Category Archives: My Life

} The Skinny Jeans

skinnyjeans

Not just any skinny jeans. And not as in the style of the jeans. I mean THE skinny jeans: that pair of jeans almost all women decide to keep at some point, despite all logical and practical reasons not to. That pair that you loooooved. That pair that you bought when you were at you’re skinniest, whatever that size was. That pair that you haven’t been able to get into in years. But, that pair that you hope to fit into again, someday. Yes, I’m talking about THOSE skinny jeans.

Well, last night I decided to get rid of some clothing suitable for donation, those clothes you forget you actually have. And so, I was in front of a big pile of not-worn-in-a-while jeans (hello, I’m a jeans addict. And perhaps I have a hoarding gene somewhere in there too. Lol), trying them on, and putting them in either the keep pile, or the donate pile (they all ended up there, I’m happy to say).

And then, the last pair of the bunch: MY skinny jeans. This is a Mavi pair I bought in 2001 (that’s actually them in the picture), following a CEGEP (what college is called here) sports class I had to take (let’s just say I wouldn’t have willingly selected running & fitness if I had a choice in the matter) and in which I had lost some weight, because I had applied myself enough to not flunk it. One day in the summer right after, I went in a store with a friend (who was tiny in height as well as size) who wanted to do some shopping. Altho I didn’t mind accompanying her at all, this was of not much interest as a plus size clothing wearer; there’s just not much for me to do in a “normal size store” except check out a couple of jewelry pieces and scarves, as well as give my opinion on my friend’s fashion trials. But then, the saleswoman decided to pay attention to me, and mentioned that she had some size 15 jeans I could try on. With a “YEAH RIGHT LOL” attitude, along with my friend’s pushy motivation, I tried them on anyway. And they fit! I mean, it was a pretty tight fit especially sitting down, but I was still in the smallest size of pants I’d been in for a while. I bought them. Needless to say I really loved them a lot, and also needless to say that with my sports class over, I couldn’t fit in them a couple months later. And armed with that weird hope syndrome for the future that we, women, often have for clothing, I kept them. Just in case.

So, back to last night… The jeans were in front of me, displayed on the bed. I took a deep breath (after seriously considering just ripping them apart lol), pulled one leg up, than the other, took another deep zen breath, and proceeded to close the zipper and button without any difficulty at all. WHAT!? What what what?! When did this happen???, I thought. Although I did lose a little bit of weight recently, it wasn’t that much that I could have predicted this outcome.

After all the shocking I-fit-in-them commotion (haha), I looked up to the mirror. And it was NOT what I was expecting to see: this womanly body didn’t look good in these youngster jeans. Clearly, my clothing style preferences had also changed a lot too, even tho jeans are still what I wear every single day of my life. Although the number was right, the fit was allllll wrong; floppy and loose, not fitting me well at all, and certainly not flattering…

And so I took them off, folded, put them in the donate pile, and just sat there, a little confused. All this wait and hope and hanging on to the past for THAT?! It was obvious as night and day: the actual number was not really of importance to me anymore, compared to fit and how I feel in them (which is a GREAT thing, don’t you think?) What importance does a number have if I feel like a burlap sack of potatoes…? Lol!

I was stunned. And then I remembered that, altho the scale number hadn’t changed all that much, my body certainly had over the years: mushier (lol) in some places, but firmer in others. It had merged into a woman’s body, rather than a young adult’s one.

And this is were you’d usually read something going along the lines of “don’t dwell on the past” or “live in the now” or even something a little more poetic such as “the past is past, leave it be”. And altho these can certainly be wise sometimes, it doesn’t always apply to every situation, nor to everybody.

You see, I am someone (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) who needs to TRULY understand the past in order to… go past it. Even tho sometimes people telling you the answers is enough for that lightbulb moment to occur, it doesn’t ALWAYS work as simply as that. That’s how I am, and I know it, and I’m okay with that part of myself. And most of the time, my friends, those who listen to me trying to find answers, are okay with that too. Sometimes they are annoyed I’m sure, but in the end, they still listen, they still try to offer me possible directions for me to explore to find those answers, and they still love me even if I channel a broken record once in a while.

