Tuesday, 30 October 2012

presents, parcels, and pumpkin piggies!

This week has been full of RANDOM SURPRISES (the best kind). I don't usually get so many presents all at once but this week came with THREE random surprises! When my cousin came over for dinner, he handed me two awkward-looking bundles wrapped in newspaper - souvenirs from Singapore! One of them contained an object that looked like some kind of mushroom or fungus (not illegal, rest assured). The other bundle contained two hand-carved birds so when put together with the mushroom stand, the whole thing made a bit more sense. I love birds and  little wooden knick-knacks so this makes a perfect desk decoration!

The next little surprise came when Mr. Potatohead presented me with a PUMPKIN PIG. That is literally what it is - a pumpkin painted pink with the stem as its tiny tail. I'm very sad that it will rot in a few days, but for now he sits proudly on my windowsill, greedily eyeing all my hamburger collectibles. Isn't he cute?

The last surprise came today when my dad woke me up by throwing this parcel on my bed. He immediately said, "It's from Amanda. It's a bag", thus ruining the element of surprise. HAHA. Apparently he was just quoting what the delivery guy said at the door. I could hear my mom saying from downstairs, "'Is Laura online shopping again?!??" But no, it was a belated birthday present all the way from New York! =) A true friend knows that there is no such thing as too many camel-coloured cross-shoulder bags. And thus, my collection grows. 

I'm not gonna lie - I love receiving unexpected presents! Doesn't everyone? Okay. Enough blogging for today. I'm off to make a costume for tomorrow (last-minute, I know). But I've been busy working on a mural for my church's Fall Festival event which is tomorrow as well. I'll post pictures when the mural is done! For now, here's a snapshot of my costume that I have yet to make/paint.

 Any idea what it is? Leave me your BEST GUESS!!!!!!! =D

Whoever figures out the correct answer gets... my admiration and respect. Bahahaha.

I'm thankful for... songs on my travelling guitar

When I made the biggest decision of my life last summer to live by myself and work in Hong Kong for one year, the first thing I did after getting settled in was BUY A GUITAR. I had been looking for something portable and I had been eyeing all the mini-guitars in the store windows. But when I tried playing on the cheap ones, they would go out of tune after a few strums. So I made a slightly more expensive purchase, bought a Baby Taylor (which played MUCH better), and named it POTATO. I had Potato with me the whole year and he kept me company through the good and bad. (Did you notice I started referring to the guitar as "he"? Creepy...) haha! Potato accompanied me on many random adventures - on the bus, in cafes, in grassy fields - he even had a little cameo appearance in my friends' engagement shoot. Some of the greatest memories were made when my cousin and I would go out to the Tsim Sha Tsui area to look at the gorgeous harbour view at night and play on the guitar for hours. When I was with Potato, I pretty much looked like one of those travelling musicians lurking around public places without a busking license. While looking at my Hong Kong pictures, it turns out my cousin did document some of these little adventures...

*side note: Seeing these pictures of Hong Kong makes me miss the place so much. Isn't Hong Kong just gorgeous in the daytime and at night as well? 

 Then... one day... something happened to Potato!! =O

When I left Hong Kong, I didn't have enough carry-on space to bring back Potato so I asked my cousin to help me bring the guitar with him when he came back this October. But when my cousin got to the airport, he was told that he couldn't bring the guitar on the plane as a carry-on and that it would have to go into the cargo hold (even though my cousin didn't feel comfortable with that). The airline assured him that the guitar would be "safe" and put a fragile sticker on the guitar case. Well unfortunately, Potato did not survive the plane ride because obviously, the fragile sticker meant nothing and he arrived at Vancouver International Airport all cracked and bruised.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. Even though Potato was damaged, he still works! The day that I got my guitar back, I went to my friend's house later that evening and we were able to sing together and still have an awesome time. I figured I could probably duct-tape Potato but I decided not to, since I was thinking it would turn into that Mr. Bean episode where he ruins a painting and tries to fix it, but makes it worse (any Mr. Bean fans??? He's my hero).The best part is, my cousin happened to report the broken guitar to a SUPER NICE airport employee who did an awesome job following up on the case. Even though some of his other coworkers told us that "it was our fault" and were adamant that we couldn't get any compensation for the accident, this one employee made the decision to give us back the full amount that I paid for the guitar! So now, I could technically go out and buy a brand new Baby Taylor... but that would be cheating on my old one. Besides, Potato's a tough one and this little scar is just a battle wound. So I think I'm going to look up a luthier and see how much it costs to fix him up, and after that, hopefully there's a bit of leftover money to buy some ICE-CREAM or something. =) Thank God for understanding airline workers!! Now I can have many more adventures with Potato in the years to come. And now I will stop weirding you all out with my constant references to my guitar as "Potato".

