Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Year of Good Things


This time last year I read somewhere about a really simple and cool way to remember the highlights of the year. A Good Things Jar! I feel like it's easy to remember the bad things that happened during the year, fights you had, people who passed away, embarrassing moments, but I find it harder to remember the everyday happy things that happen way more frequently. This jar was perfect to capture those little happy moments. I had planned on decorating a jar, but in the end just ended up using this old peanut butter jar that I had been saving for some reason. Whenever something good happened Dave and I would write it on a little sticky with the date and toss it in the jar. Other things we put in it: movie ticket stubs, receipts from date nights, price tags of things we saved up for, little photos, flyers from events, anything that we would associate with a good time or positive experience. I'll admit once Iris came around we kind of slacked/forgot but I didn't worry, any happy moments captured were better than none!

Tonight we'll dump the jar out and read through everything together. I can't wait! I'm hoping to put them all into a little book or add it to our 2014 family yearbook somehow.

What do you think? Would you try a Good Things Jar?

Also, Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

DIY Winter Crown


I've been wanting to make one of these for ages! I've been eyeing large faux flower crowns for awhile now and thought I'd try my hand at making one for my darling pen pal Frankie. She seems like the kind of person who could pull off a flower crown :) Anyway I intended to make a neutral coloured flower one when I set off to the flower section of Dollarama but alas it was filled with Christmasy things instead! So I changed gears and went with a winter foresty feel, which I think I like better than my original plan actually. 



It was pretty easy to make, you'll need a few things though:

  • a wire based small garland for the base of the crown (I used a brown and gold one that came coiled up in a ring)
  • flowers and things to decorate the crown (I used green leaves with "snow", wired holly, and pussy willows)
  • green floral tape 
  • wire cutters 
To make it I just uncoiled my small garland and shaped it into the right size to fit on my head, then using floral tape, secured it's shape in a few places. Then it's just a matter of cutting and wrapping/taping your foliage on to the garland. A lot of the things I used had wire bases so I just wrapped them around the garland and then wrapped some floral tape around it to make sure it stayed put. 

One tip, don't use your fancy scissors to cut fake flowers like I did (I can almost hear my MIL groaning in disappointment as she reads this). Fake flowers have wires in them, so use wire cutters! 


I debated keeping this for myself as it's so pretty, but I think Frankie will love it too :) Wouldn't this be pretty to wear to a holiday party?

As a side note, I'm taking a holiday break from blogging for the next 2 weeks to enjoy the holidays. Merry Christmas!


Thursday, 11 December 2014

A New Adventure


My mat leave has been kind of amazing so far. Ok, the first few months may have been kind of a newborn blur but around the 4 months mark I really started loving being at home with Iris. For me, my mat leave has been a perfect opportunity to evaluate where I pictured my life going especially when it came to family and how I make money. My secret dream was always to have my own creative business. Own a cafe, do my own dessert catering, make things and sell them, I was never really sure what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to create and hopefully make a little money with it (Dave and I both always knew that I would probably stay home while our babies are little).  

Quite recently (and rather unexpectedly) I started getting asked to take photos for a few families. And since then it has kind of snowballed into doing holiday photos, some head shots for business websites, and more family shoots. I'm not gonna lie, I had never thought that photography may be the creative outlet for me to make some extra money with! But I love it! 


I don't charge much at this point, almost nothing compared to real photographers, mostly because I am in no way a professional photographer and am still learning so much when it comes to my camera and how to get a good shot. But I also feel good about making family photos a little more accessible to the everyday family. Plus let's not lie, it is so lovely to have some (inexpensive!) great photos of yourself, am I right?


So who knows, maybe this will turn out to be my big creative thing? 

You can check out my photography facebook page here

Monday, 8 December 2014

Let's Call This a Hygge Moment


Ever since I wrote about the art of hygge I've been trying to capture the moments where I feel it. This one was from the other night. We had just finished eating dinner, the sun was setting, Sufjan Stevens playing in the background, Dave folding laundry with Iris promptly unfolding it. Kind of perfect really.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Homemade Holiday: Snowflake Window


Well as you've probably gathered, I have a lot of time on my hands, especially days when I don't have a car and am confined to the apartment/walking distance of the apartment. So I thought I'd spend some time making the place all festive and cozy. Last year we didn't decorate or even put up a tree (?!?!) because we moved the week before Christmas, I was pregnant and Christmas decorations weren't that high on the list of things to unpack first. So after unpacking our decorations this year and sadly realizing that a) there were very few decorations in there and b) most of them were from Dollarama and in terrible shape I thought I'd take things into my own hands and make me a whole window of paper snowflakes!

