Thursday, February 26, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act XIX

Offering special $Canadian at par sale

It's about this time of year when all of us Canadians need a little pick-me-up. Whether it's snowing or raining or that awful combination of both. We need a little something, a little boost, to get us past February and move a little closer to spring. Ah, spring. Just saying it makes me feel better!

For a limited time I am offering Canadian $$$ at par in my Etsy shop. So yes, the $US is back to equalling the $Cdn. It's my little way of thanking all my Canadian customers and welcoming some new ones. It's a great time to pick up something for yourself or think ahead for some upcoming birthdays and events.

Please see my shop announcement for all the details and enjoy the savings!

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act XVIII

Using green cleaning products

At first I resisted alot of the natural cleaning products for convenience and I was also sure they wouldn't work. I had pre-moistened disenfecting wipes, stainless steel wipes and chemicals in spray bottles that could probably wipe out a small family if not used as directed. I distinctly remember standing in our shower with rubber gloves and holding a towel over my face, my eyes tearing, as I tried to clean the tile walls. This is ridiculous I thought. The smell from this cleaner was not the pleasant 'oh, you just cleaned' fragrance but more like some industrial warehouse gone bad.

So I've been making the change, gradually yes, but I am changing. Yesterday, I wanted some floor cleaner so I picked up the storebrand green product. It was then I realized that I had actually made a significant shift to more earth friendly green products. When looking in my cupboard, where the cleaning products are stored, I found green glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, toilet cleaner and green putty to clean out the sinks. Some of these products even have a nice smell of mango-tangerine or coconut by the addition of natural essential oils. So I can't even claim that they don't smell nice. In terms of cleaning power I've found them to be equal to their chemical laden counterparts.

So it's a start. I know I still have a ways to go especially in terms of laundry detergents and fabric softeners. I know I could even go further and make a lot of my own cleaning concoctions with the use of lemons, vinegar, baking soda and such. Who knows, maybe in the future that is what I'll be doing.

At least for now though I am slowly eliminating harsh, chemical cleaning products from our home and in turn our water system. I'm willing to look for and try earth friendly products and I'm willing to help make a cleaner environment while cleaning our home.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act XVII

Passing on a smile

Today I stumbled across this video. It made me smile. So I thought I would pass it along and share the smile. Matt Harding has a quirky little dance style but endearing nonetheless. It doesn't even matter to me that at the end of the video it is revealed that he had a sponsor. I'll take the less cynical route and just take it for what it did for me this morning. Smile!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act XVI

Donated food to food bank

We have a local food bank in our community and they rely totally on donations by members of the community. It can be difficult to keep the shelves stocked, especially in times like this. There have been some weeks during the year when they have to shut their doors and turn people away because they don't have enough food to give out. It's hard to think of that person, who relies on the food bank, being turned away empty handed. Imagine how they would feel not being able to feed themselves and their children that week.

In the past I have occassionaly supported food banks during their food drives at Easter and Christmas, eagerly donated to kids and organizations that have collected at our door and my own girls have organized food drives at their schools. Today we brought in packages of spaghetti, cans of tomato sauce, cans of tuna and a two huge jars of peanut butter. I hope this can help someone this week.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act XV

Helped a couple in the parking lot

So I ended up at Costco on a Saturday morning. What was I thinking? It's enough to navigate the aisles of food and products on a weekday but to add the weekend traffic of people it's no easy task. I had specifically gone for a few items that I was pretty sure they would have. They did (and some other things as well!). Almost $300 later, I left pushing my cart to the parking lot.

Parking spaces were at a premium this morning. As a result quite a few of us had parked a little bit away from the store. Less congested but definitely a little trickier and more effort to return a cart to the shopping cart return area.

After unloading and returning my cart I walked back to my car. A senior couple...ok, let me first explain senior as I hesitate to use it because my mom will question me on how old these seniors were (she hates it when they describe an elderly couple in the paper only to find out they're in their 60's). So yes, I would think they were in their late 60's/early 70's and the husband definitely was struggling a bit walking. So, this couple, that let's just say that were older than me {smile to my mom}, had finished unloading and seemed to be looking to see where to return the cart. So, I just said I could put it back for them. They looked a little surprised but smiled and said thank you.

Wow, that was easy. This whole kindness thing might just become a habit with me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act XIV

Picked hubby up from the train station

For some unknown reason, because I never normally do this, I called my husband on his way home from work and told him I could pick him up at the train station. I don't know what came over me but I knew he had left his car home that day and would have to catch the bus from the station to our house. The effort for me would take 25 minutes tops. It was lightly snowing and windy and I just thought he might appreciate it. Well, as it turns out, he did!

