box(ing) day

The day after Christmas in Canada is called Boxing Day. No one is really sure what the Boxing bit refers to, but most are fairly certain that it does not mean that Canadians coast-t0-coast settle in for a day of egging on their favourite folks-who-punch-other-folks sport. Nor is it a day when men’s underthings go on sale. And apparently it isn’t really the day for one to box things up, things like that animated angel at the top of your tree, the Christmas ornaments your kids made in preschool, the rolls of wrapping paper, the bows and trinkets and Christmas farfunkles, to paraphrase Dr. Seuss.

The name’s origins are a bit lost in the mists of time, but have something to do with giving gifts to those less fortunate (perhaps “boxing them up”? who knows). Word stuff is fascinating.

The Reveal

Let’s celebrate Boxing Day here in blog-land by revealing what was in the Box o’ Big.

I gingerly lift the blue sheet…

Opening the flaps…look! Boxen within Box!

The box says it’s a “light stand”! (In the photo, I’m saying, “What’s a light stand?”)

When I got to the next bit, I figured it out. Nicholas had ordered me a light-box set! It’s a collapsing cube, made of white light-diffusing fabric, plus two special photography lights on adjustable stands. You put Things To Take Pictures Of in the cube, point the lights at the sides, and voila! A nicely lit photo, instead of something dark and incomprehensible.

That flat black thing I am opening above is the cube, inside its black cover, all folded up. I was expecting cubes of the size I’ve seen folks use for craft photos, about two feet on a side. When I flipped the cube open, however, it nearly devoured me.

It’s FOUR FEET on a side.

It’s big enough for us BOTH to sit in, with the dog and probably all the cats, plus maybe a small gargoyle.

It’s so big that Nicholas and I couldn’t stop laughing at the Cube Monster, as it is now called. It popped open like some sort of imprisoned djinn, and bopped me on the nose, and it just kept growing…and growing…expanding…and expanding…

Nicholas and I were completely helpless with laughter for most of the rest of the afternoon, every time we looked at it. Poor guy. He thoroughly underestimated the meaning of “48 inches square.” Within an hour, he was on the internet seeing if he could replace it with something more manageable in size.

The other Box o’ Big that goes with this one, the Box which has not yet arrived, is apparently a soft-box, a light diffuser for photographing larger things. You know, elephants. Cars. Sequoia redwoods. Anything that can’t fit inside the light-box, I guess.

Nicholas-the-art-photography-minor has been trying to help me with my blog and project photos, because the weather here much of the year precludes using “natural light.” I sort of knew my Saint Nick was going to help me pick out some special photo lights, but I really didn’t expect the photo-studio-in-a-box. Very cool. Plus, it’s something all of you will get to enjoy in the form of Better Bloggy Photos year-round.


The one question we haven’t solved yet is Where. Methinks the studio upstairs? I could totally fix up one corner of that room to be a little photography corner.

Yet more motivation to clean things up in there!

And even as I say that, the doorknob to the studio has fallen off yet again.

What Santa Brought For Nicholas

Nicholas and I made a deal that 2011 would be the year that we made our house a home. He asked for “things to put on the walls,” as we don’t really have anything up there right now.

I decided I wanted to get some cool indie art stuff, so that I could support artists at the same time as I chose things for our home. So off to Etsy I went, concentrating at first on local-ish artists from Ontario.

This is an art quilt based on a painting by Toronto artist Wendy Ferguson. I also bought two of her original paintings on sale, the little house and the sheep:

The tree quilt is from Kathryn Orok, another Ontario artist, and was also under the tree for Nicholas. As was this character:

That’s Oliver, the barn owl. (His name in the shop was Jasper, but we thought he looked like an Oliver.) He is the creation of Starsparrow, who is from Ohio.

Letting your style find you

I really love having original art from indie artists around the house. I’d decorate the entire house this way if I could, and maybe over time, I will do just that. My grandparents instilled in me a love of paintings, and sculpture, and artfully crafted furniture. Their tastes ran more to antiques; their home was filled with cloisonné vases, oriental rugs, Queen Anne furniture, and all sorts of European paintings in heavy, wide, filigreed frames. I learned from them how to appreciate fine art; how to identify various periods and styles; and how to care for things old and valuable.

But stiff portraits of Dutch judges and fine French ladies of the 17th century just really aren’t my style. Art quilts, quirky playful paintings, gargoyles, and things expressive of the natural world are what Nicholas and I love to surround ourselves with. I think we’ve made a good start.

