Thursday, July 22, 2010

shedding

Living in Edmonton I felt very out of place. I often longed to have friends that viewed the world in the same way that I did, and were ambitious, active, and loved having a good time. I'd usually find one or the other trait in a single person (sometimes, not all the time, don't get offended Edmonton friends). I'd divide my time up between groups and whenever I tried to merge it usually failed.
Leaving Edmonton for Eindhoven I was SURE that I would be so much happier and find exactly what I was looking for. This wasn't the case either.
Upon settling in Calgary for a couple months, I FINALLY feel like I've got it. I am happy. I have some amazing people around me and for the first time in a while I don't have the urge to get up and go, just to keep going in the direction that I am.

I am looking forward to tying up the last of my loose ends.

xo
v

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes

For those of you who do not know, I am back in Canada. I'm back re-assessing life and the next steps I'm planning to take.

I do like keeping this blog, and after a bit of a hiatus from it, I plan on revamping it and finding new purpose for it. From here on in I want to focus on things I find interesting and inspiring, focusing a lot of art, design and fashion, because that is what is important to me these days.

I have a few projects in the works, and I hope to document a bit of the process of those too.

So I hope you stick around!

xo
v

Monday, April 19, 2010

Things the Dutch eat

If you ask the average Dutch person to describe Dutch cuisine, they most often would have a difficult time picking out something that is truly unique to the Netherlands in terms of food. But based on my own personal observations the Dutch are masters of putting various things on bread. Lunch usually consists of a variety of sweet and savory "broodjes".

Here are some uniquely Dutch examples of bread topping:

Savory
1. Smeerkaas
This is a lot like Cheese Whiz, but comes in a wide varieties of flavors, like sambal (spicy), herbed, gouda, and ham.

2. Ambachtelijk Salade
This category encompasses any "salad" constructed with the base ingredient of mayonnaise. You can get chicken curry, chicken satay, egg, cucumber, crab, tuna, salmon, probably others.

3. Filet American
Raw. Meat. Spread. Pureed cow. Salty. Gross. Apparently can be found in different flavors as well.

They also have regular deli meat, a wide selection of thinly sliced 'wurst' (sausage), and of course lots and lots of cheese.

Sweet
This category is a bit more delicious.

1. Hagel Slag
 Affectionately called a "candy sandy" by my friend Sarah, Hagel Slag is basically ice cream sprinkles for your toast. These can be dark or milk chocolate, sprinkle or shaving form, or even multi-coloured plain candy sprinkles. The key to these is to butter your toast prior to slag-ing it to make the candy stick.

2. Appelstroop
Like thick apple syrup for your bread. Often eaten with butter or even cheese.

3. Schuddebuikjes
A lot like hagel slag, but mini cinnamon cookies! Also requires butter.

4. Kokosbrood
Think flat macaroon for your toast. Quite good on its own. I've only tried the plain kind, but it can also be found with fruit flavors like banana, or with raisins.

5. Duo Penotti
Nutella-like hazelnut/chocolate spread with some vanilla creamy stuff. Yummy.

I also found this ad for Duo Penotti 'Solo'. A bit risque, no? Apparently sex also sells sandwich spread.

There are also many many other popular condiments, like some vegetable infused mayo called "sandwich spread", peanut butter with chocolate chips, curry ketchup, satay sauce (peanut-y), and lots of regular mayo. So much mayo.

Another interesting thing I have yet to try is vla, which seems a lot like pudding to me. It's everywhere and looks tempting, but quite processed and more than likely unhealthy.

Only one more week to try this stuff! Then back to good old Canadian predictability. Sigh.

xo
v

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I got blogged!

Today I received a message from Gay Giordano letting me know that she included one of my pigeon paintings in a post on her blog, I Dreamed I Saw in a feature about pigeons. 
I haven't had much chance to look around the site, but it looks pretty neat from what I saw. 

So thank you Gay! I'm really flattered by this!

I also want to mention that the painting that is featured there will be available in print form in the extremely near future.

xo
v

ps I don't know what happened to the formatting of this post, but part way through it went orange and bold. I fixed the orange, but the bold seems to be sticking around. Oh well! 

pps Here's a direct link to the post

Friday, April 9, 2010

Shameless Self Promotion

In my quest to become a self sustaining artist, I've making prints of my paintings!

The first of these prints is my horse cherub.


If you are interested, it can be purchased for 25$ off my Esty page
Or by contacting me personally.

xo
v

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Images 4 and update

So I had the meeting with my boss, and they do not have consistent work for me. That being said, it looks like I will be returning to Canada and seeking out work there. I am ok with this. I'm really looking forward to coming home, being with family and friends, and hitting the reset button. So my plan for now is to come to Vancouver beginning of May to run the Vancouver 1/2 marathon and enjoy the coast for a week or so, then arrive in Calgary on May 11. I'll hopefully be able to come back to the Netherlands for Dana's graduation end of June (and maybe a little trip to Berlin again as Dana really wants to go, and I would love to see our friends that live there again before they move back to Australia), but that's still up in the air for now (money-wise).

