Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Collections: Royal Doulton

As wedding gifts, my parents and gramma added to my collection of Royal Doulton Dolls (ceramic figurines), bringing my total to 6 (4 large, 2 small). I absolutely love these dolls - all but the small Amanda doll (in white) are antiques as the three of us agree that the older dolls are much prettier than the new ones. Hand-painted and beautifully crafted, they are timeless pieces.
Growing my collection meant re-arranging my glass cabinet - here's a better shot with the doors open:
It's unfortunate that these photos turned out so dark and grainy - it's really hard with winter lighting, but you get the general idea. On the top shelf you can see The Last Waltz (in yellow, with coordinating pitchers, also from my mom) and Amanda (in white). On the second shelf, from left to right, is Victoria (seated in pink flowers), Laurianne (seated in navy), Autumn Breezes (standing in red) and Goody Two Shoes (standing in red, the smaller one).

The wedding gift from my parents was Victoria:
She's absolutely beautiful - the pink flowered dress is breath-taking. My gramma has both Victoria and Laurianne in her collection - they look so cute together, sitting and chatting away. Laurie Anne is my middle name (and my gramma first child) and Victoria was the name of one of my great-great-grandmothers.

When gramma heard our good news, she immediately gave me Autumn Breezes from her own collection:
She's a perfect match to Goody Two Shoes, which gramma also gave me from her own collection - the red dress, the bonnet, even the purple-blue ribbon and green trim. They look lovely together! My gramma chose to give me Autumn Breezes since we technically got married in the fall (though at the very tail end of it!).

Each of these pieces holds special meaning and memories for me - I look forward to many years of arranging and re-arranging them!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Our First Christmas

It's a little late to be posting Christmas photos, but I just had to share this one little ornament I bought this year. I just had to commemorate our first Christmas together (as a married couple) and really liked this beautiful heart I found at Hallmark:
A nice sentimental piece to remember a very happy time!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

One month!

It's our one month anniversary today! I promise I won't do this every month... but I just had to say: married life suits me just fine! I mean, nothing much has changed, but we do call each other "husband" and "wife" way more often than necessary ("could my husband bring me a glass of water?") and it feels like we're back in the sweet puppy-dog-love stage again. It's been wonderful!

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 Word of the Year

My word of the year last year was "settle" - it was the perfect word for 2014. I settled into a lot of things, including (newly) married life. There's still much room for growth, but overall it was a settling year.

I had to think long and hard about a word of the year for this year. I felt pulled in a few different directions and pondered over a long list:

foster
nurture
nourish
simplify
cherish
cultivate
boost
present
provoke
stimulate
advance
challenge
indulge
encourage
promote

But then, as "words of the year" should, the word popped into my head a few days ago after a conversation with Pat: patience. I let it sit, pondering over it, and the longer I sat on it, the most right it felt.
A virtue I like to think I have a lot of, but really I need to work on cultivating it. I need to show more patience in all aspects of my life right now. I really want to move up and on to a new stage in life, but it isn't going to be an immediate shift. We need to work out many things first. Patience. I need to cherish this time in my life too and have patience. The next step will come. All at the right time.

What is your word of the year for 2015?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 Book List

I mentioned in my last post that I read 35 books in 2014. Here's the list:

  1. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
  2. The Wolves of Midwinter - Anne Rice
  3. The Modigliani Scandal - Ken Follett
  4. The Gods of Guilt - Michael Connelly
  5. Elephant Song - Wilbur Smith
  6. Looking for Alaska - John Green
  7. Boy, Snow, Bird - Helen Oyeyemi
  8. The Diary of a Young Girl (the definitive edition) - Anne Frank
  9. Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl
  10. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  11. A Place Called Freedom - Ken Follett
  12. My Mother's Secret - J.L. Witterick
  13. Helen of Troy - Margaret George
  14. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
  15. Hawthorn and Child - Keith Ridgway
  16. Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  17. Written in my Own Heart's Blood - Diana Gabaldon
  18. The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson
  19. Room - Emma Donoghue
  20. In the Orchard, the Swallows - Peter Hobbs
  21. Shadow of the Alchemist - Jeri Westerton
  22. Crooked Little Vein - Warren Ellis
  23. Various Positions - Martha Schabas
  24. Born Weird - Andrew Kauffman
  25. The Gentle Spirit - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  26. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage - Haruki Murakami
  27. The Little Old Lady who Broke All the Rules - Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
  28. Desert God - Wilbur Smith
  29. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - John Boyne
  30. Edge of Eternity - Ken Follett
  31. Prince Lestat - Anne Rice
  32. Mãn - Kim Thúy
  33. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
  34. I Am David - Anne Holm
  35. Drowning Ruth - Christina Schwarz
I've italicized those authors I've read before (13/35) and I've bolded the books that I read for book club (7/35).

When perusing this list, I think it becomes fairly obvious who my favourite authors are: Anne Rice, Wilbur Smith, Ken Follett, Diana Gabaldon (more obvious if you know that the book of hers I read last year was the eighth in the series...). I would highly recommend you read any of their work (for Diana Gabaldon I would recommend starting with Outlander). Besides these authors, I would highly recommend #6, #12, #14, #18, #20, #24, #26, #29 and #33.

This year, I hope to read even more books... I've set a goal of 25 books, with the caveat that they be books we already own. Seeing as we own more than 70 books that I haven't yet read, that shouldn't be too difficult. I just need to refrain from buying more.... as if that's going to happen!

What have you read recently and would recommend highly?

