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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.
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?
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?
Reading… The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I was intrigued by the book after reading a great article about it in the October 2011 edition of Vanity Fair magazine. Although it’s a novel about baseball, it’s not really about baseball… I’m really enjoying it so far.
Listening to… Spanish Harlem Orchestra’s United We Swing album. It has definitely helped bring up my energy level while making books and other lovely items.
Watching… 8th Fire – Indigenous in the City on CBC Television. A fascinating documentary on some of Canada’s Aboriginals living in our cities, how they got there, and how they are coping. I loved the story about rap group Winnipeg’s Most, but the explanation about the Indian Act, 1876 made me very angry at the injustices inflicted on Aboriginal peoples.
Discovering… Toronto’s lovely Roncesvalles neighbourhood. I had never really had the chance to look around the area until this afternoon, while on a fun date. The traditionally Polish neighbourhood has lots of funky little shops, cafes and restaurants that I’m looking forward to exploring further.
Learning… To let go of the need to always be doing something and to just listen to my body when it’s tired. For several weeks now, I’ve been rediscovering the joy in guilt-free naps. Fantastic.
Loving… The birthday wishes from friends and family this week. I felt surrounded by so much love and warmth.
Hating… Constantly cold feet. Despite the thick woolly socks and shoes that I wear inside my loft, my poor toes are always freezing because of the cement floors. Thank goodness for heating pads and hot water bottles, I tell ya.
Feeling… Exhausted after a long week on the road for work. Ten-hour days, too much night driving, and very little sleep made for a somewhat cranky birthday girl!
Wishing… I wasn’t having to do so much travel in Ontario during the winter months…although I am grateful not to have to do it on crutches with a broken ankle this year.
What have you been up to this week?
Reading… Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon. After seeing his painting The Deposition (which moved me to tears) at the Vatican, as well as the Caravaggio and his followers in Rome exhibit at the National Gallery in Ottawa this past summer, I’ve taken an extra keen interest in the talented but troubled artist.
Listening to… Cary Brothers’ cover of “Something About You”. I have always loved Level 42′s original song; this version is a bit more mellow, but just as beautiful.
Watching… The Walking Dead. After a friend raved about this AMC show, I made the mistake of watching the first episode just before going to bed. But I still got hooked.
Discovering… The fun in crafting again. The past few months were so busy with prepping for craft fairs and filling orders for shops and customers that I was too tired to really enjoy it. After a wonderfully restful holiday (with many naps), I am enjoying staying up late and making a mess with art and craft supplies again. It’s great to have my mojo back!
Learning… So much from my recent adventures in online dating. I keep discovering new things about myself (in a good way) every time I interact or meet someone new. It’s been a surprisingly pleasant experience, so far… I’ve even gone so far as to recommend online dating to other friends (which I never thought would ever happen!).
Loving… Handmade Ryan Gosling – This site is like porn for crafty girls. Without the nekkid porn shots.
Hating… The dread I feel about my work schedule – 11 events to organize and implement in 7 weeks means travel in winter conditions, sleepless nights in hotel rooms and back pain from too much stress. I hope I make it to March in one piece.
Feeling… Melancholy after spending 2.5 hrs on the phone with my oldest friend, who lives far away. So many of my closest friends live in other parts of the world, and I miss them dearly. I wish we could see each other more often.
Wishing… The mild weather could last all winter: +5C in January? Yes, please!
What have you been up to this week?
Reading… Just finished reading The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides – brilliant. I love everything this man writes – now, if he published more than once every 10 years, I’d be completely ecstatic. Now I’m on to Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon.
Listening to… Fitz and the Tantrums – Groovy tunes that make you want to dance all day:
Watching… Saw Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows this week. The chemistry between Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law is amazing (and I don’t even like Jude Law). Guy Ritchie has done a fantastic job directing this film, and I hope there are many more to come.
Discovering… Lots of new music, especially with all the “best of 2011″ lists floating around the internets.
Learning… Italian (and loving it). I definitely need to apply myself and practice more, but I am picking it up fairly quickly (being fluent in French certainly helps).
Loving… The calm after the storm. The past few months have been so crazy with a heavy workload and travel related to the pesky day job, teaching bookbinding workshops, preparing for and selling at craft fairs, and trying to keep the local shops stocked with merchandise (I could barely keep up with the demand!). I’ve been resting, relaxing and reflecting this past week, and it feels wonderful.
Hating… The thought of having to go back to the pesky day job on Tuesday morning. :(
Feeling… Grateful for the amazing people, adventures and opportunities that came into my life in 2011. May 2012 be even more amazing!
Wishing… I could come up with a great plan to quit the pesky day job once and for all. I will definitely keep working at it…
What have you been up to this week?
