February 29, 2012

Leap Day - An Extra 24!

How often have you found yourself wishing for an extra hour in your day? Well here it is. In fact, today you get 24 extra hours. It is a Leap Year and that makes today Leap Day, so thanks to the need to keep our annual calendar aligned with seasonal and astronomical calendars we all get an extra day in our year, a whole extra 24 hours to play with. The question is what will you do with your extra hours?

image from here
Me? I'm planning to do only things that make me happy. Truly happy. That means no laundry, no housekeeping, no errands. Nope, today is going to be packed full of whole lotta happy. To start, there will be plenty of cuddles, block stacking fun, story time and Treehouse with my boy. With any luck, plans to have coffee and chat with an old and wonderful friend will hold. There may be some baking, perhaps some photo-editing + selecting, an easy jog and/or scrapbooking fun. All wrapped up with supper with my hubby and some time on the couch with a good book. Sounds good, doesn`t it?

Perhaps you can do the same? All too often we`re wishing for an extra hour in our day to get something done - something we`d just as soon not do. So, I encourage you to follow my lead and do at least one thing within your extra 24 hours that makes you happy. I know you`re not all off on maternity leave with the option of letting the day unfold as you wish, that work and meetings and other things will consume most of your day. But I do think we can all find time before the clock strikes 12 to do something, just one thing, that makes you smile.

Here, I`ll even help you out with 24 suggestions. Pick and choose your favorite, or pick one for every extra hour of found time:
  1. Try taking your lunch break for a change.
  2. While you`re at it, take a brisk walk around the block. Let the fresh air clear the cobwebs off your lungs.
  3. Or take a good book to a quiet corner of the closest coffee shop. Indulge your imagination for 30 minutes.
  4. Treat yourself to a fancy tea or coffee beverage on your coffee break.
  5. Treat a stranger to a fancy tea or coffee on your coffee break.  
  6. Pick up take-out on the way home. Enjoy healthy deli sammies or a tasty pizza or Chinese, whatever floats your boat.
  7. Pick up a bottle of wine on the way home. Enjoy a glass with your significant other or in the solitude of a hot bath. Or both. Whatever floats your boat.
  8. Go for a nice, long run. Your body and lungs will thank you.
  9. Go for a nice, long nap. Your body and soul will thank you.
  10. Head to the library.
  11. Head to a happy hour.
  12. Tune into your favourite TV show. Doyle anyone?
  13. Tune into your favourite radio station and listen to some tunes.
  14. Take an hour to play with your kids`, in the park, in the yard, in the house. They`ll love you for it.
  15. Take an hour to play with your partner. Make it after dark and they`ll love you even more for it ;)
  16. Plan your next vacation.
  17. Call your bestie friend or your momma or your sister, just for a chat to see how they`re doing.
  18. Write a letter. To a friend. To your kids. To yourself for five years from now.
  19. Dance - alone in your PJs or wild and crazy with the kiddies or with your better half in the kitchen with your wedding song on bust.
  20. Meditate.
  21. Daydream.
  22. Laugh. Out loud.
  23. Say a little prayer
  24. Turn in an hour early and grab some extra zzz`s.
Whether it`s five minutes, one hour, or the whole day, take some of your found time on this Leap Day just for you. Do something, even just one thing, that makes you happy. That`s my plan.

February 28, 2012

Project Life Week 7 - Happy Love Day

Week 7 of 2012 was Valentine's Week ... okay well, it was the week that included Valentine's Day, which in my book made it Valentine's Week. The Project Life spread for that week centred around that theme, with plenty of pink, red, hearts and love-related items. Even pictures that weren't taken on V-Day or weren't about V-Day got connected. And I LOVE it :)

Here's the two page spread, with a few inserts. Again, sorry for the page protector glare (I welcome tips on how to prevent it!).

