Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Goals: Final Progress Report

Here it is, the last goal check-in for the year! Let's see how I did.

1. Learn to parallel park My sister Jackie taught me while in Seattle.
2. Get a will made up Done! We are officially responsible adults.
3. Make a roman shade for the laundry room Completed! And it looks fabulous. Click here for pictures.
4. Have a successful herb garden Done! To see how I finally completed this one, click here.
5. Visit Seattle We went the end of April and it was awesome! To read more about it, click here.
6. Gain 5 pounds Stupid weight. I totally went up 5lbs, even more at one point and then in the last month, I have gone back down. So if we compare where I was last December and where I am now? I'm only 2lbs heavier. Sigh.
7. Volunteer with a local charity/group I have been volunteering with the local Alzheimer Society since March.
8. Learn to knit socks I finished my very first pair the beginning of March and have since made 4 more adult size ones and 2 toddler size ones. To see pictures of my first pair, click here.
9. Plant a new shade tree Didn't even touch on this one.
10. Run another 5k Finished! I'm really proud of myself for doing another 5k run, especially with my late start. To read more about it, click here.
11. Read 20 books I read 35 books in total this year.
12. Put an extra $5,000 on the mortgage Not even $5 extra on the mortgage.
13. Join a local knitting group I went for a few months last winter but haven't been back yet.
14. Take a Zumba class I participated in a Zumba class with my friend Vicky on March 6th and didn't die! 

So there you have it, how I did with my goals in 2014. I think I did pretty well, completing 12 out of 14! How did you do with your goals for the year?

I'm excited to share my next set of goals with you tomorrow, so be sure to check back then. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Christmas Tradition

I know I know, Christmas was last week. You don't actually want to read about anything Christmas related and this post isn't what you had in mind for my next post. For those of you who have been checking in on my blog faithfully and being constantly disappointed at the lack of posts as of late, I'm sorry this is my first come back one. But such is life. Disappointments happen. So deal.

I'd actually been planning on sharing this post earlier before Christmas but time got away from me and all of a sudden 2014 is almost over. But I figured as long as I squeezed it in before New Year's, I was good.

Dan and I are doing our best to form our own traditions and make Christmas special to us. Each year we add some new ones and tweak the ones we have and we are starting to feel a little more of ourselves in each holiday season.

One tradition we have had since just about the beginning of our marriage is buying a new ornament for the tree each year. We really got into our third Christmas and started choosing ones that signified something that had happened that year and since then, we have been doing our best to hang something special on the tree.

2008: Our wedding

2009: A truck

2010: Shells from Jamaica
It's also fun for us to get out together in December and search for the perfect ornament. We also spend time together brainstorming ahead of time so we don't get overwhelmed while shopping. I admit though, some years we don't actually get out to buy them and end up making them or receiving them as gifts.

2011: Mia joined the family

2012: Dan opened his own business

2013: Dad passed away
This year we were happy to find the perfect one while out on a date. We chose a canoe to signify our camping trips this summer and how we are excited to go on more in the future. It was also a bonus that we got it on sale and only ended up paying $4 for it!

2014: Canoe
This is one of my favourite traditions and I hope we continue it on for many years to come. It's also a fun way of adding more ornaments to our tree that have meaning.

What fun Christmas traditions do you have? I love hearing what other people do to make Christmas special to them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New Bed Frame

I'd like to just start this post by saying I have the best husband in the world. I realize that others may not agree with this statement but seriously, Dan wins some big brownie points for this project. As I shared in a blog post a few weeks back, I have a great vision for our master bedroom and it all started with a new bed frame. I wanted to build our own and Dan lovingly jumped on board. Here I am, just a few short weeks later, sharing this masterpiece.

You can be amazed now. My hubby's got skillz!

I kind of just want to show off all the after pictures and skip the blurry iPhone pics from the process of building but I know I should show you how it all came together. Like I said, it started with Pinterest when I came across these plans to build ourselves a bed. Dan liked that he could look at plans then tweak according to how he saw fit. We had to change the sizes of everything since our bed is a double and Dan changed up some other stuff, like using 4x4 cedar posts instead of the 2x4's they used. Anyways, I'm getting ahead of myself.

To make the new bed look even better, here is what our old bed and bedding looked like.

Like I said, time for a change. So off to Home Depot we went!

We excitedly got most of the bed frame put together the first night and by the second night it was looking more like a bed.

