Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Fever

(editorialized December 29)

Bad photo taken at night of current blocks...

Here's what's up:(stand by for pics...i'm back, baby)

Sewing a cloth book (done! cute! no photo! aghghg),
making runners (okay finished one for in-laws...heat-proof and cute),
secretly making quilt blocks for a quilt that is likely going too take too long to be in time for Christmas (yep...coming up, though)
organizing a massive truffle manufacturing plant in my kitchen with a staff of two preschoolers (that worked out SO WELL..get this -- although we spent $ on realy good chocolate, it was worth it -- we had gifts enough for six teachers and five friends and relatives!..we ended up buying cute xmas-y boxes at the dollar store to tie up with ribbon and a hand-written ingredient tag...)
shopping for books, pyjamas, slippers, and hats on line (lovely, will do that again for sure),
living without a dining room table and debating what to do for Christmas (we got it and it's tres cool -- thanks, Smash!),
waiting for fabric to arrive from Australia (yummy...and I'm about to make some small sweet treats, maybe fabric baskets or dishtowels...hmm),
bothering the mailman by popping out when he is on our front steps (our regular guy is back and i love him -- he comes at 12:30 instead of 3:30 because it makes sense to him -- and it's great for us...he said the substitute delivery person we had for two weeks is a by-the-booky guy who follows the route according to book...and left us with mail at 3:30),
putting up twinkle lights across the top of the piano (and our old reliable ikea twinkle wreath, love that thing),
sneaking out to Sephora in the evening with my mother, to gleefully shop and test perfume (I don't have any galpals here I can do that with) (alas too poor for perfume this far...haha),
stressing about a brake job for the car (done...boring),
searching for the elves who might be watching,
knitting secretly (done! cashmere scarf for Mum out of this gorgeous watery-coloured Fleece Artist yarn...will post a pic),
and wondering just who should get the fuzzy fleece blanket I'm whipping up....(the back of our covers three people at once...and i didn't "finish" it...just threw the fabric in there and let it do its job. The back of the car of a filthy kid-crumb-covered

I'm finished with my latest writing deadline -- phew -- hallelujah -- and so now spend time with kids and in the real world. ( deadline, january 5TH! eek) However -- blog here is suffering mightily. I'll be back, I promise.
(I'm back.)


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today's Photo

Alan Islands
Originally uploaded by andrewmccarthytravel
I happened upon this great photo this morning. It's like -- if you need to read this sign, you're screwed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

a meme -- does that mean a "me me me" posting?

I'm feeling a bit panicked about not posting in so long. I won't be gone for good, I promise. Just a writing deadline that is looming FAST...and a sewing room that really calls me...and I try so hard to ignore it for the greater good.. For now. December is another matter. Mum is coming to visit for a MONTH (yay) and I hope we can do a sewing storm for Christmas.

About my knitting in the round. For you knitters out there, you know what twisting the stitches means. A Shawl that suddenly has turned into a twisted snake of useless time-eating knitted product. I had never done it before, and on my own, knitting a lovely varigated wool shawl into a twisted snake. How the -- I couldn't believe it. So obvious, in hindsight. So now I'm back to simple scarf knitting for a while. I'll get back on the horse again. And post a pic of the goofiness asap.

For now, quickly, via mimosa13 via posey gets cosy (she has a new book, i see! very cool!) is a quick "meme". I think that's what this is.

Hope you're having a lovely late fall day.

Where is your mobile phone? my daughter's purse?
Where is your significant other? kitchen
Your hair colour? dark blonde...ish
Your mother? halifax
Your father? cape breton
Your favourite thing? creating
Your dream last night? anxious
Your dream goal? peace
The room you're in? Bedroom
Your hobby? sewing
Your fear? incomplete works
Where do you want to be in 6 years? barcelona...?
Where were you last night? here
What you're not? humourless
One of your wish-list items? books
Where you grew up? cape breton, ns, canada
The last thing you did? made espresso
What are you wearing? running top and ratty sweats
Your TV? a bit wee
Your pets? tony baloney (tabby)
Your computer? mac laptop
Your mood? upbeat
Missing someone? mum
Your car? old volvo
Something you're not wearing? makeup
Favourite shop? workroom
Your summer? toronto...:(
Love someone? Yes
Your favourite colour? chartreuse
When is the last time you laughed? last night
When is the last time you cried? last week

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hideous Birds

I'm still SWAMPED with my day job. Back soon, I hope. I need to tell you about my knitting-in-the-round fiasco.

