Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Looky Looky

...at my new Cath Kidston insulated picnic bag! I found it at a store called Jackryn France on Saturday. I had been to that store after we first moved here, but haven't been back for two years. Mr. Crafty World and I went on Saturday because they are having a sale, and I fell in love with this bag. I knew I would have to go/sneak back this week to pick it up. Better yet, I signed up on-line at their site to become a member and I got another 10% off. Isn't it beautiful?! And it's huge! Dishes, food, picnic blanket; it will all fit in here. I'm so excited to go picnicking this summer! I picked up the little iPod case too, even though I don't have an iPod. It was marked down to $8 from $20 so it was another good deal. Happily my camera fits perfectly inside, and if you have looked at camera cases these days you know they are a lot more than $8.
We went to Kleinburg this Sunday and it was really nice. It was so gloomy outside that looking at the Tom Thomson and Group of Seven paintings at the art gallery were just what we needed. We bought a membership so we can go back any time, and coincidentally there are tons of walking paths and picnic areas that we can use too. It was just extra incentive to buy the bag!
We walked around the cute little main street of Kleinburg and had lunch, but didn't go into any shops. I'll save that for a day to go myself or with a girl-friend. There are just some experiences you can't share properly with little kids and spouses.
I bought more fabric stash today: I have another Big Project I want to start in the near future, and it makes it that much better if the fabric for it is on sale.

This is some of what I'll be using; the rest I should be able to get from my current stash. When I get started it (and don't hold your breath) I'll post some pics.

I'm off to volunteer at the kindergarten; always a lot of fun!

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bag Lady

... would be a good title for me these days. I finished off two more bags I have been anxious to sew. The first is another bag from Tone Finnangers "Sew Pretty Homestyle" book, and it's exactly like the one I made for my aunt last year that she almost didn't get! I managed to find all the same fabric and made one for myself. I forgot to put my gorgeous, vintage burgundy rose on the handle; I'll have to edit the picture later. This is the fourth time I've made this type of bag and it's getting quicker each time. I'll probably make one more for someone else and then stop.

My second bag is my first attempt at (machine) quilting. I'm happy to report I didn't pucker anything! I made it using a charm pack I bought last year, with a pattern called "Charm Party Tote" by Penny Sturges.
I was really careful and tried not to rush, and it was worth it. It took me all day to sew it up yesterday but it made for a most enjoyable day. I had no intentions of keeping this bag; it was one of those projects I wanted to try out and then do a "for keeps" version for myself. I think this one will stay with me for a while. At least until I find another charm pack to use!
Here's the scrummy patchwork on the back.

Last night I was at the Creativ Festival. It was nice to go, but compared to other times I have gone it was a bit of a let down. A lot of vendors were not there, specifically the two I went looking for! A lot of vendors had also downsized their booths and there just didn't seem to be a lot of new and exciting things or any really great deals. I saw some beautiful charm packs of fabric, but they were always included in a quilt kit, which I don't want to get just yet. I picked up some fabric and a few things for card making, and some charm packs for my Big Project. I decided at 7:58 last night I was going to start it, and I had to make my way to the other end of the hall in order to get the supplies before 8:00. Funny how a creative impulse can make you hustle your derriere! I'll give you sneaky peeks about it over the next little while.

Today the weather is gorgeous so we plan on enjoying some outdoor time. Have a great weekend everybody!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Retro Night Review

I guess I wasn't expecting fireworks, so really I shouldn't be too disappointed. Our first retro dinner was the "Left-over Ham Casserole". Perfect because I had cooked two hams for Easter and we only ate one. For this dish I had to butter day old bread and put half of it into a casserole dish. Then I layered ground up ham mixed with mustard, and cheddar cheese. Topped that with another layer of buttered bread and poured a mixture of pizza sauce (the recipe called for tomato sauce, but I was out, so I subbed the pizza sauce), milk and three beaten eggs over top of it all. I was to let it chill for one hour, bake it and serve immediately. There was my first problem: I was so gung-ho to get my dinners for the week made that I was finished the dish by 10:30 Sunday morning and we weren't going to be eating it until Monday night. The dish was pretty soggy, and I'm guessing it's because it soaked too long. The bread was also supposed to be day-old, ie. somewhat firm, but the plastic-like Wonder bread I bought never gets to that stage. It was also pretty salty, so I'm very glad I didn't use the salt that was called for in the recipe. I figured there would be enough salt from the ham and pizza sauce, and I was right.
I liked the ham in it, but not the mushy texture. I don't think I would even try this again using better bread and salt-less tomato sauce.

