18 March 2018


Not a heck of a lot of stitching went on this week, since I was trying to get the house put back to order before starting work. We did, however, take some time to get the kids' picture taken with the Easter bunny, since I don't know what my schedule will be for the next few weeks. K was quite happy to visit the bunny, but her brother wanted no part of it.

I have no idea what bothered him, except he was tired. His stroller is in the back of our truck, which is at the repair shop, getting the transmission replaced. We just had the flipping thing rebuilt last spring, and it went out at the end of February. At least, when it broke, it was NOT when the kids and I were in the car. And it did have a warranty. So . . . but that is not helpful when you are trying to corral a rowdy toddler at the mall on a Saturday afternoon. He was full of energy. But that bunny . . . oh my. He cried for another 45 minutes after we got out of the center court--I had to calm him down with an onion ring.

I start my job tomorrow. I'm so nervous, and, to be honest, upset. It's not that I don't think I can do this job, because I know I can do it. It's the change. And I have had so much unwanted change in the last year or so. It's all taken a toll on me that doesn't seem to heal. I got to thinking and I want the life I had in 2015 back. I was happy, we had a good income, I thought I could conquer the world. Now I don't know who I am, or what I want to be. Logan is the only really good thing that happened since then, but even that took so much from me. And I sometimes think I'll never get back to being OK, and that scares me, because I have these two wonderful little people who depend on me, and I don't want them to grow up remembering this version of me. I don't like her. I just don't really know how to get rid of her. I've spent the last few months praying to not be one of those people that falls through the cracks. I even felt the need a few nights ago to wish on a shooting star. We'll see how  that works out. I'm going to do the best job, and use this time to see if this is really what I want to do.

I am sorry to be a downer. It's just one of those days . . . I have been crying a lot lately. More lately than before.

08 March 2018

Is it March already

February actually ended up being kind of a bust stitching wise. My depression at the job hunt took over for most of the month, despite my best efforts, and I spent a lot of time in bed. Job hunting is hard. And frustrating. I spent 11 years as a insurance underwriter, a very good underwriter, and I only last week got a response for an interview I had in January for a 16 hour a week job at the bank I use; they didn't offer me the position. I did get a job at a theatre in Baltimore, though. I just found that out last week. I'm nervous. I have never attempted to do any theatre job full-time, and I'm not sure how well I will do, but I am going to try. I am grateful to have a job with benefits and want to do my best to justify my hiring.

Anyway, I did get a project finish last month.  The little kitten mitten is done. I love the vibrance of the blue of the mitten on that crisp white fabric--remember, it's not the called-for floss, but I just loved how it looked at my LNS.
Snowflake Kitten Mitten
Cross Eyed Cricket
14 count aida with mostly called for threads and RG Splendor
I'm planning on finishing this. I know I say this a lot, but I think my non-stitching time this year will be used for finishing. I just bought some finishing boards, and think I can probably spend some time getting it done. 

This is my progress on Summer Ball. Everything from the guy's sleeve over is new for this month. I realized I don't like stitching all the men on this piece. Lots of complex shading. The women are easy to do, at least everyone but the yellow lady! I think there are only 3 men in this section, though:
Summer Ball
Sandy Littlejohns for Cross Stitch Collection
stitched on 32 count Jobelan with  Anchor threads
And this happened. My theatre is putting on a very different, amazingly beautiful show about the effect of suicidal depression on the family. It's a lot of audience involvement, and the actor often goes up in the audience. The entire box office staff attended the dress rehearsal, where the theatre's photographer takes the promo photos. We ended up in the photo they used in the review for the Washington Post. And who ended up in the middle of the picture, but ME (I'm the redhead in the wild shirt.)!  Luckily I had dyed my hair that day and did my makeup. It's not a bad picture; I think I was on the verge of laughing, but at least I don't look awkward!
I hope everyone has a good week.

25 February 2018

This week

My stitchy bug left me this week. I was pretty busy for someone who doesn't have a full-time job, so that is probably part of it. But I just didn't feel like working on Summer Ball.

Monday, the kids were both off school. Stitching with a very curious 17 month old is basically impossible, so I spent a lot of the day playing with them. I also met with my career transition counselor, who had some good ideas to refocus attention on me. I am hopeful those will start panning out.

One of the career paths people suggested to me when they found out I was losing my job was to work for the post office. I've taken the personality part of the test more than once and passed, but never had the time or courage to take the 473 exam. It's the most competitive exam for the federal government and 80-90% of people fail. If you fail, you can't retake the test for 6 months, so I had been putting it off because I would rather not try than fail sometimes. But, I need to start being brave. Cowardice is a luxury my family can not afford, same as pride, so I signed up to take the test. Tuesday was the big day. It was gorgeous out, but my test site was in Hagerstown, roughly 2 hours from the house, so I got started on my way right after getting the kids off to school. My truck might have been built to conquer the desert, it was not, however, meant to climb the Alleghany Mountains, plus I got wonky gas and the CEL came on (quite frustrating when I JUST SPENT $650 to get the thing turned off for another problem), so I was all in a dither when I got to the testing center, then spent 20 minutes circling the block, looking for the right parking lot spaces.

