Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

It was Quin's first Halloween.... well, that is not completely true, she did dress up as a dragon when she was 6 months old and went to hangout with Courtney and Lucas to hang out candy to Edelweiss kids, but at 2 1/2 this is the first Halloween where she actually knew what was going on. Thanks to a bit of a primer by the Bernstein Bears the day before, Quin was all geared up to dress like a giraffe and to go out hunting for candy. She doesn't get to eat much of that stuff, but she LOVES it, chocolate especially (chip of the old blocks), so we had no idea what to expect.

We started out the evening, after a Rocky Mountain Flatbread Pizza and salad dinner, by trick or treating in our cul-de-sac. We went to 4 houses, which was enough to fill Quin's pumpkin pail (thanks, BeGe), and for her to get a sweet grab bag, that included bubbles and halloween play dough!

Then, we walked down to the YWCA for their Halloween party. The weather was amazingly nice for Banff. Last year it was frigid, which is part of the reason we didn't trapes around with a 1 1/2 year old. This year was down right balmy. Our little giraffe actually got a bit overheated from being inside too long. The party at the Y was awesome, donations were accepted but not expected, and you should be ashamed of yourself if you didn't give one. There were craft tables, balloon animals and hats by Crazy Larry, cookie decorating, face painting, grab bags, a haunted house, and oodle ad oodles of costumed volunteers making oodles of kids happy.

After this we walked to the Community Grounds for a GIANT bonfire and a stellar fireworks display. Our friends Laurie, Jonathan, Kim, and Kevin joined us. There was hot chocolate and hot dogs. Once again, everything was complimentary. Banff really knows how to do things right. If anyone thinks there is no a good local community here, is totally wrong. There are so many cool things to do for families. As we walked home at the end of the evening we thanked our lucky stars that we live in suh a beautiful place where we can safely walk in the dark to all the going-ons in town. Thanks, Banff.

As for candy eating, Quin did have hot chocolate, a hot dog, a cookie, but she carried her pail of sweets all night and never asked to eat one. She even fell asleep with her beloved pail. She picked it back up in the morning and carried it around until lunch time, when I found her behind door, quietly eating Smarties, the evidence all over her face. For now, the pail is mine...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recycled Art After School Program

I have been having a great time visiting the Banff After School Program on Monday's to teach Recycled Art to the students. There are usually 10-12 students aged 6-12 years old. It is a good mix of boys and girls and everyone is very enthusiast about the projects. I plan to post about it each week now that I am not so crazy busy but I will post about the last two projects here because I am bit behind. I am going to work with the program coordinator, Cheryl, to create a manual of our projects that can be used by other programs.

A few weeks ago we had a bunch of cardboard egg cartons to use up so I decided to have the kids make some little men sleeping in bed. Think The Seven Dwarves but we only made three.

And actually they turned out to be mice, ninjas, and every other little character the kids could think of. Very fun! You can see the instructions for this project here. It is one of many projects created by Alberta Egg Producers. In addition to using up egg cartons we put to use fabric remnants from old decorator books that were given to me by an interior design shop.

This week, since it is the week of Halloween, we made spider web paintings. I saw this once on a program called Mr. Maker, which my daughter watches, and I watch with just as much interest as she does. The show is made in the UK. Check out the website which has projects. For this project we used scrap matboard, which we put into a shallow metal tray. The kids picked a paint color, we used tempera, and I squirted a good sized circle of it in the middle of the matboard. Then, the kids took a marble and stuck it in the paint, then moving the tray back and forth and round and round, the marble rolled through the paint, leaving paint trails that made up a "web". While the web dried, the kids made spiders out of colored paper, markers, and googly eyes.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PRE Birth Announcements AKA Pregnancy Announcements

