Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Last Bits

I so wanted to stitch up a bunch of ornaments this year - thinking way back in January that I could easily do one per month.  Sheer folly for me to think that, I know.  I only got one ornament made this year and this is it:  my Nordic reindeer.

This was more of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of project.  I borrowed some Scandinavian knitting design books from the library and stitched the motifs I liked.  I had plans for a few more, but you know...

Last week I finished up a couple of other projects.  I wanted to make My Favourite Girl a dream catcher using one of the doilies her great-Grammie had made many years ago.  I did a lot of hunting on Pinterest and Google images to figure out how to put it together.  I'm sorry the pictures are so terrible, but these things were impossible to photograph with any degree of success!

The feathers are made from felt and fabric that has been fused together.  I used some of my extremely coveted Liberty fabric pieces for some of the feathers, but I have to tell you it was really hard to cut into it!  Seriously, my hoarding instincts need to be overcome!

I hope she likes it: at 11 she does appreciate the work that goes into hand made things, and it does give those doilies another life outside the linen closet.  I didn't cut them or anything so they are still perfectly intact.  She will like knowing she has something of her great grandmother's, who sadly passed away in the spring time.

I've still got things in the works for Christmas:  today I'm giving a carved wooden dragon a "do-over" and I have some stockings to finish.  This is the kids last day of school before the break so therefore my last day of uninterrupted quiet.

I wish you all a very happy holiday and a creative and healthy New Year!!  Thanks so much for visiting and your sweet comments!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Craft Party

We hosted a 'Holiday Crafternoon' here yesterday for some of My Favourite Girls' school mates.  I had done something like this before, way back when the kids were five and seven, but I was interested (and a little anxious, truth be told) to see how it would go over with 11 year old girls.

I spent a lot of time looking up fun crafts to make: something they would feel excited to make and proud to take home.  We had three tables of crafts, plus a good portion of the kitchen counter.  In the end it ended up being too much: not because they didn't have time to finish, but they were just crafted out.

The girls were all very enthusiastic about the crafts, but I think the cookie houses were the biggest hit.

The crafts available to make were cookie houses to decorate; hot chocolate cones; candy sleighs; chocolate covered spoons; bath salts; and a variety of ornaments.

I had a table of paper crafts to make as well, but the girls decided they wanted to watch a holiday movie instead.

I have to admit this was A LOT of work to put together.  It would have been a considerable expense too if I did not already have most of the supplies.

Mr Crafty World and My Favourite Boy were sent away from the house during the party, happily I believe.  After dinner My Favourite Boy decorated a cookie house with the left over candy and it was a joy to watch him happily piping on icing and deciding where things should go.  
Suddenly things felt so festive and fun again.  He then said he wanted to make all the crafts the girls did while he was out, so the kids and I sat around the table and crafted away the night.  It was wonderful, and it made me happier than I had been all day.  It was decided that next year it would be much more fun to have another crafting party, but just us.  I couldn't imagine anything better than doing my favourite thing, with my favourite people, at my favourite time of year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


This year I finished my gift shopping early.  I wrapped everything too; made sure each child has the e*x*a*c*t same number of gifts and put them away where I will find them.  I can't tell you how liberating this has been.  Truly like a gift to myself.  Since then I have been able to do fun stuff - purely indulgent stuff that has no deadline and is just for me.  Things like: crocheting lacy things for my neck and a completely frivolous candle sleeve.

I made myself an earring holder from a thrifted frame and wall paper, plus a little chicken wire and stash trim.

I helped My Favourite Girl make a pillow for her Girl Guide gift exchange in a completely non-stressful way:  ie. not between me putting something in oven for dinner and setting the table, all the while watching the clock and kicking myself for not picking up something at the dollar store.  It was a hit, I hear.

The feather pattern is from magazine called  (I think) Make It .  She did all the hand stitching herself and even the machine sewing.  I must really be relaxed if I let her use my sewing machine!

I have a few gifts to make, but there is no pressure:  I am thoroughly enjoying the process and putting lots of good wishes into every stitch.  I should be done by the end of this week.

Now I'm drinking eggnog flavoured coffee ( one of the lovely hostess I received from our Christmas party last weekend); listening to my Dixieland Christmas CD and contemplating doing a little bit of card making.  Oh, life is good when your holiday shopping is done!

Thanks for visiting:)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cosy Things

The weather took a cool turn last week, leaving no doubt that fall has come.  The kids went back to school and I have been nesting; doing all sorts of laundry and clearing out and cleaning.  At night my creative time has been spent crocheting cozy things; thick and soft yarn have been the preferred choice on my hook.

I made two more neck warmers with a lovely variegated yarn.  Funny how the colours are almost the same as the hydrangeas I picked a couple of days ago.

These are still waiting for some buttons: going through my button box to find the right ones usually takes a fair bit of time. ( Pattern can be found here.)

