the things that life brings: my creative partner in crime

If I have learned anything in my 29 years on this planet, it's that life is a crap shoot. Sometimes you plot and plan and hum and haw forever about a decision that ends up making no difference in the long run. Other times you do something you think nothing of at the time, and it ends up pretty much changing your life. I'm sure she'll accuse me of exaggerating, but that's what happened when I met Dallas Curow.

Some of Dallas' beautiful work

Last June, I emailed Dal to see if she would be up for grabbing lunch and giving me a few photography pointers. I knew of her through work (our day jobs are at the same University), and when I saw some of her photography on our website I immediately online-stalked her to see what the rest of her work was like. I'd just bitten the bullet (finally) and purchased an SLR camera to get better pics of my projects. I'd taken a photography class to get started, but I still wasn't getting it, and I hoped she could help.

While I did end up leaving our lunch with pointers - some of the most useful stuff I'd learned thus far actually - the best thing I left with was the feeling that I'd just met a kindred spirit. Someone who was passionate about her work and about being creative. Someone who could get overwhelmed and teary eyed at the sight of something beautiful. Someone who didn't think the pursuit of the aesthetic was frivolous. Someone like me.

A portrait and makeup tutorial (yes, she does that too)

Why is any of this important? Well, for two reasons - one of them personal, and the other design related.

First, because I had recently gone through what for all intents and purposes was a divorce. I'd ended a very long-term relationship, cut my losses in terms of all of our joint friends and moved to a city where I knew virtually no one. I was starting from scratch. Meeting Dallas, and subsequently all of her amazing friends, was like a breath of fresh air after a long winter. Dal has surrounded herself with lovely like-minded people, and with these people - with this group - I felt at home for the first time in a long while.

By making that lunch date I had inadvertently put myself on the path back to calm. Back to me. I had missed it.

Secondly, and likely more significantly for anyone reading this blog, it's important because it turns out that when you get Dal and I together (and now our super talented friend Jenn as well), some pretty awesome things happen. A little while after we met I was looking at a styled wedding shoot on a blog I follow, and I shot Dal an email asking if she'd ever thought of photographing one. Turns out the answer was a huge yes, and my offer to help was happily accepted.

The portrait session we did for my "about" section. She made this shy girl feel so good I practically skipped home. 

Neither of us knew what we were doing at first, but for me (and I'm pretty sure for her too) that was half the fun. And I do mean fun. This is the type of stuff I do for shits and giggles. I'm not established enough yet for it to be for publicity, or anything else like that. It's for the sheer joy of it. I could die happy dreaming of colour combinations and fabric textures and wallpaper patterns. I'm guessing Dal could die happy dreaming of patches of perfect light and natural, romantic poses. It's why we work so well together. We just. plain. love it.

We've since done two styled shoots and are planning our third (this one's going to be a doozy). I was going to do a post about the first one combined with this introduction, but realized pretty fast that I had too much to say about all of it for that to work, so I'll put up a post about the Fall Shoot tomorrow. I've loved every minute of creating these, and can't wait to share them with you.

Sneak peak from the Fall Shoot

Dal, I will forever be grateful to have met you, and that you chose to bring me into the fold of the Montreal gang. For any of you who would like to check out more of Dallas' incredible work, please visit her blog. You'll be happy you did :)

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mercury glass pendant light for the win!

After the last styled photo shoot I did I was left with a mountain of decorative knick-knacks that I'd used to pull it off. My apartment is perfectly sized for my Boston Terrier and I, which means it's pretty darn small, and space, especially storage space, is in very, very short supply.

So what to do with all these things that were too lovely to throw away but too big to have just laying around? D.I.Y it into something just as lovely but much more useful, of course!

The larger items I was left with included a HUGE mercury glass vase I'd picked up for a song after Christmas. I think it was 17$, if that.

I got it at Indigo, but have since seen quite a few that were just as nice at Home Sense, which is the Canadian equivalent of Home Goods, so if you're looking I'd check there.

