Wednesday, September 28, 2016

October's Quote

"all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." 
JRR Tolkien

time is something I've been thinking more and more about recently, as we've found a rhythm to our days and I'm able to squeeze in time for some hobbies again. I don't get to them everyday but in general, I have time to read new books, knit a little, exercise and take walks, sometimes write, keep up with my favorite podcasts and cook healthy meals for my family. I'm finding it helps to have a list of things I'd like to get to so that when I have a free moment, I'm able to use that time wisely, instead of just mindlessly scrolling Instagram (though I still stop in there most days...) I'm just practicing making conscious decisions about how I'd like to spend those little pockets of extra time.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fall & Winter Reading List

so it's that time again- time to share a new reading list! I've put together this list for the coming cooler months and I am super excited about it. Back in July, my mom gave me a Kobo e reader (the Canadian version of a Kindle) and it's been amazing. I previously struggled to find a lot of books (particularly new releases) in English. I would often add a book to my TBR list, or one of my book lists for the blog, with every intention of reading it, only to struggle to find it for several months before I forgot completely about it! So, I've included a lot more newly released books on this list than normal because I now know exactly where to get them. 

Also, as a bonus, I've gone back through my previous lists to find those books that slipped through and got forgotten but that I'd still really like to pick up. You can see those at the end of this post, and you can see my previous book lists here.

Alrighty, so without further chatter, here's what I'm hoping to read over the next few months: 

Present Over Perfect // Shauna Niequest
Okay so I loved LOVED Shauna's book Bread and Wine and have been anticipating the release of this one for ages. From the blurbs, reviews and sample chapter I've read, I'd say it's got a message that I really need to hear and I'm so excited to dive in deeper. 

Talking as Fast as I Can // Lauren Grahame
This is the newest new release on this list- it doesn't come out until November, but you can bet I'll be downloading my copy asap. I read Lauren Grahame's first book several years ago and really enjoyed it, and I am (of course) a massive Gilmore Girls fan. I've been re-watching all the old episodes, in preparation for the new ones, and so the release of this book feels very timely. 

Commonwealth // Ann Patchett
A new Patchett novel? I'm so in! This one just came out this month and I'm really excited to dive in soon.

Four Seasons in Rome // Anthony Doer
Recently I've been really interested in books about writing, particularly if they're by authors I know and respect. After reading All the Light We Cannot See this past spring, I was excited to find out about this book. Doer tells the story of how he and his wife (and their newborn twins!) pack up and move to Italy for a year of writing. I think this sounds lovely and fascinating, especially since the novel he's working on is All the Light (which apparently took him 10 years to write!). Super interesting stuff and I can't wait to pick this one up.

Murder on the Nile // Agatha Christie
Planning to listen to this one as an audio book with Waldi on our trip to Scotland. Seems like the perfect cozy mystery for driving through the highlands. 

Longbourn // Jo Baker
I've been hoping to read this book for AGES and my mom just told me she's got a copy of it that I can borrow when we go home this Christmas. I think it sounds like the perfect holiday read and I'm really looking forward to it.

The Zimzum of Love // Rob & Kristen Bell
I'm a huge fan of Rob Bell (he had me hooked at Velvet Elvis and really won me over with Love Wins) but I've not picked up either of his newest books. I've recently started going back and listening through the archives of his podcast, and I listened to one episode where he chats with his wife about this book, which they wrote together over a year and a half. Super intrigued about this- not only because of what it's about, but also because I cannot imagine writing a book with my significant other, haha! 

And, as promised, I'm hoping to get to the following titles from previous lists:

I Capture the Castle // Dodie Smith
Planning on ordering this one for our trip to Scotland and I've got images of being curled up with it in front of a roaring fire with a mug of cocoa on a rainy evening...ahhh Fall...

