12/30/11

what are you doing New Year's eve?

What Are You Doing New Years Eve? by Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I saw this wee video being tweeted by every other twitter account in my activity feed, and after ignoring it for the first 20+ times, I finally clicked on the link. Kinda happy I did! Terribly sweet duet. Makes me want to pick up my ukulele & sing ... although my voice is kind of lacking the ability to, y'know, keep a tune. Nor do I have a cutie-patootie like JGL by my side. Anyhoo, I hope it brings you a little smile!

As for what I'm doing New Year's Eve? The most I hope to achieve is rent a movie and wear PJs whilst eating cake & drinking mimosas. I've never been a huge fan of New Year's festivities, and much prefer ringing it in quietly and comfortably. Admittedly, though, if my apartment was finished its remake and I wasn't currently sick with the never-ending cold/flu/sinusitis/whatever-the-heck-this-is, I'd probably have a friend or two (or six) over to help celebrate. Probably with a ukulele in hand & a pretty frock on!

Hope your New Year's weekend is all that you want it to be, whether it's cocooned in your home with your loved ones or out amongst the revelers wearing sequins* & (responsibly) imbibing!
*because sequins are so necessary!


with joy,
Caren

12/28/11

New Year Thoughts: finding quiet pockets of time

a Christmas Day walk a Christmas Day walk
{above: look carefully & you'll see Gracie's wee bum running in the opposite direction!}
pretty bows on my Christmas apron.


On Christmas Day, I took Grace for a little walk. It was overcast and the snow that had fell that morning had mostly melted. The trail was muddy, and the birds were quiet. Everything was still, as if nature was taking this exact moment to reflect, to listen, to breathe. Every once in a while, another person and their dog would pass our path - and it was if Grace knew that it was not right to ruin the quietness as she did not bark her usual hello. 

I had dressed up for Christmas, wearing a forest green dress and a freshly thrifted apron which I immediately deemed my Christmas apron. It has bright red strawberries, dainty white blossoms, bright green leaves and best of all it has cheerful little pockets tied with red ribbons. I felt quite festive walking the muddy wet trail in my pretty frock, which was set off by my tall plaid winter boots.

It's important to take a breadth of time to find the quiet moments, especially during the holiday season when it can sometimes be overwhelming. It's part of having a healthy self-care regime; some may deem it meditation or prayerfulness. For me, it's finding quiet pockets of time amongst the trees.

My hope for you, my dear chickadees, is that you can find those pockets of quiet when you need them. With the upcoming new year just around the corner, it's a good time to start adding a bit more self-care into our routines. I hope to find more of those pockets in the pages of a book. I used to be a voracious reader, but somehow I let the stresses of Life take away that simple pleasure. The fact I have 5 new books, thanks to generous Christmas gifts, to read definitely gives me a push in the reading direction!
with thoughtful joy,
Caren

12/25/11

Christmas scenes from Tea & Chickadees!

the little owl in the golden Christmas tree! 
{above: a vintage deer ornament I recently found whilst antiquing; she makes my tree happier!}
the little owl in the golden Christmas tree!
{above: the most recent addition to my ornament collection! an owl from a dear friend - thanks Karen!}
Christmas wrapping & a cup of tea. 
{above: doing some simple wrapping with a mug full of tea close by}
the Christmas wrapping mess & a cup of tea.
{above: my messy wrapping & Christmas card zone & a mug full of tea}
the Dog & Cat "helping" with Christmas wrapping! 
{above: Strongpaw & Gracie are "helping" me wrap!}
the Cat loves Christmastime. 
{above: Strongpaw loves Christmastime - all the papery crinkle sounds make her go crazy!}
Christmas presents all ready to go! 
{above: a bag full of Christmas! I used tissue paper, vintage pillow boxes & vintage wrapping paper}
Christmas Cookies all wrapped up.
{above: stickers were my go-to Christmas accessories for fancying up brown paper lunch bags!}

I love coming up with new ways to wrap gifts every year. This year I got lucky when I found a stash of unused vintage pillow boxes & wrapping paper! I also love using tissue paper to wrap with - my cat agrees with this choice; she loves how tissue paper sounds!
I picked up a couple of rolls of Christmasy stickers to use for decorating, and then found a stack of name tag stickers with owls on them! I swooned when I saw them & knew they'd be perfect labels for my cookie packages. I'm finding myself sticking stickers on every surface now ... terribly addictive, the act of sticking.

