Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's resolutions

This year, like so many before, I've decided to NOT make any New Year's resolutions (or New Year's promises as they would be translated from Finnish). This is not a shock, I guess there's more people deciding not to make any than there are of those who do.

In celebration of 2012, even though I still won't make any personal ones, I've decided to set up some goals for this year when it comes to my business. There are so many things I know I need to do, but making Brinner-related resolutions should help me re-organize and prioritize the year for my shop!

So, here goes (not necessarily in order of priority)

1. Revamp the blog

I'm genuinely enjoying blogging. I always wondered how it would be like and when I finally got the guts to start, it's been so much fun. This year I want to continue writing, but also think about the look of the blog as well as the photos... Which brings me to the next resolution

2. Learn to take better photos

I spend so much time taking as good product photos as I possibly can. I actually feel very good about some of them and I know I've come a long way from where I started. However, the photos I take more spontaneously are less than stellar. Now, I don't expect every single one to be perfect, but get a better sense of what works.

3. Less thinking, more creating

This should be obvious, but I realize that I tend to over think things (ok, my friends are laughing now, shocker!). Since I started making Brinner more of a priority, I tend to play it safe. My resolution for this year is to keep on making things and try to learn how to not feel bad when things don't work out. It's trial and error.

4. Participate to more craft fairs

Puces POP was a blast! I will absolutely want to take part in more fairs.

5. Stress less

This is really something I need to learn not only with Brinner, but in life in general.

Are you making any New Year's resolutions?

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Inspiration

Since it seems like I have a one track mind, today's inspiration is (can you guess it? if not, check previous post) craft spaces! As my crafts business is starting to grow, I need a functional space that's inspiring at the same time.

Photo through Pinterest

This is clearly a trial and error type of a process, but looking at inspiring spaces from others never hurt...

Photo through Pinterest

For comparison, my own space from about two years ago, soon after moving into our current place. Oh, how optimistic I was being then! (a.k.a. "sure this closet will be large enough, I'm just happy to have my own space")

As I go along in this (never-ending?) project, I'll post some updates as I have them. Clicking on the photos you can see my Pinterest board for inspiring spaces and clever storage solutions.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Time for a clean up

It's something I've been pushing off for a while. I know it's just waiting for me to get started, but somehow there's always something more pressing to do (like, you know, reading... eating the last of the Christmas chocolates... that sort of pressing obligations). That's cleaning up the craft space. I know that I'll be very happy once it's done. I also know I will find all these things I totally forgot about. It's just a monumental task to start. Now would be a good time too, since I have a few days without anything particular on the agenda.

So, I finally did get a move on. I tidied my desk and craft closet, so it doesn't look too bad. The biggest job has only started though. I'm going through boxes of paper. I have a tendency to save all sorts of pieces of paper, but after a while they start to get out of hand. Since I use paper in practically all my crafts, it piles up. To make it slightly more manageable I started going through all the piles and boxes and cutting the paper into appropriate sizes. At least they'll be easier to store afterwards.

I feel extra organized since I made tiny labels with the actual sizes written on them! (what do you mean, "avoiding the actual work"?)

I feel nice to have made some serious progress today. Of course I try to avoid thinking that this is only a fraction what's waiting for me...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Things I learned from the craft fair

So, like I mentioned, I attended the Puces POP craft fair. Also, I mentioned already, it was my first craft fair. (Ok, I'll try to stop repeating myself) I wrote about it here.

Now it's time to recap the things I learned.

1) make sure you have plenty of time to prepare. Start early. I found out about being accepted to the fair about 5 weeks before (from which I was out of town a week). However, I didn't have too many things ready. (First fair, didn't actually believe I would get accepted) This should be an ongoing project, since I plan on taking part again.

2) think about the display. And then re-think. I did try the display at home. I had ideas, but more ideas never hurt (Flickr's a great source for more). I learned that I need some height to my table set up.

3) Clear list of prices. I had a few price lists, which worked out nicely. However, I should've added a separate price tag per product. Adding the individual price on the section of the display where the products were would've helped a lot.

4) description what I make. I was there the whole time, talking to people about what I make. However, a little introduction would've been great. Maybe another frame with some more info...

