On Father’s Day

I can hear the birds outside chirping away while the leaves of our maple tree, standing tall, dance with the wind. A gentle breeze touches my face as it enters the dining room through the open window. The air is warm.

The sun has been playing peek-a-boo with the clouds. But when it comes out from hiding, the paved street brightens up and shadows appear. The street has been quiet for awhile as if everybody is taking an afternoon nap.

Across the table is our 11 month old baby eating her “everything” bagel spread with thick butter. The frozen butter that has been sitting on the counter is now smooth and soft, just the way I like it.

Our 2 year old toddler who just finished her bagel decided to climb down her chair and moved to the living room. In there, she started singing a happy song she invented that only she can understand. And then impulsively, she started running around. In the kitchen I heard her slip, and cry. The silence is broken. But not for long. She came to me, and as soon as I put her on my lap the hysteria stopped, as if the warmth of my embrace has the power to take her pain away.

The baby is now done eating and happily talking to me in giggles and babbles while she licks and sucks all her fingers. Our furry dog is sleeping quietly under the dining table. The underside of her face resting on my right foot. When I move my feet from time to time, she licks the toes of my bare feet.

The man of the house is taking a nap downstairs. I tried lying down beside him but my mind was filled with a list of things I’d like to do before his friend from Germany arrives at our home tomorrow to stay with us for the week. I need to finish cleaning up the guest room. It had become my craft display room ever since I started to make more handmade craft items to sell. I need to wash the sheets. I need to wash the floors in the dining room, the kitchen, the bathrooms. I need to finish doing laundry. The carpet needs to be vacuumed, the toys I’ve been tripping on need to go in their bins, and my crafts that had been taking permanent residence in our dining area need to be put away. The list goes on and on and on.

I was going through my mental checklist when I felt the urge to sit down and write. I tried to ignore it several times. But the gentle nudge in the beginning became more of a nagging thought. Soon I could not resist the desire to put my thoughts into tangible words. As my fingers touch the black keys of my silver laptop making a gentle rhythmic tapping sound, my thoughts started to take form in front of my eyes.

My life is filled with laughing babies, stinky diapers, greasy hands, and sticky chairs. Their giggles, joyous laughter, and crazy antics make up for the numerous times they threw tantrums when I was least prepared to handle them. My wonderful crazy adventure to motherhood started when I married my best friend. A guy who grew up on a family farm in Manitoba. Homeschooled all the way through high school. Dressed awkwardly before he met me. Stubborn. Strong. Smart. Wild. An engineer through and through.

My heart had been broken before we met. He didn’t offer me anything to fix it. Instead he lent me his ears. He listened to my EVERY story. And in the process my heart healed enough to trust again… to love again. I have always felt like a misfit. Belonging no where. Not to anyone… or a group of people. I have lived a life of a maverick. A name my dad would have given me if I was a boy. Matthew Maverick was what he had in mind. But to his surprise, he ended up with another daughter. He was pretty sure I would be a boy so he scrambled for a girl’s name when the nurse asked him what name to put on the record. Perhaps maybe that is why there’s only one Zhileen (pronounced as Zi-lean) in the entire universe. It was a name my dad invented out of desperation.

But there’s something about my husband that made me feel that even an oddball like me with no one else to share my name with can find belongingness outside my nuclear family. Wikipedia describes belongingness as a human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, a religion, or something else, people tend to have an ‘inherent’ desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves. I was just never good at fitting in. I am awful at small talk. I hate idle gossip. I don’t follow the lives of the movie stars or the politicians for that matter. I have enough drama on my own without adding theirs to mine. I don’t care what’s in fashion. I set my own. I wear or make what I think looks pretty using colours that I like.

I remember when my husband first held me in his arms. In him I found a place where I truly think I genuinely belong. It was beyond the feeling of butterflies in your stomach, or fireworks in the 4th of July. In his embrace I felt peace, like being in the eye of the storm. His nearness offered me calmness in the middle of the strong tropical cyclones. The drifter in me found herself an anchor. Something steady. Something flawed but also perfect at the same time. The perfect imperfect.

Together we faced so many trials. People. Circumstances. Cultural differences. Our own pride and selfishness. And yet, here we are. Still here. Still holding hands. Still believing in the dreams we forged before wedding bells, and sleepless nights from crying babies.

