Saturday, November 21, 2009


i am drowning in work and don't even have time to organize my desk. the other side of the room may even be worse. hard to believe that my chosen career is interior design and that i help other people create homes that reflect their style and make day to day living easier. i really need to learn some balance... so much for knitting or sewing or yoga. if i don't start saying no i'll have to give up eating and showering... sleep sounds so good. and don't even start asking me about christmas - i will either hit you or burst in to a fit of swearing followed by tears.
now, onto some organizing, a bath, and a nap. right after i come up with two furniture plans, a colour scheme, and pick appliances, carpet and tile. ridiculous.

Monday, October 5, 2009

sofa surfing

i am in the midst of a fairly big and super hush hush design job for fantastic clients. my desk is a sea of paint chips, tile samples, and tracing paper. this lovely sofa is something i am suggesting for the living room. i'd bet that nobody will be allowed to eat nachos in this room. that sofa is begging me for some serious napping...

with this guy. happy birthday handsome. hope it's a gooder.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


it has been absolutely crazytown around here. i have given up on my usual linear approach to life. it is all multi-tasking and rolling with the punches. and there have been some big punches - both good and bad. savouring the good and waiting out the bad.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

wet and wellies

fall seems to be making an early arrival this year. vancouver had an unprecedented hot summer so it seems a little cruel that it will be over soon. not that fall doesn't have it's charms but rain is not one of them.
i have spent most of my life on the wet west coast but i honestly never wore proper footwear or carried an umbrella until last year. i also swore i would never wear a hooded waterproof anorak but succumbed to practicality several years ago. motherhood can really squash one's fashion aspirations. while i am sure there are cool coats/boots/umbrellas to be found, my budget doesn't allow for much in the way of luxury items. quite frankly, i am not much for wearing a big logo anyway. so i am on the search for new rainboots/wellies/gumboots/hipwaders.
i am a huge fan of aigle boots. when i lived in japan i had a lovely pair - lost to a bonfire - sad, sad story. now to find the perfect raincoat with a hood!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


back to school means lunch planning. new routines, new gear. while i was pretty enthusiastic about making sushi for lunch last night, it was a different story at 0700 hours this morning. thought these would make eating lunch fun (even if it's no fun making it).
mushroom lunchbox love notes from PuppyLoveCreations
reversible lunch bag from fortyducks

lunch box system from oots
vintage thermos from OleaVintage

Monday, September 7, 2009

burnt fingers (or not)

how cool is this machine? this is the Simplicity Bias Tape Maker and apparently it will make 12 feet of bias tape in 60 seconds. all you have to do is cut the tape to width (various width attachments are available) and feed it through the machine. WOW. with the amount of bias tape i've been making this week, i sure could have used one. my fingers are feeling tender.

Friday, August 28, 2009


these are some quick projects i managed to accomplish when i got some uninterrupted making time yesterday afternoon. the fabric box on the right is from weekend sewing and was very straight forward to make - but i used what i had and that didn't include heavy interfacing... next time. on the left is a cover for a small jam jar. we never seem to have small vases for our wildflowers and i thought this might 'pretty up' a simple jar to use as a pencil holder or a vase. easy and quick.
my mom was kind enough to give me our family teak dining table and chairs circa 1971. she thinks i'm storing it for her but possession is 9/10ths of the law, right? the original tweedy red chair upholstery is in poor condition and until my kids stop being so messy i am not recovering the chairs. the plan is to make removable quilted seat pads that can be washed as needed. with an hour left before picking up the little guy from daycare i pieced together the top for my daughter's chair. the photo doesn't show the colours very well...

back to the books

i have been devouring books all summer long. while almost all have been educational, not one was about parenting. the latest two books are family oriented in the best ways. i really enjoyed amanda's first book, the creative family and was eagerly awaiting handmade home. great projects - the girl has been busy letting me know what i should make and with what fabrics.
the river cottage family cookbook has been great. it certainly encourages families to cook together and to eat local produce and meat. we're looking forward to trying to make some yogurt and cream cheese. my husband thinks the sausage making is worth a go too. we are planning to eat more meatless meals this year so i needed to find a little more inspiration and there is no lack in this cookbook.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

vacation or holiday ?

