W.I.P. Wednesday : The finished, the planned and the in-progress…

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This is an extra-large serving of W.I.P.ness, so grab a little cup of tea and here we go!

The finished : Staring here is good, helps me to feel like I’ve accomplished something!

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Here are the carp I told you about here. Love them. I hope my nephew does, too.

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He’s quite a sketcher (I sent him the watercolour-pencil roll for Christmas) so I thought a blank notebook would suit him. I also made him a black denim pouch to slip the notebook and some pencils in, in case he wants to do a little field work (ok, this is a bad inside joke because he lives on a farm. Sorry.)

It’s also my niece’s birthday soon, so here are her goodies :

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The little dude’s antenna/hat isn’t sewn on yet in this photo, but I assure you, it has since been sewn on and they are on their way to the U.S. along with this :

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…a little felty pouch (decorated with ribbon on the other side) and a heart pin because they are so cute I’m making them for everyone! I used this felt, and for the butterflies I used this adorable pattern from Hillary Lang of Wee Wonderfuls fame. I just noticed she’s having a doll giveaway today – go throw your name in the virtual hat!.

butterfly-pattern

This was one of the first patterns I ever ordered (about 9 months ago), but this is the first time I’ve used it. I have a feeling I’ll be making more of these in the future they are so sweet. And springy.

Oh, and a new pincushion, because I just love making these little cuties!

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and the other side, so you can see my wonky stitching.

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Now, the in-progress :

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Another one of these dolls. This is for a “new” baby (she’s already 3 weeks old – aak!). She’s mostly done – just need to sew her hair ribbon on and get her limbs attached. Have you ever noticed the less you have to do to finish a project, the more difficult it is psychologically to get it done? Or is it just me?

I started this last night for the talented Tacha :

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Lucky me gets to test another pattern for her! This is going to be adorable – I’ll hopefully have it ready for show & tell by Friday! She has the best stuff in her shop – go check it out!

The planned :

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely heard of the terrible fires in Australia, killing so many – humans and animals – and destroying everything in sight. I wanted to so something, so I donated what I could, but still felt like I wasn’t doing anything. Then, the aforementioned Tacha told me about The Bushfire Quilt Project. Tia Curtis, an American quilter living in Australia, is rounding-up quilt blocks from all over the globe and with the help of local quilters, they are creating quilts for families who lost everything in this tragedy. If your life has ever been touched by fire, you know the devastation of completely starting over. These quilts may not be much, but they are a start, and a great way to show some global solidarity to our Australian friends.

That’s great, Shellyfish, but I don’t know how to quilt. Well, guess what? Neither do I! But I’m committing to making at least a few of these Wonky Stars thanks to the tutorial. My biggest obstacle is an anemic fabric stash, but I’m hoping to get some scraps organized Friday. Here’s The Bushfire Quilt Project Flickr Group if you want to be inspired. Doing what you can makes such a big difference, be it 2 or 50 squares. Others are sending quilting supplies to help out. Just wanted to spread the word, and thanks to Tacha for sharing the links with me!

And to finish, behold! Guppy’s new dress, er, dress fabric :

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Ok, this fabric is just dreamy. It has such a great feel and weight to it. Yum. We don’t have a fabric store in town, but there is a vendor who comes to the marché twice a week. The up-side is he often has designer remnants at great prices. The down-side is that you can’t buy the amount you’d like – you’re stuck with whatever size the remnant is – be it a half meter or 3 meters. It’s a good thing in this case because I got nearly 3 meters for 10E which is just super exciting!

I wish I were only 4 and could have a dress, too. Ok, no, when I was 4 I wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress. But Guppy is rather excited about it, probably because she doesn’t have any cold-weather dresses so it seems special. I’m excited because I’ve never made a dress before. So much excitement.

Speaking of excitement, next week’s W.I.P. will have our Wipster of the Month interview and we’ll also have our March Stitch-Along – I bet you just can’t wait! Try to satisfy your curiosity by visitng the other Wipsters to see what they are up to this week, and don’t forget the W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Group, too!