I have three weeks left here. The weather's been nice lately and I'm enjoying it, but I am really looking forward to coming home. Canada rules.

These pictures seem to have an animal theme.
What do you think?

xo
v

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lunch!

I love lunch. Almost as much as I love breakfast. But lunch has a special something about it, that nice little break through the day, and if you get to eat something special (even if it's some tasty leftovers) it gives you something to look forward to all morning.
That said, I have always had an admiration for cleverly put-together lunches, like this lady and her cute bento boxes she constructs for her kids. I mean... how awesome would it be to open a lunch box and see something new and unexpected every day?!
If/when I have kids, I totally plan on doing similarly awesome things. Maybe even for myself the next time I have a job/school where I have to take lunch everyday.

xo
v

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Images 3

Woowoo! I hope you all are enjoying this. I am.
What I find interesting is that now by grouping the pictures together in groups, I am seeing similarities and connections between the pictures. And since I'm posting them chronologically, it kind of shows where my head was at (or what was attracting me) at that particular moment.


For instance, I find this group all sort of humorous. Except for the parachute one. I don't know what's up with that. I quite like it though.

xo
v

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Images 2


I have the final presentation for my project at work tomorrow, so today will be a long day and late night. I only wish I had enough sleep last night and more chewy ginger candies to power me through the day.
I had a dream last night that I was sleep walking. One of those dreams within a dream. It was freaky.

xo
v

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Images

Due to my internship/job, I have developed an addiction to saving random pictures I come across on the internet. It might be the subject matter, colors, or design that grab my eye, for whatever reason I save it. I've been using this image bank as inspiration for designs and at times just plain amusement.

And I've decided that I should start sharing it. I'll post a few pictures every few days. Hope you enjoy it.


xo
v

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Springtime

It has finally warmed up here. Although the thermometer didn't go down much past -5 it was a bitter, long winter. The sun is out longer, giving me light and scenery for my apres-work runs that were previously in the dark. When I leave work I feel awake and alive, and I no longer dread the cold bike ride home. Instead I enjoy the sounds of the birds and the springtimey smells.

I've been brimming with ideas for my own projects. T-shirts for threadless. Prints of my paintings. Patterns to screen print. Bags to make. Last night I couldn't fall asleep because my mind was racing so I got up and sketched. This makes me sooooo sosososo happy. I spent the weekend laying on the couch, reading, sudoku-ing and going for a couple runs. It was fabulous. Last night I worked on Adobe Illustrator tutorials. I've updated my cirriculum vitae and portfolio and applied for some more jobs (in Canada). Being productive has been good.

I am planning to come home, not sure for how long. At first it was for a visit, then possibly permanent, and now I'm unsure. I had a chat with work about my situation (visa and money running out, needing a more permanent/reliable job), and they were a bit bummed about me possible leaving Eindhoven. So we've set up a meeting next week to talk about my future. I have no idea what will be the outcome, as they need project managers and graphic designers not industrial designers, but it's nice to know that they are willing to talk about it and that they do like me and want me around.  I've been hesitant asking for so long (language barriers bring out the shyness in me), but I'm glad I finally did. Ask and ye shall receive, so they say.
upwards and onwards

xoxo
v

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St Patty's Day!

After having a couple frustrating days at work while feeling on the brink of a cold and chronic shoulder pain, I've managed to concoct the perfect remedy (that surprisingly doesn't contain booze): exercise, cook, eat, chill. Maybe throw a power nap in there (I am the queen of power naps).
Yesterday I went for a run and make a delicious, rich chicken curry with the little ingredients in our fridge. Curry is my fallback plan for any meal. It's so easy and good. Go ahead and try it out if you dare:

1kg chicken thighs (bone in), about 7-8 pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
Some ginger, about a tbsp roughly chopped
One leek, sliced
One can of coconut milk
1 - 1.5 tbsp green curry paste
About 1.5 - 2 cups frozen peas

Brown the chicken thighs in a little oil in a large pan or saucepan on high. Set aside and drain excess oil.
Throw in a little more oil and brown up the garlic, onion and ginger. Throw in the leek and toss around a bit. Reduce heat to medium.
Dump in the coconut milk and mix in curry paste until delightfully homogenous.
Put in the chicken thighs and peas, mix around until everything is covered. Reduce heat to medium-low. Put a lid on the pan/pot and simmer (stirring occasionally) until the chicken falls off the bone with minimal effort.

My cure for the blues today was trying my hand at Irish soda bread. I thought it appropriate, as it's St Patrick's Day and I don't feel like getting drunk. I'm really happy about the results. I couldn't help but try out a slice before snapping a picture.


