Wednesday, May 2, 2012

life lately

Why hello again, everyone. I think I have finally returned to the blogging world, and will hopefully be posting on a more regular basis.  Life has been a whirlwind lately -- the wedding is only five months away, and it's truly amazing how many small details rear their heads and make you go berserk: hunting for just the right makeup shades, deciding what kind of flowers I want, figuring out just how many of those tulle bows you'll actually need.  Sometimes it feels a little silly, but I'm excited nonetheless!  I've been running some drama workshops in a nearby school, and getting ready for yet another busy production week!  Another job has also made itself known, and I'll be investigating that further later in the week.  All in all, there have been a lot of things that made me think Man, this would be a great post! but there never are enough hours in the day, are there?  I also got tagged in an "eleven questions post", which will arrive on the blog soon!  In the meantime, I thought I'd post a few pictures of the last few weeks, because the blog needs a little visual interest at the moment.

I turned twenty-two on April 28th! It was fun times, and my mom made a delicious chocolate and vanilla mousse cake.

Doesn't Shawn make you just want to take a nap?  I think he must be the World's Most Comfortable Dog.

This adorable pooch is Oakley.  He belongs to our neighbours.  I think he spends the majority of his time wishing he could come over and play with Pip -- properly that is.  They always run up and down the fence together.

A lazy day for Pip.  Warm blankets and cuddles with his Grandpa Smurf.  We didn't even arrange this photo, which is the best part.

Spring has arrived!  I love seeing the blossoms starting on the trees, and the super fat robins waddling about on the lawn.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

i am not dead.

I promise that I am still present in the blogosphere, and that I am, in fact, alive.  Real posts are on the way!

In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a mama llama and her almost-brand-new baby llama. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

colourful february

Even when February is mild, like ours has been (for the most part), the colours are always so drab and depressing.  At its best, the grass is soggy, brown, and yellow.  There is mud everywhere.  No leaves, no flowers.  Leftover slush.  In other words, yuck.  At least it's not blizzarding, I suppose.  In any case, I thought I'd bring a splash (literally) of colour into our lives this February, with a few shots from an experiment my younger brother showed us. Basically, you take a bowl of milk, drop in some food colouring, add a little dish soap in the middle, and voila, a beautiful swirly pattern is formed.  It even looked nice when we dumped it all out!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

a smashing good time

I am a memory collecting addict.  Yes, I am one of those people who keeps almost everything I pick up -- generally paper things though.  Business cards from artists, pamphlets and brochures, tickets from concerts, plays, and movies.  I kept the majority of the notes passed to me in boring high school classes, photobooth pictures, letters from penpals, Valentines from friends and my brothers that harken back to the '90s.  I'm also a journaler, and even though there are those inevitable gaps of a month or two here and there, I've regularly journaled since eighth grade, making that...about eight years.  There are a few problems with this though.  The first is that I have memory box upon memory box that stand in teetering stacks in the basement and in my room (and trust me, there is not nearly enough room in either place for the number of boxes I have).  The other problem is that I've been very concerned about journaling with a "traditional look".  That means cursive writing in black pen only.  Of course I've tucked little keepsakes into the pages, like pressed flowers and leaves, subway tickets from Montreal, even a Yugioh card from a little boy at a camp I counselled.  I realized that as much as I love bygone eras, I'm not a part of them.  Of course I still draw influence from them, but there are plenty of things from my own generation that I love.  And when I came across these Smash Journals, which are essentially a notebook meant to keep all of those bits of ephemera in one place, I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to get out of my left-brained journaling rut, condense my memory boxes, and have a place to collect memories of my own time.  I have to say, that while I'm not nearly as messy (the good kind of messsy) when it comes to scrapbooking as a lot of other people, the fact that I'm overlapping corners is a big step for me.  Plus, there are so many cool products, like journaling spots, date stamps, funky tape, and pockets from Smash that it makes it that much more fun!  So here's a few of the pages I've been working on in the past couple weeks!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

