Tuesday, April 29, 2014
A little over a year ago our family started out on a bit of a mission- to live our life just 5% more simpler- the idea of course was to make our lives easier- to live with less and enjoy what we all ready had. Environmentalism of course goes hand in hand with living a simpler life- our level of consumption was about to go down- a more mindful existence was on the horizon.
Today a year into this journey it has become evident that a life that is 5% simpler is just not feasible- once started there was no way to stop at just 5%- simple living or minimalism is addicting and we are all hooked! Life with less is good- it is easy- it is cleaner by far! There is nothing I love more than a good de-cluttering session but today I just watched the final bag of "stuff" head off to the thrift store- mostly clothes outgrown by our kiddos- or old work clothes that were just taking up space in my closet- all gone. We are slowly learning that it is better to have the space than the stuff.
Often necessity truly is the mother of invention- and while our family is not really reinventing the wheal or anything I feel what we are doing is pretty revolutionary- choosing to stay longer in the city- in a small space and live with less. We love our lifestyle and right now are not willing to trade that for any amount of space in the suburbs- learning to exist in our small space as a growing family of four can be tricky- especially when there is SO much cool Lego to be bought and played with and SO much amazing fabric that needs to come home with me! So learning to comfortably live with in our space feels like a revolutionary move.
Recently I read a really interesting truth that I just can't shake "Living with less trumps organizing because organizing is temporary"- this concept really resonated with me. As I am the main stay at home parent I am the man on the ground constantly fighting the battle to keep clutter at bay- I feel like I am always "organizing" our home. Living with less frees up amounts of time that would otherwise be spent chasing down clutter back into it's home. Getting rid of all the "stuff" is permanent- there is no way for things that no longer exist in your life to filter back into the collective space!
I'm feeling so good about where we are as a family now- we have a somewhat clean slate- we have what we need- we can now chose to mindfully let things that we need and love into our home on an item per item basis. We have a lovely tidy living room- we have our books and music- movies and drawing materials- we have what is important to our family right now. Anything that doesn't serve our purpose is gone and our closets are so easy to navigate!
A year out our goal is no longer 5% more simplicity- we have been there and said no thank you to the t-shirt. Living just that little bit more simple has shifted our entire mindset. Once a more is more kind of gal I now firmly place myself in the minimalist camp- if they even have one- probably not. Learning to say No to stuff has been like a weight lifting off my shoulders- my turtle shell of stuff is no longer there and in it's place rests an amazing being of lightness and space!
ps- I found this great image over at the blog Becoming Minimalist- click on over to get more inspiration!
Friday, April 25, 2014
Since the Littles both started school last fall I have found myself with chunks of time on may hands- twice a week I usually have no children for three hours- for this Mom of two very close babies this was a bit unnerving at first- slowly it has become my life raft! I chose the word life raft because that is exactly what it is- a foray back out into the world with out my children by my side- a foray back out into the world as myself. Initially I sat at coffee shops and wistfully watched Mommas stroll by with their toddlers- missing my own wee ones badly. Then I was gently nudged into taking a yoga class once a week- connecting once a week with friends and myself in beauty and quiet was just what I needed.
Recently- with the return of fair weather- this time is being spent venturing further afield on regular outings- lunches- with ladies- also known as Ladies Who Lunch- yeah it's becoming a thing and it's wonderful! Our numbers vary depending on who is available on any given day- the general goal is to source out new spots with yummy new flavour combinations- and coffee- always coffee! How can you go wrong with good friends, good food and really good coffee?
Yesterday was a bit of an impromptu Ladies Who Lunch outing- friend Erin and I hit the sea wall in the sunshine for a brisk walk all the way out to Second Beach in Stanley Park- cutting up through the park into the West End it was decided we needed coffee before picking up Miss Lo. Enter in Greenhorn Cafe- gently nestled in the heart of the West End at 994 Nicola st. While we had visited Greenhorn before neither of us had actually eaten anything more than a scone- so we settled in and stayed a while- soaking up the excellent ambiance all the while indulging in a delicious post walk snack.
