Friday, August 7, 2009

Small things

For today. We spent the day at the Toronto Zoo with my sister-in-law and her husband, and their two kids. Oh yes, and the rest of the kids in Toronto - it was jam-packed with kids. It was fun, if exhausting. I did have a few sad moments, seeing a thousand babies and lots of pregnant women. That was a little hard. Guess I'm going to have to get used to it.

Putting the sadness aside, for now, I have giveaways to share:

For baby:
  • Win a mandarin GroBaby diaper at Green Kiddos. Ends Sunday night (August 9th).
  • Win a Bamboo Bebe kimono and socks at Organic Girl. Ends September 5th.
And ladies, do check out my CycleBeads giveaway! It's such a great tool for tracking your cycle and fertility, perfect for both natural family planning or trying to conceive!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cyclebeads - Review and Giveaway! (8/21)

winner: Tom, Sherrie and Kaden Kimber!
Sherrie, please email me!

Yes - finally - the long-awaited TTC (Trying To Conceive) giveaway.

But wait! It's not just for TTC women... read on to see what's in the mystery bag and if this would be good for you!

As you may know if you have been reading my blog, I had a recent miscarriage. We had been TTC since November, when we got married - I was thrilled and excited to finally be 'trying'! And, unfortunately, we are back to 'trying' again - this time a little jaded, a little less excited, a little wary, knowing firsthand what one of the possibilities is. Honestly that positive test that we may eventually see is going to be nothing like the innocent joy of the first one. Anyway...

I had never really kept track of my cycle before - other than knowing approximately when to expect it. Suddenly last November that changed. I wanted to know dates! I wanted to keep track and know where I was, the better to plan for conception.

One of the tools I picked up to help with that was Cyclebeads.

What the heck are CycleBeads? I didn't know either! It's basically a loop of beads, with a rubber ring that goes around the circle. The beads are coloured to indicate where you are in your cycle. How does that work? On the first day of your period, you move the ring to the red bead (intuitive, right?!). Then each following day you move the ring one bead over. When you reach the white beads, you've hit the most likely days you could get pregnant. It's based on averages, so is limited to cycles that are regular and fall within the average of 26-32 days long.

And I soon discovered that I'm not average - my cycle is around 34 days long - so I can't use these.

But my loss is your gain as I've decided to pass these along to one lucky winner! These are really not only useful for women who are trying for a baby... this prize would be great for:
  • young women just reaching puberty, to help guide them through and keep track
  • women who want to use a natural family planning method - yes, you can use them to NOT get pregnant by avoiding the baby dance or using other methods of birth control on the white bead days!
  • women who want an easy way to keep track of their cycle for their own knowledge of when to expect "Aunt Flo"
PLUS I have made a cute little drawstring bag for them as they did not come with any storage case. The bag contains the Cyclebeads, the illustrated instruction booklet that you will want to read carefully if you are planning to (or not to) conceive, and even an extra ring just in case.
I think this is an awesome product and I really wish it worked for me!

Okay, on to what you want to know - how to enter!

- leave me a comment saying why you would want the CycleBeads or how they would help you. If you want to give them as a gift, who were you thinking of and why?

- follow my blog on Google Friends (current followers count too!)
- add my button to your blog (if you already have it, that counts too!)
- blog about this giveaway

Please leave a separate comment for each entry and leave your email address if it's not visible in your profile. Enter by midnight EST on Friday, August 21st. I'll email the winner, post the winner on THIS post and probably do a new post as well - 'cause I know when I enter giveaways I like to know who won! This is NOT a sponsored giveaway, I will be shipping these myself, so I am limiting this giveaway to US and CANADA only. Entries that don't follow the rules will be deleted.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Early riser

That's me this morning. So unnatural! I'm a night owl by nature. I'll probably crash and burn midday. Meanwhile, some giveaways...

