October 21, 2014

2013 family yearbook

I remember coming across a pin from a blog on Pinterest quite some time ago. The blogger had printed a custom family yearbook and I thought it was so awesome. At the time, I wasn't big on photography, but since I recently purchased my beauty of a Nikon, I am obviously becoming more obsessed and somewhat skilled at taking photos.
Then I saw this post from the blog I read almost daily about how they had just printed their family yearbook through MyPublisher. I decided to look into making my own. About two months later, I received my finished 2013 family yearbook!
First of all, I want to say how user friendly MyPublisher is. I have tried a few other programs and creators before and felt sort of "meh" about them. I had even started on a few other websites but felt they were more difficult to use. With MyPublisher, I simply downloaded the program, uploaded the photos I wanted to include, which was basically anything memorable for the entire 2013 year, and then I started building my pages.

My first page lists the most memorable moments or events of the year, which I think I saw on Pinterest.
The option I loved the most was deciding which photos I wanted on a specific page, and then choosing from their preset layouts based on the number of photos I wanted. I did try their auto-fill which automatically creates your album from the photos you upload, but it separated certain photos that should have been together {not the program's fault!}.
After playing around with my book and adding fun text here and there, I got ready to order it! Again, the ordering process was very user friendly and really guided me through extra features and all the way to the "confirm order".
I decided to search for a coupon code for the heck of it, and was lucky enough to find one on Retail Me Not Canada. The coupon code was "4waystosave" and literally chopped my final price in HALF! {I am totally checking out Retail Me Not before ordering ANYTHING online again!}
As for my add-on features, I chose the lay-flat pages, with deluxe satin cover sheets {between the cover and the first/last page} and super gloss pages. With my coupon code, all these additional features cost less than $20, and were worth every penny!
And production was super quick! I ordered it the Wednesday and it arrived via Fed Ex on Tuesday!
I cannot brag enough about this yearbook and product! I have created such a beautiful and lasting keepsake. It is constructed so well that I don't even worry when my kids look through it!

I plan on creating a Beadow Family yearbook for every year since our eldest was born {2008}. Since making this 2013 yearbook, I made an album specifically for our wedding photos, which also turned out beautifully!

For this album, I chose a "prettier" inside cover with a pattern instead of a solid colored cover. I also used their wedding templates which offered many different styles of layouts. 

What I am also planning on doing is, once the yearbook for that year is made, I would move the year's photos onto a disk or memory card, and keep it in a pocket inside the book. That way, everything for that year is in the same spot! Nice and organized, just how I like it!
I love this alternative to printing and organizing photos in albums the traditional way. For me, this was really personal. Even my hubby loved it and thought it was a great idea! Plus, I would rather have a family yearbook than an album for each child {they can fight over them when I'm gone!} That ensures there will be no argument over who has the most photo albums!

I hope to have a lovely shelf-full of albums soon enough.

October 14, 2014

Pumpkin Preparation

Due to the cooler fall temperatures here, my kids got their wish of carving our pumpkins early while the selection at the store was of plenty. We were going away from Thanksgiving weekend, so I thought it would definitely be worth carving them before our trip, ensuring we would get the most bang for our buck as they could be displayed for at least 3 weeks up to Halloween.

I purchased a larger classic orange pumpkin, and a medium sized white one. I couldn't resist getting two, as the white ones were so nice! I also bought the $5 carving kit by Pumpkin Masters that was on display beside the pumpkins at the grocery store. Mind you, I ended up finding a similar kit at Wal-Mart later that week, for the same price but with larger tools which would have made my job a little easier and would probably ensure the kit lasts more than one Halloween.
The kit (similar to the one shown here) included a rotary wheel to transfer your image, a scoop, two different size saws, a pick to punch holes, and images to transfer. After two carved pumpkins, both saws were quite bent. But all in all, the tools worked well.
1. The best tip ever when it comes to pumpkin carving is to cut a hole through the bottom instead of the top. There is nothing more difficult than trying to light a candle from the top, and I like to use real candles!
2. So after cutting open, cleaning out and carving my pumpkins, I let them soak in a water bath with bleach for a few hours. This prevents mold from forming and ruining your jack-o-lanterns prematurely.
3. Finally, I rubbed all cut edges with Vaseline petroleum jelly. This will help it last as long as possible.

