Monday, November 30, 2009

November Recap


Cranes, gift exchanges, finding my old India photos, crafting in the office with the cat, going to Tremblant, advent calendars, cooking, re-organizing the condo, and finally receiving our wedding photos! Yup, that was November in a nutshell!

and the snow begins....


photo taken in the plateau neighbourhood 2 winters ago

Only a little while ago I was writing about how the weather was a topic of conversation, and this morning I need to be ready for said conversation to begin!

It's weird, while I dread the snow because once it starts I know they'll be months of the stuff, there comes a point in November when I start longing for snow. In the beginning, snow is just plain beautiful. And if it weren't for the hibernaty, inconvenience of living in it for 4.5 months, I'd actually have to admit to loving it. And even preferring it to the months of rain I grew up with on the wet west coast.

The warm glow from the street lights as the streets get all hushed, the bright, crisp days, the way that the holidays feel like a Hallmark holiday, and all of the city's ugliness hidden underneath this white layer.

But then the snow turns grey, we hear the sloshiness of tires against it, people slip on the sidewalks.... and then it's not so great any more.

Let the fun begin!

Friday, November 27, 2009

crane feature



Another blogger, Angel Eden, showed off one of my cranes on her site when sharing the news that she'd joined the Handmade Highway, which was a lovely compliment.

Thanks!

advent calendar tree



I'm working on a little holiday present inspired by The Red Thread.



What do you think?  The idea is to share a little joy with a friend, every day in December....

Anyways, time towork, then a weekend full of crafting, condo revamping, and 2 belated birthday dinners. I'm going to need a break from my weekend by the time it's all said and done!

condo revamp - in progress, with an end in sight


The living room during and now (almost done)

The office before....



Big drumroll please....



The office now...

We still have some work to do, but the space is starting to come together a bit better, so it's quite gratifying. There's still an entire bookshelf in our entrance way that needs to be re-organized but it's not an overwhelming task anymore, so that helps quite a bit. Once we finish the office, I plan on making the room a bit more funky by adding a few star holiday lights along the ceiling. Paul's not thrilled with the idea, but if it's just in the office, I should be allowed to get away with it! (I love Christmas lights, they take me back to being a teen from Nanaimo, eating at Gina's restaurant).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

crane ornament giveaway!



So I've seen a lot of giveaways out there in blogland, but have never done it myself, so I've decided to give it a try. This year, in the spirit of holiday cheer, I am offering up one of my crane ornament creations.

Main Entry- for the main entry leave a comment let me know if you would keep your prize or give it as a gift. Leave me your email and name on each entry please. 

Extra Entries- please leave me a comment for each that you do.

  • Follow my blog by Google Friend Connect publicy. (+1 entry)
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back here, leave the URL of your post in a NEW separate comment box. (1 entry)
  • Follow thelotustree via Twitter then in a NEW separate comment write your id. (1 entry)
  • Become a fan of LotusTreeCrafts via FaceBook then in a NEW separate comment write your id. (1 entry)
  • Tweet about this giveaway and give me the link to your tweet. (1 entry)
  • Visit my store, LotusTreeCrafts, on etsy and tell me which is your favourite ornament.
  • Comment on any of my nongiveaway posts. (unlimited)

Giveaway will end on Dec. 5. I will use random.org to pick the winning number, notify the winner and announce it on my blog. If the winner does not respond within 48hrs, I will choose another winner and will announce it again in my blog.


Good luck to everyone and thanks for playing along!

NOTE : Remember to include your email in the comment box so I can reach you if you win.

married life

I've been struggling to express this idea for a while now, and still am, but here goes...

People always ask, how's married life? And my answer is always, pretty much the same as non-married life. Not much has changed. But the thing is, while that's true, it's also not completely true and it's taken me a while to figure out why. I mean, we lived together beforehand, we were committed beforehand, our moneys were shared beforehand... so ostensibly, nothing has changed. But it has, and I've finally figured out why.

While we dated, I asked myself a lot of questions like "are you sure?" "is this the one?" "can you live with his flaws, and he yours?" "do we argue well together" etc, etc....  Admitting this to others was always somewhat of a challenge for me because I always felt like it would be perceived as unhappiness or dissatisfaction in the relationship, when really, it had nothing to do with that. For those who know me personally, of course, the amount of over-analysis that went into these questions bordered on being manic, which probably acerbated the concerns they felt when the questions were raised.

