Thursday, April 21, 2011

plain spoken III - top complete!

I can't believe it! Yesterday I finally finished the quilt top for Plain Spoken III. You know, the on that was a pile of fabric sitting on my desk in November and is going to become a wedding quilt for our friends who were married in October? Haha, clearly it was never going to be done on time.

Plain Spoken III - Top Complete

As of this week, I was still super stumped on how I was possibly going to quilt this beast. It currently sits about about 119" by 117" which is probably unreasonably large. But on Tuesday my dear, sweet, intelligent husband suggested a brilliant idea! I'm not going to share it just yet. I want to make sure it works first. Fingers crossed for me!

When the top was finished it was too big to hold up outside and no one was around to hold it for me anyways, so I decided to set it up on our bed and snap a couple of shots. You can see just how big it is. It hangs quite close to the ground on either side and it is so long that it is pulled all the way to the headboard and tucked around the mattress AND box spring with about 6 inches underneath at the foot board. It's true that I have it on a queen sized bed, but still. I am hoping that quilting and washing will reduce it's size by about 4-5 inches each in width and length.

Plain Spoken III - Top Complete

I've decided to quilt it the exact same way as Plain Spoken II. I'll quilt straight(ish) lines about 1/4 inch apart, across the width of the quilt. And I've decided to be really daring and quilt it in medium gray! I keep trying to remind myself what Clinton & Stacy always say "neutrals go with neutrals" and stop freaking out about quilting a brown and beige quilt with gray. Again, this was dear, sweet hubby's idea. And when I checked with my ultra stylish brother, he agreed that no shade of blue or brown would be quite right and would make it seem too matchy. I like the idea of it feeling a bit more eclectic, so I'm just going to go for it!

The goal for today is to iron all the layers, baste it and start the quilting. Of course to do that, I have to move my dining room table into the living room, wash the floors and wrestled 120 square inches of batting, backing and quilt top over my ironing board. Hmm...maybe I'll just iron on the kitchen floor...

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

time off plans

I have almost 2 full weeks off starting today (what can I say? my job rocks!) I have decided that I had better use this unexpected gift wisely and try to be productive. So, here (in order to keep me accountable) is a list of the goals I hope to accomplish by the end of the month:

1. Finish the Plain Spoken III top, wash the backing and baste the quilt.
2. Finish cutting all the pieces for my Single Girl quilt. Piece all the rings.
3. Find a great deal and order 25 yards of Kona Snow for my Single Girl quilt.
4. Make a throw pillow to match the Single Girl quilt.
5. Do some spring cleaning and organizing. Mainly in my sewing area and the storage closests in the house.
6. Put away (most) of the winter stuff.
7. Make all of the Craft it Forward gifts that I owe people. (More on that later.)
8. Organize more Crafternoons with Esther (I'll call you Esther!)
9. Do LOTS of blogging!
10. Go to the gym everyday but Sunday.

There is also a distinct possibility that I could end up with a paid sewing job for some curtains that need to be altered. They are massive and heavy and would require me to bring my machine to them, so if I do end up getting that little job I will have to put aside 2 days to go and get that done.

So there we go. 10, maybe 11 things that I would like to get done by the end of my "vacation" time. The gym thing would be really nice to accomplish since I have been super lazy recently. I wanted to start running outside a few weeks ago, but the weather in Calgary has been uncooperative as per usual. I think it would help my energy levels and overall happiness to be doing something active each day.

To help me keep organized, I've started using Teux Deux. Have you heard of it? Not only does the name make me laugh, but it is super easy to use and also quite nice to look at. Check it out. Of course the downside is that when you can keep track of your to do's on a daily basis it's easy to see how little you got done the day before if you were being lazy. Oh well.

Monday, April 18, 2011

get jealous

Yeah, get prepared to be insanely jealous!

If you aren't familiar with Katy of i'm a ginger monkey, you should definitely check her out. She does amazing work, and was most recently one of the hosts of the Single Girl Support Group.

She just hosted a giveaway for a GORGEOUS pillow made from the Single Girl pattern and a pile of really beautiful Liberty of London prints and GUESS WHAT??

I won!

I'm so over the top about this. In the 3 years I have been reading sewing blogs and entering giveaways I have only won one other giveaway, and thanks to the ever incompetent Canada Post, my prize never arrived. I'm sure it's sitting in limbo somewhere in a big warehouse in Ottawa or something like that.

