28 November 2010

The LAST Winner!

Kay, seriously, this last seven weeks of blogging has been absolutely crazy. Fun, but crazy!  Giveaways are always exciting: sponsored giveaways are even better!  I'm still so thankful to Inspired By Finn for their necklace giveaway, and Down to Earth Toys for the toy boat!  But, through it all I've definitely felt blogging pressure that I'm not sure I LOVE.  I mean, when I started this blog I did it because of two friends, Cheryl and Sarah, who have family blogs.  Both are places I love to go to catch up on their lives, see pictures of their kids and feel connected with them though they are millions of miles away. 

During the last seven weeks I've felt I HAD to blog in order for people to be able to comment enough. I don't like to HAVE to do anything, really.  And frankly, sometimes I don't want to blog, or sometimes I want to blog about the mundane, silly things in life: things that may not be accompanied by an incredible picture, or an original craft.  You know, like how today on the way home from Church Eli asked us to sing "Away in a Manger" and then stopped us to ask how, if Baby Jesus slept in the manger, he cuddled with his mommy (which, obviously, he did - Jesus definitely would have co-slept!) Or, how Silas folded his arms, or rather just one arm, which I suppose isn't folding at all, but you get the picture, during prayer this morning!  I'm not sure if anyone at all wants to hear about such things, but I think they are worthy of recording, and since my blog has kind of become my record keeping, this is where I tend to want to put such things. 

I guess what I'm saying, dear readers, is that I really hope you aren't reading this to find anything more than the adventures of one mommy, babbling on as though someone cares.  Because I think it's fun, I will continue to post some of my crafts, but from this point on you are going to be getting a lot more of me and less of that.  Hope that's okay with you all! 

But, let's not end this adventure on a terse note, let's be happy and giveaway the very last giveaway!  Using Random.org, and counting ALL the comments, even the few somewhat LAME ones, the winner of my two crocheted hats is....

Cheryl Snell!!!! 

There were two particular followers who have commented religiously on every post over the last seven weeks, and Cheryl has been one of them, so I'm glad she has won.  Cheryl, you are just going to have to wait until you are back in Alberta in December to get these hats (which, BTW, I am SO excited for!)  All the more reason for you to see us BEFORE Christmas!

And, because many people have asked, and I have generally ignored, and since I am a machine with the crochet hook, if anyone wants to order either of the two hats in this giveaway, in any colour you would like, I would be happy to hook one up for you!  $15 for one, or $25 for two.  Just send me an email and we can talk shop. 

Lastly, because both Canadian and American Thankgiving are now out of the way, I can say, without stepping on anyone's toes, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

The Super-est of Saturdays!

Anyone who grew up LDS most assuredly grew up surrounded by crafts which were crafted, once a year, on "SUPER SATURDAY."  It's an amazing phenomenon where Mormon women get together for an entire Saturday and craft, craft, craft!  Because it usually falls on a Saturday in November, most of the Super Saturday crafts are Christmas related.  This week we decorated my mom's house for Christmas, and as we opened up boxes and set out the decorations, I would easily say that more than half the decorations, dating back three or more decades, came from various Super Saturdays.  Here are a few:

But, I have to admit, my very favourite Christmas crafts are these two (I've asked to get them when mom dies!)

Actually, maybe I will just have to figure out how to make them, and offer the class at next year's Super Saturday!

This year I finally started making something I've been meaning to for years.  Before you are too impressed, let me assure you that this was not the workings of my mind. My incredible friend Chelsea went way above and beyond to create this beauty, and I have merely enjoyed her labours!  So, while it is yet to be completed, here's the finished pieces of my Advent Calendar!
 The Wisemen, their Camel, and Egypt, which isn't actually to the east, but Mary and Joseph take baby Jesus there after Herod goes crazy and wants to kill all the babies.
 The earth; Jesus made it.  And John the Baptist.
 The shepherds and their sheep (remember how I love sheep? Well, these ones add to my love, they are so very cute!) Bethlehem and some townspeople. 
 Jerusalem, EVIL king Herod, Simeon and Anna (they are at the Temple when Mary and Joseph take Jesus there to be blessed.)
Angels heard on high, the star, the Angel Gabriel, Donkey, Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus. 

There you have it: proof of another successful Super Saturday.  Hopefully in 30 years my kids will still enjoy pulling this work of art out and reminiscing over the years it was used and loved.  I've only got a few more days to get it complete, and when I do I'll be sure to post.  Until then, happy Christmas crafting to all of you!

