Looking for the Carp

Seize the carp! Or the day! Or the moment! Anything that will help make this life of yours richer, filled with love, and acceptance of yourself. This is my little journey to always be on the look out for that carp, grabbing it, and never letting go. This is the only life we have and it's too short for what ifs and maybe laters!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

22nd Carp- Queen of My Heart

This past weekend I was asked to participate in a one day workshop led by the extremely talented Jennifer Russell. This workshop was conducted as a part of her Colour of Women study which helps unlock hidden talent, desires and dreams for those participating.

Saturday, the focus our group of 4 was to tap into our inner "Queen of my Heart". The day started with a red thread ceremony. Chinese legend believes that all who were meant to meet are connected by a red thread. This thread might tangle and stretch but it never breaks. As we joined our own red thread, we were reminded that we can tug on this thread during times of trouble and there is someone else on the other side.

After our ceremony, we were led in a meditation to connect with the queen of our heart. The part inside of us that is our dreamer, our fighter, our inner diva... it is unique for every person. This session was to give us inspiration for our painting and we could use what we saw to put onto canvas. I won't take you through the entire mediation session, however I will say that I saw a stain glass door with the word "Light" written above it. Through the door was a sandy path lined with beach grass and a beautiful lady wearing a wrap around dress in the middle of a tree grove. We were to think of a goal that we wanted to obtain if money or time was no object. For me, that goal is to go to Australia on a one week art workshop with the famous artist, Jane Davenport. My queen gave me a book to help me on this journey. Now that I am looking back, it probably is my sketch book. Practice, learning, and keeping my creative juices alive are definitely going to be vital to achieving my goal.

The first step to our painting was writing a message to my Queen. Here is mine:
Dear Queenie of hearts, 
Help me to enjoy the creative process as a burning flame of passion and not 
another to do list. Inspire, lead, guide and transform me. <3 Always, Michelle 

With the Christmas season approaching, I have been working so hard on all of my DIY Christmas projects that I have no passion for art right now. I write it in my life planner to do, and by the time I have a moment, there is no desire to paint, draw or play. I want to rectify this so it was the focus of my message. 

After a few more steps, we started blocking out our queen. Two colours only with shading. 

Now adding lights and darks. Also some details in her hair. 

Finally skin tones. (first layer) Adding some fun in the background. 

Second layer of skin tones, glitter, gold, and details. 

Finally, the Queen of My heart is lovingly hung with another piece of my art. She is right above where I sit in the living room, watching out for me and giving me that constant reminder or love, support and inspiration. 

Besides what I learned through the mediation. I was able to use many techniques and new supplies to achieve this beautiful piece. (Now I have a new list of wants for a Michael's visit!) As a result, I am so much MORE appreciative of Jennifer's art process as I was able to see first hand how much work goes into ever piece of artwork. There are so many layers that I would never have known about to achieve the dynamic finish products she creates. You can check out these soulful women she paints, here.  

The only thing I would change about the day would be the timeline. If life schedules of all 5 women permitted, it would have been great to do this over two days to really give details the energy they deserved. Also, I would have loved to have a supplies list or step by step handout after the workshop was over. The painting was such a blur that now I don't really remember the order of the in between steps or some of the colours that I used. Finally, I would love to have some spring board ideas of women to paint next. What does my inner muse look like, or my inner goddess, or other women I have yet to meet? These would be wonderful to investigate, paint and meet on my creative journey. Maybe it's time for me to take the Colour of Women course? Hmmmmm..... 

If you feel inspired, I highly suggest you take an art class to help open up to creativity. If you are stuck on choosing one, try In Tune with the Moon hosted by Jennifer Russell. Two new art prompts, videos and projects each month for an entire year. Sounds like a fun time, right ? 

I absolutely loved my art day. I learned so much and it was great to be surrounded by lots of women I admire. I was juicing on our combined energy and was blessed to see the stories that each one of us created. We were challenged to take the first step in achieving our unobtainable goal. I have e-mailed about my week long art course, and have started to price flights. It is too expensive this year, but I have a game plan which includes some on the side businesses to give me some money to save for next year. I will get myself to Australia. I owe it to my Queen. :) 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

21st Carp- Whole 30 to 30th and kicking my Food Addiction

Today I want to take a minute and share with you my Whole 30 to 30th journey as it has completely rocked my body, mind and soul regarding my relationship with food and eating. But to do that, you need to know where I was starting from and how I hit "rock bottom" in terms of unhealthy eating. 

