four things

Four things that are making me smile.

IMG_8372a. one that brings me back to my girlhood, when I’d rearrange my dolls into a position where they could surely be entertained for long hours at a time (reading or talking to one another were some favourite activities of theirs). My auntie Leanne has a knack for picking Christmas gifts that cue squeals of girlish glee no matter how old I get. This charming little fox suited up in a red christmas sweater and English schoolgirl skirt is no exception.

IMG_8382IMG_8384  b. this vintage locket stirs up thoughts of beloved heirloom jewels that were passed from generation to generation, harbouring stories from each, and keeping them pressed between the locket’s doors. I just imagine a long line of ancestors eagerly whispering their vivacious stories to my heart. (Disclaimer: I snatched this up from a thrift store, so my great-grandmother is not, in fact, whispering vivacious stories.)

IMG_8263c. collars poking out from a favourite sweater – this look is easily rearranged four times a week.

IMG_8268d. the late afternoon light that pours through my makeshift, hippy dippy curtain is tinged in the warmest hue. I can hardly articulate the satisfaction I get from seeing my room lit up in this way… but it does remind me of the ephemeral joy of birthday candles. It’s like I think that if I soak up this moment as best I can, and if I linger as long as possible, I won’t blow the whole scene away.

*m

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hamilton hour

Yesterday, I was perusing through some architecture schools, and before I knew it, I was on the streets. Okay, before you panic, let me clarify – I am not suddenly homeless. Nor am I a busker. Rather, I was drawn into the streets (in the most poetic sense of the word), camera in hand, ready to capture what makes the city I’ve been living in for the past few years so captivating.

Quite simply, the architectural beauty that fills the humble streets of Hamilton demanded to be documented.

This city and I, we know each other pretty well by now. My friends and family back home in Vancouver practically guffawed when I said I’d be heading to Hamilton for school. “Good luck with those winters.” “Steel city, eugh.” And just the simple, “Wait, why on earth are you-“. But ever since first year, I’ve been acquainting myself with the many, many pockets of this city that have been virtually untouched by its industrialism. The streets are dripping in history, every ornate architectural facet speaking to a time long gone. Yes, the grizzly sides of this place really are grizzly. The stench of smoke permeates the downtown core, and it’s completely likely you’ll walk by a number of individuals struggling with a crippling addiction, but that side of the city doesn’t illustrate its potential. In fact, Hamilton has acted again and again on its potential. This video articulates what I want to say in epic proportions, and drums up serious Hamiltonian pride. 

The grizzly sides, yes, they’re evident. But they’re also just one side of Hamilton. Look around for just a day and you’ll see what I mean. Hamilton’s best sides – the charming, vibrantly creative, and academic angles – are often left out of discussion. And let me be clear: the best sides of a city aren’t necessarily the “photo-ready smiles”, if you will. Catch Hamilton in candid form, and you’ll see young women draped in vintage coats, old men with Dumbledore-esque beards (even one or two literally smoking a pipe), and snappy young folks lingering in some of Canada’s most charming coffee shops. You’ll see a city that is the definition of untouched beauty. And you know what? I think the fact that this city has so many untouched parts to it is what makes it so entrancing. So absolutely vital to catch on camera. It’s as though Hamilton is an old woman who has wholeheartedly embraced her wrinkles as a part of who she is. Every crease that tells a story is so much more beautiful than a woman who has resorted to artificial means to stay up to par to what society expects of her.

And so I did try to catch the worn out sides of Hamilton. That aged quality is unattainable in so many cities today. It’s being wiped out in favour of modernism at every corner. But today? I’m sick of perfection. I’m ready to embrace the untouched world. Here’s a snippet of what I mean.IMG_8314IMG_8294IMG_8300IMG_8321IMG_8325 IMG_8326 IMG_8329IMG_8338IMG_8340IMG_8343 IMG_8345 IMG_8346 IMG_8347 IMG_8353 IMG_8296

take a moment to marvel

I’ve always had a knack for standing still. With the likes of that skill, you might think I’ve already paved a very successful future for myself. A mime with a single pose, an FBI agent who excels at eavesdropping until the guy leaves the room, one of those silver-painted humans downtown who think they’re statues. My options were endless from the beginning… And even if that doesn’t become my life’s passion, standing still makes for some excellent entertainment. For example, sometimes I pretend to freeze on Skype. Throwing in a good ol’ mime act in the middle of a conversation (most likely a virtual conversation, but if you do so in real life then you are the most excellent human being I know) offers up some serious bonding with me, myself & I as we all wait and see if our mime act is so good that they hang up on us. Ah, the only time being hung up on is an unmistakable victory.

So that’s what I do for fun! What do you do?

I kid, I kid. But I do enjoy, in some weird way, seeing life as though I were frozen, while the rest of the world continues. It’s a bizarre version of the classic aspiration to put life on pause – where everyone else around you is a mime in a single, generally mundane pose – and you go on your merry way for an hour or two to travel the world, see the Eiffel Tower, shave Kim Jong-un’s hair off, and sift through your enemy’s garbage can. But this doesn’t interest me as much. Seeing the the world around me in a motionless, robotic state would be paralyzing as it is. If I were the one person on Earth who still had some remnant of life in me, well, the world’s outta luck because I’d join them in their paralysis.

