I Love My Swaps

A few months ago I joined Swap-bot, a site where one can take part in swaps based on one’s interests. Some of the organized swaps are very eclectic and interesting… So far I’ve taken part in 4 or 5 swaps, mostly around the theme of handmade journals and/or handmade items.

I’ve been enjoying it so much that I’ve decided to create a swap of my own. Check it out:

Lazy Days of Summer Swap

It’s free to sign up, so if you’re interested, join in the fun! Also, check out the other available swaps – they’re very inspiring and there’s something for everyone.

For the last swap in which I participated (Anti-Stress Kit #2) I got a great package that included:

– A fabulous handmade scented eye pillow
– High lather moisture wash soap (ginger and verbena scented – yum!)
– A gingerbread man emery board
– A matchbook of incense
– A Rufus Wainwright sampler CD from Barnes & Noble (we can’t get it here in Canada, and I love Rufus!)

I’m definitely less stressed, looking at my fabulous stash!


Note to Self:

Next time, don’t wait until the grass is waist-high before you decide to cut it. Otherwise, a job that should take you 15 minutes ends up taking over 1.5 hours, with mediocre results. This is what I’m talking about:


The bottom part is what I managed to cut last night, when I finally got around to putting the lawn mover together. The middle part of the picture is halfway through the process, when I’ve only gone over it once with the mower. The back part is really about waist high, and was torture to get through. But I persevered, dammit, and paved a path of destruction. Which is exactly what it looks like.

One happy thing that happened during the lawn-mowing episode was a huge flock of Canada geese flying right above me. It was awesome; there must have been about 30 of them and they were flying so low that I could clearly see their underbellies… I was surprised to see them as it’s quite late in the year for them to be in the area. B would have loved it; however, he is currently up north hunting snow geese as I write this…

Okay, I have to show my true colours here: GO SENS GO!!! I can’t believe they finally made it to the finals! When I lived in Ottawa, I had the amazing opportunity to organize a few events with the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club, back in 1999 to 2001 or so. Believe it or not, back then Yashin was COOL and much loved by the Sens fans… Incredibly enough, I was even invited to a private ceremony once to launch the 1999-2000 season, and managed to win a jersey autographed by THE WHOLE TEAM! I can only imagine how much it’s worth to collectors… When people asked me where I got the jersey, I used to joke that I dated the whole team. Some people actually believed me.

Anyway, I wish the Sens best of luck during the playoff finals. They certainly deserve to win the Stanley Cup, especially if I’m going out of my way to actually WATCH a game BY MYSELF. You must understand this: I live with a hockey nut who will watch this sport every single night and will not shut up about it. He can bore me for hours and hours talking about why the Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager should be fired. So much so that I’ve decided to boycott all games (except, of course, those involving the Sens in the finals).

Another anecdote about brushes with celebritydom: You know Jon Dore, Ben Mulroney’s annoying sidekick on Canadian Idol? He was a waiter at my local pub just before he got the Idol gig. He actually served me and my roommate one day, and flirted shamelessly with both of us. We thought we were in love…until I saw him on Idol and he annoyed the crap out of me. I can’t believe I even considered him the slightest bit attractive! What was I thinking???

I Hate My Lawn

You wouldn’t know it by the lack of posts here, but I haven’t dropped from the face of the earth. I’ve just been busy enjoying my time alone at home (B’s gone to visit family up North for a few weeks), catching up on reading and sleep, and making books. It feels really great to just be able to enjoy the creative process again, when I’m not under pressure or deadline to make books, or when I’m too tired to even think straight.

So here are the results of my creative endeavours – first are a new book format I am truly loving: refillable notebooks:

refill-notebook.jpg refill-open.jpg

I loved them so much, I made some out of LPs, of course!

lp-refill-notebook.jpg lp-refill-open.jpg

All the above books have been getting excellent reactions from those around me; it even looks like I’ll be teaching how to make this project next month. Good stuff!

I taught a few workshops this week, and here are the results:


I had such a great time with my workshop students this week; because they were smaller classes, we weren’t as worried about everyone finishing on time and so wee able to chat. One student had me laughing so hard – it seems she was at the same baseball game that B and I went to a few weeks ago (see this post). Not only that, but she was sitting right in front of the Killers, only she had no idea who they were. She was desperately trying to avoid the photographers and tv cameras, all the while trying to figure out who these guys were. So she was (discretely, so she thought) typing a text message to a friend, asking: “Who are the Killers?”, when one of the band members tapped her on the shoulder and calmly said: “We’re a musical group.” Ha!

My workshop student have so keenly embraced bookbinding that it’s actually caused a bit of a problem… It seems that they’ve been making so many of the ribbon-hinged albums at home that all the local Loomis art supplies stores have run out of the basic book cloth colours! I’ve created a monster! I’m thrilled, of course, only that means I myself don’t have a cheap, local supply of book cloth. So I’ve been scouring the internet trying to find a new source. I believe I’ve found a good one; my order from them should arrive next week, so I’ll give an update then…

As I mentioned earlier, B is away for a few weeks so I’ve had the house to myself. Which also means that I have to take care of all the household stuff by myself. Like cutting the grass. Having lived in an appartment for the past 15 years, I’ve never had to deal with cutting the grass. So last week I went out and bought a lawn mower, one of the manual ones because we don’t have a huge lawn. Except that I now have to put it together, which is the last thing I feel like doing when I get home from a long day at work or during the very little free time I have on the weekend. So I’ve been procrastinating…so much so that one day I came home from work to find that an anonymous stranger had cut our front lawn. It seems that one of the neighbours must have been more embarassed by it than I was… Ouch. You must understand, we live on a street with impeccable lawns…those Greeks really care for their grass.

