Friday, November 21, 2014

Nature Babes: Admiralty Point

          Recently our family headed out to  Admiralty Point in Belcarra Regional Park- we had never explored this part of the Lower Mainland and were excited to check out a new to us area. In addition to the weather knocking it out of the park that day our Littles were in a particularly good mood- we thought to take advantage of the situation and try for some family photos worthy of our annual Christmas card. The conditions could not have been better- getting these two hooligans to co-operate was another story though as they were obviously more interested in exploring that photo taking-  and understandably so!

         With so many great spots to check out Belcarra Park is a real hidden gem- popular with crab fishers and boaters as well as picnickers- even on a freezing cold day in November the picnic shelters were booked and the park was abundant with families enjoying the non- rain weather. We first explored the pier as well as the adjacent tidal pools and beach- the water was crystal clear and we could see crabs scuttling across the floor of the ocean.

          It was soon established that the photo taking on the beach was not going to happen- it was windy and very cold so we headed for one of the many trails- we chose the Jug Island trail- which turned out to be much longer than anticipated! The Littles did it though- with plenty of flora and fauna to keep their attention we hiked the 6 kms out to the beach at Jug Island. After a short rest and some snacks we headed back towards the car- another 6 kms but the kiddos managed it under their own steam.

           Miss Lo has decided she might like to be a blogger like Momma and is now obsessed with taking pictures- I think her and I stopped every five feet to photograph the abundant mushrooms growing near the side of the trail. Side note- on my wish list is a book on mushroom identification- I had no idea what any of these were called and my answers to her questions were severely lacking!

         By the time we got back to the truck we were all totally done- the hike combined with the fresh, cold air was just what we all needed. Somewhere along the trail we all let go of our worries and just soaked in our surroundings- the quiet- the colours- each other. As our little family gets busier we need days like this desperately- like the air that we breath -we need the forest.

PS- a big thank you to Anna from Kids Unplugged for blogging about this gem of a park!

     Friends it is Friday again- if you aren't too busy Elving it up then I encourage you all to get outside and explore- adventure is out there! Much love- Happy Friday Friends!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thrifted Thursday

          These crisp days are probably my favourite fall weather- cold and crisp and sunny- no rain- which means bring on the layers of wool! Wearing wool on the west or wet coast has it's merits but it also has it's draw backs- usually my wool is worn in layers- topped off with waterproof rain gear. These days it's the wool thats the star of the show- so many good outfits to be seen- layers of sweaters and scarves- not to mention all the great boots that have been spotted lately! Not a speck of rain wear to be spotted!

          On a recent trip to good old Value Village I happened across this vintage Alia wool plain topper- now I realize the risk associated with such a brand- it is easy to venture into crazy cat lady territory when sporting Alia! To keep this cute topper youthful I'm pairing it with my ever present dramatically cuffed boyfriend jeans and some basic desert boots. This light weight yet warm jacket is the perfect thing to throw on for school pick up or to run out for milk. Functional for my Mom duties yet still cool enough for me to channel my inner beatnik!

P.S. yes I am growing out my hair- again- and yes it is a bird's nest these days so thank heavens for hat season!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Maker's Series: Mary Kim Ceramics and Paintings

        With my mind wondering more and more to gift giving I thought today's local maker should be Mum of two and maker of all things imaginative Mary Kim. Mary's work is very illustrative and she has over the years created everything from one off zines, super cool patches, colouring sets to her colourful and fun ceramics. This year Mary has come out with mini mugs- perfect for little hands on a chilly days- my own Littles are each getting one in their stockings- sure to be used for many an after school hot chocolate!

       Mary's work has always interested me- I wondered where she got her inspiration from not to mention the illustrative nature that encompasses all of her work. Fortunatly for me Mary was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions as well share a few of her new designs! Born and raised in Calgary she attended the Alberta Collage of Art and Design followed by studies at the Nova Scotia School of Art and Design in Halifax. Mary's ceramics and paintings clearly show her love of the off beat and quirky- from her monster shot glasses to special unicorn mugs!

In Mary's own words:

I started becoming interested in monsters when Tim Burton came out with Nightmare Before Christmas.
I like the friendly, smiley types, not so much the dark and scary ones. There's lots of darkness out there.