Both Erin and I tried the house made daily quiche- bacon and tomato- it did not disappoint! There was much speculating about the quiche crust as it was so tender yet not at all greasy and slightly crispy- in a nutshell it was fantastic. We had to ask what the Greenhorn quiche secret was- turns out it's a fresh homemade tortilla! Ok and the coffee of course needs a shout out- this is by far one of my favourite Lattes in Vancouver- delish!
What we both really like about Greenhorn coffee- beyond the food and coffee is the casual and interesting style- the menu is printed on great rolls of kraft paper- beautiful floral installations abound. Located just a few blocks off bustling Robson street Greenhorn is like a little oasis in the middle of the city- a mixture of all sorts of people from families and dogs to tourists and business type folks- makes for some superior people watching!
Friends it is Friday once again- the sun is shining and my little Miss has her Kindergarten Orientation today- *sob*- my how time flies! This weekend we have birthday parties and book launches and all sorts of wonderful plans with friends! My you all have sunshine on your face and love in your heart! Happy Friday Friends!
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
A little over a week ago my friend Erin invited me to the premier of a documentary called From The Waste Up: Life Without Plastic- a locally made documentary about a handful of families attempting to live plastic free for a year. I was on board- these sounded like my people- anyone asking questions and pushing boundaries- anyone who cares enough to try and instill change in an apathetic world- anyone standing up for the environment- these are my people. And so my friend and I got slightly gussied up- as is our usual modis oporandi- we went and grabbed a glass of wine- bought our sustainable- locally made chocolates and we found our seats in the theatre.
As mentioned From The waste Up: Life Without Plastic follows a handful of folks for a year as they attempt to live plastic free- couples and families alike raise to the challenge of kicking this invasive substance to the curb- searching out alternative solutions to our typical lifestyles. Film maker Taina Uitto has brought to light our addiction to plastic in a very real and down to earth way- as a participant in the project herself she manages to bring a level of humour to a very serious situation.
Post movie I am staring into my fridge looking for something to snack on- I begin to notice just how reliant our family actually is on plastic- I notice the plastic wrap on the giant block of cheese I am hacking away at- I notice the plastic container our leftovers are stacked up in- our fridge is full of plastic. Clearly even this eco friendly- low impact family has a plastic addiction. Clearly the families in the documentary were not in fact my people- clearly they are miles ahead.
When my first baby was born BPA was a prevalent news story- how it was in our environment and affecting our endocrine systems- wrecking havoc on our hormones. I remember diligently sourcing out BPA free sippy cups and silicone eating vessels- but it was still plastic. Our household waste is minimal- or what I thought to be minimal as it is much less than what I have witnessed in other trash situations- we compost- we recycle- we refuse plastic bags when we forget our clothe ones. Still once a week out goes a small bag of plastic- mostly filled with single use food wrappers. Things could be better.
I think the hallmark of a good documentary is to get people thinking and talking- to wake them up out of their apathy and get them moving in a new direction. Every viewer will take something different to heart- have a different standout moment- for me my take away is to simply use less. To refuse single use plastics more often than I all ready do- to consider how my single use convenience item is going to stick around for thousands of years after only a few moments of use- to take baby steps towards our own plastic free life.
Check out Taina's blog Plastic Manners for more plastic free inspiration as well as tips for a plastic free lifestyle. Pop on over to the From The Waste Up: Life Without Plastic Indigogo page- make a donation if you feel so inclined!
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
As we all know by now there really is nothing I enjoy more than a new book- a new book with beautiful drawing is even better! Enter in a freshly illustrated book Half For You and Half For Me - re imagined nursery rhymes by Katherne Govier and illustrated with the whimsical stylings of Sarah Clement. I first met Sarah several years ago and from the very beginning could see something special lurking with in her heart and imagination.
