Thursday, December 31, 2009

In With The New...

A decade ago, we were all afraid that every computer in the world was going to go haywire because they wouldn't be able to figure out the "2" at the beginning of the date. A decade ago, I was single, living in the smallest basement apartment you could imagine, going out three or four nights a week, eating Extreme Pita for dinner a few times a week and constantly in a state of angst. A decade ago, I was 24 years old. A decade ago, you could still bring water on an airplane. A decade ago, 2010 seemed so far away.

But, here we are. And although it seems like so little time has passed, when you stop to think about it, a lot has actually happened and the '00s will probably be remembered as a relatively well-defined decade. On the grander scale, the decade's story arch is very dramatic: fear on North American soil and war in so many parts of the world. Obviously, what happened in 2001 is the most defining moment, but so much more happened. George Bush was the president for the bulk of the decade, but hopefully, it will also be remembered in history as the decade in which Obama started his two-term presidency and made some positive changes (work with me here, people). It started as the decade of Nickelback and Limp Bizkit, but ended as the decade of Lady Gaga (this in my mind, is definitely change you can believe in).

Personally speaking, it was a very transformative time for me — perhaps because the years between 24 and 34 bring life changes for a lot of people. I started dating my husband in 2000, got married in 2001, and spent the next five years becoming a real adult in a large city on the other side of the country. I went from that crap basement apartment into a nicer apartment, then a house that I owned, then a nicer house back in the city I grew up in. I became a parent. Twice. I went from a working (but very poorly paid) magazine writer to being a stay-at-home mom. My husband went from being a struggling professional touring musician to having a very successful career in a business he had never even heard of until after he had kids and decided to work for a better paycheque. I look older when I look in the mirror. I don't mind.

How was the decade for you? Can you believe the '90s have been over for 10 years? Can you believe the '90s started 20 years ago?

Happy New Year, peeps. It's going to be a good one.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Almost A Wrap

Whew! What a crazy week it has been. I'm sure you're all feeling the same. I've got loads to share, but I've been so busy eating chocolates and watching the first season of True Love on DVD that I couldn't possibly type out a proper post just now.

And look -- the stockings were hung with care by Christmas Eve. I'm so happy with them. I'll do up a proper tutorial soon -- not that many will really care for another 10 months or so. But, until then, happy holidays and all the best for the new year. xoxo

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Not A Creature Was Stirring...

Except for those disturbed by the never-ending whirl of the sewing machine. The presents are wrapped, but I'm busting my hump trying to get these stockings made before they have to be hung on the banister with care. I'm feeling like I'm completely insane for taking this on, partially because I don't really know what I'm doing and am kind of winging it. And I'm making six. But the end really seems to be in sight, I think I just need one more night in front of the machine.

Then there's the baking to do! I'm planning to make this for Christmas dinner. And I have to make my Grandma's famous Pistachio Pudding Pie for Boxing Day. And Christmas morning brunch. Thank heavens I'm not doing a turkey (thanks, mom).

Oh, and Ruby had her best friend from school, Julia, over yesterday to make gingerbread cookies. I used Martha Stewart's gingerbread recipe from the Cookie Book, and baked them in this crazy Wilton pan where you press the dough into molds rather than roll it out and cut it with cutters (I refuse to roll cookies). I gotta say, they were not great. It took me a few gos to get the baking time right (burnt gingerbread is never great), but they still tasted weird because they were super super spicy. Granted, I may have put too much in when trying to bake with two four year old girls and one one year old boy, but there was a lot of ginger and cinnamon in the recipe. Santa's going to get a bit of a kick in the pants when he stops by on Christmas Eve. Let's just hope he has some stockings to fill by then.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Checking In

And the race is on to make six patchwork Christmas stockings before this time next week. It's not going to be easy -- I'm exhausted, not finished my shopping or wrapping, have a really painful cooking burn on my arm, and fear that Henry has the croup. Yes, I am whining. But if I don't finish, I can always buy some at the drug store on Christmas Eve and save these for next year, right? Right.

