Monday, November 26

dear 3-notes, i hate you, sincerely me

we live in between 2 other apartments. since living in this building, our neighbours to the right have generally been crazy. one of them had an honest to god schizophrenic break, and another was just nuts and thought she heard ghosts. there's been a new guy living there for the past year, and he's so quiet, and so perfect you'd never even know he was there.

the guy who moved into the apartment to the left a couple of years ago is another story altogether. i work from home a lot, and not this past summer but the one before, while i was working on a huge project and pulling long hours, our neighbour decided to take up music. he's into heavy industrial, and i think he must do a lot of drugs because during the months following his synthesizer purchase he played 3 descending notes, repeatedly for hours and hours, days and days on end. weeks, and months went by and i'd spend my days losing my mind while he'd play these same 3 descending notes over, and over, and over, and over... i knocked on his door and asked him to keep it down, i banged on the walls, i finally asked the building manager to talk to him. he improved moderately, in that he'd only jam on those 3 notes once a week or so, instead of all day everyday.

it's been over a year now, and i must say that he's improved. he knows more than 3 notes now, but i still find myself knocking at his door, banging on his walls, and reporting him to the building manager. my furniture is still vibrating, and i still feel like i'm going to have a psychotic break like our old neighbours to the right.

so the question is this: what do i do? i can't blast my music in retaliation because i actually like my other neighbours, and don't want to make them suffer. should i give him some headphones for christmas and hope that he figures it out?

as a funny side note, the woman who used to live above 3-notes was a classical pianist, and he drove her completely mental. she used to sit and play the same 3 notes back to him over and over to see if he'd get the drift. he did not.

Tuesday, November 20

snowy mountains, mushrooms and mistletoe

good morning snowy mountains
one of the best things about vancouver in november is waking up to that morning when the snow line reaches the north shore mountains. the first week or so it melts by noon, but eventually it sticks and that's when it's really winter. people always point to the northwest and say "how can you live with all the rain in the winter? isn't it depressing? i think i'd kill myself." to which i reply "but we have colour, and you have grey and brown, dirty snow and trees covered in burlap." some people get seasonal affective disorder from short winter days. i have seasonal aesthetic disorder. in vancouver the snow's rarely around long enough to get dirty, and the snow that sticks stays up in the mountains where it belongs. everything's green and blue and crisp and clean and shiny. i have the added bonus of all the red of my view across the port. it's very christmassy don't you think? that said, it rained all weekend and i was a shut-in. a very productive shut-in, but a shut in nonetheless. here's what i did:

mushrooms and mistletoe
the past week has been an assembly line of holiday ornaments for the swap, (and gifts for family). i originally wanted to do bunnies because i love bunnies, and to top that off design sponge recently declared that rabbits are the new birds. i told a friend of mine about that and she said that's totally wrong, because mushrooms are the new birds. first i made the wool crochet mushrooms, then i felted some white berries, and then i made crochet alpaca leaves which were embroidered and beaded. and THEN i embroidered and beaded the mushroom tops and used a candy cane striped bamboo blended string to tie it all together. it's a lot of work, and i have a lot more to do.

Tuesday, November 13

fiep westendorp

a couple nights ago i was on ichat with a friend who was in the midst of a manic online shopping episode. i told her i'd just been to vancouver's new japanese dollar store supreme where i bought a ton of cute stuff including a spirograph (i've been looking for one for years). she informed me that dutch is the new japanese of cute, and when she sent me a link to the fiep westendorp site i couldn't disagree.

while dutch might be the new japanese of cute, fiep westendorp is far from new. the dutch illustrator who i think would have been great friends with mary blair, began her career in illustration in the '40s. her most famous characters, the mischievous jip and janneke pictured above, are 55 years old but have managed to stay part of dutch popular culture through the decades. like mary blair's work on peter pan and alice in wonderland, and unlike some of disney's other work (sorry mickey, you're out), fiep's characters are timeless.

anyway, said friend was in desperate search of a fiep puzzle for her daughter's upcoming first birthday. no luck on the fiep site, and while there were no puzzles on ebay she did manage to buy an amazing j&j tea set, which i think is quite possibly the coolest tea set any child could ever wish for.

i decided to scour the internet some more today and came across a post about feip westendorp at wee wonderfuls. in the comments i read about the huge j&j line dutch superstore HEMA carries. puzzles! not just puzzles but everything jip and janneke you could imagine, including candies, shampoo, lunch boxes, sparkling ciders, bandages, bubbles, stickers, stamps, dried fruit, juice boxes, sketchbooks - you name it, HEMA has it! AND... they ship internationally.

