Monday, July 7, 2014

I can read this like a book

I had fun with the details

In the past few weeks there have been some changes around here. The biggest one is that I am back at work as a night receptionist at a local counseling centre. It is a great job, and the people are fantastic, so I am feeling very fortunate.
But, my crafty life is suffering just a bit as I adjust to figuring out how to budget my time.
We are also traveling to the cottage on the weekends.
One of my favourite things to do lakeside is to become immersed in a good book. As an early adopter of e-readers, I really enjoy not having to pack up all my books. Electronically, I can cart around a few hundred books at a time.
The front and the hook and loop closure
There is one tiny glitch. It is not possible to read an iPad screen in bright sunshine.
So, I have a new job, so I treated myself to a new Kobo e-reader. It uses paper and ink display technology so that the screen can be read even in bright sunlight.
There were e-reader covers available. But, they were all boring. I figured I could do better.
For the most part, this was entirely true.
I decided to use some of my very precious Cath Kidston scraps, found on eBay a long time ago. I consulted some of the many tutorials available online. Filled with inspiration -- and really -- a lot of hubris, I started putting it all together. I used some graphics from The Graphics Fairy ,as well as a tiny scrap of Tilda fabric for the heart. I even stitched a bit of selvedge from Cath Kidston onto the interior pocket as an homage to my favourite shabby chic designer.
By Friday evening, I was finished. Or, so I thought.
I used the "beta version" of the e-reader cover on the weekend. I didn't like a few things about its construction. As I read through my book, I was also working out how to make revisions on the e-reader cover's original design.
An inside homage to my favourite purveyor of shabby chick
This afternoon, before I left for work, I finished the revisions.
I like the cover better now. It features sturdy interfacing, cotton duck fabric, and an interior pocket to store my library card and/or my Kobo card.
A fortunate find at the thrift store
This way, I can add to my library on the fly or at the lake.
In other news, I stopped by the Value Village near my new work place on the way home last week. I found my particular bliss: vintage buttons and a whole bag of wooden thread spools. And then, I also found a Cath Kidston zippered bag for $2.99.
Just some of the crazy things that make me happy. Hope everything is coming up roses and polka dots in your world too!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Adventures in blogland

What is she up to on QUILTsocial? Tune in to find out.
The QUILTsocial guest blog that will be written by me for this entire week -- June 9 to 13 -- is up and running for your general enjoyment.
Go over and check it out. Please. Pretty please?
There is a give-away from HA Kidd, one of Canada's key distributors of notions and crafty bits and pieces.
In the next couple of days, I will reveal the step-by-step process of creating your very own -- and impossibly cute -- sunglasses case.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Coming soon to a blog near you...

Silicone thimbles are so comfortable
I am doing something new!
For the next week, starting on June 9,  I will be the guest blogger on a new e-zine/blog called QUILTsocial. 
I will be doing a tutorial to make sunglasses case embellished with a folded flower. It is lined with soft flannel to prevent the glasses from getting scratched. It is pretty cute, if I do say so myself.
Here is the link. Please subscribe. It is free and quite beautifully presented by the publishers of A Needle Pulling Thread, which is a Canadian needle work magazine.
One of the things I was able to do was visit a company that distributes just about every needle, pin, button, seam ripper, rotary cutter, ruler -- etc. to stores in Canada.
What an experience! I was able to pick a few products to try out and play around with.
Kid, meet candy store. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine someone would take me over to A WALL OF THREADS and say, "Just pick what you would like to try."
Yikes! It was an overwhelming experience. But, I managed to overcome the shock and pick some candy coloured sewing threads, some beautiful silk threads for hand applique, and surprisingly, threads that have been made from recycled PET bottles. I haven't tried those yet, but I will be doing so soon.
I hope you enjoy visiting QUILTsocial. This week's posts are by quilting instructor Elaine Theriault. She has been checking out a new Husqvarna sewing machine that is lightweight and ready to travel, but features all kinds of high end quilting machine bells and whistles. She is going to be a tough act to follow.
I will be the guest blogger on the second week of each month for a while.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

These are a few of of my favourite internet things

At last weekend's CreativFestival, participants in my workshop received a handout about a few of my favourite web sites. These sites both inform and inspire my creative life.
I only printed enough copies for workshop participants, but I promised to post a digital version.
So, here it is!  
These are the places I go to again and again to get ideas, and find out what's going on in the hearts and minds of other creative souls.
My Pintrest board.
free patterns, free sign up
many tutorials, some free patterns
a great lunch tote, and there are other free tutorials on this site         
exceptionally pretty, and there are often free patterns on this site
lots of inspiration and tutorials, especially for hexi and pentagon projects
These little birds are adorable and the pattern is free.
a really good tutorial about paper piecing hexagons -- lots of photos
a Canadian needlework magazine offering inspiration and resources by Canadian designers, using materials available in Canada

Monday, April 21, 2014

A hoppy and warm Easter!

