Saturday, December 18, 2010

Life Hacks

My boyfriend follows this site called "Life Hacker".
What they do, is basically give random tips to life: from cooking, to financing, to electronics. It's a compilation of quick-fixes and do-it yourself. Personally, I haven't explored the site too much, but I like the concept. When I finished making a case for my new electronic book, I thought "hey, this makes me think of the hack concept".
So here is the "How to hack your own electronic book case".

Instead of buying a ready-made case (I think my dad said it cost somewhere close to 50-60$), I made one out of an agenda cover. Not too complicated, cheep and exactly the way I want it.
Unfortunately, my photos are not step by step, but here it is in a nutshell:
Step 1:
Find a hard-cover outdated agenda (outdated simply because it costs less) the size of your e-book and with a pattern or texture you like.
Step 2:
Take out the agenda part, you'll only be needing it's cover. In my case, this was really simple because it was a slip-on cover; if it's not, simply rip out the pages.
Step 3:
Secure your e-book to the outer-side or the cover. If, like in my case, you found a slip-on cover, simply cut out the desired curve to be able to slip in your e-book in place of the agenda. If not, you will have to create corners to secure it. This can be done by sewing on or securely gluing on elastics (diagonally, at the corner of your cover); by finding large photo-corners; or by making the corners out of a nice solid cardboard or fabric. Personally, I think elastic bands would be your best bet.
Step 4:
Secure your e-book to the inner-side of the cover. The way I did it should work in most cases, simply secure an elastic band to the cover and slip your device in.
Step 5:
If you wish, add something on the opposite side of the cover: a photo, notepad, even a mini pocket folder! I glued a piece of cardboard under my notepad, because the book-cover itself was not hard cover and I wanted an extra protection to come over the screen when it is folded.
Step 6:
If you book cover has no way of closing on it's own (some come with clasps or close shut with magnets) then you can easily attach an elastic band to do the job.

Voila, your custom-made, unique and personalized case is now complete!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Comme dans les films

I realize more and more that real life is just like they show it in the movies. No, I don't mean that you can save your friend from a fatal fall by clinging on to his pinkie; I don't mean that some random guy will pop out of nowhere and slow-motion karate-kick the robber in your house; I don't mean that a heroic love interest will burst into a burning building to, bare-handedly retrieve your cat. What I mean is, these things happen: fires, robberies, love affairs, divorces, earthquakes, domestic violence, that's to name a few. These this happen around you. They're not just some far-off reality in the news or some Hollywood invention or part of an harlequin novel. They are there, around you. I personally know people who have suffered every one of the things I mentioned, and I myself have witnessed a couple in my life.

Realizing thins makes me see that life isn't as constant as it may seem. It makes me see the importance of living in the moment. If you're happy in the here and the now, it doesn't matter what happened before. or even what will happen after.

Friday, December 10, 2010

“If you never change your mind, why have one?”

I've realized recently that whatever discussion I seem to have, it leads me to change my mind about what ever I originally believed in. Not because I was convinced to think otherwise, but due to the fact that it gave me the opportunity to think things over, analyze and come out with a fresh result. It's like taking out a book that has been sitting on a dusty shelf, flipping through it and rewriting bits and pieces. Often, only to realize that you have to re-write them again, that there was something missing or that you no longer hold some parts true.
I often tend to take on the defensive in discussions, this makes discussing with different people interesting because I'm contradicting different things.
It's actually quite nice to be able to change your mind. People change, circumstances change, life changes. Why shouldn't your mind?

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I've missed my blog. Countless times I've found myself thinking of a subject for a blog entry and never got around to actually writing it. Now, I've finished my most urgent piece of schoolwork (and am on my my to finishing my semester!); I'm sitting in bed bundled up in a scarf, after having tried to south my coughing by breathing minty steam; and I've still got some time before I have to brave the outside to get to work. As good a time as any to write.

