sonagirl

I haven’t blogged in well over a month and I haven’t made anything remotely crafty in well over two. At the moment, my whole life is composed of dipe-dipes (diapers) and chub-chubs (Sona) and fat-fat (Luka) and coming up with stupid words for things, and sometimes frantically making and eating cookies.

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I had done so much intensive research about labour and birth and somehow didn’t really read much about the actual business of, you know, being entirely responsible for the life of a small human being. But really, even if I had, there’s no way I would have been able to comprehend how completely all-consuming it is. I feel like I’m just starting to emerge from the sleep-deprived haze of the last ten weeks, and finally beginning to understand and accept how drastically life has changed.

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To be completely honest, there are times when I really mourn my old carefree life. I’d always heard people say that raising kids was the hardest work they’d ever done, and I’d kind of dismiss it, or not even really think about what they meant, but now I can say with all certainty that there is no truer statement. She’s only ten weeks old and I already feel like I’ve been tested in so many ways. There have been nights that ended up with all three of us crying simultaneously, while the poor dog slips away to his bed and probably curses his woeful situation. There have been moments when I felt like my heart was breaking wide open, and I can feel myself resisting that, because it is so scary to feel that vulnerable and I know I have so much at stake now. There have been days when I’ve just thought, “Man, this is really, really boring” and wished for time to go faster, and then immediately felt guilty because everyone says to just enjoy it now because it does all go so fast and I know I’ll look back on this intense period of my life and wish I had been more present.

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I know that we are actually blessed with a very easy baby, for the most part. She’s not always a great sleeper (neither is her dad), but over the past few weeks we’ve all been working really hard at it. I am the kind of idiot who has literally fallen asleep on the back of a motorcycle while speeding over pothole-strewn roads in Vietnam, so it is hard for me to relate to this. I just close my eyes and sleep, easy-peasy, no big deal.

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She’s really started to smile and laugh and coo and respond to us in the last couple of weeks, and that makes all the difference in the world. For example, I no longer believe that she solely thinks of me as a giant floating boob! The other night I was nursing her at 3 a.m., underneath her tree, and she looked up at me and broke into a huge grin, and I was so happy I thought I would burst. I am self-aware enough to recognize the complete cheesiness of that statement, but I swear it’s true.

sonasmile

Luka is mostly indifferent towards her, though he does give her a sniff and/or lick every once in a while. He’s just such a giant baby himself that I don’t think he’s capable of being especially protective or fond of her. She’s sleeping in her own room now, though, which probably helps. He does push her door open when she’s sleeping and he’s making his rounds of the house, determining that we’re all where we’re supposed to be. That might be as good as it gets with him, though.

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I’ve been making a list of all the things we’ve been eating and reading, and I’ll post that next time. I’m starting to feel like myself again, slowly but surely, though definitely a different version of myself — one who sleeps half as much, does laundry three times as often, and loves infinitely more.

sonadad

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I had meant to update during Christmas, show off pictures of our (very miniscule amounts of) decorations, our little tree, etc., but December got away from me in a rather lovely way. This year, for the first time in ages (maybe ever?) I truly felt relaxed, not stressed about gifts, not overwhelmed by malls and awful music, and crazy consumerism. Mostly that’s because we ordered a lot of gifts online, drew names within Mark’s extended family, and just chilled the eff out. The baby was a good distraction because I didn’t have the energy to do a lot of shopping, and anyway, we’re both trying very hard to slow down and be in the moment. I feel like my new year really began at that mindfulness class we took in November.

The first weekend of December, I whisked Mark away to nearby Salt Spring Island, one of our favourite places and a short 35-minute ferry ride from home. I had been wanting to do something nice for him for many reasons, but mostly because he has been a rockstar these past few months. There have been many times when I’ve felt him holding me together, and though that sounds gross and co-dependent, all I mean is that he has been a true partner in every sense of the word. I am so happy to be married to him, and I see how hard he tries all the time, and how he sneaks into the baby’s room to sit in the glider, how he talks to her every day and suggested we learn “Two of Us” on the mandoline and guitar so she could hear it in utero and then maybe recognize it out here in the real world, how he is always the first one at a dinner party washing dishes, and how all children flock to him because they can sense his genuine radness. I love him, yes, but I just also like him so much. I wanted to say thank you in some small miniscule way, so I booked a room at a beautiful, tucked-away bed and breakfast. We had such a relaxing time, and just wandered around the town, went to a Christmas craft fair, contemplated attending the chili cookoff and Raffi concert (!!!) but decided against it, enjoyed the soaker tub in our room and ate schnitzel. Weird and wonderful. We also visited the ridiculously amazing headquarters of the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, where we met a little friend and bought a few snacks.

