Catching up

Well HELLO!  It's been a while, so I thought I would catch everyone up with a picture-filled post.

Let's start with skiing. One of my favourite things about being out here in Calgary is skiing.  The hubster told me this would happen, and next time he tells me something... I'm still not going to believe him.  But about this he was right.  I have never been a skier - I just was never really close enough to a hill to warrant buying the equipment and going regularly.  Plus, I was an artsy-fartsy - I didn't think skiing was in my repertoire.  But since I was forced to get gear, buy a season pass, and get up at the crack of dawn to get to the hill - I have gotten pretty good!  And being good at something, or at least reasonably good, is key to enjoying it, in my opinion.  Although they have never been on skies before, the boys are naturals, of course, especially Will.  I thought they would be on the bunny hill all this season, but we have already passed that and are doing chair lift runs.  So fun!

Pretty hoar frost is really common.

So winter here has come and gone, come and gone. Chinooks are REAL people - not just some nebulous thing that everyone kept telling me about to make me feel better about moving.  They're real, and they are spectacular!

Christmas happened, and my folks were here for a month.  It was a fabulous visit and a great holiday, and I think my parents were excited to sleep on a real bed instead of blow-up mattresses (Which was our 'guest room' in the old house).

You can't win 'em all...

Nenshi was kind enough to give me this great book for Christmas (haha) and we went on a few excursions with my parents.  We saw lots of dinosaur bones,

and hoodoos,

did more skiing,

and even made some pizza (but wouldn't eat it).

Chris and I got to have some 'date' time, which of course with Mountain Man means snow-shoe hikes.  Pretty amazing way to see the mountains, so I guess I won't complain.  There was wine too.

Since I wasn't blogging I had lots of time to do some knitting projects, including a few I didn't photograph.  I made up the pattern for the long scarf I gave to my mother-in-law and was pretty happy with it. I got confident enough to print out a sweater pattern, but haven't started it yet.  It scares me.

On the home front, having Dad here spurred me on to accomplish at least one project, which I'll do a separate post about later.  Here is my fancy drawing though.

I continue to be amazed by the spectacular sunrises and sunset out here.  Big Sky is right!

Someone had a birthday...

and I started a painting class.

Our first class we learned how to mix paints and do a quick apple - 10 minutes!
I have also slowly but surely been making it a little homier around here.  There are still lots of pictures to get hung, furniture to be positioned, and some painting to be done, but I am pleased with the boys' room.  The polka dots are my way to liven things up without painting (i.e. lazy solution).

Some day I will get to have a real tablecloth again... you know, those fabric ones?  Without plastic on top? Yeah, I like those.  Some day...

So that's what's been up in my world out here near the mountains.  I hope you guys are staying warm, and are having a happy 2015 so far!

Zachary Smith and Sevenly

zachary smith on instagram

Although I don't get to wander around the internet as much as I used to, I still manage to come across some cool, shareable stuff every now and then.  Today's share is via, and features the art of Zachary Smith.  Zachary does hand lettering and typographic art.  I do love the swoops and swirls of hand lettering, and that it makes the words as beautiful as the thoughts they express. Zachary builds one more layer on this by merging his lettering and inspiring phrases with his photographs to make some beautiful images, many of which he features on his Instagram account.

zachary smith on instagram
zachary smith on instagram
zachary smith on instagram
zachary smith on instagram

Zachary also contributes to Sevenly, an online store that sells t-shirts and prints of artist-made designs and gives $7 of each purchase to charity.  The designs are more than pretty; they seek to help raise awareness for the different organizations that Sevenly supports.  Each week Sevenly introduces a new charity partner and a new design. To date they have raised over $4 Million for various charities.

I love this business model!  Support artists - check.  Create beautiful, quality merchandise - check. Make a meaningful contribution to change - check.  Raise awareness of deserving charities - check. Make money and build a successful business - check!

Why not build a business around making a difference?  Why not shop and give to charity at the same time? I bristle at the idea that somehow these things should be kept separate, that giving to charity is simply a marketing gimmick to sell more merchandise.  I instead see a business with a soul, but that's not to say the former isn't out there as well.

How do you feel about "capitalist philanthropy"?

Sevenly print

Sevenly t shirt
Sevenly tshirtSevenly print

Sevenly tshirt

Sevenly tshirt
Sevenly tshirt

Art I Like - Emily Jeffords

Emily Jeffers Oil Painting Landscape "Sunshine Valley No. 2"
Emily Jeffords Sunshine Meadow #2
Technically, I am not allowed to be looking at art.  My mom made me swear I wouldn't after we spent the better part of a week wrapping up all my frames, prints, paintings, etc. for the Big Move.  But this is purely for blogging purposes, 'K Mom? And maybe a little inspiration...

Just look at that happy sunny landscape above by Emily Jeffords.  It makes me so happy! She does it using so few brushstrokes, it amazes me as well.  I love the soft airy way Emily's landscapes feel, and the bright colour palette she uses in her works.

