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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

easter thangs.

mini eggs aka straight up crack : freesia in vintage turquoise hobnail.
pastel polka dots : birds nest cupcakes for easter themed birthday celebrating.
beautiful pink potted hydrangeas.
fresh easter place settings : finished mantle complete with apothecary jars & fleurs.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

quick & dirty easter egg garland.

i love when something as simple as strung pastel plastic easter eggs can make an entire space feel festive and cheery. for $4 and 20 minutes of my time, i was able to pull together a sweet garland that brings some much needed spring into our dining room. i plan on making one to flank the entrance way to our living room and tie the two rooms together.

how we do: quick & dirty easter egg garland.
you will need:
1 bag of plastic easter eggs -- approximately 50 eggs
yarn in a colour that works with your eggs
large eye needle
whenever you're making a garland, it's probably a good idea to measure that shit out before you start working away -- no need to get carried away with a 35' garland when your mantle or doorway or whatever you're working on only needs to be 8' (i'm only sharing from experience). i chose to alternate the colours as i strung them along, but you could also group like colours to form a rainbow pattern, or cluster colours in 2's or 3's, whatever blows your hair back. to hang the garland i tied off an 8" length of yarn at each end and one in the middle to create the swag effect, and washi taped them to the mantle.
simple & sweet. quick & dirty.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

see what happens to your life.

{image via}

i first saw this piece a few weeks ago while scrolling through fuck yeah yoko ono, which is my second favourite 'fuck yeah' tumblr page next to fuck yeah anais nin -- wow, that's a lot of fuck yeah's. as part of an art installation she exhibited in 1996 it stopped me dead in my tracks, and i had to read and then re-read it several times before i felt like my head was wrapped around it. it's something every person on this planet could benefit from, which is why i have been thinking about it since the first time i read it. 

i'm not saying i can do this, in fact i think i would say something negative by noon the first day 
(most likely about myself), but that's not a good enough excuse to not give it a try. 
with a promise like that, how could i not take the opportunity to see what happens?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

savannah tall cake.

after convincing a coworker to have a few friends over for dinner this weekend, the least i could do was bring a delicious dessert. i wanted to do something that was fresh and light as we were having an authentic indonesian meal that would be several courses and very filling, but after a fair search i gave up on trying to choose a traditional indonesian dessert, and decided this recipe by paula deen for what she calls a 'savannah tall cake' would be a perfect alternative. considering they're not even close to in season, we managed to snag some really fresh strawberries that were fully ripe and super sweet, and with the addition of cream cheese vanilla whipped cream and a super moist sponge, everything came together to create a dessert that was super tasty as well as really pretty, which is just as important if you ask me.

note: because this is a paula deen recipe, it's the farthest thing from health conscious. that being said, i decided to forgo the third layer that makes this a cake large enough to serve 8 people, and went with just 2 -- there were 6 of us and we had enough cake for 8 anyways. 
paula you're an animal!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

a portrait of oma.

as a child my mom decided she needed a creative outlet to help her relax and relieve the stresses of everyday life, so she began taking tole painting classes and continued to do so for a number of years. each week she would attend class with her bag of supplies; a blue canvas bag filled with brushes, spatulas, dotting tools and every colour of 'folkart' acrylic paint you could think of, and i can remember sitting in the basement going through all her art supplies and organizing the paint colours in order from my favourite to least favourite. in between classes she would sit at the dining room table with the french doors closed, and paint away for hours on end. however not long after her first class, it became clear that the hobby she began as an attempt to decompress, brought forth a different kind of stress she we hadn't anticipated (needless to say a glass of wine was added to her list of "supplies"). however she stuck to it, swore a whole lot, and painted several really beautiful pieces that still decorate my parents home to this day. so it's easy to see where my interest to paint stems from.
from the moment i picked up the paintbrush and started blending colours, right to the very last stroke of my signature, i loved everything about working on this painting. choosing what to paint was the easiest decision of the process, made when i discovered this portrait of my oma taken by my opa sometime in the 1950's. i love every last detail of the photograph from her pearl necklace and beautiful smile from behind her cateye glasses, to the blush pink dress and how it's darted along the bust, and the farm fencing along the very backyard i spent many summers playing in behind her, i instantly knew it had to be the first thing i attempted to paint on canvas.

