Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lazy Sunday

Sometimes my cats are too cute for words when they curl up together for a snooze.

And just when you think they can't get any closer ...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Truly a winter wonderland

Freezing rain make travel treacherous, but it sure can be beautiful. Today the wooded area in my neighbourhood looked magical as the bright sun made the trees still coated in ice sparkle.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Grinch adjacent

Saying I'm a Grinch probably goes too far, but I'll be the first to admit I'm pretty low on holiday cheer. About the only Christmas tradition I wholly embrace - beyond the crazy good food that seems to be everywhere you turn - is mailing cards. Now that I can get behind because I'm always looking for a reason to dip into my card stash.

But when I saw this tutorial for tiny trees bunting, my heart grew three sizes that day. Rummaging through my scraps for something suitable, I found a bit of leftover red floral Hawaiian fabric - perfect!

Despite my Grinchy tendencies, I love my tiny trees bunting. And I think they'll stay up longer than the season. Now that the cold and snow and ice is here to stay for quite a long while, the fabric will remind me of my glorious Hawaiian escape last winter every time I'm bracing myself to head outdoors.

What you can't see in the photos are the kitty paw prints on the mirror from the cats checking out the bunting. I hope the twine doesn't prove too irresistible for them.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Couple more

Here's a case where pillowcases really benefit from topstitching. The cat fabric had just a splash of red in it, while both fabrics were predominantly blue. I think red stitching adds a nice touch.

That earlier tea towel is appearing again, also as wrapping for an ornament.

I far prefer to wrap a present in something useful than in wrapping paper, which is such a waste. And lovely fabric is always going to be nicer than wrapping paper.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Happy indoors

There are two creatures in my home not at all bothered by the wintery weather - my very much indoor cats. They're never interested in slipping out the front door because they know they've got a good thing going inside. All afternoon they've been snoozing on the couch, while I've been freezing outside like a dum-dum to walk the dog or shovel. Here I imagine Ariel was getting just a bit too warm curled up, so she stuck out one foot to cool off. I know I use that tactic when it's a bit too cozy under my duvet.

Oh, what a life.

Double duty

Two more tea towels made for Christmas presents. How amazing is the feather fabric?

I used it to wrap a present, tied with ribbon and a little Ikat elephant ornament made in Cambodia that I picked up at Ten Thousand Villages. If you're looking for unique ornaments while helping a good cause, it's a great place to go.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Big hairy deal

Well, it's official. Winter is here. Sure I can complain about the endless shovelling, but it's really my dog who's got it tough in the winter. Those big hairy paws sure do pick up a lot of snow.

You'd think a Russian breed would be better adapted to winter conditions, at least better than plunking her butt down in a drift periodically while on a walk to gnaw at the snow clumps stuck in her paws. Toe balls, I call them.

If you're looking for tasty meals to warm your belly on these cold, snowy days, I'd recommend either of these slow cooker recipes from Pinch of Yum. I made the chicken wild rice soup last weekend, and the queso chicken chili yesterday. So good and so easy! What's better than that?

Stack 'em high

I whipped up some pillowcases for Christmas presents. This time I topstitched a couple sets. Meh. I'm not sure the extra step is worth it. (As you can see by the set that didn't get it.)

I bought a half yard of each of these floral prints a while back on a trip with my dad to North Bay and Trenton - so bright but delicate and I love the doily-looking pattern. They became the cuff and I picked up a bright blue cotton for the body. They'll first stand in as stockings on Christmas Eve, with presents for my parents tucked inside.

While trying to exercise restraint at my favourite fabric shop as a CFF picked out fabric for her long Christmas crafting list, I saw this unicorn fabric and knew my middle sister would love it. Cuffs were made from co-ordinating star fabric.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

'Tis the season

Now that December is here, the clock is ticking on Christmas crafting. Sadly, I am still a November birthday gift behind for a dear CFF. I'm gonna use the excuse that it was out of my hands when I sent it off to the quilter relatively early and she unfortunately had a backlog. Here's a sneak peek:

These cheery pillowcases became her consolation gift.

Of course my Christmas crafting will include a few pillowcase sets. Honest to Jebus, people have been really enthusiastic about the handmade pillowcases. It's not just me off my rocker about them. I whipped up these tea towels for a friend who is just as elegant as this fabric.