25 November 2010

My Mad Crochet Skills

Kay, so quite honeslty, I have done nothing but crochet the last few weeks.  I just love how I can sit down with a ball of yarn and a hook, and a few hours later have a beautiful hat to give away. Unfortunately, there is no way I have enough babies to give all my hats to.  I need to start making them bigger.  And maybe I should make some for me.  No, that would be silly.

Anyway, the Snow Day hat I made was so cute, and so fun, I have made a few more just like it.  There's the red one that is this weeks giveaway.  Then there are two of theses:
I've made a bunch more of the flower hats. Here's one:
Then, with the ends of the balls of yarn, I've made a few of these:
I love this one. It's just a bunch of different crochet stitches. Maybe I will expand my repertoire of patterns and write this one up.  We'll see.

Anyway, moral of this story is, everyone should have a baby girl so that I can get rid of these hats. Like, now.

Here it is...

Alright, I've slacked this week, but give me a break, I did so good the other 6 weeks.  Besides, my giveaways were supposed to be Canadian Thanksgiving to American Thanksgiving, and through my procrastination I have managed that perfectly.  So, to all my American friends, HAPPY THANKSGIVING, enjoy your turkey! And to all, this week's giveaway:

That's right folks, two hats.  A cute rendition of the Snow Day hat, and a girly flower hat.  Both are child sized (4-12ish...), although they stretch quite nicely over my big scull, so if you want to wear them yourselves, you can enjoy them too! 

So, here's the final rules, and I'm changing them up a bit, just so certain people who have tried so hard and comment so well can have a better chance (I am all about blog integrity, but I can do what I can to tip the scales):

1. Mandatory Entry - comment on THIS blog post.
2. Extra Entry - comment on any other post this week, including the two written since Monday.
3. Extra extra entry - I will count as many entries for as many comments you leave, even if you leave more than one on each post.  Now, be realistic and leave real comments, not lame one word ones.  I reserve the right to ignore any comments I feel suck. 

I will announce the winner of this last giveaway (thank heaven it's over!) on Sunday, November 28th, in the evening sometime.

May the best commenter win!!!

23 November 2010

Can You Tell How Cold We Are?

Well, as promised, here are the Wiebe family photos.  Not all of them, because I have to send out Christmas cards with THE pick, but here is a glimpse for those of you sitting on the edge of your seats.

What does a Wiebe family photo shoot look like? Ridiculously, incredible, amazingly COLD! It was -18 degrees Celsius out (which is 0 degrees Fahrenheit, for all you 'mericans out there.) Perhaps if I had been willing to wait a little, I might have had happier kids, but I'm not that patient, and the cold doesn't bother me that much (I forgot to ask the rest of the family how they felt about it.) Besides, I wanted the snow to be pretty and not run over and dirty. So, into the cold we went, and pictures we did take! The amazing Scott Hutchinson did such a great job! Please notice how over joyed the boys are to be out without hats on.  Please don't notice how I am wearing a hat. I'm the best mom, I know!

See, it wasn't completely miserable. There's a smile.

This is the money shot, the "I'm getting nuttin' for Christmas" shot.
Until his ears started aching, Eli was having a blast on his new sled.

Um, Winston here is actually trying to run on only his front two paws because he was so cold. Poor mutt.

Silas was done with the sled, so a running I did go.

Eli favourite lullaby right now: Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer.  Here he is, with a red nose (well, face, really) pulling the sleigh. He was thrilled.

This is the first time we have ever had a photographer take pictures of us, and I was really glad we did.  The old tripod has done us well in the past, but I can't deny that these pictures are about a million times better than we could have done on our own. And I have to admit, I did feel just a little bit glamorous walking through the park, in the snow, with a photographer following us around. Everyone needs a little glamor in their lives, don't they?

22 November 2010

Overwhelmed by Random thoughts

So, let's all just play a little game and pretend that it is Sunday night, and that little old Jenny didn't forget to post her Nativity giveaway winner, and that tomorrow is Monday, not Tuesday, and that she will post her next giveaway then.  Did you do it?  Good.  I feel better already.

Let me start by saying that I can't believe it is November 22 already. Days are so stealthy, I keep missing them as they go by. 

I am almost done my Christmas shopping, which was pretty easy because our entire budget is lower than you can imagine, so getting to the end of it means getting to the end of my shopping. 

I almost hate looking at blogs these days because there are so many cute ideas out there, and I want to do them all, but to decorate a house, you need a house, so there's really no point.  I've put all the good ideas I'm finding into a file to save for next Christmas, when there will be a whole new pile of brilliant ideas, and I will just be even more overwhelmed than I am right now!  Crap.

