My New Etsy Shop: Invitations

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Forgive me for a little shameless self-promotion. I’m pretty excited because today I sold my first item on Etsy. I opened my shop, Isobel’s Invitations and Designs, there about three weeks ago but hadn’t advertised it yet. This is why I was so surprised and pleased when the order came in. I decided to start the shop after creating the invitations for my son’s and daughter’s birthdays from scratch on my PC. I thought “What the heck?” I could offer this service to my friends and other people as well. It would be a fun thing to do on the side.

I don’t have a lot in my store yet, but I’m hoping to get a few completely custom orders that will allow me to build up my inventory. So, if you have anything coming up which requires custom invitations, announcements, or business/personal cards, get in touch with me through my shop. I can do designs for both children and adults. I will offer a discount to the first 10 people who place an order and in turn, I only ask that I can use those designs (minus your personal information) on my storefront. The designs are sent, anywhere in the world, to you as high quality PDF files which you can then print or have printed anywhere.

Here’s an example of the most popular one so far:

Movie Party

Please drop by for a visit. :)

Happy Easter

To all of my friends and readers who are celebrating, very happy Easter to you all. In celebration, I offer you a piece of music that is one of my favourites from Handel’s Messiah. The truth of the matter is, I love the entire Messiah. It has become a tradition to listen to in my house at Christmas and Easter. I know that everyone has their favourite version – mine happens to be the one conducted by Andrew Davis in Toronto with the Toronto Symphony, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and some of the most beautiful voices: Kathleen Battle, Florence Quivar, John Aler, and Samuel Ramsey.

Here, listen to Samual Ramsey’s amazing bass voice as he belts out beautifully The Trumpet Shall Sound.

Enjoy!

Pysanky

PysankyI am very fortunate to have a dear friend who immigrated to Canada from Ukraine about 17 years ago. Today we went out to her place in the countryside to learn how to paint Easter eggs the Ukrainian way. I have always admired the beautiful Pysanky (seen at left) and imagined it took great pains and skill to create them. I didn’t realize, however, until trying to paint one myself, just how much time and skill it actually took. Needless to say, I’d need about 20 years more practice to get half way good enough, but it was so much fun trying the technique and seeing what we could come up with.

In order to create a pattern, beeswax is used to preserve the underlying colour. You have to plan out your design very carefully and know what part of the design you want to be what colour. You slowly layer the colours – light to dark – and bit by bit your design appears as you drawing with wax and then dip the eggs in the dye. I tried to use the Kistka, which is a tool like a stylus, in which you melt small amounts of wax and then the wax seeps through to a point like ink in a pen and allows you to draw on the egg. I found it very difficult and switched to a simple wax crayon. Although the crayon was easier, it also doesn’t allow for much precision and fine, intricate work that the Kistka does.

It is thought that Pysanky originated from ancient times although no examples exist now due to the fragile nature of eggshells. The Christian era designs are the ones with which we are most familiar. Symbolism is at the heart of the designs combining both Pagan spring symbols and Christian resurrection elements. The more symbolic the egg, the more it is revered. As well as being decorative, certain designs can make an egg sacred and it is believed that they have healing and fertility powers. For more on the history and symbolism of Pysanky, please read this in-depth article.

Here are some photos of our morning and some examples of what we came up with.

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What a beautiful experience and great memories made. Thank you to my friend, Lena, and Happy Easter to all.

Tea Party

My daughter’s school ran a “flea market” this week. Families donated household items and clothing they no longer wanted and the students got some time to buy things for themselves. Yesterday my daughter borrowed $3 from a friend and bought me a lovely creamer and a vase. Today (after I gave her $5 for herself plus the $3 to pay back her friend) she came home with a bag full of newswrapped items. She was so excited as she handed me the bag. “For you, Mommy!” I unwrapped two teacups, one coffee  cup, a creamer and a sugar – all Royal Albert bone china in the Mayflower pattern. Now, it could have been a soap dish made in China, and I would have been thrilled with it because she thought of me. But these are truly beautiful cups and I can’t wait to have a mother/daughter tea party this weekend complete with homemade scones. I think she deserves it for being an absolute doll. :-)

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The Cat in the Box

No, this is nothing to do with Schrodinger. This cat is definitely still alive… No question. This cat happens to be Minerva; one of my three. She’s keen on boxes… of any size… even ones she can only get her head into. Like a cereal box, for instance. Once, when she was a kitten, she molded herself into a Tupperware. She kind of looked like she’d been vacuum packed into it. I never really know, from hour to hour, where I’ll find her next and it’s often a source of great amusement. Although today’s “find” wasn’t as funny as some days, it definitely brought a smile to my face – something much needed on a snowy April day. Amongst the chaos and noise of the daycare (7 active kids), I found her sleeping soundly in the costume box. Well, why not? It’s like the Hilton of boxland.

