Saturday, December 31, 2011

366Pages Starts Tomorrow!

It's the last day of the year! That means 366Pages, my yearlong sketchbook challenge, starts tomorrow!
Sign up now if you haven't already done so!

Why? This workshop will push you to journal everyday, with daily prompts & examples to spur you on. You'll find that the daily routine you develop will increase your creativity in all aspects of your life!

Don't be intimidated by the "yearlong" part - there's no pressure. Follow along at your own pace & end up with a sketchbook full of inspiration to get you into your creative groove!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you got to spend the day with your loved ones!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Date Turnovers

Since my grandparents have been going through a rough time lately, they haven't really been in the mood for celebrating Christmas much. They didn't decorate & my grandma didn't make any cookies, including her famous date turnovers.
Naturally, as I was baking up a storm these last few weeks anyway, I had to add her recipe to my list. I just made them on Wednesday & they turned out perfectly (despite a vague recipe, calling for "enough flour to form a stiff dough" & "cook dates with enough water to form a thick paste").
I had leftover date filling, so I mixed in some chopped pecans & wrapped it in puffed pastry... I hope it turned out, I haven't tried it yet. That's the pastry I displayed on my cake plate earlier.

Since today is my grandma's birthday, we're going to stop on our way through town (as we head home for the holidays). I'm bringing her a tin of baking, including plenty of the turnovers.

Happy Birthday Gramma!

Our Christmas

Pat & I had our Christmas Wednesday night.
I was really happy with how the gifts looked, all decked out in red. Almost too pretty to open....

Almost.
It was one of our best Christmas' here yet, despite our knowing half our gifts in advance. Still, there were still a few surprises...

Like this:
This is definitely the highlight gift for me: a 4-in-1 cake plate / dip dish / punch bowl! I had seen it when Pat & I were browsing Canadian Tire a while back, but I never thought he'd get it for me! It's the type of thing he just rolls his eyes & nods sarcastically at while I point out how awesome it is.

So first it's a cake plate:
with
or without the dome lid (that counts as 2 in the 4-in-1, even though it's technically the same thing).

Doesn't that date pastry look delicious displayed this way? I can't wait to make an actual cake & really try it out!

Second, or third I guess, it's also a dip bowl:
A nice size for salsa & tortilla chips, or veggies & dip, or whatever you fancy.

Lastly - this is the coolest - it's also a punch bowl!
How awesome is that?! What a versatile serving piece! Plus, it's Anchor glass, so it's very sturdy.

I love it! Thanks Pat!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Charming!

Yesterday was a great day. I was productive, I hand-delivered some earrings to 2 customers, Pat & I had our Christmas... but the icing on the cake was the charming fellow who stopped me in the street to tell me I was beautiful!

This story deserves telling.

I was walking down the street to meet up with one of my customers, when I heard a car honk the horn. I wasn't sure what it was about, but I did notice a black car with the window rolled down pull into the driveway of an apartment building. I didn't recognize the car, so I continued on my way.

Well, wouldn't you know it, the guy drove around the block & stopped beside me to say hi. He was smiling & held his hand out the window to shake mine. Curious, I figured the guy deserved at least a hello. He introduced himself & said he had to stop me to tell me I was beautiful instead of just going home & regretting it forever.
"With that hat, you look like you walked out of a magazine."

Seriously. Direct quote.

Needless to say, I was flattered.

I declined his number & he said to tell Pat that he was a very lucky man. Pat better step up his game though - charm like that is hard to resist!

My Creative Space

At Thanksgiving, my mom asked me to hem a tablecloth for her.
(Yes, I know, I'm only getting around to it now. What can I say? I'm a procrastinator. But at least it's done. You can stop nagging now mom!)
It's a lovely wine red with a simple woven checkered design featuring sprigs of foliage that are originally autumnal, but can easily stretch into the winter season. As predicted, it took all of 30 minutes to cut, iron & hem.
And there's enough left over fabric to make 8 napkins. I should be able to whip those up this afternoon between loads of laundry & one final batch of cookies!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My New Tablet

Pat's laptop died a few months ago & mine has been doing poorly for well over a year, so we've been shopping for upgrades for a while. I couldn't decide if I wanted to go with a new laptop, or a smaller netbook or tablet. Besides basic internet browsing, I need my laptop for editing photos, listing & blogging, so I didn't think a netbook or tablet would suit my needs. Still, 2 new laptops were a bit out of our price range right now, especially since Pat needs a really good one for his work as a software developer (he gets a work laptop but ideally uses both).

