Category Archives: Uncategorized

Two new dresses

                 

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I am learning to sew, and Baby Bear is my victim,  er, lucky model. Isn’t she so musical theatre in the pink dress! And just because I thought I could do better, I made the dress again with some quilting fabric I had in my stash. And it was way less crooked the second time, and I didn’t bother with the ruffles. Actually the pink dress is quilting fabric too, since we have a fabric store in town that specializes in quilting only and I refuse to drive out of town for shopping. Though I did make a smallish order from Purl Soho for Mother’s Day…I am a little bit addicted to sewing now!

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Today was a good day

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I like this one. I think I will keep her for many Mother’s days to come

In which I post some pretty photos of my family, rant about cleaning products, and express some insecurity about blogging.

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I love that in my little town, there are pretty much no stores open on a Sunday. It’s a day to focus on home and family and being outdoors, not on what to buy next. You can buy food though, but since lots of people live quite far our of town, even the grocery store is quiet on a Sunday. People don’t tend to bother to drive in. Anyway, I don’t know whether it was the full moon last week, or the fact that it was a Sunday or the very beginning of spring, or just a great big giant coincidence, but EVERYONE in the store was buying crazy healthy food. I was in frank awe, staring enviously into people’s baskets, where I am usually feeling quietly smug. I was fairly ashamed to take the packages of spinach ravioli and the pre-made organic cheese pizza from my basket-I usually cook from scratch but have been a bit lazy in the kitchen these last few weeks. And yes, yes, I know, it’s not cool to look down on people for eating crappy food (or for any other reason for that matter) and that virtue should be its own reward (blah blah blah), but sometimes it is hard to go to a special section of the grocery store to buy food that looks and tastes exactly like the food everyone else is buying only it costs more and I guess it just helps to feel a bit superior when I do that-otherwise I might just feel foolish. I’m working on it, okay.

Anyway, I was busy gawking at all the organic healthy foods this healthy looking middle aged lady was pulling out of her basket and suddenly: a bright orange bottle of Mr. Clean. It looked so very out of place and I was suddenly struck by how ridiculous and insidious that name is. It seems just totally weird and wild to assert that something is “clean” when it’s covered in toxic chemicals. I know this concept isn’t a revelation or anything, but I feel like maybe it will help me refine my thoughts on this subject to articulate them, so bear with me:

I feel like we’ve been persuaded by tricky marketing that there is some magic accomplishing some very simple tasks.  It makes me feel like a total slave to know that I’m paying a corporate chemist to make mystery cocktails that do tasks that human beings have been accomplishing successfully for hundreds of years without the help of plastic or synthetic chemicals.

I don’t feel that I should be required to buy marketed products in order to keep my house, my clothes, and my body clean. I hate looking at the physical containers and their claims about how “organic” or “natural” or “plant-derived” something is. The ingredients listed are invariably chemicals, no matter how “green” the product markets itself as. And the price is crazy expensive compared to the natural alternatives.

I also think that having these products around promotes clutter. Marketed cleaning products are the antithesis of simplicity: they have a zillion ingredients, most of which are totally unnecessary and less than benign and they really only exist to sell themselves to me. In other words, terrible psychic energy. Having stuff around that is neither useful nor beautiful is the definition of clutter. I don’t think branded plastic containers are nice to look at and I don’t feel that a highly processed product made of synthetic chemicals is useful in light of the fact that the job can be done better, more safely and for way less money.

One exercise I’ve enjoyed that has helped to change my perspective on this is to actually remove products from their pretty containers and put them in simple bottles without labels. It looks lovely and does a great job reminding you that you just paid $25 for a few ounces of goop and a plastic container. It strips the product of its marketing and reminds you of its real value.

It has been such a positive experience for me, to be liberated from buying cleaning products, that I really want to share it in more detail, but I think that’s for another day.

