All In The Family

My sister-in-law has great taste. Her home is chic and modern and crisp and fun, just like her and her family. So I was really flattered when she texted me last week to ask for help with some design advice.  Quicker than you can say “Pinterest,” I was on the job! I set up a joint pin board for us and I started pinning away with my ideas to help her update her kitchen/dining space to make it more functional for her busy family.

Here are a few of the things on her “Must Have” list:

-a “command centre” to keep all my adorable niece & nephew’s school forms, calendars, etc in order
(Did I mention that my niece and nephew are ADORABLE?!)
-space to store stuff— table linens, my brother-in-law’s protein powder (man likes to work out!), all the trappings that come with kids, etc.
-new light for over the table
-cupboard storage reorganization

Not surprisingly, she and I are really on the same page with respect to the vibe/feel of the space– she even pinned some stuff that I had envisioned in my head but had not yet pinned!
Here are some of the images she added to our joint pin board:

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Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.

These inspiration photos are very similar to what I had in mind for the space.
Stay tuned to see what I’ve got up my sleeve in Wednesday’s post!

Hoppy Easter!

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Need some quick and easy favours for Easter dinner?

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Here’s what I did with some cloth bags from the bargain bin at Target. First, I hand-stamped them with the recipients’ names and then filled them with some cute treats: Easter-themed bubbles (because nothing says “Spring!” like going outside and blowing bubbles!), and a few sweets. I had some heart-shaped thingies meant to jeuje up Ikea string lights, so added those to the ties on the bags and, quicker than you can say, “The Easter Bunny’s your uncle!” I was done.
My kinda project: speedy and sweet.
I gave mine away to my students, but they’d work well as place settings, too.

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If you celebrated Passover this week, I hope you had a great time and ate lots of yummy goodies.
If you are celebrating Easter this weekend, I hope you have a great time and eat lots of goodies.

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Fine, Furry Friends

Go get a cup of tea, this could take a while.

I am not going to get into the whole fur debate here. Nor am I going to get into the fact that, as a child, I actually felt physically ill in the presence of fur (some of which feeling resurfaced this weekend when I took on a DIY project I’ve been considering for a few months now).  I will put forth that I am not proponent of NEW fur, but that I am willing to touch (and even wear!) vintage fur because I think doing so is better than throwing it out or letting it get moth-eaten. But that is not what this post is about. Instead, I am going to tell you a very not-so brief story about an item that was given to me when someone was doing a cleaning up/purge.

Here it is:

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It is, in short, the World’s Most Enormous Fur Coat.
Made of raccoon.
Vintage raccoon.
It weighed about 350 lbs. It was a size Gigantic. Seriously, a Volkswagen could have worn this coat.
It ought to have made the man who put it on (surely it was not designed for a woman?) look deliciously collegiate-football-fan-circa-1935. Alas, it made everyone, male or female, who donned it look like a pimp from the 1970s.
It was, in short, problematic. One of those items that ought to have been utterly fabulous but…. just….wasn’t.  This fact made me sad.
And I didn’t really want to believe it, so I let the coat hang in our basement for many, many years.

And then I started to think, what if I could save this coat from itself?
Would I have the nerve? Could I bring myself to do it?

Well, Gentle Reader, it took me a couple of months to work up the chutzpah to tackle it, but this past weekend, I took the plunge. After carefully removing the lining and label, I…..
cut up the coat.
Cue vomiting– this part reaaaallly made me think about the raccoons, I have to admit, and I very nearly chickened out.
Even now, just typing that makes me kinda queasy…

BUT, the the World’s Most Enormous Fur Coat, made of raccoon, vintage raccoon, has become two rather good, very cosy throw pillows on our couch.  Even M likes them! (Will wonders never cease?!)
I like that this project gave new life to the old fur; makes me feel a bit less sad about the raccoons.

