Friday, 20 December 2013

Last-Minute Merry and Bright

Since I am, of course, always organised and on-the-ball...I didn't have anything for my daughter to take to school to give to her friends at their Christmas party today.  Last year I bought a pack of blank winter-themed note cards and coordinating stickers and let her at it.  This year, I've hardly even thought of it.

So yesterday I doctored up a picture of her using pixlr and Picasa.  And of course forgot to print it last night.  This morning I finally got it done, and she had just enough time to print her name on the back before leaving for school.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Sewing Along...

Well, I'd say my daughter's white dress is coming along nicely!  I'm pretty sure it won't end up in the failure pile!  Left to do:

  • Finish button slit facing
  • Hem
  • Attach button loops
  • Attach buttons
  • Finish armholes

This, along with everything else I have to do this weekend, including a birthday party and two family suppers, seems doable!  Ask me again Monday morning how it all went.

Have the Christmas get-togethers started for you yet?

Thursday, 12 December 2013

I Hate Sewing

I don't like to sew.  Which is funny, because I grew up sewing, and started this blog mostly to have a place to show off my sewing projects.  For years, I honestly believed that I loved to sew.  Until about 6 months ago.  I discovered that, for me, sewing is simply a means to an end.  I never wake up in the morning thinking, "I feel like sewing.  What should I make?"  Which is probably why my machine is in desperate need of a tune-up and a new light bulb, neither of which it will be getting any time soon.

Instead, I begin with vision.  I can see in my mind exactly what I want the project to look like.  And sometimes sewing is the evil necessary to achieve it. This dress, for example.  My daughter needs to dress in all white for her Christmas play at school.  Yes, she has white shirts, and a white skirt, and white tights.  But The skirt is thin cotton, and wouldn't look very snow-people-ish.  Did I mention the play is on Monday?

So I pulled out this thick white upholstery fabric that I found at value village years ago, and a dress of hers that fits to serve as the pattern.  After a few hours of thinking about the exact style I wanted, I started cutting.  I don't know yet whether this will turn out as I envision or end up crumpled in the ever-growing pile of junk-to-be-sorted in what passes for my laundry room.

My dislike of sewing has been a strange realization for me.  Sewing is just what housewives do, according to the ideologies I absorbed during my teen years (along with getting married at 18 and having a dozen babies).  And while I'm knocking down a few of those, I may as well add another: I hate cooking too.

(And despite that fact, I'm seriously considering writing a cookbook)

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A Calm, Cool, and Cozy Master Bedroom

So my room is done.  Well, as done as it's going to get for now.  I love the grey paint on the walls!  Especially since it is not mauve.  With three big windows, the rooms gets a lot of light!  Which is not always a good thing.  It gets hot in there!

I know the picture above the bed is way too husband wouldn't let me hang it any lower.  And I really needed something big on that side of the room to balance the wardrobe side of the room.  Don't mind the wonky blind...That one doesn't keep its strings in place very well, and I need to fix it again.

Things I love about this room:

  • calm, cool grey walls
  • lace curtains that soften the stark rectangles of the windows
  • the wardrobe
  • the white matelasse bedspread and our wedding quilt (folded over so you can only see the back...the blue and yellow front seemed really bright and busy once I added the curtains. Once I'm used to the curtains, I'll unfold it again.  It really is beautiful.)
  • the jewelry holder, made by my father-in-law and painted by me.
  • the sign hand-painted by my childhood best friend (it's a little funny because I've always preferred rain to sun).

Things this room still needs:
  • a real bed frame and headboard.
  • a taller nightstand for my husband's side.  He disagrees and says he likes the one he has.
  • maybe a few throw pillows (also something he would disagree with!) but only if I really love them.
  • a full-length mirror (there's really no good wall space to put it on, and I've had no luck so far getting it to stay on the bathroom door)

