snowflake window garland.


snowflake-garland

last week was super warm here in SW ontario. it was even, what some might call HOT, on some days reaching +20c!!!

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on the weekend the boys and i decided to help mother nature along by enticing her with our very own snowflakes! we folded our square papers, and cut, cut, cut. we made different sizes and oohed n’ aahed over the different patterns we were each creating. 

we pressed the snowflakes in a heavy book overnight, then i carefully taped them onto white sewing thread. i tied the end of the thread to a pretty weathered branch i found in our shed. (i collect all sorts of natural treasures like sticks, rocks, acorns, leaves, feathers… ) and, voila… a snowflake garland is made. DH wired the branch from an existing curtain rod. 

the project itself is very easy, but the impact it has is striking, lovely and to our pleasure inspired mother nature to throw some snow our way and drop the temperatures A LOT! it sure does feel like winter now!

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xo, mama lola

syrian refugee project; why i’ve been MIA

i have been MIA from this space for a long time! it’s not something i am going to get into here, right now, because i have something pretty great to share with you instead!

something that i am totally & completely proud of!

one main reason i have been distracted from my blog is i have been volunteering for the syrian refugees arriving in our community soon. a local business man, jim estill, has sponsored 50 families! yes, that’s right 50 families, not 50 persons, 50 families! we don’t even know how many people are in each family, how old these people are or any of the details. we were told that the average size of a family is 7 members. this project is estimated to cost $1.5 million!

this what the warehouse looked like before the avalanche of donations arrived.

syrian refugee project, guelph

thank goodness this cardboard was laid down on the floor; my knees and feet will be forever grateful considering some days i have clocked almost 10, 000 steps before noon. i know this thanks to my fitbit!

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all of the furniture has been removed from our warehouse and transferred to another location providing much more space for the clothing we are sorting.

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i started volunteering in the new year. it was quite overwhelming when i first arrived, with enormous piles of clothing, stacks of bowls and plates and furniture. many volunteers at our location created kitchen starter packs which include plates, bowls, cutlery, cooking utensils. really just to get everyone started with the bare minimum of kitchen supplies. some people went out and generously purchased brand new cutlery! it is such a great feeling to see we also initially were sorting bedding, linens, towels and toys. these items have also been moved to different location, because really THERE IS SO MUCH STUFF! which is good, because it is hard to understand how much stuff people will actually need to start their lives all over again in canada.

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our location has now formally become the clothing distribution centre, which means the syrian newcomers will book appointments in order to come and choose clothing for themselves. we have clothing from size newborn to XXXL, in all shapes, colours, styles, textiles, patterns, textures and for every season. i have sorted through clothing looking for tears, holes, staining, ensuring the zippers and buttons work, that pockets are empty, hoods are attached and that the items are in general good condition. if things don’t look good enough for myself or my family, we chuck them. we bag the unwanted clothes and send it off to a company that resorts it, and eventually recycles the clothes. 

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all clothing is sorted into kids, men’s and women’s. the kids clothes are sorted further into boys and girls, and then into ages. dresses, skirts, blazers, suites and winter coats are all hung on rolly racks, while sweaters, blouses, t-shirts, pants, shorts, sleepware, scareves, gloves, mitts and hats are all packed into boxes.

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the above personal items have all been meticulously inspected for expiration dates, new packaging and all small electrical appliances and things have all been tested.

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i work with the loveliest of people from all walks of life, from all over the world. there are the regulars who come every day of which some work all day from 9am to 4:30pm. then there are people like me who come often, but only work one shift either from 9am to 12:30pm or 12:30pm to 4:30pm. then there are other’s who come when they can, which may not be often, but their help is necessary and needed. the work we do is not glamorous, in fact some days are mind numbingly dull, if weren’t for the other people there! we all suffer from various aches and pains at the end of our shifts, but we all still seem to come back!

i feel proud of my community for coming together and helping the refugees who so desperately deserve it. we live in such excess, which has really been shoved in my face during my time volunteering.  

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i am dorking it out with the mayor centre, and some of our lovely volunteers.

 

>>> some of the photo’s in this post were taken by another faithful volunteer, pete. not sure how much of his identity i should reveal!

more photo’s and volunteer tales to come, i promise!

 

xo, mama lola

how to make your own felted balls.

i love, LOVE working with felt. i’m not really sure why, but there is something about the way the material feels.

