Friday, January 31, 2014

On Loving My Wrinkles

      Lately I have started ruminating on pretty much every aspect of my appearance- while I am not a vain person I do have my insecurities which always seem to pop up at this time of year- two weeks out from my birthday. I'm quite sure this obsessing about fine lines and for head crevasses has much to do with the conventional idea of beauty placed in our minds by popular media- I know this and yet I stand and stare and frown into the mirror. I'm at that target age the beauty companies love- still young enough to be hanging onto that youth with a death grip yet old enough to start noticing the sun damage.

     Incidentally I love my wrinkles, creases and "blotchy" skin- they are evidence of many fine years spent outside living- underneath my best friend the sun. I don't mind the grey hairs that are starting to crop up more frequently- I don't try to hide them as they are what they are. My smile is crooked and discoloured- yeah lets talk about that- my dentist says I drink too much coffee- apparently only blinding white teeth are considered natural and beautiful. I look at my face and see the culmination of almost 38 years of life well and not so well lived- all the hills and valleys of my experience are etched on my face. When did that become such a bad thing? The celebration of self and life well lived worn with out apology on a bare face.

      I recently read a very well written open letter to the beauty industry- from the author of the blog Revolution From The Home. The letter in it's entirety was beautiful and moving and raised a multitude of excellent points- it can be read here. I love that she straight up calls out the beauty industry saying "the beauty you're selling is bullshit"- I tend to agree. Since when do we need a corporation- who is just trying to make money- keep that in mind- to tell us how we should and should not look?  This is is the best part though and I needed to share it with you all.

" You lie to little girls
You confuse young boys
You perpetuate self-loathing in adolescents.
You manipulate images of already-beautiful
bodies into unachievable, inhuman shapes in
order to present "beauty" as just beyond our

     Yes- yes and yes! Not that I have ever wanted to achieve commercial beauty but the influences still sought me out- in Oprah style make overs by our babysitter, well meaning hairstylists telling me how to correct my skin blemishes, my peers questioning my choice in thrift store fashion. No matter how well one is surrounded by amazing, strong women who walk to the beat of their own drummer there will still be that Great Aunt asking why are you so fat? This needs to change- a conversation has been started and needs to become an anthem for my daughter and her peers.

    While I struggle to age gracefully- learning be me in a body that is now middle aged and not 19- I am more concerned that my knees hurt when hiking that anything else. I seek to be the role model my children need- I struggle as everyone does to quiet the negative voices in my head that make me stare in the mirror and frown. I swear my children will never hear me comment negatively about my body- they will hear me say instead how much I like my strong legs that have walked miles on the earth- they will hear me comment how my hands have become my Mother's hands- the ones I remember from when I was a child. My daughter will not learn from me she is only defined by her appearance and by that same breath my son will know women are more than an object.

"Its genius, really. Deceive us when we're little, make empty promises while we're desperately seeking to define ourselves, then contort our perceptions of what's possible and just like that... you've got customers for life"
                                Revolution From The Home

        Think about how powerful this conversation can be- think about how life changing it can be. I'm not saying leave your make up at home- if that is what makes you feel good- but question why it makes you feel good- who says you have to look a certain way to be beautiful. It's with little steps and big questions that things start to change- yes a beauty revolution perhaps. So start a conversation- just start talking.

     Once again it is Friday dear Friends- I think another hike is in order for us this weekend- some quiet and stillness. I'm wishing you all much love, peace and natural "mature" beauty this weekend! Happy Friday Friends!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Finding The Beauty in January

            It can be hard to believe some days but there is beauty to be found in January- in puddles and small feet stomping- in the fog swirling about- in the stone grey water of an ultra high tide at the shore. Beauty is all around us we just have to stop and look up for a minute or two. I find that after the New Year folks are so full of focus and determination that often this first month of the year goes by in a blur- I know I am guilty of putting my head down and getting on with my "to do" list- neglecting to enjoy the beauty that is going on around me daily.

       Here we find ourselves at the end of January- the first month of 2014 almost put to bed and I realize that there are changes happening all around me- the days are noticeably longer- we now have day light after school in which to hit the park for a quick scooter ride. The bulbs- planted by city workers months ago- have awoken and are poking through the soil - reaching for the sun and seasonal glory. The sap has started to move in the trees- turning the tips of branches red and forcing new buds to appear. All is this the magical promise of Spring- longer, warmer days.