Anyways, here it is:


Photo by: imagingermonkey

Seriously. I can't wait for it to get here. I'm sure it doesn't match anything in my house, but I think it will be my special pillow I carry around with me wherever I go.

Go ahead, get your jealousy on. :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

cosmo bag - complete!


I did it. I made a huge bag from a pattern and I didn't screw it up! I got Style Stitches by Amy Butler out of the library last week and decided to make the Cosmo Bag. Not only is it the first bag in the book, but it might be the cutest one too!

The bag is a present for a friend who is super funky and stylish, so I sure hope it lives up to her style!

I used a cotton blend home decor weight fabric from ikea for the main body with a dark wash denim for the straps and exterior detail. For the lining I chose Kona cotton in Cerise. Overall, even though the pattern is super labor intensive, I really enjoyed making the bag. Other than one or two steps, most of it is really straight forward. I specifically love the pleating and the giant button covered in coordinating fabric.

Cosmo Bag Detail

I will say this for the pattern: it could have used a few more diagrams or photos. There are not enough. At a few points I was thoroughly confused and had to re-read the step several times. I was really glad to have found a few different sew alongs online that had extra pictures and explanations.

It was a real bonehead move for me to use denim for the straps and exterior detail. It was already really thick and then I added interfacing, and since the seams are all supposed to be ironed to the side, in some cases there were as many as 6 layers of interfaced denim at one seam. I re-sewed the top stitching around the edges of the handles 5 different times.

Cosmo Bag

I added a little label on the inside of the bag to give it a little something special. I didn't really want to add a Superlative Sewing label so I made a cute little squiggle with a custom stitch on my machine.

Cosmo Bag Label

I did make one change to the pattern. Instead of 2 floppy slip pockets on each side, I made 3 on one side and a zipper pocket on the other.

Now here's the crazy part: This bag took me over 12 hours to make! I'm really hoping that was mostly because I hadn't made it before and because of all the re-sewing of the top stitching because I want one for myself! Happy Birthday Mel!

Friday, April 15, 2011

dqs10 - received!

I finally got my doll quilt from round 10 of the Doll Quilt Swap! It arrived in my mailbox on Monday, all the way from Canberra, Australia! The lovely Leah of PuggleLogic made me this beautiful abstract quilt entitled "Birch in Winter".

DQS 10 Received!

With the quilt came a sweet little card and a Cherry Ripe chocolate bar. At least I think it's chocolate. I've never heard of it, but I'm excited to try it!

My photos definitely don't do this little quilt justice. The quilting is phenomenal! I don't know where Leah learned to quilt like that, but I am seriously jealous of her skills.


Thanks again Leah, I was super happy to get your quiltjavascript:void(0) in my mailbox!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I've had a few things rolling around in my head for a few days and I finally decided to put there down somewhere so I can stop thinking about them. Here goes:

1. Almost everyone I know, myself included, has opinions about raising and interacting with children. Since I don't yet have kids of my own, in many ways I don't feel qualified to have opinions. However, I work as a nanny to 3 fabulous kids and have for a couple of years now, and it has provided ne an opportunity to sort out some of my personal opinions and ideas about raising children. Don't worry, I'm not going to share them with you here. I believe that everyone has the right to raise their children in whatever way they feel is right and best for them and I try very hard not to offer advice unless specifically asked. But I'll admit, I have criticized (either in my head or to a family member or friend) some odd parenting choices I've seen from time to time.

The reason I have been thinking about this is becuase of something that happened last Friday. I took one of the kids to a fun morning play group with songs, art and activities. He is normally a very happy and out going little guy but was obviously feeling a little off his game that day. It was a full hour of mini meltdowns and temper tantrums, and if I was feeling bold enough, I should have just taken him home early. That probably would have been the best solution. Not because I felt he needed to be punished, but because he wasn't happy and I wasn't happy and it was stressing us both out. Oh well, hindsight, right?

After the free play portion of the morning, we moved on to art and the meltdown ramped up even more. I did what I could to move him on to doing something he enjoys and try to redirect, and when that didn't work I calmly said "no more" and let him sit where he was and work it out. The idea was that he usual calms down quite quickly and comes back to where the fun is. He had been sitting on the floor crying for no more than 15 seconds when a mother fom the class came up and gave me a faux sympathetic look and said in a very syrupy voice "would you mind if I try holding him?" I was so surprised by this that without thinking I agreed. It was only once she had picked him up that I realized how pissed I was. She proceeded to bounce and snuggle and coo at him like he was an infant and say things to me like "oooh, he's a sensitive little guy isn't he?". After a minute of this, he was more upset than he had been and I regained my presence of mind enough to take him back.