Rogers has a deal on right now - if you sign up for 2 new phones, you get a free Samsung Galaxy tablet. We're both sort of looking for new phones too, so Pat started looking into the tablets a bit more. He scoped out some different models & found that the Lenovo Ideapad Tablet K1 had very similar specs to the Galaxy but was half the price.

Futureshop has a 2 week return policy, so we decided to just go ahead & get one. If we didn't like it, we could return it without any hassle.
Needless to say, I won't be returning this baby!
I am in love! It's the perfect size & portability. It isn't as thin or flimsy as the Galaxy or iPad & has a leather-like plastic on the back that gives it a really nice feel & grip. Unlike the Galaxy & iPad, it also has a mini-HDMI out & an SD slot, making it a bit more versatile & accessible.
It's a touchscreen, which took all of 2 seconds to get used to. There are 5 "desktops" to slide between & tons of apps to download for free (or pay for but yeah right!). I love it for internet, email, social media & games.
I LOVE it! The first week we had it, I barely let Pat touch it I was playing on it so much! It isn't great for typing long messages because of the touch screen (copy/paste is tricky) - but I really just need a bluetooth keyboard to fix that problem (they have nice ones for tablets that fold into a case). I didn't think I would like it so much, but it's just so handy!

Speaking of cases, I had to get something to protect it. I opted for the sweet orange & grey plaid flannel one:
As for Pat, he got himself a new laptop. It's also a Lenovo Ideapad (though I'm not sure which model). I must say, we're both really impressed with Lenovo. Great quality for a great price!

I still use my old laptop for editing photos, which I'll continue to do for the time being. Eventually I may switch to using Pat's laptop for that, but I'll have to learn how to use the Dvorak keyboard layout first (Pat switched from qwerty since Dvorak is easier on his hands & will hopefully delay carpal tunnel for a few years... but it makes it impossible for others to use his laptop since all the keys are still in qwerty. Which means when you press an F on Pat's laptop, you get a vowel instead!).

Do you have a tablet? Do you like it?

Monday, December 19, 2011

366Pages Giveaway Winner

I think it's about time to announce the winner of my 366Pages giveaway!

There were 16 entries from 5 different people, so the odds were pretty good! I used random.org to pick a number between 1 & 16...

*drum roll*


The 11th comment:
Congratulations Angela! I'll be in contact with you shortly!

If you didn't win, don't worry! There's still lots of time to sign up! All you have to do is head to one of my shops & look for a 366Pages listing. These would make great gifts for all your crafty friends & family - what a fun year of bonding & creating that could be! I can't wait!

Mosaic Monday

It's Mosaic Monday! I hope you'll join us - it's really easy! Just make a photo mosaic - you can use whatever photo editing software you like, or a website such as the mosaic maker & photos from Flickr - & then post it on your blog. Go ahead & pick a theme if you want, but don't feel like you have to. Have fun with it!
Make sure to include a link back to my blog so that everyone can participate. Then come back here & submit a link to your blog post (using the "add your link" button at the bottom). I'll be looking at & commenting on each one!

Here's mine for this week: red & green macro.

Here's the list of mosaics for this week. Once you've blogged, click the button below to add your blog post link.



Friday, December 16, 2011

A Little Update

I'm sorry I sort of just disappeared this week - I had big plans but then an old, unwelcome acquaintance came for a visit. There's nothing quite like cancer to make a mess of the best laid plans...

Cancer has been silently stalking both my & Pat's families lately & reared its ugly head this week in more than one place.

That sounds very dramatic, but it was a very emotional week... anyway...

First, my great uncle, my gramma's youngest brother, passed away last Thursday from stomach cancer. It was very sudden - we found out less than a month ago that he had it & that it was terminal, that the doctors could do nothing but manage his pain. We're grateful that he didn't suffer for long. Pat & I traveled home for his funeral early this week.

The same day we found out my great uncle had terminal stomach cancer, we also discovered that my aunt - my gramma's youngest daughter, the one who fought breast cancer a couple years ago - had "a spot" on her femur. We found out on Wednesday that she also has spots on her liver. The doctors are positive though & she started treatment this week. My aunt is a fighter & we all know she'll get through this. Prayers for a speedy recovery are much appreciated.

