September 21, 2018

Summer Diary ~ 2018

Forever (after, now) remembered as the first summer at the Oriole nest.
A new home, a new space, a new frame of mind.

The Oriole nest feels like the safest place to be; to be entirely me, with my best friend who - surprise! Is still my best friend after nearly 5 months of living together.
The amount of times I was warned, and reassured others, that we still would be. She's a dream come true. We've made such a nice place to live and I am soaking up every minute of it (because I know nothing is permanent).

This summer was marked by the hum and clicks of fans oscillating, by the subway rumbling gently like a faraway thunder rolling across distant skies. Cicadas, zealous chirping squirrels with red tails. It was marked by new music, a deeper appreciation for female voices and song writing, artists that inspire me to be who I am fully. Buying sun flowers for myself. A new commute to work, one where I sometimes bump into one of my participants and we make the bus ride shorter with lively discussion.

I will also remember this as a summer that felt really weird.
Weird like a half-dream,
like a stuck-in-transition season.
Weird like the time between a short hair cut
and not sure whether you want to chop it again
or go back to long locks.
Weird like staying in lake water too-long;
All you want is to stay and float forever but your body isn't made to.

I didn't spend as much time outside as I'd like;
a result of the Oriole nest being a basement apartment?
Feeling grounded,
but wanting the air and the water,
fresh air out of the city,
water I can jump into.

This is the reality of where I am in life:
a young adult,
paying rent in a city with exorbitant costs,
wanting to be in the city
a cool cultured youth some people tell me I should be
(myself a people too).
But then unable to afford a getaway which I begin to crave.

I got some tastes though - a brief stint at a stormy cottage, one or two swims. A visit to my grandma, by her bed as she is fighting an aggressive cancer. Reading by the pool while she rests. Camping overnight after a friend's wedding, listening to crickets and the crackling dying bonfire at four in the morning from my tent, nursing a hangover in a corn field just five hours later. Visiting my parents' house and having coffee on the back porch in the morning.

Celebrating four years together. My big-bearded guy with a big heart and a big mind.
Daydreaming too much about our future together
(sometimes just enough, but sometimes too eagerly -
I am learning to want things in the future
but accept that they are only there, not in the now.)

The day I showed up at his place and he had set up an outdoor table for us to get our hands dirty at, experimenting with dollar store clay,
next to his family's vegetable garden.
Moving his room from a basement we fell in love in, to an upper floor,
smashing a crunchy mattress up small stairways of an old house,
learning to laugh at the neighbours' weird antics at odd hours of the night.

I love him.

As the weather cools, I look forward to holding hands without feeling sticky.
I look forward to cooking and eating soup,
without raised eyebrows at me for eating soup in the heat.

Here's to this summer, and here's to this next season too.
~ xo

September 10, 2018

A Thought or Two: Relationality in Art

I've felt this heavy shift in the last half of a year. Heavy in the good, planets shifting, mind bending kind of way.

My research and work is in relational caring, relational philosophies for working with persons with dementia. The theories resonate with me, they parallel something deep down in my psyche that I've not ever been able to put words to until now.

Relationality is how I live my life.
My relationships are a central part of my life, organically, naturally, always.
I thrive when I'm connected with others. I have a suspicion that this is how all humans thrive. So do all the relational theorists!

So how has this changed my art practice?
I still enjoy a good hours-long paint session, with good music, just me and my materials and ideas.
But I get a much bigger kick out of making art collectively, collaboratively. At work with my seniors, I work side by side or in collaboration with people all day. It's a freeing space, it lets relationships flow and grow. 

Knowing how good it feels at work to be in connection with others while making art and being creative, it made me wonder how I could translate this to my art practice. For one, I've been trying to make art with friends when we spend time together! For another, I've been re-reading all of my art school materials on relational aesthetics, thinking about how to make it a reality with my skillset.

In May I facilitated an interactive collage installation at an arts and music event. It was a total dream come true to have people come up to my collage wall, with their collage materials in hand, so excited to contribute to the collaborative collage pieces. We made 4 very colourful, bedazzled, and fascinating pieces. I loved watching people make collage decisions I never would have thought of, watching people pair things together or fold things or cut things a certain way. It was beautiful and I can still feel the high of it when I think back to the event.

I want to do this again. And again. And again. I want to make art with people indefinitely and always. It's a beautiful and healing and magical.

So, here's to relationality in art, and artwork becoming less competitive and ego driven - instead, community minded!


May 20, 2018

Sunday Diary ~ May 20, 2018

This week was full! 
Yet, I feel I just sort of glided through it without noticing the passing of time. Do you ever experience that? Weeks that you reflect on and suddenly don't remember what you did, who you saw, how you felt....

I only had work two days of the week, which likely has something to do with it. I always lose track of time if I don't have a structured schedule. I worked a day with my seniors and a day with the wedding photographer I work for. I also spent a day working on my research assistant work with a colleague, and I took a day on Monday to unwind and force myself to do a bit of "nothing", after the turbulent Mother's day weekend feels.

~ Went to my brother's high school art program graduation this week! It's the same specialized program I graduated from, and I am so proud of him and excited for his upcoming university adventures. Here's a fun compare and contrast image for you from my graduation to his.....

