Sunday, June 22, 2014

So you want to be a burlesque dancer...

My friend invited me out to a burlesque show last night.  It was not really what I was expecting.  And, yet, so much more! It was every body type you could imagine, which just made me so happy.  Long slender legs to curvaceous booty! 

I was expecting a group of skinny flexible dancers in lace and feathers.  Oh there were lace and feathers, but there was also head scarves, leopard print, books and so much more.

At the end of the show they had a bit of a contest. All you had to do was shout profanities at the MC when she announced a letter that it had to start with.  Three people got to go up on stage to participate, and I was one of them. I won with... Ahem... The C-word... And XXX.  That one was the finale.  Got me a $50 gift certificate toward a tattoo. 

I found it fascinating.  And fun.  I'm seriously considering joining the troupe.  Haven't had the discussion with the hubby yet, but I could totally rock this! Plus it would go along well with my new endeavour of being a Passion Party consultant.  Dildos and burlesque! Well, this isn't exactly what I had in mind when I needed a change from dog grooming, but it's definitely different.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

New beginnings

Cheesy name for a post, I know.  But it pretty much sums it up. For those who have kept up with my blog, you were probably well aware that life as a dog groomer was coming to an end and I intended to take life in a more creative direction. Well, it's a work in progress, but it is progress!

It has been almost two months since my last blog post.  This is what happens with such a big change.  It has been nothing but chaos for two months.  I first wrote "stress" instead of "chaos", but stress is definitely not the right word.  It has actually been relatively stress-free.  Or stress-releasing, even. 

The promise of a new adventure lifted a lot of weight from my shoulders.  I could have fun with each step of the process because I didn't have to think about what came next.  Or three steps down the line. I had no idea! Not a clue what was coming.  No idea where we were going to live.  No jobs lined up.  Yeah okay, I had my moments that drive Dan a little crazy while I was up at 6am doing research on places for rent and job openings so that I had a working list if who to start calling at 9.  I think the business owner in me is still a little bit of a hard-ass that way.  

Well, we took the first apartment that accepted us and our cat and planned the move.  Left everything behind with no real plans.  I did manage to line up one job before the big move, but I still had no idea how much I would be making or how many hours.  

The job was at a little quilting shop called Serge and Sew.  Two weeks into it and I absolutely love it.  It's creative.  The girls are wonderful.  And there are so many opportunities to learn new things.  But, it definitely is not full time.  And low pay.  And it's worth it.  

I have managed to acquire a second job at a cafe.  I don't much care for the job.  It's pretty slack. The girls are great, but it really is a bit mind numbing with no potential for progress or knowledge to be obtained. I've always hated working with food.  But it's work.  If it gives me enough money to buy more fabric...  ;)

Dan has also managed to get a job at a great place.  We have settled in nicely to our new home where we can watch drug deals and hookers in the streets from our windows.  Don't get me wrong, it's a decent little apartment.  We are within walking distance to the ocean and one of my best friends' house. At least we can afford it.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Plastic bag dress

Earth day.  (Okay so I'm a little behind on this blog.)  Each year HOPE Society is plagued with the concept of what to do to celebrate Earth Day.  Last year we took pictures of environmentally friendly products sold in stores all over town.  The year before we had an upcycling contest to try to encourage people to come up with creative ways to reuse things. This year, I wanted to make a statement.

Not sure how much of a statement we actually made.  My original thought was to make a big pyramid of the amount of disposable cups Houston goes through every year.  But of course that would mean using a lot of disposable cups. 

So I tried to come up with something that could be made of waste that's already been used.  Plastic bags seemed to be a good option.  They are typically still clean after use and it's easy to collect a lot of them in a short period of time.  Plus they are a big environmental issue.  

At first I wanted to make a big flag out of the bags.  There was an issue of where one could fly such a flag. And if it tore, there would be litter issues. So Cindy and I came up with the idea of making a plastic bag dress! I was very excited about it.  We asked her daughter to be the model and  immediately made a duct tape mannequin.  (

I worked on the dress at every opportunity over the next few days as I was running out of time to make a display for Earth Day.  But I got it done and was fairly happy with the results.  

