Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 2014

It came in a flash and went out just as quickly: now we are on the eve of a new year and new stuff to do!  I really wanted to maximize what little spare time I felt I had in December to do seasonal things, and avoid feeling stressed at what should be a happy time of year.   I think I rather like posting at the end of the month because I get a better feeling of accomplishment.
I started the month with a finished family room!  This project had been in process for a while, and even longer in my head.  Now this is probably my favourite room in the house:

I have to confess I am not so great about sending Christmas cards.  I always want to make my own, yet can't seem to find the time to sit down and make them.  I keep hoping I will do it and then it becomes so late I either send out those ones from the Diabetes association to arrive after the holiday or none at all.  Guilt, guilt, guilt.  This year I was on top of the game:  home made cards for (almost) everybody and mailed before December 12!  My secret?  I made these cards last year, too late to send then, but just waiting for my messages this year.

My only gaffe was in not sending one to our friends in Australia; I miss the international mail deadline every year, so have decided to send one to them at another time of year.  That way I can write a nice long and newsy letter.  Promise!

Eighteen little snowmen were created; most of them as favours for a tea I had for the volunteers I work with:

 I got a fair bit of other crafting done as well, making it a very satisfying month:

An enjoyable little stitching project from a British craft magazine.

Hearts made from the left-overs of my thrifted sweater pillow:

A new bauble wreath to brighten the front door:  this time made with unbreakable baubles:

Two of eight clothes-pin snowflakes made on a craft morning with a neighbour.  I hung these in my front window and they looked really pretty from outside.  I may even keep them up for January.

The only cross stitch ornament I made this holiday:  gifted to friends who had visited Paris this summer. Stitched over one on 28 ct. fabric this nearly did my eyes in!

More pillows made from thrifted fabrics:  this time a navy cabled sweater and wool kilt.

In the lazy afterglow of the big day I have been making away as well.  My Favourite Girl convinced me this fabric would be perfect for my crafting space so I used it to re-cover my swivel chair.  She's a smart girl, that one!

 I made these chubby little bugs from a Tilda book borrowed from the library.  I think it's Tilda's Spring Ideas.  My Favourite Girl said they look like Teletubbies with wings and I think she's right:

And there you have it:  December.  Now the decorations are packed away; the cookies almost eaten; the tree will come down tomorrow ('cause we're a little superstitious in our family about that) and we can embrace a new year.

Wishing you a New Year filled with health, happiness, creativity and all things good!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hammers and Hooks

Lots going on here on the DIY front and adventures in yarn!  I mentioned last time my family room was getting a make-over; well I'm knee deep in it now and there is no turning back!
For a couple of years now I have wanted to add board and batten panelling to the bottom of the walls.  Of course it couldn't just involve putting it up: painting had to be done (a different colour on top and bottom); slats needed to be found and cut and primed and painted.  In hindsight I now know why I was so hesitant to start this snowball!  I have been cashing in credit card reward points for gift cards to the hardware store and making a bit of progress.  I'm not finished yet, but I do have one small wall all done:

The top of the wall has been repainted from a tan to a light aqua called "Calm Thoughts" (Beautitone paint).  I love the paint colour, but I loved the old one too.  I think the old one went better with the furniture, but the new one brightens up the room which is much needed.  The old colour wasn't dark by any means, but it really didn't reflect the light.  It can be so gloomy and dark here in the winter that any extra light we can get is very much desired.
This week I am hoping to get the rest of the battens cut for the other walls, and then I will happily put my saw away for the winter!
I knew that when I painted this room I would use the left over paint for the laundry room.  So, rather than wait for a more convenient time I spent my nights painting the laundry room walls.  And the ceiling, because it needed to be done and I didn't want to take the ladder out twice!  When there are not huge piles of washing I will take a picture of that room too.  The colour looks really pretty in there though.

