Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Plans

Obviously my #1 goal for 2012 is to take many more photos of my cat.

However, I do have some other things that I'm hoping to accomplish as well.

Learn More Stuff.

My learning goals are part professional, part personal.

I recently bought a membership to 3rd Ward in Brooklyn. To get my money's worth, I've told myself that I have to take at least four classes - and I've already signed up for one! Starting in early January I'll be taking an HTML/CSS class. I'm lumping the HTML/CSS into a personal and professional goal, since it's something useful for both my lives. The other classes that I'm hoping to take, like intro to upholstery, printmaking, and more sewing, are purely personal.

On the professional side of learning, I'm planning to enroll in some of NYU's courses with the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, specifically in Digital Marketing. If all goes according to plan, by the end of 2012 I'll have a nice certificate to add to my resume, that will hopefully lead me somewhere good in my career. These courses cost roughly a billion dollars. Maybe not a billion, but a pretty penny, so completing this by the end of 2012 might be a lofty goal.

Be More Good.

Remember how I'm supposed to save money? Yeah, I need to get back on that so that I can continue to fantasize about filling my own home with furniture. This time of year totally sucks for saving pennies, so I can't be too hard on myself, but for realz: more money in the piggy bank.

Finish Reading the GG's 

Gracious me, am I ever ready to move on past this project, which is now 18 months in the making. With 20.5 books to go, I am determined to get through these this year. Even though one of them seems to be impossible to find anywhere. But I am determined!

You know what though? Because lists are much more fun to read and cross out when accomplished, here's a list of 2012 goals. Yikes!

Personal Learning Goals:
Intro to HTML/CSS
Intro to Upholstery
Mystery Class #3 (printmaking?)
Mystery Class #4 (more sewing?)

NYU SCPS Goals (sorry, boring stuff):
Digital Strategy: Creating Synergy in Your Marketing Program
Web Analytics: Integrating Website and E-mail Data for Effective Digital Marketing Programs
Strategic Search Engine Marketing Campaign Planning and Execution
E-mail marketing: Integrating Social Media and Mobile marketing for Optimal Campaign Results
Advanced Social Media Marketing
Developing Online Promotions That Get Results
Data Analytics, Interpretation and Reporting

The GGs:
Bertram Brooker, Think of the Earth
Laura Salverson, The Dark Weaver
Ringuet, Thirty Acres
Winifred Bambrick, Continental Revue
Hugh MacLennan, The Precipice
Germaine Guèvremont, The Outlander
Morley Callaghan, The Loved and the Lost
David Walker, The Pillar
Lionel Shapiro, The Sixth of June
Adele Wiseman, The Sacrifice
Colin McDougall, Execution
Malcolm Lowry, Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place
Hugh Garner, Hugh Garner's Best Stories
Douglas LePan, The Deserter
Robert Kroetsch, The Studhorse Man
Dave Godfrey, The New Ancestors
Brian Moore, The Great Victorian Collection
Jack Hodgins, The Resurrection of Joseph Bourne
Leon Rooke, Shakespeare's Dog
Josef Skvorecky, The Engineer of Human Souls
Guy Vanderhaeghe, The Englishman's Boy
Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers

Misc. Goals:
Get new glasses
Get a haircut, sooner rather than later
Save money. Lots.
Secret goal (tba at a later date).
Southwest road trip!
Go to the cottage this summer, or suffer

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Presents

You'll remember that my goal for the last year was to learn how to sew. And you'll note that I enrolled in a class, and made some fancy pajamas and a change purse.

Well, what good is learning something if you're not going to keep it up? No good, that's what. And with that, I introduce you to my Christmas present!

Thanks, Dad!

Luckily I remembered how to load my bobbin, and also how to thread the needle. So, I'm pretty advanced. And then we ran to Ikea to get a table and some cheap fabric for me to work on. And now I'm ready to roll.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wrapped Up

My Christmas had a lot of this.

Quite a bit of this as well.

