December 15, 2014

On Holiday

Hi, folks!

It's been very quiet on the blog front lately due to my crazy busy schedule and new-found ability to sleep while standing up, or so it would seem most days.  However, I will be on holiday from this week through to the New Year and look forward to catching up with all of you then.

Wishing everyone a magical, safe and happy holiday season!


December 01, 2014

Getting Into the Season

Happy December!

Every year in November leading up to the Christmas season, my friends and I take an annual floral arranging course at the local and much renowned floral college, Ingvar Strandh.  We've been going there for years and they always have new projects, from wreaths to decorated candles to hanging arrangements and more.  It's always fun when you can go to these sorts of events and walk away with finished projects and they always look quite professional.

This year we took a half day course and did two projects (although not nearly as impressive as previous years): a decorated hyacinth bulb and a wreath, which also included a cute little handmade wire heart decoration.

Here's my little hyacinth with the bulb wrapped in fresh moss.  It's decorated with some lichen, dried apple slices and a little twig with red berries (can't remember the English or Swedish name for them).

And my finished wreath made from spruce boughs.  It's decorated with fresh moss balls and lichen, tiny fresh apples and dried apple slices, a small succulent plant and a handmade wire heart with berries and bow.  The smell is simply gorgeous!  And while this may look impressive, it's actually crazy easy when you have the supplies.

All finished!  I decided instead of hanging the wreath on a door where I wouldn't get to enjoy it so much to instead use it as a centre piece on my coffee table with a huge pillar candle (also made at the floral college a few years ago).  Now I get to see and smell its beauty every day.

November 29, 2014

Little One...Hello

Earlier this month friends of mine had a baby boy.  Naturally this meant that a baby card was in order.  I got to work straight away and in very little time came up with this (if I do say so myself - and I do) adorable card.

Now, would you believe that this card was entirely made from supplies from the Project Life baby girl kit?  Yes, indeed.  Everyone I know recently has been having baby girls and so my stash of baby related papercrafting is overloaded with pink, frilly cuteness.  And then suddenly a baby boy.  Well, I was up to the challenge.

I started shifting through the Project Life cards, looking for any non-pink possibilities.  Now, don't get me wrong, I see no problem in little boys having pink things and dolls and I certainly see nothing wrong with little girls having blue things and playing with Tonka Trunks but it's probably safest to play the gender neutral card in these situations.  So...I went with the fab retro orange and brown combination.

The elephants, stars and moon are from the Simple Stories baby girl collection kit and aren't they just the cutest?  I piled the elephants up on the bottom in a little family train.

Having added the elephants, there was suddenly this yellow from the baby elephant that was out of sync with the rest of the design and colour palette so I searched the Simple Stories sticker sheet for a way to bring more yellow into the card.  I found the moon and added some stars to make a visual triangle.  The cork cloud was a nice way of anchoring the stars and adding another texture and dimension of brown at the same time.

Finally - and I didn't take a photo of this part - I added the sentiment inside.  And to my horror, as I was writing out my note to my friends, I misspelt one of the words!  No!  What to do, what to do?  I grabbed for a package of word stickers and found a selection that not only fit with the message but even worked with the colour scheme and completely covered up my faux pas - whew!

November 26, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Hello, hello!

Wow, is it seriously Wednesday again already?  Amazingly, I got some extra stitching done over the weekend and that means more progress on my Nice People, Nice Things embroidery quilt.

It's shaping up nicely.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced:

November 24, 2014

Wish Patchwork Birthday Card

Hi, there!

Last month I made up a set of patchwork thank you cards and decided as my mum has been a professional quilter, it would only be fitting to make a similar patchwork card for her birthday this year.  As I still had many tiny little triangles left over from the first batch of cards, it was a very quick and easy make.

Wish Patchwork Birthday

Like the original set, I used a small doily and a die-cut, this time scalloped, and a sprinkling of gold sequins.  I also added some of the pink thread I used for the stitching between the doily and the die-cut.  I had intended on layering up some other elements but I didn't want to detract from the patchwork background so I decided to just keep it simple.

And thankfully, while this card won't make it to her on or before her birthday, it won't be months late like her Mother's Day card was - whew!

November 21, 2014

Kiva Update - Andres in Mexico

I received another update from Kiva on one of my loan investments - I'm really loving this feature and being able to keep updated on the progress of lenders.

Andres in Mexico received a loan to start his own cucumber plantation business and he's well under way.  Here's his update:

Reposted email from Kiva:
With the loan Andrés got from Kiva, he rented a 3,000 meter greenhouse in Yecapixtla, Morelos and planted 8,000 organic cucumber seeds.

