Sunday, March 30, 2014

Project 52: March: Weeks 9 to 13

I'm really happy I have another month of photos for my Project 52. I've tried this project a few times now and was never able to keep up... this year I will! This month, I was a little late with week 12 and not very inspired for week 13, but I did it. And I think with the warmer months coming, this will just keep getting more interesting!

Week 9: our coffee station
Delicious latte for my breakfast!

Week 10: the Calgary Zoo
I couldn't choose a single photo, so I went with two instead.

Week 11: moon rise

Week 12: layers in my latte

Week 13: windowsill line-up
I'll need to do some re-potting this summer I think. And I plan on using these smaller pots to grow my herb garden. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring 2014 Goals

The weather here has been hot and cold - above zero springtime days followed by snowy evenings. But all in all, I do believe spring has sprung! And I am so ready for it!

Before I get into this season's goals, let's have a look back on my winter goals:
  1. Read the eight books on my winter reading list.
  2. Go skating as often as possible. 
  3. Get back into yoga.
  4. Make soup from scratch.
  5. Organize paper in office (go through filing system).
  6. Go through clothing and donate everything I don't wear or doesn't fit.
  7. Cook recipes from November, December, January and February Bon Appétit magazine.
  8. Make and blog a Valentine's day craft.
  9. Paint / experiment with Josée's guestbook painting.
  10. Finish two blocks in the 2013 Woodland Sampler.
Unfortunately, we did not end up going skating very often this winter. In fact, I think it may have only been the once... we tried a few other times, but the ice was always too crowded to be worth lacing them up. I did start to get back into yoga. I was really good for a couple of weeks... then I went to Calgary and completely fell of the wagon again. Arg. It's so hard for me to want to exercise. I just don't like it. I have little enough time for all my favourite hobbies plus general housework; it's nearly impossible to fit in something I just don't want to do. But I need to. I can feel that. So I must. This season!

I didn't do much organizing this winter, though I did get started with the papers in our office. I didn't get much crafting done either, though I did finish one square in the woodland sampler (July) and stitched two frames (not shown):
Not too bad. Could have been better, but not a complete fail.

Anyway, here are my spring goals:
  1. Read the eight books on my Spring Reading list.
  2. Get back into yoga.
  3. Finish a canvas.
  4. Complete six pages in my Amber altered art book.
  5. Visit an art gallery or museum.
  6. Cook recipes from February, March, April and May Bon Appétit magazine.
  7. Blog a workshop.
  8. Stitch two squares in the 2013 Woodland sampler and work on the spring sampler.
  9. Go for at least three hikes.
  10. Organize my closets.
  11. Find a dentist and make an appointment. Also book a massage.
  12. Finish going through the Art of Spring workshop.
A slightly longer list due to incomplete items from the winter. Hopefully I'll be able to cross out a few more this time!

What are your goals for spring?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Reading List

I really like these quarterly reading lists. I know I don't need to hold to them, but it helps breaking my huge library into more manageable chunks!

First, let's take a look back at my winter reading list:
  1. finish Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
  2. The Wolves of Midwinter - Anne Rice
  3. The Gods of Guilt - Michael Connelly
  4. Helen of Troy - Margaret George
  5. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
  6. The Modigliani Scandal - Ken Follett
  7. Elephant Song - Wilbur Smith
  8. A Place Called Freedom - Ken Follett
Those that are crossed out have been read (except for #5, which is close enough to being done to count - my spring list will start April 1st for simplicity). Instead of tackling the last two on my list, I read a book borrowed from a coworker (Looking for Alaska - John Green) and a new book I bought while in Calgary (Boy, Snow, Bird - Helen Oyeyemi).

I enjoyed all of these novels - some more than others. Anne Rice, Ken Follett and Wilbur Smith are in my top 5 favourite authors, so I rip through their writing, though these three books (of theirs on my list) are not the first I'd recommend for each author. Helen Oyeyemi is a new favourite of mine - I enjoyed her Mr. Fox, so this one sparked my interest and didn't disappoint. The last three books I read have convinced me to read more from Tolstoy, Michael Connelly and John Green. 

As for my spring reading list:
  1. The Catcher and the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  2. A Place Called Freedom - Ken Follett
  3. Helen of Troy - Margaret George
  4. My Mother's Secret - J.L. Witterick
  5. The Emperor's Tomb - Steve Berry
  6. Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
  7. Agnes Grey - Anne Brontë
  8. Stephen King - 11/22/63
The first is another new book I picked up in Calgary - well, a new book of an old classic I've been meaning to read. Then I added the two I skipped this winter and one I'm borrowing from mom. The last four were basically picked at random from my shelves. I will read more of my books!

What have you been reading this season?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jim Shore Basket of Flowers

I love Jim Shore. The intricately carved designs on his pieces are absolutely gorgeous. I have many winter and Christmas ornaments of his (including my nativity set and a few santas and snowmen), but until my trip to Calgary, I didn't have any "everyday" pieces.
Mom presented me with this basket of flowers as a thank you for bringing her to Calgary with me. It's the August basket, featuring August's flower (gladiolus) and birthstone (peridot). It's also a trinket box that opens up to reveal a tiny compartment... not sure what I'll hide in there, but it looks pretty cute on my shelf as it is (especially sitting next to that fun patterned jug I found at Target)!
Now I'm going to have to look around the Jim Shore website to see what other everyday pieces I can find!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sketchbook Pages: Outtakes

Here are a few outtakes from when I was working on my latest Amber altered book page - Angie's Garden. The colours were too good not to share! I'm really loving this colour scheme!
These are the (dollar store) alphabet stencils I used for the background. It was messy work, plus I used my fingers to spread around the leftover paint in another sketchbook, but the end result was so pretty! I didn't want to wash my hands after this!

