Friday, 21 December 2012

Day 103: Break from the blog

I'm officially taking a break from the blog until the New Year... haven't decided yet when I'll start up again.  But until then, have a great holiday!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Day 102: Flu Shots

I'm a big fan of flu shots. Not only can you avoid getting one the most likely strains of the flu yourself, you can protect people who are especially vulnerable to the flu.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Anyone who wants to reduce their risk of catching the flu should be vaccinated. It is highly recommended for people at greater risk of complications due to their age or health:
     -Children age 6-23 months
     -People with certain chronic diseases, such as heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes, major obesity, cancer, asthma or a weakened immune system (also applies to pregnant women, regardless of the state of pregnancy)
     -Pregnant women in good health who are in their 2nd or 3rd trimester
     -People age 60 or older
It is also recommended for people in close contact with any of the above populations.

Questions about the flu vaccine? Here's a short video that explains how the vaccine is made and how it works.

Here is the link to the video source and other flu information from the Ontario government.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Day 101: Unions

I should say straight out that I'm pro-unions. Ever since watching the 1979 film Norma Rae (while in high school, years after it's release) starring Sally Field, where she won an academy award for the role, I have been pro-union. I highly suggest the film to everyone - I have a copy if you want to borrow it.

Another disclaimer, my dad and my sister are both part of unions. While neither of them is overly active in the union or overly political themselves, I believe they both respect their unions and know how much unions have done for their individual workplaces as well as for the betterment of the working environment in North America.

What have unions done for us? The people who aren't in unions...

Weekends off
Paid vacations
The 8-hour work day
Ending child labour
Work breaks, including paid lunch breaks
Equal pay for equal work for women
Abolition of sweatshops
Sick leave
Canada Pension Plan
Universal health care
The minimum wage
Pregnancy and parental Leave
The right to strike
Anti-discrimination rules at work
Overtime pay
Occupational health and safety
40 hour work week
Worker’s compensation
Employment Insurance
Public education
Collective bargaining rights for employees
Wrongful termination laws
Whistleblower protection laws
Anti-sexual harassment laws
Holiday pay

Here's a short video (American based) that goes over these benefits - based on the Monty Python skit "What have the Romans ever done for us".

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Day 100: Sandy Hook

I don't know why bad things happen, at all. This definitely includes why bad things happen to good people, why bad things happen to innocent people, trusting people...

There are lots of responses out there, some of which I admire greatly:

But the fact of the matter remains - I believe in a loving and just God, but unloving and unjust things happen in the world around us all the time. I certainly don't have "the" or even "an" answer.

As Christmas approaches and I listen to tons of holiday music, here is one set of lyrics that really hits the spot for me.
Clay by I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day on Grooveshark

Monday, 17 December 2012

Day 99: Frustration

This was me today:

Original from Office Space (bad quality). Also, the music playing in the background has swearing in case you don't want to hear that.

On a more positive note, we got the Christmas cards that need to be mailed out in the mailbox!

Weekend Re-cap Day 97/98

Saturday December 15th - Christmas Party with Jon & Nicole

We spent the morning helping my parent's get ready for a BIG birthday party held on Sunday. Then we headed to our friend's new house in Toronto. We had a fun afternoon, getting the house tour, buying groceries for the party, planning games and generally just hanging out.

I would say the party was a success. There was a ton of food and Nicole came up with two really fun games to play.

The first: Choose the title of a Christmas song out of a bowl (each title is repeated twice). On the count of three, begin humming your tune and find the person humming the same song.

The second game is based on 2 truths and a lie. Except it's worst present received. The object of the game is to come up with 2 bad gifts you've received and make up a third one. Then the group guesses which is the lie.

Sunday December 16th - 60th and 90th Birthday Party

My mom held a fairly big birthday party for my Dad and Gramma. It was great to spend the afternoon hanging out with family and family friends and it was relatively fun getting ready for the party too. (That part can be a bit stressful).

