Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For the Love of...

Slugging up my neighbors rickety steps to their suite located above our own, I was cursing the abysmal soundproofing between the floors in our 100 year old house. It was 6:00 in the morning, and apparently a herd of elephants had been let loose upstairs. One of the toughest parts of living in close quarters is learning to maintain peace with your neighbors. There is a part of me that wanted to knock on their door and shout, "For the love of God and your fellow man, shut-up!" However, my family and I have chosen this community we live in and we want to be friends with our neighbors. So I knocked on the door, the neighbors answered, and I very politely and apologetically told them they were being brutally loud and please, please, please don't wake up my baby.

 Their response was equally polite and apologetic,  sorry we're headed out for a hike.

Have a good trip (really I mean it).

My neighbors have seen me in my PJ's more times than I can count. Not always from complaining at their door in the wee hours of the morning but because of the common laundry room, entrance ways and large and potentially scandalous kitchen window.

The neighbors upstairs are not the only noise polluters, we are guilty too. Levi has the very bad habit of throwing his soothers overboard when he wants to get out of his crib in the morning. The soothers land with an obnoxious clatter on the laminate flooring. We are in dialogue with our neighbors about putting in carpet. Life would surely be easier if we lived in the suburbs, in our own place with reasonable distance between our neighbors. Instead we choose to live like a pack of sardines in the city. Why oh why?

I want to answer that question. There is something profoundly beautifully about learning to live with other people. And not necessarily people I would normally choose to be my friends. Living in community fosters respect, love and gives us a mirror in which to see our own flaws. I have learned to be more patient and understanding, rather than to simmer with annoyance and demand that people be more like me.

If my neighbors and I didn't get along we would also face some nasty problems. Example: Our toilet broke and couldn't be fixed right away. Personally, peeing in a bush is not an option. Thankfully, we could use the neighbors. Or one of the many times we have locked ourselves out of the house and needed to borrow the neighbor's ladder to climb through an open window. Another time my neighbor's car wouldn't start and we lent him ours for the day. We've also had some of our neighbors babysit, saving us from parental melt-down.

Sometimes at night Ben and I lie in our bed, the sound of lead footsteps over our head, the strum of a guitar down below, and loud but lovely Greek conversation next door, and we say to each other, "I love this neighborhood."

Friday, September 24, 2010


Levi's first discernible word was wheel, followed by truck or "ruck" as he likes to say. "Ruck" is better than...well you know. As you can imagination Levi loves any and all motor vehicles, especially when they appear in books. That's why our new favorite books are the Little Blue Truck series. The stories are incredibly sweet and contain moral lessons for wee ones.

What initially drew me to these books were the illustrations. There is genuine care and effort put into the artwork, reminding me of nights spent sitting on mommy or daddy's lap while being read to sleep. I picked up copies at Kids Books in Kitsilano. I may love clothes but my favorite store is Kidsbooks. I could spend hours browsing through their unbelievable selection. I can go there in a terrible mood and come out smiling. In fact, I think I might give up "grown-up" books altogether and allow my imagination to be reborn through children's stories.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Comforts of Couture

 As a stay-at-home mom it is a breath of fresh air to leave behind my responsibilities for the day and immerse myself in the activities of the couture studio. The beauty of the couture studio is that while we work on our garments we also build community. My teacher, Blossom not only instructs in couture but mentors her students in life. Along with the sound of the rippling of fabric and the dropping of pins is the sound of conversations about everything, from philosophy to fashion.

Blossom is from Iran as are some of her students. Farsi is an extremely poetic and beautiful language. I love to lose myself in my project with Farsi, almost like music, in the background.  Even though Blossom is incredibly accomplished at her craft she demonstrates humility in how she cares for her students. I've never gone to the studio without being offered tea and delicious goodies. Blossom also makes gourmet lunches. I told her in absolute truth the last time I was there that the food she served was the best thing I had ever eaten: Roasted, stuffed peppers and tomatoes, and for desert, a pear marinated in the juice of cherries! My mouth waters just thinking about it. Blossom makes me eat a lot and take my time. I think she knows that my meals usually consist of the regurgitated food served up by my 16 month old.