It was warm, dense, and a bit tart. I hope it lasts till Saturday so I can make some french toast and use up the 1/2 container of mascapone cheese I have hanging out in the fridge.
This bread is ridiculously easy to make.

Preheat oven to 375F
3 cups flour
1.5 cups buttermilk
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking soda

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a reservoir in the center for the milk. Pour in 1 cup of buttermilk and set aside the other 1/2 cup. Mix ingredients together, stirring in the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Mix until you have a soft dough.
Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface. Knead dough on surface for no longer than 30 seconds to a minute, just enough to make the dough stick together. Pat into a flat circle and slice an X about 1/2" deep and plop it onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 40 minutes or until the bread makes a hollow sound when you tap it on the bottom.
IMPORTANT:
DO NOT OVERKNEAD or else the carbon dioxide bubbles will collapse.
Also apparently it's important to make sure the oven is fully preheated before putting the bread in.

Voila! Enjoy your bread.

xo
v

Monday, March 15, 2010

Applying myself

Now after a fantastic, exciting month of running around Europe (I believed Dana's mom once referred to me as a "whirling dervish" and that probably applies in this situation) it's back to business. Business being current work and also finding new work.

Since I unfortunately have no steady income here, it looks like I will be heading back to Canada and have been looking for opportunities back home. There seems to be a lot of jobs and companies I'm interested in, so it's giving me some hope. I've been updating my resume and portfolio, and whenever I do that, it always seems like I end up rewriting or redesigning the whole thing. That's probably a good thing though, since after Edhv I have a better handle on graphic design. It just takes time! Ugh. Sometimes I feel like I'm subconsciously procrastinating when I do that.  

It's bittersweet. As I have been incredibly homesick lately and I would love to feel financially comfortable again, it's been such an adventure living here and I've learned a lot and met some incredible people. I am just so thankful for technology (ie skype and facebook) that I feel like I will keep in contact with those who've made such a good impact on my life. But still I feel sad that this experience didn't turn out as planned and I feel disappointed in myself for retreating into familiar home territory. I've been accused for "running away from my problems", but at the same time, I believe that generally people are afraid of changing their minds.

But of course this doesn't mean I'm suck in Canada forever, always looking back to my 10 months abroad as the only adventurous event in my life. I'm looking at this experience as a trial run. I have all intentions on living outside Canada again, but I'll go about it differently next time. It may be for school, or for a job. Or possibly to set up my own company or work as a freelancer or just live as an artist. Whatever it is, next time I will have a solid plan. A big lesson I have learned is to not move to a new country during a global recession without a job lined up before hand. It's a bit of a challenge. I'll also be more choosy about which city I live in, and choose one based on not just who is living there or if I have work there. I will have to put serious thought into it and have a set of criteria to ensure I will stay there a while and be happy.

Anyways, I was talking about procrastinating earlier and right now I'm double procrastinating so I should get to it!

xo
v

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cheerful

Some days you wake up and a small series of relatively insignificant events set the tone for the day.
Today the tone of the day was set from the emails I got when I got to work this morning. I had a nice email from my Grandparents saying they saw the project I worked on in Milan, and they enjoyed the fudge I sent them from Scotland. I also got an email of cute animals from Mom and a quick hello from cousin Michelle, including a naked picture of Burt Reynolds.
Good days always start with Burt Reynold's ass.
Thanks!
xoxo

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When the unfortunate happens sometimes it doesn't matter how close of a friendship you had with a person, but the effect that person had on your life.

This past Saturday the incredibly talented skateboarder, designer and artist Nathan Matthews passed away after battling brain cancer. We weren't particularly close friends, although we hung out with common friends occasionally and had a good time.

I always highly valued his honesty and kindness, always a gentleman, with high morals and a healthy lifestyle. He obviously stuck to his guns in what he believed in and that sort of determination showed in his work and friendships. I often checked out his website to see any new work he posted, and was often left feeling awed and inspired when I did.

I followed his cancer treatment on facebook and always hoped that he'd pull through. I felt sick on Sunday morning when I read that he didn't. His death has hit my friends that were quite close to him very hard, and it pains me to see them in pain. I know my role now is to, yes, be sad, but to be there for them first and foremost. My heart fully goes out to his family and girlfriend, as I can't imagine the loss they must be feeling.

Rest In Peace Nathan. Your legacy lives on in your inspiration to others.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mijn Stage

Mijn = my
Stage = internship

See I'm learning Dutch!