My "dressing room" (which is really just the other half of my bedroom divided by an archway) has been in desperate need of a new light for a while. The one the previous tenants had installed was ugly to say the least.

So after finding a great tutorial on Pinterest, I decided to turn my vase into a pendant light!

The tools you need for this project are super simple. A power drill, protective eye gear (of course I wore these...cough cough), a spray gun filled with water, and a diamond drill bit that's big enough to put an electrical cord through. Mine was 3/8 of an inch, but you probably don't need more than 1/4.

The key here is the diamond bit. DO NOT do as I did and buy a carbide bit because the package says that it can be used on glass. That package is a liar. I spent two hours with it before I gave up in a screaming fit of rage. Once I finally accepted that I had wasted money on the first bit and shelled out the cash for the right one it took me all of 20 minutes to go through the same amount of glass. So yeah. Kind of key.

Also key? Either filling the spot you'll be drilling with a pool of water or, if your vase doesn't have a convenient dip like mine, constantly spraying it while you drill. If you don't do this then the bit won't stay lubricated (ahem) and the glass will likely break.

Once you have your hole, attach it to a light conversion kit like this one, and switch out the old light for the new. Obviously this step is a lot more complicated than that one sentence, but there are so many tutorials on how to do it online that there's no point in me replicating.

Actually, the original tutorial (where you can also find a much more in-depth, step-by-step guide to drilling the hole) breaks down the wiring process pretty well. Ignore the ceiling medallion part though, you only need that if the hole in your ceiling is bigger than the top of the conversion kit, which is rarely the case.

Wanna see what the light looks like now?

I probably shouldn't have taken the after shots on a rainy day with no natural light, but what can you do. There's only so much time in the day/week/year/life.

Not bad huh? Especially for only about 40$ including the diamond bit, which I will clearly now be using to make lights out of everything. Seriously, I am concerned for the well-being of all inanimate objects in my home. Beware pretty things, mama's coming to get you.

In particular, I think this would look great if you did it with a deep bowl (think punch bowl), especially a cut crystal one or something with a really interesting shape. Here's one I found on apartment therapy made out of a vintage globe!

So what do you think? Is this something you would tackle? It's actually pretty crazy how simple it was, and I really think that the BEST way to make a rental feel like home (other than painting) is to switch out the light fixtures. And unlike painting you can take it with you when you move your restless butt outta there.

Hope you'll give it a shot and send me some after pics. And if you're visiting my brand new blog for the first time, be sure to follow me for more great diy's and general chit chat (and to make my day)!

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and the prize for ugliest sofa ever goes to . . .

Came across this on the walk home from the vet:

Someone, somewhere, thought this was a good idea. 

How is that even possible??!
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project organize: adventures in dollarama-land

Dollarama is usually a place I avoid. Not because of the stuff (lord knows I like a bargain) but because sometimes the people in there can be seriously sketch. Ok, all the time. The last time I went in a woman told me that "there's such a thing as saying excuse me you know". I walked by her in an aisle. Literally didn't even brush against her. It was so weird . . . I think her I-hate-my-life glare burned a hole in my soul . . .

Anyway, project organize has me braving the weirdos and hitting up Dollarama like it's my job. For a while I was researching fancy pants plastic catch-all's for my bathroom cabinet like this one from Amazon:
But then I thought "what if all the shit I own doesn't magically sort into those compartment sizes"? I mean, they're pretty specific. I could go about filling them all and end up with a whole lot of leftover stuff, like my hairspray, with nowhere to live. That's not cool. No man left behind. 

Also, those things are expensive . . .

So back to Dollarama I went, and for a grand total of 10$ (instead of about 60$) I got the same kind of plastic containers I used to organize my clutter drawer in the kitchen. And those puppies worked like a charm! The bottom shelf now holds everything that used to live there plus almost everything that the large wicker basket used to hold as well. Which means the wicker basket is all proper-like too! It even learned how to curtsy and keep its elbows off the table!