In other news, after constantly referencing Julie and Julia on this blog, I finally saw the film (I have kids -- I only make time to go to the theatre if it's a kids' or a, ahem, Twilight movie) and looooved it. How could a movie about cooking be so good? Of course, now I have all these plans to cook like crazy in the new year, which will probably never materialize. But it is nice to dream of duck wrapped in pastry, isn't it?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Little House

I finished the Cozy Cottage from Alicia's kit. I'm telling you, this is the Sistine Chapel of felt ornaments -- so much beautiful detail, and actually quite time consuming. Mind you, I did go a little overboard on the beading, so that could be why it took me almost a full week to make it. But I loved every second of it, especially embroidering the holly. So fun. I'm kind of desperate to move onto the Ice Skating kit, but I'm also committed to making six (!) patchwork stockings in the next 11 days, so I think I might stash them away until next year. Christmas, how do you always manage to come so quickly?

But I do love this Cozy Cottage, and I'm very glad that this one is not intended as a gift, it's staying put on our own tree. Also, it's near and dear to my heart because I started it, appropriately enough, while on a pre-Xmas family vacation that took place here:

And featured a view of this:

Yep, last weekend was bliss in a rented house in the mountains. We risked life and limb driving there in a horrible blizzard, but got to spend almost three whole days with Aaron's parents and his sister and her girlfriend, which was amazing. And certainly made me feel very Christmas-y indeed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

From The Family Vault

Our annual holiday party is coming up shortly before Christmas and I've been slaving away in the kitchen, though this year I've had little direction when it comes to my obsessive cookie baking. Last year it was all about the Martha Stewart Cookie book (and this year I've already pulled a couple of those out). I also very recently got a reprint copy of Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book, which I'm completely obsessed with and want to bake through Julie and Julia style (I know, I've used this analogy before, but it's true). But it's come to me so recently, I haven't been able to organize myself to make many recipes from it (though next year I might restrict myself to ONLY baking from it). I'm also trying to cook my way through my family cookbook, which brings me to the next two recipes.

What you see above are something that I grew up calling "choco-balls." I have no idea where the recipe comes from. It's a no-bake cookie that includes raw egg. I could not bring myself to include raw egg, knowing that my children would want to eat them, so I substituted with corn starch mixed with water. I don't know if it was the lack of egg or what, but they did not form into balls unless I chilled the mixture first. But not too much, or it gets hard. Either way, it wasn't hard to figure out and they're quite delicious if you want to give it a whirl (though I do admit, they look like meatballs).

1/2 cup butter, melted
2 squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 beaten egg (I strongly suggest some kind of egg substitute to avoid poisoning yourself)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnut.

Mix together. Form into 1 inch balls. Chill until firm.

Next up, my Grandma's Nuts And Bolts. These call for Rice Chex, which I don't think they make any more (or at the very least, don't sell in Canada any more). I substituted it with something called Crispex Krispies, which are in the Rice Krispie family of cereals and pretty much look and taste like Rice Chex. In fact, I only just now noticed that there's a very similar recipe on the Crispex Krispies box, only it omits the Cheerios (not Kellogg's, you know) and adds onion powder and lemon juice (which may be more delicious). I do warn you, this recipe makes a boatload of this stuff. Also, the quantities are 1950s sized, so you'll have to just use your judgment on what size of box to buy (I got large boxes, not "jumbo"). In fact, I was asking my mom about it, because I remember eating tons of this stuff at home every Christmas, and she told me she's never actually made it. My Grandma just had so much excess after her own holiday entertaining that she handed it off to all of her children. Either way, it's tasty and very old school. Enjoy!

1 large box Rice Chex (or Crispex Krispies)
1 large box Cheerios
2 boxes stick pretzels
1 lb bbq peanuts
1/2 lb melted margarine (I used butter)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp garlic powder

Combine in a roasting pan. Bake at 200F for 2 hours

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


We're still a young family, so we're still in the process of collecting special Christmas ornaments to fill our home. Which means that even though we have a relatively small house, there are lots of places that are begging to be filled with seasonal items. Ruby and I have really been digging this book, which is full of crafty ideas for the preschool set. Today we made some tree ornaments out of felt, but her absolute favourite is these construction paper angels. Ruby is all over the angels this year. Like myself as a child, she likes anything that represents girl-dom. It's quite funny, really. Anyway, she's made two so far, but she asks to make more every day. It's a craft that she still needs a fair bit of help with, but when I have a spare moment, I don't mind helping to put these girls together.

