Sunday, February 28, 2010

Little Boxes

I have been watching too many episodes of Weeds online lately while marking and sewing - and the theme song is that old folk favourite, "Little Boxes".

Anyway... something must have stuck in my subconscious because I made my own little boxes. It's a good thing I came up with some idea to use all these:

I'm a little addicted to this cheese.

So, this is what we're going to do with these little boxes:

Step One - Measure the diameter of the box and add 3/8" all around (this will be the diameter plus the side that needs to be covered).

Step Two - Cut two circles from scrapbook or wrapping paper. Luckily for me, my Creative Memories circle cutter set had one the perfect size, so that was easy!

Step Three -  Apply glue (Mod Podge works well) to the bottom of one of the pieces. I used a flat paintbrush to do this.

Step Four - Set the gluey bottom right in the middle of one of the wrong sides of the paper circles. Then use a pair of scissors to cut slits in the paper from the edge to the box about 3/8" apart all the way around. I know this is a terrible picture, but I hope you get the idea.

Step Five - Using that same flat paintbrush and more glue, press down all the little paper tabs, overlapping as you go. Lots of glue will seal them.

Step Six - Brush glue all over the paper and set aside to dry. Repeat with the other side of the box.

When you're done, you should have a cute little box that can be used for gift cards, jewelry, or other small gifts.

You can also glue ribbon around the edge if you don't like the white strip showing (just be careful not to glue the two halves of the box together!) like on this one that I made for Kaye when she won my giveaway last month.

If you've got any cheese boxes just lying around, why not give this a try. Let me know how it turns out.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Today, I focused

I try to revisit my "word of the year" every once in a while. My word for 2010 was "Focus", something that is very hard for me to do most of the time. There seems to be too much going on for me to give my full, undivided attention to any one thing for any length of time.

But today I focused.

Yesterday and today were Teachers' Convention days. I went to sessions yesterday and met friends for lunch. I went to sessions this morning, then skipped lunch and went to the Art Gallery for the afternoon. There was a free tour for teachers, but we were also encouraged to stay after and enjoy the gallery, which I did.

It's a brand new building that just opened on January 31, and it's caused somewhat of a controversy in this city.

I love it! I thought it was a bit strange looking when I saw the architect's proposals before construction began, but my visit today made me a convert.

I freely admit that I'm a wannabe, a dilettante. I know a little about art - I took some art history courses in university and I have a degree in Medieval and Renaissance history, which included the study of quite a bit of (mostly religious) art - but I'm no expert.

And I was enthralled by the audio installation of The Murder of Crows (until some noisy kids came in - who talks in an audio installation? who?).

I sat in that dark room for half an hour, listening. I felt what I was feeling and though what I was thinking and focused on just being there.

It was amazing.

I will go back. I might even buy a membership - unlimited visits for a year. (The OnlyChild has one.)

And when I was done at the Art Gallery, I went shopping. I spent a store credit I had been hanging onto for months and used it for two cute spring tops. And then I went next door to another store where all sale items were another 50% off and I bought two tops and a pair of dress pants for $18.36.

Good day!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Everywhere I look

... I see another cute little project or challenge that I want to do.

This time, it's Pat Sloan's 2010 Black and White in Paris Challenge.

Black and White. In Paris. How could I resist?

So, I signed up and Pat sent me this in the mail:

How cute is that? The polka dots. The yellow. Those buttons and ric-rac. And that postcard for inspiration. (That in itself was enough to make me jump at this.)

The challenge is, using the items above (except the postcard), to create a 30"-40" square quilt. I get to design my own using any method I like, but it must be inspired by Paris and it must use the items in the kit.

Quilts finished and posted by April 15 will be entered in a contest.

I think I'll make this for my friend, Sandi, who is also my travel partner. Her birthday is April 22 - wouldn't this make a nice gift?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An hour or so...

... and I finished the Tisket a Tasket quilt top!

So now I have two tops to quilt...

Monday, February 22, 2010

No one wants advice - only corroboration.

John Steinbeck might have been right when he wrote that line in The Winter of our Discontent. But, me... well, I really did want your advice. And so I asked. And so you gave it. Thank you!

And then I went ahead and did whatever I wanted to anyway. As usual.

Maybe I should have gone with the Red Paisley.

I could have used the Love Notes Scroll - I would have had enough after all.