After 1 week and a half, my pumpkins still look perfect. Will it last another 2 and a half weeks until Halloween? I sure hope so! Our temperature has fluctuated a lot this fall, so if they end up crumpling before October 31, I'm sure they won't be the only ones in town!

As for other Halloween decorating, I will take out my usual suspects of pumpkins, vampires and treats. I keep things pretty simple and G rated, as Luca is still young and afraid of scary things.
Happy Halloween and Happy Fall to All!

March 27, 2014

Potty training my 2-year-old

This past weekend, I decided to potty train my 27-month-old son {2 years and 3 months to be more "Jon" friendly"}. The hubby and I had discussed a few times, and on the Friday night, I decided "Let's do this!".
We already had Nicholas' old potty, which had been out for a few months now, and Luca had actually peed in it once or twice on random occasions. My babysitter said he had attempted using the potty a few times at her place, but hadn't been successful. I had also been reading this french Caillou book about the potty for quite some time now, so he was definitely familiar with the concept of the whole thing. Plus {and I don't mean to brag} for a little guy who doesn't talk much yet, he understands PLENTY, and both in english and french! So I knew once we started repeating the concept to him, he would catch on in no time.
I did a quick search through Pinterest for some tips and found that the "3 Day Potty Training Method" {which I read about here and here} was the best option for me. With our first child, he was mostly trained by our babysitter at the time, Saida, who watched him 5 days a week and who also babysat her grandson who was 1 year older than Nico. Nico, being so observant, watched his older friend and basically imitated him. We just had to follow whatever Saida was doing with him during the day. So training my second child was a little intimidating to me... He goes to my Mom's two days a week, but to  the sitter's for the other three days. I felt if I could do the majority of the work over a weekend, he could continue at my Mom's on Monday and Tuesday, and hopefully by the time he went to the sitter's on Wednesday, he'd be good to go!
So, here is what I did in more detail!
1. I went from diapers straight to underwear. I got him a 5-pack of Fruit of the Loom boxer briefs {so cute!}. My husband did not want briefs for our boys, he insisted on this with Nico after I had initially bought him a ton of briefs. So with Luca, I went straight to boxer briefs! {NOTE: I went back to the store on Saturday to get another 5-pack. Lucky for me, I got the last two packs! They are hard to find!} Once I started, he wore only his undies and a top, no pants. For his naps and night time, I used diapers because: a) I still have a lot, and b) I feel the pull-ups might be confusing and blur the line between what he can and can't go in... if that makes sense! Plus, for the amount of pull-ups you get in a package, you get a lot more bang for your buck buying a case of diapers!
2. I set up the potty in the living room and figured we would spend most of our weekend in this space because it was easy to wipe up any messes on the laminate, and we could do a ton of stuff in the living room compared to any other room on the main floor.
3. I kept my eyes on him at all times cause I tell you, the times I wasn't paying 100% attention to him is when he had his bigger accidents.
4. I asked him 2 crucial questions: 1) Are your underwear dry? and 2) Will you tell Maman if you need to go pee or poo? This tip I found especially helpful. It avoids any pressure and allows him to figure out when he needs to go and find his own cues. I especially avoided the question "do you have to go?" I made sure to ask him these two questions {and made sure he answered me} every 5 to 10 minutes, especially the first day.
5. I rewarded him when he did go in the potty. I gave him 3 Smarties every time he peed, even if it was only a few drops, and even if he did most of his pee in his underwear but finished on the potty. If he went poo in the potty, he would get 5 Smarties. If he sat on the potty without any result, I told him good try and praised him but he received no reward.