They said that any man can be a father. But it takes someone special to be a dad. To us, he IS special! He is our superman! The man of steel whose superpower other than his physical strength is his commitment to me and the kids.

Our superman is now up from his nap, feeling recharged for the rest of the day, and took care of two of the items in my to do list. The toddler who was just giggling, and singing, and running is now sleeping soundly in her room. A 6 o’clock early bedtime for sleeping late last night as she wants to stay up with mommy crafting her daddy’s special Father’s day card.

I have abandoned the dining chair in exchange of our comfortable couch in the living room. I feel a gentle breeze on the back of my head every now and then from the open windows behind me. The clock ticking has been constantly reminding me that I still have lots to do with only very little time left before the day ends. But I’m glad I took the time to sit down, and write. It helped me to slow down and see this day with a better pair eyes. Interestingly, our baby has been sleeping in my arms so I have been typing with one hand, while my other arm is feeling numb from the weight of her head pressed against mine. Only Hope by Switchfoot is playing in the background. My carpet is now clean and all the toys were mostly put away, without me putting my feet off the coffee table.

The clouds lost the game of hide and seek to the sun. The evening smells sweet with the sun still up… but is gradually setting down. The macaroni and cheese that my husband requested for Father’s Day lunch made its way back to the table for supper. It’s his day so I caved in.

Tonight he received his second Father’s Day gift enclosed in a paper bag tied with a raffia ribbon. The packaging is simple and unassuming just like him.

 

 

My Paint Nite Experience

I recently went to a Paint Nite in town with a bunch of ladies from our church. If you haven’t been to one or haven’t heard of it, Paint Nite is a social painting event where the rest of the class paint the same thing.  Experience in painting is not required as there’s a painting instructor that guides you step-by-step through the featured painting in about 2 hours.

The cost per ticket was $45 and they provided all the painting supplies. I don’t think all Paint Nites are fundraising events, but the one we went to was giving $15 of every ticket purchased to CIBC Run for the Cure. They even provided some light snacks, and a cash bar for those who were interested in drinking while they paint.

I haven’t been to one before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. A friend of mine and I went out for supper first before we came. Upon entering the Legion where it was being held, we could hear chattering from upstairs. It sounded like a good number of people came out to support the fundraising event. Sixty six attendees in total.

When we got into the room, we saw tables side by side dressed in green vinyl table cloth in 3 rows. On top of each tables where easels with 16 x 20 canvases back to back from each other. Underneath each easels where paper plates that have 4 big blobs of acrylic paints – white, blue, yellow, and red. On the right hand side of each easels were 3 paintbrushes of varying sizes, a yogurt container with water that I almost drank (LOL), and 2 sheets of paper towel. And then on each chair was an acrylic stained green apron for us to use.

Our featured painting was a boat sitting on the beach at sunset.

I am not sure who is the original artist of the said painting. When I was googling it, I’ve seen it featured on other Paint Nite events with different instructors so I knew the painting was not an original work of our painting instructor that evening. Also, her rendition was a bit darker in hue than the original.

Before we began painting, we were asked to place our hands on the canvases and repeated a funny oath after our instructor, which basically says to have fun, to not forget to breathe, and to not stress out and throw our canvases across the room if they were not turning out quite right. (I think I did all those 3 in my head!). She walked us through what brushes and paints to mix and use, how to make a perfectly round sun and it’s refection on the water, how to draw clouds, and how to draw “the boat”. She gave some pointers on how to add some waves too.

I have not done an acrylic painting on canvas before so I followed her instructions as much as I could. Even though she said in the beginning of the class that we can draw whatever we want, even rainbows and ponies, I don’t think anybody diverted from the original painting. I think we all pretty much followed it to our own abilities.

However, after completing my canvas I find it lacking in depth, it’s very one dimensional. I wasn’t pleased with my work. But maybe that’s just the artist and the perfectionist in me that’s being hard on myself. I know if I’m going to hang this painting on our wall, I’d like it to appear more realistic. So I skipped signing my painting because I know I am going to tweak it when I get home.

A few days after that event, I finally mastered the courage to put my plans to work.

And I’m so glad I did!

