30 December 2008

2008: A Year in Review

Well, it's almost the end of the year. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, and SO's birthday. I got him XM radio for his birthday. He likes mine a lot, and I figure, he did want something he could take with him, and, if it's in the car, he can take it with him!

Personally, this was an up and down year. Lots of job stress, which I am still pretty up in the air about. I have that long commute, and it's not much fun to leave when the sun is rising and come home when it's setting, particularly when I am feeling like I am losing some of the passion I had once for it. I am praying that the New Year brings me some sort of peace or opportunity. Losing the car and having to start over did affect me. Because I like to do things so that others don't have to, it is NOT COOL to wake up to see your car totalled. There isn't a "sorry" for that one. And then to have to go through the stress of replacing it. Fortunately, God looks out for fools and children, and I came out of it OK. Just broke. It's been a transition to go from a, "If I can just get to May, I'll be paid off and I'll have this fairly nice car to ride around in" mindset to, "All I own of this car is two payments and the down money" and it don't help that they are putting all the cars on clearance, I could have a Charger for less than I paid for the Neon.

Stitching-wise, it's been a rough year. I didn't get as much time to stitch this year, and that's been hard. Stitching has been my release, and working two jobs to try to stay above water, and still have fun money, that's been hard on it. And it doesn't help that I didn't do as good at the fair as I wanted to do. I know it's not about winning, and third in the state is still third in the state. First is better. But all I can do is try harder next year. And hope I do better.

My goals for this new year are to, of course, get dyeing! I have no excuses anymore. And to work on some designs I have in my head. And to get ornaments for my tree.

29 December 2008

T'was the week after Christmas

and all through the house, Rachel was enjoying the holiday "stuff" without the hassle of deadlines, and working two jobs.

I've been off pretty much solid since Christmas Eve. I worked two hours on the 26th (I realized it took me longer to get back and forth to work than I was actually in the office, plus I scared the bejeezus out of SO by crawling back into the bed where he was napping, LOL), but other than that, I was off.

I had a nice holiday. I GOT MY SEWING MACHINE. Mom and Daddy bought it for me. SO was really pleased for me. The first thing he said was, "We need to get you a table for that!" I told him I can use the coffee table in the sewing room. Now I really have a SEWING ROOM. SO's mom and dad got me a gift card that burned a hole in my pocket so we went to Jo-ann's on Friday after I got home, and I bought 5 yards or so of fabric. For tuck pillows,and cubes! SO got me a necklace and a purse, along with a Tony Romo jersey. I had bought him the Demarcus Ware jersey, and funnily, we opened them at the same time (and those suckas still got their butts handed to them by Philly? Not to mention, the Baltimore station didn't even show the game, they had some funky sports talk show on. What is this about?). At least we looked like a couple, sitting there in our new jerseys, watching the Ravens. And he bought me a stereo for my sewing room. I will never leave that room, LOL. I also got a pair of slippers--we've christened them the elf shoes, and a fancy schmancy ort jar from my aunt.

We had some mixed success with our cooking endeavors. We decided we wanted a roast beef for Christmas Eve dinner. I went and picked out the roast. I had visions of a Nigella Lawson roast, pink and beautiful, yummy, very Christmassy. Let me say, if you want a cruddy piece of meat, send me to the store with instructions to pick it out. It looked gorgeous, but it was tough. Very tough, and chewy. I had gum that wasn't as chewy as that roast. I was bummed. I know, people were hungry, and that is nothing to really fuss about, but I want to be perfect, and that, my dears, was not perfect. The rolls went over much better. Blue cheese and butter are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. I was going to do Yorkshire puddings for dessert, too, but I just got too tired. Wrapping presents, and fighting roasts, and being Christmassy takes a lot out of a girl, so I curled up with some rolls. I also made a really easy fudge recipe, which I will share:

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 C milk chocolate or semi sweet chips
dash of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla

Melt in a saucepan the condensed milk, the salt, and the chocolate chips. Stir so that the chocolate doesn't burn. When melted together, take off the heat and add the vanilla. Stir. You can also add other things like nuts. Spread into a lined square pan. Let cool for 2 hours and cut.

