Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Contest time

I've decided to have a little contest for a set of cards from my Etsy shop. It's an easy one, all you need to do is go to my Etsy Store and tell me what your favourite set is. On Friday morning I will draw from all the entries and send the winner their favourite set from the store. If the winner's favourite set is sold, I will either replace it exactly with a duplicate set (if I have it) or contact the winner and ask them to select from the remaining sets.

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I was fortunate enough to guess what a fellow blogger, Lera, was up to when she was making some soap, and she so GENEROUSLY sent me a bar of it as a reward. I can't describe how yummy it smells. There is a warning on the label that says "Do Not Eat" and I understand why it is there. It does smell good enough to eat! Also included in the package was a wonderful note and a Christmas tree ornament. The timing was perfect and I'll get to that in a second.
Here's a picture of the wonderful package from Lera.

I've decided to put up a Christmas tree this year. I havent' had a tree for a few years because we have a small two-bedroom bungalow with 2 dogs and 2 cats. There really isn't any room for a tree. The other night I realized that there is a small table in the living room that if I cleared off I could put up a little 4' Chrismas tree. Now I've decided that I want all the ornaments to be home-made, even though I have boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations in the basement. I've been surfing the net for the past couple of days trying to find some simple ornament tutorials that won't break the bank at the same time.
This morning at about 6:30 I made this as an experiment.

I was think I was a little bit aggressive with the trimming, but I think I would be happy with these. Maybe different shapes? Stars? Bells? I don't know.
If you have a favourite hand-made Christmas ornament tutorial/instructions, I'd love to hear about it!

Now time for a little shameless self-promotion. A while back, Jessica from Funky Finds (a blog that I frequent) asked if she could include my cards in an online shopping guide for Venuszine. It came out yesterday and here's the link to her feature.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Something new!

I was falling asleep last night and thinking about the fabric samples I had to work with (thanks Carol!) and I thought I would like to try a fabric box like the one in the Amy Butler book, In Stitches. Since I am still not 100% migraine free, when I looked at Amy's pattern (although VERY basic and easy to follow) it still felt like too much work. After a few minutes of Internet searching I found this tutorial for fabric bags (they look kind of boxy to me), so I tried it.

It seems a little bit more baskety than boxy, but I like it. I think I might make some out of Christmasy fabric and fill it with gifts. I used super-duper heavy-wight interfacing so it is very stiff. Hmmmm...more holiday sewing?? Probably.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Not much news to report

Not much news to report. Joe is working all weekend on a HUGE project at work and I'm kind of "on call" in case he needs any help. I'm not exactly sure how much help I could be, maybe that's why he hasn't taken me up on my offer yet :)

I want to thank everyone for their kind words about my Etsy Shop. My blogger friend Feli wrote the most amazing plug on her blog for my shop. I can't even begin to describe how flattered I am.

The store is going astonishly well and I'm having so much fun with it! I have a box full of completed projects that I never used, so some day I plan on going though it and maybe posting a bag or two on Etsy. I can't see that happening in the near future, but that is my plan. I've added a few more card sets to the shop this morning. Here is a sample.

I wanted to show a picture of my photography set-up. I can't stress enough just how easy it was to set up the light box. Here's a picture of it in action.

Today is the very first day since last Sunday that I haven't felt like I wanted to die because of my migraine. I've been catching up on housework and laundry all day. It's amazing just how fast the house can become a total mess!

I have to SERIOUSLY get to work on a couple of Christmas gift projects. I'm started to sweat a bit about it. Being sick all week has really put me behind schedule.

It's time to stop procrastinating and go and fold laundry...yuck.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Etsy's open for business

Oh my gosh, I'm so afraid of this post. I'm nervous!!!

Etsy is offically open for business (I guess!)

Be nice!! I'm scared!! he he he

Here are a few of the items I've listed:

I made a light box!

I used this tutorial to make the EASIEST light box ever for taking photos. I was sick and tired of waiting for the sun to come out before I could take some pictures. I had to purchase the lamps, but they were only $7.00 each at Canadian Tire. It took me two minutes to set it up and a little longer to figure out how to adjust the light balance on my camera, but not much.

I'm pretty darned happy with the first pictures I took.

Here's a sample:

My head is feeling much better today, but I've taken soooo much medication in the past two days that I'm feeling crappy from that. I've never taken Excedrin Migraine before, and I don't think I ever will again. My heart was racing after I took it. I wasn't too happy about that.

Tonight we will be finishing up the big clean-up in preparation for the new furnace installation. They will be replacing it tomorrow. I can't wait until that is all done!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Don't do anything when you have a migraine

I left work this morning with a migraine, my head is booming.

