Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Guest Post: Jen VanDerHerberg

Today I am interviewing Jen VanDerHerberg who is my sister in law. She writes a blog called Repurposed Gems ( It's all about her adventures as a mom of twin girls and as a furniture re-finisher.

Me- When did you start blogging?

Jen- It all began a little over a year ago - just when I was starting to find the niche for my business.  At first it was pretty slow, but the more I blogged, the more page hits I got, and the more followers I attained.

Me- How did you get into blogging? Did a particular blog/ person inspire you?

Jen- Friends and family commented on how much they enjoyed seeing my work on face book, so I decided to keep an online journal of my pieces for them to enjoy.  I also wanted a place where I could post tutorials for those who asked.  As I was getting started, I searched out other blogs, such as Miss Mustard Seed (, Shauna West ( and Centsational Girl (  They were the three main ones which I strive towards, as far as their layout and content.

Me- What is your favorite thing about blogging?

Jen- I love the freedom in it.  Having graduated from university not long ago, it’s nice to be able to enjoy writing about whatever I feel like, and not have people criticize it, rip it apart, and mark it.  It’s so enjoyable to write about things I’m passionate about.  I love interacting with those who read my blog, reading the comments and responding to questions.

Me-Tell me about how you got into refinishing furniture? Is it hard? What keeps you inspired?

Jen- In 2008, when your brother Mark and I were married, we were starting out in a little apartment, with very little money.  All of our furniture was either home made, or found on the side of the road.  I had a specific coffee table set that I painted white, and switched the pulls to these fun, yellow rose pulls I had found for sale at Anthropologie.  My friends loved the set, and many offered to buy it if I ever wanted to sell it.  That sparked an idea, and in 2011, I started painting furniture, while I was in teacher’s college.  When I graduated, the job market for teaching was pretty bleak, so Mark encouraged me to pursue a business in furniture painting.  Soon enough I discovered milk paint… and it took off from there.

Me-I know you have twin girls (my nieces). How do you stay balanced?

Jen- Ah, my little darlings.  They fill our lives with so much love and happiness.  Staying balanced is probably my biggest challenge.  When I was pregnant with twins, everyone looked at my with big eyes and exclaimed, “oh boy - you’ll be busy!”  I really didn’t expect to have much of a life after they were born.  However, I got some pretty easy babies (half being they have a good-natured temperament, the other half focused on getting them on a good schedule).  So for me to actually be able to paint furniture is awesome!  However I need to not lay any expectations on myself - one piece a week is more than enough - and I need to realize that most of my furniture work is done after 7, when they are in bed for the night.  Sometimes I wish I had a part-time job instead, so I could ’leave work at work’.  However, I am able to stay at home full time with my kids, which is such a great blessing. 

Me- What would you like to tell young moms out there who are struggling with how to fit creativity into their lives?

Jen- Make time for yourself.  The husband can do the dishes when he comes home.  It’s okay to buy frozen meals.  Carve out a time each day - say, from 1 - 2pm, when the kids are napping, the hubs is at work, and the house is quiet.  Go on Pinterest.  Look at that Style At Home magazine you picked up from the grocery store.  Do whatever you need to do to feel inspired, and don’t feel guilty for doing it!  We as women are designed to want to create a home for the people we love the most - our husbands and kids.  Buy that rug from Homesense.  Paint your piano.  It’s your house, you have to look at it everyday.  And most importantly, have fun! Carve our time to have fun with your family, have fun doing projects, have fun being who you are designed to be. J

A big Thank You to Jen for being a guest on my blog!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wonderful women

I am very blessed to have some wonderful women in my life. I have a beautiful mom and three lovely sister in laws. On Saturday my sister in laws and I took my mom out for tea. See what happened at Christmas was two people ended up with Stacy's name and no one had my moms. So she didn't get any presents and Stacy was a lucky duck. So we decided to take my mom out for tea.

 We went to the Old Mill Inn and Spa in Toronto for afternoon tea. It was lovely.

We each got our own tea pots with loose leaf tea that we selected. I choose Chai and I think Stacy and Andrea had a tea called Queen Mary. Then we had a three tiered pastry platter with little sandwiches on the bottom, scones in the middle and pastries on top. You eat from the bottom up and by the time you get to the top you are well satisfied. 

Xavier was the only nephew or niece that could come with because he is still little. 

So how wonderful are these women..well let me tell you.

First there is my mom.

She raised us four kids and ran a business. She has been co-owner of my parent's store Durham Christian Bookstore for over 25 years. She is good at what she does and she loves it. If you want to check out their store go to She is one of my favorite people. She has seen me through a lot of rough times and is an arrow pointing me to Christ.

This is my sister in law Andrea. She is also a mom and business owner. This amazing woman started up a cafe when she was in her early twenties called the Silver Bean ( and now runs it with my brother Michael. She also got a really great position as an accountant at Habitat for Humanity in Peterborough. What can I say, I love this girl. She is a steady force in my life.

