Christmas crafting fun :D

Some of the gifts I made for Christmas :)

This was from a pattern by the Knit Cafe, I got it while participating in the annual TTC Knitalong. I don’t usually knit with such fine yarn, so it took me quite a long time, but the result is well worth the effort!

Photo 2015-11-30, 9 51 38 PM

Photo 2015-11-30, 9 55 47 PM

I like the contrast between the solid garter stitch and the lacy mesh stitch when it’s all wrapped around. Might make another one sometimes, with a different colour combination :)

Here’s a much quicker project I made for Mike, using Bernat Blanket. It’s quite a soft but sturdy yarn with very little stretch, I thought it’d be perfect for slippers. The pattern is from Rainbows and Sunshine. Fits him perfectly! :D

DSC_1360

This bonnet was finger knitted on the plane, on our way back from the east coast, with a skein of beautiful Sirdar Kiko. It’s a baby shower gift I made it for a friend who used to work as a flight attendant on the airline we flew with :)

Photo 2015-11-29, 12 32 30 PM

This is one of the stones from Mike’s grandpa’s collection, which I wrapped with wire and made into pendants. Mike’s grandpa passed away a few years ago. He was quite a semi-precious stone and fossil enthusiast when he was young!

Photo 2015-12-15, 10 31 32 AM

I’m not educated in stone identification at all, so if anyone knows what this stone is, please feel free to drop me a note! I made a total of 13 pendants for aunts and cousins, but I was too excited about wrapping them up and writing notes to go along with them, I neglected to take pictures of the finished necklaces. I followed this handy tutorial for the wire-wrapping.

While visiting Mike’s parents we looked through more of grandpa’s rock collection, including this piece of petrified wood, with transparent inclusions! How cool is that?

Photo 2015-12-27, 2 39 43 PM

Look at the light shining through. Maybe it can be made into a sun catcher.

Photo 2015-12-27, 2 31 24 PM

And here’s my young nephew wearing his present :D

Photo 2015-12-26, 11 14 02 AM

I followed the owl hat pattern by Kat Goldin. Also made these owl mitts from Down Cloverlaine for my other young nephew, this pineapple bag for my niece, a couple of knit neckwarmers/cowls that I made up with bulky weight yarn, this casserole carrier from Moogly for my mother-in-law, and a couple more projects that I can’t show you just yet because the recipients haven’t opened them :)

After making gifts I thought I’d spend the holidays making something for myself. I recently started on this sweater from the current issue of Interweave Crochet. Here I am drinking tea, eating Kinder eggs, and watching family play scrabble while I crochet — holiday at its finest :D

Photo 2015-12-27, 4 34 21 PM

We’ve also got some very unusual weather in our corner of the world this Christmas. It’s not unusual to not have snow, but it was warm enough to find these turkey tails (I think that’s what they are) in the backyard!

Photo 2015-12-26, 1 40 28 PM

Happy about the fungi sighting, at the same time a bit uneasy about the double-digit temperature :S

Then on the weekend it was very windy, with water splashing onto the lakeside road. Reminds me of the roaring sea in the east coast! I don’t think I’ve ever seen the lake with waves like that, but then I don’t see the lake very much from where I live.

Photo 2015-12-27, 12 08 13 PM

But all in all we had a fun time away from the city visiting family. And I’m grateful to have one more week of holidays until the new year, which means more time to write about crafting fun here on the blog! :D

Wishing you a wonderful week!

 

buttermilk mary

Trip to the sea continues! :D

IMG_4332

We were so fortunate! We were told by the locals that the leaves in Cape Breton were 2 weeks behind their regular schedule this year, so we got to drive through the mountains when they were the most vibrant! <3

Like many people who visit Cape Breton Island, we drove around the Cabot Trail, which is the upper part of the island, as shown in this map here.

We stayed at the Auld Farm Inn in Baddeck, I think the largest village on the Cabot Trail. (We highly recommend the B&B, the rates are very reasonable, and the hosts are so very friendly and thoughtful. I loved that they took the time to explain the history of the farm house and referred to themselves as custodians rather than owners of the property. AND they use old keys for the rooms!)

