Hey, look, I know things are a mess. I took a hiatus from blogging and decided to switch up my design before returning. Please be patient, because if you can wait out the mess it means REGULAR POSTING WILL RETURN SOON! :D

Hooray!

Tuesday, May 31

Failed It or “Nailed” It?

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw a new feature I’ll be doing (most likely on Facebook exclusively) called “Failed it, or “Nailed” It?”

When I give myself a manicure I’ll upload an Instragram picture to share. And you can share your feedback. If interested, I can detail how I did it and what polish brands and colours I used.

My latest one is perfect for picnic season. :)

In other news…we signed a rental agreement and mailed our deposit for a duplex that is a 20 minute walk from the University of Calgary. It’s large enough that we’re sharing with Uncle Spencer…yay for live-in babysitters, right? We haven’t met our neighbours yet, but our landlord tells us they have a two-year-old and a four-year-old. They also have a trampoline in their backyard. I’m sure Lucy will want to make friends right away.

I’m excited to move, thrilled even (yay Ikea! yay zoo! yay children’s museum! yay “real” city!). But I’m also a lot sadder than I expected to be. Lucy has lived more than half her life in this apartment. It is the only home she’s ever known. It will be hard to leave. And, despite having gone so long in Medicine Hat without what we would consider real friends, in the past year we’ve actually made quite a few. We will not only have to start all over in Calgary, but darn it, we’re going to miss these folks!

We’re moving at the end of the month. So, if you’re interested in guest posting during that time, drop me a line with a post proposal.

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Wednesday, May 25

The Orchid That Would Not Die

Orchid

This baby has been oft neglected but somehow, my black thumb has failed to kill her off. This is probably the third time she has bloomed. I keep thinking “Well, that’s done it. This is it. I’ve finally killed it.” But no, suddenly there are ten+ buds and they start blooming like crazy.

I have a zombie orchid.

Plants vs. Zombies? Nope. Plants ARE zombies.

Awe.some.

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Tuesday, May 24

Summer Printable

Memorial Day weekend is coming up, as is the month of June. And you know what that means…

…PICNIC SEASON!

We just had our May long weekend for Victoria Day. Unfortunately, it was rainy, so no picnics for us. Here’s hoping that wherever you are, the weather treats you well.

And here’s a little 5x7 picnic printable for you. Print it, stick it in a frame, and enjoy it! There are three different versions (including one with slightly less saturated colors). Click on whichever suits your fancy to get the full size version (version two, in the middle, is my personal favorite). Then right click and save.

 picnic-1 picnic-2 picnic-3

If you like this free printable, please consider making a donation to the victims of the Slave Lake fires, or the people of Joplin. The Red Cross is our family’s go-to organization for disaster relief. They are trustworthy, and they know what they’re doing and do it well:

And don’t forget to sign up for the Hollyday Studios newsletter to get access to exclusive freebies, special deals, and first access to announcements!

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Monday, May 23

Free Printable!

Have you missed me?

I’ve missed you.

For the time being (and for as long as we can manage it) I’m officially a stay-at-home mom again. I’ve missed my little girl (who has disobeyed my order to stop growing up so quickly). And I’ve missed being able to devote more time and energy to Domestic Dork.

But I’ve come home, literally.

We’re moving in a little over a month, so if anyone is interested in guest blogging towards the end of June, please e-mail me.

Below is a little something I whipped up for the munchkin…

free printable lacing cards

Lacing cards!

You can print your own too! Just click on the images below to get the full size file, then right click and save.

  LacingCards2LacingCards1

You may have noticed the Hollyday Studios logo on the printables. I will be releasing my new price list this week to everyone signed up for the newsletter (and there will be a little discount code to thanks everyone who signs up).

And you will definitely want to keep an eye here on Domestic Dork, and the Hollyday Studios Facebook fan page as all freebies will be posted on one, or both, of those sites. But you can find all my old freebies here.

A lot of you started following Domestic Dork long after I had temporarily closed shop on my digital illustration work. You can browse my portfolio on Hollyday Studios or on Facebook. Here’s a little look at one of the new items I offer:

Mama Scrapbook

How fun would this be in a 12x12 scrapbook or in a shadowbox?

