Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So long 2013!

Oh, I have been away for a bit haven't I? So busy with the holidays and we had such fun.  There were a lot of cookies baked and decorated by my little elf.

One of my daughter's wishes for the Holiday was to make a Gingerbread House that she could eat! So, we did. I made the Gingerbread cookie base from scratch and we spent a couple of hours decorating it. So much fun. Later that evening after Daddy had a chance to see our masterpiece, my girl dove right in and took a chunk right out of the roof!

Then, after the big holiday, my girl and the Mr. went off to visit grandparents far away. So, I got very busy on a big surprise room re-do for my girl. I have been working day and night and I can't wait till she sees it! I'll share photos here too if we get some decent light.

Hard to believe we are headed into an entirely new year tomorrow, so much has happened this year, good and crazy! 

I am starting the year off with a bang, for I have been featured in the UK magazine Pretty Patches issue #3.
How exciting is that? 

This new magazine is so lovely! A lot of wonderful tutorials and articles along with gorgeous pictures! Thank you for the wonderful feature Pretty Patches!  Issue 3 is now onsale in the UK, I am trying to find out where we can get it in the states, I'll keep you updated as soon as I find out!

Wishing you all a most Happy and Healthy New Year!!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Comfort and Joy

Happy Holidays to you! May it be cozy and bright however you spend the season!


Friday, December 20, 2013

Tea and a Chat with Lola Nova - Gathered 62

I am very excited to announce that yours truly has been featured in the latest issue of Gathered. In case you are not familiar with Gathered, it is the digital magazine put out by the lovely folks of Mollie Makes.  In issue #62 you'll find a load of crafty goodness and Tea and a Chat with me! Hooray!

The Gathered team has a fantastic deal going on right now:
Gathered by Mollie Makes is available to download to your iPhone and iPad now! Single issues cost just £1.49/$1.99, or get 5 FREE issues when you sign up to a risk-free one-month or one-year subscription.
A great big thank you to Gathered for inviting me to tea!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Woodworking with Sasquatch

Hi all! I'm just popping in to tell you about the exciting news that The Engineer now has his very own blog! Hooray! That's right, I'm as surprised as you! His blog is called Woodworking with Sasquatch (click the link to go see). Please stop by for a visit, and leave a nice comment if you will.

Happy Monday friends!

Friday, December 6, 2013


Having a partner with carpentry skills is a serious perk. In our new house, we have the space for my Mr. to have a shop, it is such a wonder that the both of us finally have our own creative spaces. It is awesome!  

His latest project was built by him and made especially for me. I  am now the proud owner of a gorgeous and very sturdy cutting/work table for my studio. He made it to my exact specifications; it is the perfect height and size for working on all sorts of projects.

So, of course I love it. I love it not just because it was made by my Mr., or because it is exactly what I wanted and needed, but because of what this table was made from. Reclaimed wood, you see.

Not just any old reclaimed wood, but wood reclaimed from our new house. The legs of this table were made from posts that were part of the framing of the walls that we knocked down in my studio. Like bones from our house, strong and sturdy. The trim on the top of the table was milled from the oak fireplace mantle we ummm... dismantled. 

This table has a storied history even though it is "new." And I love that. It makes me happy. Not only was this a frugal project, but who knew we could shop for wood from our own home! Cool.

Every time I work at my new table, I will know this story and think of the Engineer building it by hand. So, as you can see, it's pretty much the greatest work table ever.

P.S. Thank you for my table dear!

Happy weekend!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Small Miracles

Over the weekend a small miracle took place. It all started a few days ago when I was looking at some fetching photos on Instagram. Specifically, by Rachelle of Ted and Agnes, she has set forth a wickedly wonderful challenge called Handmade 365 where you pledge to wear at least one handmade thing each day for a year! Now, I haven't joined the challenge, but I did see a dress she made on Instagram and I thought, Ooh, now that looks good!

