The most important thing we do in a day is take care of each other.

While I was busy galavanting, eating, and entertaining, life outside the home apparently went on without me. Who knew?

I’ve had a busy few weeks. I had the pleasure of babysitting a sweet little baby for a week (well, a few days really). I got an awesome thank you gift for helping out. The mom knows I’m a big fan of Barbapapa and she spoiled me with a vintage book and a flowery mug, and some party streamers from Amsterdam. See those little Barbapapa faces in the flowers on the mug? Oh, Happy day!

Barbapapa Gift | Melanie Ritchie

Then my best friend from high school came for a visit. We had some really good eats and had a long overdue chance to just hang out and catch up on our lives. We also watched “Reality Bites” which was our favourite movie to watch together 20 years ago. I can’t believe how quickly time passes. I was surprised to see I still like the movie and my opinion of the characters hasn’t changed much. I had to laugh about us though. Back in the mid-90s we watched the movie in the basement of my childhood home. Or maybe in her home. We drank Coke and ate Little Caesars Pizza or a bag of chips. Now we’re both Moms of young kids sitting in my home commenting on how delicious the fancy cheese and baguettes taste. Subtle changes! Ha!

Sunset in Ottawa | Melanie Ritchie

Our first night finished with a lovely sunset in downtown Ottawa.

Drinks | Melanie Ritchie

We had a really yummy lunch at Burrito Burracho in the Byward Market. I highly recommend the Tortilla soup. Then we wandered a bit before treating ourselves to a Maple Beavertail before heading home. YUM YUM!

IMG_2919

It was just so good to see her! I was sad to see her go. She gave me a very pretty bracelet from Alex and Ani as a hostess gift. It has a little pineapple charm. Pineapples are a symbol of friendship and hospitality. How perfect is that? Plus, I love pineapples.

The day after my friend left, my family and I went camping with friends at a very kids friendly KOA campground. Despite the initial rain and the plummeting temperature at night, we had a great time. Only a few weeks until our next camping trip!

After the rain | Melanie Ritchie

Upon return from camping, we had a visit from my husband’s Aunt. She is awesome. That’s all that needs to be said about that.

Then I spent the next day preparing for my very first Thirty-One gifts experience. I set up a table at the kids’ school’s Fun Night. I’m selling Thirty-One products to fundraise for the school’s Kindergarten playground project. There seemed to be a lot of interest in the products but the best part was getting to talk to other parents. Normally at events I’m busy with the kids and I have no particular reason to start up conversations with strangers. This was a great way for me to be more social.

Then the next day my parents came to town for my daughter’s Highland dance recital. It was a really good show! I also enjoyed shopping for plants with my mom and my daughter. I had trouble limiting myself to a few carefully chosen perennials. My mom bought a few plants for me  too as a very early birthday gift. Yay!

Plants | Melanie Ritchie

On the weekend, I had various things to do but managed to work on something that has been brewing in my head for awhile. I greatly admire the Junior Kindergarten teacher that taught my daughter two years ago and is finishing up teaching my son this year. She’s just a lovely person with a very gentle heart. She is exactly the type of person I hoped would teach my kids. She inspires the kids with exploring nature, science, and art. She encourages them to think critically. Most of all, I love that she teaches compassion. As a thank you I wanted to create a painting for her. I chose to illustrate her class motto which I think should be everyone’s motto.

The most important thing we do in a day is take care of each other.

I was thrilled the painting came together so quickly. I’m often disappointed and frustrated with painting. Things don’t always turn out the way I envision them. This one just made me very happy from start to finish. Maybe because I like the motto so much? So, today I took it to the school at midday and surprised her with it. I think it is fair to say, she likes it. Which makes me very happy! Although, I am sad that I won’t have a reason to talk with the teacher anymore.

Taking Care Artwork by Melanie Ritchie

I came home and sat down to write this post and remembered today is the day my newest designs are released for sale at Pixels and Company. I can’t believe I forgot! I’ve been so busy! I’ll show them to you now. Tomorrow I will sit down at my computer and get started on all the design ideas that have been gathering in my head the past few weeks.

Frolic Full Kit | Melanie Ritchie

Weather Cards | Melanie Ritchie

Frolic Elements | Melanie Ritchie

Frolic Papers | Melanie Ritchie

Frolic Journal Cards | Melanie Ritchie

Frolic Cupcake Labels | Melanie Ritchie

Have a relaxing Monday evening!

In Good Company! My return to Digiland!

I am so pleased to announce that I’ve just set up shop at Pixels & Company as a designer. I’ll be designing alongside of Celeste Knight, Deena Rutter, Gennifer Bursett, Jen Allyson, Meredith Cardall, Robin Meierotto, and Shirley Polk. That is a pretty talented and inspiring roster of artists.

My new products will be released twice a month. This week I released a full kit (So True), a journal card pack (So True) and an element pack (Cork Flairs: Happy). They are currently at least 30% off!

Cork Flair: Happy by Melanie Ritchie

So True | Elements by Melanie Ritchie
So True | Full Kit by Melanie Ritchie

So True | Papers by Melanie Ritchie

So True | Journal Cards by Melanie Ritchie

Here are a couple layouts from some P&Co Creative Team talent:

Happy Day by Maribel Rivas

by Maribel Rivas

This Is My Crew by Kate Christensen

by Kate Christensen

Artist in Training

The world has done a disservice to artists by assuming their talent is simply innate rather than a skill that is learned and practiced. Hands do not just hold brushes and make beautiful things appear on paper… just like that. Most people wouldn’t assume the same for scientists and mathematicians. While we might acknowledge a brilliant doctor has an innate talent, we also recognize the years of study and training needed to succeed.

It is tricky being an artist because it is unclear when we can call ourselves one. Do I profess to be an artist when I first sell a piece of art? When I have a show in a gallery? When I study it in university? When I love art class and draw in my spare time? While some people have confidence to boldly declare themselves an artist, others feel like frauds. It doesn’t appear to be related to ability. Whereas, in most other occupations, one knows when they can claim their occupational status. If one wants to advance or improve, the steps to take are clear. Maybe it is because people see artists in two categories. One kind being like Van Gogh or Michelangelo. The other being hobbyists. You can’t be a hobbyist doctor, can you? Or maybe the difference is that being an artist can be considered a way of life rather than just occupational?

Being an artist is a humbling experience. Your art is your soul exposed on paper. Out there in the open for criticism, good or bad.  You sit down to create and sometimes there is no inspiration. Or things just don’t turn out the way you want. While I think routines and rituals are important for productivity, I think teaching artists about the creative process is vital. I don’t remember an art instructor ever telling me how to overcome “writer’s block” or a “lack of inspiration” other than saying “just keep drawing”. Sometimes I can sit there for hours and I’ll just become more frustrated.

In our jobs, it is expected we will be evenly productive throughout the day and week. In school or the workplace we’re taught to sit there and get the job done and keep on doing more, more, more until the bell rings or our co-workers leave. That is fine for many occupations, but a career requiring creativity does not follow the same path.

Creativity is energy that travels in waves

What I’ve come to realize is that creativity is energy that travels in waves. When I’m done an art piece, I often can’t jump into the next project right away. My store of creative energy has depleted itself. Sitting at my craft table or at my computer is a waste of time. I’m going to end up fretting over my lack of productivity and ever growing list of deadlines. I have learned to react when I see my creativity has waned. It is time to step away from my art supplies. It is time to rest my brain and engage my body in an activity. The activity doesn’t have to be rigorous. It just has to be something where the brain isn’t being asked to participate in any big way. I get lots of ideas when I’m trying to fall asleep but that isn’t very useful because I’m asleep before I can harness the creative thoughts. I used to get great inspiration when I was nursing my babies. My mind would wander and come up with all sorts of future to-do lists. Now that those babies are in school, I can tackle projects on a whim. Sometimes it is something annoying and dreaded like cleaning toilets and wiping down baseboards. Blah! Other times it might be gardening or yard work.

This morning I sat down to do my work and was immediately frustrated by my lack of focus and motivation. So I put on my rubber boots, stepped outside, grabbed my shovel, and started digging. An hour later I had accomplished a chore but more importantly, I had ideas overflowing for numerous projects. No one taught me to do this. I always thought this type of jumping to unrelated tasks made me flightly or lazy about my work. No! It is the creative process.

Artist in Training | Melanie Ritchie

See you tomorrow!

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones may break your bones but they’re so darn beautiful… and heavy. I just spent the past hour outside at the side of my house digging up rocks to build a retaining wall. I keep finding huge slabs of rock just beneath the earth. I’m torn between adding them to my retaining wall or placing them in my Japanese garden. They seem too aesthetically perfect to place in a wall that won’t really be seen by many. Yet they’re the right size and shape for the wall. Sigh, what to do, what to do?

I am building a retaining wall so I can level the land next to our house. I want to put in a sidewalk so we can actually get to our backyard without tripping. Just a crazy, zany idea I had. Our budget doesn’t allow for backhoes, rock deliveries, or installations so I’m being resourceful. I’m in no way qualified so this shall be an interesting experiment. I’m hoping my wall will actually retain its shape and hold everything in place. We’ll see. As I told my husband, “you can’t complain, it’s free”.

Sticks and Stones | Melanie Ritchie

Grass won’t really grow in this area so I’m hoping to find a good shade growing ground cover for this area. On my retaining wall I’m going to stuff moss and plants into the crevices of the rocks. I’m hoping that might beautify the space. Uh, maybe.

I’m also extending my vegetable garden to the back fence. It’s a process as our land really is dirt and lots and lots of rocks. A shovel almost always hits rock. Clearing the rocks in my original garden took forever. I call the process my “gym membership”. I line the garden with rocks as I unearth them.

Sticks and Stones | Melanie Ritchie

As well, I’m extending my Japanese garden around a tree to make mowing easier. I’m hoping of installing a DIY suikinkutsu, which is a musical Japanese water instrument garden feature. Woah, I’m not sure of how to place the adjectives in that sentence! There’s a pot hidden in the ground with a tiny hole at the top surrounded by stones. You ladle water over the stones and the water makes a lovely sound as it drops to the ground. I was enchanted by one in Ozu, Japan way back in 1999. I just have to figure out how I’m going to put out water for ladling. I don’t want to install a fountain and I don’t want sitting water attracting mosquitoes. We’ll see.

Sticks and Stones | Melanie Ritchie

I swear my garden will look better than this soon. This is just the beginning.

So I have a lot on the go considering I’m not a very knowledgeable gardener or handyman. Ha! My DIA (Doing It Anyway) attitude is genetic. My Grandma used to attempt to actualize all the creative ideas in her head. She passed it on to me. My Mom is the same way. I’m not giving up on my ideas even if they look a little rough at first.

In my next post, I’ll explain why I was out in my garden when I have so many tasks on my to-do list.

Cute Little Things Make Me Happy

I’m not talking about my kids although they are cute little things AND they make me happy.

Last week I went out for dinner with my neighbour friend. Every couple of months we like to frequent a vegetarian restaurant in town. It makes for a very pleasant evening.