I typed up a short post, published it...but it messed up my Site Meter (I have no idea what I did), so I deleted the post, uninstalled and re-installed Site Meter. That all started about 2 hours ago. Now I'll re-type my original post that started this whole mess. I'm also bummed out now because my Site Meter stats thoroughly entertained me. I loved looking at them, now I have to start from scratch!!!

I have nothing crafty to report. A couple of weeks ago we had furnace issues. The issues were fixed, but we were told that we needed a new furnace, pronto. Joe and I spent yesterday clearing a path from the furnace to the back door. I feel so much better now that the basement is somewhat organized (we still have miles to go before it can be considered done). One thing led to another and I'm in the midst of re-organizing the whole house. I've bought storage bins and I'm cleaning out corners that haven't been touched since I moved in here over 3 years ago.

I'm waiting for the sun to shine so I can take some pictures for my soon to be opened (I hope) Etsy shop.

I've been playing with digital scrapbooking elements, and I've made a new banner. Here it is:

Now I will try to sleep, agian, now that the blog issues are resolved (I hope!!!)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Future projects

I don't get to see my Mother regularly since she lives an hour and a half away. Yesterday she went shopping with her life-long friend, Carol, in the States. On their way home, I was able to meet up with them for dinner. They had visited my favourite place in the world, Joann's Fabrics while they were shopping. Apparently my Mother had quite a time trying to get Carol to leave the store. Kindly, Carol picked up some fabric samples for me to play with. I'm thinking some sort of bags are in order.

On the weekend, I had a quick trip to Value Village. I got what I think was a table runner that someone had made, using the greatest fabric! I am certainly going to recycle this when I get inspired. The fabric is like new, I doubt it was ever used.

Not too much on the crafty front. I've been working on finally opening an Etsy shop now that the new version is out. I'll keep you posted on that project!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Thanks for the help!!!

Thanks to Debbie, Jojo and Beki who responded to my plea for help with GREAT ideas! I must admit though, I opted for the easiest way out and I went to the dollar store and bought two pairs of cheapie gloves. I snipped off the ends, and voila! mini hats. I didn't even need to glue them on because the glitter really grabbed the fabric. In fact, I had to be careful when positioning the hats, because it was very difficult to adjust it once it grabbed on to the glitter.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Please help these poor little snowmen!

After drooling over the cute little snowmen pencils in the Martha Stewart Holiday Craft magazine, I decided to make a batch to give to the students at school who are reading. I thought maybe it would take an hour do whip up a set of these. WRONG. I quickly learned that it needed to be done in stages so that the glue could dry before starting the next step. Oh, and Martha's version is a double-decker snowman. I quickly decided that mine would just be snowman heads. I couldn't figure out how to get the two balls to stick together without some sort of support which I couldn't use because of the head of the pencil was stuck right into the bottom ball.
I'm kind of happy with them so far, but they need hats! If you think for one second I'm gonna knit little snowman caps for each one...WRONG! I don't know what to do. I'm thinking I've spent enough time on these already, but if I can think of (or if YOU can think of) an easy way to add a hat, I'd be much happier!!
Any ideas??

Friday, November 10, 2006

I can't resist!

Ok, I can't resist posting these pictures. They are a Christmas gift, but I'm pretty sure the recipient has no idea that I even have a blog, so I think I'm safe.

I knit these mittens using Patons Shetland Chunky yarn. I have never used this yarn before but I really liked how soft it is. It's only 15% wool, but they feel just great, and they are machine washable! I used Ann Budd's mitten pattern.

Now, one thing I know for sure is that as much as I want to BE Martha Stewart, I'm NOT. The mittens were knit and I decided to add the snowflake pattern after browsing through the MS Holiday Gift magazine (I adore it by the way). I think it took longer for me to figure out how to add the snowflake design than it did to knit the mittens in the first place, but I'm very happy with the way they turned out.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Martha's my hero and a little more tooting!

Today I finally picked up the Martha Stewart Holiday Handmade Gifts issue. Even though I've only had a very quick flip through it, I'm terribly excited about it. I have already gotten a couple of ideas for things that I need to make from it. The magazine is beautiful and even if I don't end up making anything out of it this year, I'm happy to have this as part of my crafty library!

I've been working on a couple of little projects for Christmas gifts. I'm afraid that my posts from now until Christmas will have very few photos...but look out after December 25th! I hope to have a ton of projects to reveal.

This was in today's newspaper. It is another article about the kick-off party.

