W.I.P. Wednesday : “Les ouvrages du jardin des modes”

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I’m in a rather slumpy place…I just can’t seem to begin any of the new projects I was excited about, let alone finish the W.I.Ps I’d hoped to complete during my summer holidays.

One of the best remedies to such a creative block is to surround myself with beauty and creativity. Spending time in the forest with Guppy does help, as does flipping through some of my favourite art and craft books. I’ve been particularly enjoying this one, Les ouvrages du jardin des modes, and I thought I’d share a little of it with you.

les ouvrages du jardin des modes

This book was a 3 Euro thrift store find I happened upon during my Winter holiday in Toulouse. I was still hobbling around on crutches, but I did manage to convince my SIL to take me op-shopping, and was so glad I did. This beautiful book is a sort of cataloguing of the different project techniques that had been featured over (I think) a six-year period by Jardin des Modes. It features many techniques including : tapestry, embroidery, smocking, patchwork, embroidery-mosaics, Portuguese tapestries, and so much more. It briefly traces the historical roots of many of these techniques and gives cursory explanations. I think I’ll just let the photos do the talking. I hope you enjoy!

Les smocks (smocking)

I think the section on smocking is my favourite.

Des patchworks modernes

Watercolour examples of patchwork motifs – so beautiful!

Les Pissenlits du "Les ouvrages du jardin des modes"

A beautiful Italian tablecloth : linen with embroidered dandilions.

Les Pivoines du "les ouvrages du jardin des modes"

These pionies look like watercolours, and the stitches look like brushtrokes.

"Les jeux de fonds" du livre "les ouvrages du jardin des modes"

Various stitching techniques…

"Les ouvrages du jardin des modes"

A bright and cheery Swedish horse.

This book is just absolutely lovely, and has so many wonderful photos and drawings. I wish I could share all of it with you, but obviously can’t for copyright reasons. I hope you liked this little sneak peek, though.

Have you stumbled upon any new sources of inspiration? I’d love to hear about what’s inspiring you. Also, don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too. We’ve got so many new members – welcome to all of you! I’m also getting our Featured Wipsters lined up for the Autumn, with September ushering in the newest Featured Wipster.

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W.I.P. Wednesday : Something with hearts.

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Summer holidays, how I love thee! I fully admit to being MIA from the blogosphere, but it’s for such a good reason : Sunshine! After nearly 9 months of rain we’re finally drying out and enjoying a beautiful sun. In fact, there have only been a few rainy days since the beginning of summer holidays two weeks ago.

I have been keeping up with my favourite blogs, but please don’t be sadfaced if you’ve not been receiving comments as per my usual – I’m just trying my best to be a full-time mostly-on-vacation mum to one very energetic 4 year-old who would so enjoy having a back garden to play in! As some of you know, we live in a tiny flat in the city, so from the moment Guppy is fed and dressed we pretty much head out the door for the park or the forest or the castle grounds…taking advantage of some real quality time together since school is (mostly) out for both of us.

Enough blahblah!

You may remember I gave you a sneak peak at the gifts I was working on for Guppy’s teachers. Well, let’s just say that I wasn’t getting the embroidery done fast enough and I found myself the day before the last day of school with the gifts not completed. I then made an executive decision to change plans and just make two cute little pencil-case sized pouches and fill them with vegan chocolate. I asked Guppy how she felt about this and her only reply was, “Make something with hearts.”. Ok, fair enough.

Something with hearts

Because I don’t have any fabric with hearts on it I had to go with the appliqué method, which looked really cute I think. I just cut out two hearts per trousse – one larger in purple vegan felt, the other in lavender cotton.

Something with hearts

I hope they liked them. Or at least the chocolate in them!

Something with hearts, interior

Don’t you love the wonderful blurry hurry-up-take-the-picture-we’re-late-for-school picture quality? You know you do! It’s like a crazy-crafting action movie I tell you.

