Saturday, April 30, 2011

I moved!

After some fiddling and fudging around I moved to my own domain (and announced a new feature!).

You'll find me there from now on! Onward and Upward!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Gaining and Keeping Creative Momentum

image via weheartit
Silencing my inner critic and moving toward creating is something I have a lot of trouble with. I'll draw something, write or simply have an idea of what I'd like to accomplish, and almost instantly I'm met with negative thoughts. Most of the time it's about whether it'll be good enough or not, whether I'm qualified to attempt something like that, whatever that is.

Making art is a challenge, and more often than not I find myself reading about making art more than actually creating something. Right now the book of choice, the book that has me procrastinating and simultaneously so inspired is The Artist's Way - specifically, the sequel to the Artist's Way, Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. I mentioned a quote of hers in my post about my grand plans to open my etsy shop in the near future. A couple of points she's made so far have really resonated with me - I added my own little notes beside.

  • "Cerebration is the enemy of art" - Thinking is good, overthinking is not. Sometimes you just have to go with an idea, without stopping to ponder the end result. Pull back the bowstring. Shoot the arrow. Don't vacillate and hesitate. Pull back the bowstring, shoot the arrow. Find your idea and execute it. 
  • "We are the 'block' we perceive" - The excuses you make about being unable to create are the reasons you're not creating. Not having a "studio space", not having the right or best materials, these reasons are not what keep you from working. Many a masterpiece of literature has begun on a napkin - many a gorgeous, worthy sketch has been scratched on the back of a receipt with a ballpoint pen. These excuses are the blocks that the fearful, destructive side of yourself put into place to keep you from even picking up the bow, let alone trying to shoot it.
  • "Art is a matter of commitment" - Whatever its form, art is a constant practice, a daily ritual of exhaling - be it a set number of rows on a knitted scarf you set out to complete, three pages of something, anything written out to clear your mind and give you some peace, a new chord progression you've not yet tried, a daily haiku or a batch of cookies - the act of creating with your hands keeps you in line with your artistic purpose. It keeps the juices flowing, so to speak. Few of us, if any, are blessed with an "élair de génie" (stroke of genius) without having chased and caught 'the muse'. Practice, practice, practice. 

Make your goal - develop your sketching style, find your poetic voice, write your book, whatever it may be. Don't think about how it will turn out, throw yourself wholly into making it happen, and commit some time daily to some part of the process. You won't get there if you don't start.

image via weheartit

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bloggy Overhaul

As you can see, I've been having way too much fun lately playing with my layout and decorating around here! I just finished the new header image, the little description to the left, and I even have a little blog button now. It's transparent, so it will work on anyone's background images or colours. If you're interested in linking, let me know, and we can swap buttons!

Next up, I'm going to work on some weekly features (!!!) and new About Me and Links pages! A la prochaine!

I'm listed at Top Baby Blogs (won't be long now until I'll be showing off a little baby instead of just a big bump! Eee!). I'm slowly climbing the ranks in the directory and would love a vote. Thank you!

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why I Love Knitting

Knitting. It seems to have made something of a comeback in recent years. We're no longer required to knit our clothes or go without, it's now a leisurely pass-time enjoyed by millions. Luxury commercial yarns made from interesting man-made fibres have flooded the market and new tools are coming out all the time.

Still, it's essentially the same as it has always been. Fibres, needles, and the same two stitches - knit and purl.

image via flickr
I love knitting history. It feels so good to be able to do something that’s so tied to the past it’s hardly changed over centuries in spite of all our modern technology. Gets me all giddy and excited - as someone who often feels like I have no roots, no origin, that is why I love knitting.

image via pinterest
I want to learn everything about knitting and spinning history. I'm fascinated by the dyes extracted from native plants and how the colours translated a garment through the traditional stitch patterns into functional, beautiful works of art. I'm so in love with the idea that a simple pair of mittens could be so meticulous and gorgeous and yet be just what the recipient needs to keep warm while doing the most mundane of tasks. I love that despite having so little in the way of material goods, such care was taken to bring beauty into the every day.

My mother first taught me to knit when I was around 11 years old. A pair of red plastic needles and a big ball of navy blue acrylic were my first tools. Mom knew a rudimentary cast-on and the knit stitch, and I set to work "making stitches" and knitting. I cast on as many stitches as I could fit on the length of the needle and knit what seemed like miles of yarn. Mom didn't know how to "take the yarn off the needles without it unraveling", but it didn't matter much to me. After knitting the entire skein, I scooched the stitches off the end of the needle, unraveled everything and began all over again. At 16, I picked up a book from the library, and taught myself. I devoured the basics and have not looked back.

