Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Birthday

Originally uploaded by ohsoretro
So another year is winding down & that means it's time to do the annual year in review meme... although to be honest I don't think this will be the most interesting year to review seeing as how I can't really remember anything that happened. :)

2008 Year In Review

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Ate tomatoes. (told you it wasn't an exciting year...) Got a cat. Had a real grown up dinner party. Saved money.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Most of them, except giving up caffeine. I gave up giving up caffeine though. I did challenge my agoraphobia and was finally able to eat in restaurants, lost weight and maintained a healthier diet and spent less time online. I didn't get my teeth fixed. I wanted to save enough money for a new kitchen table set too and I did but won't be buying it until we move in the spring.

2009 resolutions are to not buy anything until I need it (clothing, supplies, food, etc), to read more, to stop using emoticons (seriously) and to get my drivers license. And to get my teeth fixed. I'm not holding my breath on that one though.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin had a baby boy. Ryan and Odessa had a baby boy. Laura and Ben and Robb and Kirsten are expecting in the spring. I got a cat, which is close enough for me.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
It was a good death free year.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A nicer place to live with Randy, with a dishwasher and balcony. More time with friends.

7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Probably the day the townhouse caught fire.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Hitting 1000 sales on Etsy.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Had to borrow money from my parents one month to pay the rent.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Had a wicked flu in the spring, lost 15 lbs which kick started my new health consciousness. Salad is my friend.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Hmm... I don't think I made any large purchases this year.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Randy did really well at his co-op job and was asked to be a full time staff member next spring when he graduated. My brother took a vacation by himself to deal with his agoraphobia. My parents are finally happy in thier new house. I wasn't lazy.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Same answer as the last 8 yrs, George Bush.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, cat food, interfacing

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

16. What songs will always remind you of 2008?
future of the left - the lord hates a coward
fleet foxes - blue ridge mountains
marnie stern - the package is wrapped

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. Happier or sadder? happier
ii. Thinner or fatter? thinner
iii. richer or poorer? richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Hanging out with friends, going out.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Playing Packrat.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With a lot of food.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
My mom.

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
5 yr anniversary in June 08 <3

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favourite TV program?
Nancy Grace haha. I'm addicted to that shit.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Hate is weak.

26. What was the best book you read?
Pride & Predjudice

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Future of the Left

28. What did you want and get?
A cat to keep away the mice.

29. What was your favourite film of this year?
Probably Step Brothers. No Country for Old Men, Religulous and Kung Fu Panda were good too.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 30 and I had a lovely dinner with my fiance to celebrate my oldness.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
It involved a lot of dresses and tights in the summer and jumpers and turtlenecks in the winter.

33. What kept you sane?
Wine. Books. Mr Boots.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I had Obama fever. Also had a crush on Craig Ferguson.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The Canadian and the US elections.

36. Who did you miss?
I would have liked to have spent more time with my friends but otherwise I was ok this year.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008:
Drama breeds drama. Mind your own business and let others mind theirs. Quiet is good.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
I pull back a bow towards the crowds.
I cannot stop even if it is allowed.
I spell your name out in the sand are you proud?
The arrow arches and it comes pouring down

There are dimensions I must enter to see what I am made of.
There are dimensions I must enter to see what I am made of.
The sea, these things I see, blow through.
What's right, this thing I fight, is good

Is there no way out of my mind?
I see beautiful and shimmering signs.
The Celtic Knights are calling me from behind.
You rearrange your mind, you rearrange your mind
Marnie Stern - The Package is Wrapped

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bread for Everybody!

Since it's so cold and snowy out I've been in the mood to bake. Yesterday we made an amazing lemon pound cake for my birthday (yum) and today I'm going to whip up a batch of whole wheat honey bread to have for breakfast tomorrow morning with my boyfriend who is staying over this weekend.

Here's my 2 favourite Wholewheat Honey recipes - the bread is delicious when cut into thick slices and toasted, then slathered with warm butter and peanut butter. For reference I make my dough in a bread machine on the dough setting, then remove it and proceed as a regular dough but you can alter the recipe to either bake in a bread machine or to be made entirely by hand.