I really am not sure what you call these, but I wanted to come up with a clever way to tell our families that we are expecting another child. With our daughter, we lived near my husband's family so we were able to tell them all in person. And we called all of my family to tell them. Now, we don't live near any of our family and the prospect of trying to decide whom to call first, and when we would have time to call up to 10 people to tell them, was a bit daunting. I have a book by Danny Seo, "The Green Martha Stewart" called Simply Green Parties. I read it a few months back and there was a project where he used baby clothes as invitations to a baby shower. When I was at my friend's children's shop, I noticed some used preemie onesies for a few bucks a piece and had an idea... I could turn them into pregnancy announcements, mail them all on the same day, sit back and wait for people to start calling us. This way, since everyone lived in different areas, and had different commitments and schedules, we could expect about a call a day. What a great way to make recycled announcements out of these ultra small onesies...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh My Goodness, I am 8 1/2 weeks!

My calculations were just a wee bit off, I thought I was only 6 1/2 weeks pregnant, although, I had not actually sat down with a calendar to plot it out. I wanted to wait for my first midwife appointment. Yes, I am still pinching myself, because about two weeks ago, Alberta Health announced they will begin to cover midwifery care in on April 1st, 2009! This is AMAZING news and something I have been hoping for since we moved to Alberta when our daughter was 7 months old. We had Quin in a birthing centre, in Gatineau, Quebec, with a wonderful midwives Johanne and Christine. It was such a good experience, something I will never forget, and something both Andre and I were so happy with we wanted to do it again. Midwives are well trained, generous women, who save on medical costs while providing a healthy woman who is having a routine pregnancy with a less medicalized, more personalized experience.

Here is Midwifery Philosophy of the Alberta Association of Midwives:
The practice of midwifery is based on the understanding that pregnancy, labour and birth are profound experiences which carry significant meaning for a woman, her family and her community. Midwifery is grounded in the belief that having a baby is a natural life process and an opportunity for considerable growth. The intent of midwifery care is to enhance these life experience.

Midwifery is traditionally holistic, combining an understanding of the social, emotional, cultural, spiritual, psychological and physical aspects of a woman's reproductive experience. Midwives promote wellness in women, babies and families both autonomously and in collaboration with other health care professionals.

Midwifery is a partnership between a midwife, woman and her family which is based on mutual respect. The women is the center of the childbirth experience and a great influence on the health and well-being of herself and her baby.

I am blessed to have Mireille Caron, of Canmore, as my midwife. We had our first meeting with her tonight and I am so excited not only to be pregnant but to once again be under the care of a midwife. She said our babe is due around June 7th, 2009 :)

To read more on the funding of midwives in Alberta go to the Alberta Health site.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Asparagus Lasagna YUM!

This is what I made for dinner tonight and it was amazing! Enjoy with a caeser salad, fresh baguette, and if you aren't pregnant like me, a nice glass of wine. Perfection! Here is the recipe. Recipe and photo are by Vegetarian Times.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Article in the Rocky Mountain Outlook

Thanks to Michelle Macullo, who wrote a really good article about my current show at the Banff Public Library. She really "got" me. It is always a bit strange when someone interviews you for an article, because you say what you have to say, and then don't read the article until it is in print, which at that point it is final, and if anything you said was misunderstood, there is no way to clarify. Michelle did awesome. If you would like to read the article you can go to the site or read on...

Vintage Polaroid Creates Innovative Art
Published: October 16, 2008 7:00 AM
Updated: October 16, 2008 7:34 AM

By Michelle Macullo BANFF

Making one's passion a career is a dream for most. But for Bow Valley photographer Tiffany Teske, it's a reality.

Over the years, she's made the time and effort to keep her skills sharp. More importantly, she indulges in the craft, simply for the sake of art.

During the month of October, Teske steps away from the business aspect of her career and enchants audiences with Seeing Double: Reflections on Human/Nature in Banff, a playful look at the artist's view of Banff.

The exhibit features 23 unnamed colour, double-exposure images taken with the soon-to-be-extinct Polaroid Spectra film. The juxtaposition between the human and natural elements results in an entertaining and unique peek into why Banff enchants Teske. The project took her nearly one year to complete, while she explored the relationship of humans and nature during all four seasons.

