Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Crafting with Cocktails : Cautionary Tale #1

Here begins a series of cautionary tales about crafting under the influence. 

I can assure you all that I've done my fair share of research (experiments, variables, blah blah blah) on this topic in the hopes that you might find these posts helpful lessons in what not to do.

Two well known facts about yourstruly: I love embroidery, and I love the occasional booze beverage. Oftentimes these two loves combine very, very well - especially when attempting to lose myself in stitching while ignoring the blaring sports broadcast on the television. Unfortunately sports matches often go into overtime, for which an extra drink or two is required.

And before you know it, you have this:

Oh beer, you are wonderful with many things. Except all over my embroidery.

An almost beautiful embroidered pillowcase masterpiece. I spent A LOT of time on this pillowcase (I'll show you the other side at the end of the post) and managed to spill beer all over the thing. Ugh. Here's a closer view of this disappointment, made extra harsh to really emphasize how made I was:

ZOOM IN AND ENHANCE the awfulness

There may have been tears at the time. It was awhile ago, so I can't say for sure. I imagine tears.


Luckily it was not ruined forever - most of it came off in the wash! But don't think that lessens the emotions of the moment, or the importance of this lesson.

 Anyway, here's the other (prettier, less beery) side of the pillow:


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ice Cream and Fame : In Which I am Supremely Awesome

I love ice cream. You love ice cream (I assume you love ice cream because if you don't you are probably some sort of demon or Nazi, and I doubt they read craft blogs. Maybe I'm wrong). People also love fame, I'm told -- so I am about to make you very jealous.

I am 'Ice Cream Famous'. Please see the evidence below:

This post could alternatively be titled Holy Crap I Got Weirdly Ridiculously Tanned This Summer

Two years ago I entered a contest to name one of Farmer's Dairy's 'East Coast Creamery' Products. I didn't win first place - but I did get some cash monies out of the deal and they eventually decided to make my entry into delicious creamy reality.  

This summer saw the debut of Privateer's Bounty at scooping stations around the Maritimes - and I hereby proclaim it a delicious success!  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Show & Tell: Kraken vs Ship

Here's the latest piece of embroidery that I actually finished - a pillowcase embroidered with one of  SewLovely's Deep Blue Sea embroidery transfers.

Lately I've been a big sucker for all things nautical, and so was super excited to receive the transfers in the mail (I also got the Flappers and Forest Friends ones. So. Cute.) The only problem was choosing which design to go for first.

Well OK, not the only problem. I had multiple 'hiccups' with this project - from basic issues like colour and stitch choices, to completely misreading the design at one point. And it took me a really, really long time (but that's mostly my fault). Oy.

But I like the way it ultimately turned out:

I have a matching blank pillowcase and am thinking of doing one of the other designs so I have a sort-of-matching set. The futon in my spare room is going to look GREAT.

This ship never really had much of a chance, did it?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Show & Tell : Dapper Flapper

I actually finished this little lady quite some time ago, and just haven't gotten around to posting anything (please see I Suck at Blogging). She's from a great set of Sew Lovely patterns I got awhile ago.

She was great fun to bring to life, and I got to play with a good range of different stitches - predominantly split, back and satin stitches with some french knots thrown in for fun. I'm pleased with most of the colour choices, which is unusual for me (I'll pick it apart a little in a future post, don't you worry). I stitched the pattern onto a scrap of white fabric that I had kicking around after a previous embroidery project, and am at a bit of a loss as to what to do with it. 

So here's a question for you, Internet : It seems like a shame to dress this gal up just to leave her in my abandoned projects pile (especially since it's getting alarmingly large). I know I'm not the only one that stitches on every little scrap she can find. What do you do with these beautified scrappy bits? Frame them? Incorporate them into other projects? Let them pile up beside your couch as you move onto the next one *ahem*?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Eat Your Vegetables (or, Heather vs the Eggplant)

I eat a lot of vegetables. Vegetables are my favourite, followed closely by dairy (the fattier the better) and grains (the grainier the better), so it's not the amount of vegetables that's the problem - it's the variety. When G and I go grocery shopping, our produce basket always looks the same: peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, apples, and if they look good asparagus or greens (usually spinach, broccoli or occasionally swiss chard. Lettuce and a much wider fruit variety in the summer).