Even the back of the owl quilt is pretty!

I spent HOURS and hours looking at Etsy and art sites all over the Internet before I chose the few things I actually purchased. Most of that time was spent simply figuring out what I liked. What textures? What colours? What shapes and styles and sizes? It was great fun, and I learned a lot about myself in the process. I learned that my tastes have definitely grown and changed–there were things I thought I ought to like, because I’d have liked them several years ago, but now they left me uninspired.

I gave myself permission to think about things for a long time, to keep certain windows open in my browser and just keep looking at some items, coming back over and over until I realized that some things were pulling me back time after time, while others weren’t. I let it be OK if something sold to someone else before I had made a decision; my reasoning was “if it is meant to be, it will be there when I am ready to buy it.” That worked out really well. I like the feeling of trusting in the universe; for a control freak like me, I’m surprisingly peaceful about the idea of something bigger than ourselves being at work in our  journeys of self-discovery.


I’m coming down with a nasty cold; my head is filled with the delights of snot and sneezing. Nicholas is braving the IKEA instructions to put together Desk #2.

He is being ably assisted by Sir Dog.

Random Good

I posted something puzzling yesterday:

embiggen (click) so you can see who is peeking out from behind Nicholas' elbow

Artwork by myfrontporch.

Well, if you click to embiggen, there is NOTHING behind Nicholas’ elbow. Oops. I posted the wrong picture.

Here’s the one I meant to post. Click to embiggen and see who Santa’s helper is.

Why this is a Random Good: It’s good to admit, and correct, one’s mistakes. Also, it’s good to be silly. And, apparently, it is good to keep an eye on one’s parents whilst they are opening gifts, because you Just Never Know when a gift might contain salmon snacks.

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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11 Responses to box(ing) day

  1. melanie says:

    Oh, this is wonderful! I can’t stop laughing, either!

    What a spectacular owl! I may need one myself…

    Now go have soup, and tea, and crackers. Please.


  2. Lynn says:

    I wanna see you line up all the cats in that light box and take their photo. Just because you can!


  3. georg says:

    I thought you referred to the gargoyle as Nick’s helper. 🙂


  4. Susan says:

    I’m thinking that you should keep the big light box. Set it up in your attic studio and keep the lights on. If necessary, line it with aluminum foil when you’re not using it for pictures and it should warm up the room enough for use on the coldest days!

    Seriously, my understanding of Boxing Day is that servants were required to work on Christmas Day in days of England past to make sure the master’s family and guests were well-fed. The day after Christmas was the holiday for the staff and on that day, they received their box (gift) from their employer. My guess is that the squire et al., were probably bloated and hung over by then and didn’t care that there was no big meal on that day.


  5. Mardi says:

    Light boxes are awesome things. My ex built one for my Dad when Dad was taking photos ofnhis pottery. It was a table surrounded by a frame on which were hung pieces of foam core for the walls. It was in my parents’ basement, and took up a lot of space! but it made it so much easier to control the lighting and take good pictures. Once you get the size issue settled I am sure you will love it.

    And all of the new artwork is just wonderful and charming. Very Sandi.


  6. donna lee says:

    I was wondering what Boxing Day meant. I thought it was for the masters to take boxes of stuff to the servants or something like that.

    We spent the day inside watching the snow come down. I also have a head full of snot and have worked my way through 2 boxes of tissues already.


  7. molly says:

    i hesitate to offer a suggestion/correction to our wiseheart who is so perceptive about most everything, but surely the little fellow’s name is ‘owliver’?
    tea, toast, chicken soup…bed, dreaming of all the lovely pictures you will take…


  8. Mireille says:

    I too thought the gargoyle was assisting Sir N with his present. Never guessed there was a mistake there.


  9. Naomi says:

    That owl quilt is lovely.

    (I’m still not used to the idea of not having to take things down to be able to fit new art on the walls…)


  10. InJuneau says:

    Ooooo, big light box! Awesomeness! Way better than a copy stand. (Yes, I iz married to a photographer, why do you ask? 😉 )


  11. LizzyA says:

    Boxing Day: Originally the day after Xmas when the alms boxes (charity boxes) were opened and the contents given to the poor of the parish. Evolved to boxes (gifts) given to the servants (who had to work Xmas Day but got the day after off) and the poor. Evolved to another name for Xmas presents. My Grandmother always refered to my present as “your Xmas box”


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