Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dropped off the face of the earth...?

Noooo... of course not.

I thought I'd better pop in and say hello lest you think I've disappeared for good.

I've marked over 200 essays in the past 3 days and have 2 more days of work to go, marking government exams for social studies.

Can you say, "brain dead?" I mean me, not the kids who wrote the essays (although some of them... well, I just won't go there).

Yep, two more days of this, a short (hopefully) staff meeting on Wednesday, and then FREEEEEEEDOM! Summer Vacation!

I've been having fun, though. Met up with a few friends I haven't seen since the last marking stint in January and a couple more I haven't seen for a few years. Teacher networking at its best.

As you can see from the list on my sidebar, sewing (and particularly completion of projects) is at a standstill. There's a good chance it will stay that way until September because...

in a week I will be off to ITALY for 10 days!

a week home then...

off to FRANCE for a month!

If I seem to be bragging, forgive me. I'm just so freakin' excited!

Okay, no picture tonight - sorry about that. Did you really want to see a photo of all those essays???

Hopin' I'll be back in a day or so with much more interesting things to say. No guarantee, but there is Canada Day on the horizon so maybe.

And... I reached my 300th post a few days ago. Must plan some kind of celebration for that.


Time for bed. Early day tomorrow - day 4 of that marking gig!

'Night friends!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Slow Poke

Finally... a group designed just for people like me.

Are you a Slow Poke, too? You can join us at Momma Made This.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fiddleheads and Father's Day

Have you ever tasted fiddleheads?

They grow in ditches on the east coast and my mum used to go picking them every year. They're delicious steamed and served with a bit of butter and vinegar.

But they're so hard to find out here on the Prairies. We used to be able to get them frozen, but when they were cooked they turned to mush. Not appetizing at all.

Saturday morning I was at the farmer's market downtown and one of the greenhouses had fiddlehead plants for sale. I asked around to find out how to plant, where to plant and how to care for them, but noone seemed to have a clue (strange, since they were selling the plants). I bought a couple anyway and will see if they'll grow in containers in my back yard. At $3.00 a plant, it was a small investment for potentially a great pay-off. Yum.

It's been such a nice weekend! Yesterday Mr. P and I went to the horse races with some friends. We had lunch, took in a few races, enjoyed the sun. Today was spent in the back yard. We bought an inflatable pool - 36" deep. It takes up most of our tiny back yard and it took all day to fill, but I had a short dip in the freezing water and will cross my fingers that tomorrow is hot and sunny again so I can sit in it after work. Maybe the water will be warm by the late afternoon.

The OnlyChild and I used our creativity to put together Mr. P's Father's Day gift this year. We made him a "Pop Kit" with all things "pop" - Pop Tarts, popcorn, a can of pop, a bottle of wobbly pop (beer), lollipops, and pop bottle candy. We were looking for pop rocks candy and also wanted to add a popsicle (but were afraid it would melt). His real present was a book and a set of sheets. Don't laugh - he asked for them because he hates the rough, old sheets we have on the bed right now.

Well, you know his real real present was the recent trip to Philadelphia and tickets to a playoff game. Even though he booked that trip himself.

We also made him this card

which was inspired by this post.

Mr. P had to head out of town this afternoon as he is scheduled to do a presentation tomorrow. What a way to spend Father's Day... mind you, after the present-giving it would have been all downhill because he would have had to cook his own supper. haha.

The OnlyChild is heading to a theatre gala tonight, so I'm on my own again. I think I'll make a few hairbands, inspired by another blogger's post that I can't find right now. I think I remember enough of it to go it my own way, but I'd like to give credit...

This was meant to be a short, little post while I wait for the OnlyChild to get ready, but as usual I gabbed on and on. Thanks for sticking with me :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Goin' Green on Friday Night

I didn't forget this time. I did a bit of sewing last night for the Friday Night Sew-in on my blocks for the Green and White no-sew swap.

I hadn't even looked at these since probably February, so it was like Christmas digging into the bag and randomly picking out baggies of fabric. I had my block done already (top right) and completed five more.

Not great progress, but I was actually feeling a bit lonely up in the sewing room by myself. Mr. P was out; the OnlyChild was out. It seemed like I should be doing something more exciting and social.

Plus I cleaned the house and mowed the lawn (but not the neighbour's lawn this time - I don't want him to think I'm stalking him).

p.s. I need a pedicure. Maybe green nail polish...? To match the blocks?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A string around my finger

so I don't forget

like I did last month.

