Tuesday 26 December 2017

Shaming the consumer, what a helluva way to do business...

In today's Toronto Star newspaper article, Missing the silver boat, Michael Lewis begins with:

"Consumer brands are missing the boat on millions of dollars in potential revenue thanks to ad buyers’ misperceptions about the 55-plus demographic, says the president of a consulting firm that aims to help companies do a better job of reaching affluent boomers." 

Read the article. He's right and it's about time someone said all this, but I don't think he goes far enough.

Remember the movie Network, from 1976? Watch this clip to bring it all back. Netflix, are you listening? Just watching that clip -- wow, absolutely NOTHING has changed in 41 -- yeah, FORTY-ONE! -- years! Might be time to bring it back, yes?

I was an extra in the TV studio audience in the movie, yelling out, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not taking it anymore!" (FYI, you can just barely see me and my BF at 0:09 in the lower left: the lights are shining off Michael's bald head, I'm just to his right.)

Well, I AM mad as hell, and have been for a long, long time. Here's my New Year's resolution a week early: no more being nicey-nice and mealy-mouthed -- and if I offend anyone, well, just maybe you need to be offended. Here's me yelling out loud and clear:

Hi, Michael, 

Man, these people are so missing the boat, and I'm surrounded by them everywhere I go. Arrogance and ignorance out the yin-yang. I'll tell you, though, if you really want to effect change and wake these people up, you need to stop being so polite about it. 

I'm almost 66, get a pension, still alive and kicking, work full time self-employed plus run my own jewellery business and look after my mother, and I and everyone I know have (at least some) money to burn. But you know what? NOBODY seems to want it. 

Along with doing transcription, I make jewellery these days, and I do a good trade in custom jewellery and alterations for kids and grownups into their 90s. Yeah, kids. Kids and teenagers LOVE my stuff (and their parents are so freakin' grateful). I'm a vendor and instructor at The Gem Expo in Toronto three times a year, and 20 and 30-somethings tell me all the time that not only do I have the coolest booth design at the show, I have the best stuff anywhere in Toronto. Yep, I do weird. People love weird. 

Why do they buy from me? Because my jewellery FITS whether they're a size 0 or size 100 (novel concept, I know), it's flattering and the right proportion to aging, sagging necks and changing body types. How do I manage that? All my jewellery is alterable. 

But mostly, I listen to what they want and need. What these marketers don't seem to get is listening to what people have to say is what will encourage them to buy. Don't give them a questionnaire asking impossible-to-answer questions confirming the company's own biases. I used to work for Angus Reid. I know stupid questionnaires when I see them. 

I was in Toronto this summer. Went to the Bay/Sak's to see what they had. Zip, zero, nada, unless you planned to spend 24/7 in the Entertainment District and wear over-priced size 2 frilly nothings the entire time. The whole store was filled with this crap -- what? Six floors, seven floors? -- sitting UNSOLD -- and, even better, not a customer in sight. 

Seriously? Disregard demographics -- and reality! -- at your peril, people. 

Another thing these 20 and 30-something marketers (and newspapers, ahem) need to do is STOP designing websites that have teensy faint flyspecks for type. When I see that, I'm gone -- and I'm not alone. I buy a ton of stuff for my jewellery business online; as soon as I see those flyspecks, I'm gone. I started out life as a typographer and typesetter. My ads sell; "design" today repels. 

When you have a salesperson visibly in-your-face rejecting you when you want to buy something just because you have grey hair, holy moley... it is mortifying and infuriating all balled up into one big hunk of rage, sorrow and shame -- yes, shame -- and you will Never. Ever. Shop. There. Again. 

THIS is what marketing is all about today. 

Get Jeff Weiss to contact me. I have 50 years of design, print/media, travel, language/culture experience across all sectors. While he definitely won't like what I have to say, I do speak very articulately for a whole lot of people. 