Totally cute, no?

And that’s all for now, as I have a two-year-old requesting my presence in her blanket cave.

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Sunday, May 22

Homemade Soda – By Andrew Schloss

The good folks at Thomas Allen & Son sent me a copy of this lovely book (per my request) to review. So far, so good!

Last night we had friends over for a round of The Game of Things. I’ve mentioned it before. Have you bought it yet? No? Go get it! But, getting back to the book, I decided that would be a good time to try out one of the recipes. There are 200 hundred recipes from which to choose, so it was a little overwhelming, until I saw that there is a whole chapter devoted to “shrubs” and similar drinks.

What is a shrub? According to Mr. Schloss shrubs are “soft drinks spiked with vinegar. They were developed as temperance beverages in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with vinegar taking the place of alcohol…”

I had my first (and until last night, only) taste of a shrub at a Colonial period-themed restaurant near Boston about six or seven years ago. I quite enjoyed it back then, and I was very excited to taste something similar. So we made the “Sangria Shrub” recipe. The feedback was mostly positive. I found the recipe called for just a tad too much vinegar, as did Uncle Dork. But my new friend K seemed to enjoy hers. She said it tasted like Sweet Tarts.

Ultimately, it was good enough that I have faith enough in the book to try more recipes. The recipe was easy to make (though some of the recipes in the book require pre-making a syrup, which will be a little more work). There are some really unique combinations (orange honey ginger ale, coffee chocolate stout, cantaloupe clementine soda, peach habanero tongue twister, etc.). And the book is peppered with interesting tidbits on the history and culture of soda, as well as the occassional “mixology” section for mixing adult drinks with the recipes. The book ends with a section of food recipes (everything from main dishes like sweet heat mahogany chicken wings to desserts like brown sugar pecan cake with root beer frosting). And everything is presented in a pretty design (though the title font on the recipes can be difficult to read at times).

My favorite part of the book so far is the wondrous and glorious secret revealed within regarding Cherry Coke. But first, some background…

We can’t buy Cherry Coke in Canada. They used to sell it years and years and yeeeaaars ago, well before I lived here. Having grown up in the states I had developed a love for this particular nectar of the gods. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make trips over the border to bring back a fridge worth (though I was able to share in someone else’s cross-border loot once or twice). Occasionally I would add some maraschino cherry juice to a glass of cola, but it was never quite the same.

This book has changed everything.

Behold, the secret to making Cherry Coke at home:

“Although we may associate cherry flavor with cherries, it is mostly because the foods it flavors are commonly dyed red. It looks like a cherry, but it tastes like…almond extract. That’s right. The flavor of all cherry-flavored concoctions is almond. The aromatic in almond extract is benzaldehyde, a toxic substance derived from bitter almonds and detoxified of cyanide for consumption. Benzaldehyde is also found in the pits of most drupe fruits, like apricots, prunes, and most notably, cherries.”

Almond extract?

Almond extract!

And, guess what, it works! Now, this may not be exciting to all you lucky people who’ve had steady access to the glory that is Cherry Coke. But for us forsaken residents of the Great White North, this is better than any rapture.

It also says to me that the author, Andrew Schloss, knows what the heck he’s talking about! So if you’re interested in making sodas at home (whether it be because you’re a foodie looking for some more unique flavours, or you’re concerned about the types of sweeteners being used in commercially available sodas), I highly recommend Homemade Soda: 200 Recipes for Making and Using: fruit sodas and fizzy juice; sparkling waters; root beers and cola brews; herbal and healing waters; sparkling teas and coffees; shrubs and switchels; cream sodas and floats; and other carbonated concoctions.

Now excuse me…but there’s a bottle of cola and a bottle of almond extract calling my name…

…What? I can have cherry cola with breakfast, right?

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Friday, May 13

Mommy Necklaces Winner

Well…it was a good day for somebody (even if it sucked for us).

How do I know? Well, because I drew a winner for the Mommy Necklaces giveaway!

