December 2014: Story #2

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One of my most vivid memories of December growing up was learning about the first Christmas. Some of the decorations at my Grandma’s apartment included a groovy 1970s ceramic Christmas tree that lit up, and a wooden nativity scene, complete with paper straw. I can still remember the big red book that my mom use to read to my sister and I about the birth of Jesus during the weeks leading up to December 25th. Finally, as a child of the 80’s, our public school Christmas concert sang songs like “Away in the Manger”, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, and “The First Noel” as well as renacting the Christmas story.   Although we have never gone to church, I can still appreciate the significance of Christmas. And when I saw the above nativity scene, I knew that we needed to include that in our home this holiday season to share it Rowan. The scene arrived last week by mail and I am love. Here’s to connecting past memories with new traditions!

Packing Project Life for A Crop

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The alternative title for this post was: thinking inside the box!

Yes, this mama / memory keeper is packing for a scrapbooking weekend away. Not only do I get two sleep ins to myself, I have the opportunity to scrapbook the entire weekend, whenever I want. Word! Seriously, I am so excited for this mini getaway. Although I will be finishing my Week in the Life album, I will also be catching up on my Project Life.

Crop

So the million dollar question: What’s my stragety for packing supplies? No surprise: it’s simple. I take one rubbermaid container and fill it to the brime. Yep, once it’s full, I can’t bring anymore. Photo paper, paper trimmer, pens, core kits and some of my favourite wood veneers + washi tape are packed in this bucket. Although, this box does not include my wide format photo printer or computer which I do allow myself to bring in another bag, everything else goes in the box. Although I don’t create my own personalized kits for a weekend away, I do limit the amount of stuff I take. And although this may seem like a lot – I have seen others pack up their entire scrap rooms. Entire scrap rooms – blergh!

Do you break down your kits to attend a crop? Heck No! I love the packaging that the core kits come in and it’s easy to keep them in their original tray. I am taking my 3 favourites core kits: Midnight, Jade and Strawberry and a few value kits: diy and glitter.

What page protectors are you taking? My current favs: Design A, 12×12 and 6×12.

How many pages do you plan to finish? Good question! I keep my expectations low and that way I am totally impressed when the weekend is over. I made the mistake of having an unrealistic goal the first time I attended a crop after having Rowan. I stayed up too late and woke up too early. I wasn’t relaxed. It showed in my pages. So if I finish one or more layouts I will be totally impressed.

How do you pack Project Life for a crop?

WITL 2014: Saturday Photos + Words

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The Photos

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The Words

12:41 PM It’s a slow start to the day. We are recovering from the night that was Halloween. Girlie slept into 8:57 AM which is unheard of in our house and totally not the norm – but we will take it! Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I slept in this late. Aaron will go to work and the rest of us are at home. Soon we will venture out of the house where it is snowing and go grocery shopping. But now – right now, we snuggle.

1:26 PM And we finally leave the house! We have a few errands to do which include getting gas and one of us having a major meltdown at the grocery store. Rowan runs up and down the stairs and almost falls head first out of the grocery cart. Although I just want to leave the store and cry, we actually need everything in our cart. I hold Rowan like a football and attempt to go through the self check out. I feel like everyone is looking and judging me. Take lots of deep breaths and push through. Good news is that in approximately 3 minutes after we leave the store, Rowan stops crying and plays happily in the back seat. There are days she listens so well and others when she doesn’t. This is one of those non listening days.

5:36 PM As I make dinner, Rowan plays. Tonight we are having steak with mushrooms, asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes. And red wine…did I mention the wine? We listen to “Songs to Raise Your Kids To” playlist on Songza. As we wait for everything to cook, Rowan and I play with playdough and review our shapes. She asks me to make circles, squares and triangles.

7:41 PM Bathtime. Daddy is home and taking the lead. I am trying not to fall asleep. I still have so much work to do.

10:33 PM Watching reruns of SNL and smiling to myself as I blog and prepare for tomorrow’s editing session and scrapbooking class.

