Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DIY: An Easy, Fun, Meaningful Family Gift

It can be hard to come up with gifts for grandparents who seemingly have everything, and really just want a piece of the grandkids anyway.

With this in mind, we recently made this canvas for the Nonna in our life (hi!) and I think it turned out great! The bonus was that we were all able to participate, and in years to come it will server as a reminder of how small (and messy!) the kids hands were at this age.

Cool huh?
DIY kids handprint tree

We started with a blank canvas from the Dollar Store, and painted the background all over. Then I added the brown tree shape - you could make it as realistic or whimsical as you want, with as many branches as there are family members. The kids chose their own colours for their hand-prints, and those become the 'leaves'. It just so happened they ended up making a rainbow of colours... that was a total fluke (but neat, right?).

The phrase we went with - you could put anything, this was inspired by how the tree came out in our case:

   a little messy
      a little off-centre
          lots of love

What can I say... I was thinking on my feet! ;)

In any event it was hung at Nonna's house almost immediately and the kids are so proud to have been able to make something so neat for their grandmother. (I am annoyed that the lettering at the bottom ended up crooked... next time I'd put down some painter's tape to help guide me!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Digging in the Frozen Dirt

I've said it before and I'll say it again: there's something about pulling fresh produce out of your garden in mid-November that just feels like cheating :) Cheating what, I don't know... mother nature?

Having all-but-forgotten my garden by this point, I'd been curious as to how the last few bits and bobs were doing out there. As the nighttime temps started to dip and frost descended upon us, I knew I should probably cover the garden "at some point", but just never got around to it. I still have carrots, green onions, gobs of leeks ("There's a leek in the boat!" hehehe), and a few bunches of romaine and parsley that I planted in late summer and were still somehow hanging on.

Then last week we had a huge dip in temps, everything froze and was covered in a nice crust of ice and snow. I figured, well that's it then -- I've missed my window. It was a good run, 2014. Thanks for the memories, and the leeks. See you in the Spring. (Sorry, abandoned carrots.)

Until I found myself in the kitchen one frosty evening, ready to make supper, and I pulled some carrots out of the fridge. They were just... meh. Having enjoyed fresh, REAL carrots from the garden all summer and fall, we've really been spoiled. Bagged carrots from the fridge now taste, I don't know, like orange sticks of crud basically.

It dawned on me that the ones in the garden might actually still be edible... So, out I went, flashlight in hand, like a thief in the night ready to pluck the little orange gems from their wintery slumber. Ignoring the fact that our neighbourhood is home to something like a dozen or a hundred bears. BEARS. Yes, real live freaking bears. Please don't let me get mauled to death for a few freaking carrots.

I hadn't really thought this through, obviously, since the ground was frozen down at least 3" and covered in that snow/ice crust. But... I was determined. There I was, in the cold and dark, flashlight in my mouth, digging in the frozen dirt with my bare hands. At one point I thought, okay this is just silly. This is not worth it for a few measly carrots. Plus I could get mauled to death out here.

But then, lo and behold, I pulled up a huge slab of frozen earth with about a dozen orange nubs sticking out of the bottom. How cool!! And the smell! Anyone who's pulled a carrot out of the dirt knows that smell -- it's heavenly.

Now, I realize I'm starting to sound like a total kook right now. But I'm telling you, there is still nothing like the smell of fresh carrots out of the ground! Especially half frozen ground! Totally cheating mother nature, right here!

Anyway I would have loved to snap a few pictures of the orange beauties all sticking out of the frozen slab of earth, but it was cold and dark and my fingers were numb... And that supper wasn't going to make itself.

Thankfully there are still at least a dozen carrots out there (and all the leeks. Honestly what am I going do with all those damn leeks??)... so maybe I'll have another chance. Until next time...

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Finding my Voice (and Learning to Shut Up)

When I was younger... much younger (back in the olden days, before the internet) I was a reserved, introverted, quiet loner of a kid. I know... you are all shocked to learn this (haha). Although, even those who knew me back then, and knew I was 'a bit shy', may be surprised to learn just how much it affected me growing up. I think I was pretty good at acting the part, even though internally I was an anxious wreck most of the time.

For some reason in a family full of hooligans (hi y'all!) I was blessed with the gift of social awkwardness. And by gift, I mean curse. It was awful, really -- I wanted to be out there, having fun, carrying on. I wanted to mug for the cameras and have it come easily and naturally. I wanted to have a bunch of friends that I could gab on the phone with for hours at a time. I wanted more than anything to be the type of person who actually ENJOYED that kind of thing. It seemed to me that those people were having a whole lot more fun than I was.