Tuesday, July 31, 2012

8 Years and Counting...

    Eight years ago this invitation went out in the mail, in our typical style my Mr. and I decided to get engaged in May and have the wedding in July. I don't know how my mom pulled it off but she managed to put together a super special day for us including sewing my dress in under three months.

      July 31 2004 was a most beautiful Okanagan Saturday- clear skies and warm breezes- my parent's yard was in full bloom and we had need for very few decorations. I remember waking up in my old bedroom with my sister- we had a sleepover the night before, giggling way into the night, I feel we got very little sleep! The morning was fresh and new, coffee in my mug, surrounded by my mom, aunts, cousins and girlfriends. I remember looking at the list of things needing to be done and wondering what my Mr. was up to, missing him and looking forward to the party we were about to have.

My Bride's Maids- to my immediate right my sister Heather and next to her friend Stacey, to my left friend Michelle

     I remember thinking this day is going too fast- I wish it would slow down so I can hold onto every second. Then I was in my dress, Birkenstocks on my feet and walking with my dad towards my future.

The boys - from the left Brother in Law Kyle, Mark(my Mr.), Morley and Adam

     The ceremony is a bit of a blur- I do have it on good authority that I said "Fartner" by accident rather than "Partner" but there you go I was really nervous! I vividly remember hearing the song Sweet Home Alabama  and suddenly we are at the back door to my parent's house and someone is handing me a beer- and it was done! Let the party begin!

these guys- Tara,Don,Chris,Stacey and Adam- I think friend Heather took the picture
     In the eight years that have followed our wedding day I have learned to love this man of mine more than I thought possible. Watching him become a father to our babies, watching him work so hard in order for me to stay at home with those said babies- I have learned a marriage is not about the wedding day or the ring on my finger. It is so much more- our partner ship would have grown into what it is today regardless of a piece of paper. July 31 2004 was a perfect day with our friends and family but what has grown out of that day is even more perfect- a family that is so much more than my Mr and I.

    Next weekend my dear cousin Caitlin is getting hitched to her intended Kent. The weekend after that my sweet niece Kayla is getting married to her man Waylon. I can only wish for them to find a fraction of happiness in their marriage that we have found in ours. It is not always easy but really nothing worth while ever is! I hope they are content and happy with themselves so that they can bring a sense of confidence to their marriage. Above all though my wish for these lovely ladies is that they are loved and love back equally.

    For my dear husband- my fartner in crime- I love you still- madly- deeply. I always joked that I went to University to get a Mr. and although not evident at the time a Mr. is what I got! Who knew Art History would yield more than well art history? We have travelled around, then settled down, we became parents and now what- let's see where this adventure takes us next shall we?


Monday, July 30, 2012

Our Friend Turns Three

     I have a girl, a very girly girl and her friends are all fairly girly- they all really seam to like pink. I have always had a bit of an aversion or really a lifelong allergy to pink, my sister was the one who loved pink- I loved bikes, building forts and kissing the boys. So when faced with a pink girly girl in my life I paused for a minute-my feminist hackles rising- was this going to harm her in any way? Would this be encouraging precocious behaviour of an age she has not yet reached? Would this cause her years of therapy down the line? I took a deep breath and decided- no at this point she just likes pink and flowers and ferries and I will support her colour preferences!

     With the removal of gender specific toy departments from stores such as Harrods of London gender neutral seams to be the current way to encourage your child to be all they can possibly be- no stereotypes  in attendance. I happen to have a girl who likes to wear pink, play with dolls and dress up clothes. I wonder if society is so overly concerned about boxing our children, particularly our daughters, into gender specific roles what happens to those girls who happen to love being a girl?

      There will be pink in these girl's lives and so why not celebrate it?  With this is mind I crafted this cute little crown and wand number for Miss Dee's third birthday which we celebrated last Saturday. I rarely brag about my own work- perhaps it is a marketing flaw but I chalk it up to my Puritan background- pride comes before fall and all that stuff. At any rate I was really excited about this project, even I have to admit I loved the pink when combined with neon green and turquoise- and apparently so does the birthday girl! This fun crown and wand set can be brought out for special occasions or in everyday dress up rotation.

    Miss Dee's mom- my friend Caro went above and beyond with this adorable party- she really set the bar high for the rest of us moms with upcoming birthday parties of our own! Everything from the yummy snacks to the park setting was perfect,  I think she may have even organized perfect weather for the day!

     All the kids were up and dancing around uncontrollably when Will Stroet- children's entertainer and friend of Miss Dee's picked up his guitar and sang a few well recognized songs. It might have been the sugar from those cupcakes kicking in because after a few minutes none of these kids were sitting down!

