On The Sense of an Ending: My First Dog

November 26, 2012
When I came across Ann Patchett's The Sense of an Ending in the September 2012 issue of Vogue, the story immediately tugged at my heart. I introduced you to my first dog, Bailey, at the beginning of October. The reading of Patchett's article spawned the introduction, and I have since put off sharing with you why I told you about Bailey in the first place.

Bailey eying up my ice cream sammich.

Patchett's article in Vogue is about the loss of her dog that she had had for 16 years. It was a difficult article to read because, even though I had not had my dog for quite as long as she did, I had been through the experience of losing one's dog, and I could picture Bailey's face after the life inside her had moved on the entire time I was reading the article. It was very moving, and brought back many memories that I had not thought about in a long time.

It's not that I had never experienced death before. My Grandfather had passed away a few years before we put Bailey to sleep, but I was young and didn't see my Grandfather every day. Yes, I loved him dearly and we had a special bond, but, like all relationships in life, it was a different kind of love and a different kind of bond than I had with my very first dog. I didn't take my Grandfather for walks, or stroke his fur. There was a separation in our lives, but there was never a separation from Bailey.

I liked sharing with her.

What else made it different from the passing of my Grandad is that I had never actually seen anyone die until Bailey. My Grandmother called to inform us that my Grandfather had passed on, but I was there with Bailey. I was right beside her as she took her last breath, and I stayed beside her stroking her soft fur for a few moments afterward. I saw it all in her eyes, and that is what made this article so amazing to read. I knew that Ann Patchett had experienced the same thing that I did, and she freed me from something that I had buried deep inside my heart.


Two Blogs I Love

November 23, 2012
The title says it all. Today I want to share with you two blogs that I love. Both are inspirational to me in two very different ways. I hope that you will check them out, and maybe even find them as wonderful as I do. Happy Friday!

I love Hybrid Handmade. Cari-Jane is an incredibly poetic writer. She writes such lyrical sentences as: "There is a kind of magical thirty minutes just before dusk, when the light renders everything with an insistent intensity.  A fanfare of sorts, before dipping, prematurely it seems, below and away."

She mostly shares the inspirations behind her work -- she has some fascinating inspiration from nature -- but she has recently been sharing more about her life, and how it has been affecting her work -- her family just made a big move. She is such an amazing woman, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her through her blog.

I first heard about Flock & Gather from a friend of my Mother. She told me about this group that puts together handmade markets with artists from the community and surrounding areas. I was intrigued. I had heard about handmade markets through other blogs, and here was one in my own community -- there are others, but they are rather large and you have to pay to get in. I excitedly looked for it online to find out when the next one would be, and discovered their blog.

It has been a great place to find out information about the market, but I have, more importantly, discovered a lot of new artists that I am proud are living near me. Don't worry if you can't attend the Flock & Gather markets, a lot of these artists can be found online too -- I shared some of my treasures from the last market here.


Dear Lush

November 19, 2012
I had been using the same shampoo for about five years. It was a fantastic shampoo that made me feel good about rinsing the ingredients down the drain. They recently changed their formula, and when I began using this newer version of my favourite shampoo, I noticed that my hair was becoming quite greasy after one day. I was not happy. I was frustrated. Here was this shampoo that I had been so loyal to, and they did something so drastically different that I now hated their shampoo.

I discovered Lush Cosmetics a few years ago. I have always had problem skin, and I turned to them for a different kind of facial feeling. I haven't turned back, and, since then, I have been slowly adding more of their products to my arsenal. The most recent is their solid shampoo called Seanik, and their conditioner called Veganese, both of which have never made my hair feel lighter or more amazing. What I love the most about them is the fact that my hair dries on its own faster than it ever has before. I l-o-v-e it!

I also love that my hair feels so soft and it doesn't get static-y like you would think it would being so soft and light. I can go 3-4 days -- yes, I'll admit it -- without washing my hair, and I can travel lighter with this little bar of shampoo. My Monday wish is that everyone would be lucky enough to find hair care products that make them love their hair again.

I hope you had a fantastic weekend, and an even better Monday!

* Just to let you know, I don't work for Lush or anything like that. I was just having issues with my previous hair cleaning products and found new ones that I think are the knees of at least two bees.


Weight Update: What I Have Accomplished

November 16, 2012
It has been almost six months since I began my weight-loss journey, and I am pleased to announce that I now fit in the majority of my pre-pregnancy pants. In all honesty, I am no longer as stickler about what I eat as much as I was during the beginning of this whole process, but I have continued to be aware of the portion sizes that I eat, and rarely go in for seconds.

