Getting Away

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Blog, Family | 3 Comments

After a very hectic few weeks meeting work deadlines, designing a new fabric collection, finishing up colour work on another, sewing for the upcoming release of fabric collection number 5 (I am sooooo excited about this one, and it’s right around the corner… mid-September it hits the stores), adapting designs for a line of wall art, journals, sketch books, note cards and growth charts that is also coming down the pike very soon, and trying to catch a breath between racing my kids to summer camps and swimming classes, Greg took 2 weeks off work, we loaded the kids in the car and finally took a much needed vacation.

tamara kate ns beach

Off to the East coast to visit my family, we went. While I’m apt to liken a 13 hour car ride with a six- and an eight-year old in the backseat to childbirth, the good thing is you get the baby at the end of it all. We had day after day of beach wandering, kite making, fishing (or attempted fishing. Sadly, it seems the Atlantic Ocean’s fish population has all been gobbled up) and evenings of good food, good wine and good company. There were even moments of the hardest thing of all, doing absolutely nothing.

We’re back home now and still have this week ahead of us to venture where we wish, and get moments of work in on the side here and there. And some sewing… I feel like sewing today!

I hope you are all having a joyful summer. Gotta soak it all in while it lasts!

{ Happy Sewing } … Embroidered Tooth Pillow

My boy is so excited … his first tooth is wiggling. These little life’s big moments take precedent and should be marked with something special. Ever since his big sister lost her first tooth a few years ago and I had made her a little owl pillow so the tooth fairy would know where to find it, he has been anticipating his turn. This is Emma’s:

Max does the most delightful line drawings of “des bonhommes” (little guys … whether it be super heroes, aliens, monsters, family members … we refer to them all as “des bonhommes”, pronounced “bonom”). So after mulling over various ideas with him (a race car, a fire truck, an airplane with a giant propeller), we decided he would draw a monser and I would translate that to fabric & take care of the rest. In about a minute & a half, this mini masterpiece was whipped up.

I scanned it, enlarged it & printed it to the desired size (about 4″ tall). As I did not have any printable transfer paper, I decided to go the route of a light box to transfer the image to fabric. An iPad with a white screen works wonderfully for this (or any computer monitor, for that matter). Simply adjust the screen’s luminosity to its highest, lay the paper image on the screen and place the desired fabric over top. Trace the image with a pencil & you’re set. A skein of embroidery thread and lots and lots of lovingly done little backstitches later, a few other scraps of fabric and some stuffing, and the project was complete.

I wanted to stay true to his mark making, so I left in all those overlapping bits of lines.

I did the same thing with his signature to embellish the tooth pocket.

Now we wait patiently to have something to put in it.

Stitching Family Heirlooms

I’ve been thinking about my creative grandmothers lately. First, my maternal grandmother (that’s what we called her, Grandmother … she was quite a lady, born into a very “proper” New Brunswick family in 1905).

Thinking of the things she lovingly sewed for her three granddaughters when we were little girls. I have the baby quilt she made for me that my own daughter sleeps with now.

And she also made each of us a tote bag to carry our books. I think mine disintegrated from overuse at some point, but somehow I ended up with my older sister’s.

She obviously loved doing appliqué work, which is probably why I enjoy it too, though I admit I am nowhere as good at it as she was. And her embroidery and crewel work skills are to be envied, for sure. Just look at all those teeny-tiny buttonhole stitches framing every fanciful bird in my blanket.

This is a cushion cover she created for me long, long ago. It is now stained and threadbare in spots, so I don’t use it for fear of it reaching the end of its life, but you can see it has been well loved through the years.

And another I have inherited that was folded away in a drawer at my Mom’s, but now takes pride of place in our home.

While my Grandmother used beautiful quality linens, cottons and yarns in harmonious colours, my Dad’s mom, Grand Mummy, was more creative with her fabric choices. She wasn’t picky about the fibres she used, probably a result of living in Trinidad where one was limited by what was available on the comparatively tiny island. At times she made dolls to sell to tourists from lots of zany polyester prints. One of my only memories associated with her is of bags of scraps of fabrics in a gazillion hot colours.

She made us each a mad random patchwork quilt (in various crazy patterned fabrics of unknown origin) that we sadly no longer have. What I do still have, however, is a “Snow White & the 7 Dwarves” set. I don’t know what she stuffed them with … they are really hard. And I have no idea what to do with them, but this girl who was never ever interested in visiting Disney Land, loves them completely.

I am probably a bit more my Grandmother in my sewing style and choices, but I strive to make choices with a bit more of the abandon that my Grand Mummy used. Either way, I would like to leave my children, and hopefully some day grandchildren, with some heirlooms of my own to carry on this tradition.

Happy Easter!