100% Whole Wheat Honey Bread

1 1/4C Water
2 tbsp. shortening (I use margarine)
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. salt
3 1/4C Whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp. yeast

1) measure ingredients into the baking pan in the proper order (water, shortening, honey, molasses, salt, flour, yeast)
2) select dough setting (the 2 hour setting, 1 hour mix 1 hour rise)
3) when dough is complete remove from pan onto lightly floured surface, punch down and kneed several times.
4) shape dough and place in glass bread pan
5) cover and let rise for 2 hours in a warm spot (I use the oven)
6) preheat oven to 350, bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Honey Wheat Sandwich Rolls

1 1/4 C warm milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 C honey
3/4 tsp. salt
2 3/4 C white (bread) flour
1 C whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp yeast
topping: 2 tbsp melted butter or olive oil

1) measure ingredients into the baking pan in the proper order (milk, egg, butter, honey, salt, flours, yeast)
2) select dough setting (the 2 hour setting, 1 hour mix 1 hour rise)
3) when dough is complete remove from pan onto lightly floured surface and roll out to 3/4" thick.
4) Cut out rolls with a 3" or 4" biscuit cutter (or glass dipped in flour) and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
5) Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.
6) When rolls are finished baking brush with melted butter or olive oil.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Etsy Christmas List

After spending too much time online this morning and incessantly tweeting Etsy finds to my followers, who I am sure are sick of me already and it's not even noon, I decided to put together a little list of Etsy finds that I wouldn't mind finding under my Christmas tree this year. This will also serve as a not so subtle hint to my boyfriend who once gave me an unwrapped VCR the day after Christmas (that he purchased at a Boxing Day sale) with a plastic bag of used VHS tapes... oh yes it gets worse.. one of the tapes was a Gallagher special. I know it's the thought that counts but really, a used Gallagher VHS is the kind of thought I can do without.

My Etsy Christmas Wish List:

1. Small Bunny Vase by prettyrandomobjects

Is this not the cutest thing you've ever seen? I almost can't stand it! I have a few ceramic bunnies that this would look great grouped with on my desk. It's such a sweet and simple design, I don't know what girl wouldn't love it.

2. Botanical Still II Print by stephanielevy

Stephanie Levy is an American artist living in Germany who creates beautiful illustrations of everyday things like living rooms and window sills with a modern design element to them. These would look great in a grouping of 3 or more down a hallway or above a table. I would love any of her Botanical prints, or better yet all of them.

3. iPhone and iPod Touch Cozy (Sir Hamilton) by annamatic

This is one of the most clever iPod holder designs I have seen, although I would probably giggle to myself everytime I put my iPod up Sir Hamiltons bottom. Nevermind the fact that I don't even have an iPod touch (yet) but this might be all the incentive I need.

4. Hogweed - Coptic bound journal in dark teal by paperiaarre

I've been journalling since my 12th birthday when I received a 5 year diary complete with a lock and key. The majority of them have been destroyed (believe me, no one needed to read about my teen years) but now that I am all grown up I love to pick out the perfect new journal, one that I will keep on the shelves and be drawn to fill with musing every evening. This is one of those books. I want two, one in teal and one in linen.

5. Prairie Hoody 2-Way Zip Hoody Jacket Dress by SelenaEon

I've had this jacket dress on my favourites for ever - it's one of those items I go and look at now and then to see if it's sold or if I can still hold out hope. I love the design, the chest and back detailing, the ruffle skirt, the gathered sleeves and pockets, the color.. a lot of work went into this dress. I might just have to save up my Christmas money and buy it for myself.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Own The Hour

Own The Hour: Independent Etsy Promotion, Fresh Every Hour

If you haven't heard of Own The Hour yet you will soon. OTH is an independent promotion website for Etsy sellers offering 12 spots each hour in a treasury like format. It's very simple, it's very cheap and best of all it works! I've used it a few times already, at 50 cents a pop it's basically pocket change.

My results; an average increase of 30-50 views, a whole bunch of new hearts (thanks guys!) and 1 sale. Not too shabby for a website that just launched this month. Own The Hour is already selling out daily - more proof that social media marketing works (and works fast!)

Here's a tip: Buy midnight. That's when the next days time slots open up so you're guaranteed to get a ton of traffic! Noon is good (think lunch break) and of course the coveted evening spots - but be quick, they sell out very fast.

Monday, November 17, 2008

We've come a long way baby.

Somehow or other my 3 year Etsy-versary is coming up. It's shocking, I know - where did all that time go? Have I really made over 1000 things? No wonder my fingers are so sore. I'm thankful for that time though because it's allowed me to learn and grow not only as a seamstress but as a business owner, marketer, graphic designer and photographer.

I've been looking back at my first sold items - and cringing. I decided to re-do my first big seller, the check book cover in Alexander Henrys Light Bright fabric. Version 2 has a few upgrades, a pen holder, bigger pockets and a snap for extra security.

And here's the original listing. I am still using this check book holder by the way. It was so cute I had to keep one for myself. (I won't even tell you how many wristlets I have kept over the years.)

What a difference 3 years make! This not only goes to show my own evolution, but just how far the online marketplace has come. Your image is important but your key to success? Your customers actually being able to see those images.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

365, again.

