For those of you who read designer blogs and frequent their enticing Pinterest board equivalents, I’m pretty sure the headboard below is somewhat familiar:

Otomi headboard

It was posted on Design*Sponge over two years ago, and like everything that they feature on their website, the Otomi-inspired pattern on the headboard became famous overnight. Handmade by Otomi Indians in Hidalgo (Mexico), Otomi textiles are crafted from cotton muslin and decorated in colourful embroidery. I think anyone who sees an Otomi bedspread lusts over it, with its luxurious embroidery and fantastic imagery. And it’s the latter that inspired me to paint in gouache some very special Christmas presents for some very special kids. The oldest brother’s name starts with an L:

L initial 1

His gorgeous sister’s name with an E:

E initial

And their newborn brother’s name also starts with an L:

L initial 2

I spent a wonderful Sunday with them yesterday and was happy to see an initial displayed proudly in each of their rooms ūüôā

Herringbone footstool

As evidenced here and here, I am quite an excellent procrastinator. Particularly before a big trip. In exactly 48 hours I will be on a plane on my way to my beloved Spain for a two and a half week holiday. This evening, instead of packing, cleaning out the apartment where I’ve been living and sorting out “stuff”, I decided to do a course where I’d learn to make my own herringbone footstool.

The course was at The Workroom, and our teacher for the evening was the lovely Donna Kim from Edge of Your Seat.

New Year’s resolution

A few months back, I was asked the classic question “if you had super powers, what would they be?” I didn’t have to think for a split second to know the answer: to have the ability to eat whatever I like and never get fat. There, simple and blatantly honest. Nonsense like flying, invisibility, time-travel, etc. didn’t even come close to the sheer joy of eating vast quantities of delicious food a la Pantagruel and never having to face the consequences. Today, if someone asked the same question, my answer would be very similar, but with one addition: that the food I ate were magically anticancer. You see, over the holidays I read this book, and now my life has completely changed.

The book explains how the food that we eat can make our body a playground for cancer cells or the most desolate place for them. Therefore it is a guide as to what food we should eat to combat the development of cancer and what food we must eliminate from our diet altogether. Fascinating and a real eye-opener. If reading this book weren’t enough, on New Year’s Eve, I was sick with a horrible cold and on the sofa just like Marguerite in The Lady of the Camellias – I do get rather melodramatic when I’m ill… Anyway, I watched a documentary which also opened my eyes regarding food: Food Inc.

It was there and then that I decided my new year’s resolution would be to COMPLETELY change my diet to make it more anticancer and healthier. Step one, make my own food as often as possible. So last week I made my first casserole of butter beans, carrots, celery, onion and a touch of pimenton (Spanish paprika, so delicious).

Step two: tell EVERYONE I know about this new book and nutritional lifestyle. Step three: endure with Stoic resilience the constant temptations I got from my food-obsessed family back in Spain. Not only were pretty much ALL the conversations I had with them about food and how delicious everything was, but I was also bombarded with photographs of delicious yet forbidden dishes, such as the one below, “morros de cerdo” or pork scratchings:

It’s important to note that the Anticancer book says that the Mediterranean diet is very healthy indeed, and it’s the one I have been following pretty much all of my life. However, yours truly has been a bit of a pig these last few months and needs to get rid of her “winter fat suit”. So I am staying as far away from fatty food as possible for a while… sigh…

(*) The calendar above is the 2012 version of last year’s calendar. Not as pretty, but I wanted to use some leftover recycled paper I had around the house.

On Procrastination

So it’s Friday night, and what am I doing? PROCRASTINATING. I have 4 Christmas presents to paint before Wednesday and ¬†I HAVEN’T EVEN STARTED. Don’t know the themes or ANYTHING. I have however, in true procrastination fashion, purchased a drawing table today. You know, in preparation for the paintings I’ll work on. As my paints are also sorted out nicely, I should be painting right this minute. But I’m not… an invisible force won’t let me.

So what have I done in the last few hours? A very important task, that needed my urgent assistance: create a new Pinterest board. You see, I discovered this wonderful blog called still life quick heart and I started pinning like MAD. I only had one board on Pinterest and realised I HAD to create a new one. And then HAD to go through the 523 pages in this amazing tumblr blog (only made it to page 129) to get inspired to paint, because obviously the dozens of images I’d already found weren’t inspiring enough. After pinning what feels like the contents of 3 galleries on my new board, I realised that not all the pins were showing. So then I HAD to craft a polite yet demanding email to the Pinterest team to¬†inquire¬†as to WHY THE F*CK they weren’t showing. No response yet, but I’m hopeful after scanning the internet for a considerable period of time trying to find out if other people had the same issue on Pinterest. I should be painting now, but I’m not, because I HAD to post about my current procrastination and how it’s affecting me and… and… I should just stop. Right NOW.


