Friday, 25 July 2014

Oh Hey Friday - My Very First Link Up

Hey!  Hope your week was a good one.  Today I am participating in my very first "link up".  The idea behind Link ups are to "link up" bloggers with each other using one button (see below) and a common topic.  If you are a blogger and want to participate, follow the link back to the hosts at September Farm and The Farmer's Wife to get the button to publish on your page.  The basic idea is to make a list of five things (anything goes).

I have had some serious shopping on the brain this past week, so this is going to be a list of my favorite summer outfit pieces.

1.  This jersey knit skirt from The GAP.  I bought this skirt over the past weekend.  Mine is a solid color (I bought it in both grey and black), but for some reason the clothes that were in my local store and online were slightly different.  In any case, this is the most comfortable skirt (probably most comfortable thing) I own.  It wouldn't have been something that I would have tried on if I didn't see Brett's cousin wearing one (she was the one who directed me to it).  It looks really nice, and is so comfy and cool.

2.  This top, also from The GAP.  I got two of these tops to match the above skirts.  Generally I wouldn't wear a 3/4 length sleeve, boat neck top in summer (especially with the hot and humid weather we've been getting lately).  But these are nice and light and super breathable.

3.  I mentioned this top from Le Chateau a while ago.  It is really light, but it keeps the sun off of my shoulders if I am going to be outside on a hot day (this fair skin needs all the sun protection it can get).

4.  Mom and Dad brought me these earrings back from a trip they recently took to Wyoming.  Aren't they gorgeous?  I love the colors, and that they aren't too heavy.  Also, I don't know how I have survived for this long without prescription sunglasses.

5.  These Heartsoul Scrub pants.  If you are in a profession where you need to wear scrubs, you need to track these pants down.  These are probably the only thing that could challenge the skirt from above for most comfortable piece of clothing ever.

Do you have any favorite summer pieces?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments.  Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Our Adoption Story - cat adoption that is

There is a hilarious commercial that I see every once in a while that explains our pet adoption quite well.  I tried to find a video link for it but sadly could not, so you will have to deal with my poor explanation.

Basically, how things go down is a newly married couple has just bought a house.

Husband: "Now that we have all this room and a yard we can have-"
Wife (cuts husband off): "A baby!"
Husband: "No, I was thinking a dog."
Wife: "A baby..."
Husband: "You mean a puppy?... Like, a baby dog?..."

I kill myself laughing to this every time I see it because it is sooo true.  I wanted (cough... want... cough) a baby so bad.  But thanks to school, it really isn't the perfect time for us to have kids.  So to try and ease my baby fever, and give me someone for company when I was in the city at school, we decided to get a cat sometime after we got back from our honeymoon.

How can you not love that face?

 Brett wasn't totally sold on the idea of a cat at first.  I think that a big part of him was doing it to appease me (as he is a self-proclaimed dog person).  But that lasted a whole of about 5 minutes after bringing George home.

 We weren't sure what age of animal we would want.  We were worried about bad habits if we got an older one.  But we were also worried about litter training/destructiveness if we got a kitten, so we tried to go into the shelter with an open mind.  That ended up being the best decision we could have made.

He loves his cuddles (and so does George... haha).

We got to the shelter around lunch time on July 20th last year.  The girls at Moose Jaw Humane Society were really friendly and helpful and took us into the back to see the cats.  They discussed with us what we wanted from our pet, etc. and took us to see the kittens first.  The first thing I saw was about five kittens clawing the screen to their room.  With visions of our brand new leather couches in shreds dancing through our minds, we asked if we could maybe take a look at the adult cats.

George on our way home from the animal shelter.
I thought I wanted a black cat and Brett thought he wanted an orange one, and we had both decided that a short haired cat was the right move because we didn't want to deal with too much shedding.  A couple of cats jumped out at us right off the bat.  Then there was the dilemma of choosing.  If you have never experienced the torture of trying to choose one animal to take home with you from an animal shelter, let me tell you, it's not easy.  Even though Moose Jaw Humane Society is a no kill shelter and they treat their animals really well, you just can't help but feel the need to save them all.

Austin was complaining to me about her chemistry course... This was my very witty response.
 In the midst of trying to make that difficult decision I was pacing around (also known as trying not to make it obvious to the girl working there that I was nearing tears... I was worried she would think I was a crazy person).  I noticed one cat that we hadn't seen before.  He was in the last kennel at the very end of the row, sort of hidden.  He was looking around with curious eyes, but seemed very calm, just hanging out.  I asked the girl if we could see him and pet him.  She opened the kennel, Brett and I gave him a few pets and he started purring.  We looked at his info posted on his kennel door and saw that he had been in the shelter since the beginning of March - months longer than all of the other cats.  At that moment we knew.  There was no way we could leave him there.

