Okay, so I know it’s been a while since I posted anything. The fall brought many transitions for me; namely, I started grad school. This clearly made me busier and less motivated to keep up with the blogging, but it also caused me to lose sight of what this blog is about: happy living. Of course I was super happy to have the opportunity to learn something new, at a brand new school in a brand new city. But while I was excited to take on this new journey in my life, I also unknowingly packed a few extra ‘bags’ of self-doubt for the trip, making for some trying times ahead.
The last few months have been full of ups and downs plus a lot of questions involving my own self-belief. Could I really take on the workload of a master’s program? Could I converse with ‘intellectuals’? Was I ‘intellectual’ enough? Innovative enough? Courageous enough? Would people even like me? These thoughts and questions swirled around in my head over and over again, choking the fun out of being a student and making me forget what it was like to be happy. Months went by before I realized that I needed to do some active thought replacement therapy if I was going to rid myself of those pesky negativities once and for all. Hence, my latest crafting activity.
In the midst of another self pity party I was having as a result of an unsuccessful job application, I decided I would make a positive affirmations jar. I took a note-pad and wrote down positive statements for myself to remember, folded them up, and stuffed them into a mason jar. The statements are simple and are designed to remind me of the good in situations when I seem to have forgotten (such as, “when life brings challenges, I know that they are just opportunities in disguise”, or, “I have the smarts to do whatever I put my mind to”). I plan to take a few statements out next time I’m having a hard time remembering what happy living is about. Call it cliché, but I’m willing to give this thing a shot! Check out what a positive affirmation jar could look like below:
Photo credit: http://katieorse.typepad.com/katie_orse_close_to_my_he/business/
On my own version, I attached a gift tag given to me by my sister with the following quote by Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you don’t do than by the one you do do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I felt it was a fitting label.
Jewelry is an item that I’m never quite sure how to store. Jewelry boxes are pretty, but can be quite expensive and require lots of storing compartments to avoid having your necklaces and bracelets tangled. Lately, I’m also of the belief that pretty things shouldn’t be stowed away but displayed instead. Displaying your pretties makes it easy to see your options when getting ready and they make great wall art! Plus, the great DIY options shown above are mostly made with recycled products, which once again means that they avoid ending up in the landfill.
Which project do you think I should take on? I’m taking votes
This week, my husband and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. I think of anniversaries as a time to have fun, but also a time to reflect on where our relationship has come from and where it is going. Since this year has involved some major transitions for us (moving across the country, changing jobs, starting a new program at school), it’s also caused us to revisit why we choose to remain together through all the changes.
We have always been drastically different individuals, and the years together haven’t caused our our differences to converge but rather to become more pronounced. He prefers the wilderness, while I prefer the city. He likes sports, while I like museums and shopping. Although these differences would appear to be sticking points in our relationship- and frankly, sometimes they are- we came to the agreement that they do something fundamentally valuable to us both: they cause us to appreciate and respect a different way of thinking. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I love Todd precisely because of the way he is different from me. I am thankful that knowing him has increased my level of open-mindedness and general curiosity about life!
We don’t have a lot of money to spend, so this anniversary wasn’t about extravagance. We spent the day walking our city, checking out some urban community farms, relaxing on patches of grass in the shade, and discussing what we love about one another. It was more meaningful to me than any lavish gifts or decadent experiences. Because sometimes, quality time is the best present that can be given. <3
I love keeping up with fashion as much as the next girl, but lately, I have been finding the looks on the runway and in stores to be a little…uninspiring. It’s not that I don’t love peplum tops or hi/lo skirts. Sometimes, I just need to change things up a bit. And given how late it is in the season, it’s unlikely I will find any guidance from stores to refresh my look. Sigh.
It’s times like these when I seek to return to the basics. My Pinterest boards are filled with striped tops in primary colours paired with jeans, a cardigan and simple flats. Because simplicity can be chic too. The good news? Basics like these are always in style- and easy to replicate on a budget or by thrifting. They also help get you through those stages where the styles are less appealing than usual.
Here’s hoping for an ultra refreshing F/W 13, but in the meantime, I have my stripes and cardis as friends :). What are your style stand-bys when fashion trends are less than inspiring???
Before I moved across the country and had to seriously de-clutter my life of stuff, I was a candle fiend. Over the years I collected so many that I had storage boxes of them by the season! The problem with many of them, however, was that while they smelled amazing before being lit, the scent they gave off while burning tended to make me nauseous. Which explains my collection of half-used candles.
Later, I discovered that it wasn’t just me; candles made with paraffin wax release chemicals into the air while burning that can make you sick. In fact, the emissions they give off are compared to diesel engine fumes! Yuck. So, in light of this news about the dangers of paraffin wax (no pun intended), I am presenting you with pictures from a little DIY candle-making session my friends and I did with soy wax.
We settled upon making container candles, but there are great instructions for DIY-ing all kinds of candles at http://www.wicksandwax.com/instructions.htm.
If you’re in Vancouver and you’d like to make your own candles too, Homesteader’s Emporium is a great little shop that carries everything you need.
Happy candle-making everyone!
One evening a few months ago, I was applying lipstick when my husband asked me out of curiosity whether the brand I was using was tested on animals. “Don’t be silly”, I explained. “Animal testing when it comes to makeup is a thing of the past.” I was so sure of my answer since I remembered that cosmetic companies received such a great deal of negative attention in the 90′s for this very reason. Surely this brought about widespread reform in the cosmetic industry….right? Wrong.
Doubt crept into my mind about my answer, so I ended up online doing some research. I was appalled to find that not only was the company that I bought my lipstick from guilty of animal testing despite new technologies, but so were a majority of cosmetic companies out there. It’s a widespread and now unnecessary form of cruelty that has since plagued my buying decisions.