While we were home, Pat received an update on his extended family. His mom has 9 siblings (I think) & his dad has well over a dozen (Pat can't even remember them all), so it's hard to keep track of all the aunts & uncles. Still, 2 of his aunts have cancer & so does his grandma (& a couple uncles aren't doing so well either). His grandma has it in more than one location & isn't opting for treatment.

So... this Christmas will be about family, even more than usual. We're going to go out of our way to visit with as many people as we can. I want to get to Powassan to visit with my dad's side of the family - it's been years. Same for Pat's dad's side - luckily, a dinner is being organized, so we'll be able to visit with his grandma & aunt & anyone else who has been doing poorly but hasn't told anyone yet.

And so....... I haven't blogged. I spent all day Wednesday in bed with a novel, my sketchbook & my tablet. Yesterday, I baked up a storm (see my updated sidebar list!) & plan on doing the same today & into the weekend. Next week will be all about getting my blogs ready for the holidays - I don't want things to get too quiet here while I'm busy having fun with my family!


Lastly, I haven't yet revealed the winner of the 366Pages giveaway - in fact, I decided to extend the giveaway until tonight. So if you haven't entered, what are you waiting for?! Sign up HERE!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Glasses

My new glasses came in the other day. I got 2 pairs for the price of one - they're both the same, one black, one green:
The black ones are a little more conservative & professional... but they're fun too. The arms have a bit of a design to them, with hot pink on the inside peeking through.
The green ones are probably my favourite, even though Pat doesn't like them so much:
They're funky & really bring out the colour of my eyes.
The arms on these ones are coppery-brown.

My prescription is really only for distances & is pretty weak, so I don't foresee myself wearing them all that often. But they're still a fun accessory to have!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mosaic Monday

It's Mosaic Monday! I hope you'll join us - it's really easy! Just make a photo mosaic - you can use whatever photo editing software you like, or a website such as the mosaic maker & photos from Flickr - & then post it on your blog. Go ahead & pick a theme if you want, but don't feel like you have to. Have fun with it!
Make sure to include a link back to my blog so that everyone can participate. Then come back here & submit a link to your blog post (using the "add your link" button at the bottom). I'll be looking at & commenting on each one!

Here's mine for this week: burgundy.

Here's the list of mosaics for this week. Once you've blogged, click the button below to add your blog post link.



Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Christmas Wish List (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of my Holiday Wish List (you can find Part 1 here) - the stocking stuffer edition!

I love getting a stocking... there's just something magical about pulling out a multitude of miniature gifts! Here are a few things I'd love to find in my stocking, in case you were scrambling for a few last minute items for anyone on your list.

The first thing I think of when I think of stocking stuffers (besides undies & socks) is jewelry. I've had a thing for triangles lately, so these silver studs by MitzMetals are perfect!

Pins are an accessory I don't think of often, but love switching up all the time. This beautiful porcelain white dove by StudioByTheForest would get a lot of wear this time of year!

Handmade soap is something else that is always welcome in a stocking. This peppermint soap by KBShimmer is especially festive!

Christmas ornaments are also a perfect size for sticking into stockings! As you saw earlier today, I'm partial to stained glass ornaments - this lovely 3D snowflake by SNLCreations would be a wonderful addition to my collection.

Lastly, the best stocking stuffers are the personal ones. What does your recipient enjoy? I love reading, so a bookmark is a great idea for me. I especially like this metal one by SnappinStudio.

Do you do stockings? What do you like finding in yours?

My Christmas Tree

I've had my Christmas tree up since.... well, since the end of November. Ha! I was a little excited this year! The lighting hasn't been great during the day though, so I haven't managed some very good pictures.

The other night I was playing around with my camera & decided to break out my macro attachments & crosshatch filter. I'd read somewhere online that the best time to take a photo of a lit tree was a night, so I wanted to give it a whirl. Here are a few pictures I snapped:
I'm really happy with the effect the crosshatch filter gives! Don't those bright stars make you smile?
I love how the stained glass ornaments look reflecting the light. I have quite a few, most strategically placed in front of light bulbs.
I haven't played as much with my macro attachments. There's a bit of a trick to them, but I'm pretty happy with how this ornament & the gold tulle looks:
As you can see, my tree has a lot of stained glass, quite a bit of red & white & a touch of blue. There's a mix of handmade, new & childhood ornaments, but I still think it all works together nicely.