Less than an hour later we were on our way home with a new little being in our truck.  As it turns out, he was the most perfect addition to our family.

George was the perfect cat for Brett particularly, as I would say he has more of a dog like personality.  He greets you when you get home, wants to cuddle and be around you, and plays fetch.  Yes people, our cat plays fetch.

Our house feels so much more like a home with George in it.  It is kind of silly how a cat can become such an important thing in your life, but he is.  Thank you so much Moose Jaw Humane Society for uniting us with our first "baby".

He says he's not a cat person...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Happy Birthday Austin!

I know, two consecutive birthday posts!  Mom says that having Austin the day after her birthday was the best birthday gift she has ever gotten.  I'd say that it is the best gift our whole family got.  We just wouldn't be the same without our youngest member.

A little sister is like a built in best friend - at least for us it was.  It doesn't matter how much we fight or disagree, in an hour we have gotten over it and are best friends again.  I know that she will always be there for me when I need her.  She will be what I need her to be at that moment, be it cheerleader, confidant, secret keeper or shoulder to cry on.

Austin is strong, resilient, and as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

As kids, we were together basically one hundred percent of the time.  Austin would tell you that she thinks this was frustrating for me.  What you don't know, Austin, is how very much I leaned on you and found comfort in your presence at my side.  You gave me the confidence to accomplish what I never could have on my own, and for that I must thank you.

One of my favorite movies and books is "In Her Shoes".  Austin knows this well, as she was often the one forced to watch the movie (IE: cry to the movie) over and over and over with me - this is also a testament to her great patience.

In this movie, the younger sister recites a poem to the older; I have always felt like this poem explains the love between Austin and I - for the love between sisters is something truly special.  Austin recited it during her toast to the bride speech at my wedding (causing me some seriously ugly tears).  Austin, be thankful that you can cry in the comfort of your own home.

In all seriousness, every word of this is true when it comes to my love for Austin:

"I carry your heart with me.  I carry it in my heart.  I am never without it.   Anywhere I go, you go, my dear.  And whatever is done by only me... is your doing my darling.  I fear no fate... for you are my fate, my sweet.  I want no world, for, beautiful... you are my world, my true.  Here is the deepest secret no one know.  Here is the root of the root... and the bud of the bud... and the sky of the sky of a tree called life... which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide.  It is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart.  I carry your heart.  I carry it in my heart."

I don't know where I would be without you Austin.  I am so very proud of you and love you so much.  I wish you the happiest birthday and many more to follow.

There is no better friend than a sister, and no better sister than you.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my lovely mother's birthday!  Today, we celebrate how much we love you mom; but, I hope you know that I am thankful every day that I have you for a mom.  You are such a good example of the kind of wife and mother I want to be for Brett and our future children.

When I was a teenager, I thought that I was destined to end up in the city as soon as I was done high school.  Now that I am back close to home, I honestly can't imagine not spending the rest of my life just 30 minutes away from Mom's house.

I thought that when I grew up and got married, I wouldn't need her guidance.  But what I am learning, is I am relying on her even more now.  Yes, Brett is my partner and best friend - but you just can't replace a mother's touch or comfort when you are sad or worried.  And you can't beat mom telling you how proud she is of you when you've had a success.

My whole life, I never had to worry that she would love me any less, or judge me for a mistake.  I knew that she loved me unconditionally and no matter what.  I think that is a big part of why we have always been so close.  I can only pray to be able to create the relationship with my future kids that she did with my sister and I.

Mom, you are the strongest woman I know - and I am so proud to say I am your daughter.

I quoted a verse from "So God Made a Farmer" here.  I recently read a different version by Brandi from the blog Lipstick and Tractors.  You can read the whole thing here.  I feel like these verses explain Mom perfectly, and it is these things that make me so proud of her.

God said: I need somebody strong enough to clean out bins and heave bales, yet gentle enough to raise kids and bottle feed calves and tend to the house, who will drive the tractor and pray to God about the weather.  It had to be somebody who'd be able to handle the house and field work and not cut corners.  Somebody to seed, weed, feed, wash and dry, cook and clean, remember scheduled events... and finish a hard weeks work with a five-mile drive to church.

Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when her daughter says she wants to spend her life "doing what mom does".
So God made a farmer's wife.

