Monday, 2 January 2012

2012? Here I come!

Now, I have a personal... um, how do I word this? Fear of? Respect for? Hesitation against? I think that fits best... I have a personal hesitation against New Year's resolutions. I think, for me personally, it allows me to have a large window in which to "fail" and then a (usually) large window of time to maintain the bad habits as New Years is not always around the corner..... Also, coming off of a month of over-eating, socializing and other partying, it's pretty hard to slam those gastrointestinal brakes on without a big dose of tummy "whiplash".

Instead, I like to set monthly goals, so I have no excuse if I mess up, not to get back on the horse for the remaining days in the month and if that fails, set new goals the next month and I am never more than 31 days into badness..... The only problem? I am weak... very weak haha! I'm actually quite surprised that I've lasted 6 months into my sewing vow but blogging and public declaration are a great motivator...

I love to eat, laze around and like exercise only in a team or group environment.... the exceptions being hiking with Fu and snowboarding!

However, 2011 was a big year and since I was given the opportunity to start afresh and anew, I have set some goals for January and the quarter.

Personal
  1. Get my Australian taxes finished and cancel anything outstanding.
  2. Get in shape! This will be pushed by the fact I have talked my workplace into doing the Vancouver Sun Run with me. Seemed like a good idea at the time... LOL! However, the sight of my thighs has made me slightly ill to my stomach so onwards and upwards!
  3. Try to go with the flow more whilst getting more done (I know, truly easy this one! NOT!)
  4. Take some time to do more creative photography.
  5. Take some time to enjoy the outdoors more. This ties in with my photography....
  6. Try to get to bed earlier and consequently, up earlier.....
Sewing and craft
  1. Use that bloody stash up! Seriously, I have some beautiful fabrics and I am determined to only use my stash for the next 12 months, unless I seriously put a dent in it. However, I do draw the line at using an inappropriate fabric for the sake of it. Do I build into this one a few exceptions rule?
  2. Try techniques that scare the living daylights out of me! This includes buttons, zippers and other fasteners....
  3. Improve my technical skills! I was given the Colette Handbook for Christmas and I fully intend to use it. I've also joined a sewing guild for inspiration and a kick up the bum!
  4. No more patterns! This is pretty self explanatory.....
  5. Try to finish outstanding projects first.... There's a baby blanket in this one.... Due June!
Work
  1. Get a new domain and website for my make-up work.
  2. Get business cards and registered so I can get back into weddings.
  3. Work on my technical skills and find a good base for inspiration.
I'll try and elaborate on these more over the coming days with pictures of how to accomplish them but as I have just woken up at 5am for no reason, I'm still in bed and blogging....

Good morning everyone!

2011 in review.....

Well hello there! I didn't see you from way up in 2012 lol!

I thought I'd have a look at 2011 in review for me, albeit only 6 months of it was related to sewing.

It's been a big year, in a lot of ways. I finished both my degree and my make-up qualifications in December 2010 so this was the first year in forever that I had no scholastic endeavours. To fill the time, I decided on June 28th to start sewing again and not purchase any clothing for 12 months.

Now how did that go? Surprisingly well! I'm actually quite shocked and it does take me reminding myself, as I work in a mall, to walk away Renee.... That being said, I did add a couple of items that I couldn't make and really needed. What are these? Dress pants, 3 warm sweaters and a couple cotton long-sleeved tees after my move back to Canada aka The Great White North!

The other massive event this year was the above mentioned return to my roots, Vancouver, permanently. I did bring my beloved fur-child with me and I've not looked back. I'm having a great time, enjoying being me, catching up with friends, and just being Canadian again! Yes I proudly admit an addiction to Tim Hortons, root beer and snow. I do like ice hockey but I think that being away for so long has weaned me but I'm sure that will improve :)

In review, in 6 months of sewing, I think I did alright. I had a quick look and tallied up:
9 dresses
3 tops
3 sets of adult onsies (pjs)
1 child's dress
1 dolls dress
3 scarves
3 bags
and a few UFO's that we're not going to talk about....

Whilst not ridiculously impressed with my efforts, I must admit that I have to put it into perspective, and that is that I had a major life change 3 months into my sewing vow and didn't sew again afterwards due to lack of sew-jo and lack of supplies (they were on a boat floating merrily across the ocean...)

I have some plans to start again this week and have just organized my stash into my closet and... wow! I have a new vow I think....

