Thursday 23 April 2009

Green Dress for a Green Award

This is one of my favourite fabrics, and I've been saving it for something special. Tonight is the Green Toronto Awards, and Not Far From The Tree is a finalist! Yay! Safiya and I are invited with Laura to the reception beforehand, and then Mr. S. is joing us for the awards later in the evening. I'm really excited for Not Far From The Tree - cheer for us!

I made it this morning, out of a pink tablecloth (the back), that favourite fabric of mine (which was an apron), some other scraps, and some vintage buttons. Green dress for a green award (we hope!) - an offering to you, dear readers, to balance out how curmudgeonly I was yesterday. I was thinking late last night that maybe Earth Day for some people is like Christmas for others. It doesn't make sense to waste resources in the middle of a long cold winter to have a big party, but sometimes it's what people need. It's the corporate "sponsors" that irk me, not the people I know, my neighbours, celebrating Mother Earth :-)

Now, I need to give Safiya a bath to remove the honey from her person before we leave....

I'm so excited! Wish us luck!

Wednesday 22 April 2009


Yes, that's me yelling. This is my obligatory Earth Day post. Mostly, "Earth Day" makes me feel like cussing.

So, two quotes. The first, from one of the best movies ever, The Princess Bride. The second, from Ali, the prophet Muhammad's son-in-law, who became fourth Caliph of the Islamic Empire in 656. You can regard whichever one you like as the most authoritative.

"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

"Truly the destruction of the earth only results from the destitution of its inhabitants, and its inhabitants become destitute only when rulers concern themselves with amassing wealth, when they have misgivings about the endurance of their own rule and when they profit little from warning examples."

Now, I'm going to go back to clapping my hands to save Tinkerbell......

Monday 20 April 2009

Mending Mondays: Mending Myself

The cold knocked me out. The rain knocked the kitchen ceiling out. This means that as soon as I recover I'll be on the phone trying to find a roofing company who will just do repairs and not try to convince me to replace our whole roof. Of course, if the guy with the dreads in this video came and told me to replace our roof, I'd do it in a heartbeat ;-)

Don't ask me how I found that. Sometimes a girl just wants to know how to make shingles. (ahem. he shows up at 4:55 by the way. you know, in case you're wondering.) And randomly, the only good thing about getting a wicked cold and sore throat is that I get to crack open one of the last jars of garlic I made in the fall:

Mmmmmm dill pickled garlic. That'll cure 'ya.

And, unfortunately, keep the cute shingle guy away. sigh.......


p.s. yes, i know it's tuesday again. i started this post yesterday and then went for a nap. sorry - one of these days my body will catch up with my brain :-)

Sunday 19 April 2009

Hunt and Gather at The Workroom

I love The Workroom. Karyn lives craft. It can't get much better than that. And she's created such a welcoming space; it's airy and cosy, which is quite a feat. Too bad it's on the other side of town from me, but that makes it more of an event for me when I do get down there.

And the fabrics! I do my best to only buy second-hand fabrics, but I think the biggest compliment I could give to Karyn's fine eye is that her selection has tempted me many a time to fall off that particular wagon ;-) (I haven't given in yet, but I think it's inevitable....)

The show today was lovely - not quite as hopping as the last one, which was actually good because I'm fighting whatever cold nastiness Mr. S. has and I'm feeling a little lopsided. This allowed me to peruse many of the craft books that Karyn has for sale (and perusal :-) So, my pictures may be a little lopsided too - for a better idea of the whole day and to check out the other vendors' loveliness, check out Karyn's pics.

All of the vendors (links here) are truly talented and it's a joy to see all the jewel-like cases of goodness spread out like a specially selected, intimate, and well considered bazaar. My case was a jumble, as usual - I've really got to work on my visuals, I think. I got to hang some stuff (thanks Becky!), which helped a lot.

Mr. S. is unwell, and since I was feeling it coming on, Safiya stayed home with him, which was just as well, but I did miss her. Lately Mr. S. and she have started a tradition; whenever I do a trunk show here, they make a new piece of clothing for the resident doll, something which Karyn very kindly gave her blessing to. Miss Doll will have to wait until next time, sad to say.

I slipped out a bit early, slugged home, and am curled up pathetically in the spare room. At least most of the day was really nice :-)

Friday 17 April 2009

The Story of the Mountain of Sweaters

I have an Aunt and Uncle who are great jokers, storytellers, and generally good to hang around with. Come to think of it, most of my aunts and uncles are like this. But, growing up, this particular couple was always regaling us in amazement with tales of how things just "happened". Coincidences, good luck, or what have you; good stuff somehow always happened to them. They were always so lucky.

As I got older I realised two things: one, they work very very hard, and two, they are genial people, that is, they practically anyone, and they pay attention. And so, I believe, they make their luck. This was an important lesson for a serious, reserved introvert such as I.

And so, I'm glad my Aunt and Uncle are in my life, because without them, I would have never met Sara (well, I'm glad for many other reasons, obviously), and without Sara I would never have been able to fill my latest order.

