March 22, 2011

Over the top!

Ok, I lied about the cupcake thing. Or, rather, I have gotten over my temporary case of cupcake-overload. Yesterday, this photo was easy to ignore. Today, it's impossible.

Behold: the "Coffee & a Donut" cupcake. Mocha cake + mocha buttercream + a powdered donut. It's so wrong, it's right.

I made 48 of those babies for the MAWA "Over the Top" party last weekend (and a few more for...ahem... quality control purposes). The recipe for the Amazing Mocha Buttercream can be found on my food blog "Relish".

March 21, 2011


I am thrilled to report that the two pieces that I donated to MAWA raised $170 at the auction; "As the ocean..." went for $100 and "In Her Position" (oddly, the larger of the two) went for $70, both to the same lucky bider. I am so happy that they will be going to a good home!

My collage and ACEO were just two of over 150 artworks up for auction. Some of the works by better-known artists went for hundreds and hundreds of dollars and the bidding got to be quite frenzied on those. I got caught up in some of the excitement and bid on two paintings. I gave up on the first one when it hit $120, but won my second (and fave of the two) for only $60. It is an unmounted watercolour by local artist Jessica MacCormack and will add a charming, slightly-subversive touch to our living room.

In other news, if I never see another cupcake again...


March 18, 2011

Art or cupcakes? Yes, please!

This Sunday, for the third (third?!?!) year in a row, I will be participating in the MAWA “Over the Top” art auction and cupcake party, both as an artist and a baker. As in previous years, I have donated 2 collages for the sale; here’s a sneak peek:

The one on the left, “In Her New Position” is made up of several vintage elements and has a little piece of Winnipeg included. The basis of the collage is an old postcard depicting the now-defunct Portage Avenue Eaton’s department store as it appeared in the 40s/50s. I am hoping that that connection will make someone want to bid on the piece. I absolutely love it, but I just might be a little biased…

The second piece that I have donated is one of my altered playing cards, tarted up with a vintage map background and a shadowbox frame. The quote reads: “As the ocean is never full of water, so is the heart never full of love.” I know, right? The card is actually one of two that were made. #1 went to my dear friend and ex-coworker (and mermaid fan), Tina.

As for the cupcakes, those are yet to be made. This year there will be over 1000 cupcakes at the party, so I am going to have to do something to stand out….like mocha cupcakes, topped with mocha buttercream and mini donuts. Get it? Coffee and a donut!

For more info on the “Over the Top” event, including how to purchase tickets, please visit MAWA’s website. The party is always a ton of fun, and it’s a great way to hob-nob with the artsy crowd, buy some fabulous art and, of course, eat your weight in cupcakes! There is a preview of all of the auction pieces tomorrow from 10-4, and then the bidding starts on Sunday at 2!

March 17, 2011

Let's start the bidding at $50

Bidding is now open to the public for the Habitat for Humanity ReStore ReCreate art sale silent auction.

To participate in the event, artists had to take items from the ReStore and recycle/upcycle them into something new and fabulous. I spent my project allowance on a vintage school chair and a ball of jute twine and came up with this:

The seat and back of the chair have been decoupaged with pages from a vintage gardening book, flowers cut from a slightly younger (read: 1960s) gardening book and assorted pieces of ephemera from my own collection. After placing all of the elements with good ol' Mod Podge*, the chair was given several coats of sealant and satin varnish, and then the legs were wrapped with the jute twine. I am so happy with how it turned out and have since purchased a second chair to make-over (and keep)!

Auction items are available for viewing and bidding at the ReStore on Archibald until Saturday. For those who can’t make it down, all of the pieces can also be viewed online and bids will be accepted by phone until Saturday at 4pm. For more information and a link to the auction’s Flickr page, please visit the Habitat for Humanity (Manitoba) website.

Update: as of last night at 6pm, my little chair was already up to $75! I can't wait to see how high it will go...

* There I go giving away all my secrets!

March 15, 2011

Beat the Clock

I have yet to meet an artist who doesn’t work right up to the deadline, including myself. There must be something about the added element of working against the clock that helps us squeeze out every last little bit of creativity. And, it can’t be denied that finishing a project under the wire feels just that much more satisfying. It’s almost the same sensation as finishing a race; you can’t tell if you’re happier for your accomplishment, or just happy to not be running anymore.

Last night I had one of those experiences. For the third year in a row, I found myself working on my submission for the MAWA annual fundraising art auction on the night before the due-date. I’ve known about it since last year, but that didn’t stop me from once again procrastinating myself into a night-before frenzy of cutting and gluing.

Thankfully, this year’s pieces came together surprisingly fast, thanks to a few well-chosen* bits of vintage ephemera and a last-minute burst of inspiration. Some collages have been known to put up a fight, but these ones just kinda fell into place. I was feeling so cocky, that I even had time to throw together a third.