I thought tomorrow night might end up being a Friday Night Write-in with me working on that paper for my master's course, but I finished it this morning at work. I feel like a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders. Wonderful!

Tomorrow night I think I will work on some of the blocks for the Green and White no-sew swap I joined in January. Or I could try to get my Checkerboard quilt basted at school tomorrow and do some quilting on that. Ahhh... the possibilities are endless.

Will you be joining us at the Friday Night Sew-in?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quilted Notebook Cover Tutorial

If you are my good friend Cheryl (who has not updated her blog since the beginning of time), you may not want to continue reading this post because it will ruin the surprise. But I'll leave it up to you...

I'm going to give you my instructions for making a quilted notebook cover. There are a few tutorials out there on the 'net, and they're good. My method is pretty good, too. It works for me, so I'll share.

I've made three of these little books so far. The first one was for the OnlyChild. Hers is now filthy and well-loved.

Then I made one for me (probably for me, but I might end up giving it away - who knows?)

Yesterday, I made another one - this time for Cheryl. And I remembered to take photos so I could share the process with you! So here goes...

1 dollar-store notebook (the kind with a flexible cardboard cover)
pretty fabric for outside (a fat quarter will give you lots of scraps)
muslin for inside and sleeves
piece of batting
coordinating fabric for binding
small hair elastic (or a 2" piece of narrow elastic)

Step One:
Start by measuring the height of your notebook. Write down this measurement.

Then measure the width of your notebook from the back around to the front, including the spine. Write this down too.

To each measurement add 3/4" - these will be the dimensions you will cut later.
Now add another 2 to 2 1/2" to your measurements. You will cut the fabric this size. Trust me.

For example: the height of my book was 9 3/4" and the width around (back, spine, and front together) was 15 1/4". My "finished" dimensions will be 10 1/2" x 15 3/4" but I actually cut the fabric 12" x 17". I learned to do this from the first attempt.

Step Two:
Cut your fabric, batting, and lining (muslin) all the same size. Cut 2 sleeves from muslin that are the "finished" height x about 1/3 of the "finished" width of the fabric.

Step Three:
Sandwich your three layers, pin-baste and quilt as desired. I chose to do straight lines, starting in the middle and sewing 1/2" apart. I need to practice my straight-line quilting, plus I didn't want any fancy pattern interfering with the beauty of this Chinese lantern fabric.

Step Four:
Once you have quilted your piece, you can cut to the "finished" size, as we discussed above. Remember, this is 3/4" bigger than the size of the book measurements you took initially. Check your measurements before cutting!

Step Five:
Hem one long end of each sleeve with a 1/4" hem.

Step Six:
Line up your sleeves against the short ends of the cover - one on each side (on the inside of course) with the hem facing the middle of the piece. (Does that make sense? Sounds a little loopy to me, even though I know what I mean.) Baste the three edges. You might be sorry if you skip the basting.

Why don't I have a photo of that step???

Step Seven:
Now you're going to bind this baby, just like it's a mini-quilt (because that's what it is). I like to cut my binding pieces 2 1/4" wide, but I think 2" would do just as well.

Bind the short edges first so you can catch the sleeves in the binding.

If you want a closure on your notebook cover, now is the time to add one. Decide which is the back of the cover and place a hair elastic in the middle of the edge, between the front and the binding. Pin in place and when you sew, go back and forth over it a couple of times to make sure it stays there.

Now you're going to sew on that binding using a 1/4" seam allowance. Easy, right? You could probably use a continuous, mitred-corner binding, but I'm not proficient in that method so I don't. Do what works best for you.

Once you've machine stitched the binding, flip it to the back and hand-sew it down carefully.

Step Eight:
Add a beautiful button. Slide your notebook inside by slipping the notebook covers into the sleeves, front and back. You may have to slightly bend the covers to get them in, but that's okay - we bought flexible notebooks for just that reason. Pull the hair elastic round to the front and secure over the beautiful button.

Step Nine:
Take some pictures of your wonderful creation and admire its beauty. If you're still feeling creative, you can always use your scraps to make a matching change purse.

Step Ten:
And if you're still not ready to go to bed, you can bake some mini cupcakes for your students because it's their last day of school (even if it's not yours)... or if you don't have students, make them for yourself. You deserve them; you did work hard, after all.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if something isn't clear. And if you make one of these little cuties, send me a photo. I'd love to see it!