I don't know what we would all do without you Mom.  We love you so much, happy birthday!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

How to Survive Night Shifts

I was so nervous for my first night shifts.  I had heard horror stories from other nurses about getting sick on shift because of sleep deprivation, never being able to sleep during the day, staying awake for 3 days in a row for your three shifts...  Keep in mind that I have so far been working as a care aid on long term care (because I am endlessly in nursing school - one more year, one more year.... but I digress).  So things tend to be less hectic on night shift than you would find on a busy medicine ward, labour and delivery (babies don't stop their arrival just because it is the middle of the night), or somewhere like the emergency department.  However, I have found that I actually prefer my night shifts to my day shifts.  I am certainly no expert on this topic, but these are some of the tricks that I find get me through night shifts:

1.  It's all about the transition.  If you have a bad transition from day-time living to nocturnal living, then you're in trouble.  I start transitioning the night before my up-coming night shift.  For instance, if I am going to start a night shift at 7pm Saturday night, then I will start my transition on Friday night.  I stay up as late as I can on Friday night (usually I only make it until 3am) by trying to stay productive.  I usually make all my lunches and organize them for the coming shifts.  Sometimes I will even bake.  Then I go to bed and sleep in until 10am (Saturday morning).  I get up for a few hours, do some light house work and try to stay relaxed.  By 1pm I try to get back to bed and sleep for another 4 hours or so.  I usually find I start my night shifts better rested than I would start a series of day shifts.

2.  Don't eat to stay awake.  A ton of nurses eat to stay awake - probably every night shift worker in the world has done it once in their lives.  But it can be really detrimental to your health - and when you are already leaning towards sleep deprived, your body needs all the help it can get.  So if you must snack, go for healthy things like celery with cheese, grapes, an apple, carrots...etc.

3.  Pack lighter meals.  Nothing will make me feel crappier at 1 or 2am than a heavy meal.  I try to pack things like a salad with some chicken breast pieces, or a healthy homemade soup (try this beef vegetable one).  It should be something with a light protein to keep you full (and keep snack cravings at bay) but nothing heavy enough to feel like there's a brick sitting in your stomach.

4.  Try to limit your caffeine intake.  Lots of night shift workers swear by coffee and energy drinks, but the caffeine high (and inevitable drop) that these lead to can cause some serious hangover type feelings.  And they can prevent you from being able to sleep when your shift is done.  If you can, try stick to a caffeinated beverage that isn't quite as intense.  I like to drink mint green tea (it is also great for your immune system and metabolism) or chai tea, which are both caffeinated but not nearly as much as coffee or an energy drink.

5.  When you are feeling like you're going to fall asleep, stretch.  We probably all should be doing this anyway when we are at work to prevent injuries - but what busy nurse or care aid actually has time (especially on day shift).  But during those lulls on the night shift (when you are also apt to fall asleep) is a great time to do a quick stretch to both refresh and wake you up.

6.  Try to still eat a meal with your significant other, even if it is just breakfast.  It is so important to spend time together, and that can become difficult when you are gone when they are home.  On night shift, breakfast basically becomes supper so take that time to catch up with your spouse.

Are you a night shift worker?  What are some of your best tricks for surviving a night shift?
Have a lovely day!  Or night!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Around the Farm + a Mini "Photo Shoot"

Things are going good around the farm these days (knock on wood... I don't want to jinx it!).  Brett and I took a drive to our land (our rented land) to see our mustard, which is in full bloom.  It is so beautiful right now!

A photo shoot ensued (p.s. - we planned for the photo shoot, sadly we do not go crop checking looking like this):

Sometimes it feels like I'm living in a Chevy commercial

Handsome husband

You're bound to get one weird running photo when using a camera timer... Someday I will have a camera that I can use a wireless shutter release with...
Hope your week is off to a good start!  Lucky me, I get to re-certify my CPR today at 1pm (after 12 hour night shifts Saturday and Sunday).

I'd say this applies really well to my day ahead:

Have a good Monday!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Kitchen Tips

As far as I know, most people really get into the baking spirit around Christmas time...  Never one to follow the trends, I think I feel the most like baking during the summer.  It probably has something to do with the fact that I should not be baking on a hot summer afternoon - but there really is nothing like a fresh peach pie with vanilla ice cream on a summer evening.

This afternoon, to try assuage my desire to be baking, I figured I would round up my top kitchen tips.  These are handy pieces of info that have either been passed down to me by the women in my family or things that I have probably learned the hard way.

1.  First, I have three words: Full Body Apron!  Speaking of learning things the hard way... If I had a quarter for every time I managed to splash some form of kitchen grease onto a nice shirt, I'd be able to buy a whole lot more shirts.  Trust me when I say, it is never worth it to cook without a full body apron.  Those short waist and down aprons won't do either - I don't know about you, but right above belly button level is where I usually manage to splash myself.  If you're feeling like breaking out the sewing machine here is my simple chef's apron tutorial.