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Bookmaking & Birthday Gifts (and an ugly yet delicious cupcake)

I’ve been wanting to blog about my newest favourite creative obsession outlet, but thought it would be better to wait until I had a little more to show you. I wanted to explain the why’s and how’s, give you the soul behind the groove…

But I just can’t wait because it’s so fun!

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I am in love with making these notebooks! Don’t you love the unfinished, just raveld enough edges? I think they look so natural. Sometimes I wonder if it’s normal to enjoy sewing into paper so much, because it’s the bee’s knees. I promise a more in-depth post soon, but you know when you’re into something and you just have to share it? This little cupper is actually on its way to a very sweet Birthday Girl. It doesn’t have far to go, but I don’t think it’s going to make it in time. Sigh.

These notebooks have become my birthday gift idea par excellence, and I’m working on a few others right now. I’ve done a pretty good job honoring my Handmade Pledge, and this is a great way for me to send something from the heart and hands. I’ve been using Moleskine (over-priced) and faux-Moleskine (far more reasonable but difficult to find) notebooks, but I’m going to be making my own soon (that’ll be part of the part 2 of this post!).

Rather than typing this post, I should be embroidering this :

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It’s going to be for a notebook for my nephew’s birthday. These groovy little carp are from this book :

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I bought it last summer when visiting the U.S. I think it’s a great book for embroidery beginners (like me!) because it gives a good explanation of some basic techniques and has some fun project ideas, and though not all of them are really my cup of tea, I’ve enjoyed flipping through the pages for inspiration. I’m excited to use a design from this book for the first time.

I’ll be posting a proper bookmaking W.I.P. soon, promis, juré!

Did you happen to see the whiteout cakes that were taking over the Internet last week? If not you can visit Honey B or Natalia to see how beeeutiful they looked. They got me dreaming of deep, dark chocolate and frosting and since Guppy & I are on vacation, we decided to make some cupcake love…

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Clearly not as fancy as it could have been, but very fun to make with Guppy, and even more fun to eat! We just used the chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, but I doubled the cocoa (because I’m punk rock like that) and we made a variation on the fluffy buttercream recipe. Betcha want one, too!

W.I.P. Round-Up

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I do hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day! We had a special day with a pancake breakfast (Peanut butter pancakes, a test recipe for Joni & Celine for 500 Vegan Recipes, yummers!), hanging around in our p.j.’s and eating left-over queso-free queso dip and nachos – while still in aforementioned pajamas – for lunch (also à la 500 Vegan Recipes), and some vegan sushi take-out. We also watched a fun movie to round out heart day – I’m not a big romantic comedy fan in general, but if you get a chance to see Prête moi ta main (the English title is I do) you should, because it was cute, funny and the kind of movie you could easily pause the four or five times it was necessary to re-tuck Guppy in after two false-alarm potty visits, a night-light check, a tissue emergency and a “one last kiss” visit. That’s what you get for feeding your 3 year-old too many starches and letting her hang out in her jammies all day. But who knows?

Enough about my domestic bliss (ahem), let’s take a peek at what the Wipsters have been up to!

I consider myself so lucky to be (virtually) surrounded by such talent and craftiness! Just take a look at these great projects :

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Carmen made a cute little red softie doll for her daughter. I’m thinking she likes it :

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Krys made two adorable stuffies for her “two vegan boys”

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Aren’t they cute? (I mean the boys!)

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Amanda’s pillow is just gorgeous (that back fabric is so cheerful!).

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This patchwork-style pillow Natalia made for her daughter is precious! I love the buttons on the back , too :

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Beth made a mini-softie (you can see it here)

and here are my final creations :
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This is Guppy’s Valentine’s Day pillow, which was indeed an eleventh hour project. I embroidered her name (the yellow splotches…because no, her name isn’t really Guppy!) and there is also purple ribbon on the back. She really liked it, and we all had to “test it”, which was fun.

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This smaller version was part of a Valentine’s Day-themed package for my sister’s birthday. I definitely think the ribbon was a good idea when I see how plain-Jane this first one is.

