Kourtney Robinson – Dollybird Workshop Rotating Header Image


About family

What Is It About Tiny Things?

I’m not obsessed with miniatures, by any means.  I don’t have a collection of any wee little things, unless you count buttons or stitch markers as miniatures; I think of them more as tools of my craft.  But occasionally when I run into a tiny replica of something, it evokes a visceral SQUEE IT IS SO TINY reflex in my brain.  No idea why.  Maybe it’s something to do with childhood memories, of being a small person in a big world?  I don’t know that it actually matters why I get pleasure from miniatures, I just do.  I was exceptionally pleased with myself when I came up with a plan for Mother’s Day.  At the garden center, I’d picked up a couple flats of succulent ground cover (I’m slowly planting them all over the place).  I was admiring them and thought… these would be so sweet in a tea cup! Or a little mason jar*!  I HAVE MASON JARS OH YES IT’S ON!


So I rounded up my little mason jars (and I put their rings on them, just to make them look a little festive), and I put a bit of sand** in the bottom of each.  (Mason jars with sand… Pinterest eat your heart out!)


I carefully ripped appropriately sized chunks of succulents out of the flat.  I know careful tearing sounds like an oxymoron, but I learned last year that a) the roots grow together like whoa and b) there are two different layers of a plastic mesh woven through the roots.  It adds stability to the plants as a whole but does make it hard to cut it into pieces.  Then I lovingly nestled plants into each jar; topped the edges up with sand, and gave them a teaspoon of water each.


And I decided to bust out my Tiny Mail Activity Kit*** and make little tiny letters for each recipient.  I’d love to say I wrote something deep and heartfelt in each letter, but my tiny writing skills are not so sharp, so I stuck to “Happy Mother’s Day”.  The envelope isn’t much bigger than my thumbnail.


Then I sent them out to the world!  The littles delivered a couple around our neighborhood; and I have a couple that I hope to get delivered today.  Moms will understand the lateness.

And moms that are out in the world, know that I wish you well even if you are too far away for one of my kids to drop off a little jar of plants. It’s a tough job, and you are doing great.  And if you can’t accept that you are doing great****, accept that  you are doing the best you can, and when you can do better, you will.


*I know.  Mason jars.  They are part of the hipster craftpocalypse.  I used them at Xmas to hold hand scrubs.  I am refusing to go buy more even though LOOK AT THE TINY PLANTER!!

**Sand recently released from the tyranny of the sand box.  Part of mud kitchen/garden supplies now.

***I can`t describe the awesome.  Just go look at it.  Leafcutter Design’s Tiny Mail Activity Kit.

****Slightly uncomfortable look in the mirror, here.

Taking Care of Things

And by “Things” I mean taking care of myself, taking care of other humans, taking care of furbabies, and the garden.  And the assorted roles I’ve committed myself to – friend, designer, bookkeeper, landlord, volunteer.  You may have noticed that I put myself first on that list – there is a reason for that.  I can’t take care of anything else, if I don’t take care of myself first.


Part of that self-care is confronting that my depression was on the upswing, despite loads of self-talk, lots and lots of physical exercise (I am training for a 10K run), prescription medication, and so much love and support.  I say “was” because I’m watching it with my full attention now.  This time, the depression isn’t post-partum; it’s situational.  The situation is in large part beyond my control, and not even really about me, so I’m not going to share a lot about it.

To clarify – even though it’s not about me, I’m still affected by it.  Imagine driving down the road, and the guy coming towards you has an epic sneeze and swerves his car into yours.  Now, the sneeze isn’t about you – but you’re still left dealing with the results, right?  Right.  That’s how this is, but no  sneezes or cars are involved.   I have set boundaries, I’ve communicated about the boundaries and the consequences if they aren’t respected.  I’ve done everything else possible with the situation that I can think of.


Now I need to focus on mindfully caring for myself and the people and things in my world.  The littles are thriving – they both got haircuts and are looking so sophisticated!**  The man is good.  And most exciting, spring is well underway!  I am so happy to be out working in the yard.  I admit to some concern that we appear to be a solid month ahead of where things usually are… gardening in Calgary means Never, Ever Plant Anything Until After May Long Weekend***.  I can see the point where I’m at Costco, sucuumb to temptation, fill the cart with tender annuals, come home and plant all the things.  Then I’d watch it snow two days later.

