Archive for the 'the family project' Category

Goals for 2015: Blog More (With added BONUS: Vacation Photos!)

Happy 2015!

I love this time of year.  All those brand new months in the calendar, unmarked and unknown.  Everything is fresh with promise.

Of course, I’ve spent plenty of early-Januaries feeling energized and inspired, only to spend the following late-Februaries wearing the same sweatpants for three days straight and eating a lot of chips.  I even went on a “resolution boycott” for a spell because I thought such things were just setting me up for failure.

However.  I’ve since changed my perspective.  It wasn’t the resolutions that set me up for failure, it was my lack of a plan.  Thanks to Ishita Gupta, I’ve recently developed a plan for 2015.  And while it is admittedly very early in the year to know if it’s working or not, it definitely feels like it is!

One such resolution (of the common “has-definitely-failed-in-the-past” variety) was to blog more often.  I never wrote it down, I just kinda… thought it. “Blog more.” And judging by the number of blog posts I made in 2014 (a whopping nine), I didn’t do so well.

But this year is a new year.  I have a plan.  And — nerd alert! — it even includes a spreadsheet.  The goal is to post every two weeks.  Bonus points if it’s even more than that.

In short, you will be seeing me again!  Soon!  (In two weeks!!)


Until then, here are a few photos from our recent family trip to the beautiful Dominican Republic.  As our clan is split between Toronto and LA, it is rare for us to be under one roof at once.  So to have enjoyed that time together over the holidays was utter bliss.  (Also, staring at photos from warm and sunny places can make one feel warmer, right?  Me and my long underwear really hope so!)











California love (the vacation recap edition — part one).



So we’re back from California (again).  It’s really hard not to love it there.  With the sunshine, ocean, and beautiful people — seriously, what is not to love??


Speaking of beautiful people, here’s a couple snaps of my favourite California girl, Gemma (whom I just adore to bits — but mostly because she’s willing to share her crayons with me).




Alas, our time in LA is never long enough.  So, a heartbeat and too-few-photos later, we were en route to Palm Springs where we met up with even more cuties, Adele and Preston (who was just 8 weeks old!):





While it’s lovely to be surrounded by such sweetness, I can’t lie.  The real reason we were there was this: Coachella!!!!!

(To be continued…)


LA for the holidays.

We have a niece named Gemma.  She just turned 2.  She likes barrettes, edamame and colouring.  And while we’d go absolutely anywhere to be with her, thankfully she lives in LA so this far from hardship.

Over the ten days we sang songs, built sand castles, and pretended to talk on the phone.  It was awesome.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of said activities because I was busy playing.

But here’s a few that I did take.



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Gosh I miss her already.


Just a coupla’ quick ones from Coachella….





Brooklyn-bound… and Back – Part 2



The Sketchbook Project 2013 Tour kicked off this past Friday, at the Brooklyn Art Library.

When we arrived, the place was jammed.  It was full with people.  And the walls lined entirely with sketchbooks.




I felt overwhelmed at first.  I didn’t know what to do: get a library card, take photos, or just touch everything.  I mean, c’mon — look at all those books!

Luckily, someone had the wherewithal to corral us together and that’s when Husbo snapped this photo (that’s me with my niece and co-collaborator, Sol):



There was a lot to see and I was keen to get started.  So we got ourselves some library cards and went at it.



The above two illustrations are from a book that was attributed to “YLHS Artists” from Yorba Linda, CA.






Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the artist who did the amazingly detailed pen drawings in the third photo — but if anyone knows, holla!



I only caught a glimpse but instantly loved this sketchbook by Steph Nelson from San Francisco, CA — it featured well-known masterpieces but made better with cats!

It was returned before I could flip through it myself but I’ll definitely remember to check it out when the tour comes to Toronto.




I caught Tania, Sol’s mama, looking through our book.  I think she liked it a lot (though she may be biased).



I also checked out Pam’s book.  Here’s Husbo reading it with our nephew, Dryden.




Sol and her pal Darla went through a whole whack of great books together.  I managed to sneak a peek at this one by Maury Tieman from Austin, TX.  I loved the cut-out keyhole and it also included a fold-out map!


