giving | how to

the other day i was chatting with my friend over email about gifts for the men in our lives. she asked me what i was planning to get my husband for christmas and so i emailed her the list.

throughout the year i keep lists - in my email, on my iphone, in my moleskine and most importantly - they all get filed into my evernote program (which is gloriously available for mac, as an app for my phone, and accessible online at work!)

the upside to this is that by the time late november arrives, all i have to do is make my way down the list. for someone like my husband, this often means purchasing almost all of the items. for others, like friends, it's about picking one special item from my various ideas.

needless to say that by the time months have passed there will undoubtedly be items that are no longer desirable, or affordable, or even available. but i can usually find some version of them elsewhere, or at a lower cost. some of my best ideas are not specific web page links (which you should really save if at all possible), but often the ramblings that i scramble to write when j hints something to me in june. i.e. print or painting by such and such artist that we noticed on our honeymoon.

i hope some of my habits help you...at least for next year! what are your best gift finding ideas?


mail art | pretty in pink paint chips

i've owed my friend shawna a letter for awhile now but i've been so busy with holiday stationery orders. when j and i were at the hardware store the other day i stealthily snagged a bunch of these beautiful pink paint chips. i made an envelope* out of some of them and then wrote my letter on the rest! i also included a little surprise for her impending birthday celebration...

* can i write an address like that? will it still get delivered if each word is on a different line?


sunday sins | late night snacking

let's talk stairs. whew!

as part of my quest to "give it up and get better" i'll be giving up something naughty for two weeks at a time, in the hope that it will have some sort of lasting effect and i'll continue to refrain from it on some level. so for the last two weeks i have not taken a single elevator ride...well okay, truth? i took a single elevator ride. j actually forced me to take the elevator with him because we were bringing home my new painting (so exciting!! more on that in a couple weeks!!). but i swear, cross my heart that was the only time.

and let me tell you. i wanted to, but i didn't. notable moments that i really wanted to take the elevator instead of climb the stairs included:

+ when i forgot my cell phone upstairs on the very first morning i began this.
+ when i was wearing (what felt like) five inch heels on my birthday.
+ when it had been raining non stop and it felt like i'd spent the whole day waiting for public transit in leaky bus shelters and all i wanted to do was collapse.
+ when i went to visit the artist i work for and he lives on the fourth floor (plus stairs up the entrance)

like i said - whew! but i did it and that's what matters. and i think it's safe to say that now that i know i can do that, i'll allow myself to take the elevator during some of the noted circumstances above.

okay, next up? late night snacking. boy oh boy, this one's gonna be a doozy. i seriously don't know if i can go two weeks without snacking late at night. j and i are the worst for this. we'll just get up and go to the grocery store at 11:30 pm and buy cookies and a tub of ice cream. it's truly wretched and also so delicious! 

i'm thinking i need some self imposed rules so i'm going to go ahead and tell myself that i'm not allowed to eat after nine pm.* i know that may actually seem late to some of you but it's not really for me since i stay up until midnight or one am on average and consume about five snacks during that time. it probably looks something like the above painting of dessert girl by lee price**!

oh geez this is gonna be hell - wish me luck! 

* oh god i'm moaning at the thought of this already!
** i posted more amazing images by lee price here.

p.s. two more days for the 20% cyber weekend sale in my shop :)


black friday/cyber monday weekend sale

hey ladies! just a reminder to let you know that you can receive 20% off all (non holiday) stationery products in my shop this weekend! and all holiday stationery is 50% off! i know - it's crazy right? but i really love you! also, buy three envelope packs and get a beautiful floral writing paper pack free :)

i know that i like...made this stuff, but i truly believe it would make a beautiful gift or stocking stuffer for the holidays. or hey, maybe it's the perfect reminder to someone that you would like to keep in touch!

visit my shop here


feature art friday | sarah applebaum

admittedly i'm not always into textile art. at least, i didn't used to be. i remember one year i was working at a gallery and was told that we were going to have an annual quilt exhibition. i couldn't have been less excited. but boy was i surprised when i saw what those artists had to offer. less traditional "quilt" and more...fabric miracles, those artworks were some of the neatest things i have ever seen. 

until i saw these works by sarah applebaum* that is! i love that these pieces aren't just... pieces, they are full on installations. i sense that walking into a room and seeing these collective works would be a whole experience! 

