Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Tax Dollars at Work

That's what they put on signs in Canada when you're driving into a big glut of road construction. Like its supposed to make you feel better about having to stop ten times on the drive between Wawa and Thunder Bay on a hot August day when the regular drive time is 8 - 10 hours already.

Now, here is a better example of my tax dollars at work.

Yes, Canada is the kind of country that pays to have artists play with geometry and music in a studio all day long.

The little film I linked to, "Quilt fever" also defines part of why I love the quilt. The dizying play of patterns and the endless possiblities of simple shapes just blows my mind. Funny how I was so bad in geometry, but I love quilts, isn't it?

Sometimes small adventures are good . . .

Yesterday, I had a plan. It was 10 degrees C and everything was melting. I decided that today, I would pick up rubber boots for the kids and we would go wandering around the neighbourhood puddle jumping. I had visions of blissful early spring fun.

Then the temperature dropped. Today it is -5, and the wind is really freezing cold. So you know what we did? We played on the icy snowbanks in the front yard, and then we went to Loblaws.

The Loblaws grocery store is a little ways away from us. It has a clothes section and a little calfeteria and a section with organic / vegan foods (that means cheese Andrew can eat). Best of all, they had free samples.

What could be more exciting than a smiling young lady giving you free chocolate milk and cheese sticks? And getting new rubber boots? And getting chocolate muffins? And getting to scream at the top of your voice outside white chipping away at snow?

Seriously, who needs the zoo or the park or the library when you can go to Lawblaws?

Also, I'm listening to Wire Tap right now, and it is seriously cracking me up. It is the funniest thing on CBC radio (which I suppose is not saying much, but none the less, very funny).

Okay, off to make pizza dough so we can make pizza and watch a movie this afternoon.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

This was the afterschool valentines day mayhem today. Usually I dole out the candy, but since he shared with his siblings, I let them go at it all at once -- that way we're not arguing about candy for days.

It made me laugh when Dave went out to "pick up some things for supper . . .um, do you need anything for supper?". It reminded me of when I used to work at a Garden Center and all the men would show up between 4 and 7 in a mad rush. Valentines still makes me think of the smell of shaving the prickles off of long stem roses . . .

Good etiquette for the modern blogger week

Guess what? Kat over at Diary of a Flutter Cat is hosting a lovely, helpful week about how to keep yourself in everyone's good books in blogland and on Flikr.

This is a sensational idea, I think. Even more sensational is the fact that she asked little me to share my two cents. My post is on Thursday, but please hop over to Kat's blog
and check out the whole week!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tutorial: How to Make a Wonky Tea Cup Block

Ready for some fun? Looking for a fun block to add to a mug rug, kitchen wall hanging or table runner? How about some wonky tea cups? These are really fun and easy to make, once you get the hang of it.

Just a note: some of my photos from my first blue block didn't work out, so a few photos are from another, purple cup. Don't let it throw you off -- its just different fabric, but the same process.

Fabric you'll need:

  • One coloured square 4 - 6"
  • Two white or background coloured squares 2 - 3"
  • Two coloured strips 1" wide and about 8" long 
  • One white strip 1 - 2" wide (depending on the size of handle you want) and about 8" long
  • extra white fabric to be cut later 

Please sew everything with a 1/4 inch seam.
First, lay one white square over the corner of your teacup on the angle of your choice, and sew. Trim the corner off.

Press the white back over the coloured fabric.

Trim to a square.

Now, do the same thing on the other corner of the square.

Now, set aside the "body" of your teacup and start on the handle.

Sew a white strip across the top of your teacup body.

Sew the long white strip to one of the long coloured strips.

Press open.
Cut into 3 pieces.

Lay the strips perpendicular (on an angle) to one another, so that the coloured strip is facing down on the top strip, and to the outside on the bottom strip. If you want to add a little bit of an angle, feel free to do so. Lay the top fabric on top of the bottom fabric right sides together, and sew.

It should look like this:

Press open.
Now, line up the first part of the handle with the teacup, so you can eyeball where to put the bottom piece of the handle. (Note: this is a tiny teacup, about 3". The handle will be easier on a bigger teacup).

Line up your third strip section so that it makes a handle that fits on your teacup body. Remember that an extra 1/4" of white will be added to the space you see now, so adjust your piece accordingly.

Put the two pieces right side together, and sew. Check that your handle is a good length, then trim off the excess fabric.

Press your handle open.
Line up the body piece of the block with the handle piece. Adjust until you are happy with the way the length of the handle and its placement on the body of the teacup. Place right sides together and sew.

Press your handle open: You now have a teacup!

Square your teacup up by using a rotary cutter and a ruler to straighten the edges.

