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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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#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!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Barbara

 

 

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

 

 

 

HockeyLife

Yep Goalie Mom is the Worst

Almost daily I come across a discussion in one Facebook group or another about being a goalie parent. How hard it is – where to sit in the area – how to handle a loss – when to get out to the game and go back to being a player. While I’m no expert – I’m sure Carey Price’s parents have a few more tips than I do – I have now spent a few years behind the net and am getting ready to spend more as our second son has decided to torture me more by becoming a goalie this season.

 

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When my son first started playing – just a summer season “to try it out” – and for the first season or more after he started playing rep. hockey I would sit alone in the stands, following him from one end to the other. I would be biting my nails or knitting furiously and trying to block out the comments from parents who were close enough to me that I could hear. I would wiggle and cringe when the puck even neared him – willing it to go the other way.

After a season of not even enjoying his games because I was holding in so much anxious energy I also realized that it’s not likely only me – when he looks over and sees me balled up in a corner hiding he likely can’t focus on what he’s suppose to be doing because he’s worried about what I’m doing!

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Here comes the advice part – make it easy on yourself!

  • It’s hard to hear your kid sucks – but you’re going to hear it and it has NOTHING to do with your kid.
  • Watching your goalie get pulled is heart wrenching – it might be the first time but it won’t be the last.
  • Making yourself part of the team means that the other parents get to know you and it is a lot harder to criticize your goalie’s every move when they know you!
  • Yes there are going to be parents who just don’t get it – yep! Just like we don’t know how frustrating it is to watch your kid take 10 shots and not score once.
  • Get a hobby before games – I often still knit my nerves out before my goalie is in net but once the game is on I’m there to cheer all our boys.
  • Get a hobby during the games – my camera is my way to watch the game and not focus on just my kid and how he is performing.

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Tonight we play in a game being dubbed “The Battle of Brantford” facing off against another Peewee team who we know, some of who we have played with before, and it is the talk of the town. Parents who don’t have kids on either team are talking about the game and how they can’t wait to watch. It’s all the things I hate about hockey, it’s pure competition, extremely contentious and while I wish that I could just not go – my kid is in net. None of the above advice applies to a game where you know the kids, you know the parents, your kid is in net, and no one is going to settle for a loss. This might need a follow-up post to let you know the new advice when I figure it out – for now I’m thinking hide in the corner and try and get out alive.

 

– Barbara