I will post pics of my two MAWA pieces, plus the “bonus” one, later this week. Until then, here’s a sneak peek at one of them, taken at midnight in the abysmal lighting of my living room. One day, I will have a sun-drenched loft studio, but until then I will work at the coffee table while watching the telly and you will have to put up with grainy, low-light shots taken on my Blackberry.

Detail of "In Her New Position", vintage images and text.

* Oh, who am I kidding? I ran downstairs to my scary craft room on a commercial break and grabbed the first 5 things that caught my eye. Thank goodness the first 5 things were a vintage touch-typing book, 2 vintage postcards, vintage Mother’s Day card and a vintage pattern envelope. Had I looked to the left instead of the right, things could have gone horribly wrong.

Funny Girl

Y'all know I was kidding with that last post, right?

Just checking.

March 11, 2011

(un)Funny Girl

This week’s Winnipeg Girl Geek Blog Challenge assignment is to create a satirical or funny post. You would think that a call to humour like that would be right up my alley, but, alas, nothing could be further from the truth. As far as challenges go, this one is by far the most...well, challenging.

Although I am known to many as a “funny girl”, I am really a very serious person. In fact, those who know me best would describe me as “solemn”, “somber” and even “dour”. Sure, I’ve been known to crack a joke or two, but it doesn't come easy to me. My lame displays of comedy are simply an attempt to hide my own lack of social graces and inherent humourlessness. Behind my occasional smiling, joking facade lies a wounded, tortured soul; Levity doesn’t come easy to me, my friends. At best, my efforts at humour are a thinly-veiled attempt to lighten the mood and, in turn, distract others from witnessing from my own inner-turmoil and discomfort.

But, that said, I have been asked to provide “a post with a personality” and that is exactly what I shall do. Being one of few words, I will let the following photograph speak for me.


The Minions of Craftiness

What comes to mind when I say the word “minion”?

This guy?

Or, these guys?

Well, it’s time to change that. From now on, when you hear “minion”, think crafty minion”.

Tomorrow will mark my debut as a Crafty Minion and, I gotta say, I’m getting kinda (really!) excited. From 11-5, I’ll be setting up a table in Aqua Books (alongside some of Winnipeg’s coolest crafters) at one of the city’s premiere handmade events. In addition to the shopping, music will be provided by Songwriter-in-Residence Jenny Berkel, and Eat! Bistro will be open (and serving up platefuls of fabulousness).

Visit the event Facebook page for more details and photos. Aqua Books is located at 274 Garry Street. Admission to the sale is free!

From the Aqua Books website:

Crafty Minions - The Handmade and Vintage Sale

23 vendors and music by Songwriter-in-Residence Jenny Berkel

One of Winnipeg's biggest indie craft sales features the city's hottest established and emerging crafty superstars including Head in the Oven Creations, Marathon 1981, Lady Tees, Just the Goods, Julrei, Midkid, Paper Girl Productions, Mrs. Glockenheimen, Velvet Vixen , Tumanov Regalia, Inspyred Creations, Dizzie Dame, Hello Goddess, Boomerang 360, Velvet Jeanie , Of Course You Can, Echo Creations, CJ Tennant, Husavik, Sea Bee, and more. Banish all thoughts of rows and rows of crocheted slippers or washcloths or ponybead key chains...think, instead, vintage-inspired handmade dresses, leather and ribbon wrist corsets, funky jewelry made of vintage silverware, tiny ceramic apartment buildings and octopus tentacles, retro aprons hand-embroidered with sassy 80s pop lyrics, handmade natural skincare luxuries, wall-art created from bass strings and recycled children's books, silk-screened courier bags and babywear, weird and wonderful stuffed animal-ish creations of all sorts, and much more. This is the new world of gorgeous guerilla DIY craft, right here at Aqua Books.
It's never too early to begin your holiday shopping, it's never the wrong time to pick up something completely unique and beautiful for yourself, and it's always the right time to support local artisans and crafters, and maybe even become inspired yourself.

March 9, 2011

This Little Piggy Went to Bistro 7 1/4

I was indulging in a little retail therapy the other day and came upon a sweet (but plain) papier mache pig. I immediately thought of my friends Alex and Danielle, and I knew right then that it would make a perfect little gift for their restaurant’s fifth birthday.

Once inspiration struck (in the form of a vintage French dictionary and a jar of Mod podge), the transformation was easy. It took just a couple hours of cutting, gluing, painting and glazing to turn the humble little pig into “le petit cochon”. I am so happy with how it turned out...and even happier that it has a lovely new home with my dear friends.

What is French for “oink”?

Note: once again, please excuse the janky Blackberry photo.

