Monday, January 31, 2011

Inspirational Threads

Last week, I ventured once again up to Newmarket and had another educational afternoon with Judith Marquis. Over the holidays, a friend gifted me a very darling vintage apron that had been smocked. Not only is there charming history in this piece, but it makes for an easy and fun method of doing the handwork, with not as much construction.

Judith and I enthused over the original piece and noted the magnificent fabric, its perfect seams and its easy construction and then went back to the class at hand...a review of getting used to your pleater. I was also bequeathed the Sally Stanley pleater by my original teacher, so I was intent on learning to use my new machinery. The pleater does in a few minutes what used to take hours....picking up Grace Knott's DOTS! Anyone who has smocked, knows how laborious this initial task is. Nothing happens until the dots are gathered.

I now learn that Judith has a service, wherein you can mail her your fabric and she, for a fee, will pick up your dots!!! As Judith says in her newsletter:
"Keep in mind that I have a pleating service so you don't have to struggle picking up dots. A few people even mail their fabric to me and I return it by post when it is ready. A lady in Manitoba used to do this and it worked out really well. Drop me a note if you wish to utilize the pleating service this way or to book an appointment to come by the house to have it done."
I always seem to learn things too late:) No, actually, I really LOVE my afternoons with Judith and I'm being taught by a Master. I am! I always learn so much more than I bargained for.

This time, Judith shared "Aprons of the mid-20th century: To Serve and Protect" by Judy Florence, pictured above. If you love the idea of vintage aprons this is a wonderful reference. It's available on Amazon.

Judith has just started a new blog Amberlane in addition to her newsletter and website. Have a peek at who showed up to start off the new year! I have added her to my side bar for quick reference. You may wish to contact Judith and be on her newsletter list. She is a fount of information and usually includes a delicious recipe. Did I mention that we also share a love of dessert!

Sign up for Judith's Newsletter at the bottom of the home page, to keep up on fabulous links like:

Canadian Embroiders' Guild of London

The Needlework Pages

Friday, January 28, 2011

Walking on Sunshine

Our daughter Jane just returned from a week in Washington DC. She was trapped in the snow storm for 6 hours and states that while she was waiting it out on a bus, Zoë was perfecting her walking at home in Belgium! Even a week away at this stage makes you realize how rapid the progress is in a baby's life.

Zoë took her first tentative steps over the Christmas holidays and next time we see her, I guess we'll be running after her. You have to know that sunshine in Belgium in the winter months, no, sunshine in Belgium at any time of the year is something to rejoice in.

This video is a compilation over three weeks on the sunny days when everyone feels good, especially when Mummy comes home. Here we go! Toddler on board.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not to be missed

If you live anywhere in or near the GTA, you should not miss the Tim Burton Exhibit at the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) Lightbox. This collection of Burton's work is provided by The Museum of Modern Art, so you can stay in the Big Smoke as opposed to traveling to The Big Apple!

Displayed are the most fascinating drawings and paintings, puppets, costumes and short films. Since the retrospective shows works from the time Burton was in California Institute of the Arts, you can really see how his work has evolved. You'll want to pick up a pencil and start sketching. He makes it look so easy :)

Tim Burton Exhibition

Tim Burton's affinity for Johnny Depp only surpasses my own, which may be why this gallery showing is so alluring to me. The tickets are $27.00 for adults, and are timed every half hour. We went on Saturday at 3:15 and were able to obtain tickets for the 3:30 time slot, but it was packed. It IS open later and the lines were thinner when we emerged. I just wanted to see every detail. It's fascinating.

Of course even his official website has to be quirky - genius that he is
Tim Burton

Now I'm going to order all of the films from and have my own private viewing all over again.

This little video is a stop-motion film...about Vincent Malloy, a little boy who wants to be Vincent Price, narrated by Vincent Price...if you like dark things, this is Tim Burton.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2011 Colour of the Year....Honeysuckle

I was just getting into last year's colour...turquoise 15-5519, and finding that it "goes with everything". I think I'd rather wear this year's colour than decorate with it, but then again some of the images put forth are enticing. Love the descriptives.

"A Color for All Seasons
Courageous. Confident. Vital. A brave new color, for a brave new world. Let the bold spirit of Honeysuckle infuse you, lift you and carry you through the year. It’s a color for every day – with nothing “everyday” about it."

