my week in pictures: slowly saying goodbye to ottawa

lois 'n' frima'sI don’t know why I’m even bothering to say goodbye to Ottawa. Between returning more than weekly for teaching, gigs, and family stuff, Ottawa probably won’t even notice that I’m gone. But you know how it is when you don’t live in a place, somehow you never manage to revisit your favourite spots on trips that are hurried and activity-packed already.

With only a few months as the exception, I’ve lived in Ottawa my whole life. I grew up here, went to school here, and built my career here. Needless to say I’ve amassed a pretty long list of favourite things to do. I’m trying to take special care to do some of my favourite things before I’m in Montreal accumulating a new favourite things list.

This week, after a very successful garage sale (thank you to those who came out), Craig and I went downtown to visit the Byward Market. We walked through the huddled masses of tourists to visit the market stalls selling fruits and vegetables, textiles, jewellery, and sundries. Then we stopped at Lois ‘n’ Frima’s for ice cream. Delicious, delicious ice cream.

I’m still trying to decide what favourite things I have time for this week between packing the house and teaching. Do you have any suggestions? What are your favourite things to do in Ottawa?

pink dress

farmers-market

textiles

My Week In Pictures: blue skies and red lipstick

My Week In Pictures: April 22 - 28, 2013This was a nice week. There was just the right amount of everything. After last week’s post about being down on the artist life, it was nice to have a fun art-filled week.

I taught a dozen students, I performed at Live Jazz Monday and at the Brookstreet Hotel and at the Herb & Spice, I blogged three whole times (which is a big step forward from wanting to quit last week),I attended two concerts, I went to a music store and invested in some long-needed equipment, I had a fun writing/rehearsing session with Mark Ferguson, I attended my brother’s animation grad fair, and I had an amazing photo shoot with Claude Brazeau.

I also spent an entire day of my work week prepping for the photo shoot.

Confession time: I love makeup and clothes. There I said it. I think for awhile I resisted the urge to indulge in makeup and clothes (and nails and accessories) and I have a feeling that resistance stems from a weird sort of femme-shame, where things that are associated with femininity are considered frivolous and inferior. Anyway, I’m over that now and I’m glad I am too because I’m discovering an awesome world of amazing, creative women doing incredible things with clothes and makeup and accessories and nails (I’m leaving out hair because I don’t really have much hair). On Friday I visited viens avec moi and borrowed eight pieces from them for the photo shoot with Claude including this crazy amazing floral print dress you can see in the top left photo. The shoot will also contain custom earrings by Katie Hurdon which you can also get a preview of in the top left photo. I did my own makeup (thanks to some great tutorials from Lisa Eldridge) but if there are any aspiring makeup artists out there who would like to collaborate with me on future projects, please contact me!

So that’s it for my week, how was your week? Do you wear makeup or do your nails? What are some of your favourite makeup/clothes/nails/accessories resources? I’m voraciously devouring blogs and youtube videos so please share in the comments!

My Week In Pictures: I think I might be crazy

2013_04_15-21You may have noticed that I wasn’t around as much as usual last week. I didn’t really tweet much or post much to facebook or post much on my blog. I was pretty busy last week with practical stuff, like teaching a bunch of students and recording radio station IDs and attending concerts and receptions, but I also didn’t post much because I spent a lot of last week thinking about what exactly it is I want to do with my life.

I think a lot of people think about this. I’m lucky that I have so many options.

Since this blog is mostly about my life and what I’m up to, I found it hard to write posts while trying to figure it out. I find that this happens after every major project or event. It happened after I graduated, it happened after I released my first CD, and so, fittingly, it’s happening now, about a season past the release of my second CD.

Even this post is hard to write because I really want to keep the mood of the blog light and fun and generally about what is going on in my life and what is inspiring my writing and singing. Right now though, being between projects and all, I’m feeling the urge to go into “writer’s hibernation” where I cloister myself and gather information and spend a lot of time being creative again. I don’t expect this to happen at the exclusion of blogging all together, after all I have a fun photo shoot planned to share with you and some new mixtapes and an awesome CD bundle giveaway, but I might have to lay low for awhile and get my head straightened out.

