Category Archives: In the Royal City

Mama Bear, Up in Arms

There are only a couple things which draw out the mama bear in me. That is the crazy lady at the park you see yelling at children from time to time: a) seeing a child bullying one of my children, or any other children for that matter, without their parent intervening and b) seeing a child harassing an animal, without an adult intervening.

I was disappointment in Queensborough Elementary for a couple of reasons today when I took my kids for a rainy day trip to the park which happened to coincide with the school’s recess. I was surprised to see a.) how long it took for the supervisors to finally join the kids at the playground, and b.) how some of the children behaved in their absence (I should hope that their presence would have tempered the children’s cruelty).

I have a soft spot for animals and I am very fond of our Queensbourgh wildlife, in particular, the ducks. Today at the park mama bear came out on behalf of the ducks which were being terrorized by a group of four children. I told the children to leave the ducks alone. They ignored me. I yelled at the children to leave the ducks alone. They ignored me and chased the ducks until they flew away. When they went after the last lone duck, encircling and clearly terrifying it, I really yelled. They backed of this time. I told them I would be watching them until a supervisor came out and I stuck around until one (finally) did.

Maybe you think I over reacted. But the thing is, if you allow children to bully animals which are smaller than them, more helpless and vulnerable than them, whose to say that they won’t bully smaller and more vulnerable children. I would not be suprised if those kids who were bullying the ducks are the same kids who currently do, or will end up, bullying other children. Children need to learn to value and care for those who are weak and vulnerable. Modeling this kind of behavior and directing our children to respect and be kind to animals is a very basic way of teaching them to value creation and one another.

I’m not big on yelling. I especially don’t relish yelling at strange children. But if at your dinner table tonight your child talks about the crazy yelling lady at the school playground, I’m her, and proud to be. I would have however, preferred that the supervisors had been around to do their job. I would hope that they would have enforced a respect for nature and that the children might be more willing to listen to them. Fingers crossed that the school steps it up before I send my kids there.

1 Comment

Filed under In the Royal City, Uncategorized

Breeding Discontent

One of my greatest guilty pleasures (after watching stupid teen shows like “Vampire Diaries”) is looking at real estate. Specifically, I like to look at charming old houses which are outside our financial scope at this time but may be within it in ten years or so. I love to go through the pictures admiring the craftsmanship and planning renovations which enhance the original charm of the homes (what a travesty when over zealous renovators strip these lovelies of their detail!).

Right now I am drooling over this 3 bedroom heritage home in New Westminster’s West End:

English Garden, Sloped roof, front porch. Oh yah.

English Garden, Sloped roof, front porch. *Drool*. Picture via.

And rooms like the following with molding and arches:


I look at this room and my mind moves a mile a minute in excitement. I imagine new tile floors, built in banquette seating with gorgeous throw pillows surrounding a round pedestal table, whimsical wallpaper above the wainscoting and a gorgeous light fixture.

All fun and games until I start to indulge these fancies for too long, hence it being a “guilty” pleasure. I start to want the houses, really, really want them. I feel so frustrated that this dream is out of my grasp that discontent starts to grow in my heart. When it gets to this point I have to give myself a mental slap in the face in order to remember how much I already have.

Three years ago we would never have even imagined being able to own a three bedroom townhouse. Not only do we have the space we need for our family but also added pleasures like an en-suite, large closets, nine foot ceilings, and neighbors we adore. There is so much to enjoy and be thankful for in my current circumstances.

And not just in terms of housing. I have two beautiful children who have actually started playing together (between episodes of Sofia pushing Charlie over and him biting her in retaliation), as well as a healthfully growing baby who no longer makes me want to vomit every minute of every day.

Yesterday Sofia and Charlie spent like and hour "reading" together on our dismantled chaise.

Yesterday Sofia and Charlie spent like and hour “reading” together on our dismantled chaise.

I’ll keep these blessings close to my heart and mind as Steve and I enjoy being looky loos at the open house this weekend.