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last year i bought a bunch of roving wool and made felt bowls. they were a bit time consuming to make, but they turned out great! you can check-out the pictures and tutorial HERE.

this year, i have decided to try something new with my roving wool.

>>> felted balls<<<

you see them all over pinterest so i thought i would give it a go. roving wool can be purchased at most craft supply stores, i got mine at michael’s. 

oh-mah- goodness it was fun! time consuming and drying on the hands, but so worth all the cracks on my thumbs! there is something meditative about standing at my kitchen window, in front of the sink, felting. i love the process of choosing the colours to work with, but not knowing what kind of patterns or swirls the rowing wool will ultimately create!

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so here’s what you do:

  1. gather a large handful of the roving wool. you can choose a few different colours or just use one colour.
  2. you will want to work close to a sink. i filled a bowl with dish soap and hot water, soaking the wool and gently creating spherical shape with the roving wool.

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3. keep wetting the wool in hot water and soap. the hot water and soap help create the friction needed for the felting process. use two hands to create the felt ball, by rubbing the roving wool in between your palms in a circular motion.

4. to make one felted ball can take half an hour. try to relax your shoulders, because after a while of doing this i found my upper body was getting very tense. 

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5. once you are satisfied with the density and shape of your ball, rinse it very well. this can take a while, but you want to ensure the soap is all out of the ball. set the felted balls on a hand towel and let sit for a couple of days to completely air dry before making anything with them.

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aren’t they lovely?

you can get super creative with your felted balls and make all sorts of fun things with them. things like garlands for any occasion, necklaces, hotplates, rugs, zipper decorations, key chains… just check google or pinterest for ideas and tutorials!

xo, mama lola

my homework.

guys! i’ve gone back to school! 

it’s pretty scary, intimidating and did i mention scary???

years and years ago i started my women’s studies degree at the the local university here in town. i loved the program. then i became pregnant with bear and took some time off, returning part-time when bear was about 18 months old. i completed almost half of my degree when the university stupidly discontinued the entire program. it was devastating for me as a woman, as a mama and as a student. when i was pregnant with lion i took my last course at the uni towards my degree.

i always knew i would return to my studies when i was ready. it took me a while to find the courage to head back. the thought of sitting in a lecture hall with 21 year old’s really intimidated me. plus, i wanted to get my health back in order after dealing with my pituitary tumour for a few years. now that the boys are both in school full time i have decided to gently enter the world of academia myself. i was accepted at athabasca university where i will be completing my women and gender studies degree online. to easy my way in i am only taking one class; an english composition course. it’s mandatory for me to complete in order to graduate.

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for fun, i thought i would share my first piece of homework. lotds of people are curious about my back-to-school life! i had to read about paragraphs and write my own introductory one to share with my prof. 

 

Paragraph 1

It is a miserable November Friday here in south western Ontario. The furnace is pumping away trying to warm up the house my coffee is brewing in the kitchen all the while our two cats, Leo and Poppy, have found cozy, warm spots to curl up for their usual morning naps. My kids are at school hopefully enjoying whatever fun kindergarten and grade 2 have to offer. My husband is off in the big city today enduring work meetings, while I putter around our home completing homework assignments and various household tasks. Our life looks and sounds like the lives of so many other families, but it is unique, because it is ours. The routines we struggle through, the adventures we enjoy all make our little family unit special. We have survived another week of morning wake-ups and nightly bedtime shenanigans, of meetings with teachers and anxiety inducing specialist appointments. Now, the weekend is rolling in with the cold rain, blowing the fallen leaves around like empty thoughts. We are all ready for a few days without routine, without alarm clocks and the warmth our family and home create.

it’s not going to get graded, it’s for an assessment to see that i capable to complete this course.

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source

 

this weekend the kids and i have been busy crafting, crafting, crafting so keep checking back to the blog for all the fun pictures and tutorials!

and, we had our first real snow fall!!!! WOOHOOO!!!!

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first snow, bear and lion blog

this weekend the kids and i have been busy crafting, crafting, crafting so keep checking back to the blog for all the fun pictures and tutorials!

 

xo, mama lola

felt envelopes for santa claus!

oh my goodness! look at what i found!

