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.

Friday, August 26, 2016

summer book report

So back in early Spring when I put together this list, I mentioned that I was not expecting to have much reading time. Well, several things conspired to really change that fact: first off- nursing. In the early days I read a ton while nursing C. I also read a lot when he was fussy and would only fall asleep on my chest- can't complain about being stuck on the couch, with cuddles and a good book, that's for sure. I also found I didn't have much energy for my other hobbies in the first weeks (like writing, knitting, or going for walks...) so I would pick up books in any free moment I had. The final thing that really changed my reading life is that my mom gave me an e reader while she was visiting me. All of a sudden, I had access to all the books I had struggled to find here- and all in my own language! It was (is) almost too good to be true. 

So all that to say, I managed to plow my way through most of my list and then pick up a whole bunch more books. Today I'm sharing a little bit about what I've been reading and what I thought of each book.

lets start with the books from that list:

Americanah (Chimamanda Adiche) 
This book was thought provoking, with Adiche sharing many of her honest observations on some important topics. While I quite like her as a writer, I must say I didn't like this one quite as much as some of her other writing. But on the whole, it made me think and gave me a new perspective on several levels and for that I'm glad to have read it.

Delancy (Molly Wizenberg)

Though I didn't love this as much as Molly's first book (A Homemade Life) I found it fascinating to read about her experiences in opening a restaurant with her husband and plowed through it at incredible speed. Can't wait to try a few of the recipes, and who knows? Maybe we'll make it down to Seattle on one of our trips home to stop in and have a pizza...

Bringing Up Bebe (Pamela Druckerman)
As I mentioned, Waldi and I were reading this aloud together before Caleb was born. We found it interesting and it sparked many a conversation between us, though we aren't planning to follow everything in it to the letter.

All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doer)
So glad I finally got my hands on this! It's a sweeping story, set during WW2 in both France and Germany and told through multiple perspectives. Doer is an excellent storyteller and I enjoyed the multiple storylines and how they crossed over together. 

Daring Greatly (BrenĂ© Brown)
Loved this book- and now I'm only asking myself why it took me so long to read it? I've shared a few thoughts on this book in a previous post so today I'll just say I learned a ton and gained some insight into my own life. At several points I put the book down, amazed to realize that others experience some of the same thought processes I do, and that there is a name for them and a conversation happening about them. So glad I picked this up.

and here are a few more I managed to make my way through:

The Paris Wife (Paula McLain)
Interesting perspective on the story of Ernest Hemmingway and his first wife Hadley. I enjoyed getting lost in the setting and time period- overall a quick and fun read.

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Jonas Jonasson)
Picked this one up just a few days before Caleb was born and read it while breastfeeding those first few intense weeks. It's been on our shelf since Waldi read it several years ago and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, as I had thought it wasn't for me. Reading this also has me thinking I should try and pick up more books in translation...

Vanessa and her Sister (Priya Parmar)
My aunt gave this to me, and though I'd never heard of it before, it was a quick and interesting read. It's a fictional account of Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell, and the Bloomsbury group- a gathering of writers and artists that met regularily in London in the early 20th century. I wasn't blown away but I did enjoy it.

When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi)
This is a heartbreaking memoir by a young neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with cancer. (seriously heartbreaking- his wife writes the epilogue after his death...) Well-written and brave, it's one people will be talking about for awhile, I'm sure.

The Getaway Car (Ann Patchett)
Quick little glimpse into the writing life of one of my favorite authors. Enjoyed reading her perspective on her work as a writer and learning a little more about her journey. 

and of course: 
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne) 
Because how could I pass up the chance to revisit my favorite magical world? Okay, so like many HP fans, I'm sure, I've got lots of opinions on this one. I think the fact that it's a play and not a novel is helpful because I was already prepared for a different reading experience than I had with the other seven books. I don't want to give too much away for those who haven't read it but I will say that I appreciated that we got a little bit of a different perspective (both positive and negative) on several characters who I felt were pretty one dimensional in the series. It was fun seeing Harry and the rest of the gang as parents as well- what they did well and where they were struggling. So all in all, I enjoyed it.

so, what's next? I'm currently reading All the Bring Places by Jennifer Niven (as recommended on this podcast, of course) and I'm putting together a new reading list for Fall that I'm very excited about. I'll be sure to share soon, but in the meantime, what have you been reading? I'd love to add any suggestions to my ever-growing TBR list! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

recipe: Blackberry Apple Crumble

isn't it interesting how meals are always about more than just food? of course, cooking and sharing a meal together is about nourishing ourselves- something we all need to do. But often it's also about community. About storytelling. About where we've come from and where we're going. 