Andrew and I were bad about taking photos this weekend... maybe next time!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Day 94: Christmas Cards

Finally started my Christmas cards... hoping that if I send them out Friday or Monday they'll get to everyone a bit before Christmas :)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Day 93: Apple Crisp

Sharing apple crisp with my brother and his girlfriend while playing cards, need I say more?

Monday, 10 December 2012

Day 92: Simple Pleasures

A clean bath mat can make me so happy!

Weekend Re-cap Day 90/91

Saturday Dec 8th - 30th Birthday Celebrations

I don't have any photos from the moustachioed event, but we certainly had a great time. My newest brother-in-law turned 30 on Friday and my sister threw him a great party!

Sunday Dec 9th - 12 Dogs of Christmas

Watched a fun, family-friendly Christmas movie (in case you're looking for suggestions) - the 12 Dogs of Christmas. Here's a clip from the best part.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Day 89: Nature Update - the Peregrine Falcon

So I've been keeping my eyes out during the days and what did I spot but a peregrine falcon (I'm fairly confident) perched on top of a lamp post... and two lamp posts later, another one! Of course, being in the car I couldn't take a picture :(

Photo credit: National Geographic

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Day 88: Work Christmas Party

We're home early from Andrew's work Christmas party this year because I have to be up REALLY early tomorrow morning (I should already be in bed). However, thought I'd drop a quick note about the festivities.

We went on the touring train from uptown Waterloo to St. Jacob's and back - eating snacks, sipping beverages and playing a few trivia games. From there they arranged for buses to take us to the local country bar which had been fancied up considerably for dinner, live music, prizes and then a DJ for dancing. We missed out on the mechanical bull - he wasn't schedule to arrive until late into the night :(

Here's a view from our VIP table (sorry it's blurry):

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Day 86: Decorating the Christmas Tree

I came across this David Suzuki article about the environmental impacts of real versus fake Christmas trees. Interesting read!
"According to Ellipsos, the artificial tree has three times more impacts on climate change and resource depletion than the natural tree."

That being said, they do explain the potted Christmas trees are the best option, however expensive. We went with a Christmas tree from a farm 3km from our house :)

On to the decorating, I don't know if much needs to be said... We listened to Christmas music and had a fun time!! 

Do you have any traditions surrounding the decorating of the tree??

Monday, 3 December 2012

Day 85: Winterizing the Car

We're a bit behind this year. We've already had two snowfalls and the car's not ready yet.

  1. Clean out your car:

    1. Get rid of any garbage
    2. Remove mats and wash them
    3. Vacuum the seats and floor
    4. Steam clean seats if necessary
    5. Wash inside of windows
    6. Clean dashboard, steering wheel and glovebox

  2. Put on the snow tires

    1. Figure out which tire was where last year and properly rotate them
    2. Install tires on a flat surface
    3. Put away regular tires (marked with their last position on car)
    4. Pump them up enough to drive
    5. Go to the gas station and properly fill tires

  3. Fill car up with winter essentials
    1. Put snowbrush in the car
    2. Fill up windshield washer fluid
    3. Put in an emergency blanket, extra socks, hat, mitts
Check out this link for a full checklist of things to keep in your car in case of a winter emergency. And be safe this winter!!

Update: We were able to finish all of #1 Clean out your car. Soon we should have the snow tired on and have the car packed for winter.

Weekend Re-cap Day 83/84

Saturday December 1st - Christmas Traditions

We filled up the wonderful Advent Calendar my mom made for us, with chocolates and chewy wintergreen candies.

We went to Benjamin Tree Farm and cut down our Christmas tree. They have a great operation set-up, they saw a straight cut on the bottom of your tree (drill a hole if you want), shake the excess needles and bag it! They also have hot apple cider or hot chocolate and cookies for free and an amazing gift shop filled with a mix of hand-made and commercial gifts.

We also bought one of their great wreaths for beside the front door (around our porch light).

We had my brother and his girlfriend over for games and mostly homemade pizza (bought the dough and sauce). Overall a great wintery day!

