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?

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my week in pictures: peacocks, polish, and the pink bicycle

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Thanks to a flight from Victoria to Ottawa my week was three hours shorter than usual! Despite the lost time I still managed to cram in a bunch of misadventures

The first few days of the week were my last few days of vacation in Victoria. On Monday I visited with some family and had a glorious lunch at The Pink Bicycle, followed by a beautiful drive along Dallas Road out to Clover Point. We saw ships sailing and dogs walking and kites flying. It was a perfect summer day by the ocean. On Tuesday we went to the petting zoo! Formally I think it’s known as the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, and there aren’t really that many animals to pet there, just goats. But none of that matters because they have my favourite animals in the world – piggies! Unfortunately the piggies weren’t too photogenic so here’s a beautiful peacock which casual stroll around everywhere in Beacon Hill Park.

After bidding adieu to Victoria I hopped a flight back to Ottawa to enjoy a few days of alone time at home before Craig followed me back. In that time I experimented with my new camera by photographing random collections of objects in my office, caught up on some emails, and got down to some serious blog planning. I’ve got some new ideas in store that I’m really excited to share so stay tuned for that!

That’s it for my week, what did you get up to?? Let me know in the comments.

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my week in pictures: coffee, sushi, and beaches in victoria

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Even though I have a difficult time separating myself from my email, vacation is great. I have spent so much time visiting with friends and eating nice meals and driving around Victoria. Craig and I went out to Central Sannich for an ice cream cone and stopped at a beach along the way. Under a rock we found this cute little baby crab (don’t worry, we put her back where found her).

Among other notable Vancouver Island experiences we’ve had so far, we got sushi at Fugiya then drove to the top of Mount Tolmie to eat it, we had coffee at Café Fantastico, and we spent some quality time lounging on the beach at Thetis Lake.

And perhaps the most important piece of news: I bought myself my first big girl camera, a Canon Rebel T3i. It’s been really nice to have the camera around to document the beautiful moments of our trip. It’s because of the tech upgrade that I’ve decided to switch up the format of this blog feature. From now on I’ll be posting individual photos instead of the usual nine photo grid pulled from instagram. Let me know what you think!

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My last three weeks in pictures: a serious spoon shortage

mwip_2013-06-09Hello my beauties! My apologies for leaving you for so long without warning. The truth is, I’ve been sick. You may remember when I attended the chronic pain management program at the Ottawa Hospital in January. About three weeks ago I started experiencing extreme versions of my usual symptoms and had to cut way back on everything. For much of the last three weeks I’ve been bed-bound and making sure to do a lot of self care. I watched a lot of Netflix, drank a lot of tea, did my nails a bunch of times, and ate as healthy as I could.

Of course I wasn’t able to stop working completely, and I often felt well enough to work for a couple of hours a day. In that time I taught my lovely students, played my usual Monday night performance, and answered a few emails.

Basically I have suffering from a massive “spoon shortage.” If you are unaware of the Spoon Theory of chronic illness, click here to read The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. Once you’ve read that, click here to read an excellent article about trying to blog without spoons, written by a fellow spoonie, Emily of Chronically Creative.

I feel like I might be starting on the upswing and heading back into “regular chronically ill” territory, so I’m going to try taking on a little more again. You might see a few blog posts in the mix, but I’m also going to try warming up, and piano practice, and lots and lots of self-care.

Thanks for your support as I cope with this time in my life. If you have some positive news happening in your life I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Share your positivity!

My Week In Pictures: Pianos, polish, and pretty red notebooks

My Week In Pictures: 2013_05_12-19

This last week was a lot of quiet time punctuated by small pleasures. I started writing in a new red journal, I drank a lot of tea, I painted my nails this nice fossil colour, I drank a bunch of tea, I saw some great Ottawa-local jazz musicians in concert, I played a brunch gig with my friend Marie-Claire Durand, I practiced piano, I taught some lessons, and I watched a ton of Portlandia on Netflix.

Wow, I can’t believe that’s it! Some weeks you just need to lay low and do the little things that make you happy.

Also, due to the long weekend there will be no Live Jazz Monday tonight at Mercury Lounge, but we’re back next week so see you then!

My Week In Pictures: I can go outside again! Hooray!

My Week In PicturesI have been enjoying the spring so much I could have summarized this whole week with one photo of my patio set. I think we barbecued every meal of the day this week, including breakfast. But seriously, it’s been a really fun week. Craig and I had musical visitors from Montreal, Joel Kerr and Marie-Claire Durant, staying with us. Craig and Joel rehearsed and recorded for a very special project called It’s A Free Country. They will be releasing the album at IMOO on June 16. I highly recommend checking the show out.

In other news, I started taking some rudimentary piano lesson now that we have an excellent instrument to practice on, I had a wonderful concert on Friday with Mark Ferguson and Joel Kerr. There may be some other news related to that concert but I’m not at liberty to say at the moment… it’s a secret… And also, Craig and I spent time rehearsing with the Ottawa Rhythm Initiative for their inaugural show Collected Soles: A Rhythm Tap & Jazz Music Show.

I wish I had more to report at this time but I’m basically going through the planning phase of my life as we move swiftly through May and closer and closer to the summer. More updates will come though! Stay tuned this week for an awesome CD bundle giveaway :)

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?