The End.

Friday, 26 October 2012

thriftstore thursday: my new toyota beluga

Okay so today I bought something HUGE... it's not exactly a thrift-store purchase but it IS second-hand, and it's probably the biggest purchase I've ever shelled out cash for. After almost a month of searching, I finally bought a used car!!! It's actually the first car I've ever owned since I've somehow survived all these years off public transit and the pity of friends. haha. But finally, I'm able to drive myself around and it's about time since for the past few years, our family has shared fought over one car between five drivers. After perusing Craigslist, meeting up with several sellers, seeing some sketchy-looking cars with inexplicable stains or leaks, and having an awful shady experience at a particular used car dealership, Mr. Potatohead finally found this one listing for a used Toyota. So on a blustery rain-soaked evening, we drove out to see the car and meet the seller who turned out to be the nicest elderly man. It was funny because he called it an "old man car" but I could really care less what the car looked like anyway, as long as it was safe and reliable. Then TODAY after a mechanic check, I officially shook hands, sealed the deal, and drove off with my "new old car". Oh and random... I also found out today while getting car insurance that I'm actually a TEN-YEAR DRIVER. My goodness!!!!! I found that absolutely mind-blowing and went through a mental quarter-life crisis for the next half-hour. 

Oh and since I like to personalize inanimate objects, I've already named my car. It's a really unique colour because it's like a pearlized white; not full-on white but not quite metallic silver either. It's also quite a big car with a bulgy front "forehead", so I named it BELUGA. It's perfect because Mr. Potatohead's charcoal-coloured SUV is called BEAST, so Beluga & the Beast can be friends now. I suppose I could call it "Beauty" too, but I like Beluga better. =) 

Anyway, I didn't take any pictures of Beluga, so you'll have to settle with a pic of my new car keys and a sad little scrap-paper doodle. =) 

Have you ever bought a used car?

If so, was it an EASY-BREEZY or SUPER-SHADY experience?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

oh deer me

Finally used my new PENCIL CRAYONS today. I've been surrounded by art all weekend at work - getting my face and clothes splattered with paint, and helping other people with their paintings - but today I finally had some time to do some of my own art. I've been thinking of drawing something with flowers, deer antlers, and antique keys for a long time, so I finally combined all these elements into an artpiece (although I apologize profusely for the sad, punny title). Anyway, before this I hadn't used pencil crayons in YEARS, so it was amazing fun just sketching away like a kid with my fresh pack of coloured Crayolas.

What do you think? Do you like the semi-creepy black and white version, or the coloured finished product?
In other random news, I just hit 100 followers! Yay!


Monday, 22 October 2012

I'm thankful for... scenic drives on the highway

I started my first day of work on Friday, and even though the following judgement may be a little premature, I have to say that so far, I love my job. It's really a blessing and I'm so grateful to be doing something I love. Now this may sound silly but I also look forward to the half-hour drive to and from work every day. I like driving (even though I've never owned my own car) and I especially love cruising along highways with scenery on both sides. My drive to work consists of mostly highway and on either side are wheat fields and meadows that stretch out for miles while the faint indigo outlines of mountains peek out from a distance. There's also the occasional cherry-red barn or grazing cow that makes me feel like I'm in a whole different era altogether. Since there's no city skyline, I love how I can see a huge expanse of sky; sometimes it's a rich aqua blue filled with fluffy sheep and other times it's a muggy grey laced with rain. On the days where it's ridiculously bright and sunny, I always feel like I'm in the Shire (yes, sorry, I'm obsessed with Lord of the Rings and have an undying tendency to reference it at all possible times) and then I imagine myself as a HOBBIT running freely in the fields.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of this view since I drive alone and documenting this amazing scenery would mean I would have to commit some sort of heinous speeding/picture taking crime which I'd rather not attempt. So you'll just have to go by my wordy description and just imagine how glorious it is. I'm also really liking the area surrounding my workplace, since there are SEVERAL antique/collectible and thrift stores within walking distance and a whole selection of different pizzieras. Excellent... excellent...