Now, I must tell you that I am absolute pants when it comes to making my own clothes, funny right?  While I am a whiz with clothes for Pony Girl and other small folk, I just buck at the idea of sewing for myself. So, recently I've been giving myself a talking to, I've been promising to get over the hump and start making a few things for my wardrobe. Not so much a resolution, I've never been much for making those either, but a pledge to make more for myself in the coming year.

So to get started on the right foot, I thought I'd jump in after seeing Rachelle's handiwork.  I bought the Tessuti Fabrics - Lily Linen Dress Pattern. After taping the pattern pieces together and tracing my size, I decided to go ahead without making any alterations, just a test dress, a muslin that with a huge amount of luck might just turn out wearable, but I wasn't holding my breath.  

Here are my observations of making the dress.

1. Requires fabric wider than 45" I used a piece of 60" wide medium weight checked cotton canvas-like fabric that I picked up at a thrift shop ages ago.

2. Only 3 main pattern pieces to cut, easy peasy! (I did not use the pocket pattern piece)

3. All of the pieces fit together perfectly and the sewing was quick and simple. It took me an hour to make without finishing the hem and pockets. I did try on the dress at each stage and I found that there were no adjustments needed. I made it to length even though I am quite short, so it is a long dress on me. I will adjust length next time.

4. This dress has endless possibilities for customizing. Shorten the sleeves, sleeveless, length variation, etc. etc.

5. It is a loose fitting dress that I think would be flattering to most body types and it is so very comfortable!

6. I have plans to make this in a few different versions. So yes, I would most definitely make this again, and highly recommend the pattern!

I did not follow the pocket pattern or instructions, I started playing with vintage linen napkins instead.

When I finished the dress and stepped back, I was surprisingly pleased. I made something for myself that I will actually wear out in public.  My wardrobe may start filling out with handmade frocks after all, small miracle indeed!

Happy Monday all, may your week bring you at least one small miracle!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Colour Collaborative: November: Faded

I'm joining in with The Colour Collaborative for the first time and feeling quite honored to do so. This month's theme was Faded or Decayed. At first I chose Decayed right off the bat. I had intentions of writing about phases and stages, death and re-birth, renewal and all such heady stuff. However, due to an unfortunate misunderstanding with my photo card, you have been spared shots of crumbling stumps, rotting apples and my compost bin.  

As I wondered what on earth I would do instead, I thought about the theme of Faded, then looked out the window and saw my old blue jeans on the line drying in the crisp November sunlight. Faded indeed!

And from this vantage point, staring out at my old pants, the line "feelin' 'bout as faded as my jeans" from the song Me and Bobby McGee came to mind. Then I hummed more songs to myself, like Faded Love.

It got me to thinking. Faded feels familiar; like music and songs that you have known forever. It makes me think of something well worn and comforting, in a way. Like my old blue jeans.

It takes a mighty long time to develop this sort of symbiotic relationship with a pair of jeans, one that makes them your favorite, makes them soft as cotton flannel, makes them fit as no other jeans have fit, makes them as cherished as jeans could ever be. This particular pair is giving up the ghost, yet I can't bear to toss them out. Surely with a bit more mending, a couple of extra patches, they might last another 6 months!

So for me, along with the blue tint that seems to permeate the light as evening comes on in late November as the day fades, blue is the color of my faded old jeans. Soft, familiar, and loved.

Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, including three from November's guest bloggers, just click on the links below ...

Sandra at Cherry Heart

Annie at Knitsofacto

Nina at Tabiboo

Gillian at Tales from a Happy House

Lori at Lori Times Five

Madelief at Madelief

What is The Colour Collaborative? All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The People that you meet

When you're walking down the street...

Or popping into your local fabric shop.
This morning I had a bit of a panic. I had that feeling like all was going wonky - and not in that charming sort of way that makes you smile a crooked smile. No, it was going wonky in the wrong way, and if I continued on my current path it was likely to spin out of control completely, leaving me spent and frankly, a little bitter. It was quite clear that I needed to step away from the computer and get the heck out of the house!

