Fairy Costume

Sewing a Fairy Costume

Two years ago, when I still lived in the semi-detached house, I was sewing a fairy costume for Halloween. Some of my old blogging friends might recall that I failed to complete it in time, and that I somehow managed to whip up a Day of the Dead Bride costume in, well, a day! After Halloween ended I tried to complete the costume but lost steam. I was hand sewing tulle onto a skirt lining and couldn't find the energy or motivation to finish it. It's strange but returning to it two years later I found it far easier to tackle(?); the hand sewing took almost no time at all, the tulle wasn't as difficult to handle, the tutu came together perfectly. I'm struggling to figure out what exactly made it so hard to finish in the first place? I guess I'll never know.

The Inspiration

I normally wear black garments with skulls, spiders or bats on them. That's a day in the life of me. I see so many witch and vampire costumes that look exactly like my wardrobe, it's kind of weird. As you can imagine, when Halloween comes around the last thing that I want is to look like I normally do. I'm usually not a fairy princess type of girl, which is what made this costume that much more appealing to me. I can't remember if I was inspired by the ombre tulle, or if it was my Lockshop wig that I bought so many years ago. Regardless, I eventually ended up with a classic fairy costume; a poofy pink tutu skirt, a crushed velvet top, a long periwinkle wig, accessorized with wings, antennae and star shaped wand.

How I made it

I look back at my original concept sketch and I cannot believe that I actually thought I would make the equivalent to a prom dress, two weeks before Halloween. Initially my costume was more reminiscent of the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz. I was even working on a very similar crown, but I scrapped the idea when I finally came to my senses. This wasn't going to be a costume that I would revisit very often, I wanted something more practical. This is when I decided that instead of a dress I would make separates; I would make a top out of stretch crushed velvet and a tulle tutu with a satin lining. The benefit of the top is that I can wear it with almost anything, it's just a long sleeve top. Likewise the tutu could be used again in the future, at least as a petticoat for something else.

For the long sleeve top, I drafted a pattern based off of a shirt that I own. This worked out alright, although the shoulder rolls awkwardly so I'll need to revise it some day. I used stretch crushed velvet in a soft pink, which is warm and easy to work with. I definitely wanted to keep warm because I know how cold our Canadian Halloweens can get.

For the tutu, I drafted a circle skirt out of some cheap pink costume satin. I made a back seam of 5/8" where I would place the zipper (about 7" deep). The seam edges were overlocked. Next, I basted the zipper on so I could fit the skirt onto the dress form without using pins. The lining hem was finished with a rolled hem on my overlock. The tulle overlay was created using six layers of tulle rectangles, seamed, gathered and hand basted on. I developed a shortcut for this which is too difficult to describe, so if you're interested just PM me.

I wish I had taken more time to re-evaluate the skirt waistband. It was a rectangle, which works for stretch materials but this was interfaced satin. I should've known better but I guess I was too lazy. It obviously doesn't fit right, waistbands should have a curve to them, but I didn't care enough to correct it, maybe someday I will unpick it and take it in by ½" or more.

The wand was made using a wooden dowel spray painted silver, sandwiched between two star shaped pieces of silver foam sheet. The antennae were made in a similar fashion using foam sheet stars, silver pipe cleaners, and a headband which I covered in silver stretch spandex. I used pink feather boa as an embellishment. The wings were purchased at a dollar store, the elastic was replaced with a prettier glitter elastic that I bought at a fabric shop. I embellished the wings with rhinestones and some additional glitter paint.


Conclusion

I like how it turned out, especially with my wig and pink and purple make up. I wore body glitter which felt so 90's. I had a lot of compliments on my costume although some kids thought I was the tooth fairy?? I handed candy out at my parents' house this year, where my husband and I just scarfed down pizza and watched Hocus Pocus. We had about 30 kids within a two hour time span, it was more than last year but shorter than I expected. I guess perhaps it was too cold? Who knows! Now to work on next year's costume.

Ladyfair


Pumpkin Purée

How to make homemade pumpkin purée

While canned pumpkin purée is always good in a pinch, fresh pumpkin purée is far superior in both flavor and texture, and what's more it's not difficult to make your own. All you need is a pie pumpkin (also known as a sugar pumpkin), a baking sheet, and a food processor.

How to Make Pumpkin Purée

Ingredients & Tools:

  • 1 pie pumpkin
  • kitchen knife for carving
  • cutting board
  • baking sheet
  • cooking spray
  • food processor

To Begin:
Pre-heat your oven to 350°F.


Wash your pumpkin thoroughly, then cut off the top and discard it. Remove the innards and seeds, then cut the pumpkin into quarters.

🎃 Helpful Hint: You may choose to keep your pumpkin seeds for roasting or baking. Here's an easy way to clean pumpkin seeds: simply place the seeds in a mixing bowl full of water, you'll see that the innards will sink to the bottom of the bowl but the seeds will float up. Mix them gently to remove excess innards, then carefully strain the seeds off the top of the water using a slotted spoon.


Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil and place the quartered pumpkin slices onto the tray, insides facing up. Cook for 40 minutes (30 for smaller pumpkins).

Remove from the oven and let the pumpkin cool until you can safely handle it. Once ready, peel the pumpkin skin away from the pulp. Transfer the pulp into a food processor and pulse until smooth. If you find that the pumpkin is too dry for your food processor continue to add a few tablespoons of water until it blends smoothly.

This pumpkin purée can be frozen for future use in freezer bags or stored in the fridge for up to 1 week in an air tight container.

Pumpkin purée is great for pies, soups and a host of baked goods.

Did you know?

The insides we take out of the pumpkin are not actually the pulp of the pumpkin, this stringy substance is referred to as the pumpkin's "innards", whereas "pulp" refers to the part of the pumpkin that we consume.

🦇Happy Baking and Happy Halloween🦇
from

Ladyfair

Hocus Pocus 2

Returning to a classic Halloween film

It's a Halloween tradition in my house, every year I watch Disney's Hocus Pocus (1993), I never miss it and somehow it never gets old. Why do so many goths and Halloween fanatics love this film? Is it pure nostalgia? Is it because it's one of the very few films where Halloween is a major theme? It's hard to say for sure. As an adult I can appreciate it from a more critical standpoint. It's not without its flaws. In fact, it hardly elicits even a chuckle out of me. So what draws me in? It's not Bette Midler's singing, or Najimy's campy performance, or Parker's boobs, and it sure as hell isn't Thora Birch. I believe it's a mixture of things that keeps me interested. I like the folklore behind the Sanderson Sisters, the curse of Thackary Binx and the black flame candle. It has a delicious occult flavoring that's not typically associated with Disney. It's amazing that they didn't pass it off as a Touchstone production, what with all the talk of virgins and sacrifices and eating children. And not to forget, death, in a very in your face kind of way. It's so not Disney, and for those of us who declined to be entertained by princesses or valiant knights, this film was a long time coming.


You can imagine my surprise when I heard that there'd be a Hocus Pocus 2. Bette Midler and her co-stars had planted the seed some time ago as they vocalized their desire to return to the silver screen...no doubt because their careers were drying up. Disney dispelled the rumors that another Hocus Pocus was in the works, until recently when a writer announced that he was penning the sequel... or is it a reboot? No one seems to know for certain. What we do know is that the witchy trio will not be reprising their roles and that the film will be made for TV and not the big screen.

It's no coincidence that Disney has licensed a new series of collectible Hocus Pocus merchandise this year, with keychains, t-shirts and decorations. They're clearly testing the waters to see if the franchise still has potential amongst newer audiences. It's a good way to gauge whether or not the sequel, or reboot? Is a worthy investment of their time and money.


I admit that I'm terribly disappointed to hear that it will be a made for TV movie. There are a number of reasons that make this an incredibly poor decision, most notably because cable TV is becoming a thing of the past. Most of us have chosen more affordable streaming services like Netflix (or free streaming services like Kodi) for our television viewing needs. If they're hoping that we'll rush out and buy cable just to watch the film they are in for a rude awakening! They need to look no further than the Ash VS the Evil Dead series for their answer. The series was being shown exclusively on the Starz network (available only to Americans) which isolated many potential viewers, not only due to accessibility issues but also because no one wanted to subscribe to a network for a single series. As a result, fans pirated the crap out of it, eventually prompting Bruce Campbell to ask us to not pirate the show. I have no doubt that the same thing will occur with Hocus Pocus 2. The saving grace here is that it will be way easier for us to pirate if it's shown on TV, but I'd much rather the film have a larger, cinematic distribution. We seldom see Halloween films any more, we need more of them. Hell, Universal took a chance on making an Easter movie and Halloween is way more popular commercially than Easter is. What gives?

Made for TV also carries a certain stigma with it. What comes to mind? Low budget, and a lower budget usually results in a lower quality of set and costume design, sound and music, special effects, and d-list actors. I'm not bothered by the fact that Midler, Najimy and Parker won't be returning. It wouldn't make any sense. The kids beat the Sanderson Sisters, the witches were disintegrated. Remember the days when a movie actually ended and didn't leave you with a cliff hanger for supposed sequels?! It was utterly satisfying. Why bring back the Sanderson Sisters? What would be the point? How the hell would that even work? Why not create something new and exciting? I hate reboots, they never feel right, it's the same thing for book-to-movie adaptations, there's too much of a risk for pissing people off. I sincerely hope that it is a sequel (or follow up, in my eyes a sequel implies that it's in response to the first film, like a continuation), one where the folklore is explored in more depth and new and interesting characters emerge. Maybe pick up where Universal has clearly dropped the ball with their new monster films and throw in other supernatural beings.

No doubt, I will look forward to the new film with great anticipation. What are your thoughts?

