Thursday, December 31, 2015

These Days: 2015

          These days are short and chilly- the kind of cold that seeps into your bones and hangs around for the entire day. These days are mostly spent inside making us all long for the sunshiny days of two months ago. These days are the end of the year.

           As 2015 draws to a close it cannot help but be reflected upon- favourite moments taken out of my pocket and examined- memories strung together to form the most perfect of Holiday garlands. This past year has been one of change and growth for our family- so many blessings mixed together with some very hard days. This was the year I let go and we all began to grow.

          I went back to work- full time- I chased an opportunity- I went for it- and I caught it. I actually caught it! A year ago I was full of uncertainty- and now I am seven months down a path I never thought was mine. I don't talk about my job here often- I manage an art supply store in the middle of a busy city- it is hard but full of rewards. I get to help make the world a more creative place- I am really proud of what I am a part of.

       Asking for help and opening ourselves up to the larger community- to a larger family- was really hard. Both the Mr. and I come from backgrounds where you do not ask for help. I felt that as a mother I had to do it all- I got worn down very quickly with this attitude. We -as a family- had never had others involved in the care of our children and reaching out and letting others in was a scary prospect.

      However letting go and inviting ourselves to be a part of the community turned out to be our biggest blessing by far. We have so many wonderful people involved in our kid's lives- so many people who care for them and about them.- and about us also! It's these people that have become the fabric of our days- friends, teachers, after school care givers, coaches, co- workers- even our local baristas know our kiddos by name. Watching our kids become independent and gain that confidence needed to operate in the world has been an amazing thing to witness.

    This is what works for our family right now- we have changed- we have grown- I have let go of things that don't matter like the dishes and laundry. 2015 was the year I started to set my own standards and learned how to voice my own expectations- this alone is a huge gift to us all.

    It's hard to believe that 365 days have gone by since my last post of this nature- so many swims in the ocean and trails explored. Thank you all for continuing to come here- joining me in this space for some random thoughts and wanderings! Happy New Years Friends!

These are the days you might fill with laughter until you break
These days you might feel a shaft of light make its way across your face
And when you do you'll know how it was meant to be
See the signs and know their meaning
It's true, you'll know how it was meant to be.
Hear the signs and know they're speaking to you, to you

10000 Maniacs

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Year Of Making- Looking Back

         When I started out on my Year of Making journey about a year ago I had no idea what I was in for. I had vague notions of knitting a sweater and possibly sewing a portion of my own wardrobe- no clue how important making had become in my life. Over the past year I have learned so many things as I made things carefully by hand- along with learning how to knit button holes I discovered just how intrenched being creative is in my daily life. If a day goes by that I don't work on a project- no matter how small- something feels to be missing- it just does!

       One major lesson learned is how no matter how slowly my consumerism may be it still exists. I have just switched gears- slowed it way down and most importunity become so much more aware how my daily decision of what to wear is so important. Making much more of my wardrobe than I thought is possible- creating a thoughtful closet full of pieces I love. Creating small garments that are slow and made with love for my Littles- walking just as softly on my earth as they do on my heart.

         When I sat down to pull this post together I thought perhaps I would use a project from each month- I was very surprised to see how industrious I actually have become! No way I could only pick twelve of my favourite projects- many of them didn't even make it onto the blog- simply thrown into rotation immediately- on my bod or in the laundry!

       While 2015 is all wrapped up I am looking forward to continuing my making ways- perhaps a life of making instead of only a year- so limiting! I have a stack of projects on my sewing table and in my knitting basket- so much goodness coming in the months ahead! So knitting needles at the ready lets get ready to rumble!!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Very West Coast Christmas

          Christmas has come and gone and with in many days of relaxing- lots of time spent where we feel most comfortable out at the beach next to the water with the cold wind on our cheeks. While the weather was perhaps not to be considered the best we didn't let it deter our spirit -with things to explore and new toys to try out- our time spent outside was perhaps my favourite gift of all.