I sit here tonight perusing the newly published Eco Books: Inventive Projects from the Recycling Bin, drooling over photos of some very cool handmade books. I need to select a few projects to try out, but what to choose when everything is so darn awesome?
Stay tuned for some recycled bookbinding goodness…
Have been spending a great deal of time updating my Etsy shop – taking and re-taking photos, posting new products, even creating a whole new banner and avatar. It’s been a lot of hard work, and quite time-consuming, but definitely worth it.
I received a message informing me that one of my notebooks was featured today on the FoundHandmade blog. Mine is the notebook shown below, in the April 20 post titled “Journals and Albums” (unfortunately I don’t seem to be able to link directly to the post…):
Yikes – looks like the Barenaked Ladies’ frontman is in deep water… Incredibly enough, I ran into him just a few days ago here in Toronto – for the second time! (At least, I could swear it was him!)
Have slowly been settling into the new place – can’t get back into making books just yet, as I don’t have a table to work on. Within two weeks, this should all be resolved…
In the meantime, I’ve been reading “The Gravedigger’s Daughter” by Joyce Carol Oates. Have never read her before, didn’t think I’d like this book but am really into it at the moment (I’m at page 210).
Also reading “No Logo” by Naomi Klein. What an eye opener.
Je suis également à relire ‘La Sagouine’ d’Antonine Maillet. C’est un livre vraiment génial, quand on arrive à déchiffrer ce qu’elle dit!
I can never really read just one book at a time – I always need to have several going at once…
Here is an interesting video shot at a recent artists’ book exhibit in France. The pictures are a bit fuzzy, but there are many interesting books to see. I can only dream of one day exhibiting my humble books in such a grand building! Enjoy…
I said I’d focus on making books this weekend, and I kept my promise: today I delivered 11 new books to nathalie-roze & co., who seemed pleased with the new stash. Here’s what it looked like:
It may not seem like much, but considering it takes about two hours to make each book, there are many hours invested in this pile… I was sewing these books together until about 2 a.m. while watching a movie with B last night. By the end, I couldn’t even see straight…
Despite my moaning about being exhausted all the time, I really am thrilled about all the attention my handmade books have been getting recently; if I didn’t enjoy making the books and teaching the workshops, I certainly wouldn’t be doing it. I just need to give my body the time to adjust to the new schedule and workload, and knowing my body, it could take a month or more…
I’m a voracious reader, and lately I haven’t had as much as I’d like to devote to my reading. I’m one of those people who can’t just read one book at a time; I usually have a few on the go simultanously, each kept in a separate location and with a distinct purpose. I have the bedside book, which is normally a light and easy read because I’m too tired to concentrate on anything remotely complicated (The Pact by Jodi Picoult). Then there’s the book for commuting, which tends to be a little more complex (The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger). And finally there’s the weekend book, usually fine literature, one I can really sink my teeth into because I’m not too tired/busy doing anything else at that moment (Stanley Park by Timothy Taylor). Let’s just say the latter one has been put on the back burner for a while…
Stay tuned – I’ll be announcing some new workshops soon…
I know I’m not the only one complaining about being sick of the neverending cold snap we’ve been having. My only consolation is that the rest of Canada and many parts of the U.S. are suffering just as much…share the misery, I say!
The weather has been a great incentive to stay inside, drink hot tea and play with paper. I made about a dozen books and a few boxes last week, which all went to nathalie-roze & co to sell in her boutique. Aside from the stack of record books and boxes mentioned in one of my last posts, I made these three journals from pages of old books:
I made one of them with LPs, and I love how it turned out. I thought the LPs might be too heavy as covers, but they’re just fine. This is a great way for me to recuperate the LPs I’ve broken while trying to make the record journals.
I spent all day Friday preparing for a workshop I was teaching the next day at Urban Scrapyard. The project was the accordion box as seen in previous posts. It’s a really great project, but has required so much doing and redoing and tweaking to get it just right. And THEN I had to prepare the class notes; this project was a real bugger to try to put down on paper. Some of the instructions were very difficult to describe in words, and I really struggled. My anal retentiveness and leanings toward OCD certainly didn’t help! To help me through these hard times, I listened to archived podcasts of This American Life while working. Five hours of This American Life. Yup. I should send Ira Glass a personal thank you note for helping me maintain my sanity. Or not.
Anyway, with a combination of written instructions and detailed diagrams, I think I finally got it right. During Saturday’s class, I was extremely happy to notice that most of the students just followed their notes without any problems, so I guess the instructions were useful. They were thrilled with the finished project, and a few of them said they’d be rushing over to the art supply store to buy chipboard for more accordion boxes. Yay – what a reward after everything this project has put me through!
Here’s the accordion box I made during that class – for some reason I just couldn’t get the angle or the lighting or the colours right, but you get the idea.
