Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The holiday for the rest of us

Another Festivus has come and gone.
For many years now, our good friends come to our home and eat lots of nibbling foods, air our grievances and responsibly enjoy holiday cheer. This year, I gifted my gal pals Lisa and Jennifer with aprons decorated with a giant cupcake.
These gifts were greeted with delight. Gourmand Jennifer says she has never had an apron. Lisa is now considering taking up cooking.
Such is the nature of Festivus -- when good things come to those who weren't expecting it in the days leading up to Christmas.
Merry Merry!

Here is the detail of the cupcake applique. I used some very lovely sequins I found at Papier Valise. And, that's a yo-yo for the cherry on top. The icing is lightly quilted. I used steam a seam for the applique. Its pressure-sensitive adhesive allowed me to clip all the curved edges, turn them under slightly, and then press them for a very neat edge finish.
I found the applique pattern somewhere on the net. I apologize for not having the link. When I find it, I will repost.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We beade, therefore we are faeries...

These are the Beade Faeries. We get together and create lovely jewelery -- or laugh a lot. Sometimes we do both! Our first show and sale last weekend was quite encouraging.
We are hoping do a spring one, and we'll get beading for it in the new year.
We have a lot of fun when we get together. Shared creativity is the best creativity of all!
We want to thank everyone who supported us.
We were able to make a donation to the Women's Centre of York Region, an organization that helps women find empowerment to overcome violence, abuse and poverty. Visit their website at
The Beade Faeries feel blessed to be able to not only encourage one another, but also help other women.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For the past few months, my singing friends and I have been getting together to create beaded jewelery -- on the Wednesday evenings we do not have rehearsal.
Mind you, the evenings are more about sharing and encouraging each other in life than they are about beading. Nonetheless, we have created a fair body of work in this year.
So, on Sunday, we will be having our first show and sale. A portion of sales will benefit the Women's Centre of York Region -- an organization that helps women set up their own businesses or help them discover their marketable skills.
This Christmas, I think a lot of people are looking to their own talents or those of others for presents. It is cheaper most of time, and somehow I think it means more to create and give from the heart.
I will be taking some photos and I will post them on Monday.
Enjoy getting ready for Christmas, and finishing up all those project for under the tree!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Technical difficulties, please stand by

We've had a heck of a time with our computer. I have to borrow my son's laptop to do this post. We are still working on the problem, and I have photos I want to post!
This month, I am working on show and sale of some jewellery. Three friends and I are joining forces to do this just before Christmas. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Women's Centre of York Region.
The Beade Faeries have been getting together for a while now-- chatting, beading, and generally encouraging each other. Sometimes, we get a lot done, other times, we restring a necklace three times before it works. Nonetheless, we have a great time.
Now, we are hoping other people like what we have been doing. The sale is on Dec. 6, so hopefully the computer will return from its holiday, and I will be able to share the fun of the day on this blog.
In the meantime, I have been enjoying the books of Norwegian crafter Tonne Finnager. Her Tilda series is pure eye candy. I found it by chance in the bookshelf of crafting diva and close personal friend, Suddenly Sandra. Since then, I have been collecting up the little bits of fabric in the Tilda pallette. I am hoping to knock out a few Christmas presents, but more on that later.
Enjoy creating!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pin cushions!

