Monday, August 23, 2010

Creature of Habit

Cooler Days

I'm one of those people who will find a song or album that they like and listen to it over, and over, and over. I get the same way with food sometimes too, I mean why mess with a good thing? This doesn't necessarily mean I'm not adventurous, but when I like something I like something and tend to run with it. So after talking about those river rocks I'd found I had to smile (sigh?) when I looked back at this Polyvore set I'd made a few days ago, all in the same colours I'd been talking about. The funny thing is, and this is a lot of the reason I enjoy Polyvore, I mostly only wear black. Well, maybe that's not entirely true, but black is definitely my comfort colour. So while in my head I would wear this outfit, in reality I'd probably grab a black cardy (comfort clothing article, its a necessity) instead. Oh well, it's fun to dream! I'm really digging this casual kinda masculine, annie hall-ish vibe though (I almost included a hat, but it was getting a little too Diane Keaton) and I'm really hoping Dorothy Perkins brings those pants back in because they're basically my dream pants for Fall! I've been trying to thrift some, to no avail which is maybe partly due to me not having the patience to try on all the tapered slacks in the hope that one will look like this. Dorothy Perkins carries them in plus sizes too, which is a bonus, so fingers crossed!

We spent most of the weekend getting ready for a craft fair on Sunday, that unfortunately I was too sick to go to! So bummed, it's the first time I've actually been ready without pulling an almost all nighter beforehand, haha. We were hoping to do a preview of some of the new necklaces there, but I guess we'll just have to wait until we release them online. If you want a sneak peek you can see a little of what we're working on over here, where I'll be adding a few more photos soon.

A few things;
- A new mixtape, Working Weekend. We watched The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack over the weekend, and the track on there of his always makes me a little teary. Such a beautiful, melancholy voice.
- I absolutely love this chunky shawl fromYarnover Movement! Also, did you know she's having a sale? Best go take a look!
- An interesting discussion over on Sarah McNeil's blog about copyright and watermarks, worth a read both of the post and the comments. I need to go add my two cents!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bagels, take one.

I really love bagels. Really, really. I like mine either toasted with a bit of butter, fresh and plain or as a delicious, dense base for a sandwich. When I was growing up in New Zealand the bagel situation was pretty dire, there was one great bagel bakery in Auckland that we would visit whenever we were there and bring bags and bags back for the freezer to escape the supermarket white bread with a hole in the middle fate.

Bagels have always been something I've wanted to try making myself, but always seemed way too daunting. The whole boil then bake part sounded like it was going to be tricky and time consuming, but it was actually really easy! The dough is simple, the boiling isn't scary, and even though you have to wait for your dough to rise it's enough time to go and do something else. We're inundated with BC blueberries at the moment, so since we had a bunch in our fridge and freezer I thought rather than start with a plain bagel I'd go straight into the fruity and sweet! I looked around at a few different recipes and techniques for this, so I'll just write down what I did. I'm not sure if next time I'd use dried blueberries or not, as the kneading part was.....interesting. I'd not even thought about the fact that they'd be so juicy, but thankfully I hadn't added all my flour so I was able to save the dough and it all worked out in the end!
Blueberry Bagels

- 2 cups warm water
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 pkg, I think?)
- 5ish cups flour
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 cups blueberries, fresh, frozen or dried.

1. Combine warm water, yeast and sugar and leave for 5 minutes. Your yeast should start rising and bubbling a bit, if not then your yeast has expired.
2. Add salt and about 4 cups of flour, taking your time to mix a bit after every cup of flour.
3. Fold in the blueberries and kneed your dough to combine (this is where it gets messy if your blueberries aren't dried, don't worry though it'll sort itself out). Once it is fairly combined, continue adding the remainder of the flour. This should soak up any blueberry juice that's escaped to make your dough sticky.
4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for around 10minutes until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
6. Place your dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Place somewhere warm (I use my oven, make sure it is turned off and remove it before preheating!! I....did not.) and leave to rise for an hour.
7. Once your dough has risen, punch it down and break it into 10-15 pieces depending on the size you want your bagel. You then want to shape it into the bagel, either by rolling it into a ball and poking your thumbs through the middle or rolling them into snakes and joining the ends. The second option can be tricky because when they boil the puff up and can come undone.
8. Cover and leave the bagels to rise for 25min, and bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add a couple teaspoons of sugar to the water. Preheat your oven to 400 F
9. Oil or dust with flour/cornmeal your trays*. Once your bagels have risen again, start boiling them. Place as many as will comfortably fit in the pot and submerge. Cook for 1min and flip to cook for 1min on the other side. Remove and place on the prepared tray.
10. Bake your bagels for 10min on each side, remove and let cool. Enjoy!

