Monday, February 28, 2011

How to Throw A UFO Space Cowboy Alien Party... Kinda

Note to self: 5pm on a Sunday that played host to a boy's fourth birthday is not the time to discover that you are out of pain killers.

Yes. Party. Yes. Headache. But not till well after everyone was gone. It's funny how your body knows to put things like a migraine on hold when your house is overrun with four 4 year olds, two 5 years, three 7/8 year olds and their parents, your parents, their dad's mother, and aunts and uncles. In my family, you smell cake and your instincts guide you.  Zero complaints. It was a blast! No really, I am not making that up... completely randomly put together and as my eldest says "this is the BEST birthday I have ever had!". Just wait till his birthday. Thank goodness I have a few months for that yet!

Rowan (who is seven) was more excited about planning this shindig than anyone. He comes up with such brilliant ideas, and if we had a mansion, a dozen minions and a pot of gold, he could throw a brilliant soiree. He was content to be in charge of making the invitations however.

The body opens to reveal the info...
This past couple of weeks, the toughest part of getting ready for the party was getting the birthday boy on side! First the only person he wanted to invite was a twelve year old girl who is in his brother's play. She plays the evil Queen, and somehow that seems a foreboding indication of the years ahead. We went and invited children anyway. Which I think was a good idea. The next issue was that he wanted to have a Space Cowboy party, but he also wanted the whole thing to be pink, orange and purple. He is very set on that colour combo. We went through site after site on the computer looking for space decor (not much out there that isn't NASA) and while this was a PERFECT opportunity for me to get creative, we were pretty much nil on funds and time... so I was stifled. Nothing at all got his attention. Except bunting! The only thing he got the least bit excited about was orange bunting. For a Space Cowboy party. Hmmm...

Well, the one thing that I (and my inner Martha) have learned to live with (her not so much, but she is working on it) is that sometimes the only thing you can do is listen to the little anklebiter. While I work very hard at making most things far more complicated than they need to be, often I have found that the kids are just happy to have had you listen to them. So bunting was made.

You know what? I love it. Don't look closely, it is the fastest bunting ever sewn together and it's a mess...

...but I love how happy it makes the living room look :) (Also don't look at the lamp... I hate it, it came with the house and hasn't been replaced yet...)

The only other thing that Liam specified was a purple UFO Birthday Cake... with eyeballs. Of course...

Grandma Berta to the rescue...
 So we ordered one from the Unidentified Food Organization.

And Auntie Ingy :)

 Ha ha. Just kidding, the cake was made by my family (group effort) and was the hit of the party... My mother phoned to tell me that she had discovered fondant and was going to try to cover the cake in that. (Snigger) I was really impressed that she was going to all that effort, and didn't think to tell her that my attempts at fondant have been complete disasters because, well, she is my mom and she totally rocks in the kitchen. I do not. 

And Grandpa Jim made a wicked stand for it! 

Aunty Ingy (her name is Lindsay, she adopted Ingy because she was the first person Rowan learned to say the name of and it has stuck,) says that the story is that the aliens had to leave their planet together because they fought constantly (they are brother and sister) and by the time they get to earth they have been forced to be in each company for so long, they get along famously. You know, sorta like human siblings :)

I did some wrestling with decorations beyond the bunting and the colour scheme as I usually have balloons on hand that have been re-used over and over (most have been rescued from elsewhere) but I refuse to buy new ones. Balloons are one of those things that are really nasty environmentally and don't actually serve much of a purpose. I knew I could do festive beyond what the "normal" party decor list generally calls for, so I got out some leftover tissue paper and made some of those balls that are everywhere right now. Martha has a tutorial on her site... they seem really frustrating when you are pulling them apart, but then they look great when done. The bunting is everywhere too but super straightforward. I recommend actually making some effort at it, and not trying to put it together at T minus zero, as it would be nice if I didn't cringe every time I looked at it. Pretty from afar, but I will be hanging mine as high as possible :) Those things and some stuff we had lying about the house that were sparkley made the place quite fabulous. I will be making up some butterfly garlands and a couple more strings of bunting for my own birthday party in spring!

