Holiday Mix

I was feeling like a lazy decorator the other day... I wanted to start my holiday decorating but I only had a few minutes to put something together before the little one woke from her nap. I was looking for instant gratification, something quick and easy. This is what I came up with.

I pulled out a few things from my Christmas decor stash and sort of just piled it all together... the brown ornaments and cone trees are from Ikea two years ago, the white pinecones are Crate & Barrel, crystal bits from Pottery Barn, and the reindeer and penguins are from Loblaws/Superstore. The reed wreath is Ikea too. I was feeling a sort of natural organic look mixed with a bit of holiday glam so I stuck to a palette of browns and whites.

I used my 3-tier stand (also from Loblaws) and hobnail candlestick holders and cake stand to add some height and texture. I love all the different textures, shapes and finishes. Polished off the look with a white ribbon for the wreath and a latte coloured pearl strand. Easy peasy pretty.

Its a bit more relaxed and simple than how the sideboard looked in 2008:

And in 2009:

But then again, so am I these days ;)

Soap & Paper

I wandered into Soap & Paper Factory's stall at the Grand Central Christmas Market on a whim. I swear I didn't mean to stumble into the money pit of all things beautiful and fragrant, but then again, I have such a penchant for all things beautiful and fragrant that this was bound to happen eventually. I'm not sure which snagged my attention, the pretty packaging or the wafting scents. Then I spotted drawer liners, and the gift radar in my head whirred a bit before screaming "MOTHER. MOTHER. MOTHER." My mom has a thing for anything luxurious and typically useless, and what do drawer liners do? They sit in a drawer, look good, and smell like flowers. I wish I could find something like that in a job description.

I bought her a pack of drawer liners in the green tea scent, and it smells so good that I almost want to keep it for myself. But I can't — right? On the bright side, I can "hide" it in my drawer until Christmas so that my mother won't find it and my sports bras will become tea-scented sports bras. And everyone knows that tea-scented sports bras are way better than unscented ones. If you have someone on your list who doesn't treat themselves to the lovely, however frivolous, things in life, these drawer liners are the perfect gift.


My lovelies, our babysitter called in sick today, so Toby and I are hanging out but I wanted to say hello! Hope you have a lovely afternoon and see you tomorrow. xoxo

P.S. Five daydreamy posts for a rainy afternoon: Paris, canoeing, Iceland, the ocean, smooches.

(Photo by Aya Brackett)

Rachel Borovik - Untangled

Rachel Borovik - Untangled
2010, Rachel Borovik

Rachel Borovik is a 20-year old singer/songwriter from Traverse City, Michigan.  Currently a student of voice and piano at the Berklee School Of Music, Borovik has been hailed as possessing the best qualities of a 1950’s lounge singer and an R&B radio starlet.  Borovik admits to being an addict, but she gets her high off of writing songs and creating music.  Borovik’s debut album, Untangled, shows a young artist just stretching her wings. 

Untangled opens with "A Pathless Path", a song of self-determination built on a middling pop arrangement.  It's a solid tune, but a bit bland as an introduction.  "Come A Little Closer" is a jazzy ballad with an awkward feel, as if Borovik had something definitive in mind in crafting this number but could never quite realize in song what she heard in her head.  "Unsatisfied" is mediocre pop/R&B featuring a highly repetitive arrangement and lyrics that wear on the listener after a while.  "You Don't Belong In My Tomorrows" has potential, but is perfected in a bland, balladeering style that just doesn't sit well with the kiss-off message.

Borovik breaks out with "Overdue", a sensual slow jam/love song with good pop sensibilities.  Borovik manages to build a catchy ballad that's amiable but carries weight at the same time.  "Middle Ground" is middle of the road pop music with a solid melody line, although Borovik stretches herself a bit too far at the top.  The result is an occasionally shrill sounding vocal that is not her best foot forward.  "How To Be A Woman" is the standout track, a song of self-reliance for the modern age.  Borovik urges her female listeners to not change themselves for a prince charming, real or imagined, but be themselves.  It's a solid, jazzy number with a sultry feel that's both tantalizing and free.  Untangled winds down with "Goodbye To Yesterdays", a meandering and repetitive tune with a solid arrangement but duplicative form and lyrics. 