This Stitch-Along has been fun, and I’ve already had a few suggestions for March. If you have an idea for a Stitch-Along project, you can email me at fishbowlmusings (at) gmail (dot) com – there is so much out there, any and all ideas are appreciated!

Don’t forget about our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool if you didn’t get your pictures to me in time, or if you’d just like to share what you’ve been up to on Wednesdays!

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W.I.P. Wednesday – Let’s Have A Valentine’s Day Stitch-Along! Basic Embroidery Tutorial & Recycled Valentine’s Day

Ok, it doesn’t have to be for Valentine’s Day, but this cute little project does lend itself well to the upcoming holiday!

Because we can’t craft together in real life (unless you care to share the secrets of teleportation that is), my lovely friend Krys of Two Vegan Boys suggested we do a stitch-along. I loved the idea, and we thought you might want to join the fun!

True to the W.I.P. Wednesday philosophy, this is just a no-pressure way to “virtually” craft together in a fun, supportive and happy place. Have a question? You’re welcome to comment me a question and I’ll try to help. Never threaded a needle but feel inclined to give it a try? Fear not! Below you will hopefully find all the information you need to get started on a very basic embroidery project.

Krys found a cute (but not cutesy) free pattern from artist Andrea Zulli’s blog Badbird’s : Musings of a small angry bird. She also has the most beautiful prints in her Etsy Shop, Badbird. Wow!

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Click on that little bear and you’ll find yourself chez Andrea where you can get your crafty hands on this free download – and many others! Andrea is a generous artist and has many free patterns.

Now that you have your pattern, what would you like to do with your finished project? You could make a Valentine’s Day card, stitch it on a t-shirt or other clothing, offer your framed embroidery as a gift to someone special… The size of your project will determine if you need to enlarge or shrink your pattern before beginning. I’m going to use this to make a little pillow as a gift, so the size of my “Love Bear” is based on that.

Needlework is a great craft when you’re on a budget because you don’t need much to get started!

You’ll need :

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The printed “Love Bear”, some masking or painter’s tape and an embroidery pen. These pens have “disappearing ink”, which is pretty groovy for tracing patterns onto fabric (which you also need). I don’t want to be kicked out of the “Crafty Club”, but above is a light pencil, because I don’t have an embroidery pen and this has been working really well for me -just be careful to keep your lines thin!

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You’ll also need some embroidery floss! This “thread” is usually composed of multiple strands -most often 6. You can use more or less of them, but for beginners, it’s usually easier to work with all 6. You’ll be using short lenghs of thread, so hold it between your thumb and pointer finger and you’ll want it a little shorter than your forearm (any longer and it’s apt to tangle up). Floss is most often cotton, but Vegans beware of wool floss which is also available.

hoop

Don’t forget an embroidery hoop to hold your work taut while your stitching – this will prevent puckering. If you stitch on a stiffer fabric, you won’t need one.

needles

You’ll want an embroidery needle – its bigger eye (the better to see you with!) is easier to thread with embroidery floss. Here you see the difference between a sewing needle and the larger needlepoint counterpart.

To thread your needle, pass the floss through the eye, but don’t knot the two ends as you would with regular thread. Leave a shorter “tail” of thread on one side, the longer section on the other. Normally with embroidery you don’t knot the long end of your floss, but you’re a beginner and it’s totally ok!

Now you need to transfer your pattern to your fabric. Here’s how :

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Tape your “Love Bear” to a window

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Next secure your fabric over the pattern. You may want to tape the sides, too, because you’ll be tracing the pattern and you don’t want your fabric slishing about!

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Once your pattern is traced on your fabric you’re ready to start stitching! How exciting is that! You’re about to embark on a fun project with blogger peeps, right on!

There are loads of different embroidery stitches, and a google search or a trip to YouTube will give you many stitchy options. I’m going to show you how to do a split-stitch, one of the most common and versitile there is. You can easily complete this and many other projects using only the split-stich, so here we go:

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1) To begin, bring your needle up through the fabric from back to front.

