I Love Paper!

Recently I discovered a passion for bookbinding and book craft. I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for all things paper and stationery related so I suppose this newest hobby was a natural transition in furthering my obsession! A few years ago, before I had kids, I had a little online shop on a wonderful site called Etsy. Etsy is a site devoted purely to all things handmade. You can find anything through the site and I have regularly made it my go-to for birthday/Christmas present hunting. My little shop was called FingerprintPeople. Through this site I sold hand ‘printed’ note cards. I had designed little characters using my fingerprint and colorful stamp ink. I also painted pictures and sold quite a few little works of art! Now, however, my store is slightly dormant due to not having the same amount of free time to make things.

That may change in the future though. As I said previously I have a new passion and it has brought me back to wanting to constantly make things! The first book I bound by hand was a week long project, one in which my husband jumped in on. He  helped me find all the tools I would need in order to construct my book; he patiently wandered around with me in my new found FAVORITE paper shop in Toronto, The Paper Place. I could loose hours here! They have the most amazing selection of Japanese papers, pens, origami papers and other paraphernalia. I found everything I needed and got ridiculously excited about the project! After a week of carefully cutting and folding and binding and ironing and gluing and sewing, I had my very first hand made book –  although nothing near a professional finish, I was very happy with it and that was all that matters. Now I want to make books all the time! This weekend I built a book press and am in the middle of making my third book.

Image

My other new artistic passion is making pictures using vintage comics. It was actually my husband who started this first and then I got into it. We had several old comics lying around so we picked up a plain black frame from Walmart that had an inner boarder and proceeded to cut up the comic into strips and paste them onto the boarder. By the time we were finished we had a small masterpiece! We had a vintage comic framed with a unique comic strip boarder. I’ve now made three pictures; Transformers, Avengers (for my Godson) and a Tomb of Dracula picture.

Image

With all this new found artistic love pounding through my veins, I was suddenly struck with a small problem.There is only so many books and pictures I can make before my family get worried, so what will I do?

The Answer: Etsy!! I’m hoping that maybe one day (in between kids, school and work) I will be able to post up some sellable items and join the ranks of the professional artists who proudly show their works through the site.

Valentines, Schmalentines!

IT’S A LOAD OF &*%$#!

A Hallmark Holiday, a nasty way to trip up your other half and cause utter heartache! I read my share of pining FB posts from single people, upset they hadn’t received a single card/flower/chocolate/wedding proposal. It’s no different from any other day, there is just this awful expectation to prove something and if it’s not done properly it can be so destructive.

As you may have started to notice, I once worked as a server (waitress, depending on your preference) and I saw many a Valentines date go very, very wrong. And it happened if you sat at Table 204. I have no idea what it was about this particular table but every year the people who sat there were doomed. It was the very last table to be booked because we didn’t want to live through the drama.

When I was pregnant with my daughter I did a stint as a hostess; apparently being pregnant and a server makes people assume things and I was once asked if I knew who the father of my child was. That was a fun conversation and an even better tip! But I digress: I was hostessing over Valentines day and the actual day itself brought out the lazy and the desperate. My favorite call was from a guy who claimed to have booked before Christmas.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have your reservation,” I said again, for the 8th time. “We have a special menu for this day and reservations weren’t available until 3 weeks ago.”

“Ok,” the guy sighed, “I’m going to level with you. I forgot it’s Valentines day and I had promised my girlfriend I would book us a romantic meal and she really wants to eat at your restaurant. Please help me out.”

“As I said before, Sir, we are fully booked and have been for some time now.” I replied as nicely as I could. “I can put you on the waiting list if you’d like?”

“I really need a table…I’ll make it worth your while,” he then said slyly.

“Really?” I replied. Enough was enough and he was the third person to ‘make it worth my while.’ “And how are you going to do that? Do you want to slip me the $250 as you arrive or would you like me to ask for it during your dinner?”

“Well, I….$250?” he swallowed.

