Riding the bus home from Lethbridge was relaxing! I read some of this book, took a nap, and watched a movie (I get all the Frozen references now :)). All three are rare treats for me.
I recently realized that food - learning, cooking, eating, growing (a little bit) - is a hobby of mine. This book ties right into that; love it!
When sorting through books earlier this month, the girls wanted to donate Pollyanna even though no one had read it. I thought it would be a shame to let it go without reading it, so I'm reading it to the younger girls (8 and 11) and we're all loving it! Plus, I hadn't read to them for quite some time, so it's been nice to do that again.
I read quite a bit, but it's not often I read a book just for fun. I picked this up at the new Little Free Library in our neighbourhood a couple weeks ago, and I'm glad I did! Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
P.S. This is my 2500th post on this blog! (10.25 years)
Neil made this delicious soup for lunch today: Corn and Red Bell Pepper Chowder with Kielbasa - using our homemade bison-pork kielbasa sausage, bison stock (in place of chicken stock), and both red and yellow peppers. The recipe is from a perennial favourite of ours, The Big Book of Soups and Stews.
A great deal of cooking happens at our house (thanks Neil!) and while we often use the Internet for recipes, we still love and use cookbooks. Here are our top 10 most frequently used cookbooks or series of cookbooks or magazines (yes, we're sneaking in a few more this way!):
For a listing of this month's participants, see 10 Things at Shimelle.com.
I took this photo in the park on Monday evening. I'm so glad I ran across a similar photo from last summer which inspired me to get this photo for "finding our tribe." Dash is on the left.
The girls having been having a fun week. Neil took them (including B) swimming at the Sandra Schmirler on Monday, bowling at the Golden Mile on Tuesday, and to PlayEscapes (-B) on Wednesday afternoon. There were several other kids there that they know. This afternoon, Georgia enjoyed a playdate at Henry's house. The girls have also been playing with Zoe (neighbour) at every opportunity.
The girls' swimming lessons end tomorrow. I look forward to going along on their last day. Neil says he's going to miss swimming lessons because he gets to sit and read all morning. (He's enjoying the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson.) All three are doing quite well so I'm sure they'll pass. They won't have swimming lessons again until next summer.
Sophia and Madeline are super excited about going to camp in a few days. They have already started packing, but we will spend quite a bit of time this weekend making sure they have everything they need and that it's all labeled. The list of supplies they require is quite long! The weather looks great for their camp days -- sunny and hot. I don't think they'll be cold at night, but I hope they don't get any severe storms!
I'm off work now until August 8th! Woohoo! And, other than driving the girls to and from camp, I'm staying home the whole time! I love that. I will be working practically the whole time (housework, paperwork, yard work, BSS work), but that's okay. Actually, it's GREAT! I have so much to do. All progress will be thrilling! (I always remind myself that any progress is good because I can never get everything done.)
The past couple of weeks, I have been doing a lot of extra work for Bite-sized Scrapbooking in addition to my usual weekly tasks:
I was delighted to realize I had captured "exploration" on Sunday without thinking about the prompt at the time. My girls -- especially Sophia (in pink) -- are always exploring like this. I love how curious they are!
Yesterday morning, I was listening to the radio and heard about the Loggerhead Shrike, an endangered bird species, being in southern Saskatchewan right now. Anyone who sees one is asked to report the sighting. I thought this bird (also known as the "Butcher Bird") sounded quite interesting, so I mentioned it to the kids. We spent the next few minutes looking up images on the Internet. Later, at school, Sophia was required to write a short story in English. Based on our conversation and brief research, she wrote about the Loggerhead Shrike. :)
Last week, I scribbled down a few things that the girls are "into" right now:
I've been wanting to do this, and now seemed like the perfect time! (Neil helped and it only took a few minutes.) Inspired by Meg Duerksen and my rainbow board on Pinterest (@kkbyrns).* It's amazing how much neater this looks than random or other placement. These shelves are in Georgia's room and she's delighted with the new arrangement. She asked excitedly, "Can we keep it this way?!" Why, of course! Although I suspect it won't stay this way for long. Also, we need to go through these books and give some away. There are more books below these shelves, and many more in Sophia and Madeline's room. And we *have* given away quite a few children's books in the past. They seem to multiply at our house!
Georgia attended her very last day of preschool today. Originally, they were going to go to the spray pad, but thanks to today's forecast for rain (which didn't materialize, thank goodness), they went on Wednesday instead. Today, they made dirt cups (chocolate pudding, cookie crumbs, and gummy worms) to celebrate the end of the school year.