What does your holiday tree look like?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

366Pages Giveaway

We're already over a week into December - that means that 366Pages is fast approaching!

Have you signed up yet?

If not, don't worry, there's plenty of time still. But don't wait too long.

Oh. You were waiting for this rumoured giveaway, were you? Well then...
Here it is!

The prize: participation in my yearlong sketchbook workshop, 366Pages, is going out to 1 lucky winner!

How to win: There are many ways for you to enter, but the first one is mandatory!
Leave a separate comment for each entry:
  1. MANDATORY: follow my blog (see the widget on my sidebar) - if / once you do, leave me a comment.
  2. Follow me on Twitter (@Ulixis) & tweet about this giveaway (make sure to @ me). Then leave another comment letting me know you did & what your username is.
  3. Follow my Facebook page & post on your own wall about this giveaway. Then leave a comment on this blog post letting me know your Facebook username.
  4. Blog about this giveaway, then post a link in the comments below.
  5. StumbleUpon one of my 3 Etsy listings, then post a comment leaving me your StumbleUpon username.
  6. Pin a link to one of my 3 Etsy listings on Pinterest. Then leave a comment here with a link to the post.
Contest closes December 16th at midnight - the winner will be randomly chosen the next day.
Good luck!

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Creative Space

This year, I didn't have enough handmade Christmas cards to send to everyone on my list. So instead of buying more (I was a bit late in the game for that anyway), I decided to make my own.

Why not? I've made cards for my shop & other occasions before!

I knew I wanted to incorporate both collage & stamps somehow... my large festive reindeer sparked the idea.
I placed him in a snowy field, peeking from behind an evergreen tree, bringing holiday greetings.
The star & red decorations were added afterwards, on a whim, to make everything just that much more seasonal.
I hope these bring some cheer to my friends & family receiving them!

Check out the blog for more creative space!

Winter 2011 Palette

Winter is surely starting to set in: I woke up to white this morning! While I doubt it'll last - this is Hamilton after all! - the cold wind is hard to ignore.

So while pulling out my winter sweaters the other day, I was thinking about colour themes for this season. Once again, grey seems to be the go-to neutral, which works for me! I love grey! All the classic colours of the season are out - navy, bright red, rich wine - so here's my "classics" palette for this year:
I chose a lovely charcoal grey & a jewel-toned navy. The cherry red looks almost pink next to the deep burgundy. I chose a shade that was close to cognac brown for extra versatility. Finally, I rounded out the palette with a warm gold. I wish I could make the colour more metallic, but you get the idea.

As you can see, I was playing around with the site COLOURlovers, where I make these palettes, & figured out how to adjust the width of each column. So I made the grey the widest because it's the colour that will get used the most. The bright red is smaller because it's more of an accent colour. The gold could probably be a bit smaller, more of an accent, but I was going for bold.

Now while those colours are pretty classic & will find a way into your style most days (& years), the next palette I created features some more trendy shades for this season:
To set things off, I started with a dark, neutral base. It's a mysterious shade, grey and brown and dark enough to almost pass for black. Adding onto that solid start, I chose some bright, fun colours, like the cheery spearmint that's always welcome this time of year. Next I went for a dusky purple, a hue I've been spotting everywhere lately. It's a very nice shade, just as versatile as blue but a touch more feminine.

I couldn't stay away from the red family for a winter palette, but this year, look for more orange shades. This is probably my favourite colour of the season (though that purple is hard to beat!). Indeed, I found a gorgeous red-orange coat while I was in New Jersey (it's a bit more red than this picture would lead you to believe):

Lastly, I decided to add a pale turquoise to the palette, just to lighten things up a bit. Last year's dark teals are a bit fresher, lighter & closer to aqua this year. This colour combined with lots of white (& a bit of that spearmint or the purple) would make for lovely holiday decor! Just imagine a tree (a white tree!) decked in those shades!

I'll try to take some pictures of my wardrobe for this season. I also picked up 2 wool dresses while in New Jersey & I've been wearing them a lot. I've been gravitating towards tights & knee high socks (alone & together - in all sorts of bright colours & patterns), keeping my dresses & skirts in heavy rotation.

What colours & styles are you wearing this winter?