Friday, June 19

Polka Dots Are my Jam

I don't know what it is about polka dots.

My mum was always a lover of polka dots, she had several polka dot ensembles so perhaps I inherited my fondness from her. There's something both whimsical and demure about a polka dot print.

I had a jersey, faux wrap polka dot dress in my wardrobe for a very long time -- it was probably the single piece of clothing that I wore for the longest period. It eventually wore itself right out, the polka dots rubbed completely off the back of the dress. I kept it under my bed with my too small clothes for an extra year, but recently went through everything and tossed it. Of course, when I saw this dress at Sears I thought it would be a perfect replacement.

Here's to another ten years of polka dots.

Boots from Modcloth, Dress Sears, bag old, jacket Reitmans, necklace from the muttart conservatory

Wednesday, June 3

Remember to Art

Where I have I been lately you may ask?

I've been busy arting! And reading... and of course playing video games.

My first digital painting!
Growing up, I had two equal passions. Writing, and art. I sketched and painted, and I filled notebooks with scratchy, rounded cursive in black ink. In high school, I focused on both of these pursuits equally, completing my own art show through my international baccalaureate art class. Time came to apply to universities, and I made the decision that writing would probably be more lucrative then art. It's worked out very well for me, I've been lucky to be employed as a writer since leaving university four years ago. Sadly, full time university, and then a full time writing career meant that I didn't have much time for art and the hobby gradually fell by the wayside.

Apparently -- nerdiness, creativity, and fandom seem to be intricately linked for me.

It's funny, I haven't loved anything as wholly and completely as I am loving Dragon Age Inquisition since I was a teenager, and being immersed in a fandom again led me to the 'normal' fan activities -- fan fiction of course, and fan art.

In the last three or so months I have shunned my usual social media: pinterest, facebook, and instagram,  in favor of Tumblr. I have stopped reading Gawker and the newspaper and started reading books instead. And I've started feeling something I honestly haven't felt since before I started University -- creative.

I've written a short story, started a novel, read four books, and completed three paintings. I attended a writing conference, and I bought a new laptop to hook up to my art tablet. Unplugging from many of the time sucks on the internet has allowed me to make more time for creativity and it's been great!

A portrait of one of my original D&D characters

I fully intend to continue blogging here of course, Light a Candle is the story of my life and I consider it a documentation of what's going on at any given time -- but posting will likely remain infrequent as I continue to devote every spare minute I can to digital painting and writing. I wanna get good guys, really good, and that drive has been sadly lacking from my life for too long.

If you want to hear from me more often, you can check out one of my three Tumblr blogs:

My personal Tumblr (mostly Dragon Age Fandom), my writing Tumblr, and my art Tumblr.

I do have a couple of personal updates and outfits in store for the next couple months, and I'm considering writing some book reviews to compliment my renewed interest in reading.

Till next time friends!

Monday, May 4

The Muttart Conservatory

 The Muttart Conservatory is a pilgrimage worth making every year. In fact, I would say I don't go often enough. Something about winter in Edmonton leaves you longing for sunlight and colour and the Muttart is a beacon of both nestled right in our the river valley. It really feels like recharging your batteries to spend some time amid the different biomes and remembering that, ah yes, winter ends. 

 These days we are beginning to see new growth outside for real, but I took these photos during a visit in April and although the snow was melted, Edmonton was still looking pretty brown.
Oddly enough, some of my favorite photos are of the little cactus's and succulents! Just a touch of green and a blossom of orange to brighten your day.

T: Jcrew, Skirt: Old Navy, Boots and scarf: Modcloth

 Happy Spring my friends! The days are lengthening and the sun is shining. Looking forward to all the joys summer brings!

Tuesday, April 28

Linen is for Spring

I found this linen dress at Old Navy of all places, and I'm in love with it. I'm pretty sure it's a knock off of an older Madewell style, and I'm cool with that, plus it's the perfect weight, entirely lined and did I mention linen? My favorite fabric. I wore this outfit to my Easter dinner at the beginning of the month, and boy -- a lot has changed since then! It's absolutely gorgeous in Edmonton lately, spring is really truly in the air.

Life has been marching on lately, I've been writing up a storm which is an excellent feeling and I even managed to finish off a short story that I'm really proud of. I'm so grateful to all my friends for being willing beta readers and especially my husband who must have read over twenty different versions of my final paragraph. I literally could not get it right and it was killing me! Oddly, it was when I was separated from my computer, riding home on the bus that I had a  moment of clarity and re-wrote my ending on my phone. Turned out perfectly and I couldn't be happier! Well, I'll be a little happier if it actually gets in to the anthology I've submitted to, but if it doesn't I'll be shopping it around to be sure!