Rachel Borovik has a solid voice within her comfortable range.  As long as she stays between the lines, Borovik has a pleasant sound.  The few times when Borovik stretches the limits on Untangled things go very much awry.  The songwriting on Untangled is fairly average, middle-of-the-road pop music.  There's not much here to get overly excited about, but Borovik delivers a steady stream of songs that are a comfortable, casual listen.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Rachel Borovik at or  Untangled is available from as a  CD or Download.

Holiday Cards & Tiny Prints Giveaway

I really should have called this "Giveaway Week"... but more on that later.


Have you started on your holiday greeting cards? Thanks to Tiny Prints, I've got this task off my To Do list. I really loved loved loved the cards I got from Tiny Prints last year so I was excited to buy from them once again. Not only does Tiny Prints have unique and memorable card designs, but the card stock they use feels great in your hands, and they ship to Canada! Awesome.

Using the Tiny Prints site is so easy too. I really like the "My Picks" feature which allows you to save designs you like as you browse. I like to browse though all the designs, pick out a few favourites, do some mock ups so I can see what the finished product will look like, and buy the one I like best. Tiny Prints makes that whole process fast and easy.

Most of the card elements are customizable; you can easily change the text, font, font size, colours, and layouts. Here's a few of the designs I considered using. I love the round ones you can hang as an ornament!

And here's the card from last year. Wow, what a difference a year makes, eh?

Aren't they fun? You'll have to wait see what I chose for this year's wasn't any of the ones I featured above ;) (Note: I wasn't paid to write this. I really do love Tiny Prints' products!)


Now onto the giveaway... Tiny Prints has kindly offered a $50 gift certificate to one of my readers to print their holiday cards this year! And Canadian readers, there is plenty of time to get your cards shipped to you (I ordered mine on Nov.24 and according to Fedex, they should arrive on my doorstep today!).

Here's how you can win:
1. Receive one entry for leaving a comment below
2. Receive one entry for becoming a follower & leaving a separate comment to let me know you've done so. If you're already a follower, leave a comment to let me know.
3. Receive one entry if you tweet about the giveaway (make sure to include my twitter name @ramblingreno in your tweet so I can keep track)

And don't forget, leave me your email address or blog address in your comment so I can contact you if you win! You have until 10PM EST December 3, 2010 to enter. The winner will be randomly drawn from all entries and announced on December 4th. Good luck!

Wants to sell vodka drink trademark on eBay

Dear Rich: I read about selling trademarks online. What about eBay? Have you ever heard of any success of selling a trademark through them? I have a trademark and domain register for brand name for a pomegranate and vodka drink that I am trying to sell. Any ideas on how to value and sell this? Vodka and pomegranate? What a wonderful way to get your daily dose of anti-oxidants. We're wondering what your trademark is ... Vomegranate? Or what about Podka?  
If you're not using the mark in commerce. If this is just an idea -- that is, you've come up with a good choice for a name and you don't plan on manufacturing and selling the drink -- then you don't really have any trademark rights to sell. Trademark rights are derived from use of the mark in commerce (or to some extent a bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce). If all you have is an idea, then you have no proprietary rights and once you post the name for sale, anyone can use it. (And the first company to use it -- assuming the trademark is distinctive-- will acquire trademark rights.)
If you are using the mark in commerce. If you are using the mark in commerce, and hopefully you've registered the trademark, then you can sell or auction it anywhere that permits such a sale. Ebay policy doesn't expressly prohibit the sale of trademarks, so we assume eBay permits it. And there's at least one eBay store that seems to specialize in the sale of trademarks and domains. And of course, there are various intellectual property auction sites where you can sell trademark rights. The Dear Rich Staff has had no experience with these sites so we can't vouch for any of them.
The domain names would be a different story. The domain names may have value whether you are selling the product or not. And because you control the ownership via a domain name service, selling domains is easy. As you're probably aware, there are many sites such as afternic and great domains, where you can sell your domain.
What's your trademark worth? Short answer: you'll find out when you try and sell it. Long answer: you can hire a professional IP valuation team to give you an opinion -- a procedure that may cost you more than your mark is worth. Here are some of the gruesome details.

