Tag: kids

The Travelling Treasure Jar

I went on the longest road trip I’ve ever taken this summer. My boys and I drove all the way from Southern Ontario to Alberta — Prairies and Rocky Mountains and my family — then back again. We wondered if we might be insane to attempt such a drive with a 4-year-old and a 10-month-old, but off we went, and it was truly a great adventure. There was only one roadside timeout for the kid (there probably should have been a few for me, ahem, lucky I’m in charge!), occasional nursing breaks for the babe and the usual gas/pee/food/photo-op stops.

I wanted to do something crafty with Rudi to keep him engaged along the way. So in addition to borrowing a portable dvd player (a total godsend) and the required colouring materials and books to read, we made a diary book for each day and prepared an antique glass canning jar to collect simple treasures along the way: Rudi’s Travelling Treasure Jar, a.k.a. The Jar!

The Jar itself is a beaut with its glass lid and metal flip attachment. And every day, once or twice, we’d gather a stone or pine cone from the roadside, parking lot or forest path of the day, or a coin from the US, or an arcade token from the movie theatre, or some grain or oats from the fields we were passing, or a beer cap from mommy and daddy’s adult pops in the hotel room (we drink beer with really cool caps okay? It’s all for the kid. Honestly) .

I only had to suggest collecting pieces the first couple of times, after that Rudi would gather things for his Jar in his pocket and in the evenings in our hotel, or at Granny’s house, we’d open The Jar and review the contents, talking about our journey thus far and then add the new trinket/s to the collection. A couple of favourites are the little white figurine of a man with a walking stick and rifle, his paint all but gone. Rudi spotted him in my aunt’s garden and she said, “take it! the bird’s are always dropping crazy things in here!” We can hardly imagine what adventures the wee old fellow has endured! And the mini horseshoe, which was smithed for Rudi right before his very eyes at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village where I worked in my teens.

The final result is a jar full of prairie flotsam and jetsam, a beautiful collection of the in-betweens from our trip. And those were my favourite parts — the in-betweens. Being cooped in a car with my husband and our boys for 5 days of driving each way was my favourite. Kicking stones in the hotel parking lot in Lake Louise and then running through a forest path to catch the sight of the passing train was my favourite. Stopping for an emergency pee on a prairie back road that looked so quiet only to be overwhelmed by the earsplitting cricket song outside was my favourite. Standing on the car to get a better view of the massive hoodoos in the North Dakota badlands … you get the drift, I could go on and on about the favourite moments that The Jar conjures.

Of course there were the standard squabbles between all of us, usually to do with hunger, exhaustion or sore butts (around hour 5 Rudi would always moan spectacularly and say, “my bum hurts!”)  but really there was more harmony than I’d anticipated and I loved that it was just the 4 of us in our Toyota Matrix ship, rocket or pirate depending on Rudi’s mood, zipping across the miles and miles and miles and miles between my adult and childhood homes. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. And I look forward to opening the jar from time to time with Rudi and remembering.

Nugget of Awesome Interviews: Quinn Covington

I’ve been tossing around the idea of doing a series of interviews with some lovely creative types I want to share with you. Since I’m heading to Alberta this summer maybe I have gold rush on my mind, but truly, each of the women I’ll feature here is a golden nugget of excellence in the career she’s carved out for herself!  Therefore, I am delighted to present the inaugural:

Pocket Alchemy Nugget of Awesome Interviews: eight  interviews with eight inspiring, artistic, self-starting women over the eight weeks of summer. I am proud to call each of them friend and am delighted to share them and their work here. Please note that I am replacing my regular Rearview Fridays posts with these interviews over the summer.


Quinn Covington.

QUINN COVINGTON is a woman I’ve known since high school. I met her in line while waiting for our ID cards before the first day of grade 10 (with my friend Christa Couture who was the 1st Nugget of Awesome interview this month!) and the three of us got lockers together in the basement hall. We were all pretty hippy-dippy and it turned out we had unknowingly picked “the cheerleader hallway,” so we were an island of middle-parted hair, long patchwork skirts, and, in Quinn’s case, Janis Joplin glasses throughout that whole year! Good memories. By the last year of high school I rarely saw Quinn without a camera in her hand. We stayed in touch a wee bit over the years and then this spring ended up randomly, fatefully,  on a plane together for 5 hours, so we talked our way through the entire flight, catching up on art and life and babies. I love that she’s gone the school of life route with her photography and am inspired by her just-get-down-to-it attitude and practice, in the midst of mother two little ones no less!


Quinn Covington’s tool of trade has been a camera since she was around the age of 18. That was when she photographed her first wedding for a friend. Quinn bypassed any formal training and went straight for the hands on approach working alongside other photographers, which leaves her at a point in her life where she can say she’s been doing something professionally for 15 years now!

A bridal portrait by Quinn Covington, Covington Studio.

Quinn grew up in Edmonton and attended an art-driven high school with a photography department that helped her to focus her fanatic interest in cameras. A few years after graduating she moved to the Canadian Rockies where she worked as a wedding, portrait and tourist photographer for a few years. In 2001, Quinn photographed the Alpine National Ski Team and in 2002, she was published in Ski Canada Magazine. She has often found herself working at camera stores, film labs, and imaging retailers.

Quinn and her husband moved to Vernon, BC in 2010. At that point she took a hiatus from photography to deal with moving and a couple of babies, but now that their children have grown to toddler and pre-schooler, she is looking forward to giving her photography career the attention it craves.