It will snow.  I know it will.  I have seen snow in every month of the year, here in Calgary.  It doesn’t stay long, in the summer months, but that “chubby rain” can happen at any time.  Tell me it’s too soon to go get dill and marigolds and set them out.  I’ll content myself by weeding around the perennials and researching rhubarb recipes.


Can you believe the size of my rhubarb?  That is more than two feet tall.  I’ve got to go pick some and make something.  Every year, I feel like the rhubarb and I are in competition.  I’m trying to pick and use enough to keep it from going to seed, and it’s trying to grow fast enough to bury me under  rhubarb muffins.


And a last photo to close with; this are the new leaves on our trees out front.  They will be green soon; but that first tender gold of spring gives me hope.

*Well, I’m taking it easy on running for the week because I think I overextended or strained a hamstring.

**Okay, well, the new haircuts look terrific when their hair is brushed.  And when it isn’t brushed, they are still cute as anything.

***Exception: Sweet peas.  They are amazingly cold-resistant.  Pop the seeds in the dirt as soon as you can work it.

An Afghan for the Big E

We woke up to snow.  The kids are happy about it and I don’t even mind that much – but this photo of roses from Costco made me smile so I thought I’d share it.  Plus, it matches the afghan.


Anyways – we sometimes call  my father -in-law the Big E.  He recently changed his living situations and in lieu of trying to tell him how much we all care and how we think and worry about him, I turned to what many would turn to: yarn*.

I decided to make him an afghan.  The colour choices were predicated both by his room decor and his favorite hockey team**; the fiber was chosen because of the anticipated laundering techniques.  And it’s a crochet blanket because for some reason, blankets are better if they are crochet.***

I started off using Fireworks Blanket by Becky Simmons.  As usual, I am bad at following patterns,  so it became more of a guideline for me.  That is purely a reflection of me – the pattern was well written and clear and it’s a clever way to make a granny square really engaging.  I used Uptown Acrylic Worsted, and it’s a very fine yarn, for something that is acrylic and meant to be machine washed and dried.


I was making excellent progress, and actually almost finished, when I noticed something.  I had borked a notch; about three rounds back I’d forgotten one decrease.  Now, I rip back work merrily all the time, but I was at the point in the blanket where a couple rounds of used a whole ball of yarn.  The picture above is what was SUPPOSED to happen, and did actually happen in three out of four spots.  The two pictures below are what was actually going on in that one darn spot.

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I decided to try to fix it without frogging the whole darn think.  So, armed with time (Z___ had an ortho appointment) & my Swiss Army knife (which I actually got in Switzerland), I cautiously snipped and reworked and wove ends in. IMG_8877 IMG_8878

First, I nipped the thread and unwound a certain amount of that row.  Then I did the same for the next row, and the next, until I was back to before the spot where I’d missed the decrease.


Note the three little balls of yarn, and the staggered missing rows.  I reworked the rows in order, tied a solid knot between the sections of each row, and wove in the ends.


I don’t know if this is actually the way to do things with crochet – but it seemed to make sense.  And the big knot seemed right because crochet is really just a series of knots, anyways.  I’m really much more of a knitter.


Ta-dah!  It took less than an hour – and that’s much less time that it would have to rip it all back and rework it.  If you know what you are looking for and you are actually holding the blanket in your hands, you can tell it’s there, but for the muggle or everyday use, it’s not noticeable.


The finished blanket is about six feet square – I was aiming for something nice to snuggle under while sitting in a chair.  The Big E was a tad confused but pleased by the gift, and I hope he’s using it today while it snows.


(This is a sort of terrible finished object picture – it doesn’t show the blanket off to it’s best.  And it’s before I’d washed and dried and washed and then hung it dry – the shape has properly flattened out and all the joins held.)

I’m off to the gym – I’ve already shovelled the driveway but my fair weather habit of exercise should carry into the winter work-out, right?


*“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” – Elizabeth Zimmerman

**The Edmonton Oilers.  I found it funny watching Calgarians admire the afghan in progress, and then recoil when they realized it was the OILERS.

***Totally irrational.  Also, not always true, I made a lovely knitted blanket once.  Godzilla vs. Evenstar

Aloha <3

Oh, how I love Maui.  The energy there, the sun, the water, the whales and sea turtles… Also the complete lack of snow.

