It’s been a busy few months, between starting a new job, hosting family at my home, and making and selling for the holidays. But after a few restful weeks filled with naps and tea and reading, I’m finally back into the swing of making new items. I’ve even managed to update my Etsy shop, which had gone neglected for much too long. Have a gander at some of the new items in the shop:

Paul McCartney LP Notebook

Paul McCartney LP Notebook

Hall & Oates LP Notebook

Hall & Oates LP Notebook

Siouxsie and the Banshees LP Notebook

Siouxsie and the Banshees LP Notebook

Depeche Mode LP Notebook

Depeche Mode LP Notebook

U2 LP Notebook

U2 LP Notebook

Peter Gabriel LP Notebook

Peter Gabriel LP Notebook

And my personal favourite…

Duran Duran LP Notebook

Duran Duran LP Notebook

Reading… Just finished reading The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs. The author recounts his quest to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica (all 14 million words of it). If you’re a trivia buff (like me) and enjoy quirky humour, this book is a must-read. I so thoroughly enjoyed this book that I look forward to reading A.J.’s other books.

Listening to… This playlist featuring covers (in every imaginable language) of Jacques Brel’s classic song, Ne Me Quitte Pas. I can’t get enough of it. This cover by Nina Simone is one of my favourites:

Watching… Old episodes of Fantasy Island on Netflix. I vaguely remember watching this show as a kid, but I couldn’t remember the premise of the show. Now that I’ve watched a few episodes, I can’t get over how creepy and badly made this series was, yet I can’t stop watching – it’s mesmerizing!

Discovering… Kid Koala all over again, after seeing his show last night as part of the Luminato Festival. I saw Kid Koala’s Space Cadet Headphone Experience a year ago, and it was magical. Although I’m not really into DJs/scratching/electronica, I truly enjoy attending his shows. He is fascinating to watch in action – his hands never stop moving, not for a moment. And he’s such an amazingly sweet, down-to-earth guy. Here’s his remix of the classic song Moon River:

Learning… To live with a neurotic cat. Lulu came into my life approximately two months ago, and although we’ve made a huge amount of progress, she still has her quirks. Lots of them. Thankfully she’s pretty adorable.

Miss Lulu (the adorable but slightly neurotic cat)

Miss Lulu (the adorable but slightly neurotic cat)

Loving… Making books, including a few new types of journals created from upcycled children’s books. I feel like I’ve got my mojo back – now the challenge is to keep it going through the summer months…

Hating… All the rain we’ve had this spring. I hope summer is on the cool side, but sunnier than the past several months.

Feeling… The need for some R&R. Haven’t taken a significant amount of time off in about a year. I’ll be on vacation in less than a month and look forward to a week-long master bookbinding class, time with my parents and family, and lots of catching up with close friends!

Wishing… I could get rid of the clutter in my apartment once and for all. I’ve made progress over the past few months, but I feel like there’s still a long way to go… I’ve got to be patient, but resilient.

What have you been up to this week?

How I felt on this beautiful spring day! (Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

How I felt on this beautiful spring day!
(Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

After an endlessly long and frigid winter, spring was finally in the air yesterday. It was perfect road-trip weather – sunny but not too hot – so I hopped in my car and made my way to Grimbsy, about an hour’s drive from Toronto. The town was hosting its annual Wayzgoose Bookarts Fair, this year being its 35th edition. For a book- and paper-lover like me, it was hard not to spend my entire paycheck on beautiful handmade paper, letterpressed cards and posters, bookbinding tools, handmade books, and so many other lovelies…thankfully I was a model of restraint and only bought sewing needles and a few cool notebooks.

My new friend Hannelore of Hannelore’s Story Works was a vendor at the fair – we met last December at the Movies and Makers show and instantly hit it off. As she and I looked around the room at other vendors, we noted that it was interesting that although we (and many other bookbinders) work with similar materials (recycled maps, vinyl record LPs, old postcards and book covers, Japanese papers), each of our handmade books come out looking completely different from anyone else’s – we each have our own distinctive style.

I also had the pleasure of meeting master bookbinder Don Taylor. I’d been debating whether or not to take a week-long bookbinding course that he’s teaching this summer, and after a chat with him about the various projects made as part of the course, I’ve decided to finally go ahead and register. Since the aforementioned course is being offered in New Brunswick (my home province), I get to stay with one of my closest friends and hang out with him for an entire week (this makes me very, very happy). Creative vacations are the best!