~ Spent an afternoon running errands with my step mom and got my new place WAY more settled feeling. Some face cloths, some throw pillows for our couch, a little adorable cabinet/cart that will soon be my art supply storage, but for now homes the record player and our modem so that they aren't just sitting on the floor in the corner! I found it at a thrift store in dire need of a hardcore scrub, but it was cheap and fully functional and worth it!

~ Cucumber Kombucha is my latest favourite flavour - this week I'm brewing up a cucumber and cilantro batch, I can't wait to see if it's as good as the cucumber alone! It's been really fun brewing kombucha these last few weeks - though I admit I'm one of those scaredy cats who constantly thinks I've managed to make mine mouldy. I never have, not yet. It's hard to do but the scoby always looks SO WEIRD that I worry anyway! Ha! Do any of you brew your own kombucha?

~ I bought a camera! And sold my old one. My aforementioned photography boss works with Canon and I've been stubbornly holding onto my Nikon for 4 years. He finally convinced me to buy his extra Canon off of him, and I found someone online who bought my Nikon for his fiancé who wants to get into blogging! I'm SO glad it's going to good creative use and staying in the blogging world ;) Haha. Be on the look out for new and excited photography adventures....

Today, I am off to the farm in the middle of the city - Riverdale Farm. I'm excited to see the baby animals that come with spring and the blooms in the ravine. Last year the entire side of the hill was covered in a carpet of tulips and it was remarkable!

Hope you are also having a great weekend - and a lovely long weekend if you get tomorrow off in your part of the world, too!


May 14, 2018

Gallery Chat: Transitions

When you open the door to the universe, welcoming change, sometimes it feels like you've opened a pandora's box and the universe begins throwing all sorts of surprises at you. Here, you want change? Have more than you asked for! You want an inch? I'll give you a whole dang mile!

Transition periods can be tumultuous and fulfilling and devastating and beautiful. Moving has been so good but also so difficult. Everything takes a little longer to do as you figure out a new space and a new routine. Everything takes a little more mental energy and I'm left feeling super exhausted all of the time. That's not to say Im not also thriving - having my own place feels amazing. I leave my door and walk down the street and just smile. It all feels like a big, full-body, full-spirit sigh of relief.

Mother's day was sort of tough. While I got to spend it with some beautiful people and celebrate some wonderful mums, my grandma was taken to hospital and things aren't looking great. Not terrible, and I'm waiting on more results before I make any mental conclusions myself, but it's a curveball nonetheless. I got home and felt OK, but also not OK. It feels as though I am in a funny tight-rope, limbo position emotionally. My room mate came home and found me fresh from a little cry prompted by not being able to open the new compost bag (but really about everything else). She promptly brought out the chocolate and made me tea and gave me the biggest hug. I'm so grateful to be living with this gal.

Spring is also in full swing - another transition period. The city is exploding with blooms and gardens are just so full of newness to explore. I thrive in this weather and this season and I'm so glad and hopeful to grow alongside all the flowers and trees, fill out this apartment and this new routine with beauty, and persist despite the growing pains of transition periods.


Eyes have always been a subject of interest to me - my high school notebooks are covered in endless sketches of eyes. All of my paints are at my parents' house still, so I had some fun trying this out on photoshop today. What do you think?


Gallery Chat is a recurring post series where words and imagery collide, sometimes unrelated but emerging from the same mind in the same place in time nonetheless. In this series I explore topics and ideas that are on my mind as well as my more recent art works that I want to share with you on House of Ell.

May 10, 2018

Apartment Inspo: Styling a chocolate brown sofa

Let me tell you a little story about a couch.

It's really a classic story: you have a beautiful sofa, and you arrange to have it brought all the way across the city, only to lug it down (or up) a narrow stairwell, giving yourself false hope that it made it through the front door, only to find that it will not and can not fit the rest of the way into the apartment or house.

You scuff up all the walls with whatever colour your couch is, you get some fingers stuck between cushion and wall, you get sweaty and sad. Yep, we all know this story.

I was given the most beautiful chocolate brown sectional from a gloriously generous friend of my parents' and I couldn't believe my luck - until it didn't fit into my new place. My fella and I had spent the whole day moving, we hadn't had dinner yet, and were feeling so defeated. We dragged ourselves away from trying, couch back into the truck bed, and went to pick up his dad. When we told him what happened, his dad said "Why didn't you just take it apart?". At this point I was hangry, defeated, and thought that was a ludicrous idea because the couch was so beautiful and I didn't want to 'take it apart'. Turns out he knew exactly what he was talking about (it's just undoing 3 bolts from inside the couch!) and helped us to do it the following day, once I was a little less hangry and a little more open to the idea. This simple trick made the couch the perfect size to just GLIDE right into my place (well, it felt like gliding compared to the day before). Man, did we ever feel good getting in after all of that.

I love chocolate brown couches - to me they are the ideal colour of sofa for the purpose of living on them. The risk of spilling wine or dropping chocolate on them feels, well, less risky. That said they're a bit tricky to match with other colours because they're so. deeply. decadent. So, I have some ideas:

~ Orange accents: Pinterest loves this idea. When you search chocolate brown couches on pinterest (and google!) you get a heck of a lot of orange. Sometimes I find this a bit too stark of a contrast and a bit too seventy's for me, even though I love 70's colour schemes, this one's not for me. That said, with the right combination of citrus-y oranges, whites, and a hint of green or turquoise, I actually really like how this looks. It's colourful and bright.