And some weird-y stuff, like so.

Even though I'm not a resolution-maker, I am making a list of stuff to get done in 2012, which I hope to share with you soon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Festive Decorating

H. and I don't do any seasonal or holiday decorating. Our apartment looks the same on Christmas, as it does at Thanksgiving, Canada Day, Fourth of July and Halloween (we don't get trick or treaters). Every day, it's the same, just messy or not messy.

This year is different! We got a Christmas "tree"!

Or, rather, a Christmas Shrub.

I also finished my wreath! Here it is in the glowing fluorescent light of the hallway.

Remember how I ran out of balls? Well, I wrote to the ball-seller about when they might receive more stock, and they never responded. Sad face. For them, because that's not very nice customer service! So, I went and ordered balls from a different ball-seller. And, truthfully, you can say it: they are kind of a different color.

But I don't care! I have a wreath for Christmas, and this Christmas wreath has a piece of me, since I burnt my finger and left some burny finger cells on it. So, we're together forever now. Me and my wreath.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ode to the Canadian North

I've said before the the aesthetic of my apartment could be described as "Canadiana". That's normal, isn't it? I guess when I moved south I began to appreciate those Canadian things to an extent that I liked to have reminders around the home. I mean, I assume when my mother moved from Australia to England as a young lady, her apartment looked just like Keitha's in Flight of the Conchords.


However, recently my mother described my apartment as "an ode to the melting Canadian arctic". Hm, I don't know where she got that impression. I do have a Hudson Bay point blanket, sure.

I could have made my bed properly for this photo, but it was right after I burned the shiz out of my finger again.
And sure, I do have this Twenty Northern Friends poster from Banquet.

Photo from Banquet
And, recently I inherited a selection of Inuit art from an aunt who also had an appreciation for the north.

Ok, maybe it is an ode to the Canadian north. But, it's not too much, is it? Maybe I should let H. put up some English things to balance it out.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I made something! Almost.

Hello from Washington, DC where I am attending a conference. Here I am in the nation's capital in a big hotel where there is NO reception for your cellular telephone, even if it has the 3Gs. Crud.

Anyhou. Last year I was reading the weblogs on the internet, as I am prone to do, and I spotted something crafty that I immediately knew I had to make. As you know, I'm not so crafty, but this item really floats my boat.

Felted wool wreath from Pickles
So colorful and jolly!

So, I ordered up a 14-inch straw wreath, and 200 felted wool balls and I made this:

Hm. Mine looks different. Hard to place my finger on it... Oh, shiz man, I do not have enough balls. But the balls I've got look pretty good, right?

So, I tried to buy more balls from the purveyor of fine balls, but they are out of appropriate balls. Crap. They haven't told me when they will have more balls. My wreath may not be finished before Christmas! I may have a Lent wreath instead of Christmas wreath. How tacky.

Further to my wreathing/balls woes, I burned the shizzles out of my finger tip on the glue gun. Here's a bad photo of what's currently happening on my paw:

I've also highlighted, for your interest, the KING SIZE evidence of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup massacre that just happened here in my hotel room.

Well, I tried. Some day my balls will come and I WILL finish it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pomp and Circumstance

Today I finished my sewing class. Four weeks and two projects later - I have a pair of pajama bottoms and a change purse:

So, my one resolution for the year has been accomplished, and it was good. Now all I need is a sewing machine and I'm on my way to all variety of amusing adventures. Hooray!

I'm thinking that next year I might make a much longer list of goals. One was just a teensy bit easy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Whenever we go out, people always shout...

... I like your boots!

And they do shout that! On the street, or in the Trader Joe's... Because they are awesome, aren't they? Especially with my new blue tights, and my blurry little cat.

In other news, today I bought lipstick. For the first time. I don't wear lipstick, but lately I've had the urge to wear some bright lipstick. H. attributes this to the increase in Mad Men DVDs that we've been watching - and I think he might be right. So, against the wishes of my sister in law I bought bright red lipstick.