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Anomaly

It is 25 Celsius in Ottawa today. It’s balmy and “smells” warm. It’s lovely, really, but is a complete anomaly. Tomorrow will be 8 and rainy dropping to 1 by mid afternoon and snowing. This could be damaging, psychologically. I think of all the new Canadians coming from warm and steady climates wondering what the heck they signed up for. We, who have been here for years, have learned… Well… We’ve learned to have well stocked liquor cabinets.

All jokes aside, as much as I’m dreading the drop in temperature, this balmy break has given me that much needed whiff of what’s to come and I love it!!

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Friends Who Publish

Happy Friday, everyone! Today, I have a different kind of post. It’s one of great celebration. I have two friends who have both published this week on Amazon and I want to let you know all about it. It is especially encouraging to me as an aspiring writer to see friends actually publishing! When you first start out, publishing seems far away and rather intimidating. The whole process of finishing a novel, editing it, formatting it, and finding a place to publish it (whether through a publisher or on your own) is not an easy task and sometimes rather painful. Sure, loads of people have published but no one I know, personally, has done it. But these two did and they even survived!

Spring Fever and Black Chocolate

If you’re interested in reading some hot, steamy romance, you won’t want to miss Spring Fever and Black Chocolate by Rose D. Franklyn. She’s new to the genre but sure to make a big splash. I was lucky enough to whet my appetite (so to speak) with a preview of this book and I’m dying to see how it all plays out. It’s fantastic! The story will be one of 4 in a series of book entitle Sex and the Seasons. I’m sure after this long cold winter we could all use some heating up and this is just the way to do it. Franklyn’s book is available in paperback or for the Kindle (click the cover photo to take you to Franklyn’s book on Amazon.com).

From Stardust to Auburn Hair

If you like romance but are interested in something less steamy and somewhat more…supernatural, you might want to check out From Stardust to Auburn Hair, written by Maher M. Mansour. It is an intriguing and romantic short story; a tale of the unlikely relationship between a witch and a scientist “that ventures into the fabric of time, unfolds it then folds it back again. An affair of the heart and mind, spiced with a pinch of the occult and a dash of imagination…”. Mansour’s book is available from Amazon.com for the Kindle as well (again, click the cover photo to go to Amazon).

Of course, you could read both which is what I plan to do. ENJOY!!!

Oatmeal Squares

Oh Jeepers! I’ve just realised how far behind I’ve gotten in my posting. Well, time to remedy that. Some days nothing jumps out at me as inspirational but I guess some days I’m just not paying as close attention as I should be.

Every day at about this time, I’m usually preparing a snack for the ravenous hoard who will be arriving home from school in an hour. By 3:30 there are 7 kids in my house and 3 of them need gluten-free foods.

Gluten-free isn’t really a problem these days as there are loads of good options in the grocery store and a kazillion recipes on the Internet to choose from. I usually opt for the easier recipes though and sometimes it takes a while to find one for which I have the correct ingredients.

Today it suddenly dawned on me that my favourite treat from when I was a kid is actually gluten-free – my mom was  way ahead of her time. I quickly threw the ingredients together and felt very happy reclaiming this treasure from the past. The fact that it’s gluten-free is definitely a bonus but isn’t the reason for today’s post. Just happy memories.

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For the recipe and to read another person with fond memories of these squares, see this article by Gwendolyn Richards in the Calgary Herald.

Dog Walk

Today I had an opportunity to go with my neighbour while she walked her beautiful dog, Cooper. He’s a large Golden Retriever with a lot of energy but very well behaved. We walked on a nearby path in the greenbelt. It was an absolutely stunning day and the woods were quiet and peaceful. As well as being a cat lover, I also love dogs. This walk was a nice treat.

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Thanks to Ewa for taking so many great shots.