Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Craft Wars

Last night, I couldn’t resist watching, yet another (sigh), reality TV show. I just had to see Craft Wars, hosted by Tori Spelling.

Just because I make things, doesn’t mean I’m a fan of all crafting. I don’t like hoarding things I don’t need, so I don’t often find myself making things out of odds and ends around the house. I like the art of certain crafts, but that doesn’t mean all crafts get a free pass with me. That said, I love Tori Spelling. I don’t know why. It could be that I’m fascinated by her father, or maybe it is because I loved the original 90210, or possibly I respect her seemingly endless enthusiasm for everything she comes near. Whatever the reason, I love her and I love the idea of her being connected to crafts. I check out her blog, ediTORIal, from time to time and it has some fun craft ideas. (And her kids are pretty cute too.)

I’ve resisted watching Craft Wars, because I knew it was going to be just like every other reality competition show with unrealistic challenges, followed by catty remarks from the judges. In that regard, it was exactly as expected.

I quickly grew tired of watching the contestants make duffle bags out of assorted sports gear. The three competitors came up with some seriously ugly bags.

·         The first was held together with aglue gun instead of stitching. The poor woman lost because she didn’t have time in one hour to sew a cloth bag onto a tennis racket base. Who would.

·         The second was just a big hot mess, described as “fashion forward”. I don’t think so.

·         The third was a hideous “retro” bag. Yuck

The bags did not inspire, and the anal retentive part of me started twitching when one woman used spray glue to hold her fabric in place prior to using the sewing machine. Seriously! That glue will gum up the sewing machine from now to forever! Ahhhh.

The master craft challenge involved two contestants using school supplies to make a play house. While making play houses isn’t my thing right now, I do have a suddenly strong urge to get me some Mod Podge. I don’t know what I might recklessly decoupage, but there’s got to be something around her that needs to be covered with some kind of paper and glue concoction.

Best two words of the show – “Glitter Emergency!”

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Home Alone

This afternoon I experienced a rare moment of being home alone. Here is how I spent my time.

I started by eating my favourite soup that the boys in the family don’t like.

Then I settled onto the couch with Cici to work on the Leftover Blanket.

Cici became quite comfortable and relaxed after a while.

She needed the rest, since we had been out playing ball earlier which left her sprawled out and panting on the floor.

While we sat on the couch I watched a couple of movies. “From Prada to Nada” which is a modern version of Sense and Sensibility set in East L.A.  (Not great, but good enough for a Sunday afternoon); and “Real Women Have Curves” (Really bad – makes From Prada to Nada look like an Oscar contender.)

In between the movies I made brownies.

It was a great afternoon.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Teeny, Tiny Hat (or the importance of checking your gauge)

Last night I finished knitting a teeny, tiny hat. Regardless of the size, the hat is quite nice. I used Noro Silk Garden yarn which is a blend of lamb’s wool, silk, nylon and kid mohair. While I intended to use the yarn for socks, it is a bit scratchy so I thought it was better suited to a hat. The pattern is the Truffle Hat Pattern, found on KnitPicks.

It wasn’t meant to be tiny, but I didn’t bother checking my gauge and now I pay the price by having a hat that is too small for my average-sized head.

The importance of checking your gauge

Gauge is the number of stitches per unit of distance (ex: 5 stitches = 2.5 cm). Knitting patterns will specify the gauge you need to achieve for the finished item to be the right size. Wise knitters do up a test swatch, prior to knitting a project, to check if the needles and yarn selected will result in the correct gauge. If the test results in too few stitches, you can switch to a smaller needle to make smaller stitches; and if there are too many stitches you can switch to a larger needle to make larger stitches.

In the case of this hat, I knew my yarn was the right thickness and I decided I would just wing it and guess at the best needle size (or to be more accurate, I selected one of my favourite Addi Turbo needles not caring what size it was) and silently hoped that the gauge would be close enough – it wasn’t.

Plan B

I could have ripped the hat back and started over with some bigger needles, but that didn’t sound like fun so I finished the hat knowing that I would likely be implementing plan B – finding a person with a teeny, tiny head that would want a new teeny, tiny hat.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Pea Report - Day 34

The peas have been growing more slowly than I would like. I’m certain the last time I grew peas they were much taller, and didn’t look so scraggly near the bottom. Inspite of being short and thin looking, there are signs of promise as there are a few blossoms showing up.

And, surprise, surprise… as I was trying to find a good blossom to photograph, I saw this pea pod showing off and growing faster than anything else. This guy could be ready to eat in no time!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The 2 Things That Will Change My Life

Over the years I have convinced myself that there are two things I need to acquire to dramatically change my life - the right 30-minute cookbook and the right lotion.

The Right 30-minute Cookbook

As I stand in the grocery store checkout each week, I see the tempting displays of cookbooks and magazines that promise life-altering 30-minute recipes that will allow me to have my career and feed my family satisfying meals. I'm convinced that if I just buy the right one, I will be cooking meals every day from fresh ingredients that will have us all be healthier and wealthier in no time.

