Archive for December, 2008

Oh what fun!

We are having a lovely day! The girls were so excited to see that Santa had been. They slept until 7.30, s0 it was quite a civilized morning! We gathered in the lounge to watch them open their stockings. Milly loved the baby doll, but then discarded her in favour of the box of After Eights sitting on the table! They both had colouring and activity books, a little bit of chocolate, underwear, toiletries (nail polish for Pip and bubble bath for Milly) and a set of paint brushes.

They had a quick bowl of cereal while I prepped the veggies and got the chickens in the oven, then we came back up to open presents. They are such good girls. There were no tears or complaints or criticisms and it has been a great day, relaxing together and enjoying the holiday. We don’t have piles of wrapping paper to throw away, which is nice! They didn’t think it was odd to have presents wrapped in pillowcases and in fabric bags. They received a couple of beautiful dresses each, books, a few toys and some handmade things. The girls gave us a beautiful framed photograph taken a couple of weeks ago. We are going to make it a tradition to have a family picture each Christmas and display them all in a card holder. I hope I remember that next year!

Dinner was delicious. We haven’t had dessert yet, as we were too full from roast chicken and all the trimmings.

Time to get back to the movie. Merry Christmas, again!

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Merry Christmas one and all! I hope you have a wonderful day. We are all set now and just have to wait a few short hours until the girls wake up and realize what day it is! Should be a lot of fun.

The general plan for the day will be to open the stockings, have breakfast, prepare the veggies for Christmas dinner, then go back upstairs to open presents. There are only 5 of us here this year, so it will be a bit quieter than in the past, but I think the girls will make up the difference in noise level! They are 4 1/2 and nearly 2, so really fantastic ages for experiencing the magic of Christmas.

Dinner this year, as every year that I have been in charge (!), will be roast chicken, roast potatoes and parsnips, carrots, sprouts, bacon wrapped sausages, rosemary scented gravy, sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire Puddings and homemade cranberry sauce. The sage, rosemary etc come from our herb garden, but it is currently under nearly 3 feet of snow, far across the garden, so I am not sure we will be using it this year! For dessert we will be having a Ballard family favourite, banoffee pie. This is utterly divine: a digestive biscuit base, topped with a layer of smooth caramel, then a layer of sliced banana and finished with a layer of espresso cream. It might not sound that great if, like me, you don’t like bananas or coffee, but trust me, it is completely fabulous!

I have also made mince pies and cherry pies, so we will not be going hungry!

I have been “lucky” that I haven’t had to wrap much, partly because we didn’t overdo it, but also because I made fabric gift bags last year and am using them again this year. If you have never tried this approach to gift-wrapping, I heartily recommend it. Not only is it good for the environment, as you don’t end up with piles of rubbish that can’t be recycled due to the high ink content, it saves so much time and money. Any Christmas fabric I see in the sales will be turned into a batch of bags for next year. I even used pillowcases for larger items this year and tied them with a big ribbon bow.

I will have to post pics of my new apron later, as I really must get to bed.

Happy feasting and Merry Christmas!

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Tracking Santa

Just a very quick post to let you know that you can track Santa’s progress at the following link:


A lot of fun for the little ones!

Will be back later with my Christmas Day menu and hopefully a picture of the apron I am working on for myself.

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Christmas cake update

Just wanted to let you know that the Christmas cake was FANTASTIC! To cut a long story short, I didn’t decorate the cake, but I did buy a tub of gloriously soft and tasty marzipan to go with a nice thick slice of cake and a cup of tea. You can definitely taste the alcohol, but it is not overpowering, it just adds to the overall deliciousness.

Christmas cake, marzipan and a cup of tea

Christmas cake, marzipan and a cup of tea

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Greetings from snowy Nanaimo! It has been snowing on and off for a week and we have another weather warning for tonight. Another 10-20cm of snow, more on Tuesday and Wednesday. Should be a white Christmas at last!

I went downstairs to make our morning cup of tea today and found that the pipe bringing water into the house had frozen, so no tea!! Just not right. It did get hubby out of bed pretty quickly though! He managed to sort things out and hopefully that will be the end of it and we won’t have any cracked pipes. It was -19C last night, so hardly surprising that there is a bit of a nip in the air.

snow rest for the wicked

Christmas lights 1

Christmas lights 2

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Please read and act! Help spread the word.

This refers to legislation in the US, but it will have a huge impact here in Canada too. I presume if you are reading this blog at all you will have some interest in handmade goods, which is where my primary interest lays, but this will affect all manner of items made for children, not just handmade items. We will no longer have the same choice in what we buy for our children. Please read on to find out more and please, spread the word.

As of February 10, Olabelhe and thousands of others in the children’s industry will be deeply affected financially and / or will be out of business.

