Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays!!


We hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season with friends and family close at hand, or close in heart!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Table Runner

I was recently inspired by a Christmas table runner that first appeared on Kathy Mack's fabulous blog, Pink Chalk Studio, in this post. As you can read for yourself if you visit her, the runner appeared on the cover of the Christmas/Holiday edition of Quilting Arts magazine.

I knew as soon as I saw the runner that I would have to make it. So, I rummaged through my fabric stash for Christmas material. Not quite enough. Shopping trip in order. Eventually, I made it to one of our local fabric stores and was completely wooed by fat quarters in autumn hues of gold, burgandy, orange, and green!! OK, so there's lots of time before Christmas, right? I bought the autumn fabric instead and made this:

The binding strip is the first one I've done that's cut on the bias. That was fun- and not half as much trouble as I imagined. Although I must have calculated incorrectly, since I should have had enough material for a 2.5 inch wide strip, but ended up cutting it an inch narrower to ensure I had enough! Sewing the binding strip by hand on the back always takes me ages, and it took a couple of free hours last night to finish it off.
I experimented with "stippling" while I quilted, using a varigated thread. I also did a little of free-motion quilting with my darning foot, and it turned out OK, I think. My quilting skill is still a work in progress!
The autumn version of this runner must have been meant to be, as Kathy has teased her blog readers with a new Christmas table runner that I think I'll do instead. Or maybe I'll make both of them. But, first, I need to finish my sweater. I've started the second sleeve.... projecting to have it done by the end of the long weekend (hey, I can always dream!!).


Friday, September 26, 2008

Changing Seasons


September has always been my favorite month. The excitement of starting a new school year, the changing fall colours, sparkling stars in the crisp evening air that come out earlier than you expect... things have always seemed to come together for me in September. Except for this year. This year, I'm struggling to cope with it all:

-three kids who go to three different schools each morning,

-three courses to teach, in addition to my research and committee work (OK- one grad course I'm only "helping" with)

-a new schedule for the kids "extra" activities (swimming, basketball, gymnastics, piano/music)

-and, most dreaded of all, an impending KITCHEN RENOVATION (gulp!)


I just can't seem to get into the swing of it all yet, and we're already near the end of the month. I'm sure things will smooth out eventually, and life won't feel so hectic. I might even have time for this blog again someday!

I realize that I'm so very lucky to have these kinds of complaints, and that there are probably many people who'd trade their problems for mine in an instant. So, I'll stop complaining now, and try to enjoy what promises to be a beautiful September weekend in this part of the world.
Hope your weekend is wonderful.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

TA DA!! The Quilt is DONE!

I have *finally* finished DX's One Hundred Good Wishes Quilt!! The last few inches of blind stitching the binding strip was the hardest. But *it* *is* *done*- just about one year after we got back home with him (hey, I never claimed to work quickly).

So... what do you think?

I'm so happy with it- the top is made from 103 different "patches" of material, all that came with a good wish, with another piece of material given to us used for the cream-coloured inside border. On the back, we have "Hairy Potter" (upside down in the photo below) from a t-shirt donated for the quilt by a good friend, Vi.

Thomas the Tank material makes up the rest of the backing, as well as the binding strip.

Phew!

I have another quilt top ready to go for one of my girls. So, maybe by Christmas... or Valentine's Day... or Easter... lol! First, I have to finish the sweater that I hemmed and hawwed about back in June (I decided on the funky, swingy pattern, and I now have a back and half a front!).

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beijing 2008



Are you enjoying the Games? We are! I have always been a fan of the Olympics. The whole ideal of athletes competing in a spirit of fair play, respect and unity has always got to me. Some of the stories of the hardships overcome are so inspiring. I'm not particularly athletic, but I can appreciate the level of committment and dedication that these individuals have. And that shared look of absolute focus and determination that you see on their faces during competition- just incredible!

And how about our Canadian gymnast Kyle Shewfelt? Read CBC's story and backgrounder on him here, and the London Free Press's article here.

What a role model Kyle is. Our daughters were watching his interview with CBC's Ron MacLean last night- and I was so profoundly grateful that they could listen to a true Canadian hero who really gets what its all about. His attitude towards life is something we all could benefit from. Thanks, Kyle.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

...experiencing delays


It seems that my blog posts are experiencing ever-increasing delays. I think I may be blogged-out.

Things are good here. We are incredibly blessed. What's left to say?

