Trendy Knitting Patterns from me, to you...

Trendy Knitting Patterns from me, to you...

polka dot

polka dot

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Halloween Prep ~ No Sew Tutu Tutorial

Happy October!  I may be a little over zealous, but I hate leaving things to the last family is officially ready for Halloween on October 1st!  Crazy right?!  But feels so good!

So my darling little 4 are dressing up as the Ninja Turtles, and their parents will be sporting correspondingly appropriate costumes.  The stores were full of Ninja Turtle costumes for little boys, which was handy, but for my special little Polly girl, who needed a few more frills and ruffles, we had to go custom.  Here's what we came up with...

Lookin' good Raphael!

And here's the tutorial for her tutu, which cost me $2 {not including the elastic which I had already}, as opposed to the $15 one I saw at the if your little lady requires a tutu for her costume, I strongly recommend making your own.  It was seriously a breeze, plus you get to feel so proud of yourself once you're done ;)

So you will need: 

~3 meters of tulle in your desired colour
~1 piece of waistband elastic cut to your desired waist length.
~measuring tape

Cut your tulle into 6" strips {I left mine folded in half lengthwise how it came off the bolt for quicker cutting}.  Cut each strip in half lengthwise.  This should give you a whole bunch of strips that are approximately 6" x 28" depending on the width of the bolt.

Tie or sew {I know I said no-sew, but I cheated} together the ends of your waistband elastic to form a loop.  You can also use a length of ribbon to tie around your child's waist if you prefer.  There are several ways you can do this, it's just personal preference.

 Fold each length of fabric in half and loop around waistband elastic, as shown above.  Tighten loosely {I slipped my thumb under the knot as I tightened, which I found was helpful at keeping all the knots evenly tightened}.

Repeat with each length of fabric until you run out of tulle, or until you reach your desired fullness!

And tada!  You made a tutu, and your little girl is so happy!  Doesn't it feel great!?!  And nobody has to know it was so ridiculously fast and easy!

Good luck readying for your own Halloween fun!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Real Easter Story

Mary and the Resurrected Jesus Christ by Simon Dewey

So my calling {volunteer position I was asked to fill} at our church is to teach the Young Women {ages 12-17} each Sunday.  I LOVE my calling, and I LOVE my girls!  It has been a wonderful experience and I continue to learn and grow so much through interacting with these amazing girls every week.  This month the theme in our curriculum is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which has been both appropriate with Easter coming up, as well as humbling for me to reflect on how the Atonement has played a role in my own life.  I have a deep and abiding testimony of the Atonement of Christ.  I know that he takes upon himself all of my pains, sorrows and shortcomings.  I have felt his healing power so undeniably in my life countless times.  I have felt him ease my burdens, carry me through hardships, and extend mercy to me when I am in need of repentance, which is every day!  In fact my lesson title this past week was How Can Repentance Help me Every Day?  

For a long time in my life I didn't really understand change, or repentance.  I did in a lot of basic ways, I mean I had been taught, but there's a different between being taught something and really experiencing something.  I knew that there were things I wanted to change about myself, weaknesses that I had, but I didn't know how to do things any differently...

I remember a few years back my Mom started doing this program which describes 4 "types" of people, and based on personality traits etc., each individual found their dominant "type".  I was labelled a type 3, and I hated it!  All I saw were the potentially negative things that resulted from being a "type 3".  Although the program made every attribute of being a "type 3" look perfectly lovely, and of course there were positive contributions from each "type", for me, all I could see was a distorted assortment of negative attributes starring me in the face, and out in the open for all to see.  To me I had interpreted this as meaning that I was loud, bossy, opinionated, quick to lose my temper, etc, etc, and worst of all, because I couldn't change who I was as a whole and I was stuck in this "type", I saw change as an impossible task.  I was destined to be this person I was entirely unhappy being, and I couldn't do anything to change it.