This number was bogus but I had had enough of all the attempted coercing and bribes because people had forgotten a day which has been blown out of proportion and has the potential to damage relationships. We really had nothing available and wouldn’t until 10.30pm.

“That’s the going rate. If you want to give me the money up front I’ll get you a great table. If not, then I would recommend you try somewhere else.”

There was a pause before the guy tucked his tail between his legs and admitted he was in for a rough night.

WHY is there so much pressure for people to go out of their way to prove they are romantic and caring and thoughtful for one day? I felt quite sorry for the guy – he really was in for trouble!

Table 204 was no different. That night a young couple broke up because the guy admitted to seeing someone else. Having arrived, all smiles and kisses and doe-eyed looks, the girlfriend absent-mindedly rummaged through her boyfriends phone while he was in the bathroom and came across a text that apparently needed explaining upon his return. His guilty look said it all and it was a disaster from then on. Did I mention they hadn’t even had their order taken yet?

I have witnessed marriages hit rocks, relationships take a tumble and enough blind dates to make you want to curl into a ball and hide until it’s all over! However, I have also witnessed an equal amount of marriage proposals, utterly romantic dinners that are borderline nauseating and (the other extreme) couples getting horrifically drunk and turning the night into a soft porn experience.

My husband and I have had a firm understanding from the very beginning that we wouldn’t celebrate Valentines day. We both feel it is overrated and we didn’t want to pressure the other into proving something we knew didn’t need proving. That’s just our preference though. I have friends who have very kind and romantic other halves and they wake up to roses and cards and a day of pampering and cuddles.

If you love someone, tell them you do everyday, not just because you have been fooled into thinking Valentines Day makes or breaks it. Be romantic when someone least expects it and the results are fabulous! If you are single, don’t dwell on the day. Carry on and the cards and flowers will appear in good time. Someone does love you everyday – your family, your friends, possibly your cat but that’s up for debate….definitely your dog though,that’s undeniable.

Imagell

Olympic Gold, in more ways than one!

After telling myself I wasn’t going to watch the Olympics, I have completely and utterly fallen in love with them this year! In the run up to Sochi 2014 there was a lot of negative press surrounding the games and the true meaning of the sport aspect was forgotten. Human rights were being trampled on, riots and protests dominated the subject of the up and coming games and I felt jaded toward watching the games.

That all changed once I started catching glimpses of the medals being won and the pride and joy being felt through the commentators voices on the radio and television. Now I simply can’t get enough of them! I felt so proud of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, even though I have never met them, simply because they competed with each other and won Gold and Silver for their Country. I have felt proud of Jenny Jones for winning the first ever snowboarding Olympic Medal for Team GB . I have marveled at the way the German Luge team glided into Gold medal position doing a sport that looks so bloody dangerous!

Right now I am watching the Men’s Short Program Figure Skating:  One of the greatest Russian figure skaters, Evengi Plushenko, has withdrawn from the games with a back injury. Not only is his chance at a medal over, his career has also come to an end. Russian friends through Facebook are leaving heartfelt status updates, expressing how much he will be missed. He has put on some amazing shows throughout the years and to see his dignified exit after a long and successful career was sad but at the same time he obviously knew it was time to stop before it was too late. But as one legendary skater bows out, a new skater is breaking records: Yazuru Hanyu, 19 years old,  just received a record breaking score with his flawless performance. Yet as they saying goes “what comes up must come down” and in this case it applied to a US skater.  I watched Jeremy Abbot take a horrific fall, landing on his hip after an attempted triple jump. My heart went out to him and, gasping, I thought, ‘there’s no way he will get up – he must be hurt.’ But he did get up. And he continued his performance. Absolutely amazing.  I watched him glide on the ice, complete his program and gain a decent score. These games are once again showing an amazing spectrum of emotion and we are only 4 days into the games.