Leave a Comment

Filed under At home, Eye Candy, From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, In the Royal City, Uncategorized

Introducing Free Pillow Friday

(Okay, I realize it is Thursday night, not Friday, but I’m going to be busy all day tomorrow)

So I’m starting this new thing that I’m kind of excited about….giving away free pillow covers. If you are not into fabric or interior decor this will be distinctly unexciting, but if you happen to run a blog called “Fabrictherapy”…very exciting.

Last winter I stocked up on gorgeous (mostly designer) fabric and made dozens of pillows to sell at an artisan market. It turns out that pillow covers are not a big seller at these kinds of venues, so I have oodles of lovely pillows sitting lonely in a bag. Since it is a sunk cost, I’d much rather give these beauties away than have them gather dust.

I’m starting off with one of my faves, Ming Dragon, created by Robert Allen for Dwell Studio. I love, love this pattern and the variety of colours it comes in. It looks good in so many different applications:

Mid century mod chair upholstered in Ming Dragon in Persimmon.

Mid-century mod chair upholstered in Ming Dragon Persimmon.

Drapery in Ming Dragon aquatint.

Drapery in Ming Dragon aquatint.

For this give away I will be mailing the winner two 20 by 20 inch pillow covers (inserts not included) in Ming Dragon Admiral, a total value of over $70. All you have to do is post a comment on what you would like to see more of on

Ming Dragon Admiral (indigo blue background).

Ming Dragon Admiral (ie. indigo blue background).

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you happen to win or just love the look of the fabric, Dwell Studio has gorgeous coordinates and there are lots of stores on Etsy where you can have coordinating pillows custom made:


Dwell Studio Coordinates by Robert Allen.

I have a great variety of fabric, so if Ming dragon ain’t your thing, come back next Friday!

PS. I’ve never set up a give away on my blog before so please let me know if it doesn’t work for you! Contest begins at midnight and runs for a week. Check next Friday to see if you are a winner!


Filed under Give Aways, In the Royal City, Uncategorized


Yesterday I participated in the Curious Flea for the first time. I’ve been a part of the Artisan Market at New Westminster River Market selling my handmade pillows but this time I hauled the plethora of fun vintage goods gathering dust in my garage to sell at the market. Taking part in the markets is always a good time, made even better this time due to the dual pleasure of making a little cash and clearing out space in my garage. My pillows made the trip with me and I sold a few but I’m cooking up a scheme for “Free Pillow Friday” on Fabrictherapy to find some loving homes for my surplus.

As with every time I have participated in one of these markets, holding on to any pennies earned is a challenging task with so many sweet vintage and handmade goods floating around. All the stores were delightful but there were a couple new vendors this weekend who are seriously noteworthy from an interior decor perspective.

I’m always a fan of up-cycling and Derek G. Fuller of Signtology uses his mad artistic talent to create unique pieces of eco-friendly art on reclaimed pieces of wood.

Notice the painting in the bottom right hand corner. It's of his and his wive's first dance. Aww...He does custom.

Notice the painting in the bottom right hand corner. It’s of him and his wife at their wedding. So sweet.

Derek takes on custom work as well. These kinds of paintings would look fantastic in either a country or modern design style depending on the subject matter and finish of the wood.

My other Flea fave was Arniture. Another perfect example of up-cycling, Arniture uses  metal barrels to make one of a kind chairs. These ultra modern chairs are pieces of art whether you choose a simple painted one or one which has been decorated with a skillfully hand painted design. I know that if I’m ever decorating someone’s home in a funky modern style I’ll be coming back to these guys!


This branch design was my favorite.

This branch design was my favorite.

And did I mention they are comfortable too? These chairs would make a stunning conversation piece indoors or out. Check out their online store for item availability.