SO loved this. He doesn't like fudge. Whoo hoo.

23 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Before everything gets really hectic around here, I wanted to take a moment to wish you, kind hearts and gentle readers, a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. Thank you for the gifts of your comments and the time you take to come to my corner of the blogosphere. Thank you for allowing me to go a little off course at times, and for letting me be a little fanciful.Hope to see you next year!

22 December 2008

i finally got to stitch

Woo hoo. Happy dance. Snoopy style!

I spent the last two nights at Mom's, because of work and a projected ice storm that did not occur. And I had to go pick up some stuff I had down there for SO. Mom wrapped his jersey, which I almost wish I had given him because Dallas got beaten by the Ravens. However, since we live in the Baltimore area, and they were playing the Ravens, at least he didn't have to upgrade to digital cable in order to watch it on the NFL network; he watched them get their butts handed to them by on the local station.

We did get the Christmas trees decorated. The ginormous tree is beautiful. My Charlie Brown tree doesn't look quite so horrible with the tiny ornaments on it along with my stitched ornaments. I have to put the ones my daddy made on there too, but I'll do that tonight.

Anyway, I decided I am not doing any non-Christmas stitching this week, and, since I've decided to remedy the lack of stitched ornaments on my tree by stitching them, I started Pam Kellogg's Blackwork Cat from the 2007 ornament issue. It seems to be going pretty good. I find with blackwork, there's a groove you have to get in to make it work and go quick, and, since it's been so long since I've done it, it took me til last night to get my rhythm. I am using WDW Amber for it, so it looks more like my Gussie. I hope to have it done by Christmas Eve, but I do have to wait til I can get the Mill Hill Treasures it needs to get it finished. Otherwise it's just a blackwork cat, not a Christmas blackwork cat.

One other thing, I was looking for warm winter clothes to wear. It's freezing here in the DC area, and I have had one Christmas sweater the whole season to wear. Very depressing. And I can't find the sweatshirt I love. So I started searching in boxes in the basement, and,not only did I find my winter clothes, I unearthed another bunch of stash. This is starting to be very troubling to me in a way I can't really understand. It was all stash that was running below the radar, like I knew I had bought it, but didn't know exactly where it was, but it wasn't like a frantic need to have it in my hot little hands. And I found it, but it was in with charts I didn't know I had. And that distresses me, maybe because I don't like owning stuff and not knowing I own it. I remembered when I bought it, a Nashville show sale or something like that, but I realized I was pretty depressed when I bought it, and it was one of those "need had nothing to do with it" excursions. Apparently in the early part of 2007, I had money to burn and no match to start it. Which makes me wonder, what other depressive, self-indulgent and equally expensive purchases am I going to unearth til I am done moving? I want this all, it's just starting to bug me that I spent all this money on this stuff . . .

19 December 2008

Stealth like a ninja

I finally got the rest of the charts that were in my car in the house last night. SO didn't get home til 8 last night and for once, I got home before him. A particular delight since I ended up making a wrong turn exploring an alternate route and ended up touring the backroads of the neighboring county. So I had to rush the boxes in the house and put them away. I can't make SO understand why I bought so much floss--he doesn't understand my hermit on the beach plan, and probably ain't open to the, "We're in a recession, I bought it for times like these" concept either. So it was probably good that he wasn't there to see me haul in a Target box full of charts and kits. We'll just keep that amongst ourselves, shall we? I should be set for a while. I keep finding SNN kits that I want to do, and it's like, "Ohhh, I can do this pretty quick." Of course I find it pathetic that I was a member for, uhh, 3 years, and only did maybe 4 or 5 of them. What was I thinking? I am doing the "fields" series as my New Year project, and passing the charts on to Suzanne. That is my goal.

