Monday, June 30, 2014

Away We Go

          This morning I am waking up once again in my old bed room in my parent's basement- it is so familiar- something I have done for almost twenty five years in this house. We are in the Okanagan for our annual family vacation - this trip is special in that we are here for over two weeks- and the Mr. is with us! As a family this is our first long Summer vacation together and we are loving every moment of it thus far.

       I have a hefty bucket list of fun things to tackle these next couple of weeks- most definitely lots of time spent at the lake in the sunshine- but also some quiet alone time laying in the shade and dreaming- lots of space for dreaming- and planning- imagining. Quiet time with space is something as a Mother and individual- need and crave- something that living in our small space I rarely get. I do my best planning out of projects when I have moments of quiet- otherwise these ideas just float about in the back of my mind- often getting crowed out by everyday things.

     So I am taking advantage of all this time we have- time as a family and time to myself. Looking forward to seeing so many dear old friends and of course seeing the cousins more than we possibly can imagine! When all is said and done these connections to our loved ones and to the land we love is really all we have- it's all that is really important- and these next two weeks are a bit like winning the lottery for me. And although love alone may not pay the bills it surely pays something even greater and for that I am ever so grateful!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Solstice at Spanish Banks

         To me the Summer Solstice or longest day of the year is the actual and true start to my year- it's the time when I feel myself coming alive again after months of rain induced hibernation. The sun is at it's peak and energy flows through my body- it's when I am most productive as an artist. It's only natural then that I am drawn to a place of magic to celebrate this most magical of days. Just as the veil is at it's thinest during the Winter Solstice so to the ancient power of nature is felt on the longest day of the year- a bit too Pagan for some folks I suppose but in a world where little magic exists we need all we can get!

        And so the longest day of the year found our wee family out at Spanish Banks on blankets and chairs- running through grass and feasting with a gathering of friends. Wind burned and sun swept it was the perfect way to spend the day! It was so wonderful to connect with old friends and make a few new ones- see our big kids running up and down the field chasing the soccer ball- watching the newest batch of wee babes explore their world with laughs and giggles.

          Of course a fair amount of time was spent down by the ocean as well- collecting- it was a day for sea glass- any day I am payed in sea glass and shells is a good day in my books! Our children are becoming feral this Summer- they are finally old enough where I can step even further back- settling in with a book while keeping one eye on their play. Not too long ago they were the wee babes up on the blankets in the shade- now they run barefoot over rocks- searching for secret passages and treasure. Time it seems is moving too fast for my taste.

        Watching the sun set that evening our Boy crossed an item off his Summer bucket list- to stay up late enough to watch the sun set- check done. As we sat at our favourite spot down on the beach The Mr. and I chatted while the Littles played around- we reminisced about all the times at this spot with friends over the years- so grateful for the ones we had seen that day- and missing the ones far away. We have been coming to this beautiful place for over twelve years together now- it's always been a magical place- far enough away from the city to bring peace and contentment to our hearts- time and again this place heals the soul- magic.

Friday, June 20, 2014

End of The School Year

          Here in British Columbia our school year ended much more quickly than we anticipated- our Teachers and our Government have come to a standstill in negotiations over job contracts which has resulted in a full scale strike. I know for many of my readers this is not news- we are in the same boat- school has ended two weeks early. As a first time school Mum I am a little sad- Kindergarten is special and friendships tenuous. Our Littles don't really understand what "job action" and "locked out" means- all they know is that school is finished and all their fun plans for the year end cancelled.

       Now I'm not going to get into a debate here in this space on the rights and wrongs of this whole situation- what I am trying to convey and search out is the good in this entire mess. There is good to be found at least from my point of view- then again I am Mum to a Kindergarten child and not a Grad- and then again I can always find a silver lining in nearly ever cloud.

     For me- I have missed my boy so much over the past year- I have missed having him as my constant shadow- my helper in all things I am trying to do.  I found the transition from Pre-school to Kindergarten very difficult- I actually really like spending time with my kids and I was left at loose ends last September when full time school started. For me I am secretly happy he is home- happy my Gal is still in school for another week (Pre school is private and there for not on strike) and I get a whole lot of extra time spent with my boy- just him and I!

