Friday, June 8, 2012

Wedding Shadowboxes

I finally finished my wedding shadowboxes! I have literally had these on the go for over two years. I originally bought the shadowboxes on clearance at Michaels. They were the kind with the two panes of glass, for pressing flowers or butterflies or whatever, and they were on clearance. I don't think Michaels carries that type any more! And they were black! I didn't like the black, it showed too many marks and fingerprints, and just looked cheap to me. But it took me a long time to decide what exactly to do with them. When we were living in Vancouver, I had them full of stuff from our wedding, but wasn't happy with how they were looking so I wasn't ready to "put them together" so to speak. Also, I hadn't figured out what to do with the glass - should I keep it between panes of glass, or should I try something different? And then I was really stumped. I had no idea what to do with them or how to make it work. I wasn't even sure what to use to attach everything to the inside.

And then we moved to Niagara Falls. I packed them up, wrapped in paper, with all the little mementos stuffed inside. There was WAY too much stuff in each of them, and some of it was just silly, like a bar of soap from our resort in Mexico! And then they sat here for nearly two years. But in the meantime, I got my current job and have trained in custom framing, so now I know all sorts of little tricks for dressing them up!

First of all, I decided to spray paint the frames a gloss white. I did this in the garage on a windy day and didn't have great results, but it's not too noticable I don't think.

I finally decided to scrap the idea of sandwiching the items between glass. I didn't want to see my wall behind them. So I bought a sheet of foam board (on sale for $2 I think) and cut two pieces the size of my frame (8 x 10). Foam board can be annoying to cut, let me know if you want to know how best to do that. At this point, I also checked to make sure my foam board fit, and had to trim it a bit in a few places.

I lined the inside edges of the frame and one side of the foam board with scrapbook paper. The scrapbook paper is acid free, so it won't damage any of the pictures or anything. Obviously all of the objects themselves aren't acid free, and items like the flower will decompose, but at least I know the paper won't contribute to it or make it worse. I used an adhesive dot roller and zots to attach the paper to the inside edges and to the foam board.

Then I layed everything out on the scrapbook paper lined foamboard and decided on what to keep, what to scrap, and how to lay it all out. This is obviously the most important step and for me, was the most time consuming.

Once I had it all figured out, I used the zots and the dot roller to attach everything where I wanted it. Then I layed out the shells and other items on the inside edges of the shadowbox, and used zots to keep them there. Very carefully I slid the foamboard into place in the back of the frame. Because of the size of it, and the snug fit, I'm not too worried about keeping it in place, but there are little things to hold it in place, as with other frames.

I may still buff up the edges and make it look a little more worn (as the paint is a bit rough looking in some places, and sparse in others). And, I may put some craft paper over the back, just to seal it up and prevent dust from getting in. But neither of those are in my immediate to-do list.

Anyways, it is SUCH a relief to finally get this project finished after thinking about it for so long!! Do you have any projects "on-the-go" for multiple years, or something that's hanging around because you just can't decide what to do with it??

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


We've been talking about getting a cat for years, but I have been really hesitant. I'm allergic to some cats; they stuff me up, make me sneeze, and make my eyes red and itchy. They're an added responsibility I wasn't sure I wanted. Having to figure out what to do with the cat when we go away, disciplining a kitten - teaching it not to eat plants and jump on the counters. Cats sometimes bite, scratch, and get into things they shouldn't. Their litter boxes smell, they scratch the furniture, they throw up. If it's an outside cat it'll scare away all the birds or eat them, or worse still, leave them dead on the doorstep for us! And what if the cat doesn't like us, or doesn't like me?! Have you ever lived with a miserable cat? Not pleasant. I can remember having to jump over the last four stairs to go downstairs to my bedroom when we had a cat that I don't think liked people, or at least he didn't like me. Every time I walked past him he'd attack my ankles, hissing, teeth and claws at the ready..

But Ian is a cat person. So we got oursevles a kitten.

It was the best darn decision we've made yet.

I'm gonna get it...
Sitting pretty.

I'd like to get up there please..

When you rub my belly, I simply melt..

