15 May 2012

forest exploration with the pup

Today started out with a little bit of relaxing! A nice mug of tea, some couch knitting, and watching Bend It Like Beckham (for about the 100th time). Will was getting ready for work, and is there now, so of course, I'm a bit bored. Its weird not having him here just to spout out random thoughts. I guess because of that, the blog doesn't suffer! Now YOU (yes you!) get to read my random thoughts instead of him hearing them. I guess thats okay!

Well I was considering going out to Starbucks today just for a nice latte and some one-on-one time with a letter that I've been meaning to write but just not gotten around to yet (oops)... its still not done, of course, but thats alright! I decided not to head that way since I've been spending a little bit too much time there lately and not getting stuff done that I should be. So, I sat down and finished this knitting project that I was working on. Its a shawl that I knit for a friend on Ravelry (a knitting website, for those who don't know). The kerchief is for her son, and it is knit out of yarn that she spun from the fiber provided by her very own sheep! Neat, huh?

After finishing the kerchief, I WAS PUMPED! I've been working on that on and off since October (mostly off...), and to have it finished is just amazing, finally! So I decided to take Tenzing out for a walk. He loves walking through the forest behind our apartment, so off we went!

By the end of the walk, both he and I needed water. I didn't mean to be out so long, otherwise I would have brought some for us both. It was a really nice walk though. I got some sun, and he got to explore which is one of his favourite things to do, besides eating and sleeping. He's such a funny dog, he LOVES running through the grass when we bring him to a local park and let him run around off-leash. He is good and he comes when we call him, but when we're walking on the pathway, he mostly just sticks to the pavement. He even prefers the road most of the time as opposed to grass on the side of the road. He's a weird one, but I guess that just means he fits in better with our family!

I don't really have much else to write about right now. I am going to get dinner ready shortly and work on the letter I've been ignoring all day, as well as more knitting. I'll leave you with one more pretty picture from our walk:

29 April 2012

Resurrected!

Why hello there! I bet you thought you'd lost me for good. Well, thats definitely not the case. I don't know what my issue is with blogging. Maybe its a combination of things, but I think in my head I made too many blogging "goals" for myself, and then felt stressed because it was just one more deadline to meet. When I am faced with silly things like deadlines, I tend to not enjoy what it is that I'm meant to be doing in that time frame. I especially get that way with knitting deadlines. Yeah, who knew there were such things except other knitters? Well, most people reading this are knitters, I guess. So, nevermind.

Anyway, I'm back! At least, I'm going to try to be. I'm not going to have a theme or anything though, I'm just going to play around with my blog and write about things that make me happy, because, well, that will make me happy! And if that brings a little bit of joy to my day, maybe it will bring some joy to others as well. And if it doesn't, well, they don't have to read my blog!

Today was quite a good day for me. Its crisp and chilly but the sun is still shining. Both Will and I had the day off of work. Oh yes, for those who don't know since I haven't written in a long while, Will's permanent residency has been approved AND he now has a job. He is a barista a barista at Starbucks and he is amazing at it! He just has that type of happy infectious personality that someone wanting/needing coffee would want. He can add a smile or a little humour to someone's day, and he's just good at it. He loooooves it. And hey, its better than sitting around home bored I guess, right? I have only seen him at work once (while he was working, I mean), and he really does just bring joy to so many people. I love that man!

Anyhow, Will and I both had the day off, so we decided to try out this cute little restaurant we'd never been to called The Bag Lady. Its actually just down the street from my work, and I'd heard good things about it, but never been. It is the cutest place in the history of all cute places! I want to go there every day! We had amazing food, and sat on the patio, too! It was a bit chilly but we had an adorable pot of tea to keep warm. I even knitted for a bit! So, if you're in the area, check it out!

I've also been keeping up on mail lately. Or rather, trying to. Things had been a little hectic at the end of last year, and I just sort of shut down on pretty much everything. I didn't enjoy knitting, I didn't enjoy writing, I didn't enjoy anything! I was stressed out and not loving it. I was trying to be the best "me" that I could, but I felt like I was losing myself a little bit. So now I'm back and doing the things that I love to do, thus, the blog is back.

