Sunday, November 30, 2008

Love Notes III (aka my tribute to Neil Young)

This 'love note' is in honour of the incredible Neil Young (and Wilco!) concert I had the pleasure of seeing tonight. Amazing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Love Notes I

Well, here I am another year older and feeling a lot of love. Nothing like a birthday to make you realize how many special people you have in your life!

Appropriately, it is love that inspired my final project for the Photo 101 class I'm taking.

Every day I take the bus to and from work. I often notice how sad and preoccupied people look going about their business. Sometimes I find myself wishing I could do something to make people stop and smile.

It crossed my mind that it would be an interesting project to leave 'guerrilla love notes' in unexpected places. I thought it would be neat to plant quiet reminders of hope, reassurance and positivity to help people reconnect with what's truly important. Or at least to stop and think about something outside of themselves and their troubles.

Thus my final project idea was born. I decided to create a series of quiet, intimate sentiments linked to images. Over the next few days I will be posting these images so keep checking back for new ones. I hope they make you pause and smile. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Crowdis Bridge Love & Photos

I am a very lucky girl.

Why? Because I count myself among the friends of Crowdis Bridge.

Crowdis Bridge is Andrew Fedora, Ben Furey and Jason Rudderman - three gentlemen I had the pleasure of meeting through Dennis. And aside from being genuinuely nice guys, they're also very talented musicians. You can see for yourself here:

And here!

And here!

Aren't they great?

So word got out that I like to take pictures. And Andrew, being the sweetheart that he is, asked me to take some pictures of the band for their upcoming debut album. I was honoured and excited to be given the chance. It meant a lot to me that someone out there thought my pictures were nice enough that they sought me out specifically to snap a photo or two.

Granted we're friends. And the Crowdis Bridge budget jives with my fee -that is to say, I "charged" brunch for my time... Nonetheless, any opportunity to shoot is an opportunity to learn and grow so I jumped at the chance to flex my band portraiture muscles. :)

Well, I had three handsome subjects but pretty crappy weather, it being the first snowstorm of the winter and all (waking up to 30 cm of snow was both magical and daunting this morning). So we tried a few outdoor shots but I couldn't feel my fingers, the boys were freezing and I wasn't feeling the love and warmth that I know exists with Crowdis Bridge.

So we headed over to their practice space (aka, Ben's girlfriend's apartment) and warmed up. The light was fairly low but I had borrowed a flash from a friend and figured it couldn't be that hard to figure out... bounce off ceiling, etc, etc.

I'm sad to report that the pictures didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. I think if I were stronger technically, I could have done a bang-up job. But alas, the flash was frustrating and then died on me. I didn't have extra batteries on hand and wasn't about to walk anywhere in the dismal weather conditions. I tried setting up the tripod but in such close quarters, I couldn't fit them all in without squishing myself in the corner.

Oh dear, now I sound like I'm whining. Trust me, I had fun! And would love to see myself doing this on a regular basis. But I am well aware of how much I need to learn.

So with out further ado, I give you a preview of the Crowdis Bridge Photo Shoot 11/22/08. Hopefully as the band grows, so too will my skill set and I'll get the chance to do it again! Thanks for the awesome day guys! xo.

(This one (above) is grainy, grainy, grainy. But of course, it has to be my favourite. Darn it all.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Doodle Stitching

Friday was my day off last week and I decided to do only the things I truly wanted to do. I don't think I even vacuumed or washed the dishes (which is actually an amazing feat of will power if you can believe it!).

So what does "doing what I want do" constitute? A three-hour trip to Chapters! And it really was three hours of booky goodness because my brother was kind enough to drop me off AND pick me up. Yay!

I bought an awesome new sewing book but I will expound its virtures in another post. What I want to tell you about tonight is the inspiration I found while browsing through the home section... you know, where they keep Christine-crack items such as journals, stationary and every brillant office gadget you had no idea you needed.

While perusing the journals I couldn't help but notice the ones with famous quotations printed on their covers. Some of them were lame. For example, "Reach for the moon because even if you fail you'll be among the stars." How is that inspiring?! I don't like it.

But one jumped out at me and seared itself on to my brain. A few sage words from Mr. Henry David Thoreau: American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic and philosopher (thank-you wikipedia).

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined."

Well that's a nice sentiment if ever I heard one. And one that I need to meditate on and repeat over and over to myself. It's the law of attraction neatly packaged into 13 words and I thought to myself, "That's something Dennis and I need to remind ourselves of on a regular basis."

[If you know me personally, you know why this struck a chord. If you don't know me, suffice it to say, I am currently hinging my life on hope and the aforementioned law of attraction. Which is an admittedly flimsy ideal when up against the constant barrage of daily life, especially in the service industry].

Skip forward 3 hours from my Chapters adventure. I'm clicking through my favourite blogs and link from feeling stitchy to the wonderful world of Aimee Ray. Her website is for goodness sake! How could it not be love at first sight? Her work is based on the premise... well, she explains better herself in an interview with feeling stitchy:

"I have always done random sketches in my sketchbooks, usually tiny and done with very little thought- almost stream of consciousness. :) They can be actual drawings of things or just abstract shapes and lines. I guess it just struck me one day that some of them might make cool embroidery art, so I blew one up and transferred it to fabric. These have become some of my favorite embroideries I have done."