Unfortunately, Cindy was having trouble coming up with good information on plastic bag waste to put up as part of the display with the dress.  Not that she couldn't find info.  It's just that the more she dug, the more she found that there wasn't much persuasive evidence against them.  Apparently, it take approximately 132 uses of a reusable bag to compensate for the extra pollution and energy use to make them compared to a disposable bag. You would need a pretty durable bag to get through that many shopping trips.  If you use them once a week, that's over two and a half years.  And even biodegradable paper bags are more environmentally damaging because they take so much more to produce them than disposable plastic. 

We opted to set up a previously used display consisting of the reduce, reuse, recycle concept (with emphasis on the reduce and reuse part) in an effort to reduce more waste by reusing a display rather than making a whole new one.  It wasn't really my initial vision, but it did attract attention. Kids especially thought it was cool because the dress was made for their schoolmate.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Moving to Nanaimo

As you may or may not be aware, I am moving to Nanaimo next month.  The entire process has felt delayed for me.  I feel like if I can just pack a little bit here and there, there won't be so much to do right at the end.  But of course it's hard to pack your life up for a couple months.

DVDs, sure. Toiletries, nope.  Gotta keep those out.  Kitchen, that's gotta stay. Camping gear, guess I can pack that.  Well it's basically already packed.  Craft supplies, hell no! Those will be out until I absolutely have to pack that room up.

Dan figures we can just wait until we get there to find a place.  I'm definitely not that optimistic.  I've been looking.  Not crazy-hunting mind you.  But I've browsed kijiji. And I've contacted a few people.  One guy was ready to give me a call in a few hours to talk about it and then suddenly just stopped replying to my emails altogether! *le sigh*

Socializing has probably been the biggest time consumer lately.  We want to be able to see everyone at least one more time before we go. And vice versa.  My weekends are all already planned before we go.  Girls night out, dinners, geocaching getaway, visitors from out of town, board game nights.  I'm booked up.  

Plus I've been helping Dan out with his online gaming community podcasts.  Not that I mind.  I'm actually really enjoying it. But you don't just get extra time in a week to do these things.  It has to squeeze something else out.  I've been having a hard time getting any crafting in.  Rental research has replaced my computer time for uploading items onto Etsy or checking my emails.

So, alas, crafting time has become minimal.  And I imagine it will stay that way until we are settled in the new place in Nanaimo.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

T-Shirt Quilt

I posted on Facebook asking for quilt ideas.  A friend of mine asked if I could make a quilt out of all of her old t-shirts.  She had just gathered them to take them to the thrift store, but thought that this would be a much better idea.  She wouldn't have to get rid of all her favourite shirts!

I accepted the challenge, as I know that t-shirt fabric is not the most fun material to work with.  But it would be an adventure.  My favourite part is always the designing.  So I sketched out a plan.
With only 10 shirts to work with, I had to come up with a pattern to make it bigger than a baby blanket.  PINTEREST! I found so many beautiful t-shirt quilts.  Here are some of the ones I really liked:

I think you can see which one I took my inspiration from the most.  I did not, however, choose to use other material for the accents and borders.  I wanted to use as much of the t-shirts as possible so there was as little waste as possible.  

And so it began! The most difficult part of this project was also the most forgiving.  The thing about jersey fabric (as t-shirts are most often made of) is that they have a lot of stretch, a lot of drape to them.  The most taxing thing I found was that they rolled up on the edges.  It wasn't always easy to square up the fabric. Since it stretches, it gets skewed easily.  I mainly just tried to lay it flat with no wrinkles in a way that it was relaxed with no tension on it.

The fact that it stretched also meant that if I was a tad off in managing to get it square, it would still work.  If I found that over a length of two edges to be sewn together, they were off by about a quarter inch.  The shorter one could just be stretched ever so slightly to end up matching in the whole grand scheme of the quilt.

