made by... me!

I wanted to show you the little necklace I made. I recycled it, actually. It was a double strand gold chain with large pearls at different intervals. It didn't cost very much, so I decided to jazz it up a bit.

I tied and knotted some gorgeous scrapbooking fibres to cover the chain. It was more work than I anticipated because I wanted it to look chunky and uneven and a little interesting, so I had to vary my knots and sizes.

I sewed three colours of Swarovski Crystals onto the fibre bits after I was done with the tying. This photo really doesn't do justice to those little crystals because they really, really sparkle.

I added a tiny bow of sheer ribbon and here it is! Ready to wear with my brocade jacket from Anthropologie... but a mere fraction of the price of their amazing necklaces.

feeling lucky?

Every single day I log into the Tide website and Spin to Win a new iPod that looks like a box of Tide detergent. Isn't it adorable? I love campy things, and this is the height of kitchz!

I realize by sharing this information with you, there is every possibility that you may also log in and Spin to Win, thus decreasing my chances to carry this snazzy bit of orange techno around... but that's how much I like you! Good luck.

i'm almost done!

This may disgust many of you, but I'm almost done my Christmas shopping. The major stuff is pretty much out of the way.

I've even got my packaging and boxes lined up, tissue paper to match this year's theme, and have started working on the tags.

I really outdid myself this year. I love wrapping and giving presents more than anything, maybe even more than getting them, but that may be a stretch.

Now the real fun starts: because the must-do's are out of the way, I can have fun adding all of the extras to everyone's gifts! We've booked our annual December Christmas-shopping event in Chicago... because of Ben's schedule I am getting almost a whole week to do my thing while he's in meetings and then I have five days in Phoenix on the way home to rest up (and shop some more)! Last year I stopped at Target on the way to the airport and schlepped home the much-coveted Jones Soda Holiday Pack for the kids. It was a disgusting hit! I 've started scouring the internet for ideas and making my list and checking it twice! You'd better all stay on the "good list."

lessons for girls

This year I am teaching a weekly class for girls at the community centre. It's sort of a manners, makeup, hair how-to and what-not-to-wear type of thing.

As you may have guessed from the title, I have become very disgusted recently with the images that are sent to young girls in the media. Not only as the mother of a young girl, but as a girl myself. So I decided it was time to do something about it.

Sometimes we will talk about makeup, hair and nails. Who doesn't love to talk about makeup, hair and nails? Tonight we are talking about nosy questions, how to leave a message on an answering machine... and of course we will be eating a fantastic imaginary meal with paper plates and plastic cutlery! Before we go home, each girl will write a thank you card.

If anyone has any suggestions about what you wish you'd been told when you were twelve, please let me know.

huguenot torte

In keeping with my "all things Martha" adage, I had to try the recipe that Dorothy Mae Brown cooked on the Martha Stewart Show this past week. It is called a torte but in no way resembles a cake or torte that I have ever seen. I was so intrigued by the segment on the show that I made sure to pick up the Granny Smith apples and heavy cream required. I invited Mom and Dad, Granny and Aunty to have a taste test tonight.

The verdict? It was very easy to make and very, very sweet. It was delicious. The recipe made enough dessert for an army so keep that in mind if you try it. Because you break it into pieces and serve it with whipped cream, it sort of looks like it fell on the floor before you picked it up and served it to your guests, so beware. That might not be the message you want to send.

coat challenge

Here it is! All in one post. I guess I have to upload all photos, then add the commentary. I had no idea.On the left is my newest coat. It is the lululemon apres-yoga coat, Ben just bought it for me last month. I love this coat because I love anything pink and brown, and it features a special pocket for my iPod with an access hole for the headphones and a little tab to keep the cord from getting caught. I love, love love this coat. Did I mention that it matches my pink and brown Rocket Dog boots oh so perfectly?