Because this one dimensional acrylic painting…

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Now looks like this…

boat_sunset_acrylic_painting

(This transformation was done using Dollar store acrylic paints!!! Why? Because that’s what I have available and I was too cheap to buy good ones. Question is will the colours last? Who knows! I guess only time will tell! Perhaps sealing it will help the paints from not fading? It will also help me to stop retouching it. If left unsealed, I might just be tempted to keep tweaking it!).

Anyway, here’s some of the pictures I took using my cellphone camera to capture this daunting, but very satisfying process.

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For a more detailed process of this canvas acrylic painting transformation, click HERE.

 

Only grace.

I feel like falling into an abyss. I wish to wake up from it, but the problem is… I am awake. And THIS is real.

I need to write to declutter my thoughts. To get rid of this heaviness in my chest. And to hopefully pull this pit out of my stomach that is making me feel numb, lost and deeply sad all at the same time.

I need to write to emerge from the black hole. A part of me have been retreating from the world ever since I heard the sad news about someone that had been very instrumental to my faith. I still feel a lump in my throat when I think about it. For some reason the ground beneath my feet became more unstable.

On our way to meet a lovely couple for lunch on Sunday, I had a sudden meltdown. That was when I first heard the news. The impact it had on me was instant. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I didn’t want to believe it at first. I tried to convince my husband that there must be a misunderstanding on his part. But he sounded certain. His certainty brought me to tears. THIS hurts. There are NO words…

I really want to wake up from this nightmare now. If only someone can pinch me, please?

One might say it is what it is. But I refuse to believe that this is it. I just CANNOT… and WILL NOT accept that.

I want to believe that this is just a bump on the road. A faith stretcher not just for the people involved, but for all of us whose lives have been touched by them. They have invested themselves into the lives of so many, including mine. And so despite this sad event, I am choosing to believe that “he” will find his way back to all that he has lost.

To you sir… I wish NOT to condemn you. The world has done enough of that already. On the contrary, I’d like to take you out for a cup of tea. I want to sit down with you, listen to what you’ve got to say if you will choose to open yourself up, and then REMIND you of WHO you WERE.

You were a man of faith! A man of God! A man with integrity!

You spoke with knowledge, sincerity and kindness.

You were a loving husband. A cool dad. An amazing friend and confidante.

You were faithful, generous, and gentle in spirit.

You helped whenever you saw there’s a need.

For someone who recently left her country, still new to her faith, and unsure about a lot of things, your home had been my refuge.

Your Godly counsel had been a light to my path.

You saw my tears and my broken heart. And you saw me rise up from that brokenness.

On the day I publicly professed my faith, you were there. You stood before me and held my hand. And we both held back our tears. You knew how important it was for me to get where I was. And YOU and other Godly people from that church helped me to get there.

So I refuse to buy that you have turned your back on everything you believed in.  I just can’t see how that is even remotely possible.

Perhaps you are just confused…

Perhaps you just needed to break away from the mold to find answers to life’s hard questions…

Perhaps you just need to be lost so you can find your faith again…

Perhaps you just need time…

And so as much as it hurts me to know that you are where you are right now, I am letting go of my perfect image of you. YOU were NOT perfect. You were NOT infallible. And we are all at fault for putting you in such a spot.

You have served the people around you faithfully in the best way you know how. You have led so many into the well of the living water.

But now that you seem to have lost your way… I wish to offer you whatever little light I have so you’re not completely stumbling in the dark.

I pray that you WILL find your way back to God’s faithful arms AGAIN.

I NEED YOU TO FIND YOUR WAY BACK.

The odds of you reading this post is slim. But if you happen to do so, I want to extend you my utmost grace.

No condemnation here.

Only mercy.

Only love.

Only grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Craft Fair Experience

I can’t believe we are on the second week of April already and I have not written anything since my last post in March. Forgive me. Life has been extra busy for me, preparing for the first craft fair that I attended, among other things. I have to admit, joining a craft fair was a lot of work! I love crafting as much as I love chocolate! And if you know me personally that says a lot! Surprisingly, there had been many days that I just didn’t feel like sitting down and picking up my craft supplies. This hit me as a surprise because I never thought I would feel this way. One thing I learned for sure is that if a hobby you love turns into a chore, it doesn’t matter how much you love doing it, it takes away the fun. It is a good experience. I learned a few things that I wouldn’t have known if I had not embarked on this journey. I am a type A person and highly perfectionist. To craft with a pressing deadline just builds frustration at times. But when I let myself be free when I craft, I surprise myself with what I can create.