The last word on kids birthdays? Have your tickle trunk out. We just let them go at it and ended up with a Space Cowboy / Batman / Wicked Witch / Oscar Diva Party. We didn't have to interrupt them at all, we just put in our built in earplugs (those ones that develop throughout parenthood) and gathered in the kitchen to chat. I recommend having dress-up stuff for both boys and girls, even if you only have only sons or only daughters. Although really, they are pretty good at improvising!

Most of all, HAVE FUN!
(Oh, and for the record, do NOT handcuff one of your nicest guests right before her cab comes... just sayin'!)

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Covet Garden

I am having a happy moment. I love finding something I like that I haven't seen before :)

I was on the phone today with a good friend who, sadly, refuses to move back to what she sees as Hippietropolis. I keep assuring her that she is mistaken, and needs to come back to see what Nelson is really like, but alas, she won't budge. She is an uber talented landscaper/singer/songwriter/diva/crafter/decorator/cooker type person who is also mucho sweet and lovely. Today I asked her to send me a list of her favourite blogs because I am finding that I frequent the same blogs over and over. And the ones that I frequent have those same blogs on their blog roll. On the one hand, it means that they are all good blogs, but on the other, I want some fresh stuff to be inspired by. She was very excited by this new online mag she had found out of Toronto that had actually done stories on her friend and that friend's bridesmaid. She said their focus was to cover the lifestyles of real people. I looked it up, and it is most fabulous.

Covet Garden is a lifestyle magazine that covers the A to Z of the lives of "interesting people" from Toronto. I always think of Toronto people as slick (it might be because the ones I know personally are... well, slick in the best sense) and definitely interesting but not most people's reality. Fashion magazine people. MuchMusic personalities. "Oh that old thing..." four thousand dollar dress types. Toronto is fast paced, sparkley and intense... I am a Vancouver girl. We hone our mountain/ocean-laid-back-sipping-coffee-and-reading personalities. I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that Covet Garden is a brilliantly edited peek into the lives of people who are really and truly interesting, and real. The kind of people that you would want in your social circle. It makes you actually think about (not just lust after) the spaces, projects, and products featured. You get to see into the house, the backyard, the routine, the bookshelf, the iPod, and the medicine cabinet of these people. The concept and variety of content is pretty brilliant and comes complete with witty quotes and links galore. There are lists inspired by what this or that person does for a living, such as this spread (only partly shown) inspired by Paul, a graphic designer.

There are tutorials based on something that somebody in that household has actually made. And the photography is gorgeous! I love Tracy Schumate's work (House and Home, Style at Home and others).

While these spaces are unique and endearing, they are not, according to the publisher, styled by interior designers. The newer trend of handmade, organic feeling interiors that are put together piece by piece is portrayed beautifully in every issue because, well, that's what they are.

Sidebar: Noticing a definite trend towards knitted goods for the past while, and pondering working harder at it. Previously mentioned great friend got me into knitting a few years ago when we decided to singlehandedly (with the help of her roommate) revamp the image of knitting being for grandmas only. She knitted knickers and I made half a scarf. I have since made four scarves (full size ones) but never got further than that... a new hobby looming perhaps?

While some magazines, both on and off-line, seem to think that the lure is in providing content that keeps design at arm's length, there is a huge demographic that is looking for doable decor. It is not always budget constraints that create livable interiors. The "handmade movement" is seeing society, almost en masse, suddenly realize that there is a quality and artfulness that can only be acquired by sourcing outside the obvious and relying on craftspeople and markets to find the "right" pieces. The spaces in Covet Garden provide a look into homes that have embraced vintage, second-hand and DIY decor and showcases it beautifully. And the whimsical touches are the icing on a pretty delectable cake.

I have good feelings about the direction that this new online magazine world is taking. While keeping up the quality of photography and content, and being able to better integrate information and sources for products via unobtrusive linkage, the world of possibilities are just being explored and promise to be enticing down a near limitless road. Good things are taking root...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Warm and Fuzzy All Over...

