Sunday, October 28

LED christmas lights don't have soul

garlands and bobbles, originally uploaded by squirrel_of_snooze.

now that the holiday season is almost upon us, i've noticed a few blogs posting about how important it is to use LED christmas lights this year. before i dive into everything wrong with the LED christmas light, i should first point out that i consider myself a pretty environmentally aware person. i studied conservation in university, and when i was 6, during a family outing to a christmas tree farm, i yelled at a little boy for throwing his styrofoam cup into the wiener roasting fire because it was going to "release CFCs into the atmosphere and destroy the ozone layer." i was precocious. so even though in vancouver we're blessed with a seemingly never ending source of relatively clean(ish) energy in the form of hydroelectricity, i still know that it's important to cut down on energy consumption. i don't leave things pluggled in, i live in the dark, etc... but christmas lights... i just can't go there!

the trouble with LED christmas lights is that they have no soul. unless you want to go super old-world, and risk burning your house down with candles, only tungsten lights twinkle. i don't know about you but i don't see the point of putting lights on my tree if they're going to look dead and cold. LED manufacturers try to cute them up with cheesy snowflake or icicle "festive" shapes or ice-like detailing, but they still look like the holiday lights from a brave new world.

LED lights might get programmed to flicker in the vain attempt to mimic a twinkle, but all that programming is tacky, and so very '80s suburbia in a bad way. in a tasteful world, these lights would be left to teenagers decorating their family rec rooms for their days of drug experimentation and all-weekend video game tournaments.

1. oversized, dull, and blahhhh
2. decorations for a holiday rave
3. soulless and cold

i understand that LED lights cut back on energy bills by 90%, and it's pretty amazing just how significant that is really. it's one of those things you can easily do to affect actual change and i'm sure these things make al and leo all warm and fuzzy inside. the problem is that they look like crap. so this year i will decorate my tree with tungsten lights, but only turn them on 10% of the time. will that concession get me any green karma this holiday season?

Thursday, October 25

woah is me

i have a recurring nightmare about losing all my teeth. they just get wobbly and loose and start falling out and i try to put them back into place but keep losing them, and no matter how tightly i try to keep my mouth shut, i can't keep them from falling out because since they're all wobbly, i can't actually bite down properly. i actually wake up in a cold sweat whenever i have this dream. i had a lot of orthodontic work done as a child. head gear, neck gear, you name it i had it. people say that this is a dream about losing control of your life, but i assure you that in my case it's all about losing my teeth.

a couple of weeks ago i noticed (after one of my tooth dreams) that my bite was a little off. because this was right after one of my tooth dreams i dismissed it. then a couple of days ago i decided to actually take a look, and i noticed that one of my 2 fillings was missing. the fact that i'm almost 29 and only have 2 fillings is something i'm strangely proud of. today i went in to have it replaced, and they found 2 more cavities. it was a bad start to the day. they even told me i could stand to floss better. did you know that daily flossing is not enough? you need to floss until it squeaks, or you're failing your mouth.

my dentist is just down the street from ikea so after the appointment as a pick me up i went to buy candles and things. as i pulled out of the parking lot i got a call from hans letting me know our hot water heater had burst. i got home to discover that all of our winter jackets and extra bedding (pillows and duvets included) were sopping wet. we won't have hot water until tomorrow sometime in the late afternoon. maybe while the plumber is here i'll go to visit the dry cleaner.

that was my day. now that it's gone 6 i think that i can pour myself a glass of red wine without feeling guilty for using alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism. tea can only get you so far. cheers!

Wednesday, October 24

colour quiz via how about orange

going through my bloglines this morning i came across the colour quiz jessica wrote about on how about orange. this is one of those "check the adjectives that best describe you" quizzes that you probably took in high school, but instead of telling you what you should grow up to be, this one gives you an HTML hex code. that's my kind of test! god i'm a geek... anyway, i'm cadet blue. i always thought this colour was teal, but apparently i was wrong. jessica got pale turquoise and at least the first paragraph about her colour and mine are exactly the same. in any case, i've definitely used this colour in my work before, and i'm pretty sure i'm bound to again. here's what the quiz says about me:

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is lower than average - You don't stress out over things and don't understand people who do. Finishing projects may sometimes be a challenge, but you schedule time as you see fit and the important things all happen in the end, even if not everyone sees your grand master plan.

Your outlook on life can be bright or dark, depending on the situation. You are flexible and see things objectively.

