Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Maker Series: Draw Me A Lion

         Hi Friends! One of the things I love best in life is discovering wonderful artists- makers- creators- and the sharing them with everyone I possibly can. With this in mind I decided this year with the run up to the Holidays to feature some of our favourite local makers- folks living and working in British Columbia- making a living form scratch- doing what they love. When shopping for Birthday or Holiday gifts these are the folks I go to time and again for gift giving- I love giving well crafted- lovingly made goods and I like to try and keep it as local as I possibly can. Many of the folks featured here in the coming weeks will be familiar to friends and family- like today's feature on Draw Me A Lion- seriously my favourite go- to gifts made by one of my favourite people!

     Of course I had to ask Draw Me A Lion owner and operator Lisa Cinar the obvious questions- what is her inspiration and the drive behind her brand as I like to know what makes people tick. Lisa was gracious enough to share some insight into her process as well as lots of lovely festive images- getting me excited for Christmas creating- bring on the dancing trees!

Q: What is Draw Me A Lion all about?

A: I have always loved to draw and create things. I had written and illustrated a couple of children's picture books with a local publisher and thought to myself, wouldn't it be nice to become my own little publisher of fun things? ... I had always had the idea in the back of my head, but it took a while for me to realize what exactly it was that I wanted to create. 

           Today I make everything from greeting cards, to wall-prints, pins and of course one of my favourite parts ... tons of colouring items. I especially love the activity-involved items like the Colouring Posters, Mask Colouring Books and the new Ornament Postcard Booklet because I think of them as a collaborations – the final object is created only once the receiver of the item has coloured it and made it theirs. 

            Everything at Draw Me A Lion is drawn, designed and assembled by me here in my little studio and printed locally. I love creating items that make other people happy and It's a fantastic feeling to see your own creations on the shelves of some of the best local stores. It's quite fun to see my studio space shrink-and-shrink as I create more-and-more items that my online-shop has in stock. 

 Q: What inspires you? 

A: My childhood has always inspired me. It's when I first started to be creative and I have the good fortune of having a stack of drawings I did when I was a kid that my Mom wisely saved for me. Sometimes when I feel un-inspired I like to look at them. It always helps me get in touch with that wondrous-magical-feeling you can get when you have a blank sheet of paper and realize that you could draw anything. Something else that always inspires me is drawing with kids. I think that all kids are by nature incredibly creative, spontaneous and free in their drawings and we adults have tons to learn from them. 

           My style of illustration for Draw Me A Lion is very much about this free spontaneous line quality that is much more about expressing a feeling and having a drawing look-alive rather than focusing on technical accuracy. It's no big surprise that a lot of my favourite artist and illustrators have illustrated and written childrens picture books. Some of them are Tove Janson, Joann Sfar and Marc Boutavant. However I am also a huge fan of Alexander Calder and Marc Chagall, two fine artist who's work also often references childhood.

         Be sure to join Lisa to celebrate Draw Me A Lion's 3rd Birthday this coming Saturday - Nov 1-at Collage Collage- noon till 2pm! Draw Me A Lion can also be found at a number of upcoming markets in and around Vancouver first up November 29 at the Annual Strathcona Craft Fair- always a great market with a killer bake sale! Followed by the cult classic TOUQUE at the Western Front December 5 & 6 as well as Got Craft December 13 &14. With plenty of opportunity to stock up on Draw Me A Lion goodies be sure not to miss out on meeting Lisa in person- you will walk away with some creative gifts and surely a smile on your face- she's contagious like that!

P.S.- just a trip- Draw Me A Lion makes so many wonderful things that are perfect for popping in the post- flat and easy to mail- our favourite is the Mask book!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rhythm of The Weekend

          This past weekend found me with three entire days to myself- well sort of- to rewind back to the beginning. Friday was a professional development day in our school district- so the Littles had the day off school- we started out with a family breakfast at our new favourite neighbourhood bakery- Pure Breads- yummo! Once everyone was fully fortified with treats- Momma and Pops well caffeinated- I loaded up my wee family and sent them on their way to the Okanagan- the Mr. included- off for a weekend of corn mazes and pumpkin partying! Aside from work- I had the weekend to myself- something that hasn't happened in years!

