Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's December

Really...it's December.  December 6th to be exact.  What happened to the months between July and today?  I was on a blogging roll in July then something happened!  I can't quite figure out what; I think I needed a break from technology!  Anyway, I'm back...mostly because I am sick today and at home (well, I have been sick since Wednesday but decided it was time to take some time off yesterday...now I feel worse) with a sick daughter.  I thought I should touch base to see how everyone is doing as you prepare for Christmas holidays with your families.  We are still trying to get used to holidays without family living nearby; however, we are blessed to have many wonderful friends here that we hope to get together with.

As I am curled up on the couch I am making some Russian Tape Lace...

...very relaxing as I contemplate starting my home business and mentally scheduling time to make things to sell.  I have already sold one pair of handmade baby shoes woohoo!  I am fortunate to have a wonderful friend with experience in promoting her work and another that I know I can count on to keep me focused, that have really been  wonderful at encouraging me to step out of my little safety zone.  Thank you!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I seem to have a little kitchen theme going these days.  The food boxes from my CSA have inspired me to rediscover my kitchen.  While making my strawberry jam I started to recall those hot summer days sitting at the picnic table with my Grandma Macdonald hulling berries.  Those are some of my fondest memories.  She would always wear a pink apron that was passed down to me and was lovingly worn until....well, it wore out.  Since making an apron for my mom for Christmas, my love of aprons has been renewed and I have wanted to restock my kitchen with beautiful aprons.  My jam making spree and thoughts of grandma kicked me into action.  On Monday I pulled out my machine and voila, the first apron to grace my kitchen in our Nova Scotia home.  Expect to see more in the next few weeks.

And....It's Reversible!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Creating in the Kitchen

I have been feeling rather productive lately.  VERY productive, in fact!!  One thing that our family has done this year to try to spread the grocery budget a little further is that we have signed up to a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture).  I do not enjoy going to the big box grocery stores; I find it rather stressful.  First stress...the prices; second stress...too many choices.  I miss our local grocer who knew who you were and had all the necessities.  It was amazing what they could fit into those little grocery stores.  I miss the hardwood floors and the fresh produce in the bins outside.  I miss the grocer standing on the sidewalk sweeping and giving us each a free piece of fruit when mom would take us to the store.  I miss really knowing WHERE my food is coming from!  This takes me back to the CSA.  I recently read about it in a magazine from the states and started wondering if anything like that existed in Nova Scotia.  Flash forward about 2 hrs when I go to pick my daughter up from music and there, in the parking lot, is a van with something written on it about a local CSA.  I jotted down what I could still see of the farms name and started searching.  Flash forward a month and we are LOVING our weekly deliveries from Taproot Farms and Noggins (http://www.taprootfarms.ca/csa#box).  I just have to drive down the road and pick it up from the nursery at the end of our road....good bye giant box store and flavourless produce....hello fresh from the farm (and I know where the farm is and the name of the owners).  I love that I now get produce that I would never have thought to buy before and that it is making me want to cook again!!  Here are some of the things that I have been up to lately...

Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Homemade Zucchini Bread

The beginning of Carrot Cake with multicolour carrots.

At first I thought there was no way we could afford it however, it is reassuring to know that in a few weeks all of my veg and fruit produce will be paid for, for the year (52 weeks).  We are saving money on less frequent trips to the grocery store and spontaneous buying AND we are supporting local agriculture.  In terms of our grocery budget....probably the smartest thing we have ever done.  Next year, we may add on their meat share.

ps I should also mention that I have another crockpot of koolaid dying on my counter with wool from the valley.
I love shopping local!

Later this same day.....

The fleece out of the crockpot and drying.  Looking forward to spinning some of it tomorrow!

Friday, July 15, 2011


I love strawberries and it is strawberry season in the maritimes.  So good; so sweet; so many berries!  I have busy making jam and freezing berries.  If I had been thinking, I should have dried some too.  Maybe I can get some more!
I have joined this 30 day Challenge...I need to do something creative everyday for 30 days.  Since the girls are home for the summer, they are going to take part with me.  Our theme today....Strawberries!  I have been told that making jam IS creative.  The girls have their ideas; they just need to do it!  It involved a trip to Gaspereau Valley Fibres AND Avonport Discount Fabrics.  To be 100% honest, I wasn't too sure about what I would find there.  Let's just say that it has been added to my list of favourite places to go in Nova Scotia.  It was the first time that I have entered a quilt shop in over a year and dare I say, I felt a tear form when I saw all the fabric AND the prices!!  I had to buy some fabric...fabric and thread make me happy...it is for my strawberry theme so I could justify the purchase (and it made me happy).  I bought a little extra so maybe I might make two and give one away. 