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(This is in a lava field near a beach – all the white rocks are coral.)

We recently spent a week and a half in Maui.  It was even better than I thought it might be – turns out that travelling with a five and seven year old is infinitely easier than travelling with a five month old and a two year old.  The lack of diapers and regular nap time and the addition of some basic self-preservation and reasoning skills really makes a difference!

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I don’t know how many times during the holiday someone asked where we were from.  “Canada?  There are sure a lot of Canadians here!”  Yes, we have winter.  Winter like winter really means it.

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People from San Diego and San Francisco do indeed have winter, I’m sure.  I’m also pretty sure that it’s an unpleasant cold, not a murderous cold.  You know, the kind of cold that will kill you if you go out without “appropriate clothing*”.  I really hope that I didn’t offend either of the lovely Californian women I was chatting with; I did manage not to burst into hysterical laughter and that will have to make up for whatever look was on my face as they were assuring me that it really does get cold at home.

I didn’t get as much knitting done on holiday as I have in the past – partially because the kids no longer need naptime, and partially because I mis-planned my holiday knitting.  I’ve been working on a large worsted shawl and I want to finish it, so I brought that along to be my primary knitting project.  I was hoping that I’d get it done, because it’s sort of mindless knitting.  It’s a large project, but I figured that would be okay.

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(There was the odd nap, I admit…)

It turns out that I could deal with the large project in my lap, but I had a hard time with the yarn.  You see, it’s a wool/silk/camel blend, and I’m using an undyed version.  Turns out when the undyed yarn gets even a little damp, it smells like a dirty, wet camel**.

Wet camel stench is an effective de-motivator, who knew?  I’m not concerned in the long run; I’ve wet-blocked this yarn when its dyed, and never noticed the camel stink, so I may need to wash the shawl a couple times but I’m sure it’ll all turn out well in the end.  I’m not done the shawl, but I think it’s safe to assume that my couch is not prone to rogue waves so I’ll keep plugging along at it.

…and I’ll end with another gratuitous holiday photo.

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*Parka, snow pants, hat, mittens, scarf; plus possibly long underwear and two or three pairs of socks.

**I’ve never smelled a wet camel but I have smelled dry camels and that was enough that I can infer that they would smell BAD when wet.

Family Changes, Part Two

  Yes, it’s part two of the family changes updates!  Although perhaps it should be “Part Mew”.

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Yes, we got a kitten.  Mr. Tiberius Kittenbritches is about four months old now, and he is Siamese.  I’ve been looking on and off at Siamese kitten listings, and could never find any that were less than a thousand dollars.


Now, I am attached to Siamese as a breed because of their personalities, but also because they don’t bug my allergies so much.  And although there are many many adult Siamese available for adoption, I thought that a kitten would integrate into our household better and be less stress for Suki and more fun for my kids.  (Suki’s face there is saying “Wait, does he have my tail?)


A____ has taken a real shine to him.  E___ likes him to play with but is averse to snuggles… Odd, but there you go.  Z___ has gotten over her initial disappointment that we didn’t name him Oliver and they are fast friends too.


You may not be able to tell – Suki is a lynx point Siamese who I’ve had for 13 years (he was a shelter cat).  In the above photo, he’s sitting by the man, and A____ is leaning forward and Kittenbritches is sort of beside her.

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Here is the little dude asleep and hugging Z’s arm… I have a disproportionate number of photos of him being mellow and adorable.  I mean, he is adorable, and quite mellow for a Siamese kitten.  But he’s also a kitten, and when he’s moving, he’s usually moving fast.  Which means I have a good selection of fuzzy blur photos.

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He protecting me from my knitting book.  There are any number of hazards around; who knew that we were in danger from a green feather boa, a slinky, and the man’s shoes?*


This shows Suki and Britches’ comparative size (and derpiness).  Britches’ points will darken up as he gets older, he’s a seal point.  He also has his head stuck in my circular knitting needle (the derp, it is strong with all kittens).  Suki is looking disproving yet patient.

And yes, I have about seven million more cat photos.  I’m doing my best not to wallpaper them everywhere, although really.  KITTY KITTY KITTY MOAR KITTY PHOTO!…

*Well, the shoes are very large. If you’ve ever tripped over a pair in our entryway then you might see Kittenbritches’ point.

