Monday 30 July 2007

A Pretty Scene...

This is part of the next round of playcapes, and then I'll nearly be out of that pink and white flower fabric. I'll be sad to see it go, it's so cheery - that's the problem with recycled fabric! Hmmmm with all the pink around here, you'd never guess that my favourite colour is actually so-clear-it-makes-your-heart-ache-sky-blue.....

It's hot hot again, so I'm using one of the tables we borrowed for the party as a cutting table. I love my basement "studio", but nothing beats working outside under the trumpet vine, with a gentle breeze and the fragrance of phlox in the air....

Bucolic scenes aside, the day ended with me devouring, in frustration, a tub of chocolate and peanut-butter soy icecream, smothered with left-over birthday party chocolate ganache....

Our house is fortunate to have a terrific cross-breeze, but the bedroom faces west and in the afternoon gets pretty hot. There's a metal awning on the window, which does a pretty good job shielding everything until about 5pm, and then the sun just pours in. No curtain, 'cause that would block the breeze.....I deeply dislike shades. So, in a move that I'm sure any home-owners' association would have a heart attack over, my plan was to hang some fabric from the bottom edge of the awning in order to block the sun, but preserve the breeze. Simple. But how to attach it? Magnets! (Suggests Mr. S.....)

Great idea! I sewed it up, a little pocket for each of 4 heavy-duty magnets, managed to navigate the 4 million pieces to our 60's sliding windows, and.....

magnets don't stick to aluminum

At the Final Hour....

And the morning of the party? Finishing (o.k., o.k., starting and finishing.....) Safiya's birthday present:

She didn't have a pillow of her own, so I made one, filled it with buckwheat hulls from my vast supply, and made her a pillowcase. I'd been meaning to do it for a while (the theme of my life, and the soundtrack to said life is the scarecrow's song from "The Wizard of Oz" know...."If I Only Had a Brain"? If you hear someone walking down the street absent-mindedly whistling it, that's me....)

This little project was really enjoyable, and really easy (clearly, as I finished it in about an hour and a half, all told). I had been keeping fabrics for her for a while, including that juicy piece from Amy Butler's Belle collection that I bought waaay back before I stopped buying fabrics "first-hand" (and the only piece of designer fabric that I've ever bought, I think - so so lovely). They're intended for a quilt someday, but a pillowcase is a good place to start, I think. The back is from a 100% cotton sheet, probably from the 50's, judging by the label, and it's beautifully worn and soft....

And if the pink birds are the guardians of her dreams, then my babe is going to have some happy happy sleeps!

A Good Day reference to Safiya's third birthday party on Saturday, of which this was the (partial) aftermath:

....we don't have a dishwasher...there are two big toteboxes of dishes on the floor that you can't see - thank goodness! About thirty wonderful friends and family were here for BBQ lunch and Safiya had a blast (I think - she was birthday-party-and-i've-only-eaten-toast-honey-and-chocolate cupcakes-all -day delirious and presents!-presents!-presents! crazy, but I think that's a good thing when you're three....)

Our little house was packed, which I loved, because everything rang with laughter and kids playing various "musical" instruments and people calling for more coffee and stories and jokes and "can-I-help-you?" and "move the tables outside!" (I had a table set up inside in the playroom so that we could fit everyone to sit down - forget it - everyone crammed in our little backyard!)

Mr. S. and I prepared for a while for this, but you know what I did on the Tuesday and Wednesday before the party? Clean? nope. Make party favours? nope. Cook? nope (besides which Safiya and I both had summer colds - bleh) Finish the baby quilt I'm working on for my cousin? nope.

Read the latest Harry Potter book from beginning to end, practically non-stop (as non-stop as you can when there's an almost-three-year-old in the house?)


Monday 23 July 2007

Wherefore Art Thou, Orange and Green?

