Friday I’m in Love: Tea

I have had a *wonderful* two weeks off over the holidays during which time I’ve accomplished very very little. But that’s ok. I wanted this time to rest, relax, catch up on some much needed sleep, and to properly distance myself from work (you know…to stop the constant hum of work-related crap constantly circling the back of my mind).

In these respects, my vacation was a grand success. A large part of which is due to the time I took to just sit, read, watch old movies, or play World of Goo, Contre Jour or Machinarium on my new iPad (thank you Stuart!). Regardless what I was doing, though, I did it with a cup mug of tea…and with homemade cookies (thank you Aunt Paige!).

Since I’ve been so tea-focused of late, here are few tea-related items I’m currently loving:

Pinned by Kaitlyn Titus via Beauty and Grace

hairbrainedschemes’ A Cup of Tea and a Long Book print

Pinned by Emma Edkins via Marley.and.Me

Skinny laMinx’s Everyone Came to Tea tea towel

Pinned by lorentsia via source

Teresa Doyle performing “You’re My Cup of Tea” (skip to about 1m 45sec to go immediately to the song).

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Chair Challenge

Of all the household items I need to purchase for my house, I never thought that dining/kitchen chairs would be the most difficult. Without exaggerating, I’ve been searching for months. Why is it so very complicated? Here’s why:

1. The chairs must be aesthetically pleasing to me.
If this were the only criteria, I’d be done. But, alas, many of the chairs I think look beautiful, don’t necessarily feel beautiful once you actually sit on them. Or else they send shivers up my boys’ spine, making him feel like he’s been thrown back in time and is sitting in high school detention. I’m looking at YOU fiberglass shell chairs.

(I should note at this moment that I LOVE these chairs. As in, I abso-freaking-lutely ADORE them, and still harbour the hope that we’ll end up buying a mix of chairs for our dining room table, these included…though as a purist, I insist they be made of fiberglass and not plastic.)

2. The chairs must be well-constructed and sturdy.
We’ve sat in a lot of chairs over the last few months. And every single one of them has been subjected to the “wiggle test”…as in, sit down, and wiggle about. Does the chair feel solid? Does it feel like you might topple off it? Or that it might bust?

Alas, one of my most budget-friendly picks from IKEA failed the wiggle test.

(IKEA’s transparent Tobias chair was too wobbly and, according to the boy, too prone to scratches.)

It also means that the chair needs to look like it’s well-made. If we’re going to spend $300+ on a chair, it’s gotta look like it’s worth it. Though it was comfortable (and passed the wiggle test), the Calligaris Flair chair did not pass the “it looks like it’s worth it” test.

(Surprisingly, the Flair Chair‘s seat upholstery was rather cheap looking once we really examined it.)

3. The chairs must “fit” us.
In other words they need to be comfortable for both a 6-footer and a 5-footer…the length of our respective legs and bodies play a big role in how each chair “fits”. Unfortunately, what is comfortable for one of us can be pretty uncomfortable for the other. A chair back that reaches my shoulder can jab my boy in the middle of his back…or one that is deep enough to sit comfortably and support his thighs leaves my feet dangling like a kid.

(These vintage chairs from Antiquités Curiosités on Montreal’s Amherst street were beautiful….but just didn’t fit my boy’s long legs.)

Add all of these criteria up, and suddenly you’re rejecting chairs left, right, and centre….but not all of them. Our current front-runner is sohoConcept’s Patara chair:

It looks great; doesn’t look like a detention/school chair; passes the wiggle test; looks well-made; and mostly fits us both…it’s a touch tall for me, but as a shrimp I’m used to it and can totally live with it.

We’ve yet to pull the trigger, though, as they carry a pretty hefty price tag…here’s where my “mix and match” idea may come into play!

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Random Photos (part deux)

More often than not this is the sort of photo I take:

I take my time, I try to come up with an interesting composition and, most importantly, there’s nobody in it. I’ll get into position, frame my shot, and then stand (or crouch), sometimes waiting minutes just to take my photo during that small window in which nobody is in my viewfinder.

Granted, it wasn’t too difficult to do in the above photo taken at the Whirlpool on the Niagara River…there was only a small handful of people there…and I was mighty glad of it.

