Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Review: All Lovely Things

A few weeks ago I received an email asking me if I would like to review Lea Redmond's new book "All Lovely Things - A Field Journal for the Objects That Define Us" that is being released today (March 3rd, 2015)! I obviously jumped on the offer (hence this post and review) and am beyond impressed with how well suited this book is for me. I am always interested in books and journals that help me stretch my creative muscles and this one is the perfect resource to prompt all sorts of meaningful and reflective drawings.  It's a wonderful illustrated guide that helps you better understand yourself through the items and objects that fill in the background of the story of your life.  Before I go much further, I'd like to say that this is by no means a paid promotion - I just really, really ended up loving this publication.  Let's take a look:

The first thirteen pages or so of the book outline how to use this journal to document meaningful objects in your life.  Lea takes you through a series of experiments to get your creative juices flowing and to help you connect with special items and important people in your life.  To help you understand the concept of the proposed project even further, she has filled out a few pages of her own to demonstrate ways to use this book to its full potential.  I was particularly drawn to two of the people she chose as I have a certain admiration for them as well.  The first being that all too amazing mid-century modern icon Charles (and Ray) Eames:

and the second being the king of natural selection himself - Charles Darwin:

I'm pretty sure I am not quite as knowledgable on the life and inspiration of either Eames or Darwin but enjoyed peeking into the inspiration they have given Lea to grow into the person she is today. There is even a section later on in the book that lets you reflect on specific objects you've drawn so you can describe how they have contributed to your life.

This book is like a guided tour of your inner thoughts and memories and really helps you identify key items in your life and celebrate them without necessarily having loads of physical "stuff" that clogs up our homes.  It is like a lovely spring cleaning for your soul (and house in many cases) as it lets you connect by sketching, collaging, or describing memorable objects from your life and may help you let go of some items that you don't necessarily want around but still want to preserve the memory of in a special way! The majority of the book is a blank canvas where you can draw portraits of yourself, or people you know, admire, or imagine and connect specific objects to those important people in your life.  I love that there are different words as well as blank spots on the journal pages to help you stretch your creativity and perhaps think about someone or something in a slightly different way. Here's a sample blank page:

Now when I went on to start drawing in my own pages I quickly realized just how personal and emotional you can make the journal and enjoyed a look back on some fond memories of my Grandma:

I then decided to take a step back from the serious and dedicate the next drawing to Humphrey (the stuffed unicorn car pillow Fraser and I make stories up about).  I was shocked at how quickly I had filled up the two pages:

Oh my that unicorn is a character.  I really love how I can draw a little doodle of something that may seem super random but actually tells a whole story about a memory (or in Humphrey's case an imaginary memory) based on the person it is drawn next to. I
 had an amazing time doing up quick sketches in this journal and will certainly continue to fill it out over time.  I'm thinking  the next entry I will do is drawings of myself at different ages and all the things I loved during those years.  OoO! What fun! 

I'm quite obviously a big supporter of this book and highly recommend picking it up for anyone who enjoys journaling, doodling, or wants to reflect creatively on their life.  Just think how cool it would be to show to your kids one day and tell them all the stories about how Humphrey secretly makes campfires to keep warm in the wintertime (despite his weak ankles)! Hooray! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Left over wedding decor

As you may have heard, Fraser and I have been working on fixing up and unpacking our condo for a good two years.  Now that the majority of the renovations are done (just some little touch up projects left), we can really focus on unpacking all of these boxes that have been sitting here for ages and enjoy our home and our things! What a concept!  

A lot of our unpacking is actually just trying to purge like crazy and see what we really don't use or need anymore and what fits in our lives (and house).  I found it super satisfying when I got around to sorting through our left over wedding stuff because most of it ended up being recycling and donations! I can't believe we just packed all that crap up after the wedding and shoved it in the spare room for it to sit for a year and half taking up space! Oy!  

I did want to keep a few things to remind of our magical special day - and one of those things were my homemade pom poms! I painstakingly crafted hundreds of tissue paper and yarn poms for months before our celebration and even though the tissue ones went straight in the recycling, I couldn't part with the adorable little fluffy white yarn ones I spent so much time and love making. But what do you do with a garbage bag full of white pom poms? Apparently put them in apothecary jar and pop them on the main bathroom counter! Behold:

Now whenever I'm washing my hands I can be pleasantly reminded of all the fun we had on our wedding and since these poms are wonderfully enclosed in glass they won't even become a giant dust magnet! Ho ho! Bonus! I even bought the jars on clearance years ago so they were just empty vessels waiting for a decorative purpose. Double bonus! I'm certainly thrilled with how this little project turned out and how wonderfully it fits in with our bathroom colour scheme. So how about you? Did you keep any of your wedding paraphernalia around? How do you use/display it? 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Forever ill

Does anyone else out there find these ecards hilariously on point? like...all the time? I certainly do and this one falls particularly close to home these days. 


My friend Hetty phoned me a few days ago and asked me, "Hey Kate - are you busy?"  

I paused. I thought. "No...not really. Whats up?"

Hetty:  "I was wondering if it would be ok if I popped by and borrowed Game of Thrones Seasons 1-3 from you."

Me: "Oh! I don't have to shower OR get out of my jammies for that! Of course you can!"