Career of Evil // Robert Galbraith 
I've been waiting for my local library to get a copy of this in English for ages (they have the first two in the series) and it's just not happening, so I may have to take things into my own hands and order this one as well...

as always, I would love to hear your recommendations. what are you guys planning to read this fall?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

FO: vanilla latte socks

So I shared about these socks over on Instagram last week, but the story really is just too good, and I thought I would post about it here as well:

This spring, I made myself a pair of vanilla latte socks. I had a skein of Madeline Tosh sock in the cove colorway, from a project that I frogged several months before and it really seemed a shame not to try making socks from it. I cast these on back in March and worked on them mostly in the last weeks before Caleb was born. They were the perfect mindless knitting project- easy, but interesting enough thanks to the beautiful tonals in the wool. 

Something funny happened along the way, however. I cast off the first sock shortly before my sisters came to visit me back at the end of April and took a break from the project while they were here. Two weeks later I cast on the second sock and was happily knitting away when I noticed that it seemed to be knitting up quite a bit smaller than the first one. Here's a photo of both socks in progress from instagram:

Anyhow, this had me majorly confused. I kept comparing the two socks to each other and was completely mystified that the width could be so different when I had the same number of stitches, using the same needles & wool. But I continued anyhow, and finished my second sock about a week before C was born. I then put my socks in the cupboard along with my other pairs of handknit socks and forgot about them. 

About a month and a half later, I pulled them out to show my mom the pattern, as she was looking for some ideas to make knitting vanilla socks a little more exciting. I wanted to suggest this pattern along with a few of my other favorites (Hermione's Everyday socks & the blueberry waffle sock pattern to be exact..) I was absolutely shocked by what I found: 

The photo basically speaks for itself but I used two COMPLETELY different patterns on these socks. The first one (on the left) is the vanilla latte sock pattern. The second is something that I apparently made up. It's similar enough- garter stitch rib, but the numbers are completely different, and the result is a much smaller, tighter sock. 

Now, I assure you, I had ample opportunity to notice this, as like I said, I kept taking the first sock out to compare with the second as I was knitting, and spent many a moment pondering what could be going wrong with my gauge. Major pregnancy brain moment!

At first, I was thinking about unpicking one of them to get a matching pair and posted over on Instagram to get your advice on which one I should keep. The response was overwhelming- almost everyone advised me to keep both socks as they are, as a memory in years to come. 

So I decided to take your advice- both because I like the idea of having this memory, but also because it meant that I could already cast on my next pair of socks, which, I assure you, I wasted no time in doing. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

recipe: Welsh Cakes

okay so, if I were ever to write a foodie memoir (which, I assure you, I dream about much more often than you would think...) this would have to be at the very top of the list for recipes to share. this is what I call a serious family recipe... the kind that goes back generations and comes with measurements a mix of English, Metric and just complete nonsense. The kind you have to make first with your mother before you have any idea what you're doing because the written instructions are basically nonexistent.

In other words: this is exactly my kind of recipe.

The past two summers I've been lucky enough to get to make these with my mom. The photo above is from last summer in Canada, when we spent a whole morning making what felt like hundreds to freeze. I had them at my wedding & baby shower, my mom had them at her wedding, and my brother will have them at his wedding this winter. They'll most likely be featured at Caleb's first birthday party. They have been given to many a family member whose needed a bit of cheering up (often in heart shaped form) and having a bag in the freezer got me through many of those first nights of waking up at all hours to nurse Caleb. 

This recipe comes from my great-grandfather's mother, Queenie. My great-grandfather grew up in Wales but never lived their during his adult life and his daughter (my grandma) is the one who made sure this recipe stayed in the family. When Caleb is old enough to try them, that will be 6 generations! 

