Monday, September 30, 2013

Swapcity: Weekend Clothing Swap

         I know that on Friday I wrote about living with less- and I still stand by that post- I love the less is more concept however just because one is living with less doesn't mean one passes up the opportunity to a) further clean out her closet and b) get some new, free clothes! Lets rewind for a second here and start with a few facts- cause I am nerdy like that and I enjoy wowing people! Fact- Americans (and Canadians) dispose of over 11 million tonnes of clothing each year- that is on average 65 pounds of textiles per person each year! Crazy business! Fear not there are plenty of ways to keep perfectly good clothes out of the landfill and this  past weekend a group of ladies in Vancouver's West End did their part to help out by attending a clothing swap.

     There is most definitely a recipe to hosting a successful clothing swap- first invite a wide range of guests- include friends of all shapes and sizes- often people have things that no longer fit that they are wishing to get rid of. Send out your emails well in advance so friends can really dig through their closets- send out reminders a week or so before the date just to remind everyone. Host the event at the end of a season- everyone is always looking to update their wardrobe after wearing the same clothes for the past few months. Also include in the swap- accessories, books/ magazines and children's clothes- this was the best part of our swap- Miss Lo has recently had a growth spurt and I had a large bag full of really good items with no where to go- now they will have a second life.

        The day of the swap- put out tables and label where items are to go- for example all the pants in one area and skirts in another.  Full length mirrors are a must for trying on- having a couple of mirrors is great. Of course for me the best bit of any party is the snacks- so have some yummy snacks and a couple of bottles of wine cracked open- some good music and you are set to go.

       Our hostess did an excellent job- it really was such a fun party- while I did manage to go home with a lot less than I came to the party with I did snag a few really great items- including this DVF dress and a wonderful hand knit sweater! The fun bit about clothing swaps is you never know what you are going to find- you can try things with zero risk and if they don't work out then just bring them back to the next swap! Not only are clothing swaps fun but you really are keeping huge amounts of textiles out of the landfill- whatever is left behind at the end of a swap can be donated to a local women's shelter or other charity.

          In my opinion any after noon spent trying on clothes and drinking wine with my friends is an afternoon well spent- if the cost to me was nothing then all the better! As I have mentioned before I like clothes- I really do- I enjoy everything about the fabric in our lives. What I don't enjoy is the excess amount, the way manufactures are cheaply turning out disposable fashion- a clothing swap is an excellent solution for so many of these moral dilemmas that face me when shopping. So the next time you have that bog bag of clothes sitting in the back of your closet waiting to be dropped off at the thrift store- maybe instead invite over a few friends and shop each other's closets!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Simple Family Friday

Creating a Uniform

        I think for me and many other busy Mommas across this fine country one of the biggest challenges is getting out the door in the morning attired in an outfit that does not warrant a call from Stacey and Clinton.* Personally I love clothes- I love fashion- I just don't love the conditions under which most conventional clothing is made or the hefty price tag that accompanies most "quality" goods. The quandary then becomes what to wear as opposed to What Not To Wear!

     So to make getting dressed for myself easy I have curated a simple personal uniform- my closet is stocked with basics that I can blindly reach in and grab and on any given day be happy with what I have come out with! The secret to my super simple Momma wardrobe? Everything goes together- the only thing I like to avoid is double denim- you know the Texas Tuxedo! Aside from that fashion faux pas everything else is fair game.

    I started with a few basic bottoms- I have a great pair of dark jeans, the perfect pair of boyfriend jeans, skinny cargo jeans and a fun trendy colour (turquoise)pair of jeans that works year round- that's right I have four pairs of pants. From there I have a number of tops that can be paired with all of these- throw in a few (count em 3) great dresses and leggings and call it a day. I do also have yoga and jogging clothes but those don't really count as part of my daily gear- my rule- no sweat pants outside of the gym or house- straight up Momma- leggings and a dress are just as easy and comfortable as jogging pants!

    When shopping for clothes I like to look for companies who's values are aligned with my own- Maiwa on Granville Island is one of my go to places for great sustainable fashion. Another fantastic local company is Mandala Sky- love their yoga clothes- these are the exception to the rule- they are street worthy yoga clothes- such good dresses- I'm wearing a pair of their pants right now in fact! If you start to look and pay for good quality, sustainable items for your closet that will last- you will find them.

    These days fashion for me is so much more simple- I don't even need to think about what I am going to wear- but in a good way because I love each piece that's in my closet. Shopping is fun and easy because I only shop a few places- besides thrifting and clothing swaps. For me half the battle is won if I can get up and dressed and feel confident in what I have on- if I can do this before everyone else is up and starting their busy day then all the better. Living with quality over quantity- fewer items that last longer- thats what makes my life super simple!

