Friday, 27 November 2009

What the hoot's got into me?

It looks like I have lost interest in my blog lately, and truly I've had other concerns on my mind. My boyfriend lost his job a couple of months ago, which has brought a few dark hours at home. Now that he has decided to go back to school after the holidays, we have decided to redo our basement, which we had left intact since we bought the house last year. The colours were horrid, so a few coats of paint will be more than welcome. My craft room is almost finished, but all my stuff is still packed up in a corner.

So, I haven't done that much crafting lately, if you count out painting walls. I did start to work on Christmas gifts, but somehow I got diverted by a few swaps I had signed up for. I sat with craft felt, embroidery floss, buttons and sequins, and got completely lost in making tree ornaments. One of the swaps called for owls, so I used the Holiday Hoot Pattern from Anna Maria Horner and changed it slightly to make it smaller and with less details.

I also worked on my own designs, but since those swaps have not been received yet, I would not want to spoil the surprise by showing them already.

I will soon be resuming my work on Christmas gifts, but here is a peek at what I made for my boyfriend's mother, who is an avid knitter.

It is a needle case, as instructed by Alexandra in her tutorial. I found it was very quick and easy to make, and working with such bright colours was a nice change from my usual darker palette.

I should be coming back soon, watch out for Giveaway Day!


Sunday, 27 September 2009

Back to the sewing room

I have been away from the computer for a long time, trying to make the most of the wonderful weather we have had in September. Summer here has been all cold and rain, so I tried to make up for all the wasted time.

Now the rain is back and I will be spending more time indoors, downstairs in my little craft room. Lately I have been working on some quick and easy projects, just to get reaquainted with my sewing machine.

These book covers are a real charm to make and very easy to adjust to any book size. I made the pink one for my sister and kept the blue one for myself.

I also made this bag for my sister, but I am thinking of making one for myself too. I recycled a fabric shower curtain to make it and I like the fact that it has three pockets. I think it would be great as a library bag. The pattern, a super easy one, comes from this book.

Next up, I have to start working on some Christmas gifts, and a special request from my boyfriend who wants to have a pencil case for his upcoming return to school.


Sunday, 30 August 2009

Blue-tinted Ritual

At the beginning of summer, we bought a bird bath and put it in a corner of our backyard. I was hoping to attract a few birds so I could watch them in the comfort of my home, while helping them by providing a regular source of fresh water.

Not only did my little bath appeal to birds, but it became the main attraction in my backyard. I discovered that each species of birds have their own schedule, and sure as a clock, they show up in groups at the same hour every day. The most common visitors in my yard are Black-capped Chickadees and Blue Jays, the latter being the easiest to photograph as they are bigger and more colorful. I haven't yet found the way to make good pictures of dark colored chickadees with my new camera, but I am working on it.

I picked a few pictures to illustrate the ritual of my dear blue jays:

Watching from the nearby trees to make sure all is safe;

Perching on the bath, double-checking for safety. One false movement from the photographer and off he goes;

Quickly taking one big sip;

Rising high to swallow;

When we're lucky, birdie will hop in the bath;

And splash water everywhere;

Just out of the bath, getting back his composure;

And off he goes, back in the trees to get dry and plan the next visit.

Happy bird-watching!


Friday, 7 August 2009

Simple Treat

It's funny how I collect tons of fancy cookie recipes, thinking that somewhere out there is the ultimate treat and hoping that I may come across it. What is even funnier is that whenever I feel like baking cookies, although I consider trying new and promising recipes, I always come back to the same old, comfortable ones, like these peanut butter cookies above. They've become a classic at home, and the pleasure of seeing my boyfriend's eyes sparkle, when he walks in and sees his favorites on the cooling rack, is worth all the fancy recipes in the world.

Enjoy the weekend!


Monday, 3 August 2009

A Walk Around my Yard

Its sunny and hot this afternoon, why don't you come for a little walk around my backyard with me?

