31 Dec 2012

Line A Day Journal

I am not a journaler.  I have tried before and failed big time.  Even Fin's baby book was a struggle for me (to tell you the truth, I still have to add her pictures for month 7-12).  I want to record memories as Fin grows up, but it has to be easy and quick or I know I won't stick with it.  I had heard of the One Line A Day journal and thought it was a brilliant idea.  I actually even had one in my Amazon cart at one point, but then changed my mind.  It was quite small, and felt too grown up to record the antics of a toddler.  So, I made my own.

I picked up a plain jane journal at Barnes and Noble, and then added some stickers to it that I picked up at Michael's.  

I used a hot pink Sharpie to add in the dates.

The journal I picked didn't have enough pages for each page to be its own date, so I just split each page in half.  There are 10 lines for each date.  My plan is to use only 2 lines each day so that I can record journal entries for 5 years.  I think it will be really interesting to look back each year and see what we did the year before on the same day.  I also hope it will be a place to record the funny things that Finley says and the cute quirks that make us laugh out loud.

There are some blank pages at the end of the journal that we can use to keep little mementos such as plane boarding passes, tickets, coins, etc.  

The journal has its own little basket to sit on Fin's dresser that I stocked with double sided tape, scissors and a multitude of pens.  Everything is there and ready to go so there are no excuses.  

Wish me luck in my line a day adventure!  

Do any of you journal for your kids?  What do you like to record?

29 Dec 2012

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

That's Happy New Year (in Hawaiian) to all of you!  Did you have a nice Christmas? Did you get lots of relaxing in? We sure did. 
A few weeks back I declared a blogging break and decided to semi-unplug and spend lots of time with the fam. That was all true...but there was more to it.  We spent the holidays in Hawaii.

Thanks for hanging in there with me while there were crickets chirping around here.  The last year has felt a little crazy and rushed, and I was so happy to be able to get away and really just do nothing  (well, aside from chase a very busy 17 month old around).

The funny thing was, that after 2 weeks of not writing a single blog post, I realized that I really missed it.  I wanted to write. I missed connecting with you! So, I am entering 2013 fresh and renewed and ready to go.  We have so much to do in our house in the next couple months and I finally feel ready to start tackling it (it's amazing how being able to sleep in for a few days in a row can do that to a person!).

This was our third Christmas that we have spent in Hawaii.  We've been lucky enough to go there every other year for the past 6 years. We love getting away for the holidays.  Aside from actually being on vacation, it really does make the whole season more relaxed. I hardly decorated the house this year (as evidenced by our lack of tree) and aside from making the little reindeer noses, I only bought 3 Christmas presents total.  Our deal when we go away is that we don't buy any gifts for each other.  Nothing. Not even stockings. It's fantastic! We did make Fin a play kitchen, but gave it to her 3 weeks before Christmas, so it didn't even feel like a Christmas present (full posts on that to come soon...).  

I'm still recovering from a bit of sleep deprivation due to an overnight flight home (ugh, never a fun experience) and we are still working on getting Fin back on schedule.  We also all have the shivers and shakes since I think we pretty much went from +30 C to -30 C overnight (that's about 85 F to -20 F for those who deal in Farenheit).  I know, it's a real first world problem....but it is cold, cold, cold here!  Good news is that it's supposed to warm up soon.

Our living room currently looks like this, and I haven't gathered the strength yet to tackle it (sitting at the computer seemed easier...).  And see that giant white box? Ya, that's a new car seat.  Our car seat was wrecked during gate check (I have no idea how that can even happen).  Ours is still usable, but it's unknown what may have happened to the frame.  The airline gave us a new one, but the problem is that it's not even comparable to our current car seat, so I am still fighting with them to replace it with our current model.  The airline and I have another phone date early next week to try and figure things out - they just don't know it yet. (Any baggage folks out there who know the system?????)

Once I sort through my thousand photos (really, 1000....) from our adventure I'll be back to over share.  In the mean time do you have any good Chrismtas stories for me?  What did I miss? Any good embarassing Christmas tales?  Did you score any great Boxing Day deals? (Old Navy online and I had a big date the day after Christmas.....I shopped for winter coats while sitting on the beach!).  Anyone else travel for the holidays?  Going to a swanky party for New Years Eve?