My friend emailed me to let me know that Quilt Canada 2012 is in Halifax next year.  I am pumped.  I will be heading back to Avonport for sure (and any of my friends from Ontario that will be heading to Quilt Canada next year...you definitely need to schedule a stop in Avonport.  You won't be disappointed!)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day Out Stampin'

Spent the day with my friend Kathy from Two Stamping Sisters.  We both needed a little time out from our children and our children needed a time out from us.  While the kids played, we made cards and had a fun day together.  I love the cards that Kathy and, her sister, Karen make.  I have been extremely bad at getting out to club so Kathy sat me down to show me what they did this month.  Super cute!!!

I am loving the mini pizza box filled with cards!  Love it!
Thanks for a fun day Kathy!
Hope everyone had a wonderful day.
(PS...keep an eye on Kathy's blog...I overheard some mutterings about a future give away...Do it Kathy!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sleep Deprivation

I have been having bouts of insomnia lately and crazy dreams.  Why?  A few weeks ago I kept dreaming that I was hooking rugs and last night I was designing yarns in my sleep.  If only these creative moments came while I was awake!!!  Unfortunately I am so tired during the day that any form of creativity quickly fades before I can do anything about it.  Any ideas to help with insomnia or creative blocks???

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Creative Friends

I have some wonderfully artistic and creative friends.  I would love to be able to do even half of what they can do....I would love to actually get through my pile of UFO's! lol!  Life is starting to get back on track.  I had a minor setback in December but I am finally up and moving around again (and extremely grateful for that).  On the up side, my mom loved her apron and has been showing it off.  Now her friends would like me to make them some aprons. Right now, I am trying to catch up on six weeks of life and the stuff I am falling behind on while trying to catch up.  Then I should have a few things to show.   Until then, check out the blog of some friends that always amaze me with their endless energy with work and family....and yet, they still have energy to make cards at the end of the day!  They are having a card give away....it ends tomorrow night so get on over to their blog, Two Stamping Sisters, and check things out.  Enjoy =D

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Simplifying Christmas Part 3 ~ Sewing A Pillow

 My guest artist for this blog is my daughter Rosie.  She is 7.  She wanted to show you how she made her Christmas present for her cousin Lil' Nat!  I was really excited to watch this progress from her idea to a finished project and I know she was really proud of her achievement knowing that it was her idea.  I had been feeling rather guilty lately because I had thought that I wasn't taking enough time to teach my children some of what I know.  I am feeling a tad better about things after watching this and now having her ask me to teach her "everything" that I know.  lol!

A couple of things to keep in mind.  First, my girls have been around sewing and cutting tools since they were born and we always talk about how to use these tools safely and what they can touch or cannot touch.  We have never had an issue. Where I feel quite confident in leaving my things in view, this may not be safe for other children.  You be the best judge.  When the girls work in my sewing room, I am always there in case they need assistance and to make sure that they are using the equipment safely.  Never do I let them use the cutter!  They are extremely sharp and I have seen the damage done to hands of adults that have forgotten to drop the blade.  Although it is wonderful to let our children create and to try new things, we need to keep in mind their safety.

How to Sew A Personalized Art Pillow Rosie Style
Decide on project and draw a picture on a piece of paper. If you would like you can colour the picture in so that you know what colours to use later on. Then, using a light table or taping your drawing to a window, tape a piece of fabric over top (we used white cotton so it would be easier for her to see her lines).  Trace the drawing onto the fabric.
Transferring her drawing. 
This little table is something I rigged up years ago using a milk crate, a lightbulb and some plexi glass.  Inexpensive and easy to do (especially if you have a friend that is an electrician)
Once you have your drawing transferred, pick out your favourite crayons and start colouring.  I prefer to use Crayola crayons.  We just used the regular ones.  I have never used their "fabric crayons" because I have found that these work just fine and have never had a problem yet.
Colouring her drawing on the fabric.

You can either do this step before or after colouring.  I usually do it before but Rosie wanted to colour first.  Trace around the drawing with a Permanent Fineline Sharpie.  I did this for her because I was able to trace the lines faster; if you are slow then you run the risk of the marker bleeding into the fabric.  This step just sets off the drawing.
Comparing the original paper drawing to the fabric drawing.

...and Voila!!! Complete coloured and inked!
(with her little notes "And it's right here...It's almoste finished.)

