Archive for April, 2010

On Being Crafty

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

I discovered crafting rather late in life. As I child I hooked a few rugs (does anyone even do that anymore? It seems soooo 70’s), but as I couldn’t draw (and still can’t), other crafts seemed daunting.

In my 20’s my friend showed me how to bead necklaces, and that hooked me. I made jewelry for several years (on and off), until Annie was born. And then after I had taken 3,000 pictures of the girl (really…not an exaggeration), I figured scrapbooking made sense. And I love it! (Well, as those who know me will attest, it is more accurate to say I enjoy scrapbooking but LOVE buying scrapbook supplies. It has something to do with the potential of creating something beautiful, I think.)

And the last couple of years, all those supplies certainly have come in handy! Not many days go by without Annie and I cutting and pasting and coloring. Annie loves my punches that turn paper into fun shapes and of course there is always glitter. Glitter, glitter everywhere! I find it on my skin and clothes and floor and sometimes Markus even gets a bit sparkly after a big hug.

Oddly, and somewhat reminiscent of the 1950’s, scrapbook supplies actually make me feel like a better mom. Annie goes to an English group with 4 other children, and earlier in the year I got mixed up and didn’t realize that it was my turn to organize the class. The organizer usually reads a book and then the children make a craft. We try to have some kind of theme to tie it together. An hour before we were to start, I pulled a snowman book from Annie’s shelf  and then openend my craft drawers to get busy. Forms to cut circles in various sizes, googley eyes, coloured construction paper, coloured felt for the scarf, hole punches (in 3 sizes), and voila! Everyone could make a snowman to go with the theme of the day. I went looking for glue sticks for the kids to use and discovered I had 5 of them. 5? There are only 3 people living here…why do I have 1.66 glue sticks per household resident? Because you never know!! And there you go…what a (seemingly) organized and  never-let-my-child-down Mama I am!

It was a natural transition from scrapbooking to card making. I remember saying to a friend that I didn’t understand why people made cards, as they didn’t last for years like a scrapbook. But then I sent a few and felt great about doing something so personal for  someone I cared about, and of course all the feedback was a good ego boost.

cardBilder 1038

I’m quite excited to have more space for crafting in my new apartment. With 60+ Christmas cards that need to be made for next year, I’d better get cracking!


Monday, April 12th, 2010

Well, it looks like we finally have a plan. It has been a very stressful, very exhausting couple of months waiting to see what path our life would take. I learned a lot about myself through this process. I consider myself someone not only open to change, but someone who craves and needs it. However, when I am faced with so much instability that I don’t even know what continent I will be living on come the next season, apparently I actually stop being able to function. The lack of blog posts the last few weeks is a good testament to that.


Last Friday Markus signed a contract for a lease on a cafe. It is a Testa Rossa Cafe, a successful franchise here in Austria. The location is good, fairly close to the city center. But more importantly, it is surrounded by provincial government buildings. So the crowd will likely be mostly local…not a bad thing in our estimation. It has 40 seats inside and 4o seats outside the first year. In the second year, once renovations to the square in front are complete, another 60 patio seats will be added.

Markus will continue to look for a hotel to operate, but for now he will focus on making this new business work. Our current hotel shuts down at the end of April. It is sad and frustrating that we were never able to come to an arrangement with the building’s owner, but it is also very much time to move on. We are all excited about that.

At the end of April the three of us will move into our new apartment. It is an area called Arzl, which is about 10 minutes drive from Innsbruck’s city center. We are renting one of two apartments in a bright yellow house, so our apartment is actually on three floors. There is a small office on the entry level, the main floor has the kitchen/living area, our bedroom, the main bathroom and a guest half-bathroom. Upstairs is a big room for Annie with a half-bathroom as well. We will relocate Annie when guests come so they will have a floor to themselves.

The pros are a good-sized balcony and a front yard for Annie to play in. The views are nice, although not as lovely as our current apartment. (I’ll post pictures once we move, of course.) It certainly has the feel of a house more than an apartment, which I really like. It is completely newly renovated, so hopefully fairly easy to keep clean. There is a shed for sports equipment outside, and some storage under the roof on the top floor. A shopping plaza is a 5 minute walk away, and there is a frequent bus line just a few minutes away as well. If we end up going with just one car for a while, it is only one bus to Annie’s kindergarten. I’d like to keep her there as she has such a great circle of friends already. And she loves the teacher, which is also important at this age.

The biggest con is that Annie is on a different floor than us. With a windy staircase. She has never in her life fallen, or even slipped, on the millions of stairs she climbs every day here at the hotel and at Kindergarten. Here’s hoping that trend continues. Our bedroom is small, so we’ll have to store some of our off-season clothes in boxes or in a wardroom in Annie’s room.

I can’t really comment if the house is small or big; my perspective is so mixed-up about that at the moment. It is about 1400 sq. feet (135 sq. meters), so it is big for a European apartment, but less than half the amount of space we had in Canada. No guest room, no real laundry room, no walk-in closet. But I’ve been living without these things (as do pretty much all Europeans) for some time now, so I’m not sure if I’ll even notice anymore. I guess I’ll just have to update you on how I feel about that once we are settled in.

And now the amusing part. When I moved to Europe one of my deal-breakers was that we had to have at least two bathrooms. Now I’m looking at our sort-of 3 bathrooms and thinking, meh, I’d rather have more closet space. Ah, perspective changes so fast.

As for the rest of life, lots of plans for that too. Annie and I are off to Winnipeg for two weeks at the beginning of May to help Mom celebrate her 75th birthday. Then I’m spending three or four nights in Paris when I return, as good friends Ryan and Renate are having their wedding there. In the middle of all of that is Annie’s birthday, of course. Four years old. 4!! 4?? Unbelievable.

I’m quite excited about spending a summer in Austria, although I hear it is HOT. There are lots of lakes and outdoor swimming pools and play areas for Annie and I to hang out in, and we might even travel a bit. Markus will be very busy the next few months (although the cafe will be closed Sundays. Yeah!), so Annie and I will be mostly on our own. I think we’ll also just enjoy hanging out at home and making it our own.

My dream is to spend two or three weeks in Victoria and Vancouver in autumn, but that is going to depend on lots of things. So I’ll just keep hoping it all falls into place.

Big breath, a few moments to give thanks that it is all working out, and now off to pack.