Oh, and then there's the time I attempted to put antlers on Grace's head to take cute Christmasy photos of her. Below shows you just how well that went over! (I also attempted to do likewise with Strongpaw ... note, there is no photographic evidence of that event)

the Antler attempt ... Grace did not approve.

Merry Christmas all you sweet chickadees! I hope you find love, peace and sweetness all around you!
I'm spending my Christmas Day with my mom & dog & cat - a nice quiet day eating good food, opening special gifts, watching Doctor Who (there's an all day marathon on Space! woot!) and movies. Probably will throw in a game of Scrabble, too, just because. I love a quiet Christmas!

A fun Christmas tradition is The Noisy Plume's Christmas Tree Photo Contest! If you don't know about this annual event, it's on one of my favourite blogs & it's where folks submit a Christmas tree photo & the public votes on the winning photo. I submitted one (my 3rd time entering the contest!) of my little deer ornament. Pop on over & take a boo at all the lovely trees and vote for your favourite.

Happy Christmas Eve from me!

with mistletoe & sugar plums,
Caren

12/22/11

looking to the new year : 2012 calendars

I've been enjoying other blogs' posts sharing 2012 calendar finds, and decided I wanted to do likewise. I love calendar art, but funnily enough, I hardly ever use calendars! I tend to forget to switch to the new month. Last year, I used My Owl Barn's awesome free downloadable/customizable owl calendar - and will do so again this year, as it's just so owlful!
I've also decided that what I need for 2012 is a poster calendar - the entire year mapped out on one pretty page to pin up on a deserving wall. Here's a small selection that I've found on Etsy:

{click on individual images to visit the artist's listing}







And if that wasn't enough calendar love, here's a treasury I made in the wee hours of the morn:



Are you a fan of calendars? Or do you use technology to keep you informed on days/dates?
I tend to be a fan of paper (or fabric!) calendars, just like I prefer a real-life card/letter to their digital counterparts. There's something about the tangibleness of something you can hold in your hand, mark up with pen, and perhaps even reuse after its original purpose is done.
*note: paper used from renewable/sustainable/recycled sources is an important factor in my decision making! even though I love paper, I love it responsibly. ;)
with thoughtful joy,
Caren

12/21/11

Christmas isn't Christmas until Russian Tea Balls are baked...

Christmas baking - the apron smock 
{above : wearing my apron smock to ensure the icing sugar doesn't get all over me!}

Yesterday, I started my annual Christmas baking event. I knew I had to get my Russian Tea Balls made, as I am bringing some to a family-friend gathering this week. Also, Christmastime isn't real to me until these cookies are baked; they are my go-to holiday cookie! It could be their wintry cloak of icing sugar that does the trick, or the melt-in-the-mouth buttery goodness ... either way, these little balls are worthy of Christmas!

This year, I baked in my mom's kitchen, due to my apartment's continued state of construction. I brought my trusty old Kenwood Chef mixer with me, though, because baking is just not the same without her. She's the best, most hard-working mixer! The 'Chef' was a gift to my parents on their wedding day in 1956. I was lucky enough to get my hands on it when my mom decided it was too big for her space. yay!

Christmas baking Russian Tea Balls
{above : the happy little sugary cookie balls!}

I have previously blogged the recipe of these delightful little morsels, so won't repeat myself. If you've been a long-time follower of this blog, I do apologize for repeating myself... but, Russian Tea Balls are worthy of duplicate posts!
with cookie joy,
Caren

12/17/11

the one with the happy distractions.