I saw a version of this on Pinterest and thought it looked pretty neat. So with Iris chilling in her swing I sat on the floor, looked at this for guidance, and covered the entire living room floor with snowflakes and little bits of paper. After that I just used some clear tape to tape them to the main big window in the living room. I love it! It looks pretty cool from the road too.


This took a awhile to clean up with all the little bits of paper around and to be honest I'm not really looking forward to peeling all that tape off the window, but right now, I'm really liking the look of it :)

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Mini Gourmand Menus


She eats! Like a real person! A messier version of a real person perhaps, but the 3 of us now all eat dinner together everyday and I love it. I think I have a very laid back idea of what starting real food with a baby looks like. When I took Iris in for her 4 month shots my doctor gave me a pamphlet on starting solids for your baby. The thing was from 1999 and was sponsored by the Canadian Dairy Association and said I should give Iris rice cereal and introduce things like fruit juice (what?!) at 6 months. Needless to say that didn't really sit right with me. I know rice cereal is the common first food for most babies but I couldn't bear having such a bland (and highly processed) food to be her first introduction to the wonders of eating! This is just my opinion obviously.

I honestly don't remember what her first taste of food was, it was probably just what we were having for dinner one night, but slightly mashed. Most of the times I'll just give her whatever we're eating (think pasta dishes and vegetable sides like baked squash). Lately though I've liked having a few Iris friendly foods in the fridge for when we're eating something that isn't really baby friendly (like salads or sandwiches).  Here are a few that I've tried:

  • slightly boiled frozen peas mixed with goat cheese and basil (I use the tubes of herbs to keep it easy)
  • white beans pureed with a can of tuna, some basil and lemon juice (this is really good with carrot sticks)
  • rasberries and banana "sticks" (just a banana sliced in thin stubby pieces)
  • polenta with parm and some tomato sauce stirred in
  • scrambled egg (our go-to breakfast) 
  • crust of crusty loafs of bread
  • the rind of parm (great for teething, but Gus always inhales this as soon as it falls on the floor)


My goal is to have Iris grow up eating a variety of foods and being open to trying new things every day. I will not have a picky eater goshdarnit! 

So far, so good!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Art of "Hygge"


I stumbled upon a great little article the other week all about how the Danes, who spend a lot of their time with snow on the ground and the sun setting before 4pm, are one of the happiest groups of people in the world. And apparently what they attribute this to is a culture centred around "hygge". Here's what it means according to A Xenophobe's Guide to Danes:

"A love of or need for hygge is an important part of the Danish psyche. Hygge is usually inadequately translated as "coziness." This is too simplistic: coziness relates to physical surroundings — a jersey can be cozy, or a warm bed — whereas hygge has more to do with people's behavior towards each other. It is the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality, and contentment rolled into one.
Friends meeting in the street might say that it has been hyggeligt to see each other, and someone who is fun to be with can be called a hyggelig fyr, when he would hardly be described as a "cozy fellow." The truly emotive depth of the word hyggelig is best captured by considering its opposite, uhyggeligt, which means anything from cheerless through sinister to downright shocking and grisly.
To have a hyggelig time is social nirvana in Denmark. Candlelight is used to encourage ahyggelig atmosphere. In fact, the Danes are mad about candles and use them everywhere, both in public places like cafes, bars, restaurants and offices, and in the home. The dim lighting helps to soften the clean, uncluttered surfaces and uncompromising white walls that are typical features of Danish living rooms. Everyone's ideal is to have a Christiania kakkelovn (antique stove) or an open fireplace and feel the warmth from its hyggelige glow.
Achieving hygge generally involves being with friends and family, and eating and drinking. Older Danes are horrified to hear of youngsters who hygger themselves alone on the sofa with a rented video and family-size bag of sweets." 
Isn't that great? I feel hygge perfectly sums up what I want my life to feel like, and it got me thinking, what things in my life would be apart of this hygge thing?
  • knitting on the couch
  • playing cards by the fire with family
  • making food and having friends over, eating on pillows on the floor
  • long walks and long talks
  • tea in big mugs
  • reading stories before bed
  • hikes in the woods
  • writing letters and sending them in the mail
  • candles
What about you, do you like this idea of Hygge as much as I do? What kinds of things do it for you? 