Giveaway Winners - One of a Kind Show Tickets

And the winners of the One of a Kind Show tickets are...

Jen C

Congratulations! I'll be in touch with details on where to pick up your tickets.

At the show, be sure to check out the "LOVE" exhibit in the middle of the show floor. They asked some of the artisans to interpret the theme of love and the pieces displayed are some of my favourites. Happy shopping!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Fabric hair tie

Since Toby arrived on the scene, I've worn a ponytail almost every day. So, in an effort to jazz things up, I was happy to come across this idea of using a piece of fabric instead of a hair tie. Simple and pretty, don't you think?

Giant clothes pin

What a rad installation in Belgium!

(Via The Debonaire, via Milk)

Holiday Fever

Now, after a long, relaxing Thanksgiving weekend filled with late night drinks with old friends and dainty cheese flights of Taleggio, Gouda, and English Cheddar, I can unabashedly blast my Christmas music — my favorites are Bing Crosby and The Carpenters. My house is decked out in gold and white, with ribbon and lights wrapped around the banister and a glittery, snow-covered Christmas village in the living room. This editorial from J. Crew, though, inspires me to incorporate other hues, perhaps silver and the softest rose. I love that they used Confetti System to decorate; what could be more festive and appropriate for the holidays than bright, whimsical tassels?

Skyler - Long Gone

Skyler - Long Gone
2010, SkyHi Records

In a day and age where celebrity seems to be the most desirable goal for many, the world abounds with self-proclaimed prodigies.  Nevertheless you'll occasionally come across a young artist who doesn't need the label.  York, Maine's Skyler is a prime example; as early as third grade kids were clamoring in the playground to hear Skyler play.  By 6th grade he'd mastered multiple instruments and a year later the recording studio in his bedroom reduced Skyler to sleeping on the couch.  Four albums, twenty professional and repertory theatre productions and several hundred gigs later, Skyler has a year at Berklee College of Music under his belt and a loyal following that's admirable.  With the release of his fifth album/EP, Long Gone, Skyler brings together the distinctive pop sensibility that's been drawing crowds since grammar school with a highly refined but non-constricting polish that's rare. 

Long Gone opens with "Hold My Hand", an incredibly catchy pop/rock number in the style of Elvis Costello.  "Hold My Hand" has the sort of melody that lives in your brain for years and continues to surface long after you've forgotten where it came from.  This tune has hit written all over it.  "This Dream (Nashville)" is irresistibly danceable rock n roll about coming home to his baby after time on the road.  Most any musician whose spent time on the road with a love at home has written some form of this song, but few have done it as well as Skyler has here.  "Stephanie" is a song of infatuation that's cute and catchy with serious vocal harmonies.  The acoustic country arrangement is a pleasant listen, but electrify it and polish it up and it's as close to a sure-fire hit as you can get.  "Any Stupid Thing" is a catchy love song, brilliant as in Beatles brilliant.  By the way, it's probably the weakest overall song on the EP.  Long Gone closes with "It's Just The Night", a true rock n roll 'wow' moment.  You'll have a hard time remembering the last time an album or EP was this much pure joy to listen to. 