As I've learned throughout this month it's the smallest acts of kindness that can make a difference to someone and really it didn't take that much effort on my part. In fact, I was happy to do it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act XIII

Acknowledging the kindness around me

Over the last couple of weeks I have focused on how I can be kind on a daily basis. In this endeavour I have found that I am inherently a kind person but by becoming more aware and open to kindness it has allowed me (or sometimes forced me) to take the extra step. This awareness has taken me outside of my quiet comfort zone, it has made me speak out loud when often I would be silent and it has made me take action rather than just thinking about things.
I realized how many kind things have been done for me, just in the last few days, by the people that surround me.

I've had doors opened and held, friends call, dinner made, dishes done, my heart has been touched by the music and story of three brothers who were once African refugees. I've had neighbours smile at me, strangers say the nicest things, dentist's accommodate emergency appointments, beds have been made and laundry done. I've had daily conversations with friends who support me and lift my spirits. I've had hands outstretched over icy patches, friends and family support my creative endeavours and I've even been 'hugged' by a dog.

I just want to say thank you and let you know that I noticed. I feel like I've just had a giant hug.

No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. --Aesop

Monday, February 16, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act XII

Sharing time with the family

Well, it's a designated Family Day here so it's only fitting that we're spending some family time together. We're not doing anything too extraordinary, not visiting anywhere that has an admission price or even travelling too far away but we did decide to spend the day together.

This afternoon we took a beautiful walk down by Lake Ontario. We started in a conservation area that has some lovely ducks and geese and chickadees that will feed right out of your hands.

We didn't realize that dogs weren't allowed there so we had to make a quick change of plans to the all-inclusive boardwalk. At a certain junction in the path we took a right when most people take a left. There we revisited a spot that our girls had loved when they were little. They would spend time down there, especially with their Dad, throwing rocks in the water and watching the ripples, picking up pieces of driftwood and checking out the hundreds of ladybugs (forever known as "Ladybug Alley" to our family). It is one of those strange things that seems somehow like just yesterday, but yet, so long ago.

Today was one of those moments right in between seasons. Icicles dripping over rippling waters. The sun on your face feels as warm as a spring day, but below you the snow and ice will remind you that it's still winter. Every so often an occasional greenish sprout of grass poking through forecasts that spring is on it's way.

I think our girls are in a similar position in their lives. They are just slightly caught on the side of winter (so to speak), but before long I know days at home spent with the family and walks together will become fewer as they choose spending time with friends over family. Their spring is right around the corner.

These days are the kind I'll cherish, simple walks with the whole family.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

It keeps getting better!

Next on the menu are these beautiful heart shaped vanilla butter cookies.
They're almost too pretty to eat.

What a treat!

L - O - V - E spells love. Our family was treated to homemade buttermilk pancakes for lunch today by our daughter Sydney. It's all her, no help required or wanted, right down to the presentation which is equally as impressive as her cooking and baking skills. Mmm....

What a sweetie!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act XI

Spread some 'love' to my Etsy customers

In honour of Valentine's Day, and to show my appreciation to all of my Etsy customers I'm having a special Valentine's Sale.

From now until Sunday at midnight I'm offering all items at 14% off. All you need to do is use this code - "Happy Valentine's Day" - in message to seller when you are checking out. After the transaction I will refund through paypal.

Wallis Designs
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Friday, February 13, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act X

Shared a smile

I was in one of those large department-type stores and I was waiting in the check out line. It was a long line up so I was there for several minutes. While I waited I watched the clerk, she was probably in her fifties but looked much older. Her face was washed out and she looked visibly tired. She was working quickly but silently. The customer two in front of me was downright rude to her and the next one was not much better. Not a please or thank you uttered.

When it was my turn, she said 'hello' (like she does to every customer) but I responded to her with a big smile and I asked her how she was doing today. She said, 'fine'. I then said 'you're doing a great job, it's really busy in here'. She looked right at me with a big smile. Her cheeks blushed slightly and her eyes lit up. She talked to me the whole time as she quickly rang through my order. When she handed me my receipt, she looked right at me and said 'you have a great day' and I told her to do the same. As I was pushing my cart away I could hear her greet her next customer with a 'how are you doing today'. I could hear a smile in her voice. I guess it really can work - a smile can be passed on.

Imagine the possibilities...