Happy Easter!
Finally, some nice weather has arrived in my part of the world.
The Easter weekend was very joyous because we could finally sit outside for pre-dinner drinks for a while before the wind turned chilly and sent us back inside.
I made a little bunny for my mom. I also made  seven tiny rabbits for my family and friends. Some of the mini bunnies were tucked into mini terracotta pots with Easter grass, others were nestled into Easter eggs, tucked into egg cups.
Now, I am busy getting ready for my workshop on having fun with scraps at the CreativFestival in Toronto next Saturday.
We are making a little pincushion which will perch on a golf tee. The tee can be set into a thread spool for a portable pin perch.

Next week, I will post a tutorial and some photos.
I will be making up little kits over the next couple of days, and getting my show and tell items packed up and ready for my presentation at the International Centre on Airport Road.
Have a wonderful Spring, now that spring is here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Park your pins and needles here

Park your pins here...
I was trolling around Michaels recently, and I found these very cute frames in the $1.50 bins near the front of the store.
 I think they are meant to be used as party favours or place card holders for weddings and other fancy events.
A while ago, I found a pin on Pintrest by a crafter named Natalie, who is over at Doodlecrafts.
She created some pincushions using these kinds of frames. But, she used cork board and I didn't have any.
Also, I am a bit obsessed about having tidy backs of things (it's a bit of an issue left over from when I did a lot of cross stitch. I am trying to relax about it now, but not with this project).
Anyway, inspired by Doodlecrafts' creation, I did a little bit of tweaking to the original idea.
These pin parks are great for sewing needles. I find they get lost in the pincushions I use. These are shallow enough to corral the needles, and they can't get lost. Unless you don't make one and use it. So, here is a little photo essay about  what I did:

Pop the plastic from the frame. Trace the opening onto card stock.

Run a bead of white glue around the opening. Close the back.
Cut a bit of quilt batting to match the card stock.
Use a bit of glue stick to make the card stock a bit tacky.

Pick a cute scrap. You know you've been saving them...

Put the batting onto the fabric, and bit of fiber fill onto the card.

Press this sandwich down flat. Run a bead of glue around the card.

Tuck the corners, and then the sides, of the fabric around the card.

Some filling might try to escape. Poke it back down. Seal up the last side.

Put a puddle of white glue into the frame. Pop the little cushion into the space.

Park your pins. Make them for your quilt-y friends. Have one everywhere you sew.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Brownie points

I was reminded recently that as much as healthy eating and living is a goal for everyone who expects to live a long and happy life, it is important to have a few rest stops and treats along the way. The end of life will come to us all, for all our good works and intentions at the stove, dinner table and gym.
For me, the rest stop with treat involves a chocolate brownie sundae and Grey's Anatomy or a Dr. Who marathon.
Having come clean with my guilty (oh so guilty) treat, I now feel somewhat compelled to share it.
First, the ice cream. Chocolate mint chip ice cream is the best of all ice creams in my opinion because it is doubly cool -- it's the mint, you see.
The brownie component is always made from this recipe, published about 22 years ago in the Toronto Star. It is from a book called Best of New Wave Cooking (you know it was a while ago because microwave cooking was still considered relatively "new").
This brownie recipe is perfect for those days when you want a little something sweet that is not dessert flavoured Greek yogurt. (Which is also very good. I love the lime and the coconut. Sometimes, I do "shake it all up" into one dessert flavoured Greek yogurt.)

Microwave Brownies

1/2 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional, but using white chocolate chips is awesome)

Blend margarine with sugar. Mix well.  Add eggs and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Add to egg mixture. Stir together until well mixed. This is a thick mixture. Spoon it into a lightly grease 8 x 8 microwaveable baking dish. Microwave for 8 to 10 minutes AT 60 per cent POWER. ( Bold and capitalized because it is very important). Do not over zap. The top will look a bit soft, but that's okay. Cool and then cut into 12 squares.
Top a small (ish) square with chocolate mint chip ice cream and a bit of chocolate sauce. Then, go watch your favourite TV show.
Enjoy your break. The celery sticks will be in the fridge, waiting your return tomorrow. I promise.