Originally uploaded by ohsoretro
I recently started a new 365 - you know, the flickr once-a-day photo project. I love the idea, in theory, but in practice I'm not so good.. as you can probably tell from my pitiful lack of blog updates. (I blame twitter. How am I supposed to get anything done when I'm tweeting all day?)

It's easier this time since my subject is so cute, and furry. The first time was around the house macro photos, and I made it three months but there's only so much stuff around the house to photograph. Mr Boots, on the other hand, is endlessly entertaining. He spends most of his time sitting next to me on top of the record player while I'm on the computer and I can't help but want to photograph all the sweet little things he does, how he tucks in his paws or rolls on his side or does a big meow at me if I'm ignoring him. I realize this fast tracks me into crazy cat lady status but I'm ok with that. After all I'm going to be 30 soon, I'm not married and I live in a basement apartment. Let's face it, I am a crazy cat lady.

Feel free to follow along Mr Boots' 365 on my flickr stream!

Friday, November 07, 2008


I have self esteem issues.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone since I think every women in the history of the world has had self esteem issues. I've been feeling it a bit more lately than I usually do - maybe because I'm slowly approaching 30 (4 weeks!) or maybe because my shop hasn't been doing as well (recession!) and I've been questioning myself more. Being self aware is important, being too self aware isn't.

I try to be myself, with my lame jokes and tongue in cheek humour, my short hair and flared jeans, my bright colours and simple shapes but everywhere I look I'm being told that it's outdated, out of style, boring, old, mundane. (Of course somehow charcoal gray isn't boring these days.. go figure!) I want to be true to myself without compromising integrity, without giving in to trends or latching on to the things that, while I can appreciate as being hip, I don't identify with.

I like bold 60s patterns, gaudy 70s colours and god forbid, I like florals. I like politics and history and world culture. I like reading books and listening to music and playing video games. I cry when I watch The Biggest Loser. My favourite food is oatmeal and I live in a basement apartment with a cat and sometimes I have panic attacks at the grocery store. But that's ok. It's about time that I started to like her, maybe even get to know her better and appreciate her for who she is. Not what she wanted to present herself as or wishes she could be. It's time to let that all go. I can only understand how I see myself and the world, not how others see me.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Isobelle in Amy Butler

I've been tempted by Amy Butler fabric for years - who couldn't be, with their bold patterns and coordinating colour schemes, it's like a candy store for seamstresses. But I was steadfast, mostly because "everyone else is doing it" (not a good reason!) and because I felt a silly loyalty to Robert Kaufman, my first love. Well, I finally broke down and bought two yards from her Blue Lotus collection... it was calling me, I hearted it on Etsy and would look at it every day until I could decide which one to get.

Can I just say WOW? I didn't know what I was missing! I know I'm preaching to the choir here but the quality of this fabric is amazing, the weight is perfect, the bias are threads and absolutely perfect. It's one of those fabrics that just sews beautifully, crisp ironed edges and steady straight top stitching. I'm a convert. I get it now. (Why didn't someone tell me this sooner?)

Here is my first (and definitely not my last) Amy Butler purse done in my Isobelle pattern without the flap. I made two and might have to keep one for myself!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


14.365 Happiness
Originally uploaded by ohsoretro
Mr Boots and I stayed up late last night watching the election results. I knew I would be nervous (I was) but I didn't expect to be shocked and then so emotional. Even though he was clearly winning all evening, when they finally announced that Obama was the new president I was overwhelmed, and during his speech I wept. I only hope the change we see, the unity of gender, race, & age and the energy of the young carries over into every day life. The world deserves better and it finally feels like we're on the verge of something really good. I'm excited!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Happy Obama Day!

I can't believe November 4th is already here - it feels like Christmas! I love seeing how excited everyone is, it is really a global phenomenon. I was chatting about it with my mom last night (who doesn't really understand why we care so much about Obama) and I told her that, for me at least, it finally feels like the turning point towards goodness again. The entire world has been so weird since 9/11, full of negativity and hatred and sadness. I want to believe in the good of humanity, I want to have hope and happiness that a good life for everyone isn't just a dream but a reality.. it feels like it's possible again. It's all very exciting.

I'll be watching the returns tonight and working on my website. It hasn't been updated since I created it - oops. Embarrassing fact: I got sucked into playing an online game over the past 6 months, I'm talking major addiction here, and I kind of let my store go to the wayside. Actually I kind of let my entire life go to the wayside. I finally kicked the habit a few weeks ago and am ready to kick my butt back into business. I've got a big to-do list that I'm working on for Oh So Retro - blogging, photographing, new products, update website...

