Garden Update: April 2015

Words cannot express how excited I am to be heading back in to the garden for a new season! I’ve got all sorts of plants growing inside of the house (peppers, a few brassicas, marigolds, and I will be starting my tomatoes this weekend!) and I find myself sneaking glances at the back yard whenever I can, imagining it bursting with life and color in just a few short months.

Carrots & Raspberries Garden April 2015

It really doesn’t look like much now, but things are actually starting to grow! I noticed about a week ago that there were some green chives popping up, which led me to do a bit more exploring, and this is when I discovered that the rhubarb was also making an appearance! In addition, buds are on my lilac bushes! This is exciting of course because it means spring is here, but mostly because it is still so early! I have never experienced such a mild winter and early spring in this climate. I know that we will probably see a few more snow falls yet (some small ones in the forecast for today and this weekend) but I can totally deal with that – we are in the home stretch now!

Chives making an appearance!

I’m usually not doing much in the garden this time of year because it is normally still covered in snow and/or ice. But since we somehow won the lottery this year and it currently has no snow or ice, I decided to do the first round of garbage clean up last week. I’m not talking dead plants or leaves or whatever – I’m talking actual garbage. Candy wrappers, latex gloves, cigarette butts (so, so many), underwear (yes, I found a pair of underwear), among other things. I filled a kitchen sized garbage bag from the front yard alone. There were only a few pieces of garbage in the back yard and I haven’t even tackled the alley yet, but I imagine it will fill another bag. Even though I was just picking up trash, it felt good to get outside in the yard. I’ll do a bit more this next week if the weather wants me to – more garbage pick-up, cleaning out what I left behind in one of the raised beds, raking the tiny bit of front lawn. And if I get really ambitious, I’ll head to the garden centre and buy some bags of manure to add to my raised beds.


Rhubarb poking its head out!

Are you doing anything in the garden yet?

What I’m Making: Wee Weaving

Recently I decided that I wanted to take a weaving course at my local yarn shop. This is a bit of an unusual thing for me to do because I am a bit of a recluse. But when I saw the course, I immediately signed up so I wouldn’t have a chance to think about it and back out (I guess I know myself pretty well). I am a pretty introverted and awkward person. There is nothing wrong with this and I kind of like it this way, but I have been attempting to push myself out of the box a little and try new things. This class was perfect for this – it was something I was excited about and something that didn’t seem too difficult to make (and something that wasn’t a huge time commitment).

The best thing? All of the supplies were provided and you just showed up.

The course was for two hours on two Saturday afternoons. The first class was an introduction to the basics and getting our weavings started – the instructor went over the technical terms which I didn’t understand completely until I re-read them a hundred times (that’s just me, it was nothing to do with the instructor, it takes awhile for things like terminology to sink in to this brain), then showed us the basics of weaving, and encouraged us to do whatever we wanted. There was no pattern, which is a good thing in my mind, so we were forced to be creative with our designs (each weaving was truly one-of-a-kind). Then we were sent on our way to keep working on our weavings throughout the week until the next weekend when we would finish them (tucking in the loose ends, mounting them on a little stick, admiring each other’s creations).

Wool Wall Weaving

I knew about 5 minutes in to weaving that I loved it. I like the idea of jumping in to a project without any plan whatsoever. And I mostly like how relaxing it was. I’m pretty sure that the walls in my home will soon be full of woven wall hangings.

Wool Wall Weaving

I took this up as a hobby – I don’t really have any intention of selling them, which I think is a good thing. I find that I can get frustrated with sewing sometimes because I want to make things for myself, but I need to prioritize sewing for my Etsy shop. So I think weaving is going to be just for me. Plus, I love a hobby that I can do sitting in front of the tube watching some British drama. I’ve already purchased my own loom and I’ve come up with a million ideas for my next pieces!

If you live in the Calgary area, Stash Lounge is the place to go! It is my favorite local yarn shop and based on my one experience, I would highly recommend taking a class there (I’m planning to sign up for a yarn dying class as soon as it comes up!).

March Wardrobe Architect Challenge

I can’t believe it’s time for another Wardrobe Architect Challenge post! Mind you, my February project was a wee bit late, but it does seem like yesterday that I shared it! If you go back to my original Wardrobe Architect Challenge post in January, you’ll see that in March I was planning to construct an accessory. But if you recall back to February, you’ll see that I had to make some adjustments to my original plan. In February (or I should really say early March) I focused on making a tote bag and now later in March, I took on the challenge of the Violet Blouse. My original plans changed but that’s okay, I allowed myself some flexibility in the challenge and I’m glad I saved the blouse for a month where I had a bit more time. I’m very excited to share how everything turned out this month!


The Violet is a pattern by Colette that I picked up a couple of months ago when I first decided I was going to participate in the Wardrobe Architect Challenge. I choose the pattern for the pretty peter pan collar but also because it looked like a piece that I would actually wear. In addition to that, when I took inventory of my current wardrobe, the major gap was tops, so it seemed like a good plan to tackle the Violet.

