This is why I have a self-imposed rule that I don’t buy Nutella — because when I do, I am capable of plowing through a jar of it in less than a week. But I put it on rye bread sometimes, so that’s kind of healthy, maybe?

(Also, I married a saint.)

nutella

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dad70s

Today marks six years since my dad died. I love this picture of him so much — fresh-faced and kind of looking like Elvis. I think he’s at the University of Kansas here, which he attended coming straight from Ethiopia at the age of 16. This still strikes me as super random. Also, those pants are amazing.

It took me a long time before I could remember my dad without only remembering the horrible last week of his life. I don’t know how common this is in other people’s experiences, but for many years, I would get very emotional thinking about him and just feel so sad. It’s only in the last year or two that some of that other stuff has started to filter back in, and now I would say it’s about 90% funny/annoying old memories, and 10% terrible hospital ones. I think that’s a pretty good ratio.

Like most people, I inherited a lot of traits from my dad, and also consciously chose not to inherit many. We both hate full parking lots and large crowds of people (most of my curmudgeonly side is directly linked to my dad, which I kind of love). We both make big decisions quickly, without a lot of fuss, and rarely regret them. We both love libraries so much that it’s hard for me to accurately express. I grew up going to the library — every single Saturday, almost without exception, from the age of three or four until I left for university (and then in the summers when I would come home), my dad and I would first hit up the library, then go out for lunch. Lunch was usually at the Great Canadian Bagel Company, where I would always, without fail, order a tuna sandwich on an “everything” bagel, mayo, no mustard. I always wanted to tell the cashier, “The usual!” but was too shy. Sometimes we would also run other errands, like on the twice-yearly occasions when he needed new shirts for work. We would go to some department store, he would ask me to pick out five or six shirts, not try anything on, and then buy them. The whole process took roughly 15 minutes. No joke, this is basically how I picked out my wedding dress, though I did (grudgingly) try it on first.

I no longer go to the library every Saturday, but I do go once a week or so. I think of my dad each time I walk into one, and I think I always will. This doesn’t make me sad at all, but rather the exact opposite. I can’t eat tuna salad anymore, due to a fin fish allergy that merits its own post of OH GOD WHY, and I live over a thousand miles from where I grew up. But I have a few photos, and I have this thick black hair, and I have the library.

piadad

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kennedylakepano

I’m not alone in thinking this, I know, but February is just endless, isn’t it? There’s this beautiful Dar Williams song that I know is supposed to symbolize the death of a relationship, but when I hear it, all I can emphatically think is, “YES! February is terrible!” I have this idea for a February advent calender containing miniature bottles of booze. Maybe next year. Now that I’ve typed that I’m terrified someone will steal my idea. I have so few good ones, you know. Marrying this guy was one of them.

marktofino

We packed up our beloved minivan Django (named for this guy, not Quentin Tarantino) and headed up the island for a couple of days. We stopped for donuts on the way and then again to take in the absolutely stunning Kennedy Lake.

django

coffeepiratedonuts

kennedylake

It was our first time leaving Luka, and our initial plans of dropping him off the kennel fell through due to kennel cough he’d picked up a few days earlier. Our friend Heidi very kindly stepped in, and house/dogsat. We, of course, talked about the dog constantly. I tried not to worry about him, but I couldn’t help it, even though I knew everything was going to be fine (and it was! Heidi even let him sleep in the bed, so he was probably wishing we would stay away forever). If this is even one-tenth of an indication of how much we’ll worry about kids, I don’t exactly know if I feel strong enough for parenthood. I don’t even know if I’m strong enough for the TV show — I bawl helplessly every single week.

Anyway, despite the worrying, we did manage to relax and enjoy Tofino. We stayed at the lovely Long Beach Lodge — some friends of ours got married there, and I can see why. It’s so romantic and cozy.

lbl

inside

We did pretty much nothing besides walk on the beach, drink delicious beer from the Tofino Brewing Company, play crib, and sit by the fire, reading. Those friends who got married in Tofino happened to be up at the same time, so we met them for a drink. Our short vacation was quiet and perfect, and the best thing about it was how happy and ready we were to come home. I’m still not taking that feeling for granted.

yellowbarn

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crushed it cross stitch

Last week I attempted a step aerobics class with my friend Heidi. It was hilariously terrible, in the best way possible. Neither of us is especially graceful, though she is WAY more co-ordinated than I am. We had never tried a step class before and minutes before the class we were sitting in her living room, spooning Nutella out of a jar and contemplating whether or not we should actually go. We dragged ourselves there, stumbled through the class, and though at certain points we were laughing so hard we were doubled over, it was awesome. When I got home, Mark asked me how it went, and I stupidly, confidently answered, “We crushed it.”