But it was at this point that we hit a roadblock. Up until this point, we were using spruce boards we picked up at Home Depot but weren't able to find any 4x4 posts for the legs, since they seem to only sell them in cedar or pressure treated. We were worried about them being a different colour when we stained them if we didn't get them in spruce, but it turned out to be impossible to find them in anything other than cedar. So we picked the lightest ones we could find and hoped for the best!

Dan very carefully notched out space in the posts for the frame to fit into and it worked really well. It was time consuming, since we didn't have the proper tools but it turned out to be the perfect fit.

By the end of this night, things were looking better and better.

We basically lived in the garage for a week, even going as far as eating supper out there one night. Mia got pretty comfortable hanging out with us and she was almost always helpful in the way.

I'm sorry about the bad quality of all these garage pictures, my iPhone is old and takes crappy pictures, especially in the garage supposedly where it turns everything a lovely shade of yellow. But I figured you wouldn't mind since I'm sharing the building process with you.

Keep in mind while looking at all these pictures that Dan did 98% of the work. Basically my involvement included finding the plans, keeping Dan company while building and choosing the stain colour. It was still fun to "work" together on this project though and we are both feeling pretty proud of how well it turned out.

When we brought it into the house, we didn't have our new bedding yet and our duvet was getting dry cleaned, so we had to put an old comforter on it.

I like that picture though because it shows the size and shape of the bed frame nicely. We also bought Mia a new bed since her old one was so grungy and we thought it only fair that if we got a new bed, so should she.

Since the new frame doesn't work well with a bed skirt, we opted to cover the box spring with fabric. I picked out a fun blue colour that will match our future accent wall and we got to work covering it. It was pretty simple, since all we had to do was cut it into strips and then staple it to the box spring.

I am totally in love with the new bed and adore the colour of it. I'm also pretty fond of our new bedding, I think it goes well with the dark coloured stain.

Do you love it too?

The only problem is now I'm itching to change up the rest of the furniture. It just clashes with the beauty of the new bed. One step at a time.

Fine, I can't keep a secret. We're totally working on the new bedside tables right now! Hooray!

Anyone else building any thing of late? Or are we the only crazy people who do such a thing in December?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Infertility Around the Holidays

Yo yo wassup blogosphere? Long time no see! For reals.

Haha, did you like my attempt at being cool? Ya, I know, I should stop now. Basically I just figured it was time to check in. Sorry that I've been so absent, but seriously, December is hard. Wednesday marked the one year anniversary of my Dad's death and the week leading up to it was pretty emotional. Crying my eyes out while sitting in my car parked in the mall parking lot? Yup, that happened. Let's just say that I really needed a break from blogging to just kind of hide out and cope.

But I am back (for today at least) to write a little bit about infertility around the holidays. Don't think that this is going to be some post about the things you should do or shouldn't do around your infertile friends, I'm not that kind of writer. If you did want to read a decent post on the subject though, click here.

This post is more of a place for me to get some of my feelings out. You know, to tell you that it is really hard not having kids around Christmas, especially when that is all you really want.

This is our fifth Christmas since we had our first miscarriage and while I am definitely in a better place than I was back in 2010, it hasn't really gotten easier to deal with the holidays. They are still really hard.

Reasons why the holidays are hard:

1) Pretty much all of our friends and family have kids. And let's face it, Christmas is really fun when you have kids. Or at least that's what I assume. You see everything new and fresh through their eyes and you have them around to help decorate and start new traditions with. You can dress them up in cute Christmas outfits and take them to see Santa. You can do an advent calendar with them, whether it's chocolate or activities or whatever. You have them to buy presents for. Everyone loves Christmas with children around.

2) It's another big holiday that marks a point in time. Like I said, this is our fifth Christmas since we started trying to have kids. Casey and Jaimie would have been 3 1/2 for this Christmas, Dustin just turned 3 and Daylin would be celebrating for the first time. Bigger holidays serve as a reminder of how much time has passed and how far we are from reaching our goal.

3) People tend to announce pregnancies around this time of the year. Whether it's family, friends, random strangers or far away Facebook friends, someone will probably announce their pregnancy over this holiday season. It just happens that way. It's a happy time of year, family is together and it just makes sense to tell others about your exciting news. And I'm not saying they shouldn't. It just makes it a little harder for those of us who wish so badly to be able to make the same kind of announcement.

4) They just are. It's hard to get in the holiday spirit when you are feeling down and depressed. You feel left out, you feel the sting of infertility or loss even more than normal and it's hard.

So what is the point of this post? Is it written to make all of you with kids feel guilty for having them? Or for those who love this holiday time, try and keep their joy in check? Or maybe to warn those who were planning on announcing a pregnancy this Christmas season, to keep their mouths shut? NOT AT ALL! So please don't take it that way.

