Wednesday, December 29, 2010
One of the best gifts that I had the pleasure of wrapping this year was a trio of art pieces that Ruby created to give to her two grandmothers and her Aunties. We borrowed this idea for single colour collages from a project that Ruby's kindergarten class did at the beginning of the year. Each child was assigned a single color and had to collect objects from home to use in their collage. Then they painted a canvas a solid colour and Mod Podged their objects down in whatever manner they chose. The pieces are displayed in the foyer of the school and they're amazing. Ruby was assigned black, which is kind of a boring color to do, so we decided to give it another crack with some brighter colors at home.
Having a well stocked craft room makes this project a lot easier, since we could grab scraps of yarn and ribbon and cut off pieces of yarn to our hearts content. Ruby chose the colours she used, taking the recipients' tastes into account. It took us the course of an afternoon to glue everything down and we had a lot of fun doing it.
I really love the finished look of these guys. It thrills me to no end when a five year old can so easily make something that looks like real life ART. Everyone who received a picture was beyond thrilled and my little gal has never been more proud. Neither has her mother.
Friday, December 24, 2010
I can't believe it's already Christmas Eve. Again. Here's a little gingerbread house that Ruby decorated at her Nana's house. Leena so graciously put it together the day before, which really is a job that I've sworn I've never do again (I'm not very handy with that royal icing). But Ruby and Henry both came home from a day with Nana with beautiful gingerbread houses. Hooray.
I did manage to make one Christmas Craft -- the Gingerbread Lady from one of Alicia's ornament kits. It was just one of the three ornaments, but I managed to finish it and gift it to Ruby's amazingly wonderful kindergarten teacher on the last day of school before break. Did I photograph it? Of course not.
Anyway, a happy holiday to all of you out there. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, have a lovely day. xoxo.
Monday, December 20, 2010
So, we had a Christmas party. It was a little over a week ago and I'm still deep in recovery. We had about 60 people (including babies) come celebrate in our 1,000 square foot home -- do your own calculation to figure out how many square feet per person that works out to, but I'll assure you that space was tight.
I'll admit, the main reason I insist on a Christmas party every year is so that I can try new recipes and show off my collection of vintage tableware. I realize this is pathetic and kind of anti-social. But the food was glorious, with the Fontina Artichoke Dip and my mother's famous Olive Cheese Balls being the the out-of-the-park hits. I have most of my recipe hijinx documented over at the other blog. Check it out.
For now, I'm elbow-deep in Mod Podge helping Ruby with her super-secret Christmas gifts. Full report after they are unwrapped.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Okay, I'm hardly an expert sewer, so this tutorial thing is a little strange for me. But here it goes. Last year I had this fat quarter pack of Xmas fabric and I got it in my little head that I would make patchwork stockings for the whole family. I couldn't find a tutorial online that suited my fancy, so I just kind of winged it. By virtue of a Christmas miracle, I finished them on Christmas Eve and they actually turned out pretty awesome. I know that anyone who knows anything about sewing probably could have figured out an easier way to do this, but this is how I figured it out...
1. Make a big piece of patchwork fabric. I realize that this is kind of time consuming and wasteful, but since I was making six stockings, it was the easiest option I could come up with. I figured out how much yardage I needed and I started cutting out squares. I did 2.5" by 2.5" and cut out roughly a million of them. A million.
2. To make my fabric I (kind of) randomly laid out my squares on a sheet of light fusible interfacing. I very carefully ironed them down (thus fusing them), leaving as small a gap between squares as humanly possible.
3. I stitched the squares together, by folding over the interfacing and seaming right over it. I've seen a lot of projects that use this method, usually called fusible quilting or something of the sort. Basically, you're just sewing the squares together in strips, but they're already attached to each other because they're stuck to the interfacing. Does this make even remote sense? It will make sense when you do it. After sewing the first row together, fold over the next row and do that one. Once all of the vertical rows are together, trim your seams and repeat the whole process with the horizontal rows. You know have a very solid piece of fabric that will look like this:
4. Now just use this piece of fabric like you would any piece of fabric. I used a stocking I already had and liked the shape of to make a paper pattern. I traced six stockings out on the patchwork fabric, held my breath and cut.
5. I then cut out stocking shaped pieces in red fabric and from a fleece baby blanket (for batting) and basically made a mini stocking-shaped quilt. I pinned them together and did some stitch-in-the-ditch quilting to make little quilt sandwiches.
6. I cut out some more stocking shapes in red felt and with the right sides together, sewed them together, leaving the top open. I fashioned a little fold over out of fuzzy white fabric and sewed it to the top of the front (quilted) piece. I finished them off by sewing a little loop to the corner to hang by the chimney with care. The end!
