Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Treasury feature!

A very popular feature on Etsy is the Treasury - its a member-curated gallery of 16 items, often with a common theme. Its an honour to have your item featured in a treasury - it means someone likes your work, and it means many more people will have a chance to see your shop.

I was so happy to find out today my flamingo painting (one of my favourite pieces!) was featured on a Treasury this week by Juli  entitled "Delicious Tones"  - check it out! Link

Please check out Juli's shop as well, she has some beautiful pieces of jewelry!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tree Frog in the shop

Just added one of my favourite 9 x 12 illustrations to the shop today. I'll be kind of sad to see him go!

Less stuff in 2013

Starting to think about this year's garden

I've mentioned a number of times my goal to reduce the amount of unnecessary "stuff" in our home, and while a trip a week to Value Village and a number of kijiji listings have helped to reduce what we have, in 2013 I'd like to focus on bringing less into our home in the first place. I'd like to challenge our family to significantly limit what we buy this year, preferably purchasing only the necessities and focusing on experiences over things.

I can't take credit for this idea - it was posted on an online forum I belong to. It was just the push I needed - misery does love company after all. Except, I don't think this challenge will be miserable at all - I predict its going to help change our perspective, ignite some creativity, and free up some money (which is never a bad thing). It is nice to have a place to post our intentions, as well as our successes and challenges. The participants have goals ranging from buying nothing but the necessary, to reducing spending, to learning how to make things rather than buying them.

I'll share my own goals for this challenge:

Homemade gifts.

I really love receiving homemade gifts, particularly for the kids. There's so much meaning to a present when you know someone put their love and their time into it. Sure, I like store-bought gifts as well - it is, after all, the thought that counts - but I really cherish what's been made especially for me. So, I'd like to pass that on. I've been working on my crocheting and sewing skills and  painting up a storm for my Etsy shop these last few months. I can't wait to put those talents to use when its gift-giving time.

Making rather than buying.

Speaking of sewing and crocheting - I think these are skills that will serve me well in this challenge. I've just made myself two infinity scarves for a grand total of $16 worth of yarn. This accessory could easily have cost me twice as much for a lower quality product. Plus, I love wearing something I made myself. We need some every day cloth napkins as we've stopped using disposable napkins and paper towel - rather than go out and buy some, I'm going to find some suitable fabric in the form of thrift store clothes and sew them myself. I'm finding it kind of fun to thrift, refashion or make things myself that I otherwise would have purchased mindlessly. 

Experiences over things.

We plan to travel in 2013 - we're going to visit family in the UK, do some camping, possibly spend a weekend away with friends. In order to do so, we'll have to funnel money towards these goals that might otherwise be spent on things. By choosing to make, fix or do without something, building up the travel savings is going to be much less painful.

While buying very little for an entire year can seem quite daunting, and its certainly not a challenge everyone wishes to take on, I'm really excited to do this. I'm not going to berate myself if I slip up, and I'm not going to force Jay to do it with me - I'm simply going to do my best. Its already going well - I've talked myself out of several purchases already in the last few weeks. So wish me luck! It won't be easy, but I will try and make it fun.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013 Intentions

These first few weeks in January are always a time of reflection, resolutions, planning, vowing to improve ourselves. This year will be better, we declare. Those bad habits? Gone! We'll be self-actualized, fit, and stylish by March! This year is the year!

And then, of course, by February we're elbow deep reality TV, having our second glass of wine for the evening, pretending we're going to hit the gym first thing in the morning.

This is why resolutions always feel so disingenuous to me - half the time I forget I even made them by the end of January's first week. I'd certainly not be hopeful for anything better this year, as my sleep-deprived self often has trouble remembering my own name these days.  This year, I choose instead to look at the coming months and make my best effort to just live my life with intention. I'm not looking to change the world, drop 20 lbs in a month (although that would be nice) or completely re-vamp my entire lifestyle. Instead, I feel drawn to the idea of slowing down a bit, being more of an observer in my own life, savouring these precious last few months of maternity leave and gradually turning my attention to rejoining the working world.

2012 was a year of huge changes - a new baby, a move, a shift in our focus towards becoming more self-sufficient as a family. With all of the busy-ness of day-to-day life, I found myself racing through the days, trying to complete all of my to-do lists yet often procrastinating because I just felt so overwhelmed. Since November, when I started painting again, my days have found a much more natural, joyful rhythm. I've realized there are certain things in my day that make me happy:


Those quiet moments when the little one sleeps, or tucked into bed before turning out the light. I'm devouring a few books a week and lately I'm loving books that focus on real-world issues like food security and social justice.

Check this book out - what I assumed would be a how-to guide on making pickles is actually a comprehensive look at food and culture, as well as social justice and inequality. Simply amazing.

 Making things

My mom made all of her own clothes as a child and young woman. The idea that I have bought my kids' Halloween costumes so far horrifies her. Most of my family can knit the most beautiful things. A good friend of mine crochets gorgeous hats for little ones. My favourite gifts that have been given to my kids have been handmade. My generation has lost an entire set of skills, useful not just for the sake of being frugal but also for recognizing and appreciating quality. I'm trying to re-acquire some of the skills I learned in childhood - crocheting, sewing, knitting. Its great fun.


I was born to draw and paint. I could do it before I could read or write and I have no idea how - I just do it. For so long, I fought this talent of mine - it felt impractical and silly and for years I chose not to nuture it. Having children has made me realize how precious "me" time is and I don't want to waste it in front of the TV. Having my babies has also made me very much aware of who I am and I embrace all of it now, including the fact that drawing, painting, sketching - its breathing to me. Painting again has brought me such joy and even if I never sell a thing in my little Etsy shop, I take great pride in signing my name at the bottom of a piece and listing it. Its my contribution of beauty to the world. My 3 year old loves it too - he asks me each day what I painted that day and we've spent many happy hours drawing together lately.

Its important to me to cultivate these activities in my day as well as ensuring that I take care of myself and my home a little better than I have been. Throwing on a bit of lipstick in the morning makes me feel pretty and I stand a little straighter. Listening to classical music while I drink my morning coffee and the little one crawls around brings me a bit of peace. Taking an extra few minutes to straighten up, forcing myself to vacuum even though I loathe it, taking pride in this home of ours - it makes me feel like I'm taking good care of my family.

So that's what 2013 will be about for me. Slowing down and living with intention. That's all.