Here’s what my set-up looked like at home the night before the fair. The tables they were providing for the fair were 6 inches longer than our dining table.  I thought to myself, if I can have a decent set-up at home before the big day, I would know how I would like my display to look. I loved how it looked but I quickly learned that there are things I need to work on to make it better.

craft show set-up

Also, there were other things that I have learned from my first craft sale that I’d like to pass on to those who are thinking of joining a craft fair for the first time. I hope you find them helpful!

  1. Prepare your items to sell for the fair way in advance. Learn from my mistake. I’ve been slowly accumulating supplies for my crafts but had never put them together, unless I’m making gifts for someone. It was only in mid-February when I heard back from a local craft fair that they still have tables for vendors for their Spring Fair that I decided to work on my crafts. But then I ended up with severe sinusitis and headaches that went on and off  for 3 consecutive weeks. So I crafted for hours on most days in March until the night of the fair to have enough items to sell. Lo and behold I ended up with what people would probably prepare for a year. No kidding! I am well stock for another 3 craft shows or more. And I thought I didn’t have enough so I just kept going. When our girls go to bed at night, I stayed up and crafted. Hence, a sleep deprived momma.
  2. Decide what you want to showcase and focus on that. I had a hard time doing this. If I could do it over again, I think I would still struggle in this area. If you look at my display, there’s a bunch of everything. It’s like Walmart. Okay maybe not to that extent, but you get what I mean. I think it would help to have a unified theme/category. But as much as I tried drilling this nugget into my head, I still ended up with a multitude of things. I think someone would have to pry some supplies out of my white knuckles before that could happen. It all started with scarves and the memory locket necklace that I wanted to give to my sister. And then it moved on to earrings, to bracelets, to beaded necklaces, hair accessories and then fridge magnets. And I know they will continue to branch out to other things. I just can’t help it! But if you want to keep your sanity intact, and your craft supplies to a minimum, please heed my warning. Let’s say if you want to make jewelry, ask yourself what materials do you want to invest on. Would that be glass beads, acrylic beads, or a combination? Then stick to that. Make a collection of beaded jewelry (necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings). It still falls under one category or a unified theme. BEADS. Or if you want to use BUTTONS, then use this material (whether wooden or acrylic or both) to make your crafts.
  3. Invest on good tools and materials. When I first bought my jewelry tools, and earring supplies, I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I didn’t take any classes on jewelry making. Sure I watched a dozen videos online to learn how to make earrings, and looked at hundreds of pictures on Google and Pinterest for ideas, but it’s only until I started making my very first pair that I really understood what I have learnt from my research. And it was only when I started experimenting on different brands of tools and different materials that I ended up really pleased with my finished products. I started with silver plated materials. Eventually, I invested a little bit more on buying 925 silver for my supplies. It takes me the same amount of time to make a pair of earrings using either metals. But with 925 silver I know my items will last longer so I can sell it for a little bit more. Right now, I am still making silver plated earrings just to use up all the ones I already bought.
  4. Research the fair you’d like to participate in. This I failed to do. When an opportunity arise for me to join a craft show, I took it without asking further questions like “Have you done this before?”, “What were the previous years like?”. I would have known better what to expect if I have done this. I just found out during the fair that it was their first Spring Craft and Vendor Sale. In the past they have always done their fair in the summer and according to them the previous year was so packed they had to change their floor plan for the spring event. Sadly, that was not the case for the Spring Sale. It was slow for everyone. I felt bad for those who didn’t even make enough to pay for their space. I was disappointed and I could see that others who were newbies like me were discouraged. I think we all learnt something new that day so it wasn’t all for nothing. My husband who has been very supportive of me and my crafting tried boosting my morale for saying I had the best display. Bless his heart!
  5. Pick the table closest to the door, or the table by the walls. When I first came in to the site, I saw my name on the table next to the table by the door. It was a corner table. My feeling at the time was neutral. I was just excited to set-up so I didn’t care where my table was. I was happy to see that a gal from our church was also participating in the same event. She has the first table in the center aisle. She asked if we can sit beside each other and was hoping she will be moved to the corner with me, but they moved me next to her instead. When people started showing up for the sale, I noticed that a couple of them went from table to table from entrance to exit without stopping by the tables in the center aisle. I thought that was odd, but I didn’t pay much attention to that. Then, I saw a friend of mine and her husband leaving the site without stopping by to see me, so I ran after them. I found out that they were actually going to the next room to see if there were more vendors there because they didn’t see me at all. They completely missed the whole center aisle which has 4 tables!!! I mentioned this to the gal sitting on the table beside me and she noticed the same thing too. Perhaps if the 4 tables in the aisle were facing back to back with the 2 tables facing the entrance, the customers would have a better view of the tables in the middle of the room. I wished I have mentioned this to the facilitator right away. Maybe they would have done something about it, or not. Who knows? When I finally did, it was already late in the game. She did say that last summer they had it set it up that way. But because they were jammed pack then, the floor plan made it more difficult for people to move around. So they made their changes for the Spring Sale. In other words, it was a trial run. We were guinea pigs! If only I stayed where I was originally placed, I might have made better sales because I was the first table for fashion accessories. Also, my set-up would have worked better for me. Lesson learned, the center aisle is not where people go first. It’s actually the last! Ouch! I should have known this being a buyer myself. But I was so focused on selling, I forgot to put myself into their shoes. Never again! (I hope!). And I hope you’ll learn from my mistake too!
