Dahlias - Pretty Light

Elena Kovyrzina, a Toronto-based photgrapher, has a beautiful blog I love to follow called Pretty Light.  I have been meaning to post about her photos for a while and today's photo of these gorgeous dahlias was the push I needed. I love finding such talent in Toronto - every now and then she posts a photo of somewhere I recognize.  Her photographs are so soft and dreamy, they are just the right way to start the day. The ones here just capture summer so perfectly. Her blog is here, her Flickr page is here and her soon-to-be-opened etsy page is here. Enjoy!

Guest Appearance

Check it out - the lovely Brooke from the blog Pure & Noble asked me to do a guest post for her while she is away on a much-deserved break.  My post is up today and includes a sneak peak at our kitchen reno!

Attn all photographer wannabes (like me)

I guess actual photographers (not just wannabes) are invited too - Miss B over at Blah, Blah, Blahg! is hosting a 30-day photo challenge, and I just signed up.  I am hoping this will help me retain some of my mat-leave-creativity now that I am back at work.  An amazing side-effect would be if my photography improved through practice and constructive feedback!  So what do you think - are you in with me?  Blake?  Kenj?  Karen?  Anyone else? It starts September 4 (next week) so you have some time to decide - but not much.  Leave me a comment if you are joining me. :)  FUN!

Incredible reading of 'Litany' by Billy Collins

OK, so I saw this on a bunch of sites and didn't want to stop and watch it, figuring it was one of those cutesy youtube sensations I could miss.  However, this evening I saw it once again on yet another blog and hit play.  And now I am posting it here.  Because it is really quite incredible - a very wonderful reading of a very beautiful poem, by a 3-year-old.  A 3-year-old who clearly has an ear for poetry, and some exceptional parents.  

What do you think?  Did you like it or did it feel like watching a trained parrot?
Here is the poem:

Yulia Brodskaya

I know Yulia made the rounds on blogs everywhere ages ago but I just stumbled across her portfolio and am SO inspired.  Her paper creations are exquisite, not only in their fine detail, but their incredible use of colour.  That being said, her white on white illustrations have incredible texture and depth.  Originally from Russia, Yulia now lives in the UK where she went to get her Masters in Graphic Communication.  She combines her love of typography and graphic design with her insane quilling skills (quilling being the art of paper curling she employs so brilliantly).  Her style is so unique and so powerful, she has quickly built up a list of high-profile clients, including Google, for whom she designed the bird above.  (She mentions on her site that she has had many requests for that image for tattoos - wouldn't that be stunning?)  Below are some of the works from her portfolio, including her many corporate commissions.  A.Maze.Ing.

et al., etc.

Oh man Evita from et al., etc. you are KILLING me.  Don't you know I am on a spending hiatus?  And you, Suann from Simplesong, bringing this awesome site to my attention?  GAH!  I am lucky the hoodie above is sold, or I would have to own that puppy.  The dress below is still a maybe.  When I first saw it and saw the price I thought it was vintage.  Then I noticed the description said handmade, one-of-a-kind, and I just about fell over.  Normally those words = $$$$$$$.  Combine the lovely designs, beautiful fabrics, simple patterns, reasonable prices, and brilliant photography, and you have one of the best etsy stores I have seen!