~Textured Neutrals: I love how beachy and light this looks. I also just love an un-cluttered, calming design for spaces meant to be comfortable. We're in a basement so I was nervous to have a dark couch. Turns out it does not feel dark or imposing or cramped at all, so I no long feel we NEED light neutrals for our pillows and blankets etc. They're certainly nice nonetheless, but I can't help but wonder if maybe my room mate and I are more colourfully inclined than this in the long run....

~Fun Patterns: This is the style my mum and step dad have gone with their couch, and I've always loved the way they've styled their living room. They have pillows made of old, recycled saris. We have a 'little India' in Toronto and it's the best place to go for such beautifully ornate and special items. I don't want to veer too much into any cultural appropriation or misuse of traditionally important and meaningful motifs, though, so that's one consideration. I also don't want things to get too busy. But my room mate did suggest that, with items like these, the busy-ness becomes more subtle when you have so much of it.

What do you think? Do you have a preference from these 3 options? I know I've got some design-minded folks following along and I would LOVE to hear your input and any ideas you have!


May 9, 2018

The Big Move: First Updates

It happened! I've officially made my big move into my new apartment. It has been an exhausting process but an equally as rewarding one so far.

Last week my fella and I borrowed his dad's red pick up truck for some of our big items - including a chocolate brown, beautiful sectional sofa (which didn't fit in the doorway at first, but we found a way!), and we got most of my stuff moved over the course of 2 days. I kept some things at my parents' because I was only doing my official move-in later in the week, as I work from home so often and we didn't get internet up and running until this Monday.

By Sunday evening my room mate Kami and I were both settled in and both stayed the night in the new place. Both of my sets of parents helped me build my bed (thank you guys!) and so while I was surrounded by boxes, I had an idyllic comfy spot to land in after a long day. My coworker gave me the advice that you start with the bed, for exactly that reason. Even if you're not done unpacking, exhausted from moving, overwhelmed by it all, you can lay down and feel at peace.

Kami said it best when I asked her "How is this all feeling for you so far?". She responded with "It's a little anti-climactic, but in the best way. It just feels right." I can't agree more. Kami has been my best friend since middle school and we've lived in different cities on and off for 6 or 7 years. It's such a fantastic feeling to be living together in the same wonderful city now. We're going to have a lot of fun (and she puts up with my weirdness, so that's always a big ol' bonus... as seen above!).

Our new place is right across the street from the city's big big cemetery. This may sound creepy, but if you hail from Toronto you know it's a beautiful and peaceful spot where people walk, ride bikes, and enjoy some nature in the middle of the busy metropolitan city space. Right now, Toronto has been taken over by blooming blossoms on our trees - one of our parks is famous for it. We got to enjoy a couple on a walk home from dinner through the cemetery the other day. So, so lovely. Especially living in a basement apartment now, it's great to have nature so close by.

And here's a little peek at my bed room so far. I'll be arranging and changing things around, but for now this is my little quiet corner with my sunshine mirror for some cheerful vibes. Gotta have my sunshines around!

I can't wait to update you all on my decor progress and whatnot over the course of the next several weeks (or forever.... I have a feeling I'll always be having fun with this space!). Stay tuned :)


April 30, 2018

Monday Mood 003

Guys! I move TOMORROW. I'm feeling the whole gamut of emotions about it right now, so instead of focusing TOO much on it, I'm trying to think about other things and get some work done. It's hard to work from home while also trying to pack up everything and then working in a chaotic, half-packed space. So here's a mood board with some pretty things that I love (and just a teenie bit of interior decor inspiration).

I've been listening to Lola Kirke all week and she's maybe my latest musical obsession. Her voice is like honey when it has crystallized just a little but still goes down so smoothly. AH. My favourite of hers is Monster, her latest single, which the still in the middle of this mood board is from. I love her red dress in it, I have a thing for red dresses lately. They're so classic but also such a statement.

And a couple of other credits: Aweng Chuol with the flowers, Jessie Cundiff with the many warm shades on the bottom right, Janice Street with the frost on glass (yes! That's what that is!).

Happy Monday, do YOU have anything big going on this week?

As always - if you know the original source of the other images, please tell me. I should just stop using Pinterest finds for these, which don't always link to the original sources....

April 28, 2018

Journals: Daily Morning Journaling

As I've been preparing for my big move (3 Days left!), I've been sorting through a lot of my old sketchbooks and journals to decide what to keep and what to ditch. Of course, this means going down memory lane and re-reading some of my old journal entries and the many "novels" I'd start as a kid, all with plots suspiciously similar to Harry Potter (but with a female protagonist) or whatever other book I had devoured at the time!

I realized that I used to journal a LOT. And I love being able to re-read through them, especially when I'd capture some good moments (not just the cathartic angsty entries), or when I'd journal some philosophical thoughts and insight I had since forgotten I ever had, or when I'd write little poem bits in the margins. I want to bring that kind of creative and soulful writing back into my life, but it's hard to know what to write about right off the bat, when you're out of practice.