In Sarah's own words:
This is Sarah's first time collaborating with an author on a project like this book- she claims that it pushed her out of her personal art boundaries- such as drawing people- which is something she doesn't do very often. Stylistically the illustrations are very similar to Sarah's previous work but it is clear that she is exploring new processes particularly in backgrounds- the results are beautiful, multi dimensional visual narratives.
I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of what looks to be a lovely little book- perfect to tuck into our travel bag and read in the car or by the shore- at Grandma's house or snuggled around the campfire. This is sure to quickly become a family favourite for the timeless nursery rhymes as much as the haunting illustrations! If you are in the neighbourhood this Saturday be sure to stop by Collage Collage and pick up your own copy of Half For You & Half For Me- be sure to get Sarah to sign it too!
|photo credit: Julie Nicole|
Monday, April 21, 2014
Rarely do we get to spend a holiday weekend at home- and by that I mean our actual home in Vancouver. So for us to be staying in the city over this Easter long weekend was something special indeed- think slow, easy and local. The weather on Friday was spectacular and so we moved the Easter egg dying out into the park with our friends- it was so great seeing what everyone came up with- adults included. Sitting in the sun was nice although it is still a little chilly- warmer days are just around the corner and before you know it we will all be complaining about how hot it is!
Saturday was a bit of a write off as this Momma came down with the stomach bug that was going around- when Momma is down the entire house falls to anarchy apparently. Sunday morning dawned and the Easter bunny managed to make an appearance- after our egg hunt we decided some fresh air was needed. A scoot around Gastown to our new favourite bakery was called for- so over to Cadeaux Bakery we went. This was not the Easter brunch I had planned but sometimes one needs to be flexible- so I conceded all cooking on Easter to someone else- which was actually pretty relaxing.
So our weekend may not have been exactly as imagined once again but both the Littles are happy- Miss Lo just told me she "likes Easter at home" so that's a win in my book. We didn't need to drive any place which is great as The Mr. could relax a bit as well. Our quiet little weekend was just what we needed- besides the stomach bug- next time lets skip the stomach bug!
Friday, April 18, 2014
I will be the first to admit that I am a wee bit obsessed with knitting these little Granny Squares of late- more commonly known as the humble dish cloth- the Granny Square is tradition of church craft sales across this great nation. Insanely useful and utilitarian and usually equally basic and boring. What started the whole thing was a skein of beautiful linen that I was gifted for my birthday- from there I found a fantastic bit of blue silk- yes silk- left over from a project last year- not much left but just enough for a Granny Square!
These little squares are beyond easy- I knit up about five in the past couple of weeks- mindless knitting- perfect for car trips or sitting on the couch with sick kids. So much prettier and softer than a conventional dish cloth- and because of the long sturdy fibres these home knit dish clothes will likely outlast a cheap store bought version. The golden rule I have adapted for my own life "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" William Morris- the golden rule now extends to the kitchen sink.
Here are the most basic directions I came across- all you really need are two sticks ( size 5 or 6 needles) and yarn- your choice of yarn is entirely personal- I happened to have used linen (and silk) because it was on hand and also because it is a sturdy fibre that has a lower impact on the earth. Cotton yarn is the most common choice for this project.
Cast on 4 stitches
Row 1: knit the row
Row 2: knit, 2 YO, knit to the end of the row
Repeat row 2 until there are 44 stitches
- or your dish cloth measures your desired specifications
Next row: knit 1, knit 2tog, YO, knit 2tog, knit to the end of the row
Continue decreasing until you have 4 stitches left and cast off
weave in ends
Friends it is Good Friday today- I love Easter weekend- it feels like Spring is officially here- our city is in full bloom and the air is warming up- truly a season of renewal. We are excited to be celebrating Easter in our own home this year- which for us is rare- we are usually at our parent's homes during most holidays- we are going to cook a special dinner and just spend lots of quiet family time together. Hope your weekends are full of love and chocolate Friends- Happy Friday!