But the lighting in this photo isn't so good, so it might be hard to see how bright it is.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Legendary Uludag Gazoz

I found this at the Turkish butcher today, and bought it because I liked the bottle and label.

According to the label this legendary Uludag Gazoz is the "taste of the 30's".

To me it tasted like a less-sweet Irn Bru. If you had asked me before today, I would have guessed that the 30's tasted kind of dusty, depressing, and tinny.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


So that nobody thinks I'm slacking off on my GG Project now that I've accomplished the fame and fortune shame of appearing on the CBC and getting a fancy invite to a swanky party, here is an update on my progress.

I'm on 52/72 Gloria Sawai's A Song for Nettie Johnson (2002).

I can't even tell you how it good it feels right now to be past that 50-mark. Only 21 to go! It should all be downhill from here, right?!
1938: Gwethalyn Graham, Swiss Sonata
1939: Franklin D. McDowell, The Champlain Road
1941: Alan Sullivan, Three Came to Ville Marie
1942: G. Herbert Sallans, Little Man
1943: Thomas H. Raddall, The Pied Piper of Dipper Creek
1944: Gwethalyn Graham, Earth and High Heaven
1945: Hugh MacLennan, Two Solitudes
1947: Gabrielle Roy, The Tin Flute
1949: Philip Child, Mr. Ames Against Time
1953: David Walker, Digby
1954: Igor Gouzenko, The Fall of a Titan
1957: Gabrielle Roy, Street of Riches
1959: Hugh MacLennan, The Watch That Ends the Night
1960: Brian Moore, The Luck of Ginger Coffey
1962: Kildare Dobbs, Running to Paradise
1966: Margaret Laurence, A Jest of God
1968: Alice Munro, Dance of the Happy Shades
1971: Mordecai Richler, St. Urbain's Horseman
1972: Robertson Davies, The Manticore
1973: Rudy Wiebe, The Temptations of Big Bear
1974: Margaret Laurence, The Diviners
1976: Marian Engel, Bear
1977: Timothy Findley, The Wars
1978: Alice Munro, Who Do You Think You Are?
1980: George Bowering, Burning Water
1981: Mavis Gallant, Home Truths: Selected Canadian Stories
1982: Guy Vanderhaeghe, Man Descending
1987: M.T. Kelly, A Dream Like Mine
1988: David Adams Richards, Nights Below Station Street
1989: Paul Quarrington, Whale Music
1990: Nino Ricci, Lives of the Saints
1991: Rohinton Mistry, Such a Long Journey
1992: Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
1993: Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries
1985: Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
1986: Alice Munro, The Progress of Love
1994: Rudy Wiebe, A Discovery of Strangers  
1995: Greg Hollingshead, The Roaring Girl
1997: Jane Urquhart, The Underpainter
1998: Diane Schoemperlen, Forms of Devotion
1999: Matt Cohen, Elizabeth and After
2000: Michael Ondaatje, Anil's Ghost
2001: Richard B. Wright, Clara Callan
2002: Gloria Sawai, A Song for Nettie Johnson
2003: Douglas Glover, Elle
2004: Miriam Toews, A Complicated Kindness
2005: David Gilmour, A Perfect Night to Go to China
2006: Peter Behrens, The Law of Dreams
2007: Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero
2008: Nino Ricci, The Origin of Species
2009: Kate Pullinger, The Mistress of Nothing
2010: Dianne Warren, Cool Water

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Load your bobbins

An alternative title to this post was "Sew, sew, sew your boat."

Back in February, I declared that my new year (birthday) resolution was to learn how to sew. Yesterday, amidst the Snowtober snow storm we had, I had my first class in a cozy shop in Brooklyn.

I'm enrolled in a 4-week introductory class, which covers the basics, and in which we are making a pair of pajama bottoms and a change purse.

Yesterday we went through some basics about patterns, cuts, and a introduction to the sewing machine.

I chose Liberty of London Forget Me Not fabric.