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!
*please don't ask me to actually say it...becuase I have NO idea how!

17 Dec 2012

Happy Holidays!

I wrote this post last week and scheduled it to automatically publish.  Since then, the horrible events of Friday have happened, and it makes this whole post seem so trivial.  I debated re-writing the whole thing, but after thinking about it for a while, I've decided to leave it as.  The events in Newtown only reinforces my comments below that we all need to take the time to enjoy the moment.  Make happy memories.  Unplug and spend time with the ones you love.

It's Monday...woo hoo....come on...get excited!!! Ride the wave! Ok, ok, I'll let you just have your Monday.

I just wanted to stop in and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Yes, it's a little early, but I'm going to take a little blogging break for the next couple of weeks and have lots of screen-free family time.

It's a super busy season and I want to make sure that I focus on my 2 favourite people (and fur kid) and make lots of great memories this holiday season.  I am also going to try really hard to not check my email, Facebook, twitter, etc daily.  I'm semi-unplugging, which is going to be one huge challenge for me! So, if you leave me a message/comment please be patient with me as I may not respond right away. 

We have some great adventures planned over the next couple weeks that I can't wait to share with you in the new year.  Fin's play kitchen is also done, and I promise to take about a million pictures of her playing with it and give you the whole nitty gritty.

If you are still needing some Christmas inspiration check out the Canadian Bloggers Christmas pin board.  A great group of Canadian bloggers (including me!) have collaborated on a pin board showing our Christmas projects and some of our favourite images from the web.  We'd love it if you follow along....

Wishing every one of you a happy and safe holiday!  Chat with ya the first week in January.

14 Dec 2012

Pick Up Your House and Take it With You!

Sometimes I find that I can get caught up in DIYing things.  I see stuff in thrift stores and think about how I can make it better, how I can renew it somehow, or what parts of it I can actually use.  It's a sort of an addiction....I get excited about seeing the potential.  But....other times, it's ok to just leave things alone and revel in the deal.

Thrift stores are totally hit and miss with me.  Often I get so frustrated that they are pricing an ugly brass figurine at $10 (when it would be less than $1 at a garage sale), but then every once and a while I score a really great deal.  Last week was one of those really good deal days.  I actually went in to look for some hard cover books and walked out with this.

The house, not the chair.  This little fabric house was just sitting there asking me to take it home and give it a nice new home in the arms of a little girl.  It is totally handmade by someone who clearly has way more patience then I do.  It is vintage at its finest.

When I opened it up in the store I actually laughed out loud! The fabric is hilarious.  The furniture is made of polyester that reminds me of pants from the 70s that were sure to have elastic waist bands.  

The little chair sitting beside the window with its lace topper makes me smile.  It's retro floral overload at its best.  But seriously, what saint of a woman had patience to make that little chair (at least I assume it was a woman....maybe a man just cut up his wife's floral 70s polyester pants and went to town).

It even came with a little doll.... muumuu and all.

It is one of the ugliest dolls that I have ever seen.  It has strange little points for ears and the tips of all her fingers are cut off.  Very, very odd, but Fin doesn't care.  I was tempted to evict her from her little house, but she fit so well into the furniture that I just couldn't.  When you find a couch that fits like a glove you just have to stay put.

After I brought it home and washed it as best I could (and thoroughly checked for bed bugs, because things like that freak me out!), I put it up on the counter and waited for Fin to notice.  Well, it took about 2.6 seconds for her to spy it and run full tilt towards it. Since then it's been her new bestie. 

She plays and plays with it.  Mostly she puts the 'baby' to bed, covers her up with a blanket and then I have to make snoring noises.  Sometimes I can convince her to put the baby on the couch, but not often.  Funny how the kid who never wants to sleep just LOVES making everyone and everything else sleep!

The other day it had to eat breakfast with her.  We settled on it sitting beside her while she watched her Mickey Mouse and I cooked her oatmeal.

But my absolute favorite thing about this house, and what totally makes my heart melt, is how she just picks it up and carries it with her.  And unlike all of her other toys that she simply drags behind her, this one she picks up and carries like a purse.  

It cracks me up daily.  She'll wander around the whole house carrying that sucker like a purse.  I guess she must see me carry my gigantic purse around enough that she figured she needed a really big one too.

