Crafting

Are Cacti The New Pineapple?

So I was all on board with the pineapple craze of last summer – who wouldn’t love it – yellow – sweet – has a crown – tough exterior – it is everything that I wish I was wrapped into a lovely fruit.  Plus who doesn’t need a little more bright yellow in their home or their wardrobe. What I couldn’t fit a pineapple into was my crafting – there was no good way to knit one, I can’t paint and well creating one out of clay wasn’t up my alley.

Enter the cactus! From wedding centrepieces to smart shirts with fun puns – cacti have arrived in grand form. The colour pallet can suit any decor and the best part for me is I can craft this trend in so many different ways.

31961911_10160279550295526_7113903951845523456_o

I started with these little guys, made for a few craft markets that I’m attending in the next little while. Perfectly suited as a gift for busy mother like myself who can’t seem to keep even something that doesn’t need to be watered often alive. I love quick knitting projects that leave me feeling satisfied and also also stock up fast for gifts, markets, and that last minute donation ask. Placed with real rocks, a little moss, and in a hand painted terracotta pot and these are seriously fun to make.

Next it will be a few home items that I can use to pop the trend into some decor changes that we are making around the house. Pillows are my go to here, simple construction with a flower that can add a pop of accent colour and will make me look like I’m the trendy person I pretend so hard to be. I have always gravitated towards green so this is just another excuse to add a little more of it into my life.

What do you think? Are you holding onto the pineapple craze or have your jumped over the cactus as the new trend? Maybe you don’t support trends at all? Are you crafting something yourself that you are hoping catches on with others? Are you trend crafting something of your own? We want to know and see what you’ve got going on!

Barbara

HockeyLife

The Loneliest Place on Earth

So it starts on Monday – the time of the year that I dread the most – Peewee A tryouts for my goalie. He seems fine, excited even, he’s been working hard all season to get back to where he ultimately wants to play. He’s committed to extra training, different opportunities and I think that he’s fairly confident in his skills.

Me – not so relaxed. If you aren’t a parent who has had to go through something like this let me lay it out for you. You walk into a place where you spend almost eight months out of the year and suddenly it’s drastically different. The air is electric with a tense cloud of stress. A good massage therapist would see a sea of dollar bills in the tight shoulders, grinding teeth and fiercely crossed arms. Those who you have known and played with for one season after another walk by head down and you become a faceless opponent to what they want for their child.

woman-2696386_1920

Then there is the “chatter”. I fully admit that I have certainly gotten myself caught up in this a few times, I’m trying to learn to ignore it but of course when what your child wants in their deepest heart is on the line, there are times when you can’t help but engage and pass along a thought or two.

‘So-and-so heard that the new coach has already decided on five kids’ – before tryouts even start. ‘I heard that xxxx is going to tryout for a team in xxxx.” “Did you see the way xxx skates, what is he even doing on the ice!”

It is not the only time as adults that we forgot these are all kids who want the same thing, or just that they are kids in general. The hardest part for me is that these are also kids who we have played with before, who are friends in the off-season, who are teammates on the ice, who have cheered my kid on before and I truly want to be able to cheer for them as well, but cheering for one over another sets you up for more disaster. The problem is hiding out in the bathroom is not acceptable.

118H

Having only been in this setting – the competitive side – for four seasons I feel like still haven’t figured out how to put everything into perspective. I’m getting there I hope. The thing is that I’m raising a goalie which means by ratio more kids and less spots. The one thing that it does provide me with a layer of protection as others don’t see my kid as competition for their player’s spot on the team. If I can find something thankful in this whole thing that would be it.

I find myself already looking at the first three ice times, figuring out the rink they are in. Then comes planning my hopefully quiet hiding place where my goalie can see me so I can give him some smiles of encouragement, but is relatively obscured to everyone else. Rink 1 is easy, big and lots of seating, usually I can go to the far side in the corner. Rink 2 also easy, I can watch from the upstairs area and watch in relative peace. Rink 3 and 4 – no hopes.  In my head there is already a list of people I will need to avoid at all costs if I’m going to be able to stay calm and keep this in perspective but those are usually people I would actually avoid in my day-to-day life anyways, and they might actually feel the same about me. But even as I type this all out I can feel the knot in my stomach growing at the thought of the entire thing.