In the past I've tried doing daily journaling to overcome feeling out of practice. I bought an agenda to keep track of which days I wrote what, with just enough room for a quick little journal entry. I also tried gratitude journaling, writing about my shifts at work where interactions are often ones I want to remember.... none of it has really stuck for me.

So when I stumbled upon this list of 31 Morning Journaling Prompts by Marc and Angel, two professional life coaches who blog lots of self help and self development content, I felt a bit skeptical but wanted to give it a try. The prompts are meant to help you self reflect, and begin to think about things differently. I really liked the list and it seemed like a therapeutic practice to get into. The idea of a morning routine also seemed good for me, as I tend to be way more productive in the mornings, especially if I get started right away with my coffee next to me, before I can dawdle or get distracted. I hoped that by starting with some personal writing, I would prime myself for doing my Master's thesis writing, which had been hard to motivate myself to do.

And it WORKED! My routine became really smooth and enjoyable: wake up around 7AM, get a coffee in the kitchen, bring it up to my desk in my room, put some music on and listen through headphones to block out other noise, do one of the 31 Morning Journaling Prompts in my journal for about 10 minutes, then jump into my day of work-at-home! Or, alternatively, get a bit of work-at-home done before heading off to whatever job I was working that day. I found that I could then focus on my school work, or work work, way better than before and I loved the feeling of being in the flow before I even get started!

Morning Journaling has been better than evening journaling for me, because I am often out and about at night, or tired and uninspired. My mornings are when things flow, so it's been good to figure that one out. Also, I decided not to be hard on myself if I miss a morning. I often stay at my fella's place and either forget to bring my journal with me, or would rather drink coffee and do sudoku's with him. So while it is a 'daily' morning routine, I put no pressure on myself to actually do it every morning if something else came up. That said, it became a practice I looked forward to, so it became easier to do it every morning when I'm at home and have work to get to. And of course, because I'm incorrigibly drawn to aesthetics and visuals, I bought myself a date stamp and I just love the way it looks at the top of the page. Especially if I make a mistake with it (it's a finicky little stamp) and have to repeat the stamp. There's just something about the imperfection and texture of it that I LOVE. It's a great addition to the whole routine of it, too.

Do you have a journaling routine? Have you tried any lists of journal prompts that you recommend? I just got to the end of Marc and Angel's, and I'd be curious to try some others!

Let me know in the comments. xx

April 24, 2018

Creative Crush ~ Isamu Noguchi

It all started with a coffee table.

My fella sent me a text with some pictures of a table his dad was getting rid of and offered to me for my new apartment. The table is gorgeous and I immediately knew I wanted it. I also felt that it is so beautifully designed it must be a designer table. I turned to Pinterest with half a mind to find out who designed it, but also just to figure out how other people styled coffee tables with a glass top and wooden base. And behold! Within a 10 second scroll I discovered the exact make (or, at least, the inspiration), and began learning about the incredible Isamu Noguchi.

Isamu Noguchi was born in LA in 1941, on November 17th (hellooo fellow scorpio!) and passed away at the age of 84 in 1988.

Noguchi is my kind of creative: he never limited himself to a single medium or field, he was a modernist/formalist/whateverist who worked with great abstract shapes and subtlety, and he wasn't all about being in the spotlight. He just created prolifically and consistently - from what I can tell. He was inspired by his travels around the world, as well as the first 13 years of his life living in Japan. Noguchi started his schooling in pre-med, and slowly gravitated towards the creative world of sculpture instead.

I love that Noguchi dabbled in sculpture, set design, landscape architecture, art for public spaces, and furniture design! What a great way to apply your skills and creative eye to multiple disciplines and spread it farther than you can just through one medium. This fluidity in mediums really speaks to me - there are some days where I want to do it ALL. I've never been comfortable sticking to just one medium.

There are also some funny Noguchi anecdotes out there. Apparently he was quite reserved and private - though there are stories about a brief affair with Frida Kahlo (which Diego interrupted once, oops!), and that he was intermittently part of the Andy Warhol group in New York in the era of New York cool kid artists. He also designed playgrounds, but none were ever built as far as I can tell. I read that he believed in the power of play which I whole heartedly believe in (another blog post anyone? I keep promising new ones the more I write.... ha!).

So back to the coffee table. The table was distributed through the Herman Miller company along with other modern furniture including another favourite of mine - Charles Eames! It's gorgeous and I am so pumped to have one (or the rip off of one?) in my home-to-be. I'll have to find a way to discover if it's authentic or not. I'll get back to you on that one! But for now I'm excited to have the very cool Noguchi's design around me and to learn more about the artist. Hayden Herrera, who wrote biographies for Frida Kahlo and Arshile Gorky (two more favourites), also wrote a biography for Noguchi and even speaks about it in a lecture you can listen to online. I'd love to read this biography some day! If you want to learn more along with me, here are a few starting points:

- The Noguchi Museum: Biography
- Wikipedia: Isamu Noguchi
- Listening to Stone: Hayden Herrera Lecture
- Look at his work on Pinterest!

Noguchi inspires me in his curvy shapes and forms, his love of play, texture, and craftsmanship. What do you like most about his work?