(The back)

I had a lot of fun with this project, although I feel like it has rather taken over getting anything else done with Flouster.  I've been falling behind on blogs. I haven't made anything else since I started this except for helping a friend make a Velma costume for her little girl's skating recital.  (Which she did fabulous at! I got to go and watch.)  I haven't even posted all the items that I already have up on the Etsy website.  I have, despite all this, been getting more hits on my Etsy page, though I highly credit adding custom engraved dog tags to my store for that... ...oddly enough.

I digress, after 133 pieces and approximately 55 hours of work, the t-shirt quilt is now finished.  It is a good snuggle-up-on-the-couch size at 56"x64" and is loved by my friend, whom I made it for.

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Monday, March 24, 2014


Every once in a while, I like to review my waste.  Nobody's perfect.  I certainly put out a can for the garbage truck on occasion. Granted it's only every month and a half or two. But I still like to see if I can reduce it even more.
As you can see, my garbage cans are filled mostly with facial tissues.  Might not seem like such a huge deal.  Tissue is just paper, right? That's recyclable and biodegradable. True.  But like paper cups, eventually they add up to a lot even though a single one is not so bad. Also, when you buy tissues, they come in a box with a plastic opening. And if you buy a bunch of them, the pack is wrapped in plastic.  So every time you throw away a tissue, you throw away a little bit of plastic used to get it to you.  (I actually just use toilet paper, but the same principle applies with plastic packaging and toilet paper rolls.)
Well, it's a fairly obvious answer. Hankies! Hankies have been phased out in the name of convenience and germophobia! I am no germophobe. And as it is plainly a large contribution to my household waste, I am ready to make the switch!

decided to make some.  I have no idea where you could buy hankies anyway.  I had a tiny bit of starry flannel so I made a couple out of that, but took advantage of the many receiving blankets I had on hand (for some reason?). With my allergies, a couple wasn't going to cut it.  
I cut out many 10x10 squares, rounded the corners, used a zig zag stitch around the edge to prevent unraveling and voila! Hankies! I keep a stack in my towel closet and grab a couple to get me through the day. Bye bye wads of tissue waste!

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Coaster Tutorial

I think this was one of the first things I ever learned to sew.  So simple! They make cute gifts. Or you can keep a few different sets around for different occasions. Thought I'd share the how to.

1: Pick out two fabrics you like and think would look good together.
2: Cut out 3 squares of fabric A and two of fabric B. Size depends on how big you'd like the coaster. I cut 4.5" (11.5cm) squares for a 4" (10cm) coaster.  Just add half an inch to the size you'd like for the seams. 

3: Fold two of the fabric A squares and both fabric B squares from one corner to the opposite for a right triangle and iron.

4: Arrange as in photo above. With the still square fabric A face up, then the four triangles layered over one another like a pinwheel. Pin in place.

5: Sew around the edges.

6: Cut the corners on a 45° angle. This is so you don't get a big lump of fabric in the finished piece. Be careful not to cut the thread!

7: Turn inside out through the space in the centre of the triangles.

8: I used a crochet hook to poke the corners out.

9: Iron flat and voila! Cute fabric coaster.
Repeat for a set and tie with ribbon to give as a gift. 

Try different colour combos.  A good variation is to fold the fabric into rectangles instead of triangles.

Happy sewing!

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Handmade is Just Better

I love handmade items. They are my favourite gifts to give and receive. I find they are typically a higher quality and definitely more unique than factory-made. And yes, more expensive.  But I try to support others who make things that I can't.

So when I decided I needed a holder for my new Flouster business cards, I didn't just go and order a plastic one for three bucks from Amazon or Staples. I went on Etsy and looked for ideas. I was thinking a nice wooden one.  But I saw a pottery card holder and it was gorgeous! Now the other thing I love to do is support local artisans rather than distant ones.  You know, reduce shipping fuel and keep my money as local as possible.  So I brought the idea to a potter in the next town over.  She made me a gorgeous card holder! Twenty-two dollars versus three, but my money sure isn't going to China. She does fabulous work and it's worth every penny. 