This time was no exception. Plus, during our conversation she showed me these cute little figurines. They were adorable and I gushed over them. She had gotten them for me! Yay, that made me happy. They reminded her of “It’s a Small World” which made her think of me. She knew I’d love them and I certainly do! Now I need to find a worthy place to put them. I’m thinking next to my craft table.

The figurines are actually rubber stamps. Each has a green fairy doing something different. It will be hard to keep my kids from running off with these.

Cute Little Things | Melanie Ritchie

Cute Little Things | Melanie Ritchie

Are they not adorable?

Today’s Reading List

Reading List | Melanie Ritchie

I love the library. I especially love their online ordering system for placing holds. I have a few tricks up my sleeve that make it even more enjoyable. When the kids come home with scholastic order forms I put several of the books on hold. On occasion I do buy the kids books from the order forms but mostly I’m quite happy to borrow from the library instead. When I’m at a bookstore and see an amazing book I check the library app first. Same goes for seeing books on Amazon, suggested reading on blogs, and lists on Goodreads. The library is awesome.

Our local library used to be a hole in the wall. That is only a slight exaggeration. It was really quite unpleasant. Then the city or province (I can’t remember which) got funding to build new libraries. Within a year we had a brand spanking new library attached to our local community centre. It is a warm, inviting and aesthetically pleasing place. I love going there. I wait there while my kids are in activities at the community centre.

I also discovered our library has a subscription to Ancestry.com. As long as you are physically in the library you can access the website. I’m thinking I might spend more time at the library so I can do a little family research.

Here are a few books I brought home this week. I need to make myself a coffee, grab a warm blanket, and sit in the corner to read.

  1. Fairy Houses… Unbelievable! by Barry Kane – I’m planning on making a fairy village in our front garden this summer with the kids. Mostly to keep the kids occupied and entertained. Thought this book might give us some good ideas.
  2. Lore & Legends of Long Point  by Harry B. Barrett – My ancestors settled the Long Point area of Ontario. I thought I’d better read up on it.
  3. The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils by Kurt Schnaubelt – I love essential oils. I have been surprised by the sudden popularity of them. I see pinterest pins touting all sorts of miraculous uses for them. While I love oils and believe they have healing properties I am skeptical and alarmed by the claims. I thought I’d read up and educate myself. If time and money were no issue I’d love to take a course. In the meantime, this book will be a good start.
  4. Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory – Anything to motivate me to fit creativity and drawing into my daily routine is a very good thing indeed. This past year has been about finding a new order to my day. I need to prioritize my art. Let’s see if this book helps.
  5. Gardening Lab for Kids by Renata Fossen Brown – This book just looks so cool. Combining gardening, experimentation, and creativity is exactly what kids love. I’m hoping we have a spring and summer full of outdoor play and dirty messes.

Well, that is all for now. I’ve got lots to do today. One child is home with me due to a mild fever, headache, and aches and pains. I’m feeling the same way. I need to catch up on planting seedlings. My house needs caution tape it is so messy. I have actual work to do. I have a cauliflower in the fridge that needs a recipe to go with it. I’d like to try out that new crafting tool I bought. Um, and maybe a nap in the afternoon might be good? See, VERY busy. Ha!

Have a great day! Tootles!

It’s Here! it’s Here!

Oh, happy day, I got the scrapbooking tool of my dreams! It showed up at my door pretending to be a cardboard box.  I opened up that box and there it was in its plastic covered glory. I bought myself a We R Memory Keepers Photo Sleeve Fuse which have just become available in stores. I am pretty busy these days but I kind of want to clear my schedule and play for a day.

Photo Sleeve Fuse Tool | Melanie Ritchie

So, what does this handy tool do, you ask? It is a burn tool that lets you seal off memorabilia and journal cards in page protectors. You can custom make your pockets  in the protectors. If you’re not a scrapbooker, just nod encouragingly, ok? If you ARE a scrapbooker (particularly of the pocket page/project life variety) you’ll understand WHY this is such a big deal.

I am looking to using this project because:

  • I won’t have to stress over how my portrait or landscape photos are going to fit  on the same page. As in, it used to be impossible.
  • I can use odd sized papers.
  • I can totally seal off sections. A locket of my daughter’s first curl. Sequins.
  • SEQUINS. Yes, I plan to fill pockets with pretty sequins and things that appear suspended in mid-air. It will be lovely.
  • I can seal off a bit of the top or side of open pockets where the paper or photo is always slipping out.

Freakin’ genius technology that is going to make this girl smile from ear to ear when she finally sits down at that craft table (eyeing it longingly right now).

That’s all for now. I’ll post again soon with a full report on the awesomeness of this tool.

Nighters!

Time Travel and an active Imagination

It is Friday! Friday! I’m doing my Friday happy dance! I just came home from a lovely evening out with a friend. We ate at a yummy vegetarian restaurant in town. Sometimes I don’t realize just how much I need a night out with good food and good conversation with a friend. I need to do this more often!

I’m so happy this week is winding down. I spent nearly every day the past two weeks at the kids’ school painting some canvas panels. I finished them five minutes before the bell rang on Wednesday. It was such a relief to see them done. I loved the process of drawing and painting. I loved being in the school lobby. It was a really positive experience for me. As all of you know, I have hermit tendencies so it was good to get out out of the house a bit. I have a renewed appreciation for being at home now. It shook me out of a rut and that was really needed. I spent yesterday and today tying up lose ends I hadn’t gotten to the past few weeks. One of those things was creating a couple of layouts for Simple Scrapper.

I made two very different layouts.

1. One is about the albums I loved as an older teenager. Even now when I hear the songs I am instantly transported back in time. I can recall the feelings, the smells, and the intensity of the moment. I wonder if it will still be this way when I am 90. I was inspired by a template that included two doilies. It seemed a bit odd that I might think doilies belong on a layout with Nirvana and RHCP album covers. I grunged them up with some purple mist and black ink. It seemed symbolic to me of a girl coming of age. The layout has bit of a messy look that fits well with how I felt back then.

Time Travel | Melanie Ritchie

2. This layout was so fun because it encompasses everything I love about Disney World. The joy I wanted to my children to experience when my husband and I took them on a very special trip in 2013. I wanted the layout to have some Winnie the Pooh elements on it but I didn’t want to detract from the photo or journaling. So I was happy to include a bit of patterned paper and stickers of bees and honey. I could look at the photo of my kids all day!

Magic | Melanie Ritchie

Did I mention that Simple Scrapper is hosting  a free photo organization class? Sign up here.

photocrush

Next week I hope to write posts about a cute little gift my friend gave me tonight, the paintings I made for the school (I have yet to take photos of them), and some thoughts I’ve been meaning to share for the past couple months. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, I wish you good weather, peace, love, good health, and happiness!

Invisible or Superstar?

Often I feel invisible. This isn’t a complaint. I’m not actually invisible. I just feel that way. Sometimes it is even a preference. I’m usually content to hide behind the scenes. I opted not to speak at my own wedding. It’s a bride’s prerogative. I like being near people but don’t necessarily enjoy too much interaction. Put me off in the corner (preferably by a sunny window) with a task that doesn’t involve numbers and I am a very happy camper.

This past week I have been volunteering at my kids’ school. I’m painting some canvases for a courage to communicate initiative. I think if every kid learned how to communicate issues effectively we’d avoid a lot of childhood bullying and eventually workplace bullying. An exciting thought! I like being involved in this project because I believe in it. As someone who was formerly bullied in school and at work, I am eager to see others learn how to avoid or stop it. Somehow it makes the painting just that much more enjoyable.

Invisible or Superstar | Melanie Ritchie

I’m set up with my paints in the front lobby of the school. It is full of sunshine. I’m working by myself but people are constantly coming and going. It’s just the right amount of engagement for me. I’ve really enjoyed my time. A few more days and I’ll be finished my work on the project. I think I’ll miss coming in to the school every day!

Invisible or Superstar | Melanie Ritchie

I haven’t been invisible. It isn’t the norm for some lady to be painting canvases in the lobby so I stand out quite a bit. The people who have approached me have been so friendly and encouraging. I love how honest and open the kids are about their curiosity. There have been a few times when I am the equivalent of a super star, which I find highly amusing and endearing. My son’s class (four and five year olds) walks past the lobby to get to the gym. The students know me from my son’s birthday party and a couple of volunteer experiences.  I was greeted with waves and loud “Hi, ____’s Mom!” as the students walked past me. Each wanted their chance to give me a personal shout out. What I found even more amusing was that my son was mostly in his own little world as he walked down the hall near the end of the line. Even though everyone was saying his name as they called to me, he didn’t notice. He was busy hopping like a bunny or watching his feet as he walked. I had to “psst” to get his attention and then he gave me a shy little wave. Despite his claims that he doesn’t enjoy school, I’ve never seen him without a big smile whenever I’ve observed him there.

Invisible or Superstar | Melanie Ritchie

My daughter’s class has walked by a couple times as well and I got several waves from her friends but it was lacking the same exuberance. I’m okay with that. Although, my daughter runs out of line to give me hugs and kisses. That makes me happy but then I get a bit stressed as I have to pry her off of me and send her back on her way.

Invisible or Superstar | Melanie Ritchie

I haven’t felt like such a superstar since I lived in Japan. Back then, whenever I walked through a mall, I always felt like I was on display. Eyes were always on me. Strangers would stare. Some would say hello as if they knew me. Some would wave. My students would greet me if they spotted me out in public. Once I was dressed up for a party and heads turned. I think that is the only time in my life that heads actually turned to look at me. Well, aside from the time I tripped and fell in the middle of traffic. That was a different sort of attention grabbing. Maybe someday I’ll post a photo from that party in Japan. I’m sorry but I have no photo of falling flat on my face in the middle of the road.

I’ll have to share some photos of the paintings once they are complete. In the meantime, please feel free to gaze deeply at the photos of my paint supplies. Also take some time to have a wonderful weekend too!

Monday is the new Sunday

No, Monday is in no way the new Sunday but I didn’t blog yesterday so I was hoping to pull one over on you. Did it work? One could say I’ve already botched my attempt to blog 100 days in a row. I prefer to say that “life happens”. I had an overreaction yesterday. As I’ve mentioned, I’m recovering from Strep Throat. When my daughter complained that her neck was stiff and she had a sore looking throat, I immediately wanted a doctor to check her out. So, no blog post. We’re still waiting for results on the strep test but it appears she is fine. Certainly no meningitis. Better safe than sorry, right?

What I wanted to blog about is the movie “Boyhood“. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Critically acclaimed movie written and directed by Richard Linklater. I borrowed it from the library and finally sat down and watched it.

boyhoodposter

As you may know, the movie is filmed over the course of 11 years. I have to wonder what my thoughts would have been had I not known this little fact before viewing. Would it have been immediately obvious? Or would I have wondered how on earth they found actors that look so similar? Either way, it was a brilliant concept. Well done, Richard!

