Friday, November 29, 2013

Simple Family Friday

          To me nothing says winter like strapping on a pair of skates - I am instantly transported back to being a child as soon as my skates hit the fresh ice. When I'm skating there is nothing that can bother me- it's just me- with the cold wind on my cheeks- going around in circles- occasionally trying out some fancy moves- totally blissed out- it's a Zen state of mind.

        When we were kids our neighbourhood had a rink at the top of our street- at the Peachland Riding Club- conditions had to be just right for the rink to open as it was outdoors. We would hurry home from the bus, grab our skates and run up the street to skate until dinner- the ice rink was like the unofficial club house for the neighbourhood kids in winter- hot chocolate that instantly burned your tongue could be had for fifty cents- red licorice for a nickel.

          It was on the ice that my sister and learned what our Mom must have been like as a girl- she was in our eyes a figure skater- she did a fancy cross over with her feet when cornering and could skate back wards. To us she was the best skater ever in her puffy kelly green winter coat- glasses slightly figged up- Beret just askew a tad- Kleenex tucked up her sleeve if we needed one.

          I don't remember ever being hurried off the ice ever- often we could extend our skating time way past dinner time- walking home in the dark through patches of street light. Coming inside with our hands and feet so cold they hurt- our cheeks burning as we pealed off the layers and hung them to dry by the wood stove. We liked to pick off the chunks of snow from our wool mitts and put them on the stove to sizzle- watching the snow melt and then the puddles evaporate.

       As an adult living on the coast I have often sought out the closest ice rink over the years- it wasn't until last year though that skating started to make a regular occurrence in our lives. The Littles discovered how much fun it is to power yourself over the smooth ice- around and round in circles to the tune of rink music. As a family this is one of the most affordable outings we can participate in- our local rink is free if you have your own skates.

      So my simple family Friday suggestion for this week is to spend some time on the ice this coming week- skate rentals are so inexpensive- grab a helmet if you haven't skated in a while. Forget about making a fool of yourself and just skate- it is ever so magical! Friends as mentioned it's Friday - I hope your heart is warm and your cheeks are frosty- head outside and have some fun! Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Crafternoon: Gnomes

               There really is nothing like a trip to our favourite little art store- Collage Collage- to get the creative juices flowing! Ten dollars will get you a bag of small craft supplies that afford hours of engagement and fun- which is especially important when it is too dark to go to the park after school! Yesterday was such a day- Miss Lo and I picked out a few projects to work on- first up all was these cute little peg dolls.

               These wee little wooden folks were given a bit of a make over and turned into winter gnomes- to be hung by their hats by golden ribbons. Super simple to make with just a bit of paint and a swath of wool felt. To start select a colour to paint the body- we used Martha Stewart's satin colours- the Littles gave each figure two coats of paint- nice and smoothly.

               Then it was time to make these wee little wooden folks some clothes- so with Momma wielding the sewing scissors the Littles art directed and instructed me in their colour choices- simple lengths of wool felt wrapped around the base of each gnome became their robes and a circle of felt was turned and glued into a hat through which the ribbon for hanging was threaded. Everything was glued in place with white glue and left to dry- an adult or older child could also use a hot glue gun*.

               It's been decided that we need to make more of these enchanting little gnomes- so simple and so lovely- they will be the perfect addition to our tree if the Little ever decide to part with them! What I especially love about this entire project is that aside- from the cost of under four dollars- was working with the materials- I love making miniatures and working with wood and wool felt is so tactile and just honest- perfect for our humble tree!

* I did use the hot glue gun to tack on the hats as they will be hanging from a tree- if you skip the step with the ribbon and just make gnomes for playing this is hardly needed and white glue will do just fine!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Late November

          Here we find ourselves smack in the middle of late November- I really don't know how we got here- I blinked and September and October is long gone. Late November in Vancouver often means rain- lots of rain- but this year has been an exceptional November- very dry- often with blue skies. But it is cold- the dry cold that these bones have forgotten about and I go about perpetually wrapped in layers of wool clothing warding off a chill.

       My Littles are also not very well equiped to deal with this cold, dry weather- their poor little faces chapped- lips starting to crack and peel. Their winter coats weigh heavily on their little bodies as we pile on the Momma made wollens- hats, scarves, mitts. When I pick The Boy up from school it can be guaranteed his coat will be hanging askew- mitts and hat in his back pack- scarf trailing behind him along the ground. My children seem to be impervious to cold.

