Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's Beginning to Feel alot like Christmas

I have been potting like mad over the last few weeks, getting ready for the upcoming holiday sale season. I will be selling my work at the Owl Designer Fair, November 26 and 27, 2010. I will also be selling at the Moss Street Market Holiday Market, December 11 and 12, 2010.

Here are just a few examples of the type of work I have been doing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Beyond the Fifth Quadrant

A friend stopped by today to retrieve some tables that I borrow for the summer markets. As we stood chatting in the drizzle about our day ahead, I was inspired by her list for the day. She told me she was working on five projects. Five, wow, I was impressed. I had showered this morning and I was feeling pretty accomplished by that alone.

So when I returned inside, I decided I too should work on 5 projects, none quite as complex however as my friends, mine were more like tasks. I decided I would write down my five tasks, regardless how small they seemed and try and make it through the list. The 'Five Project Project' I called it.
1. Make Pizza for my two neighbours who recently had babies.
2. Change Piper's sheets.
3. Put the duvet cover back on my duvet.
4. Sort the coat closet.
5. Finish this weeks homeschool reports.

I quickly realized I didn't have the makings for pizza and swapped out #1, I would instead change Jack's sheets instead. I will make pizza tomorrow (and I will make enough to feed my family as well, dinner done for tomorrow, yippee).

I enjoyed this challenge, the tasks were simple and manageable and it make feel happy to check them off. We even managed to slip out for a walk in the rain to have coffee with a few of my closest friends up the street. And feeling rather accomplished, I managed to mentally add some more tasks, like washing the bedding, and organizing a bag of clothes for donation and give away.

In my continued search of finding ways to make my life and household run more smoothly, I like this idea of the 5 project Project and I may continue it, perhaps for 5 days. And what better way to end your day than to climb in nice clean sheets with fluffy duvets.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I love autumn, it is so wonderful. The air feels so fresh, dew in the morning on the grass, crisp leaves changing colours against a vivid blue sky. I love summer too, hot weather, pretty skirts and shorts, long evenings with friends. Winter is not my favourite, but I feel it is short, so I move onto Spring, new growth, fresh flowers, the promise of summers warmth. Sorry I digress, back to Autumn, you see, even though we homeschool so our year stays pretty constant, I still feel that fresh beginning of September. I remember back to school shopping as a child, a time to buy your new shoes, a new school uniform (being the last of eight, it was a 'new to me' uniform), but I always got new shoes. In my university days, it was new cords and some new sweaters. September is like a new year. We begin new lessons and start back up the ones we put on hold over the summer months. It is usually a very crazy month, trying to juggle everyones schedules, trying to remember everyones schedules and trying to get back to 'home learning'. I spend most of the month feeling like I am treading water, always feeling as though I am supposed to be somewhere. I keep a pretty good log, utilizing calenders and lists, but the feeling is with me until I am in the swing of things. So usually, by the time October rolls around, I am back on dry land, my head stops swimming and I work like a well oiled machine, bad on timing usually, but getting the job done all the same.

This October is no different. I even had one of those a-ha moments, a bit like watching news on tv when they lose the live feed and then the anchor says "...and we're back". Ever since we put our house on the market, and then took it off. I have felt a sort of one foot out the door mentality. Never really sure if I was coming or going. But now, as I tuck away my summer clothes and pull out some beloved sweaters and continue my search for the perfect pair of cords, I am back. Our fall schedules are in full swing. We are busy, but so far all happy.

We had a great Thanksgiving, I made pumpkin pies, one vegan, one not. They were both good. And now we are gearing up for Halloween. I am getting busy and am feeling very inspired by my pottery as I prepare for 3 upcoming holiday sales.

I am sad to say good-bye to summer, having felt like we were a bit ripped off by the weather this year, but I am fully embracing Autumn and all it has to offer.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Love Lists!!!

I have always loved making lists. I love being able to check something off, written proof of a task accomplished. Also, I feel that sometimes putting it on paper is just another way of putting it out to the universe that something needs to be done. Sometimes I even cut photos out things out and put the in a file. One time I saw a picture of a really cute swim cap and I cut it out tossed it in my "Good Things" file and didn't think much about it after that. About a year or so later I was culling things in my files and found the picture of the swim cap, I had a good laugh, because without remembering the photo, I had purchased the exact swim cap. I also have picture of a Tuscan villa, and I am still waiting for it to come to fruition.

Anyway, today I was reading an article about making lists and came across this website and I liked the look of it and the idea of the number, currently my age. So I began typing and voila! the list began to evolve. I have now added a link on the blog to my list of goals/dreams/intentions.

I have always liked 101 lists, and I also read recently about 101 things in 1001 days. I think I will start with the 43 things. So far I have 10, they may change, I may add some, I may delete. Who knows. But, I just love lists and you just never know, it may be exactly what I need to get myself going and achieve some of these goals.

Monday, August 23, 2010

For Tara With Love

Hand built porcelain tea pot in cream with paisley stamp pattern and turquoise blue interior.

Porcelain pendant and bangle with Japanese flower pattern.

In case you have just stumbled upon this post and not come from the For Tara with Love blog, I will give a little heads up. Our home schooling community lost a dear friend recently. She was the mother of two fantastic children and the partner to a very committed husband. The amazing community that we are so fortunate to be a part of, with the help of some very generous people have rallied around and have planned a family fun carnival. This will be a fundraiser to help keep this family at home together through this period of grieving and loss. The posting is pictures of the pottery I have donated to the silent auction.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ever notice how in the story of the boy who cried wolf, they never talk about how terrible the mother felt after the wolf came and ate the boy. Parenting can be like that, how to decipher the 'wolf' from the Academy Award worthy wounded cry. A number of my children have a flair for the dramatic, so I am becoming quite skilled in assessing injury based upon the decibel and quality of the scream, and more often than not, the real injuries come with alot less volume. Let's be honest, we have all missed one of those cries, the ones where you think/say, "brush it off, let me give you a kiss, it will be alright", only to find that there really is a wound in need of some tending. A goose egg, or a rather nasty scratch/cut. But again, in my experience, the injuries, the ones that require a trip to the emergency room, not only is it the sound of the cry, but it is gut instinct. Something inside tells you this is not a stubbed toe, or a bad bruise. This is the time to come up with a plan.