For now, LOOK at these parrots. I just bought two "hideous birds" for my kids. (Christmas secret...shh.) Aren't they great? Find them here!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fall's To Do List

Summer is definitely gone. Shot. Vamoosed. But the up side consists of pretty weekends - light turning gold through the trees.

It won't last long...I dread winter. Winter in Canada. I KNOW. Crazy! Why don't we all move somewhere tropical? Family. Just like it is for remain close to family, therefore remain somewhere for generations. I dream of moving to Spain or a tropical place...working from home. Hosting family visits. And tossing the snowsuits.

Until then, I think it's important to appreciate just what we've got. It's a lot. My DH's family hosted us recently...they have a lovely lakeside home. It rained. But it was beautiful. With a crazy windy walk on a lake beach.

In terms of what I should be telling you about -- my crafting and sewing -- there are tons of things going on and I haven't taken any pictures! Every time I want to post something it's dark and the pictures would be awful. Until I take some, heres' a list:

Quilt for my son (turquoise, blue, white, nine patch...I'm making it up as I go along. Christmas gift. He doesn't read the blog so I'm safe. ;) )

Robe for a family member (shhh...Christmas gift)'s done, I just need to finish the hem.

Knitting -- I'm knitting with circular needles for the first time -- woo hoo! Of course I've dropped stitches and now have holes. I am going to throw myself at the mercy of someone at the knit cafe to help me. I'll pay you. Really. I'm making myself a sort of shrug (selfish? yes. 'fraid so) and for someone else a beautiful cashmere scarf. I mean, I hope I can finish it. Those stitches are SMALL. Dang. Yarn from a place in Nova Scotia, where I'm from (sniff), called the fleece artist. I never knit in the summer. Sounds like you guys are like that, too, some of you sweet bloggers. I am LOVING everyone's blogs and really have to restrain myself from reading them for hours every day. I really do.

Okay, back to knitting. I've taught myself how to knit in the continental fashion! I can't dance all continental, but I can twist wool. Just the knit stitch. (I used this video tutorial and watched it over and over again about twelve times to understand.) And this new method is so much faster that I now have a sore wrist from WHIPPING ALONG. I'll take a break today. Let the old wrist heal, then back at it. Mm, must take some extra calcium. I'm no spring chick, you know.

What else -- a half-finished burda-patterned short dress/tunic. I'll abandon that til spring - it's a warm weather item. Though we do visit family in Florida every Maybe I'll finish it after Christmas.

I'm really trying to do an all-handmade Christmas this year! But for my big strong little brother, a Dad to two boys? What the heck to make him? A scarf doesn't cut it.

A red backpack for my son, "just like Jack's" in the "Jack & Annie" books. Magic Treehouse. Are your children hooked on those? Well, they have them at J.'s Montessori school so I figured they must be okay. The writing is cliched -- but then again, kids can't usually spot a cliche. Therefore, when telling stories, I can get away from that old "boy fell down a hole and dog brings help" tale. It's all new to them, baby!

Speaking of "baby", I inadvertently taught J, 5, how to say "oooh, baby!" when faced with a meal that looks good. Weird.
Okay, back to list. I am quilting more (making a free-form quilt for my daughter V, 3, out of pinks and yellows), making cushions in a patchwork style for my in-laws for Christmas (my MIL knows...she helped me pick the labour is the gift! Lame? Hope not. I have to make them pretty, for sure!) .

Making simple guest room linen curtains. Hey, by the way. White linen. Was sort of yellowed when I bought it (didn't see it at the time -- weird) so I washed it with a little bleach and now it's MORE yellowed. What's up with that? Any tips?

I want to make fabric buckets out of the gocco prints from Jodie at Ricrac. I cannot for the life of me think of a better word than "crap" to embroider on them. Testament to her brilliance.

I better get to "work"-work....though I would LOVE to sew blocks together all morning...


Thursday, November 6, 2008

PS. The Costume Results

My child actually has his eyes closed here! Eyeballs are painted on. His idea. And the ankle chains (see below) were too $^%$&^ heavy to wear around. The pic below is pre-makeup. So for those of you who read the post about my sweet son's demanding costume request, here it is.

In this pic J. didn''t have his spooky makeup on yet... and he ditched the veil. I understood. It's all candy, candy, candy, and lemme have it and gimme it now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

US Presidential Election

I'm a Canadian, but WOW. What an exciting time in the history of North America. Congratulations, to friends in the US, for voting in Barack Obama.

