Tuesday, May 31, 2011

At The Hop

Well, it's officially time to reveal Mady's birthday party...

It's a...

it's a....

1950's Sock Hop!

I'm so excited for this one! What else can you do for a little girl who's favourite thing ever is to have a dance party every day??

We handed out the invites this week. Here's a sneak peak:

Up-close so you can read my 50's lingo (I googled in order to have authentic 50's slang)
Close up of the front

The details on the other side (personal details blurred)
 If you didn't guess, that's why I made the girls some poodle skirts a couple of weeks ago.

I can't tell you how excited I am for this party. The 50's is WAY too much fun! I'm now in full party mode, so you'll be seeing more details over the next couple of weeks. Can't wait!

Monday, May 30, 2011

One Year Blogiversary

A year ago today I sat at my computer and typed in about 40,000 various names that I thought would be cute for a blog name into Blogger. This day proved to me that there truly is nothing new under the sun and everything that I thought was cute and creative, other people did too.

I finally settled upon a name that takes all the crazy parts of my life and mashes them together and hopefully creates something interesting and beautiful. A Rhapsody of Cacophony. It made sense to me. It was also late at night. I also just wanted to get to the next step. I also forgot that it would be hard for people to spell. I get a kick out of seeing the various spellings people type into google to re-find my blog (they come up in my stats, people, so I know you can't spell!). "Rapcity" is my favourite. :)

Then I moved on to step 2: The first post. 

I think I rewrote it about 5 times. It was a big deal in my mind. Though I don't know why because NO ONE read it. Yup, no one. In fact, I don't think my blog got more than 3 hits a week (thanks to my sister) until I posted Kaitlyn's birth story and posted the link on facebook (So I guess people just like eww-gross kind of details. Good to know. )That first post was awkward. Okay, most of the early ones were. Okay, a lot of them still are. But that's because that's what I do when I'm not sure what to do. I become very awkward.

So if we ever meet in person and you think I'm NOTHING like I am in my writing (you know, when I'm being all myself and such), it's because I have to look you in the eyes and don't have the luxury of taking 10 minutes to write a paragraph (and edit!) and in my head I'm thinking all sorts of great things to say, but then OVER-thinking all the possible ways you may react and trying to pick the BEST one so that we have the greatest chance at becoming friends. Which indeed does take too long and while I'm doing all that, we're standing there feeling really weird. Don't be so surprised. I think we established last week how neurotic I really am when I told you about waiting to call people until it's not an "o'clock."

So ya, it's been a year. Yea me! And somewhere in that year each of YOU decided that my crazy (and lets face it, sometimes boring) life was worth reading about. Thanks for reading along! I appreciate it. And thanks for writing comments and laughing at with me. That's my favourite part.

I'm looking forward to the next year. 

Hey, does one need to celebrate a blogiversary with cake? I may need to make one...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Birthday Cake

First of all, thank you everyone who sent me birthday comments, emails and face book posts. I felt very special yesterday!

One of my friends even took my 28 facts and quizzed the rest of our mom's group on how well they knew me. We'll have to discuss why the rest of them don't read my blog (especially at 7:30am on a day they're trying to leave the house...). Thanks Katie!

I like to think I've learned a lot in 28 years. I'm sure when I'm 62 (or 29) I'll look back at this and realize how little I actually knew. I was trying to think of a single piece of "wisdom" to share from my 28 years on the planet. This is what I came up with:

Choose quality ingredients for your life.

Choose quality friends as they shape who you are
Choose quality food as it shapes your health (including using real butter! C'mon people!)
Choose quality devotional books, church and spiritual mentors as they shape what you believe
Choose quality media for it shapes your outlook on the world

I'm sure there are a million ways to apply this, but simply put
Choose quality ingredients for your life

As I mentioned yesterday, I would be making my own cake and I did. I had started to make it, but then ran out of flour (and had napping children). Since most of my life gets documented on my facebook page, I lamented this fact in a status and a sweet friend saw it and sent her husband to bring me a big bag of flour. His words to me as he handed it to me were, "I hear girls like to get flours on their birthday." Ha! Thanks Mel!

So this is my cake:

sorry for poor lighting. It's raining here (lots!) and there is no brightness.
There's not even snow to help reflect the light. I know, that's amazing.

Not my most impressive decorating job. I wasn't really going for that. I was more thinking that this cake was going to my mom's group. That is on the other side of the city. During rush hour. In the rain.  And I didn't want to have piped delicate roses and then slam on my breaks and have the cake squish against the side of the cake carrier. So I went with safe decorating on the sides. M&M's!

