An Encaustic Encounter

Yesterday was cold and everyone in our house was sick.  I had agreed to attend an all-day encaustic painting workshop but I was thinking seriously about not going.  I was tired, had a wicked cough, and almost no voice.  However, I had committed to going and I knew there weren't that many in the class so I got my butt in gear and made my way to the Distillery district where Joya Paul has her studio. 

I am SO HAPPY that I did not bail on this!  Joya is so much fun and a great teacher, and the two other gals in the class were hilarious.  And I discovered that encaustic painting (painting with wax) is THE BOMB.  It just has so many possibilities - there are so many ways of working the wax, so many potential applications... 

I went armed with some printouts of my photos and the intent to do a piece of the boys.  The photo above is actually a composite photo that required some work in Photoshop - I had one photo with Will in focus and the other with Cam in focus and had to put them together.  Joya helped me glue it to a board and then I mixed some colours and did some layers trying to blend in the edges of the photo.  I am pretty pleased with it (although part of me finds art like this a little cheesy...sorry...).

But from my first practice piece in the morning I was hooked.  HOOKED.  The others went for a coffee break and I kept on going.  They went for lunch and I kept on going.*  I tried all kinds of things, from etching, to drips, to collage, to building up layers, scraping the wax away... I did abstracts, textures, representational things... I blew a fuse using the heat gun.  I was in the ZONE people.  

The stuff I brought home is not going to be hung in any galleries any time soon, but the experience of giving in to every creative impulse from 10 am to 4 pm was such a joy.  It solidified what I have come to realize are essential truths for me:  I love MAKING stuff, and I love working with creative, inspiring people.  Whatever I end up doing next, I have to make sure that it includes these two elements.
Practice piece 

Practice 2 - Blossoms
High Park Blossoms
White on White
Beneath the Surface
thoughts reel

I think you should all call Joya immediately and book a workshop.  Bring your friends.  You can thank me later.  In fact, I may see you there - this encaustic stuff is addictive!

*Not long after they left for lunch, Joya came running back to get me - President's Choice was filming a commercial and there was a free BBQ with any kind of burger, all kind of fixings, salads, chips, dips, drinks, ice-cream - you name it!  Galen Weston was walking around chatting to people and handing out food.  It was delicious - the ice-cream sandwiches made with the cookies are unreal. I ate enough lunch for 6 people.  :)

Emedemarta Love on Etsy

Photography and Jewellery collide at Emedemarta.  I love her simple geometric pieces - I love her soft blossom-coloured photos.  I love brass, wood, and triangles.  Like her profile says, it's all about love.

PS. Don't forget to enter the Intertwyned Giveaway!

Modern Home in 17th Century Spanish Mill

I find it impossible not to gasp when I look at these photos - or sigh longingly.  Architect (and owner) Durval Dias has created a sleek and stylish home in a 17th-century olive mill in the Balearic Islands of Spain.  I love how he chose which elements of the building to highlight - framing them with the smooth white walls like artwork.  Then there is the light... the light!  Putting huge modern windows into the arches, installing the polished concrete floors, and painting out the ceiling beams white let that lovely natural light pour in and bounce around.  And the Hans Wegner chairs covered in cow hide?  Words are not adequate...
From Casa Vogue.

PS. Only 3 days left to enter the Intertwyned Giveaway!

Photography of Ann He

The light in fashion photographer Ann He's photographs is just beautiful.  She manages to give her images an intensely warm glow, and the poses and imagination in them is crazy good.  The kicker?  She's 17-years old - and is obviously someone of great talent and depth.  Her blog posts are equally interesting - they even caught the attention of Huffington Post, where she now has her own column.  Mind officially blown.
Found via The Veda House.

PS. Don't forget to leave your entry in the Intertwyned giveaway!

Turquoise Pedicure

This is what happens when you spend too much time on Pinterest and have too many bottles of nail polish.  I kind of love them. (Hence me posting my ugly feet on my blog.)

PS. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a gorgeous photography print.  Deadline is this Sunday!

Giveaway from Intertwyned Photography!!

I loved taking that Souvenir Foto School course that did in February, I learned so much from the instructors, and also from fellow students.  Jamie is one of those fellow students that blew me away from her very first photo.  I will admit I spent a lot of time in Photoshop trying to emulate her gorgeous, soft, creamy shots.  I learned a lot about Photoshop in the process, but could never come close to the end results that Jamie got.  I was thrilled when she opened an etsy shop, and now am honoured that is offering one of her photographs to one of my readers!
I would love this tree one blown up - I could stare into those leaves all day.  I should probably just get this to replace that old tree our back!

To enter the giveaway, please visit Jamie's Etsy shop HERE, then come back and leave a comment with the photo you would choose if you won.  Yup, winner gets to choose the print, up to 8 x 10 in size!
For extra entries, you have lots of options, just leave a comment for each one you complete:

  • Follow my blog over there on the right!  I love seeing new faces over there. :)
  • Follow Jamie's sweet blog - her friend's baby bump photos on there now are the cutest I have seen.
  • Like Jamie on Facebook (, and for another entry,
  • Tweet about the giveaway for one more!
EDIT: I forgot to mention the deadline! You can enter up to Sunday evening at 8 pm. I will announce the winner on Monday (and I may even have more goodies to give away!).
Her stuff is so dreamy... Wouldn't that cloudy sky be lovely in a nursery?  And I love the of having all the food shots be lovely grouped together in a kitchen.  They just make me think of fresh summer air and wispy curtains.  What do you think?

