Monday, September 29, 2008

Guest post: Making assumptions, or a colour theory smackdown - A Preview

This is a preview for a series of posts about colour theory. I haven't studied colour theory, aside from doing my roommate's art school homework for her in years gone by. However, I have recently been humbled at the foot of the colour theory throne, and this humbling has resulted in new insight.

It is not a theory, friends. It is the truth. My approach of 'if I like everything that goes in, what comes out will work out' is not robust in the face of quilting's rules and realities.

The above is a (very satisfying) salvage effort! Two quilts were born from the grand schemes I had for a large quilt modelled after this one.

I would write more, but I can't stop watching this:

26 minutes well spent, friends.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Guest post: Making excuses

Friends, I have not spent the past month or so lying around. I have been scheming and making lists, and cutting things out, and experimenting with interfacing, and knitting myself a sweater. What I have NOT been doing is posting about it!

Marc took this picture on our trip down the west coast of the US in May. This is a seal on Cannon Beach: not dead, as we had suspected. Just sleeping. I thought it might be appropriate for this post.

I would like to keep posting here, and Erin has encouraged me to do so. Now I just have to get a few thoughts down in a form that you will enjoy reading, instead of keeping them all in a big cloud hovering over my head with all of my other crafty thoughts. My holiday gift-giving ambitions are considerable this year...I just have to take some steps to bring these ambitions 'into the real' as it were.

So stay tuned for next time, when we talk all about it!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Making tentative plans

While I haven't been producing much lately, I HAVE been making tentative plans to make things. Marshmallows, to be exact.

First, Emily at Inside a Black Apple featured these in a cup of hot chocolate. They look unbelievable.

Then, I found the smores pictured above at my local grocery store. The smores were tasty (and pretty), but they inspired me to make my own marshmallow treats, more than anything else.

Side note: I've had plans to check out Butter Baked Goods since Lydia at I ate the Lotus told me about it, but I never make my way over to Dunbar when I'm in Vancouver. I lived on Dunbar in 1999, and I didn't think it was so far away from everything. It's far away from everything.

Anyway, I've checked out plenty of marshmallow recipes, including the Martha Stewart recipe that Emily used, but I have yet to find a gelatin-free recipe. Is gelatin really that magical?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eating a macaron in Paris

I forgot to tell you that I fulfilled my tentative plan. Mulptiple times! I also got my parents hooked on macarons (they were in Paris after the Ireland wedding). Success!

That Pierre Hermé macaron was the best one of all. It is a vanilla "cookie" with pistachio and cherry filling. It was so good it made me sick.

The top picture features a macaron from Ladurée. I became quite familiar with these little darlings because Michael bought two boxes for his coworkers before we found out that our flight was cancelled. I couldn't let them go to waste. You understand.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This is where I use my blog to record some lists of things that Michael and I don't want to forget about our holiday. It seemed like a natural place to put them.

Top culinary experiences:

  • Cappuccinos and croissants (fresh from the oven) in Porlezza
  • Gelati in Italy, but especially the fondente and meringa gelati in Bellagio
  • Meat plate with Holly and Corrado in Menaggio (see photo in previous post)
  • Cheese plate and carpaccio at Open Bar in Florence (see photo in previous post)
  • Pizza from Bella 'Mbriana in Lucca
  • Fig granita from Il Pirate Cafe in Vernazza (see photo in previous post)
  • Falafel from Mi-va-mi in Paris (with egg plant!) (thanks Sarah M)

Top revelations:

  • Jet lag sucks
  • Hipsters are global
  • We like the beach
  • The mayor of Paris is awesome
  • We are fond of Italian dining rituals
  • Michael looks Irish
  • Public displays of affection are very common in Italy
  • European women are that sophisticated
  • The Eiffel Tower is cool

Top overall moments:

  • Playing board games in Portrush
  • Ringing the bell in Porlezza
  • Discovering Siena
  • Seeing David in Florence
  • Biking in Lucca
  • Getting to and swimming at the nude beach near Corniglia
  • Lounging at the Alassio beach
  • Exploring the Marais
  • Riding a Segway

Things that worked out:

