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Archive for June, 2009

It’s a zoo in here!

June 19th, 2009

As some of you know, we rescued a bumblebee a little while ago. The latest visitor to our humble abode is here for a longer stay… This sweet mama robin has set up house right in the nook of our front porch:

I’m pretty astounded that she chose this exact spot, since it’s relatively high-traffic. Even if we tiptoe in or out, she still sometimes startles and leaves; we’ve been afraid that she might abandon eggs or babies, so we’ve become pretty stealthy with our exits and entries!

And yahoo, here is an amazing shot that John managed to catch with his schmancy camera-on-a-monopod while Mom was out hunting:

I can’t believe how cute these buggers are with their tufty eyebrows and teeny wing/arms. It’s hard not to emit an ‘awwww’ when we see their little heads peep up for food.

More updates to come!

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Lightning Round with Karley from She Sews Lovely

June 16th, 2009

Welcome to a new feature here at m on the side — where I’ll spotlight inspiring & creative folks. Lightning Round is just as it sounds: a rapidfire set of 20 questions; if this were in person, I’d have an eggtimer ticking in the background! Artisans and artists are already so dang BUSY that I want to keep this as quick, painless and fun as possible.

The lovely and talented Karley Tabak of She Sews Lovely has kindly agreed to be my guinea pig :)
And now, without further ado…

1. When and how did you learn to sew?
It’s funny – I can’t remember ever not being able to sew. My mom sewed & we always had a machine in our house. I guess I started by helping her out with little projects here and there. When I was a teenager I got a job at the local Fabricland store & took a “fashion” course in high school where we made pyjama pants. It kind of took off from there!Eco Coffee Sleeve - Sock Monkeys

2. How did you land on eco-sleeves as your main etsy product?
Good question!! I have no idea! I’ve always tried to be environmental & recycle things. I wanted to make something useful. I started making eco coffee sleeves for myself, my family & my friends. One Christmas I gave everyone a sleeve and my mom told me that I should sell them! So I opened my Etsy shop!

3. You live in Montreal… what’s your favourite thing about it?
My favourite thing about Montreal is the amazing amount of culture here. It’s such a multi-cultural city with tons of festivals, events & music. There is always something going on & never a dull moment.

4. Introvert or extrovert?
I’m a Gemini so I’m both! I have a split personality. I can be extremely shy & introverted. Sometimes I don’t even want to leave our apartment!! But I can also be very outgoing, energetic & fun. It just depends on my mood!

5. I know you’re a huge music-head; got any suggestions for us?
Oooh yes!! A wonderful Canadian band just released a new album. The band is Ohbijou and their new album is called Beacons. It’s available for download right now on iTunes. The singers are sisters from my hometown, Brantford Ontario and their music is just magical. Highly recommended. If you like this album, get the older albums, too! They are just as delicious.

6. What was the first concert you ever went to?
Weird Al Yankovic at the Sanderson Centre in Brantford with my mom & my brother. My mom bought us Alapalooza t-shirts.

7. Chocolate or vanilla?
I’m a huge chocoholic – I eat a bit (more like, a LOT) of chocolate every day. BUT, I don’t like chocolate ice cream.

8. How did you choose to become an ESL teacher?
To be honest, I don’t think I will end up being an ESL teacher!! When I was in high school I loved English & writing, so I applied to journalism school. By the time I graduated, I didn’t want to be a traditional reporter. I wanted to make documentary films, which is tough. When I moved to Montreal I got a job teaching ESL so I went back to school to get the qualifications I needed to continue in the field. Next year I’ll have my teaching certification but we are leaving Quebec, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a job teaching ESL in Ontario. Right now I’m thinking about getting my Masters & Ph.D. and teaching at the college or university level. But who knows!! I’m all over the place – I’m interested in EVERYTHING so it’s hard to pick just one thing to focus on.

9. Ideal lazy Sunday activity?
Going for a drive. We don’t have a car here in Montreal so we really miss going for a nice drive out in the country, stopping at a convenience store & getting an ice cream.

Custom Felt Baby Name Book (5-LETTER NAME)

10. Congrats on your engagement! Tell us a little bit about your awesome fiancé…
Aaron is the guy who can answer any question – he knows EVERYTHING and that comes in very handy since I have the worst memory. He’s a computer guy, a photo guy, an east-coast guy, a yo-yo guy, a Linux guy, a music guy & a know-it-all guy (but not in a bad way). He’s also tall, a great cook & deserves props for putting up with my (sometimes) crazy moods.

11. How did you and Aaron meet?
Aaron & I met while we were both living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I was there finishing up my journalism degree & he was there looking for a job. He grew up in Yarmouth, NS and got his computer diplomas there. He moved to Halifax to find work & luckily did. We met through mutual friends & through music! I think we first met at a concert by my friends The Reason. After about a year of dating there we moved to Montreal and have been here for almost 3 years now!

