Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Project Service Project, August: Hygiene kit

Putting together a hygiene kit was very quick, inexpensive and extremely easy: two hand towels, two bars of hypo-allergenic soap, two combs, four tooth brushes and a tube of toothpaste. Throw it in a ziplock bag. Boom. Done. It cost me about $6-7 and was literally done in minutes. The most time consuming part was washing the towels, and that was hardly backbreaking work.

These kits are given to disaster victims throughout the world who are often in a situation where they have lost everything but the clothes on their back. Although it is something so small, it just seems like being handed soap and a clean towel would go so far towards making you feel like a human being again. A little dignity restored after going through what can only feel like hell.

I'm so happy to think that my tiny contribution can maybe go a little bit of the way towards helping someone back on their feet again.

If you haven't done so already, don't forget to enter my current giveaway hosted by CSN Stores. It will be open until September 11th, and you can win a $40 gift certificate.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday, monday

We just got back last night from another weekend out of town, and so of course our house is completely upside-down with unpacking (one shared bag for me and Nick, three for Espen), laundry and cleaning up the debris of us trying to get out of town as early as possible on Friday night.

Then add a game night with friends tonight, and the fact that I have today and tomorrow to meet my self-imposed deadline for this month's Project Service Project (SO MUCH sewing!) , and you've got yourself a busy couple of days. Or, at least, I've got myself a busy couple of days!

So while you wait for me to wrap things up and get back to regular posting, please enjoy this photo of Espen's latest trick:

And then hustle your little booty over here to enter my giveaway where you can win a $40 gift certificate to CSN Stores. So far entries have been a bit slow, so you currently have about a one in four chance of winning! Thems good odds, yo.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Project Service Project: CSN Stores Giveaway!

I was going to post this tomorrow, but seeing as we're going out of town again this weekend, I'm giving y'all a head start on my giveaway.

CSN Stores is giving one of you lucky, lucky readers a $40 gift certificate to use at any one of their 200 online stores. From bedroom furniture sets to some seriously cute toys, to just about anything you could think of, CSN Stores has all kinds of stuff to offer. If you're like me, your biggest problem will be some serious overwhelm from all the selection!

I will be selecting a winner in conjunction with the Unites States' National Day of Service on September 11th. I know you're out there doing good stuff for people, and I want to reward you for that! So, in order to enter, I want to hear about your experiences with service.

But first, some rules!

  • For a shot at winning the gift certificate, please leave a comment to this post telling about an experience that you had with service, either as the giver or as the recipient.
  • For a second entry, go out and do something for someone else, then come back and leave another comment on this post, telling us all about it. Of course I'm not going to be able to check up on you, so on your honour, soldier!
  • The competition is only open to residents of the US and Canada - sorry, everyone else! I'll make it up to you.
  • I'll be taking entries until noon MST on September 11th, and the winner will be selected at random and announced that night.
  • If I can't simply click through to your blog, please leave your name and email so I can reach you. So no prizes for the anonymous!
  • That's it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Project Service Project, August: School Kit!

After lots of running around to gather everything I need, the kits are finally coming together. In fact, Nick is bringing home the last elusive item as we speak - the ever evasive diaper pin! Who knew that something so simple would be so ridiculously hard to find?

Nick is also bringing me more thread so I can finish sewing the baby blanket, so while waiting for him to get here, I put together a school kit, as you can see in the picture. Please excuse the lame picture quality, it was late and dark and I just didn't want to wait for day light to post this.

But, tadah! It's all finished and ready for someone to take off to school, which absolutely gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it. We value education pretty highly in our family, and the thought that this can help make a child better equipped to learn is such a fulfilling one. While I was buying the supplies, I kept thinking about the child that will ultimately receive this kit and wondering what colour eraser they would prefer and if they will love their yellow no. 2 pencils as much as I do. And who doesn't love a box of brand new coloured pencils!

This kit was also really quite inexpensive to put together. I spent about $12 on the whole thing, with the bag being the biggest expense at $4. However, the kit actually only comes to about $7-8 when you consider that I only used one pencil sharpener out of a pack of six that cost $1, or four pencils from a box of 20. If I were to make a second kit, I would only have to get another bag, a box of pencils and some notebooks, so it gets less and less expensive the more you make. You could easily sew a bag, but I ultimately decided that my time was worth $4 to me, so it was worth it to buy one.

So, one kit down, two to go! The Humanitarian kit is even quicker and easier than the school kit, but the newborn kit is a lot of work. At least it is for me, and I am definitely stretching my abilities a bit here. So stay tuned for upcoming pictures of my wonky seams!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Project Service Project, August: One week to go!

Now that the last few weeks of first me, then Espen being out with a cold, followed by a week-long visit from Nick's brother, followed by some serious anniversary festivities are behind us, I am getting back in the blogging saddle again!

Things are progressing pretty well with my humanitarian kits. I have one hygiene kit ready to go, and all I have to do for the school kit is make the bag for it to go in. The newborn kit, however, is proving to be a pain in the ear because 1) there is so much sewing to do, 2) I keep striking out as far as getting the right kind of fabric for the infant gown. Also, I'm having a super hard time finding diaper pins to go with the flat fold diapers. Argh!