Pantone Fashion and Home has every interest in promoting this colour, but the article is quite uplifting and inspiring.
offers more decorating ideas with honeysuckle.

I once heard an artist speaking about deriving inspiration from the colours that are displayed so deliciously on magazine covers. As an example, the challenge was to take a magazine whose overall appearance really appealed to you, and take the key colours used therein to make a piece of could be a card, a bracelet, a collage...whatever. The point was that the artists who put together cover art are particularly good at producing colour palettes that are cohesive and pleasant. Therein lies the inspiration. I love this method. I'm very formulaic in approach and find that I am observing advertising in a new way now.

I would be remiss in not mentioning that my inspiration for this blog comes from

Note from LJM:
*Use this link at your own risk. It is guaranteed that you will be overwhelmed with inspiration :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pulling at your heart strings

Heard this song as I awoke to my classical music station this morning. The score is so wonderful, and Josh's voice does it again. There are some tunes that just get it all right.

photo credit:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Now THIS is Movement!

I just had a wonderful Skype conversation with a friend who alerted me to this video.
I had been recounting the magical times I spent with Zoë and her seemingly innate sense of music and rhythm. This is why small children should hear lots and lots of classical music!

This child is really a musical celebrity on YouTube. If you watch other clips you can see him playing his little violin. Thank goodness that he acts like a three year old at the end of the piece. I just love him! I'll be getting Zoë a baton right away!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Another Masterpiece

We now have a new t.v. in the basement. It is our "movie" t.v. and sometimes just a cozy place to end up on a snowy evening. I had been alerted to a new Masterpiece Theatre production by a friend, and remembered that I had indeed taped the upcoming series on the set downstairs.

To my delight, on a dark winter night, on came "Downton Abbey". I'm amassing my collection of butler's bells for sure. I think I actually lived in this era, not likely upstairs, but I would have aspired to.

The Masterpiece Theatre website is worth a look. It has such wonderful programming. I think I'll take a bit of knitting down to the theatre space and hibernate until spring.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Keeping up with the times

Once upon a time, I had a collection of bells. Hand held bells. The type one uses to summon "staff", a butler's bell. I'm not quite sure how it all started, but it became quite the performance in our house when the kids were young.

I could ring the bell on a weekend morning and The Professor would steam up the stairs to find out what attention was being summoned. Our kids soon recognized that it generally meant "Service"...of the culinary kind. It went as far as picking up freshly baked croissants from a neighbouring town. Once the tradition had been set, the bell rang and four little feet hit the floor running wildly in order to launch themselves into my bed just in time to place their own "orders". It only lasted until the teenaged years, and occasionally, one sleepyhead or another would bark out from under a pillow that they'd also like the treats, but were unwilling to move just yet.

The Professor never faltered. He always answered the bell and friends, in an effort to keep the hilarity alive, even contributed to my collection. Nowadays, the bells collect dust and The Professor may or may not hear any entreaty, let alone a little china clapper.

I was reminded of my bell-ringing days by my friend Helen who recently broke her ankle. She has now resorted to using her cell phone to call down several flights for assistance. I never thought of this, but you can be sure I'll be giving it a try. Now that I know how to text, my bell will be the Clarabell version.

Keeping up with the times!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Great Satisfaction

The annual Christmas Jigsaw puzzle was finished last night. The Professor's persistence really pays off when my interest wanes around the hard parts!

This is another Pauline Paquin 1000 pieces called "Playtime". It was very tricky, but we do love puttering over the yearly pick. I think this was actually last year's choice, never did have time what with all the travel.

The world around us today is similar to this picture. The kids are sliding noisily down the hill over in the park, and everyone is tuqued (in Canada we wear tuques! - see photo!) and mittened against the sunny chill. I remember playing outdoors as a kid in Ottawa and coming in totally exhausted, snowsuit soaked after a day tobogganing. We also skated at the local rink. The boys played hockey inside the boarded area, while the girls tried to lure admiring glances as they skated their figures around the perimeter track. There was the occasional stealing of a hat and a mad squeeling dash to retrieve, or a crack-the-whip that inevitably sent someone flying into a snowbank.