The Little Boy sneaked in on some photos.

I uploaded a new profile photo on Facebook yesterday, and, as I looked through some of my previous profile photos, I noticed how much weight I have actually lost. It's funny, because I didn't realise what I really looked like. I felt just as thin as I had been before the pregnancy, and it wasn't until I started looking at old photographs that I figured out that I looked a lot larger than I actually felt.

While there are still some days where I struggle with body image, I know that I am much healthier at the 126lbs that I now weigh. I have a little way to go to fit into the last pair of pre-pregnancy pants, but I feel fantastic, and I now have this former body to look back at to remind myself of where I came from and what I have accomplished.

Have a great weekend!


In My Home: The Living Room

November 12, 2012
I have introduced you to my son's room -- first here, and then again here -- but that is the only room in the house that I have shown you so far. Well, I buckled down on Saturday and cleaned up our living room just for you to see what it looks like -- I'm sorry, but I'm not going to let you see it all messy. It was good, too, because it hadn't had a good cleaning in a while -- priorities...right?

I love our living room. It has vaulted ceilings, and pretend wood floors. It was the first room that I painted when we moved in to this house, and it is the room that invites you into our home. I try my best to keep it clean -- for the most part -- because it is where our guests congregate.

The first thing you see when you walk through the door is the sofa and the love seat, as well as a painting that I made for the last house that we lived in. There is a big bare spot above the sofa that I need to take care of, and it wasn't until recently that I figured out what to do -- don't worry, I'll be sharing that later.

Blue is my absolute favourite colour -- don't worry, my husband likes it too -- so I painted a feature wall in a beautiful Tiffany Blue. There's no way that I am ever going to climb up to paint all of these walls. We are going to have to hire a professional painter when that time comes.

Our living room leads into our kitchen -- which is currently filled will the junk that I cleaned out of the living room. This is the view of the living room from the hallway. As you can see, we are one of those families that has a television in our living room. I'm not ashamed of it. It is an essential part of my every day living. This is my favourite view of the living room.

My favourite area of the living room is a vignette that I have created with a wicker chair that I picked up from Pier 1 many years ago, and a bookcase that holds some of my favourite books, all of our CDs, as well as some art and some photos of us and our family -- along with a few little nick-knacks. This is where the dog lays and waits for us to come home.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our living room. It was a pleasure cleaning it up for you. Happy Monday :)


On Being Self-Sufficient

November 09, 2012
My cousin works overseas teaching English, and she is currently doing some materials development for the college that she works at. The unit that she is currently working on is on being self-sufficient and she thought about my shop on Etsy. She contacted me wondering if she could do a written interview with me about my shop. She asked me some excellent questions, and I thought I would share them with you.

If you already own a shop, then maybe you'll agree with some of what I've said, and if you're thinking about opening up a shop, maybe it'll give you an idea of what goes into a business. I didn't go into any deep conversations or anything, but I think I sound pretty smart:

1. What is your online shop? Can you describe it briefly. (When did you start? What do you sell? etc)

I sell small cards and art prints that draw myself, scan into my computer, and print out on high quality paper with a good printer. My shop is part of a handmade marketplace called Etsy. It's like going to a market where you can find all kinds of items, but they are all individual shops, they just use the market to draw larger crowds to their shop rather than standing on their own. I started selling art prints and photographs in March 2011, and soon expanded to include cards. I have since discontinued selling photographs. Part of owning your own shop is experimenting and recognising what sells and what doesn't.

 One of the photographs that I used to sell, but didn't sell.

2. What made you decide to open your shop? Why did you start?  

I had stumbled upon Etsy in January 2011, and immediately fell in love with it. There were so many amazing artists all around the world that were suddenly at my fingertips -- through the internet -- and I started buying art, toys, and jewellery through the shops that I found on Etsy. After a while, I thought, "Hey, I think I'd like to open up a shop to sell my artwork," and it took off from there. I had no idea what I was getting in to.

3. What were some challenges you had? What was easy?

There are so many challenges when starting a business. I had no idea how hard it would be for people to find me. Even though I was part of this marketplace that brought people to me, I still had to work hard to bring people to my shop specifically. I began using Twitter and started a Facebook Page. I also started a blog and began networking with other blogs. I advertised, and did giveaways to draw people towards my shop. It has been such a huge learning curve, and I really didn't expect it. I honestly haven't found anything easy about owning my own business.

 One of the advertisements that I've used.

