Friday, December 30, 2011

Sunday Thoughts... A Bit Early. For Good Reason.

As Twenty Eleven draws itself to a close, I find myself with time to ponder what the year has heaped upon myself and those I hold dear. Truthfully, in this time of chaos and craziness around the globe, I have had the most stable seeming year in over a decade. I moved from a teeny apartment into a house a little over a year ago, and right from the get go it was a lot to chew financially and was not without drama, but it was also amazingly normal seeming, considering all the elements. I lost my best friend in February. Nothing happened to her, she just decided we weren't friends anymore. Which was hard, but also just odd. I think I spent a good deal of time confused, and to get myself on track I threw myself into building (and maintaining, which is hard for an Aries flake like myself) the Other Blog, and working on getting my quilts noticed. I have mostly succeeded, while not in the ways I intended. I think that whole thing about doors closing so that new doors can open fits  in right about here.

I have read lots about how 2012 is the Big One. All sorts of things, from alien invasion to Mayan shifts of dimension have landed in my inbox, and made for one giant "?". I have questioned as a homeschooling mom of two which things to explain to my kids and which to pass over to keep their kid years intact. I heard my eight year old at a Christmas party explaining to the other kids how the government is making big mistakes and selling our country to the highest bidder, so I know he has been paying more attention than I thought to various discussions, but all in all things are in pretty good shape around here as far as outlooks go. I think knowing the storm is coming helps to batten down the hatches a bit. I think this world is finally getting the wake up call it has needed for a very long time. Just like my friend throwing me for a loop, and the chaos opening new doors, I am confident that this crazy time will have a good outcome eventually. It helps to be aware of the process. I keep telling myself that I am an adult now, and I can handle it. LOL.

Some crazy things are happening. My stable home is shifting, I can feel it... while at the same time I have an old flame that is being rekindled. I have been trying hard to ignore it and put it back in the box I had shelved it in, but it just keeps letting it's presence be known. I'm not sure if the timing is convenient, but it definitely lends some interest to the situation. And somehow makes things that should be unhappy a bit more fun. And while I feel financially strapped to a sinking ship (just like everyone else) I am seeing some of the bonds that I had gotten used to finally slip away. Again, totally unsure of how it's going to work itself out, but freedom of a sort has to be a good step forward, right?

This Christmas I was lucky enough to stay at a friend's house and experience a family life very much like what I think I want. Very simple, very loving and very inspired. They have trials and they have "stuff" like we all do, but there is a feeling there that everyone is loved and respected. And I think that is the direction it is time to go in. For myself, for my family, and for us all. It's time to ask for, and allow, love and respect for ourselves and each other. It's actually super easy to do. It's one of those things that really does come back to you if you give it.

So here's to 2012! To throwing the doors wide open and welcoming the change instead of cringing away from it. To spending as much time as possible with friends and family and looking out for each other. To staying strong and standing up for one another. To believing in ourselves and knowing that we deserve better. Not bigger and shinier, but better. Less, more... that sort of thing. Happy Epic New Year everyone :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Eve Glitteratti

I have the perfect DIY for your NYE shindig! If you are going for sparkly and sophisticated, (of COURSE you are going for sparkly and sophisticated) then this sophisticated "adult" pinata is the most fun thing I have found yet as a New Year's party game. Fill it with game questions on slips of paper, gorgeous liqueur chocolate truffles wrapped in cello, cute matchbooks, Mardi Gras bead necklaces, tiny (unbreakable) bottles of booze, or any of these ideas from AT's list! Also throw in as much metallic confetti as you can handle for a real finale! They are available for purchase here, but are a crazy inexpensive and easy DIY (plus we are talking crazy rush charges to courier a pinata for delivery in two days!).

The sparkle goes remarkably well with the tassel garland DIY borrowed from the other blog. This photo was actually from the Shelby, but it looks like whoever's home it was bought them at the same place the pinata is from. What a small world :)

Another cute idea to bring some glitz and glamour to the evening? How about glittering swizzle sticks? Trust Martha to have a tutorial on these cute and easy tinsel drink accessories! Use the same method with those metallic pom poms you find at the craft store to make an alternate type. AND of course the same DIY can be used with toothpicks for hors d'oeurves.

