Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Holy macanaw!

So life has been more than a little crazy lately. For the past two months, Trevor has been finding a way to collect all sorts of old man illnesses, from shingles to kidney stones. We have been renovating our bathroom (only to find out that we will need to renovate our upstairs bathroom because, hey, the overflow on the bathtub ISN'T CONNECTED TO ANYTHING. I love a good waterfall in my kitchen.), refinishing furniture, try to organize and decorate our house for an upcoming Christmas party, oh, and did I mention, I've got a maternity cover until the end of January? Huzzah!

My house has exploded with things all over. Everything is covered in drywalling dust. I fall asleep at 9pm during the week and 6pm on Fridays. SIX PM ON FRIDAYS.

But somehow, since August, a little something is in the works. Care for a sneak peek? Just promise you won't judge the explosion in the background.

I don't care about pattern placement. Yeah, I'm a rebel.


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Sew: The Quirky Top

So, I know it's been radio silence over here for a while but SO MUCH STUFF has gotten done around here, it kind of feels like I have a grown up house a little. Just a little.

Also, before we get started, photoshop has kicked the bucket on my computer, so you're just gonna have to deal with crappy photos. Womp womp.
Blending in...
I've been meaning to post this top for some while, maybe since August? Regardless, I won this fabric over from The Quirky Peach when Sally was doing her Spring Break Giveaway Challenge and was pretty pumped to get it because it was the fabric I voted for. Huzzah!

I got it in the mail and had no idea what to make with it. Eventually, when spring turned to summer and my life calmed down, I decided I was going to make me a top. So I present the Quirky Top.

I used the bodice from my staple, Simplicity 2444, but the altered copy I made for the Mad Men Challenge over here. That part more or less went okay. It was a little snug, but I could still squeeze into it.
Workin' it just for your enjoyment.
Then the trouble started. I planned on making a flounce that would more or less be a peplum. I had just enough fabric to squeeze 'er out. It turned out fine, but when I attached it to my bodice...well.....it was WAY too tight. Uh oh. I had measure my hips where it was supposed to fall, and that part turnout out fine, but apparently, right after my waist, my body increases rapidly towards my hip size instead of gradually.


Now what? I can't just leave it.
So, I did what any self respecting seamstress would do and I added the weirdest little flap things into the sides in order to make room for my oddly expanding dimensions. I guess it works?
I used a big heavy metal jacket zipper for the back and a vintage button from my stash for the enclosure.
I wanted the peplum to go all the way around, hence the, ahem, interesting closure in the back. Whatevs, it works.
Yeah, I tried something at the bottom of that one seam and, yeah, I don't know....
Finally, I finished everything off with some black bias tape I bought from the store. I actually prefer making my own, but I was curious to see how store-bought would be.

Overall, I don't know if I'm going to get much wear out of this because, honestly, I think I realized I'm not a peplum girl, and also, I kind of have to take short breaths still! The peplum makes my hips look way bigger than they really are and I also like breathing. But, I learned how to use seam binding on the whole inside of this!!!!! Which is pretty flippin' awesome!

So if nothing else, that's pretty cool.

What about you? Have you ever made something that really doesn't suit you? Would you wear this top?

Thanks again, Sally!!! :)


Sunday, 6 October 2013

This is Halloween.

So last year around this time I got started on an awesome little Halloween dress that I had planned on wearing if I had gotten a call into a school for supply work. However, it came so close to the wire that by the time I could take photos, it was on Halloween, and I didn't think that you guys would like to know how to make this AFTER it was already over. So I saved it for a year. Just for you.

I had a plan in my head. It didn't all happen. There wasn't enough time. But. The plan was this:
1. I wanted to create a knock-off version of these Louboutins:
2. I wanted to do my nails like so:
3. I wanted to do my makeup like so:
or like so (eyes only):
4. I wanted some sort of a spider fascinator:
Via google images.
5. And I wanted to make a dress out of some Halloween-themed quilting cotton my aunt gifted me.

I didn't get around to doing the makeup, but I managed to do the rest! (Let's just chalk the lack of photoshop up to "Halloween mood enhancement", yes?)
This is me trying to take a picture of the side on my own.
I used my Simplicity 2444 bodice for the basis of this bodice, then sort of just winged it to create the side panels. For the skirt, because I only half a yard and a half (read: no mistakes), I used Gertie's gathered skirt tutorial (the same as for the Princess Peach Skirt), again, altering for the side panels. I used self made bias tape from scraps for all my raw edges (Except the armholes. Those remain unfinished to this day!).

