Monday, June 30, 2008

This week in Toronto...

If you love taking pictures, Toronto is a great place to be!

Friday, June 27, 2008


I googled 'vintage frazzled' and found this picture. Strange. Sexist. Smile worthy.

I'm starting to feel frazzled that we're leaving so soon. Actually, it began earlier, last week, when I finally wrote down a list of things that I wanted to accomplish before going to Japan. Okay, okay, I know...the 'list people' out there are probably snickering at how late in the game I chose to create mine but I'm sure it will all get done but not without this self-induced frenzy I like to put myself in.

I have little annoying things that I need to do like laundry, putting together a little first aid kit (do you know how to say anti-diarrhea in Japanese?), cleaning, organizing my list of addresses for postcards (this is done - I just need to print it out), having breakfast with a friend and getting my teeth cleaned on Tuesday.

Right now, my biggest challenge is getting gifts together for our friends in Japan. It's a delicate artform this 'omiyage'(translation: the art of gift giving). I don't want to put myself to shame in this regard because I do really enjoy getting things for people that have been chosen thoughtfully on a regular basis, let alone presents that may represent the country I live in.

Further to this, I'd like to make a nice selection of cards made from my vault of handmade papers, ephemera, etc. tucked into an envelope made from recycled hostel maps that came to our office, mysteriously.

Oh yes, and then there's the packing. What to bring? I consider this to be quite important as it'll contribute to the aesthetic of our photos. Also, it's apparently more humid and hotter than summertime in Toronto! (I actually love this kind of weather) It sure beats freezing our toes off when we first arrived in Copenhagen last summer. This is after my husband advised us that Scandinavia would be absolutely hot and beautiful (perhaps, he meant the people?). We were grossly underdressed (but not scantily clad) and I wanted to buy mittens on our first day (but still had the most amazing trip of a lifetime!). All this to say, it'll be sweltering out. Excellent (I mean this in a good way). Now, to find visually appealing and sweatproof gear. Hmmm...

My favorite part of packing? Forget about the luggage that I'll be filling with my every day ensembles and skivvies, I'm more concerned about what I'll be bringing in my carry-on for the 18 hour flight (we'll stop in Vancouver, briefly). This is the part I love doing and what I take particularly careful consideration over. Which pens? Reading materials? Snacks? Breath fresheners? This is vital, people. It's all about feeling comfortable during the flight and not focusing on the hours spent staying in one place for so long. As per usual, I'll have a pile of letters to read and a fresh new journal. (Sweet) I'll have my laptop with me, as well. Mostly for blogging and uploading photos when we get there but I'll also bring some classic 80's movies for the flight, just in case...

I'm also preparing the little one's carry-on of goodies and have already wrapped some things that she can open througout the flight. The items are things that she can work on like Mad Libs or an activity book or some little craft...OR something frivolous like a sweet or some little novelty item. The whole plan is to keep her happy and occupied. I just have to make sure there aren't any knock-knock jokebooks that sneak their way in or travel Yahtzee. (How she loves her Yahtzee)

As for my husband's carry-on, well, I am forbidden to put anything in it. He loves to travel light so his knapsack is almost completely empty save a notebook, pen, iPod and wallet.

[And yes, he does think I'm crazy]

While all of this is happening - I still have a half day of work on Monday, my Mom flew in from Winnipeg for a surprise visit lastnight, the in-laws are in town for the weekend (meaning: visiting & dinner) and I need to get my profiles ready to go for What's Your Story? (Make sure you log on to blogTo every Monday and Thursday, folks!).

I hope it doesn't sound like I was complaining...I'm actually incredibly thrilled and grateful that we're going. If this is the worst kind of frenzy I experience, I should be so lucky. I just needed to share my thoughts on this today (and secretly, I wanted to use that cheesy picture above).

Still blushing

I feel like my colleagues and I were just given a lecture about the birds and the bees by the man who fixed our photocopier at work. There was a lot of talk about pressure, tugging, pulling, pushing, opening back doors, sliding things in, being patient, using gentle hands and watching for things sticking up. Who knew that boring office machines could be so sexy?

I think this picture shows the seduction of an office worker by our unassuming Casanova...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Taxidermist gone wild?

"According to Det. Suzanne Pinto, "a few sources" have told police they have recently found raccoon carcasses in the park. At least two of them were "deliberately posed," one "with his paws in front of him, holding a bouquet of flowers," one with dead squirrels around him.

This is part of an excerpt that appeared in an online article today in the Toronto Star.

For those of you that know me, you'll know that anything to do with raccoons captures my attention, mostly because I am maniacally afraid of them.

