Let it snow!

I love snow.

LOVE it.

I love how it looks. I love the season it kicks off (Christmas!!). I love how it sounds at night. I love how it makes everything perfect again, white and blanketed, mud and other flaws covered (at least until the plows and boots and dogs get to it). I LOVE SNOW.

And in my opinion, snowflakes are by far the prettiest element in holiday decorating. They’re sparkly. They can be formal. They can be hand-scrawled. They can be blue, white, red, green, or any other colour up there on that rainbow. They can be ornaments, they can make a wreath, they can be part of an outdoor scene, they can frost up ¬†your indoor decor. They are fun to make and glitter just makes them better. And guys? Each one is different. Or, that’s what we’re believing. You are like a snowflake – unique until proven otherwise. ūüėČ

I'm not the only one enamored by snowflakes. Sophie has been cutting them out and hanging them up around the house to "get ready for Christmas." How can I argue with that?

I’m not the only one enamored by snowflakes. Sophie has been cutting them out and hanging them up around the house to “get ready for Christmas.” How can I argue with that?

I also love crafting. I used to be a Sunday School teacher and one of my favourite parts was the craft Рthe glue, the glitter, the cutting, the creating, the colouring (remember colouring? Oh, the good old days.). I have a ton of craft stuff at home and most of it the babies can play with. But some of it? Some of it is all mine. ALL MINE. 

I’m a good sharer, but when it comes to Mommy’s grown-up craft stuff, back off.¬†

I have lots of fun things to make cards with – cardstock, stamps, ink, paper punches, markers, hole punches, adhesives (FANCY GLUE!!) – and I rarely have time to play with it.

But lately, I’ve been sneaking in time when I should be folding laundry¬†to¬†make a card. Or two. But usually just one because one card takes me so long. I want to get it right, get it perfect, get it so that it will look more like I made it and less like Sophie or Lillian made it. You know, like a¬†grown-up¬†made it. And that means I get muddled and mired and stuck.

This weekend, however, I found the time and space and inspiration to sit down and make four Christmas/winter cards, all featuring my favourite, the snowflake.

By space and time, I mean I found some stamps and markers for the girls so that they could have their own stamping/crafting fun.

"What are you doing, Mommy?" (Read: I'm completely innocent and purely curious...I won't get into anything...promise).

“What are you doing, Mommy?” (Read: I’m completely innocent and purely curious…I won’t get into anything…promise).

She might be a teeny, tiny bit excited by the new craft supplies - stamps and markers that aren't completely dried out?! HEAVEN.

She might be a teeny, tiny bit excited by the new craft supplies – stamps and markers that aren’t completely dried out?! HEAVEN.

And by inspiration, I mean I went on Pinterest and scoured other people’s genius for ideas so that I didn’t have to sit and muddle for hours…I got to¬†craft¬†for hours. It was dreamy.

The first card I wanted to attempt was something simple and streamlined. Something easy-peasy. Something elegant, like this one:

Here’s what I came up with, using a nice dark blue cardstock for the card, a snowflake stamp dipped in ink of the same colour, and accents drawn on with a silver marker:

My simple snowflake card

My simple snowflake card

My favourite part about this card, other than the fact that it’s so easy (just some cutting, gluing, and a stamp!), is that it is winter-themed, not necessarily Christmas-themed. You could give this to a Muslim or a Jew or a Buddhist or someone who loves the phrase “Happy Holidays” and is offended by “Merry Christmas.” It’s perfect for the awkward card-giving, where you want to give something, but you don’t want to put your foot in your mouth. (Note: I LOVE this chart for how to handle these uncomfortable social situations…it’s brilliant and simple like this card!)

The second one was going to be a bit more complicated. I saw this patchwork card and LOVED it. I wanted to recreate the same feeling and I’m excited to make other cards (non-Christmas ones, of course!) with paper scraps that I have lying around. I also love the idea of mixing patterns – I’m not brave enough to do it in my outfits, but darn it, I’m a freaking renegade with paper!

Created by the mastermind behind the Kifli és levendula Blog

Created by the mastermind behind the Kifli és levendula Blog

Here’s my version:

My take on the patchwork

My take on the patchwork style

I love how all of the patterns have some sort of snowflake element to them and that they’re all of the same colour families. This cardstock came in a pad of four different designs from Stampin’ Up, so I didn’t have to work too hard to make them co-ordinate. Regardless, I’m a pattern-mixing daredevil!

My third inspiration was a bit more complicated Рrepeat one shape to make another shape. In this case, I took my cue from this pretty card that used snowflakes to create a wreath:  

Created by Carol Longacre

Created by Carol Longacre

I don’t have a snowflake punch, but I do have a snowflake stamp. I also wanted to put the snowflakes in a different colour family – the traditional reds and greens of Christmas. Here is my snowflake wreath:

Voila! A little lopsided, but still the effect I wanted.

Voila! A little lopsided, but still the effect I wanted.

