Monthly Archives: June 2012

Photo Friday

I am not a photographer.

Occassionally, though, I really like the shots I manage to get. Occassionally, I wonder what I could accomplish if I upgraded my camera, took a course, set out to deliberately learn and improve my skills.

Who am I kidding? I don’t have time for that.

I do, however, want to take more photos, photos that have no purpose beyond simply being pretty or thought provoking or calming, or exciting, or… you get the idea. Since Fridays are quiet around here, and since it’s the summer, I think it’s a good time to share some of those photos, to get me taking more, to receive a little criticism or a little affirmation. So, for every Friday from now until the end of August, expect to see something pretty here. And poke me if there’s nothing.

Because I’m not one for being wordless (Wordless Wednesday? Ha!), each photo will be accompanied by a blurb. Something like this:

This photo was taken at Bon Echo. This flower seemed odd, the only one of its kind growing on the edge of the beach. My group was moving away, down the trail off the beach, so I didn’t have a lot of time to set my camera’s exposure and aperture. It was a quick moment, but somehow, I managed to get the colours just right, brilliant in the centre, pale, almost washed out at the ends of the leaves. This shot could use a little cropping perhaps, to clean up the left edge where a stalk of grass has poked up to close to the focus.

Does anyone know what kind of flower this is?

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Three Things for Thursday

One

I like lace. It’s the traditionalist in me coming out. Sometimes, I wish I had chosen the lace wedding dress that was my second choice when I was in the depths of wedding planning two years ago. It was such a pretty dress. (Not that mine wasn’t. Mine was perfect. But, you know, sometimes I think about the other choices I could have made.)
Since I like lace, it’s no wonder I find this headband adorable. It looks simple enough to DIY, but considering it’s one of those things I may never get around to, perhaps I should just go ahead and buy it?
Two

There may or may not be a serious house rearrangement coming. Am I the only one who likes to move things around every other month or so? Our house is tiny and awkward and I always feel like there is some better arrangement, something that will improve the flow around our couch and our coffee table, that will allow for easier organization and better breathing space. 
So, I rearrange, and two months later, decide the new arrangement just wasn’t cutting it. Please say I’m not the only one…?
Three

Are you wondering why I’m going through so many pains to get this place organized when we should be in the depths of renovations again? After all, organization understandably takes a lower position in terms of priorities when your house is covered in drywall dust and you don’t have a roof, right?
We are making progress, but it feels so slow. This week, the Husband will be taking out paperwork into the city to make sure we have everything we need and submit it for approval. With building permits, we’ll be able to get started with the shell, the portion of the reno that must go as quickly as possible, what with lifting the roof off to raise the walls and all. However, those building permits could take five weeks or more to come! So, until it actually starts? I’m pretending as if it’s not happening at all.

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Pink Please

Last night, I painted my fingernails pink. I was testing the cold water drying trick, in which you paint your fingernails, then stick them in a bowl of cold water for three minutes to dry them. (It worked, but not as amazingly as I may have expected.) I chose the pink purely for its annoying tendency to never fully dry, even three days after application.

Pink and I have an awkward history. When I was 6, I demanded that my tiny bedroom be painted cotton candy pink. I’m sure there was a time when I loved it, when I enjoyed the pink walls and my brightly coloured duvet cover. I suppose one might say I was a ‘girly girl’, though one could also argue that I was simply trying to balance the hard masculine nature of the farm on which I grew up with a little pink femininity. Subconsciously, of course, what with being 6 years old and all.

As I grew older, the pink faded, I scribbled on the walls in places, mismatched furniture came and went, my colourful bedspread was replaced with a new blue one that matched the curtains. Pink began to irritate. I was growing up, no longer a little girl. When I left home for university, pink and I were at such odds, I swore I would never like pink again.

And now, my fingernails are pink and I’m wondering if I’m changing my mind.

Can pink and I have some sort of reconciliation? Can we develop some sort of relationship now that I’m an adult? Something mature, sophisticated, chic, without being over the top or blindingly a reminder of pepto-bismol?

And how much would the Husband allow?

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Bon Echo, Good Echo

The mornings were cool, but the days were warm and sunny. The weekend stretched out before us, open and clear, beckoning us to fill it with beautiful vistas, lazy swims in the shallow water, naps in the sunlight, sunbathing with a good book, canoe paddles across quiet lakes, and hikes up hills to the tops of cliffs. 
Our weekend was spent at Bon Echo, approximately three hours from Toronto. The first, third, and fourth nights were quiet and dark, our campfire providing the only light we could see at times. The second night? The park filled up with partying university students who sang loudly, badly, until well after midnight.
During the day, we explored the park, took Mocha swimming in the cool water. The dog beach – and the main beach, as we later discovered – was shallow with a gradual slope. As we waded in, she waded after us until she was swimming, frantic to not be left behind. She swam everywhere after us. Later, when we canoed across to a trail on the other side of the lake, she chose to swim with me as I swam the 1/4 of a kilometer back. She leapt out of the canoe, anxious to make sure the swimmers were ok, as if she, with 20 pounds of puppy could do anything to save us.
I had never jumped off anything higher than a diving board before this. In the grand scheme of things, this was nothing. 10 feet, maybe. And yet, each jump was exhilarating. I’m generally nervous about these kinds of things; pushing my feet off the rock, knowing the water waited below to greet me, I moved past the fear of what hidden thing may lie below, embraced the moment and flung myself into a dark unknown.
Home now. I wish for nothing more than to go back, for a week or two or a month. 
Yes, a month of rock jumping, swimming, sunbathing, reading, campfires, and friends.

