Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bright Lights!!!

 Looks a bit better, no? That's because not only did I clean, but I changed almost all of the light bulbs! It's so bright! I mean look!
 I can actually SEE now! Plus this lamp now has a fluorescent bulb in it, which is supposed to be best for seeing colours as they actually are. Probably wise that I have fluorescent lighting on my cutting table now. For projects? I have two Christmas presents left to make. Like this bluejay afghan! Afghans take up so much more yarn than I thought.

Also! Erin is the best. I am doing my usual cleaning of the kitchen with boxed wine, but it's so much better with a vintage apron. So much better.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Resolutions!

Ohhh my. I must try some of these for New Year's Eve. It's going to be epic and sugary.

My resolution: hold a New Year's Eve party for 2013! This might not seem very ambitious, but it involves finding a place to live. Oh, and deciding where that place will be.

And to make a few quilts and lose ten pounds. The usual.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

HEY.

Guess what I have to do tomorrow.


NOTHING.


Yay.

Oh, except maybe going to Hamilton with Willie and telling Telus they can suck it.

The Scrooge E-Reader Case!

I thought I'd use my newly acquired sewing skills to whip up a quick case for my new Kobo!!! It was going to be so simple that of course I tried to do it in the time between getting home from work and changing out of my uniform. Didn't happen. Did I mention I was deathly ill on Christmas Eve? I did? Oh. Sorry.

Long story short, I guess, I think I have a problem. I work until eleven on Christmas Eve, sick as a dog, come home, and almost have to be tied down to a comfy armchair in front of a lovely wood fire to watch Scrooge with the family. Why? Because I need my rest. But no, I sneak away and continue sewing because I know I'll want to have a nice case when I take my e-reader for a spin tomorrow! Why couldn't I do it the next day? Because I'd be too busy sleeping in, that's why. One of those "I'll sleep when I'm dead" philosophies.

I wish I'd been a little more in control of myself though. I'm happy with the case, but if I thought about it, I could have made it a little neater. But no matter: I had enough of my favourite fabric to make the outside, and enough flannelet for the lining. And of course, good old cotton batting.

So, step one, cut two rectangles of your soft lining fabric, two rectangles of your outer pretty fabric, and two rectangles of cotton batting.


Make sure you make the rectangles big enough that your e-reader will actually fit inside the case. Mine was just a touch too narrow, so I couldn't reinforce the seams like I did with the Hot Beartatos.

Oh my goodness I don't even REMEMBER this part. I think I attached the width of one pretty rectangle to the width of one soft rectangle, print sides in. Do this twice. In one, I put a loop, made in the same way as Beartato's ears. You could go back to that post and find out what I mean, but I don't think I explained it there either. Tough.

Press the two rectangles reverse sides in. Insert cotton batting. Sew along the seam again, thus attaching the three rectangles together! Then machine quilt however you want. My lining fabric had vertical stripes, so I just used select stripes as a guide to quilt lines along the rectangles.

The rest is really simple. Press and pin the resulting two rectangles together, and sew in a U. It's pretty obvious that the reinforced seam is the opening of the case, and SHOULD NOT BE SEWN SHUT. Then turn it inside out, press, and you're done! Unless you made your rectangles wider than mine in which case you might want to sew around the sides and bottom again. It'll be a bit nice maybe.

I added a decorative button that I tore off a tea cozy I never use.

Another terrible thing? My work desk is an absolute disaster now

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve!

I've been terribly ill today. While this made me miss out on most of the fantastic food, it did not stop me from going to work (even though my boss tried to get me to go home again, since I was deathly pale), and it certainly didn't stop me from making a case for my new Kobo!!!!

It is, however, stopping me from really talking about it or uploading pictures. I've been heaving and convulsing since five this morning, and... well... I should recover.

Hopefully I'll get to it tomorrow, because as of tomorrow afternoon I'll be far too busy and without internet.

On the other hand, I should spend tomorrow trying to figure out my new Magellan GPS thingy!!! I'm really excited to have it, but I am NOT excited to set it up. Turns out I love gadgets. To a point.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hot Beartatos!


I'm bad at telling people how to do stuff. However, the pattern I used for the potholders was found here so in case you get confused, which you inevitably will, go there.

First you need brown cotton fabric, light brown cotton fabric, black embroidery floss, some cotton batting, and some thermal lining stuff. At the store they kept calling it Thermalin, but on the receipt it says thermoplus? I dunno. The employees looked at me, got confused, tried to sell me fabric to cover an ironing board, then suggested I go to the dollar store, buy oven mitts, and cut them up... I just couldn't do that because a) cheating and b) most oven mitts aren't circular. Plus most potholders are quilted, so what was I supposed to do? They asked the big boss of oven mitts, who said "just use this" which turned out to be a thermal fabric that was right under the cutting table we happened to be at. Funny.