That test was so hard. I won't go into detail, just google "practice postal service exam" to see what it's like. I did my very best to follow the guidance that some of the YouTube videos (because there are YouTube videos for everything) had given: take your time, check your work when you can, and use the time you are given to memorize, even if you don't want to. And I gave myself a pep talk. Because I am smart enough to pass the test and my kids need me to take care of them. I need me to take care of me. But, being a realist, knowing how many people fail, I called my mom and told her not to get her hopes up. The nice thing is, you know within an hour if you passed or failed, so, after stopping at AC Moore to get some floss, I checked my email.

Y'all . . . .

I passed!

A 70 passes, but you need about a 76 to get an interview. I got higher than that. So I am applying for any close position. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I had two other job-search related activities this week. One interview and another test, closer. It wasn't as hard. I got a 95% on that one. Which I am fine either way with. And, knock on wood, the CEL went off when I put different gas in. The truck was running OK even with it on, I just don't like looking at it.

Friday, I started this little piece, just to get another finish. This is the Snowflake Kitten Mitten freebie, from CEC. I subbed out the aquas for Splendor and a metallic from Rainbow Gallery. I love the Splendor, but the Neon Rays doesn't work on 14 count. Poop! It looks good and it's finishing up SUPER QUICK. It feels smaller than the other mittens, but that can't be true, but maybe it just is fun to stitch and that is making a difference to me.

Hopefully I can get this done tonight. I really would like to get myself disciplined enough to sit down and spend a day just finishing stuff, but it's hard. There is always something that needs doing: dishes, laundry, trying to clean up small pieces or toys before someone steps on them (Left-brain stepped on a Little People figure of Lolo's a couple weeks ago and nearly fainted from pain--I told him Shopkins hurt way worse.
So that is all that is going on here. I hope everyone is having a great week.  

19 February 2018

My literary weekend

It was an interesting weekend here in Crazyville. Not a lot of stitching was done, but I added to my book collection!

I took another trip to A Book Thing on Saturday morning. They were calling for 3-6 inches of snow and I wanted to get there early, so that I could get to work on time and not be trying to drive in bad weather. I am driving my husband's H3 now, because my car has developed major issues and I am not driving the kids around in that anymore, but just because it has 4WD and looks like it could fight a war doesn't mean  I should be skidding around on ice in it!

It's so easy to get to, but parking is a pain(I know, stop complaining about the parking to get free books, RACHEL!). Last time, I could park on Greenmount Avenue (right by the shop), but Saturday, I had to park a block over and walk through an alley to get to the store. Usually, I would not walk through an alley in a city, even the county seat here (especially not our county seat), but it didn't look unsafe and there weren't a lot of places for someone to hide, so I took the chance. And saved myself some walking.

I will have to post a picture of my haul later, but I got a bunch of books off my Amazon wishlist, and some other books that may be interesting companions to things I have just read. I wish I had a lot of time to look around, because they have a lot of books, even recent releases. I have really gotten into Anne Tyler lately, because she sets her books in Baltimore and she is a master of capturing the city. When I read "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant," I just pictured the neighborhood it was set in and . . . pretty sure it's right near A Book Thing. I also found a nice copy of Widow of the South, which is a great book from 2006 or so, based on a true story. I think I ended up with 40 books or so--if you can, imagine me hauling myself through an alley with an enormous Disney Store totebag over my shoulder and my arms full of books!

It started snowing at about 2. One of the things I love about my job is that they understand I live in the back of beyond and need to be able to get home safely, so, as we are watching all this snow come down and beginning to accumulate, I made the choice to come home. It wasn't as bad up here while I was coming home, but we did end up with 2 or three inches and it was cold enough to freeze. So I settled up for a nice home, home with my family. And my new books!

Yesterday, I did the coolest thing. I live in a really rural county, but whoever is in charge of our library system schedules THE BEST programs. In October, they had someone from the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore (which is also the Maryland State Archives) come out and do a program on Edgar Allen Poe, and they always have REALLY GOOD authors come through for readings and book signings. A couple years ago, Wally Lamb came. He is my favorite living author (in case you're wondering, Pat Conroy is my all-time favorite), and I ended up crying in front of him while telling him how much I loved The Hour I First Believed.

Anyway, yesterday was Andrew Morton with his new biography about Wallis Simpson. I have read pretty much all of his books and really liked them. He was very nice in person. I have all my signed books personalized to my kids and he enquired after K's name. HOW COOL!  He discussed Wallis' life and even told us she spent time at a relative's farm out in this area.

I have already started on the book. It's really good so far. Easy to read and interesting. I will let you know how it turns out.

12 February 2018

FInish #2 for the year

I have another finish. It looks odd to see only two finishes at the mid-point of February, but I know my reasons! Sorry for the bad picture!