last summer, while home in Vancouver for the summer, we spent a weekend with various family members at a cabin on the beach. It was one of the highlights of that summer for me, and if I'm honest, one of the best weekends I've had in my entire life. my family has walked through hard times together and, with grace, come out on the other side. There's something about spending time with those who you've struggled with and alongside- that weekend was pure redemption for me. when I think back on it now, sure I think about evening swims in the pacific, picking apples and blackberries from the garden, and walks along the coast, but I also think about the meals we shared, the conversations that kept us lingering at the table. 

today I want to share with you one last summer recipe. this is my mom's recipe for a very simple crumble, British style. The Brits apparently make a different kind of crumble than the Canadians do- this one is much simpler to make, resulting in a more crumby topping that's just delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. whenever I eat it, I think of that weekend, of family and home and of how sometimes life really is just too damn good to be true.

here's what you need:

1/2 cup butter (cold & chopped into small pieces)
1 1/2 cups flour/oatmeal
approx. 1 cup sugar
1/2 cup almonds or walnuts (optional but Waldi and I both love the walnuts)

3-4 apples 
250 g blackberries

It's a good idea to mix your crumble topping together first, as the apples will start to brown after they've been chopped. 

Just add your dry ingredients together in a bowl and mix the butter in with your fingers. Next, peel & chop your apples and layer them into a (buttered) baking dish along with the blackberries. Pour your crumble topping over the fruit and bake in the oven at 180C for 45 minutes. If your crumble doesn't seem to be browning on top, just turn the oven up to 200C for the last 10 minutes.

Let cool slightly after removing from the oven and serve warm with generous scoops of vanilla icecream on top. 


Thursday, August 18, 2016

motherhood & the hustle for worthiness

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled big time with believing that I am enough. For years, I fought to earn my self-worth through my performance- I was an honor roll student, an obedient child and have struggled at more than one point in my life with workaholic tendencies. I have busted my butt to please others, to do what I thought was expected of me. 

Part of this is of course about worthiness. I have struggled consistently with believing that I am enough- good enough, smart enough, pretty enough... 

At certain times in my life, I have had to deal with this in big ways. Falling in love and getting married forced me to accept that I was loved for who I was right now, and not based on any type of performance (which is a good thing, based on my housekeeping skills at that point in my life...). Moving to Germany forced me to accept that I was enough even when my ability to do normal everyday activities (work, drive, communicate) was reduced significantly.

But never has this been more true than in these first few weeks of motherhood. Though I had hoped and prayed for a baby for years, I was not prepared for what having one would do to me and my body. Of course, it was (and is) a challenge learning how to care for Caleb- how to feed him, and sooth him, how to get him to fall back asleep in the middle of the night. All these things are a huge learning curve, but one I must say, I expected to have to deal with. We welcomed a new family member into our home and that doesn't come without it's challenges. 

I had expected to have less time for myself, to put my hobbies on hold for awhile, to shift my priorities around in order to properly care for my little one. These were all things I was willing and happy to do. What I had not expected was how intense my physical recovery would be. It's only in these last two weeks that I've honestly started feeling like myself again.

Needless to say, I was a bit of a mess. Keeping up with the laundry felt like a challenge akin to climbing a mountain (though not giving birth...), clean floors felt like a luxury of the past and dinner was never ready until late in the evening. I was exhausted, frustrated with myself for taking so long to heal, for not handling my recovery all that well. Childbirth- while difficult, felt empowering to me. This whole postpartum period just felt debilitating. 

I know that I'm not the first mama to struggle in this time. We all do to some extent, I'm sure. But I was still caught off guard by the intensity of what I was feeling, by how overwhelming my recovery became. And of course, my inner perfectionist just wouldn't let things be. That hustle for worthiness- an unforgiving and exhausting dance I've fought most of my life was back in full force. Though this time, of course, I was in no physical condition to dance. 

When my mom came to visit, about a month after Caleb was born, she brought with her a pair of extra hands and a lot of grace. I am so thankful she was here and so grateful for all the help she was around the house and with C. She also brought with her Brené Brown's book Daring Greatly. I tore through it in about a week's time, the words like a balm for my tired postpartum self.

The book, as many will know, deals with vulnerability. But it also talks about worthiness, parenting and fear. It talks about how many of us, when we look at the good things we've been given in life, feel afraid that it's quite simply too much- it's too good, it's more than we deserve, and therefore can't possibly last. We use worry (among other things) to sabotage our enjoyment of these gifts because the thought of loosing what we have is just too painful.

As I read, I was shocked to see myself so clearly reflected on the pages. I had no idea that this way of thinking was a thing- that others struggled with it and that there was a language to describe it. But that's exactly what I do. I don't think I'm possibly worthy of what I've been given and am therefore terrified to loose it. The belief that I am not enough is in fact getting in the way of my ability to fully enjoy what I've been blessed with. This constant striving to do more, to be more, this unrelenting hustle... it's exhausting.