Tonight we were having dinner out. Sofie and Jane had been at their friends house for the afternoon and the rest of our family was going to meet up and we would all have dinner together. They had had a great afternoon, lots of fun, no injuries. Sam and I had only arrived 30 minutes earlier when we heard a cry from the back garden, "Mama, I have really hurt myself". A cry that was seriously lacking in dramatics and volume. More like a wounded animal, a deeper, guttural cry. On some level, I knew instantly that this was going to be bad, but I guess in my hope of hopes, I was trying to think it was a hurt, not an injury, trying to think positively.

It seems (though, still rather unclear,) that Jane had either jumped or fallen out of a window, about 2 metres. She landed on her feet and pitched forward onto her right arm. She came running to me, we assessed where she was hurt and then she laid down on a picnic rug with me while my friend grabbed a bag of ice. Jane seemed tired, maybe even hungry. I sat with her and tried to evaluate how bad it was, her arm ached, but she was fine everywhere else. After a short time I checked her arm and by then there was a large lump and swelling. I looked at Sam and said we were going to need to go, he gathered her up, left me and the rest of the children and headed to emergency.

It is now nearly eleven and I am waiting for them to return home. I have news, Jane has fractured her radius and about an hour ago they were waiting for her to have a cast put on. (Ever noticed how many children have casts on in the summer?) You know, we as parents try, we try to protect our children from danger. We stop them as they try to sneak a bottle of dish liquid out to the trampoline with the sprinkler underneath, we teach them to look both ways before crossing the road, but in those instances where we just sit back, enjoy a glass of wine with some friends, these things can happen. We can't protect them all the time, and really, life happens, you just go with it. The important thing is to just be there for them if you can when these things happen. Let them know you love them, let them know things happen, we try to be safe, make safe choices, but we can't prepare for everything.

Jane's arm will heal and we will learn from this. And if there is one thing I have learned for certain, go with your gut, it generally won't steer you wrong.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Each morning when I come home from yoga, I step inside our front gate and pause there for a moment. Our garden is spectacular. And in the early morning quiet, it is just so peaceful, so idyllic. We have taken our house off the market, but when it was for sale, I used to think that this is when people should come for the viewings, about 7 or 7:30am. Everything seem so fresh, so alive. Maybe in retrospect, I should be happy that no one came to see it like this, they may have bought it. And sure we could use a little more space and another bathroom, but let me tell you, I don't mind staying here.

We made the decision a few weeks back not to sell. The market had slowed, pretty much the day we listed, and selling was taking longer than we had imagined. Also, Sam decided it was time to make a career change, and banks get kind of funny about mortgaging a new house with out income verification, funny how that is. I do believe things happen for a reason. Shortly after we made the decision to stay, we were at a friends birthday with a lot of our friends from the neighbourhood, and everyone kept telling us how happy they were that we weren't leaving. I think it was nice for Sam to hear this. As the person at home with children, I am sort of the family frontline in the neighbourhood, Sam busy working, doesn't get that level of interaction on a regular basis. To have all these people happy we were staying I think really reaffirmed for Sam how fortunate we are to live in a great community.

I don't want to get too complacent, as one never knows what the future holds, especially when your partner is in the midst of a career change. But for now, I am happy to be here. I am happy to have Sam home, fixing things around the house and spending time as a family. I am happy to enjoy my beautiful garden and my wonderful friends. I will make the most of these moments and really be grateful for them.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tourist in My own Town

It seems that summer has finally arrived. Yeah. I was getting very tired of Juneuary!! Not to mention my children being upset with me for packing up their puffy coats. So, we have had lovely weather this week which timed nicely with my sister and her husbands visit from Australia. We decided it would be nice to get out and take in some of the amazing things that Vancouver Island has to offer.

We began with a delicious meal and strawberry shortcake made with fresh local strawberries. The next morning we cooked a big delicious pancake breakfast, more fresh berries and then headed off to hike up Mount Douglas. It is a great place to hike, it is easy enough for children to do, (Sam did have to carry Piper part of the way) and the view from the top is just beautiful. You will have to excuse me, as my sister had the camera and I will have to get some pictures from her. You get a panoramic view of the southern tip of Vancouver Island. We finished off our day with a walk around the inner harbour and some yummy fish and chips at Fisherman's Wharf.

Wednesday was Sofie's birthday and breakfast of choice was waffles with whip cream. More fresh local berries for those who like fruit. We then headed out to Butchart Gardens. It was a gorgeous day, probably the hottest all week. The gardens were packed with people from all over the world, so some areas were a bit like a lineup and if you went the opposite direction it was like a fish swimming up stream. The Japanese garden was spectacular. And the children enjoyed riding the Carousel. We had a lovely birthday dinner for Sofie and I made one of her favourite desserts, Meringues with Whip Cream. (We literally went through 2 litres of whip cream this week.)

Thursday we had a busy day planned with a walk to Witty's Lagoon in the morning. It is a lovely hike down a wooded path to the beach. The tide was way out so we were able to wonder out on the sand. We saw some beautiful Swans. It was a busy day down there, as there seemed to be a number of different schools with large groups. We still had a great time, went for a little wade and played some frisbee. Then it was back up the trail, where Jack was very excited that we got to see a very small dead bat, and off to Point Ellice House. At Point Ellice House we enjoyed a yummy and filling Victoria Style Tea on the lawn, played some Croquet and wondered around the beautiful gardens. It was a really lovely day capped off a visit at home from some good friends who were about to head back to Wales.

On Friday I took my sister and her husband to my favourite bike shop, North Park Bike Shop, and seriously, you would be hard pressed to find better customer service than there. The owners are lovely and they have a fantastic selection of Electra bikes, a family favourite.