It's a gloomy day here in Maryland. Dark and foggy and rainy. At least it's not ice. I was quite tentative stepping out of the house this morning, because I live in fear of black ice and don't particularly relish the thought of falling, breaking something important, and then having to lie there on the front stoop til SO comes out. Anyway, they are calling for ice on Sunday, hopefully not til I get off work at the theatre. Cross your fingers on that one. I put my little ornament from the exchange on my Charlie Brown tree, so I am at 4 on there, now. When I get the ornaments I made for the fair on there, it'll be 6. Kinda shabby there, LOL. I have to get making more ornaments. That's my project for 2008, an ornament a month. I found a little bird chart in an ornament issue I could do pretty quick. It would be good to do that and sew it up into a little bird shape.Then I would have to decide if I want feet on it, a running joke in my family because my grandmothers were competitive. One was crafty, one was a worker. The crafty one made a bird ornament one year and everyone oohed and ahhhed over it. The worker one didn't particularly like the crafty one, so she decided she would make a bird, but hers would be better because it would have feet. She was so proud of that footed bird, LOL.

17 December 2008

OK, I think I have my solution to my rut

I'm still moving stash from Mom's house to SO's. SO seriously had no idea how much I had, so I am sneaky. We're on a budget for now, but he said it was OK to buy fabric if I needed it. I am short on colored fabric, so this is good. Anyway, side note . . .

One of my new "brings" were the charts for my Britter Critter quilt. I started collecting the charts by Brittercup to make a quilt a couple years ago. I had this vision of it in all different counts of aida, and doing it like a crazy quilt. Keep in mind, I don't quilt, but I'm hopeful. I started actually doing the squares in 2006, but they got put aside last winter. I don't know why, I'd done like 4 of them. It was moving fast, I was starting to gather fabric to do the blocks, and then I put it aside.

Anyway, I pulled it out today and was looking. I could do these, at least til I get out of my rut. The completed squares look really nice.

15 December 2008

Not much stitching occurring

I must be in a full on rut. Seriously.

I would rather read than stitch right now. That's wierd for me. Usually I read in bed, not any other time. Lately, I've just been reading to beat the band. I finished Atonement on Saturday night. I don't know if I liked it. I can't really say definitively yes or no.

We have our Christmas tree. 9 1/2 feet (I know, HUGE!). We cut it down Saturday. Our ornaments should look really nice on it. I knew we were getting a big tree when SO took one look at the available trees and said, "Well, it doesn't have to go in front of the window." So we'll end up relocating the living room furniture for this to fit, but it will be beautiful with our little presents around it. But it was kinda tiring to traipse around the tree farm for a good 3 hours. I came home and took a nap.

I got my Secret Sister present from Angela. 2 skeins of linen floss. 2 charts of cats and dogs, a piece of fabric, and some YUMMY Dove chocolates. Robbie watched me opened it with great approval! He thought his Secret Aunty did a good job.

12 December 2008

Moving has been a wonderful thing

I realized this morning while carrying yet another box of stash out of my mom's house that it's great that I moved. Mainly because I get to be with SO all the time now, and I try to take care of him--I feel so homemaker-y the other night after baking cookies and making grilled chicken for him, LOL--but also because I am able to have all my stash neatly organized, and I am getting to see and touch my stash, when I usually couldn't. It was all in boxes, stacked up, unorganized, magazines mixed in with charts in with freebies, a little fabric, like the 800 pound gorilla in the corner. Now, it's a pleasure. I still have some work to do, but my magazines are in one place, unfiled charts in one, fabric in a tote. It's calming. And, honestly, that alone really has soothed my need to buy stash. Even if I was buying. I am having so much fun just looking through what I have. It's been a pleasure. Honestly.

I got some stitching done last night. I finally finished the middle section of Autumn Leaves. It's pretty, but a little paler than I would prefer. But so far, it looks good. And I was stitching with a fantastically rich purple last night, Winterberry. What a treat to stitch with such a glorious color! And that is such a silly small pleasure, I know, but seriously . . .

It rained yesterday, but at least we didn't get the ice. I can deal with mud--I skid less on mud than on ice. We're getting our Christmas tree tomorrow. Hopefully, it won't be too cold or too muddy, but I am not wearing my good Timberlands. SO thinks I am a loon because I won't wear them in slop, but they were a Christmas gift, and I don't want to get them messy. I'm funky like that. So I'll be putting up the tree probably Sunday.

