Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Let's Sketch It - July 2015 Sketchbook Challenge

The June sketchbook challenge was such a success that I have decided to keep it going as long as anyone wants to keep sketching with me :).  Alternately, you could also use the prompts as writing or journaling exercises.

So, since a new month is upon us - here are the prompts for July in case anyone wants to print them!! Happy sketching!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Friday Reads: Nothing Like Looking by Chris Van Hakes

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author herself.  Because we both like cheese - not because she was bribing me for a good review.  All thoughts in this good review are my own.

Some of you may recall when I reviewed Chris Van Hakes debut novel, Lost and Found...and I loved it. So, when she told me she wanted to send me a paper copy of her new book I was so excited!  You see, I've stalked her on social media for long enough to know when someone is pouring their whole soul into their work and that was exactly what she was doing.  She lit up in every word she wrote about her new novel.  It was impossible to resist wanting to read it.

Now, on with my recap and review

Nothing like Looking is a YA novel about a teenage girl named Reed Larsen.  She was recently expelled from her very christian high school after someone told the principal she was gay...a fact lacking in any truth at all.  Now Reed must go to the "snob school" where she feels she doesn't fit in and on day one she meets the most beautiful boy in the world, Mason.  Mason has a girlfriend (the beautiful and perfect Caroline of the pretty people tribe), but he takes an interest in being Reed's friend when he sees her reading The Hobbit.

Then the horrible secret of her old school comes back to haunt her when the over bearing, political type girl, Jett, tells Reed she knows she is gay and that she was expelled for it...and Reed, being too insecure to deny it, ends up admitting and lying that it is true.

Now that she is "out" at her new school, instead of being a social pariah, Reed is an instant celebrity and gains a certain respect from her peers.   Even worse, Mason feels "safe" with her and starts to form a close friendship with her - something only made more difficult by the growing romantic feelings she has for him.

Okay, I think I have kept the spoilers to a minimum there.  I'm just going to come right out and say it.  I LOVED this book.  I am a big fan of Rainbow Rowell and I can feel a great deal of inspiration come from that direction but this work is all Chris.  The way she has captured the tension of high school friendships and the uncertainty of teenagers figuring themselves out was exquisite.   So much love and attention went into the development of each of the characters that they just shone on the pages.

There were moments when I found myself thinking "Geez - just tell them already!" but I had to stop myself.  Because the character was a teenager and she was merely acting the way a real, insecure teenager would.

I loved how the story tied itself together through the character relationships.  They FELT real.  They had quirks and insecurities, but they worked through them or outgrew the friendships.

Now that I am finished reading it, I plan to pass my copy along to a teen in my life who I think will really love it.  I think the messages of individualism and growth are good for her to read.

And you?  Well, you need to go buy this one now.  Just do it.  It'll be the best $4 you can spend this month.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Let's Sketch It - June 2015 Sketchbook Challenge

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen the little sketchbook challenge I am hosting.  I figured maybe I should post more info and a printable prompts list here so people can easily tuck a copy inside their sketch books!

How to play along:

Each day in June, simply sketch something to go with the prompt.  Have fun with it.  Then snap a photo and post it on your favourite Social Media outlet using the hashtag #letssketchit   I think most people will be playing on Instagram and that is where I, personally, will be posting and checking everything out from.  Any medium.  Any size.  No rules...Just sketch.  At the end of the month, not only will you probably have a full little sketchbook, but you might just have a new drawing habit to go along with it!

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 28, 2015


So, this week, I started fresh.   Hubby and I are on a mission to clean up the crappy diets that started while I was recovering from my fractured tibia and to start moving again.  So I ran...twice so far.  And I did it before the girls were up - just like I used to when I was on mat leave...

I got to enjoy the peace of the morning in Langdon...

4k each time...

...and I feel great.

Don't get me wrong...these were HARD runs.  SLOW runs.  These HURT!  A LOT!   But I know that if I persevere, I will get there.  Back to where I used to be.  I just have to keep going and stop making excuses.  

This weekend is Calgary Marathon.  It will be the second year that I have missed participating.  But I promise you all this - I WILL be back next year.  Probably to run the 10k just because I like it.

I still owe you all a race report for the Mother's Day Race.  It is coming.  I just need a couple extra hours to get it done...

Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday Reads: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

If you've been following my blog for any amount of time at all, you know I am all about my fantasy books.  When I found this one, I was on the hunt for something with a strong female protagonist.  I'm still not sure if that is what I found...but it was still a fairly entertaining read.

In a nutshell, Nora goes away for a weekend to attend a friends wedding.  Unfortunately her evil ex is also there.  To forget about him for a while, she grabs a book and heads off for a hike in the woods to find some solitude for a while.  As she is wandering around, she begins to realize she might be lost...and ends up finding an old cemetery, surrounded by an iron fence.   After reading the inscription on one of the tombstones, she walks out of the gate and realizes she really is lost.  Shortly, she finds herself in the middle of a grand estate.  The only thing she doesn't realize is that the "estate" belongs to the queen of the Faitoren people.  Nora is in a different world!

In the months that pass, she is swept up into a series of extravagant parties and the charms of the prince, Raclin.  On a picnic one day, she accidentally wanders out of the Faitoren territory and meets the wizard who gives her a token in case she ever needs to be saved from the Faitoren.  At the time, she thinks his warnings ridiculous.

And then she marries Raclin...and her life becomes a living hell as the only reason they wanted her was to continue the Faitoren race.   After a brutal attack one day that nearly kills her and does claim her unborn child, she activates the token and Arundiel (the wizard) saves her life and, eventually, makes her his apprentice.