Collegiate kicks off CI Reads program on Halloween
Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Halloween at St. Catharines wasn't just about candy, but books as well. On October 31, students at St. Catharines Secondary School kicked off the beginning the fourth year of their Collegiate Institute (CI) Reads club. The CI Reads club is the largest organized club at Collegiate, including about 120 students, and that number is growing. "It is by far the biggest club at Collegiate," said Karyn, the school's librarian. "We have many other clubs, but nothing in comparison to this." This Halloween, students got a party to kick off this year's beginning of the club, which runs until the end of the school year. Apart from other book clubs, students in the CI Reads club are given the choice of reading whatever they like. "It is not a book club where they have a list of the required things to read," said Karyn. "They can read whatever they like." Karyn says the most popular books lately are the Manga novels. "They read everything. Absolutely everything," she said. For their reading, students are given points for their accomplishments, and in turn are given prizes. "It brought a lot of students out to the club," said Tracy, principal of St. Catharines Collegiate. Tracy says she was surprised to see all types of students coming out to the club. She says she thought it would be only the academic students. "I am amazed at the amount of students who are in to this," she said. Tracy and Karyn both agree that spending at least one hour per day reading is a healthy choice for teens. "Reading doesn't mean reading a novel," said Karyn. "Reading means reading anything." Karyn says her favorite book is Bridget Jones' Diary. Tracy says she is a John Grisham fan. For students like Heather Smith, 16, a Grade 11 student, her favorite book is Abarat, by Clive Barker. "It is an adventure fantasy," she said. Smith says she got into reading when her mom recommended reading The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien. "She said I should read up to the part where they introduce the character Gollum," she said. "I got hooked on it." Smith says she reads about 100 short stories each year. "Reading is great," she said. "You really get into it." Karyn says the benefits to reading a lot are numerous. "It improves how well you focus, it improves your marks, your grades and gives you confidence," she said. "It is a positive alternative to television and video games."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tootin' my own horn

This is the article that was published about the kick-off party! Yippee!

St. Catharines High School students read all about it
Nov 3, 2006 ST. CATHARINES -- What started out as an attempt to boost a school's literacy rate has grown to become one of its most popular clubs.
And as a reading program at St. Catharines High School kicks off its fourth year, it continues to attract a wide variety of students.
"Each year, it gets bigger and bigger," said librarian Karyn.
Of course, students had more than words to bring them out to Tuesday's noon-hour launch -- there was also a decorated cake and donated pizza.
But Karyn said she expects more than a few of the students will sign on to the program, which has them being awarded points for reading, whatever material they choose, be it a book, a magazine, or surfing the net to find lyrics to a favourite song.
"Kids are really excited to be here," Karyn said. "For more than the pizza."The program lasts for the remainder of the year, during which students are encouraged to seek out reading opportunities and record their progress. Points are awarded for what they've read and accumulated for prizes, such as coupons for book stores, CDs and DVDs. And at the end of the year, the students' names are put into a draw for major prizes.
Karyn said the program has grown significantly at the high school, from 50 or 60 participants to the nearly 200 who are expected to sign up this year.
"I think the students who have been here for three years have come to expect CI reads," she said. "It really builds a sense of community in the school."
"CI Reads really tries to show students reading is not just sitting at home reading a novel," she said. "Reading can be a very social thing too."Nancy, who has taught English and history at the High School for the past three years and is the school's representative on the District School Board of Niagara's literacy council, said the goal of programs such as this is to boost literacy levels, which in Niagara are below the provincial average. And at the High School, which has a diverse population with a higher percentage of English as a Second Language students than most schools, reading comprehension is particularly challenging.
Last March, when the Grade 10 reading test was last administered, 68 per cent of the students passed. The goal this year is to bump that up to 75 per cent.
The school also hopes to stress to the kids the importance of literacy in their daily lives after school.
"The main goal is to teach kids that reading is a part of your life and always will be," she said.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Halloween, cards and mittens

Whew! Thank goodness the kick-off party is over! It was a huge success, the students haven't stopped talking about it. The first 50 students who tell me about what they have read win a CI Reads t-shirt, so I'm going to be busy for the next few weeks while students are earning their t's.

Halloween at home was also a blast! Joe rigged up the front porch with a video camera and speakers. We sat in the living room with our friends and using a cordless microphone we were able to talk to the trick-or-treaters thought the spooky guy on the porch.

We had a few groupies who just hung around and watched us scare the kiddies. On several occasions, I had to bring the candy down to the kids, they were too frightened to come up on the porch. The parents all wanted to know how we did it. I just smiled in response to their questions.
We had over 200 visitors, it was crazy!

I had an idea. I wanted to make thank-you cards for all those people who helped make the kick-off party such a huges success. I decided to try to use up some of my scrapbooking supplies. Using scrapbooking paper, I made these:

They were much faster than the fabric versions I've made.

Lastly, I've discovered a new yarn. Patons SWS yarn is so soft and comes in some fantastic colours. Here's a picture of a pair of mittens that I'm working on. I finally found a pattern that I'm happy with too, thank goodnes. It's the basic mitten pattern form Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns. I've avoided that pattern because it requires knowing the gauge of your knitting, but I just guessed and it seems to have worked out perfectly.