Well, this started to bother me enough, and get in my head enough over time, aided by other discouragements in my life that added to this negative view I had developed about myself, that I found myself in quite a hopeless place, hitting a kind of "rock bottom" of sorts.  At this point I finally began pleading with my Father in Heaven to help me {something I should have done long before this point, but I guess that's why Heavenly Father gives us trials, because sometimes we're too silly to make changes without a bit of a wake up call}.  I still didn't know exactly how I could be helped...but one night as I was on my knees, I got my answer.  I felt very clearly that I COULD change, that I could turn these weaknesses of mine into strengths, and that with his help, through the power of the Atonement, I could become the person he intended me to be.  This to me was a complete epiphany.  I felt hope for the first time really ever in this area of my life.  Over the course of the next year or so, I determined to make changes within myself.  I set daily goals, I made cue cards to read to myself while looking in the mirror each morning, I prayed constantly for help {like probably 16+ times a day}, and the answers kept on coming.  I went to work applying the changes I wanted in my every day life.

I can't even write about my experiences without getting emotional, because it was just so incredible, so personal, and so dear to my heart, and has truly shaped who I've become.  With the constant help of my Saviour, I was able to undergo a true change of heart, which is what I had really needed, but hadn't realized I needed.  I got so much more out of this experience than I ever intended or imagined.  I feel now looking back that I have a whole new set of eyes that I look through, like I quite literally am a different person, and when I think back to who I was before, it seems almost strange that she was me.  I may not seem that different on the outside to those around me, but I feel entirely changed on the inside, and since most of the damage done was on the inside, I am so thrilled and feel so blessed for this change!  I have been able to have so many amazing experiences and answers, I have felt the Saviour reach out and carry me through situations I previously couldn't have handled on my own.  I felt him lend a greater portion of his spirit to me, to give me strength to make the necessary changes that I needed to make.  I am in no way perfect.  I still have so many weaknesses, some are even the same ones I had before, but I've made some good strides in the right direction, and I now feel hope to continue striding on in that direction.  Yes, I have a testimony of the Atonement.  I know it is real, just as well as I know that my hands are typing this post right now.  There is no doubt in my mind that Christ is there for us, and that there is absolutely nothing in our lives that cannot be healed through him.

In Elder Neil L. Andersen's talk Repent, That I May Heal You, he says:
"The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to "re-turn" toward God.  It is the beckoning of a loving Father and His Only Begotten Son to be more than we are, to reach up to a higher way of life, to change, and to feel the happiness of keeping the commandments.  Being disciples of Christ, we rejoice in the blessing of repenting and the joy of being forgiven.  They become part of us, shaping the way we think and feel...
For most, repentance is more a journey than a one-time event.  It is not easy.  To change is difficult.  It requires running into the wind, swimming upstream.  Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."  Repentance is turning toward other things, such as kindness, unselfishness, patience, and spirituality.  It is "re-turning" toward God."

The message of repentance is a message of hope, of renewal, and of joy.  I am so grateful that my Saviour, Jesus Christ, was willing to go through incomprehensible suffering and death in order for me to have the opportunity to repent and improve myself.

So two weeks ago for Family Home Evening, we made 7 Easter Egg Cartons, which tell the true Easter Story in a fun and simple way.  The kids are decorating their cartons and giving them to their teachers and bus drivers.  Our kids go to a French Catholic school {no, we are not Catholic} and we gave these away a couple years ago as Easter gifts, and they were a big hit.  The teachers loved having them as a tool for teaching the kids in their classes about the Easter Story.  I made one years ago as a teenager at a church activity, and have been teaching my kids from it every Easter as an adult.  I love these egg cartons.  I've included below in the supply list links to both an English and an English/French bilingual version of the scriptures we used, for your convenience.  I got all my other supplies at the dollar store, with the exception of the sacrament cup (which I got at church), the fabric (which I got for free by asking for samples at the fabric store), and a few little things I already had on hand at home.  So, without further's what you'll need to make one of your own...