Sooo very sleepy...

Where'd that cursor go?

Darn paparazzi, I'm trying to sleep here!

Please stop taking my photo.

What? You weren't using it.

Jackets go in closets, not on the back of couches!
You mean this isn't a kitty tanning bed?

Well hallo, what's your name??

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Turning 30

As my 31st birthday approached, I was thinking about how I got so "okay" with being 30...

18th Birthday
By the time I hit my mid-twenties, I was dreading the big 3-0. Every year became like a countdown to "the end" or something, like a ticking time bomb. I was feeling disappointed and frustrated with my life. I had always thought that by the time I was 30 I would be settled down, have a great career, a husband, children, and have everything pretty much figured out, you know?

But in those last five years of my twenties, I started realizing that my life really isn't like my parents' and grandparents' were. We are living in different times. And those people that I thought seemed to have everything figured out by 30? I started taking a really good look at their lives, and realized they didn't really have anything figured out either, and weren't any better off than me! What they did have, I wasn't ready for yet, or maybe didn't want at all!

30th Birthday
By the time my 30th birthday arrived, I was actually really looking forward to my thirties. I hadn't figured life out in my twenties so I'm looking forward to exploring it more in my thirties! And I've realized that life is what I make it. The only timeline I'm on is my own, the pressures I put on myself are exactly that - put on myself by me, and I've chosen to remove them. I have the rest of my life to "figure things out." What fun would life be if I really had it all worked out by 30?! The peace I've found in this realization has left me way more relaxed and able to just enjoy the ride!!! So enjoy your ride, thirty's not so bad!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I've talked a bit about what I'm thankful for, and what I've done in my life. Lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what makes me happy.

Things that make me happy:
  • Ian, of course!
  • My mom
  • My sister
  • good friends (Lyn, Brit, Cindy, to name a few!)
  • baking cookies or muffins
  • eating cookies or muffins
  • running
  • facials
  • laughing
  • wine
  • good books
  • tea
  • sweaters
  • blankets
  • scarves
  • sunshine
  • autumn
  • hiking, especially in autumn
  • summer
  • the smell of rain
  • the smell of winter
  • sunshine on a snowy winter day
  • the beach - sand, water, sun
  • being crafty and creative - painting, drawing, writing, etc...
  • my wedding scrapbook - working on it and enjoying it now that it's finished
  • a very special secret project I'm working on
  • being appreciated
  • helping people
  • babies, of nearly any variety (who can resist a puppy face?)
  • hugs
  • children - most of them anyways..
  • sunrise. I used to love watching the sunrise from my classroom window; it would send long golden streaks of light across the chalkboard. Not sure why this was so beautiful to me, but it was such a moment of peace before a busy day...
  • Christmas trees
  • music
  • dancing
  • being productive
  • watching the birds
What makes you happy?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Library Book Sale

This past weekend we stopped by the local library book sale. I wasn't really planning on going (I wanted to go, but last summer we stocked up on three banana boxes of used books at a local book store that was closing. Each box was only $10 and you could pile them pretty much as high as you wanted, as long as you could still carry it out.) Anyways, point being, I still haven't even gotten close to finishing all of those books. But when the local library sent out their notice last week that they were having a book sale, my initial reaction was "YIPPEE! Let's go!!!" And then I remembered about all the books I have yet to read and thought, well it won't kill me not to go. But as it so happened, Ian wanted to sign a book out of the library on Sunday, and the only branch that was open was the branch that was hosting the book sale! So I said "Oh SURE we can go to the library right when you pick me up from work! I don't mind at all! Oh, and do you mind if I just pop into the book sale for a minute..?"

Ha! Less than an hour later we had completely overfilled our library bag (the Sunday special was "fill a library bag for $6." We filled it, no problem!)

