As we're starting to get into the colder season, Tim has taken drastic measures to become his own source of warmth by sleeping in a ball as much as he possibly can. I moved his bed back to the corner of my desk where the sun likes to shine in the break of the morning, and for the last thirty days it seems like that's where he's been. With good rest comes good dreams and oddly enough he's taken to being a bit more active in his sleep.
I'd love to know what he's dreaming about as his jaw starts to click and his whiskers flutter in every direction. It's almost strange to watch because there is so much going on at once. He'll flick his tail, his paws move in unison, his ears twitch from side to side, he grits his teeth, it's fascinating. I'm sure as it starts to get colder, he'll try to hog my lap as much as possible to keep warm instead. I love our moments of hogging each other for comfort, and I look forward to it when the winter months begin. Until then, I'll be enjoying his bouts of deep sleep across from me on my desk, dreaming, quietly.
Lately, I've been surprising myself in the kitchen where I've become more determined to try new things, to help meet both of our preferences and to make cooking more enjoyable for the two of us. He likes spicy, she likes mild, he likes to eat things with legs, she likes to eat things with leaves. It's tough to know where to begin but because I'm a visual person when it comes to understanding how things are done, I have been watching a lot of cooking shows lately to pick up tips and suggestions. If I see something that one or both of us might enjoy, I'll jot down brief mental notes to later take into the kitchen. From that we've successfully added two new meals to our menu in the last month. That's huge.
With accomplishment comes confidence. For Ian, I wanted to try making soup. He had mentioned how much he enjoys different soups and because you can get so much out of a homemade batch (and it tastes so much better when it doesn't from a can) I was more than willing to give it a shot. For me, homemade perogies. I know it's a monster task, but you get so much out of it and they can be tucked away and saved for those cold, winter months. Where is this story heading? Hmm. Let's just say this:
* Never attempt to make both at the same time. Especially if you have no idea what you're doing.
I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but stubborn minds rationalize their way through every attempt to reason. For multitasking it worked out smoothly; my potato filling was completed while my stock was brewing beautifully and after adding all of the spices I was just in time to start on the dough for the perogies. This is where my expression of contentment turns to a furrow in the brow. Because the main ingredients for perogy dough are nearly the same things it takes to make papier mache, I began to regret my ambitions pretty quickly. It was almost reminiscent to an episode of I Love Lucy in that it was easy to laugh and cry at the same time.
To shorten the story, I managed to get a massive pot of soup and few perogies out of the experience before I threw in the towel towards finally admitting that my patience was toast. And though it may not have been so funny when I was in the moment, glued to my counter top by a glutenous mess, I can at least laugh at it now and be thankful I got out of there alive. What was I thinking?
So I decided to watch some TV this afternoon in attempts to warm my toes by taking a break to work on my blanket for the winter, when I suddenly found myself watching Oprah. * This is a rare occurrence on my part since I get a massive headache from listening to someone incessantly interrupt her guests so much as she does. But, something caught my eye.
As she flailed and shouted to her squealing audience about the new gadget that she claimed to be the greatest invention on earth, I decided to take some time to see what all of the fuss was about. Clever girl, she lures you in somehow. She was talking about Amazon's Kindle. Basically it's a digital library; a little device where you can download up to hundreds of books, magazines, articles, and read them in the very same day as ordering them. The major benefit on top of that? Saving trees of course.
The major downside to this magical beast is that it costs over 300$, at the moment. Like all new technologies they always have to price them high before they peter out into more affordable prices. Plus, I usually prefer to wait a while to hear reviews to see if it's a reasonable purchase. 300 dollars may be pocket change to Oprah, but for me not so much. Oh well, my interest in listening to the queen of lady land died out quickly as commercial breaks kept popping up every twenty-five seconds, but at least I learned something in between. As long as they don't start branding the Kindle with Oprah seals and stickers, I might consider one when the time is right.
Photo from (and review of the Kindle) at common craft
I thought this photo was kind of humorous so I felt it was perfect for the introduction of the next in line for crocheted additions. You're probably going to see a lot of these for the next little while, as Christmas is approaching quite quickly. I have about 5 more toys left to be assembled and then Ian and I will be sorting out how to go about setting up shop via my website... or Etsy if all else fails.
This new character I must explain since I'm sure you're wondering what the deal is with the blue striped feet. Well this little guy, who I dub Cygnus, is designed after a blue-footed booby. Blue-footed boobies are actual birds and no, it's not Photoshop trickery, their feet are actually blue. I've always found them to be entertaining birds, so I thought I'd make one of my own. The word booby comes from the Spanish word "bobo" which means dunce. I learned this by watching Discovery. Yes, I am a nerd.