Kind regards

Ladyfair

The Worst Witch

Watching The Worst Witch (2017)

I normally abhor Netflix series, even though I know that Netfilx has nearly nothing to do with the production of most series anyways, they often acquire shows as oppose to producing them. Yet Netflix series tend to share similar qualities, like the comedy is always the same awful shake-my-head kind of crap (*cough* Adam Sandler *cough*), and the dramas are cliché, poorly scripted and poorly acted. "Anne" was the single most dreadful experience I've had with Netflix. The whole thing was a catastrophe and it could have had so much potential. When I heard that there would be a Worst Witch reboot on Netflix I cringed. My first thoughts were "they're going to Americanize it and modernize it, and it's going to be awful."

While I never did watch the Fairuza Balk, made for TV movie, starring Tim Curry, I grew up with the original British TV show (circa 1998). Living in Canada, it was commonplace for our local networks to pick up foreign made TV series. I assume that at the time licensing British TV shows must've been cheaper than acquiring American ones. That being said, I had a lot of exposure to British television. My best friend and I share a fondness for Are You Being Served?, and my brother and I enjoyed watching Father Ted and Keeping Up Appearances. One of my guilty pleasures was always The Worst Witch, and although I'm not ashamed to admit my fandom now, in my youth no one else in my social circle liked the show. For fear of being made fun of, I never brought it up. Now approaching my 30's I can confidently say, yeah I freaking liked this show, yes, it's better than Harry Potter. The gauntlet has been thrown down!

On that note, it irks the crap out of me that columnists are referencing Harry Potter when they write about this new series. Are they daft? Do they not do their research? The Worst Witch books preceded the Harry Potter books, often bringing into question whether Rowling was borrowing themes from Murphy's work. But I'll let the geeks battle that one out. In my eyes, Worst Witch reigns supreme. It's not Harry Potter for girls, it's a satisfying feminist piece for entire families.


 Review


My fears of the series being Americanized, poorly written and poorly acted were quickly put to rest within the pilot episode. If anything, I feel that this cast of actors is even better than in the original 90's series. I mean no disrespect to Georgina Sherrington, but her acting in the role of Mildred Hubble could really wear on your nerves after awhile. I remember her being shrill and whiny. Bella Ramsey manages to draw sympathy from viewers without putting them off with overtly emotional displays. She strikes me as more pensive and sensitive. When she feels defeated she gets quiet and seems withdrawn, which is more in line with how a pre-teen would behave, and instead of feeling sorry for her I tend to identify with her frustrations. Especially when it comes to Ethel Hollow and Miss Hardbroom, whom have been excellently cast. I had no issue with the former actors but it's a decidedly different flavor this time around. Raquel Cassidy plays a hardass, and while fans of the show know that in time Miss Hardbroom will come to show her redeeming qualities, we're barely given a hint of it in season one. It honestly feels like Hardbroom is out to get Mildred, even when Mildred does something outstanding for the school, she's never really rewarded for her efforts, instead Hardbroom will overlook her mistakes, but for only the time being.

Ethel Hallow, played by Jenny Richardson, is the perfect embodiment of the mean girl. A little overachiever, she stops at nothing to get Mildred expelled. What's interesting in this rendition of The Worst Witch is that we get a deeper understanding of what motivates Ethel's nastiness. There's a greater emphasis on her psychological and emotional struggles, and I really enjoy the maturity of such subject matter. It's important for children to see that bullies don't lash out for no good reason, we're all struggling with something.


I really appreciate the set design, costumery and special effects, although given it probably has a bigger budget than the original, and nearly twenty years have past, it's not terribly surprising. As sad as it is to say poor special effects can put people off of viewing a TV show or film, and for a series that is so dependent upon magic and other worldy creatures it ought to have at least good special effects. I'm happy to see that this is the case with The Worst Witch (2017), they're not mind blowingly realistic effects (notably that weird frog puppet) but for a children's show it's fun and visually appealing.

I have a few critiques of the series. For starters, it sucks that we have to wait a year for season two to come out, and it strangely occurs in the winter/spring. I would've preferred to see this start up in September/October, especially because it's fun to watch near Halloween and we have a shortage of anything to watch at that time. Something I noticed with this reboot is the distinct lack of students. I'm not sure if they can't afford more extras but the school feels small and looks to be populated largely by first years. There's no Fenella or Griselda, or other senior year students, I assume they've been replaced with the new Hallow sister, Esmeralda, who is an accomplished third year student. There are a few additional characters that crop up, Felicity being one of them, but interactions with these characters are few at best. I'd like to see stories involving various other characters. Another issue I have is that despite Ethel Hallow making multiple grievous mistakes, she seldom gets punished for any of it. If you watch the series you'll know what I mean, there's one thing she does that seems unforgivable but no real action is taken to correct her behavior. Unlike Mildred, she appears to get a free pass whenever she does something wrong, but it pushes the boundaries of what can be considered reasonable. I mean really, have her scrub some toilets by hand or pick up garbage, something to indicate that she is accountable for her actions, otherwise, what are we teaching children? Finally, each episode seems to follow a similar formula, people who have viewed the series have likely picked up on this. I would encourage the writers to experiment with less linear story telling.