I also made Fiber Flux's Vanilla Bean scarf using some really soft and chunky Country Loom yarn.

 It only took two nights to work up so was a really nice project to work on.  I liked it so much I am making another in Homespun.  The scarf uses two skeins, so has been great for helping me "de-stash" a little bit.

I have done a lot of baking too.  Plum cake and jam squares, lemon loaf and muffins.  I guess I'm making up for all those times in the summer we craved something sweet but didn't want to turn the oven on.

The weekend was chilly and rainy so I put away my summer clothes and brought out the fall-winter ones.  It took me a whole day, but I tried on everything and purged quite a bit of it.  I was rather disappointed to see how much grey and black make up this wardrobe though; seeing them all hung up together makes for a sombre effect.  I think I may have to add some colour to perk things up.

Of course now that I have done that I see the forecast for the week is temperatures in the high twenties.  Cosy things will no longer be on the agenda but will be replaced with things like cleaning out the car and removing the last of the old baseboards from the living and dining rooms.  Bring back the chilly weather please!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Daisy Crazy

When we went on our West Coast vacation  a couple of weeks ago I wanted a quick, portable project.  I also wanted to use up some of the cotton yarn that I swear was reproducing on its own in the basement.  I started making these daisy dishcloths and got addicted like you wouldn't believe.  I even bought more cotton yarn just so I could make more.  I ended up making eighteen!

I gave one away; I will probably make three more; and no, these are not all for me.  After making the third or fourth one I decided I will donate these to our church bazaar in November.

The other portable project I took was an ornament kit I bought years ago.  I thought this would be the time to finish it off for good instead of donating a partially opened kit to Goodwill.  One night of movie watching and I had all these teeny tiny angels finished.

These really are tiny: each one is less than an inch long.

I will make some hangers for them and they will get added to the church bazaar pile along with the dishcloths.  Two more reasons to feel good about purging my crafting space!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Back To It

  As of yesterday summer holidays are officially over.  I wasn't so eager for the kids to get back to school this year: we had a g-r-e-a-t summer and I was sorry to see it end.

The last two weeks of our vacation were spent on the West Coast and it was so terrific nobody wanted to come home!

I kind of overdid it yesterday with all the back to routine busyness, so this morning I have been taking it easy and making myself a little memento of our trip.  On the last day of our vacation I saw a post done by Jacquie over at her blog, Bunny Mummy where she showed her sweet crocheted seagull.  I knew that was totally perfect so I made my own:

If only I could have stuffed him with the scent of sea water, blackberries and cedar.  I had to settle on lavender instead.  Thank you for the great idea Jacquie:)

Now that he is done it's back to purging and organizing for me.  It's almost become a little habit:  this morning while I was making breakfast I reorganized two cupboards.  That's a great start to the day!

Not everyone is so happy.

This is Libby wearing a long sleeved onesie.  The only time she isn't scratching all her hair off is when she is asleep.  I make her wear the onesie while she is inside to keep her from cutting her skin with her claws while scratching. We think she has some kind of allergies because the poor thing is itchy all over and has been most of the summer.  Tomorrow we go to the vet and hopefully get some relief for our poor pooch.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Operation Organization: Linen Closet

I can really be my own worst enemy when organizing.  If I decide to organize the linen closet, I will think, "Oh!  Wouldn't a pretty new shelf liner be lovely?"  Followed by;  "It really would be nice to have matching baskets to hold my stuff."  I love Pretty.  I really, really, do.  However Pretty doesn't get things done; not in this house.  So I organized the linen closet, and Pretty will just have to wait.  Of course, now I feel pretty awesome every time I open the door.

This is half of what I took out:

I have accumulated a lot of curtains in this house.  I don't have many other linens in here because I keep them in the bedrooms and bathrooms where they are used.  This is almost a junk closet.

This is the other half:

This is where I am now:

All of my batteries are current; meaning I checked all the expiration dates (did you know they put expiration dates of batteries?)  Expired batteries and toxic cleaners are in the pile for hazardous waste recycling.

I got rid of the extra red towels that always bleed in the wash.  I got rid of the double size sheets that don't fit any bed in this house.  I have half a shelf that is empty!!!
I put an empty orchard basket on the bottom: this is where the things that need to go to Salvation Army will be kept and not on top of my clothes dryer or on the trunk at the end of my bed.

My vintage apron which I use to clean in is now hanging up for easy access along with the ceiling fan duster.  Yes, the apron is  a bit much, but really it does make me feel more efficient.  When I take it off I know I'm done.  Homemade cleaning supplies have been made/topped up.  Did I mention I have half an empty shelf?