Andrés can here from become a partner of Truequio’s cooperative and sell his cucumber production for exportation at a better price.

He is very enthusiastic about his work and the influence that young producers like him can have within his community to avoid migration and unemployment.

Andrés has also been an example to encourage other producers to request a loan and increase their production.

The picture shows Andres´ cucumber production in process.


Want to get involved with Kiva, too?  Join Kiva today!

November 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Hello, hello!

Just a short post to share with you today my most recent progress on my Nice People, Nice Things embroidery quilt.  I really like the simple elegance of this block.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced:

Until next time...

November 17, 2014

Celebration Tea Bag Pinwheel

Welcome back!

Recently I decided to try a new technique.  I was reading through a back-logged issue of Papercraft Inspirations and came across a Masterclass article for tea bag folding and thought I'd give it a whirl - if you like origami (and I do), then tea bag folding is just the thing for you, too.

Celebrate Pinwheel

As with origami, using a thin paper is helpful with the folding and obtaining crisp edges so I dug out some of the free 6x6" paper gifts from Papercraft Inspirations (as these are always thin quality paper) and got started making my pinwheel.  It was super quick and easy, although it turned out larger than I had anticipated.  I decided to mount it on a regular A6 card blank anyway, rather than a square, to give it some interest and really make it the focus of the card.  Similarly, I used a layer of vellum to diffuse the background pattern so it wasn't so overwhelming.

I dressed up the center of the pinwheel with a swirl of twine and two layered buttons, then sprinkled some pink/purple sequins around like a sparkling fireworks display, ran another length of twine along the fold and stamped a very simple sentiment onto the pinwheel itself.

This little message of cheer will be going to a colleague who is celebrating her 25th birthday and I hope it will put a sparkle in her eye.

November 15, 2014

A Cowl for Granny

Hello, hello!

Recently I made this cowl and really loved the whole crocheting process and how the final project turned out - quick, easy and a beautiful result.  I mean, what could be better?  So I decided I should make a few for Christmas gifts.

There's this wool shop near my work that I've always been meaning to go into and look around.  Unfortunately, as I work ridiculously late into the evening most nights, they're never open when I pass by.  However, I finally found some time to pop in and I found this super yummy wool calling out to me:

I don't know what it is with variegated anything but I love it!  And this pink/orange/purple combination was just too gorgeous to not go home with me.  And they even sell those chunky plastic buttons I adore so I scooped up a paisley-shaped purple one to go with it.

A weekend later and this was the result:

OMG, I'm totally in love!  I'm definitely going to need to go back and buy more of that same wool because I seriously need a second cowl like this just for myself.

And this time I made sure the wool was a uniform consistency, which really helped with the ease of crocheting and knowing I was using the correct loops and counting accurately.  I also like how you can see the stitch pattern with this one; it adds to the visual interest.

So there's a little Christmas gift for Granny done.  Hope she likes it (or I just may roll her for it - ha!)  You can also see the cowl I made for my mum for Christmas here.

November 10, 2014

Kiva Update - Carlos & Alonso in Mexico

Another lender update from Kiva!  This time on Carlos and Alonso's recycling initiative.  See how they're doing:

Reposted email from Kiva:

Carlos and Alonso, the popular firemen from Chiapas, have successfully started their community recycling program. They have gathered some of the families in their community to launch the plastic recollection and they are talking to local schools too!

With their project they are reactivating engagement between the members of their community as well as obtaining an extra income for keeping the town clean.


Want to get involved with Kiva and helping inspiring people around the world?  Join Kiva today!

November 07, 2014

Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox

Every year I try to set myself a goal to read 10 books.  A while back I started reading Michael J. Fox's autobiography.  It took me a bit of time to get through - not because the book wasn't good, just a busy life.  However, I'm pleased to say that I finished it off and it was a really interesting read.

You have to understand, as a child growing up in the '80s, I loved watching Michael J. Fox - Family Ties, all the Back to the Future movies and then later Spin City were all great favourites of mine.  The news of his Parkinsons diagnosis was shocking and saddening to the world over and so I was curious to learn more about the lesser known aspects of Fox's life.

So here's my short overview of the book.

You might be concerned that the focus of this autobiography would center too much on the Parkinson's diagnosis and aftermath but this is not the case.  Of course Parkinson's is sprinkled throughout the book but there is so much more to Fox's self-told story than merely his medical condition.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning about his life growing up in Alberta as an army brat, his struggles through school and his unlikely rise to fame.

The strategies he devised to cope with his new-found fame and fortune - from becoming a 'yes'-man to his fans and the tabloids to his unfortunate spiral into alcoholism - were completely unknown to me.  Similarly, the length of time he spent living with and the struggles of working with Parkinson's while keeping this information to himself and his family was amazing to learn.