Last night we had Ginger Beef Pie with Pureed Turnips and it was much better. At least the pie part, because I thought the turnips were bitter. For the pie you have to cook "economy beef" ( I used stewing beef) with onions, carrots, mushrooms and consomme for an hour and thirty minutes all together, then pour into a dish with more consomme and cover with pastry to bake. It was pretty well received all around. Would I make it again? I'm not sure; I have a meat pie recipe I like that doesn't take as long to bake, so that would be my first choice. This picture doesn't look very appetizing but I forgot to take a photo when I first cut it up. We had already eaten this much before I remembered to get my camera!

I won't make the turnip recipe again. I had to cook potatoes and turnips separately, then mash and whip them together. It was very creamy, but the turnips were bitter. Actually I used a rutabaga, but that's a kind of turnip isn't it? It called for a one pound turnip and I don't think I've ever seen one of those purple and white turnips that big. I have always found one of them to be bitter, and couldn't remember which at the grocery store. Mr. Crafty World and the Houseguest seemed to like it, but if the cook doesn't, that's the death of it!

I managed to get a few things out of my sewing "In box" the other day. The first was the ballerina quilt! Yay!! I bought it before Christmas and told My Favorite Girl it wouldn't be ready until spring-time. I didn't do too badly on the deadline!

For those of you that don't know the story, I fell in love with the ballerina quilt last fall and bought it at Home Sense. I ended up taking it back because I just couldn't justify the $100 it cost. If My Favorite Girl was two or three years old maybe, but there's no way she's going to want to still have it when she's nine or ten. I also didn't think I could get three years out of it, because truth be told it's not the most well made thing in the world.

Flash forward to December and the kids and I are perusing the thrift stores. What do you know, there's a very well worn ballerina quilt for $20. The over-all quilt was OK, but most of the ballerina skirts were very faded and a lot of them torn. I took a gamble and bought it, and since then I have been replacing the tulle and cotton skirts. It looks so much better and I'm happy I paid the $20. My favorite girl wanted more colors on there, so I added some green and yellow as well. Now it's a true original!

I also finished my "Josephine" purse. That's my name for it because the blue and white stripe-y part just makes me think that. It's actually called "Bailey's Bag" and it's a pattern by Cotton Way.

This is my first purse and I'm pretty happy with it. There is room for improvement that's for sure, but I'm not going to point everything out here. I made notes on the pattern while I put it together, so I think the next one will go a little more smoothly. It's nice and spring like, and goes well with my new blue coat. I figured since I'm going to the Creativ Festival on Friday night I should get it done in time for that. I know that when I go there, no one will think I picked it up at Winners!

Have a great day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Real Finish

This is rare for me, to sit down and work a project through to its completion. Its real completion, not just the completion of various parts. I got this pattern off the BHG website. There's some cute stuff on there if you can just ignore the pop-ups. Honestly, if I want to subscribe I'll subscribe!
I used some charm pack pieces and I am happy with it. Maybe not the buttons, but it's my first one. I actually doubted I would be able to pull the corners off, but I did it. Now I want to make more, and I probably will. I hope my family likes pincushions.

The light over my sewing table isn't the greatest, but it is cute. Underneath the pincushion is one my pieced "things". I'm not totally sure what I will be doing with all my pieced pieces, but I'm having fun just fooling around with my rotary cutter and charm pack fabric.

Yesterday at the quilt show I saw the most gorgeous fabric; very pink and green and turquoise and gorgeous. I almost bought it, but common sense prevailed. At least until tomorrow when I go to Evelyn's anyway. I was trying to stay away from Evelyn's because they are having a great big sale, and really I don't need any more fabric. I was planning on going at the end of the month, when the sale is almost over and then the sale selection will be slimmer. I have a feeling my plan isn't going to work, because they will just have more new stuff to look at and dream about owning. Like the fabric I saw yesterday.

I do have another reason for going though; I am going to the Creativ Festival on Friday night and I need to buy tickets. Never mind that I could buy them online. I'm pretty excited because it's been a year since I was last there. We will only have about 2 1/2 hours to spend so there will be some pretty serious looking and shopping. No browsing, that takes too long!

Since I have most of my dinners made already for the week, it gives me a chance to do some more sewing this week. When I sew I use up some stash, and then I have justification to buy new stash. If only I could get Mr. Crafty World to see how simple it all is.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I can't believe

it's been a week since Easter already. In hindsight I've had a busy week so it's no wonder it seems so far away.

