Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Letter to Des: Your birth story.

Desmond Anatoli was born on November 25th at 4:55am at 8lbs and 9 oz. He is pretty much the cutest thing I have ever laid eyes on in my entire life, I love him to bits. This is my first letter written to him - his birth story:

I had been feeling contractions all Monday night but most of them were light enough to sleep through. By Tuesday morning I was having really light contractions every 10 or 15 minutes and stronger contractions about once an hour. I was 41 weeks pregnant and I asked your dad to drive me to my doctor's appointment because I just didn't want to be driving through the snow if a contraction hit hard. At the appointment, we listened to your heartbeat and the doctor checked my cervix. She could feel your little head in there, I was already 4cm dilated and you were very low, just like you had been for the last five weeks! The doctor scheduled me for an induction, and I was getting disappointed. I wanted you to choose to come naturally on your own time, even though I was incredibly anxious to meet you!

We went home and took the bumpiest roads we could find. I ate an entire pineapple, and your daddy and I tried to get those prostaglandins moving in our own special way. Contractions kept coming, but they were irregular and I was getting sad. Kristin came by after work and brought me to the mall so we could walk you out. We walked around that mall for nearly four hours and I was soo grumpy, embarrassed to have to stop and gasp at how a few contractions seemed to be getting more and more intense. I wouldn't let my hopes get too high, but I was begging, pleading, praying that you were finally on your way! I went to bed at midnight and woke up at 2:00am, restless. I bounced around on my birth ball, showered, and cleaned up the kitchen while timing contractions that were getting closer and closer! Most of them were between 5 to 7 minutes apart, and some of them really hurt! I tried to rest, but only slept about 3 hours before I just couldn't sleep through them anymore. I woke Dimitri and we putzed around the house while I timed my contractions at 4-5 minutes apart. It was 10:30 and since the hospital was about an hour away, we decided to make our way there.

They turned us away! When they checked me out and I was still only 4cm dilated. My contractions were coming regularly, but the nurses said all the beds were full and they didn't think it was the real thing quite yet. I was pretty sure, however, that it was! We turned around and started driving home and already I regretted it. The contractions were getting as close as two and three minutes apart and they were too much for me to talk through. At home, I had two contractions and then felt my forewaters break. We got back in the car and were back at the hospital by 12:45. They finally admitted me.

At 1:00pm on Wednesday, things became very intense! The nurses who were admitting me read my birth plan and immediately began telling me all the things that simply would not happen, which was exactly what I didn't need to hear. Eventually they did accommodate me to some extent. They took my blood pressure and it was exceptionally high, so they called my Doctor to see what she had to say. One of the nurses had such a thick accent, I could barely understand her, but it became apparent that they wanted me to have an epidural and they wanted me to have it now. It was that or morphine, they said. I flat out refused, and one nurse spent a long time trying to convince me that the epidural wouldn't affect my baby - but I didn't believe her. So they brought out laughing gas and I tried it, but I just became confused and told them no. I wanted out of bed, I didn't want to be on my back. They brought me a birth ball and then magically it was shift exchange and I received a new nurse. Her name was Alex, and she told me she had read my birth plan and that she was going to come in only to check the baby's heartbeat unless we called her. She was wonderful. She showed me how to use the sitz bath and let Dimitri and I share the birth together. At this point the contractions were very serious to me. It was overwhelming how such a power came from inside me and took over my body so consistently. Dimitri was wonderful, he never left my side and helped me breathe and focus through every contraction. I knew it was hard for him to see me in such pain, but he was so supportive - constantly telling me he loved me, that I was doing so well and he was proud of me. I was constantly moving from the birth ball to the sitz bath and occasionally even on the toilet, but the toilet made the contractions unbearable. I focused on his eyes as he stared into mine and coached me on taking deep breaths and moaning low through the peaks of contractions. Both your grandma and grandpa and your babushka and dedushka visited us that evening, but I was busy with contractions and could barely say hello. They saw that we were concentrating, and wished us well before they left. They were just so excited to meet you!

I asked Alex to check me late that night (we covered up the clock, so I'm not sure what time it was!) and I was only 5cm dilated. She encouraged me that my cervix was fully effaced and that was a good sign. She told me to keep moving around and told me I was doing great, that she thought I could go the whole way without an epidural. I soaked up every bit of encouragement I could get at that point, I was getting very tired. Soon afterward, we were back in the sitz bath and I was crying. I told Dimitri I was getting tired and I was worried that I would be in labour forever. I was scared that I might need to have an epidural after all. He reminded me of all the reasons why I didn't want to have one and asked me to wait and see. Between contractions I would lay my head back and actually fell asleep for brief moments at a time. I would jolt awake at every wave of tightness that hit me and immediately Dimitri would wake and help me through it only to have us both doze again immediately afterward. Again I asked Alex to check me and I was only 7cm dilated. It felt like this was taking forever!

At some point there was another shift exchange and our new nurse introduced herself as Barb. I asked her to check me right away and I was only at 8cm. I was crestfallen. It seemed to be taking forever to get anywhere and I was having a hard time keeping my strength up. We kept on working through contractions and I worked so hard to stay positive. Sometimes I would give in and say that I couldn't do it anymore, but I also tried to say things like "Open!" and "I can do this! I am doing this!" Saying things positively really helped the contractions seem less powerful. I asked Barb to check me often. I suddenly needed to know what my body was doing at all times. Finally I was 9cm dilated, only one centimeter left to go. I laboured for a while longer and had her check. Still 9. I laboured for another hour and had her check again. Still 9. I wanted to scream! They told me that there was a small lip of cervix that just didn't seem to want to dilate. She encouraged me to labour through contractions on my side and flip after each one to encourage that lip to go away, but it didn't. She tried to encourage the lip to dilate with her hands during one of my contractions, which was so painful, but it didn't really help much.