What I love most about Linklater films is his completely unconventional way of telling a story. There is nothing contrived about his methods. Most movies are well, dramatic. Big things happen. All the time. For most people, life just doesn’t happen that way.

Boyhood Movie

Photo Credits: Ellar Coltrane. Photo Credit: Matt Lankes/IFC

So this got me thinking about anxiety disorders. People are quick to blame anxiety on so many different things: Population growth, too much social media, allergens, too much work, being coddled by parents. I will happily (or anxiously) agree with most of those but I would like to add another one to the list: Movies and TV Shows. Before screens we had to rely on books but it takes longer to read so I’m guessing the constant flow of dramatic things happening are less jarring.

Boyhood | Movie Review by Melanie Ritchie

Photo Credits: Ellar Coltrane. Photo Credit: Matt Lankes/IFC

Watching the movie, I caught myself expecting Big. Dramatic. Things. to happen at various points in the film. I’d cringe or brace myself for something bad to happen. Something like “oh no, they’re going to get in a car crash… oh no, someone is going to get shot… oh no, she’s going to have a heart attack”. Usually, I’m right but not when it comes to Richard Linklater films. It is because he doesn’t rely on typical formulas. The intent isn’t so much to entertain the viewer as it is to share the experience unfolding on screen. I liken it to being a spirit guide watching its charge. We’re getting intimate insight into these characters’ lives in hopes of learning something about ourselves.

Boyhood movie review | Melanie Ritchie

Photo Credits: Ellar Coltrane. Photo Credit: Matt Lankes/IFC

I have to say, I much prefer watching this sort of film. I really think all my years of watching episodes of Hunter, Monk, and BH90210 (I’m being funny) have trained me to overreact to life. It can’t be healthy. Most of the time, big dramatic things aren’t always waiting to jump out at us. Life is usually more subtle than that. Experiences shape us the same way weather erodes a mountain. It’s not one big strike of lighting. It’s the constant elements beating down that changes its shape.

Boyhood movie review | Melanie Ritchie

Photo Credits: Ellar Coltrane. Photo Credit: Matt Lankes/IFC

I loved this movie because the boy had a real life. I wish he didn’t have to experience any trauma and pain, of which he certainly had more than his fair share. Yet it wasn’t a life of constant tragedy and euphoric highs. He pushed on through, observed, reacted, dismissed, internalized, and lived each day. He survived Boyhood and without a lot of unnecessary drama and anxiety, I was entertained.

Saturday Night

You may have noticed I did a little housekeeping on this here ole blog. I liked the way it looked before but I know it was a bit cumbersome to navigate so hopefully I’ve simplified things a bit. Let me know what you think!

My intention was just to post some layouts I’ve done the past few months but somehow that led to a blog clean up session! Just as well.

Anyway, my posting layouts has been long overdue. I haven’t had much time the past few months to do much scrapbooking but I hope that will change in the coming months.

1. I wrote about my views on faith. I enjoyed making a paper layout. I was so happy I even used up some 15 year old vellum AND made a washi tape leaf too! I covered a wood veneer shape (Always) with gold glitter. That was fun.

Personal Truth | Melanie Ritchie
2. This layout was so enjoyable to put together. Some whimsy, some paper, some tape, some thoughts. It does soothe my soul.

Soul Soothers | Melanie Ritchie
3. This was my heartfelt attempt to explain how my children are growing up and leaving their babyhoods far behind. I went digital with this layout.
From Mommy to Mom | Melanie Ritchie
4. I used instagram photos and Facebook statuses to document what I did during the same week in February during three different years.
Time Hop | Melanie Ritchie
5. Ah, Pinterest. How do I love thee?
Pinterest | Melanie Ritchie
6. Pocket Pages aren’t just for documenting your week. I used this one to tell the story of how I spent Saturdays when I was young. I love the nostalgia!
Hello Saturday | Melanie Ritchie

How fitting I should show my “Hello Saturday” layout last. How different this Saturday was from the ones of my childhood. Although my husband did text me an article about Golden Girls Lego. Not quite the same as watching an originally airing episode but I’ll take it. As well, I did indulge in some chips and dip. Definitely something I would have done in 1985.

Goodbye Saturday! Sleep tight!

 

Where was I?

Oh right, squirrels. I spent a good five minutes trying to remember what I wanted to write about. Happy Little Squirrels. Maybe a few other things too.

On Tuesday the kids and I went to the park briefly on our walk home. I’d just picked up our mail and I had a package with lovely calligraphic writing for the address. It was from my lovely friend Nancie Rowe Janitz. She sent me Happy Mail!!!!

Happy Mail | Melanie Ritchie

While the kids played I opened it and was over the moon excited when I saw the goodies inside. She had sent me a painting! I am now the proud owner of an original Nancie Rowe Janitz piece of art! She had posted a photo of it on Facebook a couple months ago and I had admired it then. Such a lovely and enchanting girl (I’m referring to the girl in the painting but it would apply to Nancie as well)!

Art by Nancie Rowe Janitz | Melanie Ritchie

Also in the package was Yogi tea. I LOVE Yogi Tea. I had mentioned to Nancie that I’m not able to get certain flavours of the tea in Canada (boo hoo) and she thoughtfully took note and sent me some. Isn’t that incredibly thoughtful? I think so. The tea came at such a good time since I haven’t been feeling well lately. By the way, the flavours are: Honey Lavender Stress Relief and Soothing Caramel Bedtime. YUMMY!

Yogi Tea Bag Message | Melanie Ritchie

The above photo is my first cup I had right after we returned from the park. It was the Honey Lavender Stress Relief tea. I feared the Soothing Caramel Bedtime tea would put me to sleep before I even made supper. So I had that later (see below). I love the tea but I also love the inspiring little notes on each tea bag.

Yogi Tea Bag Message | Melanie Ritchie

You are probably now very happy for me but wondering what this has to do with squirrels. Well, as my children were playing and I was hugging my care package, a squirrel was scurrying behind my park bench. I looked over and gasped. The squirrel had some squirming creature in its mouth. My first thought was that it had a mouse and then I came to my senses. Squirrels don’t eat mice. It must be a squirrel baby. Yes, that’s it. This squirrel was carrying its baby. It ran over and up a tree and down inside where her next must be hidden. Then she came out and ran across the park. Soon she ran back with another baby in her mouth. She did this circuit several times. She must have a pretty large litter of babies. Maybe six or so. I’m so curious about why she was moving her babies. Did she go out for a jaunt and go into labour? Or was she moving the babies from a pre-existing nest to a new one? How nerve wracking it must have been for her to have to leave babies in one place while she transported them one at a time. Once I got home, I looked up videos of baby squirrels and confirmed that was what I saw. Yup, it was.

Ok, so I covered the squirrels and the Happy Mail. Phew! Then I guess my mission is accomplished and my day is done. Goodnight friends!

7 years and it is still snowing

Yesterday afternoon I was rejoicing in the lack of snow left on the ground. I love that spring is finally approaching. I got the kids off the bus and my youngest wanted to play in the one remaining pile of snow near our culvert. It is a rather large and tall chunk of icy snow. The scene reminded me of when I first saw our home seven years ago. It was a dull, grey, rainy day just like the weather is now. I remember being surprised that there was still snow on the ground since my home 8 hours away in a warmer region was much more spring like with leaves starting to bud. Here, nature was still struggling to let go of winter. I was rather disgruntled as I hated the idea of having to adapt to an even shorter summer season. Pondering the snow pile, it occurred to me that it was exactly this time 7 years ago. Like, to the date. Woah.

7 Years ago | Melanie Ritchie

Our house the first time I saw it. 2008.

So, how did my life look this week in April of 2008? The ninth was a Wednesday. This year it is a Thursday (yup, that’s today). My parents, my husband, my newborn daughter and I arrived at our hotel downtown. We spent the next few days searching the area for a place to call home. On the Thursday my daughter turned one month old. Yup, we traveled 8 hours to search for a new home with a five week old baby! Good times. So if you go by the day of the week, that would have been 7 years ago today. By the Saturday (12th) we drove up to check out the last house of the day and right away it was pretty obvious this was where we wanted to be. We could envision our new little family growing here. Many of the things I had envisioned have now come to fruition and become fond memories. On the Sunday we put in an offer and by mid-July we moved into the house that has become our home.

mr_7yearblog1

Baby girl was hungry during house hunting.

It took a long time for me to get comfortable here. You could say I don’t easily adapt to new situations. Yes, you could say that. It has really been this past year that I’ve started to feel rooted to the area. Some things just take time. Seven years to be exact.

7 years | Melanie Ritchie

My daughter soon after we returned home from househunting. See how excited she was when she found out we bought the home?

Oh and to get totally off topic before I end today’s post. I mentioned two blog posts ago that I’d make an update on the usefulness of a sore throat gargle tea I made. Well, I finally went in to see the doctor and I have full blown strep throat (in my ears too). So, I guess the tea was a failure. Ah well, I tried.

Well, aren’t you the lucky ones?

During one of my many moments of procrastination, I found myself wandering the internet aimlessly. I was browsing my instagram feed where I came across a challenge I’d never heard of before. The 100 Day Project. The instagram photo asked the question “What could you do with a 100 days of making?” and it got me wondering exactly that. The project is the brainchild of Elle Luna at The Great Discontent. Well, actually, it was the brainchild of her art school teacher for a class project. She took it one step further and brought it to social media. Each participant decides what they want to make for a 100 days. Want to make a tutu every day for a 100 days? Go for it. Want to write an ode to your eyelashes each day for the next few months? Hook Rugs? Paint a rock? Invent Tofu recipes? Knit a really long scarf? Create to your heart’s desire? Yes! Just hashtag it when you’re done at the end of the day and post a photo to instagram. Repeat 99 more times and you’re done!

So, this morning I joined. I’m going to blog every day for a 100 days. See, you ARE lucky? All those ideas whirling in my head are going to be lassoed and thrown right onto the bright white screen for all of you to read. Ah, it’s like I just handed you a four leaf clover, ain’t it?

Now, a part of me (in my brain area) asked if I might possibly be insane adding more onto my plate when I’m already struggling severely to meet deadlines. Ah yes, that. Hmm. Then in my heart area, a thumping and highly repetitive voice said “Relax. Practicing the fine art of writing every day will HELP you meet your deadlines. Think of it as a primer.” I listened to my heart. Then my stomach chimed in and begged for some attention. So I pledged my allegiance to the challenge on instagram and headed to the kitchen for a snack. Here is what I posted:

luna-100dayproject-pledge1

The graphic was one of three. Participants get to pick which one they use to show they’ve joined the project. It’s free, by the way. Free of cost, free to choose, freewill.

Feel free to follow or play along. What do you think you’d like to make each day for 100 days?

My heart is a-flutter with clutter!

I love my stuff. I have lots and lots and lots of stuff. However, too much of something is not necessarily a good thing. So, I need to share the good stuff with the rest of the world. I joined a Facebook group for a 40 days of de-cluttering challenge. Perfect! I spent much of last week in a flurry of manic energy, running around the house sorting bins of stuff to keep, stuff to donate, stuff to share, stuff to throw out. It felt GOOOOD. Then on Sunday, I crashed. Zzzzzz.