Anyone flip around the dial watching various networks' coverage? It was hilarious on the BBC, honestly. Terrific. And Fox was very flashy so when we started to get drowsy we'd switch to the loud bells and whistles. CNN a little dull. Canadian coverage was from a distance, which I guess makes sense. Interviewing crowds, etc. Snore. But honestly, the cast of characters on BBC was brilliant. The crusty old host, a little dotty with the time change from London to Washington. Forgetting where he was. Marvelling at the high-tech map of the states. And then the lovable gap-toothed Brit historian with a big view of the marvel of it all. The insanely hostile US Amabassador to the UN (who is apparently known for throwing things at underlings.). The clever, probing questioning from the BBC reporters who wanted a random exec Republican to admit defeat. The Republican getting all angry and repeating himself. Going on the attack, petulant, saying "YOU JUST DON'T KNOW YOUR HISTORY". It was excellent. Truly.

What a night. I reluctantly fell asleep before Obama's speech, but it's right here, for instance.

By the way, wasn't it interesting to see the "Crafters for Obama" buttons on blogs?


Sunday, October 26, 2008

the trim A-liner

I found this as a yard sale this summer for 25c . Might be just the pattern for an cozy autumn dress for V. Some other kids' patterns I bought had a particular note on the front that really irked me and must have driven moms crazy in the 60s: "Not suitable for chubby girls."



Imagine those poor 1965-era "chubby" girls who were perfectly healthy and happy, aving a nice day with their mothers, until they fell in love with a dress pattern, only to realize....HORROR...they are 'CHUBBY' and the swish new dress is 'UNSUITABLE'. Really. Ousted from the fashionable world by a stamp likely placed on the design by a nasty little man who eats lettuce for breakfast.

Well, my little V. is a skinny thing...but even if she weren't stick-like I'd make those "unsuitable" patterns work with some expansion techniques and love. And a piece of black tape covering the offending statement. So there.


hey there, dollface

There's something so satisfying about making a doll and doll clothes for my daughter. Even though V. strips the clothes off pretty much right away. (She's 3). My mother made tons of fashionable clothes for my Barbie childhood neighbour even crocheted her daughter's doll clothes. It was pretty crazy.

This new one I made for my girl is mostly based on the "inside a black apple" doll. (video tutorial and pattern is here!) I mixed up the head with another pattern, somehow! I didn't have felt for the hair so I tried stitching the outline. I gave it my daughter's colouring. And the dress was a quickie, using scraps. But I did zig zag the dress edges so it wouldn't fray TOO quickly.

My girl likes her.

Yay. It's hard to find lovely cuddly-soft dolls that are appealing after baby age, you know? They all have hard plastic faces. This one, a girl can roll over on in her sleep and not get poked in the cheek with prickly eyelashes...

Now, here's a real doll maker: I love Jodie's dolls here -- and she makes an entire wardrobe for each one. Spectacular.

We're stripping off and getting ready for a spa day, perhaps?

V. used to call everything "Anna" but now she's getting more creative. So far the poor dear is nameless. We'll see who she becomes. For now she's just "dolly".


Friday, October 24, 2008

..a few new sewn odds and bobs...

Hi! I've really got no time to write anything today! I'm working on a deadline at home and getting ready for a weekend away at relatives who live a couple hours away...So here are a few pics -- odds and ends I have had lots of fun making recently...

A wonky patchwork potholder for my gourmet chef-ish husband.

Turned out a bit's got an old towel as the liner. I read about that somewhere...

And a doll quilt for my daughter.

This was so fast to make, it was a very satisfying exercise.

Again, I used unusual "batting". It is babysoft polyester fleece I had lying around. Makes it quite soft and yummy, actually. I know cotton is better for you. But, you know, I had the stuff on hand...

These photos look okay when I adjust them in "iphoto" but then they look like crap when I post them. I should probably start using Photoshop or something.

Anyway, have a great autumn/spring weekend (depending on where you are). Take it easy, like bunny here.

His secret is that his bum has a burn mark from when I was a new mother, placed him on a lamp, for some odd reason. I must have been totally sleep-deprived. He is scarred but cheerful. Forgive and forget, is his motto.

x ella

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

hallowe'en costume request

Okay. So I made the collosal mistake of asking my five year old what he'd like to be for Hallowe'en. Here's what he drew.

"Witch on top with ghost film over face, pumpkin head, witch top, monster middle, red and black witch skirt, monster middle, chains on ghost legs. And monster feet."

Uh, huh.

So a few days later I asked him what he would like to be (hoping he'd forget his original answer and say "a ghost"), and he recited this all again verbatum!!!! So, no he wasn't trying to press my buttons with crazy improvised answer the first time.


Wish me luck on this one.