Dunno if this Jeff Weiss guy will call -- I'll let you know -- but geez, Louise... I've been pissed off for 20 years. The grey hair story up above happened to me, and I was so freakin' furious and mortified because this little bitch -- YES -- little bitch said what she said in the tone of voice that she said in front of other customers. 

Well, you better believe that everyone I know heard about it. I don't know if anyone I told stopped shopping there, but I will never EVER support a store or business that allows their staff to treat customers that way. EVER. 

The arrogance that business owners/employees (and advertisers) exhibit to their customers in so many ways, shapes and forms is unconscionable. Where does alienating the customer (and their money, hello???) come from? Eaton's, Sears, the Bay, Target, Zellers... has no one learned anything??? Alienating and ignoring -- and shaming -- your customers does not work. Why do you think it will??? 

Thank you for reading, and I'd love to know if you've experienced the same things I have. 

Meanwhile, if you're in southern Ontario, yes, the Woodstock Farmers Market is open this Saturday, December 30th, early*** until noon. Shopping for your New Year's party? We gotcha covered. Didn't get what you reeeeally wanted for Christmas? We've definitely gotcha covered. See you there!

***How early is early? I'm there around 5:00 a.m. and most vendors are up and running between 6:00 and 6:30. 

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Christmas Shows & Markets...

Most people who know me know that I do NOT do Christmas craft shows.

Yeah, well... that is, until I do.

This past Sunday I took part in a Christmas artisan show and coffee open house at the newly opened Burnt Brick Cafe in downtown Woodstock. It was a hoot and a half, and everyone had a good time. Next year it'll be held it a few weeks earlier -- too many people couldn't come because of family obligations. (But don't despair -- there'll be one coming up in time for Valentine's Day!!)

My table by the window. The light was good at noon -- but by 2:00 it was getting overcast and pretty dim.

Showing crystal pendulums, gradated blues, purples and cream Peruvian opal necklace, semi-precious wand pendants, semi-precious chip & wire trees, carved skulls, pewter bookmarks, quartz crystal pendants... 

Showing Tibetan silver Hamsa hands, rose quartz stone & wire tree, Chakraluscious healing bracelets, resin raven skull pendants, Taxco sterling silver pendants, semi-precious carved skull and heart pendants...

Shots of the show in the main dining area and the other room with the bar/serving area and kitchen with Rene Hoelscher, the owner, behind the bar.

They make great lattes, of which I drank far too many during the show, and the food there is beyond fantastic. Do not let the word "healthy" scare you away. I had a maple bacon scone: just wow. If you ever get a chance to sample their cheddar/jalapeno/bacon soup, it is truly heaven in a bowl. 

This coming Saturday, 23 December, is your last chance to come to the Woodstock Farmers Market before Christmas. Officially open from 7:00 until noon, I'll be there from about 5:00 a.m. for all you early birds. 

Can't figure out what to get the jewellery-lover on your list? I have crystal cage pendants ready to insert their favourite stone or crystal, jewellery cleaning cloths, carved semi-precious skulls and skull pendants, crystal trees (seen in the above pictures), candles in the shape of crystals, dragon incense burners, plus new artisan-made sterling silver pendants from Taxco, Mexico, and Bali. 

With over 120 different beads to choose from, I can make almost any healing bracelet combo you can imagine. See my Chakraluscious stacking bracelets and aromatherapy/diffuser pendants and bracelets. 

Prices range from $1 to $300, gifts for kids to great-grands -- oh, and FYI, I take Visa as well as any pesky cash. STILL can't decide? I'll have gift certificates available.

I already have my custom-cut half a turkey breast from Miedema's at the market. :-))) Made the cranberry sauce this morning. Just need veg and bread. Maybe some more of Peter's orange brandy Christmas cake. YUM!!! See you at the market!!!

Monday 4 December 2017

Saturday Market Tips: Repairs & Sales...

