Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Wrap up

So, what did I actually accomplish this month?

Finish We Were the Mulvaneys (Check)

Start The Road by Cormack McCarthy (Check) and finish it (Check)

Going to the gym five days a week (check. gold star for me!)

Have friends over for dinner at least once (check)

Bake cookies for Valentines Day (check)

Walk around downtown while the Olympics are in town. (check)

Finalize Europe trip itinerary (check) tickets, hotels and tours booked (check)

Work on an outline for thesis paper

Make dentist appointment - doing this tomorrow!
- - - - - - - - - - -

Some other good things from this month

New friends made
Making an effort to take my days more slowly
Absorbing the energy of an Olympic city
New recipes tried - chocolate cake/oatmeal raisin cookies/sugar cookies
Discovering some new options for the summer
Making (and spending) time doing the things that I love

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Things a Saturday should and should not be

{Photo by V.}

It should have baking of some sort. Today: Banana bread
Waking up around 8
Leisurely watching the morning news for a bit too long
Enjoying tea
Grocery shopping
Reading, reading and more reading for school
Sunshine, and not rain
Editing writing samples for internships
Wearing a cozy, cream coloured sweater
Calling home

All this, just to wind down from a crazy week. And then I'll do it all over again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ramblings of a city

The cafe at the Vancouver Art Gallery may be the quietest place in town. I've planted myself in a plush chair, from which I can occasionally glance out onto the street. The tables are mostly vacant, except for two elderly ladies to my right. Soon starving city wanderers float in and out. They stand in line along a display case of pristine looking delights. Jazz music fills the air.

Outside, the skies are gray. The artificial lights around Robson Square are the only glimmer of brightness. The patio appears inviting, like something ripped from the pages of a feature on backyard escapes. Wicker furniture. White table cloths. Small, spindly trees dressed with white lights. It is not complete without the warmth of the sun. But even today - the chilliest day of the month - it makes me want to shed my coat and spread out my belongings over a patio table.

Although my plans were foiled this morning, I cannot help by feel better off. Possibilities gather at my feet and I am free to choose among them. What I want right now is to peal away any sense of obligation and roam - though not just in the traditional sense. I want to stroll around town and immerse myself in everything. I also want to just sit here all day and enjoy the peace and quiet I am surrounded by. I will probably do everything. I am living the life I imagine so frequently, today.

{View onto the street. Photo by V}

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Travel details

In the midst of school madness and work, I am dreaming of Europe. I've now planned out the first week of my trip! I can't believe it's less than 2 months away!!

Day 1
Travel, travel, travel and land in London

Day 2
Victoria & Albert Museum. Yards of fabric, shoes and beautiful fashion. Strolling down the streets to Tate Modern. Along the way seeing the Buckingham Palace Gardens and Westminster Cathedral.

Day 3
The National Gallery in the morning. Then taking a short walk to John Keats' home - a poet close to my heart. Then off to see the Crystal Palace.

Day 4
Jane Austen's Home.

Day 5
The British Museum - Having studied the Elgin Marbles in several art history courses, I cannot wait to see them in person. Then to the magical place where Shakespeare's works came to life - the Globe Theatre.

Day 6
Tour of Bath, Stonehenge and Stratford.

Day 7
Leave for Paris!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Absorbing the town

It's been a perfect Sunday. I haven't not worked on Sunday in about 2 months. Today I got to enjoy every minute of it. I baked a birthday cake for my best friend. A chocolate cake with homemade frosting. I added yogurt to the batter in the hopes that it will be extra moist. Currently, I'm watching the US v. Canada hockey game, though I don't know who I'm rooting for. Secretly, I hope Canada wins. It would be wonderful to have a victory at home.

I head out around 7 pm. JM has selected Elixir for his birthday dinner. I stride out the door wearing my new heels, a dress from my mom and my trench coat over the top. I'm sure I'll be cold, but sometimes sacrifices must be made. Dinner was wonderful. Endless conversation over crisp white wine, perfect french bread and fantastic dishes. Mine - salmon served on top of a puff pastry filled with warm spinach and ricotta. I devoured every piece on my plate. Lingering at the restaurant for a bit longer, we try to decide what to do next. Had this been an ordinary Sunday in Vancouver we would have headed home. Nothing would be open and the town would be quiet. But this is no ordinary Sunday. It's 10 pm and city is buzzing about like never before.