what is the difference between a holiday and a vacation? and does it really matter? we just got back from four days at harrison hot springs and three days at whistler. very, very restful. i am so well rested that one might call it lazy. like too lazy to upload these photos in the order they should be...

we stayed in that charming little bungalow, aptly named the, wait for it...bungalow motel. there are about 10 bungalows of various sizes and i think they date from the 30's or 40's. some of them have original hardwood floors and are incredibly charming. others have some original features mixed in with renovations more recently (the 80's) made. the owner or manager was very kind and helpful and the cabins were very clean. there is a pool and a bbq and the complex is mere steps away from the public beach in the second photo. we had some serious sun and some serious rain. lots of napping and reading and visiting with my in-laws.

whistler was also great. we ate, walked, and watched a lot of tv. i took the boys up to the village to get groceries on saturday and could not have picked a worse day. the big crankworx competition was on and there were some serious parking issues. too many big vehicles and not enough spots. i have no idea what is planned for the olympics but you couldn't pay me to try and negotiate crowds - in the cold, no less. but it was lovely there and i can see why it will be a wonderful place for the olympics. we went to a couple of little lakes and just relaxed.

and tried not to think that there are only two more weeks of summer vacation or summer holiday, regardless of what you call it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

harvest helper

we have been enjoying beans, peas, and even this gnarled tomato. the other night we had a roasted baby beet salad. new crops of onions, carrots, parsnips, spinach, and lettuce have been planted and are doing well. the herbs are all growing and being enjoyed. little man helped sort everything and when i turned my back for a second, he dumped the shucked peas on the grass. at least he helped pick them up - a real exercise in manual dexterity.
it is disgustingly hot - a record temperature of 33.8 celsius for Vancouver yesterday but i swear that was the temp in our house and the yard must have been 36. i took the kids to the nearest shopping mall to make use of the free air conditioning. little man is not coping well with the heat. i know this because he refused an ice cream cone. seriously, what two year old would pass on ice cream? today he has been lying in front of the fan dressed only in a diaper.
i am in the throes of summer house purge '09. we pulled everything out of the manshed/garage and put everything we couldn't donate in the alley with a big 'free' sign. the husband grumbled about how much we could have made by doing a garage sale but he still managed to buy himself a case of beer with all the empties he returned. took a few nice suits/shoes/bags to dress for success. a ton of kids stuff and toiletries went to crabtree corner. there are outgrown clothes put aside for smaller friends. i am getting it together, heat permitting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ahoy maties and mermaids

just prior to the arrival of 18 kids we took a little lunch break. attractive, no? it's the only picture i have (argh!) of 'mermaid village'. one must look beyond the exhausted mother to the castle, pirate ship, and mermaid cave. i spent a few days with my box cutter, some very large and sturdy bbq boxes, and a lot of latex paint. the kids loved it. i may have handled the decorations but the kid wrangling/entertainment credit goes to the husband. he even went so far as to grow a pirate mustache.
that's my happy mermaid in the pink skull shirt sporting her pirate bandana, seaweed skirt, and carrying her loot bag. for the treasure hunt the dads spread gold coins and marbles all over the hillside and the kids had to collect them in their loot bags. two lovely teenagers presided over the goodie table - sticker packs, rubber balls, hair clips, bracelets etc. - for the price of 5 marbles or doubloons. it seems to be promoting consumerism but i'm going with building math skills and sheer entertainment. we followed with cake and a pinata ... and a big nap.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