IMG_4329

We aimed for an early start in the morning, as fellow inn guests let us know that they took 6 hours to complete the trail the day before. It was a sunny and crisp fall morning when we set out on our road trip around the trail :)

If I remember correctly, we spotted this church near St. Anne’s Bay, not far from Baddeck.

36050035

Then we stopped at the look-out point at Lakie’s Head, with its rugged coastline of pink rocks.

36050026

We stopped here for the washroom I think. And I really like the building against the bright blue sky, and the name of the place. So honest.

36050034

This is also where we found an album named “Buttermilk Mary”. I thought Buttermilk Mary was the artist or the band, and I thought that’s a great stage name (or blog post title, or name for a cat, haha). It wasn’t until after we came back and Googled it that we realized Buttermilk Mary is a set of jigs by the Baroque N’ Fiddle String Quartet, and we totally regretted not buying the album at the general store! We ended up buying it on iTunes :P It’s really lovely, you can watch it played here.

Can’t remember the last time we navigated by paper rather than GPS or Google Maps. This map was given to us by a friendly staff when we got to the Highlands National Park office. We were asking for directions to waterfalls on the trail. She marked her favourite spot on the trail with a heart :)

IMG_4342

White Point Beach was her favourite spot and she highly recommended it. Just a bit north of Neil’s Harbour, which is a very picturesque fishing community.

36050022

This lighthouse doubles as an ice cream parlour in warmer months!

36050021

Obviously October is not one of the warmer months in the east coast. It actually got really windy when we got to White Point.

IMG_4345

And we snapped a few more photos…

IMG_4347

But we never made the trek to the White Point Beach, because it was just too cold and windy. So we got back into our warm rental car and continued on the trail.

There were many look-out points along the way. Pictures really can’t capture fully the vastness of land and the majestic mountains. Can you see the river weaving between the mountains?

IMG_4362

We started following one of the shorter trail to find the Black Brook Falls, but then Mike spotted the Coyote warning sign and told me about it. I started to panic, remembering stories from our east coast friends about how east coast coyotes hunt like wolves, in packs. So I convinced Mike to turn back. But we did venture into the woods for a few minutes. I love how moss seems to cover everything in these woods.

IMG_4354

And we came across a river. Mike took a brilliant photo of it, which I don’t think he minds me showing it off :D

12187986_10156226408085228_4375532701555381345_o

I also took far too many of these behind-the-dashboard pictures with Mike’s DSLR while he was driving. The view is different behind every bend! And as you can see, the weather was also different minute by minute. It was now hailing. But look at the sea!!

12186785_10156226410415228_4411821386201275189_o

One of the last look-out points we stopped at was the most exhilarating. I believe this is at or near Margaree. The gusty wind, the sea mist, the salt in the air, the roaring sea — it simply commands us to be fully present in that moment of being there. I usually have a huge fear of deep water and height (because I can’t swim). But in that moment, looking down into the sea and the jagged rocks from a cliff, I felt strangely safe, like I’ve found my place in all the created beings and things. Like I belong. The experience of that moment was one of the best gifts that I brought back with me.

IMG_4366

After going around the trail we explored village of Baddeck the next day. Aside from Baddeck Yarns (see previous post :D), we visited the Alexander Graham Bell Historic Site and museum. I never knew that the inventor lived in Cape Breton! (he and his wife are also buried in Baddeck) And that aside from inventing the telephone, he also contributed to many innovations in aviation and shipbuilding. The tetrahedron was a structure that he frequently incorporated into his inventions, from kites to towers to aircrafts, because of its strength. This is a tetrahedron shelter that he would have stayed in to observe flying experiments.

12195093_10156226412880228_6701276815009916783_o

Alexander Graham Bell fell in love with this view and stayed. I wish we could stay too.

36050009

Doing a bit of beach-combing here before heading to Sydney.

36050005

And here we are in Sydney, capital of Cape Breton, home of the big fiddle and beautiful purple rocks!

IMG_4387

Here we spent the day visiting a couple of historic house museums. At Jost House the upper floor displayed an apothecary exhibit and a marine exhibit. The house was occupied by families of merchants from the 1700s until the 70s.