Just a bit more to say (not about cleaning products):

I finished some knitting projects, pictured above. The pink knitted hat and leg warmers are by my sister-in-law’s mother (aka my only real life knitting friend). I bought some bare yarn and did a bit of dyeing with turmeric and it turned out quite ugly! When it finally stops snowing, I’m setting up a little dye studio outside as it was WAY too messy to do in the kitchen.

Also: I confess that I’ve started to feel a bit insecure about this blogging thing. It’s not so much that I feel weird about posting photos of my child, it’s that I’m afraid that other people disapprove of it, and that makes me feel like I need to address the issue explicitly. I know that a lot of people feel strongly that since you can’t get your children’s consent to post public photos of them, you shouldn’t do it. I know, or at least sense, that there are people in my community of family and friends who might disagree with what I’m doing here. I guess I just want you to know, if you’re one of those people, that Brad and I have given this some careful thought and consideration. Here’s what I’ll say:

I follow a lot of really gorgeous personal craft blogs where the writers, almost invariably Moms, feature photos of their lives, their homes, the beautiful things they make, and the gorgeous children they are sharing their lives with. Reading these blogs is so inspiring, I just can’t imagine that any adult (ie former child) would be embarrassed or unhappy to be in these photos. When I look at pictures of myself as an adorable child, I see just that, an adorable child who isn’t around anymore. I don’t remember tons about my childhood, especially when I was under 5, and looking back I think it really was a time that belonged to my parents more than it did to me. I was hardly making memories at all when I was small and don’t strongly associate with the cute little person I see in photos. I know she’s the same person as I am now, but I don’t feel such a strong personal connection to her that I care at all who sees my image.

As to notoriety, I honestly don’t expect that very many people outside of my community of friends and family will read this blog, and if they do, I am happy to share the photos that I’ve shared. I live in a small town. Anyone here who wanted to could figure out where I live, what my baby and my husband look like, and who I am. Predators and other bad people are out there, I realize, but not just online. They could be on my block or at the grocery store or wherever. I know Kung Fu and have crazy new Mom-strength, so watch out. Notoriety (such as it is or ever could be in my wildest craft-crazy dreams) doesn’t bother me and I simply can’t imagine how posting a few photos of my baby could have any effect on her future. As she gets older, I may start to feel differently. Together with my husband, we’ll figure this parenting experiment out by listening to our hearts and our heads. Right now, both tell me that we’re okay. So, in case you were wondering, I’ve given it some thought. That’s all. Happy spring! I ate two pieces of chocolate cake today with white chocolate eggs on top and they were really really good.

 

 

Mat Leave Month 9

 

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Melty melt melt. Snow, sleet, snow. Maybe melt some more. Tread mud into the house. Get annoyed when the kitties tread mud in the house. Let one of the kitties outside again.

Transplant tomatoes and peppers. Plant cucumbers. Shop for little greenhouses at the hardware store.

Feed the baby, nurse the baby, take pictures, clean up, repeat. Make enormous casseroles and eat them for days to avoid doing dishes.

Knit knit knit. Read a long fantasy novel. Knit. Accidentally rent religious TV movie and then enjoy it immensely (low expectations, good scenery).

Daydream of playing outside with Baby Bear. Listen to the birds. Try to convince the kitties not to eat birds and prepare to feel badly when they do. Watch for new green on the drive to town. Spot mostly Tim Hortons cups. Take no pictures.

I love my new sweater Mommy!

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I am NOT not doing this blogging thing. It’s just that it’s very ugly outside right now in the middle of winter and spring, and there really isn’t much to take pictures of and I’m knitting like crazy and have no time to blog (I have SO much time to blog). Also, in the last post I said I wanted to wrinkle in time to the May Long weekend and that is totally WRONG. A wrinkle in time is not time travel, it is space travel. I don’t want to travel through space really. I am afraid of space. And honestly, I don’t want to travel through time either. March in the Cariboo isn’t bad enough that I want to cut my life short rather than endure it. As long as it doesn’t snow again tomorrow. Don’t snow again tomorrow okay?