now i am by no means an artist -- i don't know what to use and when, and i sure as hell don't know how or why, but somehow this came together exactly how i pictured it in my mind. working in stages over a span of 3 sessions i spent a total of 25 hours at the dining room table (sounding familiar?), the record player on, simply delighted the entire time. from the sketching process to colour blocking and then finally into the details i learned the importance of taking my time, stepping away when things became worthy of screaming fuck at the top of my lungs (again, deja vu?) and knowing when enough was enough. i wanted the painting to be simple & clean, bold & colourful, and closely resemble the original photograph without being exact -- but most importantly i wanted it to look and feel like oma.
i battled with the fact that certain aspects of the photo couldn't translate into paint with my lack of experience, so for my sanity i made executive decisions to change her glasses and necklace. from the photo it's hard to tell her eye colour, but i know that in real life they have always been the most beautiful turquoise blue, so i felt it was necessary to include that special detail. painting her lips was by far my favourite detail to work on -- not only for choosing the colours and building the shape, but for how much character and life it brought to the painting. for my first attempt, i have to say i'm thrilled with how the final product turned out, and it has definitely sparked the desire in me to keep painting. my goal is to fill our home with things we love and make us happy, and to be able to do that with unique, handmade pieces only tickles my pickle further. 
i plan on bringing the painting with me the next time i visit oma, and i'm interested to see the reaction she has. i'm curious if her incredible 91 year old mind will instantly know it's a painting of her, or if she'll struggle with the memory of it all. a part of me believes she sadly just won't make the connection, which is completely understandable and totally fine by me. but a bigger part, the romantic part, can't help but think that anytime she was photographed by opa is a memory that lives inside her heart as well as her mind, and is one that will never leave her.

Monday, March 18, 2013

camera bag love: a jo totes review.

the reason i feel the need to share this purchase stems solely from the fact that i spent a good 2 years searching for the perfect camera bag, and am over the moon with my final decision to purchase a jo totes bag, specifically the 'gracie mint' design. if you have also been on the hunt for a bag that meets all your camera needs and is almost too cute to actually be considered a functional camera bag, then your search is over my friend. for what's it worth, here's a wee review of the product.

i'm going to start with the negatives because i only have one: it wasn't in my possession within seconds of purchasing it online. seriously, that's it. to be fair it reached my door within 2 weeks of placing my order, and in my opinion is totally fair. with my winter coat and boots still on, i ripped that baby open and had it unpacked and covered in my drool within moments of getting home. paulie and the animals didn't get so much as a kiss hello or acknowledgement of their being present and alive until i had the chance to squeal like an idiot in front of them, and model my new favourite thing like we were in paris during fashion week and not the ghetto of welland on a thursday evening with wheel of fortune on. it's so pretty, i want to make it my everyday purse and never leave home without it. i guess that's technically a positive, but the fact that it's so beautiful and so much like a purse that paul will never carry it in public for me, turns that shit 
right back around into a negative. le sigh.
as for the positives? basically anything you could expect from a camera bag. the colour is just as lovely as pictured on the website, and is perfect for the spring & summer, and even into the winter if you ask me. i wanted something with a pop of colour that i could wear year-round, and wasn't just a neutral like brown or black (don't be fooled by my anti-neutral tone, i totally want this bag to be mine, all mine). the bag comes with 2 adjustable straps, which makes it easy to wear across your chest or as a normal purse over your shoulder. it also comes with adjustable interior pads so you can organize the layout to your liking, as opposed to a pre-made insert. i have mine configured so i am able to keep 2 lenses as well as my camera with a lens attached snug as a bug with room to spare, but you could easily fit 2 more lenses if you had to. the outside pockets are perfect for my phone, keys, notepad and lip chap, and my wallet slips into the zippered pouch like a dream. and that's my two cents, for what it's worth.

