Wednesday, 26 November 2014

25 Days of Christmas Photo Challenge

I have seen a few photo challenges floating around the internet and decided to make my own for the 25 days before Christmas (starting December 1st).  I hope to post these each day, but if I happen to miss a day please forgive me.  Exam time crazyness will be hitting right in the middle of the challenge.  I think that these photos would be really cool to put in a yearly photo book (something that I hope to do someday... although, that day is not today).  It is always nice to use our creative side, and I am hoping that this challenge will bring that out for me.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Hazelnut Wreath Ornament Tutorial

I am obsessed with rustic Christmas decor this year (and probably will be next year too).  I have been trying to stock up on tree ornaments, but those darn things are expensive!  So, I decided to make these little hazelnut wreaths for our tree.

Let me start by saying that nuts with the shell are way more expensive than I anticipated.  Who knew?  But from a $25 bag of mixed nuts from bulk barn (which contained hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds) I made 36 ornaments.  Way more than I thought I would be able to make.  So all in all I call this project a success.

Also, I think this would be a fun project to do with kids because their little fingers would be good at arranging the wreaths while you (the adult) works the hot glue gun.

So lets get to the fun stuff!

What you will need:

-Hazelnuts with their shell (the amount is a little tricky because mine were mixed nuts [I bought around 3 lbs] and I picked out the hazelnuts... but you use 7-8 nuts per ornament)

-Hot glue gun

-Canning jar lid (I used one from a narrow mouth quart jar - I found the wide mouth to be too big)

-Clear aerosol lacquer to seal

-Raffia, Ribbon, or Baker's Twine for bows (see this post for how I tied my bows)

-Ornament hooks for hanging

The Steps:

1.  If you bought mixed nuts like me, separate the hazelnuts out into a bowl.  Trust me, you will need to work quickly and won't have time to be rooting around for hazelnuts amongst the rest of nuts.

2.  Place 7-8 (depending on size) hazelnuts in a ring in the canning jar lid.

3.  This is the harder part.  You need to put a dot of hot glue on one hazelnut, then quickly squish its neighbour onto it before the hot glue hardens.  The upside, if you mess up it is easy to scrape off the hardened hot glue and try again.  I found the best technique was to slide two hazelnuts apart with my left index finger and thumb, drop a dot of hot glue onto the side of one of them and then quickly slide them back together.

*at no point are you hot gluing the hazelnut to the jar lid. The lid is just to help make the "wreath" round

4.  Trim off all the hot glue "strings" and let the wreath sit for a few minutes until the glue is fully hardened.  I used two jar lids, so I would make one wreath then leave it sitting in the lid until I finished with my second wreath.  By that time the first one was cooled.

Before trimming the hot glue "strings"
5.  Lacquer both sides of the wreath.  Make sure you pick up your lacquer and not a can of primer... Oops.

That's better

6.  Last thing you need to do is add a bow to top off the wreath.  I give a step-by-step on how to tie the perfect bow here, which also happens to be the perfect size for this project.

Now all that is left to do is find a spot on your tree to hang these!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Oh Hey Friday - Friday Favorites

Hey there!  How was your week??  Hope it was awesome.  I am so excited for this weekend for two reasons, (1) Brett is coming to visit me and (2) we are Christmas shopping!  So, I want to start the weekend off right with a few good reads I found on the blog Nurse Loves Farmer (as you can tell by her blog name, she is a nurse and a farmer's wife).  When I first heard about Sarah's blog I was all "I'm a farmer's wife, I'm a baby nurse [aka nursing student], this blog and I were meant for each other!"  Then I found out that her family farms in Alberta (our neighbouring province).  I was a match made in blog heaven is what I am saying.  That being said, she doesn't actually know who I am...  But it doesn't stop me from loving her posts.  So for this Oh Hey Friday, lets take a look at my favourite posts from the Nurse Loves Farmer blog.  As usual I am linking up with The Farmer's Wife and September FARM - click on those links to check out more of the Oh Hey Friday link up. 

1.  If I Were a Food Activist.

2.  Coventional and Organic Agriculture Myths.  The title of this one is pretty self-explanatory.  I like that she is real about there not being a set right or wrong choice in this battle, but just because you choose organic doesn't mean that you get to slander people who choose conventional.

3.  Farming Requires Faith Like a Mustard Seed.  Lots of truth in this post.  I love this quote from the post: "We try to control what we can control, but you have to do your best with what God and nature throw at you."