Having Guppy at home with me all day has really put a few speed-bumps in my crafting time, mostly because she just needs to get outside and play. I’m sure once the rain is back I’ll be crafting up a real storm again…

Are you crafting away, despite the beautiful sunshine and warm temps? Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

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W.I.P. Wednesday : Grammar School Drop-outs & Haste Makes Waste. The story of my pie making apron…

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If you’re looking for the Sweet Freedom contest winners, please go here! Congratulations once again to the lucky ladies.

Pie Making Apron

I had a rather difficult time adjusting to school as a 5 year-old.

In fact, I actually quit school, at the tender age of 5. Twice.

The first time was because a mad brute of a boy who stole my bouquet of pussy willows. And injustice. These were the most beautiful, silvery-silky-soft pussy willows I’d ever seen, and my father lovingly soaked his feet as he trod through the freezing-snow-just-melted swamp to cut them down for me. I was bringing them to show and tell because we’d just learned a song about about pussy willows*, when this obviously uncivilized boy tore them from my hands and stomped them into a puddle of mud. Adding insult to injury was the fact that there were no sanctions, no punishment, nothing. Just a stern mutterance*of disapproval from Mrs. A. The nerve! I stomped off and was home before Mrs. A even knew I was gone. (Luckily, we lived just down the street from the school.)

The second time was because I was in protest of my teacher’s obvious academic ineptitude. I was insulted and incredulous as my teacher, Mrs. A, made us write our first names in all capital letters! All capitals! I was horrified that this sage-looking woman in her 50’s seemed to lack the basic knowledge of common English grammar, knowledge I possessed, somehow missing the subtle yet important nuances between the capital and lower-case differentiations. Moments after I walked in through the front door, eyes rolling and head shaking disapprovingly, Mrs. A called my mother, asking if I’d shown up. Hump!

Thus it should come as no surprise to you, gentle reader, that I had little respect for the often ridiculous activities we were to accomplish for Mrs. A. She had us use terribly fat and difficult to hold pencils, making it a chore to write, and because once we were done with our busy-work, we were allowed to play in the miniature log cabin in the corner of the classroom, well, I rushed through her little mundane activities as quickly as possible. Why bother putting any effort into it, really? I mean, she had no idea first names took a capital letter after all.

As you can imagine, Mrs. A did not appreciate my slapdash work-ethic, and often had me re-doing activities two, three and four times, until it was to her liking.

“Stop rushing, it’s too messy,” was her response when I’d hand her my work.

Things were growing more and more tense for Mrs. A and I, and my mamafish knew something had to be done. Mrs. A knew I was bright, precocious, and that I had no regard for her methods, even at 5 years-old. Poor Mamafish had to do what many parents find themselves forced to do : explain that the teacher is the teacher, that even though I was right about many things, Mrs. A was still the teacher, and that if I didn’t try to do things the way Mrs. A wanted them done, well, it was going to be a very, very long school year.

“Haste makes waste,” Mamafish told me as I was colouring at the kitchen table one afternoon.

I had to ask for a translation, and a quick one to boot, because I didn’t understand what “haste” meant, but I still had pictures to colour, and re-runs of Wonder Woman to watch, and a fort to build outside, and all of that before it got dark, so hurry up Mamafish and tell me what it means…

The following day at school, I sat very concentrated before my busywork, so much so that it took Mrs. A by surprise.

“You’re working rather hard on that,” she offered.

“Well, you know, haste makes waste.” I replied matter of factly, secretly hoping she also had to ask her mother what haste meant.

I’m here to tell you that I am still, quite often, in a hurry to get things done. And sometimes, after rushing through something to get to the next thing (geeze, I wish it was to watch Wonder Woman) I hear the voice of Mamafish saying gently, “Haste makes waste.”

There was indeed a huge amount of wasted time put into this apron. I wanted it done faster than possible, and found myself ripping so many seams for really stupid mistakes. I was too busy to follow a pattern, and this one is loosely based on another one I made using the suggestions from Bend The Rules Sewing. And even though, in the end, I vowed to take my time and if it didn’t get done in time for this month’s Tie One On, well then, it didn’t get done, I still fouled up a step and have an unsightly double stitch line along the waistband – though it can’t be seen from the front, because luckily it’s on the inside.