PS - I suggested specific things tothe three-year old, telling myself she would have her chance to be really crazy/creative when she's five, too. Right? I drew the pic for her and she approved. Whew.

So I made the skirt yesterday of cheap black stuff and she decided to do interpretive dancing in it. Sweet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

finished rust log cabin pillow

Okay, quick post, to say hi. Here's the finished log cabin patchwork pillow I started a week or so ago. My first log cabin, done old-style with lights on one corner and darks on the other. I don't love love love it any more, but it's done. Funny how that works. I like it, though. Must have been that short-lived craving of fall colours. Fleeting.

I used autumn-coloured scraps -- linen, kona cotton, old 80's floral, lucien stuff...

...belgian gingham from a failed hat project, my husband's orange shirt...

I finally sewed up the sides and used a zip closure. I stuck an old pillow inside it, thus the stiff look. The hand-quilting is in red -- big stitches. I have yet to use my new walking foot.

I made those other cushions you see on the couch last winter when I first started sewing again. When I decided I could have a "hobby". For me. Before it all took over my life...haha.

Monday, October 20, 2008

breakfast with mister cloud

Mister Cloud cries for happiness. Don't cry, Mister Cloud. I'll share my espresso with you.

Ah, fresh joe.

(Mister Cloud, you like coffee? Dark, syrupy espresso, hopefully fair trade, and not over-roasted a la *&%#bucks.) Personally, that's my choice. No sugar, no milk. You?)

And would you like some naturally-raised bacon fried up right, in my wonky pan?
You're vegetarian?
Oh. How embarrasing.
Let's see...

How about an apple?


I'm about to dive into work again this week. I'm catching up with everyone's blogs and it's so fun to have them stockpiled in my reader. (Do you use a reader?)

Back to coffee for a minute. A favourite subject. (Sorry, tea-drinkers. I admire your health but...) I go to a great place here called "Cherry Bomb". It has a minimalist Ikea/70's theme and service is fast and friendly. I'm a coffee addict. Always have been...since grade ten or so.

These pics of questionable quality are of a few freehand embroideries I did on a car trip recently. That cloud one was totally inspired by the Japanese kyuuto trend, I admit.
Sorry, these are blurry. Crummy camera.

When in doubt as to what to embroider, you can never go wrong with a bird.

Hope you have a sweet Monday.

xo ella

Sunday, October 19, 2008

kitchen embroideries

I hope you're having a lovely weekend. It's been very busy here at our house. For now, here's a coffee pot, traced from a 1950's cookbook photo...

...and some cutlery (embroidered on a car trip). I do that now -- like an old lady. I do my "needlework" in the I don't gasp as we pass other cars...& so I don't watch the speedometer.

Ahhh...just like a tranquelizer to a back-seat driver.

I hope you're having a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


We all went to a country fair over the Thanksgiving weekend.
It's a festival that's been on the go for sixty years or so. Nice barn, huh?

Here are my kids, waiting for the next horseback riding competitor.

That's me in the pink t-shirt...Yes, I'm at the top of the Fun Slide. Sigh. What can ya do?

We ate questionable French Fries...

...pretended to go really really fast on a really really slow train...petted bunnies and chicks...

...listened (and even danced to) a family fiddle group.

Then we were somewhat startled to witness a "souped-up lawn tractor" racetrack. Crazy.

Yes. It really does say "ONTARIO EXTREME LAWN TRACTOR RACING". You know? Who thought this one up?

And those are not our kids. Ours were covering their ears and whining for cotton candy.

Yes. Here comes the lawn tractor now. Not a blade of grass in sight. Only things this baby's cutting are my EARDRUMS.

And here's the crowd! Loving it. Woah.

But anyway...the rest of it, the farmy stuff and kids' rides...was nice. 'Til it got too damn hot to stand out there with no shade. So we called it a day. Or, in our family, a half-day. Feels like a day when you reach 2 pm, don't you think?

Then, back to my in-laws' home for Thanksgiving dinner. My MIL, a very talented cook, made spicy roast chicken, Jamaican "rice and peas", sweet-roasted squash, & gravy. Dessert was pumpkin pie and fresh whipped cream. Oh. My.

Thanks for going on this family weekend ride. Back to sewing/craft stuff soon. But here's another tree picture.

Tomorrow I'll post on a few new sewing projects. And maybe a sewing "to do" list? Hm. Should I make failures public, is the question. Hmmm.

Have a great night.
xo ella

ps - oh yes - the workroom had a big one-year anniversary party and it was great with wine and lucky draws and cake and i hope that it runs a long long time and okay that's all for now.