This is partially to do with the fact that this is what we ate growing up, and partially because this is what is on offer at our local grocery store. Now I regret not taking more advantage of the leafy bounty that was available to me in Toronto. Nova Scotia doesn't seem to demand the same variety, even in the urban centers. We're still a pretty meat-'n-potatoes lot, though things are slowly improving as growing immigrant communities and local-focused diets are catered to. Interesting new produce and spices are becoming staples (my parents have discovered curries) in many homes. I have high hopes.

Lately, I have tried to amp up the variety in the vegetables that we eat. I've been buying squash and sweet potatoes, which I know isn't a big deal to some of you people. I, however, have never had much love for either of these time-honoured orange staple foods. I found them overly sweet and inappropriate for the dinner table (there I said it).  This was not helped by the fact that my family always added ample brown sugar to squash dishes, which was gross. Not even my ubiquitous enormous pile of olives could combat that sweetness. And then one day this wonderful gem of wisdom was passed on to me: you don't have to add sugar to sweet vegetables. In FACT you can add things I love like salt and curry powder and cumin and cayenne and . . . . . my life was changed.

I bought kale and made a lovely (and SUPER garlicky) Garlic Mushrooms and Kale from Moskowitz' fabulous Appetite for Reduction. It was only my second attempt at preparing kale, and the first had pretty much been a disaster (so proclaimed by G). So this was good - another vegetable admitted into our rotation. Progress!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I suck at blogging

You know it's true. Just look at my poor track record.

There are many reasons/excuses for this - though most of them boil down to sheer and simple laziness on my part. Also my fickleness. I start a lot of projects, and have great ideas for projects (at least I think they're great) but either lose interest or get distracted by the next "great" project idea. I have a pile of discarded or otherwise incomplete projects in my craft room. You've probably seen an older picture of it. It's grown, I assure you.

Occasionally I actually finish something. Please meet Mr. Fox.

He's quite handsome, isn't he? Plenty of character and he makes a great book guardian! Wouldn't his creation have made a fun blog post? Yes! But of course I forgot to take pictures until he was finished - and this was a months-long saga of a project once you factor in the fact that I could not find a doll needle anywhere in Halifax and that my sewing machine died (more on that in another post ha ha ha). Once I realized how close I had come to having something fun to blog about, I debated staging some photos of the fabric, the pattern sheets, etc. I didn't. Ultimately I decided that I didn't want to set a precedent for cheating, because you know once I went down that path I would be staging all sorts of things. Probably making up entire projects, even. At least I would get more blog posts done!

Anyway, here's one more picture of Mr. Fox in his completed glory. 

If you want to make your own Semi-Fantastic Mr. Fox, you can acquire the pattern from the Bird and Little Bird Etsy shop. He wasn't difficult to make, once I had all the supplies.

 Also, apparently these photos turned out all cruddy? Apologies for that.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vic Lit Throwdown

It's on, Internet.  

Have you heard of this Victorian Literature Challenge? I hadn't either, until Inspired by Hope tipped me off. If you know me, you know I love me some Victorian literature (and Regency and Elizabethan, etc). The Challenge is to promise to read a certain amount of books from the Victorian era and complete your list by the end of the year. There are categories to choose from, depending on your anticipated reading output.

