Wednesday, April 23, 2014

From The Waste Up: Life Without Plastic

      A little over a week ago my friend Erin invited me to the premier of a documentary called From The Waste Up: Life Without Plastic- a locally made documentary about a handful of families attempting to live plastic free for a year. I was on board- these sounded like my people- anyone asking questions and pushing boundaries- anyone who cares enough to try and instill change in an apathetic world- anyone standing up for the environment- these are my people. And so my friend and I got slightly gussied up- as is our usual modis oporandi- we went and grabbed a glass of wine- bought our sustainable- locally made chocolates and we found our seats in the theatre.

  As mentioned From The waste Up: Life Without Plastic follows a handful of folks for a year as they attempt to live plastic free- couples and families alike raise to the challenge of kicking this invasive substance to the curb- searching out alternative solutions to our typical lifestyles. Film maker Taina Uitto has brought to light our addiction to plastic in a very real and down to earth way- as a participant in the project herself she manages to bring a level of humour to a very serious situation.

   Post movie I am staring into my fridge looking for something to snack on- I begin to notice just how reliant our family actually is on plastic- I notice the plastic wrap on the giant block of cheese I am hacking away at- I notice the plastic container our leftovers are stacked up in- our fridge is full of plastic.  Clearly even this eco friendly- low impact family has a plastic addiction. Clearly the families in the documentary were not in fact my people- clearly they are miles ahead.

   When my first baby was born BPA was a prevalent news story- how it was in our environment and affecting our endocrine systems- wrecking havoc on our hormones. I remember diligently sourcing out BPA free sippy cups and silicone eating vessels- but it was still plastic. Our household waste is minimal- or what I thought to be minimal as it is much less than what I have witnessed in other trash situations- we compost- we recycle- we refuse plastic bags when we forget our clothe ones. Still once a week out goes a small bag of plastic- mostly filled with single use food wrappers. Things could be better.

   I think the hallmark of a good documentary is to get people thinking and talking- to wake them up out of their apathy and get them moving in a new direction. Every viewer will take something different to heart- have a different standout moment- for me my take away is to simply use less. To refuse single use plastics more often than I all ready do- to consider how my single use convenience item is going to stick around for thousands of years after only a few moments of use- to take baby steps towards our own plastic free life.

   Check out Taina's blog Plastic Manners for more plastic free inspiration as well as tips for a plastic free lifestyle. Pop on over to the From The Waste Up: Life Without Plastic Indigogo page- make a donation if you feel so inclined!



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Focus on Sarah Clement: Illustrator

         As we all know by now there really is nothing I enjoy more than a new book- a new book with beautiful drawing is even better! Enter in a freshly illustrated book Half For You and Half For Me - re imagined nursery rhymes by Katherne Govier and illustrated with the whimsical stylings of Sarah Clement. I first met Sarah several years ago and from the very beginning could see something special lurking with in her heart and imagination.

        In Sarah's own words:

       Illustrating my first book was quite the journey. It lead my through vast terrain, through valleys of self-doubt and up to mountain peaks of creative joy. I met many characters along the way. I had been introduced to a few of them as a child, but this time I got to have a hand in shaping their personalities. There was the giant from Fee Fi Fo Fum (an angry, apron-wearing grizzly bear), Peter Peter Pumpkin eater (a Raven with a pumpkin comically balanced on his head) and Jack be nimble (a colourful gazelle, gracefully jumping over a candlestick in the African safari). There were many more and I enjoyed watching them develop into whimsical characters of their own.

This is Sarah's first time collaborating with an author on a project like this book- she claims that it pushed her out of her personal art boundaries- such as drawing people- which is something she doesn't do very often.  Stylistically the illustrations are very similar to Sarah's previous work but it is clear that she is exploring new processes particularly in backgrounds- the results are beautiful, multi dimensional visual narratives.

          This coming Saturday- April 26 2014- Sarah will be on hand at one of our favourite spots- Collage Collage for a book launch and signing. The hours are from noon until 2:00 pm- 621 Kingsway. If you can't make it to what is sure to be a stellar afternoon then check out Half For You & Half For Me over on Heather's Picks over at Indigo Books! Also be sure to check out Sarah's blog Light and Lines for a visual feast- new works in progress and just general beauty!

