How to make fantastically unique birthday cards

September 24, 2008
Start with this inspiration...

Start with this inspiration...

Start by finding an image off the net that makes you think about that special someone. Print the image onto the lower left corner of a piece of cardstock, don’t forget to add a caption on the right. I used “the magic is what you dream outside the picture”, but you can try “beyond the borders”, “outside the box” or your own variation. Fold and cut the card, then begin to extend the picture with pencil crayons. Let your creativity run wild as you get further away from the photo. Have fun!

...print it on cardstock and add a smidgen of text plus pencil crayon magic to create this Birthday card
…print it on cardstock and add a smidgen of text plus pencil crayon magic to create your own “outside the box” Birthday card

(flower photo source)


Hop a Calgary city bus to…Tuscany?

September 11, 2008

A Calgary city bus cruised by me on my walk to work this morning, route number 30, destination Tuscany. Tuscany?? The bus was full of dreary fall jackets and grim faces. Imagine getting on a bus every morning promising escape, joy, sun and relaxation, and then being dumped off in some dark forsaken corner of the same city you woke up in. The cruelty of it. The inhumanity. That’s one joke I never want to be a part of. It takes almost an hour to walk my route to work, and an hour back, but I’ll choose sneakers over that kind of heartbreak any day! Note: I walk for a myriad of other reasons too, and yes, I know it’s crazy ; )

Easy chicken veggie pasta with lemony dressing

September 10, 2008
What are you having for dinner?

What are you having for dinner?

Smell and memory (click here for the nitty gritty science of this phenomenon) are directly linked in the brain. This is why I have avoided anything lemony for the better part of ten years…

The Rideau Canal, in Ottawa, Canada, is the largest skating rink in the world, and eating a cinnamon/sugar/lemon juice topped BeaverTail pastry from one of the on ice vending shacks is the perfect mid canal snack. But that lemon juice must be squeezed fresh, from freezing cold lemons, with freezing cold bare hands…my hands! Smelling fresh lemons brings me right back to the nightmare of red bloated fingers that are too numb and swollen to bend, and the absolute agony of thawing them out. But enough is enough! I refuse to let those miserable memories mess with my menu any longer (woah “m” overload lol)

To help reprogram my palate, I created this simple (surprisingly delicious!) recipe…

2 full mugs dry bowtie pasta
1/2 chopped red pepper
1/2 thinly sliced onion
1 (+1/2) handful stir-fry cut chicken (ok, so maybe you don’t want to measure the chicken with your bare hands, but just guesstimate and you’ll be fine lol)
1 handful sliced mushrooms
1 handful snow (or snap) peas
1 handful chunked fresh mozzarella
1 fresh lemon
1 palmful chopped fresh parsley
Canola or olive oil & salt/pepper

1. Cook the chicken (in a large frying pan) and cut up the veggies while the pasta is cooking.
2. Put the cooked chicken aside and lightly saute the veggies in the same pan.
3. Add the (drained) pasta, chicken, cheese, and chopped parsley to the veggie pan.
4. Add a splash of oil and the juice of half (or more if you’re brave) of the lemon.
5. Plate and garnish with a lemon slice and parsley sprig. Salt & pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Do you mean to imply I’m not in “Vogue”?

September 8, 2008

“Thompson is preparing an organic lunch of thinly sliced fillet of beef with salsa verde, shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, and crisped mashed potatoes at her renovated, environmentally friendly 1862 brownstone in Brooklyn Heights, decorated with Russian Empire furniture, contemporary Russian art, hundreds of books and prints, and children’s toys and playthings – nothing plastic, naturally.” – William Norwich in September 2008 Vogue Magazine

Just when you thought you had your life together, along comes a “Russian-born and Stanford University-educated” New York photographer’s wife to put us all to shame. Sigh. Gotta love Vogue. They’re always a little tongue-and-cheek about it though. I mean really, a paragraph like the one above couldn’t have been written in earnest. Or could it? Oh William, did you really mean to set the bar so high? Are we humble folk, whose potatoes are merely mashed without the crisping, doomed to wallow in our overly plasticised existences forever? Shiitake…is all I have to say about that.

Try these time saving tips for sending handwritten letters!

September 3, 2008

It’s a rare and special treat to get a handwritten letter in the mail. With our hectic lives, it’s so much faster to whip off an email, but you’d be surprised at how easy it can be to send personalized snail-mail with these simple tips:

1- Set up a “letter-box” (any mid-sized plastic/cardboard box) containing envelopes, stationary, address book, coloured pens/pencils, and Postage Stamps

2- Visit your craft store (Michaels is great) for novelty papers, stamps, punches, stickers, etc. from the scrap-booking section

3- Pre-addressing your envelopes will help motivate you to fill them ; )

4- Decorating the fronts of your envelopes with stickers or simple drawings is a quick way to make your letter extra special

5- Get your kids/friends involved by having a “letter-off” where you share stationary and ideas while you address your envelopes and start on any letters you’d like to get sent off between get togethers. A love themed “letter-off” would be a blast! Click here for some pointers to get you started, and here for some historical samples.

Handwritten letters are a wonderful way to share stories, events, and caring. Wondering what to write about? Family gossip is always a hit, or share your most recent embarrasing/funny/heartwarming experience. How about narrating a shared event from your unique perspective. Pass on jokes, words of support and encouragement, maybe even a favorite bible verse.

It can be so much easier to communicate how much that person means to you when you can do it from the privacy of your kitchen table. Your letter doesn’t have to be long, or poetic, or even illuminating. It just has to end up in the mailbox; that’s the only criteria. And don’t let spelling be an excuse! I keep a blank Wordperfect document open on the computer so I can cheat at spellcheck ; )

I wrote an article on letter writing for the Ottawa Citizen last year, and I learned (from my interviews with Canadian authors and poets) just how valuble handwritten letters are to give and to recieve. And the best way to guarantee you’ll be getting one in the mail…is to start sending them!

How to choose “the right” profile picture, avatar, or gravatar…

September 2, 2008

Something has been bothering me for months now, ever since I uploaded the ‘friendly’ and ‘engaging’ photo to your left. I thought I was above these sorts of superficialities, but, as it turns out, I’m not. You see, I was so sure “it” wouldn’t bother me. Because, you see, I was so determined not to put up one of those can’t-you-see-i’m-so-hot handheld, over-exposed digital pouts. You know the kind, with one hand suspiciously out of frame, the other resting saucily on a hip, the image dredged up from the wasteland of your camera’s overflow. How many batteries are wasted for even one Myspace-styled glamour shot?

And yes, even I must confess, I took this pic myself (by making very creative use of my bathroom mirror). What makes a great profile shot? Personality. I want my readers to want to come and hang out with that smiling blond woman in the sidebar. Come on, how can you resist? She’s looking right at you, hair all n.i.c.e., smiling engagingly (maybe even a bit cheekily), well articulated intellect sparkling in those baby blues, and all the while making sure you see that quaint little wedding ring on her finger. Ya sure, the perfect pic for what I’m going for. Except for one thing. One huge thing.

So here it is blogosphere, I can’t keep “it” in any longer…

My nose is not that big! It is in no way, shape, or form, bulbous!

Thank you. Thank you very much.

And thank you for tolerating this rather narcissistic post. So… how do you add a profile pic with real personality, but don’t want to compromise on the snoz?  Use an action shot! (See below)

So this is great…this post just graduated from “rather” to “completey” narcissistic. And my punishment? Having to stare at this new set of giant-bodybuilder-neck photos. Sigh. At least the nose is better. lol