Sometimes it’s hard to be a working artist. You have to strike the balance between making money and being creative all while maintaining motivation in the face of huge adversity and common sense. For example, yesterday I spent about four hours introducing myself and my music to Polaris Music Prize jurors via email. Do I have any allusions of winning the Polaris Music Prize? No, not really. Why did I do it? Because I am a special brand of crazy that makes me a good candidate to be a successful artist. But also, doing it was the first pro-active thing I’ve done in awhile and it made me feel really good to say to myself “I put in a hard day’s work” for once.

I would love to hear from other artists or self-employed people or even people that are just good at self-motivating. What are your secrets? How do you keep your head above water? Tell me please! I need to know!

My Week In Pictures: Things I’ve learned about writing

2013_04_08-14I didn’t take a lot of photos this week for one reason or another. I think it was a combination of not wanting to leave the house because of the freak weather, and the fact that I spent most of my free time alternating between watching Community and writing poems/lyrics.

On the subject of writing I think I have finally come to terms with the fact that my process is not pretty or romantic. I have to get up in the morning, and start writing like it’s my job. There’s a lot of sitting around involved, a healthy sprinkling of procrastination, some cursing, and a well-thumbed rhyming dictionary. My office gets really messy, coffee cups pile up around me, and sometimes I put off things like showering.

Writing can be an ugly, time-consuming thing.

I have also found that I need a six hour block to get anything done. Even if the actually writing part only took an hour, I need the five hours before it to think and stomp around, and watch some Community. I’ve corroborated this theory with another writer this week so I don’t feel crazy about this anymore.

I have also also found that I work well with ultimatums. I promised myself to write a poem every day in April (which is going pretty well so far, only one day missed kind of), but I told myself I would give myself a poem break if I finished lyrics or made some significant progress on a song. It’s silly really, no one is making me write the poems in the first place, but I work way better if I think I’m getting out of doing something. Writing is weird.

Contrary to the above three plus paragraphs, I did do other things this week. In no particular order I ate some gelato, appeared on Ottawa Morning on CBC, made flambéed bananas, had a wedding consultation, painted my nails, went to see a John Dies at the End at the Mayfair Theatre, hosted a community radio show, went to a birthday party, tip-toed past four sleeping Torontonians, and taught a whole bunch of lessons!

That’s it for this week! How was your week?

 

My Week In Pictures: Poetry, Performances, and Sunny Spring

My Week In PicturesThis week was so delightful. It was sunny and colourful and a complete 180 from last week’s winter freak storm. Although I was burdened by a looming (self-imposed) tax deadline, I made sure to take a lot of time this week to enjoy the little things like breakfast with friends, coffee in a rainbow mug, a sunny drive to an out of the way second hand store, and my favourite magazine.

On Tuesday, Craig and I drove out to the town of Mountain near Kemptville, just outside of Ottawa, to visit the House of Lazarus, a thrift shop and community outreach centre. We visit a couple times a year and never spend more than twenty dollars but we always get a few things we need. This time we got a stove top kettle, a tripod, a sweet bicycle necklace, and a really weird card game called A Question of Scruples. I think it might be the Jumanji of card games though and I might have to tie a stone to it and throw it off a bridge…

The rest of the week was spent teaching, crunching numbers on my sweet Texas Instrument, and preparing for a lovely evening of Jazz and Poetry on Saturday night. I had the absolute pleasure of sharing the evening with an exceptionally heartfelt poet and passionate human, Brandon Wint. It was a packed house, some came for Brandon and some for Mark and me but I think everyone left with an appreciation for both art forms. It was really fortunate timing too because as I mentioned earlier, April is poetry month at reneeyoxon.com! I’ll be writing a poem every day in April and sharing some of them (probably) on my tumblr. I’ll also tweet about my experience using the hashtag #PWEDA.

I can’t tell you how happy all this sun has made me. Even though I’m busier than ever and sometimes I feel like I’ll never catch up and be totally on top of everything, the fact that I can leave my home and feel the warmth of the sun on my face makes a huge difference in my life. What do you like about this time of year?

My Week In Pictures: So much surprise excitement!

My Week In Pictures: March 10 - 16, 2013Talk about a fun week full of surprises. When this week rolled around, I was sure it was going to be nothing but tax preparation and getting all my ducks in a row for Toronto tomorrow, but it ended up being a super crazy and fun week.

