Building up Stock, the Creative Process and Learning

Hello again

I hope your week is going well. We’ve had quite a bit of fog here for the past 2 weeks which has put a bit of a damper on things (pun intended). 

My good intentions of building up stock didn’t materialize last week. I’m still trying to get used to my new schedule and am finding it, er, challenging to get myself motivated after school in the afternoons. Part of me wants to wile away the afternoons doing not-very-much (most of me, actually).



In fact, to avoid doing any work (procrastination), I’ve been scouring the forums on Etsy in an effort to learn more about SEO (search engine optimization) and how to balance my school/work days. It’s been very productive and I’ve learned a huge amount. I’ve joined a couple of Teams on Etsy in order to make myself accountable.




So, armed with enthusiasm and accountable-ness, I bought myself some more fabric markers today and sat down this afternoon and painted two place mats from the Paris Collection. Here’s a photo to refresh your memories

So, I’m feeling pretty smug round about now. At least I’ve made a start towards making some sales at a craft fair or two this summer.

I’ve been playing around on Picmonkey quite a bit also and been brightening up my photos so they stand out more. I switched out most of the photos on Etsy. While I was at it, I made a collage of my favourite things (just for fun) and posted it on Pinterest


I bought a new stencil today with various kinds of French Country borders and things on it. I had a bit of red paint left over from the place mats, so I doodled a little on a scrap piece of material. I believe this is called “the creative process” in artsy-fartsy circles

I see many possibilities with these borders and such. I am really liking the one in the bottom right-hand corner as an idea for a place mat. You can see I wrote “Paris 1889” so I could see what it might look like. Here’s close-up


I’m thinking of perhaps making the corner piece maybe yellow, and the two straight pieces (the horizontal one and the vertical one) another colour – perhaps blue? Or even the little dots in yellow to add more interest to it. I love blue and yellow.

So an idea is taking shape. I’ll paint both tomorrow and see how it looks. This, of course, AFTER I’ve done two more place mats and a napkin or two.

I bought some little silk flowers as a start to my basket idea. My budget didn’t allow me to buy a whole basketful, so I just bought two and will keep buying them every two weeks until I have enough. This is what I have so far


This is what I’m basing my idea on (minus the pool, of course. And the beautiful patio. And the park-like garden).


But in the meantime, I have some pretty bottles (somewhere) that I can put these in to brighten up the house until Spring arrives.

You may recall in a previous post at the beginning of the year, that I was taking the 52-week money challenge. I’m pleased to say that I have been sticking to this and now have the grand sum of $21.00 in my savings account! Even though it’s still a very small amount, I am getting quite a bit of satisfaction at watching this grow every two weeks.

Well, it’s ice-cream time, and Coronation Street and then a nice cup of tea!

Talk to you soon.


Jane



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Getting Organized (still!) and Fantasies

I started school last Monday




and spent the afternoons running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off!

This change in my, er, lifestyle requires a little more planning, I’m thinking. The only things I got done, apart from grocery shopping, was the second pillow case for my son and a wall-hanging for a birthday gift for a friend. All my plans for getting more organized and building up stock for my business went totally out the window!

Determined to get something done this week, on Saturday we changed around our living room which created way more space in there 







although the need for a rug to cover the worn and very ugly carpet is more evident than ever! Our plan is to have two armchairs in the above space. I found a lovely wing-backed chair at a thrift store in beautiful condition – except the colour was a sort-of yellow and white flower pattern, but slip covers should solve that. Unfortunately, my budget didn’t allow me to buy it and just as well. Later on that evening, my friend, who works at another thrift store, said she could get me two for a better price. So I will wait in anticipation for her to call when she gets some in.

Mr. Cottage Heaven brought a wall art picture of a British Flag (no, he’s not British), but we really had nowhere to put it, so I stuck it on the wall in the entry way – I think it turned out quite well as we can see it from the couch in the living room, which is the point, really.



He broke our new rule of not buying anything unless we know exactly where it’s going to go. If we decide there’s no space – we don’t buy it!

And I bought a wire basket trolley thingy to create landing strip in our entry way for things like scarves, gloves, toques, sunglasses, keys and the like.

Our entry way is very small 




so I needed something that would fit into the closet without losing hanging space for our coats. This wire drawer arrangement is perfect! 



The contents of the drawers were originally in small baskets in the cupboard in the dining area making it very hard to find anything unless you emptied out the entire basket, found what you needed and then stuffed everything back into the basket again – or not. Usually not. 

That space will now house my laptop when its not in use so that we can actually eat at the dining-room table without having to clear it of ‘office stuff’ first.

In all, last week wasn’t very productive in my household – apart from the fact that I’m learning all about international trade. So I amused myself by daydreaming about totally impossible and ludicroulsy luxurious home improvements.

Take this champagne buzzer for example.




Or this gold bathtub



I could have the buzzer in here and ring for champagne, but who would deliver it? Hmmm…

Or this marble bathroom? Must be hard to heat, but then, if I could afford a bathroom like this, I could afford my own island somewhere warm!


How about a life-sized chrome horse in your dining room?


Fortunately, such decadence is not my idea of a home. This kitchen is more to my liking




I can see myself spending lots of time in here.


Or this simple chic living room


Head on over to apartmenttherapy.com for more. Love that website.

I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon watching a movie and drinking tea. As usual, this weekend has flown by. 


Yesterday, I spent some time reorganizing my time and made this in the afternoon and then sewed it up today




Very French Country and looks perfect on grandma’s rocking chair in my dining area. I had to paint the lettering freehand as I don’t have a stencil in that font. I got the font from my MicroSoft Word program – it’s called (aptly enough) French Script. I traced a faint outline with carbon paper as a guideline, and then painted it.

I have a some more ideas along these lines, so check back here in a few days.

I hope you all have a great week.

Cheers for now!

Jane

Rain! Rain! Rain!

Hello everyone!

You may remember me bragging about our extended summer and the lack of rain which is usually so typical of Vancouver from about November onwards. Well, it seems I spoke too soon! It’s been raining buckets non-stop for most of this week and my back yard has turned into lake-front property



As opposed to what it looked like a few short months ago




So, of course, I’ve been doing lots of indoor-sy things in an effort to stay dry.

I finished off the bamboo pillowcase I was working on – I love how it’s turned out


My son asked me to make these for him, so I will do another one over the weekend and give them to him next week. 

I like them so much, I am thinking of painting a duvet cover for myself.

As you know, I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth and in it he mentions “what you resist persists.” This means that if you’re in a situation that you don’t like, if you resist it, as we all do, simply by just having emotions that scream “I hate this!”, the the Universe simply gives us more of what we’re focusing on – more not-so-great experiences. But my dilemma is that how can I love a situation that I clearly don’t love at all? I mean, it’s hard not feel the frustration and anger that comes with being in a not-so-great place. So while I was pondering on this dilemma, I decided to forego the vacuming and watch a movie instead. It was called Another Earth and it was right up there in the lemon category (don’t you just hate that?). However, there was one part in this movie where the girl is telling a man a story that gave me the answer to my dilemma, and it goes like this:

“The first man in space was a Russian Cosmonaught. So he goes up in this big spaceship, but the only habitable part of this spaceship was very small. So the Cosmonaught’s in there and he’s got this portal window and he’s looking out of it and he sees the curvature of the Earth for the first time – the first man to ever look at the planet he’s from, and he’s lost in that moment. All of a sudden this strange ticking sounds starts coming out of the dashboard. The Cosmonaught rips out the control panel, takes out his tools trying to find the sound to stop it. But he can’t find it. He can’t stop it. It keeps going – tick, tick, tick. A few hours of this begins to feel like torture. A few days go by with the sound, and he knows that this small sound will break him. He’ll lose his mind. What’s he going to do? He’s up in space. Alone. In a space closet. He’s got 25 days left to go with this sound. So the Cosmonaught decides that the only way to save his sanity is to fall in love with this sound. So he closes his eyes and he goes into his imagination, and then he opens them and he doesn’t hear ticking anymore. He hears music. And the spends the remainder of his time sailing through space in total bliss. And peace.”

And that’s when I finally understood what Eckhart Tolle meant when he said “what you resist persists.” I now believe that every experience is not “good” or “bad”, it just IS. And if we fall in love with every experience that we’re having at this moment, we can find peace.


May you fall in love with your life and experiences this week.



Jane


Fresh, Breezy Table Linen, Bamboo Pillow Cases

Well folks, here’s the finished product of the table cloth I was working on


I LOVE it. We’ll be using this for our “every day” dining 🙂



And then I started working on a pillow case with a bamboo design


I will finish it off today and sew it up.

We’ve been eating more salads lately in an effort to improve Mr. Cottage Heaven’s blood pressure. I used to buy salad dressings from the store, but I found them to be a little pricey and full of all sorts of ingredients I don’t want – like high sodium. I always thought that making my own dressings would be time consuming, but I discovered this is not true! Just 3 or 4 simple ingredients makes 4 different salad dressings that we just LOVE and take less than a minute to make. They are in Jamie Oliver’s recipe book – Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Here are the recipes (or you can buy his book – all the recipes in it are delicious, easy to make and affordable)



French Dressing: Peel and finely chop 1/4 of a clove of garlic (I crush mine). Put the garlic, 1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard, 2 tablespoons of white or red (I use red) wine vinegar, and 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a jam jar with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Put the lid on the jar and shake well.

Yogurt Dressing: Put 1/3 cup of natural yogurt, 2 tablespoons of white or red wine vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into a jam jar with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Put the lid on the jar and shake well. Good with cucumber salad.

Lemon Dressing: This is my favourite. Put 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a jam jar with a pinch of seal salt and black pepper. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon. Put the lid on the jar and shake well.

Balsamic Dressing: Also one of my favourites. Put 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar into a jam jar with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Put the lid on the jar and shake well. Lovely on a tomato salad.

I hope you’ve all had a good week. Tomorrow’s Friday!

Cheers!

Jane


Planning Ahead




Hello everyone!

