Tuesday, March 3, 2015

December Daily 2014

I am so happy to finally be able to share a completed December Daily album here. I came across the idea back in 2011 and of all the years I've attempted to start a December mini album, this past December was the only one I actually finished. It also happened to be one of our busiest. Go figure.

A lot of people tend to build their foundation pages ahead of time so they can be filled in as things happen. In 2012, I tried to prepare for my album ahead of time by setting aside products and cutting up base pages for my album but that didn't work out very well for me. I like to design my pages around photos and stories. Some days, I have more stories to tell, other days I don't have any stories at all, so I like the flexibility of not having the constraints of pre-planned pages. 

This means I don't create each page as the days carry on and I certainly don't have a finished album by the end of December but that's okay with me. It was important to me, however, to have this project completed before Baby arrived. So I followed a similar process as the one I used with my Project Life catch up.

I chose an old Studio Calico Handbook to house my December Daily. Then, every few days, I would go through my photos, pick out a photo or two for each day or decide on a story I wanted to highlight.  Based on the photos and stories I had, I sketched out the layout for each day and put the pocket page into the album, so it was ready for when I had the photos printed and inserts finished. After that, I went through the whole book again and filled in the empty spots with ephemera and other "generic" December/Christmas-related journaling.

Once I had the basic skeleton planned out, everything came together quickly. At first, I wanted to type all the journaling up so it would look more neat and uniform but I soon realized I was spending more trying to rewrite my stories so they would fit the small journaling spaces than finishing up the project so for the longer stories, I ended up handwriting. The good thing about working on the album as a whole instead of finishing each page at the end of the day is that you can't tell where I decided to stop typewriting and start handwriting; it's all mixed in together.

The last thing I worked on was the album cover - I wanted to paint it white. The finished look isn't quite as clean and even as I had envisioned but it's good enough for me. I also wanted to spell out "December" instead of just "DEC" but I didn't have alpha stickers in the right size that would fit into that label space so I just went with what I had. I also wanted to decorate the cover with Christmas-y themed embellishments but in the end, enamel dots were just the right thing to finish it off.

Up next, the inside look of my December Daily 2014 album.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Getting Messy

A couple Sundays ago, I found myself smack-dab in the middle of one of my worst nightmares. In the car, Nathan told me he wasn't feeling well then proceeded to vomit into a bag... that had a giant hole at the bottom. It took every ounce of strength for me to drive home without vomiting as well.

Over the next few hours, I poured all my energy into washing vomit out of the car and his clothes. Then I had to disinfect every surface he may have touched, and do all sorts of other cleaning to distract myself from the atrocity that was unfolding. It is so hard to have emetophobia and be empathetic and care for a sick child at the same time. Between cleaning and checking up on Nathan, I had to do something else calm myself down.

So I sat down to paint the cover of my December Daily album. Afterwards, Caleb decided he also wanted to paint so I let him use some watercolours. He did that for a bit but it wasn't enough for him - the colours weren't bold enough, the paint didn't "last" long enough. He wanted to use acrylics just like his mom. By this point, I was too exhausted to argue with him so I braced myself and let him go wild with my paints.

Caleb squeezed colours straight from the tube, moved them around the paper with his brush, then selected his next colour.

I have always wondered how people paint, especially abstractly. I've always been curious to know whether painters have a picture in their mind that they re-create on their canvas, or if they approach a blank canvas with nothing in mind, letting their brush move freely. Of course, I can't generalize and just say this is how all artists do it, but watching Caleb over the next half an hour gave me a little glimpse into maybe what happens inside the mind of an artist, or at the very least, in Caleb's mind.

As he chose colours, he explained to me that one side was the goodies (black) and the other side was the baddies (yellow). He added grey to help the goodies, then added colours to help the baddies. He'd drag one colour to touch the next, saying things like, "red is having a piggy back on yellow".

I can now understand his painting as not just a random smooching together of colour. There is a story behind why he chose certain colours and where they are on his page, why some colours are touching and some are not. One day, the story behind this painting will probably be forgotten but the beautiful art will still be there.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Grow | 10 Things I Learned in February

As part of my aim to take the word GROW and see how it fits into my life this year, I'm ending each month with some reflections on things I've learned and different ways I've grown (or not).