Skyler practices the KISS principle as a songwriter, keeping the constructions simple with amazing melodies, strong harmonies, dynamic vocals and an ingenious pop sensibility.  In a perfect world Skyler would already own the pop charts.  In the real world, if there is one artist you need to turn your attention to in 2010, it's Skyler.  Long Gone is pure pop/rock that's not snarky, contrived or cynical in any way.  Skyler appears to be making music for the simple joy of it, and that energy is abundantly contagious on Long Gone.  If there is any justice in the world of music, Skyler will be the breakout artist of 2010/2011.  Long Gone is a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc.  Don't miss it.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Skyler at or    Long Gone is available from as a CD or Download.  Digital versions are also available via iTunes

Signage (I): Motel


File:Star Lite in Winter.jpg

Star Lite Motel, Dilworth, Minnesota, winter: photo by Tadija, 2010

In winter
as in summer

our heritage

in the motel

room mirror


Star Lite Motel sign, Dilworth, Minnesota: photo by railguydust, 2009

we see what is
to come

evaporating into the thin
air of what was


File:Trees and Motel.jpg

Star Lite Motel, Dilworth, Minnesota, view through trees in front of the motel, with neon sign in background
: photo by Tadija, 2010

Signage (II): Edward Ruscha: Word Works



I'm Just Crazy About That Little Girl
: Edward Ruscha, 1976 (Tate Gallery/National Galleries of Scotland)


Pretty Eyes/Electric Bills
: Edward Ruscha, 1976 (Tate Gallery/National Galleries of Scotland)


Smells Like Back of Old Hot Radio: Edward Ruscha, 1976 (Tate Gallery/National Galleries of Scotland)

Edward Ruscha DIRTY BABY 1977

Dirty Baby
: Edward Ruscha, 1977 (Tate Gallery/National Galleries of Scotland)

Edward Ruscha HOPE 1998

: Edward Ruscha, 1998 (Tate Gallery/National Galleries of Scotland)

Edward Ruscha THE END #40 2003

The End #40 : Edward Ruscha, 2003 (Tate Gallery/National Galleries of Scotland)

Signage (III): Ian Hamilton Finlay: Word Works



Idylls End In Thunderstorms
: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 1986 (Tate Gallery/ National Galleries of Scotland)

Ian Hamilton Finlay Starlit Waters 1967

Starlit Waters: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 1967 (Tate Gallery)

Ian Hamilton Finlay Lead Us circa 1967-8

Lead Us: Ian Hamilton Finlay, c. 1967-1968 (Tate Gallery)

Ian Hamilton Finlay Interior/Interieur Homage to Vuillard [collaboration with Michael Harvey] 1971

Interior/Interieur: Ian Hamilton Finlay, in collaboration with Michael Harvey, 1971 (Tate Gallery)

Ian Hamilton Finlay D1 [collaboration with Michael Harvey] 1972

Interior/Interieur: Ian Hamilton Finlay, in collaboration with Michael Harvey, 1972 (Tate Gallery)

Ian Hamilton Finlay from Posters from the Little Spartan War, Death to the Arts Council 1982

Death to the Arts Council (from Posters from the Little Spartan Wars): Ian Hamilton Finlay, 1982 (Tate Gallery)

Ian Hamilton Finlay from Posters from the Little Spartan War, Let Perish the Money Tyrants 1982

Let Perish the Money Tyrants (from Posters from the Little Spartan Wars): Ian Hamilton Finlay, 1982 (Tate Gallery)

Ian Hamilton Finlay from Ian Hamilton Finlay Posters, [no title] 1983

To Cease To Believe in Others Is an Impermissible Luxury
: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 1983 (Tate Gallery)

Ian Hamilton Finlay from Ian Hamilton Finlay Posters, [no title] 1983

Terror Is the Piety of the Revolution
: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 1983 (Tate Gallery)

Ian Hamilton Finlay from The Garden Proposals, [no title] from 4 colonnes, 8 affiches pour l'abbaye cistercienne de L'Epau été 1986' 1986

Untitled (from The Garden Proposals)
: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 1986 (Tate Gallery)

Ian Hamilton Finlay from The Garden Proposals, [no title] from 4 colonnes, 8 affiches pour l'abbaye cistercienne de L'Epau été 1986' 1986

Untitled (from The Garden Proposals): Ian Hamilton Finlay, 1986 (Tate Gallery)

You can see trademarks in my film: Is that okay?