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2) Now bring the needle back down just in front of where you came up.

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3) Now bring your needle up through the fabric in the middle of your first stitch. Try to bring it up in the centre of your floss. For example, if you’re using six-strand floss, ideally it would come up with three strands on each side. This is something you can play with depending on the look you want, but for today let’s stick to the basics.

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4) Here you’re going to do what you did in step 2 – just bring the needle down in front of your stitch.

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Here’s what 4 stitches look like. You’re creating a kind of “chain” if you will, each stitch connected to the next.

And there you have it! I hope this is helpful and will encourage you to give it a try! My big disclamer is that I’ve only been practicing embroidery for about 6 months and much of the jargon I’ve learned has been in French, so if you see errors or if something isn’t clear don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll fix it up tout de suite! (That’s right away for you kids playing at home!).

Don’t forget to visit the other W.I.P. participants to see what they’re up to! If you’d like to join the W.I.P. list, to share your stitch-along progress or share your other projects, just let me know!

UPDATE : I’ll be posting a finished-project round-up on Valentine’s Day, so be sure and send me your links!

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If you’re looking for some crafty ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts? Do you want to avoid buying more paper and plastic junk that will end up in the trash? Then visit Ellen at The Long Thread. She’s running a Recycled Valentine’s Day series with weekly links and ideas for great handmade gifts without adding more plastic and junk to our landfills.

W.I.P. Wednesday : A Painting Lesson & Some Crewel

I want to learn to paint.

I’ve wanted to learn to paint for a rather long time, actually. I have always admired people who knew how to paint, and I wanted to give it a try. But I was afraid.

For some very confusing reason I had it in my mind that if you weren’t good at something, well, it was better not to do it. Weak attempts at new skills could lead to moments of embarrassment, being ill at ease amongst your classmates or even all out humiliation!

To buffer my feelings of inadequacy, I learned early on to announce to everyone that I was just terrible at art, and only produce half-efforts during my bi-weekly hour of state-required “art class” in grammar school. It’s a known fact that if you tell everyone you lack talent, it’s far less shameful to produce sub-par work, and who knows, you may even impress someone with an accidental success (but because it was surely a fluke so no pressure to re-produce the greatness).

When I entered middle school, Art was no longer required, and I came to terms with this lacunae in my life and manifested my artistic side with ballet, music and writing. Life was good.

Then one day, many years later, I realized I was a closet perfectionist (I literally gasped in horror when I saw the forest for the trees) and that I needed to allow myself make lots of mistakes if I wanted to be happy.

So, I openly admitted I wanted to learn to paint.

Enter my blogging friend Maria Rose from Little Things Are Big. An accomplished artist (check out her work), she generously proposed to teach me to paint. The quirky challenge to this is of course that she is in the United States and I am in France! With the help of her husband, Maria Rose is creating a series of virtual painting classes for me.

We talked about it and agreed these virtual lessons need to be shared with everyone! So here you have my first Painting Lesson. It would be great if you want to join in the fun! Do let us know if you’ll be painting with us. I’m really excited about learning to paint – what fun! I promise I’ll be sharing my progress, however unsophisticated, throughout this little artistic journey.

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Here’s a cryptic little peak at what I’m working on from this wonderful book from my friend Natlaia. To be clear, this isn’t technically creweling because I’m not using wool thread, but cotton. I couldn’t wait to start a little something from this book, the patterns are so beautiful. And speaking of beautiful, go take a peek at Natalia’s amazing handiwork – she’s so talented!

If you’d like to be added to the W.I.P. List, please leave me a comment on the W.I.P. page – don’t forget, there’s no obligation to participate every single week! Play along when you’re feeling crafty!

W.I.P. Wednesday – Blackwork

Just a reminder : You only have 3 shipping days left until my birthday (it’s the 9th). :)

I have so many things I want to work on and create during 2009 – I don’t feel like I can concentrate on any one project there are so many I want to begin! (Please reassure me, this happens to you, too, right?).