Yep. I actually considered saying I was somewhat busy in fear of having to put actual real clothes on and go out into the world. No, I'm not a hermit - but I have been suffering with severe chronic illness for many months now (plus a lovely cold/sinus infection this week) and getting dressed seemed like entirely too much effort than it's worth. The majority of my energy these days is spent trying to rest up and get healthy - thankful two things that do not require me to wear a bra. Perfect. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

all the felt succulents please

I'm pretty sure I've always had a soft spot for cacti and succulents.  Back in 1993 I remember going crazy over hen and chicks at my uncle's house and promptly making my mom and grandma plant a whole bunch in their own gardens once we got home.  I've probably toned it down a bit since then, but I still really enjoy their amazingly bizarre greenery and neato different species that make them a cool set of plants. Plus they're apparently really easy to take care of and grow at home (although it isn't completely fool proof...trust me). 

Last year I ended up taking a succulent class at the university horticulture centre where I learned all about these cool little guys and got to make a planter of my very own! I was extra enthused about becoming an amazing succulent gardener and loved taking care of my new family of plants I got to take home from the course:

Oh! Don't they look lovely? As time went on (and summer ended and I had to bring these babies inside), I quickly realized that I sort of stink at taking care of plants and a bunch of them died. Well...most of them died actually.  My friends always tell me what an amazing gardener I am with my jungle of houseplants I keep in my living room but I'm afraid the secret is out. I'm not actually that great at keeping things alive - but I am really good at buying new plants and then repotting my planters to make them look like I didn't kill them all.  Yep. No more lies. I've got a black thumb. 

I seem to be doing the "swap out the dead plants" game every few months and although potting plants is a wonderful hobby I'm enjoying (and getting pretty good at), I am increasingly drawn to the world of felt succulents I've been seeing so much of on the internet. I mean look at this fantastic arrangement made by miasole on etsy (link):


Now those are some stunning succulents - and you can't even kill them! Oh what a brilliant idea!  I am always a sucker for a good felt project and with the supplies just kicking around I'm definitely adding this one to the "to craft" list.  I'm highly doubting my creations will be as amazing as miasole's, but I like to put a good attempt in before calling it quits. I'll let you know how it goes.  I will also have to take a picture of the one succulent from that planter I showed you that seems to be thriving in my "neglectful to all things living" environment.  Any master succulent growers out there?  How do you keep your plants from dying off?

In other news, tonight I realized that in 2014 I wrote a whopping 6 blog posts. That is a good 360 fewer posts than many of my previous years and I'd really like to meet somewhere in between that 6 and 360 post range. Seems doable right? We shall see. This is a good start right?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Apparently I've been neglecting my poor blog much more than I should be and have decided to pop back in and share a few of the crafts I've been working on in the last while.  I've been buying up vintage sheets from thrift shops for a few years now (why yes - I do tend to hoard) and decided to bite the bullet and start hacking them up and using them! Turns out it wasn't as painful as I thought it was going to be because now I get to enjoy a snippet of vintage goodness every time I walk through my front door! How lovely! I also decided to go with "hello" as my greeting instead of the traditional "welcome" because it seemed to suit me better (for some unknown reason). Now I just need to get around to putting the rest of that vintage sheet stash to good use. What have you been up to lately? 

Friday, December 5, 2014

quite the culture

Looks like my goal of blogging more hasn't been the most successful but sometimes life just gets in the way it seems. I've been having one heck of an unproductive time since moving back to Kamloops as our home renovations are still in progress (but ALMOST done), we haven't actually finished unpacking (eep), and my chronic illness has progressed to the point where I can't work and trying to rest and feel better has completely taken over my life. Oh dear! 

On the bright side of things - I have had lots of time to read loads of scientific studies and novels on dealing with chronic illness (seriously - it's great. I love research) and I got the opportunity to make a whole whack load of little pseudomonas microbe plushies to send to some lovely ladies (and their lab cohorts) for xmas! My pinched nerve pain has left my left arm/side very limited so these cuties took quite a bit longer than my usual pace but I did it! And boy am I ever happy with how they turned out:

I hope these darlings are enjoying their new homes in the warm hands of those San Francisco pseudomonas lab geeks! I even made a nice little stop motion video showing these little opportunistic pathogens reproducing! Check it out!

A video posted by Kate McCurrach (@scientific_culture) on

Hehe! We can send our thanks to Fraser for that one since it was his idea to do the video in the first place. Thanks hubs!

That little spout of creative progress left me hankering for more so I've been working on crafting up all sorts of lovely creations for xmas presents this year. Not working has tightened by budget quite a bit so I decided I may as well use some of the craft supplies I have on hand and make things! Unfortunately that also means I can't share my creations with you until after santa arrives - but I can tell you I've really been stretching the old creativity muscles and making all sorts of different and unique things. Oh and not to worry - I am still rolling along my slow road to recovery and hopefully be all healed up sooner rather than later! Hooray!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Caturday in Space!

This image pretty much made my day so hopefully it will bring some space-tastic cheer to your day as well!

Happy Caturday! I'm hoping the silliness and cuteness of this picture will get me through a morning of (very dreaded but necessary) bathing suit shopping. Ack. What are your plans?