          While I of course missed them terribly I was so happy to have the time to tackle my to do list- a pile of mending and a stack of fresh fabric that had been calling my name since late August. This wee little smock top was a custom order for my own wee girly- she had picked this fabric out at Spool Of Thread way back in the summer and I knew how excited she would be to come home to a new frock hanging in the closet.

          I love being a part of the family unit- being a Momma was all I have ever wanted to be- that said I am also a person who craves solidarity- I actually enjoy doing things on my own. Sitting at my sewing machine with Pearl Jam cranked on the stereo I was in my element- I sewed through dinner time- I sewed right through bed time- I sewed well into the evening! When all was said and done I had a new small frock for Miss Lo, two pairs of panama pants for The Boy and a stack of mended garments- a sense of accomplishment and a well deserved beverage!

         Upon their arrival home my Littles gleefully regaled me with stories of the weekend- showing me all their treats from the weekend- new french books, crafts from the corn maze, carved pumpkins and creepy headbands. When they finally started unwinding and headed into their room- both kiddos were back in a flash- The Boy so excited to have his favourite pants back in action and my girl so excited about a new frock to wear on Monday!

         Since Momma has gone back to work we have all had to adjust a bit- my Mr. doing more than his fair share around the house- my Littles trying their hardest to help Daddy. It's hard for them to understand why I have to miss out on things like this little road trip- but they are doing their best. I know it is so important for me to have that time for myself- and I can see how the loosening of apron strings in benefiting my children. It's different yes but oh so good!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In The Nest

            The cold weather arrived with a gust the other night- actually several gusts- all night long- our first real storm of the season sent umbrellas inside out and patio furniture scattering. I am feeling that once the clouds part we will see snow dusting the North Shore mountains- it's just that time of the year. With the less than delightful weather I have been pushing myself to stay active outside- which can be tricky because I would rather spend my winter curled up in the corner of the sofa next to my knitting basket.

           So much can be said about self care and for me it is so easy to just hibernate- spend my days inside where it is warm and dry- my inner bear really likes this behaviour. I've been around this old sun enough times to know better though- my mental health is always better when I am breathing the fresh air and stretching my legs. Striving to find that balance between the cozy nest that is our home and the bracing elements which always give me a clearer head is hard and something that does not come easily to me.

           My new goal or challenge every week this winter is to document the delightful surprises I find on my urban hikes- juxtapose them against the splendid coziness of home and be celebrate the extreme differences. To be honest this little challenge will not be all that hard- not only do we live in a beautiful place but lets be honest the elements in Vancouver are not all that harsh! A fun game I will make of it all indeed- tricking myself into a fun fall adventure!

           As the days get darker and the earth starts to fall into slumber I notice like most animals our family wants to tuck into home more and more- drawing in closer to the light. I love this time of year-  when the veil is thin- this is truly the season for relaxing- slumbering and recharging.  I'm bringing lots of yummy textures into our living space- warm, nubby blankets from Mexico- fuzzy pillows- of course the lovely texture in my knitting basket- all encouraging us to cozy into our den.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Deep Thoughts

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift
and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honours the servant 
and has forgotten the gift.

                                                                                                        Albert Einstein       

Monday, October 20, 2014

Simple Sewing

              The other day I had a few hours and two meters of fabric on my hands so I decided to do something completely radical- sew something for myself! Shocking! I haven't done much sewing for myself in quite sometime as my Littles grow so quickly and constantly seem to be in need of longer garments on a constant basis. So this fall I decided to make my own wardrobe a priority and jumped in with this easy little tunic from one of my favourite Japanese sewing books Simple Modern Sewing.