10 December 2008

Random act of cuteness

I never got the photos from Assateague uploaded, so here they are. Isn't this little baby cute? We saw it both mornings we were there. I promise, I didn't touch it. I talked to it, but I didn't touch it. This was the only foal we saw. I guess the DNR doesn't encourage their ponies to reproduce with frequency, so they give them birth control. The ponies on the Virginia side don't have these silly restrictions, but then again, their babies get sold . . . for big bucks. We didn't see any over there, probably better in the spring.

I thanked this little guy for letting us use his island. The campground closes in November, so it's back to being theirs and just theirs. Til spring, and then we're blessed to be able to share it with them.

And I had to share this. I mean, does that not make your heart sing? It really was a magic place.

Introducing . . .the one, the only . . .Treaty Fairy

Finished finally. I no likey beads. I no likey braid

09 December 2008

The strangest thing

I went into Michael's yesterday to buy some things for my friend Kathy, for her birthday package. She lives in England and had asked for DMC floss. I've been "on the sleigh now for almost 4 weeks, and it's funny, because I felt so awkward wandering down the cross stitch aisle. Normally, I take my time, and look at the fabrics, and try to think of what I could stitch with them, but yesterday, I just turned around and walked out of the aisle after I selected her present, a gift set of flosses. No looking, no nothing. Could it be that my experiment has caused a change of heart within me and I'll actually use what I've stockpiled? I mean I was saving it for when I was a hermit on the beach. And we're trying for a beach-y feel in my stitching room . . . and I do enjoy staying home now more than going out . . .

I don't think so, but it feels good for now.

I worked til 8 last night and didn't put in many stitches. But that's OK, got a good recipe for homemade peppermint patties, and bought SO a pair of earrings he wanted. Yes, earrings. He wanted something from me he could wear all the time, and wants hoops. Not big hoops (I offered to get him some big ones from the beauty supply store, and we could put a parakeet in them--he does like Pirates of the Caribbean), but nice ones. It took three websites to find ones I like for him--they're gold, not too fancy (who pays $1650 for hoop earrings?), and well priced. I was happy.

08 December 2008

Tuckered out

I haven't been stitching very much this week. I am almost ashamed to admit it, especially since I have that beautiful sewing room, all my own. I'm just tired. Traffic was horrendous all week, with no real excuse other than the wind was blowing, and I was just worn out. I think the fact that the days are so short is probably contributing to this. It's one thing to get home and it's 6:30 and the sun isn't nearly ready to set, and then to get home at 6:30, feed the boys in the cold dark, and then have to cook and all you see out the window is the cold dark. Am I the only person who feels this way?

I did do some stitching yesterday while the Cowboys were on. I had stitched at work at the box office all day--you can't sell tickets to sold-out shows, so the phone calls were pretty short--and then came home and worked on my Prairie Schooler Autumn Leaves. It's very slow going when you cross each x individually. VERY SLOW. I was working a row at a time, because I didn't realize that there was variegation in the colors, but I popped my skein of Pennywort under my Dazor last night, and there's a little difference in colors. Not major, but it's there. So I am back to one at a time. The conversion is pretty good--I am using the small deer motif in the center instead of what they showed, and I changed the color of the mother deer to look more like how deer look here in the winter. It's more like Queen Stones. I am planning on getting some stitching done on Wednesday and Thursday, when I am off anyway. Hopefully I can make some really good progress.

Pumpkin asked about the snowman in my finishes post. That is by Midnight Designs, and is called Heartstruck Quakers. There are two designs included in the chart--pretty good deal that! I am wanting to do all the Heartstruck Series, but this took me a while to accomplish, LOL.

Thank you for all your comments about my stitching room. I am so grateful to have the space. That's also our guest room, so if you all want to come over, we have space. I told SO that you all approved of the room, and he said, "make sure they know you have a dyeing space in the garage too." Y'all, I have a dyeing space in the garage, but I won't make you suffer through photos of that, because, well, right now, there is other stuff on the counter, too.