Here's a closer look at Page 1. You can see HP opening V-Day prezzies from the grandparents, along with a few pictures of his cute mug... including the one that won him the V-Day contest at Bellies & Bundles. The journaling cards are simple, the first noting 5 things I love about HP and the other documenting aforementioned contest. A few added chipboard pieces, ribbon and stickers and we were good to go:

A quick glance at the inserts - all the cards from the grandparents, great-grandmother and Aunt Louie.

And finally, the second page. This page captures the notes about our V-Day celebration, HP's first steps, and a couple of random pictures of him sucking on an orange, hanging with Uncle T and picking out books a the library. I think my favorite bits on this page (aside from the pics of course) is the recycled packaging ... the first steps pic is mounted on some brown packing paper from something we got in the mail. It matched some of the other pieces I used nicely. The other heart piece with the added XOXO sticker is actually cut from a Gap direct mail piece ... again, I thought it tied in nicely. Reduce, reuse, recycle :)

There you have it - another week down and only 45 to go!

February 26, 2012

Simple Things: Sunshine

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.
I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty,
believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.
Louisa May Alcott
The view from my front door earlier this week. 
I noticed how the days are getting longer and
one can't help but smile at the added brightness in our days.

Linking up with:

February 24, 2012

Project Life Week 6

It's been a bit of a scrapbooking themed week here on the blog, so I'll keep it going with a share of Week 6 in the Project Life 2012 Album. I'm still working on Week 7 and hope to get on top of it and Week 8 by early next week.

Here's the two page spread. There were a few inserts for this week, which you can see there right in the middle.

Here's the first page highlighting the valentines I made for HPs little playgroup friends, with a journaling card embellished to match. There's also a card detailing how the pic of HP at the piano looks so sweet + innocent, but the back story is how rough and tumble he actually is. There was also a visit from Nanny Pat this week.

In the middle, there are a few additions including this card from my lovely sister-in-law who is loved for keeping up with actual handwritten notes and sharing photos and sending them in the mail, you know with a stamp on it. A few of the photos she sent are tucked in the envelope behind the card.

Then there's a mixed divider page holding the valentines HP received from his little friends, so sweet! You just get a glimpse to protect the identity of the little ones pictures :)

And the last insert is a belated Christmas card that we received from a friend. We went to their house on that weekend for a retro cocktail party complete with martinis + sidecars! For the cards, I just punch a hole or two and stick them in, that way they can still be read easily without having to be removed.

And last but not least, the second side of the spread highlighting a few of the pics you've seen earlier this week from our walk and HP's foray into self-feeding, as well as a snap from my book club dinner (we read 11/22/63 by Stephen King, which I highly recommend!) and a pic of HP's fun with Uncle Tony.

And there you have it, another week on the books.

February 23, 2012

Yum-Yum: A Layout

Yesterday I shared a layout from my recent excursion to the Paperie's crop night. Believe it or not, it was my first crop night even though I've been a member of the Paperie for years. I think my weekend crop experience back in November started an addiction. It was such a fun and productive evening. Another layout I did while at the crop this past weekend was this one:

I couldn't pass up creating a page about HPs first foray into self feeding. Those sweet cheeks just make me smile. I used a sheet of Amy Tangerine paper as the background, which I love - actually love almost everything by her - and layered on a mix of pattern paper, washi tape, (also by Amy Tan), letter stickers and word stickers. The journaling is also taken from the ol bloggo - so convenient! - just edited down to fit the page.

My favourite bits on the page, aside from HPs cute little face, is the October Afternoon word stickers and fussy cut toast from Cosmo Cricket's Early Bird Line, so fitting for the page content.

Of course my handwriting made it in again on the date sticker as well as on the label at the top of the page.

Another one for the little man's first year album.

February 22, 2012

Winter Walk Layout

I attended a crop night on the weekend at our local scrapbooking store, the Paperie. For non-scrapbookers, a crop is a gathering of scrapping peeps where lots of scrapbooking gets done amidst chatting and fun times. There were a bunch of lovely ladies there and I had a great time. I passed on the post-crop late night social of fried goods and bevvies, but think I'll rest up enough to go next time.