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Also in December:

Luka slept. A lot.

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My grandmother called from India with a list of girls names for us (I can’t read my writing on a lot of these):

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I bought more fabric and started making baby things like a crazy person. More on that in an upcoming post, but I made several of these super adorable and very easy owls. These things came together incredibly fast and were very satisfying to make.

stuffedowls

fabric

I made and drank a lot of hot chocolate. I use this recipe but usually add some cinnamon, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Don’t skip the immersion blender step — it seems fussy but transforms the texture of the milk into pure velvety goodness.

hotchocolate

We rang in the new year with two of our best friends, a dog that had made his way up to bed several hours earlier, and four and a half pounds of Pok Pok chicken wings. I stayed up until almost two, which is almost unheard of for me even when not pregnant. I woke up the next morning to the smells of the best breakfast ever, and in fact I may already have peaked in terms of breakfasts for 2014. Thank you H & A.

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2013 was a very good year in many respects, especially from June on, but I have a sneaking suspicion that 2014 will be even better.

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Quiet November days, and I’m so glad life has slowed down a little bit. We had an impressive number of visitors this fall, and all of them were so easy to entertain; the kind of friends to whom you can abruptly announce that you’re taking a nap and then pass out for three hours in the middle of the afternoon, knowing that they’ll be just fine.

Our friends Megan and Kristopher came out for a few days, and seeing them was great and all, but they brought their golden retriever Molly (named after a fellow redhead) and I basically exploded. Witness this ridiculous kitchen floor cuddle puddle:

cuddlepuddle

Luka and Molly got along just fine, but neither of them showed too much interest in the other. I think Luka’s more of a guy-dog dog. And a guy dog. Sorry, did I say “guy”? I meant to type “gay”. Luka is clearly a gay dog.

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Here is what happens when you slather two dogs’ noses in peanut butter and then take out your camera:

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In the evenings we would all pile onto the couch for cocktails (everyone else), mocktails (me, ugh), and dog love. Look at these handsome gentlemen and their furry companions! By the way, I fully realize I have now become the biggest, stupidest idiot posting pictures of my dog every time I blog, but wouldn’t you rather see that than pictures of my meals? No? Okay then.

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Speaking of meals, we made a dutch baby for breakfast the other morning, which, aside from being a really unsettling name for a dish, is basically just a glorified excuse to eat Yorkshire pudding for breakfast. Which I am obviously totally fine with.

dutchbaby

I bought a new chair for my studio and I’ve been spending long hours in there getting a bunch of new things ready for my shop. I have so much intimidation and lack of confidence and fear surrounding it. Does anyone else wonder if they’re constantly doing things the “correct” way? I sometimes feel like Mark is my sounding board for everything, and though that can be helpful at times, I know it’s not always super healthy. I probably need to be okay with making more mistakes, but I feel somewhat paralyzed at the thought of that. I guess I’d better figure this out in the next three months before I have to teach someone else how to be confident.

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Mark and I took a day-long class on everyday mindfulness last weekend. We signed up at the last minute, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to wake up and go to the class when the time came. It ended up being such a wise decision, though. Despite a few hippy-dippy-ish moments (like another student who “namaste”-d us all at the end, UGH), it really reset something inside me. I hadn’t realized how competitive and irritable I’ve been feeling lately, and how overwhelmed I’ve been by the need for constant stimulation. I know this is a byproduct of our society, and that in some ways I’m better than other people, but still I’ve been backsliding into the the distraction abyss . Mark and I have been talking a lot lately about how we want to be present for our kid. I would prefer if she didn’t know the words “Instagram” or “Twitter” for at least a few years, and though I know she’ll be exposed to it everywhere we go in the world, I also want her to feel like she’s more important than our phones or iPads or Kindles or whatever. We both came home and quit Instagram, and then I went to dinner with girlfriends, and then we went to a birthday party for our friend Alex, and our daughter kicked me in the junk the whole time, and that was better than any number of “likes” on some shittily-filtered photo.

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(Back soon with store updates and a list of delicious recipes).