  6. Proper display positioning. I know there is a better terminology for this, but I couldn’t think of it right now so for a lack of a better word, we’ll just stick to that. What do I mean by this? When you set up your display, make sure that customers can see your items in all angles. In my original table, I only had a partial blind spot. My shutter arrangement, as pretty as they were, covered a portion of my display. But being the 2nd table from the entrance, I think I could still easily get away with it. But when I got moved to the center aisle, I had blind spot in all angles. That was a HUGE mistake on my part! If the buyers can see what you’re selling in all directions, the more likely they will stop by to check you out, specially if you have something interesting to offer. I have to admit, my set-up was better suited for a store window display. I need to come up with something more practical for a craft show. (I will welcome any suggestions from anyone specially those who had experience in this area. Please comment below!). So if you are a newbie like me, think of how you can effectively display your items for everyone to see. 
  7. Make sure your buyers can see/read your tag price clearly. I used coloured sticker dots to price my items. I had a ledger on the top of the shutter that says the price of corresponding colours. I’ve seen people do this in stores. But it didn’t work well for me. You see I didn’t want to tarnish or cheapen the look of my items so instead of putting the dots in front of the packaging for everyone to see, I put it in the back. However, this works okay in stores because customers feel free to look at products closely and inspect them without a salesperson standing in front of them. If prices are not very clear, you’ll lose interest of potential customers who don’t like to ask questions or engage in a conversation. I need a better system of pricing my items. One that maintains the clean look of my packaging, but still with a tag price that is clear and easy to read, Any suggestions?
  8. Invest on a good quality paper for business cards. When I first made my business cards, I used the 65 lb cardstock paper I bought at Walmart. Unfortunately, I find them too flimsy.  And because I am using my business cards as my earring cards, I needed something thicker. Vista print was having a 50% discount on their business cards last month so I took advantage of that. I created my own design and have them printed them for me (I only paid $7.99 for 500 pieces! Sweeeet!) and in 2 days, I got my professional looking business cards. I can’t beat that price even if I print my own! The paper alone can easily cost me $10 or more and then I have to use my printer ink and then cut the cards into the right size. It sure saved me a lot of work! However, if you wish to print your own business cards, I would suggest that you stick to the 80 lb cardstock paper or heavier.
  9. Packaging techniques. If you can use your business cards to package your items, you can save some in your packaging cost. Also, if you do it this way, even if you forget to hand them out to your customers, they would still have your information.
  10. Flexible price. Make sure that you offer your customers more than just one set price (if possible). Let say for example your item is $5. As an added option you can say, if they buy 3 they can get it for $12. With this strategy, you get to sell more (hopefully!) and save a little bit on packaging as you are only using 1 bag for these 2 items. However, this may not always work depending on what items you sell and how they are packaged.
  11. Invest on a cash box if you can. I didn’t, since this was my first craft fair and I wished to not spend anymore than I had been. I have looked around and they can be pretty pricey! If you can get them for cheap in a second hand store or you know someone that owns one who will be willing to lend it to you, you’re good! A cash box can be so handy especially if you need to leave your station for a little bit. Just make sure you keep it in a safe place (like under the table) and not in plain sight to tempt someone to steal all your hard work! Since I didn’t have a cash box, I used a chocolate tin can and used ziplock bags for my change that I labeled with a Sharpie. I just used a rubber band to keep the lid close and then put my “cash box” stashed under the table together with the rest of my personal stuff.
  12. Bring food and water. The more you can avoid leaving your booth/table, the better, especially if you are on your own. You just never know when a sale can happen. It could be while you’re in line waiting to pay for your sandwich! So be prepared to stay in your station unless nature calls!
  13. Socialize with other sellers. If you are an introvert like me who doesn’t like small talk, perhaps engaging in a conversation with your competitors about the weather can be daunting. But think of it this way, these people are also potential buyers. In fact, I had some of them buy some items from me, and I (or should I say my husband) bought some from them as well. You are in a community with them, and you need to support each other. Also, if there’s anything you can help them with, however small that would be, don’t hesitate. However, if you wish not to chat, or to get too involved with them, at least give them a friendly smile.
  14. Pack everything the night before. I don’t like rushing getting out the door. When I do, I tend to forget things. So before I went to bed (even though it was really really late again!), I packed everything I needed to bring.
  15. Bring a calculator. If you don’t trust yourself to do quick math in your head, I would suggest you bring a solar calculator. I know cellphones have calculators but if for some reason you forgot to charge your phone and your table is not close to an outlet, you might find yourself short changing your customers or yourself.
  16. Bring crafts to make, or a book to read. Nobody wants a slow day on a craft sale especially if it’s just a one day event. You want your day to be busy making sales as much as possible! But if you do happen to have a “slow day”, there’s nothing worse than watching the second hand move with every tick, tock. It will just make the day seem longer, and the excitement you felt while you were setting up will quickly turn into drudgery. I was glad that the site had access to wifi. So when I wasn’t making sales, or chatting with a friend, I was working on posting photos of my items on social media.
  17. Take photos of your crafts and post them online. Facebook is free and so are other online social platforms out there. But when you join a craft show, your space is not. So when you end up not selling all your items in the fairs you go to, why not sell them online? We are more connected to the rest of the world now, even more than you think. So take advantage of what is already at your fingertips.