While there I managed to complete three pages in my 2011 Year-Long Album, which I fully plan to share once it's complete. I'm up to July so fingers crossed that's coming your way soon. I also pumped out a couple of other layouts including this one:

I just loved the pics from that walk. The lighting was right, the colours were bright, and the whole thing just made me happy. I couldn't pass on getting this wonderful afternoon into our family scrapbook. I used a mix of pattern papers, word stickers and embellishments from a couple of scrapbooking kits I've accumlated. Loved how the colours and words mixed and matched. I layered a couple of large snowflakes, popped up smaller paper punched snowflakes and added sparkly gems from my stash for dimension. Finally, I included journalling strips using edited text from this blog post.

I added the date in my own handwriting, which I try to include on every layout in some small way. I think that adds a little special something.

All in all, it was a productive and fun evening.

February 21, 2012

Pay It Forward: The Reveal

Earlier this month I posted about Pay It Forward 2012. The concept was simple, the first five people to comment on a friend's facebook status about paying it forward would receive something handmade by her in exchange for reposting the status on their page and giving something handmade to the first five people who commented on their status, and so on from there.

In my previous post I just gave a sneak-peak into my handmade goodies, as the recipients had yet to recieve them and I wanted them to have some element of surprise. I mailed them shortly thereafter and know at least three of the five recipients have their treats in hand, which means they likely all do and it's likely safe to share.

I decided to use my existing craft and scrapbook supplies to make up five card and gift tag sets. Each set included three cards and two gift tags that the recipients can use to give to family or friends. How's that for a little pay it forward in a pay it forward! Here's a look at what I whipped up in a long-nap afternoon:

A mixed set of a thank you card, a hello car and a happy day card,
with two thank you tags - I can totally see these hanging over a bottle of wine!

Two sets of thank you cards and tags

Another mixed card set and two friends tags

And a similar mixed card set, only with a best wishes instead of a congrats card
and two friends tags.

Once they were finished, I packaged them up in envelopes and then randomly wrote names/addresses on them so I didn't have to pick who got what sets! I loved them all, so I couldn't pick and choose :)

If you're so inspired, maybe you can make something for someone special this week. Whether a sweet treat, a casserole for supper, a card, a handsewn apron, a knitted hat, or a simple cup of coffee, I'm sure they'll love it. And honestly, there's no better feeling than giving something handmade.

February 20, 2012

Runday Monday: Virtual Running Partner

I donned my running shoes this weekend and logged a decent 11.25km run (or a 7 miler for those south of the border). The weather cooperated for an outdoor run, making the run much more enjoyable than one on the treadmill. It's just nicer to be distracted by the scenery, passing cars, and other runners than clocking off the miles on a digital counter. Even still, it was on this particular run that I remembered why I like a running buddy. The company, even when not conversing, keeps you motivated. Fortunately, I have a virtual running buddy helping me stay on track and focused.

One of my besties is training to run the same half marathon as I am. Sadly, she's in Nova Scotia meaning we can't meet up for the occasional run. (Unless you wanna come for a weekend visit BJA?) Seriously though, when I trained for and ran the Dublin Marathon, it was most definitely my running partner that got me through many of those long runs. The ones where I may or may not have been a little hungover and would have preferred to stay under the covers on Sunday morning. The ones where I simply had lost my running mojo for the week and would have preferred to quit the whole dang thing. And the ones where I was half way through a 20km+ run and wondering why on earth I was out here again. Without having that encouragement and the commitment to do it together, who knows for sure if I would have even made it across the finish line.

This time is not much different. My running partner may not be on the ground here with her feet pounding the same pavement as mine, but just knowing she's pounding along somewhere else is enough. We're following the same training plan and she often logs her runs on FB via MapMyRun. Seeing those posts is enough to keep me accountable. I know I have to be logging my runs too if we're both going to cross that finish line in May. Besides, this will be her first distance race and I am uber-excited to be doing this with her. I know having a friend train and run the marathon with me made the experience so much sweeter for me.