My love affair with orange and green started with:

It was sketched by my Mom when she was fifteen, when she was dreaming of college and fashion design. I love the jauntiness of it, the optimism....and the orange and green. And now those colours are finding their way into our kitchen:

One of my favourite vintage teatowels (1976 :-), above (empty - I really have to go to the farmers' market) bins for onions and sweet potatoes. And then there's this:

My favourite bowl of all time, because of the colours and because it was made by my littlest brother when he was only in grade 9 - pretty cool, eh?

So when I spied these pretty napkins at the thrift store in my hometown?

Of course they're home home now :-)

Friday 20 July 2007

Still Here...Fun With the Folks

Sorry for the hiatus - we've taken a little mid-week holiday at the Grandparents' (not much in the way of computers out here - not such a bad thing sometimes ;-)

Forgot the camera....also not such a bad thing sometimes....

Meanwhile, please do pop by cloth.paper.string for some eloquent sentiments on balance...

Have a great week(-end)!

Monday 16 July 2007


Eeeep! The purse that I won from Jen at chrysanthemum (yes, three references for essentially the same thing - I'm really excited) arrived today! It's too too lovely - the pictures don't do justice to the pink silk inside, and her workmanship is impeccable. When I reminded Safiya that this is Mama's purse, she replied with a bright smile, "well, we can share it, Mama!" And all of the sudden the almost-three-year-old grasps the importance of sharing - ha!

And inside Jen had snuck surprises! Yay! Chocolate (gone), a little pink sewing kit (upon which Safiya said "oh, how lovely" - just like that! and it is now her very first sewing kit - extra thanks, Jen :-), and some delicate little tissue papers that are a mystery to me......Jen?

Here's a little sneak peak at what I've been working on to send back to her, because the weird thing is, she won my little contest!

And you know what? I love sending packages as much as getting them, so this is a whole lot of fun :-)

Saturday 14 July 2007

Pandora Has Nothing on This Box...And A Little Alliteration where's that zipper foot? Just me and my tea and an early morning (note to self: waking up before the babe is the way to go!) Why do I have this many needles? Seriously? "A needle for every sewing need"? How many needs could there be? Silly me...there's a carpet needle....and a bookbinding needle....for all my carpet and bookbinding emergencies, I suppose.

Oh no! On my way out to a fabulous party I've snagged my favourite carpet with my very glamorous stilettos! Good thing I have my carpet needle!...there are some things for which I am slightly over-prepared....I love the pack with the picture of the women on front in obvious awe of Susan and her snazzy set of sewing needles...

I eventually found the zipper foot, and despite some practice on a piece of scrap fabric (which left me waaaay too confident), this is the result:

It looks like it's sprouted tentacles and is going to take over....look out, the world will be over-run by my very badly bound buttonhole!

Thursday 12 July 2007

The Universe Can Be One Great Dame....

Our garden is growing strange fruit.....

And see? I did embroider that night....and it did help :-) (Oh, and next time I'm feeling that way, I think we'll have a Soulemama day...what a great way to switch gears...Amanda rocks)

It's supposed to be a hedgehog, since one of Safiya's favourite books is "The Hat" by Jan Brett. The pocket nearly didn't make it on because Safiya saw it and wanted to keep it as a pet...

So the only thing left to do on the smock is the buttonholes and buttons. And guess what?....I'm a buttonhole virgin. It's true! (And wouldn't that make a good band name? Hmm...maybe not? What's your vote? Anyway...) I'm saving making them for tomorrow...or maybe it's a weekend thing....

I hope you don't mind all the's only the second article of clothing that I've sewn for Safiya, ever. Shameful I know, but true and hopefully, something that's going to change :-)

Yesterday and today have been good to me. Safiya and Mr. S. hung out yesterday evening and I sewed, and today, well today was sublime....

The day started out with Safiya running around the house excitedly, saying "Are our guests here yet? Are they?" That's a good way to start the day. Johanna, who I met at the Toronto Craft Chat, came over and we talked.....craft....all morning! Now, to put this in context, not any of my other friends sew or such, and so it's usually my Mom who is on the receiving end of craft-talk around here. Which is great and all, but it's,'s not the same (Hi Mom :-) We talked craft-room strategies, fabric, the "state of craft" ;-) all kinds of things that are so much better shared when the other person has that knowing, excited spark in their eye. Johanna is incredibly talented, and she brought her darling daughter (so the girls played while we talked - sweet!) and a bit of her work along, and look! Goodies pour moi! How very kind and thoughtful!

