bunting t-shirt

Delightful tutorials for bunting flags seem to be everywhere these days but I don't want to clutter up my walls and apartment any more than they already are.  So when I saw this tutorial by Chea (who has my favourite blog name yet: Just a Bettie trying to be a Martha) I thought of course! why not put bunting on a t-shirt?  I had some great matching scraps and a lively turquoise t-shirt that I've been wanting to dress up for a while so I got started right away!  Chea's idea is really simple and instructions easy to follow so this only took me one episode of House Hunters International to finish :)



In preparation for (Canadian) Thanksgiving next weekend I've been trying out cranberry sauce recipes.  Giant Tiger, of all places, had whole fresh cranberries for a great price so I got a bunch.  The sauces both turned out deliciously well, although the relish was a bit "juicy" like a smoothie, next time I'll leave it on a rougher blend setting.  But the combonation of apple and cranberry was a fresh tangy new sensation that I'm going to try in many recipes from now on!  I won't be limiting these sauces to the holidays :)

Whole Cranberry Sauce (Left)
2 cups cranberries 
2 cups water
1 cup honey or raw sugar
Cook berries until the skin pops open, about 5 or 6 min. Bring to a boil, add honey, and boil 2 minutes. Let stand several hours, then refrigerate.

Quick Cran-Apple Relish (Right)
4 c. (1 lb) fresh cranberries
2 apples, quartered and cored
1/3 lemon, with peel
2 c. raw sugar
Wash cranberries and apples. Remove seeds from lemon. Put cranberries, apples, and lemon through food chopper. Add sugar and mix well. Chill.


rattie beds

I haven't used commercial litter products for my rats in ages, they mostly get shredded newspaper but even though its recycled and compostable the ink gets on my babies feet and the bits of paper fall out of the cages all over the floor.  Also shredding whole broadsheets is a pain.  So... I made a fabric liner that can be changed out and washed every couple of days keeping both the cage and my apartment fresher.  This fabric liner is the dimension of the bottom of their cage with lots of tunnels and cozy spaces to cuddle into!  The yellow base fabric is one big pocket that can be stuffed with newspaper, the blue tunnel has fabric inside to sneak through, the purple felt pocket is a smaller cozy sleep pocket, the brown tunnels are treat pockets, just narrow and long enough to make a fun game and finally the striped ruffles cover the seams and make a great chew/rip/shred toy.  Alice and Bella had a whole bunch of fun exploring all their new spaces!


rooftop photoshoot

Sinister/dark fashion photoshoot with Justine inspired by my countdown... Just about one month to go until my favouritest holiday of the year: Halloween!  The billboard on my rooftop deck makes for a great imprompto photoshoot set at all hours of the day and night so when we noticed the light making the drizzly rain look ominous we hopped up on the roof for a quick set.  You can see the entire shoot here, many of the photos are much more "fashion-y" as I'm trying to develop that side of my portfolio but these are my favourite halloween-y ones!  Can't wait!


everlasting mixed container

Thrillers, fillers and spillers - the recipe for a great mixed container!  And this 3-plant combo has been one of the toughest while still looking lovely containers I've ever grown.  I planted the container way back in May, it filled out well by August and as you can see still going strong now although getting a bit stringy/leggy.  The thriller is a striking orange/red Lantana, the filler a neutral Coleus and the purple double Petunia makes a good contrasting spiller.  These were all arbitrary picks based on what was going in the trash at the greenhouse I worked at but I must say these hybrids are real toughies and keep incredibly vibrant colour even in constant beating sun!


mod podge mini pumpkins

The farmers market had some fantabulously coloured mini pumpkins today and so my fall decorating has begun in ernest!  Kimberly posted a charming tutorial on her Bugaboo Blog explaining how to make this mod podged mini pumpkins for fall and halloween decor.  I wanted to make something I can place out now for festive colour that will also have a more  sinister feel as we get into October.  I picked out pumpkins in great white, orange and green and used tissue paper that has a darker essence with rich purple/gold on some and black letters on others but isn't distinctly halloween-y so I can put them out now.  Kimberly covers her whole pumpkins in tissue, but I wanted the vivid original colours to be hilighted.