      So too can I see changes in my children that I might have missed had I not looked up from my tasks- pants too short at the ankle indicate they are each in the midst of yet another growth spurt. The Boy- who is almost 6- is starting to be more aware of the larger world at hand- currently interested in flags and countries- coming to me with statements and questions that I am shocked and amazed at. I am only shocked because to me he is still a blond two year old with a soother sticking out the side of his mouth- I understand how Mothers tend to treat their adult offspring like children. It is still so surprising to me that a few short years ago he was a brand new babe and now he can get snacks for himself and his sister, pour milk with out spilling(sometimes), make his own bed, speak French, write his name, take apart a door frame- amazing to think that how quickly children grow and learn. Science is cool.

     January may be grey, foggy and rainy- there may be no big spectacular Holidays to celebrate- but there is something spectacular and beautiful happening all around right now. Things are waking up- children are growing- the days are getting longer. Beauty is all around us- so lets celebrate just because and make the days a little brighter!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Field Trip: Larrabee State Park

         Ever since we returned home from our holidays at Christmas our family has been bit by the travel bug- obsessively checking travel deals and seat sales- planning for the coming year- right now however we are smack dab in the middle of the school year. So we do the next best thing- start venturing a bit further afield for little day trips- hoping the change in scenery will scratch that travel itch! This weekend the sun was finally breaking through the clouds and so we decided to head over the boarder and check out a park in Washington state that friends had suggested to us- Larrabee State Park just outside Bellingham.

         No day is ever perfect but this was as close to perfect as we could ask for- once the Littles stopped bickering and noticed there were lots of cool things to explore things went pretty smoothly. The Boy has decided he wants to rock climb so much of his time was spent on the gentle sandstone cliffs surrounding the beach- with the Mr. close at hand to spot- of course! It amazes me how this boy has grown- not just physically but emotionally- over the past month or so- he is much more willing to try new things and to tackle bigger challenges- like rock climbing- he has fallen and gotten back up- my not-so- little guy!

         The sandstone at Larrabee is amazing- mini caves carved out of the stone by the relentless power of the waves- making the perfect hiding spot for boys! Both of our Littles found special spots to curl up in- they played with other kids- exploring tidal pools and watching for seals- which we did see! Starfish and shells are always exciting business- again joining other kids down on the beach to "rescue" starfish that had been washed up.

      Incidentally Larrabee State Park is almost 100 years old- having been founded in 1915. A picnic and BBQ shelter as well as very clean bathrooms and a bandstand are in the main grassy field of the day use area- along with a small but very fun playground structure! We took a look around the campsites and they look really quite nice- well set back from the road- we did notice though that similar to Porteau Cove- a train runs right by the campground. Hiking and mountain bike trains run through out the park, a quiet, shallow bay offers prime marine viewing for kayakers- there really is something for everyone.

          Days like this are balm for the soul- moving our bodies outside in the fresh air and sunshine- a rare gift at this time of year on the West Coast. Often when life in the city gets overwhelming I start to day dream of times just like the ones spent at Larrabee- plotting and planning our next close to home family adventure! At least until school is out!

Friday, January 24, 2014

On A Friday

      On this Friday the fog is swirling so low that it is wrapping around between the buildings of our city- muffled fog horns sound from a few blocks away and I have decided to curl up with a second coffee. This has been one busy and intense week- lots of emotions- lots of night time wakings from our little ones- they claim nightmares- I blame the fog horns. Its that broken sleep that is bringing all the emotional behavior to the table and so as Mum I've been digging down deep to find extra reserves of patience- as they say "thank goodness it's Friday"!

    In addition to a lack of sleep I have been racing to meet two big deal lines- so I have been putting any extra energy into my work- pillows galore! I am very excited about that is happening in my studio- AKA kitchen table- lots of yummy natural linens, indigo Ikats and striped Japanese gauzes! I work well with a deadline- in University I thrived on deadlines- cramming for exams or under the gun to finish a gallery installation. The difference between University me and current me is that my time is spread so much thinner- I can already feel I am overextending myself -so if you happen to be one of my regular coffee dates and I disappear for a bit just know I am probably buried under a pile of gorgeous linen and colourful threads.

      As you may have read in my previous posts I don't usually make New Years Resolutions- however I am beginning to see the necessity to lay out a plan for myself for the coming year. I'm turning 38 years old this year- yup 38 and I'm good with aging- I can feel the grace and wisdom I craved as a young woman starting to seep into my soul- what I am not good with is whatever it is my body is doing to me! So I think I need to learn how to balance out my time between my family, myself and my business- and if there is any leftover time the dirty dishes! My big challenge lies in separating creating for pleasure and creating for work- I need to find something creative to do just for fun- something to take my mind off Plain Jane.