If anyone has any blogging tips for business let me know! I finally found a template I like and set it up last night. It's definitely a lot more complex than it used to be when was new but I'm sure I'll figure it out. :)

I hope everyone has a great day - make sure you vote if you can! Enjoy the moment, we're in the midst of hisotry.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Return


So by now you've noticed that I didn't make good on my previous attempt at daily blogging. I'm trying again though, and this time I think I will make it stick. Instead of deleting the past entry and starting fresh I'm going to leave it up as a reminder to myself of where I've been and how far I have come.

When I read that entry I feel sad, I just sounded so defeated. Maybe I was in shock. My dad did turn down the job offer and was "reassigned" - only it turned out to be a great change for him. He's no longer stressed out so badly and that's made everyone happier. My parents did sell their house and move into a smaller home but instead of being 1000 miles away it's only one neighbourhood over. So all is well that ends well there.

I don't consider myself housebound anymore, at least not to the extent I once was. I still have a very hard time with my agoraphobia but every day I am out there trying. I can go to the post office and eat in restaurants and visit with Randys family and our friends, all the things I couldn't do before. I can even go to the corner store by myself when I need groceries. My mood is good, my sewing and creativity are up, life is good.

It will be even better if Obama wins tomorrow.

Oh & I finally got a cat to deal with those damn mice. :) (you can see him on my flickr stream!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Push

I'm sorry that I don't write anymore unless I'm trying to sell you something or showing off my consumerism or killing mice. I wanted to start blogging daily this year, to go along with my 365 photo project, but I didn't have time and then I didn't have much to say and so I just didn't.

The truth is that my anxiety has come back pretty bad over the last year and I am housebound again. Not to the degree I was before but I can't leave the house alone anymore because I'm afraid to close to door behind me and other odd quirks that make it very difficult to live. A lot of the old mental patterns from my early 20s have crept back into my head, the fear of standing still, the fear of walking in front of someone, the need to wear certain clothing in certain colors, etc. Things that are more obsession rituals than anything else. The ironic thing is that I'm more stable and sane (ie: not manic) than I've ever been in my life yet these thoughts and fears persist.

So my daily life basically consists of nothing. I go to my parents house a couple times a week to visit my mom and do my laundry. Sometimes she takes me to the grocery store. Randy and I will go shopping together in the evening once a week or so. I can't go to the post office anymore so I am just buying stamps in bulk at the corner store and mailing things that way. That's the extent of my social life.

I very rarely see my friends, maybe once every three months, and I've lost touch with almost all of my online friends. I have over 100 friends on facebook but I would say that maybe 3 of them are actual friends. Somehow I don't think I'm the only one like this. It's lonely to sit and see so many faces but not feel connected to any of them, even in an abstract online way.

I've been coasting along, not really depressed but not really content either. I was waiting for something to happen, something to push me back into life. "I'm not really living I'm just waiting time." I feel sorry for myself but I don't know how to be myself. I don't like the person I am. I don't act the way I want to act. I question my motives, everything is to be safe. I don't want to be agoraphobic anymore, it's extremely limiting. Everything revolves around being safe. I am not safe anymore.

This morning is my breaking point. My phone rang at 8 am, on the dot. I knew it was my mother because she knows that's when my alarm goes off. I knew it was bad news but not bad enough that she wanted to wake me up early to tell me. No one was dead but something was happening.

My dad lost his job today. Not in the pink slip traditional way, but in the "if you don't take this other job we're offering you then you're going to be demoted" kind of way. You spend 30 years working your way up a corporate ladder only to be told that you're too old to be profitable. Only they don't use the word old, they say risky. It's less offensive, apparently.

This is a roundabout way of saying that my parents are moving away and I am scared and sad. I can go with them if I want or I can stay here with Randy. My parents actually said that Randy and I could come and they would buy a house big enough for all of us but Randy won't go (and I don't blame him, he has a life here, unlike myself.)

I know people leave their parents all the time. They live thousands of miles apart and they are fine. Of course I don't know how many of them are agoraphobic and bipolar but I imagine that some of them must be. I keep saying that this will be good for me, this is what I need, this will be the push I am waiting for. (My mom is just as agoraphobic and dependent on me as I am on her, so it will be good for her too.) Maybe we need to get away from each other.

I don't want to end up being one of those weird daughters who gives up her own life for her parents only to regret it when they're dead. At the same time I don't want to be one of those far away daughters who only gets to see her parents twice a year and regrets it when they're dead.

I'm only two hours into what is going to be the most difficult (and possibly rewarding) experience of my adult life, other than Babas illness and death. You know that saying "Today is the first day of the rest of your life"? Well, here it is. It's about time.