For the headpiece, I bought a piece of waistband elastic, a small amount of netting, and used some scrap black fabric and pipecleaners to make the spider part. That was a pain in the butt. I had to sew the pipecleaners into the inside of the spider body and then somehow leave enough room to get them out when flipped right-side out. I used some holey old (but clean!) socks to stuff my spider with and hand stitched him closed. I glued on the googly eyes and then sewed him onto the elastic. From there, I placed the netting and hand tacked it in place here and there until I was satisfied. This took forever. The netting kept snagging on the spider legs!
So blurry!!!! AHH!
For the shoes, my aunt bought me a pair at Goodwill across the border for something like $2. I think all the fabric and whatnot for the fascinator cost around $8 and the googly eyes probably cost me about $12. So altogether this cost me $22 to make! Not bad!

To complete the look I teased my hair and put on some heavy eyeliner.

I was pretty pleased with how this turned out. And even though I didn't get a call for supply work, I was still able to wear this out to lunch in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

I'm not sure if I'll wear this out this year, I'll have to wait to see what my mood is, but I'll certainly wear it again in the future. Hooray for using up scraps!

What are you going to be for Halloween this year? Are you going to make your costume?

{This is Halloween}

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Grow Write Guild #11: Your Edible Rewards

The last thing I ate from my garden. Well, I'm going to take a bit of lee-way on this one and count my father's garden as my own since he does not do anything to tend to his garden since I moved out. Does that technically count? It does now!

The last thing I ate from the garden (his garden, an extension, or a community plot of my own, if you will), was a piece of pear that fell while I was canning. Wait, wrong again. I just put a spoonful of grape jelly in my mouth. Right. This. Second.


Can you believe that until yesterday, I had never had grape jelly? PB and J always meant Peanut Butter and Jam. Strawberry Jam. No exceptions.

The hubs and I have been feeling rather efficient as of late (not really having much else to do during the day), and have been trying to can and preserve as much of the garden bounty as possible. I knew that the pears and grapes would go to waste if we didn't go get them. So what to do with them all?

We made grape juice using this tutorial. We then followed a simple grape jelly recipe from an amazing preserving book my sister bought me for my birthday last year, called We Sure Can, written by another lovely Torontonian, Sarah B. Hood. I highly recommend it. We made twenty jars!

I really don't know why we did not do this for the previous few years, and sadly, this may be the last year that we are able to get free grapes as my dad might be moving next year. I can say this much, however: we will certainly be heading back there in the near future to pick the next bunch for more grape jelly!

This is part of the Grow Write Guild as started by Gayla Trail at You Grow Girl.

{Not this. But this.}

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Grow Write Guild Prompt #8: The Essence of Summer

To me, nothing saying summer quite like two plants: the tomato plant and the strawberry plant. Since I did not grow strawberries this year, I'm just going to speak briefly on it, before spending most of my time on the tomato.

To me, strawberries usher in the summer. Once the warmer weather decides to stick around, strawberries are the first thing in my area to pop up delightfully at the farmer's market or (in the past) in my yard. They scream: Now you don't have to look longingly at those giant, tasteless, California-grown, mutants they carry in the grocery store in the middle of January! NOW YOU CAN HAVE ME! They are perfectly sweet. They make an easy, killer jam, and they are the start of my summer.

But, once my summer really gets going, I mean, when it is so hot out that I can't fathom wearing a bra and a t-shirt (swimwear doesn't feel as sticky for some reason), it is the tomato that waits for me.
Black cherry tomato
I start my tomatoes sometime in March, when the weather is terrible and I long for spring to get going. I care for them very tenderly, making sure that they have everything that they will need to grow big and strong. I name them and talk to them. When it is time to go into the ground, after three weeks, they take off like weeds and I scurry to keep up with their growth.
Sometimes, I don't even have to do that. Five or six tomato vines have given me fruit this year, and I didn't even plant them. They have overgrown from the fruit that I let go to seed.
Wild tomato
I love the way my hands smell like tomatoes after I touch their leaves. I love that, left to their own devices, they will more or less take care of themselves. And, naturally, I love them in a noodle stir-fry.

I love that the wild tomato plant grows like a wild beast in every direction. I love that for the past two years, a rather rotund green caterpillar with a spike on it's rear-end has made an appearance on my plant, but only for a day (Since typing this I have found out that it is actually a tomato hornworm that enjoys munching on my greens. He's cute enough that he can stay. Not that I could find him again if I wanted to.). I love that Harley guards the sweet little orbs like it's his precious, because he knows that if he looks cute enough, he will be given permission to take one.