the voracious reader

As I'm sure everyone knows, I love to read.  But every now and then, I go through a phase where all I want to do is read, and that isn't really an exaggeration.  Usually it starts when I come across a really good book, and I motor my way through it, until I'm left with that deflated feeling of, "Now what?"  Because you know, I have a hard time slowing down when a book is exciting, so it's always over much too soon.  So then I go hunting for another really good book, and when I finish that one, I look for another, and the cycle continues on and on into oblivion until I've read myself out and take a bit of a break.  And by "break", I really mean I find a book to read that is good, but not so good that I literally can't put it down.

It was the Hunger Games that started my current reading jubilee.  I read the trilogy in under a week, and am now going through it a second time, reading it aloud to Luke.  But reading the same books twice isn't quite satisfying when you're in the reading zone.  So I picked up a book that had been sitting on my shelf for probably three or four months (if not more): The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran.  I'd picked it up from the bargain section of Chapters because I'd read one of her other books, Nefertiti.  I loved the latter, so I figured I would love the other one, but I wasn't in the right "mood" for it at the time (just like I picked up To Kill a Mockingbird, hated it, picked it up a year later, and absolutely loved it).  I guess I was in a better mindset for it, because I zipped through it, reading late into the night, and immediately put in a hold at the library for one of her other books, Cleopatra's Daughter.

I will admit I am usually skeptical of historical fiction.  It usually takes that one slip up that turns me off completely, and I can't read any further.  Now, I don't mean artistic liberties, because when it comes to writing about actual historical figures, particularly from ancient times, you absolutely have to.  I mean, you wouldn't have much of a book if you confined yourself to only what is known "for sure".  What I mean by slip ups, is when someone in Victorian London says, "Wow, that's so cool!"

I think Michelle Moran gets a lot of flack for taking artistic liberties.  At least, that's what I've gathered from reviews I've read on her books.  I think she does it well though, and she makes a point of mentioning in a historical note at the end of the book the key things that she changed and why.  It's kind of like how I've always wanted to write a story from the perspective of King Tut's wife, Ankhesenamun, after Tut's death.  If I'm writing a book that's meant to be dramatic, suspenseful, and borderline thriller, am I going to go with the accepted theory that Tut died from infection caused by a broken leg, or the more exciting murder theory?  Frankly guys, I'm going to go with the murder, but I'm not going to walk around pretending like that is definitely what happened.  I also detest when readers try to thrust their 21st century feminist agendas on historical fiction.  Please don't whine about the fact that Nefertari, the heroine of Heretic Queen, is in competition with Iset to win the affections and favour of Pharaoh Ramesses II, because that's how it was. Can we not just read things in context?!

I wouldn't go so far as to say this is the best that contemporary literature has to offer.  But I will say that for popular lit, it's pretty darn good, and I love the life she brings to these truly fascinating women of the ancient world.   managed to get me totally obsessed with Ancient Egypt and Rome all over again (this happens about once or twice a year, and has since I was about eight).  It makes me glad that I've invested in a few non-fiction books on the subject too.  But I'm afraid soon I'll be making a departure from the ancient world, in favour of Moran's novel about Madame Tussaud.  Exciting!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

wings of paradise

Today my mom, my younger brother (Jesse), and I made the short trek out to our local butterfly conservatory.  I used to go there once a year with my area class (an enrichment school program) back in elementary school, and I loved it.  The last time I went was with my friend Anna a couple years ago.  Even though it really hasn't changed at all, it's still a different experience every time.  When I went with Anna, the butterflies were very sleepy, and actually rather hard to come by.  This time they were buzzing (not literally) with life.  A few of them attached to themselves to my mom and brother, and one latched onto my shirt and showed no signs of letting go until I eased him onto a plant.  I think he was a little desperate, because he had just come out of his chrysalis, and his wings hadn't yet unfolded all the way.  You can see something similar in the shot of my mom with her butterfly friend.  There was also a big, pretty yellow one that landed on my camera!  It flew away before my mom could take a picture on her phone though, which was too bad.  It was nice to get a few hours of reprieve from the cold though -- they have to keep it very warm in the conservatory for the butterflies, birds, and tropical plants.