This was a pricey choice for something that I will probably butcher, but I justified it by noting that the flannels some of my classmates were choosing were more expensive. Ha ha.

With my bobbin loaded, I'm ready for week 2.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

This is not my beautiful house

H. and I packed up the cat, rented a car, and spent three restful days in Pennsylvania, in someone else's beautiful house.

As one does when one leaves NYC, I carefully researched all the local yard sales, church bazaars and flea markets. I also checked the local Craigslist every day for a week for deals.

Unfortunately, all were a bust. The church bazaar was closing as I got there. The community yard sale only had one semi-promising item that I didn't buy. The flea market was closing as we arrived - early, annoyingly. Flea market vendors! Stay until the end of the day!

You know where there were deals, though? Craigslist. Sure, they would have been a bit of a drive, but worth it. However, my no-good husband didn't agree that those items were absolute necessities! Thwarted. Again.

Take example one. Are these two grubby Saarinen Knoll chairs? They weren't totally cheap, but they weren't bad. A re-upholstery job and these could I could be the chair-envy of all my friends.

The Grubsters
The Real Deal from Knoll

These babies retail at DWR for over $1,000! WELL over $1,000.This might be one of those things that I never forgive H. for. 

The second deal, this entire mid-century dining room set for $225. Table, chairs, credenza, china cabinet. $225.

True, I don't have a dining room. Or even any room. Or a van to lug this set back from eastern PA. But $225. Two hundred and twenty five. I could have made it work.

This, if you're counting, is the second china cabinet deal I've let get away because of my husband.

Regardless of the lack of loot from our weekend, it was worth it just to see the cat learn how to play the piano.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dress Up in You

Yesterday I got an interesting phone call. Let's say that someone in the office of an important person - let's call the important person "The Movernor Meneral" - heard me on the CBC. Let's say that this person was interested in my GG project. Let's say this person wanted to invite me to attend a celebration next month for a certain book award. A party in Ottawa. Let's say this party was at a little house called "Mideau Mall". Let's say I fell over and had a heart attack.

When I recovered, I emailed my associates, and received some hearty well dones and good jobs, and the assurance of my mom that the eats would be good. Leave it to my savvy sister in law to immediately ask the most important question, "what are you going to wear??"

As H. is well-aware, I have no clothes. Nothing. Very sad. I also have no shoes, but that's another story. What does one wear to celebrations at "Mideau Mall"?

1. "Ramona Dress", J Crew
2. "Lucienne Dress", J Crew
3. "Tangerine Flicker Dress", Anthropologie
4. "Framed on the Mantle Dress", ModCloth
5. "Louisa Dress", J Crew

Because I'm cursed, my favorite is the most expensive - "Tangerine Flicker Dress". I don't know if I can bring myself to pay that much money on a dress. Also, I haven't tried it, or any of these on. Also, I haven't booked my ticket, or confirmed my attendance, and I don't really know what the expected attire is.

Obviously, I'm also terrified of this adventure. I'm not good at schmoozing, especially not with literati types. What if I drop a canape down Margaret Atwood's blouse? That could happen. I could pat Michael Ondaatje's beard. I might do that anyway. Assuming he's invited. This is pretty exclusive.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Famous in Canada

Well, Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! Today I'm thankful that I didn't sound like a total dummy (I hope) when I appeared on today's The Next Chapter talking about my GG Project! | The Next Chapter

Saturday, October 1, 2011

House Hunters

Today H. and I spent the day up the Hudson looking at houses. Houses to buy. Houses to be our own. Including my grey house, that I've looked at and admired every day for about 6 months.

House #1: My Grey House

It was as adorbs as I had imagined. It was, truth be told, on a bit of a scuzzy street, but walking distance to the downtown. In fact, we could practically spy the local farmer's market from the house. Also, there was a deli 100 feet or so down the road, which would conveniently keep us in Diet Cola, as we are accustomed.