Being partly Canadian, my real passion is Hockey and it really is the showstopper in these games. So far Canada is doing very well and I hope they succeed as they have done in the past. They don’t have an easy road though and the fights are looking to be very tough but they are doing their best and I hope it pays off for them. I’m sure Canada is going to come to a complete stand still if and when they make it to the finals. (Which they will. I’m sure!)

No matter which country you are behind it’s the athletes and the coaches themselves who are the stars. All other political issues fall at the wayside; we have watched people come together to show support for each other no matter who they are. It’s so blooming heart-warming! Imagine if the world operated as a whole the way countries to during the Olympics! So much would be accomplished. At least that is what it looks like on paper; I have no idea what life is like behind the scenes – it could be complete crap-shoot for all I know! Either way, Sochi is proving to be a success, so far, and long may that last.

Can you be married AND be good friends too?

Once upon a time my husband and I started working together in an upscale restaurant in Midtown Toronto. We were young and newly married and we liked to joke around and have fun. My husband was a Chef and I was a server. After a particularly grueling Saturday we all went out collectively to catch last call at the local pub. On our way down the street I was talking to a fellow server and she asked me why I had a British accent while J had a Canadian accent.

“I was born in London, he’s from Kitchener,” I replied.

“But aren’t you guys, like, brother and sister?” she asked, clearly perplexed.

I must have looked slightly shocked, perhaps a little green, as I gasped and cried, “Dear God, no! We’re married!”

It was then her turn to looked shocked.

“But…But…you’re such good friends!” she declared.

I was amazed by this response. Apparently no-one had told them we were married so everyone had assumed we were related due to having the same last name. It’s true, my husband and I do have very similar senses of humor and we can be very silly together but it had never crossed my mind that by being so was maybe not how a husband a wife could be around each other. I quizzed her further on why she felt this way and she just assumed husbands and wives perpetually got on each others nerves and wouldn’t dream of working so close with one another, let alone be as warm and friendly towards each other. She told me she’s never seen a married couple so happy with each other. I thought that fact in itself was a little sad and at the same time I was quite stunned.

Ask people who have been married for 60, 70 or 80 years what the secret is to a long marriage and the answer is usually always the same; ‘I married my best friend.’  I often wonder now what makes people think they are ready to marry. Not too long ago girls weren’t given a choice – if you weren’t married by 16 you were in danger of being labeled a spinster by the time you reached 25. Marriage meant you were set for life, you had a home, an income of sorts and you had a household to maintain, regardless of whether you liked your husband or not. Unfortunately there are still beliefs in arranged marriages these days, not that I agree with them, but each to their own. During the two World Wars, people didn’t know if they would see each other again so there was a desperate passion when together and an appreciation of having the chance to love and be loved.

In today’s world rights and ways of life have changed. I suppose factors that may have always been in place, just never voiced, are now no longer taboo; divorce, women in a strong career position, better education, better travelling opportunities. There’s more to life now than simply getting married yet although people are given time to get to know each other it’s perhaps not always taken. Not everyone is doomed though! I’m sure there are many married couples out there who share the same easy relationship that we do and have a good working commitment to each other. It can be done and it’s a beautiful feeling; you have to work for it, with it and through it.

Nowadays my husband and I are in a different field of work – hospitality can suck it – and we also have a young family to look after so nights out are few and far between and usually involve just the two of us. Our friends are in other various fields and have young families so getting together with them involves moving mountains at times! Date Night for us is very important! It lets us reconnect and talk about things other than work or kids. It’s almost like the Man Cave theory; getting space to recharge the batteries and to remember what it’s like to be a free adult, even if it’s only for a few hours. During that time we will laugh and joke, share stories and reminisce. We are friends and we enjoy being with each other. We have felt like that for the 13 years we’ve been together, 10 of which married to each other: Isn’t that the point of finding the one person you want to spend the rest of your life with?

Man Cave: when, how, where.

Way back in the day I worked in a restaurant as a server. In hospitality industry you hear many stories whether you intend to or not and some of them are funny, some of them are scary and some of them can scar you for life. This story discusses the subject of The Man Cave: When do you get one, How do you get one and Where can you put one.