Monday, January 30, 2012

catching up...slowly but surely

I am embarrassed to say this, but I totally fell off the 365 day photo project wagon.  Wedding planning swept me up into a hurricane of dress shopping, hall booking, and wedding blog surfing.  I know.  It's terrible.  But I'm determined to hop back on and get caught up.  So, my mom suggested that I do two a day: one from where I left off (in November -- eeeeek!), and one from the current date.  So it sort of messes my days up, but whatever.  So I'm just going to write the date that I took the image, and the date that it was meant for.  Hopefully it's not too confusing.

January 28, 2012 (November 16, 2011) - Empty
A brand new journal, waiting to be filled.  I have a lot of those.

January 28, 2012 (the real one) -- Funny
I've started collecting Sock Monkeys.  They just look like they have a great sense of humour, don't they?

January 29, 2012 (November 17, 2011) -- Irony
Shawn is turning fourteen in February.  It's ironic that of all our dogs, he has been the one with the most problems (cancer, bladder infections, losing weight for no apparent reason, etc.), and yet he's the one that has lasted the longest.

January 29, 2012 -- Dumb
No, your eyes do not deceive you.  The pictures are purple.  I put in an order of 400+ photographs (yes, you read that number correctly), only to return my black and white shots because they were green.  The colour shots looked all right.  Then, the photo lab technician tells us that they were having problems with their all my pictures turned purple in about a month.  Most labs would shut down if they were having chemical issues. So. Dumb.

January 30, 2012 (November 18, 2011) -- Sound
I love this picture.  For Christmas, my mom gave me this little vintage-inspired music box that plays one of the songs from Nutcracker (the name escapes me right now).  Underneath it, she had folded up, very, very tiny, a ticket to go see the Nutcracker the next week.  It's so pretty, and even though Christmas is over, I still play it.

January 30, 2012 -- Reward
For the dogs of course...not for me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

childhood influences: the secret garden

click here to view more pretty edited screen caps (frankly, I didn't feel like posting the tumblr name on my blog).

I started this post months ago, as a companion to my Little Princess post.  I don't know why I never finished it, because it's always been in the back of my mind.  So I figured that now is as good a time as any, because really, I haven't had much opportunity to go out and take pictures because of the terrible weather.    It's either pouring rain, or snowing, or frigidly cold.  I can only take so many pictures of the knicknacks on my shelf, you know?

Anyway.  The Secret Garden.  Another Frances Hodgson Burnett masterpiece.  Another film that I popped into the VCR on a weekly basis, until the tape started wearing down.  And yet another reason why I'm sure I love all the things I do, because nostalgia is definitely a running theme here.  The haunting portrait of Colin's mother, which was always strangely beautiful to me, is probably why I still love portraiture circa 1900 and earlier, and why as an artist, I have always leaned toward images of the human face.  It's probably why I love collecting old photographs too.

Here's a recent photograph I picked up (along with my Notman). I love his expression, and it's in fairly good condition too.  I'm sure the girls must have fawned over him.  Not to mention, that jacket looks awesome.

And how could we forget the key?  Isn't that how the whole thing started?  I remember being instantly smitten with the giant skeleton key that Mary discovers in her aunt's dusty, forgotten room.  The intricate design, and the grating sound it made when she put it in the lock.  It may even have been the sound more than the look that attracted me.  Just like I loved the sound of Mary's mother's ivory elephant as she walked it along wood.  Is that weird?  I don't know.  But I know that I still think of that sound, and when I hear it elsewhere, I still like it.