Oh, you'll also need a plate or bowl (something circular) and maybe something ovally. I sort of free-handed that bit.


I am bad at counting. You will need more than this. Something like 8 brown circles, 4 light brown ovals, four thermal lining circles, and two cotton batting circles. You could use four cotton batting circles if you want, but meh.

For the actual part that's holding the pot, sandwich a thermal circle and a batting circle between two brown circles. Make sure you remember which side the thermal lining is on: you want the order to be hot thing: thermal lining: cotton batting: hand.


Quilt somehow! The blog I was going off of quilted in pie pieces. This was certainly quick, but I didn't like the fact that quilting from the centre outwards left all kinds of strings in the middle of the potholder, or the fact that going from one edge to the other caused some unsightly puckering. It was too late at night for me to think up my own way though. Plus cutting circles with a rotary cutter is HARD.


For hand bits, cut your thermal linings in half!


Then, learn hand applique! I'm sure the internet will tell you how to do this. I learned from a book. Sorry.


applique four light brown ovals to four brown circles.



Then, learn how to hand embroider. I learned from here. In case you're wondering, I used a satin stitch.

Then, the hangy bits! Also ears! I just cut some 2 x 4 inch rectangles, folded them, sewed them, turned hem inside out, pressed them, and sewed over the seam. What's the big deal?

To piece together the final product, simply remember that everything you want on the outside should be on the inside. SO you what the thermal lining side of your potholding bit to be UP. Place the hangy bits with the loop (or fold) toward the CENTRE. place the appliqued and embroidered sides of your half circles FACE DOWN.


PIN IT. Then sew around the edges. You'll end up with two weird things that look like this.


Trim the seams as close as possible, and turn the potholders inside out. They'll still look a little weird.
But, once you press them again, they'll make a little more sense.
Sew around the circle one more time, and:You're done!

Personally, I'm really impressed. Especially because of all the emotional meltdowns and rummy hot chocolates I had while making these.

And yes, that IS a Jonas Brothers mug. But it's got a beer bottle stuck in it and I have no idea what to do about the situation but look at it all day every day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oh good

Look here! I found the perfect pattern for another present. Phew. Now I have to find out where to get insulation stuff. It better not be at Michael's. That place was a zoo yesterday.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

ALSO (anger)

I got a package on Friday, but I missed the delivery. Got one of those "pick it up after one tomorrow!" deals.

But I sleep through Saturday and work eight hours in the evening so I don't get there until today, when (now I cut and paste):

but the guy in front of me wants a change of address, but he's all "I already did it and I paid online but they sadi I had to come to the nearest post office for confirmation" and then the post office guy was like "what? So you've paid? Because I can't like... I can't do that. I can start a new one if you like" and the guy was like "well fine, I guess. But can't you just pull up my file and show that I've paid?" "oh, you've paid though? Do you have a page you can print out to confirm that you've paid?" and the guy was like "no... that's why I'm here, it said to come to you" and so they started the process from the beginning and it was all very confusing and took maybe twenty minutes, and the next woman just wanted stamps, and for some reason even THAT confused the guy, because there were so many kinds and I could tell this sweet old lady was about three seconds from yelling JUST GIVE ME SOME FUCKING STAMPS ALREADY I DON'T CARE WHAT'S ON THEM. so FINALLY it's my turn, and he scans it and is just like "oh it's in transit." And I'm all "... but they left this two days ago so it should have been here yesterday." and he's like "they're making another dropoff tomorrow so it should be ready at one tomorrow. Sometimes when they say tomorrow they mean the next business day" and I really wanted to chew him a new one, since I'd been waiting at least half an hour to NOT get my package, but if it's not there it's not there, so I went and spent too much money on yarn at the craft store next door.

Point is, I can start my afghan now :)

But So Other Few Words Fit...

It's done! Here is the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Christmas Table Runner in action:

The Quilting makes the pirate theme on the backing really indistinct, but it also shows how awesome a job I did quilting the darn thing.


And the mystery is solved! I finished the cameo portrait of my niece! I can't decide whether to give it to her or her parents...


Now I've got a cut-out of a babyhead lying around. It's creepy, but she's also so darn cute!

Clearly, I meant to take a picture once the outlining was done, but I forgot.

