Tag Archives: Winnipeg

Moving Forward While Staying Put

We’ve been making some pretty big life decisions around here lately. The lists of pros and cons have been written, or spoken, again and again and again. The ideas have been flying and the different paths have been considered and laid out and weighed.

The simple question with a not-so-simple answer? Do we stay or do we move.

I’ve blogged about our house before. It’s a total love/hate relationship that I’ve got going on with the thing. When it’s clean and working as it should and our family life is flowing smoothly, I love it. When it’s a disaster, when I notice the half-finished state of things, or when everything else is stressful, I hate it. Fairly standard I’m sure. Most people don’t love their living accommodations 24/7, unless you’ve just built yourself a dream home or lucked out on the perfect place in the perfect neighbourhood (which is totally subjective, obviously).

We live on a good block in a “sketchy” area…although having lived here for 7.5 years is changing my mind on just how sketchy our area is. We have a lot of seniors and young families around us. There’s the odd house that is run down and filled with questionable people, but we’ve started saying, “If you live in Winnipeg, you live in a sketchy area” because the truth is, crime happens everywhere. However, we are on the outskirts of this sketch-hub and we’ve only had a couple run-in’s over our years of being here.

We’re also outgrowing our house, or rather, how our house is set-up right now isn’t working for us. Storage is minimal, our shed is dilapidated, our garage is filled with water in the spring and has mould growing in it, we have three (large) children in two small bedrooms. What do we do?

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for awhile, I’m sure you’ve noticed a fairly consistent theme that I struggle with; the overwhelming part of me wants a simple less-is-more life. Living pared down, not following the buy bigger and shinier and spiffier trend always wins out in the end with me. But it’s hard. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things. I really like shopping too. But I also like thrifting and making my own things and thinking through a lot of what we bring into the house (this is seriously hard with 3 kids!).

So, after all of our talking and list making and path weighing, we’ve, again, decided to stay put as we move forward in life. We have some exciting projects happening around the house that will help make this place work and, hopefully, enrich our lives over the next 10 years. I’ll delve into those a different day. But, truth be told, after we both continually came to the same conclusion about our housing arrangements and what this means for how we live our lives, I had a huge light-bulb moment. I don’t want to move! Seriously! I just don’t want to pack-up and move somewhere just because it’s the typical “next step”. After I realized that was a massive undercurrent of how I was feeling, I felt so freed-up to be excited about how this place can serve us and how we can make it even better.

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The Creative Side

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My creative side has been neglected for a long time now. Between having (3) kids at a young age and all of the life hiccups that have happened over the years, it’s something that I reluctantly put on the back-burner in terms of importance. I had two New Years resolutions for 2015; pare down on all of the junk around the house and do more artwork. I’ve always felt that creativity is something that was woven into my fabric. I can’t shut it off. I can ignore it and close the door to it, but it doesn’t go away.

I shared this sentiment recently on Instagram and I feel it expresses very clearly what has been happening in me over the past few months:

When you set something aside for a long time, or neglect a crucial part of your being, your make-up, your personality, you start to feel like a shadowy version of yourself. Not totally there, not completely fulfilled. When you re-open the door and set aside time to cultivate that certain gift or quality, things seem to come back into focus. You are more yourself. You are more at home. At least that is what I have found to be true with my artwork. It’s like the world is brighter and I find I am inspired by everything around me; a lyric, a feeling, a phrase, a dish pattern, a colour. The floodgates have been opened! I’m finally allowing myself room to get it all out and, I gotta be honest, it’s been an amazing process thus far. I finally, after years and years, feel like myself again.

I’ve often felt that my artwork was just silly little doodles or paintings that weren’t anything special. I decided to take a risk and put some of what I’ve been working on onto my Instagram account. The first few posts were nerve wracking, it’s hard to put things like that ‘out there’, but the response and support I’ve received has overwhelmed me! I feel so supported and encouraged. I’ve completed my first order and have a list of people who are wanting a piece. Friends are sharing my work and nudging me to open an Etsy store. I’ve even received some t-shirt requests! I honestly didn’t think it would spin into this, but I’m so happy it has. Spending my days drinking coffee and creating are what my dreams are made of (I mean, a tropical or European backdrop is usually involved in those dreams too, but for now Winnipeg will have to do).