To kick of the New Year I’d like to share this amazing book I picked up last autumn, but only recently made something from :

blackwork

Until happening upon this book, Blackwork : Technique et modèls by Sonia Lucano, I’d never heard of blackwork. This ancient form of embroidery dates back to the XVth century, even earlier according to some things I’ve read on the Internet. According to the book, Catherine of Aragon practiced blackwork in the XVIth century – who knew?

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This inspiring book is beautifully photographed and would be eye-candy for anyone, even if you’re not particularly interested in embroidery.

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Blackwork is traditionally black thread embroidered on white cloth, but there are examples of white on black which are also gorgeous.

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There are so many beautiful ideas in this volume, I found myself pouring over the pages for weeks, just for fun, but never knowing what I wanted to try. I decided to jump in by trying some of the mixed motifs from the book. I didn’t actually cross-stitch them, I actually just embroidered them using back and split stitches.

I opted to use my first attempt at blackwork to embellish my 2009 Diary.

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Before : boaring, pleather-covered 2009 Diary. Ho-hum.

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After : Groovy blackworked (albeit off-centre) design on some cream coloured muslin. It’s already nice & wrinkly from bouncing about in my bag.

I’m not sure what I’ll be making next. I’m still looking for some good PIF ideas, and there are some great ones in here. I know Tacha and Natlaia have already found their future PIF recipients, so I want to get them their goodies out soon.

There are more and more of you joining in the W.I.P. fun – please don’t be shy – don’t forget it can be about any work in progress be it textile, prose, culinary – you name it! You can also highlight things you’d like to try or crafty ideas. If you know you’ll be participating next week, drop me a line & I’ll add your link to my post. I’m hoping to get a list of participants in my sidebar…but please, no stress about posting. It’s on a ‘if you wanna’ basis only!

Other W.I.Ppers:

Check out:

Jessy’s knitty goodness

Jessica has some groovy knit stiches happening

Kittee is rocking the canine embroidery scene

Bianca is subverting the dominant embroidery theme

Don’t forget – it’s never too late to join in on the World Yoga Practice Month fun!

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Your Karma & your joints will thank you!

W.I.P. Wednesday : It’s Time For Holiday Decorations (à la pâte à sel) & Gifts

After our fun with modeling the pâte à sel we decided to make holiday decorations for our tree. We have a tiny little “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” that I picked up near the garbage bin just before Christmas when I was pregnant for Guppy. The little tree was in its cardboard box, and it looked as if it had been opened maybe once. I figured it was too good to be true, but the tree was inside, and in perfect condition (albeit tiny). I don’t think it’s a good idea to buy a plastic/synthetic tree, but a freebie on the side of the road, destined for a landfill, well, I call it a “rescue”!

Every holiday we’ve spent together married we’ve acquired a decoration here or there. Then, last year I decided that we should be making new decorations each year, a bit like making a memory of each holiday. This was my “crafty awakening”, and the first time I had the desire to make something with meaning for myself or my family. Hannah had some cute cupcake ornaments she’d made and I decided to make some, too. Six polyester felt cupcakes later, I started feeling like I was maybe enjoying this crafty thing.

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This year we opted to make salt dough ornaments, and we were sure to make enough to give as gifts as well. Perhaps a bit vieux jeu or old fashioned for some of you hip kids out there, but we had a wonderful afternoon painting together. I know I’ll enjoy comparing Guppy’s painting skills – and interest in different shapes and mediums – from year to year. (Note the dino, made with the cutter from Libby – thanks again Libby!).

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You could do so much to decorate these – gluing glitter or sequence would be great fun I think. We used some old (and a bit skanky) finger paints (though we used brushes) and once they were dry I have them a coat of mod podge. The paint got all crinkly and antique looking which I really liked.

Homemade Holiday Decorations

2 1/2 cups AP flour (you may need to add a little more, mix & see)
1/2 cup salt
3/4 cup hot tap water (you may need to add a little more, mix & see)
2 tsp vegetable oil

Cut your decorations using cookie cutters or whatever you like, then lay them on baking sheets and in the oven they go for around 40 minutes or until they’re hard, at about 100°c.