5 minute lamp makeover

Another one of those items I've carted around on each move from apt to apt is a great tall Ikea tube lamp.  The only reason I've kept it this long is that it has a really convenient step button to turn it on and off which is fantastic when your arms are full of stuff, as mine often are!  The paper shade was battered and burnt, the bottom ring had fallen off entirely but the internal metal structure was perfectly fine so... I stripped all the paper off and started again!  I measured across the metal circles at the top and bottom of the lamp to find the diameter of the lamp then multiplied that by "pi" to find the circumference.  Then I measured from top to bottom of the lamp to find the height.  I cut a piece of fabric in these dimensions (plus 1" hem allowance) from a translucent fabric, sewed it into a tube and stapled it onto the top and bottom supports of the lamp.  Quick and simple solution to keep a lamp I love!


ready to go tomatoes

It's harvest time on my tomato balcony and I have many juicy beauties, each with different tastes, consistencies and even colours!  I wanted to combine all these flavours, so I chopped up a few of each tomato into a glass bottle along with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pecorino cheese, garlic, rosemary, basil, oregano and fennel - all from either my garden or the farmers market.  This great mixture can be poured over leaf lettuce, other vegetables, rice, couscous, or pasta for a variety of quick "slow food" on the go options!


wipe-able recipe book

When I first moved away to university my Mum typed up a bunch of recipes for me and put them in plastic sleeves in a plastic binder, making it super easy to wipe off spills.  Over the last 5 years I've become quite attached to most of the recipes in the binder, but tired of their black and white, school-paper-esque appearance so I gave my recipe book a makeover!  The cover design is from Jacinda Boneau and the flower note page design is by Yasmine (A Print A Day)  I'll be posting recipes one at a time over the coming months, you can print them and collect them in clear sleeves and a binder to make your own!
1 - Honey Orange Fruit Salad
2 - Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie
3 - Cheddar Beer Dip
4 - Garlic Feta Spread
5 - Potato Hummous
6 - Waldorf Salad
7 - Egg Pizza Rollups
8 - Garlic Soup
9 - White Bean Soup
10 - Honey Glazed Carrots
11 - Spaghetti Squash
12 - Creamed Peas on Toast
13 - Vegetarian Quiche
14 - Fancy Macaroni
15 - Rockin Moroccan Stew


a new twitter background

I've found some great printables on A Print A Day but Yasmine also creates some great digital graphics.  I finally settled on one of her clever repeating backgrounds for my Twitter page.  Just the right combination of botanical / outlaw and very witty indeed! 


just something i made

With a few quick folds and a swipe of glue these cute little printable envies were ready to go!  Thanks to @CatheHolden, a California graphic designer who posts lots of inspirational design ideas and graphic freebies :)  Today I had some ATCs to go in the mail so I printed some of these lovely envelopes.  If you scale them small they'd work as seed packets but I put 2 to a page, large enough to hold a few cards.  You can see the designs I chose, but there are many more available on Cathe Holden's blog Which ones would you use?  First person to answer (and privately email me with their address) will recieve a custom Artist Trading Card mailed the envelope of their choosing! 


playing with toys = better life skills!

frustrated by Hipsters invading your neighbourhood?  make fun of them with LEGOs!

The Riverside Cafe has quickly become the trendy place in Legoville!  It all started with an iPhone snapshot of a hipster songwriter peddling his mixtapes making it into LeGO, y'know that rag that everyone reads on the metro.  The article was seen by an extreme sport video producer who wanted to use the cafe and the rocks across the river as the location for his next video shoot.  The one of a kind extreme scooter meet brought hundreds of SLR wielding fans to capture the action.  The star happened to be an attractive young local waitress which made for great feel good summer filler, so all the national glossy mags picked up the images.  Vogue also picked up another shot from LeGO of one of the scooter guys' trendy girlfriends standing on the roof wearing a black mens bob.

All the media attention was enough to pack the place on weeknights, prompting the cafe to run a series of cheeky and well recieved advertisements.  The ones downtown featured a pretentious hipster wearing a parody of the hair that first made the place famous and an ironic sherrif's badge lying contemplatively on the roof of the cafe, while the ones run in the commuter corridors feature tongue in cheek messages about staying downtown to find a relaxing outdoor setting instead of rushing off to the gridlocked suburbs.
Update: the Riverside Cafe ad campaign has once again made it into LeGO when protesters across the city painted one corner of the billboard, covering up the Octan logo on a model's chest.  Riverside Cafe representatives have responded to say that the photos were taken during the extreme biking challenge, that the scooterist was wearing his sponsors clothing, and the choice of shirt was not made by anyone affiliated with the cafe.