I'm not a big fan of winter clothes... is it just me, who's warmest clothes look inelegant? are those skanks wearing skinny jeans, tightly fitted jackets and boots that look like they're paper thin, actually warm? Something makes me doubt that... As for me, I've just barely gotten over a cold and there are five feet of snow outside, do I want to be warm or sexy? Warm. Thank you.
(However... I do find my wooly mitten-gloves quite sexy despite their warmth =P )

I'm twenty years old. When one of my friends was turning twenty, she said she didn't feel like she had anything to show for it. It got me thinking.
My first thought was "what about me? what do I have to show for it?"
I think I'm quite happy with my overall self-reflection.
It's true that I'm still at college for an other session, while most of the people I went to high-school with will be finishing up their first year at university. But, seriously, where's the rush? What's the point of always wanting to run on and on? Why does finishing college in two years make you a success? You followed the system, here have a gold star! Bull-shit. If you did and you enjoyed it, good for you! If you're on the path you've always dreamed to be on, even better. If, however, you sped through those two years simply in oder to get to the next step, you're more lost than the guy who finished college in five years. Live. Life is not about the destination, but about the journey you take to get there.
But I'm getting thoroughly off track.
Bottom line: I'm happy with my schooling. I've loved my teachers and classes and I think I'm actually learning something worthwhile. To add to that, I'm also on the right track. On the right track to where I want to be. I'm in the child studies program and working at a daycare. Both make me very happy.
What else? Twenty, twenty. I'm twenty and I have a stable relationship with my boyfriend. This I find is also important. Here, I'm not going to start critiquing people who aren't in a relationship or who've been jumping from one to the next. For the former, it's like I said, where's the rush? you'll find it when you will. For the latter, it's life experience, learn from it.
Twenty. I'm twenty and I do draw and pose for nude art. As strange as it might sound, this makes me feel mature and proud. It's a bit funny because it's a loop: I draw nudes and pose because I'm mature enough to appreciate it but part of why I like it is because it makes me feel mature.


The style is a little rough, but I felt like making a potpourri of thoughts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Take your life into your own hands

Or, if you can't, then take it with your feet. I've just read the story of an amazing woman who, born with no arms, does more with her life than most of us do.

"Motivational speaker Jessica Cox has
earned two black belts in Taekwondo,
plays the piano, and on October 11, 2008
became the first person without arms
to earn a pilot’s license. Yep, you read that right.
Jessica does everything with her feet,
including putting in her contact lenses!"

This is not, by far, the only motivational story I've heard, that inspires me to do so much. Yet, why do I still find it hard to make time for at least a fraction of the projects that develop in my head, but don't really get anywhere? Maybe some of us are deprived of something, but, instead, given so much more. Others, who seemingly have got it all, must realize on their own to what extent they are powerful creators of their own lives. No one can show you the extent of your knowledge, your potential, your strength, aside from you. Sometimes I feel like the only way of truly living is to constantly push the boundaries. Perhaps I haven't done much of this in my life, perhaps I never will, perhaps this moment of inspiration is a fleeting one. One thing I know for sure is that no one can impose limits on you, other than yourself, and being born with a defect like Jessica's is only sad if you allow it to be so.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Every time I go substitute at daycare, I feel like I'm being submerged into a sea of activity. The nice kind, the kind of activity that makes you happy to be alive.
As soon as I come in, it's a flood. A flood of curious questions, proud remarks and general affection. I barely have the time to answer that my name is Anna (to those who don't know me yet, or forgot), say a friendly "Salut! Ca va bien?" to one of the more familiar kids and record that one little girl is going to be Cinderella for Halloween, when it seems like all the kids are suddenly around me, telling me about their costumes, asking me for my name again, asking if I remember them, talking about... God know what! I just have the time to flash a smile here, give a hug there and give out a few general comments ("Aw, c'est bien ca!" "Ooo, que c'est interessant!"), only half aware what I'm commenting on and who I'm telling it to. By the time the kids line up for the bathroom, the commotion settles a bit and I get a moment to breath. "Wow, I've missed this! I realize, I'm back in my element."
My element, that's all I can call it, because it makes me happy. Even with the most difficult kids, you have nice, tender moments or moments that make you wanna stretch you mouth into a grin so wide your jaw ends up hurting.
"Je suis tanante des fois!"
"Je raffole des fruits de mer!" (coming from a four-year-old)
How can you not smile at that?
Of course these are dispersed among other moments, less entertaining ones (or rather, entertaining, but in a different way).
"Il a pris mon jouet!"
"Mais elle en a deja deux!"
Damn, dilemma! One the one hand, I can't encourage taking without asking, on the other hand, I can't encourage hogging either!
"Bon, si vous ne pouvez pas vous entendre, c'est moi qui prends le jouet!"
Fair enough? Who ever thought that working at a daycare improved your diplomacy skills?
I guess what I'm really trying to do is transmit a bit of what I feel and maybe, just maybe, get you to smile once or twice.
Moral of the story: daycare rocks.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Work is a funny thing... When you don't have any, you're bored, you waste your time and to top it all, you don't have any income flowing in. So whith a prospect of a job, you get excited, you feel like this is exacyly what you need, you're ready to take on the world. Suppose you get a job, any job really. Ah! What a feeling of self fufilment! Then, inevitably, you realise: " wait a minute... Does this mean I acctually have to work? No one mentioned that!" Suddenly, all that time you used to kill doesn't seem so fruitless... Insted, it takes on the proportions of someting esencial, you start being protective of it. However, as soon as you're free again, (guess what?) that time is once again going more or less down the drain and boredome settles in. Thus, the patadox of work.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Simple Food

