25 March 2009

What the Heck Happened to Spring?

Spring is nearly a week old at this point, and the other night we had a snow storm. Not liking this Maritime weather at the moment.

Anyway.... to bring a little spring cheer I am having a sale in String Me Along.

Announcing the... "WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO SPRING SALE". From now until it starts to feel like spring, take 20% off any item tagged or titled with "FLOWER".

Once in my shop, you can enter the word "flower" into the search field to make your search easier. I will refund the 20% through paypal.

Lovlies like this necklace would qualify for the sale:

As would these sweet fabric flower hairpins:

Be quick, I'm sure that spring can't be too far away. At least, I hope not.

17 March 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day

I spent 18 months in Northern Ireland during a two year break from university. I grew to love Belfast like it was my own home. Despite the "troubles" I found the people to be gentle and kind-hearted, welcoming and gracious.

I had the opportunity to make many regular trips to Dublin while I was working and I took full advantage of Ireland's relatively small size to explore much of the rest of the country.

With great sincerity, I say: I love Ireland and I love the Irish.

I love the emerald green hills. I love the sing-song lilt of the accent. I love the fiddle music. I love the startlingly blue eyes of a certain gardai who I would occassionally chance to see on Grafton Street, in Dublin. I love the craic. I love all those things that the tourist ads and brochures tell you that you will love. But more than that, I love the spontaneity of the place. One never knows what awaits you when you step into that magical land.

This drawing was given to me to on my very first solo trip to Ireland in, according to the sketch, May of 1999.

I was staying in a hostel at the edge of Donegal town and I was invited to join a group of Australian travelers that evening for a night at one of the local pubs. They chose not one of the touristy pubs with the oak trim and shiny brass, filled to brimming with Americans claiming dubious Irish descent. Instead, they chose a place at the fringe of the town with poster board covering the windows,with only a small sign in the corner giving any hint that at night this was a meeting place. We opened the doors and went into this tiny room, walked up to the small bar and ordered our Guinness. Shortly after, others started to arrive. Some were carrying instruments. There was no band, per se, just people arriving who would get together and play. No rehearsals, no planned sets, just spontaneous music.

The locals who came to drink were quick to welcome our rag-tag group into their fold, even loaning a guitar to one so he could play along for a song. We were invited to dance and taught a few steps. The drawing came to me courtesy of an elderly gentleman, who to be honest, had seen better days. He pulled his pockets inside out to show me the spots where the mice had chewed through. In those snacked on pocket liners though, he withdrew a pencil stub and a piece of an old sign and he drew this picture, so that I would always remember that night in Donegal town.

There is no reason to worry that I will ever forget. It was that night that I truly understand the phrase "the craic".

16 March 2009

Favorite Things - March 16


I have never been able to get enough of them.

For as long as I can remember I have been enamoured with the excitement of page-turning; the what's going to happen next moment. From '"The Signora had no business to do it", said Miss Bartleman..."' to discovering that Grover was the "Monster at the End of this Book" (sorry for the spoiler). From my earliest memories of my mother reading to me from a collection of Little Golden Books, to learning that sounding out letters would form a word, and those words sentences, the love of reading has never faltered.

I still devour books: new books, old books; fiction, literature, non-fiction; cookbooks, travel books, craft books.

Every answer in the world can be found in pages, and holding knowledge in the palm of your hand is still infinitely more satisfying than the immediate satisfaction of google or wiki.

Any need to escape from reality lies waiting with the soft crease of a spine and the crisp turn of a page.

Books foster imagination, educate, entertain, comfort and instruct. They are perfect companions in bed, bath, beach, airplane, or anywhere else life takes you. There is no other companion so versatile.

10 March 2009

Wonder Twin Powers - Activate!

I stayed up way too late last night and while flicking through channel after channel of nothing, I came across teletoon retro. Super-Friends was on so I quickly and eagerly tuned in. What kind of fix were the Friends in this week?

I missed the first couple minutes, so I am may be missing some important nuance here, but as the story goes, the Wonder Twins were attending the circus. The ringmaster and his lovely assistant had their evil plot quickly foiled by the Twins.