Do we all see that big shiny new square right THERE >>>>

Some amazingly wonderful and awesome reader went and nominated me for a Canadian Weblog Award! I am so super excited (and kind of floored and confused). It was probably my mom, but that's OK too :)

I know, usually you only make a big stink about it if you actually win the award, but I am all happy and shiny about this, so I am going to put the little logo thingy right there for a little bit and it will make me smile when I log in.

Strangely, I googled this site a couple of weeks ago while on another computer (I usually use the button on my toolbar so don't see listings) and what came up was a nomination for a Scandinavian blog award? I think it was? I really couldn't make out what it was about, and google translate only made the site more confusing... so I am not sure what it all actually meant. I mean, how in the world does that happen?

Ridiculously adorable image from Little Owl Arts

So whichever fabulous and brilliant person did this, thank you so much!... and if the Scandinavian thing was you too, sorry I didn't mention it, I didn't actually understand it :)

...and to all of you who continue reading my ramblings, thank you too! I really and truly do appreciate each and every one of you :)

Happy evening!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Domestic Goddess I Am Not.

I learned two things in the kitchen today.

The first is that if you add spaghetti squash from last night into the pancake mix (along with a banana that came home in a lunchbox too squished to appeal to anyone, and half a bowl of creme of wheat from the day before) you have the BEST pancakes you have ever made! Hands down! I have started making pancakes out of pretty much anything that needs using up. The kids have taken to putting the remains of anything they haven't finished into the fridge "for later". A few days ago it was waffles with the last of the yogurt, sour creme, and I made sure that none of the old syrup was wasted (it was the good stuff) by rinsing the bottle out and dumping the water into the mix. Rice has become a pancake staple, as have whatever fruit gets half eaten... I used zucchini awhile back. It is truly amazing what can be hidden in such a simple meal! I suppose I should give them a title but really, everything sounds unappetizing. When I was growing up, we used to call Slurpees that were all the flavours mixed together "Swampwater," so perhaps they should be dubbed... Swampcakes. Mmmmm... YUMMY!

Not my pancakes, I forgot to take pictures.

The second thing I have learned is that there is no way in our house to weigh a turkey. The turkey my mother brought over for Christmas dinner was cooked by my mother. In my oven, yes, mostly, but I wasn't actually part of cooking it. I DO know that it takes hours and hours, which is why my father used to disappear into the kitchen (his escape room) to "tend to the turkey" whenever he cooked a special meal. We seriously wouldn't see him all day! I have only cooked one turkey in my life. My first Christmas living far away from home. The entire crew that my father lives with (the stepwitch, and her offspring) made the treck over because I promised to put them up in a hotel with a swimming pool. The lure of the Empress got them there. They ended up having to stay in a lovely place (not the Empress because I didn't make reservations) with a swimming pool, and dinner was served close to midnight. I made poached pears though, they were beautiful.

the Empress Hotel

Anyhow, today I made a turkey. I had to, there was one in my freezer that we had been given for Christmas. Strangely, everyone (everyone) gave us food when we moved into this house. Bags, baskets, containers, tins... and we are not even through half of it. So tonight, feeling domestic, and slightly less intimidated than usual, I braved the turkey that was taking up the entire freezer. I read online 20 minutes per pound. Per pound? OK, where on the bird does it tell me the weight? WHY would it not tell you the weight ON the bird when one measly pound means the difference of a raw or over cooked bird??? Well... not to fear, both Dylan and I compared the weight of the bird to the weight of our smallest child, and both figured on twenty pounds. Maybe fifteen. It was a very complex system. Lift the turkey... lift the child... lift the turkey... lift the child. So I only had to check it thirty-five times before it was done. No sweat.

Child= nearly 40 lbs.