Haste makes waste, kids. Wise words to live by.

*mutterance: shellyism, the muttering of an utterance.

*Here is, for your musical enjoyment, the pussy willow song I learned oh-so-long ago:

I know a little pussy,

He’s very fuzzy and gray,

He lives down in the meadow,

Not very far away.

He’ll always be a pussy,

He’ll never be a cat,

For he’s a pussy willow,

Now what do you think of that?

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow…

Scat!

Have you managed to get any lingering W.I.P.s finished up? Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

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W.I.P. Wednesday : Rush, rush, rush!

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If you’re looking for the Sweet Freedom giveaway, go here! Three more days to enter!

I hate feeling like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, however, that’s pretty much what I’m looking and sounding like right now. I’ve got so many plates spinning I’m feeling a wee bit dizzy, but I know it’s pour la bonne cause.

W.I.P. Elephant

Working on appreciation gifts for Guppy’s two teachers is becoming a real priority since her last day of school is next week. I’ve just started stitching this adorable elephant that I modified from this free pattern (thank you!). Guppy’s class spent the year studying around the theme of circus animals, so I thought this cutie could look sweet on a little zipper bag…perhaps with some dark chocolate inside?

Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip & Raisin Cookies

Who doesn’t love cookies? I’m only making “special” gifts for Guppy’s teacher and her aid, but not wanting to leave anyone out, I made a double-batch of the Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (with chocolate chips, because I can!) from one of my very favourite cookbooks, The Joy of Vegan Baking for everyone else – everyone else meaning the team of aids and auxiliary personnel who do so much for the kids and who often don’t get the thanks they deserve. It’s so fun making cookies and cupcakes for her school, because they are viewed as wonderfully exotic by the teaching team – and they always ask me for the recipes. I brought these to the school last week after Guppy’s school programme. She was a lion, and she roared the very best, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her Mamafish!

Cut out pieces

And lastly, here are some pattern pieces I cut out to make two aprons – and if I can get them done in a jiffy I’ll be sending them off to this month’s Tie One On. The theme this time around is “Pie Making Aprons”, which I think just sounds so fun and summery…the flower print fabric is so cute, and I think it works really well with the gingham. We’ll see in a few days…

I can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to W.I.P.-wise! Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

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W.I.P. Wednesday : Wee Gallery Goodness

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Don’t you just love happy accidents? I found the lovely Wee Gallery totally by mistake one day, and what a happy find! Just gorgeous prints and other lovelies for babies and small children…though I feel I can speak for adults when I say I love them, too!

I was extra lucky the day I found Surya’s blog, because that very day she put out a call for some testers to sew up some kits to make soft books and I was chosen! Fortuitous, indeed.

Soft Book

Shortly afterwards I received a lovely and very complete Soft Book kit to sew up. This is a very satisfying project because it is a one-sit affair : very easy to follow instructions, nothing to measure or fuddle with. Depending on how quickly you sew and if your iron is set up, you can have this project done in 30 minutes flat, maybe less. Or longer, I suppose if your thread jams up, your telephone keeps ringing and you notice that there hasn’t been any noise from Guppy’s bedroom in a few minutes – silence is always a bad sign. Even with those distractions I was done in less than 40 minutes, so there.

Soft Book

Surya also had some just beautiful Circus Coloring Cards up for grabs. She graciously sent me the PDF file, and Guppy has been really enjoying colouring them.

Wee Gallery Colouring Cards

Though Guppy recently turned 4, she does usually colour a little neater (she doesn’t get that from me!). I asked her about the jiggly lines and she looked at me, somewhat exasperated, and sighed, “Mumma, they’re moving!”. Well, silly me. That should have been obvious I suppose.