I really enjoyed my time with my sister and her husband. I really miss her when she is so far away, and am extremely envious of her and the weather she gets to enjoy. It was fun to play tourist in your own city, it opens to you to so many possibilities and hidden gems.

*The cupcakes at the top are Rootbeer Float Cupcakes I made for Sofie's Birthday party, the recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Dutch Cheese and Butter Cleanse

I was having a conversation with a couple of friends recently about our generation's fascination with going on cleanses. I have tried a couple, some went well, some were a hopeless failure. I have also heard of some really seemingly ridiculous cleanses. One friend reported his girlfriend dumped him at Day 5 of an 'Apple Cleanse', I am just surprised he hung on till Day 5. We have another friend who swears by the lemon water with cayenne and maple syrup, he does it every year. Another friend does the Wild Rose twice a year, the Wild Rose was my hopeless failure.

We began to wonder if part of the cleanse fascination was potential weight loss and then wondered if this was our generation's idea of a diet?

Personally I know that I have tried cleanses to try to get myself back on track to eating healthier well rounded meals. Generally in the spring, I try to knock off the wheat that I have survived upon all winter. I really have a weakness for bagels. I have tried giving up dairy, but I just love cheese too much. Last year I managed 30 days with no dairy, I am not sure how. I mean I do really try to eat healthy, I live in a household of vegetarians. But really, just try to hold me back from a friend cinnamon raisin Mount Royal Bagel with honey vanilla cream cheese.

So, last week with spring well upon us, I decided it was time to eradicate the wheat and dairy. I lasted till about lunch. Sunday is not a good day to start a cleanse. Apparently neither was monday or tuesday. Each day my valiant efforts were worn down by late afternoon. I did manage to go one whole day no wheat and dairy. Ooops apparently wine is not allowed on this cleanse, and I am meant to meet a friend for a drink. I'll start again next week.

This year the cleansing has not gone as well. Is it more parties, or perhaps my 'been there, done that' attitude? I am struck by a comment one of my readers mentioned on an earlier post, "what things would you do, if there was no chance of failing at it?" Perhaps knowing I can do it without fail has brought me to a failing wall. It really should be the opposite. I just can't quite put my finger on it. Perhaps in my heart of hearts I am really not that interested in cleansing, and I should just get over it and make more of an effort to live by what I really am committed too, everything in moderation, including moderation.

This, I believe, I cannot fail at.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Brisk Walk and a cup of Tea

I often think that the majority of problems both personal and global could be settled over tea and/or a good brisk walk. I think perhaps my working brain is directly connected to the cadence of my feet. A good pace and the thoughts just start flowing, a bit like a mouse on a wheel. This morning I decided to skip yoga and hit the streets. I laced up my shoes, charged up my iPod and headed out the door. I have a lot on my mind right now and I just needed to get out and get some fresh air. I find music helpful, my current playlist of choice is the two albums by Dan Mangan, they seem to help me walk and think.

We are currently facing a change in financial circumstances and for the next while we will be dealing with some uncertainty. So, my topic of the day was to come up with some strategies to get through the next couple of months.

If you know me, you will know, I am not that great with money. I have an unnatural love of shoes, strollers (I have owned 11) and bikes, I currently own 2. Notice I left the shoe count out!!! I am also one of the world's biggest procrastinators. I have journals and journals filled with my great ideas for saving money, getting in shape and getting organized. Sadly they span about 20 years. Don't worry I don't really waste too much time thinking about it, it seems the moment I finish jotting down my big plans, I am back to enjoying life, hanging with my family, buying shoes and eating meringues.

I recently signed up for a daily online newsletter with a group called the Smart Cookies, hoping to pick up some sweet tips for becoming more financially savvy. It has only been a week so, I will have to report back on whether this is helping. The tips are good, it is just, will I put them into action or not.

My walk this morning was very helpful, I am all geared up to get busier over the next few weeks making pottery and I am planning on opening up my studio for the Fernwood Art Stroll and also being at Moss Street for the Moss Street Paint In. I am very excited about the pottery I have been working on so this gets me very excited.

Now for the tea part, I think I shall enjoy a cup and mull over my thoughts and decisions, come up with a plan of action and a schedule to try and work with in. I will keep you posted.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Fifth Quadrant

Recently, before deciding to sell, I looked at all the areas in my house that needed to be sorted and reorganized, I assigned them a degree of difficulty between 1 and 5, with 5 being the most difficult. The attic for instance was a five, my dresser a 1. I then added up all the numbers and divided it by 5, the number of days Sam was taking off for 'staycation'. It was the end of the fiscal year at the company he works for and he had some days off he needed to use up. At this time we had no inclination to go anywhere, so I figured I would let him do the homeschooling and I would reorganize the house and do some pottery. It seemed like a great plan. I would have 7 points of reorganizing difficulty to sort through each day.

Monday rolled around, it was just so great to have him home, I could go to yoga a little later, a leisurely cup of tea, some general hanging with the family, piano lessons etc. and soon it was time to make dinner. I figured I could push the week back into Saturday and I would still have 5 days to tackle 'the five quadrants' as I had begun calling them affectionately. To divide the task into four days would have been ambitious at best, I felt I was being realistic with five days.

Tuesday, I caught up on some emailing and paper work, you know the pre-clean organize. More tea, more hanging with the family and so the week went. By Thursday, Sam and I had been able to spend some quality time together, the kind of time where you get to discuss more than what is for dinner and who is going to what lesson or play date and so on. We talked about our house and the need for more space and another bathroom, and with this on the table there seemed no point in me organizing. If we were going to move, and I was going to have to pack at some point, there was no need for me to agonize over the sorting right away.

Thus began my journey, wrapping my head around the idea, trying to see the positives in the idea of moving. I didn't manage to get any pottery done either, it seemed like everything got put on the back burner as we figured out our next move. Thus shelving my "Fifth Quadrant".