 Conclusion

I'd love to see this series go on for a very long time and to possibly incorporate issues that reflect the struggles of today's youth, while keeping it relevant to The Worst Witch series. I'm really excited for next spring and I look forward to seeing where the writers take Mildred on her adventures at Cackles Academy.

Ladyfair

First Wedding Anniversary

Our Elopement

I never got around to sharing photos of our elopement with my online friends or with you, my readers. Seeing as how our first year anniversary is on the horizon, now seems like the ideal time to share our story and pictures.

My husband and I eloped in the sunny town of Goderich (Ontario's prettiest city), but we actually eloped in three towns at once! Confused? Most people are after we tell them that. Officially we eloped in Clinton, we had photos taken in Goderich and we ate dinner in Bayfield. The reason for this is simple, we couldn't find everything we needed all in one place, but also because we liked the entire Huron County area and didn't mind splitting the celebration in three ways.

In the beginning...

We had always dreamed of marrying abroad in some place like the Bahamas but it wasn't in the stars (or our bank accounts). We had postponed our elopement three times before we finally managed to arrange it. I remember telling people, "we're getting married this August!" and then it wouldn't happen because of some unforeseen expense, or another life problem got in the way.

I finally hit my breaking point in 2016 when I realized I had put on weight, my hair was falling out and I was approaching my late 20's. This followed a dangerous hysterectomy the year before, I wasn't sure if I was going through menopause or what and I feared that if we waited any longer I'd be bald and too fat to fit into my wedding dress. My fiancé consented and we began planning an alternative to our dream elopement.

I knew that I had to make this elopement special. Since we lost out on our dreams of pink sand beaches and feeding wild pigs, I had to come up with a way to make our elopement fun and just as beautiful as the Bahamas. It wasn't easy, but somehow, miraculously, it all came together on the big day.

The ultimate plan was to have a tea party in a garden, which turned into a photo set, which turned into an Alice in Wonderland tea party themed photo set! The plans just kept growing and changing until it came out as this polished, beautiful elopement.


As per my husband's request, I kept the theme subtle and very adult, no tissue paper flowers or oversized mushrooms. I used simple and sweet decor items. I remember people would ask me, "what are your wedding colours?" And I would say "all of them" because we were working with damn near every colour in the rainbow. Literally, my colour scheme for my wedding was floral.

The Process

I scrambled to get everything together three months before the elopement. The rings, the legal documents, and the restaurant and B&B bookings were first on the list. Then I began accumulating decor for the photo set, much of which could be used later on, like candle sticks, a patio bistro set, a large vase, or plates. I kept almost everything from our elopement, in fact the chandelier from our photo set hangs in my sewing room. The only exception was an adorable little pink nightstand that we returned to HomeSense the very next day... I know it sounds bad, but if you're eloping on a tight budget and you need decor or photo props, this is an ingenious solution. Just be clean and gentle with whatever you "borrow" and get it back to the store within the return policy time frame...
but you didn't hear any of this from me.

I am a super frugal bride. I bought my wedding dress for $60, dry cleaned it for $300 and sewed on $40 worth of Swarovski crystals by hand. It was pure fate that the wedding dress was my exact size and everything I had ever dreamed of. Like my best mate said, it's a poofy princess dress, it's fun, it makes a statement and it suits me. I got my shoes off of Amazon, they were my "something blue" and after working with the brand that makes them I got a good deal on the price. My hair is a combination between a bun form and a hairpiece from a brand called Hairuwear - unfortunately their product has changed since Simpson and Paves came along, but if you can find their old stuff (usually in a gray box) I strongly encourage that you buy it! I might talk about this more later on in the blog, it works really well if you have thin or thinning hair. I only paid about $25 for my hair to be put up because I lied and said it was for a family portrait! I spent almost $300 on makeup, but I did it myself. It would've cost the same to have someone apply my makeup and I would rather keep the makeup afterwards, so this was the best choice. I still have my eye shadow, blush and concealers, which I use often, so yes, it was totally worth doing. I also saved money by making my own flower arrangements for the photo set, the lady at Zehr's gave me great deals after she learned it was my wedding day! :)


The Big Day


We held the ceremony and legally eloped at the town hall in Clinton. After that was over we drove back to Goderich to the Colborne B&B, where I showered before getting back into my wedding dress, then we proceeded to assemble the photo set with the help of our awesome photographer, Heather Dietz. We packed up the set after a few hours of photographs and headed to Bayfield for a private dinner at The Little Inn of Bayfield. Unbeknownst to us, they had surrounded our table with tealights and there was a big beautiful flower bouquet in red and purple by the window - it was awesome! Finally, we finished at the Bayfield town hall, our back up rental in case it rained, where we had our first dance together, alone.

During the photo shoot the resident cat photobombed a few of our pictures (see if you can spot him in one of these). We actually found this to be very touching. Originally we had intended to include chalk board signs with the names of each of our cats but because we switched to having the photo set at the front of the B&B I had to cut out a number of decor items, this included seven or so additional vases and a large bolt of purple and white ombre fabric. Their cat looks like a long haired version of my boy Spencer, who I recently lost to old age. I am ecstatic to have him in my photos because it felt like this Cheshire cat represented all of my fur babies. I always knew that I wanted a cat to be present on my wedding day!