Nasturtiums always make me smile, year after year. These flowers really mean summer to me;

Staghorn Sumac may have strange and uninteresting flowers, but its leaves turning bright orange in the fall are a real show;

This tree is a little mystery to me, I do not know what it is called. However, I never cease to admire it, from its abundant pink blooms in the spring to its scarlet berries in late summer;

And this is one of the reasons why I have so many birds in my backyard, food for all those little fruit lovers;

And some for me too, like these wild raspberries growing under the cedars;

Apples in my neighbour's yard. These won't be any good to eat, but they make a great splash of colour in the fall, and the flowers were such a treat for the eyes and the nose earlier this year;

Look who I found, hiding under the apple tree!

And this little Blue Jay might be the reason for the cat's presence...

This little guy is a real cutie, I found him hiding under the stock flowers;

And last, but not least, this is my little miracle: lupins that I started from seeds in the spring are giving me late blooms while I did not expect any before next year.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

London Paris New York Baie-Saint-Paul

The title is from a t-shirt I found in a gift shop in Baie-Saint-Paul yesterday, on our day out of town. My boyfriend and I are still laughing at it today because it is so funny to think Baie-Saint-Paul could measure up to these enormous cities, with its 7000 of population.

However, Baie-Saint-Paul sure has its own charms, and I'd choose it over bigger cities anytime. Besides, it should be known all over the world, after all this is where Cirque du Soleil was born back in the 1980s.

Anyway, we went there yesterday for a change of scenery, only one hour and a half from Quebec-city, and for a breath of fresh air. As its name indicates, Baie-Saint-Paul is a small town built in a little bay in the St.Lawrence River. It is also one of the craftiest and most artistic towns I know in the Province. The number of art galleries and craft shops is impressive. This is the perfect rendez-vous for landscapes painters, and you may understand why from the few pictures below that I took during the day.

Above is a large view on the bay, with the small beach, the quay and Rivière du Gouffre.
Below is a closer look at the town and its rural setting.

Only a few minutes east of Baie-Saint-Paul we took the ferry to cross over to Isle-aux-Coudres, a small island in the St.Lawrence that makes about 30 km in circumference. We rented a "Junior", one of those funny two-place bicycles and slowly pedaled our way along the south shore road, enjoying the beautiful "seashore" landscape and the characteristic smell. We could almost believe we were by the sea, although this is just the St.Lawrence River and we can see the other shore in the distance. The tide was at its lowest when we were there, which is why you can barely see the water on the pictures, but the feeling was there all the same.

I took great interest in the wild flowers growing on the shore, like thousands of common rose bushes with their sweet smell (above) and other colorful flowers (below).

Look how patient Patrick and Crusty were while I hopped down the bicycle and on again to take one picture here and another one just a hundred yards away! I loved how some people used heavy boat cables to fence their properties,

or an old bicycle frame as a decorative accent in their garden.

I fell in love with the little stone house below and its neatly arranged flowers. It is a very small house and it made me think of a doll-house. Besides, I have a thing for stone walls. My parents have the most amazing one (of which I should definitely take a few pictures next time I go there).

After our tour on Isle-aux-Coudres, we made it back to Baie-Saint-Paul and went down to the beach. It really is just a long and narrow patch of sand on one side of the bay, but it always feels good to walk barefoot in the sand, even though the water was so far off with the tide being so low.

We had originally planned to stay there for a couple of days, but with rain in the forecast, we headed back home on the same day. Now trying to find another spot not too far from town where we could be heading in the following days, before Patrick's vacation is over.

See you soon,

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Going Small

Lately I've been trying different craft projects, on the smaller scale. I like collage and scrapbooking and I am used to making 12" x 12" pages. I've read about ATCs many times and thought it might be fun to try collage on this smaller format of 2.5" x 3.5". It was fun, plus I got to use some paper and photo scraps that have accumulated over the years. I guess I'll be making more of these and swap them with others on Swap-bot.

I've also been busy creating mini felt softies. All of them are 2" or smaller. The little mouse is actually only one inch, not including the tail. These are really fun to make and I still have more ideas of animals and objects that I could turn into small felt items.

Talking about small things, small prices are always welcome in my house. I got the lot of fabric below for just 6$ this morning at Fabricville. The colours aren't too good in the picture, but that is the best I could do with no natural light, as it has been raining for days and everything around me is resolutely gray.

Off to do some more crafting now, so I don't feel like I am waisting my vacation entirely. I'll be checking the forecast later and see if we could get two days of nice weather so we can go out of town. Charlevoix has been on our minds lately and I would love to have a chance to go visit all the craft shops and art galleries in Baie St-Paul. Keeping my fingers crossed...


