happy 2009

Thank you all for reading and I wish you all a beautiful 2009. xoxo

some presents

I didn't give away too many presents this year (my co-workers and I went out for afternoon tea at the Windsor Arms instead, for example, which was so lovely!), and I certainly didn't wrap mine beautifully. It was all very last minute. I gave Geoff a Bialetti Brikka and a Nigel Peake poster; these weren't last minute, and in fact we started using them before Christmas had arrived. I do love giving presents, perhaps moreso than receiving them.

I did receive some wonderful presents this year, though. Some of them are possibly birthday-slash-Christmas presents, but that's fine with me. Everything was unexpected to begin with, after so many birthdays on December 27! I am so grateful for all of the presents & wishes.

The sewing books were from Annie, who clearly knows me very well. The two Japanese ones came from Kinokuniya, and the vintage book from an antique market in Cobourg. The amaryllis bulb (there are two of them, actually) came from Ben and Tara, and the perpetual calendar from Adam and Kate, who also renewed my subscription to Craft magazine. There were also Godiva chocolates, television on DVD, the always-appreciated envelope of cash from my parents, and, of course, the multiple presents I bought for myself (such as this coat, which nearly reaches the floor on me, and which I hope will keep me warm over the next few cold months).

I will have to post about Geoff's present to me later. It's a pretty good one, I think!


english paper piecing

A few weekends ago, I took a class at The Workroom, English paper piecing with Johanna. It was so fun! This is a patchwork technique that is done exclusively by hand, and it is addictive and satisfying. I recommend this class because anyone with any level of experience can take it.

I took this picture sometime last week. It is the pillow I made for my mother in progress, using the techniques I learned it the class. I think I enjoyed the process more than the result, but that's nothing to feel badly about (that's what I'm telling myself, that is).

dream sofa

Oh, oh oh. From Pinch, via Bliss.


chloe skirt

Thank you all for the birthday wishes! I've had a smile on my face for a few days and each little note is appreciated. It is so nice to be wished a happy birthday.

Now, despite the fact that I am a person of modest means, I have been spending a lot of money lately (cf. the Nikon purchase I mentioned in the last post). 'Tis the season, etc.

I am not usually the type of person to care too much about designer clothing -- I'll leave that for readers of Vogue -- but last week I got the most ridiculous deal on a beautiful silk skirt, and I couldn't leave it behind. Look at the pintucking on this beauty! It's maybe one size too big, but I make compromises sometimes.

The last marked price on the skirt is $667; the final price was 90% off that. Thank you, Holt Renfrew Last Call.


As of yesterday, I am thirty years old. We had a little party to celebrate, with about ten people, including some of my oldest & dearest friends. One of the benefits of having a birthday at this time of year is that people who are living out of town (NYC, Montreal, Nantes) are around. It is so nice, and I was so happy to see those familiar faces. A lot of people happen to be out of town, however. Kan & Thomas, who I named my two ties after, were in Ottawa, and I missed them.

We splurged on a Nikon D60 camera on Boxing Day (I couldn't resist making yet another relatively irresponsible, but exciting, choice) and Geoff took a few pictures with it at the party. The funny thing is that my favourite picture of the evening is the one above, taken with Annie's iPhone. I'm obscuring my friend Derek and my profile looks particularly ghastly, but I love this picture. I think it's Geoff's expression. He's holding the quarter-slab vanilla buttercreme cake that we ordered from Whole Foods. Delicious!

One lesson I learned/remembered: it is really hard to choose what to wear for a party in your home. I just threw on an old cardigan at the last minute. Oh well.

I hope all of you have been enjoying the holidays. xoxo




A couple of Polaroids taken yesterday, which was a beautiful, sunny day, but oh so cold, about -20C.

Today I am watching the snow blow in the wind, and I have lines from Oscar Wilde's "The Selfish Giant" running through my head:

The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. "Spring has forgotten this garden," they cried, "so we will live here all the year round." The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots down. "This is a delightful spot," he said, "we must ask the Hail on a visit." So the Hail came. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates, and then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could go. He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.

"I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming," said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold white garden; "I hope there will be a change in the weather."

But the Spring never came, nor the Summer. The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant's garden she gave none. "He is too selfish," she said. So it was always Winter there, and the North Wind, and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced about through the trees.


lovely things

Last week I had some really beautiful mail arrive in my mailbox, as I mentioned below. Two things were completely unexpected and they made me so happy: a birthday card from April and a Christmas card from Erica. Aren't they cute? I am so honoured that you ladies thought of me. Thank you, you beauties, you darling girls.

Another lovely thing was this banner that I got from Caitlin of Nice. Caitlin was one of the first people I met through Etsy and through having a blog, about a year ago now, and she's always been so kind and generous. I knew the banner was coming, the package itself was filled with Nice postcards and a package of Bow & Arrow notecards that I had had in my Etsy favourites for a while. I hung the banner up with tape for now, until I decide on the perfect spot. I think I will leave it up all year round. It will help me remember that every day deserves a "Hooray!" Sort of the anti-"TGIF, y'all!" TGIEveryday.

I didn't mention the slippers I got from Dear Birthday -- they are made of Liberty scraps and have been hand-quilted. I'm wearing them now and they are keeping my feet toasty warm, which is nice because earlier today I was seriously wondering how much time I had left before I lost my feet to frostbite. They have little suede hearts on the bottom; they also feature a stunning example of penmanship on the inside. I am so happy to finally own a Dear Birthday item.

Finally, I got this little pouch from Forest Bound, a little shop that is very much after my own heart, one that I adore. The pouch matches my bag perfectly, and came perfectly packaged. I keep my wallet and keys inside so that I don't have to spend too much time out in the cold digging for them. It was only $13. $13 seems like very little for such a burst of happiness when opening one's mail...

(Image from Forest Bound)



Originally uploaded by ggaabboo.

the wild unknown

I came home yesterday to a mailbox stuffed full, and with packages for me on the shelf nearby. It seems I went a little overboard over the last few weeks, oh dear. Everything was so delightful, though. I'll share more soon, but for now, here is my 2009 calendar. It's from the Wild Unknown and features bunnies, hawks, and song lyrics. I had admired it last year and was pleased to see there was a 2009 version. We had a Lotta Jansdotter linen calendar for 2008, but since 2008 didn't quite go the way I wanted it to, I thought something different would be nice.

The January lyrics are from "Feather by Feather" by Smog (here is a great performance by Bill Callahan/Smog. Sometimes Geoff will put it on the evening for us to listen to because Mr Callahan sounds amazing live). Some of the other lyrics in the calendar are by The Band, Will Oldham, Bob Marley, etc.

I'm weirdly superstitious about calendars and always insist on having a beautiful one. It was hard to choose one this year (there are so many lovely calendars out there!), but in the end I went in for bunnies, for "You are a fighter / you are a fighter / you are a fighter," and also for something large.

Bunnies, guide the way.


latest additions

Hello, hello. I hope you have all been enjoying your weekends. Mine has been so nice. I'll tell you all about the class I took at the Workroom yesterday later this week, once I have a little more to show. For now, I thought I'd share a couple of items we've added to the shop this weekend. I'm so happy with these two items. Look at that kitten face that Geoff drew.

I'm going to start working on a few Valentine's day items too, and I'm pretty excited about them. I know it's a little too early to be thinking about dreary February, especially as Christmas hasn't even come. But handmade items always take a little bit of extra time, and really, there's nothing more lovely than celebrating love.


sephora by opi

After Kate's post on Sephora by OPI's nail polish called "Metro Chic" (seriously, bad name) I decided to hunt it down. I was walking past Sephora earlier today, went in, and picked up the last bottle. On a foolish whim, I asked someone if they had more -- she insisted on unpacking some new boxes in the back. I think people are going mad for this nail polish ("Let me tell you," the girl said. "Let me tell you!"). So now I have two bottles and I don't really need both of them. Like who spends $26 on nail polish in one go?

I wear makeup a little bit, and I like makeup, but I think that a store full of makeup really is quite boring. I still have tomboy tendencies, I think, athough I will very very rarely leave my home without a face covered in foundation. I am very complex (obviously).

Earlier this year I tried mixing my own grey polish, and although it worked, it didn't have a very nice consistency. I like how this one is more purple, too.


winter lovin'

I don't think I'll ever snag an Etsy treasury, so here are some recent favourites. Very wintery, it turns out.

Laura necklace, bungalow

Vintage faux fur jacket, allencompanyinc

Crochet coasters, photobird

Cashmere ballet flats, adventuresofjr

Black forest cape, whiteapple -- incidentally, this is probably my favourite picture on all of Etsy!


tiny tree

I haven't had a tree up since 2002, and when I mentioned that to April in an e-mail, she told me my glitter factor was way low! I knew she was right, and so I picked up a tiny, three foot tall plastic tree that I carted home on the subway at rush hour (even a tiny box in such a situation is unpleasant). I got it at Urban Outfitters, where they were 30% off. I also picked up these amazing multi-coloured glass balls. I had some vintage ones at home, but they would have been too big for my tiny tree. I bought the white tree with the vintage ornaments in mind. I do really like white trees.

I tied a piece of gold-colour sequin trim to the top for an instant tree topper and to up the glitter factor exponentially!

We gave the digital SLR back tonight so these were among the last few shots taken with it. Using flash at night made me think that I was taking hilarious Last Night's Party-style photos of my Christmas tree -- my Christmas tree didn't frolic topless on the floor of the bathroom, though.

Oh and there are these, hanging in the hallway:

Two incredible mid-century linen towels I found at the thrift shop this summer for $2 each.

Geoff surprised me by hanging up some little white lights before I got home, and after adding some Christmas cards from Julia Pott to the mix, Christmas is served!

tea for two

April is so amazing. Besides being absolutely hilarious and the most awesome e-mail writer ever, she has stunning skills in millinery. Yesterday she added this to her Etsy shop: the Tea for Two cocktail hat. So carefully hand-stitched, without a spot of glue (that goes without saying, of course). I've seen a lot of cocktail hats around lately and April's are amongst the most perfect I've seen. These are couture hats. I need one of them on my head!

A couple of years ago I read the book Them by Francine du Plessix Gray; Francine's mother, Tatiana, was a hat-maker for Saks from the 1940s to the 1960s. I adored all the passages in the book that described her atelier, filled with feathers and trims, with her mother perched on her chair stitching the embellishments in place. I am always so happy to see that it's not a completely lost art.


i had to do it

I added a little piece of a doily to my new bag. Some people put pins & various other types of embellishments on their bags, but I put vintage lace.

Too much? Maybe. But I love it.

I wore this bag today for the first time and I am so happy with it. The strap length is perfect! I am very fussy about that detail!



I was tagged by the lovely Tara-Lynn to write about six things that make me happy! I think that none of this will come as a great surprise to anyone who has been even casually browsing this blog. There are certainly more than six things that make me happy!

1. Cats, kittens, and also, cat sweaters! I used to be more of a dog person but I like how cats are quiet and don't need to go outside to pee! There's an animal hospital down the street that has kittens in the window; walking past and kitten-spotting is one of the greatest joys of my life. Especially when they're awake and tumbling around.

2. Thrifting. I love going when I'm feeling kind of sad because I find it soothing. I walk around aimlessly for hours and I pick through everything. Also, antiques markets. I chalk that up to being a little bit nosy and getting to pick through other people's things (here's a tip: if you're a naturally curious / nosy person, become an archivist! Then you can do it professionally!).

3. Lovely mail!

4. Little treats, like a few bites of a very good pastry or a hot chocolate with whipped cream. But really I am not so delicate as that and also like eating cupcakes in a few bites.

5. Skirts and dresses! I don't pay attention to pants or jeans because I never wear them! Remember when you were a little kid and got a good twirling skirt? I still love that (or at least thinking about it, because I don't wear many twirling skirts these days).

6. Taking the occasional vacation day and doing absolutely nothing special with it at all, just puttering around, going for a walk, etc.

I'm not going to tag anyone for the moment, but I'd love to read your lists. xo


tulip skirt

I have never had any luck acquiring clothing from Wiksten, and I was pleased when I heard that Jenny Gordy had designed a pattern for Stitch magazine. I had purple linen, and since I have always loved the Alison skirt from Wiksten, I used it for my version. That might make me unoriginal, but I do love that material and that colour.

It was a nice skirt to make. On the pattern sheet the front and back pieces are mislabeled, but otherwise the fit was fine and the instructions were easy to understand (the cutting directions say to cut 2 self, 2 facing pieces for the placket, but I ended up using 2 pieces only -- I'm not sure if i did it wrong or not, but it made sense to me). I hemmed it a little shorter, because I am 5'3", and I took out one of the buttons.

I did make one big mistake, though, which I will blame on feeling a little unwell and on being tired: when I was making the skirt I tried it on and thought it was too big. I cut a few inches from the front, where the plackets are... I had completely forgotten about the pleats! It ended up working out, but the seams are a little pulled to the front. If I were to make it again, I would baste the pleats in place early on in the process. I felt very silly indeed, forgetting about such a major design feature.

My friend Jennie wanted me to teach her how to sew (knowing I am not a seamstress, of course), and we made the skirt together in a navy blue twill. She has never made a garment before -- in fact, she had only made a pillowcase during the sewing essentials class at the Workroom. We cut the pieces together, but she did all the sewing and most of the hand-stitching; I sewed in the buttonholes, because my machine's buttonholer is fussy and unfriendly. We had a small serger mishap (whoops), but it went well otherwise and she finished the skirt in one Magic Oven pizza-fueled evening. I am very proud of her. I was amazed at how much her confidence grew in a matter of hours!


jack & marjorie

Last night Geoff & I went to the One of a Kind Christmas show, and he picked up an early Christmas/birthday gift for me, the Madeline bag by Jack & Marjorie (above).  All their bags are made from military surplus materials, but are so feminine and beautiful.  I adore the bell shape of the Madeline.  The one I got is slightly different because she no longer makes them with the tea-dyed cotton ruffle; all the ruffles are made of the green tent canvas.
I have so many purses but I wanted a new one anyhow (it never ends) -- I specifically wanted one made from repurposed / vintage materials, because at this point, it's not too hard to find such a thing.

Now the question is if I can start using the bag now, or if I have to wait another month...


sarah seven

I love love love this shop out of Portland. I'm always so thrilled to find clothing at this level of creativity and quality on Etsy (cf. kcoline, hollystalder, makool, etc.).

Yes Love Babydoll coat, $310

Blackberry Jam shirt, $78; high waist bow skirt, $115

Tea top, $125; Crumpets skirt, $115


thank you x2

I wanted to thank all of you once again for your lovely comments & for your support. Once we started pulling things together for our Etsy shop, we realized how much work it can be (I've long since blocked out my memories of selling vintage knick-knacks on Etsy). I spent the last few weeks in a state of awe at women who design & assemble entire garments, or who take time picking out the most beautiful materials to print on, or who knit divine accoutrements for the rest of us. We all have busy lives; something as simple as going out to buy envelopes and bubble wrap can be a trial and a labour of love. And even if our accomplishments are modest, it's worth it.

I read this elegant statement on Abby's blog earlier today and it made me more determined to continue to buy handmade & local whenever I can:

I know that economically speaking, times are tough right now. That's why I'm trying really hard to get gifts and things I need from these women who work very hard to create beautiful things. I know it is impossible to shop completely from local or hand made sources, but we can all try, right?

oh my

I think I need this, but in dress form. I have no problem with looking like pastry.



Well, some things are up on Etsy. Please let me know what you think, and thank you all so much for the moral support!



Hi guys. I am nearly there. The Etsy shop will be ready in a few days. It's going to seem like so few things once it's up... but I suppose I'll just play it by ear with respect to how often I'll add to it. I think later this week I'm going to make myself a dress!

In the end, it has been a nice little diversion and if it doesn't work out, oh well!

(I know that I am totally obsessed with these little buttons, but I can't help it!)


This girl is the cutest.

(From Face Hunter)

I love her bag, in all its wood handled, carpet baggy glory. It has set me off a-scourin' eBay for something similar, which is so silly! I am not fond of purses that I cannot wear on my shoulder. I don't know about you, but when I have to carry my purses in my hand, I always transfer them to the crook of my arm. I can guarantee that later that same day, I will be moaning about how my arm hurts. I still love the doily bag I made, and I recently acquired this exact bag from eBay (a total impulse! It was $3.99! I bid and instantly regretted it! The bag is cute, though). I do not need any more bags of this sort.

The girl below (also from Face Hunter, also from summertime Australia) has inspired me to hunt down some mustard-coloured fabric. The little bow is the sweetest. I wish I could see what book she is reading!


practice makes perfect

Even though I live with him, Geoff continues to amaze me with his beautiful drawings. Every day he shows me new ones, and he just keeps getting better and better at it.

I think this is my favourite; I think it was drawn from Face Hunter. It looks so good in person.