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  • Writer's pictureElana

the joy of DIY

I know that I’m not alone in my recent shift to more DIY (= do it yourself) projects. My little sister Jordana wrote about this in her guest blog post, but there is a paradigm shift or a sort of revolution among our peers toward more personal, handmade, creative projects and skill development.

I’m going to expand a bit more on her ideas from that blog post, which will actually be more of an update of what I’ve been up to lately and a bit more “shallow” than my past “soul dives”.

Over the past year, I’ve taken up lots of hobbies that I didn’t know I had any interest in, and invested myself more into those I already knew I loved. When I left Microsoft, I sought out a way to discover my passions and feed my soul. Interestingly, I ended up being magnetically drawn to things that were all very creative, artistic, crafty or home-y. I learned to bake pies, took a photography class, bought a sewing machine, started making mosaics and was introduced to making my own greeting cards.

Over the past month or so, I’ve been keeping myself very busy not only with the time and energy I’ve been investing into Mozaica, but also my random side projects.

As you can read about in Jordana’s post, we went DIY-crazy for our sister Tamara’s shower. Most of the ideas for this special day were drawn from Pinterest, which is really a indication of, and inspiration for, this I-can-do-wonderful-things-all-by-myself attitude.

In addition to Tamara’s shower back in late May, and the wedding projects just a few weeks ago, I have also personally had a lot of other projects on the go.

Still on a wedding-related note, for part of Tamara’s bachelorette evening we had a cupcake decorating lesson. It was so fun and I had no idea I was capable of making such beautiful, fun things! (I probably wasn’t before this lesson, mind you.)

Instead of buying a “getting ready” shirt for Tamara, I made one myself using a Clorox bleach pen.

But outside of the wedding-related activities I’ve also been up to a lot of other things of my own…

For example, sewing… I decided months ago to buy myself a sewing machine. I figured after taking home economics classes in grade 8 and helping my mom sew my semi-formal dresses, I was a pro. Turns out, not so much, and sewing is way harder than I thought. But I wanted to learn. So I walked into this really cute boutique-y fabric store and told them I wanted to make a dress. “How about pajama pants,” they answered. Okay, pajama pants were the beginning. I finished my pajama pants and went back to the store… “I want to make a dress,” I said. “How about a skirt first,” they answered. So I bought the pattern and fabric for skirts, but because they were having a big sale, I decided to take the plunge and buy enough for multiple sewing projects at once. Two skirts and a dress.

I knew could do this. It took me some time and patience, a few emergency phone calls to my mom, and a search or two on YouTube but I did it! And I even made an extra skirt for my sister and bought another dress pattern and more fabric to keep going, keep growing and keep sewing. Now, it’s time for show and tell, because I’m so proud of me…

A few good things have come of this newfound skill: 1) I love my dress so so much. 2) I learned how ridiculously easy it is to make a skirt. 3) I have had several dress/skirt-appropriate occasions recently and didn’t need to go shopping to buy new clothes, therefore saving money. 4) When I wasn’t feeling well a few weeks ago, I was still able work on my dress at my own pace, while sitting down and resting. 5) I impressed a lot of people, including myself. 6) I really love my dress.

Another recent DIY wave that I’ve been riding is making my own greeting cards. Jordana introduced me to this when she was visiting in Seattle, and honestly, we went a little card crazy.

I love making them. It’s so soothing to just sit down with a pair of scissors, a glue stick, fancy paper and stamps and have some arts and crafts time. And the end product is something so much more personal than store bought cards.

Sometimes I might even create random ridiculous occasions in order to have a reason to feed my newfound love of card-making, such as Navin coming home from a work trip, or doggie birthdays.

Moving on to my next example, the weather has been really hot recently in Seattle. Not anywhere as hot as you Torontonians have had, but keep in mind we don’t have A/C. So even in only 30 degree weather, we’re kind of melting (that’s 86 for my American friends… I’ve never switched to Fahrenheit because it makes no sense whatsoever). And when all I wanted in the world was ice cream to cool me down, but didn’t have any, and had some ripe watermelon that would probably go bad if it wasn’t all eaten up quickly, my genius husband suggested I make a watermelon popsicle. It was divine. (Now there are also orange juice and raspberry popsicles in our freezer. Funny side story: when I made the orange juice ones, I offered one to Navin and he declined. Offended, I said “but I made these from scratch!” to which he pointed out that I opened the jug of orange juice, poured it into a container and froze it. Touché Navin, touché.)

Last but not least, this week I decided to go pick my own raspberries. This isn’t a new thing actually. Since I was introduced to making jam, I have loved making jam. And since I started eating jam, raspberry has always been my favourite. And since I started making jam with my mom and sisters, I have always enjoyed picking my own fruit. Unfortunately there usually wasn’t time and I would settle for buying them from a stand or market, or heaven forbid the grocery store. But time is something I have a lot of right now, and off to the pick-your-own-raspberry fields I went.

This place was heaven to me. I picked way more raspberries than I know what to do with, in only about 2 hours, with a big smile on my face the entire time. I was also pretty generous with the “one for the box, one for me” rule every so often, so I probably could have been done sooner but where would the fun in that have been? I was so content there picking and eating, and making sure I left some good ones behind on those bushes for the birds. You know the saying “stop and smell the roses”? I feel like there should be one called “stop and eat the raspberries”.

Raspberries are so fun to pick too because they’re beautiful ruby red gems of deliciousness. If they aren’t picked they’ll rot and fall to the ground. If they’re picked too soon, they’re too tart and sour. And they’re not always easy to spot. One mother was complaining to her children that the bushes looked all “picked out”, but if she had crouched down and looked up under and behind the leaves, she would have seen that there were plenty to be found. They were just hiding. And the further and deeper you went into the rows of bushes, the better the crop was. This was a moment of peaceful reflection for me, picking raspberries and thinking about how it isn’t always easy to find them, and they aren’t always read to be picked. But this made finding a jackpot area even more rewarding.

That night, even though I was exhausted from my 2 hours of pretending to be a farmer, I decided to make jam. I couldn’t imagine the thought of cooking and boiling for that long in front of the stove during the day when the sun was out, and how could I resist making same-day, fresh, hand-picked jam. (Also, wasn’t my helper so adorable?)

And just yesterday, I got to work on some homemade pie dough and froze some mini pies, ready to be baked and enjoyed in the near future. And there are still raspberries left to be frozen after all that.

In summary, I love making things myself. I love the tangibility of having the thing that I made right there in front of me. The exhaustion of manual labour is far outweighed by the feelings of accomplishment and pride that I feel looking at something that I made with my own two hands.

I’ve been a bit all over the place lately, but I love that I’m able to take the time to do the things I want to do, and continue to dive into my passions to develop a sense of purpose that can push me forward toward great things.

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