However, throughout the marriage preparations something changed. I continued to ask these questions, most often to Paul (yes, you should feel sorry for him and applaud him for being such a patient and brave soul!) but somewhere in there, the questions were answered and now that the decision has been made, a sort of calm has set in. There's a sort of peacefulness in me and in my perception of the relationship that wasn't always there before. Which is weird really because on a logical level marriage has changed nothing. We were committed before the "I dos" and marriage really is no guarantee of anything other than saying that you'll fight it out before you walk away. Yeah, I know there are those who disagree but I'm from divorced parents and I know that some marriages last, and others don't - it depends on the work that the couple in question puts in... but that also holds true whether you're married or not (so I'm totally contradicting myself to some extent). And I don't know if it was really the wedding itself or the process leading up to it that brought about the change, but the change is there so the question is moot.

But who knows, maybe it's as simple as the fact that on some level I feel reassured that if the going gets tough, or we have some terrible argument, that he's committed to working it out and trying everything before walking away (and vice versa). Maybe not being married but having a child together would create that same sense of security. Maybe just knowing that the commitment was that solid, regardless of marriage, would have created that security and we would have gotten here anyways after a period of time and having really merging our lives together fully. The end results are the same regardless of the personal path that led us here, for me (and us, cause we've talked about it) marriage has changed us, albeit not in the ways that are tangible or even measurable.

So I guess when people ask, how's married life, I should be saying great, never better, never happier. Because it's true. Nothing has changed, yet it has. And I feel more at peace in my life than ever before. Will that stay? Who knows. Am I just in the honeymoon phase? Possibly. But since I am not really the gushy type, I don't say these things. I don't know how to explain the why behind the happiness ... at least not until now (and even now I'm not so sure that I've done so without muddling things up).  I know that a lot of newlyweds say that marriage did change something, maybe it's for the same reasons or maybe it's for entirely different reasons... but I guess that am officially added to the crowd of couples out there that believe that there was something transcendent about the ceremony itself and that on some level, though I struggle to express it and end up sounding like it's all about reassurance and security when it's more than that, that getting married has had an impact on us and our relationship.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

my word quota is up!

So Paul told me a new theory today:

People have only so many words before they start running out. And my quota is up and I've started to run out, hence the fact that I'm constantly stumbling over my words as I get older....

The cure: talk less and save 'em up!

random-nata

Life is all over the place right now. So is this post!

I'm learning sign language (bits and pieces) while working a deaf student that I tutor. It's pretty intense because I can't move my fingers and hands quickly or smoothly enough. And as my student likes to point out, my facial expressions suck. Who knew that lil miss expressive would be told that in life? The problem... I'm concentrating so hard on getting the gestures that I can't even begin to pay attention to what my face does... and it ain't pretty my friends!

Paul and I are purging, re-organizing, and re-vamping the condo. So far the process has been good, if not a bit slow going. Both the office and living room are about just over halfway done... we just need to figure out what to put where and a system for using all this new space effectively. Who knew that I'd be so scrupulously attentive to organization one day? What can I say, lately life is just full of surprises.

So of course I'm in organization mode, which led to the same process occuring at work today. My office is now revamped and re-arranged. And my desk, well my desk feels like it just gained like a mile of space... no exaggeration!  :)

In other news, I'm starting to get ready for winter but oddly enough winter doesn't seem to be on its merry little way. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. Oh no, not complaining at all. The mild weather has been fab-fricking-fantastic! Nary a drop of snow in sight and it's nearing the end of November. Side note: it never ceases to amaze me how weather out here is an actual topic of conversation. No really, a real topic of conversation. Not just superficial small talk kind of conversation. People will talk about it for ages, complain, rant, rage, long, wish, dream, fume, praise the weather, myself now included. I guess when the weather is predominantly rain, as it is out on the west coast of BC, there isn't all that much to be said. But when you actually have 4 seasons (with all the joy and misery that come with them), there's a whole hell of a lot to say!




In other news, I'm finishing up the last details of my gift package for blogging by mail , which needs to be sent out by Friday the latest... Finding "calgon take me away" goods for someone halfway across the world is fairly daunting to me. I mean... a book, well what if they've read it? It's not like they can exchange it... What about DVD of fav movie? Then I wonder if it will be able to be played, etc, etc, etc...

Crafts ideas are in the works... but also somewhat on hold because of aforementioned re-organization. Slowly folding my way through 1001 origami cranes in order to make a crane garland.

Garlands normally look like this (done vertically):


photo credit: Cat Dancing flickr

But I want a chain that looks more like these doves done horizontally:


photo credit: Ten Thousand Villages

I think I'd prefer the cranes closer together and I plan on putting a bead (something shiny) between the birds. After that, I have a plan that includes lacquer, cranes, and bookmarks...

Yeah... I think that's it for now... like I said, things are a bit random on my end!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mayla


Mayla the flower

Every now and again, I become curious about very random things.... this morning's curiousity being how common "mayla" is on the internet.

