Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 recap and updates

Here're the top five posts of 2013:

{diy: bath bombs} I had been wanting to make myself some bath bombs for quite some time but I just couldn't find a recipe that was easy enough or had ingredients that I could easily source. Apparently, everyone felt the same way, because this was the most popular post on Idle Wife this year (and of all time). That easy and cheap recipe combined with the sweet pastel pictures was definitely a winner. Now I'm going to be hunting for something nice for the shower as having a bath tub is pretty rare here in Helsinki (and we definitely won't have one, anyway).

{friday fixation: coloured marshmallows} Who knew that one simple idea would turn into something so popular? Probably my most read comment about these marshmallows was, "Why?! What is the point?!" And since I didn't really explain why I was experimenting with this technique, I will now. I wanted something cute to put in a treat bag for Idle Husband on Valentine's Day, and I was sick of all the typical Valentine stuff cuz it's never updated or different or modern looking. And that's all there was to it. I was honestly quite surprised the idea even worked since water plus sugar usually ends in disaster. So to everyone who has ever asked WHY?! That's why I made them and you can do whatever you want with them. But if you really need more ideas, here are a couple; they'd be nice as a cake topper on a simply iced white cake or you could jam them on sticks for quickie, easier cake-pop-like treats for a bridal or baby shower.

{diy: heart headphone cord wrap} I still really like this diy and I use it quite frequently. It probably looks pretty simple, but it took many attempts to get it just right. I think I threw out more hearts than I ended up keeping. The biggest tip I can give you if you plan on making this one is to get the thickness right. Too thin and it'll break under the pressure of wrapping your cords (or just from putting it in your bag) and too thick and it won't dry properly and it'll look too clumsy.

{diy: painted bamboo cutting boards} Oh the cutting boards. I can honestly say I was not sorry to see these head to the goodwill when we were sorting and packing everything up for our big move. I initially painted the edges just to give them more interest in the kitchen, plus I saw some cutting boards with a painted edge that looked exactly like these in a magazine and I thought that would be the easiest diy ever. And it was. The problem for me was the cutting boards themselves. While that may have jazzed them up a bit, I still hated using them. So my next board is going to be non-slip (I'm so tired of boards sliding around on the counter while I'm chopping. It's so dangerous!), it won't need constant oiling, and I want to be able to use it for both meats and vegetables and then throw it in the dishwasher for cleaning (I have definitely changed my opinion on wooden chopping boards).

{diy: beaded necklace} I still have this and I've worn it on occasion. I just realized I'm not a big necklace wearer (even though I have quite a lot of necklace choices!). This design actually does go with a lot of outfits despite being more in, what I would consider, the "busy" category. Though, I think I'm drawn to simpler designs these days, so in 2014, I hope I can find some good quality jewelry materials (new country, and all), and then I can start making some new jewelry tutorials. Possibly more earrings and bracelets this time around.

I'm looking forward to coming up with more useful home diy tutorials in the new year. I want to have unique yet inexpensive things in our new space and two issues I already have to address is lighting and furniture, so expect more design ideas for small spaces. Moving to Helsinki with only our clothes has provided the opportunity for me to start fresh with a completely blank slate (I think it's pretty rare that someone gets that chance), so I'm pretty excited about coming up with new ideas for our home!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

happy holidays

I just wanted to pop in and wish you all a great Christmas and a bright New Year! And as always, thank you for reading and following and commenting and generally just paying attention to Idle Wife this year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

friday fixations

{bird bnb} Oh god this is too cute! Look at him! He's eating popcorn on a couch! (This is my favourite picture from the bunch, obviously.)

{insane christmas wishlist} This made me laugh out loud. Not the list, the fatherly explanation of said list.

{cat flakes} This is silly, but good for a moment.

{different sized christmas lights} Maybe you do this already, but since we were lacking in decorations this year, we opted to go a little bit crazy on the lights. We bought a small ball-style light (the options in Finland are more for bulb shape and size instead of colour and movement as in Canada) and later we bought really tiny fairy lights that are in the same colour family as the larger ball light. I think the combination of a larger light bulb and a smaller light bulb makes the tree look a little more interesting and, dare I say, twinkly.

{jaffa cakes} These look like cookies but are totally cake-like. They've got a fruit topping which is more like a jelly instead of a soft jam, and it's dipped in chocolate. Jellies and chocolate? On top of a cake-y cookie? I want have to try more flavours.

{christmas gifs} I love a good gif and some of these would make great e-cards.

{finnish gifts} Twelve ideas for Finnish-themed gifts. Wouldn't it be great to get a pair of scissors? You can always brag about their strong Finnish design and your knowledge of said design. (My sarcasm doesn't translate here very well.) I would like to try that liquorice, though. I like things that can potentially be so divisive.

{lionel stitchie} Clever street art always has a place in my heart.

{gingerbread deaths} Those poor gingerbread men.