Cheryl... your notebook and change purse are in the mail... Surprise!

p.s. This project was featured on One Pretty Thing today :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Quick and Easy Apple-Cinnamon Buns

I adapted this from one of my favourite cinnamon bun recipes found in Muffins & More (from the Company's Coming Series) by Jean ParĂ©. The apple makes a nice change from the usual raisin/currant mixture. You can glaze these buns, if you want; you will probably find that they really don't need anything extra!


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup cold milk

1/3 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 apple, cored and diced


1.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles oatmeal.
2.  Make a well in the centre and pour in milk. Stir with a fork to form a soft dough.
3.  Turn onto a lightly floured board. Knead 8-10 times.
4.  Roll into a rectangle, about 9 x 12 inches.
5.  For filling, cream butter and margarine. Spread over dough. Sprinkle apple pieces on top.
6.  Roll up along longer edge of rectangle, like a jelly roll.
7.  Mark and cut into 12 slices. Place slices in muffin pan.
8.  Bake in 400 F oven for 20-25 minutes. Makes 12.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Random Acts of Mowing and Sewing

No Mmmmmmmarking this weekend! That was my goal, and so far so good.

Instead, I did some mowing:

(Don't judge me for the brown spots - I have two dogs)

Friday after work, I mowed the back yard and the front yard, and (because it was such a beautiful day and I wasn't ready to go inside) I mowed my neighbour's lawn too. Call it a "thank you" for all the shirtless renovating he did over the winter. haha.

I checked on my flowers. The snow a couple of weekends ago killed off some of them, but the pansies survived. I love their little faces. I hadn't even planned on planting pansies in the back yard, but I had leftovers from the barrels in the front.

The daisies are doing okay, too. Mr. P says they'll live through anything because they're just weeds anyway. Imagine that! I love daisies.

And my front flower barrels are thriving. (Interesting aerial view)

I also did a bit of sewing, after I spent the day lounging around in the sun. Yes, I did - I spent the whole day reading and hanging around in the back yard. It was wonderful. Well, I baked in the morning, but making apple-cinnamon buns hardly counts as work.

(There were twelve. They disappeared quickly.)

Once the sun went down, I finished my red strings notebook cover.

And I made a Gathered Clutch from Anna's tutorial. It's a bit crooked, but not bad for a first try.

And the rest of the family? They were relaxing and having fun too!

AbbyDog is enjoying her new bed, bought by Mr. P and the OnlyChild. Love those polkadots!

Today is promising to be much like yesterday - some crafting, maybe a bit more sewing, perhaps a trip to Whyte Avenue to buy Mr. P his Father's Day gift. Or maybe just lazing around like yesterday...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Things I was supposed to do tonight

First, an announcement:

This morning, I finished marking all my grade 12 tests, exams and assignments. Marks are in the computer. I'm done! (With that class anyway.) Hurray! Just my grade 11 class to finish now, but it's a much smaller group and much less work.

Which leads me to the topic of this post.

After school, I was going to do a bit of marking (to give me less to do on the weekend), but I got caught up in a conversation with a co-worker. Not that I have an issue with that, nor do I think it a waste of time. The fact is, a few of my colleagues have been getting on my nerves lately, so it was nice to have a chat with a sane and wise person, rather than the silly 20-something year olds in my department.

So, the marking didn't get done before we had to go downstairs to attend a retirement function for three old boys who are calling it quits this year. My plan was to stay until about 5:00 pm, or 5:15 at the latest, and then sneak off home so I could make it to dance class.

But the speeches went on and on. I think it's rather rude when people get up and leave when someone is doing a presentation, plus I really like all three of these colleagues, so I stayed. And soon, it was too late for me to get home, change and drive to the other side of town to attend my last dance class of the year.

So, I thought maybe I'd go to Kettlebell class and then stay for yoga. My yoga teacher holds free classes in between sessions (to attract new business, I guess, but she invites us to come too). But on my way out of the school, the cooking teacher took me into the kitchen and gave me a container of mole (pronounced mol-ay) to take home to Mr. P. He's a good friend, so we chatted for a few minutes and by the time I left, it was too late to make it to Kettlebell class at 6:45.
So, I thought maybe I'd just go to yoga at 8:00 pm. But then I got lazy and comfortable and my belly hurts a little (girl stuff, ya know), so I made that a good excuse not to go to yoga either.

So, here I am sitting on the couch, getting sleepier by the minute.

My marking didn't get done.
I missed my last dance class of the year.
Kettlebell class happened without me.
And the yoga ladies are probably twisted in some unnatural position right now.

I didn't do any of the things I was supposed to do tonight.

But who cares?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Snow (aka the white stuff that should not stick around after March)

What? Snow?