I was feeling so much pressure down low, and I wanted to push. They told me if I pushed too early I could cause my cervix to swell and that would hold things up even further. It was impossible not to push, my body was doing it all on its own. All during labour I was encouraging my body to give in to the waves and stay relaxed, and here I was being told not to listen to my body, to reign it in. I moaned and screamed and Dimitri stared into my eyes coaching me to breathe. I guess I said some pretty terrible things, but I really don't remember anything but how green Dimitri's eyes were and how badly I wanted to push through the pain. At some point my doctor arrived and I became aware of how late it was getting.  Finally they encouraged me to try a little laughing gas to see if it could relax my body and allow that last cm to dilate. I was so worried that the laughing gas would affect you, something I desperately wanted to avoid, but they told me it was safe and you wouldn't feel anything.

As soon as I did, I was calmer. People were talking to me and I couldn't hear them. I was labouring on my side and found the contractions were just as painful, but the experience seemed removed. It was only minutes before I put it down and I was fully dilated. They told me I could finally listen to my body and let myself push. It was 3:20 in the morning and I had been in active labour for over 12 hours, including early labour it had been 24 hours or more. I was so ready to meet you.

Pushing was incredible, it felt so natural and yet hurt so badly. I reached down and touched your head a couple times between pushes. The nurse and Dimitri held my legs and let me brace against them as I held my breath to bear down. Sometimes the pain between pushes was so bad I would start to hyperventilate, your poor dad was at a loss for the first time. I think he just couldn't take his eyes off the itty bit of your head that he could see materialize. I remember grabbing him by his shirt and commanding 'HELP ME BREATHE!' because I just couldn't slow my breathing on my own. While it was all so intense at the same time, I could actually feel the progress. Each push made me feel infinitely closer to holding you and I wanted to get through it so badly. I pushed for over an hour and a half. Nobody told me how close I was getting, I still thought I had a couple more to go when suddenly I felt the strangest thing in the entire world. You were out! I pushed out your head and shoulders so quickly, the rest of you was so easy.

Suddenly, nurses were flying everywhere. You dad did a double take and announced to the world- It's a boy! Immediately, I called out, "Desmond!" Your cord was short so I had to wait for your dad to cut it. I remember being so confused but reaching down and asking to hold you. A nurse whisked you away and told the doctor your temperature was low. I asked to hold you, I wanted to see you and hold you so badly. Things were hazy, but I remember my doctor telling the nurse that skin to skin contact was just as good if not better than the warming station and suddenly you were wrapped up and in my arms. Though there were many small things that didn't go exactly as I had envisioned them (it's funny what they can talk you into during Transition!) I was just so ecstatic to see you, it washed away any pain or negativity and I was just beaming with love for you. I immediately unswaddled you and put you on my chest.  I held you and kissed you and stroked your little (huge!) head. You were so perfectly grumpy straight from the beginning, but you didn't cry once you were on my chest, you just squeaked around and started looking for my nipple. It took you a while to open your eyes but when you did I knew I wanted to look at them forever! I breastfed you right away and you latched on so well even the nurses were surprised. Your daddy held you, too, and he was just as deep in love as I was. I thanked him for being so good to me through the birth, that I had never felt more loved or supported in all my life. Even some of the nurses were saying that he was better than some doulas they had seen! Your birth was definitely the hardest, most intense, and most empowering thing I have ever done. As we snuggled as a family, I knew we were just never going to let you go, even later when everything died down and I could finally rest, I rescued you from your little bassinet and snuggled you all morning in my bed, it was perfect. I love you, Desmond, and I always will.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Seven Months Pregnant

These pictures were taken several months ago at seven months pregnant by photographer Riley from Maak Photography. She is incredible and so innovative!

My spouse, Dimitri, is spinning firepoi behind me. 

Riley specializes in newborn photography, weddings, and maternity. She also does fantastic family photo shoots, but I have to say - my favorite are her photos of children. She has such a great eye and captures such candid kid moments! Click here to view more of Riley's Photography. If you are in the Kelowna, BC area, consider hiring her for an event, she will not let you down.

With love from Baby & Farren Square.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christmas for Three

My little family is expanding! This Christmas, we'll have three stockings to stuff.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Carl Honore praises Slowness: TED Tuesday

I had the pleasure of attending one of Carl Honore's lectures last year. He was a deliberate, funny, and thoughtful speaker who brought a lot to ponder to the table. He spoke of his family, what was important to him, and how slowing down his life made it easier for him to enjoy even the smallest slices of life.

I think that some people are naturally better at this than others. For some of us, it is a conscious choice to take a step back, eliminate those extra stressors in our lives, and enjoy what we've got.

So instead of stressing and hemming and hawing over a complex TED Tuesday feature post this week, I'm going to side with slowness and simply share the video. And I'm going to take that extra time I've saved and savor a delicious meal with my family. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Carl Honore Praises Slowness:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TED Tuesday: The Magic of the Words "Thank you"

In this quickie 3 minute TED Talk, Laura Trice suggests we all say thank you. A simple suggestion, yes, but a powerful suggestion nonetheless.

