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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

(Luka says hi).

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Well, “soon” is a relative term, yes? I think I’ve been avoiding it here because I’m scared to talk about the process of opening the Etsy shop. Perhaps that’s because I have little to no idea what I’m actually doing. However! I do have a secret weapon in the form of my sweet, red-bearded husband who actually knows things about photography and marketing and who patiently walks me through pretty much each and every step of this process. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I married the nicest boy on earth.

Last week we gathered up all the samples I’d embroidered and staged a little photoshoot. I had spent a lot of time on Etsy browsing the photography of various sellers, and also looking at what kinds of things they tend to feature on the home page. A lot of sellers have their products set against stark white backgrounds, which can be very effective when it comes to certain types of products — a bag or pottery, for example, but I felt that I needed to place my embroidery in some sort of context so that potential buyers could imagine it in their own homes.

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I mean, let’s be honest — these aren’t going to win any photography awards, but at least there’s a bit of framework there.

Then we took some closeups to highlight the details.

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There is little-to-no editing done to these, as they needed to be a true representation of the pieces. Just a bit of cropping and the occasional lightening up to show the colours more accurately.

There are about 50 more pictures, but I’ll spare you having to look at them. Instead, take a look at this amazing cleaning schedule I made up! I got all twitchy last week about the state of our house and decided that we needed a very detailed and precise list of when to do which things in the house. If we adhere to this even 50% of the time, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

cleaning sched

And a few more snapshots of last week — embroidery, knitting, DOG DOG DOG DOG.

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Last night as I was lying in bed, drifting off and in a half-awake state, I just kept thinking, “I love the dog. I love the dog. I love the dog”, and then I fell asleep.

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A quiet Monday night, curled up on the couch with my puppers and the wood stove blazing away. I spent five out of the last seven nights out of the house, which is sort of amazing for a hermit like myself. Four of those nights I had choir rehearsals, and I have to admit that by the end of the week my voice was faltering, but our concert went really well (I think? I find it hard to be objective). The last piece we sang was a super-bouncy Bollywood-style number, and we were encouraged to let loose and move around to the music. I am incredibly scared of being the center of attention and had already asked my mother-in-law not to look at my butt (long story), so this was very daunting to me. Nevertheless, I sucked it up and shimmied and bopped around. In my mind, I was basically screaming, “LOOK AT MY SWEET-ASS MOVES!!!!” After the concert ended, I met Mark and my friends Heidi and Alex in the lobby and excitedly asked them how energetic I looked on stage…only to be met with blank stares. Alex said sweetly, “Well…you sort of mildly swayed when you noticed other people dancing.”

Last week was hard for me, maybe because of the severe lack of sun, or maybe just because I was so busy in the evenings. I felt supremely irritable and couldn’t seem to shake it off. It all culminated when I slipped and fell down a few stairs, hitting my chin on the bannister and landing really hard on the tile floor, bruising my tailbone. It hurt, yes, but my reaction to it was so over-the-top hysterical that it’s pretty obvious to me now that I was crying about many other things. I was doing the little kid sob — you know the kind? With the big deep intake of breath and the chest-heaving? Mark immediately ran downstairs to see if I was okay, and Luka jumped off the couch and also started freaking out — howling and whining and trying to climb into my lap. Poor Mark had one arm around the dog, trying to keep him off of me, and one arm around my shoulders, attempting to calm me down and eventually he just sort exclaimed, “I don’t know which of you to comfort first!”

After that, I could laugh, and in fact, I was sort of laughing as I was sobbing because I knew how absolutely ridiculous I was being. I was really quite embarassed afterwards, but in some ways it felt so cathartic to just let it all out, even if I am 28 years old and should probably have a better handle on my emotions by now.

Despite my fall (and my grumpiness) there were so many lovely things that happened last week, and I really did notice them.

That guy above is one of our only Christmas decorations and I like him so much I might keep him out all year round.

When Mark is out, Luka just waits and waits, never leaving his window post.

Alex turned 30 a few weeks ago (in my motherland!), so I made him a birthday cake. Despite the absolutely frightful-looking cursive, the cake was pretty damn good — chocolate zucchini cake with sour cream-chocolate frosting. Yum.

I know I sound like a crazy dog lady, but I love this guy. Love love love him. Oh, what did we ever do before him?

Like many others, I spent a lot of the weekend thinking a lot about Connecticut and guns and how people hurt each other. And how short life is, even if you get more time than most. I am so happy and grateful for the life I’ve built for myself. I never, ever forget that, even during a fall-down-the-stairs kind of week.

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Does anyone know how to gracefully start a blog? I surely do not. I’ve spent about ten minutes sitting here, staring at the screen, typing stupid things and then deleting them. I do not think I’m great at beginnings. So, for lack of profound/witty things to say, here are some pictures from my morning walk with our dog Luka.

We recently moved a bit farther out of town than we used to live, and though there are some minor annoyances with having to drive pretty much everywhere, one of the best things about our new house is the proximity of decent walking trails close by. We adopted Luka two months ago, and since then, at least every other day we’re in these woods.

Luka pretty much loses his mind when we let him off leash. He runs! He jumps through puddles! There are so! Many! Exciting! Things! To! Sniff! He finds sticks that are roughly three feet long and insists on dragging them through the woods. He only stopped to let me take his picture because I was dangling a peanut butter-flavoured treat above him.

It’s kind of funny how much my emotions have fluctuated since adopting Luka. It all happened super quickly, and I have to admit that the first night we brought him home, all three of us sitting on the couch staring at each other, that I was freaking out on the inside. The commitment, the way this would change so much about our lives — we had been pretty extensive travellers since we first started dating, all the poop I would have to pick up. On top of that, we had no real idea of what his background had been like (he’s three years old) or what kind of temperament he truly had. That first night, none of us slept more than a few hours. Every time one of us rolled over, he would get up, walk around to both sides of the bed, and then return to his dog bed. Every time he did this, we both woke up.

Gradually, of course, all of that anxiety (on all of our parts) started to wear away, and now it feels like we’ve had him forever. I would say that the very best thing about having him in our lives is the reaction we get when we walk through the door after having been away. There’s just something so comforting about being needed — though, of course, this can be profoundly irritating at times as well. But there has never not been an occasion where we opened the front door and he didn’t completely lose his shit. How can a person not be charmed by that?

One of the other fantastic things has been losing excuses for not going outside for a walk every day. Anyone who knows me can attest to my hermit-like sensibilities. I can burrow like an owl; I am a homebody through and through. Unfortunately, this can mean that I sometimes have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, from my cozy house. Having Luka means that I have to go outside every day, because the guilt of not walking him when I know he needs to expel some of his big-dog energy is far more powerful than the pull of a wood-burning stove. Though we rarely get snow here, it rains almost daily in the winter, and the grey sky can feel unrelenting at times. There are many days when I don’t want take the dog for a walk, but there has never been a day when I’ve regretted it afterwards.

Our yard has a long, winding path that lets out onto the street directly behind our house, and when we’re walking back from the woods, I usually stop and let Luka off leash about 50 metres away from the path. He stands still for a moment, and then he leads us home.

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