less is more

this summer we breathed more fresh air, gazed at more stars, hammocked in more trees, and slept on the ground more often than in our beds.  it was an amazing summer to follow a super-full and busy year.  this school year, i am determined to do more summer, less last-year.   

none of the extra-curriculars that we did last year were “bad”, but always rushing out the door didn’t necessarily feel “good” either.  this year i’m practicing saying “no” to many of the amazing opportunities offered to homeschoolers, and “yes” to impromptu rollerblading/scooter rides.

i can’t describe how freeing it is to be able to complete schoolwork each day, and still have time left over for spontaneity.  to look at  the calendar and see entire rectangles of unscheduled day, is the stuff that homeschool magic is made of.


this year we are back to the basics of homeschooling, and basic is so, so good.

September 24, 2015 at 19:40 Leave a comment

fitbit flex band tutorial

i love my fitbit! i’ve had it for almost a year, and it consistently motivates and propels me toward a healthier lifestyle.  the love died a little bit recently when my device malfunctioned, but the company was great and sent out a replacement for me with minimal frustration. relationship restored!   

derek, my lovable and problem-solving husband, decided to try to tinker with the old fitbit device, and wear it for a few days.  i always use the large wristband and wear the device on my ankle.  derek needed my large wristband, so i was forced to go back to wearing my fitbit on my wrist.  i love my fitbit– i hate the bracelet.  

so because i needed another ankle band, and because i needed it NOW, and because i didn’t want to spend money on it…  i made one.  and now you can too! here’s a very basic tutorial.  it’s an easy project, but requires some experience with online tutorials, because i wasn’t overy photo-happy with all of the steps.  

first:  cut your fabric.  the short side of the rectangle is 2.75 inches, and the long side is your ankle (or wrist) measurement, plus 1.5 inches.  

next, serge all of the edges (if you don’t have a serger, then do whatever you usually do to stop edges from fraying), and iron the rectangle.  at this point, i fold the rectangle into thirds and press again.

with the fabric folded, choose a spot about 1/3 of the way across your strip, and sew a straight line perpendicular to the fold. then measure 1 5/8 from that seam, and sew a parallel line.  you’ve now made the pocket for the fitbit device.

   you can stop at this point, add snaps and be done. that’s what i did with my impulsive prototype.  to make it more finished however, topstitch the edges closed (tucking under the serged ends when you get to them.  

don’t topstitch over the pocket! give it one last iron, then attach your snaps. 

insert your tracker between the folds of the pocket, and wear your new stylish fitbit band with pride.  then make one for your husband, and another one for yourself, and maybe a few more for your friends.   these bands are so much more comfortable than the hard plastic ones, and a great way to use up some scrap fabric.   i hope that you make one for yourself.  if you do, please comment and let me know how it went!


June 13, 2015 at 12:34 Leave a comment

belgian backstory

in april, derek and i celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary with a trip to belgium.  we got a lot of “why belgium?” questions,  so here’s the back story:

so a long time ago, derek and i both worked at muskoka baptist conference (now called muskoka bible centre).  we went to summit college and stayed on as full time staff.  through mbc, derek and i became friends with a strange european boy with long hair and skinny jeans (before they were cool).  we quickly became a trio of friends, with stephan leaving every few months to head back home to belgium.

L-R: stephan, me, derek

it was during one of stephan’s belgian stints that derek and i both separately began exploring the idea of going on a belgian stint of our own.  when we found out that the other had been thinking the same thing, it pretty much locked the idea in for us.

my journal from first trip to belgium.

so in march of 1999, we said goodbye to our families and boarded a plane for a 3 month adventure.  cell phone technology was very new, and staying in touch with my family would be limited to writing letters, and hoping that the calling card i carried with me would work from across the ocean.   my first time viewing the ocean was from a plane window.

stephan’s family was tied to the mission organization Operation Mobilisation, and our belgian adventure was mostly with the purpose of serving God in europe.   we definitely made time for sightseeing, but the focus was working 5 days/week at the OM base doing maintenance.

a day's work

it was perfect, but a lot of places in this world are.  so why did we want to go back to belgium?

when derek and i were friends, we declared that we wanted to marry each other.  not because we were in love, but because we didn’t want to live our lives without our best friend.  so we decided to start praying that we would fall in love.  at that point our friendship transitioned into courtship (derek even asked my daddy’s permission!)

the bible shows us how to love all over the place, with the most famous passage being in 1 corinthians 13.  it tells us all of the things that love is, and is not.  so we decided to use that passage as an instruction manual.

all of that happened before we went to belgium.  but it was IN belgium when God answered our prayers.  a lot of people ask “how do i know he’s the one?” or “what if he’s my soulmate?” and there’s a lot of uncertainty there.  i believe that yes, God has a match for you, but i also believe that love is an act, and something that we can choose.  when we choose to love, the uncertainty is gone.  there was definitely a moment when i looked across the mission’s base at derek and knew without a doubt, that i wasn’t just “trying” to love him, but that i had fallen in love with him.

this story is more sappy that the stories that i usually like to share, but it’s a story that honours God, and so it should be shared.  it’s also the story that explains why we went back to belgium.

the photos are either of my journal, or drawings from my journal.  i wrote in it almost every day for 3 months, and reading it again tonight brought back some great memories. wish i still had that discipline!  i’ll try to get back on here soon to share some pics and write a little something about our 2015 trip.