I've had this key for quite some time.  I used to carry it on my keychain, with all my modern keys, and occasionally I put it on a necklace.  Mostly it sits on my bedside table looking rustic and pretty.  It's obviously not the same size or complexity as the  Secret Garden key that you can see in the screen cap at the beginning of the post.  But it was the closest I could find at the time (and I still haven't come across anything better), and I love to imagine what it might have opened.  Part in parcel with the key, is the jewelry box in that screen cap.  A couple years ago, Luke's mom gave me one of her old jewelry boxes, and it looks a lot like that one.  I absolutely adore it.  I didn't take a picture of it, because's kind of obscured by a whole lot of junk on my book shelf at the moment. 

 Last, but not least, is the clothes.  Pretty much of all of it, really.  I love her pea coat, and the big red tam (I still haven't found one that was just right...but I'll keep looking!).  In the meantime, I have a number of other ones, mostly gray, and one that's a delightful mustard colour.  I love the ribbons in Mary's hair, and the lace on her adorable little dresses.  I wish I was dainty enough to wear those stockings, but alas, I think it would just make me look ridiculous.  I'll stick to the lace, and the long gray coats.

I bought this lace shirt at Christmas-time, but I haven't worn it yet.  I'll either wear it for the rehearsal dinner, or after our wedding when Luke and I go out to dinner (paired with a really pretty lace skirt, both from Jacob).

Well, there you have it.  Yet another book/film that has continued to inspire me over the past twelve years or so.  And I think they did such a good job of that movie, that it's timeless, as far as I'm concerned.  They just got it right.  There's nothing to date it (see, for example, Diane Keaton's attempt at 1940s hair in The Godfather, which really just looks like it's from the '70s), and I think all the kids did a really terrific job at carrying the story.  The ten-year-old in me still has a bit of a crush on Dickon.

via mala-lesbia ; check out her gallery -- it's filled with beautiful, dream-like imagery.

*** I'd also like to note that the pictures I took were processed with Sara Lynn Paige's beautiful Reminisce film style actions.  I bought them a few weeks ago, and they are truly lovely.  Sometimes digital images can be too crisp, too clear.  This puts just the right amount of colour, and depth into my images.

Friday, January 13, 2012

lifetime goal: achieved

Normally, that title would be absolute hyperbole.  I say things like that all the time in jest, but this time around, I actually achieved one of my lifetime goals, and I can't tell you how entirely excited I am about this fact!  But before I get to the actual discovery, let me give you a bit of background.

You may or may not know/remember that I was an art history major for two years, and even though I didn't go through my degree to the very end (I decided to pursue writing instead), I would say I was fairly passionate about it.  In fact, I had aspirations of becoming a professor -- that's right folks, I had every intention of devoting the next ten or more years to education, wherever that may have taken me.  And so when I was considering which topic I might like to explore for a masters degree (and eventually my PhD), I was going back and forth between two topics: Flemish painting (think Vermeer, the artist who created my absolute favourite painting Girl with a Pearl Earring) and early Canadian photography.  I'd always loved Vermeer, but it was an amazing documentary on the "Queen's Photographer" William Notman that began to sway me toward Canadian photography.  His work was different from a lot of photographers at the time, and some of it very complex.   If you're interested in taking a look at his photographs, check out Museum McCord's virtual exhibit about him.

In any case, I was obsessed.  I had print-outs of his work hanging on my wall.  I wrote possibly my best university essay about his influence on the world's perception of Canada.  And I honestly never though I would care that much about anything even remotely Canadian, because while I love living here, our history is not the most fascinating.  Because I was totally hung up about this photographer, I decided that someday, I would find a William Notman photograph, and make it my own.  I'd only ever seen a couple in person (strangely, it was a gentleman exhibiting early Canadian photographs at the mall), but they weren't for sale.  So I could only admire them through a glass case, and then have to walk away.