Conclusion

It was an exhausting night. If I did it again, which I hope I never have to, I would have preferred to spend more time at our tea party. The set was up and down in a total of three hours, which is a damn shame because it looked freaking adorable.

We have so much gratitude for John and Suzanne (the B&B owners) and Heather for their efforts. It wouldn't have been a success without them. Also thanks to Luann's Flowers for my gorgeous bouquet that almost brought me to tears when I first saw it, and The Little Inn for going that extra mile to make our wedding dinner special, and The Pink Flamingo Bakery in Bayfield who made our delicious cupcakes!

I hope you enjoyed our story!
Ladyfair

Vertical Herb Garden

Our DIY Vertical Garden Planter

My husband and I have been renting for the last three years. In the past we have struggled with developing and maintaining a garden that both suits our needs and complies with the condo board's rules and regulations. As outlined in our lease, we are not allowed to drill holes into the structure, i.e. the brick walls of the condo or our wood deck. There will be no hanging planters or flower boxes at this house, which is a real drag considering our deck is so tiny and abysmal in appearance. As a result, I have had to get creative with how we approach gardening.

Our initial condo garden attempts involved a series of pots and flower boxes, all of which sat on the floor of the deck as we couldn't hang them anywhere. This created unnecessary clutter and made the deck space look kind of garish and student-y. I swore that this year would be different. I didn't care how we'd do it, all I knew is that I wanted that damn collection of herbs and flowers up off the deck floor and into something more visually appealing and functional. We managed to plant all the flowers into a large planter to match our Fuji shrub, but that left the herb boxes unattended to. We couldn't leave them by the door, it wasn't practical and it wasn't helping our problem with clutter. That's when an idea struck me and the first "Husband & Wife Project" was born!

 How we made our vertical garden planter

The idea for this planter came about when I was out for a walk with my mum. I spotted an old storm door at the curbside with a "free" sign taped to the front of it. I knew at an instant that I had to have it. I figured I'd use it in the garden as a kind of shabby chic decor item but I wasn't sure how I would incorporate my plants. I mulled it over for a few days and I finally figured out a way to combine the herb box and the storm door as one functional piece.

The construction seems simple but it took a lot of trial and error! We screwed up the table at least twice before getting it just right.

We began by repairing any damage done to the door. The moldings had broken in several areas and there were a handful of holes and scratches that needed to be filled with woody putty. We also removed the hardware and the screen frames (but kept them for future use). We removed and threw out the old mesh screen. After allowing the putty to cure for a 24 hour period, I sanded the door using an orbital and detail sander. The small spindles and moldings were sanded by hand.

Next, we focused on creating a custom made half table to attach to the front of the door. The table is not only decorative, it allows the planter to stand upright without it tipping over. This was the most visually appealing and practical way to have the door standing upright, and it utilized the least amount of space. Our first attempts involved screwing the table together, but after trial and error we resorted to using dowels, glue and clamps - it takes longer but it's 100% worth the hassle.

The table is constructed out of a pine plank cut down to size, and two wooden stairway spindles. I had to cut the spindles down a little, and we used a spade drill bit to sink them into the table top. We allowed the table ample drying time and I puttied any dents or scratches that had occurred along the way.

We painted all of the components separately using Behr's all in one paint and primer (exterior/interior) paint, in the colour Roulette. I've used this paint on a dresser and it worked perfectly, but for whatever reason with this project it took THREE coats and it still was too thin. Eventually we gave up and settled for the washed look, in person you can see wood grain and knots but as my husband notes it only adds to the shabby chic aesthetic!

Once we let the paint cure we assembled the planter, first by inserting a cut piece of ½" galvanized garden fencing into the top screen frame. We screwed the locking mechanisms back in place. Then we attached the table to the front of the door, ensuring that it was level. Finally I hung several tin pots from the screen using ball chain (s-hooks would've been preferable but they weren't big enough for the pots' handles).

 Conclusion

We are ecstatic with our new vertical garden planter. I'm happy that I'm no longer tripping over the old herb box, we can get to our herbs quickly and easily, and with the addition of a handful of flowers the herb garden is bright and fun! It makes our deck space more inviting.

I want to note that although sites like Pinterest make re-purposing and DIY projects look super cool it's important to remember that by no means are these projects cheap or easy! Our vertical planter has probably cost us in the neighborhood of $200 CAD. We are very fortunate to already own most of the tools, like the drill and bits, scroll saw and wood putty. We did have to purchase a new orbital sander, a set of clamps, and a dowel peg set. The fact that we got the storm door for free was a huge bonus. I hesitate to imagine what it would've cost otherwise. Sometimes it helps to do some budgeting before you endeavor to try something out, otherwise you may have found that you've bitten off more than you can chew!

Best wishes,
Ladyfair

Halloween in July

Halloween Decorations are Emerging...