June 2, 2015 at 21:04 Leave a comment

belly-friendly pancakes

 you know what i hate about blog recipes?  the preamble.  let’s go!

⅓ cup pecans

½ cup oats

1 Tbsp chia seeds

¼ cup flaxseed

1 Tbsp plantation sugar

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp cinammon

throw all of that into a blender until the pieces are more or less uniform in size, and it looks like a coarse flour.

then add:

2 eggs

1 overripe banana

and blend it again.  

then you cook it like a pancake! i set my griddle to 375 degrees, and close the lid on it to make it cook faster.   flip after about 3 minutes.  this part is specific to what you have to cook it on.  a frying pan on the stove will work just as well- just keep your eye on it! 

top it with blueberries or maple syrup or both, like i do.  this recipe makes two gigantic pancakes, that will fill you up for the entire day. 

April 23, 2015 at 14:43 Leave a comment

4:30 has to be good for something 

good morning, friends. i’m really tired. i woke up at 4:30, which is more of a bed time for me, than a get-up-and-go time.  since i’m lying in the dark with a gigantic box of tissue, and a myriad of reasons that my body won’t sleep, i’ll use the time to post a quick update or two.

let’s go!

update #1: anne’s birthday party.

cousins  in tutus

i rented a hall, and schemed with anne’s ballet teacher, and together we threw anne a ballerina party with all of her friends.

despite my being super-prepared for this party,  it was still chaos. i love chaos.

the guests arrived and ate, made their own tutus, had their ballerina hair done, and did their own makeup.  then they got to work with miss maggy (anne’s ballet instructor) to learn, practice, rehearse, and finally perform a ballet for their parents. the girls all worked so hard, and miss maggy was a wizard with them. I also loved that entire families came to see the performance!

behind the scenes (and often the camera), my sister bernadette was a whirling dirvish of activity. we’ve started this tradition of helping each other out with our daughters’ birthday parties, and i really really really could not have pulled off the party without her!

did i mention there was also a blizzard that day?

okay, on to the next:

update #2: anne’s birthday gift.


her birthday gift from us this year, was an elsa dress, and tickets to see disney on ice.

we took the train into the city with a group of girls and their moms, and had dinner together, before walking to the arena for the main event.

when anne first received her elsa dress, she was ecstatic because she had been asking for one since first seeing frozen.  plus she absolutely loves anything handmade. she looks past all of my sewing mistakes and genuinely believes that i can make anything. it’s simultaneously endearing and terrifying.  when I told her about the rest of her gift (train, dinner, show), she was apathetic about the whole thing.

the day after the show, however, she was so thankful for her gift, and declared it “the best birthday present ever!”  shout out to my friend rachel for being the most organized person in the world, and arranging the tickets & dinner!

i’m wordy before the sun is up! and also, so done. i’ll hopefully do another update before we leave for belgium (if you follow me on instagram or have noticed the theme in the sidebar– you’ve been counting down with me!).

going to try to nap now! i know this is totally morning for most of you, but it’s really not morning for me!

March 26, 2015 at 06:54 Leave a comment

tonight’s the night!!!!

it’s seriously the biggest night of the year in my world! it’s sister sleepover time!!!!!!

you can’t come, because you’re not one of the 6 crazy LeBrun girls, but here’s an imessage sampling of what we do when we’re together:














i can’t wait to be ridiculous in person with all of my sisters tonight!!! i stayed up until 2:30 this morning, getting my food contributions prepped for tonight’s party. i’ve got a gigantic stack of christmas presents ready to load into the car, and i may even have a round of beanboozled ready to play if the night needs a little more oompf.

looking forward to a very full weekend of family, laughter, and an equally full heart.

have a great last-weekend-before-christmas!

December 19, 2014 at 10:43 Leave a comment

my blog died.

i’m never home, and when i am, there are sixteen hundred and forty two thousand things for me to do in my free time.  i write in my head, but by the time i’m sitting at the computer, i have no idea why i sat down in the first place.  so that’s my apology with an excuse for anyone who has been wondering “whatever happened to that little blog of joan’s?”

and now i’m just going to pretend that i didn’t fall off of the face of the earth, and pick up right where we left off:

i retired.  but i kept making stuff, obviously!  i love making toys and always having yarn in my hands!  so there’s a little problem there, and let’s see if anyone out there caught it.  anyone? anyone? hmmm.. i don’t see any hands in the air, so i’ll just tell you:

i have loads of stuff with nowhere for it to go!   so today i made a facebook page for all my stuffs. of course, i’ve made the facebook page mentally many times over the last few months, but today i actually had time, opportunity, motivation, and a computer– all at the same time!

if you want to check it out, here is the link.  and just an FYI- it says “happiness made from YARN!”.  i’ll be fixing that cover photo up lickity-splickity.

my little page

November 29, 2014 at 17:13 Leave a comment

Older Posts

pictures of everything!

new tiny owl plushes posted in the bononers facebook shop. 
#crochet i actually do this every day.  instagram is my photo album, and i really hate when people treat it like a popularity contest and creep on my pics. spending the last few days getting ready to post new toys on my bononers facebook page. I think my knitters-block is gone! (even though this is actually crochet-- still counts!)