So I will continue on in opening the door and allowing my creative side to flow into my daily life, to become my new rhythm.

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H&ohMygosh!

H&M

My first H&M experience happened 5 years ago while I was in Calgary. I had stalked their fashions online and couldn’t wait to step foot into an actual store. I was all hyped-up the whole morning and when I finally crossed the threshold I freaked.

(A little side note about me: When I get excited, I get really really excited. There are certain stores or places that I love (like Bulk Barn) and when I go inside I practically vibrate. My eyes dart around quickly and I become overstimulated. I’m giddy with possibilities. But the flip-side is that I get overwhelmed and can’t function properly. The awesomness is too much and I am unable to make basic life choices, like which trail mix I’d like to buy. It gets better once I visit the location on a regular basis, but if I’ve been anticipating going somewhere for quite awhile then it’s hopeless.)

I tried to calm my internal freak-out and told myself to walk slowly and look at all the racks of wonderful fashions. I had a bit of money to spend, knowing that it would be one of my stops while visiting family, but I quickly became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things I liked and left the store without purchasing anything from a retailer I had waited years to visit. This happened the next two times that I was inside an H&M store.

I like H&M because I find them to be classy, fashionable and trendy all rolled into one. You can spot a vintage inspired piece with a peter pan collar right next to an edgy sweater with leather patches on the shoulders. They carry garments that are easily added to your current wardrobe at reasonable prices. Sure, not every thing inside their walls is for me, but its my kinda store.

Since that first encounter, I’ve spent 5 years hoping that they would one day open their doors in Winnipeg. Sure enough, that day finally came.

Amid much hype, fist pumping, dancing employees, security guards and news crews, H&M Winnipeg cut their red ribbon and opened shop yesterday morning at 11:00am. I figured that for a Wednesday morning it wouldn’t be too insane so I packed-up my little guy and made my way to the mall. I’ve waited 5 years after all and dammit, I’d be there on the first day!

As I rounded the corner I was made an ass of for assuming there would only be a small crowd. I stood in shock as the line-up of people was half a kilometer long, winding through the mall. The music was blaring and the place was buzzing. I cut through the line and went straight for Starbucks. I wasn’t dealing with any of that nonsense until I had an empty bladder and a coffee in my hand.

I finally decided to get in line at 11:30 when it shrank a good amount and Eli and I only waited for about 25 minutes. He stayed happy eating grapes and I stood and people-watched. A CBC reporter came and wanted to interview the two girls behind me, to which they quickly declined because they were skipping class. After walking down the length of the line, they ended-up interviewing the guy standing right in-front of me as he was the next lucky individual to enter the store (they were letting someone in the store every time someone would leave so they could keep things under control).

Finally it was my time. The lady waved me through and I pushed the stroller into paradise. It was overwhelming. It was crowded. The DJ was deafening. The lines for the fitting rooms and the registers were winding through the whole store. I could barely get the stroller around people and racks of clothing. But I tried to take a peek at some clothes and look for a certain skirt that I’ve been trying to find. A few minutes in to my shopping my sister phone. So I pushed Eli, glanced at clothes, tried not to hit people and talked on the phone. I realized this wasn’t working and decided to call it quits. I’d come back when things calmed down. I clearly wasn’t getting anywhere and Eli wouldn’t sit for long enough to wait in any sort of line. I slowly made my way to the front of the store and was just about to leave when Eli grunted at me (because the only two words he can say are Bubble and Cookie). I looked down and he held up two pairs of tights that he had pilfered from somewhere. Not only did he have them in his lap trying to steal them, he had been eating the tags. Yes, eating them. They were chewed, mushed-up and soggy. Disintegrating actually. He had a huge smile on his face and looked pretty proud of his make-shift snack. I changed course and veered in between two clothing racks and had a moment of panic. I almost unknowinly stole some clothes and Eli ate the tags. I got all hot and red, threw the tights under a bunch of skirts and made a B-line for the exit. Am I proud of it? No. But I’m owning it.