I did lots of yoga that week, took some naps, and spent some great time with the people who mean the most to me. I am back doing pottery and I have cleared alot out of the house, and I free-cycled some of the clutter. I have done alot of soul searching recently and I have now realized, there is alot more than just organization in my fifth quadrant, there are many things I put off for another day, while I do what makes me truly happy. And I think, we all should have a fifth quadrant, somewhere to put the the things that at the end of the day really aren't as important as the everyday.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Queen of Denial

So, remember about a month back, I published a post, The Village Vibe, about how great it was to live in the same place for a good period of time, well lets just say that was a bit of a Freudian slip. I guess I was living in denial, thinking that my lovely 1500 sq. ft cottage was ample for myself, my four growing children and my 6'5" husband. Alas, I was mistaken, it has become abundantly apparent that we are quickly (read already) outgrowing our home. So, we came to a decision a few weeks back that we need to look for a larger place. Sadly this means leaving our wonderful neighbourhood as there is nothing large enough in our budget.

I kind of shrunk back into myself as I came to terms with this whole idea. Leaving a place that fit me like a glove, a slightly small glove, but a glove all the same. Many of our friends who know us well, have stepped into this house, only to remark how "Sam and Mary" it is. We were so lucky when we found this home. I have moved many times in my life, too many to mention or be believed, but this move, to here, was the most seamless I have ever experienced. We immediately met a great group of like minded friends and neighbours. I found a great hairdresser, dentist and with a little search a great doctor.

The girls and Jack made friends, many on the same street. We found art classes, joined the Y and discovered music teachers who resonated with each child. Our house became alive with music and art. Our garden full of friends on a summers eve.

When we first saw this house, we were drawn in, like children drawn to the sound of a passing ice cream truck, giddy with excitement. There is something magical about this place. The garden is delightful, with many little areas to explore. The house full of hidden surprises, secret doors and cupboards. We stayed for the full open house and made an offer later that day. I am not sure if we picked this house, or it picked us.

I have packed away a great deal of what makes this house our home, so someone else can imagine their lives within these walls. I have filled boxes, moved furniture, taken down all that is personal to me. It has been hard, there have been many tears. But, I do have to say putting so much in boxes did reaffirm for me the need for a larger space.

I have come to terms with moving on, this is the right move for our family. I am looking forward. But for now I must sit, waiting in limbo, for that special person that this house chooses as it's next owner.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Earth Hour

We observed Earth Hour the other evening. With a few minutes to spare I scrambled around the house, lit some candles and powered down the computer, turned off all the lights as well as many other electrical devices in the house. The children loved it, the whole idea of the candles, trying to get ready for bed, it was fun for them. They asked lots of questions and relayed lots of ideas. They were intrigued that that was how Laura and Mary Ingalls had to live, how they had to get ready for bed by candle light. It was nice to see their references.

What we didn't cover, was that there were no street lights casting a glow on the Ingall's cottage, and if Mary and Laura needed to go the bathroom before bed, it was outside!!!! The whole idea of getting an email to remind you to shut off your lights for one hour for the earth is so far from Mary and Laura that it is almost absurd.

But I have to say in the stillness of that hour, when everyone was off to bed, it was heavenly. So quiet and the glow from candles is just so warming and wonderful. I was slow to turn any lights back on when the hour was over. (I did have a small book light that I used read a Real Simple magazine). I mean what would Caroline have done. Again, a magazine celebrating the simple living is completely absurd in terms of the Ingalls. Can you just imagine what Charles would have said if he came home to find Caroline reading a magazine by candlelight. I am sure there were things to be done, dresses to be mended, dishes to be washed.

That evening Sam and I discussed how great it was and how much the children enjoyed it and how it opened up many discussions about the environment and how to be good citizen of planet Earth. We thought we should do it more often.

The next morning I was informed that we were not using the computer or any other electronic devices for the whole day, so I couldn't blog. Now one hour of candle light was delightful, but a whole day without internet, blogging, etsy, email, or even solitaire on the iPod, that was a chore. I know, I know, Caroline could easily show me a thing or two about what a chore really is, but I am not Caroline and this is not the turn of the last century.

I feel we are really fortunate for the time we live in, we have the ability to choose, we can live simple or all plugged in. And I think the important thing is finding that balance. I survived sunday with no internet etc, and I really enjoyed it, so much so we are thinking about scaling back for the month of April. No TV/Movies for sure.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fight or Flight

In circumstances where I am faced with a fight or flight decision, I will usually take option C. Curl up in a ball. I am not competitive and I am most certainly not confrontational. But this spills over into other non-challenging areas of my life. For instance, if we were meant to meet for a workout and you are not able to make it, I too will likely skip. I will take the softer, cushier perhaps less bumpy road.

The other day I was looking forward to 3 hours with just myself and Piper. I had planned on going for a big walk, but the weather had gone sideways; snow and sun, snow and sun, on and off all day long. The fire was on, I was in comfy clothes and I really could just have made some tea and done some knitting. Then I remembered a lovely sunny day recently where a friend wanted to go for a walk and I was tired and would have been more than happy to sit in the sun and have a cup of tea, but we went for that walk and it was so lovely and all the children came with us and we had a great time. So, snowy weather be damned, I was going to go for a walk. I pack up Piper in buggy, put on her "bubble" (rain cover) and headed out. She was asleep with in just a few blocks. I kept going, my goal, the ocean, about 25 minutes away. I could have turned back, put her in her bed and spent a quiet afternoon alone, but I pressed on. The weather continued changing, so did I, coat on, coat off, etc., etc. When I reached the ocean, it was sunny and calm, I walked along the waterfront for quite a while before turning back to home.

I felt so exhilarated, it was truly quite a beautiful day and I feel so fortunate to live close to the ocean. I could see large clouds of rain blowing in farther up the coast, while beams of sun streamed through the dark clouds. I love the sound that the ocean makes as it rolls in and out over the pebbled beach. I was not too cold and not windy. The good and bad thing about going for a long walk away from home is that you have to walk all the way back home.