This week I have to make up for last week’s inability to get computer/paper work done. I could not sit still or focus last week. The kids were off on Monday and sick on Friday. My husband was busy with a work event so I saw him sleeping briefly but that was about all really. Glad to have him back now that the event is over! Phew!

I have a really hard time letting go of things that still have purpose. I imagine the item sitting in a landfill taking up unnecessary space. Yet, it is taking up unnecessary space in my home. I’ve been trying to think of creative ways to get the stuff out of my house. I’ve been donating books, plastic bags and sticker sheets to the local library. I joined a BuyNothing Facebook group and a local Buy/Sell Facebook group. Every bin that leaves my home makes me feel lighter.

I’ve been thinking about my home a lot lately. How does it reflect my personality and that of my family? How can I keep it clean? What can I change or rearrange to make it more functional for our needs? How can I make it more of a haven?

OI!!!! The above paragraphs were written a month and a half ago. They were lost in the land of draft folders. I was on such a roll with organization and getting rid of stuff. It was halted when my in-laws came for a visit. I’m happy to report I had the bedroom and bathroom in top condition for their stay thanks to my de-cluttering efforts.

De-cluttered bedroom | Melanie Ritchie

De-cluttered bedroom | Melanie Ritchie

De-cluttered bathroom | Melanie Ritchie

I also hosted my daughter’s very chaotic and energetic birthday party. Then my husband left for Spain for 10 days during my kids’ March Break. The kids had varying degrees of colds. I hosted my son’s birthday party and then my husband returned just in time for my kids to return to school. That is when I crashed. Cold or flu, who knows. Then I lost my voice. Two weeks later, it has turned into tonsillitis and strep throat. My house is A MESS and I am very tired! I am happy to say I’ve gotten rid of loads of stuff but every room is still needing a serious minimalization. Yes, I like making up words and terms.

Now that I’m seeing hints of Spring, I know I’ll be outside soon working in the gardens. Which means I’ll have less time to tackle cleaning indoors. I’m pretty much okay with this. Turns out my messes will wait for me.

Right now I just want to feel better and get my design work done. I’ve been trying to work on a potentially awesome project for months but if I let much more time pass I’m going to lose it! So today, I tried a concoction I found on Pinterest that claims to rid one of Strep Throat. I’ve renamed the remedy “fire breathing gargle tea”. I steeped a cup of Lemon Ginger tea and then added a tablespoon of honey, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and a teaspoon of cayenne. Woah! I gargled each mouthful for a good 10 seconds. Apparently Cayenne will kill off strep bacteria. I’m hopeful.

I’ll let you know how the tea works.

Fire breathing gargle tea

My Life with a Smart Phone

I have entered the new Millenium. In January, I got my very first iPhone. Before that, I’d occasionally use my husband’s iPhone 4. How has my life changed? You’d better sit down for this.

1. My friends can text me. Imagine that! It has been very helpful for sharing carpool duties and sharing info. I was shopping and saw something my friend was looking for so I took a quick photo and sent a text. I wish I’d had something like that in 1983. Am I right, ladies? (I’m sorry, I just really wanted to say that last sentence. No particular reason.)

2. People can reach me wherever I am. I can actually leave my home and not worry about the school calling me, or my husband wondering where I am, or the car breaking down and finding a phone. Amazing.

3. My husband can know where I am just by checking his Find Friends app. Some extra peace of mind in case I (perish the thought) get in an accident, get lost, or have a car issue. GPS is a beautiful thing.

4. Now I have something to do while I wait at the bus stop. Yesterday was the first day it was warm enough to actually use the phone without my fingers freezing. I bought a pair of those gloves that let you use your phone but my fingers still froze.

ritchie_iphonepost

5. Shopping. Ah, shopping. Coupons on the go! Price comparisons. So many wonderful things you can do in the middle of a store. Take photos of “this might work” or “ooh, gotta remember this for next time”or uh, this:

ritchie_iphonepost2

Heh, found this product sitting like this in the dollar store. It should say “Live”. I was tempted to change it to “Vile”.

6. When I’m working with Adobe programs on my computer, I usually can’t have my web browser or other programs open. With my lovely phone, I can check my email, facebook, or anything else I need while working on my graphic design stuff. Very important, indeed.

7. Photos are everywhere. I’m loving iCloud. Photos are taken on my phone and then I see them on my computer. That’s a serious level of awesome.

8. I can record my kids having funny conversations. That never gets old.

9. I can make lists and now I have no excuse for leaving my grocery list at home. It’s on my phone.

10. This is a biggie. It’s my cookbook! I’m constantly searching for recipes or ingredients on the Allrecipes app. Or if that doesn’t have what I need, I do a quick “google”.

I realize these are “uh, duh” reasons that are obvious but I’m okay with that. That’s kind of the point. I’m a little late to 2015.

I try to imagine how much easier this would have made my entire life. Then I try to imagine how my kids will struggle to fathom how it must have been for us old fogies to live in an era where information had to be sought out with great effort and often to no avail. I remember being limited to the newspaper, the encyclopedias, Sassy magazine, and whatever our library had on the shelves. I had to imagine what celebrities did in their free time. There was no twitter feed showing me what Alyssa Milano ate for breakfast. But here is what I had for lunch.

ritchie_iphonepost3

For my next post, I’ll show you how I made those Sharpie T-shirts in the last post.

The phone hasn’t rung yet.

Today was a bit on the exhausting side. Ah geez, it appears I need to change my post title. The phone just rang.

Let’s backtrack. It all began 7 years ago during a snowstorm. My baby girl was born. Ok, not that far back. At 10:30 this morning, guests arrived for my daughter’s 7th birthday party. I can’t believe she is turning seven. That’s just crazy!

My Little Pony Balloon | Melanie Ritchie

Anyway, the guests arrived and the chaos began. Nine girls and two boys running around the house screaming with excitement. It was like a scene out of a movie. I herded them to the dining room table where I’d set up our activities. We used Sharpies and rubbing alcohol to decorate t-shirts. Then we painted mini canvases with a masked out heart shape in the centre.

My example shirt | Melanie Ritchie

Sharpie Drawing | Melanie Ritchie

After crafts, I thought I’d delight the kids with rainbow flatbread pizza. I was seriously excited about this. Turns out kids really do prefer plain cheese pizza. BAH! Oh well, the more for me! Luckily, my husband knew we had a cheese pizza in the freezer. No problem.

Rainbow Pizza | Melanie Ritchie

Isn’t it lovely? It tasted delicious. The kids missed out!

Cake. Opening Presents. Hello Kitty Piñata smacking. Goodie Bags. The last guest leaves. The clock ticks 1:15pm.

Birthday Cake | Melanie Ritchie

Ok, here are two more cake photos because one can never have enough cake.

Icing Closeup | Melanie Ritchie

Yummy cake | Melanie Ritchie

It was a good party. 11 very loud kids including my own. Did I mention I had a severe headache since waking up?

Then after the party, my daughter needed to be a few streets away at another birthday party for 5pm. This was no ordinary party though. It was her FIRST SLEEPOVER party! That takes me to the point where I wrote the blog title. I was sitting here with the phone on the arm of my chair wondering if it would ring. Would my daughter want to come home once it was time to sleep? Right when I convinced myself she must have managed to fall asleep, the phone rang. My amazing husband went to get her but returned home alone. He smoothly convinced her to stay and gave her the comfort of knowing we could quickly come to her if she changed her mind. I think he just earned his Father’s Day gifts with that performance. Well done! So, we’ll see if that phone rings again.

It seemed a bit quieter in the house with my daughter gone for the evening. Even though, my son was busy playing and laughing with my visiting in-laws. There was a lot of laughter at bedtime when I introduced my son to the wonderful world of Whoopee cushions. Happiness is seeing your almost 5 year old discover the joy of a “tooter toy” as he likes to call it. He likes it so much he is using it as a pillow for his teddy bear. He had to get out of bed to get a tissue. When I asked him what he was doing he said “Mom, I’m getting a tissue but I don’t have to SNEEZE” and covered his teddy bear with it. Ah, a blanket, yeah, ok.

So, what did I learn today? 1. My daughter is growing up at the speed of light. 2. Kids don’t like vegetables more when you line them up like a rainbow and 3. Tooter Toys are awesome.

Stay tuned to find out if my daughter stays for the pancakes!

melanieritchie_SKatoh4

Mail from Japan! xoxo

The doorbell rang. It was the postman with a package sent all the way from Japan. Ooooooh, what IS it? Why I wouldn’t remember what it was is a bit confusing to me, but I’ve been rather flustered lately so I let it go. A couple weeks ago in a moment of self-indulgence, I ordered washi tape. I’m sure Maslow would have rated it as quite important in his “hierachy of needs”, right? Sure.

So, this wasn’t just any tape. This is SHINZI KATOH tape! Yeah, I know, pretty cool, right?

Ok, I’ll fill you in. Shinzi Katoh is an artist from Japan. He’s illustrated children’s books, is a fine artist, and a surface pattern designer for many different types of goods. Last year when I was at the World Showcase in Epcot, I saw a huge selection of his products being sold at the Japan Pavilion. Bags, cards, note paper, calendars, but NO washi tape. That is what I really wanted.

For some reason, a couple weeks ago I decided to google his name and found out I can buy directly from his online shop in Japan. All sorts of lovely stuff for sale.

This is what I bought for myself . Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

My Shinzi Katoh Washi Tape by Melanie Ritchie

Here is the whole assortment. Yes, I splurged! I got a 5-pack of thin tapes. I can’t wait to try those out.
In case you’re admiring the items behind the tape, I’ll explain. I like to tape things. Next to my super awesome Barbapapa mug is a pencil holder I got from the union where I used to work. It was kind of ugly but very functional. So one day I covered it in washi tape and added a sticker. Next to that container are three Tetley tea containers. Once I drank all the tea, I rinsed and dried them. Then I covered one in mac & cheese duct tape, another in rainbow washi tape (that reminds me of 1985), and another with valentines tape. See, I NEED washi tape! Who knows what I’ll tape next!
My Shinzi Katoh Washi Tape by Melanie Ritchie

I bought a set of 3 Christmas themed tapes. Shinzi Katoh has such a unique and whimsical style. The one with the monkey and banana on it can be seen here. It has safari animals on it. The tape is made from banana trees after harvest in Zambia. It’s a fair trade paper helping to give jobs to people in Zambia and to prevent deforestation and animal extinction. I like that!

My Shinzi Katoh Washi Tape by Melanie Ritchie
I love all of these tapes but I have a soft spot for anything with phrases on it like the tape on the bottom right. I had stationery and t-shirts like this when I lived in Japan. They always made me laugh with their randomness.

Well, that’s what I’m sharing today! Have a great day!

So long Target. Adios and Farewell.

Oh I am not happy about this. It was an exciting and long wait just over a year ago when Target opened up here where I live. My husband and I were really looking forward to shopping in a well merchandised shop. Hopeful, we were.