We did get our family photos taken this week. My incredible friend, Scott Hutchinson, braved -18 degree weather to get the shot I had in my head.  He is amazing.  Stay tuned for a post with the pictures, and stay tuned just a little bit longer for a little gem in your mailbox, complete with a picture of my beautiful family and an update of our goings on.  If you want one, and you don't think I have your address, send it my way so I can send the love your way!

So, without further ado, the winner of the Nativity is....

Erin Wallace!!!

Yeah!  Erin is a dear friend whom we met in Michigan.  The joyous thing is, she and her family are from Alberta and are moving back in December!  So yes, Erin, this will have to be an excuse to get together over the holidays - I won't ship it to you just for you to pack it up and move it back. 

19 November 2010

Silas's Snow Day Hat

 Okay, that is not Silas's hat, it's mine, but is he not stinking cute? I think you can all agree. 

This, however, is Silas's hat.  You know how sometimes when you are sitting around avoiding the work you should really be doing (like sewing the 4 advent calendars you promised your friend you would finish for Super Saturday in 2 days) you are struck with pure genius and you can`t help but drop all distractions and create?  Well, that is exactly what happened with this hat.  Staring at the various balls of yarn I have, these three screamed to me, and so I beckoned their call. I'm pretty sure this hat is my favourite in life, as of now. I love the colours, I love the ear flaps and I love the braids.

 Too bad I couldn't get Silas to sit still for a good picture, but you can all imagine how adorable he is in it. 

And, just for good measure, I made another. Love!

For those of you who would like to crochet one of your own, here's a pattern for you. I'm new at pattern writing, so please inform if their are any gross errors!

Baby (Toddler and Child in parenthesizes)

Vanna's Choice Yarn (100% Acrylic; 170 yards per 100g ball) in colour 108 Dusty Blue A, 123 Beige B, 180 Cranberry C
Crochet Hook US I9/5.50 mm
Tapestry needle

13 sts = 4"; 9 rounds = 4" in dc rounds. 
Use any size hook to obtain the gauge.
dc = double crochet
sc = single crochet

Round 1: With A, using an adjustable ring, draw up 2 ch; 9 (9, 10) dc into loop; join with a slip st in first dc - 9 (9, 10) dc with A
Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1st dc here or throughout), dc in same st as joining, 2 dc in each dc in round; slip st in top of ch 2 - 18 (18, 20) sts.
Round 3: Ch 2, dc in same st as joining, dc in next dc, [2 dc in next dc, dc in next dc] around; join - 27 (27, 30) sts.
Round 4: Ch 2, dc in same st as joining, dc in next 2 dc, [2 dc in next dc, dc in next 2 dc] around; join - 36 (36, 40)sts.
Round 5: Ch 2, dc in same st as joining, dc in next 3 dc, [2 dc in next dc, dc in next 3 dc] around; join - 45 (45, 50) sts.

Toddler and Child Only Round 6: Ch 2, dc in same st as joining, dc in next 4 dc, [2 dc in next dc, dc in next 4 dc] around; join - 54 (60) sts.

All Sizes-Round 6-10 (7-11, 7-12)): Ch 2, dc in next dc and in each dc around; join.
Rounds 11 (12, 13): With B, ch 1, sc around; join.
Rounds 12 (13, 14): With C, ch 1, sc around; join.
Rounds 13 (14, 15): With B, ch 1, sc around; join.
Round 15 (16, 17): With A ch 1, dc around; join. Fasten off.

1st ear flap:
Row 1: With right side facing, join A in 7th (8th, 9th) dc from back joining; ch 2, dc in same st as joining, dc in next 10 (11, 11) dc, turn.
Row 2: Ch 2, dc in each stitch across
Row 3: Ch 2, skip 1 dc, dc in next 7 (9, 9) dc, skip 1 dc, dc in last dc, turn - 8 (10,10 ) sts.
Row 4: Ch 2, skip 1 dc, dc in next 5 (7, 7) dc, skip 1 dc, dc in last dc, turn - 6 (8,8) sts.
Row 5: Ch 1, skip 1 dc, sc in next 3 (5, 5) dc, skip 1 dc, sc in last dc, turn - 4 (6,6) sts.
Row 6: Ch 1, skip 1 sc, sc in next 1 (3, 3) sc, skip 1 sc, sc in last sc, fasten off Infant and Toddler size-2 (4,4) sts.

2nd ear flap:
Row 1: With right side facing skip the next 14 (18, 19) dc on last long row.  Join A in next dc. Work as for first ear flap.