This time I went with a lightweight cotton voile fabric. I took a bit of a gamble when I ordered this because I’d never touched a voile before and wasn’t sure how I would like it. I knew it was an apparel specific fabric (one of the mistakes I’d make with my first blouse was using a quilting weight cotton), and I knew it was supposed to have a nice drape to it, making it shape easily. I couldn’t have been happier when my fabric arrived because it was so soft and lovely and I knew it was going to be perfect for my blouse (it actually feels exactly like those Liberty of London lawn fabrics I love so much). About 5 minutes in to sewing with the fabric, I was very pleased with how easy it was to work with. I didn’t take a gamble at all on the fabric print because I had previously used this print in quilting weight for making aprons and I knew I loved it.

Colette Violet Blouse

Anyway, on to the project. I was a bit nervous about measurements for this pattern because I thought I was between two sizes (read more on that later), so I decided to go with the larger size and make adjustments later if needed. I made sure to wash my fabric before I started cutting just in case any shrinkage were to occur after the first wash  – the last thing I wanted was to spend all that time on making something that would shrink after being washed.

This was definitely a whole day project (although I spread it out over a couple of evenings and then about 1/2 day on the weekend). The pattern was fairly simple but just time consuming. I had to look a few things up which made the whole process a little longer than it needed to be (like how to use the automatic button hole function on my sewing machine – I’ve avoided it until now but it was painless once I figured it out). This was my first time using a Colette pattern and I would highly recommend them to others – they are well put together and easy to follow. Altogether, the blouse wasn’t an overly complicated project I think it is a good project for the beginner apparel sewer (like me! I have lots of experience sewing, but just not apparel).

Colette Violet Blouse
Isn’t that collar adorable?!

I’ll touch on cost again as well as I think it is important to know this when going in to a project (although I’m pretty guilty of not looking at a project cost until after I’ve completed it). The voile fabric was a bit more expensive than the fabric I normally buy but I think it was worth it – it was $13.50USD/yard, plus shipping costs (about $2.00USD/yard), so translated in to Canadian prices, it was about $39 for the fabric, including shipping. Plus the cost of fusible interfacing, thread, and buttons came to about $10. So not a cheap project by any means – altogether costing about $49. Oh and lets not forget the cost of the pattern, which was another $20 (it can be used multiple times so this cost will spread out over time).

I’m fairly pleased with the end result of my Violet but the only thing I would change for next time is actually making the smaller size. I went with the larger size because I wasn’t confident on sizing but when all was said and done, I should have gone with the smaller size. The blouse does fit and I can wear it for sure, but it is slightly loose. This style does work best on me tucked in to a skirt with a cardigan over top (I just don’t really look good in loose button-ups over jeans, I wish that style would work for me). But as I said, I am pleased with how this blouse turned out and I would use the pattern again.

Colette Violet Blouse

So what’s next in the challenge? Luckily the next challenge combines the months of April and May, so I have a bit more time to complete the dress project. I have two dress patterns to choose from and I’d love to hear your feedback on whether I should sew the Dahlia or the Crepe – and also your suggestions for fabric. Leave your feedback in the comments!

If you’d like to follow along with the Coletterie Wardrobe Architect Challenge, check out their blog (it’s also a great resource for any level of sewer).

Fabric is Budquette voile in Nightfall by Bari J. Ackerman from Hawthorne Threads.

What I’m Reading: Epic Tomatoes

I have a bit of an obsession with gardening books (along with cookbooks, sewing books, craft books, etc) and I’ve basically been keeping myself on a fairly short leash when it comes to purchasing new books because I don’t want things to get too out of control. But of course when I saw Epic Tomatoes available, I wasn’t able to resist. I had to buy it.

This year I am growing a record number of tomatoes in my garden (not like a world record, but a personal record). I think I am at about 30 varieties. I have a small yard and that amount of tomatoes is insane – we’re not talking 30 plants though, that amount will actually be higher because I’m growing multiples of some varieties. Let’s guess 45 tomato plants. I have self-control issues when it comes to growing tomatoes. I want to grow all of the tomatoes.


Anyway, my love for tomato growing was definitely the deciding factor in purchasing Epic Tomatoes. The author, Craig LeHoullier is a tomato adviser for Seed Savers Exchange, which is one of my go-to companies for purchasing seeds for growing in my own garden. He has been growing tomatoes for many years and his love and knowledge of tomatoes definitely comes through on every page of this book. I didn’t think it was possible for me to get any more excited about growing tomatoes, but somehow it happened when I was reading through this book. I can’t wait.

First of all, the book itself is lovely. The photography is eye appealing, the layout is user friendly, I love the old illustrations featured – it is clear that a lot of effort went in to making this book beautiful.


I think my favorite part of the book is that it is most appealing to a younger, modern gardener – but at the same time providing tons of information that even a seasoned tomato grower would find useful. I don’t consider myself an expert tomato grower by any means, but I am a tomato growing enthusiastic with a few years of tomato growing experience under my belt and I learned a ton from this book. I find that a lot of books on tomatoes, or even gardening in general, are not really that exciting to look at (some exceptions of course) – mostly standard text with a few mediocre photos thrown in. What can I say? I am the kind of person that judges a book based on appearances, I like lots of photos and pretty typography!