         So of course to the beach we go- meeting up with friends along the way- an all boys outting- the Mums are just casual observers who happen to be sitting close by. Watching my boy I can see the subtle changes that have occurred over the past ten months- aside from the growth spurt- I can see how he has grown mentally- thinking not like a pre schooler but more like a big kid. He is no longer quite so quick to anger- working out disputes on his own- most of the time. A keen interest in electronics and gadgets and how they work is clear as he tails some bigger boys down the beach- they have a metal detector and are on a treasure hunt. I love listening to him and hearing his view of things- this too has changed over the past year- he speaks and thinks on his own now.

          I'm taking this whole job action in stride- it is what it is- a dispute between employees and their employers- nothing I say or do will hurry the process along- and at this point in our school year it would just confuse our kiddo if they headed back into the classroom. It is sad that his Kindergarten year happened to end on a total flat note- he missed out on the excitement of the last day of school.  As a parent all we can do is hope that a compromise is found before next Fall- that going forward we will all be back in the classroom- it's what the Teachers want- it's what we all want. Mean while there is the beach and a world of classroom at our feet for the Summer!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thrifted Thursday

       I wasn't going to do a Thrifted Thursday today- I already posted my thrifted pic to Instagram- then I realized how could I not post this picture! The longer I look at it the longer I feel time shifting to 1994- the year I graduated and my actual life began- in fits and starts but it did begin the moment I walked across that stage. I carried almost this exact bag for all of my Grade 12 year- I carried it that morning to my Grad ceremony and then later that night to a crazy bush party- yeah thats a thing in rural British Columbia- bush parties yeash! I more than likely was also wearing my favourite pair of Birkenstock sandals- only because it was either that or my well worn Doc Martens- which was unlikely in June.

     I have spent all of my years carrying my life in some sort of bag on my back or on my shoulders- usually too much stuff- a heavy sketch book or novel is usually in the mix- consistently this has been the case since I was a child. The miles I have traveled since I was eighteen are too many to count- but still I walk in well worn Birkenstocks carrying my too heavy bag of tricks. Reluctant to let too much go.

     So this Thrifted Thursday is an ode to my eighteen year old self- funny how as much as most things change many really don't change at all- including but not limited to my choice in footwear and bags- my Gypsy lifestyle- my love of the beach and all things water related. If I could go back and talk to eighteen year old me I wonder what I would say- all the warnings I would give should go ungiven because with out mistakes made I would not be where or who I am today. Perhaps I would just tell he "everything is going to be OK". So cliche perhaps but twenty years out I am more than fine with what I have turned out to be- I'm still eighteen- I still have no idea what the heck is going on- and I'm OK with that!

P.S. To all the Grads of 1994- they said this day would come- in the Valedictorian speeches made across Canada they spoke of our future and how one day WE would be in charge- that day is now! How does it feel?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Plain Jane Studio Update

         I have been spending a tonne of time outdoors as of late- mostly at the beach- which is pretty natural considering how spoiled we are out on the West Coast- it makes up for the endless weeks of rain in the winter. There really is nothing quite like an entire day spent on the beach- surrounded by blue- skies and water. So it only makes sense that this colour has followed me home and into the studio!

        Loads of new items are finally making their way onto the virtual shelves of my Plain Jane Etsy shop- these wee Wabi Sabi quilted hot mits are among my favourites I think! I am getting excited not only about colour but about quilting as well- piecing those little gems together makes my heart sing!

          A few weeks ago I started my indigo vat and it was life changing- I've taken some of that lovely hand dyed indigo fabric and quilted it into these great little one off throw pillows. I only have one in the shop currently due to popular demand (ahem) but more will be online soon- along with a much bigger project that I am swooning over- and possibly panicking about. I'm working on a full sized pieced quilt- I've been working with other natural dyes and can't wait to see how it all starts coming together!