          What I like about this book is as per the title the items are simple and basic- just what I need in my day to day life. While the fabric and styling may be cute I can bring in little details like the ceramic flower button to make things a bit more interesting- this fabric has an interesting texture to it so I really didn't want to overwhelm that.

             Aside from the patterns this book is so well styled and a pleasure to look at for leisure- lots of great wardrobe building tips- in a restrained manner- not too much but just enough. I am working to build a uniform or look for myself- something I can just throw on at a moments notice and not really think about- this top fits the guild lines I have set for myself. Simple Modern Sewing- great basics!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pumpkin Patch

           Today- instead of another Thrifted Thursday- I thought I would change things up a bit and bring you highlights of the most adorable and soaking wet field trip to the pumpkin patch! All three kindergarten classes from our school boarded yellow school buses first thing in the morning and headed out of town to Westham Island Herb Farm. For a group of city kids the bus ride - on an actual school bus- was exciting on it's own and they were all in the highest of spirits by the time they reached the farm.

        We were all treated to a tour of the farm with one of the farmers leading a conversation on food that they grow on the farm- including talking about where our hamburgers come from while standing in front of the cow. While this may seem a bit harsh and possibly upsetting it is important for kids to know where their food comes from and see the face of what they might be eating- all the kids took it in stride and most seemed to know the facts already. We visited the chickens, donkeys, goats and more cows- which they all loved.

        It may have been pouring rain but everyone had a great time- these are Vancouver kids after all- they were all well kitted out in full rain gear- ready for anything. After our tour and a quick lunch break in the green house we headed out to the fields to find the perfect pumpkin! With an entire field to choose from the pickings were abundant and it was difficult to chose just one! Miss Lo managed to narrow it down and found a pumpkin she declares will make the perfect jack o lantern- Halloween is only a few weeks away!

         Westham Island Herb Farm is such a grew place for a day trip- close by the Rifle Bird Sanctuary we were treated to flocks of geese stopping over for a break- the giant formations filling the steely grey sky. There is history here as well- a long tradition of feeding British Columbians as a former supplier of potatoes to White Spot Restaurants.

          This was my first pumpkin patch trip- I missed out on going last year with The Boy as tiny siblings were not invited along. Although it was possibly the wettest day we have seen so far this fall it was still filled with laughter, fun, lots of mud and puddle jumping as well as making new friends. It was so great to see my girl with her little kindergarten friends- at one point they all were giving group hugs- they are just so happy! With that kind of joy it is tough to feel crabby about the weather!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Studio Wednesday

          I have been thinking a lot about where I come from as of late- thinking about connections with the earth and my ancestors- thinking a lot about these ladies pictured above- my Grandma- Great Aunt and a long forgotten cousin. Young women posing by the lake and in their Sunday best- familiar faces yet totally a mystery at the same time. They are part of a life I have very little connection to- life on the prairies- on a farm- before- during and after the Depression.

          In the studio I am starting to explore their lives- explore ties to a farm and land I have never visited yet feel strangely connected to.  I am bungling my way through working with encaustic again this week- enjoying the physical act of scraping back more so than building up layers. Loving how the wax reminds me of layers of prairie sky- creating depth by working the under painting in oil and graphite- honest materials for a more basic and possibly more honest imagery.

         So much about this life of my own amazes me- the fact that I can "play around" in the studio where only a few generations ago my family was working to eat- literally farm to table. The pretension that surrounds much of what I do does not go unnoticed- the shear luxury I have to pursue this life as an artist. Yet the connection between my Grandmother and art is strong and the reason I am who I am- she gave me my first set of oil paints for my eight birthday- she was a painter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rhythm of the Weekend

           These days our weekends are much different than what we are used to- with this Momma returning to work I have had to let go- a tonne- let go of my preconceived notions of a clean kitchen- let go of brushed hair and mostly let go of our glorious time spent exploring and wondering together as a family. I miss our weekends of exploring- that said we are all looking forward and in time the pay off will be immense! At any rate this past weekend was a holiday weekend- Thanksgiving for Canadian folks- time for family and time for food!