Target arrived. The store looked great. I enjoyed shopping there although the prices weren’t as reasonable as I’d hoped and there wasn’t quite the same selection as in the US stores. Oh bother! Still, I loved shopping there. They had many products I loved. Designers for Target make pretty stuff that isn’t always available elsewhere. What other store has such awesome and reasonably priced wrapping paper at Christmas time? The store was clean, tidy and price checker machines worked. I like being in this store.

Then a few weeks ago, it was announced that Target was leaving Canada. GASP. Maybe they’ll change their minds? Nope, it is happening.

So my husband called me when I was in the middle of writing a blog post on planners. He said Liquidation was starting at Target and told me the roads were clear. Hmm, a sale AND good driving conditions? Maybe I should leave my protective cocoon and check it out. So I put on appropriate attire and drove off into the sunlight.

The entrance was bustling. I’ve never seen Target busy here in Canada. Uh, yeah, that’s why they’re leaving. Lots of people everywhere. The check out line was winding around at least half of the store. Yikes!

Target Closing by Melanie Ritchie

I needed party supplies for my kids’ upcoming birthday parties. I was happy to see these items were 30% off. What surprised me was that many sections of the store were only 10% off of regular price. Liquidation, really? It didn’t really matter to me. I was hoping to get the items I’ve longed for at a less than regular price. As for the birthday supplies I just wanted to pay less than what I’d pay the party store. So, my trip was a success. While I wasn’t able to get some items on my “wish list” (hockey helmet, hockey sticks, Lego Friends) I did find many items (the towels I’ve been eyeing for over 2 years, curtains for my daughter’s room, some Transformer toys). My experience for the day was pleasant. Everything went smoothly but it was a rather depressing occasion to see one of my favourite stores about to close down.

Seeing the deserted Starbucks made me want to cry just a little bit.

Goodbye Target Starbucks by Melanie Ritchie

No more red bullseye. No more huge carts for the kids to ride in. No more cute items in the bins at the front of the store. No more mid-century modern Christmas decorations. WAHHHH!!!!!

Target Closing by Melanie Ritchie

I hate to think about people losing their jobs. I hate to think about the lovely stores sitting empty and deserted while we patiently wait for a new store to open up. Hard to believe it will a company as enticing as Target.

So, with tears in my eyes and a very long receipt in hand, Target and I parted ways.Goodbye Target by Melanie Ritchie

plannerfront

This isn’t how I planned it.

I really believed I would stay on track. I thought I’d have several blog posts written in the past week. I wanted to. I meant to. I didn’t. In fact, this post was postponed by a day because in mid-sentence I stopped to go to Target on a whim. Yeah, that’s how I do things.

Maybe I need a planner. Planners are all the rage right now. Have you noticed? They’re so pretty AND functional. I have to laugh though. Pretty planners have been around for ages in places like Japan. I was into them when I lived there 15 years ago. I stopped using them once I ran out of refills. Flying to Japan to get more just didn’t happen.

I bought my first planner at Kinokuniya in Matsuyama. It was a couple minutes walk from the English school where I taught. I would go there on my lunch hour. They always had an amazing selection of cute stationery, school supplies, and planners. That place made me so happy! The cover of my planner was hard plastic and the pages inside were all Barbapapa themed. Later I replaced it with a more protective plastic cover which had pockets to add your own personalized postcards or drawings.

Here is the front cover. I added a Barbapapa postcard to the back and front.Barbapapa Planner by Melanie Ritchie

Here is the back:Barbapapa Planner by Melanie Ritchie

 

I love the section dividers. My planner had sections for monthly planner, weekly planner, addresses, notes, stickers, photos, business cards/credit cards, and a little zippered pouch at the back. Oh and I even have a little paper punch that makes holes to fit the planner. So I can make my own planner pages. It has holes in it so it can be kept in the planner. Right now it is somewhere on my craft table.

Barbapapa Planner by Melanie Ritchie

 

Stickers! I love Stickers! I still have sheets of these. There are stickers for most occasions you’d want to schedule into your planner. Funny how most of the stickers were in English even though I’m pretty sure they were only sold in Japan.
Barbapapa Planner by Melanie Ritchie

 

The section dividers were also great because you could easily add or remove stickers. I have this lovely one of a flying Ojisan. I believe that would be an Uncle. Hey, why not!

Barbapapa Planner by Melanie Ritchie

 

One of the most important parts of the planner (which I forgot to mention above) is the plastic insert. It is multifunctional. You place it behind your current week so when you write in your planner it doesn’t indent on the other pages. Nice and tidy! It is also a bookmark and a ruler. Fabulous!

Barbapapa Planner by Melanie Ritchie

 

There are lots of extras you can buy to add into your planner. I added these “friends” sheets. I’d get my friends and students to fill them out. I’d sometimes use it as a teaching exercise.
Barbapapa Planner by Melanie Ritchie

 

Here is the back of the Friends sheet. To the right is a sticker sheet with page protector. I would add my favourite stickers to it. As well, I’d usually get my picture taken at the local photo booths once a week or so. They called that Purikura. I don’t have them in my planner now. I’ll have to share those another day!
Barbapapa Planner by Melanie Ritchie

 

Oh but look, I do have a photo in the planner! It was taken at Oshima just outside of Matsuyama in 1999. That’s me in the middle sitting with two students from the school I taught at. At the top you can see a bit of paper. Those are the notes sheets. Little perforated papers so you can write a note and tear it out easily. Brilliant!
Barbapapa Planner by Melanie Ritchie

 

On the left is the business card or credit card holder. On the right is the zippered pocket. Very useful!
Barbapapa Planner by Melanie Ritchie

You’ll notice I missed a photo of something very important. The actual calendar sheets! Oh yes, right. I took them out to use in a scrapbook of my time in Japan. I refilled the planner with pages I bought in Korea but I have no idea where I put those. I have to say talking about stationery REALLY makes me want to hop on a plane and head straight to Japan. My favourite shop was called Space. The entire basement was full of notepads, stickers, pens, erasers, and letter writing sets. It was so awesome. I probably spent an hour there once a week on my day off. Definitely my happy place!

If you are loving your planner, hook me up in the comments. I’d love to know what companies are out there. Thanks!

Wise Words | Melanie RItchie

A Letter to my children: What other people think

Often I am writing letters to my children in my head but I don’t get them written down. I have a pin board with lovely quotes but I don’t explain why I’ve pinned them. There are nuggets of wisdom I want my children to really internalize to give them strength and hope throughout their lives. If for some horrible reason I’m not there to give the advice to them firsthand, I’d like to know they can read it in letters.

Today, I want to tell them about the importance of what other people think.

  1. It’s None Of Your Business. That’s right. If you, my children can wrap your heads around this, you’ll have a MUCH happier life. It does not matter what other people think. YOUR actions and thoughts matter. Not theirs. Instead, look at yourself and ask these questions: 1. Are you doing your best? 2. Are you being kind to yourself and to others? 3. Are you safe? If your answer is yes to all three, then carry on with your day. What other people think CANNOT be controlled by you. It is possible you are adored by someone and you have no idea. It is also possible they don’t like you. Is this your fault? Probably not. It could be that you’re just very different people. Or maybe they feel threatened because you’re competition in some way. Or maybe you remind them of someone who has hurt them. Maybe you remind them of something they don’t like about themselves. Or maybe they are very sad and need to release their frustration on someone and you seem like a good fit. Or maybe it is Thursday and they don’t like people like you on Thursdays. See, it’s ridiculous. It’s not your problem.
  2. You’re Not A Mindreader. Like the first point, you cannot spend your time guessing what someone else is thinking. What would that solve? Most All people are absorbed in their own thoughts. Yes, they may be thinking bad things about you. They may also be thinking about sharks, or how they really need to release some gas, or even wondering if you’re thinking bad things about them. It doesn’t matter because it isn’t your business. Ask yourself why their opinion is more important than your own? Why do you need their acceptance?
  3. You Are Not Perfect. I love you dearly but like all humans, you are not perfect and never will be. No one should expect that from you. Especially you. Are you worried someone is thinking about things you’ve done wrong? Well, maybe they are. I’ve wasted a LOT of energy and time worrying about upsetting others. Especially in work situations, you are often put into a position where you have to learn the job without instruction. You cannot become efficient at your job without first making mistakes. What they don’t tell you in school is that you are not always going to receive proper training to do a job. Yet you will be expected to do it well right from the start. That is a very difficult position to be in and I guarantee you will find yourself in that situation at some point. If you torment yourself worrying over how you’re perceived, you will be miserable. Of course some people will be annoyed by your mistakes. Others will understand there is a learning curve. It is not your job to think about it. It is your job to learn your job. Apply this to all areas in life. Becoming experienced = making mistakes and making mistakes = becoming experienced.
  4. Everyone Has A Hater. No one is always liked. Even your favourite movie star or stuffed doll has someone who isn’t a fan. Even the Dalai Lama has people who don’t like him. I’m sure there is even someone who doesn’t like the Kratts brothers. Can you imagine? Should that change how great they are? No. Do LOTS of other people like them? Yes! Lots of people like you. Don’t focus on the people who don’t. They don’t have to like you and you won’t be happier trying to make them like you. Think of it this way. Some people like mushrooms. Some people don’t. You can’t make someone love mushrooms. Tell yourself that the next time you feel rejected by someone. It will at least make you smile a little, right? Be like Taylor Swift, and Shake it Off! Haters are gonna hate, hate, hate.
  5. It Still Hurts. Even knowing all of this, it will always hurt when we know people don’t approve of our choices or values. We’re human. We want to feel accepted. It especially hurts when our loved ones don’t approve. Always use this as an opportunity to evaluate yourself. Again, ask yourself if you’re happy with your choice, what could be done differently, and is anyone being negatively affected by your choice and whether that can avoided. If change needs to be made, work to make that change. If not, then accept the other person has their opinion and that is their business. People are entitled to have their own opinions just as you are entitled to have a different opinion. It might hurt but be confident knowing you are doing what you need to do to be authentic and happy.

I’m sure I can add to this list but these are the thoughts that occur to me now.

I made a few journal cards inspired by the topic and you can download them HERE.

mr_wisewords_PREV900s

Happy Sunday!

smallworldmug_mritchie

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Hello hello! How are you on this fine wintry Tuesday? Or maybe where you are is bright and summery? That sounds even better! I’m looking out my window and the sun is glaringly bright. I was outside an hour ago and it is bitter cold. The type of cold where the inside of your nose sticks together. That cold.

Yet it is most certainly a beautiful day in the Neighbourhood. It is great to have neighbours! Last week, our next door neighbours went to Disney World and I checked in on their cat. His name is Jim. While he is technically a neighbour, do not mistake him for Jim Nabors. Jim is a very friendly cat. I spent some time with him during the day. On the second last day I had to check in on him a bit later than usual so I took my daughter. She gave him lots of love which I think he really needed. He seemed lonely. The next day I took my daughter back. She entertained him while I tidied up the cat dishes and such. It was kind of fun to take care of someone else’s cat for a bit. Usually I’m the one needing a cat sitter.