Thanks again Jamie!

If a tree falls in your back yard...

Sigh.  Just look at this lovely photo of my backyard last summer.  Lush and green, with all that gorgeous dappled sunlight through the leaves, and the perfect shady spot to sit with a drink and watch the kids play.  I really, really love our back yard.

However, when I was at Oprah on Monday (or probably waiting in line for Oprah), this happened:
Yup, the whole tree came tumbling down - smack into our yard.  The terrifying thing is that our 2-year-old was playing at the back of the garden with his trucks all afternoon.  He got up and walked towards the house for a trip down the slide, and as he landed at the bottom, so did the tree.  It scratched his face, it came so close.  If he hadn't decided to walk to the slide, or had walked just 5 seconds later... I actually refuse to let my mind go there.  The Arbourist who came to assess the tree was convinced that Cam knew it was coming - he said dogs and young kids often have a sense of these things just before they happen and get out of the way.  Either way, when I got home from Oprah at 11pm, I sat in his room and watched him sleep for a long, long time.
That is a mighty big tree.  I don't know if you noticed in the first image, but it was also on our neighbour's side of the fence.  No matter, if it falls in your yard, it's your problem (read: your insurance).   Many phone calls, many questions, many site assessments. Eventually, three huge trucks pulled up in front of our house.  Anyone with 2 young boys knows that's better than Christmas.
They had a crew of almost eight guys and got through that tree in record time, while I/we watched from inside and tried not to cringe every time they trampled through the peonies.
I caught a glimpse of Cam's trucks under the debris and once again thanked every deity I could name, and made up a few more for good measure.
 Our umbrella was a little smushed...
Now my yard looks like this:
It is a completely different place.  I feel like I am in a subdivision.  My poor shade-loving hostas and astilbe are shrivelling in the sun.  But see that little guy in the plaid shirt?  As long as he is in the picture, it is a beautiful, perfect view.

The Almighty OPRAH

On Monday afternoon/night, thanks to the ridiculous generosity of my friends Lisa and Mike (you guys ROCK!!) I found myself basking in the presence of the one-and-only Oprah Winfrey.  The 5-hour line-up also included Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Iyanla Vanzant, and Bishop T.D. Jakes.  I have never been to a revival meeting, but I am pretty sure they wouldn't feel much different.  There were a lot of AMEN!!!s, whooping and hollering, women shaking and crying, and at one pont we all stood and held hands, raising them up with a mighty yell.  It was AWESOME!
Never mind that we got in line at 3pm and got to our seats at 5:10 (the event was supposed to start at 4).  At least it was one of the warm days and the rain held off, although the wind was fierce!  Never mind that by the time we got there we sat in the back of the 9,000-people audience, squinting to see the stage, let alone the people on it. Never mind that the hotdog we scarfed down while waiting in line was the only food I had until I got to Union Station at 11pm (and had a nasty breakfast wrap).  Never mind that because of the crowd-control, the speakers' times were shrunk to 30 minutes each instead of an hour.  The fact that these people could generate such a powerful vibration in a huge warehouse of a space spoke to their gifts as speakers, and the resonance of their words.  Iyanla in particular was really fantastic, her enthusiasm completely contagious.
Oprah herself was impressive.  This woman is a PRO.  She was just the right amount of gracious - she acknowledged the effort it took people to get ready, to get themselves looking gorgeous, to make their way to Toronto, and to stand forever in line, all to see her.  It was a kind gesture, and most importantly, it felt genuine.  To watch the taping of the show, it was managed down to the second, with each speaker having a segment, questions from twitter, comments from the audience, and contributions from Skype.  Oprah was unflappable, professional but personable, making everything feel spontaneous and of-the-moment.  She joked about how tiny she must look to those of us in the back, she laughed about the height they put the chairs to minimize the difference between her and (6'8'') Tony Robbins, she ribbed those in the audience who had gotten pedicures for the occasion - "Oprah ain't never gonna see your toes girl!"
I could not stop thinking of Gran and wishing she were there with me.  How many times did she call me randomly at University and start off with "Sweetheart, I was watching Oprah..."?  
"Sweetheart, I was watching Oprah....and if you were a lesbian, you could tell me."  
"Sweetheart, I was watching Oprah...if you are doing drugs, you have to tell me."
"Lisa honey, I was watching Oprah...and I just had to call and tell you how proud I am of you."
Thanks Oprah, for prompting all those wonderful, and sometimes hilarious phone calls. xo
She was also great at distilling the sometimes heady discussions into "snackables" - small digestible summations of the conversation.  Some of my favourites were:

  • Forgiveness is being able to able to give up the hope that the past could be any different.
  • Until you clean the wounds of the past, you will continue to bleed into the future.
  • Holding on to resentment is like holding your breath - you'll eventually suffocate.
  • Don't strive for success, strive for significance and excellence, and success will follow. 
  • There are 'Gallon" people and "Pint" people.  You have to adjust your expectations of someone based on their capacity (They might be giving their all).  And if you are a Gallon person, you can't have only Pint people in your life.
  • Empowering your past robs power from your present.
  • And my favourite: Forgiveness is a laxative for the soul.
Look for these all prettied-up in Pinterest soon. :0  Thank you again Lisa and Mike for giving me this tremendous experience.  I feel like it gets more amazing the more I think of it!  Did anyone else see the Mighty Oprah?  Did you have any A-HA moments?