(Except this: I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT SALES OF "GUITAR HERO" ARE GOING THROUGH THE ROOF! It must be due to excellent marketing, 'cause people can't think the product is actually decent. OR maybe I'm almost 40 :))

This blog may be coming to its natural end. I'm not quite sure. I still enjoy checking in on other blogs, but writing for this one- not so much.

So... I'll see how things evolve (or devolve). Not going anywhere yet, but I may be ready for a radical change.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Celebrate!

It was Canada Day yesterday- DX's first one. He was decked out in red and white and had a ball at our local celebrations!


Of course, there was cake:








Yummy!

I wish all our American friends a wonderful Independence Day long weekend.


Oh, one last picture- I love this one! The kids were on the way to the park. Do you remember how it felt to be on your way to your favorite playground?

Ah, pure summer.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Latest LWB Newsletter

Click on the title above for the Love Without Boundaries June 2008 newsletter.

Most of you know all about this wonderful charity, but in case you don't, here's how they describe their beginnings:

"Love Without Boundaries began in the year 2003, after a group of adoptive parents came together to help save the life of one tiny boy in China. Following his successful heart surgery, they realized that people with a pure love for helping children can truly make a difference. LWB incorporated as a 501(c)(3) charity in the state of Oklahoma, and our worldwide team of volunteers went to work. In just five short years, we have watched our foundation grow from providing a handful of surgeries and baby formula in 2003 to touching the lives of thousands of children today through foster care, medical, education, and nutrition programs. In 2007, we delivered over one million dollars of direct humanitarian aid to children, while maintaining an overhead of less than 3%."

Inspired?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Last Class, Must Sew

Yesterday, I finished the marking for the "doubled up" 6 week lab course I just taught (these courses are brutal, consisting of a regular 12-week semester's work, compressed into half the time). Phew!

So, last night I celebrated while the kids played Wii and sewed this "pouch sling":





No, it's not for me- it is for a friend, now living in the US, who recently had a new baby. Here's my "baby model"!


People either love or hate slings. I loved the one I had when my girls were about 8-15 months old, but before they were that age I was not comfortable using it, and, after about 18 months, they were not interested in sitting in it. Plus, at 18 months they were getting heavy to lug around, and a stroller was the more attractive option!

I think if I had this "pouch" type of sling when my daughters were small infants, I would have been more comfortable with it. Thinking back 11 years, the sling I had was probably too big for me- I'm barely 5'2". Fit is important in slings.

Of course, with Daniel, I figured he was already too old to want to sit in a sling, as he was almost 3 when he was adopted. I did use a hip carrier with him, but, again, it's hard to lug around a 27 lb toddler on your hip for very long. Or maybe I'm just a weakling ;)

So... about slings... I'd definitely recommend to anyone either giving birth or adopting to try a few out. There are all sorts of different styles to choose, and some work better with different body types... check this site to see the varieties that exist: http://www.mammasmilk.com/pages/makeyourown.php

A word of warning- until you know what style works for you, don't plunk down a lot of $$ on a sling. They can be surprisingly pricey. BUT, since they are also relatively simple pieces of cloth, it doesn't take either a lot of sewing skill or time to make one. If you have a sewing machine, try it! If you like the result, you can make another, and another...

Happy slinging!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Summer Solstice

As the sun spirals its longest dance,
Cleanse us

As nature shows bounty and fertility
Bless us

Let all things live with loving intent
and to fulfill their truest destiny...

Wiccan blessing for Summer

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Price of Gas...


Since my last post, we've decided that our vacation plans, which included driving about 5500 km, are not wise in these times of rising fuel costs. Oil hit $137 per barrel yesterday. Unbelievable. And I think I'm happy about it.

To be clear, I'm not happy that we had to change our vacation plans. But I wonder if the rising cost of oil is not just the "shock" that we all need to realize what our collective greed for petroleum is doing to this planet we call home.

When something that society's "fringe" (of which I've always aspired to be part of) has been yelling about for decades suddenly hits the mainstream in the pocketbook, things get serious. When there are new opportunities to make money from environmentally-friendly options like hybrid cars, or alternate energy sources, or organic food, these items become more readily available in the marketplace. And, I think, this is a good thing. For the most part, anyways.