For me, however, the most memorable part of the book was the opening chapter when Fox describes his first conscious recognition of his Parkinson's - the dancing baby finger on his left hand.  There is something in how he describes this moment that really stuck with me.

Overall, if you're also a fan of Michael J. Fox, you might want to give this one a read; it's a good autobiography, full of humour and warmth.

Book count 2014: 7/10

November 05, 2014

All Star Dad Card

Hello, hello!

If you follow my blog, you may recall that I've been behind in my card-making a lot this year, such as when I finally made my mum's Mother's Day card not in May but in July (and confession time - I've only just posted it end of October - eek!).  So, not to disappoint my step-father but his Father's Day card has similarly been enormously delayed but it was totally worth it because I'm thrilled with the design!

All Start Dad

You'll never believe this but the inspiration for this card came to me while I was out for a morning jog.  I'd been struggling with what sort of theme to use for this year's Father's Day card and then remembered that I'd bought some of October Afternoon's gorgeous Apple Cider line and the colours would work nicely for a masculine card.

I also picked up the puffy stickers for the line (which, btw, are absolutely gorgeous) - except that several of them are American football-themed and not something I would ever use.  But they would be perfect for a Father's Day card...  Now if only there was an awesome retro TV set included somewhere in the line and as luck would have it, there was the perfect TV card in the do-dads pack.  Score!  I even used up a bit of scrap OA Woodland Park paper with a retro picture story design on it in the layering.

Finally, I got to the sentiment, which I hadn't thought about at all by this point.  I knew I wanted something sports-themed and eventually landed on the obvious: all star dad.  This mix of Bella Blvd. letter stickers and Amy Tan Thickers layered up worked perfectly.  There are just some cards that come together so easily and are a joy to create and this was without a doubt one of them.

November 02, 2014

Kiva - October 2014

October has come to a close so it's time to make my monthly Kiva loan contribution.  I love it when I stumble across opportunities for big impact, such as a school that is providing improvements for its student body.  As a teacher, that clearly hits close to home but also the fact that this one contribution will positively improve 250+ people's lives, both on an immediate and long-term basis is just plain awesome.  Awesome.

Jinja Central School (Uganda)

A loan of $1,150 helps Jinja Central School to purchase a water filtration system to provide clean drinking water for its students.   

Greetings from Uganda! This is Justus. He is the Head Teacher of Jinja Central Primary School, a mixed school in the urban area of Jinja with 525 students. Jinja Central Primary School has requested a loan to cover the cost of installing and maintaining a UV water filtration system to provide clean drinking water for its students. The school does not currently have access to consistent clean drinking water and therefore has to spend a considerable portion of its budget on firewood, which is used to boil water for the children. Installing a water filtration system will therefore save the school money in the long-term as the cost of firewood will be reduced. The loan will enable the school to purchase a UV water treatment system with a 450 litre tank, which will be big enough to store clean drinking water for the students every day.

Jinja Central Primary School will repay their loan from their school fees, which they collect each term. Justus ultimately hopes that having access to safe drinking water will improve his student’s concentration and attendance by reducing the number of children that fall sick from water-borne diseases as well as increase the number of students coming to the school.

You too can get involved and contribute to a loan today!

October 31, 2014

Crocheted Cowl

Hi, there - welcome back!

So having dipped my toe into the world of crochet, I've been itching for a new project - something still at the easy/beginner level but with a bit more spectacular result than the mug cosy (cute as they are).  Scarves are always a pretty safe project but I found something that took the boring scarf up a notch: the cowl.

During my quilt guild's exhibition, I bought some beautiful blue and turquoise wool from one of the vendors and decided it was destined to become a lovely autumn cowl.  Paired with a chunky hot pink button I'd picked up at my mum's quilt shop before she retired, I sat one Sunday, armed with a 10mm crochet hook and made this:


Don't get me wrong, it wasn't as easy as I'd thought - well, the pattern was but the wool was not.  What I hadn't realised when I bought the wool was that it was the type at varies in thickness from chunky strand to thread-like width and back again.  That lack of uniform strand consistency definitely challenged my budding crochet skills but I persevered through and it all worked out in the end.

I went with the hot pink button to pick up the pops of pink scattered throughout the dye process.  It works really well with the natural holes created in the crochet.

Interested in making your own gorgeous autumn cowl?  Check out Fibre Flux's Margaret Button Cowl pattern.  As I said, it's a very easy pattern - you just need to learn two rows of stitches and you're set.  I also loved that she posted a YouTube tutorial at the bottom of the page to show the process; as a beginner and a visual learner, it was just what I needed.