The thought of someone 'posing' dead raccoons is disturbing as hell. In my mind, I picture some freak placing the flowers and dead squirrels with a gleam in their eye like some mad painter. (Aiye - I just shivered)

For the complete story, visit:

Dressing up is fun

The final countdown

We leave for Japan next week!!! (Whheeeeehoooo!) I cannot believe it's almost here! It seems like only yesterday that we were deliberating on whether to go!

J has planned yet, another, spectacular vacation for us. We'll be staying mainly in Osaka, deep in a Japanese suburb in a traditional Japanese house (complete with tatami mats!). It belongs to an aromatherapist who lives next door. We'll be venturing out to Nara - the home of various World Heritage sites such as Todaiji Temple, Horyuji Temple, and others including numerous Buddhist art and architecture classified as National Treasures and Important Cultural Asset. Nara is also known for their lovely ambassadors - the deer that roam free. We're also going to Kyoto to stay in a beautiful resort and Nagoya which is famous for the magestic Nagoya Castle crowned with two golden carp and built in 1612 (though, part of it was restored in 1959 after the fires of WWII). Of course, there will be places along the way that we'll discover...

J used to live there years ago (before we met) when he used to teach English. He still has many friends there and even organized to have some of the children he taught to write to H! He's excited to show us his old stomping grounds and for us to experience the culture, the hospitality and the craziness that is known as Japan!

I'm sooo excited!!! I'll bet I won't sleep a wink the night before!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Who ordered the Chow Mein?

Lastnight, I had a dream that my hair was crunchy like chow mein noodles (and for some reason, I couldn't stop scrunching it).

Friday, June 20, 2008

Revisiting my former self

When I was younger, I used to write poem after poem, at the drop of the hat. It seemed that I had lots of material to draw from - of course, doesn't everyone during those ego-centric, angst-filled years? Most of my poems were fueled by puppy love or grief experienced through parental control. Sometimes, I would even whip up poems for friends to give to others. This was the case for a former friend who would send them to his girlfriend who was living overseas. People were often amazed that I could write them in such a short amount of time because (they claimed) what was written was so heartfelt and sweet that it didn't seem possible.

I continued to write poetry after I graduated from high school but somehow, along the way, I abandoned it. I had developed this mentality that 'real' poems didn't rhyme (and by 'real', I meant the kind of work that accomplished poets or writers would pen). I felt like I was too old to be pumping out these sugary sonnets and anyways, real poems aren't supposed to have such a predictable rhythym or be so sing-songy, right?

Anyway, fast forward years later...I'm sitting at work feigning busyness (sp?) by writing an entry to be pasted into my journal later on today when I'm overcome by the urge to write a poem. Let me tell you, it was a wonderful feeling to write something so meaningful and personal. And yes, it did rhyme but I felt that the message and words were still beautiful and perfect for what I was trying to say.

I forwarded a copy to J since the poem was meant for both he and I. He's my sounding board so I always know that I'll get an honest reaction from him. He loved it and sent me the sweetest message in response.

[I apologize for not posting it here but it's rather personal]

All this to say, it felt great to revisit my former self - the days when I would write recklessly and full of such emotion. I've just been bursting with ideas and feverishly writing them down.

[I'm back, Baby]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shameless self-promo

I have some really exciting news to share! For the past week or so, I've been working on a little project which has just gone live today! (Yay!)

I'll have a regular feature (every Monday and Thursday) on blogTO called, What's Your Story? which will feature different profiles of people that I've approached on the streets of Toronto.

With 5 million people alone in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), you're bound to see some pretty interesting characters on a daily basis. There have been many times when I've seen people that were so intriguing that I've wanted to approach them and find out what their story was but was just too shy (or afraid) to ask. I've also always been a big fan of biographies, as well as blogs (such as The Clothes Project, NY Mag's Lookbook and Stil in Berlin) or publications (like Fruits or ME Magazine) that showcase a different cross section of humanity. I love getting to peek into the lives of others. Let's face it, there's something very fun about being a voyeur!

This curiosity about human nature (and just being plain nosy) is the motivation behind the series. It's also a great opportunity to get to know people that you might otherwise just pass by and I also get to write for a really cool blog!

It's been so much fun going up to complete strangers and telling them that I'm a contributor on blogTO. Basically, I have a list of questions that I ask and then I take a few photos (from different angles). For the most part, people have been really open to letting me interview them (some even grateful, in fact!). A few times, people have said no but that's to be expected (not everyone enjoys the paparazzi!). I've met some really wonderful people, so far, and all with such different stories! (I love it!)

Please feel free to check out the premiere of What's Your Story?.

P.S. Recommendations and comments below the article are welcome but please, don't make it personal or send me a note on the website. It should just be about the entry.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Just another Saturday in Toronto

I love this place!

(Can you guess which was my favorite part of the day?)

Friday, June 13, 2008

That's what I'm talking about!