There is, however, a subtle fascination with the world’s resistance to stopping when I do. Yes, I just realized this. I’m not the center of the universe, someone pinch me. Okay, thanks for the pinch – the hard truth has been swallowed.

What I mean is that we don’t often contemplate, or contemplate enough, the world’s ignorance to us – these tiny little human beings motoring around, laughing at bad jokes, gossiping, making love, picking their noses. Just as we don’t contemplate breathing or an occasion of rain as anything more than a fact of life. Recognizing this ignorance, as scary as it is, grants you the most genuine form of modesty and brings you back into reality, in that you are not the centre of the world and the world will most literally keep spinning without you. The clocks will continue ticking, rest assured.

Does that scare you? Perhaps. But should it scare you?

Let’s pause for a moment. Take a breath, and be completely still. Your eyes alone scan my words, your chest rising like the tide in tune to your breath. Register the fact that everyone else around you – every human, every bird, every slug – is continuing on, ignorant to your stillness. You are not the sun, you are not the moon. You very well may be to your loved ones, but to 99.99999% of the world, you’re as pivotal as the slug on your sidewalk. Your time spent on this Earth is for you. Your time is no one else’s.

For me, I use the power of time as motivation. Or at least that’s what I strive to do. Because time shouldn’t need to scare us. As a child, I remember my mum once told me I was given thirty seconds more to play on the playground and I distinctly remember thinking, oh my gosh, what is my mum thinking? That’s so much! What will I do with all this time? And I ran like a mad-woman in the body of a seven year old up and down a slide, through the monkey bars, and underneath the ladder until she said it was up. That time was glorious. Time empowered me then, and it can empower me now.

The perspectives we have as children are valuable. We may grow older, we may grow wiser, but if only we could harness some of that innate optimism we had as children. To marvel at the world around us and recognize joy in the little things is momentous; It’s those moments of marveling that slow down time and center us in the present, and allow us to recognize just how much power we do have over time. Because it’s you who chose to pause and it’s you who chose to marvel. No one else.

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The following series of photographs evoke that sense of wonder in the little things. A brilliant collection by Christopher Boffoli entitled Big Appetites. Feed your eyes some serious whimsy with these shots, and please let me know your favourite!

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Lingering upon Alice Gao’s creativity

Today, I thank the world for photography. Correction, Alice Gao. Because, unfortunately, under the realm of photography is the likes of selfies, and so I can’t say I thank the whole world.

But I’m just gonna come clean and say it – selfies are such a gift. Come on, they’re super liberating. You have all the power in the world to be as pleased as you like with your photo, rather than having your face’s fate quivering in the hands of that stranger at the party who snapped you and a friend out of the blue, leaving you like a couple of deer in headlights with excessive makeup on. (What an image. I enjoy it.)

So on second thought, yes, I thank the world for photography and selfies.

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Alice Gao, though, really must be the reigning queen of this world. Or at least for me, on this day, and since I’ve found her. For example, I can’t decide whether or not I’d like to hang the finished painting alone or the photo itself of the painting still dripping from the creative process. As in, with the palette still fresh and the bottles looking as if they have given every last drop of their creative juices to the canvas at hand. And the strips of moody navy, slowly peaking towards the colour the artist was looking for. She makes her photo a piece of art, when it is itself featuring a piece of art. Now that’s ingenuity.

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And here, although these flowers look as though they’re fit for a palace or among tight circles serving high tea, the griminess of the sink and the crossing strips of metal on the window serve as a humble stage for the royally strewn stems.

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Caught mid-packaging, I see every bit of the efforts we take in creating something beautiful from head to toe for a recipient we care about. Cut string, labels messied about from choosing just the right one, stamps even. It’s as if Gao is floating in and out of our lives and pauses these moments in the most unexpected lights.

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Ah. This I adore. The composition has allowed for an immense dark sky to hover over the vibrancy of the flowers, the normalcy of morning tea. But this colour to me is not laden with grief or gloom, but blanketing comfort, lifted just enough so that we can see the light she has captured.

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I almost feel as though I’m viewing more so a portrait of a portrait than a scene of an apartment. The framing of this portrait, however asymmetrical, focuses the lady staring right back at us. The to-die-for gold and marble end table elevates her to a point of eye-level, as if we’re about to enter into an enlightening conversation with the woman before us (who I have no doubt has some bad-ass stories to tell).

ps. white brick wall alert. yes, i am swooning.

And oh my golly gee willickers, I just found her blog, Lingered Uponand I did a helluva lot more than just linger. I think I just moved in unannounced. Here’s a sneak peek of her posts, slash justification of my rudeness:

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Just everything about this outfit makes me feel like a savvy, stylin’, successful photographer.