Sometime when I don't have to travel with my cake, I totally plan on making this vertical layer rose cake. Go look at it, it's so pretty!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Birthday To ME!

Today is my birthday. I LOVE birthdays. I think you've figured that out.

However, I'm also one of those people who hates having to tell people it's my birthday on my birthday. I hate making phone calls on my birthday simply because then people will say something like, "So, what are you doing today?" and then you have to say something like, "Well, it's my birthday so I'm going out for dinner" and then it seems like you're fishing for birthday wishes, when really, you were just calling them because you had to ask them a question or something.

It's all pretty awkward.

I'd rather there just be a way for people to know it's your birthday (thank you Facebook notifications!).

So I've decided this year to just be okay with telling people it's my birthday. And not be awkward.

So hey, it's my birthday, you should wish my happy birthday. K? Thanks.

And send me cake. I like cake and Mark isn't really into making cakes. I WILL be making my own (because I'd rather make my own cake to eat than not have cake to eat).

In honour of my birthday I came up with 28 things all about myself. Wow that's totally self-centred, but I can get away with this because it's my birthday. Why 28 things? Because that's how old I'm turning. But funny story, about 6 or 7 months ago, I TOTALLY thought I had already turned 28 and then I realized I was only 27. I almost made myself older. So glad I caught that.

1. I'm too lazy to dye my hair so I don't
2. In less than 5 years I will probably feel the need to because the 2 grey hairs I've had since I was 16 are starting to invite friends over. I'm okay with being grey-haired, I just hate the in-between stage. I prefer all or nothing.
3. I don't really have a favourite colour – I like red, brown, yellow, grey, pink, purple it really depends on my mood.
4. I love cheese and when I see what a serving size is considered to be I gafaw. I realized how much we eat cheese when Mady couldn't have milk for a year and all my typical recipes seemed to have it included.
5. I don't like pets. I don't mind if others have them. I just have no desire for any of my own nor do I want to touch yours.
6. I love, Love, LOVE shopping. I love it even more if its by myself. I love it the best if I get to go with my sister (and even MORE if that's without our kids)
7. I put my pants on left leg first, but my shoes on right foot first. Usually.
8. I love the smell of skunk, yes, really. Though I've never been sprayed so maybe I wouldn't like it then?
9. My favourite little town in the world is Goslar Germany, I don't know why, but I fell in love the moment I set foot in it and it has never left me.
10. I love that crunchy/gooey chocolate layer in DQ ice cream cakes. I could skip the entire rest of the cake if you just gave me that.
11. I've never timed it, so I don't know how many WPM I type, but it's ridiculously fast.
12. I can't play Tetris because it bores me. As a child I played it on our computer until I had all the high scores and could rarely get on the score board myself anymore. Now there is not enough competition to play.
13. Oh ya, I'm fiercely competitive.
14. I can (and do) eat any home made baked goods. I don't turn them down. As long as they're made well and don't have gross ingredients. You'll know if they're good because I'll eat them over a real meal. Ha!
15. I wish I had someone to tell me what to wear every day that made me look fabulous. It would just be easier.
16. I like starting projects. I like the satisfaction of finishing (so I can cross them off my list), but I usually get bored between the starting and the finishing.
17. I LOVE lists. I made a to do list every day
18. People tell me I'm organized and perhaps I am, but I don't feel it.
19. I have a stupidly good memory. Sadly, it mostly remembers details that are not important. I'm hoping that this will win me a million dollars someday. In the meantime, it just wins me a lot of arguments.
20. On the one year anniversary of me starting my google reader account I had 338 subscriptions. I don't keep ones that bore me, that truncate their posts or never posts pictures so I've probably subscribed (and unsubscribed) to hundreds of others in that time. I'm totally addicted to blogs.
21. Pet peeve (besides this whole list): Adding unnecessary S's to words such as Safeways and Legos (which I think is an American thing. It's not called Legos-land, people!)
22. I hate forwards. Yup, all of them. Even the ones that I would probably enjoy if I actually read them. The fact that it's forwarded means I automatically hate it. Even if you take out the “forward” in the subject. BUT, if someone sees something on a blog or whatever and sends me the link, I tend to hate it less. I just don't think "funny" things are all that hilarious.
23. I think I speak for Altos everywhere when I say its super frustrating when a song finally has a solo written in our part range and then its given to a soprano. This happens all. the. time. Directors, please take note.
24. I'm seriously addicted to Pinterest
25. I have a ridiculously over-eager need to follow the rules. I follow rules just because they are the rules, even for things that really wouldn't matter in life. It took me a really long time to eat an oreo without opening it first because someone once told me that that's the way you're “supposed” to eat it. Ya, stupidly ridiculous need to follow the rules...
26. I read or watch things and think they are SO funny and not laugh. I typically only actually laugh if it's live. So if it's not live and I laugh then you know it's really funny!
27. Oh, another pet peeve. When people say LOL (or type it) when they aren't ACTUALLY laughing. Obviously they have missed what it MEANS. (but really, why do people SAY lol? That's ridiculous to tell someone something that, if they can hear you, they could tell you either are or aren't doing)
28. So have you ever picked up the phone and called someone and then as you did glanced at the clock and then realize that it's now an exact o'clock? I hate that because it looks like I was waiting for that exact time to call. Totally neurotic. I know. But it bothers me. If it happens before the numbers goes through, I'll hang up and wait a couple minutes which then means I'm doing what I was trying to avoid looking like I was doing.

