Monday, May 09, 2016

Prima's Design Team Call 2016 -2017

Seeing loads of entries for the Prima Marketing design team call from fellow crafters I adore, I thought 'What the heck!' and decided to show off some of my projects made with Prima pretties.

Paper Caravan

Happy papercrafting!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

The Pixies Go to Medieval Times & Ticket Giveaway!

A few weeks ago I received an invite to visit Medieval Times, Toronto Dinner and Tournament.

Now, I had never been to Medieval Times, and I am a complete and utter dork for renaissance fairs and fairy tale stuff, so I was beyond thrilled. Seriously, I drove my kid and husband bonkers. "Are you excited?!? I'm excited! How can you not be excited?" It wasn't that they weren't excited... it was that they weren't middle-aged-woman-who-never-gets-out-of-the-house-and-can't-wait-to-eat-with-her-hands-and-a-wear-a-crown excited.

Medieval Times, Toronto Dinner and Tournament didn't just pay for my dinner, they said I can give away a pair of tickets on my little old blog too! So get ready for me to blab endlessly, and then see how you can enter for your chance to win tickets to this jousty dinner and show.

First, we pulled up to the lot and scrounged the $11 for parking. We should have known better since this is Toronto and *I think* paying for parking is pretty much a given. (FYI Toronto is the only Medieval Times that charges for parking.)

Inside there was a long line up for tickets, but we were ushered in right away.

We were given coloured crowns, then had our pictures taken with the Princess. The picture was terrible but that was totally our fault. Me looking like a demented housewife. The kid with a scowl and eyes half closed. The man trying to look manly next to the princess. We were a hot mess.

Next, we were ushered into a large hall where you can buy beer and wine, souvenirs, and everything from pink fuzzy unicorns to swords, crowns and dragon hats. I don't really go in for gift store stuff so didn't buy anything. Although... I was tempted to bring this giant dragon skull home.

I used this pre-show time to visit the ladies room. I'm a bit of connoisseur when it comes to the loo since I tinkle a zillion times a day. It was very clean, not fancy in the least, but served it's purpose well.

People entered the arena by the colour of their crown. These correspond to the seating sections and the knight you root for. We sat in the front row of the green section. You pay extra to sit in the front row, but in all honesty, with their staggered seating, I'm willing to bet you'd have a decent view no matter where you sat.

The show started and the feasting began!

Eats include tomato soup and garlic bread, huge portion of chicken, half cob of corn, half baked potato, two beverage servings of Pepsi or water, then coffee or tea, and a pastry.* Some of the chicken was quite dry and we all thought a little bowl of sauce/gravy would have been a great addition. That said, I totally get that this is not fine dining. They're trying to please 100's of people (including small children) with one set menu, serve it hot, and clear it efficiently. They do a pretty good job of it.

*There is a vegetarian meal alternative. If you have little ones you can ask for juice instead of Pepsi.

The show plays as food is served/eaten. It is largely horsemanship, skill with a little bit of jousting. There's a falconry element that is very cool. A bit of weaponry combat, some knightly chivalry, and that's it in a nutshell. It was highly choreographed, as it should be for the performers safety, but it was a lot of fun.

A few notes:

It did not smell like poo or horses. This is one question that kept running though my mind beforehand so there has to be some other weirdo wondering the same thing. My mother is a horse crazed lunatic and her vehicle always smells like horse. I was expecting that familiar odour in the arena. Not a whiff!

The bad guy. Even his horse looked leery of him.

If you aren't ok with kids, this is not the place for you. I sat beside a family with two little ones and almost got whacked on the head by flashing light up swords at least a dozen times. This wasn't misbehaving, it was kids doing what kids do in a confined space for 2+ hours when given a flashing light up sword. I'm ok with it. Others might not be.

By "sat beside" I mean literally touching the person beside you. Chairs are packed beside one another as tightly as possible. Your space is basically as wide as your place mat. Getting out to use the restroom is a nearly impossible ordeal (as demonstrated by the woman seated next to me climbing over the back of her chair). If you have personal space issues, you'll need to consider this.

