Thursday, November 25, 2010

Black Friday/Cyber Monday SALE!

My Darling Dilemma Etsy shop is starting the Black Friday/Cyber Monday SALE early!!!!!!!!!!!! Enter the code: DARLINGDEAL upon check out and you will get 15% off your ENTIRE ORDER!! Go now:

Support handmade, support Canadian made, support artists!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

**News Update**

Firstly, welcome to all the new readers!
A recent contest with fellow blogger, Maritime Shopper, has brought plenty of new readers my way, as well as facebook fans & Etsy shoppers. Working with Chelsea on this project has been lots of fun. If you haven't already you should check out her fashion blog. (there are even a few hours left to enter the giveaway!)

I will make sure to let you all know who won the draw, after Chelsea announces it on her blog!

In  other news, I have been holding my own contest for fans of my facebook page & customers from Etsy for the best fan photo! We have so many amazing, fun & beautiful entries & the one with the most votes wins.  If you haven't checked them out yet or haven't voted you can see them here.

Fan, Kenicke Street, wearing her Darling Dilemma
Okay... so what else is new? Oh, I now have a twitter account, DarlingDilemma and am wadding thru that learning curve wondering if anyone is reading or even seeing my 'tweets' lol.  AND I'm preparing for what I hope is a successful Black Friday & Cyber Monday.  Stay tuned for news of.... a.... SALE!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Red for Remembrance

Red Riley from Darling Dilemma

Being part of an Etsy Street Team means participating in challenges & a certain level of camaraderie with your fellow Etsy sellers.  

Red for Remembrance Treasury

I have been putting a lot of energy into my NewBEST  (New Brunswick Etsy Street Team) group lately, trying to exchange information, promote shops & just create a certain amount of friendship.  We recently had a November treasury challenge that was titled 'Red for Remembrance' and the point was to promote team members & their items, as well as reflect on the time of year reserved for our Veterans.  As most of you will know from my previous post, it is a time I take to heart.  When posed the challenge I decided to take it a step further & include only Canadian shops in the treasury, looking to members of the other team I am part of the Trans Canada Team.  The treasury pictured here was the result and we were lucky enough to make it to the front page of Etsy!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November, Remembrance

Well, November is upon us! It happened (as these things tend to do) overnight & I am not sure I am entirely happy about it!
November brings us all too close to winter, snow & ice.  In fact on Halloween I woke up to our first snow of the year!  Halloween night found me out in an awful combo of snow, mist, rain & some kind of slush, while my son rang doorbells in his desperate pursuit of candy.
Last year's fall seemed more drawn out, lush, and frankly warmer.  It has been raining, no pouring... no down pouring for days on end!  Last year the leaves stuck around longer, the sun shone brighter and this time last year, when my father came out for his first visit we even enjoyed any amazing day at the beach in Bouctouche! This week, in what might be considered a family tradition (two times makes a tradition... right??), both parents will be flying in from Ontario to Saint John for my birthday, which falls on Remembrance day.  Awaiting my father's arrival I started to write a remembrance of my Grandfather, Edwin Barlow.

I think about his at times.  I used to think of him much more, I have to admit.  But as the years go by he comes to mind less frequently but with fondness.  Big family gatherings, Christmas, the obvious occasions.  I think of him when I think of Phoenix & my father, their grandparent/grandchild relationship.  I sometimes think of him when Phoenix's hair is a golden red, remembering he too was known for his locks once upon a time.  There is one day of the year, one day that approaches that I carry him with me all day, often much of the week leading up as well... one day that is my birthday.  November 11th. Remembrance Day.
I am posting a piece here that I wrote last year, to share.

"Those of you who know me, even a little, know that Remembrance Day brings conflicting emotions to me.

A birthday, my birthday, can be a happy celebration... friends & family, cake & presents. It can be depressing, with thoughts of aging, a few unfulfilled dreams, or this year a simple missing of my girlfriends. As much as I love a good party, my birthday is bittersweet - it's a time to remember. I remember my Grandpa Ted, or Florida Grandpa as I used to differentiate him from Georgetown Grandpa. He catches my thoughts on fall days... remembrance of cable knit sweaters that smell of autumn, with a leaf or two stuck to it. Dirt under fingernails, and muddy rubber boots.