This week I had time to do a bit of playing with some of my new fabrics:

I managed to do a bit of thrifting:
From the top; tablecloth, apron and sheet for fabric. I was so pleased how they all looked good together.
And I finally found some primroses. I have been looking everywhere for these!

Mr. Crafty World and I got back into our ballroom dancing yesterday and it was a great time. I highly recommend it to anyone. Who new the merengue was such a great work-out?
Completely un-fun bits of the week involved getting probed in areas I won't mention as part of an extremely uncomfortable ultra-sound. Funny how as an adult you no longer get a lollipop or stickers after seeing the doctor/specialist/technician. Having certain kind of procedures warrants something to take home, other than the memory, don't you agree?
Our new carpet is finally broken in: you know, someone has to make the first spill or mess on it and then you can relax a little. It happened in our house around 1:30 in the morning on Saturday as the tummy bug got purged from Our Favorite Girl's stomach. Not once, but five times, two on the carpet - in different rooms. Mr. Crafty World and I spent two hours dabbing at vomit in the middle of the night, and it took another two hours the next morning to get rid of the rest of the stains. Just another episode of Adventures in Parenting.
I really like to cook, and often we have "experimental night", or even "experimental week" when I get a new cookbook or want to try a bunch of new recipes. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't, but thankfully Mr. Crafty World and the Houseguest never complain. In fact the Houseguest will consume all the leftovers of the flops as well as the successes, so that's a huge bonus.
Anyway, this week we're having three experimental nights, but with a twist: Retro Experimental Night. I collect older cookbooks (pre-1965 if I can swing it), but I don't usually cook anything out of them since I really just like to browse. However, last week I decided I should start cooking from them, so for the next little while our experimental nights will be retro ones. I'm not going to go all gung-ho and only cook from vintage cookbooks for a year; I'll leave that to some more adventuresome bloggers. I do, after all, have two little critics to feed that aren't as understanding or palate-adventurous as Mr. Crafty World and the Houseguest.
This week my recipes will come from this book, Helen Gougeon's Good Food.

Mrs. Gougeon used to have a column called "Tested Recipes" in Weekend Magazine and these recipes are a compilation of the "best". The best from pre-1958 anyway. I spent the morning making up three dishes, which we will enjoy (I hope!) this week: Ginger Beef Pie, Pureed Turnips and Left-Over Ham Casserole. What I enjoyed about preparing the dishes was that there was nothing I had to buy extra ingredients for, except the bread for the casserole. I pretty much had everything else and it was nice and simple. What I found a little different was that everything took longer to put together, because everything is from scratch. I cheated a bit by using a ready-made crust for the beef pie, but that's it. No thirty minute meals here!

I have prepared the dishes but haven't eaten them yet. Monday night will be the first go. I'll let you know how it all turns out, and post the recipes if I think it's worth it.

Today is another gorgeous, spring day, and I'm going to the quilt show in Newmarket. I'm even being accompanied by Mr. Crafty World. I did warn him, there will be fabric there, and no doubt some shopping booths where I will be looking and shopping. I don't know if he is coming just for company or to keep an eye on me. It should be fun though.

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Prep

I really love Easter. I love that it comes in springtime; I love rabbits and cute little chicks and I love all the pretty colors. I think I love it too much, because I seem to feel I need to do everything. There are so many cute things to make and do that I get over-inspired I think.

Last year I decided three days before Easter Sunday that my kids needed to have a homemade stuffed toy in lieu of any bought gifts. I figured this might take any disappointment out of the fact that they didn't get any bought gifts! So for three nights solid I sewed and stuffed and dressed two fiddly-to-make geese and two little hearts to hang on their baskets.
This year they told me what they wanted, and so far I have been sewing and stuffing and dressing two, much smaller, animals. I have the rabbit done, and tonight the sheep will be done. In between sewing I have been baking and searching for new and exciting Easter treats. So far I've made two giant sugar cookies for their new baskets, and melting French chocolate for bunnies. I have been drooling over the beautiful creations by Bakerella and was inspired to make these little guys:

Bakerella's are much more professional looking, but there were no criticisms when I unveiled these to my own Crafty World family. I used Tim Horton Timbits for the chicks instead of cake and frosting mixed together. Most obviously because it was easy and cheap. I also thought the inside didn't have to be seriously sweet because the candy coating is. Mine got rave reviews, especially from Mr. Crafty World, so I will definitely make these next year - probably the bunnies. Do check Bakerella's site out; it is just outstanding.