I've always envisioned a lifestyle for myself and my family that involved trying to minimize our ecological footprint on the planet. I think, in recent years, we've been missing the mark by a lot. Our lives are rather typical of a three kid, suburban, middle-class, double-income professional existence, which, in general, does not tread lightly on this Earth. We take some efforts to make more environmental choices in our day-to-day lives, but I'm not sure that the collective impact is all that great. I believe that our lifestyle, like that of most families in Western society, is simply unsustainable.

How can I match my desire for a "lighter, kinder" lifestyle with the reality of our fast-paced lives? Open to suggestions here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Just watching the river flow...


Well, not really. My work life switched into super high gear mode a few weeks ago, and may continue that way indefinitely (well, OK, I'll get a reprieve when we take a 2 week vacation).

But it has meant blog-neglect, quilt-neglect, and no new knitting projects. However, the kids and the pets are still getting fed, so its all good!

So, I'm still here. Just not as much.

Oh... the photo... if you don't recognize them, they're The Jonas Brothers, Disney superstars and my 11 year old's latest obsession. Believe it or not, part of our vacation is planned around seeing them in concert. I can't believe I just wrote that.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


To all women who nurture life in their hearts, and with their whole beings... whether your children are near or far, known to you or not, have a wonderful day.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Special Day


We celebrated DX's Baptism Day yesterday. The white silk outfit that we bought in Nanjing fit him perfectly. But, let me tell you, is it ever hard to find plain white shoes or sneakers for a boy around here. So, he wore his "Bob the Builder" boots for the occassion. Somehow, they seemed strangely appropriate!

Of course, no party is complete without CAKE. Here's what my husband ordered for the day:


So, maybe not what I would have picked out for a christening, but what are you going to do!?!

KACHOW!

Macro Photos 6 & 7






Saturday, April 12, 2008

This or That?

I'm planning on starting a new knitting project soon. I know I want to knit a sweater- for myself. But I'm indecisive about what I want. I've seen a few very nice patterns lately and, well, I'm like a kid in a candy store, unable to pick anything because everything looks so good!

Here are a few of the sweaters that I've been considering:

First, from the Spring edition of Interweave's Knits Spring 2008 magazine-
It's the jacket on the cover, and I think its just the cutest thing, yet could be quite elegant. I'd probably do it in another colour, though.



Then, there is this cute little number, designed by Connie Chang Chinchio, to be knitted in silk:



I just love it- it's so fresh and youthful. And I love the colour.

I also saw another pattern recently on the Berroco website that I really like, called "Montparnasse":


I think it is very "European" in styling, and I love the asymmetry. But, when I showed it to DH he said something like "I think it would make you look middle-aged."
Phhhhtttt... there went the air out of that balloon.
Apart from the fact that I actually am just about middle-aged, it's not like I want to emphasize the fact. But, what does he know, right?
I have to say that I'm leaning towards the tangerine silk sweater, even though I'm a bit intimidated by the chart pattern.

So... any opinions? Which one should I go for? Oh, to have the time to knit all three!

Macro Photo #5



...and #4



Macro 3



Macro Challenge #2



Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kid Update


As it turns out, this blog seems to be moving away a bit from it's original intent- which was to chronicle our adoption journey to our son, DX. He has been home with us since August, and is doing fabulously! Since I've been mostly blogging about the little crafty things that I've been doing, I thought it might be high time to give an actual "kid" update.


DX had a Cleft Team visit last week and saw his surgeon. His mouth has healed very well- there are no fistulas (tiny holes), and the palate itself has a good "length"! For those of you not living in the world of cleft lip/cleft palate, these things are important for the quality of his speech. If too much air can escape from his mouth to his nose while he speaks, he would sound very "nasaly" (or, more correctly, 'hypernasal'), a problem that is not uncommon in cleft-affected kids and often requires further surgery. So, this is great news!!


We also saw his ENT, who was convinced that as a result of a vascular birth mark inside his ear (long story!), his hearing was seriously affected on one side. He sent us for a hearing test- DX was *so* cooperative!- and it turns out that hearing from one ear is normal, while the other ear has mild hearing loss only- not even serious enough to require a hearing aid! Given that the ENT had been talking about hearing implants in our son's future, this is also great news!!


He is continuing with speech therapy, which he will probably need for several years. Language and speech development are both areas of concern for us, since he's had a lot going on to "catch up" with his peers in language. He's had to learn English in the last 7 months, deal with new equipment (his palate after his surgery) for speech, undergo 2 surgeries, etc., etc... That's a lot for a 3 year-old! And, in general, cleft-affected children do experience language delays that are related to their delays in producing speech. Anyways, each time we go to speech therapy, the therapist sees an improvement in how he is putting words together. Yesterday, she played a game with him to informally test his knowledge of colours, shape, numbers, and letters, and following it, she said that he responded at the appropriate age level for all those concepts! Three months ago, that would not have been the case.