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Three Things for Thursday

One


Today, I’m grumpy. These things are getting under my skin:

How time runs out, especially in the morning.
The heat and how it collects in our bathroom.
The lack of food in our house to take for lunch, despite the shopping excursion we did on Tuesday.
The stinky feet smell on the subway.
How far away Edmonton is and how expensive it is to get there.
The man who barged through the subway doors into a crowd of people getting off, spilling his coffee down the back of a fellow passenger as he did so.
How I couldn’t get the last of the fruit smoothy out of my huge new water bottle because the straw was too short.

Today, these things are helping me get through:

Morning snuggles with a sleepy Mocha.
Coffee.
The tasty goodies I baked for this weekend last night, despite the heat, waiting to be shared and consumed.
The prospect of a self-given long weekend, spent with good friends, my wonderful husband, and the most adorable puppy in the world.
The tiny, cheap A/C unit that now lives in our bedroom window, keeping our room cool in the heat.

Amazing. I feel better already.

Two

I don’t have a home office yet, but when I do, I’m going to find the perfect frame and hang this somewhere within my line of sight:

I write for money (from about 8:30 to 4:30, I am a marketing and technical writer in the software industry) and I write for fun (this blog, of course! But, if you ever get an email from me or chat with me online, you’ll soon learn I tend to throw the rules of brevity out the window and strive for at least a novella). I write for hours every day. But I still think I could become a better writer. And this? This is an amazing reminder of well… how.

Just write.

Three

I wish I could learn how to put something like this together:

To me, these choices look like risk that worked for the best. Highly graphical wall paper with a turquoise couch, a purple rug, a brass side table, ornate mirror, and lamp, with contrasts of sleek white thrown in? Yes, risky. But I wonder if that’s what distinguishes a good designer from, say, me. I see this as something I could try with the potential of failure. Heidi Pribell, the designer, on the other hand, considers this combination on paper and can already see how the room will come together and doesn’t question whether or not it will work. She just knows.
Would you say that’s true? Is that what separates true designers from the rest of us?

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Daniel

At 1:24 on June 19, my sister gave birth to this precious baby boy.

Daniel.

God is my judge. God alone.

I’ve never seen such a perfect face.

Over the past many months, I’ve been sporadically working on a baby blanket for this little guy. I didn’t know his sex, his name, anything about him except that he was slowly growing into a full-sized little human being. You got to see a sneak peak of it when I shared my new-to-me dresser a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, it’s not done yet. All the squares (42!) are finished and sewn together, but I have about 100 ends to work in yet. Unfortunately, the worst part of this? Mom, Dad, and Baby live in a whole ‘nother province, too far to drive, expensive to fly. With baptism plans in the works, I likely won’t be able to hand deliver this blanket until August. Obviously, that gives me a few more days to work on it. But, it will feel like years until I get to snuggle the brand new baby myself.

Congratulations B and JW! You guys are going to be a pretty awesome Mom and Dad.

And, I can’t forget the thrilled grandparents… D and Mom, I still think you should be Opa and Oma…

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An Introduction of the Fishtacular Kind

A cat, a dog, three fish… at what point do we get to start calling ourselves a menagerie?

You may remember that, a few weeks ago, after sorting through all the junk that was left over at my parents’ place from our university days, we rescued Mark’s fish tank. He spent some time cleaning it, set up all the bits of equipment, filled it with gravel, water, bits of fake plants, and driftwood and then let it sit for a couple weeks, allow it to filter and settle. Then, we went to PetSmart. After a half hour chat with their ridiculously knowledgeable fish expert, we came home with four little neons and kerplunked them into their new home.

Why neons?

Apparently, they’re hardy little critters. They can handle the harshness of a brand new tank, can take whatever chemical imbalances may exist while the filter figures itself out. They may even be able to survive through a little tank neglect! They didn’t require a heater, so were fine to put in while we figured out that situation. And, they were cheap! At a dollar each, if we happen to kill them, there’s no huge investment to mourn over.

In fact, less than a week later, we found one floating belly-up among the plastic tips of the fake plants.

Why four?

Well, that was the most our fish expert recommended putting into a brand new tank. I can’t fully remember the reasoning, but it sounded like a good one, so we went with it.

What would we do without our fish expert?

The tank sits in our living room, on a dresser that was the perfect size to place beside our couch. It makes it all a little cramped, but it’s comfortable and these little guys are fascinating to watch as they sprint around their tiny tank at top speed. One of Mocha’s new favourite things to do is sitting on the arm of the couch watching them, batting at the glass with her paws.