If you have any questions, please please please comment or email me. I realize that this explanation might not be totally clear, so your questions and input are much appreciated. xoxo.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
It is so like my girl to come home from school with puppets like these. Three separate ladies on three separate days to put on plays at home. The bejeweled one is obviously the favourite.
p.s. In other news, I just finished reading the late Rue McLanahan's memoir and it really is a fun read. Now I've moved onto John Waters' Role Models, which is so far, charming, funny, and sweet. Reading is fun.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
I'm a little ashamed to say that I'm pretty sure that I bought the kit to make these socks last December. I planned to knit them as a gift for my sister-in-law's birthday, which was in April. That sort of didn't happen. But look, all finished with plenty of time to spare before Christmas!
These are thrum socks, made from a Fleece Artist kit. I have no idea how readily available these kits are, but they're totally awesome. The lady at the store gave me the very sage advice that I should cut the roving in half so that I'd be sure to have enough for both socks. Very, very smart, that one. So, they were made with no problems at all, just roadblocked by the busy-ness of my own life.
I think these socks are pretty hilarious. With the furnace running non-stop I'm feeling pretty puffy through the joints as it is, and when I tried them on my ankles resembled the last week of my second pregnancy. I also like that they stand up by themselves like macabre little sculptures. But mostly, they're incredible because they were made for the girl with the coldest feet in the world and I have made it my holiday-knitting mission to keep those feet warm. If this doesn't do it, nothing will.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Craft fair season, she has begun. I'm trying to control myself, but this kind of replaces thrifting for me in these cold winter months. I'm also trying to stop myself from turning into a crazy Christmas lady. I'm not sure how well I will succeed.
p.s. That's a felt tea cozy you see. I bought it for myself, which I know is a pre-holiday no-no. But darn it, it does keep my teapot warm.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
In case you'd missed it, a few months ago I took on the insane task of "cooking my way through" Betty Crocker's 1963 classic The Cooky Book. I'm not doing it Julie Powell-style (trying to do the entire thing over the course of a year), but I'm just baking the cookies in order whenever I need new cookies in my jar. By my estimation it will take me about five to ten years to get through the 450 recipes. Just in time for my kids to be off to university.
I am pleased to announce that I've made it through the dreadfully boring first section: Cooky Primer -- Drop Cookies. Man, oh man, this has been painful. I have never been so excited to make a butterscotch brownie (the next recipe in the book). Seriously.
In other Cooky Book news that you probably don't care about, I've decided to deviate from my schedule to make Christmas cookies. I will jump ahead a few chapters and start working on those, for obvious reasons. I realize this is so completely dorky that it's comical. I am self-aware of my own insanity. And I never want to eat Molasses Jumbles again in my life.
For a full run-down on my Cooky Book adventure, swing on over to the Cooky Book tag at my other blog.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
I don't often post pictures of my kids, but since this is kind of a craft blog, I needed to show off my Halloween costumes. My kids' Halloween costumes are the reason I learned how to sew in the first place and I will sew them Halloween costumes as long as they'll let me. I'm pleased to say that they really do seem to love them and R often says that she thinks store bought costumes aren't nearly as nice. Score!
R decided she wanted to be Princess Leia a long time ago. And she's been talking about it non-stop. Her teacher actually asked me if we were big sci-fi fans because R talks about Star Wars all the time and is constantly drawing pictures of herself in her (then) hypothetical Princess Leia costume. H wanted to be Darth Vader to compliment the Leia costume, but I wasn't about to let a two-year-old wander around in a full face mask. I managed to convince him to be a pirate, with the promise that he'd be "very very scary."
The Leia costume is the angel costume from McCall's 2350. I thought about adding a hood and a mock turtleneck for accuracy, but ended up just making the pattern as is. R didn't care. I made a simple belt that buttons in the back. Easy peasey.
H's was a little more involved, but very satisfying. I used the toddler pirate costume from Simplicity 3650 and skipped the sash because the shirt wasn't particularly long. It was really fun to make. I planned on using the same white broadcloth as I used in the Princess Leia dress, but there wasn't very much left. So I fished through my stash and found a huge swath of sheer drapery material. It was perfect. My new machine whizzed right through these costumes, and if I may say so, several people asked where I bought Henry's custom-made costume. Success!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Halloween, how the heck did you sneak up so fast? For the past couple of weeks I've kept thinking "Oh no, Halloween is this week!" and then I realized that it was actually a couple weeks away. Now, it's almost here, and I am sadly underprepared. Costumes to make, a playgroup party to plan, pumpkins to carve and I'm kind of pretending that none of it is happening.