On the upside, however, I was able to do most of my hygiene and school kit shopping at the dollar store, which definitely helped keep the costs down. And, with a bit of careful thought and hunting around, I didn't feel like I ended up with a bunch of cheap and nasty stuff either.

I got more than I needed for one of each kit, though, and almost have enough for a second school kit. So, if you're in the area and feeling generous, here's what I need to complete a second kit:
  • 1 box pre-sharpened or unsharpened assorted colored pencils (approximately 7" long, about 12 pencils to a box)
  • 450 pages of paper in glued or spiral-bound notebooks or letter-size legal pads, all with lined sheets. Sheet sizes 8 ½" by 11", 8" by 10 ½", and 8 ½" by 11 ¾" are acceptable (no more than 6 notebooks or pads per kit).
And, if you're feeling especially awesome:
  • 1 durable cloth bag made of heavy fabric, sewing instructions found here.

I'll be spending a lot of the week in front of the sewing machine, so I will try to post some photos as I go.

And please come back on Saturday when I'll be posting the details about an upcoming giveaway sponsored by CNS stores. It's going to be a good one, so don't miss out!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy anniversary to us!

We interrupt our regular projecty programming with a brief announcement of a more personal nature:

Nick and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary on August 20th, and are doing so by going back to Green Gate Village Inn where we had our wedding in 2005. I'm really looking forward to going back and exploring a bit, seeing as the last time we were there I was just a little preoccupied!

We'll also be going to see Tarzan at the Tuacahn amphitheatre, which I'm also excited about because I've never been there before. And we do so love the theatre, dahlings.

More exciting than any of this, though, is the fact that I have spent the last five years of my life with my most favourite person ever. Nick is easily the best thing that has ever happened to me (and that's saying something if you've met my baby!) and I can't imagine a better person to spend the next five years (times infinity squared!) with.

Happy anniversary, loves!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Project Service Project, August: Humanitarian Kits

It's time to start Project Service Project!

My maiden voyage into service-giving will be through making Humanitarian Kits for our church's Humanitarian Services. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, but for whatever reason, I just haven't ever gotten around to it.

Until now... (please read with your best Don LaFontaine voice)

Because I lack any sense of scope or perspective, I will be making all three types of kits: a hygiene kit, a newborn kit and a school kit, and aiming to have completed them by August 31st. Of this year.

Let's be honest, it's not the buying and assembling part of this that is daunting to me. I could shop professionally. I could shop for Norway, England and the USA combined. What does concern me is that there is going to be sewing involved. And as much as I'd like to be, I am not much of a seamstress, which means that I will be expanding my horizons a bit. Which in turn means that there will be anger, frustration, self-doubt and self-loathing served with a side of naughty words. But, as I keep trying to tell myself:

Besides, isn't service and giving at its very best when it costs you something a little more than just money?

Speaking of which, I wanted to open this one up to you guys! Specifically those of you who live in my area. If you'd like to put together a kit of your own, or have any of the necessary items that go into them, feel free to contact me, and I'd be happy to drop your donations off with my own and save you the trip.

And even if you're not in my area and would like to take part, here is a list of places in the Western US where you can take your donations, or you can mail them here.

PS, if you're feeling all Mormoned out by now, take heart, little friend! I'll be back next month with a less churchy service project. Service just happens to be a HUGE part of what our church does, and what I believe in.

Images borrowed here and here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Looking lovely

Friday was already going to be an indulgent day, because not only were we going out, we were getting a baby sitter.

So I did what any sane woman would and locked myself in the bathroom where I slathered on a face mask and slapped on some teeth whitening strips. Espen was sleeping, so I knew I was working against an unpredictable clock that might wake up at any time. There was a tense moment where I thought he was waking up while my face was still completely and vibrantly green, which I was pretty sure he would fail to appreciate, but he obligingly went back to sleep again. That boy... always thinking of his mother!

It only took a few extra minutes, but it's amazing how far something like that can go towards making you feel like a girl. And that is something that is likely going to become increasingly important to me in the years to come, seeing as I'm already outnumbered by the boys in my family. Also, it's only a matter of time before Espen realizes he is into boy stuff, and that watching me do my hair is no longer awesome. Which means that I have to get into some good girly habits now, before we all descend into a swirly mess of video games and power tools.

Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Clearly.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Thursday was just one of those days. Not only did my kitchen look like something Dante would have gladly devoted a couple of cantos to, but Thursday also marked the very first time Espen spat up in my hair. Oh joy.

Clearly, the opportunity for a little self-indulgence could not have come at a better time.

Anyone who has read this blog for a while will be familiar with me rabbiting on about how much I love flowers. And I really do! I just think a bunch of fresh flowers really brightens up a room. And my day. But even though they make me ever so extremely happy, I've never actually bought flowers for myself.