One of the most common tips for making exercise and working out more enjoyable and more successful is having a partner. I can honestly vouch for this as key to making it stick - even when that partner is a virtual one. Now, of course, if there's anyone up for a 12km run next weekend - JLD or JW perhaps?? - you know where to find me. Until then, I'm going to keep on keeping on knowing my bestie is doing the same just one province away.

image from themett

February 16, 2012

Project Life Week 5

Another wonderful week in the album - the week of January 30 to February 5. As I was putting it together, I saw a numbers theme emerging and went with it. I incorporated all the different numbers that made up our everyday this week as part of the design.

Here's the full two-page spread, and sorry about the glare on the left - so hard to avoid with everything inside page protectors.

And the left-side close-up:

Numbers everywhere from the R3 in the intro card to the many number stickers on the journalling cards
 And the right-side close-up:

When I saw the numbers theme coming out, I thought it would be fun to jot down how much snow fell this week. We were dumped on three days that week and had over 50cms in total. I noted the big snowfalls and days on the yellow card there. The red numbers are related to my crafting mess and success that week :)

I also mailed a few envelopes and packages this week, so I thought it would be nice to note how much a stamp costs right now. In 15 or 20 years, I'm sure HP will laugh at that.

A few of the special numbers documented from our week were:
  • 50+ cm of snow was dumped from Monday to Sunday
  • 12 older cousins for HP on Daddy's side
  • A 2nd new car
  • 10 things about HP at 10 months
  • Creating a crafty mess and mailing the results, 5 lovely card/tag gift sets
  • And of course, the 3 of us, one happy little Ryan trio

February 15, 2012

What I Made Wednesday

Well, technically it's what I made on Tuesday, but as I'm sharing it with you today I think I'm safe to title the post What I Made Wednesday. While the loves of my life were working and napping on Valentine's Day, I decided to get messy productive.

I got right down to business during the morning nap and whipped up a sweet treat for dessert for our v-day dinner at home. On the weekend I enjoyed a delicious cupcake made by Sweet Love Bake Shoppe. I've been wanting to try icing up my own fancy cupcakes at home for a while and my weekend indulgence collided with the love day holiday creating the perfect timing. I found this recipe by Brown Eyed Baker and tried my hand with a Mocha Cupcake topped off with Espresso Buttercream Icing. Given it was my first time really icing a cupcake with an actual pastry bag and special star tip, I think they turned out lover-ly.

I did modify the icing recipe just a bit as it tasted way too buttery and not nearly sugary enough for my tastes. I added about 3/4 of a cup more icing sugar and a few splashes of coffee jacked up with extra espresso powder until it was the taste and consistency I like in a buttercream. Des ate two after dinner, as did I, so I can heartily recommend them. Even my little batter taste tester gives his stamp of approval.

Between baking and icing {the cupcakes had to cool off a little}, I hauled out the scrapbook supplies. I had a copy of HPs Valentines picture printed off and wanted to scrapbook it. HP was still napping so I got started. I sprayed ink, I cut paper, I stuck tape and before I knew it, he was awake and my crafting went on hold for a bit. I finished it up after he went down for his afternoon nap. I still might add some journalling strips to the left of the title before I call it fully done. Isn't he just the sweetest little Valentine?

and who says you can't use pink on a boy layout ;)

I had planned a run during afternoon nap, but was still waiting for Rogers to show for a repair appointment. Rather than waste the time, I also cooked up a batch of kale chips. Des and I love them and my batch last week failed for some unknown reason. Simply wouldn't crisp in the oven. Then at a lovely retro cocktail party on the weekend complete with sidecars and martinis with olives, there was a bowl of the green goodness. We nibbled on some, but did our best not to eat the lot in case others should want some. Of course that just left us craving for more. This batch came up great and made the perfect pre-dinner treat when Des got home from work.

I ended the day making supper - a shrimp risotto with roasted asparagus. I don't know about you, but I call cupcakes + icing, a scrapbook layout, kale chips, and supper a pretty good What I Made Wednesday Tuesday ;)

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

When you are in love you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.
~ Dr. Seuss.