Family Changes, Part One

Forgive me if I’m a bit scattered.  I’m coming off the end of a migraine and my brain is more aphasia-prone than normal.  (Incidentally, I find it funny and ironic that I can usually remember the word aphasia*, even if I’m feeling it.

Anyways.  This is the first in a series of three about some recent changes in our little family.  About a month ago, my darling niece Z___ came to live with us.  She’s 16, and entirely funny and wonderful.  I have guardianship of her, so she and I have been explaining things as basically, it’s like we adopted her and now she has bonus extra siblings and parents.  I’m not sure how much of a bonus the siblings seem like sometimes when they are fighting with each other – or lamenting whatever**- but she seems happy here and we are very happy to have her around.

She’s going to be finishing up her high school – if we ever get in to the guidance counsellor at her school! – and that will be online courses.  And more exciting (for me), she’s started running!  I have a running buddy!  We are very slow runners; and although we are both tall and fairly lean we each seem to have sad, asthma afflicted lungs, so our cardio is our weak point.  We did run one 5K; and we run every other day.  While we aren’t tearing up the track with our speed, I know that I for sure feel better after a run.  That’s my whole motivation for running, actually: I just feel so good after a run.  I know the cardio benefits are good, and the impact bearing exercise is a good preventative for osteoporosis, and blah blah, but really: I’m running for my brain.  Other benefits are secondary.

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This is me at the end of the the 5K colour run, and that wore the new right off those sneakers!  Z____ got new running gear at the same time (it was her back-to-school outfit), and while they used to be incandescent, they no longer hurt the eyes when you look directly at them.

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I did get all the colours out of my white running bra, but those shoelaces are still turning my fingers turquoise.

All right, I’m going to go make a pie.  It’s random, I agree, but I’m not quite focused enough for clever segues.

*Aphasia – it’s basically when something is up with your brain and you can’t word very well.  Transient aphasia is common for migraine sufferers and thankfully it’s mild for me.   No long term brain injuries here, thanks.


As I Drift Off, Almost Every Night…

Almost every night as I’m falling asleep, my brain starts popping up with clever ideas for blog posts.  Inevitably, I wake up to a busy day and completely forget whatever it was I was going to say…

(Spoiler alert: I had a great idea but it’s gone now so this is just going to be a rambling post.)

It’s been a while.  In short, Italy and France was fantastic.  Truly lovely,  and I’m looking forward to going through my photos and memories and posting about some of my favourite experiences.

We got back from holiday, and fell into the mad swoop of the end of the school year.  Both girls are doing well, although I think E’s heart might break a bit when kindergarten starts and she doesn’t have her (much-loved) pre-K teacher.  I’ve tried to explain, but it’s hard to say how much her busy little four year old brain has processed.

Summer holidays are going well.  We spent most of the first two weeks at splash parks here in town, then we went to Saskatchewan* for a couple weeks.  July was the quieter of the two months; August had a wedding we travelled to, and there’s a family reunion this weekend (again in Saskatchewan**).  Next weekend is the playground build here on our cul-de-sac… Did I not mention the playground?  I’ve played a very small part in helping to replace the playground here on our block.  Raffle tickets, grant applications, and planning, oh my.

I’ve also reorganized the kids’ rooms – from having seperate bedrooms to sharing one!  They are both very excited about it; it’s a big thrill and a treat.  I suspect the double bunk beds help. :)


This is a panoramic of their room – I didn’t repaint, but the furnishings are new to the room/repurposed.  Each bunk has a curtain that can be closed.


These are the steps for the bunk bed – I had one of the step chests from Ikea in E’s room, and I got another (which I merrily chopped down one step), and now there are stairs AND storage!  Book shelves for the win!

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Each of the dressers are new, and above them I put some of the artwork I feel is special for each of my girls.  Their names are really neat – when we were in Hawaii four years ago, there was a street artisan who painted them for us.  Each letter is made up of different images.


And the piece de resistance – a disco ball.  It rotates, and has little LED lights that are quite hypnotizing.  I admit to wanting one for myself, too.  Disco ball and dressers and steps are from Ikea; the bed is from a company in BC that ships to Calgary for free.  All in all, everyone is delighted with the room.