    It's tough to make that separation when you work from home- often folks will assume because I'm working from home that I'm not doing anything. Someone recently asked me besides being a Mum what is it that I do all day long? I could rant all day long about how being a stay at home Mum is one of the busiest jobs ever- throw in a full time small business and you will see there is not a tonne of time left to relax in my day. While it's true I have lots of flexibility in my day- I can do school pick up- I can go to a yoga class- I can go for the occasional coffee- what few people see is me still sitting at the sewing machine at 11:00 at night. So this is the separation and balance I seek to make happen in my days- currently things are wildly out of balance.

    Anyways it is Friday dear Friends- I am so happy- by the end of today one of my two deadlines will have been met and I can relax a tiny bit- I have a bottle of wine waiting for me in the fridge! In our neck of the woods the weather is looking fine for the next few days- no rain so to speak- if you need me look to the paths of the forests as I trying to catch my breath there! Happy Friday Friends!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

G Day For Girls

         Life is so simple when you are 4 and 5 years old- your friends are usually relationships of convenience more than anything- relatives and neighbours. It's easy to find common ground- play is fun- snacks are fun- Curious George is fun- no one cares what you look like or what brand of jeans you are currently sporting. The general rule of thumb is as long as everyone is being kind to one another, sharing toys and not hitting the play will continue- small children quickly come to realize that if co-operative pay is not established the end result will be no play- the goal of play is to continue playing as long as possible and this is achieved through getting along with one another. Life is good.

      Fast forward five years to the pre teen years- while my own daughter is not at this stage I do remember it well from my own childhood. I vividly remember the time when girls stopped wanting to play and became more interested in clothes, hair and attracting the opposite sex. Personally I was really confused- I was much more interested in riding bikes, building forts and burning ant hills and with the same boys that my friends were all trying to lure into a dark closet- yeah I was that girl. I also had the universal prank of developing early blessed upon me- so my body and my heart were decidedly at odds. I felt so trapped in my developing body and could not express the thoughts and feelings whirling around- my Mom tried her best but I didn't feel like she would understand. We lived far away from our extended family and so any support I may have found in my aunts was too far removed- I had no one to turn to with my questions and felt very alone. At the same time I felt incredibly betrayed by my girl friends who had changed seemingly overnight- I was different than them- still wanting to be a little kid and unable to express that.

      So you may at this point be wondering why I am spilling my guts today- why am I exposing my vulnerabilities? The entire reason lies in my desire to participate in a conversation about supporting our youth and making the path easier for the young ladies of this generation. While both of my kids are still quite young I can see they are dealing with very personal emotions that are a struggle for them to talk about- I want to create a safe environment where they can express themselves- especially my girl. Not too long ago our society was a village or a tribe if you will- women worked together- not just to get physical work accomplished but to survive- to celebrate womanhood, marriages and births. I feel that in our modern society we have lost that connection to our tribe- the saying "it takes a village to raise a child" is still as true today as it ever was even if we have to go a bit farther afield to make it happen.

    With all this in mind you can imagine my excitement when I first heard about this wonderful group of women who were creating a safe place for 10-12 year girls to learn about and empower themselves as they move out of childhood into adolescents. G Day for Girls is a new day long workshop designed  to do just that- filled with inspiring speakers, yoga and dance, crafts and journaling as well as making connections with their peers. The very first G Day for Girls is taking place this coming April 28- tickets are on sale now! I have a young friend who will be going and can't wait to have her share her experience at G Day with us all here on the blog. She is ten- she is a fierce spirit- she is kind- she is Miss Lo's favourite person (besides me)- she is crafty- she is creative- she will learn to celebrate herself!

     I wish G Day for Girls had been around when I was this age- instead we all awkwardly sat around a classroom - both boys and girls learning about sexual health- it was clinical and impersonal- the instructor I'm sure had a deadline to meet and was not interested in sensitivity- there was no time for questions. As a Mom I want my girl to have a healthy relationship with the changes that will be happening in her body- I want her to be sensitive to others going through the same tricky transition.  As a Mom I can only hope that I don't scar my girl- that she won't be embarrassed to ask questions- that we will continue to have an open relationship. As a Mom- when she is old enough- I will utilize all resources to help me accomplish this- including G Day for Girls!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January Studio Update

         Often I get so carried away creating new items that I forget to post or write about them- often they don't even make it into my online shop- gasp! Try as I might this is one area of my studio practice I really need to work on- this is my goal for 2014- become better organized at the business side of my studio practice! It is easy to make great things and to stand at markets peddling your wares however- realistically- if your online presence is not sorted then opportunities are missed. As I find my business growing this is the one area I really need to focus on.

