Monday, 29 September 2014

Dirt under the fingernails

Summer Columbine - self planted.
I broke myself this weekend. It was one of those stunning fall weekends that allow to cling to summer hope. Sunny skies and 25c. It was perfect for tackling the slightly neglected backyard. In general, I find our backyard an oasis. Sure, it's a little rustic. Yep, that's a patch of buttercups, and over there are some dandelions, and under that tree there is a haven for clover, but you know what, bees like clover. 
Finnegan is a fan of the backyard too.

However, in late August, things start to die. And not the pretty fade or the bright explosion of colour die, but ugly death throws die. And in my OCD brain, something snapped. I couldn't handle it for another season, couldn't face the death and decay of the winter until their spindly corpses get covered by the snow, so I started to pull weeds. At first it was meant to be a clean up, but then it became a war. And when to roots went deeper, so did I, and soon it was trench warfare. The roots went under rocks, so I dug up the rocks. And the rocks became small boulders, so I dug up the boulders. And then I tried to pick up my broken body and saw a giant hole. And it was three hours later, and I hadn't had any water and it was 25c, and I'm crazy.
Three loads of dirt and rocks galore.

This weekend, I will rebuild the bed with nice, weed-free soil and use the boulders as stabilising walls.  I will plant bulbs that will announce the coming of next year's spring, and save space for a new bunch of perennials that will flow through the summer like a symphony of colour.  But this week, I will ice and heat and take ibuprofen and marvel at the hole in the backyard.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Fleet of Foxes - craft room update

It's been a busy couple of weeks, what with getting the Etsy shop up and running, travelling to Ottawa and now being sick (the last two often go hand in hand). I've been taking a bit of a mental break...a break from thinking. Thinking can be exhausting, and when I'm already exhausted, the thinking tends to be less productive. But this does not translate into idleness. My hands still go even when my brain doesn't.  So here are a couple of the projects I've been working on:

For my birthday this year, we went camping and driving around the Northumberland shore.
Umm, is that bacon?  I like bacon.  Give me the bacon.
We also popped into a couple of artisan businesses, such as the Seafoam Lavender Farm,
Smells like heaven.  Unfortunately, frolicking was frowned upon.  Sniffing was okay.
the Tatamagouche Brewery
Frolicking was looked upon favourably.

Cosy, soft beret, perfect for fall, and making you all green with envy.

and the Lismore Sheep Farm. The lavender oil I bought became this, the beer Jeff bought was declared delicious, and this week, the yummy yarn I purchased without any concrete plan became this:
I've also been making a small army of adorable woodland creatures. I think they will become Christmas ornaments and possibly a child's mobile. I'll keep you posted.

Finally, I've been hooking some new boot cuffs. I heard fairly resoundingly that folks were pretty keen on these, my first crochet project. As such, I thought I'd try some additional stitches to get something new and fun going.

Happy Friday!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Just Bliss - Vintage Patterns 3

So far, Jeff has escaped the inevitable and unenviable position of guinea pig for my designs.  Many men are not so lucky, as evidenced by this wickedly awesome tumblr "dedicated to the wretched creatures abused for economic gains by their Etsy girlfriends"- Sad Etsy Boyfriends.  But that could all change if I were to start applying my skills to some of these true remarkable patterns.  We've already seen the suspected Pom-Pom Killer, but there are so many other stellar options.

Clark is both honoured and dismayed.
Honoured to be featured in the Guinness Book of Records,
dismayed to find it's for the world's ugliest tie.
 Let's begin with accessories.  Every man's wardrobe should include a solid black silk tie.  Other ties based on need and taste should also be included.  I can even get behind one or two novelty ties for the Christmas season, though I am likely in the minority.  Granted, I don't always have my finger on the pulse of men's fashion, but I don't think that one needs a 'crochet tie for the country look', nor do I believe that this tie is or was ever 'right in fashion' as claimed by the pattern.