PS. We bought this little couch for Nick's den and somehow it made it's way into our living room to provide extra seating for a big friendly gathering. Oddly, it's still there! It just fits so perfectly into this spot in the room and is much lower profile then the white chairs I had there before. I should probably send it back to the den where it belongs, but I like having it out here! The pets like it too, they love napping on it in the sun now.

Dress: Old Navy, Boots: Express, Cape: Hudsons Bay

Monday, April 20

What's in my Bag

This is literally an outfit I have on repeat right now. The skinny jeans are from JCrew and they are the most comfortable skinny jeans I have ever owned. I love the black denim and the distressed knees, they go with everything! I also somehow feel edgy when I'm wearing them -- especially with a leather jacket thrown on top. These illusions please me.

The top is another new favorite, it's a linen blend chambray from The Gap and it has a great high low hem. Slightly cropped in the front (making it the perfect thing to wear with high wasted pants) and lower in the back. When I wear it I feel truly effortless, and it washes well too.

There's something about throwing an outfit on, knowing everything is high quality and works.  This has been a go to Monday outfit for work and for some reason, the smock-like shape of the shirt makes me want to paint something? This is a strange phenomenon that requires further investigation.

Also on my list of favorites? My glasses! Who would have thought I would actually enjoy wearing glasses. I do! They make me feel a little smarter 'cause I'm into cliches.

I originally took these outfit photos with the idea of sharing something special for my four year blogging anniversary, haha, turns out I am way too slow transferring files around and editing things to get it out in time. That being said, I wanted to do something fun and I had just switched purses so my bag was suspiciously clean inside. Clean bag + fun new things = What's in Kaitlyns Bag Post!

In case you were ever wondering:

1. Glasses and glasses case (technically the glasses were on my head).
2. Zune. Because I am the only Canadian in the world to have purchased a Zune and still own one. This baby used to go everywhere for me,  once I got a smart phone it was relegated to a drawer in my storage room for about two years. Recently, my husband and I started listening to music when we're falling asleep and I've been building sleep playlists on my Zune for that purpose. Thus, it is resurrected! Carrying it to work to sync my playlists. 
3. My E-reader. As you can see, I've been reading "Hild" by Nicola Griffith. Sadly, it's slow going and I'm having trouble getting into it. I've been cycling between this, endless Dragon Age fanfic, and a book my friend loaned me called "Redshift Rendezvous" by John E. Stith.
4. and 5. Some dark berry lipstick and gloss. I bought these for my wedding but now they're my go to combo.
6. My phone of course.
8. My berry leather wallet from Everlane. Not sure if I'll ever buy a zip wallet again, it literally ate a five dollar bill the other day.
9. And lastly, my buss pass. That's right girls and boys, this girl takes public transit.

Wednesday, April 15

Like a Diamond

I took these outfit pictures back in March! My favorite GAP joggers are going strong (I could wear them every day) and I've been mixing in some of my new purchases from JCrew such as this light weight shirt which reads "Live the Dream" in French. The cardigan is a cashmere cotton blend also from GAP, and has been a perfect transitional piece for my office. I added a cute broach from SketchInc to give it a little more personality.

Did you know I've been blogging here for four years now? My 'blogiversary' is March 29th!

Express boots, GAP Moto Joggers and Cashmere Blend Cardigan, JCrew Shirt, SketchInc broach.

Friday, March 27

A Practical Wedding

Last year while I was planning our wedding there was one website that became rather essential. A Practical Wedding is a wealth of inspiration, knowledge and advice and I also immensely enjoyed the book of the same name written by Meg Keene, editor-in-chief.

After our photos came back I wanted to submit our wedding to my favorite resource and my patience has been rewarded today as our wedding has finally been posted! It feels pretty good to see us up there, and of course my ego doesn't mind all the kind comments. I hope that someone sees our post and is inspired to hire one of our amazing vendors (Genevieve Renee Photographie, Amy Robertson Makeup for example), or try a pink dress. ;)

If you want to check out the post, you can find it on their website here!