Instead, I dug through my stash and pulled out this tiny red-on-white polka dot to use for the sashing posts.

I think it's just fine, and it looks nice next to the Red Checks and the Love Notes Scroll (which I started adding last night until I got distracted by a present that needed to be wrapped and a new episode of Big Love).

At least now I can move ahead with this quilt top and get it finished sometime soon.

Getting it quilted... well, that's another story altogether. I haven't even pin-basted my Checkerboard quilt top yet because, as it turns out, I don't have enough fabric for the backing. I want something plain and simple - and I don't want to have to piece it this time. I guess I should have got out of my pajamas and gone to the fabric store yesterday after all.

It's after 8:00 pm now and I've yet to get the last borders on A Tisket A Tasket. That's not to say it's been another wasted night - I got creative in the kitchen tonight instead of the sewing room. Hey, it happens... sometimes. I made this for supper. Oh yum! I halved the recipe since we're a small family, but next time I'll make a big batch and freeze some. No photo from my oven; we ate it right up.

Oh... maybe just an hour on the sewing machine before bedtime...


Jandi just moved her blog to Blogspot and is having a giveaway to celebrate. Go over and say "hi!"

I'm sneakily reading blogs and posting this while at work, so I can't talk now. But I'll be back later. I want to show you the progress on my Tisket a Tasket...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

I received my package of RED fabric from the Fat Quarter Shop on Friday. "Ne touche pas," I told myself. I wanted to finish the Checkerboard quilt top before I got distracted by another project - in this case, finishing the Tisket a Tasket quilt top. And I didn't actually take the fabric out of the bag until yesterday, although I did gaze longingly at it through the plastic.

Yesterday was a day of no sewing - there was some cleaning, some grocery shopping and even a bit of fighting conversing going on, but no sewing. I cut a few sashing strips from the Red Checks fabric, but not much else.

Since I can't do any more on the Checkerboard quilt until I have it pin-basted, a job I have to do at school because I have no floor space that isn't hardwood here at home, I decided to work on A Tisket a Tasket this afternoon.

Screeeeeech... that's me coming to a halt after sewing on some sashing strips.


I just can't make up my mind what to use for the "posts". Have a look.

Here are the rows of blocks with the Red Checks sashing in between:

I set up a few scenarios to help me decide.

When I ordered my fabric, I intended to use the Red Paisley for the outer border and the posts. Now I'm not so sure... Although I like it, I'm worried that there isn't enough contrast between the sashing and the posts.

I could use this pink polka dot fabric. I have included a little bit of it in each of the blocks.

Or... there is the Love Notes Red Scroll. I like the look of this the best; the only problem is, if I use this I will have to buy another fabric for the inside border (which would mean another decision) because 1) I didn't buy enough to do both, and 2) the posts and the inside border are next to each other in places.

What to do? What to do?

If I didn't have to stop and make (or remake) decisions, I would have this done already... okay, maybe not, but there would be a better chance of it getting done soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Checkerboard Quilt Top - Finished!

During last night's Friday Night Sew-in, I finished my Checkerboard quilt top.

I can't say I'm loving the green borders. I love the fabric, but I wish I'd buried it in the quilt and used the large turquoise print fabric for the outer border. Oh well. Can't do anything about it now.

The big task ahead, of course, is to decide how to quilt this baby. I have no idea what to do with it. After making the OnlyChild's friend's quilt for Christmas, I said the next one I did would be straight line quilting. But with all the straight lines in this quilt already, I'm second-guessing that decision.

Any suggestions?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Are you ready for the Friday Night Sew-In?

It's time for the Friday Night Sew-in.

What are you working on tonight?


Update Update

6:50 pm - Checkerboard quilt blocks all sewn together:

Update Update

10:40 pm - quilt top finished! Yeah, it took me all night, but I did break for supper and I'm a slow pinner. Here it is:

Okay, then, I'm going to bed now. I can't do the all-night thing; I'm just not feeling that great. I hope you all had a swell time at the Friday Night Sew-in. Can't wait to see everyone's projects!

Night night.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ho. Hum.

I just can't seem to motivate myself to do anything tonight. My Italian lesson was cancelled, Mr. P is watching t.v. (as usual), the OnlyChild was out with a friend, and I have no marking (yes!) so I had the whole evening to devote to whatever I wanted.

Ho. Hum. Just couldn't do anything.

