Monday, December 31, 2012

Thank you 2012!

New Year's outfit As I'm getting ready for a New Year's Eve party at my place, I wanted to come by and say:

Thank you all so my for reading my blog, leaving comments and supporting handmade through Brinner! It all means the world to me and I couldn't be happier!

I want you all to know that every single comment you leave brings a smile to my face and every single purchase through the shop always leads to a 'squeee' or a little happy dance, usually both.

I hope you all had a wonderful 2012 and I wish for all your dreams to come true for 2013!

New Year's outfit

To mix it up for partytime, I am sharing with you a peek into  my New Year's Eve party outfit. I'm practically a fashion blogger now, right?


A year of mail

I made a year in review post yesterday about all the things I wrote about here on the blog. I did leave one particular topic out, as I figured snail mail deserves a year-end post of it's own.

If you've been reading my blog for longer, you might remember me mentioning how I've always sent some mail, but those were mainly postcards from my travels and cards for special occasions like birthdays or holidays. I did write some letters when I was a kid, but that dwindled off for many years. I slowly started paying more attention to pretty mail and soon couldn't ignore the desire to try it out myself. Admittedly 2012 was the first time in a long while that I actually had some extra time on my hands and was able to start dabbling in the world of snail mail.

IMG_0748 I believe the creative approach for me really started with the transparent mail. I tried out a few different things and made a tutorial on how to make see-through envelopes. I used the same idea for my Halloween mail as well

I joined the Letter Writers Alliance this year. I think it's such a wonderful idea and I'm proud to be a member. My mail pictures have been featured a few times in the LWA blog, most recently a few days ago on Dec 27th. You can see my work in the following LWA posts:

Show and Mail
Flickr Favorites: Winter, Part 1
Flickr Favorites: October

I felt like it would be a nice way to ring in the new year by looking back at some of my favorite mail of this year.


Mail Love - Outgoing
Lovely letters task 1 - outgoing
This piece of mail was featured in a Finnish magazine and I just loved how it turned out.

Mail Love - Outgoing
There was a week when everything was covered in polka-dots, large and small.

Outgoing mail I made envelopes out of vintage wallpaper...

Mail love - outgoing
...old book pages...

Sheer envelope for Halloween
...and transparent graph paper

I've sent them near and far, to people I've never met and to those I've known for years. I know I've at least made a few people happy.


Mail Love - Incoming
I received so much awesome mail this year! I've received letters...

...and Icelandic Candy...

mail Love, incoming

Mail Love - Incoming
...and awesome surprises, like Batman and tea and an advent calender.

It's been an awesome year of mail. And to think I only started half way through...

I've decided to make a few new years resolutions suggestions regarding mail. I will certainly keep this up. I will keep writing Mail Monday posts. I will send even more mail in 2013. And I promise to send at least a few pieces of mail to people who are not expecting it.

Did you have a good mail year? Do you plan on making mail-related resolutions?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Year in Review - part 2 of 2012

You can see the first half of 2012 in the post below. Here's the recap of the second half:


fireworks in montreal
In July we had visitors staying with us and we were wandering around town all times of the day. We went to see fireworks and spent a lot of time at Jean Talon Market. Brinner made an appearance at the McGill university and I made some great finds at the thrift stores again.

July was a month of bridal showers, I attended one and helped organizing another. I made shower favors for the second one. I suffered an identity crisis and saw the Muppets live.


Wedding henna
In August I spent a lot more time with wedding related activities. I was asked to photograph a Nikkah ceremony, I showed some details from the shower I helped organize, a few of us girls took the bride to be to a relaxing spa getaway in lieu of a bachelorette party and I went dress shopping, but came home with the most beautiful shoes in the world.

Chris and I spend a weekend in Quebec City, walking around and eating well. I fell in love with books (again!), learned how to make granola bars and went bonkers ordering Korean stickers from eBay.


