Friday, February 26, 2010

just another day

It's a grey and dark and wet outside our window today and we are just beginning our day. Adelaide is moaning, I must get off the computer and find something new and interesting to do with her. It is just another day.

I just wanted to write and say hello, Tell you all a Thank-You! for visiting us here. And, I wonder: Where are you? What will you do today? What is the weather like outside your window? How does this make you feel?

I am hoping that our just-another-day may turn out to be a lovely and special one. And your day, too.

xox.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

zoe and the fawn

One afternoon several weeks ago, Adelaide and I walked over to the University book store. We were rewarded with a marvelous book find, one which I had never seen or heard of before. The book we discovered that day is called Zoe and the Fawn by Catherine Jameson, and it has become one of our very favourite storybooks. It is a calming book, so gentle and unassuming, yet so sweet and charming in it's simplicity. And with such wonderful illustrations by Julie Flett... Adelaide and I both just adore it!

The story is of a little girl named Zoe, who along with her father, discovers a fawn curled up under an Aspen tree. Together, they decide to search for the fawn's mother. Along their way, they discover many different animals of the forest, and as they do the Okanagan (Syilx) names appear in the text.

So, this afternoon Addie and I went back to the bookstore and snapped up the very last copy, because we love this book so much that we wanted to share it with you all.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

the t.v. is broken

Here is our morning, spending time together in the studio.

Several weeks ago, I broke the TV. Or at least this is what I told Adelaide over breakfast one rainy monday morning. She listened to me intently, took it all in and then... her face broke, her shoulders slumped, and she cried and cried. Sobbed. Much to my amazement.. I was not really expecting this kind of reaction from her at all. How could the TV have become that important to my little two-year-old?

At one time, Addie had very little interest in ever watching television. She just seemed to prefer to do other things. But one of my goals is to (try to) have balance in life, and so I thought a little bit of watching together here and there would be fine. It is great fun to share some of my very favourite movie clips with her - Scenes from wonderful films such as Kiki's delivery service, My Neighbour Totoro, Mary Poppins, Bambi. Adelaide began to love the characters and songs from these films, and every so often we'd watch a little together. These times were such a treat.

But then... over the past few months, my work and store have been busy and busier. And all of us became very sick, one by one by one. More and more it became easier to stick Adelaide in front of the TV - just for a few moments. Sometimes, when I was sick and with no help available, I would collapse with exhaustion on the couch beside her and try to get a little rest. Sometimes I would bring work down and try to get things done. And then I would end up leaving her downstairs on her own while I worked upstairs. More and more this became familiar and then, routine. Somehow along the way, it became normal for Adelaide to watch television every day. Somehow, these most treasured times of my life became something so easily taken for granted.

What I didn't realise until later was that she was also growing into a miserable child. Much of the time she would be unhappy - whining, complaning, and disagreeable. Not fun to take places or be with like she used to be. Everything a fight. Often she would wake in the night, screaming, crazed, unconsolable - not letting me near her. It felt as though the connection that Adelaide and I have always had was fading, and I began to panic in my heart that I was doing something wrong. I began to fear that simply following my gut when it came to parenting was failing my daughter. I felt as though the person who I am closest to - her - was becoming a stranger to me, at only two years old. I wasn't ready for this distance now, and I'm not sure if I will ever be.

I considered it all a lot. And then I finally realised that, like most things, I have change myself first. In order to change her. I realised that I have been taking on too much, and that this is not what I want at this time in my life. I had forgotten that I will never have these days with her ever again, and how important this time with her is to me. And that I need to remember to treasure this time with her, not take it forgranted simply because our time together has become just part of an everyday routine. The norm. Not special.

And so I broke the TV. (or, unplugged it, and took the batteries out of the remote control)

The first days were hard. HARD. No TV for Adelaide means so much more work for me as a mother. Each day all day I am constantly playing, reading, singing, dancing, creating. Just being with her, teaching her, showing her the world. At the end of each day, I have been falling into bed exhausted and sleeping heavily all night long (for once in my life).

But all of this hard work is only for the short term, I have found out. The result of the no TV experiment is amazing! Both Charles and I are very much stunned and are constantly gawking at the results - for we absolutely have our wonderful sweet little daughter back again. Chatting, singing, dancing, dreaming up games and play-times which send my brain boggling. She is co-operative, fun and easy-going. She makes up and plays her funny little games on her own, independently. She once again is a joy to be around.

And she is back with me. We are connected, as we once were and always should be. Both of us now have little to no interest in the television. Being together is so much better than that!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Adelaide's cupcakes

This photograph was taken on the morning of Addie's third birthday. The sun was shining so warm and brightly in our kitchen, Grandma and Grandpa were visiting, and we had tea and sweet cupcakes to share. And still she would not smile even a just a little for me and my camera!

Adelaide requested cupcakes many, many times for her birthday, and so I - spotting a gluten-free mix at the market - was inspired by and made these ones in miniature. They turned out far better than I expected, yummy, light and moist. No one could even tell that they were gluten-free, and, oh my was it ever nice for me to eat a cupcake once again!

After mixing up and baking the cupcakes, Adelaide and I were inspired and so we decided to make some little cupcake flags together. She art directed (barked orders at) me for the colours and patterns, I cut them out, she glue-sticked them, and we folded them over the sticks together. She's getting quite good with her little fingers - soon I'll be able to really put her to work for me!

Addie and I would like to share our cupcake flags, so that of you wish you can make some of your own. Here is a .pdf file for you to download and print out. They are quite simple and only require cutting, toothpicks, a gluestick, and little bit of time to make.