5) Sit down every now and then. I was so excited to be there that I wasn't really sitting down much. Not that it hurts the sales, but it did hurt my feet the day after.

These are the first things that come to mind when I'm thinking about what to do differently next time. I'm sure there will be more things later.

Next Puces POP is in June. Do you know of other ones here in Montreal before then?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Blogging Assistant

You have one?

Turns out the keyboard is the best place to lie down. Or at least make sure there's a paw on me any time I want to write something.

The absolute best though, is to walk over the keyboard when I'm writing an e-mail or a blog post. Best. Idea. Ever.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Which day do you celebrate?

Today, December 24th, is THE day to celebrate in Finland. I've also learned from some of my friends they also celebrate today. However, others say that the 25th is the right day...

It all works out for me, because I've taken the best of both worlds and get to do this twice. Score!

Whichever day it is you celebrate, I wish happy holidays to you and yours!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Inspiration

Christmas lights. How can you not love them? I always find that the lights is really what makes it feel like Christmas is close by.

 Lights on University in Montreal
Lights in Chicago

I don't have a lot of places to put them in the condo, but I do enjoy seeing what other people have done with their houses.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingerbread Awesomeness

So, this year the tradition continues. Although, there's a little twist this time. It's not a house, it's a

Yes! It's a gingerbread train. He looks a bit angry.

I have to say it was fun to make. Next year we'll try something new again... Or go back to a gingerbread house. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas decorations in Hawaii

Last year we went to Hawaii at the end of November. The Holiday season was just starting, so my guess is there will me a lot more decorations out as it gets closer to Christmas.

Coming from a much colder climate, I was loving the fact that there were Christmas lights on palm trees. Not that it was a shock to me, it was just really neat to see.

We happened to be there for a Holiday parade with marching bands and Santa. Unfortunately the photos of Santa were too blurry to post here. He was riding in a fire truck.

Although I'm used to associating Christmas with pine trees and (usually) a lot of snow, a different kind of a Christmas setting was great to see. And since Hawaii was wonderful, maybe I'll get to see it again one day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gingerbread Houses

It's been a tradition since I was a kid that we'd always have a gingerbread house. I've kept the tradition alive and still insist on assembling one every year.

This was the house in 2006. We tend to make it a competition and somehow it made sense to divide the house from the middle. Does that make it a semi-detached?

We were a bit more coordinated with the 2007 house. We also took part in a competition at my husband's office. We didn't win. Which is probably a good thing since in hindsight I think it was a competition for kids. (In our defence, we weren't the only non-kids attending)

House from 2010. Definitely not our best work, but at least we worked together that time...

This year it's time for something different. We're attempting to put together a gingerbread train. No idea how that'll work out, but I will definitely post some photos once we get assembling.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas decor in Prague

In the spirit of Christmas, I was looking through photos from our travels and checking out some of the holiday decorations. We went to Prague after New Year's in early 2010. We spent New Year's in Paris and headed for the Czech Republic afterwards. Obviously it was after Christmas, but the decorations were still up.

I loved Prague. The city is beautiful, so much history and incredible architecture. The food was amazing (I love food, I'm sure I've mentioned that several times already).

There was a holiday village in the centre of town, with cute little cabins. They sold all sorts of decorations, souvenirs  and tasty treats. My favourite, and something I ate as often I could was something called "Trdlo" or "Trdelnik". I have no idea how to pronounce it, but it was great.

It tastes similar to a cinnamon bun and it's basically a sweet dough wrapped around a stick (or in this case a cylinder). It's then cooked and covered in sugar. How could you not love it?

The city was beautiful, it would've been wonderful to see it just before Christmas. I think I'll write more about the city at another time.

Have you been to Prague? What did you think?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas

It's time to put up the Christmas tree. I'm usually ready a lot earlier than this, but this year I had the craft fair to prepare for. So, we'll put up the tree this weekend. I'm actually a bit concerned... We now have two cats who might just think the tree is a new toy...

So, the plan is to put the tree up, but leave it without decorations for a few days, just to give the double-trouble some time to get used to it.

This is our tree from two years ago

We've collected Christmas tree ornaments from our travels for quite a few years now. There's (among a lot of others) the yellow taxi cab from New York, the starfish from St. Marten, and the newest addition from Vegas, some glass dice. Most if the ones we've collected are glass. Yeah, smart idea. It made sense at the time.