Time to head to the ironing board. 
Place your coloured fabric right side up on your ironing board.  Using newsprint paper (the plain stuff that they use for packing or from the art store...not a newspaper), cover your coloured fabric.  Using a preheated iron (I usually set mine to the cotton setting) iron over the paper.  Move your iron slowly and make sure you iron all of your beautiful artwork.  Rosie started in one corner and held the iron to the count of 5, then moved to another section and held for a count of 5, etc.  The heat from the iron melts and sets the crayon into the fabric.
Heat setting the drawing. 
Make sure to explain to your children how to use the iron safely.
Time to plan the pillow:
This is a great way for children to learn about colour.  Rosie went through my fabric stash and selected colours using her coloured drawing as her guide.  We then set them out to make sure that she was happy with her selections and that I had enough.  A couple of times she had to go back to the stash simply because there wasn't enough of the fabric that she wanted.  Decide if you want to have a solid border or a couple of smaller borders.  Rosie decided that she wanted to have an inside border and a striped border.  She wanted her inside border to be the same fabric that she picked for the pillow backing.  Let them experiment and have fun with colour...after all, it is their project.

Time to Sew!!  (using 1/4" seam allowances)
First, rig up your equipment to accomodate shorter bodies.  Rosie used my office chair so that she could adjust the height of the chair to the height of the sewing machine.  We then stacked Rubbermaid containers to lift the pedal to her foot.
Creating a kid-size workspace by bringing the equipment to their level.
To help her keep her seam allowances, we placed a piece of masking tape onto the sewing machine.  She knew that if the raw edge of the fabric was touching the side of the tape she had the correct seam allowance.  Sometimes she would go a little wild but would get back on track again using the tape as her guide.
Using masking tape as a seam allowance guide. 
Be sure to explain the importance of where little fingers should and should not be and also the importance of removing pins before they go under the needle (she caught me a few times on this point).  Before they start sewing let them practice on a scrap piece so they can feel that the machine is actually moving the fabric through; they are just guiding it (and that the fabric will not move if they have a death grip on it)
In the above picture, you can see that she has her inside border (yellow) on and is now sewing her striped border on.  The striped border is not as complicated as it looks.  These are long strips that have been sewn together then cut into 1 1/2" striped border strips.  That may not make sense.  I will sew up one and post a picture to this post.

Make sure that you press your seam allowances for a nice finish.  Here Rosie is using a pressing block.  I find that it gives a beautiful smooth finish to pieced sewing work.
Using a pressing block after ironing for a smooth finish.
As you sew on your borders, ask a grown up to trim the ends.  Rotary cutters are extremely sharp and dangerous when not handled properly.

Trimming the ends. 
Not the best picture to demonstrate cutter safety.  Unfortunately it is the best I can do right now until I finish unpacking.

Trim the raw edges and square up your finished piece.
Squaring up the finished piece.
....and Voila!!  Finished top ready for backing.
Sewing the Pillow Back
We decided that it would be best to create a split back pillow so that it would be easier of Lil' Nat's mom to take the pillow form out in case the pillow needs to be washed.

Cut the fabric 1/2" wider than the finished pillow top width and for the length we cut it approximately 2" longer than half the length of the top.  We cut the second piece the same way but a little longer so that they overlap in the middle.  On each piece, fold the edge that will be the opening to the back of the pillow over to the wrong side (I believe we did 1") and press.  Fold the raw edge under to meet the fold line and press.  Top stitch in place.  Pin the fabric pieces to the pillow top (right side to right side) so that the finished edges overlap in the middle.
Pillow backing pinned with finished edges overlapping creating the split back.
Clip corners before turning right side out.
Clip all four corners for nice corners when turned.
Press to set stitches and turn right side out.
Turning right side out.
Making sure to get corners out.  You can use a knitting needle to work them into place or a blunt tool so that you don't rip your fabric.
Stuff your pillow form into your finished pillowcase. 

Putting the pillowform into the case.

Celebrate the completed project!!
A pillow to be proud of! 
Time to Celebrate!
This is just an idea of how to use art transferred onto fabric.  I use this technique to create labels for my quilts.  She could easily have turned her drawing into a wallhanging or a tote bag for her art supplies or scriptures.  She could do a series of drawings and piece them together into a quilt.  Let the children use their imagination and see what other ideas they come up with.  Most important.  Have fun together!  Happy Sewing!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

In With The New....Later That Same Day

I was so eager to start weaving this morning that it almost, ALMOST slipped my mind that I told the girls that they could go skating today at the Oval.  Good thing they were up to remind me!!  It was a beautiful day to spend with the family outdoors.  They had so much fun skating with their dad; I wished that I could go to but that will have to wait for another day.  I was just happy to be with them.  After lupper (lunch + supper because we didn't eat lunch until 4pm) we headed home and I set to work at the loom.  I have to pace myself so I don't overdo it right now but I was so happy to feel productive again and so grateful to Ian for understanding my frustrations so much that he was willing to put the loom in the middle of the living room for now.  Even the girls aren't complaining...I guess they understand that a happy mom makes for a happy family! haha

Here is a little sneak peak at what my towels look like....
Cottolin Waffle Weave Towel in progress!
I had originally planned on throwing in a stripe of colour or two but, I don't know, there is just something beautiful about a pure white towel on a loom.  Next time I will do some striped towels.

