Friday, December 31, 2010


Thanks for a year that has passed.

I have always been better at beginnings than endings, yet I have always loved New Year's Eve better than New Year's Day... perhaps it has something to do with when the party gets started...or perhaps it has to do with the quiet reflections that steal over us at this time of year. 
New years are for new hopes, new wishes and the belief of things better to come, but first we seem to need to look back, reflect, and remember, before we can restore...

2010 was a hard year, with some great sorrow, but still with some happy times. I think it's that mix that makes us resilient, better able to withstand the slings and arrows of life and face adversity until it backs away, no matter long we must stare it down.

By far the greatest sorrow was losing Sina, who was Steve's mom, my daughter's boyfriend's mother. She left a hole in many lives, of course his especially, and it can only be filled by her love, even if it isn't an active love, but the legacy of a love given.
I think of her often Steve, and I think of you.

The fire was the only other hard thing and it really wasn't that hard; we didn't lose anything and were really only inconvenienced for a short time. And at the end of it all, we have a beautiful new roof. 
It did make me think though about how close we were to losing things, especially all my seemingly precious possessions in my Sewing Room, which is across the hall from where the fire started. 
It made me look at everything differently - what mattered, what didn't and then I wondered why I would have things I didn't care about, want or need - I just "had" them.

And so here I am, on the cusp of the New Year, taking some time to look back on the old. Looking for clarity, understanding, and insight so that I might find peace, contentment and joy in all people, and all things.

I hope that is what you find in 2011 and beyond.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Artful Thursday - A Day in Paris

This post could also be rightly titled "Artful Thursday - The Collaboration" because so many of the items I am using are from other talented bloggers...

It started with this post by Heather Bullard where I first saw the mini calendars by Little Brown Pen... 

I thought they would make sweet little gifts, with one for me of course...
They are just beautiful, with each month featuring a different picture of a Paris scene - but how to display them?
I thought of a business card holder but all the ones I saw were too hard, too sterile - no personality.
So I decided to make one, using all sorts of bits and pieces of this and that.

I started with a mini clipboard (6" x 8") and glued some batting to the front, notching out around the clip.

I interfaced a piece of chocolate linen (a Parisian calendar has to feature chocolate somehow or other - mais oui?) and laced it to the clip board, over top of the batting.

Then I started gathering all my treasures: vintage lace and key from Corey Amaro of Tongue in Cheek, Paris tags from Rhonda of A Little Bit French, Bonjour ribbon from Kaari Meng of French General, Eiffel Tower stamp from here, and the horseshoe shaped pin and buttons are from Cobwebs Antiques

Nothing is stuck down yet - I am playing with the layout and still trying to fit everything in. I have in my mind something like a travel trunk where stickers are plastered all over it, or a mirror with bits and pieces of treasured memorabilia tucked in around the edges - kind of a collage but not quite... if that makes sense.

I can't decide whether to paint the little clothespin buttermilk or dark (big design decision huh?), but there will be a fine cord stretching between the two buttons and the calendar will clip to that with the clothespin - easy peasy to change it out each month.

As soon as I get it all stuck down I'll take a picture of it, in it's place - it will have to be soon though because January is a-comin'!

Also, Debbie of Mosaic Magpie is hosting a heart swap and I signed up, along with several other talented ladies. 
If you are a lover of artful hearts you should check it out - there's still time to join in the fun!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Very Merry!

Sitting here in the quiet of an early Christmas Eve, thinking of many things, but most of all, wishing you a very merry, jolly and happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Artful Thursday - Artful Giving

Every year I like to make something special for our friends.
The first year I made Christmas Pot Pourri, Gingersnap Cookies and Rum Sauce.

I had thought each year I would change it up, but no can do. Apparently my friends are all afraid of change and insist on the same treats each and every year...

Good thing I am not stubborn too... (hush up children!)

This year they are presented in a brown box, with the lid folded back, 
brown paper excelsior crinkled up in the bottom to form a nest,

linen jar lid covers stamped with an image of holly, the edges pinked...

the one on the right has had the berries tinted red and green detail added to the leaves (click and you may get a glimpse)

tied on a jar of buttery rum sauce with a piece of twine

Tags from Tiny Bear - why make something when you can buy perfection?

"NOEL" cards from French General 

rum sauce is fabulous drizzled on apple pie with ice cream, ice cream alone, or my favourite, licked off a spoon

why add calories unnecessarily?

gingersnaps to the left, homemade by my daughter Laura from the old stand by "Better Homes & Gardens" red and white cookbook

Christmas Potpourri on the right, loaded with broken cinnamon sticks, miniature pine cones, dried rose hips and fresh greens - heavenly scented with essences of pine and cinnamon

finished off with a sprig of holly from my garden

Artful Giving

And now to the business at hand - this week's give away...

Thank you all for sharing your favourite beaches - I have learned of a few new places to visit someday!

Fourteen names in the bowl and Laura swished and swooshed them around and this week's winner is:

Michelle May from The Raspberry Rabbits!

Shell is a sweetie, and a hilarious one at that. I have been following her blog for months now and a few weeks ago I stumbled across a fabric at work that yelled her name, and as she was willing to send me her address, I sent her a chunk of the fabric. Shell then featured my blog on one of her "Monday Meetings" posts, which then introduced me to this blog - The French Bear and so on, and so on...

Ain't blogging grand?

Monday, December 20, 2010

On Another Tear

Today when tidying my sewing room, yet again, I found some left over torn muslin strips from the stocking and decided to play some more.