We jump on the trolley and emerge on to a street that has captured youthful energy like I've never seen. Granville street is flooded with people. Thousands of red sweaters, hockey jerseys and Canadian flags are in motion. It's an incredible sight. The 6 of us stand there in heels and suits and dresses. We strut down the center of street. Never have we been so distinguishable in this city. But if ever there was a time to stand out, this would be it - JM's birthday.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The ugly side of success

Something you may not know about me: I’ve lost 60 pounds and kept it off for 3 years. Wonderful, right? Sort of.

When I came to Canada I was very overweight. I knew that at some point, for the sake of my health, I needed to get in shape. I struggled for many years in high school, but I never had the perspective on myself to realize what a serious issue it was. Embarking on a new chapter of life gave me that power. Maybe if I had stayed in California that would have still been the case – I’m not sure.

It may sound foreign, but my weight loss (at first) was largely accidental. I don’t think I was cognizant of the changes I was making in my life. Sure, I started eating better, but I was also walking everywhere. My change of environment allowed me to lead a much more active lifestyle without having to really think about it. People around me seemed to notice the changes that I was undergoing more than I did. In a way I think that aloofness was a good thing. So often, people (esp. women) are consumed by dieting, healthy lifestyle, weight loss, etc that they obsess over it in a very unhealthy way and it begins to have adverse effects on their goals. But me, I didn’t really have a goal. I was preoccupied with being happy, enjoying a new life and taking on all the challenges it threw my way. A new figure was not in the cards.

But after about 7 months, I started to take notice. By then I’d lost enough weight to realize it. Since I didn’t own a scale, I was going on the fit of my clothes and they were all too big. Somewhere around this time, I also starting going to the gym. My dad was forever telling me about the benefits of a good workout, like improving concentration and stamina. It certainly did that for me. To this day, I always love getting out that excess energy and kick starting my day with a workout. Though I do it for the way I feel, and not for weight loss. By the end of my first year of University, I had lost almost 50 pounds. Such an accomplishment! I’d never felt better, but on the horizon what a more daunting task – maintaining it while living in the U.S. for the summer.

Up until about 2 years ago, I always considered myself to be unaffected by advertising and mass media propaganda relating to body image. I had accepted myself and didn’t let that get in the way of living my life. But a switch had flipped in my mind. I had lost weight; I was thin and suddenly was what society told me I should be. I was my own success story and was within reach of the pressure that I had evaded for so long. What was a personal victory quickly took a turn for the worst and took over my life. I fit in, though I never realized that I was on the outside to begin with, and wanted to keep it that way.

Being prone to societal pressures was a deadly state. I pushed myself to lose more until I was a size 4. Mind you, not even a year before that I was a size 16. I never paused to marvel at this accomplishment. All I could do was think about the “what ifs.” What if I lost five more pounds? What if I looked like Mischa Barton? I no longer read Vogue for the fashion. I read it to compare myself with the models. I also started to dislike shopping and hated receiving attention from strangers. But I felt that if I didn’t keep losing weight, I would gain it back. So I kept going. The essential problem was that I never felt bad myself, I was genuinely happy and felt great. But I took a dangerous step over the line. I stopped eating and started suffering from severe body dysmorphic disorder. My life was consumed by body image and I ruined so many good relationships because I couldn’t accept myself. I was so focused on the supposedly “bad” aspects of my physical being that I fully over looked everything good about myself. 2 years and my emotional rollercoaster has come to an end. I have shed the weight of an oppressive culture and my mind has never felt more free.

You might wonder why I would write something this personal. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve known for quite sometime that I wanted to give a voice to all this. But more importantly, I feel like now it’s a statement of empowerment not only for myself, but for all women. I hope that one day, we will be able to overturn the “norms” of ultra-thinness and move on to channeling our energy into better endeavors. We owe that to ourselves.

More generally what I hope to suggest with this post is that success is great but it is easy to be devoured by it. Success might help motivate us, but it's the little failures that keep us grounded.