*I used oil, as the fancy bagel said too, but I found it pretty tricky to remove them from the tray. So I'm not sure if I didn't use enough oil, or should have just floured the tray.

This recipe could be used as a base really easily, just take out the blueberries and have some seeds ready to dip your bagels in once they come out of the boiling water for a savoury bagel. Yum!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

River rocks and woodsmoke

I picked up those little river rocks when we went swimming at Lynn Canyon on the weekend and I'm totally captivated by the peachy tones, especially in that little one. I wish the photos did them a little more justice, they're just the colours that have been on my mind lately, warm neutrals, nudes, light apricot-y type colours with some dusty greys and flecks of charcoal thrown in. So pretty.

I'm hoping to include them into some new stuff we're working on for the store, a kind of Fall/Winter collection type deal that should be ready in early September. We've been lucky to have been gifted some really beautiful wood scraps that we had no idea what to do with for awhile but have now started fashioning into some simple necklaces and maybe even rings. I never thought I'd make jewellery, but I've been really enjoying thinking of what shapes to use and working with the wood. I really never get sick of working with wood, it's a medium that I always seem drawn to, and the wood burning smells from when I get to use the big sanding machine are so smoky and lovely! The two woods are mahogany and cocobolo, which is this beautiful, dense, oily wood that smells amazing and is so nice to work with. It becomes so smooth that it feels like a rock or glass once you've sanded it. Such a lucky find!

We've actually decided to retire a few of the older products in the store to make way for fresh stuff, which has been strangely really hard for me! There are just some things that I feel like I've moved on from, or am just no longer that excited about but there is a definite temptation to stick with what you know will bring in some money every now and then and also the fear that new stuff isn't going to work and that we should have stuck with the old. Worry, worry, worry. But putting the worry aside I'm really excited about the new products we're working on and the direction we're taking. Classic me, I'm always turn with the need to move forward and finding so much comfort in the already known. I promise to keep you up to date with what we're working on, I always value everyone's feedback!

So, how about you guys. Working on anything fun at the moment? Are you someone who loves change and trying out new things or do you prefer the comfort of routine and what you already know?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Projects 'n more.

Projects, projects, projects. I've got so many on the go at the moment and I'm also getting much better at finishing the things I start. Sometimes making myself so busy also makes me stressed and crazy, but I think there is an element of having a few different things on the go that I find challenging and inspiring. I'm now on holiday for the next 2 weeks and so I'm excited to have some lazy days and extra time to work on things here and there. Also, to try and get in some creative time just for the sake of being creative. I sometimes find myself getting stuck on feeling like I should be working on shop stuff or other deadline type projects when if I give myself the space to just doodle or whatever, that's when the inspiration comes. Theoretically, anyway.

As I hinted at on Wednesday we've been working on some lino cuts and fabric printing lately, it's been lots of fun! We have a tutorial up in the latest issue of Blanket Magazine showing you how to make a simple lino cut and print it onto fabric. Aside from checking us out, I'd definitely recommend picking up a copy (online, it's not a print publication) as this issue is pretty great - looking at all sorts of tradition and handmade crafts like letterpress, embroidery, etc - and is just beautifully put together by the very talented editor, Bec! It's a medium I've come to really enjoy working in, and hopefully I'll be printing up some very much needed new pillows for our couch over the next week or so!

Alrighty, I'm off in search of popsicles. It has been sweltering here over the past couple of days! Yesterday we found a fantastic swimming hole that I'm hoping to drag Richard back to this week. It was a bit of a hike as one of the bus services didn't run on Sundays or holidays (of course!) but so beautiful and worth the trip. Also, freezing. I seriously couldn't breathe the first time I hopped in!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WIP Wednesday: Lino Cut

Haven't done one of these for awhile! Sneak peek on one of our current projects, more to come next week!

Some other things;
- Foxes, the new online New Zealand based design store. A lot of beautiful things to chose from, I particularly like this wee dress and this lovely Sarah McNeil brooch.
- Potentially my dream home, despite the terrifying interior and "Mediterranean style courtyard". Separate studio house people!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Smitten: Anna Allen

I am completely smitten by the beautiful work of clothing designer, Anna Allen. The fabric, the simplicity, the photos - it's all perfect. I mean, a work smock! So dreamy. Also, I think I need to find a new wicker laundry hamper, and carry it around our balcony on my hip. Find even more beautiful photos in her lookbook.

