Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Hallowe'en!

It's fright night tonight and rather than a big, long, wordy, post, I thought I'd share our Hallowe'en decorations and let them speak for themselves.....

Silhouettes in the windows

If you can't have a "Lawnmover Man" because there is no lawn,
Make it a "Snowshovel Dude" (body parts optional)
Black Tunnel to the front door

Inside the tunnel during the day

Dropping Spider

This year's pumpkin crop

Inside the tunnel at night, with backlight.....
fog and lasers will be turned on this evening

Creepy, eh?

Pumpkin Carving! 

Must pretend to eat the guts

Who's that in the background???

Posed photo

What they're REALLY wanting to do...

Monday, October 29, 2012

There is no such thing as a Sexy Costume when...

Your child has the opportunity to choose your character. Such is this year's costume. Which is not only, NOT Sexy, but also NOT even female......

After last year's triumphant successes in the world of costume making (at least in my world), I was pretty excited to make the kids' costumes this year and was slightly disappointed when the told me they wanted to repeat last year's costumes (Eli is Link, from the Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, a video game and Chey is Yoshi, from various Mario games). Not to be deterred from my newfound love of homemade costumes, I asked Eli to choose my costume for this year, with the only stipulation that it be scary.

He chose Herobrine.

Herobrine, so I am told, is a character in the computer game "Minecraft" that currently all the rage. I looked at the picture and said:

"That is SO not scary."

To which he replied:

"Trust me. If you played Minecraft, Herobrine would scare the crap out of you."

I decided to trust him and planned my costume strategy.

My plan was simple. I found a box that was big enough for my head, purchased various brown spray paints, a couple of dot lights (the battery kind that you press and they light), some tissue paper and a teal T-shirt.

First, I painted the box with the lightest coloured paint (which was the same colour as the box, not sure why I didn't just skip that step). I then placed random square patches of 2" painters tape over the "face" of the box and painted a darker brown. I repeated this process (leaving the old tape in place until the end), until I had three colours of light brown for the face and a dark brown for the hair.

Once the tape was removed, I cut out a mouth (through which I can sort of see, maybe, kinda.... although I did walk into a wall when I was walking around the house, so it could be a rather comedy filled evening with the ice and snow and lack of peripheral vision and all) and two eyes. I then taped several layers of white tissue to the inside of the box where the eyes are and duct taped the lights behind the tissue.


I AM bringing sexy back to Hallowe'en......

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's definitely sweater weather

It snowed! On Oct 22nd! It snowed a.lot. and it's still snowing with no end in sight, so it's entirely fitting that I finished knitting a sweater yesterday and that I'm calling it my ski sweater.

I haven't been having much luck in my knitting lately. Everything I've knit in the past few months is "fine," but nothing has turned out quite the way that I wanted it to. I'm not sure what is going on, but my knitting mojo is off.

This most recent sweater is a perfect example. I choose a great pattern (Iridium by Lisa Mutch - ravelry link) and used my absolute, favourite yarn (Juliespins Silky 435 - ravelry link, a 50/50 blend of superwash merino and silk that feels like a warm breeze when worn), but it's not quite right. As a matter of fact, had it not snowed last night, I think I would be frogging it, because the yarn is to wonderful not to wear. The snow has given me an alternate perspective, however, and I've decided that it will make a fantastic. lightweight, warm layer, perfect for outdoor winter sports. What exactly is wrong with it you ask? (yes, I'm aware that only my few knitter readers might actually ask, but I like to pretend everyone hangs on my every word). It somehow turned out much larger than I intended. Now, this might have something to do with the fact that I chose a larger size than I would normally choose (I cast on for a 34" chest, not a 32".. one can dream).... It also might have been effected by the fact that , other than the set up rows, I didn't follow the pattern....... but most likely, it is due to the fact that my gauge is slightly off (1/2 stitch per inch to be exact, which over a 34" chest measurement adds 2.5- 3" depending where I measure). The combined result of these choices is a sweater that is approximately 36-37" which is pretty loose on me.....

