Friday, 23 January 2015

Leather Bracelets


I did not make these bracelets.  My husband did.  He commandeered my leather scraps and asked me for whatever other tool or supply he needed throughout the afternoon.  The snaps were either my grandma's or his grandma's.  I love his designs.  He's currently making one for me.


Thursday, 15 January 2015

Thoughts on Clothes Shopping and Target Canada's Closing

Target recently announced that they are closing their Canadian stores. My first reaction when I heard was, "Noooooooooo!!!!!!!!"  I love Target. It's like the posh Walmart. They earned my undying loyalty with my $60 wool 7x10 rug. Plus, a big percentage of my clothing is from Target. Where am I supposed to buy my underwear now?

But maybe I should take this as a sign to buy less, but better quality. Maybe instead of buying whatever looks cute, I should instead shop with a plan. Actually try things on in the store. Make sure they fit.

I've been scared to commit to quality clothing, because I don't like the shape of my body. Or the way clothes fit me. Instead of having child-bearing  hips, I have flat boyish hips and a child-bearing tummy. I don't believe clothing is made to fit me, as I am, right now. This insecurity makes me hide in whatever cute, oversized sweater Target happens to have on sale that week that looks good with leggings or old navy skinny jeans.

But the trouble with making a resolution to buy better quality clothing is this: I have no idea where to shop. I don't know what is available between Target prices and Anthropologie prices. And is the expensive stuff even worth the money or is the price inflated just because of the brand?

I've purchased supposed brand name clothing before. The Kismet sweater has a faulty zipper. The amazingly-soft Roxy hoodie pilled horribly after one wash. The Bench jacket has no lining and some other questionable design issues. And what is with all the "hand wash" and "dry clean only", eh Marshalls?

My other issue, beyond price, is style. It seems that all the stores selling styles I would like to wear make their clothes for flat-chested teenagers. Where is a busty girl supposed to get a flattering, non-matronly dress that doesn't have a waistline six inches too high (which leads to congratulations on my non-existent pregnancy)? Or a shirt that "the girls"won't fall out of every time I bend over and I can actually wear to church without yanking the neckline up every five minutes?

So what do I do?  If you're 30-something and into fashion on a buget, where do you shop?  

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Author Chelsey Krause's Debut, and a Giveaway

Author Chelsey Krause
I am lucky to have some awesome friends.  I never thought I would have so many great friends.  I thought I was just not good at making friends.  I'd like to talk about one friend in particular today.  She's a fairly new friend, but almost from the first time we met we knew we were kindred spirits.

Chelsey is fun and flamboyant, and quiet and sweet all at the same time.  She's a nurse by profession, and is raising two tiny and adorable little ones. We're very different in many ways, but it's funny how much we have in common too, right down to our homeschooled backgrounds.

And Chelsey is a writer.  Her first book, Can't Always Get What You Want, comes out on January 13th, and I am so excited for her!  I read her book as a beta reader, and I can't wait to get a copy of the real thing.  The e-real thing anyway.  Her publisher, Loveswept, is a digital imprint of Random House.  My goal is to help Chelsey's book rocket to the top of the charts so fast that they have no choice but to print it on paper.  And I will be first in line to buy it then too.

You may think that I am so enthusiastic about Can't Always Get What You Want simply because Chelsey is my friend.  You would be wrong.  Yes, it is fun to have a friend get published, but the main reason I rave about this book (and my book club will be reading it in February) is because of the writing.  I've read a little Chick Lit (aka romantic comedy) before.  I've read romance before, even the stereotypical bodice-ripper variety.  I've even read Sophie Kinsella, one of Chelsey's favourites in her genre.  No offence to Ms. Kinsella, but I honestly think Chelsey's book is better.

The writing sparkles brighter than a vampire in sunlight.  Chelsey's hilarious wit is enhanced by the emotional depth that I honestly wasn't expecting in a Chick Lit book.  Lots of tears were shed over this book, both in laughter and empathy.

Here's the blurb from Random House:
Sophie Richards has been looking forward to a much-needed girls’ night out: a Rolling Stones tribute-band concert, a few drinks, a distraction from her grueling nursing shifts in acute care. But when her best friend bails, Sophie gets stuck with a blind date. Although Brett Nicholson may be the hottest carpenter alive, and Sophie may technically be single, she isn’t exactly on the market . . .
And that's all I'm giving you.  Head over to read the rest, or better yet, just buy a copy, plunge right in and find out that way (It will cost you less than a latte).  I loved not knowing why Sophie wasn't on the market until the story doled it out bit by bit.  It was torture, but the kind that makes you stay up all night to finish reading the book.