I think I can go on and on with all the things I have learned that day. But I don’t want to bore you anymore than I already had, so we’ll stop at 17.

Happy Crafting!

❤ Zhi

Flat Doors (Hallway) Makeover

I don’t know why but for some reason, most of my DIY projects around the house were done during the time that I was pregnant with my girls, which makes bending, and climbing ladders or chairs, and painting, a little bit challenging. Nonetheless, my growing tummy never slowed me down. It’s actually the opposite! I guess you can say I was nesting!

One of the projects I did while I was pregnant with our second was brightening up our dark hallway by painting all 5 doors. The doors were all plain flat hollow doors too, which I wasn’t crazy about. But to replace all the doors would cost us an arm and a leg, so I thought I can probably just spruce it up for a couple of bucks!

The first door is a cabinet bifold door where we store some kitchen stuff that we don’t use often. The one after that is the door to the main floor 4pc bathroom. The 3rd door is the guest room. The one at the end of the hallway is now our toddler’s bedroom and the one on the right is the nursery.

OUR HALLWAY BEFORE…

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So for this project, I decided I will put 2 panels per door to give it more dimension (I skipped this part for the bifold cabinet doors). I made my measurements and used a masking tape to guide me where I am going to put the trims.

For the first panel, I measured 5 inches from the top of the door, 5 inches from each side, and 3 inches from the top of the door knob.

For the second panel, I had to measure 3 inches below the door knob, 5 inches on each side, and 6 inches from the bottom of the door.

Measuring these panels would have been easier if the doors are perfectly square to the door frames. But since the house is already 40 years old, that wasn’t the case. I couldn’t entirely rely on the level I was using so I made a couple of adjustments here and there so they would “look” leveled. (I think that’s why  for an old house, it’s a good idea to make the measurements while the doors are still attached to the frames to see what it would look like).

