on winning back the affection of kid #1

happy belated halloween.

i haven’t posted for awhile mainly because my insomnia issues seem to have disappeared for the most part, replaced by snapping at kid #2 the other night for singing a song about cheese post 10pm.

last night i hit an all time sleeping low when i fell asleep during an episode of The Walking Dead. nowhere in my tv watching universe did i ever think that sleep would be induced by the sounds of apocalyptic zombie mayhem, painful screams, and gun shots, but there it was.

or maybe i just have 3 children. 3 demanding wonderful small human beings who suck the life out of me. or the fact that i’ve been trying to win back kid #1’s affection.

kid #1 and i used to be best buds. inseparable. we did all kinds of everything together.

and now he is 7 and in grade 2 and has taken a break from participating in family activities in favour of other things. part of it seems to be that he has become perpetually annoyed at me for having 2 other time-consuming children, one of which has to be hand-fed and diaper-changed. this is not to say that he doesn’t want to hang out with me. it’s actually the opposite, but the problem being that he wants to ramble on endlessly to me about his video-game playing, lego creations, and extremely detailed drawings. all the time. uninterrupted. all of which i want to hear about. but other people live here and have needs and want to talk to me. and this is fair because we are a family of 5 and no one of us is more important than the other.

except that kid #1 disagrees and this has become a problem.

consequently i’ve spent some time perusing handmade charlotte and spoonful to come up with some DIY activities to hold kid #1’s attention while i’m doing all the things he finds unnecessary such as cooking (usually in the company of kid #2 which is fun but means it takes a hellishly long time to get dinner on the table) or cleaning. because really, why not just order a pizza and let the dirt collect? 

i just want him to want to be in the same space as me despite the fact that other family members might be residing there as well.

i desperately want this to work because i desperately want him to be happy and not resentful that he has younger siblings. in retrospect a closer age gap between kids #1 and 2 might have made things easier but that’s a different topic for a different day.

this aside, poor kid #1 is the son of a serious craft-fail extraordinaire. but we’re trying.

may i present the spoonful version of the ‘hot-dog mummy’

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Imagemelon brain

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kid #1’s melon brain

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clearly this is the child of a craft-failure. doesn’t fall far from the tree.

nice professional pictures too i might add.

moving along.

so this week kid #1 and i have big plans to make, er, attempt to make, a mutant bunny cake care of coco cake land for handmade charlotte

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recently i purchased a piping bag and various tips. also i’ve watched a lot of cake shows so this should be do-able. maybe.

now let’s talk about coco cake land.

lyndsay sung is another super cool vancouverite who also contributes to poppytalk and craftsy – otherwise known as really awesome DIY blogs for pro-crafters like myself. and basically she makes brilliant cakes and cupcakes and offers step-by-step tutorials for idiots like me.

maybe one day i’ll make this

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or this

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or any of the other amazing things lyndsay sung seems to have whipped up. basically i’m totally on top of it.

just like everything else.

as always.

 

 

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you can’t make this stuff up, featuring ‘a cagey bee’

“that’s weird”, says kid #2 in her nasally new york sounding accent. she lives in canada. on the west coast. so that’s weird.

my children are weird. people are weird. some things are so weird in fact that you can’t make them up.

occupation 1: i used to work as a manager in an upscale gourmet foods grocery store. one day we were sampling fancy chips when a woman came up to the counter, put the entire bowl in her cart, and walked down the aisles munching on them.

another time a woman called to complain that the produce department was cheating her out of potatoes. and by cheating she meant that the potatoes were getting smaller while the price was staying the same. except that potatoes are priced by weight, not size. i told her i’d look into it.

occupation 2: as a family counsellor for a non-profit agency i’m surrounded by weirdness at all times. one time a woman stood on my desk to prove a point. another woman’s ideas for the future changed drastically from week to week depending on the advice she had received from her numerologist.

but clients aren’t the only weirdos. within my professional life i’ve met people who believe that with enough spiritual empowerment it is possible to walk through walls. like for real.

someone else i know doesn’t believe in evolution and thinks dinosaurs never existed despite evidence that proves otherwise. and that is some weird stuff.

despite being weirded out by weird people, i do have a propensity for weird art. and local artists. and i love the fact that vancouverite kris g. brownlee aka k.g.b. aka a cagey bee (get it?), has a weird enough imagination to envision wide-eyed girls cuddling skunks, hiding inside wind-up toy birds, dressing as bandits alongside raccoon friends, and riding life-sized squirrels. plus adorable robots, and fairy-tale and movie-inspired characters.