My handsome father always looked his best in nature.  I love this picture of him.
PS: So, the story behind that Chicago Blackhawks suncatcher is this:  For Christmas in 2009, my husband's Nan, always eager to support her grandsons' love of hockey, gave him the suncatcher.  He promptly hung it in the window.  I rolled my eyes at it and let him have his fun, intending to take it down in a few days.  It didn't quite mesh with my farmhouse-styled vision of home.  But I forgot.  I'm not kidding when I say that those big south-facing windows get hot!  Even in mid-winter, it can be boiling in there with the blinds open.  So we leave them closed a lot.  And so I forgot about that silly suncatcher for a few months.  By the time I remembered it again, Chicago was actually winning!  I decided I didn't want to jinx the team, so I figured I'd take down the suncatcher when they started losing.  Then, miracle of miracles, they actually won the Stanley Cup after 41 years!  That summer, when we had the air conditioner in that window (so the blinds were permanently half-opened and didn't get touched for about 4 months), I forgot again.  Every time I think about taking that thing down, Chicago has another winning streak.  It's crazy how superstitious a good Christian girl who doesn't believe in luck can be.

The Shabby Nest

Monday, 25 November 2013

Lace Curtains

I was at Ikea and called my husband at work.  "Would you be annoyed if I bought lace curtains for our bedroom?" I asked him.  He didn't care about the lace, but instead asked about the price.  He even helped me put up the curtain rods to hang them.  At first I thought they looked too feminine, especially next to the rather masculine roman blinds.  But I think it was just that I needed to get used to having any curtains, since it's been so long.  I think the room is pretty well balanced between masculine and feminine.  I've now taken pictures of the whole room, so I'll post those sometime in the next few days.

Linked: Feathered Nest Friday

Thursday, 21 November 2013

What are you NOT doing for Christmas?

The Nester posted her annual Do LESS for Christmas / Dayspring giveaway post.  People tend to do way too much for the holidays and end up so stressed out they can't enjoy anything.  So do fewer things better.  Learn to say no to extra things so that you can say yes to family and faith and friends and the Christmas spirit.

My Not List (not to be confused with a Naughty List):

  • Not sending Christmas cards
  • Not making cute/fancy gift tags that no one appreciates anyway. A sharpie will do.  Or maybe a pack of Avery labels and a snowflake stamp (plus the sharpie).
  • Not stressing, in spite of:
  • Not seriously starting shopping or other Christmas stuff until my November 30 editing deadline passes. (although I’m sure cyber Monday will be the real kick off for me.)
  • Not doing a ton of baking.

What are you not doing this year?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Accents and Self-Acceptance

Thanks to the SNL skit about Rob Ford, I've come across a couple of articles about the Canadian accent, of course staunchly declaring that we never say "aboot."  I don't care about that (although the only Canadians I've ever heard using anything close to that pronunciation are my Scottish-born grandparents, and I grew up calling a lazy susan a "roonaboot").  But I have had a post about accents lurking in the back of my mind for a while.

When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to have an accent.  My family went to Australia for two months when I was ten years old, and within two weeks, I had picked up what I thought was an authentic Australian accent (I'm sure it wasn't).  I've always kind of picked up some traits of whatever accent surrounds me (I still say "Tin-ih-see" instead of "Tennessee" after a week spent in Knoxville).

But for everyday life, I was desperate to have some kind of accent.  British, preferably, but I would have settled for Southern or something too.  My problem was that I can't fake an accent to save my life.  I have to be immersed in it in order to pick it up.

Fast forward twenty years.  Of course I don't care about accents anymore, other than noting the beauty of the way people from different areas speak.  I live in the city, but I was raised in a much smaller community for most of my childhood.  And I recently realised that I do have a slight accent, compared to my city-raised friends, or at least my ideal of how English should be pronounced.  You could call it "country" or "wrong-side-of-the-tracks" or something like that.  Specifically, I pronounce "for" and "your" as "fer" and "yer" when I'm not paying attention.  "Our" is pronounced  as the one-syllable "are", much to my Eastern-raised husband's annoyance.  I'm sure there are other things I don't pronounce strictly as they should be.  My grandparents, who lived across the street from us, had a noticeably "Canadian" accent, so I'm sure mine draws from that, as well as many other sources.

This used to embarrass me, and I still try to correct myself when I remember.  I'm usually quite precise in my speech, so I was shocked when I noticed my less-than-precise pronunciations.  But I've decided to embrace this side of myself.  There is nothing wrong with a country dialect.  And I tell myself it makes me more interesting.