      Since stepping back into the studio a few weeks ago I have been busy pulling together samples for the upcoming Vancouver Farmers Market jury committee- I am super nervous about this as the standards are very high. A quiet voice in the back of my mind will even admit that I am a bit scared but at this point I have committed to having my work go in front of a jury so the only way to go is forward.

   I'm dabbling around with a few new- to me- products- including switching over to a beautiful blend of merino wool and silk thread from Maiwa Handprints Studio- I am in love with this thread! It creates a chunkier- crewel type stitch rather than a fine embroidery stitch- which I just love the look of- much more graphic. Also I have a number of new handmade Ikat fabrics that I am backing my pillows with- I am jumping on the Indigo bandwagon- it is a hue that is so earthy and soothing a person can't help but love it. Working with new materials always helps to energize my work- gets me excited about sitting down with a project- letting the textiles come to life in my hands.

     I am excited to say that I will be adding a couple of new items to my Plain Jane Designs Etsy shop today- I feel the Etsy shop is looking a bit sparse after pretty much selling out over the holiday season (yay!) and so I'm breathing some new life into it today. As always all items will also be posted on my Facebook page- fee free to pop over and have a gander- show some love and give me a like if you feel so inclined! Meanwhile look forward to a few changes here in this space as I struggle to bring this whole- wonderful - crazy thing together!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Crafternoon: Jelly Fish

        Yet another weekend has come and gone far too fast- this past weekend we had the Mr.'s parents in town for a short visit. We did what a large number of other families did this weekend and headed to the Vancouver Aquarium to get in on the Luminescence exhibition before it closes this coming week. Our Littles love a visit to the Aquarium and were super excited to show Oma and Opa around to all their favourite spots- the big winner on this visit was obviously the jelly fish!

      Come Monday morning with a suddenly empty and very quiet apartment Miss Lo was a bit sad and looking around for something to do- I threw in a load of laundry and we sat down to make this fancy- yet easy- jelly fish while talking about our favourite parts of the weekend. This little project is so easy- you will need a sheet of heavy card stock, a couple of colours of tissue paper and multi coloured yarn.

      To begin place a dinner plate onto the paper and trace around half- this half circle will give you the jelly fish body- cut out jelly fish body. Cut enough squares of tissue paper to cover the half circle- our squares are about 2 inches by 2 inches- glue down the tissue squares so the colours overlap creating a multi dimensional colouring. Cut multiple lengths of wool - we used about 3 pieces per grouping- punch five holes along the bottom of the jelly fish body. Thread the wool through the holes to create dangling tentacles- hang at varied lengths just like on the real jelly fish.

     Sometimes after a super fun and busy weekend a little bit of quiet crafting with Momma is just what every four year old needs- the opportunity to sit and talk to them about what their favourite part of the weekend can be priceless. I often feel like The Boy is so grown up- I realise he is only turning six- but the time is just speeding by so quickly. I am going to try and hang onto Miss Lo just a little longer- savour our time together before she heads off to school- part of that is grabbing moments like today- just sitting down and making some jelly fish!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Crafternoon: Mini Puppets

         Around these parts we are big fans of Washi tape- I know for sure some folks will be asking what on earth is Washi tape- Mom I'm thinking of you! Washi tape is colourful, patterned, low tack masking tape- I like to use Washi to tack up the kid's art work around the house as it is non marking. Washi tape is available in practically any colour or pattern you can wish for and adds cuteness to any project- big or small. For this little craft my Girly and I chose to use Washi tape as "clothes" for Popsicle stick puppets.

         For this project all you will need is a couple of different colours of Washi tape, markers and large sized Popsicle sticks. Select one colour of Washi tape for the bottoms - skirt, pants, bikini ( Miss Lo made a bunch of puppets in bikinis), simply wrap a small piece of the Washi tape around the Popsicle stick. Next select a colour of Washi tape for the puppets top, wrap the top of the Popsicle stick to create the shirt. Once your puppet is clothed you can add it's features on with marker- hair, eyes, smile, glasses- we also gave a few of our puppets Washi tape hats.

        The nice thing about using Washi tape for a small project like this is that it tears very easily- scissors are not needed- unless you have an insistent four year old who likes to cut things into tiny pieces- then by all means use scissors! This is a great little project to take with you for travel or to a restaurant- it's a project that once set up the Littles can just work away on their own . In no time at all you will have assembled a motley cast of puppets- perfect for any sort of imaginative adventures!