I used green and red ink to make the wreath, and used two different sizes of snowflake stamps – the bigger one for the greenery, and the smaller one for the berries. I added a line of washi tape along the left side and I put a stamped and punched element in the middle of the wreath because I felt it looked a little empty. I don’t know if I¬†love¬†the I ‚̧ Santa stamp with the wreath (I feel they are different pieces of the Christmas pie), but all in all it’s sweet and I do like the effect of the wreath. I also love that I had the forethought to draw a circle in light pencil before stamping so I was able to stamp a pretty-close-to-round shape. ūüėČ A light erase afterwards and y’all thought I was magic. (Note: I am.) (Second note: Clearly not infallibly magic – I still managed to put a dent in the top right of the circle…whatever.)

Sophie was so impressed by this, she made her own versions:

Created by my stamping prodigy, Sophie

Created by my stamping prodigy, Sophie

The final card that I was inspired by had snowflakes of a more rainbow variety:

Created by Karen Day

Created by Karen Day

I really like the snowflakes and the stark white background in this card. The effect is really lovely. This is what I came up with:

My snowflake rainbow

My snowflake rainbow

I LOVE how this card turned out and it is by far my favourite of the four. It’s hard to see here, but the card is a bright pink colour with a green outline. The snowflakes are pink, green, blue and yellow. The message is pink and blue. It’s so bright and cheery and I’m in love. It wasn’t hard to create at all. The trickiest piece was drawing a line from the left to the right edge on an angle so that I could control¬†my snowflake fall. I knew without that guide, I’d be stamping all over the place. Again, I made the line in light pencil and erased it when I was done.

I had so much fun grown-up crafting during daylight hours with my girls. They seemed to love it as well, with both of them churning out some pretty impressive stamping for their first time.

Sophie was rather proud of this one.

Sophie was rather proud of this one.

This is what Lillian came up with once she stopped stamping on the stamp cleaning cloths...

This is what Lillian came up with once she stopped stamping on the stamp cleaning cloths…

We had Christmas music playing, all three of us took turns distracting and wrangling Isaac, and Ben was playing a video game. The perfect end to a busy weekend. Now, if we can just get the rain to stop here and bring back the snow, we’d be set for Christmas!

~ Julia

Introducing…

In our house, we are allergic to everything.

Let me rephrase.

We are allergic to everything with fur and feathers. Cats, dogs, bunnies, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, cows, horses, chickens, ducks, mice – allergic. Sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose, disgusting, unhappy, uncomfortable – allergic.

I am the most allergic between Ben and I, but even he gets a little runny and sneezy around dogs and cats.

Ben has a house rule: if someone (directed mostly at me) brings home something that we (again, mostly me) are allergic to, he will cook it for dinner.

And he’s really adamant and meticulous about keeping things that we (me) are allergic to away from us (me). I’ve only once been able to fool him into letting me have what should have been a never-in-a-million-years activity with a horse – we were on our honeymoon in Quebec City and they offer horse-drawn carriage rides around the Plains of Abraham. I told Ben that because we were outside and we were moving (i.e. there was a breeze), I would be more than fine. About five minutes into our tour, the lovely French tour guide said, “Madame, I’m afraid you might be allergic to my horse.” I nodded, while blowing my nose and wiping my eyes, and I said, “Maybe.” Ben was furious.

Ever since then his vigilance in keeping us (ME) away from all things allergen-filled has never wavered.

Now, you might have noticed that pets are quite popular among the Sisterhood. Toni has two sweet, giant dogs; Jacqui has two adorable breakfast-food/miniature dogs; and Andreah is cat-sitting. So, what the hey happened with me?

Short end of the genetic stick, I tell ya.

So, when events are held at either Jacqueline’s or Toni’s houses, allergy medication is taken, wooziness sets in, and all clothes, blankets, toys, etc. are washed when we get home. It’s just the way it is.

Through our pre-baby years of marriage, we were offered the chance to dog-sit a soft-coated wheaten terrier, a dog that is supposed to be hypoallergenic. We pocketed the offer and decided that after we had babies we’d consider it. We would hate to get a dog just to have to break-up and give away the dog because of allergies. That would be heartbreaking and a lot of trouble that could be avoided if we were just patient.

And then along came Sophie. Sophie who had an allergic reaction to the boxed rice cereal you’re TOLD to feed your babies as their first food. Sophie whose hands and wrists swelled up to more than double their size because we failed to wash a hand-me-down coat before letting her wear it. Sophie who gets licked by a dog and immediately gets welts on her skin. Sophie who can only have clothes washed in a specific kind of laundry soap or all hell will break loose. Sophie who gets itchy when she has too much dairy. Sophie, the queen of all things allergies.

Sophie clinched it – we would never, ever own a pet. Ever.

Or at least a pet that had fur. Or feathers.

But then…Sophie started asking for one. Asking why we couldn’t have a cat, dog, bunny, cow, horse, etc.? And when we explained that any and all of those things would make us sick, she would get heartbroken, which of course makes us (ME) a little heartbroken.