Star Wars Identities
September felt long and scattered. There were exciting things like being featured in 365 magazine and finally finding that one elusive item I've been looking for a long time. It was also the month were George got sick and I lost my creative groove. I tried different approaches to creating, starting from painting the bedroom and trying my hand at collages. I baked cookies, killed zombies, watched an amazing documentary and talked about books. A lot.

When September was coming to a close I geeked out with friends and finally started getting creative again.


Happy Halloween
October was a month of big days. It started right off the bat with my nephew Ryan being born on October 1st. Then the second of the weddings for this year got under way on Thanksgiving weekend, this is the one where both Chris and I were in the wedding party. And the party just continued on October 10th where Hipstercurious turned 1. I also discovered some ancient Egyptian artifacts and started employing complex vernacular to substantiate my intelligence.

As all the celebrations were done, I started preparing for Halloween. We carved a pumpkin that became Evil-Bob, I discussed costumes and made a bat card tutorial.


Montreal at night
 [I think this is my favourite photo of the year]

I started November with a better plan for the blog, followed by an unsuccesful hunt for discounted Halloween candy. I was over the moon to be featured in the Discover Paper Holiday guide and that fueled my creative endeavors. I started making a ton of one of a kind ornaments for the December fairs. I found some beautiful vintage ornaments and made a DIY advent calendar tutorial that I know at least one person found inspiring.

I enjoyed the dark nights, said goodbye to fall and welcomed winter.

Chris and I set a new high score and celebrated the second anniversary of getting hitched in Vegas.


Christmas tree 2012, by Katri

December was awesome in more ways than one. Obviously because of Christmas, but also because of two crafts fairs, Old Skool Crafts and Puces Pop. Besides that, my work was featured in two major places; Urban Expressions and my first print magazine feature, Koto Living.

We got a bit of snow first and then a whole lot more, which really allowed me to stay in and make some awesome DIY projects, such as a vintage ornament wreath, a winter scene complete with a plastic deer and of course some marshmallow chocolate pops, all with tutorials of course.  I shared some details about my tree and a peek at my home.

2012 was an awesome year. On a more personal note, it was unexpected in many ways, but definitely fulfilling in others. Thanks to my blog, I learned new skills and made some new friends in Laura, Jess and Mary. I had a successful year with Brinner and developed in leaps and bounds when it come to running my own business.

I'm still not quite done with finishing off this year and I have tons and tons of ideas and plan for the next. Stay tuned!

What were the highlights of your 2012?

The Year in Review - part 1 of 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, it's the perfect time to look back and see all the wonderful things that happened this year.

I wanted to make a top 10 list, but I then started reading through the blog... Top 10 is not going to work. There's just too many awesome things that happened this year. Looking back makes me so happy I started writing Hipstercurious! All those little things I forgot about. So, instead of a list, I decided to pick a few highlights from each month. I also decided to break this into two parts, so here's part one, January to June:


Cabin Jan 2012
We rented a cabin and spent a long weekend doing all sorts of winter activities like snowshoeing, skiing and skating, not to forget soaking in the hot tub. After this weekend I decided that skating was the least offensive of the wintery activities and Chris and I started thinking about buying skates so we could do this again. It worked as I now have brand new skates! more on that later.

In January I also thought about perfectionism, I introduced the small notebooks as the newest product for Brinner and made some awesome vintage finds.


Blog - my pics2
In February I was finding my creative groove that had gone missing for a bit. I made one of my favourite tutorials, the DIY stamps from erasers. It was so much fun and I've used the same method so many times since then. In my creative mode I also talked about what to do with old magazines and tried my hand in the kitchen too, where I ended making a true crowd pleaser, the Cilantro pesto.

I also spent a weekend in the suburbs of Toronto for a long overdue girls weekend. The secret we found out about that weekend, was born this fall! I celebrated my 2 year Etsy Anniversary and thought my cats were being real brats.


original layout
In March I thought a lot about my blog that I had been writing for 6 months or so. I realized it didn't look the right way and changed the look much closer to the current one. I turned 32 and continued my escapades in the kitchen. This was a successful month in that department as I came up with two successful recipes that are still in use, the tortilla soup and DIY "sun" dried tomatoes.