I believe that genetics has a lot to play with addictions. I think that some families have genes that make them more susceptible to problems with drugs and alcohol. My family, on both parental sides, has issues with addictions so I always was very prudent when dealing with cigarettes, alcohol etc. But I never thought that food had the possibility of becoming my drug of choice. While home, I found myself going to the corner store for *fixes* every day. EVERY DAY! I realized that if my trips were to the liquor store and not the Irving, that people would take notice and have some sort of intervention. When I stood on the scale and was quickly approaching a number I had during my 9th month of pregnancy, I gave myself an intervention. I did not want to look or feel this way leading into my 30th birthday. I wanted to look back at turning 30 with happiness that I felt great and was comfortable in my own skin. 

The beginning of October I started eating better. I started researching lifestyle changes and what would be best for my body. I didn't want a diet, I didn't want to count calories or points, I wanted something that was designed to make my body work better, rebuild and give it the fuel it needed to work its best. 

Through my research and talking to friends that have learned the benefits of clean eating (thank you Ilana and Chris!) I decided to take on the Whole 30 challenge! Best decision ever. It means no sugar, no wheat, no dairy, no legumes or alcohol for 30 days. Hard, yes. Manageable- VERY! But the book "It starts with Food" went through the science of these 'no-no' foods and confirmed how they were actually altering my brain chemistry like a drug would. "That's it", I thought, "I have spent my whole life making sure nothing was in control of me but me, I am not allowing myself to be run by my food addiction". 

To psych myself up for it, I made a flip chart of motivational sayings to start each day in the right mindset. Some of my favourites were: 

Rome wasn't built in a day, but they worked on it every single day. 
This month is going to be awesome! -LilBub 
I just want to feel awesome, know I am healthy and rock any outfit I choose. 
It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change! 

To see the whole album, you can find it under Instagram with the hashtag #whole30to30th. 
My direct Instagram account HERE  

I highly suggest that if anyone is feeling like I felt, to try whole 30. It is hard, but simple in it's execution. I could eat anything I wanted that didn't include the above mentioned foods, in any real quantity as long as I was eating to fullness, mindful of portions, and not have to worry about tracking. I just ate. And I ate real, honest to goodness, good food. 

During the challenge, I had my bad days. It seemed like everyone and their dog was having a birthday, and there was always cake around. I had bad nights with the baby that made me want the instant energy gratification that sugar gives.I had nights out at restaurants. My son went into surgery and I desperately wanted the soft, creamy comfort of milk chocolate. Basically, I lived my life but was still able to stick to plan. If you are in the right state of mind that failure isn't an option, this really is easy and YUMMY. 

Alright, you're thinking... this is all well and good but let's see results lady! Well, here they are: 

I lost 11.8 lbs on the program and 17.8 pounds since the beginning of October. 

I lost 11 inches over all. 

And this is me now! Wearing a top I wore to my engagement photos taken over 6 years and 2 kids ago! 

But more than the results on the scale and the tape measure, I actually feel awesome. I have so much more energy, I'm not as sluggish or irritable as I was, I'm not snacking because I am just not hungry in between meals, and I feel much more in control of my eating habits. 

I won't go back to how I was eating before. For now, I will allow myself to eat the OCCASIONAL piece of cake or sweet for a special occasion unless I find that it is opening a door to worse eating habits. Also, I have switched to eating a more Paleo diet which incorporates natural sugars like maple syrup and honey in moderation. I am finding recipes to make food that I thought I would have to give up forever, like pancakes, and making them fit my plan, like COCONUT PANCAKES. Hello ! I am feeling great and I hope, if you are ready, to feel great with me too. Give yourself 30 days, you'll be amazed. 

What's your carp? 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Review- Erin Condren Life Planner and GIVEAWAY

Hello All,

The last product I reviewed didn't really get my 5 star seal of approval. Well, move on over and watch out because my Erin Condren Life Planner is covered with my stamps, seals, and gold stars of approval. It's a game changer for anyone who likes to keep organized with a paper and pencil calendar.