It was a good walk and I got to admire all the blossoming trees. I was really glad I had fought the urge to just curl up and take it easy. It seems that sometimes we just really need to give our selves that little extra push and it will all be worth it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wandering Yogi

I purchased a great pass called the Wandering Yogi, from Lululemon, it was a fundraiser for Kidsport. The cost was $25 and you were able to attend one class at each of 10 studios around town. Some were for cross training, yoga, dance and even boxing. It ran through the months of January and February, and in true Mary form, I spent February 20 to 28th trying to cram in 8 classes. I did fairly well I think, I only missed two of the 10 studios. It was such a great experience being able to try out classes that perhaps I wouldn't normally have done, like boxing for instance. (I actually really loved the boxing one, it was a circuit class and at the end you got to put on some gloves and go-at-it on the big bag, I was a bit surprised how much I liked that last part).

I learned alot about myself trying all the different classes, like say for instance, at Bellyfit, I am still as uncoordinated as when I tried aerobics in my late teens, but it was fun to try out the different moves. I also found out I am tougher than I give myself credit. I went the whole 75 minutes of "The Drill", another circuit training class with 30 different stations, 2 minutes each and three of them were riding a bike without a seat! I could barely move two days later, but I also learned I had muscles I didn't know I had.

I got to check out five different yoga studios that I had never been to before and get a sampling of teachers. It was really great. I love yin yoga, I think it is a nice balance to the Ashtanga I normally do. I skipped hot yoga as I had tried that before and felt it was more fun to try new things. I did a fantastic Primary Series class with an awesome teacher named Darla at Yoga Shala.

At the end of it all, I came to this conclusion. I don't like to run unless I am being chased. I like to walk, though I don't really wander, as I walk at a pretty good pace. And as much as I really enjoyed the circuit training, yoga, specifically Ashtanga is my exercise of choice. I feel really lucky to have two wonderful instructor/mentors in Jeff and Harmony Lichty. And Ashtanga gives me the peace of mind I need to get through my day. So perhaps, I am not a wandering yogi but a Walking Yogi.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lost in a world of perler beads, felting and free home makeovers.

It has taken me a little while to post again. I am still here, just a little distracted. I have been busy planning my spring, figuring out my pottery for the upcoming season, as well as other creative outlets. Also, busy with the wee ones. Homeschooling, government exams, crafting and just generally running the "book store".

Jack has been really into fuse beads lately, he has been blending this with his love of birds and butterflies and has been making some wonderful creations.

The girls have been really into needle felting and now they have me jumping on the bandwagon, at any moment anywhere in my home you can find a chunk of foam, a needle and a bag full of roving. I am also engrossed in a knitting project I began the other night. It is a lovely bag from a Rooster kit a I purchased a couple of years ago and never got around to making. I am so excited, I can hardly wait till it is done, it is pink and cream coloured.

It is great how when you get started on one creative project, it just gets things going creatively in many areas. I guess it is just the freshness of spring helping out.

As for the home make overs, if you are not too concerned about the results, homeschoolers will often offer free make overs!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Village Vibe

I really used to enjoy my early morning dog walks when our dog was still alive. Now I sometimes take those walks, just on my own. I love how when you have lived in the same place for awhile you get to know it well. You know which trees blossom early, which lilac has the purplest flowers, which gardens you would love to have, etc.

You also get to know your neighbours, you know how long your children can scream on the trampoline before one of them comes to complain, you know which one has chickens and you can get eggs in a pinch. (I even have one lovely neighbour who disposed of a dead rotting rat for me). You also know who you can call for a cup of sugar, or a cup of coffee or who you can drop all your children off to when your doctor's "receptionist" diagnoses your husband with a 'heart attack'. (Read: Torn muscle, after 3 hours at emerg!)

We have now lived in the same fantastic neighbourhood for over 2 years, that is alot for us, we who have moved more that a group of fugitives on the run from the law. We have moved about 13 times in 15 years!!!! I am now a wiz at packing, decluttering, not so much. Having been here, I am really enjoying the feeling of being a part of a community. We have made great friends. We have met some wonderful people. I enjoy watching the seasons ebb and flow. I know that during the winter we don't see everyone as much, but as the weather warms there will be plenty of afternoons in the Adirondacks sipping bubbly or g&ts. I know the sandbox will be full of children and the paddling pool will be the center point of the garden. I know I will clean up the mess from homemade lemonade while the children count their earnings. Those days are just around the corner, I can feel that.

As spring arrives and I begin to come out of the quagmire of January and February, I am finding more energy, more focus and a lot more motivation, now is a time where I could safely make resolutions. Perhaps, I should more deeply celebrate Chinese New Years, as it seems to resonate with my own internal calendar. And really I love the ideas of new starts, I even like to celebrate my Personal New Year on my birthday, and I feel like September is a sort of "New Year" and after all, couldn't we all use a few more chances, another chance to start fresh.

I also feel this is a great time to do some soul searching and really put into perspective the things for which we are most grateful. And as I create my list of gratitudes I find family and friends at the top. I feel very fortunate that I have a fantastic and supportive family and we live in a great community. I am often reminded that it takes a village to raise a child and I am so grateful to have found my 'village'.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

I have never really been one to celebrate Valentine's Day, I always sort of thought about it as one of the many commercially driven holidays, used to inspire sales of chocolate, flowers, cards and gifts, boost restaurant numbers and bring about a rebirth of unworn "grad" dresses. So I was somewhat surprised to find myself looking forward to this year's Valentine's day. I have actually been thinking about it for weeks now. Perusing one of my favourite sites for activities and crafts for my children and planning some baking.

I guess that in recent years, I have begun to look at Valentine's Day somewhat differently. In the midst of a year full of these out of control commercial holidays, one after the other. (Yesterday in the shops along side the Valentine's display, I saw the beginnings of the Easter display) I feel it is important to try and step back and try to take these celebrations back to their simplest meanings, and Valentine's is the celebration of love, and no one can argue with that. More love, bring it on.

