This Valentine’s Day Week Was Different

by Allison on February 17, 2015

in Coding, This Is It

Coding Update

The past few years I have worked in the floral industry and the week leading up to Valentine’s Day is filled with long shifts, de-thorning roses until your hands are raw, a lot of physical labour, and an overabundance of guiding lost souls to find the right flowers for their loved ones.

This year, it was different.  It was my fourth week at HackerYou, which meant the beginning of JavaScript & jQuery.  There is a lot of unsteady footing and second guessing and a ton of new syntax for me wrap my brain around.  It still hasn’t sunk in.  With time and more practice, though – I’m hopeful I’ll have a better grasp.

Nonetheless, I clocked in a lot of extra time.  I asked for help.  I went in early.  I stayed late.  I read reference material on my transit journeys in-between.  I asked for more help.  I dreamt about parenthesis, dollar signs, brackets and semi-colons.

This week, I spent 10-12 hour days focused on learning and adding to my skill set.  I got to spend it surrounded by my supportive cohort and instructors at HackerYou.  I got lost in the code, determined to find solutions.

In past years my Valentine’s Day weeks have been spent supporting others and exhausting myself to no reward, but not this year.  This year was for me and it was really nice.

{ 1 comment }

Creating Drop Caps Using CSS Pseudo-Elements

by Allison on January 25, 2015

in Coding

Meet the pseudo-element “First-Letter”.  It is used to pick out the first letter within your text to add a special style.  It’s a finicky friend that you probably only want to invite over under certain circumstances.

A CSS pseudo-element is used to style specified parts of an element.  I find pseudo-elements interesting because they seem to be a category of CSS that you learn gradually as the need arises.  Certain types you might use fairly often (‘nth-child’ and ‘hover’) but others might only be utilized if you need to fit a certain aesthetic or style.

Here’s the HTML I will be using for the example.

The HTML Structure

<div class="content">
 <h1>Header Uno</h1>
 <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Fuga fugiat excepturi, vitae odit consequatur omnis blanditiis pariatur error odio. Asperiores facere est fugiat illum esse sunt omnis, iste doloribus excepturi maxime iure officiis, quibusdam? Nisi sequi deleniti porro veniam, deserunt ipsa, suscipit accusantium numquam ea, consequuntur fugiat repudiandae distinctio tempore rem quas, laborum natus quis. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Rem recusandae similique, quaerat aliquam nihil dignissimos. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Earum inventore deserunt, esse numquam et dolorum? Quam fugiat labore laudantium, ut? Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Consectetur, fuga! Lorem ipsum dolor sit.</p>
</div> <!-- /.content -->

When we start with some text within a <p> tag without using the first-letter styling in CSS, the styling will appear similar to below.

Drop Cap with CSS 1

Screencap of Unstylized Content

You can change the following qualities while using ‘first-letter':

  • font properties
  • color properties
  • text-transform
  • text-decoration
  • background properties
  • margin properties
  • padding properties
  • border properties
  • vertical-align (only if “float” is “none”)
  • line-height
  • float
  • clear

When creating a drop cap, you want to increase the font-size and assign a new font-family to help differentiate it from the rest of the paragraph content.  Now we float it to the left so that the rest of the text wraps around it.  From there, I adjusted the space between the lines of text using line height.

Drop Cap with CSS 2

Traditionally, the baseline of the selected letter should rest on a baseline of the adjoining text and, ideally, the top of it should align with the top of the capital letters in the first line of text.

The “First-Letter” Structure

.content p:first-letter {
 font-family: Georgia;
 float: left;
 color: Indigo;
 font-size: 75px;
 line-height: 55px;
 padding-top: 4px;
 padding-right: 8px;
 padding-left: 3px;
 font-family: Georgia;

For the final product, I adjusted the colour, font-family (Georgia, obviously), padding and line-height.  And this was the final result!  (Check out the code in its entirety over at CodePen.)