And ps - I had to schedule this post in advance so that I didn't feel like I was telling people it was my birthday ON my birthday, because as much as I'm trying to embrace the not-awkward thing. It still totally is.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How to Memorize (almost) Anything

I have always been good at memorizing things. Part of it, I think, is that memorizing begets memorizing. The more you do it, the more you're able.

My parents started us memorizing at an early age (formally, though I did it on my own even if I didn't mean to). I learned books, Bible passages (not just verses, but whole passages and later in life whole books of the Bible), songs both sung and played on piano. I've learned lines to plays, monologues and whole presentations. And as I've done it, I've perfected the craft. I can learn things quickly. Except one thing.

Latin. And basically anything in a language that isn't English.

In day to day life, this isn't a problem. Very rarely would I need to memorize something in another language as there would be no use for this. But I sing and when you sing you have to learn other languages. This has always been a struggle for me.

I noticed after having each of my kids that some of my memorizing brain cells seem to be missing. It's not that I can't memorize, but it takes longer. And those non-enlish cells seem to be nearly non-existent.

This struggle made itself known the most in the last couple of weeks. The choir I sing in is doing a big concert the end of June featuring music from movies. Some of the music we're singing is not in English. Some isn't even real words. This week I was supposed to have memorized O Fortuna from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff (technically an opera, but you will recognize this song from countless movies- and a beer commercial - so it gets to be featured). I love singing this song. However, it's a beast to memorize. None of the words are hard, but there is nothing repeated, except in words that end similar or are almost the same. I used to think I could memorize anything. This song may prove me wrong. At least this week.

But the title of this post says I'm going to teach you how to memorize (almost) anything. These are all my methods that I use for various memorizing. I use as many as necessary until it's mastered.

*Repetition - kind of a no brainer, but it does help

*Say it out loud - this helps because your brain retains things better when you say them/it hears them

*Say it with an accent - You have to make it stand out. Sometimes, if I'm getting tripped up on one word, I just say that word with an accent so I remember it.

*Sing it - make up a tune if you have to

*Make actions to go with the words - they do this with kids for a reason

*Learn it before you go to sleep and then re-learn it in the morning - your sleeping brain processes it and I think that's when it moves it into longer-range storage.

*Word association - I use this for learning terms (or other languages), what does the word (or meaning) remind you of? When I had to learn information about composer in school I would make up whole stories to go with the facts, usually that had nothing to do with what I was learning, sometimes tied into a song. The crazier the better.

*Write it out - Even better if you can write it out while listening to someone else say/sing it (off of a recording works well. If you don't have a recording, make one of yourself saying it)

*Look for patterns - any parts that repeat? When learning songs i find this to be the easiest. It might be something simple like, "you do this 3 times and then the notes go up, do it 3 more times and then the notes go down)

*Look at it on paper, lots - I have a near photographic memory. If the words/notes don't come from instinct, sometimes I just read them off of the inside of my brain.

*Start at the end - this is especially helpful with songs. If you start at the beginning and work to the end, the stuff at the end is a bit more shaky, meaning as you go on, the song becomes weaker. But if you learn a line at a time starting at the end and adding the line before it as you go, the piece will get stronger as you play/sing. It's always better to end on a good note!

*Teach it to someone else - somehow saying it/correcting someone else/listening to them etc. is what makes it stick in your brain. I'm sure I passed all my music history exams because Tim needed to hear everything from someone else I needed to say it.

*Change where you are physically (even sitting to standing) when learning similar parts that are easily confused. Then you can associate your surroundings/posture with that section

*Cue cards - Quiz yourself on what you know. Writing them out will also help with the memorizing

*Play a game - If I'm learning long passages or songs with a group I like the game where one person says a line and then the next person says the line and adds one on and so forth. Listening to everyone else say it will help you prepare.

