Thursday, October 31, 2013

Craft Camp: Halloween Fun

         Happy Halloween everyone! Today is the day where all our little Ghouls and Boys will be getting dressed up to do the Trick or Treating rounds- our Littles are all ready awake they are so excited! I like to balance out a high sugar- high energy day like today with a little bit of quiet time- some holiday art making to go along with a healthy after school snack- before more sugar and craziness ensues!

        This is a super simple Halloween project- striped pumpkins- a little fine motor skills work out with all the paper cutting is the perfect thing a busy five year old needs to get him to sit still and chill out for a few minutes. If your Little is still a true little and is not yet at the scissor stage then feel free to cut out the stripy bits. For this project use some fun, fancy paper- Micheal's (craft store) has three pieces of scrapbooking paper for $1.00 right now- so I selected some appropriate Halloween colours- but you can also use whatever you have on hand.

  Step 1- cut out decorative paper into long stripes- vary the widths and angles- this doesn't need to be accurate- especially if the kids are doing the cutting.

Step 2- using a basic glue stick glue stripes down to a sturdy piece of card stock- this piece needs to be a more robust piece of paper- I would suggest a piece of bristol board or heavy card stock.

Step 3- once the entire back piece of paper is covered in decorative paper stripes allow the glue to dry- go back and touch up any spots where the glue might have been missed.

Step 4- once the glue is dry- flip the entire project over and sketch out a pumpkin- use a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter as a template if you need to for a bunch of mini pumpkins or sketch out one large pumpkin that uses up the entire paper. We chose to make a batch of mini pumpkins to use on Halloween cards- we fit nine mini pumpkins on a 12 x 12 sheet of paper. 

       These cute mini striped pumpkins can be affixed to a blank card or used as decorations on a door- we are going to hand out glow sticks and I'm going to tape them to the back of our mini pumpkins- really there are countless ways this cute craft can be used! I love the graphic nature of the stripes- they almost feel a bit quilted.

      Our pumpkins are carved, costumes are complete and everyone is geared up to get their Trick Or Treat on- I hope you all have a super fun and super safe day! Happy Halloween!

PS- if you need me I will be the one in a sugar coma after eating all the kid's candy!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Birds of A Feather- Set Up Shop Together

      I know I'm always going on and on about how many talented folks I am blessed to know- this is only because it is completely true! Working in the arts community it is just natural to become close with many of the artists working along side you- ditto for the craft market community- I have met and become friends with some incredibly talented artisans. Recently a few of us put our heads together 
(OK really it was all Margot's idea) and decided to host a one day open house trunk show- three amazing businesses under one roof for one day- sounds exciting doesn't it!

     This coming Saturday for one day only- as I mentioned- Crystal Connections, Catch My Drift Words and Plain Jane Designs are coming together with some of our most fabulous items. This is an invite only event but if you are local and want to do some shopping- snagging an invite and all the details couldn't be easier- simply click on any of our business links to our Facebook pages and then drop us a private message! There are going to be some real goodies for sale on Saturday- I thought I would give you a sneak peek and an introduction of each of these talented ladies!

     Margot is a Registered Massage Therapist who also happens to be the creative force behind Crystal Connections. Coming from a healing background she is always interested in various methods of healing. She began researching and using the healing stones in her own life and saw the shift in her own emotions and energy. It was then that she knew she had to share her passion and knowledge for healing stones with the world.

      Margot designs one of a kind jewelry , crystal chakra sets and cat collars with all with healing stones. Margot is amazing at reading people's energy and intuitively knowing just what stone an individual needs in their life. Lots of yummy Crystal Creations will be available this Saturday- ROCK YOUR LIFE!

   Leona from Catch My Drift Words took her enjoyment of beach combing to the next level with the creation of her business- in her own words:

"I took a beautiful piece of driftwood when at the beach with my two girls- without knowing exactly what I wanted to do with it. I knew I wanted to do something with it. About a week or two later, my mom made me go to a yoga class with her to do something for myself and to just relax (working mom of two... doesn't happen often!)