I also made mini notice boards and wrote a tutorial, expressed my true feelings about healthy living and finally observed the encounter of the great hunter George and his nemesis.


Testing Photos14
April was all about shoes. I bought a few (Marni) new pairs (glitter) and started my dream shoe closet project. I made some fantastic thrifty finds and talked about Batman. A lot (and even found a way to combine Batman and shoes).

In April I also finally bought a new lens for my camera and started learning how to use it. Friday the 13th happened in April and I was not superstitious.


Rue Laval Plateau Montreal Hipstercurious
May was a busy month for me. I started preparing for the first craft fair of the year, it took a lot of planning, crafting and I wasn't immune to craft-related injuries either. But, I was fueled well! Even though I was busy, I took the time to walk around my neighborhood and snap photos.

In May I also took the time to bake brownies, answer 10 random questions and finish the shoe closet. I found one of my all time favorite thrift store finds, a vintage globe. I also spent a weekend in Ottawa, where I ate well and started the journey toward my friends wedding by making prototypes of her invites.


IMG_0702 June was very hot and humid. It was also the month of the Puces Pop craft show. I made a whole lot of products and tried to improve from the previous show. I even practiced my table setup at home. I really got into snail mail, even though I had been sending more mail earlier in the year as well. It was the transparent mail that really sparked the creativity with snail mail.

I really put a lot of thought and effort into my mini balcony and ended up extending my living room to the gorgeous outside. I was thinking about cultural differences and schedules, started working on my friends wedding invites and found a treasure in the thrift store that still results into purchase requests from strangers.

Part two of 2012 recap will follow soon!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Welcome to my place!

I realized that I've never really shown much of my home here in my blog. I felt like now would be a good time, with the decorations still up. Plus, I obviously cleaned for the holidays. There have been some glimpses so far, but nothing much. I'm not planning on making an full on tour either, but a few details with the holiday decor.

My entryway

The entryway got a ton of ornaments. I ended up hanging the wreath I made on the wall, instead of the door just because of the delicate glass ornaments. the entry to our condo is on the left and there's a fairly large closet on the right. That's where my shoes live. I'm standing in the living room taking the photo.

my livingroom
If I turn around on the exact spot where the previous photo is taken, you'll see my living room. This particular photo is taken later in the evening as the light comes in directly from the french doors during the day. Those doors behind the tree open to the tiny French balcony I've mentioned before. The one I have my herbs and tomatoes on in the summer. On the left of this photo is the dining area and kitchen. The upstairs of the condo is open, except for a powder room and the office.

Christmas chandelier I added some ornaments to the chandelier over the dining table. Another place to hang the extra delicate ornaments from. Taking this photo I'm standing in my kitchen and facing the living room.

my second tree

There aren't really any decorations in the office, but I do have another tree downstairs in the bedroom. The downstairs has the master bathroom and bedroom, some closet space and the laundry area. This is definitely more of a Scandinavian tree. More minimalistic with some definitely Scandinavian ornaments. When it comes to Christmas trees, I'm definitely the "more is more" type rather than the minimalistic Scandinavian.

my bedroom I took a few steps back from the tree to show you a bit more of the bedroom. The mirrored doors lead to the walk-in closet and the open door to a hallway with the washing machine, dryer and extra storage and ends next to the bathroom and the stairs leading back upstairs.

This is the room I painted while Chris was in Vegas earlier this year. It used to be a dark eggplant colour.

Gossamer  the cat on the bedroom window

The bedroom is at street level, so the cats love sitting on the window sill. This is Gossamer trying to blend in with his surroundings. It's a bit hard to explain the setup, since you actually come into the condo from the top floor and still have a few rooms at the bottom which is not a basement. Well, it might not make sense as an explanation, but it works in reality. I would have to say that's the important part.