Friday, February 19, 2010


On Sundays I usually work, I cook a good meal and I call home. Sundays are usually when my dad and I catch up. Living far away and having done a bit of growing up on my own terms, I realize just how alike we are. I cherish our long conversations. We talk about my studies, critical theory, politics, post-apocalyptic literature, modernist literature and everything else that catches our fancy. This past week we talked about resilience, which stemmed from a discussion of modern cultural coercion of the individual.

Resilience, in the context of modern political theory, is all about the breaking down of the bigger structure in order to create something stronger on a smaller scale. What does this mean? Essentially, self reliance. Communities coming together growing what they need, making what they need, living sans government - or at least what has become of government. It's an interesting idea. My own interests have lead me to read extensively about culture, government and business and their implicit control over the individual. The concept of resilience seems like a viable path away from all of that.

He began to tell me about a prominent theory in science that suggests that life exists on the macro and micro levels. We can think of government, empire, etc as the macro and culture/society as the mechanism that pulls us in. We are all implicated into a great scheme whether we like it or not. Everything about culture is so alluring and seductive that we can easily get lost and disregard the micro - ourselves. I really like this micro concept of living. Doing what you need/want to do independent of outside forces. I'm certainly guilty of buying into the lure of consumption. Thinking I need much more than I do. Even now, as I look around my room it amazes me how much stuff I own. Who needs it all? More that that however, is trying to locate meaning, truth and substance in our lives. Apparently, the micro is where it's at.

In a way that makes sense to me. I get a lot more enjoyment out of creating something (like my quilt) than I do buy more clothes. Knowing that the object was produced by me makes it special. It's unique. But I also feel that by pursuing all of my "odd ball" activities, I am on the path to locating more about my identity because it is done in own terms. It’s easy to lose sight of ourselves in the chaos of the world, but this year I’m trying to hone in on what is truly important – myself – and standing strong in the face of impossible outside forces.

"Don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got." - Janis Joplin

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On stories (and writing)

From McCarthy's The Road

Why dont you tell me a story?
I dont want to.
I dont have any stories to tell.
You could tell me a story about yourself.
You already know all the stories about me. You were there.
You have stories inside that I dont know about.
You mean like dreams?
Like dreams. Or just things that you think about.
Yeah, but stories are supposed to be happy.
They dont have to be.
You always tell happy stories.
You have have happy ones?
They're more like real life. (268)

Embrace this beautiful day and tell your story.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring inspiration

{Photo by V.}

A short navy skirt. Intricate pleats and folds. From the high waist, billowing out is a light white top. Sunglasses. Brown sandals. This is why I long for warmer days.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A stitch in time

With determination and precision in mind, I set out to complete my textile project - a quilted pillow. I have a great appreciation for the art of quilting, especially since I am pursing this by hand. A broken sewing machine sits beneath my kitchen counter, and I try not to stare at it with contempt. It's difficult. But I seem to be getting even more annoyed with myself for looking for an easier, faster way to get things done - that's not really me. Efficient, yes but not cutting corners.

Having spent most of the weekend cutting out squares and triangles of identical size, and drawing lines to sew along, it is all about to be tested. Was I precise? I pin together pieces of fabric with my metallic coloured pins - making sure to pull out the pearl and pink ones first.

The needle is threaded and I focus intently on creating straight lines with it. Up and down. Up and down. Check to make sure everything is still lined up. Up down, up down, up down, up down. Stop. Cut. Tie off. A seam is created. Then another. And another. Soon a larger square takes shape and patterns collide - though not exactly in a kaleidoscope sort of way.