     Friends it is Friday again- yippee! It also happens to be a Pro- D day here which means no school- my Littles are already up and bouncing off the walls- they are super excited to have all their friends over this afternoon! I hope your weekend is snug and dry- warmed with lots of love, grace and a box of fine wine- Happy Friday Friends!

* Ok so if you have no TV or have been living under a rock for the past 10 years Stacey and Clinton are the stars of What Not To Wear my Hatewatch- I love it because it's about clothes- I hate it because it encourages people to conform- but they do have a lot of good "rules"!


Thursday, September 26, 2013


       I am finding it so easy to get bogged down by life these days- not in a bad way just in an incredibly busy way- the days of September are whizzing by at increasing speed and I feel like just hitting pause so I can look up and breath a moment. I have taken to waking and rising very early just so I can have some peace and a moment to myself in which to come here to this space- it keeps me sane- with my first and most favourite latte of the day I can just sit and reflect for a minute before jumping into the fray.

      In that same vein I often find I have much to complain about with little regard to all the good things in my life I have to be grateful for- I give power to the negative and don't even consider the good. The good things far outweigh the negative or hard things - in an effort to acknowledge all that I am grateful for I am pausing this morning- and this is what I have to share.

I am grateful for:

The amazing weather yesterday- making it a treat to walk to and from school twice in our day- the blue skies and crisp winds made it the perfect fall day- perfect picture taking weather!

My boy had a great day at school- as we left many other classmates yelled out at him "Goodbye!"- we felt part of the school community-like we belong- I am grateful for that moment after some really tough weeks

Time spent with just my Girly yesterday- we explored fountains and public sculptures on our way to a friend's house- I love that the word sculpture is even part of her young vocabulary- I love learning who she is on her own

Finding myself a tribe of wonderful women who are just as crunchy, crazy and fun as I am- friends who like tea and cake and wine- separately or together- spending time with them yesterday

Extra canning jars from said friends- I am ever so grateful for those!

I am so grateful that the Mr. has a job- contract work is a pain - I am so happy he has work right now- I am grateful for that- just not the long hours

Looking forward to more "spare" time spent at a coffee shop on my own today- a full three hours with no Littles is still feeling really foreign and I can be quite emotional about it- but I am enjoying actually sitting and reading or people watching- in the city I never tire of people watching!

      My list may be mundane to some but to me these are the things keeping me going this week- it really is the small things like a cup of tea with friends or the sunshine sifting through the window that I have to be grateful for always- sometimes I need to look up and remind myself that. Once power is given to all these good things- the hard and scary things don't seem so bad anymore!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Studio Update and A Fun Announcement

     After a short break from the studio I am back and busy working away on a few new products for the fall! Working through a new product can be challenging and emotional at times- which is weird- you wouldn't think a canvas tote bin would illicit any emotion other than "yay now I can organize". I have been really struggling getting the size and pattern of the tote bin but I think I got it now- Miss Lo approves and has claimed the sample bin for herself- more will appear in the shop soon!

      I have three new pillow designs that are in the Facebook shop- hand screen printed on natural linen and backed with a variety of pinks- linen, silk and dupioni- all in pink! Pop on over to the shop and have a look- each pillow is 19x 19 and has a zipper for easy washing- $45 for the pillow cover- $60 for the pillow cover and filler- please contact me via my Plain Jane page for details or questions.

      My big exciting news is that I am officially signed up to the The Urban Market at Highstreet in Abbotsford with Spruce Collective- starting with a private shopping and wine event on Friday October 25 (tickets are $40) followed by a full shopping day Saturday October 26. I absolutely love the ladies of Spruce Collective and have long admired their markets of the past- I am super excited to actually be a part of this one as a vendor- not just shopping! 

       So folks it is getting to be that time of the year- uber organized people are starting their Holiday shopping and making- elving as I like to call it! This year I encourage you all to seek out artisans in your neighbourhood- crafter's markets are everywhere- support your local artist! If you are looking to have a bit of custom sewing or screen printing done now is the time- I am taking pre orders on all of the items in my shop- here- as well as still accepting custom orders until mid November. Please contact me via the comments section of my blog or my Plain Jane Facebook page!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Art and Times of Rebecca Chaperon

           Vancouver has such an amazing array of artists these days- most of whom are toiling away in their garret like studios- freezing all winter and sweltering all summer- OK well that may be a tad over exaggerate. One Vancouver artist who congers up such images of the solo artist in said garret is Rebecca Chaperon- creator of the soon to be released tome from Simply Read Books Eerie Dearies- 26 Ways To Miss School.