I am excited for a summer filled with some trips: a roadtrip to Ottawa to visit some amazing friends, camping, and in the autumn, a very amazing penpal of mine is coming to visit the United States and Canada, and she'll be staying with me for a few weeks! She is from Finland, and I'm very excited for her visit. There will be a lot of coffee and knitting, and a few day trips. Squee! This is very exciting to me!

Oh and one more thing that I simply must share before wrapping this up, last October, Will and I adopted the most ADORKABLE (yes the "k" is in there on purpose)pup, who we named Tenzing. He is a Lhasa Apso, and he is our spoiled boy. More about him later... I'll leave you with a picture in the mean time...

23 September 2011

Enough.

I'm not perfect, nor have I ever claimed to be. I'm very far from perfect, actually, as are most people that I know. I've been under a lot of stress lately for many reasons - job stress, medical related stress, money stress, etc. I actually can't think of a time in the last ten years of my life that I've ever felt stress-free but the past few months have proven to be quite the hurdle. Some days I wake up not feeling like myself, living in a cloud of worried thoughts, rushing through the day to get home, only to not want to do anything but sleep when I do. I don't quite know how to deal with it, and every once in a while, like tonight, when the sum total of stress becomes too large for my brain to figure out how to handle, I lose it. I cry like a baby for hours on end, mope around like a rag doll, and just want nothing to do with myself.

Despite the fact that I know I am not perfect and never will be (nobody ever will, quite honestly), I try to live my life with a solid set of morals, and infuse everything I do with as much creativity and love as I can muster. Some days I can only muster a small amount, and others I could fill a stadium with the amount of love I pour into everything I do.

I try not to be a negative person, but with stress eating away at my very core its difficult not to sometimes. I know that a lot of people think that I'm a negative person because I don't put up with a lot of shit. I don't play well with strangers: I hate small talk, fake smiles, feigning interest in their sometimes boring little lives. It irks me. I tend to shy away from others that I don't know, and those that I do know and let in to my life, I love and adore with everything I am inside of me.

I am lucky. I live in a country where free speech is allowed. I have a roof over my head (despite sometimes not knowing how I'll pay rent). I have food in my fridge (even if its not appetizing some days when we're out of grocery money and pay day isn't for another week). I have a wonderful and beautiful man who loves me for who I am and for what I stand for. I have the cutest hamster in the world (yes, I said it), who supplies endless hours of entertainment in a cute, fluffy package. I have a few friends who I think are pretty damn amazing. I have passion, desire, and creativity. I marvel at the small yet spectacular things in life, and I feel not nearly as many people who should, do.

I am not perfect. But I have love, and that is enough.

05 September 2011

My newest addiction: MACARONS!



For years I've been hearing about macarons from my penpal Nadine in Germany. She lives very close to the border of France and often takes day-trips into France to get local groceries, treats, etc. I had heard of macarons before but after seeing her love of them, I knew I wanted to try them. Heres the problem - there was nobody around that made them! I couldn't find a single bakery in London (Ontario) that sold them. Until last month...

While my friend Ari was here from Wisconsin (and let me just say sorry for not blogging about her visit. I have a few photos, I'll be doing another post soon about knitting stuff and that visit), we were walking around our local Saturday morning farmers market. All of a sudden Will and I both gasp - we spotted macarons! There was a little bakery stand that was closing up, she had some jars of baked goods leftover, and in one jar... MACARONS! There were only two left. Will and I bought them IMMEDIATELY. They were green matcha tea flavoured with a ginger cream frosting. They were TO DIE FOR. Immediately I wanted more. Thats when we found a new bakery opened up inside the farmer's market called Petit Paris (see photo). HEAVEN. Immediately we picked out half a dozen macarons, but at $2.25 each (or $12 for a half dozen), we knew this would become an expensive addiction. That was the moment we decided to learn how to make them.

I found these helpful instructions using my google-fu, which is an expansion of Martha Stewart's recipe (which has even more suggestions for different flavour combinations, just so you know), and I went to work - after a short trip to the bulk store to get a few things.