My Grandma, Florida Grandma, asked me the fall before we lost Grandpa, what kind of sweater I'd like. She felt remiss that she hadn't knit me something, since all my cousins had recently married and received crocheted blankets. I requested a cable knit sweater 'like Grandpa's' I said.

"What size," she asked.

'... made to fit him,' I responded.

I have a big cable knit sweater, knit by Grandma, fit by Grandpa (although he swore mine was nicer than his) with big brown buttons down the front. It smells like fall and it keeps me warm whenever I'm chilled.

I think of Grandpa now, not only because he was a Hong Kong Veteran and as a good Canadian I am reminded and somewhat obliged to think of the war and its soldiers on November 11th, or because Grandpa smelled of fall and was warm like that feeling you get when you come inside to a warm house from a crisp fall walk (much like my father is), but because we lost Grandpa a few short days after my 21st birthday.

Every year that goes by in my son's life I am thankful for another great year he has had, getting to know his grandpa. There seems to be some grandfather traditions that have developed, a trend I notice. Grandpa's have workshops and can fix things you would otherwise think broken and gone forever, even things you can't imagine there worth. Grandpa's get dirtier than Grandma's, but Grandma's are good at giving them hell for tracking that dirt in the house. Grandpa's tease you relentlessly and will try to steal your apple pie, birthday cake and Christmas cookies.

And Grandpa's are always happy to see you...

This year on my birthday, my dad flies out to Fredericton, New Brunswick, our new home, for his first visit since we moved here in January. His summer visit was postponed after the very un-grandpa like occurrence of a motorcycle accident he had in July. He will arrive in time for my birthday and Remembrance Day and be here to witness his grandson march with his cub troop in his first Remembrance Day Parade. Full uniform & blazing red hair like his Great-Grandpa once had. I think he will make us all proud; Mom, Grandpa and Great-Grandpa Ted."

So Thursday my parents will fly  in to spend my birthday with me, but most importantly spend time with their grandson, Phoenix.  And Phoenix will stand with his new Scout troop at the Remembrance Day service.  And I... will think about Grandpa, enjoy my boy, my parents, my family & be thankful for the time.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Photo by DarlingDilemma

I'm tired. I mean really, really tired.
Is it because, after a lovely summer of frolicking, beading, family & sunshine I have gone back to work? Maybe.
Or maybe it is because work consists of two jobs, plus mothering, wifeing & still trying to build my shop's stock for Christmas?
Or could it be because one job has me running the roads all over New Brunswick, while the other requires me to be back in town for after school?
It might be.

But I know myself well enough to know, that the maybes, possibilities and mights of all those things, will fade as I adjust to the new schedules and routines.  I know myself well enough to know that the greater reality is the season...
Strangely enough, although fall is my most favorite season, it is also the beginning of something difficult for me.  Fall is filled with some of my favorite things; pumpkin spice lattes, fall wardrobes, the best colours in nature, crisp air and Halloween! But fall is also the gateway to winter, shorter days & longer nights.  This seasonal change effects a lot of us similarly.  A sense of sadness, depression & just pure exhaustion fights its way into an otherwise normal demeanor.  My active summer self seems to have quickly left me.  I find my errands harder to do & naps suddenly feel mandatory (although hardly ever possible).  I can switch from enjoying a moment, to longing, sadness or even tears.  I admit, sometimes I watch 'Brothers & Sisters' just so I can cry and get it over with... lol

But fall does something else to me too.
Fall fills me with love. I sometimes think I can feel, like the Grinch, my heart grow two sizes in the fall. Like my chest expands to compensate for my growing capacity to love. 
I want to squeeze my son more, snuggle under a blanket.  I tell him I love him so much he laughs.

I want to hold my husband's hand more while we walk and stay in our warm bed longer and longer.

The sight of fallen leaves makes me feel the need to tell someone 'I love you so much'.

ROOM with a view
 So tell me, how does that make sense?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Autumn of Happy Beading!

 As we close out on the first official day of autumn, I wanted to share some of what I have been working on for DarlingDilemma.  Things happen fast in the crafting world, one always has to be ready for the next leap, the next season & the next holiday.  Those of us who create, always have to think ahead & try to interpret what you the buyers, might want next (and we have to think of it before you!).

