Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Back In The Studio

           New year- new sketchbook! I always find the first page of a new sketchbook so full of promise and possibility- no mistakes as yet- just a blank slate. I may have spent my Christmas money on a whack of new art supplies this week- I totally spoiled myself with some Molotow acrylic pens- so good- acrylic paint in marker form- makes drawing a real treat! Throw in a new brush or two and not one but two books of watercolour paper and my January is starting to look up!

          For the past few years I have been so focused on making art for resale that my art practice has become quite staid- my pallet has not changed at all- intent on keeping making art that sells I have started to loose my excitement about painting. Since returning to work at an art supply store- being fully immersed in creativity a few times a week- being surrounded by incredibly talented co-workers- I have started to feel the itch to paint again.

          I think that although I feel much freer in my work it really is not much a departure from my screen printed and collaged cards- similar bright- vibrant colouring but not so contrived- no recipe so to speak. This is purely art for art's sake- made just for the fun of it- just for me. There is no pressure here to have these pieces "turn into" anything at all- no end market.

          Going forward into 2015 I am feeling optimistic- hopeful and less afraid than I have in a long time- regarding my art work. Making work just for myself feels really honest- I'm not afraid of being judged by anyone- I'm not trying to have my work appeal to anyone but myself. There are no mistakes to be made- I can change my mind about a painting at any point- leave it- move on and come back at a later time- a much more intuitive way of working. Having a job outside of my own little business allows me the freedom to create in this manner- my bills are paid and now my art work is purely about having fun again- something I haven't felt in the studio in quite some time!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

More Knitting For My Small Being

         So much making went on in this past month- it was difficult to show much of it off as most went off as gifts- secrecy was paramount- and so a modicum of online silence was necessary. One small bit of knitting that I was desperate to finish was for my Girly- I had visions of a snuggly warm vest covering her back as we iced through the forest of Christmas day- but it just didn't happen. I knitted on our way to the Okanagan- I knitted through out our holiday and then I knitted on the way home in the car as well- super simple garter stitch- just knitting back and forth. Still this small bit of snugness was left in pieces until just last night.

          Once stitched together and the ties added on my first hand knit garment was complete- this is almost but not quite a sweater- that is next onto the needles for the Boy! Miss Lo was so pleased to wake up this morning to one last Christmas gift- it fit perfectly and nicely matched her new Holiday dress from Mabo Kids. My little city elf is all set for a chilly winter in an old school- which tens to be either overheated or crafty- depending on which room you find yourself in- layers are important in Vancouver!

          With this small garment I have gotten a bit more  confidence in my knitting ability- I feel confident to cast on that sweater I have been dreaming of- Ok well I have two sweaters I'm itching to knit- but one thing at a time! I here by declare 2015 the year of the sweater!

P.S- also how is my little Miss getting so darn grown up? Every time I turn around she has grown another inch!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Walking

         Our Christmas Holidays are drawing to a close- sadly we are headed back to the Coast this afternoon- back to our regular life. This week has been so good- everything I had hoped it to be- relaxing- filled with people I love most- laughter- good food and plenty of wine! Our days have been so busy since school started in September- shuttling back and forth- delivering our babes to class- to birthday parties and friend's homes. It was really such a blessing to press pause and just have some quiet time- the best gift of all really!

          Christmas Day my own little Momma and I took to the forest with Miss Lo for a quiet walk- the woods beckoned with their calmness- the Okanagan wind biting at our cheeks as we slowly made our way down familiar paths. The dirty old snow from a few days ago crunching under our boots- providing Miss Lo with enough entertainment to keep her going. Iv'e walked this way too many times to count- the landscape so familiar I can see it behind closed eyes- these are the forests of my childhood.

         Amid all the Christmas goodness- the presents- the food- the presents- it's so good to take that time out- making the day more about being together than anything else. After our walk- after a quick lunch of snacks- the cousins start pouring in- around the campfire we sit- laughing and drinking- eating more sugar than we do all year! This is the good life- this is what it's all about- and that is just enough for me!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Let The Festivities Begin

          We made it! Over the mountains and through the hills and down into the valley we travelled- now let the festivities begin! Ok well the festivities are well underway at this point- we started out with a surprise visit with my Sister In Law and Brother In Law- we thought we would miss them as they pull up stakes and head to their new home in the North- but they were waiting for us! So happy to have spent time visiting with them- wish we had taken more pictures- but we were so busy chatting  no one even thought of it. Safe travels to them as they continue on in their journey today- home to their grand babies!