October 27, 2014

Kiva Update - Rosalba in Columbia

I recently received an update on one of my Kiva loans that totally made the start of my day.

Remember Rosalba, the daycare teacher in Columbia?  She received her loan amount and has been putting her money to good use.  Check it out:

Reposted email from Kiva...
Rosalba lives with 2 of her children in one of the poorer neighborhoods of Medellin. Her passion for her daycare has guided her during the 15 years she has been doing this. We felt so welcome in her cozy home that houses the daycare 6 days a week and receives about 15 kids ages 1-5.

She showed off the decorations, partially painted walls, organized nooks, teaching materials and spotless albeit humble kitchen. The loan helped her buy teaching materials, materials and containers to better organize the daycare. Organization and decorations are vital for a 10 x 14 foot room housing toddlers!

Rosalba told us about the hardships she faced and challenges in working long hours in a daycare that is regulated by the government. She says, "I do this out of love and care for the children. I could easily work less and only worry about the little money I make, but I do this with love."

After taking care of her family she states, "Everything I earn I invest in the daycare, for the children." When we asked her how she envisioned her daycare in 5 or 10 years she said she wanted to have a bigger space for the daycare since the current living room is too small for active kids. She understands the context and background in which the children come from and wants to provide a healthy environment for them to be safe, healthy and educated.

Without the help of Kiva credit and Interactuar, she would not have been able to get a loan to improve the conditions of the daycare and continue caring for the children as well as she would like. Hearing her compassion for the children and her passion for the daycare made me proud to be part of the Kiva community who is contributing to impacting not just Rosalba but her community, one child at a time.


And remember, if you've found Rosalba's story inspiring, join Kiva today!

October 25, 2014

Howl Kit

Hello, hello!

Wow, so I had intended on making this post much earlier in the month but October's sort of got away from me so I'm afraid this comes a tad late...  No matter, it's time to share this month's Stash Scrap Kit Club: Howl.

Howl - October Kit

This fun kit combines deep purple with golden yellows and rich red/oranges.  Interestingly, purple is considered a neutral and is used as such by landscapers.  You can of course use all three colours or pair up just two for some fun autumnal and Thanksgiving or even Hallowe'en layouts.  I really like how Margareta has added in some interesting textures with ribbons, twine, glitter tapes and fabric flowers.

Ready for more inspiration?  Check out Margareta's Pinterest Lookbook, then go make your new kit and get scrapping!

And I promise I'll make a point of posting November's kit much sooner!

October 22, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Hello, hello!

It's been a while since I shared a WIP Wednesday so without further ado...  I present further progress on my Nice People, Nice Things embroidery quilt blocks.  Another block finished and a new one freshly started.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced:

Until next Wednesday...

October 21, 2014

Kiva - September 2014

Another month down and time for another Kiva loan.  It's not often that many medical loan requests come up but this one really caught my eye so I jumped on board.

Kalsoom (Pakistan)

A loan of $300 helps Kalsoom to buy medical instruments, medicine, injections, and glucose for her husband's clinic. 

Kalsoom is a 57-year-old woman with three children who lives in Lahore, Pakistan. She has to look after her family at home.

Her husband owns a medical clinic to provide first aid services to his patients. He was trained by a professional MBBS doctor. He owns his own small clinic to treat patients and assist them to recover. He has become very famous in the society. He wants to establish his clinic with the latest medical instruments, medicines, injections, and glucose, but he does not have enough capital.

Therefore, Kalsoom requests a loan for her husband to purchase medicines so that he could earn maximum profit. 

October 19, 2014

Quiz, Quiz, Trade - Student Getting-to-Know-You Game

Okay, fellow primary teachers, listen up!  Today I'm sharing a new teaching resource on my TpT store, a Quiz, Quiz, Trade game designed for students to get to know each other at the beginning of a new academic year.

What is 'quiz, quiz, trade', you ask?  It's a very simple game that builds both language and social skills (and if you use subject-specific questions, reinforces learnt knowledge, too).  You'll need to print out, cut and laminate the cards to start with.  Game play is very easy so it's a useful game for all ages.  I've even used this game with EAL students (English as an Additional Language) who have limited verbal English - with the right scaffolding, it works very well for them, too.

Each player gets a card.  All players stand up and hold their coloured card in the air; they walk around the room looking for a player with a different coloured card than his/her own.  When they find someone with a different coloured card, they give the person a high-five and partner up.  One person reads the question on his/her card and the partner answers (quiz).  Then the second person reads the question on his/her card and the partner answers (quiz).  Finally, each person swaps cards (trade).  Easy peasy, right?

