isavirtue | building an aesthetic

about a year ago, i turned to my friend bonnie, pointed at a wall of coloured cardstock and said "see how these colours work together? that's how i want my stationery shop to look."

for years i've been purchasing my cardstock paper at local shops, or franchise hobby stores. and sometimes i still do. but i realized that by doing so, i was letting the limited selection dictate what i created and sold. what i should have been doing was dictating what i wanted, and then making an effort to find it.

so i finally took the plunge and ordered cardstock online from the same company that made the paper i pointed out to my friend. it was a painful purchase because the company ships from the states, and their product prices are not inexpensive or even very competitive. but they have unique colours that inspire me and speak to the aesthetic i want to achieve in my shop.

for almost a year i only sold black and white stationery. after that i added in pink, and then grey. when i finally decided to add all the colours of the rainbow, i was excited for a bit, but quickly knew i'd made a mistake. i'd done it backwards again! i made envelopes in every colour in an effort to please...well, everyone. even though i hate the colour orange, only like certain yellows, and have never been able to figure out how to make primary green work...all of these hues were available at isavirtue.

so over the past year i tried to reconnect which the shop that i envisioned. i'm hyper aware when it comes to online shops (and brick and mortar as well) that products affect each other. if they don't look good together, they won't be appealing to consumers.

i've scaled down my colour range now, but also added a number of metallics. i'm focusing on the theme of snail mail, and expanding my font range (but still keeping in touch with what i think looks good). i'm also limited the number of pictorial images i sell - although many are popular and available for profitable use, they aren't mine. which means if i ever want my work to be featured on blogs and magazines, i have to provide pieces that consist of my own design. it's also confusing for buyers who often want custom image order - like last month when i was asked if i could "do a kitten playing with a ball of yarn" - that's not the vibe i want my store to give out!

i'm posting this today because i think i'm finally there. i've achieved the look i want and the products work well together. there's still some pieces i wish weren't in the collection (like this, or this), but it would be silly to unlist them when their purchaser soulmate is out there somewhere!*
*and hey, if that's you, email me and i'll give you a discount code ;)


baby | cliches & repetition

before i joined the ranks of parents around the world, i had heard all the cliches. 
"you won't be getting any sleep!"
"you should rest now, you won't be able to once the baby is born!"
"you'll never stop doing laundry!"
"it's a full time job!"
"get ready for some dirty diapers!"
"the time when they are so little will be gone so fast!"

but i've realized now that there is a huge difference between hearing something, and understanding it as the truth. i feel like i should have asked questions when these cliches arose; i should have delved deeper. for example: 

"why don't you get to sleep?"
"will i not have time to read a book or work at my computer?"
"like how often am i actually washing clothes?"
"why does everyone mention diapers so much?"
"won't every hour feel like it's inching by with a baby?"

and now i know the answers: you don't get to sleep because the baby needs to be fed every few hours. during the day you are a constant sentinel. and when he does sleep, you never know whether it's for twenty minutes or two hours. you might be able to find 5 minute increments and you may even find a way to use two hands but for the most part, the baby just wants to be held. you are washing clothes every other day (that's just the baby's stuff). going through three or more outfits in a day is totally normal - plus burp cloths, towels, sheets etc. diapers feel all consuming because you do it more than ten times a day - and ya, it's kind of gross. surprisingly, although time seems to tick by slowly when you are trying to calm a fussy baby, you are so consumed with keeping it alive and getting to "The Next Thing That Will Calm" that suddenly it's a week later. and then another week, and then another.

speaking of the next thing, holy goodness repetition city yo. i feed this little sniff, and then i change him. then i put new clothes on him, then cuddle or talk or soothe. and then it's time to feed again followed by...you guessed it - more changing! all day long it's this pattern over and over. more specifically it's feed, burp, change, clothe, swaddle, cuddle, sleep. sometimes we fit in an outdoor walk or a period of time the what to expect lady calls "quiet wakefulness" - or as i like to call it "The Time I Can Do All The Things." 