This incredibly well-done video about gifting, specifically at my most favorite yearly event - Burning Man, has been circling my various social networks for the past few days. Gifting, when experienced the way Halcyon describes, is one of the most heart-widening and mind-opening experiences one is able to have. It creates a new ideal for human relationships and exposes the thinker to new ways of interaction with society as a whole.

I feel the same way about an open and genuine expression of thanks. To be appreciative of the things we share, time, experience, or love. In fact, it is quite easy to compare a thoughtful and sincere gift with the simple yet thoughtful and sincere act of saying Thank You and realize that when both are done properly, they can be considered one and the same.

Be honest with your loved ones about the thanks you might need to hear. Ask those around you if you are meeting their need to be appreciated, too. I agree with Ms. Trice that peacefulness starts household by household. By listening to the needs of others and filling them with praise for the things they work hard to do - we are in fact inspiring our family and friends just by expressing how they have inspired us.

So I just want to take this opportunity to say Thank You for reading my blog. I appreciate every reader, from those who stumble across my collection of weird thoughts randomly, those who know me through facebook or twitter, to those who subscribe to this blog via rss or otherwise. I cherish each person who has taken time to comment to me on my blog, either publicly or privately, and I have enjoyed the perspectives and thoughts that people can add to my own. What a lovely forum to share thought, and what a lovely bunch of people who have come forward to do so. Thank you.

One of the ways that I occasionally choose to give back to Etsy artists who have supported me, shared tips and knowledge with me, or simply inspired me with their style is to feature their art in my blog. So here are a few of those artists and their own unique and interesting ways to express thanks:

20 very original Poetry Thank You Tags by 42things

A set of 8 totally cute Green Apple Thank You cards by craftedbylindy 

An elegant handlettered rubber "Thank you" stamp by ampersandity 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Farren Square's Vintage Condition Guide

Well, there you have it. It didn't take very long. My love of thifting and vintage apparel has finally and full spilled over into my etsy store.

Because I understand that vintage items come pre-loved, I strive to be an honest Vintage seller and communicated fully the condition of everything I sell. Perceived flaws (can we call them love-spots?) will always be disclosed in the description!

In the interest of simplifying everything, I wanted to make a universal guide available to all my friends qualifying the condition of my vintage clothing and housewares:

Mint: An item is as perfect and pristine as when it was originally made and shows no sign of wear (mint condition is rare for vintage clothing).
Near mint: An item shows only the slightest signs of wear.
Excellent: An item shows typical signs of wear due to occasional use.
Very good: An item is considered wearable but has some visible surface flaws (staining or soiling, for example).
Good: An item is wearable but cannot be returned to excellent condition even if repairs are made.

This is a widely used guide, but not all vintage sellers are the same, so don't be afraid to send a message and ask that lovely person a few more questions before you make that vintage purchase. Know what you are getting into!

My latest Vintage find now on Etsy:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TED Tuesday - A Case for Skepticism

Can I admit that I swing back and forth between skepticism and blind faith? I know, I know... if Carl Sagan were alive today, he'd probably have something to say about it. So does my handsome mandude, and on a regular basis, too, whenever I toss salt over my shoulder, hesitate before opening an umbrella indoors, or (yes! I admit it!) talk to him about my favourite rocks and crystals. Placebo effect or not, I love my quartz.

Using video and music, skeptic Michael Shermer explains why people see the Virgin Mary on a cheese sandwich or hear demonic lyrics in "Stairway to Heaven" and shows how we convince ourselves to believe -- and overlook the facts.

Though I can identify with what Mr. Shermer says - all of it rings true - I still get creeped out when using the Ouija Board. Whether you are a skeptic or not, anybody with style and smarts will appreciate any of the following completely awesome pieces:

An Altered Antique Plate by BeatUpCreations on Etsy

 A seriously rock n' roll  Led Zeppelin Album Cover Bag by Aproduction Ink on Etsy

A ridiculously awesome, ridiculously tiny book of Carl Sagan quotes by IDoubtIt on Etsy

Enjoy your new found truth!
Farren Square

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TED Tuesday - Let's raise kids to be entrepreneurs by Cameron Herold

When I was a child we used to run a lemonade stand in front of our house in the summer time. We would make lemonade and charge 25 cents a cup and close neighbours would come, pat us on the head and buy a glass. When we realized we had tapped out our market, we offered lemonade AND iced tea. After that fizzled out and most of our nearby friends and neighbours had a taste of each, we realized we needed more business. We set up signs and sent little sisters and brothers out on their bikes to holler our address at people to get them to come. Then we realized that my cousin lived just two blocks away but directly in front of a playground, and the walking traffic there was ten fold what we were seeing. Soon, the lemonade stand was moved and we were on our way to riches as far as an 8 year old can see!

Our lemonade stand would have never gotten off the ground if we didn't get the help from our parents. A float to make change, cups and materials offered for free, and emotional support when business became slow - they constantly asked us what more we could do to sell lemonade to people who wanted some.

Maybe they simply thought it was cute, but I'm sure they knew that even though we didn't rake in big money - enough to buy a ton of candy, I'm sure! - we were learning valuable life lessons with every quarter we earned.