Finished! I'm so pleased with how it turned out. So pleased that I want to make a lot more of these. Shadow-drawing party!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

And Then This

Really, the exciting thing about not cutting anymore and putting my mat away was that I have my workspace available for other things now! So I started work on my next mystery project. Now the oval is white! I'll try to do the rest tomorrow, but I really do have to buy materials for other gifts.


Oh, and I finished the binding for the table runner! That means it's completely finished!!! I'm not really that happy with it, to be honest. I'm really hoping it looks better in the light of day. But the setting squares were so much bigger than they needed to be for some reason, and I didn't bother to attach the binding in a straight line to compensate for it. Having the middle star extend beyond the borders was tricky, it turns out. However, I'm not discouraged. The second I finished I already missed quilting again.

And I managed to finish it while watching Descent. I meant to take a break from Buffy, but ended up watching a movie about six women fighting off humanoid cave demon things. Efforts to branch out were thwarted.

OH YEAH!

The sales conference was yesterday!

At first I was worried. The professional panel was very intimidating, in an "I can't imagine how I could possibly be intimidating, but here's my professional advice" sort of way.
But the presentation went relatively smoothly, if you don't count the quaver in my voice, and they didn't have anything negative to say. They loved the promotional materials, and the advanced reader copies looked FANTASTIC. Not that I really had much to do with any of those.

In all, seemed to go well. Most importantly, IT'S DONE! So I'm on holiday. One job posting that I'm not going to jinx by talking about.

Quilting: Finished

I finished quilting the table runner! Yay!!!


And I ALSO cut some strips for binding!!! I'm not sure about the white binding with the off-white star fabric, but the back is blue, so I did what I had to do.

You know what that means? I'M DONE WITH CUTTING! Cutting hurts the back and eyes. Also, I get to put my cutting mat away. Hanging on the wall! While my Kate Beaton print remains unhung. On the other hand, I'm starting to get quite fond of it where it is.


And now, to finish the binding. I made a mistake (because I didn't read the instructions, properly or im-) so I SHOULD redo about an inch of it, but I might not and say I did. Except it'll be obvious that I didn't. Who cares?

Dante has been snuggly lately.


On the other hand, he's also been bad. He jumped onto my laptop and broke some keys beyond repair (thankfully not important ones), and then tried to curl up IN THE TABLE RUNNER! The NERVE. So since that night he's been a little hesitant to join me on the couch while I work, for fear that I might find fault with him. Really, it means he just sits there being sad and ignores my invitations.


Poor little doggy.
SEE?

Le Sigh

After my initial reaction of "Amazon must be run by a bunch of below-belt-kicking JERKS!" I have to admit I'm calming down quite a bit. Nobody ever said they had to play fair, so why punish them for their success? It doesn't make sense for them to wait until the entire publishing industry catches up.

And can I say this article is helping to finalize my opinions on the matter, NOT that jerk from Slate who called bricks and mortar bookstores "cultish." At least I think it is. I haven't finished reading it yet.

BUT I still don't want to buy from them. It's not because I think boycotting them will do much, or because I think they'll care, but Amazon may just take over this game, and I'd like to make the most of the way things are before they change completely. Even if that change isn't necessarily bad.

Speaking of, I went to Chapters because it's 5x the Plum Points day and bought books for MYSELF. Two weeks before Christmas. Bad form.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On My Mind:

from here "Barbara Freethy, a top romance writer for 20 years who has written 30 novels, says that this year, she has sold 1.3 million self-published e-book versions of 17 of her out-of-print novels. Nine hit USA TODAY's top 150."

I don't call this self-publishing. I call this good rights management.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Made Some Gluehwein. I think.

So I mulled the wine. I really thought I had taken pictures of it, but I guess I didn't really. I caught the actual tree-trimming, so I'm pretty happy about that.

But for the gluehwein itself, I only caught the orange that I accidentally burned. Overall, I thought it tasted pretty good! Mind you the wine I like was on sale, so I bought two in case the mulling didn't work properly, and of course that just meant I drank half of the extra bottle while waiting for the mullings to simmer. I guess I should specify, I used this recipe, in which you simmer water, sugar, orange juice, orange peels, cloves, and cinnamon for 30 minutes before adding the wine. That's a whole half hour that I didn't waste by waiting.


Hannah said she didn't know about it, but she's a couple cats short of a bushel, if you know what I mean. Oh wait what?

I drank it anyway. OH, except when I decided to switch back I just tossed the last few sips from my mug to my wine glass thinking "what's the harm in a little extra spice, am I right?" which wasn't such a bad idea until the last sip. So much sediment. I'm guessing it was mostly clove.