Here’s a great video of Don Taylor talking about the art of bookbinding and book restoration:

All these thoughts of spring, beautiful weather, road trips, and bookbinding have inspired me to make…what else…travel journals:

Accordion Travel Journal

Accordion Travel Journal

Accordion Travel Journal - Inserts and Envelopes

Accordion Travel Journal – Inserts and Envelopes

I’ve also been having lots of fun working with spring colours in my art journal (you may remember it from this post). These are a few blank pages I’ve prepared ahead of time with acrylic paint, collaged papers and washi tape, so that I can simply add text the moment I feel inspired:

Art Journal - Prepped Pages

Art Journal – Prepped Pages

By the way, if you’re feeling inspired to learn bookbinding techniques – there are a few spots left in the Coptic-binding workshop I’ll be teaching on May 4! For more info and to register, visit wisedaughters.com/workshops.

Have you always wanted to learn to make your own notebooks and journals? Well, spring is a great time to learn a practical new skill, just in time for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day!

I’ll be teaching this workshop at Wise Daughters Craft Market in Toronto on May 4. You can find more details and register here.

I love making books using this medieval-era binding method – not only is the binding very decorative, but the finished book lays completely flat – making it great for sketching and writing (especially for lefties like me). This format is also very easy to customize, depending on the materials used. Here’s another example of a Coptic-bound book that I recently created for myself – the covers are made from small canvas boards that I painted and on which I collaged printouts of the guys from Flight of the Conchords, and the inside pages are made from a variety of different papers and envelopes. I love love love how it turned out, and use it as an inspiring art journal:

FOTC Coptic Journal

FOTC Coptic Journal

I’m also booked to teach another workshop on June 6 at Wise Daughters, but haven’t picked a project yet. If you have ideas or suggestions for a bookbinding project you’d like to see, please leave a comment or send me an email at papermusedesigns [at] gmail [dot] com!

1. Gin + tonic flavoured marshmallows are pretty darn yummy (even if they really taste like lime marshmallows).

2. Nadège Pâtisserie makes the most adorable and treats ever invented (see item #1). Here’s further proof:

Nadège Pâtisserie - Le Marie Antoinette

Nadège Pâtisserie – Le Marie Antoinette

Those macarons were about the size of a quarter. Seriously.

3. I love oysters – the raw kind! – after an amazing meal at Oyster Boy. For years and years I resisted eating oysters because I had a not-so-great experience 15 or so years ago. Not anymore. Bring. Them. On.

4. Watching live, professional basketball games is so much fun – who knew? After seeing the Toronto Raptors vs. Detroit Pistons game on Monday night, I am hooked. This is a sport that I could totally get into. Definitely.

Raptors vs. Pistons action

Raptors vs. Pistons action

5. Being a brunette isn’t so bad. It’s definitely an adjustment from being a blonde my entire life, but I’m kinda liking it:

The not-blonde me

The not-blonde me

Did you discover anything new this week?

list 11

Day 11 #30Lists

list 12

Day 12 #30Lists

list 13

Day 13 #30Lists

list 14

Day 14 #30Lists

list 15

Day 15 #30Lists

list 16

Day 16 #30Lists

list 17

Day 17 #30Lists

So I’ve been quite remiss with updating my progress on my 30 Days of Lists project. I’ve actually managed to stay on top of the prompts; I’ve just been terrible at updating my blog! To avoid creating one crazy long post, I’ve broken down the last two weeks’ prompts, and my interpretation of them, into two posts – here are days 4 to 10…

list 4

Day 04 #30Lists

list 5

Day 05 #30Lists

list 6Day 06 #30Lists

list 7

Day 07 #30Lists

list 8

Day 08 #30Lists

list 9

Day 09 #30Lists

list 10

Day 10 #30 Lists

 

I decided to try something new this month, by taking part in a month-long activity alongside other list-makers in the 30 Days of Lists Challenge. I’ve been focussing so much on work these past few months, that I needed a fun project to get my creative juices flowing again. This type of challenge is perfect for me because I am such an avid list-maker!

A total of 30 prompts is sent to participants (one per day). The challenge is to make a list based on the prompt, using whatever form or media you like.