*Wonder Twin Powers - Activate*

Jayna (who certainly has the cooler of the wonder-powers) turned herself into an elephant, and Zan turned himself into a giant puddle of water, which Jayna then sucked into her trunk and fired at the villains, knocking them off balance enough that she was able to secure them quickly within the confines of her trunk. A daring and bold plan filled with Freudian connotation!

Oh, my. As it turns out the ringmaster and his scantily clad assistant were merely a red herring. The evil-doers in all of this, were in fact the captive circus animals. The real ring-leader, a hind-leg walking, glowing-eyed tiger, announced to the twins that indeed, the animals were the true masterminds, and pulling out a laser shooting device he hypnotised Jayna and Zan. My goodness what will happen to them after the cereal advertisement?

The weird monkey helper of the twins, who unlike the circus animals was not capable of human speech was able to contact the League of Justice headquarters. Superman and Wonder-Woman to the rescue!! They arrived at the circus and battled the animals to victory, smashing the radioactive, laser, hypnotiser.

Why am I so badly craving cocoa coated cereal?

I wish I had never tuned in. Sadly, I realised that the Wonder Twins, despite their snazzy matching outfits and cool catch-phrase, are actually quite lame. Admittedly, having the ability to turn yourself into an animal is a little bit cool, but Jayna turned herself into a beaver for crying out loud. Why? Well, I thought it would be so she could gnaw through the circus tent poles, trapping the villainous animals within the voluminous tent. Sadly, no. She used her tail to slap Zan-style snowballs at her enemies. Seriously? How lame is that? Zan really got screwed in that genetic lottery too. Turning yourself only into water-based products is pretty crappy. Water, snow, ice.... not much else is there? Add in some coloured mix and sugar and he could be Kool-Aid, I guess. Although, even the Kool-Aid jug is better prepared to foil evil than Zan. He at least can crash through brick exterior walls and vanquish thirst, in a variety of fruity flavours. Sorry, Zan, plain and simple you suck!

Its a sad day for me to realise that these heroes of my childhood, really aren't so heroic after all. Without the other Super-friends, they would be nothing. Heck, come to think of it, without the Wonder Twins habitually screwing things up, the Super-Friends would probably get bored hanging out at the League of Justice doing nothing. Thank God, Wonder Woman is still cool.

That's all. A giant tiger just walked into the room and offered me a bowl of cereal.

8 March 2009

Favorite Things - March 9

Looking back over the last few weeks, one might leap to the assumption that I am consumed by "stuff". That's not true. I'm not a mad shopper or hoarder, and I don't really think of myself as materialistic to any great extent. The intent of Favorite Things was not to extol the virtue solely of the material. In fact there are many, many intangibles that make me as happy as, or happier even, than any physical item. So today, for a change, my favorite thing is one of those intangibles.

Today, my favorite thing is my imagination!

I've been a princess, a Prime Minister, a giraffe, a zoo-keeper, a gypsy, a unicorn jockey and an Olympian. I've travelled the world, from the depths of the Grand Canyon, to the heights of Kilimanjaro; set foot on each continent and waded in every ocean. I've had lovers. I've had friends. I've had villainous enemies. I've been tall, I've been svelte, I've had auburn hair. I've created a masterpiece that has made the Mona Lisa cry; played first violin for the London Symphony Orchestra; and pirouetted onto the stage in Moscow as Clara. I have seen an end to war; a cure for cancer; and fresh water that runs freely into all the world's thirsty mouths. My Nobel prize for both science and peace, rests alongside my Pulitzer and my Grammy.

There is no situation for which my brain can not conjure an image. It may not be able to comprehend simple maths, but it is alive with colours and images and grand adventures. Dialogue banters back and forth, and I am never short a witty retort. When the going gets rough, I know that things will someday soon be right again, and I know this because I can imagine it. If I can imagine it, many times I can make it a reality, save for the unicorns and towering height.

I have never taken my imagination for granted. I was born before the time of electronic games. Toys were inanimate and it was only imagination that could make them come alive. Toys, themselves, were often merely a limiting prop. I could just as easy dream myself into a castle eating off the finest china - the castle a circle of tree stumps, the fine china the large flat fungus snapped free from the stumps.

