Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Update a comin'

Oh new work. Exciting and nerve wracking! It's always a little scary putting yourself out there and getting an insight into how people outside your own head respond. With that said, we're going to be doing a big shop update next Monday along with a bit of a shop overhaul, too (yes, the one I said would be happening in early September). There will be our new range of necklaces, some embroidery hoop pin boards with beautiful vintage upholstery fabric and these limited edition teak bookmarks. We came across this teak veneer awhile back and wanted to do something special with it, so Richard drew some beautiful illustrations based on the work of Turi Gramstad Oliver and we made a small range of bookmarks.

There is one other product I'm hoping to have ready, but we've been having trouble getting it to work the way I want it to, but hopefully I'll have something to show you by the end of the week. Or maybe a post about what I've learned through the frustration of not being able to make what is in your head become reality, ha.

In preparation for our update we'll be having a big sale at the end of this week, which I'll be sure to remind you of. Or you might like to sign up to our newsletter in the sidebar there to get update on this one and future sales, updates and sneak peeks!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Communal Living: Working out my fantasies.

First of all, I want you to know that I'm sitting here in sweats eating my second slightly strange tasting blueberry scone. I accidentally added too much vinegar to the almond milk, forgot to put the sugar on top and either added too much salt or there was some kind of salty residue on my baking tray. But you know, I can push through it for the warm berries and fluffy vanilla carbs. There will most likely be a third. 

Tonight was a bit of a write off. Richard and I have been keeping crazy schedules the past week or so, where aside from 3 hours of sleep between 4-7am and a 30min window when he runs home to grab dinner, we're in and out of the house at pretty much exactly opposite times from each other. So, this evening after coming home from work and having to clean out glass from the bottom of our oven (a dish exploded in there last night, v. scary - both the exploding glass and the bottom of our oven) and watch Glee on my own I was feeling a little sorry for myself. This usually means some kind of baking and internet escapism. Tonight it came in the form of this video, that I originally saw over on Liz's blog awhile ago. In a sense communal living is something I've grown up doing. When I was really young, my aunt and uncle lived only a couple houses down the street from us and we spent a lot of time there or at my grandparents place as well as our own home. Then as I got older, I spent the years between 12 and 23ish years old living and/or working at a camp with a small staff and multiple dwellings. More often than not we all ate together, everyone was a short walk away when we needed something and the sense of community was something I really thrived on. 

I now live in a co-op, which isn't exactly the same especially as this co-op is a fairly large one, but there's still aspects of it. We have awesome neighbours and there is a communal feel within the gates of this place. It's funny how the idea of a commune has always sounded a little crazy cult like to me, but the actual act of living communally is something I'm really invested in. The story in this video is so inspiring to me, and we both really hope to be able to make something like that happen once we move home. I'm sure some people would find the idea of living in such close quarters with other people to be a completely terrible idea, and I totally get that, but for the moment I can only see the possibilities and comfort it would bring. 

And with that, and this totally inspiring film I found at Loobylu's place, I am going to resist a fourth scone and head to bed to dream of my future hippy life. 

Monday, September 20, 2010


New shoes :: New hair-do :: New project :: New schedule makes for a sleepy husband :: New Blanket tutorial in the works :: New Bliss in a Teacup necklace (to be released in October, detail here). 

Happy Monday, folks. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inspiration: Quilts of Gee's Bend

Ever since first hearing of them, I've been fascinated by the quilters of Gee's Bend. The quilts created by generations of this tight knit community of women, technique passed down through generations, the celebration of colour and pattern, are breathtaking. They're like nothing I've ever seen before, piecing works with Sears corduroy and old work clothes to create these beautiful, subtle hues where the fabric has worn or using sheets and scarves in a whirlwind of colour and pattern. I was so happy to come across this book at the library the other day and I've been reading a bit each night. Aside from the quilts there are the stories of the women who create them, all these strong women, confident in their own artistic expression. Not a bad thought to drift off to sleep with.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Normal Eating: Guilty Pleasures, Treats and Listening to My Body.

Reaching For Nirvana
reaching for nirvana, antonkawasaki

There is something so fantastic to me about seeing people walking around with an ice-cream cone. It has such a childlike attachment to it that when I saw a man in a suit, probably in his 50's walking alone up our street with one I was strangely fascinated by it. Like, here is this grey suited definition of seriousness doing something that seems so frivolous, something purely for pleasure. This is what I love about eating ice cream, it's one of those foods where really the main reason you're eating it is that it tastes freaking amazing. Sure, it's also good on a hot day and it kinda fills you up if you're hungry, but mostly it is all about the deliciousness.

"Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it -not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings."