April 15, 2018

One Purchase a Month: Updates and Failures

My year of thrift in 2015 went really well, so when I declared that this year I'd only purchase one clothing/accessory item a month, I did not know it would be this difficult to control my shopping urges. Turns out, especially with thrifting, when I enter a store and see that ONE item that I'll never find again because it's in a secondhand or vintage shop, I can't resist. That being said, I can echo what Cait Flanders of "The Year of Less" writes about here, in that I have come to a really simple solution: just don't go into stores, and I don't browse online! This seems to work really well for me, though it does change how I spend time with certain people for sure. But, maybe that's not a bad thing ;)

So here's an overview:

January: I went to my favourite Arts Market on my way to the bus stop from one of my jobs, and I fell madly in love with a vintage Kenzo sweater and a hat. I can't remember what else I bought that month but I feel there might have been something more? I think these two items were my "above my limit" purchases. I giggled these purchases aside and told myself (and others) that at least I'd tried for the very first month, and that I'd get better. I was only a little bit wrong on that point....

February: I went to Aruba and a) wanted to buy things to wear that were hot weather appropriate, and b) I got there and realized it was actually cold and windy, and I needed something to keep me warmer. I bought in total two pairs of pants, a hat, a shirt, a jumpsuit, a necklace, and a bathing suit. Yeesh. I failed really badly in February and almost gave up this goal entirely.

March: I did a total 180 and did so well in March! I didn't let February Failures dishearten me, and I instead just didn't go shopping. Period. I did purchase some things as a gift for my fella, but was very proud that I didn't even go into the women's section to browse this time. My one purchase ended up being a pair of handmade earrings from the spring One of a Kind show which I mention in my post of favourite OOAK finds!

April: So far, it looks like my clothing purchase this month will be a sturdy backpack to lug all my things around in, as my good ol' friend had the major zipper break. I'm tempted to fix the zipper, but to have it done well and sturdily might cost me the same as a new backpack... maybe. I haven't decided yet. But I'll be sure to let you know!

There have been some ups and downs, that's for sure! I'm curious to see how I do the rest of the year and with season changes. I'm sure I'll have a few more fluctuating ups and downs, but my plan is to stay strong nonetheless! And with that, I'll leave you with my few key learnings so far:

~ If you don't want to buy things, don't shop, don't browse.
~ If you fail at a monthly, weekly, or daily challenge, don't give up! If you meant it in the first place, it doesn't actually matter if you did it every time. Try try and try again, and be kind to yourself when you do forget or mess up a bit (or a lot!).
~ Bunz trading is a dangerous and wonderful alternative to buying! Never heard of it? I'll make a post about it soon.


April 9, 2018

Monday Mood 002

This week's Monday Mood board is a mix of sleek and semi-minimal, and busy and eclectic. Pretty much sums up the things I like lately! I've always been drawn to both stream-lined simplicity, and hectic collages of things. This gentleman, Isaa Samb's jacket in the middle is a great example of that sort of mixture, and it looks so rad on him.

On the other hand we have Isamu Noguchi's work. Noguchi has been on my radar very much this week, as my fella's dad is giving me a Noguchi-style coffee table for my new place and I am pumped! I didn't know who he was until this, and so I started googling and found out that he is the coolest sculptor, landscape architect, and furniture designer ever. I'll do a highlight of his work in a separate post soon because he's just that wonderful. The top left sculpture and the middle right photo are both Noguchi.

Some links for the photos I was able to find original sources for:

Naomi Bikis ceramics
Calabasas Remodel reveal
Making Sense of Isamu Noguchi
Issa Samb portrait

*note: if you know where any of these other images come from I'd love to link 'em up properly.

Happy Monday folks and cheers to a good week ahead!

April 6, 2018

Handmade finds: OOAK Spring 2018

In Toronto twice a year, we have the One of a Kind Show. It's a huge convention centre filled with booths for Canadian artisans. There's clothing, food stuff, jewellery, home stuff, art work, and so much more! It's the best and I usually go every year.

Though I'm trying really hard not to shop and buy new things lately, I collected business cards of makers whose work  I LOVED. I also maybe did buy just one pair of earrings from raw eco jewellery, a nice metal loop and clay bead on each ;) So I thought that I'd share a few of my favourites with you guys on the blog and spread the love a little.

Heirloom hats had the most beautiful and unique hats and uses the coolest old fashioned techniques to make them!

Raw Eco Jewellery had the coolest most unique jewellery and Dev was the most friendly!

Amanda Moss's colours were maybe entirely what I'd like in my dream wardrobe .

Talia Silva's ceramics were almost impossible to leave behind. I unfortunately have so many mugs already that I can't take on more in my collection right now.


April 5, 2018

Aruba Adventures: The Butterfly Farm

I'm going to get a little bit real here today: traveling with family can be tough. Especially when you stick three adult siblings with very different personalities into one tiny hotel room for the week. There were definitely some sharp pointy words thrown around and lots of built up tension, which is always a little bit disappointing on a beautiful vacation where all you want to do is enjoy! But c'est la vie, right?

That being said, because Aruba is so safe, I was able to wander off and get a little bit of space by walking to the Butterfly Farm all on my lonesome! The reason I bring up the drama at all, is because the Butterfly Farm was the exact healing, calming, and restorative thing I needed. It had a really big impact on me because I needed that and I want to share how magical it felt.