I can't emphasise enough the benefits of offering repairs and restringing. People are truly desperate for this service, but having grown up in a throw-away culture they have to be educated that, yes, it's possible to inexpensively repair their favourite jewellery, that this service is not restricted to expensive gold and silver items. A couple of dollars (or even less) and they have a new clasp/jump ring or new earwires or a wearable necklace. This has become a lucrative business sideline for me: around $75 on Saturday just on repairs.

 A customer brought in a baggie full of broken 4mm blue stretch bracelet beads on Saturday. We'd talked a week or two ago about possibly adding some other beads when I did the restringing. She sat down and started playing with beads -- she was amazed to see how some colours worked and some just were NOT going to look good, no matter where she put them.

This is what she came up with, still keeping with the fine and delicate 4mm blue beads, but with the addition of 6mm aquamarine, and tanzanite flanking some beautiful moonstone with blue flare.

The lighting is a little off in the photo (taken in a hurry under my OttLite at the market) but her 4mm beads (possibly blue chalcedony or more likely dyed quartz???) and the 6mm aquamarine were almost identical.

Customers can save my design time charge by picking out the beads themselves and making the final design decision to their taste. When they're happy with their choice, they finish their shopping while I string the bracelet (or necklace). She paid for the extra beads and my standard $5 restringing charge.

Later on in the morning... an easy leather bail:

My jewellery-making pal Lynn Dutton in Toronto scored a string of these skulls for me on a recent trip to a New York City bead store. The entire string was scooped by one of my regular customers who loves skulls. Here are the final two chokers I made with the beads.

This is a great style for men's jewellery in particular: about three to four inches of large hole (2mm) mixed metal beads with jump ring spacers on either side of any number of possible pendants, strung on an adjustable leather choker. It's fast, and simple, and looks solid and good on anyone. Changing the proportions of copper to gunmetal beads as I did here transforms the look completely.

When the leather gets gungy, they come back and I restring the beads on new leather.

These pendants had a large hole, so I made a really fast and easy bail out of 1.5mm leather, pushing the two ends of the leather down through the skull and tying it in a knot inside in the back. It's a very secure way of making a bail, and this way I didn't have to fiddle around with wire which would have taken a lot more time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday 3 December 2017

Wrapping a Corroded Old Iron Arrowhead for a Choker...

I bought this solid iron arrowhead from a guy who knew a guy...

Nah, actually, I was wandering around the local antique show a few weeks ago looking for my pal to give her the coffee I'd brought for her and eventually found her. I ended up buying a small box of interesting things, probably paid too much, but "oh, well," right? You want what you want when you want it.

I was told the arrowhead in particular came from Europe and was "old" and "real". That's all the vendor knew. I did some research when I got home and found some information here. Looks to be a longbow arrowhead, vintage the 1600s, used for hunting game like wild boar. Surprising what a heavy sucker it is, too, for its size. It would do some damage, whatever the target.

My next decision was how to wrap it. I didn't want to damage the arrowhead at all and avoid glue unless there's no other way. I figured with all the pitting and corrosion that the wire would have enough to grab onto. The copper wire will eventually tarnish and become a little more blendy. I used a vintage-finish copper jump ring, squashed it down it down to make a D-ring shape to give me two corners to wrap to the arrowhead using 28 gauge bare copper wire. Zig-zagged the wire in back to tighten up any slack. Added three jump rings to jump ring to distribute the weight of the arrowhead on the leather cord.

If you have any old and/or meaningful items that you'd like to have turned into a pendant bring them to me at the Woodstock Farmers Market any Saturday, or contact me here or via email. Maybe I can do something for you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday 26 November 2017

Fiddly repair of a broken artisan-made glass pendant...

This is a signed, artisan-made glass pendant (not the cheap flower-burst kind), and it means a great deal to my customer. Somehow the curved glass at the back that formed the bail broke off, and she asked if I could rescue her pendant. She agreed that in this case I would have to glue on whatever bail I could come up with, and she also wanted me to use silver wire.

The pendant is barely 1-1/8 inches high.

The break was fairly clean, but I filed the edges first before I did anything else.