So although my little Mayla doesn't come up in the search engines, which is fine, I find it interesting to note how often the word is paired with pictures of pink lotuses....  According to this site, also where image is from, Mayla is a specific type of lily (lotus) flower.



my Mayla

Very interesting piece of synchronicity (sp?), don't you think?

End random curiousity....

Monday, November 23, 2009

project mayhem

Ever started a project where you wanted to throw in the towel before you're even halfway done? Or started something that seemed like it would be relatively easy to do, only to find out just how much work it actually entails once you're in the midst of chaos?

Don't get me wrong, I KNOW that this condo revamp will be a good thing. We'll be more organized and the space will feel more liveable. In fact, our living room already feels much nicer.... but we still have such a bloody long way to go still that it's a little daunting. It's not the putting in new furniture or decorating bits that are daunting, it's the sorting and organizing of said space once it's created and the purging of uneccessary goods as we do this that is striking me as being quite a large and overwhelming task.

Will it be a good thing once it's done? Hell's yes! Am I looking forward to sorting through all my junk? Hell's no! [insert big heavy sigh here] But I know it's for the best. So the great condo revamp of 2009 continues....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

condo revamp - in progress

Not so long ago, I posted about making the most of condo space as I geared up towards revamping the space we live in. So after some discussion, Paul is onboard and we've started the great condo revamp of 2009.

Here are our before/in progress pictures. I'll update with the final version when it's all done!



As you can see, we've added another Ikea Expedit shelf into our home, we really are an Expedit family! Why we choose to torture ourselves with this particular brand of Ikea furniture is a mystery to me. At least this time I didn't end up straddling the bookshelf in order to hold it together while Paul screwed things in (which I did for the shelf you'll see below!) Wow, that sounds pretty bad as I reread it, but it was intended to be an entirely PG13 comment!




The chaos from which I am currently typing! The smaller Expedit (with the fancy new blue baskets) will go into the office (no, that's not the one I straddled!) and will be used for crafting stuff (the picture of our office will explain why I need hidden baskets!)

The Expedit bookshelf I straddled!



As you can see, we're not using it to it's optimal potential. Something that needs to be fixed, urgently, and will hopefully be accomplished in the next week as we complete our project. Side note: fricken Ikea went and discontinued the bloody wicker baskets! GRRRR... so now if I want more, I need to watch the stores frantically and nab some before they're completely gone (Feb 2010).

And now for the office! (It's a mess, almost entirely of my making... I confess!)


The small expedit will replace the mini shelf you see behind the black office chair (hopefully allowing my crafting goods to stay tidy (or at least maintain the illusion of being tidy ... cause that's what really counts!)

And our closet, featured below, our prime source of shame and absolutely wasted space, will receive new built in shelving in order to optimize the space. We'll be able to store extra bedding, linens, Christmas stuff, etc... and it will hopefully be more user friendly!




2 of our dining room chairs will be stored on the bottom shelf (once installed) and the other 2 will go to Paul's parents to be stored in their basement. I'm excited to see the end result! Now if only Paul would wake up so that we can get it started! (it's 7am on Sunday... ).

Hopefully I'll be able to update with photos by the end of next week! Keep your fingers crossed for me. Because if we can create more storage space, maybe the condo will feel less cluttered, and we won't feel so much like we need to move to a bigger space. Cause I really don't want to house hunt, pack and move. I'm tired of moving. When you've lived in 16 places in 13 years... well, just the thought of packing boxes again makes me shudder...

Friday, November 20, 2009

compulsive etsy-ing...

So yeah... I have a facebook fanpage now...  What I'm exactly supposed to do with it, well.... yeah, I'm not all that sure. (I'm probably not supposed to admit that in public, am I?) But whatever, even though this whole selling on Etsy has become my new fixation/pet project, I need to keep things in perspective. I have a job and this is just a side project for fun.

I don't know if you're (dear internet reader, whoever and wherever you are) anything like me, but I find that I become easily fixated on whatever project I'm working on, sometimes at the expense of having balance. When I was wedding planning I visited Offbeat Bride far too often (it doesn't help that they have a forum and it fed my addiction), now it's been replaced by my etsy habit.

Having realized that I'm perhaps struggling to navigate the fine line between obsession and business promotion for a side venture, I'm going to try to take a step back for a bit and just focus on actually making crafts and leaving etsy alone for a bit.

I don't know why it's so easy to get sucked into fixating, but for me at least, it is. All of a sudden I'm so emotionally invested in seeing these little crane balls of my succeed, which is silly because they are a hobby, not my livelihood. Don't get me wrong, I do want to see if I can make a go at selling them but my intention isn't to ever replace my job with this.... so why am I being so compulsive? 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

wedding photos


For those who are curious, here are a few of our wedding photos on Francois Bergeron's blog:

book shelf lust

photo credit: apartmenttherapy.com

This is what I feel like my books look like (minus the colour organization)

Here are some of the bookshelf ideas that inspire me...