Saturday, October 20

fountains, gowns and ships are here...

i sold my first kitten through my etsy shop last week. yay! thank you carrie for ordering clover and i hope you've found a good spot for her in your home! my first sale gave me a good excuse to make another little kitten to fill the spot on my shelf left empty once i sent clover packing. this is francesca and she's a leggy kitten, standing a good inch taller than the others i've made. she's super soft, and i'm really enjoying working with these muted colours. i think it's because it's so grey outside these days that all i want is soup and a crochet hook.

special needs - "francesca"

over the summer i oooooh-ed and ahhhhh-ed over abigail glassenberg's softies. while her two daughters are napping she makes the most amazing creatures. she makes toys and works of art in those 2 hours a day she has to herself, and they are all so whimsical and original and inspiring. i have posted a bunch about birds lately, and here i go again.

abigail has a few pieces available through her etsy shop right now, and is preparing a number of others for some upcoming shows. you can see them all by visiting her flickr page, and you can read all about them by visiting her blog, while she naps.

this past year everyone has gone to the birds. almost 2 years ago now i started work on album art for a boompa artist named lullaby baxter. she did a really cool photo shoot with taxidermy birds -- whiskyjacks to be exact, which are among my top 5 favourite birds, so i was understandably anxious to get to work on them. i begged, pleaded, connived, argued and prayed to use a certain bird photo for the cover, but lullaby was not having it. there was no way she was going to let me put this bird on the cover. she wanted it to be text only. then why taunt me with such a great photo? i lost the battle. a chronic personality flaw of mine means that i still think i am right, an affliction compounded by how prevalent birds have been ever since that album came out. here are the 2 covers, and regardless of getting my way or not, it's still a beautiful record so here's a song you might like, too. and if you do like it you can visit to stream the entire album.

lullaby baxter - "rattled little clam" from garden cities of to-morrow

Sunday, October 14

august again

i've always liked the name august. i imagine an august would be steady, thoughtful, contemplative and kind. when i finished this bunny and thought to myself "and what will i name you?" his sleepy face, and muted colours said "august." and so here is august the bunny, a very soft rabbit made with wool, mohair, alpaca, and linen blends. i've just added him to my etsy shop. i love this colour combination so much i'm going to get started on a grey kitten right now.

last night hans and i went to a party at his mother's house. it was a great excuse for me to splurge on a new black dress. i found the most perfect silk cacharel cocktail dress, and i would wear it every day if i could. there's something to be said about clothing so beautifully made, of such gorgeous fabrics. i'm not sure what specifically that something is, but it sure looks and feels good! i am in the middle of a lazy and sleepy sunday, which is just as well because it's cold out and my throat is sore from talking over music last night. i'm not complaining because it's the perfect excuse to make soup, and cozy up on the sofa with this kitten that needs to be made.

Tuesday, October 9


i spent the past couple of weeks dreading thanksgiving. i just find the whole ordeal so daunting and stressful, and i always go into these things thinking i'm going to hate every moment. thankfully, that wasn't the case at all this year. while i did stay up way too late sunday night working on a way too time consuming but delicious sour cream pumpkin pie (my first attempt at the crust went horribly wrong) that could have been an ominous preview of things to come, yesterday's dinner came together almost without a hitch.

the day started with draining the apple cider brine off the turkey (free range, organic, non medicated, and hopefully happy until the bitter end) and giving it a good wash and dry, while i made the stuffing and hans' mother made the cranberry sauce. once the turkey was done we prepared all the vegetables so that as soon as the turkey came out of the oven, they'd be ready to go in. we roasted brussel's sprouts, yellow and red carrots, baby potatoes, and golden and chiogia beets. and while people took turns carving and sampling the turkey, hans' mom made a delicious gravy with chanterelle mushrooms, and i sautéed green beans with butter and slivered almonds and kept my eye on the roasting veggies.

everything went really smoothly, with the exception of the turkey taking about 2 hours longer than we'd anticipated. good thing we stuck the thermometer in the other thigh, or we'd have all been in trouble! there was a 20 degree difference between sides, and the bird looked dry as king tut. i panicked a little inside, but tried to play it cool. a couple of hours later, the other side was done and thankfully it turned out to be the perfect, juicy, tender turkey thanks to the cider brining. i don't think it's possible to make a bad turkey if you brine it. brine brine brine. if i ever wanted to become an ordained minister so i could officiate a wedding, i'd be the leader of the holy church of cider brining.

by the time i went to sleep last night i felt pretty ill, and i woke up with a cold. blah. today i'm working in my pajamas and making turkey soup. holidays can be draining, even when they turn out better than you could have hoped.

Friday, October 5

drug buddy

when tucson-based artist sasha lewis isn't busy watching old nsync performances on youtube, she's working on finishing her BFA. sasha's illustrations are generally kept under wraps, but i harass her daily in hopes that she might put a few of her prints up on etsy. she's been working on a series of animals doing drugs (heroin hyena, binging bull, rhino on a rodeo) and there's something so obviously absurd about these images, that you can't help but wonder why humans do it.

on the lighter side, she's also working on another series that will eventually become an illustrated book about a llama meeting other animal friends.

and since sasha and i both love juliana hatfield, here are a few of her drug-related songs:

evan dando and julianna hatfield - "my drug buddy" live at kcrw

juliana hatfield - "choose drugs" from beautiful creature

blake babies - "brain damage" from god bless the blake babies

{ it turns out that i chose one of sasha's favourite nsync bootlegs, and she told me that her favourite thing (other than just the idea of nsync bootlegs) is the dance move at the 25 second mark. how can you choose just one move? i think the best part is their not so spontaneous scripted stage banter. }

Thursday, October 4

spilt milk and sparrows

over the summer my friend natalie, along with her neighbour lindsay, came up with the idea of making baby clothes they'd wear themselves if they were only big enough. under the name spilt milk, they silkscreen limited edition tees, tanks, and onesies, and sew and hand paint beautiful dresses using eco friendly fabrics. i love the twee little sparrow image on the tee above, and i also love their little pinafores which you can find through their etsy shop.

while on the subject of twee little sparrows, here are some bird-related songs, and an assortment of feathered etsy buys...