As always, if you use my resources, I'd love to hear how they worked out for you in your classroom.

October 18, 2014

Quilted Triangles Thank You Card Set

Whew!  I survived the crazy week leading up to Thanksgiving, then managed to throw (if I do say so myself) a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner with my closest friends, followed by another - although slightly less crazy - work week.  So, I think that calls for a much-needed blog update.

So with my guild's 10-year anniversary exhibition now over and done with, my friend Ingrid and I decided that the amazing ladies who organised the exhibition should receive some sort of recognition and thank you, if only just from us.  We decided to get them some miniature orchids and that I would make some thank you cards, so that's what we did.

As you can see, I decided to have some fun making little patchwork-like backgrounds from my scrap papers.  I used my still-new Fiskars hexagon punch to create many (many, many) hexagons, which I then cut down into triangles.  They were a lot smaller triangles than I had originally intended but by this point I was committed and honestly, there was something strangely therapeutic about sticking down tiny triangles onto cardstock.  Must just be me.  Yup.

Once glued, I then machine stitched the triangles down.  Then I layered up a small doily and die-cut circle onto each background and used either red/orange or green Thickers to spell out 'tack' (Swedish for 'thank you') as my sentiment.  Finally, a small sprinkling of gold sequins in a visual triangle to finish off the toppers.

Each card in the set is a little different, as I changed up the background base paper and card base colours and all of the die-cut circles were different.  And on the inside of each card I stamped 'thank you, thank you, thank you' in a vertical column.  Needless to say, they went over very well with the recipients.

I've been wanting to do this sort of 'Paige Evans'-style punched shape backgrounds for ages but I don't have a very large selection of punches to use so this was the perfect opportunity.  And while it was a bit fiddly cutting down all of the hexagons into triangles, it didn't actually take very long in the grand scheme of things and wasn't very onerous at all.  I think it all comes down to your own personal level of acceptance on fiddly tasks.

The triangle shapes could also work well for birthday-themed cards, as they give a bunting banner sort of effect.  You could also try this technique with a monochrome colour palette or an ombre effect would also be cool.  You could even add more stitching for a different effect and more texture, too.

Last one!  Cheers, everyone.

October 08, 2014

Guild Exhibition - Part III

Welcome back!

Okay, today I'm sharing the final photos from my quilt guild's 10-year anniversary exhibition from September 26-28.  If you missed part I or part II, please follow these links.

Today is an admittedly random selection of eye candy that I particularly enjoyed for one reason or another.  Rather than drone on, I'll just let the photos speak for themselves but feel free to ask questions if you want more information on a particular piece.

Thanks so much for stopping by; hope you enjoyed the virtual tour of the exhibition, not that this at all even scratched the surface of the extensive amount of projects on display.  So inspiring!  I'm looking forward to our next exhibition but not quite yet...need a rest first!

October 06, 2014

Guild Exhibition - Part II

Hi again!

This is part II of my quilt guild's 10-year anniversary exhibition, which was held recently September 26-28.  Be sure to also check out part I and part III.

So today I thought I would share our exhibition challenge event, my Haberdashery group's challenge display and my own projects I entered.  Let's start with the very impressive challenge event.

Challenge: Celebration
The challenge theme was celebration and entries could either be a wallhanging or a bag.

Challenge Entries

Okay, I'll admit, I was biased toward the wallhangings so while the bags did also receive their own first, second and third place winners/prizes, I only photographed the wallhangings.  Sorry, don't hate me.

1st Place: Marion Loftberg

2nd Place: Birgitta Hortin

3rd Place: Name Unknown

My friend Ingrid also submitted an entry into the challenge.  Both she and Birgitta included the tiniest little LED lights onto their wallhangings, but unfortunately not all of the lights were turned on or working - shame.

by Ingrid Hortin

Haberdashery Challenge
Then my Haberdashery group had all of our Persian Pickle (mine and the group's) projects on display.  They looked fab!  Shame the lighting isn't better but they looked nicer in real life.

Haberdashery Challenge

My Submissions
And finally, I submitted a few things of my own to the exhibition; not many since I have a very bad habit of not finishing my sewing projects without great effort but still...

Happy Spring Wallhanging

Mobile Phone Holder

Woven Milk Carton Basket (large blue one)

And finally, Ingrid, Birgitta and I submitted the baby quilt we made at the start of summer for a co-worker who was due mid-June.  More information on this particular project will be shared in the coming month.

Bugsy Baby Quilt

All right, that's it for part II!  Thanks for stopping by.  The final part III will be shared shortly so please stop around again for the final photos.