           So with additional time off we do what our family loves to do- we headed for our local farmers market to pick up a few extra goodies for our holiday feast. Flowers of course- a chicken that lived a happy life and a few treats to make a grey day a little brighter! Our local markets are all winding down for the season- I was so happy to get a visit in before the Winter Market opens up- there is just something so magical about the markets at this time of year- truly a celebration of harvest and bounty.

           With so much scary information coming out in the news regarding our food source these days it's nice to be reassured that our country still produces good- whole food. One doesn't need to be reliant on fruit and vegetable from California- we have it here and by shopping farmers markets we are increasing the demand and supporting the farmers for the coming season. There is a spirit here that you can't buy in a grocery store- the busking fiddler or the Granny who knows our Littles and what treats they like best- the chicken lady who always insists we take a bigger bird or gives us a dollar off eggs- it's a beautiful thing this community.

          The seasons have definitely changed for the cooler- darker days- hearkening Winter Solstice and ultimately the return of the sun- this cyclical rhythm happening almost unnoticed. Our family has so much to be thankful this year- now that we are slowing down- spending more days inside we are reminded of all our wonderful adventures- of legs stretched and knees skinned. Thankful for lingering tan lines on our feet- evidence of hours spent on wooded trails and rocky beaches. Thankful for our health and strong bodies.

        Our weekend together- reconnecting with each other and dear friends was such a treat- good food and love at the centre of it all- snug and cozy out of the pouring rain. Things are different this year- no trip to the Okanagan- different but good- learning to create new traditions of our own. For me what it all boils down to is this- all though our life is not perfect- so far from where we want to be- it is blessed- so blessed- so much goodness- and for that I am Thankful!

Friday, October 10, 2014


           These days my life has been all about change and as Shrek says "Change is good Donkey"- so lots of change happening around these parts both literal and figurative. We have already established that my babies are now in full day school- away from me- foraging ahead into the world of being a kid. For the first fall in almost eight years I'm not pregnant- I'm not pushing a stroller or holding one or more hands constantly- while this new found freedom made me a bit jittery at first- unsure of my place in the world at large with no stroller to seek shelter behind- I am- after a few weeks- getting used to it. My days are beginning to take shape- I am attempting to take on a new shape- a slimmer shape!

        Enter in my bike- stage left-  for the past few years my poor bike has sat neglected but for a couple of rides per year. My bike which predates both husband and children- has seen a lot of miles- mostly forest trails but plenty of street- my bike and I have have a relationship. I have missed riding my bike. For me- now that I have this gift of time in my day- getting back on my bike is a metaphor for so much more- I'm ready to make room for myself once again- to make myself a priority once again. So it was with great excitement that my Mr. and I headed out onto the seawall yesterday morning in the brilliant October sunshine- secure in the knowledge that our babies are well cared for- free to reclaim some time to ourselves. This is a massive change!

         Heading back to work for me to has been a big change- in only the best of ways- I am beginning to see how hard it is for full time working parents. My hat is off to you I say! I am so glad to have found something that fits in with our schedual- no juggling- except the dishes and laundry. The important things are covered- our children are always with either the Mr. or I - one of us is always there to pick them up from school and take them to the library on weekends. For us right now this works - giving our family that added bit of income to make our dreams become a reality- our eye is firmly planted on the prize!

         One last bit of change- you may have noticed a new look happening around this corner of the interwebs- I am so pleased with how the blog is shaping up! I was fortunate enough to work with local designer Cathy Matusicky from State Creative Group- she really helped me to focus my vision for this space- clean it up significantly and add a few pops of fun! Sometimes we need to seek outside help to bring order to all the ideas swirling about in our heads- Cathy was able to do just that. I felt with all the change going on in real life it was an excellent time to create a bit of change here as well- freshen things up if you will. I'm quite excited to announce that I am looking to partner with sponsors who align with my values- creativity, environmentalism, family! So a few exciting changes around these parts for sure- because as well all know by now- change is good!