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i was researching other christmas crafts when i saw these lovely, adorable felt envelopes to santa claus! of course i pinned the ideas and decided to make a round-up post for inspiration.

first i’ll share what i made.

i used felt, thread, hot glue gun and my sewing machine just a little. 

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i used a blanket stitch to sew the edges of the envelope together. i wasn’t too concerned about the evenness of the stitches, creating a childlike quality to the project. then i used my scrap felt to cut out the letters, stamp and holly embellishments.   

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i have lots of scraps of felt that i save for detailing for all sorts of projects. here i used the small pieces for holly, the reindeer’s face and antlers and the stamps. i just hot glue gunned them on.

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then i embroidered some simple wintery stars on the back of one of the envelopes. 

TA-DAA!!!

i just love them!

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below i have included ideas that vary from quite intricate to very simple. school aged kids could even make one of the easier versions of the envelopes. 

 

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writing to santa : diy felt envelopes from city girl gone coastal 

 

santa envelopes 2  letter to santa claus felt envelope from not on the high street

(this one is not a tutorial, but a envelope for sale) 

 

santa envelopes 3felt envelope by michale ann via paper + stitch

 

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personalised felt christmas letter to santa envelope from cut out and keep

 

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christmas wish-list felt envelope from jumbbleberries

 

if you’re not feeling crafty, check etsy for these felt envelopes. there are many creative people there making fantastic envelopes; go check them out by just putting “santa felt envelopes”into the search and enjoy!

these sweet things would be perfect for kids or even for gift cards!

xo, mama lola

santa claus christmas crafts!

the holidays are such a great time to get crafty with the kids.

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my boys enjoy making gifts for their family, whether it’s painting ornaments, decorating pine cones or creating sculptures out of pipe cleaners. as the boys get older they want less help from me, but i still like to have a few ideas in my back pocket just in case they hit a wall. 

here are some wonderful santa claus, or as we call him joulupukki crafts for kids and adults alike. 

santa origami

origami santa claus  from marcel’s kid crafts

 

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santa going down  a toilet paper roll chimney from crafty morning

 

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dancing santa from learning 4 kids

 

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kids santa craft from i {heart} crafty things

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santa gift tags from crafty morninng

aren’t they all just the cutest things you’ve ever seen?

i think my bear and lion will bboth want to try the origami santa. luckily, DH was a master paper folder in his youth and has retained those skills, so he can help the boys with that project!

 

happy crafting friends!

xo, mama lola

ripley’s aquarium visit in toronto


brrr…. it is -24c this morning here in southern ontario. perfect day to sit back and work on my blog with my warm coffee by my side.

a couple of weeks ago my dad turned 75! we had a great family dinner with delicious food my mum made, gifts and little wine to celebrate.  we also visited the aquarium in the big city.

the kids love to help others with their candle blowing, gift opening and cake eating!

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the ripley’s aquarium opened over a year ago and we have been meaning to go, but just haven’t found a good time. so on this our inaugural visit, we arrived just as they opened with our pre-ordered and pre-paid tickets in hand. seriously, if you can go online the night before and do this, do it! saved us time and hassle once we arrived. there were no crowds, so we were able to enjoy the fish, sharks and jellies without any hassle.

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when we were leaving around noon the line-ups were staggering for tickets and coat check… this is why you get all that done the night before online… way less hassle!

also, there is a weird cafe/ play area in the middle of your aquarium tour. there is nothing at the end, except the gift shop, but they don’t sell any drinks or snacks.

we all loved the aquarium and would love to go back one day!!!

xo, mama lola

minimalism challenge, are you up for it?

the new year puts a lot of pressure on everyone. a new year, new chapter, clean slate so it’s time to get all those things on your to-do list done: lose weight, change eating habits, start hitting that hot yoga studio regularly, stop yelling at your kids, go to bed on time, stop drinking caffeine, stop eating sugar… blah, blah, blah! although, most of these goals are great, but when you start them all at once it is a bit overwhelming… right?

keep it simple, winter,

 

so one day as i was wasting time on pinterest, i saw this (see pink chart below).

a super easy, fun, DO-ABLE 30 day minimalism challenge from into mind!

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um, how much do you love the minimalism, the simplicity of this challenge?

anyone can do this. ANYONE.

are you in?

 

sometimes it’s the little things in life that bring about big change… right? i am starting this challenge tomorrow january 27th, 2015. i don’t want to wait for a new month so start when i am motivated NOW. i will of course share my successes and (epic) failures as i move through the days of this challenge.

let me know if you’re going to join me!