The Riverside Cafe

I've been on the phone a bunch this week and I needed something to entertain myself while on hold.  At first I was just playing around with bits and pieces, but slowly the Riverside Cafe started to take shape!  I love it because it has the same influences I would want if I was going to open my own place.  Its mostly made of glass, with one rock wall and arches onto an island platform, letting the river run right through!  I've used this season's colours as my influence: the grey/yellow combo and oxblood red.  The furniture is reused from residential lego kits and accent pieces mostly from industrial sets (such as the barrels, the boat bench and the spool table), just how I like it in real life!



Grace Bonney (@designsponge) twittered this morning about an interesting design website: Pantone's Colorstrology.com  I'm not usually one for horoscopes, and the text part of this website was just like that - so broad they could apply to anyone.  But I did love the aesthetic appeal of assigning a colour to each day of the year.  I looked up my birthday (Aster Purple) and today's date (Elderberry) which are both really charming, a bit ethereal and not colours I'd usually choose to work with.  The main words associated with the Aster Purple were unusual, instinctive yet rational and the main words for Elderberry were: refined, poetic with a highly aesthetic nature.

Instead of taking these associations literally I used the colours and words to inspire my choice of flowers at the farmers market today!  The Aster Purple inspired by my birthday was the first thing I spotted (instinctive) and not the typical daisies or roses that were also available (unusual).  When I displayed them I made a very simple bunch in a few clear jars (rational) but then tipped one jar on an angle (unusual).  Elderberry was also a great inspiration both conceptually and in colour.  I chose flowers with very fine textures (highly aesthetic nature), a hydrangea with a quiet elderberry colour but opulent association (refined) and muted grey-greenery for some slightly whimsical contrast (poetic)


tonight's doc choice: Objectified

Helvetica captivated me far longer than I thought it would, and now I'm spotting that damn typeface everywhere so I have a feeling I'll enjoy Gary Hustwit's newest film Objectified which finally won out in my decision of what to watch tonight.

Runners up: 
All Is Number: Math Off the Beaten Path
BBC Horizon: Synesthesia
BBC 2 Natural World: A Farm for the Future
NG Big, Bigger, Biggest Oil Rig


vintage bicycles

Great thrift store find - a shimmery teal Made in Canada steel bicycle in great condition for $4.99!  I'm super happy cause I haven't had a bike in months since mine was stolen.  Just some quick maintenance and air in the tires and she was good to go!  How did I know it was a great bike and what did I do when I brought her home?  I've found and lost, worked on and broken so many old bikes I've developed a system for when I first find one, mostly to stop myself from bringing home more greasy metal than my apartment can handle! 

Finding the bike:  be it a thrift store, garage sale or ditch find I only bring home bikes that can be fixed up with the simple maintenance steps I list later in this post.  Anything requiring more work than that isn't worth it (for me anyways, bike nerds - go nuts!) First thing I check is simple: make sure all the key parts are there: frame, 2 wheels, gears, sprockets, chains, handlebar, pedals, brakes.  All the parts should be in good condition- check for scratches, dents and rust damage but seized chains or small piece replacements are pretty easy and rust can be removed depending on your determination!  Check the comfort and condition of the handlebars and seat, although these can be replaced, its better if they don't have to be.  Make sure nothing is embedded in the tires themselves, but a bike pump or new tubes is a small investment if the tires are flat.  If you're feeling particularly investigative - check the frame to see what the bike is made of and where it was made.  As a bonus its nice to see if the bike has any special vintage features such as fenders, lights or even a licence plate!

Tuning it up: When I bring a bike home for the first time I do a few simple things.  Start by wiping down the bike with a soapy rag then clean soft cloth.  Use a soapy toothbrush to clean out any bad spots and steel wool for major rust buildups.  Clean the chain, gears, shifters, deraileur and all moving parts of the drive train with WD-40 then lubricate with a bike specific waterproof chain oil.  Inspect the brake handles, lines and brake pads and lubricate if necessary.  Use a pressure gauge if you have one otherwise sit on the bike to check the pressure in the tires.  Replace the tubes if necessary and use a bike pump to keep them well inflated.  This will help reduce wear and tear and make it easier to ride!

Caveat - I don't claim to be a bike expert by any means.  This advice is simply what I've learned to do by some internet research and lots of profanity inducing trial-and-error over the last number of years.


5 minute bright bookshelf

A quick and simple way to liven up a room that features a bookshelf is using the books themselves.  My first step was to remove about 1/3 of the books on the shelves to reduce some of the cluttered feel.  Then I wanted to reorganize them in a way that would improve the room.  I'm a visual person, I can often remember what a book looks and feels like even if I forget the author, title or even what the book is about.  Sometimes my desire to read a book is driven by wanting a particular aesthetic feel when reading: do I want to flip through brash glossy pages?  Do I want something soft and grainy?

