Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Yes, the day is almost over (about five minutes left for those of you out East), but I've finally found a minute to wish you all a Happy Halloween! Our day was full of costumes, parties, candies, treats, friends and family. Hope yours was too.

And, for next year, as an ingenious kids craft, take some nails and use them to tack buttons, ribbons, fabric, pretty papers and other odd items to a mini pumpkin. Instant art!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nearing the Witching Hour...

Nearly all of my crafty time lately has been dedicated to full-on Halloween sewing mania, mostly because I elected to make Ruby such a ridiculously complicated costume. Here's a sneak peek at little Henry's equally simple costume. I won't totally disclose what he's going to be -- pictures will come after Halloween (conveniently, as part of NaBloPoMo).

What you see here is a Woodland Elf Hat, as seen in Amy Karol's Bend The Rules Sewing. I've made a few of these before, but they were adult sized and I kind of free-handed the pattern and cut and re-seamed as I went to size them properly. Let me tell you, when you do this pattern properly, it is the easiest thing in the world. I think the whole pattern (including cutting) took me about a half hour. Seriously, even a complete non-sewer could make this (I suppose if someone threaded their machine for them).

Now, how does one convince a 1.5 year old to keep a costume on? That, my friends, will be a much bigger challenge than making the hat was.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

First I Took Manhattan...

Hey you guys. I just got back from a glorious three-day (and four nights) trip to New York City. I've been to NYC many times before, but each time it is completely magical in its own way. It really is a special place. I'm too tired to put it into my own words right now, but Andrea explains it perfectly here, likening a short trip to NYC to being in a game show cash booth, desperately trying to grab as much loose cash as it blows furiously by. That's how I feel, exactly. Thanks, Andrea.

Anyway, I did manage to grab some of that cash. Lots of it. Over the past few days I:

*felt like I had a huge date with my love, with lots of me time thrown in
*went to a remote part of Brooklyn to see a friend DJ
*saw some Wild Things art in REAL LIFE
*bought pretty dresses
*visited some pretty dresses that I could never afford
*ate the world's most disgusting Ruben sandwich (well, half of it)
*tried a New York egg cream
*walked about 200 blocks (no exaggeration)
*had a drink in the lobby of the Plaza. By myself.
*dreamed of Eloise
*hit Broadway, saw famous people acting in person
*cried before the Rembrandts in the Met
*walked through Central Park as the leaves fell
*drank a lot of coffee
*ate real New York pizza
*saw Leonard Cohen play a concert
*cried a lot at said concert
*kind of experienced my life changing at said concert
*saw the inside of the Guggenheim for the first time
*ate at a fancy Upper East side cafe (kind of pretended I was Blair Waldorf)
*ate one of the most delicious dinners of my life
*cuddled with my love in a movie theatre
*walked in the rain, got soaked, didn't care

and so much more. Sorry folks, no pictures. I didn't even bring a real camera -- I kind of wanted these memories to be private, just for me and my mind. But I'm sure you can dream of how lovely it was. Ah, New York...

Monday, October 19, 2009


When we re-did our kitchen, Aaron really pushed for cupboards that went all the way to ceiling, meaning I had to give up a lot of prime display space. The cabinet designer left a little space for stuff above the pantry. Since I have so many vintage kitchen knick-knacks, I figured it was best to cycle stuff in and out throughout the seasons (to be honest, the main reason for this is so that I can cycle in my Christmas stuff. I'm crazy that way). After some delay, here is the fall display, which will stay up until Xmas (except for the stand mixer, which lives up there permanently).

And, speaking of seasonal, Ruby and I put up window decals this year for Halloween. On a rare trip to Walmart (I hate it there, but the fabric store was out of the felt I needed for Henry's Halloween costume), I picked up these weirdly retro decals. They seem like they may have been unearthed from the back of a rarely cleaned warehouse, but I suspect that some company is still manufacturing these, unaware of how cutely cool they are. It's nice to add a little friendly boo to the house.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review: Bend The Rules With Fabric

I have never made a secret of the fact that I would be a complete crafty reject if it were not for the guidance of Amy Karol's Angry Chicken blog. The girl's got style, skills, and humility and I've followed her for so long that I feel like I know her in a weird I-don't-actually-know-her kind of way. I loved Amy's first book like you wouldn't believe, so I was naturally very very excited to hear that she had another book on the way.

Bend The Rules With Fabric is very different from Bend The Rules Sewing, but it's still awesome. Rather than creating another sewing book, Amy has created a bunch of fabric projects (some of which do involve sewing), but the focus is on embellishing and sprucing up the fabric itself, rather than just sewing it into stuff. She starts off with some chapters that cover the basics, and moves on to projects that involve techniques like painting, stamping, printing with an ink-jet printer, dyeing, embroidery and patches. Some of these projects will already be familiar to Angry Chicken readers, others are brand-new to the book.

While this book is great — as I'd expect, the pictures and writing are all great — I don't think I'll get quite as much use out of it as I did the first book, simply because of my personal areas of interest. That said, there are a few projects in here that I definitely will try. My ultimate favourite is actually one from Amy's blog that I've been meaning to do for years: the Aunt Sarah and Uncle Pete dolls. Also, this book is more about inspiration, so there are a million ways that one could interpret and modify the various projects. So, stay tuned to see how I end up bending the rules with fabric.

Friday, October 09, 2009

In a much less ambitious nod to Julie and Julia, I've been trying to cook my way through my family cookbook. I recently dug out an oldie, but a a goodie: my mom's recipe for Smartie cookies. These cookies were beloved when I was a child, especially by my brother Greg, who still gets mooney-eyed if he thinks about them. They're not quite as magical as I remember, but still pretty good.

The key to these cookies is to use Smarties. Not M&Ms. I know this poses a problem to you American readers, but it really is essential. So do whatever you can do to find some Smarties for these cookies. If you really want to make them and want a girl to hook you up, I'll see what I can do.

Smartie Cookies

1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup Smarties, plus extra to put on top

Mix all the ingredients together (except Smarties) in the way you usually would do for cookies (i.e. cream butter and sugar, add wet, sift in dry). Carefully stir in the Smarties. Roll into balls and put on cookie sheet. Put one Smartie on top of each cookie (this part would be fun for a child helper to do). Bake at 375 for 11 minutes.

Monday, October 05, 2009

I Long To Be A Part Of Their World

Do you ever find yourself watching Project Runway and cursing a particular designer for their crap sewing skills? Then do you later find yourself working on a project on your own and saying "Wow, I feel bad for mocking Mitchell for sending a model down the runway wearing a sheer sheet. Compared to me, that man is a sewing genius." That's how I've been feeling these days. And I blame it on the Little Mermaid.

Last Halloween, while trick or treating, Aaron (who does not sew) innocently suggested that Ruby may want to be the Little Mermaid the following Halloween. Of course, Aaron had no idea that mermaid costumes are about as hard to sew as a little girl's costume can be, nor did he realize that Ruby would hold on to this suggestion for a whole year and not accept any alternative costume. So, I picked up Simplicity 4043 and bought my fabric.

Of course, being the relatively novice seamstress that I am, I did not realize that this pattern is fully lined. Or that it has a zipper. And involves quilting. Or that the fabric I chose melts under the heat of an iron, making proper pressing impossible. Yet I press on. Stay tuned peeps. I plan to conquer this one. That kid is going to be the little mermaid on October 31 if it kills me.