I don't want to tell too much.  This book contained everything I look for in a book, but I am not sure if it all fits together that well.  At times, Nora came across with some strength and then other times she fell into being a "typical woman" and I say that with disparagement.   I didn't like when she would revert into simpering and bemoaning.   I much preferred when she was leading missions to save those she grew to love.  But in retrospect - really, she was just as most of us actually are.  Strong when we need to be, overcome when we feel to be, and as human as we want to be.

I enjoyed the book, though I did feel there were many parts that were entirely too predictable and others that just lasted far too long.  It is a long-ish book but it is a captivating story that will draw you in.  It would be a good one to read in the backyard this summer.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My New Reality

I've been a stay at home mom for two months now!  Seriously - ALREADY!  How did that happen?  I realized I never really did a post on how things have been going in my new reality and that it was about time I did.

Well, in a nutshell:  It's been DIFFERENT.  And it's been VERY, VERY busy!

When the girls were first born, I stayed home with them for nearly 2 years.  I even started this blog during that time and my life then was so much different than it is this time around.  Back then, Langdon was quite different.  There wasn't a doctor or a grocery store or even a good coffee shop.  And with two babies/toddlers and no car during the week, I was fairly restricted on my interactions with other people.  So we stayed at home...all the time.

Now - Langdon is almost a stand alone town.  We have a grocery and a decent pharmacy.  There is a doctors office (about to be 2 doctor offices), a pretty coffee house, a Tim Hortons...and most of all - two girls who ride two wheelers and have friends from school.  I am meeting moms and getting to know them...and trying to convince them that I am not some glamourous trophy wife who could afford to abandon her job to stay home at a time when they are all facing having to go back to work.  It's take two months, but I think they are starting to understand that when I bring the girls to school - it is the start of my work day.

Work is going well.  I enjoy being able to set my own hours and the company I am working for is fantastic.  They understand my time constraints and that my kiddos come first.  They know I will get my hours in even if it means an hour a day.  I couldn't ask for a better situation there.  That's not to say it isn't hectic.  There are only so many ways to talk about on hold messaging...but I'd like to think I'm doing pretty well :)  

And running my own business has been fun as well.  Though when it comes time to produce product for my shop - my days get VERY long.  There is only so much I can do around the girls when they are in a mood to "help".  I am looking forward to Fall when they are in school full time and I will have all that much more time to create products and market my shop.

Life as a stay at home mom in a small town is interesting right now.  We are establishing routines that don't involve the television being on for most of the day.  The girls are loving the warmer weather and spend a lot of time outside.  Doodle recently tore a ligament in her right knee falling off her bike so she's had to slow down a fair bit while it heals, but it doesn't stop us from strapping on her knee brace and going for walks and bike rides.  The kids are great pace bikes as I am working my way back to a regular running habit.  One of the other moms on my block has been my accountability partner since she wants to learn to run...so we go a few mornings a week.  There's more walking than running right now, but that will change.  Right now, we're building the habit.

Walking the girls to school has given me an automatic 4k of walking everyday so I am definitely more active than I have been in a while and the walking has been great rehab for my tibia.  Much of the tenderness is gone now.  It is rare that I feel a tweak at the break site.  It's nice to be pain free.

So time has been flying by in my new reality.  I am really liking it.  Much of the anxiety I was having in my old job has melted away (probably since I am not in the worst desk in the office anymore) and I am able to concentrate on my kids.  I had my first reward for this decision at the end of the first month when Doodle's report card came back saying "(Doodle) has shown considerable restraint over the past month in controlling her emotions".  That is a huge win that goes to show what a couple extra hours of sleep can do for a kid and the impact that more parent time can inspire.   I think the girls are thriving and that this really was the best decision for our family.  I know it makes it much harder for hubby to leave us in the mornings to go to work, but with the shortened commute - even he gets more time in with us in the evenings.  It's like a win-win all around.

I'm so happy we could make this new reality.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Review: SHP Planners

Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Pinterest knows I have a slight thing for notebooks and planners.  Heck - I even started a company to sell them!   For the past year, I have been using a paper planner again to keep my mind in the game and make sure nothing gets missed.   My discbound system has been awesome, but it hasn't stopped me from drooling over a couple of different coil bound systems - the Erin Condren Life Planner and the Plum Paper Planner.   Sad thing is, though, that shipping from the US is PROHIBITIVELY expensive.  Sure - I know people down there who would be happy to order and ship for me at a much cheaper price...but the planners themseves are still expensive too.  Now that I am a Stay at home mom - it is part of my job to make sure I don't bankrupt us.

But then an Instagram friend shared a new Canadian Etsy store with me - SHPPlanners.   Oh my gosh.  They make coil bound planners that are very similar to the two I have been drooling over...but for MUCH cheaper and with $6 shipping (to me anyway - I'm in Alberta, they are in Vancouver...it might be more expensive to ship further east).  All of my reservations melted away and the order was placed in seconds!

It shipped the day after I ordered it, which amazed me!  I expect that may slow down a bit as they get busier - they are a fairly new Etsy seller.  And then it got here in about a week.  I loved that I could specify the start month.  But what I really loved was having the opportunity to support a small Canadian seller.  THAT is super important in this age of online shopping.

So - I'm pretty happy with it...and I'm not sure when I became this person...but I did my first video review...I may do more going forward if this is well received....so here goes.