        I have long been a fan of Rebecca's work and have been fortunate enough to watch her grow as an artist and individual for the better part of the last decade- that is to say she is a dear friend. All that aside I am a great admirer of her work- the way she can lend a narrative to almost any scene- be it with the placement of a lock of drifting hair or the glance of a wayward school girl's eye. Rebecca tells stories through her paintings- they need no words only imagination or a bit of astral projection.

       In her own words "Eerie Dearies is an unusual book that offers a carefully crafted & alphabetized selection of twenty-six beautifully illustrated excuses for being absent from school. Faded and well-used book covers serve as compelling backgrounds to each of these delicately rendered acrylic paintings, creating an atmosphere akin to an old and dusty collection of darkly humorous myths. This bizarre and astonishing ABC book contains 26 illustrations of absent school girls in ephemeral landscapes. These intriguing figures are at once pale and wan and amusingly dramatic."

        Rebecca's book Eerie Dearies- 26 Ways To Miss School available for- pre order- here- the special edition pre-order comes chock full of goodies like stickers and cards. This December the Grunt Gallery is hosting an art exhibition and book signing for Eerie Dearies- it sounds like the evening will be loads of fun and school yard hi jinx - as well as the opportunity to view the twenty six illustrations together for the final time. Some of the original paintings from the book are still for sale- a few have been snapped up by folks in the know- check out Rebecca's blog for more information.

          Having watched Rebecca work on this series for quite some time now I am very excited to see the final product come together. Of course I have only seen a tiny bit of what goes into the making of a book- I know that beyond the art  Rebecca put in hours and hours of planning and work. I can only imagine what it must be like to take a book from inception through to publication- watching your little idea grow to become a tangible thing that people actually hold and read!

        We all know that I love to support local talent- I think it is important- regardless of time of year- to think about buying as close to home as possible- when you buy from a local artist or artisan you are buying a part of that person's dream- you are buying a moment- you are contributing to the world in a way no purchase at any big box store ever possibly will. So I urge you to check out Rebecca's web shop- place a pre-order for a truly wonderful book and in return get a piece of pure magic!

Monday, September 23, 2013

First Day of Fall Field Trip

             We said farewell to Summer officially this weekend- Fall arrived with a storm of epic proportions. Wind and rain on Sunday morning forced us to scrap our original plans to play outside and look for something a little dryer! Originally we had planned to head out to the Fraser Valley and explore Fort Langley- this was not to be- but we were still pretty keen on the idea of a day in the country so we loaded up the truck and headed East to Abbotsford.

          Our trip was very spontaneous and we weren't really sure what we would end up doing- we paid a visit to down town Abbotsford and I stopped by for a quick browse at Spruce Collective- of course. We were headed home when we decided to stop at the red barn we always see from the highway when we are heading to the Okanagan- we have always been curious about this spot and it felt like the perfect time to stop.

           The red barn is home to Nature's Pickin's- a local deli and produce store- lots of local goodies including Monkey Butter and some really yummy cookies! In addition to the store there is a learning dairy Bakerview EcoDairy- lots of cute little animals to visit with as well as plenty of space to run around- The Boy was pretty excited about the tractors! Tours of the dairy barn happen regularily throughout the day- visitors can see the robotic milkers working and visit with a few of the happy cows.

        The Eco Dairy is the first demonstration farm of it's kind in Canada- incorporating green technology with tradition. You can see evidence of this every where you look- most noticeable- the giant rain water collectors. Surrounded by 80 acres of farmland- including blueberry bushes- the dairy can only be described as bucolic in nature- no wonder they have happy cows!

         We loved visiting the goats and sheep- Miss Lo really liked the sheep a lot and spent some time feeding them grass through the fence- aside from the cow smell- which she really did not like- she enjoyed the animals. I really feel it is important to get out of our comfort zone once in a while and try new things- Miss Lo was definitely out of her comfort zone- mud and cows- two things she really doesn't care for but she gave it her best.

        We drive through this area often- on our way home in either direction- I love the scenery- flat and open- so unlike the valley I grew up in. Even with the cloud cover down low it was easy to admire the lush greenery broken up by tall poplars starting to change colour. It was nice to stop and explore a place that feels so familiar yet not at all as we only see it from the window of our vehicle.

          After thoroughly exploring the tractors, barn and pens out back we did stop and do a little grocery shopping- such a small well stocked little shop- everything local and fresh. It's fall harvest season now so the pumpkins are coming out as are apples and corn. This was such a fun little stop- I mean where else can you grocery shop with roaming chickens?

