Wednesday, April 28, 2010

photography: white balance

The other day I was playing with my camera, adjusting the white balance feature and was amused by how different a simple feature could make my picture appear:
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The biggest irony of all? Not one of these photos actually captures the real colour of my walls!

Edit: For the curious, the colour is more like this:


Monday, April 26, 2010

how the cat adjusts to her new home

 

Taking a few minutes from the front lines (aka unpacking) to update

 

We’ve finished the move and are now settling into our new digs. Mayla, my ever camera loving, attention suck of a cat, is of course also settling in and testing out all of the new nooks and crannies:

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ps, I in no way endorse allowing your cat to sleep in garbage bags… once the cute photo op was finished, the cat was promptly ushered (gently of course, no animal abuse here) out of the bag and said bag removed from access!

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Testing out Paul’s new papasan bowl chair and finding it good….

 

And now back to the boxes…

Friday, April 23, 2010

card making, take 2

 More cardmaking goodness. This time in blues and greens. Hey, I need a "male" birthday card soon...

So there are elements that I like on some cards better than others... In the first card, top left, I should have left the card without the final sparkle layer. It's un peu de trop... Overall I'm happy with the card with the giftboxes and it'll likely be the one that I give with his gift.

The other 2 are ok, but I definitely like the circles more than the squares. It's the 2nd time I tried doing layered squares, the first failing abysmally, but I like the sparkle gem flourish on the squares. I wanted to added it to the circles but since it won't fit, it's not an option...

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Monday, April 19, 2010

paper and paint

 

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For years I have been immersed in the world of words.  My bookworm soul dominated my being with its love of literature and took over my life to such an extent that I forgot that I once upon a time, I was a lover of all arts. Don’t get me wrong, I love books and always will. One day, I would like to see my name in print, author of the novels that are floating about in my cranium. But the thing is, life in academia had taken over my entire world—I work in education, I read all of the time, I love theory (hello, just call me a theory junkie), and think that there are few nobler professions than education (don’t give me any of that “those who can’t, teach” b.s.). But academia took over my world to the point that I felt dull and tired, uninspired and without anything new to offer. For all that theory and ideas, books and art inspire me to think up new ideas, plan new activities, or dream bigger dreams; they don’t lead me to action. So despite all of my great learning and ideas, I feel like I lost my spark somewhere in the midst of my beloved bookshelves.

 

IMG_2757 Here’s the thing: I only recently came to a rather profound self-realization. I need creativity in my life, every day, in whatever way.  I need to create, whether it’s bad or good, in order to feel fulfilled, in order to feel capable of realizing my dreams and better self.  Oh sure, I knew that I needed balance before and all that, but I didn’t realize to what extent my lack of creativity was stifling my entire being until I fully re-immersed myself into the world of being crafty.
  
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So my newfound love of scrapbooking is spilling over into other areas of my life… Now I’m trying art journaling too.

It’s fun! I like it. Of course, I’m no artist (in that I can’t really draw or at least, it’s not a skill I’ve maintained or developed… I used to be able to draw as a kid – so maybe the skill is in there somewhere… latent but there…).

 

Anyways, what this all boils down to is that if lately you’ve noticed that I’m not around much I’m either packing (we move this Saturday) or playing with paper and paint!

spiritual rehab

Currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert's new book Committed and as I read it I inevitably think about my own marriage process. The ultimate conclusion I've made so far, keeping in mind that the Pope is an ass and now blaming homosexuals for pedophilia in the church, is that I resented the process.

Yup, I resented planning my wedding. I resented having to accommodate anyone's wishes other than mine or my partner's. It drove me batty, made me miserable, and filled me with anger throughout the entire process.
It was exhausting and I hated having to take so many other people's opinions into consideration. Maybe that only reveals how willful and selfish I am, but so be it. In as much as I loved planning an event and all the decor elements, I did not deal well with having my choices dictated to me out of consideration for others.

All that aside though, what I am really contemplating right now is what my unwillingness to consider others when it comes to decision making really reveals about me and by extension, my culture. I was raised to believe in individualism, and my sense of self makes me completely resistant to wanting to compromise on the BIG things. I want to act with integrity and stick to my ideals and values, but those values are my own, not ones that are proscribed by another group. So what happens when the twain shall never meet?