Friday, 15 November 2013

I Need a Haven

In spite of the fact that every morning the first thought on my mind when I wake up is an excited, "Christmas!", I haven't been my usual cheerful pre-holiday self.  I seem to have two halves lately.  I can be excited over fresh-fallen snow, and the lights of our Christmas tree (yes, it's up already.  Husband's idea, not mine), and the warmth of a cup of tea in my cold hands, but at the same time I have this underlying crankiness that colours my whole day.

On Tuesday, I did many things that I enjoyed: moms group, chatting with a friend, visiting my mom for her birthday, shopping with a very well-behaved 4-year-old...  Yet at the end of the day, I still felt flustered and unfulfilled and nearly burned supper.  At the time I attributed it to not having any alone/relaxing time that day, but I've had other days spent entirely alone that leave me feeling just as rough.

Our bedroom makeover is pretty much finished.  At least as finished as it is going to get (I want a real bed).  And I don't love it.  I like it just fine, and it's miles better than it was.  I absolutely love the wall colour.  But it doesn't feel like a haven.  And I think that's one of the things I so desperately need right now (that, and 20 fewer lbs so I can stop feeling so physically blah too).

Do you have a haven in our house?  In our townhouse, my haven was the living room.  It had an ugly fireplace (but a gorgeous mantel), worn carpet, ugly mini-blinds, only one not very pretty couch, and my massive, broken, antique piano.  But I loved it.  The couch was comfortable, the windows looked out to our tiny shady private back yard, and it was separate from the rest of the house.

My haven in our townhouse.  I have yet to figure out how to create one in this house.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Don't Judge a Neutral

Guess what?  My walls are NOT mauve!  I think it was just a trick of the light while the existing yellow paint was still in the room.  The yellow must have been accentuating whatever there was of its complementary colour in the paint.  As soon as the first coat was complete, covering all the yellow, any purpley tones disappeared.  Whew!  So my lesson is to never judge a neutral beside anything but white.

I'm so excited to finish this room!  I have not decorated my own bedroom since I was thirteen years old (and that was complete with a horse-themed wallpaper border, stenciled leaves, and floral bed-in-a-bag sets from Sears).

But before then, my husband has requested that I also paint the walk-in-closet.  I haven't been painting closets in this house, but because we moved one of the wire racks, and added a second, there are quite a few big screw/drywall anchor holes in the walls.

So I've cleared out the closet.  I'm not sure my husband realised exactly how much clothing he had in there.  I have one 18-inch wide section for my dressy clothes, and he has two 4-foot wide racks for his (granted, he hangs almost everything, and I have almost all of the storage space in the wardrobe).  Painting or not, it was high time to give that closet a thorough spring cleaning.

So I'm hoping he'll take charge of supper tonight, so I don't have to clean up until  I'm done.  Now I just need to figure out how to get the wire shelves off the wall so I don't have to contort around them to paint.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Yellow vs. Grey vs. Mauve

So I'm not exactly happy with the colour I chose for our bedroom. I'm not sure whether it's just the shade (Gray Ghost), or the light in the room, or the fact that the paint guy convinced me to use a Valspar paint instead of Olympic (I know better! I should not have listened to him!). The colour, instead of a neutral grey, looks distinctly mauve. Purple undertones are NOT what I was going for! I would have happily accepted blue or green or brown tones.

My husband doesn't see a problem, except that it's more brown than he was expecting (after he declined to offer an opinion on the paint cards I brought home), but my daughter right away said, "It's kind of violet."  I guess it's true that men can't distinguish the colour mauve.

Oh well. It's not a big enough difference to motivate me to get new paint. It will look lovely. I painted one corner, where the wardrobe goes, yesterday, and last night as I was getting ready for bed, it just looked so calm and inviting. Making the remaining yellow walls in the room look frantic by comparison.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Mudroom Update

November 2013

We got our first big snowfall this weekend, and as I was doing the final seasonal switch in the back entry, I realized that I have never shared any lived-in pictures of our mudroom.  It has been two years now, and I am so glad we built it (and so glad my husband was in charge of the structural engineering.  My design would not have worked.)