And so are all the little witches and goblins who adore Halloween so much! It's that time of year already, my blog feed is all lit up with new Halloween decor finds. We usually don't see decorations until August but some online retailers have released their 2017 stock early. It's exciting to see and there are a lot of products that I'd love to buy.

I've been feeling really torn about what to do for Halloween this year. Last Halloween was rather disappointing. Despite many houses putting up decor last year, we saw a scant twenty something children trick or treating. By the end of the night I was piling candy into bags just to get it out of my house. It's a far cry from the one hundred kids that we used to get on Halloween night. While I am grateful that we at least had some trick or treaters, it left me questioning what next year would bring, and whether it would be worth the effort to hand out candy again.

I've mulled over various ideas, like handing out candy at my grandmother's house, going to an adult event like a dance party, or travelling to some place interesting, but I still don't know for sure. Most cities will not post events that many months in advance, so I guess I won't know what to do until September comes. For now I get to drool over all the new Halloween inventory coming out.


Clearly I prefer a more Nu Goth inspired colour palette and At Home seems to be channeling that substyle with their signs, coffin boxes and doormats. What a perfect time to be a goth! I also really like that Michaels has used coral as one of their primary colours in their autumn decor schemes, I snapped a shot and posted it to instagram, here. While I probably can't afford to buy any of their fabulous pieces ($100 for a pumpkin?!) I'd love to incorporate their new colour scheme into my own decor. Of course traditional black and orange can't be beat, as Grandin Road yet again proves with their dancing trees and party serving ware.


I'm getting a great deal of inspiration for my Halloween craft and home decor projects. Even if I won't be handing out candy, nothing is going to stop me from celebrating Halloween in my own special way!

Have you seen any great Halloween finds?

Best,
Ladyfair

Vacation in June


Early Summer Vacation

Warning: Picture heavy post. Those of you who know me through other social media accounts will already know that I've returned from my early summer vacation. I had meant to post about it sooner but I came home to an exhausting list of problems in regards to both family and business. As a result, I didn't get to launch my 150th Canada Day inspired figurines! All I can say is never EVER order from Staples Business Depot. It's laughable that a company that specializes in business supplies can be so disorderly and bad at business. I won't be opening up shop until later now, as my shipping supplies are on back order. Thankfully my Canadiana figurines aren't specific to Canada Day alone, they can still sell as individual pieces, so they will be posted when the shop opens.

I went away on an impromptu vacation for two weeks time. This year I went on vacation by myself. I had planned to go up with my parents but they couldn't get things together, so I packed my things and asked my husband to drive me to the campgrounds. Everyone kept asking me, "won't you be lonely? won't you be bored?" Not in the least! I guess you could say that I'm introverted. I like to be on my own, reading books, taking strolls in the countryside, or fishing. I can do these things with other people, of course, but there's something about alone time that is so necessary. I feel as though we seldom get that kind of opportunity in the Western world, the opportunity to unplug and detach ourselves from everyone. To get real alone time is scarce and I am very fortunate to have that option available to me.

During my vacation I did a number of things. I wrote scripts, doodled, worked on my art, fished a number of times, hiked the back roads, watched movies and terrible TV shows, played video games, and I even tried to bake a gluten free short cake (which ended miserably!). One of my fondest memories from my vacation was when I went out for a stroll in the late evening, a fierce thunderstorm had rolled in. I love thunderstorms! I went back to the trailer where I was staying and I brought out an apple spiced candle. I lit it and set it on the coffee table under the sheltered porch and saddled up with my laptop to work on a short story. There was lightning and heavy rain, and the wind howled through the treetops. It was one of those hot and humid summer nights. It felt amazing. There's nothing like writing with the perfect weather to inspire you.

During the week, on a sunny day, I decided to go for a hike on one of the back roads. There's nothing but country and woods surrounding the campgrounds, so I figured it'd be fun to explore the area. I'm always looking for abandoned houses, don't ask me why, it's just a weird fetish I guess. I got roughly a full city block away from camp, when I stopped in front of an opening in the woods. At least it looked like an opening. It appeared to be a driveway but there were trees down all around it. It looked as though nobody had passed through it in ages. There were also no signs or markers to indicate whether it was a residential property or not. I felt as though I was being sucked into it, so with all my courage I followed the path, and what should I find? An eerie old abandoned hunting cabin!


I assume it was a hunting cabin because it was painted green, like the surrounding fir trees. The roof shingles and the siding were all green. There were marked splashes of red paint in the interior. The roof had caved in and there was nothing of interest inside. My guess is that the former owners took whatever they needed with them. There were a few beer cans scattered around the base, but there was nothing of real interest. I felt compelled to go deeper into the surrounding woods but being on my own it just didn't seem safe. The cabin was only a few minutes in from the road, any further than that and I'd be putting myself at risk of danger with wildlife or hunters. So I snapped a few pictures and happily went on my way. Directly up the road there was another section of old abandoned farm property. I didn't get photos but there were small wooden structures, like old chicken coops or bee hives? They were hidden among some cedar trees. Maybe someone from a rural, farming community might know what I'm talking about.

