A Season

Christmas may be done but until the last of the celebrations have been had and the new year ushered in that holiday feeling persists.  It no longer seems that Christmasy feeling of celebration disappears in the space between Christmas day and boxing day. It now carries on until the last gift of the year is out from under the tree, I have sang Auld Lang Syne and the last of the baking has been taken care of in the most delicious way. It has become a slow fade, a whole season to embrace rather than just the one single day.

Disney Trip and CPA Exam

Since my last post, I have tested on two of the four sections of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. In addition to studying for and taking those sections, we took our second trip (this year) to Disney.  I have also been busy with a continued job search and my stay-at-home dad duties.  I just could not justify spending time on a blog post.

I am not shocked by the results of the first two sections of the exam (I received my grades on both), although I am still somewhat numb by receiving a 74 on one exam section when the passing grade is a 75!  I need to reread the fine print on scoring - maybe I can appeal and/or ask for a re-grading...

If you read Sarah's blog, you know we flew to Disney this time and it went about as good as it could have gone - considering it was our first time flying as a family.  Sarah's mom traveled with us again on this trip.  Having Grammy and flying Jet Blue were definite positives.  We stayed at the Art of Animation resort this time, which was  different than the Beach Club, for sure.  But the stark differences between the two resorts went unnoticed by our girls.  I think.

More on the exam and our vacation in future posts.  This is a clip of the girls meeting Alice in Wonderland for the first time:

Angry Birds - Fan Art

Fan Art - I normally never draw other people's characters, but I thought it would be a good practice and challenge. The point of the practice was to draw them out of my memory, so I didn't look at anything while drawing them. Had lots of fun with these!!

Character Design Website - Redesigned

I've worked all day/night on my Character Design Website, it was lots of fun! I've redesigned it, added LOTS of projects, animations, designs etc! Check it out =) http://einavderi.wix.com/portfolio

The Longest Morning

Dorothy opened her eyes and saw the first morning rays of sun glimmering against the freshly fallen snow just outside her window. Excitedly she reached for the clock on her bedside table, 7:48 shone back at her and her heart sank just a little.  She had promised to let Mommy and Daddy sleep in until 8.
She crawled to the edge of her bed and hung her head over the edge where if she lay just right she could see the glow from the Christmas tree and trained her eyes on that slightly brighter spot. The glow looked the same as it had last night before bed but it felt different, it felt like an extra special glow now.
She pulled herself back up onto the bed and crawled over to the foot board where her robe lay folded over top and reached all the way to the floor to snag her slippers.  She slipped her arms into the warmth of her robe and her feet into the fuzzy bunnies their round little eyes staring up at her.  “Just a few more minutes” she whispered to them and lay back against her pillow to look at the clock. 7:49.
She sat back up and slid to the floor creeping as softly as she could over to the window sill. She stared out at the dawning morning looking for rabbit tracks and was not disappointed to see a rabbit sitting amongst the row of spruce trees nearby.  Dorothy took off her slippers and held them up to the window.  “See some bunnies live outside, you live on my feet”
She dropped her slippers back to the floor and stepped back into them before turning back to her bedside table again. 7:50.
Dorothy sighed and looking down she noticed her clothes from the night before and her stuffed animals all over the place.  She picked up her clothes balled them up and threw them from where she stood into the open hamper beside her closet. “shoots and scores” she whispered. 
She pulled her sheet up and then her blanket folding the top edge down and then the sheet over top just like Mommy had shown her how to do and set about collecting all the stuffies around her feet.  She arranged them just right along the headboard before looking at the clock again 7:52.
 “Arghh” Dorothy growled, why wouldn’t her silly clock hurry up. She softly tiptoed over to her door pulling it open just a little bit further and peeked out into the hall before edging her way out and down to the next door. Dorothy walked over to the crib where she was greeted with a happy gurgle. “Hi Tommy” she said.
Dorothy looked over at Tommy’s bedside clock 7:54. “Do you want to get up Tommy? It’s Christmas morning?” His only response was to blow a bubble. “Really Tommy you could at least answer your big sister” She teased poking her fingers through the bars. Tommy babbled solemnly in response and grasped her fingers.
“Yeah, I know just what you mean. C’mon Tommy lets go see if Mommy and Daddy are really sleeping?”Dorothy pulled the step stool nearby against the side of the crib and climbed up so that she could reach down and hoist Tommy first up to standing and then up over the rail.
“Dorry?” Tommy asked inquisitively.
“What did you say?” She asked him almost stumbling as she stepped off the stool “Dorty” Tommy answered.
“Tommy” she said smiling down at her brother. “Dorty” Tommy  cried again clapping his hands. Dorothy sat down sitting Tommy opposite her so she could see his face.  She pointed her finger at him and said “Tommy” then pointed back at herself “Dorothy”.
“Dorty” Tommy cried excitedly reaching out to grab her shoulders and pulling himself up to stand so that he leaned against her. “Dorty, Dorty, Dorty”
“Dorothy that’s right Tommy, you can say my name!” Dorothy exclaimed having forgotten all about Christmas morning.   
Ten minutes later the door swung open “There you are, I was wondering where you’d gotten off too” Said Dorothy’s Dad “Do you want to come see if Santa came?  Mommy is getting up now.”
“No look Dad, Tommy who am I?”She asked him
“DORTY!” He crowed loudly.
“He knows my name, I’m his first real word! Isn’t that amazing.” She said beaming up at her father as he smiled down at her.
“Yes it is, now do you want to go see if Santa came?”
“Mommy said not until 8”
“It’s quarter after 8 Dorothy.”
“Oh…..c’mon Tommy lets go see if Santa brought you a present!”