*Especially for music, don't passively play/sing it - each time you look at it to practice be thinking of what you're saying (how will you remember that this line comes after that one), watching for patterns etc.

*Think about what makes sense - I know not everything we memorize makes perfect sense, especially when you get into poetry and such, but typically writers write in a way that makes sense. They tend to group similar thoughts together. So look for those patterns. Also, if you're memorizing something with a rhythm to it, words will often rhyme. This can help you to keep in mind.

*Rap it - especially good for learning rhythms in a song, but also good for getting a mouthful of words strung together. Put a beat to it (if there isn't already one) and rap it.

Okay, those are my tricks. Got any more? I have a song in latin that's only half memorized, I need some help.

Ps - For those reading this from my Rocky days. Yes, I used to have this song memorized, but remember how I said I could memorize quickly? Everything was stored in my very short term memory. None of it stuck. Boo.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jell-O Jigglers!

I have an unhealthy love affair with Jell-O. Mostly the red jell-o. Mark hates it, but Mady has joined me in my love for it, so now I feel like I can make it all the time again.

But I'm kind of picky about my jell-o (among other things). I like to be able to hold it in my hands and not have it fall apart. I don't like it just made how it is on the box. Last year for Mady's birthday, I had planned to make Jell-O jigglers in fish shapes, but the recipe I had tried didn't turn out so I chucked them at the last minute.

Ever since I have been on the hunt for the perfect jell-o jigglers. And I have found it! And it's super easy (is anything involving jell-o hard??).

You can find the recipe here.

I've made this in silicone molds as well as cut it out with cookie cutters and both ways worked well. If you read the comments on the post of the recipe, someone even says you can re-microwave the scraps. Who knew?

I fully plan on making them all summer.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meet My New Friend

I'd like to introduce you to someone:

This is my vacuum. I think we may become best friends.

As you'll notice, I didn't get a Dyson like I thought I would. Here's what happened.

We decided to go to Vacuum Specialists. If you're local and you ever need a vacuum, this is the place to go. They sell every vacuum that can be sold in Canada and they supply all the other stores as well as builders and other commercial people. You will get the best price through them. And they were wonderful. Very informative, not at all pushy.

I told Mark on the way there I was not going to name any brands when I walked in the door. I was going to tell them what kind of vacuuming needs I have and let them give me recommendations. He did show me a Dyson, but he also told me that he has carpet companies who send them warranty policies that name Dyson (along with some other brands) as carpet warranty voiders. Meaning if you use a Dyson (or these other brands) on their carpet, your warranty is no good. This is because of the brushes that are used in the beater head. They pull up the carpet, not just the dirt. Now I don't have nice carpet in my house, but some day I will probably replace it and when I do I don't want to buy a new vacuum, so...NEXT!

We ended up going with a Sebo. I love this vacuum. Can I gush for a just a minute?

Here are all the things I love about it:

First of all, it's powerful, it literally pulls you around the room. It's more powerful than 95% of the built-in units available.
It's also compact. I don't have tons of space for a monster of a vacuum, this one packs some punch. 
It allows you easy access for fixing it/unclogging etc. No tools required. Those Germans sure are smart when they design things. I can open this thing up everywhere I could ever need to with a flip of a button or a switch. It's fabulous.
(stair attachment which is air powered. So cool!)
The unit is small enough that it can sit on the stairs, but with the long hose, I don't think I will even need to do that.
All the tools except one (the stair tool that we purchased separately) are attached to the unit. That's kind of brilliant. More brilliant is that all but the duster attachment are flush with the unit (and it clips on the handle.

It does have bags (I thought I didn't want that, but now I'm more educated), but they are bigger and cheaper (so lower cost to run) than most other machines. Even the bag-less ones that just replace the bag cost with more expensive filters.
It swivels. Both at the handle and at the machine head the wand swivels so it gives it the glide capabilities that are the same as the Dyson ball. but less bulky. On the same token the wheels on the canister swivel 360º (or is it 180º? Whatever, all the way around in any direction) so the canister follows you in any direction you need to go. The hose also swivels at both ends so it doesn't get tangle up.
Oh and it's a super bendy hose.
The beater head goes right up to the wall so I don't have to pull out a crevice tool to do that part of my floor like I did with my old vacuum.
It has both a long hose and a long power cord (which is also very bendy so it doesn't get stuck places. I know you've all used stiff cords and know how annoying they are).  
Also long is the crevice tool. Whoever invented those teeny short ones obviously didn't have real cleaning needs.
(the crevice tool slides into this little cubby)
It's not super loud for it's suction. And it has adjustable speeds so I can both dust delicate pictures and art (if I had any real stuff) and get down to the nitty gritty tough floor jobs.

