day 10: planning

It doesn't take long for us to take down the tree once Christmas is over, though there's this strange feeling of having to ask "is it over already?" Truth be told, I didn't really go all out this season, as my typical hobbies during the holidays are both baking and watching movies. I barely did much of either, and somehow I'm quite alright with that. Perhaps it marks a shift in change, which seems to be the theme for my hopes of next year.

Resolutions are more like pie crust promises to me (easily made, easily broken) but because I've been working on altering my reluctant nature by learning to respect myself as an individual, I have a few goals that I am looking forward to achieving in the new year. There are quite a few to be honest, but I think with developing patience and determination to believe in myself, it'll all work out in the end. I've already started the work, so I'm ahead of the game in some regard. It's attitude that also gets you to where it is that you need to be, and that's what I've been working on for months now as I slowly urge myself out of my shell. If you don't believe in what you do or want to do, you stay in one spot; and that is quite the summary of my year, this year.

There's no harm in saying that I wish to make next year better than this one, but there is a lot of work to be done in order to achieve that. Like our softly lit and relaxing Christmas tree that once stood in our living room, which I admired mainly on evenings by myself, I look to gain that inner glow and shine.


day eight...continued: reflection

So what was Day 6 and Day 7 about? Well to start, Day 6 was another great opportunity for sharing what I enjoy most; making stuff. I will say that some of my attempts at things didn't fall through (new recipes, new patterns) but instead of getting down about it like I normally would, I looked at it as a new lesson on learning and personal growth. Like how the butternut squash bisque turned out! mmm.

I enjoy practicing positivity in the mix because it creates longer lasting memories to keep with me for years to come, as I'm sure not every holiday season will go effortlessly no matter how hard one may try. Sometimes it is that added stress that makes the holidays what they are and can somehow be enjoyed under the deep breaths of frustration. There were no place cards or table setting that I had anticipated for, but the company to follow and how the evening was enjoyed, those minor details were easily forgotten.

In practicing my own traditions and being accepted for the things I wish to share with others, it is a great gift to receive in seeking personal growth and a sense of accomplishment in being myself. Sometimes we seek so hard to please others that we can lose sight of the simplicity around us, which can so easily be found in the company of those we care most about.

To sit around the table and talk, to see that I've made my own mark in Ian's family (with broccoli being added to the table), to share and laugh casually (and competitively on my part, playing Pictionary *eep!) it's a certain joy I haven't experienced in years; the ability to be accepted and accepting all in the same go.

As year 2 approaches, for time spent in our home, I can say that the word home is becoming more definite and clear in my life. Where my feet rest, where my heart is, who is welcome to be a part of it. That's what the holidays brought to me this year. A better view, a better perspective, a better understanding for the present and what we choose to make of it. It was a much more fulfilling year to just let things go with the flow, and surprise myself with how comforting that familiarity has become.

* Even if making Christmas stockings on the first go meant a lot of four lettered words and throwing of scissors..
I wouldn't want to change this year's experience one bit. Now back to taking advantage of my remaining days at home for the holidays.

What made your holidays special this year?

day eight: laying still

It is kind of funny how the holidays roll by in a massive blur, leaving you wondering in the end where those last two days just went. With the sun shining through the windows and a bit of snow meltage as predicted, we're both settling down indoors to relish in the silence and ability to say that sitting still is much allowed.

I hope your holidays were just as great as ours were.


day six: crunch time

With so much to do still for today I will most likely share the process once it is over. We have quite a few things to do before this evening's Christmas Eve, hosted at our place. This marks our second Christmas in the house!

Most of the extra work I have left is my own doing, as I always like to set the table and do some crafty bits- which causes my friends to call me Martha. It's just what I enjoy doing; place cards, napkins, papery decorative bits, a slight theme in the mix, goody bags. I don't get to host parties like this so often! And so after staying up until 3am making napkins and paper baggies - for the chocolate truffles I still have to make- I have to say that it's the higher heart rate that makes the holidays what they are. It wouldn't be the same without it.