And finally... just because I feel like a post isn't complete without some kind of visual, here is a picture I took while taking a nice nature walk in Langley. I love finding heart-shaped leaves!!!

Hope you all had a great weekend! If you have time, leave me a comment and let me know what YOU'VE been thankful for lately... =)


Thursday, 18 October 2012

thriftstore thursday: gold bow brooch

Thrift stores are the best place to find some unique accessories or antique jewelry for super cheap. This gold bow brooch cost 50 cents and adds a little bit of vintage flair to any outfit. It's pretty versatile since I've worn it clipped onto my jacket, pinned to shirt pockets, fastened to my brown leather bag, and as a hair decoration. I was thinking I could also take off the backing and glue it onto a belt buckle, or hang it from a chain and make it into a necklace. I'm all about re-using and rewearing the same items in different ways.

Oh and the white blouse and my brown "creepy face bag" (see the face?) were also thrifted from long ago. Do you have a bow accessory, and if so, what's your favourite way to wear it? Here's some gold bow inspiration below! I especially love the black bowtie embellished with gold safety pins. That's an easy DIY - now all I need to do is find one of my DAD's old bowties... ;) hahaha.

Happy Thursday! =)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

DIY: Mustache Memorabilia

I'm not quite sure how the whole mustache thing started, but it did, and somehow morphed into a massive T-shirt DIY project. My awesome coworkers and I all proudly wore these t-shirts on the last day of school in July (to the confusion of many of our students and other staff members). In reality, we were equally confused since we didn't even know why we were wearing mustache t-shirts to begin with, but then again, why does there always have to be a logical reason for everything? In this case, there was none. 

For this project you will need: cotton t-shirts, needle & thread, black felt material, and a lot of PATIENCE. I went to my friend's house where she helped me cut out all the black felt mustaches and I started sewing them with her sewing machine. But it didn't really work out because 1) I'm not a great seamstress, and 2) the felt was really thick and hard to sew on... so I ended up sewing them all by hand. As you can see from the photos below, we got a little weird... (going crazy from sewing too long?)... but in the end, I think the photos of our entire English Department wearing mustache t-shirts were definitely worth it! In case you're wondering, I'm the one in orange with the unibrow!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

I'm thankful for... my wedding dress!

As you can read from the title, I found my wedding dress this weekend!!!

I'm actually really thankful that I finally found a dress because to tell you the truth it was hard going wedding dress shopping and it was a relief to finally be done with it. Let me explain. First, I want to share with you that even though I obviously wanted to find something gorgeous to wear on my wedding day, I also felt strongly in my heart that I did not want to spend an extravagant amount of money on a dress. Now, $1000 may not be extravagant for some people (after all, the average wedding dress price at most Canadian boutiques I went to was $1200+) but for me that's too much. Don't get me wrong - I know many girls who have gotten dresses around that price range because everyone has a different budget and I'm not here to say what anyone should or shouldn't spend their money on. But it was my own personal choice that I wanted to find a wedding dress that was cheaper and I wanted to share with you the reasons why.

It all started in Hong Kong last year when I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine about money and how we spend it. At the time, his fiancee was wedding dress shopping and we talked about how dresses were so overpriced because stores knew that people were willing to pay, and how that money could be put towards necessities or other good causes. This mentality contrasted so differently with the way many bridal magazines and websites promote the message that one of the most important things for the wedding is to find that perfect dress, and how "as a bride, you deserve to spend a huge amount of money on the dress because you only get married once". But after that conversation with my friend, I remember thinking that I wanted to make it a personal goal to be mindful of how much my dress would cost, even if it meant wearing a dress that was not as "nice" as what I imagined my wedding dress to be. 

Well, a dress budget in Asia would have been easier to stick to since everything is cheaper over there. However, when I moved back to Canada and actually began my own wedding dress search in Vancouver it was much harder. I started struggling with my budget because all the dresses I liked were around $1500 CDN. To be honest, it was pretty hard to try on all these gorgeous gowns and walk away instead of whipping out my credit card and taking one of those dresses home. I started bargaining with myself - for awhile, I thought maybe I did "deserve" to spend a bit more on my dress because of course every girl wants to look beautiful on her wedding day. But then I started thinking, "exactly how important is it for me to "look good" on my wedding day? Will Mr. Potatohead love me any less if I don't meet his expectations of a beautiful bride?" And then of course I realized that those expectations were obviously self-imposed and looking pretty on the wedding day was nothing in comparison to the bigger picture of our MARRIAGE. Besides, most guys have no idea what the difference is between a "satin sweetheart A-line gown with diagonal ruching" versus a "white chiffon sheath dress with a corset back" (haha... yes... I just tried to throw in as much wedding dress lingo as I know). On the wedding day, all a groom will see is how wonderful his bride is, and no matter what kind of dress she is wearing, he will think she is beautiful. I started to think how silly I was, complaining about  not being able to find a dress when really, that was such a "first-world problem" - realistically, not a real problem at all.

