Friday, January 28, 2011

fĂȘter l’hiver!

A few facts about me before I launch into what I am SO excited about at the moment!

  • I was a student of the BC French Immersion Program.
  • Most of my teachers (not all) were Quebecois
  • They always (at least in Elementary School) talked about le Carnaval du Quebec
  • We often had a school mock carnaval when we were young, as a way to learn about Quebec history, culture, and events.
  • So I have been hearing about this Carnaval, which most Quebecois (or at least Montrealers) people seem to be indifferent to, since I was 6.

And now…. I am FINALLY, after 10 years in this province, going to see it for myself. And I’m excited. Super duper excited. Like Christmas morning excited. I get to see people doing crazy competitions on the St Laurent river, le Bonhomme with his habitant scarf, an ice castle and snow carving/ice sculptors, and so much more.

My camera is going to be in overdrive tomorrow.

Palais de glace

Pictures from the Carnaval website from the 2010 event. Aren’t you excited for me already?

Sculpture sur neige

Course en canot

I’m so glad that my cold is gone now. I can bundle up in my winter finery and enjoy the winter festival! I’ll be sure to post pictures just as soon as I can!

Vive l’hiver!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

origami bookmark notebook

In the summer, I attended a book binding course at SQUAM (I think they actually spell it sqam, but whatever), and I’ve been meaning to put those skills to use ever since. Here’s my first attempt to infuse my simple book binding skills with some origami art:


The pictures are really stylized, but the booklet is about 4x6, with about 30 pages and the binding string doubles as a butterfly origami bookmark.


This particular bookmark has a small clear swarovski crystal but I think I will use a smaller bead in the next models because the bead is a bit clunky in the book and will probably damage the pages over time.


As you can see in the close ups, the butterflies aren’t perfect (this is my mock up for me) but will be when I make “official” ones for the shop. My goal here was really to get the logistics of the ribbon down in order to see how the bookmark will hang in the book.

Things to change:

  • bead needs to be smaller
  • butterflies need to match up better
  • stitching needs to be higher in order for the bookmark to hang better (cleaner)… that seems wrong to write, but I know what I mean… so yeah…

35 by 35 goal status: in progress!

Monday, January 24, 2011

35 by 35 update

Learn to cook 3 Ethiopian dishes.  1 down, 2 to go!
On Saturday we had guests over for dinner. Feeling adventurous, I tried out this recipe from Post Punk Kitchen: Ethiopian Spicy Tomato Lentil Stew.
imageI looked over the ingredient list and realized that yes, yes I did indeed have all of the spices required for this dish. That trip hunting for fenugreek all over the city paid off (hint, if you’re looking for fenugreek, try an Indian or Middle Eastern market cause it’s highly unlikely that a big box grocery store will carry it).
So we made it. And at one point the jar my husband was combining the spices in was rather comical in size. Seriously… all the spices added up to easily over 1/2 cup of spice in the stew.
I realize this isn’t the best picture of the stew, but it’s what I got!
But it was delicious. Yum. Even my husband, who is not a big fan of all things spicy (though he’s getting better) really enjoyed it.
We had other things with it, but honestly, on it’s own with some bread, it’s a great comfort meal. You should try it!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

project 365 — days {13, 14, 15, 16}

A sample of my life over the past 4 days….

day {13}


My cat, annoyed with being the star of yet another daily photograph, shoots me the evil eye!

day {14}


Paw prints in the snow. Mayla, the wonder cat see above, hates the snow. In fact, when we let her out, she will go out of her way to avoid touching the snow. And when she enters the house, she spends a few moments shaking said snow off her paws, licking them clean, and then going to her food bowl. It’s her ritual and it’s extremely funny, if a bit annoying! (mostly because she meows to get out only to want back in right away, comes in, and wants to go back out again in 5 minutes).

day {15}


I’ve been sick. Which means that I’ve spent a lot of time with my favourite owl mug in hand. Filled with chai tea. I’ve drank so much chai tea lately I actually had to go out and buy more milk just so that I could have more. So sad… :(

day {16}


Again with the sick… and liquids. My world has shrunk down to quality cat time and liquids. So very, very sad… and extremely uninteresting!