I made some stuff though! Yep. I finished Baby Bear’s Antler cardigan in three evenings and I was so exciting to finish it that I did not block it and just threw it on her and took a million photos. Above is the best one.

Luckily, I read about how I must block my baby sweater, and then I did and it’s drying now and yes, it does look way better. The colourway is Seasalt and I figure it won’t show the dirt as the colour is pretty much ‘rolled on the beach’ (in a cute way).

Guys, my heart was like WEEEEEEEEEEE when I saw my baby in her little sweater (and so was my voice. I said WEEEEEEEE quite a few times if memory serves). My husband made the little buttons out of actual antlers, which made me even happier (although also a little sad for the deer….I kind of stopped eating meat a while ago and though I’m not totally sure I’m going to be categorical about it, I just might).

Anyway, I made a matching hat with a pattern I designed myself and as soon as it’s dried from the blocking I will post it! Um, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to knit.

A Wrinkle in Time

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5 and a half months is the most adorable human age. Our little Bear is so sweet it is almost unbearable. My heart is full. Even when I feel sad, which happens at this time of the year -there are still many feet of snow in the backyard-I still feel so very glad because of her.

The thaw is here and with it lots of muck. I like the word muck. It’s pretty much an onomatopoeia. I won’t say spring is really quite here yet, but it’s definitely on its way in a meandering Cariboo kind of way. I wear a t-shirt to pop outside to the tool shed. Some mornings I hear a birds singing. There are puddles on the lake from all the melted snow, though someone still parks their truck out by one of the ice-fishing hut (madness! I say).

Baby Bear did her very first no-help-at-all roll over. When she finally pushed herself over she made a tiny little squeal of surprise. Suddenly, she is so much more mobile and her fine motor skills have improved drastically. She is grabbing and pulling on anything she can reach: hair, necklaces, power cords, and especially books. It’s actually quite hard to read to her because she just grabs the book and tries to put it in her mouth. I started a Wrinkle in Time with her. I know she can’t understand yet, but I just can’t wait (literally!) to start reading awesome books with her. At this time of year I confess that I wish I could do (make?) a tesseract to the May Long Weekend on some days.

I finally finished my low tide sweater a few weeks ago. I had been complaining about the sleeves being too tight and threatening to try to lose weight in my arms to make it fit (didn’t happen). Turns out the problem was my very non-elastic cast off. I used this problem as an excuse to buy a book about Casting on and Binding Off.  The sweater hangs off my shoulders a bit, but I’m delighted with it anyway. My first garment for myself! Next up, a sweater and a coat for Baby Bear. My leafy shawl from Botanical Knits is almost done!

Ooh! I read the Rosie Project and loved it. It is pretty much the Big Bang Theory in novel format and I finished it in less than 48 hours (and it was a fairly busy couple of days, or I would have just plowed through it in one sitting). I aspire to be a mega-organized, rational, disciplined person most days, so this book was fairly inspiring (which I don’t think was exactly its object) and also very very funny. Read it if you have a spare couple of hours and can’t find a decent romantic comedy to watch.

See the tiny pony in the picture? He is Baby Bear’s Someday Pony called Sparkles (actually, they renamed him Sparkie because they thought Sparkles sounded too much like My Little Pony, which I think is actually a really excellent quality in a pony name). I love him so much even though he sometimes bites the little girls who are training him.

Sweet peas are planted! Probably too early, like the tomatoes and peppers, but I just don’t care. I need to have flowers to look forward to, especially ones that smell delicious. Can you eat sweet pea flowers? I’m going to look that up when they start growing.

Little Bo Peep

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Snow. Snow. Snow. Our truck has fully disappeared under a heap of it at the bottom of the driveway. I am still in love with the coziness of winter, thank goodness, or this might start feeling a bit over the top. (I just reread this and it’s a terrible pun and totally not intended, but I’m keeping it, so there)

This week has been busy at our house: A wonderful visit from Grammy, painting picture frames, watching the tomatoes grow, friends stopping by for tea, finally finishing the baby’s room (the only thing missing is the crib-still in our room).