We made sugar cookies and decorated them as a family yesterday. It was so much fun. I just love the pastel colors of the icing. These are the creations of Our Favourite Girl:

And these were made by Our Favourite Boy:

I found a recipe for chocolate covered marshmallow eggs at Roots and Wings: I was so anxious to try these out but I have run out of time. I'll have to save this one for next year. The same goes for the chocolate nests on Zen Cupcake. I bought the mini eggs, but I can't buy the extra time!

Today we went to the town's annual Easter Egg Hunt. We normally don't do things like that, but this year I decided we should. Mostly because this year you only had to find one egg, and redeem it for a loot bag; as opposed to other years where it was an egg-finding free for all. That's too stressful on a parent to watch! It was cold in the woods, and thankfully we found our two eggs in less than half an hour. The kids did a few crafts but the chilly wind outdid us. We redeemed our eggs and headed for a local diner for a late breakfast to warm up.

The kids are full of excitement for the Easter Bunny's arrival. They saw him today and gave him a hug, but knowing he's coming to the house in the wee hours makes it that much more exciting. What's not to get excited about, knowing that the next day you get to hunt for jelly beans and eat as many as you can before breakfast?

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter Baskets

This is what we woke up to the other day:

Can you believe it?! A day like that required one thing: spending the day sewing something pretty and springy. I cut up some of my charm pack squares (I think these ones are called "Spring Fling" by Me and My Sister designs) and pieced them together, not having any idea what I was going to do with it.
I really liked the soft Easter baskets in Tone Finnanger's Crafting Springtime Gifts book, and decided to try one out. I thought it turned out really swell. Please excuse the light; I only have fluorescent in the basement and didn't want to wait until tomorrow to take the picture. I figured it was so cute, and absolutely needed to belong to My Favorite Girl come Sunday. Since I can't leave My Favorite Boy out, I ran to the fabric store and picked up some fabric to make another one. It turned out a bit bigger and floppier for some reason, but it will do just fine to hold jelly beans and a chocolate bunny.
I also made some little carrot treat bags inspired by these ones on Bunny Cakes. I'm really happy with the way they turned out, and I'll put them on the kids plates at Easter dinner. Those are the old fashioned, candy sticks inside in case you're wondering.

Next on the sewing agenda are a pink lamb and brown bunny. Will I get them done in time for Easter? Stay tuned...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The best kind of birthday presents

...look like this:

Lots of kiddie energy goes into every detail. What treasures can be inside?

What every mummy needs on her birthday; smiling handprints, styrofoam eggs and glitter glue (from my own stash but I'll forget that temporarily!). There were also many little dinosaur stencil drawings and a beautiful spring card.

What can be inside this little blue package wrapped and taped by two little boy hands?

A pink snail of course. He knew I was having a Pink Party that day, and made the snail to match.

In case I forgot how much I'm loved, a tiny picture of My Favorite Boy and myself. It's called a "Sweet Tart Heart" picture, and I'm the one on the right!

Mr. Crafty World knows how to put together a few gifts himself:
Fabric charm packs and a lovely table runner kit in my favorite colors to play with.

Plus a lovely mug to sip my tea from.

My Pink Party was lovely. Good friends, lots of food and flowers and good conversation. I am very blessed.

I have to admit it was not a day without folly. I will consider this my Gift of Humility for my birthday. Thinking it might be fun to have my hair "put-up" for the party, I made an appointment. I said "somthing simple", and got an "up-do" suitable for a 16 year old going to her prom. I am a few decades older than that and needless to say I looked ridiculous. My Favorite Boy was the first to hand me my hairbrush when I got home and said I was going to brush it out. I had to take a picture though, just to preserve the memory of what my son said looked like a tree with a nest in it. I suppose it is spring after all...

I can, however, say that my own creations turned out well and were enjoyed by all:

I couldn't resist this picture from above: I thought it looked like a buttercream bouquet.

I was finally able to get some answers on my son's head shaking/itchy nose. I took him back to the doctor and asked again for her to look up his nose. It only makes sense (to me anyway) that since that's what he's complaining about, it would be worth looking at. After much insinuation that I was being over-concerned because I was his mother, she finally looked up his nose and what do you know? There is a red lump up there apparently worthy of an X-ray. It could be a cyst or an infection. I was told the x-ray revealed large adenoids, and he will now be referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist. While I still don't have concrete answers, I am happy to know that something is finally being done. I am tired of having to pester these doctors about my son's head-shaking and deflect comments like, "Just ignore it", and "I wouldn't lose any sleep over it". Well of course you wouldn't doctor, because he's not your son.

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