I bring together more pieces. There is something satisfying about creating. A feeling that can never come from a store bought good. Much the same feeling you get from homemade cookies. They are a labour of love.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Some things I know

: Cooking and working out have become my new form of therapy
: I've become more of an introvert over the last month, but I don't know why
: I wish I could find a pause button for life
: I have a great life
: While there are many big changes ahead of me, many things will be the same
: I'm embracing uncertainty. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm running head on into it
: I wish I didn't own a TV
: My book case needs more shelves
: Confidence is not something that comes naturally to me
: My computer might be on its last leg
: I like neat, organized spaces
: I'm feeling closer to my family in the last month than I have in last 3 years
: I compulsively check my email, though not usually for work
: In the past year, writing seems to have become a real part of me
: I am trying to open doors

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The bog

I took my usual Saturday afternoon pilgrimage to the produce store. It's about 20 blocks from my house, but I always walk there and back. The weather is getting warmer with each passing week, although today the rain is coming down. I walked out of my house and into the back alley way to get to the road. It's been a while since I've had to wear my rain boots and they made me feel quite childish. I think it's the ability to slosh through any puddles on my path. Though I do no jump, my sense of adventure leads me to take a different route to get to the produce store.

Instead of rushing along the main roads, I stroll through the residential streets. I gaze at homes that I want to live in some day. White wooden side boarding, slightly beat up. A glass encased mudroom at the entrance. Imperfections that make it perfect for me. Suddenly I became cognisant of the fact that - after only 5 blocks - the road seemed to end. I was at an odd intersection. A gravel paved, steep alley way to my left and a bog in front of me. I guess I'd been presumptuous in thinking that all roads parallel to the main one were also free of such natural impediments.

"The Camosun Bog" read the sign. I stood there reading it. What intrigued me was the 'trail' through it. It was a raised boardwalk. It reminded me of the nature preserve at home and some how seemed to be inviting me down it. I could not see where the walk way lead to, but I walked. I had so quickly jumped from residential to natural, though the telephone lines overhead tried to interfere with the transition. They seemed to be there as a reminder that this detour, this small haven, was not permanent. But I knew that. I just felt very free - defying any intentions I had for afternoon - being the only human in sight. Alone in the bog.

200 feet later, I found myself at the edge of a clearing. The boardwalk wound around and seem to enclose the space (as if nature could be contained). I stood there in awe. How could such a beautiful place exist only 7 blocks from my house? How did I overlook this? I looked at the pond in the clearing. The raindrops danced along the top creating such a serene image. I don't know how long I stood there for. But eventually I turned to leave, a bit hesitant on my walk back. Always looking over my shoulder, trying to claim a memory. Trying to claim the beauty of it in my mind.

{Photos by V.}

Friday, February 12, 2010

A (fashionable) dilemma

Fridays are supposed to be days when I don't have school and, theoretically, have no obligations. This morning I found myself at a work meeting at school, at 10 am. After orchestrating said meeting, I briskly walked to catch a bus. The wind was picking up and my trench coat was blowing about. Secretly I had hoped that the weather would be nice for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics today. But for once this month, it kind of felt like winter.

This city is busy. More buses, more people, but I am still going about my life. I have no tickets to any games and have no plans to watch them on TV. It's strange to me how these big events take place around us, yet I managed to (barely) place myself outside of its grasp. My intentions were to go to William Sonoma to buy red sprinkles for my Eiffel Tower cookies. But they don't have red sprinkles. Neither does Meinhardts. No luck at Choices. It's nearly Valentines Day - where are the red sprinkles in this town?

Feeling slightly flustered and defeated on the matter of the sprinkles, I make the mistake of going into Lord's shoes. The Via Spiga shoes that I want are on sale and, in another moment of weakness, I try them on. Black and gunmetal. A quirky point. A beautiful heel. Lovely! I stroll up and down the store a couple of times, not that it makes a difference - I knew liked them.
"I've had my eye on these since before Christmas," I gush at the sales girl who replies, "But now they're half off!" I recollect that I jokingly told K that if she didn't see me cooking at all in December it's because I bought the shoes.

Oh, but what will I wear them with? And, when will I wear them? I am off to rummage through my closet and fill my planner with situations befitting of these shoes . . .

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pottery to Love

You might know that I am a potter. Earthy red clay sliding through my hands as something comes to life. Shapes, colours and precision are things l love about pottery. I am a lover of great pottery. These are some of my current favorites.
Frances Palmer has a special place in my heart. Her pottery is perfectly imperfect. It's understated. It appears playful, but is secretly complex. Ever since my mum got a vase for Christmas 6 years ago, I'm aspired to her skill and creativity.

Love the rose buds along the lip of this one.