          Studio work not with standing I am actually heading out on vacation soon- two glorious weeks in the Okanagan- we all can't wait to be under those clear skies- floating in the lake. So this next week I will be wrapping up a few custom orders- getting things all tied up before hitting the road. Of course being on vacation doesn't mean idleness - I'm looking forward to working on my quilt- perhaps getting some expert help from my Mom who is my quilting Guru!

          As a painter my surroundings always influenced my pallet- how could it not? Now as a fibre artist I find myself drawn once again to nature for inspiration- the colours naturally lending themselves to quilting and natural dyes. I'm finding myself charged and often with out enough hours in the day- as we head towards the longest day of the year I'm honouring the natural rhythm of the season- working as much as I can and soaking it all in!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


"Now all you can do is wait. It must be hard for you, but there is a right time for everything. Like the 
ebb and flow of tides. No one can do anything to change them. When it is time to wait, you must wait."

Haruki Murakami

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Focus On : Artist Amber MacGregor

        Recently I had the opportunity to have a virtual chat with Victoria artist Amber MacGregor- painter, portrait artist, moon gazer and digital collage master - she is an artistic force to be reckoned with. In addition to managing her own career as an artist Amber also lends her Social Media talent to a number of additional projects including her online Collective- The Golden Goose.  In an ideal word we would be sitting down at the same table with a cup of coffee- so imagine this is the case and pull up a spot at the table for our chat on art and most importantly favourite art supplies!

WDFS - I love that your love of nature comes shining through in your work- be
it a detailed painting of a moth or the moon  or the natural light on a
portrait subject's hair. What is your relationship with the natural world? 

AM- Being a city girl, I've always been in awe of nature, though I'd have to say it's sort of a fearful awe.  I think I should spend much more time out in it, and have been trying to lately. I think getting out into the natural world is the most beautiful experience there is, I love plants and trees, and so many creatures and water and of course our stately Queen the Moon.

WDFS- What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing our earth? 

AM- I would have to say humans are the biggest challenge facing the earth, but I also hope that we will adopt new ways of doing things and help to save her from our own idiocy. It's tough because convenience has become so important in our fast paced lives, and people worry so much about the economy and making ends meet that they don't take into account all of the things that they do every day that are damaging to our planet on some level. From the clothes we buy that are dyed in chemicals to the little packets of snacks we purchase for our kids, that end up on the playground and eventually in the ocean or eaten by birds. In my art practise I even consider the impact of my supplies. I work in acrylic which is a plastic polymer. That's a big issue for me, sometimes I wish I had never learned to paint in acrylic. I do my best to make sure none of my paint gets into the water system along with some very nasty chemical compounds, but in the long run I will have to use up my paint and move on to another medium like watercolour or sewing. I figure I'm just going to have to learn some new skills and that isn't a bad thing just an evolution of my art practise.

WDFS- Which artists would you say have been the biggest influence on your
work- how and why? 

AM- Wow, that's a hard one because I find so many artists influential. My early influences were definitely Gustav Klimt, and Alphonse Mucha both used a highly stylized and decorative approach to their work that I still find fascinating. I did a lot of work looking at Velasquez and the Pre-Raphaelites when I was younger because I have a deep love of figurative work. I would have to say that lately I am finding so many artists fascinating in so many mediums that it's hard to keep track sometimes. I've been looking at the paintings of Henning Kles lately which have an eerie magical quality and the video work of Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, which have a similar ghostly feeling I am trying to emulate. I also really love the work of Hanneline Rogeberg, Edith Lebeau, Mimi Kirchner, and Andrea Couch. The thing that what got me started on my current Moon phase was an amazing piece by Michelle Holmes who is an incredible fabric artist from England that I came across by chance on Facebook.

WDFS- Because I am still an art supply nerd at heart what are your favourite
materials to work in? Anything different you might like to try?

AM- I'm a total art supply nerd too. I'm sure that comes of working at an art supply store for years no? I really love all the things you can do with acrylic mediums and paints but I am trying to get away from those and move into some more eco friendly options. I really love the colour choices in Daniel Smith watercolours they have some amazing iridescents which appeal to my magpie sensibilities. I also love papers, especially printmaking and watercolour papers, I am getting into painting on them a bit more lately too, some really nice ones are Waterford and that lovely pale blue Stonehenge paper. You know I could go on all day, so I'll just stop there.