The trench coat is my JLo coat and I get so many compliments whenever I wear it. It is so seriously flattering, I can hardly believe that I paid $50.00 for it at Winners two years ago. While I am making fashion confessions, I will admit fully that some of my favorite garments have been the Jennifer Lopez brand. And I surely do not even have the booty for it. For some reason, the cut and fit of JLo jeans, leisure suits, undies (yes!) and footwear is amazing. You may mock it, but if you try it, you will not be disappointed.
The jacket on the left is... plastique. I know, it looks amazing. I paid $20.00 for it at Bryans last year because it looked so... real. It is so nicely faux distressed and such a nice fit. This pleather jacket is so entirely real-looking that I have had total strangers ask me about its origin and I have been offered good money for it. I guess I should have taken those offers!The white parka, I just love. I found it this spring at Roots on the clearance rack for $60.00, about one-eighth the regular price. It was missing a few buttons on the hood but I fixed that with a trip to my handy button jar. I am planning on wearing it to Chicago in December with my white gloves and a cute white touque with a giant pompom on it, if I can find one.
I just realized these coats don't look that flattering in photos, or maybe Clara isn't doing them justice. The left is a GAP coat from about five years ago now, I think I paid $16.99 for it. Every year I think it's done it's work and I plan on donating it away... and every year I change my mind because it is the perfect length to wear with a skirt and my high boots and it looks pretty sassy with the right handbag (which I have) and so I retrieve it from the donating pile and every year when I lament that I gave it away too soon, there it is, waiting for me when I check the closet. I wear it once or twice after that and repeat the whole thing.

The black long coat is a classic Calvin Klein wool coat from around Y2K so I suppose the world was going to run out of coats or something so I bought the longest one I could find at the time. It quite literally skims the ground unless I have my tall boots on. I love the fit, though, and I think it may never go out of style. I paid a bundle for it, so I hope not. Winners, $299.99. Worn 300 times. Cost: 1 loonie per wear.

This suede coat is vintage from the 70's. It looks so amazing, I would never, ever part with it, not for all of the coats at the coat factory. It has laces on all of the seams and they are looking a little worn but with jeans, with dark pants, no matter what I put this coat with, it looks fantastic.

The coat on the right is the coat I wore on my first date with Ben in February of 2002. It is a little outrageous, but I got it for next to nothing and it looked pretty foxy with my brown pants and cashmere sweater and tall brown boots.
My mother gave me this wool pea coat in '04 before our trip to New York City. I was pretty excited to wear it, but it was unseasonably warm when we got there, we actually went to see the tree lights at Rockerfeller Centre wearing shawls. We walked around shopping all day wearing our sweaters, it was wonderful, but I think it left me with a totally warped memory of what New York is like in late November. I also own this Calvin Klein pea coat in black, but no matter what, I could not get a decent photo of it for the challenge.
Finally, my prize coat: the Linda Lundstrom Laparka. She is a Canadian designer. These coats were everywhere in the 90's, you couldn't walk a block without seeing one of them. They were made in dozens of colours every year so you can almost tell what year this is from by the colour (blueberry). Once I swore I would never own one, that I wouldn't conform to be one of the masses, but eventually I wore down because they are so incredibly warm, you must have one when the thermometer hovers at 40 below zero. This coat can be worn with or without the outer shell, and the fur collar can be detached for lots of looks.

In 1998 I realized the I was desperate to own one after all but as a single mother I couldn't afford it. That year one of the football clubs in town celebrated it's 50th anniversary and I silkscreened commemorative prints and sold them, splitting the profits with their charities and cheerleaders. I don't sell my art so this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. This coat represents lots of hard work and a pretty decent sense of accomplishment.

sweets from the sweet!

Look what arrived by post today from Maggie! My Club Little House partner swap parcel! Inside, I found all the tiny ingredients for hosting a festive birthday party in my little house:I hope these photos do justice to these tiny party treats. The tea service is so small and so detailed... and those spoons... they're just like the little spoons on Sesame Street all those years ago. I am just in love with them. Everything was wrapped so nicely, in small cellophane bags tied with the curliest satin ribbon. Thank you, Maggie! I enjoyed the Club Little House swap so much.

And to think, I thought I had nothing to blog today!

sticker sweet

My friend Maureen came through town and unfortunately we missed each other. She dropped by and left a treat in the mailbox - stickers that look like my mascot, Clara! How utterly sweet of her to think of good old Clara when she saw those stickers!