4.  The Truth About Glyphosate and Wheat.  I read this post right after I read an article from a different source titled "The Real Reason Why Wheat is Toxic" (which I won't link here because I refuse to spread propaganda and falsehoods on this blog).  It is a good reminder to think about where you are getting your information from.  Also, glyphosate is more commonly known as Roundup - if you were curious.

5.  The Skinny on Modern Wheat.

Hope you can enjoy a few of those reads this weekend!  See ya on Monday!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

How to Tie a Bow Using a Potato Masher

Yes, you did read that title right.  I don't know if you have seen all the tutorials of how to tie a bow using a fork floating around Pinterest.  That technique was pretty revolutionary for how I tackled bow tying.  However, those turn out so small that I never really had any use for them.  So I set out on a quest one night to find a tool that would work like a fork but would give me larger bows.  Enter the potato masher.  It works perfectly because you can use it to make two different bow sizes.

I used the middle three "tines" and it makes about a 2" wide bow, which was exactly what I was looking for for a tutorial that will be coming soon.

The Steps:

1. First off, I used my legs to hold the potato masher, if you couldn't tell in the photos - a girl only has so many hands.  Take a length of ribbon/string/etc.  I used raffia for a rustic look (something to note is that if you are tying a lot of bows with this red raffia, it will stain your fingers red...).  I left one end attached to the spool so I wasted less.  For this tutorial, the "loose end" will refer to the end of string not attached to a spool.  If you are using it where both ends are unattached, just pick any end.

2. Loop your string under the tines.  I used the middle "W" of my potato masher to make 2" bows.  You could use the outer tines as well to make something larger.

3. Wrap the loose end of string around the tines several times (the more times you wrap, the more strings you will have in your bow loop).  Make sure that the loose end is below the attached end.  You can see in the photo how I kept it underneath (this is important for when you go to tie your knot).

4. Thread the loose end over the wrapped pieces, underneath and then back up between the wrapped pieces and the "u" of the middle masher tine.  Basically you twist it with the attached end, then make a loop around the wrapped pieces (this forms the middle part of the bow that separated each looped end).  Here is an enlarged photo of the step:

5. Tie both ends of the string (loose and attached) into a double knot.

6. Snip the attached end so that it is the same length as the loose end and slip the bow off the masher.  You are done!

Hope these directions made sense.  I realize that step 4 is pretty confusing.  If you are struggling with any of these steps please do not hesitate to ask a question in the comments or send me a message on the facebook page.  No question is silly, I am always happy to help and to connect with readers!

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Inevitable...

There comes that inevitable point in one's university career that you are just plain burnt out.  This past month has really been that for me.  This is my fifth year in university... Ugh, it sounds even worse when I say it out loud.  Five years for an undergrad degree isn't a ridiculous amount of time, I know this.  There are lots of people who have needed to take longer to finish up, and that is totally fine.  But I do not envy those people, that is for sure.  Because I tell you what, five years has felt like an eternity.

Don't get me wrong, I have had some truly amazing times on this journey.  I met my husband here, made some friends who are more like family than anything else, and found my calling and passion in nursing.  But to the people who say college will be the best time of your whole life... I sincerely hope that that is not going to be the case in my life.

I know that part of this recent burn out has to do with some of my classes just not being my passion.  I realize that they are important and necessary for a well rounded nursing education, but this term has just not been my thing.  And I need to remind myself that that's okay.  No one is going to love every class they ever have to take - or even every second of their career.  You just have to be stubborn and push through - and if there is anything that I am good at it is being stubborn (or so my husband tells me).

The other thing getting me through: I just cannot wait to get started on my final practicum.  Final practicum is basically an internship for nurses.  You get paired with an RN and spend a whole term (yay!) learning on the job in an area of your interest.  I am just so excited to further develop my interests in nursing.  There are just so many opportunities in this field, and I can't wait to explore them more.

In the mean time, I will be trying my best to remind myself that good things do come to those who wait.

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?  I would love some inspiration from you on this Monday!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Buying Glasses - Why is it so Hard?!