Happy Holidays from all of us!


day five: stockings

Though my first attempts at Christmas stuff, so far, hasn't been so glamorous (both baking and sewing went poorly) I am happy to at least say that we have some stockings on our mantel. I didn't get too hard on myself about this one since I had originally picked a pattern that was much too confusing for a beginner, equipped with things like inner lining, complicated seams and a patience I couldn't imagine mustering up in the mix. So because I wanted to just get comfortable with the machine and make the experience fun and less frustrating than my first attempt at sewing, I decided to go for the easiest method I could; trial and error.

First, I made up my own little template to trace around so that when I followed with the machine, I'd have a nice pencil line for guidance in keeping things straight (or at least appear to be straight from a distance* Wink.) Then I pinned things down, left it at that for the night and then pulled out the machine the next morning, after some deep breathing and telling myself to take my time and enjoy it for all that I could. Over thinkers sometimes need to shut things off before they turn things back on again.

So it looks like Ikea has saved Christmas this year, as we now have two stockings in bold terrific patterns hanging from our mantel. The fabric is sturdy and affordable so there was no stress in mind while I gave it another whirl. No inner lining, no fancy seams, just utter simplicity at its best. To add a little bit of flair for detail I sewed on a little bit of ribbon (for hanging) and a button (for fun.) I love fat buttons.

And so, here are my first stockings.

day four: baking

When making my favorite Christmas cookies, I always have to have a tea handy and my two favorite ingredients to put aside and smell when I get the chance. Any recipe that calls for both vanilla and almond extract is a keeper. I could spend all day smelling them both.

With my trusty mixer I set to work and blankly stare as I feel like I should be doing something while the machine does all the work. I guess that's what the tea is for?

I was a little miffed that the first (and later second) attempt didn't turn out so hot, and so I looked for the positive in the situation. Like my new ceramic tea spoon set. I love the little tsp (to be read as "tisp.")

Though my baking is kind of set back an extra day in planning, I just might have to get back to painting ornaments to zone out the frustration. What would the holidays be without it, right?


day three: ornamenting

Painting ornaments is something my family and I used to do, for years, as a way of relaxing and slowing down over the holidays. With some quiet Christmas tunes in the background, a fresh brewed coffee (or Pepsi back in the day) my mom, sister, aunt and I would sit around the kitchen table and set to work on what felt like hours of silent concentration.

As an adult I can now see how important that momentary escape from the holiday chaos can be, as I have a list still to go by which has me a little nervous that it's the 23rd already tomorrow. Instead of grow frantic and try to complete everything at once, like I usually do, I instead sat down and followed through with my family's greatest tradition.

I may not have painted so much as glued and chopped up crossword puzzles, but the task itself was a great reminder of how important it is to slow down and just let your hands do the walking/talking/fidgeting/cutting/pasting/sticking to the table. It was a wonderful escape that I plan on taking again later today.

Here's to family traditions!

day two: drawing of dots

Though this is an ongoing project that will probably take a lot of time before it is finalized, I thought I'd share a little bit of what has been going on in the world of writing, as it has been my reason for slacking in the blogging department. Like I've said, silence is often a good thing around here.

It started shortly before the fall when I got myself a little book on star gazing. I'd always been fascinated by the night sky, thanks to my grandfather and what he taught me about it as a kid, but never quite knew how to connect-the-dots on my own, so to speak. It seems like an easy idea to just look in the book, figure out the constellation and run outside to see where it is, right? Not exactly. After a few nights of running back and forth from the house- for light to compare the sky with the dots in the book- star gazing wasn't exactly a relaxing effort.

After months of dot drawing, mapping out the sky in directional patterns, learning the stories while putting my own twist of memorization in the mix, I began to see some unintentional progress in my work that has me looking ahead without hesitation or reluctance, and wondering what to do first in pursuing the final piece.

Whether it be an illustrated story or another form of media, I haven't decided. At least I know that there is a lot to look forward to in the new year, and a lot of little dots to be connected, as I learn about myself as an artist, writer and budding nerd. Oh yes, it's so cool when you tell your friends that you're going outside to find the Great Square of Pegasus.

* This also explains the guy with the goat. It's Auriga. One of the first constellations I found above our house.


day one: kicking back

Before I get started on going all out, I thought it was appropriate to slow down and catch up on rest from this week. It was long, stressful and way too full of negative energy that I just need to let it out and let back in, in order to find my sense of balance and enjoy the holidays for what they're worth. Of course as soon as a blanket is laid out, Tim is there to help weigh it down and keep it extra warm- which I always find amazing that he knows no matter where I am in the house, that his assistance is required.