Friday, December 13, 2013

diys i {really} want to do

If you're wondering why it's a little dead for DIYs around here lately, it's for this one plain fact: I had to leave all of my crafting supplies in Canada. They simply didn't get on the plane with us (four suitcases was more than enough for us to handle and check). I'm looking into finding craft stores here, but I also don't have a mode of transportation plus, you know, jet lag, scary unknown, language barrier, want to go with a friend, have no friends, gotta wait for hubs to be off work... plus we're in a very tiny temporary apartment with only one table (that we are currently using as a desk, a dining table, and a shelf to throw all our stuff on when we come home), and it (plus the whole apartment) would be a complete disaster in a matter of minutes given my usual crafting habits.

 But I'm still thinking about DIYs!

Here're some that I really would do, like, yesterday, if I had the tools and the space.

{anthropology inspired painterly shoes} I have these exact shoes. Exact brown colour, exact style, exact everything save for the cutesy painted sides. Wanna know where I found them? In the boys shoe department at Superstore, on clearance. And they fit like a dream! But wouldn't this be a great way to feminize/update them? It would, but I have no idea where to buy fabric paint or little paint brushes.

{himmeli anything} We managed to find a small tree for our apartment and we've got lights on it and a few tiny ornaments I brought with us, but I'd really like to add a little something more. I've been thinking about trying to make some himmelis, either with straws or, as pictured here, pipe cleaners. I have no idea where to buy pipe cleaners (let alone sparkly ones) and if I bought straws, I have no idea where I'd get string or anything to put them together.

{ikea hack -- soft rocking chair} I am obsessed with this chair. We saw it at IKEA last weekend (when we went to snoop on Finnish IKEA), and it's a really really comfortable chair. With rocking feet, it would be amazing. Alas, I no longer have any power tools or a tape measure or screws or paint stuff -- pretty much everything that's needed for this hack.

{dior double-pearl earrings} If you know me at all, you'll know I'm pretty fixated on earrings. If there's one piece of jewelry I'll always wear, it's a pair of earrings -- I never leave the house without them. Something about these double-pearl ones really makes me want to have them. Badly. The hack is so easy it literally breaks my heart that I no longer have access to my kicky jewelry supply shop, and, naturally, I have no idea where to find one here (goodness, it took me five years to find one in Edmonton and even then I pretty much accidentally tripped into it).

{pretty much anything that requires printing or paper} I'm working on a new calendar for myself but I've just realized we no longer have a printer or any paper, and I have no idea what the Finnish equivalent of a Staples would be. Plus Christmas cards would be really fun to make and send... speaking of sending, where the heck is the post office, even?

I know, I know, I should just order some of this stuff off the internet. Maybe I will... some day... once our mail gets sorted out.

In the meantime, if you want to see what's been inspiring me and interesting me in the world of, pretty much everything, just check out my Pinterest boards. I've been A LOT busier over there than normal!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

december desktop

Just a few days late, not too bad considering we have finally moved and are now residents of Finland!

Granted, it's only been two and a half days since we arrived (after a rather nightmare plane experience), but so far so good. The apartment we have is light and bright and cozy (and quiet!), and we had our first official grocery shopping experience yesterday. Two things that I liked there: when you get vegetables, you have to make a note of the product code (kind of like when you buy from bulk bins in Canada), then you weigh the item on a scale and print your own bar code which you stick on the bag yourself for the cashier. I love this so much! You know instantly (and I mean instantly -- it's very fast) what price you're going to be paying so you can take a tomato out if it's too much or scrap the purchase altogether (I've always hated the whole vegetable guessing game we play in Canada and how nice is this for cashiers?). Also all lettuces are sold with their roots and some dirt in a little pot (I guess you'd call it), and they're wrapped up like little potted plants with cellophane around them. I didn't know how to handle it, so I put them in cups of water and they perked right up. They seem so much fresher this way and I just had to snap off a few leaves for our salad. Cheap me wishes I had a planter box.

Anyway, the December calendar is kind of Finnish inspired and it definitely supports my growing fixation on black and white and geometric shapes. It's pretty simple, but it did take me a while to figure out how to draw the gems in photoshop. Not too shabby!


Friday, November 22, 2013

friday fixations: food edition

friday fixations: food

{shredded wheat} You're probably not going to be a fan of this unless you like mushy oatmeal, but this particular breakfast has some really deep-rooted memories for me. My gram used to serve this to me with hot water and brown sugar. A couple weeks back, I saw a commercial for shredded wheat, and I just couldn't stop thinking about having some again (ah the power of advertising). My favourite way remains the same, hot water, a little brown sugar, and now I add just a dash of milk for some extra creaminess. It's so good and really filling! (Plus I like that the ingredient list is literally one word long: wheat.)