So, I decided that colour and texture would be the best way to organize my books this time (I've tried a variety of other ways including: size, alphabetical and even my own version of the dewey decimal categories)    After perusing the interweb a bit I found this article from Design*Sponge and this exceptionally well written piece for great inspiration.  Some people arrange by hue or gradient within the rainbow theme, but I wanted to change it up a bit.  To make the bookshelf fit my own style I arranged the books by height and stacked some horizontally to avoid visual repetition and on some shelves I split paperbacks from hardcovers to create some contrast.  


street art

St. Catharines Edition


spicy red pepper birds nests

Inspired by the Wok challenge on tonight's Top Chef finale, I broke out my electric wok (not as good as the authentic flame top ones, but oh well!) and put a bundle of my garden peppers to use.  First selecting smaller diameter peppers in a variety of colours, I sliced them into thin circles and lightly fried them in some chili oil then sat them aside for later.  Next, I fried up some shrimp with chili flakes and red pepper powder, also sittng them aside for later.  Lastly I filled the wok 1/3 with water (leaving the spice and oil residue in the wok) and added vegetable stock once the water was boiling.  I was thinking of noodles, but I found vermicelli birds nests in my cupboard!  
I sat the nests gently into the bottom of the wok, being careful not to break up the nest form and lightly simmered until they were just barely soft.  I fished them out with a kitchen skimmer but you could use a slotted spoon or anything else you have handy.  The nests can be served either in the bottom of a bowl topped with the peppers, shrimp and broth as a soup or on a plate without the broth!


edible flower salads

When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization. - Daniel Webster  And in my opinion, farmers markets are the foundation of any strong community, a cornerstone for alternative thinking and a good source for creativity.  It's been lovely to visit different markets and draw inspiration from unusual and unique stuff I've never seen before, but I'm happy to be home in my community with vendors that feel like neighbours selling produce and products that I enjoy playing with.
I picked up two bags of crisp fresh lettuce today to compliment a number of edible flowers that need harvesting from my garden.  #1: A tangy colourful assorted leaf mix, combined with red and orange nasturtiums and topped off with poppyseed dressing for a sharp peppery wake up your mouth salad.  #2: crunchy iceberg lettuce with yellow broccoli flowers (much milder still distinct raw broccoli taste), sunflower seeds and strawberry vinagrette for a mild, sweet, chillin in the afternoon salad.


with these wings as inspiration

Halloween comes early in my world!  I took a trip to Value Village the day they set up their Halloween displays to get first pick from 20+ different types of wings!!  I think these green ones will be perfect for my choice of Halloween costume this year: La Fee Verte.  Also wondering what I can possibly do with this many mannequin heads??

From head to toe these are my inspirations 
(I wish I could just buy them all!)  
Hairpiece: Blasphemina
Felted Base for Wings: TianaCHE
Tutu: MTcoffinz
Shoe Feathers: Sofisticata


summer mementos

I wanted to remember my trip to Muskoka, and maybe bring home some gifts for friends but by the end of August my funds were running short.  I think I settled on a simple but sophisticated solution :)  I found vintage Muskoka postcards at the Grace and Speed gift shop for $1 each and framed them with glass floating frames from Dollarama for $1.25 each.  Total cost per gift/memento: $2.25 = perfect!


collage ATCs

I'm wringing the last bit of craft time out of my summer vacation - making a variety of collaged cards and ATC sized journals with the scraps of paper I've accumulated and need to clean out before school starts.  I got my ATCsforall.com gallery updated, thanked everyone for their summer swaps, arranged a few trades and I'm ready to surf the forums looking for some new projects!


urban modern living

Spent the day helping my brother (@Stephen_Job) move into his swanky new Yonge/Bloor condo.  I'm glad I have an urban / modern living kinda sibling to balance out my hippie nature.  I hope he knows I'll be visiting lots to use his place for photoshoots!  Check out his twitter feed for some really rad urban design and architecture info


lookout park

On my last day in Gravenhurst I wanted to bask in the sun on the Canadian shield one final time.  The first time I came up here it was at night to get a shot of the RMS Segwun from the other side and it wasn't until a few days later that I realized it wasn't just a lookout but also had a rugged northern style path down to the water.  What a great use of municipal space - allowing public access to the water and a walk through the bush that feels like you're at a cottage, not in a city park!  My favourite part is the stairs that look like they're coming straight out of the rock :)