So that was my H&M shopping experience yesterday. After waiting for 5 years and anticipating opening day, it sucked and my kid ate their stuff.

Next time will be better.

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Lemon Liberte

I was 20 when I moved out into my own place. I rented the first floor of an old house on Maryland Street directly beside a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that had a bar and live music. I loved it. Scott Nolan played every Wednesday night. My bus stop was in front of a magnificent old church, I was walking distance from my job, there was a thrift store around the corner and I had the most amazing Indian food close by. I painted my kitchen walls orange and called it home.

Since I didn’t own a set of wheels I made frequent trips to the dingy grocery store at the end of my block. It was always a hit or miss. One particular day I was standing in front of the yogurt section deciding what kind I should buy and if it was within my budget to do so when an audible voice chimed in to my internal debate. “You should buy this one” it said. I turned, rather surprised by the uninvited opinion, to see a middle aged man pointing at the expensive Liberté yogurts. I’d never bought the expensive yogurts. “Have you ever tried this kind?” he asked. The man looked fairly normal for my neighborhood, but that’s not saying much. I lived in the quirky, granola crunchy area of the city which was a stones throw from the inner city, so you never really knew if people were going to hug you or stab you or try to sell you drugs.

“No, I’ve never tried that kind” I offered back, hoping he’d be on his way. “The lemon is the best kind. Really. It’s soooo good. You should buy it.” I picked up the carton, my eyes widened looking at the price. I turned it around in my hand trying to look interested but secretly waiting for him to walk away so I could return to my cheaper yogurt purchasing habits. “Well, I do like lemons.”  “You should really try it. I promise you’ll love it.” I hummed and hawed. “You know what? I’m not going to leave here until you buy it.” I looked at him. He was completely serious. This man, right here standing beside me, this total stranger was going to force me to buy Lemon Liberté yogurt against my will. I held the carton for a moment debating if I should just drop my basket and run. Was he some kind of weirdo with a yogurt fetish? That didn’t seem like a far fetched idea with how excited he was becoming trying to get me to buy the damn thing. I was looking particularly cute that day in my pink jacket. Maybe he was trying to hit on me in the most bizarre way known to man. Maybe this was his pick-up line? On the other hand, I did really love yogurt and now I was curious about why a total stranger was so excited about it. I decided the best course of action was to put it in my basket to appease him. My yogurt stranger looked victorious. I thought that maybe I could just ditch it when he walked away but, no, he held to his word. I proceeded to the checkout, the man close behind, and I bought the yogurt.  He went on his merry way as soon as we were done with an enthusiastic “Enjoy!” I left the grocery store reluctantly, hoping he wasn’t around a corner. I’ve had a stalker before and it’s no fun. But thankfully he was gone.

I walked home baffled by what just transpired. Once inside, with my door locked, I started laughing.

Then I tried the yogurt. Immediately the clouds parted and a chorus of birds began to sing. I realized that this man was no mere mortal, he had been sent by the gods to open my eyes to outrageously priced greek style yogurt. It rocked my world. And still does to this day. I often buy it as a treat and my children know if they touch it there will be hell to pay.

So now I ask you, have you tried it? I promise you’ll love it!

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I ♥ Thrifting

I love thrifting. Ever since I was able to make my own fashion choices and was allowed my two cents for where I wanted to shop I’ve had a passion for perusing second-hand stores. It’s the unknown, the hunt, the treasures, the obscure, the potential style and individuality and, yes, the price tag that draws me in. I also feel like I’m doing my small part in the world to help out when I buy second-hand.