making mermaids

the girl is having her fifth birthday this saturday and it has been non-stop making at our house. the theme this year is mermaids and pirates. she insisted on me making mermaid tails for all the girls but we reached a compromise with 'seaweed skirts'. a mobility issue - we couldn't have a bunch of mermaids falling face first while the pirates made off with all the treasure.
instructions for 14 seaweed skirts:
i got several yards of 42" wide tulle in 3 sea-like colours and cut it into 20 inch lengths. i then cut it into strips approximately 8 inches wide. i cut a piece of 1" wide ribbon to be 40" long and marked 10-12" on either side of the centre. then i folded the 8" side of each piece of tulle into fourths and starting at one mark on the ribbon, i attached alternating strips of the tulle to the ribbon with a wide zigzag stitch until i reached the second mark. i made sure to sew with the right side of the ribbon on the bottom and the tulle as the top layer - nothing like a tulle tangle in the throat plate. the girls can tie the skirts around their waists and 'swim' to their hearts content. not exactly my finest quality sewing but good enough for an afternoon of fantasy play.
then of course there are 10 stripey bandanas for the pirates and enough eye patches for all the guests. i can't take credit for the loot bag idea - that goes to lovelydesign. i simplified a bit by using a length of twill tape for a handle instead of a drawstring and printed off some clipart onto t-shirt transfer paper. my results are not nearly so lovely as Sharilyn's but this is some serious volume with 20+ kids. my fingers have blisters.
and i still have to make the cardboard castle, pirate ship, and mermaid cave....

Thursday, July 9, 2009

grown-up girl time

sporadic blogging due to some not so fun medical testing. but tonight i will leave the messy house to see handmade nation with this creative handmaker. i wonder if the theatre serves beer... regardless, it will be great to visit with another grown up who is not a relative or a nurse/doctor/orderly.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


via via

it is such a gorgeous day. perfect for cruisin' the hood on a three speed. would i remember how? i haven't been on a bike since 1996 when i lived in japan. i had a bike very much like the top picture and it was bright yellow with a black basket on the front. maybe things have changed and people in japan now ride fancier bikes and actually use helmets but when i was there everyone rode a babachalinka (granny bike). people rarely locked their bikes with more than a flimsy skeleton key bar lock. the sidewalks were very wide on major thoroughfares with one side being designated for cyclists. and unlike the folks around these parts (vancouver), cyclists actually used their bells when coming up behind someone. we live on a bike route and it makes me crazy to see people without helmets, not using their bells, with their ipods blaring, and sometimes even talking on their cell phones. kids these days! i should talk - my sister would sit on my rat trap and we'd cruise along the edge of the rice paddies while drinking cans of plum wine sodas we'd gotten at the vending machine.
while i love love love anything alexander girard i don't know if an almost 40-year old needs such a girly bike. it's just asking to get stolen. i would also need to have a baby seat put on the front for my babyman. the asama euro 3 ladies bike is now added to my birthday list - i like that it's canadian made and available locally at cambie cycles. just in case the husband is reading...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

lost in my library

wow - that was a satisfying book. i've loved orangette for some time and can't wait til Molly is back to blogging. her book was on my wish list but i couldn't wait until my birthday. and apparently i couldn't wait to start baking. the book was finished at 6 pm and there was a french yogurt lemon cake on my counter by 8 pm. i made italian grotto eggs to eat while i waited for the cake to bake. all of it was delicious. what a loving rememberance of her father and such a romantic love story. check it out. i feel some serious cooking coming on - lots of salads from our garden.

after a totally chaotic final week at school we headed up to whistler for some family time. lots of food, napping, and playing. it was very gratifying to watch cable tv and discover that we are not missing a thing. the same cooking show episodes from two years ago were playing over and over. (cancelling our cable tv was one of the best decisions we've made for our family). but most of the time i read. and read. and read. too engrossed in stories to blog but someone else's stories are always so much more compelling.

i whipped through seven of the little house series, then the sharper your knife, the less you cry, and a homemade life in the last week. i was one of those kids who wore out the flashlight batteries by reading under the covers every night. one of the nicest parts of being a grown up is that i can read all night if i want. nothing can distract me from a good book and it's a bit of a family joke. my parents are both voracious readers. dad favours the tom clancy/ian fleming/spies/fast cars genre but my mom reads almost everything with exception of murder mysteries and science fiction. there are vague memories of arguments about the amount of time the other spent reading and therefore avoiding housework or lawnmowing.

our current house is packed with books and although they are somewhat organized it is getting a bit overwhelming. once in a while i purge a few books and invariably they end up back on the shelves before i can deliver them to the charity book drop. truth be told, a dangerously high stack serves as my bedtime reading library - a bit dangerous in the event of an earthquake. but imagine the obituary: death by reading. buried in books.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

the sun is here

the last two weeks of school are busy for all parents but when one of you is a teacher it gives new meaning to the word hectic. i feel like a single parent and i know the kids miss having their dad tuck them in. it all makes the summers off so much more appreciated. and i can't complain about the weather. a big change from the dreary june vancouver experienced last's some sunny inspiration.