A group of 6 people, 3 couples, were chatting away in their very distinct groups; women on one side of the table and the guys on the other. I was vaguely aware the subject of marriage was being discussed. I wasn’t really paying attention until one of the guys said, “I’ve got another 2 years to go before I can get a Man Cave.”

The wives stopped chatting and looked across the table with a ‘Oh, here we go again!’ look. I began pouring wine a little slower than I should as the wife belonging to said guy replied, “Well you need to put in 10 years of marriage before you can get a Man Cave. Those are the rules.”

“Really?!” cried the man sitting next to the poor husband in question. “You have to put in 10 years, huh?”

The other women nodded and smugly agreed while the men nodded in resigned sadness. Then they started talking about their fantasy Caves while I took their dinner orders before I wandered back into the kitchen to digest this nugget of mysterious knowledge.

Is that the rule? 10 years of marriage equals the right to have a Man Cave? I had to investigate this! I had always assumed a Man Cave was something for a sports nut husband or a Harley Davidson fanatic. I have heard tales of Man Caves decked out as mini pubs, sports bars, pool clubs and mini museums. I have visited arts fairs that had booths dedicated to The Man Cave; warning signs and sly attempts at masculine rule. But was the 10 year rule a universal truth or just a rule for the poor unfortunate husband sitting at one of my tables in the restaurant?

Although I didn’t come across firm confirmation of that particular rule I did come across some other interesting info instead. Since when did men become under the impression feminism had stamped out their masculinity and they needed a place to hide in order to restore their testosterone levels? I scoured through web pages and articles, each writer giving their opinion on the chemical importance placed in having a Man Cave and the necessity of a Cave in order to keep marriages healthy and happy. Just the definition of Man Cave was enough to raise my eyebrows in astonishment. You can find it here

In our home the basement is the Man Cave – it is also the home office so its not completely off limits to the family. My husband is into comics and graphic novels so the walls are adorned with his collections and posters. He’s very proud of it and happily shows any visitors who happen to come by. He has his computer, he can play Company of Hero’s to his hearts content. However, my husband has always been allowed to do that, Man Cave or no Man Cave. He has his interests and I have mine and we respect that about each other. He recently allowed me to set up a small table in his Cave so I could begin my new passion of book binding. I felt like I was in his territory though – I asked first if he would be OK with my being there. He said he was happy to have me there as long as I kept my area clean and tidy. I am mindful of keeping my art chaos as tidy as possible and I make sure I bring a fresh made Nespresso Macchiato as a token of thanks if we are there together.

Comic Wall The Man Cave/Office

The point for me is I would have let my husband have a Cave from the beginning if he wanted one and there are many husbands who have had a Man Cave before their wives. For some men I know it’s important to have a space for tools or a motorcycle, or card collections or hobby War Gaming. For others it might be the simple need for space and perhaps that gets forgotten along the way. Why wait 10 years when you can pack them off from the start?! And instead of a room for the man, try understanding that it can be any space as long as it is space; a quiet corner of the sitting room, an hour alone in front of the TV, an evening playing PS3 with his mates while wearing a Wi-Fi headset so he can talk to his comrades. Some of you may not agree with me: for some a Man Cave is a right of passage and if that’s the case, so be it! The essence of this topic is the apparent need for space – the need to be alone, to lock the world away for a few hours in order to come out anew and tackle whatever life throws at you and that should be available for anyone. It’s not just men who need that, women do to. Oh, and FYI, being in the kitchen doesn’t count!

Do women have caves? Apparently so! I will leave you with a few names I came across:

Ladies Lounge

Girl Grotto

The Estroginaverse

Fluff Fortress (seriously?)

Ladies Lair

The Kitchen ( oh ha ha, Men.)

NBA Arena (No Boys Allowed)

Chick Pit

Hormone Haven

and finally, a favourite of mine: The Control Room