If I were to do it over again, I'd probably remove the shelves in the shoe section, and just use baskets instead.  That said, my kids are now at appropriate ages to be responsible for putting their own shoes away each time.  But over the past two years, the back entry could get a little chaotic with an explosion of shoes and stuff.

Sepbember 2011
The white paint is not so fresh, and quite a bit banged up.  But that's to be expected in a house with a 4-year-old tornado.  I'm due to spend an afternoon with a Magic Eraser, and then it will look much better.  All the wood does need a fresh coat or two of paint, and some kind of poly or something to help protect it.  But that can wait.  This week I finally started painting our bedroom.

It was surprisingly hard to find bins that would work.  I bought and returned several over the course of a few months.  Finally I found these grey ones at Walmart, which are perfect for holding gloves and hats and sunglasses and soccer socks and baseball gloves, etc.  There is usually also an imperfecly-proportioned wicker basket on the top shelf, to hold less-frequently-used items.  I guess I hadn't finished putting winter stuff in it when I decided to take these pictures.

What do you love or hate about your current entry way, mudroom, whatever you have?  I'm always gleaning ideas to implement in my pie-in-the-sky custom-built dream house.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pumpkins

I wanted an excuse to make a cape.  So I casually suggested to my daughter that she should be Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween.  Lucky for me, she loved the idea!  No luck convincing my son to be the wolf.  He's Spiderman instead.  I wanted to use wool for the cape, but at $25 per metre, that wasn't going to happen.  So I used "tablecloth" fabric.  With the cape lined, it has a good enough weight, and looks nice.  I really just didn't want to use cotton broadcloth.  That would look too costume-like.  Good costumes should look and wear like clothing.  It's a full-circle cape, and I just free-handed the shape of the hood, using her coat's hood for the size.

I didn't have enough of the red to line the whole thing, so I just used the last of the red to line the hood and the front opening, and used some spare quilting cotton to line the rest.  My daughter desperately wanted to help, so I taught her how to sew the button on.  The knitted dress was a hand-me-down from a friend of German heritage.  I thought it would work nicely with the cape for a fairy-tale look.  Ideally, she should be wearing tights and mary-janes, but I didn't want to send her to school in white tights.  She did insist on wearing the shoes to school though.

We spent a bit of Saturday afternoon carving pumpkins.  The kids drew faces on theirs with a dry-erase marker and I carved them, with a bit of interpretive artistic license.  It's a pity they're soft and dried-out looking already on the front porch.  But then they only need to last the evening.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Knitting for a Baby

As the weather turns cooler, I've picked up my knitting again.  My friend had a sweet baby a few weeks ago, which coincided perfectly with the itch to knit again!  I made another pixie hat, this time in 0-6ish months size.  There are a few things I would change next time I make this size, but overall, it turned out adorably.

I had half a skein of yarn left after making the hat, so I tried to make baby booties.  After two failures with that, I then attempted leggings but quickly abandoned that too.  So then I decided to make something that didn't require a same-size pair.  I made a little owl.  It is far from perfect, but still pretty cute.

To get a size estimate, since I don't have a real live baby of my own, I had to try it on David, my new-born-size porcelain doll that I've had since I was 12 years old.  Most of the time he lives on the top shelf of my closet in a cardboard fruit box.  Eventually he will go live in my daughter's room.

It looks so much better on the real live baby.  C is so adorable!

photo by baby C's mama

photo by baby C's mama

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Classic Children's Books

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend whose eldest, a boy, was about to turn eight years old.  He is a voracious reader, and my friend wondered what books would keep him busy.

I was that kind of reader, so I happily recounted my favourite books from childhood that I thought he might be interested in: several series by Sigmund Brouwer, Bill Meyer's Wally McDoogall books, and then I got into the classics.

Classic kids' books are beautiful.  The language and rhythm are unlike any modern book.  Over the past few years, I've begun collecting vintage editions of these books.  So I pulled a few from my shelves.

I'd have to say the top two I'd recommend are Swallows and Amazons, and The Swiss Family Robinson.  Both books are about adventure and family.  I didn't include books by L.M.Montgomery this time.  They deserve a separate post.

What are your favourite classic children's books?