{pumpkin} Well, duh, it IS pumpkin season. Who isn't hooked on it? But I think I've taken one extra step over the edge this year. I cooked up my own pumpkin puree last year and it took a lot of time and work, so now that we're leaving, I have a lot of frozen pumpkin that I just can't toss in the garbage! I have to do something with it! Besides adding it to meat sauces (this is a sneaky way to get it into foods plus it acts like tomato sauce when you don't have any tomato sauce) and soup, I've also been baking things with it (cuz I bought a big bag of flour last month like a dummy). I love this pumpkin sandwich bread (not pumpkin bread like banana bread) and I've got my eyes on these pumpkin gingersnap cookies (because I love gingersnap cookies AND I have a box of molasses to use up, too -- naturally).

{gingerbread oreos} If this is the last Oreo cookie I ever get to eat, it was a pretty damn good choice. They were bought on a whim and now I feel like I need to smuggle a case load of them into Finland.

{clumpy cranberry spice granola} I really want to try this recipe. I love granola that's got clusters in it, but the only recipe I have (that makes really good granola) is way too full of sugar (let's face it, like all things, it's really good just because of the two types of sugar). I'd never thought to add egg whites to granola to create the clumping effect instead of using double the amount of sugar. At least with this idea, I can still tell myself this snack is relatively healthy (compared to store-bought).

{pecan butter tart ice cream} If you're not into candy cane ice cream (like me), you might be interested in this one. Butter tarts really feel like Christmas because of that whole cookie-exchange vibe this time of year gives off (I mean, what bake sale or exchange doesn't have a plate of tarts?). Besides, this ice cream really does butter tarts justice.

Friday, November 15, 2013

friday fixations

{multi-coloured iceberg} This is just too damn pretty.

{scroll down to riker} Super cute.

{ramon todo} I'm so fascinated with the work of this artist. Especially the bones and rocks.

{world's largest ball pit} This seriously makes me so happy, I feel like crying.

{airbnb} I really love the idea of this rental website. Choose your destination, then find a home or apartment to rent in your budget and the area you like. I find this so much more desirable than getting a hotel room.

{nordic christmas magazine} Just a little something to get myself primed for a nordic Christmas this year. I really like the ideas for non-traditional Christmas trees. Depending on the size of our apartment, I'll probably be going that route.

{restaurant day} Basically, anyone who wants to can open their own restaurant for a day. I have dreams of participating and making marshmallows (or something else that's entirely impossible to find in Finland). I'm just slightly bummed out that I'll be missing this one since I want to experience one before trying to do one, but there's another happening in February so I'll keep you posted on how that works out!

{pie chart} A handy little guide to pies.

{no buy gift guides} While it's really fun to start fantasizing about all the things we want at this time of year, the process of moving and getting rid of most of my stuff has sort of changed my perception of gifts. There are already countless numbers of things that I've gone through and gotten rid of that I had that I didn't need or even that I didn't like, and some of those things included gifts from friends and family. While I felt badly (for a moment, really) for getting rid of the item because of the intended sentiment behind the gift, getting rid of it also felt really freeing. I realized that I wasn't looking at something thinking, "Look at this great thing I have! The details of getting this gift are so vivid in my memory! What a great time!" I was mostly thinking, "Remember when this person gave this to me? Nope. But they did and here it is." There wasn't really any emotion behind it which I think really negates the whole point of this season (and giving in general). So this year, I'm far more receptive to memory gifts. A dinner out, a nice walk, a movie -- they don't have to be expensive or fancy moments, just moments that I can remember or have pictures of which I think is a far better gift than a something. I couldn't think of any gift guides that focused on this concept except for the two existing over at Design*Sponge. So read up on them, (20132012; 2011) and maybe start considering doing something a little different this year.

Monday, November 4, 2013

walking shoes

After much scurrying around, it became pretty obvious that we couldn't do anything remotely helpful to the process of moving to Finland in Edmonton, so we had to take an impromptu trip to Ottawa. We were there for a night and a day, and dummy here forgot the memory card for her camera, so I don't have many pictures of the trip. You're not missing much, though, as most of it was spent at the Finnish embassy or in taxis or in the House of Commons where pictures are not allowed anyway. (We super lucked out as it was in session that day and we had the opportunity to see the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition go at it over the most recent Canadian scandal. I won't bore you with details, but it was really exciting to be right there!)

Anyway, the Ottawa trip was pretty much the last straw for me. As someone who's always relied on thrift store shoes (I know. I should probably stay away from thrift shoes as I stay away from thrift underwear), I found myself pretty much out of shoe choices when deciding what to wear. Since the trip was so short, I had to pack ultra-light (and by that I mean, no suitcase) so my choices were made based on whether I wanted to lug a heavy bag across my shoulder all day or not. That meant I could only take one pair of shoes and they had to be on my feet. (Imagine how annoyed I was to find I was lugging around my big camera for absolutely no reason!)

Quite obviously, this was the second trip where I've been laid up with blisters, sore ankles and toes, and a limp exactly one hour after walking in shoes that were only meant to skip across a store for 20 minutes and then come off. Actually, I really couldn't have chosen the worst pair for this particular trip, either, as that pair is almost not even acceptable for skipping across a store for 20 minutes. Did they go with the clothes I'd be wearing the whole time? Sure! But they are practically like walking barefooted (little pebbles were my worst nightmare).