    To top everything off and because Caro is insanely talented- the kids "Goody Bags" were these cute little crayon rolls that she spent all week sewing. Ingeniously finished off with a hair elastic and a button as the closure these are sure to make our car rides a lot more tidy and quiet. These would be what I consider a perfect "gender neutral" party gift!

  I like to think that one day Miss Lo and her friends will outgrow the pink stage- one day I imagine a pack of teen girls dressed all in black tees and denim bantering witty remarks back at their doddering mothers who can only sigh and remember back to one very pink girly birthday party.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Birthday Season

   It is officially Birthday Season again for us, Part 1 happens in February but this summer Birthday Season is oh so very special. My sweet Miss Lo is the only one in our immediate family to celebrate this month, along with her cousin- the girls are only three days apart- but her friends are also all having birthdays and they are all turning three! This year the magic number is THREE!

   The weekend of Miss Lo's birthday is a big weekend for us all, our niece is getting married and both kids are involved in the wedding. Needless to say there will be a lot of excitement all ready surrounding that event but I don't in any way want to underplay the birthday. Since we will be away from our home and close to all of our family we have planned an easy afternoon at the lake with the cousins, because even though Omi and Opa, Mommo and Pappa and the Aunties & Uncles are there it will be all about the cousins! I know it will be a special weekend.

    We will have a little gathering with her friends when we come home- we wouldn't want to miss any  cake thats being passed around these days! In the spirit of summer and fun I made these fun invitations to pass out to the other girls- and a few boys. I got the idea from an invitation pinned on Pinterest and just took it from there. I thought it would be fun to be able to actually hold the invitation by the stick which is just tapped on with Washi on the back of the card. Super easy and really simple- thats how I roll during party season!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thrifted Thursday

    On this Thrifted Thursday I am bringing you into a sunny corner in our living room, this is the place I like to sit and read or take refuge when the couch is overflowing with small children. Our books have come to live here and way up high rests a few of my thrifted treasures. The giant wine jug I traded a little while ago at a Garage Sale for some of my hand made cards- eventually I would like to turn it into a lamp similar to one I saw at Anthropologie. The small Ball jar came from Old Faithful a few years ago- the folks at Old Faithful occasionally buy vintage pieces to mix in with the new treasures in their shop. I like to think this mixing of old and new is what makes my own style interesting and, thanks to the vintage bits, one of a kind.

    This mixing of old and new has always been with me- I use all sorts of vintage flotsam and jetsam in my artwork. Old stamps and ripped books find a new life as part of my collages and cards, I am always drawn towards something with a past or a story. Combining well crafted vintage things into our life is preferable to buying something cheap and new that will last a brief time in our life- I feel buying vintage or even secondhand to be a more sustainable way of living. Using what is already here for us or using what falls into our life and trying not to buy more newly manufactured stuff.

    In this sunny little corner I like to sit and read, I sit in a chair that belonged to my Grandparents- it is comfortable like a hug. Combined with a woven pouf from Serena and Lily I feel this is an eclectic mix with a touch of Mid Century balancing out the Boho- for it is in my very nature, deep in my soul, I should be living in a Victorian Mansion surrounded by Brick a Brack. The Mr. however, common sense man that he is, prefers clean spaces with no clutter- and so we come to a compromise. A simple Ikea couch but it is bright green, a clean white book shelf with a Moroccan lamp and lots of art make this place we live in our home.

ps- Im not going to lie I love Ikea- if shopped well a person can find well made basic items that will last in their life for many years. Ikea is also a responsible retailer in regards to the environment- refraining from the use of chemicals ands substances that are harm full to people and the environment- ie. formaldehyde free glues. If I could build every piece of furniture in my home I would but for us Ikea is a good compromise.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pillows are actually a girls best friend!

       It is no secret that I am a fan of textiles, textiles in any form really soften up a room and add a pop of colour or pattern when some is needed. We live in a rental and so changing things like wall colour is a really big deal- not only would we have to get approval for the colour change from the building manager before painting we would obviously have to change the walls back to white before we leave. Truth be told I really like having white walls as all our furniture is fun and pops on the white, our last place had a putty colour on the walls that just made everything look dirty, white is clean and modern allowing our furniture and art to really stand out.

     I thought I would share one of the easiest sewing projects that you will ever try and succeed at- behold the custom throw pillow. These can cost big bucks in designer stores- think pillows that cost more than shoes. Of course these pillows are amazing and beautifully made however when one lives with children under the age of clean hands $200 accent pillows may not be the way to go.  A visit to your local fabric store will yield a plethora of fantastic fabrics at a comparativly low cost- for example I scored this sassy hot pink zebra remenant at Fabricanna for $3.98- at a half yard of fabric it was the perfect size for a pillow cover.