2.  Get to know some common cooking and baking substitutions.  This is a huge time saver, and for those of us who aren't near a grocery store that is open at all hours cooking substitutions can save your whole recipe.  These are my most used substitutions.

3.  Find a no-fail recipe that always works for you and make it your signature.  This can be anything from salad, to cookies, to a great way to make potatoes.  There will inevitably be events where you are required to bring some sort of dish; these events will be made a million times easier if you have something that always works for you.

4.  Cornstarch makes everything better.  That may be a little bit of an overstatement.  But when it comes to baked goods such as cookies and muffins, nothing will make them as soft and moist as cornstarch.  I add 1-2 tsps (even though most muffin and cookie recipes won't call for it).

5.  Even though margerine is an appropriate substitute for butter, butter will always be better for baking.  I try to buy a lot at once and freeze it (it freezes really well) so I always have some on hand.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Homemade Beef Vegetable Soup Recipe

I recently had some left over steak from a bbq cooked and frozen taking up spaced in my freezer, so I decided to cook up some soup.  I didn't use a recipe, just stuff I had around the kitchen.  I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but as it happens it ended up tasting wonderful.  I figured it wouldn't be fair not to share this great soup recipe.  It is definitely something that I will make again.

The recipe:

I added a little bit of seasoning to taste (just some salt and garlic powder), but my tomatoes came pre-seasoned and beef broth is so salty on its own that I found this soup didn't really need a lot of extra seasoning.  The handy part of this recipe is that most things can be found in your kitchen already.  The beef can be any kind (as I said, I used steak - but roast beef or stewing beef would work great as well) and the vegetables don't have to be canned.  Fresh veggies would probably take this recipe to a whole other level.

The soup freezes great as well (I froze a bunch of individual portions for my 12hr shifts - there's nothing like homemade soup in the middle of a night shift).


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Weekend Rundown

Hey there!  Hope your weekend was great.  We had a good one here.

On Friday we helped some good friends set up for their wedding and then went to the rehearsal.  Brett was one of the groomsmen.

Saturday was the wedding!  We had been looking forward to this one for a long time now and it did not disappoint.  The bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome - and the ceremony was extremely touching.

Unfortunately, I was much to busy enjoying myself to take any decent pictures.  But here are a few anyway.

I used this tutorial to do my hair in a french twist and it worked amazing!

The groomsmen serenaded the couple.
On Sunday, we came home to some beautiful blooming flowers.  I was so happy to see the roses I transplanted from different areas in our yard are really starting to thrive again.

Friday, 4 July 2014

DIY Towel Wrap Tutorial

Hi there!  If you are reading this from Canada, I hope you had a great July 1st.  If you are reading this from the U.S. then I hope you are enjoying your July 4th celebrations.  Are you looking for a DIY project for the weekend?

I saw these towel wraps at Target one day while wandering through.  I figured they would be nice to get ready in (rather than getting ready in my bathrobe, which I usually end up over heating in).  As I am always on the hunt for a great DIY, I picked up a couple of nice towels and decided that I would try to make my own.  This would be a great gift to add to a spa package or something to make to take along to the beach, now that it is finally nice out.  I like making my own because it is not only cheaper, but you can also personalize it to the size you want and to match your bathing suit.  At the same time as I made mine, I also whipped up a toddler size one for my cousin's little girl.  Both tutorials are below (and are basically the same except I added straps to the toddler one).

What you will need:

1.   (a) large bath towel ~ for the women's size
      (b) hand towel ~ for the toddler size
I used these towels from Target, but I would suggest you consider using something that has a tighter weave.  I love the plush texture of these, but they weren't the easiest to sew.  I found that the loops caught in my machine sometimes, which was a little annoying.  But if you think that won't bother you, then these would be a good choice.
2.   Pins
3.   Ribbon (for the toddler size only)
4.   1" wide Velcro
5.   (a) 1" wide elastic
length should equal measurement taken just above bust (IE where you want the towel to sit) minus 6" 
for instance, around my bust is 30" so my elastic was 24" long
      (b) 1" wide elastic using the same above formula to determine length
6.   Ruler (or tape measure)
7.   Scissors

Step 1(a) - for the women's size

Step 1(b) - for the toddler's size

Step 2

Step 3
The below picture is of the toddler size, but the adult size works the exact same.  It is easiest to pin these while it is on your body so you know how tight to make it.

You're done!!  Enjoy wrapping up in this cozy cover up.
Hope you have a lovely weekend!