This TED talk was filmed at my local TED gathering and Cameron Herold is a home-grown Canadian boy who speaks of a school system that tried to fit his square peg into a round hole - and how he and his father cultivated certain skills which allowed him to succeed despite the odds.

Here is where I disagree with what he has to say:

  • Cheating to get to the top is never okay. If it isn't working for you, find another path. But don't cheat those who work hard out of what they have earned.
  • If you are going to be an entrepreneur, offer fair trades. Better your own situation by bettering the situation of those around you at the same time. Everybody wins when people are paid what they are worth.
  • Not all schools and teachers are out to crush your kids into a mold.

Here is where I agree with what he has to say:

  • Kids do need to be taught to negotiate, to think critically about the service they receive, to be creative, to handle failure and still move forward, and to be comfortable speaking in front of a crowd.
  • Entrepreneur does not have to be a dirty word.
  • Our life mistakes should lead us to where we are, not bring us down. Did Mr. Herold partake in a few activities that would be considered unethical? Yes. But ultimately he learned from those mistakes to create his own success.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adam Sadowsky and OKGo's Rube Goldberg Machine of Awesome

How can one gigantic Rube Goldberg Machine and a 3 minute 45 second music video teach us about the intricacies of life?

-The small stuff may stink, but it is absolutely essential.

-While planning is important, so is flexibility.

A Rube Goldberg Machine

-Life can be messy. And difficult. But the ending is always worth it.

-This, too, shall pass.

Why am I posting this TED video that is basically a glorified music video? Not only because I believe that there is much to be learned from their experience, but also because I have never seen such an intricate music video in my life (If you have, please post a link in the comments!), and I do believe that video art is still art. This OKGo video is indeed art to me. Plus, not only can I watch this video over and over without catching each intricacy - I also get a little emotional at the end when I realize that the team needed 85 takes to get the job done. They must have been so elated and relieved!

Adam Sadowsky engineers an OKGo music video:

Looking forward to hearing what you think!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TED Tuesday - Why to believe in others with Viktor Frankl

I'm going to preface this by saying that I have been, at many times in my life, a pedestrian, a cyclist, and a motorist.

I know what it is like to be cycling on a busy road, to feel intimidated by other vehicles around you. And I know what it is like to be hit by a truck while cycling! I'll just say, none of it is fun. I go out of my way to be non-aggressive when I am passing a cyclist, to leave the appropriate amount of space (half a lane), and to stay calm behind a biker even when I have somewhere I really need to be right. now. But it really really really irks me when cyclists don't take the time to follow the rules of the road themselves. Most of those rules are there to protect themselves! And many of them are there to uphold a standard which helps motorists know to respect cyclists as a vehicle.

What is this all about, you might be asking, why is Farren ranting about cyclists today? Did a cyclist kill her entire family?!

No, no... This post is actually about Expectations. It is popular these days, and especially in my circle of friends, to expect very little from those around us. We are all people with our own predisposed ideas and we will all make our own decisions, and they may seem random at times, so don't expect anything from anyone, and the world is your oyster, correct? While I do agree in some cases and situations, I also wholeheartedly disagree. I do have certain expectations. I expect you not to spit in my food, I expect you to be honest when speaking, and I expect you to respect all living things. These are common expectations, no?

So the other day, I am driving down a long and winding road and there is a cyclist in front of me. Since I am about to turn right onto a one-way street, I decide to slow and wait for the cyclist instead of passing and immediately turning in front of them. To my surprise we turn the corner together, and he immediately darts to the left directly in front of my car - out of his designated bike lane - and takes the first left without signaling to me at any point! I had to slam on my brakes to avoid him. My first instinct? My window was already down, so I called after him - "PLEASE SIGNAL!"

Rude? Maybe. It embarrassed the manfriend something awful. He argued that yelling out a car window probably won't influence anyone and instead they might defiantly ignore my request... my request to look after his own safety. I considered his point for a long time, I really did. After all, you do attract more bees with honey (or flowers, really!!), than vinegar.


But ultimately, I have decided that it is not only appropriate for me to register my expectation that he communicate with me properly while putting his life at risk - it is necessary. Maybe he had never even considered signaling before. And whether or not my request influenced his decision, I can only control my output and not the reactions of others - but I do feel that it is absolutely VITAL that, as a society, we communicate our expectations to the others who share our communities. This is how we build vibrant and respectful places to work and live! If it happened again, I would do the same thing. Cyclists need to signal if they want to be successful and alive at the end of their journeys, and I'm willing to be that jerk who tells them. Besides, I said "please."

By being idealists about the intentions and the power of humankind, we are pushing ourselves to attain those goals, says Viktor Frankl, legendary psychiatrist and Holocaust-survivor, as he delivers a powerful four and a half minute long message on why it is important to believe in others. This TED Talk was actually filmed in 1976 and has been declared by TED to be "best of the web" and definitely worth seeing. Please spare the 4:21 to listen to this funny man tell you about the human search for meaning -- and the most important gift we can give others.

In many ways, we do create our own reality, and in general, the people around us will rise or fall to our expectations. Do you think it was wrong of me to request this cyclist signal?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A History of American Motherhood

I don't have a TED talk for you today. I'm in the middle of moving, actually I'm going through all my creative gear and crafting supplies right now, and things have been so hectic that I haven't really had the time to watch anything!