Well, it is that time again.  And by that time I mean time to upgrade my glasses.  Getting new glasses always fills me full of excitement panic.  It fills me full of panic.  I don't know what it is about having to decide on glasses but it makes me so nervous - you have to commit to that accessory (that you will likely wear every single day) for a whole two years!  Plus they are super expensive.  I usually get my glasses somewhere cheap (because I am generally a little cheap).  But this year I decided it was time to upgrade and get myself some big girl glasses that I hopefully will like for a long time, so that I don't have to go through this agonising decision process again.  As a nursing student/soon-to-be nurse, contacts just aren't happening for a 12 hour shift - so I wear my glasses all the time.

My new specs should be arriving next week (be prepared for selfies when they do) but in the mean time, these are the top five glasses I'm loving right now:

1.  Tortoiseshell is my absolute favorite glasses style at this moment.  Definitely what I will be going with this time around.  There is just something so classy about it, plus it is neutral and goes with everything.

2.  Two tone is a cool way to mix it up.  Also, this lady looks so amazing in glasses.  I think she is a specific glasses model because I have seen her in a ton of glasses adds on Pinterest.

3. I feel silly wearing a true cat eye, but I absolutely love the style.  Especially these Tom Ford ones:


4. Blue frames.  No explanation, I just like blue frames.  These Tory Burch ones are amazing:

5. Rose Gold... Ah rose gold, it makes me so sad that I can't wear you (I feel like I am the only person in the world whose skin tone clashes with rose gold)...


Do you wear glasses?  Any favorite styles that you've been seeing a lot of lately?  I would love to hear!

P.S. - This was an Oh Hey Friday link-up with  The Farmer's Wife and September FARM - click on those links to check out more of the Oh Hey Friday link up.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Christmas Shopping Tips + Free Printable

Hello there!  The middle of November is officially here and so is my Christmas mood.  I like to try get my holiday shopping done before December if at all possible.  I do this for a couple of reasons.  I like to get to the mall before things are too picked over and I am not a fan of huge mall crowds.  Also, I like to have Brett come with me, so to avoid a full on husband pout I find it is best to go when things are as slow as possible.

We have learned a lot during our joint shopping trips over the years.  Lesson number one is always go in with a plan.  There is nothing more frustrating for me than getting to the mall to Christmas shop, but not really having a set direction or knowing exactly what I am buying each person on my list.  I find if I don't pre-plan these things I also end up spending way more money than I wanted to.  I also like to map out what stores I need to go to and find the most efficient way to go from one area of the city to another (the less city driving for us farm folk the better).  Along with your plan, I find it best to have a well organized list.  I made up this free printable:

To get this print, click on the image.  It should open up larger in its own window type thing.  Next, right click on the enlarged image and save to your computer.  From there you can go to your photo viewer and print (make sure you choose the right size of paper, 8.5x11).

Lesson number two that we have learned is to either eat before you go, or plan a set meal time.  Brett and I do all our shopping in one afternoon or evening, and it is easy to forget lunch or supper time when you are really into it.  But the best way to have a pouty husband on your hands is to not feed him, so trust me when I say build in a meal time.

Do you like to do your shopping ahead of time?  Or are you one of those people who like the bustle of the mall?

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Funny Thing About a Wedding

I realized as I was reading the Huffington Post wedding section (I think I am developing an addiction... There is just so many interesting opinion pieces!) that for a blog with "Married" in the title, I haven't been writing a whole lot of wedding/marriage posts lately.  I happened upon this post by Marta Segal Block and was inspired.

I hadn't really realized the effect that the media (in all forms, Pinterest included) has had on weddings - especially on the brides.  There is a lot of pressure on engaged couples these days - with news and magazine articles about celebrity weddings, Pins about "having a unique wedding", "how to lose weight before the big day" and "how to plan the perfect ceremony".  First, there is no such thing as perfect, especially when you are trying to wrangle a wedding party and a couple hundred guests at a single event (really, it just ends up being a whole lot of cat herding).  Second, what happened to the day of putting on the best dress you have in your closet, walking down to the church with a few friends and relatives, getting married with the same vows everyone else says and calling it a day?  The end result is the same, you are still married at the end of it all.

I don't know that I quite understand all the pressure to have the coolest most unique wedding.  Brett and I have always been the type of couple who did our own thing - it is just how we are.  I couldn't really care less what other people did at their weddings - least of all celebrities (except, of course, for Will and Kate. I talk more about my royal obsession here).  When we first started wedding planning my dad left me with the warning "weddings always turn into being about everyone else, so be ready for that.  They never seem to actually be about the bride and groom."  I definitely think that there is some truth to that.  I think one of the biggest reasons brides feel pressure to have the most perfect and unique wedding has a whole lot to do with the fact that we are so worried about how everyone else is going to see us.