Now to get back to the craft room, for now Santa's workshop.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Soup's on

This afternoon I enjoyed a foodie and fabric outing with my dad (fabric not so much a stop for him). We picked up wonderful gouda at a Dutch cheese shop out in the country. You can peek in the aging room to see the shelves from floor to ceiling of cheese wheels - 3,000 or so of them! Next we stopped at Victoria Street Market, where I picked up a few treats including smoked European bacon. Mmm ... bacon.

Then after a leisurely lunch (partly to do with the slow service) it was onto my favourite local fabric shop Greenwood, which just got in the awesome Collage collection. Thanks to a couple sweet CFFs who kindly gave me gift certificates for my birthday, I picked up a FQ bundle of Collage and a charcoal Kona for the background that I'll use to make a lap quilt in this fun Tiny Dancers pattern.

I also picked up a wee bit more of the retro whimsy of Fort Firefly to add a border to a nifty quilt combining Fort Firefly and Camp Modern. These colours are perfect for my living room.

After a few more chores it was time to think about dinner. I whipped up a pot of this Ginger Coconut Milk Soup. Mine included lotsa ginger, sweet potato, baby kale and white mushrooms. So tasty and so easy.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Getting things done

This weekend I packed in some solid crafting time, starting with pinning my Moroccan tile quilt. I hoped to get going on the quilting, but ran out of time.

During a recent stop at Fabricland to pick up half-priced batting for an upcoming weekend quilting workshop with some great CFFs that my mom kindly offered to teach, I noticed off-the-charts cute flannel FQs. My mind started racing trying to come up with something to make with them. I recently read a blog post where the woman said she tries not to buy fabric without having a plan for it, and that struck me as being pretty wise. I'm not going to even imagine for a moment I can stick with that approach (there's so much irresistible fabric!!!), but it got me to thinking I should at least try to do that more often (after looking through my abundant stash).

I remembered my friend saying recently that her daughter was upset she had to leave at home her sock monkey blanket, so I figured I could make a travel-sized cuddly blanket for her. I didn't really even know that was a thing until a shot-in-the-dark google search brought me to security blankets and this sweet little one using ric-rac. Can't resist any project with ric-rac! Especially when combined with these ridiculously cute farm animals.

Then I spotted cute retro kitty and floral fabric in my stash and thought they'd make cute pillows to go with the blanket. Unfortunately I discovered I only had a half-metre of each, so instead I picked out these sweet and super girly prints that I've been holding onto for quite sometime.

But I still wanted to make something with the kitty fabric, so I went with a drawstring pouch to put the blanket and pillowcases in. How freaking cute is this bag for a little girl to hide away all her treasures?

I found a string of yellow flowers and sewed them on with a wavy stitch to add a little colour and fun. (Not so much fun for me because I mistakenly sewed the front side of the flowers down and then I lost my focus while ripping out the stitches and had to re-do a line of top-stitching I attacked with the ripper.)

I whipped up another two sets of pillowcases, including these with Jay McCarroll fabric.

Finally it was time to take a break from the sewing machine and head into the kitchen to tackle dinner. I made stuffed peppers with ground chicken, rice and onions topped with bread crumbs. With acorn squash on the side, it was a warming dinner for a cold day.

I hope everyone else had a lovely weekend with lots of time for crafting!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mystery solved

I wondered why I always found the quilt pulled down from the railing. I knew the cats were to blame, but not the nefarious reason behind it. Then I captured the guilty parties while I was working on a quilt in my craft room and happened to have the camera there. Caught in the act!

Cuz you know, they don't have enough soft places to sleep in every freaking room of the house. Not to mention the handmade hooked wool rug the quilt is scrunched up on. Since this first sighting, now I regularly catch Aurora curled up inside the quilt on the floor. For once she is the instigator, but Ariel is all too happy to take advantage when it's on the floor.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


The changing season has me thinking fondly of several lovely fall trips. Like a couple years ago to Italy and the afternoon spent in the big park in Rome. A surprisingly relaxing day in a crazy busy city.

I am enjoying my belated Thanksgiving long weekend by devoting it entirely to a quilting project and restocking my freezer with hearty soups - the perfect antidote to the cooling weather. Yesterday I made a favourite I often return to - noodle soup from 101 Cookbooks, but I got a bit carried away with the lentils and noodles, so now it's more stew than soup. Today I made Italian chicken soup from the Pioneer Woman. I scaled down the recipe a bit because the first time my jumbo pot wasn't big enough. This soup does involve many pots and pans and multiple steps, but it's totally worth the extra effort - and that's coming from a pretty lazy one-pot casserole kinda cook. Tomorrow I plan on making again this spicy Indian vegetable soup from Jamie Oliver. Then my freezer and me will be ready for the cool weather.