Here are some of the cookbooks I have amassed that I'm hopeful will one day deliver on the promise to cook meals in minutes and give me a new lease on life. (So far, I haven't seen the results.)

The Right Lotion

When I watch TV or read magazines I am always drawn in by lotion ads. Surely, if I buy the latest lotion my skin will be smoother; I will look healthier; and I will have a youthful appearance that will have high-paying employers clamouring to offer me jobs that I will turn down, because my cookbooks and lotions will have enabled me to be independently wealthy.

I don't bother with makeup on a daily basis and I'm so lazy I barely convince myself to floss each day, but I'm convinced there is some magical lotion product that will be so satisfying and easy to apply that I will want to use it every minute of every day. Some of the products I've tried have come close to the perfection I seek.
  • Oil of Olay makes some great daily face lotions with a hint of foundation and sunscreen (can't go wrong with the right SPF). What's not to love about a lotion that reduces wrinkles, acts as foundation, and serves as sunscreen in one quick application?
  • Aveeno lotions have an oatmeal base which makes the product smell yummy and sound healthy.
  • Bath and Body Works sells some amazing lotions, but they have a mine-field of scents that must be carefully navigated.
  • The Body Shop offers many appealing lotions that are perfectly scented and displayed in ways that make me want to buy one of everything in the store.

Recently, I was fortunate to receive a Body Shop gift card from some generous friends. I thought carefully about what to do with this gift and came up with the following options:
  • I could savour it and keep it until Christmas and treat myself to some wonderful Christmassy lotion that would make me feel festive.
  • Or, I could use it to buy some useful implements of torture to use for the perfect at-home pedicure.
  • Or, I could use it to buy one product at a time to slowly dissipate the card as I run out of lotion and need more.

Did I go with any of those options? No, of course not! I went running to the Body Shop after work today and spent the entire gift card in one sitting and bought myself all these products.


I love that the Body Shop lets you stack up the discounts. Today I scored 50% off gift baskets, used a $10 off coupon, layered on a loyalty club discount, and I received a free gift. All that combined has me coming home with a crazy amount of stuff. Good value for the dollar.

Look out world - the newly transformed me is clearly just a lotion away!

(If any of you are spending time with me in the next year, let me know what scent you prefer. With some advance notice I can show up smelling like strawberry, lemon, mango, cherry blossom, shea butter, brazil nut or peppermint.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

An Annoying Sound of Summer

Summer is a wonderful season, full of sights and sounds that indicate everyone is kicking back and having fun. One of those sounds represents all the wonder of summer, but oh is it annoying. That is the sound of the ice cream truck.

We live on a short, but densely populated street. Our Avenue, as it is known, is only about 500 metres long (for my American readers, that translates to about one third of a mile), but I’d guess there are somewhere between 4,000-6,000 people living on that short stretch. That population density combined with the park across the street makes it an obvious stop for the ice cream trucks. There are a few trucks that come by each offering their own sound of summer.

One of the trucks plays music that represents the most annoying sound of our summer. The truck pulls up and loudly plays a voice that sings “HELLLLLLOOO!” followed by the tune to “She’ll be riding six white horses when she comes” followed by four loud honks. Given the placement of our dining room window it sounds like someone is in our apartment shouting “HELLLLLLOOO!” and then honking at us.

Here is a picture of our view from the dining room window, with the offending ice cream truck peddling its offerings to the children at the park and others coming home from work, perfectly willing to use their tired state as reason to eat ice cream for dinner.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Scarlett Gloss Socks

I have some new socks to show off today. I finished them last week, but didn’t get around to taking pictures for the blog because I was distracted by the Leftover Blanket and Dallas. (Love that they kept the original Dallas intro!)

The socks were knit from KnitPicksGloss in Scarlett. The yarn is 10% merino wool and 30% silk, and feels great. The pattern is the same faux cable pattern I blogged about back on May 7. It is definitely right up there on my list of favourite patterns. I still marvel at the cables made without a cable needle – fantastic!

Next up, I’m diving into a ball of Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn. I’ve always wanted to make something from Noro yarn. Since it is 27° out today, I’m thinking maybe I should get to work on a nice warm hat. Why must all the things I enjoy knitting be only suited for winter wear?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cake Cobbler

Cake party leftovers from work + a crowded subway ride = cake cobbler.

Oh well, I'm sure it will still taste good!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Squee - The Ewings are Back!

I’m so excited right now. I had a long day at work that completely drained my energy, but then I saw a TV ad that reminded me that the Ewings are coming back tomorrow! OMG – I am so excited for the return of Dallas!

I know it will most likely be a big load of crap, but still… J.R., Bobby and Sue-Ellen will be back in my living room tomorrow night. I’ve heard that even Charlene Tilton will show up at some point. She has to be the worst actor in TV history, high up on the so bad it is good list.

Forgive me if I don’t post a picture of the socks I finished yesterday. I will get to them by the weekend, but for now I’m all about waiting for Dallas!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Back to Basics

I ate an amazing cupcake on Friday which sent visions of weekend baking running through my head. However, it is 30° out today, so turning on the oven doesn’t seem like the best idea. What’s a girl to do? Get back to basics and make some good old Rice Krispies squares.