So yes, my internship/job/place I go every day and design.
I am working at a graphic design firm, mostly designing identities (ie: logos and everything that goes along with it). It's quite interesting and different from what I've done before. Everything is heavily researched based to find what the company/topic is all about, then eventually that develops into some sort of visual identity.
My job, as intern, is to be a machine. First a research machine, next an idea/sketch generating machine. It's quite draining. But, for the most part, quite rewarding to see your ideas develop into something fun and unique.
It's been hard busting my ass for no pay, but there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. The project I'm working on now (to do with public transport transfer stations, more conceptual than graphics based) I will apparently be receiving some "compensation" for. I don't know when or how much, but hopefully I'll find that out soon. With this project I'm the only designer working on it so far, which I feel has really given me the opportunity to show my abilities, and the feedback has so far been positive. It's nice.
I've also been asked to go to Milan to help build a "paper cave" for a few days in February. Everything is paid for, although I don't know if I'm getting paid per se, but still, I don't have to pay anything so why not?

A big negative, or challenge, I should say, is the language barrier. I know some Dutch. Enough to buy groceries, order food in a restaurant, and few nouns and verbs here and there. I constantly ask how to say things. And everyone can hold a decent conversation in English as well. The tough part is lunch time. Everyone is speaking together, and in Dutch. So I have no chance in getting in on the conversation. And since I don't just stand around making a million sandwiches (more on the reason for that later in my next post) like everyone else, I just finish my crackers and cheese and veg and go back to my desk and check emails (that I usually don't have) or get back to work while everyone socializes. I feel like a bit of a loner at times. But on the other hand I am still making friends there and we hang out from time to time.

I had a nice conversation with my boss about a week ago. He wanted to know how I was doing. Not just work-performance wise, but life wise. How I was adjusting and managing to live in Eindhoven. I expressed my challenges and conflict about going back home. He said for the past few months he's been trying to figure me out, and that my work is quite different than the stuff in my portfolio. His perception of me was spot-on though. He said that I am quite intelligent and that is good in a world where everyone is trying to be trendy (I am aware that I'm not good at being trendy, I think), but I need some sort of push. Whether it be the right job or further schooling, I need to find something I feeling passionate about and pour myself into it. Which is so true.

I've found while I really enjoy designing and developing things, I don't really think I like typical product design. Most firms I see out there are not doing anything I am interested in, and it's a stretch for me to feel really excited about a great chair design or stuff like that. I think I'd really like to pursue more painting and illustration, at least for now. I feel happy doing it.

Well, that's it for now! Off to bed early so I can get up and run at 6am. Woo!

v

arg!

I wrote a nice post about how my internship is going and saved it because I wasn't finished! And now it's gone! Arg.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Next?

So I finally feel stable enough to write on this thing again.

Lately I've been pretty frustrated. Which, I guess is understandable having moved to the other side of the world. It's taken me about a month or so to really wrap my head around my future and lay some plans. This whole move has really shaken my basis of reality, and made me really question my direction in life in terms of location, relationships, my work ethic, and career choices. It's been real tough trying to figure everything out.

I'm realizing that while I like living overseas, Eindhoven is not the place for me. It's been difficult finding work, and quite intimidating looking for restaurant jobs or anything of that like because I don't speak Dutch (well, the Dutch I speak is limited to ordering food and simple things, no conversations yet). No work means no money, leading to a feeling of helplessness and dependency. Not enjoyable. Also from traveling around quite a bit I would really like to live in a city with a bit more of an international feel. I'm not the happiest when I'm here.

I went home over Christmas holidays, and I didn't realize how much I missed Calgary. Edmonton is nice to visit, but Calgary will always have a special place in my heart, because it's home. And it's big enough to have a semi-large city feel to it, which I like. I also miss the close proximity to the mountains, and believe it makes winter that much more bearable.

A slight comparison to here, where it rained, then sleeted, then snowed, then rain tonight between 5pm and 11pm. And it's chilly. That humidity...

So as I enter into my second half of my year permit to live here, I have to start thinking about what to do next. If I don't have a job, I can't stay (I have to prove sufficient financial means to live here). So unless I find a job elsewhere, I'll probably head back to Canada. Which I am ok with. I wouldn't mind living there for a year, getting some coin, then thinking about heading out into the world again for work or for school. This has been a good test at living abroad and I definitely want to live outside of Canada again, but a bit of time back at home would be alright. At the very least I'll be able to look at potential places to live and work first before heading out, and go about moving in a different way.

I've got a lot of choices to make in the near-ish future. I like this freedom I have right now, but at the same time, I would really like to feel at least a little bit of comfort and direction in my life. A year ago all I was focused on was getting over here, and now I'm not sure where I should go, what I should do. I've been looking into a lot of possibilities and have a few good ideas so that's nice.

I know this post was a bit heavy, but it's a part of living over here and important to express. But if being over here has taught me anything, it's to jump into whatever I do with passion and ambition, and really go past what I feel is comfortable. And that makes me feel able to do anything.

Anyways, there is more going on in my life that I want to share, but I just wanted to get that off my chest for now. There'll be something more lighthearted next time, I promise.