        While the snow blanketed the hills and mountains around us we kept warm in the falling rain with wool blankets and hot chocolates- things always taste better outside! The miles of pristine- and deserted- beach called to be explored. The littles scattered while we set ourselves up- checking out familiar logs and rocks- hunting for winter beach treasures.

        Santa brought the Mr. a Biolite stove and this little gadget is possibly the coolest thing I have ever seen! Not only does the heat power a fan- which in turn creates more flame and sucks the smoke away. This diminutive little stove reduces soot and smoke by 90% and for every stove purchased Biolite donates a home cook stove to a community that needs it. This company is onto something big and exciting- not only does the stove reduce soot- it also doesn't require the usual fuel needed for a camp stove- the Biolite is fuelled entirely on sticks and tinder. As if this wasn't enough you can also charge your cell phone with it!

          So of course we needed to try out the latest addition to our camp kitchen arsenal- this tiny and easy to pack little stove is about to be a permanent fixture in our van- hot chocolate on all our adventures now! I was really surprised with how fast the stove heated or milk up- apparently it boils water in no time flat- and the heat it threw off was as good as most small campfires. Needless to say the Mr. was chuffed with his gift and we will all benefit from it!

            So with pockets full of beach glass- the very best is found in the winter don't you know- and our cheeks all aglow our winter holidays are coming to an end. While I feel myself holding my breath for another day or so until I can convince the fam jam to take down our tree- I know these days of December ware waning. The days are getting longer- even if by a few minutes- I will just sit back read another book and have another glass of wine! The tree can wait- at least for today!

PS- who says city kids can't learn to handle a hatchet or light a fire? Let them be curious- let them take risks- let them alone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Year Of Making: Baktus Scarf

          In amongst all the gift making, cookie eating and bouts of croup we sunk in some time at the beach to frolic in the pale winter sunshine- to celebrate the longest night of the year and also this striped scarf! Quite awhile ago I admired this striped goodness over on Christine Chintis' blog- OK I may have stalked this scarf for some time until I found the perfect wool - Madeline Tosh-over the summer in Portland at Knit Purl. The pattern was traced back to the Baktus Scarf pattern a quick and easy knit indeed!

         Those who know me in person can attest that this little bit of softness has been in constant rotation since it came off the needles- a comforting weight on my shoulders as the days get cooler. I love a good stripe- some say I may have a problem as there are just so many stripes in my closet! I am nothing if not consistent!

        Once again in my knitting journey even the most simplest of patterns has taught me something- with this Baktus Scarf I learned about knitting with two colours of wool.  Something I really struggled to wrap my brain around- thanks You Tube for helping me figure that one out! Now that I am able to knit my beloved stripes there really is no stopping me - perhaps instead of store bought striped socks I will knit my next pair!

PS- no I did not knit my hat- a hat for myself is in my queue
PSS- I am not sure how much more Pacific Northwest I can get here- feel free to mock away at the Buffalo Plaid- black rimmed glasses- Blundstones ect ect!
PSSS- thanks to my Mr for taking these pics- I love that guy!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Keeping Things Simple

            In keeping with the growing theme in my life- as the Holidays approach- I am keeping things simple. This year I have opted out of the baking, the fancy, re- usable fabric bags and possibly with an increased chance the Christmas cards. Having to be very realistic about how I spend my time I have paired this Christmas season ways a way back! Prioritizing spending time with my family over doing a tonne of things for other people- starting with the very basics- teacher gifts!

             We love our teachers and care givers- we are blessed to be part of such an amazing community that is so close. For me to go out and buy gift cards feels really impersonal and not a heartfelt thank you at all. So over the past few weekends the Littles and I have gathered our supplies at the kitchen table and put our hands to work. 