        If you are looking to go Nature's Pickin's or the Bakerview EcoDairy both are located at 1356 Sumas Way and is open seven days a week- family owned and operated you will find only high quality, local goods here. I am so glad we stopped- after all these years I finally got to find out what was in the red barn on the side of the highway!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Simple Family Friday:Walking

      One of the best pieces of "advice" I have to give on keeping life simple is to walk- just walk. Why wait for a bus when you could walk? Have a problem? Go for a walk and participate in some simple meditation! Too many carbs (ahem) making your jeans tight? Ditch the car and walk! A walk can be so peaceful and connecting.

     There are so many discoveries to be made on a daily walk- on our walks to an from school we are witnessing the changing of the seasons- the leaves are starting to turn colour and fall, the light is changing- when one walks one has the time to luxuriate in these changes. Even in the city nature is everywhere- waking is a great way to connect with it.

     We have all heard or more recently read that French women don't get fat- now I have never been to France but from what I hear the French female figure can be partially contributed to all the walking that the French do. To the schools, markets, grocery shops- the French walk everywhere and then they can eat all those delicious little croissant!

      I find that if life is getting too hectic or I am just feeling overwhelmed a good walk puts everything back in it's place. Nothing beats trying to work out a sewing pattern or project problem like a good solitary walk does.

       Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention the obvious environmental benefits of walking- leaving the car at home forces us to do a few things- first of all when on foot we tend to stay more localized- a little closer to home means we are spending money in our communities. We also tend to buy less- when on foot I always consider a large scale purchase- how would I get this giant mirror home for example- which inevitably leads to the question- do I really need it- not so much as it often turns out! Saving the gas and miles on the car for when we really need it not only benefits the environment but our waistlines as well!

     Friends it is Friday yet again! I am super excited to do not much of anything this weekend- waffles and coffee are a possibility and a trip to Bird on a Wire over on Main Street to visit with the creator of Rice Babies is a most definite! If you are in the Main St area Kellie will be the artist in the window from 11- 4 on Saturday! Friends I hope you all have a wonderful weekend- may some magic land in your path and if not there is always more coffee! Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Making Of A DIY Video

           A few weeks ago I was approached by Opus Framing And Art Supplies about possibly participating in a Do It Yourself video for their series of online guides- the topic was block printing. A few things you may or may not know about me- I love attention- shocking right? When I worked at Opus on Granville Island I would sign up for as many in store demos as I possibly could- aside from the change of pace I loved having all eyes on me. I do enjoy performing- possibly I'm a natural born ham.

        Another thing you might not know about me is that I love to teach- not in a conventional classroom setting- but teaching in a more hands on manner- skills that people will get excited about and utilize in their own life. Hence why I started holding my own screen and block printing classes out of my studio- it's a great way to get other people in the studio in a non- overwhelming manner. Often people are intimidated at the thought of cracking open those art supplies or even stepping into the art store- I like to consider my classes a gateway to art.

         At any rate last Friday found me heading to the downtown location of Opus Framing And Art Supplies where I met with Julia Dilworth from 24 Hours- she has her own weekly DIY section in Thursday's edition- chock full of great ideas! We had plenty to chat about right off the bat- we both like to make things so it was a natural connection. We were working with a couple of lovely folks from Opus' head office- Ryan and Crissy who are both pros- they set us at ease as we stepped in front on the camera to begin filming- I could not have asked for a more fun and positive group!

       The idea of the video is for me to tech Julia how to block print- she was a newbie and I was the "expert" which we had a good chuckle about all day. I may have block printed many times before but this was in fact one of my first times trying out the Gamblin Relief Inks*- which were amazing! So in addition to teaching Julia and the viewers about block printing I also learned about a fantastic new (to me) product. I love the feel of rolling out the oil based Gamblin Inks- the heavy pigment load which affords a deep and rich colour- not to mention the beautiful fine detail that the ink picks up.

      This was definitely a wonderful experience for me- not only did I love meeting a bunch of new people but I had a great time playing with some new art supplies in front of the camera- sort of like the perfect storm! The video should be up online in the next week or so- I will most definitely link to it here on the blog - I am so excited and proud of what we made! A big thank you to Crissy, Ryan and Julia for a great day as well as the staff of Opus Downtown for hosting us- and sharing your freezies!

* Gamblin Relief Inks- so for the lovely nerdy folks who are wondering what makes oil based inks so special - oil is more of a traditional printing ink- it is heavily pigmented which affords rich colour- making it perfect to print of fabric with as there is no need to heat set. Gamblin is a small company from Portland where paint and inks are still made in small batches- meaning super high quality control- these guys make a beautiful product!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fear : Deep Water

           Last night I had the strangest dream- of course it was related to anxiety- they always are. My boy started school not too long ago and the transition into kindergarten has been rocky to say the least- not only has his sleep been fitful and interrupted but mine has as well. Last night's dream was terrifying- the sort where you wake up with your heart racing-and it lingers- yeah that sort- it got me started thinking about fear this morning- and what on earth am I so afraid of.