Candy Time!

The Great Toy Divide

I had a conversation the other day with another parent about Christmas gifts.  They’re having a hard time figuring out what to buy for their son and asked me for suggestions.  Well this little boy loves to carry around a baby doll whenever given the opportunity to do so and so it’s what I suggested, a doll.
Well the stereotypical attitudes about girl toys and boy toys reared its ugly little head and the suggestion was shot down. 
It got me thinking about this gender divide in toys.  As a mother to two girls who love remote control cars, building sets and other typical “boy toys” I’ve never really given it much consideration. I’ve always bought them toys they were interested in regardless of what side of the aisle they were on.
This attitude seems to be the norm for other parents of girls as well.  While nobody seems to care one way or the other if a girl plays with so called boy toys the same isn’t true the other way around.  It’s still looked at as odd or out of character for a boy to like things which have been labeled girl.  
Some argue that girls and boys are just fundamentally different and that boys just don’t like girl toys. I’ve worked with young children for many years now and while yes girls and boys are very different what they choose to play with has nothing to do with being male or female. 
Given the opportunity children of either gender will happily play with any toy placed in front of them regardless of whether or not it is traditionally a girls or boys toy.  This gender divide concerning toys or any other subject for that matter doesn’t begin until later when they begin to learn that some things are considered feminine or masculine. It is learned. 
While we remind our girls that they can play with whatever they like and that they can do/be/accomplish anything in life we seem to be forgetting to tell the boys in our lives the same thing.
The truth of the matter is that until we make it acceptable for a boy to play with dolls and in the kitchen that both sexes will suffer from those stereotypes perpetuating into adulthood. We will never have true equality between the sexes unless we remember to treat boys with the same ability to choose their toys and interests as girls.

Birthday Wishes

Is it crass to wish myself a happy birthday? Well if so call me Mrs. Crass. because I’m doing it; happy birthday to me. 
Well that’s done with moving on…
That really is about the extent of what I’ll be doing for my own special little day, perhaps later on I’ll toast the day with a glass of wine but really other than that I’m good. 
It’s not that I don’t think about or appreciate my birthday it just really doesn’t seem all that different than any other day. I will get up, work all day, make dinner and maybe take care of some holiday shopping or chores before heading back off to bed.  It’s a regular busy holiday season night.  
Perhaps being so near to Christmas is why I’ve never really considered my birthday of much importance it’s always felt like a slight extension of the holiday season.  After all my typical birthday card is quite often simply a footnote to a Christmas card.
We do try to get together with my family somewhere around my birthday but for me the most important part of getting together during this week is to wish my mom a happy birthday as hers is the day before mine.  What can I say I’m all about the giving rather than the receiving.  
I’m also betting she feels much the same way about which of our two birthdays is the important one.  
For me today is just the day the odometer hit all nines and rolled back over to zero.  The thing is that it didn’t just happen in this one day it took the whole year to reach that roll over. 
What I’m trying to say is that despite the numbers changing today I don’t feel as if I’m suddenly a year older than I was yesterday. Each day that's been building up with every day of the year is to be celebrated and so if anything it will be that I think of today.  
That another year has been filled up with life and with living, I look forward to filling up a new one.      