 (please click on it for a better look)

I wove the strips for the base, traced the heart shape, layered it with the backing fabric and sewed around it, just as I did for the stocking. Then I cut the edges about 1/4" from the stitching line, using pinking shears. I gathered up a 6" piece of the same vintage lace and sewed it in the centre, along the existing stitching line, then layered in the vintage key, charm and rose.

The back is finished in the same manner of all my sachets - feather stitch along the length of the seam. 

I also revamped the other two hearts in my Etsy shop - adding charms and beads to pretty them up even more. They were just sort of sitting quietly in the corner of my room and I couldn't help myself!

I love that about handwork - just because you think you're finished making something doesn't mean you can't go back and add more later... if they don't sell soon, I wonder what I will add next??

Now, for the last of my Monday Give Aways...

This runner was borne out of a desire to make something that reminded of ocean beaches.
The centre is made of strips of neutral coloured fabrics, representing both the colours of the sand and slats of the weathered fences that crop up here and there on the Atlantic seaboard.

The border fabric is a combination of cream, beige and various pale hues of mauve - stormy skies at the end of the day, shortly before dusk...

All the seams are stitched by hand, using subtly coloured embroidery thread that matches the colours of the slats and/or the colours in the border fabric.
Herringbone runs around the perimeter for continuity and then the inside seams all feature various stitches, used singly or in combination. Most of the stitches remind me of either bird tracks on the wet sand, or the dry grasses at the end of the season.

The little buttons have a pearlescence to them that makes me think of sea glass and seashells...

The pale stitch below is like the dry grasses waving in the sea breeze...

The runner measures 37" x 19" and is made entirely of cotton.

If you would like to enter to win, please leave a comment telling me about your favorite beach.

I will post the winner again on Artful Thursday!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One Thing Leads to Another

 Now that all the painting is done and the new curtains are hung in the living and dining rooms, I have been busy getting out all my Christmas decorations...

A pewter heart hangs in the centre of the garland attached to the fireplace mantel,

Silvery camel and pear adorn one corner,

Vintage coal scuttle holds wood, ready for a fire,

The sheep's yoke from Marc's Grandfather's farm, tucked into this corner,

a glittered silver snowflake,

a carved wooden heart purchased in Paris two years ago,

 it's partner, but one with a heartfelt message, 

my little runner with a grapevine wreath I decorated a few years back,

and finally, my swan quilt, hanging in it's rightful place!

The colours of this quilt perfectly match the colours of the newly painted living room, but there seems to be a bit of clash with the hits of red in some of my Christmas decorations.

(insert heavy sigh here)

In all the scurrying of the past few months, I never gave much thought to how all my things would work in with the colour scheme. Some work just fine, others, not at all. At first I was kind of disappointed but it didn't take long before I started to see there was a silver lining here - a chance to revamp, renew and redo.

First though, I am going to relax! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Artful Thursday -

I have a confession to make...
the artfulness you see below was not created by me today.

It dates back to somewhere around 1998, when I was very firmly in my "all things Victoria magazine" stage.
But this week has been daft and it's the best I could muster up - I don't feel too bad about it though because:
 a) I still like it
b) it still "fits" with today's styling
c) it isn't finished (yes'm, that really is a reason)
d) it's so simple
e) I could find it!

Take a wooden craft shape of your choice and paint it with a neutral craft paint. Make sure you paint the front and back, and although almost all of it is covered with the buttons, pick a colour that will coordinate well just in case. Once the paint is completely dry, coat the front with a strong white glue (I like Aleene's Thick Designer Tacky Glue for this sort of stuff) and then start layering in your buttons.
I don't have a work-in-progress to show you because I refuse to start anything new until some of this old stuff is dealt with; so you'll just have to use your mind's eye for this one! :) 
When you put down the first layer of buttons, use only buttons without shanks, and leave a few little spaces here and there. When you add the second layer, put buttons with shanks in those spots and the shanks will slip nicely into the gaps.

The other thing to keep in mind with the first layer is to make sure you get them as close to the edge as possible.

Once you have added all the buttons you want, let it dry thoroughly.
If you wish, take a thin ribbon or cord, the same width as the wood, and carefully glue it to cover the wood edges and add a finished look.

Glue a ribbon hanger to the back and cover the ribbon ends by gluing a small button over top.

If you do all this you will be done - I haven't (as you can plainly see) and so I am not done...

Tonight I wrote all your names on bits of paper and Laura pulled Suzan of oldgreymare out of the bag.
Please go to her blog  - it is a real treat for both the eye and the mind and one of my favourites to visit. 
Congratulations z. If you will email me your address, I will send the stocking out to you straightaway!

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Tear Away" Stockings

All sorts of goings-on in this house right now.
Christmas baking, decorating, card-making, present wrapping, making gifts, planning menus... I suspect it's the same in yours?
 I snuck away today, amidst all that chaos and finished this.

The little torn and woven stocking I started the other day...

I even stuck to the plan and used the lace, flower and vintage key I had laid out as I was designing the stocking body...

A bow made of seam binding and twisted cord for the hanging loop complete the picture

I never did get to that Hardanger project for this week's Give Away, so I am offering this little guy instead...

If you would like to enter, please leave a comment about your favourite Christmas preparations.

 I'll announce the winner on Artful Thursday.

Below is a picture my good friend Marj sent me of her sewing room.
It seems she has the same equipment as me!

Happy hic' creating!