Monday, August 30, 2010

A Great Day For The Museum Followed By A Little Cake-ology!

Today my kidlets and I had a fantastic morning visiting the Museum of Man & Nature with friends.  My little Lu is only 3 1/2 so I hadn't tried out the "big" museum with her yet.  All the kids had a blast running through all the displays especially the Bison (Buffalo), the panorama video of the ancient sea life, Nonsuch Ship, & the urban village at the end.  My girl was very disappointed to have to leave the movie theatre where Charlie Chaplin was making a mess of a movie set.  I think I may have to download some Chaplin for her.  The kids really had a great time.  I was afraid it would be above their heads but they ran around with their eyes bugged out smiling from ear to ear.  We will definitely make the trip again!

So....I had said Museum and Cake......

I finally visited Cake-ology on Arthur St.  I have been meaning to get there but have been so busy this summer.  Sandi, a friend in my baby group, recommended it a couple months ago.  She is due any day with baby #2 and had been a frequent visitor of Cake-ology.  Andrea of Cake-ology did add a warning to all pregnant moms out there;  "We cannot be responsible for causing cakette addictions in unborn babies!!!  :)"  She was very considerate to think of the poor unborn babies.  ;)  Well, I am very un-pregnant so I figured I could easily eat one of everything and did.  My kiddos and I shared a saskatoon imperial cookie, a chocolate caramel cupcake, a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing, a chocolate cakette, and a vanilla cakette.  They were all polished off before we even got out of the car.   For some reason neither of the kiddos wanted lunch when we got home....hmmmm.......I wonder why?  It was yummy!  My favorites were the chocolate cakette, which is a little chocolate cake ball like a rum ball dipped in chocolate.  The cupcakes were delicious too.  The caramel buttercream tasted like a roasted marshmallow but the cream cheese icing on the red velvet cupcake "took the cake".  Oh my.  I actually moaned in the car during the first taste.  I am an icing girl.....but only good icing.  Grocery Store cake icing does not do it for me.  I was scooping the icing off the cupcakes while I drove.  Their cream cheese icing is to die for.

The kiddos ate most of the cookie but I did enjoy the little taste I had.  I love good imperial cookies nearly as much as icing and the saskatoon jam centers added a little change to the standard raspberry jam used.    Most imperial cookies are dry, almost stale tasting but there are a couple bakeries in town that make them really well.  Cake-ology is one of them.  The vanilla cakette was also polished off by the kids pretty fast but I sampled a small taste and it was ok.  It had no chocolate so I was not as excited about it obviously.  I did not share my chocolate cakette!!

The butter cream icing was a little sweet for me.  I think bakeries have to make it sweet so it can keep the shape they want.  I like butter cream icing to taste more buttery and not be hurt your teeth sweet.  The kids did not share this opinion with me.  They ate all the icing before they even tasted the cupcake hiding underneath. 

Overall I think it is obvious that we had an awesome visit at Cake-ology.  The prices were decent too.  For all we munched, or should I say inhaled, it only set me back $9.25.  Not a bad lunch for 3.  ;)

85 Arthur St

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lather Creations Upcycled Furniture

Lenore Hume is a thirty something ad agency copywriter and furniture upcycler.  She transforms vintage furniture into fresh and modern pieces for her online shop Lather Creations.   Lenore's blog Lather, Write, Repeat shares all the creative people, things and projects that inspire her as well as has a little mini shop with what upcycled furniture she has available for sale.  Have a peak at her blog to see her transform aged antiques into new modern centerpieces. 

Lather Creations

Icelandic Designer Velvet Vixen

The Velvet Vixen also attended the Aqua Books Craft Fair that I sadly missed.  Sarah of Velvet Vixen is also a designer from Moxy Rue.  I had not seen her designs before and I like her Etsy Site, especially the photo of the first corset style mini.  I hope to see her designs somewhere soon!  She uses such a wide variety of fabrics and techniques that I think I have to see and touch her fabrics to truly appreciate them.  ;) Have a look at her designs and her Etsy Shop!  This is Sarah's bio:

"Sarah Jonasson of The Velvet Vixen was raised in Gimli MB 100% Icelandic, taught at George Brown College in Toronto, and inspired in Winnipeg MB.

She unifies dichotomous styles between dark and edgy - to elegant and feminine, designing women's clothing and accessories.

One of her trademarks is designing with eco friendly fish leather, and she strives to be eco conscious whenever possible. For example, she offers the choice of Organic Bamboo fabrics when ordering her designs. She also offers reworked vintage clothing, using only great quality vintage fabrics like cashmere, silk, or fabrics with unique patterns, and turning them into totally new and modern designs. She is able to get the most out of the materials, such as reusing crystals from antique chandelier's into her jewelry, vintage watch bands into high quality headbands, and luxurious silk vintage drapery into miniskirts.

