Dapple Design Shop will be CLOSED FOR CHRISTMAS from December 10, 2016 to January 4, 2017.

Monday, 23 December 2013


Christmas is here.  I braved the grocery store one last time today and spent the rest of the morning in the kitchen, tucking yummy things away for the next couple of days.  Did I finish everything I wanted to?  No.  Not even close.  But I'm calling it quits and taking a little rest before the fun begins.

I don't feel like I'm really ready for Christmas until I've spent a little time in contemplation.  Something about the season makes old scares prickle and I have to let a few tears fall.  Then I'm ready for joy and peace and hope.

Sitting here by the fire, I'm looking around our home -- all is quiet now -- anticipating.  Will Little Miss S sense the importance of the day?  Will she like the paper and boxes best of all?  Will she know how loved she is as she empties her stocking?  Everything I want this Christmas, I already have.

Wishing you much joy this Christmas.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

O Christmas Tree

Tree day came in several parts this year, but not because we love the tree so much that we can't get enough.  It was collision of busy life and a dried out tree from a box store.  With one string of lights around the bottom and two dust pans full of needles we made the anticlimactic call to abort decorating and take it back.  Sigh.

Buying from a box store was convenient but ultimately foolish, so we didn't waste our second chance.  On a misty Saturday morning, with tummies full of warm pancakes, we wound our way out to Gravel Mart, where they sell trees with beads of dew and the aroma of the forest.  

We're real-tree people.  We both grew up that way.  Fake trees just don't do and this year's tree experience (false start and all) reminds me why.  There's something unbeatable about the fragrance of a real tree.  The boughs are still damp.  I catch little sniffs of Christmas with every ornament.  For me, it's worth sweeping up dropped needles and maintaining the water level.

What about you?  Real tree or fake?

Friday, 13 December 2013

A Personal Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light

New camera in hand, I'm busy learning the ins and outs of taking good photos.  Donna's monthly photo challenge plays into that so nicely, that I'm giving it a try for the first time.  These photos are taken with my Nikon 1 J2 and a basic 10-30mm lens.  I used Picasa to bring the shadows up a bit, but that's it for editing.

Little Miss and I snuggled right up to the glass patio door to try out some new window stickers.  She was entranced.  One of the articles that Donna recommended reading talked about going into the garage to take photos with dramatic light.  I don't have a garage, so I tried the window.  It's winter on the Pacific coast, so we had a grey sky and a little drizzle to work with.  Even so, we had nice directional light coming in.  I like the modeling on Miss's face and hands, and the blurred out garden in the background.  There's a term for that blurred effect, but I don't know what it is.

Going to black and white really emphasizes the shape of Miss's face and I appreciate the contrast between the bright garden and the very dark inside of the house.  But is one eye too much darker than the other?  Something strikes me as not quite right.

I ducked outside for this one and took the photo through the glass window.  The trickiest part of this set up was avoiding my own reflection in the glass; it required just the right angle.  The light was oblique enough that everything reflected on the window.  Of course, that's what makes it such an unusual photo.

This photo reminds me of a certain artist whose works we use to see when I was young in Ecuador.  He liked to paint translucent bubbles and steam trains flying in the air above his surreal landscapes.  Here, Miss S looks out at the world -- at a wood floor and a shed with cedar siding, at trees and planters, at dining room chairs and lawn chairs -- with an expression of wonder.  A dismembered snowman floats by.  It's not my favorite picture, but it gets the imagination going.

Does anyone have thoughts on that black eye in the second photo?  I'd appreciate tips of any kind.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

It's a Marshmallow World in the Winter

I just looked out the window; the snow is officially melting.  For the first time since Thursday the lawn is more green than white.  My eyes dart around the yard, finding the places where these photos were taken just days ago, and it's hard to fathom the difference.  A couple of degrees on the thermometer and a little precipitation and suddenly the great outdoors is a magical, marshmallow wonderland.  Suddenly everyone wants to play Christmas music and bake cookies.

I really wanted to have a magical snow day, to throw snow balls and do that baking.  It didn't quite pan out.  But I did take my Little Miss outside a couple of times to meet the snow.  We didn't get any last year -- not a single flake -- so this was her first snowfall.  She was intrigued, glued to the window, repeating "snow, snow".  Coat.  Hat.  Boots.  Mittens.  Outside, she was less impressed.  Concern that it stuck to everything gave way to cold hands and we were back inside, crying, in 15 minutes flat.  Oh well.

It's been cold cold cold all week, but with bright blue skies.  Invigorating.  The Little Miss got used to the snow.  Today, however, the familiar grey is back.  Warmer temperatures are pulling things back into equilibrium.  Over the years, living here on the west coast, I've gotten used to the dark, monotone world at Christmas time.  It makes the light even brighter.

Just a reminder that my Give Away will be open all week.  You can enter here.

What kind of weather do you typically get for Christmas?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Give Away Day

This Give Away is now Closed.  

The winner, selected by random number generator, is lucky comment #21.
Congratulations Tammy.  You'll be getting an email soon.

Thank you to all who entered, and to Sew Mama Sew for hosting Give Away Day.

It's about time I gave something away.  I'm looking beyond Christmas with this selection.  And why not, once the holidays pass we all need something bright and cheerful to carry us through the remaining darkness and into spring.  I think these pretty pink and green prints will do the trick.

Would you like to be the lucky winner of these eco-friendly cloth gift bags?  You'll get:
- a Medium sized cloth gift bag in pink and green with pink ribbon tie,
- a Wine bottle cloth gift bag in green stripe print with pink ribbon tie and
- a set of three book-page gift tags.

All lovingly crafted by yours truly.

To enter this give away, please visit the Dapple Design Shop on Etsy and look around.  Then come back here and leave a comment telling me what you liked best.  It's that easy.

Contest closes Friday, December 13 at noon, Pacific Standard Time.
Open to readers in Canada and the United States.
Winner will be selected randomly and notified early next week.

Please Like my Facebook page as well.  It won't help you in the give away, but you'll be more likely to hear about future contests and events.

Good luck!

Linking to Give Away Day at Sew Mama Sew.

Monday, 2 December 2013


The skies are bright and clear and it's cold out there today.  Coat and hat and mitts.  I always take care to bundle my Little Miss these days, but getting out the door can be such a feat that sometimes I skip my own coat.  I made that mistake this morning and was it ever cold.  The car doors stuck a little.  What was I thinking?  Fortunately, it was a short drive -- just a couple of turns to drop off Miss S for her play date.  Next week, her little friend will come here for a morning.  It's a good arrangement.

The extra light and the clear sky (and maybe that shock of cold) must have breathed energy into me, because I spent this morning on a serious de-cluttering of the house.  I'm writing from an armchair by the fire where I can admire the open floor, the books neatly lined up, the gleam of light on empty surfaces.  After a week of heavy, grey skies outside and the flu inside I really needed to clean out the cobwebs -- literally and metaphorically.  All is right in my world and I feel ready to step into Christmas.

What brings alignment to your world?