But the costumes are actually almost finished. Of course, I can't show them to you until the day comes (mainly because I don't want to overexcite the kids with a costume modeling session), but I'm really really happy with them. After the hellride that was last year's mermaid costume, this year has been a breeze. Ruby was easy: she's going as Princess Leia, and after the investment of a proper wig, all I had to do was make the angel costume from a Christmas pageant pattern and a belt. Easy peasy. Henry is going to be a pirate. That one was a little more involved, but it was actually really fun and despite some risks, seems to have turned out great. Feeling good. Full costume pics and specs on the patterns after everyone is sufficiently filled with candy.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I don't usually write about local politics -- or anything local or political at all -- in these parts, but my city, which is usually viewed as being conservative both socially and fiscally, voted in an amazing progressive mayor last night. His name is Naheed Nenshi and he is the very first politician in this province that I have actively supported. I'm very politically-minded, but my politics are not usually favoured around these parts. Until now. A Harvard-educated master in public policy who supports great transit and opposes urban sprawl is my new mayor. You have to understand Calgary to understand how very very big this is.
It was a pleasure to support Mr. Nenshi and as of this morning I am very proud to live in this city (though, I do still miss my true love, Toronto). I've embedded this video, which will probably only be enjoyed by 30-something Calgarians. You know me, sentimental.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
The husband and I just returned from a fab adult trip to Las Vegas. You don't know how wonderful it was to enjoy delicious restaurant meals and not have to constantly be checking to make sure no one was blowing bubbles in their milk or eating crayons. Or maybe you do.
This was my second trip to Vegas and the first time around I was really disappointed to see how little of the Vegas of yore is present, even when you venture downtown. This time I found it, in an outdoor lot, courtesy of a not-for-profit that runs what is called the Neon Boneyard. Enjoy.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Saturday, August 07, 2010
What could be nicer than a family trip to the beach, with a picnic packed and a nice picnic blanket? I started making this quilt in June -- my plan was just to do a quick and dirty patchwork quilt. A broken sewing machine (so happily repalced) and some serious binding procrastination threw me off track, but I finally finished my hand sewing last night. And I couldn't be more delighted.
What makes me most proud is that this gorgeous quilt cost me almost no dollars. The fabric on the top is all either scraps or garage sale finds, the back is a piece of solid gray from a garage sale and the binding is a very light denim, also thrifted. And the batting? Through a strange set of circumstances Aaron and I found ourselves in possession of a couple of Snuggies. While Snuggies are awesome in theory, the fabric they're made of is truly horrid. So rather than junking them, I used one as the batting for this blanket. It worked like a charm -- not as thick as a proper quilt, but with enough heft so it won't blow away at the beach.
So yes, think of me going to the lake, sitting down with my quilt and kicking back. And feeling proud that I finally finished something. Hooray!
Friday, August 06, 2010
I got one of those fancy new iPhones. Yep. Before you judge you should know the following: this is the first smart phone I've ever had and I did not stand in line for it (they were just released in Canada last week). My crappy flip phone had got to the point where it only had a two hour battery life after a full night's charge and since I'm hoping to work a little bit more come this fall, I really needed access to email when I'm out and about with the kids. And they're just really cool. And I'm already addicted to the Hipstamatic camera app. Yes, I just said "app."
Anyway, after getting the phone through my wireless provider (thankfully my contract was almost up so I got this baby at a fraction of the actual retail price in exchange for signing up again plus I didn't have to wait in line to get it) I went to my local Apple Store, breezed past the 300+ people waiting in line to get a phone of their own and asked the nice man there where the cases for the phone were. They didn't have any. A quick trip to the online Apple Store illuminated the fact that the store in the mall wasn't just sold out, but no one makes decent cases for the new iPhone yet. If you have one of the old iPhones there are dozens of cute cases (including some really lovely Kate Spade designs). For the new one? Nada. Not a problem if you're like my husband and carry it in your jeans pocket, but if you have a big crazy disorganized purse and don't want your phone scratched to pieces, this is bad news.
I really want a decent protective case that still gives me access to my phone, but until that happens I whipped up a little slip cover for my phone. It took exactly two minutes. I folded a piece of felt, sewed up the sides on the machine, trimmed the edges with pinking shears and slipped my phone into it. Not a perfect solution, but so easy. Like, so easy.
On a side note, Aaron bought a case for his iPad (yes, we're turning into that kind of family) that is basically this, just in really thick wool felt (it would have been too thick to put though a sewing machine -- it actually offers a bit of protection beyond being merely scratch proof). It cost $45. For a felt envelope. Seriously.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
In an effort to stop using the same five or six prints for every single thing I make, I bought some new fabric. My super awesome friend Heather directed me to a fab sale on Westminster quilting cotton over at Fabric.com a few weeks ago (sorry, it's long over) and I went a little crazy. This stuff was super cheap -- I'm talking less than $3 a yard. So, I took advantage, getting a hodgepodge of stuff with no particular project in mind. If I was thinking I would have bought from a single collection so I could make a fancy coordinated quilt, but who am I kidding? I'd way rather just stick this stuff in the stash and mix it up with my existing stash of vintage and non-vintage fabrics when the right project comes.