When it comes to the holidays there is a piece of me that grows rather blue inside, as the reality of my situation is that I don't have much family to hold onto anymore. To think that the holidays were once shared with a family of nearly 18 people under one roof, it's an unsettling feeling at times to see that the ones remaining within grasp are but 2. In some ways the holidays have been a time of grief, letting go and dealing with change as each year can be a challenge within itself depending on my mood or reaction to the situation.

Learning to take what is in the now and share it with others has only recently become a part of my holiday traditions, where even if I go at it alone I feel that sense of grounding that I haven't had in years. Familiarity is becoming more prominent in my day to day, which is a lovely feeling to grow on, since having lived in 17 homes in my life, I had no idea before how to settle and say "this is where I am to stay" and actually trust it. The pieces are restructuring before my eyes.

To see that I have my own home, my own space, with my own little family to grow with, it's a great thing to celebrate and be rid of that usual emptiness that doesn't need to be there anymore. It's true that there's no place like home for the holidays, and only recently am I beginning to see just where my home actually is.

I love these moments of learning, as it is a gift within itself to see that I no longer have to pick up and become reacquainted with another unfamiliar space and adjust to being who I think I am all over again. It's easy to lose sight of yourself within so much unnecessary, internal chaos. And so, with the help of a trusty blanket and a fuzzy little anchor to keep me grounded and bring me back down to earth, I can see that there is way too much to be happy for in the now.

That's a gift I could never exchange.


taming the martha

6 more work days- straight- and I am officially on Christmas break. Hooray! I'm loving the wicked cold that we have been having lately, as it makes me more and more happy to be in that place I call home and look forward to another holiday spent with Ian (and Tim.) I have a lot of holiday bits and pieces to tamper with, so I will make sure to be more active with my writing, as this time of year- as anyone who knows me- is one of my most favorite for the sake of celebrating family, memory, home and comfort... oh, and how can I forget CRAFT! Ornaments, stockings, blankets, felt, baking and more. I've been waiting so anxiously to get my hands on them all.

Just wait until I pull out the Martha and start planning the seating arrangements for this year's Christmas Eve dinner in our home. It's probably enough to make our neighbors nauseous. It's what I do. Patience. 6 more days and the fun begins.


the many lives of Tim

I decided to spare Tim the embarrassment of taking his photo just now, as he lost one of his precious lives by taking a lightning fast dip in the bath tub this evening. I've never seen eyes so big.

It's so hard not to giggle at the sight of skinny legs and spready toes, as he has been drying himself off for the last hour. My sweet boy and his curious ways.


more to come

I have to shake my finger at myself for being so distant with my writing lately, but as I've said before; silence is often a good thing around here.

With the last bits of Christmas stock to still be made and assembled, I'm not quite in the clear for having much time to spare. Almost there. I just made sure to promise myself that I wouldn't repeat last year's situation of catching myself covered from head-to-toe in icing at 3am, while working on my first gingerbread house (which I had waited all month to make) on the eve of December 23rd... when I had just wrapped up my last order for the season. Oh no, there is lots of fun to be had this time around. Until then, let's continue the pace to the end of November.

It's so cool to be prepared!


at last!

It's finally here! I thank you all again for your patience. Dear Libby is up and running. I hope you enjoy it.


visual purging

So how about a sneak peek? I'm coming into week two of my next stage of production, which is so much fun now that we're into making cupcakes.. also known as Libby's "cuppies." I've only touched this pattern briefly and didn't think much of it until I decided to focus on stocking stuffer sizes. And oh what fun these cuppies have been, as I think I've turned into a 7 year old girl again.

To sum up how my mind has been working, try catching yourself in a grocery store, asking what colors on the shelf illustrate to you the word "yummy." Certainly the idea doesn't have to be a constant mission but it lingers in and out at unexpected moments. Like suddenly the next day you're looking at the transit bus driver and wondering what kind of dessert he'd prefer most.