06 December 2008

My sewing room

OK, so SO showed me how to do this. This is my new sewing room. Our pull out couch with my stufties on it:

The closet doors with some patriotic hangy things my aunt finished for me last year. I love patriotic stuff and I like having them there.

This is my bookcase with most of my charts on it. I've hung my finished wallhanging for Kitty Cat Dreams on there too, til we get my pictures hung up.

The coffee table with my evolving art project of floss in it. On the right is one of my favorite books, a book about Maryland schoolgirl samplers. In the early 1800s, a woman ran a stitching school here in my new town. She's buried at the church up the street from me.

My pride and joy, a very old nightgown that was hand made, even the lace, and lovingly repaired. I imagine this was the maker's wedding nightgown. It must have been special to have been saved and loved like this. I know it is for me, and I hope it is there for happy times like it probably was for her.

And the detail of the bodice. How lovely. One of those things you must have or your life is not quite the same.

Can it really truly be?

I have pictures. They're not the best, because I am still working on learning how to size photos and get them from camera to PC (I'm slow about these things), but these are some things I been working on.

There is a lot more finished on my geisha, LOL.

The kitty box went to England two months ago. My partner liked it. I liked it. I think these Dress It Up buttons are a great buy, as long as you can alter them to fit fabric. SO cut the shank off and drilled two holes through the button to attach it. I like it better than the spider on the original, don't you.

The snowman guy, I'll be making an ornament out. Now that I have all my finishing fabric here, this is easier.

I will try to post photos of my stitching room for you to see. Right now, I'm going to work out and then start dinner. We tried to go see the illumination on Antietam National Battlefield, in Sharpsburg, MD. But it was snowing and the roads were slick. They'll probably hopefully redo it next week. I can't see that anyone got there. It took us 45 minutes to go 15 miles. There were three MAJOR accidents, on bridges on the way. There are a lot of bridges on the way to Sharpsburg, so we came home. NOT COOL.

04 December 2008

It pays to console yourself

I stayed at my mom's house last night because I worked at the theatre til 10, and it would have been another hour trip back to our house to go home, then to get up this morning to leave the house at 6:30, that would have made me a zombie, woke up SO, and just generally made for an unpleasant day on the whole. I still didn't get to bed at a reasonable hour--the twins were messing with each other all night, all hyped up, and then somehow the cat got involved. We didn't get to sleep til 2, and then up at 7:15. ARRRRRGHHHH

Anyway, before I went to bed, instead of sulking over those beautiful Double-flips I posted yesterday (it helped that I focused on how exhausted I was after sorting through those piles of charts last weekend, not to mention the whole charity aspect. I mean, come on, charts or food for starving children or cats?), I started looking through some of the boxes that were left at the house. I am searching for a Vermillion Stitchery pattern that I vaguely remember seeing in the vicinity of these boxes, and figured, since I do these sorts of things, I stuck it in the boxes. Of course, though, because that would make something of a sense, I didn't do it, so I didn't find the chart. DARN IT.

But I did find some charts I misplaced. Yay! And they were good ones. There was an issue of Classic Cross Stitch, with a cool Halloween design, and some cat charts. And, and this brought me infinite joy, a Lanarte kit of a Lippizan stallion. That's been AWOL for a few years, although that was more a function of it was an early birthday present to myself in 2005, bought and delivered right when my grandmother died in October, and so I don't really remember much of what I did for that month, and I don't think I'm responsible for whatever I did. So I have this kit back! Yay. It always makes me feel better to have one of my horse kits close. Is that wierd?

I finished the apron for Mom's Miss Penny doll last night. I am really stoked about that. She's cute, but I don;t like her. Too fiddley. I'll have her finished by Wednesday, though.

03 December 2008

We're in a recession, I am on the sleigh . . .

and they come up with this to tempt me.

Frickety blank blank double fudge, oh my bob, let me kick something here.