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around".
Leo Buscaglia

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act IX

Keeping in touch with far away friends

I have been lucky enough to have a penpal in Holland since I was 11 years old. That's over 30 years ago and probably hundreds of letters later.

From a penpal chain letter that was going around in my grade 6 class to a long-term, long-distance friendship is quite impressive and something I want to hold on to. Letters that once talked about girlfriends and hobbies, then boyfriends, university degrees, and first jobs, turned to marriage and children and just life in general.

In the 90's, just by coincidence, my husband's brother was actually living in Holland for a couple of years. When we decided to visit in 1994 we included a visit with my penpal Johanna. Imagine, at this point I had written to her for 18 years but we had never met. We arranged to meet her and her husband at a local restaurant and all anxieties of meeting each other were quickly dropped when we started talking. They then walked us through the town, took us on a tour boat, shared dinner with us in their favourite vegetarian restaurant and then invited us for coffee at their apartment. It was Johanna who first introduced us to coffee with hot, frothy milk and I have loved it ever since (although I don't think I can ever make it as good as she did). It was a great day. One of those days that I can clearly picture and remember.

Our letters are more of an annual event now, usually around Christmas time. For whatever reason, Christmas came and went and I had not posted any cards although I did receive one from Johanna. I decided I would write to her after Christmas. January passed and now we're almost into mid-February and I just didn't want to forget about sending a letter. So today was the day. I shuffled through my lovely handmade card collection and I picked a beautiful one with a purple tulip on it and then I sat down and wrote to her. It's good to sit down and actually write something with a pen. It allows you the time to think of that person.

When your mailbox is usually full of flyers and advertisements for gym memberships and of course the dreaded bills it's so nice to see a handwritten envelope and then see the familiar writing on the address. It's the kind of letter I wait to open when I get home so I can sit down, and take a moment to read it. I hope she feels the same way when she sees my handwriting below the Canadian stamps.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act VIII

Sent cookies to my husband's office

So the other day I was at the grocery store and they had a fantastic sale on some of their holiday Christmas items. I really couldn't resist the price and although I had never had these before they looked good. (and they are)
4 flavours, individually wrapped:
Coconut & White Chocolate, Hazelnut Praline & Milk Chocolate, Orange & Dark Chocolate.
Layers of flavours and textures abound in every bite of these delectable cookies: a crunchy biscuit base is topped with
a creamy flavoured ganache filling, enrobed in luscious Belgian chocolate and sprinkled with a tasty garnish. Mmmm....

If I worked in an office I definitely would have bought some for my co-workers but alas, I don't. Sadly, the accountant, photographer, marketing manager, buyer, computer technician, packager and shipper are all myself now so although my 'co-workers' would have enjoyed these it's not something I wanted to bring to 'my office'.

So, I bought a package for my husband to take to his. They loved them. They asked my husband, 'Why did she do it?' Which makes me laugh. Would it be that hard to believe that I could just do somethig kind, even though I have never sent anything in before? No, there was no ulterior motive, no asking of a raise for my husband or extra vacation days. I just thought they might like them. It wasn't very hard to do, I mean I didn't even bake these and for such a simple gesture it made some people happy that afternoon.

And, if I can spread any bit of kindness to you readers I would recommend that if you see these in your store buy some, you won't be disappointed. (and no I have no affiliation with President's Choice or the Loblaws companies) :)

Some things never get old!

I woke up this morning to find my current treasury west had made it to the front page. Unfortunately it was at 3:30 in the morning my time but it's still a nice thing to wake up to.

Congratulations to the following artists who made it a possibility. juliebcreative, babydarling, JennSki, zutaten, greciangoldsmith, Folk, mydogkaya, curtie01, VerreEncore, ThePeachTree, fricdementol, retrofied.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Update on modern bean

Just a quick update for you folks who have been following my blog lately.

Modern Bean not only made her first sale on Friday but three sales! Whoo hoo!

Congrats!! I'm doing the happy dance for you!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act VII

Donated socks to a local charity

A local charity is trying to collect new socks for children in the area. Apparently there are many children who show up at school with either no socks or socks so thin or worn out that they no longer can keep a child's feet warm during the winter months. It made me sad to think of these children without socks and how it must make their parents sad as well that for whatever reason, they can't provide them for their children.

We so commonly hear about toy drives at Christmas to give a child a toy, which is sad as well, but not having socks in a cold climate with such long winters just really hit me.

We thought in our own small way we could help. This weekend we went out and bought several pairs of socks of different sizes and colours and brought them for the charity today. It felt good to do and I hope we can warm the soles of some little feet soon.

