Friday, August 14, 2009

bespoke uprising - review

I want to introduce you to a Canadian artist who takes children’s clothing to a whole new level. I adore her prints and clothing designs!

I first met Roisin Fagan at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, where we were ‘booth neighbours’, both showing our original work. Me with paintings, Roisin with these gorgeous quirky and modern designs on children’s clothes under the name bespoke uprising. Roisin has a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) from NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design), and approaches clothing and fabric design from an artist's perspective. It shows!

I was first attracted by the colours of her fabrics – the painter in me loves colour – and was impressed to learn that Roisin dyes her own cloth – no wonder her clothes are more interesting than the usual!

The prints on these fabrics are screenprinted by hand from original drawings by, you guessed it, Roisin. They are quirky and graphic - more like drawing than cartoon, but more like doodle than sketch. Does that make sense? Take a look at some of these and see what I mean:

The designs are also wonderful. I adore the reversible pinafores, and was thrilled for the excuse to purchase one for my best friend, who’s expecting her little girl in September! The one I picked had a large print of a single paper airplane on bright blue on one side, and a print of repeated paper airplanes on red on the reverse. Both the parents-to-be are teachers – how perfect is that?

I have another set of teacher friends expecting their little boy in just a few weeks now, too! For them I chose a blue onesie with a paper airplane motif. Adorable.

I love giving my friends gifts that are handmade. It’s very cool to think that they will have the best-dressed babes in town and not just another Gap baby.

You can pick up bespoke uprising clothing and other goodies (tea towels, wallets, pillows!) at her website, or through her Etsy shop.

And you can enter to win a crazy bunch of bespoke uprising goodies on Roisin's blog!


Hang in there for one more post later today... Here's a teaser... Intrigued yet?

And now, some giveaways...

For baby:
For tot:
  • Get your kiddo up and off to school with this swell giveaway hosted by the Junior Society and sponsored by All Children’s Furniture (who carry everything from kids furniture to toys)! Stop by and enter for a chance to win! Hurry, this give-away ends Wednesday, August 19th at midnight PST!
For ladies:
For anyone:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shopping for laptop bags...

I just spent some time shopping for laptop bags online. I'd only seen ugly and pure function-over-fashion bags at the stores around here and I wanted something a little more me.

I found my bag at TimBuk2... and ordered it... yikes. I'm not much of an impulse buyer... at all... this feels like an impulse buy, and I've been needing one for a while.

At least the bag is on sale for $60 rather than the regular $100. But then, shipping to Canada was $30. Yes, $30 US. That's insane. Currency conversion will bring it up over $100 CDN easily. And there may be duty charges on top of that. Free trade, my butt.

I like how it's more of a backpacky bag than a messenger bag, it doesn't scream, "I'm a laptop! Steal me!" and it can hold more than just my laptop - I don't want to carry a laptop AND a purse!

I hope I made the right choice. I'm just not a spender by nature, this was hard.

Anyway, I'm excited. Just, you know, sharing.

What we did...

Well, we just dug the compost bin in. Right up against the fence. I don't know if we're setting ourselves up for a big fight with long grass later, but for now it works! And no fuss with gravel, landscape fabric, etc.

Did you go outside last night to look at the Perseids meteor shower? We went for a late walk and hung out in our neighbourhood park until about 11:30, lying on a picnic table and looking at the stars. And... we were way too early. I hear the best time was pre-dawn. We did each see a shooting star, though. It was a nice night for star-gazing.

Oh, my mum sent me this, you really must take a second to look at it...

And it's a nice day for giveaways :)

For baby:
For ladies:
  • Win a Momzelle nursing top at Organic Girl! Ends September 14th.
  • Win a B Warmer Hoodie and Nursing Singlet Tank Top (size M) by Boob at {Natural} Mommie! Ends August 23rd.
For anyone:
  • Win your choice of item under $100 from AllModern at Vintage Goodness. Ends tonight at 6pm, what are you waiting for?
  • Win a $30 gift certificate to Skin Free at Frugal and Fabulous! Ends August 21st.
And ladies, do check out my CycleBeads giveaway. It's such a great tool for tracking your cycle, perfect for both natural family planning or trying to conceive!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What to do?

So hubby built this gorgeous cedar compost bin, and we are planning to put it up against the fence in the corner of our yard (planning to, because we still have to level the ground underneath it - in case you can't tell, it's very crooked). The question is, what should we do around the bin at the bottom, between the bin and the fence? If we do nothing, the grass between there will get all high and ugly, and there won't be a way to get in and trim it. Hmm.
The man wants to leave a space just wide enough for the whipper snipper to get in. Since I'm the one doing the whipper snipping around here (mostly, while he mostly does the lawn mowing), I think that's a lousy idea.

Plus, we plan to do paving stones around the entire vegetable garden area - we have a big yard, don't worry, we're not paving the whole thing - and when we get to that (next spring?), we'd have to take out the compost bin to put stones around it. We could put stones behind the two sides now, but then we haven't chosen our stone yet for the big project.

Or we could just take out the strips of sod and put in a lining of landscape fabric and then gravel - but hubby thinks grass would come through that anyway.

Any ideas?

While you're thinking about it, go enter some giveaways :)

For baby:
  • Win a SillyBillyz pocket bib from Bobux at The Nurse Mommy. Ends August 23rd.
For anyone:
For ladies:
And ladies, do check out my CycleBeads giveaway. It's such a great tool for tracking your cycle, perfect for both natural family planning or trying to conceive!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Banana Loaf Joy

Not much makes me happier than something yummy from the oven. I love baking, but have rarely ventured into cakes - I usually do bread, cinnamon rolls, muffins, or quickbreads. One of these days I will tackle cakes. I am not crazy about icing (I know, that's nuts, right?), although I do love a good moist cake. One day!