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a snow-whitish looking print hangs in my hallway, while a robot resides in kid #1’s bedroom.

recently a cagey bee is offering prints on wooden blocks that are finished with boat resin. last week i was lucky enough to speak to her husband, aka ‘a cagey beard’, who told me that the blocks were inspired by their nephew’s birthday in which brownlee wanted to make a piece of art that could hang in his bedroom while being knocked-off-the-wall proof.

not only do i want to devote an entire wall of my house to brownlee’s blocks, but also want to purchase them for kid #2’s bedroom. she’s clumsy so anything destroy-proof fits the bill for wall art as far as she’s concerned.

you can purchase a cagey bee‘s prints and lockets here.

and for your viewing pleasure:

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kid #2 is the poster-girl for weirdness, or as i lovingly refer to her as ‘the queen of crazy town’.

here’s to all the future weirdness that i can’t possibly imagine yet.

because life’s like that.

local love

so i tried to be crafty again last night by taking a tote bag making class at spool of thread. i didn’t seriously screw up the finished product of my bag although at one point i accidentally sewed the handle to the middle of the bag when it got caught in the sewing machine. this makes it sound like it was the machine’s fault. which it probably was. except that the instructor reminded me that i was in control of the machine the entire time. as in, i could have taken my foot off the pedal to avoid sewing loser mishaps. sewing loser. that is me. also, what kind of an idiot can’t use straight pins properly? they’re straight. they’re pins. nothing to it. yet surprisingly hard. i pricked myself more times than i care to admit (8) but somehow managed not to leave streaks of blood on the bag. it was a small miracle. i wanted to register for the kitchen apron making class but the instructor was all like “mmm…you should probably practice yourself a bit first”. fine. whatever. i didn’t want to make myself a kitchen apron anyhow.

i actually made the tote bag for my police officer husband. it sounds silly but i wanted him to have something that i had made. he was just super impressed with the pillow covers i made (although i think it was just because i had made something that didn’t instantly fall apart) that i wanted to take it a step further. i figured he could bring his lunch to work in it since currently he is using a gift bag of sorts and i am embarrassed of its ugliness. “it just needs to hold my lunch” he tried to explain to me. but he did like his bag even if it just might secretly have some blood on it. also i picked the most man-ish  fabrics i could find to make it. it’s the ron swanson of tote bags. if that could be a thing. i also forgot to mention that i almost burnt my hand on the iron because it was only the second time i had actually used an iron. the first time was during my first sewing class. the last time i tried to do a crafty project at home i ran the fabric through a hair iron. it sort of worked. whatever.

so anyway, tonight i went out for dinner at a french (obviously) bistro with my mom. it was a seriously welcome reprieve from the chaos at home. i’m mentioning this because the restaurant is on the same little slice of street as spool of thread but i haven’t gotten to actually shop the area because the classes i’ve taken have started after business hours. tonight was the perfect time to do this especially since i had zero children with me, thus no one to ruin my browsing experience.

the highlights were as follows:

collage collage

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if this shop/studio had been around when i was a kid i probably wouldn’t have become such a craft failure. they’re all about teaching kids (and occasionally adults) from as young as two how to do things like sew cute little critters, embroider, and make mixed media projects. when we entered the store there was a school-age class going on where even my mom noticed that the kids were doing better sewing jobs than either of us could currently do. sigh. my kids need this place.

also, the store carries some amazing art and books by vancouver locals. draw me a lion is the brainchild of lisa cinar, picture book enthusiast and designer. she’s currently on the faculty at emily carr university of art and design where she teaches picture book illustrating. dream job.

here’s a sampling of draw me a lion goodness.

art.

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and activities.

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collage collage also carries lisa cinar’s books which i love and have read to my kids countless times.

‘the day it all blew away’

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and ‘paulina p. (for petersen)’

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i also discovered during my hour spent in their carefully curated book section that one of my favourite illustrators EVER, julie morstad is a vancouverite so yay for local!

‘when you were small’ has long been one of my favourite books

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and she’s put out the most adorable board book called ‘swing’ which i went crazy for. which sounds a lot like “mom! mom! oh my god! look at this book! look at the pictures! #2 and #3 NEED to have this!!!” so here it is.