             Yesterday we headed into town to skate with cousins and the city skating rink downtown Kelowna- situated on the edge of the lake you really couldn't ask for a prettier spot. Of course all the cousins were over the moon to be reunited- it's been months since they last saw each other! I love the relationships they are developing with each other- naturally blending together like quick sand- it's tough to tell where one starts and the other leaves off. We had an extended cousin join us as well and Jacob was super excited to have another bigger boy to skate with. This is what we so miss living so far away from our family- this easy friendship that naturally happens between cousins- the waves of laughter that emit from a bench full of family- I hope they are always like this.

            I could have stayed and skated all day- flashes of my own childhood on the outdoor rink at the Peachland Riding Club blurring with the present- the cold air on my face- the bumpy ice beneath my blades- freedom. It's a weirdly little known fact that I am in fact a pretty good ice skater- I love it. Every day after school we would rush home from the bus stop and grab our skates- hike up to the neighbourhood rink and skate until dinner- sometimes even past the dinner call. All kids of Pine Ridge road know what I'm talking about- the best and most free time of our lives!

          We have more fun family times planned for today- a nice easy little hike if the weather holds- snuggling up and eating treats if it doesn't hold- hot chocolate all around regardless of what the weather does! Tonight we celebrate Christmas in a German manner at my In Laws- Saint Nicolas is on his way- the Littles are already bouncing off the wall in excitement! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas- may your hearts fill with joy and your lives overflow in abundance- the real kind not the store-bought kind!

Monday, December 22, 2014

On Our Way!

        Hi all- fist of all I should give apologies for going MIA right in the middle of peak blogging season- it seems everywhere I look on the old inter webs I see adorable children posing in front of perfect trees- perfectly sorted craft projects and beautiful dinners. My reality these days is that I would rather be creating these memories not documenting them- I have perfectly adorable children- as is evidence in 98% of my blog posts- and I have been enjoying our time together this past week. I'm just putting the camera down and being very present in our moments- savouring it all and watching in wonder at these small beings I made.

     It's so strange this year- with the mild temperatures it really feels like anything but Christmas this year -yet as you read this we are indeed on our way to the Okanagan for our Holiday festivities with friends and family. I feel like we have every single item of winter outdoor gear locked and loaded- we are ready for any fun that will surely come our way! I'm so looking forward to laying my eyes on the hills as we come down off the highway- a sure sign that home is close by- seeing the twinkling lights of Peachland and the lake that lays at it's feet. While my wee family has been back and forth over the mountains I have not been home since the summer- I miss my home- my heart- the lake.

       This year feels a bit more pared back- a simpler Holiday season in comparison to years past- all my hours working has really brought into focus what is important to me this year- bringing into focus the balance I'm so desperate to establish. I feel like my world has shrunk to a few small city blocks- spending my time in December shuttling between the school- home and work- I am ready to stretch my legs and have an adventure- it's long over due! As the light starts to return and the days grow longer I am excited by thoughts of new beginnings- growth- light an so much love!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

In The Studio

            In my studio I have this growing pile of naturally dyed and printed fabrics- just sitting there waiting for "one day". So this week- even with the time crunch I decided to dive into that pile of goodness and start a quilt- for myself! I'm so excited about this project- I have been planning this quilt in my head for so long but have always been intimidated by the actual making of the quilt- it's clearly time to get over that and just start making it. Heavily inspired by a quilt I saw last winter at Oakland's a Verb For Keeping Warm I chose a very natural pallet of fabrics dyed with onion skins, turmeric and- my favourite- indigo.

             Although this is clearly still a work in progress- I only have half a quilt top- I needed to share- I'm really loving how it's coming together! Using up all the leftover scrap natural linen is pretty satisfying as well- all the end cuts from pillows and custom orders from the past year. It's nice to see my scrap pile shrinking away and being put to use- repurposed- and enjoyed.

              These days I don't have much time to sew- the urge to create still doesn't go away- sewing this quilt is a bit like itching a scratch. This is the business that satisfies my soul- gets me excited and keeps the creative juices flowing. I'm hoping to have the rest of the top finished by our holiday so I can get my mom to help me bind the edges. I really can't wait to have this little bit of handmade in my living room- curl up under it and read a good book. Merry Christmas to me!

