Monday, March 31, 2014

A Peek At Our Weekend

         Our weekend was predominantly a grey and soggy one- typical of "Wet" Coast weather- the bonus is that things are warming up considerably- enough so that layers are being shed and adventures are happening outside again! This weekend we chose to explore a piece of Pacific Spirit Park that we had never been to before but had driven by many times and it was so worth the stop! Just past our favourite stomping grounds- Spanish Banks- is a small parking lot at the top of Acacia Beach- the trail runs through the trees beside the water and on to Wreck Beach.

         The trail was quite mucky after a solid week of rain but we were all properly attired for a stroll in the rain forest- after a season of heavy use both the Littles are sporting duct tape on their gum boots but they are still holding up and doing the job- keeping little feet dry for a few more weeks! Very few people were out on this section of the trail- definitely no nude sun bathers at Wreck Beach- just a pair of eagles, a dog walker and us.

         The eagles were by far the coolest part of our hike and I am sorry I didn't have my big girl camera with me- we saw a nesting pair- one caught a fish and flew with it right over our heads up into the trees where it sat and feasted. We walked quietly along the trail hoping to not disturb it but when we got under the eagle's chosen roost we were obviously too close for comfort and off it flew to a higher perch. While we are lucky to see eagles on a regular basis I had never seen this before- it was quite the sighting!

        The thing about hiking with the kiddos is as they get older they feel free to express their opinion- so the opinion was expressed yesterday that perhaps not all of us wished to be hiking. After a week spent hopping from friend's house to friend's house I felt it was important to have a little quiet family time with just the four of us- outside- in nature. Trying to find that balance we are striving for in our life- trying to explain that to a six year old is tricky- they have no need of balance in their opinion- why not just stay inside another day and play Legos! Does it need to be said that a fair amount of complaining was issued the entire two hours we were out?

          Being at the edge of the forest and the sea soothes my soul- even if the busy city is not too far away- the beauty of Pacific Spirit Park is that the hustle and bustle seem words away. While I do love a visit to more standard beaches designed for swimming I never find that calming- it is only on deserted stretches of rocky shore that a level of quietude is reached- which until we can get out of town and sit by a camp fire will have to do!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sometimes Enough is Good Enough

         Spring Break is winding down- today is that last official day- already we are starting to think about practicing printing and our French home reading- it has sat in The Boy's back pack for the past two weeks. We have kept things pretty simple these last couple of weeks- a trip to the Okanagan to visit our families and loads of visits with our friends in town- a play date a day for the past two weeks- this Mama is tiered! The occasional sunny day meant trips to the beach and park- our favourite Summer time haunts. Rainy days meant lots of Lego play and short walks in our own neighbourhood- in between the rain drops- just enough to stretch growing legs.

       These past two weeks we were given ample opportunities to enroll our Littles in a variety of exciting camps and activities- everything from art classes to soccer camps- due to one thing or another- mostly travelling we opted out. As we head towards Summer we are already being bombarded with similar opportunities to fill the Little's days- it gives me pause to wonder when is enough good enough?

      My days with these little creatures of mine are not infinite- the days can feel at times far too short and at others far too long- but I see Kindergarten is just a few months off (sob) and Grade one just around the corner. These Littles will not be so little for much longer- I hate the thought of filling their days with classes and activities when they could be connecting with friends and cousins- playing and doing other important work of childhood. In the same breath I wonder if I am doing them a disservice- what if that pottery class unlocks the passion of a lifetime? Parenting is difficult business I tells yah! Finding that balance is tricky- especially when all these opportunities present themselves to you right on your very doorstep!

   While Summer vacation is still a few months away I am thoroughly going to enjoy our last few days of Spring Break- our first BBQ of the season- a hike in the rain- definitely a visit to Honey's Donuts! Childhood is fleeting- more so than ever these days- I am content to give my Littles just enough- enough to fill their souls up with happy memories and hugs from friends. Finding contentment in all the lovely humans in our lives.

    Friends it is Friday once again- as mentioned our weekend is going to be full of adventures spent close to home- personally I am excited for the first Hot dog Friday of the season! I hope your weekends are filled with peace and love dear Friends- Happy Friday!

PS- fine boxed wine goes very well with hot dogs!