Monday, January 17, 2011

sick day — project 365 {12}


This is what my day is going to look like today. Feet up, hot tea (yummy chai!), and maybe some candles for some soothing ambience.

I should be at work. I should be immersed in the hoards of returning college students. I should be. But I’m not because I’ve been nursing the same bloody cold since just after Christmas (and I’m not talking about Orthodox Ukrainian Christmas here). This morning I woke up with a bark that would put a dog to shame. Sad smile 

So I think it’s time that I officially concede defeat and start popping the meds. Up until now I’ve avoided the cough medicines, the nasal decongestants, & various other drugs. But enough is enough. Cold, you win. I’m done and now it’s time to take a sick day in order to wage a full scale attack!

I’m off to the pharmacy. See you on the other side!

Friday, January 14, 2011

it gets better?

Food for thought:

I have mixed feelings about this video. Overall I think the message is positive and the tune fairly catchy and current in terms of musical styles.


What about the individuals who don’t embody the stereotypical roles she has portrayed as being representative? Ok, maybe I’m making something out nothing and I should just appreciate the larger message without nitpicking the details.

My other concern is that yes, while it does get better, for all of us out there after high school… is getting better enough now? Yes, it’s important to give hope and remind people that high school in general is just shitty but not if it means the we shrug our shoulders at what is happening now and let it go in hopes of a better tomorrow.

But… like I said, I like the video and think that the message in general is important & is one that’s close to my heart. And regardless of what your individual beliefs are, at the end of the day, everyone has the right to be treated with dignity & respect.

just a test

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

evolution of a photo — shallow depth of field - project 365 {8}

At the moment I’m working on 2 projects: sorting through/editing my huge file of photos and on learning shallow depth of field and thought I’d share one of my experiments with you:

The original photo


Shallow depth of field (S-DOF) focuses in on the item closest to the camera and leaves the background soft and blurry. You can achieve this through setting your aperture opening to a higher setting, which causes the shutter to open and close quickly. I’m not sure, but I also believe it means that less light gets into the frame (which might explain why my normally blue wall looks cream in these photos!).

You can see (at the very front, bottom) the stand that the Buddha head was on, so the first thing I needed to do was crop the image.


First edit: Cropping. I tried to keep the Rule of Thirds in mind when taking the photo, so I didn’t have a lot of room to crop the photo without losing the intended placement of the objects.

Next up, softening the colours to enhance the soft dreamy look I was trying to get:

buddha3 saturation

Obviously this is probably the most pronounced alteration to the photo and changes the photo’s mood rather drastically. Part of me is still torn between the vibrant colours and the soft gold glow.

But soft glow won out:

buddha4 fill light

This is a minor change but I added a bit of fill light to give it a softer feel

And then, finally:

buddha5 color temperature

Altering the color temperature in order to regain the blue backdrop!

Ok, it wasn’t really only for the blue backdrop! I’m working on trying to recreate that 70s washed out dreamy photo look that I see so often.

What do you think? Any suggestions? Alterations?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

35 by 35 - project 365 {7}


So today I turn 34! I can hardly believe it. Honestly. How the hell did that happen?
I remember, a long time ago my mom saying at the ripe old age of 40, that she still felt like a 17 year old. And it was a life altering moment for me to realize that my mom felt so young and vulnerable despite her “old age!”
As I approach my mid 30s (cause at 34 I can still round down!), I find myself thinking about this moment a lot because on some level I still feel much younger than my years (not that I’m particularly old, unless you ask someone who is quite young!).  I might not feel 17 anymore. But 26, sure. Hell, let’s be honest, some days I still feel 7!
The last years of my life have been rich and full of blessings. They’ve also been hard and full of transition. I grew apart from one of my best friends, I got married, I became a quasi “mother” for my baby brother, started building a crafty business, amongst many other things..
While I’ve accomplished so many things that I set out to do in my life, there are still many more things that I hope to do in the near future. With that in mind, I’ve given myself a new goal:

35 things to do before my 35th birthday (Jan 12, 2012)