I ended up buying another potty and letting Luca choose which one he wanted, because I wanted my parents to have one at their place. Lucky for me, Luca chose the Fisher Price Froggy Potty that was reasonably priced at $15 {as opposed to the $35 and $40 options that were also available!} He lovingly calls it "Bib-bit" {his version of "rib-bit"}.
6. I kept my comments and my energy 100% positive. And believe me, after hand-washing his underwear at least 15 times the first day, it would have been easy to get mad or frustrated and even give up. But I had read that the first day would know a lot of accidents.
7. I enlisted the help of others. Especially my oldest Nico, who was more than happy to oblige. He understood the process, asked Luca the 2 appropriate questions, and got super excited when he went in the potty and even when Luca told us his underwear was dry. And I made sure everyone followed my "rules" from my hubby {who spent most of his weekend in the basement working} and my parents where we went for Sunday brunch, and especially because they would take over come Monday and Tuesday.
8. I made him complete the process from start to finish when he went in the potty. This included emptying his bowl in the toilet, wiping it with tissues, replacing it, washing his hands, then getting his reward. This is another tip I found helpful because it teaches him from the get-go to pick-up after himself and to wash his hands. Plus, Luca thrives with routine so after I showed him the entire process 2 or 3 times, he was telling me what to do!
9. I made everything exciting! Every time he said that his underwear were dry when I asked, I woo-hood and gave him high-fives. When he said he had to go, we would excitedly rush to the potty. And when he went in the potty, boy did we dance and hoot and holler and high-five! Even when I had to give him a clean pair of underwear, I acted excited about the design on it {from monkeys and crocodiles, to astronauts and monsters!}.
10. I tried to enjoy the process and learn from it. I think this is so important! I got to spend so much time with Luca over the first two days, it was actually really fun and sort of amazing! I got to know him even better. And he amazed me by how quickly he understood and could make himself understood even with his limited vocabulary. And bonus? I found out a few things about him I didn't know! Like the fact that he answers to characters on TV when they ask the audience a question {adorable}!
Here's a recap of the 3 days' happenings:
Day 1: A ton of messes and accidents. He would start his pee in his underwear, and often empty himself before getting to the potty. I would still sit him on the potty every time. He did not receive a single reward as he did not pee in the potty once, but  he did get a lot of praise. Only #1, no number #2 today so he was obviously holding it in. We managed a quick 30-minute outing to the  store to get a second potty and more undies, and he didn't have an accident during the entire outing. In fact, by the time the day was done, he had gone the last 2 and half hours before bed without an accident, so he was already showing restraint.
Day 2: He would start in his undies, but mostly finish on the potty. We would complete the entire process {empty in the toilet, wipe down  the bowl and wash his hands} every time, then he would get his reward. We managed a longer and again accident-free trip to the grocery store. After dinner, he was playing in his room alone {aka probably hiding} which was a big mistake on Jon and I's part because we should have been with him at all times... cause he pooped in his underwear. Surprisingly, I don't even think it bothered him! It was awful to clean up and both my husband and Nico gagged at least once each!
Day 3: By the morning, he was showing more restraint already! Although his overnight diaper was full, I put his underwear on first thing, and within 10-15 minutes of being awake, he asked to go potty and did not let out a single drop in his underwear! He had a great day with my parents with a few accidents, but none the less followed through with what he had learned. Back home after dinner, he had several small accidents {at which point I actually thought it hadn't worked} but then he kept asking to go.

Day 4: His overnight diaper was bone dry! I noticed he doesn't like when we ask him if he needs to go potty when he first wakes up, in the morning and after his night. You really need to give him the time to tell you he has to go. He had a few mishaps during the day with my parents but always finished in his potty... SUCCESS!
{Luca wanted to try his soccer gear... I had to wash it twice after he had accidents while wearing it!} 

Even since starting back at the babysitters' on Day 5, he continues to progress! My sitter says he likes to tell her when he needs to go, as opposed to waiting for her to ask. He only had two minor accidents the first morning, and that's it! Luca is funny in that he has very different routines at our house than he does at the sitter's, and he even has a whole other routine with my parents! So he seems to be developing his separate potty routines at all three places too! Funny little guy!
I am happy I chose this 3-day method. I didn't bother reading about a  bunch of different methods or reading a ton of books and articles. This method appealed to me because it felt quick and painless. And I have to admit, I actually enjoyed it! I got to spend two entire days with my boys, focusing on them, and it was awesome! I would recommend this method to all parents! Obviously the number 2 in the potty doesn't come as easy, but I know I just have to watch him more closely during his "usual" hours. And I know he'll get there.
Who could complain about spending 2 straight days with these two kiddos? I certainly can't!