In preparation for the challenge, I made a 5.5″x8.5″ mini binder to house all of my daily layouts. I used some beautiful paper featuring early 20th Century ladies’ fashions for the covers:

#30Lists Mini Binder

 

And now, the prompts – and my interpretation of them – for Days 1 through 3!

list 1

 

Day 1 #30Lists

 

list 2

 

Day 2 #30Lists

 

list 3

 

Day 3 #3Lists

 

So far, this one-page-a-day format is working perfectly for me. I need something that is quick, especially if I’m busy or tired or sick (like today). I’ve always been terrible at sticking through these types of projects for more than a few days – the OCD person in me quickly gets discourage if I miss a day and fall behind… I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself and focussing on just having fun (and maybe learning a few things about myself along the way)!

Are you taking part in the 30 Days of Lists Challenge too? If so, share the links to your layouts – I’d love to see them!

I received some great news yesterday – I’ve been accepted as a vendor in the upcoming Bazaar of the Bizarre show on April 6! I’ve been a vendor at this show for the past few years, and it’s definitely one of the more unique and interesting shows out there – both in terms of customers and wares.

Bazaar of the Bizarre Spring 2013This year’s show will be held at a great new location – 918 Bathurst St. (@Bloor) in Toronto. About a year ago I had the pleasure of attending Kid Koala’s Space Cadet Headphone Concert at this venue, and it was one of the most fun and amazing experiences I’ve ever had. The following video gives an idea of what the show was like, but it really doesn’t capture the incredible magicalness of the experience :

Now I’ve got to get busy making stuff in preparation for the show – no excuses for me!

I’m so excited to share this sneek peek of my newest product: Mini-binders made from vinyl LPs! Aren’t these adorable?

LP Mini Binder

Ta Da – the new LP Mini Binder!

These beauties are made with a 1/2″ binder ring, which can hold approximately 100 sheets of 5.5″ X 8.5″ (half letter-size) paper. This standard size means that many accessories (such as the Martha Stewart Home Office™ products: zipper pouches, business card holders, etc.) fit perfectly inside this binder. Neat-o!

LP Mini Binder - Open

LP Mini Binder – Open

The front cover is made from the actual vinyl LP, whereas the cardboard album sleeve is used for the back cover. Included are also three cardboard dividers made from different album sleeves, as well as 60 sheets of paper: 20 blank pages, 20 pages of  a “Things I Should Really Get Done” checklist, and 20 pages of lined paper.

LP Mini Binder - Back Cover

LP Mini Binder – Back Cover

Now you can be the hippest, most organized person in your entire office building!

Of course, the mini binder would also look great as a scrapbook album or notebook – just sayin’…

Be sure to check out the shop for the full list of LP mini binders that are currently available.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

At this time of year, I like to take a moment to reflect on the past year and look forward to the upcoming one. I record these reflections in a journal (written or visual), and to help me along I’ve been using the following questionnaire for several years now. Some years I’ll answer all of the questions, whereas others I’ll just pick and choose a few questions. They serve as a great reminder of all that I’ve accomplished and am grateful for, as well as areas for improvement.  This holiday season has been so busy that I haven’t yet had a chance to complete the survey, but my plan is to work on it this coming weekend.

Feel free to steal these questions!

  1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
  2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
  4. Did anyone close to you die?
  5. What countries did you visit?
  6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
  7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
  9. What was your biggest failure?
  10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
  11. What was the best thing you bought?
  12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
  13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
  14. Where did most of your money go?
  15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
  16. What songs will always remind you of 2012?
  17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    1. happier or sadder?
    2. thinner or fatter?
    3. richer or poorer?
  18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
  19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
  20. How will you be spending Christmas?
  21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
  22. How many one night stands?
  23. What was your favourite TV program?
  24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
  25. What was the best book you read?
  26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
  27. What did you want and get?
  28. What did you want and not get?
  29. What was your favourite film of this year?
  30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
  31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
  32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
  33. What kept you sane?
  34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
  35. What political issue stirred you the most?
  36. Who did you miss?
  37. Who was the best new person you met?
  38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
  39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Have you always wanted to learn to make your own notebooks and journals? Well, Autumn is a great time to stay inside, grab a cuppa tea and learn a new skill! I’ll be teaching this workshop at Wise Daughters Craft Market here in Toronto on Sunday, October 14. You can find more details and register here.

 

I love making books using this medieval-era binding method – not only is the binding very decorative, but the finished book lays completely flat – making it great for sketching and writing (especially for lefties like me).