So, last night the door bell rang. I looked a fright as I’d spilled some chili on my shirt as I was cooking and I’d spent the afternoon cleaning. It was my neighbour looking all refreshed from a trip away to somewhere warmer than here. Their sweet little family had a wonderful time at Disney World. That just makes me smile imagining her little ones taking it all in. Then she handed me a bag which I let the kids help me open. I love surprises!

Inside were two cookies. One shaped and decorated like Mickey Mouse’s head and the other like Ariel. My son had a big grin at the sight of Mickey. My daughter was pretty pleased with Ariel as she happened to be wearing her Ariel nightgown. A perfect match. I thought that was very sweet of my neighbour to think of the kids and bring them something back. See, great neighbours, right?

And yet, there was something else in the bag. Ooooh! How exciting! I knew no matter what it was, I would like it because I like Disney World and I like trinkets. You just can’t go wrong. What did I pull out of that bag? I squealed with delight (really, I did) as I recognized the pattern. It was a “It’s a Small World” mug! OH MY! I nearly did a happy dance but I didn’t want to break the mug, or expose myself in my flimsy shirt.

It turns out my neighbour reads my blog (waving to her, HI!!!) and saw that I’d mentioned “It’s a Small World” being my favourite ride. Turns out she loves it too. Even better!

Geez, for that I’d have taken care of a 100 cats. No, actually, I wouldn’t. Ok, I would have set up camp and overnighted with Jim. That’s more likely.

Anyway, her generosity was greatly appreciated and I LOVE my mug!

I promised the kids they could eat their cookies after school today. Oh, and the cookies have sentimental value for me. When we were in Disney World last year, we were shopping in a store in the Dino land area. My son (age 3) very sweetly grabbed a cookie and asked if we could buy it for his sister. Soooooo sweet! Heartwarming.

So I took a photo of our treats today. The Mickey cookie seems to have gone missing. I don’t think my son has eaten it but I think he might have put it in a safe place. Perhaps I should check under his pillow. I wouldn’t put it past him to have slept with it there. Ha!

Small World Mug | photo by Melanie Ritchie

Have a most pleasant day!

Winter by Melanie Ritchie

Ice Breakers and frozen fingers

Oh dear me, the draft of my post disappeared! I’ll paraphrase what I think I said because a few days have passed and the memory isn’t as fresh. I’m not feeling so poetic tonight.

Last weekend, we were treated to a lot of snow and then it turned to frozen rain. The return to school coincided with treacherous road conditions. Our driveway and street were an ice rink. It was a lovely Winter Wonderland otherwise. When the kids returned from school, the sky was such a pretty colour and shimmering down on the ice covered snow.

The kids wanted to walk on the snow at the park. The idea of being able to walk on snow was quite novel to them. They were fascinated they were able to walk without sinking. It reminded me of when I was a kid walking home from school. I would take short cuts through the yards of three schools. Often the snow would be up to my knees. Out of boredom and an attempt to distract myself from the cold, I’d make it bit of a contest to see how many steps I could take without breaking through the snow. I was very light footed back then.

Then they discovered they could jump and crack the snow. Even more exciting than walking on snow, was smashing through the crusty layer of ice. Luckily, I had dashed home to retrieve my camera when I saw that the sky was so lovely. So I was prepared with camera in hand.

Then my daughter realized how cold she was feeling and we quickly hurried home. Which was good timing as my fingers were quite numb with cold from taking photos.

Darn, I wish I hadn’t lost my original post. It was much better. Ha!

So, here are some of the photos I took and a layout I made with them using supplies from the Pixels & Company Designers.

mr_jan_winter6 mr_jan_winter5 mr_jan_winter4 mr_jan_winter3 mr_jan_winter1 mr_jan_winter2 Photo by Melanie Ritchie drutter-d365-winter2015-lores

Keep warm and enjoy your Sunday!

fairygodmothersoap

Exploration and TMI?

Admit it, your curiosity is totally piqued. Why doesn’t curiosity have a “u” in it? I won’t be answering that question in this post.

Really, I just want to talk about plans for 2015.

I jumped on the One Little Word bandwagon again this year. My first year I chose the word “Authentic”. I was struggling with being myself and caring too much about whether others accepted me. It was the right word to play around with for 2013. Last year, I chose the word “Release”. I didn’t do most of the monthly assignments. My goal was to accept being “imperfect” and not feel I had to say yes to everything. It was a year to accept that things change and time moves on. Honestly, starting 2015 I do feel I’ve let go of a lot of baggage and expectations. Maybe a month ago I came up with my word for 2015. I had no plans for taking the OLW class. Then last week, I thought “what the heck, why not?” and signed up.

My word? Are you ready? It is EXPLORE. Yes, this is my year for trying out new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t. It’s my year for deciding what I like doing the best and then actively pursuing it.

What does that mean for you, dear blog reader? It means, you’ll get small doses of different types of content. One of the areas I want to focus on is my blog. I want to see what I like writing about and what I like creating. Expect to see my journey documented here. That’s where the TMI comes into play. Maybe it is just too much info that you don’t care for when I share my favourite body wash with you. Or maybe you’re just not into the wonders of gouache. Who knows, maybe I’m not either. Let’s find out together!

So with that, I will share three products I’m in love with at the moment. No, I didn’t receive them for free and the companies have no idea I care. Just sharing for the sake of “exploration”.

1. Satsuma body wash by Body Shop. So my day goes like this: Get up, drink coffee, get kids ready for school (yes, coffee comes first), freeze outside in the cold at the bus stop, come home and hop into the HOT shower. I treated myself to a bottle of this awesomely smelling body wash during Black Friday sales. It reminds me of junior high when The Body Shop was the “IT” place to shop. Back then I’d spend my allowance on lip balm and a bar of soap. I wish they still made Raspberry Ripple bubble bath.

satsumabodyshop

2. Pureness Balancing Softener by Shiseido. So I get out of the shower feeling all blissful and relaxed and smelling of an orange grove. Then I slap a little toner on my face. In the winter my face gets dry and itchy, especially after I wash it.I don’t care for the feel of anything on my face like heavy moisturizers (or makeup for that matter). I bought this product in the summer when they had an awesome sale. It is amazing stuff. A little bit goes a long way and my face feels soft and perfectly balanced. I can only tell I have something on my face because my skin feels good. Nothing more.

shiseido pureness softener

 

3. Fairy Godmother Soap by Lush. So in the evening I sometimes have a bath to relax my weary bones and calm my anxious nature. I like candy and even better than that, I like smelling like candy. This soap doesn’t dry out my skin like other soap can. Just plain delightful, it is. I received it as a gift and I love, love, love it.

Fairy Godmother Soap by LushI’d love to hear what body product you love and why. Hook me up in the comments.

Are you participating in One Little Word? What’s your word? I’d love to hear it.

ritchie_Jan15#1SSr

The best of intentions

Always. Who doesn’t hope to accomplish all their yearly goals and tie them up in a neat little package with ribbon and bows just in time to ring in the new year? I do. I always think this year I’m going to accomplish it. Yeah, um, no. It didn’t happen. Ah well. At least I’m relaxed about it.

I’m going to start my year right though. I’m going to plan out projects, assess my goals and see what I want to get done for 2015. On my own terms. No guilt.

To help myself as best I can, I’m attending Simple Scrapper’s annual online event to plan out my year. Won’t you join me January 7th, as I Start Fresh?

 

To tie up those loose ends of 2014, I’m going to show you some layouts I worked on. I had wanted to work mainly with traditional scrapbook supplies but when time is limited I tend to work digitally.

  1. I made this page when I thought I was ahead of schedule. HAAAAA!!! Silly me.
    dec1_6x6lores
  2. By the second week of December, we were all sick with colds. Bronchitis came for a visit. I’m still waiting for it to leave.
    dec10layout-lores
  3. I switched things up after I returned from my parents after Christmas. I grabbed an old photo as I was inspired by a story starter prompt. I used a Simple Scrapper template to build the layout. It documented a weekend getaway during a challenging period of my life.Ritchie_2_600 (1)
  4. I used another Simple Scrapper template and story starter to profess my love of Pinterest in a layout. By the way, feel free to peruse my Pinterest gallery.
    ritchie_Jan15#1SSr

I will be seeing you soon. My biggest resolution is to be consistent with my blogging. Let’s just see how I do, shall we?

ritchie_01-15_2

Happy 2015! Peace and Love to all!

Well, hello there! I hope you’re enjoying New Year’s Day.  I had a fun New Year’s eve at a friend’s house, chatting with neighbours while the kids played. My daughter even got to skate in their backyard rink. Definitely the best New Year’s eve we’ve had since moving here over six years ago. My son looked so sleepy and I told him we’d go home as I knew he was so tired. He said “Mom, REALLY I’m not tired. REALLY Mom, really!” and then he fell asleep in my arms. So funny! We headed home and my daughter asked to stay up to countdown. This was a first for her. I was happy to have my head hit the pillow at roughly 12:05am. Ahhhh!

I thought I’d share a few photos from my December.

I worked a bit on an album of the month of December but didn’t get very far. The usual reasons. Busy times and colds.

1. Here is my first page for December. It still needs a bit of detail work.

ritchie_01-15_8

2. I thought I’d take a lot of photos but the month seemed to zip by. I did take a photo of my cat. She’s 14. I’d just given her a haircut. The photo next to it is an ornament that looks like ribbon candy. My daughter thought it was bacon. Which is extra funny since she is vegetarian.

ritchie_01-15_7

3. I was pleased as punch to take this photo. “It’s a Small World” is my favourite ride at Disney World and I like the light in the photo.

ritchie_01-15_6

4. I spent an hour one afternoon playing around with shaped Bokeh. Fair to say, I haven’t perfected it yet. I punched shapes out of black cardstock and attached the paper to my lens. My photography goal for 2015 is to master that technique. When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

ritchie_01-15_5 ritchie_01-15_4 ritchie_01-15_3 ritchie_01-15_2

5. The wreath on my front door.

ritchie_01-15_1

Tomorrow I’ll show you some digital layouts I created in December.

Happy New Year!

mr_elf2

Say it ain’t so, poor Elfie!

He had to go. It was a brief visit. Elf on the Shelf arrived at our home tonight.

You see, a couple years ago Elf on the Shelf appeared on our front door step. My daughter was not happy. She didn’t like the idea of an Elf spying on her and reporting back to Santa. Since we hadn’t named him yet, we were able to send him back to the North Pole. I figured that was the end of that.