Not exactly your traditional flea market overtaken by old nick-knacks and fun doo-dads (though you’ll find that there too), the Curious Flea is increasingly becoming a selling destination for talented local craftsmen. A must see for those looking for unique interior decor items, the next Curious Flea will be held in November. See the Curious Flea facebook page for more information.

(FYI, I’m not dissing nick-knacks and doo-dads…they are my greatest Curious Flea weakness).


Leave a Comment

Filed under In the Royal City, It's easy being green, Uncategorized

10 Reasons to Love Queensborough

My family and I moved from East Vancouver to Queensborough, New Westminster a year and a half ago, and it was the best move we could have made. Though we lovingly call it “the ghetto” due to some dilapidated old houses and people’s tendency to leave cast off furniture dumped on the side of the road, it is truly a hidden gem.

If you are a young Vancouverite family struggling to make a one or two bedroom condo work for a family of four (been there), it is worth a gander. Here are ten reasons to love Queensborough:

1.) Where else can you buy a newish three bedroom townhouse (or a charming character home in need of some love) for under $420 and still be only a 30 minute commute to downtown Vancouver via transit?

2.) Queensborough Community Center: newly renovated and housing a daycare, preschool, library, gym, and activities for all ages of children and adults (our favorite is the indoor playland, two bouncy castles, ride-em cars, and lots of little friends, what more could a young family ask for?).


3.) An abundance of playgrounds within walking distance of any area of Queensborough you choose to live in: from Pembina street we are a five minute walk to three amazing parks, two of which include water parks. Many other fantastic parks are only a twenty minute walk away and what mama can’t use a little extra exercise?

The community center is just to the left of this playground.

The community center is just beside this playground.

4.) Outlet shopping within walking distance: Guess. Aramani Exchange. Mexx. The Gap. Etc. ‘Nuff said.

5.) An abundance of young families. Because the area is so affordable there are hordes of young families. Queensborough’s limited expanse ensures that you run into the same people over and over again, cultivating a tight knit community.

6.) Cultural Diversity: It is a beautiful to walk around the neighborhood and see such a lovely blend of faces coming from different parts of the world, bringing with them their unique dress, languages and customs.

7.) It’s flat. Really flat. You can walk, run, and bike along the gorgeous banks of the Fraser River without being bothered by the pesky hills which may deter some people (me) from venturing out often sans car.

8.) You can drive most places in a jiffy: 30 minutes to my mom’s home in Coquitlam. 30 minutes to my sister’s home in Kitsilano. 20 minutes to Bible study in Richmond. 30 minutes to Centennial Beach in Tsawwassen. 15 minutes to Metrotown. You get the point.

9.) Port Royal Beach: You may not want to go swimming in the Fraser River, but it’s amazing to be able to walk to a beach, lay out a blanket, and let the kidlets play in the sand and splash their feet in the river’s shallows.


10. Bulk Barn: Yes. This is really one of my reasons. Recently opened in Queensborough Landing near Walmart, the Bulk Barn carries a large variety of bulk goods including those that can normally only be found in chi-chi Vancouver stores (ie. almond flour, coconut oil, hemp hearts etc). And as with most places in Queensborough, I can walk there.

Don’t let a little bridge traffic (it’s not that bad) and the sight of some industrial spaces turn you off. Come have a look. Take a walk through my hood. You’ll be surprised by what you find.

1 Comment

Filed under In the Royal City, Uncategorized

By Falling Down

Those who know me might be surprised to know that my husband and I practised martial arts for a while. If you lived next door to us during our first year of marriage you may have caught site of us in full combat gear, throwing punches and kicks at one another in the backyard, or walking down the street to the dojang carrying our bags of weaponry.

Why do I bring this up? Because my martial arts teacher had a saying, one which I can never remember correctly, but one which I think back to time and time again. It was something along the lines of “by falling down, we learn to get back up again”. I have thought about this saying during various trials in my life, both great and small. By falling (or failing) I learn to get back up again (rise above challenges) and each time I fall, it gets a bit easier to get up. Rising above does not necessarily mean I eventually succeed, though sometimes a new approach can lead to success. For me, rising above most often means letting go of the negative thoughts which failure so easily leads me to. I struggle with this. When I fail I tend to be a nasty wretch to myself. I say “you suck”, “you can’t do anything right”, “you should just give up” etc.