You may download the file here:

lovely_cupcake_flags.pdf

From the template: These little cupcake flags are simple but they can make homemade cupcakes even nicer. They are perfect for a child’s birthday, shower, picnics, or any other occasion. I used these flags for mini-cupcakes, but if you wish you can scale them to any size. You can also use a flag as a template to cut and make flags from other papers, such as recycled wrapping paper, wallpaper, magazines, maps, or security envelopes. Or maybe even scraps of cute fabrics!

Adelaide and I very much hope that you like them, please let us know!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

almost three years old

The other day Adelaide and I were about to head out for a walk, and the light was pretty - plus she looked so cute - that I paused to take some photographs of her.

She rarely ever smiles for my photographs - I can't even remember what I had to do in order to get this teeny smile! And, often times this little dog is the only way I can get her to leave the house.

In a few days my little girl will be three years old. This both feels both melancholy yet joyous, eerie yet uneventful to me. Because, in the overall scheme of our lives, this day is just another day. Because even our time together has flown by in a heartbeat, it also feels to me that Addie and I have always known each other, even long before she came to me. And that we belong together, her and I.

For even as a small child, I always felt that something was missing. There was always a constant ache in my heart and no matter what I poured myself into, it was never quite filled. I was constantly looking, wondering, hoping, and waiting.

But I never expected at all, that when my daughter was born and they gave her to me, that I would instantly know: This is whom I've been missing my entire life.

And my heart has been filled.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

just for you, and february too

Here for you now is a pattern for this month of February. I very much hope that it may inspire you to make some nice things with it. (And if you do, you will share them with me, too!)

Because I needed to make this pattern quickly, I drew only three shapes straight away - a heart, raindrop, and dot - to work with. I also wanted to use these particular colours together: warm pink, tomato red, and a soft turquoise blue. This is the month when my daughter was born, and these colours together seem to suit her character... I often use them all together when I make things just for her.

If you would like to, you may download a full page of this pattern here:

february_pattern_2010.pdf

Using your desktop printer, you can print the pattern out, and make lots of nice things... perhaps some pretty little valentines. Or you can make and give away some lovely little matchboxes. Or cut and fold your own envelopes. Maybe make some flags for your homemade cupcakes. Or you can fold a bookmark for your sweetie. Or (like I will do) wrap a small gift for a sweet little girl you happen to know. Or you can keep it digital and use it for a desktop pattern on your computer, or even for a background for your blog.

Or collect all of the patterns up, one from each month and save them for the perfect project - I will try to download another pattern every month.

I sincerely hope you like my patterns very much, and that you can find many projects for them. Please do let me know!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

a homemade birthday invitation

Last weekend I set aside some time to make up an invitation for my daughter Adelaide's upcoming third birthday party. Addie has been chattering on and on and on about her birthday for months now, but one of her ramblings that touched my heart is her desire to invite the birds outside our window to her party. With this she inspired me to make up a little bird birthday invitation and party.

With this inspiration, I drew up a quickly scribbled concept drawing. This little sketch was very rough, but I has happy with the shape of the birds which came from such a quick and loose drawing. I have learned from my partner Charles (who is a professional Concept Artist) that often, the most powerful images come from the quickest sketches. The more a drawing is replicated and pushed, it can become less free and compelling. So, I kept the rough little sketch tucked safely away until I had time to make something more of it.

When it was time, I scanned in my quick little drawing, and traced over it with the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator. This became my template with which to make up some little birds. I printed out a few of my bird line drawings. I printed a few of these little bird drawings out, and used them to cut out collage pieces for my birds. Using all sorts of scraps - fabric, paper, linen-backed wallpaper - I cut the shapes out using my template. I lightly glued all my little cut pieces to a piece of white paper, and when I was happy with the composition I scanned them into Adobe Photoshop, where I touched up any small details and sized the image.

Once my image was ready, I saved my photoshop file into a .tif and placed it in Illustrator. I do this because I despise working with typography in Photoshop - I find Illustrator is much better for this kind of work. In Illustrator I then made and added the 1, 2, 3 numbers and the copy, going back to slightly tweak the background image in Photoshop a couple of times until it worked out best for the space. The typefaces I used are Mrs. Eaves and Engravers.

Then, using my old (Canon Pixma iP4200) desktop printer, printed them out onto this wonderful heavy, linen-canvas paper which I had picked up on sale. Once printed, I trimmed them down using a sharp new xacto blade and metal ruler on a cutting mat, and rounded the corners using my corner rounder.

One thing that I have always been meaning to do for years is to make a thank you card at the same time as making other cards. It is so easy to just put them off (and never, ashamedly, get around to doing) but I am really happy that this time I just pushed myself to get some thank-you's done at the same time. It feels great to already have them, all ready to go!

When I showed Adelaide the finished cards, she kept hugging and kissing them! She loves these little cards so much, that she has been sleeping with them, too!

I really enjoy making things for my daughter - putting a little bit of myself and my love and time my time into handmade things for her. Such as yearly birthday party invitations - partly because I know that I will have them to save for her forever. She really doesn't need any other presents - this is my gift to her.

Monday, February 01, 2010

morning

I woke up very early this morning. It is marvelous, to have such a solitude for myself: darkened house, complete silence, and utter stillness. The rising winter morning sun slowly streaming through my studio window. My only company is a big orange cat, purring loudly, weaving himself through my legs. To him and to me, this precious time is heaven.

When she awoke several hours later, she looked just so sweet and beautiful, sitting all alone in the big bed. I am happy to have captured this moment of my her just waking up into another new day.

Every morning before getting out of bed, we open up the blinds and peer out together into the new day together. What can we see? Is it raining today? Which birds are visiting our trees this morning? What shall we do today?

This little ritual was completely unplanned and unintentional, but the days we forget and just jump out straight out of bed just don't seem quite right anymore. A little bit of bedside window-peeping seems to be a very good way to start each day together, our bridge between the sleeping and waking worlds.