I am knitting this shawl in a gorgeous colourway from Sweet Fiber Yarns called Spanish Coin. The yarn is a DK superwash merino. Sweet Fiber is a company in Vancouver owned by a young woman. Hooray for that! I made Brad’s birthday sweater out of their merino/cashmere worsted weight yarn in a lovely manly colour called Moss. Come to think of it, I never properly photographed him in it…I should get around to that. Anyway, the shawl looks like the rising sun and is so easy to knit. Easy to knit is pretty key these days for me. I had all these lace projects started and it’s pretty awesome that I can do a harder project, finally, after all these years of knitting in straight line, but I just started not wanting to do the lace charts and was getting lost in the patterns, frustrated, distracted by the baby. Knitting back and forth with the odd increase or decrease is all my two-hours-of-sleep-in-a-row-max brain can handle these days. Hobbies are supposed to be relaxing anyway.

I finished The Interestings, and even though I didn’t love the voice and it wasn’t always comfortable, I liked how it ended. It got me thinking about how creativity can fit into an adult life, the value of doing what you love for a living, and how we treat and encourage creativity differently for children than for adults. For a change from the contemporary fiction thing, I started reading Sherlock Holmes. I downloaded the entire collection of tales for just 99 cents. I love my Kindle, I love my Kindle, I love my Kindle. Did I mention how much I love my Kindle? I feel like I should have read Sherlock a long time ago since I have been addicted to murder mysteries since I was a teenager, and Sherlock is pretty much the boss of this genre. Plus I watched an episode of the show and now I picture Benedict Cumberbatch when I’m reading, and that makes it extra super great.

Six Feet Under is ending for me and I will be sad when there are no more episodes left. “Everything, Everyone, Everywhere, Ends” says the main menu when I put in a new disc. Death gets me thinking about life and helps to put things in perspective as we plan the next few years of our life. I know what happens in this final season (a main character dies. I won’t spoil it. In case you haven’t watched the show, you probably should). How did I know? I guess it’s just because I pay attention and remember things I wish I could forget and someone told me once. And then, of course, I googled it to confirm and read all about it because I have virtually no self-control. Will I still be sad when it happens even though I know it’s coming?

I learned a new vocabulary word this week: Frieze (a decorative band at the top or beneath the cornice of an interior wall, a piece of furniture, etc.). My mom made one for little Miss’ room out of the drawings from an old Mother Goose book from my childhood. Isn’t it gorgeous? She also made the curtains, the quilt, the felt letters. She’s one talented Grammy. I need to start sewing more. I want to make some dresses for Baby Bear. Making things! I love to make things! More snow please!

Icing on the lake

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Guys, I went out on the lake! And it wasn’t scary at all. It was so totally gorgeous and magical. It was like it was my birthday! (and it actually was too.) A very perfect day. I want to go out again as soon as possible, though when I woke up this morning, it was -33 degrees, so we stayed inside all day, cozy and crafting. Actually, looking back, I don’t think I really accomplished anything, which I’m noticing often happens when I’m hanging out with Baby Bear. Is it weird that I find even her sad and frustrated faces to be so completely adorable. Sigh, baby love is totally ridiculous.

In other news, I know I am WAY late to the party on this one, but I am very keen on coconut oil these days, especially in baking. It makes everything taste like Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion (in a really good way). I posted a little bit ago about eating a batch of scones, well, I’ve been modifying this recipe with loads of success, and since it’s a very small batch, it’s easy to experiment with, and not too horrible if you happen to eat 5 or 6. I’ve replaced the sugar with honey, added oats, used exclusively whole wheat flour, and haven’t bothered with the nuts and they’ve turned out every time. I was finding myself at my local coffee shop nearly every day in the past months because I was hungry for their amazing baking, but these scones have kept me at home on days when I might have otherwise driven all the way to town just for One Another’s fabulous food.

