My Neighbor Totoro

I did a workshop on bookkeeping for small business tonight. It was good, but very overwhelming - I'm a bit stressed about doing the wrong thing in terms of tax, etc, getting in trouble and going to jail. I was on google images searching for a photo that could relate how I was feeling. I looked for "headache" and the image that you see here popped up. Immediately, my headaches were gone - how could you see this and not laugh? It's "My Neighbor Totoro" a Japanese children's book and film by Hayao Miyazaki. I have seen his film, "Spirited Away" which I loved, and now I am thinking that I need to see more, like his classic "Princess Mononoke" or some recent films like "The Cat Returns" or "Howl's Moving Castle." I loved the way that "Spirited Away" created a fantasy world, so unlike ours, where both good and bad things happen. Still, I am not sure how bad things could happen with someone like Totoro around.


Books and more books!

Just finished packing up a load of books to take into one of my client's shops tomorrow. Although this box is a bit cumbersome, I really like it. It has a bit of a library feel, and is covered in deep chocolately-coloured linen.
I got some new papers, and I hope that the shop likes them. I think this one with the little koi on it is especially cute!
Finally, I visited the library after work today, and picked up a few books to read. I'm a bit of a slack library user, I am always taking home way too many books - when I get there, I get so greedy! All those wonderful books, all free....I have so many fines racked up, and I could only afford to pay part of them tonight so that they would restore my borrowing privleges. If Bookman the library cop from Seinfeld really existed, I would be in big trouble!

Anyhow, I am looking forward to checking out the Anna Wintour biography, and of course picked up stacks of cookbooks and decorating mags. The Nigella Lawson book looks really good - she even has a section on "meatless feasts." I really like Nigella, she is so passionate about food, and she seems like a woman who really enjoys life. Best go and get stuck into these books!


April is the cruellest month...

This is a photo taken yesterday of the blossoming tree outside our house, courtesy of guest photographer, Martin. We had a beautiful day here yesterday, with tempratures reaching 18 degrees! Trust me, it's very warm for here at this time of year. Today though, it's a miserable 5 degrees and raining. I had to wear a woolen hat! T.S Eliot was right when he said -

"APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers."

He really captures the sadness of the bare trees, the rain the mud. Summer so close, yet so far away. We feel that it is almost here, and it's cruelly snatched away time and time again. At least here in Canada, anyhow.

This concludes the high-brow cultural portion of the blog. Tomorrow, I will return to the usual low-brow miscellany, I promise. Just something about this weather...


I'm off to the Tree Sculpture Capital of Nova Scotia!

I'm driving off to Truro this weekend. It's a little town where my Mom and Grandmother live, about an hour from here. I'm going to up there to take a computer workshop on "Building Web Pages for Artists." Martin seems to think that will mainly entail the instructor asking us how the HTML code makes us "feel", but I'm hoping to get a bit more out of it than that!

Anyhow, Truro is a funny little place. It's mainly a farming town, and it's really small. A few years ago, a bunch of the beautiful old trees there contracted some kind of horrible disease, and were carved up into sculptures. It's kind of a good idea, but as you can see in the picture above, some of them are just plain scary looking! As you drive into town, there is a big sign proclaiming Truro as the "Tree Sculpture Capital of Nova Scotia" not the world, not Canada, just Nova Scotia. Makes me wonder what other tree sculpture towns are lurking out there....


Six Things

I've been tagged by Mishka to list "six unusual or little known things about myself"...this is a tough one, I'm pretty boring and, well, pretty much an open book, so I'm just going to list things that people reading my blog might not know. Here goes...don't go expecting any exciting revelations!

One - I've travelled quite a bit, and spent about 7 years living in Sydney, Australia with my Aussie husband. We came to live in Nova Scotia (where I'm from) about three years ago to be close to my family for a while, and to live in smaller, quieter city.

Two - I have some Aboriginal heritage. Not much, but I'm probably about 1/8 Mi'kmaq Indian, from my Dad's side. I just found out about this recently, and I would really like to learn more about this part of my family's heritage.