Wee Gallery Circus Cards

These sweet colouring cards are now available in her Wee Gallery Etsy Shop. You should also check out their Wee Gallery Store for other beautiful prints. And thank you again Surya for allowing me to test your pattern! It was a real pleasure.

Are you being buried by a pile of unfinished W.I.P.s (or is it just me?). Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

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W.I.P. Wednesday – One busy bunny!

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With only three weeks left until les grandes vacances or summer vacation, things are a wee bit crazy. Trying to wrap up this year, and prepare for summer workshops, get together appreciation gifts and just the general craziness of life is upon me. I’m so affected by the weather, and with it raining every day for what seems like an eternity doesn’t help.* Seems like when the sun is shining and it’s warm I’m twice as productive…are your batteries solar powered, too?

Remember when I drafted this pattern for Betty Bunny? Guppy brought Betty to school as her nap-time doudou, and her teacher loved it! She asked me where I bought it because she wanted one for her daughter; feeling thrilled, incredulous and blushing, I admitted that I had made the stuffed animal myself. Her teacher continued to gush, and said more than once that she would love to have a bunny like that for her little girl, but because of my inability to sell myself, that was the end of the conversation.

Bunny Face

Monsieur Fish scolded me when I related the story, asking me why on earth I didn’t offer to make one for Guppy’s Teacher (known here on in as GT) and sell it to her. I wanted to, but this was indeed the first time this had happened to me and I didn’t know how to react. I wanted to offer to make her one, but didn’t know how much to charge, honestly. I’d not payed attention to how much time it took me, and had no idea how to add up the cost of materials, etc.

W.I.P. Bunnies...

I let a few weeks past, but every time I saw that bunny I would inwardly cringe. I didn’t want to let an opportunity pass me by, but wasn’t sure how to approach it, so I made a bit of a compromise. The next time I saw GT I nonchalantly said that if she had some fabric that she liked, I could make a bunny for her. I reasoned that since I wasn’t sure about charging her, if she supplied the fabric, then I could chalk up the labour as some free advertising for potential future bunnies. The only problem? She loved the brown corduroy I used and wanted that. Sigh.

New lapinou

In the end, she brought me about 2 meters of fabric she’d chosen for the bunny’s body, and I told her I would try to scrape up enough corduroy to do the rest (knowing I didn’t have much left). She loved it, and it really gave me some confidence as to my sewing skills, because I can see that possibly opening an Etsy shop next year could be a reality. I still have tons of work to do researching how to do pricing, etc., but it’s a good feeling.

new lapinou...

This is the one I gave to GT. The “in progress” bunnies above are still not finished, but I would like to get them done before my mojo is gone. I need to raid my stash to find fabric for their arms and legs as my brown corduroy is gone…I’d also like to make some less girly ones…so much I want to do!

Have you managed to get any lingering W.I.P.s finished up? Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

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*Ever since the canicule (heat wave) we had here in 2003, the weather has just been haywire. Even the summer of 2004 was more normal, with bright sunny skies for most of June, July, August and the beginning of September. Now, it just seems to rain all the time. Thanks global warming.

W.I.P. Wednesday : Meet this month’s featured Wipster, Nicole!

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Greetings Wipsters! It’s the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it’s time for June’s Featured Wipster. Meeting so many creative and classy bloggers from all over the world has been one of my favourite things about W.I.P. Wednesdays. I am perpetually inspired and recharged when I see everything you’re crafting and dreaming up – thank you!