Posted by on Mar 31, 2013 in Blog, Family, Holidays | No Comments

Last year’s decorated eggs. This year there was a bit too much going on over the past week, what with Passover and birthday parties, to get my act together.

These were a multi-stepped project that the kids enjoyed helping with. First we hard boiled the eggs. Then, while they were still quite warm, we drew on them with crayons. The heat of the egg makes the crayons melt and adhere to the shell. Then we put them in dye baths. The dye is resisted by the wax, so you can get great contrasting colour play happening. And, for the final step (some of the less persistent kids flake out a bit by the time you get here), we randomly brushed on gold leaf sizing, waited for it to become a bit tacky, and applied gold & silver leaf. Oh … and from the tool box of a 6yr old, I do believe there was a bit of star-shaped glitter glue happening as well.

I hope the Easter Bunny shared a bit of sweetness with you all today.

More Grownup Than Yesterday

Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Blog, Family | 3 Comments

Emma ran into the bathroom this morning, squealing in delight, to let me know that she can now officially do sooooo much more than she could before, as today she is 7 years old, and therefore much more grownup than yesterday. The smile in my heart (as well as on my face) was only slightly tempered with the thought that she is so far removed from that tiny little girl who came into our lives seven years ago today.

I wanted her day to be as special as possible from the get-go, so I had done a wee greeting for her last night. This is the doorway to our kitchen/dining room where we spend our mornings.

I had offered to make cupcakes for her class as a special birthday treat today. Initially the plan was simple chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting. But no. Something more special, Mummy. I was game. I figured an hour or two was no big deal to make my daughter extra happy.

Five hours later, her class was complete.

Here she is on the right with her best buddy, Aya.

I used a really easy cupcake recipe, a yummy frosting recipe (with some cocoa powder added for darker skin tones), melted milk & dark chocolate for most hair (some are coloured crystallized sugar), m&m’s, jelly beans (halved) and other random candy for facial features. Each got a little name tag flag to avoid classroom chaos.

She was beyond thrilled with them this morning, and so excited to be able to share her special day with her class.

Happy Happy Birthday my beautiful, smart, loving, creative girl. Our life is so much fuller since you’ve come into it!

The Dollhouse Unearthed

Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 in Blog, Family | No Comments

Well, perhaps not unearthed, but this poor wooden house was dragged out of a tight storage space in my parents’ house over the holidays.

It has already lived a well-travelled life, having been purchased in Ontario around 35 years ago by my Mom who was trying to fulfill a childhood dream she had. It was brought to Trinidad where we lived at the time, and after a bit of fledgling work on it, she realized that old dream had long ago fizzled out. It made the trip back to Canada with us when we returned to live here about 10 years later. All that back and forth and change of climate coupled with time have taken their toll. The poor thing needs some love & attention.

First, the structure needs a bit of help. We put glue between the layers of plywood that had separated and clamped it to dry with some cute clothespins. Next, a bit of sanding & some paint will work wonders.

We are determined, Emma & I. We have made a wish list of items to create or find, that ranges from a sofa to bunk beds, to a set of lounge chairs and a parasol (she has lofty thoughts, this 6 yr old). Wallpaper is being designed (by the 6 yr old … yes, it’s going to be a pretty funky house, indeed). We have started creating dish ware, vases and planters.

Along with the house, there were some treasures in an old box: a wooden stairway that needs assembly, some china dishes & glassware, bathroom fixtures (even a toilet paper roll & holder) and some victorian furniture. These will be mixed with decidedly more modern finds, and hopefully someday in the not-too-distant future, an eclectic, fun dollhouse will take pride of place in her bedroom.

Oh, and don’t for a minute think we forgot the family that lives therein. Here’s the beginnings of it.

Yes, until we find some larger guy peg dolls, there are 2 moms, very fancilly dressed; a Russian-looking son with cape & cozy hat; another son in striped-tshirt, but no pants; and a little girl in sunny yellow. They were a fun project we did with whatever wonderful hand-dyed wool fabrics & embroidery yarns we could find in my Mom’s craft room.

Thanks Mom!

A 6-year old’s Sewing Project

Posted by on Jan 31, 2013 in Blog, Family, Hand Stitching | 2 Comments

I was out and about last Friday and wanted to get a little something to spark a weekend craft project for my Em. I happened upon, for the very first time, some simple, sweet little kits from Lamali.

I love the fact that they are open-ended, they spark the imagination to go in whatever direction it chooses. There are no images of suggested finished projects, or instructions. Simply a little sac of felted shapes, some pretty ribbon, embroidery floss, a few little bobbly bits and a bag of bright sequins and glass beads.

And at an average price of $3.99, how could one go wrong?