I've done my best to write down exactly what you need to do to make these yourself. They're not very difficult, but it may take a try or two to figure out the exact timing of frying them in the pan. Once you get the hang of it though, I'm sure you'll be hooked!  

you will need: 4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups currants
6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp lard
roughly 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 egg
2 cups currants
(optional: 1 tsp vanilla)

note: these amounts make a modest amount of Welsh Cakes (about 40 circles, when using a regular sized drinking glass). But they freeze wonderfully, so you could always double (or triple) up on everything.

now here's what you need to do:
crack one egg into a one cup measurer and add the vanilla if you'd like to. Then fill the measurer to the brim with half milk and half water (see what I mean...?)

mix dry ingredients. cut butter/ lard into pieces and crumble in with fingers. stir in currants. beat egg/milk mixture together and add. the dough will be very dry and crumbly- don't worry, that's what it's supposed to be like. 

chill in fridge for several hours (or overnight if you'd like)

roll out onto the counter and use a drinking glass to cut out cakes in desired size. you could, of course, cut these into whatever shape you like, using cookie cutters.

warm up a dry frying pan, on medium-low heat. you do NOT need any oil or grease to fry these cakes. then just add your Welsh cakes to the pan and cook for approx. 8 mins on the first side. You'll know they're ready to flip when little bubbles begin to appear. They'll need another 3-4 mins on the second side, until they're just starting to brown. 

keep a rack beside the stove to pile your cakes up as you take them out of the pan. my grandma always said to cover them with a clean tea towel so they won't dry out.

these cakes are the perfect afternoon snack with a cup of tea, and are excellent served alongside other cakes since they aren't so sweet. Sometimes we eat them with jam and butter but it's not necessary. And as mentioned, they make the perfect middle of the night nursing snack. Enjoy! 

Monday, September 12, 2016

casting on

So I don't know what's going on lately. Maybe it's the fact that Fall is coming, or that I've got some new yarn sitting pretty in my stash. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I've got less time to knit now- my projects and stitches squeezed into fleeting free moments throughout the day, picked up here and there where I can. Or maybe it's that I'm slowly finding my balance and establishing a (somewhat) normal weekly routine again, coming out of the fog that was pregnancy and those early weeks of motherhood for me...

But whatever the reason, I am happy to report that I am feeling more creative than I have in MONTHS. I don't even remember the last time that I was feeling this motivated to knit... probably last summer when I was home in Vancouver, surrounded by all the yarn I could possibly dream of and spending hours knitting on the patio with my mom in the mornings. I've got a project list a mile long, more items cast on than I think I've ever had at once, and even a few ideas for a new pattern or two. 

And it's not just knitting. All of a sudden, I've got lots to say here on the blog. To be honest, I had expected things to be the other way around- I thought after Caleb arrived, I would want to spend less time and energy writing and sharing here. But I'm finding the reverse is true and there is just so much I want to make, share and talk about here. 

I took a break from posting last week to try and get some focus- think through where I want to take things this Fall. I've made no secret about the fact that Fall is my favorite season, and I always feel a rush of creativity as it creeps nearer. But right now it feels like a major surge... I'm thankful that the ideas are coming and the motivation is here, and I want to really make time to pursue the things that are most important to me. Now that I have more demands on my time, I thought it might be helpful to really identify the creative endeavors I most want to put my energy into this Fall. Though I'm mostly going to try and follow this inspiration without trying to control things too much, I'm glad I took this week to reflect on what's important to me in this season of my life.

So what does this mean for the blog? I'm not exactly sure, but what I do know is that I want to knit ALL the things. And I want to write. So I'm sure I'll be showing up here in this space pretty regularly over the next few months, casting on everything I possibly can while the inspiration lasts, and sharing about it in case any one is interested. 

As always, thanks for sticking with me this past year. One thing that I love about keeping a blog is that you get to look back on your life and see how things change and how far you've come. This past year has looked very different for me and my family, and consequently this space. I hadn't realized how different until I recently clicked back through the in my studio archives here. If you're still here following along, I hope to have many more crafty posts to share with you over the next little while (hopefully starting with some FO posts of a few of the projects currently on my needles haha!) 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

September's Quote

"now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." 
- John Steinbeck (East of Eden)

because there's no such thing as perfect anyways... 