Friday, March 15, 2013

setting goals & stickin' to em'.

at the beginning of the year, i set a few simple goals for myself : read more, take better care of my skin, and try something new each month. it sounds easy, because well, it is and it's amazing how much you can make it a priority to complete your goals, when you make a plan and write that shit out. trying something new each month was a sure fire way to experience as much as i can at this stage of my life, 
and to be perfectly honest, it's become my favourite goal. 

in january i made my first dirty martini at home, and i haven't stopped whipping these bad boys up since! i used to think coming home to a glass of wine was the best way to unwind from a long day, but sippin' on a dirty with 3 olives waiting for me at the bottom like a delicious finish line while cooking dinner, has changed my life. ok. maybe not my life. in february i thought of the cheesiest thing i could do for valentine's day, and sent a surprise something to paulie's office for the first time. i was a bit worried he'd get super embarrassed and turn so red he'd melt into a pile of beard and cute smile and plaid, but he shared them with his work friends and told me that as sweet as it was, 
it better not become a habit.
this month, i'm upping the ante and i'm fucking painting something! and not just any something, but an on canvas, painted with brushes and acrylic paint, near and dear to my heart something. about a month ago, i got the idea in my head, and have spent the last few weeks convincing myself to just go for it. 3 weeks ago i purchased all my supplies and then hid them away in fear in a corner of my workroom. 2 weeks ago i pulled it all out, stared at it, and then hid it away again. after a bit of support and encouragement from lisa, a lovely coworker of mine who is a crazy talented artist in several mediums especially paint, i found the balls to get started. this week has been spent planning, outlining, and actually starting to paint the first stages of my piece. my nerves got the best of me, and it came as a wee bit of a surprise. 

i normally tackle new things tits first; i like to skip the directions and instructions, get my hands dirty and just try shit out. the more i try to figure it out before i actually start working on it, the less likely i am to succeed, however this time around, i was much too scared to just pick up the brush and get at it. like any accomplished artist in history, i 'youtubed' tutorials, scoured pinterest for style and aesthetic techniques and consulted with lisa more times than i care to admit (lisa you're an effin' peach!). i shocked myself by the amount of prep & planning i was putting  into this project, and even more by how much it has paid off -- only 1/3 of the way complete, i am really proud of my progress thus far! the time flies as i work away, and i end up falling asleep dreaming of mixing colours and choosing brushes -- the excitement of watching the painting unfold before me into the image i have in my mind is beyond comprehension. of course i'm documenting the progress, and will be sure to share once i have it just how i want it. in the meantime, you can find me in one of paulie's old plaid-shirts-turned-painting-smock, in the dining room, supplies sprawled before me, sippin' a dirty and just painting my little heart out.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

one of those march days.

"it was one of those march days
when the sun shines hot
and the wind blows cold:
when it is summer in the light,
and winter in the shade."
-- charles dickens.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

30 by 30 hollandaise bidness.

when i set out to write my 30 by 30 list, i decided it needed a good combination of easily attainable items like organizing my craft supplies, as well as some difficult-ish tasks like perfecting hollandaise sauce, in order to make it feel like the success i wanted it to be. i fell in love with eggs benny a little over 2 years ago, and have ordered it every time i've gone out for breakfast ever since. it's rich, luxurious and incredibly tasty, so learning how to make it at home was a no brainer. now i'm not sure about you, but in our house we do all the cooking together, and as much as i wish we were equals in the kitchen, i am very clearly paulie's sous chef -- i chop, prep and get him this or that, i taste as he goes and clean up behind him as he makes a disaster out of our 4' by 8' kitchen. but at the end of the day i'm happy to have this job considering what that boy pulls together is always without fail beautiful, delicious, and worth the work. besides, in my opinion, not a whole lot in this world is sexier than your man in the kitchen, cooking you a meal, i'll tell you that. and with all that said, we fucking perfected hollandaise sauce baby!