More than that, I like how some look like butts.
And brains.
And noses (yeah, we'll keep this innocent).
And some look like something beautiful and weird out of a science fiction novel.
While other look like abstract clumps.
But more than anything, they are the bright pops of colour in my yard that let me know I'm doing something right (And that it's time for some spaghetti!).
Don't you just love summer?

This is part of the Grow Write Guild as started by Gayla Trail at You Grow Girl.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Grow Write Guild #10: This Plant is Driving Me Nuts!


Spinach drives me nuts.

 I have tried year, after year, after year, after year to grow spinach. I have tried conventional seed. I have tried organic seed. I have tried store-bought seed. I have tried seed passed down to me from a gardener who was swimming in spinach. I gave up this year. I won't lie. I couldn't be bothered to even try. 

I really, truly, have no idea what I am doing wrong.

I think maybe I need to start it earlier. Like, way earlier, when it is still relatively damp and cool?

It won't germinate at all.

But I don't know.

I love spinach.

It was the first green leafy thing that I liked to put in my mouth.

And I can't grow it for the life of me.


This is part of the Grow Write Guild as started by Gayla Trail at You Grow Girl.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Grow Write Guild Prompt #6: Landscapes

I'm going to keep this one short and sweet for ya'll.

Hands down, I am most drawn to mountains. I live in Canada so we have everything from the flattest plains to the Rockies, but oddly enough, the first time I saw mountains I was not even in North America. I was in Germany for Christmas--Munich, actually--and we drove down to Neuschwanstein castle in the Alps.

Never heard of it? Well here's a picture:
After that trip, I fell in love with the mountains. We went back to Germany this past Christmas, if you remember, this time heading for the Austrian part of the Alps:

I'd love to say that there are parts of this landscape that inspire my garden, but honestly, I can't say for sure if it has. I love having trees in my yard for lots of shade, but I'm not going to start growing the black forest on my front yard, not when I don't have a backyard to grow food in. And quite honestly, I've always felt quite at home in a densely wooded area. But again, I'm not going to make my yard here like that.

Having said this, I recently discovered my dream home. You'll know I'm a treehugger if you click on the link for sure. But my dream is to make one of these houses on a densely wooded lot, with forest to the north and an open space to the south (to garden and for passive energy, of course).

So maybe one day, I won't be living on a mountain in Germany, but I will have that little piece of forest that I can sit in and relax.

This is part of the Grow Write Guild as started by Gayla Trail at You Grow Girl.


Sunday, 15 September 2013

House-pride: STOP!............ Curtain-time!

So, it's been awhile, huh? I never meant to fall off Planet Blogosphere for the summer, but with the hubs and I both having a ton of extra free time, we got stuff DONE around here. Like, we have house-pride now. Huzzah!

So here is the first in a little house pride mini-series that will be coming your way just for funsies.

When we moved into our house we kept the ugly-arsed, plastic, cheap, yellow blinds up, just so we wouldn't have to buy any for a while. Now back track to when our house was literally falling in on itself, when it had to have walls rebuilt, got drywalled, and then painted.
Remember this?
Well, we picked out pure white for all our walls but two. We did an accent wall in the room above a dark "elephant-y" gray, and a wall in the other room a bright dandelion yellow (you'll see shortly). Suddenly, the crappy blinds weren't cutting it anymore. So we went fabric shopping. Multiple times.

Now, instead of falling apart, with those ugly blinds like above (well okay, those ones are still there, but in the dining room we had the exact same blinds), we now have this:
Do you like my art? :)
I bought some outdoor patio fabric that was on sale at Fabricland buy one, get two free. I had to carefully pre-wash the fabric (it more or less said to spot treat only), because when I held it up to my white walls before washing to get an idea of what the curtains were going to look like, the black fabric left smudges on my walls.    : |   Not impressed.

I also picked up some blackout lining at 50% off, not because I want my dining room to be dark, but because the blackout lining acts as an insulator, keeping the heat out in the summer during the day (we don't have A/C), and the cold out in the winter at night, that way our furnace can be more efficient. Yay for being a treehugger! :)
The back of the curtain.
I used this awesome tutorial from Design Sponge, except I did not pleat the top of my curtains (I didn't think they had the pleating tape in store, but on my last trip I found it so I think I might try for my next set in the living room). Instead, I doubled the fabric up at the top, top-stitched the very top, and just used some drapery pins.
I used some super thick thread to hold it all together, and I put in the weights at the bottom corners of the curtains, like in the tutorial, even though the fabric is so heavy I'm not sure it needed them.