I've made several pincushions from thrift store teacups and creamers. These are cheap and cheerful presents and they aren't that complicated.
Here's how I do it.
You'll need a teacup or creamer. Look for older ones, the patina of age adds to the charm.
Use a saucer or a small plate to trace a circle of fabric. Cut it out.
Turn under a scant hem and sew a running stitch around the circle using strong thread. When you've completed the circle, pull up the threads. You now have a cup-shaped circle.
Stuff with circle tightly with fiber stuffing. I've heard that fiber fill encourages pins to rust, but I've not experienced this as yet. Emery is the traditional filling for pincushions, but it isn't that easy to find, so live on the edge and use fiber stuffing.
Keep stuffing, and as you go, try to flatten the cushion into a sort of domed pancake. This takes a little while. Just keep going and you'll soon get a pleasing shape. Keep testing it for fit in the cup. You want the dome to rest about 1/8 of an inch from the top. Ideally, it should be large enough so that it will sit into the cup snugly. It's a bit of trial and error, since all cups are different.
You will need to weight the tea cup (or other vessel) so that it doesn't tip over. I use decorator sand, which you can find in the candle/floral aisle at Michael's. I used about 1/4 cup of sand, just pour it in.
Once you have your cup weighted, and your dome ready, it is time to put the two together.
I use Aleene's Thick Tacky glue. Run a bead of glue around the cup rim and some around the stuffed dome. Then, then gently set the dome into the cup.
Let it dry for at least an hour. Then, you can do the embellishing.
I like to run some kind of trim (like ric rack) to cover the space where the dome and cup meet. I have also used some ribbon embroidered flowers, or some yo yos to add visual interest. I think the accessories look better glued on closer to the handle, but play around with your design until you like it.
When the glue has dried, I add three fancy pins from my collection. Et voila! A lovely little gift which gives an old teacup new life.
P.S. If you use a cup and saucer, glue the two together. The saucer is a great place to store a spool or two of thread, a timble and a little pair of scissors.
Have fun with these. But, I warn you, they are kind of addictive!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

If only the world was calorie free...

Cupcakes are the best treat in the world. It's like cake, but only a little bit. And there's just a little pretty bit of icing.
These Halloween cupcakes are the result of a class I did at our local Longos. It was a lot of fun learning all about piping bags and fondant icing, and spending time with an old friend who shares a love of things hand made.
When I picked her up at her house I found she had created a family message board from an old mirror.
She just turned the mirror around in the frame and painted that side with blackboard paint. She has hung this blackboard right beside the door. Now family members can keep track of each other easily. Classy and practical! Now it just a matter of remembering where the chalk ended up. I see another project on the horizon...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I will set my bow in the clouds....

On Saturday evening, we had a double rainbow. Of course, I really only managed to capture one part of it. It was a wonderful sight! However, the camera doesn't quite capture the full beauty. Trust me, it was a spectacular display, and a nice pay off after a soggy, soggy day.

UFOs find home in magazine rack

The magazine rack has spools for feet (all but one was still attached so I got it cheap). I used Craft Goop to adhere all those vintage buttons, some scrapbooking bias tape, and a rubber stamp alphabet to print the label. Yep, that's my 'to do pile'. At least it has a pretty place in which to live and be ignored...

This is the detail from my rejuvenated magazine holder, along with some one not quite ready for her close up. I am working on her overskirt right now.

The other house was found in the same store, but on a different trip. It had been painted enthusiastically in a style quite unlike my own. The junior architect had a fondness for pink glitter paint. It took a great deal of sanding and gesso to make it go away. If you need a permanent paint, may I suggest Barbie pink glitter? These shelves are headed up to my creative space/den.

But, you can always have rainy day fun

I found this box shaped like a house and I added a shelf for all the lovely ladies waiting for their pin cushion dresses.

...and sometimes, it's just raining

Whoa, I can't believe all the rain we have been having!

Although, it does mean time to read and even sew some stuff. I did some hemming, and I finished a few projects. Photos to come. I also picked up a really sweet book on the weekend. The author has a blog site too:


She loves vintage sewing notions too. The book is a feast for the eyes, and a lovely way to spend some time planning what I will be doing this winter as the snow piles up.