Sunday December 2nd - First Family Christmas Get-Together of 2012

While we had a work-related Christmas party last week, Sunday was our first family time. Andrew's uncle and his family came to Andrew's parent's house where 16 of us had a delicious lunch (including yummy dessert!) and talked the afternoon away... and some of the evening. We didn't get home until after 7pm. Quite the lunch :P

Friday, 30 November 2012

Day 82: Questions to ask at a Dinner Party

We're going out to dinner tonight at a couple from church's house.

I found some funny questions to ask a dinner parties:

What's your favourite bumper sticker? 
If you could have picked your own name, what would it be?
What was your favorite toy when you were a kid?

Some fill-in-the-blanks:
When I painted the ___________ green... 
Tomorrow I absolutely refuse to...... 
My aunt in Tanzania always says....... 
Thursdays breakfast is always...... 
.....,at least that's what I heard down at the factory. 
.....I could never do those things when I was in the secret society. 
When I was driving home from my water aerobics class... 
I found out from my dog's daycare provider that they no longer....
Today my next door neighbour told me that he really needs his _______back.

I don't know that we'll use any of these tonight, but I think it would be fun to try some time.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Day 81: An Outing with Coworkers

We had dinner tonight with Andrew's team at work (2 other guys) and their significant others. It was a super delicious meal at King St. Trio :)  We also went to the Huether Hotel after for some drinks.

Overall we had a great time and had amazing conversation. It's nice to get to know some new people and I'm looking forward to knowing them better.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Day 80: Update on Games Small Group

So I think overall our idea of a Small Group with church people meeting to play games (as well as connect and share lives - we also pray, big surprise!) has been a hit.

We had a fair amount of interest (could be a group of 11 including us) and last Wednesday we had 5 other adults (plus a baby) over at our house for the evening. Unfortunately this week we had only 1 other person...

Realizing that this season is busy for people and sickness prevails, we're not too disappointed. And we still had a fun time tonight! We're hoping that by January people's schedules have come around to meeting every week and that we're having such a good time with each other that to cancel would be the exception and not the rule. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Day 79: Internet Outage

No matter my intentions, the internet was down all day so no post :)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Day 78: Anyway

A good reminder that living intentionally means doing things "anyway". Forgive, be kind, succeed, be honest and sincere, build, be happy, do good, give your best anyway. It's easy to allow circumstances and people stand in your way to accomplishing what you can. I think to lead a happy and fulfilling life, this list will be very helpful.

Weekend Re-cap Day 76/77

Saturday November 26th - Busy Day

Busy is the first word that pops into my mind when thinking about Saturday, followed closely by fun! We had lunch at our friends house in Kitchener with other friends in from Toronto with their baby. It was super nice to meet the little guy!

Then we had a fun afternoon and evening with our 2 1/2 year old niece. The snow from Friday stayed for the weekend and so we went to the park, played on the slides and swings and threw snowballs for Banner. Came home, had hot chocolate and cuddled up to watch The Polar Express. Dinner with a toddler is really fun :) Plenty messy, but fun. Andrew learned all about riling up a toddler after dinner and then trying to have her calm down to cuddle... yeah, that doesn't work. Eventually she calmed down and then her parents showed up to take her home.

Our friends had a house warming party, so we headed out there after our niece left. We had the tour and hung out for a couple hours before succumbing to our exhaustion.

Sunday November 27th - First Day of Church in a New Building

We go to church at Elevation, and we recently moved into a more permanent home sharing a building with St. John's Lutheran church in Waterloo (22 Willow St). If you're looking for a church home, check us out!

View Larger Map

Here's a picture I "borrowed" from the Elevation facebook page:

Friday, 23 November 2012

Day 75: First Snow

On Day 66 I talked about connecting with nature and paying attention to the beauty around us. I haven't given any updates since, and unfortunately it's because I've been so busy with school I haven't had as much time as I would like to soak in my surroundings.

But here is a picture from tonight's snowfall - the first of the year (that I've seen).