Ever since I started studying at Dawson College, the odd-timed breaks, the lack of "lunch companions" and the proximity and variety of fast-food restaurants got me steadily addicted to what I call "out" food. I don't know what they put in that stuff, but it's seriously addicting. Some days, when I would be at home, I'd find myself opening a full fridge and closing it right after, longing for "out food". Thankfully, I managed to ween myself off this stuff, because it was becoming too much for my wallet and my body. Now, I still eat at fast-food restaurants obviously and rarely pack a lunch, but at least I can appreciate home-made food fully.
I no longer consider "out" food to be tastier than what I make at home, it's simply an alternative to save time. In fact, I find home-made food absolutely delicious. Even the simplest foods can
taste twice as good as anything you could get at a fast-food restaurant. For instance, today, I made myself fried potatoes and sour-crout salad (very typical Russian food) and enjoyed it as much as I would enjoy any gourmet food, and much more than my usual "out" food.
Simple married delicious and had a party in my mouth.

If you're interested:
The potatoes were simply fried over medium fire on vegetable oil (if you can get sunflower oil, it's even better). Add a bit of salt to taste and, if you so wish, chopped onions. Beats french fries any day (unless said fries are made into poutine, it that case it becomes a different dish and can't be compared).
The sour-crout was store-bought, but I add grape-seed oil and red onions to make the taste pop.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Proverb of the Day

Better late than never.
Trust me, it's true. Only in exceptional cases is it better to not do something at all rather than do it late. Once again, trust me on this one, school projects are not the exception to this rule. Teachers are glad to recieve work at any time. Sure, only if you give things in on time are you a really good stdent, but if you couldn't achieve that, would you rather be a student that has potential but is not using it to the maximum, or the demotivated student who doesn't give a rat's tail for school? I'd pick the former, and I know a teacher prefers that too.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Alors On Dance

Qui dit étude dit travail,
Qui dit taf te dit les thunes,
Qui dit argent dit dépenses,
Qui dit crédit dit créance,
Qui dit dette te dit huissier,
Oui dit assis dans la merde.
Qui dit Amour dit les gosses,
Dit toujours et dit divorce.
Qui dit proches te dis deuils car les problèmes ne viennent pas seul.
Qui dit crise te dis monde dit famine dit tiers- monde.
Qui dit fatigue dit réveille encore sourd de la veille,
Alors on sort pour oublier tous les problèmes.
Alors on danse…
Et la tu t'dis que c'est fini car pire que ça ce serait la mort.
Qu'en tu crois enfin que tu t'en sors quand y en a plus et ben y en a encore!
Ecstasy dis problème les problèmes ou bien la musique.
Ca t'prends les trips ca te prends la tête et puis tu prie pour que ça s'arrête.
Mais c'est ton corps c’est pas le ciel alors tu t’bouche plus les oreilles.
Et là tu cries encore plus fort et ca persiste...
Alors on chante
Lalalalalala, Lalalalalala,
Alors on chante
Lalalalalala, Lalalalalala