While drawn to Banff's beauty Teske, unlike many local artists, isn't driven to capture the mountain landscape on paper.

"I think there's an expectation that if you're a photographer in Banff, people assume you do landscape photography," she said. "I prefer to examine little nooks and crannies - the interplay of people."

Teske took a minimalist approach to Seeing Double, relying on "lots of junk that's useful for art," including use of a $5 Polaroid camera purchased at a thrift store, recycled mats, frames and expired film. Not only was she able to reduce her footprint, she was surprised by her efforts.

"I was thrilled when I discovered the camera worked," she grins. "I never knew what I was going to get. And because of the size (of the photos), people have to get up close to really see what the images are about."

Teske's career as a photographer was accidental. While she enjoyed the craft and tinkered from the age of seven, she didn't take formal classes until her post-secondary years of education at the University of Maine in Augusta. She intended to study nursing, but "the pieces (acquiring the necessary pre-requisites) just never fell into place." And before she knew it, she was studying photography full-time.

Since then, she's achieved renown for her work with the analog photographic process, particularly using the Polaroid films. She regularly exhibits her work in solo and group exhibitions in both Canada and the U.S.

The show's one-of-a-kind images are available framed or unframed. More information on Teske's services and products is available at

Seeing Double: Reflections on Human/Nature in Banff runs until the end of the month at the Banff Public Library Art Gallery.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

30 Things in 30 Days - #25 - Buy in Bulk

In an effort to reduce packaging, it is encouraged to buy in bulk. Now, just because you buy something in bulk doesn't mean that there will be less packaging, you need to examine this on a case by case basis. For example, when you buy bulk toilet paper at Costco, you are getting enough toilet paper to last you for months, BUT each roll is individually wrapped in plastic, like at a hotel, although at least most hotels have their TP individually wrapped in paper. But, for another example, when you buy nuts, dried fruit, or dry goods in bulk you usually are reducing packaging. In the US try In the Canada, try Bins and Bins.

Seeing Double: Reflections on Human/Nature in Banff Part Three

My Lovely Family

I had many, many wonderful people show up to my exhibit opening at the Banff Public Library. Unlike a public or private gallery on Main Street, where people may wander into an opening or vernissage in the course of an evening because they happen by, the Library openings are mostly attended by people who are invited. I did put announcements in the paper, but in the end, it was mostly people I knew at the show. I was deeply touched by the people who took the time to come and see my work, at my first solo show in Banff.

My friend and chiropractor, Dr. Dorothy and her husband.

My friend and show coordinator, Kim.

I want to thank Kim, Dr. Dorothy, Pam, Drew, and Silver, Megan and Corinne, JT, all the Mom and Kids from our neighborhood, Maureen, Annie, Louise, and William, Cheryl, Michelle, and their friends, and anyone who I hope I have not forgotten... blame it on Mommy brain :)

The icing on the cake, which really, really made me feel special, was that my friends at Victory Thrift Store, sent me flowers!! I had called the Library earlier in the day, and Kim said, "Someone sent you flowers". It had me thinking all day, who sent me flowers? When I opened them and read who they were from, I was so grateful. I go to Victory about once a week. It is the perfect place for me to find toys for Quin, and things for me to repurpose in my artwork or to use in our home. Our friends there, Nathan, Wendy, Shelley, Maureen, and Keely, are very welcoming and friendly. They even save me old books, camera, and photographs! Maureen sent the flowers on their behalf. I was so shocked by the flowers and the starting of the opening, that when Maureen walked in the door, I didn't even have the flowers out on the table :( She chided me about that! It was so good to see her, she has been sick, and I have not seen her in months, just email. I was touched that she not only sent the flowers but that she and a friend came to the show. They used it as an excuse to go out to dinner in Banff and then to come to the show. Maureen is a crafty lady, who enjoys collage and mixed media, and the work of Claudine Helmuth. We are always planning to get together and create but have not been able to. Maureen also encourages me to continue practicing how to sew. She find me books and spurs me on. Thanks to Victory! They mean so much to me that I have always given 10% of the sales in my Etsy shop to their Operation Jacket Frost Program, which provided jackets, snowsuits, boots, and other winter items to children in need.