All it took was a little fabric house to remind me that sometimes things are good as they are - they don't need embellishing or jazzing.  Just take what you find and give it a good home, and then love the heck out of it.  If it only cost $3.49 like this house did, then all the better!

11 Dec 2012

{Reindeer Noses} DIY Christmas Favour

Really, it doesn't get much easier than this!  If you still need to whip up some little Christmas favours before Christmas I've got you covered.

This year I felt like I had a few groups of people who I wanted to give a little something to, but I also didn't want to break the bank.  I like to give something each year to the ladies at Diefenbaker's doggie daycare, the lovely women at the daycare at our gym, and our co-workers.  It's tough to find something that doesn't take a week to make, and costs less than $1 each.  This year though, I think I totally found it - and it's super cute to boot!

I spied the original idea for reindeer noses on Bloom Designs Online.  She had used plastic tubes and coloured gum balls.  I thought they were really cute, but I knew right away that I wasn't up for the task of sourcing the plastic tubes (it is 2 weeks before Christmas after all!).  So I took the idea and Kelly-fied it. 

My original idea was to use M&Ms, but after searching high and low for M&Ms sold by colour I finally gave up.  (I was tempted to declare a trip to Vegas just so I could go to the M&M store, but that seemed a little extravagant.)  Our local grocery store sells Jelly Belly candy by the colour, and luckily they had brown and red.  Root beer and Cherry, in case you are a Jelly Belly connoisseur.

I picked up a package of little white candy bags from Michaels, which ended up being just over $3 for 25, using my 40% off coupon.  I had some kraft paper labels left over from Diefenbaker's birthday (they are Martha Stewart for Avery, which I bought at Staples) and figured I could flip them vertical and they'd fit perfect on the little bags.   I downloaded the label template into Word and then added the reindeer graphic (from here) to the top of the label and the vintage santa graphic (from The Graphics Fairy) on the bottom, flipped since the label folds over the bottom.   It was really simple - it took me less than half an hour to find the graphics, print it all and stick the labels on the bags.

Once I had all the bags labelled, I then filled each one with 8 brown Jelly Bellys and 1 red Jelly Belly.

Then I just folded the bag over and closed it with a little piece of green washi tape.  Done! Less than an hour total and under $10 for all 25 (I did have the labels and washi tape already, so it might cost you a bit more if you don't have those things).

If you are thinking of crafting some reindeer noses of your own and would like the ready to print Word document for the labels just send me an email or comment below and I'd be happy to send it your way. aswellplacetodwell [at] gmail [dot] com  If you leave me your email address below please type it out so that the spammers don't get a hold of it.

Ok, so who can name all of the reindeer without Googling?  Not me! I'll admit, I had to actually Google how many reindeer there were....I couldn't remember if it were 8 with Rudolph or 8 plus Rudolph.  Clearly I need to brush up on my Christmas facts before Fin starts asking me all sorts of questions! Just for the record though, I can sing a mean rendition of Jingle Bells (but only in the car and only to my kid).

Linking to: House of Hepworths

9 Dec 2012

Christmas 2012, Part Deux

A few days ago I showed you my nativity scene collection, and now it's time to show you the rest of the Christmas garb.  If you are expecting lovely garlands and twinkling lights adorned with fake fluffy snow, you are going to be sorely disappointed   Remember how I said this is a minimalist Christmas for us?  Well, I really did stick to my guns.  There are a select few things around the house, but I definitely did not go crazy.

My only new purchase this year (aside from the deer that I bought in the summer) was this blingy wreath.

I bought it at a local garden centre, which just happens to be the largest Christmas store in Alberta.  It's huge...actually it's quite overwhelming.  It's all organized by colour, so each aisle has a different colour with coordinating ornaments, ribbon, garland, etc.  It makes me wish that I had the money to just walk down an aisle and decide this year our house is going to be purple, or teal, or silver...any colour you want really.  But, alas....I do not have the money, and if I did I might actually miss having some of my sentimental stuff around. Anyhow, I had a gift card for the garden centre that I have received for my birthday and I somehow managed to hang onto it from June to December so that I could splurge on one Christmas item (believe me, gift cards lingering in my wallet doesn't happen very often).

I have very little happening on the outside of the house this year ((i.e. one pathetic 10 year old wreath), so I figured the new wreath deserved a place of prominence inside.