Alors on chante
Et puis seulement quand c’est fini, alors on danse.
Alors on danse
Et ben y en a encore


When I think about it, I don't really have all that many problems, and the ones I do have are rather small. Yet, I can't help but adopt an escapist attitude every time they appear. My current escape is novels. And while it may be good to be able to forget your worries for a while, living like an emu, with your head in the ground, is not a solution. Time to wake up.

However, no one says you can't sing and dance while facing your problems...

... alors on chante
Lalalalalala, Lalalalalala

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Over the summer I planed on sewing a handbag and when I realized the fabric that I bought was not sturdy enough for that purpose, I was left with a couple of meters of polka-dot fabric and nothing to show for it. Now I finally started putting it to good use: making a pouch for my bus pass, that I'm constantly misplacing, and a cover case for my ottoman that was starting to look quite worn. Very useful and not too complicated.
It has a string attached to it, taken from my old camera, so I can put it around my wrist. Handy for in between bus and metro situations.

It was my first time sewing anything with an elastic... I think it worked out just fine.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Once again, foiled by marketing. Well this is embarassing. I can not believe how easily marketing and advertisement gets to me and my only relief is that I'm aware of it and trying to overcome the temptation that always arises.
As of this morning:
Advertisement: 1
Anna: 0
For a while now I've been avoiding SecondCup drinks as I find them far too sweet. Personal oppinion here. It's just that, if you're going to pay that much and not enjoy it, it's not worth it. That gets me to this morning: while waiting for the photo center to open, so I can re-do my Opus card, I thought of getting a coffee. Right near the place is a SecondCup. Ok, I think, I'll just get a small regular coffee and put in it what I like... Little did I know that I would think otherwise as soon as I walked in. In front of me, barring half the enterance sits a poster portaing a tempting looking pumpkin latte.
"Ohhh! Look at that" says a little voice in my head.
"No, I reply, it's too sweet, I don't like their lattes anymore, and they all taste the same"
"But you haven't had one in ages! Come on!"
Damn you little voice! You're too easily distracted by pretty pictures and you have the attention span of a gold-fish allong with the stubbornness of a mule! Of course, against my better judgement, I got the pumpkin latte. Now, some ten minutes later, I sit here writting, trying to distract myself from the thought that a simple coffe would have been so much more satisfying. Don't you worry marketting, I'll get back at you!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Today, I was helping my eight-year-old sister, Alice, with her homework and realized just why I want to be a teacher: I want to teach children my way. I don't doubt that my sister's teacher is good at what she does, but I can see that her way won't be my way of teaching. I disagree with the lack of precision and guidance given by some teacher. I've noticed this in my sister's homework and in the work given to some of my tutees. Allow me to explain where this reflection comes from. Most children in grade school write a dictation every week and are given vocabulary words to study beforehand. My criticism falls on the way these lists of words are give: no theme or rule linking them and no explanation given as to the meaning. Words seem to be given at random and children are expected to know the meaning or ask their parents. The problem is, how many children are voluntarily going to ask the meaning of a word unless told to do so? Not many. It's typical with children and, frankly, with adults too, unless they are very serious, thorough learner, to skip over the things they aren't specifically asked to do.
"Are there any word you did't understand?"
"What does claim mean?"
I realize that there are exceptions to this rule and there are people who will ask and double check; but these are exceptional learners.
Just like it's not of much use asking most students open ended questions (i.e. "did you understand?" instead of "explain to me what you understood"), it's not much use giving them open ended instructions either. For example, my sister was giving the instructions to "search in the dictionary". Search what in the dictionary? "Oh just practice searching in it", says Alice. Now tell me, what kind of eight-year-old would thoroughly execute that type of exercise? After much arguing ("But that's not what we're supposed to do!"), I got her to search the words on her vocabulary list with me, explaining that she was killing two birds with one stone. She ended up enjoying the exercise and I was relieved that, for once, she would know the meaning of every vocabulary word for the test.
I suppose my purpose is not to criticize other teachers or the system, but rather figure out for myself how I want to teach. I want to be the one giving children the extra push towards learning how to learn because not everybody's family is evolved; some parents are too busy, others don't know the language and others still, it's sad to say, simply don't care.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apples and Contentment