FREE via poppytalk handmade

Thursday, June 4, 2009


the garden is really coming along. every morning the kids and i do a check to see how big the plants have grown while we were sleeping. the only thing that hasn't germinated is some rosemary. i can't wait until we can eat some radishes or make a salad. the herb pots are looking great and the flowers are well on their way to providing us with some camoflage for the hideous fence. grow garden, grow!
there are already bigger plans for next year (hopefully at our very own house). i was very inspired by lynne at sugar city journal. see this link for the how-to and further inspiration. my neighbors have followed a similar plan and it is looking fantastic. sunset magazine is also a great source for small scale garden plans. vancouver city hall may even put in a vegetable garden with the produce going to the food bank. our new mayor is a pretty cool guy - handsome too!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


this time last year i was getting ready for my first trip to LA. cousin kimi got the brilliant idea for us to attend dwell on design. we attended the conference/lectures for two days and then there were two days of house tours. santa monica was amazing and while it was a busy trip, it was the most relaxed trip i have ever taken. we were so inspired by the gorgeous modern homes and the lectures on pre-fab, green houses. we both desperately want a modern place of our own so we are searching for the perfect reno project to divide into two homes.
and we've been buying lottery tickets... vancouver is still pricey despite the global economic downturn.

this shot is of a great front entrance we happened across. it reminds me of the urban homes in i saw in japan. many of the houses have fences right to the edge of the sidewalk and have interior courtyards. the climate allows people to make good use of their yards as an extension of their living space.

kimi arranged to have us stay at her friend's place in santa monica and at another friend's gorgeous bachelor home in the hollywood hills. we did spend a night at a hotel and wandered down the santa monica pier for mexican food and margaritas. it was the least we could do for ourselves after a hard day of walking through beautiful homes...

if things go according to plan, this time next year my family will be in one half of a duplex and kimi's family will be in the other... i'll be ass deep in home renovation projects but it is just so much more satisfying when it is your own home and not some landlord's investment property.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

summer holidays

can you believe this was a pig shed? wouldn't you love to rest here for a week or two? well, you can. this is just one of the lovely rooms at french farmhouse holidays. i worked with marianne at riesco & lapres interior design. she is a very accomplished and talented woman. she and her friend caitlin have worked hard to make their dream come true and i really admire them for following their passion.

our summer vacation doesn't really start until august 1st when my husband finishes up the day camp he runs in july. our only firm plan for a getaway is a few days at harrison hot springs with our kids and their paternal grandparents. the rest of the time we will find our entertainment locally. vancouver has a ton of fun and economical things to do - weather permitting.
me, i will be working hard on some projects - knitting, gardening, sewing, and starting a couple of new businesses... but i plan to make time for plenty of beer drinking and bbq.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

making mojo

I finally have my 'making mojo' back. the catalyst was reading 'Little House on the Prairie' for maybe the tenth time. something about a family who makes everything they need - gets me in the mood to make.
there are always old sewing patterns at the local thrift stores. but lately most of the patterns seem to be from the 1980's and i'm just not willing to go back to shoulder pads and flourescent geometric patterns. not good then and not good now. one of the best places to find era-specific patterns is Lazy Susan's at 3647 Main Street, Vancouver. they also carry a ton of cute jewelry and unique gift items - all very reasonably priced. sorry, no link.