4. You are pretty successful now (congrats on being in that magazine). What would you attribute your success to?

Haha! Thank you for thinking that I'm pretty successful. Yes, I am doing a lot better that I was in the beginning, but I still have such a long way to go, and a lot of business owners don't ever feel successful. There are always goals to be attained, and new items to be created. I would attribute the successes that I have had so far to the work that I have put into my shop. I work on it every day, and I always have a schedule and goals to work on. I have never had the attitude of, "Oh, I'll work on that later," or "I give up," because I'm the only one that's working on it. I've got to keep plugging away at everything even if I don't make a sale everyday because I need to look toward a day that I will sell something and I need to be prepared.

5. What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?

Be prepared for a lot of work, and that you won't be a superstar over night. Of course some people are successful within months after starting a business, but most people have worked for years to build up their credibility and make a business that people can trust: a business that is good to their customers and sells quality products.

Have an amazing weekend!


Mason Jar DIY: The Piggy Bank

November 07, 2012

At the beginning of the year, I found these three mason jars at the local Value Village. It was my goal to make a piggy bank for my son that he could use to keep his money in in the years to come -- I keep my money in a mason jar as well. What I will do with the other two jars, I do not yet know...stay tuned!

I started off taping around the jar with painters tape wherever I wanted to create a strip of paint. I chose Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Acrylic Craft Paint in Beach Glass -- the green -- and Pond -- the blue. I also created a chalkboard section with Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Chalkboard Acrylic Craft Paint in Gray.

I created the chalkboard section to be able to write my son's name or how much money is currently in the jar -- the choice is really up to him, and it's something fun. After all the paint dried, I used a white paint pen -- I know not the brand -- to create the line and dot designs around the jar. I thought this might add a touch of whimsy to the jar.

I thought it turned out quite well, and it's nice that you can still see into the jar. It's fun to see how much money you have collected so far.

I hope you are having a fantastic week. Happy Wednesday to you!


Have You Discovered Paper?

November 05, 2012
I am so excited to be able to announce to you that a couple of my creations are in this year's Discover Paper 2012 Holiday Guide. I am also very honoured to have my items among such amazing artists that have devoted their lives to paper. After looking through the Holiday Guide twice already -- the first time was quickly so that I could find where my own work was -- I have some good ideas for more Christmas gifts, and a greater respect for what can really be done with paper.

 My Jingle All the Way Christmas card is included in the Holiday Guide -- it's on page 38.

There are so many artists that I was excited to find included in the Holiday Guide. Artists that I look up to, and admire their work -- Sweet Harvey, Imeon Design, and Yellow Bird, Yellow Beard -- and artists that I am excited to have just discovered. I really can't describe the level of artistic workmanship in this year's Holiday Guide, except to say that you will find so many lovely cards, holiday decorations, wrapping paper and tags, calendars, stationery sets, art prints, three-dimensional artwork, and paper toys that will surely fill all your gift-giving needs -- and beyond.

The 2012 Holiday Guide also includes some fantastic DIY projects for you to do this holiday season. One of the projects that was included is a DIY that I made up a few weeks ago -- I don't know if you remember me sharing a few little teasers on my Facebook Page and on Twitter. I am so proud of this project, and hope that you will check it out on page 100 of the Holiday Guide. I'll also be sharing the DIY here on the blog later on this month.

Happy shopping!


3 Under-Rated Movies

November 02, 2012
My husband and I thoroughly enjoy watching movies, and I just wanted to share with you three movies that, I think, did not get the attention that they deserved from the box office:

1. Morning Glory - This movie is funny, witty, sad, happy, and every thing in between. It is one of the best performances that I have ever seen out of Rachel McAdams, and it showed a different side of Harrison Ford that I really enjoyed and wished that he would show more often. This film is, by far, one of the best ones that I have seen in the last few years.

2. Extraordinary Measures - Is it strange that I have chosen two films that star Harrison Ford? Perhaps. But it's not strange that I chose this movie. It's the first movie that Brenden Fraser has done in a long time that I have actually been interested in seeing, and it is one of those films that has you hoping and praying for that happy ending. It may seem to drag a bit at times, but the story is quite endearing and the characters are so very likeable -- even grumpy Harrison Ford.

3. Just Go With It - I didn't want to see this movie because I am not the biggest Jennifer Aniston fan, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it, found Aniston to be quite enjoyable in her role, and -- because of this film -- I laughed when I saw Dolph Lundgren in The Expendables 2. The kids did a fantastic job in their roles, and the other characters were sometimes a lot funnier than Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler -- don't get me started on Dave Matthews. I don't know how many times I have watched this film since the first time, but, I'll tell you, I feel like watching it right now.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend, and maybe you'll consider watching one of these movies! Peace and love to you.

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