She drafts her designs onto paper to create the patterns, she also designs by draping the fabric onto her dress form as it speaks to her, and sometimes she mixes the two styles together. A lot of the time she doesn't even plan exactly how the finished design will look, but as she progress during the design process it is clear to her what details need to be added to create a perfect balanced design.

She has a very close relationship with her customers, and is happy to have started selling her designs at crafts shows, and anywhere she is able to communicate face to face with her customers. Here is some examples of feedback from her customers:

Beautiful. I can't say enough about the quality of work. It's so beautiful I am afraid to wear it again because I don't want to ruin it. I wore it and received so many compliments but all the compliments should go to Sarah for her craftmanship. She took a piece of fabric that I had for years and turned it into a work of art. Love it!

Beautiful color and great fit. Seller is a real asset to Etsy. Sarah thanks so much!
-Themole (return customer)

Great communication, friendly, helpful, gorgeous designs! Highly recommended! Thanks for everything Sarah, I appreciate it very much! I will be back for sure! Take care! :-)

Amazing dress! Not only is it gorgeous, it's light and comfortable and fits perfectly. The beautiful and original design really stands out in a crowd. Thank you so much!

Photography: Jessica Horst"

The Velvet Vixen 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Why Chandra's Head Is In The Oven

My friend Debra-Jean recommended that I take a look at Chandra of Head In The Oven who is a crafter that she really liked at the Aqua Book sale.  I emailed her and got some really neat stuff from her so I am going to quote Chandra of her art.  I love when artisans have such a vision and email me their story.   I also completely understand how she explains the contemporary woman.  In my previous life I was far from "domestic" and have received many insulting comments and looks for choosing to raise my own children instead of continue my career.  If you are pro woman then as a woman I can also choose to put my children before a career.  Why does a certain career or schooling show how important of a person you are?  I believe you should work to live...not the other way around.   If I never "work" again then I would be happy.  There are many more important things I can do in this world then make money.  ;)

"The arty/academic/blah-blah precis of what I do is that I am fascinated by the collisions between traditional artifacts and methodologies of domesticity and women's spaces, pushed up against the complex messaging of pop culture, particularly the current nostalgia for pop culture of the 80s.  What does it all mean in a contemporary context, especially to contemporary people's (often uneasy) relationships with domesticity (expressed, concurrently, in the current resurgence of baking/gardening/preserving as socially acceptable activities, and in the continued devaluing of activities and spaces traditionally deemed feminine spheres)? What happens when these artifacts and messages collide, collude?  I find that what emerges is a multi-textual and multi-textiled possibility for subversion, humour, reinterpretation, and transformation.

In normal speak, I find vintage aprons, clean and wash them up, and then hand-stitch 80s pop lyrics onto them.  (Although some lyrics wander into the 90s and even the early 2000s, and some linger from the late 70s).  I have sweet frilly aprons that say "My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,"  BBQ aprons that say "My anaconda don't want none unless you got buns, hon," floral and gingham pieces that say "Whip it good," "She was a fast machine/She kept her motor clean," "All the boys think she's a spy," etc. 

Every one is unique, one of a kind, never to be exactly repeated.  They're all washable in a normal washing machine, and are meant to be used (spills and all).  I call myself "Head in the Oven" because if I actually had to be that kind of traditional domestic creature, live that kind of Ozzie and Harriet life, I would indeed put my head in the oven.  I like irony and sarcasm, I like colours and textures and playfulness, and embroidery is really my only domestic skill.  (Unless you count liberal spraying of Febreeze. I'm quite good at that too).

The aprons are for sale at Sew Dandee in the Village, at the Tara Davis Studio in Nelson, BC, and at whatever craft sale I get out to. I also do pillow cases ("99 dreams I have had/in every one a red balloon,"  "No sleep til Brooklyn!", "This is not my beautiful house!/This is not my beautiful wife!", etc).  I'll do custom orders if people email and ask for something specific (or just ask me to make them something special).  I also occasionally play around with other stuff (a linen Charles and Diana commemorative engagement tea towel, upon which I've embroidered "Liar!" in bright red thread across Charles' face), and do pieces in other needlework mediums (eg,I cross-stitched a 'traditional' Quaker Noah's ark sampler, using traditional hand-dyed threads, and instead of a bible verse, stitched "Save Ferris."  Those pieces are more time-consuming)."