Monday, March 16

Spring Wardrobe 2015 - Planning

The Capsule Wardrobe. It's a thing. In fact, it's a rather big thing sweeping the blogging world right now and there's a reason why everyone is so excited about it. Capsule Wardrobes:
  • Help you budget
  • Help you refine your personal style
  • Help you avoid consumerism and be happy with less
  • Help you stay organized
  • Help you pack for travel
Living more minimally, and on a budget, were two big reasons why I want to try a capsule wardrobe. Of course, I've already confessed to blowing my February clothing budget sky high, so you know I bought some new pieces. When shopping for spring I categorized my expenses into Basics and Statements. Basics should be:
  • Neutral in colour
  • Classic  in design
  • A bigger initial investment (generally)
  • Versatile
The one big item I wanted this season was a pair of distressed black skinny jeans. I found the jeans of my dreams on sale at JCrew. They're the 'Lookout Highrise Jean' and they're amazing. I've never purchased expensive jeans before but the difference is definitely telling, this is my third pair of skinny jeans and the only one I'm keeping. Not only are they comfortable (what?) they're flattering to my fuller midsection and look great with everything. I also purchased a pair of white cropped jeans (they were on sale for $15)  which should look great with a lot, and a new white T. The grey maxi dress is an upgrade from a wardrobe staple I purchased a couple years ago. This one is a little more expensive and I think will hold up longer and look great. Since I made these graphics I also added a great chambray tunic/shirt that I think will get tuns of wear.
Statement pieces aren't necessary loud or flashy, I categorize them as pieces that:
  • Are colourful 
  • Will punch up a basic outfit
  • Are of a different colour or cut then you would usually purchase
  • Might not last as long/be in fashion for as long
  • You spend less money on initially 
I purchased a few items from that JCrew sale to fit this category. A new comfy T that's not quite a basic, a couple of transitional weather sweaters in spring colours, a grey ruched skirt that's going to look great with everything. Also, this linen dress. I'm obviously thrilled about this linen blend dress: it has a lining, is beautifully made and looks amazing. I've been in love with this (almost exact) dress from Madewell for at least two years but never wanted to spend over $100. Well I got this one from Old Navy for $25. I've never owned a denim vest before but I can already tell you I absolutely love it. I expect to get a lot of wear out of this vest. 
And the rest:

Obviously I'm carrying over quite a few items from my existing closet. I'm tending towards simple, comfy pieces in neutral colours with pops of purple and olive green. I want to make sure that I have enough tops to mix in, and a good variance of comfort and classy (for my office worker day life). The dresses I chose can be mixed in for day wear, or worn out in the evening depending on how they're accessorized. This is the one category that might inflate a little as I plan my wardrobe.
Who else is interested in/already doing a capsule wardrobe? What pieces do you think you need to be successful?

I know for me, weather is big factor. In Edmonton the weather can be quite volatile and subject to dramatic change. I might need to pull out a pair of shorts, I might also need my parka still. It's hard to say. I'm getting a little antsy just looking at these bare legged models wearing my dresses. I can't wait for the day to come when I have to shave my legs because leggings are no longer required.

Saturday at Deermound Park

 Lola isn't a big fan of being in the car... at all. In fact, she's so opposed to it that last weekend when we put her in the car to go to my parents house she threw up before we had even closed the door, let alone started moving. Poor thing. So it was a little funny when we got her in the car to go to the park on Saturday. She was fine at first, normal levels of anxiety, but as we drove past our usual dog park and continued on she began to get excited about the trip. Maybe it was that the weather allowed us to roll the windows down, maybe it's because she didn't have to wear a jacket to stay warm, but she was happy. She stood up with her paws on the console between Nick and I and started to smile.

Deermound Dog Park isn't exactly close by, it's in Sherwood Park and we're in North Edmonton so it's a bit of a drive -- but it's worth it. The park is absolutely massive, with huge wide open fields to run in and a collection of well used hiking trails through a wooded area that actually feels like legit forest. It's like being on my parents rural acreage an hour and a half out of the city, it's like being in the woods behind my grandparents house when I was a kid. Lola gets to experience nature in a way she can't in the city, and I love seeing her so happy. She absolutely thrives and it's awesome! Something about a dog getting to take in so many new and exciting smells just tires them out like nothing else.

Lola and Lola's 'frienemy' Halo, haha.
 After our romp in the park with friends Beth and pup Halo (who loves Lola and wants so badly to play with her even though Lola apparently doesn't know how to play), came back to our house for pie (since it was pie day) and a movie. Weekend Perfection.
 IRL Note: this was before our car didn't want to start and then did start and then we discovered we had driven over our friends phone which got dropped on the pavement. SO little disasters, but there's something about people who can role with the punches that make life easy. So thanks Beth, and thanks to puppies. It's so important not to let the little bad things eclipse life's awesome moments.

Friday, March 13

IRL: Month Two

As you might know, in January my husband and I began our journey into the world of budget spending, organizing and meal planning in the quest to better our lives and secure our future! That sounded weird... true, but weird. In a quest to have money in the bank and clean floors? That sounds better.

With March about to bloom (hopefully) I wanted to recap our second month of this project and share a bit about what we're learning.