I’m reading The Interestings and I have to admit, I’m not sure about it. I’ve read some pretty outstanding books in the past few months (Madaddam, Freedom, The Corrections, The Goldfinch, The Luminaries, The Great Gatsby) so my expectations are probably calibrated fairly high. I think it’s possible that themes are hitting a bit close to home for comfort and the main character has just a little too much in common with me to make living inside her head completely enjoyable. It’s about someone who gave up her dream to make a living creatively because she wasn’t very good, and is ever after jealous of her successful friends. Envy is a very dirty emotion and so very contagious.

For my birthday, I bought myself some yarn to knit this sweater for my little Boo. I’m pretty crazy about TinCan Knits. I love pretty much everything they create. Publish more lovely ladies! Sadly, my local yarn store carries mostly acrylic/wool blends, which I am not very excited about. I really want to support them, but I don’t very often find much that is inspiring. I bought this Diamond Luxury Comfort Chunky in Ecru for the little sweater. If the weather stays so cold, I’ll be done in no time.

The more it goes (tiddely pom) on snowing, on snowing

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It has been snowing and snowing. Yesterday, I took the stroller and my little popsicle out for a walk in the morning. Pushing the stroller through the thick snow, the sun shining on one side of the sky, grey skies promising more snow on the other. A sleeping baby. When we moved to the country, I thought how wonderful it would be to walk in the woods every day. Our little neighborhood is filled with enormous trees. I can feel my cells renewing themselves with every breath. How I love to be outside, especially bundled up against the cold.

But the dogs. There are always dogs in the country, even when you live in a subdivision. Big ones. Scary ones. I didn’t think of that. My husband was bitten last year in our old neighbourhood by a truly enormous dog that jumped its fence to attack the dog we had at the time. At our new home, there is a Rottweiler and a big white dog on one side, and three German Shepherds on the other. They bark mercilessly until we are out of sight. Yesterday, the Rottweiler was growling too. I pushed through my nervousness in the interest of getting some fresh air without getting in the car. I made it down the street one way, but when I came back the snow was so high that the big white dog had made it over the fence and was blocking my way home, barking aggressively. The Rottweiler was still on the safe side of the fence, but I was sure she could have made it over too if she wanted. I was too frightened to get home and after standing on the road for a few long minutes trying to decide what to do, I pushed the stroller and my precious little darling to a neighbour’s home. I didn’t know what else to do. Dogs can tell if you are scared, right? The neighbour was kind to drive me home, but it took me a long time to calm down after that, and I won’t try to go out again. In the interest of trying to find a window that could open now that this door has been closed, I have decided that it is time to venture out onto the frozen lake in front of the house. I’ve been scared of that too, but I actually think the fear of dogs is more rational. Especially in February.

Our little love is feeling a great range of emotions these days, and is often tearful, especially when we have to put her down. It has been unusually noisy at our home for the past few days. We are grateful for the moments of peace, though, and our gratitude is magnified by the scarcity and transience of the silence. Despite the noise, there is so much to be joyful about. Even through her tears, we can make her laugh, smile her gorgeous toothless smiles, kick her chubby little legs with excitement. Her little pouts before she burst into tears are heartbreakingly adorable. My husband sings her to sleep, the furnace is warm, the kitties come in and out. Homemade hot chocolate, a new knitted hat, tomato seedlings poking through the soil. I can wait for spring.

The more it snows (tiddely pom)

 

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If you have been following us here so far, you might be forgiven for wondering when the craft portion of this professed craft blog might be introduced. My excuse is that for the past several years (that maybe an exaggeration if I really think hard, it might be more like a few months on and off) I have been knitting a sweater in sock weight yarn. For those of you who are not knitters, this means that the yarn is ridiculously thin and it takes forever to get anywhere. I could have knit a floor length ball-gown in chunky wool with the same amount of stitches if I was inclined to do so, which I don’t think I am. As proof of the itty bittiness of the yarn and corresponding needles, I have pushed a small but quite painful hole into my right index finger from pushing stitches off the left needle.