After Georgia was home from school, she wanted me to pull her tooth which was quite loose (this is her second; she lost the first one in early December 2010). I think this is the first time I've actually pulled a child's tooth out; they've all come out on their own -- but she insisted I do it. And then it bled quite a bit! Oh well. She's over it and is very excited about the tooth fairy coming tonight (fingers crossed!).
The girls' school was supposed to do their annual Walk Around Wascana today but it didn't happen as planned, either. Madeline's class (and a few others) walked to Wascana Centre yesterday. They played in the park for awhile before walking back, but didn't walk around the lake. Sophia's class (and a couple others, including Bronwyn's) walked to the park and back this morning. They didn't spend any time there and were back by the end of first recess. Normally, they spend the whole day on this activity. It turned out to be a very nice day today, so it's too bad everything didn't go ahead as usual. And now, just three days of school remain for the older girls. This month has flown by! I look forward to updating the calendar less frequently over the next two months. :)
*I miss Pinterest! I haven't been there for weeks. Too busy with Picture Color and blogging this month, but I'll be back.
This was a tough one. I'm not sure these cookbooks were the best subject for the prompt as they don't show off the ambient light very well, but I ran out of time and couldn't think of anything better. At least I've captured a little slice of life at our house (which I'm tempted to reshoot in better light!).
Ten books I'm planning to read:
Hmmm, what does this list say about me? I think it's pretty obvious: I'm a big fan of food, scrapbooking, photography, organizing, self-help, life, awesomeness, and non-fiction!
This post is part of a new series by the students of Shimelle's workshop, Beyond Blogging for Scrapbookers. This month's participants are listed here: 10 Things.
We have this one volunteer giant pansy in our yard. I think it qualifies as a "punch of color that cannot be denied." Right now, it's by far the most successful thing growing in our patch of annual flowers.
I was very happy to clear some stuff out of our house today. The Diabetes Association picked up a couple bags of clothes and shoes of mine, and I donated a number of household items and toys to a garage sale fundraiser being held by Georgia's preschool tomorrow. I probably could have tripled our donations if I had had more time to gather things over the past couple weeks. I will continue to purge and donate through the summer. It feels so great to get rid of stuff! That reminds me, I'm reading Organized Simplicity: A Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider. I'm only on the 3rd chapter, but I really like it so far.
Neil made this yummy souvlaki dinner for us today. The tzatziki sauce is Alton Brown's recipe, and it is awesome!
This morning, I attended a great presentation by author Joseph Grenny on the subject of Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success. Powerful information! I look forward to reading the book -- and changing some things. :)
P.S. Watch this Change Anything video for more information.
Bonne Maman jam-jars-turned-drinking-glasses. I started saving these jars to use as drinking glasses when someone mentioned doing this in one of my Picture classes last year. They're great everyday glasses for us -- a nice size and easily replaced if broken (which has happened). I like 'em!
The past week has been eventful with a few significant news events, plus a few things more specific to my family. I've been wanting to post something all week but these days have been too full! (I'm off work this afternoon. Yay!)
Friday: The Royal Wedding of Will and Kate. Until about two days before the wedding, I was quite oblivious. It was so far off my radar, I probably would have had trouble saying who was getting married! Then I must have read a blog or something that made me realize it was kind of a big deal: these two will become king and queen someday, right? So I decided to pay more attention and tell my girls about the royal wedding. They had no idea. We didn't watch it live, but later Friday morning, watched some of the rebroadcast on YouTube. I had asked Neil to record it on the PVR, which he did, but we didn't bother watching it on the TV. It turns out The Royal Channel on YouTube is great for seeing the highlights! When I left for my haircut appointment on Friday morning, the girls and Georgia's friend, Henry, were watching the rebroadcast on YouTube (which you couldn't fast forward). Waiting for the balcony scene, Georgia kept saying, "When are they gonna smooch? When are they gonna smoooooch?!"
Saturday: Dinner at our friends' home. Great food and great company! And our kids and dogs play together so well. We will definitely have them over to our house for dinner sometime -- but in the summer when we can eat outside. Our dining room is not very good for entertaining.
Sunday: The end of Osama Bin Laden. I was snoozing (after laying down with Madeline) when Neil woke me to tell me the news. The first and only thing I did was check Twitter. I've discovered recently that I much prefer to see how people are reacting to news over seeing or hearing the news in other media. It has been almost ten years since we first heard that name. It's good to know the bad guys can't hide forever.
Monday: Canada's federal election. I will not "talk politics." It's not in me. But I will say, I was more interested than usual due to the surprising results: the Conservatives won a majority, the NDP became the official opposition for the first time ever, the Liberals had their worst showing ever (I think), the BQ was practically decimated (save 4 seats), and the Green party won their first elected seat. Crazy times, people. I was quite glued to my Twitter and Facebook streams along side the real-time results on CBC.ca.