Photo by Joakim Eskildsen 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Cake #8 (Key Lime Cream Cake)


I am finding any excuse nowadays to make a cake, especially if it means that I don't have to keep the whole thing. Someone doing a bake sale? I'm bringing a cake! I have already mentally ticked off 4 cakes for my upcoming family holiday gatherings. Today my good friend had a day off so she drove down to come see me and Iris. My first thought? CAKE. Well I probably thought "YAY! Friend time!" first but cake was definitely the second thing I thought of. 

This cake was whipped up with a baby on my back and I'll be darned if it isn't the prettiest one I've made yet! It wasn't as lime-y as I would have liked but besides that it was pretty good. The whipped cream piped on top was a nice new addition from the other cakes I've made. 


My friend Jen suggested I should try an ice cream cake next. Hmmmm that may be one I'd want to keep all to myself...

Recipe (loosely followed): Bakerella

Friday, 28 November 2014

Currently


Reading- just finished #GIRLBOSS and now am on to The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Eating- "Monet's Favourite Sandwich" rotisserie chicken with melted brie and raspberry jam on a baguette, omg

Watching- Jamie Oliver's Food Tube  

Loving- this pretty pretty blog. This is what I thought France would be like when we traveled there. It wasn't, sadly.

Making- knitted things! Taught Dave how to knit a cowl yesterday and we stayed up "late" knitting in bed together like a pair of old ladies ;)

Baking- Key Lime Cream Cake

Listening- to Mo Kenney and Dave practice the violin (oh boy!)

Looking for ward to the weekend! Have conscripted more of my friends to be my models to practice some couple-type photography. They're good sports :)

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Thrifted Things


It's probably no secret that I am huge fan of thrifting. Huge. On a tight budget it's the only way I can still enjoy getting new (to me) things without wasting 1/4 of my monthly budget on a single shirt. Granted, I do have to spend more time finding these things, and even if I do find something that I love there's no guarantee that it will be in my size. The past few times I've been out I've scored some crazy items, like this down-filled Roots winter coat for $8! It was originally $16 but the zipper was broken so I asked if they wouldn't mind taking some money off and the lady said "Oh dear, how about 50%?" Um YES. It felt like stealing. And the zipper my mum just fixed for me :) 



Yesterday I scored 3 pairs of shoes. I got a pair of Viking sandals (new!), some Bob's and a pair of Toms. All were $4.99 and in my size. I know right?! Some days the thrifting gods are good to me. 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Knitting Success! (finally!)


So I may have said this before, but I try to learn to knit/crochet every damn fall. For about 4 years now. I've had my mum, my oma, and my friends all try to teach me, but I never get to a point where I feel comfortable enough to actually finish a project. Let's just say there are a lot of half used balls of yarn stuffed in my craft armoire.

I recently came across this post by Elise and thought ONE LAST TIME. I went out, bought some more yarn and circular needles, waited for Iris to go down for her afternoon nap, prepared myself for failure and tried to knit a 2 colour cowl. And would you know it, the dang thing actually worked! As soon as I had knitted 4 rows with no holes I did a little happy dance and proceeded to knit for the next two hours. When Iris woke up I plunked her on the floor with some toys and sat on the couch and knitted for another two hours. I knitted and knitted some more. And then I actually casted off (throwing some knitting jargon at you now) and finished it!


I'm ridiculously proud of myself.  If you're looking for an easy project you can finish in a day or two I'd highly recommend checking out Elise's tutorial. Now I'm off to make Iris a mini version ;)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Cake #7 (Red Velvet Bundt)


Ah red velvet. A lot of people I know proclaim that red velvet is their favourite cake ever. And whenever I sell anything red velvet related, it's always the first thing to go. But I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, red velvet sure does look pretty. It's probably the only cake I know of that has such an intense colour while still maintaining it's classic charm. But the actual taste? I don't know. I mean red velvet is essentially a plain buttermilk based cake with about 1 or 2 tablespoons of cocoa in it (with an equal amount of red food colouring!). Essentially a bland red chocolate cake. Ha! I bet you're dying to try this cake now!

Well wherever you fall of the red velvet spectrum you gotta admit, this cake looks pretty good. And with a good cream cheese frosting poured on top, it tastes pretty good too.