So what I’m saying is, I’m actually glad that I kept that pair of jeans all those years. Because if I hadn’t kept them and tried them on last night, I wouldn’t have the insights I had when I realized that it’s okay to change, that it’s okay to be who I am right now, that it’s okay to have hopes and struggles that are based in the past (and that they’ll eventually untangle themselves as we evolve), and mostly, that it’s okay (and awesome, even. Lol) that I like my body now more than ever before in my entire life, and that is EVEN if it hasn’t changed that much all in all. I even have proof of that for myself: after all, I *did* wear a dress 5 times this summer as of yet, which is more than the rest of all the time since I’ve been able to choose my own clothing. Progress is what I’m calling that.

And so in an attempt to keep on moving forward, I went back to that donate pile of jeans, selected two pairs, and decided to cut them to make shorts (one super short, and one mid-thigh), which is something I do not wear at all in public. And so the progress, at the very least, makes an attempt to keep on going………….

‘Til next time, beautiful you. :)

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} Instagram Photo Editing

mirror1_top

In the amateur digital photography world, there is usually three main opinion groups when the subject is photo editing:

The purist: the photo is what it is, don’t you dare manipulate it’s final result. Doing so is considered as lying visually.
The moderate: the photo ain’t bad as it is, but a few tweaks are in order, usually sticking to the cropping/color/saturation/contrast settings.
The funky creative: the more editing, the merrier! The original photograph is seen more as a starting point than a result, such as a painter would perceive a canvas.

I would say I’ve been standing pretty firmly for years in the “moderate” category, perhaps because of my graphic design background, and being used to use Photoshop. Plus, I think tweaking photos is fun, weird me. ;)

I am also a believer that for an amateur, all photography tools are acceptable, and that each option has it’s good and bad sides. So yes, I also think phone/iPod/tablets photography have their value as well, and so does Instagram and editing apps. To me, it’s all about how you use it, and if you can see it for what it is, which makes photography accessible to pretty much anyone nowadays.

I would say my own Instagram is a half of “show and tell” (in which I just want to show something and the actual picture result/quality doesn’t quite matter much to me), a quarter for work specific images, and the last quarter as a photography artistic outlet.

Last Sunday, I downloaded (for free) an app for my iPod touch (I don’t have a cell) called iColorama S (regular price of $2,99). (And NO, I was not asked, nor am I paid to give a review of it, lol!) I mostly use “App Of The Day” to snatch up some paying photography apps for free, so it was a lucky day! haha!

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Anyway, I had taken a picture the night before that needed editing before adding it to my IG (Instagram).You can see above the original un-modified iPod Touch shot. Kinda boring a bit, no?

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And so yesterday I played around with the new app, starting with regular classic adjusting tools such as cropping and color, as you can see above. Already a little more graphic and dramatic! This was going to be my basis for the other tweaking testings…

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I then went to explore more functions, starting with some bolder, but still sort of “classic” settings, as seen above. I have to say that what I liked most is that almost each option has precise settings that you can adjust even more, giving you quite a lot of control over the end result. You can also decide to save or not your modifications in one option before going to another, practical!

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After that, I fell on the mirror function, and I was thinking this option would be like in most apps, meaning that either top or bottom half, or, left or right side would be mirrored and that would be pretty much it as far as possibilities goes. But oh, turns out the X and Y mirrors can be a lot more manipulated than that! AND both at the same time too. FINALLY!! I had LOTS of fun with it creating patterns and shapes that were not really even there to start with, as you can see! lol

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Then I decided to go see the world as a “funky creative”, even tho these kinds of filters and options are not usually my cup of tea… Turns out, I kinda liked some of them. Mostly the “drawing” one (because I can’t really draw and gives me an idea of how it *could* look if I did, or something like that. lol), and the “pixel” ones that I thought could look interesting in a precise project or idea, or for global inspiration. Some were “cartoon looking”, others a bit much for me (such as the Escher twirl one, which I know, yes, that HE is an awesome artist, but I can’t see much how to use this filter myself).