And here is my kitchen space spruced up for Christmas. This space never photographs well, but I feel the need to document it as I change out the treasures. Note the coveted Pyrex Christmas bowl. I love it so, but I refuse to serve anything out of it during our holiday party because I'm so afraid someone will break it. I'm dorky that way, you know.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Drum Roll Please

So, after much ado, I'm ready to announce the winner. After consulting a random number generator (you're going to have to trust me on this one), the winner of my giveaway is Firesong! Firesong, I've emailed you to ask for your deets, but if you didn't receive that email, please contact me at the email address on the sidebar. You'll receive the apron pictured above (it's folded, so it's still a wee mystery).

And thank you to all of you who stopped by, entered the contest, and especially those of you who are coming back or have added me to your follow lists or readers. It really means a lot of me. I love using this blog to keep myself motivated and it's easier to keep motivated if other people are watching. So please feel free to come back often and to comment on the posts. And if you're still hankering for a tea towel apron, there are a few (including the original one pictured in the giveaway post) available in the shop with more being added very soon.

In other happy news, I'm a winner too! I won a mystery prize from Home, Heart, Happiness. I'll let you all know what it is when it arrives.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

All I Want For Christmas Is A Ztar Warz Movie

Wow. First off, thank you to all who have dropped by/are still dropping by to sign up for my giveaway (the post is one below this one if you're still looking for it). I knew the response would be good since Sew Mama Sew is so popular and I am, after all, giving away something for free, but you've all said such nice things, it's warmed my heart. The comments will be open through the weekend, then I'll announce a winner on Monday.

What else... oh, I finished the Snowy Tree ornament from Alicia's Walk In The Woods kit. Cute, no? This means my teachers' gifts for playschool are finished. Whew. I'm moving on to the little house next, which will go on our own tree (yes, the Snowy Tree is currently on our own tree, but it's just for display purposes, I swear).

And I had to share Ruby's letter to Santa. I suggested that she dictate to me and I'd write it, but she insisted on writing it herself, with me spelling out every single word for her. I realize that I mislead her in the spelling of "Claus," but it was early and I had yet to finish my first cup of coffee. So much for my former life as a professional editor, eh? Still, it was hard for me to put this in an envelope and send it off, it is so precious. I have no doubt that Santa will bring her her Polly Pockets and Star Wars movie, because she is indeed the world's greatest girl.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Advent/Giveaway Day

It's here! The advent calendar is up (and the first day's treats are long eaten), Santa has been visited and Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day is here!

So, here's how it goes: Sew Mama Sew has a giant list of blogs participating in giveaways of handmade items and craft supplies (or will by tomorrow morning) and I'm happy to participate. All you have to do is comment on this post before end of day December 6. On the morning of December 7 I will randomly choose a winner and ship off the gift. This giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Please make sure I can get a hold of you when you comment -- either leave your blog information or email address in your comment.

And what do you win? A vintage tea towel apron like the one pictured above. It won't be the exact one pictured (that one is for purchase in the shop), but it will be just as nice. I promise.

So please, comment, let me know who you are and if you're a regular reader or if you found the blog through the Sew Mama Sew List. And check out the other giveaways! I know I will.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Every year, Aaron's dad tends to be the hardest person to buy for on our Christmas list. He's a man of simple pleasures: he likes to spend his weekends cutting the lawn or washing his car, or in the winter watching sports in front of his fireplace. He likes golf, cigars, and a nice glass of Scotch. Which means that any gift related to any of these activities has been bought for him years and years ago. So it's tough. But this year, thanks to Aaron's mum, the perfect gift managed to materialize.

As mentioned, Aaron's dad likes to relax with a nice glass of Scotch and I've long admired his special glass he likes to drink from: a vintage bar glass with pictures of pheasants on it (you know the type). Turns out, the pheasant glasses belonged to his late parents, which makes them all the more special. Well, Aaron's mom spied a matching ice bucket in a ridiculously overpriced small town antique store. So yesterday, we drove down and bought it. Perfect, no? The picture doesn't do it justice, but it is truly a beaut.