I made this one to sell at the christmas bazaar a few weekends back and it sold within the first 10 minutes. Side story: a blind woman bought it! Her husband came to my table with her on his arm and described the cake and 2 minutes later she came back saying she wanted it! Her husband must have done a great job in selling it to her ;)

Recipe used: Red Velvet Royale Cake 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Happy Mail Project Vol.1

So I've been thinking. I love receiving mail that is not bank statements or coupons. There's something very satisfying and wholesome about snail mail no? And I thought if I enjoy it so much, maybe other people would love it too? And wouldn't it be nice to give away my little nap time creations to people who may like them? I think yes!

The past few weeks during nap times I've been drawing and painting little family portraits like mad to send off in the mail. It's slightly addictive. Some people have requested one but others I've just created, hoping that when they received it it would make them happy.

What I love about this project? One, it's cheap. A stamp and some dollar store envelopes is really all I need. Two, it's way more fun to create something for another person rather than just for yourself. And three, sending off something in the mail to a unsuspecting recipient makes me do a little happy dance. I love it!


If you've requested a little portrait but haven't received it yet, have no fear it's on its way! The whole project is more or less baby-dependent (read: totally baby dependent).

I think this is something I want to keep going throughout the year. I think this will help keep me sane through the long winter at home.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Slowly Unplugging


Lately I've been thinking a lot about the whole "unplugging" thing. Let me start off by saying that I really really love the idea of unplugging. But the actual action of doing it is (embarrassingly) really difficult!  I'm a big fan of the internet. The whole blogging world is where I get about 99% of my day to day inspiration. And I don't have any interest in giving up blogging or reading blogs. But I am more interested in less mindless media consumption. I'm sure I'm not the only one who automatically opens facebook as soon as they open up their browser. Or the only one who scrolls through Instagram every hour. Ugh! I hate it! I can't even imagine how much time I've wasted doing just those two things!

A few weeks back Dave and I realized that we hadn't turned on our TV for over a week (this was crazy for us!). It definitely was a strange realization and not intentional! Dave being away at work all day and Iris becoming more aware of her surroundings are the two big reasons why I think this has happened. I used to watch Netflix whenever I had to feed Iris, but then one day she was suddenly aware of the TV and wouldn't sit and eat without squirming to face it. So I had to switch to listening to music instead while she ate. The other thing is when Dave finally gets home we want to spend the short time we have together before bed actually hanging out, and watching TV just feels like a huge time suck. So we thought, if we went a week without even missing Netflix, let's just get rid of it. So we did!  I'm not gonna lie, I was a little panicky about this at first. I mean they had just added Gilmore Girls!! But after another week I noticed we instead spent our evenings going out for walks, playing "20 Questions" on the couch, having long talks, and being more available to Iris. It was a nice feeling.

Some other things I hope to try in the next few weeks:

  • Leave my phone in the bedroom during the day. If someone calls I'll hear it, but I won't hear the text messages, new emails, or fb messenger. Or see it flash!  
  • Delete facebook from the bookmarks tab and only check it once a day
  • Clean up my instagram feed. Stick to only a few accounts that I'm really interested in seeing
  • Intentional computer time. Knowing why I'm opening up the laptop before I go on
I get that not everyone is even interested in unplugging, that a lot of people enjoy spending their nights cozy on the couch catching up on shows together , but I'm curious, is unplugging something you'd like to do? Do you find it hard? What are you giving up and what are you gaining instead?

Monday, 17 November 2014

My Little Bakery (for an afternoon)


I would love to own a bakery, but let's be real, owning a brick and mortar business is crazy hard! And expensive! So instead I play out my bakery fantasy this way.  A few times a year I'll rent a table with my mum at a craft or christmas bazaar and bake my heart out, it's the best. I started about 3 years ago and I remember being so nervous. What if no one bought anything?! What if someone else was selling baked things that looked and tasted better than mine?! Would I be able to bake everything in time?! It was totally out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I started, because now I'm hooked! 

This time I had blueberry cheesecake and spiced pumpkin cupcakes, red velvet cake pops, confetti cookie sandwiches, nutella stuffed cookies, a red velvet cake, and my latest baking obsession, french macarons. Not to brag or anything but I had a woman tell me she's eaten a lot of macarons and mine were the second best macarons she's ever had, the best being from Nadege Patisserie. Ok that totally was bragging, sorry.  But cool right?!

I never make a crazy amount of money or anything, just enough to cover my expenses and help out a bit with christmas shopping, usually around $100 profit. But to be honest, I don't really do it for the money. I love making things and the fact that people will buy and enjoy them makes my heart happy.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Read This: The Tiny Wife


I don't know how to say this without sounding melodramatic, but you really must read this book.