Their room is the biggest project I’ve finished lately – I keep trying to pick raspberries from the yard, but I tragically forget to take a bowl so I have to eat them all!  There aren’t really enough to do anything but eat anyhow.  It’s a memorial garden for my Gramma – she had the most extraordinary raspberry FOREST when I was little.   The patch is only in its third year; next year I think it’ll produce enough to maybe make one little batch of jam.  Until then, it’s berries from the farmer’s market for me.  Or a U-pick farm, although I don’t think there’s enough time to accomplish that…

So, this isn’t quite an essay about how I spent my summer, but it’s pretty close, and the laundry is waiting for me.  Hopefully I’ll remember the clever blog ideas in future, although you, dear reader, may be stuck with a random slapdash*** for a while.

*This trip, the man and I divided and conquered which means that I drove the kids down seperately.  It’s a LONG DRIVE when you aren’t knitting or sleeping…

**This time, we are all travelling together, so I’ll be knitting! Hurray!

***I know, I know.  Random slapdash is one of my strengths.

Have A Jelly Halloween!

So, Am said she wanted to beJellyfish for Halloween.  I thought it was a great idea for several reasons.  First, not a princess.  Second, interesting.  Third, a fun challenge to sew.

It’s a simple costume, when it comes down to it; it just took me a little while to get a clear idea on how to best approach it.  There were several intermediary stages… First, there was the “flying nun”:


Then “Stagette gone Wild!”


But when you put the two together, you get a jellyfish hat.


(A couple more tweaks needed…)

I used a $6 cowgirl hat from the dollar store, and flattened the brim by ironing it.  Then I attached the streamers to the edge of the brim – the white are a little feather boa I chopped up (again, dollar store!), and the pink is neon tulle that I cut into strips about 4″ wide and gathered on to elastic.  I’d sewn plastic boning in an “X” shape on the white organza (first photo), and I took advantage of the curl the boning had, and it sits on the top of the hat and hides the cowboy style hat crown.


I also made a smock dress with more streamers and fringe – so that the costume is fun to wear!  It looks best in motion…


And the rare ballerina-jellyfish hybrid is extremely cute, too…


All right, time to go make the cat his lobster costume.  Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Fear Not, Gentle Reader…

School has begun for Amoryn, and I’m delighted with the class and company she’s in.  I’m a little leery that she’s already mentioned that Everett pushed her at lunch, and that he’s the Worst Kid Ever, but I’ll see how the week plays out.  (Last year it was Noah.)*

School starting was a lot less wrenching for me this year – El is not nearly as desolated by her sister’s absence.  There was a pang (from me) and some tears (from El) this morning when we put Am on the bus… but El’s pre-k starts on Friday, so that’s a nice distraction to offer.

Because hello, HELLO KITTY!  The Hello Kitty backpack won.  Now we just need to get her some shoes that fit.  (She really like her rubber boots; I’m not sure if it’s because they are easy to put on, or they have ponies.  Either way, a tad much for late summer.)

Once Eleni is safely ensconced in her class, I am looking forward to a more regular production of knitting patterns.  Which means that you can look forward to more knit-centric posts…

*gasp* You know what I just realized?  I CAN BOOK A DENTIST’S APPOINTMENT!  Without the hassle of sorting out who will watch what children when!

Amazing.  Now, if there were a hairdresser I trusted, I could get my hair done, even… The mind, it boggles.

And speaking of mind-boggling, feast your eyes on this!  I’m planning on using these velveteens to line a coat for myself, and back some quilts.  Eleni is Very Excited.  One of the quilts is for her, you see.  The other is for our bed; I think the man will be relived that I chose a chevron as opposed to the pink flowers.  He likes flowers and all, you know, but there’s a line that needs to be drawn…

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Yes, that is a very big pink floral.  I am looking forward to eating my words regarding florals.  Clearly, I just needed a floral print that was exceptionally… uh… FLORAL.  What’s next, me liking bobbles???  I doubt that will happen, but I’m quite sure that the posts on this blog will continue to be utterly random.

A Tale Of Two Backpacks

School starts here in about a week – and Eleni needs her first backpack. To avoid anxiety and fighting I went to the store alone (acting as a personal shopper) and texted this picture to the man, and instructed him to let her choose.

If only all of life’s decisions could be so easy! Although the man said it *did* take El about ten seconds to decide. For her, that’s a really long time! Now to live through seven million years before the first day of grade 1 and pre-K…