*warning! freaky image on her home screen...


fifty-two projects | project forty-five

this is project forty of fifty-two projects. for more completed projects click here.

project forty-five | write a one minute autobiography. don't necessarily start at the beginning and don't worry about the ending. once the minute is up, read over what you have written, and then immediately repeat the exercise.

alterations | none, oh, except i obviously stopped at a certain point.

i wasn't in the mood to do another fifty-two projects but i reminded myself how much i like them because they inspire me to do things i wouldn't normally think of. i thought this project was going to be harder than it was but i ended up quite enjoying it. i did have to edit a bit because when you are rushing to type...anything within a minute, you make a couple of mistakes.

i imagine this would make a great exercise for people with writer's block!

minute one |
i was born in etobicoke, which is now called toronto. it's strange to me that my birthplace technically no longer exists. but i do, and that's what really matters i suppose. i don't remember my childhood very well. instead i hold on to, and re-tell, the memories which i remembered years ago.

minute two |
if i could regain the confidence i had in my teenage years i would be delighted. the strange thing of course, is that i didn't know i was confident or that i had high self esteem when i was a youth. in fact if you had asked me then what i loved about myself - instead i might have given you a laundry list of things i despised, both physically and otherwise.

minute three |
when i was in the second, third and fourth years of my undergrad degree, i claimed that the best year of my life thus far as my first year of university. a year in which i learned new things, was introduced to new people and shared new experiences. but then when i moved to victoria to do my undergrad degree, that became the best year of my life. which leads me to believe that potentially, life could keep getting better and better.

mail art | birthday gift + mail art challenge

one of my favourite birthday gifts this month came in the form of this beautiful package below from my friend alex. it was a little worse for wear when it arrived, and i was a little lacking in wear when the postman arrived with it! i literally couldn't find a robe so i just stuck my hand out the door for the mail! *awkward*

contained inside the envelope was an endless number of art cards, gallery invites and exhibition catalogues. it made me a little homesick because i used to love collecting these goodies and crafting with them when alex and i worked the front desk at the kitchener-waterloo art gallery. in her note to me, alex said she was gifting me these bits and pieces to create mail art challenges. how perfect is that? in addition to pretty paper and die cuts, now the challenges will include amazing artsy images too!


giving | cyber monday

as a huge advocate of online shopping, i'm kind of jealous that cyber monday is so u.s.a. focused. however, i think the world wide web is kind of an entity all its own with no geographical location. so i'm jumping on the band wagon and celebrating black friday/cyber monday too! from november 25-28, visitors to my etsy shop will receive 20% off with the coupon code CYBERMONDAY. in addition, orders that include any three envelope packs, will receive a free pack of decorative writing paper like the one below! this is the perfect time to order holiday gifts for your friends and siblings!

mail art | holiday orders and holiday greetings

i've been pleasantly inundated with holiday orders this season. friends, family and strangers have been ordering my stationery to use for their holiday greetings to their own loved ones. i'm really pushing to change people's idea of traditional holiday cards - in that they don't have to be cards, but notes, writing paper, postcards or flat cards. the first two images below show one of my largest orders yet for my friend holly - seventy envelopes and seventy sheets of writing paper, all wrapped up and ready to mail.

while making stationery for others, i've been wondering what to do for my own holiday greetings. then, in a stroke of luck, i came across this amazing cd and cover art by kate gabrielle (of flapper doodle and scathingly brilliant blog). kate offers four different 1920's musical downloads in her shop. i can't tell you how wonderful this cd is and i definitely recommend you purchase/download it - what a throwback! i'm excited to try one of her other musical selections at some point.