I also like the cute and fluffy things; having a three-year-old awakened a new found interest in little forest animals, things with hearts and stars, and pastel colours…..I'm okay with it. Maybe it's cheesy or corny, but I'm okay with that too.

        As for inspiration? Mary cites a number of influences- nature- flowers, leaves, bugs- artist Charley Harper, monsters- hairy, toothy, many eyed. Bears, cats, cartoons, comic books, children's books, wall paper design. It seems that Mary takes in the word around her and translates it into fantastical creatures that may or may not be lurking!

         Be sure to check out Mary's work in person at Ainsworth Design on Granville Island- found at 1243 Cartwright Street this little gallery may be tucked away off the beaten path but is chock full of handmade, local treasures- all things we love! You can also check in online with Ainsworth Design to see what other goodies might grab your eye- as well get all the deets on things like the upcoming ornament show- their Facebook page can be found here- Ainsworth Design.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Some Early Elving

             These days I am in full on Elving mode- for those of you unfamiliar with the term "Elving" it refers to the act of secretive Holiday making- as in "I am being like an elf and making gifts". So the yarn and needles are flying- much to my children's dismay I have taken up the prime spot on the couch next to our only lamp- gifts are being made- people are getting checked off my list! This year I am dedicated to either making gifts, buying from local makers or - and this is the only exception- buying art supplies to give as gifts- because gifts that foster creativity and anarchy are worth giving.

          I am working my way through my yarn stash- all these lovely hand dyed goodies that I have been hoarding away for the past few years- these glorious fibres are making their way onto my needles and soon onto the hands, feet, heads and necks of folks I love. Every time I sit and knit it becomes a meditation of the intended recipient of the item- each item becoming infused with love- something that you could never buy in a store. Shopping local is a passion of mine- supporting local makers and by extension supporting their passion is the right and good thing to do in my opinion. I think about all the wonderful folks who have supported me over the years and I want to pay that forward- I want to exist in a society that can support a slow, local, handmade market place.

        The early Elving I am sure has been entirely influenced by the frosty weather we have been experiencing on the West Coast these past weeks- with temperatures hovering around zero families have been scrambling to properly outfit their wee ones in as many insulating layers as possible. Buying winter wear is always a bit of a gamble when you live in Vancouver- our family usually begs and borrows enough winter gear for our annual trip to the ski hill and Christmas visit home- there usually is no point in buying winter coats. This year thats not the case and so after a quick trip to the local thrift shop both my babes are outfitted in practically brand new gear- add in some hand knit goodness and they are set to go! The frosty temperatures, darkening days, the snow capped mountains all make it feel like winter might actually be coming this year. Add in the set up of the annual German Christmas Market and all I want to do is hum carols and knit in front of the warm glow of the television. Christmas is coming people- be ready!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Makers Series: Vic & Vie

            Have you met Kiki? This magical dolly came to live with us last summer for my Girl's fifth birthday- Kiki has not left Miss Lo's side ever since. Kiki has travelled all over our beautiful province with us- having just as many adventures as we do- and a few that only Miss Lo knows about. In a land of plastic dolls- Kiki stands out as a bit old fashioned- well made- simple with plenty of room for a child's imagination to fill the spaces.

           Last fall Dear Cousin Laura was visiting her in-laws on Salt Spring Island and happened across the Vic & Vie stall at the amazing Farmers Market- she of course  picked a rag doll for her own sweet gal. Lucky for me Laura shared her find with me and I immediately fell in love with everything Vic & Vie had to offer. I knew this was the doll for my girl!

        Vic & Vie is owned and operated by graphic designer and mum of three Randee Brinks- influenced by vintage textiles and fashion she has created the most beautiful of dolls. Each doll is handmade on Salt Spring Island with natural fabrics, vintage trims and repurposed fabrics from other designers. As Randee clearly states on her website "With their captivating charm,Vic and Vie dolls are more than a toy. For ages young and old they remind us to Imagine. Dream. Play."