P.S.- all picture taking was done after work!
P.S.S- thanks Kate for taking this picture of me!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Finding New Traditions

         For me creating traditions with our little family is very important- we are all by ourselves in this city- our extended family a five hour drive away- so I have tried my hardest to create meaningful traditions of our own. For me all these little details that go into making our life together unique and special are at the top of my list- especially during the Holiday season- traditions like Momma made pyjamas, baking cookies, handmade cards and of course gingerbread making are all part of what I do to make this Holiday memorable for our Littles. This year things are looking a little different- I am struggling to let go just a little bit as time runs out for this working Momma.

        I have managed to cobble together what equates to a full time job- I'm juggling three this year along with being an involved and present parent -this is not leaving a tonne of time for my usual Holiday making. This year I ordered the pyjamas- from a beautiful small Momma run company- exactly what I would have sewn for them had I been able to squeak in any extra sewing time. I am buying the cookies- from a local bakery- so at least they will look and taste homemade- plus we really only need small treats not a tonne of cookies. The cards- well sadly they may be more like New Years cards- which is tough for me as sending cards is like sending love to all my friends and family.

       I'm able to let go of control on all these items- I am trying my hardest not to let the working Mom guilt creep in- I know my kids would rather spend their time with me playing or crafting than having me sweating it out over some project or other. So I'm placing priority on time- but the gingerbread- oh I was looking forward to baking that so- we always have such fun rolling out the dough and then decorating each little fella. To say it was relief I felt upon watching the Littles open a package from my Mother In Law would be an understatement- she had ever so thoughtfully sent us a gingerbread house kit!

       Exactly what we needed- something nice and easy- and yet still keeping with our family tradition- the step of baking already taken care for us- the Littles and I happily sat down and decorated our edible house one afternoon post school. Just a small shift but one worth making- they won't remember that I didn't buy all the ingredients- mix everything together and bake it myself. What the Littles will remember is the strangely balmy December afternoon spent licking icing off fingers and sneaking candies while we tried to keep the room from falling in.

       With only a short time left before Christmas I am trying my best to embrace the chaos- our house is a mess- we will most likely be packing dirty laundry when we head home to the Okanagan! For me right now I am really embracing the mantra that the dishes will always be there- the laundry will eventually get done-no one cares if I have baked the cookies myself- they only care that there are cookies. Having my hand forced by time I can see what is actually important- I can let go of the idea of perfection- let go of my struggle to attempt to achieve it and embrace the big old mess that my life actually is- embracing new- messy traditions thats what this year is all about!

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's Christmas Time In The City

         My all time favourite Christmas song is Silver Bells- we learned it in choir when I was maybe in grade three or four. Miss Simms our choral teacher- who was really the only woman in our town who could actually sing- tought us the music and lyrics and we sang it at our school concert. This would have been back in the day when public schools still had Christmas concerts and they may or may not have had religious undertones- hello 1985! Regardless- Silver Bells has always stuck in my heart as the quintessential Christmas song.

        I often have Silver Bells running through my head on my personal sound track at this time of year- when the rain is falling sideways and people hustle by with their umbrellas on the busy side walks- city sidewalks- dressed in holiday style. As I age I have this ridiculous habit of getting emotional and choked up about any old thing- this song is having a profound effect on me for some reason this year. Perhaps its the nostalgia- remembering a much younger me who was totally enamoured with city living- now it's my life- my own adult feet hurrying along the city sidewalks.

City sidewalks busy sidewalks .
Dressed in holiday style
In the air
There's a feeling
of Christmas
Children laughing
People passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you'll hear

Silver bells silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
ring- a- ling hear them ring
soon it will be Christmas day

Strings of street lights
Even stop lights
Blink a bright red and green
As the shoppers rush
home with their treasures

Hear the snow crunch
See the kids bunch
This is Santa's big scene
And above all this bustle
You'll hear
Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day

     Friends it is Friday again- the days are starting to fly by faster than ever before- I have decided that perhaps this year I can't do all of the crafts or all of the making and I'm learning to be OK with that- my goal for this weekend is to get our Christmas cards into the mail and wrap up the tail end of my custom orders. It's a busy year this year for me! I hope- dear friends- your weekends are filled with light and love and wine- lots of wine- Happy Friday!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Winter Crafternoons

           With so much plastic showing up at this time of the year our family has made a conscience effort to take a more natural and holistic approach to holiday decorating. As in keeping with our family mandate to live a more simple life we are very selective when it comes to decking out our apartment. Each year I try to find a suitable craft to make with my wee makers that will stand the test of time and hopefully one day show up on their own family trees.