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Oh hai blog! I vaguely remember you. I got so distracted by road trips and choir and baby things and visits from friends. September and the first half of October have kind of gone by in a huge blur, to be honest. I hope time keeps moving this swiftly until the end of February, because it feels like an eternity away from now.

We drove out to Shuswap Lake (fun fact: I was conceived there!) towards the end of September and met up with some very dear friends. Our friend Jeremy’s family owns the most beautiful cabin on Little Shuswap lake — calling it a cabin is actually ridiculous; it’s a newly-built, five-bedroom house — and we met up with five of our closest friends there.

 

We spent two blissful days doing pretty much nothing. Two of us were pregnant and needed frequent naps. We watched my favourite movie, made and ate delicious food, sat out on the deck, some of us kayaked, I read Archie comics. We even had a pie-tasting competition. Shuswap Pie Company blew the other pies out of the water. We had the chance to visit their restaurant as well and OH MY GOD BUTTERMILK LEMON PIE. We bought two frozen pies to take home and I’m almost scared to actually eat them because then they’ll be gone.

We then made a very hasty trip out to Calgary to pick up some of my childhood belongings, like the most beautiful smocked dresses that warrant their own post, and a set of 1950s china that travelled from Singapore to India to Calgary to Victoria in order to be used for the first time. We put it to good use at Thanksgiving and it made me so happy.

The day after getting back, two of my closest girlfriends from high school came out for the weekend. It was great to see them and all but the real star was one Brooklyn Marie, six months old and practically edible. Mark and I basically fought to hold her all weekend.

Luka wasn’t really that into her, but we figured it was good practice for next year.

So much to say and show you and write about. We’re heading down the Oregon coast this week for our last baby-free holiday. Life is changing, but I like it.

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A whole month went by! Look at that. Truth is, I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather and haven’t had much creative productivity. This in turn makes me feel very guilty, which leads to avoidance-napping, so it’s all a bit of a vicious cycle. I talked to Mark about it today and we came up with a plan that feels manageable. I am also starting to suspect that 90% of success is faking it until you make it, something I am AWFUL at. This TED talk is something I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

My best friend and all her bridesmaids came out here this past weekend for a pre-wedding canning party. We made three recipes from this amazing cookbook: strawberry preserves, raspberry preserves, and pickled garlic scapes. I had a minor hissy fit halfway through the weekend when I realized that maybe I HATE CANNING, but we all took turns and it came out okay. We played badminton and went to bed early and ate Thai food. Mark went camping up island, so Luka missed him but also revelled in the attention he got from five ladies — though you’d think from his reaction upon Mark’s return that Mark had been gone for two years rather than two days.

Speaking of Luka, I really can’t get enough of this dumb dog lately.

He’s just such a sweet idiot, and his farts are so horrifically awful, and I love him so much. It’s very confusing.

I guess all this post said was that I’m now a crazy dog lady. I think I’m cool with that.

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Not much to share with you but some pictures. I have been woefully lacking creative inspiration lately, and I’m just trying to roll with it. I went to Austin for my best friend’s bachelorette and ate a LOT of brisket, and the most magnificent BBQ I’ve ever had at Franklin (where we waited for two and a half hours, but shit, it was worth it). I turned 29 and watched some Arrested Development (not putting all my thoughts out there yet, but…kinda disappointing). I started riding my bike again, though I’m pretty sure I’m the worst cyclist in the world. I started banjo lessons, and all I do is play “Cripple Creek” over and over and over, slowly and painstakingly. We leave for Ireland tomorrow, and though we’re really really unprepared, we have passports and clean underwear, so we’ll just wing it. Looking forward to driving around a beautiful country with my sweet guy.

(Though I’ll miss this big sweet dummy a whole lot).

sleepingdog

My friend Nicole came for a visit and Luka fell ass-over-teakettle in love with her, even though she’s making fun of his eternally sad face here.

Mark made me this ribbon/washi tape holder, ’cause he’s the best. Even though he always makes the bed incorrectly by putting the flat sheet face-down. Not that I’m keeping track.

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The only bit of sewing I’ve actually managed to get done lately is completing this chevron quilt for a friend’s baby girl who was born in April. I had the top completed but somehow quilting it seemed like such a BIG DEAL. In actuality, it took about an hour and then I got to hand-sew the binding which is always my favourite part of making a quilt. Probably because I can watch TV while doing it. I’m rewatching Game of Thrones right now, and reading the books at the same time. Mark and I have this new thing where we mutter “YEH KNEH NOERTHING, JEHHHN SNOERRWW” at each other, sometimes during a movie, sometimes in the form of a text message, and then we laugh and laugh like a pair of idiots. This has nothing to do with the quilt.

