Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chocolate Pots

Robin is amongst a group of potters invited this month to exhibit a series of modern interpretation of the 'chocolate pot' at Red Lodge Clay Center.

Curious as to what a chocolate pot might be? The Curatorial statement from this exhibit describes "Traditionally chocolate pots were metal forms with wooden or porcelain side handles. The spout was wider to allow for a generous stream of the thick, sweet chocolate liquid....Along with a wider spout came sets of mugs will full proportions, allowing the scent and stream of the cocoa to rise, enticing our olfactory and visual senses before taste activate the palate."

Hot cocoa anyone? Check out the pots online. The show is up for this month only.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lounge night out!

Jennie and I treated ourselves this past weekend to a night out on the town. Felt like old times when I was still getting ready at 8 p.m. and didn't have a clue as to where we'd end up even at 9:30 p.m.!
To my delight, Jennie recommended we check out a Winnipeg Institution - Rae & Jerry's Steakhouse. I half expected Don Draper to walk in and order a cocktail and join us in the red swivel leather chairs.

The decor was authentic to its era, and apparently the menu hasn't changed either! Sitting amongst some seemingly true R&J loyalists, Jennie and I wined and dined and took in the retro ambiance.

What strikes me about the city's willingness to hold true to these kinds of establishments, is that it is never short on real authenticity. I'm convinced that the appeal of the 'old' is 'new' again as there were plenty of people our age and younger lounging out and genuinely enjoying their complimentary after dinner ovation!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A genuine BFF

Speaking of friends.....this year our little Belle conjured up a magnificent plan to celebrate turning seven. Instead of a party, she chose one very special friend to join her for a day of girl fun & pampering.

And having a November birthday can leave one with few options for a plethora of outdoor activities to choose from - especially in Winnipeg! But to make matters worse, some anonymous little germ gifted her with a bad case of the stomach flu the day before her birthday this year. Our poor Belly, woke up with a sickened belly on her seventh birthday which meant postponing all birthday activities for a later date.

But we did honour the postponement and Isla and her new BFF tore up the mall the following Saturday afternoon. I didn't realize how much fun it was going to be to witness two little girls 'experience' a mall date with such giggles and glee.

They did it all: took in a movie, got their nails done, decorated cookies and (window) shopped till they dropped! I think the most fun was had in the change room, although I felt bad for the retail clerk that had to put away all their try-ons.

But boy, did they have fun. And what a special way to make a birthday memorable with a new special friend. Thanks little Eden!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Let's be friends!

Moving around presents both challenges and opportunities I have learned. And with a family in tow and two sets of little eyes interpreting my every move, I try my best to focus on the opportunities. But let's face it, whether you are 3 or 35, moving away from a support network of loved ones and familiarity means having to put yourself out there whether you want to or not.

I am acutely aware of the 'temporary friend syndrome', where making friends feels like running in an election where your platform states you'll be resigning shortly after being elected to office. Dear potential friends, please consider my circumstances, although I am here for such a short time, I promise to make it a grand time! We'll laugh, we'll cry, we'll make memories and then we'll pack up and move, again!

Funny thing is, this move to Winnipeg has been different. I feel like there was a Friendship box all wrapped up and ready for us to unpack the moment we arrived. No campaign drive necessary. I am so grateful for the friends that have enveloped us into their lives here.

And feeling super grateful for all the folks along the way that have made us feel so loved. Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends this weekend. We miss you!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Twirl on Belle, Twirl on

I don't remember being seven. I can say though with some degree of certainty that as a seven year old I likely crimped my hair, collected jelly bracelets, yearned to be some version of the 'Material Girl', and still played with my cabbage patch doll.

And now my daughter is seven. She has already figured out her own 'style', speaks with authority and confidence in all things concerning her little brother, and takes on each day systematically and with intention.

Although, I do relish in the fact that she still believes in fairies, adores her doll 'Maggie', randomly and often breaks into song and dance - twirling herself around the living room and is able to so earnestly and truthfully express herself in whatever emotion she may be feeling at any moment.

She is the sunshine in my day and I cherish her old soul. Happy Birthday Belle. Twirl on!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Winter Wallop that Wasn't, then Was

Winter has arrived in Winnipeg! All the hype that has been building since even last spring when we made the decision to spend a winter in the 'Peg'! I feel like I have been preparing for the arrival of the first snow for months! 

Friday evening I joined the masses of Winnipegers in the grocery lines, picking up supplies in anticipation of not wanting to leave the house this weekend. Transit shut downs, slow plowing services,   stores remaining closed.....this is what the news reported would happen. We went to bed that night expecting the worst  and woke up to......1 cm? 

Life seemed to continue on as normal, all that fear mongering for nothing. The winter wallop they promised did arrive though, only a day late!

What can happen overnight!

Friday, November 9, 2012

We are one

I took the time this morning to attend the Remembrance Day assembly at the school today. It took me back to my own primary school memories, the songs and poems haven't changed and the 'Last Post' bugle call drew the same sorrowful tightening in my throat.

But I realized something important at this particular assembly, as I looked around at the mass of children singing earnestly and joyfully - they were singing about peace, not war.