First I made a wire yin-yang symbol with 18 gauge dead soft .999 silver and hammered it flat so I'd have the maximum glueable surface on the back. I started wire-weaving with 28-gauge wire to form the bail and, after using a ball point pen barrel to get the curve, wired in a simple hammered S-swirl (no photo) on what became the top front for interest, and immediately below the S-swirl hammered two swirls at the wire ends to glue on the front.

I used Super New Glue, as it dries crystal clear and it appears to bond very well to smooth surfaces.

I did warn my customer to not let her pendant get too cold (we're heading into winter here) as thermal shock might possibly cause the glass to shatter as it and the silver metal expand and/or contract when going from super-warm houses into cold air.

I left it overnight to dry thoroughly. Because I wasn't sure what I was doing, this took me about an hour and a half to do, but now that I'm more familiar with the wire, I suspect this would take 30 minutes tops to do again.

View of the back yin-yang -- and I sure hope the shapes are facing in the correct direction! I still don't have the heart to look it up and find out I've made a grave error. :-)))

I used .999 silver wire for this, and this is the first time I've used it. I'm very pleased with the malleability, but not so pleased with the work produced by my stumpy fingers! I found out the hard way earlier this year that so-called dead soft .925 sterling wire isn't as dead soft as it needs to be, and that I should've bought .999 fine silver wire instead. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday 24 November 2017

November 2017 GEM EXPO...

I haven't posted pix from the shows all year, but here are my setup photos this time, largely unedited. So happy the show was two weeks earlier than usual, we had a much better turnout even with parts of different subway lines shut down on Saturday and Sunday.

Have to start the trip with sufficient fuel: crispy hot french fries from my favourite chip stand at the top of the hill on the western edge of Paris -- Ontario.

My usual show strategy is to get the tables in place and everything out of the bins and onto the tables on Thursday night, then arrive at 7:00 a.m. on Friday and begin arranging everything.

9:03 a.m. everything is roughly in place; behind the scene, it's a mess and didn't improve at all during the show...

...in front of the scene, everything is roughly in place but I was not in a mindset to make decisions about where things should go. I had new bins of beads that were really throwing me off and some I didn't bring.

At 11:45, the doors have been open for 15 minutes, and this is as good and pristine as my booth will get.

I found stretch velcro bands at Dollarama to keep my plastic drawers and bins closed. I'll be cutting the lids off the translucent bins and using the velcro bands to keep the lids on for transportation. Without the lids it will make for a much cleaner display. That does not look good up above!

LOVELOVELOVE these clear stacking containers with partitioned trays as they are the perfect size for my collection of 6mm beads. I now have at least 100 different beads for my Chakraluscious line of healing bracelets and I'm sourcing more.

For now, I'm using a wooden spool holder that I found at the Goodwill for $3 and spray-painted black to hold my Chakraluscious bracelets. I finally had the absolutely delightful experience of selling an anti-negativity bracelet right off my wrist at the show. Very cool when that happens!

Since arriving back home, I scored two more small type trays to put goodies in, pre-loading being the way to go and these trays fit perfectly into plastic bins for storage and transport.

Some great meals:

Dinner crepe, Crepe T.O. is located a few doors south of the HI-Toronto hostel on Church, just above King. I read a great review in the Toronto Star several months before and have wanted to try it. Yum. I think they were planning on closing early, but they stayed open a bit later for me and several other people who'd wandered in after me.

Sunday night, Ruth and I hit the ever-reliable Jason George for a late night shared meal after packing up the van:

Pusateri's on Bay in Yorkville, Ruth launching an attack on an unsuspecting chocolate almond croissant, sitting there minding its own business. We spent a good hour going through beads and assorted loot.

The show was a lot of fun all three days and Sunday was fantastic. Packed with people all day and I had such great conversations. The classes I taught went well, and it looks like I'll be offering a third, different class in March, so stay tuned.