In more crafty W.I.P. endeavours, I made a few more stockings as gifts for my brother-in-law and his wife. We’re spending Christmas and New Year’s with them at their home near Toulouse. They are muy groovy, and I wanted to make them something special.

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The fun part of this project is that my sis-in-law gave me the beautiful Christmas plaid tissue last February when we came for a little visit. I didn’t yet have a sewing machine, but I told her that I was doing some hand sewing and I was hoping to score a machine in the near future. She gave me a few odds and ends from her stash, and I love that I was able to make her a gift using what she gave me. How “full circle” and all that. And they’re not at all wrinkly from our 6-hour car ride…

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I’m wishing you all a most fabulous 2009! I hope you’re able to spend some wonderful moments with the people you love and make some beautiful memories of your own. I’ll see you next year!

W.I.P. Wednesdays – Hang (and Make) Your Stockings With Care…it’s easier than you think!

Wishing you could add a little “handmade” to your holidays, but feel like you don’t have the time, energy or skillz? Think again! The groovy peeps at Meet Me At Mikes have organized a little “Holiday Stitchalong” for everyone : beginning stitchers to “I sew in my sleep” types. Pip and Cam have provided everything you need in lovely, brief and clear step-by-step tuts – all you need is some fabric (Pip tells you what you need), some floss (again, explained) and 5 minutes a day! There is even a free down-loadable template if you need one and a free embroidery design.

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To begin, look at their left sidebar, or just start with Stitch A Christmas Stocking With Mike’s Episode 1. The fun continues with great mini-tuts such as “How To Trace An Embroidery Pattern” and “What’s All The Floss About?”. You can do this! As I’ve mentioned before, until September, I’d never tried (or thought about) embroidering anything at all, and I found this to be quick and easy (thanks split and backstitch).

I was feeling a little over-committed – or perhaps like I need to be committed, not sure – but I really wanted to “Stitchalong” because in my Capra-esque heart, I wanted to share in a project with other people this holiday season, and knowing that there would be crafters from all over the world making their stockings at the same time, well, it made me feel a little less lonely for my family and friends who are so far from me this holiday season. I mean, we’re literally “making merry” together, right? (There are needles involved, so not too merry…).

Here are my (terrible photos because the sun will never again shine and it’s been raining – even snowing today!- every day since Halloween!) stockings :

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As you can see, I didn’t use Mike’s free design. I used Hillary’s – also free – which you can find here. She has so many lovely patterns up for grabs – stop by if you’ve never been. It’s lovely. I also lined them to make them look even more snazzy, but that’s totally unnecessary.

Initially I was just going to do a little stitching before falling asleep for 5 or 10 minutes, and keep them as decorations…but as I began stitching I instantly thought that these would be the perfect gifts and wanted to get them done ASAP to get them in the mail. I hate giving something impersonal, and these are like a little piece of my family, and will (hopefully) be used every holiday.

I love them so much I’m hoping to try to get myself organized to make a few more as gifts.

It’s not Monday yet, is it? At least we’ve got cookies!

Today marks the end of our first holiday of the school year, and that means back to work for Guppy and I (well, until tomorrow, which is another holiday – woo hoo!). We decided to get the most of our last holiday weekend :

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…walking in the “rain puddles” as Guppy calls them. So much more poetic than “mud puddles” if you ask me.

raking“Swishing” the leaves (I asked her what she was doing, and she told me plainly, “swishing the leaves!”). We’re between the rows of trees on the left of my header photo, FYI. It’s called le parc du château, because it’s part of the castle domain here in Fontainebleau.

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What walk in the park would be complete without the spontaneous drum solos!

After our lovely promenade, kicking up leaves with our feet – I *love* that sound! – we headed back home for a delicious snack of tea, hot chocolate and cookies!