I also spontaneously picked up a couple buttons for a friend of mine who just so happens to be a fan of this lady's work. She was pretty happy with her random present. 

On a bit of a side note... For my birthday last month, I was stoked to receive not one, but two hand made cards. It was fantastic! Here's the one I got from Susan:

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Passion into Work

How many of you love your job?  I don't.  I'm sure you're aware of that if you've been reading my blog for more than a couple months.  Well, I'm on my way to getting out of it.  Store is for sale.  Everything is on clearance, now.  Getting ready to move.

But... I have no idea where I'm headed.  Not physically.  Dan and I are planning on moving to Nanaimo or near there.  But as far as a job goes, we have no clue what awaits us.  We're just those kind of people.  No plan is okay.  However, for me, I like to at least have a direction.  Thus far, my direction has been that I want to get into something environmental. Well, that's a pretty broad spectrum of careers! I need to figure out what I actually want to do if I am to get there.

I had an appointment yesterday at our local community college.  I had the expectation that I would say, "What jobs are available in the environmental spectrum?" and the director would provide me a list.  Well, when I asked him, he was at a loss.  Apparently most people come with a career and need to figure out how to get there.  I must not be most  people because if I knew what career I wanted, I could probably figure out how to get there pretty easily myself.  What I needed was guidance on a choice.  We had a pretty lengthy and interesting discussion during which I felt like I was of little use.

I've sort of envisioned my ideal career as being an environmental engineer.  Perhaps designing eco-friendly housing or a more efficient solar panel or wind turbine.  But I fear the debt that goes along with extensive schooling.  So we ruled out any careers that required many years at school.

Then we looked at more simplistic ideas.  He seemed interested in the passion I put behind my beliefs.  Suggested I might be a good instructor.  Teach people how to go green through workshops or visiting schools.  But I feel like I'm not enough of an expert on anything green to teach others.  I would need to learn first.  I thought maybe I could be a farmer's market manager.  I have a little experience with that.  Not a really easy career to get into as most markets have a manager for life and then the torch is passed on rather than applied for in many cases.  We talked about making and selling compost.  Well, you need land for that.  Maybe I could invent new ways to make your house less energy intensive using simple materials rather than purchases expensive new devices.  That's sort of in the direction of eco-engineering.  But how could I test these things out?

It seems every direction had a few hurdles.  Which is fine, mostly.  I don't mind having barriers to overcome along the way, but I still felt blocked by that eureka moment when I would finally say, "YES! That's the career! That's what I want to be when I grow up!"

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Roll Up The Rim

It's that time of year again... Roll Up the Rim at Tim Horton's...  The bane of my coffee drinking existence as an environmentalist...

Many people, at least in northern BC, view Roll Up the Rim as one of the first signs of spring.  Sure.  By the time the contest is over each year, the snow is melting and all those "disposable" cups that didn't make it to a waste transfer station to decay surface from under their icy grave.  So yeah, I guess it's a sign that spring has arrived.

There are millions of prizes to be won. Millions of cups manufactured for this contest every year. 270,237,000 were made for the contest in 2007.  I imagine more were made each year since then. It just astounds me that in this time, when the world is trying to figure out how to mitigate climate change and other environmental impacts, there is a contest that encourages the use of "disposable" cups. 

Now, to be fair, you can participate in Roll Up the Rim to Win without actually getting a cup.  You can go to their website and play the online version where you spin a wheel.  They call it Roll Up Roulette. You get two chances to play each day with extra plays when you share it on Facebook or wherever.  I can't really see the distribution of prizes being fair between cups and the online version.  My guess is more of the big prizes are given out to rim-rollers. But there is a choice. 
You can, as I do, refuse the cup when they hand it to you with your filled reusable cup.  But be warned, they pretty much always look at you like you have two heads.  I use my travel mug as a way to reduce the amount of garbage and pollution from manufacturing.  And I don't intend to be wooed away from that principle by the chance at a 2014 Toyota Corolla (I have a 1988 Toyota Corolla that works just fine.  Sorta.).  A travel mug may affect the environment more than one "disposable" cup. But it only takes approximately 26 uses for that to become the reverse. (You know, depending on the mug you get - metal versus plastic, size, blah, blah, blah.)  If you get coffee every day, that is less than one month.  