The answer at the moment? Spiritual burnout. Yup, that's right. At this moment in time, I feel the need to emerse myself in a world entirely of my own making, surrounded by like-minded people because honestly, I don't know how much longer I can take a world full of conservative values and rationalized belief systems that turn a blind eye to all the flaws inherent within the system. Because I just don't know how we got to a place that is so far from where we want to be. And I want to be in a place with people who feel the same way, and who are striving to make a change, instead of just complaining about it. So where oh where do you find such a place? Cause I'd really like to know...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

ladybug cards

I admit it, I have a card making problem…

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But ladybugs! How can I resist? I love the ladybugs. To some extent I’m still struggling to know when to accept that less is more and let the card be instead of adding another element. For example, I’m still debating whether or not I should add the black lining (like in card 3) into card 1 or not. For now I’m leaving it alone but who knows what will strike my fancy in a little while…

Anyways… don’t you just love the ladybugs? Next up? Maybe some owls!!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

card making

Recently I've embraced the world of paper crafts and I'm all over it these days (much to my husband's chagrin... we're moving and my current office/creative space is the dining room table...).

 So if your birthday is coming up... expect to see one of my latest creations coming with a gift for you...

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This one is one that I made for a scrapbook challenge using a yellow and pink colour combo. It was actually a good prompt because I don't think I would naturally have chosen this particular colour combo on my own.

I used 4 different papers (2 pink, 2 yellow), added fake pearl beads, and outlined the circles with a black pen.

When I first looked at it, I wasn't sure, but after adding the final touch, the sticker with the birthday greeting, I'm fairly pleased with the end result.

The one problem... the next birthday in the family is my brother in law... somehow I think that pink and yellow might not be his thing. Maybe I should give it to him and tell him that I'm intent on subverting gender colour stereotypes? What do you think? Will he buy it?

In the meantime, here's another recent card creation, still in the more feminine genre...


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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Trying to make sense out of organic, fair trade, local, and environmental purchases

If you’re anything like me, you tend to find yourself in knots over the conflicting information out there about shopping green…

I mean, various reports tell me that if I have to buy non-organic fruits and veggies, I should go for non-organic bananas and organic apples because bananas contain fewer pesticides than apples. But anyone who knows anything about banana production knows that buying non-organic bananas is a death sentence for the plantation workers. Besides, Quebec has a booming apple industry and given the facts that the 100 mile diet  is the most sustainable and that I’m supposed to support local agriculture, shouldn’t I buy the Quebec apples instead of the organic American ones? And what about the fact that non-organic produce sometimes tastes better but often there is no noticeable difference? Ack! Too many questions.

I know, I know: local, organic, and fair trade is best!

But what about green-washing?

Oy Vey, I’m exhausted already!

And don’t forget make-up:

I buy Lavera, Dr Hauschka, and Weleda skin/cosmetic products. According to SkinDeep these choices, albeit from organic, sustainable companies, are still fairly toxic. This caused me a certain amount of consternation… I mean, was the answer really to go back to back to companies like Neutrogena, with its low toxicity score (Neutrogena doesn’t test its final product on animals but says nothing about base ingredients or paid research by other companies) but is a member of the less that consumer friendly/ethical Johnson and Johnson corporation, which tests on animals and has a bad track record?

Here’s the thing that I’m trying to get at… every choice you make has a counter choice and effect. At the end of the day, the exhausting process of researching your purchases can be overwhelming so we need to find a happy medium.

So while the make-up I buy doesn’t have a perfect score, it uses sustainable business practices and certified organic ingredients. And the bananas are organic as often as possible and the apples are always local (preferably organic too but not always). And peaches, well from now on in I will no longer buy peaches that aren’t organic for the sheer fact that non-organic peaches SUCK!

Monday, April 12, 2010

in search of creative, crafty culture…

 

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Lately, I have to admit, that I’ve been feeling somewhat distant from my good friends. There’s no one particular reason for this, nothing has happened to cause this distance, but I feel it nonetheless.

 

I love my friends. I do. I’ve been blessed in life to have several amazing ladies in my life, new and old, who have traveled down my various paths with me. But right now I sort of feel like I’m on the path alone. That most of my friends and I are in very different places.

 

I don’t have children, nor am I single. We’re not ready for children and I don’t fit into the baby club. I have a career and am no longer a student, I’m not really interested in clubbing anymore, nor do I want to watch my friends pick up (not that I ever did really, to be honest… though I loved dancing). But the point is, I’m not looking for love or validation or a one night stand.  Most of the time I would rather stay home and do crafts or have a small dinner party with drinks and board games. I have Nia 2x a week and would like to get back into yoga. I’m enjoying living a life that nurtures me and my awakening creativity.