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and not just any cookies, these are the “Classic Peanutbutter Cookies” from Ricki’s much-awaited cookbook Sweet Freedom due out in early 2009. It’s not difficult to win over a family of self-described cookie monsters, I admit it, but holy yum! It will never cease to amaze me how something so easy can be so good! And the sprinkles? Ask the Guppy, who was in charge of criss-crossing & decorating. She helps remind me to pay attention to the details of happiness. Cookies = good. Sprinkles on cookies = fantastic! I have to remember to think like a 3-year-old. I think that the majority of the time, it’s the right way to go. Knowing there are cookies waiting for your afternoon snack makes the day so much more exciting, don’t you think?

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I finished up the embroidery for my new niece’s bibs this weekend, too. Hopefully I’ll get them assembled today or tomorrow. They are just begging to be drooled upon!

Vegan MoFo Day 17 – Birthdays, a gift and my favorite thing (in my kitchen)

Political aside :

I was so sleepy last night after waking up at 4:30 a.m. to watch the presidential debate that I opted to go to bed rather than write a MoFo post. This might sound weird, but I feel sort of sorry for McWar. Most political analysists agree, he was slated for the Republican nomination in 2000 (save that little “mistake” when he said that he thought that decisions about abortion should be made by women and their families it was deemed better to to get him out of the spotlight, enter Bush). He reminded me of a little Jack Russel trying to play rough with a German Shepard – he knows he probably isn’t going to win, but wants to show us all the fight he has left in him. Let’s just hope the Obama voters don’t get too confident- go out and vote kids!

MoFo Post :

One of the great things about Vegan MoFo (besides having a backlog of blog reading to do) is that the kids are sharing some of their favorite things. I love reading about your favorite kitchen gadgets and appliances, and so I thought I’d share a picture of the thing in my kitchen that I love the most…

That’s right. It’s not a stand-up mixer (though I would love one) or a vitamix (yeah, I’d like one of those, too). It’s my Wonder Woman mug. I use it for measuring, for heating water in the microwave, and for cutting out biscuits. When I was 5, I wore my Fruit of the Loom Wonder Woman Underoos like they were my uniform, and my poor mum had to engage in some serious negotiations to get them in the wash. My mug lets me relive my Wonder Woman nostalgia (dare I say complex?) in a healthy, quiet way. I do try to save the world, but allow me to reassure you, I don’t parade around France in a stars and stripes bikini and knee-high red boots…though that might be fun.

I also use my mug to drink my favorite tea :

Their almond green tea is the most amazing tea I’ve had in a long time. It smells so good, I find myself just giving it a little wiff from time to time when I open the pantry…Does that make me really weird? Since the spring I have been striving to eliminate coffee from my life. I love coffee so so so much, and it hasn’t been easy, but I’m down to about 4 espressos a month. My one raw day a week really helped me break the cycle. But I think the green tea has helped more.

Today is one of my sister’s birthdays. We are only 21-months apart, and as children (and teens) fought like cats and dogs. We are like night and day. She and her husband have a dairy farm, are Southern Baptists, put large signs for whatever Republican candidate is running in their field…you get the picture.

That being said, even though we could focus on everything that divides us, since becoming adults we work very hard to agree to disagree and focus on what we have in common, and we do have much in common. I wanted to make her something special for her birthday, and this is what I came up with :

You might remember this apron that I made for Jen. I loved the retro look and color combination so much that I decided to make the same one for my sis. This was actually my first crack at embroidery (I stitched up the pockets over a month ago…before the leaves even!) Hoping to broaden my crafty horizons, I bought the Sublime Stitching Kit last spring, but it wasn’t until this project that I actually used it (not because it isn’t adroable, just because I am always working on 10 projects at once!). I stitched the pockets using the retro transfers from the kit. I felt much more confident after this first project, and everything I’ve embroidered since have been just things I drew free-hand.

I know that my nieces (ages 11 & 13) will enjoy using this apron in the kitchen as much (if not more) than their mum!

Also (at the risk of embarrassing myself because I’m wrong) I’d like to wish a happy birthday to our Bianca! Joyeux Anniversaire ma belle!