I don't want to do the cliché Tim Horton's versus Starbucks thing, but I'm going to. The Roll Up the Rim is not the only environmental issue I've had with them.  Whereas Starbucks actually makes Cold Cups.  Tim Horton's has, on multiple occasions, refused to use my reusable cold drink cup because of the special design of their cups to work with their machines.  Without that lip that the lid creates, the Iced Capp would spray everywhere when mixed.  Yet! They haven't jumped on the idea of creating a reusable version.  I have also written to them about making Iced Capp Cups.  I no longer even bother to bring one, as it never seems to make a difference anyway.  I now prefer to go get a screamer from Husky.  I can use my reusable cold drink cup there.  (I don't really care for Starbucks Frappuccinos.) 

I go to Tim Hortons.  Don't think I'm all Tim Hortons is EEEVVIIILLL DON'T BUY FROM THEM!! I own this very mug.  We go there occasionally for a nice outing.  Like I said earlier, I just refuse the Roll Up the Rim cup when they hand it to me.  I have, however, sent them a letter each year at this time of year encouraging them to find a better way to promote their products.  I always get a response that they "understand my concern" and they are "always looking for ways to help the environment". But no indication that this contest will stop any time soon.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

I was born on Friday February 12, 1988 at 11:27pm. That means that I just turned 26 years of age last week. I wasn't showered in presents (Which is great, since I'm not a fan of "stuff" around my house that I don't really use.), but it was a lot of fun. My mommy even put together goody bags! (It's true)
My hunny and I are not ritzy people by any stretch of the imagination.  We not chose to celebrate our birthdays this year (his being 11 days before mine) surrounded by friends, playing board games. We like learning new games and at this party it was Gloom.

The basis behind this game is that everyone gets 5 family members and you try to make depressing things happen to your own family and make good things happen to your opponents.  Your family manners will often have untimely deaths and the winner is the player with the family that has the lowest Self-Worth Score.  

Sounds depressing, right? Actually, it is quite hilarious.  Not only are the tragedies that occur thing such as "pursued by poodles" or "mocked by midgets", but you get to make up some ridiculous story that goes along with how the tragedy (or uplifting event) happened, adding on to what other players have already said about that specific character. 
The other really cool thing about this game is the card design.  They are clear plastic with all the woes and wonders that each character experiences stacked upon the character, still showing the character and scores from other cards beneath them.  It was the highlight of the evening of games.  
The morning after game night, I went with a couple friends on a 717m snowshoe with the average incline being somewhere around 45°.  It certainly wasn't a beginner snowshoe trail. But at the end were enormous ice falls.  It was worth every step, including the ridiculously steep part right at the end.  We wound up sliding on our bums down that part.  I was very thankful that my friend managed to spread her legs before slamming into me and did not impale me with her snowshoes.  
That same friend gave me a new base layer shirt in my favourite colours, which I happily used on the hike. I came home soaked from the dripping icicles and melting snow and with a big grin on my face from the experience.  I would, however, bring a pair of poles next time.
On my actual birthday, the party having been held on a weekend when it was convenient for most, me and the hubby spend the evening playing old school video games. Game, I should say.  We played the original Mario Party on Nintendo 64.  I tell ya, 64 bits on a big screen looks AWFUL!. But it was a blast.  Took us three hours to get through 50 rounds. And it was a pretty close game the entire time. I was mostly in the lead until the very end when he got 7 more coins than me.  Oh! But I had forgotten about the awards at the end and I got an extra star for the win.  That's right! I'M A SUPERSTAR!!

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