It still looks OK, though..... particularly when I stand a certain way so that the excess fabric can drape properly...... so If I'm walking funny, that might be why.... oh... and it was chilly outside when I took these pictures which Is probably why I look like I'm gritting my teeth, rather than smiling.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stop and think.

This post is inspired by something I overheard at school today (and yes, I did say something to the person who spoke and no, it wasn't one of my kids.... For once.....phew).

I need everyone to do me a favour.

When a kid throws a temper tantrum, or is overly emotional or behaves inappropriately in some way. Don't judge:

~ He/she could be having a bad day

~ He/she could have lost a family member

~ He/she might be going through a divorce

~ He/she might look like a seven, ten or fourteen year old, but actually be several years younger than you assume

~ He /she might be autistic or be on the spectrum

~ He/she might have ADHD

~ He/she might be gifted and have an intelligence to maturity ratio that is way off

~ He/she might have another special need or mental disorder that is not obvious

~ He/she might have any number of reasons for his/her behaviour that I have not listed, BUT

He/she is probably NOT a bad child with terrible parents.

And if you can't help but think it anyway.... Remember, nobody can read your thoughts, but everyone can hear you speak.

I'll hop off my soapbox now...Thanks for listening

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Making it work

Sometimes there are difficulties and hurdles to life and you just have to figure out a way to make it work. Tenacity, patience and creativity almost always win the day. If you can't figure out a way, think outside the box. Create something that works for everyone. Compromise.

Such is the way with Chey's wardrobe (What? You thought I was going to get serious or something?). Chey doesn't care about clothes. She doesn't like dresses, she doesn't like skirts.... and she hates princesses and frilly, girly things. I, on the other hand, had a daughter for a reason, damn it! She was to be my little dolly to dress as I pleased. She was going to wear all manner of frilly, girly items and she and I would be best friends, shopping for accessories, getting manicures and facials and gossiping over lunch.

She had other plans, however, and I had to learn to adapt (she does like shopping, but not for clothes. She loves antique stores though! ) I look for clothes that meet both of our criteria and sometimes she gets her way (her way is a souvenir T-shirt and jeans and she's got quite a few t-shirts that have deadly creatures on them) and sometimes I get my way (a toned down version of my way, anyway... I don't want her to hate me, or clothes).

And so, I was thrilled when I found a shirt in Anthropologie that was covered in foxes (her newest animal obsession .... she always picks the fringe animals to be obsessed with. Things that are hard to find in girl clothing. I have yet to find a shark on a girl's shirt, or a least not on a non-souvenir type shirt.) I thought it might make a cute tunic/dress for her and so I bought it.

It was perfect and she loved it.... except the neckline was WAY to big and it kept falling off her shoulder which is not appropriate for a seven year old.

Sad girl with a too big top

So I finally fixed it yesterday with my new sewing machine. I added a shirred band to the front and sewed in some elastic to the back. This was my first attempt at shirring and I think it turned out OK. I used elastic thread in the bobbin and had to futz with the sewing machine to make it work, but voila!

Cute, well fitting top...

Shirring on the front

A great compromise... which really means "I figured out how to trick you so that I can get my way," but don't tell anyone, especially not my kids or hubby.....

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Even Better.....

My craft/studio room continues to evolve. I have now completed the other half of the room.

It looked like this last week:

I wasn't super happy with this side of the room. The other side of the room is so far beyond Awesome, that Awesome needs binoculars and night-vision to see it, but this side was rather blah in comparison. I fixed it though... now Awesome won't know which way to look because both sides are equally beyond Awesome's ken.

This side has:

2 Ikea Expedit 2x2 shelves mounted on the wall. The 2x2s come with mounting instructions, but I decided to put a rail below them for extra support, mainly because they were being mounted to look good and not on studs and a few drywall anchors are not strong enough for my complete comfort. We attached the rail on the studs and then set the cabinets on top of the rail and anchored them. I think they'll be more than strong enough for my needs now.