I do have one last criticism: the timing of the food. I really wish that there were two serving wenches to dole out the nosh. It would have been nice to have entire courses served at the same time instead of waiting for bread or corn or potato to arrive, while the rest sat waiting on the plate. This is in no way a criticism of our server, Emma. She was an absolute delight and I should have tipped her twice as much as I did. It's simply a matter of needing a second pair of hands.

Where's ma tater and corn?

To be frank, one of the reasons I hadn't gone to Medieval Times before now was the price. Starting at $65.95 for adults and $45.95 for kids, it is not an inexpensive outing. BUT there are deals to be had, like mid week prices (Adults $40 & Kids $30) or their Victoria Day Long Weekend Offer (Adults $41.95 & Kids $29.95) Take advantage of their specials and the cost isn't too far off the price of dinner and movie/show. (i.e. I just checked the price of circus tickets and they run $30 - $50.)

Anywho, it's a fun option for a special occasion. I've included my criticisms here to provide a full honest review, but overall it was a great time. We really enjoyed ourselves and are totally grateful for the opportunity to visit, for the full bellies, and all the laughs.

Oh, for the love of biscuits Nichola!
Stop your yammering and nitpicking 
and get to the give away!!!!

Geesh! Hang on to your knickers!

For your chance to win a pair of tickets to
Medieval Times, Toronto Dinner and Tournament
comment below with the name of your favourite fairy tale.

One entry per person.
Please ensure that I can contact you via email if you win.
(ie. Don't comment anonymously.)
Deadline is 12:01 est a.m. on Sunday, May 15th, 2016
One entry will be selected at random.
Winner will be contacted Monday, May 16th, 2016
If there is no reply by Wednesday, May 18th, 2016, I will select an alternate winner.

Good luck!

Friday, May 06, 2016

The Tale of the Crow's Clock

Clocks have always fascinated me. Mantle clocks, wall clocks, clock towers, grandfather clocks. They give measure to the passing of time, keep us in order, but there's something quite mystical about them too.  

The Tale of the Crow's Clock - Nichola Battilana

I thought of making a cuckoo clock for a while. Shortly after making the 'Goblin Throne' last month, a crow perched outside my window and nudged me to make a 'Crow's Clock' instead of a clock of the cuckoo variety. Who am I to argue with a crow?

The Tale of the Crow's Clock - Nichola Battilana

The base of the clock is one of my favourite products from Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts, the 3 Story House. It's a great size to work with and I think it's practically perfect as a clock body. I carved out an arch on the front and framed it with an Reliquary - Tower Top.

The Tale of the Crow's Clock - Nichola Battilana

Lace and Shell Border Sticks are used as edge embellishments and shingles for the roof.  For the
Little Bird House at the top, I used Dresden borders to repeat the patterned edge. At the tippy top you can see a wooden round thing... that's a vintage French lottery number, but don't worry if you don't have one of those in your stash, you could easily trade it out for one of the pieces from the Faux Typewriter Keys Symbol SetThose cute leafy frame and filigree bits are these Fanciful Elements.

The Tale of the Crow's Clock - Nichola Battilana

The clock does work and I've used the mechanism from the Desk Clock Standard. I did replace the hand with this Clock Hands Shape Set and swapped out the numbers with a frame from this Hanging Clock SetTotally not necessary to replace all those parts, but I like the way all these pieces fit together.

The Tale of the Crow's Clock - Nichola Battilana

Cuckoo clocks have weights in the shape of pine cones that drive the clock. Although my clock isn't weight driven, I wanted to include this traditional element by adding some real pine cones on a length of chain, along with some oak leaf charms.

The Tale of the Crow's Clock - Nichola Battilana 

This is a such a great project if you like adding embellishments and borders and you could go totally over the top if you wanted. If you'd like to make your own, check out my video that tells "The Tale of the Crow's Clock" and how it came together. 