I decided that maybe shopping at Canadian bridal boutiques was not the best choice since everything seemed so expensive. So this weekend, I drove down to the States (to David's Bridal) because I knew a few other thrifty brides who had bought their dresses from there. I was actually hopeful and I had a good feeling that I would come back with a dress. Well, I was right because I finally found a beautiful gown that I could actually see myself wearing down the aisle. My consultant told me that the gown was $800 but when I went to pay for it, it was actually $660! Even the consultant was surprised! Don't you just LOVE cash register surprises? 

I wanted to shared this dress-buying experience with you all, because it really made me rethink a lot about the way I spend my money - not only with this particular "big purchase" but with all other everyday purchases as well. Around half a year ago, I really started feeling strongly that I had way more "stuff" than I needed and that often, all those material things just blinded me from other more important issues like caring for those who are in need. Part of this feeling came from living by myself in Hong Kong as I discovered how little I could live on and how much I could live without. Deciding to spend less on a wedding dress may not seem like a big deal, but for me I'm realizing that it's in my little everyday choices (like choosing which necessities or luxuries to spend money on) that truly reveal where my priorities lie. After all, the things in this world will pass away and material possessions don't last forever. So anyway, I guess that's a little personal note on how I'm continually learning to manage my finances and decide where I want to "invest" the money I have.

As for my wedding dress, I won't reveal anything because Mr. Potatohead won't see the dress until I walk down the aisle and the poor guy has spent the whole weekend abruptly walking away from conversations I have with friends who have been asking me what my dress looks like. By the way, it looks nothing like the dress below in case you're wondering if there's a resemblance. That's just a little paper gown I made out of a doily lying around my room! :) And on that note, the thought did come across my mind to attempt making a wedding dress out of doilies... or TOILET PAPER. haha. Wouldn't that be awesome?

So what do you think about all this? You definitely don't have to agree with me but I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts on wedding-dress shopping, wedding budgeting, or just money in general. Don't be lazy - leave me a comment and let's keep this conversation going! :) 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

thriftstore thursday: antiques and airplanes

Remember Thursday is the day where I talk about vintage stuff and post about thrift-store hunting? Well today's post is a whole random mix of "antique" things. Last week, I went to visit a certain loser-friend in Langley and she took us around the Fort Langley area. Even though I don't get the chance to go there often, I love that area because there are so many quaint little stores and it's just such a relaxing place. We went into an antiques store that had amazing furniture, paintings, knick-knacks, a very gorgeous vintage sewing machine, and a creepy-looking Cabbage Patch Kid named "Kevin". I didn't buy anything (although Kevin was tempting) but I loved just lurking around and poking at things. 

Also featured in Fort Langley are Madame and Monsieur Plasticbagface here, and the creepy baby in ice-cream that I just happen to always see EVERYWHERE I GO (seriously, I've seen one in Richmond, in Vancouver, at Granville Island, and now in Langley). He's everywhere.

Now here's something else "vintage". We also went to the Canadian Museum of Flight to look at old planes. Admission was half-off, so only $5 and there's a whole collection of historical planes to see! That was pretty cool because I've never been there before. Oh and below is my fato-friend (one of my best and oldest friends) who is proud to be featured in all his weirdo-glory. Also, if you look below, the small turquoise plane is actually a flight simulator where the instructor sits in the attached grey chair, and the student practices inside. I thought that was neat. It's like those ones you see at the mall for kids where you put in a quarter and it slowly moves around aimlessly for 30 seconds. Except this toy is for adults... 

That last picture is of me sitting in the pilot's seat, ready to fly. Anyone care to have a ride? Haha... scary.

 Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my little Langley tour of antiques and airplanes! And just curious, for those of you who live in the Lower Mainland - have YOU ever seen the creepy baby-in-ice-cream statue? HAHA