Knitting with real wool for the first time was the most fabulous feeling. I instantly felt connected, like I was a part of something - a long line of people who, for the length of the yarn they were using, experienced time slow down and really felt the gorgeous drape, the strength and warmth of making something with their hands.

Learning to spin was another, more intense experience for me. Going to Olds College and taking the Master Spinner's classes added an extra layer to my love of the fibre arts. To actually put your energy into twisting fibres into useful, beautiful yarn gives you a new appreciation for the craft. Sitting and spinning surrounded by others who loved and understood it the way I did fed my heart, so to speak.

image via pinterest

So often handmade items go under appreciated. You can buy a sweater at Walmart for seven dollars, so why take fifty hours to make one? Socks come in packs of twenty, why bother learning to turn a heel?

My answer? Because there's joy to be found in it. To engage the mind and hands, to take the time while everyone around you extols the virtues of the instant and the disposable gives you pride. How many things in your life can you point to and say "Hey, I made that."?

Friday, April 22, 2011

33 Week Update! Happy Earth Day!

33 weeks 33 weeks

33 weeks complete! Little Miss is head down, having loads of fun kicking my right rib over, and over, and over again. I'm tired, but feeling really good emotionally, over all. It's almost as if the more real this becomes, to me, the less unknowns there are for me to fret about and the more I can relax. I can't wait until it's time! My belly has grown a lot in the last two or three weeks, and my poor belly button is totally flat now. I can't see my feet anymore, and Alex, bless him, helps me put on my shoes with laces when we head out. Leaning forward while sitting, when most of my belly is already touching my lap only forces little heels further into my ribcage - ouch!

Prenatal class has run its course and I'm kind of sad about it. The last five weekly classes have been eye-opening, and brought to the table a lot of issues Mister and I hadn't yet discussed. It really helped us feel prepared, even if some topics such as natural birth and medical interventions were things that we already had a decent grasp of. By the end of our last class, we were basically ready to 'get this show on the road'! 

I'm still making things for baby, most recently I cut a piece of fabric to size for a wrap-style carrier Alex modeled on his fabulous, brand spankin' new daddying/art blog - King Corvid. Go check him out! When we first started dating he was quite fond of street art, stencils and the like, and I'm so glad he's resurrected his interest in it again - everyone needs a creative outlet and he's been without one for too long, I think! I'm super proud. Smattered with Daddyish musings and a few gaming reviews, to be sure, he's off to a great start.

image via weheartit

HAPPY EARTH DAY, by the way! As a kid I loved Earth Day. We'd always do something fun like plant beans, or visit nature centres in various parks on Earth Day. Planting seeds in paper cups was my always favourite project in school (until Middle School, when we put together self-sustaining aquarium environments with guppies and aquatic plants - that was the best!). It's still a little early and a little cold here to be gardening, but I'm going to get on it very soon. My little plot in the backyard is set to be turned up and after last year, I have a little better idea of what I can plant that will thrive. It looks as though our average date of final frost is May 22nd, so I'll be careful to keep delicate plants inside until then. 

Can I just say again how excited I am about everything?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Baking flans and making plans!

I didn't really know what a flan was until I googled it, but I knew it is baked and it rhymes better than the word muffin.

In reality, I'm baking oatmeal-flaxseed-chocolate chip muffins and sort of tentatively making plans.

I have a big project in the works.

I'm shaking and squealing a little as I type this.

-Albert Camus
image via weheartit

After a good long pep-talk in the truck from my handsome mister, with lots of you-can-do-its, and nothing-ventured-nothing-gaineds, I'm finally going for it. I'm going to start planning the concrete steps to open my etsy shop. It has been my dream for years to dye fibres and yarns with plant-based dyes to put up for sale and we finally have the space and I have the time to at least set this in motion. Logistically, this idea is still in its infancy but I have the drive and the support to finally tackle this. I have a spacious kitchen all to myself and a generous concrete courtyard perfect for setting out skeins for drying in the sunshine. I have a passion for picking and choosing colours that come straight from nature, and I truly love being so immersed and hands-on with my craft.

I'm going into this with the attitude that this is an creative outlet for me that I can fully throw myself into. I want to hone my techniques and make beautiful things that inspire others.

I've always been of the belief that anyone can learn to do just about anything. I've often tried to apply that kind of thinking to my own life when faced with a new 'thing' I've wanted to tackle. As of late, though, that attitude has simply fallen away, and been replaced by uncertainty, self-censorship and criticism, and a general lack of confidence. How can I do this? What makes me think that I can just start up and compete with this or that? What makes what I do worthwhile? You're either on the bus, or off the bus - and I've so been off the bus. Frankly, I've felt completely blocked. The following quote, from the Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, has been floating around in my head.