So that's it for me. I'll forego the shoes that work with everything, that are super cheap (the ones I wore to Ottawa still have the price tag on them -- $3.99), that are even super cute in support of comfort and all-day walkability. Nothing ruins a trip more than when your feet are aching and you still have to push yourself to walk another 2-3 hours. And nothing's worse than returning home and having to hobble around the house in loose socks, soft slippers, keeping your legs elevated for a day or more. So after what I would call an extensive search online (because I had to read through a multitude of comments), these are the brands and shoes that stood out the most to me.

Walking Shoes

{1} Clark's Wave.Trek: This shoe is first on my list since it's garnered the most positive reviews and the most mentions wherever I read about walking shoes. The Wave.Trek is designed with a rocker sole that conserves energy, absorbs shock, and cushions the joints which is probably perfect for walking over cobblestoned streets (of which I've been encountering a lot). I also like that it's waterproof as we found ourselves in cold, drizzly weather in Ottawa and literally had no where to go (unless we wanted to eat lunch again). The negative reviews center mainly on fit so I would definitely want to try these on and walk about the store a bit. My own negative is that I don't like how they look from the side (I don't like how the sole looks) and I wish there were more colour choices, but when I think about that, then walk to get a glass of water right now, I think, "Stop being so damned fussy!"

{2} New Balance 980 and New Balance 895 V2: The New Balance brand came up an awful lot in every comment section I read through, though I'm not yet decided on which type I like best. I love that the 980 is leather (I always seem to have a problem with my toe working its way through a fabric upper and leather is a really nice option in winter climates), and I like that the rubber is really subdued (meaning it doesn't have all the knobs and cleats and bumps sport shoes are all designed with) which makes it a little more of a stylish option. The few reviews I found on it were all positive, I just wish there were more reviews. The 895, however, has a lot of great reviews plus it's lightweight with a heel pillow and REVlite cushioning. It's also got more interesting colour options. I think I'd like to try them both on for a side-by-side comparison, though it might be smart to have two pairs in your suitcase to switch out during a trip. I find my feet get less tired if I change up my shoes every once in a while. And if the 980s are a little heavier, the 895s could go in the carry-on and the 980s could be your plane shoes (you don't have to remove your shoes through security anymore, thank god).

{3}  Merrell's Ascend Glove: Boasting that it's cushioned, lightweight, and durable makes this shoe sound perfect for travel. Not to mention the many times I came across the Merrell brand name during my searches. Breathable, washable, and good for long runs and treks over tough terrain, plus it looks like a fashionable sporty sneaker and comes in some pretty kicky colours (I'm starting to realize that if you're going to go with sporty sneaker, you might as well choose out-of-the-box colours so it looks like you were going more fashion than comfort the whole time, right?).

{4} Rockport TruWalkZero Pod Lace-up: These are lightweight, mimic the natural motion of walking, and have shock absorption that reduces foot and leg fatigue. As with the others, I chose them because the name kept coming up and I also liked the look of them. The sole itself looks tough and durable (read: thick) and the fact that it doesn't completely overwhelm the style makes all the difference. The colour choices are pretty nice, too. I think they would even look ok with a longer skirt, I mean, if you had to.

And I'm not the only one obsessed with sneakers right now! Check out this post by Miss Moss to find some kicky sneaks. What I like out of her choices are the Asics X Liberty London printed pair -- So sweet! And I surprised myself because I actually really dig the Nike Air Max bright yellow and beige pair. When I see them on someone, they look more like kicky loafers than chunky running shoes. What's really interesting is that the New Balance 980s show up on her list, too. They might be rising to the top of my pile!

Also, after walking on the extremely slippery streets of my neighbourhood (ONE snowfall. ONE. And I can't even walk out there), I've narrowed down on some winter walking shoes. I'm liking the Teva Forge Pro Winter Mid Insulated waterproof hiking boot and the Merrell Arctic Fox. Finland's a winter country as well, so I'll definitely need a good boot there, too (though we've talked to someone who lived in Finland and is now living in Edmonton, and she pretty much laughed her face off about how poorly Edmonton handles winter snow. I guess what we consider winter snow removal is almost a joke compared to what happens over there -- i.e. we're crap at it -- no surprise there.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

november desktop

I wanted something simple and graphic this month, so I came up with this. I can't believe it's November already. Time really flies when you've got a huge to-do list to burn through!


Friday, October 25, 2013

friday fixations: weird and wonderful stuff for halloween

{31 days of halloween} I've been so fascinated by these strange and spooky tales. Comprised of true stories, it's kind of like a macabre learning session.

{mica angela hendricks} This illustrator drew pictures of people's heads then let her 4-year-old daughter draw the bodies. What results is creepy but in a cute way.