I walked in a bit timidly - I'm still not one of those people who boldly does new things alone, especially in foreign countries. I do so timidly, though, so that's a start! The people working there were so incredibly friendly and cheerful that I felt very at ease around them and better about going alone.

The tour was wonderful and funny, I learned so much about the life cycles and habits of butterflies. Did you know that rainforest butterflies adapted to get their nourishment from fallen fruits, which inevitably are fermented. Ergo, drunk rainforest butterflies, at all times! The tour guide was really kind and we chatted. I think he sensed that I was a bit awkward being there on my own and he helped me get an owl butterfly to eat some orange off of my finger! It was the best.

I also just walked around the relatively small, enclosed butterfly garden and spent time sitting on the benches in quiet corners, green foliage tickling my shoulders and butterflies fluttering around me (and sometimes, the drunk ones, swooping dangerously close to my face!), birds in the distance singing songs and water trickling in the garden's little ponds. It was really peaceful. My only regret is that I went at the end of my trip, because they give you a ticket for re-entry throughout the rest of your trip!

At the end of my visit, the staff chatted with me and helped me pick which souvenir I wanted: a choice between earrings made of butterfly wings enclosed in glass, or a necklace. One asked me why I was all covered up and not working on my tan. I told him I was from Canada and therefore would simply burn. He got really excited and asked if I'd ever been to the Butterfly Conservatory we have in Niagara falls, which I have been to! So we chatted about that and he said it was on his bucket list. They were all very fun people to be around with great spirits and kindness.

I walked back to the resort hugging my little souvenir to my chest, just filled to the brim with hopefulness and renewed peace. Man, is nature ever the healing and magical thing. Nature and sunshine; though I guess the sun falls under the umbrella of nature doesn't it?

ps. it was SO HARD to get good photos of the butterflies! Most of my film ones turned out super blurry, except these two at the end.

March 26, 2018

Monday Mood 01

A lil Monday Mood board today. I've been enjoying collecting images and putting them together into mood boards. I like the way they look, so figured I'd share them here to start the week off!

Hope you all had a lovely weekend xx

March 23, 2018

Aruba Adventures: Horseback riding through Arikok

I finally got the film from my trip to Aruba developed, so I'm ready to share some beautiful memories from a beautiful island.

I had forgotten how beautiful and, as cheesy as it is to say, majestic, horses are. They're such incredible animals and have such force, intuition, and personality. It was a really special experience to witness the beautiful North coast of Aruba with such incredible creatures.

Aruba was a really cool island. It has your typical resort and tourist beaches on the one side, and then protected natural land on the North side. This is partly because the waves that come crashing into the island on the North side are quite gloriously forceful. Of course, it's hard to actually capture one of the big ones on camera since they never seem to happen when you're at the ready to click your shutter ;)

It's also a very dry island - lots of cacti (which I don't actually have a picture of in this post - oops!) and dry shrubbery. I loved the impressive cacti double my size, wonky and weird and perfect.

We stopped at the natural pools, seen behind me here, and normally visitors have a chance to go for a dip in them, but with the winds of that specific day it was too wavy and dangerous. I was ok with that though - going back on horseback in wet clothes is no fun..... yes, that's foreshadowing...

On our way back, we got to the peak of Arikok park, and a windy storm blew in. It became a precarious act of balancing on the horses, who decided they weren't gonna casually stroll while they got bombarded with sideways rain and strong winds and began galloping down the hills, holding onto the reins, holding onto our hats, and getting totally soaked.

It was hectic and a little uncomfortable after, but kind of a cool adrenaline rush and our guide was super great at making sure we were safe and not overly concerned. I highly recommend the Rancho Loco folks if you're ever in Aruba and want to go Horseback riding through Aruba's nature!

Have you been to Aruba before? What was your fav part?

Stay tuned for a few more Aruba posts with photos!

March 15, 2018

Moodboard: New Apartment

I guess the first step of this post is to share that I finally signed a lease for an apartment this week!

The story goes like many others' stories: I moved away from my childhood home a couple of times, mostly for school, and ended up moving back several times. In the first move, I learned to choose my room mates wisely. In the third, I moved to Paris and learned to live alone and far away. In another, I lived with my mum for a while. The last, I lived in Waterloo for school with the most lovely house mate.

Moving back home has been a challenge. My dad and step mum and my brother, all of whom live here too, are lovely and I consider our relationships very close and wonderful. We've grown together and I am cherishing the last little bit of time that we all live under the same roof, especially as my brother leaves for university in the fall (to ENGLAND!). Nonetheless, it is difficult to come back to your childhood and family space when you've had so many tastes of your own routines, your own ways of doing things, your own space, your own little semi-separate life.

Sooooo, the right opportunity finally arose and I am going to be moving in the next month or so with my best friend Kami. I know some of you probably just cringed at the words "moving in with my best friend". I've heard the horror stories but have tons of faith in us and our free and open communication. Plus Kami is maybe the kindest soul I've ever met, so I'm sure we can make it work one way or another with kindness, compassion, generosity, and openness. I'm SO excited!