Hope it is sunny where ever you are, and even if it isn't, books can take you anywhere!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beads for boobs

My local Curves does a monthly draw. Everyone who completes a workout puts their name into the draw for a product or service that is usually donated by members. I usually do something in October because it is breast cancer month. Here's why I did this beaded necklace:
My mom had breast cancer in 1987. Her sister was diagnosed a year later.
My mom's was caught early and a lumpectomy and radiation has had perfect check ups for 22 years.
My aunt's cancer was picked up later and she died about eight years after initial diagnosis.
Not surprisingly, my sister and I are big fans of mammograms, and since we both hit 40, we have never missed a year.
Mammograms aren't perfect, and yeah, they hurt. However, the "speck of dust" found on my mother's initial mammogram turned out to be a pinhead sized malignancy. It was an aggressive form of cancer that would have been untreatable by the time it had become a lump.
The necklace is offered to my fellow Curves members who are trying to live better, and in thanksgiving in a way, for all the moments my mom has been given because she got that mammogram. I am going to display the necklace on this "bust" while it is on display at my gym. I kind of like the irony! I made her little flower halo in honour of all the women who have passed on from breast cancer. They are missed, every single one of them.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My aunts are amazing cooks. This recipe is from my Aunt Alma in Newfoundland, and it is pretty special -- not unlike Aunt Alma herself. Not only does she have a wicked sense of humour, she is also an amazing knitter. This is a company sort of dessert which showcases Ontario apples.

Aunt Alma's Apple Torte

1/2 cup margarine
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 450.
Cream margarine, sugar and vanilla together until fluffy. Add flour slowly. Press soft dough into 9-inch spring form or torte pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Decrease oven temp. to 400.

8 oz (250 g.) package of cream cheese (light works fine)
1/4 cup sugar
Cream together, spread evenly over cooled crust.

4 cups peeled and sliced apples.
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
dash nutmeg
Toss apples together with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Arrange over cream cheese topping. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely before removing sides from the pan. Serve cold.

I like to drizzle a bit of butterscotch topping as a garnish on top, but that's really just gilding the lily. Enjoy!

Found this touch lamp at Value Village. The shade is covered with left over fabric from some curtain ties. The trim was recovered from my daughter's stash (mommy was so proud). The original shade was sad looking. This one is quite swish and matches elements in the new room at university. We had a blast looking for all this stuff to re-do.

Some art I did for my daughter's new place. It has a little ledge where her cell phone can sit while it is charging. It is a refurbished monkey from Value Village with some artists's paper from Somerset Studio's summer issue.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Of all the lovely things I've made...there is little evidence

I made a really cool present for someone recently, and I was in such a hurry to make sure it got there on time, I forgot to pose it for a photo. Sad, huh? I am still working on the whole photo thing. I just can't seem to get it right.
Photography is kind of an illusive thing for me. I studied it during my journalism training, I practiced it daily when I worked on two small town papers, and I even knew how to develop and print photos. One would think that pointing and shooting in their digital age would be sort of easy. Not so, my friends. Now, I have work out artful shots. Therein lies the challenge.
If you have moment, stop by this site:
This is a wonderful CANADIAN on-line shop, that sells the most amazing array of little bits and bobs. Janice is a great photographer to boot. (She also has a wicked sounding chocolate cake recipe in one of her posts.) However, let us not concern ourselves about chocolate cake -- yet.
My awesome pal Suddenly dropped off some of the sweetest little zippered bags the other evening. I shared some fabric from my stash and it came back to me all dressed up. We have plans to go to Fabricland's 50 per cent off for members sale tomorrow. We might also work on making some zipper pulls from Fimo -- and yeah -- maybe even post some photos.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I fought the weeds and the weeds won...

The boy child and I spent the day pulling up the remains of our vegetable garden that never quite caught on, and then putting a thick layer of newspaper over the so-called soil. Then we covered it with some more cedar mulch. The whole garden smells like Muskoka now.
Before we did all that, I transferred my lavender plants from their summer containers to the garden. They produced well over the summer, so I have quite a lot of dried lavender for sachets and the like this year.
When I transfer lavender to the garden, it is in the hope that the plants will have time to get used to the new space before the frost arrives. I always seem to lose at least one plant per year. Our nights have been dipping down into the low double digits. Soon, the leaves will be turning.
I really love the fall, the colours are so amazing -- like a quilt that is pieced together perfectly.
It is pretty sad to see the garden die back, but then again, I really look forward to that first snowfall.
Here in the Great White North winter is old about two weeks after Christmas -- sadly, it doesn't actually end until long past Easter.
No matter. As long as you have a full work bin full of projects to finish, or even start, the whole thing seems to speed by in the blink of an eye.
School starts again next week! I can't believe how quickly the time goes. I am looking forward to some piece of quiet (a phrase made famous in our family by a young cousin), so I can get involved in some sewing.
Never mind all this woolgathering about the seasons, there's still a billion things to do until supper lands on the table.
I've got to take/and post some photos. Next week (fingers crossed).
Until then, may all your weeds be wildflowers!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggity, jig