I am a foodie, so there was plenty of food and drink to be had by our friends. I ordered mini cupcakes for the kids and adults alike, from Cozy Cave Bakery. We were also supposed to have soft pretzels from JK Bakery in Canmore, but they forgot to make my order. We had cheese, baguette, meats (which being a vegetarian I didn't order on the specified CHEESE tray), and juice from Nester's Market. And wine and spirits.

Seeing Double: Reflections on Human/Nature in Banff Part Deux

This is the second part post about my solo show at the Banff Public Library. To catch up on the first post go here. As I revealed in my post below, I found out a day before the show that I am pregnant (while battling the stomach flu)! I was glowing inside at the opening. My friend, Kim, who is also pregnant, is the one who was coordinating the show for the Banff Public Library. When I had found out she was pregnant we were talking about how fun it would be if I was pregnant at the same time, and now I am! I could barely get in the back door of the library before I told her the news :) And then I broke out the bottle of denatured wine, so we could celebrate. I was not ready to let everyone know, so this gave me a cover and Kim is due in March, so she is showing, but this allowed her to celebrate with me and during the show.

Here are some more images from the show. I also have images from that night that I will put into another post along with some stories...

I'm Pregnant!

Yes, it's true :) My husband, our daughter, and I will be welcoming this little babe into our family sometime around June 4th, 2009! We are thrilled! I found out when I was only 3 1/2 weeks along, and I am now 6 weeks, and pretty much everyone we know, knows. Stay tuned for a couple of pregnancy related posts which I have been meaning to write. My life has been so crazy! Let's just say that during the week I found out I was pregnant, I was finishing matting and framing my solo exhibit for the Banff Public Library, hanging the show, working my 2 day a week job at Silver Spoon, teaching recycled art for the Banff After School Program, as well as digital photography and ballet for the Town of Banff Community Courses, planning my exhibit opening... then I got the stomach flu in the middle of the night, took the pregnancy test the next morning, and put the cherry on top of a crazy busy week that had its share of ups and downs. Things seem to only happen to me like this. When nothing is happening, nothing happens. When everything is happening, just add some more! The news of our babe did help me through the flu, and I was happy that I was fine the next day (was hoping the nauseau was all flu related and not morning sickness) and able to go to the opening. I drank denatured (non alcoholic) wine and no one was the wiser :) although I was bursting inside!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Yummy Dinner!

Tonight we tried a new noodle dish for din-din. It received a thumbs up from both my husband and our 2 1/2 year old. To view the recipe for Udon Noodles with Walnuts and Pomegranates click here. Recipe and image courtesy of Vegetarian Times.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wanna Know More About Ning?

I am a member of POE, Photographers of Etsy Team, and we have several vehicles for the groups communication, including a website, a blog, and a Ning. Ning means "peace" in Chinese, and is a social networking program where you can start a group for people who all enjoy the same topic such as cupcakes, convertibles, Val Kilmer, or say, photography. If you would like to find out more about Nings, follow this link to the article I wrote for the POE Blog.

Friday, October 17, 2008

30 Things in 30 days - #24 - Stop Storing Data on CDs

I am a photographer by profession. I got to a point where I was up to my eyeballs in CDs. Before external hard drives were affordable and easy to find at the local electronics store, I would burn images to CDs for storage and for bringing orders to my pro lab for printing. Now, don't even get me started as to why CDs are a stupid way to store important information. Have you ever lost important information because a disc was scratched to the point of no return? And they take up so much room. Maybe not to your average bear, but to me, volumes. I may be a professional but people these days are camera crazy and digital has made it even more so. So, really, everyone should have the same problem.

For data storage at home, I have an external hard drive. It is a My Book which has a 1 TB (One gigabyte (GB) = one billion bytes, One terabyte (TB) = one trillion bytes). It will hold up to 285,000 photos! Yes! Awesome! So easy to set up and use. And I have no idea the cost comparison to buying CDs but I know that it is a lot smaller and more useful than scads of CDs.