1. Complete the One Little Word project
2. Learn how to use Photoshop Elements
3. Get better at shallow Depth of Field photography
4. Sort through my digital photos & edit/store them better (at least those up to Jan 2011)
5. Learn to bake bread
6. Make my own incense
7. Learn 5 new origami folds for my ornaments
8. Learn how to make 3 new origami card products
9. Expand my etsy shop
10. Build a crafty partnership with a friend
11. Watch my middle brother get married
12. Travel to Sweden to visit with my lovely exchange student sister, Camilla (because it’s LONG overdue that I visit her)
13. Nurture creativity in my artsy-crafty friends (this is sort of unmeasurable, I know, but I mean just to keep encouraging them and bolstering by being attentive and support of their creative leaps of faith).
14. Get back into shape (work on knee injury and return to Nia or Yoga)
15. Make my own soap for 2012 (meaning make enough, cure it, and have enough of it ready for 2012)
16. Work on art journaling (try to create 1 art journal page/week)
17. Make my own organic vanilla extract from organic vanilla beans and organic vodka
18. Discover 12 new musicians I love (1 a month?)—I’m open to suggestions here people!
19. Read 12 non post colonial literary novels! No pulp. Nothing about India. (Ok, I can read those too, but they are above and beyond the 12 non po-co novels)
20. Read the news at least once a week. It’s shameful that I don’t and I can’t let my irritation of current affairs continue to be an excuse for wilful ignorance!
21. Visit the Montreal art museums as least 3 times in the upcoming year
22. See at least 5 live shows (small, big, music, comedy, theatre… doesn’t matter)
23. Drag my butt out to at least 1 Moth inspired Montreal storytelling slam!
24. Go on 1 shopping trip to the states for fabric. Yes, you read that right!
25. Buy & learn a new tarot deck
26. Finish our wedding scrapbook Sad smile
27. Learn how to make my own veggie Vietnamese spring rolls and peanut sauce
28. List all the table linens Viv and I made in my etsy shop
29. Do something special to celebrate 5 years with my partner
30. Read Anna Karenina
31. Learn to cook 3 Indian & 3 2 Ethiopian dishes: 1=Ethiopian Spicy Tomato Lentil Stew
32. Finish painting my very first large painting/canvas
33. Learn how to paint with a palette knife
34. Go cross country skiing
35. Remember to make more time for my husband, my marriage, and enjoying the every day moments of our life together

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

project 365 {6}

Ok, so I’m thinking that you’re all going to get sick of my kazillion photos, every day!  And on top of which, I don’t always have time to post every day. So I think that I might just do a weekly recap? What do you think?


I’m currently revamping my craft room at the moment (prompted by an Ikea trip with a friend on Sat). I’m excited, but a little overwhelmed by the mess I created to build my new desk space.

Oh, and I heard this recently on my iPhone during my daily commute and just had to share. Seriously. I. LOVE. THIS. SONG!

Currently on my iPhone, making my morning commute brighter!

Monday, January 10, 2011

one little word: nurture

january intro photo
So as you can probably tell, I’m on a scrapbooking binge at the moment and I’m currently hard at work on my January edition of my One Little Word album.
I chose the word nurture
I had to create a cover page as a pre-class project (which is the smaller page you see in the front). The course suggests using pink paislee sheets, but since I can’t find them locally and don’t want to pay a fortune in shipping, I’m making my own from old teaching folders. I’m sewing them and altering them to fit my project. I have 4x6 photo paper, so my cover page is only slightly larger than that.
So, because I love Indian motifs, I decided to use it as my inspiration on my January page.
This is my January page, but I think I’ll change some of the cards out because I’m not crazy about all of them.
Here are the January pages:
I took my picture standing in our bedroom and was surprised by how great the red wall worked as a backdrop. (Though I had to crop out the laundry basket, my jewelry and my make-up on the dresser)!
So that’s it for this month. See you again next month!

project 365 {5}


From my office. I love this photo. It’s so calm! Students always notice it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

project 365 {4}

january intro photo

Always one to take on way too many projects at once (will I ever learn?), I signed up for Ali Edwards’ One Little Word project for the year.

The idea behind it is to pick one word as your “theme” for the year. Forget new year’s resolutions. This is about making one word your mantra for the year in order to bring that word/idea/theme into your world for that year.

