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Friday, November 30, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

magnolia & cedar: handmade christmas garlands.

i'm not exactly sure why i'm going batshit crazy for christmas this year, but it's happening wether i know the reason why or not. maybe part of me is preparing myself that this could be the last christmas we spend in this house. then again, we've been saying that to ourselves and out loud for the last few good years, so why should this year be any different? maybe i'm trying to learn how to make everything as best i can, so my dreams of one day owning a house worthy of being on a 'holiday house tour' can come true. or maybe it's just that i'm sick in the head. what i do know, is that i'm falling more & more in love with the way the house feels & smells, as each day creeps closer and closer to the 25th.

since pretty well the day we moved in, i have wanted to make a fresh greens garland for the banister on our staircase. but not just any staircase, the holy shit packages of all staircases -- the number one reason we i wanted the house in the first place, the prettiest feature of it and how it just begs to be draped and flanked in lush, lacy cedar and waxy, leathery magnolia. it's stately and detailed and deserves to be showcased as such. so this year, i finally had the energy and drive to make it happen, and pulled together the garland i have been dreaming about for the past four christmases. why in the fuck did i wait so long!?!

how we do: cedar & magnolia christmas garland
··· depending on the desired length of your garland ···

4 boughs of cedar
4 boughs of magnolia leaves
green floral wire
wire cutters
jute or twine
start by preparing your greens, removing elastics, tags and any damaged leaves. i wanted it to look natural, rustic and homey, so i choose to use cedar for it's delicateness and scent, and the magnolia because it's multifaceted with a shiny, polished, deep green top, and brown soft velvet underside, and because i love any excuse to have as much magnolia around me as often and humanly possible. once you have your greens ready to go, you can clip the branches into 6"-8" lengths. don't be too particular about how they look and that they are all uniform, it's the variation of each piece that will make the garland less formal and more interesting. using a piece of twine or a measuring tape, determine how long you need your garland beauty to be. don't be scurred, although a wee bit time consuming, this is no sweat.
once all your greens are ready to work with, you can begin assembling your garland. start by making a small poesy of greens, a few pieces of cedar and a branch or two of magnolia; the width and fullness of these bunches will determine how wide your finished garland will be. i wanted mine lush and full to compliment the staircase, so i was generous with the size of bundles i made, but if you want a thinner garland, make your bundles smaller, and try to be as consistent as you can. wire the branches of your bundle together, using a good amount of tension, but not so much that you cut through your branches. as your garland dries up over time, it shrinks and risks the chance of pieces slipping out, be sure you take the time to make everything as secure as possible. build your next bundle and lay it on top of the previous, almost like you are rolling it on to ensure they are even around, and wire together. this will form a chain with a definite top and bottom, easy to lay flat on a mantle, railing of a staircase or around your front door. continue until the garland is as long as you require.
once my garland was long enough, i flipped it over and fed 2' pieces of jute through the greens intermittently along the entire length, to be used to attach the garland to the staircase. be sure to leave long enough tails to go around the railings or handrail, and be tied off well. the garland will be heavier than you would think, and you want to make sure it is secured tightly to the staircase or wherever you are displaying it. trim off any excess twine and adjust your garland until it sits the way that makes you happiest -- i found that by tweaking it a little bit here and there, i could hide how it was attached, which cleaned everything up.
in the end it cost me $80 in materials and took a little over two hours to make, which would have been more than double the price had i paid someone to make it for me. you can reduce costs if you happen to have a healthy cedar bush on your property, (or on your neighbours and have no shame) and can cut it yourself, also making it less girthy (such a good word) would help. i have already decided that at our next home, i am paul is planting an evergreen forest somewhere on the property -- a nice mix of pine, cedar, boxwood, fir, hemlock, spruce and juniper. maybe even throw some holly bushes and birch trees in there for good measure; you never know what you might need if you finally get that fire lit under your ass to get up and make shit happen.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

my nail polish collection: it makes me happier than it should.

i think i may have a small problem serious complex. at first i though it was just a guilty pleasure -- grab a bottle of nail polish when my favourite brands went on sale, or pick up the newest shade of the season, but before i knew it, i ended up with more nail polish than any non-professional manicurist should, and i can't tell you how shit-myself-happy that makes me. since moving into our home, my collection has outgrown two makeup bags and a large travel cosmetic case, and because i couldn't bring myself to buy another bag, only to stuff it under the sink along with the rest of the little fuckers, i had to figure out a more efficient, organized plan. 