              I truly believe in giving my kids some agency over their Christmas gifts- these are actually made by the kids for the adults who are helping to shape and mold them. I think it's important to have children be active participants in saying thank you to the people who give to them every single day. All too often it's so easy for us as parents to take over all aspects of everything- including showing gratitude. I am hoping that by letting my Littles take the lead they will be giving gifts from their hearts- gifts made by their own hands with their own time- an important life lesson.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas In The City: Go Fish

            We are staying in the city for Christmas this year! It's kind of special because usually we head out of town and over the hills to Grandma's house in the Okanagan for the days surrounding the holidays. For the first time in years though we are staying in the city we love- Vancouver. It's awesome to really see how the city puts of the glitz West Coast style during the holidays and so I will be featuring some of our favourite spots that are good to visit year round- but especially on the rainy December days leading up to Christmas!

        First up is our favourite fish and chips place- Go Fish- located just off Granville Island down at the fish docks this is truly some of the best fish and chips in the city- oh and the Tacones are pretty amazing too! This place is normally crowed beyond capacity during warmer days and so it is practically a genius move to come here during the off season. We walked right up to the counter and placed our order- ten minutes later we had piping hot cod!

            This city of ours really does a number of things right- food is one of them. The fish at Go Fish is as mentioned some of the best to be found in Vancouver. My favourite is the tuna tacone- seared to perfection and served with a spicy slaw in a warmed tortilla- amazing- have two!

         After a yummy lunch at Go Fish a walk down on the docks is a must- an authentic West Coast thing to do. My West Coast kids are right at home on the floating ramps and docks-pearing over the edge and making me freak right out! If you are lucky a resident seal will swim right up to say hello. Oh Vancouver- away from the crowds- when the rain stops- with fish and chips- you are perfect!

Monday, December 14, 2015

These Days

           These days have been incredibly wet and rainy and our little family is becoming increasingly cabin bound. Our daily routine is small- work to school and home again- very little movement off the beaten path- trying to stay dry. So it goes with out saying that when a break in the storms happened this past weekend we headed to our favourite spot on earth- the ocean. There is something so cathartic about screaming into gale force winds- a release happens and everyone of us just feels better!

         These short days of December can run away from us- lists can grow long- and the pile of plastic can get out of hand. I am so happy that right from the beginning we kept things simple. Choosing to make December more about our family than the growing pile of gifts. My days are too precious to spend at a mall buying things for people I love- when I would rather be with the people I love doing things that we love.

           There is a lot happening in this world right now that doesn't make sense. I have thought long and hard about what to say- trying to find the words to adequately express my sadness in humankind. Words have failed me- I have no words for the atrocities being committed abroad- I have no words for  my sadness in the small mindedness I see in so many Canadians right now. In a world of uncertainty my kids make sense- when nothing else does! Standing on a cold beach in the middle of December- watching them collect all the rocks one could possibly need- makes sense. Cold noses- cold cheeks- warm hearts.

         These days I just want to seek out solitude- I mean in the company of my family- but we seek out the quiet places- between the forest and the ocean. Looking for places where we can scream our hearts out and race until our lungs burst. I want to find the places that make sense to me- where the sadness of far off places can't reach me- I want to hide- but I won't.

          I think this trip to the beach was exactly what we needed- just us four and the sea gulls- oh and some dogs with their humans. Heading back into a busy work week I can hang onto this day- remember my girl hoarding rocks in her pockets- my boy wandering down the beach lost in his thoughts- my Mr. laughing as tide threatened his dry feet. While the days of summer are long and seems endless- slightly frivolous and to be wasted these short days of winter are something special indeed- not to be wasted at all!

Friday, December 11, 2015

More Wee Knits for Small Beings

         As I mentioned part of whats kept me away from the Interwebs is all the making I have been doing lately. One wee little bit of knitting is for another small being that has only recently arrived into our family. This tiny little bit of wool is headed back East to Toronto and I can't help but be a little bit jelouse. I will totally admit that I miss those tiny newborn days! When my nearly eight year old measures his stinky feet next to mine and I see they are almost the same size- I miss those newborn days! When my sassy little monkey rolls her big brown eyes at me- I miss those newborn days!