Jr. High was where I started my self-expression through style. I loved silly t-shirts, button-ups, old-man trousers, cargo pants, suspenders, skirts and 70’s cardigans…all paired with my Doc Martens of course. My mom still bought me a lot of clothes and she hated taking me to Value Village, something about the smell and the feel of the garments bothered her. I didn’t always look like a punk rocker rag doll and, thank goodness, over the years my style has changed and shifted. On a side note: I was recently going through my wardrobe doing some tidying-up and realized that about 75% of all of my clothing is thrifted, gifted or hand-me-downs. I really don’t spend much on clothing and, when I do, it’s usually from a sale rack. Target has ridiculous discount prices on women’s clothing. 

I do also shop else where now. I find that most pants are better to buy new with a proper fit (although I did alter a couple of pairs last year to make them work, and work they do!). Sometimes I’ll go a few months in between thrifting but after a lull I’ll always find myself back surfing the racks.

Now, when a-thriftin’ I go, I usually head to MCC or the Sally Ann before the V.V. Boutique mega store. I like supporting the Mennonite Central Committee and they’ll still sell a Banana Republic sweater for under $3.

My son has a problem with losing sweaters at school. He was down to one hoodie and when you live in a deep freeze like Winnipeg, one sweater doesn’t cut it. So yesterday I packed-up Eli and headed to our local MCC store.

I scored three sweaters for Rhys, a jacket for Amelia, a toque for Eli and a beautiful hand-dyed wrap skirt for myself. I was considering putting a few things back when I was approached by a volunteer and asked if I had a few minutes to spare to do a survey. Considering I love MCC and am there fairly frequently I figured I could take some time to do it. It was two pages long and, when finished, she handed me a $10 gift certificate to the store! I only ended-up paying $2 for all of our clothes.

Thrift Store Score!!

I usually leave the thrift store wondering why I don’t always try there first. My money is going to help people and there are so many newer, gently used clothes that have more life to give (not to mention shoes, books, housewares, and craft supplies) . Why are we spending exorbitant amounts of money on clothes that are the latest and greatest and have a certain label attached? Truth be told, most of my favorite articles of clothing that I’ve owned over the years have come from second-hand stores. I would love to start hitting-up some of the higher-end vintage and consignment stores in Winnipeg as there are quite a few that I’ve heard good things about.

So, do you love the hunt as much as I do? Does your personal style work well with thrifting? Or have you *gasp* never tried?

 

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Snow Girl

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November 16, 2012 · 6:35 pm

With My Boy.

Rhys went to a birthday party at the Manitoba Children’s Museum yesterday. They recently renovated so I was excited to see what they’d done with the place. I showed-up at 1:30pm for the 2:00pm party so Rhys and I could take a few minutes to walk around and see the place. I figured that would give me enough time to walk around and still be early for the party.

We got to the front desk and gave the girl the name of the boy whose party Rhys was attending. She furrowed her brow and said, “my, you’re here early”…which I’m fairly used to hearing since I’m compulsive about being timely. I told her that I wanted to be there a bit early to see the new building. She told me that I had more than enought time to look around because the birthday party didn’t start until 3:00pm. Ugh. My bad. I’ve been scatter-brained for the past few weeks so things like this are happening more and more frequently.

It worked-out well in the end, that is, after I took a breath and got past my initial frustration. It was just Rhys and I, something which doesn’t happen often. We had a little date and played at the museum for an hour before his friends showed-up, just me and my boy.   I really like the new layout, the design and the use of colour. With that said, I wouldn’t ever go on a Saturday again…

I left Rhys at the party after it started and went back to the house to get James and Amelia. We made our way back to The Forks, grabbed some mini-doughnuts and then went to get the boy. Because Rhys was there for a party we all got in for free so while Rhys was finishing-up we let Ammie snoop around and explore the space. The highlight of the whole day was watching Rhys spend 90% of his time at the water table and the building station (which didn’t surprise me at all. give him anything to do with engineering and you won’t hear from him for a few hours) and then seeing James gravitate to the exact same station to do the exact same thing. Rhys is so much like James that it’s shocking.

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