Friday, September 26, 2014

The Back To School Post

          This week has been a tricky one- so much has changed around here in the past few weeks- with the biggest change happening on Monday when our Littles headed back to school. The Boy of course was beyond excited to be back in the classroom- amongst his friends- even the girl who claims to be his girlfriend. He thrives in a structured environment like school- teachers shaping his days predictably in a way that is foreign to me- The Boy though loves knowing whats happening next and the moodiness that had been lurking has quickly disappeared.

      My girl- she started kindergarten- this has been though on us both- but if I'm being honest mostly just for me- I miss my girl so much. Miss Lo who is usually bursting with confidence and full of beans is a bit more subdued- particularly today when I dropped her off for her first day with the entire class- up until this point the class had been divided in two- today all twenty two children were together- my girl was a bit overwhelmed but went gamely ahead with no complaint up the stairs. She already has a friend who conveniently lives right downstairs.

         So with these littles safely squared away my days are about to change- the hours between 9:00am and 3:00pm are- for the most part- my own. Even today- which was a short day- I sat in a coffee shop- reading an actual magazine- the whole way through. One look around our apartment reveals a change is happening- most toys are away in their homes- the living room tidy- pillows on couch- no crumbs on the floor. Backpacks and shoes litter the front hall closet- our dining room table is covered in permission slips and library books- a change from the usual sea shells and sticks.

         When you are in the thick of raising babies- the tough days when you have had very little sleep or foul moods are catching- when you are sitting in the middle of a living room that looks like a tornado blew through- you think it will never end. We had our babies eighteen months apart- we had two babies under the age of two- it was intense- it was crazy- at times I have sat in the bathroom and cried- life is like that. I feel like we have come out the other end of that- I'm not saying that there won't be times when I want to scream- what I'm saying is I can catch a brief glimpse of a calmer and more tidy life.

       I am sad we are done with the baby stage and even with the trying toddler years- somewhere along the line I blinked and both my babies are kids- kids in full day school! So I guess what I am trying to say to all those Mommas who are in the thick of it- don't fret over the crumbs and finger prints- seriously before you know it your babies will be in school- your days will come back into focus again- stay present and as challenging as it may be- enjoy very little second.

        I'm not sure how my days are going to shape up yet- I'm hoping to take advantage of some dry weather next week to bike around Stanley Park- The Mr. and I have a standing coffee date and my friend and I are headed to a favourite cafe- kid free. As I struggle to find a sense of self without my children by my side every minute of the day I know they are learning- having fun- growing as little individuals- the important business of being a kid.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In The Studio: Dyeing With IDye

         Recently I have had a number of folks asking questions relating to dyeing fabric and wool- mostly friends who want to dye old clothes- either to cover up a stain or with an eye to a customized wardrobe. What ever the reason behind the dye questions a running theme keeps coming through- folks want to learn how to dye textiles but are intimidated by the process- so much so they often don't even try. I totally understand this intimidation- unsure about what dyes to chose, what pot to use and what the heck is a non- iodized salt! So in an effort to lesson the veil of mystery surrounding textile dyeing I thought I would introduce my readers (and friends who want to dye) to a few basic, commercially available dye options. Today we are talking about IDye- and easy to use, no mess dye- an excellent starter dye for someone dipping their toes into the dye pot!

           To start with- when dyeing any fabric- including pre existing garments it is necessary to wash textiles in a pH neutral detergent- I used Synthrapol. This removes any impurities from the textile- including grease and starches from the production process- allowing the dye to bond properly and evenly to the fabric. For wool I would suggest using the detergent as more of a pre-soak- do not put your skeins of wool into the washing machine- that would be a hot mess. Pre- wet all fabric before placing textiles in the dye pot- again this allows the dye to bond the the fibres more redly and evenly.

         Follow the directions on the Idye packet- they actually are very straight forward and easy- place the tablet of dye in a non- reactive pot along with enough hot water to cover textiles- add a cup of non- iodized salt and dissolve- before adding fabric- very straight forward.

          When it comes to the cooking time- this is where a bit of experimenting is needed- as you can see I managed a variety of shades of grey from the same dye pot- using both the boiling method and dip dyeing a range of finishes can be achieved. The darker colours were created following the packet instructions- I placed my textiles into the dye and simmered the pot for about a half an hour- stirring frequently. The lighter shades came about by twisting the fabric slightly(sort of tie dye but not really) and simply dipping both the wool and the t-shirt into the dye pot for less than five minutes- it was all about experimenting.

             I think the key to successfully getting started with textile dyeing is to be open to experimentation- be open to the unknown. Some things to think about- not all fabric is created equally- some cottons will dye differently than others- natural fabrics by their "nature" often have imperfections which tend to show up more so when dyed. When choosing a dye make sure to chose the correct dye for your fabric type- for example IDye makes a dye for natural fabrics- which I used here- and synthetic fabrics- if you use the incorrect dye it will not attach properly to the fibres and come out blotchy or possibly ruin your garment.

      When dyeing a pre-made garment consider what the thread used to sew the garment was made of- for example a cotton t-shirt sewn with polyester thread is very common- the dye will bond the the cotton t-shirt fabric but not at all to the polyester thread- leaving behind stitching that is a different colour. If over dyeing a garment to cover a stain often the stain will still show through- make sure to try a dye that is darker than the stain- protein stains- like baby formula and blood- are incredibly difficult to cover.

   You may still be scratching your head over what non-iodized salt actually is and why it's needed in the dye process- non- iodized salt is simply salt with no iodine added. Pickling or canning salt are both pure salt with no iodine in it. The salt is used in the dyeing process to help drive the dye into the fibres creating a more vibrant colour- not all dyes call for salt- follow the manufacturers suggestions.

