Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Change of Pace

I am retiring my paintbrush for a while. A long while I hope! Now that I have finished my projects, I have free time. FREE time. I almost don't know what to do with myself. I decided to starty by browsing in my new books that finally came in the mail. I ordered these in July, and the Sew Sunny Homestyle one wasn't going to be released until the beginning of September. It's been very hard to wait...

All three are lovely on the eyes. I'm especially looking forward to hitting the thrift shops for some cute wool sweaters to felt for the projects in Warm Fuzzies. I really like Betz White's (the author) take on crafting and recycling. I think I will eventually buy her new book, Crafting Green. Actually I don't really buy these books, I order them with Aeorplan points. That's why my crafting library has gotten such a big boost in the last year!

I also received in the mail the latest Cath Kidston catalogue. Oh my! is about all I can say about it. I am absolutely, positively convinced that my life would be sooooo much better if I had this to use while baking:

Is it just not the prettiest little flour shaker you have ever, ever seen? Too bad it would cost $40 to ship it from England.

Seeing this adorable little sewing box reminds me that I have a work in progress that should be finished up soon. I just can't decide on what fabric to use, as usual.

When I see these books covered in Cath K's oilcloths, I think I need to do that too.

Oh my! There's so much to do with my new free time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Domestic Bloopers

WARNING: This post is long!

Sometimes I think I should read my tarot cards when I get up in the morning. That way I would know whether it was a good day to start/finish/work on the various projects I have on the go around here. Today would have been a good day to know that I should have just read a book or sat in the dark.

I was having a good week last week. I actually had some cupcakes in the fridge and candy fruit slices in the cupboard so the kids could make butterfly cupcakes. It's not often I'm that prepared.

I stitched up some sweet little robin eggs:

I made some vanilla sugar with the left-over vanilla pod I used to make homemade ice cream. I made jam for the first time in, oh, 18 or 19 years. I was really feeling in the domestic groove. "Yes", I thought, "I am now someone who 'puts by'". I was thinking of putting little red circles of gingham fabric around the tops. I bought more jars to make more jam. I own a canning pot now, and made a list of canning projects to come.

Mr Crafty World and I had put a new French door in our hallway. It was 30 inches wide, and we found out our doorway is 29 3/4 inches. I told M.C.W, "Just go by a planer and buzz the 1/4 inch off." By a stroke of fate electric planers went on sale for 50% off the next week. I picked one up; he buzzed off the 1/4 inch, and the door fits. I set to work painting the thing and removing all those little plastic rectangles that covered the glass.
I noticed my jam looked a little soupy in the jars. Two of six didn't seal. "No problem", I thought, "I'll just open them up; reboil everything with a bit of extra sugar and re-jar it". I filled up my new canning pot to sterilize the new jars for the re-invented cherry jam. I re-boiled my jam. The water in the canner was not boiling. It was taking forever. Not liking to stand around, I put the jam on low, covered it to keep warm and went to install the doorknob on our newly painted French door.
I learned that we shouldn't have "buzzed off" the side the door knob was supposed to go on. You know this little thing-y? It's pretty important. You also can't cut any of it off to make it shorter. When I put it in the door, it sticks out 1/4 of an inch. The same amount as what Mr. Crafty World took off with his planer. Short of buying a new door and trying again, there's nothing I can do to fix it:(
Feeling good and sorry for myself I took that thing-y out and just put the door knob on. When you have a door knob and no thing-y inside to make it a "working" door, it's called a dummy. Ironic huh?
While this dummy was installing that dummy, My Favorite Girl came to find me to "tell me something". Usually this has something to do with her being hungry or bored or reporting some injustice done by her brother. Anticipating such things, and not being happy at all, I let out one of those exasperated, "What do you NEED?"
"There's red stuff coming out the top of your pot and down the sides", she said. I had an instant flashback to four years ago, when I left my spaghetti sauce on the stove for less than two minutes to get My Favorite Boy out of his crib. She met me at the bottom of the stairs to tell me my sauce was "flip-flopping". Indeed it was; all over the stove, floor and ceiling.
Back in the present, I ran to the kitchen, and my cherry jam was boiling over the pot and all over the cooktop, even underneath the canning pot that still hadn't come to a boil.