I can't wait to decorate. Given that I'm moving from home, I have to buy almost all-new furniture. I'm going to do my best to THRIFT as much as I can, or bunz trade or purchase vintage. But either way, this means I can make some choices from scratch, so I'm brainstorming (daydreaming incessantly) already and will likely share some of my pinterest finds here! Hope you don't mind some home decor inspo ;)


February 13, 2018

Valentine's Free Printables + Anti-consumer, Inclusive Love.

I had a conversation with my seniors yesterday about Valentine's day. The conversation veered into the topic of consumerism, of exclusive love, and how sad it can be to be the kid in the class who gets no Valentine's cards or candy grams.

While one gentleman argued that love is inherently preferential, he also suggested some ideas for how to love one another, and spread that love beyond just yourselves as a couple. We added to our list of money-free Valentine's celebration ideas: "involve others in co-giving".

My fella and I were coincidentally in line with that this year. We make something for Valentine's day celebrations each year instead of buying anything or going for fancy dinners. This year specifically, we started making a quilt out of my stash of fabric which we will donate to a shelter or other organization once it is finished! I really wanted to continue our tradition of making things, but I really didn't want to accumulate more stuff for myself either. Plus, spreading the love and "co-giving" is a great Valentine's initiative!

So, this year's free printable Valentines include one more "preferential", and one that could be given out to people we love not-romantically, too! I enjoyed testing out some new photoshop brushes for these - what do you think?

Happy Valentines to singles, couples, and all others in between! I send my love to you all!

February 9, 2018

On Being Serious...

... or not.

When I say the words "instagram aesthetic", can you picture exactly what I mean?

Whether you're an artist sharing your work, a fashionista sharing your styling, a traveler sharing your adventures, a chef sharing your edible creations, or anything else, there's a particular "cool", "collected", and dare I say blasé, thing about instagram.

Lots of wistful stares at cameras and half-open mouths, pursed a little. Maybe looking away from the camera and posing half-candidly in front of a cool wall.

I'm never happy with photos of myself or my surroundings trying to recreate that instagram aesthetic. I love things to look beautiful and nice but I've placed expectations on myself based on other peoples' style and amount of effort they're willing to put into social media posts.

I love social media and I don't want to ditch it - it connects me with people, connects my artwork with people, and can be such a wonderful community. I do however want to start being more myself, stop worrying about being professional (I try to keep my instagram somewhat profesh, so potential clients can engage with it). But it just isn't me!

I am maybe the farthest thing from blasé. Ever.

One of the first things I can remember my now-fella noticing about me, during a night out with friends, was "You are maybe the most animated person I've ever met." (I can still remember skipping down Spadina street at night, around the corner from the Horseshoe Tavern and a night of nice music) This was also maybe the first time someone had said something like that to me and meant it as a positive. I skip and dance and sometimes sing my sentences. I greet my seniors at work by throwing up my arms and exclaiming HELLO with so much gusto that they stop and do the same!

So here's to being me, and fighting against that instagram social hierarchy algorithm blasé cool-girl BS! Who's with me?


January 24, 2018

Get to Know Me, Get to Know You!

Hello everyone!

I realize that, while I share a lot on this blog in respect to my art, others' art, thrifting, sustainability in fashion and life, and more recently some self love/body image content through my Bedhead Project, I haven't really spoken about MYSELF and who I am on a day to day basis in a while.

(There's me, in all my Bedhead -face-morphing-smile glory)

So, I want to offer you guys some little truth nuggets to help you get to know me. And in turn, I hope to get to know some of you more closely as well!

Starting with some fabricated 'FAQ' style questions for myself:

1. What do you do for work?

~ I work primarily with persons with dementia! The place I work at designates themselves as an Academy for persons living with dementia, and I go in and provide arts-based programming a couple of times a week. We have a philosophy that includes relational caring, so I also spend a lot of time hanging out, having dance parties, getting deep, and building relationships with my participants and my coworkers! It's the best ever. I started as a volunteer and ended up staying and working there for 4 years now.

I also work part time as a research assistant through school, also dealing with relational caring, and as a wedding photographer's assistant. From time to time I also do art and design related freelance work.

In short, I do too many things my friends, too many things!

2. What do you do in school?
~ I'm working towards finishing my Master's in Recreation and Leisure Studies. This is a really cool field, I'm discovering, and includes a whole range from tourism, to sports, to parks, to recreation therapy (which is closer to what I do... but I don't call it therapy for many reasons that would require a whole other blog post for). I'm new to the field academically, but my research is on arts based approaches to working with persons with dementia, so with that I am in my element.

My research deals in friendship in dementia care: not something we normally think about as a possibility, but with a critical lens my feeling is: Why the heck not? I'll be working directly with persons with dementia and care partners to find out what they think/feel/know about that.

3. What do you do for fun?
~ I paint, I draw, I collage, I knit, I weave, I take photos, I obsess over fashion, I go to concerts with friends, I cook, I eat good food with friends and family, I go to the art gallery, I dance (alone in my kitchen, though), I watch crappy crime dramas, I goof off with my fella, I read blogs, I blog!

(An example of my for-fun art making)

4. Where are you from?
~ I'm from Toronto, in Canada. I've lived elsewhere (Paris, France, & Waterloo, Canada) but always circle back here. I love my city, and while I love exploring, I'd have a hard time leaving permanently. My background is Belgian, Danish (hence my last name!), and Canadian.