Akin to the style I already have (Ikea Expedit/Billy):


A very different look for me.
Romantic, French Provençal style:


Country charm and for a house with a lot of space and light
Crates for a rustic look:


Probably more my style (as already sort of established) and full of colour!!!!:




















I know, lately I've been all about home decor. Probably because we're trying to figure out if we're staying put, or if we're going to move to a bigger space. Either way, something needs to be done to tidy up and better organize the space. I like our condo, but it feels drab to me and in need of a style or a decor that gives it a feel/atmosphere instead of what feels just sort of blah to me...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

i [heart] ornaments



Yup, these days it's all about stuffing things into bottles. Who knew I'd ever say that?

Working on new ideas. What do you think of these: origami hearts and crocheted snowflakes.  I'm sorry that the picture quality sucks, I'm struggling to get good photos without flash and reflection off the glass...


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

vegetarian cuisine, Julie/Julia, and learning to master the art great vegetarian food

I would like to say to you all now that while I have always found vegetarians a bit silly, since I have been eating like one my contempt for them is boundless. Jesus, what a boring, sad life it is. Wouldn’t be so bad, if you’d just throw in some fucking bacon. Or a steak.

from the Julie/Julia blog.

Recently I watched the Julie/Julia movie. I enjoyed it overall for what it was. An entertaining, light movie. The fact that this woman decided to cook so much fancy schmancy food simply overwhelms me, truth be told. I mean, I can't imagine what eating all that butter, cream and rich food must have done to her waistline.

So anyways, it led to me checking out her blog. And what did I find? Yes, the quote above. As a vegetarian of 16 years, I am required to speak up in defense of vegetarian cuisine. But more importantly, I just want to say, for fuck's sake people, use your bloody imagination when you're cooking vegetarian food. If an entire nation (India) can base their cuising on a primarily vegetarian diet, then maybe it's not vegetarianism but your poor skill at cooking, imagining, or creating a gourmet vegetarian meal.

Stop expecting your meat free rendition of your staple fare to be a lesser substitute for meat based lifestyle. Stop making the same food, just omiting the meat, and expecting it to be the same as your steak and potatoes fare. So you like meat, I get it. But honestly, if you can't create a delicious, savory, mouth watering vegetarian meal it's because you haven't stepped out of the box enough to imagine a meal that is actually based on a vegetarian lifestyle, not a lesser, non-meat substitution.

Learn to use your spices. Try spices beyond thyme, basil and oregano. Use your fucking imagination! When Top Chef hosted an episode with vegetarian Natalie Portman, it was abysmal. The aspiring cooks were completely clueless when it came to making a meat-free meal. And this is the problem people have when they whine that vegetarian food is awful. It's not awful, your vegetarian cooking is. So enough already. Do me a favour and shut the hell up! Explore your options, try different things, actually go out and buy one of the hundreds of great vegetarian cookbooks out there (that teach you to cook from a vegetarian perspective, not a meat substition based perspective). If you're trying to turn tofu into steak, of course you're going to be disappointed. But marinate that tofu right, with some lentils, spices and yummy veggies, and now we're talking baby! (see veggie phylo rolls... they were seriously delish! check out a few of my veggie experiments, or borrow a good cookbook)

Or, if you're not interested in vegetarian cuisine, just bloody well admit it and stop your whining already. As a vegetarian I'm fricken sick and tired of this crap! Seriously, I'm not wasting away here for lack of food options. My meat loving husband, who lives a predominantly vegetarian lifestyle at home, isn't either.

Monday, November 16, 2009

happiness, crafts, and green eggs and ham.

I wouldn't trade my 30s in for my 20s for anything. Seriously. Life, even with all of its foibles and various down points, has never been better. I'm happier than I've ever been.

Yes, my house is a mess and it drives my husband crazy.
Yes, my cat wakes me up every morning, waiting for me to open the blinds so she can lick the dew off the windows even though she has a fresh bowl of water.
Yes, I drive a car to work and curse my car consuming ways and wish I was a better environmentalist.

Yes, yes, yes, to a wide array of other little things.

But at the end of the day, none of these things really matter because I really have nothing of import to complain about. I could rant about a ton of political issues, or long for various goods (a bigger home, more money, new clothes), or vent about the small insignificant family and friend things that we all go through, but really, what would be the point? Besides, I'm so utterly uninterested in it at this point in my life that one might even venture to say that I'm experiencing an uncharacteristic bout of pure Polyanna-esque happiness. Which makes sitting down to blog a bit of a challenge sometimes because I really don't have much to say.