  • (all of our hotels were amazing)
  • Rick Steves (we used this guide book in Italy, and I LOVED it)
  • Back packs instead of rolling suit cases
  • GPS for driving in Northern Ireland
  • Small camera (easy to carry in your pocket)
  • Easy reading (I chose The Golden Compass and Watership Down)
  • Audio books on my iPod
  • Putting thought into wardrobe (we weren't fashionable Europeans, but we were prepared for rain and sun)
  • Cydwoq shoes (my feet were happy!)
  • Booking museums in advance (we snubbed the lines in Florence and Paris)
  • Learning about some history before the trip (Michael taught me about the Renaissance)
  • Securing Jen as a house sitter (we didn't get evicted when our rent cheque bounced)

Things we would do differently next time:

  • Bring a big memory card for the camera (instead of a second camera)
  • Throw some modern art into the mix
  • Bring a hand-held Internet device
  • Stay for a minimum of three nights in each destination
  • Fly with an established airline
  • Eat before famished
  • Sort out bank accounts before travel

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Give Paris one more chance

Michael and I were in Paris for 7 days. We were supposed to be there for three, but Zoom Airlines felt we should stay for a little longer so we could fully appreciate the city.

Even though I was ready to come home (since we'd been gone for so long already), I really liked Paris. I liked navigating the Metro, I liked the pain au chocolate, I liked having a glass of wine in Amelie Poulain's restuarant after stumbling upon it by accident, I liked being overwhelmed by history and I liked letting Michael convince me to do a four hour segway tour of the sights.

I don't think I'll ever stop laughing at these photos.

Oh yeah. I also liked the part where Michael and I decided that we are ready to get married to each other. They don't call it the city of romance for nuthin.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Making a necklace for myself

Europe. I shopped around for necklaces while I was visiting you, but I couldn't find anything I liked. Maybe I'm behind the times, but I'm not really interested in the big, chunky necklaces that all the European ladies are sporting. I'm still stuck on cute charms, you know? I decided to make something for myself when I got over the jet lag.

The best thing about making your own necklace is you can pick the length. I wanted something that hung a couple of inches below my collar bone (the most polite reference point I can think of), so that's what I made.

After I put a clasp on my chain, I added the owl charm and five jump rings with a purple bead on each one. I placed the jump rings on the left side of the necklace only, and they are about an inch apart. In addition to charms, I'm also a fan of asymmetry.

Oh, and Jen is pretty amazing too. Socks! I hear that she plans to continue writing about her creations every now and again. We're pretty good partners, but don't feel excluded. You can tell us about the things you're making too. Just say the word.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Even though it means winter is around the corner

Can I just say that I love fall? Every day has been beautiful since we got back a week ago. I get some kind of weird energy from the feeling in the air at this time of the year. This morning I was all, "Let's go camping this weekend...let's go to Vancouver sometime you want to go to Tofino next week?" It's making me crazy, but in an enduring way.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Three is the magic number

These three photos wrap up our last three stops in Italy, but don't despair. Last weekend, with help from some strong coffee, Michael and I wrote up a whole bunch of top five lists regarding different aspects of our trip (i.e. top five food experiences), and you can expect to see those in the near future. And then there's Paris to write about too.

This photo was taken in Lucca as we were heading to the train station. The walls surrounding this town are the main attraction, so I thought I'd provide you with a unique vantage point.

This was one of the most relaxing towns we visited. Instead of hustling around museums, we did other, better things, like riding bikes; we were able to bike around the top of the town walls, which are so wide they boast parks and tree-lined pathways, and we also saved our sore feet from the treck to the modern conveniences of our apartment, like air conditioning and television (the Olympics need no translation, friends).

I realize that you can probably find this photo a thousand times on the Internet, but there's a reason for that. Isn't it pretty? We were there! We didn't stay in that town on the cliffs, though. We stayed in Vernazza, which I hear is the favourite of the five Cinque Terre towns. I loved it becuase we had a balcony that looked onto the main street; figs, pizza and wine were consumed with an entertaining view.

The funny thing about this leg of the journey is we didn't walk between the towns, which is what most people do when they go to the Cinque Terre. I hear you can walk from the first to the last in five hours. Instead, we spent our time at the nude beach near Corniglia. That was an adventure too, and it involved some hiking, so I'm not too ashamed of myself. We had to walk through an abandoned train tunnel (where locals took cover during the war) to get to the beautiful black pebble beach, where we were tossed around by giant waves. It was a highlight.

I can barely look at this picture right now. Why don't I live in Alassio? Why don't we all live there, friends? We didn't get enough beach time during this holiday, but what we did get was pretty good, even if it did cost us a pretty penny to rent beach chairs and an umbrella on this beach.