Full frontal coverage also helps in those awkward
situations when your secretary wears that extra tight
angora sweater and mini skirt.  Good golly, what
women get away with these days.

Some days call for a button down shirt, but not a tie, and certainly not a jacket.  What do you do?  This guy was lucky enough to have a significant other not only to make him a dickey, but this exceptional sweater vest.  He was even luckier to have that significant other understand that it's not only important to keep the core of your body warm, but the boys warm too - a double dickey, if you will.

Hmm, tell me Charles, have you heard the crazy stories that the folks in the North are
telling us about Franklin?  Through my bathtub reenactments, I can tell you
they are completely divorced from reality.  Best ignore them until the 21st century.
Art hey, well isn't that the damnedest thing.
Sweaters are an important part of any Canadian wardrobe.  It's cold as heck in the winter here in Nova Scotia.  And, we're very environmental conscious in this house (also cheap), so we try very hard to layer rather than crank the furnace.  I actually have nothing in particular against these sweaters, except that they're knit in a very fine gauge and I have the attention span of a small child.  I'm more interested in the staging for the photo.  How do they come up with these things?  Does the yarn company still own these sculptures, because holy heck, they're gorgeous, and I can't even begin to think what they'd be worth these days.  Somehow though, I doubt very much the political correctness of the conversation.

Happy Friday everyone!


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Et tu, Brute?

I was in Ottawa for work this past week and early this week. It is always a full schedule with very little down time, but I do quite enjoy visits to our nation's capital. The city is super vibrant, embracing each season with gusto. Winterlude begets spring flowers, transitions to festival season, changes to fall colours and back again. The city is bursting with museums, music and food. I love to cook, and I really appreciate a well cooked meal. I know that I am not the simplest person to accommodate, give my many food special needs, but I've had some brilliant meals in Ottawa.

Some of my favourite spots to eat when visiting:
Play - the menu is constantly shifting, masterfully incorporating new flavours and cutting edge, fresh, local ingredients. Whenever I sit down, I self identify as 'that' patron, the one with a million questions, the difficult diet and a self proclaimed foodie. Play actually embraces all of these things, and the staff know their shit. The wait staff do not hesitate to explain each dish, what's adjustable and what is off the table. I love the full engagement. Pricey, yes. Worth every penny, also yes.

Just look at it!!!
The Albion Rooms - go and order the Marcus Brutus right now. It's the best Cesar you've ever had, isn't it? It's a thing of beauty - normally I would quibble about the cucumber garnish (I'm a full on spicy bean girl), but since they use it as a base for a multi layered stack of in house made chorizo and pancetta, I really can't fault them. It's also all about the Walter's Cesar mix, delicious locally made blend of fresh tomatoes and New Brunswick clam juice. I could go on and on about it, but let it be known that the food is equally good!

The Zen Kitchen - this is a new find for me. It's a vegan and gluten free restaurant on the edge of Chinatown. This is vegan fine dining. The setting is upscale but patchouli, no speeches, just really good food. I had the polenta fries with the Zen Burger. It was Divine. Avocado, smoked mushrooms, fresh veggies and a gluten free onion ring. So so good.

Jeff recently got himself a new phone
with a fancy camera and fancy editing app. 
I am mightily jealous. 
Jeff came to join me at the end of my first week.  He was mightily excited by the Ottawa craft beer scene.  He declared their IPAs passable, but many of their more experimental ales exceptional.  We were also treated to fairly underwhelming weather, but it did not damper our enthusiasm for the Ottawa Folk Festival.  The highlight?  Without a doubt, The War on Drugs.

See you tomorrow for Just Bliss - Vintage Patterns!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Launched! Etsy is live.

Holy smokes guys.  After years of humming, hawing, rationalising, procrastinating, planning, abandoning plans and reinitialising plans, I can finally say, I have an Etsy shop!!