Drop Cap with CSS 3

Screencap of Stylized Content

Remember that…

  • You need to be extra specific in your CSS selectors or else it will target the first letter of every single <p>.  (That is where you might want to use first-child AND first-letter.)
  • When being used as a drop cap, any change in the surrounding text will potentially and most likely push the drop cap out of alignment.
  • Oh, and don’t forget dealing with compatibility with different browsers and breakpoint(s) for responsive design!  Pfft.

Gee. Maybe don’t invite “First Letter” unless all the stars are aligned.


You Should Eat These Things: Iceland

by Allison on January 9, 2015

in Travelin' Through

Ramen. Upon arriving in Reykjavik, we dropped our things off and headed to Noodle Station. We were lucky enough to nab a few of the (limited) seats and help ourselves to some warm budget-friendly noodle soup with veggies.

Bowl of ramen from Reyjavik's Noodle Station

Delicious Vegetarian Cuisine. I had some trepidation about being a vegetarian in Iceland but we found some nourishing options along our trip.  One such being at Gardurinn (aka ‘Ecstasy’s Heart-Garden’ for the flower child in all of us).

Vegetarian dish from Gardurinn

Ice cream. Icelanders love their frozen desserts regardless of weather.  There are quite a few different parlours from which to choose from with different specialties in flavours, cones, and toppings.

Ice cream in cup with toppings

The closest meal to In-N-Out Burger I’ve ever had.  Bullan has a veggie burger that rivals most anything else I have ever tried while traveling.  Paired with a classic milkshake and fries, this meal was delightful.  I didn’t want it to end.

2 veggie Burgers with sides of french fries & milkshakes

SkyrCould a visit to Iceland be complete without a mention of skyr?  I have a love-hate relationship with dairy (I love it; my stomach often disagrees)  It’s like yogurt but thicker in the consistency department.  It has increased in popularity over the past few years as a result of better marketing and having more protein than your average yogurt.  I loved the fact that they sold single servings of different flavours complete with foldable spoon device in the lid.  Brilliant.

Skyr (a type of Icelandic yogurt)

{ 1 comment }

2014: In Review

by Allison on January 3, 2015

in (I Love) Lists, This Is It

"Keep your head up high, beautiful."

2014.  Three weddings.  Three visits to other countries.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  40 books read.  Here are a few glimpses into celebratory moments in 2014.

Little wooden sign for Amanda & Jason's wedding

The first of three weddings!  Our friends Amanda and Jason got married at the end of May.  It was a beautiful backyard wedding with sunshine, pennants, and (so much) gluten-free food.  Our gift was setting up a fun photo booth because you can never go wrong with a few silly hats and props.

Collage poem from Firefly Writing Retreat

In June, I treated myself to a Firefly Writing Retreat.  It was good for me to take some time (and physical space) out for myself and self-expression.  It’s been an important part of my mental health routine to continually nurture and make conscious space in my life for creative endeavours and quiet time.

Ferris Wheel at Dusk at the CNE

In August, we managed to sneak in a visit to the Ex.  My favourite time is at dusk as the sky gets darker, the lights come on and accent the rides and buildings.  It makes it a spectacle to walk around.  The food smells are deliciously absurd and the people watching can be phenomenal.

Travis & Carole after their wedding ceremony

The second wedding of 2014!  Pictured above are my brother Travis and my new sister-in-law Carole following their ceremony.  It took place at a small church near the sea in northwestern France.  It was delightful to be able to fly there and celebrate with them.

Icelandic View

On our way back from the French wedding, we visited Iceland (Reykjavik pictured above).  We mostly saw Reykjavik, the Golden Circle, and southern Iceland.  Both the urban and rural settings were quite striking and I can see how people visit multiple times to continue exploring.

Liam & Christie's wedding

The final wedding was Liam and Christie’s.  Taking place at Wychwood Barns, it was beautifully intimate and full of small details that demonstrated both their unique individual and coupled qualities.

My Canadian Citizenship Ceremony

At the end of September, something happened that I’ve been waiting on for quite some time: Canadian citizenship.  I first came to Canada in 2002, became a permanent resident in 2008, and applied for my citizenship in 2010.  What a wait!  But it all finally came together and I attended my ceremony on September 27th to make it official.