I, Amber Elayne Crombach, do solemnly swear to use my stash as my FIRST place of choice for future projects.

I am actually seriously afraid to tally the meterage and will just ignore that aspect for now..... Suffice to say, I'm truly fine to sew anything I wish.... from what's in my closet.... hahaha!

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Handmade gifts!

Hello holiday revellers!

I hope this post finds you well with full bellies and holiday cheer!

As you know, I moved back to the Great White North (although right now it's totally not!) but am working seasonal retail at a rather normal wage... thus Christmas has been a bit tight.... So I decided to me-make a portion of gifts! And of course, forgot my pictures!!!! AGAIN!!!

But here's a list:
  • An extra-long scarf for my extra-tall brother (done 5 times, 3 times as a cable knit but it was just too stiff, and 2 times as another pattern..... I need to not be a perfectionist!!!)
  • 3 adult grocery bags and 1 toddler sized for BFF, aunt, brother, and niece (again, with much unravelling....)
  • A cowl for my BFF (made twice... changed needle size to a bigger one)
  • Doll dress for my niece (1st try Woot woot!)
  • Most of a cowl for my mom (ok this one failed but only because I finished it and then unravelled it as it wasn't perfect enough)
Although I only gave a limited number of gifts, the amount of work was ridiculous because I fail to check as I go... and apparently fail to learn from mistakes!!!! Ha ha ha!

So I didn't get to finishing the cowl for Mom, making her a top (this is because the pattern still hasn't arrived......), and a dress for my niece (pattern arrived 2 days before Christmas but I was working and I had bought her something else). I'll finish the cowl as an I-love-you gift, the top will be for her birthday soon, and the dress because I'm an awesome Auntie and I can give gifts whenever I want! I refuse to think of them as UFOs.... LOL!

And now, with my full belly, I'm off to bed to sleep and digest before I leave for work at a ridiculously early hour for a full day of Boxing Day shoppers!

Axx

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Well, Santa came and brought chocolates and goodies. I surprised myself by accomplishing the bulk of the handmade gifts I wanted to make. One missed the mark but that's because I unravelled it AFTER finishing it... Must stop that! Waiting for the turkey and all the Christmas goodies to be eaten but in the meantime:

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!!!!!

And yes I am wearing and holding most of my gifts... why? Because I can!!!!


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Purpose? Salmon have the answer....

Hello again!

As you may know, I’ve moved back to Canada and have had the pleasure of walking my beloved Schnookie through the park down the street, Bear Creek Park. In my years here, I have never seen a bear but there are a millions squirrels, beavers (apparently, although I only see their dams), birds and salmon. Yes salmon!

This creek is so shallow that when we were kids, we’d try and swim in it but we could always touch, even in the deepest parts and the bulk was ankle to knee deep. However, this creek houses an incredible salmon population that is currently spawning. They were a beautiful bright red and to see them making their journey upstream was quite lovely.

However, as you may or may not know, a salmon’s spawning is also a death sentence as the moment they do their “duty” they slowly start to die, having used all their energy to get to their spawning beds (incidentally, salmon all spawn where they were hatched – useless fact!). Their beautiful colour fades, their scales turn grey like concrete, then white and then they wash up along the edges. It’s very sad but on the other side, there are millions of little salmon eggs waiting for the spring to hatch and carry on the tradition.

Now, why am I educating you on salmon? Well, today I was walking the dog, looked over the bridge side and saw red salmon doing their mating swim (behind closed doors and in privacy, of course), others who had already spawned and the bodies of those long gone (privately, cannot wait for the rotting stage – ew!) but it made me think of us humans.

When I wasn’t working, time seemed surreal and other than cleaning and such, it seems like you don’t always have a purpose and I personally believe, that if you don’t have something to keep yourself going: hobby, education or such, you slowly start to die yourself. After I finished my degree, I took up sewing again because I really started to feel useless and “old” and boring.

Think of those who retire and all of a sudden seem “old” overnight. Is it the lack of purpose? In reality, we are animals and animals don’t “retire” in the wild. When they do, they get picked off or die. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people should work until they do die, but having a purpose, whether hobbies, volunteering, grandkids or travel, certainly seems to help the “old” stay “young”!

