Monday, April 26, 2010
Swap Bot was one of those sites I kept hearing about, kept thinking "I want to join that!" and then would forget about entirely. Finally, I have joined Swap Bot! From the website, "Swap-bot is a service and a community of creative individuals. Swap-bot facilitates internet swaps. It removes the hassle of collecting swap participants and assigning swap partners." For any of you who don't know what a swap is - basically it is a couple of people (or a group of people) who organize a swap online to trade items through postal mail. These items can be handmade or crafted, be items of a particular theme, postcards, written mail, anything really!
With Swap Bot, you can sign up for a swap that has a theme that you are interested in, and the Swap Bot randomly assigns you with an address (or two, or three, depending on how many partners are indicated) and then you send your items to that person. Then, you get a package back in the mail from another person that was randomly assigned to you!
Since I'm a "newbie" (ahhhhhhh! I guess you have to start somewhere!) I am currently limited to the number of swaps I can join, but so far I have signed up for a postcard swap and a hot chocolate swap - where you send packages of hot chocolate mix in the mail and receive some back in return! Eeeeee! So much fun! I will post some of my swaps on here once I receive them!
For any of you who are members or become members and would like to add me as a friend on there, my name is "loolie" and here is a link to my page!
I can already tell that I am going to be very addicted to swapping through Swap Bot as I love receiving mail! Who doesn't! :)
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Origami Lucky Stars are really easy to make and it can become quite addictive! These tiny paper stars are said to bring good luck. Fortunately, I found lucky star paper and these glass star containers at Pacific Mall, but you can use any long strips of paper and any jar that you'd like! I'm sure you could also find star paper or star containers online to purchase.
I have made two full containers as presents for my fiance, Paul in the past, as well as a container full of stars for my sister. They are really cute to have around the house as a fun decoration.
Some of the stars are made from shiny paper, and the ones that are shown in the last photo are made from special Monokuro Boo Paper.
If you'd like directions on how to make your own stars, please visit this Origami Website. It has pretty clear directions. Soon enough, you'll be making hundreds of your own folded paper stars!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
For Christmas, my darling fiance, Paul was kind enough to purchase this sewing machine for me, the Janome SUV 1108. I really want to learn how to sew with a sewing machine, but to be honest, sewing machines scare me a little bit. My past experiences with them haven't been the best - Grade 8 Home Economics class trying to sew a pair of shorts and having the machine making harsh sounds at me...having the thread jam up inside the machine somehow...and just generally not knowing how to use one properly! But, I really want to be able to sew stuff...so my Christmas wish was granted when I received this sewing machine!
I've been really busy lately but had the day off on Sunday, and decided to try out a really easy project. I taught myself how to wind the bobbin, thread the machine, and then...I created something!
Taa-daaaa! It is a Recycled T-shirt Tote Bag, from this tutorial on Instructables. I took an old t-shirt - a Stereolab shirt that Paul gave to me...but it was a bit too big on me, so after wearing it as a pajama shirt for a while, I decided to use it for this project. The project is really easy - cut away the sleeves and neck of the shirt, and then sew up the bottom with a sewing machine. Easy-peasy! Now I have a tote bag or grocery bag that is stylin' and the shirt will be put to a lot more use other than hanging around in the back of my closet!
Before I use it...I think I'm going to iron the bag, I was too lazy to iron the shirt before making the bag and it is a tad on the wrinkly side! :)
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Sunday afternoons - gotta love 'em! Of course, when I'm not working, that is. Today is one of those relaxing Sunday afternoons where I have the entire place to myself (Paul is at work today) and I'm taking the entire day to just catch up on things around the house and to do things that I enjoy.
I spent the first part of the morning at my yoga class. I love doing yoga; it is one of the most relaxing activities, plus I find that the poses and sun salutations provide me with an extra boost of energy that takes me through the rest of the day. Class was actually a lot busier than usual - it's good to see some newbies giving yoga a try! Excellent for the mind, body, and spirit!
While enjoying my first coffee of the day, I uploaded some new postcards that I received through Postcrossing swaps, Postcrossing official cards, and ones that I picked up in person. My new favorites include my collection of Egyptian cards that I picked up at the AGO's King Tut Exhibit, and the Japanese Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) card that I acquired through a trade on Postcrossing. I learned about Hina Matsuri from my Japanese teacher - it is a Girls' Festival in Japan.