I am grateful that my children attend a school here in Winnipeg that has a very diverse and authentically multicultural student population. I've watched over the last couple of months how the school works hard to create a 'community' and honours the many ethnic differences.

My hope is that if we can continue to teach our children about peace and acceptance, that one day there will be a generation without war.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What a treat!

Family traditions don't always play out exactly as expected or remembered from our own childhoods, but there is something about the anticipation and preparation that reminds me why it is important to create them for my children.

However harebrained the thought of sending your kids running up to strangers homes in want of bags and bags of candy.....!?!....I admit I willingly participate in the fun of it all.

I love seeing my kids get into the thrill of dreaming up and becoming a character, planning the costume details and stepping into that role. And their creative little brains and fingers working hard at wall decorations, pumpkin carving and even in the kitchen.

And however absurd it is to see them sitting atop a mountain of candy at the end of the night, it delighted me to see their goofy grins and willingness to share with each other and their parents, as I fondly remembered the game of candy trade and barter from my own trick or treating days with my own siblings.

Now a few days later, they've nearly all but forgotten about the massive bag of candy and we're getting ready for the next holiday celebrations.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Leaf Lady

Grandma Lady picked the best time to come and visit us in Winnipeg. Raking season! Known for her rake handling skills, we put all our neighbors to shame and collected nearly 50 bags of leaves from our front and back yard.

I have to admit, I likely would have not gone quite to the extent that GLady insisted - she left no leaf behind, even extending her trip another day to finish the job right!

Besides the yard work, we of course showed off our new location and checked out a few new venues and sights while we was here.

We went antique hunting, took in a couple of museum visits, shopping trips and other outdoor excursions. But we all agreed our favourite outing was to the gelato store. We loved it so much we went twice!

We were sad to see her leave after such a great week together.  It was great to welcome her as our first visitor and we are so grateful for her trip east to help us out. Safe travels home Grandma Lady, the gelato is so good here, maybe you'll come again???

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sleeping on the job

Robin and a group of his students and colleagues fired the train kiln this weekend. Endearingly called the 'fatboy', this kiln was rebuilt in 2010, but this weekend's firing marked only it's second firing since the rebuild.

With my mom in town for a Grandma Lady visit, I was able to sneak over to join the midnight crew for a couple of stokes. And this is how I caught the potter- sleeping on the job!

Hard work, but somebody has to do it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


We spent the Thanksgiving holiday weekend this year in the Ontario wilds. A first I must say!

We got an invite from our friend Mike to spend the weekend with his family out at a cabin at the ELA - Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario.

About a four hour drive east from Winnipeg, Mike spends a good chunk of time in the milder months doing research on the lakes.

The ELA is a natural outdoor laboratory that was established in the 1960s. It is unique in this world and is the only place that scientists can conduct experiments on whole lakes to understand the emerging threats to our freshwater ecosystems and fish populations.

It is a place of pristine beauty. Hundreds of lakes cropping out of the Canadian shield and a community of dedicated people that have been working for decades to better understand the effects we as humans have on the quality of our water sources.

The devastating part is that our current government is short sightedly shutting the place down next year. Closing the ELA will certainly threaten the health of our fresh water and fisheries when it ceases to provide the world with the vital and invaluable information needed to manage and protect our fresh waters.

The invitation to come out and spend the weekend there was especially appreciated because of the uncertain future of the ELA.  We also were thrilled to spend a few days with our new pals, Mike, Carmen and their adorable kidlets. Speaking of being thankful, this year in particular my gratitude goes out to having found some great people to hang with already in our new city.

Have reconnected with Mike and Carmen (folks from our Calgary past), and realizing their kids and ours were going to be friends from the get go, has made our transition to Winnipeg much smoother. A big 'Thank you' to Jess for hooking us all back up:)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 1, 2012

WAG by day, WAG by night

This weekend the Winnipeg Art Gallery (the WAG) celebrated it's 100th year anniversary with ongoing birthday celebrations throughout the day.

The kids and I checked out the festivities, taking in the Winnipeg Now exhibit and family activities on the roof top of the museum.

Then when they were safely tucked into bed, I headed back downtown to meet up with Jennie for a girl's night out, to celebrate Winnipeg's Nuit Blanche.

The concept of Nuit Blanche started in France in the mid 1980s and Winnipeg is celebrating it's third event - coinciding with Culture Days.

Jennie and I toured the downtown core on our bikes from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. A slightly different vantage (and audience) than during the day, it was a great night out on the town with a new friend. Thanks Jennie!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Playing Tourists

One of the perks of moving around is all the new adventures and places to discover. This weekend was chock-a-block full of new sights, and sounds, and smells for that matter. Instead of the anticipated start of swimming lessons, we got a call saying that they had been cancelled which was first met with tears and disappointment. To which I responded....well what should we do instead?

So we pulled out our list of must do's and hit the town. The kids and I headed across town to Assiniboine Park and found a fantastic Seuss-like world of playground equipment and garden creatures.  Sunday we took in the family fall festival at Fort Whyte Alive  which is an natural habitat and outdoor interpretive park with floating boardwalks and plenty  of resident Canada geese, to which Roscoe was totally enthralled with.