And yes, I did not blog yesterday. NaBloPoMo was in my sights and so close to the finish line I bailed. That said, I have a lot on the docket, so hopefully the frequent posts will continue into the upcoming months.

Friday, November 27, 2009


I'm usually not the type to buy vintage stuff on etsy (I'm a thrill-of-the-hunt kind of gal), but I couldn't resist this little treasure that Tracy had in her shop. It's a napkin holder, but my plan is to keep in on the table next to the door so it can hold unsorted mail. I'm aiming to be tidier in the house (it's a challenge), so I hope this will do the trick.

I've been noticing a lot of owl-themed things in my house lately -- it's like etsy circa 2007. I'm not collecting, I swear. Maybe I just like Henry pointing to them and saying "Whoot, Whoot!"

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Aaron's mum generously took the kids today and I spent my time doing some Xmas shopping and sequestering myself in the kitchen. With our holiday party only two weeks away and lots of busy times between then and now, I've got to prep while I can. Today, among other things, I made my mom's famous olive cheese balls. She's been making these for her annual Boxing Day party since I can remember and I've always loved them. I remember Christmases as a teenager where I'd steal a handful of these from the freezer, pop them in the microwave and make a Christmas day lunch out of them. Not healthy, but considering I was chasing them with holiday chocolates, I obviously did not care.

So, as a Thanksgiving gift to all of our American friends, here is the recipe. Try it out and let me know if you like it.

Olive Cheese Balls

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
36 (approx) pimento-stuffed green olives, drained

Mix cheese and flour. Add butter and mix thoroughly. Mold 1 tbsp dough around each olive and shape into a ball. Place on ungreased baking sheet and chill at least 1 hour. Bake at 400F for 15 to 20 minutes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Favourite Things

Did you hear that Oprah isn't doing her Favourite Things show this year? Apparently, she's not (not that I'm a big Oprah fan anyway, but you know). So, in lieu, here are some random things I've been digging as of late:

Tetley Herbal Tea
Especially in the Soothe (ginger mint) flavour. I can't get enough

The Corner
This 2000 HBO mini-series was a precursor to The Wire. (Which is, of course, the best show in the history of television. This is not debatable. It is a fact.) I've been watching it on DVD and the characters are so multi-layered, and so sad. Not as developed as The Wire, but awesome.

The Onion's Best Of The Decade
Check it out here. The best of TV, movies, music, books and other media. I could hang out on here for days. On a side note, can you believe that the '90s have been over for 10 years? Seriously -- Y2K was a decade ago. I feel so unbelievably old.

Rosebud Perfume Co. Rose Mint Lip Balm
So good.

New Moon
Seriously dudes, I loved it. I do not think it was actually well-written or well-acted, but I loved every second of it. I especially laughed when Jacob Black took off his shirt and the entire audience burst out laughing. So awesome.

So, that's five. Americans, have a good Thanksgiving weekend. I'll see the rest of you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Attention Shoppers

My shop is open. The items are still very limited, but more will go up in the next few days, I hope. Also, on a slightly related note, I will be participating in Sew Mama Sew's awesome Giveaway Day this year. It's on December 2 -- stop by and comment on that day to win a prize.

In unrelated news, I'm have tickets to see New Moon tonight. I am inappropriately excited. This article kind of sums it up.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Deer Prudence

How the heck did I find time to make a felt Christmas ornament? I don't know, but I'm telling you, these things are addictive and I can hardly wait to make more. This is the Little Deer ornament from Alicia's Walk In The Woods kit. I started with the deer because it's the easiest of the patterns, and I managed to complete it over the course of one bad Canadian film and an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I admit, I was a little discouraged when I realized that I should do all the embroidery on BOTH sides of the deer, but since I'm creating heirloom pieces here, people, I decided laziness was a poor course of action. So yes, Mrs. Deer has beautiful sequined speckles on both sides of her rump.

I'm really hot to trot on getting onto the other ornaments, even though there are more pressing things at hand. But I really want to get the rest made so I can decide which ones I'm willing to part with as teachers' gifts. It's hard. Maybe I'll just buy them some soap or hand cream instead.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Okay, maybe not the most appetizing picture, but proof that I've got another batch of cookies in the freezer! This morning I set out to bake as much as I could with the limited supplies in my pantry (my mission: try not to actually leave the house). First up, a batch of blueberry corn muffins for Ruby and Henry's school/babysitting snacks. Done (but to be honest, pretty meh tasting). Then I wanted to do a batch of Christmas party cookies. With very little icing sugar on hand and no nuts, my choices were limited. But I did have macaroons on my list and what do you know? They require very few ingredients and are super easy to make.