Here are our treasures! I got a good stack of fiction (the first, tallest stack), one of which I think I actually might already have, and two of which I couldn't remember if I'd read or not. The middle stack is Ian's stack of wine and beer brewing finds. The third stack is a variety of non-fiction finds, including two painting books, a home repair book, a kitchen design book, an interior decorating book, two cook books, and another special find I'll talk more about in a minute.
Actually, I cheated a bit there on the fiction stack. The top three are technically non-fiction, although there seems to be some debate as to how much is actually real. They are three books by Emily Carr (the painter), considered to be autobiographical, but read much like a story. I've already finished one of them (Pause by Emily Carr) and I LOVED it! I couldn't put it down! It's stories from her time at a TB Sanatorium, "the San", in England (she was sent there to rest, not because she had TB) and her descriptions of the nurses, the doctors, the patients, the scenery, are so vivid. It was one of those books that plays like a film in your mind. It also includes a variety of sketches, one of which I swear has my dad's name on it! Weird!! I think it would make a very interesting movie, but the end was a bit sad actually. Actually, much of it was a bit sad. How could it not be, set in TB sanatorium? The other two books by her include "The Heart of  Peacock" and "The Book of Small." I absolutely love her paintings, I had no idea she was a writer too. I should pay closer attention. 

This is Ian's collection of wine and beer books. There's also a book about honey in there, but I included it in his brewing pile because he's interested in honey because he wants to make mead. Brewing then.

This next one was a pretty exciting find. Ian and I both like "ethnic" foods, for lack of a better word. We love trying food from different countries and have really enjoyed making them at home ourselves. We've made Indian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Polish, Italian, middle Eastern, Greek, Scandinavian, etc.! So I thought we could have some fun with this "Round-The-World Cookbook." It wasn't until we got it home and I took a closer look that I realized it included travel comments for each included country, and if you can see the tiny blue print in the top right corner it says "recipes gathered by Pan American Airways from 81 countries they serve". Now I'm seriously excited! I've been loving the new series "Pan Am", and of course "Mad Men" when I've been able to catch it. We're thinking we may pick a country each month and try at least one recipe from that country every week. That might make a fun blog, too!

This last one might be the neatest, because it looks like it could have the most value of any of them. Used, they start at about $10 (and up to $50) on Amazon, which is kinda neat because we didn't pay that much for the whole bag of books. Maybe I'll consider selling it when I've read through it. A number of months ago I started making some fascinator type hair pins, and was wondering about hat-making, or millinery. I figured it can't be that hard, depending on what kind of hat you were making.. So when I saw this book, I flipped through the pages and it actually looks pretty good, so I thought I'd bring it home and take a closer look. I love hats! As far as I'm concerned, hats and gloves should make a major come-back.

Here are a few samples from within the book. They're pretty cute, particularly if you use updated material. I'll keep you posted if I try my hand at any of them!

Have you ever been to a library book sale, or similar? What are your favourite used book finds?

Have you been to Powell's City of Books in Portland? If you love books and you haven't been there yet, you're seriously missing out! It's like book-lovers Mecca! Of course they have a website (here), but visiting the bookstore is like visiting book paradise, I'm telling you. It goes on forever, filling the whole block and apparently several buildings! You go in one room, thinking that's it, but when you get to the other side you realize there's a door into another room; or you go around a corner and there's some weird staircase up to another level. It's a fantastic place, and I could easily spend a whole day there!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My List

I was reading The Pioneer Woman this morning, and she has a list of things she's never done. And I thought "How interesting! My list would be very long! I wonder how many things I've actually 'checked off" my list.." So I sat down on OneNote, my go-to place for jotting down thoughts, lists, and organizing ideas, etc., and I started writting my list of "things I've never done." I know I've written a list of things I want to do before I die, and I was trying to think of things that were on that list. Now I'm not sure if my priorities have changed, or if I've done so many of the things I wanted to do, but my list didn't end up being very long! Of the things I've never done, several of them are rather broad (like visiting England, France, Ireland, Australia, etc.), and renovating a house (beyond the paint and repairs we've been tackling in our current house). The travelling is one that I'm sure I'll be working on for the rest of my life, and I'm okay with that! I'd also like to go on a train trip, and a hot air balloon ride (although I'll have to work up the nerve for that one!) Of all of them, the most meaningful thing I haven't done yet is have children. I'd like to work a bit more on the travelling and the renovating before I start on the baby chapter of life. But at 30, I am aware that my time is a bit more limited now than it was at 20. Hopefully within a few years I'll be ready for that.