The next Gem Expo will be held the final weekend of March Break when everyone will be back from their holidays! Whoo hoo! See you then. In the meantime, you can find me every Saturday morning 7:00 a.m. until noon at the Woodstock Farmers Market on Nellis Street. I'm also taking part in the Quarter Auction on December 7th next door in the Auditorium, and on Sunday, December 17th I'll be at the Burnt Brick Cafe on Dundas Street in downtown Woodstock.

Thursday 22 June 2017

Woodstock Agricultural Society Quarter Auction FUNdraiser TONIGHT!!!!!

Woodstock Agricultural Society Quarter Auction FUNdraiser

Woodstock Auditorium at the Fairgrounds
7:00-9:30 p.m.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 
This is a fundraiser to support the FREE ADMISSION to the Fair in August in Celebration of Canada's 150th!

Doors open 6:30 pm, Auction 7 - 9:30. 
$5 admission includes your first paddle
Paddles are $5.00 each 
Two paddles for $8.00 or Three for $10.00 

Light refreshments and a cash bar will be available.

BONUS!!! Refreshments available: Todd's Dogs will be there and a cash bar with wine, beer and possibly coolers. Come for dinner and bid on really great items.  

This is your chance to get great items for a 25-cent bid, also do some relaxed shopping from the farmers market vendors themselves -- and no getting up early on Saturday morning! (But you can still come in your jammies if tonight's event is past your bedtime).
I will be one of the vendors and have lots of exclusive new items to bid on or buy. Grad is fast approaching and there are birthdays and Christmas to shop for.
See you TONIGHT!  
at the Woodstock Auditorium on Nellis Street.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

If you fear change...

The Cavern bar/resto at the HI-Toronto youth hostel where I stayed this past weekend. I really, really like it there!

See you all at the Woodstock Farmers Market this Saturday with all my Toronto Gem Show goodies. I got lots of new beads to make chakra bracelets, as well as earrings and pendants!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday 18 April 2017

4-Daycation coming up!

Leaving Friday morning for four days in Toronto to go to the gem show at the Don Mills Arena. Staying at HI-Toronto again. Other than the show on Saturday with pals, I'm planning nothing more than a slow meander.

Here are some pix from the past few trips to Tronna.

A typical dorm room at HI-Toronto:

A traditional straw broom from Iqbal's, Toronto:

Salami d'amour from Pusateri's Avenue Road:

Totally forgot to document my table setup at the Gem Expo this time. This shows the point at which I gave up on Thursday night. The classes were held behind this table in the bay window of the ballroom. A curtain was put up between my table and the classrooms.

I've moved almost entirely over to clear plastic stacking display boxes and I was able to pretty much get two tables' worth of beads on the one table, yet all were clearly visible. Because so many of my beads now live permanently in these boxes, setup was waaaaay faster than all the other shows. And I think people rather liked the treasure hunt, poking in and around items on the table. I was told several times it was my nicest display yet.

Once again, we ended up at the Jason George for dinner. Ruth's sandwich was fabulous. The Kaiser bun wasn't one of those flabby soft things that passes for Kaisers these days. Crunchy crust!

The show was so busy I barely got a chance to leave my table, but I did buy lots of blue Afghan turquoise heishi...

...which looks gorgeous with my new raven skull pendant.

Thanks for stopping by -- and maybe see you in Toronto!

Pee Ess... Lianne the Vintage Lady will be putting out some of my jewellery at the Woodstock Farmers Market on Saturday while I'm away.

Monday 17 April 2017

Peacock Pearl Chain & Raku Scarab Flask Pendant...

A few words on selling and marketing -- Techniques? Strategies? -- and developing customer loyalty and trust. I think of it as the customer being the brains and I'm the hands, and to me this is a true collaborative partnership.

This is the fourth chain I've made in this style for Winter. One was for herself, and three were gifts to pals. This one in particular was made with tinned copper wire, peacock potato pearls and silver-plated skull beads. Winter roams the Internet acquiring goodies, and she really likes these raku-fired flask pendants.