I have known Maureen since elementary school. We grew up together in the same neighborhood. For over thirty years we have kept in touch and it is an enduring friendship. She is the mother of two of the cutest baby girls ever... when she sends me photos I save them to my iPod to show everyone Kaitlyn and Nicole's pretty faces. Even though we don't get to see each other very often, the sound of her voice on the end of the phone takes me back in time and I picture us sitting at her mother's kitchen table eating rice krispie cake. Thank you Maureen!

welcome autumn

Another reason to love the change of seasons. Today while Ben watched football, I puttered around and put out a few more fall decorations. Next to Christmas, it is one of my favorite decorating times! Especially when I opened the crawlspace and found the items I bought last year on sale after Halloween. It was like going shopping all over again! I made this wreath last year and had completely forgotten about it.

Ben is away for two weeks straight starting tomorrow so I plan to use my time wisely: decorating, Christmas shopping, crafting, scrapbooking and sewing. I have to swap out the summer cushions for the fall cushions, swap out the summer bedding for fall bedding, I have a few ideas for moving the furniture around, and those piles of unfinished craft projects are calling my name. Time to get it all taken care of. Just another reason to love fall.

it's autumn - in a box!

I put this together for my cousin Kelly in Windsor. I saw one like it on Mrs. Staggs' blog, Rosa made it for her. It is a collection of little fall reminders, in a decorated cigar box.

Inside it holds a little assortment of ephemera, old photographs and autumn scene postcards, brand spankin' new pencils (very back-to-school), vintage ribbons and buttons in fall colours and some crafty items for fall.

I'm off to post it today. It smells yummy because of the scented potpourri tarts. I don't know if she has a melting contraption, but they made the box smell good and hopefully they won't melt on the way to Ontario!


This is the pavlova I made last night. It was so delicious, and so easy. It looks tricky, but really it's not. Here's the recipe:

4 egg whites at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. vinegar

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add sugar and cornstarch gradually, beating until stiff. Beat in vinegar and vanilla.

On a foil-lined baking sheet or a silicone pad, spread this meringue in the shape of a circle approximately 9 inches across - or the size of your serving dish, if you're clever. I like to shape it a little bit with my spatula so that it has "sides" and a "bottom".

Bake in 250 degree oven for about 50 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the meringue to stand in the oven for at least one hour to dry out. Cool before removing from foil or silicone pad.

Spread with whipped cream (I add a little bit of sugar to it) and top with raspberries, kiwi fruit slices, banana slices or strawberries. Serve immediately.

Of course, it was eaten up immediately. I rinsed the pretty cake plate off and decided to give it a good wash and polish in the morning and left it on the kitchen counter. In the middle of the night - we woke up to the sound of glass breaking. It sounded like an explosion... and it was!

The nice glass cake plate that The Fan gave me for my birthday just popped apart - from the inside out. There was the base of the plate, right in the middle of the counter, it didn't drop, it just exploded - there was amber glass everywhere. The base was hollow and sitting right where I'd left it but there was no other part of it to be left, it was little shards of glass everywhere. It was 2 a.m. so Veto and I cleaned it up and went back to sleep. In the morning, I thought it had all been a funny dream but there sat the proof, the hollow glass base! What do you make of that??

We must have a ghost. But our house is brand new... what do you think?

small luxuries

I just can't control myself - turn away if you are a Club Little House member: AVERT YOUR EYES! This is what I made for round three of Amy's CLH swap!

Hasn't everyone always wanted a Hermes handbag... even though they cost thousands of dollars and there is a wait list for even Sarah Jessica Parker? Well not for Club Little House members - no waiting here. Luxury is on its way.

Well surely I need a good excuse for not blogging over the long weekend but alas there's none. I totally took the weekend off after completing my Club Little House goodies and getting them away to the USA. I hope they make it over the border in good time. My sinus infection moved into high gear right around the time they were done so I declared it a national holiday (it already was) and lolled around doing... nothing.

We went to the brand new Cineplex on Friday night to see Little Miss Sunshine and it was poignant and funny, I loved every minute of it. And reclining seats! The joy of cineplex. Just what I needed after hunkering down at the craft table all week.
Now that the kids are back at school and life will return to its regular pace, my blog will get its much needed attention and I might actually do some baking. I love the return of fall, the change in cooking. Planning meals again. When the weather gets colder, it's nice to return to the old recipes that make the house smell comfortable and cozy.