I want this. I want it. Oh, son of a gun, I want this. And yet, I understand that I don't need it. I understand I have too much stash. I understand that I work too much and don't have time for stitching, at least not right now.

And yet, I want it.

Off to the post office today

I will be a mailing fiend at lunchtime today. My Secret Sister packages are out the door. One to Tracy, my SS, who was so kind as to adopt a deaf dog in Georgia, even though she lives in Wisconsin. The dog was very close to being put to sleep and she truly is a very kind person to do that. Tracy will be getting a few dog charts, and some dog fabric, as well as a Nora Corbet pixie, and a couple other small things. I put an ornament in there for her to put a photo of her new furbaby, Murphy. And the twins sent her dogs bandannas. The twins feel nothing says, "It's Christmas; let's party" like a festive bandanna. Much better than those antlers I have--Nikki looked like the poor dog from the Grinch, and Robbie prefers that, since he is a famous dog, and Google-able (I may have thumbs, but he gets more Google hits than me, and so is better . . . at least in his mind).

The other package is for my other Secret Sister, Wendy. We belong to a little stitching group that is a fun group of girls. As luck would have it, we share a birthday, and now we're Secret Sisters. How cool is that? I found her some cute primitive charts, and put those in a nice box I got at AC Moore, along with an ornament that I think she would like.

I have one more exchange to do, but that's not due til New Year's, so I have some time. But rather exciting to get something out on time!

01 December 2008

Getting settled in

Do you think you can look at stash so much you lose the urge to do cross stitch? If so, I think I'm there.

My aunt was up for Thanksgiving, and she brought up a load of my stuff to SO's house. I then had to arrange my stitching room, i.e, actually put the stuff away that has been sitting in various boxes all over my house for the last God knows how many years. I had to rearrange my binders of charts; they had been relatively well-organized, but I fell a little behind lately.

I spent the better part of Saturday night organizing. SO kept checking on me. I am sure I was a sight, with my charts all spread out around me, flustered, on the verge of tears, LOL. It was like I would think I had all the bunny charts together, and then I would find one in another binder, but it was a fight to get the chart into the right binder. And then I wasn't sure how I wanted to file; I handled such rough decisions like, "Does 'Angel of the Harvest' belong under 'religious' or 'fall'?" And then all the random charts. But they are all together, and most of my charts are in them, and it gives me a little bit of satisfaction to see them lined up in rows on the bookcase.

One bummer, I had planned to bring my rolling drawer thing up to store fabric and floss in, but it was too wide to fit how I had it pictured in the closet, so I'll be getting another one of those. My mom can use the one I left at the house to store her clothes in.

SO did ask me why I bought all these charts. I had to sit and think about that. I mean, when you initially think about it, it does seem rather foolish to spend this much money on stitching. Even when you factor in the whole, "Well, better this than illegal substances or therapy," it still kinda falls apart. Therapy just costs most of us the co-pay, or else we don't go 'do' therapy. Illegal drugs are pretty self-explanatory. So I was thinking, because I could have probably funded my 401K a little better by being more frugal. But then again, with the economy this bad, and the stock market so bad, that would have been a waste of money. At least this way, I spent the money, and it's still around. So I told him it was an investment.

I still have my magazines to go get, and my fabric. And the kits. But I am getting there. I even have a pretty little coffee table for in the sewing room. It's very cozy in there.

And I finally got to use my stitching light. We were watching the Redskins get trounced yesterday (woo hoo), and I pulled out a project of Mom's (over one, this one) and used the light. SO looked over at one point and said, "Do you realize how small that is?" I nodded and told him that it wasn't even something I picked! Mom picked a little doll that you have to put together. She's very cute, but I'm not handy at putting things together. Fiddly things get to me. The worst part was, Lily, my little black cat who is typically a living angel, knocked the box with the supplies over when she was acting a fool and leaping around the livingroom, including a rinky-dinky little charm, and I can't find the charm now. It's probably down at Mom's--that's where she knocked it over at. So I have this thing with no charm that is tiny, and I have to do multiple accessories. I finally had to put her down, or else some nonsense was occurring.
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