Yes people, stop the presses, Marya has nothing to say!

But seriously, how many times can I blather on about being happy? Or the various crafts that I'm doing? Or that I went to Michael's in Kingston with a friend that I've known for like forever and got a little crazy about the crafts.... Or the new books that I've recently added to my collection? (ok, I could write about that!)

New crafting books in the collection (and oh so very pretty and inspiring):



I'm very excited about them all! Oh yes, aprons, skirts, and various other things are coming your way in the not so distant future! Woo hoo!

And wait, la piece de résistance:



Seriously, how cool is that? It actually has a recipe for Green Eggs and Ham and a Pink Yink Ink Drink, both of which are totally edible and would be a blast to make!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

marriage cranes



My latest crane adventure.


I was asked if I could create an ornament with 2 cranes in it and this is the result of my trials. I think I spent like 2 hours working on this wee little beastie! I know the ornaments look easy, but let me assure you, they’re not! Getting those birds to float just right, with their wings open, is time consuming. I enjoy it though. There’s something about the fact that their Zen simplicity belies the amount of work actually goes into them.

Anyways, the request was great because for some reason I never even thought of trying to put 2 cranes into the balls. I’ve made ornaments with 3 crocheted snowflakes, but never thought of doing so with the cranes. So here is to customer requests that prompt creativity!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

jewelry storage ideas

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I am a lover of jewelry. It's a trait I come by fairly as my grandmother's jewelry collection still puts me to shame. Seriously, I wish I had a photo of her jewelry collection. She stored it everywhere, from coffee mug racks (see 2nd image, 3rd row), earring pin cushions, huge stand alone toolboxes, to tupperware containers in the top drawer of her dresser. She even had some tucked away in her spice rack! (I'm not even beginning to do her collection justice). It was a sight to behold. Nowadays her collection is tamer, but still something to talk about.

My meager collection (bigger than many but much smaller than Grandma's) was born  from and nurtured by her love of jewelry. Costume or real, I love me the fancy baubles. In fact, I actually prefer costume jewelry. Beads and buttons, I'm your gal. However, storing said collection presents me with some logistical woes. From tacks on the wall to boxes on my dresser (when I had a dresser), keeping my necklaces and various other sundries has been a challenge.

Inspired about a year ago by a piece in a Blueprint magazine (no longer in print... see Martha Stewart), I devised my own jewelry tree. It has served me well over the past year, but I'm finding that I need extra dishes and such for the non-hanging pieces. So I went on a search for unique and interesting jewelry storage ideas. Here's what I came up with:


photo credits:
row 2: decor amor, country living, apartment therapy, apartment therapy, little bono everywhere
row 3: blueprint (martha stewart), apartment therapy, blueprint, brand-eye
row 4: apartment therapy, apartment therapy, naughty secretary club, design mom
row 5: naughty secretary club x3, lovers dovers clothing (etsy), naughty secretary club
row 6: joyful abode, jennie mead photobucket, diy ideas, real simple, isuwannee

My current jewelry tree was inspired by the first image in the 3rd row (manzilla tree against the red background - quick note, if you need to cut this wood bring out a saw, it's very strong which makes it very sturdy and reliable if you're hanging a lot of necklaces from it). However, I'm really intrigued by the idea of using shadow boxes (see image 1 in 1st row) or a cake stand. I just don't know if they'd be able to hold all of my little gems. For the moment I'll keep the system that I have, but at one point I'm going to have to rethink things a bit in order to take the smaller pieces into account.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

sarah haskins

If you don't know Sarah Haskins or her show "Target Women" you should because she's amazing. She makes me laugh every time.

veggie phylo rolls



One month wedding anniversary today!

Anyways...

Tried out a new recipe Monday night. Actually I tried out a combination of 2 recipes and used phylo dough for the first time. Recipes combo from Australian Women's Weekly (vegetarian) and Vegetarian Times magazine.

Spinach, basil, cheese stuffed phylo rolls (Paul approved)

Filing (all measurements approximative):

4 mushrooms
3 stalks of green onions (shallotts)
1/2 red and 1/4 green peppers
1/4 tofu
1/4 cup red lentils
approx 1 tbsp basil
1 clove garlic
4 leaves of spinach

sauteed together with butter. started with mushrooms and butter and then added the rest once the mushrooms were done.

1/4 cup cottage cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese

put in food processor and pureed

spooned into phylo squares and rolled.
top buttered and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
baked for 20 mins @ 350



They were actually very savory considering that the only spice added was basil. I was concerned that the filling would be heavy but I was actually very pleased with my experiment. I will be making these goodies again.