I have never limited my imagination to the realm of the possible. Where is the fun in that? I have insinuated myself into existing fables and tales, and created my own dramas.

Lest you think that I am mentally unstable, let me assure you that I am very capable of telling the difference between the real and the other realm. The real is far more boring. Truth is, it is my imagination that at the end of the day, keeps me sane.

International Women's Day

I am a woman. I think of myself as strong, intelligent, possessed of inner power and beauty, disciplined, and willful. I am also loving, gentle, gracious and fair. I am a mix of qualities, and I celebrate this unique mix as being what makes me the woman that I am.

I do not intend to bow to societal pressures, to fit a stereotype, and certainly not to become "the norm".

I know that I am as competent as a man, as hard-working, clever and capable. I can still be all these things without donning the power suit, and hardening myself against my feminine side.

There have been women in my life who have shaped me, and informed the person that I have become. I thank the women who have paved the way toward equality for women, for me, and told me that I can be and do anything that I choose. I intend to pass this message on to the young girls and women who cross my path in this life, helping them strive ever forward.

I applaud those women who have faltered, but have found the bravery to pull themself up and move on. I applaud those women who have summoned the vast courage necassary to escape their personal prisons. I applaud those women who have stood up to bullying and battering, at the hands of a loved one, or by the laws of their society or religion and said "No More" and have taken back their rights as a woman, and a human.

I encourage all women, everyday, to stand together as no woman fights alone.

The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker. ~Helen Keller

7 March 2009

GASP... Another Weakness Revealed.

This morning I was browsing through etsy supplies looking for fun, happy colourful items. What a joyous moment when I came across the fun, happy and colourful shop of BakeItPretty.

There is no secret to the fact that I am a cupcake addict, and let's face it, one of the joys of the cupcake is peeling back that pretty paper to reveal the fluffy sweetness within. A simple stack of pastel coloured, fluted cupcake papers can therefore, instantly have me swooning. And so,when I stumbled upon this shop it was love at first glance.

A simple white cupcake in chocolate brown paper is a visual I can not resist. But BakeItPretty has amped up the elegance factor by offering a chocolate brown wrapper with flourishes of gold. I could weep at the luxury.

Similar styles are also available in white with lines in pretty primary colours. The white with red wrapper would look so perfectly at home caressing a coconut cupcake, served al fresco upon a gingham picnic blanket.

More wonderful goodies such as lively sprinkles and utterly charming cake toppers await you in this shop of wonders.

6 March 2009

Thank you, Nancy Wallis!!

I want to send out a heartfelt thank you to fellow etsy seller and blogger, Nancy Wallis Design, for awarding me the Kreativ Blogger award.

Here are the rules:

List 7 things you love and then pass the award on to 7 people..tagging them and letting them know they won!
You can copy the picture of the award and put it on your sideboard letting the whole wide world know you are KReATIV!
So here are 7 things I love:

I love riding in a train.
I love books that are totally devoted to single themes such as ribbon, English roses, or cookies and that are filled with wonderful photographs.
I love pale pink tulips in the springtime.
I love hot chocolate with loads of marshmallows on winter's first snowy day.
I love Saturday evening dinner with my husband.
I love going to the beach, when there is no one else around.
I love my digital camera and easily get lost in taking photo after photo of the most random ite.

I am awarding the KREATIV award to:


fiveforty at home


Paper Cakes Finds



cream puffs in venice

5 March 2009

Walking the Aisle - Part Deux

Yesterday, I so enjoyed ogling all the wedding gowns that were available on etsy, that I decided I needed to delve today a little further into the elegant elements that create the perfect wedding. There is a twist to this however. I am fully in favour of budget weddings, full of do it yourself projects. Over the next few weeks, I am going to offer a few tips and tricks that you can use to curb the financial stress of your nuptials. I don't believe that anyone needs to break the bank to have the perfect wedding. Money is tight, and each day more grim economic news comes our way. Don't let this spoil your big day. Your wedding, with some careful planning and some willingness to do some of the work yourself, can be as beautiful as any wedding found amongst the glossy pages of the celebrity magazines.

So today, let's start with one of the biggest wedding expenditures: flowers.