Old vs. New

Sorry for the slow posting as of late, I've been busy working on a couple projects that I have in the works and which I hope to show you more of in the next few weeks! Both of them involve working with my hands (and sadly for this little apartment, making a fair amount of mess) and so there has been much lounging on the couch stitching or drawing. I'm also quite behind on responding to comments, but I promise to get to it this week! We finally got some much needed rain this weekend which made it much easier to want to do....anything really. Working on projects, walking to do errands wearing cardigans (!!) and heading over to North Vancouver for the final Under The Volcano festival. The entire city was cloaked in a fog over the weekend and watching it settling around the mountains from Cates Park was pretty magical. Sitting on the damp ground, everything smelled like forest and everywhere you looked was so lush and green. It was an inspiring place to be, not only physically beautiful, but to be surrounded by a gathering of people who were fighting so strongly for, and also celebrating the things they believe in. There was an amazing sense of community and passion that was really infectious. It felt good to be there, soaking it all in.

We're constantly doing things here and there to get ready for our move back home (which is approaching at a terrifying speed), and I'm thus constantly finding myself swinging back from being really excited to leave and really sad to leave. As I was sitting in the yellow school bus that shuttled us out to UTV on the weekend I was thinking a lot about the old me vs. the new me. It's a bit of a silly idea, I mostly don't think there's an old or new me as of course when you're living it growing up and changing is a fairly organic experience. In saying that, the me that lived in New Zealand a few years back would have driven over to North Van on the weekend whereas I haven't driven a car in years. When I first moved in with Richard, I could not believe that I was going to have to function without a microwave and now I can't even really imagine using one, plus I have gotten very good at making popcorn on the stove. The projects I'm working on both involve the use and practice of traditional hand crafts (one with a specific focus on exactly that) and while I've always enjoyed working with my hands, working on these I was struck by how much in the past few years I've moved towards a more minimalist lifestyle somewhat unintentionally and how right it feels. Due to Richard not being able to use loud machinery because of some hearing problems, all of our woodworking and making is done almost entirely by hand and while this obviously takes much longer, the smell of wood being sanded and the meditative act of hand stitching is something I don't think I'd trade for getting it done faster.

I'm fully aware of the irony of me claiming almost Luddite status while typing on a laptop with lilac coloured fingernails and using a wireless internet connection. Not quite back to the land just yet. But still, as much as I'd love a KitchenAid, mixing by hand with a wooden spoon and kneading bread dough on the counter top is something I'm going to hold on to. I guess this is where some of my nervousness about moving home comes from, this old me vs. new me. While I can see the changes in myself over the last few years, I still see them in the framework of who I've always been and things that have always been important to me. That, and that I'm nearing the end of my twenties so the last decade is a pretty natural time of change and growth in ones life. My worry is that I'm going to return home and seem like some crazy leftist hippy (which maybe I am, there are parts of me that feel pretty strongly connected to a earthy hippy lifestyle. And other parts of me, the parts that don't love fire poi and hula hoop, that do not...) and if I'm truly honest, that I won't know where I fit anymore. I am so happy and content with myself and my life in so many ways at the moment, that it is hard not to attach those feelings to this place instead of taking credit myself for developing and growing as person, and becoming more and more comfortable with who that person is.

Hmm, got a little deeper there than I was intending! Here's a mixtape I made you, in honor of my Luddite leanings, some of my favourite acoustic tunes for your Tuesday listening pleasure.

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Monday, August 2, 2010

White on white

Oh man, I am having a hard time not being so summery and lazy lately! The days are so nice and long, we've been spending them outside as much as possible. We spent most of the weekend walking around the city, exploring new places to eat, crossing bridges, and feeling pretty content enjoying our community. This evening Jeannette and I went for a stroll and got gelato, so perfect. July felt like is sped by so fast, I want to make sure I'm making the most of this final summer month. It was one of those weekends where you're so busy doing stuff and enjoying it that I didn't take any photos, and these ones above have pretty much nothing to do with what I'm talking about, haha. I took them at Stand Up Comedy, a store that was just down the street from our hotel in Portland that I was pretty smitten with. I love the way the white on white makes everything look like its floating. Aside from having amazing stuff (those rings, oh how I want one. Despite knowing that I would most likely crush it as soon as I picked it up, ha) the store was so light and airy with beautiful greenery dotted around and the woman working there was really nice to chat, too. Anyway, I wanted to share these here because when I was scanning in this film I was really struck by the memory of how lovely it was lazily browsing Portland stores on a sunny day back in May, nowhere to go and no reason to rush. Kind of the vibe that I hope sticks around this August, nice and chill. Anyone have any plans for the coming month? Mine are swimming, more gelato and an island camping trip!