All of the senses lead to so many different sights, and in the same instance the sights lead to different thoughts. How would I make a cupcake look as delicious as ones I've sunk my face into? How could I create a coconut topped cupcake? Carrot cake? Red Velvet? Or what color would taste like maple icing? This is lately why my eyes wander in the middle of a conversation, or I'll randomly start to salivate, or... most importantly, why I may have been caught watching YouTubed episodes of Strawberry Shortcake at 2 am.

It's research!


trick or treat

I've never been afraid of spiders much, though there is a funny part of me that will dodge their territory much the same as I would a stray dog. I have an underlying respect for them somehow, while at the same time it bothers me to have one lingering in my home. And rather than dash one out of my sight when I do find one, as anyone would do with the mechanism of eyes shut and vigorous squishing with a tissue, my intentions lie in getting it outside safely. Like an unwelcome guest who is in need of direction. It's a strange relationship for sure, but I can't lie that I have a rather soft side for them deep down inside.

My fascination with spiders came when I was very little, when my Uncle Jeff came up to me one day whispering suspiciously "Keni, come with me." Often this wasn't a moment to be trusted, as my Uncle was the same sort who would purposely mess my bed after I had made it, wiggle the table while I was coloring and eat dessert slowly and longingly while I had to finish my last few bites of roast beef at dinner. He was a wonderful friend to have growing up, despite my frequent desire to kick him firmly in the shins for being the older brother I never wanted.

On this day he had brought me down to his bedroom window, in the dark little corner of my grandma's basement. A strange privilege within itself, as my cousins and I were never welcome to touch his belongings without a tedious debate or letter of consent on his behalf. But rather than waste my opportunity by asking too many questions, I waited for the silence to be broken. As he smiled the way most 9 year old boys would do, he reached from his sweater and pulled out a small jar, he twisted the lid and lay it down on the sill. In a great hush he told me to watch as a little black bug crept up to a spider's web. "Here she comes," he said, and his eyes grew wide.

He'd named her Charlotte, a name I instantly could relate to, having been in love with the book since before I could read. She was apparently his new pet, a secretive friend of sorts that only he was permitted to tend to. In his world he opened up a new perspective, one that had me instantly caught in the weavings of his thoughts, both curious and slightly disgusting.

In his eyes Charlotte was a master of craft, a delicate 8-fingered hand with a backpack of thread, carried along where ever she went. As we watched the fingers weave its thread and silently slink back into the corner to wait for some privacy, I couldn't help but tilt my head at the new vision that was provided. My fascination has since then remained, while in the same breath "EW!" is much easier to retreat to with flailing hands and hopping on chairs. The imagination, I've discovered, is really what you make of it.

In the spirit of the creepy crawlies, Happy Halloween!



Between coughing marathons, power naps and angry eyebrows there has been a lot going on in the mix of things. It's true that the website still isn't up, as my popular web designer is also down with the bug, keeping us both parked in bed or thrown about the couch wishing someone could take off our heads for a moment of sinus relief. Ah yes, cold season at it's best. I can't complain too much as it's been a very long time since I've had a full blown cold. And even with this one, it hasn't quite knocked me out completely. My hands are still capable of working.

It's been difficult to fill you in as we go, at this point in time, but basically the biggest challenge is finding time to get things finished on Ian's half. My part of the equation has been done for quite some time - aside from the approaching Christmas frenzy that I have already begun to prepare for- but for my consistently indisposed web designer who has been out and about for days on end with work, hockey, more work and more hockey, it's a different story. If only I could slow him down and clone him! For the most part it is all set to go with a few minor details that need to be tested before the final launch. With a little bit of persistence and dropping the hint of "is it done yet?" I was told behind some heavy, bloodshot eye rubbing that it will be up and running very soon.

Thank you all for your understanding and patience!


it begins

I must mention that we've had a little bit of snow recently, as a momentary reminder that busy season is around the corner. Yes it's time to get into elf mode and stock up on supplies - and tea- to prepare for this year's Christmas stock. Eeek! It's unbelievable to think that this time is here. But at least this means I'll have much more to share . . . in between breaths.

Let the fun begin!


looking for time

Things have been moving so fast around here. How did we reach October so suddenly?? And no, there is still no Libby. My humblest apologies for the disorganization it has all turned out to be. Running your own business is a really tough show to keep up with, especially if the one behind the magic is well more than indisposed to help the situation. My popular web designer.