     For this project you will need:

- about a half yard of fabric- about 18" by about 42"
- a pillow form- these can be purchased at most fabric stores
- buttons, ribbon or other embelishments
- matching thread

      Lay pillow on the length of fabric, basically you will be making an envelope for the pillow form, use the form as a guide, making sure you have enough yardage but not too much- I like to leave an extra 1/2" as a seam allowance on each side. For example if your pillow form is 16" add a 1/2" on either side- your fabric should measure 17"wide by 42" long.

    Hem the short ends of the fabric by folding the fabric over about half an inch and ironing, fold over again and iron, straight stitch on your machine. Take the finished ends and fold the fabric so that they overlap in the middle by about 2 inches on each side- this creates the envelope and forms the closure of the pillow cover.

         Pin the edges of the pillow on the two open sides( the folded sides do not need to be sewn)

    Straight stitch the two sides together- in the middle of the cover you will be sewing through three pieces of fabric where everything overlaps. Snip off the corners- this is the only time anyone will tell you it's OK to cut corners! Take out pins, flip pillow cover right side out and push out corners with something sharpish- like a pencil or knitting needle. Give your new pillow case a good iron and make sure everything is nice and crisp before slipping in the pillow form.

       To finish the pink pillow I added buttons which are purely decorative. You can use any manner of closures, such as ribbons for ties or just leave the back plain as I did with the smaller pillow.

    I now have a very happy little girl with a freshened up bed, the slip covers can come off and be washed as needed which makes for a happy Mamma! Or changed  out when her tastes change- although quite frankly who would ever grow out of pink skulls? I also have requests from The Boy for a pillow covered in anchors- these affordable throw pillows means everyone is happy and I still have money left to buy shoes. A win- win situation I say!

p.s. remember what you learned in Sewing 8- always sew your seams on the inside of your item- this means when you are working you will be looking at the back of the fabric that no one will ever see!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Pumpkin's Progress

      Pumpkins! It might be strange to be talking pumpkins smack dab in the middle of July but right now that is what is on our minds. We planted these tiny seeds back in May with my dad- A.K.A. Poppa- we have been waiting and watching all summer and with in the past couple of weeks- since the last time we had been to Poppa's house- the great Pumpkin Invasion of 2012 has happened. The pumpkins have left the garden and started creeping towards the house, perhaps they want to see the world before Halloween? Or at least a different part of the yard before they end up as a Jack O Lantern confined to the front step!

     This garden of my parents is such an amazing thing in our life, while we city folk are stuck with container gardens on the deck- combating pigeons and the shade, this garden grows in lush adundance. My Grandma was a gardener, her sister- my Great Aunt was a gardener, my mom- and now my dad are also gardeners, growing and eating what you have produced runs deep in our family. Once- in the not to distant past- my ancestors were farmers and so I guess you could say gardening is just in our blood. I can't wait for the day to have property of our own on which we can have a garden- until then we will just have to mooch off my parents!

    The fact that Canada as a nation no longer produces enough food to feed it's self, that we are turning into a mono-crop country, that people do not know or care where their food comes from is a terrifying yet real truth. The production of commodity crops -such as corn,wheat and soybeans-from which a great majority of pre-packaged, supermarket foods come from is cheap- and because these cheap crops make up the majority of food in the grocery store our food has stayed cheap.  Is cheap food  good for you? Is it even so cheap these days? I am always astonished at our bill from the grocery store- "we got two bags of groceries and it was that much!" is a common phrase I have been heard to mutter.

    There are so many technologies in which to enrich our lives with these days, make things easier, help us learn new skills; and yet so many of the old ways are being forgotten and passed by because they are too hard or labour intensive. My own personal goal this summer/fall is to learn how to preserve or "can" food. My parents have assured me they will share their top secret marinara recipe with me which is exciting considering tomato sauce is a food group all of it's own around here.

     I feel it is so important for our kids to watch the pumpkins that they planted grow, to lift up the trailing vines and reveal beans to be picked, to tend and water plants in a gentle manner. This slow process of growing food and learning patience makes the food we grow taste all the more better!

Monday, July 23, 2012

the Sea is Singing

    Before the Mr. and I were a Mr. and Mrs., before we even thought of having children of our own, when we were brand new and just figuring each other out we lived in a magical kingdom by the sea. Streets lined in lush trees, trendy little cafes and all paths lead to the Pacific Ocean. Back then life seamed to be constantly handing us lemons and we really struggled, but we could always find joy and healing at the edge of the water on a towel listening to the waves whisper.