The bulk of the cost of wedding flowers is the labour involved. If you yourself are capable of creating your floral designs, or if you know someone who has a flair for floral detail, you will be able to save yourself a great deal of money. If you are capable, make use of wedding magazines and websites such as Martha Stewart or The Knot to look for appealing ideas, and then if need be alter them to fit your budget. If you are a little sceptical about your ability, see if you can find a free or inexpensive flower arranging course at an adult learning centre or local craft store. This should help you come away with the basics needed to craft your own simple flower arrangements. Just make sure to factor in the time required to make them, and if making them the day before the wedding, remember that you will need adequate refrigerator room to keep them cool and fresh until the right moment.

If the idea of doing the work yourself is simply too daunting remember these two very important rules: 1) use flowers that are in-season and; 2) keep flower designs simple to avoid driving up the labour costs.

If you are a spring bride, why not consider the elegance of the tulip mixed with the whimsy of the pussy willow. Perhaps use white nasturtiums, or yellow daffodils if you want to celebrate with some bold colour. If you have fruit trees at your disposal, branches covered in apple or cherry blooms make a stunning table centrepiece.

For early summer, peonies are a beautiful option. Soft and romantic, yet bold enough to stand alone. Day lilies typically start to bloom around this time of year, and come in such an array of colour that the possibilities for use are endless. A late summer wedding in my mind calls for bold colours. Cheery daisies and sunflowers are a sweet alternative to roses, especially if you are having a country wedding.

Autumn calls for rich warm tones. Dahlias, though maybe not traditional are certainly an affordable option, and are available in some wonderfully rich colours. If you prefer softer hues, fading hydrangeas are a wonderfully pretty and romantic flower.

Winter can be a tricky one as fresh flowers are not so available. Red or white are both beautiful options, and luckily both can be found in the Christmas time favorite, amaryllis. Poinsettias as well are a wonderfully showy flower. Using them in a bouquet would also ensure that you would not have them hanging around into March.

Another clever way to save on floral costs is to incorporate a variety of inexpensive filler, giving it a long over-due starring role. Ivy is a traditional choice, but for more impact, try banana leaves, or eucalyptus leaves. Ornamental grasses are readily available as well, and can easily be incorporated into designs to add unexpected texture and colour to a bouquet. In autumn, add in clusters of coloured leaves. In winter use fragrant evergreen boughs and why not tuck in a pine cone or two while you're at it. Berry branches such as hypericum are simply stunning.

A fantastic way to plump up a table centre piece, or to add hits of colour is to use fruits. I used green and red grapes along the outer edges of my centre pieces. I may be biased, but I thought it looked great, and at around $10 for a few bags of grapes, it was an inexpensive way to fill out seven centrepieces. In the autumn, you could tuck flower arrangements into hollowed out pumpkins. In winter add rich bursts of colour by skewering dried pomegranates and tucking them into an arrangement. Pomegranates are after all an ancient symbol of fertility, and are an often used wedding symbol. Lemons, limes, apples, any fruit that is firm and hardy enough to stand up to an all night party without browning or worse, leaking, is a wonderful option. I have even seen in recent years, arrangements that make use of vegetables such as radish which have such a wonderfully rosy colour.

Simple designs can be made stunning with the addition of fabric embellishments. Vintage ribbons in colourful silks or velvet add much to bridal bouquets. Seam binding, is even more affordable than ribbon, and can be found in a variety of exquisite colours and has a soft and silky, flowing nature.

Finally, there is the option to exclude fresh flowers all together. Silk flowers have come along way from the unnaturally coloured arrangements that one may have found on gramma's coffee table. There are some very realistic looking alternatives available and these can go a long way to stretching a limited budget even further.

I found this surprising arrangement on marthastewart.com, featuring of all things, carnations. As a general rule of thumb, I can't stand carnations, but this simple bouquet transforms them from a supermarket standby to the height of elegance. (clicking on the photo will take you to the web-page which includes some how-to's.)

I hope this first installment of "Walking the Aisle" was helpful. I had a fantastic time browsing websites looking at stunning floral designs.