12. Dream job and dream location?
My dream job would be a documentary filmmaker or a writer of some sort. OR I think I would make a great college or university prof. Ideally I would like to do something that has a positive impact in the world. I have also thought about working with kids who have learning disabilities. I need a schedule that changes every day, or I get bored. I could never do a 9-5 thing. Dream location would be on the ocean in Nova Scotia. Aaron would love that too, and we have looked at houses out there. They are beautiful!!! But unfortunately the job market is not so great out there.

13. Got any party tricks?
I can make a mean martini! Is that a trick?

14. Who would you thank if you won an Oscar?
I would thank my Nan (my great-grandmother) who passed away last year. We disagreed fiercely on the existence of God, but she loved & supported me anyway.

15. Does Beta (your adorable wiener dog) have any party tricks?
Oh yes!! She can do sit, stay, lie down, up (she stands up on her back paws and looks silly), and my favourite – shake a paw.

Indie Elegance Felt Pin

16. If you had the time, what’s something you’d work at improving or learning?
I would love to improve my French. It’s funny – we moved here because we both went to school in French and wanted to practice the language. However, they make it kind of difficult to do that here! Every time you go somewhere and speak French, they can tell that it’s not your first language and they immediately switch to English! It can be very frustrating when you want to practice. So I haven’t had much of a chance to improve, unfortunately.

17. Most often visited website(s)?
Every day I check my email on Google, see what’s going on on Twitter & Facebook, I read the news on CBC, look at Etsy, the weddingplans community on livejournal, my school stuff on Concordia’s website, and IndieNorth’s great site.

18. What is your kryptonite?
My weakness is that I am usually incredible stressed out & have a hard time relaxing. I’m always go-go-go!

19. What are you most proud of right now?
I’m most proud of the places I’ve been. I love travelling and as soon as I graduated high school, I left my small town. Since then I’ve lived in Nova Scotia, Sweden & now Quebec. I’ve travelled around Europe, been to Russia, and we’re planning on going to Iceland for our honeymoon. Where I’m from, people go to high school, getting married & start having babies. They never leave the town! So I’m very proud that I’ve been able to get out and see (a part of) the rest of the world.

20. Finish this sentence: “I am…”
… hungry!!

Just as a post-script, the idea for Lightning Round came about like this: a couple of months ago, I was featured on lovely rikrak’s blog, and the post included a giveaway. Well, Karley entered and won a shirt of her choice from my shop! She and I had a back-and-forth, and somewhere in there, she agreed to send along a photo of her wearing the prize… voilà — taken by fiancé Aaron of InstantKamera:

Karley wears mchen! by instantkamera_photography.

As a thanks, I wanted to feature Karley’s shop, and after some brainstorming… ta-da! I hope you like. I have a feeling these are gonna be fun fun fun. Thanks again Karley for jumping in with both feet!

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My crooked legs brought me to Westfest

June 15th, 2009

This past weekend was Westfest, a 6-year-old outdoor annual arts festival in one of Ottawa’s hottest ‘hoods, Westborough. Tens of thousands of visitors enjoy this family-friendly and free event, which features all sorts of creative talents — anything from spoken word to visual media, from theatre to performance art — and it is driven by one tireless and passionate Elaina Martin, founder and producer of the annual mindblowing weekend, and her army of volunteers.

As a music-head, I tend to get most excited about the singers and groups who come through. Below are a few highlights from Saturday and Sunday…

I had seen Lake of Stew earlier this spring, and was keen to see them again. They did not disappoint — here they are, performing “Down, Down, Down”, in front of a mini-mosh pit:

On Sunday, producer Dave Draves showed us his performing side, and was joined by friends on stage. I shot this video of lovely local singer/songwriter Jill Zmud, who will soon be releasing her first cd, performing “Reconcile” with Dave, Chris Page, and Christine and Jerusha from Ottawa’s Voices of Praise Choir:

The highlight of my weekend was The Acorn, who headlined Sunday evening. I’d seen them a handful of times, but it’d been about a year and a half since I’d last seen the local sweethearts play; since then, they’d gotten a shout-out on Kanye West’s blog (!!!) and did a European tour… and well, they rocked my socks. They seemed incredibly together, comfortable, spot on, and still keen about the music and performance. I’ve always been awed by Jeffrey Malecki’s drumming (so intricate, deliberate, understated) so wasn’t sure what a second percussionist would add, but Pat Johnson put me in my place. Everything was just so. Here’s my 5′ 3″-view of them performing “Brokered Heart”:

What an inspiring event, all ’round… I’ll be back there for Year 7!

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