   We lived in a tiny 500 square foot walk up apartment that was classified as having "character", if by "character" you mean silver fish and bad plumbing then yes it had "character". But it was cheap as chips and as mentioned adjacent to the beach- in fact if it was winter and you leaned out our bedroom window you could catch a glimmer of English Bay through the branches or the bare trees, the water dancing in the sun or the fog rolling in. We took advantage of living so close to the beach every chance we could beating a path between our favourite swimming spot (Second Beach), Delany's coffee shop and our home. It was one of the best times of my life and the memories are held close.

     It is with a full heart that we now bring our kids to this same beach, we live a bit further away and walking there can be a bit of a chore but it must be done. The magic of Second beach, or any beach really, early in the morning with the sun still weak but the wind warm on your shoulders is not to be missed. The beach regulars in their get ups swimming the harbour as the tide slips out, or claiming "their" spot for the day, no tourists yet and so we basically have the place to ourselves.

       Exploring the tidal pools and rocks reveals creatures left behind by the tide, tiny minnows, baby crabs, star fish, kelp and shells picked clean by the sly crow. This in it's self is an education the kids will never get in school and to touch and feel and see the ocean is such an important thing for it makes it a real thing to be looked after with care. These ocean babies of mine know things I have only so very recently become familiar and comfortable with- the idea of swimming where such large creatures of the deep live and lurk.

At the end of the day with sand still between their toes, with that languid docile feeling one gets from being in water and sun we sit in the shade and wait for a ride from daddy. Too tiered to walk home, all the lunch eaten and fingers sticky with treats. That feeling that only a day at the beach can bring- shear exhaustion with a happy smile before drifting off to sleep- the sea singing to them in their dreams.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I am going on a trip & in my suitcase ...

    I am going on a trip and in my suitcase I am going to take... Did you ever play that memory game? We actually are going on a trip- home to where we actually belong, in the country- for the weekend and I am super excited! I have big plans this weekend to even out these wacky tan lines, attend a surprise 50th birthday party for a special guy I know and enjoy my Mother In Law's cooking. I love going home.

   My bag always turns out to be the de facto hub of the trip- I am in charge of all the little bits that tend to get lost. In keeping with the memory game here is a collection of my essentials for the weekend...

1. For the carrying- Tory Burch & Feed for Holt Renfrew
2. For the reading- Taproot Magazine 
3. For the beach- Badger sunscreen 
4. For the bugs- Gaia Garden Apothacary's Citronella Bug Repellent
5. For the hands- Uncle Willy's Old Style Lavender Hand Balm
6. For the Joie De Vivre - Chanel Rouge Allure #32
7. For the money- wallet by Ruby Rebel
8. For the cool nights, sitting on, towelling off- Turkish Towels do it all
9. For the bribes- Yummy Earth Organic Fruit Lollipops
10. For the sanity- Iphone with Kate Spade cover

 This hand balm is amazeballs as my friend Pam would say. Uncle Willy's Old Style Hand Balm is locally made in Vancouver by Sweet Earth Soapworks. It has become my daily go to product that I use regularly after washing the dishes, the lavender is a subtle scent and the moisture actually soaks right into your hands instead of sitting on top and being greasy. It's like chap stick for your hands!

   Turkish Bath Towels seam to be the in thing in the bath room these days, however they also are handy out side their usual environment. I love this gigantic version that I found at Old Faithful on Cordova st- this really is the perfect beach towel. Thin enough to roll up and throw in your bag, wear as a scarf on a cool night, sit on for a picnic, use as a sun shade for a snoozing babe and in a pinch fashion into a super hero cape.

   Wherever this weekend finds you- in the country or in the big city - may you have sun on your shoulders, booze in your coffee and light in your heart- Happy Friday friends!



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thrifted Thursday

    I am a lover of all things vintage AKA old, furniture that is seen better days, clothing long out of style,old bits of paper and other ephemera- chances are if no one else wants it I do! So many lovely ladies I know are passionate about the past- perhaps as so many of our relatives suggest we were born in the wrong decade or increasingly in the wrong century!

   My mom started me off on my thrift store path when I was in high school, she pointed out that my allowance would go quite a bit farther shopping the local church basement. Our parents bought us the basics at back to school but any thing else we wanted my sister and I had to pay for ourselves.So I was that girl sporting a giant vintage men's tweed sports jacket (50 cents) with a pair of totally rad harem pants  sewn in Mrs. Edstrom's Advanced sewing 9 class and Doc Martens- for our small town I was ahead of my time fashion wise and may have caused more than a few head turns.  My mom always told me I looked great and my outfits were interesting.

