My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the month “November, 2014”

Sort of Famous on YouTube

So for those of you who follow my blog regularly, you know that I have completed every Art Assignment so far. I’ve been doing it as part of my Creativity by Design experiment and I’m finding that exercising that part of my brain feels great!

So how excited was I when I watched the most recent Art Assignment video and found that they had featured one of my pieces of art? Super excited!

I felt so proud that both Peggy and Garry Noland chose my art as one of the pieces they reviewed. Someone (two someones) connected with my art. They enjoyed my piece and felt nostalgic for the pieces of pop art I referenced. I feel just a little bit famous. Here is my original post.

The artists also reviewed a number of other artists who produced beautiful pieces. Check out the other artists below:

Spencer Welch:…


Cortlandt Matthews:…

Tania Drewitt:…




My Year By Design:…

roses on my windowsill:…


Empty Disco / Odetomyday:…


Sometimes you have to let someone take care of you

So I mentioned in my last blog that I’ve been suffering from heightened levels of depression lately. However, I also mentioned my amazing support system. I wasn’t kidding. I am very blessed to have people who care so much about me. My main support is usually Nick but he’s had to travel a lot more lately because of his job. Something that was particularly difficult for me recently was when he had to travel on a Sunday. The weekend is traditionally a time Nick and I reserve for each other and perhaps our family and friends. It is our time to reconnect. So when Nick had to leave early Sunday morning, I found myself increasingly sad leading up to Saturday night.

While talking to my Mom she clued into the fact that I was feeling down and she offered to come visit me for the day. At first I was worried that would be too stressful for her. After all, we’re a four-hour drive away. “Oh honey,” my Mom replied, “I’m retired. What else do I have to do?” So my Mom came to visit. We didn’t do anything too interesting. We wandered around downtown most of the day. Then we headed back to my house, got into our pajamas and ordered Chinese food. It was an easy day full of conversation. It made me feel much better.


My fortune cookie really summed up the day.


And from my Mom’s cookie we learned that even fortune writers have a sense of humour!


Anxiety Down, Depression Up

Most people suffer from both anxiety and depression, rather than one or the other. I am one of those people. As most of you know, I’ve been working really hard to control my anxiety and I’m seeing some positive results. However, the tricky thing about mental health is that it can run in cycles that are difficult to break. So right now I’m leaving a time of anxiety but I’ve landed in a time of more depression.

There is no single cause for my depression. The triggers affecting me right now are work stress, Nick being away on a business trip, a lack of time with my friends (we are all just so busy!) and the waning of sunlight as winter approaches.

When I’m depressed I have trouble concentrating, I’m not motivated and I sleep a lot more. In fact, sleeping is one of the few things I feel like doing. I feel helpless and hopeless. Even my usual pursuits and activities hold no appeal. Everything seems like too much work.

This blog took me longer than usual to write because I have difficulty describing what it is like to be depressed. Because the causes of my depression are complex, no one thing is going to snap me out of it. It is going to take time and hard work. However, unlike past bouts of depression, I am confident I will come though this alright. I have lots of support and healthy habits to help me though. Wish me luck and patience because I’m going to need lots of both.

Art Assignment 17: The One that Got Away

“Hello. This is Oliver Blank and here is your Art Assignment. I want you to tell me about a lost love or a missed connection. Please leave your message after the beep.”


“I’m not ready to talk about it yet.”

Sometimes art hits too close to home. #theartassignment

Christmas Creep

Are you seeing it too? The bows? The tinsel? Red and green as far as the eye can see? Every year Christmas Creep invades a little earlier. We’re barely through Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en and there it is: Christmas 2014.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. In fact, it is one of my favourite holidays. I just feel like I have to get ready earlier each year. Do you feel the same way? Is Christmas Creep coming earlier or does it just feel that way? Here’s some of my Christmas observations this year:

October 27th – First fully stocked Christmas isle, (Dollarama).

October 27th – First Christmas events email at work.

November 1st – First Christmas decorations I spotted in my neighborhood.

November 2nd – First Christmas commercial I heard on the radio, (CBC Radio 1, Vinyl Cafe Christmas show tickets).

November 3rd – First Christmas commercial I saw on TV, (Family Network Christmas movies for kids).

November 3rd – First online ad for Christmas, (Chapters).

November 3rd – Christmas cookie and toy sale ads arrived at the school.

November 4th – First fully decorated Christmas tree, (The Bay).

November 7th – First text from the family regarding our Christmas plans.

November 7th – First Christmas carol I heard not being played ironically, (“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”)

November 8th – London held its Santa Claus Parade.

November 9th – First time I made and froze Christmas cookies, (dark chocolate chip and sea salt).

November 9th – First time someone wished me “Merry Christmas.”

November 11th – First fully decorated Santa House in Westmount Mall. Apparently, we can’t make Santa wait for the Veterans. 

November 14th – First actual snowflakes I saw. They melted before they hit the ground. 

I haven’t decorated my house yet. Do you think the neighbors would complain if my house looked like this?

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Art Assignment 16: Desktop Monument

So I found some natural landscapes I’ve never visited.


The Rosette Nebula

The Rosette Nebula

The Pelican Nebula

The Pelican Nebula

The Elephant's Tusk

The Elephant’s Tusk

These photos from the Hubble Space Telescope have always fascinated me. There is so much to see in space and its beauty is awe-inspiring. Now I have to try to capture these images in something I can keep on my desk. Here goes:

This assignment was really enjoyable and when I need a break I do find myself turning my little universe over in my hands and watching the different particles spin past. #theartassignment

Remembrance Day

Please thank a veteran today.


Art Assignment 15: Photo of a Friend

In their 36 years of marriage my parents have taught me that the happiest marriages are between best friends. So, when I saw this art assignment, I immediately thought of my best friend and husband Nick. He’s studying for his MBA so I thought his weekend study session was the perfect opportunity to snap these photos.

Nick on Sundays

Nick on Sundays

And of course, I wanted to demonstrate how Nick sometimes deals with ‘Jen’s crazy art projects’.

Nick putting up with Jen

Nick putting up with Jen

To finish up, I also snapped this photo from Nick’s point of view.

Study session

Study session

My Post It.

My Post It.

I sent off my Post It in the mail so I hope it arrives soon! #theartassignment

Art Assignment 14: Find Your Band

So, I’m not very musical. I can say that with some certainty as I have many friends who are musicians and music teachers. Most of them play more instruments than I can name. I often joke that I play the radio. That made this assignment a little more difficult for me. However, I have completed every Art Assignment so far so I wasn’t deterred.

One of my absolute favourite sounds is the sound of my air popper making up some fresh pop corn. It doesn’t hurt that my popper is really cute and that the smell of lovely, fresh pop corn drifts readily throughout my house. If only YouTube could somehow bring us Smell-o-Video…actually maybe that’s not a great idea.


Ok, here goes. Here is my pop corn band:


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