So, things are moving along so well with our boy! He's such a great kid. We're so blessed to have him.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

30 Day Macro Challenge


So, here is my first photo for the 30 Day Macro Challenge, started by Orange Flower. My plan is to take photos of things lying around the house and call the collection "Around Our Place". Inventive, huh!?!
Well, since DX arrived, we've got a whole new set of toys around our place, so I thought that "Percy" (oops- I stand corrected by a 3 year-old- that's "Henry") would be fun to start with.

What a great way to learn more about taking photos on your camera's macro setting. You should think about joining!

Monday, March 31, 2008

UFOs...

...or UnFinished Objects, as they seem to call them in the craft bloggy world.

Here's the latest one, 2 years since I knit the first stitch, finally finished yesterday on a snowy Sunday afternoon:
Umm... it's not exactly how I imagined it would turn out. I attempted to merge a great Rowan pattern with one I found in a knitting magazine. The result is a little, let's say, unusual. I had DX model it (over much protestation on his part, I might add!), and he reminded me of a little furry-backed mammal. See for yourself:


I definitely should have stopped the fuzzy stripes earlier- at the third one from the bottom, I think, to line up with the sleeves.

I'm pleased with how the front turned out, though.

My 3 year-old niece who will be getting it in the mail soon is a pink fanatic, so I think she'll at least like looking at it. I'm not sure how much she'll enjoy wearing it (those fuzzy bits could tickle)! But I have the satisfaction of seeing it finally "done", and I've learned a little in the process. That's what it's all about, right?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

This One's for Flo


I wanted to write this post for my friend, Florence, who is moving to the North West Territories in a couple of days. I'm really going to miss her.

What can I tell you about Flo? She's smart, funny, real, grounded, savvy, committed, resourceful, kind, caring... I could go on and on, but you get the idea- I have a lot of admiration for this woman. She's a Mom, wife, daughter, business woman, organizer. She's generous with her time, talents, and blessings. Most of all, she's a true friend. A lot of people in this neck of the woods will miss her, and the rest of her family.

So, I made this scarf as a going-away gift for her. The fabric is mostly animal prints (including a small piece of dragon print from DX's OHGWQ, for luck and prosperity!), since animals are one of Florence's loves in life, and they were the reason that we even met at all, almost 5 years ago.


Follow her adventures on her blog, Life Lessons With Toast. I know I'll be checking in regularly!

Thanks, Flo, for everything you are to so many people.

Monday, March 24, 2008

LWB Cleft Home

I just got an update from one of my favorite China charities, Love Without Boundaries. They have been setting up a special foster home for cleft-affected children, and, according to their new blog, the babies have arrived and are settling in nicely.

Check the link by clicking on the title of this post- the babies are beautiful!!

This project is so close to my heart. As most of you know, DX was born cleft-affected. To think that these babies in the LWB home are going to get the special attention that they need just makes my heart soar!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Springtime?

What a week it has been.

Major snow storm on Monday, freezing rain and ice pellets on Tuesday, more rain on Wednesday, followed by, at long last, on this very first day of spring, a little bit of sunshine! So, I'm cautiously hoping that more spring-like weather will follow... soon...

This was the view from the upstairs window early on Wednesday morning:

Yuck.


Storm days have their value, though. On Monday evening, I finally finished the quilting of DX's One Hundred Good Wishes Quilt. Now, I just need to cut a binding and sew it on. That should take a couple of weeks to get at!


Doesn't DX look excited!?!

I think he was a little bored by the "cocooning" that the weather forced us to do.


Over the last couple of weeks, I also made some progress towards finishing a sweater I started to knit for my niece about 2 years ago. Of course, it won't fit the niece for whom it was intended- but luckily I have another one, and she is just about the right size to fit into the sweater!! Here it is, half-sewn together, looking something like a fuzzy pink animal.


I'm afraid I won't get much sewing or knitting done this week. I have a presentation to give at the end of the week, so that will keep me occupied. On the bright side, I'll be anxiously watching the mail this week for my fat quarters of black & white fabric to arrive. The mailing deadline was Saturday, so let the squares arrive. I just *love* swaps!!