Speaking of which (and speaking of those same prints that I use every single time), I'm patiently hand sewing the binding on my picnic quilt, which I need to finish next week if I want to take it on our summer road trip. Oh binding, why? Why?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Hey it's me, taking a break from my self-imposed blog hiatus. This summer has been so busy, I've barely even had time to thrift, which is just insane to me. So many garage sales, so little time. But I did hit a really crazy estate sale on the weekend -- the person in question had some pretty solid collections of random things -- mostly broken old toys and butter churns, but I did snag a couple of things.
Above, as you can see, is a decorative trio of golden nuns. If you wind them up it plays the song from the Sound of Music (you know, the nun one). I think this will come out every Christmas. I love it.
Since Aaron was busy, I had to drag the kids along and they went crazy over the mountains of crappy toys. They each snagged a lunch box (Henry wouldn't let me take his Snoopy box away from him long enough to photograph it, he loves it so) and Ruby also chose a bunch of She-ra toys. I'm about five years too old to have been a She-ra fanatic, but we did a google search to identify them. Good times!
Monday, July 05, 2010
My KitchenAid mixer is fixed and back in my house. It cost $120 to fix the gear -- which hurt, but is much cheaper than buying a new one (and I've realized I can't live without one). Can I bake every one of the 400 cookies in Betty Crocker's Cooky Book? It might take me a decade, but I'm gonna try! First cookie on the list attempted over at the other blog.
Thursday, July 01, 2010
Happy birthday to the best country I know. Canada, your government has disappointed me greatly this week, what with the complete affront of civil liberties and mass arrests that happened this weekend in Toronto. Not cool, government. In fact, holding such a meeting in the most populated area of the country was not cool. But this isn't a political blog, so I'm not going to rant. Because I do have a big ugly rant in me. But I'm saving it for my friends and loved ones. Just know, Mr. Harper and friends, you will not have my vote next time around (though, who am I kidding, they never had my vote in the first place).
Onto happier things. Check out the awesome Canadian flag that Ruby drew to hang on our window. She wanted to start her day by flinging the front door open and yelling "Happy Birthday, Canada," but then lost her nerve. She even drew out this plan. I'll translate for you -- Step 1: Make balloons. Step 2: Eat toast and peanut butter. Step 3: Eat cake. Step 4: Give presents to Mommy and Daddy. Step 5: Sing a song that she wrote. Step 6: Have a party.
It didn't work out quite that way -- instead we spent the day at the awesome historical village theme park. And soon we will eat barbequed food. And drink iced tea. After all, it's a day to celebrate.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I hit an amazing estate sale yesterday -- I swear the woman who passed away did not buy a single thing after 1958. While I'm always a little sad to rifle though a deceased person's things (especially as their family looks on), I always assume that the previous owner would like the fact that her stuff is finding a new home. I know I would.
We found some other things, but I was absolutely thrilled to find a lot of vintage children's illustrations, in the form of books, comics and (get ready for it) paper dolls! I don't know why I'm so drawn to vintage children's epherma, but I can't get enough of it. I'm only allowing the kids to play with one book -- the rest is far too precious. I just get the shivers looking at it. I hope you enjoy it too.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
It's another indoor day here (we really wasted our money putting Ruby in soccer this year), so I figured I'd do a random list of things that are making me happy these days:
1. Contrary to the above statement and the last post, I'm loving the rain. It rains here so rarely under regular circumstances, so I'm loving it. If it continues for another week I may take that back.
2. Garden gnomes. And other lawn ornaments that strike my fancy.
3. Reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And the new season of True Blood. Yes, I am weak.
4. Smoothies spiked with Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer. Aaron calls it my "new age food" and wants nothing to do with it, but subbing my regular cereal in the morning with a Vega shake has done away with a lot of stomach problems I was experiencing. Sure, it tastes like dirt, but you get used to it.
5. Things that come out of my children's mouths. Example from Ruby: "Dad, did you know that an iPad is just an iPhone but really, really big?" followed by "Mom, have you ever had pizza made from humans?"
6. The World Cup.
7. Coconut cream green tea.
And that is all for now. Enjoy the rain or the sun, wherever you are.
Monday, June 14, 2010
There was an oasis of sunshine this weekend to break up what's seemed like weeks of dreary rain. Yesterday was a perfect hanging out in the backyard with friends day -- our first of the year. And yes, friends, there was Pimm's. I followed Martha Stewart's method, which garnishes with lemon, but I swiftly realized that omitting cucumber was a tragedy. It is a mistake that will not be repeated. The act of making Pimm's Cup on a Sunday afternoon, however, shall be repeated throughout the summer. Mark my (gin-soaked) words.