"The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist.
The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all."

I'm learning to move beyond that takes courage. It takes some bravery to turn off the booming negative voice that says NOT GOOD ENOUGH and tune into the tiny, soft voice whispering excitedly hey, look what i can do. 

image via weheartit

Much of what Alex was saying made so much sense to me. I've heard it all before, but maybe today was just the right time to hear it again, as if for the first time -

Whatever it is, people do it, and therefore it is possible. Everyone starts somewhere. 

I feel like I'm finally able to follow my dreams. My baby, who I've waited so long for, is coming and I'll be holding her so soon. I'm blessed with the wonderful opportunity to stay home with her and be just what she needs. I have so much love in my life, and so much to be thankful for. I'm so excited to have found my passion and to have the encouragement I need through my own small circle to really get this off the ground. 

Soon I'll be doing just what I've wanted to be doing - caring for my baby, and making art for others. 

Oh, my heart...

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Perfect Morning

IMG_1296 by Goldfinch&Anchor
Monday Muffins, a photo by Goldfinch&Anchor on Flickr.
Vegan Blueberry-Banana Muffins Alex and I made fresh yesterday, raspberry leaf tea and a cozy blanket on the needles for my sweet.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Playing Catch-Up

I've been away from the blog for a while, I've got to catch up! Let's see..

I made the most delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies (which tasted exactly no different from regular ol' chocolate chip:

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've officially gained about twenty pounds now, up to 148lbs , and while I'm a little bit slower, I feel good. No major complaints here! I fell off my yoga kick a bit (shame, shame on me) but tonight, oh tonight, it is ON. The DVD I'm using is Prenatal Yoga with Shiva Rea, and I definitely recommend it.

Everything for Baby Gaga has been purchased online and is on its way, or is going to be purchased in the next couple of weeks. I'm spending lots of time these last couple days washing all the cute things and folding them up nice daydreaming of when the little one kicking my insides is going to be wearing them.

I'm knitting a baby blanket! I needed a change from knitting soakers over and over, so I found a leafy stitch pattern online, and did a little math to give me a width of about 32" with a border of seed stitch. I'm knitting in Handmaiden Ottawa, a 92% wool, 8% viscose blend from my stash. I've had the yarn for a couple years now and I just couldn't find a project worthy of it until now!


Annabelle's nursery is almost ready. My craft supplies are all packed up downstairs, her dresser and change station are set up and the piano is moved to the other side of the room. It's so hard to go through my yarn and craft stuff without feeling like making ALL THE THINGS and spending way too much time daydreaming about the day I'll knit this, or sew that.

This weekend is the huge baby sale on base where I may score a few extra receiving blankets, some cute clothes and other lovelies. Apparently it's a total gongshow, with over twenty grand in sales in the first four hours according to our prenatal instructor. We're going to show up really early and I'm going to wear football shoulder-pads so everyone knows I mean business. 

I am a thrifting professional, you better believe it. Last week Alex and I found a stroller, practically brand-new for $10. I'm so glad, too, because spending so little on it will keep me from feeling too badly if I don't use it very much. At least it'll be an option for me when I get back into running, and it'll be good to have when Annabelle is a little older and wearing her while on errands is less practical.

I've got the sewing bug lately! I sewed Alex a cover for Lucy's tank and now I want to find patterns for Moby and meitai carriers and I want to sew myself a big comfy maxi-dress - the perfect comfy thing for my current roundness, feminine and pretty enough to wear after the birth. Something like this, but with a higher waist:

Perfect for twirling!

Next week is our last prenatal class, and then.. we wait! While I'm in a hurry to bond with my little baby, I know that this time spent with Alex is something we'll never have again, so baby, you stay in there for as long as you need. :)

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Great success!

Bird Feeder
Bird Feeder by Goldfinch&Anchor
Bird Feeder, a photo by Goldfinch&Anchor on Flickr.
I call this a win! A chickadee and a random little red twitterbird took turns feeding from the little holes in the milk jug feeder. Even some magpies are interested now!

Edit to add:
I have been dutifully informed that our red feathered visitor is a male house finch. Thank you Katelyn!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Adventures in tie-dye and bird-luring.

We recently bought a three-pack of basic plain white cotton Gerber t-shirts. Yawn.
I took it upon myself to try and dye them, and while looking for inspiration, I came across a bunch of tie-dyed onesies that were absolutely adorable! I had to make some. I'd never done tie-dye before, but apparently Alex had, so we set to work using hair elastics to bunch up the shirts and I mixed up some Jacquard dye. He was a pro! Here's how they turned out:




The last pink one has really subtle vertical stripes, and I added a little yellow to the pot at the end to give parts of it an ombre effect. We had so much fun that I went hunting around the house for other things to dye.. someone should get me checked out - I see nothing wrong with tiedyeing anything that isn't nailed down!