Number 96 was Erin, who liked my FB page (thanks Erin)! She’s been e-mailed already. My sympathies to everyone who didn’t win. I wish I could give all of you free necklaces!

Have a great weekend everybody!

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Rejection

ManDork was rejected, out right, no waiting list even. We were able to see his scores, so we know what he needs to work on next cycle. But we're emotionally exhausted, and very sad today. I'll pick a winner for the MN giveaway later.
Wednesday, May 11

Med School Mama: Panic

medschoolmama

I use a lot of hyperbole on this blog. But believe me, I am not exaggerating when I tell you I am >this< close to having a panic attack.

At time of writing, we have approximately one day and twenty-one hours until THE e-mail arrives. The closer it gets the higher my blood pressure rises.

And honestly…

I have NO idea what is going to happen.

The voices in my head keep arguing:

“Adam totally kicked ass on the MCAT, his letters of recommendation were phenomenal, his extra-curriculars are impressive, and UofC is less picky about GPA* than some of those other schools. Plus he felt good about his interviews.”

“Yeah, but LOADS of people don’t get in their first try, even super qualified people! And the UofA didn’t think the extra-curricular activities were all that impressive (by the way, screw you UofA…what, 8,000+ hours of volunteering on top of musical hobbies, film making, and everything else is nothing to you?). You shouldn’t get your hopes up!”

Repeat ad infinitum.

I am losing my grip on reality.

Yesterday I bet Adam two bucks that he’d have an offer by next Friday (the waitlist moves pretty fast, so basically I was betting that he’d at least be towards the top of the waitlist).  Yesterday I was confident he’d owe me two bucks.

Today the only thing about which I feel confident is that if I can’t calm my nerves I’m going to go into shock.

For some people a rejection letter sucks, but ultimately just means “try again next year!” while they finish their undergrad.

Yeah, well…ManDork already finished undergrad. He’d really not like to rack up more student loans finishing a second undergrad while applying year after year. When you’re in your late twenties and have family responsibilities the pressure is greater.

Besides, that man has worked his ass off for this. He’s spent the last two years invested in this and it all comes down to one day, Friday.

And here’s the thing…I think the admin people at University of Calgary would be fools to turn Adam away. Sure, I’m biased, but I also know Adam better than anybody.

He is smart. He is passionate. He knows, first hand, how important it is for doctors to NOT BE ASSHOLES. He loves science. He learns quickly and easily. He can work with multiple personality types. He works hard. And he’s so humble that he cannot even see how true these statements really are and how awesome he really is.

I am lucky to be married to him, and UofC would be lucky to have him.

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*Adam has what most normal people would consider a good GPA, but when the competition has 3.89, 3.92, etc. things get tough.

Sunday, May 8

Mommy Necklaces: Giveaway!!!