so i thought, wouldn't it be wonderful to create a mailer, include the cd and my own greeting, and send it to my closest friends? i used both white and pink card stock and i think it turned out quite well! on the back side, i placed the mailing and return labels. i've ordered some vintage canadian stamps so hopefully those will fit in the upper right corner!


gift guide | snail mail and notes

i've put together this gift guide based on items that i think are perfect for any mail enthusiasts, letter writers, package pals and journalists. which of these are you favourite?

one | a beautiful packaging kit from sweet findings
two | recycled mail book from bad books
three | ruler notebook from bailey doesn't bark
four | an adorable first letter writing stationery set from a lane design
five | encouraging letter writing pencils from the carbon crusader
six | useable vintage canadian stamps from send more mail (us ones here)
seven | perfect postcard purse from rosie's armoire
eight | simple penny farthing writing paper from isavirtue stationery
nine | airmail style flat note cards from simply b
ten | pink winter snowflake envelopes from isavirtue stationery*

* what! i had to include some of my own!


musings | growing love

in 2007, when j and i had already been together for almost three years, if someone had told me that in four years i would be even more in love with him, i wouldn't have believed it. i would have said "nope, no way. it's not possible. how could i ever love this man more than i do now, right at this very moment?"

except, as it turns out - it is possible. now that the fuss of our wedding earlier this year has completely died down, i find myself head over heels, over the moon, totally and completely, deeply in love with my husband. yes, it's a different kind of love, but it's the same too. it's complex, but simple. it's wise, but child-like. it's passionate, but comfortable. it's everything that is supposedly opposite but wonderful all at once. 

there are ups and downs - of course there are. but more often than not i find myself looking at him and thinking about how incredibly lucky i am. 

there are things that j does for me - big romantic things that shout "i love you!" (on my birthday i woke up and he had written with chalk on the street outside our apartment in giant letters: "je t'aime") but i find it's the little things that make me want to weep with joy, and cause my heart to melt. for example - the timbits.

one night i went to tim horton's near where my husband works. i purchased a box of timbits (what do they call those in the states? donut holes?). i carried them home with me through the rain and an hour later, when i sat down on the couch and opened the box, i discovered they had given me the wrong ones. so i called j and asked if he would go tell them and bring me the right ones home after work. i could tell he was uncomfortable with the idea of not being able to return the other box, so i told him "never mind, i can hear that you don't want to so don't worry about it."

when he arrived home later, he'd brought them for me. but...it wasn't until hours later i learned that the tim's near his work had run out by that time, so he asked them to call the other location near our apartment and ask them. he had then driven there and got me a box from that store. 

i mean, stuff like that leaves me speechless. something he didn't even want to do, but he did do it and he went above and beyond, despite his embarassment. that's love i think, and my love for him grows every single day.

show & tell | alyson fox

alyson fox is a renaissance artist in a contemporary art scene. that is not to say that she paints in the classical style of the renaissance, but that she is multi faceted. from design, to jewelry, to ceramics and multi-media drawings, fox's talent is incredibly clear. her work on the other hand, not so much. more dream-like then reality, the artist creates scenes that carry undertones of sexuality, power and female stereotypes. personally, i love alyson's use of outline and mapping to create her finished product, it feels very anonymous and mysterious - making me want to know more about these girls.


fifty-two projects | project twenty

this is project twenty of fifty-two projects. for more completed projects, click here.

project twenty | write some letters. then, go to the library and place the letters in some books. the letters can be about anything, to anyone but keep them anonymous, untraceable.

alterations | i didn't write these as letters to people so much as actual letters to the readers of the book.

in the letters, i wrote about how books make people feel. about the power they have to make us feel things, and see things. i went to the library and tucked them tightly into the pages of books that i thought people like me would read. i just love the thought of strangers finding these notes...and i hope they leave them within the pages. or use them as a bookmark for other novels!