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Then we went to Home Depot to get my trim. I decided to get one that is 3/4 inch wide. As I was marking where to cut my trim, our firstborn was intrigued by the masking tape on the doors and started peeling them off! I had to eventually barricade the hallway so she can’t get to them.

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Before I painted the doors, I had to prep them first. I looked for obvious dings and scratches and used a wood putty to fill them up. The bottom part of the bifold cabinet door wasn’t square so I had to build up layer after layer of wood putty to make it as level as it could be. And then I sanded the doors and wiped them down with a damp cloth before painting them.

BEFORE

AFTER

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For the bedroom and bathroom doors, I started painting the inside panel the same paint colour as the walls. (The previous owners left some paint behind that I was able to use. Jackpot!). I kept the doors attached to the door frames while doing this, just because it was in the middle of winter and I cannot bring them outside. Once the inside panel was dry, I removed the tape and carefully painted the outside panel the same paint colour as the door mouldings.

After my husband cut the trim for me, I painted them using the same paint I used for the outside panel. I tried attaching the trim to the door using wood glue while keeping it upright but it wasn’t working well for me so I had to eventually bring them down. I used some masking tape to hold the trim in place as the glue dries and then I secured them in place using a staple gun my husband bought for me.

I replaced the old metal cabinet pull with a wooden knob that I painted the same colour as the door.

Now the hallway looks so much brighter and the doors blend in well with the rest of the house!

OUR HALLWAY NOW.

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Now all I need is to find a better looking light fixture to complete this hallway makeover. But we are too cheap to replace the old one. Hahaha. I might just come up with another DIY for that. Unless I can find a bargain somewhere! Who knows?

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Personalized Charm Necklace

I can’t believe it has been over a week since I have visited my own website. Perhaps it doesn’t seem that long ago for me because I constantly “journal” in my head… but they never seem to make it anywhere… whether it’s on paper or here. Sometimes I find that I do not have the luxury of time to sit down and write. And when I do find the time to escape from all that’s going on in my life, I ended up staring at a blank screen until something calls me back to reality, whether it’s time to feed or change a crying baby, or let the dog out, or stir a bubbling pot, or even fold the laundry that’s done drying.

Lately, apart from being a full-time mom, I have been preoccupied with my crafts.

On April 8th, I am going to be a vendor at the Spring Craft Fair at Chesley Community Church. This is my first time joining a craft fair so I hope I can see some of you there for support! It’s open from 10am -4pm if any of you wishes to stop by.

And since we are in March already I am now starting to worry if I can actually pull it off. What if I end up not having enough products to sell? What if people end up not liking them? What if I am just wasting all my time for nothing? So many what-ifs!

I craft because I find it de-stressing. If I have the time, I like making handmade gifts or cards because I get to give a part of me to people who receive them. So even though it takes me longer to make something for someone, it doesn’t matter because all the time and effort I put into it is part of what makes the gift special.

I wish to incorporate the same philosophy to whomever will buy my items at the craft fair. When they pick up something from my craft table I would like them to feel special. I’d like them to see that the person behind the crafts put her heart into every item. That the products weren’t just made in a rush to make a profit. I want to achieve perfection! Which probably makes me a lousy entrepreneur. Being a perfectionist, I have a very high standard. So if it doesn’t pass me, it goes in the reject pile that I would have to tinker away when I have the time.

So when crafting becomes a chore,  I think that’s when I need to step back and just breathe and make something else that will give me a sense of purpose.

I once told a friend, I felt useless because I do not know how to help her. That thought weighed heavy on me even after I blurted it out to her. Eventually, I found a way (as little as it was) to give something of myself to her to let her know I’m with her during this difficult time. I made her an adjustable satin cord necklace with charms that I specifically gathered from my collection to tell a story of a special chapter in her life.

personalized-adjustable-charm-necklace-_wm.jpg I handmade a necklace cardholder to put the necklace in, with cut out butterflies, and wrote a quote from Anne Lamott about grace.

I tied a hemp cord to close the card and embellished it with a flower cut out from old wedding invitation with the word beloved in it.

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I wrote her a letter as well, but that’s too personal to share here so  that would be just between me, her and God.