Send photos of your amazing soiree! I want to SEE!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fabric Gift Wrapping Bags

As soon as I receive the amazing photos from my amazing Christmas vacay, they shall be posted. In the meantime, I learned a few things. Thing number one: Fabric Gift Bags.

I spent Christmas with a friend's family. While this friend is rather new, she is also rather fabulous. And crafty. The best sort of friend really, no? So this fabulous and crafty friend shared a secret with me, and now I am sharing it with you. The fabric stores have all their Christmas fabric on sale right now. Now. Right this minute... and guess what? You need some. Well, you don't need Christmas fabric necessarily, but if that is your thing, then get on it! Because the new thing is fabric gift bags instead of paper.

A few years ago Heather went to an after Christmas sale and bought up the remnants she liked best for $2 /meter. She zipped off a bunch of simple bags of various sizes and put them away for the next year's gift wrapping. Brilliant! I personally am not a fan of red and green, I rarely do "normal" for Christmas. It certainly doesn't have to be just holiday themed patterns though. In fact, I am adopting an entire spectrum of these bags for birthdays and such as well... and this neutral bag with the tree on the front is another lovely idea. I think stamped or silk screened pine cones would be gorgeous. I haven't taken on silk screening before, but I have a friend who does it and would probably be willing to do a trade. Regardless... this is the most easy peasy sewing project imaginable!

In the end, the bags cost less than paper if you use them over and over and I can't tell you how amazing it was that there was no crazy obscene mess of torn paper as an aftermath this Christmas morning. When I asked her if her kids missed the ripping and tearing into gifts, she replied that there were still gifts from outside the family (or from grandparents) that came wrapped in paper for that. And that when the gifts are torn into, often it becomes more about ripping open gift after gift without having much appreciation for what is inside. I tend to agree with that... having seen the youngest in more than one paper ripping frenzy. This Christmas was very calm and lovely, and the cleanup was not only far more eco... but super easy. All the bags fit into one big one to be stored with the decorations. Or with your wrapping whatnots, whichever you prefer. I am definitely adopting this gem!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Embroidering this on a quilt for a certain lady who is awesome and who may or may not have had something to do with my birth. She reads this blog (she'd better) so I don't want to give anything away, but plugging the letters in one at a time I am reminded how much I love this poem, and so does she :) Just in case you haven't heard it before...

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

                              -Jenny Joseph 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Paper Quilling Snowflakes

Spent the day making gorgeous quilled paper snowflakes at our Crafternoon Extraveganza. I found this photo on pinterest and made it big so I could figure out how it was made, drew out a diagram and guessed at the lengths of paper. Turns out, if I had just clicked ON the photo (I should know that by now) it takes you rather haphazardly to three or four tutorials for even more gorgeous designs! It's time consuming, but one of those projects that you get much faster at as you go, and actually really fun. The post I did awhile ago involving paper quilling has consistently be one of the most popular, so there must be people out there trying this! I thought you might be interested in a tutorial (or in this case five!)

If you are looking for a pretty detail for your Christmas decorating, may I suggest a few of these delicate and intricate beauties hanging about? You can make them any size and use them in any application that you can use a medallion or paper flower, they are crazy inexpensive... and they would look gorgeous dusted in opal glitter! Don't get frustrated with your first one, I was teaching people today and by the time they were finished their first they had just finally "got it"... so consider your first to be a practice and carry on :) Send me photos!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An ADVENTurous Idea!

Waaaay back in  November my sons and I decided to create an advent calendar for friends of ours. We thought it would be fun to gather silly gifts to open every day, small animals, a lucky penny, a pretty rock, that sort of thing. Their sons are of an age with these guys and all about collecting, so it seemed a good idea and the collecting begun. Then all hell broke loose with the social calendar and somehow the calendar was forgotten about till it was already well into December. I told them we would do it next year.

