holiday market blitz

It's holiday market season! We'll be at the NSAC Festive Craft Market in Truro (November 12 - 13, 2011), the NSDCC Designer Craft Market on Pier 23 in Halifax (November 18 - 20, 2011) and the Halifax Crafters Yuletide Cheer Market at the Olympic Centre in Halifax (December 3 - 4, 2011). Stayed tuned for more possible dates. Look forward to seeing you soon!


pinterest addiction

I am a bit addicted to Pinterest these days. It's a place where I keep track of all the interesting things I like on the web, plus discover what other people like - eg - super cute t-shirt above. A dog in glasses? Well, I never! Check out all my pins here, and follow me if you'd like. I'd love to see what you are pinning!


TIBS Family Dinners

A couple of weeks ago, we had dinner at our favorite local cafe, Two if By Sea. TIBS is not normally open for dinner, but periodically co-host "Family Dinners" with chef Renee Lavalee (aka the Feisty Chef). The dinner we attended was in celebration of Canada Food Day, and was fully vegetarian. I was wonderful to have a whole meal full of delicious vegetarian options, like the amuse bouche of wheat berry and quinoa salad with baba ganouche, sour cherries and gooseberries pictured above - yum!
The dinners really are served family style - we shared huge bowls of food with our lovely table mates at large communal tables, and like a typical family dinner - there were even leftovers to take home at the end of the night! Thanks to the team at TIBS and the Feisty Chef for a wonderful night. We can't wait to do it again!


Art vs. Craft

I will be selling my work at the inaugural Art vs. Craft Halifax next weekend.  It is at the Halifax Forum from 11 - 6, and there will be 45 tables with talented crafters from around the HRM and Nova Scotia.  I will have a few of my little bird artworks there, and am working on something new that I hope to have ready to debut by next weekend.  Look forward to seeing you there!


Arcade Fire

Saw Arcade Fire at Alderney Landing ( just a 15 minute walk from my house!) on Thursday night.  They were absolutely amazing.  I went to the concert really liking their music, and walked away absolutely loving it.  If you are not familiar with their music, check out their CBC Radio 3 page.  You won't be sorry.


It all started with the Tour de France...

...after about 20 years of not riding a bike, I got a new one yesterday. We were watching the Tour de France, and Martin mentioned that it would be fun if we both got bikes. A week later, and I am the proud owner of the Trek Pure Lowstep 2010 model - I bought it used (I prefer the colours available this year, but beggars can't be choosers!) - and I love it. Getting on that bike literally made me feel like a kid again! It's comfortable and fun to ride, and yeah - I think it's pretty cute. I have a basket on mine as well. The plan is to commute to work via bike/ferry along the waterside trails, avoiding city streets as much as possible. I don't think I'll be ready for the Tour anytime soon, but give me a nice flat country like Holland, and I'm there!


No Knead Bread

I've been doing a lot of cooking lately.  One of the things I've tried is the no-knead bread from Jim Lahey's "My Bread."  It's really good.  It tastes like something from a specialty bakery - I'm amazed at how it turned out.  The only thing I don't like is the long rising time - I'm wondering if I can keep the unbaked dough in the fridge and take it out as needed, like they recommend in this book.  Anyhow, it's a revolution in baking, and I'm really glad I tried this!


Little Birds

I've been away from the computer quite a bit.  We just completed a bathroom renovation (photos will follow when the finishing touches are complete) and a postal strike has made my Etsy shop very quiet.  But, I've been feeling creative lately, and have completed some new artwork - just in time for the end of the strike!  These little birds will be appearing in my shop over the next few days, and I hope to be appearing in this place a bit more often.


the view from here...

Arrived back from Mexico today.  Had a fantastic time, despite spraining my ankle the night before we left.  It didn't matter too much though, as our itinerary of eating, drinking, swimming and lounging was not too strenuous.  I'll be back soon with a few more photos.


away to mexico...

On Monday, I am heading off to Mexico with my mom.  We will be staying near this beautiful place, Tulum, and I am so looking forward to the sun, swimming in the ocean, snorkeling, relaxing - and, of course! - the food.  I plan to eat a lot of guacamole.  I will be back here soon with some photos.


thinking of japan...