Russian Empire ca 1910

An Armenian woman in national costume poses for Prokudin-Gorskii on a hillside near Artvin (in present day Turkey), circa 1910. 
One of my favourite blogs is the photography blog on Boston.com called The Big Picture.  In the vein of 'a picture tells a thousand words', it tells the story of current events through incredibly evocative photographs.  Their images of the flooding in Pakistan, for example, brought home the tragedy more than even television news reports could do.  Yesterday's post was equally stunning - it literally made me gasp.  In light of the devastating fires in Russia, the blog posted some photographs of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944).  Prokudin-Gorskii was commissioned by the Tsar to document the Russian Empire in pictures, using his patented colour process.  Between the years of 1909 and 1912, Prokudin-Gorskii traveled the Empire and captured not only the places and people, but, I think, the essence of the subject and the environment.  
General view of the Nikolaevskii Cathedral from southwest in Mozhaisk in 1911.
His special colour process involved him taking three consecutive photos of his subject, each using a different colour filter of red, blue and green.  He then compiled the three by projecting them using coloured lanterns to recreate the original colour.  The effect, for me, is jaw-dropping.  The colour gives these images such a contemporary feel, it is like stepping directly into the past.  I will let the rest of the photos speak for themselves, but definitely go check out the rest and the whole post at The Big Picture.  (All captions are from their blog.)
Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva, now a part of modern Uzbekistan), full-length portrait, seated outdoors, ca. 1910.
A man and woman pose in Dagestan, ca. 1910. 
Emir Seyyid Mir Mohammed Alim Khan, the Emir of Bukhara, seated holding a sword in Bukhara, (present-day Uzbekistan), ca. 1910. 
A boy leans on a wooden gatepost in 1910. 
A group of Jewish children with a teacher in Samarkand, (in modern Uzbekistan), ca. 1910.
Pinkhus Karlinskii, eighty-four years old with sixty-six years of service. Supervisor of Chernigov floodgate, part of the Mariinskii Canal system. Photo taken in 1909.
Nomadic Kirghiz on the Golodnaia Steppe in present-day Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, ca. 1910.
View of Tiflis (Tblisi), Georgia from the grounds of Saint David Church, ca. 1910. 
A group of women in Dagestan, ca. 1910.

Kitchen tidbit

I know I haven't done a kitche reno update in a while, but I had to share this awesome light I scored from Craig's list for $80!!  It is going in the sunroom, and I love it oh so.  I got another at one of the antique stores on Queen for the kitchen as wel, but you will have to wait and see for that one...

What's in a name?

Man, picking kids names was WAAAAY harder than I thought it would be.  For some reason, it never really occurred to me that my husband would have an opinion... and I certainly wasn't prepared for the vehemence of his opinions!   Eventually we settled on names that we love (probably because of the boys they are attached to) but no one will ever call us original - William and Cameron are pretty popular!  And I am actually OK with that, because I can't imagine them as anything else.  But in case you wanted to know how easy it will be for them to find personalized merchandise in the future (or whether they will be one of ten in their class) head on over to baby name maps!  This google map overlay shows the top five names for both boys and girls in every state and province, several other countries.

Be warned, this could eat up a lot of your time!

The Jealous Curator

Have you guys seen The Jealous Curator blog?  It is awesome - her tag line is "A collection of artwork that inspires & depresses me.  You know it's good when I'm left thinking DAMN I WISH I THOUGHT OF THAT." Which is just a genius subject for a blog, and so well put.  Anyway, she has a couple of things on there that I had to share, cause they are so cool.

First up is Coloured Pencils from artist Jonna Pohjalainen.  In her words:

"I travelled to work in Pedvale with empty hands. I admired the lovely rural scene and the sunsets of Pedvale. I used local aspen in my work because of its lively forms and beautiful, grey colour. While you sharpen your pencils you can see time passing by. Colours bring joy and happiness in our everyday life. I chose a place of of my work because of the sunsets. You can sit and meditate near my work and look at the sunsets. Without sun there are no colours and life!"
So cool, right?  Then we have the amazing collages of Australian Liesl Pfeffer.  Incidentally, she sells these in her Etsy shop - for around $20!!

incredible pencil sculptures

Pencil sculptures - say what?  The two words sound funny together - but just look at these incredible, tiny, inticate pencil sculptures by Brazilian-American carpenter/artist Dalton Ghetti.  I am blown away.  He uses a razor blade and a sewing needle among other implements to sculpt both the wood and charcoal of old pencils. In-SANE.

Found on Say YES! to Hoboken.