Apothecary

Then we visited the Cossit House, which is believed to be the oldest house in Sydney, built in 1787. It was the home of a minister, who lived there with his wife and 13 children. It has a lovely back garden maintained by the museum docents, with handwritten signs explaining the names and uses of the herbs in all the garden boxes. It really was a cozy place. But when I took the picture with Diana Mini it turned out sort of dark, and then it has this glow at the doorway, which makes it look like those pictures of haunted places… or a house with a glowing heart…?

36050003

Not sure where the glow comes from, it is also in a picture at the Joggins cliffs (picture of my feet), so I’m sure it has to do with the developing process or some kind of lens flare, and not the house itself :P

We then drove back to Halifax to catch our flight home, trying to squeeze in a few more strolls in the lovely city before we had to leave.

Argyle Street, naturally.

IMG_4455

If you ever find yourself visiting Halifax, and you’re looking for souvenirs that are not in the shape of a lobster or lighthouse, be sure to visit the World Tea House and Biscuit General Store on Argyle St.!

Also, if you like East Asian food, I highly recommend the Beaver Sailor Diner up the street from the harbour! I think it’s pretty new, the staff was really friendly, the noodles are handmade, the prices reasonable, and the logo is cute! (I think they should make buttons/pins of the logo.)

IMG_4436

Another great place where we found awesome souvenirs was the farmers’ markets. We visited the Seaport Farmers’ Market for breakfast one day at one of the bakers’ stalls, and bought quite a few bags of seaweed products from Mermaid Fare :D (the owner is very knowledgeable about the seaweed and how to cook them!) Here’s Mike’s picture of a friendly fish monger. We didn’t bring back any fish though.

12191116_10156226390475228_3406406335586526008_o

And then we ventured into the Historic Farmers’ Market in the Alexander Keith’s Brewery building (still haven’t done the brewery tour, must do that one day!). We find that it’s a smaller (but equally vibrant) market with more local residents visiting, whereas the Seaport Market can be very crowded when there’s a cruise ship docking at the harbour :S At both markets there are produce, spices, soaps, coffee stalls, bakeries, crafts, artwork, and everyone is happy to explain their products even if we weren’t buying anything.

IMG_4441

This is from one of our early morning strolls at the Old Burying Ground in Halifax. I like how the gentle sunlight of early morning is filtered through the trees and illuminating the old graves. It was founded in 1749, and closed in 1844. We spent some time there marveling at the old lettering and cravings on the headstones.

IMG_4196

And finally, part of why we were in the east coast in the first place was because I was presenting a paper at an art therapy conference in Halifax. That happened before we went on the road trip to Cape Breton. And this was me, basically reading out my script because I so dread public speaking. But I hope whatever it was that the participants took from what I shared would make a difference one day, no matter how small, how indirect.

12186283_10156229059235228_3046187235751870491_o

And that was my journey! I have a feeling that I will journey back one day. Just feel strangely at home in the east coast. Until then, I will miss the warm hospitality and the sea.

I hope you enjoy the photos and stories and travel tips! Thank you for journeying with me! :D

 

trip of the dreams!

IMG_4280

I’ve been looking forward to visiting the Joggins Fossil Cliffs for months. I had so wanted to become a paleontologist when I was a child, so going to a fossil site was a trip of the dreams! I studied tide time charts and planned our drive so we would arrive at low tide; I looked at other travellers’ photos and comments; I checked and re-checked weather forecast and prayed for rain to hold off on the day we planned to visit…

– and suddenly we were here!

The cliffs are situated along the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world. It holds rocks and fossils from the “Coal Age”, about 300 million years ago.

This, where I was standing, is the OCEAN FLOOR (could hardly contain my excitement!!) and will be submerged in up to 13 metres of water in a matter of hours.

36040011

(as you might notice, some pictures were taken with film with the Diana, and some where taken on my phone).

We joined a walking tour, in which the friendly tour guide pointed out different fossils that could be found at the cliffs. Like this fossil of a tree trunk.

IMG_4267

These were trackways of Arty the arthropleura — a giant insect about 1–8 feet long. The tour guide showed a scaled down replica of Arty.

IMG_4270

Fossil of a trilobite.

IMG_4278

Fossil of tree roots.

IMG_4273

Look at the beautiful layers of rocks on the cliffs!