           One of our favourite projects is painting peg dolls- we love to imbibe these blank folk with little personalities that match our own- our alter egos already exist in the form of gnomes gathering around the tree. This year we were so pleased to find a few new characters to add to the family at Collage Collage- a snow man and an angel. Such fun yet simple forms- the perfect canvas for our imaginations!

            We used Holbein Gouache to paint our winter folk- gouache is an opaque- matte paint- in this case an acrylic- very popular with designers. I love the way it lays down on the wood ornaments- giving each wee folk the perfect amount of colour with out overwhelming- the Holbein colours are fantastic.
             This is the extent to our new decorations for the year- two wee wooden ornaments that will not only hang on our tree but more than likely be played with well into the new year. They feel good in the hand- to be held and imagined with- and they come from a great place- the wonderful world of make believe. These wee folk are made to last- not just in materials but also in style- to be brought out year after year- the story of our afternoon crafting remembered and retold-  the energy- a family treasure.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Good Reads

         One of my favourite gifts to give and to get are books- I still really like to read physical books- these days they almost feel like a bit of a luxury- as is the time to sit and read. When I go on holiday I always pack a new book in the off chance that I can curl up somewhere for a few hours while someone like a Grandparent entertains my children- a rare moment for Mum. I thought I would share some of my current favourite reads- with a bit of a creative slant-  good either for you or that artist on your shopping list!

Handmade Nation- The Rise of DIY, Art,Craft and Design- a look at the rise of contemporary craft as a relevant art form. This is an interesting read filled with beautiful examples of what makers across America are making from Olympia Washington to Providence Rhode Island- this one is going in my carry on for sure! By Faythe Levine and Cortney Heimerl

Collage- Contemporary Artists Hunt and Gather, Cut and Paste, Mash Up and Transform- the follow up compendium to the Jealous Curator's best selling book Creative Block. Showcasing contemporary art from around the world this is once again a wonderful book to have one hand for inspiration and direction. By Danielle Krysa

Water Color Painting By Contemporary Artists- this book takes a look at the revival of a more traditional medium in a completely contemporary way. Featuring looks at watercolour artists methods and work- from journaling to more fashion forward work. Again this is a really beautiful book- perfect to curl up with a seek out some inspiration. By Sujean Rim

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


          December came in like a lamb yesterday- sunny and brisk but not unpleasant- the first day of December in Vancouver was nothing short of stellar. My girly had a bad cough and so she stayed home with me for the day- a real treat- I miss this kid now that she is in full day Kindergarten- which still seems very long to me. I miss my side kick- coffee date- thrifting partner- I'm so used to this girl being constantly by my side. I would venture to say that one of the downsides of being a stay at home mom is that perhaps we become too attached to our kids- a ridiculous notion I know but stick with me here- for the past six years my entire identity was wrapped up in my role as Mum. Relearning how to operate in this world without my babes constantly at my side has been hard.

         So yesterday when my Girl stayed home it was a real treat- throw in some sunshine and it was obvious we needed to bundle up and head outdoors- cold air is excellent for coughs you know. So we took a nice long walk exploring everything we possibly wanted- the frost- or skim of snow- was still enchanting and we had fun speculating where all the little animals are hiding. For me there really is nothing better than watching her excitement over small discoveries like bundles of leaves still stuck together or a frozen puddle that instantly turns into a skating rink. All echoes of every Canadians memories of winter.

          For us learning doesn't take a sick day- learning also doesn't just happen in the classroom- the city is fully of teachable moments if one just stops and takes a moment- the forest abounds with curiosities- the beach is a natural classroom. Any opportunity we get to expand on our children's world we snatch up like treasure- right now they still value our opinion- we are their biggest influence.

       The first of December was such a gift- the sunny weather and my Girl by my side- coffee with a dear friend and her babe- warm sunshine through a glass window followed by stinging cold on our cheeks outside- an easy day. I will treasure all the little moments from yesterday deep in my heart to see me through this hard week.