Story Update: Keep Voting!

Dear readers,

This is a quick update to let you know the status of the story I submitted to a local Vancouver writing contest that I posted in early September. The good news: I made it into the top 10 thanks to your votes! I know some of you have been tremendously faithful in voting for it every day. Like, literally every day. That means a lot!

So the voting isn’t over yet though. The semifinalists have until Oct 30 to get more votes for our stories, and then the top 3 will be revealed. I hope your stamina for voting isn’t exhausted yet . . . just another 2 weeks, we can do this!

Here’s the new link to my story where you can vote for it once a day.

You guys are the best!

We Make Stuff

The artist’s vocation is to send light into the human heart. – Robert Schumann

We Make Stuff Vol. 2 compiles 100 artists working in Vancouver and celebrates what they make. Celebrates the vocation of the artist—a vocation often misunderstood and under-appreciated. There are painters and chefs, breakdancers and filmmakers. Musicians and poets, social entrepreneurs and swimsuit designers. They’re your friends, your family, your coworkers, your bosses. And they show us that there are so many ways to make something beautiful and meaningful in the world because our culture needs that. You and I need that.

An example of the beautiful two-page spread for each artist. This artist is my coworker whose art hangs in the Vancouver Public Library!

An example of the beautiful two-page spread for each artist. This artist is my coworker whose designs are hanging in the Vancouver Public Library for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

My artist-boyfriend is also in the book, and I know I am rather partial but I do think he makes beautiful paintings. This book is a great way for him, and 99 others, to share their art with a wider audience. To spotlight the artistic vocation. To join with others who are making stuff and to inspire others to look at our world in new, fresh, and hopeful ways.

But making a full colour coffee table-style book isn’t cheap. They need to raise $38 000 by Oct 15 for the book to even go to print.

There’s only 3 days left of their crowdfunding campaign and they still have $14 000 to raise. Will you consider giving to this project so that these 100 stories can come to life? The soft-cover edition is only $35. It also makes a great Christmas present for your art-loving friends & family! (Note: If they don’t raise the minimum $38 000 by Oct 15, the book will not go to print and you’ll be refunded for your contribution).

Let’s send some light into the human heart! Contribute here.


Well, it’s that time of year I bring you another Pinteresty-style post. And yes, it has to do with picture frames again. That’s what my DIY projects tend to be. This time, I tackled distressing a picture frame.

I wanted some art for my bathroom as I’m still decorating after over a year of moving into my apartment. So I did some antique shopping in Fort Langley and bought this old print and picture frame.

original printI liked the print, especially the postcard text behind the birds. It fits perfectly with the old handwriting on my shower curtain. But I didn’t like the sickly sweet pink of the wood frame. So I distressed it, thanks to these helpful “how-to” instructions I found here and here.

Since I wanted a dark brown colour to be the old layer of paint that showed through, I started off by repainting both pieces of the frame, applying two coats. My old acrylic paint set I got for Christmas one year came in handy so that I didn’t have to buy all the supplies.


My kitchen table work space. The turquoise frame to the left needed some touch-ups so I did that at the same time.

IMG_0266IMG_0268After letting the paint thoroughly dry, I rubbed the edge of a candle along the frames because this prevents the next colour of paint from sticking to the brown. It also indicates which parts of the frame will peel away when you bring out the sandpaper. Don’t be shy with the wax. If you want a really distressed frame, rub away. You can see the path of my wax below.

IMG_0315 I painted the two pieces again in the main colour I wanted the frame to be.


I mixed a large amount of white, a pinch of yellow, and some dark purple to get this purply grey colour

IMG_0319I only did one coat of the purply grey because I was going to be sanding some of it off anyway to have the brown show through. Next, I took a piece of sandpaper and started rubbing the frames. I was surprised how easily it took off the paint in the places where I had rubbed the wax!

IMG_0323The last step was to apply some clear varnish to seal in the paint. I borrowed a spray can of my dad’s which gave it a semi-gloss look.

IMG_0328IMG_0325And voilà! The funny thing is now I don’t even think I’ll hang it in my bathroom. I like it more for my hallway or living room.


My antique corner, minus the Times Square frame I also repainted. You could say I have eclectic tastes!

So that was my bout of craftiness until next year. Any Distress-It-Yourself (or Do-It-Yourself) projects you have on the go?

A Visit to Storybrooke

In anticipation of the season 4 premiere of Once Upon a Time tomorrow, I took a trip to Storybrooke/Steveston to get my first look at this seaside fishing village where the show is primarily filmed.


a street in Steveston

I’ve been watching the series since day 1 and am a big fan. Usually shows start derailing after the first couple seasons, but I’ve been impressed at the level of creativity and comprehension it still has, despite the many plot twists and odd mix of fairytale and Disney characters from old & recent times, like Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Hook, Ariel, Mulan, the Wicked Witch, etc. And now Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff from Disney’s 2013 hit Frozen will join the motley crew of characters in Storybrooke this season.

Kristoff and Elsa

Sven (reindeer), Kristoff, and Elsa

Storybrooke Library and Clock Tower

There’s really one one main street in Steveston and that’s Moncton Street where all the shops are. It’s actually called Main Street in the show.

Main intersection

main intersection in Moncton Street

Here you can see the Nikka Fishing & Marine building they use for the derelict Storybrooke Library that gets a clock tower and boarded-up windows added to it in the show.