Yep. Remember I said we got snow last weekend? I took some photos with my cell phone as we were driving to Calgary. The pictures are terrible quality, but you get the idea. In some places, the visibility was almost zero.

That was May 29th. Unbelievable!

This is my favourite - Whiteout! (It wasn't my favourite at the time; the drive was pretty hairy in some places.)

And now we just have rain, rain and more rain. We've had only a couple of sunny days and most have been wet and cold. It's actually quite unusual for us to have so many rainy days. Usually if it's going to rain, it will do so overnight. This is like East Coast weather, except without the respite of a good, hot, muggy day after the rain.

Summer will come soon. Please. I want to wear my cute skirts and dresses. What's the use of making nice summery clothes if they stay in the closet for 11 months of the year? Huh.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Friday Night (and Sunday Afternoon) Sew-in

Last month I missed the Friday Night Sew-in because I forgot all about it. I'm bound and determined to be at my sewing machine for the entire evening on June 18. By that point I should not have piles of marking to do, and as of right now I'm not aware of any other commitment. It will be nice to get some projects done (or started) before I take off across the pond for the summer.

Are you going to join me? Make sure you visit Bobbi to sign up!
I plowed through my marking Friday night and yesterday so that I had today to do what I wanted... well, after cleaning and laundry anyway. Mr. P has been away for a few days, so I spent a little bit of time at my sewing machine (hello, Bernice!) and put together a bag for my yoga mat:

I used the great fabric that my friend Sandi bought for me when she was in Australia last fall. I had been looking for a project to use it, but I only had a metre which isn't enough for a skirt, and it's a bit heavy for quilting. Perfect for a yoga mat bag. Did I tell you I'm loving my yoga class? I still find it incredibly difficult, but I think I'm getting better. I'm going to sign up for the next session and go twice a week until I leave.

And while I was being industrious, cleaning and sewing, the OnlyChild was doing what people really should be doing on a Sunday afternoon - enjoying it!

Maybe she can teach me how to relax.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Teeny Tiny Writing

and messy writing, and answers taken directly from the textbook or copied from a friend.

Ahhh... the joys of marking.

My students are starting to panic now. All their course work is due on Monday, June 7. One of the hazards of a self-directed program is that (and I've said this before) some students lack self-direction and this program allows them to leave the bulk of the work until the last minute.

What that means to me is piles upon piles of marking during the final two weeks of the semester. And it's marking of the worst kind. Hastily-written responses that make absolutely no sense and/or do not even answer the question. Work for the sake of work. The "git 'er dun" stuff.

It feels like I will never finish. I think I might have to become a bit more "hasty" in my marking.

Oh well... never mind... remember my new philosophy? Who Cares?

Really, who cares? I don't - how can I? I'm going to Italy in 31 days. I'm going to France in 50 days. And I bought new shoes. Wanna see?

Strappy Sandals. I've already worn these twice, despite the rain and snow - yes, snow - we've had here.

And my other pair of shoes - good walking shoes for the summer. I haven't worn these yet, but they'll get lots of use.

Well, I wanted to show you pictures of our drive down to Calgary last weekend, and of all the snow - yes, snow - we encountered, but I've emailed them to myself twice from my cellphone and haven't received them.

(I've been having some email issues lately. My hotmail *magically* sent out a spam email to people on my contact list - I don't know if it was everyone or just a few - and I'd like to tell everyone to ignore it but, equally *magically*, my contact list has disappeared so I don't know anyone's email addresses. I think you are all safe, since I don't use hotmail for my blog. But if, by chance, I've ever sent you anything from my hotmail address and you got a suspicious email ostensibly from me about cheap iPhones, ignore it. I did not send it.)

Anyway, back to the snow... it was awful on Saturday: whiteout conditions in places, slush all over the highway. Scary driving. It snowed a bit up here too, according to the OnlyChild, and some of my freshly-planted flowers are a bit wilty now. I hope they survive. But really, Mother Nature... Snow on May the friggin' twenty-ninth? What were you thinking?

The OnlyChild survived her night without us. I think she rather enjoyed herself. Her friend Rachelle picked her up, they went for supper, got a flat tire, had a big adventure, then Rachelle stayed overnight. I know it was a bit silly of me to worry - she is almost 18 after all - but, it was the first time and that's always the hardest.

Okay, enough jabbering for now. I have a dance class to get ready for, the OnlyChild has a job interview this evening (fingers crossed for her) and my pile of marking isn't getting any smaller.

Ciao! A bientot!