March 7, 2011

International Women's Day 2011 Craftivity

This past Saturday afternoon, I found myself alone and with a few hours to kill between errands. Rather than pester my fella with endless babble or torment the mascot with endless chores, I decided to leave the boys alone and take some quiet, crafty time for myself. As coincidence would have it, MAWA was holding their annual International Women’s Day event from 12-4pm. Since I had such a great time last year, I decided to head down there and see what was up.

As always, the event was well attended and there was plenty to see, do and nibble on! I passed on beading (too intricate), paper-cutting (too dangerous) and needlepoint (to needlepointy), and decided to go with the familiar – crochet. The project that they had set out for us, however, was a little different than I am used to. Instead of crocheting with yarn, we used plastic grocery bags.

Using bags as a medium for crochet is something that I have wanted to try for a while, as part of my fascination with reinventing stuff; specifically, taking something and going though several steps to make essentially the same thing. Like grinding up paper to make paper. Anyway, the project itself was pretty straightforward. The bags are first cut into strips and then crocheted with a big hook. As you get the the end of a strip, you just tie-on another one and keep going.

It took me a couple of hours to crochet this little pouch (pictured above), but that included time for eating snacks (from Baraka Pita Bakery) and chit-chatting with the MAWA peeps. (Can you spot the Dollarama and Sugar Mountain bags?) I don’t know if it was the most relaxing afternoon ever*, but it was a nice way to spend some time alone (but not alone), and I came out of it with a cute little case for my sunglasses. Win, win!

*OMG…EPK! EPK! (Other People’s Kids)

March 3, 2011


I am only (ahem) a couple of days late, but my project for the Habitat for Humanity ReStore "ReCreate" art show is finally done. No, wait....ok. *Now* it's done.

I am so, so happy with how it turned out and, as is often the case with my projects, I am going to have a hard time parting with it. I don't have a choice, though; this piece is definitely being donated. Even the mere suggestion that we keep it was met with a strong objection by the mascot. I believe his exact words were "That would be sleazy, mom." Well, pardon me!

I'll be dropping it off at the store this afternoon, but I'm not going to post pics until the show actually opens. Spoiling the surprise would be, well, sleazy.

March 1, 2011

Is this seat taken?

Yay me! My Denim Hipster tutorial was the featured blog-post in this week’s Winnipeg Girl Geek Blog Challenge. The challenge has been fun to do so far and it was extra-nice to see the shout-out in this week’s newsletter.

Now, on to this week’s challenge. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to find a blog-post that we disagree with and write a response post. I am always hesitant to publicly challenge the opinions of other bloggers (unless they are completely wrong, of course…), but in this case I’ll make an exception and add my two cents.

Note: It’s not the blogger that I am taking issue with, but the general practice that he’s talking about.

The subject of the blog entry is “How to Always Get a Seat at a Crowded Coffee Shop”. Innocuous enough, sure, but the author’s intent is not to just secure himself a chair and enjoy a latte and a scone. Rather, he’s looking for a place where he can set up his computer and work on his book for several hours. And, this is where I start to take issue.

I think that somewhere along the line, we have started to confuse coffee shops with libraries. It’s now become perfectly acceptable to settle in, spread out your textbooks/spreadsheets/computers, kick off your shoes (yes, I’ve seen it happen) and spend a good 3 hours working on your dissertation/taxes/screenplay. As a bonus, if you bring a friend, it seems that you are entitled to spread across 2 tables and their accompanying chairs.

There are probably a million reasons for this increasingly-common practice, including the “hot spots” that the cafes themselves install to attract customers, but aren’t we taking advantage of their hospitality just a little? What about the people who are just there to (god forbid) drink a cup of coffee? I can’t tell you the number of times that I have wanted to have a seat at my favourite coffee shop, only to be forced to take my venti to go because every single table is occupied by people “working”.

Don’t get me wrong, I take my laptop to Starbucks on occasion, too, but I am always careful to limit my stay to the amount of time it takes me to finish my beverage. The way I see it, $2.40 buys you a cup of coffee and a place to sit for 30 – 45 minutes, tops. Any more than that and you’ve either got to make another purchase, or move on and make way for paying customers; the latter being the only option (sorry!) if there are people waiting for a seat.

But, I digress. Back to the Amateur Gourmet’s blog post…

I guess after thinking about it some more, I have decided that I am firmly on the fence on his piece. While I applaud him for his advice on how to *politely* request a seat, I am still a little bugged by his ultimate intent, which is to while away the afternoon. I mean, yes, it’s good to get out of the house and be amongst people, but going for coffee should be your break from work, not the other way around. If you “work from home”, then you should do just that. And, call me when you’re ready for a coffee break. I’ll meet you at Starbucks.