But for the past two years I have looked through probably hundreds of old photographs at various antique stores with no luck at all.  I was tempted to ask the store owners if they would keep an eye out for any Notmans, but then I thought they probably get so many old photographs that they don't even care about the studio anymore. happened.  Yesterday, while out antiquing with my best friend (and maid of honour!), I found it.  Buried in among a stash of photographs, I drew it out, and I stopped breathing as I stared at the studio name at the bottom of the portrait.  It was all very dramatic, I can assure you.  What made it even more amazing to me, was that the photograph was from his Boston Studio -- not even Ottawa or Montreal.  It was one lonely photograph taken in a different country that somehow made it's way to that antique store, and into my hands.  And thus my lifetime goal was accomplished for the price of three dollars.

Funnily enough, I had just told Mary that it would be just my luck that when I found a Notman, it would be of a creepy baby or something.  But no!  Instead I got myself a sharp-dressed older gentleman with a kind face.  On the back of the photo is written the man's name Geo W. Pousland, and what I believe is his year of birth (1814) and death (1894).  I did a bit of research, and the span of  years of the man's life (and the approximate age he is in the portrait) put him in the right time for Notman's Boston studio, as well as the actual name of the studio (Notman Photographic Company).  So I'm absolutely ecstatic that I own an authentic William Notman photograph!  I might just have to pop over to the university to show the professor who made us watch that documentary!

Friday, January 6, 2012

the post-holiday post

I hope everyone had an exciting (and safe) start to the new year!  Mine was certainly buzzing from start to finish, and hasn't really drawn to its close quite yet.  On Saturday we're all going out for a good German lunch with my Opa and his lady-friend Ruth -- always good for a laugh, and there are always stories to tell.  And it'll be the first time he meets Luke, as well as my older brother's lovely girlfriend, Ashley!  So we'll see how that goes.  With my Opa, you just never know.  (P.S. isn't that picture of Shawn with the antlers too cute?  Seriously, that dog will let you put anything on him. I've tied pashminas on him, we've put glasses, hats, and various other clothing and he just sits there with that adorable look on his face. Such a good dog.)

Anyway, I promised you a second Christmas post, and a New Years post, so I've combined them into one post because that felt like the most efficient thing to do.  

My Mom and I take great pride in our holiday table settings. And while I've only included one shot, trust me that there are photographs from every angle imaginable of that table.  It was so sparkly and festive.  I think our Christmas settings are always the best.  Also, that Christmas photo of me and Luke is not quite was actually taken on New Years Eve.  Over the three Christmases we have spent together, Luke and I had never managed to get a really good picture of us by a tree, or whatever.  So my mom took some.  And strangely enough, though we both felt that we were making really happy, excited faces, all the pictures made us look like we were bored.  But oh well. I can live with it.

New Years was spent with Marc and Leanne, as I mentioned in my last post.  It was so much fun!  None of us are big drinkers (and I don't know about anyone else, but I generally like to remember special events, rather than lose them in an alcohol-induced haze), so for the final count down we actually toasted with sparkling juice.  But it was delicious sparkling juice.  We did have some wine with dinner though, and I had a small Bailey's because Bailey's is best (mmm alliteration).  Oh...and we made CHOCOLATE FONDUE. So utterly delicious.

That second photo is one of my favourites from the evening.  It just seems really classically New Years to me. :)  And the first shot is Luke and Marc goofing around and pretending that the champanade was not just champanade.

We played this great board game called the Magic Labyrinth.  Basically, you're trying to collect your medallions, but you have to go through a labyrinth that you can't see because it's under the board. Your piece moves on a magnet, and if you hit a wall, you have to start back at your corner. It's definitely a challenge to play at midnight!  And of course I couldn't resist a sparkly silver nail polish to celebrate the New Year. I didn't have any sparkly clothes, so the sparkles had to appear on my nails (which are finally long enough to paint!).

Anyway, that's the holiday in a nutshell!  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming!