Sunday, February 09, 2014

Sunday Stash - and I won again

I'm on a bit of a hot streak lately, it seems. It wasn't too long ago that I won the gorgeous little bundle of novelty prints featured here, and what do you know but only a couple months later I win a fat quarter bundle of Kona solids from the Sew Sisters. I couldn't be doing better if I tried (even if I am drowning the winter schedule a little this year.)

The bundle contains four gorgeous greys - in Silver, Shadow Pewter, and Shale. These are gorgeous greys, and as I tend more toward grey than blacks and whites I know I'll adore working with these. Perhaps even better, these will work perfectly in a quilt I've been planning for awhile now, and collecting fabrics for over the past year.

I have to say, I'm feeling downright spoiled rotten.

The solid and greyscale colours rather brought out the worst in my photography, but such is life. I'm still thrilled with my new fabric - especially as I've just entered new project territory (more on that soon).

Linking up with the lovely Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash.

Molli Sparkles

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

bits and bobs

Somehow in all the crazy scheduling that has been this winter, Bunny and I have somehow managed to find a decent amount of time for fun and spontaneity. A few dinner dates, plans with friends and a very exciting, unexpected purchase.

Bunny and I really have no need for more devices. He's got a Galaxy phone, I'm about to update my crummy BlackBerry to something more functional we have a laptop for shared playing and a desktop for his work. We are all device-d out. Right?
picture nabbed from the Samsung website

Except neither of us likes the desktop for anything but work, and we both like to watch things online which ties up the laptop for ages and we always want to be on it at the same time. We'd both been thinking of spending some allowance money on a tablet but neither of us had mentioned it to the other or taken the plunge.

The only reason we went to Best Buy was to get some printer ink. I can't quite explain how we walked out of Canada Computers an hour later with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. But we certainly did. And I love it. Bunny started calling it my toy pretty much half an hour after he set it up, so I consider that promising.

There are still a few things the laptop is better for - streaming video on the TV, writing blog posts, adding content to my Feedly. But going through the blog reader is a lot quicker on the Tab, even though I'm still figuring out how not to drive myself nuts when leaving comments (blogger I've got down, wordpress has been a headache). I'm trying to figure out what apps we want to add to it - some sort of news app, a few more games that sort of thing.

Delaunay, Red Eiffel Tower
from the Guggenheim collection

I also made a weekend trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario with one of my besties the other weekend which was a load of fun. We needed a visit, Toronto is a convenient halfway point and it's always fun to have a little bit of cultural entertainment. Even better, there was a visiting exhibit from the Guggenheim and we managed to find two separate coupons for the whole event.

It was pretty cool. The exhibit was about art from 1910 to 1918, and while a lot of it really wasn't too my tastes personally it was amazing to see and get exposed to new artists. I've also come to the conclusion that while intellectually I can appreciate how amazing Picasso's creative process was, as well as how ground-breaking, I just don't enjoy the results. Cubism is not my bag. There was also a lot of awkwardly abstract art, I found. I had a hard time with Kandinsky - a lot of his early work seemed like it was abstract for the sake of abstraction and the whole effect seemed like a five year old could have done it. When we got to the later years he seemed to have abandoned trying to replicate things in the abstract and just painting it got really cool.

Also, I don't know how I've never found Delaunay before. Or maybe I've seen some of his work but never got his name? Either way, I loved the pieces of his that we saw and if I weren't living in my mother's basement and travelling by train I probably would have picked up a print. His work hit what for me is a sweet spot in abstraction: still recognizable, but has been given a form and fluidity that expands it past what it is representative of.

There were a few others that were interesting as well - Chagall's work was wonderful if somewhat discomforting, and Mondrian's works seemed very much to be speaking to current styles - which makes me wonder if it inspired the modern trend of colourblocking, and I could see having fun trying to recreate his work in quilt form.

Some of the commentary on the work I found odd. Particularly there was a comment that it was surprising that once the war broke out in 1914 that it was a "surprise" that some artists didn't immediately make the war their subject. It seems to me that when war is subsuming the world around you, that perhaps art would be an escape from the war, rather than an expression of it.

Then there's the general business of life: co-ordination of appointments, trying to squeeze in coffee with friends around that, running errands, getting lost nose deep in a book and cuddles with the puppy and the increasingly sucky cats (seriously, these cats have gotten needy in their old age!).

Coming up we have our meeting with our accountant to take care of the taxes - which is both scary and exciting. I'll be bringing my checkbook as we're planning on some creative money management, putting money into a retirement account for tax benefits - because we can raid said retirement account for our downpayment. Hopefully we'll be able to squeeze in a visit with my aunt afterwards - we've been trying to meet up for ages and it just hasn't worked out. One of my university friends is visiting town later in the month as well, and I'm hoping that I can manage to squeak in a coffee or lunch date and catch up.

So that's me, lately, in a nutshell. Busy but still having fun. What's everyone else been up to?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Stash - Christmas Additions

December saw a lot of additions to my fabric stash, which perhaps explains why it's taken so long to showcase the lovelies I was lucky enough to receive for Christmas. My mom's way of doing Christmas is an awful lot like a wedding registry in that we all submit lists of things that we would love to receive, which are then distributed across the family. Of course everyone regularly goes off list, but given that I'm the only one in the family who gives a hoot about fabric this system is the perfect way to ensure I get a couple little fabric beauties for Christmas.

nine beautiful half yards of fabric and a new ruler
I knew that I'd be getting fabric from my momma for Christmas right about when a piece of squishy mail arrived addressed to her. Let me tell you, it was hard to not peak at the name of the sender to see which shop it had come from so I could figure out what, exactly, I would be getting ahead of time. I learned my lessons about snooping as a kid, though. I like Christmas morning to be a surprise. (Although Bunny gets an out on that - we each choose a main present together.)

My mom kind of knocked it out of the park with this gift. I don't know about you, but I can't think of anything much better than a half-yard bundle of the Corsage line from Alison Glass's sun prints. Yeah I'm spoiled, spoiled rotten. Especially since she snuck in an Olfa 24 x 6 ruler.

such saturated colours
Pretty much everything about these fabrics is wonderful. The colours range from lovely and muted to rich and super saturated (almost neon).

pinks and purples!

and lovely soft colours
These will probably be the last stash additions for awhile. My next few purchases are going to need to be backing and batting fabric, and I already have everything but the backgrounds for my next two projects on hand. So I'll have to settle for petting these pretties. Do you think Bunny would notice if I snuggled them in bed? They'd get wrinkled, so I won't. But I want to.

Molli Sparkles

Friday, January 24, 2014

review: and the mountains echoed

Coming out of the holiday season I quite happily found myself with a pile of books to read through over the coming weeks. This isn't unusual, traditionally books are the easy gift for me because I'm notoriously fussy and one of those dreaded hard-to-buy-for people. In addition to a small pile of gifted books, the brother and I also swapped a number of books and I just may be eyeing up the book I gave to Bunny for my reading pleasure as well.

I've been slowly working my way through the books, snatching a few spare moments here and there to read through a chapter. Contrary to popular assumptions, I don't only read science fiction and fantasy, though it is the majority of my easy reading. I like serious fiction as well, when I have the mental energy to really actively engage with a book instead of simply being entertained. One contemporary author who does serious fiction exceptionally well is Khaled Hosseini. It was Bunny who started me reading his work, but once I'd launched in I was hooked. So when I heard this year that he would be releasing a new book it quickly went to the top of my Christmas list, and lucky me, I have a brother who delivers.

And The Mountains Echoed is one of those breathtaking works of fiction that sweeps you up into the story and pulls you right along with it. I'm a little at a loss as to how to describe this book, a multi-generational tale that shows how just one action can ripple across the lives of everyone involved, even those who are only tangentially related to the story. Starting in a small town in Afghanistan, the plot stretches across to reach Europe, stopping in both France and Greece before taking us across the ocean to the United States.

The plot of the novel is wonderful, the story at turns heartbreaking and exciting, but plot is not what made this a standout to me. Hosseini's writing style is amazingly engaging, with prose bordering on poetry at points. Even better, his understanding of the human condition is profound and he managed to write characters that come to life right on the page. Ambitious, sad, flawed, real characters who you could easily imagine passing on the street, or in your doctor's office or anywhere. Real flaws, flaws like ambitions and promises exceeding their ability to follow through, flaws like parents who try to fill a gaping need within themselves with their children and the messiness that ensues, like letting fear of failure become its own crippling disease. The third person narrative allows us to see as much about the internal motivations as the external actions and how the two can at times contrast so terribly.

This is one of those books that forced me to sit up and critically engage. Where I would read a chapter and then go back and re-read an earlier portion to see how they related to each other. I was tempted to get out my highlighter and mark passages to come back to, I did grab a pen and notebook and took down quotes and made notes. I swear I'm ready for a seminar or a book club meeting on this, though I have neither.