Since of course I now have to read more books than my pal IbH, I have chosen the Great Expectations category, which requires me to read 5-9 works from the time period. I have chosen the following:

  1. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I've already started, but only just. It still counts.
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Alcott keeps coming up in trivia questions, and I never answer correctly.
  3. Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne. A short story, but it still counts.
  4. Ages Grey by Anne Bronte. I loved Tenant of Wildfell Hall, so presume I will also love this.
  5. Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde. This has actually been on my bookshelf (and to-read list) for quite some time.
  6. Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. I've never read any Sherlocke Holmes, and now that I'll picture him as Robert Downey Jr, I should enjoy it all the more.
I was thinking of adding Jane Austen's letters (even though I realize that they are not Victorian), but I think the above will keep me busy enough. Here are the books, sans the Baskervilles, as it hasn't arrived yet (the Hawthorne is in my one of my old English anthologies):

Let the games begin!

Monday, January 24, 2011

I do declare!

G and I regularly make grand declarations about our even grander intentions – mostly about how we’re going to be better people. Who doesn't want to be a better person? Our declarations are usually on the level of "We'll eat salad four times a week!" or "We'll only play video games for two hours this weekend!" or "We'll read one book a month" or "We'll do the Wii Active Program all the way through to the end!" You get the idea. None of these things ever happen.

It's not that I don't really want to do these things, exactly. I love eating salad, but for some reason I hate making salad. It may be because lettuce tends to be a pain in the ass or, more accurately, because G and I are – separately – very lazy people. Together we are enablers on the level of Brendan and Jason in Home Movies. 

We know when we do bad, and we have honest-to-goodness intentions to do better. We feel good about our declarations even when they don’t stick, and the occasional small victory means these declarations get bigger and more ambitious. For example, we’ve taken to making grand declarations about the entire upcoming year, sort of in the style of the Year of the Rat or Year of the Child – except better because it relates directly to us and not to rats or children.

Cue the twilight of 2008. We were in a rut. Neither of us had ideal job situations – G actively disliked his (warranted) and while I loved my job, it was contract-to-contract and unreliable. We were overpaying for our apartment and had an unpredictable, hobo-mobilizing Irish tornado for a landlord. There was an overall stagnancy to our lives, and so in a fit of desperate ambition we declared 2009 the Year of Change.

The Year of Change panned out. Near the beginning of the year I was offered an exciting new job – a job that involved moving to a new province. The move from Toronto to Halifax got the change ball rolling and set the tone for the rest of the year. I had my new job, and G quickly found work where he was infinitely more happy than at his last job. We had two great new apartments (with only minor landlord complaints), slowly met new friends and got to know our new home city. We acquired a old pink trailer as a ‘summer home’ in New Brunswick. So much change.

Riding on the success of the Year of Change, we declared 2010 the Year of Health. We’d ‘let ourselves go’ over the previous few years, to put it mildly, and this was going to be rectified in 2010. Yessir. The Year of Health was meant to encompass a number of things: we were going to find doctors (I don’t go to the doctor), we were going to find dentists (I don’t go to the dentist), we were going to exercise ‘more’, we were going to eat better and drink less, we were going to leave the house more often (very ambitious, I know)! Everything would be GREAT! Unfortunately, other than a few quickly derailed exercise campaigns and my finally finding a doctor in the dying days of the year, the Year of Health did not pan out.  

But it was by no means a complete waste of a year. Instead of the Year of Health, 2010 became an extension of the Year of Change (officially declared a few months in, after a dismal showing out of the gate). We bought a house. We got married (more on that in another post). These things trumped former declarations.

As a result, I have taken to thinking of 2010 as the Year of Settling - and I mean that with both good and bad connotations of 'settling'. We spent a good chunk of the year settling into the new house and neighborhood, and settling into married life. Unfortunately it also meant settling into familiar ruts and habits, only transferred to a new location.  

It was abundantly clear that we needed more from 2011 - more growth, more ambition, more finishing projects, more sticking to the plan, more being grown-ups, more leaving the house. Just more. In this vein we have declared 2011 the Year of Getting Shit Done (or the Year of GSD in classy company).  We will fight laziness, we will gently thwart the enabling nature of our relationship, we will finish those projects, we will be social beings, we will leave the house. We will Get Shit Done.