I might show some more details and photos from the rest of the rooms later. I love coming up with fun little additions to our place, so there will definitely be neat things to share. More about that next year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Inspiration - Winter

I guess it's time to wrap up Christmas and realize winter has only just begun.

This used to be the tough time of the year, just when the holidays are finished and it's time to face the harsh cold and darkness.

As I've mentioned several times, I refuse to let this bring me down. I saw the complete uselessness of letting something as insignificant as the weather to bum me out. There's nothing you can do about it, so why should you let it effect you?

Even though I know we still have an entire weekend and New Year's to celebrate, I'm starting the positive thinking right now!

Source: via Lisa on Pinterest

Montreal got 45cm of snow in less than 24 hours just yesterday, so there's plenty to go around. Might as well enjoy it, right?

Do you have tricks to fight the mid-winter blues? Or, do you just love it?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Snow much?

Right now there's an epic blizzard outside. It's pretty crazy. I've seen this before in Montreal, but a little part of me is still surprised. And I'm Finnish, so snow shouldn't surprise me much.

Dec 27 Montreal
I just took this photo outside.

The extra fun part about this is that the weather forecast says snow until Saturday. I wonder if we'll beat the record (well, record from what I've experienced)... Some years ago there was a crazy blizzard on my birthday. There was so much snow we walked in the middle of the street because we couldn't fit on the sidewalks. It was pretty crazy.

Chris and I are contemplating braving the storm. I'll report back once we get home again.

I'm really tempted to bring the camera with me so I can share this crazy snow, but I'm not sure it's a good idea... We'll see.

On a more positive note, if we brave this weather, we might as well go see a movie or something. I assume downtown will be quiet.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The tree

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!

Christmas tree 2012, by Katri

I hope you all have a wonderful, fantastical, phenomenal and awesome-tastic holiday time!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Mail Love

To me, Christmas starts today. In Finland, and from what I understand, a lot of other places in Europe, December 24th is the day to celebrate. We still call it Christmas eve, but it is the day of the main event, a.k.a. Santa. As a kid, it is the biggest event, pretty much of the year, as Santa actually comes by. After dinner (How does he know every year when dinner is done?) he shows up for a little bit before heading off to see other kids.

To everyone celebrating today:

Iloista Joulua! Merry Christmas!

Chris and I celebrate both days. Today in the evening we have our own Christmas celebration. We eat well and watch silly Christmas specials. (Not the traditional ones, like Muppets or Charlie Brown and definitely not "It's a wonderful life". Nope, we'll watch all South Park Christmas episodes.)

Last week I asked for opinions about continuing the mail related posts on Mondays and since it seems to be liked, I will continue it for now. And I am bringing mail Mondays back with a bang! It's holiday mail time, so I can guarantee that this has been the busiest week since I started tracking my mail.


Mail Love - Outgoing
Here's the pile of mail I took out at one go. I counted I sent around 40 pieces of mail the week I sent out my holiday cards. Below are a few samples of the envelopes I sent out.

Mail Love - Outgoing
I used different green washi tapes to add different patterns to the envelopes. I then tried to add different types of embellishments on top. Here you can see round cutouts from books or a more shapely one from patterned paper.

Mail Love - Outgoing
A lot of my envelopes were white, but I did add some colorful ones in the mix as well. Not that it really matters since the only time they are all in a pile is when I took the photos.

Mail Love - Outgoing
There are some cards that went out to families with young kids. I tried to add a little extra on those ones with a Disney Santa and whatnot. Of course, if you look at the previous photo, there are some Sanrio Deers that certainly are not going to any kids. Overly-cute, big-eyed deer are not just for kids, right?


I also got quite a few things in the mail... There were quite a few cards with pictures of the family sending it, so I'm obviously not showing you those ones. I didn't ask for permission, nor do I think people were expecting to see their family Christmas cards on the interwebs. So, I'm only showing you some of the envelopes for now.