Luckily, there are brands that have made conscious decisions about animal treatment, among other concerns. Tarte is a cosmetics company that formulates products friendly not only to animals, but also to the environment. Their cosmetics are free of chemicals like parabens, phthalates and synthetic fragrances. Much of their packaging is made from recycled and recyclable material. Moreover, their products actually work!
OH HAPPY PICK OF THE PACK:
My current fave at Tarte is the smolderEYES amazonian clay waterproof eyeliner. I prefer the soft finish of a pencil to a liquid liner but often have trouble with it smudging around the eyes. The amazonian clay in this eyeliner gives it a thick texture akin to a pencil, yet because it’s waterproof, there’s no smudging!
What are some other ethical cosmetic companies that you’re aware of?
This week, my roommate and I visited a tapas restaurant/art studio in Vancouver called Raw Canvas. We enjoyed ourselves with some wine and finger foods, followed by a paint session that revived my childhood artist. I am a big fan of original artwork but unfortunately most paintings I like are out of my current budget, so it was deeply satisfying to create a piece that I can proudly hang on my wall. I can’t wait to do another.
Here are some photos from our painting escapades. Enjoy your weekend everyone!
Enjoying a pre-painting drink
My roommate in the zone- working on her masterpiece
Putting the finishing touches on my own work
My roommate posing with our finished products
I was so happy to stumble upon Block Shop Textiles during one of my recent blog-hopping-geek marathons at the computer. Block Shop is a textile manufacturer founded by sisters Lily and Hopie, who partner with the Chihpa family of Master Printers in Bagru, India to produce the most lovely, hand block-printed scarves.
I love Block Shop‘s scarves because they are not only beautiful, but also environmentally friendly. Only non-toxic natural dyes (such as onion skins, turmeric and pomegranate skins!) are used in the printing process. The scarf fabric is a blend of locally-sourced silk and cotton, not synthetic material. The scarf-making process is also guided by hand, not machines, utilizing simple techniques such as boiling and sun-drying. Each scarf truly is an artisanal- and sustainable- work of art!
Block Shop‘s approach to making scarves is also ethically conscious. Block-printing is an ancient textile tradition that has been enabled to continue through Block Shop‘s business design, but Lily and Hopie have taken their commitment to Bagru a step further by giving back to the community. A portion of the sales from each scarf helps to fund a mobile eye care clinic in the region.
To learn more about the process and to support Block Shop’s initiative by buying one of their scarves, visit http://www.blockshoptextiles.com.
All images: http://www.blockshoptextiles.com.
With shorts season finally upon us in Vancouver, I am inspired by the array of options for dressing up the classically casual summer standby. The lace short is a particularly graceful way to face the heat without ‘losing your cool’ (haha). Whether layered to look like ruffles, scalloped along the seam, or dyed in a bright summery hue, lace shorts add sophistication to an otherwise simple outfit. I love them because you can just pair them with a chambray denim top and leather sandals and you’re good to go!
In my thrift store hunts, I’ve found that the lace short is pretty difficult to source secondhand. If you’re like me, you might also have a hard time in general finding shorts that are just the right fit. But don’t lose hope! With a bit a tweaking, it’s possible to get the look without resorting to a brand-new purchase.
Start with a pair of shorts already in your closet that fit well, but could use a bit of updating (think: shorts with paint or grass stains!). You could also hunt for a thrifted pair, which might be easier than looking for lace ones. Shorts that work best for this idea:
- Are fitted but not too tight (since the lace likely won’t have as much stretch at the short and you don’t want it to rip).
- Have a side/back zipper instead of a front one. This makes your sewing process a lot simpler.
- Are not cuffed/don’t already have added textural details- again this will interfere with the lace laying flat.
Next, head to a fabric/craft store to find some lace that can be sown ontop of your shorts. I would look for wide lace trim that can be layered to give the ruffled effect. You could also get creative and thrift the lace out of some old tablecloths or curtains.
Then, beginning at the waist, use a sewing machine to sew along the straight edge of the lace trim, leaving the scalloped edge loose. You can choose to do the whole short, or just the front. Once your first layer is complete, place the next layer just under the first so that there is about an inch of overlap. Pin the first layer out of the way, then sew the second layer. Continue until you reach the bottom of the short. Don’t worry if the last layer ends below the natural seam-line of the short, as this will add to the effect.
I definitely plan on trying this little DIY. It makes me happy to know that, when finished, my shorts will be a one-of-a-kind piece AND I will have used very little new material to make them. Stay tuned for results
What do you think? Will you try this DIY for yourself?
It’s been a hectic week for me. Working full-time hours is not something I’ve done for a long time, and since I’m also adapting to a new job, let’s just say my resources have been pretty drained lately. Having said that, I don’t at all regret that I managed to squeeze in a little craft date with some friends on Saturday. I find crafting to be very therapeutic, and it allowed me the time I needed to de-stress. Not only that, but we made greeting cards, which will be a lovely way for me to re-connect with loved ones at home on the other side of the country. Here are some photos of our little DIY project in progress:
Some of us used dried and pressed flowers, while others crafted with bits and scraps of pretty paper. One of my friends also hit up Urban Source Alternative Art Materials, a little shop on Main St. in Vancouver that sells discards and misprints (that would otherwise end up in landfills) for crafting purposes (http://www.urbansource.bc.ca). It’s a great feeling to make beautiful things out of what others deem to be ‘trash’.
I invite you to do a little DIY with greeting cards- and I challenge you not to buy anything new but to collect bits and scraps of what you already have. You might be surprised at what you are able to dig up!