 While I was supposed to be meditating and have a clear mind the word "calm" kept repeating in my thoughts. Then I though of my lovely piece of drift wood and thought that the word calm would be perfect painted on there... thus making it a Drift Word!"

  All wood has been collected by Leona and her girls on the Sunshine Coast. She used a line of locally made chalk paint- Fat Paint- for all the text and varnishes each piece to keep the words integrity. Each Drift Word is finished with a hanger on the back making this instant art for any space.

"I have always loved creating things and the outdoors... this combines the two perfectly. I love the time collecting and painting the Drift Words, that help me forget about the everyday craziness of life"

     Of course if you are a regular reader here you will have by now become immune to my almost weekly studio updates- this week has been no different- lots of busy making in the studio- AKA the kitchen table! I thought though that I would take a minute to speak about what Plain Jane is and how it has evolved over the years. I am for all intensive purposes a "painter" I love to paint but when I had babies I was really concerned about the use of solvents and pigments around their little bodies- so I stopped and turned to collage- which was fun and creative and filled all my needs as well as being much more gentle on those little growing brains.

     Plain Jane Designs started as a means of sending those collages out into the world- I love the concept of mail art and thought that a greeting card company would be a little like a giant mail art project! This is how my home business began- I collaged and then started incorporating screen printing while my babies napped- I sold my cards casually to my friends and family- then started an Etsy shop- the rest is kind of history!

    Over the years my process has changed and new products have been added- I'm always growing and looking for new ideas to incorporate into Plain Jane. This year things have really started to take off- I am incredibly proud of what I am creating- not only with my cards which are the back bone of what I do- but with my totes, pillows, tea towels and just the general feeling of what Plain Jane is!

 Plain Jane speaks to a slower life filled with lovely, high quality items that you will have for a long time- even the cards can linger for months or years! Every item is made with love and joy in my home studio- which by now you all know is the kitchen table! Plain Jane has allowed me to do what I love and remain at home with my Littles- which I feel is the greatest part of this whole deal!

    I really hope to see some of you lovely readers out this Saturday- we all know the Holiday's are approaching- we mock Costco for having Christmas trees in July but now really is the time to start thinking and shopping. Get everything wrapped up before the start of December so you can sit back and enjoy all those parties or just quietly snuggle in by the fire place. Saturday's open house is an excellent opportunity to get out and do a bit of shopping in a calm environment all the while supporting three local businesses!

P.S. we will be accepting cash, Visa & Mastercard

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Small Piece Of Knitting For A Small Lady

       I remember just after Miss Lo was born- the three of us were at a park playing The Boy was still really small as well- they are only 18 months apart after all. I saw this other Mum playing with her daughter- she was obviously on the other side of babies- this Mum had kids. I started chatting with her and during our conversation it came up that I regretted not having any one on one time with Miss Lo- the way I did with The Boy when he was born. The reason why this conversation has stayed with me all these years is this Mum reassuring me that my day to have one on one bonding time with my daughter would come- he oldest had just gone to kindergarten and now she was having that time with her daughter. I remember watching them- blond and laughing in the late October sunlight- the ease with which the operated in the world- the connection that was palatable.

      You never know the impact your kind words might have on strangers- that day in the park that Mum gave me something else to look forward to- and that day is here- Miss Lo and I are having our days in the sun. These days although sunny are turning a bit brisk and so I finished off this sweet little cowl that I started fireside earlier in the summer- on Pender Island. I knew it would be for her as I was casting on- my sweet girl- a piece of sunshine around her neck- close to her heart.