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 Goals

First, let's start by looking back on 2014 and seeing how far I got with my goals:
  1. Read at least 25 books - from those books that I already own (plus some new ones I'm sure). 
  2. Blog at least twice a week. 
  3. Get back into daily morning yoga (which ultimately means going to bed a bit earlier). 
  4. Get outside - hike, skate, bike, walk. 
  5. Grow some herbs and keep my other plants alive and thriving (which means repotting some of them). 
  6. Organize, organize, organize. Follow monthly declutter plan. Use up supplies and organize craft space. Donate things / clothes / dishes we don't use. Clean out the fridge and pantry. Keep things clean. Finish unfinished canvases and journals. Decorate with original art (including my own). 
  7. Update blog design. 
  8. Take a class - learn something new. 
  9. Put more thought into gifts and cards to loved ones. Make the most of every phone call and visit. 
  10. Be creative every day - be it in the kitchen, at my craft desk or on the couch with a journal or sampler.
Well... I read 35 books in 2014, so I crossed off my first goal. Otherwise, I didn't do enough to really cross any of the others off. Of all my years of blogging, last year I blogged the least. I didn't get back into yoga - though I did start exercising and kept it up until things got too busy with wedding plans. I barely went outside to exercise though and only skated once all year. I grew some herbs and plants.. and lost most of them to various reasons. I did organize some, but not enough, not nearly enough. I was creative, but not enough. I wasted too much time online doing nothing and not enough time doing things I really enjoy.

This year is going to be different. This year is going to be more intentional. This year, I'm going to thrive

15 goals for 2015:
  1. Read 25 books I already own (as of January 1st).
  2. Exercise three times a week (AKA get back into my gym routine).
  3. Practice yoga at least three time weekly.
  4. Master making pasta from scratch.
  5. Eat more healthily: less take-out, less processed/pre-packaged foods, less sugar, less pop, more fruits and veg, bring lunch to work everyday, etc.
  6. Find a good farmer's market / exotic food store in order to create new flavours and recipes.
  7. Organize my life: downsize wardrobe, craft room, kitchen, decorations, etc.
  8. Fill at least six sketchbooks and finish my Amber art book.
  9. Finish at least two cross-stitch projects.
  10. Practice sewing on my new (to me) machine and serger.
  11. Don't buy a single card - make them instead. Try to make gifts too.
  12. Blog at least twice weekly.
  13. Date night weekly.
  14. Travel to a new place.
  15. Spend less time online / on my phone. 
A typical list of goals for me. The theme for this year is definitely to forge a new, healthy routine. The most important thing I need to remember is to forget any missteps and get back on track as soon as possible.

What are your goals and resolutions for this year?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Surprise!

I have great hopes for my blog in 2015 - goals to talk about, photos to post - but first, I need to make my big announcement: Pat and I eloped on 12.13.14!
It took a bit of convincing - Pat wasn't so sure that I wouldn't want something bigger in the near future - but finally he was convinced and we bit the bullet. Once we found my ring, it took about 5 weeks to plan... in secret! That's right, we didn't tell ANYONE! After 13.5 years together, I wanted something low-key, sweet and simple and I wanted it to be just the two of us so that right afterwards we could escape on our honeymoon. It was perfect!
We were married at City Hall in Toronto and "ran off" to Niagara Falls for 2 days afterwards. I'm calling that our "pre-honeymoon" since we are planning on going somewhere further away for a longer time. We just haven't decided exactly where/when yet.
I'm really happy with how our photos turned out - all those posted above were taken by the photographer recommended on the City Hall website. The rest below I took in our hotel room the next day.
I found my ring at Spence - it was exactly what I wanted: 6 prongs on the diamond, low-profile and a gorgeous "side" view (not shown, but there are more diamonds / scroll-work on both rings along the side edges). We found Pat's ring a few weeks later at Ben Moss.

My dress and headband came from David's Bridal. I wanted a short dress and was leaning towards lace. They only had a few short white dresses and the only lace one was not flattering at all. As soon as I put on this grey one though, I knew. It was perfect.
We went to a local shop for my flowers - I was a bit worried on how they would turn out. I had seen a bouquet online that I liked and went with a few flowers in mind: anemones and ranunculus and those viburnum berrries. I was told that due to the time of year they wouldn't be able to order the anemones and only maybe would they be able to get the ranunculus. But surprise! I have both in my bouquet! They're all a bit more blue/purple than I imagined, but the bouquet was beautiful beyond belief. I absolutely loved it - and the jewel-tones of the dark purples matched the burgundy I had picked out for Pat's tie, my ribbon sash and my nail polish.
After that whirlwind fairytale weekend, we had to tell our parents. Yikes! I was more nervous about that than the ceremony! We put together a scrapbook album for both and wrapped it as an early Christmas gift. It went over VERY well - everyone was very happy for us. It was the best surprise ever!
I think of one the neatest things about the whole event was the story my gramma told me after she found out. I wore a white wool shawl when we went outside for a few photos - it belonged to my great-grandmother (my gramma's mom) and was my "something old". Apparently (I didn't know this and neither did my mom), my great-grandmother also eloped! During the great depression, married women couldn't work, so they kept it secret for almost a year in order to keep her job. And although she didn't have the shawl at her wedding, it was hers and I thought that was pretty serendipitous.

I'm looking forward to making this first year of married life the best year yet!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Goody Two Shoes

After spending the Thanksgiving long weekend up North with our families, Pat and I stopped in for a short visit with my gramma before continuing on our way home. While there, she gifted me with this beautiful Royal Doulton figurine, Goody Two Shoes (in acknowledgement for my recent promotion):
The 4th in my collection of Royal Doulton china figurines, this lovely lady had been in my gramma's collection for years. I'm honoured to have her now. Her smaller stature and vivid coral pink dress make her a perfect addition to the similarly-coloured vignette I have on the corner of the square set of shelves in our living room: 
Thank you gramma!