 

 

xo, mama lola

forest school fun!


 

i often feel like the public school system here in ontario lacks a natural component to it’s curriculum. yes, they talk about the environment and spend time outside even on some pretty cold days, but i wish there was more time spent in nature, exploring the natural world around them. so when i found out a high school friend of mine, brandy, was starting a forest school i jumped at the opportunity to sign my lion up! because it’s in another city he only goes for one afternoon a week (instead of the two afternoon’s currently offered).

this smiling beauty below is brandy.

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the kids are all between the ages of 3 and 5. the group meets and then walks along some lovely trails to their designated site. the trail is shared with dog walkers and cross country skiers.

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below is a picture of a quick stop for a story during our walk. here brandy introduced that days theme to the kids, as they all sat on a fallen tree and listened. none of the kids complained about stopping, about being cold, or about carrying their own backpacks. AMAZING!

forest school fun

the “classroom” site is amazing! there are several teepee/ wigwam style forts that were already built in the forest. there are beautiful tall trees as far as the eye can see. the kids are allowed to climb the forts and explore the nearby area. the kids enjoyed snack, had another story and discussed various elements of that days theme.

i love watching the kids enjoying the natural world. they were so involved in it without any effort or encouragement from adults. they recognized things differently from us grown-ups creating interesting discussions about why things are the way they are.

kids are so open and free.

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on the day i was volunteering we focused on our senses;  we listened for birds, tasted snow, touched sticks and looked for interesting things in our environment. brandy encourages the kids to explore, question and get right into things. she follows the kids’ lead on things making the learning about them and not about what she assumes they might be interested in. so awesome!

the peace and calm of the forest school is what i really noticed. classrooms in buildings are full of posters, art, colours, shapes… there are almost no blank walls, everything is covered with some kind of stimulus. here in the woods the stimulus is not garish in colour or forced down the children’s throats. the natural world invites them in, gently stimulating their senses and enticing them for deeper learning. even though the kids explore the same forts, the subtle changes that occur over time is what makes outdoor learning so amazing.

below are pictures of the ice experiments the kids had created the previous thursday. they poured water in containers with some acorns and leaves to see what would happen. we hung them in the trees so the sun could catch them. so lovely!

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if you’re curious and interested in brandy’s beautiful school, wildflowers forest school, check out her facebook page HERE. there are lots more pictures and tales of the adventures they get into! currently, there is no website, but it’s in the works!

xo, mama lola

holiday update: better late than never, right?!

christmas feels like it was a million years ago, but i want to share a few pictures with you anyway.

we had such a wonderful time. it was busy, but fun!

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below is a picture of the beautiful piparkakkutalo or gingerbread house my mum made. there is a little tea light in the front that’s the skating rink, plus there’s a ladder on the side there! love it! my mum is so creative!

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the kids got twister from DH’s sister and her mister. of course we had to crack it open immediately and give it a go!

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for new years, we hit the cottage up in muskoka! there was no snow upon arrival, but withiun 12 hours heaps and heaps had fallen, and just kept coming! the forest around the cottage turned into a magical winter wonderland. this year the temperatures weren’t that cold even, so hitting the outhouse wasn’t that bad! haha!

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as soon as we arrive it’s important to get the cottage warm. so we get the fire roaring and slowly start to unpeel all of the layers we have on. our friends brought some yummy lasagna’s for dinner. aren’t the beautiful?!

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on the 31st we walked down to the lake and watched as papaD put on an amazing firework display. we all sat in the snow oohing and aahing at the gorgeous colours flashing in the sky! the it was time for sparklers up at the cottage!

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after fireworks we enjoyed some glöggi while DH read stories to all the kids. the cottage becomes a cozy nest for all of us. the christmas lights we bring up for extra fun. we re-arrange the furniture to better suit the large number of people that are there. it’s nice to have the couch in front of the fire.

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once the kids were tucked into their beds, us adults played some fun games of our own and enjoyed a few drinks!

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the following morning it was time for more tobogganing!

what a great way to start 2015!!!

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happy day to you and yours!

next week i’ll be sharing pictures from lion’s forest school, check back!

don’t forget to come and like bear & lion on facebook!

 

xo, mama lola
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