1 Ikea Expedit 2x4 against with wall with a desk attachment. Apparently, I'm not the only one who doesn't want leave this room and, as I don't like to share, I thought the kids needed their own desk.... Plus it'll be great for my future Drum Carder.... and as a cutting table.... and... OK, it's really more space for me, but I won't tell the kids if you don't. I also purchased some doors, drawers and purple baskets for the cubby holes. These now hold the rest of my yarn, my fibre and a few other bits that I didn't have proper space for. The room is so organized that I almost don't want to use it.

3 picture rails above the bookcase (which I already had).

The only problem I had with this whole redecorating scheme was that my 30 year old Singer sewing machine died when I tried to make some cushions to sit on (for TV watching).... You can't have a sewing room without a sewing machine.

So I fixed that to.

And now that my house is back in order from THAT mini-reno... must be time to rip apart something else..... Next week, maybe; I have some sewing to do first.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I'm never coming downstairs again....


My craft studio is complete (mostly) and it is so awesome that I have no words. OK, I have a lot of words, but they are farther down, so they don't count.... much.

Here is where the magic happened. I LOVE this wall. Love it with a deep, abiding passion. Let's just say that if Justin Timberlake or Colin Firth or the Hot Scientist dude from Eureka (Ed Quinn) dropped by and asked me to run away with them, I'd have to think really hard about leaving this room behind......

The basic plan is (mostly from Ikea, because they make great, cheap storage furniture... and I had most of it already):

2 Pax wardrobes from Ikea (used to be in Chey's Room)
1 Trofast frame (the one that looks like stairs) 
1 Helmer Drawer unit (the only Ikea item I had to buy)
1 Lack coffee table, top removed
1 4x8 panel of slot wall, painted (and accessories). Next time I want to paint slot wall, someone shoot me, OK?

My original plan was to buy two of the Helmer drawer units (or something like them) and stick the Lack coffee table  (used to be used as a play surface for the kids) on top as a desk, but when I was thinking about what to do with the furniture in the room already, it occurred to me that the Trofast unit might make a good base for a desk. I couldn't believe it when the Helmer and the middle step of the Trofast were within 1/4" of each other! It was perfect. The casters of the Helmer have sunk into the carpet enough that I don't even have to shim the desk to make it level. It's perfect. I only used the top of the Lack coffee table, it was way too tall with the entire coffee table on the "base".

Once the room was painted I shoved everything where I wanted it and it looks like it was made for the space. There are no gaps anywhere. The items fit perfectly (I planned that, actually and again, the Trofast saved the day, by being the perfect size to eat up the bit of space betwixt desk and tower). 

See all of my wonderful storage? (I plan to replace the plastic bins on the slot wall shelves with something else: eventually. The ones inside the tower are fine).

Inside the right tower 

Drawers of yarn

These drawers will contain my fabric.
Still to be organized.

This still needs to be organized.

My grandmother made me this

Sock yarn/lace yarn remnants in glass.
 The deer fabric is covering a paint can, filled with yarn.
The Blue glass is from Egypt and has my signature needles
and some hand carved crochet hooks.

some colourful fibre, beautiful lace yarn... this space is heaven

The real problem with the room was the floor. Sewing on carpet is not much fun. The sewing part is fine, it's the CLEANING that's not fun. We aren't quite ready to do a full scale floor replacement though, so after much thought and a thorough scouring of the Internet, I decided to paint a floor cloth. This was probably the most painful part of the job as I wanted a large floor cloth (almost completely covering the floor) and I didn't really have space big enough to paint it and then let it cure. I painted in the basement (it took a gallon of primer and 3/4 of a gallon of paint, but only a quart of varnish and 6 days, including dry time) , but pulled apart my guest room to let it cure for a few days before wrestling (there is no better word, I fought that sucker into place!) it down today. It's not perfectly flat (it was most difficult to get it to lay flat without pulling apart the entire room), but I think it turned out great! And it's sweep-able and damp wipe-able... perfect for a craft room, no?

