don’t want to go to the store before my vacation.

That’s it for me for a while. I’m off to see the sights and enjoy spending time with some amazing students, parents and colleagues. I promise I’ll take lots of pictures and share some with you when I return. Happy Easter!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Camera Strap Cover

Guess what I got? A NEW CAMERA!!! Sorry to shout at you but I’m really excited. You see, my old camera died a slow and painful death. It served me well for many years and many, many pictures but the insides started falling out. I’ve always been a Nikon girl and have never ventured out of point and shoot but decided to be brave. My new camera is a Canon Poweshot G12. It’s still a point and shoot but has a lot of different settings and things I can play with. So far, I’m loving it!

However, my new camera needed to be prettied up. Last night I made a strap cover. I have to be honest - my instructions won’t be great. It was quite a mess and I figured it out as I went but I’m pleased with the end result. It’s bright and colourful and girly – very not me – but it makes me smile.

First I cut a strip of fabric the length of my strap and a little over double the width. This was where I made my first mistake. I cut the length to the ends of the leather part of the strap (because that’s what it looked like in all the pictures on etsy). I should have cut it to where the strap joins the camera. You’ll see why later.

I ironed the piece of fabric in half and about where I wanted the seams to be. I did this just to have a guide when sewing on my flowers.

Next I made some flowers to decorate my strap. I cut out three different size circles and sewed around the outside, turning the edges under as I went. Once I’d gone all the way around I pulled the thread tight and sewed a few stitches through the center to hold it all in place. I then sewed the three of them on my strap.

After the flowers were secured, I turned in the short ends and hemmed them so I would have a nice finished edge.

Then I folded the fabric in half with the right sides together and pinned it in place. It was a challenge to pin around the flowers but I squished them together and made it work.

I sewed the long seam that I had pinned.

Next, I turned it right side out with the help of a knitting needle and ironed it flat. Done… or so I thought. When I put it on my strap and put it around my neck, it was way too short. The flowers were by my neck, there was lots of black strap showing, and it looked ridiculous.

I didn’t want to start over so I followed my steps and made another tube. I then hand stitched the new strap to the old strap, being careful not to sew the two sides together because I needed to be able to slide my strap through. This left me with a big ugly join.

To hide the join, I made another flower and sewed it in place. From the front you can’t tell it was a fix and the back is against my neck so that’s not a concern.

I slid the original camera strap in place and attached it to my camera. I was almost loving it but something felt off. The ends of the strap cover looked too loose. I sewed around the bottom of each side and pulled it tight, in order to make it look more finished.

It was a long, frustrating and painful process but the end result looks good and definitely fancies up my fun new camera. Now to get out a take lots of pictures…

Shared on:

Wow Me Wednesday @ Ginger Snap Crafts
The Creative Spark @ Clean & Scentsible
Finished It Friday @ The Spunky Diva