36040010

IMG_4271

The tides coming in…

36040007

It was majestic.

12142206_1067811469919034_1766796886_n

We were hoping to visit the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro afterwards, but we spent a bit too much time at the cliffs, and by the time we got to Parrsboro the museum was closed. So instead we spent some time at the wharf looking at the sunset sparkles on the water.

36040002

More on Nova Scotia tomorrow! :D

Hope everyone is having a good start to the week!

 

last days of summer

30180034

Finally developed the roll of film in my Diana from summer. These are some of my favourites. I really like the angle of this one of the echinacea.

Strolled past an artificial beach by the waterfront. It’s really quite nice with the permanent beach umbrella. Just kind of disappointed that I haven’t been able to make it to a real beach this summer…

30180015

Double exposure of children playing on the WaveDecks.

30180017

And a double exposure of me and the lake :D

30180022

 

I thought I got some nice pictures on film this summer :) Looking forward to capturing fall colours!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

 

end of summer in black & white

Not that I feel particularly sad about the end of summer. I’ve had lots of fun this summer, but I’m sure there will be good times in the fall and winter too. There’s just something timeless about black and white photographs, capturing those everyday moments that are cherished.

gooderham

We visit the Distillery District at least once every summer. Took this picture while marveling at the gas lamps lit up at dusk.

indie ale

We got to enjoy some craft beer and lengthy conversations at the Indie Ale House with our good friends, whose children were camping out at their grandparents’ for the week. I think this was the first time we got to do this in 10 years :P I’m by no means a connoisseur of beer, I mostly order based on the names of the beer (I’m a sucker for interesting/pretty product names, I think I’ve mentioned this before…). So here I was having a “Rabbit of Caerbannog”, which I later found out was “an immensely cute but bloodthirsty rabbit-like monster found in Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” according to Villians Wikia.

epic shark

A majestic shark at the aquarium. I’m quite proud of this one.

knit knit knit

Not that the summer would stop me from crocheting or knitting, but I’m excited about making cozier things when the weather is cooler, and my holiday crafting list, the plushy scarves and mittens I’m going to make new wool, and this! I’m experimenting with making a pattern and can’t wait to find out whether it will work out, and I will surely share with you if it does!

And last but not least, I present to you — jellyfish magic at the aquarium.

The jellyfish were lit up with kind of a strange pink light (I guess otherwise they’d be difficult to see since they’re translucent), which my phone camera couldn’t capture very well, so I figure I’d just put a black and white filter on it in Instagram. I think it kind of creates a feeling of being in the deep, dark sea. And it’s just so elegant the way jellyfish move in water.

Cheers to a fabulous summer, and many more summers to come!

 

 

in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius

It’s become a bit of a summer tradition now, my sister and I going to the ROM :)

This year the feature exhibit is Pompeii. I loved learning about Pompeii when I was a kid! :D (and had dreams about becoming an archaeologist or a paleontologist, and once in a while I wonder about what my life would be like now if I had followed my dreams… anyway, I digress)

Usually when I hear about Pompeii the images of the body casts come to mind. And there were casts of the body casts in the exhibit too. But I found myself more attracted to marvelous mosaics, made of tiny, probably 1mm x 1mm pieces of clay. I’m quite surprised by how well these were preserved, despite the fire and the heat of the volcano eruption.

Photo 2015-08-03, 11 55 57 AM

I imagine the artisan’s hand, placing these clay chips one by one carefully onto wet grout, tracing the lines on the face, the subtle tonal variations of the skin.

And this is my favourite in the exhibit, the spectacular sea life mosaic.

Photo 2015-08-03, 12 09 10 PM

The phone photo really doesn’t do it justice. It is quite large in person. Looks like the octopus is battling a lobster-like creature. Here’s a close up of the octopus, made of many tiny tiles.

Photo 2015-08-03, 12 07 35 PM

This must have taken a long, long time to make. I imagine the artisan(s) taking a step back after the last tile was put into place, and feeling incredible joy and satisfaction when they saw what they have created.

I was also surprised by the survival of the many frescoes, like this one, of seafood.

Photo 2015-08-03, 12 11 44 PM

Intrigued by the sculpture’s very intricate hairstyle.

