December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve with my family - it makes me so happy :)

Finally I have my family together for a nice length of time over the festive season, Jemma worked up until the 18th and Craig and I drove in to collect her on Sunday morning.   
With Christmas orders for my Etsy shop winding down I have not been as busy sewing for past few days.  I do enjoy running my shop, especially creating new things and seeing them off to new homes all over the world. The micro pets and the bookmarks and even one of the cake bunting toppers sold.  Trying to come up with new things to list can be quite hit and miss, but I decided that as quite of few of my animals end up on the top of birthday cakes I should do something a little more special with a combination of the flags and an animal of choice.  
As you can see above, the cake wasn't exactly the best style for display purposes, but it was the cake Amber chose for her Birthday -  just a simple Angel food cake from the bakery. I am going to source some fabric for a special request order for some wedding cake bunting this week in bright fruity colours, that will be fun to work on.
A new animal in my shop is this tiny wool felt lion.
Amber turned 17 on Dec 1st and celebrated a few days later with four of her best friends staying for a sleepover.  Her gift from us was a 50mm camera lens for her Canon T1I 500D, which is exactly what she wanted, although it didn't look much to us, she was thrilled.  She took a vast amount of fun pics of her friends and they all had a great time.
A fierce hurricane blew in a couple of weeks ago and left us, along with many others without power, telephone or internet for a almost two days.  Some families were out for 4 days!  The loud destructive winds blew down hundreds of trees in the valley and caused extensive damage to buildings in the area.  Our neighbours barn is now a heap of rubble. Craig and I had to 'babysit' the sump pump in the basement to prevent flooding, keeping the generator going every hour. It reminded me of the many sleepless nights when Jemma was a baby!!  
This tree fell right across our own road just a few yards away!  
Well I shall bid you all a goodnight now as it gets dark and I have just turned on the Christmas tree lights.  Wishing you all a wonderfully happy and healthy Christmas.

December 12, 2010

Christmas Preparations

Christmas is getting so close and this week I have started to feel that warm fuzzy pre-Christmas feeling.  Jem came home for the weekend having finished all her exams.  We had decided to hold off any decorating or tree finding until she was home, because it just wouldn't be right without her!   
Amber had heard from a friend of a nice family who own a special Christmas tree farm not too far from us, so we bundled up and headed up the mountain on Saturday morning. 

The snow was falling and there was quite a chilly wind blowing as we drove through the trees.  The girls jumped out of the car and after some rough measuring, chose 'the perfect tree'  Out came the man with the chain saw and chopped 'Towering Tim' down, leaving behind 'Stumpy Stan' in his place :( 
"Not to worry" said the man with the chain saw.  "The trees re-seed quite quickly and a new one will start to grow in its place".  
He then took us down to the barn where we stood and chatted with other tree purchasers while his wife made hot chocolate and we ate home made cookies specially baked with the help of their 3 young daughters.  
After a little manoeuvring in the back seat of Craig's car with J & A cramped up very close we took our tree home and spent the afternoon going through all our decorations collected over the years and hung them up, remembering when and where they were either made or bought.  Quite a challenge in itself now the girls are 17 and 19!!
We tried egg nog for the first time ever, played festive music and took a few photos of course.

Happy pre-Christmas Greetings to you all!!

November 21, 2010

Sitting Pretty

Craig was so clever to spot this rather neglected piece of furniture tossed out by the side of the road awaiting the fall clean up truck back in early October.  I admit I turned my nose up when I first saw it.  However, upon closer examination we discovered that there was really nothing wrong with it at all and I knew it was a perfect candidate for a make over.  

Our own kitchen table at that time, although lovely it was barely large enough for four adults to sit around comfortably without banging elbows and no room for condiments or napkins. During the winter time we seldom use the big dining table and tend to eat most meals in the kitchen.
I have always fancied a round table in my kitchen, but it wasn't high on our list of requirements for the house.  Still, always keen for a paint project challenge we sanded it down and I gave it a couple of coats of oil based gloss paint. 
Once the paint was dry, a hunt around the house for four white chairs to go with it and voila!  My new kitchen dining area is complete.

November 15, 2010

Sewing, sewing, sewing.....

Keeping busy stitching again this week so my Etsy shop is stocked up for Christmas with a few new items for you to take a peek at :)
Like these new woodland themed bookmarks, handy little stocking fillers for children or grown ups.