Monday, November 12

holiday ornament swap, group 4

holiday ornament swap, group 4:
1. swap packs by nicole, freshly blended / 2. brown flowers by jennifer, swallowfield / 3. elizabeth dye
4. mattie le oobee by leslie, onegirl designwrks / 5. wood walnut evergreen tree from janet, three potato four
6. dachshund combat by caitlin keegan / 7. jessica williams / 8. shoulder bag by emma, showpony / 9. ulrika nilsson

during last week's holiday ornament swap sign up leslie and i decided to make an extra ornament to send to each other. what are the odds that of the 600+ taking part in the swap, we'd wind up in the same group? pretty slim, but it happened. when i got the list of people in my swap group i did a little dance. they'll be glad to know that i've almost figured out what to make them.

Sunday, November 11

buzz bombs, jets and flak

my grandpa had a couple of old cigar boxes on the top shelf of his closet. sometimes when he wasn't in his room we'd sneak in to steal toffees or chocolate mints out of one of the boxes, while looking through the medals he kept tucked away in the other. grandpa was a spitfire pilot in the RCAF, and it was impossible to forget this because the basement was full of books, model airplanes, and prints of the single seat fighters. he never talked about the war, and never told us what the medals hidden away in his closet were for. truth be told, grandpa didn't talk much at all and spent most of his days napping, walking the dog, or watching golf in the back room. when i was a very little girl he used to smoke cigars and pipes in the basement, and to this day i think the scent of pipe tobacco is one of the best, and most comforting in the world. while my grandma and her 9 children and their dozens of grandchildren visited, rough housed, and sometimes sang in the front room, grandpa hid out in the back. he was a recovering alcoholic, and i remember that on the rare occasions he would have a drink he became the most belligerent and bigoted old man i'd ever met. he was a product of his generation after all.

one year we were all gathered around celebrating his birthday - there must have been at least 50 of us there because that's how modern day scottish clans roll. everyone gave him spitfire models and sweaters, but one aunt gave him a book of canadian spitfire pilots of the second world war. she stumbled upon it in costco and while leafing through the pages she came across an interview with my grandpa - one none of us knew about, and that he'd forgotten ever even having given. the long and short of the interview was that he'd "shot a lot of those buggers down" and that he'd once been shot down himself, taking shrapnel to the derrière.

like most of the men who fought during the war, my grandpa was a flawed hero. be that as it may, as a man who kept his medals in a box at the back of his closet, he'd never have admitted he was a hero at all anyway.

today is the day we set aside each year to remember. meanwhile the men and women who remain have for the most part spent the decades since the wars trying to suppress the most vivid memories of their lives. fraught with anguish and mourning, more often than pride and honour, these are the memories that have left our heroes scarred and flawed survivors, but our sometimes belligerent, and oftentimes silent family nonetheless. and we thank them.

Friday, November 9

lucky soul

at my friend frank's insistence i bought every lucky soul single and b-side through emusic a couple of days ago. i bought the 9 songs without ever having heard them before, but i'm glad i trusted in frank's good taste. he first became infatuated with lucky soul last spring, but subsequently fell in love as evidenced by his gushing post hailing their album the great unwanted as the best british debut of the year. sadly, their album is only available for purchase through itunes (boo), which is why i got only the singles and b-sides. nevermind whiskers on kittens and warm woolen mittens, i'll take motown and spector girls. and look how nicely they would coordinate with my trunkt finds below!

lucky soul - "add your light to mine, baby" from add your light to mine, baby

stream: lucky soul, the great unwanted
watch: lips are unhappy / my brittle heart / add your light to mine, baby

i'm on trunkt!