At first, I must admit, I was a little put off by the price tag. I mean, it's an agenda... how could I spend so much on an AGENDA. But then the little voice inside me said, "You are talking to the person who would drive all around the city and go to different office supply stores to find the perfect organizational tool." When I worked at Chapters Indigo I became the Agenda Guru and could point out flaws, good points and great additions with any of our styles. So I thought, maybe, just maybe this would be the holy grail of life planners that I have been searching for all my life.

Well kids, just like Indiana Jones, I FOUND MY HOLY GRAIL!

I will go through the whole life planner, but if you would like to skip ahead and look at them yourself then here is the link to her website. www.erincondren.com

BUT use this link to make your customer account so you can get $10 your first purchase.

AND come back with your invoice number for a chance to win a bonus $10 from Erin Condren.

Now ladies and gents- here is how I use my Life Planer and why I think it is awesome.
First look at how cute it is packaged. There are lots of freebies included in your orders like extra stickers, gift bag tags, coupons for future purchase etc. etc. There is no detail overlooked to make you feel like this is one of the best purchases you have ever made.
Under the bubble wrap you can see the planner I chose plus some add-ons. I wanted the pen holder so I wasn't constantly scrambling for something to write with, and the elastic bands to keep everything together. Bonus, those elastic bands are also really awesome for a quick hair band if you're needing one.

Above is how I initially put together my life planner. The small book on top DID NOT come with my Erin Condren order but was something I was using initially to keep organized. I thought I would use them both in my day to day life, but I really didn't have a need to after moving into my workhorse of an agenda. You can also see from the side the easy to find tabs indicating the different months and how my pen snuggly fits against the back cover. All seamless. 

 Another bonus I really like is the perpetual calendar they add to their life planners. I have put all important dates in this guy and I can now keep it each year to remember birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates that might slip my mind. Love it. 
After the dual flap page, there is this sealed plastic pouch that you can keep odds and ends in. Right now I have all the stickers and gift tags from my shipment, but I would put business cards, reminder cards, receipts or anything else that I didn't want to lose in here. Very handy. 
 OK- Here is the nitty gritty of it. This is a monthly spread from October. The first full month I had the life planner. You can see it is very full. I am using it to organize paintings I am doing for others, Christmas DIY projects, every day life and so on. What I love love love about these planners is the movable stickers. That's right, I said movable, replaceable stickers. See the two up at the top that say massage? Well I had to cancel that massage but just moved the stickers off my calendar and perhaps I can reuse them again later. All of the stickers that come in the back of your planner are replaceable. So if an appointment changes you don't have to worry about crossing out and re-writing which eventually makes everything look messy. Instead, just move the sticker to the new date. Voila! 
Now here is an example of how I use the weekly spread. The three categories are morning, noon, night. Which might be great for some but right now I am re-titling them Chores, Body, and Soul. Being on maternity leave, I have to remember that there is more to me than mom, maid, chef, nanny etc. So I try to only do 3-4 chores a day which means that I still have time (and energy) to work on my body and my soul (which usually includes art). It has helped me feel accomplished in my every day tasks without sacrificing my feeling of self and identity. Also, I have been using this to keep on track with my Whole 30 journey (blog will be up once completed) so you can see I have also been using the bottom to meal plan. A great tool! 

So I think that's it. Again, I love my life planner. Every week looks full like that so I can totally justify the price tag of the product. It has made me much more organized and less frazzled about everything that needs to be accomplished before Christmas. I really will never go back to another type of agenda again because this is laid out so beautifully and lends itself to ease of use. 

If you would like to get yours, remember to use this link while setting up your customer profile.
You will get a coupon code for $10 your first purchase once it has been set up! If you make a purchase, come back and put in your order number so I can verify that entry in the rafflecopter below for a chance to win an additional $10 off. :) 

I can see this tool, and their TEACHER PLANNERS= HELLO AMAZING being great Christmas gifts for yourself or that special someone. 


***Canadians- the shipping to Canada is rather high so if you have an American buddy or US address you can use, I suggest doing that to save you some cash.This is the only downside I have seen to ordering from her. But after having the product, one that wouldn't hinder me from purchasing.***

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 26 October 2014

20th Carp- Rediscovering Creativity

If I would have listened to myself growing up, I would have taken my creative side more seriously in high school and university.