       This cowl doesn't really have a pattern- or it it does I don't know about it- so basic and easy- mindless knitting in the round really. I cast on 108 stitches to a size 6- 16" circular needle- join for working in the round, being careful not to twist stitches, place marker and to mark beginning of the round. Ribbing- knit 2, purl 2 rib for 6 rounds. Continue knitting in stockinette stitch until cowl measures about 8 inches from cast on edge. Ribbing- knit 2, purl 2 for 6 rounds- bind off loosely in rib-weave in all ends (which I have yet to do in these pictures!)

        This cowl is the perfect fall piece for an active kiddo like Miss Lo- she needs something soft and warm around her neck yet I am terrified of scarves on the playground getting caught or pulled- the cowl solves that problem. In the winter it will fit nicely under her winter coat keeping out the clever winter winds coming down off the mountains. The wool is perfect for my little forest fairy- a light fingerling weight baby alpaca- naturally died with onion skins- purchased from Maiwa.

          I know our days in the sun are numbered- November is drawing near and with it the looming Kindergarten registration date- why does time need to move so fast? These last few weeks have been brilliant- the sun and fog- our city has become a magical place even if only for a short time- this weather can't possibly hold- but as long as the sun is shining you will find Miss Lo and I outside- soaking it all in!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tales From The Weekend

        Last weekend feels like it was a bit of a blur- it went by so fast if I had blinked I would have missed it. The big event of course was the long anticipated Urban Market out at Highstreet in Abbotsford which was put on by the ladies from Spruce Collective. Set up in the middle of a brand new modern mall the Urban Market was anything but your typical cookie cutter mall fodder. Looking around you in fact would be hard pressed to even know you were in a mall- the market was so packed with vintage goods and some amazing set ups it was more antique market than anything!

        On a bit of a whim I took a batch of my Holiday 2013 cards and they sold out! And I am so happy I grabbed them at the last minute as it seems folks have Christmas on the mind early this year- with plenty of unique items to chose from shoppers were stocking up early on one of a kind gifts. I love that somewhere someplace people will be opening up carefully considered treasures on Christmas Day- a handmade-vintage Christmas is the best kind of Christmas!

         Even now two days later it is difficult to gather all my thoughts about the market- it was pretty overwhelming- so many great vendors- both craft and vintage- being surrounded by so many talented people was like a weeks worth of inspiration rolled into a day- I'm still marinating! The market started off with a celebratory anniversary party for Spruce Collective- 150 tickets were sold for a sneak peek evening which of course was full of fantastic food and beverages. I got to meet a few of my design heroes and was a total fangirl.

        Saturday morning all remnants of the party were gone- save for the twinkle lights- and it was down to coffee and business. The Urban Market was definitely one of the more well attended events that I have been a part of - the crowds were thick and business was brisk- lots of people were attracted by the vintage element- myself included- of course I could not leave empty handed! I'm such a vintage hoarder that a few goodies came home with me- a mini wreath for the dollhouse, some teeny tiny Christmas trees, an beautiful over sized rosary, enamel wash basin and my big score of the weekend- a vintage postal bag- which will be revealed in a makeover soon!

          This morning I am sitting here sipping my first latte of the day and thinking about the weekend- planning where to take my next event- which incidentally is next weekend! Plain Jane is a part of an exciting open house in North Vancouver- please comment me via my Plain Jane Facebook page if you are interested in more details. The open house in in conjunction with Crystal Connections and Catch My Drift- lots of one of a kind gift items- avoid the crowds at the mall- come on out to visit and do some shopping! Cash, Visa and Mastercard will be accepted.  Last weekend was a great reminder that the Holidays are quickly approaching- folks are starting to shop and I need to be prepared!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Simple Family Friday

         It's Friday! And it's a Professional Development day here in our school catchment- which means both Littles are home with me this morning- so fun but it also means I am running behind this morning. When I know I am going to need to have an extra boost of energy or I'm feeling under the weather- yes still- fingers crossed I don't completely lose my voice until after tomorrow evening- I turn to one of favourite beverages- Kombucha.