ICY BLUE on Etsy now!
 Sometimes (usually) I just make what I want to make, hope someone will love it & it all works out.  When fall was approaching I lucked out because my current colour obsession happened to be the same as everyone else's! Purple!
Elderberry, necklace & earring set

Pretty Girls Make Graves available on etsy

And of course, made obvious by this post, my other favorite thing is my big time SCORE of various beads of awesome & epic proportions! Mainly all the great skull beads, of dyed turquoise & some tiny acrylic that I have collected. With Halloween & October coming I figured I could finally enjoy them & let the rest of the world get a little freaky too!

DYING ROSE, found on etsy
 I love love love photography my pieces, showing them here gives them a life of their own.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Brunswicker are the BEST

They are, they really really are.
Since moving here almost two years ago I have been trying to re find myself, start over, or find my place in the world. 
I have a place here now, in New Brunswick.
I teach art to children.  I work in an after school program designed for grades 3 to 5 ( showing them cartooning, watercolour & drawing skills.  I travel to schools all over New Brunswick with Jostens selling grad rings, meeting teenagers & seeing the beautiful province I live in.
And I make jewelry.
I spend a majority of my time at home, crafting, designing, photography & promoting my DarlingDilemma creations.

Normally something that is that much work, quickly becomes a hassle & a lot less fun, but with DarlingDilemma... well the fun never stops!

Recent custom order by Darling Dilemma

I love doing it all & can honestly say I am addicted! To all of it!  I love the making & creating, seeing a vision become realized (especially with custom orders) but I also love all the steps that lead up to it & the ones that make it happen.

One of the reasons I have been feeling particularly fond of my fellow New Brunswickers (besides the fact that living here lets me do what I do...) is the creative community.  Moving here from Ontario, specifically, near Toronto area, I know all about how inclusive the art world can be.  Attending art school, I also know all about art snobs*.  So to find myself in a place, so far removed from that attitude is amazing! and freeing!

Photography by PoedyPencilPrincess

Once I joined the sellers world of etsy I decided to seek out other new Brunswick etsy sellers & there were lots! We have formed a group which we have taken to calling NewBEST (New Brunswick Etsy Street Team).  It is a group of extremely talented artists & crafts people all working together to share information, promote & sell. I wanted to share some of what they do, with you.

Jewelry by uglyart
earrings by InspiredByOnline

Photography by soulfuse

Keyper Keychain by MomsCrafts4U

To search for NewBEST shops or New Brunswick artists, enter 'New Brunswick' into your etsy search engine!!

*Art snobs are the elitist crowd who define art only by the textbook definition.  They also appreciate habitual dissing of craft & all things related.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Whimscal Waldorf Moments

So something I haven't mentioned before is that I used to be a Waldorf mom. ( ) A hardcore, granola-eating, Birkenstock-wearing, vegetarian hippy mama.

Okay so I'm still half of that, but I am not still a Waldorf mom.
Another day I will tell you about how I fell in love with Waldorf education. I might even tell you about various glorious moments of being a Waldorf mom.  Today though, I just miss it.

When my son was finishing Kindergarten (or 'The Rainbow Garden' as our school called it) the school's financial situation became dire and our time there came to an end.  Phoenix & I had found a warm comfy haven there when he was still just a tiny baby, when I joined a Mom & Baby group.  We spent two and a half years, every Thursday, spending time with a wonderful group of Mamas & their little ones.  Evelyn & Annalyn baked for us, held my child in comfort & even taught me to knit & sew...

When I decided to go back to school, going to college full time, I knew that my darling three year old would be as happy & well cared for in their nursery, as he would have at home with Grandma or me.  The school really was our extended family.

But Phoenix, after years in Waldorf & one year of homeschooling, is now in public school - in grade 6!  He has passed the days of fairies & gnomes, rock collections & cherishing his first successful knitting.

I miss the beauty.  You really will never find any school as beautiful as a Waldorf school.

Through the magical world of Etsy, everyone can find the beautiful nature of the Waldorf world, for themselves, their children & their homes.  I wanted to share some of the wonder I have found...

