Monday, December 29, 2008

sweet eve

I'd been looking forward to Christmas at home for a long while... excited to see my brother once again, and for the first time ever hosting christmas eve (and day) dinner for my family at our house up on the mountain. Our place is so cozy to me that it makes me happy to share and give a lot of love to our visitors who make the trek to come and see us here. Charles and I planned and were ready to cook up a big Thai food dinner for Christmas Eve dinner, and then a traditional turkey dinner for Christmas Day, with a big brunch in between.

We were also expecting over 2 feet of snow outside our door. This is normal on the mountain and we're ready for it, and the university we live at is pretty efficient at clearing our roads. But then the rest of the Vancouver area received all of that snow too, which is a little out of the ordinary. Vancouver people just aren't prepared for so much snow!

All of our family and guests called and cancelled our invitation to christmas eve dinner. I was heartbroken..and frustrated to think what we would do with all of our wonderful food! Then there came a knock on our door, our neighbours Susanna and Marie had come to borrow a shovel and, oh, what were they doing tonight?

sweet eve by you.

And so our wonderful neighbours saved Christmas. Susanna and Sebastian brought eggnog and wine. Marie brought chocolate. Mike and Malgosia brought hot apple cider (and their beautiful new little baby girl Leelu!). And Howard and Kevin brought rice and a dozen other little things I ran out of and can't be simply bought when you live on top of a mountain. We spent the evening all together, laughing and eating and sharing all of our stories together. And it became the most sweetest christmas eve that I have ever had.

sweet eve by you.

I've never really experienced this before, this affinity and closeness with neighbours, and I still am a little suprised by it. Sadly, I think that it is rare these days. It may be strange to some, but I love these people! We are all from different worlds, only brought together by geography and the desire to create a warm and cozy neighbourhood which we can all live in and share. In this unaffordable city which is Vancouver we ended up on this mountain, and unexpectedly I have found my home, in the warmest, most happiest sense of the word. 

It is my truest hope that I do not come across as self-applauding in writing here in this place. Please, not at all and if so please do tell me. 

But If you happen to still be reading my gush, consider doing something kind for a neighbour or two sometime soon. Perhaps nothing may come of it, but just maybe you may find a little bit of this happiness as I have found. For I truly, truly wish for joy and love upon you all.

and, Merry Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

the prettiest day

Today is the prettiest day I can ever recall, it is bright and sunny and there is snow up over my knees.

Adelaide and I spent the morning outdoors, feeding our many bird friends and knocking all the snow off of our silly hunched over trees that have never learned to shed their leaves. We shoveled out our steps and walk, and then our elderly neighbour's, too.

on the path by you.

Then together we took our sled and slid away down the path and into the forest and spent a little time inside, in awe of at the beautiful hushed white stillness, and at the funny little yellow birds who skittered across the snow to us, peek for a moment, and then away again... I've never seen them before today.

in the forest by you.

My heart is happy, today it is so beautiful and so cozy and I feel so fortunate to have our little house at the edge of the forest nature reserve. For on a day like this, and step off the path into the quiet hushed snowy forest world, it is magic!

Finally Adelaide had enough (ENOUGH!) and I had to stumble home through the deep drifts carrying her, the sled, and my camera all the way back home. But I made up for it by making hot grilled cheese sandwiches...mmmm! So good. 

And now, while I type, she is tucked safely in with our boys, who are just so pleased to share their bed with a warm little girl!

cozy_inside by you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

favourites (of the moment)

I've collected all sorts of beautiful books for years, but when I decided to be a mama some day, and then I became pregnant, one of the first (and only) things that I knew about parenthood was that I wanted encourage reading with my child for always. Because of this, I've always collected a variety of books and have had them all around to encourage reading with my Adelaide, both through her access and by my own example. This is working, a little too well actually sometimes!

So, by this time we have dozens and dozens (and dozens!) of books all around our house, both new and old, thrifted and gifted. Books are a perfect gift to give a kid, and when people insist, I will request a book. Funny thing is, we have yet to receive a duplicate, for there are so many fabulous books for children. A visit to such a delicacy such as Kidsbooks, or even to abebooks.com is enough to get my heart racing!

Because I keep so many books around, It is always interesting to me to note which books Adelaide, now 22 months old, adores. She is most choosy in her selections (are all children this particular??) and she will insist on a very specific book at different times, sometimes over and over again, sometimes mixing it up with varied selections. There seems to be no pattern to her choices sometimes, however, she most definately has her very favourites... here are her top picks of the moment:

Home For a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and Garth Williams ..I remember this book well from when I was a little girl, and I actually picked it up at a Thrift shops years before I knew I'd be a mom someday....