      Friends it is Friday- again- how the heck did that happen! I am looking forward to date night with my Mr. tonight- which almost never happens but thanks to a dear friend we are hitting the town tonight! Hope your weekend is full of turkey and love Friends- Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thrifted Thursday: My Top 3 Fave Gastown Thrift Stores!

             It's a well documented fact that I love a good thrift or vintage store- I love everything about shopping second hand. The environmental factor- an estimated 14.3 million tonnes of used textiles gets thrown into our landfills every year. By opting out of fast fashion and shopping thrift or vintage not only are clothes being kept out of the landfill but there is no false added demand being created. Lets face it though it's the thrill of the hunt that keeps me thrifting- looking for that one unique item that calls my name- that elusive vintage gem that is out there if I just keep looking! With this in mind I thought I would share my favourite stops for thrift and vintage in our neighbourhood.

            First up is Community Thrift and Vintage- this is possibly my most frequented stop-convineintly located right up the street from our house on Carroll St beside Nelson The Seagull. The perfect day may or may not include a rummage through the racks followed by a creamy latte next door! Community operates two locations - the men's wear shop located just around the corner on Cordova. Both shops carry a small but good selection of vintage children's clothes- I have found a number of items for both the Little's wardrobes - helping them to get their vintage on at an early age!

          Erin Templeton is located at the corner of Carroll St and Powell in the heart of historic Chinatown. A well curated selection of true vintage items can be found mingling with Erin's line of leather bags in the studio/ storefront. What I love about the collection at Erin Templeton is the true nature of the vintage items she shares- a Victorian blouse hangs next to sweatshirt from the 1970's. It's just that good!

         New to me is Duchesse- an excellent mixture of clothing, housewares, furnitures and oddities- everything good that one can imagine in the same place! Located on quiet little stretch of Columbia street Duchesse is the kind of shop one might see in Height Ashbury- eclectic but still modern with out being pretentious.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Studio Wednesday

        Now that we are well into the school year my Littles are settling into a routine and so am I to a degree. I am claiming back portions of the day for myself- which is a bit of a strange but not completely foreign feeling. For the first time in a few years I actually got out my painting supplies yesterday and settled into working on a few small pieces- I stepped away from familiar acrylics paints and into the world of encaustic. There is something just so romantic about painting with wax- something traditional- something quiet.

          At it's most basic encaustic is painting with  melted wax and pigment- I was inspired to purchase some great new pigmented wax sticks at our local art store on the weekend which did not disappoint. I have dabbled in encaustic before but in a more traditional manner- mixing oil pigments into a mixture of damar and bee's wax- these sticks were much more immediate.

          Encaustic is more than a bit tricky- I have long admired artists who work exclusively with this fugitive medium- heating and smoothing and blending hot wax. It is hard and definitely takes some finessing. I worked for a large portion of the afternoon trying to get the wax to do what I wanted- finally I stepped away from my diminutive piece fairly happy with the results- kind of in love with the glowy vibe.

           For the past few years I have madly been producing work to sell- a bit of an assembly line if you will. While I enjoy making things for Plain Jane there is something a bit restricting about working with an eye to sell for a specific market. This week in the studio- playing around with a new medium was so freeing- this is something I will surely be coming back to!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Favourite Cake Friday: Pumpkin Spice

             Nothing beats a crisp fall day spent in Stanley Park- except wen you have cake and coffee- cause cake and coffee make everything better- throw in a friend for good company and you really do have the makings for an excellent day! Which was just the case for me yesterday when I was looking for someone to share a slice of Pumpkin Spice Cake and a thermos of coffee with! No rain with the sun peeking through- sharp ocean air on my cheeks- favourite boots on my feet- pretty much I think all Thursdays should happen like this!