(one touch speed control. This will also turn the unit on/off)
I can use it on all floor surfaces and the non-carpet brush will polish my floors as I vacuum. Now I just need floors worth polishing.

(For my kitchen floor etc.)

(It slips onto the end of the unit so I can take it with me.)
The filter in it is hospital grade and will trap everything from dust, mites, spores, mold etc. etc. Basically if it can be in the air, get breathed in and cause you to get sick, it filters it out. I'm a fan. I'm looking forward to the amount of dusting I have to do to go down. We all know I'm not a fan of housework.
It even has a bumper pad around the canister so that it doesn't ding up my walls. 'Cause when I'm trying to work quickly I'm not always careful... :)
And there's something to be said when a guy who has worked in a vacuum store for 25 years has one in his house and has NEVER had a single return of this brand.

He's kind of pretty for such a work horse, too. Wouldn't you say?

I think he needs a name. Suggestions?

Friday, May 20, 2011


I like free stuff. Do you like free stuff? Of course you do!

You may have noticed the Swagbucks widget on my sidebar. Perhaps you've wondered what it is. Well let me tell you.

Swagbucks is a search engine that pays you in "bucks" for searching just like you do your normal google-style searches. You can set up a tool bar so you have a quick access search bar at your finger tips at all times. As you do your regular searching, it will reward you with bucks every once in a while (quite commonly). I generally start searching with swagbucks and if I can't find what I'm looking for I do a more intense search with google, but typically I find that swagbucks has everything I'm looking for.

But it doesn't stop there. Each day they have ways your can earn more bucks, such as answering daily polls, taking surveys and such. All optional of course. And every Friday is Megabucks day, which means you earn even more bucks for your searches.

If you like games, they like to have some fun and send you on "swagcode" hunts around the website, blog, twitter and/or facebook. Purely optional of course, but fun if you stumble across them!

So what do you do with swagbucks? Cash them in for free stuff! You can pretty much get anything with swagbucks. They have all sorts of stuff you can purchase with them including gift cards to places like amazon, so if you can find it there you can get it for free.

Since it's so easy to get free stuff, I'm saving mine up for gift cards to use for Christmas gifts (well, some of them anyway). Cuz, hey, why not? AND, as an incentive, if you refer people you earn bucks every time they do (from searching). Which means no work and more free stuff.

Check it out on the link below!

Search & Win

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mady's Computer

I always get a kick out of the various things Mady chooses to copy from what she sees me do (and sometimes its very eye opening!). These things range from phrases I use ("Really." "okay, just a second" "Kaitlyn, you're fine") to tasks done the same way (dusting, talking on the phone) or recreational activities (listening to music in the car, reading). Which brings us to our latest obsession: "Mommy I want to type" "I need to check my e-mail." She has no idea what e-mail is except that when Mommy and Daddy do it they get to type on the computer. I think she likes the "clack" of the keyboard. If I need to get something done and need her to be occupied, I just open up a word document (don't worry Dad, it's not actually Word. I didn't infest my Mac) and let her type away. We usually end up with a page that looks something like this:

sdljhlkfsdjghiouhrajkrthzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjasfgkjhasdfiujkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkfghsdfkjlhasfliuhfgjkru ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuossssssssssssdhggggggjgjgjgjgjghfsdgkjhruvhdjs

One of these days I'll ask her to translate.

Well a couple weeks ago while going through my blog reader I came across a tutorial for making a play laptop from a wipes case over at She wears Flowers. Bingo! This is perfect.

These ones don't work! And no Z. Lame.

I went out and got all the "ingredients" for making it. Well, sort of. I thought I'd go the lazy way and get pre-made wooden letters for the keys, but when I got them home I discovered that my pack of hundreds of letters was not only missing a z (what??) but lined up as a keyboard ended up being too big for the wipes case.

Take two had me buying the assorted wooden shapes package at Michaels and almost having a heart attack as I counted out the tiny squares and only finding 30 (the heart attack came when I was at 7 and was half done going through the bag of 1000, I forgot that tiny pieces fall to the bottom).

I'm lazy and so I skipped the part where you paint the actual case. I'm sure that makes it look more computer-ish, but she's three (well, almost). When I get some vinyl I'll make her an apple symbol for the front or something so it looks "authentic" like Mommy's laptop.