Register soon, while there are spots left!

Reading… Recently finished reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (it’s like Harry Potter for adults) and The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. Both fantastic reads – highly recommended. I’m now onto slightly easier reading: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Not exactly fine literature, but entertaining nonetheless. Scottish warriors – need I say more?

Listening to… Lots of music in French – it’s nice to go back to my roots. The music site 8tracks allows you to stream playlists that others have put together, and I’ve discovered lots of great music this way. One of my favourite playlists was created by…Nikki Yanofski, of all people. She’s compiled a list of her favourite French songs, and they’re all pretty awesome. Have a listen here.

Watching… Flight of the Conchords’ newest endeavour: a song they wrote to raise funds for a sick kids charity in NZ. They interviewed kids to get ideas for song lyrics (with brilliant results), and even reunited with Murray for a band meeting. My heart is so happy to see them together again.

Discovering… This great blog called 5 Things To Do Today. Appeals to the incurable list-maker in me, and tons of great ideas to boot. Very inspiring.

Learning… About emotional intelligence. I’ve been on two separate courses on EI this summer, which have helped me become increasingly self-aware of my emotions and how I react to people and situations. I definitely want to keep exploring this topic more deeply and meaningfully.

Loving… The fantastic new haircut I got last night. I feel like a million bucks.

Hating… The lingering hot and humid days – I want fall to be here NOW!

Feeling… Excited about a night out with friends tonight. It will include Bridesmaids (the movie), a tasty meal, cupcakes, and copious amounts of wine. It’s all good.

Wishing… I didn’t have to clean my loft this weekend, but it’s quite filthy. I know I’ll feel better afterwards, though…

What have you been up to this week?

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I admit that my August 30-day challenge wasn’t exactly a success. My goal to post something on my blog every day was going well until I started travelling during my vacation. With sporadic computer and internet access, it was easier for me to give up rather than try to catch up with a slew of blog posts. I admit it; I was lazy.

I started September afresh and determined to successfully make it to the end of the month with my 30-day challenge. I even started practising for this month’s challenge a few days early, just to get into the groove of it.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am notorious for not being a morning person. I am usually cranky, groggy, silent and/or incoherent, no matter how much sleep I’ve gotten the night before. It’s best to just stay away and not talk to me when I’ve just woken up.

Most mornings start with the alarm going off at 7:00 AM, then hitting the snooze button as many times as I can get away with, until I finally get up in a panic. For the next 45 minutes, I’m racing to shower, dress, do my hair and makeup, and run to the transit stop to catch the streetcar to work. This doesn’t exactly make for a great way to start the day. I’m usually still half-asleep by the time I get to work, and the first few hours at the office are spent in a zombie-like state.

So my challenge for September is to develop a healthier morning routine, where I can transition from sleep to work in a more peaceful and productive way.

This includes:

It’s now Day 8 of the challenge (plus a few practice days), and I’ve been able to stick to some kind of a routine. Not every day includes all of the elements above, but I’ve been very consistent with my morning stretches and eating breakfast (though sometimes it’s a late breakfast/brunch) – I only skipped one day, when I was too sick to get out of bed because of food poisoning.

The routing doesn’t feel natural and automatic just yet, so most mornings are still a struggle. I am able to get up earlier if I’ve had a good night’s rest – otherwise, I’m back to hitting the snooze button nonstop. I’ve remembered to drink the hot lemon water and take my multivitamin most mornings, but not all.

I’m trying to be self-forgiving and not set myself up for failure by being too harsh. Early mornings are really hard for me, but I feel like I’m making progress. I’m aiming for serenity, not disappointment. So far, so good.

I’d love your thoughts – is there anything else I should be integrating into my morning routine?

‎"Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth and value, but because we finally realize our own." -Robert Tew

Source: LiveLifeHappy.com

Twice this past month, I’ve had to have difficult/courageous conversations with people I deeply care for. I’ve had to make painful choices and issue ultimatums, and somehow find the strength to stick to my decisions for my own health, happiness and sanity.

I don’t think I would have had that strength just a few years ago. It’s amazing for me to look back and see how much I’ve evolved in recent years. I’ve become much more assertive when I feel that I (or others who can’t or won’t stick up for themselves) aren’t being treated right, whereas in the past I would have mostly remained quiet and passive (or passive-agressive).