All in all, what I’m trying to say, is that, without anyone proclaiming themselves an actual pro photographer, anyone can have fun with photography and editing, even on just a phone, and even if just for the sake of personal visual contributions to one’s life.

And yes, Instagram is totally okay if that’s all you have and/or want to actually use. As proof, go check out one of my friends’ account that I think takes full advantage of IG and photo editing via apps: aelxndr. What you think? :)

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} On Working For Free

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I have taken this subject seriously for over a decade. (Ok, I sound old! haha) Perhaps because I’ve been working for myself for 11 years now, always in artistic fields. I’m talking about the idea of “giving free work”.

I mentioned earlier the creative aspect, because this issue seems dominant (and frequent) in professions such as graphic design, photography, illustration, writing, handmade, music… Altho after asking around, it is obviously not reserved to more creative work; fields like computer programming, teaching, and in a way, professional sports, are also often asked to work for free.

Now, let me get something straight first. I am not talking here about investing skills in a non-profit that you care about (read on that (and this whole subject really) on my friend Pierre’s blog!). Nor lending physical goods, for a small amount of time, for a photoshoot, which will be returned intact and without fees to you. Nor helping your mother out with her lost kitty flyer. Nor giving simple opinions at a hangout with friends about their text on their website.

exposure_quote

I mean more like magazines and journals asking photographers to give a free picture(s), but “we’ll give you credit, of course”. Or a start-up company asking for free copy writing for their first website, but “we’ll pay you on future projects”. Or big music festivals asking small bands to play for free, because “it’s great exposure and visibility!”. Or a publishing company asking an illustrator to create them a book cover, because “it’ll be a great portfolio piece”.

Or, in handmade goods’ case, which is the category I’ve experienced personally for the past almost 8 years, a blog asking to send free samples, and then “I’ll blog about it”. Which is exactly what happened (for the I-can’t-even-count-how-many-times) to me a couple of weeks ago that got me feeling this urge to talk about it now (along with this NYtimes article from a couple of months back). For some reason, this time in particular urked me even more than usual (lol), because the email was filled with “I LOVEEE your work!!!!”, a “You inspire me!”, and a couple of “Handmade is my life’s passion!!!”. Which is very contradictory, because when you ask me for free items, you are saying that my work is not worth a penny to you. You are also acting like you don’t respect my time, all my efforts towards my career, nor my products. So NO, I don’t inspire you. And by not even offering to pay shipping costs, you’re adding salt on my wound (or, insult to injury, if you prefer). Even more, the blog in question (nope, won’t drop a name, ain’t giving it free publicity HA!) was in Italy (where I’ve sold only like twice ever), written in Italian (I can’t read it, hence I couldn’t even know if she wrote well or not), with really bad pictures (as in large-view-on-plaid-tablecloth-with-a-lot-of-flash bad), and it looked ugly as fuck as a whole (sorry, but it truly was a pain for my retina).

Let me just say this:
• Credits, future potential projects (also called “opportunities”), and exposure don’t pay current bills. Ask anyone, in reality, these very rarely bring some concrete paid work. The chances of a company seeing one of your photos in the local paper and then actually researching you, contact you and offer you a paid contract are slim to none. Sure, it *could* happen. But I’m also sure your phone company *will* shut down your service if you don’t pay your bill… There is an epic rant by Harlan Ellison (pretty funny too!) on the subject over here, and you can also read a good article called “Opportunities Are Bullshit“.
• Your portfolio already exists, and that’s why they’re contacting you in the first place. Because they saw it, and liked it. That means your portfolio *already* works great. YAY!
• As far as blog posts go (which is also in the “exposure” realm), I think they ask for this to justify their own time spent on blogging. So basically, you’re asking me to sacrifice my finished product, and time, and materials, and even take extra money out of my pocket (shipping fees), in order of helping you feel like you’re not wasting your own time and energy? Puh-lease. Don’t forget that pretty much none of the great, interesting, inspiring and most read blogs ask people to give their work away: they either just blog about it because they want to, or actually buy an item for themselves first.