I absolutely love this quote by Ellyn Satter (thanks to Christa for first linking to it!). It's something that I've struggled with pretty much my entire life - how should I eat, what is the right and/or best way to eat, I'm allowed to eat x because I've first done y, guilty pleasures, good food and bad food, etc. So to hear someone say that normal eating actually encompasses all of those things was really refreshing. I've spent some time at Weight Watchers and they have these meetings after the weigh in where you chat about one topic or another - strategies, tips and tricks and the like. I very rarely stayed for these as I just couldn't handle the earnestness of it all, but when I did the discussion would often lead to why we eat. Are we emotional eaters, do we eat because of stress or boredom. All of these things are apparently wrong, you see, and if we want to be happy and skinny then you need to figure out how to combat this.* The thing was, and still is.... that I do all of the above, I'd venture to guess that most people do, and that there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing actually wrong with eating cake because you feel shitty, or with not eating cake because you know it will make you feel even shittier.

Now, I'm not saying that it isn't possible to have an unhealthy attitude toward food. Of course it is. I'm also not saying that despite being body positive there aren't still times where I'm unhappy with my weight, body, etc (29yrs of the media/society telling you that you're not good enough is a tricky cycle to break). But I think that where a lot of people would argue that emotional eating is the unhealthy attitude I'm going to say that banishing emotions from eating and regulating it so strictly that it is no longer enjoyable, is far worse.

I like to eat. I like to eat a variety of foods. I like to eat because food tastes good, because it nourishes and sustains me and also because it can be satisfying on an emotional level. I like to cook, experiment and try new things. Food is social, I like to eat because it can mean sharing and spending time with my friends and family, something that becomes increasingly difficult when dieting and monitoring every calorie. While I don't monitor calories anymore, I do keep an eye on what I put into my body from a health perspective, meaning that I like to eat organic if possible, I don't eat meat, I try to limit processed foods (aside from candy, but that's a given I feel like), eat lots of leafy greens for iron and combine beans and grains for protein, drink lots of water, etc. Interestingly when I was dieting I didn't do any of these things. I looked for things that fit into my allotted points for the day regardless of nutrition, I ate processed low calorie sweets with who knows what in them, I felt increasingly stressed about eating with friends, I 'treated' myself with junk food after a weigh in, felt guilty if I strayed from the path and generally didn't enjoy eating. Now that I've shifted from a focus on weight (and losing it) to just listening to my body I'm actually eating much, much healthier than I ever have before. This is where I might say 'and if I lose weight in the process, great!' but actually, no. It's just not relevant.** This is the body that I have and that's not just ok, it's good. I might lose weight, I might gain weight! I might eat little more than chocolate, popcorn and toast for a week when I'm particularly stressed out and I might detox the next week because I'm feeling gross, or I may do nothing at all.

That normal eating is flexible doesn't sound that revolutionary, but it really, truly is. Where most messages we receive about eating talk of guilty pleasures, being 'naughty' (can't even tell you how much I loathe that word) and having a treat, the necessity of working out to counteract junk food, punishment and being at war with your body (no pain, no gain! battle of the bulge!) - for someone to say that there actually are no rules is incredibly freeing. Guilty pleasures and treats are things I'm no longer interested in as food and eating should be pleasurable, emotional, social and comforting. No need to feel guilty about that.

*This is not to say that I think Weight Watchers leaders don't have good intentions, it's just that the whole system we and they exist in is flawed, a system where food and our bodies are policed often under the guise of health.

**Again, this is not to say that I still don't have days, weeks where I just want to be skinny. Or that being thin isn't easier in terms of buying clothes, being generally accepted, etc. So while it is still something I think about at times, it's no longer the standard I will judge myself by.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sigh of relief

Hello! Sorry things have been a little sleepy around here, I had a bunch of posts lined up for last week that are still sitting in my drafts folder but got a little swamped with deadlines and such (story of my life). Hopefully that just means there will be lots of great stuff this week! Anyway, I had my interview and photo shoot for Hoopla on Saturday morning, which was initially terrifying (what to wear! where to sit! clean, clean, clean!) but so nice to have Leanne come by and chat with her about stitching, art and how we find ways of self expression. Of course it wasn't half as scary as I thought it would be, and I'm really excited to see the finished book. The other projects that Leanne told me about sound amazing! 

After the interview I couldn't quite believe that I had nothing left to do that was pressing, such a great feeling. The weekend was grey and rainy, perfect for staying indoors and working on projects that are just for fun. It felt like such a luxury to sit in my for real, actual clean house, flip through art books, make potato leek soup (obsessed with this soup, the moment the skies show a hint of autumn its all about soup) and scones, drink tea and start a new embroidery project inspired by a Joanna Newsom concert. Autumn seems to actually be officially here, the quilt is back on the bed, Sufjan Stevens is on repeat and my slippers are always close at hand. So nice. 