So the front lawn has been taken care of, but the back is a whole other issue. I’m weary just looking at it (something I can’t avoid, as the computer is right beside the window overlooking it). I really can’t avoid it much longer; I’m afraid the neighbours will call the city officials or something… Yikes.

7 Facts…

Okay, so this has been going around the blogsphere so I thought I’d join in the fun. Here are seven random, little-known facts about me:

1. I have met Prince Charles and Princess Diana. And I have the photographic evidence to prove it. I met them on their tour of Canada in 1983, when I was a Brownie. Just as Diana walked by me, a photographer took a photo and it was published in a souvenir magazine.

2. There’s a Harlequin romance novel whose heroine has the exact same name as me (same spelling too, which is unusual). No, she’s not based on me (I think). The book is called Single, Sexy…and Sold! by Vicki Lewis Thompson. I have a copy of the book, though I haven’t read it (not for lack of trying, though).

3. I have worked with the World’s Strongest Man. I hired Hugo Girard, Canada’s Strongest Man since 1999 (and one-time World Champion), to give strength demonstrations during a Canada Day event I organized a few years ago. Not surprisingly, his activity was one of the most popular that day. During meetings with him, I would stare at his arms the whole time – his biceps are 22 inches in diameter. Amazing. I was even going to help Hugo organize the Canadian Strongman Championships, until the project fell through because of stupid people who didn’t have a vision. (Yes, I’m still bitter about the whole affair, and I’m sure Hugo is too). Hugo is one of the gentlest, kindest people I have ever met, and I hope to one day reconnect with him in my event-planning adventures.

4. I hate getting my hands dirty. That’s why it’s hard for me to eat ribs or wings, or even lobster, my favourite food in the world. I probably also explains why I don’t garden. Even getting glue on my hands while bookbinding irritates me, so I always keep a wet rag nearby so I can wipe them off quickly.

5. I loooooove Kraft Singles cheese slices. (Even though they’re not made of real cheese.) A grilled cheese sandwich just isn’t the same with real cheddar cheese – it has to have the creamy, gooey processed goodness that only Kraft can provide. As a rule, I try to choose natural foods over processed ones, but not when it comes to the Singles. No sirree…

6. I have a horrible memory when it comes to books I’ve read or movies I’ve seen. I have a fantastic memory when it comes to names, faces, numbers, or random, useless facts. But ask me what last night’s movie was about, and I’m completely blank. I couldn’t even explain what my favourite book in the world (Fall on your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald) is about, even though I’ve read it at least three times.

7. I hate clowns. My mother once told me that as a child I was once scared by a clown car that made a loud bang and startled me. Thirty years later, I’m still wary of them. I’ve had to hire many clowns in my career as an event planner, and I’ve always found them difficult to work with. I would freak out every time they showed up at my office IN FULL COSTUME for a business meeting. I’m absolutely convinced that all clowns are insane (to varying degrees).

So there you have it. I know I’m strange. But it could be worse, I guess.

I could be a clown.

Melancholy Musings…

Sunday afternoon I went to see the new movie Waitress with my friend C. I had never heard of the film, but she really wanted to see it because a) it looked good and b) the director gained cult status due to her tragic death before the film came out.

It seems that Adrienne Shelly, who not only directed the film, but also wrote the screenplay and played a part in the movie, was murdered by a construction worker when she complained about the noise he was making in the apartment below her. If that wasn’t bad enough, he (an illegal immigrant) then hung her body from a shower rod to make it look like a suicide.

Not knowing that Adrienne was also in the movie before I saw it, I was able to enjoy it (and her performance) for what it was. Otherwise I would have been so fixated on the fact that she is no longer here, I’m not sure I could have appreciated it as much.

I highly recommend this film – it’s certainly a chick flick, but I think even a few guys will enjoy it…


C, the friend with whom I saw the movie, has had her own tragedy to deal with recently. Her brother passed away last week at the age of 33. It was a senseless death, really, the result of a freak accident during an epilepsy seizure.

When I received her email on Friday night telling of her brother’s death, it unleashed a flood of memories – of my own brother’s death. Although my friend C and I now live in Toronto, we were actually roomates in Ottawa when I got the news of my brother’s death, and she was there to help me deal with everything. It’s sad and ironic that we now share something else in common.

My brother’s death was also senseless and preventable; he was a schizophrenic who chose not to take his medications. Unfortunately his personal demons continued to harass him and when he couldn’t deal with the strange voices talking to him anymore, he took his own life. May 20 will be the third anniversary of his death.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Mario, Dan and Adrienne.

Baseball and Killers

Last night B and I went with an out-of-town friend of his to see the Toronto Blue Jays play against the Boston Red Sox. This was my first time ever seeing the Jays in action, and my first MLB game in over 20 years. As a child, our family regularly went to Montreal on our summer vacations, and inevitably saw the Expos play during these trips.

We had great seats at last night’s game, just across third base and with an awesome view of the CN Tower:
blue-jays1.jpg cntower.jpg

The Killers were also at the game; they showed the band members on the big screen a few times, although I never figured out where exactly they were sitting. B and I had hoped to go see them in concert at the ACC the night before, but weren’t able to make it due to scheduling conflicts with my new job. At least this way I got a glimpse of them…

Environment Canada issued a smog alert for Toronto for the second day in a row. It’s only May, for God’s sake – how scary is it to have to worry about smog this early in the year?!! Only last week we were complaining about how cold it was…

This week I delivered the fifth (and final) event in less than a month at my new job. I can’t say I’m unhappy about it; at least now I’ll be able to catch my breath a bit before the next round of events starts in October.

Now I have to prepare for the three workshop classes I’m booked to teach later this month and catch up on all the book-making that I’ve been trying to get to!

I’ll be updating my workshop list within the next day or two so check back soon!