This week we went to a small get together where our children exchange hand made Valentine cards and ate cupcakes, yesterday the girls and I walked back to Plenty and picked up some more chocolate, today we will try Corazon, a dark chocolate with the essence of vanilla and rose. I have also planned a nice dinner with my family and I will bake a cake, a chocolate one.

We began our morning with a family cuddle, all 6 of us in our big bed. There is a loving way to start your day. Then I made myself a coffee and climbed into a lavender bubbly tub and read a magazine. When I was done, I was treated to a breakfast of heart shaped pancakes.

Just now the children have shared some handmade Valentine's they made for us and each other. They are just so beautiful. I have now been converted to the beauty of Valentine's by finding the important meaning while not being sucked into a swirling vortex of unnecessary spending and gift buying, because really the best gift you can give is the gift of love and that cannot be bought. That and Valentine's Day is a wonderful excuse to eat more chocolate (though I have been unable to find out how chocolate made it's way into Valentine's Day).

A day of Love and Chocolate who could disagree with that.

Friday, February 12, 2010

If you haven't already visited my etsy store to check out my hand made creations, which you really should, you can leave a comment on the Kids in Victoria - Gift Wars posting and be entered for chance to win this beautiful, made by me pendant.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Strategic Planning

While out for a walk by the ocean this morning, I was thinking about my 'career' and I remembered another of my favourite movie quotes, this one from the movie 'Say Anything' where John Cusack's character Lloyd says "A career? I've thought about this quite a bit sir and I would have to say considering what's waiting out there for me, I don't want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I dont want to sell anything bought or processed or buy anything sold or processed or repair anything sold, bought or processed as a career. I dont want to do that. My father's in the army. He wants me to join, but I can't work for that corporation, so what I've been doing lately is kick-boxing, which is a new far as career longevity, I dont really know. I cant figure it all out tonight, sir, so I'm just gonna hang with your daughter.".

I mean I know what my career is, I have produced four children, and I am in the process of trying to turn them into valuable world citizens. I don't kick box. Now as far as trying to generate a little income for my family outside of what I do full time, this is where I am at somewhat of a loss. I have always tried to live by the 'do something you love and try to find a way for that to make some money'. But seriously is anyone going to pay me to hang out with family and friends drinking coffee or cocktails. If so, tell me who and I will forward my CV. Though from the sounds of that job, I will only need references, and those, I have a plenty.

I love to make things, but I also don't want my 'love to make things' turn into a 'have to make things'. I had a conversation the other day with a friend who made some suggestions about my pottery. Making more sets, so people can know what I have and begin collecting. But I am just not so sure. I do sort of keep along the same lines, but I really do make the things that interest me. I love to make bowls and mugs and butter dishes and jewelry. But I really just like to go where the mood strikes me. Sort of one of kind pottery, but is this what people want. Really I am just doing some soul searching today.

I worry sometimes that I can either homeschool well, or be an artist well, but right now I feel like Jack of all Trades, Master of None. I am searching for that balance. That mythical place where we all eat healthy foods, exercise; physically, mentally, spiritually, creatively, and emotionally, as well as finding time for family and friends and also somehow having a fulfilling career.

I am on a journey, I am having some personal strategic planning time. I think I need a little more of a structured schedule. Perhaps even a business plan as well as a curriculum. This is a process and I will work it all out, but I can't figure it all out tonight, so for right now I am just going to hang with my family. I will figure it out, because, at the end of day, I much too big of a PollyAnna to think I can't have it all.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sharing is Caring

I had a wonderful day yesterday. Sofie and Jane have a friend who they usually play with all together, but yesterday Jane said she didn't feel like going to play. I quickly jumped at the chance to have some one on one time with Jane. I think it is so important to spend one on one time with your children if you can, it is so nice to have uninterrupted conversations and just to experience them on their own. Often some wonderful traits get to pop out when they have the full attention of one person. Jane was keen to join me and we set about planning our time together.

Hot chocolate seemed to be a good idea, not just any hot chocolate, but a good hot chocolate. I began researching where to get the best hot chocolate, I was thinking traditional mexican style hot chocolate. I have now heard Solstice cafe is the place to go, though I can't confirm as we never made it there. Instead, we decided to head down to a lovely little shop called Plenty. We heard they were doing chocolate and salt tastings, and also, a friend works their part time and I thought she may be there and she would definitely know the place to go for a good hot chocolate.

Jane is no ordinary chocolate chomping child. She is a bit of an epicurean. She carefully sampled the chocolates, decided on her favourites and then proceeded to sample the salts. And the chocolate and salt Plenty had to offer were fantastic. Jane and I settled on chocolate by Organicfair and our favourite being their Canadiana, a heavenly combo of 70% cacao dark chocolate with maple syrup, sundried apples and alder smoked salt. The perfect combination of sweet with a subtle salt. Funny enough my favourite salt was also a smoked salt, though Jane was not a big fan, but hey she is only 9.

After purchasing a couple bars of chocolate and some rootbeer candies, we proceeded to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, to have a wonder around and take in some of the wonderful art they have. They truly have an amazing collection and we particularily enjoyed the paper and textile creations of Sayaka Aikyama accompanied by the diary entries that inspired them. Again, so wonderful to have one on one time and really see where Jane's interests lie. She is an amazing artist and loves art very much, we really enjoyed the gallery.

We then proceeded toward home and stopped for a hot chocolate and a little snack at the Cornerstone Cafe, one of our favourite coffee spots. I enjoyed a chai latte and Jane got her much promised hot chocolate and it was a good one.

In the end we were both tired from the long walk, but happy, having enjoyed some wonderful treats and some great time together, just the two of us. And everyone else was happy as we brought chocolate back to share.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shovelling during a Snow Storm

I really loved the part of 'About A Boy' where Will discusses thinking of the day as units of time, not more than half an hour. Sometimes as my day goes by, I do think of it as just that, burning units of time. And I do wonder, where do all those units go, they seem to just fly by.