I was so excited to use the Mod Podge Demensional Magic. I've heard so many bloggers talk about it and it looks like it's pretty amazing stuff. So amazing that I can't find it in Canada. Sigh. Don't make me write another letter, Mod Podge!! The lady at Michaels looked very confused when I was trying to explain it. That should have been my first clue. So I just used regular Mod Podge. It's not the same, but it will have to do for now.

I printed out an "email" for the screen of the laptop. I'll enlist Mady to make more screens of her own for changing it out.

I love that the case can hold other things (markers etc) and is small enough to just pop into my purse without taking up much room. We'll just have to make sure that we grab the wipes case and not the laptop when we're going out with Kaitlyn since that kid knows how to fill a diaper. Whoops, sorry, too much information.

I'm hoping this will provide hours of entertainment. And if not, it was fun to make. :)

What's your favourite craft toy that keeps your kids occupied?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meet my Nemesis...

I'd like to introduce you to someone:

This is my vacuum. We are not friends.

I inherited this vacuum along with my husband. I didn't realize what was happening. You see, Mark and I both had vacuums when we got married. But the roommate I was leaving (with a fully carpeted residence) didn't have a vacuum. The one I had I didn't really like and in Mark's words his vacuum was "the best vacuum ever." I should have known to ask if he used it more than the 4 times a year his parents came to visit.

In our first year of marriage Mark took on the job of vacuuming since it's not really my favourite chore. I did it a few times, but not enough to loathe the vacuum, just enough to kind of hate it.

Then we moved into our current house. Which was double the size of the rental place from our first year of marriage.

Our house was built in 1979 when everyone thought carpet was the best thing ever so they put it everywhere (except the kitchen and bathrooms - so glad that trend died quickly - and my teeny tiny front entrance). We don't have a huge house (1200 square feet upstairs and a basement that's around 900 of carpeted area), but it's pretty much all carpet and there are a lot of stairs and there is just enough vacuuming to do to make me detest the vacuum. Any time I complain Mark tells me his vacuum is fantastic. I tell him it's old. He tells me 1980-whatever was a good year for vacuums. I gaffaw.

You see my vacuum sucks, except it doesn't. Well, that's not true, the first day you put in a new bag for the first 2 rooms (if they're small rooms) you can feel it suction itself to the floor. After that, you basically can only get surface dirt (we're talking cheerios). Then there is the whole issue of it being a canister style. I hear these are supposed to be great for stairs. Here's the problem. It has the shortest hose so I can't reach all the stairs with the vacuum at the bottom and the vacuum is too big to actually sit on the stairs. So it's this crazy stretching/balancing act whenever I need to do the stairs. Annoying! Oh and it has bags. I hate bags. And the bags for this thing are not carried by every store, so I have to make special trips for vacuum bags. I don't have time for special trips.

Have I mentioned I have a near 3 year old and a 10 month old who are not exactly clean eaters? Oh ya, and a dining room that is carpeted. If I was a good girl I would vacuum that room daily, but I'm not because I HATE MY VACUUM.

So I came up with a plan. To kill my vacuum.

Okay, that's not entirely true. Last August I did by accident. And I was totally happy. You see this is a 1980-something model and the plastic on the handle started to crack (because it's old, that's what happens. "But Mel, 1980-something was a GREAT year for vacuums" "That's nice, honey, but plastic gets brittle when it's over 20 years old"), which meant that it was leaking air so it didn't suck as well. Sweet! Dyson here I come!

I told Mark about it when he got home. And he FIXED IT. Boo. No new vacuum for me.

Then in November it did this weird thing where I could go back and forth at most 3 times and it would shut off and I'd have to hit the reset button to make it work again. I thought for sure that was the end. Mark thought so too. But he decided to "inspect" it. Turns out there was just stuff (hair, string etc) wrapped around the beater-head bar and once he cleaned it out it worked like it did before. Boo. No new vacuum for me.

Then in March it started cracking farther down the handle. Mark fixed it. Gah! This thing won't die.

And then the day happened a couple of weeks ago: Mark was vacuuming and then he came and asked where the scissors were while holding the vacuum bag. Turns out it had cracked enough to loosen a piece and then he vacuumed it up. He got the piece out and tried to put it back together, but no amount of duct tape (we're classy like that) could hold it together properly. I vacuumed two more times (cursing the vacuum the entire time) and then it just fell apart. Screws came loose, pieces wouldn't fit back together. The thing is done.