Observations

I have hit the memory keeping wall! I keep telling myself, just one more days and it will be over. I know that it will all be worth it in the end. Falling back on some favourite ways to document: only using my iPhone and using black and white photos.

Gratitude

I am thankful for coffee, chocolate and wine – my vices for helping me get through today.

Favourite Moment of the Day

Hands down: Sleeping in until 9 am – it exactly what the doctor ordered! Ha!

WITL 2014: Thursday Photos + Words

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The Photos 

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The Words

7:43 AM We are running late for drop off but I so needed the sleep in. I don’t have time to shower, so I focus on getting girlie ready. It’s Halloween costume day at daycare and I attempt to dress Rowan as a princess. Although she wears the dress briefly, she asks to wear her “spooky” shirt instead. Spooky shirt it is!

11: 23 AM Working from home today and I completely appreciate not being in the car. Seriously I don’t always recognize how much the stress is associated with driving to the hospital because I have always considered it “me time” and an opportunity to listen to podcasts. I spend the morning answering emails and catching up on other paperwork. As I move from the chair to the living room, Pup E Boy is at my feet. He is very excited that I am home.  In between emails, I throw in a load of laundry and empty the dishwasher.

3:45 PM I take Charlie for an afternoon walk and run errands. We go to the bank and I grab a coffee in the hood. The weather is noticeable cooler and it is clear that winter will soon be here. Back home, I photograph project life layouts. I have deadline on Saturday as well as some fun projects coming up. I can hardly believe that my time on Becky Higgins creative team is almost up. Think to myself, that it’s been a good year, with new friendships made and a album full of work that I am so very proud of.

4:25 PM Confession: I can’t have Halloween candy in the house because I will eat it. All of it. Case in point: I run to Target to pick up more Halloween candy before the big day. I take my sweet time given that I don’t have toddler with me.  I go in for Halloween candy and leave with a new outfit for Rowan as well as  a new basket for the living room. Hooray for payday!

7:52 PM We are in full meltdown mode. Someone has had a long day and needs to go to bed ASAP. It takes two of us to get Rowan ready for bed. Girlie calms down and we read a few stories including “The Deep Blue Sea” and “Max and Ruby’s Happy Halloween”. Rowan smiles as I say “Boo” and counts the pumpkins and spiders on the pages. In the kitchen, Aaron and I recap the day and chat about plans for Rowan’s upcoming birthday weekend. We laugh and hug and think I am so lucky for partner who is on the same page as me.

Observations

Like last year, Aaron and I continue to try to balance being parents with having time together as a couple. Although we don’t go out on dates as often as we use to; we still have time to connect in the evenings when Rowan goes to bed.

Gratitudes

1. I am thankful for a non commuting day and clean house.

2. I am thankful for creative projects that excite and challenge me.

3. I am thankful for a quiet moment / conversation / check in with Aaron this evening.

Favourite Moment of the Day

Hearing that Rowan walk to and from school with Sarah holding her hand the entire time

Week In The Life 2011

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THE BASICS:

Oh the summer of 2011! Although we didn’t know whether we were having a girl or a boy – I was approximately 6 months pregnant with Rowan. We still lived on Lee Avenue and Charlie was our one and only fur baby.

THE DESIGN PLAN:

This year, I stepped up my game plan. Since I was know the proud owner of a fancy iPhone 4, I documented life via Instagram. Yes, I used white border and the Kelvin filter to “edit” all my photos….gasp! I know not the creative decision I would make today, but it captures a point in time. Like 2010, I came up with my own design plan, using 8.5 x 11 page protectors. All I have to say is that “the look” I was going for was “Modern French Country”. Funny enough the album was mostly pink and it turns out that I had a girl. The other conscious choice I made was to journal more. This included detailing our daily schedule with a date stamp and to write down daily gratitudes and reflections on the differences from the previous year.  In all this album had 30 or 4 pages dedicated to document each day. Have a look:

MONDAY

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TUESDAY

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WEDNESDAY

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THURSDAY

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FRIDAY

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SATURDAY

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SUNDAY

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REFLECTIONS

Although I would not make the same design choices now, I totally appreciate the growth in my creative process. I still love this album and that I have a record of taking afternoon naps, just because I could! I love that I documented the excited feelings of my pregnancy and the anticipation of Rowan joining our family. My heart smiles because I see where we were and where we are now. Oh how innocent and well rested I was! HA!