       It is of great interest to me- as an emerging knitter- all the things I learned with this tiny vest. I think I can now safely say I know how to not knit button holes- my knitted buttons holes are almost atrocious as my sewn button holes- but continue on I shall! One success I will mention is the mastering of the Kitchener jointing stitch- hooray for the Kitchener stitch! And hoary for You Tube!

     So the real details of this tiny vest are quite simple- I found a free pattern online at the Thrifty Knitter. I found the instructions super easy to follow- this tiny garment was onto and off of the needles in a matter of days! The wool came to me from my Mum- so I'm not sure what it is beyond being wool that "cost a lot" for a sweater she never finished- I was more than happy to take it off of her hands and it was a delight to knit up!

     Overall I am totally content with this wee vest destined for a wee man across the country who was named after my Great Grandfather the shoemaker with the heart of a poet!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Shop Small: Shop Local

       Just a super short post to mention there are a few little goodies left in my Etsy shop- the last day to ship with in Canada before Christmas is December 11- so if you have been lingering over a purchase now is the time! This year I took things pretty slow- there isn't a tonne of offerings but each one is special and made with love!

P.S. Plain Jane Designs can also now be found at Leap Art Supplies and Gallery in Vernon- go pay Melissa a visit and buy some art!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Searching For Winter

           When I grew up the first snowfall was a really big deal- I can recognize the smell of snow- I know when it is about to snow. Living in Vancouver- next to the ocean- one of the things that we rarely see or even smell is snow! And it's something I dearly miss. Not so much the gross- worn out February snow- the stuff that's been hanging around since before the Holidays! It's the fresh- beautiful- fluffy stuff that I miss terribly- the thought of tucking in while the flakes make the world silent is what I miss- the fresh layer of white blanketing the earth is what I miss. So it's only natural that this mountain gal headed for the hills as soon as the winds turned chilly!

            It's so funny to watch my city kids sort out their feelings towards snow- one s a bit more cautious and the other jumps right in. None of us have the proper gear but that totally didn't stop us from a spur of the moment frolic in fresh white powder on a recent trip home from the Okanagan. We stopped at the top of the mountain pass- a rest stop that the weekend previous we had picnicked in shirt sleeves- now covered in over a foot of snow.

            There truly is nothing like coming back inside with frozen fingers and toes- cheeks tingling as they start to warm back up- wet socks on the heater. Given the chance my boy would stay out in the snow all day every day- he says all he needs is a dog and some snow and life would be perfect- I kinda agree!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

These Days: December

          Two months ago ,when life got crazy busy and I hit the pause button on my blog, I never imagined that I would possibly be gone for quite so long! I planned my posts- each week trying to a lot time to sit and write and each week the days just slipped on by. So these days- winter days- are turning out to be a fair bit busier than I ever imagined! Every day I have to make a choice- to sit and write or knit or sleep or clean- making time to create in the cracks between work and family.

          I have this friend- she is an amazing artist- recently I listened to her pod cast on the Jealous Curator- go have a listen and you will not be disappointed! So my friend- Jessica- spoke about how impossible to create art in the cracks- how one needs to take the leap and dedicate your days to making. I have been marinating in this idea of creating art between the cracks- the idea has really stuck with me- as I struggle to create in the small time allotted to me each day. The thing is I agree with her. I agree that most people can do one thing really well- to be successful at one creative venture you must dedicate all your days to it. Where I struggle is the fact that I am passionate about many things- I wish to succeed in many areas of my life... and I think I can do it.

         So while I may not be here every single day any more- I am still thinking and planning and dwelling in this little corner of the inter- webs. While I may be blogging in the cracks just remember that I am somewhere knitting or sewing- creating and pushing my art to a different place. I am parenting between the cracks too- but that is a blog post for another day! Meanwhile I'm here- I'm around- I'm just trying to get the most out of these days as I possibly can!

P.S. these littles of mine are swiftly growing these days as well- all the feels are happening around here! Legs are stretching as is the vocabulary!