Tico and the Golden Wings by Leo Lionni ...This book was one of my absolute childhood favourites and I remember it clearly. When I saw they had re-released the hardcover edition I pre-ordered it immediately. I am so pleased that Adelaide loves it too (probably because she is really interested in birds) The illustrations are so beautiful...

I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss and Mary Blair ...I bought this book because of the illustrations of Mary Blair, but amazingly it is the one book that has been teaching Adelaide how to talk! Me me me! are the first words she has picked up from a book.

I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom and Richard Scarry  ...Such a classic. This is the first book that Adelaide ever responded to as a little baby.

Mother Goose by Gyo Fujikawa ...I love the Illustrations of Gyo Fujikawa so much and am happy that Adelaide seems to as well. We have many of her books and I think they're great! Adelaide loves that I sing the rhymes to her.

Baby Beluga by (who else) Raffi and Ashley Wolff  ...Well, what can I say, she loves Baby Beluga! she loves that I can sing the song to her while we turn the pages together. So much so that I had to go download the song off itunes. She gets SO HAPPY when it begins to play...!

The Story Blanket by Ferida Wolff, Harriet May Savitz, and Elena Odriozola ...I just picked this up the other day as I thought it was so beautiful, funny because even though it is for older children, Adelaide loves it!

What are your children's favourite books today? What were your favourites when you were a kid? Any book suggestions for Addie and I?

Monday, December 15, 2008

happiness is...

Happiness is...

Your first ever hot chocolate on one of your first ever snowy days!

simple walnut ornaments

Here's a simple ornament that I saw done at the Burnaby Heritage Village Museum. (Appologies if this is common, I've never seen it done before!)

All you do is take about 16" (41 cm) of ribbon, and fold it in half, and then in half again. Stick a pushpin through the middle, and then into the top of a walnut. Voila! So easy and sweet.

At the museum they had painted their walnuts gold which was pretty, but for simplicity I left ours natural. I also tried it with pinecones and it works great as well. It might, however, be a good idea to put a little bit of white glue on the tack before pushing it into the nuts, as they can sometimes be quite loose.

Adelaide adores this activity, and so we've been making them together to hang on our tree. She selects and passes me the walnuts, and I add the ribbon. We choose a spot and hang them on our tree together.

christmas pinecones by you.

homemade christmas cards

christmas_card by you.
I've been thinking of christmas cards forever, but of course I only got around to actually making some this past weekend. My life has been a blur lately... you know how it is!

I sorted through my drawers of papers and using my Epson desktop scanner scanned in several scraps that were appealed to me at the moment, and some scraps that had bits of yellow, green and red colours. 

Using Illustrator, I then drew an ornament shape and opened it up in Photoshop. I then used the outline of my Illustrator-drawn ornament to outline, copy and paste selections of my paper scans. Next, I again used my ornament shape and blurred it, then added it to another layer behind my paper ornament to give it a bit of a shadow and depth. 

I then arranged all my 19 ornaments along with my mock-up text, and drew hanging threads for my ornaments to dangle from. Then I deleted my mock-up text, and saved the image as a jpeg to place into illustrator, where I added my real text (including an itemized list of where the papers originated, and a reminder to please recycle). The typeface is Neutraface.

christmas card (back) by you.

Using my desktop Canon printer, I printed the cards onto cardstock, trimmed them using a sharp new xacto knife, straight edge metal ruler, and a cutting mat. I then scored and folded the cards using my fiskars rotary paper trimmer with a scoring blade. I enclosed them all in pretty vintage 4x6" glassine envelopes, and added my mailing labels and stamps. And they're off... (I hope just in time!)

away! by you.

Its funny, that when writing my christmas card list, Along with aunts and uncles, old friends and new friends and neighbours, I had the urge to add so many 'online friends' to my list, beautiful souls Melissa, Geninne and Ana, LoriJennyJenn and Ella to name only a few. I don't have the addresses of most of these women, and I've never met most of them in real life. I actually feel like a bit of a weird stalker writing this! But somehow over the years, without my even realising, they have entered my heart and I feel like I should be sending them my christmas cards, too...

Life's funny that way. And good, that you can feel close to people that you have never actually met. Perhaps it's a sign that there is a tiniest glimmer of hope for the human race, afterall?

christmas card by you.