I stalked blogs, but didn't leave comments. (Sorry - I did visit, but I couldn't think of anything witty to say.)

I moved fabric from the chair to the ironing board.

I stared at my Checkerboard quilt pieces.

I considered making another house block.

Nope - no inspiration. I feel as though I've wasted the entire evening. I will never get back this bonus time. When I am crazy busy with work, French lessons, Italian lessons, another master's course, and all that other stuff, I will think back to the evening of February 17 and think, "Why?"

Or maybe not...

I don't know... is it okay to waste a night? It feels so wrong...


About the two houses in my last post:

They are both on Ada Boulevard which is about 2 blocks south of where I live. The top one is the Holgate Mansion, built in 1912. It was for sale about the same time we bought our house (4 years ago) and was listed at $1.25 million. It is gorgeous inside and out! If I had my pick (which I don't), this would be the one for me.

The house in the bottom photo is called the Magrath Mansion and it was also built in 1912. The current owners bought the house in the 1990s for $750,000. They open it up about twice a year to visitors. I keep meaning to have a snoop, but haven't gone yet.

As business partners, Bidwell Holgate and William Magrath developed the neighbourhood in which I live. In the early 1900s, they bought and built upon 23 lots. None of those houses are as extravagant as the two mansions. We thought our house was built in 1909, but the OnlyChild and I visited the city archives and the records there show that it was probably not built until 1914. We're a bit disappointed that we don't actually live in a "one-hundred year old house" as we've thought all along. On the upside, we didn't miss the house's centennial so we can still plan a party for 2014 (which seems a looong way off).

So, there you have it... I don't live in either of those beauties. I live here:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Alas! No quilt top

I had hoped to get the Checkerboard quilt top put together this weekend... but it didn't happen.

Between the shopping

And the movie-going

And the house block-making

And the dog-walking (yesterday was a gorgeous day!)

And the taxi-driving

And a bit of cleaning and laundry,

I got this far by yesterday afternoon:

Then my friend Patt invited me to go and see a concert with her. How could I refuse? It was a great night out... and I feel a tiny bit rebellious since it was a school night.

Tonight, when I got home from work and the gym, I sewed the above pieces together into rows. And now I'm sewing the rows together. I don't know how much more time I'll have this week, but there's a Friday night sew-in this weekend so I should be able to make some more progress then.

Have you heard about the Friday Night Sew-in? Check it out!

I didn't do the January one, because I didn't know about it until Jen told me. It sounds like fun - and it sounds motivating. What could be better than comfy jammies, good music and my sewing machine on a Friday night?

Uh... don't answer that.

Anyway, I have about 1/2 an hour until bedtime, so I'm going back to Bernice and my Checkerboard. I want to leave you with a couple of photos that I took yesterday. Can you guess which one of these is my house?


Monday, February 15, 2010

Goin' Plain Jane

I'm trying out the Plain Jane look on my blog. No cutesy background. What do you think?

I tend to get bored with things easily, so we'll see.

You heard about my Checkerboard quilt woes. I did get all the blocks sewn back together the right way. They're all laid out on the floor of the spare bedroom, waiting to become an actual quilt top. I didn't touch that quilt yesterday... instead, I made these:

They are all for Victoria's Basics Home Gather. If you want more information, you can visit her blog, Bumble Beans. It's a neat project - and for a good cause. The little houses were easy to make, using V's great directions, and - BONUS! - I got to use up some scraps.

So far, it's been a pretty good weekend. Saturday, I spent half the day with my friend, Anne, hat shopping, going to the farmer's market, having coffee and buying books with the Chapters gift card I got for my birthday.

The OnlyChild said I didn't buy anything fun. Methinks she is wrong, wrong, wrong! I love Kristin Espinasse's blog French Word a Day, so I had to buy her book; I need a good phrase book for my trip to Italy in July (it came with a CD); and I've been wanting to read Suite Française for a couple of years now. So, I'm very very happy with my purchases!

Yesterday, I went to see the movie The Young Victoria. I would see this movie again just to drool over the costumes. Wow! The movie itself was good, but the ending was a bit anti-climactic - sort of a "what? it's over?" kind of thing. But, hey, it was good to get out of the house for a couple of hours and hang out at the trendy old cinema on Whyte Avenue.