I think it’s all about balance and appreciating life and the little lessons that are presented. Just because you are “getting on”, does not mean you are old!!!! Case in point, there is this lovely retired couple who walk their dog everyday in the same park. Their beloved Princess is a 15 year old border collie cross who can no longer make the walks. Does this mean that no one walks? Hell NO! They walk and pull Princess in her little wagon so she can enjoy the outdoors, her humans enjoy walking her and they still have something to keep them going!

So make sure you have something keeping you going peoples!!!!!! Even if it’s something little. As long as you are passionate about it, DO IT!!!!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Caramel Mud Cupcakes... Yum-tastic!!!


Hi!

I must admit that I've gotten a little smart and typed up a few posts on Word when I've wanted to sit away from my connection, mainly in the kitchen so I can watch cookies baking, keep my beautiful Fu company and drink coffee! Here's the recipe to the amazing caramel mudcakes I made for my bestie's birthday last weekend. The original recipe was for a cake but I amended it to cupcakes for both the fun factor and the share-and-leave-some-for-the-folks-too factor!

Here is the recipe!

200g butter

1 ¼ cups white chocolate

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup hot water

1 tbsp treacle or other syrup (I used agave)

2 tsp vanilla (I used more…..)

2 eggs room temperature

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder (I guessed this amount and it seemed to work)

Instructions

  1. The instructions say to preheat but I’m seriously going to say wait until after step 2! Temp is 160 degrees though.
  2. Place butter, chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla and syrup into a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth (about 5 min). Cool for 20-30 min .
  3. Now, preheat the oven!
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well. Sift in flour and baking powder. Stir until combined.
  5. Fill each cupcake holder until ¾ or a little more full (this does not rise a lot but it will rise some but you will need some room for the ganache to settle without spilling over the edges!).
  6. Cook for 25-30 min or until a toothpick comes out clean, or nearly clean, just not gooey! The colour will be a nice caramel, not a brown.
  7. Let cool and make the ganache!

Now the topping!! Ganache!!!!!

1/3 cup cream

2/3 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white chocolate

Mix all items together in a pan on low until melted. Spread onto cooled caramel cupcakes!!!! Allow to cool and set.

Eat!


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Birthday present for my bestie!!!!!

Hello again!!

Now, I’m really sure I’ve mentioned my “pezzant” status and in my family, in the months of October through December are more than a dozen birthdays of close family members, my dog and friends…. Yes you heard me right, more than a dozen! And then Christmas!!!! I don’t have that many over the remaining 9 months!!!!!!! And now I am poor money-wise only. I am rich beyond belief in other things, like love.

But love doesn’t bottle well so I’ve decided to “bottle” it in the form of handmade gifts. This is hard because of the time factor and the nosy-mother factor. LOL!

My best friend’s birthday was last weekend. She is very eco-conscious and yet quite urban. She’s also not inclined to buy herself pretty things and because I’ve been away, don’t know her as well as I did (but I will again!). I wanted to make her a bamboo scarf because of the sustainability factor and it is so very lovely to touch! I lured her into the local yarn store and lamented over choices for my aunt who is allergic to non-natural fibres and basically got her to pick the yarn…. Yes I’m sneaky!

She then decided to pull out her needles and knit a scarf for her daughter after my inspiration (yay!) and mentioned thinking about a scarf with a built in loop so it’s not so long…. And then I had my pattern! YES!

The pattern was a free one from Bernat called the Quick Crochet Scarf. It was quick but it looked great! I did leave the bottom trim off because it looked a bit Nanna to me, for her. Also, I’m wondering if the folks at Bernat didn’t like it either because they cut it out of the photo!!!!! Now the colour is a beautiful sage/grey bamboo with a thin shiny fibre through it. It looks gorgeous and feels even better! She loves it and has received many compliments as well.

And I added a beautiful bubble bath from work and put it all in a handmade, crocheted eco-bag in hot pink! I love these bags! I got the pattern off of Ravelry but they will be the subject of another post as I have a few variations to show!!!!! So excited! Everyone is getting one!

And my lovely Mommy pops threw in a couple of knitted dish clothes that she had made as well and I picked two colours that suited the eco-bag and we were set.

And what did we do? Well, we had sushi, ate the cupcakes that I will post the recipe for tomorrow and then hired a private karaoke room and sang our hearts out (and voices out)…. What a great night!

“If you think I’m sexy, and you want my body, come on Baby, let me know……..”

Yes we got her husband to sing this for us! So good!