what i made | adorable deer & diy

if i could put this super adorable deer on every form of stationery - i would. and i just might! for now, here are a bunch of pictures of the same product for your viewing pleasure (seriously, tell me he isn't the cutest thing since bambi!). 

also, i've begun making some simple do it yourself note card kits. they're great because after you complete the project in the kit, you can still use all of the tools including the envelope template, the stamps and the ink!

mail art...tuesday? | package pals

remember this? that was the package i sent to my pal in florida. we are participating in gentri lee's package pal project and i received mine today! see below for fun images :)

i'm a little scared to try the combo (she knew i would be!) but i sure am excited about the chocolate/english toffee heath bar! and that mustache card is awesome - i think i'll write j a card since he shaved for me last night...in the middle of movember!


mail art monday | jen g

okay - so check this out: a couple weeks ago i was at a party and my best friend reached in her purse and pulled out this. she said she thought it was materials from my mail art challenge and sure enough it was! i'm totally amused by the fact that one of her friends put in an order at my etsy shop, had it delivered to ontario, created this mail art and sent it back to my friend who lives in british columbia with me - all without mentioning the connection to either of us! how cool is that? presenting...jen g from kitchener:


sunday sins | elevator

don't we all want to be a better person? learn how to handle our vices? well, i'm going to take a stab at it and i'm going to do it in a unique way. for my 26th year, i am going to give something up* every two weeks. when the two weeks is up, i can have it again.

now, this might totally backfire right? but here's my theory. people say that if you stop eating sugar for a week or two, your body doesn't really crave it as much after that. and in fact i did that one time and found it to be true. so, for that reason, and out of simple curiosity i'm going to give up the following (in alphabetical order)

buying craft supplies
carbs (ack! forewarning, i might literally die from shock)
checking email more than once a day (try every fifteen minutes!)
dessert (this includes any sweet treat after any meal)
diet pepsi (soda pop is on this list but diet pepsi is my disturbing addiction so it needs its own category...)
elevators (ahhhh!)
etsy forums
fast food (including the "good ones" like tim hortons and subway)
miscellaneous spending
late night snacking
online more than once a day
paper towel
processed food (oh my gosh, i find this hard to believe it's even possible nowadays!!)
saying no or i'm too busy when j wants to kiss/cuddle
second helpings (or double first helpings!)
snooze button
soda pop
television (whatever will i do with my time?)
trans fat (i don't know what this is but i hear it's bad for ya...)
whining about work/gossiping

this list is so very daunting to me so i'm going to start with one that is...not too easy and not too hard - elevators.

m.c. escher. relatvity. etching? (this will be me for two weeks - endless stairs!)

both of the galleries i work at are on ground level so it shouldn't be too trying. on the other hand, i live on the third floor (fourth when we park in the garage which is always!) of my apartment building...and i bring lots of bags with me when i go out...and i often forget things and have to go back up.

wish me luck, there will be a lot of wheezing this week!

*something that i really really love...


thoughts on | stress

stress. i love it. i mean that! i love endless to do lists -  i love adding to them as much as i enjoy crossing things off of them. i don't mind when things are due the next day because it gets me moving, and gets my heart pumping. i feel alive - and not in that dangerous "i'm going sky-diving" way. just in a simple, "i'm human and i thrive on tasks, results and future events" kind of way.

there's downsides of course.

downside one | i don't like stress that makes me cry. i'm talking: about to fail grade nine math, interview so important you want to toss your cookies, or up at four am footnoting a twenty page essay. i don't like the feelings that those type of situations come with. but i do like to have a purpose.

downside two | sometimes i create things for myself to do and i don't even realize that they aren't priority. they are simple extra things that i do to pass time or go the extra mile. this causes me to make things more important then they actually are. let's say my husband wants to go for a walk or see a movie. i say i can't because i'm just too busy. but am i really? are the things i'm doing literally on a deadline or did i invent it myself?

