Gift Wrapping Ideas (Swipe to see choices and then tap)

    A Beautiful Brunch with Fine Friends

    brunch charcuterie board

    Sure, I was going for a bit of alliteration with that title, but, as illustrated by the photo above, I didn't have to reach too far to come up with the B-word "Beautiful" to go along with the word Brunch when describing the lovely time Nick and I had on Saturday morning, at the home of Julie and Guy and their sweet sweet children Lila and James.

    It was one of those cold drizzly days outside, but as soon as we stepped through the door, greeted by the sight of these much-loved people and the aroma of bacon cooking and coffee brewing, things warmed right up. The welcome was further enhanced when we were nearly bowled over by two-almost-three year old James, when he ran down the hall to say hello and give us a hug. Swoon.

    Six year old Lila helpfully set the table. It was interesting watching her proficiently figure out the fact that mom had given her one extra plate than was needed.

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    Dinner in a Building With a History and a Personal Mystery Solved

    la carnita restaurant in the historic richard west house john street toronto at night

    My friend Andrea let me choose the restaurant for a dinner out last week and it took me no time at all to pick La Carnita located on John Street, between Adelaide and King Streets West. She'd been there before, so it didn't take any convincing for her to agree on the place.

    While I was eager to try their delicious sounding tacos, I must admit that I was particularly interested in seeing inside the historic building in which the restaurant resides.

    We'll begin with dinner and then talk about the building, which has a unique story to go with it ...

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    Easy Handmade : How to Make a Felted Wool Ball Garland

    very easy craft how to make a garland with felted wool balls

    Ha, I might be well on my way to becoming the queen of garland making here on the internet! What can I say? I'm very attracted to the way a colourful string of things looks, and there's a wall in our home that just looks too bare if a garland isn't hanging there. Of course, I could put some permanent artwork there, but then, where would I hang my garlands?

    This one came about after a quick trip to Michaels for a crochet hook. As I was bent over checking the various sizes, a bag of apparent perfection whispered out to me, asking if I'd noticed the absolutely gorgeous variety of colours it beheld. I responded, "Yes, I see you, and you are very beautiful, but you're in the "needle felting" section, and, while I have a Pinterest board brimming with images of small adorable felted animals, needle felting is something I don't know how to do. And, you're 22 dollars." I left the store with my crochet hook.

    A few days later, I saw that Michaels was offering 55% off one item, and, so, I came to have a bag of gorgeous pure wool felted balls.

    Then, on Wednesday evening, with my essential oil diffuser gently scenting the living room with the aroma of cinnamon and cloves, and with a glass of red wine at my side, I stung them together on a piece of yarn. It was one of the most comforting crafting experiences ever, and easy enough for most anyone to do. Poking that darning needle through those balls was oh so satisfying and the texture was delightful to the touch. I had three garlands finished in 45 minutes, making this a perfect relaxing time-out from a busy day, which yielded something to be enjoyed for years.

    Have I succeeded in encouraging you to give it a go yet?

    Perhaps knowing that right now and extending through until Sunday, Michaels has one of their 55% off one item coupons up with further inspire you. You just need to set up an account to access it and show the coupon to them on your phone when you pay. If you can't make it over this weekend though, they always have a coupon up, usually for 40% off one "non-sale" item, but often for 50% off and sometimes for 55% off. (I'm in no way sponsored by Michaels to tell you this. I just go there all the time for various crafting supplies and have gotten to know how they work.)

    If you live in downtown Toronto, there's a store at Richmond and John. These balls are found on the second floor at the end of the row, near the yarn and just past the jewellery making things. As far as I know they only come in this colour-way. The pure wool felted balls come from Kathmandu, Nepal and each bag contains 115 pieces, in two sizes. As mentioned, I've never tried "needle felting" but these are called "embellishments" for that craft. I think you're supposed to use a special needle and connect and shape them together to make figures.

    (If you'd prefer, Michaels also carries large bags of synthetic balls in the children's crafting section, which would also make cute garlands. The ones I saw were regularly priced at $10 and you get loads of pompoms.)

    I used all but the black ones to make three garlands, which are each 6 1/2 feet long, plus extra yarn at the ends to tie them.

    The balls can move along the yarn, but stay nicely in place once you're happy with the spacing. I chose to leave gaps between the balls however they could be stung together closely as well.

    And now for the easiest DIY tutorial ever ...

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    Thrift Store Finds

    thrift store finds in toronto

    Hello! I thought you'd like to see the secondhand things I've found at the Thrift Store.

    I won't say "recently" as I've gotten behind on my thrifting posts. So, this is a bit of a catch-up, as these were things that I got a while ago, which you might have already seen being displayed around our home. Although I have lagged on these types of posts, I've kept a list of all that I've gotten, so everything will make it to one of these types of posts.

    I like to show you what I've found in this way because (a) by highlighting examples of nice items that can be had at thrift stores I hope it encourages you to consider shopping secondhand for certain things, and (b) it helps me to edit my purchases. Since I publicly declare everything I thrift, it ought to be something nice to look at and/or be something useful!

    No question, thrifting requires digging through a lot of junk (beware the items which still bear their Dollar Store price tags, going for more than they originally cost) to find the good stuff, but it need not take a lot of time. I only go once every six weeks or so, when Nick drives me to Value Village on his way to do the "staples" grocery shop at No Frills. Then, he picks me up again on his way home. So, I have a strict time limit of about an hour, forcing me to zero in on the goods and not dawdle. That's why most of my purchases are usually housewares, as I simply don't have the time to look through the racks and racks of clothes and try things on.

    And, certainly, there are times that I go in and walk out without a single thing, but it's the lure of the potential great finds that keeps me going back!

    Now, on with the treasures! ...

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    A Crocheted Baby Girl Cardigan Sweater

    crocheted baby girl cardigan sweater cotton yarn free pattern picot and lace

    Hello. This one is for the crocheters or crochet admirers out there! It's a pattern for a Cardigan Sweater for a Baby Girl.

    I'll begin by saying, that although I have included the pattern here, I didn't invent it. It was originally posted on the internet 20 years ago, by an impressive early adapter to online publishing named Abigail.

    She said goodbye to her audience and closed her site down in 2009, writing "May 2009 Update! Hello world! :) I obviously have less and less time for crafts as I 'grow up' but this entire 'Crotiques' escapade has showed me what happens when crafts and the tech world merge--! I love it. A little update on me, I graduated with my MBA in December 2008 and currently work for an HR firm."

    Since then, the original pattern was cached (filed away on the internet) in 2009, by an outside party, with a heading stating "This Page is an outdated, mirrored website brought to you by an archive", alongside some shady looking advertisements.

    I like the pattern and think the little sweater is really cute, so I copied it over to my hard-drive years ago, as, being somewhat paranoid about the safety of my computer, I was nervous about visiting an outdated site like that. Also, I was afraid that the pattern could very easily disappear completely.

    That is all to say that Abigail wrote a good pattern back in 1998, which I wish to preserve so crocheters can continue to make this little cardigan. Therefore, I am republishing it.

    In this post, you see the cardigan made by following the original pattern exactly as it was written by Abigail. Since I've made it three times now, needing to rip-back sections and restart each time because some parts are confusing, I am familiar with the potential problems that may arise when following the pattern as originally written. It was written with experienced crocheters in mind, with very brief instructions and without any images to make things more clear. So, I've added more details to the original pattern, a chart of the yoke part, and a series of images.

    However, the original version can still be accessed via this Ravelry page, if you'd prefer to use that.

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