This is the trap I am in right now. I am writing this post as a tool to help me get back on my feet mentally. I took part in another Artisan Market and the honest truth is that in five hours I did not sell a single pillow. Right away my mind turns ugly on itself. I feel discouraged. I feel like I wasted my time and that I didn’t sell anything because my pillows are terrible. Let me claim some truth now. It was not a waste of time. I bought some gorgeous presents from other vendors. I met some really nice people and had enjoyable conversations. I got to treat myself to delicious meals that I didn’t have to lift a finger to make. I got to show off my beautiful pillows. This is the truth.

See for yourself. Here are some of my favourites that I recently made for the fair. They should be up on my etsy shop by the end of the month.

2013-12-15 16.35.03

The silk floral fabric is Armani

2013-12-15 16.36.13

This pillow is made out of left over fabric from a shower curtain I made.

2013-12-15 16.39.30

This pillow is reversible (see other side below)

2013-12-15 16.39.43

I love how unique and beautiful the “wrong” side of a fabric can be.


Filed under DIY Projects, From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family, In the Royal City, Mental Health

Local Artisans Deck the Halls

I realized recently that I’m not great at following up on events I mention in blog posts. For instance, the chair I created for Chairs for Charity got auctioned off like two months ago, and it did well on the auction block.

And so, for the sake of keeping a bit more up-t0-date, I wanted to talk a bit about the Artisan Market I participated in last weekend. Due to the fact that is was the weekend following “black Friday” it wasn’t a very busy day for the vendors but it was an excellent time to meet new people and catch glimpses of students from the Vancouver Circus School flying through the air (really, there is a circus school on the second floor of the River Market. I’m totally signing Sofia up when she turns 4.)

Despite by recurrent nightmare that I would not sell any pillows, I was able to sell a grand total of six (I had made like 30…a bit over-zealous). It might not seem like much but it was a very affirming experience for me to sell that many on a slow day. As well, I was invited to sell some of my pillows at the New Westminster Christmas Treasury, located in Queen’s Park, where they display and sell locally crafted items from December 1-23rd.

I had a hard time setting up my display because I had made so many. Less than half of my inventory is up on that table.

I had a hard time setting up my display because I had made so many. Less than half of my inventory is up on that table.

The pillow with the funky blue and green floral is one of my favorite new patterns from Robert Allen.

The pillow with the funky blue and green floral is one of my favorite new patterns from Robert Allen.

I was also selling a small variety of craft and sewing books.

I was also selling a small variety of craft and sewing books.

In addition to selling, the slowness of the day allowed me to do a significant amount of browsing and buying. Some old favorites from the Curious Flea were there including sketcher Won Kang who has branched out and is now selling some tote bags and funky wrapping paper with his sketches on them.

Sketch by Won Kang of Sinclair Centre in Vancouver

Sketch by Won Kang of Sinclair Centre in Vancouver

Wrapping paper by Won Kang. But who would want to rip it?

Wrapping paper by Won Kang. But who would want to rip it?

Tote bag commemorating Copps Shoes in New Westminster which recently burnt to the ground.

Tote bag commemorating Copp’s Shoes in New Westminster which recently burnt to the ground.

Some new favorite vendors I was introduced to at this Artisan Market include “Get Thee to the Nunnery” where I bought some precious and inexpensive fabric wreaths. They also sell beautiful earrings and stationary (shown below).

Christmas Stationary by artist Krista Gibbard.

Christmas Stationary by artist Krista Gibbard.

There were  also many vendors selling impressive jewelry.  I directed my mom and mother-in-law to Bead for Life for beautiful beaded jewelry, handmade by women in Africa, and to Kathy Hart’s stand where she sells stunning bracelets made from vintage silver spoons (not shown).