I corrected that with a quick trip to the grocery store where I bought myself a cheerful bunch of happy for not much more than the price of a magazine. Added bonus: the flowers have been acting as extra motivation to keep my kitchen clean so it can act as a pretty backdrop. Even the stray flower that broke off was rescued and used as motivation for me to (finally!) try out the manual settings on the camera:

Ironically, this photo also serves as a great showcase of our tragically empty flower beds outside. Oh well. If I can't have flowers outside, I can have them inside! :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Out and about

The moral of today's story is that self-indulgence can take a heck of a lot of effort, especially with a little guy in tow.

We are a one car family. Generally speaking, this is wonderful and practical and money-saving and not really a big deal at all. But it also means that if I want the car one day, I have to bundle Espen into his car seat and take Nick to and from work, which in turn means that Espen and I end up spending a lot of time at home. And honestly, seeing as he eats every three hours and takes naps every two hours, it's really not a big deal at all.

But every once in a while a girl's just gotta get out of the house. Sometimes you just need some verbal communication and to see the world outside your own front door.

So that was my indulgence yesterday.

I braved the early morning commute with a baby (twice!), an off-kilter nap schedule, getting us both clean and fed and out the door with a two-hour window before Espen would start rapidly melting into an angry little puddle of exhaustion, and finally (only two hours behind our original schedule!) made it to my friend Brittany's house.

And it was really nice! We chatted in normally pitched voices about grown-up things while her son napped, and mine played. Of course, it has to be said that we mainly talked about our kids and things related to them, but that's OK, because Espen really is my life right now.

Of course we didn't make it home within the two hour window, and of course Espen fell asleep in the car and woke up too grumpy to fall asleep because his nap only lasted 20 minutes. But every once in a while it has to be OK to break our little routine and switch things up a bit. I wanted to do it because it would be good for me, but it's also fun to see how much Espen enjoys a change of scenery and meeting new people. And even a tiny break from the every day like going to see a friend goes so far towards ensuring that Espen has a happy mama.

More please.

The picture has nothing to do with the post, I'm just sharing my obsession with Espen in overalls.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sneaking in a quick read and then some.

We love books. We have stacks of them, our bookshelves heave with them. When he was still just a twinkle in his daddy's eye, Espen already owned more books than a lot of people will in a lifetime. I love how they look, I love how they feel, I love how they smell. Mm-mm, books! We are just bookish people.

Which is why it's a little surprising that I don't actually read a whole lot.

My days just get away from me. I spend my mornings and afternoons taking care of Espen and trying to conquer the Sisyphean challenge of keeping our house running. And then the evenings come and all I want to do is spend every. single. second. with Nick. This doesn't leave a lot of time for cozying up with books.

And that is why, when Espen was sleeping and the washing machine was going, I crawled into bed with a book. Oh, the peace and quiet! Oh, the surreptitious hedonism of slipping between the sheets in the middle of the day! Oh, the double decadence of waking up 45 minutes later and realizing I had actually taken a nap as well!

It doesn't take much these days to float my boat.

Image borrowed here. Me and Marilyn = basically the same person.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lunch Lady

I started my week of self-indulgence by cooking myself lunch. I know, big deal, right? Actually, yes it really is.

On any given day, my lunch generally consists of two slices of toast with something on them, or, if I'm lucky, leftovers. These meals are almost always prepared and eaten in a hurry because I'm starving after waiting to eat when Espen is asleep, or Espen is awake and needs my attention, or I'm trying to eat quickly so I'll have time to take care of something else during nap time. The fact that I have to eat at all usually makes lunch more of an annoyance than a pleasure.

That's why taking the time to actually cook something for myself really was a bit of a self-indulgence. I made an omelette with ham and my extra-special birthday cheese. Bless my in-laws who know just what a girl wants (what a girl needs). Then I buttered up a round of toast, set the table (with a pretty napkin and everything!), got out the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens, poured my self a tall glass of milk,and... WAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

Ran upstairs to get Espen from his nap.

But undaunted, I put Espen on his baby gym next to the kitchen table, and let him play while I ate my lunch and read an article about a couple in Williamsburg, VA and their cottage-inspired garden (fancy!). For a few freeze-frame moments, all was quiet bliss. Happy baby, happy (and fed) mama.

Then unfreeze and... go, mama, go!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Week of Self-indulgence

I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel like I get a bit lost. Not literally, not in a crazy existential crisis, "I-need-to-find-myself" sort of way, but more in a "wow, there's a lot that needs taking care of, I just don't have the time or energy to even think about doing more for myself than merely existing" sort of way.

So every day this week, I will allow a little time for myself, to do whatever I would like to do with it.

Of course, when you get right down to it, this entire blog is one big self-indulgence where I allow myself to do pretty much anything that strikes my fancy, so it may seem a little silly to dedicate a week to doing something that I've already devoted an entire blog to, but indulge me here, people!

Really, I should have done this project in the weeks after Espen was born, when it would suddenly be 5 PM and Nick would come home to find me unshowered, in my pajamas, not having eaten all day because I just couldn't figure out how to take care of a newborn and myself at the same time. I'm doing a lot better almost six months down the road, but could still use some help in finding ways to just be me.

Huh. Maybe I am having a crazy existential crisis?