it's funny because i like repetitive tasks. when i worked as a server i liked rolling cutlery. when i'm at the gym i like to use the weight machines and do "reps." when i make my stationery, i love creating in bulk. the look and meditative nature of repetition pleases me. but those things have an ultimate goal - i fill the bin with cutlery and go home, i do some thigh crunches and eventually gain muscle, i cut and paste envelopes and when i've created 25 for a custom order, i'm done! but with a baby i have trouble seeing the finish line - because there isn't one. and if there is it's so grandiose and long term i can't really focus on it.

in order not to sound to negative (i'm just working out my feelings ya'll!*) i'm going to share one sweet thing** each time i do a baby post.
the thing: when jackson wakes up, especially in the morning when the sun has come up, and he has slept for just a bit longer than normal, he is sweetness beyond words. i unwrap his swaddle to let out his limbs and he stretches out his whole body in the most adorable way. his face contorts as he yawns and pushes his arms into the air. he's so cute when he does this that i find myself wanting to eat his face. not literally of course, but i want to swallow his cuteness up in such a way that it becomes part of me and i can have it all the time. luckily he's hungry which means he's going to let out a cry anyways - so i use this opportunity to ferciously kiss him all over.

* i'm sorry i just said "ya'll" ya'll
** i can't promise it will only be one thing - he's so cute!


isavirtue | on bloglovin'

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art | hukurou illustration

when i lived in victoria, my mother came to visit in early march. granted it snowed while she was there - a freak storm that was entirely unexpected at that time of year on that particular coast. but despite that, she kept commenting on how green everything was - the trees, the grass and even the flowers and shrubs (she planted flowers in my garden during aforementioned snowfall so that should tell you something). but still i didn't get her exclamatory statements about the greeness. i guess after having lived there for seven months, i was already jaded and took it for granted how alive the land was year round!

but now, living in ontario and seeing the snow melt - i'm reminded at how winter ravages everything. the ground is brown and muddy, all of the trees are bare and everything is dead. i have no doubt it will snow again, even in april. still, the weather has warmed a bit, and when i open the windows i can hear beautiful birdsongs all day long.

i love the illustrative nature of these artworks. though i couldn't find much about the artist, hukurou illustration can be found here. like the scene outside my window, there is a hint of colour and an abstraction of sunshine that makes me hope for spring.


baby | a newborn photoshoot

this is just a little photoshoot of my new mini human. here's jackson john, working all his angles!

baby | birth announcements

although i knew the first few weeks with the little sniff would be hectic, i felt i would be remiss (as a lover, advocate and purveyor of snail mail) if i didn't mail out birth announcements. so, even with the new canada post costs for lettermail, i chose a small selection of family and friends and sent out some simple postcards.

i have this snail mail themed "delivered with love" stamp...and i'm totally tickled by how it works in this scenario. because the little sniff was delivered with love as well! i embossed that statement on the front in raised silver ink. and on the back i created a postcard with jackson's pertinent birth info. for funsies, i matched the style to the shower thank-you cards we sent out last month.


art vs. art | linnea strid vs. alyssa monk

while getting my artsy forager fix this past week i came across this post on the artwork of linnea strid. i was struck by the similarity between her images of water on the human face and a previous collection of artwork by alyssa monk

both artists depict variations on similar themes; including faces floating just beneath the water's surface, and steamy shower scenes (not that kind!). while i prefer the expert realism of alyssa's hand, there is something about linnea's portraits that feel contemplative. her faces appear to be using the water as a way to hide, or let go. whereas monk's women come across as somewhat playful, and more relaxed.