If you'd like to view all of my newest cards, feel free to check out my Flickr page - I have them all uploaded and organized there!
Now for the rest of the day...I'm thinking of practicing the piano (something that I really need to get back into doing on a regular basis so my skills don't disappear!), working on some Japanese language studying, or perhaps trying out the new sewing machine that I got for Christmas! Also, planning on making some sweet potato fries for Paul and I when he gets home from work....mmmm!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
My newest knit creation - "Uptown Boot Socks" from the book, Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave. I used Patons Kroy Sock yarn in "Paint Box" - a very colorful yarn, primarily in shades of red and orange with splashes of green, yellow, blue, purple, a rainbow of colors!
It is difficult to photograph a close-up of the detail (why did I wait until later in the afternoon to get the camera out!) but there is a really nice crosshatch pattern on the socks - a very unique and classic design. They are super cozy and fit great on my feet without slouching down or anything!
It is the first pair of socks that I have knitted from the Favorite Socks book - if you like to collect knitting books, like to knit socks, or you're thinking of giving it a try, I would highly recommend this book! It is a great addition to any craft book library and is worth the small investment (Amazon in Canada has it for around $16). You get 25 sock patterns in the book all published by Interweave Magazine.
For those of you who knit socks, do you wear your knit sock creations normally like regular socks, or do you just wear them in the house? I'm not sure if I am the only one, but I still haven't been able to bring myself to putting these socks into shoes and wearing them outdoors! I think I'm just afraid that all of my hard work will be worn down or wrecked! Maybe one day I will wear them around like regular socks, but for now, the three pairs of socks that I have knitted so far will act like slippers and will be worn indoors! For those of you who do wear them out-and-about like regular socks, perhaps you can convince me that handmade knit socks are meant to be worn and enjoyed everywhere!
Friday, April 16, 2010
On Tuesday, Paul and I went to Toronto together to view the King Tut Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The exhibit has been on display since November 2009 and will be on display until May 2nd, 2010. I'm really glad that we were able to see these amazing ancient artifacts from Egypt - a spectacular sight to see!
The tickets themselves were a little bit on the pricey side - $34.50 for a weekday ticket (it is a little bit less if you are a student). This is the "Golden Ticket" price that includes your entrance to the King Tut exhibit (as well as the rest of the Art Gallery), a ticket to the 3D Egypt movie, and an audio guide that you can carry around with you while viewing items in the exhibit.
We went to see the 3D movie first - it was just your run-of-the-mill 3D movie, really. Nothing amazing or groundbreaking in terms of content - if you know anything about ancient Egypt or King Tut, the information in the movie will be nothing new. The kids in the theatre seemed pretty impressed by the 3D effects, so it is a lot of fun for the kids.
The exhibition itself had priceless treasures from King Tut's tomb, as well as other antiquities from various ancient Egyptian dynasties. You really do have to see this in person if you get the chance - it is hard to believe that items from as far back as 2500 B.C. are even still around to this date, and how amazing that we get to view them in person! There are over 50 items collected from Tutankhamun's tomb, including the canopic jars that held his organs and the intricate golden jewelry that he wore. There are over 80 objects in total that you must see!
The audio guide was voiced by Harrison Ford himself, which was pretty entertaining. I mean, it's Harrison Ford! The audio guide wasn't actually all that useful - the exhibit was actually really busy...if it weren't that crowded, I probably would have paid more attention to listening to the audio guide, except I didn't want to rudely block other people from viewing the items while listening to the audio guide. Also, there wasn't that much room to move around in there, despite the gallery's efforts to only allow a certain amount of people in at a time. The items on display each had a plaque that briefly explained the significance of the item, as well as its approximate age/time period.
After visiting the King Tut exhibition, we walked around the AGO for a while to view the permanent collections and installations, but ran out of time! We will definitely have to go back another day to view the rest of the art gallery!
If you love history, Egypt, or might be interested in this exhibition, do yourself a favor and GO! It was totally awesome and you shouldn't miss it!
Monday, April 12, 2010
Paul and I went on a cruise vacation to the Caribbean in December 2008, and I had been meaning to get some photos printed from the vacation. On our previous vacations, I had just put the pictures into a photo album, but I wanted to get a photo book printed up this time. After looking at a few different companies online, I decided to go with Photo in Press.
