Romancing the Capital 2018

This past weekend was the Romancing the Capital book conference here in Ottawa. This was the fourth year for the conference, and I’m very happy to say that the organizer, Eve Langlais, is planning on doing another in 2019! Yay! As you may have guessed, this conference focuses on romance novels in all forms from sweet to well, basically whatever you can think of. This was my third year attending, and the second year in which my friend, Dianne, attended with me…and we are planning on attending next year as well, and maybe dragging along another friend or two.

Before you read any further, I will let you know now that I read all kinds of romance, and if think you might be offended by anything then you should probably skip this post. I won’t be posting anything explicit, but some of the authors I read write in various sub-genres including erotic romance, BDSM, and LGBT. I try to keep an open mind, and reading those sub-genres allows me to see from someone else’s point of view. If that is not your cup of tea that’s fine…you’ve had your warning.

The conference started on Thursday, but that afternoon’s sessions were dedicated more to aspiring authors, so Dianne and I decided to arrive later on Thursday afternoon. We had a nice dinner (which I did not take photos of, but trust me, it was amazing), and then picked up our registration bags, and wandered into one of the rooms to have cupcakes brought by Viola Grace. She has an amazing 400 books published, and brought 400 mini cupcakes along to celebrate her accomplishment.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a sitter for Truffles again this year (it’s hard on a long weekend) and I don’t like putting him in a kennel because he doesn’t have teeth to defend himself if he were to get loose with another dog (or dogs), so I was driving back and forth to my apartment over the course of the conference, while Dianne slept in our room at the hotel. It may seem like a waste of money, but honestly, it was nice to have a place to drop our bags, and go to relax occasionally to get away from everything.

On Friday, I arrived back at the hotel bright and early to have breakfast with Dianne, then the busy day began. For whatever reason, I wasn’t feeling the games sessions this year, so we spent a lot of time in panel sessions where we got to hear the authors talk about the various subjects under discussion, and answer questions about their books.

Friday night was the dinner and masquerade ball, and here is me in my outfit, complete with my homemade mask.

Masquerade Ball Costume

The dinner was just fantastic and some of the other costumes were just amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures of some of my favourites, but I believe a lot of pictures will be posted to the RTC site soon, so definitely check them out! (The link to the site is in the first paragraph.)

Mr Darcy
Mr. Darcy

On Saturday, Dianne and I were lazy and didn’t attend all of the sessions available to us, but we did start the morning with Let’s Talk About Sex…Through the Ages with Sharon Page, and Barbara Devlin. As usual they were a lot of fun, and had lots of information to share, and the second half of their session was taken up by a game, in which I won my very own Mr. Darcy from Barbara Devlin! (Dianne won one, too…in fact, she won hers first, so that gave me the courage to volunteer for the game.)

 

Dianne with her gift package from Barbara Devlin
Dianne with her gift package from Barbara Devlin

Because there was no dinner on Saturday evening, Eve organized a luncheon for the readers this year, and the authors who sponsored the lunch had some amazing prizes to give away. Dianne won the most fantastic one, from Barbara Devlin. She was so shocked when her number was called that she just sat there with her mouth open…our whole table let out a huge cheer for her. And here she is with her fantastic gift basket!

 

 

 

I also took the opportunity on Saturday to get some photos with some (but definitely not all) of my favourite authors. Below are me with Anne Lange, Amy Ruttan, Barbara Devlin, and Reece Butler.

Saturday afternoon, was the book signing, and after only pre-ordering from four authors this year I vowed I would not buy a bunch of books, but of course I couldn’t resist and I came away with 30 new books from the conference. (I can hardly wait to start reading!)

I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Lister and I was completely taken by surprise when she gifted me these amazing prints of her latest book covers when I went by her table. I can hardly wait to get them framed and hang them. If you read gay, erotic romance, and/or BDSM then give her books a try. I discovered her and her books at my first RTC conference and I’m so glad I did!

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The last two years I was not very organized, or prepared to get autographs from authors, but this year I took a page from another attendee’s book. Last year, she painted a canvas and got all of the authors to sign it so that she could then hang it on her wall.

I decided to go a similar route, but I bought a 12×12 frame (well two of them, because I made an identical one for my friend, Dianne, to get autographs), and added scrapbooking cardstock for a background, and a pretty doily type cardstock for the autographs. I framed the paper with the glass in the back. I made photo corners which wrapped around the cardstock in front, and around the glass in back, so that the paper was held in the frame without using any kind of adhesive. Now I can take it apart and put the glass in front, and next year, I can move the autographs to a scrapbook album, and reuse the frame for RTC 2019!