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED


I am obsessed.
ManDork thinks I’m crazy.
Maybe he’s right…
But what can I say? I LOVE Mommy Necklaces.
Because I wear almost nothing else, when it comes to jewelry (I’m not walking around naked except for a necklace people), I have quite a bit of a collection. And I was sent this one to add to the collection for the purposes of this post:
MNpost
Totally drool-worthy colours, no? The bad news is that this particular necklace is OOP (out of production).* The good news is that you can get OOP necklaces by placing custom orders. And the OTHER good news is that tomorrow Wednesday is the expected release date of all the new styles and updated collections! There have been amazing previews on the Facebook page. And, like all the fans, I’m am chomping at the bit to snag some (especially some of the new “Chic Strands”)! The ladies at MN have been crazy busy, so it could be a bit delayed. But if not tomorrow, definitely next week!
But enough about me and my necklaces, here’s why YOU should love them:
Top ten reasons to love Mommy Necklaces?
10. AMERICAN. Made in the USA with USA produced components. Would I prefer to buy Canadian? Sure, I guess…(though not enough to buy a knock-off, BOO)! When I can’t buy Canadian, Made in the USA is my next choice. I like knowing my necklaces aren’t being made by eight year olds working 12 hours days. And, knowing most of you live in the States, I’ll bet you’ll be pleased to know Mommy Necklaces are totally American.
9. SMALL. Made by moms like me! It’s nice to support the little guys, ya know?
8. VARIETY! These necklaces come in a lot of different styles such as: dangling donuts, tear drops, locked donuts, and so on. Check the site (hopefully) tomorrow Wednesday to see the entire selection.
7. COLOR. I promise, whatever outfit you want to match, you will almost certainly find a necklace to coordinate. And if not? Well…
6. CUSTOM. You can order custom necklaces for a small fee in addition to the normal price. I have some pretty exciting plans to order customs for some of my favorite holidays. If ManDork gets into UofC this cycle I’m totally getting one in the school colours to celebrate (and then insisting Adam take me to football games because I miss me some football)! Plus I’ve seen some pretty neat custom designs other ladies have ordered to match dresses for weddings and other special events.
6. SAFE. Mommy Necklaces tests their components. You don’t want to be wearing toxic levels of lead and cadmium…especially if your little one might be playing with your jewelry.
5. DURABLE. These things are TOUGH. Don’t believe it? Well, Mommy Necklaces offers a 0-3 guarantee! If your necklace breaks during normal use within three years of purchase you can send it back to have fixed. I’d like to see a warranty like that on my electronics!
4. CLEVER: designed to be “abused.” These necklaces are made to withstand motherhood. Who wants their necklace to snap when tugged on by little hands, only to have little beads roll everywhere? Not that my kid would ever do that…noooooooooooo….never…of course not. <---Total lie. Well, Mommy Necklaces plans ahead for tugging, snagging, and so on. They make their necklaces with breakaway clasps. Check it out (sorry for the up the nose angle):

Another clever design idea? Matching bracelets that can be used to extend the shorter styles.
3. LOVE. The Mommy Necklaces ladies really care about us, their customers. They interact daily with us on the Facebook group. And I can say, from personal experience, that when it comes to customer service, they go above and beyond!
2. BEAUTY and STYLE. Come on, admit it, they’re just super cute and pretty!
1. A nursing mom’s BEST FRIEND. Ah yes, the original reason for Mommy Necklaces…if you’ve ever nursed a distracted baby or a babe who insists on scratching, twiddling, or pinching, you NEED a Mommy Necklace. This is jewelry with a purpose!
I love my collection so much that I asked ManDork to get me a necklace holder, just for my Mommy Necklaces, as my Mother’s Day present this year.** It’s nice to finally have a place they belong, especially a place so lovely.
IMG_5935
But now I’d like to present a Mother’s*** Day present to one of YOU, from the oh-so-wonderful ladies at Mommy Necklaces and myself:
$30.00 GIFT CERTIFICATE!
$20.00 of the gift certificate has been sponsored by Mommy Necklaces. The other $10.00 is from yours truly (after all…I did just receive that blogging grant, how could I not spread the joy?). That gives the winner enough to buy even one of the longer style necklaces. Happy Mother’s Day! :)
Anyone can enter this one, regardless of where you live. Here’s how:
  1. Leave a comment with your e-mail address telling me what necklace you would get or what you’re doing/did for Mother’s Day (either for yourself, or your mother). 1 entry
  2. Join the Mommy Necklaces Facebook page (and leave an additional comment here on this post telling me you did). 1 entry
  3. Join the Domestic Dork Facebook page (and leave an additional comment here on this post telling me you did). 1 entry
  4. Tweet this giveaway up to 2x a day (and leave a comment with a link to each tweet, NOT your twitter profile – if you do it wrong I’m not fixing it for you). 1 entry p/eligible tweet
  5. Follow this blog via Google Friend Connect (and leave a comment telling me you did/already do ). 1 entry
  6. Blog this giveaway on your own blog (and leave a comment with a link to the post, NOT just your blog landing page– if you do it wrong I’m not fixing it for you). 1 entry
Giveaway closes Friday the 13th (at an undetermined time)…because I’ll need something awesome and happy to distract me from the nervousness I’ll be feeling that day. Winner will be drawn via Random.org.
Good luck everybody! Happy Mother’s Day!