1. betsey walton / 2. nancy's view / 3. ashley g / 4. paper love / 5. geninne
6. cindy jaswal / 7. onegirl / 8. restless things / 9. fern animals
10. oh my cavalier / 11. littlest flower / 12. my folk lover

sparrow - "the quiet revelation" from the new pastoral

the boo radleys - "sparrow" from everything's alright forever

architecture in helsinki - "the owls go" from fingers crossed

the hylozoists - "red bird wishes" from la nouvelle gauche

josé gonzález - "sensing owls" from stay in the shade

Tuesday, October 2

blushing bride

last week i posted a photo of a flower called blushing bride that i'd stumbled across on gracia louise's blog. i had never seen it before, loved it immediately, and had a pretty hard time getting the results i was after by googling "blushing bride" and "flower".

i didn't check back at gracia's blog to see that she'd posted some info about the flowers. we turned up the same stuff:

  • blushing bride is serruria florida, from the protea family.

  • the common name for the genus serruria is spiderhead

  • there are over 50 species native to south africa

  • they grow as small evergreen shrubs in dry, nutrient poor soil

  • they make great potted plants, and even better cut flowers -- they last 7-10 days, and dry well.

housemartin told me that the blushing brides she'd seen are a lot more pale and less pink than the ones gracia louise posted. turns out that gracia's are actually a variety called sugar and spice, and i think they're the prettiest.

i found nurseries that carry them in england, and australia, but no luck for canada so far...


garden rooms just posted about how to make peony scented linen spray, and it made me dig up this photo, and wonder "what is this peony?" peonies are one of my top 3 favourite flowers, and this is the best time of year to plant them. and in case you were wondering, tulips and freesias. last may, while in germany visiting hans' family, a guest brought over the most beautiful peonies i'd ever seen. this photo doesn't do them justice at all. they were luminous, and delicate, and looked like a sunset.

since peonies are my mum's favourite too, one of these would be such a nice gift, so i did some digging and it looks like coral sunset. americans can buy them here, and canadians can buy them from this quebec-based nursery. peonies make me wish to someday have a huge, deer-free garden.

wanted (lost found canadian)

trying to find things to write about that others might find interesting on a daily basis is new to me, and a little daunting, not to mention hard to get into the habit of! so this is a photo i took not too long ago. there's my alyson fox drawing, and a jill bliss gocco print, and the little pot is a thrifted find (one of 2) i got for 25 cents, and i got the little plant from great shop in chinatown. it's called wanted (lost found canadian), and i think the owners are real pioneers. they opened shop in about as bad a vancouver location as they could possibly find -- tucked down a side street, one shop in from an alley where junkies shoot up without any effort to conceal their illegal activities, and a half block from the bottle depot, where bottle pickers and bike thieves congregate. that's my neighbourhood, and as depressing as it can often be, it's neighbours like the plant shop owners who make me love it here.

their shop is beautiful, and they carry some pretty unique house plants including fiddlehead figs. i need a bigger home before i can buy one of those. i have to limit my visits there as it is because i already have too many plants. i am going to have to donate some to charity - you can actually do that! the cool thing about these shop owners is that they've really become part of the neighbourhood. their clientèle ranges from people such as myself, to nice old ladies from chinatown, to tenants of single room occupancy hotels. and the bottle pickers will bring them treasures like vintage sleighs, and ploughs and all sorts of weird things you wouldn't expect to find in downtown back alley dumpsters. one of the owners (susan) makes super cute pointy kitties, and other softies, and beautiful pillows made out of recycled wool blankets. it's a great store, so if you're in vancouver and find yourself in chinatown, turn north on columbia off pender and you'll find one of the best shops in town!

Monday, October 1

pinch punch, first of the month

the beautiful new design sponge is online today. seriously, the new design sponge is beautiful, and grace seems to be updating it hourly! she launched the new site by offering a tour of her brooklyn home, and i am completely in love with that weinrib rug. coupled with the john robshaw quilt? i am so jealous...

and... poppytalk handmade is also online today! jan is acting as the curator of this virtual flea market / craft sale, where each vendor pays for a "booth" where their work is profiled, and then the visitors can buy directly from each artist, designer, or seller of vintage things. it should definitely help to promote their wares, and it's a great business for jan to have started up. in fact, i'm kicking myself for not thinking up that idea myself!! there are really some beautiful things featured, so you should check it out. i love the print featured here by olivia jeffries. you can read her blog sweet as a loon, or just go straight to her etsy shop, restless things. are loons sweet?