Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Hallowe'en!

This was taken probably five or six years ago... My sister made Ebi the cat a Hallowe'en cape with silver bats all over it (can't see it that well here), and we tried to make him sit in the window with the pumpkin, which he got tired of pretty quickly. He slept the rest of the evening.

Please be sure to keep your cats safe and indoors tonight, especially your black cats!!!

It's going to be a busy week-end for me - enjoy yours (^_^)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A bit of everything...

Just received some flyers in the mail for an upcoming show - you can see one of my necklaces on the cover, second from the bottom, yay! This show is at a private high school here in Montreal; I did it for the first time last year and it was a really good one for me, so I'm really looking forward to it again this year. I had a few great trades with other sellers too, which is always fun!

Lots of new pieces being created in my wee little studio... This one is up in my shop:

It's October 29th, and we woke up to a dusting of snow this morning. Aaack!
I remember many times as a kid, having to wear my ski jacket under my Halloween costume... it's supposed to be much warmer this Friday though, for the trick or treaters :)

To warm ourselves up, a fall favourite: butternut squash soup, well, more of a potage. Turned out yummy, although I went a little heavy on the pepper.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gearing up for the busy season & treasures in the garbage!

I think the pressure of the holiday season has finally hit me. Sales have picked up a little online (yay!) and I've got five craft events/shows that I have to prepare inventory for, three that have been very good to me in the past, and a new one this year that I'm looking forward to.

The paper that Chibi was lying in last Friday's post is now mostly cut up into the sizes I need for some new cards. Gotta put it right back in the plastic bins or either Chibi or Ebi will sprawl out over it.

Went to the post office this morning - sent and order to a customer in France whose mother is Japanese and who was chose my jewellery because she was looking for earrings with some kind of "Japaneseness" about them. I'm always happy to meet other people of Japanese ancestry, but who are not Japanese (not born in Japan), since this is what/who I am too. Whaa, identity, that's a whole other thing to blog about! Post office lady still stuck my parcel in the measuring slot, but she might have actually listened to me this morning when I said my schpiel about the flatness of the boxes - I was in a better mood so it didn't bug me like it usually does.

I was probably in a good mood because I had spotted these in the garbage passing by the bank, on my way to the post office, and trotted back there once my parcels were mailed. These are old shelves that the bank used for various forms, but they are a perfect height for risers for my display. They'll lie flat, of course, and not on their sides as pictured here.

I have a huge roll of black velvet that I got at a bazaar last year - hey, everything looks better covered in black velvet! These will replace the flimsy boxes I've been using until now, that are always threatening to cave in. They were kind of awkward and heavy to lug home, but well worth it!

Yaaaaay, for freebies (^_^)

Friday, October 17, 2008

The post office lady and Friday Cat Blogging

Every time I go to the post office, it's the same thing:

  • I present my parcels, packaged in cd boxes that I switched over to in April (they are flat and can ship for less than a third of the price of jewellery size boxes).
  • One employee in particular insists on taking out the little slot measurement device to make sure it fits through, which means the lower price applies.
  • Every time I say in a light-hearted manner, "It's still the same size." What I WANT to say is, "The boxes haven't grown since I was here last week, lady. I'm not trying to fool Canada Post into charging me $1.92 instead of $6.45 - I purposely changed my packaging to fit into the less expensive category! And anyone looking at the box can tell that it's less than 2cm thick" ... A few times now I've even mentioned to her, very politely, that I switched over to these flat boxes because I know about Canada Post's regulations regarding package size.
  • Her answer this morning: "Hmm, I just have the tendency to want to measure it. You never know!"
  • My eyes then roll back in their sockets (I have no control over this), I let out a big sigh and a ,"You see, they ARE still the same size, hahaha..." AND she always tosses my customs forms (which I take the time to fill out at home so she doesn't have to) receipts at me. What happened to customer service training, or even just basic civility?
  • I gotta learn to just go with it. She isn't going to change, but I can -therein lies the challenge (^_^)

Thanks for letting me vent.

It's Friday!