Now, I love knitting so much that I would otherwise be happy to work through this pain except that I have also (deliberately) knit myself a sweater for the me I aspired to be when I began to knit it and have very unfortunately though not totally unpredictably, not become. I know, I know.

My excuse is very good though (I think). Here’s the official story: I had just given birth to the most wonderful beautiful miracle of a baby in the whole history of the world and was expecting to shrink dramatically very soon thereafter which didn’t totally happen. The unofficial and probably more honest story, is that I just didn’t want to knit the “extra large” size in this pattern because I didn’t feel like identifying as extra large. I could blame my fragile emotional state as a new Mom, but I have a feeling I would have done this without it. I guess I kind of thought that maybe since the designers didn’t use mega skinny models and since they are, themselves, seemingly fairly normal sized people, that maybe their sizing would reflect that. Sad face. No, wait, not a sad face, a hopeful motivated goal setting kind of face (which, in case you’re wondering, might also be described as pained, hungry, and sore from doing the New York City Ballet Workout DVD for the first time in a very long time). Truthfully, the sweater isn’t really going to be that small, but it would be a lot more comfortable if I could manage to be just a bit smaller. Maybe I just can’t bear to knit another teeny weeny stitch. Plus, I somehow have to crochet button holes at the very end and I have no clue how to do that. So, like a Lost Boy, I have to be made to fit the tree if I want to get into my cozy underground home slash sweater. Gosh I love that story.

When I was down on the coast I visited my super number one favourite yarn store , which is sadly (for my husband, who likes to be able to afford silly things like gas and food and car repairs and other similarly luxurious things for himself) located about three minutes from my parent’s home. I liked the colourway of my sweater so much (see above) that I bought it in a worsted weight yarn which is much thicker than the sock weight stuff and I’m knitting a hat and healing the hole in my hand and trying to imagine that my arms are getting smaller. So, yeah, having matchy matchy hat and sweater. Rakish, right? Whatever.

Anyway, for those of you who are just tuning in to see and hear the latest on our little love, we’ve been reading the House at Pooh Corner together, until one of us starts squirming. The writing is so lovely and even though I know she doesn’t really understand yet, it’s fun to get to practice my reading voice for my future career as professional reader of children’s fiction for which I fully expect to be compensated beyond my wildest dreams (said dreams being, admittedly, quite conservative).

It’s weird with Pooh though. I’m planning to try very hard to keep licensed characters out of her life and though we are using cloth diapers, I do put a disposable on her at night so I can get some sleep and guess who is featured on the front? Pooh. (Though I do like a good pun from time to time, I am turning up my nose at this one……so to speak. damn it. sorry.). Anyway, I live in a pretty small town, and I like paying a bit more for the green coloured package (read eco-friendly) so that I don’t feel so guilty for using a disposable and for suckers like me, Pooh is on the only game in town. Anyway, I’ve been following Raffi (as in singer of Baby Beluga) on Twitter and he turned me onto the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. I’m stoked that other people are into this idea in a big non-profit organization-creating kind of way. I feel pretty alone up here with hardly anyone except my marvelous husband to talk to about my fears about a raising my child in a crazy backwards consumer-driven culture. So, Internet, you great and terrible series of tubes, hear my hopes and fears. Hopefully by writing about this I will start to feel a little less frustrated and anxious and angry and alone about this particular topic.

Oooh! And to end on a slightly lighter note, I am very excited that tomorrow is Tuesday and that the library is open after being shut for two days and I can get the next season of Six Feet Under, a delightful and hilarious show about….death! I’m done Season One and loving it. Really. I know it is old news, but with no cable, limited Internet, and a big fine waiting for me at the video store, free HBO TV shows at the library are pretty great.