One of my favourite scenes in the book is the very first one. It's shocking (for a prudish old woman like me) and hilarious, and showcases perfectly Chelsey's knack for putting her characters in horrifyingly awkward situations.Oh, and the hero's twist!  Loved it.  I promise you will have fun reading this book.

And, dear readers, that is why I'm giving some copies away!  I really want to share this book with you, so in addition to the three copies Chelsey's editor has offered for my readers, I will to give away three more (that's six winners, folks!) From now 'til January 13, please spread the word, tweet, share, whatever.  This book deserves to be read.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you need more incentive to either enter the giveaway or preorder the book, check out a few posts from the official blog tour:

Read an exerpt at The Bookish and the Romantic

Read an interview with Chelsey at Manga Manic Cafe

Follow Chelsey's Facebook page for more stops on the book tour throughout this month.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

"Crafty" vs. "Creative"

craft, creative, diy, maker

I grew up with a creative mama.  Dressmaker, cake decorator, baker, sign painter, artist, designer...these were only some of the hats she wore.  When, as homeschooled kids, we had an art project, we didn't pull out the construction paper, plastic scissors, and markers.  No, we had cardstock, sharp craft knives, and watercolour pencils.  We even each had our own self-healing cutting mat and cork-backed metal ruler (both of which I still have and use).  So I was exposed early to quality hand-crafts.

So it's no wonder that I have a slight unintentional contempt for projects I consider "crafty", like egg carton caterpillars, or anything with googly eyes or brightly-coloured acrylic yarn soaked in Elmer's glue. (My kids, on the other hand, love this stuff.)

This is why I have loved the trend these days toward designer-quality creative projects rather than crafty make-work projects.  I would rather spend my creative energies making something useful and beautiful rather than creating more clutter.  I've always disliked an overabundance of knick-nacks, so my shelves are filled with books and baskets and dishes and natural elements instead of figurines (except for one shelf of Willow Tree figures that we received as gifts and sort of fit my aesthetic).  And after a few false starts in buying large artwork that I tire of within a few years, my walls decor is slowly moving toward a style I prefer: salvaged elements, vintage mirrors and frames, beautiful clocks, and meaningful creative projects, such as my display of Grandma's spoons.

But back to the craftiness, I want to only make things that I would be comfortable giving as a gift.  If it isn't classy enough to consider giving to a friend (or for an even better test: one of my mothers-in-law), why make it?  Now, that's not to say I always hit the mark.  Many, many of my projects just don't turn out how I envisioned them.  But that's ok.

I'm working on possibly a new focus for my creative endeavours.  It's still in the contemplation stage. Wish me luck as I try to figure it all out!  Although most of the figuring has to happen after I finish my two current editing projects...work first, play later!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Easy Christmas Memory Making


1. Have a snowflake-cutting party.

Items needed: Coffee filters (I used the smaller ones), scissors, and imagination.  This happened quite spontaneously at my house one day.  My friend was over for tea, with her four kids.  My daughter had spent a previous evening googling snowflake cutting patterns and cutting snowflakes, so I thought she and her BFF would like to cut a few together.  I gave them each a pair of scissors, and taught them how to fold for six points.  Before we knew it, all six kids, were blissfully snipping away around the table.  Making a big mess, but having a great time.  I only had four pairs of scissors, which they all shared, and the two moms were kept busy folding for the littler ones.  We went through half a pack of coffee filters Then we taped them all to our windows.

2. Wake the kids up with Christmas music.

I've been doing this all December.  I pick a station on Songza, turn it up, then go upstairs to wake up the kids.

3. Let them bake.

These pretzel kisses/hugs are so easy, and my kids (aged 7 and 5) did all the work except for getting them in and out of the oven  I also substituted the smarties on some with Skor pieces.  My daughter excitedly said, "Can we make these cookies every year?"

4. Snuggle up by the Christmas tree and read Christmas stories.

I actually haven't done this, my friend did.  Her kids fell asleep by the tree while their Daddy read to them.  What a sweet memory!  I must do this sometime in the next five days before The Day.

I'd love to hear some of your favourite ways to make memories with your kids during the holidays.