A week or so ago, my daughter mentioned she wished the Elf would come back. She saw an Elf skirt at Target that she thought would look great on the little Elf. I told her to ask Santa to return the elf in her letter to him. The last two days she has continually talked about “Elf on the Shelf” and where she thinks Elf will reappear. After school and before supper she kept searching the house trying to find where he might be hiding. Then the strangest thing happened. She was at the kitchen table writing her letter to Santa. She had just written the sentence requesting for the elf. She went to use the bathroom and lo and behold, the elf was perched on the wreath next to the light switch. My daughter was so excited. However, by the time she had washed her hands, she became afraid. By the time she got back to the kitchen table, she said she’d like him to go back to the North Pole. Again, we hadn’t named him yet so it wouldn’t be a problem. I told her to cross out the request in the letter. She asked me if he would come back. I told her maybe he could come back next year if she was no longer afraid of him. She sadly shook her head and said she thought she’d never stop being afraid of him.


mr_elf1

The issue with the Elf’s exit was that my daughter had gotten her little brother all excited about the Elf. He didn’t want the Elf to leave. Usually he is the one afraid of things.

Although, we put the elf back on the wreath waiting for him to leave, it wasn’t enough. My daughter’s fear was deepening. So, we put him on the freezing front step. After the kids’ bath, we checked and he had left. Phew!

mr_elf2

My daughter was so scared she was walking down the hallway with a blanket over her head. I had to stay with her until she was fast asleep.

So much for that!

DD14_launch-banner-new

Discover December Class Giveaway!

How appropriate snow has arrived as I write this blog post. My daughter ran up to me and started singing and dancing about how winter has arrived and we can now play Christmas music. I guess that is what stirs her Christmas spirit.

I’m trying to think what gets me all jolly and festive. Maybe smelling chimney smoke while walking in the snow? It was the best part of walking home from school when I was a kid. Now it is a rare thing as very few working fireplaces remain. What else? Probably looking at my Christmas Scrapbook supplies. Yes, everything always comes back to Scrapbooking!

I think all of us “scrappers” can admit, we like to anticipate how we will capture the holiday magic in our albums. We start off with high hopes and many of us probably end up overwhelmed with half finished albums. Am I right?

Well, I have two things that might be helpful to you:

1. Sign up for Simple Scrapper’s FREE Seasonal event “Holiday Focus“. Ideas, planning, peer support, and more to help you document AND enjoy your holiday season!

and (drumroll, please)…

2. I’m hosting a giveaway to Kelly Sill’s Discover December holiday class at Scrapaneers. I’m particularly excited about this one as I had the pleasure and honour of designing the class kit. Plus, there are additional supplies designed by Karla Dudley and Taylormade Designs. How awesome is that?

The class was created with busy holiday schedules in mind. Kelly offers time-saving solutions to help you not only start but FINISH your holiday album.

 

Wouldn’t you like to be take part in the fun? The first is as simple as signing up! For the latter, I am offering a giveaway for one person to get the class for FREE! Please leave a comment telling me how you plan to make your holidays special this year. A winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday, November 18th after 9pm (EST).

Can’t wait to see your comments! Happy Sunday!

bloggames

Did you love playing board games as a kid?

I did and I still do. I have so many good memories of them. Well, except for the game “Aggravation”. I detest that game. I won’t even go into it. Recently, I received a copy of “Monopoly Junior” from Hasbro because I am a reviewer/tester for Influenster. I don’t like blathering on too much about promotional products I receive but I was asked to talk about which game I loved as a kid. That type of question is right up my alley. I thought it would make a good scrapbook layout, which I will soon make. In the meantime, I thought a blog post might be fun too.

First, I had to see which games are made by Hasbro. Luckily, they make a lot of the games I loved as a kid.

Here are my memories of some of their games. Maybe this will give you some Christmas list ideas!

1. Chutes & Ladders. This is one of the first games I remember playing. My grandparents owned a copy and kept it in their coffee table in the basement. It was such an awesome mid-century modern piece of furniture. Not that I thought so at the time. Then it was just a place to hold board games and crossword puzzles. I liked Chutes & Ladders because it makes me think of my Grandma because she was really good about playing games with us (me, my sister, and my two cousins). I didn’t like the snakes though. 1. They scared me. 2. They make you lose!

2. Candy Land. I loved Candy Land! I remember playing it at a classmate’s house in kindergarten. Yummy candy pictures all over the board. My imagination loved it. It is a great “first” board game as you don’t need to know how to read. Very simple to play. Fun, bright colours. Perfect for 3-5 years of age. By six, I remember thinking it was pretty boring.

3. Operation. I got this for Christmas one year. I LOVED IT SO MUCH! It appealed to my love of small tiny pieces and electronics. I didn’t really like the buzzing noise because I startled easily. I did love the little tweezers and picking out the little body parts out of the poor guy’s body. Super fun game! Also great because a kid can play it by themselves or with friends. Nowadays, they have themed versions. My son has a Tow Mater version. I’ve seen a Buzz Lightyear one too.

4. Hungry Hungry Hippos. The game kids love and parents love to hate. It’s loud, obnoxious, and WAY too much fun! Oh man, that was an awesome game! I loved playing it with my sister and cousins. Bang,  bang, bang! There is something so rewarding about getting your prettily coloured hippo to eat all those balls up before anyone else has a chance. I love how the mouth extends. Snap, snap, snap! My kids love it too. However, I’ve noticed the marbles are now made of plastic and I think it affects how easily the balls are eaten. Something about the weight of the marbles. Maybe that’s just me.

5. Connect 4. I think this might have been my sister’s game. Oooh, I love that game! This is one of those games that never gets old. I like playing it with my kids. I like games where I can put things in a row or make patterns. It’s a great introduction to strategy games. My six year old is learning how to play it properly. Earlier than six, kids like to place the tokens but they don’t play it with rules. This game is also now available in lots of themes. I saw a My Little Pony version recently. Don’t tell my daughter!

6. Memory. I remember playing that on Christmas with my cousins. I’m all about memory matching. Again, I like looking for patterns. Memory games are fun and very educational. It’s a great beginner game but big kids like it too. When I was young, there was just one generic game. Now it comes in nearly a million (slight exaggeration) different versions. Name a character you like and there is probably a Memory game available. We have a Christmas Disney version that I bring out every December. It is a very affordable game and you can keep it simple (only play with a few matches) or make it more challenging using all the pieces. I played this game a lot in Japan with my young students.

7. Perfection.  My sister had this game. I had a love/hate relationship with it. I loved playing with the pieces and putting them in their correct places but I HATE being startled. It gave me anxiety to race against the clock to get all the pieces in place before the pieces all flew up towards me. Almost as scary as a jack-in-the-box. Both are fascinating and terrifying all at the same time. Funny thing. My son has this game and he is like me. He insists we keep the timer turned off. He just wants to put the pieces in their correct spots without being startled. I’d say this game is good for ages 4 and up.

8. Twister. This game always feels so retro. I think it did even when I was a kid. It’s fun for a bit. Good for sleepovers and birthday parties, if I recall correctly.

9. Yahtzee. This was another game my grandparents had in their coffee table. I never liked the brown/orange/yellow box it came in. I overdosed on those colours in the 1970s. Aside from that, it was mostly fun. Part of my issue as a child, was that I had bit of a short attention span. Also, I’m not overly fond of numbers, especially odd ones. Yahtzee is all about numbers. It’s like a card game but with dice. My favourite part was shaking them in the cup and rolling them onto the table. I also liked saying “YAHTZEE!” Last year I bought a PacMan Yahtzee for my husband at Christmas. It is awesome. The cup to hold the dice is actually a big PacMan head. How cool is that? They have all sorts of themed versions now. It’s a good game for older kids. My 6 year old played with us last week but she got bored after a few rolls. Maybe when she is 7 or 8 she’ll be more into it.

10. Trouble. Sorry. Games that are named after a negative word aren’t fun. Did I mention the game “Aggravation”? It’s like “Trouble” and “Sorry”. They’re all games where I get frustrated and lose. Every. Time. But hey, don’t let that stop you… the rest of my family LOVES these games. Maybe cuz, they, uh, always win? Maybe you will too.

11. Battleship. When I hear this game mentioned, I always want to say “You sunk my battleship!” Always. I have strong memories of this game. I am very tactile and visual. I loved the ship pieces and the little pegs. I liked the blue board the pieces stuck into. Oooh, pretty. As a kid, I had a hard time playing the game and I couldn’t sit still for the whole game. However, I think it is a great game. Especially for rainy days and snowstorms. I’ll buy it for my kids if they ever show an interest.

12. Clue. Another awesome game! I think I got this when I was around 10 or 11 for Christmas. I can vividly remember sitting on our living room floor playing for the entire visit with my cousins. We were obsessed with it. I love the mystery aspect of it. It’s like a logic problem. I loved the board with all the different rooms on it, and all the characters and weapon pieces. The only downfall was that I played it SO much, it got old. Really fun game!

7. Scrabble. If you could only ever have one board game, I would pick this one. That’s all I have to say about that.

8. Monopoly. This was a game I played with my parents and sister on weekends when I was young. It would take all day. Maybe all weekend. I’d quit long before they were finished. I was the youngest so I’d get frustrated when they all understood the rules better than I did. It is a hard game to grasp when you’re little. That’s why I really love the Monopoly Junior version that is meant for younger kids. Now that I’m older I love Monopoly. I have a Coca-Cola version and a Rudolph version.

9. Trivial Pursuit. I remember the year this game was released. It was so popular. All the parents of my friends were having Trivial Pursuit parties. My family would play it at holiday gatherings. The kids would play too but we’d probably only get a rare question correct. Luckily now there are so many versions, any age group can play. My husband will probably always win though. He has a lot of knowledge in his noggin’.

10. Scattergories. This is a game I tend to win. I’m good at coming up with words for categories. I like that the game doesn’t really repeat itself. It’s great for big groups and parties. I hope to play it with my whole family at Christmas when the kids are older. That was one of the things I loved most about getting together with family at holidays when I was a kid. We’d all sit around the cleared dining room table and play cards or board games. Anyone could join in. I liked it best when we played a board game as I wasn’t the best at cards.

So, for a little added fun, I went and found some slides to go along with this post.

bloggames

The top photo is great because it shows several things: 1. My Grandma playing a game with us. 2. The classmate I played CandyLand with on a different occasion, and 3. the living room looks exactly the way it does in my memory when I played Clue at Christmas with my cousins.

The bottom photo is of my dog playing Connect Four.

The middle photo is of me playing with my gum. It has nothing to do with board games but isn’t it funny?

What was your favourite board game as a kid?

poppies

What a Beautiful Day!

I had no idea I’d enjoy today so much.

Today is my husband’s birthday. Today is Remembrance Day. Today is unseasonably warm.

The kids woke up and were excited to wish their Daddy a Happy Birthday! Then when it was time to get ready to go to school, my son became very upset. I realized he thought there was no school because it was a birthday. Makes sense. The kids always have their birthdays during spring break. My last birthday was on a holiday. Last year on my husband’s birthday, we flew to Disney World. So yeah, no wonder he thought he had the day off!

I attended the kids’ school’s Remembrance Day service. This is the first year I’ve gone. I even spiffied myself up because it’s an event that deserves respect. I put mascara on for things like that. I entered the gym and saw this very tall Mountie standing by the wall. Woah! He looked so regal. Then I realized he was the Dad of one of my daughter’s classmates. Standing nearby were several other men and women in uniform, standing with their spouses. Mostly Military. I recognized many from various kid related activiites. My thoughts: Oh, that’s the lady who speed-crochets at swim lessons. I didn’t know her husband was military. Hey, it’s so and so from blast ball. He’s got a lot of medals.