           The Winter Solstice is less that a month away- soon longer days will be returning- with it the sun will start to warm us again. Although I may be cold I am so aware that this time- late November time- is a time for resting- nesting and enjoying indoor pursuits- a quiet time for Holiday preparations and reflection. Soon our decorations will be coming out to brighten up the apartment and the quiet giggles of Holiday secrets will start to be heard from my little elves. There really is something ever so special about this time- late November time.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

DIY Candles in Jars

          This is one of my all time favourite gifts to make and give- or keep- I am a big lover of candles and their light in the middle of this dark season brings such comfort and joy- making this a natural DIY gift for friends and other loved ones. The supplies needed are relatively easy to gather- a quick trip to the craft store will yield both natural beeswax and cotton candle wick- be sure to make sure it is lead free.

Supplies Needed:

interesting glass vessels like vintage jars
bees wax- either block or pellet form- about 1/2 pound
cotton wick
essential oils of your choice
a pencil
a clean, empty can

What To Do:

- place bees wax in the clean, empty metal can- if you have a block of bees wax you may have to smash it up to fit in the can. Place the can containing the bees wax in a small sauce pan of water on the stove- using medium heat bring the water to a boil- melting the wax in the can- never leave this project unattended!

- cut a length of cotton wicking to length- measure against the side of your glass jar and add a couple of inches- dip the cut piece of wick into the melted wax coating the entire thing- pull out wick and make a slight bend in the top- hang wick over a pencil that is balanced across the jar- allowing the end of the wick to dangle into the jar

-once the wax is fully melted add in any essential oils you love- I added lavender as it's my favourite- a couple of drops goes a very long way- carefully- using hot mitts pour the hot wax mixture into the jar- being careful to avoid moving the wick

- carefully place the new candle in a bath of hot water - this prevents the candle from cracking or dipping in the middle- the wax and surrounding water cool at a slower rate allowing for a perfect candle!

- trim wick to about half and inch

- add snazzy, hand made label

- add a cute package of vintage matches and there you have a great gift- perfect for a girlfriend, hostess or Mother In Law!

Monday, November 25, 2013

California Dreaming- er Sewing

      OK so first off the awesome big news that our family will be spending the holidays in California- we are very excited and yes we will be going to Disney Land but if you see us in person please do not mention it as our Littles think we are just going to visit our friends- which we will be doing as well! What I'm saying is Disney is a surprise! So very exciting but when I started to take a look at the kid's warm weather clothes- that fit just a couple of short months ago- they now do not fit at all!

      A bit of emergency sewing is in order for all of us- Miss Lo was up first- only because I happened to have something mid way finished- these cute little capri pants fit the bill- sewn out of some reclaimed chambray they will be perfect for "winter" weather in California. Next up is the sweet little Ofelia dress from Figgy's patters- this is such an easy and satisfying dress to sew up- and I happen to have a couple of yards of this double weight gauze from Etsuko Furuya- love the fox!

     It's been quite awhile since I sewed any Momma made goods for this Littles of mine- so time spent in between wrapping up custom orders will be found to make a few fresh, new things for our big trip. I'm diving into my fabric stash and trying to use up what I have on hand- it's no secret what a fabric hoarder I am! And maybe- just maybe- if I'm lucky this Momma will even get something made for herself- Christmas miracle really do happen!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Simple Family Friday

          It really is starting to be the most wonderful time of the year- my favourite time in fact- between St. Nicholas Day, Winter Solstice, Christmas and New Years there is no shortage of light and celebration in the midst of our darkest days. Of course like with everything I do we like to keep our Holiday season simple- easy homemade fun- sprinkled with lots of glitter!

         It's so important to develop traditions that are important and special to your own specific family- events and outings that hold special meaning and will make unique memories for the entire family. With the advent of Social Media, blogs and Pinterest it is so easy to get overwhelmed by the onslaught of cute projects or "must do" Holiday events that this time of year can easily start to feel like a marathon. It's also very easy to start to feel like you are "less" than "perfect"- I find there is just so inspiration that its easy to feel like your not measuring up.

     So my point is this- first off what is the "perfect" Holiday? I say the perfect Holiday is whatever makes you happy- be it a fully packed month of events or hitting the beach for a nature walk in the stillness. It could be a four course dinner or pizza. While our kids are small these memories we are making are not for their benefit- they are for ourselves- looking back on my own childhood Christmas' I don't remember much- other than lots of snow and love.

     My simple family Friday suggestion is this- make unique traditions that are for you and your family- stop worrying about what everyone else is doing- it's not a race- no parenting prizes will be given out. So Friends keep it simple and thrive this Holiday season instead of just surviving- this is a time for celebration and letting the light in not running yourself and your family ragged.