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act VI

Smile while you drive

So I've been making a point of trying to be a nicer driver in the last week. I feel like I'm a pretty nice driver most of the time. I stop at stop signs, I give pedestrians the right of way, I signal when changing lanes and I let people in most of the time. But this week was a bit different. I made a point of smiling at people while driving. Not some, mad, crazed-like smile, just a pleasant smile. As I waved someone in ahead of me I smiled. As I drove past the school crossing guard I gave her a smile. You wouldn't believe how many people responded back with a smile.

Instead of getting all frustrated and annoyed in the shopping centre parking lot I came out calm and somewhat peaceful. I had exchanged a rather nice moment with a women who was making an extremely wide turn around a pile of snow. But instead of getting mad I just pulled my car over to the right as far as it could go so that her car could get by. I just smiled at her as she came around and she smiled and kind of made a funny face at me because she knew she had taken the corner too wide. But really what did it matter? Was it that hard for me to move over a bit. No, and what's the point of yelling at someone for doing that. So instead of shaking my head at the wonderment of some people's driving skills and cursing under my breath, I just smiled to myself and drove along in my merry way. It was nice.

Friday, February 6, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act V

Being kind to myself

This morning was not a good morning for me. I woke up with a headache. I hate starting the day that way. It certainly takes the fun out of a Friday!

As I was searching for my Advil Liquid Gels for migraines in the cupboard I had to shuffle aside the regular strength Advil (that wasn't going to do) the Children's Advil (nope, not that either) , the kid's daily vitamins, Men's vitamins, Women's vitamins (oh, haven't had one of those recently) and the Vitamin D supplements (ouch, on that as well). It occurred to me that I had not been taking my vitamins and supplements regularly at all. It was far from a daily habit, or even weekly, let's try bi-weekly, or more like little spurts I'd remember 3 days in a row and then none for another week or two. Something so simple should be easy to do.

There have been alot of studies recently that show the health benefits of vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin). Some research has found it can guard against osteoporosis and may offer protection from breast and colon cancer, heart disease and dementia.
In Canada our northern latitude may be great for skiing but from October to March the sunlight is too feeble for Vitamin D production. During this time, our bodies draw down the stored Vitamin D built by summer sunshine, and whatever is acquired from supplements or diet.

So I'm going to fill my little weekly plastic pill container with my vitamins and supplements today and make a concerted effort to take them daily. Sometimes it's hard for me to take the time for myself, to think of myself. If I'm healthier, I'll be happier and I'll end up being a better mom, wife, friend and neighbour and at the least I'll make my doctor happy. It's ok to be kind to yourself and today I hope my little random act of kindness to myself brings a not so random effort to better my health.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act IV

Helping out a new Etsy seller

This morning I started thinking about my start at Etsy. It was last April and after weeks and months of thinking about it I decided to take that plunge. It was so exciting. I remember the feeling I had as my first listing went live. That feeling of anticipation that maybe someone might buy it in the first few seconds. Well, that actually didn't happen. In fact, I didn't sell anything that first day, or the first week. I had to push the self doubt away and just keep listing new items, learning more about Etsy and try and find my way into the forums. Finally it came, it was an overnight sale (they are always so exciting) and it was on the 25th day. Looking back it really wasn't that long but it sure felt like it at the time.

Well, here I am over nine months later, and I've had some reasonable success. Nowhere near the sales numbers as some of the most successful sellers, or even the fairly successful sellers, but for me I'm happy right now. I thought maybe today I could help someone get their first sale. Nothing's better than that feeling of the first sale and the happy dance around the house. I wanted to pass that feeling onto someone new. So I checked out the Pounce search feature. It's fun. You can choose undiscovered shops and hit the button and it will show you three pictures of shops that have recently listed but not sold anything. In doing this you realize just how much talent is out there. This is where I found the shop Modern Bean.

Modern Bean specializes in the sweetest hair clips made of wool felt and each are hand embroidered. I love the modern designs and colour combinations. As a Mom, she started to make them for her own children and I'm so glad she's now sharing them with us. They look so well made, they are very reasonably priced, her pictures are great and she ships Internationally.

So, if you have a moment visit this lovely shop. I'm going to do a little promoting in the forums and on twitter and who knows maybe I'll be passing on the happy dance to someone else today.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act III

Did a favour for a friend

It's amazing how often the opportunity for kindness can be set before you without any thought or planning. That's what happened to me today. It started last night when my girlfriend called to see if we had a medieval costume in our dress-up collection that her daughter could borrow. Of course, with two older daughters who have already been in grade four (the school year with the medieval studies in the curriculum) and also avid Halloween participants we did, and in fact, we had two costumes.