Here's my question: why was this woman thinking it was her place to step in? He wasn't in any pain or being neglected, he was a toddler having a temper tantrum. And why, when she offered "help" did she thinking it was appropriate to do so in such an obnoxious and condescending way?
I am young, yes. Not necessarily too young to have a child of my own, but young. And I look younger than I am. I frequently get mistaken for a high schooler, and I frequently get mistaken for a mother when I am out with the kids I nanny. But still, why would you offer unsolicited parenting advice to a stranger or offer to hold them with the not so subtle underone of "I can do it better than you."

I recently read a serious of posts entitled Momness by Kacy of Every Day I Write the Book, about this subject and I have to agree. Unless you know soneone and their kid(s) personally, butt out. And even if you do know them, tread lightly and respectfully and offer something constrctive instead of just plain critical. Otherwise you may get punched in the face. Because that is what I felt like doing.

Moving on.

2. A sure sign of spring in our community is a sudden and steep increase in the number of people knocking on our door. I don't know what it is about our particular part of town, but I have never had so many unwelcome visitors to our front porch.

To name a few: ADT, the Jehovas Witnesses, the Mormons, municipal political candidates, the scouts, the yellow pages, the Calgary Herlald, the Calgary Sun, it goes on.

Last weekend we had the Scouts AND the Jehovah's Witnesses (twice) over two days. I was irritated by the scouts because they were doing a bottle drive to raise money for their troop and had posted big billboards asking people who wanted to donate to put them on their porch, clearly labeled, by a certain time on a certain day. We don't give money to the Scouts. We don't want to give our bottles to the Scouts. So we didn't put any bottles out. And guess what? They came knocking anyway. I was polite and friendly to the boy that came to the door, because he was a kid, but I was irritated that a leader was sending their kids around to ask.

Not 5 minutes after I sent the Scout away, a pair of men dressed in suits and carrying little pamphlets on Jesus came knocking. I opened the door and greeted them and they immediately started in on their speech. I quickly interrupted them and said as politely as possibly, "I'm sorry but we have a sign on our door that clearly states 'No Solicitors". We are not interested." Big shocker, they started telling me they weren't soliciting but merely telling me about Jesus. I call that soliciting religious information. I wasn't so polite after that. I told them I consider them solicitors and they are not exempt from the sign, and to please leave immediately and by the way, don't come back.

Call me mean or cranky, but if I want information on your religious organization or political campaign, or a vacuum, or alarm system or ANYTHING ELSE, I will come find you. Please do no knock on my door at 9am on a Saturday morning and bother me with it. I will shut the door in your face.

The Jehovah's Witness's came back the next morning and then I was really pissed. I pointed to the sign, said "What does it say???" And again, they told me they weren't soliciting. Seriously. I told them what I told their friends yesterday and to get lost.

Needless to say, I will be our replacing the sign with something bigger and more menacing. How does this sound:

Solicitors, Peddlers, Sales People, Religious/Spiritual Organizations, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, Canvassers, Free Trial Offers, Energy Companies, Flyers, Phone Books, Yellow Pages or Home Security Companies

If you think you might be exempt from that list, you are NOT. Do not ring the bell, knock on the door or leave anything behind. We don't want it. If you ignore this we will call your company or organization and complain, and we will call the city and complain about you and your company.

Neighbours, Friends, Family and Newspapers always welcome!

Haha, do I sound like enough of a grump yet?? Obviously I won't put all that on a sign, but people interrupting my personal time make me maybe I will!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

a random finish


A WHILE back, (like...November?) I made a set of 10 colourful over sized bibs as a custom order. I was asked to make them for a child of an acquaintance of a friend. You follow? Anyways, the girl who got them is around 10 years old and has severe cerebral palsy which means (among other things)that she has no control over her saliva. This results in excessive drooling which means this poor girl has to have her clothes changed about 4 times a day, just to keep her from being soaking wet. The family has tried towels and bibs to help, but nothing seemed to work.


I came up with a plan to make a bib big enough to fit me that had a fun cotton on the top followed by 2 absorbent layers (1 cotton, 1 cotton batting) and backed with a plastic layer to prevent it from soaking through. I had a pile of fun fabrics sitting around in my stash that I had yet to find a use for and I thought that since they were going to become a part of her wardrobe, they should be more fun than just whatever I had lying around. For the backing, I purchased an eco-friendly white shower curtain liner and cut it to pieces. It was a bit difficult to sew with but did the trick.