Thanks for looking!

Thirty Four

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Dear 34 year old self –

Oh my what a year it has been! I don’t think you could have predicted the amount of change that has happened in the last 12 months. Most of these changes have been positive and others, not so much. Take the good, leave the bad and know that you are stronger than you ever thought possible. Please remember this in the days and months ahead.

As always, diet and exercise are things you must consciously pay attention to. Over this past year you realized that running and volleyball, although healthy physical activities, do not completely fulfill you. Photography, journaling, and completing Project Life help you fill a creative void that was lacking in your life for many years. Above all else, continue to make family time with Aaron, Rowan and Charlie a priority. Creating new traditions, singing songs and playing family games, combined with all the other goodness in your life, has made you feel fully alive and present. You don’t need a lot of money or things to realize how rich you are.

Again, I am not sure what lies ahead, but here again, are my five recommendations for you during the upcoming year:

1. You are starting to live your creative dream – its not full time – but you are doing more than you ever thought possible. Recognize and embrace that.

2. Your parents are wonderful and kind people. Watching them be grandparents to Rowan has been such a gift. Continue to foster that relationship.

3.  Trust your gut instinct and follow your intuition as they are usually right. If that fails – ask your co-workers – they usually keep you in check.

4. Floss your teeth more. Seriously – get you butt out of bed and just do it.

5.   The combination of coffee and your Type A stick-to-it-ness personality  is a winning combination. Aim high. Be open to change. Work smarter not harder.

Signed with love,

Your 33 your old self

xo

Thanksgiving 2014

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After weeks of dreaming, list writing, co-worker consulting, shopping and a marathon effort of cooking and cleaning, we hosted our first Thanksgiving on Sunday! With all my type A, Herculean efforts, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Like when the turkey isn’t fully cooked and you have to leave it in the oven for an extra 2 hours. Yes – I cooked the turkey for 10 hours and it still wasn’t done….So what’s a memory keeper to do when you have extra time to kill – besides hoping and praying that you don’t give your family food poisoning?  Take family photos of course! Many, many posed family photos…

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We have so many things to be thankful for – and my favourites are included in these photos. For those in the Great White North – hope you had a gobble gobble day!

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

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I like big lumps in my soup and I do not lie…

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Dudes! I am T minus 4 days away from hosting my first Canadian Thanksgiving in our new home! I am jazz hands excited but also a little nervous. To help combat those jitters I am slowly cooking my way through the menu and freezing those items until the big day. You may remember this recipe from last week. From my kitchen today: Butternut squash and apple soup!

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Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded + cut into 1 inch cubes

4 cups of vegetable broth

2 apples, peeled and diced

1 – 14 oz can of coconut milk

salt and pepper to taste

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Cubes

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Directions:

1. Heat oil in soup pot over medium high heat. Combine onion, garlic and nutmeg, saute until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes

2. Add squash, broth, apples and coconut milk to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer. Cook, uncovered until the squash and apples are tender – approximately 30 minutes.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut

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You can make this soup as lumpy or not lumpy as you want. Seriously this is so easy to make and equally as good! I plan on serving this with some fresh bread – which is a nice light appetizer. Follow me on Instagram and the hastag #cheersjessthanksgiving to see what how our day shapes up. Wish me luck this weekend! And if you are fellow Canadian celebrating with your family this weekend: Happy Thanksgiving!

Apple Picking

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Uhm, do you have a license for that?