Come to think of it, she probably gave that dead neon a heart attack.

I wish I had gotten around remaking this dresser as I did its pair before we set a heavy fish tank full of water on it. If I’m honest with myself, I know it will not likely not happen for a very long time, if ever. At least it’s giving us a little more storage to hide our clutter away.

Yes, the castle is on its side. The bubble machine pushes it up all the time and the fish don’t seem to mind, so… neither do I.

Friends with fish tanks! What do you have in your tank? Have you ever tried photographing them? So hard, trying to catch them at an almost still moment.

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A Wall of My Own

In the past year of living in this house, we’ve hung very little on the walls. For a while, it made sense: we were in the depths of dusty renovations, so unpacking our photos and bits of art to hang on said dusty walls would have been silly. But, for the past six months, we’ve stared at our blank walls and wondered just exactly what we should do with them. A few things got leaned, some empty frames got hung to move them out of the way, but, for the most part, my walls were art-less.

So, I fixed it.

I gathered all our frames, filled a few empty ones, detached some art from some canvas, created some templates with newspaper and started arranging. Before hammering holes into my wall, I taped bits of newspaper up in the size of each frame to place everything and, once I’d found an arrangement I was happy with, simply nailed in the hanging nails through the paper. So much easier than guessing where the nail would go.

Of course, this will consistently be a work-in-progress. I expect that, eventually, it will curve around the corner, and perhaps up over the shelves above our TV. And, one day, the whole lot may have to relocate while we rip apart our house once again, and then find a home on a stairway wall.

But, for now, I’m happy that I’ve gotten started, that I’ve finally managed to get something on our walls, even if it’s unfinished. This room, the only ‘original’ room left in the house, was in need of some visual interest, something to draw your eyes away from the worn floor and the mess that inevitably ends up here. This motley collection of frames definitely does the trick.

This will be ever evolving. I have plans to spray paint some frames, to finish that long and skinny painting on the left, to add in details that are neither paintings, nor, necessarily, framed. As I adventure through life, this will be the wall I will add mementos to, little reminders of family and friends, a few photos, but mostly art and d’objet, bits of things that make me happy.

Have you created a gallery wall? I know, they’re so popular right now, some would say trendy. What do you think of them?

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Alden Shoes and why we spent more money on the Husband’s shoes than anything else in our combined wardrobes

When we went to San Francisco, we had one goal* in terms of sight-seeing: we wanted to visit The Alden Shop of San Francisco.

A little background.

A couple years ago, the Husband bought a pair of $80 shoes from Aldo. Whenever he buys shoes, he gets frustrated with the prices when, just looking on the other side of the store, there are a dozen lower-priced options for me. When these shoes only lasted 8 months, he was even more frustrated.

Then, somehow, he learned that if he spent significantly more on a pair of shoes, he’d be able to keep them for years. Like, 10 years, 20 years, kind of thing, with a few re-solings. He did some research, identified some good quality companies making good quality shoes, priced out how much he would have to spend, then broke down and bought a $22 pair of shoes.

How often can men find $22 shoes?

We know they would only be a temporary fix to the issue of his shoe situation, so when his research lead him to a shoe store in San Francisco that sold shoes in the mid-range of the type he was looking for, we penciled a stop into our itinerary.  

We spent around an hour in the small store. In that hour, the store made about 5 sales; each person or group that stepped through the door walked out with an Alden bag, having spent about 15 minutes in deliberations. It was an amazing demonstration of the different styles of consumers, the Husband being the contrast, as he tried on a few different styles and fits – made different by the ‘last’ the shoe was made with – and pondered over the decision.

Perhaps, for us, dropping $500 on a pair of shoe means more than their general clientele.

We left, the husband pleased with his purchase, happy that he’ll never have to search through selections of shoes that would fall apart in under a year; me, content that I’ll never have to endure through his cheap shoe shopping frustration again.

Are these shoes worth the money? I guess we’ll find out.

* We also visited Alcatraz and got ice cream in Haight-Ashbury. But when I say this was the primary goal, it actually really was.

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Three Things for Thursday

One


Yesterday, I stopped in at Michael’s to pick up the last required ball of yarn for my sister’s baby blanket. It seemed so silly taking such a side-step off my usual route home for a single ball of yarn, so I wandered the store a bit, took my time in the yarn section, and came upon the crochet threads. Four days prior (as I was packing for our trip to SFO) I had stumbled upon my unused collection of tiny crochet hooks and mused to myself that really, I should make something with these pretty little miniatures.

So, I bought a ball of blue crochet thread.

I’m thinking I might make some jewelry.

Or maybe I’ll go a little old-school and make a hanging planter.

Two

Years ago, when I was a little kid, my mom took a basket making class. At least, I seem to remember her taking a basket making class. I could be wrong. It happens. Either way, this memory – true or not – occurred to me for no apparent reason a few weeks ago and has left me with this odd, niggling desire to learn how to make a basket.

 It can’t be that hard, right?

Three


To round off a craft-centric Three Things: I bought a glue gun.

For $2.99.

It better work or I am going to be very disappointed with my investment.

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