Three - Another family history thing - my grandmother (also on my Dad's side) was a war bride from England. She came from a large, and eccentric, family with 8 siblings. Her father was a University Professor and wrote children's books - those boy's adventure story kind of things. One of her brothers was a famous actor/comedian during WWII and another was a WWII smuggler! They both wrote books about their adventures. My grandmother distinguished herself by being a really wonderful person who loved to drink wine (guess who I take after)and having a very unusual name - Arowhena. I just looked up her name online, and it is a place in New Zealand (where her mother was from) and also the name of a character in a book by Samuel Butler. So, this exercise is very good, I am learning things!

Four - I'm not at all religious, I wouldn't even classify myself as spiritual, but I do beleive in the idea of Karma. So, I try to be good and understanding, but sometimes it's very hard!

Five - I love the colour red. I especially love to see red and pink together. My favorite shoes are red.

Six - At this very moment, Martin is baking a batch of Dr. Oetker's organic chocolate chip cookies. Gotta go and get them while they're hot!

I think that I will tag...Ellia!


Is it Easter Sunday, or Easter Bunday?

I made the hot cross buns that I mentioned in my post a couple of days ago. They didn't really turn out very well. I mean, they were tasty, but they were a bit heavy. I think that the milk was too hot, and it killed all my yeast, so the buns were not light and airy, as intended, but like little round river stones with the addition of raisins and mixed peel. I ate two, with lots of butter, but regretted it almost immediately. I lugged them around in my tummy all day. I felt like making them all over again from the start, but don't have enough time. The dough needs to rest overnight, and then rise for an hour and a half the next morning. I don't think my office would be too understanding if I called in late because my buns were rising. Actually, that sounds pretty rude.

Does this mean I'm it?

I've been tagged by Ellia! I think that she tagged me a couple of days ago, but I have to admit, I've been a bit remiss in my blog reading, so I just noticed today. When I read that she'd tagged me, I actually panicked! I felt as thought I had been tagged "it" - but it's all good fun - so here goes...all things to do with the number five...

1. Five minutes to yourself: how would you spend them, ideally?
I've got lots of reading to do. I got a book at Christmastime - "Specimen Days" by Michael Cunningham, that I've wanted to read for ages, but haven't got a chance. Martin also bought me a book for my birthday a couple of months ago called "the Inklings" which is about the friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, which I would like to read soon. Yes, this does make me a total nerd!

2. Five bucks to spend right now: how would you spend it?

I would probably buy yet another magazine! We were at the bookshop today, and I was tempted to buy so many, but kept seeing the disapproving face of our financial advisor in my mind, and decided against it. But, if it was free money, I'd probably get Living etc. (the issue I saw had a flat in Paris lighted by dozens of Chinese paper lanterns - so beautiful!)or Canadian Home and Country (it's their annual flea market and cottage decorating issue - which appeals to me as a cottage-inhabiting flea market hound!).

3. Five items in your house you could part with, right now, that you hadn't thought of already? This is a really tough one! I would say all the horrible furniture in my bedroom - but unfortunately, I am still using it. So, lets say all the cardboard boxes in the basement, my old computer, the yucky stereo-stand thing that my old computer was sitting on, the mostly empty paint cans that we are too lazy to take to the enviro depot and the suitcases full of old clothing in the basement that I am not wearing, but again, am too lazy to go through and throw out.

4. Five items you absolutely, positively could never part with in your house?
My jewellery - it's not fancy, but I like it! My books - I've lugged them all over the world, so I'm not about to part with them now! My radio - I love listening to music, and my local CBC (nerd status - totally confirmed), all my art supplies and tools and finally, Martin.

5. Five words you love?
Don't know if I love these words, but I say them all the time...
- Cool
- No Worries
- Lovely
- More wine please.
- Impunity

Thanks Ellia, that was loads of fun! I guess that I will tag Mishka and Marieke.


Hand Carved Rubber Stamps

I got some Japanese craft books a couple of weeks ago, and unfortunately, have not had much time to attempt the projects in them. However, I did do a couple of hand carved rubber stamps. I used the speedy cut block, which is a bit too speedy! It's much easy to cut than the lino that I'm used to, and I ended up cutting out some of the details. The mouth on my little girl is missing! But, I still think that she's kinda cute.
The other stamp I did is a little flower. I really like the rough, handmade quality of these stamps. I took these images from my craft book, but I would like to convert some of my own drawings to stamp form. I just need lots more time!

Now I am unstoppable...