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I was nervous, never having sewn with real fur before, so I looked up some tutorials online. They all required about 30 pieces of equipment, which terrified me. Also, I am the Lazy DIY-er, so there was No Way On Earth I was going to take on some complicated cushion tutorial. Thus, I did what any self-respecting Lazy DIY-er would do: I winged it. And it all worked out fine! Basically, I made two envelope-style cushion covers, the way I would do if I were using regular fabric.  No big deal. I did take three sage pieces of advice from the lengthy tutorials, so if you are planning to do similar, I recommend that you also take these tips:

1. Use a razor blade or a utility knife to cut the fur, and cut it from the back side of the pelt, being careful not to shear the fur

2. When sewing, be careful to push the fur away from the cut edge of the fur/fabric, in order to avoid stitching the ends of the fur into your seam. Just go slowly and you will be able to tuck the ends of the fur towards the middle of the cushion as you go, leaving you with a nice, furry edge when you turn the pillow right side out.

3. Keep your eye on the nap of the fur by using the bottom hem of the coat as a guide– always keep it positioned towards you so that you can be sure that both pillows have the nap going the same direction.

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What do you think? Would you save unusable fur from itself?

Heads Up!

I hope you had a lovely Christmas, if that is what you celebrate. If not, I hope you had a nice few days off to rest and relax. We had a wonderful day with family, following a few days of the warm company of our dearest friends, LHR and GraphicDefiner.

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In addition to all the regular festive preparations, we were also pretty darned busy getting Delovely HQ in ship-shape for the arrival of all our guests. The weekend prior to their arrival, the Mr and I spent some quality time with power tools and paint brushes, sprucing up the master bedroom. Not that anyone besides us stays in there, but it is the first thing one sees upon climbing the stairs, so I wanted it to look nice.

So, let’s begin, shall we? First, I had to paint and repair my groovy faux taxidermy bargains. (As you know, often a bargain comes with the caveat that the item is damaged.) You’ve already had a sneak peek at the golden ibex makeover, but here is how I went about fixing the hole-y ram’s horn.

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First, I looked around to see what I supplies I had on-hand
& then I worked a bit of plastic (haha!) surgery magic:

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Using the glue as a kind of shellac/glue hybrid, I pasted a scrap of cotton fabric over the hole. The topcoat of glue helped to seal the hole and to allow the fabric to harden into a paintable surface. I made sure to use cotton so that the glue would saturate it nicely and so that the fabric was soft enough to be worked into the grooves in the horn. I let it dry overnight, sprayed it with some primer and then painted it up with my beloved Blackberry Punch.

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In the meantime, our new bed had created a bit of a wrinkle in Operation Master Bedroom Spruce-Up: the colour of the bed, while grey, is a much blue-er grey than the warm grey on the walls. The result? Jarring and kinda hideous. Suddenly, I found myself faced with having to repaint the bedroom. Le sigh.

Off I trotted to get some sample pots. I painted big swatches of each colour on each wall of our bedroom; I wanted to make sure that I could see how each one “read” in the changing light throughout the day, and to make sure that I got a sense of those changes from every angle. One of the things I loved best about our former paint colour was how it shifted and altered as the light in the room changed over the course of the day.

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Paint Colour Swatches:
1. Dark Pewter
2. Pewter
3. Downpour
4. Chinchilla
5. French Silver

We lived with enormous splotches of 5 different paint colours on our walls for weeks before I finally committed to Chinchilla, by Martha Stewart. Um, yes, that is the colour that appears to be invisible in the photos… Ahem. My favourite colour was actually Down Pipe, but both the Mr and I were concerned that it might make the room too dark– we both love our sunny southern exposure. Chinchilla is very similar to our former shade, Mount Rainier by the now-defunct Ralph Lauren line of paint, but it is bluer. I don’t love it the way I loved the former shade (I fear it makes our trim and dressers look too yellow… hello, decor snowball…), but it does look good with the bed. 🙂

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The little guy is sporting a nod to Christmas decor.