Let's see how the cats react to the tree before putting the nice ones up. Perhaps we'll only use the non-breakable ornaments this year...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Inspiration

Today's inspiration is a blog written by a Finnish graphic designer Aino. I've been reading this blog for a long time and it's one of the first ones I always check when I have a moment to catch up on my favourites. It's in Finnish, but even if you don't understand the languages, the pictures speak for themselves.

Every time I check the blog I marvel her creativity. I love the drawings, paintings and photos. And if you can read it, you'll surely agree, she writes with a sense of humour about every day things, like what it is like being a freelance graphic designer, a mom and a crafter. This blog just makes me happy.

To visit the blog, click on the picture or HERE

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Puces POP - the recap

So, I participated in my first craft fair last weekend. And it was just amazing! I had a blast the whole weekend. I met some awesome people, including my craft fair neighbours Haley from 100% ferments and Mary from Crankyhayes. Not to mention all my awesome customers! Thank you everyone!

My display for greeting cards made from old book pages

I definitely learned a lot too. I realized there's so much more I could do with my display and packaging, and how to set up the table for optimal browsing ease. I think I was right on target with the amount of items I bought with me, but was surprised how the items that sell great online we're not the biggest seller at the fair.

Other side of the display with stationery sets and sticker sheets

All in all I was extremely happy with the outcome! I got a lot of feedback from my items and thoroughly enjoyed myself the whole time.

Did you go to the fair? How did you like it?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

So it begins...

A few more hours and it's time for the Puces Pop Holiday craft fair. This is my first one and the day is looking good. If you're in town, please drop by. If you're not in Montreal, keep yours fingers crossed for a great two days!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Map-tastic Holidays

I'm working hard to get everything ready for the craft fair I'm attending next weekend. One more week to go (so exciting)! It is the holiday fair so I'm making a lot of holiday appropriate items. Currently I'm chopping up old maps into stars

The stars will be used for my new holiday cards. They are pictured on my vendor introduction on the Puces Pop website, so I want to make sure I have plenty of those.

This is the final result. It's a lot of work, but I still love making all of these. How could you not!

Friday Inspiration

I've been thinking a lot about gift wrapping recently. I have friends and family all the way in Finland, so if I  want them to get their presents on time, they need to be in the mail latest now. I spent a day wrapping some presents and am happy to say that the ones going to Europe are now done.

Photo from Pinterest

 I've always liked wrapping presents, so it's not even a chore for me. I do, however, try to come up with innovative ways to pack some of the gifts. And, as I'm always interested in upcycling, so I was looking for some inspiration online for re-using different types of paper.

Photo from Pinterest

Additionally, I also love experimenting with non-traditional Christmas colours (Are there any?) and different types of decorating. The pictures on this post are great examples of clever ways to pack gifts this year.

Photo from Pinterest

How do you wrap your presents (Christmas or any other occasion)?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday inspiration

I've mentioned before and will say it again, snazzing up everyday things is awesome. (just like 'snazzing' is a word) If you look at something every day or use an item all the time, no matter how ordinary it is, you could do something about it.

Photo from Pinterest

A thermostat? Framed? Very unexpected. Wouldn't this put a smile on your face, even on a day when it's so cold you need to turn up the heat?

This just opens a whole new thought process for me. Prettifying everyday items. This would be a simple DIY too. Go to the thrift store, yard sale or flea market, buy a few old frames (spray paint them, this is optional) and frame something unexpected at home.

So clever! What would you frame?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hello from Chicago!

The trip’s been fantastic so far. We’ve been walking so much; it feels like I’ve shrunk an inch. Vegas was fun like it always is, we ate well, played a few slot machines and for the first time, also went to see a show. We chose the show “Love” which is based on the music of Beatles. The show was just incredible. I’ve seen a Cirque du Soleil show once, back home in Montreal, but this was something else.