Gnome necklace from birdsoforegon

Waldorf dolls by ruprecht

Needle felted village by McBrideHouse

Star Lantern by greenbamboodesigns

Ole! Mexican Casserole

In this episode, Darling Dilemma finds herself sharing another recipe & going into shock about it!

Mexican casserole is my son's other favorite meal, and who could blame him? It is pretty much just very fancy nachos!  He just rolled his eyes at me & asked if I was 'seriously blogging about Mexican casserole,' but some friends have requested the recipe (maybe just to tease me & get to me write another recipe blog??)!

Mexican Casserole (vegetarian)

  • Charras corn tortillas (these are basically large, flat, baked nacho chips)
  • refried beans
  • chili *optional + if you aren't vegetarian, you could always add meat in here
  • taco sauce or salsa (not necessary but I like it)
  • cheddar cheese
  • broccoli
  • red peppers  *feel free to add whatever other veggies you want... onions, mushrooms.. whatever you have or are in the mood for
Casserole dish * I find a deep one works great, unfortunately mine broke so I am using my lasagna one.  Works well too, I just like a deeper serving with more layers... just a preference.
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. I start by putting a thin coating of sauce or salsa. This casserole (as most), tends to stick to the bottom of the pan & I find a little sauce down there helps it lift out a bit easier
  3. spread a layer of refriend beans onto the large chips & lay over the bottom of the dish.  You can be messy, sloppy, hurried.. its all going to be okay. You will often find that a few/many/lots of the large chips are broken, this doesn't really matter as I usually smoosh the whole casserole down to make it fit in the dish... hehe
  4. toss some of those veggies on top of the layer... then cover lightly in grated cheese.
  5. repeat layers.  I either alternate layers of refriend beans, with layers of the chili, or I add a little chili to each layer *if you want salsa... throw some on whenever you want. As much, or as little as you like.  I'm easy with the rules.
  6. top layer - I usually skip beans or chili off the top layer & just load it up with the veggies & cheese, like nachos!
  7. bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. **In the vegetarian version, basically you just want the cheese to melt & the beans to heat... if you are adding meat to this, you may have to adjust how long it cooks
  8. For the last 5 minutes I like to turn the oven to broil so the top layer of cheese gets really browned, bubbly & crispy
  9. Its ready!! I like to serve with a salad & a side of my homemade salsa (shoot.. did I just set myself for another recipe blog???)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Girl Least Likely To Post a Recipe

Yup. Me.
I really am, or rather, really thought I was, very unlikely to post a recipe.  It is not that I don't like recipe posting... it is that I don't like cooking. 
I'm not that good at it.  I don't like how it completely destroys any resemblance to clean I had going on in the kitchen, I don't like the amount of dirty dishes it creates & I definitely don't like going to the grocery store, which I inevitably have to do either before, or after, cooking.
I can cook. I mean I have a few good healthy things I can make & my son loves.  And my husband has a couple things he can make that we love (notice I left out the healthy part there), and so we defiantly do okay in the meals department, but I am still least likely to post a recipe.... except... I am about to.
Bean Balls.
Everyone asks what they are & once I tell them, they want to try them/make them/invite themselves over for some. I figure if I post the recipe once, I can refer everyone here the next time I make them & the questions rise once again.
So what are they? I can tell you, they are not a meatball replacement for vegetarians, like many think.  They are a high protein, plenty of fibre, ball of deliciousness.  They are my son's favorite thing for dinner (and also his favorite thing to take cold the next day in his lunch).  I really can't think of an equivalent for a carnivore... unless it is a burger & the bun is included inside the patty.
Also they should probably be renamed Tofu Balls, since my mother decided to change my aunt's recipe and use tofu instead of the soaked soy beans... but since kids will never eat something called Tofu Balls, lets stick to Bean Balls.

Bean Balls
Basically it is 3 equal parts of

  • firm or extra firm tofu pureed in food processor (I have based this recipe on 1 package of tofu and it makes approx. 24 balls)
  • a veg mix of celery, carrot, onion & beet (usually more beet & carrot) finely chopped in the food processor (too finely chopped & they lack texture... but you can experiment)
  • bread crumbs. I like to use my own from spelt bread or kamut... but any kind is fine
Mix all 3 in a large bowl with wooden spoon.
Add LOTS of sage, thyme, and LOTS Worcestershire sauce, for flavouring(the last time I made these I didn't use nearly enough of the sauce, and well they were still nice & healthy, they lacked something).