Emily Jeffords Mid-Summertime
Emily_Jeffers_Oil_Painting_Landscape_Rise & Shine
Emily Jeffords Rise & Shine
I have always had a fascination with clouds and must have a few hundred in my iPhoto albums from various trips and sunsets.  Emily's landscapes almost always have a really low horizon line and lots and lots of sky.  I think that is part of what attracts me to her work.

Emily Jeffords After the Dew #3
Emily Jeffords (Commission Painting)
If you feel like her works might be familiar, it is probably because of the enormous amount of press she has received lately.  She is currently working with Minted, West Elm, Etsy, Shoppe, and and has been featured in Domino Magazine, on Design*Sponge, Babble, Decor8 BlogHuffington Post and many more.  Based out of South Carolina, Emily has two young daughters that spend a lot of time painting in the studio with her (which makes for some super-cute photos).

Photo by Paige French, who needs a whole other blog post!
I have been dabbling a bit in painting lately, and this past weekend I had a chance to go up to a camp near Edmonton and spend all day just playing with paint.  It was marvelous.  While I tried to do some paintings based off of photographs, and a pure abstract, most of the time I tried to copy Emily's Paintings in an effort to understand her style a bit more.  It is definitely easier said than done.

Learning copy (reproduction) of an Emily Jeffers painting
My copy, based on Emily's Driving to Greenville
Learning copy (reproduction) of an Emily Jeffers painting
My attempt at Emily's Sundown
This one was more of an attempt at copying Michelle Armas, but is nowhere near!

I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to painting subjects and style that I would like to try here, if you want to take a peak.

You may wonder why I don't just paint my own thing, why I am trying to reproduce someone else's style - which is a fair question!  I feel that by trying to recreate an artist's work, I can get an idea of how it was made, how it was built from the darks to the lights, what values are where and how it all comes together.  I only wish I had a photo of the original landscape to see how they read it into the painting!  I love watching YouTube videos posted by artists that show them doing a painting in real time, or sped up, so you can see how it actually works.

As I was saying to my husband, who was seeing dollar signs floating in the air when I came home with these paintings, there is no way I would ever try to pass these off as 'mine'.  Some super-nice Facebook friends who were very supportive when I posted the fruits of my weekend away may get an early Christmas gift... as long as they don't claim it as an Emily Jeffers OR Lisa Mackay original!  It's all in the spirit of learning, and I am very inspired by Emily's paintings.  After enjoying myself so much this weekend, I have signed up for a painting course starting in January, so hopefully I will be moving on to my own originals soon enough!

Abandoning perfectionism

Setting up this house has been a bit of a process for me.  As I wrote a few months ago, I found the modern design and aesthetic of the house intimidating, and I have been struggling to "make it mine." Many of my things have been easy to place, and I am happy with how they go with the house.

Others just don't match up in my mind's eye - usually older pieces that I have moved from house to house and never really looked at, if that makes any sense.  The bed, for example.  I have always loved wrought iron beds, something about the deep black colour with soft curves and curlicues.  I even did a post about them in 2009 (before I knew anything about referencing images, obviously).  When I bought my bed way back in I-don't-even-remember, my only real sources for furniture were my parents' house and Ikea.  Since my parents didn't have any extra queen beds kicking around, it was off to the that big blue and yellow store, and I came home with this:

(I went to find it on the Ikea site, but apparently it is no longer available - which means I must have bought it a while ago!)

It isn't too bad, but there are a few things that bug me about it:
- it is so obviously from Ikea
- the curved line on the top of the headboard - I wish it was straight like the footboard
- those round curly flower things - not sure what it is about them that bugs me, but I think they just seem too cutesy and busy.

The poor bed bothered me in the old house as well, but when we put it in the master bedroom in the new house, it just didn't work for me at all.  I feel like this room is begging for a big upholstered bed.

Now it would be lovely to put all the stuff that bugs me up on Kijiji and go out and buy exactly what I want, but sadly, they forgot to plant that money tree in our new back yard.  So instead I used some West Elm gift cards I had for the Steven Alan euro shams and long grey pillow, and splurged on an Ikea linen duvet cover and wool pillow from Winners.

Aaaand I still don't like it.  And there still is nothing over the bed.  And I am debating about curtains. And I still don't love the colour. I feel like this room will never be finished. (Cue the violins!)

However, it finally hit me this weekend that if I wait to share photos until the rooms are "DONE", I will never blog again! So instead of beautifully-styled rooms that I am proud to share, you are going to be getting a lot of photos of not-quite-there-yet rooms that I am not yet happy with. Maybe just posting the photos will spark a moment of genius and I will figure out what the heck to do. Or maybe you guys can give me some suggestions.

Either way, I am just going to have to decide to be OK with the bed, the sofa, the colours, and the bookcases in the basement. I am going to have to be OK with living in a partly-finished house. Which means, I am going to have to be OK with having a blog that is a chronicle of making this house my own, warts and all, instead of a fancy portfolio of my impeccable style. While I would love to post about putting a room together from scratch, that just isn't realistic.

Insert deep comment about embracing the imperfections in life, then post inspirational tee photo.
T-shirt $30 at Tees in the Trap

Thanks for sticking with me folks! :)