Last week, I bemoaned my inability to take spontaneous photos. Looking through my library tonight I found evidence that, every once in a blue moon, I do manage to snap a super spontaneous photo…

A few years back while vacationing in Italy, after an exhausting day of walking way past the Aurelian Wall to the catacombs and back into Rome again, when I was just dying to get back to my hotel room and never use my feet again….we passed a wedding party posing in front of the Colosseum. I couldn’t resist: I pulled out my camera, and as I was hurrying by, took one quick photo of the happy (and wholly unknown) couple.

It was spontaneous. It was well-timed. And it was of complete strangers….something I’m normally too embarrassed to do. But having seen the shots my boyfriend takes of “the locals” and having fake posed so he can snap a photo of the homeless guy behind me…I now see the value of taking photos of strangers. Seeing how they’re interacting with and reacting to their environment can offer you a whole new perspective and appreciation of a place or a view.

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Friday I’m in Love: Cats

I’ve been lacking motivation to post these days, and have been overall kinda blah.

I think a large contributing factor has been the death of my cat. Not long after our move, my little Weasley developed complications resulting from his rippling skin syndrome….and we had to make the heartbreaking decision to put him down.

He was an amazing cat. His fur was sublimely soft, he had beautiful long whiskers, and he loved to talk. You could hold an entire conversation with him, and never once feel like you were being silly because he listened…and answered. He was just so full of personality.

I still look for him everywhere and miss him like crazy. A side effect that I think might be exacerbated by the fact that I still find his fur everywhere, is that I’ve become a little cat crazy. Like, crazy cat lady crazy.

Case in point:

On my recent vacation in Barbados I befriended a stray whom my boyfriend dubbed Kittimus Cattimus. We were staying in a little cottage on the beach, and she became a regular: there to greet us every morning, and insisting we pet her just a little more before we went to bed every night.

She was a hyper, yet endearing, little bugger. If I could have, I’d have packed her up in my suitcase and brought her home. Since I couldn’t, I’ve been obsessing about cats in other ways…

1. Clockwork Kitty / 2. Patchwork calico cat / 3. Vintage cat medical model
4. Cat bead charms / 5. Golden kitten ring

So what’s the verdict? Am I a crazy cat lady? Or is that moniker reserved for ladies actually owning multiple cats (either real or ceramic)? In my defence, I haven’t actually purchased any of the above items…though the steampunk kitty is pretty tempting (he looks remarkably like Weasley, doesn’t he?)

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Random Photos (part un)

I failed miserably at taking a photo a day. I also completely failed at taking everyday photos on a regular basis, which I thought would be easier than taking photos on a daily basis (I guess it wasn’t). As a result, I think I’ve become a little gun shy: I haven’t been taking ANY photos at all.

To try and re-inspire myself…photographically speaking…I am going to randomly highlight photos from my library that I like and enjoy, in the hopes they’ll remind me what I like about photography, and get me snapping again.

Here we go:

My boy took this photo of me on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls. I like the feeling you get that it was taken almost unexpectedly (like he was caught in the act). This is the kind of spontaneous photo my boyfriend excels at taking. Once in awhile he’ll actually manage to snap a super spontaneous shot that doesn’t show the subject (umm…me) as a clueless mouth-breather.

My take-away from this photo: Don’t always try to take the perfect picture. Take more chances and just press the button already. It’s digital, what is there to lose?

I love details. I especially love being able to capture the details that initially drew me in to something, and that helped create an emotional response to it. I’m not always successful at doing this (ok, I’m hardly ever successful at doing this). But I keep trying: in this closeup of the Vietnam Woman’s Veterans Memorial I made a valiant attempt to do so…look at the expressions on the faces, the texture of the hair and the clothes (and the teeth!)…

This is one of my favourite photos of my late cat Weasley…it didn’t matter that I had a crappy camera at the time, or that I barely knew how to use it. It was taken at just the right time of day, providing the perfect lighting: sunlight streaming in the window behind him glows beautifully off his back, and highlights his plentiful whiskers (God, I loved those whiskers of his). Sometimes everything just kind of falls in to place, and we manage to capture it.

I love it when that happens.

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