Back in a few weeks with maybe something more insightful than all the garbage I just wrote, but, er, probably not.

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blueteacup

Hey, remember that time I had a blog and I updated it and stuff? Yeah, that time.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve written the words “life has been crazy” on my blog, I’d have, like, six dollars. But seriously, I don’t even know what’s happening most of the time. Mostly it’s been choir — last week I sang for 22.5 hours. We had our spring performance last night and although it wasn’t perfect, there was a moment near the end when I relaxed enough to hear what we were making with our voices and a little bolt of electricity shot through me. My hands unfurled and it was magic. We still have a few things coming up but all the super intensive choir stuff is over for the year.

In other news, Luka and I went on a walk. I was wearing stripes, polka dots, AND plaid. Go ahead and inscribe “FASHION MAVERICK” on my grave.

crazyfashion

Lately it feels like my walks with Luka are the only chance I have to be completely free of external distractions. Actually, never mind the external distractions — sometimes it feels like my mind just won’t shut up. I am working on this. I quit Twitter, because I have a slightly obsessive personality and can’t bear to feel like I’ve missed something — it’s either all or nothing for me and it was just too much chatter. Walks with Luka are my new Twitter.

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I keep thinking about where I am this year compared to last year at this time. We were in Berlin, and I was deeply unhappy. All I did was fret about what we were doing, and how I was starting to hate it, and how guilty I felt for that. All I wanted was a home, to sleep in the same bed every night, to go for a walk in the woods I knew. I’m trying to remember that feeling these days, when I get the urge to run away from the responsibilities and irritants of everyday life. This is what I wanted, and I am so grateful for it. I’m trying to be like Luka, who spends his days moving from one patch of sunlit floor to another. He finds the light, no matter where it is. That’s my new philosophy.

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lukalight1

Back soon with a free embroidery pattern that involves glittery gold thread! Oh yes.

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I LIVED!!!! To celebrate, here is a GIGANTIC picture of me shortly before my rarely-discussed first wedding. It was the ’80s, so I was wearing a lot of eye makeup.

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I have turned the corner on my terrible case of consumption, though not before having a full on breakdown in the car and sobbing to Mark about how, and I quote myself directly here, “I’m just SO NICE!”. He was pretty good about it, but later that evening very gently said, “I really hope you get better soon”, and I know it wasn’t because he was worried about my cough.

Ahem. Anyway, things are looking up! It’s supposed to be 22 degrees here on Easter Sunday, and I am once again reminded of why I moved away from horrible snowy Calgary to this hippie paradise.

We did make it over to Vancouver. We had originally wanted to go to Vij’s (I’ve been wanting to for years because LAMB POPSICLES), but I refused to go when I couldn’t taste properly. Instead we did a lot of beer drinking, mostly at the fantastic Alibi Room, where we went two days in a row for their stellar beer selection and ridiculously good chicken wings. I also had a flight of whiskey at The Irish Heather, because we’re going to Ireland in June and, like any possible future librarian, I take research very seriously.

The highlight of the trip was seeing the amazing Josh Ritter. This is now the fifth time I’ve seen him live, and he just gets better and better. I love this dude so much that it’s slightly obscene. I once wrote him an absolutely wacko letter and sent him a really ugly green scarf, and he was nothing but gracious in return. Also, the second Christmas we were dating, I told Mark that what I really wanted was a pocket-sized Josh Ritter I could carry around in my pocket. I sent him this incredible picture to illustrate what I meant:

fantasy

When we exchanged gifts, he gave me a stainless steel flask engraved with the classic phrase, “I’ve made a huge mistake”, and this adorable 5-inch-tall figurine. I pretty much had to marry him after that.

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Anyway, Mr. Ritter was his usual joyful self. If you’ve seen him perform, you’ll know what I mean when I say that his smile could power a train. He is so unabashedly grateful and happy about what he gets to do for a living, and it’s basically the most endearing thing to see. Aside from this, obviously:

lukascarf

We also made it to Finch’s, the most adorable little coffee shop. Its tweeness can be a bit suffocating at times, and it’s run by a bunch of hipsters, so it’s not the most efficient place (they forgot my second boiled egg not once but twice!), but the masala chai is amazing (and I’ve had my fair share of chai since I receive at least one or two packets of tea as gifts each year for some reason, and also I’ve had it on the roadside in India), and no one can more artfully arrange an avocado. NO ONE, I say.