I thought I would touch on a few other things I really enjoyed about the book:
– The book focuses on heirloom, non-hybrid tomatoes, which is something that I am passionate about. Up until a few years ago, I believed I was limited to the tomato varieties available either as seeds or small plants from the garden centre and I didn’t even know this whole other world of tomatoes existed. Over the past few years, I’ve been purchasing a few tomato seeds here and there from smaller companies specializing in rare and heirloom varieties, but this past winter I spent lots of time doing tons of research further in to heirloom tomato varieties, so reading about so many more in this book was both good timing and very interesting. I also love love love reading about the history of certain varieties which was something that was discussed a bit in this book.
– There is a list of 250 recommended varieties in this book. 250! And what I love the most is that he includes a ton of dwarf varieties I haven’t even heard of (I’m obsessed with the dwarfs right now as they are ideal for my smaller gardening space). I’ve already started a list of seeds to try and find for 2016 (Apparently I need more space just for tomatoes…maybe it’s time I bought that farm…)
– The book includes a list of recommended seed suppliers. Thank you! I’ve heard of most of the suppliers on this list through my research this last winter (and even ordered seeds from a few of them), but this is such a valuable resource for a newer gardener who wants to venture outside of the small selection available at garden centres.
– Recipes!! There are a few of these in the book and everyone knows how much I love cooking.
– Seed saving techniques. I actually just started my own tomato seed saving last year but really have no idea what I’m doing so this piece will be a good reference for me this next year. I never thought much about seed saving up until I started growing some of the rare varieties and now I understand the importance.
– He talks about breeding your own tomatoes and creating your very own tomato! I think this might be something I really want to try and I didn’t actually realize how easy it could be. Blue dwarf variety?! I think so. What would I name it?!!

I think it is obvious by my words that I am totally over the moon in love with this book. And I really can’t believe how excited I am for growing tomatoes this year. Just a couple of weeks and I’ll be starting my own little babies inside! If you are a tomato grower, I would highly recommend this book, you will not be disappointed.

Note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publisher or this book, nor am I compensated for my words above. All thoughts, recommendations, and opinions are my own.

Epic Tomatoes purchased on

My Favorite Natural Beauty Products

The last few months have been spent purely indoors. Although the winter has been unseasonably mild here, my skin has been horrible. The air is dry and my skin wants to suck up any sort of moisture it can find. Normally I can get through the warmer months using much less moisturizer, but the colder months bring out my seasonal lizard skin to the maximum. Anyway, I thought I would share some of my favorite natural beauty products with you today:


1. Pacifica BB cream $22.00 – – I went through most of my 20’s not wearing much makeup until a couple of years ago because I found most products to either be too cakey or just greasy, causing me to breakout pretty badly. The BB cream is a light weight tinted moisturizer-type product that I use after I’ve used a regular daily moisturizer. My skin is weird in that it is dry and acne-prone so I have a lot of difficulty finding a coverup that doesn’t make my face look like cracked flaky concrete, but this one seems to do the trick for me.

2. Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner $13.29 – – I’ll be really honest and say that I bought this for the packaging but I actually really love it. I had a facial once (yes, once) and at that time was told one of the best things I can do for my face is to not dry it after I’ve come out of the shower – let your pores absorb the moisture. This was the best beauty advice I’ve ever been given but I’ve altered it slightly by adding a splash of toner to my face right before the water is completely dry, then use a light moisturizer. Sometimes in the winter I will use a bit of coconut oil before my moisturizer to prevent my skin from cracking or flaking.

3. Smith’s Rosebud Salve $9.00 – Indigo/Chapters – This is my go-to lip balm and you can also use it on cracked hands and cuticles – it smells great too.

4. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap in Rose $14.99 – – I dump a bit of this into my bath with some epsom salts to moisturize my skin. In the winter I usually follow with some coconut oil to prevent dry skin.

5. Ilia Lipstick $32.00 – – Sometimes I like wearing a little lipstick when I’m feeling bold, especially a pretty red like this one.

6. Yarrow Scrub $5.25 – Rocky Mountain Soap Co – Made locally and a great soap for dirty hands (I particularly love it for washing up after gardening).

7. Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser $36.00 – One Love Organics – A bit pricey but well worth the splurge. I love all of One Love Organics products but especially this cleanser.

8. Bamboo Charcoal Konjac Sponge $14.00 – – I use my Konjac a few times a week and it leaves my skin feeling really clean. The active charcoal is supposed to help with acne-prone skin as well.

Although it isn’t an exhaustive list, those are definitely my desert island products. What are some of your favorite natural products and what are some of the beauty products that you splurge on?

I am not affiliated with any of the product companies featured here or compensated in any way for featuring these products – all thoughts and opinions are my own.