Cats are wonderful for so many reasons. They are great company and the perfect destresser - just looking at them makes me smile. I cannot pass by a cat on the street without smiling at it (I always smile at dogs too) and chatting a bit if it will listen. My two cats are the best, although they still don't get along too famously; way better than it was before though. This morning I immediately felt better when I got home from the post office and scritchy-scratched my kitties. Instant relaxation. My Chibi:

I've been buying lots of paper for cards, in preparation for the holiday season. Au papier japonais here in Montreal has a superb selection of some of my favourites and I like to buy the full size sheets and cut it myself. Of course when I get home and unroll it to cut it, Chibi comes charging over to slide around on it and lie on it.

Of course. But how can I not love her for that?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Procrastinating.... and oh yeah, a 20% OFF SALE!

Ouf... I am slow to get with it these days. Even though it should be a whirlwind of a production time. Today is going to be a good day though, since I know I have a rehearsal from 5 to 11pm - psychologically when I know I have limited time, I get more done. Go figure. Five members of our group Arashi Daiko will be playing taiko (Jpnz drums) with a bunch of other amazing world musicians at this show on Saturday in Quebec City. So excited!

Been procrastinating with making stuff, cleaning up my studio, rearranging my tools and materials. Yikes. I said it before, I'll say it again - I am the QUEEN of Procrastination (capital P).
Because of my wandering and oft leaky brain, I totally forgot last Saturday that I had reserved a showcase spot on Etsy, to advertise my little shop. Totally missed it - didn't even select the featured items that would appear in the showcase pop-up. Grey matter, fail me not again!

Well I remembered that I've got a showcase spot today (yay!) and yesterday I took photos of some new chiyogami pieces, as well as other items, and got some posted in my shop last night.

... AND, I'm having a sale: 20% off everything in my shop, even the items already reduced in my sale section! Woo hooooo!

Clicking on any of the items pictured here will take you directly to its link in my shop!

Sale details:
* Regular shipping fees apply. Please make your purchase and I will send you a revised invoice with the applied discount. Or if you prefer, please go ahead and pay, and I will simply refund you your discount.

* Please note that I will be away from my computer today from 4:30pm until midnight, and I will make the revised invoices and process any refunds as soon as I get home. Thank-you!

Since I'm kinda late doing this blog post too (like, a couple of weeks late, haha), I think I will extend this sale for my blog readers for tomorrow as well! Just mention my blog in the note to seller at check-out (^_^).

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Cat AND TURTLE blogging...

I let out a gasp and then a chuckle when I saw this photo on Etsy. Everything about it is perfect - the colours, the cat's pose and attitude. Love it!

The beds are the lovely work of Jayne of likekittysville. Model kitty Betty Bob now lives with Jayne, who has rescuesd many an abandoned cat (often feral) who have come a-knocking at her door... Have a look at Jayne's other beautifully designed modern beds for your funky feline.

Onto the turtles:
A couple weeks ago, we were all having dinner at my sister Pat's, when my sister-in-law Karen happened to mention that my brother Doug will NOT read my Friday blog post if it has to do with cats. Skips right over it.

Now, Doug likes animals, has always liked my cats, is good with dogs, and their kids who are all grown and out of the house now, always had a bunch of pets: birds, guinea pigs, snakes (two that are now around 8 years old) and turtles. They couldn't have a dog or cat in the house because of allergies, but they would have if they could have. And yet, he doesn't want to read my fascinating Friday Cat blog posts. Hmmmffff!

Over the years, on top of the little pet-shop turtles for his kids, Doug also rescued some turtles who were going to be out of a home when his construction company was preparing some boggy land prior to building. I believe he's relocated turtles to new homes in ponds and marshes closer to his home (they live in a small town near Toronto) safe from the construction bulldozers. One of these turtles, Margaret, is now living in an indoor turtle pond built by my bro, along with Jesse and Flash.