Ahhh Haaaa Haaaa (insert sounds of evil laughter here). I've got my computer pretty much up and running! I just finished installing my printer, and camera software. It's pretty empowering, considering that I'm so technically illiterate, but I guess that things are pretty user friendly nowadays, so maybe I shouldn't be so proud of myself. My new computer has the Intel Centrino Duo, which is supposed to be great for multitasking, which is what I am doing right now. I am listening to Pandora - which I absolutely love! It's a website that helps you find new and interesting music. You just type in the name of an artist or song that you like, and it finds songs/artists that are similar. While I don't agree with some of it's selections, it's pretty fun, and a great way to find new music. At the same time, I am printing off a recipe for Hot Cross Buns from Chocolate & Zucchini. They seem a little challenging - you have to start them the day before and bake them the next morning - but since they are Martin's favorite, and we aren't doing anything else Easterish, I will give them a go. And of course, I am writing this blog post as well. Next up, world domination...(insert sounds of evil laughter again - this time even more diabolical!)

In other news, we're having a good Easter long weekend. Spent all day yesterday making and packaging books for an order, which we took into Henhouse this morning. A picture of the display in their shop is above. Love the painting of Koi in the background - I will have to ask them who the artist is the next time I visit. I am so pleased, the books are going really well in the shop, and the owners are so nice. This is a close-up picture of an Origami book that forms part of the display. There are photos of our trip to Newfoundland last year in it, and people keep telling my husband that they've seen him in the shop! Kind of embarrasing, but I didn't know what other photos to include!

After Henhouse, we went to the used bookshop - John W. Doull. It's really fun looking around there. There are just piles of books everywhere - so when you find something, you really feel like you've done something great! I am so surprised that they got it together enough to get a website - I don't think that the owners even know everything that's in there, but they do have a sign asking not to touch the piles of books lying all over the place, as there is some kind of order to them. These images will give you some idea of the mayhem that is JWD! I did manage to find one book though, "The Known World" by Edward P. Jones. I've thought about buying it a few times, so since it was at the used shop cheap, I thought that I'd give it a read. It won the Pulitzer Prize, so I guess it must be alright.
I'd best be off, as I am wasting precious daylight hours on this rambling blog post. I guess I really am becoming a true techie!


Memorable road trip quotes...

"You had me at hello..."
"We gots some heggs..."
"The Catskills, isn't that where they put Baby in the corner?"
"I'm gonna get ya, I'm gonna get ya real good!"
"Ohmigod - the car is rolling down the hill..."

Thinking lots about friends, looking forward to the summer and adding more quotes to the list! (Image from Anne Taintor)


This blog is currently experiencing technical difficulties...

...stay tuned for a return to regularly scheduled programming. I just got a new laptop computer - which is absolutely fantastic. But, I've been having a few technical difficulties with it - just the set-up, downloading software, etc. I think I am on the right track now though, and I expect to be fully up and running in no time at all now. At least, I hope so!



I've had a really crummy week, mainly work related stuff, and not feeling well (probably because of work related stuff), but there was one bright spot - I received my paper and ribbon swap package from Marieke! It was all beautiful - from the bright blue envelope above that I saw sticking out of my mailbox on a gloomy Tuesday...
.....to the beautiful original monoprint postcard on which a lovely message was written....
.....to all these gorgeous papers and ribbons! I really love all the papers, some of my Japanese favorites, as well as some lovely "found" papers, like old music sheets. Also, the ribbon is absolutely gorgeous, like nothing I can find here in Halifax. I especially love the one that is embroidered with flowers. I will have to find a very special use for all of these wonderful things! Thanks Marieke - I hope that you enjoy your swap package when it arrives!


Fancy a Cuppa?

I have a collection of tea cups and china that was created in one fell swoop when my grandmother cleaned out her attic. The teacup in the foreground is my favorite - it is handpainted and made of the most delicate bone china. I just love the colours that it's painted. I have boxes and boxes of this china. A lot of it is broken and chipped, but I still love it. I don't care if it's not worth a cent.

It's a family joke that I go shopping in my grandmother's attic, but it's true. Anytime that she wants to throw something out, I am right there to scavenge it. The guestroom in my house is furnished with her cast-offs - a 1930's rocking chair, a chunky framed wooden mirror, a wooden trunk with a lovely patina, and a very beautiful quilt that she made which is covering the end of the bed. I think that it's my favorite room in the whole house.