I love me a macaroon, but I've never attempted to make them. Soooo easy. You basically just mix some coconut with sugar and egg whites and then bake them for 15 minutes. This is, of course, the version from the Martha Stewart Cookie book, and I added in some chocolate chips for fun. Delicious. And easy. And making me feel like I'm accomplishing something. Hooray!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Angels and Demons

I went to a really big pro Christmas craft fair today. I have mixed feelings about these kinds of sales -- while all the vendors are people who make stuff themselves and sell it, not huge commercial retailers, I would much rather support tiny more edgy craft fairs. I find a lot of the stuff at the big fairs really not to my taste, and honestly, some of the patrons get kind of annoying to shop next to. Still, since I'm buying for parents and other people who may not share my indie taste, I usually try to hit at least one big sale every year.

And I did pretty well. In addition to some gifts for the family, I bought an angel to top our tree (do you have any idea how hard it is to find a good angel? Most stores are way more into star toppers) and this ornament here, both crafted by an older lady who was working the fair. Ruby is going to love this little gal -- so fluffy and girly. I love her too.

Friday, November 20, 2009

And So It Begins...

We always have a holiday party at the beginning of December, so holiday baking usually starts here at the beginning of November. Not so much this year. I'm a little bit freaking out because of the lack of party prep on my part -- but until very recently, Aaron's spent most of the month out of town and I've been sick since October 24 (yes, I know the date). Today I finally buckled down and made the first batch of cookies, but the freaking is still strong.

These are Chocolate Crackles from the Martha Stewart Cookie book, which I love. I made these last year too and they were so loved by all that Aaron's mum also added them to her repertoire. Actually, they also showed up at an Oscar party we went to, baked by my friend Tasya, who is a very picky baker. So they come highly recommended. As usual, each member of the family was entitled to a single cookie for dessert, then the rest of the batch went into the freezer. Next stop, cheese balls.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Okay, so you know how I have so much to do before December hits that my head is spinning? Yeah. Well, you know what I started to do last night even though I had a bunch of real writing to do and cookies to bake and important stuff to think about? I started knitting a dishcloth. And man, it feels great.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We Are Four

I can't believe I missed the anniversary of my blog! It was earlier this week. Four years. Wow.

I know that this blog has slowed down a bit over the last year and a half or so, with Henry showing up in my life and all, but I still value it very much. It makes me feel like the things that I do are real and worthy of writing about. Even if not that many people stop by here on a regular basis, having a place to record my various endeavors make me feel more productive.

So, hooray! Happy belated blog day to me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Review: 400 Knitting Stitches

Potter Craft's 400 Knitting Stitches is a book whose title says it all: this is a stitch dictionary, nothing more nothing less. No fancy introduction (other than some knitting basics), no project ideas, no examples of sweaters or scarves or legwarmers using these patterns. Just stitches. Which is what makes it totally awesome.

Each stitch entry consists of directions, a chart, and a photograph of the stitch swatched in off-white yarn. The patterns are sectioned off into knit/purl stitches, crossed stitches and cables, slipped stitches, lace stitches, double stitches, twisted stitches, cast off stitches and "fancy" stitches (smocking, bobbles, etc). And that's it.

So, why do you need this book? Well, if you design your own knitwear, the answer is obvious. If you don't, it's still handy if you want to add some zip to a plain scarf or sock pattern. Me, all I can see is dishrags. Loads of fun dishrags. I hope to spend a lot of time on the couch with some cotton, whipping up dishrags. And when I'm not doing that, this can sit on my shelf as an amazing reference book.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Capital R

I bought Ruby this fabric-covered R at Anthropologie (I find the kids' books/stuff section that exist in some Anthropologies a little weird and out of place, but totally awesome). I got Henry one too (well, an H) and I just love them. There are little hooks on the back to hang them on the wall, but Ruby's sits on top of her bookcase, which is an antique that used to live with Aaron's grandparents. This is as tidy as the top shelf ever gets (i.e. not very), as Ruby tends to stash anything up there that she doesn't want Henry to touch: her jewelry boxes, a little music box, the centrepiece from my brothers' wedding, photographs, her rock and coral collection... In our house it pays to be taller than three feet because you can reach the good stuff. I've been collecting ceramic figurines for Ruby to one day place on this shelf, but until she gets past the need to shove stuff up there, it isn't really a safe place for a lot of breakables.