After much cursing, I tasted the jam (it wasn't burnt) and ladelled it into what I hope are sterilized jars. I started with 6 jars and ended up with four and a half. That means there was 1 1/2 cups of sticky cherry jam all over my stove top. I ordered the kids out of the kitchen in case the jam under the canning pot caught fire, and waited for my four pathetic jars to have their water bath. When that was done and the jam was cooling on the counter, I heard the distinctive plink, plink, plink, plink of all jars having sealed. These plinks weren't met with glee this time, and I don't think anybody is getting a red gingham hat anytime soon.
Oh, but my morning wasn't over. The kids had made remarks after breakfast about there being brown mud on Our Favorite Girl's shoes, and could I please clean it off? I totally forgot about it until after the doorknob and jam fiascoes. Thinking I might as well do something properly today, I went outside to clean off the shoes. When I saw the 'brown mud' I didn't know what to do. All this drama between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Then I just laughed. What else was there to do? After all, how many raccoons do you know who can so accurately poop in a size 13 shoe?
This summed up my morning perfectly.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Race to the finish

I feel I'm at that point in the summer when there are less vacation days ahead than behind, and we start scrambling to finish all those summer jobs and accomplish those summer goals we put on our list in June. Do you feel like that? I liken it to coasting down a steep hill with no brakes.
I'm trying not to regret anything left un-finished or not even started. We have been busy, doing fun and not fun stuff, and I think the fun stuff outweighs the "un-fun". Talk to the kids and it's a different story mind you....

We had a nice mini vacation in Montreal and Russel, ON. I got my French magazines and didn't cook for 5 days. I got to visit Merrickville, ON, which is an absolute gem of a town. It's got wonderful, old architecture and the lovely buildings are filled with shops. Did I think to take my camera? No.
When we came home I felt full of energy and promptly bought some canning jars and a canning pot, and painted my powder room a lovely blue. I even bought the paint for my shutters: next week's little project.
I decided I needed to do something crafty in between home improvement. While cleaning the basement and decluttering my cookie cutters (gasp!), I came up with an idea to use up some shadow boxes I've had forever and some baking things I don't want to get rid of, but that I don't use. The result: hanging in my kitchen. I love them: too bad the picture is so crummy. I used one of my favorite fabrics for the back. It's a pale, bleached out looking blue with a strawberry print. Very vintage-y, and you know I love that!
The weather has turned incredibly hot and we are loving the sun and heat. I haven't even turned on the air conditioning. I'm deciding to take advantage of the heat for the next few days and try to relax a bit. No painting, no cleaning or de-cluttering. I hope to make some jam tomorrow, but that's not too much work :)
Before we left, I mentioned Our Favorite Girl was having a 7th birthday party. She's a Leo, so she got this stitched card this year.
We did a tea party theme, and the girls made flower arrangements in tea cups (all thrifted, of course, over the last couple of months) and jewelry. These are the before shots, and I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures of the girls finished arrangements. They were very colorful!
They had a tea in the dining room, with the lace tablecloth, china cups and silver tea pots. The girls were served small sandwiches, fruit and scones. It was all very lovely, maybe not so ladylike at times, but then again the oldest guest was 8!
Figuring my time to make a Barbie cake is getting seriously limited (I can't see the birthday girl wanting one for her 8th birthday or later), I did it this year. I'm really happy how it turned out, though the doll did start tilting toward the back quite a bit. Good thing the critics were all under 8, and didn't notice it looked like she had a bustle in front!

Loot bags were a little different this year. Since the guests would be taking home a flower arrangement as a party favor, I didn't make up extra bags of stuff as well. I had a four of these tea cup bags already sewn up from last year, and two more cut out, so I sewed up three more and thought the girls could put their jewelry in them. They also contained a candy bracelet and a 33 cent hair clip. I thought they were different, and I got my fill making them and got some old stock out of the house.

And that's it! That was my last two weeks. I'm off to enjoy the sun; you should too :)

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