 The cloth is painted Ombre (dark centre and faded out to either end). I decided not to go for crisp lines, but blended the lines together as I painted. It's subtle and I love it.

I still want more storage on this side of the room,
but I need to let some ideas ferment for a bit before I tackle them. 

Subtle Ombre stripes. 

Need to think on a chair solution as well.
Perhaps an Ottoman might work??
One of the best parts of this room, is that it is STILL Chey's play room. Her toys are still in the Trofast bins under my desk, her Calico Critters sit atop a cedar chest filled with fibre AND she might actually use it now. At least, she will most likely use it while I sew and futz around. She didn't like playing in that room by herself. Now we can both play; she with her toys, I with mine.

Next job (after I clean up the mess from this one) -BASEMENT. That's just painting, though: maybe.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One project down.

As I've mentioned in several posts, Dale and I (mostly I, but he does help when he's not working) are slowly giving our house a teeny facelift. Mainly paint and decorating, but I'm hoping, that over the next year, we will have the house refreshed and better organized.

With that goal in mind, one of the problems/DIY project on our list,  has been to figure out garden storage. We have a small, lean-to, style shed against the side of the house that plays the part of "catch all" for our gardening detritus. Lawnmower, wheelbarrow, shovels, rakes, bags of soil, buckets, small garden tools, fertilizer, hose pieces, etc. are all piled in the little shed and most of it has to be removed each time the lawn needs to be mowed. I thought that a nice dresser or small hutch, painted as a part of the backyard decor, might be a partial solution. At least we would get the little bits out of the shed......

I trolled Kijiji for about a month, looking for something cheap (like under $50 cheap), but solid and didn't really find what I was looking for (it had to fit in a certain spot against the house). One day I drove past a garage sale and found the perfect dresser... for $20. The gentleman selling it, said it was solid wood and it was hard to tell because he had painted it with some kind of super thick plastic deck paint, but I thought we'd give it a go.

I forgot to take a good picture of the before, this will have to do.

It sat in the garage all summer, until it finally rose to the top of the "honey do" list and Dale started the stripping process. He found out pretty quickly that it was NOT solid, but some kind of laminate over pine. The laminate didn't make it through the stripping process (nor did the drawer bottoms or bottom of the cabinet, but I'll fix that in the spring) and it turned out to be a much larger, more expensive job than I had anticipated. I was finally able to start staining on the weekend. My plan was to stain the body of the dresser one colour and all of the drawer fronts and doors different colours. I think it turned out looking fabulous, but the cost and effort of the redo, relative to the  quality of the initial (and ending) piece of furniture was not worth it. I think we'll have paid over $200 in stripper, stain, varnish, new drawer bases and pulls which would have been worth it had the dresser been of better quality.  Something for me to think about in the future, that is for certain.

Here it is after being stripped. Again, I need to learn to take better pictures, but you can see the inside, bottom of the cabinet is trashed. All of the drawers are the same.

It does look pretty though. The cabinet itself is stained dark red, the largest door was stained purple, but it looks dark brown, which is unfortunate. I LOVE the teal/turquoise doors! In retrospect, I wish I had stained the entire cabinet with that stain..... I couldn't wait to show you, even though I have yet to put on handles and pulls and fix the drawers. I don't plan to do that until Spring though.

I can totally picture it with a flower pot on the top. What do you think?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It looked better from the bottom, honest

Today Dale and I were the BEST parents.... and we made a horrible parenting decision.

There was a moment, today, where I sat, frozen in abject terror, on a steep mountain hillside, trying to decide if going down on my ass, with rocks flying past my head and my children screaming and crying behind me with about 20 people watching (with fierce judgement in their eyes and condescension written on their faces. I think it was judgement and condescension,  but they were actually all the size of ants and probably didn't even notice; if they were deaf, they didn't notice, so they probably did notice, unless they thought the kids were mountain lions screaming, fingers crossed!) OR riding down the hill in a helicopter, would be scarier (OK... a helicopter rescue was hardly necessary, but it really felt like an option at the time). The terror did abate and sense did prevail, however and I chose option A (I accidentally wrote B here, but caught it in the nick of time.That, would have been a funnier story, but alas... there were no helicopters involved... or rather, THANKFULLY, there were no helicopters involved....