In other news, I've lost my voice! This is the illness that will not end. Thankfully, I'm not feeling that bad, but it's hard to be an authoritative mother when you can only croak at your kids.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cards. Made of Paper.

I think I probably mentioned this last year (probably also in November), but I am absolutely stubborn about sending out physical Christmas cards. I scoff at the e-card and sniff at the annual email newsletter. I love paper mail (I won't even call it snail mail because really, next day delivery within the city is pretty frickin' quick). I find the postal system pretty fascinating. Frustrating at times as well, sure, but it really is a miracle that most stuff makes it to where it's supposed to be going.

Every year I send out about 150 Xmas cards, many of which include a Walmart photo of my children (it's the only thing I go for Walmart for. Why Walmart is a question I can not answer. It's just become my tradition). I've got the process down to a near science and I manage to get them all filled out and addressed over the course of a week or so. The only snag is tracking down addresses of people who have moved. Also, finding time to go to the post office to send off the overseas cards. This year the holidays are totally sneaking up on me and I'm feeling huge stress, but I will not forsake my Christmas cards. No way, man.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stilllife With Wine

This picture hopefully represents what will be a lovely evening. As part of our neverending slide into total yuppie-hood, Aaron and I host a wine-tasting party every few months. I think the one we're holding tonight is about our fourth or fifth, and they're really fun. Every couple brings a nice bottle of wine, we taste them, we eat cheese, sometimes we order pizza (though tonight I have a crock pot of curry on), and chit chat. Tonight we take on Australia. Each participant is supposed to research their wine, but it's really the drinking that matters.

I have a pretty nasty cold, so I'm going to have to take it easy, but I think my palate is clear enough to enjoy the wine. Aaron picked up some kick-ass cheese too, including a mellow blue encased in wax called Dragon's Breath. Apparently it's not even legal to sell in here, so we feel very special to have this contraband, quite likely unpasteurized cheese.

Oh, on an unrelated note, you know how they say that Corelle plates don't break? Not true. This morning Henry tipped a Butterfly Gold Corelle lunch plate off of his booster chair tray and it smashed into eight zillion pieces. I wish I had taken a picture of it. So yes, Corelle, if it hits on the right angle, will break. Just though you should know.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Pillows! I managed to whip up these Semi-Simple Pillows from Bend The Rules Sewing while the kids were awake and playing (our playroom and sewing room are actually the same room). I got this vintage green fabric ages ago at a fabric sale and knew I wanted to use it for a project where I could quilt or embroider around the flowers. There was also a quilt in Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts that it would have been great for, but I didn't have enough. So, I used some of it in my Easy Lap Quilt and saved the rest for these pillows.

My old couch pillows were getting shabby (i.e. the fabric was falling apart completely), so I wanted to get these done before we start our holiday entertaining. Free-motion quilting scares me and I didn't want to ruin the fabric, so I just hand embroidered around a few of the flowers. The rest of the pillow is made from some thick natural linen. Perfecto!

In other news, I enjoyed my first Starbucks holiday drink of the year today. I only drink Starbucks during the holidays, so this was very exciting.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Okay, I'm allowed a little cheat now and then, right? I actually have a lot to blog about, but no decent pictures, and I'm swamped with stuff I need to do, so to keep up with my NaBloPoMo (post every day in November), I'm cheating. Apologies. Two kids, husband out of town (though, thankfully, home tonight), sickness throughout the house, holidays coming up. I know, enough of the excuses. Perhaps I'm just feeling defeated because I spent two hours making a very complicated dinner that tasted like meh. Thanks a lot, Canadian Living magazine. I'll be back on my game tomorrow. Please drop by. Leave a comment if you'd like.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