Sara was at Seedy Saturday. She was selling recycled sweater longjohns (coolest thing ever - she did the One of a Kind here in Toronto, and she's got an etsy shop - check out the cute undies - but I really wish she would make more of these!). We started chatting about craft, and then she said these magic words: "so I've used all the arms on all these sweaters, but what am I going to do with the bodies? I have a mountain of wool sweaters at home!" Well...

Seedy Saturday was fantastic (I was there with Not Far From The Tree - that's another post), but underneath was this panic gnawing at me: how was I going to fill an order for three (turned into four later) wool blankets all at the same time? That's a lot of Value Village coasting.

I got up courage and mentioned that I might be able to help, or that she could help me? Later that week she emailed me an invite to come over and there was this amazing picture attached:

So I went over, found out she's a wonderful person, and that it was true: she did indeed have a mountain of wool sweaters. We bartered a bit and voila! (although I still owe her a pie :-)

Now I have a tiny mountain of done blankets.

Thanks Sara!

Wednesday 15 April 2009

After the Long Winter...

Hey! It's really spring! The signs are everywhere; today we finally had warm-even-without-a-jacket weather, chalk drawings adorn our neighbourhood sidewalks, and bluebells are gracing the lawns.

That, and the sidewalk-painting/mud-making fun has begun:

At the end of the day, I sat on our slightly dilapidated front steps with mending on my lap, delivered pizza in my hands, dirt standing in for a front lawn before me with dirty children in it making believe, Mr. S. to lean on, and the warm sun caressing my face.

...and I said to myself, "what a wonderful world"...

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Mending Mondays: Patches

Yes, I know it's Tuesday. I started patching late last night after some other work because our usual Monday morning routine was delightfully topsy turvey due to visiting Granny, so let's get on with it, shall we?

Now, these holes look suspiciously square. As in, cut-out-with-scissors square. Hmmm.....

This one, however, seems to be yelling at me:

Probably because I promised the owner of this particular pair of pants that I'd mend them... a year ago. sigh. I suppose I should work my way through this pile and not try to compost it.

Last April I patched a couple pairs of Safiya's pants, and I learned a lesson. The hard way. Patches are great, but it would be a much better idea to actually fix the hole so that little toes don't get caught in the gaping-ness of the old jeans as they're making their way down while getting dressed. I thought that patches fix holes. They do not. They cover them.

I found this really good tutorial on how to fix holes, which I'm in the middle of trying with these cords. In the tutorial the stitching is left bare, but I'll try adding another patch on top, just to pretty it up.

As for those other little holes in Safiya's clothes, I did some basting tonight while Mr. S. read evening Winnie-the-Pooh stories aloud, so I did get some zen-like mending in anyway, which was nice :-)


Friday 10 April 2009


For many years, my brother-in-law Z. lived with us while he was in law school, and included in the many changes that have transformed a lot of the space in our house lately was the re-doing of his old room, or, as we now call it, the "spare room", or, the "kids' room". Not "Safiya's room".

There was no way this was going to be "Safiya's room". Mr. S. and I could care less, but it was interesting to see her reaction when we talked about moving some of her stuff in there.

"But I sleep in our room. (pause) It's o.k. if my toys are in here. (another pause) Will Granny still sleep in here when she comes to visit?....Hmmmmm.....maybe I could try sleeping in here once. But just once. (head nodding up and down with finger pointing for emphasis) Because I sleep in our room."

And that's perfectly fine with us, because just like everything else, she'll make changes in her life, whatever they are, when she's ready to.

Case in point: I've been working hard to finish up an order of wool blankets, and today Mr. S. came to me and said "I have an idea". huh.

His "idea" was that he and Safiya could go ahead today and travel out-of-town to visit family as we had planned this weekend, and I could stay, finish the blanket that I needed to, and join them...tomorrow morning.

This sounds like a normal plan. No problem, right? One small detail. I've never slept away from her. Even when I've been really really ill, the farthest I've been is the next room. Mr. S. has had to endure nights away from Safiya, but not I.

I said, "Um, o.k.?" and that was that. Good thing that I had work to do, because what else was I supposed to do all night? Sleep? Clearly not. Two things:

First, when she called from my father-in-law's house to talk to me before bed, I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried a little. It was her little grown-up voice, and knowing it was coming from that far away.

Second, when there were plans being made today about the trip, when I walked into the kitchen, Safiya turned to me and said, excitedly and very adamantly:

"Mama! We're going on an adventure! And you're not coming!"

Like I said, I'm not worried about her and change...

Thursday 9 April 2009

The Pigeon Meets a New Friend

I have a feeling that Safiya's memories of me are going to consist mostly of me hovering about taking pictures from odd angles...

That being said, this is a good snapshot of our typical morning table. Books, craft, crepes, cookies...I'd be lying if I said that I don't eat cookies for breakfast. (Someday I'll have to share why they get baked a mere four at a time in our house.) As for the bird, Safiya cut up the wool sweater scraps into tiny pieces to for stuffing, which she proceeded to execute with enthusiasm (not the bird, the stuffing of), after she figured out that making a stuffed animal was a lot like making beanbags (she's helped me with hundreds of those, what with the child labour laws routinely being ignored around here):

And after it was all done, the old pigeon finally met the new pigeon...