Lee McQueen - Sir Alan's next apprentice. (I ♥ you!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yoshimi saves the day

There was a medical emergency on one of the subways this morning which affected travel on the University line. The platforms were jam-packed and people were getting all nasty and irate. I tuned out and used the extra time to dream about paper while I cranked the Flaming Lips on my iPod. (Favorite album: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots)
[Photo courtesy of Paris Breakfasts blog - Chocolate sardines!]

Monday, June 9, 2008

Where do I begin...

Today has been a really special day. This evening started off with a spontaneous dinner at Fresh on Bloor with the lovely Miss A (a former co-worker that I still keep in touch with). We had a nice time catching up over some delicious food & bevvies. (I had Simple on soba noodles with tempeh and a soy mocha mint espresso shake) From there, the real excitement began (no disrespect to Miss A, of course!).

I attended the Japanese Papermaking Demonstration at the Japanese Foundation which was part of the World Washi Summit. Three guest Japanese papermakers - Shinji Hayashi from Kurotani, Hiroshi Tamura from Kochi and Hiroaki Imai from Niigata - demonstrated their papermaking techniques and skills while Paul Denhoed, a Canadian artist and Japanese papermaking researcher, provided a play-by-play commentary. The demonstration also included a brief slide presentation about the process and ended with a Q&A with the audience.

Traditionally, women were the master papermakers as the process would begin in the winter while the men went out to do itinerant work. As the demand for papermaking grew - and consequently, the size (and weight) of the equipment - the roles began to shift between the sexes. The men would then do the actual papermaking while the women did the preparatory work.

It was an absolutely fascinating presentation. I learned so much about how washi paper is made from how the plant is processed, which part of it is used (and how this differs from Western papermaking), how it is cooked, 'beaten', processed, stored and dried. I was surprised to hear that some of the paper is stored in snow (yes, SNOW!) as it acts as a very effective and natural way to insulate and refrigerate the paper before it can be properly dried.

The demonstration was amazing. Each papermaker had their own technique which is exclusive to the region they're from. They made it look so easy! (Later, we would find out from an audience member that it wasn't as simple as it looked as he fumbled with the mould only to produce a white clumpy mess!) The papermakers shared the different paths they took to becoming papermakers (one was born into it) and also, the training available in Japan. Sadly, papermaking has become a dying tradition in Japan. Where there was once 1000 papermakers, there are now less than 350 in Japan.

Nancy Jacobi is the brainchild behind the World Washi Summit. She first introduced Toronto to this beautiful and highly versatile paper via her store on Queen Street called, The Japanese Paper Place (now called, The Paper Place - I know it well). She encouraged the audience to support the washi industry by purchasing these lovely papers and provided the specific names produced by the guest papermakers.

Hiroshi Tamura gave such a heartfelt thank you, as a closing. He expressed his gratitude for being invited to the Summit to speak about his craft considering what he does has now reached a plateau in Japan and is slowly going by the wayside. He was surprised to learn how washi paper was so adored here in Canada and felt honored to be part of the summit. He spoke on behalf of all Japanese papermakers and felt very proud to be able to represent those not present. It brought tears to my eyes that he was so grateful and also, so passionate about his craft.

As I left the presentation, I had so many wonderful feelings & emotions running through me - inspiration, gratitude, respect, happiness - and I just wanted to run home and share them with my little family. It was a great feeling and a great evening. I cannot wait to report on the next event I attend during the World Washi Summit!

[As if it wasn't already an amazing day, I had a pile of paper goodness that was waiting for me when I got home! Thanks so much to my dear, dear penpal in KC for the box of wonderful goodies, to Joe for his gorgeous card (it freaked me out a bit, actually, since I was just admiring the very same print this afternoon on the web!!!) and to a new correspondent from Germany for the thoughtful letter!]

Friday, June 6, 2008

Gotta love Facebook

My grade 5 teacher just contacted me via Facebook! For a split second, I thought it was strange (creepy) but quickly remembered how fond I was of him. Mr. M was such a nice teacher and always wore a short-sleeved shirt with an overhead pen in his pocket.

I was just transported back to my younger self - the feathered hair gal, pre-braces, sporting a turquoise Fame jumpsuit in fleece. I wish I could go back in time and meet my younger self. She was so cute and funny. She was also very creative and always carried around a pad of paper and too many pens. She loved her friends and writing stories and talking on the phone. I would give her a great big hug but what would I say to her?

I would probably tell her that she was going to be alright, that she would have a really beautiful & amazing daughter and that she would fall in love with a wonderful, wonderful man someday. I would tell her to travel and see the world. I would also tell her to always keep writing and being creative and to not listen to her parents but follow her heart & passion when choosing her career. I would tell her to always have kindness in her heart, to be patient and trust herself. I would also tell her to love herself and be happy because she deserves it.