downside three | moving through life like this has given me a case of multi-task-itis. so you are probably imagining me talking on the phone while ironing...or sending an email while riding the bus. nope - my disease is a little more serious than that. i will literally be sitting on the couch,* watching television,** reading a blog update,*** cutting out an envelope template,**** talking to j.***** and intermittently i will just pick up my phone and play a thirty second game of tetris.****** oh, and i'm likely eating something throughout all of this. what is that??? i have no idea while i feel the need to do all of these things at once. partly because if i only do one, or two, or three, i'll feel like i'm not getting enough done. and partly i suspect i've developed some form of add in which i can not longer concentrate on one activity at a time.

i should probably tone it down. learn how to do one thing at once. enjoy life. relax. when i think of the three days after our wedding, when j and i went up to my parents cottage, it feels like heaven. we didn't do anything, and we didn't have to. time was irrelevant and we were sad to go. but i don't know how to get that feeling back - and i'm not sure i want to! when we went to hawaii a month later, i brought my lap top and i did a lot more than just lounge by the pool.

stress is kind of like a a drug. it's a motivator and it keeps me feeling high energy. so i don't have to give it up do i?

* sitting/relaxing on the couch. that is something people do all by itself so it counts as an activity.
** watching television is another activity people do solely by itself.
*** yup, another activity that doesn't need accompaniment
**** something that really should be done with one's whole attention
***** another activity.
****** you get the gist.


friday | giveaway winners

this is it! the winners of the week long big birthday are as follows:

monday | the winner of the pretty plane stationery is angela from simply simple me

tuesday | the winner of the sidebar spot is kaycie from redhead memories

wednesday | the winner of the free e-course is brittany from the first grade crush

thursday | the winner of the jackpot giveaway including stationery, a painting, mail art, scrap pack and an isavirtue stationery gift certificate is katherine from through my looking glass

ladies, please email me at patience[at]isavirtue[dot]net. 
if i don't hear from you soon i'll try to get in touch with you through your blogs!
thank to everyone who participated and thank-you to those who took the isavirtue survey.

you can still take advantage of 26% off make art a part (of your life) and 
26% off in the isavirtue stationery shop with the code BIRTHDAY26 until sunday.

thursday giveaway | the jackpot.

yay it's my birthday! 

it's kind of cool and i think i'm officially more excited than scared to turn another year older. though to be fair i've actually always been fairly lax about getting older.* anyways, i've got great goodies today for you! it's the last giveaway of the week so i wanted to make it a special one!

first, check out monday's giveaway (stationery), tuesday's giveaway (sponsor spot), and wednesday's giveaway (free e-course).

and now, without further ado - the prizes! one lucky winner will receive:

one | all of the things that i crafted for my project contributions to the make art a part (of your life) e-course!

two | an amazing scrap pack of beautiful new and vintage papers, acrylic stamps, embellishments and more!**

three | a gift certificate for $26.00 to spend in the isavirtue stationery shop! i think you'll be amazed how much you can get for that amount...

and check this out! you can win even more by visiting my blogger friend pia - who is also having a big birthday giveaway, and today my stationery is the prize!

four different ways to enter | please leave a comment for each of the following
*multiple entries allowed

in order to complete any of the entries below, you must already be a follower of isavirtue blog 
(this will not count as an entry, but you can choose one or multiple entries below)

one | take this survey about the isavirtue blog
(counts as two entries, leave two comments saying you took the survey!)

two | using some form of social media (email, your blog, twitter, tumblr, facebook etc), tell a friend about this blog and suggest they follow :) leave a comment telling me who you recommended it to.

three | visit my shop, and tell me what colour you think i should introduce next spring 
(currently featuring black, white and various shades of pink)

four | "like" isavirtue on facebook,
if you already "like" it on facebook, then write something on the isavirtue wall for this entry.

five | follow @isavirtue on twitter
if you already follow, then tweet about this giveaway and mention@isavirtue for this entry

okay this is it! go crazy and don't forget the other giveaways!
* all giveaways will be open until midnight tonight

good luck ladies!

