2016 I’m a coming

My start to the new year has been slightly delayed, firstly by an amazing vacation, secondly by a less-than-amazing illness, but 2016 I am now ready for you.

This year I want to do so many things – among them have a fantastic “authentic for us” wedding, spend more time with friends, settle into my home, cook a bunch of delicious meals and blog some more.

I’m also progressing on my creativity project – I started learning to knit (finally! yay!) This year I want to create some art, some wedding, DIYs, maybe write a bit of fiction, and anything else that catches my attention.

As a start I picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”. I’ve been interested in giving this a read for some time and the pretty cover (previously with a 40% off sticker) made me pick it up. Review to come…

Before the holidays I attended a lunchtime talk at the University about Creative Thinking. The presenter, a cognitive science professor, was really interesting and gave me lots to think about. Did you know you are more creative in a green room and more task-oriented in a red room and that 70db is the optimal noise for creativity? That must be why so many people (myself included) like to work in Starbucks! His own research was also quite interesting – how do you teach a computer to be creative?!?

I’ll leave that to him and focus on myself for now… back next time with some recipe adventures!

 

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The Coffee table project

One of the first projects we identified for our new home was updating our Ikea coffee table to match the space.  While the minimal black table worked well in other spaces it didn’t really fit in our warm, colourful family room.

Here’s another “before” shot from our condo. You can see how it worked well with the stark white walls and dark furniture.

Living Room 2

We were inspired by a table the previous owners of our home had I commented on every time we came for a showing or looked at their photos on the listing. Brent probably said something like – ‘I can make that’ which I didn’t see as a reality until we ended up with this place and it’s shed and garage perfect for storing hardware!

Not that we got a lot of equipment to make this project happen. Most of it was borrowed from the Ottawa Tool Library – a fantastic new initiative to allow residents of our city an opportunity to borrow and share equipment for a minimal annual fee. We are so on board!

Speaking of boards – these planks are the highlight of our new table! Don’t they look fantastic?! And really pull together with our hardwood floors and butcherblock counters.  For the bottom of the table we visited Malenka Originals a small shop around the corner (nearly!) and picked out this Old Violet Annie Sloan chalk paint.

Home tour: The Library

I just did a quick tally – we’ve had 53 nights in our new home now. And 18 of those nights we had a houseguest (or two, or three)! So the fact that we are feeling even slightly settled is pretty awesome and we are sure getting there. I think decorating and organizing a house will be my next big creativity project (not ruling out some small side ideas!).

The room that B and I were probably most excited about is “The Library”. It’s one of the two spaces we painted as soon as we moved in because it was quite a shade of orange! We went with a solid white which makes the space (the smallest of the bedrooms) look much bigger but it does call out for some colour in other ways. Which is why I took the opportunity to try out the rainbow bookshelf idea. I’ve pinned this for years and was never sure if I could get my type-A personality around this type of “order” but now that it’s done I love it! It really pops in the white room and white bookcase.

 

The problem though is that with a English major and an English minor living in the same home we have A LOT of books. So there is not a lot of styling going on – apart from a bit of styling with books. As we get settled in some of the other rooms maybe some of the books will shift there to make a book more room on the bookcase.

The previous home owners had a small bunk bed built in to this space with the shelf on the side below used as a bookshelf within the bed. It was so cool. But a small bunk bed isn’t really something we were looking for (seriously the top bunk could not have fit anyone over 2′ tall) so we’re not entirely sure what to do with this cubby. Currently it’s our turf charging station/FIFA U-20 WWC shrine.

Remember my sewing class?  Here’s the new home for my bunting! You can see it from the outside window too. Cute!

It’s a start! And I can’t  wait to see this room transform as we get even more settled.

Pottery

My pottery class is officially complete. It was 8 weeks of patience trying, thumb-hurting frustration, but I did end up with some lovely pieces. And while none of them are perfect – I made them myself and they have grown on me and are a fun new addition to my home and office.

Project one 

 

Supposed to be: A big mug (half win!)

Hardest thing: learning the wheel

Place in my world: While this is not a good jumbo sized java mug it is absolutely perfect for my morning lemon water – and getting to use my handcrafted mug makes me remember to do that more often!

 

Project two

Supposed to be: A sugar bowl (nope)

Hardest thing: Making a lid. I trimmed too much off of mine so the instructor recommended adding the little handles so the lid doesn’t fall right in

Place in my world: to be decided. This little guy has not found a home, and might be the only piece not to stick around.

 

  Project three      

Supposed to be: a bowl (win! win!)

Hardest thing: Apparently a common pottery mistake when making a bowl is to actually make a plate (oops!). I managed to stay away from that, but it does have a lot of wobbles.

Place in my world: This guy is in my office as a little snack bowl!

 

 

Project four

Supposed to be: whatever we wanted to make. I was aiming for a big mug (hehehe)

Hardest thing: The last wheel class was a nightmare for me. I just kept losing it and having to cut it off or restart again and again and again. And I was using brown clay for the first time which is apparently no different, but just looks messier and must have got in my head.