According to the book, one of the best ways to combat this is with gratitude. To admit that we don't feel worthy of what we have and to be thankful for it anyway. Perhaps even to be thankful for it because it's more than we deserve. 

It's not easy but I'm learning to be thankful. I'm learning to give myself grace in the areas where I feel inadequate and to stop hustling to earn my worthiness. I'm learning to embrace, even savour those days when it's noon and nothing is done, there's a sink full of dishes, and Caleb wants to cuddle. I'm learning that sometimes it's okay to leave things as they are and take your baby for a walk, if that's what you're both needing. The laundry will be there when you get back...fortunately or unfortunately, haha. And I'm learning to admit that I can't always do all the things. Taking care of my baby and myself is really more than enough some days.  

Friday, August 12, 2016

queue check

As is evidenced by the lack of posts I've done about knitting, over the past few months I have really struggled to find projects to motivate me. Aside from a few baby knits and 3 or 4 pairs of socks, I've basically done little to no knitting this whole year. 

With Fall approaching and my mom here this past month working on her projects, I've been super motivated to find simple but fun projects that have me excited to pick up the needles. None of these are very challenging, but they are all lovely and many use up yarn I've had kicking around for ages. I'm so excited about these that I just can't cast on fast enough.

Here's what I'll be working on this next month and into Fall. (note: most of the headers are links to the patterns for easy access)

simple ribbed cowl 

I knit up one of these for my mom while she was here using some Cascade yarn she had left from a sweater she made and brought with her. This was the perfect mindless knitting project that I was looking for- something simple and easy that isn't socks, ha! So now I've cast on a second one for me in a beautiful purple yarn. Can't wait to wear it come fall.

cabled baby vest

So I couldn't find a link to this pattern on Ravelry but it's from this book. I'm so excited for this. It's a very cute cabled vest that I'm knitting up in a soft beige for C to wear under denim jackets come fall. I'd like to have it finished by the time the weather cools off so I'd better get started!

Hermione's Everyday socks

started these a few days before Caleb was born and am now on the cuff of the second sock. I love this pattern so much and it's turning out just lovely in the Patons Kroy yarn I'm using. 

the Traveling Scarf

I've got a pile of chunky yarn from a frogged project sitting in my closet that I'd been wondering what to do with. So when I saw this pattern I thought it might be fun to try my hand at it. A quick project for the Fall.

afterthought heel socks

There is a ball of Arne and Carlos Regia sock yarn that's been sitting in my stash for over a year. I've been waiting to cast on because I want to try afterthought heel socks and I didn't have the right accent color. Last week I picked up a ball of grey Regia yarn to go with it and now I can't wait to start. I'm planning to make the heel grey and to do a pretty picot cast on edge in grey as well. These are going on the needles as soon as my Hermione socks are done!

Dubliner Hat

This is my own pattern, but I've had a skein of Cascade 220 left over from my cardigan kicking around since January and I think this would be the perfect project for it. 

bonus project: crochet teething rings

and just for fun, I'd like to try my hand at making this and/or this

okay so I want to know, what have you been knitting this summer? any exciting plans for upcoming Fall projects? as always, Happy Knitting! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

recipe: Farmer's Market Watermelon Salad

oh summer. 

anticipated by all and loved by many. I have such a tumultuous relationship with this season. Let's just say that this Canadian was not made for the heat & humidity that is summer in central Germany... But one thing that never changes is my love of summer food. 

As a child summer tasted of purple popsicles split in half and shared with siblings. Of blackberries growing wild and staining fingers, picked from the bushes behind my grandmother's house. Of sandwiches and chips eaten hastily in the park before running off to play.

These days summer tastes of tomato & mozzarella. of homemade pesto. of grilled veggies. of iced coffee and apple blackberry crumble. When I'm home in Vancouver it tastes of fish and chips, of ice cream cones enjoyed on the beach and cedar plank salmon on the BBQ (thanks dad for that one...)

the past three summers have also tasted like some version of this salad. I've added and omitted ingredients as I've experimented but this is my favorite version so far. I love to make it when the heat of summer is getting to me and I start spending my days strategizing how I can stay out of the sun...

so in case you need something to help you beat the heat and enjoy those muggy days, I thought I would share the recipe here.

you will need:

half a watermelon, cubed
one cucumber, peeled & chopped in half-moons
300g crumbled feta
generous handful of fresh mint & basil
juice of half a lime

throw everything in a bowl and mix well. this salad is best enjoyed soon after making, but it's so delicious, I doubt you'll have leftovers anyways. it works well as a side when grilling or as an afternoon snack all on it's own.