Cygnus is also a little character I once drew and wrote about in my sketchbook while I was in college. My sketchbook is quite typically filled with just as much writing as there are drawings, because writing often stirs my imagination. Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Missing Piece were definite influences in that I found my first love for writing after having read them (several times) as a kid. I used to draw and write poems any time I got the chance, as it became my way of sharing with my family. It's fun to continue that tradition privately, to keep my brain fueled. Normally I shy away from showing what I have in my sketchbook, but I thought I'd share a little sampling of the story of Cygnus. Enjoy.
Cygnus, I asked
where do you fly?
"I don't," he said
I asked why
"can't," he said
how come? I sighed
"Cold feet, my dear,"
he frankly replied.
This is the newest addition, Banjo. He's a... well, I'm not sure what he is. I had originally followed a pattern for a dog and he kind of came out looking a little like an armadillo of sorts. What I wouldn't give to get him a mini aviator helmet. His perked ears and startled expression look like there's a fierce wind ahead of him. Maybe he'll fly home with someone, one day.
Well I took the plunge, quite literally, and joined a swim class. I was invited by a friend, Stacey, who I met through Ian, and though I'm more inclined to chicken out of new things I decided to give it a try. I found it pretty humorous how I managed to get a little flustered about going out in public in a bathing suit, but thankfully I wasn't alone. Women are so funny in how over critical we are of our bodies and which pieces we feel need to be kept hidden to others at all costs. It was almost quite amazing to see how many girls were so inclined to hide behind their towels. I'm pretty shy myself, but because I was more focused on getting back into the pool, my concerns drifted elsewhere pretty fast.
It felt really strange for me to say that it had been nearly 15 years since I'd been in a pool. I grew up in one. For a moment, I hesitated on wondering if I'd even remember what to do after having gone so long. Fortunately like anything that is a part of us, I was instantly at home in the water. It reminded me so much of being a kid that at times I felt I was smiling so big my face actually hurt.
It's a nice switch up from running as hard as I was before, and takes me away from trying too hard to throw myself back into things again. Stubbornly, I had a hard time sitting out my tendonitis injury for the 6-8 weeks that it takes to heal, and since swimming helps strengthen the muscles without overexertion or impact I'm interested to see where things go from here. It's a work in progress, and I cannot wait to get back in the pool again!
I managed to surprise myself this past weekend, in how I decided to take on the task of making a couple of paintings and pulled through without much fuss. With my trusty old beach towel (probably the same age as me) and the proper supplies, I was ready and set without too much concern for making a mess. That's the key to being a (clumsy) neat freak. Not a speck on my desk or floor. Hands? That's another story, but also why the towel comes in handy.
The paintings are as part of a gift which I will be sending off to a dear friend who I can't mention in case she pokes her nose on here before it gets to her. Basically it's my efforts in sending my support, as distance provides difficulty in getting to lend a helping hand in certain situations. And so, what better way to contribute than the best way I know how. I will post more about it when it's been sent and received. What fun to be so secretive and unpredictable. Unpredictable in that I got what I wanted accomplished!
One thing I always enjoy learning from other artists in the industry and about their experiences, is to find that you're not the only one who falters in and out of frustration, impatience and flailing one's hands. I've been chatting quite regularly with my dear friend Rebecca from Winnipeg, who has been experiencing the same obstacles I have lately. That frustration of waiting for things to take shape while keeping your sanity in those moments where patience wears thin and self doubt comes so easily. It's so nice to have that voice of reason to remind you that you're not alone in the woods, quite literally.
Rebecca and I have watched each other grow for what seems like a life time. She was one of those people who I met and knew it was going to be in for the long run, despite how opposite we may be in energies. Her high energy perks my spirits, where I believe my slow and steady nature brings her a sense of calm. It's a funny balance when you find those types to fit in your life, but it just works somehow without the effort.
When we lived together in the Summer of 2002, it was a fun experience in that we took things as they came. She was working late into the evenings, directing plays and small productions, while I was up before the crack of dawn, working at a lottery ticket factory, painting for fulfillment on the side, while sorting out my plans to venture off towards art college. We still laugh about the memories of how we so easily enjoyed each other's company; sitting, hunched at our computers with our oscillating fans in our laps, trying to survive the lazy summer's heat, often listening to the whir of our concentration. Seems so long ago, yet much like yesterday.
With the launch of her new website, I was quite amazed to see what it is that she's been up to since we last lived together, in her stifling little apartment on Broadway. She's worked in film and TV with big name celebrities like Dennis Quaid, Ziyi Zhang, Jeff Daniels, Harry Connick Jr, Renee Zelwegger... and Patty Duke?? Her photos are just simply amazing in that I never thought I'd know someone who does what she does. Her determination and strong will continue to baffle me. And after sharing with her those much needed pep talks and negotiations to return back to earth when we've been stuck floating about searching for a place to settle comfortably, I can only be thankful to be given that glimpse into the reality that no matter how talented, we all tend to struggle. It's allowed, it's a part of growing. Wow have you grown my friend, be proud.