With this workshop done, I finally had some time to work on some new personal projects. I’ve been wanting to make a prong fastener notebook, inspired by the one in Donna Downey‘s book Decorative Journals. Oh my – I see Chapters/Indigo has 24% off on her books. It looks like I may now have to order the other books in her collection!
Anyway, back to the notebook:
The pocket on the left is made from large paint chips. I love the removable pages, and I have another idea I want to explore with this book structure. As well as several more ideas for new books. More on that later…
I have lots to do today; must get a haircut and go shopping for some office attire for tomorrow’s start at the new job. Yay!
I haven’t had much time to produce new books this past week. I’m in the middle of a job search, and between the searching, preparing and interviewing I’m pretty exhausted. But things are looking up, and I have a feeling I’ll be getting some good news in the next few days…keeping my fingers crossed!
B and I spent several hours yesterday walking around Kensington Market and Chinatown. I had a job interview in that area, so we decided to take advantage of our being there and really explore. We’d been in the area a few times, but we were always in a rush to go somewhere or else it was always so cold outside that we couldn’t really take a leisurely stroll in all the shops. We found so many gems and definitely plan on going back when we get a bit of moolah going. We can across an import store that sells large sheets of Japanese-style papers for $2.99, whereas in other stores they sell for $10-20! And journals…and more paper…and kitchen stuff…it was all too much to take in.
The previous evening, B and I had gone for dinner in an area called the Beaches (or the Beach, depending on who you talk to). We decided to walk over to the boardwalk along the lake, and were pleasantly surprised to discover that there’s actual sand on this particular beach! When I think of Toronto, I somehow don’t associate it with beaches and sand…but I’m definitely planning to spend time here this summer.
I really love the multiculturalism in Toronto – having grown up in New Brunswick, which is very homogenous when it comes to cultures, this ethnic diversity is fairly new to me. Ottawa, where I lived for seven years, is diverse, but nowhere near as much as T.O. In fact, B and I had a good laugh a few weeks ago, when we realized that an Inuk (B) and an French Canadian/Acadian (me) were being served by a Mexican waitress and an African-American chef in a Thai restaurant in Greektown in Toronto!
Okay, on to the fun stuff. This afternoon I finally got my butt into gear and made:
I have ideas for several other new bindings and book types – if all goes well tomorrow I’ll try out a few…
And finally, I just finished reading The Petty Details of So-and-so’s Life by Camilla Gibb, which I thoroughly enjoyed although the ending was a bit weird. I’m about to start Stanley Park by Timothy Taylor, which was so valiantly defended by my (imaginary) boyfriend Jim Cuddy during the latest edition of Canada Reads. Can’t wait to get into Jim’s mind and see what he so loves about it!
Approximately two weeks ago I bought a pair of safety gloves to use during my crafting activities. After the nasty incident in November, during which I badly cut my finger with an x-acto knife, I’ve realized the importance of taking safety measures, even during activites as seemingly innocent as bookbinding. I had to do some research to find the “perfect” pair of gloves – I wanted something that wouldn’t be bulky or slippery, and I eventually found these:
Not my sexiest pair of gloves (I look like a dork in them), but I feel much more safe and confident wearing them now.
It’s been a challenge getting back into the groove of producing more books to fill some new orders. The weather has been absolutely glorious in Toronto in the past three days, and B. and I have been going for long walks every afternoon, stopping at cafes and window shopping. It’s so exciting to realize that Spring is just around the corner – I can’t wait to experience Spring and Summer in Toronto for the first time!
Tonight I finally got my butt into gear and cut enough LPs to make several books. I still need to drill holes in them, fold the inside papers and sew everything together. When I’m making several books of the same type, I usually do it as in an assembly-line fashion. Cutting one night, folding another, and sewing yet another. I feel it’s a more efficient (and less messy) method of working.
I finished reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter a few nights ago, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I felt the last chapter or two were written hastily. The tone of the book changes and there aren’t nearly as many details as in previous chapters. I’ve just started reading The Petty Details of So-and-so’s Life by Camilla Gibb (check out its amazing price on chapters.ca) and am liking it very much so far, but I suspect it’s going to be a fast read…
1. What is your favorite word? serendipity
2. What is your least favorite word? the “c” word
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? good music, good books, other creative souls
4. What turns you off? abusive people
5. What is your favorite curse word? goddamn
6. What sound or noise do you love? the coffee percolator
7. What sound or noise do you hate? LOUD music
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? graphic designer
9. What profession would you not like to do? nurse
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? what took you so long?
I was intimidated at first, but it turned out to be much easier than anticipated. I love how it turned out, although for some reason the covers are the wrong size…
I also refurbished a composition book – I wanted something with lined pages but felt the original comp book was too dreary for my tastes. It needed a little bit of inspiration… Here are the before and after photos:
I’m quite happy with the new look. It’s cute, but not too much… I absolutely love this paper by Basic Grey. Unfortunately my LSS just ran out of it – I’ll have to find other sources for it.