Monday, November 9, 2009

tremblant

We headed up to Mont Tremblant this past weekend. On the way up we drove through snow:

I of course, had a bit of melt down at the thought of snow. I'm not ready for winter yet, and yet this is a sure sign that winter is on its way. [insert big sigh here]

By the time we arrived to the cottage, I was covered in coffee and apple juice, both courtesy of the fantastically smooth roads in Quebec, not that I'm bitter or anything... snow and coffee covered shirt... the weekend was off to a good start. Did I mention that I was also sick (congested) during this trip?


Anyways, even though I was sick it was a fun weekend. We ate delicious food, compliments of our hosts, Mark and Katie. They made a yummy veggie Slovenian mushroom bread cup soup.

See photo of bread cups. Must get recipe....
After lunch we sampled the new Molson M beer (it comes out in a week or 2 but one of the group works there so we got the sneak peak). It was actually pretty good. To be honest, I'm not a big Molson beer drinker but this is a beer that I'd actually drink regularly. It's smooth but not too heavy.


And then we moved on to games:

Cranium (the boys beat us by one point but they gloated all weekend) but that's ok cause the girls (though not me included) beat them at old school Super Mario.

Overall it was a good weekend. Thanks Mark and Katie!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

decorating style quiz results

Results from home decorating style quiz:

Marya, you are a Bohemian Eclectic

You have wide-ranging interests and influences and so appreciate a mix of styles, cultures, periods, and objects. You would never use a matching suite of furniture or want a home that seemed cookie-cutter. You have an artist's eye that enables you to mix the old or the unusual with the new and modern. When traveling, you seek out unique objects that reflect what you love, and you use them in a sophisticated way. Your home is visually intriguing and comfortable, with a delightful mix of cozy chairs, ethnic fabrics, elegant pieces, hand-made items, even a little touch of quirk or humor, all of which gives your place a laid-back, Bohemian feel.

You value creativity. You are stylish and fun loving, and can be an inspiration to others. You have a natural sense of drama, and you know you have to be willing to take risks—whether with colors, finishes, furniture choices, or ideas—for your home to stand out. Your home can be happy and lively and the place all of your friends want to be.

Putting Your Style to Work!

With your style and needs in mind, here are a few tips that will help you make your home a little happier.

1. Your Design Challenge: UNIFY

The good news is, you probably have many things you love and have collected, and no one would ever say your home is boring! You've done the hard part; now you just need to pull it all together. If your furniture seems like a mish-mash, unify it through similar upholsters or slipcovers. When grouping objects, try to find something they have in common. If they share a shape, color or material, they will look like a collection. A tray is every decorator's secret weapon for making groups of small objects look purposeful and sculptural. If your accessories are all over the map, try subduing the upholstery or wall color, so your small items are the stars.

2. Your Happy Place

Choose a color or two that harmonizes with the tableware you already own, and collect things like linens, glasses, dessert plates, or platters in those hues. This is a fantastic way to liven up a plain, white table setting. And if you can, set the table the night before a dinner party, so you can really take pleasure in tending to the details.

3. Be Party-Ready All the Time!

Mood: Nice, flattering light makes us feel good. So nix the harsh, direct light from overhead fixtures in favor of the softer glow from floor and table lamps. Also, keep some votive candles and a couple of hurricane lanterns for setting around the room.

Scent: The first thing you notice about a home is how it smells. Use naturally fragrant cleaning products. If you find a scented candle or fresh potpourri you love, stock up on it. Any scent you like, whether perfume or linen spray, can be used on upholstery, bedding or just spritzed into the air.

Food: Devote space in your pantry or on a shelf for go-to party essentials: crackers, dip, chips, nuts—whatever you like to serve. Keep on hand a collection of attractive bowls and cocktail napkins, and you'll be able to set a spread—instantly!

Drink: The simplest and chicest thing is to have a drinks tray or table always set up. Include a mix of pretty glasses, an ice bucket, a lovely pitcher, and bottles of soda and water. When the bell rings, just add ice and limes.

You know your style.

Your Happy Home Colors


Putting Color to Use!

You are probably not one to go in for crazy color, and you may want to keep things fairly neutral and sophisticated overall. But try selecting a duo or trio of colors that work well together, and introduce one or more of them into your curtains, wall color or rugs. This will tie the overall palette together in a coherent way. You could even incorporate your color palette in smaller doses, like in your tablecloths, cushions, throws, or bedspreads, for example.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

striking a balance between ambition and contentment

The past month or so has been insanely busy. Between getting married, going on a honeymoon, and dealing with jetlag (I know, woe is me, my life is so very difficult), things have been sort of out of whack for a good long time now. My life has been full of blessings lately but I haven’t really had a chance to process them and be thankful for everything that has come my way these past few weeks.