       You might be wondering what is Kombucha? Kombucha is a pro biotic, naturally effervescent beverage made from black tea- it is made by fermenting the tea using a symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria- also known as a Scoby. Kombucha is a living, enzyme-rich beverage- packed full of pro biotics, amino acids and vitamins making this an excellent beverage for boosting your immune system. It also aids in digestion and is just generally all around good stuff.

       Although Kombucha is an ancient beverage- thought to first have originated in China and brought to the counter culture of America in the 1970's- Kombucha has become extremely popular over the past few years with the advent of many packaged and store bought options becoming available. While the convenience is nice the cost is not- therefor I thought I would share just how easy it is to ferment your own Kombucha at home.

      You will need to get yourself a Scoby- I got mine from a friend- the Scoby can be easily split and shared. I have also heard rumours that you can buy a plain jar of Kombucha and start a Scoby from that- I haven't tried this myself but another friend of mine swears by it- as long as it is plain and unflavoured. Once you have your Scoby you need to add it to the black tea- the tea must be cooled to the touch- the heat will kill the Scoby. Black tea seems to work best green tea works as well. Add in a few table spoons of sugar as well- the Scoby feeds off the sugar and causes the fermentation. Cover jar with a piece of fabric and an elastic as the fermenting will draw fruit flies!

     Leave your brewing Kombucha for 3-7 days - give it a taste every few days till you like what you are tasting- the longer you leave it the more sour it will be. A second fermenting can be done by pouring off the tea- always leave a small bit in the bottom of your jar to keep the Scoby alive- so pour off the tea into another jar and add in flavours- today I am trying a healthful lemon, ginger and cayenne blend to help me kick this cold. Allow the new jar of Kombucha to ferment again for another 3 days. With the second ferment you can add in any flavour you want- fruit juices work well- berries, ginger, lemon, orange- start experimenting and see what you can come up with!

      A few last notes on home brewing Kombucha- always leave a bit of tea at the bottom of your jar with the Scoby to keep it going. Leave the tea brewing out on the counter- do not refrigerate the Scoby. The most important tip is to never use metal when brewing your Kombucha- use a wooden spoon or plastic to separate the Scoby.

      Friends as mentioned it is Friday- this has been a super long, hard week for me- it is never easy when Momma is sick! I am stubborn though so today I am heading out to Abbotsford for the Urban Market at Highstreet- I would not miss this event for anything! If you are looking for something to do tomorrow come on out to the valley and support some local businesses! Happy Friday Friends!

P.S- I have some amazing crunchy friends- a big thank you at Ally from Oolawoola for my Scoby and most of the instructions listed here- thank you to Deadra for all her encouragement and input on starting. And thank you to Karrina in Oregon for her healing health combo that I am trying today!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Studio Update On A Thursday

         These past few weeks have been a flurry of activity around the old studio- A.K.A. kitchen table- yes I have been forcing my family to have many picnics in the living room- scrambled eggs and toast have become a regular occurrence. I am in the final throws of prepping for the Urban Market at Highstreet that is happening this Friday and Saturday! Put on by those clever ladies from Spruce Collective this market is sure to be full of treasure- of course I had to really knock it out of the park with a few new Plain Jane goodies!

         I had such an amazing response to my hand embroidered pillows from the Plain Jane Heritage Collection I have decided to run with it- not only am I loving the new direction my work is taking aesthetically but the actual process has totally inspired me. To make a long story short- I am falling back in love with embroidery- a skill my Mom taught me many years ago that I thought was akin to torture. I'm not sure how many other twelve year olds spent the summer of 1989 sweating over a piece of cotton and a wooden hoop.

      Drawing with thread has become kind of addictive- bringing together my two loves- sewing and drawing- I get to work with lovely products like linen from Belgium and silk threads from France. There is something romantic and old fashioned about this method of working- I feel like I am making something that will last and be a special part of someones life. Of course the images are all drawn from my own history- how could I not create an ode to this amazing Province we live in!