i was too ill to go to work on sunday and the grandparents took the kids to the beach for the day. when i woke up from my nap i got right to work. i had every intention of drafting a dress from a japanese craft book i bought in san francisco but then remembered I had this pattern from 1967. even had enough black and white small check cotton and the correct length of zipper in my stash. the crazy thing with old patterns is the sizing - i mean seriously, who has the measurements of 36-24-38 these days? or any day for that matter. i'm on the slim side (some might say stick like) but i haven't had a 24 inch waist since i was eleven. but this basic shift required no alterations and i wore it the next day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

one of my top three handmades

this little person looks awfully suspicious. is he just gauging how much he can potentially get away with? or is he thinking: YOU are my mom? for reals? you can barely handle the other two and where will i sleep in that tiny house? you realize you will be driving a minivan forever right? are you sure about this?

making this guy was certainly one of the best things we've ever done.
mr. handsomey turns two tomorrow. despite his best efforts to do damage to himself every day, he is still very much alive. he is the most energetic of our three kids. he can scream louder than anyone and has quite a throw. he climbs onto everything and wants nothing more than to run into traffic. he is wearing me out. that being said, he is so sweet and loving. he adores his brother and sister (and they him) and absolutely worships his dad. he loves cars and balls and eats anything (including things he shouldn't - enough with the pennies little dude). i can't wait for him to talk - his vocabulary is limited to: Daddy, Mommy, Blue, ball, bubble, bottle, bath, poo poo, and doot doot (for any vehicle). so yeah, he can get pretty frustrated. but he is my baby, the last i'll ever have, and time seems to be quickly passing. on the other hand, i can't wait to be finished with diapers.
Happy Birthday Webber Luke! we love you.

super masculine boy dolly made with wee wonderfuls
archie pattern - go get one

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

garden plan 2009

big plans for the garden this year. i've sifted the soil and sprayed the chickweed with enviro-friendly weed killer. added compost and more topsoil. made a paver brick border and added a little brick patio. built a bamboo lattice on the south facing side of the tool shed (yed it is still hideous). bought more planters and pots and put in the tomato and bell pepper seedlings. planted herbs and veggies and flowers. if this house wasn't a rental i would have the front yard planted with berries and raised beds for more veggies.
i've just read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. he really makes a strong argument for being concious of where your food comes from. i would love to keep a couple of laying hens but i think my toddler would terrorize them. we can't afford to buy everything organic (milk at $10 for 4 litres - ouch!) but we do go to the farmer's markets, buy organic eggs, make our own bread and our meals are made from scratch. we are trying to eat less meat and go to the butcher rather than the big supermarket. i can't wait to walk out the back door and pick our own vegetables. you can't eat much more local than that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

mama's day

these kind peeps (and their super dad) gave me a wonderful mother's day. this pic is almost two years old - they have all grown so much since that wee boy was born. i slept in and then went off to work. when i got home i had a very cozy nap and then we had a fantastic dinner - all homemade - enchiladas, caesar salad a la Julia Child, spanish rice followed by angel food cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream. beautiful handmade cards and lots of hugs and kisses.

sadly, my mom called me to say that my aunt Joyce had died early on Mother's Day after a very brief battle with cancer. i barely knew her (big family spread out over a big country) but she was a legend around our house. my oldest son got to visit them in sudbury last summer and he still tells us about how well she fed him. no meal was complete without her setting out every condiment on the table and asking if he wanted more toast. Joyce was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother and did it all in a cheerful way. to honour her i am going to step back from the computer for a bit and try to find a better balance in order to spend more time just playing with my kids. they are little for only so long.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

mom - spoiler alert - close your eyes

here are the socks for my mom. they are made from Fleece Artist Sea Wool but I can't remember the colour way. the yarn is made from 70% wool and 30% sea cell. Fleece Artist is by far my favourite sock yarn - so luxurious and colourful and Canadian. the merino sock yarn kit makes a beautiful pair of socks with enough left over to make a pair of baby socks. i have a basket of little balls that i have been hoarding and plans to make a scarf of little mitred squares. then again it is nice to just dig in with both hands and feel all the squishy goodness.

knitting socks is another one of my tactics to beat the blahs. i find that i can mindlessly knit while watching tv after the kids go to bed. having a little stock of gifts for birthdays and christmas takes away a little pressure when i've run out of time to make a more custom gift. and socks wear out so there's always a need for more.