I am also a long time devotee to Picasso's life and work. A little known fact is that he dabbled in ceramics. The texture and movement inspires me in little ways.
Very clearly reminiscent of Greek pottery.

And finally, a local potter - Heather Dahl. I adore red poppies. They are bold, fresh and strong.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Drawing myself out

As I walked to class, the rain was spitting. I straddled the line between wet and dry. Exposure and protection. My drawings were safely stacked inside an over-sized plastic bag, closed off with alligator clips. I walked quickly and they flopped about with my movement.

The studio was quiet and filled only by dim, natural light. Peaceful, only when the sawing outside ceased. That was rare. Easels shoved off to one side, facing every which way. Potential chaos is still. They could be in conversation with each other. They are on the brink of movement; some to be claimed by a student for the next three hours. If ever there is a place where I am still, it is here. Drawing: light, delicate, romantic.

Self portraits enclose the space. Faces are everywhere, except for one wall. There is a series of legs. 14 young women stand in the center, taking it all in. "I think we should start with that one," chimes in a voice. That one being mine - the legs. I can feel my heart start to beat faster. I never feel so emotional vulnerable as I do when I put my art work - a piece of me - on display. And since they are self portraits I am overcome, to shy to speak. But I do. And so does everyone else.

Eyes peer over and around easels, focusing on a still life. A group meditation of sorts. (What happens when it's over?) A deep breath, a line. A glance to the side, a new shape. Coming to life on a thick sheet of paper, a cliche still life of a bowl of fruit and some books. I am sitting to the right of it. The colours of my collage jump at me. I don't want to draw over them. Suppressing them behind ink and charcoal. Here I sit, truly inside my own mind, straddling the easel.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

New Recipes to Try

I read Real Simple magazine - no, I'm not ashamed to admit it! Mostly because it's an off-spring of Martha Stewart, but they have fabulous recipes featured every month.

Here is what I'm cooking right now!
Deep-dish polenta pizza. I changed the toppings around a bit. Mine has red and yellow peppers, chicken, carmelized onion tomato and paprika. It smells wonderful and should be out of the oven in about 10 minutes. Word of the wise: shaping the polenta was a bit difficult. I put more than 1 cup in and it took forever to bind together.

And this is what I'm cooking over the weekend.
Balsamic-glazed lamb meat loaf. I'm going to serve it with a spinach salad. Kind of hoping the weather will be cold - this is a perfect Sunday night dinner.

You can find more great recipes here.

Monday, February 08, 2010

3 o'clock on a Satuday

I gather my gray handbag and cropped jacket. Sarah is back from Paris and today we are going to catch up on each others lives. It feels warm out for February. The sun is out, for a change, and the city can be seen as I walk down the hill to the cafe. Coco et Olive is buzzing with people. Students studying in a corner. Couple reading the paper. Young children enjoying a treat with mum and dad.

Picking up a coffee, I gaze down over the counter top. Elegant little glass jars filled with macrons, ginger snaps and marshmallows. The dainty lids rest over the sugary confections. Too perfect to be lifted. They are a living still life. I turn from the counter to where my coat rests. A toddler is trying to climb on the chair at my table. He giggles and his father entices him away with the promise of a bike ride home.

I open Globe and Mail paper, overflowing with news of the Olympics. Traffic diversions, parking restrictions, a population increasing overnight. It all seems far away. I feel unmoved by it as I sit safely behind the glass of the cafe windows. Sarah arrives; abruptly pulling me from my thoughts.

We settle in with coffees and try to recollect the last 4 months of our lives. How easy it is to forget what has happened to you. Where you have been. It is easy to remember what was not as good. That surprises me most. Picking up a fresh baguette from behind the counter, we exchange travel details. I feel myself coming to life as I think about the prospect of travel. But I also feel a sense of security. My family is returning to Vancouver. After four years of being together, it is even more difficult to be apart. Family isn't just blood. It's those who know you. Those who you break bread with. They are the ones on this journey with you - even if they leave for a little while.