In between freelance, business trips, hockey, family, training, lessons, playing with Tim, painting the house, feeding our bellies, making toys, planning toys, keeping our sanity, we're thinking about the best plan for Libby and how to at least put something out there while we get set for the final result to be launched... without losing any anxiously waiting fans in the process, as time is so precious to many. I do apologize for the delay.

The positive: Christmas product has begun.


skullywag bag

Mary Poppins had a carpet bag, and I now have one of my own. Well not really, but it does make me believe that there's enough room to pack a lamp, mirror and pair of purple shoes in it without noticing. It's wonderful. I feel a little nerdy about the skulls - pirate themes are slightly redundent- but I will say that I love the little anchors. Best bag ever.


castle on a cloud

Another blanket claimed by my dear Tim. This one used to belong to my grandma. It warms my heart to see him love it so much as I do.


bunny love

Eek to chubby, little hands!

I was so happy to receive this photo of Aven meeting her new pink bunny (made by me.) It just makes me giddy, as my first best friend was a bunny named George.

Thanks for sharing, Tracey!


beg pardon

Um, hello? So where is this new Dear Libby site we've been waiting for? Unfortunately there are a few kinks we have to figure out yet still, so humblest of apologies for those who have been waiting. Once everything is set to go, you will be first to know.

Little things to expect with the new site? Well there will -eventually- be a lot more than just toys now that I've opened time by issuing things on a seasonal and very limited basis. I hope that this new approach will allow me more time to focus on my illustration work, bring a more solidified ground for Dear Libby, and maintain that unique appeal that makes handmade craft and illustration oh so enjoyable for everyone.

Hang tight my friends! Thank you for your patience.



As I’ve officially savored my last handful of fresh picked peas from the garden, I can say that my first experience with gardening was rather successful; a pile of peas, heaps of tomatoes, decent carrots and a still slowly progressing zucchini. It was a good summer, and to my surprise one that I'm sort of sad to say goodbye to, for the memories it has brought me in the process.

My grandparents -where my sister and I spent our summers- had an enormous garden in their backyard, where their usual harvest consisted of apples, tomatoes, peas, carrots, potatoes, strawberries, the occasional pumpkin -and never to be forgotten- fists full of raspberries swiped through the slots of the fence of our neighbor's back yard (they invited it, really.) With sticky cheeks and dirty fingers, my sister and I relished in the luxury of natural goodness, passing around a giant soup spoon too big for our stained lips, as we shared a bowl of mashed raspberries on the front step in the blazing heat of summer.

My grandpa was adventurous, child-like and experimental, where he did things like grow cucumbers inside glass bottles, compete with himself for the world’s biggest pumpkin, and see what would come of planting peanuts. He had a glorious imagination, thinking up interesting stories that I’ve always remembered. How long it would take for the centipede to put all of his shoes on, what song bumble bees are humming, what kind of flower I’d be for a day. It was like a secret getaway that only he and I got to share together. Podding peas on the back step together, I was his brown-eyed susan, daydreaming and giggling in the sun.

My grandma was a silent nurturer, as shyness and her stubborn reservation painted an interesting picture when it came to her garden and producing the most beautiful flowers achievable. She had a quirky side, where on clear summer evenings my sister and I would be beckoned to hold a flashlight, while she scouted her front yard for slugs with a spray gun concoction of ammonia and water. It was an interesting side to my grandma to witness, readily aiming her pistol with rubber cleaning gloves and a cigarette in her other hand. Betty was a lady of class. The image alone leaves me laughing to myself, each time I water my daisies in the front yard.

As the summer comes to a close, it continues to take me back in time to when my sister and I were ready to leave our grandparents’ place to go back to school. Though it was quite sad to have to say goodbye to the sanctuary that we’d spent our summers, we always knew it would be there next year. And so, I finish the season with great pride in accomplishment and endless thanks for the memories it has provided me.

Til we meet again.


garden monster

This image makes me consider how children might see vegetables as scary. I like playing creepy with a bowl full of carrots. These pretties came from my garden.