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I remember that in the early years of Etsy, there was chat rooms, and also live critique workshops, where one could voluntarily put their shop up for constructive comments from other sellers. I really loved participating in this, I felt like I could help others with the knowledge I had acquired over the previous months/years. They still had to do the work themselves, but having suggestions and opinions from people not as emotionally involved in the project is never a bad thing. However, one thing I always voiced my opinion against was “adding a free item” or “giving coupon codes for a next purchase” once you actually made a sale. I am against it yes, but my opinion is much less radical on this subject, simply because this is something one would decide of their own free will and initiative, not pressured into by someone else (altho at some point the practice was used SO much by so many sellers, that I did receive 2-3 “there was no free stuff with my order, this sucks” messages, which obviously I thought was annoying, and rude. lol).

I also remember that as a young graphic designer, right out of school in the early 2000’s, without any actual contracts in my portfolio, that suggestions of working for free in exchange for “exposure” and “portfolio pieces” was very enticing. I am guilty of doing a couple of free business cards back then, as well as doing a couple of projects for a very low pay (between 25 and 50% of actual worth). I also realized quickly that I lost much drive for the project once I got half way thru, and my self-confidence got screwed up fairly quickly in the process. But believe me, I totally understand that urge to actually create, as well as that desire to show what you’re capable of, to prove yourself to the world, at any cost. The problem with that is (this also applies even if you’re a veteran) that by giving of yourself for nothing (or undervaluing), you’re denying that vision of the person you want to be: a creative paid right. You’re shooting yourself in the foot, basically. It’s also cutting the grass under the feet of others in your field (they are your competition, yes, but they are also a lot of things that you want to be, such as actually paid), and hurting your profession as a whole (if everyone starts to sell themselves short, at some point no one will ever want to pay (or pay what it’s worth) for the service/object, EVER).

undervaluing_quote

As far as trades with strangers go, well… I do them myself once in a while, but only if I actually really WANT or NEED the product or service, and if they are of close value. The problem only arises if it’s something you don’t really desire, or if it’s not even close to being equal.

And for friends, I suggest going with your instinct perhaps? If it’s a case of the “can you program my whole CSS 5page bilingual website in exchange for a coffee and a hug?”, then you might have to either just say that you don’t feel like it/don’t have time, or think of a counter proposition that makes sense and suggest it. For example, a couple of rooms in your new apartment might need to be painted and it seems like about the same number of hours than the task they asked you for. They’ll either decline altogether because that made them realize what they were actually asking for (and hopefully, they are a true friend and will keep being your friend as usual), or think it’s totally worth it and you’ll both be happy! But if it’s something along the lines of “can you show me how to put this text in bold in my free WordPress blog post?”, then don’t be an asshole, don’t charge for that! lol

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Free work is never really free. Each time you do it, you hurt your value and loose some self-confidence, because it’s like accepting and agreeing that your skill is worth nothing. Personally, I prefer eating peanut butter toasts for a long while before I agree to that again. ;)

Ok, I think that I’ve gotten pretty much everything off my chest now. lol! Obviously, not everyone has such a radical opinion on the subject… Including Seth Godin (which surprised me actually) in his blog post “Should You Work For Free?“.

I accept other points of views, or a more nuanced opinion, so feel free to share them in comments, even if it’s to tell me that I’m totally wrong. lol! ;)

To finish on a less gloomy note, I suggest taking a look at this “Should I work For Free” visual chart for a humorous spin on a serious subject! ;)

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} Carrot Top Pesto

Carrot_top_pesto

Recently, I learned that carrot tops (or leaves, rather) are edible. Who knew! Well, obviously, I was left out in the dark on that one. lol!