WIP Wednesday: sleepy sackSleepy Sack

This month’s featured Wipster is bubbling over with creative energy! I’d like to introduce you to Nicole who bloggs at Frontier Dreams where she shares her knitting and sewing creations, inter-woven with adventures in mothering two of the cutest little kidlets you’ve ever seen. Feeling harried and overwhelmed by the frenzy of the 9 to 5? Pay Nicole a visit and you’ll be quickly reminded of the beauty in simplicity that is all around us. Enough of my prattle, here’s a bit about Nicole, in her own words…

My grandmother was definitely a huge inspiration for me. Almost every memory I have of her involves her creating something. I remember one year I so badly wanted to be the princess from Voltron for Halloween but there was not a costume available. I can still vividly see my grandmother watching an episode of Voltron with me sketching out the princess’ dress. She then made it from that sketch and it was PERFECT, I loved it so much. I want so badly to make those kinds of memories for my kids. I hope to have them grow up appreciating the beauty of hand made.
As far back as I can remember I have always had some kind of artistic or crafty outlet. I would go from one thing to another but always hung on to everything I learned. When I was little it was drawing and painting, as a teenager it was sewing. I also went vegan at the age of 15 so I started getting into cooking and baking.. After high school I became obsessed with photography. Then I dabbled in a little bit of everything (to many things to name). My friends would call me ‘the Vegan Martha Stewart’. But it really wasn’t until my girls were born that I really got into creating. I really owe all of my inspiration to them. I can’t fully describe it, but somehow when they were born, I feel that I was born. I had a strong need within me to create beautiful things to surround them with.

cupcake hatCupcake Hat

IMG_6244knitted farmyard

Here are Nicole’s 5 Fascinating Facts:

1. I’ve had an obsessive love of sharks ever since I was a little girl and I saw the movie Jaws. Yeah, I know that movie scared most people away from sharks but it had the opposite effect on me. We watched it while on vacation in Florida. My mom said I watched the credits to see who played Jaws and I searched for him in the ocean and pools. I have a shark tattoo on my hip and shark week is my favorite time of the year!

IMG_6178felted pumpkin

2. I have participated in civil disobedience during protests all over the country (USA) for various animal rights issues.
3. I would love to have a Duggar sized family (18 kids and counting). I know that desire won’t come true but I can still dream, right?

WIP Wednesday: Work On Hold
4. I secretly wish I was a pilot,(especially if I could fly those old WWII planes with pin up girls on the side-oh how I love those planes) or a professional swing dancer.
5. Since I turned 18 I have not lived in the same state for more than 4 years at a time. This was even before I met my husband (who is in the United States Air Force), I just had this need to travel and explore. I have gone from New York to Georgia to California to New York to Louisiana to Pennsylvania to South Korea to my current state of Virginia. We move again this summer to Oregon.

Thanks so much to Nicole for taking the time to hang out with us at the Fishbowl! Do you have a favourite creative blogger you’d like to see featured next month? Remember, whatever your medium, we would love to see what you’re up to.

Have you managed to get any lingering W.I.P.s finished up? Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

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W.I.P. Wednesday : Killing you with cute…

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Looking for the Daring Bakers Post? Go here…

I thought I’d treat you to a little cute today…
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Remember when I made the bibs and this doll for my niece? Well, colour me thrilled because her official “doudou” is indeed the little dolly I made her.

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You know how you always hope it’ll be the one you made? I’m feeling very special, especially since I haven’t been able to give my little niece a squeeze or a kiss yet…darn Atlantic Ocean separating us!

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I sure can’t wait to meet my niece in person! But this little dolly is a great ambassadrice. Ok, enough proud auntie gushing…here’s a little sneak peak at a little something I’m working on :

Teru Flower

Teru's in progress

What have you been up to W.I.P.-wise? Whatever your works-in-progress may be, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

W.I.P. Wednesday : One for you, and one for me…

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When we celebrated Guppy’s birthday earlier this month, we also celebrated the birthday of a very dear friend known around these parts as Tata Katy. They had a joint birthday party, and agreed on the dino theme because you’re never too old for dinos, right?

I was so busy with finishing up Katy’s gift (literally 5 minutes before we left for the party) I failed to take a picture, which was frustrating. Thankfully Katy was cool with taking a picture for me once she got home :

BagforTTF

She wrote her own caption for the photo, above.

This is just a brown cotton/linen blend tote bag with an embroidered accent. I just measured the size I thought she’d like and trimmed the corners on the bottom. Easy peasy. However, as often happens when you make something you find adorable for someone, you find yourself wishing for one, too.