I'm here to remind you that your wedding should never be about anything more than inviting your friends and family to join you as you pledge your life to another person.  And the fastest way to end up having issues between you and your groom, is to lose sight of that fact.

That isn't to say that you can't do something different with your wedding.  But I would ask yourself whether that actually reflects you and your partner as a couple.  Are you getting married underwater because you both love deep sea diving and it means a lot to you as a couple?  Or are you doing it to put on a show for your guests and have it be something cool that they haven't seen before?  You don't need to do something different just for the sake of being unique.  In a weird way, having a "unique" wedding now days is almost the least unique option - because everyone is trying to be unique, therefore by being unique you are really just following another trend (well that was confusing.... still with me?).

The funny thing about a wedding is, no matter where you say your vows, whether you wrote them yourself or not, no matter where you have your reception or how you decorate your venue; at the end of the day you still end up married to your best friend.  Isn't that what weddings should be about?

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Fall Favorites

Fall is slowly turning into winter here in Saskatchewan.  As of right now there is no snow, but I can feel it coming.  As the weather turns, it really makes me feel like curling up under a blanket with a book and hibernating until spring.  As I am curling up with that book, I like to have a nice cup of tea.  I am not a coffee person, nor do I think I ever will be.  To be totally honest, the smell of Starbucks coffee (sorry Starbucks) makes me feel extremely nauseous, and some other types of coffee will turn my stomach too sometimes.  That being said, Starbucks serves Tazo vanilla rooibos.  *insert angels singing here*.  Seriously, it is that good.

If I am on the go and cannot enjoy my tea at home, I always put it into a contigo mug (sometimes even when I am at home).  I haven't had a mug that keeps stuff as hot as this one does, also it is super handy because you only need one hand to drink from it. 

I am officially in love with these Metis mukluks (also, I am getting a pair for Christmas!  Woohoo!).  I can't wait for Christmas and snow so that I can go for a walk while keeping my feet toasty warm.  My mom has an old pair of mukluks and they are the warmest boots ever - I can't wait to have my own.  Also, Manitobah mukluk works with Canadian Aboriginal artists on many of their beading designs - it is nice to support something that is such a piece of our Canadian culture.

When I said I like to read a book with my tea, I actually meant Hello Magazine.  Brett teases me and says that Hello magazine is only for women over 65 but I disagree.  How else would I find out what is happening with Will and Kate?  It is possible that I am obsessed with the royals...

What are some of your favorite things to transition you from fall to winter?

Monday, 3 November 2014

Things learned over the weekend

We had an overall good Halloween weekend at the farm.  We had remarkably good weather considering it almost always snows on Halloween night here (no snow yet!).  I got a paper written, Brett got more farm work done, and we got some things around the yard accomplished (like putting up our outdoor Christmas lights before that snow shows up).  We even learned some lessons along the way:

1.  Before being annoyed for two years about your house not having an outdoor porch light, you should look a little closer at the ceiling.  As it turns out, we do have a light and all it needed was a new bulb.  #rookiemistake

2.  There is a reason why many people do not go all out on Christmas lights... Which leads me to numbers 3 and 4.

3.  When your husband accidentally drops a glass Christmas light bulb from the top of the ladder, it might shatter on the ground so explosively that you get shrapnel in the face.  I have never been more thankful for glasses.

4.  Even though you can lean a ladder against a spruce tree to try get lights to the top, does not mean that you should lean a ladder against a spruce tree to get lights all the way to the top.  Exhibit A:

This picture does not capture the stupidity of what we were doing nearly enough.

5.  Putting up Christmas light can go one of two ways:
     Option 1 - your marriage may almost break up because you waited to late to put up the lights, it is freezing cold and snowing and all of your new lights aren't working (yes this was us last year - obviously I am kidding about the breaking up part, but there was a lot of rage happening).
     Option 2 - practice makes perfect... You start earlier in the year when the weather is still good, you've checked all the lights before hand and know they work and your husband is being so hilarious that you almost pee in your pants laughing (thank goodness this was us this year).
     Option 3 - never take your Christmas lights down (this might be us next year)... Because even if you can have fun with it, putting up lights is still a bad job.

Have a lovely Monday!!