She had a clear idea in mind almost immediately (a night scape) and spent all of Sunday morning and evening working away. I gave minor assistance with needle threading, knot tying & careful cutting as per her hand-drawn pattern pieces, but the rest is all her.

I love the immediacy with which children make their decisions. “This is what I want to do & I’m 100% ready!”, “That fabric, not the other ones!”, “This is where it has to go!” and, the one I love the most, “It doesn’t need any more on it. Sometimes adding more is just too much, Mummy!”

The moon was the last addition. She was finally fading, my girl, so 3 giant stitches & all was done.

My Little Boy is Growing!

Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 in Blog, Family | No Comments

Today, our sweet, cuddly, funny Max is 5! I ask him with regularity to stop growing so quickly, but he insists he’s not able and that it must continue.

He has almost always been a happy, happy boy … even as a baby, always with a big smile on his dimpled face. Today his focus shifts with regularity from pirates to knights & castles, to cars & trucks, to bandits, to anything that flies. He is all boy!

Greg made him some incredible new wooden toys. A rocket and a spaceship. Truly a loving Papa whose creativity inspires me!

My minute contribution was painting the peg guys & adding Max’s name & the date to each vehicle.

They are to add to the other vehicles he has made for past birthdays and other special occasions. I will do a post about the whole lot soon.

But for today, Happy, Happy Birthday Maxou! You are loved!

Happy 2013! It’s Been a While …

Posted by on Jan 14, 2013 in Blog, Family, Holidays | One Comment

A Happy Happy 2013 to you all!

I know … I’m late. The time is a flyin’. A couple weeks of holidays go by and I, as usual, have a hard time getting back in the swing of things. It seems to always take a while to get the brain on track and focused on work. It’s happier doing a bit of everything and, on occasion, a bit of nothing.

So, here’s a little of what I’ve been up to:

– We went to spend Christmas with my parents in a little fishing village in Nova Scotia (no, my Dad’s not a fisherman, just loves living on the ocean). The kids were thrilled to spend time with them, and we stayed longer than anticipated so that they could hang out with their cousins. Here are the 3 girls sporting new Christmas presents (I couldn’t resist).

– My Mom gave me an insane 1500 piece puzzle (I love puzzles) that completely devoured 3 days of my life.

– I’ve been organizing.
A place for everything and everything in its place. This is an old shadow box of my Mom’s that I rescued from her crawl space. It has found a home in a happy almost-5-year-old boy’s room.

– I’ve been finally getting around to hanging pictures, prints, paintings & whatnot.
Somehow, even after trying my hardest, I always seem to end up with a pile of objects for which I simply cannot find a logical home. Treasures, kids’ 3-dimensional artwork that’s too good to get rid of, broken watches that need to be repaired or tossed … the list goes on. This time I am determined. It will not just get stashed in a bin, basket or box till next year. So for the moment, it graces our bedroom floor & I’m slowly working away at it. Small successes every day.

– I’ve been re-embracing cooking. Hopefully this will last longer than a week or two.

– I’ve been buying books.

– I’ve been reading.

-And finally, I’m getting back to work. New projects are popping up. Fun, fun, fun!

Halloween Starts Early

Posted by on Oct 25, 2012 in Blog, Family, Holidays | One Comment

Today was the kids’ last day of school before their Fall break starts. That meant being able to dress up for Halloween a bit early. 

While they had already made specific costume requests for the official Trick or Treat night, I couldn’t resist the temptation to do something else. To be creative just for fun. To use materials that I wouldn’t necessarily usually use, like artificial flowers, rubber bats & plastic leaves. To go that extra mile, just to put the biggest grins on their faces.

So here’s what I came up with:

Max, the mischievous late night monsieur.
Dollar store top hat dolled up with a piece of iridescent ribbon & some purple & blue feathers from our craft box, topped with a dollar store raven.
Rubber bats (yup, from the dollar store) with pin backs hot glued to their undersides, pinned on to a button up white shirt.
A bow tie I made from a $$store halloween necktie (because little boys always look so much more dashing in a bow tie).
Makeup of moustache, spider & monocle, not easily painted on a squirmy 4-yr old.

Emma, the colourful garden.
Emma doesn’t do things in half measures, so she could not be a garden nymph or fairy, she was the whole garden.
Silk flowers, butterflies & dragonflies, hot glued to a green toque.
A garland of plastic leaves with extra flowers, birds & bugs hot glued on hither & thither. (All dollar store finds)
A daisy painted around 1 eye & a dragonfly on the other cheek.
Simple as that. A pair of bright stripy leggings & a green felted dress my clever Mom made her a year or 2 ago that still fits.

This weekend’s job: finish next week’s costumes. And I do believe I will be donning that flower headpiece come Wednesday night!