We flew to Chicago on Tuesday and since then have been exploring the city on foot. Today we went to the zoo which was a really pleasant surprise. It was huge! So many great things to see, I'd imagine that would be wonderful as a kid. Ok, who am I kidding? It was wonderful as a… slightly older person!
We’re taking a little break right now after a full day of walking around. Enjoying a cocktail (a bloody Mary) at the lobby of our hotel and trying to find a place for dinner. Today was supposed to be a day to try out a deep dish pizza at one of the famous pizza places around town. However, we didn’t realize that most places seem to be closed for Thanksgiving. I guess people need to rest for some serious shopping tomorrow.
Oh, which reminds me, I saw people lined up in front of an electronics store at noon today! Noon! Stores open at 5AM tomorrow morning. That’s dedication I guess…
I’m both looking forward to and am a tad scared about black Friday. We’ll see how crazy it’ll be. It’ll be nice to experience at least once. (Already have a crafts store on the list to go see tomorrow)
Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it today!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's up Montreal - Puces Pop Up Shop

In preparation to the upcoming crafts fair (yeah, you'll hear a lot about it in the upcoming weeks) the team from Puces Pop is opening a PopUp shop on St. Laurent Street. The shop will be open from Nov 30th to Dec 4th and features an sampling of the goodies on sale at the fair itself.

The address is 4153 St. Laurent and the shop will be open those days from 11Am to 8PM. Click on the poster for more details.

Go check it out if you get a chance. I will definitely go visit!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Vegas, baby!

That's right. I'm off to Vegas tomorrow morning. I am so excited, the vacation time is definitely needed. We're travelling light, so only carry-on's. Which is probably a good thing since the second stop on the trip is in Chicago and we'll be there on black Friday... Can't do too much shopping.

Photo from Pinterest

This trip is about relaxing, some alone time and eating. Planning a trip around restaurants to visit, is truly the way to travel.

I'll be back on November 28th. I've scheduled a few posts for the duration of the vacation and will see if I get a chance to post something new, live, from the trip.

Have a great weekend!

Friday Inspiration

Today's inspiration is actually a blog post from English Muffin. I have been thinking about craft fairs (shocking, I know) a lot recently. And when I say 'a lot', I mean all the time. I've of course searched online for any helpful tips I could hopefully use. I've found some very good posts and gratefully read all (some several times).

The post from English Muffin really resonated with me, partially because she did the Puces Pop fair and it was her first one. So, being on the same boat as she was, I found this very helpful. Also because she did talk about the concerns she had about taking part as well.

Makes me feels a smidgen less nervous.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Exciting news!

I'm sorry! I totally wasn't planning on taking a blogging break. Things came up, as they inevitably do. Not a good excuse, I know... But what came up was really awesome!

I've been running my Etsy shop for almost two years now (time flies when you're crafting). I've loved every minute of it and have been thinking about ways to be able to do more with my crafting. I've also made this secret decision that one day I will take part in a craft fair. (see where this is going?)

I wasn't originally thinking about taking part yet. It's a little scary. I kept thinking "next year, for sure". And then I noticed a vendor call... And thought, you know, maybe I'll just send an application... One thing lead to another and... well... Here it is:

Yes! I am taking part in the Holiday Puces Pop! The awesomest craft fair in Montreal! (I'm still not quite believing it. I still squeel with happiness when I think about it)

Right now I'm 90% excited and 10% terrified. Let's see how I feel just before the fair...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Inspiration

I've said it before and will say it again: November and December are the best crafting times. This is the time when even the less craftily inclided people dig up the dusty glue sticks and papers and start making things (OK, I don't know that for a fact. Just the idea that someone would have dusty glue sticks is incomprehensible to me.)

I always start early, but I do have a bit of an excuse (off topic: why is it that if you start planning for the holidays early, you need to have an excuse? Actually, it's probably just me). I have to prepare for the holiday season on Etsy and I have family and friends far away. If I want (and I do) them to get their presents for Christmas, now's the time to wrap things up and send them on their way. Honestly though, I would do this stuff anyway, regardless of the store or the mailing times.

I am thinking a bit about decorations and especially ornaments. I've seen amazing ornaments made using empty glass spheres. I haven't really tried myself. Yet.

Photo from Country Living

How awesome would these be filled with little trickets? Just imagine filling them with souvenirs from a recent trip!


...Ooh! Looks like I really got inspired this Friday. I need to go look for these ornaments after work!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What's up Montreal - Vintage Mart Sale

Inadvertent blog break for a few days, sorry about that!