WDFS- I know you run several artist Social Media pages including your own-
what role do you think social media now plays in fine arts?

AM-I think that it's great that artists can get their work out there on their own. So many artists are shy people who find it difficult to approach galleries or maneuver through the social scene of the Art World in such a way that they can find their niche, find clients or make sales in that way. I think that the internet and social media have really helped to open up the whole scene to new artists who would be really hard to find otherwise. It also makes it possible to live just about anywhere and find an audience for your work in any other place that your media can reach via computer. I find it really fun to make artist pages and organize websites and things like that it's a whole other side of my art practise that I appreciate for it's visual appeal as well as knowing it's information and images that I can pass on out there into the world.

   If you are interested in seeing more of Amber's beautiful work be sure to check out her website and blog www.ambermacgregor-artist.ca as well as her fun and crafty Etsy collective- The Golden Goose Collective! Thank you Amber for giving us a peek into what makes you tick and such beautiful work happen!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014



To achieve the
desired blue

the cloth had to
be lifted in
and out of the vats

in the heat
of India, Nigeria
or Thailand

Indigo- you used
to wear that deep- dyed hue,
it suited you

a blue as
deep as your eyes,

the lashes a flight of geese
on the last stripe of blue as the
sky plunges towards night.

Barbara Strang.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Here We Stay

          This weekend flew by in the blink of an eye- so filled with good things that didn't have much to do with one another yet did completely- we spent the entire weekend pretty much immersed in creativity- what balm for the soul. After a full day at the outdoor pool on Friday we were all looking to stay out of the sun a little bit- or at least not be in the direct sun all day long. Enter in the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire- which the Mr. had been jonesing to go to since he heard about it last year. Tickets in hand we made our way to the PNE Forum and stepped into a world where the kids could touch pretty much anything and no question was looked down upon.

       In a nut shell the Mini Maker Faire is a place where people can show off what they are making and innovating- what they are learning- from tech geeks to crafters and engineers- artists and musicians. "Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth – a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. " Maker Faire Web site.

           Sunday brought about a burst of creativity in our household- obviously inspired by the previous day's outing- The Littles immediately got to work making things as soon as they woke up- The Boy making a blinky LED magnet that is controlled by the remote- Miss Lo a felted mushroom. It is so rad to see the kids get passionate about something- see an idea catch with them and the spark ignite- it's amazing really! The only issue now remains that we have four people- with hobbies- living in a small apartment- we will figure it out- needless to say things will get crowded!

         My treat- my me time- the event I have been looking forward to for weeks was to pop in to the final day at Le Marche's Summer Camp pop up shop- I was not disappointed- it was beautiful. I had hoped to get my hands on a few of Janaki Larson's small bowls but they were sold out- next time I will have to go on the first day and not the last. Miss Lo and I took our time carefully examining all the beautiful goods selected for the pop up shop- latte in hand it was a moment of beauty and quiet with my girly!

         To round out the weekend we swung by our favourite Earnest Ice Cream for some Salted Caramel- perfect to go with our dinner of ribs, corn and asparagus- all BBQ ed outside on a perfect Spring day. This is the cutest ice cream parlor in town and F.Y.I they are making Lemon Meringue Sundaes- you can be sure I will be going back for one of those sans kids!

         So here we are on Monday morning dear Friends- facing down another week- possibly our final school week of the season- our teachers will put that to the vote on Tuesday. I have a list as long as my arm of things to do today but for right now I am going to pour myself another coffee- head out onto the deck and peak at the mountains and blue skies between the buildings.

Friday, June 6, 2014

In The Kitchen: Chive Vinegar

       Last week a couple of  friends posted enticing photos in their Instagram feeds of some lovely looking Chive Vinegar that they were brewing up- I was instantly intrigued by this pretty pinkish concoction. Fate always has a way of stepping in for me and giving me what I need and last weekend was no different- we arrived at my parent's house where the chives were in full bloom- thank you fate- or nature- whatever- at any rate I had access to an abundance of chive heads- so I thought I would try this pretty Spring treat.