Pretty is taking on a whole new definition for me today:)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


 For all the 'green' laundry make-overs I have been doing, the following project has made me the most excited.  Funny to get so giddy about doing laundry, but hey, I'm pretty easy please.
I have read about dryer balls for a while, but I never did like the thought of putting plastic in the dryer, no matter what they say.  So when I saw you could have an all natural wool version that you can make yourself I was eager to try it.  It's not rocket science or anything, you just wind 100% wool yarn into balls and felt them.  There are lots of tutorials online - just look for 'wool dryer balls' and you will get lots of them.  

I let the balls run through several washes over the course of a few days to get felted.
I used two cream coloured skeins of  wool from Michaels, and with my 40% off coupons I paid just over eight dollars for four balls. If you compare that price to the plastic ones it is about the same or even better depending on where you get them from.   For some reason I got 2 1/2 balls out of one skein, and only 1 1/2 out of another.  I must have been tense while I was winding the second skein:)  I like the fact that I can add a few drops of essential oil to the balls to give my clothes a bit of a scent too.  I tried them this morning with a load of laundry and they really did cut down on the drying time.

Because I'm a little um, particular when it comes to displaying things, I had to put them in a nice container.  This silver bowl - which I love but doesn't see the light of day much - seems to be right at home holding my lovely, wooly dryer helpers.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Something Fun

I picked this frame up from someone's trash around a year ago.  It's plastic, and was painted a dark gold colour.  I think anyone growing up in the 1970's saw something like this on a daily basis.
So it sat around forever:  do I need a new mirror?  No.  Do I need a new photo frame?  No.  Should I paint it white?  Pink?

Really I just couldn't stand my endless debating about it:  it's a plastic frame for goodness sake.  So I painted the frame  with a leftover can of baby blue spray paint and bought some chalk board paint for the backing.  Enter my new, inspirational chalk-board.  It's hanging off the side of my pantry so you see it as you enter my kitchen.  I am in love.

I love my little family.  Now I can let them know in one more way every single day.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Reconstructing Maggie B.

A couple of years ago I saw this quilted Maggie B.  hanging travel bag at Value Village.  I loved the fabric on it so much I had to have it.  I also loved the price:  99 cents.

 I didn't need a travel bag - I prefer a wider, counter top version - so it sat around for a while and then became a holder for my little bits of fabric.  During my recent craft room purging sessions I got rid of the little bits of fabric and the Maggie B. bag went into the thrift store pile.

After reading Unstuff Your Life, I knew I had to make some mini bags to make it easier when I switch purses.  Seeing the opened up travel bag on my counter gave me a great idea...

I cut the bag apart above all the zippers but the top section.  I cut the sizes I needed from two central sections and stitched up the tops.  The two ties were just the perfect amount to fold over the remaining raw edges and seal up.

For less than an hour's work (and 99cents!)I have four pretty new bags to use.  Two for my purse; one for a cross stitch project bag and the last one is for My Favourite Girl to store her knitting needles.

I love that I get to see the gorgeous chintz fabric but can still see what's inside them.  Definitely money and time well spent.  (And a perfect example of why it's good to wait at least a day between purging and charity drop off!)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

You Watch One Documentary...

... and you put your life in upheaval!  Maybe 'upheaval' is a bit strong, but it has certainly created an energy shift around here.  A few weeks ago I borrowed Chemerical from the library.  It's about the toxins we use regularly in our lives, via things like cleaning products.  There was nothing new in this video for me.  Years and years ago I used to make my own laundry soap, air freshener, deodorant; all that stuff, because I read this great book.

Then I had babies, and moved house three times, and life just kept happening.  Costco came out with a great unscented laundry detergent that none of us were allergic too and all I had to do was whip out my debit card instead of grate a bar of soap. That's a big sell for a new mom who wants to do creative things with her spare minutes - and no, grating soap did not make the 'creative' cut. Conveniently they also sell a huge box of OxyClean powder and mega bottles of dishwasher detergent.  Those large dispensers of disinfectant wipes were wonderful at doing a quick and thorough job of cleaning bathrooms too.

After I watched the video I decided to go back to my old way of thinking and go non-toxic.  I pulled all the toxic substances out of my cupboards and could not believe how much I had.  I also couldn't believe how much room it all took to store this stuff.  So I made a batch of laundry soap and did not grudge the ten minutes it took me to grate the soap.  It was ten minutes to myself on the front steps on a beautiful summer day.  That's a good memory to attach to soap grating!  Then I organized my laundry cupboard since I had all this extra space.  Then I started looking on the internet for other home made cleaner recipes and organizational ideas.  That sent me off on a fury of organizing around the house.  Closets, basement, pantry, and cupboards have all fallen victim.  A trip to the library to find a cleaning book led me to this book, which has had the biggest impact so far.