Some copies of Thread magazine (one of which I have coveted before, so what a lovely surprise), embroidery floss, really cute trim, and to top it all off, the coolest Alexander Henry fabric ever and I say that because:

With a name like mine, that never happens!

Tuesday 10 July 2007

Is it the Moon?

Sometimes just a good laugh is what's needed: the most recent posts at dooce....

o.k., now I'll go embroider!

The World is Funny That Way....

No Impact Man: Entertaining Isabella without TV

How fortuitous....


A Tale of Two Days (The Vents They Are A-Blowin' Or, Feeling Sorry For Oneself)

Yesterday the day started off clear. Clean house, food for the day, zipped up with Safiya on the bike to the post office to mail a congrats-on-the-baby package to an acquaintance and an Etsy order, picked up peanut-butter-chocolate soy ice-cream (mmmmm) on the way back. The weather was super hot and muggy so we just shlepped around. Sitting around on the cool playroom floor, we reverse engineered the one smock that Safiya has; the one from Katharine. It was fun (never done it before!) - we made a pattern - Safiya helped by drawing all over the pattern with white tailor's chalk....

Safiya's great-grandfather on Mr. S.'s side was a well-respected tailor - a very good one, apparently, so her pose above makes me natural...

Then in the afternoon we took a large sheet and a basket and foraged for white mulberries down the street. That little slice of a summer's day, with Safiya shaking the branches of this huge mulberry tree, laughing, is one of those family-slide-slipping-through-your-memory-moments that will stay with me until I'm old and (much more) grey...

We ended off still hot and muggy, no relief, but a good day (the night was a bit too hot for the babe to sleep, but eventually she was in that sound sleep that mamas only dream about...)

Today started off late because of a late night. Dishes to put away. Still hot and muggy, but a bit better. We did have fun going to the farmers' market:

Seriously, way more practical than a stroller :-) But then, then I pushed it. Tried to sew and play. Tried to sew some more. And twiddle with Etsy. And take some photos. Crafty greedy guts I was, but there was something else...Some kind of feeling about "why is it that I've found something that I love to do at exactly the time in my life when it's probably the most difficult to do it?" and, I quote, "Safiya, getting frustrated doesn't actually help you do what you want to do" Upon hearing those words come out of my mouth....well....

I'd like to say that I took it down a notch. It happened, kind of. She had a blast filling up beanbags with buckwheat hulls (child labour - ha!), climbing all over my back as I pretended to be a mountain, some reading....but there was also t.v. and more t.v., too hot and unmotivated to walk to the park, and this day has left me feeling a bit guilty, a bit isolated, and in the middle of it, like I wanted to roar...

One day there's that I-can-do-anything feeling and today finger-tied-and-frustrated....

And really the only difference between the two days? Just me....

So tonight I'm going to sit here with the rabbits and embroider a little on this the knowledge that that rhythm calms the soul...

Monday 9 July 2007

And the Winner Is...

Jen! Comment and story #3 :-)

Gotta go - babe is not liking sleeping in this sticky weather!

Night night all, and thanks to you guys who came round to say hi - more tomorrow!

Sunday 8 July 2007

Sexier Than Cleaning the House

Mr. S. decided to learn to sew today, so that he could hem his own pairs of pants for biking. I found him intently hunched over the sewing machine, sweating profusely...

Marnie: How's it going?
Mr. S.: I bike to work and back and I don't sweat nearly this much.
Marnie: So, you know in Mission Impossible when Tom Cruise is hanging off the cliff?....
Mr. S.: Oh, this is waaaaay worse...