I think it looks a little stunned :-) They'll both be travelling with us wherever we go for a while, I'm sure...

Wednesday 8 April 2009

That Fierce Love of Making

I really love this. I love working hard on an order, immersing myself with this soft skin of quiet around me. Maybe that's why I push deadlines sometimes - deep down I know it'll be an excuse for uninterrupted time in the studio. And late-night coffee.

Co-existing with my love of work-time with Safiya is this love, and sometimes I fantasize that I really want to live like I imagine the (male, I guess - is that sexist?) artists of yore: hours in the studio, someone brings you food, the house gets cleaned, you go wandering in the city seeking inspiration, you procreate with abandon because, well, you can, and someone will take care of the children....Of course, there's always the problem of finding patrons and having to live in poverty if you don't, but somehow that doesn't factor into my fantasies :-)

I saw a little of this part of myself in Safiya today, actually. She had planned a project, drawing it out, making a pattern, making a list of things she needed. There's been more of this lately; more long-term planning on her part.

She wanted a companion for her pigeon that we swapped for last year at the Queen West Art Crawl from Fish on Fridays, and I knew that encouraging her in this way would result in the satisfaction of working of a longer project rather than just the pleasure of the end result (i.e. me making it for her).

What happened was that fierceness that arises when you are not to be swayed from your task at hand; she needed neither sustenance nor washroom breaks, apparently. The only way she would come to table was if the project came with her.

I was glad. It sits here, next to my work, waiting for her hands tomorrow. I wouldn't give up being here for that for anything.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

In a Nutshell...

Mr. S: "When Uncle Z. comes to stay over, he's going to work in the morning."

Safiya: "Work?"

Me: "Yep, he doesn't go to school anymore, he goes to work. Some people do that; they go to school and then after that they go to work. Or, some people just work, no school. Or, some people go to school, and then more school. And, some people don't do any of that."

hardly any pause at all, and then enthusiastically, with a large grin:

Safiya: "Yes! Like us!"

Monday 6 April 2009

Mending Mondays

Having recently removed the last remnants of Things That Do Not Belong from my studio in the basement back to their rightful places all over the rest of the house (post-bathroom renovation), I was aghast to see that my mending pile had secretly and mysteriously procreated when I wasn't looking. I say "mending pile" as if it's had that allocation my entire life. As if my mother had a Mending Pile to which she tended, and so I too, was destined to have a Mending Pile.

This one got created late last night....corralled might be a more appropriate term. And so, I have instituted Mending Mondays. Today it was buttons. And also, the removal of some embellishment on a thrift store jacket find for Safiya. I get that she's a girl and she likes glitter, but I fail to see the need for a bunch of sequins to be situated at her hip on a jacket as if she's going to toss her hair and wink at me from across the kitchen. She's four.

So, because it takes me ten minutes to eat breakfast and it takes Safiya nearly ten times that, my fingers were kept busy while she ate and drew and we chatted about things that matter to us both, mainly dinosaurs and time machines. Unfortunately, any documentation of my progress did not turn out well, due to the dim light this morning.

Why dim, you ask?

Arg! Snow! or...rain?....Whatever!....Bah!

The bunnies want to go outside and play.....

We made do with crossing the backyard for an impromptu tea party in our currently-being-fixed-up-shed. Just us, tea, and the wood shavings, while it was miserable outside. It was lovely, really....


p.s. I think my early morning mending enthusiasm might have stemmed from the Repair Manifesto (found via Swiss Miss) which might get carved into our fridge, I like it so much ;-)

Sunday 5 April 2009

A Different Kind of Investment

Sometimes, when I sit down to write, the screen stares back at me and says, "Yes, but that's not what you're really thinking about, so let's cut the crap, shall we?" And then my fingers lift off the keyboard and I go and pour anxious energy into something else. It's been like that for a while because Mr. S. and I had a rather large decision to make. Not a negative one. One that we had the opportunity to make from a position of privilege and opportunity, for which I am grateful.

We are not selling our house.

There, I said it. Our lives were headed one way, and then in the middle of yet another discussion I realised: we could move, which would be the fiscally responsible decision (my vote) or we could stay and tough it out, and I would have a partner with a little bit more peace in his heart (arg! also my vote). The two, it seems, were mutually exclusive. That's not to say that Mr. S. wouldn't have gamely gone along, it's just that......

The problem, you see, is that Mr. S. trusts me. I am very fond of telling the story of how we (read me) put an offer on this house, sight unseen by Mr. S. You see? It's problematic, that amount of trust. It comes back not to bite you, but to nuzzle you with big hazel puppy dog eyes, and then what am I supposed to do? Good thing I think Mr. S. is cuter than our realtor ;-)

So for the past month and a bit there was tearing down and organising and making things presentable in Order to Sell, and now there's building up and reorganising and deep breathing because now it's really ours, because we have Made a Decision.