Brown tote with embroidery

Wrinkled, because I’ve been using it all week!


Embroidery detail

Isn’t she sweet?

Lining Detail

Lovely floral lining from my stash. I found it vaguely Japanese.

I have to be honest, I’ve been loving up my new tote all week. It’s perfect for lugging lessons to and from work in style. I wish I had more of that chocolate coloured fabric, but it was just some left-over curtains in my stash…and it’s nearly gone now.

The embroidery pattern is a Sublime Stitching freebie that I found via Florista’s flickr stream…the morning of the birthday party! But like Florista, I just had to stitch it right away it’s so sweet. I have a feeling I’ll be using this embroidery pattern again…

I’ve got a 60-Day Project update coming soon, and don’t forget about Sweet Freedom Saturdays! You make anything you’d like from Sweet Freedom and then post it – couldn’t be easier!

What have you been up to W.I.P.-wise? Whatever your works-in-progress may be, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

W.I.P. Wednesday : Meet May’s featured Wipster, Carmen!

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I’m very excited to present May’s featured Wipster, Carmen, who blogs at About a girl… Carmen was one of many unexpected blessings that grew from my accident. A fellow runner, she left me some very encouraging words when I really needed them – thanks again! After a visit to her blog I found we had more in common than just our love of running, and I’ve been a regular reader ever since.

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A super-cute doll by Carmen

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Super-Knitting Skillz!

Carmen is a Canadian crafting Mamma, and she is one of my knitting heros – she can knit socks! That is so rock and roll in the crafting world! I hope I someday get to hang out with Carmen so she can teach me how to get crazy with the knitting needles, but for now, I give you Carmen in her own words…

I think my crafty bone comes from two sources. My Mom, who was an artist (an oil painter) and studied art, and therefore raised me doing all sorts of craft adventures – we sold fleece mitts and origami bird earrings at community hall craft sales to name a couple. But, I was surrounded by her personal craftiness – quilting, sewing, knitting (she even owned a knitting machine!). The second source would be my Art class I took in Grade 12. I had a spot open for an extra option and thought, what the heck, I’ll try art. That decision moved me from following the sciences to heading to an Art College. I studied photography, drawing, screen printing, and acrylic painting for five years. I let all of it slide until my daughter was born, in 2007. Being at home with her I wanted to take the opportunity to learn new things and get back to my artsy roots (I work in the Oil & Gas Industry). I took two cake decorating classes, re-took up knitting, took a crochet class, and have recently started quilting. I love it. I hope I can inspire my kids the same way my Mom inspired me.

Five Random Facts About Carmen:

1. I live in the same city I was born, and in practically the same neighborhood. I have lived two other places (one being East Africa) but I always knew the prairies were my home.
2. I have played music since the age of 3 and have my Grade 12 in piano in Royal Conservatory. I grew up playing duets in the church with my Mom, and hated doing music festivals or competitions.
3. I am addicted to Starbucks. I have at least one latte a day. Usually a Chai or a Caramel Macchiato.
4. I am turning 30 this year and I’m not scared about it. I’m very happy with where I’m at in life. I did have a hard time turning 25 though, not sure why.
5. One of the most interesting places I have travelled is Japan. I would still love to go to Thailand, New Zealand and Australia. Oh and Ireland too. Mind you, I could probably add alot of other places to that list. There you go, I love to travel!

Thanks so much to Carmen for opening up and sharing some of her craftiness! Is there a creative blogger out there you’d like to learn more about? Let me know! Just email me or leave me a comment and we’ll try and get them on the featured Wipster list!

Little update : In last week’s W.I.P. Wednesday post I told you about the Tie One On Aprons – well Amy’s got the gallery up. Go check it out if you’re looking to be inspired!

I have some major blog reading & post writing to catch up on this week – including updates on the 60-Day Project, Guppy’s birthday and more!

Have you managed to get any lingering W.I.P.s finished up? Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.