A new design chubby bird - I have called him Cyril :)
For collectors of miniatures I made these teeny weeny ones...
I hope you like them.

November 07, 2010

'"It's a rather blustery day", as Pooh would say!

My darling husband Craig has a love/hate relationship with the weather at the moment.  Having been bombarded by torrential rain and wild winds (no complaints about the double digit temperatures) over the past couple of days, made me think of the lyrics to Winnie the Pooh's song .  Poor Craig is forever running out to the barn and up to the attic to check for leaks!  Luckily only one was found needing a bucket to catch the drips.  Two days ago there was an almighty crashing sound in the driveway as the metal chimney cap took off, rolled down the driveway across the road and ended up in the corn field.  It looked like a battered old hat by the time Craig managed to retrieve it!!  He has since bought a replacement, but finding someone crazy enough to climb up on the roof to install it could prove to be a bit tricky until the wind and rain die down a bit!  On the other hand he does enjoy driving out and observing the overflowing rivers and streams by going on a 'flood watch' as well as keeping track of the happenings all over Canada on the weather channel. 
Being unemployed at the moment after the company he worked for was restructured, he is a state of limbo, whilst looking out for something new to get his teeth into.
We have been in worse situations before, so are remaining calm and patient.  This has lead me to get active on Kijiji, a local site, where I have been listing all sorts of things for sale in an attempt to 'downsize' in preparation for moving to a smaller home in the next couple of years when Amber finishes high school.
English Antique crockery, old suitcases, woolen blankets from the Cotswold's and even a vintage sewing machine have gone to new homes in the valley recently.  My heavy oak framed mirror is still listed for sale and with a bit of luck should get snapped up soon. 


The Etsy shop is ticking along nicely with Christmas orders coming in including special requests for new animals and personalised pets and my mind is constantly trying to come up with new ideas in a competitive on-line craft market.
Now, as I head down to the basement, what else can I find to sell.........

October 31, 2010

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere !!

The Canadians certainly do enjoy the Autumn, particularly Halloween. There are pumpkins literally everywhere!!  Fields full of them, as well as pumpkin people, pumpkin decorations and of course pumpkin pie.  From memory, it wasn't really a big deal back in England or in New Zealand come to think of it.  Here in the valley however, remote as we are, we do get one or two visitors come October 31st, looking for some treats.  
Jemma was home with us for the weekend and Amber fancied doing a bit of pumpkin carving, so they drove down the road to a farm stall and bought a couple of suitable specimens to hack away at!  

Amber downloaded a bat template from the internet and Jemma drew freehand onto her pumpkin.  After lots of experimentation with various sharp implements they completed them.
In the meantime I had salvaged the cut out bits for dinner, as well as the seeds. These I  rinsed, tossed in some olive oil and roasted until they were golden brown. They make a great addition to salads.  
Once it started to get dark our first little visitor arrived, so cute in her little red devil costume, jumping up and down with excitement she chose a chocolate bar and headed over to the next house with a big smile.  

Jemma has now gone back to Halifax with Daddy this time while Amber and I are home alone to keep the fire going this evening.
This weekend we remembered our little Archie, who left us this time last year.  I said a few words to him under the tree.  It still don't feel ready to get another cat yet, but maybe one day.

October 19, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend

Thanksgiving weekend (in Canada) came and went. At this time of year there is plenty of activity on the farm with all the apples making their way into crates to be taken off to various sellers near and far. With the early morning grass covered in dew and an eerie mist in the air we wake to the dunk dunk sound of apples hitting barrels as the pickers collect the 'drops' for juicing.
Thanksgiving was one of those family weekends that I enjoy so much. Where I get to be Mother Hen for a couple of days just enjoying my family and living for the moment.
With a nip in the air and the Autumn leaves falling we drove out to Lunenberg for a walk around the streets, which were quite deserted with the summer tourist season now over. Many of the buildings in Lunenberg are really pretty ;
A Doctor's surgery,

Bed and Breakfast?
... and a School on the top of the hill.

Jemma spotted an Archie look alike cat chilling on a table and couldn't resist making friends with him. Craig and I taking a rest half way up the hill!

Driving through Mahone Bay, there was much more going on. People walking around, a busy flea market and a place to have a cup of tea.
The locals annually decorate their gardens with 'Scarecrows' at this time of year. With various themes, a little bizarre perhaps, but some of them really do go all out with their imaginations and creativity.