This evolution has surprised many people close to me, some of whom aren’t particularly thrilled at the new, more assertive, me. But I believe that if I can’t live honestly and with integrity around these individuals, then I probably don’t need or want them in my life.

It means making tough choices that sometimes hurt. A lot. But when I believe deep down that these choices areneeded to remove toxic situations from my life, I know I’m doing the right thing in the long run.

And if those individuals with whom I’ve had those courageous conversations still respect me, I know they’re exactly the type of people I really want to keep in my life.

I was saddened to hear about David Rakoff’s passing yesterday after a battle with cancer. As a huge fan of This American Life, I always enjoyed listening to David’s smooth and soothing voice as he read his hilarious essays on the program podcasts. Last May, I has the pleasure of experiencing the TAL program that was broadcast live to movie theatres across North America, at which David was a special guest. This is a video of his performance on that evening (he is introduced by the ever-adorable Ira Glass):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldqjM7x6NhE

I remember thinking during the live broascast that David was much thinner than I expected (I imagined someone with a much heavier frame).

I was surprised to read today that Daivd was born in Montreal and raised in Toronto – I hadn’t realized (or I didn’t remember) that he was Canadian. That explains why he had such a wicked sense of humour…

I’m really getting into the groove of this 30-day blogging challenge thing. I stopped worrying about it so much the moment I realized that my blog posts don’t need to be long, rambling pieces of writing – they can simply include photos, lists, videos, whatever… What a relief.

I’m already thinking about what next month’s challenge could be. And since I’ve been spending so much time on Pinterest this week (hurray for vacations!), I thought I’d put together a 30-Day Challenge Pinterest Board to keep the inspiration flowing.

Today, I thought I’d share a few of my likes and dislikes. Here goes…

LIKES

  1. Lists :)
  2. Literary tattoos (so much so that I recently got one myself)
  3. Jane Austen (see #2)
  4. Grilled cheese sandwiches
  5. Coffee (especially double americanos)
  6. Art and travel journals
  7. Handwritten letters
  8. Quirky, foreign films
  9. Chocolate mint ice cream
  10. Road trips

DISLIKES

  1. Clowns
  2. White socks
  3. Selfish drivers
  4. Bad manners
  5. Reality TV (part of the reason I don’t even own a television)
  6. Traffic jams
  7. Crowds
  8. Leggings worn as a replacement for pants (they’re NOT pants, people!)
  9. Misspelled words/Bad grammar
  10. Loud noise

Care to share your lists?

Playing with 2-week-old kittens

Visiting family

Taking long naps

Reading a great novel

Enjoying the beautiful weather

Watching Canadian athletes make us proud

Driving along gorgeous wheat fields

Savouring wild blueberries

Reading… The Book of Negroes bu Lawrence Hill. It’s along the same vein as Roots, but written from a female African slave’s perspective – I’m only at page 50 or so, and completely engrossed with it.

Listening to… The Boxer by Mumform and Sons and Jerry Douglas. Entirely obsessed with this song:

Watching… Fun, quirky films that take are set in France: Chocolat, Amélie… They’re inspiring to watch while creating handmade books :)

Discovering… I have way too many interests, which makes spending any amount of time on Pinterest dangerous (yet inspiring). Loved discovering so many new-to-me Mexican/American female surrealist artists at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (in Québec City).

Learning… How to do not much of anything all day. And it feels absolutely wonderful.

Loving… The weather in New Brunswick this time of year (25C every day, no humidity…it’s absolutely perfect)! Also loved the road trip from Toronto to NB (minus the broken car air conditioner) and spending a night in Québec City earlier this week.

Hating… The thought of finding out how much repairing the air conditioning in my car is going to cost me tomorrow.  :/

Feeling… Exhausted, but grateful that I can spend the next two weeks relaxing, being spoiled by my parents, taking naps, reading, watching films, spending time with old friends.

Wishing… This vacation could last…permanently :)

And what have you been up to this week?

A few photos taken this past weekend during my overnight stay in Québec City:

Rue St-Jean

Near rue St-Jean

Portes St-Jean (St. John’s Gates)

Sunday morning at the Brûlerie Saint-Roch

La Cavalière de Charles Daudelin (on the steps of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec)

Poster for the Adventures in Wonderland exhibit at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec

This trip has convinced me that I definitely need to spend more time in this beautiful city!
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