I love this idea! I absolutely adore the art of embroidery and am taken with the idea that you can create anything you want with a needle and thread.

So, borrowing heavily from some of Aimee Ray's designs I found on flickr, look at the pattern I designed! I'm super proud of it and am working on it every spare minute I get. I think it's going to be AWESOME! If it turns out as nice as I hope, I will frame it and hang it in my sewing room as a constant reminder that every stitch I sew is me heading confidently in the right direction. :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happiness Is...

... a raisin bran muffin fresh out of the oven
... a hot cup of tea
... and something fun to stitch!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Portrait Practice

I haven't written about my photography course in awhile so I figure tonight is a good time to catch you up.

During the past few weeks we've covered many of the technicalities of taking a good picture: aperture, shutter speed, exposure and depth of field. Now we're on to the more important topic of content. Having said that, content is nothing if you don't understand the technical... so I guess it's a chicken and egg thing.

Anyway, this week we learned about portraiture. My favourite topic! My dream job would involve taking lots of pictures of people and telling their stories. My favourite style of portraiture is documentary and environmental (As in, people in their environment. The person and their location being equal halves to a complete story). Thanks to my awesome teacher, I now have a new photography hero to drool over: Arnold Newman. He is famous for saying, "...we don't take pictures with our cameras, but with our hearts and minds." Goosebumps!

I am blessed to have a little girl in my life who loves to get her picture taken. This would be my niece, Rhianna. She's beautiful, spunky and has lots of patience while I'm fiddling with my camera settings. That's right folks, I'm still in manual. (And kinda sorta getting the hang of it too!). Below are a few of the best shots from our time together.

If you or someone you know is interested in a photo shoot (and doesn't mind waiting around while I figure out settings between shots) let me know, I would love to get some practice in!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I dropped into our local yarn store a few days ago and couldn't resist picking up a package of iron-on embroidery transfers from Sublime Stitching. This company is great. Their motto is "This ain't your gramma's embroidery!" and how true! They have the cutest patterns for sexy librarians, forest friends, monsters and zombies, tattoo alphabets and best of all... ROBOTS! I bet you can guess which one I picked up.

For some reason I felt that the robots were pleading to be stitched onto dish towels. So here is dishtowel number one. This little guy can be found chillin' on my oven. Every time I see him, he makes me grin. Robots are awesome.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pretzels and Leeks Together Again

This week I want to make a better effort at eating healthily. Or should I say, a better effort at preparing my own healthy meals. I try to make healthy choices at work and I often find myself picking up vegetarian sushi in lieu of fast food or subway. But working nights makes dinner preparation difficult.

Having said that, my schedule this week is nothing short of amazing. I only have two night shifts! That's five whole nights of cooking yummy food. Yay!

Tonight I made pretzels. This turned out to be a more time intensive process than I had anticipated. It wasn't hard, there were just a lot of steps. I found the recipe in the October 2007 issue of Canadian Living. You can find it online here. The only change I made was I used 2 cups white and 2 cups whole wheat flour. Also, I only had to bake them for 20 minutes til they were a pleasing golden brown.

Behold the greatness of homemade pretzels!

I needed to pair these puppies up with something so I decided soup would be nice. I flipped through my recipe book and came across my Mom's recipe for Leek & Potato Soup. The recipe is easy peasey and who doesn't like leeks?! Ahhhh... leeks.

The best thing about this soup aside from its awesome taste, is its pleasing green colour. You can practically see the nutrients leaping into your belly.

Lil's Leek & Potato Soup
6 leeks thinly sliced
4 large potatoes peeled and diced
8 cups of chicken broth
2 cloves of garlic, minced.

Bring soup to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool. Puree in blender. Reheat soup on medium and add 1 cup of milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Voila!

The hungry masses were pleased.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy (belated) Halloween!

I'm recovering from a bout of pneumonia which is why the blog's been oh so quiet. Our Halloween was quiet too. We didn't dress up. We didn't go to any parties. And we only had one trick or treater!

Instead, I puttered around in the kitchen making cookies. (One can never be too sick to make cookies, can they?!). I found this very festive and seasonal recipe on my friend's blog with bite. The recipe is ridiculously easy although maybe should be doubled because now I have half a can of pumpkin that I'm wondering what to do with. Also, don't skimp on the chocolate chips! I used a cup and a half and think 2 cups or more would have been... awesome. :)

Also, I found the dough to be a little sticky during the shaping process. I always use a mini ice scoop for uniform size and the dough kept getting stuck.

I decided to make these deluxe pumpkin cookies so I stole a recipe for Maple Butter Frosting from Bakerella. I only varied the recipe in that I used 3 tsp of real maple syrup rather than maple flavouring. I found the icing had a very light hint of maple that complimented the pumpkin and chocolate very well!

So Dennis and my brother Stephen were handy for the taste-test. I set them up with a plain cookie and a frosted cookie and asked for detailed reactions for both.

Dennis: "The frosted cookie is by far the superior cookie."

Stephen: "I like the frosting but it's very rich and sweet so one cookie would be enough. But I could eat a crate of unfrosted cookies. Those are GOOD!"

So there you have it. Boyfriend and brother approved! I think I'll add this to my "to make again" recipe collection.