        I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of what looks to be a lovely little book- perfect to tuck into our travel bag and read in the car or by the shore- at Grandma's house or snuggled around the campfire. This is sure to quickly become a family favourite for the timeless nursery rhymes as much as the haunting illustrations! If you are in the neighbourhood this Saturday be sure to stop by Collage Collage and pick up your own copy of Half For You & Half For Me- be sure to get Sarah to sign it too!

photo credit: Julie Nicole

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Peek At Our Weekend

        Rarely do we get to spend a holiday weekend at home- and by that I mean our actual home in Vancouver. So for us to be staying in the city over this Easter long weekend was something special indeed- think slow, easy and local. The weather on Friday was spectacular and so we moved the Easter egg dying out into the park with our friends- it was so great seeing what everyone came up with- adults included. Sitting in the sun was nice although it is still a little chilly- warmer days are just around the corner and before you know it we will all be complaining about how hot it is!

    Saturday was a bit of a write off as this Momma came down with the stomach bug that was going around- when Momma is down the entire house falls to anarchy apparently. Sunday morning dawned and the Easter bunny managed to make an appearance- after our egg hunt we decided some fresh air was needed. A scoot around Gastown to our new favourite bakery was called for- so over to Cadeaux Bakery we went. This was not the Easter brunch I had planned but sometimes one needs to be flexible- so I conceded all cooking on Easter to someone else- which was actually pretty relaxing.

      So our weekend may not have been exactly as imagined once again but both the Littles are happy- Miss Lo just told me she "likes Easter at home" so that's a win in my book. We didn't need to drive any place which is great as The Mr. could relax a bit as well. Our quiet little weekend was just what we needed- besides the stomach bug- next time lets skip the stomach bug!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Granny Squares On A Friday

          I will be the first to admit that I am a wee bit obsessed with knitting these little Granny Squares of late- more commonly known as the humble dish cloth- the Granny Square is tradition of church craft sales across this great nation. Insanely useful and utilitarian and usually equally basic and boring. What started the whole thing was a skein of beautiful linen that I was gifted for my birthday- from there I found a fantastic bit of blue silk- yes silk- left over from a project last year- not much left but just enough for a Granny Square!

         These little squares are beyond easy- I knit up about five in the past couple of weeks- mindless knitting- perfect for car trips or sitting on the couch with sick kids. So much prettier and softer than a conventional dish cloth- and because of the long sturdy fibres these home knit dish clothes will likely outlast a cheap store bought version. The golden rule I have adapted for my own life "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" William Morris- the golden rule now extends to the kitchen sink.

         Here are the most basic directions I came across- all you really need are two sticks ( size 5 or 6 needles) and yarn- your choice of yarn is entirely personal- I happened to have used linen (and silk) because it was on hand and also because it is a sturdy fibre that has a lower impact on the earth. Cotton yarn is the most common choice for this project.

Cast on 4 stitches
Row 1: knit the row
Row 2: knit, 2 YO, knit to the end of the row
Repeat row 2 until there are 44 stitches
    - or your dish cloth measures your desired specifications
Next row: knit 1, knit 2tog, YO, knit 2tog, knit to the end of the row
Continue decreasing until you have 4 stitches left and cast off
weave in ends

          Friends it is Good Friday today- I love Easter weekend- it feels like Spring is officially here- our city is in full bloom and the air is warming up- truly a season of renewal. We are excited to be celebrating Easter in our own home this year- which for us is rare- we are usually at our parent's homes during most holidays- we are going to cook a special dinner and just spend lots of quiet family time together. Hope your weekends are full of love and chocolate Friends- Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Urban Homesteader On The Eighth Floor

             One of my favourite spots to visit in the Okanagan is Swan Lake Nursary- they are also a fruit and vegetable stand as well- but my main interest is usually whats going on outside- especially at this time of year! This past weekend we paid a quick visit to stock up on a few essentials- mainly strawberries- but also a few herbs that caught my eye and some bamboo poles for our beans. I was happily surprised at the number of organic seedlings Swan Lake had on offer- I managed to score the last dozen organic Strawberry plants- apparently they are quite the hot commodity! Score one for our mini Urban Homestead!

        I feel like our little garden is slowly starting to come together- we have our seedlings gong strong in our window- it's still a bit cool at night to transplant them all outside- but hardier plants like the Strawberries, beans and kale are all snug in their homes outside. Living in the city it can be tricky figuring out what food grows well and what doesn't- we have lived in our current apartment for just over three years and it has taken me this long to establish that tomatoes do not do well on our deck. So our little homestead in the city has a lot of herbs, leafy greens and the aforementioned Strawberries! This year we are also trying Fava beans and onions which I have never grown in a container before- it will be exciting to see how they turn out!.