        Friends it is Friday again- although it might be foggy right this second we are for casted to have a beautiful, sunny weekend- so if you need me just look to the farmers market, hiking trails or beaches of Vancouver- that's where we will be! Happy Friday Friends!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hot Chocolate From Scratch

        This time of year can always be a bit tricky to get through- and getting through January is just what we all need to do- dealing with the post Holiday slump- or in our case the post travel slump- as well as the chilly, dark weather is not always easy. One of our coping methods is to indulge in our favourite treats and for us right now that is home made hot chocolate with whipped cream every day after school. The promise of a petite serving of warm, chocolaty goodness is just what we need to get those little legs to walk one more block after such a long day at school!

  Hot Chocolate

8 ounces of semi sweet chocolate- broken into pieces
4 cups milk- 2% or better yields the best Hot Chocolate
3 teaspoons powdered sugar- or 1 packet of Vanilla sugar*
a dash of vanilla
a dash of cinnamon

- place milk in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and warm to a low simmer- whisk occasionally so as not to scorch the milk- add in small pieces of chocolate and whisk quickly until it chocolate is completely melted- whisk in sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Top with Maple whipped creme and enjoy!

Maple Whipped Creme

- just as it sounds!
1/2  a litre of good quality whipping creme
1-2 teaspoons real Maple syrup

- whip in a mixer or with a hand blender until peaks start to form

* Vanilla sugar is something that is often called for in my Mother In Laws recipes- I had never found it on the grocery shelves until a stop at the German market- but it is essentially vanilla flavoured powdered sugar- but sweeter.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Knit Wit: The Keaton Hat

        This time six months ago I would not have considered myself a knitter- if only because I didn't really understand patterns and was quite frankly whinging it. To me a knitter was someone who was confident knitting a garment beyond a scarf- and I had yet to really do that. Over the last few months I have tackled a few small woollen projects- mostly hats which I may or may not be completely obsessed with as well as a couple of cowls and a pair of fingerless gloves - to say I have caught the knitting bug is an understatement! While I have set no earth shattering resolutions for myself I am determined to learn how to knit a sweater in 2014- this is my only goal- I feel it is totally doable!

    On my recent trip to A Verb For Keeping Warm I purchased two skeins of Quince & Co Puffin wool for use with this specific pattern- the Keaton Hat from Very Shannon of Luvin the Mommyhood- one of my favourite knitting and sewing blogs. This was my first time knitting with Quince & Co and it did not disappoint- there is a reason this brand is so popular with modern knitters- first off the colourways are fantastic- right on trend. It was such a treat to knit with this yarn- I am sort of hoarding my second skein although the Mr. has expressed interest in a Keaton hat of his own as his birthday treat.

     Working with the Quince & Co yarn it was evident that when using the correct tools for the job you will get the results you are looking for- this was my first knitting project that I followed the directions and it turned out as stated in the pattern. I have the perfect sweater pattern to start on soon- I'm just trying to decide what colour to use- mean while I took the opportunity to clean out the old knitting basket this afternoon. As my Mom would say it was a bit of a "dog's breakfast" in there- although I did find some left over Halloween candy which was a pleasant surprise!

P.S. at this point I officially consider myself a knitter!

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Peek at Our Weekend

            This weekend was supposed to be a weekend where nothing remarkable happened- a completely boring- do nothing sorta time- and that is exactly what it was but it turned out far from unremarkable! We spent most of our weekend immersed in domestic adventures such as cooking and then washing all the subsequent dishes- tucked in out of the rain. By Saturday afternoon however we were all getting a bit restless and decided to bundle up and venture out. We made our way to the Seabus and over to Lonsdale Quay- home of the Lonsdale Market- simple.

           We rarely find ourselves at the Lonsdale quay- we haven't been in quite some time and were delighted to find a number of changes and new shops have popped up. Including a new-to us- craft brewery- Green Leaf. We sampled and lingered at the bar- the Littles more than content to play on the vintage scale- weighing them selves with and with out their back packs. We paid a visit to the candy shop for a few treats- we had a coffee- bought some tasty treats for dinner- jumped in a few puddles and caught the Seabus home. Such a simple yet fun adventure right in our own back yard- often we get caught up in avoiding places like Lonsdale Quay but really at this time of year there are very few tourists- just a few other locals looking to stretch their legs while staying dry!

Friday, January 10, 2014

My Favourite Cake on A Friday

          Do you know what goes really well with this disgusting weather we have been having lately? Cake- knitting- hibernating. Which is exactly what I have been doing- Miss Lo and I baked this super yummy spicy applesauce cake yesterday and it was gone by 9 a.m. this morning- yeah it's just that good! When combined with a good cuppa tea and some yummy yarn on the sticks this cake brings a much needed level of comfort to my life.