Today we are sorting out the last of the gifts we are making and figuring out what still needs doing and I have an ENTIRE day to work on Christmas details. I stumbled upon a lovely set of photos and ideas this morning in the Anthology Gift Guide, revolving around holiday traditions, new and old. I love them all, but this one in particular got me to thinking. It's an Activity Advent Calendar, and it's meant to cover a month of Christmas doings. I think that is pretty brilliant, but then I got to thinking further and realized that what we REALLY should do in this house, is to make next year's calendar NOW. Maybe not put the dates on it right yet, but make an activity for say, twenty of the twenty-five days so that when next year rolls around we can place the days around the things already on the calendar. The coolest thing, is that by next year, we will only have a vague recollection of what we put into it. It really will be a surprise for everyone! For us, it will be a way to be sure that enough time is spent doing family based activities and not running around like crazy just "getting things done".

I like the idea of doing this with small gifts as well, and am thinking that next year, if I'm really on it, November can be spent making advents for all the families we know. If you have ten families, you need to bake a dozen each of a few kinds of cookies, buy a set of small forest animals and paint them with glitter, a box of individually wrapped chocolates to divvy up, print out some friendship notes and curl them up into a vial or tiny box, a few decks of cards maybe from the dollar store, handmade tree ornaments... there are literally so many small objects that would be fun to put in a basket or box, each wrapped individually (make sure you put the individual cookies into wrapping, bags or containers that will keep them fresh) and with numbered tags on them. The family can pick a person each day to open something. So much more special than the cardboard and cheap chocolate things that you see everywhere.

What do you think? Tell you what, I will post this now for next November as well, so we can all remind ourselves!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Colour Palettes for Christmas Decorating

Gatherings Magazine posted a question to it's followers last week on it's facebook page. "What is your favourite Christmas colour scheme?" I was not surprised by the answers, there are a few tried and true palettes that work with Christmas whether it be a classic look you're after or a natural one... or even up to the topmost branch in sweets and confections! It's generally the first thing (right around Halloween) that comes into my brain, and typically I don't sway much from the first inspiration.

Last year, we moved into our house on Halloween, and immediately I knew we had to paint the walls green. Very green. I also knew that I wanted them shiny to reflect the warm glow of the candles and tree lights.  Four coats later, while not as lacquer shiny as I had wanted, they were very green. I intended greens upon greens using texture to define and add elegance. I usually go for all out fun, so this was quite a departure for me. I used metallic hits to break up the green, but for the most part it was layers of green in glass, china, fabrics and cut branches. I loved it.

This year, I want to do natural and neutral. Specifically slate gray with birch. I'm not allowed to repaint. I usually get my way here. I am confused. I know in my head EXACTLY what I want, and generally it would have been sorted well before this point. I keep wading through the decor and starting to put things up but the scheme just doesn't work with the green walls and I take everything back down and put it back in the box.

Weeeellll.... the middle of the month approaches. I simply must change my direction, and I refuse to repeat the decor of last year (yes, YOU try explaining the logic of that to the man) so I am left in a panic. BUT, my lovely eight year old and four year old sons have come to my rescue. The other day, while perusing Pinterest to look at craft ideas, they pointed out that many of my images had a green and aqua thing going on. They both LOVE turquoise and aqua and they are sold. It has taken me a couple of days... but it's possible that we have it.

My question now is do we stick to greens and various blues with silver? Or do we throw in a lavender or a pink? Whichever way you mix it in, it seems that this is a nice balance between my all out crazy fun (think Dr. Seuss or the one year that mustard and violet were the IT combo) and my new adult attitude. What do you think?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Inhabitat's Green and Sparkly Shiny Guide

I am adding a few of these eco gifts from Inhabitat's Green Gift Guide to my own but thought that pointing out their guide might be of use to you. It's full of interesting and unique sparkly things.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On the Agenda: COOKIES!