In keeping with my minimalist goal, we opted out of a tree this year and instead I decorated our newly gilded twigs.

I actually had all of the little ornaments from a table top tree that I had one year.  I just added some little silver balls and called it a day.

I kind of like it so much that I am tempted to make this our 'tree' for years to come.

You may have caught a glimpse of my candles in this post last week.  And only now am I realizing that this is actually another collection.  I declared last week that I only have 2 collections, but apparently I lied (totally unintentionally of course!). Oops...

I haven't added to this collection for so long that I sort of forgot about it.  I received candles as gifts when I was a kid and I just kept them all (hoarding tendencies) until they turned into quite the group of oddball candles.  Some of them are so old that they are actually starting to disintegrate   I think the snowman was a hand me down from someone else, because there is no way that I can be old enough for candles to start crumbling!

And yes, there's a totally random frog candle in the middle of the Christmas candles.  He's been there for years, so I figure it's ok that he stays.  Wouldn't want to separate him from his friends.

In our kitchen I have what may be a couple of my favourite Christmas decorations.  My giant Mr. and Mrs. Clause troll dolls.  Is that strange? That I love my trolls?  Troll dolls were THE thing when I was growing up and my Grandparents gave me this lovely/creepy couple one year and they just brings back memories.

Apparently Fin is not too fond of trolls though and I actually had to stuff them inside of the cabinet or she wouldn't eat anything.  Maybe the eyes freak her out?  Hopefully next year she will be more down with the trolls.  How is she ever going to play bingo if trolls freak her out?

Half way up the stairs I have my stained glass. Ya, I know what you are thinking..."Kelly, this is another collection you have lied about".  No, it's not.  These stained glass were my Grandmother's, so I do not consider it my collection at all - it's hers.  I haven't added to it since I received them 3 years ago. So I can say it's not mine, right?

So pretty....just ignore how close the house next door is!

Of course my fav is the nativity scene one. 

And lastly, in the upstairs hallway I have my new blinged out books and elf-ized vintage dutch couple. I still can't get enough of them!  Their little hats make me laugh every time I walk up the stairs (which is about a million and a half times a day).  Ya, I know I am a total dork that shimmery hats make me giddy.  It's ok...I'm cool with it.   

I borrowed that little white and yellow vase from the guest bedroom, and then just hung some sparkly gold pinecones on the twigs.  I picked up the pinecones last year on clearance after Christmas from The Home Depot and totally forgot I had bought them. I LOVE that...finding stuff I forgot I bought.  It's like finding money in your winter coat the first time you put it on in the fall.  Makes for a good day!

I also shoved a few of the pinecones into the little bird cage candle holder that sits on the table. 

The box of pinecones was huge, so I have quite a few left.  I contemplated putting them in a dish on display, but Fin wanted to play with them.  So I let her, which led to us playing with the sparkly pinecones for the next week or so.  We count them, stack them, lick them (she does...not me), etc, etc.  So, needless to say the whole house is sparkly now....including Diefenbaker who wakes up every morning with gold sparkles all over his face. 

Along with my many nativity scenes, that's pretty much what we have going on around our house this year.  Maybe next year I will gather the gusto to unpack all of the Christmas boxes (first I have to gather the strength to haul them out of the tiny crawl space).  How about you?  Are you all decked out for Christmas?  Do you have a favourite decoration?  Anyone else have troll dolls that their kids are afraid of?

Linking to: The Nesting Place

7 Dec 2012

Our Destination Wedding

This weekend marks Mr. Swell and my 3rd wedding anniversary.  Since we are in the throws of winter here, and look out on snow every day, I am hoping you'll indulge me in a little trip down memory lane back to Mexico.  We knew that we didn't want a big traditional wedding, and after looking at what felt like a million locations, we decided to get married in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  It was affordable for our guests, a quick flight, had great weather and lovely beaches.  

All of our guests (41 in total!) stayed at the same resort, so we were able to hang out for the whole week and have lots of fun together.  When it came to the actual wedding though, we were married outside of the resort at a little area called Las Caletas.  Las Caletas was at one time the home of director John Huston, but has since been bought by Vallarta Adventures and is now a tour location.  It's only accessible by boat and provided us with a totally private area for our wedding.