Since then, I've been in macaron heaven. I've made about 5 or 6 different batches... they take forever and they are SUPER DUPER SWEET, but they honestly are a little piece of heaven! Here is my most recent batch - chocolate macarons with chai cream frosting:

20 August 2011

mail art tutorial!


I've been asked several times by several people (some more patient than others, thank you!) for a mail art tutorial. Please note that this is just my current personal style of mail art that has made me happy, and things can be customized to use tools that you have... I just wanted to share a way for people who may not be into it, to get into it! Its easy, promise!

So to start... you need a canvas/slate... for me, thats a blank piece of paper I'll turn into an envelope. To do that, I drew up this little picture so you can see how I easily turn a piece of paper into an envelope, without an actual template:



Please note that you can put off the GLUE step of the envelope until you're done decorating the envelope, but thats up to you! Personally, I do... so you won't see my envelope all together until I glue it. :)

After MAKING the envelope, the process of decorating the envelope begins... I use markers, pens, washi tape, stamps, ink, pencil crayons, other papers to layer onto it, etc. You can use ANYTHING, I've even seen simple objects like playing cards incorporated into this!

My first step for decorating envelopes is to give myself a background. I'm often intimidated by a blank piece of paper, so I start to add colour to it, using COPIC markers.


After this part is usually when I glue my edges up (as opposed to the first step), but if you're skipping a striped envelope (and it doesn't have to be striped, let your imagination go wild!), you can do that at any point that you're comfortable with, or even wait until you're done altogether.

After creating a pattern and gluing up my envelope, I use stamp ink to distress the edges of the envelope, to make it look grungy or old. To do this you can use any colour stamp ink you want! What I find works best is a brand called "Distress Ink" by Tim Holtz. It dries to a light colour, so it doesn't outshine anything you're adding on top of it, and just gives a nice grungy look. I tend to do this on every edge of the envelope that the recipient will see, both front and back. Again, if you don't like the grungy look, skip this step! YOUR mail art that you send should be stuff that YOU enjoy and that you think the recipient will enjoy also!


The next step I usually take is to address the envelope, or to at least add the recipients name, since that will be the main focus of the envelope. For this tutorial, I'm making a pretty piece of mail art for my friend Katie! Usually I either draw a name on or use stamps, or a combination of both. For the purpose of this tutorial, I'll use letter stamps! I have one set of letter stamps that I use on a regular basis, that I bought at Wal-Mart for $4 in the clearance bin! Stamp sets are usually pretty expensive, but if you're going to continue creating mail art (and why wouldn't you?!), investing in a good set of stamps you love is a good idea! Unmounted clear stamps are also cheaper, because you can buy an acrylic block to reuse with your stamps over and over again, and don't worry if your recipients name has multiple uses of the same letter, you can stamp 2-3 letters at a time of a name if you have to!

After your recipients name is on the envelope, you can add the address (or wait until other decorations are applied), or keep decorating! I tend to keep decorating and add the address last! I don't have much else to add, but I'll snap a few little photos to inspire different elements for your mail art!







The above photos are several techniques that I use to decorate envelopes. Use as many or as few as you want to achieve the perfect envelope for your recipient. I tend to go overboard - the crazier the mail the bigger the smile would be on MY face!

Hopefully you've found this guide to creating pretty mail art inspiring, and now you want to make your own! If you do, please share photos in the comments (or links!). I'd LOVE to see what everyone else creates, and also feel free to share some of your own techniques!

A few tips and pointers to keep our postal worker friends happy:

- always use a return address, just in case something can't be delivered!
- always make sure the address AND return address are clear and legible!
- always use enough stamps!!! If you're not sure how many to use, take it into your local post office to find out

From my experience, postal workers LOVE seeing unique and creative mail, so long as they can clearly read it and safely deliver it! Be sure to check your mail regulations and guidelines before sending anything in the mail!

And always remember, the best way to receive fun mail is to send it! I'm a member of a site called sendsomething.net. Its a private site (for members only) where you can search for new people to send mail to (use at your own risk, of course). I have met a few awesome penpals through that site, and mail art buddies, too! You can also join sites like swap-bot.com or join penpal or mail forums online... if you're also a knitter, there are several Penpal groups on Ravelry.