I'm getting ahead of myself.

Dale and I decided that we'd better enjoy this fabulous weather we are having (winter could strike without notice)  and chose to do another hike in the Rockies. Plus, Eli informed me , Saturday night, that he had a science project due Monday that involved deciduous trees. Where better to find deciduous trees than a hike: in a forest.

We opted for an easier hike than last week. We hike, bike and otherwise force our children into the great outdoors, rather expecting, a little whining, a little complaining and a little "are we there yet"ing, but felt that we would try to avoid this as much as possible, this time. We chose, based on a quick perusal of our hiking books, (OK, they are more like walking books, but I'm pretty sure one or two actually uses the word HIKE in the title.) an easy hike into an area called Grotto Canyon. This hike is, as advertised, a nice walk/hike through a forest and up a canyon to a small waterfall. The only false advertising was the mention of Indian Pictographs, which we did not find, but that, I suppose, doesn't mean they are not there. Walking through the canyon also made me think that maybe I need to take up rock climbing again... The climbing through the canyon  looked AMAZING (for me, anyway: I don't really know what I'm talking about, but there were a lot of routes).

Grotto Canyon is a popular hike and we can see why. It's a lovely hike (no groomed trails with stairs, bridges and handrails is a hike, damn it!). We made it to the falls without issue and decided to continue (most people turn around at the falls) to see the hoodoos.

"waterfall"... It might deserve the name in the spring?

Most of the hike was like this

There is the hoodoo... little did we know what horror awaits

still in a good mood on the way back, couldn't be that bad, eh?

This is where our parenting minds slipped .... and nearly our whole family with them, to our deaths or  near dismemberment, I am certain.

At the base of one of the hoodoos is a cave and the kids REALLY wanted to hike up there.....

The picture makes it look easy and it really did look easy: from the bottom.

I stayed at the bottom with the dogs (They didn't need to bump someone off the hill or start a small rockslide) and Dale took the kids around the side and up, it looked the easier, albeit longer way..... They made it to the level of the cave without much difficulty and started to traverse across to the cave entrance. They were nearly there when the crying started and I, in my "mother bear" mode, leapt straight up the rock face to the rescue (no circuitous method for me!), looked down and froze with my heart in my mouth. And the first rambling paragraph of this post ran through my head, along with a lot of other fatalistic thoughts about news stories featuring dumb-ass parents, climbing with their kids, falling from a cave and being flown by STARS air ambulance to the nearest hospital. I did manage to appear, on the outside, slightly nervous, but mainly, calm  (kids are great for helping me control hysterical fears... lead by example and all that crap or something, I forget). I told Dale I couldn't quite make it all the way to help (I was about 4 feet away) and slowly tried to crab walk down the loose boulder/rock slope. Dale, did, somewhat manage to keep his cool (the kids were wailing and crying and generally NOT paying attention to the very important instruction of NOT falling to their deaths) and, after what seemed like four hours,  we did get to the bottom. I can definitely say that we won't be doing that again. 

I have no good pictures at the top to show you how scary it really was (Dale had the camera for the awesome cave shots he was supposed to get).... I do have a couple of pictures off my phone, perhaps they'll tell the tale? I took these from about the place hidden behind the middle tree on the bottom of the above picture: about 1/3 of the way up the slope. See those little grey blobs at the base of the cliff? Those are the rest of my family members trying not to die.

The kids were scarred for life (as they informed us), for about 3 minutes and then they got over it, mostly...... Chey did have a harder time and kept talking (loudly to anyone that would listen, it IS a busy place) about how we made a BAD CHOICE to hike to the cave.... Fortunately, a ladybug cupcake saved the day.

Long story short... We will do Grotto Canyon again (it was beautiful!), but we'll stare up at the cave from the bottom.....