Speaking of using leftover paint in another sketchbook - here it is. The paint is on the right side, spread around with my fingers after I finished the background in my Amber book. This weekend, I decided to complete the left side in "response" using gelatos (scribbled on, spritzed with water and then blended together with my fingers).
This is the paint side. My paint was mixed with glazing medium, so it's shiny and slightly transparent. You can see where some of the paint ended up in the "wrong" place in the gradient - this happened because I was messily wiping it up with my fingers from the palette. Also, since the paint had been drying while I used my stencils, the colours didn't blend into each other as much as the gelatos.

Here's the gelato side. The colours are even more vibrant in person - I love how juicy gelatos always end up. I also incorporated some metallic gelatos, so there's a nice sheen to it as well. Like I said, I just blended it all together with water and my wet fingers. So pretty! I will definitely be using this colour palette over and over this spring!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! We don't usually celebrate, but I will be spending it with my favourite Patrick (well, at least the non-work parts of the day)!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sketchbook Pages: Angie's Garden

The title of this page is in dedication to my friend, Angie, the inspiration behind this page. On Tuesday - my day off at home before heading back to work after my vacation - I watched her latest video that showed her creating a journal page and these gorgeous coffee filter flowers. I was immediately inspired, both by the flowers and the colour scheme she used: yellow, green, blue and purple. Such a spring-y theme!

For my background, I basically went my own way, using her colour scheme as the driving force. I knew I wanted to keep things light and also to use my latest stamp purchase, this alphabet one:
So instead of covering the entire page with gesso, I stamped it on for a lighter, more textured look.

Then I remembered I hadn't taped the spine and things might get messy, so I used masking tape to protect the other pages in my altered Amber book. Next, it was time for paint, and I went with the palette Angie used:
That last one at the top right is actually a dark purple. You can find more paint details at the end of this post, but basically I used these colours (plus another bright blue) and glazing medium to give the page a slightly transparent wash of colour. I also used alphabet stencils to keep with my "light" theme (i.e. the paint was broken up to let in the light background instead of fully obscuring it with a wash of colour).

I knew I was going to make some flowers to add to the piece, so I concentrated the colours to make a horizon: green for the grass at the bottom and blue/violet at the top for sky (with some yellow in between to tie them together). I LOVE how this turned out!

I wasn't too sure where to go next, so I took a break to make some flowers. I won't go into detail since Angie covers it in her video (and I really just copied her steps exactly) but basically it involves cutting circles from coffee filters, gluing the layers together, crumpling them for texture, inking the edges for dimension and adding something for the centre (doodles for Angie, beads for me).

In order to stay true to my style, I knew the background needed more texture. I achieved that with more stamps: chevron, arrows and polka dots in black ink to be exact. I didn't go too crazy and it was just right:

My gut told me the background was done, so I believed it and moved on to the flower stems:
I basically just cut wavy stems and leaves from olive green cardstock. I placed my flowers first and cut the stems to more or less fit. Once the stems were glued down, I knew they needed some doodling:
As did the sky. Where I went dark with the stems, I went light with the sky.

Finally, the flowers were affixed and the page was considered done:
I am so pleased with how this page turned out! I love the flowers, texture and colour scheme and I especially love how you can totally tell this page was created inside a novel. Sometimes, it takes a little prompt from someone else to spark your own creativity! Thanks Angie!

1. gesso + alphabet stamp
2. tape spine (masking tape)
3. alphabet stencil + glazing medium + paint:
        - Amsterdam (olive green light, permanent blue violet)
        - Rock paint (phthalo blue)
        - Golden (permanent green light, hansa yellow medium, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue deep, Indian
           yellow hue, smalt hue)
4. stamps (chevron, polka dots, arrows) + black ink
5. make coffee filter flowers (following Angie's technique - coffee filter, glue, ink, beads)
6. cut and glue stems (olive green cardstock)
7. doodle + shadow stems, doodle + brighten sky (black pen, rub-ons, white Sharpie)
8. glue down flowers

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My (Surprise) Trip to Calgary

It's been a little quiet over here the last two weeks, but for good reason. I was in Calgary over the weekend! Mom and I flew out Friday morning and returned Monday (mom came with me because Pat wasn't able to). I must say - it was kind of like winning an all-inclusive trip: nearly everything was compliments of my friend's husband. He flew me out as a surprise for her 30th birthday. He had it all planned out: we would get together for dinner Friday night which would surprise her and throw her off from her bigger surprise, the party Saturday night. Worked like a charm! She was beyond surprised - she was speechless (which is really saying something if you knew my friend!).

Mom and I had a great time! We did quite a few "tourist" things while we were there: we walked along 8th Ave - otherwise known as the Sherman Ave pedestrian mall - and found the (inside) mall and the Devonian Gardens there, we went to the Calgary Tower and the zoo, and we spent nearly the entire day Sunday at the Iron Cross outlet mall. We shopped and walked (and walked) and ate some really good food (the tenderloin Saturday night basically melted in my mouth.. SO good! I'm drooling just thinking about it!).

Anyway, here are just a few photos I took while there. I didn't spend much time behind the camera... in fact, I'm ashamed to say I don't even have a photo of my friend and I. Her mom took one of us on the glass floor of the Calgary Tower though; I'll have to ask for a copy!

Our view from the tower, starting with a downward look at the hotel mom and I stayed at:

Sunday, mom and I passed some time in the morning walking through the Sherman Ave mall and checking out (a small part of) the Devonian Gardens (they were blocked off for private functions). First - this plant was the coolest thing I've ever seen - SO fake looking! The fronts of the leaves look painted and the backs were maroon. So neat:

I have more photos from the zoo, but I haven't yet had a chance to go through them. Later!