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tonight i looked julie morstad’s website up to check out what other amazing books/art she’s done and realized that she was responsible for the cover art on one of my favourite novels ‘the family fang’. i adore this book. it’s quirky and awesome and super fun to read.

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she also did the cover for this book.

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why was i unaware of this book’s existence? i’m beyond embarrassed for myself. i’m going out to purchase it tomorrow. my life would be better if i owned this.

oh ps, i will be taking kid #2 to the little kids drop in classes at collage collage. apparently yesterday the class focused around the book ‘the dot’ which she loves. she’s going to love the class. win win!

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moving along.

we then went over to precious and few, a cutey little children’s boutique owned by local favourite barefoot contessa.

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they too feature local goodies like fait pour toi. i wanted to take them all home for kids #2 and #3. or for me. does it matter?

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roxypop also makes adorable things. i considered purchasing this garland for kid #2’s room. i didn’t but totally should have.

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also, i could probably make this myself. not sure.

precious and few also carries local redfishkid designs which are pretty spectacular. apparently their line was featured in the movie ‘eat, pray, love’ so they’ve been getting worldwide attention. i will never read that book but that’s a different story for a different day.

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maybe kid #2 can wear one of their dresses the next time she goes to a wedding. not that we’ve been invited to one. today she insisted on wearing hand me down white patent leather party shoes several sizes too big. to the park. no matter. her only concern was that due to their size i might not let her wear that particular pair to a wedding so could i please buy her smaller ones for when she attends one. um…sure? she hasn’t been to any weddings. we don’t currently know anyone getting married. who is this crazy haired wedding-attending child?

whatever. anyway, before our super yummy dinner at les faux bourgeois we stopped in at spool of thread since my mom hadn’t been there. this is it by the way.

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“the place that started it all” she called it. as in, i once went into the store and decided it was time to uncork my inner seamstress. i was still feeling like a sewing loser but after getting super excited about the beautiful fabrics herself, my mom decided that it would be “easy” for me to make things. oh mom. as if.

 

DIY for competent adults

there are things i can do and things i cannot.

in the interest of personal self-esteem, i will start by listing a few of the things i can actually do.

i can make babies. i can bake a pie like no one else. i can host a fabulous dinner party. i can write a research paper. also i am flexible. as in my body, not my attitude.

growing up i never learned how to make things or fix things or do stuff by myself. blaming is cliche but if i had to point fingers it would be at my mother. my mother is great. the greatest. but the woman does not know how to sew a button and neither do i.

in grade school i was a brownie and worked diligently to earn badges in all sorts of useless manner. braiding, making friendship bracelets, being nice. that sort of thing. my sash was covered with them. but while the other girls’ mothers sewed their daughter’s badges on, mine just super-glued them. 

one time my parents decided to paint their house blue. my entire “i did it myself” memory as a child was painting the front door. a few months ago i drove the kids past the house where i grew up and made them look at it. true story.

but that’s the only thing i ever remember them doing and writing this i’m wondering if they were responsible for painting the ENTIRE house or if they ended up hiring someone to finish up. if it wasn’t so late i would call and ask. the thing is that i remember various rooms in our house being painted different colours over the decade we lived there and i ALWAYS remember it being done by a professional.

need a new deck? hire a professional. decide to remodel the kitchen? hire a professional. need your pants hemmed? take it to a professional. or at least someone who actually knows how to use a needle and thread.

to my dad’s credit he once built my sister and i a playhouse in our backyard. it took him forever to make and was totally crooked but we loved it anyway. i also think he knew the basics of using a needle and thread. as in, if a button fell off his shirt he could probably fix it.

when i was in my first couple of years of university i remember this huge atkins diet craze happening where i felt guilty for even looking at a bagel. now i feel the same way about craftiness in general. etsy is a thing. pinterest is a super thing. knitting. canning. quilting. sewing. these have all become hipster things to do. akin to wearing glasses, skinny jeans, and being totally ironic.

suddenly i do not fit in.

also, i am obsessed with etsy. i used to like browsing the site but during my recent bout of insomnia my browsing became super intensive. i made categories of things to gift people. do i know you? then you probably have potential gifts assigned to you.

pinterest is one of those things that i could get lost in if i wasn’t careful. actually if i spent anytime at all on pinterest i would probably take to crying myself to sleep. “why are these people so talented and ingenious?” i would sob. “and how do they manage to glue things without sticking their fingers together?”

my mom likes pinterest. the site has given her such clever ideas as putting my kids in the bath with glow sticks and the lights turned off. actually they loved that. but then last christmas she insisted on attempting to make snowman marshmallows that theoretically should have looked something like this.