This book isn't just about organizing your spaces, it makes you examine why you have the stuff you do.  I was shocked to realize how much stuff I am holding onto for 'someday'.  When the heck is that ever going to come?  The last few days have had me purging stuff I never thought I would get rid of.  I have felt liberated to get rid of some of these things, but also very sad and a bit angry too.  Sad because I have to realize that the person I was planning to be when Someday came isn't going to materialize either.  I let go of about 50 cookie cutters because so far I have not become the mom who bakes and beautifully decorates sugar cookie works of art.  The saddest part is finally admitting I never will.  If I haven't done it by now, what's the likelihood of it happening later?   The anger part is kind of the obvious - knowing how much money and/or time you invested in these little dreams and now letting them go.  The upshot is thinking how much a local charity is going to make by re-selling these things of mine.  Kind of nice to think those trinkets will pay for someone's overnight stay in a shelter or a hot meal when they have no other access to one.  There's perspective for you.

However, despite these feelings I will press on.  I am not going about it in a terribly organized way:  I might be looking for something in the storage and end up clearing out the room.  Drawers and cupboards and getting done in a random fashion, but at least they are getting done.  I will not have any great before and after shots to show because this really is feeling quite spontaneous to me, and when the mood strikes there is no time to run for the camera!

The last few days I have been attacking my craft cupboards, and it has been really hard.  After two days I am starting to see some empty spaces and feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I am starting to think that it might be pleasant to do some sewing without having to clear off the table first. I am focussing on the things I like to do the most and getting rid of all the rest.

 When I start feeling down I think of how I always seem to be cleaning up things and putting things away instead of doing fun stuff.  I think of how the next time we buy a house I want it to be smaller, so all of this stuff will not fit into it anyway.  Our current house is really too big for a family of four and I want to spend less time cleaning and filling it up.

 I need to break up with Stuff and it's really hard.  Now I am starting to feel bad again so let's talk about other things.

In between  all this organizing and purging I have been doing a bit of what I love.  I started a new cross stitch (seen above).  The blue poppies remind me of trips to Butchart Gardens with my Mum.  Lovely memories to stitch by.

I have been crocheting flower dish cloths like a madwoman every night and every time I take the kids to the park.

These are rapidly cutting down on my cotton yarn stash and are a great project for me to satisfy my desire to make one object in multiple colour ways.  Six down, many more to go.  I am taking these on vacation with me.  When I am finished they will all be donated to our church holiday bazaar in November.

We celebrated two birthdays and I finished up a little stitchy project for My Favourite Girl:

I started the cross stitch portion in January; finished it in April; and only got the backing sewn on the pillow two days before her birthday!  I also stitched two cards for the kids too.

It's been a good summer so far, despite the self re-examination.  After all, I am always telling people that changing your thinking is the hardest thing to do.

We had to cancel our camping trip due to work issues, but we did manage a lovely day at the beach.

That trip inspired me to get a few more rows done on my ripple blanket.  Yes, I am STILL working on it!  I put an updated picture in the sidebar.
I think that's enough rambling for now.  Today is a big drop off day for some of our stuff.  It should feel good:)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Holidays

We have coasted into our summer holidays at a lazy speed.  We get up late; stay in our pyjamas longer than we need to; then occasionally go out and do semi-essential stuff like grocery shopping.  So far - no complaints!

Though I was a day late for Canada Day I did finish this blackwork Canadian flag heart.

 I have to say I did not enjoy working on this project.  I love the look of black work but it's obvious it is not the needlecraft for me.  I didn't even try to keep my back looking neat after I made my first mistake.  I pulled it out every so often, but found it tedious and then I would put it away.  I have been working on it off and on for the last three or four years:  I have lost track now.  Putting the final touches on it didn't even make me excited:  I am hoping that next year when I pull out my Canada Day decorations I will be happy to see it.

Something I did enjoy working on was my new felted bag.

I think if I had just used one colour I would have gotten bored quickly, but I enjoyed making the colour changes.  It was fun/nerve wracking each time I opened the pillowcase after washing to see how much the bag had felted and shrunk each time.  The white yarn didn't felt as well as the blue and yellow, but I didn't want the bag to get any smaller so I left it after three washes.

I used a vintage sheet to make the lining: the sunny yellow and white remind me of the wallpaper I had as a kid.  The handles are from a mixed lot I got at the thrift store.  Today was it's first day out and I was happy with its roominess and the way it feels on my shoulder.  I still may crochet and felt a big yellow flower for the side, but it feels OK without it too.

I couldn't go a week without getting a few thrifty treasures.  Today we had a short stop at Salvation Army and I picked up this pressed glass bowl and a jar full of old buttons.  I will have fun sorting through those!

I was gung-ho to make a Charlotte Russe in the bowl when I got home but my ladyfinger biscuits have mysteriously disappeared.  I think I have two favourite little people to blame for that.  Perhaps tomorrow, though I just realized I said last week I was going to make a lavender cake.  Decisions, decisions...

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