The arts and crafts of Japan, and the Japanese way of life, have been such an inspiration to me for so long.  It's so sad to see what is happening there right now.  I have decided to donate 10% of proceeds from my Etsy shop to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts until  the end of March.


day planners on the canadian living craft blog

Thanks to Austen for the shout out about my planners on the canadian living craft blog.  It's so great to hear how she's customized her planner - gives me lots of inspiration for future planners!


sundays are cook days: the muffin edition

As part of this week's big cook day, I did a batch of our favorite muffins.  They come from Terry Walters' excellent book Clean Start. They are vegan, gluten-free and delicious.  It amazes me how wonderful all the recipes I have tried in both Clean Start and her other book Clean Food are - without the addition of oils, gluten or refined sugars.  I have also had other vegan cookbooks that require expensive specialty ingredients or processed meat substitutes - Ms. Walters relies on neither for her scrumptious recipes.  This is the Zucchini Carrot Muffin from Clean Start.  The recipe is not online, but I think that buying the book is well worth it - just for these!


portrait of isabella blow

I saw this portrait of Isabella Blow by Noble and Webster on Garance Dore the other day and I can't stop thinking about it.  Beautiful, creepy, disgusting, inspiring.  I think what I like about it the most is that it challenges all of my ideas of what a portrait is, and what it can be.


the delicious miss dahl

As a fan of the book Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights, and of Miss Sophie Dahl herself, I was thrilled to see that she has a show based on her book, which is currently showing Sunday nights here in Canada.  She has a simple approach to making mostly vegetarian food - she doesn't eat meat herself, but will cook it for others - and is just a treat to watch.  She cooks on a giant white Aga in a beautiful, vintagey kitchen that I would love to own.  Some people have criticized the show because she isn't a chef - but I think that's precisely what I like about it.  Sadly, I hear that the show has been cancelled by the BBC - so I am going to savour the existing episodes.  If you'd like to try one of her recipes, I have made her flourless chocolate cake a number of times, and it's divine.  Just use a really good chocolate, like Green & Blacks, and you can't go wrong.


sundays are cook days

I've started spending the better part of my Sunday cooking and shopping for the week ahead.  I usually try to bake some muffins or sweets and also a soup and a casserole for us to eat that day, and pack up for lunch over the next few days.  We are trying to be mostly vegan - at least during the week - and there aren't a lot of choices out there.  And - it's also fiscally responsible!  Anyhow, this week's cookie is the "Can't Stop, Won't Stop" Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie from Everybody Likes Sandwiches.  Great blog, great cookie.


holga self-portrait

Thought it was time for a new profile shot, so I did this self-portrait.  The holga effect is mainly to hide the cluttered background.  I hate having photos taken, so this is a big deal.  Note, new glasses.  You can't see from this - but they are purple with tortoise-shell arms.


more day planners

A few of the day planners I've been working on recently - and I just listed them all in my Etsy shop.


Living Room - Before and After

So, this is the final installment (for a little while anyhow) of the house makeover series.  Above, you see the living room when we first moved in.  The main change that we made immediately was to replace the laminate floors with hardwood.  Which, as you can see, left us little money for furnishings!  And, left me little money for jeans.  I know it was only six years ago, but those jeans are truly tragic - what was I thinking?  The paper lantern was a desperate attempt to cover up a dated brass and glass light fixture.

And, here is the after, from the same vantage point.  We have basically new everything, except for our couch.  All were inexpensive finds - the chandelier was again found curbside, the TV cabinet from a used furniture store and the chair and coffee table are from a major department store. 

This is the living room from the couch, looking toward the hallway.  Our fireplace doesn't work, but I just love it as a focal point.  We have an electric heater in there for cold days.  As well as my "Keep Calm" print, I have a "Good Day" print from local artist Anna Stowe (love her work - check her out!), a little German figurine from my trip to Austria last year and a carriage clock from my grandmother. The big, chunky mirror was also one of my grandmother's old pieces. The large glass ball is an antique fishing buoy.

This is from the chair, looking in to the dining room.  I like the way that the downstairs of our house is so open, and all the rooms connect.

These are some chairs that I picked up at a yard sale and had recovered in a red boucle.  All the cushions in the room come from Ruby Stella Home on Etsy.  I just love them.

And, here is Milo on his favorite perch!  (Note: the ignored dog bed in the corner) He is, by far, the best thing in this room.


Dining Room - After

Continuing on in my house makeover series, I present...the dining room!  I don't have a before picture of this room, but trust me - it was horrible.  There was a 1970's brass light fixture, which I replaced with this curbside find.  It was also brass, but it's been spray painted white.  The disco ball was added as a Christmas decoration a few years back, and I liked it so much, it stayed.

My collections of books and artwork are displayed on two Expedit shelves from Ikea.  Most of the artworks are small pieces in ready made frames (the large piece is a Camilla Engman tea towel from Third Drawer Down, the lemon painting and dog print were purchased locally from Seeds Gallery, the Yeti is from Owly Shadow Puppets, the lady in the teacup is a trade from Dawbis, and the white ceramic piece was a gift from the lovely Shona of Lala Dex Press).

A change I made just recently is replacing the fabric on my dining room chairs with this pretty yellow chevron.  A quick and easy change which - hopefully! - picks up on the yellows in our printed curtains.  The dining room set itself was from a local used furniture store, made by a Canadian company called Kaufman, which no longer exists.  I'm not sure if it really has much of a pedigree, but it's solid wood and I like the mid-century lines.  It also has two leaves, so we can have huge dinners or spread out lots of work.