I’m not a scrapbooker, but I do find inspiration in some of the scrapbooking books, blogs and magazines. I’m very selective about what I read though. I tend to like the scrapbookers whose styles are more eclectic and not too fluffy and cutesy. I recently bought this book by Elsie Flannigan:
I’m attracted to certain elements of her style, but sometimes feel she gets a bit too cutesy and goes overboard. But I love her in small doses…
Gotta get back to work and finish some handout notes for a few workshops…
I can’t believe we’re nearly halfway done the month of January already. I haven’t even had the time to think about resolutions yet!
I’ve been busy focusing on my creative interests in the past few weeks:
- It’s confirmed; I’ll be giving two workshops this month at the Urban Scrapyard in Toronto. The workshop is called Intentions Lapbooks and will demonstrate a variety of simple bookbinding techniques. I thought the concept of lapbooks would work perfectly with new year’s resolutions (or ‘intentions’, as I prefer to call them), but they can be used for many other themes. Here’s a photo of the finished project:
- Nathalie-Roze & Co, a local indie store that exclusively sells handmade products, has expressed interest in selling my handmade books. I’m very excited about the prospect of selling in a real store! Nothing is confirmed yet, but I’m hopeful things will work out. As a result of my encounter with Nathalie-Roze earlier this week, I’ve been bookbinding like a madwoman:
- At Nathalie-Roze’s boutique, I’ve also signed up for a soap-making workshop. I’ve been interested in learning this craft for so long, and even bought a book a few years ago, but it always seemed to intimidating. With the handmade soap fetish that I have, this workshop is perfect for me. Perhaps next Christmas everyone on my list will be getting soap instead of books???
- I also want to get my butt into gear and finally open my Etsy shop. I’ve had the name registered for a while, but haven’t gotten around to taking all the necessary photos and posting my items yet. Must keep the creative momentum going and start working on this.
This post is long enough already, so tomorrow I’ll expand on what I plan to use the Intentions Lapbook for.
Oh, by the way – happy birthday to me!
I came back from Saturday’s craft fair with a few gifts for my friends and family:
I bought the candle for my mom from Lindsay’s Candles & Stuff . It’s cinnamon-bun scented, truly yummy. The leather guitar strap is for my little brother. The two items in the bottom right corner are soap, and if you look closely enough, you’ll notice they’re of animals…fornicating. Yes, that’s right. I think these are hilarious and bought several of them from Soap Scum, including polar bears for my partner B. My friend D. and I have a thing about giraffes so that soap is for him (I can’t wait to see his reaction).
I’ve just spent the past two hours watersanding a few carvings for B. My arm is about to fall off – it’s the same motion as scrubbing pots and pans. For two hours. Not exciting stuff, but I love listening to my various podcasts while working on the carvings.
I’ve noticed something interesting about podcasts – do any of you feel like you have to listen to a podcast to the very end, even thought it’s not really that interesting? I was trying to figure this out; I think part of me is afraid of missing out on a gem of a moment or a really great tip during the podcast, so I listen to the whole darn thing. Another reason I listen is that I’m hoping the podcast will live up to its hype. I’m thinking of a particular podcast – I have greatly admired this podcaster’s work in the past and have even purchased several of her products. She is somewhat of a celebrity in the creativity/craft blogging world and everyone speaks very highly of her. However, her focus has shifted in the past few years and she’s no longer promoting her former vein of work and is now podcasting on a different craft-related subject. I was curious about her podcast because, like I said previously, I’ve admired her work in the past and I was also very curious to her what her voice sounded like. Turns out, I can’t stand her podcast! She produces it in conjunction with another girl and it seems like all they do is giggle hysterically and constantly refer to inside jokes during the one-hour+ show. I thought it might have just been that one episode, so I listened to another one and hated it just as much. Alas, it was with a heavy heart that I finally deleted her from my subscription list…
I have the same problem with books that I read. I’ll plough through a book even though I hate it just because someone recommended it to me or it’s a classic. Dr. Zhivago is the perfect example of this. I hated this book with a passion, and can’t understand why it’s considered a classic. The one good thing that came from reading it is at least I can cross it off my “Books to read before I die” list.
I finally worked on some handmade Christmas cards, based on the Claudine Hellmuth technique I referred to in the last post.
Please excuse the blurry photo… The stocking is made from Shrink Art and the star on the tree is a brad, so there’s a 3-D element. I’m not sure I like these cards; something seems to be missing, although I can’t figure out what exactly. I should have started with a coloured background, and at this point I really don’t have the time or patience to start them over. I guess they’ll have to do for this year.