Here are the supplies I used in my Crow's Clock
Clock Hands Shape Set
Little Bird House
Faux Typewriter Keys Symbol Set *alternative suggestion*

Old music papers
Brass chain and charms
Masking Tape

Monday, May 02, 2016

Clay houses and a noisy friend

The Canadian weather does a number on the fairy houses in our garden. We bring them in in the fall when our fairies move into their wild winter residences, but between the rain, the heat, and the squirrels... they take quite a beating throughout the summer.

So I'm trying to add some more resiliant clay houses to out fairy sanctuary. The grey clay is a raku clay that will be pit fired. The terra cotta coloured ones are an air dry clay that I'll seal and we'll see how well they endure. (Both of the clays are from Laguna)

I have been working on other things too, like these strings of sparkly glass beads but everything seems to be 'in progress' at the moment and not quite ready to show off. 

Ah well, it'll be a crafty celebration when everything is complete and ready to be shown off all at once. It wouldn't be so bad if I had some self control and posted little by little, but I get too excited and want to post all the pictures at the same time!

Perhaps I have a little bit of patience. After all, this guy and his friend have been swooping on the deck for the past couple of weeks. They've refused to sit still and I haven't managed a picture until now.

Blue Jays are a great reminder that it's ok not to have it all. They are stunning lookers, but that singing voice. Oy! No matter, they continue to sing anyway.

By the way, have you heard of Florence Foster Jenkins? Look her up!

"Some may say that I couldn't sing, but no one can say that I didn't sing."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Breakfast guests

This morning a couple of pileated woodpeckers enjoyed breakfast behind the house.

(Now with video that actually plays!)

Gave me quite a startle when this fellow took flight!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

This weather, Mr. T and fairy mail

It snowed yesterday. SNOWED! I was lounging on the deck with a drinky-poo just the day before. This weather is nuts.

This guy thinks the crazy weather is somehow my fault. Just look at that stink-eye!

I'm fairly certain this is the first red squirrel that has decided to make Pixie Hill his home. He's very cute but is as mischievous as they come, and very grumpy. Our dog, Padfoot, chased him up a tree and he was so mad! He chattered and squeaked and made a huge fuss, thoroughly confusing poor Paddy who looked at me as if to say "What's this guys problem?"

Anyway we've named him Mr. Tibbles M. McNutt... or Mr. T for short.

A quick photo from last night. A small batch of fairy mail on it's way to Mrs. Butcher's kindergarten class.

The wee folk here were very excited to hear that the children were learning about fairies. They jumped at the chance to send some notes but Cecil, the mail room hobgoblin, sent them to the wrong department and the letters went on a misadventure. They look a bit ratty... hope the kiddies don't mind.

It's raining here, which means I'll go through my pot of tea in no time at all.

Have a beautiful day, no matter what the weather.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Clay, clay, clay

Just a quick post today.

I bought myself a whole whack of clay a short while ago. Last night I tossed a few pieces into a pit fire and then ran out in my pyjamas this morning to dig them up. These are my favourite bits that came out, some pendant types pieces and some holed stones. 

I really like primitive pit firing. I'm terrible at it... but it's fun. It reminds me a lot of darkroom photography. There's a sort of magic that happens when you submerge your paper in the developing solution and the image just kind of comes alive. The same thing happens when you dig up your pieces. You ave no idea what's going to come out.

I also bought some air dry clay by Laguna. $25 for a 25lb bag... which is an outstanding price if you consider the price of the tiny blocks of air dry clay you get from most craft stores. AND this stuff dries so hard! It's not crumbly and brittle like some others I've used. You DO have to seal it to protect it from moisture/waterproof, and I don't think it's suitable for foodstuffs, but if you want to fart around with some clay it's an option.

Here are some teeny bits of pottery I created with it.

Finally, I've been working on two new tutorials and my camera has not been cooperating. Have I ever told you that my camera is so noisy when it focuses that you can hear it on the recording? Seriously, that's why I changed my format to voice overs! Anyway, I think it might be time to invest in something a little more reliable.

What have you been up to?