A few things; 

- Beautiful Soviet-era environmental conservation posters at Broom People. 
- Andy Goldsworthy 'Fall Leaves', this one especially. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Off to a good start

We headed over to Mayne Island, one of B.C's Southern Gulf Islands for the long weekend to stay at a friends small cabin. It was the perfect way to bring summer to a close and start off September, which has quickly become my favourite month since living here.

We picked blackberries for breakfast, found deserted beaches, visited the Farmers Market, scrambled around rock pools and walked for so long around the island that I'm still feeling it. In that good, well earned rest kinda way. It's now a rainy Labour Day, and I am burning through my to-do list so that I can stop to eat chocolate zucchini loaf, drink tea and get started on a new book. Richard is off work this week due to an intensive week of school, so I get to have him around every night until next Tuesday which I'm pretty thrilled about! All in all, September is starting out rather well.

More weekend photos here if you'd like to take a peek.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fresh Tomato Salsa

The idea of making your own condiments used to seem pretty time consuming to me, I mean you can just grab a jar at the store and you're good, right? But now that we pretty much home make all of ours - pesto, pasta sauces, salsa, salad dressings, hummus, etc - I'm never going back. For one, the taste is so much better and I find that when making your own you end up using much less salt and sugars than store bought sauces. You also know what is going into it, and in turn going into your body, and you're able to experiment and play around with flavours. Plus, it really isn't hard or time consuming at all, promise.

Salsa is probably one of my favourite condiments, but only when it's fresh and with that perfect amount of acidity. Not the sweet, saucy stuff you get at the store. Luckily for me, Richard makes a mean salsa that always gets tons of compliments when we serve it at parties. I love having it in giant mason jars in the fridge, ready for quesadillas, beans and rice or oven baked tortilla chips!

Fresh Tomato Salsa

1 lb ripe plum tomatoes
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 fresh jalapeno's seeded and minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp salt

Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise, and gently squeeze out as much of the pulp as you can, roughly dice them and place them in your kitchen mixer or blender. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix together and taste to adjust the seasoning to your liking. This is a pretty free form recipe, if you don't have fresh tomatoes just use canned diced ones and drain them if need be. 

Makes about 3 cups, store in a jar in the fridge if you can make it last that long. Yum!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

If the stitch works.

Sorry things have been a little quiet around here, I've been busy stitching clocks and working on a project for Leanne Prain's new book, Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery. I'm super excited to be a part of this book, partly because Leanne's last book on Yarn Bombing was fantastic but also because I love the idea of using traditional methods or mediums in non traditional ways. I tried my hand at cross-stitch when I was younger, and it was always a bit of a nightmare. I just don't have the greatest patience for following patterns (which is unfortunate for me when it comes to sewing, I'm a bit more.....experimental) and the back would always end up a total mess. But after seeing this back stitch tutorial at Meet Me At Mikes and giving it a go, I discovered I really loved embroidery! I still don't follow patterns, I'm not totally sure that I'm using real stitches and the backs of my work is still usually a mess, but I love the meditative nature of stitching and as Richard said to me when I was worrying over writing up my pattern for the book - if the stitch works, it's a real stitch. 

I've always wished I could draw. I sketch out ideas, and can copy fairly well, but I've never been able to draw in a way that I could make what was in my head come out on to the paper. This always frustrated me, as while I've usually considered myself to be a creative person I never felt like I could do art or call myself an artist because you know, to be an artist you needed to be able to draw or paint and be good at it (whatever that means). I think that's why I gravitated to photography in high school, a medium that for a long time also wasn't considered fine art, because I could manipulate the camera and play around in the darkroom to get images I was happy with without having to rely on the seemingly intricate technique of drawing. Of course, you could argue that photography also uses intricate techniques and requires a high level of skills that are just a relevant to art making as drawing/painting/sculpting - and you'd be right. It just took me awhile to accept that truth. 

Embroidery has been the same for me. With a needle and thread I've been able to express myself artistically in a way I never could with a pencil and paper. Creating texture, making up stitch patterns, choosing fabric, mixing threads are techniques that I understand, enjoy and can manipulate to create something visually pleasing to me. Really, this is no different from choosing brushes, learning to shade and cross hatch or working with water colour but it often surprises me how still quick I am to call what others do art but not look at my own process that way. The art vs. craft debate is an old one, and probably one where there will always  be contention. I'm of the mind that it is up to the individual to decide what label, if any, to give themselves. However, I think this discussion is still worth having so that instead of creating and maintaining a hierarchy of artistic value people feel free to see themselves as valuable, creative, artistic people in any medium they work in. Be it making a collage, landscaping a garden or baking a cake.