Photo 2015-08-03, 12 16 37 PM

 

 

Figs and bread carbonized in the eruption.

Photo 2015-08-03, 12 10 34 PM

Photo 2015-08-03, 11 54 19 AM

There was also a video projection showing the eruption, with this wide-eyed statue in front of it. Looked to me like it was frozen in terror.

Photo 2015-08-03, 12 26 26 PM

 

Mike went on this trip with my sister and me, and he hadn’t been to other parts of the museum for a while, so we also toured the dinosaur galleries and the biodiversity gallery. There was an exhibit of the new dinosaur discovery! And! This is a 3‑D printed model!

Photo 2015-08-03, 1 33 00 PM

Wendiceratops pinhornensis, named after the Canadian fossil hunter, Wendy Sloboda, who discovered it in Alberta, Canada :)

In the biodiversity gallery I was hoping to find a display of fungi. I’ve been to this part of the museum many times, but I thought maybe I’ve always missed it. Finally I found it, replicas in the Boreal Forest section, I think, as well as a drawer of dried mushrooms that were difficult to tell what they actually looked like before they were picked. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a larger display of more species of fungi and mushrooms, but this is still nice :)

Photo 2015-08-03, 2 17 52 PM

So that was the end of our adventure to the ROM. I hope you will get a chance to visit if you’re ever in the neighbourhood! :D I’m looking forward to finding out what next summer’s feature exhibition will be! Maybe it will be on the diversity of mushrooms and fungi! :D One can always dream… (I once saw a course at a local university titled “Mushrooms: Lords of the Dark Earth”. I so wanted to take the course but it wasn’t being offered anymore… anyway.)

Hope everyone is having a good week!

 

 

leucocoprinus birnbaumii

That is the very uncommon name of a very common yellow houseplant mushroom :D

According to Wiki, it is also called “flowerpot parasol” or “plantpot dapperling”. Very pretty names. One started growing in our spider plant!

11356728_445742315634070_829818577_n

When we first spotted it it was very tiny, maybe quarter of an inch tall.

Then a few days later we noticed the cap completely open. It was still tiny, about half an inch tall.

11363917_1585790938351656_989640558_n

This is a better picture from Mike.

11782512_10155878672605228_2763073460217227119_o

We took these pictures at night. The next morning we found the mushroom already wilted :(

Have you had these mushrooms in your plants? According to this helpful site, it does not hurt the houseplants, and it’s not harmful they’re eaten. So maybe not so great when there are young children and pets.

Which reminds me, maybe some mushrooms are out already in the park. I should go out for walks sometimes and start looking :D

Hope you have a happy Sunday and a good week!

 

lately

I recently received a lovely email from a friendly staff person at Warby Parker inviting me to write a post about my summer moments and to pick some of their sunglasses to go with them, for their #seesummerbetter campaign. While I’m not receiving any material or monetary compensation for writing this post, except perhaps friendly shout-outs from the Warby blog, I’m still feeling rather flattered that there is interest in this blog, especially since Mike just got a pair of glasses from them and he quite liked them, and had been telling me good things about the company, including friendly and approachable customer service :) Another thing that attracted Mike to shop from them is their Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program, which doesn’t only create access to affordable glasses, but also opportunities for skill-building and employment.

So I was happy about writing this post. But there is one problem: I don’t usually wear sunglasses. It’s kind of a foreign topic to me and I don’t really know what to write about.

Not that I don’t like wearing sunglasses. I think they’re very important for eye health. I’m just rather utilitarian about it (among many other things). I used to own a pair of sunglasses that I bought from the drug store, they go over my regular glasses (as in wearing two pairs of glasses at the same time). But then I got new glasses that are a lot wider than my old pair and the sunglasses can’t fit over them. And I never bothered to get a pair of prescription sunglasses. So I haven’t been wearing sunglasses for a few years now. Probably not good for my eyes, especially in the summer. The invitation to write this post might actually be a good reminder that I need to get myself a pair of prescription sunglasses soon… and maybe I’ll think a bit more about style rather just utilitarian this time (sunglasses that go over regular glasses aren’t the most stylish ever :S).