And so I did,  I just threw on my lucky scarf and off I went.  I headed to my favorite local fabric shop to look for supplies and some inspiration. My timing couldn't have been better, I found both! While there, I ended up having a chance meeting with the fabulous Miss Demeanor, A.K.A. Shawn Gascoyne-Bowman, the author of these amazing craft books:

I love these! I don't want to give away too much, but here's a couple of cool crafts from the books.

Seriously, if I had the body of a lithe 18 year old, and not the body of a middle aged crafter, I would so make this pull tab dress!

So, I've just been able to tick off a few Christmas presents for some smooth criminals and craft beer crafters I know! Both of her books are available HERE if you need to find just the perfect thing for somebody on your list this year.  I also recommend the accompanying blogs.

Just so you know, the author herself, is fab! We had a lovely chat  and she shared some really helpful information with me, and in general made me so glad that I decided to change direction and get out of the house.  It really was just the thing I needed. I think sometimes, especially in this kooky modern world, it is easy to isolate, we forget how valuable human connection is - to talk face to face with our peers, our neighbors, and our community is good for us.

So I guess the moral of this story is: When things go wonky and wrong, step away from the computer, take a a breath, and get out there! Also, there is always room for a voodoo doll pincushion and beer can bunting!

Monday, November 18, 2013

November In the Garden

"Walked for half an hour in the garden.  A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn.  The sky was hung with various shades of gray, and mists hovered about the distant mountains - a melancholy nature.  The leaves were falling on all sides like the last illusions of youth under the tears of irremediable grief.  A brood of chattering birds were chasing each other through the shrubberies, and playing games among the branches, like a knot of hiding schoolboys.  Every landscape is, as it were, a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail."-   Henri Frederic Amiel

The wind has come up, the days are colder and winter is clearly well on it's way. We have had our first fire in the fireplace and the rhythm and scents of baking have begun in earnest. This morning I took a good long look around the garden. There is a riot of color on the ground and amazing textures to be found once the leaves have dropped and revealed what is underneath the canopies. A quiet has settled in the neighborhood while people tuck themselves away inside in cozy warmth. It is a good time to shore up for winter, to take stock and plan for the coming year.  Are you cozy, are you planning for the next season?

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Alright, I'm going to come clean, I'm going to tell you the real story. I don't like to over share, but the truth is I have recently come down with a serious case of blogger's block.  It's pretty bad and honestly, I am a bit lost as to what to do about it. I keep thinking, "O.k., tomorrow, surely tomorrow I have will have something clever, crafty, or witty to say!" And when tomorrow comes... nothing, nadda, zip, zilch!

Perhaps it has something to do with the overwhelming pile of boxes still unpacked, hanging out in my new home. Or maybe it's due to a shocking dearth of shelving, therefore hindering the unpacking of said boxes. Or it could be that every room in the house needs painting and I don't know where to start. Or could it be that with Fall sliding headlong into Winter that I have become more quiet and introspective?

I have been spending time in my studio. Sewing and spiffing for an impending photo shoot and that is exciting, but too premature for me to share. 

I have been mulling, scheming, imagining and thinking over what I want Lola Nova to become, where I want this whole creative business to go in the future. Having deep thoughts and big questions; am I a maker, a crafter, a seamstress, a designer, an artist? Oh good gravy! Artist is a potent word don't you think?

I have been pouring my energies and time into my family, making this new house a home (unpacked boxes and unpainted rooms aside), and trying to find my footing after a roller-coaster year. 

If you are a blogger, maker, artist, family wrangler, do you ever feel blocked? What do you do to move past it? What helps you "unblock"? I'd love to know.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Great Pumpkin

"This is the time of year to write to the Great Pumpkin."

"Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He's gotta pick this one. He's got to. I don't see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there's not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see." -Linus

Quoted from: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hello Monday - Planting for the Future

"A garden is never so good as it will be next year."-- Thomas Cooper

The morning fog has given way to another bright and crisp Fall day, so I am to the garden, spade in hand, to plant a variety of flower bulbs.

Times 208 to be exact. That is a lot of little holes to dig! Oh but think of the pretty Spring we'll have!

"Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it." - Author Unknown

Friday, October 18, 2013

On The Make Again

After a long time away from my machine, piles of fabric, spools of thread and the joy of crafty cogs turning... I am back on the make! Once the engineer installed a proper light in my new work space, it only took the dawn of the next day and I was at it. 

I have had quilting on my mind and so though I was hesitant to give up the wall space in my small studio (there was a thought of useful shelves going there, as storage is much needed), I realized if I was going to get serious - not dreadful serious mind you - about this quilty business, I needed a "design wall." This was easily accomplished with a few meters of thin cotton batting tacked to a wall above my work table. 

I pulled out a few Kona and Moda solids from my stash, without specific plan, and the next thing I knew I was cutting triangles. I placed a few here and there to test out my freshly minted design wall; Lo and Behold it was a pleasing combination! I felt a little bit of that old giddiness and excitement upon the realization of a project coming to life. 

Oh how I love the hum of the machine, the steam of the iron, the snip of scissors and watching the progress come along!

As the afternoon wore on I happily sewed away until I reached a stopping point. I went out into the Fall sunshine and stood back to look at the thing I had made. Just the center piece of a larger project, the beginning of something good, and it made me smile. It is indeed a great and grateful thing to be back on the make, doing what I love!

Today I'll be back at it. I can't predict a completion date for 'tis the season for pumpkin patches, planting flower bulbs (of which there are over 175 waiting for me!) and baking delicious treats; there is much to do!

Wishing you all a happy weekend!

Monday, October 14, 2013

For the Birds

I have never considered myself a birdwatcher/ornithologist of any degree. I mean I love birds, I plant plants in my garden that birds like, along with bees and butterflies, because it's wonderful to invite these creatures into your life. However, when we moved into the new place, I started looking at the birds a little more closely; which wasn't hard considering the crazy amount of bird activity we have going on around here. Seriously, I am considering making a call to the Audubon Society to tell them about the bird action in our backyard!

I sit outside on the patio in the late afternoon and find myself entertained for well on an hour just watching (and listening) to the birds come and go. It is really fascinating to see them interact. As I watch them I can identify the easy ones, but I thought I should pick up a field guide so that I could know my new neighbors a little better.  I find myself getting all excited if I notice a new bird that i haven't seen before. "Oh hello!" I say, "Now who might you be?" then I grab my handy dandy field guide and try to find the picture that most resembles my new feathered friend. Once done I read up on the little miss or mister to see what else I can learn. I do believe I am learning quite a lot these days!

So far I have identified the following: (All photos from free source on the web and I have linked them to Wikipedia in case you would like to learn more.)

So, those were the easy ones for me. There is also a large flock of pigeons that visit the house next door, but they seem to steer clear of our yard, which is ok with me really since they seem to scare off the other birds.

These next birds required gathering a bit more evidence and information to be sure. 

And my new favorite

There are more birds about, but I want to make sure that I am not mis-identifying them. It feels as though we have our own back yard bird sanctuary. I am looking forward to see what fine feathered friends come by this Spring!

So fancy that, I have become a bird watcher indeed!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Announcing the US Release of Simple Sewing with Lola Nova

Hello and happy Friday!
I am very excited to (finally) announce the US release of my book Simple Sewing with Lola Nova by Alexandra Smith!

This has been a long time coming so I am very happy to see it available in my home country!
You can find my book on Amazon.com HERE

I am still awaiting more information from my publisher and a few copies. I will keep you posted as to where else you can find the book, any special events that might be coming up, and a giveaway on my blog soon! Watch this space!

A huge thank you to all of my wonderful readers and friends!

Have a lovely weekend all.