Inside, the first floor was lovely and well kept, and much bigger than the photos had lead us to believe. Also, it had a recently re-done kitchen, a new washer/dryer, and a kitchen sink that I liked. That's a weird thing to like, no? But I did. The bedrooms weren't huge, and H. didn't like the size of the master bedroom, which he thought was too small. I liked that it had a fireplace. The backyard was amazing.

Bad news though - the owner accepted an offer last night. Mo. Fo.

House #2: The Underdog

When I showed my family the houses that we would be seeing, nobody liked this one. But I saw something in it. Yes, it has wall-to-wall carpeting, and I am morally against it. But that's easy to fix, right? It also had a kitchen that could be described as revolting, and would need to be completely replaced. But that would be fun, right?

Secretly, this was my favorite. In my over-active imagination, I own this house and I'm restoring it to its former glory. H. thought it was creepy and hated the layout. Damn his opinions! I loved the huge fireplace, the original wood trims, the fact that the hardwood under the carpet was still in good condition. The thing I loved possibly most? In the basement was the most swingin' throwback 60s bar and party room. Rather, Par-Tay Room. It was amazing - with red pleather banquettes built into the walls, and around a pole. A circular banquette? The bar itself was almost tiki-ish. ALSO, the floor, which was linoleum, had MAGICIAN STUFF inlaid in it. I'm talking top hat, gloves, MAGIC WAND. It was awesome, and if it was mine, I would restore it to its swingin' glory. I would have taken photos, but the battery in the old snapper died.

House #3: The People's Choice

This was my mother's favorite. Also my sister-in-law's favorite. It was also the most expensive. It's a charming, and big, Victorian, that's been well maintained, and close to the train. It is, in many ways, perfect. Beautiful floors. Huge - room after room after room. It also had beautiful views of the Hudson.

There was something about it that made me sad, though. It was obvious that someone had lived there for the last 50 years or so, and had recently died or been moved into a nursing home. There were so many personal items gathering dust - and they had laid out their china on the dining room table as though it was Thanksgiving or something.

The deal-breaker in this one is that the second floor bathroom, which is huge and really nice, is in the middle of the second floor. Three of the bedrooms open into it, and one of the bedrooms can only be accessed either through the bathroom or by going through one of the other rooms, and I could see no way of fixing this. Although, I did propose that the railroad room be turned into a walk-in closet. A good idea, promptly belittled by my husband.

House #4: Huge Blah

There's nothing to say about this one. The closets smelled like animal. There was a groundhog in the backyard, and it was cute. It was a huge no.

Anyhou. I'm glad we went and looked, and I'm glad I can move on past the grey house knowing that I've seen it, and that H. wouldn't want to live there because he apparently needs a huge master bedroom.

The trip also got us thinking about whether or not we're really ready for the suburban life. I want a house, and a yard, but don't really want to live in the 'burbs. And I'll never have enough money for a house in NYC, so I don't know what I'm going to do. I need to start playing the lottery.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Sometimes I just have nothing to report. Sometimes I look at this old postcard, because it makes me laugh.

H. and I are going up the river this weekend to look at some houses. Look at the INSIDES of them. Including my grey house. I'm so excited.

Monday, September 19, 2011

So, this happened.

Other potential titles for this post:

Me and Shelagh

As I hinted last week, and months ago, exciting things have been in the works. Today, H. and I both enjoyed the day off, and went into the NYC studio of the CBC!(!!!!) Are you dying? I did. I almost did. Why did I do such a thing? Well, I was invited, for your information. I was invited to record a segment on the CBC show The Next Chapter about my GG project.

This all came about in the spring, when (if you remember) I entered the "So you think you can talk books" competition. They didn't choose me, obviously, to talk about the book I entered, but they were interested in my GG project. I didn't want to give too much away back when it was first proposed, in fear of jinxing myself. I worried over the summer that they would change their minds, because - let's face it - maybe this was just a weird thing that a girl with too much time on her hands was doing. But, a few weeks ago (after giving me some time to push through some more books) they contacted me again and were ready to roll.