Woo! So, that's a start anyway. I feel as though that covers some of the basics anyhow.

Now it's your turn! I want to know the same about you, if you'd like to share your answers to the same four questions, please do so in the comments. I'd love to learn more, make my blogging more personal/about relationship building between creatives (since that's the fun part of the online world anyway), and get to know YOU!


January 18, 2018

My One Clothing Purchase a Month MAX

There are many reasons for my desire to buy less.

Sustainability, saving money, spending more wisely, consuming less, having less "stuff" to deal with, focusing my energy on something other than shopping, trying not to take part in an overly capitalist/consumerist system, etc.

We all know that if I even need to write about this, it's because I have a tendency to shop. I love clothes, I love beautiful fashion. I also actually love the act of shopping! I could spend hours in thrift stores and fill a whole afternoon with looking through piles of clothes and accessories; treasure hunting.

So, instead of buying not-at-all, I've warmed to the idea of only buying one item a month. This allows me to purchase beautiful things, but only if I really truly want or need them. If I choose to make an item my "one" for the month, I had better choose wisely. This also helps me avoid emotional shopping, which is something I've noticed I do a lot when I'm stressed.

So, 12 items in a year, that's not bad. Typing it out though that even seems like a lot. For this reason I'm calling the one item a month my 'maximum' and really more of a less-harsh rule with a bit of wiggle room, instead of going cold turkey.

This month, I already bought a new bathing suit for my trip to Aruba, and even though I'm craving a new pair of nice sandals, a beach bag, light summery clothes, etc. I am actively reminding myself to not even bother shopping or going onto etsy "just to look". By the time February rolls around, I won't be able to order anything online without risking it not arriving in time for my trip, so I'll likely not buy anything else for it. Which is GOOD!

Hopefully in so doing I will have more time to write my research proposal (still in the works, still taking forever), read books, work on my art, etc. Less shopping, more fulfilling activities!

Are you taking on any challenges for 2018? Tell me about it in the comments!

January 15, 2018

Window Shopping: A Warm Vacation

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

I have a confession: I've not been living in the moment in the present much lately. I've been daydreaming non stop about a family vacation we just booked to Aruba! It's several weeks away but I. Can't. Stop. Thinking. About. It.

Tonight it is snowing steadily and romantically, but I'm having a hard time feeling the magic and charm of Toronto's millionth winter wonderland appearance. The weather has me feeling some real S.A.D. feelings. Also, last week was a hard week, if you follow me on instagram you'll know that someone I was very close to at work, one of my friends with dementia, passed away. This is an inherent part of my work with persons with dementia, and it is always sad, but this particular one has hit me hard. I'm fine, and happy to have known her and spent so much wonderful time with her. But I've definitely been enjoying a bit of escapism by envisioning the trip to Aruba.

Of course, part of that day dream is all the fabulous beach and summer wear I'll be able to adorn myself with! Ahh, how I miss light fabrics and the freedom from layers. I miss feeling the breeze on my skin and actually enjoying it. I miss the warm sun. This window shopping outfit features two of my favourite online shops as of late: Hackwith Design House and Boheme Goods, handmade and vintage goodies respectively. I can't get enough of their pieces and finds.

Lately I've been really into beige and off-white. Something cloudy and dreamy about it, so even though I'm headed somewhere tropical I'm imagining lots of warm, light, breezy, airy tones. With a punch of orange/red, though! As with the little de tails on this adorable straw market bag. I've already bought myself a new bathing suit and I'm trying to limit myself to that one purchase for the month (an amendment on my year of thrift routine), so for now, just day dreaming and window shopping.

Have any of you been to Aruba? Any recommendations for things to see/do?

January 8, 2018

Sunsetrise - a Poem

Inspired by Fee of Burnt Feather, I'm trying to be brave and share my poetry, even though it is not the art form I am usually comfortable with sharing. Any other poetry enthusiasts/dabblers out there? I've been writing since I was a little girl, and actually first made a blog for the sole purpose of sharing my poetry. I only shared it with my friends, but it was very special to me. After several writing workshops taken for fun and with friends, I'm rediscovering that joy and I want to share some of my word-doodles here.

In mellow golden tones…
Sunsetrise, the cusp of days and nights.
Tender expectation (or disappointment)
In the letting go (anticipation) of a day.
What was and will summed up in succulent tones;
Ruby red in ochre;
Fruity pink in lemonade.
The sky is hot (and tasty).
I want to bite into
The gradated ribbon separating night and day
Across the sky.
Taste today and tomorrow so I can know.
But there is no dessert like the (knowledge) you can’t have.

Temptation and delight,
In the overflowing moments between day and night.
And when clouds roll past in contrasting blues;
Navy and cerulean,
Robin’s egg and forget-me-nots.
Flowers of the sky,
Cousins of the stars.
They all know our dreams;
The ones we whisper out with every exhale
And wish with every intake of air.
The turn of the day, the turn of the night;
The truth in these moments in the sky are ours
But not to have.
Forever out there in the cycle of fluctuating gold and blue.

Let me know what you think, and if you're interested in more!