        These days my work really seems to be clicking for me- I am excited to keep working and find it difficult to sit down and "relax"- if an idea is brewing my hands are itching. Working from home is not with out it's challenges- peers do not seem to realise what I do is not a hobby- this is my job- this is what I am doing to make money to buy milk and shoes for my kids- this is how I contribute to the family income. I think there seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding that artists who work from home are not just sitting around- while I do have the luxury of a flexible schedule that I set myself- I am at work by 6:30 am and often do not finish my work day until after 10:00pm. Still I am loving the synchronicity that seems to be happening these days- good things are happening and for that I am extremely grateful!

         The Urban Market at Highstreet is just one of those good things that are happening- I have long admired Spruce Collective and am so excited to be a part of something so fantastic! I love the group of vendors Spruce has lined up- everything from fun playtime accessories for children to beautiful scarves and loads of vintage items. Of course Plain Jane will have lots of cards- possibly Holiday 2013 will even sneak it's way in there- a selection of Heritage Collection pillows, notebooks, zipper totes and these sturdy bucket totes with handles- perfect for storage or transporting!

         I am loving the feeling of freedom and independence that is rising up in the Maker community- folks are no longer content with poor quality goods mass produced over seas- I think the public is starting to raise their consciousness and understand the importance of buying locally. When you buy from an artisan or crafter you are supporting a family- you are buying time for an artist to keep working at their passion. A world with out passion would surely be a very dull place. With the Holidays quickly approaching think about where you are doing your shopping- does it involve a big box store or Etsy? Are you supporting some big Fat Cat corporation or a Stay At Home Parent?

      One final thought- artisans sales, craft shows and art shows are not bargain basements- Makers have worked hard and poured not only their time but a great deal of heart into what they have proudly displayed for you. Please don't expect discounted prices- this is art- this is craftsmanship-in many cases these are very well educated people- please consider this!

       If you are out in the valley this weekend I hope you take a moment and swing by Highstreet for the Urban Market- sure to not disappoint! Friday evening is a sneak peek and tickets can be purchased through Spruce Collective- Saturday is open to all 9am-4pm.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Crafternoon: A Holiday Craft For Non- Crafters

         Around these parts we love a holiday- one of our favourites is Halloween- the perfect combination of celebrating the spooky and fun. It then almost goes with out saying that for every holiday we have a craft- a little coloured paper and a glue stick goes a very long way. I personally like crafts that are simple and easy and that my Littles can participate in as well- so paper crafting is the perfect medium. Yesterday we sat down with a stack of Halloween appropriate papers and got crafting.

         While the Littles were working on their awesome Jack-O- Lanterns for the front door I decided to make a quick and easy Halloween banner to hang along side. This little banner is my craft for the non- crafter- it is just that easy. To start with cut two pieces of 8.5"x 11" pieces of paper in half- we will be using three of these pieces- cut a triangle out of one of the short ends- this will be the bottom of the banner.

          If you have decorative scissors- even pinking shears will do- cut a smaller piece of coloured paper to fit inside the banner piece- about 4"x5" and glue in place- I chose this grey shade to contrast with the black- effectively creating a double matt.

        Trace or draw out the letters-B-O-O- this will be your scary message on the banner- I used stencils but if you are great at lettering try free handing it. Cut out and glue the letters in the centre of each contrasting square on the banner piece.

        Allow the glue to set up and possibly weight down the banner pieces with a book for an hour or so to prevent curling- punch small holes in the top corners of each banner letter and slip onto a piece of string- I used Butcher's Twine but ribbon or jute would also look really cute. Hang to admire!

        I find there is so much available to consumers to purchase around popular Holidays that often it is just too overwhelming- and completely unnecessary. Simple decorations made with humble materials can provide just as big of visual impact as their plastic store bought counter parts. To me Halloween is such a simple childhood event and this little banner is sure to delight!