We stayed so long looking at books that we shut the place down.

If I lived closer, I’m pretty sure I’d be there every day, happily combing my way through the stacks.

But in the meantime, I’ll just sit on my hands and count the days until the tour comes to Toronto.


Only 93 to go.


Brooklyn-bound… and Back – Part 1

So the Sketchbook Project 2013 tour has officially begun and I’m so happy that we were able to see it all kick off.




We left Toronto under gloomy grey skies.  And then rose above to one that was a brilliant blue…



…on our way to New York City.



I became a photographer because of New York City.

When we first met in 2000, I fell in love.  And I know you know what I mean.  It’s a special place.

At the time, photography was something I already loved but, after New York, it became a dream.  New York City showed me what was possible and, after that fateful trip, I never looked back.


Even in 2003, when I made the cross-country odyssey from Victoria to Toronto, it was New York that pulled me eastward.  Toronto was supposed to be a pit stop.


Given all this, it’s surprising that I haven’t been back in 10 years.  It’s a super-short plane ride from Toronto and just 8 hours by car.  In the same amount of time, one can reach Edmonton from Saskatoon and for many, that’s an easy long weekend.


But as the date of our trip loomed closer, I felt myself not wanting to go.  What if I fell in love all over again, casting my current life in Toronto as second-rate, a compromise that I’ve settled for out of complacency?


Ready or not, I was about to find out.


The Sketchbook Project 2013

Last July, my friend Pam invited me to an exhibition at the Gladstone Hotel.

As she explained the premise, my simple brain only heard:





The place was packed and there were people everywhere: standing in circles, gathered ’round tables, sitting on the floor.  All looking at sketchbooks.

Some books were clad in what I assumed was their original brown craft covers.  But there were plenty others.  One was thick and swaddled in periwinkle blue velvet.  Another was green and furry like a Muppet.


I have a 10-year old niece who loves glitter glue too.  I thought, she has to see this.


The Sketchbook Project, as I later learned it was called, is a traveling library of artists’ books created by thousands of people from all over the world.

And it was in Toronto for the one weekend only.


There were thousands of books, each different from the next.  I wanted to see them all.

I tried rapid check-outs, peeked over shoulders, talked with strangers, even sneaked a few quick flips through books in the box initially labelled “return books here” but with the later addition of “don’t touch please”.


We went on Friday and I brought my niece on the Sunday.  I remembered a few of my favourites* and checked them out again so she could see them.  She thought they were pretty cool.


On a lark, I asked her if she’d like to make one with me for next year’s tour.  She said yes!  So, we signed ourselves up and took home our brand-new, pristine sketchbook.

A label with both our names was printed on the back.  Her last name was cut short and it flicked off the tongue like a familiar nickname.  I watched her try it on for size.


The sketchbook came with its own sleeping bag.


For the following several months, we quietly and steadily worked away on our little project together.

In addition to our many “crafting” dates and field trips, we talked on the phone, we emailed, we FaceTime’d and discussed ideas.  It ended up being completely different from what we’d originally planned but I think we both learned to enjoy the process — and the surprise — of seeing the book slowly evolve and emerge.

Of course, neither of us had much skill, expertise or endurance to draw upon (she’s 10 and I’m a total amateur), so it definitely bears the clumsy marks of inexperience.

But in the end, we finished it and were pretty happy with it so that’s that.


One time, as we worked on the book, my niece said to me:

Wouldn’t it be cool to be in Brooklyn when the tour starts?

Yeah, it would be.

We should go.


I didn’t think we would go.

But as it happens, the tour starts on Friday.  And we are going to be there.


Pam also submitted a book.  It’s beautiful and she wrote a blog post about it here.


I didn’t take many in-progress shots but here are a few snaps I posted on Instagram:

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For those of you not in Brooklyn this weekend, don’t fret: the tour hits 7 other cities, including a return to the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, June 7 – 9, 2013.


*Speaking of favourites, one I loved was “bits and bobs” by Rachel Vater.  It tells a whimsical story entirely with cut-paper.  It’s in their digital library so you can see it here but the scans, unsurprisingly, don’t do it justice — it must be seen in person to be fully appreciated.


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