Moncton Street

Nikka Fishing & Marine


Storybrooke Library and Clock Tower


Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) strolls Main Street in Storybrooke

Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop

I was surprised to discover that Mr. Gold’s pawn shop is actually a woman’s store called It’s Posh!, an upcycled souvenir shop. The only indication of its other identity is this sign in the window.


Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer

Mr. Gold's Pawnshop

Side view of It’s Posh!

Granny’s Diner

It’s surprising how different a TV show can make a place look. Although Granny’s Diner looks quaint enough, it seemed much more charming in the show. Then again, I didn’t go inside (it was closed) so not sure how that matched up. From the window, it loos like it has the same outdoor patio chairs inside as out, rather than the benches of the retro diner. In real life, this place is called the Cannery Café.

Cannery Café

Cannery Café

Once.Upon.a.Time.S02E13.720p.HDTV.X264-DIMENSION 1097

Inside Granny’s Diner


Outside Granny’s Diner on set

Here are some other shots I took of Steveston that you might recognize from the show:

IMG_0180IMG_0192IMG_0188IMG_0198 - Version 2Storybrooke BakeryAny readers out there who also like watching Once Upon a Time? How do you feel about this upcoming Frozen-themed season?

The Fault in our Stars

I read The Fault in our Stars this afternoon at Queen Elizabeth Park. It’s been a while since I’ve indulged myself in some YA fiction, and I enjoyed it. Writing a book about two teenagers who have cancer without making it super sad, sappy, or sentimental is a feat in itself, and for that, I highly commend author John Green.

IMG_0220I liked the witty dialogue between Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. They are characters I could believe in—that I would want to exist in real life. Their flirting is clever, which saves a lot of the scenes that could be cheesy from going too far into that territory. It helps that Hazel reads a lot so she has a good vocabulary and lots of references to draw from. To give you some insight into her personality, she wears a T-shirt with a picture of René Magritte‘s famous pipe with the caption, “Ceci n’est pas un pipe” and questions the exclusivity of scrambled eggs as breakfast food. Augustus is also a questioner—a teenage philosopher concerned with time and what it means to live a life that has meaning.

MagrittePipeLiterature plays a huge role in this book—probably one of the key reasons I enjoyed it. In our digital age of text messages and wall posts, it is a book that connects Hazel and Augustus. Well, they actually meet in a cancer support group where Augustus immediately falls for Hazel (whereas for Hazel, it happened “the way you fall asleep. Slowly, and then all at once”), but Hazel lends him her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction (which is made-up, in case you were wondering like me), and Augustus reads it and loves it just as much as she does. That book forms a large and recurring part of the plot because both of them exchange letters with the author, Peter van Houten, and go to Amsterdam to meet him using Augustus’ Wish (a Cancer Perk as Hazel calls it).

tumblr_my0fjwiJDc1qbyi1io1_1280.pngHazel narrates the book. Here’s an example of some of her dialogue with Augustus/Gus:

“When can I see you?”

“Certainly not until you finish An Imperial Affliction.” I enjoyed being coy.

“Then I’d better hang up and start reading.”

“You’d better,” I said, and the line clicked dead without another word. Flirting was new to me, but I liked it.

Hazel likes reading poetry and so she quotes T.S. Eliot to Augustus (“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”) and William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow.” The explanation/inspiration for the title was my favourite part though, and I must confess, it was the title that intrigued me enough to read the book (well, that and the fact that it’s so wildly popular).

From Peter van Houten’s letter to Augustus after explaining his and Hazel’s situation:

Everyone in this tale has a rock-solid hamartia: hers, that she is so sick; yours, that you are so well. Were she better or you sicker, then the stars would not be so terribly crossed, but it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.” Easy enough to say when you’re a Roman nobleman (or Shakespeare!), but there is no shortage of fault to be found amid our stars.

There is no shortage of fault to be found amid our stars. Love that.

fault-in-our-stars-07(Spoiler alert) On the topic of what else I liked about the book, I liked being surprised that the person who I thought was going to die wasn’t the person who actually died. I mean, it was awful that someone died at all, but it is a story about teenagers with cancer, and so it was likely from the get-go that it would involve death. After all, Hazel calls herself a grenade waiting to blow up.

Whether or not I watch the movie, that remains to be seen. I feel like they put the best lines into the trailer already, and I hate when trailers give you too much. If you’ve seen the movie & read the book, would you recommend the movie? Did it stay faithful to the book? Is a pack of Kleenex necessary?

A Story that Involves You

Dear readers,

Many of you have known about my long love for Vancouver, have known this blog was inspired from the city’s literary & architectural texts, have followed me from Victoria to Langley to Vancouver where I went from dreaming about the city to actually living in it, have watched me settle in and find my home here, stop people on the streets, remember the city’s past, sit in poetic chairs along the beach, grapple with its aloneness and togetherness, hike its mountains, crawl to its culture, and post an ode to the city on my one-year anniversary.

So when a local writing contest came up asking people to submit stories about their relationship to Vancouver, I jumped at the chance. Oh, I think I have quite a few things to say about this.

Those “quite a few things to say” boiled down into a short piece I submitted called “Living Bigger, Looking Closer.”

I’m sharing this with you as I would love your help in getting my story into the Top 10 by reading it and voting for it here. You can even vote for it once per day from now until October 15 if you’re especially keen!

You’ve all journeyed with me at some stage and so I’m really excited to have you be a part of this and to keep you updated on the progress of the contest, which of course I would love to win! I hope you like my reflections on Vancouver, that it resonates with you in some way regardless of where you live, and that you’ll be inspired to share it with others.

Much love & thanks,

Vancouver and me

Vancouver and me