     Friends it is Friday again- I am happy to say we have big plans for just tucking in and being with family- I'm super excited to meet our new cousin- Lovely Cousin Laura and her husband welcomed their first child into the world this week- I can't wait to soak up some of that new baby goodness! Happy Friday Friends!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thrifted Thursday

      By now I am sure that all readers know about my obsession with collecting- AKA vintage shopping! Vintage doesn't just stop with clothes for me or cool house wares- my vintage obsession has naturally transitioned down to my Littles. Both kids but especially Miss Lo love "old" things- they both have an eye for seeing vintage items in heaps of second hand things at the charity shops.

     It was during a bit of Mummy- Daughter time just last week that Miss Lo spotted this adorable little wool pea coat hanging on the bottom rack of one of our favourite vintage haunts- Community Thrift and Vintage on Cordova St. Community has two locations that are equally fabulous- the unisex shop is on Cordova and the ladies Frock Shop is over on Carrall St- both shops have a well curated selection of children's clothes- in addition to fantastic treasures for ladies & gents. This really is my go- to spot when I am in the mood for something fresh for my closet.

       It never ceases to amaze me the quality- the work and detail that went into vintage clothing- not to mention how much more interesting vintage clothing is! This wee jacket features leather & cotton loops & beautiful toggles- the hood is super generous - providing loads of space for an extra hat or scarf. I'm loving that my Littles are starting to get more excited about the thrill of the hunt at vintage and thrift stores than they are about popular merchandised t-shirts. Watching them develop their eye is fascinating to witness- and fairly risk free as children's vintage clothing is very affordable still. Saving the environment and looking stylish- sometimes I really do feel like a super hero!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Family Favourite: Banana Muffins

        Last night I had a request from my oldest- The Boy wanted muffins for breakfast- on a school day. OK fine- how can I resist that face- he will surely be a charmer when he gets older- so I said yes to homemade muffins on a school day. I have to admit once the idea of a muffin with my coffee got stuck in my head I found it irresistible to resist- so that brings us to this morning-it's cold- it's early and I have a full day ahead of me- yet sitting in my kitchen- warmed by the oven- listening to my coffee gurgle- my to do list seems miles away. There is nothing for me to do right this moment than sit here and smell the delicious aroma wafting out of the oven and listen to the city wake up. Muffins on a school day was an excellent idea!

Super Yummy, Very Easy, Not at all Healthy
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter softened
6 tablespoons ground flax
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups of flour
a dash of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3-4 mashed bananas
3/4 cups chocolate chips

- in a mixer blend together butter, sugar, ground flax, vanilla and eggs- mix until creamed
- combine the dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture- blend
- add in mashed bananas
- add in chocolate chips
- mix well

- when everything is fully incorporated into the mixture divide it out into muffin tins- if using a metal muffin tin you must grease it first- fill each cup about 3/4 full.

- bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Rest for about 10 minutes- enjoy!

PS ok I lied again- with the addition of a few tablespoons of flax these muffins are a tiny bit healthy- but mostly not at all healthy- just the way 5 year olds like them!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

DIY Gifts for The Green Guru

Knitted Wide Mouth Mason Jar Sleeve

       Now I know by now everyone is like so over the mason jar trend- but I love it and I still drink my hot beverages to go out of one- so does my Mr! Conventional travel mugs are a bit dodgy- the paint on the last two we had actually peeled right off- not to mention the fact that we are trying not to buy more disposable items- which travel mugs still kinda are. So we started using a humble Mason jar- with the addition of a Cuppow it really is the perfect drinking vessel. The only issue lie in the extreme heat that is conducted through the glass onto the fingers- it was with this in mind that I knit up this handy little jar sleeve.

     This is the perfect beginner project for a novice knitter wanting to learn to knit in the round in addition to being the perfect yarn stash buster- use up all those scraps and half skeins that are hanging about. I really have no idea what the wool is that I used- something bought years ago from my favourite yarn store on Granville Island- it's very nubby and feels hand spun.

one set of four double pointed
needles- size US 6(4mm)

stitch marker

Sleeve: Cast On 36 stitches. Join together for working in the round- being careful not to twist stitches- place marker at the beginning of the round

Knit 1, purl 1 to make edged ribbing- k1,p1 for 3 rounds

Change to stocking stitch and work evenly until the piece measures about 3 inches from the beginning (stitch marker)

Knit 1, purl 1 to make another ribbed edge-k1,p1 for 3 rounds 

Bind off loosely and weave in tails- remove stitch marker

      Each sleeve takes about an hour to complete making this a perfect, easy little gift for any enviro savvy coffee drinker on your Holiday list. To make an extra special gift fill the Mason jar with a favourite tea, small packet of coffee or cookies- top with a Cuppow and add some ribbon- instant gift! Happy knitting Knit Wit!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tales From The Weekend

        It's funny how most people consider Summer time the season for slowing down and taking things easy- myself I consider Winter- or late Fall as we are in now- the perfect time for snuggling in and being a lazy bones. The temperature is dipping and the clouds have rolled in to stay- personally I have very little excuse to be outside right now! That said we did bundle up and head over to the Winter Farmer's Market at Nat Bailey Stadium this past weekend- this is by far our favourite market- all of our favourite vendors in one place consistently- so convenient for the weekly grocery shop!