Back home!

So after almost 2 weeks of living out of a suitcase and at the mercy of friends’ beds and couches, I’m finally back at home. No more mice (or so it seems, fingers crossed) and have been able to put 2 loads of washing this evening. Wearing tights three days in a row? Yes, that was ME! I have used up my sudden back-at-home-energy boost to do something productive: hang my prints, paintings and the rest on the wall of my living room.

**Disclaimer: for those of you who struggle to look at wonky paintings on walls, I suggest you leave this page… NOW**

From left to right is my early watercolour of my house, Alanna Cavanagh‘s awesome “Empty Belly” print, a photograph by my good friend and photographer extraordinnaire¬†Oliver Pauk, an “a” from Anthropologie, “t is for tapdance” print also by Alanna Cavanagh, my super-mega-embarrassing rip off of any of Alanna’s Penguin prints, a late 19th century map of Spain and wrapping paper, which is curiously a map of downtown Manhattan.

I know I should’ve spent this time painting or doing something creative but I’m procrastinating… BIG TIME. Thing is Christmas is around the corner and I want to give handmade presents, but now that I HAVE to paint and create, the muse has left me and I’m not even mildly interested in painting AT ALL. BUGGER.


At first I didn’t want to believe it… but the evidence spoke for itself, plus mouse droppings can only be confused with bird seed in my apartment. And my canary hadn’t been in my bedroom. F*ck. F*ckitty f*ck f*ck f*ck. F*ck. F*CK. F*CK!!!

And in my bedroom? Of ALL places? Who could blame the poor creatures, it IS the warmest room of my apartment the shoe-box. [the rant on how cold my tiny apartment is I will save for another day] Since discovering the fatal evidence on Friday, I haven’t been able to sleep at home. Imagine the NIGHTMARE of a little mouse crawling over my face, and getting tangled in my hair? GAAAAHHHHH… I did return yesterday, to collect some clothes and I noticed the smell. Until yesterday my apartment smelled like a Jo Malone candle, but now a distinct pet shop scent has infested the place.

When I moved into my apartment I asked my landlord if there were mice in the building. He obviously said no. He obviously lied. I found evidence when I was thoroughly cleaning before moving all my stuff in. But I convinced myself that the droppings I’d found inside a kitchen drawer had just never been cleaned by the slob (cannot think of another word to describe the dirt&grime-fan girl who lived there before me). By the time I was properly settled in it was spring, and mice do enjoy the outdoors when it’s not freezing. But it’s getting cold now and… well… wouldn’t you come back to the warmth of a 100-year-old radiator? I would, if I were a mouse…

But I’m not a mouse, and I do not like living with mice (even though I had a couple as pets when I was little). I have already shared my space with mice and I swore to myself (Ha! Idiot…) that this situation would never happen again as I was ill very often. It’s time to be drastic, and thorough and to ensure the f*ckers don’t even THINK about coming in to my apartment.

Operation Mouse will be unleashed tomorrow. Anyone who has had mice knows for a fact that humane traps are as useful as teaching your goldfish how to¬†lip-sync: you like the idea, what’s more you think you are contributing to some sort of nature discovery and humanization of an animal but it’s just dumb. The % of success of a mouse getting into the trap and staying there is minuscule (I have experimented with these devices myself to know the ugly truth). And if you are lucky enough to catch a live mouse, you have to get into a car and drive kilometers away because if you don’t, the cunning little sh*t will find his way back to your house.

The best and most effective solution is the mouse trap. Peanut butter is proven to be more alluring to the rodents than cheese and guess who’s got a family-sized peanut butter jar at home waiting to be used for a destiny worse than death but oh so critical in keeping my sanity? The plan is to cover the strategic places with these traps tomorrow evening and return on Tuesday to see the results. Cotton wire will also be used; you can fill in little holes and cracks (it never ceases to astound me how mice can fit in the tiniest of places) and they won’t nibble through it, unlike most things.

If these haven’t worked, then Plan B, or P for poison, is kicking in. I’m not particularly a fan of poison because the mouse will eat it up and choose to die inside a wall (or wherever his nest is) where it will begin to rot. Anyone smelled a rotting mouse? I have, and it’s just like a gas leak. I remember once in London having to call British Gas because I thought we had a gas leak at home and… nope, no gas leak, just a rotting mouse. And a very awkward conversation with the British Gas guy.

