Friday, January 25, 2013

Isabel's Portrait shoot

A few days ago I had an opportunity to do some portraits of an old acquaintance. Isabel used to babysit my monkeys way back when they were teeny tiny. She was, I think, the first babysitter they ever had. Isabel lives in Austria and is a very keen skier. I was so pleased when she contacted me a while back to see if I might be able to take some photos of her while she was over here visiting Canada. We arranged to meet in Banff and spent a fun hour playing in the snow and drinking hot tea. It was interesting for me shooting just one person as opposed to a whole family but Isy is game for anything and seemed to like all my ideas. She was worried that she didn't have any shoes to wear for the shoot so I bought along my authentic Canadian mukluks for her to try and I think along with the snow and the old cabins, they really complete this little picture of true Canadiana :) Here are a few of my favourite photos from our little shoot. 

Sunday, January 06, 2013

You see that spec.......

Yeah that spec waaaay off in the distance? Thats Neil. He's snowkiting ( zipping around on a snowboard propelled by the force of the wind against his giant 12 metre kite). I would've liked to get a closer picture but I was on a frozen lake in temperatures of minus a billion (without factoring in the windchill) trying to amuse a 3 and 5 year old for the about 3 hours. They refused to move closer. 

I've zoomed in on this one for you as much as I can but it's not much better really. You'll pretty much just have to take my word for it.....that's Neil and he's snowkiting.

While he was off doing that, we just hung around on the frozen lake. It was weird actually, even though it was flippin freezing, at one point I felt as if I was lazing on a beach. I was sitting there taking in the scenery and trying to keep my eyes on Neil over in the distance while the kids played in the snow as if it was the sand. It just reminded me of similar days in Tofino without quite so many layers :) Weird sensation but quite nice all the same. 

We cleared patches of snow to get a better look at the ice.

Then we tried to dance on it as if we were figure skaters.

Then we cleared even bigger patches so we could check out the cool patterns and see if we could see any thing stuck in the ice like fish or  mermaids.

We got a bit cold so we cracked open the thermos for a hot drink.

We were still getting colder, especially Bel, she's got very little meat on her you see, so I put her in Neil's kite bag to warm up.

She liked it in there and asked me to zip it up.
So I did.  

She was happy for a while but them she started to cry so I sent Seb off across the frozen wasteland towards Daddy with a walkie talkie and the giant (for him) bag over his shoulders while I picked up Isobel and hiked back to the truck with her crying all the way. I didn't have my snowshoes and believe me it's hard work to walk through thick snow carrying a three year old in distress. As we passed the trees we saw the same Mamma and baby moose from the previous time. I guess this is their favorite spot too. I checked back over my shoulder a couple of times just to make sure Seb was headed in the right direction. He made it to Daddy but apparently had a hissy fit on arrival so Neil's hike to the car was no better than mine in the end. Once the kids were strapped into their car seats all warmed up and happy (thank goodness for the in-car DVD! It can change a situation from chaos to calm in no time! ) Neil and I got to sit and enjoy a hot drink on a snow bank out of the wind without any crying or shouting in the background and he told me all about the fun he'd just had with his kite :) 
Sometimes it's hard work to get out and do things with little kids but in my opinion it's always better to give it a try than not to bother at all. We were all ok in the end..........
.....except for Neil who suffered frost nip in a few fingers ( silly boy was so excited about kiting, he forgot to put his gloves on until his hands went numb). Not to worry, it's been a week now and he's got the feeling back in all but one finger tip!
 If you ask him, he'll tell you it was worth it. 

Friday, January 04, 2013

Sustainable Snack Bags.....

In my efforts to reduce the amount of plastic packaging we use I purchased some Lunchskins a little while ago. I really liked these cute little reusable snack bags with a velcro closure but have since lost them :( Neil always takes stuff like this to work and forgets to bring them back, tut tut! I'm trying hard to break this habit of his. Anyway a while after I bought the lovely lunchskins I came across this tutorial by Amy Karol to make a similar thing yourself. This version doesn't use velcro, it has a simple overlapping envelope opening that does a perfectly good job of preventing snack leakage. Anyway I've been meaning to make them for ages and now that I've finally unpacked my sewing machine it seemed like a good time.  Another thing spurring me on is that Seb's school is a Green School and they want all snacks and lunches to be garbage free. I'm all for garbage free too so there was another reason to whip up some snack sacks! I choose a really cute food inspired japanese fabric and just ordered a couple of fat quarters. I think I'll easily be able to make 3 snack bags from each fat quarter. 

They are perfect for dry snacks like crackers but work just as well for sandwiches. You just bung them in the washing machine to give them a good clean. The kids love them because they are cute and so far we haven't lost them!