I look around my house that is pretty much in a constant state of looking as though it has been ransacked by burglars. (Though I am not sure what they would find; a handful of stale rice crackers and few headless play mobil men). If you have never seen my house in this state, I have some sad news for you, clearly we have not reached that place in our relationship where I am comfortable showing you the soft under belly of my true self.

I just don't know how one person (or even two) is supposed to do all this. I have begun to delegate certain responsibilities to the children, I think this is important on so many levels, not least of all, my sanity. But, in a given week I have 5 beds to change, 100 finger and toe nails to clip, numerous bottom wipes, (not all my own), 21 meals to prepare, more loads of laundry than I can count, at least 10 lessons to deliver and pick children up from and the list goes on. And at the end of this I am supposed to create time for myself and for my spouse.

I am not alone, fortunantely, but really, is it so bad if the tidying gets the designation of the last remaining, and somewhat versatile units of time. Lets just call them flex units. So I can tidy, or I can take my children to the park. Or, I can tidy or I can do a craft, or blog, or whatever. And I have always said that cleaning with children in the house is like shovelling during the snow storm.

So, as I sit here on my bed with two baskets of unfolded laundry, having spent a delightful morning playing here and on etsy, I remind myself, I have just used up 4 units of time, and they were flex units, so all is okay. And I promise I will not look back at the end of my life and say "Gee I wish I had spent less time with my family and more time cleaning."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blog Obsession

I was told this would happen. I would become obsessed with my blog, I would spend endless hours tweaking, reading, dreaming. On Saturday the narrative in my head played out like one endless blog post. I dreamed of blogger toolbars, and even photographed all my food, you never know what may be needed for future posts. I had to take a step back, focus. Even though I don't have a focus, I needed to take my mind out of blogtopia. I don't want to become one of those people who friends avoid, for fear of becoming part of my blog. Also, I have a family and that is priority number one.

So, I pushed back, tried to take a wee breather. But the problem with me is that sometimes out of sight really is out of mind. That and the procrastinator takes over. The blog has not been far from my mind, I just wasn't sure what to say. And even though I am not fully sure today, here I am. The old, jump and the net will appear. I am jumping. Where is my net?

I have been busy this past week, I feel the blogging is getting my creative juices flowing. I have been knitting and sculpting. And the children have been feeling the vibe also. Sofie and Jane went and did some needle felting and they even did some sculpting on their own. I love to see the creations they come home with. They are always so excited to share and the beauty comes through in their enthusiasm. It is always so special to have something you created with your own hands. And always special to have something made for you, or something you made for someone else.

This week in my knitting frenzy, I made a toque for Piper. I made one earlier in the week and was down to the last 3 rows when I realized it was a generous fit on my own head. So, I pulled it all apart and started again. It took me only one evening to finish it and you can pretty much watch a tv or have a conversation while you do it. The pattern is pretty simple. I use a soft cotton yarn from Knitwear Architects, but you could use what ever wool you like. I used a size 6mm (size 10) needle for a 3 year old head. If you use smaller needles you can make toques for smaller heads. Some experimentation may be necessary, but who doesn't know any little people who would love little hand made hat, if it winds up the wrong size.

So here is what I do.
Cast on 60 stitches on a circular needle.
You just work in knit for about 1.5 to 2 inches.
Then I just begin making a stripe pattern, a couple rows of one colour, one of the next, two of the original, etc. etc. I just go where the mood and colour takes me. I really don't think you can go wrong. I work 18 rows in the stripe pattern and then begin decreasing as follows.

Decrease Round 1: *k8, k2tog, rep from *

Decrease Round 2: *k7, k2tog, rep from *

Decrease Round 3: *k6, k2 tog, rep from *

Decrease Round 4: *k5, k2 tog, rep from *

At this point, you will likely need to transfer to double pointed needles.

Decrease Round 5: *k4, k2 tog, rep from *

Decrease Round 6: *k3, k2 tog, rep from *

Decrease Round 7: K2tog all the way around

Then run the wool through the remaining 6 stitches and tie off.

You could also make this toque in a solid colour if you don't feel comfortable with all the changing wool and having to make sure you are securing them as you knit so you don't wind up with a great gaping hole at the back.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What's For Dinner

Feeling better today. Despite the chaotic respite of yesterday. Began my morning with the usual yoga. (Don't know how I ever coped before I found Jeff and Harmony). Came home, made myself a lovely coffee and began to usher orders of the day. Sofie and Jane were heading off to some friends for the morning, leaving me alone with Jack and Piper. Jack was jonesing for a trip to the Bugzoo, more than I could take on, knowing what was ahead for the afternoon. I convinced him to pop on one of his favourite Planet Earth dvds while I hopped in the tub.

I ran myself a steaming hot bubbly bath and decided to call a good friend, and report on how great yoga was this morning. I am about to slide myself into said bubbly bath, when in pops a toddler, who decides she should join me. "But it is too hot" I insist. She quickly strips down dips in a toe, and reports back that it is fine. Thwarted by a three year old!!!

My tub is now turned into a splash fest that involves handfuls of bubbles being lofted at the wall. "Stop it" I say, "You will wreck the wall". She does stop, but the next moment is eating them off and spitting them at ME! We loll around until the water begins to chill, I wash my hair and we both climb out.

I make a quick lunch and proceed to be urged to watch Planet Earth, for the next two hours when I really should be planning, if not making dinner. (I am still recouping from my cold, I convince myself, and sit down on the couch with a cup of tea).

So this is where things are going to get a bit messy, the schedule for the rest of the day is as follows.
3:30 Sofie and Jane to yoga (meanwhile, I will get the A string replaced on Jane's cello and return a bath math)
4:30 to the Paintbox to help Emily paint some mural pieces.
5:30 cello
6:00 dinner
7:00 gallery opening.