I hope the next time I update my blog it’s with good news about the end of this ugly episode but, in the meantime… WISH ME LUCK!!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Even though we’re not in December, the Yuletide season has begun in Canada. And following my usual I-will-adapt-to-my-surroundings custom, I have decorated my apartment accordingly. I have the usual: wreath on my door, fairy lights around various windows (which I am tempted to leave all year around as they’re so friggin gorgeous) but decided to be inventive in terms of my Christmas tree.

My apartment is the size of a shoe box, and a normal-shaped and sized tree would take the place of a more useful piece of furniture, like my dining table or a chair. So I found these two twigs with tiny lights on their ends, which to my surprise fit perfectly in an empty bottle of bubbly I was using as a candlestick. I do marvel at my own abilities to re-cycle things around the house.

Since doing my pysanky class at the Workroom, I knew I wanted to make my own decorations for the tree by using empty egg shells, and below is a closer up image of the final product. I have just finished the buggers and I’m more relieved than impressed at my efforts. It was a huge undertaking, emptying around a dozen eggs is a right¬†nuisance, not to mention applying the wax decorations and then placing the eggs in the paint-filled glasses, only for the eggs to sink and spit out watery paint and egg-white for over a week. Making the ribbons, and ensuring their grip on the slippery eggs, was also annoying and has killed my patience for labour-intensive crafts for some time.


For some time I’ve been seeing more and more people upload their pictures using Instagram. Being the curious one, I recently downloaded the app for my iPhone and put it to the test on the weekend. The way it works is that each time a picture is taken through Instagram, it is automatically added to a feed online which may (or may not, if you make it private) be visited by other Instagram users. The feature I like the most is the one that enables different filters to be used when a picture is taken, thus creating brilliant effects.

On the weekend I went to St Jacobs, a small town in rural Ontario, famous for its farmers and antique markets, as well as its Mennonite community. We first walked around the town’s high street, scattered with craft markets and delightful shops.

After a delish butternut squash soup for lunch, we headed towards the markets. The first call was the farmers market. It was disappointing in that innocent me thought all their produce was local…. and it’s not! Still, good value fruit and veg and the lot for reasonable prices.

All with a very distinct Mennonite look and feel.

The highlight of the day was the huge antique market just outside St Jacobs. It had a phenomenal collection of antiques, knickknacks, and the like.

I came home with two amazing finds: the first, a vintage king-size Hudson’s Bay blanket in pristine condition and the second, a workbox.

Do not be fooled by its small size, it opens up and can fit an array of things.

I filled up one side with all my handy sewing tools.

And the other side with my paints and inks. 

Now that everything is so nicely organised, time to paint a little more!


Before and after

I moved into my much loved apartment in March this year. Bearing in mind that the living-room isn’t all that bright as it only has one window, let’s just say that the choice of wall paint by the previous tenant was unfortunate – and my photograph below is generous as it was actually a darker shade of brown.¬†This is what the room looked like when I moved in, or “before”:

I wanted to brighten up the entire living-room, particularly each side of the window. So I painted the walls in a very pale grey-brownish colour and left the ceiling white. As to the stenciling on the wall, have any of you read My¬†Marrakesh? It’s a truly wonderful and inspiring blog written by an American who emigrated to Morocco with her family and built a hotel in Marrakesh. She stenciled some of the walls and ceilings of her hotel,¬†Peacock Pavilions, and I fell head over heals in love with the concept. I discovered which company had provided the stencils and labour – Royal Design Studio – and bought my stencil from them.

Stenciling is great for precise, perfectionist, time-investing-in-arts&crafts people, but I’m an impatient, impulsive, instant-gratification kind of person. I did part of the wall by the bookcase the day the stencil arrived in the post, back in March. However, realising how utterly time-consuming it was, I kind of put off finishing the rest of the wall. Until today, that is… I’ve been stuck at home sick with a horrible cold for a few days. However, the couple of hours after I take my morning dose of meds and vitamins and fruit and whatnot, I have this amazing burst of energy. It’s been during these few hours each day that I’ve drawn, painted, thoroughly cleaned my apartment and… finished painting the wall! Here is the “after”:


Last night, at approximately 1.30am, I finally finished my latest magnum opus to date: a crochet cushion that took me 9 whole months to complete. Never thought it would take so long when I first bought the yarn in January from Romni Wools. And here I am, all these months later, and so many changes have occurred in that short period of time: new friends, new house, new creativity so-big-it’s-about-to-explode, new horizons conquered and new pets.

The R stands for my surname – Robledo – and I got the idea of cross-stitching over crochet from this fantastic book.

I used all my leftover yarn to make the backing. There’s a little history to it too as I taught a few people how to crochet by helping me finish it. Some crochet pros also contributed as it’s a highly addictive craft. All in all I’d say about 5 lovely ladies helped ūüôā