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except that we actually made this.

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well done us.

one of my favourite sites EVER is craftfail because it makes me feel normal for not being super ridiculously talented and creative. but also it makes me feel apathetic because i am dis-interested in attempting most crafts because i expect imminent failure. thus i do nothing. until i have a big idea to actually do something.

so during my sleepless summer nights of etsy-ing, i came across many shops selling gorgeous skirts and dresses for little girls.

such as corinne citrolo‘s,

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lakenandlila’s

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marvieshop

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and cre8tive.

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i could totally totally do that, i thought. how hard could it possibly be?

this all happened around the same time i turned 30. no matter the dress clothes, the mortgage, the three kids, i never felt like a real adult. i felt like i was tricking people somehow. but then i reminded myself (again) that 30 was actually a real adult number and decided that yes, i would in fact make clothes for my girls.

being all initiative-y and stuff, i signed up for a beginner’s sewing class at spool of thread in vancouver. i was super super psyched. “look at me”, i thought. “i am going to make stuff!!!” i excitedly perused around the store believing that i was soon going to be able to make all number of kids clothing goodness. i then stumbled upon oliver + s patterns.

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i looked through the stack of them as if i was some kind of a sewing master. “hmmm” i thought, “would this particular item that i am going to make look better on kid #2 or kid #3?” i asked myself. i was completely tempted to purchase one for the day (next week?) when i would be a skillful sewer.

but then i strode up to the counter to pay for my class and saw a basket with these cute little DIY felt hoop embroidery kits by heidi boyd and became so excited that i decided to purchase the fox kit immediately.

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“is this hard to do?”, i said to the girl behind the counter. “can you sew a button?” she asked. “ummmm. yes. definitely yes.” i lied. “then it should be no problem for you” she said. so i purchased it even though i had not sewn a button to date. oh, but i’m 30, i reminded myself. i am an adult and i can do things with buttons and sewing needles and such.

i went home and decided to begin my craft that night. except that i was so excited about the project i was soon to complete that i poured myself a large glass of wine and decided to do some etsy browsing instead. after all, having not even opened my kit, i decided that i should look at other felt embroidery to inspire myself. i was particularly taken with catshy crafts and decided that after my current project (that i was still to open) i would take on some of these designs. i was inspired with this grouping and had even decided which wall in my house would best suit all of my future handiwork.

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so pretty, i thought. and then i opened up my kit and cut out some felt fox pieces. and then i tried to pin them to the hoop except i realized that i hadn’t thought to buy straight pins so wrestled with some safety pins instead until they sort of resembled haphazard straight pin with weird curls on the end. then i got tired or bored or both and went off to watch tv instead. my craft was meant to be finished the next day. or the next. or even the week after. then it sat on the kitchen table unfinished for awhile so i would be forced to look at it. and now it has been moved into a cupboard where it lives to this day. really i should have just purchased a ready made (or two) from catshy craft. like this one

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or this one

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sigh.

but nevermind. i was going to be a sewer, not a stitcher.

i did complete my beginner sewing class where i made two very cute throw pillow cases. and while i was high as a kite afterwards, i look back and remember that i was hand-held the entire class. i didn’t really know what i was doing. i just listened and did what i was told and hoped for the best. of course i’m saying this in hindsight because at the end of the class when i realized that i had actually produced something nice, i felt like a total rock star and instantly signed up for a tote-making class. if i was to go back today and attempt (even with a pattern) to re-create what i had made i feel like the results would be iffy. or i wouldn’t be able to properly read the pattern. or that i would somehow set the sewing machine on fire. it happens.

i feel especially useless though when i take into consideration that one of my best friends is the co-creator of tin can knits. not only does this woman knit like nobody’s business, she designs patterns, teaches, publishes books, and made several dozen 1-cup mason jar servings of various flavours of homemade ice cream for her son’s first birthday. i chose roasted cherry goat cheese ice cream and it was close to the best thing i have ever eaten. this friend is also trying to entice me into learning to quilt. right. because i’d be stellar awesome at that.