[Of course, there would be much (much!) more but ultimately, I wouldn't try to scare her to death because meeting me would probably be a shocker that would traumatize her for life to begin with. However, I would totally tell her to save some of those Tiger Beat and BOP magazines she was buying. It's a bitch to find those issues these days! I would warn her that the spiral Toni perm that she begged her mom for would take three whole years to grow out and to really think about it. I would also tell her that the ensemble she would love sooo much in junior high - wayfarer sunglasses, tight jeans, white top with black collar and the black jacket that snapped up on the side (à la Thriller fame) - was sooo not cool.]

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tea for two and two for tea

“[T]he tea-party, an extraordinary meal in that, being offered to persons that have already dined well, it supposes neither appetite nor thirst, and has no object but distraction, no basis but delicate enjoyment.” —Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste, 1825

Yesterday, H & I had a lovely little tea party complete with faux petit-fours, mini tea cups & saucers, champagne glass filled with ripe cherries, homemade banana muffins topped with toasted coconut, cookies and two types of tea (caramel rooibos which we received from Switzerland yesterday and peppermint). I lit candles and we had a really lovely time. My guest even arrived with a fancy outfit on - a pink leotard and a string of purple beads! (Just to clarify, 'H' refers to my little person and not my husband. Heh!) Before we began the party, we each put on a pair of gloves. Mine were long and black while H's were a sunny yellow.

[H really got into the spirit of things and talked with a British accent. Isn't she fun?!]

We love to have these wacky little parties every so often. This time, I even went so far as to make a fancy little invitation to invite my guest. I like to think that these precious moments will be remembered fondly when H grows up. (Either that or she'll remember what kind of a nut her Mom was/is!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Weapon of Choice

If you're anything like me, you always carry a little pencil case filled with your favorite weapons. In my case (pardon the pun), fine point pens. I especially love the Uni-ball Elite series for their waterproof/fadeproof ink which comes in a nice range of colors but more importantly, for the beautiful lines it gives to my writing. (It's lovely, really)

You want smooth? How's this for the smoothness factor:

[I think I just shed a tear]

Happy scribbling, my friends. What's your weapon of choice?

Cancer Connections

Photosensitive has partnered up with the Canadian Cancer Society to present Cancer Connections - a traveling photo exhibit of black and white photography depicting how cancer affects the lives of so many Canadians. The national launch took place at Nathan Philips Square on May 20th, 2008, with almost 300 images. From there, it will be traveling around the country, growing as it goes. The grande finale exhibition will be in Ottawa in 2010 and will have 1000 images.

I'm so very proud of my cousin, AA, who has a photo in the exhibit. He's such a talented photographer, as well as a kind-hearted soul. His mother passed away from cervical cancer (at the age of 60). My uncle and grandma also passed away from cancer so this photo exhibit really means a lot to me.

If you are in the Toronto area, the exhibit will be here until June 9th. For more information about the exhibit, please visit

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Collage a Day Challenge!

It was a dreary and rainy morning here in Toronto. I felt completely blah so I needed something to perk me up and keep me going. I started making little collages using found materials here at work that would normally make their way into the garbage (think: junk mail, envelopes, old boxes, etc.). Okay, so I used some stickies, too (they added some lovely color to my creations!). Anyway, it felt great to create something and break up the morning. In fact, over lunch, I decided that I would challenge myself by doing a collage a day! It may not necessarily take place here at work (though, it really did put some life into my morning!) but it would be nice to create something on a daily basis, just to keep the ol' creative juices flowing.

So, if any of you are up for it, please join me. Imagine the fun you could have (at work!). Heh heh.

Mike Lowery

As you know, I am a big fan of the Sketchbook Series by the website, Book By Its Cover. It's like peeking into someone's diary. (Love it!) Recently, Mike Lowery was featured on 5.9.08. Here is the little blurb they had about him:

Mike Lowery’s goal is to draw or write something in his journal every single day. If he misses a day, he said he has to do at least two pages. He’s been filling moleskins for the past three years with his adorable characters, fun drawings and little comics as you can see from the images below. Mike recently joined the Lilla Rogers team- an agency known for it’s eclectic talented illustrators (We at Also are actually working on a revamp of their site right now). Mike is also a graphic design and illustration teacher at an art college in DC. He lives just outside the city with his wife Rachel and his “ridiculously awesome daughter, Allister”. Check out Mike’s site to see more of his work- he posts entries from his journal almost every day. And be sure to catch his weekly comic in the dcist Thanks Mike!

I love his pictures. They're so much fun and brighten my day! (I have an affinity for keyboards, having been forced to take organ lessons for 8 years as a child, so his cute little drawings make me smile.) Here are some that were featured on the site. Hope they brighten your day, too!