But I have been listening! Today I listened to an incredible podcast from about the History of Motherhood in America. Though at first I was skeptical [how can three men present an accurate and unbiased representation of Motherhood?], it turned out to be a very entertaining and very informative historical podcast with several different guest questions and viewpoints. They even presented a feminist perspective.

Though I don't think it is a complete look at what it is to be a Modern Day Momma in North America, I do think it was worth listening to, and definitely worth checking out if you are into the cause and effect that historical accounts can so often underline.  While I do not have a TED talk for you today, I present to you the first podcast I have recommended,

Click here to Listen to The Good Mother: A History of American Motherhood 

The most interesting piece of information, in my opinion, was the account of Anna Jarvis, the "inventor" of Mother's Day - and what she actually intended Mother's Day to represent and to celebrate. Her intentions were much more noble than a box of chocolates and a bouquet of $9.99 roses - and next Mother's Day, I intend to make sure that people are aware of positive ways they can celebrate their mothers as well as make positive changes to their communities.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wedding Finds for Bride to Be

Oh Canada Team Blog
My Naughty Love Coupons (sure to add extra spice to any wedding night!) were featured on the Oh Canada! Team blog along with some other very gorgeous pieces.

Check out this beautiful Corocraft Leaf Necklace by Blue Jeans Jewelry

Or this absolutely divine Peacock Feather Headband by Miss Merete

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

TED Tuesday - Radical Women Embracing Tradition

When I was 15 years old, my naive self fell desperately in love with a tall ginger-haired athletic boy who ended up -predictably to everyone else- breaking my heart. And in the entire time that I basked in that silly teenage romance, I have but one regret; I can remember the day that he asked me, in front of his guy friends of course, if I was a Feminist. I had no idea how to answer. I spun the question and told him that I believed women deserved equal rights and equal opportunities. But his friends chose to laugh and call me a "feminazi," that I was probably going to burn my bras and expect better jobs than men. Why this didn't enrage me, I'm not sure. My boyfriend - and in my 15 year old heart, my One True Love - took my hand and asked sincerely, "You aren't actually a Feminist, are you? You aren't a feminazi?" And, regretfully, I said No. I'm not.

Since that time in my life I have done a lot of growing, a lot of reading, and a lot of self-reflection. I can remember the day in University that I stood up and started telling people - "Of COURSE I'm a feminist, and I will be until I feel that championing this cause is overkill." But sadly, that day hasn't come. Realistically, it may never come in my lifetime, and that is why - I explained to anyone who would listen - it was up to us to tell people that we aren't afraid to call ourselves Feminists in order to highlight the gap that still exists. As Kavita Ramdas, today's speaker, says: "Feminism is not about fighting one distinct oppressor. Its against a deeply held set of beliefs and assumptions that we, as women, hold ourselves far too often."

This week's TED Tuesday Talk is given by Kavita Ramdas, a brilliant woman and feminist who has traveled the globe speaking to amazing women everywhere. Her insights are wrought with experience, anger, acceptance, and intelligence. In a time when women are universally seeking to overthrow many traditions, she gives her speech about Radical Women Embracing Tradition - and how this empowers them to make change.

We can be flowers, we can also be sparks of change.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

TED Tuesday Returns: Social experiments to fight poverty

I'm back! I took a long hiatus from this blog, and I'm sorry to anyone who came to find my weekly feature and found nothing, for quite some time. I was dealing with a few new health situations that were putting a lot of things into perspective and some priorities had to be changed around.

BUT GUESS WHAT! I feel great today! I feel amazing lately. I am inspired by the world, inspired by possibilities and ideas, and I'm back to share them with you. After all, TED's tagline runs: "Ideas worth Spreading," and I have to agree.
A Child Receives a Free Bed Net
Today's idea worth sharing is from Esther Duflo, who has worked with researchers to find not only efficient, but effective ways to fight poverty. Her and her team have some incredibly simple solutions, and some very incredible findings while working and experiementing in Africa - that, in my opinion, highlight the similarities in our interaction with the world.

Will bed nets and lentils save Africa? Maybe not, but it will save Africans. Perhaps this is an idea worth listening to...

Esther Duflo: Social experiments to fight poverty

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Farren Square's TED Tuesday: The world needs all kinds of minds

Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds

"Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works -- sharing her ability to "think in pictures," which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids."

This TED Video has become very popular recently and, in my opinion, speaks for itself:

Farren Square

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who Won the Narwhal Journal Giveaway!?

This last week has been really exciting for me! Making gifts for people I love is originally how I got into loving handmade. It all started with wanting to remove the commercialism from our favourite winter holiday and spiraled into this awesome Etsy ride I'm taking right now.

But hosting this contest knowing that I was going to be giving away such an awesome little whale of a journal really re-ignited my passion for designing and creating journals.

So it is with absolute pleasure that I announce the Winner of the Happy Little Narwhal Journal:

Laura from MABJEWELRY!

A heartfelt Congratulations from me!

As a consolation to everyone who didn't win, I will offer a post-giveaway promotion!! From now until Thursday, March 18th I will offer 15% off any item in my store

BUT FIRST! You have to Congratulate MAB over Twitter
Congratulate MAB on her blog!

Use the phrase "I tweeted" or "I blogged" in the notes to seller and I will refund you 15% off the price before shipping through paypal. But you only have one week to take advantage of this awesome deal!

A HUGE thank you so much for entering and making my first giveaway so exciting. I think I'm addicted to the excitement, so stick around to hear about upcoming events!