  • 1 empty egg carton
  • 1 dozen plastic eggs
  • small "sacrament" cup
  • 3 dimes
  • 4" length of twine
  • small chunk of bar soap
  • 2-3" square of red cloth
  • 2 toothpicks
  • 1 small nail
  • embroidery thread
  • 1 playing dice
  • small container or bag
  • small amount of dirt or potting soil
  • 2" strip of white cloth
  • small round stone
  • potpourri
  • 6-8" square of tulle 
  • permanent marker
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors
  • paper cutter
  • print-out of corresponding scriptures {links below}
         {English Version

To begin, place the plastic eggs in the recycled egg carton as desired {there's also some cute plastic egg cartons you can get at the $ store if you want something a little more classy looking.  We like ours to have that "homemade" look, but whatever floats your boat}...

With your permanent marker, write numbers 1-12 on your eggs like so...

Cut out the scripture strips using a paper cutter, fold each strip in half a couple of times, and place them in the corresponding eggs...

Now it's time to fill your eggs with the fun stuff!

Egg #1: Place a sacrament cup or other small cup inside the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...

Egg #2: Place 3 dimes inside the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...

Egg #3: Tie a few knots in the length of twine and place it in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...

Egg #4: Break off a small chunk of bar soap and place it in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip.  I had to use Irish Spring when I saw it at the dollar store, because it reminds me of my Grandma's house growing up, and it added some fun colour, and a very strong scent, oi!

Egg #5: Place the square of red cloth in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...

Egg #6: With your scissors, cut your toothpicks to form a small cross {my long piece was just over 
1 1/2" and my short piece was just under 1", and I tried to round my ends as much as possible}.  Glue together with a small amount of hot glue, and finish it off by wrapping with embroidery thread in an "x" shape and securing the thread with another tiny dab of hot glue.  Place the finished cross and small nail in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...

Egg #7: Place the playing dice in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...

Egg #8: Fill the small bag or container 3/4 full with dirt or potting soil, and place in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...

Egg #9: Place the strip of white cloth in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...

Egg #10: Place the round stone in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture strip...

Egg #11: Place a small amount of potpourri in the centre of the square of tulle.  Gather up the corners of the tulle, and tie together securely with embroidery thread to form a small pouch.  Trim the tulle if necessary.  Place potpourri pouch in the egg, alongside the corresponding scripture stip...

Egg #12:  Leave empty {except for the scripture strip}.  Take a moment to smile and feel the warmth and significance of the message that this little empty egg delivers.

Decorate your finished egg carton as desired.  We went for quick and easy...I just used my box of scrapbooking paper and cut a rectangular strip out as a base, then printed out some easter egg colouring sheets and let the kids colour and glue them on, but I'm sure there's a million other ways you could make these look adorable.

Now sit down together and read your beautiful Easter story scripture strips in order and share the contents of each egg as you go, or give your egg carton away as a gift to someone special!

Happy Easter Friends!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Post Holiday Catch Up!

As you may have noticed...things shut down for me mid-November...As December approaches, I tend to shut down on just about everything "non-essential" and switch into survival mode in preparation for my 5 birthdays, Christmas, and new year.  Even after it's all said and done, it takes me a few months of recuperation to get back in the swing of things.  But...better late than never, here's a recap of our festive season, plus a little more between now and then...

My two oldest boys are born December 23rd and December 30th, and I knew that it would be way too crazy to throw a birthday party around those dates, so I went ahead and planned ahead {yay me!} and we had a little combined party for them with friends at the end of November instead.  The party was Lego themed, complete with Lego themed invitations, games, cake, and even a master builder competition.  The kids had lots of fun with it.  Here's a few shots of my Lego cake {no judging allowed}.  It's far from professional standards I'm aware, but my kids thought I was the bomb, so I'll take it!

As if life wasn't crazy enough, Polly's kindergarten teacher asked me if I could come in and teach a knitting workshop to her class.  Strangely enough, and despite my already overloaded schedule, this excited me {cuz I'm weird like that}, but with one exception: there was no way I was teaching a class of 24 children ages 3-5 {Junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten combined} to do anything with long, pointy metal objects.  That would have been 48 knitting needles, in case math isn't your forté.  No thank you.  So, after spending some time on Pinterest and brainstorming, I combined a few ideas and came up with a "simple" sewing project: Jackalopes, or Reindeer bunnies.  I sketched up a little outline, pre-cut, punched, and sewed on faces, and they stitched and stuffed.  The kids gave their finished bunnies to their parents as Christmas gifts, and when the workshop was complete, we even had a couple leftover!