Saturday 7 July 2007

Orange and Green and Some Expert Rationalization

I have a confession...I haven't washed the kitchen floor in a year. According to the wonderful ladies at my Grandmothers' churches I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get into heaven for that reason alone. Vaccuumed yes, spot-cleaned yes, For some reason today seemed to be the limit of not-washing-the-floor-tolerance, and everything was set when....

That's what I've been using to ease the hardness of ceramic kitchen floors on my poor feet when at the sink (and those of Mr. S. - he actually does most of the dish-washing around here). It's a leftover piece of cork flooring from when Mr. S. did the upstairs bedrooms, and it's serviceable, but it's inspired an least one good friend to say "Marnie? What's that brown thing by the sink?" Ha!

What's the point of a clean floor if it's got an ugly mat on it, right?

I've been dying to do this for a while, actually, and already had some fabric in mind. At first I thought maybe a pillowcase-type-thing for around the cork (I wanted to keep the cork, you see), but sewing a canvas pillowcase?

So, ta-da! Roller Mat!

It's just a continuous wrap of fabric around the cork that can be easily slipped off for washing, and even better, if there's a food disaster (if? if? - ha!), I can just roll the dirty part under the mat and bring up a clean section :-) (Until it really needs to be washed, I this wrong somehow? Am I offending the clean-kitchen gods?) And, the whole thing stays put with no slipping because of the cork. Anyway, I didn't have quite enough fabric, so I had to add some plain canvas:

Happy feet, I've got happy feet.....

Now I'll go wash the floor :-)

Friday 6 July 2007

Variations on a Tablecloth

My first vintage tablecloth (the one on top of the pile and still my favourite) was given to me by my Grammy, and I think my Aunt is only slightly peeved that it skipped a generation. I don't think I have too many...yet (ya ya, the first sign is denial...) It's the weight of the cotton and the linen, sometimes the workmanship on something so mundane, and of course the wonderfully cheery, optimistic prints that are so appealing that I can't resist. At the thrift stores it's a whole lot of fabric for a very small price, and every single one so far has been spotless, remnants of practices of another era....

The tablecloth on the table is a double, from when I fell in love with all things French Provencal. From the extra one I whipped up some napkins today - so genteel! (Not to mention practical and green.) Napkins from cotton tablecloths is really easy because you don't even have to measure. Fold in half, rip, fold each of those pieces in half, rip, etc. Then hem. It's fast and it makes for nice square corners. The one tablecloth will make 16 napkins about 12" square. (Only 8 more to go!) The napkins might not all be exactly the same size, but if your guests start comparing napkin sizes, I think there might be a larger problem there....

There's some vintage tablecloth love on Flikr here. I haven't yet dipped my toes into the Flikr pool...It's looks very very deep and interesting and I think it might suck me in! :-)

Thursday 5 July 2007

Define "A Little While" and I Don't Know About This Whole No Nap Thing....

Yikes! It's Thursday already! How did that happen?
I'll tell you how that happened - no naps. This changes things entirely, especially craft-wise. Nap-time is that sacred hour-ish where I get to doodle (have you ever tried to doodle on your own with an almost-three-year-old? no? really? 'cause once you've been hoodwinked into drawing every baby animal in existence and then their mamas, and then their babos, and then their I'll save you the trouble - it's futile. Fun, but futile), peruse a few blogs, write this blog, organise ribbons, move fabric around, daydream about projects, actually do projects, all that stuff that feeds on uninterruptedness and solitary-ness....All the stuff that feeds me.....Now it's Thursday and there have been a million things to say, emails to write, seams to sew, embroidery and....