Snow on my Holly bush :)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Day 73: Reindeer Head Art

This idea is fairly simple and a lot of fun. Basically, we Google Image searched for a reindeer head silhouette and chose the first one. We printed it out to the desired size for our canvas and cut it out.

For this version (do first if doing both) you trace around the cut out reindeer head and then use white glue to fill the inside in. Sprinkle with glitter. Repeat as needed.

For this version we used the TEMPORARY spray adhesive, and sprayed the reindeer head. Centered it on the canvas and ensured every piece of the deer head was well adhered. Then I used regular spray adhesive and sprayed the entire canvas and glittered the entire canvas. After two coats, remove the reindeer head (using a small metal crafting spatula if possible).

Let me know if you have any questions or if my directions could be more clear.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Day 72: Reindeer Pillow

The pillow comes from the Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Crafts magazine but could easily be made with any reindeer silhouette found with a Google image search.

We made a number of modifications to the pattern to make it easier - and just for fun.  The first step is to trace the reindeer at full size facing two directions using a water-soluble pen or a pencil. Then cut them out and spray them with water to remove the pen.

We cut out 2 pieces of red wool (sized ~9"x14"). We then used temporary spray adhesive (sprayed onto the backs of the dried reindeer) to temporarily center the reindeer onto one piece of the red wool.

Instead of sewing the reindeer onto the wool, we used my mom's felting machine to merge the reindeer into the wool.

Once the top was done, we triple-stitched the top, bottom, and one side of the pillow (right sides facing out). As well we used white trim (with balls attached) instead of using individual felted balls. We attached the trim with the sewing machine to the side we initially sewed.

Then we stuffed the pillow and used the triple-stitch to close up the last side. Then we hand-sewed on the last piece of trim (easier than trying to fight with the sewing machine).

Monday, 19 November 2012

Day 71: Driving

I've been driving a lot lately and I was thinking about how I could spend that time. I know people that listen to audiobooks etc.

But what should I do?

In church on Sunday the minister mentioned Brother Lawrence and his routine to stay in the presence of God. Below are a couple excerpts from Brother Lawrences' The Practice of the Presence of God.

"At other times I beheld Him [God] in my heart as my Father, as my God. I worshipped Him the oftenest I could, keeping my mind in His holy presence and recalling it as often as I found it wandered from Him. I made this my business, not only at the appointed times of prayer but all the time; every hour, every minute, even in the height of my work, I drove from my mind everything that interrupted my thoughts of God."

"I have ceased all forms of devotion and set prayers except those to which my state requires. I make it my priority to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I maintain a simple attention and a fond regard for God, which I may call an actual presence of God. Or, to put it another way, it is an habitual, silent, and private conversation of the soul with God. This gives me much joy and contentment. In short, I am sure, beyond all doubt, that my soul has been with God above these past thirty years. I pass over many things that I may not be tedious to you."

It's my understanding that Brother Lawrence learned to be in the presence of God while doing what he considered to be a mundane task (which he was required to do very often) - kitchen duty. So I'm hoping that I'll be half as successful keeping myself in the presence of God during my rides in the car.

Weekend Re-cap Day 69/70

Saturday November 17th - Christmas Crafting

I had a great time crafting with my mom and sister this weekend. We accomplished a lot. I'll go into the details of the crafts later this week.

Sunday November 18th - First Day of Christmas Shopping

My mom and I did some preliminary shopping (mostly browsing) in St. Jacob's - a quaint little village with great shops.

One of the stores I really like is relatively new: Xclusive Elements. They have a great selection of larger gifts as well as a lot of potential stocking stuffers, good for guys or girls :)

Friday, 16 November 2012

Day 68: A Quote

A simple practice of intentionality: When I do it, my life is different. More purposeful, more conscioursly lived, more content with any action. ~Leo Babauta

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Day 67: Creativity is Not a Competition

I really love when people appreciate the products of my creative outlets, whatever they may be. But the thing that makes me SO SAD when talking to some people is that they say they could never make it, that they're not creative.