YEAH!! Now I get a new vacuum. The only problem is this: I want a Dyson, Mark doesn't like that they don't come out very high on the consumer reports charts (meaning not the top 3). But the vacuums that do require fixing more often. I'm tired of dealing with broken vacuums. I think I've pretty much convinced him to let me get what I want since I'll be using it the most.  Now I need to figure out which one (upright, canister, which model). I figured I'd talk to the professionals (and not the teenager at Sears) but the place I want to get it from is only open from 9-6 and Mark gets home every day at 5:45. So we'll have to go on a Saturday. We couldn't last week, which means that's how we will be spending our long weekend (and hopefully planting our garden too).

For those of you who are savvy, yes, I haven't vacuumed in about 2 weeks. Eww, I know. I'm grossed out too, but there has really been no other time to go. And I figure once I get the good vacuum then it can do a really good job and fix it all for me.

Do you have a Dyson? Which one? What should I get with wall to wall carpet? Do you have a different recommendation for me?

Thoughts please!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Want to win a Silhouette??

Of course you do! Sadly, I don't get to give one away (Hey, Silhouette, I'd GLADLY host a giveaway for you...), but some other blogs do!

You've heard me go on and ON about how much I love my Silhouette and now you have some chances to win one!

If you have no idea what a Silhouette is (do you not read my blog??), it's a digital craft cutter that can cut everything from paper to vinyl to heat transfers (hello, custom t-shirts!) to fabric. You can also do glass etching and make rhinestone blinged awesomeness. And you can create your own shapes and use any true type font on your computer. Basically it's fabulousness in a box. It has changed my life. I don't say that lightly.

Here are the links to some fantastic blogs who are giving one away:

Tatertots and Jello
Lil Blue Boo
Thrifty and Thriving
Grosgrain Fabulous
A Bowl Full of Lemons
I Heart Organizing
Between Naps on the Porch
Decor Chick
Southern Hospitality
Today's Creative Blog (starting on Friday)

Edit: Just an FYI. Some of these say US-only. This happens every time there is a silhouette giveaway. As of January Silhouette has started shipping to Canada. In previous months' giveaways I have contacted the host bloggers and asked them if Canadians can enter (since other blogs giving them away are okay with Canadians) and they have all told me they either assumed US-only and didn't check when they wrote that on the post, or they had a pre-January info-pack with old info. So enter away!

If I come across any more I'll add them to the list. What are you waiting for? GO ENTER!!

Poodle-Doodle-Oodle Skirts

So that title is only because my choir is learning a medley from Guys and Dolls and it has that doodle, oodle, oodle part in the song.

Which is in my head.

Because I practice a lot.

And yet not enough.

Do you know that song?

You should look it up.

It's catchy.

Anyway, this post is really just about poodles.

And skirts.

So remember my goal about making something for me that I actually wear?

Ya, great idea. An even BETTER idea is to make something that your children wear as practice because that's much more forgiving.

I have two little girls (I think you knew that if you've read my blog for more than 5 seconds). I remember being a little girl and the BEST thing in the world (or at least top 5) was when you had a twirly skirt that would stick straight out when you spun around. I think every skirt in my wardrobe was tested to see how well it did this.

And ranked.

The higher the ranking, the more likely I would wear it.

So, I made the girls poodle skirts. I know originally these were made from felt in the 50's, but it's summer and I wanted them to be cool, so we opted for cotton. I followed the MADE circle skirt tutorial (super simple and she helped with the math. Yeah!) and it worked beautifully. It also helped that Mady had the same measurements so I had even less math to do.

This is by far one of the simplest thing I've ever made.

Okay, I know I've only sewn, maybe 4 things. But the only thing that was easier than this was some receiving blankets I made as a baby gift (4 seams). This one had about 10 if you count all the edge finishing seams since I don't have a serger. The hardest part was sewing in the elastic on their tiny waist bands and trying to stretch it without having a free-arm sewing machine. I like things where THAT is the hardest part.

For the record, this was the first project that I have made on my own that included elastic. Elastic has always intimidated me. I'm learning it's actually quite simple.

I had some trouble with the applique. I used a shape from my silhouette library, but I didn't use my silhouette to cut it (I didn't have the actual silhouette interfacing and I didn't know if that would make a difference.). When I ironed on the interfacing it didn't stick.

MOM!! (that's always my go-to and if she's not home, then Google).

She helped me figure it out.

Then I tried zig-zag stitching around it and my machine was not being my friend. So I stuck with a basic straight stitch. I think I want one of those machines that can basically read your mind. Or at least has pictures of all the stitches and the lengths because my machine just confuses me.

And it needs to be oiled so it was probably mad at me.

But in the end this is what I got:

Aren't they cute?