There is nothing quite like a good jigsaw on a sunny, snowy afternoon to bring back a flood of memories.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sounds like.........

Another good thing about having "techy" kids home over the holidays is how much they can help with the settings on your iPhone.

I now know how to text! I think I knew how on my old phone, but this issue has somehow eluded me with the change to my multi functional purse companion. I hardly ever use the phone as a phone, more of an emergency thing. First and foremost, my iPhone is an iPod...but that is another post.

Now, when a text message comes in, there is a horn that reminds me of Clarabell the clown. If you know who Clarabell is, then you are of a "certain" vintage. Those of you who said "YES, I do remember Clarabell!" will appreciate that we actually all DID look like this in the day :)

Any of those kids in the "Peanut Gallery" could be me or my little brother. We belted it out just like that! I especially smile at the hairdos. They boys with their neat heads and the girls with their page boys and bobs! Buffalo Bob: Say kids, what time is it? Kids: It's Howdy Doody Time!
It's Howdy Doody Time. It's Howdy Doody Time. Bob Smith and Howdy Do Say Howdy Do to you. Let's give a rousing cheer, Cause Howdy Doody's here, It's time to start the show, So kids let's go!
This is the sound that my son set my incoming texts to! It makes me laugh every time! Little did he know that as techy as he is, he was going "vintage"!
My phone is now called Clarabell.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A VERY special day

In another explanation of how time flies, here we are at the ONE YEAR OLD mark! This time last year, the Professor and I were winging our way to Belgium to meet our first grandchild, Zoë Jane Tarabokia. Here she is celebrating her first birthday, a little in advance. Luckily at this age, she has no idea of exactly which day it is, so we can still get away with it. This is also why it would be nice to stop time, just for a moment.

Wearing the dress with Mommy and bear on her silk pouff

When Jane was a year old, she adopted a seal from WWF. Zoë now has a polar bear!

The dress was amazing on her. It took our breath away when Michael and I put it on her for the first time. A real little girl.

Of course if you live in Belgium, you have Belgian lace booties to complete your outfit.

Books are still some of our favourite things. The back of her neck with that slight little curl is also one of my favourite things to kiss.

Clapping hands for each accomplishment is what we do. Now all we need are some CUPCAKES!

Boy oh boy, crawling in a dress is a tricky new challenge. I think I'd better learn to walk soon!

The determination on this face says it all. She did take her first steps over the holidays and will be running soon!

Everyone is in North Carolina today celebrating THE DAY. I will join in via Skype this afternoon to see the festivities chez Tarabokia, and have been told to appear with a party hat and a noise maker! My very first virtual birthday party.
What fun!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm addicted

The good thing about having a kid that's a computer game designer is that he knows lots and lots of good games, especially if the same kid happens to have an iPhone.

I learned so much about my phone just having this kid at home for Christmas.

Only one bad thing about it....more apps, and in particular...ANGRY BIRDS!!! I can't stop! I'm a sucker for shooting games...shooting ducks in "Duck Hunter" is also a good one.

I can so see how kids get hooked on these games. Perhaps it's not proper decorum for a grandmother to be blasting birds at mean pigs, but their little expressions of defeat and head knocking totally amuse me. Not so much the Professor who always wants the sound turned down. NO...that's part of the fun!!!

Warning! This app may be dangerous to your health. It has been known to keep people up half the night :) Those pesky pigs in helmets!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Holiday season continues

One of the things we like to do around New Year's, is to catch up on all the movies we've missed. For some odd reason, it would appear, that due to my membership, I'm now relegated to searching on Roger's on Demand. We went through them all and I guess saved one of the very best for last. If you have not seen Nanny McPhee Returns, because you thought it would be too kiddy....just get it. Of course parts of it appeal to slap-stick, but the message is great.

It is so totally Emma Thompson and the Maggies....Gyllenhaal and Smith are sensational, and make the adult part of the movie worthwhile. This is a very clever film and you will not be disappointed at this truly entertaining venture. Slowing time down....

Nanny McPhee has 5 medals. They are an inspiration for the New Year's resolution.

1. Courage
2. Kindness
3. Resolve
4. Enthusiasm
5. Leap of Faith

Zoë will love this some day soon.