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After Vancouver, I took a very short road trip to Seattle with my best friend and a car full of bridesmaids, where we hit up bridal stores, ate a lot of serious pie, and I accidentally bought an $8 chocolate bar filled with crumbled potato chips. Totally worth it, obviously.

Back to reality now and that includes a bunch of recipes I want to share, and also a free embroidery pattern coming soon! Here are a couple more pictures of my buddy for you (no judgment on the bra picture, he was feeling self conscious about lack of exercise).

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Guys, I’m pretty sure I have consumption. I know that’s super old-timey, but I’ve looked up a lot of the symptoms and I’m like 99% sure I have it. Been feeling sick for the last few weeks, and it sort of waxes and wanes, but Monday night I went to bed with a killer sore throat and since then, I’ve just been a disgusting mess. I went to the doctor yesterday and he was all, “No, no, it’s just a viral infection” but I think he was witholding the truth from me. I’ll try to be brave and saintly like Beth in Little Women, but given my admitted history of sick behaviour, I’ll probably act more like this.

I feel so much guilt about being sick, probably because I was once sent to school with pneumonia (sorry, mom, you know it’s true), and also because I hate missing out on things. I’ve missed two weeks of choir in a row and feel super stressed about that. We’re supposed to go to Vancouver tomorrow to see my boyfriend play, but I don’t know. I kind of just want to sleep for a week and see if that fixes stuff.

Given my terrible vintage disease, not much has happened in the past week, but I did put socks on Luka.

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And I also baked a bourbon chocolate pecan pie for Mark’s cousin Lisa. She loooooves this pie so much that it makes me laugh. I use this recipe, add a couple squares of semi-sweet chocolate and also a healthy splash of spiced rum or bourbon, because why wouldn’t you? I also usually use a cheater crust since it’s all about the filling with this one.

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If I don’t succumb to my terrible disease, I’ll be back soon with more recipe stuff (including an amazing French lentil salad recipe from Mark) and new embroidery. If I DO succumb, please make sure James Brown is played at my funeral. I am not even a tiny bit kidding.

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…of things that, without fail, make me cry.

  1. The last three minutes of the Freaks and Geeks finale — that entire Grateful Dead song, Lindsay telling her mom, “I love you” at the bus depot, and then everything that follows (I won’t spoil it, because if you haven’t seen it you should drop everything and watch the entire series RIGHT NOW). Perfection.
  2. The last paragraph of this chapter of one of my favourite books, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. More poignant if you’ve read the book and know the context of the relationship, but still such beautiful writing on its own.
  3. The dedication from the seventh and final Harry Potter novel. I don’t know what it is about this, but I completely lose my shit every single time I read it. One time Heidi and I were sitting in a restaurant talking about it and we both started weeping. Coming-of-age stories always slay me; the series finale of The Wonder Years evokes the exact same hysterics.

…of recipes I could make and eat daily:

  1. This coconut lentil soup. We always, and I mean ALWAYS, have some in the freezer. We’re making it tonight! It is a culinary miracle. Although raisins are obviously the devil’s turds tears so we leave those out.
  2. Mushroom bourgignon from Smitten Kitchen. Deb (I like to imagine we’re on a first name basis) is my cooking guru and I have never once been led astray by her. She also has the cutest baby I’ve ever seen.
  3. Last but not least, this ridiculously dense, rich chocolate cake, something I love so much that I made 10 of them and served them at our wedding (totally copying Molly). We received so many compliments on it and I make one every year on our anniversary.

…of things that make me laugh like an idiot:

  1. Bizkit the Sleepwalking Dog. I just…I can’t even. It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen.
  2. Our friends Eve and Justin have a five-year-old son named Oliver who is basically the coolest, funniest kid ever. A couple of years ago, I was over at their house for a visit, and Oliver looked up from playing and asked me, “Umm…do you have legs?” I answered in the affirmative, and then he said, “Yeah, my grandma and grandpa have legs too. Legs are AWESOME.” I would like to give birth to a child exactly like this.
  3. This whole piece on the perils of drinking. Vintage Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. Yum.

…of my top three favourite pictures of Luka with stuff on his head:

1.

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2.

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3.

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