The girls thought it was fun to spot some hilarious scarecrow groups and Amber had her camera with her of course.

In the afternoon we played a game of Scrabble. 
Monday was a 'put on my pinny day', preparing a lunch time feast of roast pork, mashed turnip, sweet potato, broccoli, cranberry sauce, Yorkshire puds, stuffing and gravy.

No room for the apple crisp until much later in the afternoon when I was on my way to the City to take Jemma back to her apartment.
Here we are a full week later (where does the time go?) I can hear the tractor activity outside the window as the harvesting is still ongoing, the temperatures are in single digits now but the sun is still shining.
Happy Autumn days everyone :)

October 06, 2010

October is here!

I really should have come up with a better title I suppose, rather than just stating the obvious!
I'm keeping it simple this week with a few little 'makes' and 'finds'
A retail therapy trip down to my local thrift store over the weekend with Amber, we found a few treasures:
Amber spotted this adorable dress by Zara for only $4.50. In perfect condition and in her size! It was a little too long, so I chopped off 14cm's and hemmed it.

My finds were a super soft merino wool sweater by Gap in a warm oatmeal colour and this 100% heavy cotton sheet, washed and ironed all ready to turn into a table cloth. The rest of it can go in my fabric collection.

While busy on the sewing machine I made more bunting, a couple of elephants, an owl called Oliver and a few more pocket pets for my Etsy shop.

Browsing through the many many other etsy shops (of which there are soooooo many since the early days when I joined the site) I found some lovely items for sale here:
There are so many I could list, but after browsing the treasury collections I started to feel terribly guilty and overwhelmed by the huge choice in Etsy land. So I made myself some tea and got back to some felt cutting :)

September 29, 2010

Peaches and Pink Pillows

Another few weeks have passed me by since I last posted. Firstly I finished my Interior decorating course, which I thoroughly enjoyed and whizzed through it faster than I anticipated.  I will only actually receive my Diploma once the monthly payments are completed, which is a few months away still. Not that I am rushing out to find a new career, it's just something I have wanted to do for a very long time and has given me plenty of knowledge in the field, to use in my own home and hopefully one day to earn some money too decorating for other people.
Now that Autumn is in the air and the fruit is being harvested I did some baking over the weekend. Having been given a large quantity of fresh peaches from my neighbours' tree I googled up this recipe for a healthy peach upside down cake, found on Sumi's blog:
Substituting granulated cane sugar for fruit sugar I was even able to have a piece myself, warm from the oven and it was delicious!

With my course completed I decided to give my Etsy shop another go. I do believe I have said that before, but this time I am determined to make a go of it. Having taken a year off while working at Wheaton's and then another long break as I concentrated on my studying and enjoying the summer months with my family it is about time to get back to the sewing machine. I have been making curtains for a friend recently so everything was set up and ready.
I had to come up with something that was flat enough to be posted from Canada as a 'light package' this means it has to be no deeper when packaged than 2cm. Not always easy to achieve, my poor birds and elephants have been squished into zip n'seal bags many times to achieve this dimension! The new trial run I decided on was 'Bunting' or otherwise known as a garland. A series of fabric flags to be strung up either indoors or out for Birthday parties, garden parties, weddings etc. Or to decorate a pretty bedroom. It was most likely a fluke, but I listed my first one pictured below and it sold the next day!

Now I am off to buy some more tape to finish another one in more of a Cath Kidston colour scheme this time, as opposed to the Rachel Ashwell style of the one sold.  My latest CK catalogue just arrived in the mail from the UK, so that will give me even more inspiration.
In my last post I briefly mentioned Amber's new camera. The one she has been saving up for over the past two years. The Canon Rebel T1i is her pride and joy and she loves it. She has been taking photos since the age of 12 and has a following on Deviant Art (link on the right). Of course with her sister Jemma living in the city, she is a little stuck for subjects to take pictures of, with people being her preferred medium to photograph. So apart from photos of herself and the odd family picnic snaps she has been a little starved of inspiration and subjects.
One project she had been wanting to try for a while was to use a painting I have in my bedroom as inspiration. The painting entitled 'The Pink Pillow' by the incredibly talented artist Francine Van Hove, I bought the print many years ago in England.
Amber asked if I would be her model for the first time, while she attempted to re-create the painting in a photo. I agreed to but only if I could do a less revealing pose than the original! 
It was a bit of fun I have to admit!