I would still like to get a rug, and to recover the ottoman you see in the back there - we use it for extra seating when we have more than four diners.  But, as with the rest of the house, it's all a work in progress!


Before and After - Kitchen

We have had a mini kitchen makeover in the works for awhile.  We have been living in this house for about six years, and the kitchen, literally, started falling apart.  We would love to rip it out and start over again, but decided to just paint, tidy things up, and install some new hardware until we can save up for a full reno.  This was done over a period of years - it took ages.  We painted the cupboards about a year after we moved in, and then had a new sink and countertop installed a few months ago.  Anyhow, without further ado, here is the after....

This photo was taken from the exact same angle.  The Chinese lantern was a gift from our neighbors when they went to New York.  We have it there to distract from the horrible lighting fixture that we haven't got replaced yet.  As you can see, there are still a couple of little jobs left to do (naked plugs need a cover!) but overall, a big improvement.  Oh - and I almost forgot to talk about the floor!  Those are peel and stick tiles.  They are not the typical shiny vinyl ones though - they are a bit thicker and have a duller finish.  Kind of a fake slate.  My mom and I installed those over a weekend.  I didn't want to take the quarter round up - so it was torture!  We had to try to cut the tiles to fit exactly.  My advice - take up the quarter round.

 Here are the open pantry shelves.  I love having all of my flours and things visible.  I keep adding jars as I get more grains.  The "backsplash" is paintable wallpaper.  I painted it semi-gloss white, and then painted it with a special roller that only paints the raised bits.  I painted it to match the walls in Martha Stewart's "Spring Melt" paint from Home Depot.  I am planning to trim out the edges with some white trim - but I haven't got around to that yet.  It is surprisingly wipeable when I've splashed things on it.

This is the stove area.  Previously, the fridge and stove were just kind of "floating", so I rescued an old steel lab table from the University where I work and painted it white.  We have a lot of bottles and cans stored under it, and the large basket in front holds things like foil and plastic wrap.  The old laundry cart is our recycling station - I put papers and bottles in the wire baskets underneath.  The chalkboard wall is always the first thing people comment on when they come in - we use it to write shopping lists, menus and "welcomes" to friends that come by for a visit.

We put these little floating shelves up above the stove to store odds and ends - pretty things that I don't want to keep tucked away.  

This is the area above my dishwasher where I keep some of my cookbooks (yes, this is just some of the collection!) and our fruit bowl with it's little wicker hat.  The cookbooks are where the previous owners had their microwave, but I vehemently anti-microwave (I know, it's weird - but don't even get me started), so we use this nook for cookbookery.  As you can see, there is a sneak peek into the dining room, which I'll talk about in an upcoming post.  

All in all, I'm happy with the improvements to the kitchen.  Looking at the before, I'm amazed at how far we've come!  But - there is still room for improvement.  Because I love to cook so much , I need a space that is a bit more functional with more storage and a better work triangle.  But, this will come with time.


hooded perfection

I get obsessed searching for the perfect thing - perfect boots (I think I have found them - Frye Paige Riding - but I need to save up!), perfect pizza (so far it's Caffe Moretti, but I am still looking) and the perfect raincoat.  I think I might have found it in the Gregg Coat by BB Dakota. I am not sure how waterproof it is, but I just love the slouchy, oversized look of it.  It comes with a belt too, but I think I like it just like this.  Could the search be over?


the society inc.

Martin spent this Christmas visiting his family in Sydney, and when he asked if there was anything I wanted him to bring back, I immediately asked for the book Etc. by Sibella Court.  I have loved Sibella's style since seeing her NY loft in a magazine a few years ago, and my love was further cemented by seeing the "Man Shops Globe" Sydney episode.  Martin said that her shop, The Society Inc., was in a bit of flux when he was there.  They are in the process of turning it into an old school hardware haberdashery - swoon!  I just think it's amazing the way that Sibella has taken her passion for collecting old things and turning it into her work.  I have that same passion, but my family and friends would just call my stuff "junk".

(Image from Society Inc. website.)


new year, new book

It's been ages since my last post.  After a very busy Christmas season, I just felt like relaxing with friends and family - far away from the internet.  But now, I'm back - and I wanted to show you some of my new work.  I have started making day planners - I worked with a very talented graphic designer to create the pages and bound them as little binders.  They sold really well at my shows, but I did have a few left that I just put up on Etsy.  There are a few designs available, but I think that the linen and twill is my favorite.

And, when you open it up, the endpapers have this cute bird/butterfly print - it looks like a vintage wallpaper.  The insides have blank spaces where you can write your own dates, so it's not too late to start planning!  Maybe I should start one so that I could be more organized and post on this blog on a regular basis. ( :

Have a happy new year filled with all the best things!  I will see you back in this space soon!