 Love You Forever
Forever in My Heart Freebie
stitched on Monaco with Anchor floss of my choosing
I spent much of my past "vacation" week working on a cottage design by Victoria Sampler, but I had kitted up this sweet freebie the summer before last in two options, this one and one that is all blue and pink. At some point, it was a freebie on the Wichelt website, but not sure if it's still available.  I'm trying to be a more adventurous stitcher and not use only the called-for colors, and I think this is one that could easily be altered to fit the recipient. At least this colorway worked out well. I plan on doing this as a little door hanger for K to put on her bedroom door, but will also stitch it in the blues and pinks for her little brother. I think he will like it, even with it not being Mickey Mouse--Lolo LOVES Mickey Mouse!
Today I am back working on Summer Ball. I am trying not to be overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done. But at least I got about 50 stitchies in. LOL

10 February 2018

A Late 2017 Year in Review

Probably not worth the effort to do this in February,but . . . things are just taking a lot longer than I want them to, so why would this be different?  And that is OK, since I can't do anything about it anyway.

I had 31 finishes this year. I think, at this point, rather than list each finish individually, it would just work better if I posted the FB album I have them all listed in.  Mostly ornament-sized finishes.Typically, I would be annoyed with this, but having a newborn who had some issues took a lot of time, and I have been in a stress mode most of the year due to the way my job loss occurred. So any finish is something to celebrate! And I managed to make an ornament this year, a very sweet freebie I gave to Lolo's visiting nurse, Carrie, who was a saint to us all year.

I also participated in the Frosted Pumpkin year long SAL. This was a piece that taught me a lot. Mainly, I don't like SALs. Too much to keep track of and too much self-induced pressure to keep up. And I can be mean to myself. Way mean. So, even though the one they did this year is very cute, I am not doing it, and, to be really honest, I won't be stitching much more of their designs. They are cute, they are just not my thing.

One thing that did happen this fall that got me really thinking was the death of one of my stitch friends. She was older, but it was still sudden. And her amazing son gave my local stitching group as much of her stash as I could fit in my car (another thing I learned is that a Hummer H3 doesn't hold as much as one would think it should. even with the cargo area empty).  We have spent the past three months taking what we want, but finally the rest is going to charity. I got to wondering, what will happen when I pass? I mean, I had a very close call in October 2016, what would have happened had I not made it? what would my husband have done with my stash? Thrown it away, given it to my stitching group (picturing this in my head, he would have to rent a warehouse, take it there, and then take it home. Hmmm.) Should we have plans for our stash estates? And an executor? Is this unreasonable?

09 February 2018

Some January projects

Two posts from me in a month? Wow! I am trying to be more available. Searching for a job is draining, though. Lot of work without much reward.

So, Summer Ball, a 2006 design by Sandy Littlejohns, has been kicking around my UFO pile since the designs came out in Cross Stitch Collection. I really can't tell you why it remained in 1/6 completed status for almost 12 years, except that I find it very intimidating. But, I decided that it would be a focus piece for me this year, because it's bad enough that I have UFOs from my 20s, but I realized I'd be almost 66 when this gets completed if I stay on the same schedule, and I might be dead well before that. So I made it a priority.

This is my major work for the year. My plan is 3 weeks on, one weekend to work on something ornament sized, then work for three more weeks, ornament sized again. When I complete a section, I get a week off to do something else. I think this is very do-able, right? Not too much of an unbroken commitment?

Anyway, here is where I started in January:

And the middle section is complete. At least the stitching. The backstitch is still incomplete. I will do that when the whole thing is done, since there are French knots on Lizzie's dress and I don't want them smashed.  

Going by what this took, it will probably take 2-3 months for each section to be completed. Not that bad. It's a fairly detailed design with lots of fractionals, but I think there at less people on the side sections. That yellow dress took forever: 5 shades of yellow in it!
I also worked on this lovely little piece. It was a freebie by Gazette44 (I think). They did a series of 4 seasonal pieces, which includes a bunny, seagull and squirrel. I have the others kitted up, but did this one to go on my Peace of the Wild Things tree. The threads I used were DMC 3347 and a Threadworx. When I visualized this, it was in some browns, but I loved this Threadworx in the shop as soon as I saw it. So, initially, it was to be all the overdyed. And then I started it and realized that it would look a little too crazy if it were all that way, so picked out a pretty green and went with that. 
I love how it looks. The deer look a lot crisper than they would have looked in the overdyed.  And it's  not as "camo-y" looking. I want to do the other ones, but it looks like that will be summer before that gets done.
My daughter and I had a chance to go to A Book Thing in Baltimore this weekend. It is such a neat place with such a wonderful mission. People (myself included) donate unwanted books to what is, in the end, a FREE bookstore; you want a book, see if they have it, just don't resell it. Pass it on!  I love this place! We couldn't park right there, so it was a little walk, but we got some nice books. My daughter couldn't figure out how we got books and didn't have to pay for them. I just kept explaining that it wasn't a library and we got to keep them. We picked up a bunch of really nice books, some for her, a lot for my boss, who said, "Just bring what you think is interesting!"  LOL. Challenge accepted! If you are ever in Baltimore on a weekend, I highly recommend spending some time here. It's worth it. 

I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped--Frederick Perls