Examples of some beautiful beaded necklaces.

If you are beginning to feel like you missed out, you will be happy to know that there is another artisan market being held at the River market on December 14th and 15th from 12-5pm. I will be participating on the 15th and look forward to seeing what it is like when the artisans take over both floors of the market.

Leave a Comment

Filed under In the Royal City

Pillow Talk

Tomorrow, weeks of hard work, messy house, and poor meals are about to come to a conclusion (and henceforth I shall be relaxed, have a pristine house, and cook five star meals. Ha. Ha. Ha.) Saturday, November 30, 2013, from 12 noon until 5pm I will be participating in my first artisan market at the New Westminster River Market. I have been sewing up a storm working with gorgeous designer fabrics to create beautiful pillows, or “couch art”, as I like to think of them, to sell at the market.

I expected to feel nervous about tomorrow: it’s in my nature to be anxious when committing to new ventures, however, I can’t wait! Whether I sell much or not (my dear mom has promised to buy a couple of pillows), I am looking forward to the experience of meeting new people, both shoppers and other artisans.

My sister is a talented photographer and was gracious enough to do a bit of a “photo shoot” with some of my pillows. This is a small sampling of what I have made but it shows you a bit of the variety:


The pillows all come with inserts and range from $20-$40 depending on the fabric used. I also picked up some sweet DIY and sewing books to sell at my table which I will be selling for less than suggested retail value.

Whether or not you need some new pillows or other hand-crafted items, stop by and have a gander. I’d love to chat and it is a great way to show your love for local artisans, even if only with your interest. If nothing else, the cinnamon buns sold at the river market bakery will make it worth your trip!
Hope to see you there!

Leave a Comment

Filed under DIY Projects, In the Royal City

Draped in Bling

The director of my program says that 90% of people in Vancouver decorate in traditional style, whether they know it or not. This means that when it comes to window coverings, I need to be open to decorating with some frills. When I think traditional drapery accessories something like this comes to mind:


Massive tassels. Fringe. Okay. It might be good traditional design but it makes me a bit nauseated. I’m just not a big fan of all the frills.

However, research for my homework has led me to re-evaluate my attitude towards drapery accessories. In fact, I have started to embrace the idea. I mean, we all know that there are some gorgeous finials out there (the ball things at the end of the curtain rod) but what I didn’t know is that there is a gorgeous variety of curtain tiebacks. These drapery accessories aren’t just for traditional style.

I’m loving these beaded tie backs:




This one would be super easy and inexpensive to DIY.


How about a beaded tassel?




Something a bit more simple but still stunning:


I love the vintage appeal of this one.

I love the vintage appeal of this one.

In fact, there are even some tassels that I could pick out for a a really traditional client and not shudder at:



Another thing that I have learned about window coverings is that they are super expensive. Even to DIY myself a pair of drapes for my bedroom would take 15 yards of fabric to get the proper fullness. At say, $25 a yard, it really adds up. However, when I’ve saved up enough pennies, I look forward to adorning my windows with drapes and all kinds of bead emelished bling.

Though it is true that the beaded tiebacks would be easy to DIY, that many beads would cost a pretty penny. Better off buying from those who have the resources to buy beads at wholesale costs. You can find beautiful beaded accessories, as well as more traditional tassels at Design with Confidence in New Westminster. Many of these accessories are a steal at under $20.

Don’t feel like driving to New West much less leaving your home? These etsy shops also sell some winning tiebacks:

Willows Grace for vintage metal tiebacks (white metal flower tieback pictured above is from this store)

Earthlie Treasures for beaded tiebacks

Lynn’s Graceland for metal tieback/hooks with crystal detailing

There aren’t many tassels for sale on etsy, beaded or otherwise, so you are best off checking out online retailers like Ali Express.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Decorating Basics, Eye Candy, In the Royal City