So keep an eye out for Chandra of Head in the Oven at local craft fairs and if you are in Osborne Village make sure to check out her aprons at Sew Dandee.  Sew Dandee really seems to be one of the best places to look for good local artisans' work.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Finally, My Boon Burger Review

Finally, after 3/4 of the summer has zipped on by me, I have made it to Boon Burger.  I have a vegetarian friend in from BC and it just so happened to be his birthday today.  Happy Birthday Michael.  It gave me a great reason to treat him to a veggie burger.  I was told that we were very lucky because there was actually room for the 6 of us to sit inside over lunch.  We headed over around 1pm and it was only 1/2 full...or 1/2 empty however you want to look at it.  ;)  I thought the cafeteria seating was fine.  A few people warned me about the dreaded communal seating but I do not fear strangers so eating near one is not all that terrifying.  Those that don't like them should probably sit next to strangers more often. 

One thing I liked right off the start at Boon Burger was the cheery service.  I actually love that new veggie friendly places are popping up all over so they do not have the elitist atmosphere that earlier vegan restaurants had.  The two people working in the front were very friendly and helpful.

The menu had many great choices and I was lucky to have 4 different burgers chosen by our friends so I could have a peak at what I was missing.  I decided on the Buddha Burger.  It was great.  It kind of reminded me of Bar Italia's falafal burger minus all the grease and with better sauce.  It was great and it was dressed with veggies, a peach salsa & cucumber sauce.   I ate the whole thing and was sorry when it was gone.  The burger was cooked perfect and it was not dry or greasy.  The bun was wholewheat and fresh.  I got the sesame fries with it.  The fries were ok.  They tasted healthier then normal fries, which probably should be a good thing, but I kind of like fries to be unhealthy.  It is like diet desserts.  It is an oxymoron.  Desserts should be made with butter, cream, and rich, dark chocolate, & lots of it.  ;)

The birthday boy had the fish burger (can't remember the name) and it was good too.  I am sure they would hate to be compared to a fast food place, but it tasted similar the A&W's veggie burger.  That isn't entirely a bad thing.  A&W makes the only decent veggie burger and it is probably way worst for you then this one.  They made this burger taste deliciously unhealthy and it probably isn't all that bad for you.  I didn't think it tasted like a fish burger but it was really good anyways and the patty looked like a fish patty.  I never liked fish so I was glad it tasted how it did.

Cara, another Boon Burger virgin, got the poutine.  I was a little leery about how good it would be.  I don't like vegan cheese.  I have tried vegan cheese all over the place and the only place I have tasted a super yummy vegan cheese was at a pizza place in Minneapolis.  This poutine was pretty good.  The cheese was more feta like.  It was crumbly and not melty but as Cara stated "It tastes vegan."  The gravy was good and the cheese wasn't bad as far as vegan cheese goes.

The 6 of us left happy and satisfied.  Our meals were great and we will all return.  Craig had the Thanksgiving Burger and I think that will be my next meal.  I love yams.  Michael enjoyed his meal so much that he will be back this week again before he flies back west.  We all recommend you to give them a try whether you are a carnivore, omnivore, or herbivore.  Advice I have been given is that it is very busy at prime time lunch and in the early evening.  At 7pm there is often a line out the door but the food is good and made quick so even if you have to wait you can chat with your neighbors, maybe make a new friend, and get a good solid meal at the end of it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Upcoming Manitoba Artisans and More Coming to Handmade In Manitoba

Hi Again
Yes...I am still around.  I was out at the cabin again.  I returned to quite a few emails about interesting stores, craft sales, artisans, and more.  My friend Debra-Jean ended up at the Aqua Books sale and got some business cards and stories for me so once I get some more info there I will be adding some more creative artisans from that sale to my blog too.  Please don't think I have fallen asleep.  I will be ticking away here.  Some blog prospects for the near future:

Lather Creations - upcycles vintage furniture

Cloverleaf Fibre  - Needle felt work and fleece creations from homespun and died wool from their Shetland Sheep and recycled sweaters.

cake-ology at 85 arthur street - Exchange District Cake Bakery

green please - local online store that sells green toys

papergirl productions - stuffies, kitsch jewellery, and more

Echocreations - handcrafted & reproduced spoon jewelry & hanging art

Inspyred Creations by Meagan Brown - jewelry & art works

Dizzydame - fashioneer

Cara Jess Gesell - Visual Artist

Head in the Oven - Upcycled Creations & Pop Culture Collisions

The Velvet Vixen
Please keep an eye on this blog and continue to contact me for local businesses, restaurants, artists, craft fairs, and of course artisans at