 

And that’s the crux of it really. Because I don’t feel like I’m looking for all those other things anymore (work, love, home, etc), I feel like my focus has started to turn inwards and that I’m once again working on the things that I always wanted in life: creativity, spirituality, balance. And as much as I love my friends, I’m starting to realize that most of them aren’t currently searching for those things…. not that they don’t care about those things, but that they are busy working on other things. So I don’t feel like I have much to say anymore because on the surface I suspect my life looks pretty mundane and boring but yet, I feel like I’m rediscovering the artist within me. And I love that feeling. I love who and what it is revealing about me.

 

So when I talk to my friends, well I fill the space with the various updates, I’m fine, Paul’s fine, my brother is fine. Or vents, I’m not sure if my job is long term, Paul’s family (in-laws), my brother still isn’t working…  But the thing is, at the end of the day, all of the surface things that are happening aren’t really what I want to be talking about.

 

I want to talk about what it means to be creating a book of memories, journaling a history for that child I may have one day in the not so distant future, what new skills I’m learning, what I want to do with them and the visions I have for my new craft room and home, how can I take art journaling off the page and bring it into my home and can I build something more out of it? Do I need to take art and sell it or can I find a balance between creating and storing/using said items? I want to think about artistic retreats and down time to write out a draft of the story(ies) in my head. I want to talk about how Nia started out as exercise but is slowly transforming into something more.

 

But those aren’t really stories I can share with my nearest and dearest because they’re not the stories they are interested in right now. Oh, they’d listen, but they wouldn’t really have anything to offer back and what I’m craving most right now is a dialogue about those things, not partying or poop….

Thursday, April 8, 2010

am i too selfish to be a mom?

I’m 33. And let’s face it; the maternal clock has started ticking. Over the past couple of years, my husband and I have been weighing in on the issue of parenthood , debating whether or not it’s really something we want for ourselves in life. One week it’ll be a yes, another a no. [Ok, for my husband the time line pendulum is more like month to month, whereas for me it’s more like week to week]. As more and more people around me start having babies, I’m constantly confronted by the fact that I still don’t know if I really want to make all the necessary sacrifices needed in order to be a mother.

Perhaps I should have embraced motherhood when I was younger, less set in my ways, and more ignorant of just how much motherhood would demand of me. Because now that I'm really aware of the commitment, it is very daunting! But alas, I didn't follow that route. Having grown up with foster kids and seeing first hand some of the challenges that families face when there's not enough money, maturity, (or other reasons), it was more important for me to be at a place where I was ready to be a mother than anything else. Yes, I know that no one is ever really ready - but I wanted to be in a place where I was a ready as possible before bringing a kid into this world. And I still stand by that decision because as a child of a single mother (though she remarried) and as a member of a family who fostered other people’s kids, I know firsthand that just because you want to and can be a mother doesn’t necessarily mean you should be.

The thing is, although I was definitely selfish when I was younger; I expect that in some ways I’m actually even more selfish now. I have a certain standard of living that I want to maintain. At the moment I have the luxurious ability to travel, shop, or just spend the day thinking only of myself. Motherhood would change all of that and I don’t know that I’m all that up for that change. Don’t get me wrong, I know that parenthood comes with its own set of joys and rewards, but when I think of how hard it’ll be to travel, or how limited my free time will be… yeah… I won’t lie, it gives me pause. Then there's the angst of bringing a life into such a messed up world. I mean... will my children grow up to see a time when there's not enough water or energy? Or worse? You know? It gives me pause...

Added to that is the fact that my 20 year brother recently moved in with us and it’s been an eye opening experience to realize how difficult it is to negotiate the line between sitting back and giving him the space to make his own decisions/mistakes/learning experiences and be there to support him. On top of that, I’ve been negotiating the strange divide between needing to have things my way and learning to stand back and accept that sometimes I need to put him and his needs first. And I’m not always so gracious about doing that. Really… it’s not an easy thing for me to do.

So while I know that I’m sort of walking into a quasi parenthood situation with a full grown person and the issues are different… the tail end experience of quasi parenting has made me realize that I’m not so sure that I’m up to the challenge of caring so much and yet having to trust enough to let go. It’s made me wonder if I’m actually capable of putting someone else first, all of the time.

I suppose that one could argue that raising a child from infancy would bring about an entirely different perspective on the issue… but I’m not so sure. I mean… I want to take my Nia courses 2x a week, read my book when I feel like it, and spend the day out with girlfriends, and having a child would mean sacrificing a lot of that… Would it be worth it? Someone once told me that that motherhood was the single greatest thing she’s done in her life [in spite of the fact that she knows that her kids aren’t always happy with the way they were raised] and that being a mother teaches us to be less selfish. I don’t disagree with that and understand how being less selfish is a difficult lesson worth learning, but would I be able to maintain my sense of self in the face of so many sacrifices for a child?