I picked out some cool stuff and added a second pattern to each bib for the strings. I used 1"bias binding to make the strings and it seemed to work pretty well.

Bib Roll

Here they are on their way to their new home. I didn't deliver them in person, but rather let my friend take them over and I haven't heard whether they work well, but I sure hope they do! In any case, they were super fun to make and it was really good to actually put some of my stash to good use.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

hubby turns 30

Well, it happened. Joel turned 30! We had a great time celebrating this weekend and I thought I would share some pictures with you.

On Friday night we went out for dinner to Charcut. Yum! They are a fairly new roast house type restaurant located in a new boutique hotel downtown called Hotel Le Germain. Decor was a great mix of modern and rustic, with lots of leather and wood and glass everywhere.


We ordered a wide variety of things off their ever changing menu. There were warm soft pretzels with homemade mustard, shaved lamb with grated gruyere, pickled heirloom carrots, cucumbers and beets, roasted chicken and charred vegetables, prawn fetuccini and duck fat fried poutine with truffle gravy. Needless to say, by the time we were done with all that we had no room left for dessert, despite the fact that a friend of ours there is one of the dessert chefs and has an original recipe on the menu.

Saturday was the main event and Joel's actual birthday. I got up and went to the grocery store despite the 10cm of snow on the ground that had fallen the night before, and bought some fresh french bread and lots of fresh fruit. We had a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and fruit and then I spent the rest of the day getting ready for the party.

We decided to host a Gentleman's Evening which if you think too hard sounds a bit like strippers and beer, but trust me, was waaaay better than that! 20 of us gathered at our house, decked out in our finest. The boys played in a poker tournament while the girls provided wait service for the evening. Thank goodness I have girlfriends who are willing to regress a little and spend the evening serving the men while they smoke cigars, drink scotch and play cards! It all felt a little Mad Men.

Dealer Shuffles

Food and Conversation

There was for food than 50 people could have eaten, and a VERY well stocked bar. Joel and I worked together to come up with a drinks menu for the guys to order from, including some signature highballs and martinis.

Cigars and Scotch

Since we had to split the group into two to play poker, after both tables had dwindled to 4 people we took a bit of a break. The guys (and Mel!) stepped outside to smoke their cigars, which were Cuban because well, we can have those in Canada. After that we cut the cake (complete with 30 candles) and enjoyed a few pieces. The cake came from Marble Slab Creamery and was beyond delicious! Chocolate Amaretto with Skor, Krispy Krunch, Reese's Pieces and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups mixed in. SO decadent!

Ice Cream Cake!

We had a blast! And as far as I can tell, so did everyone else. No less than 4 guys at the party said they wanted to repeat the event at their own birthday. Even all the hard working ladies said they had a great time, and it was fun to watch the men "get manly" for the night.

Hot Chicks

Of course there had to be some birthday kisses too!


I do wish I had been able to snap some pictures before the party instead of after. When it was all set up, the place looked fantastic. Call me crazy, but I ended up disassembling our 110" long sofa with two chaises and moving all the parts to different places in the house all to make room for the second poker table. I hung paper pennants (made for his party last year) in different directions all across the kitchen, living room and dining room.

Party Details

I also added a Happy Birthday pennant banner on the short wall by the front door.


Like I said above, we made up some drinks menus that we printed back to back and cut in half to make them long and skinny. We hung a full page version with extra info on the cabinet door above the bar counter.

Party Details

I was so happy to be able to give Joel such a fun party. 30 is definitely a milestone and everyone should get to ring it in with a bang!

There is actually going to be one more part of his party which will come in a month or two. We are planning a white water rafting trip with about a dozen on our friends. We just need to find a date that works for everyone and book it! I have to say, I'm looking forward to that part a lot less than I was looking forward to the party.

Monday, April 4, 2011

365 March

365 March 2011

1. 365.67, 2. 365.68, 3. 365.69, 4. 365.70, 5. 365.71, 6. 365.72, 7. 365.73, 8. 365.74, 9. 365.74, 10. 365.75, 11. 365.76, 12. 365.77, 13. 365.78, 14. 365.79, 15. 365.80, 16. 365.81, 17. 365.82, 18. 365.83, 19. 365.84, 20. 365.85, 21. 365.86, 22. 365.87, 23. 365.88, 24. 365.89, 25. 365.90, 26. 365.91, 27. 365.92, 28. 365.93, 29. 365.94, 30. 365.95, 31. 365.96