1 1/2 cups of Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups of chive heads- snipped right at the base
a mason jar or two
parchment paper


- warm the vinegar in a small sauce pan- do not let it boil- you want the warm vinegar to bring out the flavour

-rinse the chive heads in cool water to dispel any garden creatures hitching a ride- gently wash

- place the flowers into the jars- pack them in

- pour warm vinegar over the flowers and allow to cool

- place the parchment paper over the mouth of the jar before screwing on the lid- the metal will make your lovely vinegar taste terrible

-place in a cool spot and allow to steep for a week or two

- use in tasty Summer vinaigrettes or even on fish and chips- adding a slight onion taste to any dish

- Thank you to both Carie and Michelle for their inspiration- my salads thank you as do my fries!

          Friends it is Friday again- we have a busy weekend packed full of Birthday parties and Farmers Marketing! Today we have no school and so we are celebrating the wonderful weather by heading out to our favourite outdoor pool for the first time this season! Hooray! Much peace and love Friends- Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Studio Update

              I have been very busy in the studio as of late- often what gets sewn up doesn't make it to my Etsy shop- selling out before hitting the virtual shelves- my shop these days is looking a little bare to say the least. So I finally have gotten to a place where I have a few new items to post in my Plain Jane Etsy shop- which I will be doing later this afternoon! It's easy to become inspired when the weather is so lovely- creating these sweet little hot weather tops- mainly with my own girly in mind- she wants clothes that she can play in- things she can be a little girl in.

        I'm really excited to be offering two styles of tops right now for little Miss'- sweet and swingy- perfect for picking flowers in Momo's garden! The cap sleeve top pictured above is one of Miss Lo's favourites- easy to wear like a t-shirt but with enough feminine flare to satisfy any four year old. As she says it's like wearing a dress but not- perfect for an active gal who has mountains to climb! I love this little top so much- sewn out of natural linen on top and adorable organic cotton print on the bottom.

        Of course our favourite hot weather criss cross top is back- this time in two prints- one with a totally vintage print- a sweet vintage floral print- these are actually sense from vintage sheets! I have two of these bright tops left- they went fast- one small and one large. The second criss cross swing top is sewn from hand dyed indigo fabric- this is my new passion- I am a bit indigo crazy these days- everything indigo! Organic cotton gets a hit of blue and is the perfect weight for hot weather- easy Summer dressing for wee gals!

          I have so many other exciting and half finished projects hanging about in the studio- I am hoping to have them wrapped up soon and out on the shelves of my Etsy shop. I find the creative process for me is a bit like a spider web- one idea begets another and away I go- leaving a string of half finished projects in my wake. My current goal is to reign in my focus and to actually complete more things- to get them out for sale!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Away We Go

           This past weekend found our little family on the road again- heading out of town early Friday morning we quickly left the city behind- coming to the place where spaces grow larger in between. Finding that space and breathing room is something we all cherish- our neighbourhood is so full- packed with life- which we love- most of the time. We always arrive at a tipping point where we need to seek out that space- to carve out a little quiet- to touch the earth and gather it's magic.

        Plenty of these spaces in between exist- a person just needs to know where to look- for myself I find these pockets of quiet in the early morning garden- listening to the buzz of the earth- watching the sun slant through the young garlic plants. I find these spaces down at the lake- where my childhood lurks behind every Willow Tree- where I can see the roll of the mountains behind closed eyes- I know them just that well.

        I hope for my city kids that giving them this time will keep them grounded- keep them in touch with the sacred bond of nature- help them to grow into protectors of the earth. I can see as they grow they need this time more and more- time to stretch their limbs and run unsupervised- time to poke at dead fish with a stick- time to make mud and throw rocks- all seemingly unsupervised- with out adults breathing down their necks. I hope to give our city kids a little bit of what I had as a kid when life was so easy and children could be fierce! Going  home gives us all something that our souls need- something to fill us up till the next time!