Today was a simply beautiful day, the perfect weather for apple picking. And apple picking I went. I'll spare you the details of fawning over baby goats at the mini farm near the orchard, tasting apples from every tree and climbing ladders (and trees) to reach the finest prizes. Instead I wanted to make a reflection about the road home: we got in the car, my four friends and I, and for the first ten minutes of the drive we just... sat there, quietly, simply content. It has happened to me many a time, when, upon returning home from a trip, even a short one, I would just quiet down, sinking in all the day's experience and excitement. Afterwards, one of two things happen, you either fall asleep or you get into calm conversation with your companions But these first moments of serenity, that come after an active day, are pure bliss.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Naked and nude; two seemingly similar words, yet a world of difference in between.

Imagine how you would feel out of place, or even embarrassed being in a bathing-suit on a bus; yet you would feel perfectly comfortable in the same attire on the beach. In the same way, there is no shame attached to artistic nudity. Whether you're looking at, posing for or drawing nude art, you're fully concentrated on the beauty of the thing.

Having done it myself, I know that when you're modeling, you do not feel the least bit naked, but simply nude. It's like an act, a mask you put on. And as soon as you put your bathrobe back on, leaving your modeling role behind, you can talk to the artists, who just moments ago where looking at your body, without the slightest feeling of embarrassment, without reserve. The thought that these people just saw you naked doesn't even pop into your mind because, well, they didn't; they saw you nude. Also, because I've been on the recipient's side, I know that when you look at a model, regardless of his or her build, color or age, you're immersed in looking at the way lines curve, finding the right angles and examining the lights and shadows.

Another point I found interesting is looking at these representations of you later on. You're taking yet another stance, you're now the critic. When I saw a particularly well accomplished drawing, I was surprised not to find the thought I expected: "Ohh! Look at that, that's me!". Instead, I caught myself thinking, "I'm glad I could hold the pose that initiated this work, I'm glad the artist managed to work with it!" A successful drawing speaks for itself: "Thanks for this interesting pose, you inspired me."

Perhaps the last thing I wanted to say on the subject was that nude art, whether I'm drawing or posing, makes me feel mature and purposeful. It makes me feel like I'm not just part of the crowd, in my own way I stand out.

Friday, October 8, 2010


When my mom told me she though I was better off staying away from the art programs in college because I didn't have enough ambition, I was quite hurt. What?! I have plenty of ambition! Look at all the thing I want to do with my life! Now that I think about it, she was totally right... Ambition isn't only about wanting to achieve something, it's about actually getting there. And, to be quite frank, I don't get very far without a deadline, a push or some kind of obligation. I wouldn't be fair with myself if I said that I couldn't get anything done; no, that's not the problem... it's just that I want to do so much more. There are countless ideas that pop into my mind everyday, that I never realize or even just put to paper simply because I'm, well, let's face it, lazy. And whereas I can live with myself when I'm lagging behind with my schoolwork, or even neglecting the cleaning (you have to be lazy in some things!), it just makes me sad when I'm being unproductive with something creative. I just spend too much time thinking and imagining, and not enough time doing!

I've made up my mind. (If I got a dollar for every time I "made up my mind" to do something, I'd be rich! If you look on the other hand at the resolutions I've actually kept... well let's just keep this positive, shall we?) So, like I said, I've made up my mind to keep a daily blog. Although... I think I'll allow myself one missed day a week, just to make sure I don't give it up after three days. On that happy note, let the adventure begin!