This town was a wild card since we couldn't find information about it in any of our guide books. Michael decided it was worth the risk after he read about it online, and I'm just sad that we couldn't stay longer. This is where you should go if you want a beach holiday in Italy. The town was pretty boring, even though there was a week-long beauty pageant on while we were there, but the sand is white and the water is warm. Sometimes that's all you need.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Burnt Siena

It's not rocket science, friends. It's hard not to love Siena when this is the view from your hotel room:

Rick Steve's tells me that Siena offers Italy's best medieval city experience, so it has that going for it too. Also, it's pretty cool when you walk around the corner and find this:

That's me, dwarfed by the duomo. I guess that's the point.

It was our favourite city.

During our three night stay in Siena, we took a day-trip to Florence. A few of my friends tell me that Florence is their favourite place in the world, but as I've already made clear, I prefer Siena. However, I admit that I had some special moments in Florence too.

We went to see Michelangelo's David at the Accademia Gallery, and I was moved; it was unexpected. We splurged a little and went to Open Bar, thanks to a recommendation from Holly; I'll ellaborate in an overview of notable food experiences, but suffice to say it provided a peaceful sanctuary in a city full of sweaty tourists. Finally, we went to the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella before heading back to Siena, thanks to another recommendation from Holly. One of the oldest pharmacies in the world, this place still sells all sorts of tempting tinctures and concoctions. The packaging made my mouth water, and I shyly bought a few things that I will cherish.

I didn't buy any of these essences, but I wish I had.

Next up: Lucca (we rode bikes), Vernazza (we went to the nude beach) and Alassio (we paid a lot of money to lie on the beach, and it was totally worth it).

P.S. We're home!

Guest post: Making socks II

This socks business is not going anywhere. This is the beginning of a new pair, with wool my sister Susie got me for my birthday. It's softer than the wool I used for pair #1, and I'll keep you posted as to whether this yields a significantly different experience when I wear/slide around the house in them.

Also, welcome back Erin and Michael!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Guest post: Making socks - an update!

Tonight I finished my first pair of socks! These will not be the last. These are really fun to make, and VERY satisfying. Also, they make a great distraction from the Republican National Convention. Handy!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Friends in high places

The rumours are true. Michael and I were supposed to be home on Saturday, but because Zoom Airlines went bust, we are in Paris until tomorrow. Visa tells us that we will get our money back, and we managed to find cheap tickets with Air Canada, so aside from extending our trip a few days, we are in good shape.

Even though exciting things are happening here in the city of romance, I want to stick to the chronological account of our trip, so cast your mind back to Zurich. After one night in that city, we took the train through the Alps to see my friend Holly and her husband Corrado in Porlezza, Italy.

It's fun to know people in unfamilar places. Don't you wish you knew these Italian buddies?

Seeing Holly and Corrado worked out better than we could have imagined. We weren't sure how much we would see them since it has been years since I saw Holly last; I was hoping for a couple of meals and maybe a cup of coffee or two, but Holly had other ideas. A whole itinerary, in fact, which included introducing me to the finest Italian delights (pizza, wine, cheese, gelati, brioche, cappucino, limoncello and so forth), taking us to Bellagio (the town that the famous hotel is inspired by), driving us by George Clooney's villa (he was in town, but we didn't see him), teaching us how to order food (easier in Italy than in Paris) and sun tanning with swans at a lake that may or may not have been Lake Como. I can't remember.

We also got to tag along while Corrado fulfilled a local tradition. We woke up at 5 a.m. on our first day in town to ring the bell in a little church on a cliff in honour of San Rocco, the town's patron saint. It was the town's annual holiday in honour of the saint, and that meant that in addition to getting up early to be the first people to ring the bell, we had to stay up late to enjoy incredible fireworks. It was a better show than the Celebration of Light, yo. There were parachutes involved.

Finally, I will always rememer this leg of the journey because it helped me fulfill a long standing tentative plan to own red shoes. I bought them from an Italian leather shop in Bellagio, and they are a dream. Holly likes red shoes too. Those are her Campers in in the top of the photo.

After Porlezza we went to Siena. I have a lot to say about Sienna, so you'll have to wait until I get home. Deal? Also, stop checking your mail box for post cards from us. We didn't send a single one.