I had visions of cutting them up and plating them for beautiful blog picture, but by the time I woke up from a brief nap there was a significant dent in the, once full, pan.

I couldn’t even get the pictures taken without someone’s hands making their way into the picture.

Tonight, in spite of the eat, I knit.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Things I See in the City

I love living in the city, there are so many great things to see. I think I’m going to have to start carrying my camera with me wherever I go, so I can snap some pics and share the sights with you.

Here is a sight from our balcony, yesterday evening. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but there was rain, sun and a double rainbow.

Today, when I didn’t have my camera with me I saw the following:

·         Walking from the subway to the office, I saw three women eating breakfast on a diner patio. They were dressed as three Statues of Liberty, complete with full-length green gowns, green crowns, and green face and hand make up. They were fantastic.

·         Coming out of the subway on my way home there was a busker, playing a harp. I don’t usually think of the harp as a portable instrument.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

False Deadlines

I’m at it again… I’ve decided I must knit a pair of socks in June, and in the spirit of creating a false deadline, I’ve decided I must have them done no later than June 10. Why? No reason that I can even begin to come up with. I don’t know what I will do with the socks. It is too warm out to wear wool socks and I have no idea if I will keep them, give them away as a gift or sell them.

I do know I used my recently purchased swift to wind the yarn and once I did that I felt I had started a project that must now be finished.

I decided to Google “false deadlines” to see what comes up. Amusingly one of the top hits was for a website for Procrastinators Anonymous. I’m not going to bother linking to it as it is an irritatingly bad website that doesn’t deserve routing traffic too. Apparently creating a false (i.e. early) deadline is a good tool for procrastinators.

Most of the other sites seemed to be about lamenting the erosion of office professionalism with the use of unsuccessful false deadlines. That line of thought was too boring for me to bother looking at those sites.

The good news is that I think I can beat my deadline and have the socks finished by June 9 (likely in the wee morning hours, also known as the night of June 8). All I have to do is stay focused and get well past the heel turn by the end of this evening.

I’m already planning my next project, with a false deadline for completion by the end of June. It is a wool hat, with no conceivable use as we head into the warmest months of the year.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Back Off Mint!

I’ve heard that mint is an invasive plant, quick to take over the garden if you let it. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see my mint plant trying to send out a runner to get into the action with the impatiens and fuchsia plants.

The Pea Report – Day 17

The peas continue to grow onward and upward and have started to attach themselves to the supports.

Cici is showing a bit too much interest in the stick that will eventually support the peas (if she doesn’t figure out how to get her jaw on it first.)

Monday, June 4, 2012


A friend of mine recently suggested that I should come up with a craft idea for used staples. My mind being what it is, I brushed her off with some sarcastic remark and then couldn’t put the idea to rest without further consideration.

Off to the wonderful wondrous web I went and the best I could come up with is the following:
  • Put some in a sealed container then shake to make a rudimentary percussion instrument.
  • If you can straighten them out well enough, you could try reusing them in the stapler (try a few at a time).
  • Put them on a magnet base and use ‘em to make cool little sculptures.
  • Make a small plaster cast of what ever you want, melt a load of staples with a blow torch into it (Don’t breath the fumes). Pristo presto you have a steel ornament. (the internet skeptics don’t feel this is a realistic idea and the staples will only melt properly if made of steel)
  • The staples can be used to make a house number on a polymer clay tablet. Make sure you use dark color clay so the staples will be visible. Squeeze each staple into clay to form numbers, or letters, burn the tablet by instructions, cover with polish. Now hang it, or use as decorative item.
  • Bang them around a strip of fabric, rubber or leather, glue fabric on the inside. You have a unique bracelet.
  • Decorate candles with them. Push staples into the candle to make a pattern or initial.
  • Form tiny letters out of them for homemade cards or scrap booking.

I think I will take a pass on the staple art idea, since you don’t always know where those staples have been. (And specifically in this case because I do know where those staples have been!)

If I have to pick from the list above, I’m thinking some staple events are worth remembering so I'm going with homemade cards or scrap booking (even though scrap booking is a stupid word that should never have become a verb.)

Get well soon my friend!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Staying Inside and Baking Banana Oatmeal Muffins

It has been a rainy miserable weekend. Although miserable outside, inside was just fine. We haven’t done much, other than sit around, but the bonus is that we had a wonderful visitor on Saturday that seemed to agree it was better to stay on our couch, rather than face the miserable city. The end result was a great visit that involved some movies, knitting, crocheting, along with some love from Cici, and lasted until pancakes were consumed this morning.

While pancakes should have satisfied my inner Martha, I decided to end today by baking muffins. Inspired by the Mennonite Girls, I’ve just made a batch of Banana Oatmeal Muffins.

I love it when 22 minutes in the oven turns this…

Into this…

They are still cooling, so the voting hasn’t taken place yet, but they look and smell delicious.

Movie reviews

Drive = Good movie

Bad Teacher = Bad Movie (although I did laugh at a few points)