Overall, I have to say I really pleased with myself! They took two days to complete, one day per curtain, but the second curtain came together much quicker than the first. Also, my math got better on the second one. I accidentally forgot to add in some allowance on the first one, and well, my lining is about six inches too short. Not really a big deal because you can't see it from outside. Now I only have 8 more windows to go!

Have you ever sewn anything for your house?


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Grow Write Guild Prompt #5: Listen

My garden is quite busy with sound, even in the morning.

A few of the crickets from the night will not give up their chirping, even for the morning sun.

A single robin rustles some leaves as it tries to pull food from the ground, and chirps softly as Harley chases after her.

The breeze gently ripples through the tree leaves.

The neighbour's dog faintly barks, she's ready for her walk.

A single squirrel squawks it's odd screech, almost like a hawk's noise but the note goes up at the end.

Cars are starting to be heard in the neighbourhood, people heading to work, going about on their way.

The wind stirs again, only louder this time.

Under it all though, is the constant hum of the falls, water tumbling over a cliff down to the Niagara river.

A second dog, Sydney, begins barking at the neighbour, wanting to say hello, before her owner pulls her back onto the porch.

Following suit, a second squirrel, this one much noisier, sits atop a telephone pole squawking and chattering and waving his tail.

The crickets seem to get louder as time passes.

A few birds tweet quietly in the distance, and the squirrel gets quieter.

As the hum of the cars starts to drown out the hum of nature, of the falls, and the birds, and that noisy little beast on the telephone pole, I realize it's time to head inside to listen to a new kind of noise: the crunching of my morning granola.

* * * * *

This writing has been in response the Grow Write Guild Prompt #5: Listen.

And just so you know, while I describe the squirrel noise as squawking (it totally is), and some might describe it as "annoying screaming/screeching", it is totally my second favourite thing to listen to out there (after the falls). To be perfectly honest, when I first moved into this neighbourhood, I kept hearing their noises and thought (honestly), that someone in the neighbourhood had a pet macaw inside that had separation anxiety or something. I finally realized it was what noise a squirrel makes when I went out and saw one squawking at me in a tree! Ridiculous.

Anywho, have a lovely day. :)


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Grow Write Guild #9: The Weird Al

Here you go folks, the Weird Al Grow Write Guild response. I hope you enjoy singing it as much as I do. :) Sorry, I don't know what is going on with this formatting and I can't seem to fix it. Whatevs. Deal with it!
I'm... I'm so in love with you,
Zucchini and garlic too,
Please grow lush and green...
I love that... you feed me and my family...
And I... want to eat your fruit and taproots too...

Let me say that since, berries,
Since you've been planted
Pruning you forever
Is what I... need...
Let me... be the one to water you...
I'll... always weed all around you...

Ooo onions...
Let's, let's grow together...
Watering in hot weather
Whether it's hot or cold, if there's frost or there's mold...
Ooooo... Oooo... Yeah...
Whether it's hot or cold, if there's frost or there's mold...

Why, some people, why they'd plant flowers
Ohhh, when they could have flours
With the right seeds
I'll... never stop watering you... (I won't, zukey.)
As long as you don't stop feeding me

(Here's what we're gonna do)

Let's, let's grow together
I'll water you in hot weather
Whether it's hot or cold, if there's frost or there's mold... Come on

Let's, let's grow together
I'll fertilize in all weather
Whether there's sun or rain, your pH, I'll maintain
And if you stop feeding me, I'll buy a peach tree

Watermelon, let's, let's grow together
I'll water you in hot weather
Whether it's hot or cold, if there's frost or there's mold
And if you stop feeding me, I'll buy a cherry tree

Raspberries, let's, let's grow together
I'll fertilize in all weather
Whether there's sun or rain, your pH, I'll maintain
And if you stop feeding me, oh berries, don't stop feeding me

Let's, let's grow together
I'll water you in hot weather
Whether it's hot or cold, if there's frost or there's mold
And if you stop feeding me, just don't stop feeding me

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

RANT: Underwear

Okay. Can I share something with you guys? Something that has been really bothering me lately?


So, I have a problem with women's underwear.

There. I've said it.

Now, I know you are probably looking at the computer screen right now all squinty-eyed like, "Okay....now where are you going with this, Carlee...."

Okay, so I don't have a problem with ALL women's underwear, just most of them.