I expressed my feelings in the form of a Christmas ornament. I used Krazy Glue without glueing myself to anything!

Do you know how hard it is to write in glitter glue? I do.


Hannah's snowman. I ate a whole fingerful of that white stuff. It tastes like play-dough with sugar in it.

The season has officially begun. Here's wishing you a very Jeremy Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Gotta Make Some Gluehwein

Got up at 11:30 and have since been arguing internally over whether to work on the sales conference presentation, finish the table runner, finish Infinite Jest, or something else entirely.

Have since opted to play stupid puzzlegames all day.

Then I realized that really what's happened is that I've lost the spirit. BUT! I know how to get it back. Normally I'd look to see when the Mr Bean Christmas Special is on, because this bit never fails. In fact, it's working already.

Anyway, I decided not to worry about it. Christmas party tonight, in Toronto, but thought hey, why not try my hand at Gluehwein?! Oh my gosh this whole rule of adding an E instead of having an umlaut really makes some words awful. Crazy Germans. See the thing is, I studied German basically as a minor in University, until I realized that they don't offer German as a minor, only a combined major, and for some reason I didn't want to do that. Who knows why. Thought I'd get one of those proficiency certification things, but never got around to that either. POINT IS, every year they gave us a recipe for Gluehwein (essentially mulled wine, but more German). I've never tried it, I don't think, but it was a huge deal at the German Department Christmas party every year. I never went. But I always wanted to make it!

I can't remember if it was someone famous or just a favourite highschool teacher who said that the best way to get better at something is to make fast friends with someone who's as bad at it as you are. Definitely true. I studied my butt off and did really well in my German courses, but never really picked up the speaking part, mostly because I'm not much of a speaker in any language. But the one time I did go to an all-Nova Scotia German Studies gala, I only had fun once I found the guy I'd been sitting beside all term but had never spoken to. We both haltingly said that it's very awkward making smalltalk in such an unfamiliar language, and once that was out of the way, we were both surprised to find we could converse pretty normally, albeit somewhat slowly. I'd like to say we were fast friends after that and took the German-speaking world by storm, but unfortunately the only other time I saw him was at the exam, and once in the street but I don't know if he recognized me. Haven't really spoken German since. Can't even be a secret language between my Dad and I anymore.

Tragedy. EXCEPT that there's a chance I may be living in Germany relatively soon, so I should get on that practical application stuff. But first, Gluehwein!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Progress...

Spent all morning at my real (i.e. paying) job. Beat.

But I made great progress yesterday! I finished piecing the table runner!


And managed to start the quilting. Can you believe that quilting hoop was $27?! I can't. That's crazy. However, it's a nice size and very convenient. If shopping didn't make me so angry, I'd be very pleased indeed.

Speaking of shopping! I bought the rest of the materials I need to make my niece's present. The one I needed that picture for? Yeah, that's all the hints I give.

Since I spent so much on a stupid hoop, I decided to splurge on an oak oval for $9.99. It has a much nicer weight than the softwood ovals they offered for $2ish. Paints were also minimal, but not great quality, I'm assuming. And fortunately, I found some nice paintbrushes, so I was right not to spend ANOTHER $7 on those.

Have I mentioned I'm poor?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Christmas Table Runner

I like to name things I make after whatever I was watching while I made it. Coincidentally the fabric is left over from my Firefly Twin-sized Patchwork Quilt!

Obvs not finished yet, but at least I have the pieces done properly. I was doing laundry and having lunch while I was cutting, so I made a lot of mistakes. You know, using the template backwards and all that... All that aside, this thing is going to be bigger than expected. I hope I have enough fabric to bind it.

Also, a surprise today! Picking up Bronwyn from the subway station meant I got a Glenn Gould poster! So he watches me work now

I'm so tired. This sales conference isn't for a week and I'm already a bundle of nerves over it. We go last at 8:50 pm. I speak first, and then run the projected stuff (that I have to create) for the rest of them. Been talking with other publishing students about the uncertainty of our career futures... Still seems like an internship is the only way to go, but I just can't scrape the funds together. On the other hand, taking the winter off of school means I don't have to worry about it for a little while. Hopefully by the end of it I WILL have the means.

And what's a few months in the grand scheme of things. I'll just take these as the extra I get for not giving in to cigarettes ever. Oh hey, I was going to have a beer! That's why I'm still awake! That and, well, having cut the pieces for the table runner wrong was bothering me so much while I was at Willie's that I couldn't sleep. Is fixed. Must resist urge to piece everything tonight.