Monday, May 4, 2009


gotta bad case of the housefrau blues - must be hungover from my mini vacation. (which was fantastic by the way). my tried and true recovery formula for me is list making (after a bit of wallowing, a good cry, and some serious house scouring). it sounds like a sure way to fail by setting up too many expectations and opportunities for guilt. however, my current list is pretty long but it does not have any due dates. i'm trying to get one thing done a day and i make sure to add a few easy ones. like make the bed or put a load of laundry in the washer. it's sluggish, uninspired times like these that i appreciate having made a stash of handknit socks to send off to my mom and mother-in-law. the pressure of mother's day could put me over the edge...

Friday, April 24, 2009

leaving for las vegas

my favourite trip accessory by far is a small compass. in vancouver everyone knows that the mountains are to the north so it is pretty easy to navigate. however, in a flat place with few natural landmarks or in a busy city, a compass can be really useful. just remember that the top of any map is north. i am on the lookout for a lovely compass to wear all the time and this would be perfect.
my best girlfriend and i are off for a few days of shopping and sun in sin city. looking forward to shopping, good food, a big bed to myself, and sitting by a pool with a stack of trashy magazines. and of course having a great time with my closest friend who has been like a compass through the good and the bad for many, many years.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

spring cleaning

i am trying really hard to get inspired this spring and spotted this today over at Sew, Mama, Sew! maybe i just need to do an overhaul of the studio/home office/junk room. i did move the book cases around so i could sit in front of the window but the books are still a big disorganized mess. do i organize them by subject, colour (wouldn't that be pretty?), or most often used? i did find two of my stand-bys, both were given to me by my maternal grandmother when I was about 10. she was a very proficient sewer and knitter - having 6 kids and little money - and her mother was a seamstress. i can definitely recommend your local used book store or thrift store for reference books. the fashions shown in the books may not be au courant but the sewing techniques are time tested and no different from more recently published books. and the more money you save, the more money you have for fabrics or your dream sewing machine.... i'm saving up for this one.

Friday, April 17, 2009

i love paris

i love love love paris. just looking at a map brings back great memories. i visited as a twelve year old and went back with my husband for our honeymoon. even the collossal heatwave couldn't stop us from enjoying every moment. we've promised ourselves that we will return as often as possible. (it'll have to wait awhile - sigh). get your little piece of paris right here - famille summerbelle. check out the amazing family tree and cute tapes - free worldwide shipping in celebration of their one year anniversaire.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

cute freebie

i've been suffering from a little 'seasonal malaise' and not feeling very inspired. this little poster is just the thing to perk up my little computer corner. however, this pic is making me feel a little down - come on kate, learn to use the camera and editing software ALREADY.

my big boy is at school, the girl is busy playing with her tiniest toys and the little boy is at daycare today. thursday afternoons are for me to get some sewing and making done without having to worry about kids impaling themselves on scissors or swallowing buttons. today i am actually being treated to a nice ladies lunch. just have to remember not to have more than one glass of wine or i might just forget to pick up the kids.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

i married a boy

after a couple of days of mediocre weather we finally have some sunshine. on monday the kids were getting pretty whiny after a ton of chocolate and being cooped up due to rain. i happily pulled weeds while my husband set up the hot wheels track outside for the kids. they really enjoyed it but i think he's the one who had the most fun.

my lucky neighbors have this beautiful magnolia tree in their yard. i look out at it from my chair at the kitchen table every meal (while imagining that the pile of pots and pans on the counter behind me has magically cleaned itself up).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

babies need handmade

babies seem to be everywhere these days. my good friend just had a beautiful baby boy on sunday - he will share his birthday with his older brother. i made it out to her place a few days before with handknit socks and a little kimono i made. every baby should have something handmade to welcome them into the world.

relatives of ours will be welcoming their first baby sometime this month. while they are registered at a few places i resisted the shopping urge and made the baby a little outfit. a few weeks back i bought Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. great book - have plans to make every single thing in it over the spring/summer. i made the baby kimono and bloomers from the provided patterns and used the last bit of her Lightning Bugs fabric that i had in my stash. the booties pattern and the socks are patterns of my own making.