{the richard balzer collection} Some crazy zoetrope gifs just cuz.

{harry potter butter beer} Get it at Starbucks or make it yourself (you know, take a rest from all that pumpkin you've been ingesting lately).

{halloween music} My Paper Crane provides a mix of vintage songs (she does one every year. It might be worth it to look through past mixes, too), while Hello Emma's got some newer spooky tunes, and Design Sponge went with some "lesser-known, low-key tunes" to inspire your halloween festivities.

{pumpkin templates} Still haven't carved one yet? Maybe these can help.

{skull decor} Everyone needs a stylish skull somewhere in their home, right?

{easy halloween-y recipes} Zombie boogers, mummy hot dogs, monster guts (although I would do these with pistachio pudding cuz I don't really like the idea of eating plain Cool Whip and food colouring -- good as it may be), bloody used bandaids, healthy boo bananas and orange pumpkins, and pretzel bones.

{stick figure costume} I'm very rarely entertained by baby costumes, but this one really made me chuckle.

Friday, October 18, 2013

diys i didn't: modern and simple halloween

simple halloween

First, since we're in the process of getting rid of (hopefully almost) everything we own, I don't want to get too carried away with Halloween; and second, I'm pretty obsessed with simple and modern Halloween decor this year anyway. Maybe my design mindset is already starting to turn Nordic.

Here're some DIYs that I thought would be simple and modern for an understated Halloween:

{1} Wired pumpkins: I like the casual yet graphic feel of these pumpkins. There's something about their imperfection that really interests me. The fact that they're black doesn't hurt either. Black and white and grey are my yes words right now.

{2} Printable cat decals: Not exactly spooky cat, but I think it's entirely all right if Halloween went cute for just one year (you'd be doing something really different from the normal which makes you... interesting!). Besides, you can't really go wrong with cats during Halloween, can you? (Final thought: you don't necessarily need to download the template. They're pretty easy to freehand.)

{3} Accordion paper folding: You're probably wondering what this even has to do with Halloween decor, but do you see the round folded object? Imagine that in a pale orange or black. Get it now? Don't add a stem (you don't have to get all literal with it), add a flameless candle instead.

{4} Paper spiderwebs: You know what's great about paper crafts and moving? When you're done with them, you can just chuck 'em in the recycling bin. That's what I like about these. Plus they'd look pretty spiffy in a window with the lights on at night.

{5} Printable halloween paper: I love these papers, but I wouldn't use them as wrapping paper (unless you give Halloween presents -- is that starting to become a thing? I don't like it). I'm thinking placemats, invitations (for that Halloween party you might have), diy foldable treat bags, boxes or origami characters, or a quick replacement for a modern art piece in your home (stick it right to the glass of the frame for a simple switch out). Here's another skull option and some cute ghosties if you need them.

{6} Black paper cats: Cut out three of these in varying sizes and set on a mantle or table top. Slightly Halloween-y but also extra modern and understated (looks like you fussed but you didn't).

{7} Office supply pumpkins: I love how easy these are and how stylish. Not everything about Halloween has to be gory. Pretty coloured or brass polka dots totally win me over (plus it's something I can accomplish in about 10 minutes without getting my hands dirty. And if you wanted to get real thrifty about it, just buy brass tacks and paint some random ones with nail polish. I haven't tried it, but I can't really see it not working. Even more thrifty, you could abandon the tacks and paint dots directly onto pumpkins. It won't give that neat 3D effect that tacks have, but it would do the job. In fact, I've decided I just want a few pumpkins on the steps this year and, even though I love this idea most, I'll probably just paint the dots on mine in the same colour paint as our front door. That way I won't feel guilty about having just purchased a bunch of tacks only to have to get rid of them in another month anyway).

{8} Wire Halloween sign: How about you pop one of these boo signs up in the spirit of this Christmas door idea that I've been dreaming about doing since last year (and please use little strips of pink washi tape to hold it up, too, cuz I super love that. OH! This plus cute cat decals? Hello, cute Halloween! Add some pink pumpkins with multi-coloured tacks and you're all set).

If understated and simple isn't your thing, head over to my fall and Halloween Pinterest board for more ideas!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

halloween desktop calendar (and how to use Photoshop brushes)

I'm feeling little ghosties this year. Admittedly, I sort of cheated with this wallpaper. It was extremely easy to put together because of this great little ghosties brush pack for Photoshop. I love Photoshop brushes, but I rarely get a chance to use them. This was one of those times when it seemed kind of necessary (my first ghosts were upside-down tulips and did not look good). Click here if you want some ghosties haunting your brushes, too. 