My problem is this: I like pretty underwear. Now, I know, I know, we've been fed all this crud by society all about how we women NEED pretty underwear in order to feel pretty, thus we NEED to go out and buy said pretty underwear. Consumerism, blah, blah, blah. I get it. I do. But really, I don't buy clothes, I don't buy "stuff" for the sake of being cool, feeling like I need it to be of worth, so let me have my underwear.

BUT pretty underwear in the past 10 years has gone down hill, and, ahem, up butt. My problem is that pretty underwear is now made on the cheap: less material, less elastic (sometimes no elastic!), and hence, it has a tendency to travel up the rear and give you a major wedgie. Okay, give me a major wedgie. And I hate it.


There. I got it off my chest.

Seriously, though. How does the industry expect us to wear this:
...and not get a wedgie? I mean, do you know anyone who could fit an entire bum cheek into that back portion and have their bum fully covered?

No? You mean you don't know anyone who have triangle shaped cheeks and thighs that leave their body at a forty five degree angle?


Yeah. That's what I thought. And that black stuff probably isn't even elastic.

I mean, check out this chick at this link (I promise it's safe, just Victoria's Secret).

I mean, one third of her bum is covered, one third is hanging out, and the last third is photo shopped out. You know that as soon as she moves, she might as well have worn a thong.

Now, check these out from etsy user EgrettaGarzetta:
Full. Butt. Coverage.

And check these ones out from ohhhlulu:
Gorgeous, non?

See that gray stuff around the leg holes that is creating gentle ruching? Yeah, that means that there is elastic there.


Part of me really wants to complain that the mainstream fashion industry cannot give us pretty underwear that actually covers my whole bum, that we shouldn't have to go searching online for underwear that does not wedgie. But, part of me is telling that other part of me that, really, I should not be in the least surprised, and really, it is probably a good thing that if I want quality underwear, I need to start going to support the little guy, and not slave labour.

Okay. One last mention. I know some of you might be thinking: "Dude! What about the Amerson? You sew, so like, duh!"

Alright, I know, I know. It has been saved to my desktop for some time now. But I have a quilt to make (still), and a dress to make, and curtains to make, all of which seem more pressing at the moment. And I've never sewn with stretchy fabrics. So there's that hurdle too. I'll get there soon, just not now.

Until then, I will purchase a bum covering, but very plain pair of undies, save up for some pretty ones (Ohhhlulu, I'm looking at you.), and learn how to make them myself once and for all.

And, oh yeah. Sorry about all the yelling. :)

I hope you have a wedgie-free week.

What are your feelings on undies? Do you have wedgie-rage too?

{HAHAHA what a terrible song.}

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Grow Write Guild Prompt #4: Inspiration and Influence

I am writing this letter to you to let you know that you are all in some way responsible for my love of gardening.

I'm not quite sure which started first, my environmentalism or my love of gardening. I know that when I was told I was likely allergic to milk products, I started to read all my food labels. When I saw how many weird ingredients were in processed foods, I started to become curious and I researched all the weird and terrible things that were lurking in our food. I believe that this was the start of my interest in doing good by Mother Nature both by being green and by having a green thumb.

Although I had a tendency to kill any plant that lived inside the house, I seemed to have a knack for plants grown outdoors. Knowing my interest in all things being practical, it is easy to see how I fell for growing food.

Ms. Trail, it was around this time that you became an inspiration. As you put it, gardening to this point, was more or less for old retired ladies who had lots of dispensable income, and let's face it, your book made gardening seem so darn cool. You talked about all the different and rare varieties of food that I couldn't resist but grow. Let's not forget that you hail from Toronto! Canadian to boot. And from that first seed package, I knew that I'd be interested in your garden musings for a long time to come.

Mr. Suzuki, it was also around this time that I was influenced heavily by you. Again, you are another Canuck, and that is awesome. Your passion for the environment makes me want to constantly strive to make this world a safer and healthier place. If I can contribute by making one less trip to the grocery store, if I can eat a zero-mile meal more often, then I'd sleep a little easier at night. Let's not forget the David Suzuki digs my garden contest that I was chosen to be a part of! Too bad I didn't win that awesome gnome made in your likeness.

Mr. Beavan, my gardening love affair with you stems from the same place as my love affair with Mr. Suzuki, but I happened upon you much later in life. Bored and living in Northern Canada in the middle of nowhere, I purchased Netflix and watched your documentary, No Impact Man. It quickly became one of my favourite films. I was inspired by the journey you and your family took in order to make "no negative impact on the earth". I feel like my gardening is part of my effort to strive towards the same ideal.

So I just wanted to say thank you all for inspiring and influencing me to grow a better garden and be a better person!

Warm regards,