IMGP2198

What I hope is that this kid doesn’t feel half of the anxiety that I do about these things. That his head is clear and the only voices he hears are those of the coaches and trainers on the ice deciding who they see potential in. If I were to channel my inner Oprah I would say ‘the one thing I know for sure is that I can’t increase my child’s true potential to be great at hockey or anything else. I can only nurture it or ruin it’. So I will quiet myself around him, I will hold this turmoil inside, I make sure he knows that no matter what if he wants to play hockey he will, maybe just not at the level that he thought he would. I will keep offering him opportunities to feel great about his work ethic on and off the ice. I will keep swiping the credit card for camps, training and seasons beyond this. I will keep fostering his dream because he’s only young once and at 40 I know there is nothing better than the feeling that there is a future.

Will it stop me from memorizing his tryout number as soon as I know it? Refreshing my browser 40 times a minute from the moment we leave the rink until the set of cuts for that day have been posted? Or crying in front of him if he doesn’t make the team he wants because I know the heartbreak he’s feeling? Heck no I’m a hockey mom.

Have you been through this? Do you have tips for me? Reach in – we all need a positive perspective and I could use one right now.

Barbara

Uncategorized

Childhood Memories in a Box

There are few things that bring me back to my childhood more than being in the kitchen. I had a “city grandma” and a “country grandma” and their kitchens were equally as different as their lives were.

In the clean, gleaming kitchen of my city grandma – with the collectable plates displayed above the cabinets – the smells come back to the two things we made together the most. Bright red cherry Jell-o and peanut butter cookies. I got to stir, I got to put the fork mark on the cookies, watch the timer, and wait patiently at the table.

In the farmhouse kitchen of my grams – as I have called her since for what seems like forever – it was totally different. It was more organic, earthy, a big bucket of things that could be composted under the sink – long before composting was ‘cool’. It was apples and pie crust, and Rice Krispie squares!

IMGP1713

So in our own kitchen last week after getting off the phone with Grams we decided to make some of our own. At 93 it is one of the only things she still makes these days for her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids, because let’s face it, pie from scratch is a lot of work!

Watching the boys measure things out, get one top of the counter to stir, argue over who got to do what step next was actually quite blissful.

IMGP1746

With my mom watching over them, things of course went just fine – although some where along the way we did manage to forgot to put in the vanilla extract – which really is a testament to trying to cook with two boys who are more about getting to the end so they can eat rather than the process of enjoying the moment.

IMGP1772

But when all is said and done can you really mess up something as easy as this? And also when all is said and done a picture like the next one is worth it all, a memory for them hopefully filled with the joy and smells that I remember so vividly at their age – but this time in their own kitchen.

IMGP1779

What is your favourite childhood kitchen smell? Whose kitchen were you in and what else comes along with that memory for you? Leave me I message I want to hear your story too!

Barbara

 

Uncategorized

#shelbytyedtheknot

So I moonlight as a photographer once and a while. Of course I would love if it was more than that but with the kids the ages they are and the amazing amount of talented photographers in my area as well as those who think they are amazing – I just can’t realistically quit my day job for it.

What it does is afford me a creative outlet other than my knitting, something that I can offer to those around me, and keep building my skills behind the lens. I have built myself a niche in sports portraits and that has served me very well this year but I also had the chance to photograph an amazing couple (weddings are usually not my gig!).

coffee picture

I met the bride about five years ago while frequenting my local Starbucks. From her first day there she was a breath of fresh air – bright – witty – stunning and so so friendly. She was also a creative soul often drawing little doodles on my cups making my day even better than it was with caffeine alone. Of course as most of my Starbucks barista relationships go she moved on to bigger and better things, spending time up north and then landing in Hamilton, all the while keeping in touch and letting me follow her journey.

Then it happened! She met her man and while it wasn’t a perfectly easy ride to the alter I have no doubt that their future is going to smooth sailing in a small canoe made for two surrounded by nature and with the love of each other.

IMGP9299

Honoured is not a word that I use lightly but it is what I used to describe my feelings when Shelby reached out to me to see if I was interested in photographing their day. It was a done deal and we didn’t look back. The day was cold (and I mean cold for Canadians who are use to winter cold) and yet these two didn’t show it at all. The day was full of laughs, spirits to keep the wedding party warm, stories of their relationships, their friendship and their time together. There was no ‘bridezilla’ to be found – not that I ever thought there would be.

Marriage is hard these days. Social media – everyone giving opinions – the question of choices we make as a couple – don’t make it easy for anyone. These two have already heard most of it and handled it all with dignity and grace. My 40-year-old self wishes I was that assured of my love for my husband and the path I wanted to take with him at that age.

IMGP9771

I even had a chance to play baker and give the gift of cupcakes to the couple and their guests. If there is ever a question posed in the universe of “do we really need cake at the wedding” the answer is always YES!

Thank you to Shelby and Tye for letting me play such an amazing part in your day, I truly cannot wait to see what gifts this life holds for you and watch it all unfold as a fly on your wall.

imgp9259.jpg

Barbara

 

 

Uncategorized

Birthday Giveaway!