        With in my body beats the heart of a country girl through and through- I long for a piece of land to call my own- but until that day comes I just have to try my best and make due where I can- loosely termed Urban Homesteading. Its interesting to me how this moniker Urban Homesteader  has become such a buzz word over the past year or so- referring to anyone who participates in traditional activities relating to the home- growing food, raising chickens, making yogurt, baking bread. I love the groundswell of this movement- how more and more people desire to live in a more environmentally friendly manner. What started out not too long ago as a return to understanding our food source has evolved into something beautiful that we all benefit from- weather we chose to participate or not.

      I used to get so frustrated that we were unable to grow the majority of our food- I was frustrated that we didn't have land- these feelings very much prevented me from seeing what our potential was. Living in the city it's easy to have a pot of herbs sitting in the window sill- clipping fresh thyme or rosemary year round instead of buying a plastic clam shell of herbs from the grocery store saves resources and provides a feeling of satisfaction in having grown something. Weather a family does a little or a lot is up to each family- no one can judge- everyone wins. So from my mini Urban Homestead on the eighth floor I will try and remember it's the little drops that all add up to form an ocean- and an ocean of change is exactly what this world needs!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Peek At Our Weekend

           This weekend was and wasn't completely perfect- the weather was flawless- our visit was fantastic but The Boy- well he had the stomach flu. So we did what we could to keep him comfortable and in between bouts of sickness the rest of the family had a quiet weekend enjoying the sunshine. Miss Lo thoroughly enjoyed having her Poppa's undivided attention- no brother or cousins to interfere- they went on an adventure just the two of them.

      My Mom and I had ample opportunity to visit- touring the garden and checking to see what is coming along- Peachland is several weeks behind Vancouver so while we have had our Spring bulbs blooming at the coast they are only just starting in the Okanagan. In patches along the side of the road my perennial favourite- Arnica- are starting to bloom- those bright yellow daisy type flowers- often called Black Eyed Susans. The lawn is full of shy violets. Sitting with my Mom in the sunshine on the back patio- sipping wine- listening to a neighbour's jam session- talking about my Grandma was the best part of my weekend.

         The Boy was upset that he had missed out on all the fun- being sick is no fun at all- he missed out on hot dogs and going to the park- he missed out on playing in the yard- OK well mostly he was sad that he missed out on digging in the dirt. We have plenty more of these weekends planned- school is almost over- it's almost time to hit the road.

        I think if having kids has taught me anything it's how to be flexible. We had planned on going up the valley to Vernon to visit the Mr.'s family on Saturday- but with The Boy literally out for the count and unable to move we just had to adapt our plan. Once he was feeling better we did manage to get a visit in with the Mr.'s Mom, Sister, Niece & Partner and our Great Niece- who is turning 1- nothing like a wee babe to make people smile!

       At any rate yesterday afternoon we reluctantly packed up the van and turned into the sun as we headed West towards the ocean- home. I know I have said it so often here but I belong to two places- my adopted city that I love so much- full of my life and friends- and the Okanagan- my home- full of my history- my family and the lake that holds my heart. The wonderful thing about trips like this is that either way I am always coming home.

Friday, April 11, 2014


          This morning I woke up under a snazzy patch work quilt in my parent's basement- I'm feeling lazy and quiet- the sunshine is slanting in through the blinds- I just want to stay in my pajamas. We are in the Okanagan to celebrate my Grandma Shirley- to say goodby- it's happy and it's sad. It's one of those perfect Okanagan days.

         One of my favourite things about coming home is the familiarity- coming off the highway and seeing the lights of Peachland- still able to know who lives in what house- good memories at every turn in the road. The .Mr and I were speculating last night how many times we have made this trip- downtown Vancouver one moment and in quiet Peachland the next- it is on average a 4 hour trip but often it feels like the blink of an eye. Relief is found at the end of the trail when we unfold our bodies out of the car and relax with a glass of fine boxed wine.

     Friends it is Friday again- one more day to enter the draw for a signed copy of Rebecca Chaperon's beautiful book Eerie Dearies! I'm going to soak up as much time in the sun with my sister- nieces and even Great Niece! May you have sun on your shoulders and peace in your heart-happy Friday dear Friends!