  • Budgeting Apps can be tricky. We've been using Better Haves (a budgeting app for couples, we're both on android). Better Haves is based on the envelope system, but unlike in real life, you can go over your allotted amount and into negative numbers and when you do, there is no prompt to transfer money from other envelopes to cover your negative balance SO we've ended up over $200 in one category but still showing we have positive numbers in other categories. This didn't really click for me until I started wondering why I had no money in my account but the app says I should still have $100 for groceries. Duh, Kaitlyn, you spent your grocery money on clothes you idiot. SO, in conclusion, it doesn't work if you're not actually sitting down with the app and balancing it frequently to make sure you're using it correctly. Lesson learned. 
  • Websites that auto-fill your Visa information are the devil. Nine times out of ten if I have to reach for my Visa and fish it out of my wallet and type it all in I will decide not to make the purchase. If my Visa number is auto-filled it's too easy to spend mindlessly! I'm removing my Visa number from everywhere I shop online.
  • Emails about clothing sales are also the spending devil. I blew my monthly clothes budget out of the water in February and I definitely blame sale emails. I get it in my head I need to buy all the things because of the great deals, but it all adds up. Of course I don't want to get rid of these emails completely, when I am in the market for something it pays to know what's on sale, but I needed to do something to keep myself from spending all the time. I recently discovered that in outlook (Hotmail) you can right click on an email sender and create a "rule" for all emails from that sender. I went through my emails and created rules for all of the places I get subscriber coupons (GAP is my biggest weakness because they have sales basically every week). From now on, GAP and JCrew and ASOS emails will automatically go into a separate folder so I won't see them in my inbox. That way, if I'm shopping for something I can go to that folder and see if there are any sales, but I won't be tempted to spend money if I'm not specifically shopping for clothes. 
Zucchini cakes with salad and beans.
  • Meal planning can be hard. We struggled occasionally with meal planning, mostly because my up and down battle with creativity. An extra challenge for us is that our weekly game night with friends has recently added a few members, thus increasing the cost of food and requiring me to find a new host of recipes to feed more people. My biggest resource for meal planning is pinterest of course, and I find that ignoring the fancy recipes on pinterest and focusing more on easy, common ingredients is helping me cook affordable meals all week. 
  • On that note, my biggest discovery - cauliflower. Cauliflower is crazy versatile! I have made pan fried cauliflower 'nuggets', butter 'chicken' cauliflower, and whole roasted cauliflower. Still want to try cauliflower crust pizza, and cauliflower rice. Also awesome and versatile? Zucchini. I've been making a lot of zucchini cakes (like crab cakes, not like chocolate cake) and serving them with sour cream and veggies. I've also been keeping pizza crusts frozen, and assembling stir fry beef in portioned bags with sauce at the beginning of the month. I can get 2-4 stir fry's out of one package of beef strips, and I can make a pizza out of what ever is in the fridge if I'm having a lazy night. Recently made beet and walnut pesto to use as a pizza base with Kale and sausage and it blew me away. So good! 
Progress being made on my office/den.
  • As for organizing, I've been continuing to do my best to follow Marie Kondo's method from "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up". Not all of her tips have worked for me, but many of them are indeed life changing. So far the best tips from her book have been:
    • Creating a central pile of all storage baskets collected during cleaning. All of my baskets and bins are sitting together in a pile waiting to find homes and as I see a need, I can put them to good use. It's tempting to use storage bins everywhere and for everything but I've certainly found that they become a hiding place for clutter, so thinking really hard about how to use them is making my space more organized. 
    • Purging first. I'm currently working on my office/den and the first step was purging all the clutter. During this process, my closet, desk and dresser sat empty. With everything out in the open I was able to get rid of the maximum amount of clutter. Once I knew what I was keeping, I had to think very long and hard about how I wanted to use these storage places for maximum utility. Only then did I start filling these storage areas back up. This way, everything has a real designated place and clutter doesn't continue to pile up.
    • Folding. I cannot tell you how much I love Marie Kondos folding method! It truly does make folding and putting away laundry a more joyous task. I actually enjoy filing my husbands shirts (and underwear, mens underwear folds up so nicely! Haha). I used to make him put away all his own laundry but seriously, we're both so much more organized when I do it. 
    • What brings you joy? One of the things I've done during this time of organizing is purge a lot of books. I love books, I love to read, but honestly I didn't get a lot of joy from looking at all the books we owned. In most cases, I prefer to have my books on my Kobo for easy reading and storing. One thing that we have way too many of is board games, and we never had a good way to sore them so I purged a lot of books from our living room and stored our board games in plain sight on our book cases. Honestly, board games are not the most fun to look at. They aren't calming or pretty, but we get a lot of joy and we spend so much time enjoying them with friends and family that I prefer to have bookcases overflowing with board games then books I read once a year or read once and forgot about. Bonus: when we're asking guests what they want to play they can see our collection now at a glance.
    • On that note, Nick has been cleaning his den and organizing as I do the rest of the house and the other day he came to me with a painting I did for him when we were dating. "See, I told you I didn't lose it!". If this was the only result of all of our hard work I would still be so so grateful. Having that precious artwork I made with my own hands, and find so much joy in viewing, is what organizing is about, no?