Two raku flask necklaces that I forgot to photograph in November/December were made with copper wire and copper-coloured pearls, which also looked great. Those particular flasks had a lot of copper in the blue glaze.

Winter is always bringing me odd pendants and broken necklaces or too-short necklaces and we discuss options. I re-string, use leather, make or re-use chains and combine all kinds of different items to make her visions come true. Because she's doing all the designing and decision-making, I can give her a much better price than I might otherwise charge on something I'd spend my time designing. To me, this type of customer is a joy to work with.

Nuts and bolts: accounting for interruptions -- you know, vital things like drinking coffee, grazing for free samples, visiting -- at the farmers market on Saturday, I think this 24" necklace took me about 1.5 to 2 hours to put together, I used about 2/3 of a string of inexpensive pearls, some skull beads, jump rings and an oversize clasp. In case it needs adjusting, I make these chains in segments, joining them with various combos of jump rings.

Now back to the real world of deadlines and day job.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday 15 April 2017


Working flat out these days -- crazy hours. Managed 20 minutes on my minuscule deck yesterday in the hot sun and too cold wind to -- gasp! -- read a book and eat lunch. Then it was back to typing. I'm surrounded here by carpets of snowdrops, bluebells and purple violets.

On other fronts, I became a great-aunt a week ago... here is Etta, age 1 week. She's a cutie.

Off to Toronto again in a few days on another buying trip. Hope to see you at the market in a few hours. Check out my new skulls, chakra pendants, turquoise, lapis, peridot and citrine rings from Montreal, lapis earrings and bracelets, plus rudraksha and sandalwood beads to wear as they are or have custom made into a necklace.

The Woodstock Farmers Market, at the fairgrounds on Nellis Street, 7:00 a.m. to noon every Saturday.

Monday 20 February 2017

2,300 Pinterest Saves To Date -- Crystal Suncatchers

Crystal & copper suncatchers on Pinterest and here on my blog.

I can't believe how popular these little suncatchers have been. I still have lots more for sale at the Woodstock Farmers Market every Saturday morning. They're so easy and inexpensive to make: use up scraps of wire and stray beads.

I'll be teaching you how to make these and all kinds of dangles, ear wires, chain wraps, etc.in my class:

on Saturday, March 18th

at the

Hyatt Regency Ballroom
King Street West, 

Class size is limited, so sign up early. Bonus: you get free admission for all three days of the show when you sign up for any class. Subscribe and get up-to-the-minute info by email on everything Gem Expo: vendors, classes.

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Gem Expo Classes are Posted...

The Gem Expo 
Toronto Hyatt Regency 
King Street West
March 17th, 18th & 19th, 2017

Sign up early! 
Take any class and get three full days' admission!

Questions about my classes, 
please email me 
or ask below. 

Totally Addicting Stretch Stacker/Mala Bracelets

Tools, Tips & Tricks

Wednesday 25 January 2017

March 2017 Gem Expo in Toronto... & Class Info...

Yes, it's confirmed -- I WILL be at The Gem Expo at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on King Street in Toronto March 17th, 18th and 19th. Hope to see you all there. It's on the final weekend of March break when everyone -- well, a lot of you -- will be back from holidays, Sign up for any class(es) and get free admission for all three days.

In addition to all the usual goodies at my table, I'll be offering two classes:

Totally Addicting Stretch Stacker/Mala Bracelets

The Totally Addicting Stretch Stacker/Mala Bracelets class is intended for complete and utter beginners, but it'll still be an interesting and informative class for anyone of any age who wants to learn a new technique. I'll supply beads and Stretch Magic in the kit and there will be plenty of beads to buy, but participants are encouraged to bring their own beads and findings -- and there's a whole ballroom full of vendors with beautiful beads, too.

Class size will be limited to 8 participants, so sign up early. 