oh wait, did i mention that i occasionally model for tin can knits

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hello me in lovely sweater and kerchief from ‘pacific knits’

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anyhow, long before tin can knits was a thing, this friend of mine gifted me a private knitting lesson at urban yarns. it was good and i learned a lot and being me i spent an exorbitant amount of money on a DIY scarf set. and then i got bored. and then one day my husband picked it up and finished it like it was no biggie. he’s crafty like that.

we have this sad but true saying in our household that everything i can do he can do better. even if i’ve originally taught the thing to him. he just has to one up me. saying this makes me sound self-deprecating and compliment-seeking but it’s the truth. every project the guy does turns to gold. he is currently wondering if i would like him to finish my felt embroidery craft. the answer is probably.

it is a given on etsy that people make amazing things. but also they design amazing things that they want you to make for yourself.  like fairyfox. apparently she believes that me or someone else can make an entire dollhouse and furniture out of felt.

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and the fact that she has managed to come up with all of this literally blows my mind. i am incredulous.

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a roasted felt chicken and smiley popsicles? not in my wildest dreams would i be able to come up with that.

also i love felted dolls and (hold the laughter) i have seriously considered purchasing one of these softie PDF’s and asking my husband to make one. or my son. whichever. just not me.

dolls and daydreams is amazing for softies. that’s apparently the hipster way of referring to stuffies. besides the fact that i hate stuffies and am always trying to rid our house of them. but those little buggers keep breeding some how and i can never get rid of them. but softies? i’m okay with softies.

in my “i actually have the patience to learn to make these” dream, i would acquire all of dolls and daydreams’ patterns. like for these gorgeous little girls

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or this knightImage

or the 3 pigs and big bad wolf because sometimes you just want to be able to tell that story and have the appropriate softies on hand to do so.

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pipe dreams. so good.

one day i will decide to accept the fact that my talents do not lie within the sphere of craftiness. other people can make their awesome things and i have a credit card to pay for it. but one day…

 

 

 

featured series: cozy classics

books are a thing in this house and everyone knows it. i am a book snob. book collector. snubber of e-readers entirely. step on a book or bend its pages and you may as well pack your bags and go. i. love. books.

we have this nightly ritual here that’s been dubbed ‘book party’ and it started back when kid #1 was around a year and a half. i can’t quite recall the origin of the name though. maybe i had party hats lying around from someone’s birthday and was trying to be fun mom or something. or maybe i was trying to get my son’s attention. i don’t know. either way book party was born and it continues to be a non-optional requirement for children living in this home. basically we all squish into bed together and mom reads 3 books out loud. 3 really great quality books. as in, no kid #2, diego and dora cannot be invited to this party. neither can the wonderpets. do not even mention their names.

sometimes the books are ones i’ve purchased, and sometimes they’re borrowed from the library. my kids think field trips to the library are awesome fun times. one time we were out with some friends and had planned to go to the park. then it started to rain or got too dark to play or something so the friend sarcastically said that we should go to the library instead. kid #1 and #2 jumped up and down in excitement until i sadly had to explain to them that this was said as a joke. a sad sad inappropriate joke. 

don’t mess with books.

but speaking of books, i am the owner of one of life’s most useless academic degrees: the english literature one. sure i love books but having a bachelor’s degree worth of experience reading stuff won’t get you paid. (neither will a graduate psychology one but that’s a whole other topic). what i did get out of the degree though was an introduction to the canon of great literature. you know, the classics and such. jane austen everything. war and peace. les miserables. charles dickens. that sort of stuff. the kind of books you don’t read to your kids. the kind of books they don’t read until they get their own useless english literature degree.

but have no fear! the classics can now be fun thanks to vancouver based cozy classics. featuring titles such as moby dick and pride and predjudice, ingenious twin brothers jack and holman wang have created 12-word primers with needle felted illustrations.

here’s one from moby dick:

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and emma:

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and pride and prejudice

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wow, yes? yes. you can also buy prints from the books here

so looking at these really amazing needle felted illustrations i momentarily forgot my long history of craft fail-ness and wondered how hard needle felting could possibly be. while reading a very short excerpt about it i stumbled upon the words “stabbing”, “tangling”, and “painstaking”. so never mind. i’ll leave it up to the pros and get back to book party…