I will post a proper tour of Operation Master Bedroom Spruce-Up once we have a day sunny enough for me to take some quasi-decent photos. I’d like you to see the whole effect, from antique French sconce-supports to new dhurrie rug, to new bedding. But for now, I hope you like this little glimpse of the faux taxidermy and the cute print (by local lovely, Steph Sterjovski!) I picked up to go with the “heads.”

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Please & Thank You

Today I spent a few happy hours in my sewing room, whipping up a few little projects.
One of the things I did was to put together little “thank you” packets for some young ladies who helped me out last week.  Each packet contains a set of button magnets.

I just love the little wooden bird tags and have been saving them for a couple of years. I finally decided to use a couple of them to make little name tags that can also become Christmas ornaments or just hang on a doorknob, over a bed post or on the corner of a mirror or picture frame.

I added some glitter because, let’s face it, pretty much everything is better with glitter!

Fluffy Pom-Poms

I have had a little collection of snowball-like pom-poms in my stash for a few years. I got them in one of the infamous grab-bags put together at Mokuba*. The grab bags contain bits and bobs of leftover trims and ribbons and are a stitchin’ lady’s dream; the prices at Mokuba can run to three digits per meter, so getting leftover snippets can be a real score!

With the onset of shoe-clip mania inside my head, I could hardly wait to work my precious snowballs into some clips. Sadly, though there were four poms, there were two teeny-tiny ones (too small to be useful individually), a mid-sized one and a jumbo– I’d need two the same size in order for my plan to work. The mid-sized one, with some pretty dark red felt leaves I cut out and stitched together, made a divine shoe accessory! Yay!
But then I had to go with an asymmetrical approach, using either the jumbo pom or the two teensy ones. I opted for the latter and worked in a few little dark red mini-poms that remind me of berries. So, the two clips are different, though in the same family. I am pretty happy with them, but will be heading down to Mokuba to splash out on another mid-sized snowball so that I can have a matching pair.

I think they will be sweet to add a bit of festive whimsy to an outfit over the holidays, don’t you?

*When I lived in France, while all my friends went on trips to Brugge and Amsterdam to take in the sights, I made pilgrimages to Paris to go to Mokuba. I still have the ribbon I bought then– guess what I’m gonna make with it? Shoe clips!

Go Figure

Every year (for the past 5 or so, anyway), I make aprons to sell at my little stall. They have, historically, been a HUGE hit. They are made from tea towels and pretty grosgrain ribbon and look very sweet on, while simultaneously being very hard-wearing. I think the latter is an important factor in an apron; I have a growing collection of darling vintage aprons, but I am always a bit afraid to wear them, as they are far too precious to ruin by getting cooking mess on them! The tea towel aprons solve that problem as, if they get dirty, they wash and dry like a dream.

People buy them by the bunch, stocking up on them to use as hostess gifts and stocking stuffers, birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day gifts. In preparing my wares this year, I found I had only a very few aprons left from last year, so I made sure to make about 40 more aprons.

And hardly any of them sold. Not very many people wanted aprons, not even my regulars. Not even people who told me they couldn’t wait for my stall so they could lay in their yearly supply of aprons…. Weird, no?

Oh, well; I won’t make any new ones for next year– I already have a good stash on-hand!

I also sold some of the bias-tape bracelets and vintage button hairbands and barrettes I made during my sabbatical year (when I had time for hours upon hours of hand-sewing!).

The bias tape is made by Liberty of London (insert swoon-fest here) and I bought it in France at La Droguerie, a store that delighted and gutted me at the same time; the former because it was so gorgeous and full of beauty and inspiring ideas and buttons and buttons and buttons and every kind of perfectly divine notion, the latter because it would never fly here in North America because we are so unwilling to pay what beautiful things are worth…

(Please excuse the blurry photos: bad lighting + cell phone camera = not the clearest pix.)