         Be sure to check out Vic & Vie's beautiful website- you might recognize a little face here and there- in addition to viewing all the lovely dolls and accessories- choosing just one is not aways easy! This take on the classic french rag doll is destined to be passed down to future generations- when an item- a friend- is this well made it is sure to linger long after a child grows tired of other toys. For my girl- who I like to think of as a modern kid- interested in being feminine while not at all interested in princess fads- Vic & Vie dolls allow for easy imaginative play- the perfect gift for every gal!

be sure to check out Vic & Vie's website here- Vic & Vie

and the Facebook page here- Vic & Vie

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Selfish Sewing

         Recently I treated myself to a couple of meters of dreamy Cotton & Steel fabric- remember last week when I shlepped through the rain and wind to my favourite sewing lounge Spool Of Thread? I simply could not resist this yummy criss crossed navy cotton- it fit in nicely with the handmade wardrobe I already have and although I had no idea what I would make with it I knew it would be good.

      Entre in my sewing time last Friday- I took one of my favourite loose tunics and drafted a pattern off of that- I like how it turned out but would definitely change the arms a bit- I'm not in love with how these tapered arms finished but they will do for now. I have been trying to make more sewing time for myself of late- which is tough when sewing for my Littles is just so much cuter! My new rule of thumb though is that I'm not making any spontaneous purchases- if I really want something I need to figure out if I can make it first- with the exception of jeans and shoes- always shoes!

       I'm loving how easy and breezy this tunic is- it really fits with almost everything from hiking boots and boyfriend jeans to ballet flats and skinny jeans- from the woods to the art shoppe this top is about to become one of my go- to staples. My wardrobe is slightly lacking these days- I am working hard to build myself an interesting and non- Mom uniform- easy basics that still reflect my creativity. I think it is easy to fall into boring basics- instead of reaching for my trusty grey t-shirt in the morning I can reach for this tunic instead!

PS- I had to take a picture of the frost- sure sign that winter is on the way!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembering and Adventuring

         Today is Remembrance Day and our family has so much to be thankful for- our family may or may not have a unique Canadian story- but it is ours and ours alone. These faces above-laughing- running- breathing joy are the result of two very different families coming together- one German and one Canadian- our babies are a result of wars fought- won and lost- of differences put behind and lives moving forward. We are so grateful and recognize what they all went through- either as Pilots like my Grandfather or children like my In laws. We recognize that we are free to do as we please and enjoy a very comfortable life because of all they sacrificed.

 What better way to celebrate all that we are grateful for than to spend our time together as a family- which is just what we did yesterday. With a pro development day for the Littles and the Mr. with the day off we headed out to one of our favourite spots- Terra Nova Rural Park- a 63 acre nature and adventure park perched on the edge of Richmond. This is not your average park- the multi million dollar adventure park is devoid of traditional cookie cutter play equipment- instead unique custom designed "natural" play equipment can be found. Rustic Log Booms and a three story tall tree house slide are popular features as are the 35 meter zip line which is of course a favourite with my own feral children.

          Set amongst some of Richmond's most spectacular scenery the Terra Nova Rural Park sits adjacent to a beautifully laid out community garden- walking amongst the trails- spotting Snow Geese and other migrating birds we could have easily stepped into a painting. It's hard to remember we are still in the heart of a major city- with exception of the occasional plane- all that fills the air are the happy screams of playing children.

           With every age group taken into account there really is something for everyone to do here- the meadow and sandbox for the toddlers- the more complicated activities for the big kids- plenty of picnic tables for me to sit at and knit! Watching my kids move their bodies through the obstacle course I can appreciate the thought and planning that went into this park- obviously park planners are taking note that children are not playing the way they used to. This is about to become our go- to spot to bring all out of towners with children- take note Birken and Raible families- our Littles have plans for your Littles!

        These days with so much work and school going on it is rare for our little family to get an entire day off together- when it does happen it's oh so good! Combined with the after effects of a round of nasty colds as well as the incessant rain of last week these cold days of sunshine are a blessing- a much needed break for us all. Yesterday was one of those rare perfect fall days- one that will be held close to our hearts when the rains returns! So today as we watch all the hype and propaganda of Remembrance Day on the news I will be thankful of the quiet truth that the peace I feel as I walk in the sunshine- the safety and surety that being Canadian brings me is all thanks to people like my Grandfather and hundreds of thousands of other grandfathers and grandmothers across the country.