Does anyone see a time in there for me to cook dinner. No, I didn't think so. On the way to the music shop, I get a brainstorm. My vegan husband will not be around for dinner so I will take this opportunity to feed our children fish (Not Jack, like father like son). So after the A string, we swing by the bagel shop, pick up a dozen and make plans for Tuna melts.

Fortuitously while painting, my children invite Emily for dinner, as she will also be going to the art opening. I seize the opportunity for some adult conversation and extend the invitation, so generously offered by my children. I drop Jane off at cello, swing home with the rest of the tribe and begin making tuna melts. Emily arrives and, when I am about to dash out to grab Jane, she offers to go, taking along Sofie and Piper. I finish making dinner while they are gone.

I am pretty sure having dinner with four children may be enough to turn even the most patient person off ever having a family. Emily is a trooper, all her teaching makes her amazing with children. We all shared what we were greatful for today, then jetted off to the gallery to catch the opening of Great New Wave a Contemporary Japanese art exhibit.

But what is in my tuna melts you say.

Here goes,
I take two of the big cans (you can easily half or quarter this recipe) of water packed tuna, drained.
Mix with a couple table spoons of salad cream or mayonnaise (whatever is on hand)
Some frozen corn or chopped pickle or what ever your fancy and is available.
I like to grind up some fresh cumin and toss that in. Mix it all up and
spoon over sliced bagels.
Top with grated or sliced cheese.
Broil until cheese melts and starts to go slightly brown, or less if you like.

I like to serve with some chopped veg as well. Fast, yummy and nutritious.

Now as much as I hate cookbooks without pictures, I am sorry to report I have no picture of my lovely melts. I will try to remedy that sometime soon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pro-D Day

Recently while doing a little clean out, something quite necessary when you share a smallish house with five other people, I came across a copy of Australian Women's Weekly from January 2009. (Clearly I need to do these clean outs a little more frequently). There was a fabulous article about News Years resolutions. I am not generally one for resolutions as I learned quite some time ago, it just wasn't worth wasting the paper, I just wasn't going to follow through, and flipping through a yearly undone list of 1. Get in shape 2. Stick to a budget and 3.Drink more water. etc. etc. can be damaging to your self confidence. But this list of New years resolutions by Pat McDermott was right up my alley.

Things like - Stop asking if someone has fed the cat and just simply feed it myself. Instead of demanding to know who left the dirty dishes in the sink, acknowledge this is not working, move on and just stick them in the dishwasher myself. My favourite being #10. Take to bed one day a month. Now that I can do.

Today, after battling a cold for the last few days, I decided it would be a good time to rest. I came home from yoga, feeling briefly better, but realizing taking my day in bed was the only way to go. I informed my family I would be in bed for the day and that I would be just trying to rest and get over this cold. You know, basically telling them they would need to make me tea and look after me.

It started pretty well, I climbed back into my pj's, put on my house frau sweater (you know, a comfy cardigan that you would never wear outside, my children call it my snot sweater, and not because it is covered in MY snot). I climbed back into bed and then one by one each of my children decided to join me. I imported the photos and movies from 3 memory cards, gave practice instruction for the cello, helped input a report for my oldest daughter and solved more than one dispute. I tried in vain to fend off an attack which involved a new hairdo with a handful American Girl rollers, while my 3 year old practiced her somersaults before climbing on her brothers back to be potentially pitched backward out the second story window. I have been served natchos in bed and I know for a fact that my kitchen looks like we just had a cooking class for 9 year olds.

I always found it intriguing when teachers were off sick, there was usually some sort of plan in place for the substitute, like they knew they were going to be sick. You know a list of what everyone should do. I like this idea. Sadly I have no substitute, but perhaps a plan, an emergency preparedness 'day in bed' kit, would have made my day a little less chaotic. Still, I am in bed and I am going to try and not worry about the state of the house. However, next time I take to my bed I will have a plan in place, and now that I know this, I will just think of today as a professional development day.

Pro-D Day Make Over

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Birth of a Blog

I occasionally meet with a group of wonderful women, all who work for themselves. We have some women in PR, an HR lady, a number of artists and even a Chef. It really is a talented pool, not sure how I made the cut and I sometimes fear I will be voted off the Island. Not to say that I am not wonderful or talented, I of course am both, but it is the business area that is a little sketchy for me.

You see, I became a part of this group about a year ago, I may actually have been one of the founding members, I am not sure, I really don't remember the details, though I am quite sure it was born over a few glasses of wine. Anyways back when this group was coming together, I had this great idea, I would start marketing the pottery I make in my spare time, set up an etsy shop and try to get into a local market. You know basically turn my pottery into a home business. Well, I made it into the market and spent almost every saturday there last summer. It was a bit of a drain on my family, not to mention me. I don't think I am cut out to be a production potter, in fact, I know I am not. You see, I am not interested in making six matching mugs or two for that matter. I like to create, I like to make things of interest to me, in whatever colour, or pattern or style that moves me at that particular moment. I also like to knit and felt and paint and cook and lots of other things.

So now, a few weeks ago, I get together with this group, the plan, bring an objective to discuss at the meeting. Well I have laundry list, my whole "business" idea has done a header and I am no longer sure of any objectives, let alone one to discuss with the group. On my ride home, I blabbered on ad nauseam to my dear friend, about my lack of direction, focus and any sort of plan. There was a lot of discussion about blogging. "What on earth would I blog about?", I mean, I do have lots of ideas, I just don't know where to take them. "Just that" she says. So here we are, birth of the blog.

My plan - to blog about my plans and the things that I planned and actually happened. But let me warn you I am a procrastinator (it has already taken me 2 weeks just to get around to this post). And like any new baby, I am on a steep learning curve, I will add some photos and a link to my etsy shop, yes I managed to get that up, though I only have 3 listings. And who knows where this will take us after all, right now I really don't have a plan except for this plan. But I have to say I am excited about this plan.