Tuesday: Top Chef Canada. (Ha ha, totally not a big deal, but I thought I'd fill in the week!) Neil and I watched it after the hockey game. I love the Top Chef series, and this Canadian version is getting better as it moves along and people are knocked out. I tend to prefer the latter half of all seasons -- except Top Chef All Stars, which I thought was great all the way through.
Wednesday: The Book of Even More Awesome book signing. I love The Book of Awesome. It makes me smile and laugh out loud and that's why I decided to go see the author, Neil Pasricha, at Chapters on Wednesday evening. Georgia came with me (while Neil took Madeline to her piano lesson and Sophia was in Avonlea). I bought the new book when we got there so I could get both signed. I really enjoyed his short talk. He went into his background a little and the reasons why he started the blog, 1000 Awesome Things (these are covered in his excellent TED Talk: The 3 A's of awesome -- watch this if you haven't already!). He also shared a bit of his recent experience in NYC where he appeared on The Today Show the day before. I'm very glad we went. Plus, we saw a rainbow on the way -- which is always awesome, don't you think? And (if you're reading) it was great to see you there, Tein!
Thursday: Teachers' job action. There was no school yesterday due to the teachers' one-day strike. We're lucky it didn't inconvenience us at all since Neil stays home with the kids, and it turned out to be quite a fun day for the girls. Sophia and Bronwyn were in Avonlea at their grandparents' house. Madeline and Georgia were home with Neil. They trimmed the hedges in our front yard (okay, maybe not fun for them, but I'm glad it's done!), went to Costco, and then Madeline and Georgia went for a playdate at the home of one of M's classmates who lives nearby.
Thursday: Natural gas leak. SaskEnergy located a natural gas leak in the back alley directly behind our yard. EEK. Well, they found it and fixed it without incident, so that's good! This would not be so disconcerting if it weren't for some recent explosions in our city. Very strange.
And, oh, wasn't it beautiful outside last evening?! I spent an hour in the back yard doing some after-winter clean up. We have a new neighbour on the west side who is always out in her yard doing this and that. It's, uh, rather motivating -- she can see our yard through the fence and it ain't pretty!
Easter morning. The girls enjoyed their little indoor hunt for treats. I love that they automatically put everything on the table and divide it evenly before digging in. Madeline made a couple comments I enjoyed: "Mom, Mom! You know those plastic eggs we have? The Easter Bunny REUSED them!" and "The Easter Bunny didn't hide things very well. If I just STAND there, I can see a bunch of eggs." :)
Other life and family updates from this crazy month:
I have a new giveaway over at my Bite-sized Scrapbooking website this week, sponsored by Allison Davis from Sketch Support. If you like sketches, be sure to hop over now and enter to win Sketches for Scrapbooking Volumes 6 & 7 by Debbie Sanders and Allison Davis!
This giveaway ends on April 21, and is open to everyone, no matter where you live!
I'm excited to be offering my first giveaway this week! It's Wendy Smedley's new book,
Start Scrapbooking. If you're interested, please hop over to my Bite-sized Scrapbooking website and enter to win!
This giveaway ends on April 7, and is only for those with an address in the US or Canada.
If you're OUTSIDE the US and Canada, I also have a giveaway for you! You may enter to win an eBook from Ella Publishing!
As I mentioned on March 21, I've been printing my TypePad blog in Blurb books using their BookSmart software. This software can quickly "slurp" blog posts into it, and it allows you to easily get photos from your computer if you need a higher resolution than what you had on your blog. Since I've made many books from blog posts using this software, I've become quite familiar with the process. I'm sure I could write for hours about it, but I'm just going to cover my biggest tips and then you can ask me questions if you have any. Also, I'm talking about TypePad here because that's my only experience, but some of these tips may apply to Blogger, as well.
Tip #1: Look for missing text. Always have your blog open to the post you're working on and compare it to the text that was slurped into BookSmart. Unless something has changed recently, [edit: I just checked and this is still the case] there is almost always a problem with missing text before links, bold text, italics, and sometimes with bullet points. (Plus, bulleted lists always need to be hand-formatted because the line breaks disappear.) Here's a screen shot I took the last time I was making a book that shows exactly what I mean by missing text and having your blog open to compare. Click on the image to enlarge and take a closer look.
Tip #2: Create a style guide. If you're going to be making more than one book from your blog and you want them to be consistent, then take some time during your first book creation to document the style decisions you're making. Feel free to look at my style guide: Download ATK-books.pdf (52.4K). This document has been a life saver for me because it's often many months between making books and I don't remember the details. You'll see that my books are not fancy! There is so much more you could do, but these are the decisions I made with my first book, and I'm sticking with them. It helps me finish faster. And I really like consistency.