A couple weeks ago when I was in New York I was walking by the Plaza Hotel and gasped. I've been to New York a bunch of times, but usually find myself spending most of my time South of Midtown, so I'd never really had a moment to gaze upon the place-where-Eloise-grew-up before. I gawked for a second, then started on my way. Then it dawned on me. I could go in. I could go in and see the Plaza. I was all alone, with no responsibilities, no children, not even Aaron. I wasn't rushing to go somewhere or pick someone up or get something done. So, I went in the Plaza, sat at the bar, and had a glass of wine at 2:30 in the afternoon. I chatted with the bartender and only grumbled silently when I realized that they charge $30 for a glass of wine at the Plaza lobby bar.

So, when I was driving with the kids after picking something up this morning and drove by a really yummy Middle Eastern restaurant that I'd only eaten at once before, I had a Plaza moment. With Ruby now over her illness but nothing on the agenda today (November 11, you know), there was nothing stopping me from introducing my kids to the wonder of falafel. And then, to be even bolder, after lunch (which they loved), we walked a few blocks to my favourite yarn store and, for the first time in ages, I bought some yarn. To knit with. Oh yeah.

And it ain't cheap yarn, but I didn't buy very much. When my aunt saw my mom and I wearing our Calorimetry headscarves at Thanksgiving, I offered to make her one. So I bought some really gorgeous turqoise merino by the Tanis Fibre Arts. And after making Fishnet Bandanas for Aaron's sister and her girlfriend I thought maybe I should make one for myself. So I bought this crazy Malabrigo colourway (I know, the fact that it's not hot pink shocks me). So yes, one day, and hopefully one day soon I will knit. Because that's something I like to do.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


November, you are deceivingly difficult. I thought after Halloween, I'd have some breathing room. But no. There are: things to make, presents to buy, cookies to bake, articles to write, stockings to stuff (and construct), houses to clean, parties to throw, kids to entertain, workouts to sweat out, friends to visit... you know. Oh, and I (and a nurse) am relatively sure that Ruby is getting over a mild case of H1N1. Yikes.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fingers And Toes

Finger puppets! A little team of finger puppets! These little dudes all come from the Arazni Aronzo book Baby Stuff, which is awesome. There are a bunch of finger puppets in there, and I had grand plans to make all of them, but I only got to six (there's a pig that I made that I found after I had already taken this picture. Sorry piggy, I swear it has nothing to do with that flu that I think Ruby may have).

I actually made these guys a while ago, when our kitchen renovation was going on. I promptly stuffed them into my embroidery bag and forgot about them. The problem is, they originally started off as a baby gift, but then I realized that no baby wants one of these finger puppets. They are far too flimsy and delicate for a baby, or even an adult to play with. I was thinking of maybe buying a couple of deep picture frames or shadow boxes and sticking them in there as little pieces of nursery art. That would be a nice baby gift, no?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Holiday Inspiration

Every year I look at Sew Mama Sew's Handmade Holidays feature with awe. In case you haven't seen it, every year (this is the third annual), the geniuses at SMS spend November corralling a bunch of sewing tutorials that are perfect for holiday gift giving and decorating. It really is genius. The folks there seem to have a really great eye and a really great aesthetic (not to mention great fabric to sell), and this feature offers so many ideas and so much inspiration.

That said, for the last two years I've jumped on the bandwagon too late to actually get anything made. As a public service, I'm gently reminding you about Handmade Holidays, so you can swing by there before it's too late. New ideas all throughout November. Check it out.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Golden Years

Twenty-three large bags of leaves. Just from the front yard. And there are still leaves on the trees, so we'll be doing it again before autumn is over. There was much jumping, rolling in piles, and crunching of leaves as the whole family helped with the job.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Weekend Thrift

I wasn't planning to stop at that estate sale. It's just, I had some time to kill because I was running early to where I had to be. And there it was, right on my route. It's not my fault there was some choice Pyrex, plus some Melmac. I couldn't help it. I only paid $20 for the lot.

I am not addicted. And I swear I am not on my way to becoming a hoarder.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

She's Got Style

Ruby Pink

Readers of both Angry Chicken and Posy Gets Cosy will recognize this. There's a wacky site called Polyvore where one can create a "set" of clothing items -- essentially like Fashion Plates but in a more digital way (by the way, real Fashion Plates are going for fairly top dollar on Ebay these days). Of course, at the end you can order all the clothes online, but that wouldn't really be much fun, would it?