March 20, 2014

A Happy Wall!

My first official project of 2014 was creating a gallery wall as a focal point in our family room. I had been procrastinating about this project for months now, from fear of creating a grouping I wouldn't like in the end. Even just figuring out how to start it was making me put it off.
A Sunday afternoon, my kids were at their grand-parents,  and Jon was working in the basement {progress is s l o w l y  coming along...} so I thought "This is my chance". I gathered the items I wanted to use and the tools I would need for hanging. 

I started by laying out all the items on the floor. It was quite overwhelming at first... I had 8 frames that were the same with a different insert, and since I wanted to ensure they didn't end up side by side, I decided the best way to start was to determine how to layout those 8 first, and then to fill-out the "gaps" if you will. The rest of my collage included larger and smaller canvases, smaller photo frames and two "B" letters, one small and one large.
Since I wanted the gallery to take up most of the large bare wall, I determined that a height of 3 items was sufficient. After laying all my items out in groups of 3, I switched them around until I was happy with the distribution and balance of the colors and different sizes. This is what I started with:

Next, I began hanging the two middle groupings of 3. It is probably best to measure the center of your wall, but I eyeballed it. 
I then hung the next group on either side, basically working my way outward and using my internal measuring tape {aka gut feeling} to determine where to hang each piece. 
I continued this way until every piece was hung.
I did end up making a few adjustments to the last column on the left because it felt a little unbalanced. Lucky for me, I have a lot of potential wall hangings so I grabbed a mirror that would work with the grouping {made by my sister Adèle probably fifteen years ago!} and added it in. A few extra nail holes later, this is my finished product:
This project made me really happy! I feel like it really added a burst of energy to the space that I have been craving. Here are specific things I especially love about the grouping:
1. I love the mix of different frames, some black and some white. I also love the pop of a few photos here and there.
2. Other than the photos, all the other items I made myself which makes it super personal and extra special.
3. I included a few keepsakes I made to remember my grandparents, like the rose from my grand-mother's funeral, or a doily made by my great-grand-mother. I still want to add a picture of Jon's grand-parents on their wedding day, so one of Jon and I's photos may be replaced soon enough.
4. I wanted the overal look to feel casual and relaxed, sort of "imperfectly perfect". So I purposely estimated everything and did not measure at all in order to achieve that feel.
5. The quote signs each have a significant message: from the first line to our wedding song, to "You are my Lobster" from the sictom Friends. All of these quotes are inspirational and memorable.
Here are closeups and details about each piece:
  • The mirror with dragonflies is one of four that my sister Adèle had made for me as a gift for my first apartment.

  • The pink "At Last" sign is the first line to my all-time favorite song, which I sang at my wedding reception for my new husband.

  • The painted canvas is one of two I had painted using stencils for our bedroom.

  • The wooden "B" was less than $1 at Wal-Mart and I painted it with a liquid gold pen.

  • The photo is of my Grand-father Villeneuve, who passed away last August, playing violin at my sister Adèle's wedding in 2001.

  • The next photo is of my mother's parents at Adèle's wedding, my favorite photo of them.

  • The last frame in this group are some of my nieces and nephews: Marie-Eve, Sage, Emma and Mathéo {I need to update these!}.


  •  The first canvas I painted about six months ago. It was originally meant for my bedroom as I had revealed in this post, but I later toned down the bedroom color scheme so it now has a new home in our bright living room.

  • The "Today is going to be the best day ever!" is an inspirational quote I had also made for my bedroom.

  • A photo of Jon and I on our wedding day.

  • The next sign reads "Here I am, this is me, there is no place in the world I'd rather be" in gold writing. I made this sign using the same liquid gold pen as I used to paint my little wooden "B". The quote is the first line to a very inspirational Bryan Adams' song.