Granny's 100th Birthday Celebration

In October, my Granny turned one hundred years old and my globally scattered family did their best to make their way (from France, New Zealand, Canada, Washington and Colorado) to California to celebrate it with her.  She’s a pretty stellar lady filled with gumption.  I can only hope some of her energy and tenacious nature is genetic.

2014 had its ups and downs.  Nonetheless, going through all my photos was a nice way to revisit some moments with fondness.  It could be easy to go “Ug, what a year!” but seeing the smiles in captured moments, the copious photos I take of my feet, the new places I traveled to give me a bit of perspective and balance in the remembering.  2014.  A roller-coaster.

Here’s to 2015 being a little less of a vertical drop and more of a lackadaisical ‘whee’ sort of coaster!


Just Another Link List: December 28, 2014

by Allison on December 28, 2014

in (I Love) Lists


A Tree Is Known By Its Fruit | The murder of Bonnie Harkey led to the end of a legendary pecan dynasty.

Forgotten Fairytales Slay the Cinderella Stereotype | “Suddenly we discover that the divide between passive princesses and dragon-slaying heroes may be little more than a figment of the Grimm imagination.”

Stevie Nicks, the Fairy Godmother of Rock | Nobody rocks a shawl like Stevie Nicks.

On Editing a Crossword | A glimpse behind the scenes of the NY Times crossword process.  When does a clue stay or go?

Square Peg in a Round Hole | “I doubt Ernest Hemingway was asked what his ex-wives thought of his writing. I think women have to stop asking for permission. One of the things I’ve done is to break the taboo of telling the personal.”

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Rediscovering Movement

by Allison on December 24, 2014

in The Process


It’s winter (a season of acceptable hermitage) and I’m trying to reteach my body that movement is a tolerable practice.  Like I’ve mentioned previously, my last relapse of depression was a difficult one in that way.  Now it is about finding a gradual practice that isn’t overly intimidating, is indoors, is realistic and therefore achievable, and budget-friendly.  Oh, is that all?  Mentally, I of course jump from zero to sixty (classic Allison move) and think, “I should be doing yoga every day.”  Therefore going against the ‘realism’ component of the SMART criteria for goal-setting.

Let the trumpets sound!  My (smaller) accomplishments for December have been taking a longer walking route home from work and sneaking in a few sessions of yoga at home via YouTube here and there.  My flexibility is back to square one which I know I will find discouraging at first but am trying to remind myself that it also gives me a tangible way of tracking progress that isn’t weight-based.

As long as the winter continues to be mild (did that just jinx it?), going on a walk here and there also seems to suit all the criteria.  It’s not particularly pleasurable, but it’s no trip to the dentist either.

Here’s to baby steps towards my body accepting a bit more movement into its routine.  I hope that it will continue to shift in a good way as more time elapses.


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

by Allison on December 20, 2014

in For the Love of Books

Mockingjay Cover

What I’m (Re-)Reading: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Better not to give in to it.  It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.


Redefining Realness

by Allison on October 30, 2014

in For the Love of Books

Redefining Realness book cover

What I’m Reading: Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock

I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. I hope that my being real with you will help empower you to step into who you are and encourage you to share yourself with those around you.


A Visit to the Palace of Versailles

by Allison on October 26, 2014

in Travelin' Through

Versailles Gate with Sun Flare

I’m a sucker for sun flare on a gorgeous day.  Being about 20 km southwest of Paris, the Palace of Versailles makes for a lovely day trip.  It was the center of political power in France from 1682 when Louis XIV moved there from Paris until they were forced to return to Paris in 1789 when the French Revolution begun.  The buildings and ground are not only a beautiful place to visit but a symbol of opulence during absolute monarchy.

Versailles Garden Spirals

Check out how meticulously manicured those spirals are.  The grounds are almost 2000 acres in size and includes topiaries, fountains, and ponds.

Versaille Ceiling Mural

A glimpse into the chambers de Mesdames.

Versailles Sitting RoomVersailles Gold Accents

{ 1 comment }

Street Art in Paris

by Allison on October 19, 2014

in Travelin' Through

Paris Street Art


Paris Street Art PortraitsParis Street Art ButterfliesParis Street Art Collage