Destination Wedding

We were married before Pinterest took over the universe.  I am actually quite thankful for that or I would have been overwhelmed with way too many DIY ideas and I'm sure I would have hauled one too many suitcases with me filled with wedding goodies (and spent even more of my life on Pinterest).  Even without Pinterest though, I of course DIYed a few things, and had some pretty specific visions about how I wanted things to look.  It was a challenge to coordinate everything from another country, but the wedding planners at Adventure Weddings were great and I trusted that they'd be able to make things happen (and thankfully they did!).

We went with a tangerine orange and gold colour scheme.  

Destination Wedding

When our guests sat down they each had a little gold cone on their chair filled with rose petals.  We made the cones out of gold velum and then attached a little poem at the bottom that instructed our guests to toss the petals after we said 'I do'.  We walked back 'up' the aisle to Sugarland's 'All I Want to Do' and had colourful rose petals flying everywhere.  It was so much fun and had the upbeat vibe that we were going for. 

Destination Wedding

The actual decor for the ceremony was kept pretty simple with just bright orange bows on the white chairs, and white taffeta draped over the chuppah (no, we aren't Jewish...it just looked beachy and cool)

Destination Wedding

We had dinner in a little area just above where the ceremony took place.  It was open air and just beautiful.  Each guest had a little box for their place setting.   I had bought a whole bunch of different orange ribbons, so each box was different, but still coordinated.  Inside the box was a little vile of bubbles.

Destination Wedding

To hold our places at the head table we had little bride and groom rubber duckies.  I had seen them before our wedding and thought they were so cute.  No, they didn't really fit with the other things we had going on, but they added a bit of whimsy to our head table.  We still have them sitting on the side of our bathtub and Fin just loves playing with them. 

Destination Wedding

Instead of a guest book, we asked everyone to write us a wish/advice on a little piece of paper.  We also provided some origami instructions, and asked that after they wrote the wish, they constructed their origami and then added the wish to the jar.  After a few drinks some of the origami was pretty funny!

Destination Wedding

We brought the jar home and didn't look at a single wish until our first anniversary.  It was really special to be able to read all of the notes that our friends and family wrote to us a year later.  After reading each one we attempted to refold the origami and placed all of the wishes back in the jar.  The jar still sits on our credenza (along with some sand from the beach) as a little reminder of our wedding day.

Destination Wedding

 I've mentioned our cake topper before, but I still love it so much that I just have to share again.

Destination Wedding

I bought it from the Lollipop Workshop on Etsy, and it was fully customized to us.  Every detail was perfect from the style of my dress and veil, to Mr. Swell's boutonniere all the way down to the sand and the little shells on the base.   

The cake topper was the one thing that I was very protective over that night.  I wanted to make sure that it came home with us safe and sound.  Luckily it did, and it has it's own little place on the credenza on top of our wedding album.

Destination Wedding

After dinner was complete, we all moved back down to the beach for our dance.  We had a dance floor set up right on the sand, along with a big bonfire.  The whole area was so beautiful at night with all of the candle light.

Destination Wedding

The next day we got all dolled up again and headed out for a trash the dress photo session.   I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I am so, so glad we did it.  My dress wasn't expensive, and I didn't have any desire to preserve it, and getting it all dirty and wet just sounded like fun.   

The photos from the trash the dress session are some of our favorites.  I love that all the stress of the day was gone (not that we really had that much) and we could just have fun.

Destination Wedding

Destination Wedding

Yes, my dress was totally soaked and full of sand.  When I got back to the hotel I rinsed it off and shook it out as best I could.  I still have it in my closet in its garment bag, and to this day if I move it too fast sand will fall out of it!

Looking back on these pictures I can almost remember every detail, which makes me so happy.  We don't regret for one minute going away and having a destination wedding.  We were so lucky to have many of our closest friends and family be able to make the trip and join in all the fun with us.  If you are thinking of a destination wedding, Adventure Weddings was fantastic and I can't recommend them enough.   

The last 3 years have been a whirl wind to say the least.  We moved to Edmonton a week after our wedding (wedding + moving + Christmas = total insanity) and both started new jobs.  We've worked away at our house, adopted Diefenbaker and welcomed our little girl.  I'm looking forward to what the next 3 years will bring!

All of our wedding photos were taken by Adventure Wedding Photo.

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