And today...well, today I absolutely must get some marking done (there's not much to do) and I really want to get back to that Checkerboard quilt. I'll let you know how it goes...

Happy Holiday Monday (whatever your holiday may be today). Aren't long weekends the best?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

♥♥ Happy Valentine's Day ♥♥

Our February ATC theme was "Vintage Valentine". I haven't received cards from all my swap group members yet, but I think I can safely show you the ones I made for them. I mailed them early enough that everyone should have received them by now.

This month, I made a different card for each person. Here are all five cards together.

And here are close-ups of the cards.

I always enjoy making these little tiny cards and this month was no exception. As soon as I heard the theme, I knew I would be using pink, doilies and ribbon.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Arrrggghhh... Grrrr!

So, I'm sewing along, finishing the last of the blocks for my Checkerboard quilt, and I'm making good time. I'm just cruising!

I finish sewing, take them to the ironing board and press all the seams nicely.

Then I start to lay out the blocks according to the directions in the pattern.

And guess what...?

Arrrggghhh! I've sewn the second set of blocks together wrong. So the rest of this lovely Saturday evening will be spent picking out stitches.

Oh what fun!

I did get these made, though. Valentine's pillowcases for the OnlyChild.

I started them last night after I got home from my hair appointment, which was pretty late. Then, of course, I made a mistake and had some unpickin' to do. What the heck is wrong with me? Anyway, I gave up around 11:00 pm and went to bed. The finishing went smoothly this afternoon.

Back to those quilt blocks. Grrrr.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Num num

Tonight, instead of going to my dance class, I made these...

Valentine's cupcakes for my students.


I didn't want to miss dance class. I really wanted to go; it's the highlight of my week and I rarely miss it. But I have a sore foot. I've self-diagnosed this problem as plantar fasciitis, but I could be wrong. I probably am wrong, because the pain is on the ball of my foot, rather than the heel, and radiates into the toes. It is so tender that I find it hard to walk... so dancing was out for tonight.

This has been kind of a blah week over all. I haven't felt like doing much, except moping around the house. You know... one of those weeks. Ho Hum. There has been no further progress on the Checkerboard quilt. I've only been to the gym once (stupid sore foot). I've been feeling a bit lethargic.

On the upside, this is a long weekend. I know the U.S. has President's Day on Monday. Here in Alberta, we have Family Day. I'm looking forward to the extra time and I plan (fingers crossed) to spend it in my sewing room working on my quilt and making a couple of house blocks for the Basics Home Gather over at Bumble Beans.

For now, though, I am hoping for an early bedtime. Night night.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Une leçon de français

Oh come on... you know you want to learn French with me. Let's begin with the easy stuff:

N'était-ce pas amusant?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Toutes les choses françaises

I admit it. I'm a bit obsessed. It might sound like some silly teenage fantasy, but I have always wanted to live in France, to speak French, to be French.

But I come by it honestly. My great-grandmother (my mother's mother's mother) was born in Paris. I never met her but I own several pieces of her jewellery. I feel the connection.

When I was in high school, my mother bought me a Sorbonne sweatshirt, not the genuine article but good enough for me. One year (grade 11, I think) we were planning to spend March break in England and finally - finally - I was assured of a trip across the English Channel into the Promised Land. Unfortunately, there was a death in the family and my mother had to fly to the UK for a funeral before that trip took place. In university I had a poster of the Eiffel Tower in my first apartment and I took French courses. The dream was still alive.

Then what happened?

Long story short: I met a boy.

So, forgive me if I spend the next six months rattling on about tout les choses françaises. I am excited that I will be spending a month in Paris this summer. Indulge me a little, would you?

A trio of Eiffel Towers in miniature lined up on my dresser.

A beautiful necklace from my mother, sent to me for my birthday.

My great-grandmother Marie-Amelia's brooch.

(As usual, excuse the crummy pics. A photographer I certainly am not! And my camera is a bit primitive - excuses, excuses.)

And my latest French "things" are decisions to be made - to choose the apartment in the Latin Quarter or the one near the Louvre? To register in Elementary French or Intermediate French classes?

Ahhh... life is vie est dure.

p.s. I'm still waiting for the OnlyChild to give me photos from the party. She is dragging her feet, making excuses, driving me bonkers. I even offered to upload them myself, but alas! I am not allowed to touch her precious camera. Sigh. She says, "Tomorrow"... or should I say, "Demain".