Much Love,
Farren + Happy Narwhal

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Srikumar Rao - Plug into your Hard-Wired Happiness

Do you generally feel that you are a happy person or a cynical person?

Srikumar Rao, the speaker in this video, believes that all of us are hard-wired to be happy all of the time. Every moment. And that we are taught to be unhappy, to be constantly reaching for something new that will bring us happiness, that success is measured by the accumulation of WHATEVER as compared to our social peers.

Have you ever been so happy that you could sink to your knees in gratitude at the tremendous good fortune that has been bestowed upon you? That you become radiantly alive several times through out a day?

If your life isn't like that, he claims, then your life is sadly wasted.

Srikumar Rao commits to providing us all with strategies and tools to get there and start Plugging into your hard-wired happiness and living life to the fullest. Watch this short video lecture and see if you are on the right path to happiness:

Do you invest in the outcome, or do you invest in the process? Since actions are within our control, and outcomes are not - perhaps investing on the outcome is the same as focusing on failure. Live your life in a way that celebrates your success while leaving what is out of your locus of control behind. You will be infinitely more satisfied with life and the choices you make.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Do you like Free Stuffs?

Today I received my 200th Etsy Shop Heart! That means that over 200 people have declared my shop as one of their favourites. I feel so blessed to have so much support from so many amazing people that I have decided I am going to do my very first shop give-away!

I will be giving away this ADORABLE Blank Happy Narwhal Journal. He's just dying to swim into your heart!

The Happy Narwhal is Unicorn of the sea, swimming and splashing joyfully - unless someone tries to sneak a peak at your inner secrets... then he will stab them with his horn! Thats what those are for, right?

♥ Hand bound with a coptic stitch.
♥ Stiff covers.
♥ 6.5 inches X 9 inches
♥ 60 pages (120 front and back)
♥ Made from Recycled Materials & 100% post-consumer Recycled Paper.

Enter as many different ways and times as you like, I will be drawing randomly on March 10th and announce the winner on March 11th!

Here are different ways to enter:

1) Follow my blog, then post a link to this blog post on your facebook or elsewhere!! Don't forget to leave a comment here telling me where you left the link and a way to get a hold of you.

2) Follow me on Twitter and ReTweet the following: "RT @FarrenSquare WIN THIS NARWHAL JOURNAL RT once/hour MAX to win! "
(Please only retweet once per hour! All other entries will be ignored, sorry!)

3) Purchase something from my shop between now and March 10th and your name will be entered three times!

I'm so excited to be hosting my first give-away, I can't wait! Good luck to all!

Farren Square

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

TED Tuesday - Simplicity Sells

This hilarious TED talk highlights a key message to all who work in design. Simplicity sells. Whether you design furniture, websites, or sell on Etsy - limit the hoops your customers have to jump through, and you'll gain life-long supporters. Plus I can't resist a TED Talk that features parody songs!

"New York Times columnist David Pogue takes aim at technology’s worst interface-design offenders, and provides encouraging examples of products that get it right. To funny things up, he bursts into song:"

I think this is a TED Talk celebrating the fact that I am getting my new iPhone Today! I have been waiting a long time to upgrade, and it is finally time, Yeehaw! Good bye, really terrible cheap cellphone, hello Personal Electronic Organizer!

Here are a few of my favourite *simple* iPhone cases & sleeves...

A gorgeous show-stopping customizable wooden iPhone Sleeve from

A very cute tongue-in-cheek Vegan Leather iPhone Sleeve from

An incredible and impossibly adorable felt Monster iPhone Sleeve from Kelsey @

And a bright and cheery well-crafted yellow knit iPhone Sleeve from

Farren Square

Friday, February 26, 2010

Simple Tips: How to Organize your Craft Space

To tell you about my craft space, first I have to tell you a bit about my apartment. I love my apartment. But not for the size, or the landlord, or the arrangement, or the way the kitchen appliances are over 35 years old and the colour of crusty mustard. Though that last one grows on me more and more with each addition of blue kitchen-ware. I am in love with the location and the relatively inexpensive rent, considering I live very central in a pretty large city. The building is sinking and I hear sirens, traffic, and wanderers at night - but the people who live in this neighbourhood are so diverse, interesting, and mostly harmless - anything less just wouldn't be home to me, now.

But the limited space does mean that my handsome manfriend and I need to be creative when figuring our how to be productive in our tiny place. My craft locale is a folding table, nestled delicately between the sliding balcony door (one of our only sources of natural light!) and the giant bookshelf full of novels, texts, my gigantic collection of national geographics, and vinyl records.

I had a lot of fun organizing everything and learned a lot for next year - as I definitely seem to be the kind of crafter who collects odds and ends with the hopes of doing something fruitful with it another time - hence the 200 issues of National Geographics. Ha.

