Small Pleasures – Mending

Recently, I have taken pleasure in hand sewing. In an effort to save money and a pair of my favourite jeans I decided to tackle the task of mending them myself. Armed with the knowledge of what to do through watching a few Youtube videos, I tackled the job.


For the patches I used scrap material I had saved from another pair of jeans that had seen better days. Using an assortment of different blue threads I hand stitched the patches to the jeans. I could have done a way better job with a sewing machine but I don’t have one. I am pleased with the end result, although I know I need to add more stitches to make this repair last.


There is something meditative about slowing down to mend something. Now, let’s hope this lasts a while.

Living Below Ground – Francis Benjamin Johnston

Francis Benjamin Johnston, [Janitor apartment. 137 East 30th Street, New York, New York. Stairwell garden], circa 1922. Glass lantern slide.

Francis Benjamin Johnston, [Janitor apartment. 137 East 30th Street, New York, New York. Stairwell garden], circa 1922. Glass lantern slide.

I love this image of the entrance to a basement apartment in New York from the 1920s, there’s just so much character and all the plants. Some serious entrance goals.


As I discussed in this post on my living area, I have a chest of drawers that I use for storage. When I first moved in, I just threw everything into the drawers and they were pretty messy and completely unorganized. I took the time last week to go through each drawer and organize the mess. The drawers are new-to-me and have become an integral part of keeping my wee basement apartment orderly.


The top drawer is what I call my “junk drawer” filled with maps and other assorted stuff (my drill, paint, twine, etc.). I purchased small baskets to organize the chaos. Now I have a place to corral the junk of my life.

P1060576 P1060594

The next drawer is kind of a continuation of the first. Here I have my composting bags for the green bin, post-it-notes, a random bag of flax seeds, bookends, a platter, and placemats.

P1060575 P1060600

The third drawer down gets plenty of use. Here I store my mason jar lids, storage containers, and things like my can opener, peeler, and other kitchen goods that usually go in drawers.

Things got shifted around from the third and fourth drawers so I didn’t have a clear before snap.


The fourth and fifth drawers are behind the cat scratching post I have (see first image at the top), so I tried to store the things I use the least in these two bottom drawers, since I have to move the post each time to get at this stuff (not a lot of work to do, but I could imagine it getting old pretty fast).

P1060578 P1060601

The fifth drawer didn’t change at all from when I first moved in, it has my baking pans which also happens to be the heaviest of the drawers, so it made sense keeping that the bottom drawer as it was.


Out & About – Camera


This past weekend I went and saw The Cool School at Camera, which is part of the Stephen Bulger Gallery located at 1026 Queen Street West, Toronto. Produced by Morgan Neville and Kristine McKenna and distributed by Arthouse Films, the documentary looks at the importance of the Ferus Gallery and the nascent modern art scene in Los Angeles in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  I highly recommend watching this film if you are interested in American Expressionism because The Cool School provides an alternative scene of the movement showing what was happening in L.A. during the same period of time and how that scene evolved into distinct movements that were entirely avant garde, by artists such as Ed Kienholz, Wallace Berman, Craig Kauffman, Robert Irwin, and Ed Ruscha. Centred around Walter Hopps and the Ferus Gallery the film delves into various aspects of the art scene in L.A. and how influential it was to become.

This summer Camera is screening various art documentaries for free at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. There are two more movies in this series:

August 13th, Standard Operating Procedure

August 20th, Exit Through the Gift Shop

August 27th, Smash His Camera

Slowing Down – Listening to the Radio

My Mom was a huge fan of CBC radio. Growing up, we lived in northern British Columbia and the CBC connected us with other Canadians and the world. While I didn’t really actively listen to the various programs, my Mom always had it on and so it was a part of growing up. But I do remember loving Mr. Canoehead, a character that was a regular and popular feature of one of the weekly radio programs. With an aluminum canoe fused to his head through a freak accident with lightening, Mr. Canoehead is the quintessential Canadian superhero (slightly aloof, self-deprecating, and polite). The character was so popular that he was made into a television character on the CBC show 4 on the Floor, where his tag line was “Mr. Canoehead, Canada’s Greatest Alumnus Crime Fighter.” But I am off topic . . .


As a pre-teen, I would stay up late on Sunday’s to listen to the 1930s radio show The Shadow. This radio drama, which began in the 1930s, was rebroadcast by CBC in the 1980s. Listening to this mystery-drama seemed grown-up since none of my other friends listen to it. I enjoyed the suspense and having to imagine what the characters looked like.