   Fast forward through years of vintage clothing passing through my hands, at one time I once planned to open a vintage clothing store, and to the present day. My love of thrifting obviously has endured the years, Thrift stores, Consignment stores, Antique Market,Hand me Downs, Back Alley, Side of the Road, Free- all these words get me excited! The trill of the hunt and the anticipation of what you may unearth make this an exciting way to beautify our life.

   That brings us to the introduction of Thrifted Thursday's a place where I can share some of the goodies I have rescued from the land fill and given a home. Stories to be told when I know them, other items- well their history will have to start where I found them.

   This is the usual situation in our front hall closet, it is getting increasingly worse the bigger the kids get as they are responsible for putting their own shoes on and taking them off- usually they just get stuffed under the desk. So I felt a little re-aranging was the order of the day, the desk found a new home in our bed room.

    This little cabinet was holding DVDs and Games in the living room, it has tonnes of shelves which make it perfect for shoes! The cabinet used to belong to my parents who rescued it from a neighbour who was throwing it away, I think my mom used to store her painting supplies in it, at any rate I needed furniture when I went to University and so my dad painted it this dark navy. During our last move the glass panel that sat in front of the blue lattice broke and so I just lined a piece of foam core with linen.

     My amazing turquoise type writer came from the Hospital Auxiliary Thrift store in Kelowna and cost me a dollar( it makes a great place to display photos), the change bowl my Grandpa turned on the lathe and the vintage globe came from Step Back in Kitsilano.

    The real super star of the front hall is this beautiful vintage window that my lovely cousin Laura scored in a back alley. The window was leaning against a garage in the alley for weeks, lovely cousin Laura decided to put a note with her phone number on it- the owner called and said she could have it! This was our house warming gift- I love it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Day at the Farm

    A recent morning found us meeting some dear friends out in North Vancouver at Maplewood Farm, We had never been before but word on the playground was this is the place to go if you have toddlers- we decided to check it out.  What we found when we got there, a mere 15 minute drive from our place, was a bucolic paradise in the middle of a busy city. The way Maplewood Farm is situated you would never know you are smack dab in the middle of North Vancouver and that just to the other side of those trees is a Superstore.

     Filled with examples of your typical farm animals this is more petting zoo than farm which by 11:00 on a Saturday morning is teaming with small people under the age of 4. It got busy quickly and there were actually people waiting at the gate to get in- us included. This indeed is the place to bring toddlers on a warm summer morning- playground rumours confirmed. I would safely say that this place is great for kids under 4 years of age- the Boy got a little bored quickly after feeding the cute sheep. The milking attraction which involved buckets of water and squirting people also really seamed to draw a crowd of 4-5 year olds.

      Miss Lo and her friend however loved the Farm, the bunnies were a big hit as was feeding the ducks. Bird seed conveniently purchased when paying admission- perhaps the gates opened a tad late due to putting the finishing touches on the bird goodies? The girls are almost three years, born in a year when 5 other women I know had girls and they were all born with in 4 weeks of each other- apparently we moms were indeed drinking the cool aid that year. Three seams to be the magic number for a visit to the farm- the girls really had a good time and loved seeing the baby goats and cows.

      I had a lot of fun playing around with my new camera , a  Pentax digital SLR which makes me feel like I am back in Photography 101. No I wasn't lucky to have the cool professor Briar Craig who I heard was pretty much the most popular Prof in the Arts Dept. I had the crazy guy who walked around in socks and sandals, playing the jazz flute- I didn't learn much that year- but I digress. Needless to say I had a great time shooting tonnes of pictures of super cute kids who moved around a lot and super cute animals who did not move much at all.

Obviously after a trip to the Farm a stop in Deep Cove for ice cream is a must! Miss Lo takes after her mother (thats me) and has never met an ice cream cone she doesn't like- one day I will be saying that about Gin & Tonics I am sure. After our celebratory stop at Gelato Express ( what were we celebrating? I don't know- surviving the Clydesdales perhaps) and while the Mr. was mopping up drippy ice cream faces I slipped away for a few minutes to my favourite shop in the Cove for a sniff around.

Much to the Mr's relief and my chagrin I quickly realised I had left my wallet at home,  I could have easily come home with a cute Maileg bunny - keeping in the spirit of the day- or a colouring poster from Draw me a Lion. The choices are tough to make in such a well curated shop- hence making it one of my faves! It doesn't matter what time of year we head out to the Cove we always have a great time in such a beautiful place- and next time I wont forget my wallet!