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The book signing marked the end of the conference for readers so Dianne and I headed back to our respective homes. Me here in Ottawa, and her in Kingston, but over the weekend, Eve announced that she will be doing another in 2019, and I’m really looking forward to it!

 

A Masquerade Mask

Any of you who were following my blog last year at about this time, may remember that I attended Romancing the Capital (RTC), a reader and author get together in Ottawa (Kanata to be exact), and it’s coming up this week! I’m so excited!

The format is slightly different this year, in that there will only be a dinner/dance on Friday night, rather than one on both Friday and Saturday nights, but I’m thrilled that the theme for this year is a masquerade ball.

I found a fantastic dress at a second hand store here in Ottawa. It’s a nice rich red colour, strapless, and laces up in the back (the only thing I don’t like about it, because I’ll need help to get into and out of it). It is tacked underneath in a few spots to give it  a layered look, and has black crinoline underneath to give it nice shape. The only problem with it is that a couple of the spots where it was tacked up underneath have come undone, so I need to throw in a few stitches, and possibly reinforce the ones that are still in place.

I kind of forgot about needing a mask for my costume, so about a month ago I started looking online for one. I found lots of very nice masks, and for very reasonable prices too, except that I could not find one on a stick, which is a necessity for me because I wear glasses and I can’t go without them (unless I want to walk around bumping into things all night).

Finally it hit me to check on the Cricut website to see if they had any masquerade mask templates and I found one that suited! If you have a Cricut and use Design Space, I used the Gray Feather Mask project to cut out my base and then I tried to let my imagination run wild.

I had hoped to make quite a few masks so that I would have some to choose from, and I was going to make some for my friend to choose from as well, but they were much more time consuming than I had thought they would be. As a result, I ended up buying one for my friend, and I only got making two for me, so at least I have a backup.

This is the mask I bought for my friend. It’s pretty isn’t it? We may still add some embellishments to it before the party, once she has seen it. I really wish I could have found one like this on a stick, but it’s a bit heavier still than the ones I made, and I”m not sure hot glue would hold it on a stick if I had tried to adapt it.

Masquerade Mask

For my homemade ones, here is my first attempt, and initially the one I thought I would go with.

Masquerade Mask 1

For this one, I outlined the eyes with gold paint (it is much more metallic looking than it appears in the picture), and painted rosebuds on the front before adding the jewels and roses to the front. The jewels had adhesive on them so I didn’t need to glue them down.

The roses I cut with my Cricut. I used gold gelato and brushed the edges of the petals, before rolling them with a quilling tool and tacking them with hot glue. I then attached them to the front with hot glue, and attached the feathers and dowl (painted with gold paint) to the back, also with hot glue.

I used thick foam dots to attach a second mask to the back of the mask to both hide the glued feathers and dowel, and to give the mask a little more stability.

And this is the second, which I think is now my favourite and the one I’ll wear unless I break it.

Masquerade Mask 2

The second was made in almost the same manner as the first, except I used the gold paint with a stencil to decorate the front. For this mask, I had to use additional adhesive to attach the clear jewels because the adhesive on them was not very strong. I also cut the back for this one from black chipboard to make it even more sturdy, especially with the roses on the other side, since it made that side quite heavy.

I’m thinking I might go all out and pull out the tiara I wore for my wedding. Do you think it will be too much?

Herringbone Afghan

I little while ago I gifted an afghan to my cousin (I’ve just realized I never blogged it because I was waiting until after I gifted it to her, so I’ll have to do that), and she has since told me that her son (and her dog) keep stealing it on her. To prevent fighting over the blanket, I decided to make him his own. I may even go so far as to make one for the dog. We’ll see.

Because I want him to be happy with it, I asked her what colours she thought he would like. She consulted with him (but in a way which would not give away the surprise) and told me his response: Toronto Maple Leafs colours (royal blue and white), and yellow and green. Since I was doubtful that all four colours would go well together, I decided to go with Maple Leafs colours.

I searched online for a while for a suitable pattern, and then went through my pattern books and leaflets, and eventually decided on a this Herringbone afghan from Yarnspirations. I actually had a leaflet from a few years ago, and it was only after I started stitching, and looked at the pile of afghans sitting on the end of my futon, that I realized, I had previously made this same pattern in brown and pink! Apparently this pattern appeals to me!

The pattern was written for Bernat Super Value yarn, and I honestly can’t remember what yarn I used for my brown and pink one, but this time around I’m using Loops and Threads Impeccable in white and royal blue. You may notice that there is some pilling on my original afghan…I use it a lot, so it gets a lot of wear and has been through the washing machine many times. It’s a really, nice, warm blanket to cuddle with on the sofa on a chilly night.

