Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

G and I have been together for awhile - this will be our twelfth Christmas as a couple. Twelve years of exchanging gifts that have wandered the range between simple, awkward, overboard, sweet, ill-thought out, and perfect. And of course there were different understandings and expectations around the term 'stocking,' and what that might contain.

The past few holidays we've taken different, more creative approaches to our gift-giving. Sometimes homemade or edible (or drinkable) components are required. Last year we adopted a Twelve Days of Christmas strategy - over the twelve days leading up to our leaving for Christmas with my family, we would place a gift under the tree. Most were small silly things, but it was fun to watch them pile up. Twelve Days. Twelve Gifts.

We liked this idea, and have adopted and adapted it again for this year. We came up with a list of twenty-four 'categories' (or 'themes'), and from those twenty-four we selected twelve at random. Gifts we buy this year must reflect these themes.

The inspiration for our gift buying for Christmas 2009 is as follows:

  1. Something we can do together
  2. Something they can do/use outdoors
  3. Something cuddly
  4. Something beginning with the first letter of the person's name
  5. Something that rhymes
  6. Something from the store 'Little Mysteries'
  7. Something reminding us of our childhood Christmases
  8. Something delicious
  9. Something from an art gallery
  10. Something they'd want to display
  11. Something practical
  12. Something they'd want to take to work
Obviously, many of these themes are open to interpretation (something cuddly: do I get him the socks, a bag of cotton balls, or a kitten?), and I'm looking forward to seeing what appears under the tree.

Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time coming up with clever ideas. This could get interesting.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Duvet Cover

I've noticed that my once beautiful white duvet now has a slightly-less-beautiful dinginess to it. This bothered me for quite sometime before I finally decided to do something about it. I thought about washing it - but the thing is HUGE, or at least it seems huge from a washing machine practicality perspective. So I've decided to make a cover for it - which is more work in the short term but less work in the long term, because the cover will be so much easier to wash.

I already had a large stack of appropriately gorgeous material that I'd acquired while still in Toronto:




I just needed a pattern. The first one I found that I liked was from (actually, now I can't find the link - it appears to have disappeared. Curious). It seemed straightforward, and easily adapted to the fabric I wanted to use. I would have to come up with another fastening solution, as I am clueless about buttonholes. I thought I was up to the challenge.

And then I saw this one. I really like the varied fabric sizes they've used, and it's got a tie closure. Unfortunately, I had already cut most of my fabric for the first option, and didn't have enough to start over again (nor did i really want to). So, I'm going with the first design, and have the first five rows of patchwork done:









It's progress, and I'm looking forward to doing some more work on it this weekend. Fingers crossed it turns out ok!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bonsai Maple (update)

All I grew was mold.

The mold did look healthy and it certainly flourished, but it wasn't quite the maple seedling I was hoping for.

Just for reference, because I didn't include it in the original post, this is the picture that I fell in love with:



Hardly a pot full of mold.

I will give it another try, because I love the results so much (so dramatic!). My next attempt, however, will certainly involve a pre-started bonsai.

File this one under Project Fail.

*Image is from Martha Stewart Living, and is certainly not a depiction of my living room

Monday, November 2, 2009

Adventures in Paper Piecing (also an Ode to Pressing)

My mother has been doing paper piecing (or 'foundation piecing') for years, and has developed quite a skill for it. She's done fabulous Christmas wall hangings with bright cardinals, precise star bursts, quilt blocks, and probably a zillion other wonderful things. And she makes it looks very, very easy.

When my mother finally bought herself a new sewing machine, I inherited her old Kenmore. It's a clunky piece of machinery that I have always mistrusted, but I was very excited to have a sewing machine of my own. One of the first things I wanted to try was some paper piecing, as it seemed a fun ticket to instant gratification. My efforts were not as successful as I might have liked:

(I intended to have a photo here, but apparently I kept none of my early piecing work - in theory, a testament to its crappiness)

I tried a few more times with similar results. I quickly got frustrated and moved on to other things.

Since moving and getting my sewing corner set up, I've decided to give the technique another shot - and do it right this time. I spent more time on colour consideration (not my strong point) and set the ironing board up in the most convenient spot for quick and easy access from the sewing machine (or 'directly in G's way'), pledging to press my little heart out.

I've found that it's easy to forget about pressing, or to ignore the ironing board - or to just be plain lazy about it. Pressing after every line of stitches seems far too daunting - surely it doesn't make that much difference? Right? Right?! Turns out, diligent pressing makes an enormous difference. It makes things easier, and turn out so much nicer and cleaner looking - and did I mention easier? Who knew?! Ok, everyone who's ever tried to teach me anything about sewing knew it - but now I believe it!

Also, turns out I like piecing after all, and am not so bad at it as first suspected.





I know, it's not great - but I think it's pretty darn good for my first attempt in awhile, and I'm pleased with it. So pleased, in fact, that I've already moved on to something much more ambitious:




This will be a ship, which will then be turned into a 'ocean view window' for my cubicle. In theory. The piecing went very well, thankyouverymuch, and I am pleased with my colour choices. But the assembly is offering up a whole new set of challenges. But more about that next time.