There is something slow about listening to the radio. You have to pay attention and engage with the words that flow out of the speakers. I don’t have a television, so I tend to get my news through social media or the radio. I prefer listening to the news since I don’t get distracted by the visuals and the plethora of commercials.


For my birthday I was given a gift certificate for Amazon. I have been sitting on that gift for a few months now. Since moving, I have begun to listen more often to the radio. At first I was using either my phone or computer to stream CBC radio 1 live. This works but I have been wanting to get a proper radio for sometime. So last month I splurged and treated myself to a Sangean radio. Simple in its design, this radio is just what I wanted with its retro look and wood finish. I didn’t want bells and whistles or any digital features. Listening to the radio just got that more pleasurable.

Simple Things – Storing Bread


I bake my own bread, as I mentioned here. While nothing beats a fresh loaf, I find that it takes me too long to get through it all. What’s a gal to do? To combat possible wastage, I tend to split the dough and bake two smaller loaves. With the second loaf I pre-slice it before throwing it into the freezer. I let the loaf cool before slicing it and I allow the sliced pieces to cool (and dry a bit) before re-assembling the loaf back together. This works well for me. Because I dried the pieces a bit I am able to easily break away one or two pieces for toast as needed. A simple way of making my bread last longer.


Here is my bedroom, the final room to reveal. This, like all the rooms in my teeny tiny apartment (240 sq. feet), is a work in progress but I thought you might be interested in what it looks like so far. I move throughout the space in a counterclockwise route, if you were wondering how the space works.


This is the first bed I ever bought myself. It isn’t great but it does the job. Moving from a two-bedroom apartment to this one was a bit challenging but this bed ended up being the problem solver. How, you ask. Well, I have Tupperware storage totes that I purchased because I thought (at the time) it was better to invest in these as moving boxes. Thing is, they have become storage receptacles and I needed to find a place to store them as I didn’t have access to a basement space to store them since I was living in the basement.

P1060637            P1060644

As I began organizing my bedroom, (the last room I tackled) it quickly became apparent that I wouldn’t have room to stash these away in one of my two small closets since those were already jam-packed. Before I moved I thought about the possibility of having to store these blue eyesores under my bed, When it came down to the reality of the situation under the bed was the only place these totes would fit. I know this isn’t ideal (so far none of the bins have collapsed, knock on wood). First of all, having my storage totes under the bed makes for getting at the items in the totes a bit awkward. Fortunately, I have each tote labeled (above left). Second, I have to use a stool to gingerly climb into bed (above right). But overall, this was the best way to deal with the situation, especially since I really don’t have a budget to build anything or store them offsite.


To the left of my bed I have a small night table and you can see what appears to be two closets. Unfortunately, the one that She-beast is staring at, with the double doors, is where the water tank and furnace are located. I do have a bit of storage in there but not too much. The closet to the left is full to the brim with banker’s boxes and clothes and other bits and bobs. My two closets will be dealt with in a future post (or two). You can also see where the stool I use to get into bed is stored during the day. Behind that stool is a small storage space where I have put all of the boxes and newspaper I used to move in. I am hoping that the material will be useable when I eventually move out.


Above that storage space is a cubby hole. Since the bedroom has no window I think this cubby hole is meant to let in light and be in lieu of an actual window. But, in such a small space I have made use of it for two types of storage. On the bedroom side I put a small bookcase in the middle and have taller books on the sides. On the living area side, I have a poster covering the hole which hides larger kitchen items (see this post).


In my last apartment, which I would have described as minimalist, I had my artwork spread throughout the space. Here I have all of my black and white photographs hung together for a more maximalist approach.


On the other side of the entrance to the bedroom (there is no actual door) I have my dresser with some more art and family photographs.


My desk didn’t fit in the apartment, so I turned it on its side and use it to add texture and to hold two more pieces of art.

This is by no means my “dream” bedroom, but it serves the purpose for now and it is surprisingly comfy. I was worried about the noise from the furnace, especially since the air conditioning unit seems to be running all the time, but it hasn’t been all that bad. Do I miss having a window. Yes! But for now I am enjoying my high bed and dark mornings.

*I had to use flash to get these images, since there wasn’t enough light.

Happy Long Weekend

Today is a civic holiday here in Canada. I’ll be out helping a friend install her upcoming exhibition Us (& It) at Ryerson Artspace at the Gladstone, 1214 Queen St West here in Toronto. The opening is on Thursday, August 4th from 7 to 10 pm. I hope to see you there.

Clare Samuel, from Us (& It), 2016.

Clare Samuel, from Us (& It), 2016.