    One last health and safety tidbit- when choosing a pot and utensils for dyeing please excersise caution- these dyes are chemicals so please do not use any pots or utensils that will be used for cooking. I have a separate set of pots and wooden spoons just for dyeing- they are never left on the stove or in the kitchen once I am finished dyeing so there is no confusion. I would suggest hitting your local thrift store for a second hand pot- look for stainless steel or enamel.

    So friends now that you have the ins and out of a very basic dye I hope to hear of a few of you jumping into the dye pot! Commercially available acrylic dyes like IDye are great for beginners- really accessible with fairly good results. While I still prefer natural dyes as they are a bit gentler on our environment- as well as being straight up magic- this was a fun little experiment. I have a few more dye projects I'm working on that I will bring you soon- including what I am doing with all this fabric thats been dyed over the summer!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Favourite Cake Friday: Rustic Pear Tarte

Rustic Pear Tarte

The Goods:


1 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter- cold- cubed
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons ice water


3-4 medium sized pears
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon corn starch
3 tablespoons brown sugar
a pinch of cinnamon

The Deal:

- making the crust: whisk together flour, salt and sugar. Add cold cubed butter and cut into the flour with a pastry cutter or two knives until the flour mixture is coarse and pebbly. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture- slowly add in ice water and milk- blending as you go. Once the dough has come together in a compact ball wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

- while waiting for the dough to chill preheat the over to 425 degrees and prepare the filling. Peel and slice pears in about 1/4 inch slices. Toss together with lemon juice, cornstarch, brown sugar and cinnamon- toss until pears are evenly coated.

- roll out dough on a lightly floured surface- roll out into a large circle roughly 10 inches across. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer dough to the middle of the prepared baking sheet. Arrange the pears in the centre of the dough- leaving roughy a 2 inch boarder. Fold the boarder over the filling- leaving the centre explodes. Remember this is a rustic tart and things do not need to be perfect!

- Bake the tart at 425 degrees for 15 minutes- reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 40 minutes- until the pears are tender and the crust is golden brown.

- Transfer to a serving plate and allow to slightly cool- we like this lightly dusted with powdered sugar but whipped cream or vanilla ice cream would also be fantastic!

        I will admit this is the second week that the Favourite Cake Friday isn't in fact a cake- personally I'm just fine with that as I don't hold grudges against desserts! I promise- though- to have a new cake for next week and more knitting- of course more knitting! Always with the knitting- because I have started on Holiday gifts- which is terrifying but true! Can you even believe it is now mid- September?!!

     Anyways it is Friday again- our last Friday of summer holidays - finally! We are looking forward to celebrating the end of the season with some good friends this weekend- there will be home made pizza and fine boxed wine. Happy Friday Friends- much peace and love!

PS- putting an "e" on the end of "tarte" makes it more french of course!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thrifted Thursday: Clogs

        This year and a bit I have become completely obsessed with clogs- I'm not sure if it's thanks to that 70's persona they exude or just the basic comfort factor- but I- am- obsessed. Until recently I have only bought new clogs- straight out of the box- and endured countless hours (and blisters) breaking them in. Then last week- in the face of returning to work- I was parsing a few of my favourite vintage Etsy sellers online- lets just say vintage shopping from the comfort of one's couch is a dangerous thing! At any rate I came across this super cute and well loved pair on Shudder Emporium- based out of Edmonton Alberta.

        I have never bought vintage footwear online before- it was a bit risky but the measurements matched up and I took the leap of faith- hitting purchase with bated breath. These clogs were just too good to pass up- aside from the correct measurements they looked soft and totally worn in- avoiding the pain of breaking a new pair in- also they were made in Italy- which according to my friend is THE hallmark for a good product! When my vintage purchase arrived a speedy 3 business days laterI was not disappointed- my new -to me- clogs fit like a dream.

         Part of the appeal of vintage to me is the patina or worn look- I'm not a fan of things that look brand new- I like an object to have a story a past history. Obviously the romantic in me compels even my purchasing history! These clogs have seen a lot of miles but are as soft as can be- I'm happy they came into my life to make new stories and travel new paths- long may we wander!

P.S.- this staircase is my new favourite- it looks like a stoop that needs to be sat on- copious cups of coffee should be consumed here in the fading summer sunshine!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

End of Summer Visit to Deep Cove

      A collective sigh of relief was heard across British Columbia yesterday morning- upon waking parent's and students alike learned we will most likely be headed back to the classrooms early next week. The labour dispute between government and teachers has reached an agreement and our wonderful teachers will be at the front of the classroom and ready to teach. With that said I am so happy we took a final little day trip this week- with Momo and Poppa who are visiting- we headed out to one of our favourite spots- Deep Cove.

        The weather these past few weeks has been nothing short of spectacular- perfect for a dip in the ocean- water so clear the kids could spot crabs scurrying across the ocean floor from up on their perch. Of course many rocks were thrown and it took bribes of doughnuts to get the Littles to leave the beach- I'm sure they could sense the change in the air- see the trees tinged with orange. This summer has been idyllic- one adventure after the other- I am so grateful for all our wonderful hikes, beach days, forest exploring and park play. My heart is full. 

         Back to our Deep Cove visit- my parents had never been out to this spot and so we thought we would share it with them- a hidden gem on Indian Arm. Our day spent out in the Cove was the perfect way to wrap up summer- fall officially starts this weekend- this seemed an appropriate way to say goodbye! I am content with knowing our Littles are headed back to school full of wonderful memories and a few new skills- a little more well rounded than before. Thank you summer- see you next year!