Last Monday we had a lovely Live Jazz Monday at Mercury Lounge followed by the return of Monday night jazz residencies at Le Petit Chicago! Hooray! It was a sad day when one of the longest running jazz nights in Ottawa closed down a few months ago, but now it’s back with a vengeance  This month the Sean Duhaime Trio has the stage and next month it will be Zak Frantz’s Curiosity Killed the Quartet. If you’re in Ottawa, check it out!

Tuesday was the usual day off. Craig and I hung around like a couple of lumps in love and then went out to see Life of Pi at the movies. Even in 2-D that movie was great.

On Wednesday we saw the inaugural performance of Blue Organ Trio at Burgers On Main, a new jazz venue in Ottawa that is not on Main at all but closer to Somerset and Bank. Blue Organ Trio features my brother from another mother, François Gravel. It was great to finally be able to sit back and watch him perform.

Thursday and Friday were teaching and tax preparation days, followed by a really fun photoshoot with Chris Vanderwees. Chris is a photographer in Ottawa who specializes in vintage film cameras and street photography. You can check out his amazing tumblr here.

On Saturday I was called for a last minute performance at Ottawa’s City Hall for the Capital Pride conference. Sometimes it’s so much fun to do a short performance and then spend the rest of the evening taking in the other great performances, eating amazing food, and meeting some splendid people. My life is weird and great.

On Sunday I went down to Umi Café to see vocalist Geraldine Eguiluz and bassist Stéphane Diamantakiou’s IMOO performance. I’ve been playing so much bass/voice gigs myself lately that it was nice to see a new take on the combination.

What a week, right? Next week promises to be just as exciting so stay tuned!

My Week In Pictures: I’m dreaming of spring…

My Week In Pictures: Feb 25 - March 2, 2013Can it be spring already? After compiling the photos for this week’s My Week In Pictures, I can tell that I am jonesing for some springtime colours in my life – pink flowers, citrus oranges and greens, and that cute yellow spotted bird from the Nature Museum. If you live in Ottawa then you know that winter is far from over. Hang in there though, we can get through this together!

This week I spent a lot of time with Craig. I mean, we usually spend most of our time together, but we stepped it up a bit this week. On Tuesday we went out for a fancy lunch date at Canvas, which is a beautiful little restaurant right next to our house. Then we went to the Nature Museum and took in some awesome exhibits. We went pretty late in the day so we only had a few hours to look around before they closed but it was great. I haven’t had the courage to visit a museum since I first started using my cane in 2011 so this was a pretty big deal for me. I took a bazillion photos and now I’m not sure what to do with them. Would anyone be interested in seeing a post with all my museum pictures? Let me know in the comments below.

After all that excitement we cuddled up on the couch with dinner (which Craig made, of course) and watched Sleepwalk With Me by Mike Birbiglia, which is a great movie. All in all, Tuesday was a solid day off.

On Wednesday, Craig and I played a three hour bass and voice duo performance which was very fun and very challenging! We had played this kind of gig before but never for three full hours. It was definitely a learning experience.

On Friday night we headed out to AlphaSoul Café to take in the jazz night and see some friends and we ended up stumbling into the wellington end music + food festival which went on all weekend.

Of course, it was another crazy and exciting week for CBC Searchlight: The Hunt For Canada’s Best New Artist. Voting for round two ended last night and the top five artists in each city will be announced tonight at 9pm. Since that happens to coincides with the start of Live Jazz Monday, I’ll be announcing the results at the show. If you’re in Ottawa, join us at the Mercury Lounge! Will I make it to the next round?? Suspense!!

My Week In Pictures: Writing, Radio, and a Concert in Montreal

2013_02_18-24This was an unusually productive week. Not to say that my weeks are not usually productive, but this week I made a life change: I stopped watching TV with breakfast. This may seem like a trivial thing but it has made a WORLD of difference for me. For starters I got my morning journal writing done every single day last week. That’s pretty big for me since I was having a lot of trouble keeping consistent. It has also helped me get my other daily activities done sooner in the day before I run out of steam, like vocal warm ups and exercising. Little changes can make a big difference.

So, other than having epiphanies, this week I had the opportunity to sit down with Mark Ferguson and get to work on new material. Of course, we love our material from Here We Go Again but we have been itching since even before the release to write some new stuff. Stay tuned because we might have some special announcements about that in April or May…

On Wednesday I went down to Carleton University and had my first day of training at CKCU, the campus radio station. I have agreed to be part of a collective that runs the show Swing Is In The Air on Sunday afternoons from 4pm – 5:30pm. This show was hosted by Jacques Émond for over 20 years up until his recent passing. I’m honoured to be a part of this collective and his legacy. I’m not sure when my formal start date will be but I sure am nervous to host a live radio show for the first time!