** I would also like to share that my very first post is up over at Modern Mama! I am so excited to be a part of this team and add my voice to a new audience! Today I am talking all about our portable art kit- art on the go! Click here to read!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Playing In The Studio

         Good Morning! Today is not so much of a studio update so much as just showing y'all what I have been up to in the last couple of days. Currently I have no pressing deadlines and that has given me the time and freedom to play around a bit in the studio- something I don't get to do very often these days. I'm excited to be revisiting natural dyeing- something I dipped my toe into last fall with a class on Solar Dyeing. In the fall I dyed a few skeins of wool with a variety of natural dyes- I really enjoyed the process of colouring textiles in an environmentally and natural way.

      Yesterday I thought I would try my hand at dyeing with black beans- heaven knows how many times I have inadvertently stained my counter top while soaking dry beans! I bundled up a spare piece of white linen and bound it tie dye style- threw it into a big pot with pre soaked beans and a table spoon of Alum. So simple- I boiled the whole pot for about a half an hour- perhaps I should have kept boiling but I am an impatient gal so I pulled the fabric bundle out. Once I rinsed and unbound the linen a beautiful and subtle tie dye effect was revealed- I am so excited about this!

     I'm sure this half yard will be sewn up into yet another easy breezy summer top for my Girly- not that she doesn't already have quite the Momma made wardrobe already! I'm excited to try this entire process again on a much larger scale- you will can be certain to see this popping up in a few new goodies for the shop!

     I love the idea of making something from nothing- I think that is the magic of handcrafting- you start with a blank slate- or paper or fabric or board- what ever your chosen medium may be- and after hours of hand work and imagination the previously blank slate has morphed into a one of a kind item. I think it is a rather addictive process as I'm constantly searching out the special and unique in this world- no longer content with sameness! Be sure to keep an eye on Instagram for updates on my creative mayhem!

   In slightly other news I have been chosen as one of twelve new feature writers over at Modern Mama Vancouver- it would mean so much to me if you popped on over there and had a look at the other talented writers I will be sharing that space with!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Ocean Echoing

Someone once asked me
what home was and all I could
think of were 
the stars on the tip of
your tongue, the flowers
sprouting from your mouth, the roots
entwined in the gaps
between your fingers, 
the ocean echoing inside
of your ribcage

e.e. cummings

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's Spring

        This winter has been so long and grey I will be the first to say that I am happy to see Spring! Over the weekend I feel like the air changed- everything became a bit softer- the colour, the feel, the weight of the air. As I looked around our apartment and more specifically at my clothes I realized there is still a tonne of darkness lingering and something needs to be done about that!

      So starting today I am summerizing our family- yes this may jinx the whole nice weather thing but it's a chance I need to take- I am packing away all the heavy woolly things and bringing forward the light and colourful goodies. While we do have a lot of white and neutral happening in our home I am going to inject spots of colour with stacks of beautiful books, textiles and more plants!

            The stack of lovely fabric in the first picture is destined to become Miss Lo's summer wardrobe- I am going through my fabric stash and using up what I have on hand. Kid's Clothing Week is fast approaching and I am getting ready with a game plan- an hour of sewing a day- totally doable! Last Spring I got a bit carried away with the whole idea and sewed a garment a day- it was a lot of work but in the end I came away with five fresh items for the Littles! I'm also starting to think about my own warm weather wardrobe- what styles and colours to go for this year.

         We live so close to the ocean it's hard not to be influenced by the ever changing shades of blues and greys- I think my favourite combo is cobalt blue, tan and white- pulled directly from the edge of the beach- where the land meets the sea. Fresh and powerful I think this may be my pallet for this year. So this morning you can find my curled up with a second cup of coffee- one eye on that pile of fabrics - perusing through stacks of design books- searching for some inspiration- cause Spring is like that- full of desire for change!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Breaking

        School days are hard- routine is hard- for us anyways- and so I may or may not have jumped for joy last Thursday afternoon as we picked The Boy up from school for the last time before Spring Break! I am that Mom who struggles to get the kids dressed, fed and out the door with an actual balanced lunch. I am that Mom who would much rather sleep in and lounge around in jammies until our friends knock on the door to come and play. School really cramps my style!*

       This week of Spring Break has been wonderful- sleeping in till a much more civilized hour of 8:00 has been Heavenly- I am loving letting the kids eat whatever cereal they want- who cares if it's Lucky Charms*? Spring Break is like one giant weekend! This break is well deserved by all parents- not just the kiddos! I'm feeling a real holiday vibe running through our lives right now and I can guarantee that we are not wasting any time this week.