Well, it’s back to normal – whatever your normal is. We had almost 2 weeks off in this household and I enjoyed it so much, I didn’t want it to end! But endless reading, watching movies and napping in the afternoons is not going to pay the bills.

I have long since given up making New Year’s Resolutions that I don’t stick to, but I need to get back into the habit of saving money again. With my reduced income since I lost my job, there’s been a bit of money juggling for sure. But we seem to be back on track, more or less, and so to get back into the habit of saving money, I’ve decided to take the 52-week money challenge. It’s looks something like this


So, filled with much enthusiasm, as one is at the beginning of challenging things, I reinstated my every-day savings account with my bank. With our finances so uncertain at the moment, I need a savings account that I can withdraw from any time without incurring any penalties and this one serves my needs perfectly. Instead of adding money every week to it, I decided to transfer every other week as that’s how my pay periods go right now. So I am now the proud owner of a $3.00 savings account bank balance :).

Next, I typed up a budget on an Excel spreadsheet to help me stay on track. After transferring my saving, paying the bills, groceries, gas etc. I gave myself $50.00 cash to spend and $20.00 for miscellaneous (for those unexpected trips to the grocery store for things I’ve forgotten on my grocery list). This should see me through July when my course ends and I, once again, become gainfully employed.

So, a new year has begun and new ideas are needed. In order to get my creative juices flowing, I spent Saturday finishing off all the odd jobs in my work room and cleaning up my space. I painted this basket which had been kicking around in my work room for a few months


I have two more to paint. The idea is to do something like this with them in my living room, or maybe the dining area


And then I cleaned up my work table and organized my shelves, getting rid of all the scraps of fabric etc. (I really must paint those horrible blue walls!)

And hung a picture I love next to my repurposed clock



Yesterday, I started working on these napkins


And an idea for a table cloth


And I have an idea for bedding, but that’s for another blog.

Cheers for now.

Jane


A Good Start to the New Year

Hello All,

I hope you all had a good New Year. We managed 2 glasses of lovely Italian red wine that my step-son gave me for Christmas and then actually stayed awake until 11pm, but gave up and went to bed! I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow – such is life in fast lane 🙂

We had a good start to 2014 – I woke up to see this in full bloom yesterday


I just love Narcissus – so pretty and delicate and it added some beauty and colour to our mid-winter drearyness.

The good news is, in my book, that the days are starting to get longer again, holding in them the promise of Spring.

Mr. Cottage Heaven gave me a Kindle for Christmas and after indulging myself in the latest book by John Grisham – Sycamore Row – and reading it almost non-stop for 3 days, I bought Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth. After completing 365 exercises in Mark Nepo’s book The Book of Awakenings last year (which changed my life), I think I’m ready for this.

The first insight I got is that life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.

A few years ago, when I was going through some very, very difficult financial times, this would have been a very hard pill to swallow. But, looking back, it is exactly what I needed. I had become very materialistic, defining my identity by the “stuff” that I had. I lost almost all of it – my car, my fancy stereo and other expensive stuff that I just loved to show off. After about a month, I realized that I didn’t miss any of that stuff and, in fact, I didn’t really need it at all.  This knowledge brought me a feeling of joy and peace to know that “stuff” is not who we are. It’s what’s inside of us that is who we really are. 

Last week I completed a custom order for a table cloth with a snowflake design. This is the first time that I have painted something this big and I’m delighted as to how it turned out. It’s given me incentive to do more of this type of thing.




I’m thinking about Easter stuff already. I just love Easter. I’ll starting working on something this week.

With the leftover ham from Christmas, I decided to attempt a Ham and Pea soup. My grandmother used to make this and it was always delicious. I have attempted to make it myself over the years, but it’s never turned out the same. This time, however, it was so delicious, Mr. Cottage Heaven and I wanted more! 


I made little dumplings also, but you can leave them out if you wish. Here’s the recipe:

Cut 1 1/2 lbs of ham into chunks, discarding any fat and skin. Put the ham chunks into a very large, deep pot that will hold 12 cups of water. Finely chop 1 onion, slice 2 sticks of celery and 2 large carrots and add to the pan. Throw in 2 bay leaves. Cover with 12 cups of water, add a good pinch of pepper and place over a high heat. As soon as it starts boiling, put the lid on, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 1 1/2 hours, skimming any foam or froth from the top every now and then as it cooks.

When the cooking time is up, taste the broth. The ham should have seasoned the soup really nicely, but this is your opportunity to correct it, if not (I didn’t have to add anything). Use tongs to move the meat to a board, then shred and tear into irregular pieces and return them to the broth. I mashed up the vegetables and little, but if you like them a bit more chunky, then don’t do this. Bring it back to the boil, add a couple of handfuls of peas (as much or as little to your liking – I don’t like too many peas), add a teaspoon of dried Rosemary or 2 sprigs of fresh Rosemary and the juice of half a lemon. If you are making dumplings, this is the time to add them. Once boiling again, turn the heat down and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the dumplings have plumped up.

We ate ours with sour dough – delicious! I had a lot left over, so I froze some for a lovely Sunday lunch or supper. Enjoy!


Cheers for now!

Jane