Wire Tips & Tricks

My Wire Tips & Tricks class is for not-so-beginners to intermediate students. You've already taken some classes, maybe you're new to wire or looking to improve your techniques to attain a more professional, finished look to your jewellery, or maybe you're ready to turn your hobby into a business and need to develop more efficient production skills.

We'll walk through an overview of tools, different wire and findings properties: features to look for, what's good for what, what to avoid, where to buy, the pleasures and pitfalls of buying online, how to buy wholesale, etc. If you're curious about what's involved in selling at craft shows or store/consignment venues, we can talk about that, as well.

Because you're a not-so-beginner, I want to move fast through the yackety-yack in order to get to the making part of the class.

I've been an artist most of my life, and have made and sold wire and semi-precious jewellery for about ten years, Since I'm a production person by nature and because time is money, I figure out the easiest way to make something and then I get really fast at it.

I'll show you techniques I've developed so you can quickly and consistently make your own ear wires, dangles and other findings, wire-wrapped beads for earrings and chains, and we'll cover some very basic wire-weaving tips and tricks.

Please feel free to bring a project with you for either a quick critique or help if you're stuck.

Class size will be limited to 8 participants, so sign up early. 

I'll let you know here and on my Facebook page when the classes are posted. Subscribe to The Gem Expo to get discount coupons, vendor list and info on the other classes being offered.

If you have further questions please ask below, or email me.

In the meantime, see you every Saturday morning at the Woodstock Farmers Market. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Good Bye 2016... Hello, 2017, Year of the 2Daycation...

2016 was a miserably painful year on so many, many fronts. Good riddance, I say.

My Christmas Tree table at the market this year:

My new invention is the 2Daycation wherein I leave home around noon on one day and leave Toronto the next day noonish, to get back late afternoon or early evening. Gone only 24 hours or so, but straddling two days, it feels satisfyingly substantial.

Tuesday after Christmas I checked into the HI-Toronto Hostel on Church Street  (yep, with three roomies, bunk beds, etc.) and proceeded to have myself a very, very nice time.

The great thing about this hostel is that it's walking distance to just about everything I wanted to do. I met up with Ruth and Christopher, for whom I was bringing lots of fetishes, a few blocks away at the St. Lawrence Market, we did some oohing and aahing over all the bead and crystal goodies, and then Ruth and I went to The Jason George for dinner. It was so freakin' GOOD and very relaxing. Knowing I didn't have to spend three hours driving home in the dark afterwards like I'd normally do, a 1/2 pint of Alexander Keith's was involved.

Wednesday morning, I hung out at Pusateri's in Sak's for an hour or two drinking cafe latte and watching all the people speedwalking through the underground tunnels to work. There's something so mesmerising about watching people go to work when you don't have to. Stocked up on goodies (vanilla bean paste, in particular) at Pusateri's, then on beads and findings when the wholesaler opened at 10:00, then met Ruth at Little India on Queen West where we had another fantastic meal, and then headed home -- in daylight.

I highly, highly recommend the 2Daycation concept to anyone who is going more than a little nutso with whatever pressures they're under but with little time to vacate.

In the interest of escaping further, even for a few hours, one morning after New Year's Lianne the Vintage Lady and I had breakfast at Burger Barn on the Six Nations Reserve south of Brantford. Fabulous, fabulous food, all locally sourced, and super high octane coffee.

Yesterday -- because 2017 has hereby been declared The Year of Being Nice to Me -- I decided that the grey hair had to go and tried out Allanti, a school here in Woodstock that I had never heard of before. Such a beautifully renovated old barn, and they do everything from basic hair cuts and colours to mysterious spa thingies. Allow (a lot of) extra time for your appointment because these are students, after all, but they really do a fine job and for very, very reasonable rates.

Five hours later...

My face was kinda frozen here, it being outside and all, but I'm doing a happy dance inside.

Happy New Year to everyone, and pleasepleaseplease let 2017 be a much better, if not absolutely great year for us all. I promise to make more and post more, too.