Things that matter

: A presentation for my textile design course
: Getting organized for a busy week at work

This Week
: A meeting with the University of British Columbia President (!)
: Having my valentines over for tea and cookies
: Polishing off my self portraits

This Month
: Getting ahead of school work for the next month
(Why am I always in a state of premature preparation?)
: Making time for myself during the two week holiday - cooking good meals, writing and reading, breathing slowly

This Year
: Finding my way
: Finding myself

Saturday, February 06, 2010

"You have to venture out before you can know what it is like at home."

Something that someone said in my English seminar last Thursday that has resonated with me. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to leave home to go to university. The day finally came four years ago in March, when I found out that I could go to Canada. As soon as the possibility materialized for me, my life began to slowly transform. In my last year of high school, I'd like to think that I knew that I needed to go away. There were a lot of things in my life that I wasn't pleased with. I was overweight and (slightly) self-destructive and just not living up to the potential I now know I have. I don't think at the time I realize how much of an impact an environment has on a person. And now when I go to visit my family, I find that that side of me surfaces every so often and I find myself longing to leave again.

Stepping out on my own has given me the chance to know who I am, independent of the influence of my family. Yes, of course I love them dearly. And there are many arguments to prove that I am still very much of product of my childhood environment; or maybe just that gene pool. But I've truly come to find out that I'm much different from the person I thought I intimately knew for the first 18 years of my life. My first year at UBC was largely defined as a process of navigated myself. I found out that I'm actually very disciplined and more dedicated to what I do than I had experienced at home. I still don't know what at home inhibited me from this -the side that I've come to know as the 'real' me.

I think what's been odd about this whole process is how, off and on, it's led me to feel estranged from my parents and brother. Especially the time when my brother said to me, "Who are you? You never leave the house. You're always working or working out. No one gets you." It was a moment where I realized that I didn't really fit in, and even though I've worked through that, there are still moments when I feel a bit on the outside. I'm not yet officially Canadian. I don't really identify with America or California. I'm a country-less nomad in between systems. I think about this sometimes, and it really freaks me out. It's also exhilarating. I've found a place where I belong, and soon I will belong to it.

As for home, I think I've also come to know it better. It will always be the place where I'm from. I will always be a bit of small town girl with bigger ambitions. I will always dream of riding my horses, but walk the streets in stilettos.

{photo by V.}

But I think that, for me, it's better to say that you have to venture out before you can know what you are like.

Friday, February 05, 2010

A lovely night in

First Friday night in February. Two girls get together to catch up over a home cooked meal and a glass of deep, red wine. Chatting together, she sauteed garlic and red onion in a frying pan. The smells came together in the kitchen, though were soon subdued by the addition of water and chicken broth. The pan turned a brownish colour, but was whitened by the cream cheese. The sauce simmered lightly on the stove and the rosemary chicken baked in the over. All of these flavours would come together soon. Fuseli pasta rested in a her handmade pistachio coloured platter, waiting for it's pairing.

Asparagus, touched with olive oil, crackled under the broiler. She worried they'd burn. Everything came together on the old, oak table top, framed by off white dishes and silver ware. They refilled their glasses and gushed about life, trying times, and future hopes. They're lucky to have each other.

These are the good times, this is the good life.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Something cozy

Kania wrap tops are just that. Last Sunday a girl came into Bedo wearing a creamy white wrap top. It ties beautifully at the back. Had a gorgeous, wide collar. I had to know where she got such a beautiful piece. "Kania," she said.

I've done a bit a of investigative work. $149 buys you this comfy, versatile piece. Kind of expensive but I foresee myself getting a lot of use of it. Strolling around Paris, wearing my large rose colour Coach sunglasses, hopelessly engulfed in the scenery.

The designer is Canadian Stacey Bafi-Yeboa, who was inspired by the crime of wearing overly casual clothing in public (ie pjs). Her pieces are made from cotton, bamboo and lycra. Bafi-Yeboa sought to find the middle ground between sloppy/comfortable and chic/uncomfortable. Personally, I'm usually willing to make the sacrifice without complaints but this is a promising alternative.

You can read more about the designer and her line here or on her website.

If you're in town

Lush green trees. The skyline of the city against the background of the north shore mountains. Biking along the sea. Fresh, local produce and seafood. Innovative restaurants and stores that inspire creativity and new ways of living. This is where I live. These are the things I adore.