For today, though, I'm making a Banana Pecan Loaf from The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book. My hubby loves bananas, but sometimes doesn't finish the bunch before they start to get those brown spots. When that happens, I freeze them. But here's my tip - when freezing bananas, take a second to peel and slice the bananas into your freezer bag or container before sticking them in the freezer. It makes using them later so much easier, you don't have to deal with a brown skin that falls to pieces and a mushy, slippery banana. I usually pack 2-3 bananas, sliced, together in one bag - enough for any of my banana muffin or loaf recipes. Then I can just pull it out when I get up in the morning and leave it in the sink to thaw. By mid-morning the bananas are thawed and ready to go!

Oh, by the way - the Spicy Pickled Beans (from Recipezaar) and Spicy Pickled Beets (from my Small Batch Preserves cookbook) are a hit! Hubby was unsure about the beans, not being a big fan of beans, but one bite of these hot and pickly morsels had him hooked.

Okay, enough foodie rambling. Here are some giveaways for today!

For baby:
For anyone:
  • Win some Crunchy Clean laundry detergent at Your Mama Reviews. It comes in great scents like Buttercream Cupcake! Mmm. Ends August 18th.
  • Win a Hain Celestial healthy foods pack at MomFuse! Ends August 14th.
  • I know you've been seeing this out there in blogland today - win a pair of Ugg boots at Whooga Boots by posting their badge on your blog. I hear they're comfy! ugg boots

Monday, August 10, 2009

Me in a magazine?!

Yes, really! And no, I'm certainly not modeling!!!

One of my own recipes is published in the September issue of Best Health Magazine. It's on page 103! The really cool part is that although it's in the reader submitted section, one of the editors had actually contacted me to ask me to submit a recipe. This was way back in April!

With a little fine-tuning of the story and the recipe over the following months, today I received the latest issue of Best Health in the mail and opened it up to see my recipe! Very cool.

The recipe is a long-time favourite of mine. It's based on a dish I had while traveling in Spain. I've modified it over the years and it has become a go-to dish for us that is very nutritious, filling, quick to make, and of course, delicious! What else? Well, I'm vegetarian, so this is a vegetarian dish (not vegan - it does contain butter!). It's kind of a comfort-food, homey dish that will satisfy the hungriest carnivore and not leave them asking, "Where's the meat?"

So what is this magical recipe? It's "Arabian" Spinach. It contains spinach (of course), chick peas, and a yummy butter and broth sauce that is richly flavoured, all served over nutty brown rice. Sound good? IT IS! :)

I hope that if you pick up the magazine you will try my recipe. I'd love to hear how it turns out for you and if you love it as much as we do!

Pickles and more

Yesterday I made pickled beans and pickled beets (the beans from our garden, the beets from the farmer down the road), while my husband built an amazing cedar compost bin. The composter is not quite finished (he ran out of screws), but it is beautiful. I'll post a photo of it once it's finished and installed in the yard! Meanwhile, here's a pic of the fruit of my labour:
Yes, only 6 jars of beets (from 4 lb, untrimmed) and two jars of beans (from a quart basket). The recipe for the Spicy Pickled Beets is from a Small Batch Preserves book that I have and love (I think it's the same as this one, although mine has a different cover), and the other two recipes (Classic Pickled Beets and Spicy Pickled Beans) are from RecipeZaar, which has become my go-to site for recipes.

Some giveaways to share for today as well:

For baby:
  • Win a $75 gift certificate to Micah & Co. at My Mom's View. Ends August 17th.
  • Win a $100 gift certificate to Zutano's Itzy Bitzy Boutique at tout-est-des-roses. Ends August 24th.
  • Win a $150 gift certificate to Learning Toys (a Canadian company!) at My Mom's View. Ends August 17th.
  • Win a baby star “rock the tote” and a gDiapers starter kit of biodegradable refills and two pairs of little gpants at Project Nursery. Ends August 14th.
  • Win an Evenflo Snugli Hug carrier at Mom Central! Must register with the site to enter. Ends August 23rd.
  • Win an Evenflo Snugli Sway carrier at Mom Central! A neat design. Must register with the site to enter. Ends August 23rd.
  • Win an Evenflo Triumph car seat at Mom Central! Must register with the site to enter. Ends August 23rd.
  • Win an Evenflo Symphony car seat at Mom Central! Must register with the site to enter. Ends August 23rd.
  • Win an Evenflo Mimi Neo pacifier (35 winners!) at Mom Central! Must register with the site to enter. Ends August 23rd.
  • Win an Exergen Temporal Scanner at My Mom's View. Ends August 14th.
  • Win a set of Bummas wipes at Mommy Reviewed! Ends September 6th.
For ladies:
  • Win two boxes of Evenflo Comfort Select Disposable Nursing Pads (24 winners!) at Mom Central! Must register with the site to enter. Ends August 23rd.
For anyone:
  • Win a $25 gift certificate to Amelie Jo (organic baby and adult clothing) at My Organized Chaos. Ends August 18th.
  • Win $60 worth of Art and Cook products from AllModern at Baba's Farm Life. Ends August 14th.
  • Win a pretty Blue Flora Vase Set by notNeutral at Little Pink Magnolia. Ends August 14th.
And ladies, do check out my CycleBeads giveaway! It really is a great tool for tracking your cycle, natural family planning or trying to conceive!