So, being a sucker for this sort of thing, I thought I'd try it out. When my kids were awake. Big mistake -- Ruby took one look at my laptop and needed to take a go at it. Above is the outfit she put together with very little guidance from myself. It's very pink, but actually, considering it was styled by a 4.75 year old who is obsessed with Barbies and Princesses, it's pretty awesome. It is kind of Barbie Girl, but also sort of hipster '80s retro. And her taste isn't cheap, either. That cardigan alone is $372!

Dream Date

Here's my Dream Date outfit. I should note, I do not really dress like this, but if I had a lot of money and went to swishy film openings, I might. Oh, and if these dresses were made to fit women who are above a size six.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Oh, The Luxury

Is it too early to start making Christmas ornaments? Yesterday when I was on my mission to reluctantly purchase the pinkest, most plasticy Polly Pocket extravaganza imaginable, I noticed that my local mall was in full-on Christmas mode. Actually, I was even more shocked to see that by the morning of November 1, my grocery store had done an overnight transformation from Halloween to Xmas decor and that they were actually selling fruitcakes. It's November, people. But I digress. Back in September, I ordered both the Walk In The Woods and Ice Skate Afternoon felt ornament kits from Alicia. Normally I don't go for these kits -- I'm kind of cheap and would rather save some dough by putting together the supplies for myself. But, the luxury of letting Alicia do it for me (and thus, letting me avoid a trip to the craft store) was too much to resist.

I have a bunch of work stuff I have to do before I dive into these beauties, but I'm really excited about them. The plan is to give one each to Ruby's teachers, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to part with them. Either way, I'm excited. And while the kits are sold out, Alicia does still have PDF patterns for sale. Less luxurious, but just as festive.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Wedding Bells

Do you have a go-to wedding gift? Like when nothing on the registry seems quite right (or there is not registry at all) and you're not sure enough of the couple's mutual taste to buy something really unique? My go-to is what you see above: the deluxe edition of Scrabble.

My friend Joanne told me years ago that this is her go-to gift, and since we've never been mutually invited to a wedding, I promptly stole the idea. I usually add a little note" "Now that you're an old married couple, here's a little something to help you pass the time." We're going to a wedding reception on Saturday. Guess what I picked up today while helping Santa shop for some very coveted Polly Pockets?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Under The Sea

As promised, here's the post-mortem on Ruby's mermaid costume. As previously mentioned, I used the Simplicity 4043 costume to make Ruby the costume that she'd been asking for for a year. I thought I'd be able to find an official Disney-sanctioned Ariel costume, but alas, the pattern books only had Cinderella, Snow White and maybe Jasmine. Because most amateur sewers aren't crazy enough to make a mermaid costume. Time to start calling me crazy.

Regular readers know that I like to sew but I'm more of a doll and pillow sewer. Basically, other than a very simple skirt, I would never make myself something to wear, because I take pride in the way I look when I go out in public. I like the instant gratification of sewing, but I'm not great at paying attention to meticulous detail. So, this pattern was definitely a challenge for me. Also, the material was a bit finicky -- stretch knit with a sequined lace overlay, lots of poly lining, and a shiny, very synthetic satin-y thing. Basically, that meant that the magic of pressing was not an option and I actually did melt the fabric in a few places. Oops.

I did make some modifications to the pattern to make it easier/less time consuming. I skipped on some of the sequin applique, and hand-stitched the stuff I did use, rather than machine stitching (though I did do a machine stitch under it to get a quilting effect). I skipped the zipper and the boning. I did not properly finish all of the inside seams of the lining. But I finished it and Ruby loved it. And I did take a look at some of the store-bought Ariel costumes in the Disney Store (which were basically just a cheap-o pencil skirt with some fins sewn on the side) and, frankly, mine is waaay better.

A note on the photos: why did I not actually take a full body shot of Ruby in costume so that I can admire my work 20 years from now? And prove to her what a doting mother I was when she was little? Either way, you get the drift, and believe you me, she did look like a beautiful mermaid.