Because even though everyone says they won’t only talk about their kids, they inevitably do. From dirty diapers at the dinner table to playground issues at school… my parent friends’ lives have become subsumed by the details of their children’s lives. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But is it for me?

On the other hand, to be fair, I read about all these new mom bloggers who are doing amazing things during the early stages of motherhood and I'm awed by their ability to pull it all off (publishing graphic novels, building an online empire, marketing for an online company, copy-writing from home, etc, etc..). How do these women find the time? And will I be able to be one of those women, you know, the ones that roll with motherhood but let motherhood only be a part of who they are and not all of who they are? Because that, well that is something that I really aspire to achieve.

All that to say... the jury is still out even though the pendulum is currently shifted in favour of labour.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

starting a wedding scrapbook

 

My mother-in-law seems to have really liked the gift. Apparently now she knows that I love her. She wasn’t sure because I didn’t call for her birthday (I thought Paul calling would be enough but it apparently isn’t). Suffice to say, I must care if I spent the past month working on this project!

 

So now, I go back to the land of 12x12 in order to create a wedding scrapbook for Paul and I.

 

Here’s the book’s first page:

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We had an Asian inspired wedding, so when I found this page, I thought it was perfect. I decided to keep the elements on the page simple in order to really let the paper speak for itself.

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I only added the image, text, and swirly border stuff, which still distracts from the page but less so than it does in these pics. I had to use flash to get the colours right but that meant that the light bounces off everything BUT the fabric border!

Save the Date page:

 

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For some reason, gold seems to be the dominant colour that I keep playing with. Not sure but I figure it’s sort of Asian inspired, so I’m just going to go with it.

 

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Getting Engaged:

 

I wanted to try creating a page that told a visual history of us prior to getting engaged, so the pics should all be couple pics that are from before or just around the time we got engaged. Other people’s weddings, new york, bc, cuba… and then the largest image from just after we shared the news!

 

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Paul should thankful that I only said we got engaged in front of Grandma’s… cause his proposal, though in keeping with us, is not the most romantic of tales… more a comedy of errors really. But we like to laugh, so it’s fitting!

 

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So those are my latest adventures in scrapbooking….

 

I’ve been reading about a more journal based scrapbooking, and I think that once I’m finished this album, I may have to give it a gander! (Ha, I just wanted to write gander!)

 

Friday, April 2, 2010

scrapbooking a family album

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I’m currently working on a birthday present for my mother-in-law.

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She’s always saying that she needs to organize her photos and put them into an album

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So I’ve decided that this year I’m going to do the work for her. It’s been fun, because I didn’t know anything about scrapbooking when I started. And to be honest, learning about scrapbooking can be pretty daunting…

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Hopefully she’ll like all my various efforts to compile a book of family mementos. It’s a bit of a challenge to remember that I’m making this for her, not me, thus the photos I chose need to be more sentimental in nature than humorous (which is totally the type of pictures I’d keep… ok I’d keep some normal sentimental pics too… but you know what I mean, right?).

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Hopefully she’ll appreciate the fact that she’s surrounded by men in her life that are tricksters and that the photos reflect her reality (see above, below…)

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So this is where I’m at in the project. I have a few more pages to go (our wedding, pics of my brother/sister in laws dogs (they’re in a calendar this year) and a couple of other events from the year. I’m not in many/any of the photos so far and I know that this is something of a challenge that scrapbookers write about when you’re the photographer and that it’s important to remember to include yourself in the album… so I figure that the wedding pics and a few others will have to cover it.

I definitely think that some pages worked out more than others, but that’s been part of the learning experience. Switching from playing with digital scrapbooking to traditional scrapbooking has been an interesting exercise as well. Digital is more techie and more polished (which appeals to my desire for smooth edges/borders, etc) but traditional is more fun and creative for me in some ways… maybe it’s because it feels like I’m 5 again and playing with paper and glue? As I get better, I imagine that the things that bother me about the imperfections of traditional scrapbooking will lessen (you know, with the improvement of my skills). Besides, all of the pages you see above are 8x8, which, I’m learning is a bit of a challenge because it doesn’t really give you much room to work with in terms of layering/embellishing the page and balancing the photos.

At the end of the day… yay for paper and glue… so much fun! I really enjoy the process of learning to balance story-telling with images in a way that can be passed on to future generations! It appeals to the history buff in me and makes me want to learn all about my family histories so that I can create a record for posterity.

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