This post was written because I needed to write it. I know there are others out there feeling the same way or have felt the same way or will feel the same way. And for those of you who haven't, that's okay. We don't actually want others to feel the same way or understand the sting of infertility. Just try and remember that for some people, Christmas isn't a time of wonderful cheer and that they occasionally just need a hug or a note or a word of encouragement.

So there you are folks, a little piece of my mind for your Friday reading pleasure. Sorry that my come back post is kind of depressing, but it's real and that's what you have come to expect from me. At least I hope.

P.S. Next week there should be an awesome post on a new bed we may have built for ourselves, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Book Review: Messy Beautiful Love by Darlene Schact

Messy Beautiful Love is a book about marriage, offering hope when it feels like all might be lost and a testimony to how grace and God can take something that threatens your marriage and turn it into something beautiful. Life is hard and it is inevitably going to get messy at some point. This book is a testimony of how you can take something that has the potential to tear your relationship apart, surrender it to God and start living in obedience to Him. When you do, amazing things can happen. Darlene Schact uses her life experiences and mistakes to bring forward a very honest and easy to relate to book that will get you thinking and working on your relationship.

I really enjoyed this book and found it encouraging in so many ways. Each chapter focuses on a quality that you should be working on in yourself, including a challenge at the end. The challenges are realistic and are there to get you implementing changes into your relationship, instead of just reading the book, nodding along and then forgetting all that was written. I found this motivating, although sometimes hard to follow through on. Holding my tongue next time I get in an argument with my husband? Easier in theory than in practice. Overall, I was inspired by this book to work harder on my relationship, to not get lazy and push things to the side. A strong relationship takes work and we have to be willing to put in that effort. I would recommend this book to other Christian women who are looking for a book on real life relationships.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLookBloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FederalTrade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Two Years Gluten Free!

Guess what folks? Today marks TWO whole years since I went off gluten! I had totally forgotten it was today until I came across this blog post from last December. Wow, time sure does fly when you're not eating gluten. Kidding. I'm pretty sure time flies whether you're eating gluten or not.

But seriously, it seems like not that long ago that I was told to do a trial run of a gluten-free diet and here I am two years later, pretty well adjusted to my new way of eating. It hasn't been without its ups and downs, especially during those first few months, but I will say that on a whole, I'm used to it. And I have less days of missing it terribly, especially since I found bread I could eat.

Anyways, I don't have much else to say on the subject, other than I'm feeling great, looking great (yes I'm vain) and overall happy with how my health is right now.

Cheers to my second gluten free anniversary!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Foodie Friday - Pumpkin Muffins

Sorry about the lack of Foodie Friday post last week. I totally forgot about it until late that night and by that point, I figured I would just wait a week. Plus, it gave you a small break between two muffin recipes. I usually try and vary my Foodie Friday posts but I've been on a muffin kick lately and these ones were just too good to pass up sharing with you.

This is for sure my new go to pumpkin muffin recipe. I was blown away by how tasty, moist and not crumbly they are!

Plus, for those of you who care, they can easily be vegan.

I also love how simple they are to make. Not too many ingredients and they mix together beautifully.

As my Facebook followers saw last week, I just finished chopping up my big pumpkin and had a lot of pumpkin puree afterwards. So these muffins came at the perfect time. And having this great recipe will also help me work my way through the pumpkin stash in the freezer now.

When we visited my family back at the beginning of November, my sister Stacey made me a pumpkin cake in a bundt pan and she used this recipe. This is actually where I got hooked on the flavour and texture and kindly asked her to share the recipe with me. She did so now I am sharing it with you.

Pumpkin Muffins 
2/3 c. canola oil
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. pumpkin puree
2/3 c. milk (or non-dairy alternative)
3 1/3 c. flour
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix oil, sugar and vanilla together, then add in pumpkin. Add in milk until just mixed. 

Mix drys together in separate bowl, add to wets and stir until just moistened. 

Bake in oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes or until done. Cool on wire rack. Makes 18 muffins.

Once they are cool enough to taste, dig in! They are the best fresh, so enjoy liberally that first day. Although I would recommend showing some self control and not eating four like I did.

What is your favourite thing to cook or bake with pumpkin? Mine is definitely muffins or cake.