Sunday, 12 July 2009

Almost Ruby

So, this is my version of the Ruby Doll. It took me a while to finish it because I must admit that my first attempt was close to a disaster. I may have overestimated my abilities with a sewing machine, and some details of the pattern just did not feel right to me, nothing wrong with the pattern itself, I just felt I needed to make a few changes to be happy with the result. I always do it anyway, no matter how hard I try to stick to the original thing.

So, I widened the legs and arms, and slightly changed the shape of the head, the feet, and the lower part of the body. And I mostly sewed it by hand, which helped me get a more controlled result! I played with textures a little, choosing linens over cotton and giving her laced suede boots, which I think are kinda cool.

Now she's gone play with her older friend, Lily-Couette (which I made a while ago with Alicia Paulson's Nutcracker Doll Pattern found in her book Stitched In Time). I'll have to think of a name for her, or ask my sister to come up with something, she's good at it!

Now, off to another week in the office before I can have time to work on a new project...


Saturday, 11 July 2009

Look what I got!

My boyfriend made this very original garden tool box for me. I have yet to fill it with all of my tools and take it with me to the flower beds, but I love how it turned out, especially the brick pattern on the sides and the pierced handle.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

New Weekend Project

I like to have fun and easy projects to work on during the weekend when the weather keeps me inside, as it is these days. I came across the Ruby Doll Pattern a while ago and decided to give it a try. I've sketched some ideas of what my first version might look like (I say first version because I know how I always try one pattern and then take it again and change it in subtle ways that make it more comfortable for me while keeping the original idea of the creator), but have already thought of a few more things to add, which explains the presence of the yellow fabric on top of the pile. It is only a small scrap of fabric that I got in a swap a few weeks ago, but I love the delicate print and think the bright yellow color will give life to the dark reds and browns.

So here I go, time to cut pieces and start to assemble.


Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Sweet Summer Nature

This time of year I always stop and just admire the nature surrounding me, like this great view of the marsh above
or one of the many blue jays visiting my backyard
neighbours cat lounging on my deck steps in late afternoon
a lonely duck cruising the marsh
a fluttering butterfly.

Take time to stop and watch, and enjoy!


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Treasures in the mail

I received today these gorgeous vintage buttons from Dione, as part of the Button Swap hosted by Wondermommy. I love them, each one is so special, and I think I have found among them the perfect button to match the little pouch I am working on right now. More about it later.


Monday, 15 June 2009

These have summer written all over

Yes, it may take a long time for summer to really settle here in Quebec, but that's no reason not to be ready when it does come. I planned it ahead a few weeks ago and got myself the cutest handbag from CharmDesign. I fell in love with the japanese inspired fabric and its bright colours, and thought it would match perfectly with my brand new sandals.

There are more things that come to my mind when I think of summer, things that would not sound quite right at other times of the year. I am thinking about Life Savers Popsicles, pastel flowered skirts, walking barefoot in the grass, and reading The Love Letter by Cathleen Schine. I read this book for the first time during summer 1999. I know because I had written the date on the forepage. And I remember that summer quite well. I had a job of making photocopies and answering the phone in a lawyers office right off Parliament Hill in Ottawa. I used to spend most of my evenings browsing the novels section on the upper floor of Chapters. I came across this cute little romance that truly appealed to my 22-year-old girl's mind. I read it in my overheated dorm room and sitting on rocks by the Ottawa River, and on a bench on crowded Sparks Street at lunch time. I felt as stupid and out of place as Johnny back then. Since then, I have reread this book almost every summer and have loved it every single time, even though the ending is no mystery to me anymore, and I feel closer to Helen every year and farther from Johnny. But this is my ultimate summer reading. I have just started it over again this week, and the feeling is back. Yes, summer must finally be here...

Like these? Last weekend I've indulged myself with a fabric shopping spree. I bought just a meter of each of these prints and I love them all. They look so summery with all the flowers and bright colours. Some of these fabrics will soon be on their way to Trashalou and Nicole, my partners in the Sew into summer FQ swap. Which fabric is to go to whom? This will remain a mystery until they receive their parcels, hoping I have made good choices.