Well, that was a few busy days in a row! Moving isn't fun. It does not matter if you are doing the moving or if you are just the helper.
I took a few minutes for myself not long ago and went treasure hunting at my favourite thrift shops. I found some vintage patterns. I love that artwork! Everyone looks so chic and carefree -- even the kids. I will be using these images soon and I will post what I do with them. Also in the mix was a pattern to make a shoe organizer. I know, how easy is that? Well, one of my weaknesses is never quite measuring enough, so I prefer to follow the pattern for the basics and then have fun with the fabric and trims.
I also picked up a bargain magazine bin at HomeSense last week. It was marked down to $7 because it was missing its legs. Well, that's just a challenge waiting to happen, isn't it? I have replaced the legs with some wooden thread spools. When it is all done, I will post a picture.
Today, the returned forest ranger and I tidied the side garden. After pulling a bag of weeds, we layed down some landscape fabric, and spread six bags of cedar mulch. I am hoping this keeps the weeds at bay until next year. Fingers crossed. Well, time to get covered in glue -- the better to refurbish my magazine bin. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I am thinking about home today. I lived in only one until I grew up and moved away. Since then, I've lived in several homes. My daughter is moving into her first home soon, and we've spent the summer finding, repurposing, refurbishing, sewing, painting, things to be used and loved. Some of the activity has been in an effort to keep costs down. But then again, some things are better if you put a bit of yourself into them.
Homes live in our memories long after we no longer live in them.
In my aunts' houses, I learned to cook and sew, to listen and tell a story. Those houses have been sold, and one of my early mentors has passed on. But, the memory of those houses, and the things I learned how to do in them, is vivid still. I learned a lot of wonderful lessons from these inspiring women. The most important of all? A rainy day can hold a lot of fun and laughter. I am going to be busy over the next few days, but I hope to post some photos of our various projects.
Until then, I hope your house is a place of peace, and sunny even when the weather is not.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A groovy dress ended the dress envelope project. I used some tie-dyed felt and a tag from a clothing store for a little pocket. Connie Govea Stuart's work is often featured in Somerset publications -- and I am fan.

This is a portion of the envelope dresses canvas. Note the vintage trim above.

This Celtic Tree of Life took me nearly 18 months to stitch. My son made the frame in woodshop. This was a particularly sanity-saving project. It got me through some very rough times last winter. I don't remember them so much when I look at it, I just remember how much I loved working on it.
It was featured in an issue of Just Cross Stitch and it was designed by Tracy Horner. It called for a million shades of brown, but I just used DMC colour variations for the most part. It changes colour on its own -- and it much easier for the lazier stitchers among us...

During the vintage hunt process, I spot things at Value Village that need to live again as something useful. These pin cushions are pretty neat and pretty practical. They cost me $2 to make -- yep -- for both of them!

I love to use vintage trimmings and threads (as long as they aren't so fragile they don't survive the process). Sometimes, I ask them to pose for pretty pictures beforehand...

This is the clock in my den -- which I can sometimes use as a my studio. I made it from a kit and scrap book papers, using a template from my favourite artist, Connie Govea Stuart. This dress template was part of a 9 dress series I did for my daughter when she was away on Katimavik. I did a dress envelope each month, and tucked inside was a new recipe. She saved them all and when she got home, I did a canvass of all of them. More photos on that to follow.

Hands create so many lovely things.