I'm not gonna lie, I totally picked this book up at the library mainly because I loved the cover and because it was rather short (it's very satisfying to read a book in a day or two, no?). Anyway "The Tiny Wife" by Andrew Kaufman is about a group of people who get held up at a bank, but instead of asking for money and jewellery, the thief asks for them to give up the object on them that holds the most sentimental value. Then strange things start to happen to these people in the following days. For instance, one woman turns into candy and her husband eats her. The whole story is very modern Alice in Wonderlandish and quite beautiful. Yes, I just described a book as beautiful.

So if you're looking for something new to read that's not going to take you all winter, check this one out :)

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Cake #6 (Banana Chai)


Nothing fancy this time, I really was just looking for something that would go well with tea for dessert at the in-laws last week. Plus I had 3 rather black bananas I had to use up. This cake was great! If you're a fan of banana bread, then you'll probably love this slightly spicier version. 


I roughly followed this recipe and added some cream cheese frosting with a little bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top. Perfect with a cup of tea, or for breakfast. Cake for breakfast is a real thing that I have been practising most of my life. You should start too. 

My parents recently bought me bundt cake pan after hearing me complain that all my cakes are round, so be prepared for many non-flat/circular cakes, yay! 



Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Big Prints for Cheap


For awhile I've been hearing about how you can get large grayscale prints done for cheap with Blueprints/Engineer prints. So I called someone at Staples last week and they told me how to order them online, which I previously could not figure out. Now there are a few things you should know about Engineer prints before you start. 

1) It only prints in grayscale on thinner than usual paper. Photos that aren't high resolution will come out a bit pixelated too. 

2) It's only about $2 for their largest size (24 inches x 36 inches). Crazy right?! 



For our latest gallery wall I used Engineer Prints for the dancing nun, the Ernest Hemingway quote, and the photo of Dave and Iris. The dancing nun was just a photo I found online, not very large at all and it blew up just fine. Up close it's kinda pixelated but you can't even tell from a foot away.

How To:

First you need to get on staplescopyandprint.ca and upload the pictures/ documents you want printed. After you do that it'll bring you to a screen that looks like this:


From here click on the Finish Size and pick one of the last 3 sizes. These are the only one that can be printed as "Engineer Prints".  Make sure to click the "Best Fit" underneath so it doesn't stretch your photo! As of now it'll tell you your print will cost something ridiculous like $29.99.



Next, go down to the Print Colour and choose B/W Engineering and watch the price go down! The picture they show you will look pixelated but don't worry about that.

That's it! Granted this only works if you're looking for black and white copies but I'm really pleased with how they turned out. And all 3 only cost me $5!

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Gallery Wall (from start to finish)



MAN! Let me start off by saying this whole project took a long time. Collecting/making the photos/art/prints, finding the frames, painting the frames and hanging it all took about a month. But I think I can now say, it was totally worth it! In total (frames, candle sticks, and prints) the entire wall cost me about $40.

If you're interested in how I did it from start to finish, here was my process.

1) Figure out what you want to hang. For me I knew right away I wanted to incorporate a nun in there somehow so I blew up a large photo of a jovial nun dancing with 2 little boys (more on that later), I also blew up a photo of Dave and Iris, so between those 2 I had 2 large pieces. Next I had some instax photos, a photo booth photo of my mum when she was a teenager, some vintage valentines from the 40's from my MIL, a water colour portrait of the family, and a few printed photos.

2) Get frames. Lots of them. I thrifted all of my frames, looking for ones that had large white mats already in them that were framed in wood or something I could spray paint black. Don't pay more than $10 tops for a large frame, as every thrift store sells them and you can probably get it cheaper somewhere else.

3) Arrange it on the floor first. Once I had everything in a frame I spent some time laying it out on the floor how I wanted it and then took a photo.


4) Trace each frame on paper and then tape those to the wall. This step took foreveeeeeeer, but I think it made a big difference. One thing I made sure to do was label each "frame" so I would remember which was what.

5) Add the nails! I would just flip the frames over to see where the nail would hang and then eyeballed it on the paper "frames". After I nailed them in, I ripped the paper off and replaced it with the real frame. (I did this last night, hence the photo quality)






I'm pretty pumped with how this turned out! I'll be back tomorrow with how I got some of my larger prints done for CRAZY CHEAP!

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