After the first week away, my husband came up to visit me for a day (to help replenish my groceries). We went to the Falls Reserve Conservation Area, a park with a campground and a handful of hiking trails. When we got there we had noticed that the water was running dangerously high. We've had an unnatural degree of rainfall for this time of year in both Midwestern and Southern Ontario. This has caused the water levels to rise, and everywhere the water is dark and muddy. I noticed this at a small stream by the park where I was staying but I had no idea as to the enormity of the situation until we saw the river. The lady at the front desk where you check into the park had mentioned the longer trail might be flooded out, so she cautioned to leave the trail if we saw water. It was a very nerve-wracking hike. At some points on the trail the water was a mere three feet away and it was rushing rapidly. Eventually we did come to a point in the trail where it had been engulfed by the river and we had to turn back, but not without snapping a few photos along the way.

Below are areas where the trail meets the water, and flood plains. Note the mature trees and grass where you normally would be able to walk, and the white caps in the river.


I saw a variety of mushrooms and butterflies but nothing in the way of wildlife. My husband saw some sort of bird, like a pheasant, and we heard a heron croaking (they sound awful). Sadly there were no river otters or beavers but they probably don't care for the river being so high. We'll have to return again when the water is low and we can hike the full length of the trail. It'd be nice to make a campfire and have a picnic there. It's a wonderful park, if you're in the area I recommend that you check it out.

After that I spent a few more days on my own, crafting and fishing, and finally my folks came up for one last day with me. I went to Bayfield, enjoyed cupcakes and visited their gorgeous art gallery. I only wish that I had more money to spend there! It's a lovely little town full of culture. And equally so, Goderich has some wonderful people. Hubby and I ate at the Irish pub across from the Town Hall, and we had ice cream in the square (or octagon? Their downtown is a weird shape). It was fun to see all the houses decorated for Canada day, it was certainly more patriotism than I've ever seen in preceding years. My hope is that perhaps Canada's 150th may have planted a seed in Canadians minds, to take pride in our heritage and culture, and not wait around for the 200th birthday to make it special again. It seems odd that because we've reached a milestone we should make a greater effort, this has been a tremendous economic boost for us and we should keep it going.

I'm happy to be home with my husband and cats, but I feel a deep longing for the woods, the song birds and the tranquility of the countryside. I always dream of the "some day" that involves us living off the grid; a hobby farm with sheep and an art shack in the back. I suppose like everything we'll have to wait and see.

What are you doing for your summer vacation? See any great sights as of late?

Best,
Ladyfair

Happy Summer!

Black Petunias

Happy summer, friends! I know it's one day early but I won't have much of an internet connection tomorrow!  I thought I'd share a snapshot from the patio garden of my beloved black petunias. The garden is bursting forth with life; my strawberries are beginning to ripen and the roses will be sprouting buds soon enough. I've been patiently waiting for the weather to improve so that I may share my new DIY garden planter on here, but the humidity and rain have made it impossible to paint. Today is the first day in weeks where it hasn't been hot and sticky, it's quite the contrary, I'm wearing woolen socks because I can't get warm! I believe we dipped down to around 14°C this morning, that doesn't sound like much but after enduring a 40° humidex for three weeks it's like a slap in the face. I'll be heading out on a brief vacation soon and my hope is that the weather falls somewhere in between.

 Update

Aside from sanding and prepping furniture for paint, I've been working away at the fall inventory. I'm sculpting two Canadian inspired pieces for the 150th birthday celebration. I will announce their release upon completion. My hope is to place them in a brick and mortar gift shop but I'm having difficulty finding shopkeepers that are interested in showcasing local art. I will keep any of my art followers updated on this adventure, my plan is to have a small collection available in a gift shop in Southern Ontario in addition to my online presence on Etsy. 

Currently I am focusing my efforts into a series of vintage inspired soft body dolls for Halloween, and a collection of harvest themed figurines. The goal is to have these characters completed by the end of July, when I'll begin my Christmas and winter themed projects. I also have some penny rug tutorials in the works but they've been placed on hiatus. It may seem odd to be working on these holidays so far in advance but if you've ever worked in retail you probably understand completely. The words "Christmas in July" have never made more sense to me than they do now lol.

I have three pieces ready to be placed on Etsy, the shop is currently in vacation or "re-branding" mode, but this should change in the coming weeks. I will announce it's re-opening here on the blog, so stay tuned!

 Summer Plans

Whenever I've caught a moment to myself I've either been reading or sewing (as much as my fibromyaglia will allow me to). I recently read The Help, a book and film that I strongly recommend if you can overlook the fact that it's a fictional story. I have recently ordered the book that inspired author Kathryn Stockett to write The Help, and I'm greatly looking forward to reading it over the summer months. It details personal accounts from black domestic workers working for southern women during the early 21st century. Despite being a scrawny Caucasian girl from an English/Irish family, black history and civil rights has always been something that interests me. I'll be sure to share some excerpts from that book with you, my readers.