But what really got me thinking about this post was taking an order to the photo lab the other day. I used to burn an order, no matter how small, to its own CD, so I could transport it to the lab (unless I was using a lab with FTP capabilities, then I just uploaded to the lab). This was before flash drives. As I was uploading something to my flash drive the other day, I realized I should post about this. If you are not planning to bring your actual memory card to your photo lab, don't keep burning discs. Invest in a compact flash drive or a travel hard drive. The flash drive is great for taking images to the lab. The travel hard drive is great for uploading photos from your camera or memory card while traveling, so you can clear your card for more images. There are many kinds of flash drives and travel hard drives out there. I have the travel drive that is in the link.

Shelve the CDs. Equip yourself and reduce the waste.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Seeing Double: Reflections of Human/Nature in Banff - Part One

Self Portrait

Friday night was my show opening at the Banff Public Library. I don't even remember when I signed up to have the show but it was at least a year ago. When it comes to shows, unless I have written a very detailed proposal in an application, I kind of let them work themselves out. I am always working on several series, so I just kind of let what will ultimately become an exhibit, evolve. I started this series in April of this year. Here is the artist statement for the show:

Seeing Double: Reflections on Human/Nature in Banff
Human/Nature. I seem powerless to exclude these elements from my work. They seem ever present and paramount in each of my most recent series. I like to start creating new work intuitively, letting the pieces come together as they will. Inevitably I come to find myself gravitating toward including these key elements of human and nature, subconsciously. Their connections to my art have only gotten stronger since moving to Banff in 2007.

Another “trend” one can spot in my work is my love of analogue cameras and film, namely Polaroid. My love affair with Polaroid has only deepened since the announcement that they have stopped making film for their cameras. Together with my love of rescuing and recycling obsolete or “useless” objects, expired Polaroid film fuels my creativity because it is unpredictable. My love of photography as a medium grew out of exciting sessions in the darkroom, where my images would “magically” appear in a tray of chemicals. I once had a darkroom in my home but up until recently my nomadic lifestyle required that I abandon it. This is when I began to seriously work with Polaroid film and processes. Next to working in a darkroom, Polaroid is the only way to watch your images “magically” appear. While skill is required, there is also an element of chance. The results can be beyond my control and I love it. Additionally, I appreciate that each Polaroid is a true original, a one-of-a-kind piece in a small format that requires the viewer to get up close and intimate with each one.

This series began with a $5 Polaroid Spectra camera I rescued from a thrift shop. Junk to many, it was a true find for me. The same week, without actively looking I happened to find expired Spectra film. I tested the camera and soon discovered that I could make more than one exposure on the same piece of film. On daily walks with my toddler, the idea for a series, shot entirely in Banff, took root and sprouted. I soon knew exactly what I would focus on; humans and nature. Of course many places combine both, but Banff National Park is unique in the fact that people can reside within its boundaries. Like most National Parks, people come from all over the world, every day, to witness and photograph its beauty. While stunning in its wild beauty, the stamp of humanity is every where you turn. This combination can be both good and bad but I chose not approach this series in a political way. I merely want to highlight the interplay of both, which can make from some striking, at times humorous, at times enlightening, visuals that are both abstract and illustrative in their nature. Here humans and nature are living in harmony, most of the time. I make art to share my perceptions with the world and I hope people are moved by what they perceive in what I present.

Each image is an original Polaroid picture, a one of a kind, mounted and presented in mats cut by my hand. In keeping with my commitment to work with recycled and thrifted materials each piece is framed in refurbished and recycled frames from a past shows. The works in this series are not titled for two reasons. One is so people can try to guess where the images were taken, a treasure hunt of sorts. The other is so people can draw their own conclusions or create their own ideas without my titles telling them what to think.