* how long do you suppose that will last?
** not exactly as pictures - but even better!


wednesday giveaway | e-course giveaway

welcome to the wednesday isavirtue giveaway! don't forget to enter monday's giveaway and tuesday's giveawayall giveaways are open until thursday night!

and don't forget, all week long products in the isavirtue stationery shop are 26% off with the coupon code BIRTHDAY26 (to celebrate turning 26!). in addition, my e-course has been reduced by 26% as well.

i'm actually really excited about today's giveaway - the make art a part (of your life) e-course. the winner of the wednesday giveaway will be enrolled for free in my eight week e-course.

as a small side note, please only enter if you think the course is something that would interest you. it would be a shame to have someone win who say...is a super busy super mom, or doesn't have an interest in art at all! that being said, the course description is here and i think you'll love it!

four different ways to enter | please leave a comment for each of the following
*multiple entries allowed

in order to complete any of the entries below, you must already be a follower of isavirtue blog 
(this will not count as an entry, but you can choose one or multiple entries below)

one | take this survey about the isavirtue blog

two | tell me which section of the e-course you suspect would be your favourite!

three | "like" isavirtue on facebook,
if you already "like" it on facebook, then write something on the isavirtue wall for this entry.

four | follow @isavirtue on twitter
if you already follow, then tweet about this giveaway and mention@isavirtue for this entry

* all giveaways will be open for entries all week (until midnight thursday pst)

good luck ladies!


tuesday giveaway | side bar spot

welcome to the tuesday isavirtue giveaway! only three more days* until my birthday so that means three more giveaways for you to enter! feel free to enter yesterday's giveaway as well, they are all open until thursday night!

as a reminder, all week long products in the isavirtue stationery shop are 26% off with the coupon code BIRTHDAY26 (to celebrate turning 26!). in addition, my e-course has been reduced by 26% as well.

now, i don't normally have sponsors, so when i put a button for another blog in my sidebar it's usually cause they are extra special. today's giveaway is for a button in the sidebar of this blog from november fifteenth - december thirty-first.**

four different ways to enter | please leave a comment for each of the following
*multiple entries allowed

in order to complete any of the entries below, you must already be a follower of isavirtue blog 

one | "like" isavirtue on facebook,
if you already "like" it on facebook, then write something on the isavirtue wall for this entry.

two | follow @isavirtue on twitter
if you already follow, then tweet about this giveaway and mention@isavirtue for this entry

three | add isavirtue blog to your bloglovin
if you don't have a bloglovin blog reel, get one 
(it's the easiest, most beautiful way to keep track of blogs)

four | tell me your favourite weekly isavirtue blog feature and why
there's a feature every day!

* all giveaways will be open for entries all week (until midnight thursday pst)

good luck ladies!

*two sleeps
**i still like to keep a particular aesthetic for my blog so i may alter the colouring etc. on your button to fit in.


monday giveaway | pretty plane stationery

i am so gosh darned excited about this week full of giveaways! i think you are all so wonderful and you deserve each and every one of the things i'm giveaway away and more! however, since i am only one person, i had to get creative.

for starters, from now until sunday november 13th, you can receive 26% off all products in my online shop by using the code BIRTHDAY 26. in addition, my e-course - make art a part (of your life), has been reduced by 26% for the whole week as well!

today, i am giving away this adorable little plane stationery set: five pink envelopes, five white sheets of writing paper and one white journal. see below for contest details!

four different ways to enter | please leave a comment for each of the following
*multiple entries allowed

one | become a follower of isavirtue blog 
(if you are already a follower, you can say "i'm a follower" and this will count as one entry)

two | "like" isavirtue on facebook

three | follow @isavirtue on twitter

four | "favourite" your favourite item in the isavirtue stationery shop and tell me which one(s)!

* all giveaways will be open for entries all week (until midnight thursday pst)

good luck ladies!