This craft is just what I needed to do to step away from the mundane sewing and hot gluing of headbands and hair clips.

It’s craft like this that makes me enjoy being in the midst of the chaos, and not worry about the mess one bit.

 

The Farm Book

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Our firstborn was 18 months old when my mother-in-law visited us again. My husband’s family lives in a farm in Manitoba so we don’t see them often except for the yearly visit we make and the occasional visits we get from some of them who managed to fly to Ontario.

The first time my mother-in-law came up to our neck of the woods was in April last year, just 2 months after I gave birth to our first. She knew we were flying to visit them that summer to show them our baby, but she still flew to see Mira. She said she doesn’t want to miss the chance to see her in person while she is still small. Babies do change a lot in a short span of time. And Mira was no exception! At 4 months, she has gained a lot. (I still remember her big chubby legs!). And her very spirited personality started to show.

Fast forward to the present time, Mira is a highly independent toddler. She likes to learn things on her own. She muses herself with anything she can put her hands on. She likes to figure things out. She’s a thinker. And nothing escapes her watchful eyes. In the comfort of our home, she loves to talk. Mostly babbles. It’s more recently that they are starting to be more intelligible. But even though she doesn’t say a lot of understandable words for her age, she is very sharp. Sometimes I forget that she’s not even 2.

Just this August, we got a visit from her grandma again. Our secondborn was only a month old, while Mira was 18 months and 2 weeks old. It was a very short visit but it definitely left a huge impression on her. In the morning, while my husband and I would sleep in for a bit after being up late attending to the needs of our newborn, Mira had her grandma’s undivided attention. From our bedroom downstairs, I could hear them playing together in the living room upstairs.

Mira has one of the sweetest laugh I’ve ever heard. And it’s so contagious! I’m not just saying this because she’s my daughter, but because others who hear her laugh, laugh as well. The thing is, Mira often has a serious face. It’s so the opposite of her younger sister who freely gives away smiles to anyone. But when Mira is happy, everyone around her can tell. I could tell she was happy with her grandma’s full attention. Being the firstborn, she’s used to having that from my husband and I. But now that Diane is in the mix, she now has to share us with her.

One of the things that my mother-in-law gave Mira in her last visit was an old, discarded-from-the-community-library children’s book. Its front and back covers were creased. But the pages were intact. It has simple pictures with large fonts. She said she used to read it to my husband and to the rest of her kids when they were little. The book was copyrighted in 1964. No offense to the author, but it doesn’t really have much of a story except for detailing the simple life in the farm in short, simple sentences. It talks about the chores and the animals. And it ends up with how happy the kids were for their fried chicken supper made by their mother.

Clearly there wasn’t anything extraordinary about the book. Not the story, nor the presentation. It doesn’t have glitters that seems to appeal to young ones, specially to a girl. The book has no built-in music like some of the new cool books nowadays. No buttons to push, no curly tails or soft fussy downs to touch. It even has a scratched off Dewey decimal classification number on the binder, and a word “discard” was stamped on the front cover. But despite all her many books, old and new, this is her favourite! And when it comes to the page where the children in the book goes to school on a school bus, she smiles and waves to them. Something her grandma did with her when they got to that page. Two months had passed and she still waves to the kids everytime we get to that part. Only this time, not only does she waves to them, she also says “ba-yee” (her way of saying bye). 

It doesn’t matter where I put this farm book on her shelf. When I would ask her to grab us a book to read, she would come out of her room carrying it. This amazes me! The book is so thin and can easily be overlooked among the many books that is crowding her tall white bookshelf. For her to find it means she carefully scanned her book collection in order to do so. And this she does every single time as I don’t always put it back where it has previously been. All for what? So she can flip through the pages of this old, beaten book and wave to the kids as they go school? I think not. I think there’s more to it than that. Perhaps the farm book reminds her of her grandma, her kind voice, her gentle spirit, and the genuine love she felt from her during her short visit with us. It wasn’t the story or the pictures that made this book special. It was her morning reading time with her grandma that made it so.

Therefore, I made a solemn vow to myself that I shall keep this book no matter what condition it ends up being. Perhaps someday as I become a grandma myself to Mira’s little ones, I can pass on two generations of love that is tuck into the pages of this simple, yet well-adored farm book.