Here's the before again:

And now here's the after:

I know it may not look like a big change, but it so is! Every compartment thingy is organized by type of item (like vitamins, or nail care), except for the one in the front, which is all the things I use every day. It's so perfect, I just slide that one from side to side or out to get what I want in the back. And the ones in the back each slide out without moving anything else. Yay!! I'm thinking about labeling them, but have considered the fact that that might, in turn, label me. As a crazy person. 

I also put a simple white stick-on hook on the door for the cloth I dry my face with. I HATE having that cloth out in the open because it gets covered in eyeliner, so hiding it in the cupboard but having it easy to reach for when my face is wet is a must. 

Closeups on the containers: 

While it occurs to me that this may be incredibly boring for others, I think it shows how insanely simple and cheap it can be to get organized if you set your mind to it, and maybe it will inspire you to do the same! 

I said can be simple, not always is. Please don't look in my closets...

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diy rut

I honestly don't know what's going on with me lately, but my craftiness is completely failing me. No matter what project I take on, I seem to eff it up in some way. 

Ingenious pendant light project = not so much. While I am still determined to save it, I clearly bought the wrong drill bit and am not close enough to a large hardware store to get the right one. 

Covering my lampshades in silk I brought back from Thailand? Complete fail. Jagged edges, sloppy seams . . . I just couldn't get it to go on straight. It looks so amateur. 

Making a pin board out of the same in-very-short-supply silk? Sprayed too much adhesive and stained it (and not in a discreet spot either) and too little in other places so it's un-sticking randomly. Neither of these projects can be done over again because I don't have any more of the PERFECT SHADE fabric. I am so pissed at myself . . .

Finally, lining those lamp shades in gold contact paper was a TOTAL. DISASTER.

It was supposed to look like this:

And was inspired by Jenny's GORGEOUS and apparently super easy to do version:

But mine is a crooked bubbly mess. In part because it couldn't stick to the crooked mess of fabric I'd tried to cover the shade with. Aaaargh! Worst part? I can't get it off now. It's contact paper. It's adhesive. I'm screwed.

This, my friends, is what I like to call the trifecta of shit. When a diy project equals wasted time, wasted money and reduced pretty. This is the recipe for a very sad Elyse.

Le sigh. I will try again tomorrow. Because less time and money I can handle, but not less pretty.

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rainbow on my floor

So I promised I would get up pictures of my new rug, and managed to find a bit of time on this insanely beautiful day to take a few!

The light wasn't ideal, but this is the closest depiction of the colour I could get. The pendant light above the table is going to be getting a wash of raspberry fabric dye in the near future to (hopefully) resemble the darkest pink in the rug. I think the room needs that extra pop.

It's just so me. My love of anything with history grows every. single. day. It's definitely one of the best purchases I've made in a while, and I would absolutely recommend the eBay seller I got it from. Great prices, consistently some of the nicest well-priced Kilims on eBay, and fast shipping direct from Turkey. I'm itching to buy another one . . .

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kilim in the kitchen!

My Kilim rug arrived from Turkey yesterday and I couldn't be more enamoured with it! Well, I admit I do wish it was just a little bit longer, but all in all it is just so beautiful and makes my kitchen (its new home) finally feel like an actual ROOM. Gah! So pleased!

I can see how to "complete" the room now, whereas before it arrived I was having a really hard time picturing how I could save it from boring-town. My Kilim has officially ridden in on a white horse. It's dashing as shit.

For those of you who don't know, Kilims are defined on Wiki as "flat tapestry-woven carpets or rugs produced from the Balkans to Pakistan". I just define them as gorgeous, especially when they're used as a pop of unexpected colour in the kitchen.

I'll take a photo as soon as I get a moment in my apartment in natural light, but for now, here's a little Kilim inspiration!

I honestly think I might be drooling. This is embarrassing.

Sources: 1234