This is Stacy. In this picture she is holding William (Andrea's son). Stacy is a mom of two boys Emanuel and Xavier. She also works for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at University of Toronto as well as at Woodlawn Community Center. She is currently on maternity leave with Xavier who was born in December. What I really appreciate about Stacy is she knows how to speak to my heart. If I am upset but am trying to hide it she asks me how I am. We just have these moments together that I really cherish. 

This is Jen (and my brother Mark.) I picked this picture because it captures her fun and silly side. Jen is a mom of twin girls Caroline and Hannah. She also runs a furniture refinishing business and writes a blog called I love talking with Jen about blogging and creative projects. Once when I visited her for a week after the twins were born we overdosed on Sarah Richardson's design show but we loved it. I am featuring her this week on a guest post.

That spells out how I feel for these women and...I wanted to include a picture of my nieces in here somehow.

Find your way of saying how much you care about the people in your life.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Cards

I made a New Years resolution that I was going to make more cards for my girlfriends. I have sent two batches so far and they have been really appreciative. I connect with them regularly so I just write about whatever is on my mind. What's on my mind right now? Spring!

I love making cards. I have so many craft supplies in my craft room so it's a blast to just create whatever I want. I also love receiving cards, I have two scrap books full of cards from friends and family. I keep them to remind me that I am loved on days I feel a little blue. Here is the blog post about it...Encouragement is the best gift

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ivy's Birthday party

Yesterday was my nieces 3rd Birthday. 

Here are the highlights.

Happy Birthday Ivy!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Needle Felted Northern Lights

Awhile back my aunt asked me to make her another Needle Felted picture. I had this idea of making Northern Lights out of felt roving. So of course I tried it and this is what I came up with. It is a more abstract version of Northern Lights but I like it.

Roving is the wool that has been dyed but hasn't been spun yet. So I have these special needles that punch the roving into the flat piece of felt so that it merges together. I bought everything for the project when I was in Jordan with my sister in laws for our weekend last November. 

I love how it looks when you take a picture of it or put it behind glass. At first you don't know what you are looking at. It's hard to figure out that it is fiber and not another medium like pastel. 

The white flecks are from the color of the wool felt in the background. I should make note of that. You can only needle felt with wool. It doesn't work with synthetic felt because of the difference in fibers. I find it a bit hard to find. My local yarn shop only carries wool roving and not the felt. So when I found what I has looking for in Jordan I was very excited.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Social Justice: Governance

As I have mentioned before I am the chair of the Vision / Governance team for the Mount Initiative. This initiative is centered around four pillars: affordable housing, a food hub, a cultural center and offices for agencies. Being the chair of the Vision and Governance group for the Mount initiative was really challenging yesterday. I do not know all there is to know about governance. I took a course on Not for Profit Leadership in which I learned about Board governance. But yesterday I felt in over my head. I am meeting with a woman from United Way Peterborough named Lisa Smith today who was my teacher for my course. I am hoping that she will be able to help me with some of the questions that I have.

So what is governance? It is how a non profits board of directors is structured. You can have an agency with open governance where anyone who shows up to the AGM (Annual General Meeting) and pays a dollar is a member and allowed to vote. Or you can have a more closed and rigid governance where only a certain few are members and have the ability to vote. There will be a new entity that is formed for the Mount initiative and we are trying to determine what kind of governance structure it will have.

It's interesting because I volunteer at a food bank and I am on a poverty reduction board as well as the chair for this new committee. At the food bank I am faced with the immediate need of the individual in front of me. I find out where they live, what kind of assistance they are on and what they need today from us. But at the board level I am making decisions and policy for things that might not effect those living in poverty for several years from now.

I think both are important. It is important to be in connection with those living in poverty and helping them with their immediate need. But it is equally important to be making decisions about governance and how an organization is going to be held accountable for its decisions. The first seems more practical and you see immediate results, a.k.a. someone is fed. The second is a little less tangible and harder to see how it makes an affect on those living in poverty but it does.

The reason I am involved in decision making and policy at the board level is because I see its value. As a network and a collaborative we can throw our collective weight behind issues and have a voice that one individual living in poverty wouldn't have. For example, when the local municipal government misspent the money allocated for discretionary benefits the Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network called them to task for it. This couldn't have been done by one individual or even one agency.

Monday, March 4, 2013

New Reader? Start here....

Hello there my name is Laura VanDerHerberg. I love to share what is going on in my life and blogging is a great forum for that. I love my nieces and nephews and I like to show them off on my blog. 

What do I blog about?
I blog about Creativity, Family and Social Justice issues.

A few of my favorite posts...

Want to read more?

Thanks for reading Life is Sweet. Grab a cup of tea and stay for a while...Love Laura

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The best Birthday party a girl could ask for

Today was my birthday party and it was a blast. There were about 12 kids there along with just as many adults and we had loads of fun. I got lots of auntie kisses and hugs.

Have your cake and eat it to. That's what I say.

Musical chairs

Friends and Family

 Pin the tail on the donkey

William ripping the donkey off the wall.

 My brand new baby nephew Xavier

Me and my childhood friends

I had a blast today. Thank you to all of you who were there. 
What a blessing it is to be surrounded by all the people you love, at once!