Here are a few images of what my books look like on the outside and inside. Please note: this is nowhere near the number of different page layouts available or even what I use in my books. For posts with photos, I always choose a page layout based on the number and orientation of the photos, and that varies greatly. For posts without photos, I always choose a two-column layout, but there are other options.
Tip #3: Decide on comments and URLs. Decide up front whether or not you want to include comments. BookSmart does not slurp comments from TypePad blogs (I don't know about other platforms), so I copy and paste all comments into my books. It's very tedious work, but I like having them saved. Also, decide if you want to include link URLs (BookSmart gives you the option for this). I started doing that and so I continue, but sometimes I wish I hadn't. And sometimes I just delete them if I need more space, or if they're a long string of characters that no one would ever type into a browser.
Tip #4: Set your headers at the end. If you set your right and left header text at some point during your book creation and then move, add, or delete any pages, your headers will get mixed up. It's best to set them at the end (and check them before uploading your book to Blurb).
Tip #5: Decide on your standard time period. When I started making these books in 2007, I was at the peak of my blogging frequency. I decided four months (about 120 pages) was enough for each book (plus it took many hours to complete those and I just wanted to get them printed already!). I have continued with the four-month span for all of my books, but in hindsight, I wish I had gone with six months or even a year. I've had a few four-month periods in which I didn't blog as often, resulting in less than 80 pages. For those, I added blank pages at the end so I could have text on the spine. It's going to depend on how often you blog, how long your posts are typically, and how big you want your books to be. Also, each time you start a book, BookSmart will slurp your entire blog. You can't preselect the time period. What I do then is deselect all posts (with one click) and then go through and select the posts during the period for which I'm making the book.
Well, I hope that helps in some way! Feel free to ask any questions! I'll leave you with a look at all of my book covers so far (I took screenshots inside my Blurb account and then compiled them into this image). I wish I had put an image on the cover of the very first book I made. Live and learn!
This was the first week of Picture Inspiration, a year of weekly inspiration (prompts, challenges, and projects) from Tracey Clark at Big Picture Classes. The first prompt -- called "This is all about you" because this community/class was born out of student desire to keep going after Picture Winter ended -- was to take a self-portrait. I'm glad I tackled this on Saturday afternoon. I was feeling very happy and content that day,* so even though one invariably feels somewhat fake and silly taking big smiley photos of themselves, I really did feel how I look in this photo and I like that I was able to capture it. I took this photo in our main floor bathroom because it has the best light and least cluttered background. It took 77 shots to get this one (about 10 minutes). The glare on my glasses was a big challenge (as well as focus, composition, etc.) and I just kept shooting until I found the right angle. I was holding the camera with my left hand. I like this photo so much that I promptly changed my profile pic everywhere! (After removing the dull-blue colour from the background, which I didn't care for.)
*I must add that while I was in a fine mood anyway, it was my reading of The Happiness Project, Chapter 8: Contemplate the Heavens, as I waited during Sophia's piano lesson, that lifted my mood to a new height. I don't know exactly why it had this effect on me, but I felt almost giddy after reading that chapter. It was wonderful and I can't help but smile now as I recall that moment. (Yes, I've been reading this book for a long time; I just picked it up again after several months.)
It was Madeline's 8th birthday today, so of course she's the centre of attention! Also, I love capturing this smile and it is near the centre of the photo. :) This was taken at Sophia's game this evening. I tried to get a good picture of M with her birthday cake and candles, but it wasn't meant to be.
We gave Madeline her gifts in the morning before I went to work. She received a real twirling baton and a little Zhu Zhu Pets bed and blanket. She has wanted a baton for a long time and had no idea she was getting one for her birthday; however, she did see the long triangular box that arrived in the mail a couple weeks before Christmas and was very curious about what might be inside. She could not figure out what could possibly be that shape and she asked about it many times. It was fun to finally give it to her.
I took an earlier bus home after work (arriving home at 4:55 p.m.), so we'd have a few extra minutes for birthday cake. Neil baked the confetti cake and made fluffy frosting during the day. We ate our supper soon after I got home, and then I quickly frosted the cake -- half pink and half green at Madeline's request. We sang Happy Birthday, ate some cake, and then headed out the door by 6:00 p.m. to go to Sophia's ringette game. It was nice that Bronwyn was with us for the birthday cake, too. (Laurel picked her up at the rink.)
At bedtime, I read to Madeline alone (i.e., without Sophia). We do this occasionally anyway, but today, I made sure to read what Madeline wanted. She has been enjoying the Help Me Be Good series (by Joy Berry) for several weeks now, and today was no exception. I always read the main part of the book and we assign speaking parts for the cartoon-like illustrations. She loves reading these books with me.