Given all the Dr. Seuss books we're reading and the lack of sleep we tend to be getting these days, this seemed like the perfect quote to celebrate Valentine's Day at the Ryan's. While I'll be keeping it low-key today with plenty of cuddles with the little man all day and a late post-HP's bedtime supper and glass of vino with my hubby, we did make sure to exchange love notes with HP's little friends last week.  

One of the many fabulous mommies I know hosted a playdate at her place last week where she had the most delightful spread of pink lemonade, red berries, and pink frosted treats. HP enjoyed the strawberries the most, while momma 's sweet tooth prevailed and the sweet iced short breads were tops for her. We also traded valentine's amongst the kidlets. There were cards and photos and word art with hearts and Winnie the Pooh for valentines HP. For his little friends I made these sweet little valentines:

I used pre-made felt hearts and birdies, mounted them on white cardstock along with a few strips of valentine-themed tape. Letter stickers personalized the notes and a greeting was stamped inside. Quick and easy, but special greetings for special little people.

And of course, if you're so inclined to share the love for my little man today you can head on over to the Bellies and Bundles facebook page and click like on his photo. He's in the V-day contest over there and, though biased, I think he's about the cutest little cupid there is:

I hope you all have a love-filled and peaceful day.
Happy Valentine's Day.

February 13, 2012

Runday Monday: Play Lists

The Grammys were on last night, which got me to thinking about freshening up my running play list. I don't know about you, but I NEED my Shuffle for a good run. Sure I can run without it, but the run always feels about miles and hours longer than it actually is. For me, upbeat music makes the whole ordeal a whole lot more tolerable.
image from: http://www.apple.com/ipodshuffle/
Unfortunately, while I try to make sure the Shuffle is always charged and ready when I am, I generally fail to update the music on a regular basis. The result is me running miles per hour while skipping through tired old tunes that aren't motivating me to keep my a$$ in motion. While tuning into the Grammys last night I thought it would be a good time to do a refresh on the old play list. And I'm hoping you, my dear readers, can offer some of your old tried and true tunes and new music loves to add to my list.

My criteria for workout music are simple: fast, dancey, upbeat, heart-pumping type songs that make you wanna sweat. A few of my more recent additions are P!nk's Raise Your Glass, Lady GaGa's Edge of Glory, and Christina's Not Myself Tonight. A few guarantee motivators that have been on the play list for a while include Kanye's Stronger and Black Eyed Peas' I Gotta Feeling.

A few of the additions I'm thinking off throwing into the mix are Flo Rida's  Good Feeling and LMFAO's I'm Sexy and I Know It.

But first, what do you recommend? What are your favourite workout tunes?

February 12, 2012

Simple Things Sunday: Winter Walk

Yesterday, we decided to get outside for a walk. The weather was ideal for getting out and about with the babe - partially sunny, no wind, temps hovering right around zero celcious. We grabbed the backpack carrier and headed out to explore a local woods trail. It was an hour more than well spent. Fresh air in our lungs, sun on our faces, activity for our bodies, and, best of all, family time together.

One of my favourite pics from the afternoon was this one of D with HP on his back. Heading down the trail, sun starting to set, not another soul in sight, such peace.

And HP loved the walk. As long as he's moving and grooving, he's generally good to go. This was the first time we used the Kelty carrier and he quite enjoyed being up there. He would actually lean a little to the left or right to get a better view. That's our nosy-parker ;)

And what's a family adventure without a self-portrait?!

Linking up with:

February 10, 2012

It`s Feeding Time

Earlier this week CBC aired a story about kids who self-feed versus being spoon-fed (sorry I couldn't find the online link to share it). In short the story indicated that recent research showed kids who start self-feeding earlier have lower risk of obesity later on than kids who are spoon-fed. They learn to control their amount of food intake - that whole stopping when full concept - and gain an understanding of satiety. Makes sense, as I know from watching HP that he will eat as long as I'm lifting a spoon to his mouth. It is habit for him I think, more so than hunger, as he often clears every bowl of food unless it's something he really doesn't like (enter broccoli).