Let me say that this was terrifying. The idea of my squeaking voice coming through the air frightens the bejeezus out of me. Furthermore, I was afraid I'd say stupid things, which is a very real possibility (and hasn't been disproved). H. came with me as my moral support.

Here be me in the studio, from H's position with the sound guy (technical term):

Now, here be the view from where I sat:

I think it went ok, but I may sound dumb. I hope they edit me smart! H. said that I sounded good, but he has to say that because it was in our wedding vows that he must always say I look good and sound smart.

Can I tell you something? Being in the CBC studio was very exciting, and I had to refrain from taking photos of the posters of CBC hosts, because I was trying to pretend to be cool. I suppose I'm somewhat of a CBC fangirl. I mean, I grew up in a house with CBC radio on in the kitchen during all waking hours. And, I once promised a prof in university that I would write a CBC radio drama (it never happened).

Most importantly, I highly enjoyed talking to Shelagh - it was kind of like a dream - chatting with a voice so familiar, yet who I couldn't see.

Anyway, should you wish to judge for yourself whether or not I squeak, I believe my bit will air on October 10. Yikes!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Secret shopping

As you may remember, one of my weekend to-dos was a trip to Ikea. Which I did! But why did I go? This was a secret, even to H. So I will share.

First, let me tell you something. H. accuses me of "secret shopping". "Secret shopping" is where I buy things on the internet (guilty) and - according to him - don't tell him (not guilty, usually). Most of the time I do tell him, but because of his advanced years he forgets. Sucks being old.

Alright, so this time I WAS secret shopping, because what I'm about to show you are things he has never seen or heard about until RIGHT NOW. In my defense, they were going to be part of his birthday present, but then I realized that these were 100% for me and that I was fooling myself pretending they were for him. The truth comes out.

So, I bought these prints on Etsy from Bird Ave:

Photos from Bird Ave's Etsy shop
 You see, they are prints of H's home town, my home town and our home town! Get it? I know, cute.

Back to Ikea - obviously I had to buy frames for these bad-boys.

See my legs in the reflection? Glaring white!
Listen now, you (and H.) are currently wondering where is she going to put these??? And the answer is that I don't know. I have no idea. I am not even kidding when I tell you that I have almost no free wallspace for these because I obsessively buy prints on the internet. I have a problem. I'm going to make it work - eventually. For now I think they're adorable and I'm thrilled with their bright colors and hometown nods.

Ahhhhhhh. It feels good to come out with the truth.

And there's more. But this isn't a surprise to H. so no worries. I also got a frame for a little watercolor doodle (is that the right word?) that H's brother painted.

I took this photo for H. to see how it looks, but since snapping it the picture has found a spot on our wall.
I really need to buy my house soon, because I'm running out of walls in this apartment.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Get 'er done

What a successful weekend that included completing everything on my to-do list, except getting a manicure. Oh well, next weekend.

My mirror is now shiny and black! I like it. My sister-in-law even said it looks like an expensive mirror now - is there a greater compliment? Here are some pics of the journey:

1. Prep.

I sanded this bad-boy as much as I could before getting bored. Sanding is a dull activity, and I admit it probably could have done with some more sanding. I also inserted some catalog pages so that I didn't get paint on the glass - this ended up being less than ideal situation.

2. First coat.

As you can see, I didn't use a primer, and I do not regret that decision.

3. Three more coats.

This last photo is slightly blurry, and I'm ok with that because it hides some of the imperfections. Specifically, sticking those catalog pages in to protect the glass meant they stuck to the paint around the frame, and when I pulled them off it pulled some paint off too, creating more work. Boo. But, I'm happy with it, and H. is happy with it, and the cat is fascinated by it.

In other news, something exciting is happening. Here's a couple hints: it involves my GG project, the CBC and me. I'll tell you more next week, because I don't want to jinx myself. Exciting and terrifying, though!
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