For baby:
For the ladies:
  • Win a Dreamsacks Silk Jacquard Robe (size S/M, in Lilypad) at Pour Some Sugar On Me! Ends August 11th.
  • Win Handmade Home (book) at Barefoot Mommies! Guys can enter too, but seriously when was the last time your guy did something handmade for the home? Ends August 18th.
  • Win a Boob nursing top at Lipstick to Crayons! Ends August 17th.
For anyone:
  • Win a $25 gift certificate to Threadless tees at Contest Bytes. I love Threadless tees for their unique designs - I don't actually have any, but I wish I did. Ends August 20th.
  • Win one of two pairs of Sanuk shoes at Prissy Green! Ends August 18th.
Oh, and I added (finally) a new bunny to my Etsy shop! This cutie's been done for a while, I just hadn't gotten around to posting it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Just giveaways

For baby:
For the ladies:
For anyone:
  • Win a $25 gift certificate to Bamboo Style Shop at Feisty, Frugal and Fabulous. Ends August 12th.
  • Win a $30 gift certificate to Skin Free at Rant-Rave-Roll. Ends August 7th.
  • Win a $30 gift certificate to Skin Free at Simply Stacie. Ends August 13th.
  • Win a Melamine Snack Set from Accent Furniture Direct at Sweet Cuddlecakes! Thanks for mentioning it! Cute for kids, fun for adults. Ends August 17th.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Creative block

I have creative block. I'm tired of the work I've been doing, and I find I draw no satisfaction from my job anymore. I chose a career that is so NOT about the money and much more about quality of life (I'm a professional artist), yet my work has been led by money for the past few years, and the quality of life and meaningful work has fallen by the wayside.

I have a lot of outside pressure to perform, and the judgment is completely money-based - whether I have job satisfaction doesn't come into it. I find this completely frustrating and completely contrary to my belief system. Not only that, the pressure and stress is making the process worse. I need time to fall back, evaluate, discover, review. I need to destress and have a chance to open my eyes to the world and new ideas without criticism. This is what will bring back the spark - based on my previous experience with painter's block.

I have reached the point, after three years of increasingly meaningless work, that I need to refocus and rethink. I've put it off and put it off, succumbing to the pressure, and have reached the point now that I simply can't do it any more.

I so need the criticism and the pressure to go so that I can get to a state where I can create again. If my work becomes a production line, just for the money, I may as well be working on a factory floor - it would be the same kind of mind-numbing, repetitive, soul-killing work (but I'd probably get better pay & benefits!).

Ughhh, it's so depressing.

I need to find inspiration again so that I can be fulfilled in my work.

There isn't any easy answer - no go-to website or manual for overcoming creative block - it is a fickle thing. I have found that for me, time and unfocused thought work. By unfocused thought, I mean a sort of creative meditation - a period of taking things in, turning ideas over in my head, observing life, colour, weather, all the daily routines - a time to consider and wonder.

There are a couple of sites that I find are useful for inspiring random thoughts, an ever-changing set of jumping off points or sparks. It is the thinking about new things that inspires more new ideas for me, and these help:
  • Science Daily - read about new research and discoveries in all fields of science, like the recent discoveries of previously unknown species in Laos (a new, bald-faced songbird, a rodent descended from a species that was thought to have been extinct since 11 million years ago, a striped rabbit), how noisy environments can affect language skills and vocabulary in infants, interesting articles about anything science.
  • The London Telegraph has interesting picture galleries. This week the paper art of Su Blackwell is featured - lovely and inspiring.
  • PaintBlog features a painting by a different artist each weekday. I don't always love each day's selection, but I do appreciate the eclecticism, and particularly the urban landscape artists that frequently show up on this site.
  • Found (click on Finds and sift through each day and the previous days) - a compilation of found papers, mostly, sent in from all over the world. They tend towards the amusing or odd, and can be fascinating glimpses into the lives of strangers.
  • PostSecret - another glimpse into life, in this case people have written their secrets on postcards and mailed them to an artist anonymously.
  • Overheard in New York - this one's more for entertainment than creative inspiration, but can be fascinating.
  • Etsy, of course, is full of creativity and can be inspiring - but there's a lot to sort through to find the gems that speak to you.
I'd love to hear about it if you have any recommendations of sites that inspire you.