{note} A quick Google search for Halloween brushes will find you some really great sets that you can use for invitations, treat bags, and all sorts of things. Sometimes a person's first search for these types of crafts is for clip art but it can be a long hard search finding exactly what you need. Brushes offer a lot of options and are definitely way easier to use. If you're confused on how they work, I have Photoshop Elements, and all I have to do is click on the brush icon, then click on the style of brush at the top. There're some little white arrows to the side of the brushes available, and if you click on that, it takes you to a list of all the brushes you can use. Just click on Load Brushes... and go to the file where you've saved your ghostie brush set. Then you'll be able to choose from all the ghosts available in that set. There's probably a way to save it permanently in Photoshop, but it never works for me so I just load them as I need them. Brushes work as simply as choosing the one you want and stamping it. That's all! Brushes came into my life when I came across some really great sets like arrows, washi tape, and artistic inky brushes. They've proven really helpful for blog posts! I rarely go looking for clip art anymore.

Friday, October 11, 2013

diys i didn't: canadian thanksgiving


We're having a pretty relaxed Thanksgiving this year which means I'm not doing much in the way of decorating except cutting a few berry branches, but there are still a lot of great DIYs that could grace the table at any Thanksgiving meal.

{1} Favour flourettes: I think these look really pretty and, in orange, would look very pumpkin-y and in season. It's also a really easy paper craft that looks like you fussed when you didn't.

{2} Pinecone door decor: I like how this is different from the traditional wreath and you can dress it up with whatever ribbon colour goes with your own home (and my favourite part, pinecones are free!).

{3} Faux agate: This is a little bit more work than I would usually recommend, but I think it's too beautiful not to mention. I would make mine in browns, greys, or golds to tie in with traditional Thanksgiving colours and they'd be presented as gifts on each place setting.

{4} Painted stones: These are great graphically as they are, but if you painted the name of each person right on the rock, they could also double as the perfect natural-modern place card.

{5} Clay wishbones: This way everyone gets a chance at the wishbone! (I wish they weren't painted mint green and were left in their original white, but to each their own.)

{6} Brussel sprout wreath: I threw this in just for fun since I realize that it's one of those things that could either have you gagging or grinning. I just think it's pretty cute even though I love eating brussels and couldn't really imagine myself wasting good sprouts on a wreath (of all things), but it might be a fun addition for the family that doesn't like to eat their sprouts (sort of like Thanksgiving revenge).

What's on your menu this year? I'm going simple classic traditional (easy salt and pepper turkey -- my first fresh turkey ordered at a proper butcher shop; cheating with the stuffing by using Stove-top -- I know, but it's so good, right?; homemade cranberry sauce; roasted sweet potatoes; typical salad), but my biggest challenge right now is deciding on dessert. Classic pumpkin pie or apple cake? I probably shouldn't do both... or should I?

Friday, October 4, 2013

friday fixations

{this spider gif} You're lying if you say this doesn't make you smile!

{flower explosions} Who knew that destroyed flowers could be almost as pretty as whole flowers?

{bird flipbooks} These are so great.

{state flowers print} I love this idea. I just wish she'd do one of Canada.

{unicone} I don't know why I love this photograph as much as I do.

{paper hummingbird sculptures} I spotted the hummingbirds first, but all of his sculptures are pretty damn amazing.

{the nibble pan} Um, yes!

{caramel covered cheetos} I don't even like cheetos, but this recipe really intrigues me (and strangely really screams FALL to me).

{domino magazine} It's returning (October 8th)! The quarterly issues were such a let down for me since they were made up of articles from the older issues (and I still HAVE all the older issues). I'm very excited (and hopeful!) to see some new ideas! (I hope I can get it in Finland!)

{steve martin} In particular, this picture of him with bananas. (You should also follow him on twitter.)

{larry david's rules for dealing with people} No one calls people out on their shit quite like Larry David.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

october desktop

Remember our vacation to Helsinki? Well, you probably figured it was a little odd that we up and went to Finland for the weekend (of all places), but we had a good reason. Idle Husband had a job interview and it went really well...

And are you getting where this is going?

We're moving to Helsinki!

That's a little bit of the reason why I've been so quiet on here for so long. We've been doing so much thinking and talking and discussing everything involved with something like this. We came to the (natural) conclusion that it's not a death sentence and other than the fact that we have a lot of stuff to do and decide about before we go (I have a LOT of stuff to sell or get rid of), the whole thing will be a really great learning and growing opportunity for both of us (and honestly, the idea of a super fresh start really appeals to me).

So in the new year, expect more pictures and crafts Helsinki related!

To celebrate, the desktop this month is one of the little pictures I took in Helsinki (but I'll probably make up a Halloween-style desktop later in the month just cuz that's usually my primary method of getting into the spirit of fall).

Friday, September 20, 2013

helsinki, finland

As promised, here are a few photos from our (short) trip to Finland. I must have been enjoying myself a lot because I honestly didn't get THAT many pictures. I'm starting to feel more and more like picture taking gets in the way of the experience and Finland was definitely an experience.

The first thing of note was the water. There're so many islands. This was taken from a bridge to an island that we walked to from our hotel. I know it's just water and lots of people see this type of view every day, but for me, a prairie girl, this was really enjoyable.