The same story also talked about how many parents don't self-feed earlier and continue to spoon feed purees, soups, and mashed food longer out of fear of choking. In talking to D about it, I thought about my approach to feeding HP. He can chew small pieces of food quite easily, including Cheerios, toast, and assorted veggies and fruit. However, while I regularly include bits of food on his tray, I tend to spoon-feed him most of his meal. The result is that he waits for me to put food in his mouth rather than reach for what's on his tray. Easier I suppose. In fact, it's easier for both of us and I realized that's why I do it. Not because I'm afraid he'll choke, but rather because it's easier and faster for me to spoon-feed than let him attempt it solo.

Oy! I had a moment of realizing I am doing it for him rather than letting him truly figure it out on his own because it's easier for me. In my mind's eye, I looked ahead to the many things he will have to learn to do on his own from tying his shoelaces to finishing the science project to washing his laundry. I quickly realized there will be many occasions where it will be easier for me to do it for him, but that won't really help him in the long run. So yesterday we attempted our first real focus on self-feeding. On the lunch menu were favourites including avocado, raspberries and grain puffs.

I put cut up pieces on his tray and sat down with my lunch. Instead of feeding him a bit and then eating a bit of my own, I enjoyed my sandwich, talked to him, and let him play with the food on his tray. I did show him how to pick it up and encouraged him to mimic my actions. Lo and behold, he did OK solo! First he just moved things around on the tray:

As I continued to eat and chat, he started picking bits up and bringing them to his mouth. While not always most efficient - we lost quite a few pieces in transit! - he did manage to get some in his mouth and continued to try. Once I was finished my lunch and did assist him some by picking some up and feeding to him and picking some off the tray and letting him take it from me. But for the most part he managed solo and it was quite cute to watch him work those puffs around in his hands and into his mouth!

It took much longer before we completed lunch - as in 45 minutes or more - but that was OK. I  actually noticed how he give indication he was done after a while, though whether from boredom or satiety I don`t know. Either way, I think learning taste, texture, feeding and satisfaction are all healthy habits to form early on. Sure some days there will be more assistance and spoon feeding when we need to get out the door or if we`re out and about, but I will definitely continue to encourage the self-feeding. And at the end of it, the whole thing just made him happy.

February 9, 2012

Project Life Week 4

This feels like a busy week for me, though I can't seem to pinpoint exactly why. There hasn't been anything out of the ordinary going on really, but I feel like the hours of the day are filled to the brim with busy-ness. Hence the inconsistent posting here this week. Alas such is the life of a mama-with-babe, inconsistent.

I am happy to say I've completed Week 4 in the Project Life album and just sent Week 5 pictures to the printers to possibly work on in tomorrow's forecasted snow day. In case you're following, we're in Week 6 of the year. Seriously, week 6 of 2012. Insanity. Anywhooo ... here's a glance at Week 4 in my album:

An overall look at the two pages + insert

a closer look at left-hand side. I used a mix of picture sizes this week which was fun.
The journalling card tells the story of HP's love of playing with our sneakers.
Also love, love, love including this instax shot taken with relatives mini instax camera.
And HP loves, loves, loves that lollipop drum!

Here's the right-hand side of the week 4 spread.
A few more varying sizes of pics + "stuff": grocery receipt, movie stub
On this pic, I added a journalling strip using Des' facebook status/photo share commentary on the same pic.
simple + easy way to capture Des' thoughts in the album too :)
Here's the front of the 8.5x11 insert for the week.
I made a simple layout using a picture of Des heading off for the first day of the new job.
The title is from this blog post about that change. Then I included a slightly modified version of the
blog post text on the back side of the insert. It really tells the "bog" story of that week and gives a glimpse
of the smaller details too. Perfect.

All in all, it was another good week for the Ryan Trio. If it snows tomorrow and our planned events have to be postponed, I might be back on the weekend with Week 5. If not, you'll be sure to see it next week.