ETA: If you've previously won a Mommy Necklaces sponsored blog giveaway, you are ineligible to win this one. MN likes to give as many people as possible a chance to win. I'm sure you understand. :)
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*OOP necklaces may or may not someday come back depending on style trends and demand.
**The holder was custom made by Dashing Woods on Etsy. Fantastic product and fantastic customer service (just like Mommy Necklaces)! The frame is reclaimed barn wood.
***You need not be a Mother to enter, because while, yes, these are fantastic jewelry for moms, they look lovely on anyone. And they’re equally practical for those who are teachers, day care providers, or who work with special needs children.
Wednesday, May 4

Med School Mama: Nervous Breakdown

medschoolmama

The nightmares have begun.

At time of writing we have 8 days, 18 hours, 27 minutes and 30…29…28..etc. seconds until the dreaded/hoped for e-mail. But who’s counting?

Um, me. I’m counting.

I’m also >this< close to completely losing my $#*!. Of course, the worst thing isn’t even the nightmares, it’s the good dream I had, the dream where ManDork got in and we were utterly jubilant…

…and then I woke up.

The rumour mill tells us that about a third of the people who interviewed at University of Calgary will get a seat. But the rumour mill also says that (when you take into account people who are offered a seat but chose a different school) that in the end, 45% of interviewees will be offered a slot. But some of those people will be waitlisted…right up until the day before classes begin (true story).

If I thought it would ensure ManDork being in that 45% I would spend 45% of my time hopping on one foot while singing “Friday” and eating hot sauce. But it won’t. As it is, I spend >45% of my time worrying about Friday the 13th (yes, notification is on Friday the 13th, but no, we’re not superstitious).

This is the reality of trying to get into a Canadian med school: they weed out the weak by giving them heart attacks before they even have an offer to be admitted.

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Monday, May 2

Time Outs…That Aren’t Punishments

Recipient Button_Spr#7F957A It’s hard, when you’re a busy mom, to deal with unexpected meltdowns from one’s offspring. When you’re rushing to get things done, the last thing you want to do is take time to deal with a total conniption fit. Your kid is upset. You are upset.
It sucks.
Enter “the Love Chair.”
No matter what, a screaming toddler or preschooler is going to slow you down. But you can lessen the impact, soothe everyone’s feelings, speed up the calming down process, and reaffirm your love for your child by christening and using a “love chair” (or whatever you want to call it).
Our love chair is a pretty pathetic looking, blue mess of an arm chair which we only have in our family room because my brother-in-law (who lives in the apartment next to ours) couldn’t fit it in his tiny studio. But I love it anyway, because of what it means to my daughter and myself.
One day, when tempers were running hot and I was >this< close to losing it, something just clicked in my mind. Instead of raising my voice in answer to the kidlet’s angry complaints I asked, “Lucy, do you need to sit in the Love Chair? Let’s have some snuggles in the Love Chair.”
And we did.
And it worked.
She got the reconnection she so desperately needed. I got a moment of peace, and some sweet snuggles which reminded me how precious my little girl is. And we both got over whatever dispute or problem was plaguing us (as is often the case, in hindsight, it was completely forgettable and ultimately unimportant).
If you need a special parenting tool for your “tool box” of techniques to deal with the maddening tantrums of early childhood, why not designate a Love Chair, or couch, or pile of pillows or whatever works best for you?
Then, in those moments when you and your child are both out of patience and out of your minds, stop. Sit. Snuggle. Even if the problem doesn’t go away, you’ll both be better equipped to solve it once you’re calm and reconnected.
Children need to be reminded that, even when mum or dad are angry, they are still loved. And parents need to be reminded that, even when kids are stubborn and rude and infuriating that we still love them. That’s what makes the Love Chair so important in our house.
Time outs can be a positive experience. They don’t have to be a punishment. They can be a time for strengthening connection and bringing peace to your heart.
Besides…someday your kid will be 14 and will prefer storming off to her room while yelling “I HATE YOU” to snuggling, so you might as well get as many snuggles as you can now.
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This post brought to you by Mom Central Canada. Thank you so much for supporting bloggers via your blogger grant program, and thanks especially for choosing me to be a recipient!
Blog content (including digital illustrations, photos, and writing) may not be used without the permission of the blog author.

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