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
One of my favourite spots to visit in the Okanagan is Swan Lake Nursary- they are also a fruit and vegetable stand as well- but my main interest is usually whats going on outside- especially at this time of year! This past weekend we paid a quick visit to stock up on a few essentials- mainly strawberries- but also a few herbs that caught my eye and some bamboo poles for our beans. I was happily surprised at the number of organic seedlings Swan Lake had on offer- I managed to score the last dozen organic Strawberry plants- apparently they are quite the hot commodity! Score one for our mini Urban Homestead!
I feel like our little garden is slowly starting to come together- we have our seedlings gong strong in our window- it's still a bit cool at night to transplant them all outside- but hardier plants like the Strawberries, beans and kale are all snug in their homes outside. Living in the city it can be tricky figuring out what food grows well and what doesn't- we have lived in our current apartment for just over three years and it has taken me this long to establish that tomatoes do not do well on our deck. So our little homestead in the city has a lot of herbs, leafy greens and the aforementioned Strawberries! This year we are also trying Fava beans and onions which I have never grown in a container before- it will be exciting to see how they turn out!.
With in my body beats the heart of a country girl through and through- I long for a piece of land to call my own- but until that day comes I just have to try my best and make due where I can- loosely termed Urban Homesteading. Its interesting to me how this moniker Urban Homesteader has become such a buzz word over the past year or so- referring to anyone who participates in traditional activities relating to the home- growing food, raising chickens, making yogurt, baking bread. I love the groundswell of this movement- how more and more people desire to live in a more environmentally friendly manner. What started out not too long ago as a return to understanding our food source has evolved into something beautiful that we all benefit from- weather we chose to participate or not.
I used to get so frustrated that we were unable to grow the majority of our food- I was frustrated that we didn't have land- these feelings very much prevented me from seeing what our potential was. Living in the city it's easy to have a pot of herbs sitting in the window sill- clipping fresh thyme or rosemary year round instead of buying a plastic clam shell of herbs from the grocery store saves resources and provides a feeling of satisfaction in having grown something. Weather a family does a little or a lot is up to each family- no one can judge- everyone wins. So from my mini Urban Homestead on the eighth floor I will try and remember it's the little drops that all add up to form an ocean- and an ocean of change is exactly what this world needs!
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
This weekend was and wasn't completely perfect- the weather was flawless- our visit was fantastic but The Boy- well he had the stomach flu. So we did what we could to keep him comfortable and in between bouts of sickness the rest of the family had a quiet weekend enjoying the sunshine. Miss Lo thoroughly enjoyed having her Poppa's undivided attention- no brother or cousins to interfere- they went on an adventure just the two of them.
My Mom and I had ample opportunity to visit- touring the garden and checking to see what is coming along- Peachland is several weeks behind Vancouver so while we have had our Spring bulbs blooming at the coast they are only just starting in the Okanagan. In patches along the side of the road my perennial favourite- Arnica- are starting to bloom- those bright yellow daisy type flowers- often called Black Eyed Susans. The lawn is full of shy violets. Sitting with my Mom in the sunshine on the back patio- sipping wine- listening to a neighbour's jam session- talking about my Grandma was the best part of my weekend.
The Boy was upset that he had missed out on all the fun- being sick is no fun at all- he missed out on hot dogs and going to the park- he missed out on playing in the yard- OK well mostly he was sad that he missed out on digging in the dirt. We have plenty more of these weekends planned- school is almost over- it's almost time to hit the road.
I think if having kids has taught me anything it's how to be flexible. We had planned on going up the valley to Vernon to visit the Mr.'s family on Saturday- but with The Boy literally out for the count and unable to move we just had to adapt our plan. Once he was feeling better we did manage to get a visit in with the Mr.'s Mom, Sister, Niece & Partner and our Great Niece- who is turning 1- nothing like a wee babe to make people smile!
At any rate yesterday afternoon we reluctantly packed up the van and turned into the sun as we headed West towards the ocean- home. I know I have said it so often here but I belong to two places- my adopted city that I love so much- full of my life and friends- and the Okanagan- my home- full of my history- my family and the lake that holds my heart. The wonderful thing about trips like this is that either way I am always coming home.