          There is not much that I am actually afraid of- no fear that can't be faced and survived- with the exception of Dinosaurs- but don't even get me started on that because fear of Dinosaurs is a very real thing- have you people not seen Jurassic Park? It could happen. Most of my fears do not paralyze me- I can usually just be afraid and deal with it; spiders- get jar, trap spider and leave for someone else, heights- just keep climbing, Dinosaurs- if you don't move they can't see you. The only thing that really makes me freeze up is the prospect of deep water.

       Which is ironic considering my many years spent on the water as a kid and young adult- I learned to swim in the most freezing of lakes, I worked at a marina, canoed, kayaked and wake bored by the light of a full moon, as a kid I was easily in the water every single day. Today the idea though of learning to surf for example leaves me paralyzed- I can not even think about the Orca Whale that is lurking below the limit of my sight thinking I look like a good snack- yes I have seen that movie too- Orca- it is terrifying and no six year old should never watch it!

     My dream or to be more specific- night terror for that's truly what they are-even still- was about deep water- the sort of fear that grips you in your sleep and leaves you totally incapacitated- unable to wake up- unable to move forward in the dream- unable to save your child from drowning in the dream. Yeah I have those sorts of dreams- I wake up with a pounding heart and that terrible feeling that can not be shaken off all day. I am now dreaming that my child is getting taken by the Orcas down into the deep water.

       I know it is entirely ludicrous to be worried about being eaten by an Orca whale- scientifically it has been proven that Orcas- or Killer Whales- just do not eat humans. There is not even really any statistics of people being eaten by Orcas in the wild- just thanks to Hollywood it is a possibility in my mind. No my fear of deep water is more a fear of the unknown- I need to see what is under me before I am comfortable.

        Of course since I am an educated woman I understand my dreams have deeper meaning than what is found on the surface- of course I know that currently these dreams are related to my anxiety surrounding my son at school- watching him grow and fall and not being able to do a thing about it. I want to protect him from the world but I can't- but I can teach him to swim- both literally and figuratively. So two things I think are to come from this difficult month we are having- first of all I need to better equip my boy with the tools he needs at least then I will rest easy knowing he is prepared for the playground. Second of all I am going to learn how to surf and once I know he will learn- I want my children to be fearless.

PS- I'm really not sure what to do about the dinosaurs- especially since Hollywood is in production on yet another Jurassic Park- oh joy!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Guest Post From The Farm

My friends are constantly doing interesting things- it's occasionally hard not to get jealous - in the very best possible of ways- of course! So when I saw all these lovely images of farming and gardening popping up on my friend Sarah Farrer Bukrey's photo stream of course I immediately was interested in what she was up to. She was kind enough to share some of her beautiful images as well as her own words on her time at the farm.

I started working at a local organic farm this June for many reasons. I thought it would be good exercise ( forced). I am a busy working Mom of two- and fitting in exercise is hard (Can I get a hell yeah?). I wanted yummy organic produce but I was too cheap to buy it, so working for it sounded like a great idea (and my garden always seems to die in mid July). Finally- I wanted something new that was not home, and not work. Something to look forward to - Something that was mine.

The first day at the farm I left tired and happy, and then could barely walk for three days afterward.  I have planted seeds, thinned seedlings and  planted seedlings. I have harvested asparagus in the morning, and then later seen asparagus ferns grow tall, dense and shine with morning dew. They look like fairy lands. I have weeded  plants crawling along the ground because the row is probably 2 miles long and I cannot crouch or bend another moment. I have cowered in a greenhouse during a severe thunderstorm- I had a job during that too, I don’t get paid to stand around.  :) I once washed plastic totes for two hours and left the farm with what later became the most enormous bruise I have ever seen ( beware the buckles on rubber boots). I have worked on box packing day where we form a vegetable packing assembly line. sometimes there are 10 people and sometimes there are four. Lately I have been harvesting. Picking beans- but never just green, wide white beans with purple streaks and long purple ones. I picked a rainbow of cherry tomatoes, pink, yellow, red in round, oval and pear shapes.



I have met people. There is Farmer Andy and  his assistant Jason, always cracking jokes and teaching us how to do new things (and showing me how much faster they can do everything). There are worker shares that are students, teachers off work for the summer, and others who like me were looking for something that the farm offers. Something more than fresh healthy food.

We found it.