This is kind of an odd picture, but the amount of pedestrians and bicyclists was pretty astonishing. I think I saw more of both just in the cab ride from the airport to our hotel on the first day we arrived than I've seen in all my six years of living in Edmonton. This part (the clearly marked pedestrian and bicycle lanes) was my favourite. As a bicycler in Edmonton, one of my pet peeves is that people don't follow the rules of the road when they're walking. So you're constantly weaving back and forth trying to avoid pedestrians (and don't even get me started if you encounter two groups going separate ways). It seemed to us that a large portion of Helsinki was really bicycle accessible and the few people we met didn't even own a car, they just biked everywhere. Roads didn't have a bicycle lane, either, they had a smaller side street (so to say) separate again from car traffic. Much much safer than some of the lanes here. Our hotel also offered bikes for guests to borrow which is something I've never seen in any other hotel.

This was outside a pretty big shopping centre and another example of the number of people using bikes as a primary source of transit. At the time, we thought that some of the bikes weren't even locked up, but I guess they have this little lock device that attaches to the back wheel, so you don't have to look for a pole or a rack to latch up to. I feel like if this lock were available here, thieves would just pick up your bike and carry it away (or throw it in their truck), but it seemed to be working out pretty well for people in Helsinki. There's also a lot of public transit like the little tram you can see in the background plus buses and a subway system.

The overall city feeling is completely different from Athens (since that's the only other European city I can compare to). There are a lot of buildings and apartments and offices, but for some reason, it didn't feel as overwhelming and smothering as it does in Athens. It felt a lot less congested and (dare I say) prettier. There're parks almost on every street and trees almost everywhere. We also loved that historical buildings were nestled in with modern architecture (as seen here in these two examples).

If the parks weren't enough, there was always some sculpture or statue around to look at (this is just one of a few -- probably the most interesting).

We have to talk Angry Birds for a moment. It's their home country so you're definitely going to find an overwhelming amount of Angry Birds stuff. Here's some Angry Birds pop, but you could also find cakes, ice cream, lotion, cups, rugs, juice, even coffee! There's even an Angry Birds amusement park somewhere, but we didn't have time to visit (and I don't think we would have anyway since I'm probably the only one in the world who's not a fan of the game).

Speaking of food, I really wanted to try local cuisine, but it was insanely easy to find hamburgers and Italian restaurants versus the reindeer and mushrooms I'd read about before we went. We did have the amazing opportunity to visit Luomo which describes itself as a restaurant that specializes in "innovative and modern cuisine with a foundation on classic gastronomy." It's pretty fair to say that I've never in my life eaten at a fancier restaurant or had better food. If anyone knows of a similar restaurant in Edmonton, please let me know! After that meal, we kinda felt like if you're going out to a restaurant, you should go somewhere amazing that specializes in things you'd never cook or replicate at home. It should be an experience instead of just a place to stuff your face. If such a restaurant existed here, we'd definitely save up the whole year just to enjoy their menu on our anniversary or other special occasion.

So I have to share the pictures, they're a little hard to see because it was getting all moody in there in the evening. We went all out with the seven course meal since we didn't really know what anything was. Unfortunately, we failed to take pictures of the amuse bouche and the few palate cleansers that were offered in between these dishes so really, the seven course meal was actually eleven. Each dish was cleared and a new dish presented and explained once everyone at the table was ready. It was a four hour meal, understandably.
From left to right, top to bottom: fried fish with a pistachio soup (or cream); beets in various forms with goats milk (the gelatinous goats milk was the one thing I absolutely did not like. It was like not-quite-cooked egg white. I couldn't get around the texture); lobster and dill with horseradish ice cream (I believe); foie gras with honey and other assorted elements I can't remember (and even at the time, we were all like, what did she say this was?! It's delicious!); fish and scallop soup; wild boar with apple along with an apple and vegetable soup with a thyme foam; mushroom ice cream with chocolate fudge (this was THE best. Who knew mushroom went so well with chocolate?! And yes the ice cream REALLY tasted like mushroom). Also enjoyed, but not pictured, were a raspberry and blueberry napoleon, mushroom toasts, a little jar of panna cotta (I loved the presentation of this so I'm super bummed we forgot to take a picture), and a sorbet (of which neither of us can remember the exact flavour. Something tangy and refreshing. I just remember the feeling it invoked). This is the menu we were presented with, so you can see why we just went with everything instead of trying to figure stuff out on our own.

I did some shopping, too. I didn't get much since we packed extremely light. It was fun to see Marimekko patterns in grocery stores for a really good price (I picked up some cute napkins). I also found a store that was equivalent to our Home Depot and all of the fixtures and wallpapers and such were so much more modern than here. Let's put it this way, there was not a single antiqued or brassed item to be found. There was also another store that was sort of styled after IKEA with a lot of neat modern fixtures, furniture, and housewares. And one of my favourite stores was Tiger which was kind of an everything store. It had super cute stationery, gifts, bath stuff, food items, and more. I'd probably be in that store at least once a month if we had something similar here.