After an intense week of home improvement you can imagine that I was itching to get something crafty done.  I pulled out my hooks and yarn and crocheted three projects!  I have some beautiful yarn sitting in my craft cupboard that I was hoarding for the perfect project (when I found it).  First up was to use some beautiful Noro yarn I bought last year in Victoria.  The colourway has pinks, greens and tan in it.  It has always reminded me of those late summer hydrangeas that change from white to pink to green.  I used the pattern for the Bellflower Infinity Scarf, which was really quick and easy to stitch.

The next yarn to use up was another Noro, this time in beautiful blues and purples.  I wanted a project that I would use, and that would use up all of the yarn.  Happily the Calm Cowl from Ravelry fit the bill perfectly.  This was so quick to work up and I think all the single crochet really enhances the colours in the yarn.  Best part is, I used up all but about eighteen inches!

My last project is actually for someone else.  I found some chunky, Red Heart Light and Lofty yarn at the thrift store this summer, and it happens it was just enough to make a cozy shawl.  I stitched this up over the weekend and now it just needs the ends darned in.  The colour is Cape Cod Multi and I used the pattern for the Arrow Lake Shawl from Lion Brand.

I love making this shawl and I loved watching the colours change as I stitched.  This one is a snuggler for sure!
All that hooking used up eleven skeins of yarn from my stash which is great.  Now I don't feel so guilty asking for more for Christmas:)

Who knows what inspiration will grip me this week:  housekeeping would be a good one; perhaps some make ahead meals?  Both of which have been sadly neglected while I arm myself with hammers, paintbrushes and crochet hooks...

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Finishing Fest

I'm so happy to share this post today!  Be warned:  there are lots of pictures.

I only stitched one Halloween ornament for myself this year, and I didn't even finish the last stitch until November 1.  I was about to put it away with all of my other stitched, but not finished off, pieces when I realized just how many I had.  Since it was a cold and snowy day outside and I had nowhere to be, I couldn't think of anything better to do than to turn all my fall and Halloween pieces into smalls.  I had piles of ribbons and fabrics; buttons and stuffing everywhere!  After one long night and a few evenings I am proud to show you these:

Designs from Prairie Schooler and various issues of JCS Halloween. The purple witch hat on the 'Potions' ornament is just too sweet!

The square that says 'Fraidy Cat' is the back of the cat ornament in the previous photo.
You can tell how old some of these have been sitting around:  I stitched the costume bears for my kids when they were little beans and I was just starting out cross stitching.  Funny how aida fabric looks so rough to me now.

This was a freebie design from somewhere.  A thread company maybe?  Doesn't the fabric work perfectly with it?!

My French skeleton.  I hunted everywhere on the internet for this pattern!  You can find it here along with some other great stitchy stuff.

A Brittercup Kitty from a past JCS Halloween issue.  I wish I had stitched this over one, but that was before I ever did that. I was so happy I found the perfect spider button in my stash.  I also thought the 1930's reproduction print worked really well, even though it's not Halloween themed.

I used a lot of my own over-dyed threads on this one.  I tried a twisted trim for the first time using some garden twine.  I think I will definitely try that again.

Here I was getting dried up for new and novel finishing ideas, so I reverted back to the small pillow for the last two.  This is another design I wish I had stitched over one so it would have been smaller.
This one is a freebie from Plum Street Samplers.

And finally, the last one.  This year I was determined to stitch this after printing out the design several times.  I even got it all kitted up and was planning on stitching it over one with my own threads.  Well what did I find in last year's stitching?  This design; stitched with my own threads only over two!  Freebie by Nouveau Encore Designs.

I don't think I have to tell you what a feeling of accomplishment I have now that all this stitching is completely finished and ready to display.  It will be so great next year to pull these out and display them with all my other finished pieces.

Oh, but that's not all! 

 No siree!  In addition to stitching and stuffing and embellishing, I have been cutting and nailing and painting.
I have slowly been giving my family room a makeover, and last weekend brought a gust of energy to step up the process.  Over the summer I installed two Ikea bookcases, with plans to add trim to give them a built in look.