Here is the new Maple Leafs afghan in progress. As you can see from this photo, and from my bullet journal, I’ve barely started.

Herringbone Afghan in Maple Leafs colours

I set up a page in my bullet journal to record my progress and so that I could easily see which row I should be working on in the pattern since it is all done in repeats. I’ve tried various methods of recording my progress on different projects, and I like this one because if I set it aside for a while, I don’t lose my notes. have also tried using One Note, and I haven’t made up my mind which method I prefer the most.

Do you have a preferred method for keeping track of your progress on projects? I would love if you would share what you’ve tried.

My Weight Loss Journey – Week 73

I feel like last week was a good week, I’m not sure why. I didn’t really do anything extra special. For some reason I’m starting to feel a little more motivated to write in my blog, get back to crafting, and experimenting with recipes again. Maybe I’m finally coming out of the funk I’ve been in for the first part of the year, I certainly hope so!

On the weight loss front, I lost another 1.3 pounds as of Monday, bringing my total to 114.8 pounds, and putting me at 171.2 pounds. I’m only 21.2 pounds away from my goal!

Although I’m getting back into the swing of things, I don’t have any new recipes this week. I did buy two new recipe books last weekend though, so I’ll soon be sharing the results of some of those recipes!

My new cookbooks

Despite all the good things, last week was a bit stressful on the furbaby front. Truffles has been having some coughing issues when he gets excited so I took him to the vet, and he has been diagnosed with collapsing trachea which appears to be common in small dogs.. There was some worry that he might have pancreatitis because when they ran blood work his sugar and triglyceride levels were out of whack, but thankfully, the additional test they did confirmed that this was not the case. I can’t possibly tell you how relieved I was to hear that news!

Truffles shopping
Truffles assisting with picking out craft supplies

His vet has put him on a low dose of steroids to reduce inflammation, and a cough suppressant to reduce his coughing attacks.

He also has some separation anxiety which triggers his breathing attacks, so for occasions when I have to leave him alone we are trying him on some anti-anxiety medication to see if that helps. I only give it to him on the occasions when I go out without him, which isn’t often (happily I work from home), and  when I do go out he comes with me unless I’m going somewhere where he isn’t allowed, like the grocery store, so it may take us a while to find what works, but I’m hopeful that we will. Last weekend he came craft supply shopping with me at Michael’s.

Don’t you just love that face? With any luck, Truffles will be with me for a long time to come. I can’t imagine life without my little sweet pea.

 

Fantastic Bake Along – Shortbread Cookies

It’s that time of the month again! Fantastic Bake Along time! The Fantastic Bake Along is organized by Tracy at It’s a T-Sweets Day!, and is open for anyone to join. This month I was privileged to have been given the opportunity to choose the recipe for the Bake Along, and I chose a long time favourite recipe for shortbread cookies.

What I love about this recipe is that it’s super simple with only four ingredients. You can get fancy by rolling out the dough, cutting shapes, and decorating them, or you can go simple (like I did) and just roll the dough into small balls, press with a fork, and bake.

This recipe was originally from the Canada Cornstarch package, and although they no longer print it on the box (in fact their packaging has changed to a plastic container), I was able to find the original recipe on the manufacturer’s website, here.

My cousin recently gave me a package of culinary lavender buds, and I’ve been dying to try them out, so the last time I made these cookies (about a month ago) I ground a teaspoon of lavender with my mortar and pestle, and added it to my dry ingredients.

Culinary Lavender Buds

This time around I added the lavender, plus the zest of one lemon. I had my friend test them out, and we both agreed that maybe I could add a little more lemon zest next time around.

Grandma’s Shortbread with Lemon and Lavender
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp culinary lavender, ground
zest from 1-2 lemons

Grind the lavender buds with a mortar and pestle until fairly fine, and zest the lemon(s).

Mix all of the dry ingredients together, including the lavender and lemon zest. Add the butter and mix well with a wooden spoon until the dough is smooth and soft. Shape into small balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten with a lightly floured fork and bake at 300°F for about 18 minutes. Place cookies on a rack to cool…just a tip for those with small kitchens. If you have a toaster oven, like I do, the rack is the perfect place to cool your cookies!

Once they’re cool, it’s time to enjoy these delicious morsels of goodness! They are the perfect accompaniment to a nice cup of tea!

Shortbread cookies with tea

Please don’t forget to check out all the other bakers at the links below, to see how their cookies turned out!