Friday, April 11, 2014
This morning I woke up under a snazzy patch work quilt in my parent's basement- I'm feeling lazy and quiet- the sunshine is slanting in through the blinds- I just want to stay in my pajamas. We are in the Okanagan to celebrate my Grandma Shirley- to say goodby- it's happy and it's sad. It's one of those perfect Okanagan days.
One of my favourite things about coming home is the familiarity- coming off the highway and seeing the lights of Peachland- still able to know who lives in what house- good memories at every turn in the road. The .Mr and I were speculating last night how many times we have made this trip- downtown Vancouver one moment and in quiet Peachland the next- it is on average a 4 hour trip but often it feels like the blink of an eye. Relief is found at the end of the trail when we unfold our bodies out of the car and relax with a glass of fine boxed wine.
Friends it is Friday again- one more day to enter the draw for a signed copy of Rebecca Chaperon's beautiful book Eerie Dearies! I'm going to soak up as much time in the sun with my sister- nieces and even Great Niece! May you have sun on your shoulders and peace in your heart-happy Friday dear Friends!
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
With the arrival of warm weather I am also feeling the return to health for our entire family- while we haven't been too badly ill the persistent runny noses and coughing have left us all feeling a tad drained. I have finally returned to my regular yoga practice and have started running again- I'm feeling strong. With this feeling of good health it is only natural that I want to fill our tummies with good fuel- not too much sugar- but still something that passes as a treat- enter in this yummy Spelt muffin recipe that is our new go- to snack.
2 cups Spelt flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
A pinch of salt
1 cup Maple Syrup
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Vanilla
Alternatively add in
- 1 cup of diced apple
- 1 cup blue berries
-1 cup chocolate chips
-Set oven at 350 for baking- line muffin tins with paper cups or set up silicon baking cups
-Combine dry ingredients in one bowl
-Combine wet ingredients in another bowl- once well mixed add into dry mixture
-Once muffin mixture is well combined add in your choice of extras- blueberries are my favourite at this time of year!
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned on top
Monday, April 7, 2014
Some weekends are just too lazy to even talk about- weekends that are decadent with the sleeping in, doing nothing and large amounts of coffee. Puttering about if you will. That is exactly what this weekend was to us- we played with friends, read books, built a huge blanket fort out in the hallway- and ate hot dogs outside- it was exactly what we needed. Small projects were wrapped up- bed rooms cleaned out- preparations for a much busier time were begun.
You see looking at the calender it is clear that the next few months- through well into July- will be jam packed with travel, parties and other such goodness. Camping season is right around the corner which means busy weekends where we just need to grab our camping gear and go. Beach days are also right around the corner- goggles must be located and swim trunks must be tried on. Birthday season- yeah it never ends but just gets busier- the Birthday box needs to be sorted and restocked. If all these easy tasks are taken care of now- our lives will be so much smoother when it's crunch time! Now is that time.
So in preparation for this busy time we spent this one last weekend sticking close to home- getting these little projects sorted out- taking care of business if you will. Lots of extra stuff that we have outgrown is now in the give away pile- my Littles are mid growth spurt again- some toys broken or forgotten about- I have too many magazines than I do time to read- The Mr is a gerbil with his paper collection- all this needed to go. Living in a small space with four people- and struggling to make it work has given us all a new appreciation of less is more. As my word for the year clearly states- we are making our life SIMPLE!
I love the quiet time of winter- tucking in while the rain lashes against the windows- the Littles happily indulging in hours of Lego- hot coffee in my hand- knitting at my side- I love those times. Now is the time when not only is the earth waking up but so too is my creative soul- I am getting itchy to create again- I am excited to watch my garden grow- I am excited to stretch our legs at the beach. So I enjoyed this past- final- quiet weekend- enjoyed the hours of coffee with a book in my hand. I will hold the memory of our first outside meal of this year close as we spend more and more of our time outside on the porch. Goodbye quiet times- Hello Spring!