how we do: perfectly perfected hollandaise sauce
{makes enough for two}
prep time: 5 minutes
cook time: 5 minutes

you will need:
1/3 cup of melted butter
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon water
salt & pepper to taste

to be quite honest it took us almost 2 hours to prepare this meal, and the fact that we didn't kill each other in the process is a true testament of our commitment to perfecting hollandaise (and to each other i guess, but definitely more to the sauce). we had seen a few recipes online and in some of our favourite cook books, and with a terrible first attempt (today and a few in the past), we learned from our mistakes and are confident we now have this recipe by the balls.
in a small bowl (we used a pyrex dish, but any glass or stainless bowl will work) combine 4 egg yolks and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, whisking together to allow it to thicken up. melt 1/3 cup of butter in the microwave for 45 seconds or on the stove, however you prefer. if you have a double boiler (which we don't) you're golden, if not you can make your own by using a small pot (one that the pyrex/glass bowl will sit on nicely) filled with enough water that once boiling, it will not touch the bottom of your bowl -- if it does your bowl will get too hot, you'll end up cooking the eggs and everything will go caca. 

before setting the bowl on the pot, scoop out 1 tablespoon of the boiling water and whisk it into your yolks and lemon juice, this warms up the mixture and gently introduces it to the heat. while constantly whisking the mixture, begin adding the melted butter a tablespoon at a time, ensuring it is fully incorporated before adding the next spoonful until all the butter is combined. continue whisking for 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens to a smooth, creamy consistency. remove the bowl from the heat (still whisking all the while) and incorporate 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard and salt & pepper to taste. the dijon gives it a nice kick, so if you're loving that feel free to add more -- 
we will be doing so next time for sure.
we choose to use the sauce over eggs benedict made with toasted english muffins, thinly sliced smoked salmon, spinach sauteed in butter and a perfectly poached egg, but you can stick to the classics and use peameal/canadian bacon instead of the salmon and spinach. a side of cajun spiced home fries and fried fresh tomatoes and let me tell you somethin': after 4 solid failed attempts at hollandaise sauce in our kitchen, today was nothin' but pats on the back and a few fuck yeahs.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

my everyday.

fresh & beautiful.
a lovely birthday breakfast at home. note, tit creamer.
some shoulder action for ya : most handsome man.
the best $50 bucks i ever spent.
da bebe loves our new chair : a birthday gift wrap job by paulie.

Monday, March 04, 2013

what i know at 29. and it ain't a whole lot.

 {image via}

having turned another year older this past weekend, i feel the value in these words more than ever.
because birthdays bring with them reflection, evaluation and goal setting, i can't help but make note.
this much i know is true:

* i never feel more "me" than when i am with my family & closest friends.

* creativity is the marrow of life.

* life is far too short to give up completely the things that make me happiest; food, wine and getting into trouble to name a few.

* the only form of exercise i don't actually despise, is dancing. i can go all night.

* for as much control of my life as i want to be in, none of it is up to me. not a damn thing.

* waking up with my animals cuddled under the covers next to me will never stop feeling as good as it does. 

* nothing clears my heart & head like being in the woods. i physically yearn for it.

* days off when i'm all alone have become a very important part of my life. i look forward to that time, and never take 
for granted how much i have come to learn about myself. 

* it's perfectly ok to not wear makeup everyday. in fact. it makes the times when i do, that much fancier.

* being part of a 10 year old love, i have come to terms with the fact that in relationships (specifically in your partner) not all expectations are going to be met. age has brought me the wisdom to know that i am the one who makes the decision on which expectations are essential, and have chosen to let the rest go. i refuse to spend precious moments wishing for something to happen that never will, or for someone to be something they are not. instead, i embrace what my partner brings to the table, and learn from the beauty in that -- to have not only met, but to have fallen in love with someone who gives that to me every day, far exceeds any expectation i could have ever set.

* i am thankful for this happy life each day, and firmly believe it's the reason i have it.

* you're never too old for tequila shots.
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