>> Sunday, December 23, 2007

This year has been so busy, so this Christmas seems to have arrived quite suddenly and we're barely prepared! We've managed a little tree in our front window, with our presents underneath and a little row of fairy lights on the front of the house. My parents are coming to lunch Sunday, so we've rushed around trying to make the house look its best while also working on some of the painting and furniture rearranging that needed doing now that the floors are done. It's a good motivation when we're really quite tired because we'll enjoy the house being tidy ourselves over the holidays.

The kitchen is really quite liveable despite the lack of fitted cabinets and sink since we have two sideboards for storage and a table for counter space. Most of my time lately (after getting illustration work done) has been spent moving furniture and things and patching up the bathroom walls. We removed so many shelves and cabinets from the walls in the bathroom since we've moved in that it left a lot of marks. Then the workers (as would be expected) left a few scratches and chipped paint patches here and there. But now it's finally ready for the ocean blue paint. I painted a few large areas to live with the colour for a bit before going ahead. And I think it will be nice.

But one of my favourite holiday things to do is finally have some time (sort of) to do crafts just for the fun of it. The embroidery hoops are from the shop I mentioned before, The Workroom. My friend and I went to the stitch n' bitch hosted by Karyn, and were inspired by the gorgeous fabric hoops that she has decorating the walls. I bought a few hoops while I was there (so affordable!) and chose my fabrics and made them up tonight. It's a really simple project with quick results. These are now decorating our hallway.My other project is a hat with a "wheat sheaf" pattern in light grey wool. I'm going to work on that over the holiday and will show you when it's done. When I'm always so busy I feel I always have to be doing something. I can't just watch a movie on tv without feeling guilty for not being productive. So I knit.

Happy holidays to everyone and see you in the new year!


My craft table

>> Friday, December 14, 2007

You can see one of the messenger bags in the corner of this picture

The craft sale at the Tranzac went pretty well. I had Bradley to keep me company and a few friends dropped by. So nice to see you!

I'm wondering about going back this weekend. I don't have a table reserved but the organizer said I could come by and there would either be a cancellation or she could find me a small table/corner. So if you missed me last week you could come this weekend.

My table was a bit dark so these aren't great pictures, but here are some of the bags:These are my new needle books. There are just three left. The covers are brown cordoruy or linen, with wool applique flowers and cream-coloured wool pages.
I found this glass tray recently and used it to display my jewellery:
I like the Tranzac Club. I used to live on Brunswick Avenue in a rented studio apartment on the third floor of one of the old Victorian houses. Now that I think of it, the bathroom floors on the second floor had nice old hexagonal floor tiles. And I used to go to the Tranzac a lot. They have lots of different events there, including my friend John Southworth who played last Saturday evening - a show I was sorry to miss. And they've had lots of crafts shows over the years, back when I was wondering if I would try it myself one day. So it feels quite cosy...and sort of nostalgic.


We have plumbing!

>> Thursday, December 13, 2007

We moved back into our house last weekend and had nothing but the toilet in the bathroom. We used the shut-off valves from the sink to get water. It was like camping in our own home. But I needed to be home to be able to meet an illustration deadline and get ready for the craft sale - I had odds and ends for that tucked all over the place. Our furniture was crammed all over the place so that we had to climb over things to move around or find things. The bedroom had the watertank in the doorway so we couldn't even close the door.

So you can imagine how thrilled we were when the plumber turned up and quickly put back the water tank (hot water! hurray!) and tub (bathing! I missed it!) and sink (heaven). The best part was finally seeing our new bathroom floors with the furnishings in the room, because without them I was wondering if the tile was too small - it looked a bit busy. But with the furnishings in there it's just right. The traditional style of hexagonal tile makes it look like those floors could have always been there and they work perfectly with the old clawfoot tub, and in short, I think they're beautiful. The porcelain also feels lovely, it's hard to describe but it's just very nice.
Also I was very happy with how the cream paint on the tub looked with the new floor - there aren't a lot of colour choices with Tremclad but the cream really works (it's not quite as yellow as the picture above). And finally the new IKEA vanity/sink is also beautiful and soooo much better than the old one. It's a bit taller which I find more comfortable and I even love the shiny chrome knobs we picked to match the rest of our fixtures.
There are still a few small problems, our new faucet was bought out of the box and there was a small part missing. So for now we have a different stopper in there and it doesn't close all the way and isn't the right one. Also, the new flooring is higher than the old one, due to the Ditra and porcelain tile being thicker than vinyl tile. The plumber had no trouble adjusting the drain length, but the offset supply lines are too short (and it looks like they got a bit bent). So we need to buy new ones because for now the tub is installed on a bit of an angle in order to make it fit. Soon I'll be painting the walls, and once that's done I can do a full reveal.