What?! Gwendolyn Post is evil?!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Oh Yeah, and THIS!

Busy Weekend (or: Why My Grandmother is Awesome)

BIG, LONG, WEEKEND. Well, I visited my grandmother on Friday, and MEANT to make speculaas, my favourite Sinterklaas treat for Sunday, but unfortunately ran out of time because I made the best curry ever. I finished it today! So yummy. Fortunately, even though Sinterklaas has come and gone, an aunt of mine had sent a package of speculaas, so the holiday wasn't lacking. PLUS I have everything I need to make my own any time, so maybe I'll make some for Christmas as well. Oh wait, I don't have muscovado sugar because I couldn't find any. Because why? Because what the hell is it, anyway?

And the rest of the weekend? Worked a full workday on Saturday. Got a $25 gift card for Walmart, which is unexpected. I haven't decided yet whether to spend it on myself, or to spend it on presents for others. Technically, buying something would save me the time and effort of making something, so it might be a present to myself anyway.

Ran from work to Alma for boyfriend's mother's birthday. Indian food. More deliciousness.

Sunday I may have accosted Willie's family with pictures of my niece and dog. Ran home for Sinterklaas! He knocked on the door, made a mess. Missed him as usual. Will never get that autograph.

And today I went to work as well, I guess. I'd forgotten because I hauled my way in there at eight and was back in bed by 2 pm. Stayed there until dinner time. Mom's meatloaf. So good.

Anyway, what was my point? Crafts, I guess. It's rather crazy that I would normally be a mess after a weekend like this, but my newly-responsive-to-medication self is finding it a little easier to fit creative goals in with family time and working on the projected visual component for my sales and marketing group's sales conference presentation.

I made that sound fancy, didn't I? All that I'm really getting from it is a reminder that Powerpoint is dumb.

And yet! I had a nice bath and read a little bit further in Unbroken. One thing I really wish I had more time for is reading, but once this sales conference is over I can stop commuting, which will give me more book time!

In other news, THIS is the second part of that flavoured-vodka-Christmas present?! Ew.

The best part is that the only vessel I could find for it was an old pickle jar. I pity whoever finds it before it's ready. Three more weeks!

And the visit to my grandparents'? Fruitful! She was so upset to give these up, because it means she won't be making any more quilts. It really is sad. My grandmother not only taught me to quilt, she was also an important part of the Mennonite quilting community around Kitchener, and donated a lot to auctions and stuff. She's pretty amazing, and more amazing for giving me these. I'll give'm a good home though.


There were actually five, but the last one had other needlework as well which she might still do. She just made me a fabulous cross stitch for my graduation, so she's still got impressive creative output. So I just looked through that one and made her keep it.

My mom wants me to make this for the table, so I might do that. I made a non-Christmas quilt in Christmas colours last year, so I might even be able to make it festive. I'll check it out tomorrow, see if I have enough.


STILL though, I'm only making it if I can make the other side pirate-themed. Oh right! I have this:


Problem solved.

One last thing. I had a whole photoshoot with my niece, but this is exactly the picture I wanted. You will find out why! Soon!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Details Schmetails

The workspace looks a LITTLE better, although the whole room is still depressingly dark and cluttered. But at least I have this little space.


It'll be enough for now. Well, I assume it will be. I haven't actually tried to get anything done in there yet. But I'm well on my way! To dispute the impression that you'll inevitably get that I drink quite a bit, I must explain that the unopened bottle of vodka is in fact part one of the first Christmas present I'm making. It takes three weeks, so I have to get a move on. What will it be? Oh, the mystery!

Ok, I'm trying my hand at flavouring booze. Mystery solved.

Speaking of, I'm now going to encourage the impression that I drink a lot by sharing this lovely bottle that I bought for the syringe-like handles and shared with the boyfriend on a cold October evening.
The rum itself is pretty ordinary, although it does have a particular paint-thinning quality about it, probably due a detail that we'd overlooked until we'd dipped in:
I'm surprised we can both still see. Anyhow, neat-o bottle which is now proudly on my window sill, available at your neighbourhood LCBO.

Plans for the day include visiting my grandmother, going to the pharmacy, depositing some cheques (BIG DEAL!!!!!), preparing Christmas present number one, maybe making my favourite Sinterklaas treat (speculaas!), and one other thing... what was it... oh dear. It was probably one of those things.

update: Willie says he doesn't think it tasted that ordinary. Shows what I know.