      With that said our most recent adventure was yesterday- the first official day of Spring! Boy oh boy Mother Nature did not disappoint- the sun was out and it was glorious- if only the tiniest bit windy down by the water. One of our favourite local spots is Sunset Beach on the banks of False Creek- it's with in walking distance and fairly central to the homes of our friends- so we often meet up for a play here. Of course lots of the usual collecting went on- rocks, sticks and shells- of course many sandcastles were built and destroyed.

             What I love best about the beach is the freedom it affords our Littles- they can run and play and have a certain amount of freedom that doesn't exist too many places in the city. This is a place for us all to relax- the Moms can just hang out and chat with a coffee keeping one eye on the Littlest- making sure she doesn't go in the water! 

                 Coming from a small town I have always associated the first day of Spring with being outside- celebrating the change of seasons with time spent in Nature. Now that we live in the city I think it is conscious effort on my part to seek out nature on what is surely one of my favourite days! Longer days are finally here- I can sense warmer days are right around the corner- shorts, bare feet and ice cream for dinner- surely that is a reason to celebrate!

         It is Friday again dear Friends- this week went by so fast as often does when one is on vacation! This weekend will hopefully prove to be a bit more gentle on us- no travelling just plenty on hiking! Happy Friday Friends- much love to you all!

*by style I mean I am lazy and like to sleep in
** we only occasionally allow sugar cereal like Lucky Charms as a treat- I was just being flip about it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Keep Calm and Eat On

         This time of year always has me thinking about food- Ok well if I'm really honest I think of food all year round- but it is this time of year my mind always turns to that of food production- more specifically my garden! Now our garden isn't big by any means- it is as stated here before a small container garden up on our eighth flood balcony- which in our area of the city is quite the luxury. From about now through to mid October we utilize every inch of space in our outdoor oasis- and this includes growing a small amount of our own food.

       What initially started out as a way of showing our city kids where their food comes from has turned into more of an obsession on my part to see how much food we can actually grow in the small space afforded us. Last year was pretty good- this year I think I have our list of veggies figured out- what works and what doesn't. We just started our seeds yesterday on our window sill in small pots- can't wait for things to start sprouting!

         It totally kills me how much food costs these days- when I try to express my concern in regards to our food source often people mistake my worry for penny pinching- which could not be further from the truth. We try as hard as we can to buy the best quality food we can afford- this means whole foods- be they organic or conventional depending on the source- good quality meat and little to no packaged foods. Our family is privileged because we can do this- cooking from scratch takes time and time is money- often families don't have time to cook dinner at home. So where am I gong with this rant of mine? My biggest question is when did good food become a privilege?

      As our little family of four keeps growing and our not- so - Littles consume their body weight in groceries I wonder just how long we can sustain our healthy, whole diet. What completely slays me is that a handful of corporations control our food source and costs- our society is at the mercy of big business. I know this alarmist information is nothing new however with the extent of drought sweeping the United States our food prices are sure to be on the rise again. It is with this in mind that I am planning out our garden this year- every time I put a loaf of bread into the oven I cost out how much I just saved- knowing that the $3.50 I just saved will be spend on another pound of stewing meat or butter.

       I think as our society gets farther and farther away from the actual act of food production we are becoming ever so disconnected to reality- does anyone else notice that those nice big blocks of cheese we all feed our families have a weird texture? Do you notice how milk doesn't taste like milk? How tomatoes are mealy and white most of the year- ditto the strawberries. As I mentioned my concerns have been brushed aside as penny pinching tendencies- this is not the case. It alarms me that we have forgotten what real food tastes like. It alarms me that it is easier to take a supplement in pill form than see the real food on the dinner table. It alarms me that real food has become a privilege and not a right.

    "These companies fight, tooth and nail, against labeling. The fast food industry fought against giving you the calorie information. They fought against telling you if there is trans-fat in your food. The meat packing industry for years prevented country-of-origin labeling. They fought not to label genetically modified foods; and now 70% of processed food in the supermarket has some genetically modified ingredient." Eric Schlosser- Food Inc

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Weekend Adventure

           This past weekend we made our first trip of the year to our hometowns in the Okanagan- to me I am always home as soon as I see the Okanagan Lake as we come down off the Highway. I never thought it would be possible to be homesick for over ten years but it is a feeling that endures. Every chance we get we take the Littles down to the lake- even if like this past weekend it was too cold for swimming. There is always something to entertain down at the beach- throw in some bikes and you have a recipe for an entire afternoon spent outside.

       Lots of layers were called for as the breeze off the lake was brisk- I think I counted about six fishing boats out on the grey waters- those hearty souls. I spent many years down on the water- I worked at the local marina and this was the time of year for serious fishermen- folks always feeling the itch to get their boats in the water. I remember several years we were putting boats in the water with the snow falling- our fingers numb but happy to be out on the water.