And that was Finland for us. I really wish we had had more time. I feel like there was so much more to see and do, and I definitely would have liked to sit on the docks with an ice cream and lazily stare at the sea for a whole day.

Friday, September 6, 2013

friday fixations

{finland} We're going on another mini vacation to Helsinki! I know Finland's kind of a weird choice, but it just worked out that way (for professional reasons, mostly). I'll be sure to have some pictures for you when we get back because, if you're anything like me, you're totally wondering what the heck Finland's all about, too.

{oamui} You should know by now that I love me a good gif. I love the dancing polar bear.

{rachelryle} I must be on an animation kick cuz these are amazing and so so cute, too!

{fore-edge paintings} As if old books couldn't get more beautiful, I find out about these.

{fat but fit} I've always thought that BMI was a stupid way to measure someone's fitness since it doesn't take into account anything other than height and age. There are so many other factors that go into a person being healthy or not healthy, and it's about time the medical community started looking towards finding a better method.

{peas and carrots} Specifically, Greek mom's peas and carrots. I'm just going to assume that it's mostly the salt and home-pressed olive oil that make these super delicious because that's usually all there is to Greek cooking. Nevertheless, I still have to get the recipe cuz questions concerning what should we have for dinner since having them have been answered (in my mind) with, "just a big bowl of peas and carrots is fine for me, actually." And rice. Yes. The rice was delicious, too.

{budgie eating things} Hermes' big thing now is to insist on getting to sample whatever it is I'm eating. It's become some sort of a parlor trick as everyone has to see what new thing he's decided he really needs to taste (this morning's treat? Some Caprice). And don't worry about his health. I don't think he's really eating much of the stuff. Just crumbling it off in his beak. But I could be wrong because the foods that particularly interest him seem to make him stop everything he was doing and immediately eat a bunch of seeds soon after his little taste.

{cereal boxes} At first I thought these were a really awesome art project that I would totally consider purchasing. Like, have a few of these on a wall in the kitchen, so neat! And then I saw the price tag and thought, WTF! Are they out of their friggin' minds?! Is this some sort of joke?! So now this totally counts as the easiest and cheapest DIY you'll ever do for yourself ever. Plus you can use the cereal that YOU love the most AND you'll have a bunch of whole boxes leftover afterwards for snackin' (definitely less than their price tag). (Also, because they pissed me off so much with their ridiculous pricing, can I say that each "specimen" box's cereals make ABSOLUTELY no sense together at all?! If you're going to have raisin bran, grape nuts, and shredded wheat in a box, don't put fruit loops, fruity pebbles, lucky charms, etc all the other kid-friendly cereals in there, too. I have to assume they have very limited cereal choices which is weird cuz we have whole cereal aisles here. There's definitely more cereal to choose from than just those types and definitely enough adult cereal vs kid cereal to do boxes of each variety. I just realized I've talked too much about cereal. I guess I'm pretty passionate about it. Or maybe it's the pricing injustice -- and no discernible reason for such a price -- that's got me all wound up.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

september desktop

Here's probably one of the last leafy pictures I'll get this year. Which is pretty fine with me as I'm really looking forward to things cooling down and turning orange. And pumpkins. And cinnamon-y spices in the air. Ah, September. I love you just as much as I love spring.

august break finale

31: smile

Got a bouquet of flowers and how does that not make anyone smile?

30: sign

A sign that the Greek parents have arrived. More Greek food in the house. These cans of oil kind of shocked me when they were revealed out of their wooden crate. I don't know why I thought they would arrive in tiny artisan bottles when all I've ever seen olive oil in in Greece are huge knee-high gasoline-style cans.

29: your fave thing

Mini nutellas (single servings?).

28: smell

Movie theatre popcorn.

27: number

Just some fridge magnet numbers.

26: YES

Spotted what looks like a chokecherry bush on my walk in the morning. I'd like to pick it clean for jam if it is.

25: Sunday morning

Mom gave me a huge zucchini so what better way to use it than to put it in a chocolate zucchini cake. I need to find a better recipe, though.

24: hear

I originally did a little video of bird talking but it wouldn't upload, so I got a picture of my flute instead. I should really sell it. It makes me sad when things aren't getting used the way they should be.

23: sacred

I've had this smiling Buddha since high school.

22. midday

It's kinda hard to see but there's a huge spider hanging there. Our yard has been completely over-run by spiders this year. Big huge brown and white ones about the size of a loonie or twonnie. Other than the odd one making a web in a door or walkway, we haven't really been bothered by them. This one's been living above our garage door all summer, not bothering us at all, but then she suddenly decided to change the angle of her web which required her to put long support threads attached to the pavement in front of the door. We relocated her to the back of the garage.

21: something old

Just a pic of my gram on a motorbike. No biggie.

And that's the end of the August break!

The August Break 2013