My boys stitched together the final two bunnies, I made a couple of homemade stockings, and we sent them off to France to our two favourite missionaries {my parents} for Christmas.

Throughout the month, we also worked on our beaded Christmas Spider tree ornaments, which we gave out to teachers, neighbours, friends, bus drivers, and our families.  It was WAY more work than I anticipated, but the kids were troopers working on them with me night after night, and in the end we made between 40 and 50 of these little guys.  They were sent out to each recipient along with a little scroll of The Legend of the Christmas Spider.

So that covers the first week of you see why I get so tired?!  I clearly do this to myself I know, but I REALLY love giving, and I always tell my husband that a gift just isn't the same unless it takes time and effort and love, which for me means hand-made!

December 9th was our Reggie guy's birthday, and the highlight of his day was hands down his new basketball hoop.  This boy LOVES his basketball!



Luckily, I still had lots of leftover Lego cake icing, so I just whipped together some cupcakes and went to Michaels, where Reggie got to pick out his own little monkey cupcake toppers.  Not my finest work, but this boy was in heaven!  I'm declaring this a successful 2 year old birthday!  

DISCLAIMER: The birthday cakes only continue to go downhill from here, so don't expect anything special please...

A day or two after Reggie's birthday {which means a day or two before Jordan's} I went and got my hair coloured.  I love it and hate it all at the same time.  I've been extremely conflicted about the whole ordeal.  My hair hadn't been coloured in 10 years, and it was doing quite well.  I could wash it twice a week, never use products, let it air dry, no blow dryer, no straightening iron, and I was good to go.  Now it's all damaged, and it's crazy how much I can feel the difference.  I love the colour, but it's dry and frizzy and knots easily...and all of a sudden I have to actually do my hair every day, which I detest.  I was going for low-maintenence, hence the ombre do, but the colour washes out just as fast as they can put it in and I'm constantly mourning my healthy, natural locks {sad face}...

{here's the before picture of me, as well as some of the pins I pinned on Pinterest}
{Here's how it turned out...don't get me wrong, I LOVE it, I just miss my OWN hair, you know}
Jordan didn't want a cake for his birthday, he wanted bread pudding, so I made a fabulous loaf of homemade white bread, and made him the creamiest bread pudding known to man!  This stuff may not look like much, but it was GOOD!

Somehow, Jordan also convinced Polly {who's birthday was the next day} that it would be super special if they shared a birthday cake every as ashamed as I am to admit daughter had leftover bread pudding for her 5th birthday, instead of cake...{sigh, I was so tired}...but to make it fun, I at least coloured the whipping cream pink and let them decorate their piece of bread pudding like princesses...very odd looking alien princesses {that's what happens when you have three brothers}, but princesses nonetheless...I told you the cakes were going downhill...

{My birthday girl!}

{Polly's Princess}

{Polly kissing her Princess bread pudding creation}

{My Princess, made under Reggie's direction}

{Peter's Princess}

{Wilson's Princess...he said she got hit by a car and the black icing is her blood...sorry for sharing...}

Luckily, our Breakfast with Santa at our church was also on Polly's birthday, so she was thrilled with the fact that Santa was at HER birthday party, PLUS, she got Elsa and Anna dolls!  Who has time to complain about a sad excuse for a birthday cake when the rest of her day was filled with such awesomeness!?  Not this girl, that's for sure!

{Santa pics from the Breakfast with Santa}

{Elsa and Anna contentment}

With most of the birthday chaos behind us {since I'd taken care of Peter and Wilson's party early...such good thinking Lise-Anne}, we headed west 20 hours in the mini-van to visit family for Christmas!

Jordan and I got to hit the slopes right off the bat with my brother Spencer and his wife Nicole, who were up from California, which was tons of fun!