And so I discovered that yummy fact on Cuisinette‘s blog, when she decided to do a pesto with it. OH MY! Had to try this asap! So a week later, I went to do the groceries, and to my surprise, there were carrots sold with the leaves as well (kind of a somewhat rare thing to see in regular grocery stores…), so I jumped on the occasion.

Carrot_Top_pesto

Once home, I washed them all up, cut the unleafy parts of the stems, and mixed that all up in the food processor with regular pesto ingredients: parmesan cheese, garlic, nuts (all I had were soya seeds, worked perfect!), lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Ah, and I also put in half of what was left of my parsley on the balcony. Autumn is just around the corner, after all, don’t wanna waste it! :)

Conclusion: it is DELICIOUS.

Plus, the green color won’t oxidize like the basil version, so if you like to take some pictures of your food like I do, it’s a winner!

Now, go try it. :P

carrot_top_leaves_2

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Filed under Food, My Life

} On Blogging

What the hell is my problem!?!

(Great first sentence, don’t you think? lol)

I have been blogging for 7.5 years now, which included 2 hiatuses. I’m in the 3rd one now, as you can see. Or not see, rather. I am questioning myself a lot these days on the “why that is”.

I could say that I found nothing interesting, during these pauses, that I wanted to blog about. But that would be false. If you could see my Etsy favorites (which are private, because I don’t want to put my supplies shopping public and there’s no way yet to separate those in the site’s features)… So, if you could see my favorites, you would understand why this would be a complete lie. lol! There are over 4000 items (I’m estimating that 3000 are not supplies) I thought were heart worthy. So what the hell is my problem!?!

I could say that I got super duper busy and didn’t have time to do it. Which would be true for the Holiday season (Nov-Dec), and also some weeks throughout the rest of the year, but those are scattered here and there, not in chunks. But my blogging reflects chunks. So what the hell is my problem!?!

I could say that I dislike blogging now. But that wouldn’t be accurate. I used to HAVE TO BLOG ABOUT THIS AND THAT RIGHT THEN AND THERE after I found something note worthy, and that is not exactly the case right now, so that part is true. But I STILL do love the sharing aspect of blogging, of putting other people’s talent out there in case someone else falls in love with something, making a reader giddy and excited, and helping a fellow artisan make a sale. That is beautiful thing that I will always just love helping on. So what the hell is my problem!?!

So… What’s left? Views and interaction, that’s what’s left.

Once upon a time, a couple of years ago, when this blog was on a free wordpress.com platform and was called Creativadoration, I had around 500 views per day on average. WOOT! It felt good, and I felt heard, or rather, read. Comments were coming in left and right, and I’d reply to each one with pleasure. Since a lot of people were coming over to check it all out, it was very interactive. It felt like a pool of real, in this virtual world desert we are in. I knew there was hundreds (!) of people interested in what I had to share, waiting for the next daily post, that were ready and open to interact on it all. All the posts from then were transferred here, so the content has evolved of course, but the foundation of it is accessible.

I know that this is something that most bloggers deal with on a monthly (or weekly, or daily) basis. I know that I am not the only one checking stats religiously, or avoiding them when they are in a low streak. I know that they are just numbers, and not always accurate anyway because of bots. I know that I lack some serious SEO knowledge, and I could learn a whole lot on the subject if I just put my mind to it. I know that quality is better than quantity. I know that the few who still follow my blog really do love it. I know that it is better to help spark excitement in one person rather than none. I know, I know, I know. But the fact of the matter is, sometimes you feel like you’re just speaking (writing) to yourself.

I’ve been blogging the same kind of way all this time: it being more about pictures than text (which makes sense, since I’m all about the visual), and it being more about other people’s work than mine (altho I’ve been trying to write more personal posts just like this one (the “My Life” category), it’s not going that smoothly (I have 3 almost done in the draft folder, but I seem unable to press the “publish” button)). I am like a lost blogger: sorta safe in what I know, sorta realizing that that’s not working as desired anymore, sorta not knowing where to go next, sorta not knowing what else there is. But not sorta confused;  absolutely confused.