Next was to remove the gross old trim from the window and add something a bit nicer.  I love how it makes the window look bigger too.

A proper window ledge!  My Favourite Boy said I could display things on there:  he knows what it's all about:)
(Lets just ignore that sloppy paint job:  the walls are getting re-painted soon so I wasn't too careful.)

Et voila!  Lots of good things finished off this week.  Let's hope the momentum continues a bit longer:  I have two gallons of paint waiting for me and some new power tools to try out:)

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The weather here has been cold, rainy, damp and grey, grey, grey. Not much fun for walking in the woods or raking leaves, but perfect for feathering my nest.  Probably my most favourite thing to do in the world!

I've been baking:

Mini cupcakes for our church coffee hour:  a great excuse to use up those fall sprinkles and pumpkin doilies I found while cleaning!

Black Bottom cupcakes from my Grammie's recipe box.  Apparently this recipe came from my Mum, but I don't ever remember having these growing up.

A bit of sewing to warm things up a bit.  These have been a big hit with the family:

I used sweaters from the charity shop.  I want to make one more and have the perfect sweater to use, but the only problem is that it's my flumpy sweater.  You know, the one that's one or two sizes two big for you that you grab when you're sick; or it's raining outside; or to go over your pyjamas on the weekends.  At this point it still looks decent enough to wear in front of non-family members, so really I shouldn't cut it up just yet.

Decorating for Halloween:

The mantle is where the bulk of my decorations are.  There are a few spots around the house with some other things, but it makes it easier to pack it all up later on when I have less things out.  Of course there are pumpkins on the front porch too:)

And lastly I have been stitching and finishing:

Pumpkin and Pins from my last post turned into a pinkeep with one of my Fimo pumpkin pins at the top.
The oak leaves design was a freebie, but I cannot find who the designer was.  I finished it as a biscournou last night and backed it with a mustard coloured fabric.  Love the look of the biscournou: do not like making biscournous!  I can never get them lined up just right so I think next time I will try the mattress pincushion finish.

The chilly weather also delivered me a nasty cold.  Yesterday I planned to do absolutely nothing and just rest.  What a tonic that was!  I watched a chick flick and Midsomer Murders on Netflix, and sorted through all my cross stitch magazines.  At the end of the day I felt so much better, and have my magazine collection culled by half.

Today the sun is shining and it's so nice to see it after all that grey.  Despite being productive during the dark days, it's nice to admire my things in the sunlight:)

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Time Fillers

I will  never understand the fact that when I have lots of time to work on the things I love to do, I don't.  Last week I was so busy with so many little things, and yet I managed to accomplish an insane amount of crafty nesting projects, decluttering, baking, and cross stitching in addition to my normal domestic bits and outside obligations.  So weird.  I think the lesson here is to just stay busy, and the creative bits will follow!

So first up, I made a new bed for Libby.  This was fun, mostly because I used a thrifted sheet and too small duvet.  The best part was I started and finished it in the same evening.

I love the fabric - I think if this sheet was on my bed I would be too happy to sleep.  So far no problems with the dog.  We keep this bed inside her crate where she sleeps at night.

On Thanksgiving weekend I stitched up this cute freebie from My Happy Memories blog.  I am still deciding how to finish it, but so far pin-keep is holding in at number one.

The lettering isn't really crooked, I just have to stretch the fabric out.

In other stitchy news I received my Halloween Ornament exchange from my swap partner.
This is what Julianne from California sent me:

Of course the treats are looong gone!  Actually she sent four lollipops and only two made it into the picture:O  Thanks so much Julianne!

Here is what I sent to her:

The lollipop isn't really Halloween themed, but is made from maple syrup and that's the Canadian component!
It was a really fun exchange and I want to thank Kim from Wisdom With Needle and Thread again for organizing it.

Someone gave us a box of miniature chocolate bars at Thanksgiving; I used most of them to make Candy Shortbread Bars from Martha Stewart and they are fantastic.  This time I put some peanuts on top to cut down on all the chocolate a bit:  I will definitely do that again!