Finishing. With right side facing, join B at back join.  Sc around. Fasten off. Weave in all ends.

Braided tassels (make 2):
With A, B and C cut 3 2 foot lengths and fold all 9 lengths in half.  Pull hooped end from front to back through the end of the ear flap, and loop through itself to secure.  Separate the colours and braid to desired length.  Tie end of braid and trim.

16 November 2010

Snow is falling all around me!

So, last night I wrote about how beautiful it has been this fall, and this morning I woke up to a winter wonderland outside my door! Snow, snow, snow!!! Eli begged to put on his snowsuit the second he saw it, and despite it being quite cold, has been out in it for the last 2 hours.  He drops to the ground and rolls like it's the most wonderful thing in the world.  
Seriously, it makes me so happy! Last winter we were robbed of playing in the snow, because it honestly only snowed three times the whole time we were living in Spokane, and it usually melted by the end of the day.  I missed Michigan and I missed Calgary and I missed the snow. I'm so excited to play in it this winter!

15 November 2010

It's about time for Christmas!

I don't want to complain, but it is a little hard to get into the Christmas Spirit with all the nice weather we are experiencing.  It has been such a nice fall in Calgary: unbelievably, really.  Eli spent an hour in the backyard today in just a t-shirt and jeans, in the middle of NOVEMBER! Crazy.

But, I'm not one to let a little sunshine get in my way, so let me spread a little Christmas your way by offering a Nativity set for this weeks giveaway. Here it is:

Now, don't be too impressed. I did not design or cut these pieces out.  But, I did paint and sand them! I have a set of my own and love it! 

Same rules apply as all the other giveaways.

Mandatory Entry:
1. Be a follower of my blog and comment on THIS post!

Extra Entries:
2. Comment on any other post this week.

I will draw, using Random.org, which I have finally figured out, next Sunday night, November 21, 2010. Hopefully lots of people from Calgary will enter this one, because this will cost an armload to mail. Oh what I go through for my faithful followers!

Comment away, my dear friends!  And, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

14 November 2010

Becoming a Doula

Two months before Silas was born, belly swollen and anticipation peaking, my incredible friend Sierra and her darling husband asked me to be part of the birth of their first daughter, to take pictures while they were focusing on other things. It was quite honestly one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life!  While I had seen countless videos of birth, actually witnessing their little Evelyn be born into this world was deeply spiritual for me.

(I don't think I even took this picture, I think it was from Jonathan's phone!)

I went to the birth armed with the knowledge I had from preparing for two births, but little else.  I like to think I was more useful than just being a photographer, but I'm not so sure.  Regardless, the experience left me with a desire to do it again, better educated and equipped to help the birthing mother through labour,

This weekend I began that journey.  I spent an emotional, educational and exciting three days in a workshop to become a certified birth doula.  A doula is someone who accompanies a woman in labour, providing emotional and physical support and offering comfort measures. There are incredible studies showing that with continuous support through labour, women are less likely to 
- receive regional analgesia
- have any analgesia/anesthesia
- give birth with vacuum or forceps
- give birth by cesarean
- be dissatisfied with their birth experience

This weekend I learned the basics of how to provide that support.  Most of the books on the reading list I had already read, and many of the comfort measures they taught us I learned as I prepared for the births of my two sons. However, considering how those births went, having a doula by my side at my next birth will be absolutely imperative: somehow all that I knew went out the window when I was in labour! 

Although I didn't expect it to, the workshop also provided me with a chance to heal a little from the memories and emotions I have been harboring about Silas's birth. As we talked through what a doula could do in similar circumstances, as I shared parts of my story with the other 29 women there, I don't know if I gave myself permission to grieve, or excused myself from the guilt I had surrounding that birth, but I definitely walked away with less pain and regret. That alone was worth the weekend!

So, now that the workshop is complete, to become a certified doula I need to attend three births, do a bunch of paperwork and I will be on my way!  After four years of being completely consumed by birth, I am so excited to be taking this step.  While I have no intention of ever making a living out of this, hopefully I will be able to help some women as they become mothers!  I quite honestly can't think of anything I would rather do with this kind of knowledge. 

And, as it is the end of the week, I get to announce a winner for my felted wool ball giveaway.  I was super excited to see that the very person who inspired this weekend won the giveaway, Sierra Hocklander!  Yeah! Sierra, let me know if you want me to personalize the balls or not, and I will be sending a package your way in the next week. Congratulations!

Only two more giveaways left! Come back tomorrow to see what's in store for this week!

