This Week in Review

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?

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Tuesday Tunes: Spoon

I discovered Spoon about 7 years ago, thanks to one of Paste Magazine‘s ever-wonderful CD samplers. I Turn My Camera On, from the 2005 album Gimme Fiction, was the catchy tune that caught my attention:

I took an immediate liking to the Austin, Texas-based band’s 2007 album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, especially the You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb track. As if the song itself wasn’t fantastic enough, the music video includes PAPER CUTOUTS. *happy sigh*

The Underdog is another favourite song from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (it can also be found on the Horrible Bosses and I Love You, Man soundtracks):

So much crafting to do, so much great music to keep me motivated – it’s all good!

This Week in Review

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?

Tuesday Tunes: Hawksley Workman

I discovered Hawksley Workman several years ago when a friend sent me a mix CD that included the song Jealous of your Cigarette. Not only is it a fantastic song, its music video is just so much fun:

Did you notice that the entire video was filmed in a single sequence? Yah. Freakin’ amazing.

Hawksley definitely lives on the eccentric side of the street, but he is incredibly creative and prolific –  not only as a singer-songwriter, but also as a producer (working with Great Big Sea, Serena Ryder, Hey Rosetta!, and Tegan and Sara, amongst others).

Another of my favourite songs of his – Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky – was released on the 2010 album Milk (warning: strong language):

I has the pleasure of seeing Hawksley perform in December as the Vinyl Cafe Christmas tour’s invited guest (an interesting choice for Stuart McLean). He definitely has a cabaret flair about him, but he is quite entertaining. And man, that voice.

Finally, here is a slower, sadder (but just as beautiful song) – Autumn’s Here:

For some reason, this song gets to me every time. Love it.

Capturing Memories…The Easy Way

I used to journal a lot. I would spend most days writing about what was happening in my life, how I was feeling, often trying to work out any issues that were challenging me at that moment. I used written journals from my teens to my late twenties.

As a child I was very creative and loved spending hours drawing, writing short stories, and making crafts. Sadly, this part of me was abandoned when I went to university. It seemed there was no time for creativity in between all the studying (I now realize how huge a mistake this was). After going through a dark period about a dozen years ago, I set about re-discovering my artistic and creative side (I was inspired by my new artist boyfriend). During this process, I learned about art journalling and would spend hours upon hours painting, writing, and gluing ephemera into my journals.

As much as I enjoy journalling, I just don’t have the time to devote to it on a consistent basis anymore. I often felt like I was forgetting so many great moments in my life because I wasn’t capturing them as they happened. It saddened me, yet I couldn’t find the time or energy to journal about many of these experiences.

Then two years ago, I found a solution that works perfectly for me. Hurray!

I had come across designer Amanda Hawkin’s lovely DIY planner templates and promptly fell in love. I desperately wanted to find a way to use them on a regular basis just because they were so cool. I decided to print the monthly calendar template onto booklet-size envelopes – one for each month. These would be my journal “pages”. Then I made covers for the journal and kept everything with binder rings. I tried out my new journal throughout 2010 and it worked wonderfully for me, so I did it again in 2011! Here is what my journal looked like this past year:

The front cover (I love love love the paper I used, BTW). It is bound with binder rings and a fabric elastic band to keep the pages from wiggling too much.

One of the envelopes with the monthly template printed onto the front. I keep track of important events, dates with friends, appointments, and other things I want to remember.

On the back of the envelope I keep track of the books I read and movies I saw that month. Inside the envelope I place all the mementos I’ve collected throughout the month: photos, ticket stubs, pamphlets, cards, letters, etc. Some months the envelopes are quite thick, others not so much…

As I said, this system has worked so incredibly well for me these past two years that I wanted to continue with it again this year. Yesterday I made my 2012 journal using beautiful paper printed I bought in Rome last summer, featuring classic Italian movie posters. Now I can relive La dolce vita every day!

As you can see, this type of journal is quite easy to put together and even easier to maintain throughout the year, no matter how busy you are. And the best part is the pockets to store all the mementos that would otherwise clutter your life, or eventually become lost or thrown out. I also use these booklet envelopes in my travel journals whenever I go on a major trip – you can see my Greece journal here.

This Week in Review

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?