Creating a photo album at this website is really easy and intuitive - you download the software to your computer and create your photo album by using the program. Once you are finished creating the album, you just upload it to the website and can pay easily with Paypal. The program has an auto-save function so you don't have to worry about saving your work, and you can preview how the finished album will work at any time.
We chose a blue suede finish cover (you can choose from a bunch of different colors), but you can choose to get a little fancier with a leather cover, or a printed photo jacket for your book. You can add as many pages as you'd like to your book (up to 100) - mine came out to be about 50 pages and I have TONS of photos in it from the whole week-long vacation.
You can choose to fill the entire page with one photo, or put several photos or text on a page. It is entirely up to you! While the program does have its limitations (only a few different fonts and font sizes), it does have many layouts and colors to choose for each page, and it is quite customizable while remaining user-friendly for the average person.
I am really happy with this photo book! The quality is excellent and the book arrived within a few days of placing my order! The shipping cost was low as the company is located within Canada, and it was shipped Express. While making scrapbooks is a ton of fun, getting this photo book professionally printed ended up costing a lot less than it would be to purchase a scrapbook and scrapbook supplies, as well as getting photographs printed. I would highly recommend Photo in Press to anyone who is looking to remember a vacation or any special moments in their lives!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
On Sunday, Paul and I decided to go for an afternoon drive to the Cheltenham Badlands. I had never heard of this place before until my sister visited there last year. I had no idea that a landscape like this was situated so close to home!
The Cheltenham Badlands are on Olde Baseline Road in Cheltenham, Ontario - near Caledon, Ontario. If you drive through Mississauga (via Mississauga Rd.) or Brampton (via Hurontario St.) and just keep driving out to the country and turn down Olde Baseline Road, you will come across the Badlands. You literally drive down this very hilly road and after driving over one big hill, you will see the Badlands at the side of the road!
From the Ontario Trails Website:
“Badlands” is a geologic term for an area of soft rock devoid of vegetation and soil cover that has become molded into a rolling landscape of rounded hills and gullies. Such areas are rare in Ontario and this is one of the best examples. They exhibit the reddish hue of the Queenston Shale that forms them; the iron oxide in the shale produces this colour. The narrow greenish bands that can be seen throughout the shale are due to the change of red iron oxide to green iron oxide brought on by the circulating groundwater.
Queenston Shale is a very soft rock, in comparison to the harder sandstone, limestone and dolostone that make up the rest of the Niagara Escarpment. Erosion of the shale can occur rapidly if layers of other rock or vegetation are removed, and particularly if the area is impacted by grazing and large number of people. The Badlands probably began to form in the early 1900s when the trees were cut down to allow for a cattle pasture. The protective layer of vegetation was removed and the shale began to erode; although farming at the site ended in 1931, erosion of the badlands has continued to its present-day state.
The area has been identified as an Earth Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The Badlands are also part of Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment, which was designated a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Biosphere Reserve in 1990.
Although the trails around the Badlands are closed (to allow for nature to regenerate itself and allow for undisturbed growth), you are able to view the Badlands itself with no problem. You should not visit if there has been a recent rainfall as the soil is quite soft and you do not want to disrupt the landscape. If you are from the area, choose a nice and sunny day and take a drive out to the Badlands!
To view more photos that we took, please visit my Flickr page.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Here is another great recipe for you to try if you like potato salad and looking for a bit of a change. I can't remember where I originally found this recipe but I made some alterations to it. It turned out really yummy and was pretty quick to make. You might want to even double this recipe - between my fiance and I, it was all eaten before we knew it, and I could have gone for some more! You can eat this warm or cold, it doesn't matter, just store it in the fridge after you make it, or eat it right away.
7-8 white or red potatoes, chopped into 1" chunks
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1-2 tbsp Indian curry paste (I used red but you can use any kind you choose)
pinches of sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optn.)
6-8 green onions, chopped
1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Once water is boiling, add the potatoes and the salt, and cook for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the curry, vinegar, and sugar. Slowly whisk in the oil.
3. Chop up the cilantro and the green onions.
4. Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Stir in the dressing and then stir in the cilantro and onions. Add salt to taste.