       Spring is just around the corner- the willow trees are turning yellow as the sap starts to warm up- a few trees are starting to bud- the bulbs are just peeking through the soil. The Okanagan is always about two weeks behind the Coast seasonally- the difference comes in the summer when the Okanagan explodes with food and colour.

        I have live in Vancouver for twelve years- twelve! While I love my adoptive city and all that it affords I still miss the quiet of the Valley- of course I miss my family but I think I may miss the lake just as much- it soothes my soul. The Okanagan is a magical place one that catches hold of you and doesn't let go- my Grandma knew it- my parents know it.

The Okangan Valley is calling me back home
Where my Okanagan sweetheart waiting there alone
And though I'm far away, I'm coming home to stay
Dreamy Okanagan moon shining from above
Dreamy Okanagan moon shine down on my love
Though we had to say goodbye, love like ours will never die
Tell her I'm returning soon, Okanagan Moon

Florence Fazan

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hey Alzheimers- You Suck

        To start with I will fully admit this is not my regular sort of post- most of what I bring to this space is of the fun and fluffy variety- today is a different story. As many of my close friends already know my Grandma passed away this week- after this statement is where I get stuck as to what to say. There is so much I want the world to know about my Grandma- like how even in the grips of a debilitating disease she coloured in children's colouring books like she was sketching in an art class- selecting colours and shading as though the lines she filled in where not already there at all. My Grandma had Alzheimer's and it sucked- big time.

      Going back to before she was sick when she was just Grandma is easy to do- there is in our case a before she was sick and an after she was sick. Our Grandma was the lady people liked to be around- her neighbours loved her for her kindness as much as they did for her legendary garden- she used to let us put tablespoons of sugar on our cornflakes- she let us watch cable TV- she got her ears pierecd when my sister and I did. She was just always our Grandma.

    Just as I was emerging out of the self involved cocoon of adolescents it was discovered that maybe my Grandma wasn't really all right- she barricaded her basement door- convinced someone was trying to break in- leaving food to rot in the fridge- wearing the same clothes for days on end. The signs were there even before but no one noticed- two birthday cards was a sign- forgetting how to spell my name was a sign. By the time I got married it was evident she had Alzheimer's- by the time my first child came along she couldn't speak- and yet she lingered as her body was strong even though her mind perhaps was not.

    She taught me how to love unconditionally- she was our soft place to fall when life got bumpy. She taught me how to observe- birds, plants, the weather- just sit and watch. She taught me how to paint a water lily. She taught me how to sew doll clothes. She taught me to save string and elastics and bread clips. She taught me it was OK to be a lady and still enjoy a beer straight out of the bottle.

   I often wonder what I missed out on- I see my own nieces are so caviller in their relationship with my Mother In Law and I want to scream "you don't know how lucky you are- your Grandma is right here and she is young and healthy!" I am envious- yes. I feel ripped off- Alzheimer's stole my Grandma and any relationship I might have had with her as an adult. Mostly I just feel sad though- sad for my Mom- sad because the Okanagan Valley is not quite the same this week.

    Alzheimer's you suck- no one really talks about what this disease actually is like- how it can last for decades. Its something that is quietly talked about behind closed doors by families directly affected- generally not spoken about in polite society- but if you mention Alzheimer's you don't have to look far to find someone affected. This disease is you and me- there are over five million Americans living with Alzheimer's- 1 in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer's- it is the 6th leading cause of death.

    Friends it is Friday- ours will be anything but quiet- full of family- lots of cousins- lots of fine boxed wine- lots of happy memories. I encourage you all this weekend to love on your own family- embrace those closest. Much peace and love Friends- Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Studio Update

            It feels like forever since I shared a proper studio update and yet it feels like I never stop working! I'm very pleased to announce that Plain Jane linen Heritage pillows can now be found and Nineteenten Home Boutique on Main Street here in Vancouver- this is such a lovely store- every item is carefully chosen and assembled into a gorgeous collection of treasures. It is simply thrilling that my pillows have found a place on their shelves- and in the window!

            I feel this last order really pushed me to create a well thought out and well finished item- I changed a few things including my embroidery thread- switching from a traditional silk thread to a heartier merino and silk blend- the impact on the pillows is much more graphic and I feel a lot warmer. Another change is how I finish the backs of Heritage pillows- these small decorative pillows now come with an envelope style closure which means the insert can be removed if tragedy strikes and a spill occurs!