So I sort of interpreted the invitation to write this post as: if you were to buy a pair of sunglasses from our shop, which ones would you consider?

It’s always fun to window shop :)

11411984_10155830599505581_7372180122006906792_o

Last week I got my hair cut and coloured :D I’m quite happy with the vibrant but not too bright colour showing from underneath. I have an affinity for grey glasses, so I think the new hair would look great with these :D And with a beautiful name like Luna Fade it’s hard to not like them.

 

Have I ever shared pictures of the curtains I finally sewed and put up? It’s only taken me 8 months! :S For the longest time we had disposable plastic table cloths taped to the window… but now we have these sea glass coloured curtains! :D And look at the glorious blazing summer sunset shining through.

11731742_10155831379055581_7871834411522259041_o

 

I like sea glass… or is it seafoam? Anyway, I like these, because they’re sea glass coloured… and they are indeed named Beach Glass! :D

 

And today we had the perfect summer evening — sandals, cotton-candy-colour pants, trip to the library at 8pm in daylight!

Photo 2015-07-23, 8 24 27 PM

Today’s awesome finds for summer reading/viewing — Muppets Most Wanted, Amigurumi at Home, and Life After Life :)

And what goes well with cotton-candy-coloured pants?

I love these… and they’re beautifully named Moonstone! (As you may notice I’m a sucker for nice product names.)

Thanks for window shopping with me! :D Hope everyone has a fun and sun-filled weekend!

 

 

lately

Made a necklace for the shop this week. Probably the most elaborate jewelry piece I’ve made so far. Quite proud of it :D

Photo 2015-07-05, 4 43 38 PM

The feather was made with shrink plastic. I might make more of these, maybe with different colour chevron stripes!

And then I made this.

Photo 2015-07-06, 6 47 12 PM

The stones were gifts from a friend so this is definitely not going to the shop. But this was the first time I tried making this style of necklace and I think it worked out well, so I might make more of this too if I can find similar drilled stone chips (not sure if that’s what they’re called :S).

Also want to mention that last weekend we went to a new retro malt shop downtown! :D

Photo 2015-07-04, 2 59 40 PM

Bean and Baker! We had a vanilla malt shake, which was dreamy. They also have pies of both sweet and savory varieties, and handcrafted sodas!

Photo 2015-07-04, 2 55 30 PM

I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the neighbourhood!

This is not lately, we went there back in May, but haven’t had a chance to post these photos.

Photo 2015-05-23, 6 50 49 PM

During Doors Open Toronto we went to the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on the Toronto Islands, which is the oldest lighthouse of the Great Lakes! (Also supposedly haunted :S) I followed the Roundograph tutorial by Photojojo to mimic photos taken by the Kodak No. 1 in the 1890s.

Here’s one with a different filter, which I also like very much.

Photo 2015-05-23, 6 59 19 PM

I also took the Diana to the lighthouse. Here is the ladder leading to the top of the lighthouse. It’s my favourite picture of the batch.

07070030

And we reached the light of the lighthouse! :D

07070031

Me at the foot of the lighthouse.

07070034

And on the ferry between the island and the city.

07070026

 

Happy Friday everyone! :D

weekend wonders

Thrifting at a Value Village while visiting Mike’s hometown several hours away from Toronto. Found these! :D

Photo 2015-06-13, 5 41 03 PM

This is a brooch, looks like it’s enamel.

Photo 2015-06-13, 5 43 26 PM

There’s something hilarious about the way he looks, I just had to take him home. Looks like a road runner, but it might well be a dinosaur — given that apparently most dinosaurs were feathered! (according to this article)

Then I did some apartment gardening at home, and repotted the succulent we brought home from our trip to Montreal.

Photo 2015-06-14, 12 11 22 PM

I followed this tutorial to make the dinosaur planter. The dinosaur toy was already a pretty bright pink, which I liked, so I didn’t spray paint it. It didn’t have much room for the roots, so I hope the succulent does well in there.

I covered the top with the seashells I got for the asparagus fern to help stabilize the plant.

Photo 2015-06-14, 12 14 11 PM

Will be back with the second part of the tiny sushi series! Stay tuned :) Hope everyone had a good weekend, wishing you a good start to the week!