It's different when you're sick as an adult and no one wants to bother taking care of you the way that your mom did when you were a kid. It just isn't cute anymore, since I imagine the sight of my kleenex dried skin, dark circled eyes, and mangled bout of bed head aren't as charming to Ian as I had hoped they would be. It's the throbbing head that makes a person wish they could take off their face to possibly relieve the sinus pressure type of feeling. Blowing my nose leads to dry air coming from both nostrils and the corners of my eyes, leading me next to inspect the space around myself for a possible ear that may have popped off in the process. It's humor, and so unbecoming.

In my two day old outfit of bed land couture, I slink downstairs into the world of the living to somehow stand dizzily in the kitchen to make a warm cup of tea. In my mind, as I stare off in a comatose state induced by approx. 21 hours of sporadic, open mouth, sleep, I remember the days when being sick was much more glamorous. Fuzzy jammies, on the couch, 7up -to sip- with a bendy straw, chicken noodle soup avec ice cube served on a Smurfs lap table, while watching Bed knobs and Broomsticks in between snoozes. *Thanks mom.

Luckily I found a new sort of luxury to help me feel pampered and pretty in between feeling like a heavy, bedridden sac of potatoes. By total coincidence I recently ordered some more soaps and salts from Rocky Mountain Soap Company, including salt for Cold&Flu. I was so happy to test it out, and I can't say I can complain since it made me feel soft and relaxed once I nestled back into my body groove for another 21 hours of sleep.

I'm the best smelling zombie there is, and I am definitely on the mend.


tip-toe through the daisies

I imagine this must have been Alice's perspective.


working hardly?

Ever find yourself flustering about how little time there is in a day to get things accomplished, while in the same breath you catch yourself wasting precious time, taking photos of pencil crayons balancing on the windowsill?

September 12 is approaching.


less is more

We like to keep birthdays pretty low key around here, as Ian and I agree that birthdays are - in our minds - just any other day. When it is my own it's simpler for me to say, but for someone like Ian, I believe it's much more than just any other day.

Happy Birthday, Love.


one more

There seems to be so much going on at once these days, it's hard for me to know where to begin in sharing everything. And where has all of the time gone? Are we really in August? With my self made deadline of September 12 approaching, it's starting to sink in how much work I have yet to do until then. And not to mention that the fall is just around the corner, already. Already?

As the sun has decided to hide out for the remaining bit of this lovely long weekend, giving us a nice cool breeze to let in through the house, I can't help but be happy to have one more day to spend catching up on things. . . like blanket time with Tim.

Happy Long Weekend.



A 30 day challenge is what we've decided to throw at ourselves, for the sake of shaking the summer time lazies. When it comes to the summer Ian and I both tend to hibernate, which for some is difficult to understand. It could be our Winnipeg genes speaking, since the winter seems to bring out more of our competitive sides. For Ian it's hockey and for me it's the challenge of the weather, as I'm more likely to head out for a two hour walk during a snow storm.

To turn things around a little we thought we'd bring a new challenge into our lives by going with the season and making something of it. 30 days of running/walking in August. Oh yes, I'm well aware that it's not going to be pretty on my part since I melt standing still in the heat of the sun. But, if it's the challenges of the weather that I enjoy in my life then I best keep that in mind while I take myself outside for the next 30 days of summer.


rewards of summer

I cannot believe how far along my garden has come since just a month ago. As I was out there this morning weeding and pruning, I came upon a little surprise or two that I had failed to notice before. Not only do I see a tomato -or six, or seven- growing along the inside of my (enormous beast) tomato plant, but my zucchini has big great yellow blossoms, my carrots have lush green tops and against the sun I can see the silhouette of sweet little peas growing in their pods. I nearly jumped up and down as I surveyed the progress that has now become so prominent in our backyard.

My tomato is oozing out past the chicken wire and the zucchini gradually makes me nervous as it continues to grow inch upon inch as the sun shines more and more powerful each day. Where is it all going to fit, I wonder.

With the sound of trickling water from the sprinkler, a cold pink lemonade and a pair of worked in gardening gloves as I settle down to read on the front step and admire the sounds of summer, I can't help but wonder how I didn't see it all before. I've found new love in this season, and much like my garden, it continues to grow.