Photos: In the Hood (Portrait), Chilled in Miami , 2009 (Film), Quaid (Portrait)
This is Oscar. He's a cat that I made, from a pattern I had never used before. I wasn't sure what to think of him as I put him together the other night. To be honest, it actually took quite some time for him to grow on me, since his elongated body and head seem to say ugly to me. His body shape and posture remind me ever so slightly of a sock monkey. For anyone who knows me well, knows that I shudder at the sight of them.
But because Oscar has a funny character in comparison to the other cutesy toys I've made, I thought I'd give him a chance. Surprisingly he's not unlike other cats I know. For anyone interested in adopting him, here are some things you should know.
Gets along well with other cats...
Is mischievous. He jumped on the counter when I told him he wasn't allowed...
Got into the catnip stash when I wasn't looking...
Got into my basil plant...
And decided to take the soft approach by lying in the middle of my crosswords to insist on a belly rub.
Surely someone will take him home and love him. He really is quite the character.
I'm just having a nice moment to myself, enjoying the silence of the house, curled in a blanket, sipping a hot chocolate. I have been drifting in and about contentment, smiling at the days to come as my fingers and toes grow cold. I'm such a winter girl it's so funny to see how much my mood switches with the weather. I'm so backwards but somehow I feel it's only nature, being Canadian, and also having grown up in a place rightfully dubbed "Winterpeg."
One of the main things I love about the cold air as it drifts in, is the comfort we seek indoors. I'm such a homebody I won't deny that I love having more of a logical excuse to stay indoors, yet in contrast I feel more willing to head outside than I do in the summer. I actually like to think of venturing outdoors in the cold as a bit of a challenge or an adventure of sorts. To trudge through fresh powder, piled in layers, with ice crusted eyelashes, cheeks rushing to warmth like a moth to a flame, toes in need of a hot bath, a cozy pair of flannel pants and a sweater much too large. Hot chocolate, a blanket, a soft light set dim, steaming mugs to warm pink fingers, a melody of jazz to curl up next to.
Ah, that's what winter is to me. I love it and I simply cannot wait.
I have been having a lot of fun this weekend, tampering with ideas to get my store up and running. It's taking shape slowly but surely, and all the while I'm enjoying it immensely. I love putting in those personal touches, and of course getting to tie things up with yarn and little tags. Once I get my shop up and running, figuring out how I'm going to do it, you will be seeing more items up for grabs. For now the pile just continues to grow and my hands continue to create. Who'd ever think that work could be so fun?
When I find good music it seems to be on such a rare occasion that I can tend to overplay the new songs on my playlist for the sake of being greedy. Fortunately I'm becoming more experimental with my music and from that I stumbled upon the work of Adele.
Her voice is simply lovely and has such power, but not that overpowering Christina Aguilera bellow that can grate on the nerves after so long. She will be a keeper on my list of tunes as I work into the wee hours of the night. So far every song I've listened to is just amazing. You must check her out, if you're into the jazzy, bluesy stuff. Delicious snacks for the ears.
My Stepdad goes in for surgery tomorrow and due to distance it's difficult to not get to be there for him. He has a lot of support and love from all over, so I'm sure he'll be fine once healing starts to take shape. Perhaps if he's having trouble coping with bed rest, being the workaholic that he is, we'll send Dr.Tim his way to show him how it's done. He's a pro.
Best of luck Doug, we'll be thinking about you !
I had a nice day outside of the house yesterday and what a difference it makes to escape. After a lovely morning of visiting friends, I decided to take a walk down to the old stomping grounds where Ian and I used to live, to record some memories from not so long ago. To think that we were only here 8 months ago, living every day at a time, feels like years ago yet at the same time things are still so new where we are now. It's a funny feeling, one of which I can't quite describe.
My picture snapping didn't go on for as long as I would have liked, unfortunately. But fortunately because of the sudden pouring rain, blowing leaves and piercing wind, I was drawn indoors at the coffee shop that I once knew. There were many winters where I'd bundle up and head down the street for some tea and a ginger cookie to warm myself up when the apartment was at a loss for heat. In an instant of sitting down to look around, the memories came flooding back. This feeling of reminiscence, I'd only ever felt with my home town before. Maybe that's why it's so weird. A home outside of home?
With a warm cup of coffee (I'm random with coffee) and a drying of the socks and hands, I headed back outside to continue taking more pictures. I visited the strip where Ian and I used to walk, where I used to window shop and poke about at the items on display; watering cans, bird houses and flower pots. The little flower shop where I attempted my first planting of a seed, which was supposed to grow into mini sunflowers. Fat chance for this not-so-green thumb. I'm still learning.
