DIY Project: Felt Flower Gift Topper

I have found a benefit to spending countless hours on Pinterest, it inspires you to get your creative on! I found this felt on sale at Michael’s and thought it would help me get going on my first craft tutorial!

This post was completely inspired by a post from Stacie @ http://befickle.blogspot.com 

She created these flowers for a Mother’s Day brooch. Her tutorial is awesome and you should really check out her blog, so many great crafty ideas.

Over the next few weeks I am challenging myself to try a bunch of flower tutorials and will document my efforts/disasters here! Stay tuned…

OK, let’s get started. You will need:

  • one piece of felt
  • a sharp pair of scissors
  • a black pen to trace the circles on the felt
  • a cup, empty container or card cut into about a 4.5 cm circle (or 3 inches)
  • a glue gun and glue sticks
  • a pretty button to finish it off! (Sorry the button didn’t make it into the picture, I am still learning!)

I used an empty apple sauce container and traced 6 circles onto the felt for the petals.

I flipped over the container and traced around the bottom to get the base for my felt flower. The circle is just slightly smaller than the petals, but don’t sweat it, the base could just be the same size as the petals.

Time to get cutting…

This is what I ended up with…

The next step is to fold the circle in half…

Then fold one corner of your petal over by about a third.

And then fold the other side of your petal over to make an S shape. Use your glue gun at the tip of the petal and put a few glue dots in the folds to hold the petal together.

Next glue each petal to the base making sure to place them right next to each other.

After you glue all of the petals to the base fluff up the petals a bit to get something that looks like this:

Now you can pick out a pretty button to glue in the middle and you are done! Easy peasy right? And cute too.

You could follow Stacie’s tutorial and turn this into a brooch, or glue on a hair clip or follow me and make a present topper.

Isn’t this so much better than a ribbon? 10 minutes, about .50 cents and you there you go. Let me know what you think…happy crafting!

My Newest Obsession: Pinterest

I would like to introduce you to my newest obsession:

OK, I have to come clean and really admit to the amount of time I spent on Pinterest this summer. Ummm, it was a lot. Hours, maybe days…who knows? I am head-over-heels in love.

According to the Pinterest about page:

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

It is just like an inspiration board that so many self-help books and therapists urge people to create. Except that now you don’t have to hunt through magazines for images to tear out and glue on a piece of bristol board.

When you sign up for an account  @ http://pinterest.com  you install a widget on your browser’s tool board that lets you ‘pin’ all of the interesting things that you find when out surfing. Instead of bookmarking a site or subscribing to a blog you pin a visual picture of what you are interested in.


I use it as a catalogue of inspiration. It was a great resource this summer for craft ideas and saved my girls and I from many boring afternoons. I plan on posting a few craft tutorials on some of our more successful attempts.

Sign up and start creating your own pinboards on whatever is important to you. Be careful though, it is totally addicting.

The Math Myth

I just finished reading a fantastic and inspiring book, The Myth of Ability: Nuturing Mathematical Ability in Every Child, by John Mighton.


The book gives an account of how Mighton started his charitable tutoring program called JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies). I had heard about the JUMP math program from other parents and read a few articles in the media. I was finally inspired to read the book after my daughter was teased at school for her low mark on a math test.

When I was growing up I believed that I was the type of student who just ‘didn’t get’ math. I moved around a lot and missed many key mathematical concepts and struggled to catch up at each new school. I failed grade 8 math and went to summer school and almost failed that too. My father’s idea of helping me overcome my challenge was to have me write 100 lines a day of, ‘I love math’, over and over again. Lets just say it didn’t help me get through grade 9 math.

The concept that Mighton stresses the most in this book is the myth that some students have the ability to do math and some just don’t. He shows that anyone can learn math and anyone can teach it. Just reading that sentence is a struggle for someone like me. His approach to teaching math is to isolate and describe each step in a math problem so that no knowledge is assumed and that any student can understand how to complete it successfully. Several studies have shown definitive evidence that this program works.

Mighton is an interesting guy. In his late 20′s he was an award-winning playwright who earned extra money as a math tutor. As he worked with students and learned how to break down each problem to its element he reignited his own interest in mathematics and went back to school in his late 20′s to earn a PhD in mathematics. His kitchen table was the birthplace of his charitable organization that has helped thousands of children learn that they do have the ability to understand and excel at math.

My daughter and I are working our way through the first workbook. Unlike other workbooks we have used she actually enjoys it. Her success motivates and helps  build confidence in her ability. I won’t let her buy in to our society’s belief that some people ‘get math’ and some people don’t. We can all understand it.

How about you? Did you struggle with math? Do your kids? I would love to hear about your experiences with math or the JUMP program.

A Prescription for Stress

I have lost a bit of my spark. That bright light and energy that makes you accomplish things. When I worked at a traditional job my spark was the pay cheque or the grumpy boss that was breathing down my neck or the desire for affirmation and recognition. Deadlines in school or work projects applied pressure and motivated me to get things done. Stress can be a positive force if managed correctly and I think I need a prescription.

I just returned from a friend’s cottage and it gave me the time and space to think about energy. We spent a lot of time together as a family lounging on the dock, splashing in the water and enjoying the peace and quiet. It was relaxing and so easy to get lulled into vacation mode. I think I might be stuck in that mode. Just as it is on vacation, you can get a few things done but nothing is really pressing or urgent. If it doesn’t get done, no worries, there is always tomorrow.