Turkey= 15ish lbs. (maybe)

As it turns out, I cook a mean turkey.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Aesthetic Dominion: Cartolina's Latest

I have been a fan of Cartolina for years. I am a bit of a stalker on Fiona's site, I visit hers probably more than any other blog on the net and never EVER find it to be dull. Always inspiring, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness... ever to the point of distraction. I actually live in the same town as she does, which is the sweetest little arts town in North America, so I feel very lucky to have her as a neighbour! Such talent we have here in the Koots :)

Fiona has been a busy little bee the past year... well, truth be told, I don't think she ever rests. She and her husband were the ones who opened my favourite place to have chai and a muffin, The Dominion Cafe, and although they haven't owned it for a few years it is almost the same today as it was then, which shows you that she has a good eye, excellent taste, and knows what she is doing in business. These days she is putting all of that talent into evolving her "pretty things" business, Cartolina. And by "evolve" I pretty much mean world domination.

I am not one who would jump at the first chance to marry art with something high tech, because, well I am not high tech and really don't understand any of it. I don't have a cell phone... yeeesssss... that's right, I don't own one. I had one years ago, I have gone through two actually. I never used them. I either can't keep the bloody thing charged or I have forgotten to get more time for it (the first one I got a three year plan and used it maybe ten times) and it is generally taking up space in my bag for literally no reason. If I DID have a cell phone, I would be grabbing that app I mentioned on Valentine's day. I love the idea of sending something so gorgeous in such a simple way. I love that Cartolina has taken these images that are inspired so obviously by vintage artwork and created something so modern, not only in an aesthetic sense, but also in the way they are used.

I purchased my first Cartolina card eons ago in a Nelson boutique. I didn't realize they were a local company and felt that I needed to buy it in case I couldn't find them again. I bought it solely to frame. I am delighted that she has recently made framable prints for sale in a Cartolina etsy shop. Her first etsy store! They would make gorgeous housewarming or wedding gifts.

Most recently, she teamed up with Lief, Leuk & Eigen to create the most adorable Baby Collection of announcements. They are customizable with regards to names and dates etc., and most importantly, are not the typical cutesy thing that most baby products have going on.

I adore these! They are available online at Leif, Leuk & Eigen's site.

Of course around here it goes without saying that my favourite part of the Cartolina way of doing things is making something so beautiful without losing touch with the importance of our planet. Cartolina cards are printed on recycled paper that comes with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification. The FSC represents products produced from well-managed forests, controlled sources and recycled wood. The cards are printed with vegetable based inks and their printer was named Most Environmentally Progresive Printer in Canada for the last 5 years at the Environmental Printing Awards. Brilliant all around.

Cartolina's LOVE for You!

Want an easy and fast but crazy fabulous way of saying Happy Valentines to all your amigos and amigas? I'm not kidding, if I had a cell (really, I have tried, we don't get along) I would be all over this app. The artwork on the Cartolina site is ALL stunning and best of all, unique.

Fiona and her husband obviously are riddled with too much talent for two people and so they must find ways to share it with you, and one of the (simplest) ways you can scoop some up is to grab this app TODAY so you too can show your circle of lovelies what good taste you have and be efficient about it too! Also, I think we can toss this into the eco category, and I am pretty strict about that... I hereby declare the Cartogram a most eco way to send a valentine to your Valentine... and to your co-workers, your mailing list of clients, your most brilliant friends and your hairdresser. You can thank me later.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Finder's Keepers

I am so in love with this idea... I have a friend who has a friend who did the "Goddess Project" last summer and hid one hundred Goddess statues all over the Kootenays. It happened to be during one of those lovely periods where my computer was down, or I would have blogged the heck out of it... but now I see it happening again in Vancouver! LOVE THIS!

Finders Keepers is a project created by Vancouver–based artist, Jasna Sokolovic. By placing two
hundred ceramic heart magnets around Granville Island for people to find, share and if inspired, to report back to her website, she has found a way of promoting herself, her love of 3D street art, and LOVE with her community. Who doesn't love a good treasure hunt? Get out there NOW and find one! (...and please bring your camera and take a photo of where you found it, and what you will do with it so you can share on her site... I am excited to see what people post!)

Tick Tock... Wood Clock

This is the most beautiful thing I have seen in a while.