Monday, August 29, 2016

creative chat: Elizabeth Barr

after a little unscheduled break (helloooo having a baby...haha) I'm very pleased to be back today with my creative chat series, interviewing wedding/proposal planner & calligrapher Elizabeth Barr. Beth lives in Vancouver, BC where she can be found visiting cute cafes, playing with flowers and exploring all the best parts of the city (all of which she shares about over on Instagram). In case you couldn't tell from the photos, she's also my sister :) 

anyhow, I'm super excited to share this with you today, so grab yourself some iced coffee (if it's as hot where you are as it is here...) and join us! 

1. If we were having this conversation in person, in a cafe what would you be drinking? are you a coffee or tea person (or both..)?

oh. Well that is a hard question. I always want to be a tea person. I love how many different unique options there are - and I absolutely love a good herbal or green tea. But when it comes down to it there is nothing that beats a excellent cup of strong coffee. If there is one thing I can count on to always be stocked in my house - it's coffee. So if we were sitting in a cafe, like we've spent many afternoons together, I would definitely be having coffee!

photo: Summer Rayne

2. Tell us a little bit about what you do. What led you to choose this path?

I have always been a very creative yet very logistical person. I love what I do, and I have been very fortunate to be able to be employed - doing what I love. I work for a company in Vancouver, BC called Sweetheart Events. We specialize in planning "true to you" weddings and proposals on the beautiful west coast of Canada. I am also the resident calligrapher for the company - which means that for the summer months, my life is filled with not only weddings but signage, placecards and a lot of seating charts. 

I don't know when I felt drawn to wedding planning. I don't remember an exact moment where I knew it was the career for me. It's more of a every day realization, every wedding I attend or every couple I work with, I realize how much I love love. I love helping couples plan and execute their dream day, and I love witnessing them on that day. There truly is no other event in someone's life that has the emotion of a wedding day.

3. Where do you go (or what do you do) for inspiration? 

Like everyone I know, I get a lot of inspiration from the work of others, from Instagram and Pinterest. I am also very fortunate to live in a beautiful corner of the world, and often find myself near the ocean or mountains. Although, I love searching in vintage shops and thrift shops - I find a lot of inspiration there for different style shoots or wedding decor. 

4. In your mind what is one of the biggest challenges of being a creative?

I think one of the biggest challenges these days for a creative is also one of the biggest advantages - the fact that everything is so easy shared! It's great for getting your work out there, and for gaining an audience but it is also hard to keep it authentic (if that makes sense?) With everyone being able to share and recreate anything - it makes it hard to create something truly original. 

5. What is one of your favorite things about planning weddings & proposals?

One of my absolute favourite things about weddings and proposals is watching everything come together the day of. I love seeing the ranges of emotions that each family member and guest goes through. There are not many careers where you get to help people celebrate the most important day of their lives! And, of course that moment when the bride is heading down the aisle - nothing quite like it! Haha, I cry almost every time. 

6. what are you currently up to? anything new and exciting coming up?

ohhhhhh spoiler alert! I am always up to something exciting. Sweetheart Events is still in the thick of wedding season, and are already booking for next year (and quickly!). I have also accepted a job with a floral company in Vancouver called Celsia as their wedding and event coordinator! It has always been a DREAM of mine to be a florist and that dream is coming true! I am very excited. 

Follow along with me on Instagram (because I am so not a Twitter girl) @elizabethbarr, to keep up with all the weddings, pretty handwriting, florals and perfectly styled locations and food. 

photo: Nomo Simply Sweet Photography

thanks so much Beth for taking the time to chat with us today, and for sharing a little about what you do! As Beth mentioned, if you're interested in seeing more of what she's up to and what's inspiring her make sure to connect with her on Instagram, as well as Pinterest

also if you're interested in learning more about Sweetheart Events you can check them out here

Note: all photos by Elizabeth Barr (unless otherwise stated)

This interview is part of my Creative Chat series, where I sit down for a virtual coffee or tea date with makers and creatives to talk about their creative processes, journeys and the inspiration behind their work. You can read other posts in the series here.