  • The doily was made by my great-grand-mother, Mémère Hachez. My mother gave it to me as a souvenir when Mémère Hachez passed away. It is not quite my style to use it on a table, but it is so precious as a keepsake and beautiful that it deserved to be framed and displayed. To do so, I cut out a piece of craft paper and actually hotglued the doily in a few spots to make sure it didn't move. Then I placed it in a frame I already owned. I love the look and the craft paper adds an almost raw and natural feel. And I find the doily itself also adds a different texture to it all.

  • The first photo is of my Desjardins grand-parents on their wedding day, whom I barely knew as they passed away when I was still very young. I saw this photo for the first time only a few years ago, and instantly framed and displayed it.

  • The second photo is from our wedding day. I will probably replace this one with the one from Jon's grand-parents' wedding day.

  • The "You are my lobster" is a line from Friends {see the clip here if you are curious}, and sort of a little joke between Jon and I, as it means that we are meant for each other. {I miss Friends! It was by far my favorite show! My brother-in-law Eric B [aka Uncle Buck] actually told me once "You know that isn't real life, eh?" because I used to quote it and talk about it so much!}

  • The green canvas I had made using an old canvas, mod-podge and scrapbooking paper.

  • I made the "Everything happens for a reason" sign for our bedroom. It is something that I truly believe.

  • The canvas I had also painted for our bedroom.

  •  The first frame  I made specially for this wall to represent our wedding date of August 6, 2010, and I used left over fabric from my wedding decor {damask which I LOVE if you remember my confession from this post of yor!}. Jon actually admitted that it took him a while to figure out what the numbers meant! Funny guy...
  • The blue swirly "B" I had originally covered in indigo blue scrapbook paper for our washroom in our first house {see here and here}. I now recovered it with aqua scrapbook paper, and again added a piece of swirly white scrapbook paper over top, all glued in place using white craft glue {my son's white glue, which works just as well as modge-podge and dries clear!}
  • The dried rose is from my grand-mother, Mémère Villeneuve's funeral in 2006. Each of the 22 grand-children were represented a white rose after her funeral.
  • The green sign is the first line of our wedding song, "Green Eyes" by Cold Play.
  • The photos are more of my nephews and nieces: Noah, Ashlyn, Carson and Megan. They also need to be updated: 1) because they are all years older now, and 2) I now have a new nephew to add: Sébastien was born on February 14! Mind you, I might wait until the fall to update those photos because my brother and his wife are expecting their first child, also a boy, in August!
  • The painted canvas is the second of two I had made using stencils for our bedroom.
Let's look back at where we started, shall we? What started as a retro wallpapered wall when we first bought the house in April 2012, has already seen a few transformations.
This is when I stripped the wallpaper and gave the entire room a fresh coat of Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore:
It has now been transformed into a happy gallery, full of memories and personality:

While my hanging tools were out, I also took the liberty of balancing out the room by hangning a few other special peices of artwork.
This is a beautiful original painting from the late Mary Weymark Goss. We received it from my sister-in-law and brother-in-law as a wedding present. The artist was the mother of the my brother-in-law and a friend, but she sadly lost a battle with cancer in May 2012.
It is displayed on the wall opposite the gallery wall, above a little table where I currently charge my laptop.
I also hung a second original of Mary's, which she gave to us as a wedding present. The original of this painting is by far my favorite of all her works:
We actually bought the original as a group gift for Jon's cousin for her wedding. But Mary remade it into this just-as-gorgeous second original, which I was lucky enough to get as a wedding gift from Mary: 
I believe she used a print of the original, placed it in the center {a little off-set, you can see where the print ends and the canvas underneath begins if you look closely}. To me, it is just breathtaking, and I absolutely love it and will cherish both these original artworks forever as a memory of a beautiful person that was Mary.
This wall gallery has brought quite a bit of life to this family room, and I just love it! It has really made me happy and makes me relax instantly when I enter the space. It is a constant reminder of all the wonderful things in our lives.
Anyone else want one last look? Me too!
This post is linked to:
The Shabby Nest