I am completing the finishing touches on my blouse and dreaming of the next project. I'm feeling inspired by the freshness of Thakoon's designs for his Spring 2011 runway show.

I love the ruffles on this dress (Notice how I made it G-rated)!  I always hope that inspiration will lead to individual expression rather than plagiarism.  I think the bottom of this dress would make an amazing skirt. Maybe in black for winter...

*Model: Sofie Srej. Photo:Monica Feudi/ via

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oh My!

The Sartorialist recently did a post titled, What Chic Americans Wear to Workout, New York. 

 The first thing I thought when I saw this picture was, "That girl needs her diaper changed." I'm not an expert on fashion but doesn't it look like this is what she's sporting underneath those bottoms?

*Random baby bum off google images

Saturday, September 11, 2010


A few months ago I was bemoaning our sad kitchen nook. This nook was a dumping ground for miscellaneous. During his vacation my wonderful husband transformed it into a beautiful dining space. Already we have shared many deep and meaningful times around the table with friends and family. Here are some before and after pics.



To make the table and benches Ben used 2x6's and glued them together to look like large planks of solid wood. He then stained them and coated the wood with kitchen grade, water based varathane. This was a cheap way to make something beautiful. The legs of the table are sawed to fit, recycled Ikea legs. I have to say, my husband has some pretty sick skills. Carpentry is one of them. 

I painted the walls, once Levi was in bed, over very, very many days. Eventually I plan to add a cool light fixture, some pillows and art on the wall, but much like painting this could take me a while. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


How can infinite joy come in such a small package? Levi is fresh from a nap, happy to see his mommy and daddy, loving his pear. The simplicity of his joy is contagious. 

Monday, September 6, 2010


I wore a summer dress in an autumn colour for my dear friend Laura's wedding. This dress is my adieu to summer. It seemed very appropriate given the sudden crispness in the air and crunch of leaves underfoot. Farewell summer, I will miss you. 

*Club Monaco Dress.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Business on Top, Party on Bottom

I was a size six pre-pregnancy and since I've been working my but off to get in shape I arbitrarily decided my body must be back to a six. Ha, ha, jokes on me! Guess who got stuck in a size six dress in the H & M changing room? I broke into a panicky sweat trying to contort my body out. I made it, but not before I'd imagined all the potential scenarios, every one ending in me looking like an idiot.

And then I did it again.

Maybe this size six dress will fit differently... what's that song with the line, you do it to yourself!?

A while back I mentioned I'm taking a couture pattern drafting course. Thank God I'm learning to make custom fit garments. They come with a can't-get-stuck guarantee. This is the blouse I've been working on.

The fabric is a silk blend from Ann Taylor. I gravitate towards darker colored clothing and then add a pop of color with accessories. The blouse fits more like a jacket so I've tried it with a belt to create a severe waistline.

The hand-finishing techniques I've been taught are extraordinary. The inside of the blouse is almost prettier than the out! If you sew, you will appreciate the bias binding on the neck and hem, as well as the Chinese finish on the facing. The center front pieces are interfaced with silk organza.

I still need to add the sleeves, which are going to have great poof, and finish the hem. The blouse is all business but I keep mentally pairing it with distressed, skinny jeans. I like the idea of business on the top, party on the bottom.

I can't wait to reveal the end result!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Geek Inside

Now that I've paid off my substantial debt to the Vancouver Public Library I've been able to sign-out a couple must reads. The first is entirely practical, 397 Ways to Save Money by Kerry K. Taylor. This book is fantastic because Kerry lived and rented in Vancouver for a number of years and so understands the cost of living in our freakishly expensive city. Her book brings out the miser in me. I love her ideas on how to save money through making your own cleaners, baby wipes, laundry can make just about everything from scratch. Who knew? Check out Kerry's website at for more great ideas.

The second book I'm reading is The China Study. My geek side is eating up the provocative ideas presented in this book. Based on research by the authors, T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II, The China Study uncovers the connection between diet and disease. In particular it presents the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet in promoting health and preventing illness. If you're tired of diet books with no empirical research to back up their theories (Boo Atkins, boo!) I strongly recommend this book. There are charts and graphs galore! You may even walk away from this book into the world of vegetarianism/veganism.

*Make sure to swallow a grain of salt before each reading.