I mean, I knew I always liked to draw, paint and take photos but I just didn't think it would 'get me anywhere' so why pursue it? I can do it for pleasure and that be that.

Why was I so blasé about something that I love so so much? I spent my young adult life pushing away my creativity to work on becoming a professional. Which is really silly because I remember that as a teenager I was asked by families to take portraits for them and I even did a set of head shots for someone going into acting. Couple that with also selling paintings on the side and self teaching art techniques, I really had a lot of opportunities available to me.

This is probably my biggest regret in life. I should have taken myself to New Brunswick School of Craft and Design or another such institution instead of diving right into University. Because what inevitably happened is that I hit a wall. I hit a wall with my photography because the technology was changing and I hadn't kept up with it and I hit a wall with my art. I kept buying and buying more supplies, but I really didn't know what to do with them to create the pieces that I wanted. I needed someone to help me with both of these things.

Since being on maternity leave I have reached out to people who are the 'incredibly talented' in their fields to help me break through this wall that I have come to. A good friend, Sean McGrath has been giving me tips to make my photography better. If you have been living under a rock and don't know about this amazing photographer you can go educate yourself here. I have even been saving up my pennies to be able to take a one on one class with him. So excited! Here are some of my all time favourite portraits of my willing sons that show how far I have come.

Now on to the art side of things. I have recently finished my very first online art class which I had to pay for. Before, I would try to see if I could find things on youtube and free promo classes but this one was just a treat to find an artist that I admired and take a full 8 week class with them. Jane Davenport's Supplies Me class was perfect. (You can check out her wonderful art here. ) The class helped you through every type of medium, what to spend your money on and what you should just avoid altogether. Also it showed you how to play and use with each individual medium together with others and independently. I was in love. And my art supply closet grew and GREW! Now I am currently waiting for pastels that were invented for Pablo Picasso from France. So unbelievably excited to work with those. Here are some pieces from the class that I am particularly proud of. 

For right now, these experiences are helping me keep my creative side alive and challenged daily. I will continue to listen to that side of me as it is so important for my soul. One day, I will get a fine arts degree I am certain but for now, this is wonderful and long overdue. 

What's your carp? 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Life Book 2015

If you have been following me for a while, you know that I have been trying my best to stretch my creativity and artistic prowress. This journey has started with online courses from Joanne Sharpe and Jane Davenport which have been absolutely fantastic. I was ecstatic when Jane announced that she would be participating in next year's Life Book with a whole host of wonderfully talented artists from around the globe. 

Alas, one can not afford to take every single amazing art class offered because you would bankrupt yourself quite quickly if you are so driven like myself. 

This is why I am trying to win a spot to be able to partipate in this year long art class which would test and challenge myself every single month. 

If you are interested in learning more, check out the creator of Life Book Tamara Laporte here- http://www.willowing.org/2014/09/08/life-book-2015-teacher-line-up-blog-hop-and-give-away/

Wish me luck with this potential new stage in my artistic journey. :)

What is your carp?

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Hex Nut Bracelet DIY

Here is a little DIY post on how to make your very own hex nut bracelet. I saw a few how to's and even a bunch of videos so really the only thing I am doing differently is the materials. Most of the posts used some sort of jewelry clasp to finish the bracelet. However, I do not have any jewelry making supplies and wanted to keep the cost of this project down so I was not interested in buying them. 

 To make this you need : 

17 6-32 hex nuts in either brass or silver 
Nylon twine ( most tutorials use butchers string or swede/leather) 
BBQ lighter 
Tape or a clasp to hold your strings down 

So the reason why I chose nylon string is because it's strong, still easily braid-able, and with a little heat you can melt the ends off so everything looks finished. This is where my tutorial is different. 

So lets get to it ! 

 Step 1- cut two lengths of string. One that is about the length or your arm. Bring both ends of this piece together and cut a second piece which matches up to the halved first string. Knot them together as shown. Now all the pieces should be the same size. Use the lighter to melt the  3 ends closest to you so they don't fray while working with. 

Step 2- Start braiding. This is personal preference but most suggest to braid 1 1/2 - 2 inches depending on your wrist size. 