         The market was packed this week so it seems we are not the only locals who share in this point of view- so much goodness is still coming in from the fields! Not to mention the cheeses, butter, bread, beef jerky, sausages, eggs, dried goods, herbs- all these wonderful pantry staples are up for purchase year round. I'm sure I have mentioned before how much I prefer shopping the Farmer's Market to the grocery store- the community spirit is practically palatable on days like this- the buskers adding to the mood with their tunes- throw in a bunch of dogs and kids- its a recipe for warm fuzzy feelings!

          As mentioned things are getting chilly round these parts- even though both the Mr. and I grew up in much colder climes we have both become accustomed to winter on the West Coast- or Wet Coast as is often the case. The slightest dip in temperature sends us shivering for hats, mitts and hot chocolate- so post- market a quick stop at our favourite neighbourhood cafe- Le Marche was in order. Stepping into Le Marche is akin to stepping into a still life painting- everything is so beautifully curated- from the silver and china they use to serve on- to the groceries displayed on the shelves. This truly is one of my happy places!

           To my mind Fall is about tucking in and re-connecting with the people you love- with the neighbourhoods you love, with the food you love. Put to bed are our carefree, adventure days of summer- replaced with a time of rest. Winter Solstice is approaching- that magical time of year when the days are so short- such an ancient event that modern humans have yet to control or change. The days are short and the nights are long- time to rest and recharge one's batteries in anticipation of the return of the sun!

Friday, November 15, 2013

DIY Gifts For Girls: Pinwheel Barrettes

        There is no body else I love crafting for than girls- little girls or my grown up girl friends- girls just get it- they love the sentiment behind a good handmade gift. So it's only natural that the next gift on my DIY gift extravaganza be for the little girls in my life! These cute little felt hair clips are a great way to use up scrap fabric in your stash and come together quick as a wink.

The Goods:

scrap fabric
fusible interfacing
hair clips
hot glue
needle and thread

The Dealio:

Step 1- with the hot glue cover the hair clip with a small piece of ribbon- just on the top side

Step 2- cut felt,fabric and fusible interfacing to the same size of 3" x 3" square- fuse the three items together with a hot iron to form one still piece of fabric- patterned on one side and felt on the other.

Step 3- starting at the corners cut towards the centre of the square but not quite the entire way across

 Step 4- taking one corner of the square- fold in towards centre- fold in all four corners and secure in the middle with a stitch- sew on button to cover the sewn centre- tie off thread on the back of the pinwheel

Step - again using the hot glue gun secure the fabric pinwheel to the front ribbon covered side of the barrette.

         Friends it is Friday again! This weekend I am so looking forward to my final craft market of the year- Maternal Creations - I think this will be the perfect place to start a little shopping of my own for Christmas! Happy Friday Friends!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thrifted Thursday

         This weeks Thrifted Thursday score is super exciting to me- I am a lover of mail- weird perhaps- but I love getting mail and feel there is a bit of romance surrounding actual letters. Remember mail- handwritten letters and cards that arrive in your mail box- put there by a real live person? Yeah mail. So when I was at the Urban Market a few weeks ago and spotted a vintage Canadian mail bag I jumped on it- when thrifting there is no time to think- if you spot a gem you must snap it up- there is no walking away and thinking about it- the very thought of that fills me with anxiety!

       The canvas on the bag is perfectly worn- aged to the perfect patina- all the while remaining sturdy and strong- no visible rends. I could only image the love letters it carried, the bad news contained with in, the birthday cards and bills- always the bills! Which made this the obvious candidate for a make over from mail sack to tote bag!

       I had two sets of leather handles from Merchant & Mills London on hand and it took awhile for me to decide on placement- in the end I went with a single cross body strap as I felt this would be the most used option. With eight simple rivets and a hammer this little project was done in no time flat!

         This "new" tote does not disappoint- it is the perfect solution to my yoga mat, umbrella, lunch kit conundrum! Moms always end up carrying everyone's stuff home after school- into the bag it goes! I love that it is deep enough to accommodate my yoga mat and I can keep my hands deep in warm pockets on my way to class! 

