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Puces POP at POP Montréal 2013
Église St-Michel
105 St-Viateur ouest
Montréal, Québec
www.popmontreal.com

Oh wow, POP Montréal was three weeks ago! Alas, I never got around to blogging about it until now. But I had such a great time wandering around the Mile End and partaking in various events of the indie music festival, including the very much loved arts and crafts fair, Puces POP. Hence, this is worth mentioning now though we’re already midway through October.

It was actually my first time dropping in at Puces POP which, as part of the POP Montréal festival was held in the basement of Église St-Michel, the looming landmark in the Mile End neighbourhood. A few years back I had attended the performance by the Montréal art bands The Luyas and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, but every September I am so swamped with fall time busyness that POP Montréal comes and goes without a blip. Until this year. I had a good friend visiting me from Toronto and because she is always in the city for work, I figured it would be fun to show her around other parts of the island and indulge in some artsy-fartsy-ness, a throwback from our old days in art school.

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As an exclusive user of virtual calendars, contact lists, and notes, I have come back to the fold of paper-based agendas. How did this happen?

Two years ago, I went to Indigo Bookstore here in Montréal in search of a proper, physical agenda — paper ones that you can actually write with a pen. A sales associate showed me their current collection which was a measly three or four hard cover books that did not meet my size and content specifications. Since then, I have relied entirely on my Google Calendar, Google Tasks, Google Contacts, and Apple Notes. I used to have both a paper agenda and my virtual organization platforms that I would access with my laptop. But once I got a smartphone, I transitioned entirely to the virtual agenda. I thought to myself, “How on earth did I live without a smartphone?!”

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Spring has sprung here in Montréal with blue skies, bright sun, and above zero temperatures. One of the tasks I had scheduled for myself this long Easter weekend was to repot some of my plants, which are composed exclusively of cacti. To be specific, my goal was to pot my collection of moon cacti into individual pots but to make this more fun, I decided to make this into an easy arts and crafts session using used candle jars.

First a disclaimer: I am not a plant expert! I did not always have cacti and in fact, for pretty much all of my adult life, I did not grow any plants. This is despite being surrounded by a forest of plants in my childhood home, which my mother tended to and cared for inside our suburban dwelling. She had a green thumb and the plants grew tall and robust under her care, meaning that a collection of approximately fifteen plants took up a large portion of our living room. My family called this area the “jungle” because that is exactly what it was — a smorgasbord of plants large, stout, small, flowered, spiky, with big leaves, and small leaves.

I did not inherit my mom’s ability to be the plant whisperer, and my various attempts to grow pants were always a bust. My first plants were small pots of cacti that my parents permitted me to purchase as a child; I loved how they were purchased as small, baby creatures that came with seemingly straight-forward directions. However, I always managed to kill my cacti, and my memory is fuzzy in terms of whether I drowned them in too much water though that seems like the probable diagnosis. Since then, I never owned a plant though I did tell myself that eventually I would have a jungle of my own.

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Every December when I have finally peeled myself away from my books, and gathered lots of flour and butter, I start baking. I put aside one to two days (some times three) to put my mixer and oven to good use and churn out a few different Christmas cookies. My favourites are Sugar Cookies (festive) and Cranberry Pecan Shortbread (very easy), then I rotate between a couple of different cookie recipes that I have collected over the years. This year, in addition to the two standard recipes, I also baked Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies, Triple Ginger Cookies, and Orange Pistachio Crescents (which in the end actually became a sandwich linzer-cookie-type concoction). Hyperlinks for the cookie recipes are the same recipes that I used, with the exception of the Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies, and Triple Ginger Cookies, which are linked to similar recipes.

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Orange Pistachio Crescents, which ended up as sandwich cookies.

Cookie baking requires quite a bit of elbow grease, but if you have time, patience, and love being crafty, this makes a fun activity where in the end you have treats to share. I do not do a gift exchange with anyone outside of my immediate family, but for friends I like to give personally baked cookies for the holiday. Giving cookies can also be a more cost efficient endeavour than buying individual gifts for everyone on your list, though it does require quite a bit of an upfront investment. After the first purchases, the annual replenishment of perishable ingredients (butter, eggs, etc.) and the replacements of such items such as candy sprinkles and cookie containers, are required.

When I first started baking Christmas cookies, I was an apprentice to the baking world. I love cooking, but baking barely has any room for improvising allowed in cooking; baking requires exact ingredient measurements and faithfulness to the temperature requirements of the recipe (more on butter temperature is below). It has now been a few years of cookie gifting, so I gathered some tips for Christmas baking neophytes.

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Triple Ginger Cookies

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[Image Credits: Instructables]

South Korean musician Psy of Gangnam Style fame was recently at Oxford University to speak at the Oxford Union, then dropped by the MTV Europe Music Awards to romp around the stage with MC Hammer and pick up his award for Best Video. Since he dropped his epic video back in July, Psy is everywhere lately or perhaps not around enough for those who cannot get enough of his custom tuxedos and horse dance.

If you wish to bring some Gangnam Style into your home, here is your chance. Instructables teaches you how to make your own tiny Psy figurine dancing to Gangnam Style wherever and whenever you want to inject cheesiness in your home. All you need is the following:

  • A printer
  • Access to the Internet
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Ruler
  • Recommended but optional: A cutter, tweezers, pins, and tiny scissors

By flexing your arts and crafts muscles, Psy will be bopping on your desk in seven simple steps. Click here for full instructions.

Via Instructables