So first things first: We travelled to the south of France for our honeymoon and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the world. Really, the world is an amazingly stunning creation. Be it the big bang or god’s hand, or a combination of both working together, the few corners of the world I’ve been blessed to visit have all struck with their beauty. Seeing all these places only reconfirms my commitment to be a better environmental steward. There may be other beautiful worlds out there but it would be a shame for us to let apathy and luxury lead to the demise of the one we have. Seriously.

On top of being reminded by how gorgeous our planet is, travelling constantly reconfirms that sense that the way we live as North Americans is seriously flawed. Our joie de vie is always linked to money and work and not sitting back and just enjoying life. I know we have to work, but the need for more is seriously undermining our ability to just appreciate what we have. Of course, I write this as my husband (holy crap, I have a husband now) and I are talking about selling our condo and buying a house. More space seems to be the answer but I have to admit to feeling somewhat ill at ease with the idea. Yes, I want a garden and my own craft room. I want places to store things (linens and so forth) but I find myself wondering if a bigger space is really going to be the answer. The move is one that my partner craves slightly more than I do at this point, mostly because of my reservations about a consumerist lifestyle. I am hesitant about the timing, locations we’re looking at, and the financial savvy of making such a move. Besides, while the excitement of decorating an unknown space is appealing, it means that life is put on hold for just a little bit longer and we live in limbo until we make the transition. But then again, if we know that it’s only a matter of time, isn’t it better to just get on with it now? Is staying in the condo really the answer to reducing my consumerism or just avoidance of the larger issue that I’m struggling with? Will trying to stay in a smaller space and learn appreciation for what we have really solve my concerns about living a life that makes sense in the face of our current environmental realities.

With each trip I make, I feel like my dis-ease with North American life grows by leaps and bounds, and the biggest qualms I have in regards to this dis-ease, is our big box supermarket, mass consumption lifestyle. I’m not particularly comfortable with our proscribed need to buy a house in the ‘burbs, raise some kids, build a career and so on and so forth. Don’t get me wrong, as already mentioned, I do want a kid (emphasis on the singular) and my career is important to me, but white picket life makes me cringe a little bit. I find trying to find a balance between the need to stay put and build those things and my desire to life a nomadic life very hard to negotiate at times. Obviously I just got married and I’m agreeing to a semblance of stability in my life but I’d like to do so on terms that defy the ordinary to some extent. So one of the issues that I’m currently pondering/meditating on, is how to find a balance between the lifestyle I’ve been raised to live (and in some ways very much do want: I mean, I want a kid who has a yard to play in, a small home that is decorated, comfy and full of love, and I want a life that is relatively stable) and my apprehension about some of the details and foibles that come with it (I want to travel and see the world, I want to live a life that isn’t stereotypically suburban, I want art and culture to be part of my everyday). Ironically, in becoming more stable in my life, I’ve come closer to those goals than I ever have before. I mean, since Paul ventured into my world, I’ve travelled to more places than ever and have started to explore my more artsy, crafty side (Yes, my husband makes my life better, it’s true and I’m announcing that publicly just for him!)

proof that Paul makes my life better!
top row: Antibes, France; Cathedral Grove, BC; Taj Mahal, India (not directly related to Paul, but part of the Paul era); Boston, USA. bottom row: Nice, France; Varadero, Cuba; Mont Tremblant, QC; Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

In the end and back to my point, we don’t want a big house. Ideally our goals are fairly realistic. But in the search for bigger and better, when is enough, enough? I think it’s important to have goals to strive for, but when does our ambition move beyond the materialistic towards a path that is ultimately more fulfilling? I've seen kids in India, and students from around the world with far less than me, who are ultimately far happier than the average North American. So what gives? Because I'm not buying that poverty brings happiness. I know that money doesn't buy it either, but obviously the key isn't in quantity, or even necessarily always quality of life, but rather lies in our attitudes and expectations of life. We've been raised with the proverbial silver spoon (to varying degrees of course) and yet on average, we're far unhappier than the rest of the world. Again, the only answer that seems to make sense is that we expect too much, too soon, and when we get it, we quickly move on to the next thing. So, back to the question at hand, if we get that bigger house, what will come next? And will we be able to balance our materialistic goals with our "spiritual" more life fulfilling ambitions. The problem really isn't whether we buy a house or not, not really, but what we do with our lives once we've achieved the major milestones we've set for ourselves and how we negotiate the journey that follows. I suppose my fears lie therein. What will we do once we have it all? Will we cling to the need to find more, have more, be more, or will we transcend the need to consume and learn contentment?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

patchwork table runner

I've been working on a patchwork table runner over the past few days. Here are the results:



If you look closely you'll notice a few problems with it. The edges are completely balanced and it looks bumpy (I think a bit of starch will fix this). Part of the problem is that when I was sewing the patches, I didn't make sure that all the seems laid in the same direction. But I admit it, I was too lazy, once I realized the problem, to go back and correct it.