4 March 2009

Walking the Aisle

In a perfect world, where stress doesn't exist, money grows on trees, and the term bridezilla has never been imagined, I would walk the aisle every week. I love the visual stimulation of weddings. I love the flowers, the dresses, the decorations, the food, the cakes, the accessories, the favours. The only thing that I didn't like about getting married myself, was I only got to choose one of everything. One dress, one floral bouquet, one cake. And that is why I would do it all again and again and again. I would be happy to stick with my same groom, but I would choose different colours, dresses, flowers, themes, each and every time. There are just so many beautiful things available, and it seems a shame that you only get the one go at it.

With wedding season approaching here in North America, I am slowly building a bridal boutique within my etsy shop. Today I added the first piece, specifically created for this.

Personally, pearls always seem to be the quintessential bridal accessory - classic, feminine and romantic. With pearls as a main focus, and using a variety of complementary materials I have created, I hope, a simply stunning bridal piece. It has a distinct vintage feel, with all the romance of a bygone era.

The classic pearls in strands of white and pink are wrapped in antiqued brass, and a single Swarovski bead dangles to give a little shine. The middle strand of pink pearls is hung asymmetrical for eye-catching detail.

I think it would look stunning with a very simply draped gown, in soft flowing fabrics. Any type of open neckline would welcome this piece gladly. This beautiful gown by CiCiBridal on etsy is a wonderful example.

I plan to expand my bridal section on etsy as the days go by. Please keep checking back.

3 March 2009

It Was All Just a Trick

I was certain, oh so certain, that spring had whispered to me last week. But March, being the cruel month that it is, pushed spring aside and rushed more snow and ice in upon its blustering gales. Oh, March, you have not yet had the last laugh, and this too shall pass.

Knowing that spring, surely, must be waiting patiently in the wings, I created this etsy treasury filled with beautiful springtime themes and hues.

I love all of these items, and truly if you need a taste of spring, be sure to check out some of these sellers.

2 March 2009

Favorite Things - March 2

You open the mailbox, pull out the scattered letters within. Bill. Bill. Condo flyer. Bill. Bill delivered to the wrong address. A creamy smooth envelope, addressed in the familiar swirl of a friend's handwriting. Tossing the rest on the table, you grab your cup of tea and settle in to open this one first. You gingerly open the envelope, mindful of the crisp paper within. You fold open the papers, as a smile spreads slowly across your face. Despite the separating miles, you hold in your hand the essence of a person dear to you.

"Dear _______; It has been so long. How are things with you?"

You first eagerly read through the full letter, eager for gossip and looking for the most exciting news. Once you read through to the end, you turn the pages back to the start, and read more slowly and deeply, picking up on nuance and innuendo, picking up the feelings and emotions hidden within the written words.

Letter-writing is a ritual that in this age of email, instant messaging and texting is falling by the wayside. One of my favorite things is finding a hand-written letter in my mailbox. It is so nice to know that someone took the time to sit quietly to compose their thoughts to you; that they chose deliberately the paper or card on which they transferred their words; that they took special care to use their best hand-writing.

I also enjoy the ritual of writing the letter, and I think it goes beyond my obsession with papers and inks. I keep on hand a generous supply of cards and note papers. I uncap my favorite fountain pen. I boil the kettle and keep a cup of tea at my elbow. I pour out my heart in a way that email does not allow. Handwriting conveys the mood of the writer, in a way that email can never do, despite smiley faces and other emoticons. Does the pen stroke turn harsher, pressed more firmly into the paper, the cross strokes more pointed, as the writer expresses frustration? Do the words lean a little further to the right when words of joy pour across the page? A word is underlined once to draw attention, or three times to convey that this point is particularly important. A hand-drawn smiley face is much more personal. And the x's and o's for hugs and kisses far more intimate.

If you dread going out on a snowy day such as this, take a few minutes first to write a letter to a friend. Its easier to brave the cold world knowing that a side-trip to a mailbox is going to bring joy to someone dear in just a few days.

The beautiful pinecone card is designed by Canadian artist, Shane McDonald at tindesigns.

1 March 2009

The Visitor

Last night, I groggily headed into the bathroom to get myself ready for bed. As I reached for my toothbrush, I glanced up and staring straight out at me was this bizarre apparition.

Darcy had drawn him onto the steamed-up bathroom mirror after his shower. It was the absolutely last thing I expected to see.