There are a couple of online classes on this (rediscovering your blogging style and passion and all), and since blogging is part of my marketing strategy (and I truly miss having a real passion for it too), it might be worth the investment too. Or maybe not. Or possibly. Or who knows… Or…

AHHHHH! What the hell is my problem!?!

* Keep Calm and Blog On print by LivyLoveDesigns.

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} New Nea Stuff!




I went to NYC last month, with my best friend Sandra who was back home a little via Australia. I had never gone to NYC before, and obviously, you can’t see/do EVERYTHING in 4 days (especially in winter (we got 2 gorgeous days and 2 freezing/super windy days, not so bad!)), but a couple of things were non-negociables, including a little bit of supplies shopping. You get to bring back a whopping $800 of stuff without taxes if you cross the border for more than 2 days, it was to take advantage of, without going crazy of course! ;)

And so on the last day, before taking my bus that same night, I sent my lovely friend away to walk around and shop the fashion district, while I took some Nea time: a 2 hour shopping frenzy in a secret-heaven-on-earth place, digging thru PILES AND PILES of boxes of vintage stock…

I ended up coming out of there with 20 pounds (the stuff was sold per pound, I’m not exaggerating here!) of metal pieces. Imagine me at US/Canada customs, half asleep at 3:30am, getting out of the bus and dragging my heavy supplies groceries bag (plus my handbag, plus my other gym bag luggage), one non-steady step at the time… It was totally ridiculous looking, but oh well. lol! (Yes, I need to buy a rolling luggage, I know.)

I since started using those, as you can see from some of these 5 new items I added to my Etsy shop recently.

And, so much more is to be used soon, they all get my blood up and pumping with inspiration, so stay tuned! :D

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Filed under Fashion - Accessories, Handmade, My Life, Nea Jewelry & Wall Wear

} A Friendly Valentines

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Well, I’m single. It’s Valentines day.

And even tho my dream relationship wouldn’t actually have to celebrate it (yeah.), and since this “holiday” is all in our faces today, I thought I’d notice it positively with some friendship love!

Friendship (all kinds, from close to afar, from everyday to sporadic) is totally the most important thing is my life. :)

So! Here is what (some of – can’t put everyyyyoneeee! lol) my great creative friends are up to these days!

TheLadies

Noémie, aka Noemiah, never ceases to amaze me in general, but especially these past few months with her recent new creations featuring wonderful texture mixes, from feather as well as with brass and cord. <3

Paule has been blogging her heart out recently! As loving and giving as she is, it’s not surprising that she is offering free desktop calendars over there! Go back every month and beautify your ‘puter! <3

Guylaine, aka Tomate d’épingles, is always finding new creative ways of recycling everyone’s trash, like these commercial printer materials turned into fashionably cool earrings! <3

Tamara, aka ThisIlk, is the lace queen! She’s recently been intertwining her favorite material with tons of metals, making it an even more super edgy combo! <3

Mélanie, the sterling silver expert, has been exploring a lot with brass lately! I’m totally a brass fan, hence, I going totally crazy each time I see her sporting a new brass piece. Truly. <3

TheDudes

mastereiz

Martin, aka Mastereiz, officially launched his first CD! For any trip hop, electronic or ambiant music fans, it’s worth look and a buy on Bandcamp! <3

Alex, aka at.images, has been working hard on growing his photography business and finding his niche. He truly excels in portraits and lighting, and you should totally treat yourself to a session! <3

Pierre is a music fanatic, and can be seen front row shooting dozens of shows every year. I’m a total fan of his urban-Montreal-scene pictures, gotta say. He recently redesigned his whole website, also adding a blog, and I’m totally impressed by it. (Also, he’s offering 20% off prints, and 30% off any portrait/headshot session, both until the end of February!) <3

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Filed under Handmade, My Life, Québécois