I'm getting the feeling that Winnipegers really know how to spend time outdoors!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Muddy Waters

This past weekend we made our first trek outside the city limits and ventured north to check out the big lake! I did a little research and learned that Lake Winnipeg, and the city for that matter, was named after the Cree language word: wīnipēk, meaning "muddy waters".

Although the term doesn't do it justice, because what we found was a fantastic picnic spot on a white pebbly beach that stretched for miles out of sight in both directions overlooking the expansive body of water. The water looked a little chilly, but certainly not muddy.

On the suggestion of our new friends, Chris and Jennie - we spent the afternoon in the picturesque town of 'Gimli', about an hour drive north of the city. Gimli is an icelandic settlement, that still boasts to have the largest Icelandic population off the island itself.

Different from the 'lake culture' we are familiar with back in BC, it will be great to explore the cottage country and walk along a few piers this year. I quickly realized that the sailboats, floating buoys and fishing shanties is all new for my kids. They loved it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Location, location, location

It shouldn't surprise me that since we are on our third 're-location' in recent years, that we have learned something along the way. Moving from one place to one less familiar also means gambling a bit in terms of where and what neighborhood is ideal.

I am quickly learning that there are some really fantastic communities amidst this seemingly vast city. You'd think I'd have been more proactive and have hit the net before we chose where we should live, but really with only one condition in mind, there wasn't much to do but wait for the right rental to come along.

And miraculously it did. Our one condition being that it had to be close to the university, seemed odd to some - with so many more desirable and interesting communities to choose from a little farther out. But as we learned from our graduate school experience in Utah, being close to home means we get to see more of Robin.

With the help of a fellow faculty here at the University, we scored a perfect rental. Close enough to skateboard to the studio and still sleep in and not be late for class.

Most of my 'web research on the Winnipeg has come post-move, and I happened upon this site recently which will be fun to scour for fun neighborhoods to explore - for things other than rentals.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

If there were no such thing as change, there would be no butterflies!

I learned a valuable lesson from my daughter this summer, and that is  - it is okay to take a little time for yourself to adjust to change that lays ahead, even before the change arrives itself!

Our summer in the valley was both fabulous and ambitiously full. Projects that included summer camps, visits from faraway friends and family, building a new storage shed on the property, a family reunion 1500km away, our annual summer studio show and sale, jumping through the hoops and logistics of building a new soda kiln. Whew! Not to mention packing and getting ready for our move to Winnipeg.

Thinking back, we didn't really give ourselves much time to even think about what lay ahead as we scrambled to keep up with what was happening each day.

But we still made time for lazy afternoons at the beach, time in the garden and GNTs on the deck.

And somehow it all came together and we pulled out of Winlaw on the 27th of August and made the cross country trek to Manitoba, hauling our beds, bikes and belongings in our trusty trailer.

And now I'm taking a moment to catch my breath and consider the changes in our lives - from rural to urban living, from preschool to Kindergarten, from Grade 1 to Grade 2, from studio potter to university instructor, from pacific standard time to central daylight, from mountain town to prairie city!

I hope that throughout this next year I'll be able to instil in my children that life is an adventure and that great things come in the way of changes.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer bouquets

Can't beat wildflower bouquets picked by your children.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pie on the menu

Pie has been on the menu at our house....which is an indication of life returning to normal for me. Robin is back in the Kootenays with us at long last and we are all over the moon to have him home. We celebrated his return with a rhubarb pie, with rhubarb from our garden. Can't get any sweeter than that. Welcome home daddy! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

After the rains

The last day of the holiday long weekend here was wet, and the rain kept up all night long last night. On the drive to school this morning, there was even a little mud slide that had come down the mountain and had made its way across the highway, making for some early morning excitement.

By late-afternoon the clouds had cleared enough for us to go adventuring on a new forest path that Grandma Lady had spent time coursing out earlier in the day despite the rain.

The kids loved the new trail and the early evening sunshine made for a beautiful walk through the woods.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Gift of Friendship

I enjoyed the double whammy of celebrating both my birthday and Mother's Day this past weekend. And what better place to celebrate than the home of the World's largest Mall?  Huh!?! I know, I'm not much of a shopper, but my birthday gifts this year were all about the people, not the destination.

We chalked up another epic road trip on our growing list of them, packing up last week and driving back to Alberta, and this time our destination was Edmonton.

The trip was planned around a solo exhibition that Robin was having at the Alberta Craft Council. With a car full of pots we headed north to make an early morning delivery last Thursday.

With the opening reception planned for Saturday, we knew we'd have a couple days to fill and had made plans to meet up with some fabulous friends and family that we don't get to see often enough.

The cherry on top was that our very dear friends came all the way from Saskatoon with their three kids to meet us.

Together our crew of 4 adults and 5 children, took the WEM by day....waterpark, mall attractions, roller coaster rides...we did it all (well, we skipped the shopping part) and overran the hotel by night....

Friendship really is the best gift ever! Thank you to all my friends and family for all the birthday and Mother's Day wishes.