linnea strid

alyssa monk


baby | the first week

it's been a week since we became parents and wow - what a ride. and when i say ride, i specifically mean gigantic emotional rollercoaster

the first few nights spent with our little sniff were confusing. we didn't understand how to manage his needs and despite all of our prep, when you realize you are suddenly in charge of a miniature human being...well, it's downright terrifying! and when that little bean is screaming and you are blundering your way through changes, feeds and various forms of cuddling, it's really more a game of "let's not kill the baby." so we stayed awake (i use that term very loosely) and took turns trying to care for him. 

on the worse nights, we are getting about three hours of sleep. we do all the things you are supposed to do, and then we rock and soothe, rock and soothe. but still he doesn't comply with our deepest wishes (that he go to sleep).

in the better (quieter) moments, i am so amazed at this beautiful human being that we created. granted i am biased but every part of him is truly perfect. in no particular order i love his nose, his lips, his eyes, his ears and his teeny tiny digits. and the smell! my god the smell. i always thought it was baby products that smelt like that - but it turns out it's the baby!

i look forward to getting to know little jackson more as the days, weeks, months, and years go by. 


canada post | price increases 2014

irony at it's best

in order to be organized pre-baby arrival, i had to go through my etsy stationery shop and update all of the shipping costs to align with the canada post changes taking place april 1, 2014. thank goodness my other online business is connected to canada post and shipping costs will be calculated for me. in mid december, canada post announced a number of major changes including lay offs, reduced door to door delivery, and major price increases:

i had a heck of a time trying to find the actual price increases as the only ones which had been announced were the changes to the cost of single stamps vs. coils and packs. the increased weights for domestic mailings were difficult to find and the new cost of u.s. and international postage was almost impossible to locate. as it was evening, i ended up calling a post office on the west coast to find out. she told me the prices and then laughed and said "we actually just found out ourselves a day ago. they told us before they told everyone else...which is new."

i have not been able to figure out whether parcel costs will increase (i hope not, it already costs me 8 dollars to send these to the states, but 14 dollars to send one to canada - how does that make sense??). i did find one source that said parcel costs will remain the same so i'm crossing my fingers. to assist others, i have listed some april 2014 canada post letterpost prices below. there are two more levels with even higher weights/rates, but unless you're sending centimetre thin sheets of silver or cd's made of gold, i don't think those will really come into play.

can i call your attention to the cost of international postage?
dear australian and united kingdom stationery customers,
thank-you for your years of dedicated patronage and interest in my creations. i totally get it however, if you no longer purchase from my shop because these shipping costs are insane. to send one pack of $2.50 paper costs $2.50. that's painful no?

up to 29 grams
CAN: $1.00 (or .85 in a coil/pack)
US: $1.20
INTL: $2.50 (!!)

30-50 grams
CAN: $1.20
US: $1.80
INTL: $3.60 (!!)

51-100 grams
CAN: $1.80
US: $2.95
INTL: $5.19 (!!)

pregnancy 1.5 | anxiety

i want to talk about anxiety. mainly because it's a feeling i've been trying to avoid for about a month now (before that i spent eight months just trying to convince myself i was pregnant). i actually had a weird bout of it back in february but it didn't feel related to the impending labour...it felt like more of a general overall anxiety. we were away for a long weekend getaway at the time so maybe i was just subconsciously nervous about being away from home.

when it comes to me + upcoming events, i always put more pressure and emphasis on the waiting then the actual event. dinner parties, job interviews, dentist appointments, exhibition openings...even if it's nothing to be nervous about and my mind is at ease, my body tells me otherwise and i'm always full of butterflies beforehand.

when it comes to pregnancy though, i knew i couldn't let myself be nervous about something for nine whole months. i developed some coping skills (which mainly consist of telling myself to "calm the eff down!") and relaxation techniques (which mainly consist of afternoon naps in the sunshine). nights are pretty scary - i wake up every hour and something about the darkness and the shadows sends my mind reeling but i force myself to wait for morning when 'everything will be fine.'

so with my due date looming, i would say i'm actually doing okay. with every day that passes in which i maintain my sanity, i consider it a grand success.

missed the nursery pics? click here.