Remember the outcry last holiday season over lead in imported toys? In order to combat such safety issues, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has passed legislation called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The law sets stringent guidelines for children’s products containing lead and phthalates (a chemical used in some vinyl products).

It is supposed to go into effect February 10th, 2009, and after that date any product intended for children ages 12 and under must meet these guidelines, and have a certificate of compliance from a CPSC-accredited laboratory. This includes not just toys, but clothing, jewelry, blankets, sheets, books, bibs, strollers, carriers, and anything else that a child under 12 might come in contact with. Sounds great, right?

In theory, maybe. But in actuality the law is so far reaching that it may succeed in turning the economy upside down. For starters, the CPSIA requires end unit testing on every product intended for use by children under 12. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to do this testing, regardless of how small the business. That means that manufacturers (like myself ) will have to pay to get every different product they offer tested. These tests have to be done at a CSPC accredited lab, and cost tens of thousands of dollars. For example if you offer 3 different types of dresses. Each dress contains 2 different fabrics, as well as buttons, and thread, so that’s potentially $600 to test one dress. But if you have 3 or more styles, that’s $1800. And when you get a new bolt of fabric, you need to start all over again.

At present, there are no exemptions for small businesses and “micro” manufacturers and most handcraft artisans. There is no exception for quantities made, where the garments/products are made or anything else. Nor is there an exception for unadorned fabric components, unfinished wood components, materials which, by their nature, are free of lead and phthalates.

Also, the Act takes a “guilty until proven innocent” approach, which would treat a handmade, unfinished wooden toy that doesn’t meet the certification deadline of 2/10/09 as a “banned hazardous substance” which would be illegal to distribute in this country. Each infraction carries a $100,000 felony charge. This legislation is also retroactive for any pre-existing inventory as of February 10th, 2009. This means that everything on the shelves in those big (or small) stores will also be “banned, hazardous substances” – contraband.

Larger corporations that can afford testing will incur thousands, maybe millions of dollars in fees, and this expense will be handed down to the consumer, probably making the prices for children’s products go through the roof.

This also means that after that date, even selling your kids old things on eBay or Craigslist will be illegal. Charities will not be able to accept donations without a certificate of compliance either. February 10, 2009 is being dubbed “National Bankruptcy Day” by many people in the apparel and toy industry. If this legislation is not amended, it will affect everyone from port workers to parents looking for legal products. Billions of dollars worth of children’s products will have to be destroyed because they can’t be legally sold, and this will cause major environmental problems.

While I am all for higher safety standards and keeping our kids safe, this law is so overreaching as to put thousands on manufacturers of children’s products out of business -hurting our economy and causing even more loan defaults. Though this legislation was well-intentioned, it cannot be allowed to stand as is.Please help us defend the American dream and our entrepreneurial spirit! This law affects every stay at home mom trying to help put food on the table and every grandmother knitting blankets for the local craft fair. It makes the thousands of us who have found a niche in the burgeoning children’s market have to make a tough decision – continue to produce items illegally and possible incur a $100,000 fine, pay the enormous fees and raise costs of goods sold, or close up shop!

Please help us!Contact your Congressperson using this link: http://capwiz.com/americanapparel/issues/alert/?alertid=12274476

It only takes 30 seconds!If you have an extra minute send a hard copy of the letter as well!To sign the online petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/economicimpactsofCPSIA/index.html

Read more about it here: http://nationalbankruptcyday.com/

Please copy and paste this on your blogs, we need all the help we can get!

I copied this article from Olabelhe, who copied it from Knuckleheads Clothing.

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Apologies in advance for what will no doubt seem like boasting! I am so very pleased with myself for tackling this project when I knew it would be a challenge. We are attending a winter solstice party and I wanted to have something special to wear. We don’t go to any parties normally, so I really don’t have much to wear (honest!). This is a modified McCall’s M4491 – hopefully not modified beyond recognition! It is the first time I have used a pattern to make something for myself. My dressform, affectionately know around here as “Maggie”, was very helpful indeed, as I needed to take the dress in. I changed the sleeves and added a button and ribbon loop at the back so I could hook the skirt up, rather than have it trailing around under people’s feet. I left out the lining and made the back plain. Some parts of the pattern were just too fiddly for me to deal with right now. This was made a little more challenging by having my 4 year old take the scissors to a random piece of fabric laying on the table. Not so random, as it turned out to be a sleeve! Lesson of the day: keep the scissors well out of reach.

I will try to post a picture of me wearing the dress, if I can get said 4 year old to cooperate! I found the perfect belt to wear with it, but have yet to decide on shoes. I have my beautiful gold wedding shoes, so will try those and see how they work.

My grandmother, who is now 94 and lives in Scotland, was a hugely talented seamstress and I am inspired by her. Every item I ever saw of hers was always finished with great attention to detail, down to the under garments on doll clothes. Whenever I make something, I have her in mind and I hope she would be proud of me.

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