Anyhow, another cool Montreal event! The Vintage Mart Sale on November 4th and 5th. Check out this quote from their site:

"Located at 5445 De Gaspe (suite 600), this is where we spend our days either sewing, designing or cleaning, mending and organizing vintage (depending on who you talk to) Sarah (Cheap Opulance) and Emily (Caesar Pony) sell vintage full time from our studio, while Yana (Supayana) and Angie (Norwegian Wood) are working on their own clothing lines.

Come down and check out our lovely studio where all the magic happens!"

Sounds really exciting!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The grinning pumpkin

A sneak preview of one of the pumpkins! He's hanging out in the fridge right now and will take center stage later tonight. I'm making some last minute decorations and (if they work out) I'll post my very first tutorial tomorrow.

I think I'll call him Bob. (the pumpkin, not the tutorial)

Friday, October 28, 2011


Tonight, after running some errands, it's finally time to carve the pumpkins we got last weekend. They've been outside, it's been chilly enough for them to keep, and I can happily report that no critters (there are cats and squirrels in the court yard) have gotten to them.

Found through Pinterest

I bought the small ones to try out the mini pumpkins with vampire teeth and the big one is for regular carving. (and roasted pumpkin seeds too). I love this next one...

Found through Pinterest

I don't know what I'll do yet, previous years I did try a cat and Jack Skellington from 'Nightmare before Christmas'. I was thinking of something more traditional, but we'll see. Pinterest has been very helpful in getting some ideas.

I really like these houses. This might be worth the try. I'll post a picture once they are done.

Are you carving one this year? What are you going to make?

Friday Inspiration

As I've already mentioned, I have weakness for maps. I make them into stationery sets, cards, stickers and anything else I can think of. I have a huge collection by now, but still can't pass them by if I find them at second hand bookstores or thrift stores. I've been thinking for a while I would love to frame a world map and hang it up in my home. I already found a really great vintage one, now I need to just find a large enough frame.

I did come by this idea just recently. I love the idea how it's cut to pieces and they make a full map when hung together. Such a great idea.

Found through bernerzeitung blog, originally from My cup of tea

I don't think I'm ready chop up the huge vintage one I found, but maybe I could use this idea for another found map.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If the shoes fits

I've been talking a lot about crafting and thrift stores and Etsy, but that's not all I'm about. (wow, sounds pretty... umm... revealing?) I do have another great passion (ok, there's more than one, but I'll get to those later). Something I get just as excited as I get about crafts and that I'll never get bored talking about.

Ooh, shoes are awesome! (see, I get excited already)

I love my "Loca's" by Brian Atwood.

I have a (not so) secret wishlist of shoes that I'd like to own. Not that I really expect to one day own them all, but a girl can hope, right? I love heels! I really absolutely do. And I reach 6 feet easily in my favourite pairs. (I'm somewhere around 5'8 in flats)

Also, to balance that out, I really dig sneakers. Go figure.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sunday crafting

Sundays are great crafting days. I always try to keep my Sundays free just for this purpose. A few weeks ago I took on the postcard project.

I've been accumulating a pretty decent collection of LP records on my thrifting expeditions. Whenever I get a chance, I go through all the boxes of used records. It's actually pretty time consuming, so I only do this when I have time (a.k.a when I'm alone). I also feel kind of guilty when I do that, rummaging through the boxes with a bunch of (what I assume are) old school record enthusiasts... I go through the stacks and look for the awesome covers, not the music itself.

(I cound't resist getting Travolta when I found the record. I think people were looking at my selection with a few raised eyebrows...)

For my defense, I always try to pick records with scratches and some that I noticed the store had several copies of.

Once I have a decent pile of records, I sit down and start cutting them up (the covers, not the records) to be made into postcards. There's just something I really like about the graphics and the feel of those covers. I always think about where they might have been. Maybe played at some awesome parties or something like that. Even the text parts are amazing. I select the best parts of each cover and cut them in the same size.

And then the stamping begins. I hand stamp everything on the other side of the card.  Time flies when you're having fun. I think I spent about 5 hours on these and I still have some that I didn't finish stamping yet.

I usually tend to take over the kitchen table for this project (the cards need space for drying). That has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I get direct view to the TV at the same time. Nothing, I tell you!