The shop is going to be focused on creations from vintage patterns, re-purposed fabrics and upcycled treasures.  From there, we will that the genie is out of the bottle, who knows what will inspire me next.

Some tidbits from the shop:

I love the bee trim on the pocket

I've been busy making aprons using pillowcases and vintage napkins.  I think they've turned out pretty spiffy.  Viva l'apron revolution! (or however that might translate). 

Jeff was very accommodating in helping me with the photo shoot.  I noticed in going back over the shots, he was particularly thorough in capturing a lot of the back detail.  Such a sweet boy.

Hope you'll drop on by and have a look!

My butt is about to become an Etsy superstar.

I've also been working on:
Upcycled Sweater Beds

Saucy Pin-Up Girl Tree Ornaments
Fin & Batty Finnegan Pillows
And Granny Chic Vintage Teacup Candles

Friday, 5 September 2014

Just Bliss - Vintage Patterns 2

Kids, before they begin to exercise their free-will (temper tantrums) are routinely used as experimental fashion dolls by their parents (mothers).  Preppy boys and princess girls, punk-rock babies and lumber jack hipsters...with kids, anything goes.  Here are some delightful knit wears that alternately scream, 'please lure me to the playground where you can steal my lunch money and give me a hard lesson in schoolyard politics' and 'oh God, I better start exercising my free-will much sooner than many of my contemporaries'.

Really Mom?  This doesn't seem very safe for someone that may only
barely in the zombie-walking stage of development.  Concussions will abound.
Ponchos occupy the margins of fashion.  Clint Eastwood managed to pull them off, but he was decidedly bad-ass while wearing them.  I enjoy a good fashion cape, but a poncho only ever makes me look like I put up a mean fight getting out of bed, but ultimately my blankets won.

On the upside, if the tricycle has an unfortunate rollover
these knits should have enough padding to ensure little injury.
This kid looks like they were having some difficulty finding their motivation for the fashion shoot.  The expression is one of reluctant compliance.  I sure hope there was an ice cream reward for having to model this little number.
Smile while you can, Suzy.  Smile while you can.
What gets me about so many of these patterns is just how much work is involved to create much work going into something that will have little Suzy in tears and shaking her fist at the sky soon enough.  Potentially adorable to some, this outfit doesn't even serve a practical purpose unless she is actually one of Santa's elves and Santa doesn't heat his workshop.  In the snow it would be useless.

I probably wouldn't have picked up this last little book, except that the cover model looked so much like a young Emma Watson, it kind of blew my mind.  Of course, this photo was taken approximately 20years before she was even born.
What Hermione thought of as magical before her letter from
Hogwarts arrived.
Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Bottling Summer 2

Summertime and the living is easy - unless you're canning.
This sunflower was planted by the bluejays amongst our beans.
25lbs of summer fruit and veg came back with me from Wolfville.  Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, tomatoes, corn and beets.  We also contributed almost 4lbs of beans from our own garden.  The next day, I started a ritual as old as harvesting food - trying to preserve it for leaner times.  I pulled back my hair, tied my apron around my waist and cranked the tunes. 

Canning is a hot, sticky business in August.  The stove has water boiling and steaming on it all day, sugars are being converted to syrups, berries are being crushed and the air is thick with vapourised vinegar.  Lots of counter space is taken-up.  Burned fingertips are inevitable.  But hot damn, in the dead of winter, spreading some homemade raspberry jam on you toast is pure heaven.

Oh, there will be Cesar's.

This becomes...

Every canning day has a casualty; usually a jar that fails to seal.  I had one of my jars of peaches do this to me, so sadly we had to eat it at book club with a raspberry shortbread cookie and coconut ice cream (I am not actually sad).  I also had a jar of salsa explode in the canning pot.  There must have been a fault with the jar.  It was loud, and it made me a little weepy seeing 500mL of deliciousness go to waste.  All in all though, a successful venture that almost has me looking forward to the winter.  Almost.