luckily, one day while perusing through one of my favourite blogs 'the dainty squid', the solution to my first world, girl dilemma was staring me in the face: a nail polish rack? like my own personal nail salon sans vietnamese nail girls talking about me in their own language so i don't know what the hell they're saying about me right in front of my face? amazing. by the way, i have totally called them out while they yammered away to each other as i sat there innocently getting my nails done, and they fully admitted they talk about customers, so don't think for a second they're not talking about little ol' you, because they totally are.
i placed an order through amazon to buy the exact same rack and waited not-so-patiently for it to arrive. within 13 minutes of having it in my house, the choice to hang it in my office/craft room/shit show was made and it was screwed into the wall. as i began the glorious task of organizing all the polishes from lightest to darkest for optimal convenience during the selection process, i shamefully pulled bottles out of that travel bag i haven't looked at since the day i purchased them. so pleased with my new, organized and beautifully displayed collection, i made paul admire it with me, only to be accused of being "disturbed for having this much polish" and "was i aware that almost all the colours look exactly the same?". it's a good thing i paint my nails for me and not for him, what do boys know anyway?

Monday, November 19, 2012

handmade christmas snow globes.

let's face it, when it comes to anthropologie, there is no denying the immense beauty that is every single item that graces the shelves of that friggen' store -- everything they sell could work perfectly in my home, on my person or as a gift. the only problem is, they charge a million dollars for pretty much every thing. sometimes you can get things on clearance, which means you'll spend a little less, but not enough that the temptation to recreate everything doesn't cross your mind a time or two. or three. or always. so when i saw these darling anthropolgie inspired snow globes on pinterest a few months back, i pinned them  as one of the projects i was definitely going to attempt this christmas season. simple and yet so sweet, they turned out even more beautiful than i had hoped for. i'm not sure if that's because they were so easy peasy, or because i made them with friends at our second 'craft club' night, but i am in love with them. i want to make 100 of them.
a few mason jars, some dollar store decorative bristle trees, regular everyday kitchen sugar, hot glue and voila, you have yourself a waterless snow globe, easy to change up if you wanted to. my favourite thing about our craft nights, besides the wine, is how we inspire each other as we work away. i like how we bounce ideas off of each other, and how a suggestion motivates a change in plans and before you know we all have the cutest small red felt hearts on our trees. they look lovely lined up on my window sill, clusterfucked on the fireplace mantle, or as a centrepiece on our dining room table. to create more of a cohesive piece, i clipped some cedar and pine from the park down the street, and laid it out on the table to create a "bed" for the snow globes. once i had them nestled in there, i spread out some pine cones i also collected at the park, and it came together perfectly. i give lennon four days before he has eaten all the greens and has every last pine cone scattered around the house.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

because it's beautiful.

{image via}

if you find yourself asking yourself
(and your friends)
'am i really a writer?'
'am i really an artist?'
chances are, you are.
the counterfeit innovator is wildy self confident.
the real one is scared to death.

--steven pressfield.

Friday, November 16, 2012

bahamas: lost in the light.

i love everything about this.
i love everything about the album.
canadian? check. makes me dance? check. beautiful facial hair? check.
makes me wanna make out in the back seat of our volkswagen? check.
happy friday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

around me.

a special gift wrapped & ready : oh! we're in full bloom.
the most beautiful vintage fan patterned quilt. sadly, not mine.
beard. lips. plaid. pooch. love.
my new favourite place setting: keys, feathers, lace & gold.
i love when she sticks her tongue out at me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

they say everything happens for a reason.

earlier this year i wrote about what i want to be when i grow up, and how i was struggling with the fact that i wasn't ready to say goodbye to my job and make the move. it's funny how things come full circle, how if you wish on it long enough, it happens for you when you least expect it. one week ago, 25 of my colleagues and i were called for a mandatory meeting where the vice president of the company i work for, stood in front of us to say "as of may 2013, this office is closing, your position is re-locating, and we have no idea where" and yes, it was just like that. without getting too much into detail, i have the choice to move with my position -- whether it's toronto, texas or tuktyuktuk, my job is still mine if i want it, and to be honest with you, it took me about 12 seconds to decide, that no, i don't want it. i'm good thanks.