I made the switch from homemade iced tea to steaming mugs of tea. But nothing as fancy as this old English tea shop in Rome at the foot of the Spanish steps. The place setting was so lovely and the tea and treats delicious.

Sadly though, fall means my cycling season is coming to a close. If the forecast is right, I may have already enjoyed my last ride for the year. There's nothing more serene than biking through the countryside and all the fall colours. And I managed, with many extra and longer rides, to reach my second goal of beating my first by 1,000 kilometres when I passed 2,550 kilometres for this year. I have to say, that's pretty amazing when I think about it. That's about a third of the way across all of Canada! Now if only I had thought to have people sponsor me by the kilometre, I would have been able to buy a new road bike for next year. For now I will just window shop and dream of a spiffy new ride.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Winter is coming

Summer is over and that means it's time for the fall ritual of taking down the bunting from the front porch. I'm fascinated by the sun's effect on the fabric. Every year it loses more colour, depending on the fabric and where it hangs.

But I think there's something lovely about the sun-bleached fabric. It reminds me of autumn leaves fading on the sidewalk, leaving an imprint of colour. The change is quite dramatic in some of the triangles.

I'm not really worried about the winter coming yet, but the changing season made me think of the often used line in Game of Thrones - winter is coming. Which now made me think of the awesome blog that does a mash-up of Game of Thrones and Arrested Development. It's crazy how these two very different shows match up. Kinda a niche audience, though, for Arrested Westeros.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Check out the back!

I made this table runner for a dear friend's birthday. The inspiration was this woven ribbons block pattern and a bundle of muted blue/grey FQs.

The three white areas produced when the blocks were put together just begged for embellishment, so I enlisted my mom and her embroidery machine to sew a design in there. I picked one that fit with the floral and circle theme of the fabrics. The quilting is simple straight lines following the woven ribbons pattern, which meant a lot of stopping and starting.

I think my favourite part, oddly, is the back with its mini table runner floating on the deep blue fabric.

No scrap was spared. But with the fun detail on the back, I think that side is worthy of showing off, too.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Riding fool

This isn't a crafting accomplishment, but I just reached 2,000 kilometres for the cycling season. (Sadly cold, dry winter air doesn't mix well with exercise-induced asthma, so my cycling is limited to spring to fall.) Maybe I've earned a few fat quarters from this bike-inspired collection?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Crafter's paradise

I made this bunting for my CFF Tara to celebrate our trip to the crafting mecca of Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago this past weekend, and also to lessen the sting of a bunting-related injury. It can happen.

If you haven't been to a Renegade show, go! All these amazing crafters gather together to sell their stuff in a really fun, casual environment. The Chicago show was huge! More than 300 vendors created what seemed like an endless line of tents stretching far beyond what my camera could capture. For lunch we had ridiculously delicious shrimp tacos from one of the many food stands.

I found some favourite card makers like Kate Funk and My Zoetrope, and new favourites like Genevieve Santos, Little Canoe and fellow Canuck Mehoi, and picked up a new Red Prairie Press top. It was a great crafty excursion with a great crafty friend! Made even sweeter with a generous amount of Chicago mix popcorn. That was lunch one day because we wanted to eat light before digging into a deep dish pizza for dinner. Makes sense, right?

Chicago is a lovely city, even on a foggy morning.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hero in a half shell

Amazingly, I finished the presents long ago for a visit this weekend with a friend and his family. But of course I can't resist a little last-minute crafting. I decided I needed to make something a bit more fun for a little girl than a rag quilt, so I searched for a cute stuffed animal pattern. This cute turtle toy is a simple project from Make It & Love It.

I grabbed bright fabrics from my stash to put it together. The tutorial had a link to these helpful instructions on hand sewing an invisible seam.

This was the first stuffed toy I've attempted and it went fairly smoothly, although it gets a bit tricky sewing around the bulky appendages. By complete chance, one piece for the little guy's head caught a large circle in the fabric's pattern to make an eye. Too bad I didn't realize until after it was sewn together, cuz now he's a cyclops. Well, the other side has a swirl, so it's kinda like he's winking.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


This woven ribbons block popped up during my blog reading recently and I knew I had to give it a try.

The block looks neat, but it sure requires careful work when sewing them together with the ever increasing number of seams to line up.