I also got to try out my own personal sewing labels, I got a whole bunch of them as a really sweet birthday present from my sister. I didn't really need to bother sewing a label on my snack bags but I just really, really wanted to see how they looked  :)

I knit a lot of hats....

As predicted I knitted a lot of pom pom hats this Christmas. (If you are a really good knitter please look away, I'm know my knitting isn't exactly amazeballs yet but I'm really enjoying it regardless).  First I did one each for Seb and Bel, then my brother-in-law Paul, nieces Molly and Violet, one for Seb's teacher and then my brother-in-law Philip (who actually requested his, yippee!). As is the way with these things they definitely improved with each new version (Sorry Seb, oh and Philip, yours (modelled by Neil below) is on it's way to you and it's my favourite so far! I LOVED knitting them! It's so cool to create something that is actually functional for someone else. I'm keeping their heads warm and that's a very important job! I'm also pretty sure it's nice to receive a gift that is hand made with a lot of love.  I really like this particular style of hat (hence I knitted it for everyone!) I think it suits everyone and it totally takes on the personality of the wearer so it looks cute on kids and fun and stylish on adults. I also realized that I have a bit of a problem. I've become a yarn addict. And unfortunately for me I seem to have expensive taste in yarn. Theres something about a lovely hand dyed hank of merino that just gets me and I spend way too much time yarn gazing on etsy or on fancy fibre websites lately. I'm also having dreams of one day owning my own flock of Alpacas! Wouldn't that be something :)
Oh well at least for now it's a productive addiction! 

Emerald Lake

The day before New Years Eve.....New Years Eve Eve if you will, we took a little trip to Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia. It's a very special place for us. It's a place we've visited a lot ever since our very first week as Canadian residents. It's where, five and a bit years ago, we got married surrounded by all the people we love.  It also happens to be where, a year later, Seb toddled his first steps! It's not too far form where we live now, just a hop, skip and a jump along the Trans Canada and you're there. In fact it took us almost exactly an hour which in Ralston road trip terms is like popping to the shops :) We had planned on hiking around the lake but as it turns out I had come down with a nasty cold and could barely breathe let alone hike. Instead, we had a wander down memory lane. We showed the kids the spot where our wedding ceremony was held and as we walked we talked about the different memories of  all the people from the week of our wedding. When you live thousands of miles from where you grew up you don't get many places like this where there are reminders of familiar faces around every corner. There will probably not be another time when all the people that were with us that week will all be together again. I have so many vivid memories from that time, it's almost as if I was trying extra hard to squeeze it all into my mind and keep it there, perfectly crystal clear. I remember sitting on a warm September day on the patio of Cilantro's (in the photo above) with my sister and Paul laughing and drinking icy cold drinks. I remember greeting my brother and Mum and Dad at the door to the Lodge and seeing their faces as they caught their first real-life sight of my huge 8 month pregnant belly! I remember the warm feeling I got every time I walked into the breakfast room and saw familiar faces at every table. Sitting around the fire pit talking to my friend Caroline so amazed that she and the others would travel this far to come and see me! Sorry for rambling on.....I really do love this place and I think it's pretty cool that we can just pop there for an afternoon now that we're living in Canmore.

The little store on the lake shore where we all rented canoes the day before the wedding.....

The bridge that Neil and his crazy brothers jumped off into the cold, glacier-fed, Emerald coloured water.....

The fire pit where everyone sat during the speaches....

Here's Neil and Seb in the exact spot in which we said our vows. Seb was pretty fascinated by the whole thing and seemed to take great pleasure in announcing to every single passer by, waiter, receptionist, lodge guest, baby, and even to a pretend Santa that "we got married here!" oh and of course he had to add "I was in Mummy's tummy!", thanks for that Seb, announce to everyone that we had a shotgun wedding why don't you! I won't tell you what Isobel tried to tell people. Believe me, it was far more embarrassing!

Here's the very first cabin we ever stayed in......awww, I wish I could keep it....

And the stunning Mount Burgess......

Before getting on our merry way we had a mulled wine by the fire in the lodge (by we I mean I, Neil was driving and Seb and Bel weren't in the mood for booze)  and headed into Golden for dinner. Other than feeling a bit under the weather it was a lovely end to the year and I can't wait to go back after the thaw and see that beautiful Emerald water again. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Welcome to 2013!

2012 was a funny old year. I think I learnt a lot. I learnt that I like to knit :) but I also learnt that no matter how hard you try you can't always make things happen just the way you want. I'm not really making any specific resolutions this year, I just want to focus on being positive and being open to whatever comes next.....

Happy New Year all!