So, this morning I remembered to go downstairs into our storage room to look through our boxes of dress-up clothes. I found the first one fairly easily and then not too long after the second was found. I had remembered there was a special headpiece for one and I was sure we would still have it. Just a few minutes of searching and it appeared as well. Carrying them upstairs I went to grab the phone so I could call her to let her know that I had them.

That's when I realized that I could go one step further and deliver them to her house. It turns out she wasn't there at the time but I'm sure she was busy taking her younger daughter to a playgroup or volunteering in the school or running the endless errands of a busy Mom. When she gets home I'm sure she'll be happy to see them waiting for her and know that one of her errands can now be scratched off the list.

It's a little thing, but it's a good thing and I did it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act II

Brought and used my reusable grocery bags

A couple of years ago I was one of a few who were carting around reusable bags to the grocery store. I was good about remembering to bring them as I had a pretty good system set up. The minute they were emptied in the kitchen they went straight back into the car. Easy. Well, as time went on my little routine got messed up and it was definitely not more, but less times that I was actually getting them to the store.

Well, today I made a point of grabbing them from the laundry room (o.k. the previous system has totally broken down!) before I left for the store. With a cart full of groceries I realized I had left them in the car. Usually, I would have just left them there and sheepishly used the plastic bags but not today. I decided to be kind to the environment. I stashed my cart to the side of the produce section and ran (well, walked quickly) back to the van. Hey, that really wasn't that hard I mean the parking lot is right beside the store!

So, along the lines of what Martha might say, it's a little thing, but it's a good thing and I did it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

28 Days of Random Kindness - Act I

Donated clothing to a local charity

I have been meaning to sort through some clothes, pack them up and donate to a local charity for months now. Somehow and for whatever reason it just wasn't getting done. So today I put my thoughts into action. I sorted through all the clothes that no longer fit or we weren't wearing. I pulled out a few that were too worn out or damaged but for the most part all of these clothes were gently used. My girls are growing up and out of clothes before they even have a chance of wearing out. As I was folding the clothes into bags I was happy to be donating clothes of the current season. Warm long sleeve shirts, sweaters and even a warm ski jacket. Things that someone might really need right now. I hope some other girls can make use of them.

It was a couple of hours well spent. I loaded the 3 huge bags into the car (I could barely lift them actually) and delivered them right away. I left with a smile on my face. There was not a sigh of relief for me realizing that I had accomplished my goal for today but instead a bit of excitement as I wondered what my good deed might be tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

28 Days of Random Kindness

In the last week I've been thinking of ways to encourage myself to write more blogs consistently. I came up with an idea of doing "Fourteen Days of February". Each day I would write something that I like about February building up to February 14th, Valentine's Day. I found coming up with the list was difficult. Most weren't really that positive. For instance, "I like February 1st because it means January is over". I found it rather appalling that I could not come up with 14 reasons why I liked February. I can't just wish winter away. I'm wasting all this time in my life wishing for a better tomorrow when I should be doing something today to make my day better.

So there I was struggling with what to do for my blog but coming up with a much bigger problem in my life. How can I be living this seemingly happy life but not be able to think of 14 positive things. Am I really that cynical and pessimistic? Maybe I was going at this all wrong. At this point, it's February 2nd and I had already missed the first entry that I could make. While I was sitting there at the table and drinking my morning coffee I looked down at my daughter's paperwork and notices that she had brought back from school. I noticed that they had a schedule for Fun in February in which they have special days and events plans. At the bottom I noticed a list of "Fun Stuff to do in February", the top one was 28 Acts of Random Kindness. All the sudden I realized that is what I need to do. Forget trying to think of good things but do good things.

So here, I am. Yes, I know I'm one day late, but I'm being kind to myself and not worrying about that fact. Hopefully over the month I can make that day up. I'm a bit daunted by the idea but yet excited, maybe even hopeful that I can do one small thing a day that makes the world a better place. So no, I don't think I'll be solving the financial crisis, or creating world peace but maybe within my own life and community I can spread some kindness and who knows maybe that kindness will spread and spread and spread....

Of course, I haven't done my random act yet for today. I'm not really planning them I'm hoping they just evolve daily. So you'll have to stay tuned to see what I did.

I'll leave you with this. It's a couple of years old now, but a friend of mine sent this to me, in her own random act of kindness.