Molasses Cookies via Not Martha
I am making these today. Because molasses is GOOD for you. My mother says I should be giving my kids a teaspoon a day... well, she said more than that, but we tried it for a bit and both kids disowned me. I don't entirely blame them. So I am putting it in in cookie form instead. Also I think I will try a gingerbread cake. Because Christmas is in full swing around here, folks! I know, this is NOT what she meant...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Knitterly Love

via Motohiro Tanji

I can't knit. It's kind of crazy since I can do so many other crafty things... especially so since my skills in and understanding of textiles are generally pretty good. I know I could learn to knit, and lord knows my mom has tried over and over to teach me... One year EVERYONE got a scarf for Christmas. Tons of them... super long ones too. You would think that after oodles of scarves I would be better than I am... but it's not in my cards, and I accept that. I suppose the fact that I can't just make a knitted something has a lot to do with my obsession with knit goods. I love knit skirts, handbags and pretty much any knit item or garment that is not usually what you think of when you think of knit.


Craig Lawrence
I say obsession, but it isn't the kind of obsession where I want all of it. Far from it... but more of a thing where when I see something unique and beautiful in the knitted world I am far more drawn to it than to something sewn. While I may look at a Dior gown and marvel at the technique and the ingenuity of it, I know that given the resources and time, I could produce something as grandiose... I know I have the talent to make most of the things I see, whether I actually do or not. Sewing is technical, and once you understand the concepts it is pretty easy to deconstruct an item. This is not me saying I am as good a designer as Dior, as dreaming up the designs is something entirely different. The only designer who has literally stumped me so far, is Alexander McQueen (RIP)... which is why he is my favourite. Which brings us back to why amazing knitting awes me.

Annie Larson

Annie Larson
Is it just me? Or is knitting entering an entirely new dimension on the fashion scene? Obviously, somebody someplace has been out there all along knitting amazing and unique pieces... it's not the talent that is new, but there is a recent acceptance, or maybe the same as I feel, awe over the knitted garment. Missoni, Rodarte, major players on the fashion scene as well as relative newcomers like Annie Larson are reinventing knitwear, and most often with as much colour and pattern as they can manage.


I am seeing the most beautiful things come out of the fashion scene in knit, and moreover, seeing all of my most uber chic friends take it up. It's becoming the "cool" hobby. Which IS cool! I am loving this generation's way of embracing all of these skills that we have removed ourselves from. Knitting, baking, slow food, gardening, crafting, etc. How refreshing!

So mom, if you are reading this and you have the utmost desire to knit something in the coming months... I would like to request... this pretty little number from ravelry.  I'm sure it's not that complicated... :) Probably less so than my first choice... Heck, it can't be that much harder than a scarf... maybe I'll give it another go.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Most Totally Awesome Gift Guides!

So here they are, the Handmade Gift Guide, and the Not Handmade But Still Totally Brilliant Gift Guides are here. You can find them by clicking on the appropriate links at the top of the page under the banner.

The DIYs range from super easy to not so much. I have tried to put something in there for everyone, and my idea folders have barely a dent in them, so they will be added to daily. And they will continue to be added to for all time, so if you are looking for ideas past Christmas for birthdays or just a fun DIY they will still be there. Feel free to send me ideas or links if you know of something ridiculously awesome I need to add!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Please Excuse Me... Santa's BUSY!

So yesterday I got all up in the sewing area ready to bust out a bunch of crafts... loaded the fabric into a pile, got back on the computer to look at something in the inspiration file... and the next thing you know I have spent the day putting together Gift Guides for the blog. I have two on the go, one for handmade gifts and one for just supremely cool whatnots that had to be mentioned.

It's OK, a large majority of the whatnots are made from recycled materials and such and I tried very hard to keep with my mantra of less is more... but there are some really nifty things that I needed to put someplace. Rather than doing a post, I think their own pages is a better plan. SO I am spending the rest of today sorting photos and such. I hope you are happy with the result. I will publish them later today with what is there (it takes a surprising amount of time to load photos and links... ) and will continue to add to them for... well forever... but will make a concerted effort for the next week so you can look up some fabulous Christmas ideas.

Around here we make most of our gifts or use "experience" based gifts like classes and such. I will definitely be using a lot of what is on the handmade list! Hope you find them helpful and thanks for your patience with the lack of christmas crafting photos as per yet.... HEY! It's still November people! I know, I know... the early bird and all that. OK! I'm on it!