The kids had a blast with all their cousins {there are 26 grandchildren on Jordan's side and 14 on mine, so it's pretty much a perma-party!}

While we were there, we had Wilson's birthday....

Christmas...complete with all the kids doing a nativity for us :) We also love going to see the live live nativity every year, which was great, and doing our annual name draw for all the kids on Jordan's side.  Most of the holidays were spent at my in-laws house with the Michel side of the family, but we did get to go out to my sister's house with my side of the family {minus my parents} on boxing day.  It was super fun, as my sister and her husband just finished a big renovation project on their house, adding on a gym and a golf simulator.  It was tons of fun to hang out with everyone, and the kids loved spending time with all their cousins!

 Finally, at the end of the month was Peter's birthday, which wrapped up the birthday month for us!

We left Alberta and headed back east towards Thunder Bay, stopping at a fun hotel with a water park in Winnipeg for New Year's Eve, and arriving back home New Years Day!

Our friends Raymond and Tawnya were gracious enough to watch Rambo while we were away, and we came back home to a much bigger puppy, who is now getting into the joyous and patience-trying teething faze!

After a brief {emphasis on brief} relaxation period, the kids and Jordan were back in school and Reggie and I {and Polly a couple days a week} were back in our regular routine.  I have been throwing myself into several crafty projects over the last couple of months, beginning with a quest to find an impenetrable dog bed, which is about the hardest thing EVER apparently!  Don't dog bed manufacturer's know that dogs have teeth...and use them to chew?!  It boggles my mind.  Anyway, after much searching, I found a DIY for an "outdoor" dog bed made of PVC and heavy duty canvas.  Jordan constructed a frame out of PVC and I found some heavy duty duck canvas {used for boat covers and awnings} from a local upholstery place.  We then added some rubber leg covers on each leg {bottom photo} so it doesn't scratch and slip on the hardwood.  Here's the LINK {which includes a video} of how to make your own, and here's the results of ours:

This growing pup has been taking up a lot of my time, as he is literally chewing everything to shreds, including the walls, area rugs, banister, couches and anything else he can sink his teeth into.  A big part of this has to do with him having to stay inside for 2 weeks in February because of -40 degree celsius weather here in Thunder Bay.  Along with the ridiculously cold weather, he has outgrown the two puppy sweaters I bought him, so I decided to make my own vest for him that will grow with him.  Using a vintage men's vest from a second hand store, I fitted it to him and attached snaps up each side, which can be adjusted as he grows.  I also sewed up the front bottom portion of the vest to stay clear of his business while he goes potty.  Here are the results of the project:

Lastly, I made a corduroy cover for Rambo's kennel from clearance rack fabric {which I didn't take pictures of}, which concludes the dog projects for a while I hope.  

I even had enough left over corduroy to make Polly a skirt!  Hoping I can post a tutorial for it on here soon if I can get around to it...

The skirt was actually inspired by Polly's desire to clean up her Barbie's wardrobe and perge them of their "immodest" clothing.  Before making her her own skirt, we fashioned up two Barbie outfits...

Next project is to add sleeves to some of her existing Barbie dresses by taking apart some old, torn dresses and basically combining two dresses to make one "modest" dress.  It's been a fun little project to work on together.

We've spent a lot of time outside together, despite the cold, which has been a blast.  I love my family!

Also, I haven't mentioned in this post yet, but I have the most amazing husband in the world, who somehow manages to juggle four children, engineering school and still finds the time to make me feel special.  Never a flower famine in this house!  Here are a couple of the bouquet's he's bought me since my last post, and he just brought me home two more bouquet's last night that I haven't taken pictures of; one for the kitchen, one for the dining room, because he wanted me to feel "doubly loved".  I couldn't be happier with my choice of companion.  He truly is my best friend, and a wonderful husband and father.

Well, I think that's all for now...and I even left out a lot if you can believe it {like my field trip with Peter, our 28 day cleanse, and my Sunday cakes...ahhh}!  But...I will suppress the rest and leave you with a quote for now...