Our kitchen is looking very empty. When a room is bare you can really see it's qualities and it's really a nice space. The big window and sliding doors let in so much sunlight - I've been tempted to live without cabinets and turn it into an airy studio. But I guess I have to be practical. Anyway, now the walls are smooth and I can paint those too, and our cabinets are ready for pick-up at IKEA. Yesterday we put back our appliances and a little table, so we've created a kitchenette area that is all we need for now.The dishes get washed in the bathroom so of course I had to buy this cute vintage mug for the scrubbie...For the wall colours, I've been so inspired by the January Martha Stewart Living. I noticed a lot of pale blue and yellow, including mustard yellow which created a really fresh (but almost vintage style) colour scheme that appeals to me so much. You can even see it in our dishes on the chair in the kitchen photo, we have a pale blue Denby stoneware set, and a brown and mustard yellow striped vintage set of dishes that's more casual.
The bathroom isn't as sunny as the kitchen, there's a window but it faces a wall. So the white walls are too stark and it needs a bit of colour. I've been wanting pale blue walls, but I was wondering how pale blue would go with the cream floor and tub then realized this was the colour scheme I was seeing in the magazine and loving. It was even already there in my favourite soaps in my Jonathan Adler soap dish. So I've picked up a big can of Benjamin Moore's "ocean air" and I can't wait to see it on the walls!


Craft sale preparations!

>> Saturday, December 08, 2007

We're back at home and all the tiles are installed. There's still some finishing work to do but I think it's going to be really nice. So today I'm getting everything ready for the craft sale tomorrow:

The Artisans Gift Fair (free admission)
The Tranzac Club (south of Bloor between Bathurst and Spadina)
292 Brunswick Avenue
from 12-6pm

I've made a few pincushions recently, from lovely fabric I bought at a wonderful new shop, The Workroom, that we visited the other day after the Designer Fabric Outlet. The owner Karyn, imports all the best Japanese fabric, and has pretty displays of vintage threads and jars, and has a row of little tables with sewing machines you can rent by the hour. The shop has classes and a library with all the best crafts books. It was like looking at my own bookself!Today I'm finishing up little details such as adding nice pearl snaps for the handbags. I really love my new labels and have been adding them to everything. My table will have pouches, handbags, totes, pincushions, needle books, silver beaded jewellery, portable shoppers made from red and white leafy IKEA fabric that have matching little bags to keep them in, wool trivets for your teapots, knitted eyeglass cases and every purchase comes with free Thumbelina gift tags! Hope to see you there...


You have to use your imagination

>> Thursday, December 06, 2007

Things are really coming along now, the large kitchen and hall tiles are almost completely installed. There's just this last patch in the hall and 2nd closet to do. The tiles look white but they're actually very very pale grey with tiny matchstick lines of grey and white. They'll also look nicer once the grout is added. It's going to be a light grey so there won't be such dark lines between the tiles.

To the left you can see the bathroom is almost finished too. It doesn't look perfect, but I know it will once the grout is there. We've been visiting the house throughout the project and we can see that this job has been done with careful attention to detail, things we didn't even think about ourselves. Once we add the new baseboards, paint the walls and return the clawfoot tub and new vanity it's going to be really nice I think. Right now the pattern is a little hard on the eyes, mostly due to the dark lines between the tiles.
They've also done more work on the walls where the tiles were removed and they're looking really good. I know once we prime we'll see places we have to touch up a bit here and there but that's easily done.So far so good...


