Tuesday, December 24, 2013

JOYEUX NOEL - 2013 Yr in review...Sit down, this could take a while...

So, I turned 50 for the first time this year. I know many friends and family have traversed this milestone, as there are many not far behind me.
Kudos to those who survived it! To you others, gleefully anticipating half a century hood .... wait your turn. It will come soon enough believe me! So far it feels like my warranty ran out! Things just started to break ! My neck seized up, my arms got rusty, the back axel jammed so the forward thrusters prohibited movement!! Scotty! She's breaking up! ...I'm doing everything I can captain!!
  It's been quite the year to say the least. To say much more would take too long so I'll share just some so we can all get through this as painlessly as possible. This time last year, Chris was on work leave due to a debilitating allergic reaction to the very products being developed at his workplace. He'd been working there 2 yrs. Most of this yr was spent seeing specialists & having tests done that determined the exact cause was in fact the workplace. Here's an example of said tests...

The latter part of the yr was working with workmans compensation to figure out new career paths for the future in order to avoid similar problems. Being a chemist by trade has made for some interesting alternatives and thinking out of the box. We chose from the beginning to treat all of this with the most optimistic attitude. A new opportunity that will eventually open doors to a great job he may not have considered before. In the mean time, it's been terrific to have him home...HONESTLY!

 We tackled some big projects around the house like repainting our bedroom & ensuite ( seen here ) if you care to check it out.
Then we repainted one of the other bedrooms (here).

Then came My 50th ...YAY?..I've honestly never been bothered by birthdays. Au contraire, I look forward to each one like a little girl....Except this one! For some reason or maybe 50 reasons, this one bothered me and it really bothered me that it bothered me! Oy, what a bother!

So I was determined to celebrate it because? Well because, I didn't feel like celebrating it. I promise not to repeat celebrate 4 times in a sentence. Anyway, I decided to surround myself with friends and family I adore and use this opportune time to just have a great party! Besides any *project* gets me fired up. It was time to have fun...
 In April we welcomed a new client. He is another high needs client who is also autistic. I'd never had the challenge of working with an autistic client but it didn't take to long for him to fit right in and I'm learning how best to deal with his needs . He's become part of the gang now which makes 4 live in clients. So we are at full capacity now, which is what we hoped for.

We then tackled the deck (here) and had some fun assembling recycled finds to make this (here), (here), (here), (here), (here) and yes even (here) and wow (here) & (here) too! Me thinks I figured out that I had to keep both Chris & I busy this yr...

Then in June it was our 7th wedding anniversary and Chris' birthday. We decided to take a mini 4 day vacation to Quebec city.

 A lovely spa hotel was exactly what we needed to relax and regenerate! Good food and better company! It was even a big Garage Sale weekend! Nirvana! I swear I could hear Angels singing! We piled so much crap (I call them treasures) in our vehicle we had to calculate how our suitcases would fit for the trip home! INCLUDING a whole 5 pc log set for the yard that we planned to pick up Monday morning before heading back home. I had special plans for this set, that would eventually have to wait but I did get it done! (here) Our whole weekend was perfect, UNTILL !...Yes there's a BUT coming.
On the Sunday, Chris' bday, for a great treat, we had massages scheduled. My lower back was tender so I asked her to focus on that area. It was truly lovely! I was a bit sore at the end, to be expected but by the time we made it back to our room, I could barely walk. By the time I laid down, I could barely move! I was TOAST!
 It was horrible, I have never felt that kind of pain before. Next morning, Chris had to go pick up the log set by himself and tie it up on the roof of our vehicle (with the help of the 80 yr old lady who sold it to us!) ironically she was way more help then I could have been! Needless to say the 3 hr drive home was an adventure! We drove straight to my doctors office and the following 2 weeks I was flat on my back unable to do anything except be so very thankful that circumstances lent to Chris being home and able to take care of all our guys and me. What a trooper he is! I hate to think of how things would have been had he not been off work!!