Here is the pond in their living room (you can click on it to see better). Oh yeah, and btw, that wooden chest was my grandfather's and it was sitting in our musty basement for 50 years or so; Doug did an amazing job refinishing it. Back to the turtles, apparently, Margaret (the biggest one) sometimes escapes, teetering first on the bamboo fence and then leaping to the floor below, so Karen and Doug have to be careful where they walk. It seems the turtles are pretty happy here.

Which reminds me, I will have to make more of these cards...

Hope you enjoyed this Dougie! Have a good week-end everyone (^_^)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Autumn leaves...

I went to see my osteopath yesterday, who made some adjustments in my usual trouble spots; often when I have pain somewhere that I have always thought was a muscular problem (I get terrible hardened spots in my forearms and shoulders since I work with my hands and am hunched over my work table for long periods of time; I'm sure playing taiko also contributes a little) it's actually structural, and a bone has moved or slipped slightly out of position. The muscles then get all wonky since they too are pushed out of position, soreness ensues and well, you get the picture.

Anyway, I ended up walking home, about an hour's walk, since the weather was nice and I didn't do any yoga this week since my back has been bugging me. I made a decision while walking: that I will bring back my collages for my craft shows this season (and I'm writing it here in my blog so I don't try to weasel out of it). A few years ago I started using leaves in combo with Japanese paper, needle and thread to make these little framed pictures. (for some reason, the picture uploads on its side all the time, and I can't flip it once uploaded -strange!)

These would do well at craft shows, but were not terribly cost-effective for the time they take to make and the price of the frames. I have a whole slew of frames that I would keep buying every time I'd see nice ones while out shopping, and yesterday's walk saw me harvesting more leaves for my collection (I've got 4 old telephone books full of them!). So I'm all set - I'll at least use up the frames I've got in stock. Now the only problem is finding room for them at the shows I'll be doing, since my table is usually pretty full with jewellery and cards...

Here's a new pendant I just listed in my Etsy shop yesterday - fitting for fall, wouldn't you say?

This past summer I did a festival in Vancouver, BC, and my sister, Nancy, was also selling there - we had neighbouring tables, so it was a lot of fun. Along with her beautiful pearl jewellery, she makes these ridiculously cute baby slippers using Japanese material. Fittingly, since her birthday is in October, her Japanese name is Akiko, which means autumn baby, and here are some of her autumn-ish slippers. Love 'em!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Updates: taiko and sushi...

If you've made a trip or two to my blog before, you probably know I am a member of Arashi Daiko, a taiko or Japanese drumming group here in Montreal. This is a huge part of my life and that of JF (my husband) as well; I've been playing for 10 years now and he's been playing for 13 years, and it's how we met - but that's a whole other story that I'll share another time!

This is when we were in Japan last year, filming a documentary on our taiko group, part of a television series on world music and musicians in Qu├ębec; here I'm trying to incorporate Fujimoto's san's (Yoshikazu Fujimoto is Kodo's most senior performer and the most incredible all-around artist/performer) comments and instructions into my playing while trying to calm my nerves and not make a total boob of myself. JF watches and prepares to receive comments on his playing. Photo by Melanie Taylor (thanks for taking all those shots, Melanie!).

Arashi Daiko is also going to be on tv this Saturday evening, LIVE! Yikes!!! The documentary I mentioned was on the air a few months ago, and led to this other tv show finding us, and contacting us to be on their musical variety show called Belle et Bum (kind of a quirky way of saying "Beauty and the Beast"). Very exciting, although going "live" is pretty scary. And if anyone is going to take a tumble off the edge of the stage or have something stuck on their face when a camera zooms in, it'll be me. I'm serious.

On a crafty note, staying within the realm of Japanese inspiration, here is a new sushi platter I started making this summer, but that I didn't show you all yet. It features a temaki, or hand-roll, those cone-shaped sushi packed to the brim with sushi rice and your favourite fillings - this one has fresh sake (salmon) and its loving partner, ripe avocado. A couple of nigiri and maki complete the meal, with the ever-present wasabi (horseradish paste) and shoga (ginger). I just sold the last one in my Etsy shop for this batch, but don't worry, I'll be making more shortly!

Whaddya think?