As for sewing, I've already completed two vintage tops, one I love and the other ...not so much. It's funny how you can envision a project being completed and then once finished it looks different than expected, this is exactly what happened with a vintage blouse I made. It's a fitted buttoned down blouse with a wide, contrasting collar. It epitomizes 1960's style, and it looked great in the muslin but the final project was nothing spectacular. Perhaps it was the fabric I used? I thought cotton of all materials would be reliable and as close to muslin as it gets. Go figure, the second top, a 1940's loose fitting drawstring top made out of a fussy eyelet Georgette, was far more successful. I suppose simpler is better? It's not like you could have many fit issues with a gathered rectangle lol. I'll be sharing both pattern reviews on this blog shortly.

Other than that, I have plans to sew dresses from crepe and rayon. After purging my closet I am in desperate need of summer friendly clothing, so it's my goal to replenish and reinvent my summer wardrobe. For now it's fishing and drawing, then back to work until the weekend.

What are your summer plans?

Best wishes!

Ladyfair

Ladyfair Folk Art


Introduction

Greetings! Welcome to the Ladyfair Folk Art blog. If you haven't already, I encourage you to visit the about page of my blog to become better acquainted with me. I am an artist and this blog chronicles both my artistic progress as well as my hobbies. First, let's go over a few questions that you might have!

What is folk art?
Folk art by definition is art crafted by "tradespeople", it is art for the people by the people. Oftentimes, in painting, it lacks technical skills like proportion, the application of colour theory or the use of perspective. Anyone can create folk art but not everyone can create fine art. I could bore you to tears by explaining the difference and how confusing it becomes when folk art, something formerly regarded as kistch, becomes fine art simply because some elitist art collector or curator acknowledges it as such, but I won't. Folk art means a lot of different things to different people and in no way is it "easy art". I sometimes get the feeling that people disregard folk art as being too paint by numbers, but it can and often does require a significant amount of artistic skill. The only difference between folk art and fine art, in my opinion, is that folk art isn't trying to say anything political, it's not asking big questions about life or society, it's just for decoration. You're meant to buy it, hang it on your wall and go "oooh" whenever you look at it. In other words: folk art is awesome.

Folk art has its own place in the art world, caught in between hobbyist art and fine art. At its core it is culturally significant. In some countries folk art has become a means to share stories and catalog major life events or to celebrate and pass down cultural traditions. It is both purposeful and utilitarian. Folk art can manifest in a variety of mediums ranging from basket weaving to tapestry, doll making, tatting, to painting or sculpting. There are literally hundreds of different forms of folk art to be found in the world.


What are the differences between primitives and folk art?
Primitives or prims are words that get thrown around a lot in the folk art community. It appears that some generations associate the word "primitive" strictly with antiques but this is actually incorrect. Primitive is an artistic style or method, it means that something is created using primitive techniques or it is made to look that way. Anything primitive is inherently folk art due to the fact that it is utilitarian and hand crafted. Some artists choose to refer to their work as folk art or as primitive and some, like me, use them interchangeably. Similarly, the word "antiquated" can been employed to describe a piece that is old fashioned but it should not be confused with "antique" which would mean a collectible piece that is more than 100 years old!

In my art I use the words folk art and primitive to describe my work. Folk art is a much broader term and can encapsulate a variety of techniques and mediums. You can make folk art with newer mediums, like photo collage, but this would not fall under the label of primitive. Instead, the word primitive refers to a style that is strictly old-fashioned. You will often see primitive dolls or figurines that have been aged to look as though they're much older than they actually are. Artists like me enjoy creating a sense of history in their work and fashion pieces reminiscent of a bygone era. I tend to gravitate towards folk art styles that were prominent in the 40's and 50's.


What kind of artwork do you make?
I make figurines and art dolls using mixed media. I use a combination of my skills to create my folk art. Sewing has always been my bread and butter and I employ this skill with various techniques to create my art dolls. I like to hand craft the doll heads and limbs out of clay and draft their soft form bodies out of fabric. I eventually transitioned into fashioning figurines out of clay and wood, which has become my preferred medium. 


Why holiday themed folk art?
I am not limited to holidays alone, I like to make seasonal folk art as well. I grew up in a household where family was very important and the holidays were often boisterous and grand occasions. It was one of our traditions to dress the house up for Christmas and once I got older we would do the same for Halloween. I have grown very fond of home decorating and I'm passionate about creating items that can be used to adorn the home for the holidays, hence why I make holiday themed folk art!


Where can I buy your folk art?
Currently my folk art is only available for purchase through my Etsy shop: Ladyfair Folk Art. If you have additional questions regarding my art, I encourage you to read through the shop policies and look at the FAQ section.

Additional Notes:

If you have any additional questions that I haven't answered in my shop policies, about page or this introduction, please feel free to contact me at the link in the right side bar or the nav bar above. All images contained in my blog are copyright protected, please do not share them without my permission. I encourage conversation in the comment portion of every post but all comments are moderated for spam, profanity and self promotion. There may be delays before comments appear published on this site.

I hope that you enjoy my blog.
Thanks for reading!

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