10 November 2010

I'm the luckiest mother on earth

The conversation I had while Eli was watching Lady and the Tramp II, when the offspring of the original movie runs away and declares that he doesn't love his family and doesn't want to go back home:

Eli, bursting into tears: "I'm so sad right now, Mom!"

Me: "Oh dear, how come, Eli?"

Eli: "I don't know, I just am."

Me: "Is the movie making you sad."

Eli: "No, I'm just sad, and I want that boy to go back to his daddy."

Me:  "I'm pretty sure he will really soon.  Do you want to come cuddle with me and we can watch it together."

Eli: "Yes, because I'm really sad."

I'm so grateful for a sensitive boy. I wonder sometimes how I can teach him kindness and empathy, but then I see little glimpses of just how sweet and understanding he is.  I am thankful that he is well attached to me and understands that little boys should love their families and want to be with them.  I really am the luckiest mom in the whole world!

08 November 2010

Oh ya, a giveaway...

 You thought I forgot, didn't you?  Well, I didn't!

This is week five in my Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving Giveaway, and this week I am giving away a set of three wool balls. I don't have a picture, because I haven't made them yet, for I will personalize them for you if you want!  That's right, you will never have to worry about your balls being stolen, because I will felt your name (or your child's name, if you so wish) right on them.  Or I can just make some beautiful generic ones, if you want.  Pretty much, your wish is my command!

So, who will it be this week???

Here's the rules:

Madatory entry:

1. Be a follower and comment on this post.

Extra entries:
2. You will get one extra entry for every post you comment on this week (including the tutorial post).

This giveaway will be open until Sunday November 14th, at whatever time I choose to make the draw - probably in the evening sometime.  Anyone can enter, no matter where on this fine planet you live.

Wool Balls - a Tutorial!

Little known fact about ME: I know sheep.  That's right, I know enough about sheep to know how to feed them, shear them, even castrate them.  I've worked on two different farms where sheep were one of my responsibilities.  I don't just know sheep, I like sheep. One day I dream of having a little lamb of my own that I will treat nice, and hopefully she will grow beautiful fluffy wool for me to make beautiful things out of.  We will be a good team. 

Until then I have to trust other people to take good care of their sheep so that I can enjoy the fruits of their labours, because I love wool as much as I love sheep. One good thing to do with wool, even if you are not a knitter or a crocheter, is to felt.  Felting is easy, fast, and the products are oh so beautiful.

This week we made wool balls out of wool yarn and roving (carded raw wool, not spun yet.)  We made them to be functional, but they are so gorgeous and fun that they have become toys rather than the drier balls they were intended to be.

Here's how:

-wool scraps (optional, if you happen to have old wool sweaters or anything, this is a good way to repurpose them)
- 100% wool yarn - make sure it is NOT machine washable, as it will not felt
- felting needles (optional for decorations)
- wool roving
- an old nylon
- a washing machine and a load of dirty clothes!

One way to make them cheap and easy is to make the core (or the entire ball) out of yarn, as roving can be hard to come by and tends to be on the pricey side.  Start by wrapping the yarn, very tightly, around two fingers.

Remove your fingers from the yarn and continue wrapping, keeping it quite tight, creating a ball. 
I used this brown yarn as the core, and then switched to brighter colours, so I didn't use as much of the colours I liked.  I covered the core colour completely on some balls, and left some showing on others. Don't be afraid to be creative!

 Once you have a ball of a generous size (it will shrink to 1/2-2/3 it's unfelted size) you can decorate! I used felting needles to secure yarn in different designs directly to my balls. I just laid a contrasting yarn on the ball and poked it with the needle until it was secure.  Once the felting process is done, it will not come off.

Alternatively, you can make the center of your ball out of old wool sweater scraps, or completely out of roving.  This is one that I made from roving, wrapping small strips tightly around themselves. 

With the roving, I used the felting needles again just to make sure it was secure before I felted it. You don't need to do this, as long as you wrap it very tight.

See how the needle has started felting the roving to itself. This ball isn't unraveling anytime soon!

Once you have made as many balls as you want, pull out your old nylon and start stuffing!

Tie a knot, or tie off with a piece of yarn, between each ball. 

Take your yarn sausage to your washing machine and throw it it.  Felting occurs when the fibers are shocked (hot to cold and cold to hot) so wash as hot as you can, with a cold rinse. 

I only washed mine on one hot wash with towels, then dried it with the same load.  You may want to throw yours in a few cycles, just to be sure they felt completely. Once you are done, pull them out, cut them out of the nylon (they may slightly felt to the nylon, so be prepared to spend a few minutes pulling them free) and enjoy!

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