The Goods

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup chilled applesauce
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup Golden raisins

*optional add in a handful of chopped walnuts

The Deal

- pre heat oven to 350 degrees
- grease an 8 x8 pan and set aside
- cream together butter and sugar
- add in applesauce, mix well
- stir in flour and baking soda along with spices
- add raisins (and nuts at this time)
- pour batter into greased pan and bake about 40 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
- enjoy on it's own as we did here or top with fresh whipped Maple cream- yummo!

        Friends it is Friday again- this week has felt a little bit unreal- we are all trying to settle back into our routines- admittedly a bit at odd angles with our regular life after travelling. I think some tender feelings combined with this rainy weather we will be snuggling up inside for the majority of our weekend. I'm going to use this indoor time to keep organizing and preparing for fairer days when we are rarely home- I wonder is this the reverse of making hay while the sun shines! At any rate now is the time to get our home better sorted, make some yummy soups and maybe watch another marathon of The Long Way Round! Friends I hope your feet stay dry and your hearts stay warm- much love and Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

When In Berkley

         On our final day of vacation we were all feeling quite tiered and really just wanted to be back home- so we sought out familiar places. The Littles were feeling a bit wild and needed to burn off some steam and so the Mr. found a park full of other kids for them to rip around in- just what the Dr. ordered! Cesar Chavez Park was just the perfect place to have one last look at San Francisco- all be it through the famous fog.

          No family vacation for us is complete with out a trip to an over the top donut shop- we found King Pin Donuts just off campus near the University of California. These were some pretty amazing donuts- I had some sort of buttermilk- maple- praline concoction that was seriously out of this world! We just hung out at the pic nic tables snacking away on our treats and people watching- interesting that even during winter break the university area was still busy.

       We made one final stop which was the Mr.s choice- to the campus of Pixar- even though we couldn't get in and the campus is heavily secured it was really cool to walk around the parameter and take it all in. Yes there is a giant Pixar lamp just at the entrance- as well as giant Sea Gulls from Finding Nemo perched atop the buildings. It was really cool to know that some of our favourite family movies are being made with in these very walls.

      Even now almost a week and a half after arriving home I still can't believe we went- our big adventure seems so far away- the warm California weather a dream! Looking back at our pictures and remembering the excitement that went along with those moments is what will keep us going through these dark, rainy days of January- that and starting to plan our next family adventure!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Visit to A Verb For Keeping Warm

         As much as I love San Francisco my love for Berkley and Oakland often rivals that of the city that stole my heart- if only because of three things. First of all one of my favourite TV shows takes place in Berkley- Parenthood- yeah I'm a big Braverman fan- I'm totally hooked on this very real feeling family drama. The second reason is my love affair with rebellion- to me U of C Berkley was ground zero for some very important political movements in history- the lure of education and freedom still permeates the streets- at least to me it does. The third reason my love of the area is thanks to a little textile shop called A Verb For Keeping Warm- simple as that!

      If you have been following along here with this little blog you might remember how over a year ago I took the Seam Allowance pledge- to make 1 in 4 items of clothing in my closet- which has changed my life and how I shop forever. A Verb For Keeping Warm is home to said Seam Allowance- it's were they hold their meetings- and I imagine show off what they sew and knit- and I bet they just generally geek out over textiles! Because the textiles selection in this shop can not be beat!

      I was fortunate enough to visit the Oakland shop on a quiet Monday morning just before we headed to the airport- this visit was really the only thing on my list of places to visit (other than with our friends) while in California- and I am so grateful to my family for dragging along while I went into a textile coma. Walking into the store was overwhelming- so much to look at- so much wool to touch! I think my favourites were the bolts of Khadi cotton, The Quince & Co yarns (obviously) and the hand died indigo fabric- the Shibori patterns were outstanding!

     I love visiting the bricks and mortar locations of stores - or in this case a movement- that I have long admired online- I need to touch fabric and wool before buying- I need to see colour and texture. I walked out of A Verb with a few goodies and loads of inspiration- I seriously love what these folks are doing here! The quality of handcrafted goods speaks volumes to what is possible- high quality, made by hand goods are being produced in a sustainable manner- inspiration equals possibilities to me!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Confessions of A Recent Disney Convert

      I will admit that when my husband came to me with the idea of taking our kids to Disneyland for Christmas it was with the utmost reluctance that I agreed to go along on the trip- my idea of a vacation does not include being surrounded by throngs of children with little to no booze available. This is what I imagined Disneyland to be like- the PNE but bigger, dirtier and more expensive. To say I had a bad attitude would be an understatement- but because couples make compromises I went along with his plan and even tried to get excited about it. I was excited to be spending time in California but I would rather spend our precious time at the beach rather than paying some multi billion dollar corporation to have mindless fun- cause I like to ruin things like that.