Lastly, add approx. 1.5 cups of cheddar cheese &
2 eggs (for binding)

My mom says bake at 375 for 45minutes, but she has a kick ass convection oven... it is usually more like 45 minutes at 400 or 425, and I like to flip them part way.

This is by no means an exact recipe... I find cooking at 400 for 60 min gives me a crunchier ball which my guys like. They also like more cheese, but my mother likes less... If I am low on beets, I make up with carrots... so try out variations, they tend to still work out every time!
So if you make these - let me know! I want to know how yours turned out, if you experimented & what you thought!

*disclaimer - this recipe isn't even close to being mine, made by me at all, or even altered to be made better, by me*

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monday's Child (by Thursday)

Okay so on Tuesday it was the beginning of middle school, Wednesday it was taking the bus & walking home alone & today.... first school dance?!?!??!
Come on!              
*imagine me saying this out loud with a lot of emphasis*

My husband said I should chaperone. Of course he said it with a teasing/mocking/hahaha tone.  I considered it, at least for a moment.

They didn't ask for any chaperones. 
Still, I wouldn't. Not really.  I honestly DO want him to be his own person & I love watching him grow into it, but at the same time I miss every single step he has taken. (except for the 3 months he stopped sleeping when he was about 3...)
I love watching the expressions on his face now, that show a different kind of knowledge than they did last year or the year before. I enjoy seeing his bravery in the face of new & his confidence when meeting people.  I especially love the last ones, as it was something I never had.
So why does letting him stay home to read while I get groceries feel like... letting go? I mean it feels like an actual, physical, letting go of something almost tactile!

But I take pure joy from the times when he slips back into childlike behaviour.  When he pleads for me to snuggle him a moment longer when I tuck him in. Or when he locks his arms & legs around me in the pool.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Middle School (or what I know from Degrassi)

My son started middle school, which is a whole new ball game for me/us in many ways. 

Firstly, middle school.  I am originally from Central Ontario and we don't have middle school or junior high.  Toronto does of course, at least they used to (Degrassi Junior High??) but as those of us who lived outside of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) like to remind everyone, there is more to Ontario than Toronto.  All I know about Junior High/Middle School, I learnt from Degrassi, and based on that my son's future looks grim...unless I quickly change his nickname to Snake. *

So the second adjustment is that my son has started French Immersion!  I am excited for him that he will get to learn a second language in a way that I never could & I hope it opens doors for his future.  My brother & my husband both took french immersion in school, and turned out far better than I did...
I am also crazy nervous as I predict hours of frustration (maybe more on my part) with my inability to help him with homework.

So the first day of school has come & gone.  We all recognize that first day as the closing to our summer; end of the holidays, fun and ultimately the finale of good weather - even those of us who don't have school aged children!  It seems irrelevant to our psyches that the official last day of summer falls on September 21st, or that it was hot enough today to sweat, wear shorts & swim in a pool.

*Maybe the fact that his name is Phoenix will help him prevail. Obviously boys with animal type names fair better than those named Wheels. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

THE *F* WORD... Fall

When you say to others that summer is almost over, expect some harsh responses & the occasional glare. It could be my experience because I live in Canada, where so often our warm weather & sunny days are so limited but really I think it is a much more global issue than that.

Maybe it comes from the days of our youth, and the back to school blues. Those last few weeks of summer were relegated to trying to squeeze in as much fun, excitement & adventures into them as possible.

I will admit, I'm still guilty of this. There are about 2 more weeks left til my son goes back to school & I now wake up in a slight panic thinking, what wonderful thing can we do today??

Our move & vacation home to Ontario took up a lot of our time and money this summer. Both were exciting in their own ways but last summer we had a lot more adventures I think. So with only two more weeks til the whole 'back to school' thing takes over our lives, I'm on the hunt for adventure!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Warm Fuzzies (+ CONTEST!)