          When heading out on a thrifting or vintage expedition you never know what you are going to stumble across- this serendipity is what I so love about thrifting- the thrill of the hunt! I would never have thought I would come across such a find- now I have a unique tote bag. Going out with an open mind and being flexible in your finds leads to a uniquely curated collection- in a world of sameness your unique style can stand out!

PS- thank you friend Erin for snapping these pics of me post yoga last week!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November Studio Update

        I am so pleased to be a part of the upcoming Maternal Creations Craft Fair- coinciding with the East Side Culture Crawl- taking place this Saturday at the Canuck Family Education Centre of William Street- just off The Drive. Vancouver is home to so many creative Momma's- there is sure to be a little treasure for everyone to be found at this weekend's event.

        I have been busy in the studio this week- lots of fun Holiday goodies are coming together- organically coming around to where my cards started- this new batch is a lot more "collagey" than what they have been- loads of vintage ephemera seeping into these Holiday missives- velvet, stamps, pages of books, tags- all combined with my signature prints. New life to old postage to be sent around the world again!

        This is Plain Jane's last craft market of the season- but never worry both the Etsy shop and Facebook page are positively full up with new stock! Lots of little zipper bags which make for perfect stocking stuffers or hostess gifts in addition to lots of mini Moleskin notebooks.

       I'm not sure if it is the prospect of spending time with other local creative Momma's or just the time of year but I feel this is my best batch of cards yet. If you are local and hoping to start your Holiday shopping please come out and say hello- lots of unique goodies to chose from!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tales From The Weekend

     This weekend was all about recuperating- we have had a really rough couple of weeks with nasty colds and flus making their rounds. I have heard this is very common when a child enters school- I had no idea what we were in for- we have all been sick for an entire month. After being tucked into the couch and our beds for the past few days we all felt in need of a bit of fresh air so Sunday we headed out to a place we always feel peaceful in- Deep Cove.

        A couple of us felt well enough to indulge in our favourite Deep Cove treat- donuts from Honey's- light and fluffy buttermilk donuts- simple toppings and a large coffee (for Daddy) make everything better! As does running through leaves, exploring the beach and hunting for crabs and of course a visit to the playground. This is the peace and quiet we have all been craving.

     Fall has been so good in so many ways this year- the weather has been epic and to say we enjoyed it is an understatement- the rain has arrived though and I am starting to feel darker days creeping in. A visit to the Cove lightens our spirits and keeps that darkness at bay. Now is the time to be gentle with ourselves- visit well loved places, indulge in treats that fill our souls and tummies and most importantly of all bundle up and get outside!

      I have to apologize for being absent the past few days- as mentioned we were all not feeling well- I was needed else where in addition I've been feeling really pulled in too many directions and what I really needed was to just unplug and step away for a few days. A day spent snuggled up with my girlie on the couch was heaven- an afternoon spent out running in the fresh air was equally good. A little break was just what I needed! Hope your weekend was super Friends!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

DIY Gifts for Gardeners: Garden Markers

     The Holidays are coming and if like me you have big plans to make your gifts yourself then now is the time to get crafting. The wonderful thing about home made gifts is they can be as personal as you want- for example with this easy little gift I had my mom in mind- she is a gardener and so what a perfect stocking stuffer these garden makers would be! Very easy for the novice crafter- perfect for making with the Littles- these are sure to make any gardener smile in the middle of the winter!

Garden Markers

The Goods:

acrylic paint- I chose Martha Stewart Colours in a Satin finish
paint brush
large size popsicle sticks
letter stamps and a stamp pad
coloured Sharpie of your choice
an outdoor sealant or varnish- I used
Jo Sonja Polyurethane varnish

The Deal:

- to start paint your popsicle sticks with two or three coats of the Satin paints- don't be shy- really make sure the paint is thick

- while the paint is still slightly tacky* start stamping in your words- I chose to put different herbs on my garden markers- because the paint is still tacky the stamps will emboss into the paint giving the project a bit of dimension

- allow the stamped letters to dry for an hour or so before coating them with a weather proof sealant- you can either dip the entire garden marker into the sealant and hang to dry or you can paint it on one side at a time- allow the sealant to cure- this could take up to 24 hours.

        Pair your garden markers with some GMO free seeds like these from the Strathcona 1890 Urban Seed Collection and some wee starter pots for the perfect gift for the frustrated winter gardener! Every garden needs a pop of colour- even in areas with flowers like the herb garden these little multi coloured markers will pop out of the foliage!

* if you are hand printing your words on with a Sharpie please make sure the paint is thoughrally dry before proceeding with the rest of the steps.