that morning was opportunity presenting itself to me -- it showed up wearing a trench coat with nothing underneath and flashed its giant dink and balls at me for christ sakes.  it "made love" to me and then lit a cigarette and said "amanda, it's me, opportunity. i know you've been waiting for me for a long time, so take advantage of me while you can". because i would be an idiot not to, i plan on running with it, as fast as i can -- i'm not 100% sure what that means, or where i'm going with it, i just know it's not going to waste.

the part of me that's sad about all of this happening, is more for those i work with than it is for me. i hate to see anyone get put out of something they don't want to be put out of. i hate that my brother and his girlfriend are both going to have to make tough decisions and deal with the stress of all this. i hate that i won't get to see the people who have become my friends each day, and share this journey we are all on with them. but for all that, an even larger part of me feels like this happened to me for a reason. until now, i have always hated that saying "everything happens for a reason". what a cop out. what a sugar coated way of saying "well, it looks like you're fucked, so we're just gonna pretend something better is coming your way, and that should help shed some light on the shitty situation you're in".

you miscarried? "well, everything happens for a reason".
your spouse cheated on you 100 times? "well, everything happens for a reason".
you lost your job? "well, everything happens for a reason".

i believe that everything doesn't necessarily happen for a reason, rather everything just happens. the reason is what you make of it. what you and you alone decide to do with the information you are given and how you choose to move forward. i want to be told straight up: yeah, you got dealt a balls hand, and now you have to deal with it. it's no one's responsibility to figure things out for me, and i am fully prepared to make some major decisions. since last week my mind has been constantly reeling with the options ahead of me. for my sanity, i began writing everything down in a journal, and what i have discovered, what the exciting thing is, it's the same ideas i keep coming back to. it's the same few dream jobs i keep re-visiting, and the fact that the dream is becoming a reality is really exciting.

the thing that has gotten me through the sadness in all of this, is the reassurance i have received from family, friends, and even more from paul. from the moment i told him what had happened, he has been nothing but positive, encouraging and excited for me. he wants me to move into the next chapter of my life, where i can be who i am intended to be, and do what makes me happiest, and the best part is, the very best part, is that he wants to be by my side as i figure out what the hell that is.

i will not die an unlived life.
i will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
i choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid, more accessible,
to loosen my heart until it becomes 
a wing, a torch, a promise.
i choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which comes to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which comes to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
 --dawn markova

Friday, November 09, 2012

young the giant: strings.

it's friday, which means tomorrow is saturday.
a special birthday saturday taboot.
so i'm in my kitchen, decorating cupcakes,
and in my dining room wrapping gifts.
 all the while, listening to young the giant.
they make me happier than i already am.

Monday, November 05, 2012

this weekend was...

sometimes you need to tell your friends they have to cancel their weekend trip to montreal, because you are coming to visit them. you need to email them or call them or whatever it is you do, and tell them you are crashing their plans and making them spend time with you -- whether it's you who needs the time away, or your friend, or most likely both, every once in a while, it needs to be done. the last time i was in toronto was at the end of august, when i was able to spend a perfect day on toronto island with a special friend. although we were staying at neena's, i didn't get to spend as much time with her as i wanted, and had been itching to make it back up to her pretty one bedroom apartment ever since. so i did.
when neena first told me she was making the 'big city girl' move to toronto, i was selfishly not happy about it. i wasn't in love with the idea of her moving away from me and our other friends, and that i would have less time with her -- we had made it a habit to see each other several times a week, including lots of sleepovers and late nights crafting, fully getting down with our creative selves. it's inevitable with her, she has this incredible way of making that little feeling in my gut stand at attention like a tiny 'creative boner' and i can't help but want to do something productive and inspiring with it. what i was too selfish to see before, is so clear now, being immersed somewhere she can fully be and express herself, doing what she loves day in a day out, only makes the thing i find most amazing about neena, even more, well, amazing. it has grown into a very incredible part of her, and if i can have a little of that rub off onto me when i see her once a month, i'll take it. 
this weekend was not montreal, but it was...

walks through neighbourhoods filled with perfect old dream homes.
 sunshine through vibrant red japanese maples.
sharing the best french onion soup at the pub we didn't want to go in.
 dancing on a packed dance floor to motown hits while 'soul train' played on the screen.
going for 2am white russians with maraschino cherries, served by a cute boy with dimples for days.
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