      I will be the first to admit that I was wrong- it literally took me two seconds inside the gates at the Magic Kingdom to convert to the Disney- side. I started smiling and didn't stop for the next three days-ps. reality doesn't exist at Disney. Walking in the shadow of the iconic Princess castle I couldn't help but think of my sister and how I wished she was walking beside me. I was reminded of how badly we wanted to go to Disneyland as kids- how we had a penny jar that we referred to as the Disney fund. In a rush of emotion I was 8 years old again playing along side my kids- yeah it was like one giant sappy commercial.

       Disneyland during the Holidays is extra magical- the decorations were amazing and the costumes were wonderful- even the castle was draped in lights and they made it snow after the fire works! The thing that I loved best was how happy every single person was- there was no room for "cool" since everyone was waking around in sneakers with big huge smiles on their faces. 

        This isn't a post about things to do and see in Disneyland- although I do highly recommend Cars Land- it was pretty darn cool- we went at least five times- it's most pretty at night- just like the movie. Also dinner at Flo's Diner is pretty darn good- possibly the best roast beef and mashed potatoes I have ever had! It's not about all the fun and cool stuff you can do like collecting all the buttons (for free) in Cars Land- going around and answering trivia questions- watching your shy child overcome their reluctance because they really want that next button.

          What this post is about is how I went to Disneyland with a slightly bad attitude and came out happier, lighter and more excited about life- I can't wait to go back! This was possibly the best Christmas gift our family could ever have received- three days of just the four of us- playing and having fun. There is so much to see and do that our kids just kept going- walking for the most part with out complaint- sure they got tiered and we would stop for an ice cream sandwich in the shape of Mickey Mouse- then they would get up and walk to the next adventure.

        I think the best part for me was on Christmas day- Miss Lo and I stood for almost an hour in the blazing California sun- waiting in line to see Tinkerbell- when we arrived at Pixie Hallow Miss Lo was totally on board and into meeting Tink- however after about 15 minutes interest had waned. Still we waited- I was determined even if she had forgotten- it was hot- she cried- I wanted to cry- she was bored- I was bored. Finally it was our turn to meet Tinkerbell and as we stepped into the cool shade of Tink's glen in Pixie Hallow Miss Lo got a gleam in her eye. She was still shy as she approached Tinkerbell but she went on her own- I stepped back and just watched- it was magical- it was a perfect moment for Miss Lo- her little world was complete right then.

           So in conclusion I will confess that I was wrong in my crabby opinion about Disneyland- sometimes it's Ok to let go and not worry about corporations and recycling- sometimes it's a good thing for my children to see me having fun. We had a super time and all of us can't wait to go back- next time definitely with my sister because I want to ride the tea cups with her! I think I benefited from having a little Pixie dust sprinkled over my life- I think in the right context Princesses are all right- I think it's safe for Lola to embrace her inner sparkly Princess with out becoming consumed by it. I also think there are many more rides for me still to go on and for sure next time we visit Disneyland I will go on Splash Mountain!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Field Trip: San Francisco

         There is most definitely some truth that lies in that old song with the lyrics "I left my heart in San Francisco". I left my heart there 16 years ago on my first trip as a young art school student- the history and romance (which to me are one in the same) had me at Hello. So it was with great excitement when our family started planning our big trip to California that we decided to spend some time in the great city- it was a magic we wanted our Littles to experience- weather they remember it or not.

         I know the weather in San Francisco can be less than desirable -however any time I have visited the skies have been clear and the air as soft as June in Vancouver. Last week was no exception- it was a t-shirt and sandal kinda day- what a treat! We started off our day with a stop to admire the Golden Gate bridge- although I have been across the bridge many times before I have never been under or beside it- a great little hike to start our day.

         From there we of course had to head down to Fisherman's Wharf- we were after all tourists and had to check out the action- it was very, very busy. After a brief stroll though the restaurants and boats we hopped on a trolley car and headed up to Union Square and Market Street- a ride on the trolley is a great way to see the city as the main trolley line runs up Russian Hill and Knob Hill. The Mr and I enjoyed the architecture and the Littles enjoyed the ride- a win- win for all! 

        The magic of San Francisco being what it is allows for serendipity to play a roll in every visit I have to the city. On this particular visit after way too much walking our Littles were done- we all kinda were- it was getting dark and everyone was hungry. We started to wander (with a vague sense of direction) back to our car with every intention of just heading back to our friend's house. Serendipity stepped in and all of a sudden I looked up and noticed we were in North Beach- standing in the exact same spot outside City Lights Book store where I had stood 14 years earlier at the turn of the Millennium- amazing where 14 years will take you and how it is possible to end up in the same place on the same day once again.