Overall the results are ok, but if I were to do it again, I'd use larger squares because I feel like the number of black squares really break the pattern more than I had envisioned. But it's an evolving process and at the end of the day, it's fine. I learned a lot from it and the end product is still useable, so it's all good!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

cylon toasters!

Ok, moment of pure and utter geekdom squee:


image from TV Blog

I was home sick today, watching The Big Bang Theory and saw this toaster. Seriously, as a Battlestar fan I can't help but find this totally fraking awesome. I totally want one. It apparently toasts a cylon face onto the bread and even lights up as it toasts! Yup, I'm a geek, but this is too cool to not geek out over.

Monday, November 2, 2009

crafty sunday

So now that the wedding dust has settled, yours truly got to spend some time crafting yesterday. The day started off quietly, tea and conversation with my sweetie (yup, I wrote that..) and then I shifted focus and went to work.

It started with a re-organizing/cleaning of craft space:



It's only a few steps from this to the ideal craft room I posted about previously, n'est ce pas? (and yes, this is the tidied up version!) I'm not a particularly clean person, but order and clean spaces makes it so much easier to think/work. I wish that my awareness of this fact would translate into a more cleaning aware lifestyle, but I've known this for the past 10 years and it still hasn't taken hold! But there's hope, I'm cleaner now than I used to be.

To working on some holiday decor ideas, which I'm going to add to etsy and see how they do:




The balls are relatively easy to make, just a bit time consuming and require quite a bit of patience. Folding the cranes is easy once you know how to do it, but getting them in the ball and opening up the wings is an act of pure zen mastery! Seriously, the language that comes out of my mouth as I attempt this, without fail, verges on something that would even make my mother blush! Between 2 crochet hooks, the tenously threaded crane and my big fingers... it's a battle that has more stops and starts than I care to record. One day I'll take a picture of me at work doing this... tongue bitting and all!

Next I was cutting up squares to try my hand at creating a quilted patchwork table runner (intended to look less down home country and more modern kitsch... at least that's my vision).




Overall it was a great day. I needed the crafting time. It'd been too long. I was feeling like this blog was getting a bit dull and overrun with blah nothingness because I was feeling less than inspired to write lately. Spending the day crafting has made me feel more creative and energetic again.

It's funny, I spent years in academia, minimizing any and all creativity as I focused on analyzing other's creativity (aka writing a thesis about sonnets from India) and I never realized how soul withering it was to live without creativity until I brought it back into my life. My soul needs a creative outlet and for me, that tends to be through crafts. I don't draw, my music skills are limited, and writing, as much as I enjoy it, isn't quite it for me. (Though I really enjoy blogging, probably even more than trying to write creatively).

Anyways, I've been thinking a lot lately about what I want to do in my life in terms of spare time now that my life isn't consumed with working too many jobs or planning a wedding and the resounding answer for me is to develop my creative outlets. I think about going back to teaching a night course and as much as I enjoy teaching, the very thought of working 2 jobs again fills me with exhaustion. Student loans be damned, I'm not doing it again! I've thought about going back and doing a Master's in Education, but I don't think that I'm ready to commit to another master's program just yet. When I think about hitting the books again, I'm both excited (cause I'm a big nerd who likes to learn) but writing essays and having homework... blech. The only kind of courses that really appeal to me are things like photography, knitting, or sewing. So I think that for now, that's just where I'm at and I need to embrace it.

At this point in my life it's time to feed my creative soul.

google, cameras, and privacy invasion

When google maps has gone too far:



Photo captured from google maps. Did you know that you can now drag an icon on a location, zoom in, and see the house in question? When we do this to our condo (cause the image above is a random selection from a street I lived on 9 years ago) the picture was from spring but you could actually see into our house. Yes, from the plants in the windows to what was on our kitchen table. What made me all the more uncomfortable was that if it zoomed in more, you could probably tell that no one was home and what we have in our living room to steal. Seriously, what satellites are out there for them to get these images and how much of our private lives are being invaded by said cameras?

I'm not a big conspiracy theorist (I'm entertained by the ideas but not seriously that concerned by them) but this new awareness of how much google shows has given me pause. Why are cameras able to see so much into our homes? It's one thing to zoom into a highway for traffic info, but quite another to capture images, even if they are 6 months old, that show details of our private lives.

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