Mail Love - Incoming
One day I got four cards in the mail, which was awesome! There were a few awesome handmade envelopes. You can probably see which ones...

Mail Love - Incoming I have apparently also been very nice this year, as I got a few packages in the mail too! This is one of them, the other two are in Amazon packages, I figure you've all seen those at one point or another.

So, did you get any fun holiday mail? Did you send any out?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chocolate Marshmallow pops - Easy candy-making

Since I've had candy on the brain since Friday, I gave in yesterday and decided to make some. Well, "make" is maybe an overstatement. I more like combined a few things and thought they came up pretty impressive. I decided to make marshmallow-chocolate pops.

DIY candy
These are really easy and fast to make. The only part that takes a while is the cooling down phase afterwards. So, I recommend making them a few hours before you're serving them. I made mine in the afternoon and then went to dinner. They were perfect by the time I got back home.

Here's what you need:
1 bag of large marshmallows
Chocolate, I used three different kind; 200g milk, 200g 70% cocoa dark, and 100g 70% cocoa dark with orange peel. The amounts are not too specific, but I found the chocolate in 100g bars, so I used 5 bars for the entire batch.
a few peppermint candies, these go a long way crushed. I think I used 4 or 5.
and wooden skewers

For equipment you'll need a small cooking pot and a small bowl that fits on top of the cooking pot as well as some glasses or mugs to stand the pops up in. Make sure your bowl can stand the heat (or tell it to leave the kitchen. heheheee. I think I'm hilarious).

Melt your chocolate in the bowl, placed over the pot filled with water. Once the water starts to boil, it'll slowly heat the bowl and melt the chocolate. While that is melting, prepare your marshmallows by putting them on the sticks. I used regular wooden skewers that I cut in half (and by "I" I mean Chris). If they splinter easily, make sure you only insert the non-cut end into the marshmallow. Prepare your topping by crushing peppermint candy (I used the traditional round ones, but if you have some candy canes, that works great too) into small pieces.

You could use a whole lot of different toppings. Maybe some more chocolate, finely grated. Different candies, like M&Ms or other colorful candy drops. I'm sure different kinds of nuts would work really well. The point is to just add another texture and some color on to the pops.

DIY candy Once the chocolate has melted, dip the marshmallow into the chocolate, twirl it around and gently knock the skewer onto the side of the bowl to get rid of the excess chocolate (if you don't, there's going to be a whole lot more cleaning to do afterwards. Add your topping while the chocolate is still warm and place the pop into a drinking glass or a mug. I placed 6 of the pops into one glass, that way there's enough room for them to cool down without touching the others. (They stick to each other if the chocolate is still soft) Once you're done, I'd recommend placing them in the fridge. The chocolate shell hardens better in the cold.

And you're done!

You can eat them as they are or use them as hot chocolate stirrers.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Oh Deer!

Another awesome little project I've been wanting to try out... A winter scene in a glass jar!

Winter installation
It's made of four components: the glass jar, bottle brush trees, a plastic deer and table salt. (The dollar store was out of white decorative sand, so I had to get creative)

I love it!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Inspiration - Holiday Candy

I woke up this morning thinking about candy. This is not as rare of an occurrence as I would like to say it is, but today was special. I wanted to make candy.

A number of years ago I made candy myself as part of my Christmas presents that year. I made a selection of chocolates. It's been a while since I've done that for Christmas, but I did make some for Chris earlier this year.

I just find the holidays the prime time for candy. Well, I suppose most people do. I've been thinking about making something fun myself, but I don't have any fancy equipment like a candy thermometer or candy molds or other stuff like that. I leave the more delicate operations to people who know what they are doing in the kitchen. (Like my sister-in-law, she made this delicious fudge last time I was over there. Holy cow, man. It was amazing)

Source: via Hen House on Pinterest

Anyhow, point being, I'm really tempted to make something fun but fairly straightforward. I have a busy day ahead, so not sure how much time I'll have, but let's keep our fingers crossed...

Do you make candy yourself? What's your go-to recipe?