Dear Rich: I just got done shooting the major portion of my new short film Quick Shop, which takes place in a convenient store/meat market. There are several shots where logos and brand names are fairly apparent, and I'm wondering if I should be worried. Take this shot for instance. You can distinctly see most of the Marlboro name and logo in the back. Other shots include images of Shur Fine, Martin's Potato Chips and possibly a Pepsi logo. I did my best to cover up really obvious brand names and logos, but I guess I missed a couple. So am I going to run into any problems when I go to submit to film festivals, or is something like this OK? I mean, it's not like I was going out of my way to include this stuff. I'm pretty sure I can fuzz out these images, but I'd rather not.We'd rather you didn't fuzz them out either. As a general rule, there's nothing wrong with including trademarks in a documentary or fictional film. In both cases, your free speech rights should trump someone else's trademark rights. That was the case when Caterpillar sued Walt DIsney over use of the Caterpillar tractors and trademarks in the movie "George of the Jungle 2" (Alas, no Brendan Fraser in this direct-to-video sequel!). A district court ruled there was no trademark confusion or trademark dilution (Caterpillar might have been displeased by the fact that the bad guys in the film used caterpillar tractors). By the way, the amazing 2010 Academy Award short,Logorama,used over 3000 trademarks without permission. We should also mention, there's a case in which the makers of a film could not use the title Dairy Queen under various trademark theories (though we wonder about the logic of that case.)
Ennnyway ... Even though the law is likely to be on your side, that doesn't mean you won't run into problems. Distributors may require trademark clearance regardless of our legal explanation, and the same may be true for networks, festivals, or if the film is purchased. (Hopefully, if the film is sold, you'll be able to afford a clearance expert to help you.) At the same time, a company may feel that its trademark is being exploited for an improper association and fire off a cease and desist letter. Even though chances are good that you would eventually prevail in court, you may not be capable of overcoming the bullying tactics (and be forced into fuzzing your signage). By the way, you can further lower your risks of getting a C&D letter by avoiding any implication that the other company endorses or is associated with your film -- that is, by not using any other company's trademarks in your film's advertising, posters, and possibly even the trailers.

Giveaway: One of a Kind Show Tickets!

What?? Another giveaway? Seems like Christmas came early to Rambling Renovators :)

I have 5 pairs (!!!) of tickets to the One of a Kind Show to give away. The show is on until December 5th, so you still have lots of time to get your shopping done.

To enter to win one pair of tickets:
Leave a comment telling me about the best gift you ever received. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you win!

Easy, right? You have until 3PM EST Monday November 29 to enter so enter soon! I will randomly pick the five winners. Winners will pick up their tickets on site at the show.

Flooring Flummox

And the basement planning continues. Last we left it, we were still tweaking the layout plan. Now we're stuck thinking about the floors. You see, HandyMan wants the basement to be warm and comfy, a place to escape to, maybe relax and watch a movie, and to him that means carpet underfoot. Normally, I'd agree with him... if I didn't also want the basement to be a place where Chloe and I can create and make crafts and do some sewing and draw and paint and throw glitter around, so to me that means laminate underfoot.

Which leaves us here:

We're at an impasse. We briefly considered doing a portion of the room in carpet and a portion in laminate, but the basement is not that big to begin with so different flooring would make it look too choppy and small. Part of the dilemma is the stairs leading to the basement. They are currently covered in vinyl and beneath that we know there is only construction grade plywood. There is no refinishing and painting those babies; they would either have to be completely covered in some material or refaced (and that seems an expensive option, but I admit we haven't really looked into the cost of refacing).

If we were to do it entirely in laminate (or vinyl flooring like the Traffic Allure product which I've heard great things about from my friends Arren and Lisa), what do we do on the stairs? We've read that laminate on stairs is super slippery (and how do you deal with the nosing?).

If we were to do it entirely in carpet, then lost sewing pins or paint spills would be a hazard. Decisions, decisions. Weigh in folks - carpet or laminate? What do you have in your basement??