Well, there's always a way around things, or through, or with, or not, or AND

So, the Good News Round-Up, then (and Some Randomness):

:: I won something! You know how people say they never win things? Well, with me it's actually true, but on Tuesday I won a beautiful purse from chrysanthemum! Just for saying hi! Her blog is full of great writing, great craftiness, and great aesthetic, so I can't wait to see the bag "in person" :-) ::

:: Speaking of winning things, the mistake stories so far are a delight! (See the just previous post.) If you're lurking, please come out of the wood-work or from under the knitting and say hi! If you don't have a story, that's alright, because then we can all gang up on you and get you to tell us how never to make a mistake again, which would be an awesome time-saver, really....o.k., I promise no stories is cool too - we won't bug you - just say hi! ::

:: The Big Carrot (see this post to find out why I'm so happy about this) labelled their bulk section finally, with stickers put on the Canadian-grown items. Yay! It's a start! ::

:: Has it been a little while yet? I may have unwittingly spoken an untruth when I said I wasn't going to do any more craft fairs for "a little while". BECKY, who runs the monthly Good Catch Craft Fair, invited me (!) to have a table at the fair on August 18th. Actually, she invited me last week, I've been holding out....I've been a bit flabbergasted and soooooo verrrry excited I thought if I held out it wouldn't be so lame how unabashedly excited I am to have been invited to this, but lo and behold....nope, didn't work! And it was kind of soon (as in immediately) after I said I wasn't going to do any for a little while.......BECKY's so sweet I couldn't resist :-) ::

i'm soooooo embarassed - i just realised that i called Becky Jen when i originally posted this - oh-good-golly-my-face-is-so-red, especially since she IS really nice and that was just so thoughtless - sorry Becky!

:: It's Safiya's 3rd birthday at the end of the month! Yippee! For some reason this seems like the new year to me. You know how the school year was always really the New Year and New Year's was just an excuse for a party? Well, Safiya's birthday is my New Year. She's already discovered one of the presents I was working on (see the above picture), so naturally I have to make some other surprise presents ;-) ::

:: If you see in the comments below, I had my first comment in another language. Cool, I thought, Spanish! (duh!) Went to Babel Fish, cut and pasted the Spanish! My triumphant look at how easy this was vanished into bewilderment.....thank goodness it was Portuguese, but I'm thinking of randomly translating stuff like that 'cause the results are pretty fun and apparently I have not enough things to do in the day.....::

:: Safiya and I watched a thundershower today ::

And that's all for today!

Sunday 1 July 2007

Benedications, Revisions and Enticements

the cicadas are in the trees
the wind rustles the leaves
and i am happier here
than i have ever been

That is from the first weekend we spent in this house, and this weekend is the first anniversary of that move, and those words are still true.....

To celebrate, the weather has decided to cooperate. Lately the days have been sunny-ish and fair with no humidity, the evenings like this:

and Safiya has been having a good many days with no naps, which usually means she barely makes it to 8pm (poor thing), leaving some time for Mr.S. and I to tidy, chill, and actually converse in whole sentences!

Today I took some paint and wrote those words above my favourite spot in the house at the foot of the stairs:

Like a lot of things, I didn't really test it out first. I'll probably live with it for a while to see how it feels. (Now that it's up there, I feel the need for making it more discreet - it's the first thing that you see when you walk in the front door.) And I'll probably change it back to the original wording... Does revealing process sometimes make you feel vulnerable? As if making naked all the mistakes building up to what you present to the world somehow makes the end result weaker. Oddly, I find other people's mistakes and blunders and modifications fascinating, but revealing mine? All those ripped seams and yikes! and "i don't even want to look at this project anymore" and procrastination so that you don't have to face, not the project, but the feelings associated with the process......

And usually it's not so bad, is it? And if it takes a lot to get just a little, well then there you are. And sometimes those mistakes take you places you'd never think to go on your own :-)

So, like I said, I'm curious about other people's mistakes - it would be interesting to hear what your last craft or creative endeavour mistake/modification was...Minor? Disastrous? Frustrating? Liberating? Everybody-get-out-of-the-house-now!?

And just for fun, if you leave a comment on this post by midnight next Sunday (July 8), Safiya and I will randomly pick someone to send a package to from the comments (and don't worry, it's not like I'm going to send out a play cape to an adult.....unless you really feel the need to be superhero.....I know I do sometimes....) We'll reveal the recipient here on July 9.

From my house to yours, to celebrate.

Days Like These (Last Friday)

Today we spent the day at the beach with friends.
We had such a good time that I don't have any pictures.