So this is the “year she turns 40” and I already feel like this is happening too early in the year and that I’m not quite ready to embrace it all yet. Of course I have two days left to reconcile those feelings so this will be a work-in-progress of the entire year clearly.

To make it less about me and more about someone else, anyone else, I’m hosting a giveaway over on my Instagram!

Giveaway for Instagram

Knitting has been my personal form of therapy for a good many years now. It started as a hobby suggested by a medical professional in order to deal with depression and anxiety. Back then it was make some baby hats for a friend who was travelling to Africa, or dishcloths for just about every single person in my family. It was the perfect hobby, methodical, repetitive, with some patterns I needed to focus and others I could just knit away and not think of anything else.

balls of yarn yellow

Then it became a way to express my creativity and try new things without anyone seeing, if it didn’t work I didn’t have to show it off. (Although now I do show the ugly things because we all know life isn’t perfect and only posting the great things doesn’t help anyone.) Knitting was accessible, it didn’t cost much to do, the internet was full of free patterns and once you had the tools you were good to go. It was also portable, something that now keeps me busy in the car, and especially at the rink (also if you are knee deep in a project and look like you are concentrating you get to control a little more the interactions that you have with others and often I need that!)

So this little package is the perfect way to celebrate someone else on my birthday. Knitting for Dummies and YouTube Videos was truly how I learned to knit. Nothing else, that was it. I’ve included my favourite yarn for dishcloths – a perfect first project, never matters how they turn out, they don’t have to be pretty, and they are useful – and a set of lovely knitting needles from KnitPicks which is where I order yarn from often because of their material and colour options.

bow and hats yellow

I do hope that you will leave me a message here to enter and of course jump on over to my Instagram  and show me some love over there as well! The random number generator will pick the most amazing person on Friday February 9th at noon.

Do you have a hobby? What else should I be learning to do this year? What got you started? Let me know . . . .

Staying caffeinated,

Barbara

Uncategorized

5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

So since this blog is fairly new, or this version is new to many I thought that I would do a little into to myself. If you’ve been checking out the site, lurking in the background, come out, it’s nice to meet you! While this seems super easy – talk about myself – it actually is one of the hardest things for me to do in general so there have been now SEVEN versions of this exact post and over a week of work and now I just need to finally post it and be happy that it is out there!

       1.  Where am I from is who I am

This is two fold and each place is equally as important to me. I grew up in the rural village of Charing Cross, Ontario,  42.3327° N, 82.0971° W.  A small dotting of houses, a general store, a cafe/restaurant, railway tracks running through the end of the village and the most influential place of course “the park” – consisting of some play equipment, some horseshoe boxes, and the baseball diamond. The ball park is where I have the most memories with women who I played with on the same team from the time we were 5 or 6 until we were about 19 or 20! The slow pace of growing up in a farming community – my maternal grandparents farmed as well – gave me a grounding that I am still thankful for today. From just after birth until I was in college I lived off Country Road 10 in a raised ranch house with half an acre in the backyard to make my own. I worked in fields in the summers and learned the value of the land that we live on. I road a bus twice a day from kindergarten to OAC year except for the occasions when someone I knew who had a car would drive by my house in the morning and pick me up.

223932_10152063560495526_1869735953_n

The second place has featured in my life since I can remember as well, and is located just 15 minutes down the road and while it was just a place for day visits growing up – when I was in grade seven my parents bought a cottage there – is Erieau, Ontario 42.2600° N, 81.9157° W. Now Erieau compared to Charing Cross was bustling in the summer, cottagers from Toronto, surrounded by water, always something to do – of course until Labour Day weekend when 1/2 of the population of the village boarded up their “summer homes” and when back to wherever they were from. It afforded me exposure to different people that Charing Cross and my rural life in general usually didn’t. I learned that being “a local” is a great thing and meant that there was something you had in common with others and bonded you over being those who never left. I worked at the marina, I contemplated teenage angst at the lighthouse, I spent more time in boats then in cars. For those of you of my generation Erieau is the Canadian Dawson’s Creek and of course I had my own Dawson and Pacey as well.  I also love that my children can go back with me and experience some of the magic that the village has to offer (although they are ‘summer kids’ so their experience is also something that is completely different from my own as well!)

These two places shaped my entire life. They gave me the values that have gotten me to this point in my life – along with the fear that someone’s parent was watching! They have grounded me in a way that I am thankful for and they have surrounded me with people that to this day call me out, love me unconditionally, are those I turn to when I need it most.