Here are 10 things I've learned in February...
  1. How to balance eggs
  2. 2015 seems like the year for me to get stuff done. I've had some items on my list since 2012 and somehow, they have been crossed off. It's not really by any planning on my part or anything. My body seems to have switched into a "get it done" mode so even when my body is tired and my brain feels like mush, I somehow push past that and get things done. Lego clean-up? Done. Sorting through the boys' clothes and packing up what they don't fit anymore? Done. Project Life 2012 albums? Done. December Daily 2014 mini album? Done. Project Life 2014 albums? Done. Nesting is real, people.
  3. I constantly need me-time to recharge. I've always known this but it's hard because I also enjoy going out, doing new things and being with my favourite people. But at the end of the day, if I don't get a concentrated dose of me time, I become irritated and burnt out, and I needed a reminder to fight for me-time to acknowledge this about myself.
  4. When friends give an open invitation for your boys to stay over at their house when we need it (i.e., when I go to the hospital), and also insist you call anytime, even in the middle of the night and they'll come over in their PJs so we don't have to wake the boys up, they're more than your friends. They are family.
  5. I want and need to learn how to be that kind of friend.
  6. I have now reached the point where my belly catches random drops of food because I cannot properly lean in to eat over my plate. It is getting big.
  7. That said, I have discovered just how irritating it is for people to say, over and over again, how huge my belly is getting. I never really had this problem the first two times around. I don't recall anyone really talking about my belly or how big it was, and so I didn't understand why it was such a big deal when some expectant mothers complain about people talking about the size of their belly. But now, I get it. And here's the thing. My belly is supposed  to be getting bigger - it means my child is growing inside me. I would be worried if it wasn't growing. Even so, is it really necessary for people to constantly point out a pregnant woman's belly? 
  8. How to make tortillas
  9. Being pregnant in the middle of Australian summer is so completely different from being pregnant in the middle of Canadian winter. My feet have never been more swollen and I have never used the A/C as much as I am using now.
  10. I'm getting a little anxious about the things coming up in the next couple of months.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Project Life 2015 | Week 01 + 02

I was originally planning on sharing my Project Life spreads by month this year but since we're at the end of February and I still haven't finished the last week of January, I'll just share what I have so far and go on from there.

This was a short week and I spent 48 of its hours re-assembling Lego sets so I kept things super simple.
See? I wasn't kidding.

I used a 6x8 Studio Calico handbook page protector with 4 pockets. One of the pockets was the date card for this week, two used Cathy Zielske's Instagram template, and the last one holds journaling on a Studio Calico card. Done.

This week was slightly busier. It was Andrew's last week off before starting orientation at his new job so we tried to pack in a few extra activities so the boys could spend some extra time with him.

I really liked doing strips of typed text on coloured backgrounds this week. I find it oddly therapeutic piecing the stories together that way. Andrew brought the boys to watch Penguins of Madagascar so I clipped their tickets to a card and cut a slit to tuck them in so we could have space for Andrew's journaling.

You can see the right side of the spread is quite journaling-heavy. For the past few years, I've been including a lot of photos, leaving very little space for journaling so this year I'm trying to shift the focus to recording our stories. This week, we had a lot of different "trying new things" and "being brave" stories that had to be documented.

Something I tried that was a little different on this spread was putting the date in the bottom right corner, as part of another card. When I finished sketching this spread, I realized I didn't leave any space for the date and that card was the only one with extra space left. I kind of like how it looks there, I might try doing it again.

See more of my Project Life 2015 here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Homemade Pizza Dough

Back when Andrew and I lived in Toronto, we used to buy frozen pizzas all the time. They were cheap and so convenient, which was great because our work schedules were so chaotic. And they were tasty - maybe a little too tasty. Once we moved to Brisbane and the boys got older, we finally accepted that frozen pizzas were no longer economical, and they really weren't very good for us. So we started making our own pizzas from scratch.

We seem to go through phases where we make certain dishes over and over again for dinner until we become tired of it. Lately, we've been going through a pizza phase. It's been especially nice this time around because Caleb is old enough to help out and will always join me in making the dough. As long as I make the dough far enough ahead of time for it to rise, it's a quick and easy dinner solution for us. The boys love choosing their own toppings, and assembling the pizzas as well if there's time.

I use a very simple recipe, adapted from one by The Pioneer Woman.

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 4 cups flour (I use 3 cups plain + 1 cup wholemeal)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  1. Combine warm water with instant yeast in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and olive oil. 
  3. Stir yeast mixture and pour into the large bowl, mixing until the dough is formed.
  4. Lightly coat dough with olive oil. Cover with a damp towel and let it rest for at least an hour. OR cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge until you need it.
To bake, preheat oven to 500°F/260°C then bake pizzas for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.


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