I love the idea and thought that it seemed like a manageable form of scrapbooking/documenting a goal for 2011.

The above picture is my intro picture for the album!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

project 365 {3}



cherry blossom lights


one of the joys of winter: snow

ok, today I have 2 pictures because I took 2 today and I liked them equally!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

project 365 {2}

Morning meditation, originally uploaded by Lotus Tree Crafts.
Little known fact about yours truly, since September I have meditating on an almost daily basis. There have been highs and lows in the process, (I thought I'd be more Zen by now, but alas, no). Anyways, all in all, I'm happy that this practics is something that I've brought into my life.

I never thought that I'd be able to be consistent in a meditation practice. In my life, I have a tendancy of hitting the 3 month mark and then slowly petering out. This is true of the gym, yoga, biking, prior meditation practice, and well, just about every other good intention out there that I've had!

I won't lie, there have been times where my meditation practice has fallen to the wayside (Christmas morning, New Year's day, stomach flu, or even, when I was really into a book I was reading...). But that said, all in all, I've meditated at least 3/4s of all those days between Sept and now. And for me, that's a big, no huge, accomplishment.

So today, in my year of photos, I felt the need to honour that accomplishment and share it with you all. One of the big differences this time around is that I went into my daily meditation practice knowing this about myself and accepting it to be the case, AND that I have a form of accountability in my practice, people I check in with and help me keep on track.

I may not be more Zen yet, but my daily meditations are reshaping my world, slowly but surely!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

project 365 days in photos {1}

Ok, so I’ve always been intrigued but daunted by the idea of 365 days of photos. I mean, it’s awesome but huge. Right?

But I think I’m going to give it a go. I might not get around to posting them all. Hell, I might not take them all (and that’s ok, I give myself permission to miss days – hell I’m already missing 4 days!) but I’m going to try to use my new Instagram ap to document pieces of my day

So bear with me, as I’m sure that the initial flurry of photo taking might be a bit overwhelming at times!

Without further ado, the view from my office window today:

winter office view

I’m lucky, I have a pretty sweet view out my window. I just need to remember to look outside and appreciate it a little more often!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

starting 2011 with a bang

January 1st, 2011 = me + stomach flu. Blech!

Why is it when others get the stomach flu, it only lasts 24 hours, whereas when I do, it last 4 days? Seriously? [insert self-indulgent whiny voice here].

The upside? That FINALLY I am able to eat again, and boy was I starving when my appetite returned. In fact, I can’t seem to stop eating.

So much for any dietary resolutions that I never really made but actually thought a good deal about, going down the drain!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

a new holiday tradition: the christmas album

Inspired by this post from Elise, I’ve decided to start a new Casar-Grant family tradition.

Of course, the idea of a holiday scrapbook isn’t a novel idea, but I loved the simplicity and continuity of this tradition.

So Paul and I bought an album and I added a little bit of holiday cheer (stamp) to it (because like I said, I was attracted to the simplicity of this version of the project):


Of course, in keeping with it being a record of our life together as a family of our own, I had to back track a year (cause I decided one year, since we married, was simpler than going back 4 years…. I am a little too lazy for that!)

So here is the first of our 2009 memories, here in Montreal, with Paul’s family:


And the second page, in BC, with my family (by the way, I took these pictures with my iPhone so the quality isn’t great but that’s ok since the blurriness sort of helps preserve a bit of confidentiality for my family…. a bit):


Here is the first of 2010: Christmas Eve with our nephews:


Aren’t my nephews just so adorable? Seriously! I love the age they are at right now, they are so fun and precocious and full of life! If you peek closely you’ll notice that my older nephew (on the bottom right) is wearing the Cars scarf I made for him.

Page 2 of 2010, Christmas Day:


It’s really sunny out today, so please excuse the photo glare!

Like I said, I liked the idea because it was simple. Clean pages, not too much work, and creates a history. The only thing I’m going to add is a separate page of just Paul and I (cause as a photographer I tend not to be in the book), which will have space for us to write down our memories of the season! A he said/she said sort of page. So 3 pages total, every year, for ….. a long time….


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