A White Christmas

While parts of the country are facing the prospect of a green or at the least a brown Christmas Winnipeg is absolutely covered in the white stuff.  No chance of anything but a white Christmas around here. The past few days in fact have had quite a bit of snow falling and the most gorgeous hoarfrost covering all the trees.  This type of frost is usually rather short lived, only seen first thing in the morning before the heat of the sun melts it away but this time it’s stuck around. 
We’re had a week of overcast balmy days and we are now on day 5 of being surrounded by these lovely dressed tress.  Photographs don’t really do it justice despite my best efforts….ok maybe not my best efforts but none the less there was some effort there, I just can’t capture the magical feeling that hoarfrost contributes to on a near Christmas morning.
The sight of hoarfrost, a freshly fallen carpet of snow, Christmas lights glinting all along the street and the slowly dawning sun really is quite magical.  It reaches a spot deep inside that warms you from the inside out.  You just can’t be cold when you look at such a beautiful sight. There is something about it that is just oh so comforting and peaceful.
Or perhaps this is just me waxing poetic once again about the beauty in nature.  It is after all a bit of a reoccurring theme around here. What can I say I’m a sucker for the outdoors and there is always something new to appreciate around here.  Sure I should be used to the change of seasons by now having lived in Manitoba with its extremes my entire life but inevitably the changes still hold me in awe each and every year.

A favorite Carol - O Holy Night

I love the sound of Christmas carols and songs. So much so in fact that about half of the songs I'm actually able to play well on piano are carols. There is something about carols that are warming to the heart whether sung by a chorus of adults or by a children's choir the never fail to cheer me and put me in the Christmas spirit.  One of my favorites has always been O Holy Night yet I rarely hear a version that seems to do it justice.  I found this version by The Corrs a few years ago and it has stuck with me as a rather good one that I listen to a few times each year. 

Stained Glass Cookies

A crowd pleasing favorite; stained glass cookies.  These are amazing cookies to look at and even better to taste.  The only limit to the design of stained glass cookies is your own imagination and patience with a sharp knife, they can even be made as lollipops. These are the perfect cookies any time of the year whether it's Christmas ornaments, valentine hearts, spring flowers or fall pumpkins they make a gorgeous treat to see and a tasty one to eat.  

These can be made from many different cookie types as long as they bake quickly at a maximum temperature of 350˚.  That being said I prefer to use sugar cookies for several reasons.  They contrast really nicely with the bright candy colours, it's a cookie that doesn't seem out of place during other seasons, they are simple and never fail to turn out as well as being one of the easiest doughs to work with.  

This is a fairly large recipe and can be made in a half batch with out ill effects, but really who wants less cookies?  I do seperate the dough into two sections however and bake one section as regular sugar cookies and the other as stained glass.  There is no real reason for this other than I tend to run out of patience since I don't have many cookie cutters in multiple sizes and cut most of the windows out by hand.   

Stained Glass Cookies

2 cups softened unsalted butter
stained-glass-3.jpg2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
6 cups flour
About 40 hard candies (I prefer life savers)
In a large bowl cream sugar and butter together until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Sprinkle with salt and slowly add the flour to the mixture one cup at a time.
Separate the dough into two flattened disks, wrap with plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill minimum one hour (I tend to leave them overnight).
Preheat oven to 350˚
Roll out dough on a flat surface lightly dusted with flour to about 3-4mm. Cut out shapes remembering to cut out and area for the “window” and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. An extra hint; if you plan on hanging any of the ornaments use a straw to make a small hole at the top of the cookie.  
Separate hard candies into separate plastic bags by flavour.  Crush with a rolling pin.
Fill the open spaces in the cookies with one flavor of hard candy each.   
 Bake for about 10 minutes until cookies are fluffy or just beginning to brown.
Allow cookies to cool for at least ten minutes before removing from the parchment paper and enjoy.

'Crazy Beavers' - Character Design & Art

This is some of the recent artwork I did @ Flaregames for my 'Crazy Beavers' game pitch =)

Fox Hole Game - Character Design & Art

Here's some of the recent artwork and character designs I did for the 'FOXHOLE' game at Flaregames studios =) Was such a pleasure to work on it, had the best time ever!