Here are some of the little tidbits that made my re-organization successful, pleasurable, and efficient:

1) Start with five piles or boxes: things to keep, things that need a "forever home," things to recycle, things to give away, and things to throw away. Be ruthless. If you don't do it now, it will just haunt you later. Get rid of your trash, recycle, and give-away boxes immediately, don't look back!
2) Once you have figured out what is staying in your craft space, spread it out in front of you. Dump out drawers, open all your boxes, empty all your kits and cases. Start to really consider your art.
3) This is where it gets personal. Think about your own method. What works for you? What is important to keep you motivated? I like sunshine and plants, so I made sure that was a part of my craft space. I found an absolutely gorgeous vintage picnic basket and decided to use it to store unsold finished projects, and soon after stumbled about a vintage child's toy picnic basket which worked perfectly as an area just for my unfinished projects, as I can't stand constantly putting them completely away.
4) Group like with like. This is a great way to visualize how much space everything really does use. I put all my scissors and art knives together, all my different glues and adhesives together. My elastic and ribbon, my thread and bobbins, vintage buttons, stamps, everything went into little piles all over my table and floor - I pulled out every photo box, every old jar, vintage make up case, wicker basket, pencil box, or antique tin I had lying around to see what might fit where. Other ideas to contain your supplies include napkin holders, cake platters with domes, and envelope books. is a great place to look for items such as these!

5) Don't forget to think outside the box, too! I'm very visual and tactile, I like to see and be able to touch all my supplies immediately. Everything that I use often found a spot directly on my table or closest shelf. My top drawers reserved for items I reach for most - but I also decided to hang a few things - like an envelope to hold recent receipts until I can file them as well as small butterfly clips on a string so that I can hang baggies of earring hooks, snaps, and brads. I make my own patterns, so I finally made them each their own envelope and then drew the garment on the front of the envelope in neat sharpie colours and slid them all into their own little box.
6) Be comfortable in your own space. Stick to a style you love. I love warm, open, and cozy spaces and wanted my tiny craft nook to reflect that style. And I wanted it to be a place where I love to spend time. Mission Accompli!

For me, this organization project was at first a daunting task that turned out to be a lot of fun and didn't quite take the effort I was expecting. It can be very inspiring to see all the supplies, colours, and tools to have at one's disposal! Good luck to everyone launching their own organization project, I think you will find that a clear space translates to a clear mind - which really lets those great ideas sparkle through. Shine on you crazy diamonds, Shine on!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't fear growth and change.

Susan Savage-Rumbaugh's work with bonobo apes, which can understand spoken language and learn tasks by watching, forces the audience to rethink how much of what a species can do is determined by biology -- and how much by cultural exposure.

Go, Monkeys, Go!

The sexual, extremely social Bonobo apes are amongst the most empathetic and egalitarian species in the world. They use their sensuality for communication as well as conflict resolution. I'm actually not sure what species of primates featured in this photo, but I found it myself in one of over 600 National Geographic Magazines I had "inherited" at one point. An incredible photo, that toothy grin says it all.

This is one of my most favourite TED Talks that I have ever seen. Starting around 5:30 onwards literally causes my jaw to drop. How anyone could watch this video and deny evolutionary science astounds me. Why do people get so offended by the ability to admit that as a species, we are here through growth and change? An incredible story of sharing culture, tools, and language with another species:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TED Talk Tuesday - Patients Like Me

When a TED Talk opens with "We need to give to others to be successful," I know that I have struck gold. Are all TED Talks amazing? Yes. Are they all incredibly inspiring and interesting to watch? No. But I sort through them all and pull the golden ones here for you. This one is incredible.

When Jamie Heywood's brother was diagnosed with ALS, he devoted his life to fighting the disease as well. The Heywood brothers built an ingenious website where people share and track data on their illnesses -- and they discovered that the collective data had enormous power to comfort, explain and predict.

Wouldn't it be great if we used the advanced technology we have to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, instead of just for making money?

If you or anyone who know has been prescribed medication to help with any long-term conditions, visit

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Sale!!

A lot of people get really down about Valentine's Day.

As in, "This is just a hallmark card holiday designed so people will spend money on the person they love when they can just show that love the whole year 'round."

Well, do you show love the whole year 'round?? The thing is, the world could always use more love. Always.

Usually I am the kind of person who likes to express my love in an intimate way, one on one, by telling people the impact that they have really had on my life in an open and honest way. I think genuine words are my favourite way to share love with another.

But there are times when I think it is important to SHOUT LOVE! To tell everyone in your whole world that you REALLY REALLY LOVE THEM!! And Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse.

So here I am world, stating that I enter each day with the best of intentions, to deliver more beauty, more empathy, more compassion into the lives of everyone I meet each day. But today, I get to shout it.
I FREAKING LOVE YOU, WORLD! And everybody, everything, every animal who lives inside it.

And as a gift to all my readers and anyone who happens across this humble blog of mine, I am offering 14% off all items in my store for today only! Just use coupon code "VALENTINE" in notes to seller!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New! Come Learn to Hoop Dance!

This ain't the hula hooping you may have done as a kid. These are real dancing props, made for adults who still feel young at heart - and those that long to!

Come join the feel-good revolution by smiling as you sweat and lose all that stress in your life - by spinning!

Starting February 9th, I am offering hooping classes for all experience levels! We will be focusing on mastery of the hula hoop as a dancing prop, the health and vitality of movement for fitness, and the free and creative connection created when inside the circle.

What: Hoop Dance Class with Farren Square

When: Tuesdays 7:30pm - aprox 8:40pm Starting February 9th

Where: We are renting Gymboree –13533 St. Albert Trail NW Edmonton, next to the old ClubFit (now World Heath Club)

Why: An innovative and fun way to be active, meet other people, gain confidence, and focus on you for a change.

How Much: Grand Opening SALE! Sign up for all nine classes for only $80.00!! Drop in fees are also only $10 per class, for a limited time!