Place in my world: This teeny little guy might be my favourite. It is perfectly round and smooth. And it is perfect for holding candy. Mmmm candy.

So that’s it. Unlikely I try pottery again (at least not any time soon!) but it was a fun experience and I like having things around in my everyday that I made with my own two hands.

I have other big news, but not quite ready to share it yet. Let’s just say it’s deserving of two different types of red(?!?) beer to celebrate. No filter on that shot there. I tried the delicious Flying Monkeys 12 Minutes to Destiny Hibiscus Pale Ale (middle) and then the 49 Parallel Gypsy Tear’s Ruby Ale (left and bottle) at celebratory drinks last night.  An update on that and food to come next!

Working with the wheel

I mentioned in my first creativity post that I’m taking pottery classes. It sounded like fun and who doesn’t want some nice handmade pottery goods? The only thing I didn’t consider was the skills required which ended up being a big challenge!

The key to using the wheel seems to be a balance of soft, steady, slow touch and confidence with endless patience. None of these are in my wheelhouse (pun somewhat intended ;)). I’ve always had more success in pursuits that value being fast and strong – which is why all of my figure skating routines back in the day were to very quick music and never the graceful slow tunes. I lost a number of projects to the wheel when I applied a bit too much pressure or tried to move a bit faster than I should have. Eventually in the trimming stage the instructor told me I had to remove my tool before trying to move in because I could not go slow enough.

It was a challenge for me, best explained in this clip from “Community” which I had to watch after one very unsuccessful class.

 

All said and done I finished 4 projects in my 7 classes (as long as nothing drastic happens in glazing class next week). You can see three of them in their pre-glazed state below: the small brown bowl in front, small mug behind to the left (not the gorgeous mug behind to the right which was made by the instructor – not another classmate!), and then the bigger bowl behind my mug. There’s also a small pot not shown.

 

I am very excited for glazing class – the options are so interesting and exciting. I have to get some ideas in mind so I know which colour directions I want to go for each of them. Here is the pretty wall of choices in the studio!

While it was a frustrating and difficult experience at times I’m happy I stuck with it and have some nice pieces to remember it by, but I don’t think that pottery is my final creative calling!!

Try a Try a Tri!

When I talk about creativity I don’t just mean arts, crafts, and cooking. I think creativity can extend to many areas of life… including health and fitness.

I like to be active, although sometimes… like in a winter where days are short and below the -20 marker, it can be hard to make the effort. Which is why I love spring and getting back into the swing of things. Yesterday I rode my bike into work and returned my parking pass so I’m officially a bike commuter again. I started last summer and absolutely love it. I feel so much more awake at my desk afterwards (it’s better than 3 cups of coffee!).

The next childhood activity I’m returning to is swimming. Now that I have free access to a pool it’s something I can continue year-round (although currently closed for one month of cleaning – what a bummer in terms of timing!). I picked up some new gear to help me get motivated (and because I don’t think my stuff from 1999 is going to hold up or even fit!).

I did fit one swim in before the cleaning closure and it went really well. So I’ve officially signed up for the National Capital Triathlon and Duathlon Try a Tri event on August 1st. That means a 200M Swim / 20Km Cycle / 2Km Run which right now sounds like a breeze to me but I might be singing another tune on the first day of August! I’m planning on a few mock-races which should be an easy after work task since I’m already biking home – just hop in the pool first and go for a run afterwards!

Learning from the Experts

One of the first steps on my creativity journey has been to learn from others. There are so many interesting people and projects out there – why not draw upon their knowledge and see if their interests and talents align with mine. Sometimes I feel a bit like a kid at summer camp or an enthusiastic after school calendar, but what better way to find a new hobby/interest/outlet than trying activities out!

A few weeks ago I went to a terrarium workshop at Flowers Talk Tivoli. I’ve been waiting months for the beautiful local flower shop to have an event or workshop that I was able to attend. I missed out on wreaths and planters over the holidays but loved the idea of building my own terrarium. My friends and I brought some fine little dinos to make our scenes even more interesting! It was fun and I will be keeping my eyes open for future workshops while I await the day I can have my own garden!

I’ve also been to a couple of classes at Fabrications – hands down the coolest fabric shop out there! Their fabrics make you want to be good with a sewing machine (which I still am not). Below you’ll see my bunting – I also made some scarves which made their way to others as Christmas gifts. I am sure I will go back to create something else – although I wish I was at a point where I felt comfortable to go it alone without a class. Maybe after the next one! And I see they are going to start doing silk-screening… okay I’m hooked!

My current course is Pottery. I don’t have a finished project to share yet so stay tuned. I do have a nasty injury on my hand – apparently pressing down hard is meant to be on the clay not on the wheel (!!!). It has been the most challenging so far, but I have another 5 weeks to figure it out.