Ingenue - Feature lots of local designers. Beautiful clothes and quirky accessories for any occasion. I love the handbag I bought here last November and always get compliments on it.

Turn About - The best consignment store in this city. I have a Marc Jacobs military jacket that picked up for $45. They always have a great selection of designer clothing, handbags and shoes - and always in great condition. I love to purchase trendier pieces here.

Gravity Pope
- Located along 4th Ave, this is a must for shoes. Beautiful displays, a spectrum of designers and brands, and a great clothing store. The modern interior design makes it a fun place to be.

Sights to see
Granville Island Public Market - If you've ever been to Pike's Place market in Seattle, the you know how great markets are. I could wonder around here all day long. Not only are there great vendors, there is the infamous Granville Island Tea Co with the best Vanilla Rooibos known to mankind. Just beyond the bounds of the market in the beautiful sea inlet and a plethora of art galleries.

Spanish Banks Beach - Sitting along the water's edge you can see all of downtown. A spectacular sight in and of itself. Even in the dead of winter, there is something so soothing about the seaside.

Stanley Park - A spectacular haven off to the side of downtown.

Pane e Formaggio - the best Italian deli. I love their lemon chicken panini. And during the summer they have this delicious toasted almond gelato!

The Naam - a 24 hour vegetarian/vegan restaurant. It's always a great place to go no matter what time of the day, and there's something so comforting about it's atmosphere.

Provence Mediterranean Grill - Just down the street from me. The chefs are French transplants and bring all of their fabulous cooking skills to the neighborhood. I love that they menu changes often and they always have delicious offerings. My favorite - the mushroom ravioli in an incredibly delicate white wine sauce and paper thing slices of Parmesan.

What do you adore about your town?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Self portrait update

I love Wednesday mornings. I don't have class until 2, so when I return from the gym I gather myself, and my cup of tea, and I draw. My antique kitchen table is consumed by pencil shavings, willow charcoal and water colours. Quiet music surfaces from the background, and luckily this week, there was no construction noise coming from next door.

I've been working on my self portrait project and I thought I would post what I've done so far (mind you, they are all works in progress). I guess I should also say a few words that speak to my motives as an artist. Yes, I could have pursued this project in about 50 different ways, but legs and shoes capture a lot of what Western culture defines as feminine. And while, I believe I amount to much more than all of those stereotypes, I liked the concept of capturing the self through the material. As well as the phrase, "walk a mile in someone else's shoes."

This one is of a sketch in my book. I'm going to draw my bare feet in one of the images. I've also just realized that the image I've uploaded needs to be rotated.

This is probably my favorite so far. I still have a bit of work to do on the details of the shoes. But I'm so pleased that I was able to get the foreshortening right on that one foot.

My runners. I often feel like these are the shoes that most personify my daily life. I'm always on the go, even if I'm not wearing these. Life is always in motion and you just have to keep up.

Of all my shoes, I think my oxford flats best capture me on the surface. I also felt like the leg position has a certain power of suggestion to it.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


So delicate, light and graceful. Intricate designs and colours that represent true beauty and accomplishment of nature. They are a symbol of change. A sign of spring. And they are one of my favorite things.

Dishtowel at Anthropologie $15.58

Dinner and Salad plate (which I own + the matching tea cups), also at Anthropologie

Bright, embroidered pillows

Water colour and Photography from Esty, which capture the realism and fantasy of these creatures.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Some goals for February

Make a dentist appointment

Go to the gym 5 days a week (Gold star for January on this one!)

Have friends over for dinner at least once - Red wine, Homemade Italian food served in handmade dishes. Long conversations lasting late into the night. Laughs and reflection. Friendship in its most organic state.

Bake cookies for Valentines Day - Mum's sugar cookie recipe. Eiffel tower cookie cutter. Red icing.

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates - A heartbreaking novel that I am enthralled by. Family and the ties we are willing to break to maintain an image. The pain that we bring to the ones we love the most.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Walk around downtown while the Olympics are in town. They're still two weeks away, but Vancouver is buzzing with excitement!

Finalize Europe trip itinerary - London, Paris, Scotland. A tour of author's homes - Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Keats, Stein. Lives that in times that I day dream about.

Work on an outline for thesis paper