1. moop / 2. colorado art studio / 3. elisa shere jewelry / 4. akasha / 5. inleaf / 6. anne maa designs / 7. heidi burton / 8. j d wolfe pottery / 9. raydel photography / 10. blissful / 11. lurearts / 12. hadley hutton

seeing as i have crippling wrist pain today i shouldn't be typing this, but i had to write this little note to say that i've been accepted as a member of trunkt! as you can see from the images above, i'm in some pretty amazingly talented company. if you sign up as a reader at, and create a wishlist before november 15th you might be the winner of a shiny shiny $500 trunkt shopping spree, so go do that!

but back to my wrists, the weird thing is that the left one hurts more than the right (the mouser). any suggestions other than ibuprofen? i know you're supposed to stretch and strengthen, blah blah blah, but that's easier said than done when stretching and strengthening only aggravate the problem further! oh well. i will just drink tea and wait the pain away.

Wednesday, November 7

i read the news today, oh boy

toys that won't send your children to hospital:
1. squirrel pull toy by matsutaki / 2. elephant by tiny warbler / 3. peony le oobee by one girl
4. choco bunny by girl savage / 5. polly by hop skip jump / 6. felt play food by katie made goods
7. kokeshi doll by run amok / 8. alba the bunny by squirrel of snooze / 9. perry the penguin by cynic the lamb

i leave CBC newsworld on in the background while i work, and the headlines today have been fantastic. first off, that tetrapod girl survived having her parasitic vestigial twin limbs removed after a surgery that took a full day less than anticipated. when i'd first heard about the story i couldn't imagine putting my child through a 48 hour surgery that had a 75% chance of mortality. can you imagine being born with 8 limbs in india of all places? her neighbouring villagers actually believed she was the reincarnated deity of wealth, but strangely were still hoping to sell her to the circus. hopefully this little girl will have a chance at a normal life now. isn't it amazing what modern medicine is capable of?

next up, the canadian dollar hit $1.10 USD today. that's nuts! should i believe the projections that it will go as high as $1.25 and get my paypal money out while i can, or should i leave it in hock until it eventually comes back down? i might have to wait until bush leaves the white house for that to happen. what a drag!

but the real story that blew me away is just one more compelling reason to buy handmade this christmas. i didn't think it would be possible to trump leaded paint in toys, but china managed to do it! aqua dots (or bindeez in australia) have been pulled off the market after being found to contain GHB. that's right, china is trying to date rape the children of the world. so this holiday season, buy handmade, because when you buy from a crafter you get linen and merino, not heavy metals and hallucinogens.

Tuesday, November 6

the holiday craft disaster that is soon to be my living room

lily the pug, originally uploaded by squirrel_of_snooze.

i finished my first custom order this morning, and i think it might be the best thing i've done! when i was asked if i'd be able to do a pug, i knew what i wanted it to look like but wasn't sure that i'd be able to make it exactly how i was imagining it. i picked out some very puggy colours in very soft merino wool, and it turned out even better than i'd hoped! i think there are more pugs and bostons and frenchies in my future...

the next few weeks are going to be busy! yesterday morning i signed up for the holiday ornament swap organized by freshly blended and cake and pie. i just missed the sign up last year and have been looking forward to this ever since seeing the beautiful, amazing, and original decorations everyone made. i rarely get things in the mail so this is something i'm really excited about! take a look at some of the ornaments made for last years swap and you'll see why. now i just need to figure out what i should make...

from top left:
1. liquid paper - home sweet home / 2. emikw - felt ornaments / 3. gasup the zamboni - swaptopus
4. emiee - a pack of monkeys / 5. creative kismet - little birds / 6. fluff life - robin nests / 7. sara - hannah the hen
8. lula louise - hanging strawberry ornament / 9. chat du rouge - pinkville / 10. yukimo - crochet bobbles
11. sarah van wijck - trees / 12. jenn knits a lot - penguins

i also finally pledged to buy (or make) handmade this christmas at it was something i'd been meaning to do the past couple of weeks, but i just have a problem filling out forms and coming up with quotes. what was i supposed to say? "i can't wait!" or "this year it's all handmade for me!" attempts at witty quotes aside, i am looking forward to it, though this means poor hans will have to live with a messy apartment the next few weeks with yarn and batting and god knows what else all over the place. now that i've made it sound so great, would you care to join me? or perhaps you'd like avoid the mess and work in favour of buying something of the crochet persuasion?