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Recently Miss Lo and I met with our dear friend Rebecca Chaperon at one of our favourite Gastown spots- Nelson The Seagull- purveyors of fine hot chocolate and coffee. We sat down for a little catch up and chat- it was inevitable that our shared love of art would come up in conversation- mainly Rebecca's exciting new alphabet book- Eerie Dearies- 26 Ways To Miss School. It is so fantastic to see a friend do so well and watch her project come to fruition over the past couple of years- from drawings and paintings to finished product.
I have long been a huge fan of Rebecca's work- her early robots on deserted islands stand out as some of my all time favourites. Her new work is no exception- her use of colour is haunting- her subject matter walking the fine line between innocence and slightly dodgy- wayward excuses to be absent from school. Rebecca has been kind enough to offer a signed copy of her beautiful collection of 26 illustrations- to one lucky Weekdays From Scratch reader. A handful of other goodies - postcards and two signed letter prints will accompany Eerie Dearies- what a special bundle!
Rebecca's website is also a treat- pop on over to have a look through her wonderful online shop- full of wee ice bergs- and her blog to follow what other special things she is up to- including a look at her wonderful new works! To enter into the draw simply click on the rafflecopter below and enter as many times as you can- be sure to follow Rebecca on Twitter for an easy entry!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
The other day I posted a picture on Facebook of some baking in action along with the long list of edible goods that I had made in an afternoon- I know everyone who saw that picture thinks that I am some sort of crazy kitchen witch. It was definitely a weekend from scratch- the weather was dismal- my kids were playing video games and I took advantage of a couple of hours to get ahead of the lunch situation for the coming week. Did you read that right? My kids were playing video games! I often get asked how I do all this ... stuff (for lack of a better word) and some times what is missing from the picture you see here is the video games, the TV, the messy house, ect.
So I thought I would give you a sneak peek into what our weekends actually really look like- starting with my favourite day of the week. Friday night we can usually be found at what the neighbours and I have started calling the "Hall Party"- every Friday afternoon parents on our floor throw open our doors and the kids start to run from one apartment to another playing- the Moms for the most part can be found drinking wine- checking in on some of the little Littles but for the most part leaving them to their own devices. Dinner for our family on Fridays is usually either scrambled organic eggs and toasted homemade bread or pizza from scratch (recipe here)- followed by more wine- of course.
Saturday morning finds Mama with a large bowl of coffee lounging in front of the local news for far too long. We usually like to pay a visit to our local Farmers Market- as discussed many, many times here! I love a good grocery shop to the Farmers Market- but equally important for a lot of our staples is our twice monthly trip to Costco- they have great organics and are conveniently located right up the street from our house. Once the food has been taken care of we usually try for some outdoor time- in warmer weather this is never an issue- heading to the beach or one of the many trails in our area. always more coffee for me in hand- always.
Sundays are my time to work- I like to get a head start on the week- baking any bread we might need and getting the yogurt started. This all sounds like a lot of work but it really is not- I bake cookies while the bread is rising- the oven is the perfect temperature by the time the bread has risen for the second time. The yogurt just needs to be occasionally stirred on the stove and then jarred and put in the cooler over night- easy peasy. The granola bars are a must- I cant even handle thinking about all the wrappers that get thrown away in a school year- so home made it is. Lets also mention what is going on in the back ground here- again my kids are probably playing video games- not a beautiful, quiet, felted board game in sight. And it's loud- someone is usually getting hit over the head with a controller- lets be real here life is messy and loud.
As you can see there really is nothing amazing about our weekends- occasionally we find ourselves in a magical spot in a forest or on a beach- more often than not its just real life with kids fighting while I try and find sanity in the kitchen. Often times what you see on a blog is only a snippet of real life- because really who is interested in reading about my kids fighting over what Skylander is put on the portal? Who is interested in my heaping piles of dishes? Where the magic can be found is that we are together- my kids might be fighting but they are doing it together- I am in the kitchen and the Mr. is probably still working on a Lego project abandoned hours ago by The Boy. The magic is in the yelling. The magic is in the giggles. The magic is in the scrambled eggs.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.