It was interesting though to catch pieces (when I could) of our old neighbourhood to bring back home with me. I'd almost forgotten where we were before we moved out to the 'burbs. The limited space, the simplicity of being an apartment dweller, the urban feel, graffiti, pub patios, the breaking of heaters over the coldest months of the year, sharing a love seat, fighting for the bathroom, winter walks to the store, the hallway neighbour brawls at 2am, clogging the garbage shoot. . It's so not my thing, but it's a piece of us in so many ways.
For anyone who gets as excited about children's books as I do, it's time to mark your calendars on October 27 for the release of Renata Liwska's Little Panda.
I am a huge fan of Renata, and have been fortunate in getting to know her as a fellow illustrator in children's media. One of the things that first excited me in seeing Renata's work is that her sketchbook is the most amazing thing there is. She records her drawings in a teeny moleskin sketchbook that is probably no larger than the average postcard and somewhere, somehow she just magically knows how to create the most beautifully hand rendered scenes, filled to the brim with narrative and character. From her character studies of drawing pandas: cute and lazy, fat and playful, came the idea to create 'Little Panda.'
In the misty mountains a little panda bear climbs tall trees, munches sweet bamboo, and curls up in his favorite perch to sleep.
It is just right - until Mother Panda goes looking for a snack and Little Panda's nap is disturbed by something unexpected.
What was it that his mother told him he should do?
You can see more drawings by Renata on her website
Productivity always makes me feel good and lately I've been on a roll. I'm designing some recipe cards, at the moment, that are geared towards kids and parents working together in the kitchen. This idea came to me when I first started illustrating messy faces and soon gravitated to the idea in how kids like to help with things and get their hands dirty. Teaching and learning is such a great way to form a bond in your relationship, I want to encourage it.
So far I call them my 'little helpers' series. I'm making a variety of illustrations of kids with messy faces, holding things above their heads to depict that sense of accomplishment that children get in helping with grown up tasks. On the back of the card, I'm designing a small section for parents to fill out, with what kind of tasks their kids can help with. Washing carrots? Mixing? Licking the beaters? Clean-up?
I know a lot of kids who would probably love the idea, but what about the parents? Is this something that could possibly interest you or someone you may know? What do you like to see on your recipe cards? Suggestions? Critque? I'm collecting thoughts from my little helpers.
Our neighbours have the most amazing Sunflowers growing, down the back alley, that I had to get outside this morning and take some pictures of them. There's just something about Sunflowers that are so beautiful and slightly melancholy in how their heads hang down. With their withered petals and lazy posture, it's easy to see how they were Van Gogh's favorite flowers.
This is typically my view on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes before the chores and sometimes after; it depends on my level of procrastination. I always find it quite funny in how Tim can be sound asleep in one spot, but as soon as I hit the bed to sit down for some crocheting, he is right there in the middle of my lap. You know, right between the legs so that when one leg or both start to fall asleep it's impossible to move without disturbing the sleeping beauty? Ah the relationships with cats.
I love our afternoons together, when I can manage to sit still for an extended amount of time. Sunday works well for being my lazy, crochet days, and so it's almost like clockwork how Tim and I meet up to start our day. He does the supervising, I do the work. It's a nice balance. I'll sip a tea in between projects, watch a movie for noise, all the while being productive. I like when work is so soothing.
As for our concerns with Tim's problem that had me so worked up not too long ago? We'll just say he's proven his point that things are just the same as they were before. We need not worry, but only keep an eye on the situation to avoid further complications. I'm glad we can enjoy more days like this together.
You guys are quick! The postcards have sold out already. At least for the time being. I will be making more sets to choose from so stay tuned for that. I'm still trying to sort out how to go about selling things; whether I test it out on my own site or register through Etsy.
One of the things I love about the change of seasons are the changes in tastes and smells. As I pull my Chung Hao tea off of the shelves to warm my fingers, I can't help but desire something with ginger or pumpkin spice to accompany it.
As a running tradition, for myself (Ian doesn't like pumpkin), I like to mark the beginning of the new season with some Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins.
Apple sauce, brown sugar, nutmeg, and of course pumpkin. The house smelled delicious all afternoon. I also find it fun in how the colors of the ingredients are similar to the ones outside.
The recipe is simple and quick, the way I like it, and it makes enough to get to pack in the freezer for later. Mom would be proud that I'm saving things more than I used to. Still finicky with leftovers, though.
I like creating our own little traditions in the house. Even if this one may be a bit of my own treat, I still believe that it's not quite Autumn without it.
Recipe from Angry Chicken.