Over the summer I slowly got better with physiotherapy and by fall I was taking long walks on the wooded path behind our house. What a joy that has been, especially with the CANON Chris surprised me with for my birthday. Constantly around my neck on every walk. You never know what you'll come across either to inspire a new project, or make you go HMMM?
Speaking of projects, those who know me, know I usually have my hands in something. I've made a few things like  soap , salts and jewelry in the past and even sold quite a few. This yr was no different except with Chris' whole allergy thing, my focus started to change. I started delving into making more natural products. I became fascinated with the whole DIY culture of home products containing less chemicals etc. The more I researched the more I wanted to make. My friends got all sorts of balms, deodorants, lotions and potions, creams and salves, raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things...OH! OOPS! I digress...got carried away being surround by Christmas Twinkles sitting next to the tree drinking my Bailey's Coffee.
 Anyway, As my need for ingredients & supplies began to grow I needed a place to store it all. Chris and I built the perfect place in our office downstairs. It became known as my Apothecary Closet. A true thing of beauty! Click on the photo to see more...
 I needed to learn more. I was already being called the resident Witch so why not get better at it. So when a year long course on making natural & therapeutic products at the Montreal Botanical Gardens became available I was thrilled! I'm absolutely loving it.
 That said...let me preface this by saying....boy oh boy going back to school at 50 is like telling a retired horse to run a race after 30 yrs...especially when he wasn't much of a runner in the first place!!
These first 4 months of classes have been all theory...From the ancient history of plants and essential oils to their biochemical structures and synoptique tableau. Now fatty acids and carbon atoms are one thing but knowing which ones are monoterpenols, sesquiterpenols or aldehydes terpeniques which all relate to their specific and beautifully therapeutic properties to just name a PHEW!.....Yeah, I can't believe I just typed that sentence either! .........It's all a whole other ball of wax! Oh and of those? There are MANY being studied too!

It's all absolutely fascinating but certainly more detailed then I thought, especially taking this course in French !! OUFFF!! As bilingual as I am with French, I never went to school in French (apart from our perfunctory little French classes in school, You know the " Bonjour, Comment ca va? Je m'appelle ......., ) I think I've just forgotten my own name with this studying! So to capitulate these ten dollar words in chemistry I'm learning are worth at least $20 in French!! Basically my brain is MUSHHHH! This break from classes for Christmas will hopefully help regenerate me for the next 6 months when the real fun begins and we start to put all this theory into practice making beautiful creams, soaps and even makeup!
My hope is that this time next yr, my logo ALBA-MOON ALCHEMIE will have a line of therapeutic products that are beautifully rich in emollients using essential oils and ingredients that are free from harmful chemicals unlike most of the products we find on the shelves today.
This next year will undoubtedly hold new adventures. I look forward to seeing what it brings.
Our girls Cleo and Mahault are still in University and living in Montreal. Mahault has a few more yrs to go in Sexology & Cleo is only a few credits shy of her BA in Scenography so next yr she only has to take one elective to finish it off. In the meantime she's now able to do more hours working in an Atelier that makes all sorts of great builds using many different mediums. Like park stools for NY city, a glass sculpture light fixture for a newly opened Birks Jeweler on the north shore to name a few. It's great building experience for her although she's the lone female in the workshop!

It's been quite the year for sure. I'm kind of hoping the next one will be a little less eventful but even if it is, I'm sure we'll take it in stride and always find the silver lining.

From Our home to yours, we wish you all a Joyeux Noel and a very Happy New Year. May your wishes for 2014 come true! OXOX

Friday, December 20, 2013


I couldn't wait to do this fun project on a quiet evening whilst watching a corny Christmas movie. Over the last cpl weeks I've been gathering little things from here and there. Mostly dollar store finds and things I already had. What's great about this is there are no rules.
I was inspired by a few similar projects using mason jars in pinterest. I had mason jars but found that the lids left very little room room to play with. So when I saw these larger cylindrical jars with wide lids at the $$ store I was thrilled!
I got 2 large ones, 1 medium one and I had the small one already. This is most of the things I used...
If you have xmas village figurines from an old village set or find them at a garage sale. Even small Barbie pieces could be used, your imagination is the guide! Most of mine are from the dollar store, but the top jar has some glass pieces I got last week for next to nothing. Two of my jars have a battery operated  street lamp. The wires are very little so I was able to carefully screw the tops while letting the wires to come out. The battery pack is hidden on the plate under the xmas balls I surrounded the bottom with. I shopped the rest around the house, like some candlesticks, tea light holder etc.......
  Even the simplest of my project, ALWAYS teach me something !
So as I started to assemble my things together, I happily glued my little scenes on the underside of the lids. All excited to put the glass jars onto them...to find that after all that, my scenes were too deep in relation to the height of the lids. It still worked but I wanted to improve on it.
  My glue hadn't totally set so I removed everything to start again. Thankfully I keep everything, and after rummaging in the garage, I found some little pieces of scrap wood in a jar. I glued those to the lids THEN glued the figurines onto the little bocks, so they would sit much higher then previously...added more snow to hide the blocks and Voila...the scenes sit higher in the jars.

The little lights don't shine bright, but they are cute nonetheless ...

This is a great project to do with children...I know the little girl in me loved every minute of playing with this!!