But I think the most important thing I realized is all of the things I have done! When I couldn't think of anything else to add to the list of things I've never done, I started writting a list of things I have done in my 30 years! Had you asked me an hour ago, I would have said I haven't done much; I've spent much of the last 30 years "waiting for my real life to begin." But in retrospect, thinking of the things I'd like to do in my life, I've got a darn good start, and I've been incredibly lucky.

I have:
Danced in the rain, truely. I soaked it all in.

Faced my fear of heights: Looked "over the edge" countless times with my husband holding my hand, been up the CN tower, the Seattle Space Needle, the Skylon Tower, the Minolta Tower, been on the SkyWheel, and been over the Capilano Suspension bridge.
(Me "enjoying" the view from the CN Tower, circa 2000?)
Seen Niagara Falls
Been to Disney Land
Sewed clothes for myself
Went to University, and graduated, twice
(BA graduation 2004, with my brother and sister)
Drank wine with my Grandmother
Swam in a pool, a river, a lake, and an ocean
Made sand castles
Baked and cooked up a storm!
Been to Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland)
(Kissed a troll in Oslo)
Ate reindeer (not sure if I should brag about that, but really it's the same as caribou, right?) 
Been snorkeling
Been scuba diving (in a pool)
Run a 5KM race
Been to Ottawa (This wouldn't have actually been on my list at all, until I did it and LOVED Ottawa!)
Been on a road trip to California, twice, down the coast of course 
 (Taken a picture with my honey on the pier in Santa Barbara at sunset)
Lived in a small town, two small cities, and a big city (Vancouver)

Knit a scarf
Painted a picture and hung it on my wall (I have four on display now and several "in the works")

Moved 'away from home'
Driven from BC to Ontario
(Taken a tourist snapshot with the Moose in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan!)

Taught elementary school
Been a Brownie leader
Met the man of my dreams (corny, I know, but so true!)
Bought a car
Got married in Mexico, on the beach
 (Kissin' in the sand on the beach, post ceremony)
Bought a house
Researched my family tree

Worked in a framing department (several months ago I actually said to Ian that I would like to learn framing, and in some weird twist of fate, I found the opportunity presented itself when I least expected it!)
Cooked turkey dinner for my family
Started a home-based business

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it has given me a real appreciation for what I've had, and for what I have now. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves how lucky we are, and today I realized how truely blessed I have been. I have a very long list of things I've done, and even more important is the list of people I have had in my life! I was blessed with an amazing family, an incredible husband, and phenomenal friends. It's funny how much the other stuff doesn't matter when you think about what does.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A modest update

I nearly cut my finger off at the beginning of July. I had a splint on for nearly 10 weeks. I can no longer bend that finger. I don't know what that means for the future of said finger.

I started working at a large and well known craft store part-time.

Ian will be starting a new job in 2 weeks, nearly an hour away. It's actually almost his old job. It's for the same company he worked for in Vancouver, doing basically the same thing, just in a new place. It's the job he dreamed of doing for years. It's one of the reasons we moved here. It just took a lot longer than expected to pan out.

We will now be buying a second vehicle. As Ian will be working so far away, I won't be able to drive him to work on days I want to use the car, and the transit system here really isn't that good. Also, on days he stays at work late, I don't want to get stuck at work, particularly in the winter.

I will also be expanding my job search to the school district in the city Ian will be working in, and also, the next district over. Best case scenario, I find work out that way too and we either rent this house out, or sell it, and move there.

I enjoy writing, and I enjoy sharing my projects, so I would like my blog to continue. However, I don't want the focus of my blog to be on the struggles and negative aspects of life - so if I can't find the positive side of something, or the humour in it, it is probably best left for a "diary", rather than a public post like this. So that will be my goal for the future of the blog. Please feel free to send me an ol' comment "kick in the pants" to remind me not to focus on the negative. Not that I won't mention things that aren't happy (like almost losing a finger), I'll just try not to focus on them more than once in a while!