That was the inspiration for this cross-stitch pattern, a celebration of “fake it ’til you make it”, something I probably need tattooed on my body.

I used this tutorial for the frames, done on thick cardstock. My finished piece was about 5X7 inches and I think it was 14-count aida cloth. Play around with fabic/floss/frames and please let me know if you try the pattern!

Download the pattern here (in colour or black and white with symbols):

Free colour cross-stitch pattern.

Free black and white cross-stitch pattern.

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I started sewing about four years ago, when my lovely mother-in-law gifted me with her old Husqvarna. I loved that machine and still do. She gave me a few lessons showing me the basics, eternally patient when I had to ask her to re-show me things over and over again. I am not a quick learner. I get a little panicky sometimes, thinking about taking a class in something I don’t understand, because I need things demonstrated so many times before I begin to take them in.

I sewed on that machine for four years, mostly straight line projects for around the house. I made my first quilt with that Husqvarna (did you know they also make chainsaws? I kind of love that), binding it with the help of this video, which I have probably viewed at least 30 times. I am still an extremely novice quilter. I can do straight lines, but not free-motion quilting yet, though I’m working on it. I like simple patchwork quilts, nothing too fussy and I don’t like applique. I like squares, log cabin blocks, and not much else. Perhaps I am a little picky.

I finally bought my first sewing machine about four months ago. In typical Pia fashion, I did very little research on it and made a pretty quick decision. Luckily, this usually works out well for me. I bought a Janome this time, and it sews like a dream. I love my studio/office so much that sometimes I go in there and just stand around, gazing at my fabric and my cutting table. I sound like a total idiot right now, but man, do I loooooove that room. It’s just for me. It has terrible lighting, but one day I’ll try to take better pictures of it.

sewingheaven

This is a baby quilt for a dear friend’s little boy. I made it with almost all fabrics I picked up in Japan last year — cute mushrooms and flowers and polka dots. I have a lot of very “girly” fabric, so I was a little flummoxed as to how to put together something less feminine, but I think it worked. Of course gender is a social construct, etc. (hey, I remember something from my anthropology degree!) and I totally don’t think girls have to have pink and boys blue, but I wanted to make something bright and not too gender-specific. I feel like I’m digging myself into a hole right now. I’ll stop typing.

And a little something for her five-year-old twin daughters, as well — I made these from this tutorial, just changing a few of the details. Super quick and fun to stitch up! I stuck a toonie in each of the pockets.

I also whipped up this small quilt. It’s basically one giant log cabin block, which means that it came together in about an hour. I used handprinted fabrics from India, and just hoped that the overall effect wouldn’t be too busy. I think it’s okay, though. Hopefully someday soon there’ll be a brown-skinned, red-haired baby crawling on this quilt.

indiaquilt

indiaquilt2

Speaking of babies, look at this huge suck. He crawled into Mark’s lap while Mark was working the other day and refused to budge. Also, we have now succumbed to him getting on the bed with us. We are pathetic. BUT LOOK AT THIS FACE!

These days: more quilting, blackberry buttermilk muffins, irises, a stack of beautiful craft magazines from the UK (courtesy of a very sweet cousin). Life is happening. What a gift.

quiltboard

craftmags

blackberrymuffins

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businesscards

Last week was a blur of Game of Thrones and Etsy research and a midweek stomach flu that absolutely flattened me. Mark was feeling rough as well, and we spent most of Tuesday lying in bed with the dog between us, all three of us dozing on and off. In between naps, I succumbed to my usual sick mode of wailing to Mark about how I had absolutely no energy and what if that’s not because I was sick, because what if I actually wasn’t sick (this is in between bouts of vomiting) but just a normal thing and how will we ever have the energy for children, etc., etc. He very kindly humoured me and reassured me that I was in fact sick and that all would be fine tomorrow. And it was. I know there’s a stereotype that men are huge babies when they’re sick, but I am, in fact, the absolute worst. I’m also a huge hypochondriac (this is, incidentally, not a great trait to have when you also do medical transcription) but I think I was maybe legit sick that day.

Anyway, I recovered from that and on Thursday, uploaded my first listings to Etsy. I waited a full 24 hours before telling anyone about it, just in case I decided that this whole thing was ridiculous and wanted to take it down. That did happen several times, but Mark convinced me to ignore those impulses.

Here is my store. I believe that the pieces I make are simple but classic, and what I really want is for them become keepsakes, things that are passed down. My mother-in-law has a cross-stitched piece on her kitchen wall that her mother made in 1931, and every Sunday when we go over for dinner I admire it and imagine her stitching it, 80+ years ago. I really, really, really hate self-promotion but I am trying very hard to push through my discomfort and be proud of what I’m making.

floss

I’ve been quilting up a storm lately — back soon with photographic proof.

(Luka says hi).

lukaface

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