Pumpkin Spice Cake

*with Cream Cheese Icing*

The Goods:

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree- I used actual cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup apple sauce
3 tbsp butter or coconut oil
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
1/3 cup ground almonds or oat bran
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

The Deal:

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees

- butter and flour a 9 x 9 pan- set it aside

- combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl combine all wet ingredients and mix well. Add wet mixture into dry and stir until combined ( I just threw everything into my KitchenAide and let it do it's thing) 

- Pour into greased and floured pan. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing from pan then frost with cream cheese icing. Only share with people you like and even then I suggest only sharing 1 slice- keeping the rest of this cake for yourself.

Cream Cheese Icing

in the mixer combine 1- 8 oz package of plain cream cheese, 1/2 cup of butter, 1 1/2- 2 cups of icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix well- continue adding icing sugar until frosting is stiff- you may or may not use all of the 2 cups of icing sugar

          Friends it is Friday! Yippee for the weekend- if you need me I will be on the treadmill running off the pounds packed on by eating too much cake. Happy Friday Friends- have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thrifted Thursday

          I celebrated the break in the rainy weather the other day by busting out my favourite new- to- me dress paired up with a few of my fall classics. Getting dressed at this time of the year can be a bit tricky- I'm always either too hot and sweaty or freezing cold and soaking wet- obviously layers are called for! Layers combined with a dress is a win win situation- and I love a good dress as dresses are outfits unto themselves- no brain dressing if you will.

       Obviously my penchant for early 90's Grunge comes through in this outfit- my favourite work boots combined with a flowey cotton dress and a denim jacket- I would not have looked out of place at a Pearl Jam concert in 1994. This little gem was unearthed amongst a multitude of glorious frocks at Community Thrift and Vintage- which may or may not be conveniently located on my walk home from school- yay kid free thrifting!

         After a solid day of rain it can be easy for me to fall into a pit of despair- it only takes one fair day for me to fall back in love with this place we call home- I'm a fickle creature that way! I fully celebrate getting outside and loving our neighbourhood- nothing beats a walk through Strathcona early in the morning in the fall- watching the sun filter through falling leaves. Love where you live!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Studio Wednesday

            This week has been crazy town around here- our little family is struggling to find our groove- figure out our daily pattern- which is why my presence here in this space has been minimal. I know we will figure it out eventually- until then it's a bit of a mad scramble- with a few quiet moments thrown in! I've found my way back into the studio for a few short periods this week- jumping into getting started on Holiday projects- gasp- I know I said that scary word! Reality is though that I love to make things for the folks I love- I need to get started now!

          Inspired by the fall foliage on my walk this week I grabbed a piece of linen that I dyed last week with the IDye- the linen really took the dye well and I was left with a true- deep- Gunmetal grey. I thought that the white of the lovely little Snowberry was an excellent contrast to the deep grey of the linen- very indicative of our landscape here in Vancouver at this time of year. I created this easy random dot pattern using a basic stamp- the end of a pencil eraser- and some white Permaset ink.

      Using up some of my end scraps of natural linen I have been creating simple- geometric patterns- mini quilts that I will be turning into throw pillows. I'm pleased to to only have a great way to use up some end cuts of scrap from past projects- keeping the waste out of the landfill- but also to be getting stunning effects. I am loving the Gunmetal grey combined with natural linen and white- conjuring images of my beloved coastal sea scape- these are my Vancouver quilts.

           I know it's annoying to start talking about the Holiday's at this time of year- I think that our society- as with everything- has come so far away from what the Holidays really mean- meaning has become muddied in consumerism. For our family we celebrate St.Nicholas Day, Winter Solstice and Christmas- it's all the warm fuzzy bits in what can be a very dull and gloomy time of year- these celebrations represent our family travelling another year around the sun together. So yes I am starting to talk celebrations, gifts and excitement now- I am going to start showing sneak pieces of what I'm up to- busily getting started on lovely goodness for folks the are important to me. Thats just me- I show my love through feeding and giving- the act of material giving is a bit contrary to what I am usually about. So brace yourself friends for the Holiday storm is about to commence- grab a mug of coffee and join me in sharing your gift making on Studio Wednesdays!