Step 3- start adding your hex nuts. I like to start on the left but it really doesn't matter. Always add the hex nuts to the outside strings and continue braiding. Make sure to keep everything as tight as possible. 

Step 4- I use 16 hex nuts (8 on each side). After they are added, continue braiding as normal for another 1 1/2 - 2 inches. 

Step 5- knot all strings to finish off braid. 

Step 6- add a hex nut after the braid. This will keep the bracelet on and work as our clasp through the loop made earlier. If you can get all three strings through the nut, that's ideal. If not, don't worry about it because you can melt down the stray strand to make it look nice and finished. Knot the two strings on the other side of the nut, leaving a little give. 

Step 7- Melting. So this is what my pieces look like after being melted. Obviously it was impossible to get a shot of using the BBQ lighter as I only have two hands. But you don't need a lot of heat to start melting them. After heating, I used the scissors to press the hot melted strings down and secure them because they are hot and will burn you if you don't have something to manipulate them with. A pair of pliers would also work well for this. 

Step 8- now your bracelet should look something like this. You can either stop now, or if you want to tackle that stray string by the loop, you can melt it the same way as before, 

( I melted mine as shown above. Again secure hot, melted string down using your scissors.) 


TA DA !!! All done :) I really liked that I could get everything at the hardware store and didn't have to make multiple stops for this project. Again, this is just how I did it using a synthetic string but there are lots of tutorials using other materials if you prefer, 

Now go have fun because once you got this down, they are super fast and easy to make. From start to finish, I can now make one in under 10 minutes. Great little project that is perfect for a unique, inexpensive, present! 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

19th Carp- Mommy Con Boston

Have you heard of MommyCon yet? Well, if you haven't, you better sit down while I enlighten you on all the wonderful things this convention promotes, teaches, and supports for families of all shapes and sizes.

I first heard of Mommy Con when my oldest was about 7 months old. I was following The Baby Guy NYC on instagram and saw that he was having a TON of fun at the Mommy Convention in, what I think was, New York City. I then started following the Mommy Con instagram account and from what I saw, I was hooked. I promised myself, "I WILL attend one of these get togethers someday."

What did I see you may ask ? I saw a lot of babywearing, cloth diapering, guest speaker-ing, general supporting, and mingling of like minded parents. I saw a ton of great baby gear, and to my utter amazement, the giving away of all this crazy awesome baby gear. I saw laughs, tears, fun times, and inspiration. In short, I saw all I needed to get involved.

I knew that the closest event to my area would be Boston... a mere 8 hours and one border crossing a way. However, I felt that this was something that would be worth the hours in the car with an infant (second son) and, after speaking to my husband, he agreed and was even looking forward to it too! I couldn't wait until I could purchase my tickets in April for the August 1st event. Which was apparent after speaking to the creator of Mommy Con, Xza, as she said I was one of the first 5 people to have their spots paid for when the tickets went live. "Well," I told her, "I didn't know how fast they would be scooped up and wanted to make sure I grabbed a coveted VIP spot!" She laughed at my enthusiasm and thanked me for my support.

To show you the diversity of the Mommy Con event, I have the schedule from Boston to give you an example of all the wonderful information these ladies provide to countless families across the country.

Not to mention that while all these seminars are taking place, there is a full vendor area covering everything from nursing wear, toys, cloth diapering, car seats, organic food, baby wearing lounge, kid play area, and everything in between. My head felt like it was on a lazy Susan for the amount of time it was constantly turning in order to take it all in. 

Just before the event in August, I was chosen to be a scene reporter to document all the giveaways, speakers, gear, and swag that are associated with the weekend. It was incredibly fun and exciting to do since I was even able to meet some baby media icons like, The Honest Toddler and Jamie the Baby Guy. I had my little side kick pictured below to help cover the event as well, comfy in my trusted Baby Hawk Mei Tei. 

One of the absolute high lights of the day for me was being able to participate in the Human Milk World Record. It was amazing to see over 200 woman in one room nursing, pumping or expressing breast milk. I hope that this movement will help de-sexualize nursing in public and increase support and awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding. Big thanks to The Leaky Boob for your inspirational words after setting the Human Milk World Record!