I think what I'm most excited about is may latest Pinterest inspiration project.  I have been looking at all sorts of organizational ideas lately, and the idea to organize the console of my car seemed like genius.

I know it doesn't really look like much, and I didn't take a 'before' photo (who would do that anyway?)  I will say how much nicer it is to retrieve my sunglasses or find the hand sanitizer than it was before.  I made the organizer out of an aluminum foil box and some black duct tape.  You can't get much more thrifty than that!  Putting the CD's in a fabric case freed up the most space, and it just happens to fit perfectly next to the organizer.  I love it when Pinterest works for me!

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An Apple a Day

This was so fun and quick to stitch up:

I used cotton from my stash and the free pattern is from here.  I wanted it to be a pot holder so I crocheted another apple all in red and used single crochet to stitch them together.  The instructions call for the seeds to be made with a bullion stitch, but as I was having some kind of brain block I used a lazy daisy stitch instead.  Next year I would love to make one in Granny Smith green!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Falling In

This year I felt like I came into autumn kicking and screaming.  I did not want summer to be over, and I was so resistant to getting back into any kind of routine.  I have been slap-dashing it ever since September, but I think I'm finally ready to get back into the hum of my everyday life.

When I get overwhelmed with this, that and the other I always find it therapeutic to clean.  Yes, I said clean.  When I can get a small corner of my world in order, I feel in order.  That one cleared out drawer or sparkly bathroom motivates me to take charge and organize my days.  Unfortunately I don't have an immaculate house yet, but at least I am feeling the urge to make a start!

Getting things in order and the turn of the weather have made me want to nest like crazy.  Anything with warm colours is my new favourite, so I have been adding little touches here and there when I can.  I made some new cushion covers for the couch and changed the stuff on my mantle.

I have been thinking about making a wooden box for my mantle to put seasonal frou-frous in.  Yesterday I just happened to notice the two French wine boxes we have in the basement.  So, voila, a wooden box for the mantle that has meaning to us (from our trips to St. Emilion) and did not cost me any time or money to make.  Now I can just fiddle faddle on a decision of whether or not to stain them.  The kids and Libby and I went for a walk in the woods yesterday to gather some maple branches, and I have them stuck in floral foam in little jars inside the boxes.  I was hoping for some orange or red ones, but those branches were too high.  I settled on little orange pumpkins instead.
I got the printer's tray this summer when we visited the McKenzie Printery museum.  Some cross stitching; my retro pheasant Avon bottle and burlap banner make it autumnal enough for me.

I have been baking too:  oatmeal cookies with orange and brown Smarties; caramel popcorn with pretzels and Reese's Pieces:

...and these little morsels of awesome-ness:

Mrs. Smythe posted a recipe for Cider Doughnut Muffins the other day.  I thought they sounded pretty tasty, even though I have never tried a Cider Doughnut.  I thought it would be cute to bake up a batch in my cake pop maker and have them be like fall flavoured Timbits.  Well, let me just tell you that this tin was full when I baked these last night, and this is what is left less than 24 hours later.

About two weeks ago I was thinking of the creative projects I want to complete this fall.  Of course there are many, but I was absolutely possessed to crochet something new with new yarn.  Off to my LYS I went and came home with these pretty colours from the clearance rack:

Five of the six skeins are a cotton-wool blend and feel so good to work with .  The light brown is the same, but with a bit of silk in it.  It is a rarity for me to bring home the materials for a project and start right away, but I felt driven to get this going.

I love how it matches my mug!

Not much longer and my shawl is finished!  This is the Nordic Shawl from Annette of My Rose Valley.  This pattern was so easy to follow and truly a delight to stitch.  My only problem was that I didn't have enough yarn so I had to fudge the coloured band a bit and I was not able to complete the gorgeous lace border.  Despite all that, I am in love with it and would love to stitch another one sometime.

The size is generous and will be perfect for our cooler early mornings. Of course Miss Libby has to get her photo taken too!

Thanks for visiting!

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