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And just everything about this makes me want to just be her for a day. Those boots. That espresso. That style.

*m

A Thing or Two About DIY Adventures

I have never been one to jump into DIY ventures. First of all, there has been a fear for hot glue guns festering inside of me since I first tried to attach impossibly delicate hair to a wooden angel doll at the age of six, and, on that same sticky notion, I find bits and pieces of dried glue stuck to my body as though I were slowly transforming into a reptile for what seems like a week after. And so, for the past while, otherwise known as this lifetime, my free time has quite lazily drifted over to my computer, or eating out with lady friends, or perusing down the streets popping in and out of stores. But lately, as I avoid looking at my bank account where the numbers that used to look back at me with such jolliness are now literally sneering and/or laughing at me, I have to say my eyes have strayed every which way into this other world. DIY doesn’t just appear as a little more appealing than before, it looks like something of a necessity to me if I want to have a somewhat visually pleasing room next year.

The world of my free time may be about to turn into… slightly-less-free-but-oh-so-joyously-productive time. Can’t say it’s a decision I want to make at this point. I’m still hoping I win some variation of contest that just violently throws money at me, as though my bank account numbers are yelling, “Yeah, take this! We’re multiplying like crazy! Whatcha gonna do about it, huh?” And I would laugh and say, “Silly money. I want more of you to love.” And then I would take one step into Anthropologie and *poof*, money be gone. It really would work that way. Let’s not even think about ABC House & Home at this point.

But see, I’m not a delusional person. I am painstakingly aware that my part-time job next year will not fuel these wistful ideas of mine. And so, thus marked the opening of Sweet Paul Magazine, no. 10. The edition of last year’s fall, but the edition that threw a pitcher of cold, sweet, inspirational water of DIY goodness in my face and opened my eyes to this hidden world. Instead of recoiling from the boiling weapon otherwise known as a hot glue gun, I think back to some fond memories of my grandma and me in a white-washed painting studio, and of the less aggressive DIY projects we took on – like painting rocks, or making photo albums. The kind of DIY projects I genuinely enjoyed.

So now I find myself walking down the street into a cafe and instead of thinking to myself, “That grid of watercolour portraits has to be the most visually pleasing thing I have seen all day,” to, “Who the heck says I can’t do that?”

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Don’t worry. I will find the artist of this collection next time I swing by, but in the meantime, just bask in this charming set of portraits with faces spanning decades and personalities that are entirely unapologetic in their variety. I feel as though any one of these fellows, or ladies, would have an entirely different answer to, “Why is your portrait up here?”

And so, some projects I am (no word of a lie) stoked to take on before the remainder of my summer becomes lost in the sounds of my keyboard. All brought to you by the sweetest of crafty folks, Sweet Paul. Some of them, admittedly, are still a little frightening to me, but baby steps involve just thinking about it, right?

DIY

Festive Pom Pom Frames!

Especially if one is partial to black & white photos, which are sometimes the classiest of colour hues, these cute little frames will give that much desired pop of colour that some folks (hey, what’s up, that’s me) can’t do without.

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City Scene Candle Motives!

I dig the traditional architecture (in fact, it looks like the Bay building in Vancouver to me), but most of all, I am swooning over the fact that the lights will be flickering with the candle (or LED flickering light) making the whole scene so whimsically alive.

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Jar Light!

Yes, this one is daunting as it involves actual electrical work, but the outcome is almost enough for me to maybe possibly consider it? Yes. Got my thinking face on now.

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Vintage Bookshelf!

If anyone is already lusting after those walls where there is a myriad of book pages pressed to the wall (like this), practically breathing inspiration into your room, then the idea of using a vintage book as a shelf might just be its equally whimsical sister. Imagine placing miniature teacups and delicate vases on top. Lovely.

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Castle Votive Lantern!

The young lady behind this magical creation, Lova Blavarg, is a Swedish princess. Well, at least the closest thing to, because she is gracing the world with the loveliest of crafts and art projects. She must literally only drink creative juices (bought in some obscure local Swedish farmer’s market) because I don’t know how on earth she comes up with some of these beautiful ideas. Who wouldn’t want a castle fit for faeries atop a desk bogged down with work? NOT I. I need a dose of DIY luxury in my life from time to time.

I also snuck away to my cabin this weekend and, let me tell you, this place is a DIY heaven. Next time I head up there I will take a few snaps of what I mean. photo 2photo 3

The lodge is a place where all of the visitors on the island can go, but most of all, it represents the island as a place where interior design does not conform to the pages of the latest magazines, because the beautiful simplicity of this type of design is its timelessness. In other words, I could return a decade later and still find myself equally charmed by the quaint nature of symmetrical beds and faded floral curtains that have always allowed the most delicious amount of sunlight through.

The lanky figure in the second photo is an overgrown elf I found wandering through the forest, quick to assess the comfort of these beds (let’s just say the lodge doesn’t necessarily conform to the latest mattresses either).

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading, you lovely human!

*m