So, Ben and I had THE talk. The should we get a pet, talk. The our options are limited in what we can bring home, but should we bring something home, talk. And we thought about responsibility. And we discussed death. And we thought about cost. And we worked on timing. And we decided.

Yes. Yes we would get a pet.

A fish.

We didn’t tell the girls where we were going and on Friday morning, a school holiday, we drove to the pet store and made the magic happen.

We knew we wanted a fairly hearty fish who would survive living in our zaniness with 3¬†under 6 being their owners. So we settled on a Betta or a Siamese fighting fish. The downfall with these? They have to live alone, otherwise they’ll fight the other fish, so we were only getting one fish, which means the girls would have to decide on ONE fish, not one each.

After narrowing it down, both girls picked their favourites – Sophie a beautiful red, purple and blue one, and Lillian a lovely multi-hued blue fish. We brought in some big guns for the tie-breaker- Isaac. We held both jars with the fish in them over the stroller and Ben asked him to pick one. Within seconds we had our fish (for the record, that will be burned and will self-destruct (I hope), Isaac picked Lillian’s fish).

Oh, hello!

Oh, hello!

We bought a bowl, a net, some food, some water conditioner, the girls each picked rocks for the bottom, and Isaac “picked” a plastic plant. We were all set.

Once we got home, with the fish (and everyone else) in one piece, we set about getting our fish’s new home ready. Both girls opened their packages of rocks so we could rinse them off.

Bowl rocks are serious business

Bowl rocks are serious business

Next up, some lessons in sharing the sink.

Teamwork!

Teamwork!

And some lessons in not throwing rocks in glass house-bowls.

GENTLY.

GENTLY.

Isaac was super helpful during this process.

Isaac taking care of other business.

Isaac taking care of other business.

We double-triple-quadruple checked the water temperature and set up our fish’s new house, complete with landscaping.

Move-in ready

Move-in ready

Some prayers, held breaths, and finger crossing, and voila! Our fish was swimming around in his new home.

Reviewing the rules: no touching the bowl or the water or the fish. No holding the fish or petting the fish or moving the bowl. Look with your EYES.

Reviewing the rules: no touching the bowl or the water or the fish. No holding the fish or petting the fish or moving the bowl. Look with your EYES.

Now for a name.

We needed a democratic process because 4 out of 5 of us are very opinionated. Or at the very least able to articulate our opinions. (Sorry, Isaac.) So, over lunch, which the girls loved because we called it a lunch meeting ( so formal and fancy!), we each offered suggestions for our pet’s name.

Not sure if they're all winners...

Not sure if they’re all winners…

After careful deliberation, we narrowed it down to four selections: Blue, Optimus Prime, Superman, and Finn. How to choose?

We decided that as Isaac chose our fish, so he should choose the name. Ben came up with a simple process – give Isaac four blocks, each one representing a name. Whichever one he picks, that’s what the fish’s name will be.

Ben set up the test…

Decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions

…and Isaac picked.

He grabbed two!  Always the rebel.

He grabbed two! Always the rebel.

And so, it is with great excitement, that we introduce the newest member of our family: Blue Finn.

I think it suits him.

I think it suits him.

It’s been three days and so far we haven’t killed him.

I think we’re off to a great start.

~ Julia

Crafty business

I love crafts. I can’t help it!

I don’t always do crafts well, sometimes they come out a bit weird, like this wallet I just did. I got bored of my wallet, so instead of rooting through V.V. Boutique, or the local Goodwill for a wallet that doesn’t have a strange smell, stains, and that I actually like, I decided to rip apart my old wallet and revamp it with ribbons and buttons (strangely two of my favourite things in the world).

I walked around the apartment looking for all my random ribbons, and found lime green, purple, red, and a blue one that I adore the colour of. I grabbed my button stash, hot glue gun, camera, and a knife and headed to the kitchen table to put it together.

This is kind of what the wallet looked like before I ripped the thing apart.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

I found a slit in the cardboard that could have a zipper put in and can then be used as another pocket.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

However I didn’t want to go that far, and I didn’t want to buy anything for this project. I decided to start with the lime green ribbon, and had to put it in this little slit, which required the knife to slide it in so it could be glued.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

And then I glued it to the actual cardboard so that it wouldn’t move, slid the ends in so it was tight against every side and then reinforced everything with a little bit more glue. I burnt the ribbon ends with a lighter so the ribbon wouldn’t run.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

Then I repeated the process with the purple.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

The red ribbon was quite a bit crumpled, so I set my flat iron to a medium setting and flattened it so it would co-operate, then attached it to the wallet like the first green and purple ribbon, and then repeated with two blue ribbons, and then one last green.

The wallet didn’t feel complete yet. I get a feeling when the craft is done, and it just felt unfinished. So I sorted through my button collection picked my favourites and glued them on. This is the finished product, and it is definitely not one of my bests, but I like the weirdness of it.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

It’s nice knowing that no one in the world has a wallet like mine. It’s not the neatest¬†or best looking wallet I have made, but it’s weird and it’s all mine.

~ Andreah