It’s not too often that I am sans Starbucks on the weekend. Living in city, one of the many perks of our weekend routine is buying ridiculously over priced coffee as we walk through the park at the end of our street. However, this weekend I decided to forgo the caffeine as we ventured out of the concert jungle to roam wide open spaces for a few hours on Saturday. What was the reason for our non caffeinated day you may ask? Apples. Sweet and tart, big and small, delicious apples. Scratch that. Macintosh apples.

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Yes, we along with hundreds of other families, lined up to visit Chudleigh’s Apple Farm in Halton Hills. Just a few minutes waiting at the gates I was questioning if I should have brought an Irish coffee – not just my regular non fat vanilla latte…I kid! Sorta.

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Once we got in the magic began. We met my in laws, who helped controlled the excitement of the almost 3 year old girlie. Seriously, even with the 4 to 1 adult to kiddo ratio, Rowan kept us on our toes.

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We fed the animals…

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and subsequently someone attempted to climb into their pens.

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We had our first pony ride – where we screamed the entire time that we wanted to hold free balloon.

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We picked apples. We picked and picked and picked until we had two big bags full.

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We took rare mama /daughter pictures.

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We savoured time with Nanny and Bobba.

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We soaked up the time in the sun. And of course, who could forget – the free red balloon for the win! Seriously a part of me wonders, if we should have just bought her a balloon and called it a day in the city…I kid! Sorta.

In the end, I didn’t need “a Starbucks” or an Irish coffee, just a really long nap + good night’s sleep. Fall somehow inspires me to get out of old routines and to create new ones. Here’s to having new adventures and creating traditions both in the city and on the farm….and to apples, Starbucks and sleep!

Hope your weekend was a good one.

So it begins…

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Howdy! Welcome to my new blog home! I’m so excited for a fresh start.

So you wrote another blog?

You betcha! My first blog, Life on Lee Avenue, was a family and memory keeping blog that I sporadically wrote over the last four years. When I started it back in May 2010, all the cool kids were “doing it”. I had recently discovered scrapbooking and thought, I spend enough time reading other people’s blogs, why not start one myself? I’m just that kinda gal. It wasn’t daunting or scary. In fact, it seemed like a really, really fun thing to do. And it was. I quickly realized that it allowed me to share my creative work and house an online diary for my daughter’s development. Some of my most popular posts include: Day in the Life Meets Project Life; Layout: You Should Know; 2012 Week in the Life Completed Album; and Scrapbook on the Road Using Project Life.

Fast forward to May 2014 – a decision to sell our first family home and purchase a new one meant that the name of “the blog” was no longer relevant in my eyes. Ugh. Given the existential crisis I faced (read: created myself),  I seriously questioned / agonized over the direction I should take. So staying true to Jess fashion, I decided to create a new blog / website. I mean, why not try something new on top of moving? Not the smartest decision I have ever made, I know, but I am totally up for a new challenge!

Why the name, Cheers, Jess?

First, Jess Forster.com seemed a little plain – too plain, for my liking. If you’ve meet me in person, you know that for the most part I am a upbeat, “the glass is half full kinda person”. I am have a sarcastic side and have been know to drink a few *ahem* glasses of wine.  The name Cheers, Jess seemed to fit with who I am and what I want to blog about. I want this space to reflect life’s celebrations, both big and small.

What can you expect from Cheers, Jess?

Monday to Thursday, you can expect more of my “winning personality”.  At the heart, this space will continue to be  focused on family life, memory keeping and decorating our dream home. I may even throw in some of my adventures / disasters from my kitchen. I have an editorial calendar ready to go and I hope to inspire and entertain you, so that you will come back to visit again and again (and again).

Dude, where are your archives? 

Dude, I am so glad you asked! I am in the awesome (read: not awesome) process of transferring all my popular post from Lee Avenue over. It takes time and I am getting there. Look for more content to show up over the course of the next couple weeks + months.

Bottom line: Thanks for sticking around and I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been up to!