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of our togetherness. I think back to where we were when we first started dating, me with my frizzy red dye-job, big sunglasses and army surplus jacket, Alex with his cocky attitude and too much gel in his hair. I remember countless dates where we'd buy a bag of fortune cookies for $2 and sit on the Johnson St. bridge downtown and dream of all the things we'd do. We've come a long way, he and I, and this is only the beginning.


To commemorate the occasion, we made tofu jerky and did *~*~ARTSNCRAFTS~*~* which consisted of us fashioning a bird feeder out of a milk-jug. I have been trying to photograph the elusive blue-jays that perch on the tree near our living room window for weeks, going so far as to set up my camera with the manual focus  poised and ready should one come by but I am never. fast enough. So yes, this is a bird feeder, but it's also something of.. a trap.

I mean.. we love birds and want to make sure they're fed through the winter! That's why we had the forethought to make the bird feeder while there is still a tiny miniscule amount of snow on the ground (which will probably be melted in a week)!! Nevermind!

I take full credit for being the mastermind behind the tin-foil plate base, held on by the milk-jug lid. Thank you, thank you. We were so excited about filling it and hanging it up we were practically skipping through Walmart (as well as this pregchubbo can skip) and spent far too much time debating the merits between the chunkier parrot-type feed and regular wild bird feed vs. "just throwing some candied peanuts in there, hey! it's protein and sugar!".

Bird Feeder

Birds hate it, even with STRATEGIC!PEANUTBUTTER™ 

Worth it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

30 week update

30 weeks!

30 weeks!

Ten more weeks and I'll be holding my baby girl! Ten more weeks and Mama will become my role - the most important and greatest I'll ever play. I'm so excited, so happy and just a big jumble of nerves. Every day I'm preoccupied with making sure she has what she needs - from whether I've taken my vitamin to if we'll have enough of this or that, which toy she'd like me to knit for her the most, or if she has enough handknits yet at all (the answer is never yes :P). Over the next week or so Alex and I will be packing our hospital bag with overnight things and various comforts to help me through the pain just in case we have to leave at a moment's notice. 

This week with the prenatal class we're taking a tour of the hospital so hopefully that will put my mind at ease a bit as to where we go when I decide to show up and have this baby. I'm sincerely hoping that if I do go into labour Alex is home and is around to take me in if I have to go to the hospital, because he's up to an hour away at any given time while at work. Hopefully it all starts relatively slowly to give us some warning and a chance for me to chill out at home during the early stages. 

The snow is melting really quickly, everything seems to be thawing in this new warmer weather and spring is on its way, thank goodness. It feels so nice to not have every muscle in your body tense up every time you leave the house because of the cold. I'm so excited winter is over!

This just in - I finally got around to listing my blog!
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Friday, April 1, 2011

To informed choices and new beginnings!

I've been a lazy vegetarian for years. Most of the meals I cook for myself and my family have been meatless, or near-vegan and I've been toying with the idea of taking the plunge and going full-on vegan. For a long time I've been on the fence, I love the taste of cheese, the odd greasy burger successfully lured me in, but no longer.

While looking up vegan resources to help myself along, I came upon a documentary called Earthlings.

WARNING - Do not stream even the trailer with children around. I didn't bother watching the trailer, I'm a documentary junkie and just started streaming it for free from the website. I didn't know what I was getting into at all.

For the length of the film I couldn't look away. It was the most graphic, moving, honest, depiction of animal cruelty I've ever witnessed in my life - and what's worse is that the footage shown was not of isolated cases, but of the common, industry standard practices of slaughterhouses, factory operations, circuses, fur farms and research facilities.

I personally can participate no longer. I recommend everyone watch it, if only to educate yourselves about exactly what goes on behind the closed doors to bring meat to your table, leather to your shoes and jackets. In an age where we are so far removed from the sources of our food, I believe that films like this, that expose each industry and bring it around to be accountable to the public do us a great service, and I believe that we all owe it to ourselves to really know and understand completely what it is we are fueling our bodies with. I believe we should be aware of where our money is going, what we personally are funding and even condoning with our dollars. To be less than understanding of this is to do ourselves a great disservice, and is freely giving our power away as consumers to those who are more than willing to speak for us, those who do not have the world's best interests at heart.

This film has completely, irrevocably changed the way I view the world, animals, food and big business and for that I am grateful it exists.

To informed choices and new beginnings!
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