Happy New Year...In With The New

Yesterday, all I could think about was weaving.  I haven't touched my loom since 2004.  Mainly because it or parts of it have been in storage.  My DH helped me out yesterday by carrying my loom upstairs to the living room so that I could follow through on the inspiration to weave without having to run the stairs so much.  This is what I was doing last night to celebrate the new year....what were you doing?
Loom threaded and ready to weave
My tails usually aren't this long....I had a few threads break in the middle of my warp. 
Not a great beginning but it is fixed and I am ready to weave!

483 threads later....this will eventually look like towels.

My goal:  To weave at least 3 days per week for a minimum of 1 hour each day and to post items on my Etsy page.  I have some sewing and spinning goals as well that run along the same line.  Do you have any crafting goals for 2011?  I would love to hear about them.  If you have anything that you would like me to post of my blog please let me know i.e. a tutuorial on something you know I can do or if I don't know I will find someone that does and get them to post an answer to your request.

I am also thinking about a give away or two during 2011.  It might be something off my little loom, from under my sewing needle or off of my spinning wheel....hmmm...who knows!  So Follow along and keep your eyes peeled.

PS...if you come to visit me you will find a loom in the middle of my living room...this is temporary (or so I have been told)

Simplifying Christmas Part 2

 Happy New Year!!!  I cannot believe that we are already in 2011.  I remember in elementary school being asked to think about what we would be doing in 2010 and we laughed because it seemed so far away.  Now I have children telling me "You're not old mom...not until I am 60!"  So, officially I will not be old until my 89th birthday!  I wish everyone all the best in 2011 and happy crafting!

So, as promised I took some pictures of Christmas gifts made by my family.  Perhaps they might give you some ideas on how you can simplify Christmas in your home or help you with your Christmas budget because none of these gifts cost a fortune to make.

Gift 1:  Grandma had Rosie.  I had originally thought that mom would sew something for Rosie so this was a wonderful surprise.  At first glance, it looks like Grandma made a photo album but it was so much more. 

Grandma caters these days but she was always cooking when I was a little girl.  Our door was always open to friends, family and neighbours and I would often (and still do) hear "It doesn't take any effort to add another potato to the pot."  I have been after her for years to go through her recipes and sort them out....so she did!

Rosie's Christmas Album
Inside the cover of Rosie's Album there are pages and pages of Grandma's favourite recipes with room to add more.  When we lived in Ontario Rosie always baked with her Grandma so this is a very special gift that I know she will always treasure.
Sample page inside Rosie's Album
 Gift #2:  Dad had my DH
At first I think some of the men in the family were rather stressed about having to "make" a gift but they were great sports about the idea.  For most of the year I kept hearing, "I think I'll make..." or "I wish I knew how to..." So,  I was anxious to see what my dad had been up to as my dad is a reader (when he isn't helping mom in the kitchen).  Well, dad has been busy this year and we are all going to stay warm this year.  Dad made the blanket with the orange then was on a roll so mom helped him make one for each of us (somewhat cheating on the rule that you only would give a gift to the person you were to make for but I guess it is a grandparent's right....or so I was told...to break a few rules!)  They are so warm....the girls have been dragging their all over the house! (This is our set up for our New Year's Eve camping in the living room but you get the idea)
Tied Fleece Blankets - Reversible (and oh so warm)
I may have to put a tutorial up for these!
 Gift 3:  Q had Peanut and put his Sea Cadet skills to use.  In Sea Cadet's he has been learning how to make various knots.  This particular one is called the "Monkey Fist" and he taught it to himself with his Knots book.  I keep looking at it to figure it out and he has explained it to me but I still had to look it up to see how to make it http://themonkeyfist.com/history.htm.  Peanut loved it (she is a keychain collector) and I know Q was proud of his work and so he should be.

Monkey Fist Key Chain

Gift #4:  My brother had my name.  When he first drew my name he proclaimed..."I'm going to build you a sewing table"....yay me!....lol  Then we moved to NS and the year long joke was about the shipping costs for said table.  When the box arrived, my family looked at it and said, "I don't think it's a sewing table mom!" haha  It wasn't but It was BETTER.
The Night Before Christmas as told by my Brother
When I first opened the box, the girl's stated, "Hey, Uncle E was supposed to MAKE something for you."  This was a true case of don't judge a book by the cover.  When I opened the book my brother started to read to me....and I started to cry!  I am talking about great big crocodile tears dripping off my chin sort of cry!  I will always treasure this.  Mom and Dad  told me that he tried to record it many times but kept getting choked up and would have to start again.  My brother and I....we are quite the pair!!

To Be Continued...the last 2 may be Tutorials.  I am hoping to get pics of what others received.