They will be even cuter once they are on a certain couple of girls. (I realize I'm saying "they" and only showing you 1 skirt, but they're identical so it seemed redundant to show your pictures of each of them). I'll also be adding matching appliqued shirts, but I have to oil my machine first.

These will be saved for an upcoming celebration I'm working on. More on that later, but know that I'm TOTALLY excited to show you all the little details!

So, what should I make for me?

Linking up here:
Todays Creative Blog

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kaitlyn's 10 month pictures

(so the sign was a great idea when she was 1 month old. Or even 4. By ten months she just wants to eat it and I have to hide it in the background. This is the best you're going to get)

If there were only two words to describe Kate this month they would have to be: Curious and Determined. This kid is into Ev.ery. thing. Wow.

She mastered how to go up the stairs. For the first two days she spent her entire days going up the stairs and then attempting to come down the same way (face first) and either Mommy would catch her or she would fall (only 4 steps down to our sunken living room so it's a great learning location). But once it was mastered (going up) she realized the world that this opened up to her.

 Now she can get up to the dining room (where Mady's kitchen play centre is) and my kitchen, the bathroom (which we are learning needs to have the door shut at all times since she has discovered the joy of unraveling the toilet paper) and the bedrooms whenever she wants. After a few falls on the stairs she is much more cautious around them and has now gotten to the point where she can play right at the top and won't venture down. Instead she'll fuss until someone notices and helps her out. Part of the problem learning to go down is that she army crawls and thus has no skills in going backwards, so we're trying to teach her.

All this moving has made for a very hungry girls. Her previously chubby legs now are muscular and her "fluffy" cheeks are slimming down. She has always loved to eat, but now she can't get enough! This makes for progressing quickly with the solid foods. Sadly she can't figure out how to drink from anything (wait, I had this SAME problem with Mady!). I've tried all forms of sippy cups (hard tips, soft tips, straws) and even just regular cups. She can't figure out how to suck and not chew. She can sort of work a bottle, but even that she tends to chew on. Sigh. Perhaps trying to transition to a cup while she's teething isn't the best idea?

Speaking of teeth. She still only has four, but I think she's working on another 4-8 of them right now. Every day I try to check out if she's got any new ones because they're all SO CLOSE to coming through. She's very protective of her mouth and won't allow a finger inside so we generally have to resort to tickling to make her laugh and then a quick look. I think she's going to get them all at once at this current rate. At least she's not grumpy. She seems to have found lots of good toys for chewing on to relieve any discomfort.

She's started clapping and she thinks it's lots of fun and enjoys when we sing "if you're happy and you know it." Mady likes to indulge her with songs. But we're not really surprised by that, are we?

"If you're happy and you know it clap your hands" (and maybe smile?)

one, two, three...

She's FINALLY sleeping better. Typically she wakes up once in the night for her soother or if her teeth are bothering her, but she no longer needs to eat and more and more she's choosing to forgo the 4am wake up for the soother and keep sleeping. I thought this battle would never be won. It seemed every time we made progress she would get sick and be back to waking up all the time. Now we're working on the next stage which is to get rid of the soother. She only gets it when she's sleeping (or we're out at nap time). She uses it to fall asleep so now if she loses it before she falls asleep at nap time I won't give it back to her. She's pretty good about putting herself to sleep without it for naps so I'm hoping the transition away from it won't be too far off. The style of soother we have doesn't lend itself well to clips and she has chucked it over the side of the stroller so many times when we've been out its a wonder I have not lost it for good! I will be happy to be done with it.

I realized the other day that I didn't have any pictures of Kate sleeping. So here, after 10 months, is the first picture of Kate in her crib. She piles all her blankets and "friends", I'm sure as a way to help her get out. Which I'm positive will happen soon. Sigh.

Now that the weather has FINALLY warmed up we've been spending more time outside. Kate is definitely her mother's girl in that she prefers to enjoy outside sitting in a lawn chair with a glass of ice tea in a sheltered area away from bugs. She's not so into the grass either. She enjoys outside in that there is lots to do (and it's fun to watch your sister enjoy outside), but she doesn't want to be put down when we're out. Mark set up his tent in the back yard this weekend hoping that the girls would play and he could get some yard work done. Even in the tent Kate wasn't too impressed. I think she'll be into camping the same way Mommy is. Holiday Inn anyone? :)

But even though she's not much into the great outdoors, I am SO looking forward to spending the summer out and about in the warm weather (we better have good weather!) going for walks and going to the park (Kate recently discovered a love for swings). And I think eventually she'll figure out the fun parts of being outside!

Studying :)

Whew, sorry that was so long!

I know this is blurry, but I love her smile in it.