Sleepy Gracie, in black & white Strongpaw foreground, Gracie background.

I'm always been a person who sees/cherishes the little things - allowing myself to be distracted from Life's daily routines & realities. I've lost a little of that ability recently, but Grace & Strongpaw are my constant reminder. Their furry little selves can bring me a welcome distraction, if I take the time to appreciate the moments.
Take, for instance, the fact that Grace likes to burrow under my bed's many blankets - the moment she snuffles her way out from under, her face all sleepy, melts away any stresses I might have had.
As for Strongpaw, any time she deigns to give me (perchance to purr?!) is a sweet one. In the above photo, she steals the spotlight from Grace, who is watching the outside world on a high vantage point. I love how my little Christmas tree is glistening in the background.
A new day always brings a fresh viewpoint, and after writing yesterday's post I already feel lighter and brighter. The moldy smell is dissipating in my apartment, and dreams of redecorating a fresh clean home is making me want to paint all of my walls white before I move in again.
It's good to be distracted now & then.
with joy,
Caren

comfort in a cup of tea AKA how I cope with stress

Starlight Dining Lounge Tea

above : taking time out to sip some tea at my favourite restaurant, Starlight Dining Lounge

below : why I need a time-out

my foyer, where mold was found underneath the original vinyl flooring
 
above: the Daleks are coming! run away!
for those of you who watch Doctor Who, I salute you. 

above: the bathroom, where sewage backups reign supreme.
(okay, not really. only once, but grossly so)

above: the remnants of my kitchen... in my living room.

So, do you recall my mentioning how I've been displaced for the past month+ after a bit of an icky thing happened in my apartment (in the name of sewage backup & major main pipe surgery)? Well, just when I thought things were finally on the up-swing, in the form of the laying of new floors - yet another disaster was found beneath the original flooring. The subfloor and the concrete below were WET. All because of improperly installed flooring. It seems the concrete couldn't breathe, so basically just wet itself into the vinyl floor underlay. That was the kitchen. That was bad enough.
Then they (a great group of guys, in actual fact) decided to check out what was under the floors in my foyer. Guess what they found? Yup! More wet, and this time with the extra bonus points of stinky icky black mold! Mold was already found in my bathroom during the clean-up/restoration post-sewage backup issue. I wasn't prepared for more mold to be unleashed upon my super-duper-sensitive immune system.
Suffice it to say, the new floors have not been installed. Instead, we had to go on mold patrol. Dry out the floors, spray the mold, etc etc. Also, I had to pack up my kitchen belongings, with the help of my dear mom, so that the workers could *remove* my kitchen cabinets in order to fix any other issues before laying the floor.
I fear what they might find when they look under the original flooring in my office and furnace room.
For now, though, I am told everything is coming along ticketyboo & I might even see my apartment finished by next Friday!
I never thought I'd see it done before Christmas ... but I'm also not holding my breath.
It seems everytime I turn around, something new and dreadful is revealed.
I'm pretty tired.
Of all the new things.
All I want for Christmas is the comfort of tradition... and no more mold!
with little bits of joy found in a cup of tea,
Caren
p.s. the night that the wet moldy floors were found, I turned to beer & wings to soothe my stress. tea is a much, much healthier option... but perhaps not quite as tasty. ;)

12/13/11

Owls : Anthropologie found

Remember my West Elm owl finds post? Well, now it's time for a good old fashioned Anthropologie one! I've shared some owl favourites from Anthropologie before, but I thought I'd put them all together in one post for the eye candy of it all.
I swoon over these owls. I want to bring them all home with me.
Fill the owl cookie jar with home baked cookies. Dry off my dishes with the embroidered owl tea towel. Keep my back door open with the owl door stopper. Oh, and yes, update my light switches to owl switchplates!


the owl 'loungers': I want these. I would wear them everyday.