Velvet flower purse

>> Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I spied this fabric at the Designer Fabric Outlet store on Queen West (1360 Queen St. W, between Dufferin and Landsdowne) recently. This store is amazing, they have, if anything, too much choice. My favourite part is that all the fabric is in small swatches on hangers, organized by fiber, colour and pattern, and so it's very easy to browse through. My friend Sarah and I spent ages in there. Don't forget to go upstairs for extra fabric on bolts - and even more choices.As promised I'm showcasing some of the things I'm making for my table at the Artisan's Gift Fair this Sunday. I thought this fabric was really gorgeous and perfect for a evening bag. I love the colour scheme of tan, grey, white, black and red. Also the black parts of the flowers are velvet and very soft. Since I'm not home I don't have all my fabric with me, so it's lined with some of the linen I bought. Usually linen is a bit pricey for a lining but since I don't have anything else with me, this bag is just that much more special. There's a pocket inside, and I'll be adding a snap or button clasp when I get home.

I have a dressy black dress that needs something just like this to go with it! Just one question, should the closure be a snap or button? A snap is more practical and easier to open and close but a button could be prettier. What do you think?


Mini barkcloth sketching case

>> Monday, December 03, 2007

Just in case it's possible you're tired of seeing our cracked walls and subflooring...this is a crafts project I made earlier last month and didn't post yet. I bought these pretty barkcloth curtains on ebay and was looking for something to make with them. This is back when we could put our laundry out on the line! This post will also serve as a tutorial if you'd like to make this style of bag.

These are the fabrics I chose:
Here are the pieces cut out, two squares for the lining and two squares for the outside. Then two pieces to seam together for the flap:
This is the flap seamed together then overstitched:
The two squares are sewn together then box corners added to both the outside and lining:
The flap is lined, turned right side out then pressed:
Tuck the flap and handles strap in between your outside and lining and pin in place. I added my label to the outside first:
Voila! A cute case for a small sketchbook and pencil.
And here's the front of the finished case:
I entered this in the sewbeit contest but didn't win... It sounds like the other entries were more creative. But I love the case anyway so it was good to have the contest to motivate me to sew it and take a break from other work. And there's lots more barkcloth so hopefully I'll make some other things with it for the sale.


An orange sea

>> Sunday, December 02, 2007

On the weekend we had a look at the house and the floors are now a lovely sea of orange Ditra. (Ditra is the orange plastic that looks like a waffle and will support the tiles while providing water proofing.) It's been neatly laid everywhere except for the tiny kitchen closet because they ran a bit short of the material.The walls had also been skim coated everywhere new drywall was installed. It's looking pretty tidy now.
We had a few chores to do ourselves, such as removing the rest of the old cabinets. We're almost done now, the doors are all off the last batch of upper cabinets. We also repaired the cracked corners in the closet (pictured above). The drywall needed some fresh screws as the nails that were used originally had loosened. After securing the drywall we patched up the cracks. No more drafty gaps!
We also painted a second coat on the clawfoot tub. The paint was looking a bit thin in places but now I think it's just fine. (There was a tiny bit of chrome that lifted off from the drain to reveal the brass underneath and that stressed me out a bit. I know it doesn't show but it shouldn't have done that and our new plumbing fixtures were very expensive. Ah well.) Bradley also replaced the old thermostat in the kitchen and we threw out the old gold faceplate that was on the light switch. Both those items had been tucked under the cabinet we ripped out, and were half on the wall and half on the old tile backsplash. Which needless to say looked terrible. So nice to have that sorted out.

And finally, the word from our tiler is that they are going to start laying tiles on Monday - hurray! Here's a glimpse of the lovely porcelain tile we have for the bathroom. I can't wait to see it in place.We've spent the last few days visiting IKEA and working on our kitchen plan. We're now satisfied with our choices and we've placed the order. We changed our mind about a few things and our cabinet doors are going to be "Adel white" instead of Lidingo. Adel is a plain shaker style door.

When you go to IKEA you can use their computer program and quickly convert from grid to 3D views of your kitchen design. It's really helpful to see it that way. We've kept the basic layout of our kitchen, but we wanted to fine tune the cabinet sizes so that we could have as much symmetry and consistency as possible. Not as easy as we thought it would be at first. But I think we've done well...


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