13892340_10157174671995526_4809059541802932270_n

2.  My Role Model is my Grandmother

What can I say about Grams? She will inevitably get her own entire blog post at some point. She raised seven children – six boys and my mom – on a rural farm, while doing just about everything that we would now call homesteading. I learned to milk a cow from her, to collect eggs from chickens, to make jello salad for all the chaotic family dinners that would mean that there were adults at one table and kids at another in a completely separate room.

She is strong, 93 years strong. She has taken care of everyone around her. I watched her show her commitment to those she loves as my Papa passed away from cancer, then when she took his mom into the farm house and cared for her until she passed as well. I watched her help raise my younger cousins when the work of ushering those who were sick into the other side was done. She lived and raised children through wars, epidemics, new lives, deaths, and never once have I heard her ungrateful for any of it.

She gets super annoyed that I always have a camera in her face, especially when she is with my boys, but other than the hundreds of letters I have from her that she has written to me over the years since I left for college the images of her are among my most prized possessions. I want to be as humble as she is, as generous with my time, as loving to my family and as strong in my convictions.

998804_10153158499100526_1244322116_n

3.  I hate my food touching! 

If it was socially acceptable I would carry a divided plate with me at all times. I have several childhood friends who also have this issue so I blame it on them! Enough said.

4.  I photograph and write so I can be seen but also stay hidden

Oxymoron? Yes. I am an introvert. I deal with social anxiety and have for as long as I can remember. I have always felt like I am just a little on the outside of every social group I’ve ever been part of, with the exception of a few people with whom I feel completely at ease no matter what the situation. I take my camera everywhere I go for a couple reasons – it allows me to capture moments as I see them – it also allows me something to hide behind when things become difficult. Especially at the rink this has become a survival method for me. While I hope there is a time that I don’t have to hide, I also am grateful that I have skills that allow me to care for myself while also showing people around me part of who I truly am.

1623381_10153801560530526_257198564_n

5.  I HATE Mushrooms – but this was not always the case!

When I say HATE it is not a strong enough word for the visceral dislike that I have for mushrooms. If there is a hint of them in anything I will hunt them down and pick them out or I will just refuse the entire dish. Apparently though when I was little – two or three – this was not the case, my parents love to tell everyone how they use to have to eat their mushrooms first so that I wouldn’t steal them off their plates. There is no photographic evidence of this at all. I remember growing up down the road from a mushroom factory that was growing these little fungus things in piles of manure and thinking “who the hell chooses to eat that!”. NOT ME!

So there is it – the good – the bad and the quirky. This was tough, send me some love, tell me something about yourself that I should know!

Collections

Be Still My 13-year-old Heart – Your New Enamel Pin Obsession Starts Here

I feel like a version of my 13-year-old self was meant to relive her glory in 2018 where currently a new obsession has taken over the internet and especially the ‘makers movement’ – enamel pins.

First off I am a collector of many things. When I was younger, I collected Care Bears, Rainbow Brite items, baseball cards, books etc.  As a grown up it has changed into notebooks, pens, and an ever growing set (both big and ornament sized) Starbucks mugs.

Then just before the new year I discovered enamel/lapel pins! Not familiar with lapel pins? A lapel pin is a small pin that is worn on the folded flap on either side of a jean/leather jacket or shirt. They can be worn to identify a group or organization, but they can be fun too! I first noticed a pin trend happening among knitters on Instagram who were putting them not on lapels at all but on their project bags. After falling in love with a few of the pins, I too have decided to start collecting!

So today I wanted to share with you one of my new favourite ‘makers’ who is currently benefiting from my new obsession.  The amazing sister/brother duo at Pixel Paper Hearts make pins that speak to my heart and make my mailbox much less a place of torture that is only used to send me bills and junk.

IMGP8946

Now my two sons might not love them as much as I quite literally do the Happy Mail Happy Dance outside the car when I get one of these little packages – but they can settle that in therapy later right!

So what comes inside? This exact package had this beauty in it!

IMGP8970

This speaks to how I feel about the outside world much of the time these days and seems much more socially acceptable to wear it on a cute little pin than to say it out-loud. As you can see from their lovely personalized message that yes this is not the first pin I have ordered from them – it won’t be the last either!

I’m ashamed to admit that I’m usually kind of sour when things I love become super popular but there are so many independent people out there making them and you can find one for just about any interest you may have. Now the obsession is not about finding the perfect pin but also finding out who is making them and has become a really awesome way to support creative folks and their businesses (…at least that’s how I am going justify having so many!)

So can you see yourself getting behind this trend like I am? Do you have pins? Who is your favourite maker? Where do you wear them? Share please!

Barbara