I am so easy to buy for. If it's got an owl on it, I'll probably be pretty happy.
If it's an owl on lounge pants, all the happier!
... how did I become such an owl freakazoid? (don't worry, that's a rhetorical question)
with owlful joy.
Caren

12/11/11

Sunday Smile: bloggers by Instax

hello chickadees!
Today's Sunday Smile is brought to you by Fujifilm Instax
as well as the sweet blogger style of Elycia, Mel, Lucky, Astrid, me, Carly, and Des!

the tea party girls in Instax
I finally scanned the instant photography I took during the local blogger tea party I was a part of!
I smiled quite a bit to myself upon looking at these Instax shots, remembering what a lovely time we had
- and how silly-fun it was for each of us to line up to get our photo taken, paparazzi style! 
I knew I wanted an Instax shot of each pretty lady, and am so happy to have them.
p.s. thanks to Astrid for taking the shot of me!

with joy,
Caren

12/9/11

photographic visit down memory lane...

happy moment : me and Grace 

I was going through my file folders on my computer and found a few old(er) photos of me & my pup Grace that made me remember exactly those moments in time. It was like a total *freeze frame* thing.
The photo above is one I took of me & Grace the summer after I closed my boutique shop (Buttercup & Co.). I recall getting dressed up & deciding I wanted a cute photo of me & Grace, to remember the good times. I remember laughing at myself for doing such a silly photoshoot, and that's the photo you see above. It's a good memory.

I'm Batgirl 
above: photo taken of me over 4 years ago, when I liked to show off my Batgirl self. I think it's one of the best photos ever taken of me. Too bad I got rid of that vintage red leather jacket! It's a good memory.

yesteryear : pink lady 
above: this is me in a LOT of pink. I don't think I ever wore so much pink before, or after.
This was taken just after I got my nose pierced. It was a good day, and it's a good memory.

puppy Gracie - in a basket puppy Gracie - in a helmet

That's Gracie when she was just a baby puppy. She was (and still is!) the cutest little thing. She was so tiny that she fit in a motorcycle helmet (last photo). The other one is of her in a little white basket. Both photos were taken at the Lakefield Animal Welfare giant outdoor yard sale over 4 years ago, by a photographer from the Lakefield Herald. I had him send me the photos; so glad I did! It's a good memory.

I don't know why I got into such a reminiscing mode today ...
I think it's because I was scanning photos of my dad, who passed away over 8 years ago, and that kick-started me going down memory lane.
I'm so glad I am a camera happy girl, who took lots of photos and had lots of photos taken.
It's how I hold onto memories. I see the image, and it triggers the memory. If I didn't have the photograph, there would be no memory. My brain just doesn't retain information in the normal way; it's all visual.

So, I thought I'd bring you down memory lane with me!
And seeing those photos of me really makes me want to pierce my nose again.
Can't wait until February, when I have a date with a certain goddaughter to have our noses done together!
That's what makes memories so good; the knowledge that everyday brings a new one for the future.

addendum : an important thing I've learned about memories is that you can pull the good things out of a time of your life that (behind the scenes) were not-so-happy. I choose to focus on the positive instances. This doesn't mean I ignore the bad stuff - because let's face it, the crappy stuff is part of what makes us who we are! - but I have learned to let go. Let go and hold on to the good.

Go make some good memories!
with joy,
Caren

the one with the cat and dog in bed together

This post is to make up for the lack of blogging I've been doing.
I hope crazy cute critters will fill the gap between posts?
A rare moment between Strongpaw the Cat and Grace the Dog...

Grace and Strongpaw Grace and Strongpaw

You can imagine my supreme joy upon witnessing this in the wee hours of the morn.
You can also imagine how snap-happy I got, trying to capture this moment on film.
So much puppy belly! So much cat disdain!