Another aspect that I loved was meeting the men and women behind my favourite baby brands. These companies didn't send local people to cover the event, the top of the top went to talk to all the mothers and fathers about their products. Their passion was apparent and their enthusiasm catchy! I'm looking at you glittery goddesses Amy Appleton, Beth Valencia and Sue Appleton of Applecheeks Cloth Diapers!

I really can't describe how great the event was. But I can say that if you have the opportunity to attend one, I highly suggest you do. I have been wanting to try and find another do-able Mommy Con before my maternity leave is over, but alas they are all on the West Coast or in the Southern States. I do have one piece of advice though, don't go for the giveaways and swag. They are nice and an added bonus but to truly enjoy yourself, go for the community. It's like having a play date with all your best mom friends you've never met.... yet.

What's your carp?

Monday, 28 July 2014

18th Carp- Dating after Marriage and Kids

The rut.

Those of us married, those of us with kids, and those of us with any combination of the previous stated milestones know the rut that I'm talking about.

Hell, they even made a movie about it. Date Night, the hilarious comedy starring Steve Carrell and Tina Fey.

When tying the knot, continuing a dating life might have seemed laughable and absurd. However, to those who have passed their honeymoon stage, it's vital to keep that dating relationship alive.

I think most couples have good intentions on trying to make quality "us" time throughout the week/ month but with everything else that comes up, "US" time seems to be the first thing that gets pushed to the back burner. For us - with a toddler, coming into his own personality and testing the waters at every turn, and a 6 month old who's not sleeping through the night - snacks on the couch, an episode of Suits and an early bed time seem to be as much as I can handle.

However, for our anniversary this year, I'm making it a point to bring dating back up the importance ladder; back into the limelight. I've created a "Date Jar" with 21 different dates of varying time and cost that will sprinkle through our life over the next 365 days.

This is how I did it.

First, I found inspiration on Pinterest. I got many ideas from here, here and here. I wrote down the ones I liked and separated them into three categories.
$- Inexpensive and requires a little planning 
$$- Moderately expensive and requires some planning 
$$$- Splurge dates and requires a lot of planning 
*planning to me means finding sitters for the appropriate amount of time and probably getting everything figured out 3 days to a week before the big date. 

Then I thought, "How can I make this better?"

Instead of buying pre-coloured jumbo Popsicle sticks, I bought the plain ones. This was so I could have as many ideas for each category as I wanted. It also meant that I had a cleaner surface to write on and that they all looked pretty uniform.

However, the paint from my paint pens absorbed too well into the Popsicle sticks creating bleeding. I like sharp clean lines so I thought I would add some co-coordinating washi tape to decorate and hide the imperfections. 

There, that looked better to me. 

Then I wrote an unique date idea on a stick with the coordinating colour. 

Next, I wanted to jazz up my mason jar with something more than hand written labels. I don't do scrap-booking however, I picked up a pre-made kit a while back at the dollar store to have on hand just in case. Low and behold, it had a lot of awesome-ness for this project. I created a lid label and a tag to hang on the mason jar explaining the gift. 

After that, all that was left was putting it all together. From start to finish, this project probably took me 2 hours to do. (Including research) I would put a list of all 21 dates I included, but every couple has different interests and live in different areas that have a variety of things that are available to do. Instead I suggest just brainstorming yourself and make choices that would best fit your individual dating style. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, I am completely in love with this list of unusual date ideas. Some of my favourites include: 
                      Go to your favourite book store and leave notes for future readers in copies of your favourite books. 

                      Try to visit as many people in one night, and turn as many things upside down in their apartment as you can, without them noticing. 

As a side note, I really hope we use this for many years to come. Because of it's simplicity, we can add new date ideas to the jar and take ones out that didn't work as planned. The whole project cost would have been about $25 if I had to buy everything new. However, the only thing I needed to get was the jumbo popsicle sticks as I already had the other materials. So this awesome anniversary present came to the big ticket price of $1.50. *Although some of the dates inside are pretty pricey so it's the most inexpensive, expensive gift ever.*

AND- if you don't feel like doing any of this yourself, let someone else do it for you with this great Etsy shop! Pre-made and ready to send. 

Hope this gives some inspiration to light your fire and refuel your own dating relationship. 

Happy Dating! 

What's your carp ?