I can recognize that some people are more logical and others more creative. But I believe there are creative outlets for everyone and that creativity is not a competition. Often skills need to be developed and the same is true in art. Everyone is on their own journey to becoming and expressing their inner artist. And every inner artist is different.

Yes, we compare ourselves to others. We do this in many aspects of our lives, and in very few is this helpful. So I want to encourage everyone to embrace creativity, give something new a try.  For those people who are artsy and crafty, try something outside your normal box. And for those people that just aren't creative, maybe sign up for a class to learn composition, or pottery, or cupcake decorating. Pick something and give it a try - be brave!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Day 66: Connecting With Nature

Do you look outside your window when you drive? Make a point to stop and enjoy the scenery when you walk the dog? We live near the country and often I'm rushing because we've left late and I don't look out the window - I'm staring at the car in front of me, wishing it would go a little bit faster and missing a beautiful view.

My mini-mission for the next few weeks - pay attention to the wonderful things found in the nature around me. I'll keep you posted and try to capture a few pictures.

Here's a close-up of a really cool tree I saw recently:

And here's the lion in the redwood again:

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Day 65: Loosing Sleep is Not a Sacrifice

Maybe I should say it isn't REALLY a sacrifice. Not when compared to real sacrifices. Getting 8 hours of sleep a day is actually a gift. Maybe it's even a first world problem. In developing countries there are people work/away from home for over 14 hours a day to make ends meet, so chances are pretty high they're not going to get 8 full hours of sleep.

So when living intentionally leads to "sleep deprivation" and "sacrificing our sleep" to help others, I think it's okay. For our health, it's probably a good idea to aim for 8 hours on a regular basis, but we know we can function with less and it's such a small thing.

We drove with our friends to the airport to go through Customs and Immigration and to catch their flight to Bogota (their refugee claim was denied). We left home at 3am... and if you know us, you know that 7am is a stretch for us. But it was worth it so that we could pour every ounce of love into them before they left.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Day 64: The Process of Making a Quilt

The process of making a quilt really lends itself to intentional acts. There is plenty of time while sewing, ironing, and even cutting, to reflect on the people you're making the quilt for.

I always wonder and hope if they will appreciate the time and effort that went into creating it (it's always a lot, no matter the size of the quilt). I hope they like the colours I chose and that seeing it reminds them of me (or in this case the whole church) and that it will put a smile on their face when they might be feeling down.

Seems like a lot of pressure for a quilt... but the strength of the quilt can handle it. They're a strong art-form, meant to be used over and over, while still looking beautiful. It's made to absorb smiles and tears.

The quilting process also allows time to think about the people themselves that you're making the quilt for. Just think and remember.

I am very proud of the quilt we made for them, especially in such a short time. Thanks to my mom for the quilting and to Kelly for the help she gave me with the cutting :)

Sorry, if I seem to be posting the same topic over and over. It's just the way life has been lately.

Weekend Re-cap Day 62/63

Saturday, November 10th - Another Wedding :)

I must say I love weddings. They're a great reminder for me of the reasons I married Andrew, as well as the commitment we made to each other. Not that I really need reminding, but I feel as if I almost learn something  new about commitment at each wedding.

Their vows differed from ours (and I should have immediately written them down so I'd remember), but I really loved the wording. Small paraphrase: "I take you to be my friend, my love..." I just thought they were sweet :)

I'm also at the point (4 years into our marriage) that I realize the wedding is important because the friends and family also commit to helping you with your marriage. My advice to all married people - take their help, it can (should) only make your marriage stronger (this assumes you have nice family and friends, whose motives are to help your marriage). You don't necessarily want to share all your personal secrets as a couple, but if things are rocky or stressful, people can and will support you.

Sunday, November 11th - Remembrance Day

I explained on Friday how I feel about Remembrance Day, click here. So, it definitely involved some reflecting and some tears.

As a church, we also said goodbye to our friends whose refugee claim was denied and are returning back to Colombia early tomorrow morning. It was hard, really hard.

I gave them the quilt and memory book that was made for them, and they were really appreciative.