On Friday Mark and I drove up to Montreal for our official Montreal CD release concert at Upstairs Jazz Bar! It was a very long day but we were fortunate to have both our partners with us providing snacks and support. We had a really wonderful time playing for the people at Upstairs. Everyone was so enthusiastic and attentive. I can’t wait to come back.

Of course a summary of last week would be incomplete without mention of the CBC Searchlight Contest. Last Monday voting opened for round one of the competition and it was a whirlwind week to say the least. I am so touched by all the people who have come out in support of me that I’ve decided to offer a free download of Drinking Coffee, the song I’ve entered into the competition. To download it, right click here and click save-as.

The artists who will be moving on to round two will be announced at cbcmusic.ca/searchlight tonight at 9pm EST. I’ll be sure to announce the results on my facebook and twitter and at Live Jazz Monday tonight at the Mercury Lounge.

Have a lovely week!

My Week In Pictures: Candy, Cupcakes, Chocolates!

My Week In Pictures: 2013 Week 7This week was SWEET. I mean that literally, it was incredibly sweet! Last weekend Craig and I went to Wed By Hand and gorged ourselves on delicious cupcakes, jams, ganache, and other terribly wonderful sweets (more on that on Thursday).

On Tuesday I attended the Council for the Arts in Ottawa (CAO) Sweetheart Cocktail for the Arts, the theme this year was “A Chocoholic’s Paradise.” This event is a fundraising event for the CAO where they announce their annual arts award nominees. I had a really wonderful time hanging out with my dad, drinking wine, and eat delicious gourmet chocolates while listening to Ottawa’s funk sensation, The Hornettes. On top of all that I was nominated for the RBC Emerging Artist Award! Talk about a great night.

I spent the rest of the week teaching, practicing, and planning awesome blog posts for the upcoming month. I’m actually really excited about some of the features and things I have planned. It’s been a great learning experience developing the skills to plan and write regular contant for you readers. I love it!

Thursday, of course, was Valentine’s Day. Craig and I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day since we usually have to work. This was one of the first time’s in a long time that neither of us had to go out, so we stayed in and watched Frank & Robot on the laptop. Also, one of my students brought me a giant Hershey’s kiss! yay!

So that’s it for this week’s update! Stay tuned this week for the 3rd instalment of Book Love, a photo recap from the wedding show weekends, and other goodies! My next performance is tonight! Join François Gravel and me for Live Jazz Monday at Mercury Lounge tonight at 9pm (and if you come early, you can get a manicure for only $10!)

Have a great week, you beauties!

My Week In Pictures: To Toronto and back!

2013_02_04-10

It’s so nice to be back to work! For the last four weeks I have been at the Rehab Centre participating in their Chronic Pain Management Program. Last week was my first week back to full time jazz-singin’ and I’m so happy to be back. I missed my office, I missed performing, and I really missed hanging out with Craig all day long.

Last Monday I kicked off the week in the usual fashion with Live Jazz Monday at the Mercury Lounge (my favourite night of the week!) If you’re wondering what goes on there, it’s pretty much this only we don’t always wear party hats.

On Tuesday I woke up bright and early and drove down to Toronto to participate in a series called Jane Harbury presents Discoveries hosted at Hugh’s Room. I had a spectacular time, met some wonderful musicians, and made some new friends. Check back this week for some photos and a more thorough recap of this event.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay long in Toronto. I whipped back Wednesday morning, stopping in Kingston for lunch (at The Sleepless Goat, which was amazing), and was back in Ottawa in time to teach a handful of students into the evening.

The rest of the week was spent teaching all of my lovely students and attending wedding shows! This year Craig and I are attended The Ottawa Bridal Party and Wed By Hand with our wedding music company, Play I Do.

That’s pretty much it for this week! But if you’re wondering why a third of my instagram pictures from this week are of a wool scarf, I finally got my hands on a Pembroke Cowl by Yokoo and I might never take it off. Seriously, I’m wearing it as I type right now. It’s the most comfortable and glamorous thing in my life. I’ll probably be wearing it at the Mercury Lounge tonight during Live Jazz Monday!

Alright, have a great week you beautiful people!

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