We drove home yesterday and my husband and I molted our lazy skin and worked together to get the packing chaos organized quickly so we would be ready for the week ahead. It made me realize that energy comes from purpose. Steve Chandler explains it so succinctly in his book, 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself. He points out the difference between people who set and achieve goals all day, and people who just do whatever comes up, is knowing your purpose and being motivated by it.

I think we all know that. In my life I get distracted by all the other bits and bobs and lose my spark in the frenzy of the every day. Without the outside pressure or deadlines its easy to push your goals to the side when life gets busy or something comes up.

It’s time to fill my prescription for stress and focus on the spark.

My Quest for Healthy Homemade Granola Bars

Granola bars are so easy.  I buy boxes of them at the grocery store and love the convenience of popping a few in my purse for snack emergencies.

It’s hard not to feel guilty as I pass them over to my kids.  Really they are just processed, sugary snacks that could be healthier.  I buy President’s Choice Rich and Chewy Granola Bars with chocolate chips. A 28 gram serving has 110 calories and 9 grams of sugar. I became determined to find a better option.

I started with Grab ‘n Go Crispy Granola Bars from the Sneaky Chef  http://www.thesneakychef.com/free_recipe_granola_bar.php.

On my first try the bars totally fell apart, they tasted oily and my kids wouldn’t touch them.  I went online to see other’s reviews of the recipe and found a fix from the Sneaky Chef.  I tried it and once again was very disappointed with the result.

Then finally, a recipe that works, tastes great and is packed with nutrition. The following is a modified version from Ehow member, gottalovelattes.

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1 cup non-fat dry mild powder
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 4 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray the bottom and sides of a 13″ x 9″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  In a separate bowl, using a whisk, mix egg whites, honey, apple sauce and brown sugar until incorporated.  Add the oil and vanilla and mix well.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use your hands to mix well.  Add the chocolate chips and mix to combine.

Fold the mixture into the baking pan and pack it down firmly.  Place the pan into the oven and bake 18 – 24 minutes until golden brown.

While the pan is still warm, cut into small bars or squares.  The granola bars can be stored in a container for up to a week or frozen in ziploc bags to enjoy later.

So yummy!

To view the original recipe: www.ehow.com/how_4681113_granola-bars-kids-will-love.html

Books are the Heart of a Home

I get a little twitchy when I visit someone’s home and I can’t see a book or even a magazine.  Like a junkie looking for a fix I look for books and the  debris of readers.

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Books are like furniture in my home.  Stacks on bookshelves and spilling over the coffee table.  Bags of library books by the door ready to return.  They are literally the heart of my home.  I feel lost if I am not in the middle of a story.  I always wonder what people do if they don’t read?

The ultimate escape, a book leads you on a journey, takes you places you never would have ventured and could not have imagined.  They teach, make you laugh till you cry or cry till you laugh.  Reading about someone is the best way to gain empathy, to experience a life that is not yours.

This weekend I finished two books from two totally different worlds.  The first, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shafer and Annie Barrows is a book of letters documenting the lives of the society members in post-war Guernsey.

A quirky tale of the experiences of residents of the English Channel Island of Guernsey which was occupied by German forces during World War II.  The images of heroism and suffering the writers paint leave an imprint on the reader.  It’s a short book that will shadow me for years to come.

The second book, “Orange is the New Black” by Piper Kerman is a memoir of her experience in a women’s prison.

I can’t say I loved this one.  The author is a privileged young college graduate who gets caught up in a drug smuggling operation.  The conviction and jail time comes ten years after her dalliance taking her by surprise in her new ‘grown up’ life.  In places the book felt empty and lacking any real background and she misses a great opportunity to shine a light on the prison system.  She touches on it but skims by before we get a sense of it.  Interesting though, I like picking up books that are totally outside my experience.

Now…the great dilemma, what do I pick up next?  Any ideas?  I would love to hear from fellow book lovers.

A Warm and Fuzzy Alternate Universe

I made a new year’s resolution this year to start a blog, and I have.  I jumped in with both feet and have spent the past month and a half sending posts out into this alternate universe.  And so far, I have to say its pretty warm and fuzzy out there.

Strangers have stopped by, actually read what I have written and made comments.  Positive comments, nice things from (I assume) nice people.  I am loving this blog world.

I am a keener whenever I want to learn something new and I always turn to my trusty library for a big stack of books.  So far, one of the most helpful has been:

http://www.amazon.com/Create-Your-Own-Blog-Projects/dp/0672330652/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1297786898&sr=1-1

Tris Hussey is a Canadian blogger and holds the hands of newbies like me and leads us through the blogosphere.

Other blogs that I have discovered have been my biggest inspiration.  There are so many amazing ones out there.  A few favourites are:

Her Bad Mother http://herbadmother.com/ A fellow Toronto mother of two, and a celebrated and prolific blogger.  Her writing style is refreshing and well done.  The subjects she tackles never fail to move me and illicit some kind of response.  No wonder she has become so well known.

A visual blog I just can’t get enough of is 3191.  http://3191.visualblogging.com/ Two friends who live 3191 miles apart, one on the east coast of the US and one on the west coast.  They post thoughts and images about their daily life.  The photos are truly inspiring and its such a calm and happy place to browse through.  It transports you to a cozy, afternoon at a friend’s house.

So… thank you to this welcoming world and thank you to all the people who have encouraged me on this path.  I like it here…