         Over the past month or so I have really been thinking about the nature of Plain Jane and where it's going- my first love is screen printing however I feel there is a bit of a glut in the screen printed textile market- it is time to move on from that. Also cards- I love, love, love creating my one of a kind cards- however I have noticed that demand for them is down- like way down- sadly I feel folks are just not mailing love anymore. So while I will still have limited runs of Plain Jane cards in the shop they will not be the back bone of the business anymore- it's a sad day but when something is just not working it's time to move on! It can be a difficult thing to be really honest with one's self and change behaviors when something just doesn't work- I am trying to be really realistic with myself.

          The flip side of that sad coin is that now I am freed up to try out new products- I am super pleased to be introducing my new line of feather pins into the shop at the beginning of April! Of course they are available now but just in limited numbers- shown below each small, hand embroidered pin is about 2" long- backed with linen- each mini work of wearable art is only $15 right now. Designed in memory of my Grandma who loved bird watching- I'm wearing mine everywhere this week.

           So you can see that a large portion of that radio silence was in part due to how busy I have been in the studio- a new exciting direction has me all fired up! Not one to rest on my laurels I am already hard at work on the next batch of Heritage pillows headed for the old Etsy shop! I am happiest when my hands are busy- I love the portable nature of this craft and how I can be busy just about everywhere.

         I remember the summer I learned to embroider- I thought it was the most boring thing on earth and I am sure my sampler went unfinished- as many summer projects tended to be for me. I must have been about thirteen- we were living in our new house way high up above town- all my friends were down at the beach but it was too far for me to walk alone- so I sat moping for most of that summer. In an effort to staunch the moping and the whining that I am sure accompanied it my Mom put a blank piece of cotton and a hoop in my hands and showed me the basic stitches- I think the first pattern I worked on was a Holy Hobby type Prairie girl. Hello irony! Proof that you never know what you learn as a child you may one day use to make a living!

PS- as an added bonus I am offering 25% off in the Etsy shop on all in stock items! Just use code Spring1

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Welcome Fair Maid!

Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid!
Ever as of old time,
Solitary firstling,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid!
Lord Tennyson

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Fresh Start

            Good Morning Friends and Happy Monday- I feel like today is the start of something fresh and new- there really is nothing like a bout of bad health to make a person truly appreciative of the everyday lives we all lead! Last week our family has hit hard by a round of the stomach flu- I liken it to the Great Flu Epidemic of 2011- it was just that bad. So after many packages of Saltines have been consumed, numerous litres of Ginger Ale flattened and countless loads of laundry washed and put away- life is returning to normal.

        Yesterday was the first day since last weekend that we felt well enough to venture outside for reasons other than procuring more crackers and what a treat it was! Some time over the past week Spring has started peeking out in earnest- crocuses and (my favourite) snow drops- blossoming like nobodies business- the birds are thoroughly Twitterpated and the sun- oh the sun felt warm! With the switch to Daylight Savings yesterday felt like a holiday- scooters and bikes were out in full force and the Littles were thrilled to be out with their friends ripping around the playground- dinner was held off- play was just too important!

      This winter has been a tough one- I know my friends and family back East will laugh at this statement- but Vancouver winters are hard- dark and grey- soul draining. The promise of fairer days ahead has me beyond happy- I am dreaming of shorts and sandals- bare feet at the beach- sitting on a blanket with my favourite ladies while our Littles collect crabs and screech up and down Sunset Beach- coffee in the morning- Whiskey Iced Tea in the afternoons- warm breezes on our shoulders- surprise sunburns when we get home- yeah those days are coming back again soon!

       I know there has been a great deal of radio silence over the past little while on this old blog- aside from last weeks absence due to the flu- I have really been struggling with coming here and writing each and every day- I love to write- even if it is about nothing much- but I am struggling to find enough hours in the day. I am hoping with a return to fair weather I will start to feel motivated and inspired to come here and share the small details of my days. So please just bear with me as I try to find my way- and time- I promise brighter days are ahead!

PS I may have even spotted a few Buttercups! Yeee! So exciting- I love all the first shy flowers of Spring!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Little Black Rain Cloud

I'm just a little black rain cloud
Hovering under the honey tree
I'm just a little black rain cloud
Pay no attention to little me
Everyone knows that a rain cloud
Never eats honey, no, not a nip
I'm just floating around over the ground
Wondering where I will drip

Winnie The   Pooh

PS- my mood is more like Eeyore- bring back the sunshine!