Foodie Friday Mini Series, Take 2

Week 1: Banana Bread
Week 2: Butternut Squash Soup & Flat Bread 
Week 3: Nutty Chocolate Bark
Week 4: Lazy Sunday Casserole 
Week 5: Teriyaki Meatball Bowls
Week 6: Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew
Week 7: Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
Week 8: Pumpkin Muffins

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New Hen Update

It's been two and a half months since I shared a post on our new hens. Back at the beginning of September, we purchased seven new laying hens to bring our flock numbers back up over twelve in the hopes of getting a decent number of eggs again. They were still young though, so we knew we'd have to wait at least two months before seeing any eggs from them.

Well for the last two months, they've been steadily growing and fitting in with the old hens a little better.

Matilda The Second

Bertha, Ellie, Sandra, Camilla and Matilda The Second have all grown into lovely hens. Nice sizes and at least two of them are already laying. We are very proud of our girls.



Fuzzy Butt and Minnie though? Not quite as proud. Turns out they aren't girls. We've got ourselves two handsome roosters though!

Minnie Mike

Fuzzy Butt
Fuzzy Butt is really hard to photograph, but you can sort of see the beautiful turquoise earlobes he has. There is also a little teal in the tips of his wing feathers, which adds a nice touch to the rest of his fuzzy body.

Minnie Mike (as we now call him), is getting better looking by the day. He has gorgeous colouring on his neck and his tail feathers are getting more fountain like each day.

We are keeping them both for now but we aren't sure if it will be a permanent thing. I'm kind of liking the idea of having cute little chicks running around next year though, so that might affect my decision making.

So there is an update on our small flock of birds. Everyone is doing well and their coop is nice and ready for winter now. Here's to hoping that the rest of the hens start laying soon and maybe some of the eggs will be a different colour than just brown!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Master Bedroom Inspiration!

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may have seen the picture of paint chips that I posted on Sunday. I am trying to pick a colour for our master bedroom and I am getting no where fast. I am horrible at picking paint colours. What I am good at though, is pinning ideas on Pinterest!

The whole master bedroom makeover is pretty much entirely in my head right now so I am still pushing around ideas of what I want and I am perfectly aware that the finished product will probably look very different from what I think it will. But it's just so much fun to plan! And because I assume that others also take pleasure in looking at ideas, I thought it would be fun to show you guys some pictures of what I am currently loving for a master bedroom makeover right now.

First of all, paint. I am in love with the idea of a nice rich bright blue on one wall and a light grey on the remaining three walls. These are the pins that I am using for inspiration.



I don't want to paint all the walls blue because I'm worried it will make our small bedroom feel even smaller and that it will feel too dark. Currently we have three white walls and one baby blue wall so I am pretty used to a "light" feel in the room.

Once the walls are painted, we will be adding in new furniture. Our current set was given to us for free and it has worked well for us these past six years. But I am ready for something new, with more of an "us" feel to it. And the best way to give us that feel is to make it ourselves! I found plans for a bed and Dan jumped on board. So we are currently in the process of making ourselves a new bed frame, inspired from this.

It will look similar, with some of our own tweaks and adjustments to it. Oh and we won't be painting it white. The plan is to do it in a nice dark stain.

While looking for bed plans, I also came across plans to make our own side tables and dressers. Dan isn't quite on board with the idea of making our entire bedroom set so we'll see if that actually happens. Either way, I'm loving the looks of these side tables. The first picture is the size we'd go with and the second picture is how I'd want to paint/stain them.

Aren't they pretty? Dreaming about these things is half the fun. Even if we go with something entirely different, I'm having a blast looking up stuff.

We would probably need two dressers to hold all of our clothes, and I like the idea of one longer one and one taller one. Once again, probably wouldn't be painted white but I love the looks of these two.


Once all the furniture is in, we would be able to start decorating! I don't have any huge plans for this, since I don't like a cluttered room, but I have a few thoughts up my sleeve. We currently have a wedding photo and our vows above our bed and I am thinking about upgrading them to something a little more like this.

And of course we'd need a mirror above the longer dresser. I need to be sure I look good before leaving the house and I use our current dresser mirror often. We have one of those old flat mirrors from our basement bathroom that we took out when we did that room makeover, but I hate the looks of it. So I have been researching ways to make it more visually appealing. The current winner, adding a nice white frame to it.

Obviously it would look different than the above photo, mostly because it wouldn't be in a bathroom, but you get the general idea.

That's it for my ideas so far. I still haven't decided on what style of curtain I want but that's next on my list of things to research.

I'm having so much fun planning and hope that you enjoyed my little share on what's going on inside my head these last few days. Anyone else doing any room makeovers? Or just dreaming about them like myself?