        So again San Francisco stole my heart- it's soft breezes and beautiful colours- lovely people- good food and of course that fantastic element of serendipity that worked it's magic. We stopped our journey back to the car- found a little place to eat dinner- relaxed- enjoyed the sunset- regrouped and just enjoyed the moment. This was our final evening in California- the next would find us on a plane headed back to our rainy city- once again we were reminded that it's the little things that make a trip and more importantly-life wonderful!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Farmers Market Missive: Santa Clara

       I love food- I love trying new food- I love learning about food- at this point in my life I am open to trying just about any food offered. So it was with glee that I hopped into my friend's car the other day and headed out- practically kid free save for the brand new addition- to their local Farmers Market in Santa Clara, California. The majority of my Farmers Market experiences have been limited to Pacific North West growing conditions- currently at our local market we mostly have root vegetables and kale- so it was my great delight to discover that right now is citrus season in California!

        First off it was a shear joy to buy citrus that is being grown with in miles of where it is sold- ditto on the winter strawberries- my kids may have totally gorged themselves as they haven't had a fresh berry in months! Aesthetically the market in Santa Clara was a visual feast- the colours and textures a jumble of yellows, reds and orange at a time with most of our veg is brown and dull. I was treated to samples of food I have never tried before like these huge citrus- the Pomelo- can I just say yumm!

        It wasn't just the fresh produce that intrigued me- the raw milk stand was ever so interesting and after drinking raw milk in my coffee and on our cereal for a few days I have to say I really liked it- not just the full fat aspect but the real taste- it actually tasted like milk! In Canada raw milk is "illegal" and very hard to come by- unless you have a cow parked in your side yard- which obviously in the city we do not.

       After buying plenty of provisions for the coming days the Mommas and the little Miss headed to a favourite coffee shop- my friend knows me well! Chromatic Coffee is a coffee lovers delight- really good strong beans that are hand crafted in the Valley of the Hearts Delight -isn't that the most amazing name for an area! Apparently they make really good "fancy" drinks here as well but I just went with my standard latte as I love good espresso! FYI- this is also Hipster central which I- of course- loved- great people watching to go along with yummy coffee!

        I thoroughly enjoyed our mini foodie adventure-  all the new foods topped off by excellent coffee and company! See that pastry above- a mini pecan pie if you will- yeah it was gone in seconds- it was just that good! I will admit that I think the most thrilling part of the entire experience was the citrus- so different than anything I have ever experienced- even in my friend's yard she has many different citrus trees growing- including Meyer Lemon- oh the curd that could make! The Valley of Heart's Delight is now for the most part Silicone Valley but the food is still there too and it is oh so good!

      Friends it is Friday again- time sure does fly when you are having fun! This weekend we are going to throw ourselves into winter activities up at Grouse Mountain- a completely different experience from last weekend spent in the sun! Happy Friday Friends!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Field Trip: Monarch Butterflies & Natural Bridges

          It's hard to believe that this time last week we were basking in the warm California sunshine- this morning I'm sitting here sifting through the photos of our trip and reliving the entire week- unsure exactly where to start. One of our favourite parts of California was our visit to Santa Cruz with our friends- my dear friend Dea knows how much we like to get outside and so had planned a tour of some classic California spots. Our first stop was to visit the monarch butterflies at Natural Bridges State Park- we followed a path down into a ravine and at first didn't see too much- then we noticed dense clumps of leaves moving- not leaves at all but butterflies!

        After the magical butterfly grove we went on a little hike through the Eucalyptus trees- the smell was amazing- over the hills all the Littles trouped until we came out onto the most stunning beach. Blue skies, pounding surf, pelicans and sand that was ever so clean and soft. The jewel of this beach however is the natural bridge that has been carved out of stone by the ocean- the tide was just coming in but that didn't stop me from running out and experiencing a natural cave.

          The sea life clinging to the rocks was plentiful and stunning- mussels, anemone and a variety of different kelp that we hadn't seen before- apparently this beach is also great for viewing octopus and migrating whales. The water was lovely- cold by California standards- only a few intrepid surfers in wet suits- and us- were wading in.

          Of course our family could have stayed at Natural Bridges all day- between the butterflies and the beach there was so much to see and do- but breweries and lunch called and off we went. It was such a treat to have our shoes off and our feet in the water- sunshine on our faces with friends by our side- this was surely a day to remember!