This furry baby moment is brought to you by a crazy pet lady.
with joy,
Caren

12/4/11

Sunday Smile: the Twinkle show

Twinkle show : the girls + me 
from front to back: me!, Des, Jen & Karen peeking out from behind!

What you see above is a bevy of beauties (and my big happy face!) at the Twinkle Christmas show!
I went to the Springkle show (yes, in the Spring) and so had to go to the winter one, too.
Lucky Jackson (Jen) had a table at the show, so a bunch of us went together to visit her and a few other talented artisans (like Erin of Apples with Honey which I wish I took a photo of). I bought a pair of pretty earrings from Erin to give to a friend, but it was her earthy-sweet perfumes that were most popular! She is so full of talent - natural body care, photography, jewelry, screen-printed clothes! wow!

Twinkle show : the yuletide fire 
above: the yuletide fireplace in the lower level. Felt warm sitting by it! ;)

Twinkle show : breads & preserves 
above: Two Dishes Catering made some scrumptious breads, preserves & pies!
I took a turkey pot pie (heating it right now!) and a loaf of multi-grain bread (already gone)!

Twinkle show : the girls 
above: fashionable Karen picks out a piece of Lucky Jackson art, with Lucky herself standing by.
There's Des in the background looking quite darling in her scarf.

Twinkle show : the wall of Madonnas
above: a wall of Madonnas took my full attention; sadly none were for sale! :)

These shows (the Springkle & the Twinkle) are hosted at a house, which makes a delightful setting to browse art/crafts/food and meet/greet the actual creators! Peterborough is full of lovely creative outlets like this. I'm a happy girl that I get to go to them with good friends.

with joy,
Caren

12/2/11

a very shiny happy day : Blogger Heaven

the tea party - the polaroid blogger girls
Mel  ♥ Des  ♥ (me!) ♥ Astrid  ♥ Elycia  ♥ Carly  ♥ Jen

See all those pretties lined up?
Those are all local bloggers, who for the first time ever were in one place together at the same time.
This is kind of monumental.
We can thank the talented & lovely Michele Karch Ackerman for this happy moment!
Michele is a Canadian artist whose current installation, called Foundling, is at my local gallery: the Art Gallery of Peterborough.

Foundling by Michele Karch Ackerman Foundling by Michele Karch Ackerman

Michele brought it upon herself to host all of us local bloggers + a special guest (hello Elycia!) at her show.
Not only that, but she allowed us to be a part of her tea ceremony; with Blessed tea & her homemade cookies. It was a special day, full of special moments.

the tea party - sitting pretty?
We did many, many photo ops during our time together!
We even got to sit down on the job.
(I love how Elycia's hair & Des' legs are the same colour!)

the tea party - an instax party!
I knew I'd want to take an Instax shot of each of these beauties, and so I did!
(I still need to scan them all in, as well as the Polaroids I took!)

the tea party - awkward family portrait
We decided we needed to do an "awkward family portrait" with our hostess Michele.
I sort of love this photo. We look far too adorable, oui?

the tea party - from above
photos taken from up above are by far the most attractive of perspectives!

the tea party - the littlest polaroid girl
this is Clare-bear, Jen's youngest, and she is the littlest Polaroid girl!

the tea party - and then there was man
The photo shoots wouldn't have been complete without the addition of the Man of the Blogger world!
Martin is Michele's husband (and they're Astrid's - my goddaughter - parents & two of my dearest friends) and he writes for the blog Flashlights & Arrows.

There are so many things I could say about this day of bloggy happiness, but mostly it was just wonderful to have all these creative souls in one space. It was almost overwhelming! They are all truly unique, beautiful, talented and kind people. People you'd want to spend time with, and I hope to do so again sooner!

nov 30 2011 sunset
that sky is what I was welcomed with that evening. perfect ending to a perfect day!

Caren
*note: photos of the bloggers were taken with my camera by Michele or Martin; all other photos taken by me :)