Trying to get the word out about your business can be challenging but I've learnt that it can also be a lot of fun...
After having my first, very successful, contest to have facebook fans invite their friends to my page, I wound up with over 400 fans (or rather 'likes' as they are now called, but I prefer fans still). It was exciting to check the count each day, count up people's referral's & feel a 'buzz' over my page! It was a close race to the finish line for the competitors that everyone seemed to be watching & enjoying. The winner, Tara, received a OOAK necklace from Darling Dilemma.

I was concerned that I would drastically or even slowly lose these fans but, amazingly enough, I didn't. Sure a few disappeared, but they were replaced with new fans, who were even more interested & eager to see what I do!!

... maybe I should take a pause here and explain something.
I'm an art school graduate.
In other words, I'm used to people not caring about my creative output beyond opening night.

So that initial contest led to, fans, friends, custom orders, sales & continued support - all of which leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling. So to celebrate the 'warm fuzzies' I am holding an End of Summer Contest! - a fun new contest with 2 chances of winning!! 1 winner will be a random drawing of a participant & the other will be for most interesting/inventive/fun entry!
This contest is about posting a link that leads new people to Darling Dilemma's fanpage or etsy shop . (as a bonus if you link to my blog I will give you an extra ballot in the random draw)

Here is how to participate:
1. Post a link to my fanpage and/or etsy shop on your facebook page or blog. How you choose to do this is up to you - creativity will give a chance at the second prize!!!
2. If you:
- Linked on a blog: post a link on the Darling Dilemma fanpage wall

- Linked on your facebook wall: screen capture it & email to;

(to 'screen capture' press the Print Screen button on your keyboard and then open any photo/photo editing program i.e. Paint, and hit CRTL V. The image should appear for you to edit or save)

*please note: I will be using screen captures of entries & posting some of my favorites in an album on the fanpage. If you do NOT want me to post yours, please state so in your email*

Further details:

The contest is that easy & can be as fun as you want it to be! Remember creativity is rewarded here folks!
1 ballot will be given for entering my link on your facebook page
1 ballot will be given for entering my link on your blog
1 bonus ballot will be given if you link my blog as well.

The second prize will be awarded to the most creative entry (as chosen by me).

Contest closes August 31st, 2010.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Treasure Trove

In February I opened my Etsy shop, Darling Dilemma. I've been amazed by the support of friends & family, & by how quickly word spread and made my little shop successful. All that support means I can continue doing what I love & make jewelry. It has afforded me the chance to expand & learn, as well as create.

I am thankful.

Etsy is full of amazing shops & items. It is filled with incredible OOAK (one of a kind) finds that you won't find anywhere else that were made by someone who loves to create, just like me. I wish I could tell you I am altruistic enough that I shop on etsy to return the karma & support others like I am supported but the truth of the matter is - I am addicted. I am addicted to having something special, something OOAK that no one else on the block will have (well, no one else period!).

On that note I decided it was time to create another etsy treasury! Treasuries (for those non-etsyers... although, come on!! Don't you want to be immersed in the etsy universe now??) are curated showcases of someone's favorite things. They can have a theme, a connection or just be random & have nothing in common other than just being loved.

For a better look, click Treasury.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Studio Dilemma

Okay so it is a bit of play on words - I don't really have a studio dilemma (other than it being in my kitchen for the time being). People are interested & intrigued with the spaces in which us artists & crafters create. There are studio tours, open houses & of course the blogsphere to feed this interest.

Customers and facebook fans have asked me about my practice, my beads and particularly how I organize myself, so I thought I would share some photos.

In my everyday life I struggle with organization. I never have enough space/shelves/closests/cupboards to house everything I want. I live larger than life & evidently, larger than my home. But when it comes to my art & jewelry practice I try to keep it contained. This doesn't mean I don't have WAY more than my share of materials but I always manage to buy enough containers etc. to keep them together & organized. In fact organizing my beads is a bit of an obsession for me - one that I truly love.

I get a strange thrill by placing each package or bead in an appropriate spot, in the right, colour-coordinated case. I recently related this enjoyment to that which I felt when I would organize all my doll's items in a similar fashion. This organization would normally last longer than the round of playing with the dolls.

Anyways, there is a little peek into my studio life. As always I welcome comments, confessions & questions...