Hoops will be available to use, as well as for sale! Bring your own if you have it, a water bottle, and wear clothes you would wear to the gym.

For more Information, join our Facebook Group or e-mail me at farren [!at]

And I Won't Back Down.

I constantly find myself apologizing for myself. So sorry that I have these ideas that fly out of my mouth faster than I can contain them. So sorry that I feel the need to dance and move my body. So sorry that I'm intense, that I can look through your actions and see your intentions. So sorry that my intelligence and quick wit make you feel intimidated. So sorry that my hair is different, my clothes are different, my music is different. So sorry that I have an opinion on the topic, so sorry that my opinion differs from yours. So sorry that I feel the need to stand up for other people, so sorry that I stand up for what a believe in.
So sorry that I educate, activate, engage, confront, defy, and create.

I am an emotional being. And I will cease to apologize for myself from now on.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

TED Talk: As the Crow Flies

If birds bother you, stay away from this TED Talk. That means you, Robyn. But honestly, even though this video is a bit of a departure from the inspiring and creatively astounding videos I normally choose, I think this video has an amazing message of the value of an inquisitive mind. As Joshua Klein states, we focus on the endangered animals around us, the ones who struggle to survive, and feel empathy. But what of the animals around us who are growing and adapting in the same manner as human beings. Yes, I am talking about Crows.

Hacker and writer Joshua Klein is fascinated by crows. (Notice the gleam of intelligence in their little black eyes?) After a long amateur study of corvid behavior, he's come up with an elegant machine that may form a new bond between animal and human.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Non-TED TED Talk

Get it? No? Well, then, I will explain. Randy Pausch is an amazing man. I've seen some of his speeches before, and they are always inspiring, jaw-dropping, and so get-up and go motivating (as opposed to spiritually motivating, I suppose), so I wanted to include a TED talk by Mr. Pausch today.

Mr. Pausch's TED talk is here, and it is an hour and seventeen minutes long. I strongly recommend watching the entire video, every word he has to say and every moment he shares is incredible, moving, and powerful.

But we don't all have an 1:17 to spend on that today, so I am deviating (GASP!) from the formulae to bring you the TED talk Coles Notes - We call it Oprah. If you are not a fan of hers, don't worry! This is Randy Pausch's moment to share "The Last Lecture" -as in, what would you say if you had to give the absolute last lecture of your life?

Please watch and leave your thoughts and comments below. Oprah jokes accepted only if they are funny:

Yep, I tear up at the end, every time. I feel like I could watch this video every morning.

While watching this TED talk, I worked on this:

Did you work on anything you'd like to share?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Naughty & Nice Love Coupons

Valentine's Coupons
Originally uploaded by fawkesie
These Coupon Books are perfect for you and your partner this Valentine's Day. They are well-crafted, sweet, and 100% created by me, not the ugly and boring ones found elsewhere around the 'net.

Just choose your style:
The Love Coupons are perfect for a couple who want to spend quality time together, or give thoughtful gifts this year. Some of the creatively worded suggestions inside include:
  • Making a lunch for the recipient
  • Foot-rubs and back-rubs
  • A favourite desert just for the recipient or
  • Remote control for the day

Naughty Coupons
Originally uploaded by fawkesie
The Naughty Coupons are perfect for the couple who want a spicy game to play together. Decide on your terms and then start tearing out these coupons to ensure a night full of pleasure for both of you! Some of the suggestions include:

  • Position requests (reverse cowgirl, anyone?)
  • A Sudsy post-lovin' Shower
  • "Kiss me here" coupons
  • And more secret - but not scary! - sexytime fun.

Chocolates, cards, flowers, and candy are all forgotten after February is done, why not get your lover something that will make memories together this year.

If you want to see more pictures, Visit My Shop on Etsy and take a peek!

The 8 Secrets of Success

A quickie TED talk, today! I found this speedy little video the other day and watched it for my own curiosity. Am I on track with my goals and aspirations? Am I moving towards success? Turns out, there were a few things that I was already doing, a few things that I know I needed to focus on, and a few things that I needed to re-evaluate about myself and my goals.

Even though this video is extremely short, it is packed with useful and motivational information that helped me feel like I was on the right track. Hopefully you feel the same way!

"Why do people succeed? Is it because they're smart? Or are they just lucky? Neither. Analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success:"

Motivated?! Let's get creative!

To view more TED talks, go here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Brian Phelps Blunder

Brian Phelps Blunder
Originally uploaded by fawkesie
Well, I learned a pretty good lesson the other night. I've had this skinny pocket notebook finished for a while now, sitting in my lovely "finished products" vintage picnic basket, when I finally decided it was time to list the item and try to sell it on Etsy.
My handsome manfriend and I were trying to come up with a title that would describe this diver's hunky physique... without the cheese of "hunky"... when I thought of googling this Olympic Athlete to see if that could help us describe the man.

Well, turns out Brian Phelps, Olympic Medalist, is a convicted paedophile, as of 2008. *face palm* There is no way that I could sell this item! What if someone bought it and had no idea - showing everyone their awesome skinny notebook only to have someone break the news they are flaunting a child molester! AWFUL!

So, this skinny pocket notebook sits, sad and lonely in my vintage picnic basket. If anyone has any ideas of what to do with it, be my guest and suggest away - I just don't have the heart to throw things out.

Shucks. Such a pretty green, too.