Living in Ottawa, the Nation’s Capital, we have a lot of active duty service personnel. This is a very different experience from how my Remembrance days were spent as a child. I seem to recall that the day was a holiday when I was very young. At some point the rules changed and I would attend school on that day. I think we had assemblies but there were no outside visitors. We would have just talked about the importance of the day. To me, the day was about soldiers from wars that took place when my Grandpa was young. The men selling poppies looked like my Grandpa. The day was more of a history lesson. Such a contrast to today’s assembly. I feel very grateful for being in the presence of people who work so hard and put themselves at such risk, to help keep the peace.

I was about to say my favourite part of the ceremony was when students brought handmade poppy wreaths to the stage. They were creative and lovely. That made me a bit teary-eyed. I think that ties with the song the primary choir sang in English. It was so lovely!

nov11

After the ceremony, I saw some other parents I knew. They were about to sort the Lost & Found bin so I offered to help. First, I peeked into my daughter’s classroom. She ran out to give me a quick hug. Then I saw my son’s teacher walk by so I asked her to say hello to my son for me. She invited me to come say hello to him in the classroom. Yes, please! He didn’t see me come in, which was great because it meant I could observe him being himself at school. He was busy laughing and chatting with his classmates as they began to eat their lunch. He opened a container and saw a dill pickle and said “Pickles? AGAIN?” and they all laughed. When he did look over at me he didn’t quite know what to think. So he went back to inspecting the pickle. His teacher asked him to join me for a picture holding a poppy wreath. It took us a few times of repeating the request before he came over. He was really obsessed with eating the pickle. I wonder if he noticed I cut his carrots into poppy shapes? We got a few photos taken and I said goodbye to everyone. I am extremely pleased and relieved he is spending his days in such a great learning environment with a very involved and caring teacher and assistants. He is thriving and I couldn’t be happier!

I returned to the volunteer parents and put on some latex gloves to start sorting the piles of clothing in the Lost & Found. Then after that was done, I went to do a little shopping. I bought my husband some meat for his birthday. I went to the local “FarmBoy” grocery store and approached the clerk at the prepared food section.

Me: Excuse me, could I ask you a question?
Nice counter lady: Yes, what can I help you with today?
Me: I’m vegetarian but my husband isn’t. It is his birthday today and I’d like to buy him some meat…
Lady (raises her eyebrows and holds back a laugh)
Me:… what would you recommend? What do you think is really good here?
Lady: If he wants a lot of meat, I’d get him the chicken and ribs with potatoes. It is a really good value for what you get.
Me: Thanks!

When I got home, I thought everything looked beautiful. The house. The street. The warm weather felt beautiful. I wondered where the heck my good mood came from. I was feeling lucky, grateful, and blessed.
My husband felt grateful when I surprised him with his big plate of meat. He even has leftovers for tomorrow! Ok, he liked his other gifts too.

And now, I am falling asleep at the computer. I’m sure I had other things to say and perhaps a proper ending to this post, but I need to put my head on a pillow. Pronto.

blogmonopoly2

“Game Night” with Monopoly Junior

Today, we had “game night” except that it was actually 2pm. Details, details.

Last week I got an email from Influenster asking me to check my mail. On Friday, I opened my mailbox to find a copy of Monopoly Jr. courtesy of Hasbro. As part of their social media campaign, I’ve been asked to test out and review their product.

First thing I did? I yelled “Kids, we got something in the mail!” and let them open the box. They were pretty excited and didn’t even stop to ask why we got a board game in the mail. They were immediately drawn to the little plastic tokens. I agreed they could hold them but advised them not to lose the pieces. My daughter took the orange cat and black dog. My son took the blue boat and green car. I told them they’d have to wait until Sunday to play the game.

blogmonopoly2

As promised, we set up the game today in our basement where we now keep all the toys and play area. It’s a work in progress. Or should I say “mess in progress”. Anyway, here is what I thought about the game.

1. As much as I love board games and playing with my kids, I have childhood memories of Monopoly being the neverending game. I had a moment of dread wondering just how long this game would take. I had meals to make.

2. When we opened the box, there were two sheets of cardboard with pictures of the token animals. Each had to be punched out. No problem for us, as my daughter was thrilled to do it. I opened the cards and placed them on the chance spot. I read the instructions but was distracted with questions from the kids. So, I missed the part that said the game starts by having everyone pick a card to determine which token piece they get. I hadn’t realized there were cards like that and had put them in with the chance cards. Which was just as well as the kids already knew which character token they wanted. Except my son had already lost the blue boat token. Oops! Later when playing the game, I picked up a chance card only to discover it was all in french. Again, I realized I hadn’t been careful and had put all the chance cards together. There was one pack of french and one of english. Oops! It was fine as my husband could read it. It pays to read your instructions carefully.

3. The board is a very simplified version of the regular Monopoly. The board itself is smaller. There are fewer properties. Every property is part of a colour pair and both properties have the same value.  The properties have fun names. When you buy a property, you place a cardboard piece with your token picture on it (ex. orange cat) at the top of the property. When you land on someone’s property, rent is the same cost as the purchase price. If they own both properties, you pay double. There are no utility spots. There is no community chest but there are chance cards. There are no houses or hotels.

I appreciated the simplicity as the kids were easily able to follow the rules. My kids are 4 and 6 and had no problems.

blogmonopoly1

3. The game was engaging. Although, my daughter still had to get up every now and then to perform some dance steps and show us her socks. “Yes, I see your socks. Yes, they are ‘My Little Pony’. Yes, I like them. Please roll, it’s your turn.”

4. The truth? My kids were most interested in taking turns being the banker. I have no idea why that was so fascinating to them. My son was really proud of it. “See Mom, I am really good at this. I’m a good banker.”

5. Anything lacking in the game? My husband was concerned about the kids shifting the board and it being unclear which properties were owned by whom. I said that is pretty standard issue for any board game played by kids. He said it would be helpful if players were to hold onto property cards in addition to the little cardboard piece on the property, just in case the pieces were shifted. I agreed that would be better.

6. We didn’t quite make it to the end. The game was going pretty quickly but my son decided it was time to play another game and my daughter was dancing around a lot between turns, so my husband and I shared a glance that said “yup, that was good” and we finished up. I went to make supper and he played a different game with the kids.

All in all, I’d say that was a very successful game. We’ll definitely play it again and again. I think it is a great way to introduce your kids to Monopoly. I have a Coca Cola version, and a Rudolph version of Monopoly that I hope to play when the kids are older. Until then, I think we’ll get a lot of use out of this one.

Thanks Hasbro! Thanks Influenster!

matsa_wk2_mritchielores

I’m such a school girl!

Really? No. For the past three weeks I’ve been immersed in an online class I’m taking at Lilla Rogers Studio School called Make Art That Sells.  We have two more weeks to go for Part A of the class. So far we’ve covered bolt fabric, Home Decor and Children’s Book Illustration. Every week we get a mini assignment to sketch, sketch, sketch a topic. Then midweek we get the actual assignment which utilizes the sketching we’ve been doing.

If you’re not already familiar with Lilla Rogers, she is an internationally successful illustration agent and artist. She represents several extremely talented artists. You might not know their names but I’m almost certain you’ve seen their products. Lilla will mention her artists’ products in her lessons as examples and often I’ll find myself thinking “oh, I’ve seen that! I didn’t know she represented that artist!” One of the books I love from our local library is by her artist, Mike Lowery. One of the fabrics in my dining room table cloth is by her artist, Suzy Ultman.

The class has been challenging, emotional, exhausting, enlightening, and rewarding. A rollercoaster for sure. Lilla is a big believer in staying positive and to keep making things you love. Don’t compare yourself to others. We’re all in different stages of our careers and at different skill levels. I think because she is an artist herself, she knows what kind of insecurities we have as artists. One of the biggest is thinking we’re not good enough. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It is easy to give up when you’re browsing online galleries and Pinterest and are blown away by all the amazing talent out there. Ultimately, you have to sit down, pick up a pen and paper (or whatever medium you use) and make something that makes you happy. Practice until it looks the way you like it. That is really all you can do.

Ok, I’ve digressed a bit. My personal struggles have been over getting into the mini assignment. I get very restless and fidgety. I resist the assignment. The first week, my son was home sick for three days and on the third day, there was a crisis in Ottawa which completely distracted me. The next day I focused and made up for lost time. I liked my submission but it could have been better had I been able to use my time efficiently. I was pretty darn excited when it made the review for class where Lilla talks about several pieces and explains how they worked well. The product we were to design was for bolt fabric.

matsa_wk1_mritchieLORES

The second week, I needed to sketch more but again resisted the process. I’m still unsure why I’m having a hard time just drawing for the sake of drawing every morning. I have to think about this. Luckily, I had a very strong idea of what I wanted my art to look like and was thrilled when it ended up looking the way I envisioned it. That rarely happens. The assignment was to design a plate for the Home Decor market.

matsa_wk2_mritchielores

The third week. Oh my! I was initially so excited to learn about illustrating Children’s books. A long time dream! I had some sort of fearful flight response to it. I tried to run as far away as possible from the assignment. I was like my son when telling him it is time for swim lessons. Noooooooooooooooooo!!!! I did not want to do it! Yet I did want something to submit. I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to push myself to learn something new. So I sat down the day before the assignment was due and started drawing. I didn’t stop until it was done. It wasn’t as fabulous as I would have liked but that was definitely my own fault. I could have built it up more had I invested more time into it.

MELANIE_RITCHIE_TORTOISE_WK-3

I’m not going to beat myself up for my shortcomings. It is more of an exploration into my process. Why do I resist learning some things? Why do I react this way? What do I enjoy creating? What rituals work for me? What habits do I need to change? All very good stuff if I’m open to finding a better process.

I’m excited to see what next week brings. Hopefully I might even embrace it!

DD14_launch-banner-new

Designing for December

One day in the summer I got asked by the lovely and talented Kelly Sill to create a digital kit for her upcoming Holiday class at Scrapaneers. I said “Heck ya, I’m interested!” and that was the truth.

I’ve been a fan of Kelly for quite some time. She has a style that is all her own. A very clean sleek look to both her digital products and her own scrapbooking. I followed her blog posts to see what new projects she was working on. So, I was pretty happy when she began instructing classes.

Discover December” is going to be packed with oodles of holiday goodness. She will show her students how to create their own 8″x8″ album with the templates, digital kit, word art, glitter styles, and overlays included in the class kit. Seriously, oodles of goodness. I was lucky enough to create the digital kit and was thrilled to find out Karla Dudley was creating matching glitter styles and Taylormade Designs was creating matching word art. Very very cool!

Here’s a peek of the class kit included with enrolment.

DD14_launch-banner-new

Right now the class is on sale until November 10th. Class begins on December 1st. Be sure to check it out!