Some excerpts:

"Talking about Afghanistan - and his is astonished at how quickly and imperceptibly this has happened - suddenly feels like discussing a recently watched, emotionally drenching film whose effects are beginning to wane." p 167

"... for the rest of her life it would slam into her at random moments, the guilt, the terrible remorse, catching her off guard, and that she would ache to the bones with it. She would wrestle with this, now and for all days to come. It would be the dripping faucet at the back of her mind." p 217

"What was I supposed to be, growing in your womb - assuming it was even in yoru womb that I was conceived? A seed of hope? A ticket purchased to ferry you from the dark? A patch for that hole you carried in your heart? If so, then I wasn't enough. I wasn't nearly enough." p 221

" 'When they entered the kill zone,' Baba Jan said, one hand absently stroking Adel's hair, 'I opened fire. We hit the lead vehicle, then a few jeeps. I thought they would back out or try to plow through. But the sons of whores stopped, dismounted and engaged us in gunfire. Can you believe it?' " p 271

"He would learn to love him again even if now it was a different, more complicated, messier business." p 276

"I learned that the world didn't see the inside of you, that it didn't care a whit about the hopes and dreams, and sorrows, that lay masked by skin and bones. It was as simple, as absurd and cruel as that." p 329

Even without context, it seems impossible not to recognize the human condition in those quotes. The failings, flaws, fears. Which isn't to say the book doesn't have joyful moments, because it does, but what Hosseini captures so perfectly is that messy and complicated nature of a person wearied by the world.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pink Mosaics

Not to long ago Rachel at Stitched In Color announced a mosaic contest, and I can't really think of anything that sounds more fun than window shopping and putting together bundles of fabric. I mean, seriously, I do that because I'm bored and fabric is pretty. The theme for this particular contest is pink, which is a colour that I enjoy but that's pretty easy to overload on and I tend to shy away from using. Even when I find pinks I love, it gets hard to find the right pink. Challenge accepted, and now it was time to find a great combination of pink fabrics. And, since we can enter up to two mosaics, I had to do it twice.

First up I decided to go way outside my comfort zone and go for bright pinks and use yellow as a high contrast accent colour. I realized after the fact that this matches a bubblegum pink and yellow blanket my best friend kept in the living room when we lived together in university. Not necessarily a colour scheme I'd keep in my home, but certainly a fun one.

The second mosaic I stayed a lot closer to my comfort zone; starting with pinks that bleed into purples. Looking at it again I'm wishing I'd either removed the purple-and-green fabric, or added another green in there but I'm mostly happy with this. I was surprised at how many Anna Maria Horner prints I was drawn to for this - while her work is beautiful her fabrics can feel intimidating to work with just in terms of showing off their prints.

If you haven't joined in on the fun yet the link up is open until midnight January 23rd, so there's still a couple of days left.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

one down, seven to go (or, heading towards radio silence)

Weeks, that is, until my life is a little less hellish. That's how I'd describe my schedule right now, hellish. Not very promising?

Bunny's finishing up the last two months of in class instruction for his apprenticeship this winter. Which on the one hand is YAY! Get that beast over with and then we never have to do this again. (That's an important bit, the never have to do this again.) It's a little bit awful in a lot of ways, even if it's a good thing overall. Mostly it's awful in that alarms go off at 4:30am in my bedroom.

Have I mentioned I'm not a morning person? That I'd go to bed at 4:30am if respectability allowed it? It's not quite the wakeup call of my dreams ... but it's only temporary.

Then there's all the myriad of little complaints I can come up with if I put a little effort into it, but really? I don't need to whine about that here. We have a rough schedule for a couple months - it happens. It's all for a good cause, and it gets us one step closer to so many things - Bunny's mechanic's certification, which means more money on those paycheques, which means we get closer to buying a house, and going on vacation (more money for fabric, too?) and having a long term schedule that truly fits the family life we're striving towards.

The reason I bring it up is that I am crazy exhausted lately with all these extra demands on my time. Seriously I'm ready to go to bed before everyone else is home for dinner most nights. Which has me thinking that it might be a little quieter than usual around here until March rolls around. I could be wrong, but who knows.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Stash - Squared Elements

These beauties I'm about to share are the last of the order of fabric I made last month that I've been slowly revealing. I try to make my dollars stretch, and fabric purchases have to come out of my allowance so unless I have a project that needs fabric NOW I try to limit myself to an order every other month or so and these are the last from my most recent splurge. And these Squared Elements I couldn't wait to get my hands on.

I'm pretty sure I love everything about Squared Elements. The simplicity of the colour/white patterns. The slightly wonky grid layout of the squares. And depending on whether the white is the grid or the background changes how the whole pattern comes off.

For the most part these were stashed with projects in mind.

Eggplant and lime are the primary colours in the quilt I plan to make for my bed in that one-day distant future, so I've been picking up prints I like in those colours whenever I see them. Purple's a favourite colour, and the bedroom is the only room Bunny will tolerate it, so purple was a must have. Why lime? I'm still not sure, other than the fact that I love the contrast a rich purple against a lighter green gives.

The others? Well, I've got my reds collection building up for my brother and the black was just stashing. Black/grey/white prints have been really drawing my attention lately and I think before I know it I'm going to have a lot of those in my stash. They're useful, though, and I loves them.

The effect of the whole stack is just delicious to me. Can't wait to get my hands on more of these beautiful blenders.

Linking up, once again, with the ever excellent Molli Sparkles and Sunday Stash. I can't wait to see what everyone else has to share.

Molli Sparkles