Sew the second long coloured strip to the bottom of the teacup, right sides together. Press open. Now your teacup has a saucer.
Make your teacup block into the quilted item of your choice. Enjoy!

Hope you like this tutorial. Drop me a note if you use it for something, I'd love to see your teacups. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Wonky Cups

So, Jill, on days when you don't get a substitute teaching job, and your kids are gone to day care, what have you been up to?

I've been making mugs. And teacups. Yep, that's right:

This is my first batch of wonky mugs and tea cups for my Doll Quilt. They are, of course, tests for the five million of these babies that I'm going to make for my toast and tea quilt. Wow, these are fun. They're like chips or popcorn. Once you've made one you just want to make more and more.

Lucky for you, I'm in the midst of making some tutorials for you all. Want to learn to make a wonky tea cup or coffe mug? Stay tuned. As soon as I get some time, I shall write up the instructions.

Aren't you glad I'm using my time wisely?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

So, remember how I was telling you about the snow in Montreal? And I said that the cars on the side of the road were going to be buried? I thought I would show you what I mean. This was Thursday, looking down our street:
This was during the day, and there were No Parking signs (as they were going to clear the snow) so there's no cars parked, really, but you can see how it piled up.

The thing is, that because the population is so dense, most people don't have a driveway. Or the driveway belongs to their downstairs / upstairs neighbour, or they live in an appartment building. So when it snows, and people are parked on either side of the road, and the snowplows come and plow snow over their cars, and there is a foot or more of snow around their car, then you have really thin lanes for traffic to actually drive through.

On the main streets it is even crazier, because delivery trucks are stop in the middle of the street to deliver things, and people are trying to get in and out of parking spaces that have a foot or more of packed snow covering them and people are digging their cars out and shovelling the snow onto the road and busses are driving by and the roads are a little slippery where its been plowed. We even saw someone gently bump into the person in front of him, but because it just hit his bumper the guy didn't even stop.
This is Sherbrooke street, the main street by our house. In the background that is Dave helping someone get out of their parking spot.

Then there is the snow harvesting (no photo of this, sorry). Basically, the snow just needs to be cleared away as quickly as possible, so what they do is post no parking signs on the streets they are going to clear the next day. Eveyone who does not move gets their car towed. Then they bring along a giant grater which heaps the snow in piles. Then a huge snow blower collects up the piles and blows them out a chute into giant dump trucks. I think its funny because it looks almost exactly like harvest time in Saskatchewan with the giant blowers and the big trucks.
In any case, today about half the streets are already cleared and the rest will probably be clear by Monday. It is above 0 celcius today, so the snow is melting in any case. As long as it doesn't all freeze icy (which is actually easily solved with a day of salt and sunshine), everything will be back to normal by next week.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Ha! The curtains have not defeated me.

Well, as in much of Central North America today and yesterday, it is snowing here. It started this morning, and it is supposed to snow all day and night, ending with about 15cm of snow. Its not a ton, but its enough to throw the city into chaos, because there are high winds, so visibility is not super good and it is slippery. One of the two main highways that cuts through Montreal (the 20) is closed down with a 5 car accident already, and its only 1:30 in the afternoon, so I can imagine things will only get worse by this evening.
This is the view out my front door (inspiring, I know -- all the geometrics on the buildings actually fascinate me). You can see that most people have already dug their cars out for the day, so it will be more of a mess tomorrow morning.
This is part of the view out the back -- I love these spiral staircases, they are everywhere in Montreal.
Oh, right, this post is about curtains, isn't it? In any case, I wasn't keen to drive out to the West Island to substitute teach today and get stuck for hours in traffic, so I'm having a snow day even though all the kids are hither and yon and Dave is at school. I spent the day to finally finish my curtains! (You can see my first attempt had a lot to be desired).

Yeah, so this is the tiny nook that we have our couch and shelves in. There is a chair across from it, tucked between the coat closet and the door to our room, and then my sewing desk - -thats our whole living room. We need smaller furniture in this space, I think, but in any case, I was telling you about the curtains, wasn't I?

Yes, so curtains. I dismantled my first curtains and bought new white fabric from Ikea, and more of the orange Joel Dewberry fabric. I stitched it all back together again, then pulled them apart and stitched it together again because all the seams were crooked or there wasn't enough orange at the top or it had too much white along the bottom . . . you get the idea. We also changed the curtain rod -- we were going to suspend them from a wire, but it wasn't working, so we got this thick rod instead. I like it better. I think the chocolate colour adds a bit of darkness and grounding to the space.

 The finished curtains just cover the windows, which makes them fit sleekly into this small space, and block the view of the side of our neighbour's house without blocking out all the sunlight. I will think of someway to open them later . . . for now I'm just happy to have something on the windows and not have to rip the curtains apart again. If you notice any errors, please don't tell me.