Pocket Alchemy Question: Tell me about your artistic work.

Quinn Covington: I do photography. It’s an incredibly versatile and evolving art form. It gives me a platform to be literal and scientific or wacky and emotional. There’s lots of room to breathe, which is why I adore it.

An engagement shot by Quinn Covington, Covington Studio.

PAQ: what is currently sparking your imagination?

QC: Artistic spark doesn’t just reside in the technicality of the tools used but also in the rapport I have with my subjects. The starting point of any image are the words I use and the energy I exert to inspire the process of delivering the end product. The chemistry I have with my clients definitely plays a part in my creative process. Each person I photograph provides me with the materials I need to work with, from there my imagination takes off.

PAQ: How do you structure and manage your days/weeks/months to get it all in? Do you have micro/macro plans that you stick to?

QC: In my world, time has little influence except where others implement it for me. I have many goals and to-do lists that push me along, all without a master plan. The structure of my photography rests with the demands of the people I work with. Once I’m in session, once I’m holding a camera, I’m oblivious to my own personal needs. When I’m editing images on the computer, dishes get ignored and I drop everything except the child on my hip to get the work done. Typically I’ll create a week-by-week goal of the work I hope to finish.

PAQ: What is a current favourite resource or material?

QCCurrently, I’m inspired by the style of wedding photography that asks a photographer to design sets with a bride but keeps the authenticity of the wedding intact. Collaborating on a visual theme, which would allow me to do more than simply show up the day-of with my camera at the ready, is the direction I’d like to take my photography in. I’m constantly looking online for crafty and stylish ways of contributing to a photo shoot.

PAQ: Give me 4 great songs to work to!

QC: I Got Sunshine by Avery Sunshine | Play by Kate Nash | Horchata by Vampire Weekend | Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men

A smiling couple by Quinn Covington, Covington Studio.

PAQ:  What about your work keeps you up at night (for good or ill!)?

QC:  My clients’ satisfaction keeps me up at night. I do whatever I can to not only give them what they expect but hopefully supersede that with fun extras they can look forward to.

PAQ:  How has your aesthetic evolved over the years?

QC:  My niche is in knowing what I like when I see it, being inspired by people and ideas, and then expanding on that creatively, hopefully giving it a new beautiful life. Knowing this about myself is what has helped me to evolve my work over the years.


Check out Quinn Covington, she’s based in southern and interior BC and if you want an easy-going yet passionate photographer I’d recommend looking her up! She’s got creativity and ideas exploding out of her ears and she has the true ability to listen, which I think is so key for a photographer capturing people’s intimate and important life events.

Covington Studio

Check out the other Nugget of Awesome Interviews:

July 6th: Christa Couture

July 13th: Lindsay Zier-Vogel

July 20th: Bess Callard

August 6th: Michelle Silagy

August 10th: Siobhan Topping

August 17th: Jennifer Dallas

August 24th: Susie Burpee

Springing and travelling and gathering myself

Folks, it’s spring, I smell it. I saw a Robin. I heard a Robin. I saw heaps of Crocuses. Rudi picked one, stopped the stroller of his own volition and worked it into Gene’s sleeping hand today. Is there anything better than dimpled fingers on the first crocus of spring?

My blog was quieter than usual last week because I was away from my desk and my everyday life. I took a trip across the country to Victoria with my wee-man Gene to stay with one of my best friends in the world, commencing a 3-day “vagilogue” as my husband so tactfully put it. My heart and mind got filled up with the true solid, friendship, the kind you can slip into easily, years folding up on one another, marrying now and “the last time.” I feel super buoyed up even if I’m physically exhausted from solo travel with a baby and too many time zones!

At 6-months Gene was a spectacular traveller. He happily boarded 4 planes in 5 days, did a lot of sleeping, nursing, watching airport lights, and peek-a-booing with friendly dudes behind us. He even met his uncle Dave for the first time on a strategically planned layover and he snuggled his Alberta Gran-E (obviously that’s her rapper name. She’s a granny + her name’s Elaine … you see where I’m going with this, my mom is so cool!). I also ran into 3 friends from my teenage life in Alberta 17 years ago — how nice for that to happen in real-alive-life rather than on social media, as much as I truly do love the book of faces and the twits.

And now I’m excited to be getting back into the groove of my life, surrendering happily to this utterly moment-to-moment existence as a full-time mom on maternity leave with 2 wee ones who’s also trying to get ready to hit the ground running with her own work — sewing, editing, choreographing — when the formal mat leave is up. I am working hard and gaining at my practice of simplicity in a moment, being present right where I am, which, to be totally honest, is usually: feeding, doing dishes, thinking about sweeping up the dust bunnies, reading (to clarify: not my own popular novel or work of complex theory but more of a librarian-reading-to-the-poo-joke-loving-masses), cooking, thinking that 5 months is too long to wait for a hair cut, walking to the park, colouring, thinking about blogging, playing, getting vomited and/or pooed on, thinking how long is it since I washed my hair, huh, and so on, you get the picture.

But I’m also keenly aware of the things I want and need to do to keep my adult self and creativity sharp. I keep them tucked in a brain-drawer during most of this extravaganza that is the current norm and at the end of the day, I take time to weigh what’s really necessary for the coming one, and to be reasonable with myself in order to have the personal wherewithal to meet the necessary and leave a little for the desired. Thus not a lot of action on my sewing-work front, but good plans for when the time arrives to make it all happen for reals. I live in hope good people, keep the faith!