The opening was well attended. I was almost afraid I would not make it, since at 4 AM, the morning after I hung the show, I woke up with the stomach flu. This was the day before the show. I had to miss work and two classes I was supposed to teach but was all rested up and able to attend. I am going to write another post about who was at the show, what we ate, and that includes more photos... stay tuned!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Catch Up

It is time to play catch up. So much going on in the creative realm lately, that I fall into bed at night exhausted. Sometimes I fall asleep putting my two year old to bed... sheesh!

First of all, there is a new babe in our family. My sister, Lisa, had a baby girl, Antonia Elisabeth Ray on Wednesday, September 24th. She will go by Nia is absolutely adorable, of course! She was due on September 6th, so way to take your time, Nia :)

On Monday, I taught my first Recycled Art Class for the Banff After School Club. It was a lot of fun! There were about 12 kids, from ages 6 - 9. We made collages from old books and matboard that were given to the program. I was surprised that the kids didn't know the word collage, since almost all kids perform the basic steps of cutting a gluing regularly. The kids were all enthusiastic and made vastly different compositions using vastly different design styles. I am not allowed to photograph the children for blog purposes, but I am allowed to photograph and blog about the work. I am looking forward to getting to know the kids and teachers of the program as the weeks go by. I brought my daughter with me, and while I may not always do that, she had a ball and fit right in with the young artists.

This is my absolute favorite collage. This little guy really listened to what I asked the kids to do. He took different pieces of paper and made them into something new.

This little guy's collage, the two program leaders, who are also women, and I, in stitches. We thought his mom would be very proud! PS He is not old enough to read :)

This is the collage that Quin and I worked on. She proudly held it in her stroller all the way home and has it displayed in her room.

I liked how this girl used the different scissors that were available to make new and different shapes from the paper.

I was going to post about more but it is off to bed for me... night night!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

30 Things in 30 Days - #23 - Green Weddings Part Two

Here we go again. More Eco Friendly wedding tips:

- If you are serving wine at your wedding, make it organic. You can find out about organic wines made around the world at Organic Vitners.

- Serve Fair Trade, organic coffee and teas at your reception. You will find helpful information here.

You know, I think this is getting a bit complicated, and I was looking for simple tips. Sooooo, I will continue these posts at another time, maybe a series on green weddings. But will move on to 7 more simple tips to close out this series.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

30 Things in 30 Days - #22 - Green Wedding Ideas

Awwwww, weddings! So much work, so much expense, so much waste, but oh so much fun! Now, not everyone will want to go to drastic measures to make their wedding green, like say eloping. But, there are several ways to make any wedding more environmentally friendly. Here are some tips:

- Make informed choices when it comes to your rings. Check out companies like Green Karat, which use high quality, recycled metals. Ask questions about where your diamonds have come from and avoid conflict or blood diamonds. Global Witness offers an online consumer guide that can educate you on the diamond industry and teaches you the kinds of questions to ask a jeweler.

- Have your wedding and reception at the same location so guests don't have to drive beween the two. Even better, have the wedding outdoors is a beautiful location that reminds you why our environment is important to you. Botanical Gardens are amazingly lush and beautiful and you will be supporting a non profit organization if you have your wedding and reception there.

- Select clothing and accessories that can be worn again, or recycle clothing by going with vintage items. Check out The Vintage Wedding Dress Company for decadent dresses and Unique Vintage for more affordable but just as lovely dresses (although some are vintage "inspired" and not actual vintage). It is also possible to buy gorgeous wedding dresses made from silk or hemp like the beautiful ones sold by Conscious Clothing.

Fancy Strapless Dress by Conscious Clothing

- Donate your wedding dress to I Do Foundation so that is can live on and be worn again.

- Send invitations that are made with homemade paper that has wildflowers seeds in it so that your guests can plant the paper and enjoy the flowers. Or you can send e-invites but remember those people who don't have internet access. On this same theme, you can set up a wedding site where guests can access all your information and print only what they want to but be sure to mail the same info those without the internet.

Wow! I had no idea this post would get so long. It may end up being a two or three parter.... stay tuned!